Smells Like Lamp Oil and Candle-Smoke

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Just about 9 am the oven started clicking and the kitchen light flickering. Did a ghost move in when my mom left for work?

No, the power grid was just on the way out.

Less than an hour later, the power went out throughout the house. Well, it was sunny outside, and so not particularly dramatic, but nonetheless unsettling. Especially after calling the power company revealed that they didn’t know why it was out and it wasn’t supposed to be back until noon. And then realizing that not even the radio station had power—or for that matter, anyone else in town.

One of the few places with a phone not reliant on electricity, the librarian picked up the phone when I called. Naturally, the library itself was not open for business, but I could come in to volunteer if willing. I was because with the power out what else was there to do?

Actually, the library had pretty good light, at least enough to read the shelves. (Make sure the books are in proper alphabetical order.) The series books were all over the place: Twilight on both the ‘new’ and regular collections, Brisingr the same, and then I had to move over several series books from the general YA collection over to the series and almost ran out of room. And still more should have been.

And lo, I was entertained for two hours.

And learned that apparently power was out not just through town, but also most of the county. But wasn’t supposed to come on again until six at night. And the gas stations were closed and the grocery stores closed. The book sale, held by the Friends of the Library, stayed open though, and called Cedarville’s radio station to advertise. So at least at that point they had power, though later I heard most of Surprise Valley lost power too. Anyway, because the sale was open, I could pick up the last book they held for me and paid with the last of my spare change, so I can’t get any more.

Then I went home, and gossiped with the rest of the family. RiteAid was closed, my brother might need to go to Klamath Falls, OR to finish his homework, and the power wasn’t coming on again until midnight.

What is there to do when the power is out and it’s a sunny day?

I’d killed some time by riding my bike to the library (and back). Cat Cat came with me outside and I hula-hooped for maybe ten minutes. But I’m not outdoorsy and there aren’t really any convenient local trails for hiking and I’m not currently on good terms with the dog.

Time to catch up with reading!

  • Finished Spies. Beautiful, shivery lyricism all the way through Stephen’s perception convincing both as his actions/reactions as a child to the events and knowing the overly of his older self. His conviction, despite his doubts, never wavers and throughly ensnares the reader. His world opens tragically but segues almost smoothly into his later years, and though it up ends his life, he lets it be eclipsed by what comes after.  And, and, it’s too good to review, because I find good books harder to talk about unless they need defending like New Moon with the Old.

My troubles are getting not better but worse. Everything’s getting more and more confused inside my head. I’m haunted by the dark figure who’s simultaneously falling through the moonless night and lying on the bare earth in a strange country, dying of cold and hunger. All around him, mocking is loneliness, is the sweet reek of some intangible happiness and the faint melancholy notes of an old sad song called Lamorna.”

  • Also finished the last three pages of The City of Falling Angels that I just couldn’t quite get through last night when I was reading the last few chapters. This might be because when I finally got to the last chapter I was reading every page twice because I kept forgetting to pay attention. Recommendation: pick it up from the library, read the prologue and first chapter, and turn it in again.Instead of actually focusing on the real Venice, Berendt focuses on what the old, titled, aristocrats of Venice envision it as. So yes, Venice is a cesspool of inefficient bureaucracy and corruption, but it’s Venice and therefore awesome.  And the nicer the speech and the prettier the face, the more Berendt is on that side; for instance, in one particular dispute over Ezra Pounds papers he has this observation on the ‘bad guys’.

Our meeting was perfunctory, and although I was neither charmed nor terribly impressed by the couple, the  interested me.

Admittedly, their actions had painted them as more than a little guilty as charged. But, at this point more than halfway through the book, I was so irritated by the beautiful, perfect, wonderful aristocrats of Venice I wasn’t inclined to go along with his conclusion. Especially as this was first meeting! Some objectivity.

He didn’t need objectivity. I’d just had much higher hopes after all his talk of finding the real people of Venice. No, he just wanted the pretty people.

Also, the rest of the book is entirely disjointed. Each chapter after the Venice is primarily about some bit of scandalous gossip of misbehavior among the rich people, so be prepared to learn a lot of names. Who won’t show up again until the very last chapter most likely. The anecdotes are progressively less connected, and the later chapters entirely lost track of the supposed frame (of the burning of the Venice and its rebuilding). Until the very last chapter. Frankly, Berendt’s perspective became rather ugly and dismissive.

In the end, an unpleasant read.

  • However, I also pulled off an old new book from my shelves. That is, a book I bought a while ago, and never got around to reading. Actually, it’s two books in one (which I didn’t realize) and I only finished the first. But it still counts. And I think I can be forgiven by not realizing it was:Jane-Emily and Witches' Children
    Witches’ Children doesn’t receive equal billing until the title page. Even on the back, Jane-Emily is the only story to get described, with mention of a “bonus novel”. You know, the kind that takes up almost exactly half the full length. I suppose the publishers decided Witches’ Children wasn’t a famous enough title to sell them both, but then again I’d never heard of Jane-Emily. It’s a lovely cover (with actually much stronger green on the author’s name).

    And it’s a very genuine novel. The characters are engaging, both ‘romances’ are convincing, the Emily-spectre is frightening, and the resolution satisfying. Jane really acts like a little girl, and little-Adam is similarly plausible as a preteen boy (I’ve had issues with the portrayal of fictional children lately). The entire story is just shy of 140 pages, but Clapp still manages beautiful character development, a suspenseful ending, and a believable romance! But it helps that the writing is spare, and though Louise does dwell a little on her dresses, she’s only eighteen, and rather silly in the beginning. And there aren’t any extraneous details or subplots. Though characters like Katie and old Dr. Frost only get one scene each, they don’t need anymore and still manage to be developed, if static, characters in their own right.

    I call a lesson plan for Stephenie Meyer

  • I did get a few chapters of The Nobility of Failure in, but nothing really remarkable happened. It doesn’t help that I know so little about Japanese ancient history and he keeps throwing around new names, and multiple names for the same person every once in a while. And while his style of footnotes don’t interrupt the reading (they’re numbered in the margins alone, and reference the back of the book) it makes it a little harder to read them along with the text. I just wait ’til I finish the chapter.

I also wrote some notes for my next post, and…well, no, I don’t think I accomplished anything else. I was going to clean my room today—but wanted to watch The Search for Spock while I did, because ironically having something in the background keeps me focused. I also wanted to run—but I will only run on the treadmill, because I don’t dare run outside where people might see me. And I didn’t get any revision work done—but I have to revise on the computer, because I want to submit a story to Watershed, but the computer screen adds needed objectivity to my own work.

And my dad lit the two oil lamps when it was still light at six, and pulled out the Christmas candles when the darkness truly fell around seven. At 7:40 the power came back on and stayed on and we got internet back and scattered. Within five minutes of hearing the hum of machinery four rooms had lights, the TV was on, and we had three computers plugged in.

Hey, I had an excuse. I needed to write this post.

The Flickering Torch Mystery

Totally not relevant, but I was so happy when this popped up in the random recommended pictures! I loved the HBs!

But when the noise came back up again I missed the quiet. Although I don’t know that I’ll miss reading by lamplight, which rather strains the eyes. And I don’t think I’ll miss the next book I’d started, The Lost Girls. The females of the Darling line of Peter Pan fame get picked up by Pan every generation. They tell their daughters “Pan will come and he’s beautiful and will take you to Neverland once you hit puberty and it will be wonderful, except then you’ll come back and nothing will be as awesome again.” And really? Creepy. Just tell her to tell Peter to get out. And then teach her to get a life. So far they’re all whiny and unsympathetic. They conclude all men are childish and exploitive, but I don’t believe them. There is missing grandmother Jane (!) but I don’t think I’ll stick around for the off chance she’s awesome.

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