Old but still awesome news: Two of my very good friends got married (to each other, conveniently) a few weeks ago, so I roadtripped up to Winston to see all sorts of lovely people being extremely happy.  A week after that, I journeyed to the Charlotte area for our annual pilgrimage to the Carolina Renaissance Festival.  I’ve been so many times that the real attraction is just hanging out with friends in a cool location, but they did have a few new things this year, including a highly energetic bagpipe group, Cu Dubh.

The weather this past weekend was exquisite, and I spent a fabulous day on Sunday exploring the Langdon woods, wrestling with Z, climbing an old deer stand, and seeing newborn kittens.  My friends planted more radishes than they know what to do with, so we picked absurd amounts of root vegetables and made radish soup, which was delicious.

In other terribly exciting news, we got a puppy! Or rather, Sam got a puppy, and I’m in the enviable position of having a squirming, happy little dog around without having to be responsible for him. : P Gentry is a black lab mix with a slightly grave, rather concerned expression on his tiny face most of the time, and he looks like he should be wearing a cravat. We’re getting along splendidly, in spite of the fact that he’s teething on everything he can reach and a little hazy on how housetraining is supposed to work.

Books: Oh, so many books.  A friend recommended Bloody Jack by L.A. Meyer, which is a young adult adventure that takes place in the British Royal Navy, so you better believe I got that sucker on interlibrary loan as fast as was humanly possible.  The highly enjoyable tale is told from the perspective of a female street urchin who joins the Navy by masquerading as a cabin boy.  The author does an excellent job of selling the somewhat implausible premise, and the back of the book mentions that he was heavily influenced by Horatio Hornblower, so I was happy as a clam.  There are apparently quite a few more books in the series, which I will have to track down.

The Last Unicorn by Peter S. Beagle is a fantasy classic I had somehow managed never to read.  I regret my procrastination; this book was beautiful.  The title had scared me off for years because I thought it sounded entirely too girly, but the book was unexpectedly terrifying and lovely.   It reminded me of something I could never quite put my finger on; but then again, good books often feel familiar, even if I’ve never read them before.  I highly recommend checking this one out.

Ursula K. Le Guin is adept at the art of the short story, and I thoroughly enjoyed Changing Planes.  Not quite your usual short story collection, these tales are all unified by the titular concept of interplanary travel.  The theory goes, according to Le Guin, that given the right combination of discomfort, stress, and indigestion that one finds in airports while waiting for a flight, one can slip between and travel to other planes of existence.  After all, you were changing planes anyway.  The stories are full of Le Guin’s usual dry wit; I particularly enjoyed this one: “The airport bookstore did not sell books, only bestsellers, which Sita Dulip cannot read without risking a severe systemic reaction.”  Each story is more of an ethnographic snapshot of the society on each plane, and Le Guin’s expertise in anthropology shines through in every vignette.

Going Postal by Terry Pratchett is my very favorite Discworld novel so far.  Pratchett, while always hilarious, sometimes feels a little scattered to me, but this book was cohesive, engaging, and gut-splitting.  In between the hilarity (“The figure stopped to cough long and hard, making a noise like a wall being hit repeatedly with a bag of rocks. Moist saw that it had a beard of the short bristled type that suggested that its owner had been interrupted halfway through eating a hedgehog.”), the ludicrously lovable characters, and the excellent premise, serious moral themes pop up and whisper at you as well, such as this one: “And no practical definition of freedom would be complete without the freedom to take the consequences. Indeed, it is the freedom upon which all the others are based.”  Oh, just go read it now.  You’ll thank me.