taking things slow

It’s hard to think of interesting things to say. A couple of years at home and most regular chatting is with family or work. Sydney has had it much easier than other places, especially Victoria, yet somehow I’ve been extra cautious anyway…spent bulk of year easing toward normality then all of a sudden lockdown 2. It seemed harder this time. Last time, I tried to imitate normality, even weekend brekkies in the car. This time I had brekky at home and left house a lot less. Also I lived in an LGA of concern which meant extra limits and a 5km radius.

Lockdown is over and while still cautious, I am moving a little quicker to get out more. Caught up with a few friends last week, some of whom I hadn’t seen in nearly 2 years, and others a year ago. Yesterday, we made it down to Bowral to my partner’s mother’s place; we were last there in June pre lockdown. Every time I walk into the Bowral house, I relax and feel at ease. I have missed visiting. I don’t do phonecalls well though new hearing aids means I handle calls so much better – except everyone is used to me not handling phonecalls and old habits die hard :)

Last lockdown it was a few months before I returned to the office one day a week – that was too long and I don’t think the absence was healthy. This time round I’m returning within a few weeks and this week will be my first back in the office. I love working from home, when there are options for getting out; less fun when you’re stuck and every day is the same.

Sydney film festival has started and I am missing it this year. Last year we watched it virtually, this year it’s in person but I’m not making it at all. Too soon after lockdown. It’s a lot of people at once. I do not want to deal with whatever a filmfest people crush looks like in the time of covid. Because deafness, I need to ask people to remove masks so I can hear them…which ain’t fun for other people currently.

rusty taps

My focus for now is low key catch ups with people close.

My focus is also books. As always. Reading and buying.

Dune. Centipede Press have finally put up for sale their edition of Dune. As noted elsewhere, I was on the pre-order list for years. 2 weeks ago, it was released. There were 800 people on the pre-order list and around 570 copies up for grabs (500 numbered but first 100ish to subscribers, 421-500 for other distributors; 250 unsigned/unnumbered). I had no idea where I was in the queue and emails were sent out in batches of 200, starting from 2.30am Sunday morning Sydney time.

I am happy to report that I was in the first batch and my paypal receipt notes that my purchase was finalised at 2:31:48am :-) Turns out a couple of years is a long time on a mailing list, especially one that includes COVID-19. When I first went on the list I think pricing was anticipated around US$400, and the final price was US$625 and almost everyone on the list, or at least almost everyone on the list in the relevent facebook group, managed to get a copy.

Most expensive book I have ever bought but it’s worth it for Dune and Centipede is one of my favourite presses for producing amazing books with good paper and binding choices. The downside is that it is book 1 of 6 (by Frank Herbert) and I will be getting the other 5 (not sure what the schedule but one a year perhaps is realistic). Within 24 hours, someone had sold a copy for US$2,500 (4 times the cost) which doesn’t really surprise me.

stops and starts

Weirdly, suddenly I stopped blogging mid #blogjune, the last post about was on the 18th. I don’t know why I stopped as I had plenty of ideas and for the first time in a while there was a good vibe and interaction with other folk, nice chats here and there. Somehow my mojo disappeared. That may have been around the time of the current Sydney getting underway, though why that would affect this sort of thing I dunno. The new playstation didn’t arrive till 10 days later so that wasn’t it either. Things were exhausting for a while but June often is.

New playstation has been fun, impressively fast loading of games and whisper quiet – well my hearing ain’t fab so it’s quiet to me. On the other hand, the previous playstation was noisy and loud to deaf old me.

Books, lots of books. Though less arriving than usual. Perhaps my ordering splurge has died off and sanity returned. Perhaps. I am aware that a few boxes are on their way. Folio Society have reprinted their editions of Asimov’s initial Foundation trilogy. I missed out first time round and the prices on the secondhand market have been significantly higher than I’d be willing to pay. While the reprint is a little ecky, it works out at high double figures per book which is bearable. I’m looking forward to re-reading them as I first read then in dodgy secondhand paperbacks 30 years ago.

Managed to finish a bunch of books in recent weeks:

  • In Darkness Visible by Tony Jones – the second book from the former host of Q&A, also good, a political thriller.
  • The Midnight Library by Matt Haig – I liked it but didn’t love it which probably puts me at odds with everyone I know. A pleasant read nonetheless.
  • The Prisoner of Heaven by Carlos Zafon – third book (of four-ish) in the Cemetery of Forgotten Books series. Each book seems interconnected though there is a sense they could be read in any order, or at least the first three as I have not yet read the fourth which is generally regarded as the best. Sadly the author died last year.
  • Assail by Ian Cameron Esslemont – the “final” of Esslemont’s main Malazan series, though there is another trilogy later still to read (and some more Erikson). Assail was a good solid read that flowed along. Every so often I hit a point where I need to another Malazan and this filled the hole nicely.
  • The Gold-Jade Dragon by Janeen Webb – tales of dragons and human forms, playing with politics and business. An easy read that flowed along, quickly and enjoyably finished. There was a previous novella, The Dragon’s Child, that should be read first.
  • The Last Days of New Paris by China Mieville – a novella that reminded me of the things I love about Mieville and how inventive he can be. A surrealist story about surrealist thinking, told surreally, with a political undercurrent.
  • The Fifth Season by NK Jemisin – loved it though it took a while to get into as it was telling a story through different times with changing narrators of sorts. Needless to say I’m looking forward to continuing the trilogy.

Other books on the go or at the top of the reading queue

  • Walking Home: Travels with a Troubadour on the Pennine Way by Simon Armitage – almost finished, doesn’t need to be read in one hit, I dip in and read a chapter occasionally, not looking forward to finishing it :)
  • The Old Drift by Namwali Serpell – a recommendation from a friend, finally bought the ebook last night.
  • The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August by Claire North – a new take on the Groundhog Day idea perhaps. Mentions of it popped in discussion of a new pretty edition of Replay by Suntup.
  • The Parable of the Sower by Octavia Butler – this seemed an appropriate choice for my first letterpress book. I am unsure whether letterpress books are a thing I will seek out and the books I like are rarely published this way. I started it last night and so far so good.
  • Unfettered II: edited by Shawn Speakman – I bought the fancy edition of this because I like and respect the cause it’s raising money for. I also like Grim Oak Press generally and have several of their books. I’m about midway through anthology of fantasy and stories I’ve read here have read to me buying and reading other books.

a room with a chair

I sat down to type about books and saw Kathryn’s post about a chair and immediately changed direction. I have a favourite chair and it is just right for me. I came across it in a furniture shop long ago and had to have it. I bought it and paid for it and waited for it to be made.

The chair is colourful and comfy. The wings are not pronounced which is a plus as I can’t lean my head against them – leaning my head against people and objects is sometimes tricky due to the ever-present hearing aids in my ears.

I love sitting in my chair and a year or two later, the company produced a matching foot stool and I was in heaven. It’s a lovely spot to sit and read, with bookcases beside, or watch tv, or sip a whisky.

The view from the chair down the wall is of some of my favourite books….including Trixie Belden in the distance. On the opposite wall is a print of a Cezanne that dad picked up at an exhibition long, long ago. He used to have it stuck on the wall. After he died, I had it framed properly and I love staring into it, studying and dwelling in the unfinished village.

…and on we go

Time for things is a needed thing. Me making the time or finding time to engage is important. Following my post the other day, I belatedly remembered there are a bunch of folk who continue to blog and engage and do stuff. That would be the new cardigan/ausglam crowd, full of many interesting people with whom I keep not getting round to engaging with much though I am loosely listed with them. Based in Victoria but not limited to Victoria.

They even blog regularly and unite around a monthly topic which seems like an easy way to ensure you blog at least monthly. June’s topic is Exuberance though I’m not feeling it at the moment; neither youthful nor exuberant. Might try and write something this month. I have found myself referenced in the monthly summary when my thoughts align with the topic of the day, most recently in February and April.

A day or two on and Ruth’s quote on the value of time still resonates much.

not day 7 yet

I am ruminating on Con’s entry yesterday and not sure I quite have the words yet. A familiar space has gone and I’m not sure if it’s me or the space. I commented on an absence of conversational engagement but that’s not quite right and I want to say some sort of silo-ing but I am unclear where the silos are, or even if they’re generational of sorts.

10 years ago, 15 years ago, perhaps more, there was the fun of the new and a large bunch of folk all trying out new things together. It started out slow: 1 then a few, then a few more, then at some point or other it hit critical mass. It seemed to be cross generational and by generational perhaps I mean to say cohorts or tribes rather than age specific as groups picked up and came on board.

Newgrad stuff took off too. None of those original bunches are newgrad anymore: some are mid career, some top career, some retired, some moved on entirely. Twitter is sort of a bunch of familiar faces with occasional new folk but nothing revolutionary.

Perhaps the wave of social media excitement has crested and folk are tired. Then again, #blogjune seemed to start initially as a means to revitalisation. Recognition then, that we were falling off. The number of friends I have on facebook doesn’t change a lot whereas twitter is more public with chopping and changing. I keep trying instagram but it lacks traction for me. I initiate stuff on facebook but mostly respond on twitter. 2-3 forums seems to be about my limit.

Other folk do other things. Perhaps we now are the “old folk”, “old guard”, the folk we railed against and our approaches are less relevant. Perhaps we didn’t rail at all and that was a convenient ploy. An aspect of me and who I am is the struggle to easily establish new friends; friending people takes years. Perhaps that limits my ability to engage these days.

We are more careful these days, watching what we say, what we do. Comments in jest can be misconstrued, quoted out of context later. Everybody is in our spaces now, everything recorded. It’s tricky to find the right size space; a space sufficiently large for conversations by multiple players but not too large that conversations get drowned out and forgotten. Large enough to have a flow of people without being a quickly flowing river.

The fun has gone, but habits of community and communication remain. I have been here before. I had a decade or so swept up in the glories of usenet for online discussion across the late 80s and 90s. Then there was a pause for a while and then social media and public access took off. Different people for different times.

Perhaps pauses are natural as we stroll.

the future of old

What even does that look like? Saw a post from a friend pondering retirement, future and planning and it’s a space I occasionally wonder about and whether I could indeed afford to retire. If I did retire what would I do, what is life like without the job I have.

Privilege blah blah blah plays a part in this conversation of course. I’m almost 53 and I have a good job and own a flat with mortgage paid off. My super is ok but not fab, previous jobs paid much lower and a decade as a professional student barely paid at all. I cannot envisage retiring; I like my work and remain passionate for it and the industry I work in. If I stop working I’d probably have to stop buying pretty books – on the other hand, I have plenty to read.

Post 65 is a tricky space as my dad died at 65 while working fulltime and doing a PhD part time. Mum did retire but her final years were physically painful with athritis and osteo. My oldest grandparent (great-gran actually) died at 93 and I suspect they had some form of dementia. I sort of figure my life expectancy probably maxes out at around 80.

I joke about wanting gaming consoles in the nursing home but wonder if I’ll be coordinated enough to play them.

I’m happy enough now though thinking about the future a little. I find comparing myself to others an exercise in anxiety and ultimately different people have different needs and different lives. There isn’t a one size fits all in this conversation. I don’t want a lot of things but I don’t want to end up homeless either.

Still at 52, I am happily surprised to find myself in a satisfying job doing things I love and associating with interesting people.

sunday

Slept in. Cocooned in the doona. Odd dreams about living and working from home in the outer burbs yet somehow some combo of Barcelona/Rome/New York was a 10 minute walk away with a grand central style train station. A large place with a spooky cellar. An itinerant chap was living in the cellar. Was spooky initially but we chatted and I was fine with him living there. A big backyard and I had no idea how to mow it. It seemed to be a temporary place; all my stuff was in the other house with my partner and we’d spend weekends together. There was some sort of techerie that needed addressing somewhere. The house was empty yet there was a wheelchair in a spare room.

It reads a little like the start of a horror story, yet felt relaxed and comfy.

Had a late brekky and there’s something about a 1pm brekky on a sunlit afternoon with shadows stretching away. I hit a mental moment of relaxation…happy thinking on things and ideas and directions. The travel section of the paper had a nice suggestion for a place to stay in Stanley, Tas. We may visit Stanley and that may work…or perhaps we’ll stay in Burnie – a few days in Burnie and a few in Launceston. Perhaps a distillery visit. Quiet towns and walking. Dunno. A nice dinner in Launceston would be good and there’s interesting options.

Bought more Zooom today. So so good.

Blogging without blogging about work is a little tricky. Work is such a large part of me and what I do and often what I like to do. But blogging about work requires caution – I don’t mean that in a sinister way. Work is an institution and things are known and unknown. I don’t do a lot in public spaces, my work is more back room, supporting those in the patron facing spaces.

Most of my work conversations are with staff or with suppliers, there’s not a lot of reason for me to talk to non library people. What I do is a mix of spreadsheets and budgets and stats and tech and negotiations and planning and preparing and exploring and evaluating. Talking about my work needs to steer a path away from selling my work I think.

saturday

Quiet. Uneventful. Of no fixed mood. Minimal creativity.

I am however sipping a rather nice beer, Zoooom choc-pecan mudcake stout from Sauce. First released last year early on in lockdown and I wasn’t able to grab any. Walked into the local bottle shop a couple of weeks ago and they had some. Wow! Way tasty, a hint of nuts and a silky smooth texture. This might be a new favourite. Strong at 9% or 2.7 standard drinks per can.

I went to a brewery twice last year, once to meet a couple of friends as things opened up a little, later for a friend’s 50th. I’m still not going out much; I s’pose while covid continues to be ever present and the risk of another outbreak in Sydney remains, I continue to be cautious.

Weekends usually involve the newspaper in a cafe and time with family. Definitely not keen to go to bars and people-y places much. We have cautiously booked flights for a week in Tassie in August, fingers crossed we’re still good then.

Had my first shot of the AstroZeneca vaccine on Monday, with no side effects. Second injection is scheduled for a few days after I get back from Tassie. Fingers crossed.

I miss travel. A lot.

I’ve even investigated train trips across the country…actually it’d be nice to visit Perth again too, perhaps head north to Broome. My partner mentioned a trip to the Kimberley and that’d be fab, always wanted to go there. I am fortunate in that I have managed to visit every state and capital city at least twice and driven across great swathes of the country. Yet there is still so much to see.

I’d love to return to Uluru though I wouldn’t climb it even if it were allowed. I will confess I did so as a teenager in the 80s. It’s an odd parallel as in the 70s dad used to take me on land rights’ rallies for first australians yet in the 80s I still wanted to climb the rock. My past sins. We also did a tour round the base and my sister and mum flew over it in a small aircraft which did not agree with my sister.

#blogjune…i’m running out of snappy titles

I am unsure if #blogjune will be a thing this year, to be honest, I think I’m rather past it and the care factor. I suspect I’ve said variations of that since the beginning. Oh I forgot, my first post of #blogjune usually begins with:

Aaaaaarrrrrrrggggghhhhhhhh!!!!

or similar, perhaps less h and more r.

So 2021 here we are. Perhaps this I will try recycling ideas from the start of this instance of this blog ie the stuff that is still easily accessible. I have talked too much of older versions so I figure this might be the year to recycle the current version, but with new bits [narrator: unlikely] and new images [narrator: likely but they’ll just be more books].

There were murmurings last week of doing stuff for #blogjune. Someone even threatened I take up a variation of a suggestion of a Lem idea and write reviews of movies that don’t exist.

Though I drink whisky regularly [narrator: nightly] I think I’ve moved on from my obsession in that direction. These days I’ve moved back to books and collecting books [narrator: I warned you about the books] so I could chat about collecting I s’pose and post pictures of the pretty books I have [narrator: I warned you about posting images of books].

Mostly I don’t care. Some years I start with a plan. I still have lists of things to blog about from years gone by. Blogging every day is sometimes easy, sometimes hard, sometimes I just don’t care.

Some years I fudge day by day.

This year, Sydney filmfest has been moved from June to August depriving me of much content, and content about content. I might have to work a little harder this year to churn out daily posts. To be fair, even with filmfest, some years I struggle. If I am in the mood, there will be posts. If I am not in the mood, there may not be posts. Perhaps.

Anyway, #blogjune is off again.

space

Fitting in. I rarely find spaces that fit me. Or I them. At times I am too shallow, at others something else. I dabble. I play. I toy. I suspect I mostly toy. Tools. Conversations not so much unless you count those spaces where I talk to myself…at length.

This blog, this space has always been my space. A space to talk about whatever is on my mind. Sometimes professional, often not. These days a little obsessive. Book stuff but not a glam perspective, not libraries: alt.nerdy.collector.owning.acquiring.appreciating.

That’s my now. Perhaps there’s a different now further down the track.

I am pondering removing myself from glam lists as it seems like folk using those lists are seeking stuff other. Perhaps there’s stuff later that may be relevant but for a long while it doesn’t seem relevant.

How many people still read blogs via rss?

Dunno. It used to matter. I don’t much. What I used to read many years ago mattered then, less now. Aside: googling about RSS I came across twobithistory and I sorta like it.

Perhaps if I ever scan in all my books [that are scannable] which will provide a file of the “books of snail” and that may be a fun file to play with. I suspect my collecting is at a point where I need to track the value of my books for insurance. Yet I sorta feel if they burn, they’re gone, I start again. Viking stuff is big at the moment and I like the idea of a bonfire on my death of all my books and belongings…all my friends and family would each choose one thing to keep to hold their memory of me. I desire not to be remembered but respect that memory is important to those that continue on.