Sunday Sum-Up: November 22, 2020

My car was in the shop basically all week. The check engine light came on, but the car was still running fine, so it took them a couple of days to find the wires that had fried, and then another couple of days to get the parts. In this week of thankfulness, I’m glad to have my car back. My local public transportation is kind of awful (unless I want to go downtown, which I don’t most days), so I relied on coworkers to get me to work and home again. Hooray for my coworkers.

But I have my car back! I can go and do things like get groceries!

And speaking of groceries… I’m staying home this Thanksgiving because, you know. Global pandemic. I decided to make it an Icelandic Thanksgiving, so for the various things I’m going to make, I had to buy skyr, buttermilk, and heavy whipping cream in addition to the milk I was buying anyway. So. Much. Dairy.

Obligatory Mina Photo:

I have a decorative crochet blanket that lives on the end of my bed. I washed it earlier this week and when I went to put it away, this kid was curled up on the top blanket, all cute and sleepy-like. I always feel bad when I’m putting a freshly-laundered whatever back on the bed, because she likes to sleep on the rumpled bedding, and she’s super cute most days, but she is mind-bendingly adorable whenever she’s sleepy.

So here is an extra dose of cute for the week.

What I Finished Reading Last Week:

In the ninth installment of the Pen and Des novella series, we jump back in time a little bit, back to after Penric left Martensbridge for warmer climes. He’s working in the Venice-like city of Lodi when he is drawn into an investigation of the demonic possession of a young man. The demon is in ascendance, so they can’t get any information about the young man’s identity. So Penric calls upon an unlikely saint to help him deal with the demon in the midst of a citywide celebration of the chaotic god Penric follows. This wasn’t my favorite of the Pen and Des novellas, but it was a solid story, and fills in some of the gaps of a part of Penric’s life that was tragic, but has not been seen directly in any of the previous novellas.

What I’m Currently Reading:

Mantel Pieces is a collection of essays and book reviews Hilary Mantel wrote for the London Review of Books from the late 1980s up to 2019. It’s odd reading reviews for books I’ve never even heard of, but Mantel is so good that they’re fascinating to read anyway. And it’s interesting to see how she develops from a fiery young critic to one who is more understanding and more nuanced in her reviews.

The Lost Queen takes the tales of Lailoken (from which some of the original tales of Merlin might have come, before they were linked to King Arthur) and the story of the Scottish Queen Langoureth and blends them into something that feels like it could have come straight from the historical record, if the historical record of sixth century Britain wasn’t so sketchy. So far it’s one of the best Arthurian retellings I’ve read, and I’ve already asked for the second book, The Forgotten Kingdom, for Christmas. It has both the elegant prose and that wind- and rain-swept feeling of Mary Stewart’s Merlin trilogy, with the feminist edge of The Mists of Avalon, without having that story’s tiresome narrative of “pagans universally good, Christians universally bad”. It’s interesting to see a story of a Britain in flux– under attack from the Saxons and Angles, and transitioning from pagan to Christian beliefs. Not all of the pagans are good, and not all of the Christians are bad. Because no matter how black and white we try to make the past out to be, society was just as complex then as it is now.

I’m fascinated to see where the story of The Stone Sky will end up. I understand where Nassun is coming from with her anger and her adolescent view of the world, but what she wants is frightening. I am really wondering what Essun will do about it, assuming she gets the chance to do so. And where will Hoa’s story go? Jemisin’s writing always keeps me on my toes.

What I Plan to Start Reading This Week:

This saga’s origins are in fifth-century Denmark, though it was recorded in medieval Iceland. It is the story of kings, sorceresses, wizards, and berserker warriors, and it sounds fascinating. At just 78 pages, it shouldn’t take terribly long to get through.

A Stitch in Time:

I finished my witch hat!

It’s a little wonky here and there (I didn’t realize the crown had squished inward until after I took the picture. It’s usually straighter than that), and the brim isn’t as neat as I would like it to be, but it’s done! It was a great learning experience, and I kind of want to make another one, just to correct the mistakes I made the first time around. Or maybe I’ll make a pirate shirt. We’ll see.

I still haven’t bought any yarn for the Vasti shawl from my Northern Lights crochet pattern book, but I was so focused on the witch hat that I barely even thought about crocheting anything.

Adventures in Film Photography:

When I first got into photography, you went to great lengths to make sure your film didn’t get too hot and and your camera didn’t get light leaks and things like that. Nowadays, we buy film that’s been pre-exposed specifically to cause light leaks and make the film appear to be underexposed and de-saturated. It’s fun, but odd, given where I started with film photography.

I took a couple of hours during a day off a few weeks ago to wander around downtown and shoot a roll of Kono’s Moonstruck film. It’s an interesting effect, with its desaturation and low contrast effect:

About That Writing Thing:

Once again, time slipped away because of other things like housework, and I ended up not having as much time to write as I thought I would, but in the time that I’ve had, the writing has been going smoothly. I’m back to one of the viewpoint characters I’m most familiar with, which always makes the words come more easily. Pretty soon, the characters will be on the road, and soon after that I’ll be getting into the magical heart of the story. I can’t wait. I’ve been looking forward to writing it since last spring. It’s going to be great!

Photo by Tobias Bju00f8rkli on

6 thoughts on “Sunday Sum-Up: November 22, 2020

  1. I really hope you enjoy your Icelandic Thanksgiving! For the past few years we’ve visited a very small Icelandic festival held here between Thanksgiving and Christmas. I’ve really enjoyed trying some of the different foods, though it’s small enough the selection is very minimal. Somehow I suspect we won’t make it this year, if it’s even held. Your photos are really interesting. That film does give them that older feel, almost as if they’d been developed long ago and the colors of the print have shifted over the years. I think my favorite is the one with the chair. Really glad to see you’re getting out and having some fun with that!

  2. Thanks! That Icelandic festival sounds like a great time. I wish there was something like that here! I would definitely go.

    The Moonstruck film ended up being a lot greener than I thought it would. I’d though it would be a little browner. But oh well. It was fun to take it out. I like the chair, too. It was a little darker than I wanted it to be, but the light in the alley was pretty poor, so I had to take what I could get.

  3. I’m so amped to hear about your Icelandic Thanksgiving! I mean, I know we chatted about it a bit, but the world needs to know these things. I love discovering new and delicious dishes from around the world. Ethnic food is much better than standard American fare in most situations (though occasionally I really crave me some french fries…)

    The Moonstruck film is fascinating! I love the idea of a pre-distressed film. It’s like shooting with a built-in Insta filter, I guess? What percentage of your photography is film-based rather than digital?

    Congrats on getting your car back! That vehicle has been a real pain in your side lately. I’ve decided that it is now perfect. So, hopefully, thanks to my decree, you don’t have to worry about problems with it anymore. XD

  4. I always enjoy finding new foods, too, but finding restaurants in the pandemic is not easy. And I’m terrible at cooking…

    Yup! Shooting with pre-exposed film is just like shooting with Insta filters, which just feels weird sometimes, since I used to go to great lengths to keep the film from getting messed up. But it’s fun to experiment with, since the effect changes with the exposure settings.

    Please make more decrees regarding my car’s perfection, because I am sick of it being a jerk to me when I’ve been so careful with it! Ugh!

  5. Well, the pandemic will give you plenty of time to practice cooking. I bet you’ll be a better cook by the time the pandemic is over! I love cooking, but I hate baking. I mean. I’ll eat all the baked goods. But I’m definitely more of a make-it-up-as-you-go with food person — the chemistry of baking is too precise for me. XD

    All hail Kim’s illustrious vehicle! Car of perfection! Naught to break down! Forever preitine in all ways! A chariot worthy of her and those who loves.

  6. I think I’ll be a marginally better cook by the time we can gather with people again. I still need to dig back into my medieval cookbook and try some of the other recipes in it. Today, I needed to use up the rest of the frozen fish from Thanksgiving, and I remembered how to make plokkfiskur without using a recipe. Woohoo for that!

    I’m always so weird about baking. Some things I can manage no problem one time, and totally fail the next. Like soda bread, which should be crazy easy, but half the time I undertake it and the middle ends up raw. I don’t get it.

    Ha! So far, the car has behaved. I’m hoping it will continue to behave for the rest of the winter.

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