February 28th, 2011

reading/writing, books

(no subject)

I'm *loving* Nine Princes in Amber. I think I may be enjoying it more than any other book Shannon and I have read aloud together over the years. (Though Shannon did amazing voices for the rabbits in Watership Down.)

On audio, I've been listening to Jasper Fforde's The Big Over Easy, and it's been a lot of fun. Silly, but fun. I'm a big Jasper Fforde fan.

I did a lot of boring housework today, slept a lot, ran some errands, and just generally bustled around. Shannon is in the final few days of writing a book (about the history of the role-playing industry) which needs to go to the publisher on Tuesday, so I haven't been seeing much of him. He takes breaks for meals and not much else. But I've always been pretty satisfied with just my own company (when I was in high school, I remember thinking that I would be well-suited to become a hermit or a nun), especially if there are books around, so I don't mind. I know I'll get him back soon. We're planning to get dinner out on Tuesday to celebrate ... assuming that the book is actually done, which I'm sure it will be.

I have a metal sign I bought in London many many years ago, which Shannon doesn't like and so which has not been put on a wall for as long as I've been living with him (about 11 years?). I'm not even sure I had it up before that, as I was living in an apartment with Katherine and so didn't have an entire apartment to myself to decorate.

Anyway, the sign reads:
London & North
Western Rly

It is forbidden for vagrants,
beggars, itinerant musicians
and females of doubtful
reputation to enter these premises.
May 1901 - By order
I've always been amused by the phrases "itinerant musicians" and "females of doubtful reputation," so the sign has always made me smile. Of course, the makers of the sign were not proponents of my beloved serial comma, and that is a bit distracting, but I can get past it.

Anyway, I've decided that I'm going to hang this sign up again. It's been sitting, propped up, on a book shelf in my office for a long time, but it deserves more respect than that. So I'm planning to hang it up tomorrow on the door to my office. I'd do it now, but (having spent almost my entire childhood living in apartments) I have an outdated queasiness about hammering nails at midnight. I might disturb someone!

Back in the days when I had it on my wall, I always joked that perhaps I should not be permitted to enter my own apartment, given that some might consider me a "female of doubtful reputation." Ha.

Tomorrow morning our garage door is being installed, and Ting (the contractor who's been handling the garage project in general) has said he plans to come over, just to make sure everything goes okay. He's so responsible! He's fabulous.

After tomorrow, there will be one more day of work on the garage. Wow! I can't believe it! For a while there, it looked like it would never happen! It's terribly exciting. I keep meaning to take photos to post here, but I always forget.
dim sum

(no subject)

Our garage now has a door! It's a sort of light grayish green, which doesn't match the rest of the house or the garage, but that will be changed soon. But at least it has a door! I've even put a few things into the garage! Just a rake, a weed wacker, some paint cans ... that sort of thing ... but it feels quite luxurious to have somewhere to put that stuff! And no one can steal it! And the garage isn't going to fall down to bury it in a pile of rubble!

The city inspector (inspector *from* the city, rather than one who *inspects* cities) will be coming on Thursday to do the final inspection. And then all that remains is the painting of the door! And then the Extended Garage Building Adventure will finally end! And the Extended Garage Usage Adventure will commence!

I also chatted a bit with Ting about some other home improvement projects we might like to hire him for in the future, since I love him so dearly (and our house needs lots of work), and he said he would do some thinking and give us some quotes. Hurray for someday living in a less dilapidated house!

Today, while hanging around the house, unable to read due to the occasional very loud machine-type noises emanating from the garage, held captive by the presence of Ting the Contractor Man and Wayne the Garage Door Installation Man (well, "Boy," really, as he looked about 20 years old) and their occasional questions for me and such, I got a bug in my ear to get dim sum. "Mmmm," said I to myself (while watching the famous episode of "The Twilight Zone" that ends with the anguished cry "It's a cookbook!"), "going out to dim sum by myself isn't a terrible lot of fun ... but I *could* go down to Sun Sing Pastry (on 8th Street in Oakland Chinatown), a little takeaway dim sum place Katherine introduced me to many many years ago. Their buns and dumplings are very tasty and *very* cheap, and then I could just bring some home, and Shannon could get a treat when he took a break from slaving over his computer!" So I decided to do this once the garage was dealt with for the day, and Shannon urged me to just get enough dim sum to give us both dinner, instead of just picking up a snack. Yum!

So I headed out to downtown Oakland and walked to Sun Sing and bought all kinds of wacky stuff. There were the usual baked bbq pork buns, sesame balls (as big as your head!), and ha gao (steamed shrimp dumplings), but I also just pointed at a number of interesting looking things, asked if they had beef in them (Shannon can't eat beef), and then nodded and figured we'd see whether we liked them or not. I got myself some kind of coconut bun (shaped like a hot dog bun), too, which I'd never had before but which was terrific. I also picked a hockey-puck-shaped steamed dumpling I'd never seen before that had pork, vegetables, and corn inside. (In my experience, you don't see a lot of corn in dim sum, or in Chinese food in general.) Shannon said it was kind of weird, but he ate it.

I got us plenty of food for both of us for a delicious dinner, and it only cost $7. Sun Sing rocks! Even with the $3.50 I paid for BART fare, it was still very affordable for something so enjoyable, and for a nice change of pace. Not as healthy as I would have eaten otherwise, but it's pleasant once in a while.

Now Shannon is back to his writing (he seems to be feeling a bit stressed about finishing by the deadline tomorrow) and I'm going to return to reading Franzen's Freedom, now that all's silent on the garage front. I need to return the book to the library on Wednesday (I can't renew it, because there's a queue of other people wanting to read it.), and I'm only half done reading it, but I'm working on obtaining another copy so that I can finish the entire novel before my book group meets on March 16. I thought about just buying the book (what a concept!), but I don't think that will be necessary.
reading/writing, books

Nine Princes in Amber (Zelazny)

I've been loving the writing in Nine Princes in Amber. Here are two of my favorite bits from tonight's chapter:

A woman sat upon the throne in the glassite room I almost recalled, and her hair was green, though streaked with silver, and her eyes were round as moons of jade and her brows rose like the wings of olive gulls. Her mouth was small, her chin was small; her cheeks were high and wide and rounded.

I love that last sentence, the repetition of the clause structure, then the shifting to another clause structure within which there is a different kind of repetition. It sounds almost like poetry to me, and I'm very glad that I'm hearing this book read aloud instead of reading it silently to myself.

The blood billowed above them, and I suddenly realized I had known mad, sad, bad Vincent Van Gogh, and it was really too bad he couldn't have painted this.

I love the rhythm of "had ... mad, sad, bad ... Van Gogh," though I'm not so sure about the repetition of the word "bad" later in the sentence.

The book is full of alliteration, repetition, rhyme, and vivid, dream-like imagery. I don't remember The Lord of Light (the only other Zelazny I've read) being so poetic, but I wasn't hearing it read aloud, and that probably makes a big difference.