Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Happy Solstice!

It's all lighter from here - the sun is coming back!

May you all find many happy memories, and the new year be full of light, warmth, love, and laughter!

Saturday, December 10, 2016

The art in my life

Over at Cat Rotator's Quarterly, Alma posed the question: "Does modern culture have room for Rubens and Rembrandt, for Van Eyche and Velazquez, for Caravaggio and Bernini, for DrĂ¼rer and Holbein?"

Well, generally my opinion of what the idiots in NYC, DC, and LA try to feed us as "modern culture" is soul-dead excrement with a Marxist core they can't articulate for the same reason fish don't think about water, and teenagers don't notice whining.

However, if we talk about modern culture as what those of us out here in reality are living and creating every day, there's plenty of room for it. There's also plenty of room for smaller, less well-known artists to make their living. Now that there's enough wealth in the society that it pretty much takes active self-harm and mental dysfunction to live as badly off as the patrons of the old dead dutch guys who knew how to paint, any of us can be a partial patron to an artists instead of them being tied to one merchant family or king. (Seriously: we have vaccines, entire closets full of clothes, ice in the summer, heat in the winter, exotic foods prepared for us year round, and replaced hordes of servants with the stove, microwave, dishwasher, laundry machines, and vacuum cleaner.)

Also, with the advent of prints, artists can paint once, and then sell that painting to hundreds, or even tens of thousands, of people. This means that art has disseminated all over the place, if we're willing to get it.

Around our house, for example, we just hung a James C Christensen print, and I still have to get the wire on the back of the frame to hang a commissioned Ken Nelson original. (A friend got it for me for my birthday. They're awesome. So is Ken!) I have a print of a Keith Greba watercolor in the office, and we have yet to hang a James Humble that we picked up at Libertycon.

There's still more art that we haven't framed yet - a few treasured pieces that Peter brought from South Africa, from an artist he knew there. (He had to leave most of his art when he emigrated. A painful parting, not unlike cutting off a limb to escape a trap.) There's even more art yet in a few "coffee table" books, because I can't afford the prints, much less the originals: Bev Doolittle, Stephen Lyman, and a collected works of Frederick Remington.

There are also smaller spots around the house that are getting prints and works by artists I've come to know and like as people, as well as artists, including Melissa Gay and Sam Flegal...

But coming back to the original question: yes, I will get a Monet or two. I have a spot in the spare bedroom in mind.

Friday, December 9, 2016

Cats and cream

I rarely have milk in the house, as half and half has far less lactose for more deliciousness. Even so, the cats have wheedled and miaou'ed us into getting it up to twice a day.

But Peter got a gallon of milk to make a proper British Christmas pudding and custard. (True to British food stereotypes, this is a custard that doesn't set. Rather defeats the point of custard, to my way of thinking. I love my man, and he loves his food flavoured with nostalgia, but I'm afraid we don't see eye to eye on what tastes like fruitcake drowned in custard gone wrong and runny to me.)

So we have a good part of a gallon of milk left over, and while some of it can go into tea, it's a lot less expensive than half and half, and can be doled out to the warm furry felines as a substitute. Easy, right?

...Kili likes it more than half and half. Ashbutt is just plain enthusiastic about any hint of food ever, but Kili has gone from knowing when to demand her due, to importuning us every time we turn on the tea kettle. I can't even make my first cuppa (black, two pieces of ice) without a faint desperate squeak and paws tapping my thigh.


Wednesday, December 7, 2016


Yesterday, in a fit of determination, my husband cleared a low mound of "stuff" that had been piled against a wall since it first came off the moving truck. Of course, said "stuff" did include the toolbox, so I had to track it down this morning for the utility knife and duct tape.

(Given nobody ever sees the metal legs of the bed frame, I have been constructing ugly and effective toe-savers: lengths of foam pipe insulation, with the utility knife providing cutouts where stringers come out one side, secured with a length of duct tape. I'm sure there's an expensive solution somewhere, but when I rammed a foot into one while making the bed today, it was annoying instead of followed by hopping, clutching the injured appendage, and making lots of whimpery noises. It'll do.)

After the wall was clear, I brought out a fine art print that I've had for going on fifteen years, and the studfinder, and we hung it on the wall. Hanging art is not exactly a giant undertaking, but once I had it up, I felt ridiculously pleased, as though I'd passed a mental milestone for "I live here" right up there with the bookshelves being unpacked.

Tonight, I tested out the fireplace with a firelog. The dampers do work, as does the firescreen (If I can keep a kitten from batting at the metal pull handles and biting the mesh.) Soon, I will acquire firewood so I can have bigger, better fires - but between books, art, and fire, this house is feeling like a truly relaxing home.

Life is good.

Monday, December 5, 2016

What a long, strange trip it's been.

Peter has Maxwell 5, Stoke the Flames Higher, released to the wilds of the internet today. It's been so long living with the book hanging over our heads, well over a year after he thought he could finish it, that it's still taking time to process the idea of the book being done, gone, out to readers.

(Okay, I still have promotion to do, although I got the newsletter out this morning. But that post-publication checklist is rapidly dwindling, especially with turning print and audio over to Castalia house.)

Now for that strange post-piece period in an artist's household, when Peter looks around and sees things that have been ignored for months under the fog of ill health and press of plot: the boxes in the living room that he plunked there when we moved in, back in February, and has been grumbling that he'll get to when he has time, and don't move them, wife, because you won't put them in the right heap in the garage. (The garage still has to be unpacked, too.)

Meanwhile, I wake up, take a deep breath, and look around, too, at the things that I've let slide: the pile of laundry I've been stealing clean clothes out of instead of folding, the floors that need swept, the pile of mail that wasn't urgent to deal with... And that diet and exercise thing. Blargh.

Some households make new year's resolutions, and base their spurts of activity annually. Some have the "when the kids are back in school." Ours, apparently, has "Once the book is done."

I feel better knowing I'm not alone, and other author spouses confirm this is normal, and the weirdness shall soon pass. Or, to quote one, "Yeah, two weeks. After about two weeks, he starts getting really distracted plotting, and then starts sneaking off to write instead of doing the chores..."