Garden and House Notes

It was in the 70s the weekend before last. So of course, I was away, and therefore had to put the garden to bed in 30’s November weather yesterday. I suppose it could have been worse – I did see the forecast, so avoided doing it today in the 20 degree wind chill and snow showers.

But in much more interesting news, after signing up for it in April, we finally got our solar panels installed! We’re not hooked to the grid quite yet, but we’ve powered ourselves during the day for the past two days. (We have an app where we can track our usage vs what we’re generating – that thing is addictive to watch.) I’m so excited to be using a local energy source, and to be on our way to not having to pay anything out to the electric company.

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The October Man – Ben Aaronovitch

This novella is set in the world of the Rivers of London series, but takes place in Germany, without any of the regular characters making an appearance, except as a passing reference.

Tobias Winter is Germany’s version of Peter Grant, and we get to follow a case of his. We get to meet some different Rivers, and see some particularly German attitudes toward magic, and how it’s starting to become more common again. It’s a fun side story.

Knot of Shadows – Lois McMaster Bujold

Another great Penric and Desdemona story.

Pen and Des are summoned to the healer’s house over a most unusual illness. What they find is even more usual than the healer had suspected. A man who was fished out of the harbor is actually dead, but appears to be alive because he’s being inhabited by another spirit.

What follows isn’t anything earth-shattering – it’s just the untangling of a complex web of mysteries and deaths that occurred at the same time. It’s really hard to explain without going into detail, but it’s a great example of Bujold’s world building, especially around the religion of the five gods in this world. This story gets into the core of what it means to follow the Bastard – Pen and Des draw some very moving conclusions in the end.

The Hermit of Eyton Forest – Ellis Peters

I’ve been cycling through books recently – I’ve actually got three open books on the Kindle at the moment that I haven’t been able to keep attention on long enough to finish. (I’ll probably nope out on one by the end of the year, and another is a short story anthology that I’m really enjoying, but is incredibly dense to read, so I can’t read it straight through.) I realized I’ve been avoiding my physical book to read pile, and as soon as I looked at that, realized I could do some comfort reading.

This particular edition of this book doesn’t have its order on it (most of the books have “The nth Chronicle of Brother Cadfael, of the Benedictine Abbey of Saint Peter and Paul, at Shrewbury” as part of the cover), so I should have read it a few books ago. Fortunately, the stories are pretty standalone, so other than what’s going on with the ongoing battle between Empress Maud and King Stephen that serves as the backdrop of the stories having events that already happened, the actual events of things in Shrewsbury flowed along quite nicely.

This book is really hard to summarize without giving away plot points. What I will say is that there are two murders here, and the reasons for both, and how the individual murderers are punished are so very reflective of the times of the setting, and I really appreciated that. The end of the book ends up as a discussion between two of the characters about the morality of one of the murders, and it’s not how that conversation would have gone between two people today. I just so appreciate the attention to historical details in this book.

Once Upon a Curse

This is a fun anthology of darker turning fairy tale interpretations. The darkness is pretty variable – in some cases, it’s just using themes that are considered dark. And like most anthologies, some of the stories are definitely better than others.

There were two different interpretations of the Morrigan that I enjoyed, and “Magic After Midnight” had an interesting taken on the evil stepmother from Cinderella. Definitely worth a read – might lead you do a few new authors.

Knitting Notes


Pattern: Genmaicha Mitts by Kirsten Kapur
Yarn: Swans Island Ikat Collection Watercolors in the Ikat Indigo/Teal colorway
Needles: Size 2 DPNs

I revisited this pattern that I’d used a number of years ago, and promptly managed to skip the garter stitch border at the top of the ribbing on the wrists.    At least it doesn’t look terrible.   

This is a good pattern – fun with the cables, and not too difficult.     I just wish it had used up a little more yarn… 

Gideon the Ninth – Tamsyn Muir

I know I’ve mentioned before that I get a really stubborn streak about not reading books that get crazy popular, and this book definitely fits that definition. As time went on, I started to see more “this really isn’t what the hype makes it out to be” reviews, and one of my friends (whose taste I trust) had it on her bookcase and said she’s enjoyed it, so when they gave away this book free (I think it was right before the second book in the series came out in paperback), I grabbed it. Still took me a while to read it.

The most common phrase associated with this book is “Lesbians necromancers in Space!”. Which isn’t wrong, but turns out to be a terrible summary. Yes, there’s plenty of lesbian interest, but no overt romance, and while it’s far enough in the future that space travel happens, and the characters come from a bunch of different planets, the main action of the book takes place on a single planet.

So, can I do a better summary? Nope. I totally get why this book became so popular. It’s different. I never really knew what was going to happen next (or, if I did, I ended up not really understanding why until later.) I am very interested to see where it goes next, because I was certainly not expecting what happened at the end of this book. (And seeing the summary of book three really has me wondering what the heck is going on.) So, I guess I’m converted. The hype is not unfounded.

Garden Notes

We have had frost the last two mornings, so today’s gardening was done in the afternoon, after things warmed up. (It’s gorgeous right now – we have all the south facing windows open to take advantage of the 60-degree temps.)

The big thing for today – the trellis is down. This was mostly done so I could easily plant garlic to the right of it. (There are green stakes around the corners of that part of the bed, just so I can tell where it is before things start coming up in the Spring.) I’ve put the cloves from two locally grown heads in there, so we’ll see how that goes.

The trellis is not fully put away yet because of the runner beans. Today’s note to self: if I grown beans against the trellis again next year, string that side with twine that I can cut away. I like to store the green netting inside, so I’m having to unwind all the bean stems before I can do that. I got about half of them done, but I just do not have that much patience. Fortunately, I guess, this year’s bean crop wasn’t really that good. I don’t want to picture unwinding a whole side of beans.

I also pulled out the marigolds – they were looking pretty ratty. The brassicas and calendula are still going strong.

And finally, here we have the two dahlias I’m going to try and overwinter in the garage. The one on the right is the seed grown larger one – the tubers are not the biggest. The left is a red bedding dahlia I also grew from seed. I figure if it survives, it’ll look good out front.

Knitting Notes


Pattern: Argus by Leila Raven
Yarn: Quince and Co Lark in the Iceland colorway
Needles: Size 8, 9 and 10 circs and Size 9 and 10 DPNs

I can’t believe I started this back in April – it was not a hard pattern to work with at all.     Granted, I did let it lie fallow for stretches at a time over the summer when I had other things going on.   This really is a great pattern – very well written and easy to follow.    The set in sleeves were fun to make, and she had you finish the top sections individually in a way that I wouldn’t have thought to do, but made perfect sense as written.

Vision in Silver – Anne Bishop

In the world of this series, humans live in what we would call North America at the sufferance of the terre indigenene – the Others who lived here before humans ever found the land. Their treaties give them full control of the lands they have has shared with humans, and humans occasionally need to be reminded where the real power of what the story calls Thaiasia resides.

Up until this book, I had a pretty good separation from the story – shape shifters, elemental spirits and blood prophets don’t exist in my world. And while humans really do keep proving themselves to be the villains of this series, it felt like a real ramp up into the real world this time around.

The human allies of the Other’s Courtyard are reporting that they are facing food shortages over the winter, which baffles the Others – they know all the farms are producing plenty of food. But then, one of the local wolves, returning to Lakeside on the train, runs into a small girl traveling alone, who turns out to be the daughter of police Lt. Montgomery. He had been forced to leave Lizzy behind with her mother when he was transferred to Lakeside and Lizzy’s mother refused to go with him. There’s no sign of her mother, and Lizzy is too young to be on that train alone. What they uncover has much larger implications for the whole of Thaiasia.

There’s a real sense of impending doom hanging over this story at this point, because the only humans the story interacts with are friendly to the Others, and they are clearly in the minority right now. There’s hope that they can turn things around, but things sure aren’t looking good right now. It feels very true to life at the moment.