Sep. 23rd, 2012

chalcedony_cat: fan from the v&a (Default)
Moving! We are now in a large city fairly close to the town in which I used to live (which was itself part of ginormous urban sprawl), in a house that was originally built in 1900 but had been upgraded since, so that we do not need to worry about the plumbing (much) or the wiring or anything like that. It is the sort of house I have always dreamed of living in; two stories, high ceilings, little period details in the molding and doors and such but enough mod cons to make it comfortable, and with a huge backyard filled with fruit/nut trees (a pear, an avocado, three walnuts and a little tiny lemon) and two orange trees in the front. We are right across the highway from the downtown of the large city, but in the northernmost residential neighbourhood of what used to be (in the 19th century) another town, so while it's easy to hop on public transit for restaurants or bars or the ballet (!) or the theatre, walking out the front door it's all old houses and giant trees and a park and a school. This is, I think, the best of both worlds for my family; my husband wanted to live someplace more urban and I wanted someplace with old houses and lots of green things. Joy loves riding the light rail and loves having a backyard to play in, and having her own room which she doesn't have to share with 6 bookcases filled with 'Mommy books' -- now she has her own bookcase and is busy filling it with her own books and the odd stuffed animal. There's also a tiny room for the new baby when he comes in mid-autumn, but right now it is filled with all the boxes of my books and clothes we haven't unpacked yet. Because the house is right by lots of freeways and an airport it can be noisy outside, but the walls & new double-paned windows so thick that I don't notice the noise with things closed, and even with the windows open I find it very easy to tune out car/plane sounds. Sometimes at night, with my bedroom windows open, it reminds me of Heidi getting used to living under the pine trees.

Another lovely thing about the new house is that, being so large, we have been able to put a long-held plan into action and move in with a friend, which not only makes this all affordable, but also means there's a third adult in the house who is involved in our lives while living his own. It is very, very nice to have another adult person here during the days (he works from home) to share meals with and brainstorm wacky projects (home brewing! curing our own bacon) and generally provide both company and support. I am occasionally overwhelmed with surprise that he wanted to do this, and seems happy so far (it's only been a week!), but I am very glad. I think that it's going to make being a stay-at-home parent to two children a lot less lonely.

The only real downsides of the new place are that we're farther from a lot of other friends who used to walk to our place, so we probably won't see them as much, and there's a river nearby so we seem to get mosquitos (I'm covered in bug bites for the first time since I was a teenager). And, of course, I am now farther away from Joy's pre-school and gymnastics class, but she is so attached to them (and so change-averse) that I am going to try to drive to them anyway rather than find something closer, at least for now. Next week will be the first attempts at leaving early enough to get her to school 11 miles away by 9am; we shall see how it goes.

In short, I am exhausted but happy. Moving in the third trimester is a pain, but oh I'm glad to be here.
chalcedony_cat: fan from the v&a (Default)
I complained to my husband that I spend all my spare time sleeping and have not yet had time to go raid the 8-story university library which is now conveniently nearby due to the wonders of public transit, and he said, "Take the afternoon off!" So I am, but I quickly realised that what I really, really wanted to do was curl up with a stack of my existing library books and my computer and read some of your journals (which I haven't had time to do in three months) and post a little bit about my current reading and probably fall asleep again because I'm in that phase of pregnancy where my body wakes me up 2 or 3 times a night, just to get in practise for having a newborn. Thus, that is what I did!

I finished the Probability trilogy, by Nancy Kress, and was mildly disappointed. They were perfectly decent sf novels, but (as seems to happen with much of my sf reading), the parts I found most interesting weren't developed enough, and there was a lot of stuff that seemed... obvious, or shallow. I came away from it feeling like I wasn't the audience for the book, which is probably true.

Thanks to [personal profile] oursin[1] I am reading all the Patricia Wentworth mysteries that the library can find for me, and I really, really like them. The early ones (from the 30s) are more thrillers than detective fiction, which don't do as much for me, but they have interesting bits of period detail, and I tend to like her romances despite the endless stream of pale-skinned gray-eyed women whom the heroes always moon over. Her later works read a lot like Angela Thirkell without the horrible class stuff and with some murders, which is a remarkably enchanting combination, although I do sometimes find that I'd be just as happy to read the Village Drama without the mystery at all, which is a little embarassing. I was intrigued to see the ground (both in time and genre) her career covered -- according to the internets she started off in 1913 writing historical fiction, switched to the intrigue/spy stuff in the 20s, and only really got settled into the sort of 'cozy' detective series that I love in the early 1940s. I'm surprised she's so neglected in favour of Christie/Marsh/Allingham/Sayers, because she writes great women, including her main detective (Miss Maud Silver) being a retired Edwardian governess rather in the style of Miss Marple -- I'm not sure which came first, actually. I suspect she's been somewhat ignored by the tiny portion of litcrit that focuses on detective fiction because her Miss Silver novels are so much more Thirkell-village-drama and so much less detective-focused, but I haven't dug down to find out if she's as neglected as I think or if I just hadn't heard of her despite my single undergrad course in detective fiction. I mean, I didn't hear about Marsh & Allingham through that class either, but I certainly heard about them while doing general research for my paper on Sayers.

I realise that last paragraph got incoherent, and I am tempted to wait until tomorrow when I am more awake to rewrite before posting, but I think that given what life is like, it might be several weeks before I got back to this, so I will just post now and hope that you, oh gentle and largely hypothetical reader, will be able to sort it all out.

1: To be specific, it is thanks to oursin indirectly, because although she did not directly recommend Wentworth, she wrote an interesting post about mystery novelists who have internalised spinster-phobia which touched on the authors I was reading at the time (Allingham, Marsh, Christie) and thus led one of her readers to talking about Wentworth.

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