The weather is continuing to slowly cool down. Over the past several evenings I’ve had the windows open with the breeze blowing in, and the cicadas have finally stopped buzzing. So now, instead of having their ear-piercing static song droning all through the night, we’re getting crickets. Crickets are much quieter and more melodious than the cicadas, and I’m happy to hear them again.
In other autumnal news, a few trees have begun turning already. I think it’s more to do with our being in a mild drought than a few cool mornings, but it’s still nice to see a few yellow leaves on the walking paths.
Lastly, I went down to the chandler on my day off and bought a couple of candles. I surprised myself by getting the ‘classic pumpkin’ scent rather than ‘autumn’. There was a note in the autumn candle I just didn’t like– the cloves, I think. I also declined the ‘french press’ candle, as there was something in there I didn’t like either. I ended up getting one of the small batch ‘peppermint mocha’ candles, which comes in a little mug. It’s not very autumnal, but I love peppermint mochas, so of course I was going to get it. It’s not as strong of a scent as I thought it would be, but I have enjoyed the subtleness. The ‘classic pumpkin’ is super strong, in contrast. I don’t even need to take the lid off to be able to smell that one.
There was a night with a lovely sunset that I was actually able to get out and see:
Some other photos from the week:
Obligatory Mina Photo:
We had a couple of animal visits this week. One was cute, one. . . not so much.
The first one (the not-cute one) occurred very early on Wednesday morning. I had just gotten home from seeing Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, having gone to the late showing, and as I was unlocking my apartment door I noticed a medium-sized wolf spider hanging out in the hall. I said ‘Hello’ to the spider and went inside, idly hoping that it wouldn’t follow me inside.
Whaddya know, the stupid thing followed me inside.
The first I knew of it was because of Mina, of course. She was staring intently at my old art history textbooks and would occasionally lunge at them and paw at the books to try to pull them off the shelf. Because she has never shown an interest in art history before, I deduced that she was trying to get at a bug. So I pulled the shelf away from the wall, and lo, there was the wolf spider, sitting on the edges of the textbooks in a bid to not be noticed. Unfortunately for it, I did notice it. And I couldn’t see a way to safely capture it to get it away from Mina, so ended up killing it. I feel bad about that. I don’t mind spiders, and while a wolf spider bite wouldn’t hurt me, I didn’t want to risk Mina getting bitten by it because she wouldn’t leave it alone at 1:00 in the morning.
The second animal encounter was far cuter.
Much later Wednesday morning, I was drinking my coffee and pondering the day’s To-Do list when I heard a scrabbling at the window. Mina heard it, too, and jumped onto the top of the shelves to see what was going on. After more scrabbling, a squirrel poked its head into view, skittered across the ledge, and stopped to watch us watching it. Mina was entranced. The squirrel was unimpressed. A few seconds later it hopped off the window ledge and climbed away along the brickwork to carry on with its day.
What I Finished Reading Last Week:
- The War of the Ring (The History of Middle-earth #8) by J.R.R. Tolkien, edited by Christopher Tolkien
Another History of Middle-earth volume complete! There was a lot to learn in this installment. For a long time, the initial narrative of The Lord of the Rings was barreling along, and everything seemed to be going so smoothly. Then the Battle of Helm’s Deep happened, and Frodo and Sam faced Shelob, and there were some time and distance issues that took Tolkien a long time to sort out, so suddenly the narrative ground almost to a halt until Tolkien solved all the problems. Some of the problems include: who was the mysterious ranger that suddenly appeared in Ithilien? The ents show up again and save the Rohirrim. Will they save the people of Gondor, too? Will there be another brief visit to Lothlorien? What is happening on which day? There was so much to figure out, and I don’t envy Tolkien the problems he had to solve. I’ll be interested to see what the rest of the path was like, from Mount Doom and then back to the Shire.
What I’m Currently Reading:
- The King of Infinite Space by Lyndsay Fay (177/384)
- Abaddon’s Gate (The Expanse #3) by James S.A. Corey, audiobook narrated by Jefferson Mays (28%)
- The Hanging Tree (The Rivers of London #6) by Ben Aaronovitch (197/304)
- The Fellowship of the Ring (The Lord of the Rings #1) by J.R.R. Tolkien, audiobook narrated by Andy Serkis (53%)
I didn’t make as much progress as I wanted to in The King of Infinite Space, partly because I got distracted by The Fellowship of the Ring, and partly because some of my reading plans got messed up by unexpected things that popped up, and by the fact that I actually went out. And did things. Weird. Anyway. Farther into the book, Ben is really starting to worry Horatio, thanks to the videos that Ben’s father made before his death. So now Ben thinks that his dad was murdered and that his hated uncle is behind it all, and the strain of everything that’s been happening has made Ben’s mental disorders even worse, which makes Horatio worry even more. I’m still loving this book, but the chapters from Ben’s perspective are a little exhausting– even though Ben is a charismatic person and you want to love him and sit him down with a blanket and a cup of tea so maybe he’ll calm down a little.
Abaddon’s Gate is continuing apace. I’d forgotten how slow The Expanse books can be at times, and not just in terms of how much time passes during a single book. It’s just that there is so much building up throughout the book that needs copious setup that the pace can’t be very fast. I think I’m going to have to return the audiobook to the library before I’m finished with it. Fortunately, I checked out a physical copy from the library, so I’ll have something to fall back on, since I can’t renew the audiobook. I’m looking forward to getting back to it, as a thing is about to happen (I think) that will cause major problems for Holden and the crew of the Rocinante, as well as the entire fleet that is keeping an eye on the mysterious ring floating in space.
I finally started The Hanging Tree this week, as I’ve had it out from the library for a couple of weeks, and I needed to get going with it before it was due. I’m a little over halfway through, and so far I have no idea of who is guilty of what. The mystery is kicked off by the drug-related death of a teenage girl in an exclusive apartment building. The daughter of the goddess of the Thames’s daughter was involved, but she called Peter to have him keep her daughter out of it. Unfortunately, Peter can’t keep the girl out of the investigation, since her name and other things keep popping up in the middle of it. It doesn’t help that this investigation is poking into the lives of the super-rich, and they have many, many ways of keeping their secrets from the police and everyone else.
And finally, Andy Serkis’ narration of The Lord of the Rings came out last Thursday. I downloaded it first thing in the morning, hooked my phone up to my nice speakers, and started listening while getting ready for the day. Since then, it’s been all I can do to not just sit down and listen to the whole thing. The Hobbits have just made it to Rivendell, but the Council of Elrond hasn’t yet begun. I’m looking forward to that so I can see how Serkis will narrate the voices for the rest of the Fellowship. So far, I’ve loved Serkis’ performance. He’s clearly pulled a bit from the movies, but made it his own, too. For example, Pippin has a Scottish accent just like Billy Boyd did, but the rhythm that Serkis uses is quite a bit different from Boyd’s, so it doesn’t sound like Serkis is trying to do a straight-up imitation. But I do have to say, “This new Gandalf is more grumpy than the old one” (to quote Gimli from the movies). That said, I love this version of Gandalf, too. I’m loving all of it, and Serkis has a voice that can make certain scenes– like the one inside the barrow– sound fantastically creepy. I love Inglis’ original narration, but I think I will end up preferring Serkis’.
What I’ve Been Watching:
- Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings
Starring: Simu Liu, Awkwafina, Tony Chiu-Wai Leung, Meng’er Zhang, Michelle Yeo
Directed by: Destin Daniel Cretton
In summary: Shaun and Katy are two Chinese-American twenty-somethings with go-nowhere valet parking jobs (that they happen to love). They’re happy with their lives until one day, a group of thugs attacks Shaun on a bus. It turns out that Shaun is a skilled martial artist, and he tells Katy that he’s not who she thinks he is, and that his name isn’t Shaun. It’s Shang-Chi, and he ran away from his father when he was a kid. Pretty soon, they’re off to Macau on a quest to help Shang-Chi’s sister before their warlord father gets to her, and with that we’re off on a visually spectacular Marvel superhero movie that (finally) doesn’t whitewash Asian characters or disrespect Chinese cultures in the name of appealing to white American audiences.
Also, Michelle Yeoh and Tony Leung are fantastic as always. I’ve never not enjoyed a thing that Yeoh has been in. Akwafina was great as Katy, and provided a solid ground against all the wild things that were going on. And Simu Liu was great, and I hope to see him in many more things, not just Marvel movies.
I loved it. It’s probably my favorite Marvel film to date. The visuals were fantastic and were clearly inspired by the Chinese landscape rather than somewhere like Vancouver because it was convenient, the fight choreography was arresting and made great use of the environments they happened in, as well as showing characters’ relationships and how they were developing as people. The final big CGI battle was sort of ‘eh’ for me (but I’m not that into the CGI slugfests, no matter how ‘cool’ they are), but overall, I had a great time. I would definitely see this one again.
About That Writing Thing:
I’m a little behind on my editing, but I’m not worried about it. Yet. I can get edits and revisions done pretty quickly. Last week, I just had a couple of days were I wasn’t home in the evening, one night were I was completely exhausted and went to bed two hours early, and a night where my computer decided to do All The Updates before I could start editing, and it slowed my computer down so much that I couldn’t get anything done at all.
So that’s frustrating.
But I intend to put in at least a couple of hours of editing today so I can get ahead, as my schedule has me posting the first two chapters next Sunday. I need to be more than a week ahead of things, and if I put this off, then I’ll risk running into issues with time and I don’t want that to happen. I have enough things to stress me out.