kaffyr: Fantasia - night and the profile of a hill (Dark and lovely)
[personal profile] kaffyr
The Sun is Shining and I Must Too

As in, I must really, really do something other than play endless games of solitaire today. Posting is the first thing I can do to make myself feel as if the brain is actually working. So, in short order I can tell you things.

I finally finished Chapter 19 of Hearts & Moons and am working on Chapter 20. I have been working on this story for more than five years; I don't know whether that's a testament to my persistence, my lack of writing discipline and ability to plot properly, or all three. I can testify that the story has become something more than I expected it to be, back when I was first started writing it off a prompt from the gifted [livejournal.com profile] cathica. I will finish it, but I suspect it will need massive early-chapter revisions once I do. Ah, well.

Speaking of [livejournal.com profile] cathica, who does what I can not, she was featured in February as part of Women in Horror month on Colleen Anderson's blog. Anderson asks interesting questions, but I don't think it's possible to capture cathica's essence in such a short piece. If you haven't read her fiction over on Teaspoon, you should; she does have a dab hand at horror, but she's also damned striking at everything else, too.

Hmmm, what else? I attended a day-long workshop on union mobilization, which was extremely helpful. Our union has found a new office, so we are safe from the predations of the previous and very unstable landlord.  I am reading a non-genre book, Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walter, as a work-connected exercise. I am reminded again of how difficult it is for me to read books that aren't science fiction, speculative, fantasy or poetry. It undoubtedly says a great deal about my inability to concentrate.

I also read Stormdancer, by Jay Kristoff. It's Japanese steampunk, but it's also a very good portrait of the way a 16-year-old girl might deal with a tough family situation, and a vivid painting of a polluted but vibrant world. Sadly, it's the first book of some sort of series, and it was just written last year, so I'm afraid I'll have to wait for the next one. I   understand that the reviews on this are wildly divergent, with negatives dealing with issues of cultural appropriation, etc. Since fantasy is, to my mind, a morass - or a celebration - of cultural appropriations of all kinds, I'm going to stick to the story and say I liked it a lot.

For the second time ever, I went with BB and our good friend [livejournal.com profile] apostle_of_eris to Hausermann's Orchid's, in the Chicago suburb of Villa Park. Hausermann's is a family owned business that grows, distributes and sells orchids. Once a year, for two weekends, Hausermann's opens to the public, and [livejournal.com profile] apostle_of_eris, an orchid lover, introduced us to the place a few years back (I was last there in 2010).

As I said, Hausermann's grows and sells orchids (and the occasional bromeliad.) Nothing but orchids. Acres of orchids, of all genuses growing in tiny bottles before they are brought out to grow in rows and rows in the moist warmth of greenhouses ... big florid blooms, and tiny sprays that look like snowflakes or strings of pearls, lady-slippers of all types, from simple bedroom ivory to ballroom carnelian and gold, huge scarlet-orange explosions and ... PURPLE! Every possible shape of orchid in every possible shade of purple! I adore purple ... 

It was wonderful - not least because, for me, the various aromas and fragrances are as much a draw as the beauty of the blooms. Sure, not all orchids have fragrance  and some that do have fragrances you might not expect, but they smell!

There are so many words for smell, each with its own connotation: smell, odor, aroma, fragrance (I suppose it's a bit like the old saying that horses sweat, men perspire and women glow.) And normally, I would say that Hausermann's was filled with fragrance, because "smell" would seem so pedestrian.

But the word smell is also so direct. And the smells of those flowers - so fragrant sometimes, so surprising other times, sometimes so odd - spoke for themselves; they needed no compliments. They went straight to whatever part of my brain responds to smell, and they touched it. Caressed it, tickled it, punched it sometimes, then got right back to caressing it. So ... smell. I left Hausermann's giddy. Almost drunk with the
smells. I'll go back next year for the smells. And the pretty. Here are a few pictures. (They're thumbnails, because they're rather huge, and the one thing LJ still has over Dreamwidth for me is ease of uploading pictures. Gah.)    photo IMG_0947_zps650c388d.jpg photo IMG_0983_zpscf8279ce.jpg photo 20130301_131850a_zpsf3a7ae00.jpg
 photo IMG_0965_zps863d8fa2.jpg


 photo IMG_0999_zpse9911c5a.jpg


Finally, there are birthdays I forgot and some birthdays coming up. But they deserve their own post.

P.S. Is it March 30 yet?

Date: Sunday, 3 March 2013 05:24 pm (UTC)
bibliofile: Fan & papers in a stack (from my own photo) (Default)
From: [personal profile] bibliofile
I don't think I've ever seen that many orchids in one place at once. Sounds lovely, both sight AND smell. Mmmm.

Date: Sunday, 3 March 2013 09:25 pm (UTC)
kerravonsen: Dr. Brennan: "I don't know what that means" (dont-know-what-that-means)
From: [personal profile] kerravonsen
I'm... somewhat baffled by the concept of, and anger over, cultural appropriation. What makes one thing "cultural appropriation" and another thing "inspired by"? Why are people so angry about it? Is it that the things used are partial and not complete, and thus "get it wrong"? Twee romanticising of a culture? Being patronising? Pretending one is from that culture when one is not? Misrepresenting that culture? Feeling that using stuff from that culture is taking things away from the members of that culture? That only members of that culture are allowed to write anything that is associated with or inspired by that culture?

What is it?

Date: Monday, 4 March 2013 04:15 am (UTC)
kerravonsen: Steampunk raygun: "R is for Raygun" (raygun)
From: [personal profile] kerravonsen
Okay... that makes it a little clearer.

It's like... using stuff without bothering to do one's research. I've seen this with SF that's written by USAians while trying to have an Australian setting or an Australian character (worst case - an Australian Aboriginal character) while getting things wrong that any Australian would spot straight away. Like they couldn't be bothered getting a beta-reader, but still wanted to exploit the exoticism of an Australian setting.

Where the lines blur, I think, are where one is dealing with SF/F universes where one can make stuff up that doesn't necessarily correspond to existing real cultures.

* I mean, are the bits of Mandarin in Firefly "cultural appropriation"? I suppose it would be if the Mandarin was incorrect. (I don't know if it is).
* Are the kimino-like robes worn by the Minbari "cultural appropriation"?
* Are the cultures in Avatar: The Last Airbender "cultural appropriation"?

The difficulty is that, it's harder to say "they got it wrong" when the cultures in question are inspired by, rather than more directly based on, a known culture. I think part of that is... if you get the impression that the author has been meticulous in their world-building, that there is thought and internal consistency with it, then it feels less like a cultural grab-bag and more of a work of art. If, on the other hand, it looks like trappings without context, visual/characterisation short-cuts, then the author is neither respecting their art nor the culture they're borrowing from.

Which possibly means that perceiving something as cultural appropriation would depend a great deal on whether one likes it in the first place.

Date: Saturday, 2 March 2013 10:01 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] eve11.livejournal.com
Well hey, I remember you saying it took over 2 years to finish "Walk Out with Me to the Unknown Country" and however long it took, it was abso-freaking-lutely worth it, because it was brilliant!

My WIP-o-Doom, which I have only posted tentatively buried in the anon threads of a kink meme (even though it's not really kink) is at about 40K words and I have been working on it since January 2011. I did have to take time off for about 6 months to finish my dissertation before my graduation deadline, but still, slow write commiserates with you and sends virtual hugs and chocolate for continuing and keeping with it!

Date: Sunday, 3 March 2013 08:51 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] eve11.livejournal.com
Good luck to you in your efforts; perhaps we shall both complete our stories soon?

Thanks! I have to get out of data analysis mindset and back into writing mindset first. I'm better at it when I can sit outside on the patio, so hopefully the weather will start obliging soon. As for now it's still snowing. It's been 5 months since I wrote anything substantial on the WIP, and I've not really written anything at all in that time frame. I guess I have to buckle down.

What's out there of my story is buried in [livejournal.com profile] eleventy_kink, but because of the inability to update once posted, it's all old drafts. My working draft has changed to accommodate new plot points and new history (when I started we knew very little about River's back story, for example). That's part of why I didn't start posting it anywhere else, because I wanted to be able to go back and tweak things from previous chapters to fit into new ideas and information. I think I have 3 chapters and an epilogue left to write. I should just bite the bullet and start posting it with those bits still to go, but then I eg, get stuck with writer's block (or writer's apathy?) for five months straight.

Date: Sunday, 3 March 2013 02:21 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] a-phoenixdragon.livejournal.com
Ohhh, I love this!!

You should never worry about how long the fic is taking. I have some that have been in rotation more years than I like to think about - tis a wonder anyone reads my work, lol!!

Thank you for the update, sweetness...love hearing from you.

*HUGS*

Date: Sunday, 3 March 2013 01:36 pm (UTC)
thisbluespirit: (Northanger reading)
From: [personal profile] thisbluespirit
Aw, well, good luck with the writing. I'm sure your persistence will pay off. And the orchids are beautiful.

Date: Sunday, 3 March 2013 06:59 pm (UTC)
thisbluespirit: (dw - amy)
From: [personal profile] thisbluespirit
it persists in persisting, and therein lies my eventual salvation. At least I hope so.

Oh, I'm sure. You know, I only came back to fanfic writing and online fandom because I'd left a fic unfinished the first time round and I couldn't bear it - so, 8 years later, I finished it. I hope yours doesn't take you as long, but persistence is the thing, in the end, isn't it?

Well, the photographer can take some credit. It's still possible to end up with blurred things, stuff out of shot or in shot that shouldn't be! :-)

but wait! there's more!!

Date: Sunday, 3 March 2013 09:31 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] apostle-of-eris.livejournal.com
Hausermann’s has 150,000 square feet of greenhouse with 250,000 plants. Just on the corsage side of the business, they ship 400,000 corsages a year.
I have never been able describe the place extravagantly enough that it didn't still come as a shock to someone going for the first time. (And I am known for sounding extravagant and implausible and not making things up.) ((Is that a fair statement, "kaffyr"?))
Another part of the atmosphere is that it is a family business. Half the people working there have name badges saying "Hausermann".
During the Open House, the break area serves gives away sweet rolls in the morning and hot dogs at lunch time (and there is a popcorn machine). There is a little sign asking you to please take only one sweet roll or one hot dog.

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