A belated Happy New Year to you all!
We’ve made it through the holidays here with only mildly ridiculous amounts of recycling. Christmas was overall a quiet affair, largely due to the fact that I bought Jalapeño the game The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim for Christmas. He’s quite lost to me now but he still cooks dinner so all is well. He hasn’t even gotten to Dragon Age Inquisition yet. He got me the rest of the annotated The Sandman graphic novel series which is amazing and beautiful and weighs a ton.
Hogmanay this year was frankly the best New Year I’ve ever had. There was a rooftop party with a splendid view of the fireworks display over the castle, and a classic film-like* after party until the very wee hours. This was all thanks to Sartorial and Rapid and Sartorial’s tolerant parents upon whose roof we partied before moving the party to Sartorial and Rapid’s flat. We were lucky to have Esse and Silver join us. They journeyed all the way over from Montreal to spend the first week of the new year with us.
The day after was not the best I’d ever had but I made it through work and as it was New Year’s Day there were very few dragons calling. This is all to the good as hungover dragons are very tough to deal with.
Esse and Silver had fun times seeing the sights, didn’t mind our air mattress, and got to hit up the Stockbridge charity shops. It was also a respite from the stunning cold in Canada. There was much craft beer drinking as well. The kids all seriously enjoyed having (good-natured and tolerant, thanks guys!) guests too and we had lots of pretty stellar runs at various board games. There was a session at Sandy Bell’s as well where Esse was recognised due to Youtube fame and fine tunes were had by all. We got to First-foot Renaissance and Ellipsoid on New Year’s Day which is an excellent Scottish tradition. Read more about it here.
Since then time has passed in a blur for me personally between work, practising, reading and trying to be a polite and sociable creature. Oh, I did manage to catch up with Cavalry and Calypso on Christmas Eve though, and Goldsmith and Animate as well. Even bumped into Cavalry again on my walk back from work the other night.
We have both lost from and added to the D&D crew. We are sad to see Barney the feisty gnome depart our party as he has to move back to Australia due to various reasons. He has been a most excellent mentor while teaching me how to be a Dungeon Master. However, we welcome aboard Bill, the dragonborn Paladin. He’s already saved the party once. Actually, the party saved the party but he was the catalyst for the saving. Barney, alas, went insane at the end of the last session but his tale is not yet done . . .
At Ancient Spren things have been busy, as you might imagine. Christmas was full of singed ears as angry dragons contacted about orders of armor and jewels that were lost in the mail, or delayed, or simply not right. The pegasii** have been working their wings off.
On the other hand, a lovely dragon I spoke to the other day quite cheerfully told me herself that while she was in Spain she was stopped everyday and complimented on her bright blue armor. I’ve also spoken to a lot of very nice and polite French and Swedish dragons lately.
And look, it snowed last night! It’s mostly gone now but here’s proof it can happen in Edinburgh.
Meanwhile, as I mentioned on The Facebook, if you’re looking for some fun, well-written, feminist fantasy please go here. Rogue has created another wonderful world which mirrors our own except it’s better because Things can be Fixed + magic and lots of animals.
By the way, Three Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri, is a very good film. Highly recommend. It’s a dark comedy that’s more dark than comedy though so be in that frame of mind.
I’m currently reading my way through these guys:
From left to right: Annotated Sandman because it’s amazing and you wouldn’t believe, (actually you probably would) the amount of research and thought Gaiman put into it. So many references and homages, the bibliography is greatly expanding my reading list.
A Place of Greater Safety because I loved Wolf Hall and Bring Up the Bodies so much. Mantel is one of my heroes for combining very fine writing and incredibly believable and in-depth characters. As one might guess from the cover it’s about the French Revolution, or perhaps more accurately the main players in creating it. Very different from the court of Henry the VIII but a character has already referred to Cromwell in passing.
Which brings me to Lanark, I book I stumbled into due to a conversation at work with a colleague as well as some comments from Realism and generally the fact it’s been sitting on the shelf here for years and the spine kind of stares at you (literally). It’s very strange but so far I like it more than I expected. Gray writes about being a child in a way that captures it better then most, what it felt like to be kind of confused but happy and accepting of most things whether fantasy or not. That’s how my childhood felt as far as I recall.
Realism, by the way, is currently prepping for a trip to Myanmar at the end of this month. (Only he keeps calling it Burma but we’ll let that go).
We’ve skyped Vermontland several times. The winter is being very unpredictable and there have been many snow days there. The Hannimal has been taking Skidbear on regular walks to make sure she grows a thick winter coat. The Owedazzler is as much a mystery as always, and Mom and Dad are already planning ahead for the summer and doing lots of music. (Fifth Business are recording another album!)
Lastly, here’s a picture of Dangerous Beans listening to me practice bass scales. This is her bass face.
(Ah, Mom, the blackbird ornament has not made it back into the Christmas boxes. I think it’s set to become a permanent fixture).
I think she genuinely enjoys the sound (or feeling, possibly) of the low notes because she definitely doesn’t sit around with that expression on when I’m playing the pipes.
*I say “film-like” because there was alcohol, music, dancing, singing, good people, and the flat could be from almost any 19th-21st century Golden Age if you just hid a few things. It was the closest I’ve been to a Gatsby party.
**Jalapeño and I are in disagreement^ about how to pluralize “Pegasus” (and I am aware it’s a proper name which I’m already mis-using, but one may as well go the whole hog). He thinks it should be “pegasuses,” but that just sounds dreadful so “pegasii” it is.
^This is nothing to our disagreement concerning the bass clef and whether or not it’s necessary for anyone not playing the piano.