wanderer

I didn't realize cross-posting had failed

I have been happily assuming that my posts from Dreamwidth were crossposting here, but apparently in May they stopped. Maybe/probably this is something that I could fix with an application of effort, but I think I'm going to take it as a sign that I should simply stop the cross-posting.

I do still read here on very rare occasions, but not often enough to make me anything like a reliable friend and reader to my LJ-only friends. Some of you I see in other locations, but I know it's not like the interactions we had once upon a time here at LJ.

I'll probably be back here to post only to announce when Lagoonfire, a sequel to The Inconvenient God comes out, but time is long and life is surprising--we may well run into each other elsewhere.

Take care, and if you want to find me online, the best places to look are Dreamwidth (asakiyume.dreamwidth.org) and Twitter, where I'm @morinotsuma.
wanderer

oak flower season

When you see one bundle ....

bundle of fallen oak flowers

... there are likely to be more

tumbleweed clusters of oak flowers

These are fallen flowers from oak trees! Sometimes the tumble-bundles can get quite sizable.

Look at them lining this path

oak-flower path

Another photo:

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That one shows the trees, too--healthy and strong this year, so different from the years they've been under siege from gypsy moth caterpillars.

Musical note: here is a lovely tune from the 2003 Fullmetal Alchemist cartoon, played on a music box. This entry was originally posted at https://asakiyume.dreamwidth.org/938828.html. Comments are welcome at either location.
feathers on the line

Wednesday reading

I finished CSE Cooney's The Twice-Drowned Saint, the first (and longest) of four novellas in the collection A Sinister Quartet, which I'm hoping to read and review in its entirety before it comes out--in two weeks or so!

I think this may be my favorite thing I've read by Claire--and I've read lots, all of which I've enjoyed. But this was just--it was a whole other level. It reaches for something really big and achieves it.

It starts out an acrobatic tale of an angelic city that's really a kind hell hole--(most of) the angels are creepy abominations who delight in human sacrifices offered them by starving refugees desperate for the safe haven the city represents in a war-torn world. OVERTONES, right?

(I say "acrobatic" because Claire has this prodigious imagination and she lets it run all over the place--it darts hither and yon like fireflies and then holds you fixed while it dances on a high wire like Philippe Petit. She's a roller coaster, but if you just let yourself ride the roller coaster, it's actually taking you to a destination.)

So the angelic city is pustular and awful, but there's more beneath the surface waiting to erupt than at first meets the eye. Our narrator, for instance is a secret saint (in this story, saints are humans who can see angels and who have a special relationship with one particular angel). And then another saint is revealed, and. Well, stuff happens. In the end I was left with the impression of Hieronymus Bosch blended with CS Lewis--in the best possible way.

Here are some quotes that run the gamut:
He'd sung to me that day, in that way angels have of singing (which was a little like having your head held under water and your feet set on fire, while being tickled)

...

Mom was born with an ineffable talent to make herself and everyone else around her believe her every lie, and if she wanted to teach me how to bake our ancestral benison cake from a recipe that didn’t yet exist, who was I, merely her daughter, to argue with her?

...

He was like a cricket some kid had poured diatomite over. He was a murderer. A fanatic for the angels. Worse, a teenager.

And the two that are words to live by:
“Weakness is killin’ someone for their bread. Strength is splittin’ your last loaf with them.” --Right? RIGHT?!

and

“it is never good for gods or angels or human-kin to forget the world beyond their walls.” --AMEN

and hell, one extra, because it's a great benediction:

“Be safe, my sister; be swift and sly!”

On the strength of this story alone, A Sinister Quartet is worth purchasing, but from the excerpts I heard the other day, the other three stories will also be wonderful. Now I'm on to Jessica Wick's An Unkindness--with ancient-ballad-level menacing faery folk. This entry was originally posted at https://asakiyume.dreamwidth.org/938505.html. Comments are welcome at either location.
wanderer

Audiobook!

It's quite a breathtaking thing when a friend likes your story so much she declares she'll do audio for it--and then assembles a team to do the sound engineering and proofing! But that's what CSE Cooney did for The Gown of Harmonies, and now it's live and available via Audible, Amazon, and iTunes.

We're in the final week of May--my hope is that this new format will get a new batch of people interested in the story and lead to some more purchases--> more money for the Food Bank of Western New England!

I know you all who read here already know about the story and have probably already purchased it if you're able (and if it's the sort of story you like), but if you know people who like audiobooks, if you can let them know, I'd be very grateful! And if you yourself like audiobooks, Claire is a *fabulous* reader. There's an audio sample at the various links.

Audiobook cover is ... same as ebook cover, but square

Audible link

Amazon audiobook link

Apple (iTunes) audiobook


Thank you, as always, for your time and attention! This entry was originally posted at https://asakiyume.dreamwidth.org/938389.html. Comments are welcome at either location.
feathers on the line

A swarm of bees

Two days ago was World Bee Day. One day ago, in the evening, my neighbor up the street reported on FB that he had a swarm of bees in the branches of one of his oak trees.

A swarm of bees! I've never been so lucky as to see a swarm of bees. A swarm of bees is like a fairy hunt, a wild racing, everyone together, the queen at the lead. HOW COOL.

Today, a woman who raises goats and has two beehives came to relocate the swarm. I got to see her work. I can't begin to convey how magical it was to be within this globe of whirling bees, the intense buzzing, as she worked to get at the crook in the branch where--she presumed--the queen was. She worked with cheerful calm and grace. Here are some photos:

Most of the time she was atop her minivan

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At one point her son or grandson got up and helped.

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Here she's carefully putting the key piece of branch into the box where she's collecting the bees.

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A box of bees!

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The goddess of bees--if you click through to Flickr and click "magnify" twice, you will see a bee perched on her eyebrow.

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Once the branch was in the box, you could feel the bees calming down, the whirl of energy beginning to settle.

The side is open so those few bees who are still on the outside can climb in:

IMG_0313

To top off the wonder of it all, the wife in the family whose house all this happened in told us a story about her husband. What you have to know about him is that he's always been very lawn-proud, always putting herbicides on to keep it pure grass. But....

"He started getting interested in honeybees and what was happening to them, the declines. The other day I saw him bowed over, looking at a dandelion in the grass. 'There's a bee on it,' he said triumphantly. He said, 'I'm so sorry I spent so much time trying to get rid of dandelions, not knowing how important they were for the bees.'"

I felt in that moment like the whole world had been saved.

Here's a beautiful instrumental track, "cerca de abelhas" (close to bees) to go along with this bee story. This entry was originally posted at https://asakiyume.dreamwidth.org/938120.html. Comments are welcome at either location.
wanderer

Wednesday reading, plus an only tenuously related story & a song

When I get a free moment, I've been enjoying the stories posted in the New Decameron project that Jo Walton organized, though there are so many that I've got bookmarked that I haven't had a chance to read yet. One I *did* read was Naomi Kritzer's "A Star Without Shine", which begins like this:
Once upon a time, in a very small kingdom, there was a king with one daughter. His wife had died, and he had not remarried. This is not the fairy tale where the king decides to marry his own daughter, don’t worry. This king was a completely different sort of terrible father: he believed that his daughter should earn his love, and nothing she did was ever good enough.

It continues with a companion cat, a wise villager, and an overall quirky, good feel I loved. Since I had also recently read and enjoyed Kritzer's "Little Free Library (totally charming story with an abrupt ending hinting at the possibility of more to come), I think I really should check out her novel.

In long-form fiction, I've got the ARC I mentioned last entry, A Sinister Quartet. Right now I'm on the first story in it, CSE Cooney's "The Twice-Drowned Saint," which is a giant subversion of the notion of angels and an angelic city, and what with its setup of desperate refugees required to make literal human sacrifices to enter (and then once in, the city is no picnic), it definitely has real-world resonances that you could call allegorical except that Cooney is more focused on *personal* drama--individual hopes, ambitions, and prices paid. At least so far--I'm only partway in. (And you can get a taste of the story via the Decameron Project: here.)

I'm also reading The View from Castle Always, by Melissa McShane. People seek out the castle when they need to go on a quest--it is getable-to from anywhere and opens onto anywhere--and leave with a chosen quest item. Unfortunately, our protagonist Ailanthe chooses an item, but then the castle doesn't let her leave. I'm curious to see where it goes--there's lots of potential. Right now the story is reminding me of any time I've ever tried an RPG-style video game: I get stuck at the very first level, unable to figure out how to advance.

Other things on my radar: Aster Glenn Gray's soon-to-be-released The Time-Traveling Popcorn Ball. I've read this story in beta, and it's *such* a great time-travel story, and great on friendship, sibling relationships, family hard times, and sense of place. Also, Sherwood Smith has a third Lhind story available--Lhind the Firebird. I'm still one behind: I enjoyed Lhind the Thief, but still have Lhind the Spy to catch up with.

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Here's a fun song with a cumbia beat: Josefa, by La Fragua Band. This entry was originally posted at https://asakiyume.dreamwidth.org/937970.html. Comments are welcome at either location.
wanderer

the touch of a stranger

One of the most adventurous things I've ever done was go to Timor-Leste, alone, and not just Timor-Leste, but Ainaro, a mountain town a half-day's journey from Dili, the capital. I'm proud of myself for that: I found an English-teaching organization that I could plausibly crash without inconveniencing them too terribly; I reached out, made an application, got accepted, saved money, and went.

My first night was spent in a hostel in Dili. I had gotten a private room, but I was so tense, knowing that the next morning I must successfully get on a bus to Ainaro, that there was no way I could settle. I came out into a common room where an Australian guy was sitting on a fake leather couch, having beer after beer, and watching cartoons on an old TV. He said something pleasant when I came in, and after that we just sat silently together, watching the cartoons. Just being in the presence of another human relaxed me.

I got on the bus successfully the next day--this entry talks about the trip and mentions Victor, the guy I traveled pressed against, because the bus was very packed.

As shelter-in-place has stretched on, the thing I've been thinking of, about that trip--something I didn't mention in that entry--was how soothed I felt to be body-to-body next to someone. It must sound strange. I know that in those sorts of situations on public transportation the world over people get assaulted or harassed, but that wasn't my experience. On the contrary, I felt as safe and cared-for a baby in a parent's arms. I know I was just a visitor and guest, but with skin pressed against skin, I had a literal, tactile connection, and it soaked in. I mean, I don't know how it was for Victor! But for me, something has lingered and never left.

That's something people are missing now. I think of people who are going through quarantine alone, not able to touch anyone ... it's terrible. But I think it's more than that, because I have a husband and a (grown) child whom I can touch and who can touch me, and yet I'm still craving something. My skin yearns to touch and be touched by others--acquaintances, friends, strangers.

Well. Quarantine won't last forever. This entry was originally posted at https://asakiyume.dreamwidth.org/936799.html. Comments are welcome at either location.
feathers on the line

Reading: This Is How You Lose the Time War

I really wondered how I would feel about this: there was so much to love--that it was an epistolary novel, that it was enemy agents who fall in love, that it was a time war! But I had also heard that the language was very flowery, and I have a complicated relationship with flowery language. I'm not against it by any means! I love the possibilities that the manipulation of language offer; I love metaphor, poetry, associations forged through language, all of that. But I also really crave story and purpose, and I get wearied easily if gorgeous language isn't wedded to one of those two.

Fortunately for me, This Is How You Love [*ahem* I mean Lose] the Time War, while it has only a very basic story, has a very strong purpose, which I finally managed to articulate to my satisfaction: it as an ode to seduction, challenge, love, & sacrifice. I feel like Amal El-Mohtar and Max Gladstone said, "What if we were to write a towering love, without reservation or stinting, without nice little constraints, a love so big it encompasses all of time and space?" And then did that. Because that's what the conceit of a time war makes possible: love through the ages. The agents' love is both predestined and self-determined. They get to know each other so carefully and so passionately--but a passion that's all in words and thought and all the excesses that words and thoughts allow.
I know your solitude and poise, the clenched fist of you, the blade: a glass shard in Garden's green glowing world .... Love is what we have, against time and death, against all the powers ranged to crush us down.

I mean! That first part reminds me of Psalm 139:

You have searched me, Lord,
and you know me.
You know when I sit and when I rise;
you perceive my thoughts from afar.
You discern my going out and my lying down;
you are familiar with all my ways.


So yeah, it's a story to read for the power of the emotion and the language that captures it. This entry was originally posted at https://asakiyume.dreamwidth.org/936655.html. Comments are welcome at either location.
wanderer

Interview with a mer-tail maker: part 3 ~ hardest part, favorite part, swimming

And here we are at the last mer post! I hope you’ve enjoyed spending time with the mer community and learning about making tails as much as I have. This post has [instagram.com profile] Stillwater_fx’s answers to my questions about favorite things, hardest things, and the thing I most wanted to know about—can you actually swim in a mermaid tail. (Special thanks to [personal profile] genarti for teaching me how to make a cute Instagram tag of [instagram.com profile] Stillwater_fx’s name.)

asakiyume: What’s the hardest part of tail creation?

stillwater_fx: For me, the hardest part has to be sculpting, especially sculpting big flukes and scale sheets. But it’s not the sculpting itself that makes it hard. No, sculpting is fun. It’s the hours of being hunched over or kneeling down on the floor. The pain is bad—sometimes it forces me to take a day off, sometimes two, just to rest and recuperate. And honestly, the second-hardest part for me is having to part with my babies, the tails I make, after spending so long, usually months or weeks making them. It’s so personal to me that I become attached to them.



asakiyume: What part is the most fun?

stillwater_fx: My favorite part of the tail-making process has to be designing. I have sketchbooks filled with old fin designs and styles and descriptions. It honestly looks like a mad scientist’s journal. Sometimes I like to imagine a background story for the mermaid or merman. For example, if the character is a warrior, it’s safe to say that it won’t have long and flowy fins. More like a lion fish, the fins will be looking sharp and dangerous—ready for battle. If the character is perhaps a princess, then long and flowy fins like that of a betta fish would look more aesthetic.

lion fish


betta fish


asakiyume: And is it possible to swim in a mermaid tail?

stillwater_fx: Yes, people can swim in mermaid tails. The main reason for that is the monofin. Swimming in a monofin takes a bit of practice, but once you get that dolphin movement down, you’ll be as graceful as any professional mermaid. Silicone tails can weigh up to 30 lbs. depending on a client’s size and stature. It’s also depending on how many fins they’ve ordered and the size of the caudal fins, because the caudal fin is the biggest and heaviest part of a mermaid tail.

a young mermaid—who can swim in her tail


Proof!--click for a 10-second video


I have swum upstream in rivers and against the raging seas. Swimming in a tail isn’t safe for everyone. Make sure that you are physically able to perform such a demanding task. There are always risks when in the water. Always make sure you’re not swimming alone, and if possible, that there are lifeguards on duty. And always tell someone where you’re going to be before any nature exploration, be it above or below the seas. Stay safe, guys, and I hope you enjoy this interview!



This entry was originally posted at https://asakiyume.dreamwidth.org/936229.html. Comments are welcome at either location.
wanderer

Interview with a mer-tail maker: part 2 ~ Creating a Mermaid Tail

If you're fascinated by process and how something as magical as a mer tail actually comes into being, you'll like this part of the interview. Thanks again, stillwater_fx, for sharing all this great information and the marvelous photos!

asakiyume How did you first learn about making mermaid tails?

stillwater_fx For me, the moment I saw the practical props used in the movie The Thirteenth Year, by Disney, the tail and the arm fins in that movie were wearable items. When I realized that, I instantly thought about how I would have to wear one for me. And living in Puerto Rico, I already had a tropical paradise that most of us dream of: not even a mile away from my house was the beach.

In The Thirteenth Year, a boy realizes he's actually a mer person ... one hint--the scales appearing on him


A mermaid from the movie


And so I did the only I did the only thing that I knew to do. I dove online and I started looking for information about how to sculpt and all the information I could find on creature production and movie films. I found lots of information. I basically learned by reading: I taught myself; I found all the information about making sculptures, molding masks with latex, and props. It was grueling; I had to go through many hundreds of pages and forms and sites. Not all of it was complete; I had to make my own conclusions and connect the dots here and there. But eventually I started experimenting—small experiments, of course, because the materials are expensive for making mermaid tails, which is why the tails themselves are expensive. I’ve made many experiments. I’ve failed, and learned, and here I am today, making tails for people.

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Any questions? Leave them here! And...

STAY TUNED FOR PART 3: FAVORITE PARTS, HARDEST PARTS, AND SWIMMING IN A TAIL

This entry was originally posted at https://asakiyume.dreamwidth.org/935986.html. Comments are welcome at either location.