Wednesday, July 29, 2015

A Blind Date

I signed up for Kameron Hurley's newsletter because I've been following her on Twitter, and I like the essays that she's written. I'm interested in reading Mirror Empire, but haven't gotten to buying it yet. One of the most interesting things about the newsletter was the offer of a book blind date. I wasn't quite sure what that meant.

I mean, it seemed to mean that she would send me a book, if I asked. A random book, in a loose genre category. I love books. I love free things. So I signed up.

And, mid-June, pictures started showing up on her Twitter of books that other newsletter receivers had gotten in the mail. They were even wrapped, just like a present.

I began to be anxious, because mine hadn't arrived yet. Had I messed up in submitting the form? Put a typo in my mailing address?

I texted my husband each day, asking whether my package had arrived in the mail.

And on the day it arrived, what did he do? He tore open my package and opened my book blind date present.

I had a momentary sad face. Because, of course, I wanted to open it!

And once I saw it, I was perplexed. I had received Adrian Tchaikovsky's Empire in Black and Gold . This is the first book in the Shadows of the Apt series. The cover, to me, evokes an ancient Greek battle, and the rear cover copy also brought the comparison to mind.

If this had been a blind date, then I wouldn't have had a second date. But this, for me, was more like living in an apartment building when a new tenant moves in across the hall. You might smile at each other in the hallway a few times before you even know each other's names. And once you do, you find yourselves talking every time you meet. It becomes something that you look forward to.

I'm reading this book in pieces. It isn't sucking me in as some books have. But I want to keep reading it. I'm not sure if I have it in me to commit to the next nine books in the series... at least, not right now. But it might be something that I continue to read.

This series will be like the neighbor that moves away, that you keep in touch with on an irregular basis, always having great conversation whenever you meet.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Accidental Poetry

Recently, the voicemail app on my phone updated. Voice to text used to be a premium service, but it appeared after the last update. I have quite a few messages from my mother that I haven't listened to, sitting in my voicemail box because when I see a message longer than 2 minutes, I blanch. And when I see a 5 minute message, I lose the will to continue to listen.

Besides, my mother will most likely not remember that she left me a message and will repeat whatever it was that she took 5 minutes to say the next time we speak.

But now, I can read the messages she leaves instead of listening.

And there's just something wonderfully poetic about the app's interpretation of her words.

I'm seriously considering never answering the phone when she calls again. I mean, I'll call her back, but I'm just getting so much entertainment value from this:
Hey Ambrose and Jeanne.
I guess you're not there now.
Sorry I'm still waiting for Connie which-i-think-she's coming.
I'm not getting my cell phone.
I told Peter I need it in writing.
I know how to do it the same thing happened-when we were trying to reach you in the computer and they give me the written paper that ready-whenever you get computer is.
Anyway thanks.
Love you.
Bye bye. 
*snap* *snap* *snap*

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

They Might Be Giants Doesn't Ruin My Day

Today someone in my office sent around a youtube video. On a semi-regular basis, such a "jam" gets included with the daily announcements. Today's was a song by They Might Be Giants, chosen by the sender's son. (So, I'm guessing off one of their children's albums.)

I've loved They Might Be Giants for a long time. They were my first concert and I actually went to see them several times in my teenage years. Though I owned most of their albums through Severe Tire Damage, I no longer have most of them.

So today, I listened to the new to me "Seven Days of the Week," and then went on a youtube cruise finding old favorites like "Ana Ng," "Don't Lets Start" and "They'll Need a Crane." I may have tortured my co-workers just a tiny bit by singing along to these nostalgic airs. Though most likely I wasn't loud enough to be heard through their headphones.

I still know most of the words, and I still love the music. But I can't listen to them without thinking of one of my cousins. He took me to that first concert, and we shared the passion for TMBG for a few years, building a tenuous bridge over the distance in our ages and worldviews. And then he accused me of instigating family drama and cut off all contact unless I apologized for something I didn't do.

I held to truth over family. I knew I was right. I knew I was being falsely accused, a pawn in a larger picture. I felt echoes of being blamed for other things that I hadn't done, and I haven't spoken to him since.

I suppose we have a certain stubbornness in common. Must be a family trait.

I no longer feel that burning injustice when I consider that incident in my life. But I don't really care to apologize either. It is just one of those things in my life that I don't often consider, until music draws me into reflecting on the past.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

A Side of History

After a three day backpacking trip over the 4th of July weekend, my husband and I took a break from the traffic to eat a well-earned meal at the Route 55 Cafe in Cascade, ID. Ambrose had eyes only for the biscuits and gravy, but I had to take some time to decide what I would want to eat. We don't go here regularly enough to have a table that we typically sit at, but I don't believe we ever sat in the corner we chose before.

And while I might have noticed the old photographs on the wall in the past, they were never all that interesting to me. Sure, old photographs are neat, but there was nothing to connect me to them.

A waitress took out order (I decided on fried fish and french fries), and I read the captions on the picture without really thinking about it. I read things automatically. I'm one of those people who would read shampoo bottles in the bath if I finished my book before I wanted to get out. So the words didn't register for a moment.

I've been reading Dean Wesley Smith's blog for a couple years now, and he writes a series of books set in Idaho called Thunder Mountain. Here I was, sitting under photographs of the actual Thunder Mountain settlement, and even the town of Roosevelt before the flood.

I didn't grow up in Idaho, and I don't know much about its history. But seeing those photographs and knowing more about them than the bare minimum revealed by the captions really caught my interest. A whole town swallowed by a flood. A mine. And such an iconic name. Thunder Mountain.

So I took pictures of the pictures.

"Thunder Mountain Founded by L. G. and A. B. Caswell"

"Ben, Lu and Dan Caswell in Thunder Mtn cabin"

"Town of Roosevelt before the flood"

"Dewey Mine, site of the original Caswell golden reef mine"
"Dan Caswell working the mysterious slide claim with hydro sluice"

"Dan, Ben & Lu Caswell at Thunder Mountain Sawmill"

"Thunder Mountain Map Cir 1901"

Close up of Thunder Mtn from above map. 
Now I'm just might have to crack a history book to satisfy my curiosity... Or just read the Thunder Mountain series and see if I might like some Westerns after all.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Hefafu, or, Why Won't Men Just Ask for Directions?

When Ambrose and I were hiking to the start of the trail to Scenic Lake in the Sawtooth Wilderness, we stuck together for most of the morning. But after the second stream crossing I went on ahead of him. I was feeling warmed up and ready to go. I zoomed off, and soon reached the cairn and sign that marked the turnoff to Scenic Lake.

I decided to wait for Ambrose there. The sign was fastened to a tree, and I dumped my pack near the trunk and pulled out my birdseed bag to sit on. Then I spent some time being quiet and listening to the birds.

Then I heard voices. I didn't think it would be Ambrose so I sat up and looked around. Two male hikers were coming down the trail from the other direction. I stayed sitting up and watched them approach.

When they were close, I said hello. The guys didn't seem interested in talking to me. They were intent. As they walked past me, I heard, "It should be right here."

I almost spoke up. I almost asked them if they were looking for the turnoff to Scenic, but they walked past very quickly, not turning.

If they had turned, they would have seen the sign.

When Ambrose caught up to me a few minutes later, he revealed that the guys had indeed been looking for Scenic.

How did he know this? Because they asked him.

I was highly amused by this. I was sitting practically on the junction and they didn't have a word for me. But they run into another man and ask for directions.

Now, Ambrose contends that they may have just been tired, hungry, thirsty or in a hurry. And that's why they didn't ask me. I don't know. It seemed a bit sexist to me. But it didn't hurt me in the slightest.

It would have served them right if I were hiking alone and they'd gone all the way back to the trailhead.