Here’s the sky scarf for January and February. There’s a slightly depressing amount of white and gray, but what can I do – I’m only reporting the sky…
Month: February 2015
Clariel – Garth Nix
I was so excited to see that there was another Old Kingdom book coming out. So excited in fact, that when I bought the book, I sat on it for a full month because I was afraid I’d hyped it up too much in my mind, and I’d be disappointed. Happily, I was not. I can’t say that I like it more than my favorite book (Lirael), but it brought some welcome detail to the story of the Old Kingdom.
Set about six hundred years before the time of Sabriel, etc, Clariel is the granddaughter of the current Abhorsen, and a cousin of the King. Though she grew up in the Great Forest, she has moved to the capital city of Belisaere because her mother has been invited to join the High Goldsmith’s guild. Clariel only wants to stay in the forest, especially when they get to the city and she realizes that people have wanted her and her mother there because of their relations. The Old King is dying, and his granddaughter, the only direct heir, is missing. There are many forces at work angling to take over the monarchy, and any indirect relation of the king may be used in that game.
What I really liked about this book was the detail it filled in about the past of the Old Kingdom. In the Sabriel and Lirael’s time, the Kingdom has been in decline, so you only have hints of the grand capital city that once existed. I also really liked the whole Abhorsen family – by Sabriel’s time, they had dwindled to only a direct line, but at this time, there are aunts and uncles and cousins in abundance. It gave another view of why this kingdom would fight to survive, even as it was brought so low in the future.
Clariel also has another identity that the author confirms at the end, and it was nice to have that thread of a story explained.
I enjoyed this so much that I immediately read Sabriel when I was done, so I could continue my time in the Old Kingdom. I do love these books.
The Rowan – Anne McCaffrey
Anyone with any Talent on the entire planet of Altair heard when the Child was the only survivor of a mud slide in her mining village. Her anguished mental screams led them to her. Unable to narrow down exactly who her parents were, she was simple known as The Rowan, after the mining company, and was raised as a ward of the planet, who recognized she was the best Talent ever born there.
The Rowan was indeed talented, becoming a Prime – the focus telekinetic in one of the main towers that moved goods and people throughout the Nine Star League. But she was also lonely, until the day an equally powerful Talent reached out for help from his home world, as they were invaded by aliens. She and Jeff Raven eventually marry, and found a Talented dynasty that will dominate the Talented pool in the Nine Star league.
I’ll admit, this was another reread that didn’t quite hold up for me. I just didn’t like how fast Rowan and Jeff were instantly in love. (Not that I minded their relationship after that – it just seemed rather abrupt and here – I’ve solved a story problem!) I don’t have any of the other books in the series actually in the house, so I’ll have to wait a bit to see how I still feel about the rest of the series. ( And I can already think of one relationship in Damia that I’m potentially not going to like at all.)
So, let’s add to the last entry:
2015-02-22: 0.1 (data ends here for now)
It’s stopped being funny. Granted, last Sunday was supposed to be a blizzard, and wasn’t. (Hilariously, York County got 18 inches and we got about five – my kind of cutoff line), but it still won’t stop. And it’s still freaking cold. Thank god tomorrow is March,and when the sun does manage to come out, it is much stronger. Because if this doesn’t end soon, I’m going to go crazy.
A few more pictures:
Pegasus in Flight – Anne McCaffrey
I decided I had to bite the bullet and finish out the second book of the Talent Saga, to see if it held up as well (or not, really) as the last had. Fortunately, this book was written a good twenty plus years after To Ride Pegasus, and holds up much better than that one did.
This book is a continuous story, and takes place about two generations after the last book. Talents are more established on Earth, and their value for certain work is recognized. At the same time, people have pretty much over run the planet, so all of Earth is rushing to get a space station built, as the first step in colonizing the stars.
The book is also a bridge to the Tower and the Hive series, which brings the use of Talents to colonize space to its logical conclusion. (This book and The Rowan – the first Tower and the Hive book were published the same year.) That means that Talents are expanding, and they run into Peter Reidenger, the first telekinetic capable of moving entire starships by himself.
I will say, I’m still not sure the entire concept of this series holds up, but I was happy enough that I immediately grabbed The Rowan, so I could continue the ride.
Let’s recap, shall we?
Snowfall totals at the Portland International Jetport:
The official data leaves off here, but we got a little more on 2/12. Oh, and we’ve got another 14 to 20 bearing down on us tonight. So, that’s 50.5 inches and some change on the ground, and another foot or so on the way.
Have I mentioned we haven’t gone above freezing since this started? Now, we are certainly not Boston (which is all over the news right now), but we are an old city in the Northeast, and we are not built to have this much snow stick around for this long. It’s gone past ridiculous to depressing.
I’ve worked from home more in the last three weeks than I have in the past three years. (And believe me, I am grateful for the option.) I’ve managed to hit the gym twice since this started, because my car has taken up near permanent residence inside the parking garage at work (it’s there right now, actually). I’m very happy I joined a recipe subscription service at the beginning of the year, because the happy side effect of buying all the food for my meals once a week is that I don’t have to do the last minute how many meals do I need in the house stat?! scramble. (Though today was my regular shopping day, and despite showing up at 8:30 in the morning, it was interesting, to say the least.)
This needs to end soon. I’m sick of wearing long underwear. I bought gloves that were more expensive than any single item of clothing I’ve bought in at least a year, and they’re my new best friends. I don’t sit down without a blanket on anymore. I’m really getting sick of this. Can’t we at least get some above freezing temps?
Some picture “highlights”:
This is the basement door. It’s a full length door, at ground level.
You can just barely see this, but behind the snow bank (which is close to giving BF fits), you can see that the snow pack is almost level with the back porch landing.
Let’s play spot the hollies!
These are next door. And are not really all that bad, in the grand scheme of things.
This is at work. Inside the parking garage. The garage is built into a hill, so at this point, the floor is pretty much at ground level, where you see the opening (non-opening is hill). So this is what was pushed over the side from the top of the garage, and is now encroaching inside.
Can’t wait to see what thing looks like tomorrow.
Pattern: TPHPE by Heather Zoppetti
Yarn: Cascade 220 Heathers in green and Knit Picks Wool of the Andes Superwash in the Columbine Heather colorway
I’d read about double knitting in a couple of different places recently, and when I came across this pattern while looking for things I could use to stash bust, I decided to needed to try it.
Full confession: I cast this one six different times – it took me that long to wrap my head around it. But once I got there, I really liked it. I did end up having to stitch mark every five pattern stitches (so ten stitches within that) just to keep my place in the pattern, and I still made a couple small mistakes, but all and all, it’s good, and I really like this technique. The fabric is nice and thick, too. I really want to try a hat with double knitting.
Yarn-wise, I needed two yarns with more contrast. These are ok, but it is a little hard to see the pattern. I also picked two that while both worsted, are probably on opposite sides of what that size range that would allow, so what should have been a square is more rectangular. So, note to self, try to use the same brand of yarn if I try this in the future.
Miles, Mystery & Mayhem – Lois McMaster Bujold
This ombinus contains two novels (Cetaganda and Ethan of Athos) and a short story (“Labyrinth”) that all involve genetic manipulation. Cetaganda is the first chronologically, but was written last, which left me with a few questions that were answered by the author’s afterwards, once I figured out the written order.
The Cetegandans are one of the villains of this series – presented as ruled by a warrior class of ghem lords. However, this book reveals that the haut lords rule all of Cetaganda, and it’s the haut women especially that weald this control, by owning and controlling the genetic history of their entire race. Miles Vorkosigan is mixed up in this when he and his cousin Ivan are sent as emissaries to the Empress’s funeral. They’re attacked when they arrive, but their attacker flees, leaving a weapon and a mysterious staff behind. What the staff actually is is a fascinating glimpse into Cetagandan society.
Ethan of Athos only peripherally involves Miles – Ethan is a young doctor on the planet Athos, which was settled by men. Only men. They’ve been on their own long enough (and with enough government censorship of outside sources) that they believe women to all be evil. But, even with the uterine replicators that allow them to create new children, they still need ovarian stock, and the stock they brought with them is failing. After an order placed at great expense to Jackon’s Whole comes back filled with trash, Ethan is drafted to personally place a new order. He ends up at the nearby space station, and finds an entirely strange world (heck, there are women!) where he’s mixed up in a genetic mystery. (The story “Labyrinth” deals with some of the fallout from this story, and does feature Miles.)
These stories were amazing – really thought provoking about what humans could do once we truly gain the ability to be complete masters of our genetic destiny. This is what I find to be great sci fi – taking something we have some control over today, and chasing it out to its logical extremes. Really great read.
In stash busting news, I realized that this Schaeffer Heather yarn I’ve been sitting on for ages is fingering weight, so I added it to the hexipuff pile. (I’m really sad she retired – I did love that entire yarn line.)
I also cast on some Netherfield Socks, a pattern I’ve been sitting on for a while, with some Tess’ Designer Yarns Super sock that I’ve also been sitting on for a while. I’ll be honest, I’m not sure I’ll keep these on the needles. The pattern is fiddly. (It doesn’t help that it’s toe up, and I prefer the leg down patterns.) The main stitch pattern isn’t making sense to me, and it’s driving me crazy that I have to knit across the foot first (I’ve several times had to pick out the pattern from those stitches and go again.) I have several other patterns I’ve been sitting on that would not be as fiddly, so I may go with one of those, and make sure I work out the stitch pattern first before I try these again.