bedlamsbard: star wars rebels: hera peering around a corner (cairo (girlyb_icons))
[personal profile] bedlamsbard
I was out hiking around Vantage and Frenchman Coulee yesterday with my geology class, which was made of win; I haven't been out that way for a couple of years and I can't actually remember if I've ever been to Frenchman Coulee, which means I probably haven't. It's fairly well-known for rock climbing -- googling gets me some pretty cool pictures here, but the view is just fantastic. Washington's absolutely gorgeous sometimes, especially eastern Washington -- we're very geologically active, and have been in the past, too, and a lot of the land east of the Cascades has been shaped by the Great Missoula Floods. It's very stark and very impressive. It is also, not particularly coincidentally, my mental setting for the High Reaches in Narnia.

Which got me thinking. My Narnian geography is very, very (west coast) American; I don't know how much it reads that way, but it actually is deliberate. Part of this is because I actually have been out hiking and camping around the Pacific Northwest (granted, not recently), so I know how to describe a largely coniferous forest up in the Cascades, I know how to describe rolling semi-arid hills and stark geography, I know how to describe a volcanic mountain range covered in forests, I know how to describe farmland that primarily grows hay and some corn, I know how to describe land used for cattle and horse ranching, because that's what I see every day and that's what I've grown up with. I may have been to western Europe, but I don't know it enough to describe it, and I definitely don't know the geography well enough to use it as setting or basis-for-setting. Which isn't what Lewis did, and is probably not what most Narnia writers do, aside from those who actually are, you know, English or European. I have to admit that the geography in the books doesn't particularly stand out to me, if it's described at all; I do use the movies for some basis, but most of what I see in there can be easily translated and doesn't read as specifically English/European geography (which makes sense, because it's, you know, New Zealand, but I am even less familiar with New Zealand than I am with England). I've never been called on it; I don't know how obvious it actually is, and I'm not sure it matters.

I did the same thing with Dust-era Cair Paravel, to a slightly different extent; a few people commented on the last chapter of Dust on how very New Orleans Cair Paravel was. I don't think I've gotten that comment before, despite the fact that Cair Paravel has been based on New Orleans from its very first appearance, and it may have something to do with the content advisory note on the chapter ("Includes imagery of flood aftermath in a major urban area"). I mentioned in a reply to a comment that:
Dust-era Cair Paravel is heavily New Orleans-influenced; I started working on Dust right after I'd moved to New Orleans for university. New Orleans is so unusual compared to a lot of cities in the U.S. (especially my hometown!) that I really liked the idea of incorporating elements of New Orleans into Cair Paravel, instead of having Cair Paravel be a more generic western European city. Plus, New Orleans is actually the only city I've ever lived in, so anything else really would have been "generic city"! (Random trivia: some of the neigborhoods in Cair Paravel share names with New Orleans neighborhoods (the Garden District and the Black Pearl), while others are inspired by New Orleans neighborhoods (the North Bank, the Mare's Quarter). "Neutral ground" is, to the best of my knowledge, a term only used in New Orleans for what's elsewhere called a median strip.)

I have sat down and thought, a few times, at how very American my Narnia (especially my Dust-era Narnia) is compared to what Lewis imagined and wrote, and also sat and wondered if it bothered me or if it bothered anyone else. I finally decided that no, it didn't bother me; Narnia is a constructed fantasy world and there's no specific reason that it has to be English/European in origin or social order, aside from the fact that it was created by a British author, especially when it comes down to geography. The same thing holds true for specific quirks of speech/dialect; I am not English, I can't write English characters the way an English writer can, and I made the specific decision fairly early on not to worry as much about whether or not the Narnian characters sounded sufficiently English or period, although I do care more about characters like the Pevensies, Eustace, and Jill. (More about Eustace and Jill than the Pevensies, since the Pevensies are likely to have taken up a more Narnian style of speech.) I have been called on anachronistic speech, I don't think I've been called on Americanisms? Although if I'm worried about something, I will have it britpicked. And I've never specifically sat down to create a Narnian dialect, or tried to make it sound specifically American/Southern/PNW/etc (which I think would really throw people out of the story! There is a reason that Elizar Confesor does not talk with a "y'at" accent. Also because I cannot write one). I do try to make it sound more British than American, but it's not something I stress about.

*Watsonian vs. Doylist, for those that haven't heard the phrase before.

*

I have also been thinking about domestic fantasy, which is sort of a rare subgenre in the fantasy world, and may not actually be an "official" subgenre the way high fantasy, urban fantasy, or swords and sorcery are, since I'm not entirely certain I've actually heard about it outside of my own head. Which -- doesn't seem unlikely, actually, because my mental picture of domestic fantasy is something that's very heavily based in the world, in the home, in small, discreet magics rather than grand, flashy ones, and -- need I say it? -- very female-oriented. The only published fantasy that I can think of that meets that description is in some of Robin McKinley's books -- my beloved Spindle's End being one of them, Chalice another. I would probably even count Sunshine in, because the main character is so heavily involved in baking. (Actually, I think the only RM books that don't fit this description are The Blue Sword and The Hero and the Crown, though I haven't read The Outlaws of Sherwood, so I can't speak towards that.) All of RM's books tend to have grand magics at the end, but they're still fired by those small, domestic magics, and largely occur almost as an afterthought. I can't think of another author who does something similar. (Maybe some of Diana Wynne Jones's books? But those are less concerned with the home, generally.)

I've been thinking of writing an original short story for a while now that is domestic-y; the main character is a baker, and her magic is tied up in baking. (Also there is world-building where yeast is very important; an unmarried woman who works with yeast is something of a social outcaste, since yeast is traditionally associated with fertility and pregnancy. In this world, the majority of bakers are either married women with children underfoot or women who have passed the age of menopause and cannot have children. The main character is an unmarried woman without children, and doesn't work with yeast. See what reading a lot of cookbooks for fun gets you?)

Thinking of this because a lot of my pleasure reading lately has been cookbooks and food history, and I knit a lot, so I think of that, and I just picked up a couple of books on country traditions from the university library.

*

Kitten cuddling kittens! Puppies cuddling puppies! Kittens and puppies cuddling! Lots of animals cuddling!

*

Work proceeds on Traveling Woman; I am halfway through the last chart.

*

My Latin prof thinks I am a fast translator! *preens* I think, at least in this early stage, that this is one of the few cases where being really really good at English is actually helping, because I'm used to taking words and phrases that are jumbled together and then rearranging them in a coherent, meaningful order, which with the Latin-to-English translations in the first few chapters of Wheelock, is basically what we've been doing. Later this will doubtless no longer be as true, but at least the fact that word order doesn't matter isn't confusing me as much as it is some people in the class.

*

My cousin is having a baby! The (traditional Japanese) family is somewhat alarmed about this, because she is unmarried and her boyfriend is black, and therefore the first inkling we got of this is when my uncle (my mother's brother) e-mailed my father and told him how ashamed he was for the family and also to find out what kind of man had fathered a child on his daughter. My parents' reaction to this was somewhat hysterical laughter, as we have actually met my cousin's boyfriend on several occasions, and he's a very nice guy. (He's in the Army, as well, and has been shipped out to Iraq and Afghanistan twice since he and Maya have been dating? And keeps getting told he's shipping out again, and then they don't actually ship out.) So instead of hiring a private investigator, we called my cousin to confirm that she actually is pregnant (she is), and then assured her that we were on her side and we supported her. I don't think we actually care if she gets married or not, but he's asked her before, and now they're thinking about a courthouse wedding, with a big ceremony later. (Also, as I have mentioned, her boyfriend is Army, which means military benefits if they get married.) It was not planned, and she was on birth control, so -- an accident, but she sounds pretty happy about it.

(It also means I can start knitting baby clothes! What is the best yarn for baby clothes, o knitters?)

*

Huh, I should probably look up when the [livejournal.com profile] narniaexchange deadline is. (I have -- thoughts. And have to do research.)

*

I want to bake pie. Well, crostatas. I require blackberries, although blueberries are what I am more likely to get. (Blackberry pie is my favorite! But blackberries are expensive out here, because it's too dry for them to grow. On the West Side, they are an infestation.)

I shall probably attempt to do muffins, bars, and cookies this weekend, as well, since I am baking considerably less than I usually do because of classes, so I have to make it up during the week, as we have nearly burned through the stash in the freezer.

(no subject)

Date: 2010-07-02 10:15 pm (UTC)
harpers_child: melaka fray reading from "Tales of the Slayers". (Default)
From: [personal profile] harpers_child
re your cousin: babies are expensive to have. insurance helps with the cost. if she doesn't have her own, i do recommend getting married for the benefits.

(no subject)

Date: 2010-07-03 01:00 am (UTC)
harpers_child: melaka fray reading from "Tales of the Slayers". (Default)
From: [personal profile] harpers_child
my mom had to have one of my sisters when we were between insurances. she somehow talked the hospital into giving a discount for my sister being the fastest c-section on record there.

(no subject)

Date: 2010-07-02 10:23 pm (UTC)
aella_irene: (Default)
From: [personal profile] aella_irene
I have been meaning to, now that I am better at knitting, learn how to knit cardigans, so that I can get up a stock for when my relatives start having babies.

(no subject)

Date: 2010-07-02 10:58 pm (UTC)
aella_irene: (Default)
From: [personal profile] aella_irene
Also: I asked my mother what type of wool to use (I also asked her for her cardigan pattern, but she said rather vaguely that it was all in her head, with a spreadsheet to tell her how much to cast on) and she says: Baby wool! Peter Pan, Snuggly, that sort of thing. Needs to be soft, so real baby 'wool' recommended. (Not wool at all.)

(no subject)

Date: 2010-07-02 10:59 pm (UTC)
aella_irene: (Default)
From: [personal profile] aella_irene
My mother likes knitting baby cardigans. Apparently they're small enough that the recipients are less likely to grow out of them, a very real threat when my mother's doing the knitting.

(no subject)

Date: 2010-07-03 12:19 am (UTC)
aella_irene: (Default)
From: [personal profile] aella_irene
I am now looking at Peter Pan wool. Four-ply is for cardigans, apparently. If I were making a baby cardigan, I would go for Rocket Red, or Pale Lemon. No small relative of mine is going to get a pink cardigan, unless specifically requested for a boy.

(no subject)

Date: 2010-07-03 09:36 am (UTC)
aella_irene: (Default)
From: [personal profile] aella_irene
It does look rather UK centric, so I suggest you go for things labelled "baby wool", or maybe ask whoever's in the wool section?

(no subject)

Date: 2010-07-03 05:33 pm (UTC)
snacky: (Default)
From: [personal profile] snacky
Re: domestic magic, have you read Sorcery and Cecilia? It seems like that would fit into that classification.

I'd love to read a baking magic story! One of my favorite mystery series was about a caterer who solved mysteries - they included all the recipes she was making for her clients in the books.

Narnia Fic Exchange deadline is August 30th.

Congrats on the new cousin! Accidents happy, and babies are good!

(no subject)

Date: 2010-07-05 02:55 pm (UTC)
snacky: (blowing bubbles)
From: [personal profile] snacky
*nodnod* Maybe because there's a lot going on outside of the domestic sphere? Hmm. I might have to try some McKinley.

Haha, the prompt I got was exactly like that - something I would totally have never written. Am currently flailing.

(no subject)

Date: 2010-07-05 06:32 am (UTC)
isweedan: The Beowulf Manuscript: Hwæt... (English Major. Beowulf manuscript.)
From: [personal profile] isweedan
Baking and yeast and magic and worldbuilding?

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