nightdog_barks: (Glass Full of Rain)
May is traditionally one of our wettest months here (if not the wettest), and yet this year it was unusually dry. But the first two days of June have been on-and-off good rain. It's raining right now, a heavy, steady downpour. Needless to say, it is INCREDIBLY humid.
nightdog_barks: Man on a white horse (Passion)
So I read Kij Johnson's The Dream-Quest of Vellitt Boe and really liked it. It's basically sort of a fanfic remix of H.P. Lovecraft's The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath, with the protagonist changed to a middle-aged lady professor of mathematics. Reader, I loved her. Vellitt Boe was smart and sensible, and I could've easily read another hundred pages of her adventures (my paperback copy was only 165 pages, so it's a very short book). I know she could easily have slipped into Mary Sue-dom, but she really didn't ping my Sue-dar at all. Okay, I did think the Quest went on a little too long, but that was my only complaint. Two thumbs up, 9/10.

Also I have been watching Class on BBC America and enjoying it, especially Katherine Kelly as Miss Quill. I also watched the first episode of American Gods and thought it was pretty good (I read Gaiman's book years and years ago but don't recall a great deal about it). I am amused to see that Ricky Whittle (playing Shadow Moon, the main character) is a Brit -- I thought he was an American. :D

Weather has turned cool and windy again. This is an up and down spring.
nightdog_barks: Illustrated close-up of a bird's head grasping a red berry in its beak (Bird with Berry)
The completely ridiculous "winter" weather continues -- it is 81 degrees here right now (27.2 Celsius), and it feels as though it's 83 because the wind is out of the south. We have the back door and windows open, and I've put Layla's bed cover in the wash and the interior bedding outside to air out. If it continues like this (and it's supposed to through at least next week) I'll have to start looking for tomato plants. Which is nuts but whatever.

Finished Rivers of London and ordered the next book in the series, Moon Over Soho. In the meantime I am reading Walter Isaacson's biography of Steve Jobs, which so far is a terrific story and very interesting. I have also picked up (but not yet started) The Letters of the Younger Pliny, because I was reading an excerpt somewhere where he wrote to a friend asking if he believed in ghosts and it was just fascinating. :D
nightdog_barks: Retro comic illustration of a woman wearing a futuristic space helmet by W.T. Benda (Rocket Woman)
And it's a warm start to February, although a cold front is actually in the process of moving through. The sun is out and it's been very dry for a while now.

FINALLY finished the first volume of the Hitler bio (second volume isn't out yet), and there was much rejoicing. Thanks to two old friends' strong recommendation, I am now reading Ben Aaronovitch's Rivers of London and enjoying it thoroughly. :D

Sunshine

Jan. 4th, 2017 04:02 pm
nightdog_barks: A reclining winged cow reads a book (Reading critter)
Well, the fourth day of the new year is bright, but it was cloudy and grey earlier. It's still damp and chilly out, though. Supposedly we have a chance of snow flurries Friday morning. :D

Reading Michael Chabon's Moonglow, and so far it is very good but wow, the narration jumps around (in time).

Have resolved to try and finish some more Housefic WIPs. :-)

Hello 2017

Jan. 1st, 2017 02:57 pm
nightdog_barks: Painting of a white crow or raven with a pomegranate seed in its beak (White Raven)
Well, the first day of 2017 here is GORGEOUS. 63 warm degrees (17.2 Celsius, and really, it feels much warmer than that) and sunny. Both new calendars are up (Sierra Club in the bedroom, Audubon Society in the kitchen), and there's laundry in the wash. Layla was Not Pleased about the neighborhood fireworks last night (especially when someone set off what sounded like an M-80 close by), but she's happy and fine today.

Also today, I went out on the deck and discovered that SOMEONE had stolen three ripe lemons from our little Meyer lemon tree. There were seven there yesterday; I have picked the remaining four to keep them out of GRASPING PAWS. (I am blaming the opossum who apparently lives nearby.) Oddly enough, the three ripe Satsuma oranges on the other tree were untouched. :D
nightdog_barks: (Oak Leaves)
What a difference a day makes! It rained for quite a while yesterday morning, and it didn't get out of the 60s (the 15s) all day. It was wonderful. Today the sun is out and it's pleasantly cool. Layla is ecstatic. :D

In other news, I am happy because my copy of the new biography of Shirley Jackson (by Ruth Franklin) was delivered this morning. Really looking forward to reading.
nightdog_barks: (Jackrabbit Sun)
I mean, I've had to close the windows and turn the a/c back on. It's in the 90s outside and it feels close to 100. This is ALL WRONG.

Sigh. Almost finished with Cloudstreet. Not sure what is up next.
nightdog_barks: (Red Daisy)
1) It rained some earlier today and we are supposed to have more, but right now it is sunny and warm (and humid).

2) I was reading Black Deutschland and it was pretty good, but I have to admit it was also somewhat ... boring. So I thought, "Oh, I'll put this aside for a moment and read Rabih Alameddine's An Unnecessary Woman, which I've been looking forward to!" So okay, I pick up Unnecessary Woman, which is about the life of a Lebanese woman in Beirut, and I'm reading it, and then I come to page 43. The narrator, Aaliya, is bartering sex for a gun, because her apartment has been broken into. Her partner is Ahmad, who used to work in her bookshop but has since moved up in the world (so to speak) to become a feared militia torturer. Cut because squick ...  )

SO. I get it, I know that I'm intended to read this as darkly absurd and ridiculous, a comedy of the human condition. But all I can think is, DUDE, WTF? Dear Reader, I have not been able to continue with this book, and I am not sure I will finish it. I'm probably overreacting, but to me, that is just such a weird choice as a writer to make. :-P

3) I am now reading John Scalzi's Old Man's War, which is at least some decent brain candy.

4) Is anyone going to watch the first Presidential debate on Monday night? The NY Times is predicting "Super Bowl type numbers" in viewership, and I think they're full of shit just don't see that.

5) On our walk last night we saw a tiny baby toad that was about the size of my thumbnail. :D

Five things make a post.
nightdog_barks: (Green Tree)
Ugh, I hate this time of year, and it's always like this. It's the middle of September -- it's supposed to be getting cooler, but instead it gets HOTTER. At least it's only one more week? Seriously, fuck this weather.

Ahem. Well, even if it's not cool outside, Mister Nightdog is cooking a brisket and the house smells wonderful. I finished reading Uprooted and really liked it, although I'll admit I think it could've lost about 20 pages and had a better, tighter ending because honestly, the ending seemed to go on FOREVER. After that I read Kelly Link's early collection Stranger Things Happen. I liked all of it except one story -- it was called "Louise's Ghost" and both the main characters were named Louise. No thank you.

Now I am reading Darryl Pinckney's Black Deutschland, which is about a gay black (American) guy living in West Berlin in the 1980s, before the Wall came down. It's pretty good.

Oh, and also I think Layla and I heard a coyote last night. We heard a high-pitched yip-yip-yip, but it didn't sound like a little dog yip, it sounded like a big dog doing a yippy sing-song. Whatever it was, Layla did not like it. :D
nightdog_barks: The character Geordie Keating from Grantchester walking away (Geordie Walking Away)
August I am so tired of you plz to go away now kthxbai.

Oh, July

Jul. 24th, 2016 03:34 pm
nightdog_barks: Graphic of a bluegill fish (Fish bluegill)
Ugh, so tired and blah. Have not been sleeping well, and the weather ... well, it's July. Feh.

1) Reading Louise Erdrich's LaRose. I am an Erdrich fan, and so far this one is very good.

2) Watched the 20/20 episode about the Texas A&M University bonfire collapse last night and enjoyed it, although the show presented an incredibly squeaky-clean version of the events and didn't bother to do even a few minutes of a post-mortem as to WHY the disaster happened. (There's a very good write-up of the underlying causes here, in a Texas Monthly article by Paul Burka.)

BUT. What I wanted to say was that there was a fascinating moment with the woman who was with Public Relations at A&M at the time, who described seeing the dead students being covered with white shrouds, and how for years afterward, she would dream of cocoons in a dark forest. It was deeply affecting and undeniably creepy, and it was so, so striking.

3) No more tomatoes. Peppers are holding on. Lemon oregano that I'd had for a few years is a complete loss. Mint and basil are thriving. Have seen nothing on our nightly walks except cockroaches and tiny baby geckos. Oh, and toads sometimes. Layla tries to catch the cucarachas and geckos. :D
nightdog_barks: (Glass Full of Rain)
This is the third straight day we have had TORRENTIAL rain. It is like monsoon season or something.

Watched the Tony Awards last night and really enjoyed it -- the performances from Waitress, The Color Purple, Bright Star, and Hamilton were just outstanding.

And ... now the rain is letting up, although it's still thundering. Layla felt the need to come sit in my lap for a little while. All 60 pounds of her. :D

Hello June

Jun. 1st, 2016 03:24 pm
nightdog_barks: A man's eye looks out from a red frame something like a Ouija board (Trademark Eye)
I think it has rained almost every day for two weeks. Everything is green and growing like crazy, but it's also warm and soggy and humid. It feels like we're living in Houston, which would not be bad if this ... was actually Houston. :-P

Watched The 400 Blows last night. I had turned it on (it was on Turner Classic Movies) just for background noise, but then I found I couldn't look away. Jeez, what a film. Sad and transfixing and yeah, okay, I'll call it brilliant. Who would've thought a simple movie (with subtitles!) about a kid falling through the cracks could be so mesmerizing? Two thumbs way up.

Also watched Person of Interest last night, and between it and 400 Blows, I felt completely drained afterward, as though I'd spent hours and hours climbing up a dark, mist-shrouded mountain. Cut for spoilers ...  )

What else? Layla is still fascinated by the little anole lizards and barks at them. I am almost to the end of Dead Wake, and holy shit, the sadness. Did you guys know that it took the Titanic close to three hours to sink? It took the Lusitania eighteen minutes. EIGHTEEN MINUTES. Erik Larson's details of the sinking are just excruciatingly heartbreaking. An absolute nightmare.

A few other things:

1) This is so incredibly beautiful.
2) Hic habitat Minotaurus
3) Only a few more days of wearing this heart monitor thingy. omg I am so glad.

Tuesday

Jan. 12th, 2016 06:42 pm
nightdog_barks: Illuminated manuscript head and forequarters of a small blue dragon (Blue dragon)
Oh my god so sleepy. I am really hoping the chronic insomnia eases up this summer, when I should be able to quit taking the anastrozole. :-P

But! It was beautiful today -- relatively warm with a clear blue sky. And I got Elizabeth Strout's new book My Name Is Lucy Barton in the mail! AND. I got another one of these wonderful fleece pullovers! They're fleecier and heavier than the women's line, and these winter days I'm always cold (honestly, I think my internal thermostat got reset five years ago). So anyway, I'm happy about those things. :D

Big Wind

Dec. 14th, 2015 07:43 pm
nightdog_barks: Painting study of a sparrow in flight against an off-white background (Sparrow Flight)
The weather has been absolutely spring-like the last few days, and on Sunday morning at about 2 a.m. we got a spring-like storm, with straight-line winds of about 40 mph that knocked down two sections of our backyard wood fence. So we had fence guys repairing that today, which was almost more fun than Layla could bear (she barked energetically and enthusiastically). The wind also tossed her kiddie wading pool (empty) across the deck and turned over a pot of rosemary. I'm just glad no TREES came down. Phew. :D

Reading Stacy Schiff's Cleopatra: A Life, and am really enjoying it. I need to look for a good social history of Ancient Egypt because this book is making me realize how little I know! For instance, this footnote on a discussion of bureaucratic corruption:

The one exception has been shown to have been the police. Though Greek at the higher level and Egyptian at the lower, they made for an egalitarian force, uncommonly efficient and responsive, on occasion even reprimanding officials. They took the law seriously. They also worked more or less autonomously, considerately relieving the Ptolemies of concerns with "stolen donkeys and assaults on grandmothers."

Ancient Egyptian detectives! I know there are novels about Ancient Roman detectives ... has anyone written about their Egyptian cousins?

December

Dec. 6th, 2015 04:27 pm
nightdog_barks: (Winter tree)
I seem to be going through a cranky phase lately. My walking has slacked way off (I'm still walking, just shorter distances). It's darker at night, much darker, and I didn't think that would affect me, but it does. Peoples' Christmas decorations are pretty, but ... it's dark. Really dark. At least the stars are incredibly bright? :-P

Reading Stephen King's new collection of short stories. Two observations: (1) Stephen King should never write poetry (two of the stories are poems), and (2) I was highly amused that in one story, the protagonist is named ... James Wilson. :D

Somehow we have become semi-addicted to episodes of American Pickers on The Hitler History Channel. It undoubtedly means my table in Hell is ready, but I'm amused that apparently there is no Mike/Frank slash fic for the show. :D

Also watched the fall finale for Doctor Who last night and enjoyed it. Eleven will always be my Doctor, but good god Peter Capaldi is amazing (and I still wish The Hour had been renewed because holy shit Randall Brown).

Wet Monday

Nov. 16th, 2015 03:20 pm
nightdog_barks: (Glass Full of Rain)
It is grey and damp and dark and DREARY here, just like it has been for the last three days. :-P

Have been reading Donna Tartt's The Little Friend, her novel after The Secret History and before The Goldfinch. Like all Donna Tartt novels, apparently, it is LONG. And dense. It is good, but there have been a few moments where I've been tempted to yell WILL YOU JUST GET ON WITH IT JFC. Also have recently bought the Booker Prize winner, Marlon James' A Brief History of Seven Killings, and Stephen King's new collection of short stories.

What else? IDK, but I will say that although I've never been much of a Green Bay Packers fan, Aaron Rodgers is one hell of a stand-up guy.

Acorns

Nov. 6th, 2015 03:45 pm
nightdog_barks: (Oak Leaves)
It appears this is the year for a bumper crop of acorns. They are everywhere, and the noise they make when they randomly fall is like someone throwing them at the house or at cars. Also it is much cooler -- the stars are MUCH brighter at night (hello, Orion!), and last night, after rainstorms moved through, I could see soundless flashes of lightning far off in the east. Layla has been invigorated by the cooler weather; given that she's still mostly big puppy, this can be problematic. :D
nightdog_barks: (Jalapenos)
1) Remember when I said the weather had definitely changed? Well, I lied. Or, I think the better description is THE WEATHER LIED. It is 91 degrees right now (32.8 degrees Celsius). Tomorrow the high is supposed to be 89. Yesterday it was 90. IT IS SUPPOSED TO BE 78 OR BELOW. //weeps//

2) Finished Bettyville and really liked it. Started Richard K. Morgan's Altered Carbon and am generally enjoying it so far.

3) Still walking at night with Layla and I think we are up to almost two miles (I will have to take my pedometer to be certain). We are not seeing nearly as much wildlife -- we saw a pair of armadillos last week and a cottontail a few weeks ago, but just crickets and toads otherwise. Mister Nightdog sees rabbits almost every morning early when he and Layla walk, but there's just not very much at night now.

4) Speaking of Layla, this morning Mister N was mixing up a cleaning compound for the kitchen sink (vinegar, baking soda, boiling water) and she barked at the whistling teakettle. And then, for good measure, she barked at the plastic jug of vinegar on the kitchen counter. Because it was Wrong. :D

5) A missing piece of the Epic of Gilgamesh has been discovered! It's a slightly more complete version of Tablet V, and new details include birds, monkeys, and cicadas in the Cedar Forest, home of the gods. There's a somewhat longer report here, with more pictures.

Five things, as they say, make a post. :D

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What I'm Reading Now

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The Night Ocean, by Paul La Farge

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The Astaires: Fred & Adele, by Kathleen Riley

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