Thursday, September 7, 2017

Summer's end

This is the idyllic time of year. Labor Day is passed and summer is soon to end. The warm (sometimes too warm) days of summer give way to cooler nights and, shortly, to cooler days. These days are like the last few drops of an elixir that has intoxicated us till now. It's like the last rays of light on a warm, beautiful day. You have to just sit and drink it all in.

It's much warmer this year than last. Here in beautiful, bucolic Lynnwood, WA, our high temps are in the mid-80s and the air is very smoky due to the wildfires in the Columbia gorge and elsewhere. By this time last year, high temps were in the 60s and I'd already had a fire or two burning in the hearth.

Yesterday was the anniversary of Grendel's death. This time last year was filled with anguished hope and hopeless despair. I still miss my little man. My heart breaks a little bit every time I think about him. The sharp pain of those terrible six weeks of late summer has subsided, but the sorrow lingers.

I loved that chubby, obstreperous munchkin more than I knew. I love my replacement cow-cat Bogart. He has his own unique personality which endears him to me more each day. I can't help but note the contrasts, however. Grendel was a cool cat, master of every situation. He approached everything with an enviable sangfroid. Bogart is bit more touchy and skittish. He's OK with visitors, but gets a bit agitated if there's commotion. A friend brought her young daughter by a few weeks back and her excitability at meeting Bogart was clearly taking its toll. He withdrew, she followed. I had to back her off in fear that he'd attack her. The window cleaners came by last week and started whumping and bumping their ladders around the house. I had to put Bogey in the windowless master bath to calm him down. He was freaked out and near screeching in fear as strange faces suddenly appeared at the windows. Grendel would just sit at the window and stare them into submission.

I have a week's vacation coming up. I meant to take it in early August, but the demands of work kept me chained to my oar. It will be next week—or the week after that... So, on the plus side, I still have it to look forward to. I'm experiencing what it means to have your cake and not eat it, but the desire to eat the cake is growing. Maybe a week off when the temperatures are cooler and the smoke has cleared is a better option. Painting weather.

Oh no it's not!


Much of my summer reading focused on The Irish Project. However, I managed to get some reading in that was not project related but pure pleasure. As I mentioned in a post in June, my quest for fish 'n' chips brought me into striking distance of Sea Ocean Book Birth and a few delightful finds amongst its groaning shelves. I've completed The Galleys at Lepanto and Sir Francis Drake. Both were excellent reads. Thomson's bio of Drake was surprisingly rich. The narrative moves along well and the story is exciting from start to end. From the first chapter to the last, you find yourself hanging on in anticipation of the next exploit.

Beeching's book on Lepanto was equally rich. He pulls together so many threads to weave the story that you're entranced by the tapestry. I always wanted to be a historian. It's reading books like these that makes that desire grow stronger (though, I'm not sure if I could ever achieve it). I was able to tie in reading The Galleys at Lepanto with reading chunks of Gunpowder and Galleys. I've had this title for a while and only browsed it. It's a very nice technical work on Mediterranean warfare in the 16th century and allowed for a few excurses into ship details where I wanted a bit more that the narrative provided.

I'm now in the midst of reading Mattingly's The Armada. This is a classic work and is proving to be equal to the first two books. His characterization of Elizabeth is an interesting comparison with how Thomson portrays her in his Drake bio. Thomson saw the Armada as more a response to the depredations of the English corsairs, El Draque chief among them. Mattingly starts by tying it to the tensions between Protestant and Catholic England—and the larger tension between Protestant England and Catholic Spain—and the situation after the execution of Mary Stuart in 1587, the year before the Armada, or rather the year it was intended to be had not Drake preemptively wrecked it in harbor at Cadiz.

History is an opportunity missed if the writer can't tell a compelling tale. I love being able to get details, but they're valuable for reference and become onerous the more pedantic they are. A good story is more to be desired than gold. I've read a lot on the US Civil War, but nothing better than anything by Bruce Catton. He was foremost a master story-teller and my understanding of the Civil War is enriched by his colorful narratives.


My primary hope for my week off—whenever I manage to take it—is to get a lot of painting done. Mostly on the English and Irish figures I have, but on a few other projects too. I have some new Beyond the Gates of Antares figures that I'd like to get finished, or nearly finished. They're a quick paint and I have most of them started already. I might also like to complete some long-languishing Xyston 1/600th galleys for my Row Well and Live! project. I'm starting to get eager to complete the revisions I noted for it three years ago and play some more. I may offer it on Wargame Vault at some point when I'm satisfied that it will pass muster.


  1. Yes,it's been quite warm and dry this year. There are ashes on the cars from the fires too. I share your pain of losing a beloved pet (actually they are more like 4-legged family members). Enjoy your vacation when you finally can, and looking forward to updates on your Anglo -Irish project.

  2. I feel the same way about Catton. Hope you get to enjoy your break soon!


  3. Glad to hear you are feeling better about Grendel's loss. I would be devastated if I lost my cat Alex...
    Have a nice vacation even if it is during the fall!