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a deal is a deal

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Tuesday, March 31, 2009
domino barbie

My computer is getting better all the time/ getting so much better all the time! I cried one perfect saline tear and whispered "I'll do whatever you ask, just don't die!" and then an apparition in the shape of a robot appeared (it's what apparitions do) and said, in a surprisingly mellifluous robot voice, "YOUR COMPUTER SHALL LIVE. WE WILL ASK A BOON SOME TIME IN THE FUTURE. YOU WILL REPAY THIS BOON WITHOUT QUESTION." ("or else!" was definitely implied.) The robot apparition dissolved with some fancy mist effect, and shortly thereafter the kernel panics dropped down to a still worrisome but manageable number and I vowed to get an external hard drive and start up the time machine regular backups and live a virtuous life until it's time to repay my debt, which I sincerely hope comes in the form of a request for lemon bars rather than setting fires or wearing a burlap dress. Robot ghosts like lemon bars, right?

There is something broken about some blogger/feedburner rss feeds -- none of mine are updating. It's WEIRD, like I'm writing this post for a time capsule that will be opened in some undetermined future. Between this and the come and go spot on my camera, the oven declining to show temperatures, and the digital scale irrationally adding and dropping numbers in increments of 7, I'm starting to get paranoid -- maybe I've developed a physiological electromagnetic problem like those people who can't wear wristwatches.

Or maybe it's time to go outside.

I prefer colonel picnic

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Monday, March 30, 2009
tree work

My computer is one week (ONE WEEK) out of warranty, and I started having kernel panics. (kernel panic sounds like it should be at least a little fun, but it's not.) Why didn't I buy the extended service thingy? The problem doesn't seem to be as bad as it sounds, and I hope to have a non wailing/gnashing of teeth fix for it some time later today. (Of course it might be just as bad/worse than it sounds and I don't realize it, but let's not tread there right now.) It's my own fault, which makes it even more irritating. 1) I didn't update in a timely manner and 2) I did some weird thing where I left my ipod attached and connected and thought "I should probably undo the one part" and then blithely wandered away for hours without undoing a damned thing and came back to a frozen computer.

The moral of the story is to update when you should, back things up, and whenever you think "I should stop doing that thing that seems like a bad idea" you should stop doing that thing that seems like a bad idea. That's just my .02, of course.

The good part is that I do have some functionality (hooray!) and I've spent the morning working on a super-fun paper project, which goes a lot faster when I'm not reading the whole internet every 10 minutes. Right on!

more as soon as I switch from panics to picnics.

spring is getting louder

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Friday, March 27, 2009
Spring is finally sproinging all over town! It's late this year -- winter lasted longer than usual, but I'm okay with the delay since the payoff is so nice. (Because, of course, my feelings in the matter are consulted before preparing the next spring... right??) Today I witnessed carpets of violets (which smell so much better than any non-violet violet-scented anything), daffodils bobbing their heads to some internal yellow flower radio, busy squirrels plotting (against me? maybe, but I'm trying to be less paranoid), AND the flowering cherry and plum trees are having blossom competitions. I almost forgot to mention the The Birds (hitchcock, not jangle rock)-like gang of rogue robins who get their mojo working around dawn. They are into some evil early morning heavy metal birdsong; those birds are going to get the worm, goddammit, and if they wake up the whole neighborhood, even better. (I know all this because they come sit in the cherry tree out my window and make sure I'm aware of how badass they are.)

Fresh from this morning -- notice that a slug has eaten most of the one in the lower middle. Slugs are The Enemy, don't let their slimy, helpless, soft-bodied, no-shell state fool you. But I love those daffodils!

Cherry! (or plum, the flowers are almost identical.) I love that these are all over the city. There are some really spectacular fancy japanese cherries along the waterfront downtown, but this kind is everywhere. I AM SO GLAD.


I know it starts with j

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Saturday, March 21, 2009
Today I worked at one of the larger library branches with a girl named Jessica. Normally I wouldn't mention this, but it was funny because Jessica and I are about the same age, both have longish dark hair and dark eyes, both were subbing today, and of course have a J name of similar length. One of the regular staff members at the branch couldn't keep us straight, even though we've both worked there separately on many occasions. It was just TOO MUCH -- she was mortified at her mistake so I only corrected her twice; it obviously distressed her to keep getting it wrong. I didn't care, and I don't think Jessica really cared either. (You get used to these things with a name like Jennifer/Jessica. I actually love having a name I share with MILLIONS. it's like a disguise! I have an unusual middle name though, so maybe I'd feel differently if I was one of the many Jennifer Lynns I went to camp with.)

Speaking of getting the name not quite right, one of my favorite patrons of the day was this guy in his 90s who came up to the circ desk and said: say, can you tell me if you have this book? I think it's called Shanghai.

I started to type that in, but realized there would be a million titles that come up from that search, so I asked him if he knew the author's name.

him: no, but he wrote another book.

me: do you remember the title?

him: peking.

me: (HILARIOUS!) out loud: I bet they can help you with that at the reference desk.

later on he came back to the circ desk and told Jessica (!) that they did help him find it, and it wasn't Singapore, it was Saigon!

me to Jessica: didn't he say it was Shanghai when he was up here before?

Jessica: yes, yes he did.

my other favorite patron was an 8 year old girl dressed all in purple. She came sidling up to the desk, half shy, half bold. "can you tell me if you have a book on the shelves?"

Me: maybe, what are you looking for?


I'll look, but I'm pretty sure those are all checked out. Do you want me to put it on hold for you?


(in the meantime I find the book in the catalog and show her the picture.) Is this the one?

No, it's the scary one with vampires and stuff. the dvd just came out.

That's this one.

oh. you don't have it?

We don't have it right now, I'm sorry! (and I really was)

I guess a lot of people like scary things to read, don't they?

I agreed and tried to send her to reference so they could find her a scary series we have sitting right on the shelves (I'm sure there was SOMETHING she would have liked, and this kind of problem is the kind librarians live to solve), but we got busy and I'm not sure if she made it over to the ref. desk. I hope she did!

cabin decoration for every citizen

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Tuesday, March 17, 2009
Today I was Ms. Multitask, and it was fantastic. Although now that I think of it, it wasn't so much more than one thing at a time as I just tried to be really efficient. Either way I got things done, which is so necessary right now!

As a bonus to me from the universe for my on-task virtue (I can only assume), when I walked to the library to return an overdue book and pick up some holds (THREE THINGS RIGHT THERE), I saw a 7 foot leprechaun wandering the lobby attired in green shorts, a hat, and what appeared to be a beard made of cotton balls that had been colored an irregular orange. (magic marker? food coloring? blood of the innocent?) The Large Leprechaun was talking to one of the pages and I overheard him saying "do you want to take my picture?" HA! This is but one of the many reasons I love the library.

Wilkie Collins Obsession Update: I now have the Woman in White in my hands! Powell's didn't have the edition that I'm looking for (Everyman Library), so when I saw the penguin paperback version on the shelf at the library, I had to take it home. I'm sure I won't get to it for a while, but that's okay.

Here's the last of the roadtrip pictures (for this trip). I don't have any leprechaun photos, so these will have to do.

the oath

the actual naturalization oath! There were over 560 people becoming citizens, so they had to move the proceeding to the civic center since no court room could hold everyone. There were over 40 countries represented; my aunt is from India, which had the largest contingent of new citizens (100). There were too many people to read off names (except for those in the armed services), but they did read the names of each of the 40+ countries. It was pretty evenly spread all around the world. There were smatterings of applause for various countries, but the funniest one was Great Britain -- there was only one person in the crowd, but they were all "GREAT BRITAIN, REPRESENT!" which struck me as hilarious and great.

It was so wonderful to be there -- I'm glad my uncle thought to call us and let us know it was happening. As for my aunt, she was really nervous. She was sure something was going to go wrong at the last minute, despite her acing the test, despite being married to my uncle for over 5 years, and despite the fact that if it was going to go wrong, it probably would have done so before the ceremony. But I understand irrational anxiety! It won't listen to reason, and it really won't listen to 15 people telling you "you've got nothing to worry about." But as it turns out, she had nothing to worry about and it all went off without a hitch.

My uncle was so proud I thought he was going to break in half or float off into the air. (she also changed her last name, which she didn't do when they married.) She said changing her citizenship was a hard decision, a difficult choice. I can only imagine.


I love this sign! The bear has this "cabin decor? WTF? I don't know what you have in mind, but you can count me out" look on his face. This shop was just next door to the italian restaurant where we went to celebrate post-ceremony.

I loved our banquet room waitress. The room itself was pushed together tables with the requisite wall mural of vineyards and roman ruins. The waitress had neatly set white hair, a red shirt and hot pink lipstick. She was no-nonsense and we clearly exceeded her nonsense tolerances by quite a bit, but she ENDURED. The owner kindly came and took a group picture after dinner. He went to high school with my cousin's husband, and is one of several siblings operating competing italian restaurants with the same name. (what is the story there?!) anyway, he told my aunt that his father had come from Italy, so he knew what a big thing she'd just done. It was sweet.


and the next morning we were on our way! this is sunrise on the way out of town. I thought it was so lovely -- it had been all pink and soft and undecided just moments before, and then ORANGE and then daytime. Speaking of daytime, the time change came right in the middle of this trip, and I'm convinced it's why I was so tired for so long afterwards.

palm tree stoplight

Palm tree stoplight in Red Bluff. My best advice for Red Bluff is to make sure you're not hungry when you drive by, as I believe the town was designed by some sadist/social scientist to drive hungry travelers to the brink of madness. (they accomplish this by hiding all restaurants.)

MCI punk

rest stop pay phone. This was up in the mountains, approaching the siskiyous, I think.


Mt. Shasta from the other side! Still volcanic. This profile -- white pointy mountain with tall fir trees framing it -- is what I think of when I think of mountains. Isn't it pretty?

A mere 6-8 hours after that, we were back in Portland!

you say sierra

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Monday, March 16, 2009
(It's Colbert's fault I'm starting this so late. I stayed up to watch Neil Gaiman's interview which was totally worth it, not least of all because Colbert got himself stuck in a Tom Bombadil poetry loop. That show is one surreal piece of performance art and I love it.)

alright -- back to the pictures:

out the window

this was out my cousin's Clovis subdivision window. I liked that you could see the pool and the other houses within the frame of the window. When I visited last the mountains were still visible, since then a new phase of the development has hogged the view. The economic crisis has slowed some of the rampant growth and housing speculating that was going on in Fresno, but there's still a lot of sprawl. A LOT. It's such a different frame of reference to me, since I'm coming from Urban Growth Boundary Portland. I just don't see new subdivisions like this that often. They are EVERYWHERE in the greater Fresno area. I remind myself that they'll look less like they're eating up farm after farm once the trees get big.

My fresno aunt and uncle (parents of the cousin above) live on almost an acre at the south edge of town. they have a fresno address, but the neighborhood is surrounded by farms and various agricultural endeavors. Strip malls and starbucks are creeping closer, but for now they're still kind of on the fringe. I like it that way, but I'm not the one that has to drive (everything is driving in this city!) for a minimum of 20 minutes to get a mocha. (they are latte drinking GMC drivers, although my aunt long ago invested in top of the line coffee making equipment.) (because she's a top of the line kind of lady, whether it's necessary or not. It makes her happy to know she has the best, so who am I to judge?)

downtown Clovis! (spot monster alert in the middle of the sign.) My sister and I were in the midst of an argument with Fresno Uncle about the correctness of saying "the sierras." (he brought it up!) Because of the nature of the weekend, we did not get the opportunity to discuss it to exhaustion. NEXT TIME! (I am giddy with anticipation because I think I've got an argument-proof piece of logic in my pocket. Let's hope I remember it!)

I think I just liked the brick and blue sky (and palm tree!) here.

day moon

one million phone calls and some global satellite positioning eventually led to getting a tour of the newly renovated university library from my uncle. This tree was outside! Another day moon. I'm beginning to think not being able to see the moon in the daytime is some kind of moon legend.


CARWASH! Clean car culture is very much a sunny weather kind of thing, I think. Not that people don't wash their cars in Oregon, but I would say that it's not pursued as URGENTLY as it seems to be in Fresno, anyway. If it's going to rain for 6 weeks nonstop, does it really make sense to wash it? But I have to say I love going through a drive-through carwash. It's so science fiction to me! Like the car should be able to FLY or at least evade radar detection once it's done.

exciting conclusion tomorrow! Will there be more car wash conundrums and day moon conspiracies? Check back and see.

down south, 12 hours, 1-5

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Sunday, March 15, 2009
LONG STORY SHORT: One of my aunts got her U.S. citizenship last week and a bunch of us went to fresno to celebrate. I could go into long involved stories about how so and so is related to whosits, and how I'm related to most of these people twice (nothing creepy, don't worry), and how my one uncle wears a combover, sunglasses, and bluetooth headset in the living room, which makes me rageful, but ultimately it takes too long to explain. So I will say my sister, mom and I drove down to Fresno last week and met up with a bunch of other relatives and everyone had a delightful time.

some further facts:

++If you want to hide in plain sight in the San Joaquin Valley, you will drive a large white pickup -- Ford, Chevy, or GMC.

++car GPS combined with cellphones combined with certain members of my extended family means hilarity, insanity, tragedy, or full on rage blackouts, depending on how big of a hurry you're in. (in some instances technology is NOT YOUR FRIEND, Grandma/Uncle Pig! the machine is not always right!)

++ best directions for getting to fresno from portland are these: 1-5 for miles and miles and miles, go THROUGH sacramento and keep driving to Peltier road. Take that exit, cut through scenic vinyards, and join up with 99, no sleep till Fresno, etc.

Here are some pictures:

rainy in oregon
overcast, rainy, typical March in Oregon weather. (Note the spot monster lurking in the corner.) I was trying to catch the wiper blades moving -- I have about 6 pictures exactly like this, except the other cars on the road are in different positions.

clouds and mountains
Bec took this with my camera since I was driving over the Siskiyou pass (highest point on 1-5!!!) and couldn't do it myself. Still cloudy, but they were breaking up -- look at those mountains! It is unbelievably beautiful through that area. Also, unbelievably steep. 6% downgrade for the next 6 miles steep. runaway truck ramp steep. don't look out the window put that camera down you're driving steep. spy movie car chase steep. steep steep steep.

I think of the Shasta soft drink jingle every time I go by the mountain. That's so sad! But the mountain is GORGEOUS and I always dig these old-school signs. (There was no one at this viewing area when we stopped, and about 10 people when we left. I like to think we were touristy trend-setters.) Shasta is the second to last mountain in the volcanic cascade range. (Lassen is the last.) Goooo Volcano! (p.s. bobby jindal is out of his mind if he thinks volcano monitoring is a joke.)

springtime out the window
Some in the valley, out the window fruit trees. Oregon trees are barely starting to bloom, these were much further along. So pretty! (I will spare you detailed descriptions of the baby lambs in both Oregon and California that were gamboling about in the green green grass. But I will say they were STINKING CUTE.) Anyway, I love the green of the grass, the pink of the trees, and the purple/blue of the mountains in the distance. I'm not entirely sure where this was, but if I had to guess I'd say just south of Redding.

just north of sacramento -- look at that light! compare with the first picture. California really is a golden state and I love it.

part 2 tomorrow!

hello, yellow

| On
Thursday, March 12, 2009
lemons on the tree

1. I'm back from Fresno! I've been back for a couple of days, but I'm still getting on top of things. So in the meantime,* here are some lemons and a list.

[*between right this second and the post I'll make shortly, which will include exciting details such as why Uncle Pig didn't bother me even though he invoked The Palin, what truck to drive if you're ever put in witness protection in the central San Joaquin valley (hint: it's not a toyota), and much, much, more.]

2. the moon is still pretty full and shining right in my window. The rain predicted has yet to arrive. I have a giant bag of meyer lemons. Things could be worse.

3. my camera appears to be haunted by a mischievous spot monster, who arrives and departs with maddening unpredictability. What this monster does not know (unless it reads this, in which case FAIR WARNING, monster), is that since I've had my camera less than a year, I'm perfectly willing to pack it up and send it back to get a new one. ( you hear me, spot monster? I will totally do it.)

4. I am becoming obsessed with Wilkie Collins. this doesn't have anything to do with lemons, but that's what happens when you're obsessed. I've never read him! Should I start with the Woman in White or the Moonstone? (I'm leaning toward the Moonstone, but I'm open to suggestion.)

5. Meyer Lemon, I love you! My sister and I did a happy dance upon realizing that lemons were in season. Citrus is one of the few things I miss about living in Florida.

inside the meyer lemon tree

As you can see, there were plenty of lemons to take. We filled up a giant Whole Foods paper grocery sack (broke the handles, naturally), and could have taken at least five giant sacks before you would even be able to tell any were missing.

lemons on the table

I was on the other side of the tree from the bag, so I put these lemons on one of the tables my aunt uses in agility training for her german shepherd. I love how happy the lemons look on this color!

lemon tree

Here's a view slightly back from the tree -- that other stuff in front of the fence is more agility props. The gazebo is covered in jasmine and Sally Holmes roses. They weren't blooming yet, but I can tell you from past experience it smells WONDERFUL when they do. Of course there aren't lemons then, so I was plenty happy to be there when we were.

lemons on the table

close up of the lemons -- they're HUGE. And juicy. They make waxy thick skinned grocery store lemons look stingy and sad. I'm making lemon bars tomorrow.

get out of the state you're in

| On
Sunday, March 08, 2009
I love a road trip. This morning I woke up in portland, and tonight I'm at my aunt and uncle's house in fresno!

here's a quick recap:


(thank god for ipods and my sister's amusing 50 state playlist. Does anyone know a good song that mentions Iowa (or any city or town in Iowa)? The one we have causes road rage or uncontrolled fits of laughing, neither of which are safe.)



(driving some more)

(that smell in modesto)

(what is it??)

(I don't want to know.)



I had big plans for getting pictures posted from the drive down and to also list the number of "world's capital of" driven through, but it turns out after 800 miles or so, I don't really feel like finding the camera cable. BUT, I can tell you that according to my records (which I will verify in the morning) we went through The Grass Seed Capital of the World (Linn County, Oregon) and are currently in the Raisin Capital of the World (Fresno, California). WHAT ADVENTURES AWAIT??

I have wifi, so the answers may come sooner rather than later.

(although they may come later.)

which way to the giant braid?

| On
Thursday, March 05, 2009
Time and space as I experience them have once again become stretchy and unpredictable -- this happens every so often. The entirety of today felt like it took place in underwater slow motion, but the previous four days were a zipperquick blur. It's just weird! I think this is why I like stories about time travel -- regular time already doesn't make any sense to me, so why not make it interesting? You might as well throw in a paradox and some bad hair and no penicillin!

Speaking of hair (dig my groovy segue), this past weekend my sister and I went down to the Portland Art Museum to see the giant braid. Or the room full of hair, as she calls it. Oddly enough, they do not recognize either of these names when you are picking up a ticket! "Are you here for the exhibition?" (Meaning the Madame de Pompadour painting exhibit, but I was too distracted/cold medicined out to twig that, so I said "uh, I don't know? I'm here to see the giant braid." "We have one of those?" (finally the coat check girl came to my rescue and said "we have the MK Guth exhibit," which prompted me to point and say "yes!" like the confused but enthusiastic person I am.) We picked up our tickets and headed to the stairs.

(braid photo taken from the internet. This is what it looked like in New York, not what it looked like at PAM.)

I really wanted to see this braid, and this was the last day. (I thought it would be there one more week, but the 1st was IT, so I'm glad we drug ourselves down there since I'd already put it off for 4 months.) Anyway, this project, officially called "Ties of Protection and Safekeeping" captured my imagination when I first heard about it back in 2007. It started at the Portland Armory, where she was braiding this crazy long braid, and weaving bits of red flannel into it -- but that's not all! It was participatory at the beginning. People were invited to write what they think is worth protecting on the flannel, which was then incorporated into the braid. The piece went from the Portland Armory, and then traveled to several cities before ending up at the Park Avenue Armory as part of the Whitney Biennial. I'm so glad I got to see it -- it's very fairy tale Rapunzel weird, just as I'd imagined it would be, but I really wish I'd gone to see it when it was still being created. The exhibit at PAM seemed a little sterile, set as it was within an all white space. The Armory would have lent a castle-like ambiance.

It was fun to walk around and read what people had written, what they felt was worth protecting. OPTIMISM (in all caps) showed up more than once. People's families and cats. The environment. Civil liberties. Freedom to fail. Some were laundry list long, some were incredibly simple. There were many New York centric ones, which I thought was great and interesting -- of all the cities this project went to, I only saw New York mentioned specifically on the flannel. ("new york city cobblestones!" etc.) Of course maybe the way it was hung meant the nyc ones were most accessible and the people of Boise had their say closer to the ceiling.

After we saw the braid, we wandered around to see a bit of this and that. (this is my favorite way in a museum. too much of anything is overwhelming.) My favorite things (beyond the braid) included: a Van Dyck portrait of Cardinal Dominico Rivarola (he looks smart and funny and like someone who would be fun to talk to, but don't ever get on the wrong side of him -- a Rahm Emanuel type of supersmart hothead with a lot of political savvy and influence); the northwest coast section of the Native American collection (sea lion whiskers and abalone on masks!), and the little display for the new Ganesha statue the museum just acquired.

I was dragging because of my stupid cold (stupid cold!), so we didn't stay too long. I renewed my membership and my PLAN is to go to the museum at least once a month. We didn't even make it over to the new wing at all, and there's some really interesting stuff over there. (including the photography and the Rothko that makes me dizzy!) (although I can't find Rothko on pam's irritating, frustrating website, so maybe they don't have it anymore! I will be sad if that's true.) ANYWAY, we wandered around without much plan and stumbled into many beautiful things, including a Cornell box I don't remember seeing there before. Any day with an unexpected Cornell box is a good day, I would say. (unless one fell on you from a great height, or you sat on one and busted it up.)

here are some photos from museum day:

a little love graffiti two blocks from the museum, that I at first assumed was a misspelled FEMUR, because that's the kind of romantic I am. (isn't it natural to assume someone would want to write FEMUR on a billboard? I mean, TIBIA might be just down the street!! They are made for each other!)

this picture is just a block down from the AMOR. I like how the old church is tucked in there, holding its ground, beset by condos on every side.

museum tree
they've just finished up a lot of construction around the museum -- not only the expansion of the museum itself, but some fancy condos (or something) across the street. I was extremely grateful that they left a couple of really fine trees in place. The line on the left is the roofline of the museum.

The Laughter of Dead Kings

| On
Sunday, March 01, 2009
by Elizabeth Peters (2008)

King Tut is missing! The manner of his disappearance has fingers pointing at John Smythe, Vicky Bliss's formerly crooked now straight (OR IS HE?) antiquities-slinging boyfriend. Will justice prevail? Adventures be experienced? Mistakes be made? Treasures be found? Laughs be had? (read it and see, yes, yes, yes and yes.)

I have been reading Vicky Bliss novels for ages; Elizabeth Peters occupies a particular, protected place in my heart. I came across her books at an impressionable age and was DELIGHTED to find out that there were many linear feet of books to catch up on. She's incredibly prolific, and I greedily read all I could find: the Amelia Peabody books are full of Victorian/Edwardian parasol-thwapping Egyptian adventure (although I gave up on those somewhat early on because I grew weary of a particular character -- I'll go back to them someday); the books she wrote under the pen name Barbara Michaels are all vaguely or directly spooky in the vein of Mary Stewart's novels of romantic suspense; the stand-alone capers are great fun -- young women stumbling into international adventures and romances, usually involving danger, legends, artifacts, charm and bickering.

As much as I liked these, what really hit my sweet spot were the Vicky Bliss stories. Vicky was not just smart, but a smartass; beautiful, but vulnerable and awkward (not just because she's six feet tall); expert in her field (art history, medieval jewelry in particular) but not expert in everything. On top of that, she lived in Munich, worked in a museum and had many caper-type adventures all over Europe, and so on. The character is smart but does all the stupid things smart people are prone to doing (usually by making dumb mistakes she assumes she's too smart to make), yet she manages to figure things out in the end. Mostly. She's no lone ranger -- she has friends, a community. The two biggest recurring characters would be her boss, Schmidt (oh, how I love him), and her an on again (sneaking in her window) off again (on the lam) boyfriend John, a charming but slippery art thief/dealer. Actions have consequences in the series, and although you could conceivably read them in any order, there's a lot of enjoyable carryover from one book to the next.

These novels came out at a fairly regular pace for a while, then it was All Amelia, All The Time. (There are 6 Vicky novels compared to 18 Amelia novels.) Fans of the series thought we weren't going to get any more, but now we have a new one! I love how this starts with a word from the author that though she wrote the first Vicky novel in 1973, the series occupies the "current now." I was grateful she made this distinction, because it lets a person dispense with those kinds of meta questions right away -- but it was clear that even though the characters were in the current now, maybe the author wasn't. (The current now also means that some of the earlier books are pretty dated.) The last Vicky book came out in the early 90s, when it was still conceivable that someone could be having an adventure of this type without wifi. Now... all the characters do things like check email and google and use a cell phone, but they all approach it like a cranky writer who found it easier to plot and plan when you couldn't just CALL SOMEONE and clear up any questions. They barely refrain from "back in my day we carved hieroglyphs on tablets, and we liked it!" proclamations. Ha! I actually kind of love this, but if she writes another one I hope she gets it straightened out. I would at least like to feel that a competent, with it, "current now" girl like Vicky would not just grudgingly use technology, but use it adeptly to her advantage.

That being said, if it weren't for my already considerable affection for the series, I'm not sure how I would rate this novel. How would I feel about it if I weren't so pathetically grateful to visit with my old friends again? As far as favorite V. Bliss stories go, I think this one slots somewhere in the middle. I had fun reading it, but it didn't have the pull for me that some of the other novels in the series did. I still had a really good time, though.

Here's a list of the previous five books, with the year of original publication and the location of the adventure:

Borrower of the Night (1973): Vicky's first book, which sets up the series. Haunted German castle with spooky candelabra door slamming "what are you doing here?" bedroom farce hijinx.

Street of the Five Moons (1978): kidnapping, scooters and other Roman adventures. We meet John, who is a slippery liar who lies, yet he sometimes does the right thing, if for his own weird reasons. (I always picture him looking and talking somewhat like Princess Bride era Cary Elwes.)

Silhouette in Scarlet (1983): Stockholm, intrigue, ruthless criminals, 5th century treasure, lonely island, DEADLY PAPER SILHOUETTES. (yes, I said deadly paper silhouettes.)

Trojan Gold (1987): the promise of Agamemnon's gold and a dangerous alpine ski chalet vacation! (!!!) (big adventure/romance in this one.)

Night Train to Memphis (1994): Country music (the music of pain!), misunderstandings, Nile cruises, pyramids, full moons, camels, mothers in law.