Tail end of a busy weekend

I got to the library and picked up American Gods and Land of Laughs. I’ve been reading American Gods as I can. But its been a very busy weekend for me, I’ve had 2 jobs that were fairly long this weekend, so I’m still recovering from those. I’ll be continuing to read American Gods around all my other commitments.

Got word from the Library

That the copies of American Gods and Land of Laughs I want to read for Carl’s RIP III challenge had arrived at the branch where I requested them to be delivered. So I now have checked them out and have them here! I’ve started reading American Gods. It starts out a good bit darker than Anansi Boys. I’m looking forward to reading more of it.

RIP challenge is back

RIP III challenge iconCarl is hosting the 3rd annual RIP challenge again this year. I’m going to take part again. 🙂 Since I had a terrible time getting all the books I wanted read in the time frame, I’m going to take part in Peril the Second, ie. reading 2 books in the scary book category. I think I can manage that this year.

I still want to read Land of Laughs by Jonathan Carroll. And I want to read Neil Gaiman’s American Gods. Both of these books were on my list last year, but life intervened and I didn’t get a chance to get to them at all.

I picked up the first of Elizabeth Bear’s Promethean series, Blood and Iron and really enjoyed reading it. So I’ve gone on and purchased Whiskey and Water, Ink and Steel, and Hell and Earth. So if I can work those into the challenge, I’ll try.

I forgot this earlier, but you can check out all the participants and the stories that they have read at http://ripingyarns.blogspot.com/

Rode my scooter to work. Again.

This past Tuesday. For the second time.

I’m slowly building my skill and confidence on the scooter. I’ve been riding around the neighborhood and seeing how the scooter handles as I make my way on turns and hills. I’m getting better as I spend more time on it. There are times when I’m still not comfortable doing things and in traffic, but its getting more familiar.

I’ve already driven the scooter to work one day before. So Monday night I checked the weather forecast for the week and it looked like Tuesday was going to be the best day to ride to work. I’ve been very fortunate, DH is willing to follow me to work and back in a car, since I end up traveling on a major thoroughfare. I’m really glad he does have experience riding motorcycles. He’s been a big help to me as I learn to ride this scooter. I am treating it as a major opportunity to ramp up my situational awareness. 🙂 DH’s philosophy on motorcycles is to treat them as if all other drivers are out to run you over. As I explore some other motorcycle web sites, I find that they all echo that over and over again.

So I got up and drove out to work, having left my house at 7 AM and then arriving at work at 7:30. I avoided the majority of rush hour here. I wore a backpack with my lunch and a change of shoes. That was cool. Driving out worked out well. I was fairly comfortable with the trip out. So that was good and I had a good day at work.

DH came out in the afternoon to follow me home. It was still clear when he got in to my workplace, but he had said that there was a big cloud building up near the house. The prevailing weather patterns take most weather east and south as they pass our house, so I thought that it might do the same again. Since I work north and west of my house, that should have been ok. I finished up and took my stuff out to the scooter to get ready to ride home. DH told me that he would back up whatever I wanted with the ride home. So I put my purse under the seat, got my jacket on, put on the gloves and the helmet, and wheeled my scooter on the way. As I was starting the ride, I saw that there were some nasty clouds off to the south. I drove back down Carson Road and noticed that the wind was creating more resistance than I was used to, and I got beaned with more small debris that had been picked up off the side of the road. I saw lightning off in the distance toward my destination. I was not a happy camper. But I kept on riding home. Five Mile Road was not busy, so I was going the fastest speed I was safe on it. As I was coming up to First Avenue North, I keep seeing lightning flashes in the clouds. And it was the ground to cloud lightning. It was pretty spectacular. It looked like I might hit a break in the rain showers, so I kept on riding down the road.

I had resolved to get as far down the road as I felt I could go safely. I’m a newbie rider, with just over 100 miles ridden at all. I know there’s an awful lot I have no clue how to handle. I was nervous, but I figured that without going on, I wouldn’t have the experience to deal with the situation in the future. I got past East Lake Park and Oporto Madrid Blvd, and it actually started raining. So I pulled to the side of the road, DH stopped, and we traded places. This was actually already set up. DH had said that he would ride the scooter if it started to rain. I was having trouble opening the seat to get my purse, but I finally got the seat up and my purse out. I kept the jacket and backpack on, but took off the gloves and helmet. We caught a break in traffic, DH pulled out onto the road, and I followed. As he was pulling out into the road, the rain really started falling, and a bolt of lightning struck the power lines on the other side of the road. The wind really started driving the rain down in sheets. I was staying behind DH as he drove the scooter down the main road. It was nerve wracking for me in the car. I couldn’t imagine what it was like for DH on the scooter. I would have been a mess on the scooter. When we got to 64th street, DH turned left to go over to 1st Avenue South. He continued home on 1st Ave. South. There’s a place on 1st Ave. South that has a small substation. As DH approached it, it was struck by lightning. I saw the ball of plasma that the lightning strike creaked as it blew. Then DH turned left on 56th Street to get over to our neighborhood. He crossed over the big railroad tracks and I lost sight of him. As I followed, I saw some large tree branches at the side of the road. That was in addition to all the little branches that were out there all over the place. There were major branches down up 56th. As I crossed Crestwood Blvd, I heard the hail start. It hailed the rest of the way home. AS I pulled up to the house, it started hailing heavily, and the lights were out. I parked the car, and stayed in it. In a few minutes, DH called me. He had gotten the scooter in the garage with the automatic garage door opener, and gotten the door closed, then the power failed. He was soaked to the skin.

In another 5 or 10 minutes, the rain and hail slacked off and I ran into the house with my helmet and gloves. DH informed me that I really owed him for that. The power didn’t come back on until 2:30 in the morning. And our phone line is trashed. So the DSL we have at the house is useless. But hopefully we’ll have the phone lines replaced by the end of the week.

We found out later that there were wind gusts reported at the airport of 70 miles per hour. That’s almost hurricane force winds! No wonder DH was being knocked around on the scooter as he drove it.

Now, for when I have no backup driving along behind me, I do have a plan. I would find someplace with some overhead cover and stop until the rain passes. I probably should have stopped a couple of miles earlier, but that falls into the area of not knowing any better. Doh!

Challenge results, sort of

Well, I’m going to have to call the RIP II challenge finished, I guess. I’m not going to finish Dracula in time. I have been reading lots of short stories, though. I managed just a Little Bit of Peril by finishing Harry Potter. I thought I had asked the local library to pull some books for me, but when I checked my online patron record, there was nothing listed in the request area and I had never been contacted by the branch that was supposed to have the books. So I have gone and requested Dan Simmons The Terror and Jonathan Carroll’s Land of Laughs from the library again. I’m going to read them, just not in the challenge time frame.

I also appreciate Carl introducing me to the artwork of Lisa Snellings-Clark and Poppets! Just in time for Halloween, I have managed to home a poppet. Its an Orange poppet, so it may be in danger here, given the Alabama/Auburn rivalry. I think I need to make a home for a Red Poppet and a Black Poppet now. 🙂

RIP II Short Stories

I’ve managed to read a few short stories for the RIP II challenge. I forgot I have an anthology collection of short stories called Fantastic Worlds, Myths, Tales, and Stories edited by Eric S. Rabkin. It was initially published in 1979. It has stories by genre, including horror and ghost stories.

The three horror stories are The Sandman by E.T.A Hoffmann, The Black Cat by Edgar Allen Poe, and The Picture in the House by H.P. Lovecraft. The three ghost stories are The Hand by Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu, The Moonlit Road by Ambrose Bierce and Lost Hearts by M. R. James. I think this may have been a textbook for a course on short stories at one time. The publisher is Oxford University Press and the range of genres represented in the book is pretty wide.

I read all 3 horror stories and 2 of the 3 ghost stories. For the horror stories, Hoffman’s The Sandman starts as a story told in letters. It tells of the troubles of a young man who is convinced all his troubles are caused by the Sandman. His father has been killed. He is currently at the University, but when he becomes besotted with a professor’s daughter, he becomes unhinged and obsessed. It goes down hill from there. I’m reminded of some ideas used in steampunk, but the story was written in 1816, so it isn’t retro, its the original deal.

Poe’s The Black Cat would be banned by PETA these days, with good reason. Poor wife, poor kitty, poor Pluto. Our faithless narrator is in the grip of the demon drink, and everyone around him pays for it. The story is moody in the extreme, and much in the mindset of the challenge.

I haven’t read much, if any Lovecraft before, so I was looking forward to seeing what his writing was like. The story is set in his Miskatonic Valley, but without the appearance of the elder beings. Our narrator has been out doing genealogical research in the valley, and is caught by a nasty storm and must seek shelter in a very old house. He meets the owner of the house and sees some of his books. This isn’t particularly scary in itself, but the descriptions of the house and the owner, not to mention the book the owner asks the narrator to read are very creepy. I think I need to try a few more stories of his.

I read Le Fanu’s The Hand, and it seemed like it was a standard ghost story. Nothing really out of the ordinary, but it was written in 1861, so I think I may be a much more jaded reader of ghost stories than his contemporary audience.

Bierce’s The Moonlit Road is a very familiar story, and is a much more tragic one. The ghost of the murder victim appears by moonlight on the road to her husband and son. Husband cannot handle it and runs. Since he was the killer, he is haunted by her.

Short stories are a nice way to be able to read when life is too full. I need to read more stories out of this anthology now.

RIP II challenge update

I may have to change my books for this, or change to reading short stories. Life is not letting me read the way I want to right now. I’ve started re-reading Dracula and it is good. I haven’t read it in at least 10 years, so most of the details are hazy in my memory. Most of my reading time is now right before bed. And I’m burning the candle at both ends, it seems.

I’ve asked the library to reserve some books for me, Jonathan Carrol’s Land of Laughs, Dan Simmons’s the Terror, Neil Gaiman’s American Gods, but they’ll get here probably about the time the challenge ends.

So I’ve been looking for some short story collections and will see what I can come up with. I have several stories by Edgar Allen Poe. He’s always good for a creepy story.