30 December 2016

Christmas Special

Merry Christmas to all of you out in blogland. I've been on a whirlwind trip to see my/my wife's family-- one day of travel, two full days with one family, another day of travel, two full days with another family, and then another day of travel. It's always good to come home, of course, and one wishes we could do it more often; geography keeps us at about three times per year except for extenuating circumstances. In six months, we might live somewhere different, and this might make it easier to come home frequently, but it might also make it worse.

Travel logistics meant that for the first time in my entire life, I had to miss my extended family's Christmas Eve get-together-- at which I usually play a key role as emcee of the Yankee swap gift exchange! But even aside from that, it was sad to not spend the holiday with my grandmother and aunts and uncles and cousins and cousins' kids. Instead (for reasons too complicated and too stupid to explain) my wife and I spent Christmas Eve in a diner in Athens, Ohio. Thankfully, some traditions remain intact (watching the Doctor Who Christmas special, eating Christmas dinner with my family and my grandmother, even if it wasn't on Christmas), and some new ones seem to be forming (my wife is making headway in her attempts to make Weihnachtsstollen an annual thing).

Of course, there's been a lot of presents as always. Highlights have included a cocktail set from my wife, a Death Star that dispenses jelly beans from my brother- and sister-in-law, a Star Trek redshirt hoodie from my mother, soundtrack CDs from my mother-in-law, socks from my father-in-law, and many many books. Here's some of them:
As you can see, I netted all of the Ancillary books, which I've been yearning after for a while; I feel like I never read enough current science fiction. (I asked for recent sf from SantaThing; I haven't got my SantaThing books yet, so hopefully I didn't also get the Ancillary books there!) I also got a whole mess of books for my project to read more fiction set in my hometown of Cincinnati-- six of them to be precise.

Just looking at them, my favorite is The Serpentine Wall, a mystery novel by a reporter for the Cincinnati Enquirer:

The Serpentine Wall is a bit of a local landmark, a long, snakey wall on the Ohio River with huge steps:

It's the best place to watch Cincinnati's fantastic river-based Labor Day fireworks. Some of the Cincinnati novels I've read haven't felt very Cincinnati-y; I'm anticipating good things from this one.

On the other hand, I'm a little dubious about Seventeen Blocks from the River. For one thing, I'm the only person to own a copy on LibraryThing, which means it's even more obscure than The Picshuas of H. G. Wells. Secondly, this is its author blurb:

I mean, single out your one son for being adopted and Jewish, that won't make him feel weird at all.  Also, "a leaf in the wind"???

It's getting late, so I'll wrap this up. Incidentally, a Merry Christmas to all of you at home, and remember to keep Christmas with you all through the year!

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