ellenkushner: (Default)
...And the story of how we got here - after time in Devon with Terri, then WFC in Brighton, then visiting David Almond in Northumberland, Lizza Aiken (and Geoff Ryman) in London, then flying to Marseille where Brutish Airways lost my luggage & everything went pear-shaped for a couple of days til we were able to retrieve it and find a place to stay that had actual heat (and a huge fireplace) in the face of a sudden brutal Mistral wind . . . Well, I've been putting up posts & photos on Facebook, but I know some of you do not Indulge, so here is my latest post, because it seems more LJ-ish than FB-ish, quand-meme:

OK, behold me justabout weeping with simple joy. Did I mention that our  gîte is in an old stable? (Which is why we have big plate glass window looking out onto walled garden) Owner lives on the other side, in the house that would have owned the stable.  He just appeared with a jar of his wife's fig jam, and a bottle of white Minervois wine - because we said how much we'd like the red wine and the amazing celestial plum preserves he presented us with when we arrived.  His Sister-in-Law, who speaks great English, just turned up to ask if we needed anything. And then he reappeared & invited us to tea in an hour. Where I bet his wife has more treats in store.... Poor Delia is trying to write her novel.  I'm just looking out the window at the olive tree, the clouds scudding before the howling wind, and trying to get a grip on myself.... Maybe I'll write tonight.  Or maybe I'll just suck in more happy goodness, and let it all out in a novel someday.

Here is the gîte we are renting for the week.  I feel like I could stay here a month.  Maybe next time?
http://en.gites-de-france.com/holiday-rentals-Villeneuve-Minervois-Cottage-11G694.html
http://www.gites-de-france.com/location-vacances-Villeneuve-Minervois-Gite-gites11_b2013.1.G694.G.html/site-proprietaire
ellenkushner: (Default)

'Cole was still full of the diet question.  He now lives chiefly on rhubarb tops--they have such a "foody" taste, his son thinks.  "Dear me! Poor fellow!" Whistler told him, "it sounds as if once long, long ago he had really eaten, and still has a dim memory of what food is!"  "And spinach," Cole added, "it's fine. We eat it raw.  It's wonderful, the things it does for you!" "But what does it do for you?" Whistler asked.  And Cole began a dissertation on the juices of the stomach. . . . . As he talked Cole was eating meat and drinking wine quite heartily.  The evening was not over successful.'

-- Diary entry, June 10, 1900, of Elizabeth & Joseph Pennell
ETA:   ALSO  posted this   on my Tumblr, if you are that way inclined, for easy   Reblogging

* * *

Packing for our drive down to Hollins University to teach for 6 weeks.  Great program: summer MFA/MA in Children's Lit!  Can't wait to get there - and cannot beliiiiiiieve how disruptive it's been to plan & pack for our absence.  We are just like that.  Probably has something to do with the fact that we live in state of constant chaos, so trying to live our regular lives and trying to get everything under control that we failed to do in the past 6 months while trying to anticipate anything we might wish we had done here or hope to get done there is a bit . . . . deep breath . . . . much.

Nonetheless, we will be in a car tonight.  I go to La Guardia to pick up the rental, which I absolutely hate doing, but I hate paying an extra $200 or so just for the chance to pick it 2 blocks from my house even more. (See?  New York isn't all Fun & Subways!) We will then pack it up, drive for a couple of hours, and then hit a roadside hotel.  This is because we are incapable of getting out of the house on a road trip before 3 or so. We've tried. It's hilarious.  And then we hit rush hour traffic, and are very demoralized.  So since we're both Night people, we thought Why not just give in?  And we wake up the next morning in a dingy hotel we can't wait to get out of, and are on the road right away!

Wish us luck.

The only thing I can't figure out is how to do Priceline when you don't really know where you'll be stopping.  Even with iPhones, it seems the 21st century penalizes for some kinds of spontaneity.

ellenkushner: (NYC: RSD)
It's unbelievable:  Almost impossible these days to find a room in NYC for under $200!  I recommend:

• This 10/12 NYTimes article:  http://frugaltraveler.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/10/16/7-manhattan-hotel-rooms-for-150-more-or-less/

Colonial House Inn, W. 22nd in Chelsea. Near the HighLine, the Flatiron Building, and a pretty decent branch of Grand Sichuan.

A little pricier, but perfect:  

• Your own small, charming apartment on the Upper West Side, Country Inn the City.  We used to stay there before we moved here. He prefers longer stays (3 nights & more) - but check out the Last-MInute-Specials; you can always ask.

• Around the corner from it, the Beacon Hotel.  It's gotten a facelift since the funky days we stayed there, but you gotta love the kitchenettes, with Fairway & West Side Market across the street!  Suites w/2 rooms w/foldout couches a good deal for families. Near Lincoln Center, Nat. Hist. Museum, Artie's Deli.

Your suggestions?
ellenkushner: (Bessie McNicol)
And so we left the House of Heart's Desire on Friday morning to ramble our way down to Liz Hand-- no, wait that's wrong*: In the morning,  we went to the Stonington Farmer's Market, looking for fresh eggs and smoked fish in that delightful fishing town at the end of Deer Isle.  And that is why we got such a late start heading down the coast to Liz Hand's.  Fortunately, we had stopped on Deer Isle to pick up pie at the Pie Lady's on Sunset Road - get past her Bible verses on the lawn outside her trailer, and she makes the hands down best Strawberry-Rhubarb on the Coast, bar none.  So we were able to bring a suitable Offering, which the Goddess of Hospitality found acceptable.  You do want to appease here, especially when she's cooking you dinner, and letting you sleep in her amazing little cottage on the lake.  We love it there:  It reminds us powerfully of the sort of magical space that Terri Windling creates wherever she lives and works.  And the conversation with Liz - about books we were all writing - was as filling as the meal.

And so we puttered around the cottage on Saturday morning until it was time to drive down (up? well, south, anyway) the Maine coast for another hour or so to the Audiofile Magazine Audiobook Narrators' Picnic & Clambake in Boothbay Harbor.

Oh, my friends!  It was amazing.  A perfect little inlet, where kids frolicked in the surf and found horseshoe crabs in tidal pools, and I got to go out in my very first kayak-on-the-ocean jaunt, thanks to a lovely woman who refused to change out of her swimsuit til she'd taken me out, since she thought I ought to try it. And the lobster (and steamers and corn and sweet potatoes and onions & fresh eggs) were all layered into seaweed and steamed on the beach over a huge wood fire manned by two Maine lobstermen; I got the guy in charge to tell me all about how he'd learned it from "the old guys."

And all around us were some of the great voice talents of the audiobook world - as well as some delightful up-and-comers-  eating lobster and drinking beer and talking about life and art..... Some of them were people I already knew from my work with Sue Zizza on the Swordspoint and The Privilege of the Sword (TPOTS) audiobooks for Neil Gaiman Presents.  Which was good, because I was feeling quite shy (and you know that doesn't happen often!).  After all, who was I?  Not really a professional narrator; I've only done my own books, with lots of help from Sue and her staff - and I discovered that just reading aloud is very different from Performing Audio - which is even very different from performing for Radio, which I certainly have no qualms about. I did get to wear the Gold Sticker of "Earphones Award Winner" on my namebadge, though - that was cool.  (It's kind of like getting a starred review in Kirkus, and we got one for Swordspoint! See? )

My very dear Barbara Rosenblat had even brought me some of my favorite esoteric European licorice, which we both share a taste for - she's my co-narrator on TPOTS, which is supposed to be released tomorrow!**  Robert Fass, our Alec in Swordspoint, was resplendent in a Hawaiian shirt & straw hat. And Dion Graham (St Vier in Swordspoint) was snappy in seersucker - but then, the man defines cool.

After the eating came the reading.  Everyone could choose to sign up to read their own selection for up to 5 minutes. (Stefan Rudnicki began, with a piece by Joe Haldeman! I'm afraid I squeaked; another friend suddenly in the room!)   I had determined in advance that I was not going to put myself forward in such august company.  But at the "intermission," I realized I really wanted to.  I was charmed and delighted by the warmth of the gathering; the non-showiness of the way people read, just to please themselves and each other. . . at the variety of the selections, each of which said so much about the person reading.  I went to the signup sheet, and there was a spot left - at the end, right after two of the biggest names in the business, Tavia Gilbert and Robin Miles!

Reader, I begged. And the blessed Tavia let me cut in, and go between her and Robin.  Don't read from something of yours! Delia hissed at me over her knitting (she does love to listen to people read while she knits), when she heard my mad plan.  But, really, what else did I have prepared at a professional level?  So I did the opening paragraph of TPOTS, and then the bit where Katherine meets the Mad Duke for the first time.  I'm pretty sure I clocked in at <4 minutes, as befitting my station. But, oh, it was a LIVE AUDIENCE!  I do love a live audience - so much more than sitting in front of a microphone in a tiny room with grey foam on the walls.  And I've read that bit aloud many times.  I think it went well. People were very nice about it afteward.  And at least I felt that I had had the courtesy to give these wonderful people a little more to go on about this stranger suddenly in their midst.

And then we bade fond farewells to everyone, stuck the extra seaweed-roasted eggs in the car to be made into The World's Best Egg Salad later, and drove about 2 miles up (down?) the road to where one of my best friends from college, Nick Azzaretti,was performing with the Booth Bay Players!  No lie.  We'd missed the first half, where he sang Tevye's "Do You Love Me?" in honor of his & his wife Kate's 25th anniversary(!!!) - so to my boundless delight, he got his "Golde" to do it with him afterwards, just for us.  I'm afraid I cried.  It was lovely, and we drove down dark deer-studded country roads til we got to their house and kipped down, as usual, in Chiara's room. She somehow grew up and went off to college, but she left a great bunch of Terry Prachetts on the shelves - as well as any number of books signed by a couple of Virtual Aunties, and all the Dido Twite books - so that was all right.

And the next day we got up and ate blueberry muffins and then drove back up (down?) to the House of Heart's Desire. Where now I sit typing in an upstairs room while the wind blows in more and more sharply from the sea in the dark.

*I think I may be forgiven for my confusion about Friday, as I recall that Thursday night was very exciting, with Neil Gaiman tweeting that he was recording the TPOTS Introduction prior to its release, on his way to the airport for a few weeks in the UK - he was also recording the intros for three James Branch Cabell audiobooks, which should be out soon - and who but Margaret Atwood tweeted back to say she loved Cabell, and since I was part of the original tweet I got to join that conversation!

And when we finally got home, I sank into the huge bathtub under the window where the sun was still dappling the trees - and hence the bathwater - and opened one of the many New Yorker's we'd brought with us to Maine to read (you know that one, right?) - and there, in the article on Ben Stiller's life, carreer, and trials making his new Walter Mitty movie, was this:

At the end of a casting session, Stiller read with Brian Scott McFadden and Dion Graham . . . [Stiller has them try various things and directs McFadden] To Graham, he said only, "You could maybe do a bit less, because you have a lot of natural charisma."

Dion!!! Our Dion, who reads Richard St Vier in the "illuminated" bits of our Swordspoint audiobook!!! (You can hear him in the 5-minute clip on the webpage.) Stiller is so right about that.

**And now, my friends, I am going to withdraw from the public arena to the Contemplative Life for a few days. I've been online this week in Maine a whole lot more than I'd intended, what with all the excitement of the runup to the TPOTS audiobook launch. Which should be tomorrow!!!!!  But I came up here to rest and to write, and I'm going to try to do that in the days remaining (including Delia's & my anniversary trip to Lowell).  And so I yield the floor to my assistant, Katherine Duckett, who will be keeping you posted.

Enjoy July!




ellenkushner: (Thomas the Rhymer)
And so we have arrived at the House of Heart's Desire: big house in Maine near Blue Hill, looking out over the Reach to Deer Isle, alone here, settling in to do nothing but read, cook & Write for 10 days.

Came upstairs the first morning (yesterday) to find Delia still in bed, finishing Ysabeau Wilce's new Flora Segunda novel, FLORA'S FURY. Since this is to my mind one of the greatest fantasy series of our day, I am very pleased that she's done so I can read it next!! We got to spend some quality time with Ysabeau at Readercon - I am so sorry we are missing her reading tonight at KGB (w/ Leah Bobet) in NYC!! Go if you can. She promises an excerpt from a novella about Buck. Droooool.  

Readercon was superb, and deserves - and will get - its own post.  It was full of remarkable delights for me, as always, and this time I want to get them down before I forget!

Meanwhile, here in Maine, I find myself more tied to the computer than I had intended, since we're putting the final touches on the TPOTS audiobook, prefatory to getting it to launch NEXT WEEK, if all goes according to plan.  But I hope I can get all that settled today, and begin going off-line tomorrow to settle down to a more 19th century Writing Life (but with hot water On Demand).

In one of those delightful coincidences that the goddess Synchronicity sometimes arranges, I also just learned that the brilliant online magazine Strange Horizons will be reprinting my Riverside short story, "The Death of the Duke," on the last week of the month.  Which is perfect, as we'll have just brought out TPOTS audiobook, and have already begun prepping for THE FALL OF THE KINGS.

This begins, as always, with me reading it aloud to Delia while she sits knitting in the evening. (Last year, we were here at the end of August, and I was reading TPOTS to her - so it's a Tradition!)  We began last night.


ellenkushner: (Bessie McNicol)
. . . or:  Life Imitates Art

I am on a writing retreat with my brother Phil, at Endicott West.  Last night he got into the Phoenix airport (from Cleveland) first, and picked up the rental car - which turned out to be a rental SUV of amazing magnificence - they gave him an "upgrade" for no apparent reason - and fetched me, and then we headed off down I-10 looking for food. Now, usually I am the one who insists upon the Quality Adventure Food Experience - but in the dark without knowing the territory (and being 2 hrs ahead of local time and wanting not to stop for long), I was willing to settle.  He, however, was up for adventure (yet, oddly, was against stopping at the Casino, which surely had a munifcient buffet!).  He was sure we'd find a charming little taqueria.  Off I-10.  No, he's never been here before.

Yet find one we did!  A sign for gas & food . . . we get off . . . the food too far after all . . . but, Look! In that tiny strip mall - Could that be a neon sign saying CARNE ASADA?

It could.

I don't think I have ever had such good ancho salsa. Homemade, I'm pretty sure.  I took some with me, in a little styrofoam cup.

Then we drove on down the road, blasting Bluegrass on the SUV's Sirius channel til we got here.

And I am signing off now, because the sun is sinking over the Catalinas or something, and we have to go get food. Again.  So I'll have to explain my header in my next post.
ellenkushner: (Latvian THOMAS)
Tuesday was epic: We packed up & cleaned up our friend's house (always like to leave a place looking better than when we arrived, if possible! #keytosuccessfulmooching), drove down the  Maine coast a piece - heroically stopping at only one antique shop along the way - for lunch with Liz Hand at her enchanting little writing cottage , which we left all too soon in order to make dinner with my very dear old theatre (both disciples of Bernard Beckerman at Columbia U.) pal Nick & his wife Kate in Damariscotta.  So we got to L.L. Bean around 10 p.m., and of course it's open 24/7, so we rapidly acquired a nightgown, 2 jackets and some other stuff I don't even want to think about - oh, yeah, a foldable cooler - before dragging our sorry carcases on to Kittery to fall into bed at Sarah Smith's family cottage - she wasn't even there, but had kindly left the lights on!

The next morning we did a little Light Shopping at the discount joints, acquiring much fine kitchenware which should lead to good eatin' this winter, and then tore down the road in the pouring rain to Northampton, where we had 10 minutes to hug Gavin & Kelly (Grant & Link) & Ursula (Link Grant), give them their chocolate bread from When Pigs Fly, and make dinner at Great Wall with Andrea Hairston & Pan Morigan (first met at Wiscon, I believe?).  

Next morning I caught my breath while Delia walked into town to buy shoes; then we went to [livejournal.com profile] blackholly 's in Amherst for a meeting of the Mass All-Stars, as I named our writing group when we all lived in Massachussetts.  Had to Skype Sarah in from Boston, and Gavin was at work, but Kelly & Delia & Josh & Holly & I Sat on [livejournal.com profile] cassandraclare 's book, and she seemed to survive the experience.  

Next day we picked up Mim (she of the Writers' Stew) and drove back to NYC - no, wait:  Next day we went to the Small Beer Press offices so [livejournal.com profile] deliasherman could do an interview for podcast with their new associate, Julie (hey, Julie - what's your last name??), who was wonderful - she really brought out the best in Delia as they discussed the story behind her forthcoming novel, The Freedom Maze.   And then we got on the road.  Which is why we got in so late.  But we made it.

So next morning - which would be yesterday - I drove the rental car to Hofstra to do a live performance/recording of a couple of chapters of Swordspoint, for the forthcoming audiobook.

There's more - but for now, that, my friends, is enough. . . don't you think?
ellenkushner: (Bessie McNicol)
I am full of bliss. Delia is already hunkered down on the sunporch, working on WIZARD'S APPRENTICE. Tomorrow we may go to Blue Hill to look for books with colorful Maine sayings in them, which she needs for the book. And to see what the trees along the road look like. Again. Can't get too much of that. And if she considers picking blueberries to be Research, we'll do that, too. We will definitely go to the Blue Hill Fair (yaaaay! can't believe we made it this year!) to interview people about goats. Can't get too much of that, either.

Internet (and cell phone) access here is VERY limited, so if you don't hear back from me right away, don't worry. Closest wi-fi is up the steep drive & down the street to the steps of the one-room (open 6 hours/week) public library. And I don't know how many times Delia will believe that I'm just going out for cigarettes.

So good bye for now - I must go write some novel or other!
ellenkushner: (1French Swordspoint (title))
Not noticing anything - but if, as Hemingway said, Good Americans go to Paris when they die, it's possible it happened without my being aware?

Lovely day today, sleeping late & then lunch just down the street at our friend Maud (the woman whose thesis defense at the Sorbonne we raced down from Amsterdam to attend, what, 3 yrs ago? She is an art/interstitial historian whose thesis was on Alexander the Great in Medieval iconography)'s newish apartment, meeting her newish baby (14 mos) for the first time.  Quel p'tit bruiser!  But she swears the sweater Delia knit him (extra big, she thought)  will fit him just fine.  Their building has a big courtyard with bushes & benches & jasmine, and a French-African family with 9 kids (one of whom now has a kid of her own) all live on the ground floor, and everyone in the building looks after everyone else's kids, who all play togetehr - it reminded me of a cross between a Malian village and the suburb where I grew up w/kids all running wild together in the backyards.

Maud took us to Musee de Cluny (and if you've never been, don't miss it!) for a courtyard lecture/demo on medieval swordfighting techniques. She herself is also a historical fencer (17c, not medieval), and when it was done she went into the museum Gift/Bookshop & badgered them about ordering A la Pointe de l'Epee  (oui, c'est Swordspoint en Francais), the darling.

Then we parted ways, and Delia & I walked on down Blvd St Germain to our old neighb in the 6th, utterly not resisting the siren call of Le Mouton a Cinq Pattes, a crazy discount hole-in-the-wall where we found adorable things for cheap and bought them despite our pledge to try to fit no more clothes into our overstuffed apt closets - did I mention that it's really hot here & we brought all the wrong clothes? - and then to bistro Atlas where we sat outdoors on rue Buci & ate salad & mussels & frites & drank a pichet of good dry rosé, and talked about Delia's next short story, and were, I think, as happy as it is possible, briefly, to be.

Walked back to metro first crossing the Seine on Pont des Arts, whose locks reminded me of Bordertown, and I'm going to tweet some photos of them & the legal graffiti in Bellevile,
ellenkushner: (WelcBORDERTOWN)
 Arrived in Paris at 8 am local time, 2 am NYC time (which is often when I go to bed - so you can imagine how much we didn't sleep on the plane - but paid extra on Air France for Premium Voyageur, and boy was it worth it!! 1 step down from Business at a fraction the cost - 10 steps up from Steerage! We love Air France).  Staggered onto RER to Gare du Nord & down endless corridor to Metro & finally found our friend's houseI meanapartement where she had croissants and raspberry jam waiting.  Devoured that, went to bed, got up & did what we usually do in the mornings as we come to:  e-mail & internet.  Only it's 6pm here, now - and soon Anne will return to walk us around the neighborhood, to make sure we know which is the good boulangerie (not, apparently, the one 2 doors down that I can see from the window) and take us to dinner.

Delia is sitting at the table with her laptop (WiFi is great here!) researching yarn stores in Paris. There are quite a few.  The hedgies have enjoyed some chocolate croissants. 

And I am here to tell you about the Bordertown Lives! Sweepstakes!

Trust me, you'll be glad I did.  And please help spread the word.
ellenkushner: (Madame J. (closeup))
Headed home today - so one last photo, of the little courtyard that led up to the roof (to the right), and into the sitting/dining/kitchen wing:




Hard to step through these bright doors one last time . . . but glad to have so many photos to reflect on and to share with friends.
ellenkushner: (Madame J. (closeup))
Your comments on my previous post about our Mexican writing retreat (with 8 other people) made me laugh (where appropriate), feel happy, and generally enjoy having you all in my Virtual Salon here.

Here is a wonderful article about the guy here who made my magical rings, David Godinez.  (Backstory:  All my life I've wanted to wear massive rings - the kind that yell "Renaissance Prince!"  The kind that imply "Mess with me and I'll have your house burnt" or simply "Kiss me, you fool."  But every time I've tried them on, they just look overwhelming and ill-placed on my hands.  [Oddly, Delia, who has even more delicate bones than I do, can wear big rings much better than I.  Must have to do with proportion.]  So when I found first one and then the other in Godinez' shop, I was sooo happy!)


Here is that fountain in the courtyard:

Photo 1 )


And here is the view from our house's rooftop - which is, alone, bigger than my apartment:



I hope all these bright colors & sunlight have served to cheer you.  I hear it's pretty gloomy up north, where I will be returning on Monday.  BUT I am glad to say that I have made some progress on the novel.  I'm not at all sure I hate it or that it will be a total disaster, after all.
ellenkushner: (Default)
For the past week, Delia & I have been with friends in a perfect little jewel of a colonial town in Mexico.  We're in a huge glorious palazzo of an 18c house together on a writing retreat, and while I fear I have spent far too much of my time trying to raise funds and attract stations to our Witches of Lublin show for April, I have managed to complete, polish & submit a short story to Jonathan Strahan's YA Witches anthology - a whole 2 days before the deadline, yet!  (Those who know me of old will know what a crazy achievement that is.)  I've also  - after a fair amount of dithering & taking counsel of the assembled colleagues - officially begun a new novel.  Of which more later.  And I've listened to other people's plot points, and read assorted mss., and counseled in my turn.  And eaten lots of amazing Mexican food, and found the massive rings I've always wanted (one rocky opal, one labradorite), and gotten very nearly enough sunlight to banish all mooligrubs . . . and found myself living in a gloriously aesthetic and luxurious space that is the sort of place one usually visits only in dreams.  There is a colonnaded courtyard with a fountain, into which bougainvillea blossoms drop and float.  Here is a photo of Delia working in it:




(There really is a fountain in the middle.  I guess I must be standing behind it.  I will try to post more photos, if I can find a way to do it without being too annoying.)
ellenkushner: (EK:  Twelfth Night)
So on my birthday last week Delia & I flew to Denver with Terri Windling, who was to be one of the 3 Guests of Honor at the Sirens Conference in Vail.  They loaded us all onto a bus to Vail, and I watched the land turn to mountains covered with pine trees, dotted with bright yellow-leaved aspens.  It just got more and more magic.  And my cell phone kept ringing as various family members called to wish me a happy, and had to endure me going, "Oh, look! Buffalo!" or "wait - I think there's snow on those peaks!"

The Sirens folk were terrific.  We had many fine meals & conversations with other GoH's Holly Black & Marie Brennan, conference Fairy Godmother Sherwood Smith (yes, I know you're all on LJ - step forward & identify yourselves & your adorable monikers!) and other authors, readers & young reprobates.  To my delight, our Random House editor for Welcome to Bordertown, Mallory Loehr, was there - she's Tamora Pierce's editor, but at the last minute Tammy couldn't make it, and so I had to step in and do my poor best for what was to have been the "Mallory & Tammy Show!" - talking about the relationship between editor & author (joined by Delia, who's both).  I hope we did some good, or were, at least, entertaining.  I also did a brief version of my Thomas the Rhymer live performance, complete with singing the ballads . . . that's when I found out that the altitude was, indeed, having its effect!  --I'd thought that drinking lots of water & living a virtuous life would stave off the Altitude Sickness everyone'd warned me about.  But when I was unable to get through my little mouthmusic showpiece, "...Nobody, Only Cunnla!" without stopping to catch my breath in the middle of a line, I knew I had somehow not lived quite as virtu-- had somehow not managed to drink enough water, after all.

People were, nonetheless, very kind, and their comments served to remind me that I really must put up a list of Recommended Ballad Recordings on my website's Thomas page.  (Someone remind me!)

So on the bus early Sunday morning back to the airport, I saw snow!  Dustings on the pine trees as we passed them by!  And then we came down through the Pass, and there was no snow, and we checked our bags & had some lunch & got on the litttle plane & got off in Tucson, where it is 88 degrees & sunny & dry & I am altogether happy to be here with nothing to do for 24 hours but sit and rest (and update my LJ). Tomorrow we're going to visit Joanna Russ, who just moved into a nice Assisted Living home, and wants to show it off & feed us.  And, yes, it is still the thrill of my young lifetime to get the occasional postcard from her.  She is one of our great mothers.  (And if you've never heard of her or haven't read her work, go celebrate Coming Out Day by doing something truly great & good, and tracking it down & reading it!  Sure you can send one more Tweet about being supportive, or come out to the checkout guy at Wal-Mart - but honor our mothers by noticing that they lived & worked so that we can do it, ourselves, today.)
ellenkushner: (Thomas the Rhymer)
 As [livejournal.com profile] deliasherman  is unable to post regular travel updates owing to her Airbook not having the attachment to hook into the delightfully old-fashioned cable chez our host here (though she is composing them faithfully, and will post them when she can), it falls to me to inform you that:

We are happily installed in a swell friend's swell flat in Oriental Bay, with view of the harbor (and many, many steps up to the front door).  We can walk to Te Papa museum, and have been there twice.  I laid my head on a block of greenstone.  It is a wonderful place.  (And I am now buying greenstone for all my friends....)

The liberal congregation of Temple Sinai welcomed us warmly for Yom Kippur - and I got to break my fast 16 hours ahead of all my friends back home!  The history of the Jews in NZ is pretty interesting - I read at some memoirs in the Temple's library during the breaks.  We are Not White here, my friends!  Which is oddly comforting, as I was raised to see myself as an outsider, and always find it just a bit odd at home to be "white" there.

Yesterday a woman we met at Worldcon (hey, Emily!  please identify your LJ self!) kindly drove us out to Rivendell - er, I mean Kaitoke National Park, where we had a fine picnic, and I was terribly brave and crossed on the rope/cable bridge to see more trees.  Then we went to visit Stephen & Tam on their alpaca farm.  They are delightful people to hang out with, and I unexpectedly fell in love with the alpacas - which they sell (please, no cute comments about fitting them in our back alley in NYC! they thrive only in herds...); read their descriptions of the individuals in their herds here and here - you'll see why we had just a nice time!  (They are naming this year's babies after typefaces.  San Serif was a bruiser!)

Today promises more adventures.  Meanwhile, I hope the heat wave has finally broken where you are, and that your fall is crisp & clear!
ellenkushner: (Latvian THOMAS)
.....figuratively speaking, that is, as it is actually raining here in New Zealand, but I don't care.  Delia's eye is on the mend, and we are at the Waipoua Lodge, in the Northlands of the North Island,  which is as close to Paradise as I've been in a good long while.  Last night we took a guided walk in the Waipoua Forest, saw (by flashlight) many great kauri trees, insects, and a cheese-eating eel (not to mention the Great Battle between the nocturnal goldfish-like fish and the crawfish-like thingy over more cheese crumbs) . . . no kiwibirds, but we did hear them crying in the distance. Today we are hunkered down by the fire in the lodge, being fed amazing food at regular intervals, and trying to catch up on both rest and correspondence.

I think we'll do that again tomorrow.  

And if it clears, a gentle stroll around the garden to see more unlikely trees and shrubs.  When I find out the name of the "Dr Seuss Tree," I'll let you know.

Details over at [livejournal.com profile] deliasherman ; I haven't been so tired in a long time.  But I can drive on the Left side of the road!
ellenkushner: (Thomas the Rhymer)
Oh, yeah - and one more thing:

8/26  A friend recommended these, and to our astonishment they seem to work! Homeopathic tablets from New Zealand, where everything's a long flight away... NO-JET-LAG(R) Feeling less awful on Day #3 in Australia than we did on our last trip to Europe . . . go figure! You take them on the plane at takeoff, landing, and every 2 hours in between
ellenkushner: (EK/DS wedding band)
We had a great time at Aussiecon, but our hotel charged crazy rates for WiFi, so only I used it - for organizational/administrative purposes, mainly - and  [livejournal.com profile] deliasherman 's updates are sitting on her laptop, waiting to upload when possible.

And, uh, I also posted a bunch of really quickies on Facebook (feel free to FBFriend me there - just add a message saying you're an LJ pal, so I bump you to the head of the line). Because I like to wax prolix on LJ, and couldn't let myself.

As I look them all over, I see I wasn't all that much more informative - lots more to tell you, dear ones! But FWIW, here's the gist:

8/25 Just decided to take overnight Sleeper Car from Sydney to Melbourne on Weds. night (so we arrive bright & early for my 4pm panel) - leaving Syd 2056, arriving Melb 0735.

8/26 We saw fruitbats (aka red-headed flying foxes) hanging like, well, giant fruit high in the trees of the Botanic Gardens!

8/27 Not taking train to Melbourne after all, owing to this reply to my query: "Yes indeed, we have track work and you would need to change from train to coach [i.e. bus] at Albury at approximately 4am."
I don't think so.

9/1 Last day in Sydney - OK, I mostly shopped (in odd places - who knew the Public Library had the best shop ever?!) . . . tomorrow, on to Melbourne for my 4:00 panel at AussieCon!

(Then we went to Worldcon & I posted almost nothing until I needed some sympathy:)

9/4 Woke up with a headcold! My reading's at 5:00 pm, Rm. 207. Donations of local remedies most welcome!
*** Thanks, Aussie pals, for cold remedy ginger-garlic-horseradish-Vit.C pills! Even if they don't work, they smell like a spice cabinet I can live with.

9/7 What an Interesting day we've had. Planned to go pet wallabees; instead, Delia Sherman awoke w/blurred vision & the divine Melinda Goodin drove us to various drs who diagnosed small tear in retina & lasered it shut again. Green lighted to fly to Auckland tom'w morning, as long as we're careful. Will drive north to rusticate, rest & recuperate for a few days, then on to Wellington.

9/8 (5 minutes ago)
Delia Sherman thanks all for good retina wishes, says it doesn't hurt - just upsetting not to see well through 1 eye. We flew today to Auckland, picked up rental car & I drove north while the light lasted (and a little beyond)....We are now at the Warkworth Lodge, having eaten a stellar meal of local green mussels & smoked salmon in a place that looked like it might just barely serve decent burgers - omg! NZ!!!
ellenkushner: (Bessie McNicol)
 As [livejournal.com profile] deliasherman  has just explained, we are packing for a week in Sydney (beginning Sept. 24) preceding a week in Melbourne, followed by 2 weeks in NZ, beginning in Christchurch, heading west to glaciers, then north to Wellington & Auckland (train trips! train trips!  yayyy!).

How's the weather likely to be?  What should we pack?

And what can we bring you?  I've managed to have only 7 spare copies of The Man with the Knives left on my shelf*, and they're all coming with me to sell at Worldcon.  If you'll be there and know you want one, reserve it now.

Delia & I celebrate our 6th Legal Marriage Anniversary this week - we had had a huge illegal wedding in 1996, but in August 2004 we were married by a Rabbi in our backyard in Massachusetts.  One way we celebrated was to buy a handmade rocking chair from Abraham Tesser, an absolutely lovely man who hosted me when I did a Sound & Spirit show in Athens, Georgia (I sat in the one in his house, and fell deeply in love!).  Today the doorbell rang - and there stood our doorman, delivering a vase of the most exquisite arranged seasonal flowers!  just the kind I've always dreamed of getting - and envied others in the building as they came in . . . and they were for Delia & me.  For our anniversary  From Abraham Tesser and his wife Carmen.

If I ever get cranky or sad again, please hit me upside the head and remind me what a wonderful life I lead!


*And the publisher still has around 100 copies left, which you can order from him by mail.

ellenkushner: (MWK cover)
Thanks, everyone, for your lovely notes & comments about the new limited edition chapbook (a "Riverside" story about how Alec met Sofia . . . &  a few other things).  I took several copies with me to Finland, where they made the perfect Thank You gift for some of our generous Finncon hosts; I also sold a few by "subscription" (and if you'll be at the Melbourne Worldcon in a few weeks and want to buy one from me there, please let me know!) . . . the oddest and nicest event around this was a French fan who'd seen from my travel schedule that we'd be in Helsinki around the same time - she was taking her teenage daughter on a high school graduation celebratory trip . . . logistics decreed that we ended up all meeting at Hvittrask - a strangely appropriate (though out-of-the-way) choice - so there we all sat at the little outdoor cafe tables across from the house (this was pretty much our view), fanning ourselves in the record-breaking heat, and talking about books!  She also presented us with baseball caps from her region, the Pyrenees, which was extremely fortuitous as I'd forgotten to pack a hat.

I know there's been some concern about supplies running out . . . While in Finland, I got this note from Henry, which I only just remembered I must put up for you to see:

A report from your publisher that the official available supply of The Man with the Knives is 150 copies. I have noted this on the web page and on the Temporary Culture price list.

You might wish to alert your loyal and polite readers, whose penmanship is almost universally excellent, to this fact.

Henry Wessells

http://avramdavidson.org/themanwiththeknives.html

Are you alerted?

You are.

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