June 4th, 2006

peas

Farmers' market

I almost don't want to write about this, because I want to keep the cultural appropriation posts up near the top of my LJ.

But I'll post on that later.

Anyhow, I went to the farmers' market, and after a weekend away at WisCon, I returned to find that there were no more sugar snap peas, that the cherries have now come out full force (Tulane and Bing, mostly), and that.... peaches and pluots and nectarines, oh my!

There were only a handful before I left, and now they're everywhere! I only got a few, because I suspect the ones next week will be better, but still... I have pluots! Little purple ones, not the dinosaur ones that I love or other types like Flavor King and Flavor Queen, but still! I also have white peaches, and the guy says that white nectarines are coming next week!

I also have three baskets of blueberries, half a pound of fat, ripe Bing cherries, and, of course, a ton of English peas, sweet and fresh and crisp.

No vegetables (besides peas) for me this week, largely because all the things I bought before WisCon are still in the fridge, awaiting cookery. I think I'll finally attempt potato-leek soup if I have time today.

ETA: I think, for the first time in history, I may have bought too many peas. The mound awaiting shelling is slightly intimidating, although I doubt I'll think so when I have more peas to eat for tomorrow!
teru teru

Letter to people reading this LJ

Hi everyone!

Hi especially to those of you who just got here! And, of course, hi to everyone who is reading, and thank you for reading!

I suspect most people here are probably aware that the cultural appropriation debate now ranges far and wide (a good round-up, for those curious).

I'd like to note that I'm probably going to be posting even more on race and culture and ethnicity in the future, more so than I was before. I was going to apologize if this made anyone uncomfortable, but I think it's an uncomfortable topic and attempting to make it one isn't something I can really do. Also, heck, I feel uncomfortable talking about it, particularly in front of an audience, but I feel it's important, and I'd like to keep talking.

It's not like I haven't posted about this in the past, particularly with regard to Asian-inspired/-influenced SF and fantasy, but there's going to be even more of it now! I feel it may have been somewhat deceptive to not post about it in the past even more, just because this topic is near and dear to my heart and because it affects nearly everything I think every day. So, there will still be book posts and rat posts and knitting posts and food posts! But there will also be more book-and-race, rats-and-race (rat race? Hee!), knitting-and-race, and food-and-race posts as well. And many of these posts will very likely be uncomfortable in nature.

I'm noting this and screening comments so that anyone can defriend me if they like (naturally, anyone can defriend me whenever!! But I figured I'd like to put it out since it's such a touchy topic), and I won't be offended. I will, of course, be sorry to see you go, but I say that not to put pressure on you to not go, but to say that even if you do, I've valued being read and being responded to, and I'd like to express that.

- Oyce
mmm books

Novik, Naomi - Throne of Jade

This is the second book in a series that started with Temeraire/His Majesty's Dragon.

After the Chinese discover that their gift to Napoleon has been taken by the British, they send an embassy to London demanding the return of Temeraire and the separation of Temeraire and Laurence. I loved the first book of the series because of the interaction between Temeraire and Laurence, the sound of the prose and the dialogue, and the descriptions of dragon training. I like this book for the first two, but the third aspect is missing.

Temeraire and Laurence eventually end up on a ship returning to China with Prince Yongxing's embassy; over half the book happens on the ship. While it's not boring, per se, it didn't exactly catch my interest, particularly since most of the events were on the tensions between the Aerial Corps, the Navy and the Chinese embassy. I don't think it's because Novik wrote it badly, it's just that the perpetual tension and the perpetual bad behavior of many of the people started to get a little long.

Also, I read this while on an airplane that was delayed for five hours, so I may have just been in a bad mood and uninclined to be nice to the book.

Thankfully, while the Chinese embassy is set up as the enemy Laurence and Temeraire must face down, Novik does a good job of showing that there are two sides to the issue. When the ship's crew and the Aerial Corps (all British) react to the Chinese capture of a British ship, the anger is understandable, particularly given the times. But Novik doesn't let it remain one-sided, allowing Yongxing at one point to talk about the anger the Chinese feel about being forced to trade with the British, particularly for opium.

Also, Li Po is a dragon! That alone is enough to warrant a ton of squee! And! Temeraire can speak Chinese!

I think the problem with most of the ship stuff was that it wasn't about dragons.

Novik also raises questions with how the obviously intelligent dragons are treated in England.

Anyhow, things got much, much, much more interesting when things got to China, particularly in the contrast with how dragons were treated. Also, I love the fact that all the dragon names make sense in Chinese and follow a pattern (I think).

I nitpicked a little, but really, it was mostly on the preserved eggs and how I wasn't sure if they were green or black, and that's nitpicky even for me!

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ETA: Also, before I forget, I had a nitpick about the first book, which was that all the illustration of the Chinese dragons had them having five toes, but that is because I habitually count the toes of dragons after hearing some myth or something about only the dragons for the emperor having five toes. I seriously doubt everyone else counts dragon toes, though!

And! The entire dragon society of China was awesome! Awesome!

And! I love love love love how China is very much the Qing Dynasty China of the early 1800s; you can tell that the Opium Wars are brewing and that there's been depreciation of silver going on and you can tell the entire imbalance of trade with the rest of Europe. It's not the hand-wavy feudal Asian setting, it's so specifically grounded, down to the details of the clothes. I don't actually know that much about Qing Dynasty stuff, except that most of the TV dramas I'd watch in Taiwan were set there, so I know what the clothes look like, haha. But... so cool! And the summer palace, and the courtyards, and everything. There was such a wonderfully strong sense of place.

Also, Chinese New Year on the ship was very cool, and they ate jellyfish! Obviously, I have absolutely no clue what Qing Dynasty people ate for New Year, but it sounds close enough.

Links:
- tenemet's review