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playing Hestia

This weekend we stayed home for once – with the renovations in full swing, we’ve been going to the lake house most weekends.

Sunday we went to a wine blending event. We were given young Syrah, Merlot and Cabernet Franc wines, and challenged to try different proportions to create a tasty blend. We’ve been to a few of these. One winery does it as a Valentine’s Day event (“create a blend to reflect your love”, oy, but it’s fun), another did it more as an educational thing with lectures from their winemaker. This one did it as a friendly contest; I’m proud to say I won for our table and came in second overall.

Then on Sunday I was a domestic goddess; shopping at both the farmer’s market and the supermarket, plus the toy store to buy a small birthday gift for my nephew. His family will be visiting us over his birthday; we’re taking him to a ropes course / ziplining place, but that will be a couple days after his birthday and I wanted him to have something to open (he’s 8, and lives on the opposite coast so I don’t get to see him often). Then I made soft pretzels and mozzarella cheese from scratch, plus a chicken tortilla bake for dinner. Also I did some finances and we dropped off my husband’s truck for some regular maintenance.

Unfortunately I seem to have done something to my back. On Saturday before going to the winery, I did 10km on the rowing machine; while stretching afterward, something in my lower back went *sproing!* It doesn’t really hurt, but definitely feels a bit stiff and out of whack. I didn’t dare row Sunday (well, just a very light 1km to see how it felt), so I biked to the farmer’s market just to get in some exercise. It did make buying flowers and getting them home a bit more challenging!

I miss the other house, though! Apparently they’re getting the cabinets installed, so we’ll have those to see next weekend. Unfortunately there has been some drama; when they shipped the stone for our new countertops, the slab broke! We went and picked new ones, but they are getting a new delivery in tomorrow that we want to go see, just in case there’s something we fall in love with. I like the soapstone we picked, but I think Ted would prefer something with more visible veining.

Mirrored from Dichroic Reflections.

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the aging of Alanna

Tamora Pierce’s first book, Alanna, was published in 1983 – the year before I started college at Pierce’s own alma mater. This explains why I never read her books at the proper age, why they’re not part of my formative canon as they are for so many younger fantasy readers, and why I’m just getting around to them now.

I wonder whether they will fill that role for budding fantasy readers today, because this, Pierce’s first series, hasn’t aged that well. I read her Circle series a few years back and don’t remember the same issues, so probably these are mostly first-book (or at least first-series) writer issues. First, I recognize this as the source of some of those tropes Diana Wynne Jones’ Tough Guide to Fantasyland land and similar writings are making fun of – the violet eyes, for instance. Alanna is a bit of a Mary Sue, too, in the way everyone loves her – in some cases, instantly. Sir Myles affection for Alanna feels a little creepy to me and I was honestly relieved when the Mother Goddess herself told Alanna “He only wants to be your father”.

There’s the gender thing. Even though the whole premise of the book is about Alanna being a girl set on becoming a knight, the gender stereotypes are reinforced heavily and often. “Alanna realized that boys didn’t understand girls any better than girls understood boys” – well, it’s understandable if her fellow squires and pages, having lived in an almost exclusively male world for years, don’t understand girls and view them as a thing apart, but I would hope Alanna is comfortable with boys by that point! The rigid gender roles seem a little odd in a country that has had warrior maidens in the past but gender perceptions have varied enough through Earth’s history, and have varied rapidly enough, that I think that bit is realistic.

And then there’s the way a couple of male characters, sympathetic ones, forcibly kiss Alanna after she’s told them no, and this is presented as just peachy fine – in fact, she learns to like it. And she’s told, again by the Goddess, that wanting to avoid entangling relationships due to her career goals means she’s afraid of love and she needs to get over it.

The important determination for if the book is dated, of couse, isn’t whether those things bug me but if they’d bug a 12-year-old. I think some of them might, though not as much as they bother me. In reverse order: the forcible kissing would not have bothered me at all when I was 12 back in 1979 – I know, because sex enforced through the the dragon or fire lizard links in the Pern books didn’t phase me. I think awareness has risen enough that it might be a problem for a kid now. Same for the suspicions of Sir Myles, and probably for the gender-difference reinforcement – then again, the last time someone told me men and women are inherently different was about half an hour ago, literally.

As for the other items… common tropes are not a problem to anyone who is coming to them freshly, and I think the way everyone loves Alanna would have felt like wish-fulfillment to be as a reader. (Wish fulfillment is what you call a Mary Sue when you aren’t being critical! After all, there’s a reason there are so many of them. Overall, I think I’d have loved the series, even if I had a couple nits to pick.

Mirrored from Dichroic Reflections.

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to drive or to Pride?

For some reason my computer doesn’t want to access this site right now. Phone typing is slow. Oh well.

Ted heads off to the Netherlands today so I’m on my own for the weekend. I’m dithering over whether to go to the lake house or stay home and attend Portland Pride on Sunday. Either way I’d be doing something – either the long solo drive or dealing with the heat and crowds at Pride.

Consideration for the house: if I can leave work at noon, I’d need to go home change, pack clothes and food and put out extra food and water, for the cats, (say, half an hour), get gas, and drive down. It would be 2.5 or maybe even over 3 hours with Friday afternoon traffic. It would be exciting to go – they’ve gotten the siding on, exterior painting started, insulation being put in. If all goes well, they will be dry-walling next week. It might be useful if I can take photos of the wiring before they cover it, though it all the insulation is in it might be too late already. I’ve been more comfortable driving on local highways lately and it would be good for me to do a bit more distance driving, even if it still makes me uncomfortable. And I can row, or kayak or both. Also, we forgot to put up the barriers against geese last time we left!

Arguing against the solo road trip, we’ll be there next weekend anyway, and the weekend after (and all July 4 week) so I would just be seeing this all a week later (except the wiring won’t be visible). Also, getting my boat out is not that easy, since it’s sitting in front of the house and I’d have to take it all the way around, without hitting a tree on the way. And I’d be the one stuck washing goose poop off the dock, all on my own. The other big thing is that I haven’t planned meals, though I do have enough food, and most of all, it would mean I’d be pretty much all alone all weekend. If the drive down sucks and is anxiety making, I’d still have to drive back, with no other options.

Consideration for going to Pride: it should be fun. I can offer support for people I want to support. I can even be part of it instead of just a spectator: I can march in the parade with my company’s contingent. The weather is supposed to be perfect – sunny and 81F. I’ve never been to Pride, or much of any activist parade, and I feel like kind of a slacker.

Against it: not going to the house. Dealing with what might be overwhelming crowds and the inevitable lack of enough toilets. It might still be uncomfortably hot if the forecast isn’t right – it hit the high 90s a few days ago. Also, as a cishet ally, is it better to go and show support, or to stay away and leave the LGBTQ+ community to celebrate on its own? (And yes, I totally am making this decision all about me, but in my head and in my blog I think that’s reasonable. If I go to the parade, I will not expect cookies, I promise – or rather, I kind of will, at least in my own head, for stepping out of my own comfort zone re crowds etc, but not because it’s Pride specifically.)

I don’t know, but I have about 2 hours to decide.

Mirrored from Dichroic Reflections.

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old stuff, new eyes

It is boggling my mind to realize I was blogging and uploading poems online nearly 20 years ago now. I’ve just figured out how to log into my old old Moveable Type blog (unfortunately it was long ago hacked and I can’t figure out how to get rid of the ad page that shows up on its main page, but the individual entries show up OK).

It’s also mind-boggling how much the world has changed in those almost-20 years. I linked to a poem from 2002 on a Ravelry post today and promptly had someone point out (kindly and gently) that while she loved aspects of said poem, my line “Like her female chromosomes, so surgery can remove the essence” could be hurtful to those whose female-gender identity has nothing to do with chromosomes. I have changed the line to refer to eye color instead, and to masks instead of surgery.

(And I know I said the world has changed, but I’m pretty sure it hasn’t – I do think there are more trans people than there once were only because it’s easier to recognize who you are when there’s already a vocabulary and concepts there, but clearly some people have alwyas been trans, and it’s more climate and perceptions that have changed rather than facts.)

On the plus side, now I’ve reacquainted myself with how to log in and edit my oldest entries, and reacquainted myself with another favorite from all those years ago.

House update: Things were going very fast, then not much happened last week – the contractors move their crews around to balance different projects’ needs. But the first floor is framed in, and the project manager told Ted they expect to have the second floor done this week.

Mirrored from Dichroic Reflections.

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un homage au Notre Dame

Do you know the story about the man who wandered around a cathedral being built, asking each person what they were doing? The stone masons told him about cutting rocks to fit togehter so perfectly that they formed arches and flying buttresses; the scultors told about modeling allegories and saints; glassworkers spoke of telling stories in beautiful images that would teach churchgoers the stories they didn’t know how to read, and the woodworkers spoke of walls and screens, roofs and spires. Lastly he put the same question to an old woman sweeping away the dust and shavings of the day. “What am I doing?” she replied, leaning on her broom. “I’m building a cathedral to the glory of God”

That’s the faith it needs to build a cathedral that takes hundreds of years, but I don’t think it even matters whether you believe in God, only whether you are a good, decent and sane person. (You see, I am completely biasing my argument by ignoring those whose God is in their own cruel image, no better than a demon to punish those of whom they disapprove.) If you believe, then a God formed the universe whose workings and laws resulted in humanity, and it’s fitting to express our gratitude by creating whatever beauty we can muster in Their honor. If you don’t believe, then humans striving for goodness created the image of a God to reflect the best that they could find or imagine within themselves, and a cathedral is the physical expression of that striving.

(Again, I am simply omitting the Puritans and those who want a God only to be someone stronger and meaner than themselves who can punish their enemies. I don’t believe that kind of thinking can build a cathedral.)

There was and is beauty and truth in Notre Dame, even if the truth you find depends on which side you examine it from. It’s pure horror to see the spire fall, even if the bell towers were saved. I trust it will be rebuilt once again.

Mirrored from Dichroic Reflections.

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Renovation wtfery

Last night we signed the contract and scanned and sent it to the general contractor (GC). However, we gave the key to the contractor once we had a verbal agreement with him, since it’s hard to know how often we’ll be able to get down here – we were here at the lake last week, as I wrote, and came back this weekend to finish clearing downed branches and clear up a few more. We got to the house tonight – I’ll be working from home tomorrow.

Then we walked inside ….. and found they had put down a paper mat from the front door all the way up the stairs, left a couple ladders down in the garage, knocked down the back deck where the kitchen will expand into that space, and packed up most of our kitchen …. into unlabeled boxes.

There was no part of the contract that said they’d do any packing for us – and I certainly don’t want to pay for it! We did tell them we needed advance notice for what needed to be packed by the, but wouldn’t you think they give us a rough schedule first? And maybe add a few notes to say what’s in which box?

This isn’t really a bad thing: it’s not like they’re invading the house we actually live in. And I’d rather have a contractor eager to get started than one that didn’t show up. Plus, given our previous difficulties in finding a contractor, we are going to be Very Positive in talking to them about this. But still … wtf??

Mirrored from Dichroic Reflections.

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house expansion – on the cusp

Very nearly ready to go! I got a call yesterday that the permit is complete, and and email that the contractor updated the contract per our comments and it’s ready for us to sign. We either need top print, sign, scan and email back, or else sign it in person when we’re there this weekend. Apparently it’s a week until the excavator can get there, then it’s time to break ground!

Mirrored from Dichroic Reflections.