It’s been a quiet week around here. I’m still enjoying the fact that my work hours have shifted an hour backwards. It still feels a little like we’re skipping out of the last hour, but we’re getting used to it. It’s nice to see the sun when we leave. When there is sun. It was cloudy and rainy until Friday.
My friend T and I went for a walk on a mutual day off. The city has a lot of bike trails, so we met up at a park and went for a lovely long walk that was about 4.5 miles round trip. I took some photos, but as I used a film camera and I haven’t used up the roll yet, you won’t be able to see them. I haven’t seen the photos either.
Except this one. I don’t understand this, either:
Obligatory Mina Photo:
Mina loves sitting on linen. But not linen that’s part of a finished project. No. She will not sit on the linen pillowcases that are currently in use. She wants to sit on the linen mid-project. For example, I was pinning the raw edges of the third case earlier this week, and she jumped onto the table I was working on and tried to lay down in the middle of everything, even though there were a bunch of pins loose in the midst of the fabric! But I had my attention on the project, and I guess she thought I was ignoring her, so she went somewhere I couldn’t ignore her. Because that’s what cats do. If you’re going to be working on something in five minutes, they want to be in the middle of it.
If you’re not going to be working on it right away, then they don’t really care about it.
What I Finished Reading Last Week:
- Walk the Wild With Me by Rachel Atwood, audiobook narrated by Matthew Lloyd Davies
- A Morbid Taste for Bones (Chronicles of Brother Cadfael #1) by Ellis Peters, audiobook narrated by Patrick Tull
- The Empress of Salt and Fortune (The Singing Hills Cycle #1) by Nghi Vo
Walk the Wild With Me is a charming story set during the reign of King John of England, who was fighting with the Pope so much that the Pope put an interdict on the people of England, which meant they couldn’t ring the churchbells, have official church services, or have proper leadership in nunneries or monasteries. So while the Church is away, the Faeries will play. Queen Mab and her followers have kidnapped a young mortal woman to use her as a servant, and because the door to Faerie opens only once every fifty years, her love, the woodland spirit Little John, has to wait. Meanwhile, a mortal boy name Nick is born and grows up in the nearby monastery, and one day he finds a little figuring that grants him a connection to an ancient goddess, who helps him find his way in the world– and into the orbit of Little John and the woodland spirits we’ve come to know as Robin Hood and his Merry Men. This book has a rather low rating on both Goodreads and The StoryGraph, and I’m not sure why, as it is beautifully written and features young characters who grow and change in realistic ways. Perhaps it’s because it doesn’t follow a standard sort of story arc, or doesn’t tie up the characters’ futures in a neat little bow at the end? I apppreciated the somewhat ambiguous ending, as well as the historical and legendary aspects that were bound up into a lovely little story.
I downloaded A Morbid Taste for Bones because I’d been curious about the Brother Cadfael mysteries for a while, and because I wanted to listen to something on my walk last Sunday. So I borrowed it from the library via the Hoopla app, and headed out. I walked for about an hour, listening the whole time. Then I needed to go get groceries, so I listened while at the grocery store. Then I listened when I got home, put the groceries away, and started sewing. I listened so much that I finished the entire audiobook in one day, so now I obviously need to listen to the rest of the series. It was so good! Brother Cadfael is a Welshman who fought alongside Godfrey of Bouillon in Jerusalem, then captained a ship in the Mediterranean and had an otherwise colorful life until he headed back to England to settle down, eventually winding up in a monastery in western England. As the story opens, an apparent miracle sets the Abbott on a mission to collect the bones of a Welsh saint and bring them to their English monastery. The people of the Welsh community where the saint’s bones are buried are not happy about this, and when a local leader is found dead, Brother Cadfael must find out who the killer was before the unhappy situation deteriorates any further. A Morbid Taste for Bones contains all the sorts of details one would expect from a historical novel and all the elements of a good mystery novel. And Brother Cadfael has a sharp wit and wisdom from his many years spent on the road and dealing with all sorts of people. I’m currently in the middle of the second book in the series, One Corpse Too Many, and enjoying it just as much as the first.
The Empress of Salt and Fortune is a novella in which a religious novitiate is sent to interview the aging handmaiden of the previous empress. The story of the Empress of Salt and Fortune’s rise to power unwinds beautifully, with a series of unexpected turns. It makes we wish that Nghi Vo would write a novel from the handmaid’s perspective as the events were actually unfolding. It would make for a fascinating story. But The Empress of Salt and Fortune is excellent, too, even if it “only” outlines the Empress’s rise.
What I’m Currently Reading:
- The Shaping of Middle-earth (The History of Middle-eart #4) by J.R.R. Tolkien, edited by Christopher Tolkien (215/400)
- The Bookseller of Florence: The Story of the Manuscripts that Illuminated the Renaissance by Ross King, ARC provided by NetGalley (15%)
- One Corpse Too Many (The Chronicles of Brother Cadfael #2) by Ellis Peters, audiobook narrated by Patrick Tull (40%)
I’m making slow progress through The Shaping of Middle-earth, much of which consists of early drafts of The Silmarillion. So more of Túrin Turambar. Honestly, I’m getting tired of this guy, but I think I’ve finally worked my way through the many, many drafts of his story, plus that of Beren and Lúthien. If I remember the later volumes correctly, there are other drafts– like that of The Lost Road— for stories that didn’t end up going anywhere, and also background for cultural ruins from The Lord of the Rings, such as the story of Queen Beruthiel and her cats. Eventually, we get to the early drafts of The Lord of the Rings, in which Frodo was initially named Bingo (glad that change was made), and Aragorn began as a world-weary and much-traveled hobbit named Trotter. But right now, I’m finishing up the drafts about Eärendil the Mariner, who doesn’t get nearly enough attention in these histories, alas. Then it’s off to what would have been Tolkien’s story about a time traveler, had he ever finished it. I distinctly remember reading this in high school, but not since then so it will be interesting to re-read it.
The Bookseller of Florence is a fascinating book in a dry sort of way– assuming you’re interested in the making of ancient books, discussions of ancient writers, and have a vague interest in the Florentine book trade in the fourteenth- and fifteenth-centuries. So far, I think it’s interesting, but I’ve had less time to read it than I’d hoped for this past week, thanks to annoying other things getting int the way. I need to finish it this coming week, though, as I have a review scheduled for it coming up next week.
One Corpse Too Many is the second of the Brother Cadfael mysteries. In this story, set during the Anarchy that was the civil war between King Stephen and Empress Maude during the mid-1100s. King Stephen takes a castle that had been held by Empress Maude’s allies, and when he does so he has the 94 defenders put to death by hanging. When all is said and done, the brothers of the Monastery of Saint Peter and Saint Paul agree to bury the defenders, but Brother Cadfael discovers that there are 95 bodies, not 94, and that the mysterious 95th man was strangled, not hanged. So he begins an investigation into the murder. I’m not quite halfway through, and while I don’t find the side characters to be quite as compelling as those in A Morbid Taste for Bones, I’m still enjoying it quite a lot.
I finished another pillowcase! That’s two of three, and I just need to do the felling on the third one to deal with the raw edges, and then I’ll be done. But when I say “just”, I mean that I have at least a couple of hours of felling to do, as it involves a lot of tiny stitches to ensure that the seams don’t come apart, or that the raw edges don’t come loose and start unraveling all over the place. But I’m almost done with the project! Hooray! And I’m finding that I prefer these linen pillowcases to the old cotton ones. I may end up buying more linen from Burnley & Trowbridge down the road to make some more, but next time I think I’ll get some of their striped linen, as that will make it much easier to keep things lined up and even.
I’ve also been yearning after some of their beautiful silk fabrics, as I want to make a pillow for my reading chair, but that will be a project for farther on down the road. I have a couple of crochet projects ahead of me right now, assuming I can figure out the pattern for the Vasti Shawl. The photograph of the final result is lovely, but I always have trouble reading crochet patterns. Once you start throwing in rows of abbreviations, I start losing my place in them. Fortunately, if you mess up in crochet, you can always unravel the mistakes and do them over again.