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December 1, 1998
a year ago

Komarr

Victor's in the morning, bug hunting during the day, Tom invited us to see A Bug's Life with is kids, but John had a meeting for church and then a late soccer game.

I feel a lot like we're getting trapped in the old cycle of doing things for duty's sake rather than our own. Which was very, very, very surprisingly reflected in Komarr. I finally got to that point in the book where I couldn't set it down, and have complete sympathy for Carl when we called him that morning and he said that he only had the last 20 pages to go. Now I'm bouncing off the walls for Rules of Engagement. It would be nice to see Mark again.

Komarr gives this lovely look at what Miles is like now that he's actually grown up, or at least just this side of being a true adult with all the characteristics and all the consequences of his youthful impetuousness. And all his old experiences really, really do come back to, if not haunt him, at least stay with him and give him the room to learn more, to be more, and to do better yet. Old failures leading to new successes.

The viewpoints switch mostly between Miles and that of Ekaterin Vorsoisson, the wife of a Barryaran Administrator on Komarr, and it follows Miles and his fellow Auditor (who is also Ekaterian's uncle) Vorsoisson as they investigate the destruction of the majority of Komarr's main sunlight reflector, which the planet needs as an energy source for the terraforming that is necessary to bring it up to livable standards.

Unlike the other Vorkosigan novels, there isn't quite as much action. It reminds me, in some ways, of Cetaganda, but entirely a different mystery and Miles, himself, is extraordinary in this one. One thing that Bujold said during the interviews was that the things that happened in Memory were, in part, that she felt that Miles should finally get some consquences, lasting consequences, from his actions. In Komarr I got to see Miles as he was after dealing with those consequences, facing them and trying his best to work with them, now, and not simply deny them or push them off.

Ekaterian's story is marvelous, frightening, in some ways as I've way too much empathy for it and her feelings. Her loyalty to a husband who limits her and protects her and does his level best to keep her the way he thinks she should be kept is something that resonates at some level; and how she breaks free, first in desperation, then by necessity is an amazing story in and of itself. I love her, utterly.

What's so lovely about her is that Bujold make her a living, breathing, frightened, loving, confused human being. Real in so many ways. As she does with so many of her characters, but I think the baseline of what makes Bujold's books so interesting is that she makes them real, flawed human beings that are put into extraordinary circumstances; and in those circumstances, they respond. They do the right thing, they do the loving thing, they do the loyal or the frighteningly brave thing, the thing that makes my heart go to my throat or make me cry kind of thing that usually involves showing just how much human beings are capable of doing.

Both Miles and his mother have that spark, that thing that causes people to believe in themselves, perhaps because they believe so hard in people. Mark is catching that spark, in a different way, perhaps, and Gregor shows it in different ways as well, but that's the spark throughout the books that leaps into flame in the hearts of those around them. That's what I love about the books and stories. There's this one point in the book where Miles is listing off all his old lovers and to Ekaterian it is so obvious that every woman he's loved has gone onto bigger, better, more glorious things, whereas, for him, it's simply that they've never loved him and his world enough to choose to stay with him. And it's so cryingly obvious to her that it's because he was the one that helped them all find their wings.

This book is, like all the others in the series, self-contained. You can just pick it up and read it, but, like the others, especially Memory, it's much richer with all the other books known.


So, yeah, I was up until 1:30 a.m. reading and re-reading, and, yeah, I realized later that it was because I was scared about the diaconate meeting tonight and doing the old bad-thing routine of staying up way-late the night before and being completely grumpy and tired and nasty for the meeting tonight. We'll see.

Though, this time, I'll also admit that it was because the book was so marvelous.

Yeesh, another month. So I'm also tidying up the November directory and working to get the month's page put together and get the new month in place. It always takes some work. Work is steady and we brought the last of the sourdough cinnamon rolls and the apple pie to work for folks breakfast adn they all liked it. Ray even asked if it was homemade crust and I said yes, and everyone seemed to like it so that was cool.

John got the Rangy's fuel pump home last night, but was too busy to get it in, and tonight I have the meeting, so he might be able to get it in. I walked Fezzik last night while John was away and was fighteningly resentful of the fact that church was taking John away *again*, and that I was pissed off that he was playing soccer and I haven't even gotten the courage to call about my knee brace, yet, though I have the paperwork, now.

I grumped a while, and then called J. Peterman's about a portable watercolor setup, with plastic panners, a built in cup for the water in a built-in flask and a set of British watercolors as well as a small brush with cap. It's something that I've been wanting for nearly four years, and built by the same people that used to do it for Klutz. Each time I think about getting it, the price always makes me back off, as it's rather a lot more expensive than a simple palatte of watercolors. But the portability means that I could take it with me when I wanted to paint something that I could see, which always works better than trying to paint from memory.

Yes, I was trying to buy something to make me feel better. Sadly, they'd sold out of the kits.

So I was left even more deflated. I finally just dealt with it all by acknowledging that I was angry, that there wasn't really much I could do about it now, but should and would talk with John later, when we had the time. Then I read. So it might have been an escape, that way, too.

Amusingly enough, I dreamed all night of being Miles' bodyguard. Frantic shots of hyper action and then running around with him on his 'normal job' and watching inteviews, fast-penta interrogations, taking out snipers the hard way, getting shot at least three times by flinging myself over the little man, and trying to make sure he didn't give me the slip, but still balancing that fine line of privacy when he needed it. I woke up this morning exhausted by the whole thing as well as bemused.

Man, that would be a life.


I think we have a minor hex on all our cars, or something. John went out at lunchtime to get a hair cut, and found that the right front tire was flat as a pancake. Oops. So the two of us scrambled to change the tire in the parking lot and John would find a tire place in Redmond to fix it.

It's all relatively minor stuff, just stuff we haven't had the time to fix, so have had to fix on the run. It's going to be interesting to have most of the Christmas Vacation at home, with most of the church stuff behind us and able to concentrate on other things. After the dinner Sunday night, John said that he could finally just play Bandicoot to play, rather than to stop thinking about what the church situation was. It's a good indicator of just how swamped we are, I think that the cars are going out.

One other thing about the Vorkosigan series... it's that one of the lessons that's repeated throughout is that there are consequences for ones choices, sometimes painful ones, but if a situation is unbareble or untenable, there are choices, always, to get out of that situation. Often at a price, but there is the freedom to do the actions to get certain results and that all actions have consequences, so if I really, truly want certain consequences, then I'd better take the actions to get them.

It made me think about the whole church thing some more, and the simple fact is that I got the consequence I wanted, along with some that I'm not so comfortable dealing with. A few which line up along the lines of 'failing' or 'being a failure', which are two entirely different things, actually. Everyone fails, falls, fucks up occassionally. It's one of the beauties of Bujold's universes that failing doesn't mean a person is necessarily a failure.

There's this one scene between Mark and the Countess, where she's saying that greatness must come from flawed human beings because all human beings are flawed and he basically recoils from that saying, with that reasoning, there's no escape. That if she believes that then no matter how much he messes up, he'll know that she thinks he can still make things better, can still do the right thing. Failing just means getting up and trying it again, maybe differently, with more experience, more knowledge, maybe even more fear, but it seems the foundation work for greatness.

Makes me think, yes.

I went and found a watercolor kit at Magellan's, through the SkyMall and tried to buy it on-line, though it's not the British make that I had longed for for so long, it is of like make and should be solid enough to bring with me when I go back to San Diego. I might bring my normal watercolors with me to Albuquerque and paint in the hotel room out in Red Rock when we get there. The high desert is always gorgeous.

Amusingly enough the SkyMall web page timed out on me as I was submitting my order. Maybe it was a sign, that I really should only get the thing that I really want to get rather than a ready substitute. It amuses me.

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