You are currently browsing the monthly archive for November 2011.

Our annual renaissance fair trip was an excellent time, as always.  I almost think maybe we should skip a year, though…it’s disconcerting to realize that you recognize all of the people in costume.  And some of them recognize you.  I did love the falconry, though, and I made the acquaintance of a raven (aptly) named Lenore.

On December 4th I’m going with some friends and one of my old professors to see Henry V (my favorite Shakespeare play)…on trapeze.  Yep.  This is either going to be brilliant or utterly horrifying.  Either way, I suspect we’ll enjoy ourselves.  Expect a full report!



Writing and music:

Finally finished Greatest Horse Stories, thankfully.  They were not great.  I’m suing for false advertising.  Now I’m working on The Atlas of Middle Earth, which is an astoundingly detailed, legitimate atlas put together by a cartographer with a frankly incredible knowledge of Tolkien’s writing.  I’ve seen maps of the US put together with less skill and care.

November in North Carolina isn’t like November in most places.  It’s positively gorgeous and not bleak at all.  Clearly it hasn’t received the memo about proper November behavior, but I can get behind this sort of rebellion.  Tomorrow we’re going a-fleaing at the esteemed Raleigh flea market, Wednesday we’re going to The Aviator, Sunday we’re going to the renaissance fair, and Thanksgiving is coming soon after, so I’m thoroughly enjoying the entire month.

People doing cool things:

On the to-do list: paragliding with hawks.

Also on the to-do list: visit the Moses Bridge.

“Every Teardrop Is a Waterfall” by Coldplay.

I’ve been so busy that even my reading has been suffering, I fear.  However, I do have a few book reviews for you whether you want them or not.  I found an old copy of Hannah Fowler by Janice Holt Giles, which has been hanging around my parents’ house for years.  I think I may have read a little bit of it when I was young because the beginning felt familiar.  I can see why I gave it up, though I enjoyed it tremendously this time around; it’s sort of like a Laura Ingalls Wilder book for grown-ups.

On the plane to Detroit I reread all of The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupery, given to me by my wonderful roommate, and it was every bit as magnificent as I remembered.  Everyone should read The Little Prince once a year, I think.  Make it a law.

I started Sharpe’s Rifles by Bernard Cornwell, also on the plane, but sadly was considerably less impressed.  I kept hearing people call it the British army version of Horatio Hornblower, so I figured it would be genius.  Not true!  Horatio Hornblower is an admirable character, however flawed he might be.  Richard Sharpe is a proper jerk.  I keep thinking I like Bernard Corwell, and it keeps turning out not to be true.

Then I read The Colour of Magic by Terry Pratchett, the first of his Discworld novels.  Hilarious, as usual for Pratchett!  I really need to systematically work my way through everything he’s ever written.

I read Classic Horse Stories, and now I’m working on Greatest Horse Stories, both edited by Stephen Price.  I’m still trying to read all of my unread books on my shelves before the end of the year (though I begin to admit the unlikelihood of that actually happening, this late in the game), and these two somehow conjured themselves up.  The Classic stories were much better…Teddy Roosevelt, Churchill, Tolstoy…good stuff.  I debate the adjective in Greatest stories.  They’re exceedingly mediocre thus far.  Soldiering on…

Oh dear.  It’s been a long time, hasn’t it?  I’ve been having such glorious times, I haven’t had the time to write about them.

Michigan was completely magnificent.  I can’t remember when I’ve had a better time, and I’ve had some pretty great times so that’s really saying something.  Our first night, we went for a walk down by the lower harbor.  It was cold and rainy, and we climbed gingerly over the slippery rocks in the dark.  We followed a bike trail until we came to McCarty’s Cove, where the waves were crashing against the rocks hard enough that you could just make out the white spray, even with no moon or stars.  We took our shoes off and ran back and forth on the beach in the cold wind like deliriously happy crabs.

One day we took a bus tour of the city, and the tour guide was a hilarious older fellow who felt VERY passionately about snowshoes.  He took us to the Iron Ore Museum, and the experience further cemented the fact of Michiganians’ toughness in my mind.  The people in the Upper Peninsula are pretty fearsome, and all of them seem to make their living doing incredibly hard things like it’s no big deal.  Half of the people up there were miners not too many decades ago, and the UP of Michigan is about the least pleasant place one would ever think to mine.  Twenty degrees below zero and buried in snow in the winter.  Attacked by hordes of the incomparably vicious black flies in the summer.  Hauling heavy iron ore, blasting holes when you can’t feel your fingers, and, quite frequently, dying in horrific cave-ins.  Fun times, guys.  The tour guide had a blatant morbid streak and insisted upon taking us to see the prison, which admittedly was architecturally lovely.  It seems the Marquette prison has quite the reputation because of its inhospitable location; the rest of the state prisons threaten to send you up there “to the ice” if you misbehave.  The guide also told the story of Etienne Brule, my dearly departed ancestor, with great relish whilst we were all having our lunch.  Though I guess that was fitting, since poor Etienne was also eaten…

The nautical dance was a grand success, and quite a few people dressed up, which made it even more fun.  Aside from my British Royal Navy officer, we had several pirates, quite a few sailors, a gondolier, the occasional Hawaiian shirt, and a full-fledged voyageur, complete with fur pelts (we would’ve been in trouble, had any animal rights activists found us).  Simone broke out her ballroom dancing skills and tried to teach the rest of us clodhoppers a thing or two, which was a blast.  Setup for the dance was fraught with peril; my uncle thought it would be neat to have a canoe with a “voyageur” (Jean-Pierre, who looked suspiciously like a scarecrow with a beard and a coonskin cap) sitting in it for ambience.  This was fine.  Except the dance room was on the second floor of the hotel, and the canoe was very large.  Picture for a moment my uncle and the valiant, long-suffering bellman struggling up the stairs with a massive, dripping canoe (it had rained), and realizing that it wouldn’t turn the corner of the stairway, which is enclosed by very large windows.  “We’ll have to turn it vertically, boys!” cried my uncle.  My mother gasped and called, “The window!”  Observers covered their eyes in horror.   The canoe lurched, tapped the glass daintily, rose into the air like a reenactment of the tilting Titanic, and somehow made it up the stairs.  Fortunately, the hotel’s event coordinator didn’t see the monstrosity until it was safely in the dance room, and to her credit she only froze in horrified shock for a second or two before mustering up a smile and an “Oh…wow, ok.”  Jean-Pierre seemed pleased with the arrangement, though.

Our other adventures included several trips to the harbor break walls (very exciting, as we had some fairly high winds while we were there), to the Maritime Museum, to Presque Isle (where we were soaked by the spray hitting the Black Rocks), to Pictured Rocks Lakeshore, and to Tahquamenon Falls.   We went canoeing in some wildly unpredictable weather, played tag through a playground, and ate many delicious meals all together.  One day we went to my uncle’s farm, picked apples, and made cider from them.  Most of this was in cold, windy, rainy weather—which I actually didn’t mind a bit.  It rained every day we were there except one, I think, but to me the Upper Peninsula is always beautiful, regardless of sunshine.  We discovered that Mike, the long-suffering bellman from the canoe escapade (and our subsequent companion in many of the above adventures), had an incredible voice, so one night we went to listen to his choir practice in a beautiful old church, which was a magical experience.  The whole trip was phenomenal, and nobody wanted to leave.  I dearly hope we can go back again next year; the odds are certainly in favor for somewhere in Michigan, even if Marquette doesn’t work out.

Now all of my cool internet finds are old and musty, but if you’re still interested, I’ll put them in a separate post below so this doesn’t get any lengthier than it already is.

Hold your horses, here’s the oldness of the internet.







You seem to have stumbled upon a storytelling of ravens. Watch for falling collective nouns; you may find a wing of dragons or a charm of hummingbirds caught in your hair. Hardhats are recommended.

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