log (2010/08/20 to 2010/08/26)

We have now been doing this weblogging thing for eleven years, incredibly, and as is traditional I am sitting and writing this in a rental house somewhere on the coast of Maine, and will probably post it, back-dated, when we get back.

It's Just Like The Old Days, in that there are eight of us in the house, and we're on the eastern shore of Linekin Bay. We're just a tad closer to the head of the Bay than the house that we started doing this in, all those years ago. It's a very nice house, with huge open windows, lots of light, and a good wireless internet connection projected from the studio up the hill a bit where the owners live.

The main difference from the Old Days is probably how enormous the children are. The little daughter is twenty now, which is just absurd, and the other children are older roughly in proportion.

We've been doing a whole lot of nothing this year; I think everyone is tired. I've been calling into daily phonecalls at work to help The Project with my sage advice, and doing the very occasional checkin. While that sounds like it might be annoying and stressful, I actually finds it helps with the relaxing, because I don't have to worry that I am out of touch and not keeping up with things and all. This way I know that I am, and I can nap and play WoW and log into Second Life and read cheap paperback and eat lobster with a clear mind.

(Although the Buddhas of all the millenia still don't really approve of the lobsters, I don't think, given the method of preparation. The flesh is weak!)

It rained significantly yesterday (so I got a bit wet on my phonecall, because the place where I can most reliably get an intelligible cellphone signal is out on the little lawn, between the side door to the house and the steps down to the dock; and we got quite wet dashing into and out of the restaurant for lunch). Today it is sunnier and gorgeouser. (I am writing this on let's see Thursday; I vaguely think it's been clear a bit, cloudy a bit, and raining for one day, but durn if I can recall the details.)

Haven't gone to Wiscasset (except to pass through it on the way in), or the sand beach, or any lighthouses, or out on any boats. I have, though, taken a (very brisk and bracing, one might even say incredibly farking cold) dip in the Bay, and the kids even did the same (well, three of them) later the same day. This house has a wonderful advantage in that area, because it has a "hot tub" of all things, and one can get into that when one emerges, chilly-fleshed, from the sea.

Napping down on the floating dock is great, too.

Also unlike in the Old Days, M has an "iPad" device with her which can pinpoint our location within like ten feet, and show a startlingly clear image of the roof of the house on the screen. Which is a bit frightening. And everyone has their "cellular phones", and I have this computer of course, with which I can even get to the Rational Team Concert repository at work and do checkins.

We have gone into Boothbay a time or two for the shops and icecream, and into the tiny East Boothbay a couple of times (once for lunch and once for dinner; eating and mailing letters being pretty much the only activities supported by the town). In Boothbay proper I did my usual sweep through the Used Book Sale at the Library (twenty-five cents per book for the books on the porch; I got eight!).

In roughly descending order of size: "Exons, Introns, and Talking Genes: the Science Behind the Human Genome Project", which I might actually read at some point; "The Select" by F. Paul Wilson, a "medical cliffhanger" of the kind that one is vaguely surprised ever came out in hardcover; the February 15, 1982 issue of Isaac Asimov's Science Fiction Magazine, for obvious reasons; "Blue Champagne", a collection of short stories by John Varley that I might possible not have already read; "Where the Dark Streets Go" by Dorothy Salisbury Davis, a paperback murder mystery; "Give the Boys a Great Big Hand", by Ed McBain, a (wait for it) paperback murder mystery; "clarion II", edited by Robin Scott Wilson, "An Anthology of Speculative Fiction and Criticism", which I've finished, and really wasn't all that impressed by; and finally John Creasey's "The Toff and the Great Illusion", a paperback murder mmystery, which I've also finished and was fun and just what one would expect.

What else what else? Another largish difference from the Old Days is that I have well-controlled clinical despression, whatever the heck that is. I don't know how much of an effect that has on the experience of being up here, of listening to the seagulls and waves, of resting and thinking. Quite likely some, quite likely not very much.

(Also I still can't smell, which is downright annoying, because I'd like to be able to smell the sea and the wind and the coffee; I really ought to try to get that fixed...)

All sorts of things have of course been happening unreported, because I have not been writing here in the log much (as usual, it feels very good to be doing so again). I actually got the energy and organization up to go to the Second Life Community Convention and interact in person with actual other people in large bunches, which was quite a trip. It is, of course, written up more or less in detail or not in the secret Second Life weblog.

And I did mention the kitten. *8) She is at home, being cared for by the very kind and cat-experienced next-door neighbors.

It is lovely sitting and looking out over the Bay, admiring the various anchored boats, the occasional prosperous-looking people motoring out from the town dock to fiddle with their boats, arrange things, sometimes even raise a sail and sail off somewhere. Everything seems so well-groomed, neatly-arranged well attended-to. I have little daydreaming fantasies that I am the Lord of the Manor for the entire Bay, overseeing the boats and docks and shops and restaurants and houses, with the inhabitants coming to me now and then to help resolve their little disputes, their endearing uncertainties.

This is a very dangerous sort of place, it occurs to me, for people in actual power to spend significant time. But I'm afraid that they do, many of them. Hanging out on docks and at golf course restaurants and urban hotels where everything is neat and well-ordered and seen to, and everyone seems prosperous and content.

It's all too easy, spending time in that sort of place, to come to feel that what life is about is maintaining that sort of place, improving it, caring about it. And that other kinds of places, and the people in them, are just sort of unfortunate side-shows, things that one might make gestures toward, even work toward aiding, but not really in the center of one's concern, not something one thinks about very often. Because, well, that is there and this is here.

I also brought a number of books, and the latest New York Times Book Review, and some random magazines, from home. But I won't list those. M, on the other hand, has probably several dozen or several hundred books in her iPad, and thousands more available upon whim.

Which is pretty weird.

There is vague discussion of going out and doing things, if only we can get a few more of the kids to get out of bed. I will stop writing for now, probably write more later, and then eventually post this so that you can read it. Won't that be nostalgic?

So we went into town (into Boothbay) again, for reasons that slip my mind, and had seafood for lunch, and then went walking about, off to the antique (antiques?) store to find a thankyou present for one of the kitten-sitters, and the icecream store for icecream (I had an extra-thick chocolate and banana "frappe" (which is New Englandish for "shake") mmmmmm), and then we went to Enchantments.

Enchantments is this big crowded New Age and Water Pipes ("For Use With Tobacco Only") store that's been sitting there in Boothbay forever, where I've bought all sorts of inneresting books and things in past years (various of them mentioned here in the annual editions of the weblog). It is great fun.

This year I bought two books ("Sitting", by Diana St. Ruth; and "Blame it on the Buddhists", by Martin E. Segal) and one CD ("Bamboo", by Kazu Matsui, featuring Keiko Matsui on piano), bought because it sounded nice and cost less than twenty dollars and "Keiko Matsui" reminded me vaguely of someone in Second Life.

And now the little daughter and I have sat on the dock for awhile, putting our feet into the water and me reading my various books, and us both taking pictures of things and of each other; and that was nice.

Now there is discussion of dinner, and apple pies, and maybe going for swim in the Bay again.

The swim in the Bay was utterly delicious, the tide far ebbed, the water shallow enough, just barely, to stand, close to the dock, on one's tiptoes, and bring up interesting stones and shells from the bottom. It was cold, but not too cold, and I paddled around for some time (M's sister's husband for a bit less time, the little boy for not much time at all, having a higher surface-to-volume ratio or for other reasons).

Then the little boy and I soaked in the hot tub for awhile and that was omg idyllic also, lolling in hundred-degree (F) water, looking lazily out at the lengthening shadows of the deck chairs on the grass of the little yard, listening to the voices of people talking inside, watching the clouds moving, boats moving on the water here and there.

And now I am sitting with a glass of dark red wine, showered, in my nightshirt, writing this and watching people bustling around in the kitchen with ideas about apple pie.

And that is also very nice.

I wanna hold 'em like they do in Texas, please!

Now we have been sitting around while the apple pies bake (apparently there are two of them), being extremely gender-normative: the females have been doing crafts and reading and discussing things, and the men have been playing poker.

Poker is kind of fun! I was winning most of the time (due to having good "hands"), until the nephew (who seems suspiciously familiar with the game) went "all in" on the final "hand", and surged into the lead.

The last hand was interesting and random, being five-card draw with two draw rounds, deuces and one-eyed jacks wild, no round-the-corner straights, as chosen by the nephew, who was dealing, as a fittingly weird final hand. (Myself, I am very fond of round-the-corner straights.) He won the hand with five queens; our second five-queen hand of the night (the previous one being mine, on I think it was a hand of seven-card "play what you're dealt", deuces and likely some other stuff wild).

There was some discussion as to whether a wild card can legally be used as another card that is already in one's hand, as is required to get five-of-a-kind; we decided that house rules would allow it tonight, whatever the Global Consensus on the subject is.

The fun thing about poker (at least the poker we were playing) is that each hand is different, because the dealer gets to mix and match any of the relatively large stock of available rules each time. We didn't actually play any loball, or hi-lo, or anaconda, but it's nice knowing that the dealer could have chosen them on a whim.

(I haven't been able to find on the Web a standard term for my favorite quick hand: everyone gets seven cards, face down, and makes the best possible hand from them, using whatever wild cards the dealer has seen fit to declare, with a single round of betting and no fancy-pants "draws" or "flops" or "rivers". A game for men with mustaches! If any readers know its name, send the information along; assuming and of the sending-along mechanisms still function.)

And now I might go into Second Life and work on ideas for my Burn2 build, having splurged on a site reservation with some money what I made scripting and stuff. I might write more tomorrow, even though it will technically be Friday, and I will probably date this entry Thursday for narrative and bookkeeping purposes. I know you won't mind. *8)

Friday was again lovely, in weather and also in relaxing sorts of things. We had pancakes for breakfast, and I did my morning work call (things seem to be coming along pretty well without me, somehow), and then drove my kids and the little nephew out to Popham Beach, where there is actual sand and surf and beach-like stuff like that.

We spent a few hours there; the tide was high so we just hung around on the narrowish strip of sand and went in the water now and then. When the tide's low, as it's been other years when we visited, you can walk across the sandbars and play in the tidepools and wade out to a rocky island and things. But it was fun just getting chilly in the surf also.

And now we've more or less packed and I'm staying up too late writing this, and tomorrow we will drive home and I will probably post it then.

It will be good to be home.

P.S. Home safe! *8)