The above Flannery O’Connor quote is so true as to be frightening.

Oh, a warning, this will be VERY LONG. I’ve been saving up ideas.

There’s a note on the counter that says, “Steph, oil the cats.” It means the stuff you put on their backs to keep off fles and whatnot, but I get the best mental image of Dorothy-me oiling Tin Man-cats with a tiny oil can.

I am all the way to the Is in my giant musiczilla project! Idlewild is very good.

I defy anyone to watch to the end of this video and not have a smile, at least on the inside, by the end of it.

Everyone in the world has pretty much seen this already, but seeing as how it may be the coolest thing on the internet, you get to see it again.

Seen while studying the prefective active tense of *mumbles* Elvish: “Do not mutate the dipthongs!” I guess you had to be there. Speaking of Elvish, I was studying Tengwar and was utterly confused. I had a new chart, and I just couldn’t see how it made sense to have the alphabet arranged in the way it was, until I suddenly realized, with a forehead smack, that it was in ENGLISH alphabetical order. I’ve been playing around with Elvish more, and looking over my old vocabularies is like slipping into a comfy pair of socks, all worn. I know the feel of the language still, and that makes me glad.

Found on a roster at the country club: Stewart Little. I do wonder if he was whiskers.

There is someone I dislike who has, from the first week of our acquaintance, called me Steph. Steph is completely reserved for good friends, people I know well who know me well, and to be called so by someone I am constantly gritting my teeth around feels entirely too familiar and very distasteful. *Victorian sniff*

Oh, such books as I have been reading lately! I finished Nightfall, and it was absolutely wonderful. THEN. I read The Beekeeper’s Apprentice by Laurie King, as per the recommendation of one Anne Elisabeth, and it was exquisite. Don’t even read the back cover, it makes you wonder how such a book could possibly be good, but take my word for it, it’s GOOD. Beautifully written, so much detail and subtlety, all wrapped up in flawless characterization. I do believe Sir Arthur Conan Doyle might even like it. I raved about The Neverending Story, but this is still better yet. Go, read it, now! Also, do you ever get the feeling in a book that you’re reading about yourself? I do rarely, but it kept happening in this book. The heroine was tall, with very long blonde hair and glasses. She reads incessantly and is learning a plethora of languages. She adores college, and she has a “coterie of friends” that she spends time with! One of my names for my college friends is “the coterie,” so I was quite struck by the coincidence. On top of all of this, her mother was Jewish, and she still holds to some of the Jewish beliefs, and knows some Hebrew. The whole time I was reading the book, it felt like I was reading my own adventures. Except, I felt she was a much smarter me. It felt like me if I was quicker, more intelligent, wittier. It was a little disturbing at the same time as being wonderful…

In other books, I finished Sophie’s World, and I’m a little miffed. After all the hype from various (mostly) reputable sources, it was singularly unimpressive. Philosophically, everything in it I’d already learned from other places, and the frame story was very poorly done, at least in English. I also read volume 2 of the Selected Journals of L.M. Montgomery, which is somewhat interesting but only if you’ve read all of her books and don’t mind a lot of daily minutiae. I also read The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde. I always have the strongest temptation to write his name Jjasper Fforde… Anyway, it was quite good, and I enjoyed the multitude of literary references – one character was named Oswald Mandias. I wondered how many people actually caught that one, and then I wondered how many references I *wasn’t* catching. There have been an awful lot of coincidences lately; one of them was that in two books in a row (Beekeeper’s Apprentice and Eyre Affair), there were characters named Mycroft. I couldn’t tell if the one was a reference to the other or it was just a bizarre alignment of the planets. Also, both L.M. Montgomery’s journal and the Eyre Affair mentioned Charlotte Bronte’s estate, Haworth, rather often.

The weirdest coincidences have involved Welsh, however. Of course, I’m still learning it (and actually finally getting back into studying it after almost a year without the time), and as I mentioned previously I read The Prince of Annwn, which is based on the Mabinogion, a Welsh text from the 11th century or earlier. So I got the Mabinigion and read that too, and it was very Welshy as expected. But I also read The Winter King by Bernard Cornwell, which was about King Arthur. Now, most people don’t realize, but the original Arthurian tales sprang from the Welsh, circa 5th and 6th centuries. The story was legendified and greatly expanded by the French (Thomas Malory, etc.) into the form we know today. The original had no Lancelot (he’s French as they come, baby), no Camelot (Arthur’s capital has always been Caer Llion in the Welsh, Camelot is a VERY recent invention), Guinevere is of course Gwenhwyfar, Excalibur is Caledfwlch, and even Merlin (Meddwyn in the Welsh) didn’t pop up for quite a while. Chivalry and plate armor, all of that didn’t pop up until the Normans got their grimy paws on the British Isles. In that respect, the movie King Arthur (which I haven’t seen, btw) was more historically accurate; time frame, Roman influence, battle style, and the involvement of the Old Ones, the tribes already present in the Isles before the days of Arthur. Anyway, I thought The Winter King was your typical 13th century Arthur, and was quite flabbergasted when they started bustin’ out the Welsh language. It was quite wonderful! Then in reading The Mabinogion, there were quite a few Arthurian legends, and it was interesting to see how the legend progressed from the Welsh originals to the more and more French-influenced tales of chivalry.

So that was all very nice and right up my alley, but then I was reading Beekeeper’s Apprentice, and a big chunk of the story takes place in Wales as they travel through Gwent and Powys. Then I’m reading the Eyre Affair, and they travel to Wales again, and the Welsh word for motel (gwesty) plays an important part in the story. Then I’m reading up about London and find out that it’s name is also derived from Welsh. Then I’m reading The Once and Future King by T.H. White, which is also about King Arthur, although I didn’t even know it when I got it, and it has yet more Welsh. THEN I’m reading about Caer Llion (Caer Leon, Carleon, etc.) and find out it’s on the river Usk, which reminded me of John Uskglass, the Raven King, from Johnathan Strange and Mr. Norrell, thus tying all of my summer reading together into one big package, as a flock of crows followed me home from work. Not making any of this up. Anyway, I guess you had to be there in my head following all of these points from A to B and so on, but it was quite ephiphanic. Also, remember Flatland I read recently? I thought nobody read that book, it sat in the library unchecked-out for years. But apparently, somebody even went and made a movie of it. It’s like those things you never hear of, and then you learn about it, and suddenly it’s everywhere. Like the expression “you bet your boots!” I’ve come across that everywhere lately after never hearing it for years.

I’ve also been reading Harvest Poems by Carl Sandburg (I know, there never was such a summer for reading), and I highly recommmend: Was Ever a Dream a Drum?; Fog; Cornhuskers; Under a Telephone Pole; Under the Harvest Moon; Lost; Prayers of Steel; Wind Song; For You; Primer Lesson; Splinter; They Ask: Is God, Too, Lonely?; and Little Girl, Be Careful What You Say.

There, now that you’re caught up on books…

I have also been having incredibly wonderful dreams! Last night I was in the airport with our family, and someone had been letting the grass grow far too tall in the waiting area by the gate. I remarked on this to my brother, and a gentleman across from me helpfully pointed out a small hand-held lawn mower. I mowed the tall grass in our seating area before we were called to the gate and felt much better about it, all things considered.

I had a marvelous dream about the Pevensies from Narnia. We were all going on a quest of some sort, only we kept bungling it somehow. There was a sequence of correct actions that led to all of us surviving long enough to start the quest or prompt the circumstances that allowed us to go. So I kept having to live through a certain period of time, trying to make the right decisions that would allow events to progress. Sometimes they wouldn’t work, and I’d have to go back and relive the day, changing subtle things like which door I walked through or what I said until it worked. I finally found the right combination (this was very serious and important, as occasionally a Pevensie or even myself died if I didn’t choose correctly), which involved something about a snowy woods and a hedgehog, walking through a particular door, and talking to the owner of a warehouse. The Pevensies and I set off rather grimly (Peter was particularly uncertain as to the chances of our survival), and just as I was pulling a nice set of gloves out of my bag for Lucy and some greaves out for Peter and we were clinging to a narrow, stony path that wound around a cliff, I woke up. So now I’ll never know if we made it.

Also, I have disturbingly real work dreams. Disturbing because who wants to dream about work? I’m moving through a list of names, checking it against some reservations or something, and it’s incredibly real. So much so that I remember I left off on the name Hassel one night, and then resumed the darn list the next night. I got to the P section then woke myself up and told myself very sternly that this was silly. So I haven’t had it since, and I’m certainly not sorry I won’t know how THAT one turned out.

The weirdest one, however, involved some guy who kept coming over to our house. It was rather prosaic; he came over, was sweet but a bit obnoxious since he didn’t know when to leave, helped us tidy up around the house and made us all milkshakes. I distinctly him asking where the vanilla was so he could make Mom a vanilla shake, while Ed had strawberry and I had chocolate. The weird part was him as a dream person, because he wasn’t one. Normally in dreams, when you invent a dream character, their face is a little bit fuzzy. The dream can only construct with the materials it has handy, so unless it’s a person who you actually know what they look like, the dream kind of does a half-way job at a real person and leaves the details fuzzy. This guy wasn’t fuzzy at all. I was so sure that I actually knew him that when I woke up, I thought he was a real person. He was perfectly clear, and I can still remember his face now. I *must* know this person…he’s just not dream-like at all. I think his last name ended in -an, and his first name may have been Steve, or it reminded me of the name Steve. He was just a hair taller than average, brownish blonde hair, light eyes, glasses, kind of a big forehead, looked like one of those guys who will probably be bald by 40, quick to smile, very normal-looking but just way too disturbingly real. Anybody know this person? I wonder if I do…

Well, there you have it.