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Thursday, August 15, 2019 - 01:45

Wednesday was all about moving from vacation mode to Worldcon mode. Breakfast in my room, working on various computer housekeeping things, then the hike down three floors of stairs with my luggage to check out. By pure coincidence, I got to the Hilton check-in desk just as my roommate arrived from the airport. As expected we couldn't get into the room yet, but after dumping luggage we went over to the convention center to register. I then spent entirely too much time and wandering between venues to get my transit pass for the second half of the week. (In theory, you can add time to the one-week pass, but to do that I'd have had to wait until it was actually expired, so instead I bought a second one-week pass.) I'm probably not getting my money's worth out of the unlimited ride pass, but it's worth it to know I can just hop on and off the tram and not worry about fares.

By then, the room was availble. In getting settled in, I missed the message from my dinner companions (fromankyra and her father) that they were quite ready for food in advance of our scheduled time, so by the time I had the message and joined them they were hanging in a pub with Sara Uckelman. After a bit, we adjourned for a pub with dinner options up by Trinity College (location for reasons that ended up being not relevant) and spent about three hours chatting about linguistics, multilingualism, living in countries not your own, academia, SCA, and all sorts of other things that subsets of us had in common. I distributed presents of the Produce of My Estates and received (as pre-arranged) a box of genuine Turkish lokum in return.

After I got back to the hotel I decided to hang out in the lobby lounge on general principles and was soon joined by Carl Cipra and a friend of his. With the prompt, "So I picked up this book I want to send you--have you ever heard of Anne Lister?" I was off in full geek mode and we chatted about queer history and the difficulties of research for quite some time.

And now here it is: Thursday and the start of the convention. My first panel (Dragons and Debutantes, about Regency fantasy). Since I have a full evening social schedule, don't expect another update until tomorrow. (Whatever "tomorrow" means in the negotiation of timezones between us.)

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Wednesday, August 14, 2019 - 02:17

Last time I was in Dublin, two years ago, I spent a very intensive day in the archaeology museum, taking lots of photos and careful notes on things of interest. This time I simply did a casual walk-through, enjoying the flow of the layout and organization. The individual item labels do well enough, and there are a small number of larger "context" explanations, but it would be great if they could do some mid-level interpretation. For example, when you have a display of textile tools, something the discusses overall use, how the different tools are used for different parts of the process, conjectural explanations of types of artifacts you'd expect as part of that process that are not among the finds for whatever reason. Another thing they do well is talk about the context of how, when, and where objects were found and the effects of prevaling attitudes toward historic artifacts (and toward history itself) on how the material was treated.

I never did bump into the other people I know who were planning to take in the archaeology museum yesterday, but given that it's an experience where you spend a lot of time in hyper-focus on only what's in front of you, that isn't entirely surprising.

The other item on my schedule was a trip up north of the city to Balbriggan for a pre-convention social gathering at Liz and Charlotte's house. A delightful evening with food, chatting, and comparing notes on sightseeing (and different attitudes towards what vacations were all about). It's a delightful house and now I can envision it when I see Liz posting things.

Today (Wednesday) is Transition Day. Time to leave the tiny hotel room in the Temple Bar district and move over to the Hilton Garden Inn near the convention center. Time to stand in line for an unknown period of time to register for the convention. Time to make sure I have notes gathered for my panel discussions. Time to make sure I've identified suitable excerpts for my readings. And the first of my set of Dinners With Internet Friends that have been filling up my calendar. I will proabably also endeavor to identify the congenial-to-me evening gathering place(s).

Worldcon is about to start in earnest!

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Tuesday, August 13, 2019 - 07:00

Although it's a motif that needs to be used sparingly, I enjoy the times when I can show the same event or interaction from different points of view. In Mother of Souls we see Serafina shopping for a small statue of Saint Mauriz to give Celeste as a parting gift. It's an expensive keepsake: more than Serafina can afford to spend and more valuable than anything else Celeste owns (though this aspect is only hinted at). From Serafina's viewpoint, we see her trading the pearl necklace she was given as a parting gift from a lover for the intricate carving that she gives in turn as a parting gift to her...student? Friend? Surrogate daughter? They're still working out what they mean to each other when Serafina feels she has no other options than to return to Rome. We see only the briefest glimpse of Celeste's response.

In Floodtide we are allowed to see that other side.

* * *

I’d thought to find Celeste lying in bed, so when I didn’t see her there I wondered if she’d slipped out during the morning while we were working. Then I heard a catch of breath and saw she was sitting on the floor up against the wall next to the erteskir where she kept her candles and charms.

She was holding something in her lap. I couldn’t quite make it out in the dim light until she set it gently on top of the erteskir and scrambled to her feet. It was a little carved statue of Saint Mauriz. A fancy one—the sort you might expect to see on a table at Tiporsel House. Maisetra Sovitre had a lovely statue of her name saint in her bedroom, along with a gilt crucifix and a Madonna painting.

“That’s beautiful!” I said, touching the base to turn it so I could see better. The saint was carved out of some sort of dark wood—darker even than Mefro Dominique’s skin—and his halo shone like it was real gold. I wondered where Celeste had gotten something that nice. The answer came when she threw her arms around me and wept.

“She’s gone. She’s gone to Rome and she’s never coming back.”

So I knew Maisetra Talarico had been here and given her the saint as a farewell present. I don’t think I’d ever seen Celeste cry before. I’d seen her mad or sad, but not like this. She’d dried enough of my tears over the last year, so I held her as tight as I could without saying anything. At last she moved a bit and we sat on the edge of the bed, side by side.

“Why did she have to go?” I asked.

“I don’t know.” There was still a little catch in Celeste’s voice. “It doesn’t matter. There’s nothing I could have done.”

I thought about putting my arm around her shoulders again and got a funny feeling in my stomach, but that moment had passed, so I pointed at the little statue on the table of the erteskir. “You’ll have that to remember her.”

She leaned over and picked the statue up and handed it to me. I was real careful, holding it only by the base. I could see the details now even though the lamps weren’t lit during the day. Ebony, I thought, because in Maisetra Iulien’s stories things were always carved from ebony. You could see the features of Saint Mauriz’s face and the tiny tight curls of his hair. Bits of it were painted, but his armor was laid over the wood in thin metal plates. I couldn’t guess whether it was tin or silver, but I decided it should be silver. And the halo was real gold—or at least silver-gilt, like in the stories. It was much too fine a thing for a dressmaker’s shop. It wasn’t the sort of gift you gave someone you were just friends with.

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Monday, August 12, 2019 - 13:17

Today was the only pre-booked tour on my schedule. Some friends were going on a bus toor to Tara and Newgrange and I took the opportunity to tag along. Tara is the sort of site where you need some deep background to understand what you're seeing. The tour guide did a great job of sketching in the background in the available time, but I suspect for many of the tour members it was simply a big hill with a bunch of bumps on it. The tour was enjoyable, but there was a certain sense of being processed through a tourism machine.

Newgrange stands more by itself in terms of impressiveness. As it stands today, with the exterior stonework revealed, you can still visualize how it lay concealed as an ordinary hill for most of its lifetime. There's still a sense of being efficiently ushered through An Experience, but when you file through the narrow passage into the tomb's interior, the physicality is still there in a way that Tara can't provide.

Although I took some closer pictures, I think I like this one best, looking across the Boyne with the mound of Newgrange at the top of the horizon.

Newgrange seen across the Boyne

In preparing this blog, I have become immensely frustrated with changes to how my Apple products are managing my photos. For some reason, I can't AirDrop photos from my phone to my laptop any more. It was working as expected two months ago. The iPhone has also changed the default format for saving images from jpeg to something more annoying and I had to do some research to find out what had happened and how to change it back. Although the movies claim to be saved in QuickTime, they then claim to be incompatible with QuickTime and I haven't yet found a way to play them. At the moment, the only way I seem to be able to move my photos onto my laptop as jpegs is to email them to myself. Painfully. In small batches that won't choke my server.

Presumably if I were willing to process all my images through the Photos app, this wouldn't be an issue. But I've had annoying problems with trying to extract them from Photos to do anything else with them. And I still remember Apple dropping support for iPhoto leaving all my carefully-organized albums and edited images lost in the ether. I've become very distrustful of leaning on Apple's operating systems to manage my media, but they're doing their best to make it hard to use anything else. I have no idea what their long-term strategy is, and if I knew, I probably wouldn't like it any better.


There ended up being six of us on the tour connected through the overlapping SCA-fandom-medievalist network. (Omitting names because some of them are selective about which identities they employ in social media.) After we got back to Dublin, we finished the day with dinner at Le Bon Crubeen where I again had an excellent lamb dish. I seem to have inadvertently started a Dublin Local Lamb Tour. There are worse ways to live. Two more days before the start of the convention proper and my social media is abuzz with people at airports. Time to store up my sleep now!

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Monday, August 12, 2019 - 07:00

I found this a rather frustrating article within the context of a collection supposedly focusing on women. Because it makes the women’s single status all about how they serve as “currency” in the male establishment of prowess and reputation. I mean, it’s a valid observation about chivalric literature, but I wish space had been given to an article that focused more on women. Goodness knows there are interesting things to be said about singlewomen in chivalric literature who have agency within their own stories.

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Full citation: 

Armstrong, Dorsey. 2003. “Gender, Marriage, and Knighthood: Single Ladies in Malory” in The Single Woman in Medieval and Early Modern England: Her Life and Representation, ed. by Laurel Amtower and Dorothea Kehler. Arizona Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies, Tempe. ISBN 0-06698-306-6

Publication summary: 

A collection of articles on the general topic of how single women are represented in history and literature in medieval and early modern England. Not all of the articles are clearly relevant to the LHMP but I have included all the contents.

Gender, Marriage and Knighthood

This paper begins by looking at the function of single men in chivalric literature as being free to pursue courtly love and service to all women only by not being bound to a specific woman. But the single woman--the one who requires rescuing because she has no man to act for her--is what makes the male character’s reputation possible. The paper discusses how their performance of gendered acts and relationships creates gender concepts in chivalric literature, relying on the contrast of “active man” and “passive woman.” This paper does not address singlewomen as independent actors, but as filling a role within the male/female social economy.

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Sunday, August 11, 2019 - 12:05

(This post is stitched together from various facebook postings throughout the day.)

My "rest day" was restful in the sense that I didn't have anything in particular I was committed to accomplishing. It started with an excellent night's sleep. (Maybe readers are bored with me talking about my sleep habits, but between my usual sleep issues and coming off jet lag, the topic is highly relevant to me.) 

Continuing my culinary tour of Dublin, I had a chance to read through the convention dining guide. Not a “complete list of nearby eateries” but more of a “foodies’ guide to Dublin.” Thanks to the recommendations, I had breakfast at Bewley’s, where I finally sampled the “traditional Irish breakfast” complete with black and white pudding, bacon (more like ham) and sausage, eggs, tomatoes and brown bread. Their version is quite delightful. (It didn't include the baked beans that seem to be a required element elsewhere, but I was ok with that.) Having passed the pastry display on the way in, I was tempted to add a scone or danish to the meal but it would have been too much. I'll go back some other time.

Bewley's has quite a history and is a gorgeous building. I particularly enjoyed my view of a large stained glass window based on a Jim Fitzpatrick design. (Since the linked website features a picture of said window, I won't add my own photo.) Fitzpatrick is one of the featured artists at Worldcon this year. When I was looking him up on Wikipedia to check something, I realized I hadn’t known he also created the famous image of Che Guevara that you see everywhere.

After that, I capitulated to curiosity and decided to check out the Dublinia Viking and medieval museum. Not being in a hurry, I did one of my favorite things in an old European city and simply aimed in the right direction and started wandering. One of the things I love about walking around cities like Dublin is soaking in the random and ad hoc nature of the city layout. The winding narrow lanes, unexpected stairs, archways that are portals to functions left behind. The way streets dodge around buildings and markets that have left their names and footprints while the city moved on. It’s never truly random, of course. Such cities have a logic and meaning woven through them that must be deciphered. While I love museums and guidebooks, one of my favorite activities while on tour is simply walking and wandering. (And, of course, I save up the memory for when I need to evoke this sort of layout and atmosphere in my historic writing.)

When I was here in Dublin two years ago, I took in the "serious" museums. (I spent an entire day in the National Museum of Archaeology.) But since one of my writing-related research interests is Viking-era Dublin, I thought it might be fun to see what they'd done. Dublinia is...quite good for what it is. Clearly aimed at the schoolchild level of interaction but not entirely oversimplified. Several re-enactors were presenting crafts and information. Obviously if you have to make a choice, go to the National Museum instead, but Dublinia was fun. I finished with the climb up the tower which gives a good view of the skyline, as well as the best view of the Viking house floor plan marker that's part of a trail of artifact markers around the Wood Quay excavation site.)

Outline of Viking house

After that, I thought about maybe checking out the "real" archaeology museum again, but at that point there were only a couple of hours left before it closed, so I took a leisurely random walk past Saint Patrick's cathedral (bells ringing!) then sufficiently in the direction of Saint Stephen's Green that I came out where I intended. Wandered through the park and then checked out the museum gift shop to see if they had anything intersting I hadn't bought last time. They still had some of the volumes from the Wood Quay excavation reports (though they said pretty much what was on display was all that was left--everything else was long out of print) and I picked up a couple that might be useful for deep background.

I dithered a bit over whether to find a place for an early dinner or take the books back to my room first. The decision was made when I was passing by the Millstone restaurant and glanced that their menu. I'd been looking for a plce to try some local lamb and they had a "lamb trio" entree that looked like it would hit the spot. Reader: it was delicious.

The food presentation was very much on the upscale side but the dishes deserved it every step of the way. The lamb trio was a mini rack (2 ribs), a bit of tenderloin, and a roll of lamb belly that had been slow-cooked to the dissolving point then crisped up. The other two items were cooked to order as pink. The plate was decorated with a mildly acidic mint sauce with a thick brown gravy served on the side. The nod to vegetables was a small mound of potatoes and what may have been carrot purée. Everything was delicious and all in different directions. I had a Bulmer's cider with it which, as I’ve noted before, is very light and on the dry side, making a good dinner accompaniment.

Having enjoyed the main course that much, I said yes to dessert. Cointreau creme brûlée with espresso. (I hope I don’t regret the caffeine but it isn’t even 6pm yet.) Again, delicious, with a nice sugar crust and you can clearly taste the Cointreau. Garnished with raspberry purée, half strawberries, and an unidentifiable orange object (mild, very slightly acidic, many tiny seeds--the leaves are attached but dried out while the fruit is fresh) which facebook commenters identified as a ground-cherry. (If we're friends on facebook, I have dinner pix there.)

And that brings us up to date. I'm just going to chill in my room for the rest of the evening. I contemplated taking advantage of my location in the middle of the pub-and-live-music quarter, but although going to a pub to listen to music with friends would be enjoyable, I'm less interested in doing it on my own in a crowd of strangers. (Dining alone is entirely different. I'm very good company for mysefl.) Tomorrow is Newgrange!

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Saturday, August 10, 2019 - 11:19

I’ve given up on the idea that I can plan where to eat breakfast. The lovely place I ate on Friday opens much later on weekends. The recommended bakery has yet to be open any time I drop by, despite it being within advertised hours. So my strategy will simply be to wander until I see a likely looking place that’s open.

I took the train that got me in to Waterford around noon, with the last return train leaving at 18:30. That was plenty of time to see the things I wanted to see, plus time to sit at the river’s edge with a sandwich when I didn’t want to walk any more.

I went to three museums: the Viking museum in Reginald’s Tower, the medieval museum, and the Bishop’s Palace museum which was primarily Georgian and later material, including a focus on the crystal industry. 

Overall the displays include a wealth of surviving legal documents illustrating historic themes (including a medieval legal compilation that includes a large number of illustrated figures I’ve never seen reproduced in works on Irish costume history). The number of other material artifacts is small, though representative. The interpretation is good. And they have a fondness for dioramas of the town at various points in history.

Overall, while they did good work at presenting Waterford, it was a little disappointing in terms of new types of material for the relevant eras. And no good finds in the museum bookstore, alas. There was a large glossy catalog covering pretty much all the significant artifacts, but see previous comment.

The most impressive experience was the guided tour of the Bishop’s Palace, presented by an in-character docent portraying a member of the Penrose family that founded the crystal factory. (The in-character story was that she was the housekeeper giving tours to visitors, a la Elizabeth Bennett’s experience at Pemberley.) The guide was excellent and the presentation helped make it more than a bare recital of catalog entries. The tour ended with a multimedia 3D video presentation on the history of the Penrose family and factory which was excellent enough to make up for my difficulty in processing 3D movies.

Also: lots of lovely countryside views on the train there and back. The trip back (in progress) is fairly empty, but on the trip down I shared a seating group with six older women going on overnight holiday who shared their chocolate bar with me and offered me a sociolinguist’s delight of conversational scripts. (They were doing that thing where any contribution is then followed by an echoing chorus of stock responses appropriate to the topic.)

I don’t have any specific plans for tomorrow and think I’ll take it easy, especially since Monday will be more touristing.

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Saturday, August 10, 2019 - 07:00

Lesbian Historic Motif Podcast - Episode 37b - Interview with Penny Mickelbury - transcript pending

(Originally aired 2019/08/10 - listen here)

Show Notes

Interview with Penny Mickelbury

The Lesbian Historic Motif Podcast - Episode 37b with Heather Rose Jones

A series of interviews with authors of historically-based fiction featuring queer women.

In this episode we talk about:

Links to Penny Mickelbury Online

If you enjoy this podcast and others at The Lesbian Talk Show, please consider supporting the show through Patreon:

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Friday, August 9, 2019 - 14:52

By some miracle, I got a full night's sleep Thursday night (that is, a full night plus going to bed around 7pm), briefly interrupted by a very resonant rainstorm in the wee hours. But the placement of my room means I get no street noise, which is nice.

I went off for breakfast at a place that Yelp indicated was promising only to find that it didn't exist any more. So I wandered the streets until I found a cafe that offered scones and a place to sit with a nice view. I may go back there again. I didn't feel like I had enough time to do serious sight-seeing before taking the train south for the wedding (Liz Bourke and Charlotte Cuffe) so I spent some time in my room sorting out my Worldcon schedule (that is, the programming I want to see, as opposed to the items I'm on). Did some podcast editing. Then wandered off and found the light rail station which did a very good job of hiding itself on a side street.

The wedding was lovely and congenial. The ceremony was at the Maritime Museum in Dun Laoghaire which is a converted church (all the ambience with none of the religious restrictions), then we all took the train several more stops to the hotel where the reception was. I was one of maybe a dozen SFF-related guests and we had fun explaining why the event got so many international guests.

Tired now, and looking up the train schedule on the assumption I'm going to do my day-trip to Waterford tomorrow. I don't have a specific itinerary yet, but the train trip is a couple hours and has wifi so I can sort things out on the way. And since I've scaled down my estimate of how much walking I'm interested in doing, it looks like catching the 10:15 train is more reasonable than trying for the 7:30 one.

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Thursday, August 8, 2019 - 08:44

Despite all my self-deprecating mentions of getting to airports entirely too early for Significant Trips, I didn't actually spend that much time hanging out twiddling my thumbs. After check-in and security, I had an early dinner--or rather a late and substantial lunch. I figured they'd feed us something dinner-like on the plane but didn't want to count on it too heavily. (They did, but it was fairly light.) Then I really only had half an hour or so of wandering around the gate before they started boarding. Bumped into Ellen Klages and Madeleine Robbins, who happened to be on the same flight, and chatted briefly until boarding started.

The plane was only about half full, so no problems with elbow room or people wanting to climb over you just as you were trying to sleep. With the help of sleeping pills and a good supportive pillow, I did manage to get about half a night's sleep. Arrived in Dublin around 11am local time and made it to my hotel by around 1pm. Checkin starts at 3pm, alas.

I dropped my suitcase at the hotel desk to hold until check-in time and then spent a couple hours grabbing a bite to eat sitting by the river and then orienting myself to some part of the transit system. I've bought an unlimited transit pass which means I don't have to worry about details of fare--only about which system and which line get me where I want to go. I downloaded a couple of transit apps for my phone, but they seem to be oriented towards people who already know which bus line they're taking. The tram lines are a lot simpler, with one running east-west and the other north-south. Tomorrow I get to sort out the DART train (commuter train for more outlying routes). I took the tram out to the convention center and the other venue for Worldcon overflow events, then walked back from there to the hotel I'll be staying in for the convention proper. The distances between things are close enough that one can walk between them, but just far enough that it isn't entirely unreasonable to take the tram either. My plan is to aim for as much walking as I can manage to make up for the lovely food.

Despite the weather app showing rain today (and for the next week), it's been warm and sunny so far. (The weather app had convinced me to make the one coat I packed a raincoat. If that act has resulted in fair weather, you may thank me.)

Got back to the hotel and checked in and was grateful for being forewarned that it's a walk-up. This is why I bought a convertable rollaway-backpack. The place used to be a hostel and has evidently only recently been converted to more hotel-like service and acommodations. The decor is...interesting. (The wall behind the bed is covered with deeply tufted cherry-red velvet upholstery. A sort of Victorian bordello look. I will post pictures on facebook.) I have a "single" which is barely bigger than the twin bed, but has en suite facilities. A shower has made me feel more human, but it's going to be a struggle to stay up long enough to reset my internal clock properly. I have deployed the coffee maker in my room to address this issue.

I also have yet to see what effect being located in the Temple Bar area has on nighttime noise levels. (My impression is that it's basically the zone for "tourists who want the full Irish drinking and music experience.") My room doesn't have a window to the street, just a couple of skylights, which may aid in noise buffering. I picked this place in part for the price, but also in part for the "middle of Dublin" experience. So I'm open to the experience. I put out one feeler for a dinner meet-up (generally, not specifically for today), but since I'll need to make an early night of it, I'm not trying very hard for tonight, but hope to find company for most dinners. There's enough of a sprinkling of early arrivers that it's a good exercise in my socializing skills.

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