Sunday, September 8, 2019

Cruise Year, Vol. 2, or: What I did on my summer vacation.

A couple of weeks ago, Kitty, Amy and I got on a cruise ship in Rome and got off about nine days later in Venice. In between, we toured a bunch of places. Some had been on my second-string bucket list (Rome! Venice! Greek islands!) and some had never been near any iteration of my bucket list (Turkey and Croatia). All of it turned out to be cool, and sometimes better than I'd expected. For instance, I was tickled to discover that some of the things we saw -- for lack of a better word -- rhymed.

Having never been to that part of the world before, I was struck by the way the cultures of so many countries on the Mediterranean Sea have intertwined. A lot of it is due to the spoils of war; the Greeks, the Romans, the Venetians, and the Ottoman Turks fought for control of the region for hundreds, even thousands of years, and so there's a certain amount of homogenization among the ancient sites. The mosaic floors at Pompeii in Italy, for instance, look a lot like the mosaic floors in the terrace houses at Ephesus in Turkey. And the frescoes adorning the walls of those Ephesian terrace houses look a lot like a wall I spotted in Museo Correr on the Piazza San Marco in Venice. Here, take a look:

Mosaic floor in Pompeii

Mosaic floor and frescoes in a terrace house in Ephesus

Wall - Museo Correr, Venice
I'm not sure, actually, whether that wall in Venice isn't a later-period homage to ancient Roman styles. Certainly artistic techniques go in and out of style -- like, say, black-on-black pottery. The ancient Etruscans made it, and so do potters from the San Ildefonso Pueblo here in the United States.

Etruscan pottery at the Museo Correr

Maria & Julian Martinez wedding vase | Wikimedia Commons |
CC 1.0

I could go on -- we saw so many wondrous places that I'm already forgetting some of the cool stuff we learned -- but I'll stop for now, if only to get some sleep.

These moments of bloggy comparative arts have been brought to you, as a public service, by Lynne Cantwell. (All photos in this post: Copyright Lynne Cantwell 2019, unless noted otherwise.)

Sunday, September 1, 2019

Gone cruisin'.

Yup, I'm on vacation this week. Come on back next Sunday and I'll show you where I've been.

These moments of out-of-office blogginess have been brought to you, as a public service, by Lynne Cantwell. (Click my name to find some stuff to read while I'm away.)

Sunday, August 25, 2019

Molten Trail: It's just one smoking hot crater after another.

Last week I sorta kinda promised you guys a sneak peek at Molten Trail, so here it is.

If you've read the first two Elemental Keys books, you'll know that our Elemental heroes -- Raney, Collum, Rufus, and Gail -- are chasing after Raney's father to find various Keys to a door that will unleash the Earth's destruction. They've already been to Harpers Ferry, West Virginia, where the Water Key was hidden, and to County Kilkenny, Ireland, where the Earth Key was kept. Book 3 takes them to the Big Island of Hawaii for the Fire Key. Fire is Rufus's Element, so he's pretty excited about it all.

One of the joys of writing this series is that I get to use places I've been as backdrops. So of course the gang stays near Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, which I visited in 2010. Here's a photo I took of the smokin' hot crater Rufus is so excited to see. The landscape is different now, though, after Kilauea's eruption earlier this year, and that's part of the story in Molten Trail, too.

Anyway. The photo, with the excerpt below it:

Copyright Lynne Cantwell 2010
Gail sprang for our lodgings. I think she saw my face when I paid for the business class airline tickets. Or maybe it was when I suggested we stay in a hostel near the national park. Anyway, she went online and booked a place, and then told us about it.

“You didn’t need to do that,” I’d said.

“Look, Raney,” she said. “I may be on a fixed income, but you’re unemployed. Let someone else do the heavy lifting for this trip. Okay?”

“Okay,” I said. Secretly, though, I was relieved.

So anyway, what we got were rooms in a renovated historic hotel just inside the boundary of Volcanoes National Park. The dining room overlooked the smoking hot Halema’uma’u Crater – and when I say smoking hot, I mean the crater was actually smoking.

Rufus was beside himself. His room overlooked the crater, too. “I’ve never been this close to a volcano before,” he said, beaming. “This is awesome!” He dropped his stuff in his room and immediately ran outside to goggle at the blasted landscape.

“Don’t get so close that your shoes melt,” Gail called after him. Then she shook her head in amusement. “He’s like a big kid.”

“That’s our Madman,” Collum said. He’d regained what equilibrium he’d lost on the flight over, and now looked like the fierce mountain gnome I’d grown to love.

We had some time before lunch, so we dragged a reluctant Rufus away from his contemplation of the crater and trekked over to the visitor center. There I found an arresting sight of my own: a painting of Pele, the Hawaiian goddess of volcanoes.

“That’s her home out there,” Rufus said, startling me. He pointed out the windows behind us.

“What, the crater?”

“Yep. According to Hawaiian mythology, Kilauea is where she lives.”

I turned my gaze to the blasted landscape, and back to him. “Has She spoken to you?”

“Not so far. But there’s time.” He grinned at me.

“Hey, where do your relatives live, anyway? You never said.”

“Not here,” he said with a laugh. “They’re all up on the North Shore of Oahu. And before you ask, they’re not Elementals.”

“Are they Native Hawaiians?”

“Nope. As far as I know, they’re haole, like all of us.” He twirled a finger to include me and the other team members. “That branch of the family came here in the ‘60s for the surfing and never left.”

“Sounds like the sort of people you’d be related to,” I said with a smirk.

“Yep, we’re all lazy jerks,” he replied cheerfully. “But seriously, I think that’s why my mother didn’t keep in touch with them. They were a little too counter-culture for her taste.”

“Gotcha. So you’re Elemental on your dad’s side?”

“Exactly. We’re Pennsylvania coal miners from way back. Fire is a great talent to have for that – setting charges to blow new seams open and that kind of thing.” His gaze drifted to the window. “Volcanoes are several magnitudes greater, though. This is real, raw firepower.” He focused on me again. “Hey, let’s get going. I’d like to get out into the park. There’s a road that circles the crater – we should have time to do that before lunch.”

“You’re kidding,” Gail said as she joined us. “Rufus, putting off a meal? Are you feeling okay?”

“He’s jonesing for Pele,” Collum said.

“You guys are all assholes. You know that?” Rufus said, but he was smiling. “Come on, let’s go. I’ll drive.”
Pele, Goddess of Fire by Herb Kawainui Kane
Photo copyright 2010 Lynne Cantwell
Speaking of traveling, I'll be on vacation next week. Enjoy your Labor Day! See you in September.

These moments of lava-like blogginess have been brought to you, as a public service, by Lynne Cantwell.

Sunday, August 18, 2019

Did someone say "knitting?"

I know you're all here for the knitting, but first: I finished the first draft of Molten Trail, the third book in the Elemental Keys series, earlier this week. It's shortish -- just over 41,000 words. But I'm confident I'll be able to add another 5,000 or 6,000 words in my next pass, which will be happening here presently. In any case, we're still on track for a late September-ish release. More news as it happens -- maybe even next week.

In the meantime, I offer you a post filled with lovely knitted things.

Time sure flies when you're having fun. My last kniting post was in March, and here it is, late August. Summer isn't the best time to knit, and certainly not to knit with wool. But that's why the gods invented air conditioning, right?

These last five months have been all about shawls. I already have about 30 shawls and shawlettes, which is a little embarrassing to admit. I keep thinking I should stop making them. But then some lovely new skein of yarn catches my eye, or I see an intriguing pattern, and I'm off.

Speaking of intriguing patterns: Last time, I showed you the Level in progress. Here's what mine looks like, now that it's finished:

Copyright 2019 Lynne Cantwell
In this project, I learned the importance of using yarns with more or less the same heft. The copper yarn, it turns out, is a DK; the blue is fingering weight; and the speckled yarn is single-ply that's more of a light fingering. I found I had to duplicate-stitch over some of the places where the yarns met, as the slanted ends of the lines weren't as obvious as they were meant to be. The colors go well together, at least. (And isn't it impressive how this shawl coordinates with our circular rug?)

The next project falls into the "lovely skein of yarn caught my eye" category. There I was at my local yarn store, minding my own business, and this skein of fingering-weight yarn nailed me at the door. So I brought it home and looked for something to make with it. The Hitchhiker Beyond pattern won.

Copyright 2019 Lynne Cantwell
Unlike most shawl patterns where the detail is at the lower edge, this has straight lower edges and a sawtooth design along the top. It was fun and quick to knit -- all good things.

The pattern for the next one is called the Ridgeline. The designer is in British Columbia, and had the Canadian Rockies in mind when she created the pattern. But I had yarn in my stash in Southwestern colors, and the Rockies stretch into New Mexico, so I thought my color choice was justified. And I love the way it turned out.

Copyright 2019 Lynne Cantwell
Finally, we come to the Amulet. Now, alert hearth/myth readers know that I'm not a lace knitter. And I also never knit with black, except under extreme duress -- it's hard to see the stitches and makes what's supposed to be a fun hobby way less fun. But then I realized I could use a black shawl. Then somehow the black yarn I found (the colorway is called Raven - I can't imagine how that caught my eye) got paired with a skein of red yarn. And as long as I was going there, I figured I might as well go completely nuts and add beads, too. 

I finished knitting it a couple of weeks ago. But thanks to Molten Trail and life in general, I didn't get around to blocking it until yesterday. It doesn't go as well with the rug as the Level, but you win some, you lose some.

Copyright 2019 Lynne Cantwell
Earlier today, I pulled out the blocking wires and pins and put it on. Instantly, I was in love. I'm sure I'll find somewhere to wear it.

The more I think about it, I think I may post an excerpt from the new book next week. 

These moments of bloggy knitting have been brought to you, as a public service, by Lynne Cantwell.