Song for the Basilisk – Patricia A. McKillip

Read for the Once Upon a Time X Reading Challenge.    (It’s become somewhat of a tradition to read a McKillip book for this challenge.)

The boy called Rook was brought to the bards at Luly as a child, not remembering his own name, only that he had been born anew in the fire that claimed the lives of the rest of his family.    At Luly, he found a home, but never became a bard, because becoming a bard meant journeying to the Hinterlands to find your gift, and something held him to Luly.

Interspersed with this story is one in the city of Berylon, where Arioso Pellior, duke of the Pellior House, whose sign is the Basilisk, has seized power by killing the entire family of the Duke of Tourmalyne.     This is obviously Rook’s family, and while the main line is dead, the House’s distant relatives remember, and try to plot for the day when they can take revenge.    It so happens that Tourmalyne’s greatest gift to the city is a school of music, which even the House of Pellior cannot close down.

When Rook’s own son has grown, Rook finally remembered his own name, and the terrible night that killed his family.     He’s ready to journey to the Hinterlands, to come into the power of a bard, and then return to Berylon.     The story from there is a bit of a dream, set within an opera staged for Pellior’s birthday.    It’s a dreamy story, and I’ll admit, the end came quickly, and not quite as expected.      Another fascinating McKillip book.


Once Upon a Time X – 3/21/16 to 6/21/16

I’m posting this a little late (so much to do last weekend), but it’s one of my favorite reading times of year again – my excuse to concentrate on all things magical in my TBR pile.   Per usual, I’m doing Challenge the First, which is at least five books in the challenge categories of fantasy, folklore, fairy tales, or mythology.   I’ve already done my traditional toss of the TBR bookcase to bring those books to the fore, though I thought I had a slightly more scholarly book in there that I’m not seeing, so another toss may be in order.   I’m so happy it’s Spring, and Once Upon a Time season again!

Knitting Notes

Finally, I’m done with the Knit Picks Stroll Merlot Heather yarn.    I normally don’t like to do that many hexipuffs in one color, but I just needed to get rid of that yarn.    It felt like it was going on forever, but it’s gone now!!

That technically gets rid of all my unassigned fingering weight yarn, other than my leftover Palette.    Though finishing Starshower left me with some more, but that’s new, so I’m not counting it.   (And I’m feeling way more motivated to do something with that.)

I also cast on a new Lolo Hat, with Knit Picks Wool of the Andes Superwash yarn, in Columbine Heather.   I am far to lazy to take a picture this weekend, so this will probably be the only mention of that here until I finish it, and can take a final picture.

My Ride

So, I had a bit of an end of an era last weekend.    I upgraded my ride.

I bought my first new car (second new to me car) back in September 2002.   It was a bit of a rush job – my original car, a sometime in the 90s Honda Accord (91, I think) I had bought used in the summer of 1999 had succumbed to rust and time, and I wasn’t willing to put any more money into it.    I decided to buy a Hyundai because of the five year complete warranty.   (I was gun shy.)   I ended up with a white Accent that at least had AC, because there were pretty much no other power features in that car.     But you know what, it was exactly what I needed at that time, and it served me well.

But I was 25 when I bought that car.    I’m just shy of 39 now.    And I aged out of the car a while ago.   (As evidenced by the fact that the best picture of it I could find is below.)     But I really enjoyed not having a car payment.     And for a while, that was enough.

But two years of a thousand dollars in repairs just to be able to get a sticker were enough for me.    After my last sticker in December, I resolved I was getting a new car this Fall.   (I had a whole savings plan to pad my down payment laid out.)     And then, the little old man’s alternator gave out.    So last Saturday, I went car shopping.    I bought a Hyundai Tucson.   I’d never seen myself owning an SUV, but we’d been talking it over, and the extra cargo space (which we need about twice a year, but will be so nice for those two times a year), and having something more comfortable that we could bring on trips (we did all our traveling in BF’s car – he didn’t really like driving the little old man – he didn’t fit in it very well) made that my choice.    (BF also has a Hyundai – a Sonata – I do have to say, Hyundai has treated us well.)

Monday, it snowed.     The City of Portland, in its infinite wisdom, did not treat the Hill of Doom on Congress Street at Stroudwater.   As I approached, it was icy, and there was a Prius stuck in the outer lane (lucky me gets to go up the hill in my morning commute).    At this point, my stomach sunk, as it has for the past number of years in similar conditions.   But you know what?   I have all wheel drive now.   And I got up that hill with no problems.    It was glorious.

I’m also coming off a drive down to Boston this weekend.    (BF’s brothers were both in town, so we met up.)    I actually drove it all the way into Roslindale myself (I made BF take it into Allston when we decided to do lunch there – I haven’t had time to increase my intestinal fortitude that much yet), and drove it back from our hotel in Natick the next morning.     And it was also glorious for a road trip.

I love this car.    I do hope to drive this one into the ground too – so here’s hoping to at least another thirteen and half years.

Sounds and Sweet Airs – Anna Beer

Librarything Early Reviewers book

This book tells the stories of eight women composers, all the way back to the Renaissance Medici court.    I had previously only heard of two of them, which is one of the points of the book, and is also sad.

I minored in music in college (something I am using even less today than I am my Zoology major, but I digress).     I’d found a lot of new composers I’d never heard of through the courses I took for my minor, but you would definitely get the sense from them that women just didn’t compose up until the Romantic period.     Which isn’t at all true, but there were definite barriers to women getting noticed in musical circles, which you can imagine, based on women’s restricted roles in past times.

I think the most disappointing thing I learned is that the marriage of Robert and Clara Schumann was not the romantic musical partnership you get from the quick gloss in a history of music overview course.     Not that I should be  at all surprised, but it’s a little sad that she was more famous than her husband while alive (and more talented), but she’s mostly remembered in the literature more as his wife, and keeper of his legacy, than as a musician and composer in her own right.

This was a fascinating read – it was nice to see some stories of composers going back further in time than I had knowledge of before, and I do hope this is the start of these (and other) women getting wider exposure.

Knitting Notes

Pattern: Starshower by Hilary Smith Callis
Yarn: Tess’ Designer Yarns Peruvian sock in the Seabreeze colorway
Needles: Size 7 circs

The construction of this cowl is really interesting.   It starts flat, and is eventually joined to be knit in the round.    Once in the round, the main pattern repeat is more easily done on the wrong side, so you flip the work when you’re knitting those rows, so you can better see the pattern.     That was cool, and kept things interesting.

You really do need to block this pattern, but I don’t like how the pattern instructed you to do it – it basically put a line straight across your chest.    So I do need to reblock this before I can wear it.

Knitting Notes

Pattern: Siksak by Marja Suomela
Yarn: Patternworks Bretton Heathers and Reyholds Sea Wool
Needles: Size 3 and 4 circs and Size 4 DPNs

This is a pretty cool pattern – it’s actually incredibly simple, but looks really complex, compared to the effort.   And it’s a great stash buster.    I’d definitely make it again.

Moon Over Soho – Ben Aaronovitch

We’re back with London police constable Peter Grant – the junior partner (really, the junior section of the department, since there’s only two of them) in the supernatural division of the Metropolitan police.

We open to jazz musicians seemingly dying of natural causes after gigs – not enough for most people to notice, but Peter senses some magic from one of the bodies, and starts putting two and two together.     There seems to be a pattern going back to the 40s, and it may just involve his father, who has finally kicked his drug habit, and may just be ready to revive his washed up career.

There’s also the set up for who I assume to be the big bad of the series – a dark wizard who appears to be based out of Oxford.     That story line definitely has promise.

I do enjoy these books – Peter just has the best outlook on life – he’s been thrust into this world of magic, keeps running into things he really can’t explain, and basically will sigh, and move in deeper.     I do love his voice.