2. I spent my Christmas semi-camping in a valley in Wanganui. The weather was ungodly hot which was nice for three days (but couldn't have stood it much longer). It was in a funny place with two so-called cabins, one of which was really pretty nice where my parents stayed and one of which was basically a garden shed where my brother and sister and I slept (in sleeping bags on skanky mattresses on a rather dusty floor ... but mustn't grumble, and much better than tents, truly). There was a cooking area with running (but not hot) water and a solar shower which was totally exposed to the elements - which was actually sort of fun since it was just family there (and the shower was way off round the side so it's not like people were coming past all the time or anything). There was a sort of lake which you could kayak on but not swim in (I daresay swimming wouldn't have killed you, but it was kinda brown and mucky) - somewhere to swim would have improved the ambiance immensely, I must say. Anyway, for a few days it was quite fun and I didn't murder anyone and only had one everyone-crying miserable fight with my mother, which is pretty good for us. We all read a lot and played a bunch of cards (completely shockingly considering my family, we're actually pretty good at not fighting over cards).
We did have a little bit of excitement. On Christmas day the running water stopped running. It later transpired that the line that ran to fill the tank had had a break in it and so we'd run down the tank and it hadn't got refilled. This was a bit of a test for everyone as it involved rather a lot of water conservation (the shower was still running and we used this to fill a lot of water bottles, the kettle, etc. And flushed the loo with lake water).
Then on the day we were supposed to leave, we packed everything up, and Dad took Mum and Helen (staying with us, had her own car) up to Helen's car. Now the valley we were staying in was reachable only by a narrow and rather slippy dirt road, which was fine when we came down because it had been dry. However, when Dad had gotten up there it began to BUCKET down, and H and F and I were all still in the valley with our stuff. We hung out and played cards for awhile - I got crushed at P&A, a game I used to be unbeatable at :( - until the guy who runs the cabins came roaring down on a quad bike and picked us and our stuff up (took two goes). This journey was sliiightly terrifying, sitting on the back of a quad bike (having just read that health and safety report that went on about how dangerous they are) clinging onto my stuff AND the bike and fairly ROARING up some steep and muddy hills in a pine forest - not on the track, because that would have been too slippery. When it was over it was quite fun, but fairly scary doing it.
3. I stocked up my Kindle intensely in preparation, but ended up mostly binge-re-reading Chrestomanci books. I did read Shades of Milk and Honey and Glamour in Glass by Mary Robinette Kowal. These are professionally published Austen fanfic with the serial numbers filed off in a with-magic AU. (NB: I'm not sure whether they were ever published as fanfiction, but I would assume so after this series of tweets:
@morganhopes so I read that Mary Robinette Kowal and loved it, but am I crazy or did it definitely start out as P&P fanfic?— tui (@tui_talk) December 27, 2012
The magic is called "glamour" and is confined to various visual, auditory and olfactory illusions (they can also do hot and cold, but it's implied that these are very difficult and take a lot of energy). It's also considered to be mostly a female art. I found them quite delightful although I should add that they don't have the depth of Austen in terms of the social satire or wit. Good fun as romances though. (And "not as good as Austen" is rather praising with faint damns, if you see what I mean.)
4. I'm also working my way through The Game by Ken Dryden, which is a memoir about the author's last season in the NHL - he was the starting goalie for the Habs in an era where they won a BUNCH of Stanley Cups, and he retired at 31 when he was still an extremely good goalie (which although I don't have a real great sense of it I think is pretty unusual for hockey players generally). I'm struggling to remember if I've ever read a non-fiction book about sports before and I'm pretty sure I haven't. Anyway, it gives a whole lot of really interesting and entertaining information as well as being an interesting portrait of the dude himself and is pretty well-written on the whole (I'm having a bit of trouble with the way the tenses are structured, but I think this might be a formatting issue - I bought the Kindle version and I think possibly some paragraphs that should be indented or set aside aren't).
5. Other stuff I'm reading: The Virgin Suicides by Jeffrey Eugenides (nowhere near as captivating as Middlesex) and Mr Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan (just started it, no opinion yet).
6. I was going to talk briefly about food but this post feels long already. What are you reading? How was your Christmas or other holiday? Isn't not having to go to work blissful, those of you who are on holiday still?