Sunday, August 29, 2021

The Summer Reading Challenge is wrapping up.


copyright Lynne Cantwell 2021
This is it, y'all. The final week of the hearth/myth 2021 Summer Reading Challenge has begun. And I have a confession to make. 

See the books in the photo? Well, the three books plus a Kindle. Anyway, they represent two things: The hardback copy of The Payoff is the grand prize for the person who has read the most books on our list; the others are books I fully intended to read this summer and never got around to.

I don't know about you, but ever since all this business with the pandemic started, I've had a really hard time concentrating for long enough to get much reading done. But when I compiled the the list of books that's the basis for the contest, I had such great plans. I'd already read a ton of the books on the list, and so many of the others looked really good. Surely I'd be able to dive in and knock off a bunch of them in short order. Right?

Yeah. Not so much. 

I started one and bailed. Then I read a couple of books that aren't on the list at all (what was I thinking?). I picked up one from the list that took me way too long to get through (I blame packing and moving for that), but I did finish it at last. Then I spent way too much time on Facebook. Then finally, last week, I knocked off one. Today, I started another, and I can tell I'll have that one done by the end of the week, no problem. But the books in the pile in the photo? I'll get to 'em. Just not by Saturday.

All of which is to say that if you, too, had good intentions to make headway on our list, but got sidetracked for some reason, don't feel bad. I'm right there with ya.

When you're toting up the books you've read, if you're pretty sure you'll finish the one you're working on by Saturday, go ahead and count it. You have my permission. I mean, I intend to do the same thing.

And if you're certain that you're not going to finish any more books by next weekend, that's okay, too. Go ahead and send me your tally now -- no shame, no blame. We've all had a rough year, after all.


If it's not clear from the foregoing: I'm accepting contest entries as of now. 

There are several ways to get your final tally to me: email me at; leave a comment below; or I'll even take your total in a comment on Twitter or in a Woo-Woo Team post on Facebook. (Those last two weren't in the official rules to start with, but they are now.)

One more time, here's the list. Send me your totals by Saturday! I'll post the winners (and my own total) here on the blog next Sunday. Thanks! 


A couple of housekeeping issues: The final episode of The Atherton Vampire dropped on Kindle Vella on Friday, so if you're the sort of person who puts off reading a book 'til it's finished, go for it. In addition, the first three episodes of The Atherton Vampire II: Out of the Coffin will be released tomorrow. Sales of the first book haven't exactly beensmokin' hot. So while I intend to write a third book in the series, it won't be released on Vella; instead, all three will be available in Kindle editions before the end of October. Stay tuned for more on that.

bejotrus | Deposit Photos
And I would be remiss if I didn't mention that this month marks the tenth bloggiversary of hearth/myth. Yes, that's right -- I published my first post in this space on August 16, 2011. "I'm going to aim for a post a week," I said back then. "Let's see how long it lasts." Well, now we know: ten years and counting. Good job, me! This calls for balloons, and maybe even a cake!

Should I shoot for fifteen years next? How about twenty? Let's just see how long it lasts!


These moments of celebratory blogginess have been brought to you, as a public service, by Lynne Cantwell. Submit your contest entries by Saturday, September 4th! And of course: Get vaxxed!


Sunday, August 22, 2021

In which our Summer Reading Challenge beats NPR.

The move went fine last weekend, thanks for asking. Even the dresser delivery guys were late in perfect proportion to how late we were running with the rest of the move.

Now, of course, comes the unpacking and whatnot. A lot of that "whatnot" seems to consist of buying furniture to replace all the built-ins I had at the other place, including dresser drawers and bookshelf space. In addition, I've had to buy some things that came with the old apartment, chiefly a mattress and box spring, as well as a table and chairs for the dining room. All the new stuff is either already here, or ordered and on the way, except for two things (and why do I get the feeling I'll be saying "I just need two more things" for the next several years?). Now I just have to wait for everything to get here.

In the meantime, summer's on the wane, and with it, our hearth/myth 2021 Summer Reading Challenge. We all have until Saturday, September 4th, to read another book (or books!) on the list. That's less than two weeks away, guys. 

Our list is pretty darned comprehensive, so I was feeling rather smug when I read an NPR article this week called, We Picked Our Favorite Sci-Fi and Fantasy Books 10 Years Ago. Here Are Some We Missed. Why smug, you ask? Because of the seven additions to their list, our list has four (and I've read all four of them -- go me!): Parable of the Sower by Octavia Butler; Dhalgren by Samuel R. Delany; The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell; and Grass by Sheri S. Tepper. Take that, NPR!

The remaining three they wish they'd included are: Foreigner by C.J. Cherryh; Magic's Pawn by Mercedes Lackey; and We by Yevgeny Zamyatin. I haven't read any of these, even though I've always heard great things about Cherryh and Lackey. (I've read some Lackey, just not any of the Valdemar books.) But I figure I have about two weeks to rectify my oversight, right? I started Foreigner the other day, and so far it's good. 

I'm also trying to figure out how my ridiculously well-read friends and I missed the Zamyatin altogether. And miss it, we did; it was published in 1924. Anyway, it's on my radar now. Hopefully someone will pick it up and let me know whether it's worth adding to the list for next year.

I won't keep you any longer, as I know we all have reading to do. I just wanted to make sure y'all remembered about the contest. Here's the link to the list and the rules again. Good luck!


These moments of reading-ready blogginess have been brought to you, as a public service, by Lynne Cantwell. Get vaxxed!

Sunday, August 15, 2021

A moving vacation.

 A reminder that I'm taking this week off because I'm moving into the condo. See you back here next week -- and in the meantime, don't forget about the summer reading challenge! It ends September 4th!

Sunday, August 8, 2021

Brace yourselves: it's another knitting and crafting post.

My apartment is in an uproar right now. The movers are coming in less than a week and I'm running out of places to put the boxes I've packed. So how about a knitting post?

The last time we chatted, it was in March and I was dressing up Flora. I've done a few other crafty things since then. Here we go.

First: I decided I needed to clean up the clutter on my desk. This desk has several drawers (and what's with the desks they make without drawers these days, anyway? Where are you supposed to put all your stuff?) but I had a bunch of little containers on my desktop, as well as two cups full of pens and scissors and things like that. The clutter was making me a teensy bit crazy. So I bought an unfinished box and decided to stain and varnish it, rather than paint it. I asked Mama Google about staining and she said you could use instant coffee. Well, I had some packets of instant Starbucks that were about to expire anyway, so that's what I used. It turned out okay. And now the top of my desk is a little bit less cluttered (although right now there's a pile of papers that need to be filed. Gonna do that tonight, I swears it.)

Lynne Cantwell 2021
I also decided to spin up some of the roving I've picked up here and there over the past few years. This stuff is Falkland wool and it came in a rolag, which is what you get when you put a bunch of dyed fiber on a blending board, mix it up, and roll it off into a tubular shape. These turned into lovely yarn. I have no earthly idea what I'll do with it -- it's not enough to make anything with. But it was fun.
Lynne Cantwell 2021
Less fun to spin is the silk top that my daughter Amy gave me a few years ago. Silk is more slippery than wool and it's been a challenge to keep it from breaking. I spun up part of it and put the rest aside. I might get back to it eventually. Or not.

Now, about the knitting. In the spring, I took a virtual class on brioche knitting from here in Santa Fe through fibre space in Alexandria, VA. I'd never done brioche before. It's, um, challenging. If you make a mistake, you're almost better off frogging the whole thing and starting over. There was one more issue: the cowl called for three coordinating colors of yarn. I had leftover yarn from another project and wanted to use it as one of the three colors, but that meant picking the other two while looking at photos of my options online. I was only kind of successful. But it's done, and now I have even more yarn left over, so I might eventually make a hat to go with the cowl.

Lynne Cantwell 2021
Next up: a pair of socks from this sock yarn I bought about a billion years ago and finally got tired of looking at in my stash. 
Lynne Cantwell 2021
The socks were sort of a palate cleanser after this next project. 

At one point this spring, I totally lost my mind and bought a shawl kit from an ad I saw on Facebook. The yarn was a nightmare to work with and some of the pattern directions were confusing, so I won't be doing that again. The result is stunning, though, so I guess all the cursing I did was worth it. I'm calling it my Sunrise shawl.

Lynne Cantwell 2021
If I have a Sunrise, then I need a Moon to go with it, right? As it happens, the Moon shawl is what I'm working on right now. I've included the cover of the instructions so you can see how it's supposed to look when it's done. 
Lynne Cantwell 2021
This pattern is a different nightmare. Like the Eden Prairie shawl, this designer is using a dark color to separate the sections of the shawl; unlike the Eden Prairie, which sensibly used garter stitch for everything, this pattern calls for knitting each section in stockinette with an I-cord bind-off, and then picking up stitches along the edge of the I-cord to start the next section. I'm currently about half done with binding off the 399 stitches of the third section. If you're not a knitter but that sounds like a lot of stitches, you're absolutely right. I have two more sections to knit, then an I-cord bindoff around the whole shawl, and I get to use duplicate stitch to make those cute little moon phases along the border. I keep thinking I'm making progress on this thing, and then I look ahead to the next section and despair. But eventually it will be done, I swears it. Just not before the movers come on Saturday.


Which reminds me: I'm going to take next week off from the blog due to the move. See you back here on the 22nd.


Which reminds me of something else: Our summer reading challenge is heading into the final few weeks. Check out the list and the prizes at the link, and good luck!


These moments of crafty blogginess have been brought to you, as a public service, by Lynne Cantwell. Get vaxxed!

Sunday, August 1, 2021

When the First Harvest includes the final straw.

 Blessed Lughnasa, everyone!

I've written about this cross-quarter day on the Pagan Wheel of the Year several times over the years. The Irish god Lugh decreed that this day would be observed in honor of his foster mother, Tailtiu, who died from exhaustion after plowing all of Ireland's fields for planting. But Lughnasa was never meant to be a solemn memorial; instead, Lugh ordered that it become a harvest festival, including many games. 

So here we are today, beginning the 17th month of coping with COVID-19. This was supposed to be the summer of reopenings. We were supposed to have beaten this thing back so that as long as you were vaccinated, your life could just about go back to normal. And then the Delta variant happened. 

I could blog about how the unvaccinated have ruined the summer for everyone else (in fact, I kind of did, about a month ago). But Lughnasa is a harvest festival, and as alert hearth/myth readers know, Pagans tend to be all about improving themselves. So could we be reaping, as individuals, at this First Harvest?

One day, a couple of months back, I found myself wanting to cry for no reason. Life was actually going fine for me at that point; I should have been relaxed and enjoying life, but instead I had this desire to, you know, sit down and have a good cry. So I started shopping for a new place to live. That's how I found the condo I'm moving into in a couple of weeks. But I recognized that house-hunting is a lousy long-term strategy for coping with the blues. I made a mental note to sit down with myself, once the dust cleared, and figure out what was going on.

Then a couple of days ago, I saw a thing on Facebook -- a tweet string from @gwensnyderphl, who I don't follow on Twitter -- and shared it. You can click here and read her tweets for yourself, but here's what she said in the first couple of tweets: "You just went through 1.5 years of a profound ongoing threat to your health/wellbeing/life, social isolation, aggressive disinformation, political turmoil, and financial uncertainty. OF COURSE you are not functioning at your peak. OF COURSE you are stressed out, burned out, unproductive, disconnected, anxious, depressed, exhausted, aching, and/or sad. YOU ARE TRAUMATIZED. This is what trauma does to the human mind, to the human body, to human relationships." And she went on to say that we shouldn't feel pressured into going back to normal, just like that: "Give yourself permission to not be okay."

That was my light bulb moment. Of course I felt like crying, as soon as I had a minute to catch my breath. The reaction I thought was weird and inexplicable was completely understandable. We've been through hell. We thought we were out of it, but now we're not. It's exhausting. 

Anyway, as I said, I shared the string of tweets, and immediately somebody piped up in the comments and said, basically, "Not everybody's exhausted. We're doing just fine here." 

I mean, there's one in every crowd, right? 

The thing is, trauma's impact -- on the body and on the psyche -- is cumulative. You may be the sort of person who can live through one horrible thing after another and weather it all okay, but then one day, you may have one more horrible thing happen and you snap. It might even be a tiny horrible thing, but it still becomes the straw that broke the camel's back.

You can keep pushing yourself, ignoring the burden you're carrying until you break -- until you die from exhaustion, as Tailtiu did. Or you can acknowledge the burden and cut yourself some slack, as Simone Biles did this past week at the Tokyo Olympics. She bumbled a vault and realized she was at a breaking point. So she has pulled out of the other events she was scheduled to compete in, except one (she's still undecided about the balance beam, which is coming up on Tuesday). She has taken a lot of heat for her decision, much of it from people who appear to believe she owes her country a bunch of gold medals, no matter what the effort costs her personally. But she's also had a lot of support, and it's coming from those of us who have also reached our breaking point this year.

Good for her for recognizing she needed to take care of herself first. If the rest of us could do the same, we'd have a very respectable First Harvest this year.


These moments of bloggy unburdening have been brought to you, as a public service, by Lynne Cantwell. Get vaxxed! And have a good cry whenever you think you need one.