coraa: (at tara in this fateful hour)
I have a head cold. (I blame PAX.) It's one of those things that I can't really complain about, because it's not a big deal in the grand scheme, but in the short term it is making me uncomfortable and also temporarily very stupid.

In the meantime, I have been cheering myself up with Igor Shpilenok's Russian nature photography from the Kronotsky reserve. It's all gorgeous, but I'm particularly fond of his photographs of a fox he calls Alisa, who is familiar enough with him to allow him to photograph her close up.

All of the pictures make me happy!

Fox on the prowl.

Chanterelle mushrooms, aka "little foxes", plus one actual little fox eating billberries.

Fox in a summer meadow.

Fox hunting ground squirrels. (Note that, while there is no blood or gore, there is a shot of a fox with a dead ground squirrel, so you can skip that if you'll find it upsetting.)

No foxes, but a most lovely twilight.

No foxes, but a salmon run and a happy bear.

No foxes, but fog and sunny not-sunflowers.

Fox, lake, and mountain.
coraa: (princess tia)
This is my fourth (fourth!) trip to Horse Camp, and it's my first experience of a real desert thunderstorm.

First we had the dust storm that precedes the thunderstorm; strong winds that blew suddenly cold out of a warm afternoon. Then we saw the big clouds rolling in, deep greys and blues and purples:

From Horse Camp, October 2010


And the roll of thunder that came louder and louder and closer and closer.

Between the clouds, long shafts of pale light, bright as benedictions:

From Horse Camp, October 2010


And off in the distance, the pattern of light and shadow on the mountains making a path of light:

From Horse Camp, October 2010


And now, the rain has started—blowing almost sideways—and the air is full of the smell of a storm.

EDIT: The wind and rain set the horses dancing, which I saw from the window. I'm staying inside where it's dry (I may be getting photographed later, and I want my hair to stay non-ratty), so no pictures, but I did get a great view of Tia's impressive airtime.
coraa: (changeling)
Saturday I overslept a bit, and made it a little late to the first session of the day: Female Friendships in Fantasy. After that I went to the Faerie DNA panel, which I didn't take good enough notes on to post as such, but I'll recount what I can remember under the cut ) I then attended a Q/A session with a publisher at Random House, Mallory Loehr, that was fascinating and full of good information (unfortunately I did not get notes on that either).

The lunch keynote for Saturday was by Terri Windling: she called it her "why fairy tales are important" speech, and it was very interesting, especially as someone with an interest in the evolution of folklore. We explored the history of Red Riding Hood, which began as a coming-of-age story in which the girl (with help from older women) defeats the wolf by her own cleverness and skills... and eventually became a cautionary tale about vanity and interest in men, in which the girl must be rescued. She also talked about a very creepy earlier version of Snow White, in which the prince took a while to wake the princess, and, uh, there was some... implications of their relationship while she was comatose—and how that became the much tamer version we known now. She also talked about the way that fairy tales came to be considered children's stories, when they did not begin that way at all.

After lunch, I attended the Golden Age of YA panel, had a relaxing afternoon, went to an early dinner, and then got dressed for the A Star Shall Fall launch party and the Faerie Ball.

For this part, I need pictures, so: under the cut!

The 'A Star Shall Fall' Launch Party )

After the launch party, we made our way to the faerie ball for more chatter and dancing.

At the faerie ball we were given glowsticks to give it that appropriately sparkly demeanor. There was a murder mystery plot (I didn't take part in it, but it sounded like a lot of fun), and lots of chatting, storytelling in the lobby, and dancing, dancing, dancing. I loved the ball from last year, and it was even better this year: a wide variety of people took part in the dancing, from those who could dance with great grace or passion or both to... uh, me, whose idea of dancing is to flail in an uncoordinated yet joyful manner. I am very often too embarrassed by my dancing to do it in public, even though it makes me happy, because of the 'uncoordinated' bit, but Sirens is one of those places where I feel pretty confident that everyone will appreciate the 'joyful' more than they will mind the 'uncoordinated flailing,' so I danced until I was soaked with sweat, and had a great time.

I also took pictures: people wore everything from jeans to elaborate faerie costumes, and the combination was enough to make the ball seem like actually a pretty darn magical place.

Faerie Ball )

The next day, we got up for the farewell auction and breakfast, where I won the handpainted version of the con symbol for the year (a girl reading a book with a faerie rising up behind her). It will be mailed to me. Squee!

They also announced the theme for next year, about which I am very, very excited: Monsters. Literal monsters, the monstrous, monstrous women (literally and figuratively), and the way that women have been imagined as monsters—for good and for ill. I already have several ideas for panels. And the guest lineup is pretty fantastic: Justine Larbalestier, Nnedi Okorafor, and Laini Taylor.

Anyway, after breakfast and many goodbyes, my traveling companions and I packed up and hit the road for Horse Camp, about which more later!
coraa: (inspiration)
Last Wednesday, we got up at a leisurely hour and drove on to the petroglyphs at Sego Canyon, near Thompson Springs.

First, though, we drove through Thompson Springs. Thompson Springs is sort of a ghost town: it still has some current residents (distinguishable by their houses, which have intact windows and have not fallen down), but their residences are sprinkled in amidst dilapidated and falling-down houses from a variety of periods. I believe the history is that the town was originally a coal mining town, and had a series of revivals and then collapses: the coal mining ended, but the local highway remained; then the local highway was replaced by I-70 some miles away, but the Amtrak station remained; then the Amtrak station closed, and the town faded almost entirely—except for a handful of residents who continue to hang on, and a gas station nearer I-70. There was an old brick motel, with doors standing dark and open; the weathered railroad station, its white-painted paneling going gray from the bottom up; the old schoolhouse leaning over but not, quite, toppling. The house with sunbleached cattle pelvises hanging from the chainlink fence appeared to be inhabited still, though.

From there we drove on a bit to the petroglyphs. For which I have pictures!

Petroglyphs--image heavy )

From there, it was an easy drive the rest of the way to Vail. As we drove higher and higher, the brush gave way to pine and aspen. The aspen was in mid-turn: many of the trees already bare, some still green, and some a truly gorgeous deep gold. The landscape around the hotel was—as with last year—really gorgeous. Actually, here, have some pictures!

The view from our balcony )

Wednesday evening we had the Sirens Supper, the supper for the Sirens staff and anyone who wants to come a day early and attend. We discussed the books that had changed our lives, which lead into great conversations on such diverse topics as Cimmorene, archaeology, the influence of books you read at a very young age, and things that happen in real life that you'd never believe in fiction. It was a lovely way to start the conference.

The next day there was nothing really going on until evening, so I spent the day reading and writing (always a good thing). Then there was the official start of the conference: the dessert reception and the first Guest of Honor keynote, in which Holly Black talked about growing up in a creepy old Victorian house with a mother who, e.g., warned her not to astral project lest something else get inside her body while she was 'gone;' living in Jersey and how that inspired her to begin her Modern Faerie Tale series; urban legends and how they come about; and a hilarious retelling the fairy tale "The White Cat," on which her newest series is based.

The next day was the start of programming, but I'll save that for tomorrow.
coraa: (history - very few dates)
So, recapping!

Last Sunday (wow, it's already been over a week), I got on a plane and flew to LA, where [livejournal.com profile] rachelmanija picked me up at the airport and we got fantastic chicken with garlic sauce from Zankou. (Seriously, super delicious. I really wish I could figure out how they made that garlic sauce!) I also introduced her to the cracktastic addictive joy that is The Sims 3. The next day we picked up [livejournal.com profile] sartorias and headed for Colorado!

The first day, we headed northeast across Southern California and through Nevada. (I didn't take many landscape pictures, more's the pity, so I'm going to take advantage of other peoples' flickr shots to illustrate.) On the way toward Las Vegas I admired the weirdness that is the Joshua tree, and the general stark bareness of the landscape. We passed through Las Vegas and continued northeast, clipping the corner of Arizona and finally stopping in St. George, Utah. (On the way we drove through a truly impressive thunderstorm. And by 'through' I mean 'straight through;' the lightning was striking on all sides, long jagged branches of light, and clouds so dark that the intermittent flashes could blind, strong winds and thunder enough to make the car shudder, rain that didn't so much fall as slash downward. It was truly impressive.)

The next day we hit the road again, and spent most of the day (well, all day, really) crossing Utah. We saw sage-green plants growing in dirt red as rust, and steep striated hillsides, incredible patterns of light and shadow, fingers of stone and hilltop cliffs that looked like fortress walls.

We stopped at Cove Fort, which was a waystation for those traveling the Mormon Corridor in the mid to late 1800s. It was built as a defensive fort because it was established during the Black Hawk War, but no shots were ever fired at the fort (save one accident in which a little boy shot his brother in the knee) and things sound like they were pretty peaceful. The fort was a stop for a couple of stagecoach lines (including rooms to let), a Pony Express stop, and a telegraph station. It was run by one man and his family.

We stopped and took the tour, given by a nice LDS guide who was very sweet and not pushy and, as Rachel put it, had the ability to make pretty much anything into a parable involving Jesus. (I didn't notice, because he was actually a lot less heavy-handed about it than the people I grew up with, but there you go.) The fort was really interesting from a historical point of view: fully restored, and with many of the original furnishings. (I was particularly interested because material culture is one of my verymost favorite elements of history.) I did get pictures there, so, under the cut!

Cove Fort--image-heavy )

Then we drove a bit farther and decided to call it a night early, so we'd be fresh and awake and have good daylight for the petroglyphs the next morning. We stopped in Green River, at a hotel with an absolutely lovely river view.

Just one more picture )

Aside from the beautiful landscape and the chance to stop and see some really interesting historical things, the trip was a great joy because of the company. We talked about all kinds of things, from sense of place in fantasy literature to sexual orientation among pioneer women, from the difference between a critique and a review to the way historical fiction sets up a dialogue between modern mores and historical ones.

The next day: petroglyphs, and arrival in Vail!
coraa: (history)
My post yesterday was just my own small, six-year-old view of the Berlin Wall. Today I link you to The Big Picture's photograph retrospective.

The most impressive pictures, to me, are the set that you click on for a comparison -- the same shot, 1989 and 1999.

But many of the shots are lovely for their own sake, even if you aren't as taken with the history as I am.

EDIT: Original link didn't work; has now been fixed.

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