August 13th, 2009

Starry Night

It's All Survival Mode These Days...

I've got a break between birthdays to make a regular post, so I'm updating on last weekend's solo-camping trip.

Obviously, I survived. I didn't kill the kids, though Christopher got sent to the creek a LOT because he would not stop pestering Lauren. And there was more fighting than I would have liked, though some unexpected sweetness too (toward me, not each other).

We got the tent up Friday night without much difficulty, other than the kids being shorter than HalfshellHusband, but I do most of the work anyway. The people with the popup tent-trailer at the neighboring campsite gaped at us like a zoo exhibit, but whatever. *eye roll*

Friday night was cold, even with lots of layers and a stocking cap and dragging my coat over my head to create a pocket of warmth. It's usually not that cold up there until September-October.

Caveat: I'm not sure I've ever camped anywhere that wasn't at altitude. I have no idea what that would be like! My experience is with the Central Cascades, the Northern Sierra Nevada and (once) The Uintas. The usual camp elevation is a minimum of 5000-6000 feet, where it's hot during the day and coooold at night.

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After I got back, I talked to the coworker who had borrowed another coworker's popup tent-trailer to camp at Tahoe. He says the popup tent has a heater, which makes me even more envious!

HalfshellHusband missed us all, and we him, though he was much better by Saturday afternoon and the vomiting backed off to just nausea. Thank goodness!


Narrative and Spoken Dialect

I'm reading Kathy Reichs' Break No Bones at the gym, which is one of the Temperance Brennan novels. It's surprising how unlike the TV Bones the book character is—she's older, was married for 20 years and is now divorced, has an adult daughter, and while fiesty also has a boyfriend and actual people skills. The TV "Bones," by contrast, has an almost Asperger-like personality more than just a highly analytical personality. She doesn't seem to understand the psychology of social interaction, at least not when she's personally "in the moment," which makes her character pricklier, funnier, and possibly more interesting.

Reichs claims that her character grew up in the South, but there's no hint of that in the narrative. There are a few word choices that sound more British than anything to me (I actually Googled Reichs to see if she was Canadian, after hitting mobile (cell phone), queuing up, and "the bit that"). While some of the secondary characters sound "local," the narrator doesn't. Reichs apparently grew up in Chicago, and that fits with her character better. It's puzzling.

By contrast, I read a mostly dreadful mystery (one of my mother's hand-me-down books) by JoAnn Ross a few weeks back where the setting and narrative were rich in Southern atmosphere (set in Louisianna). Unfortunately, it was hard to focus on the plot because the author kept unexpectedly veering off into porn. Apparently she usually works in a different genre, to judge from the bare-chested men on the covers of her other books. :0

Written dialect is often easier to read in word choices than when the writer attempts to reflect the sound of the language itself. Reading Dorothy's dialogue in the Wizard of Oz is excruciating (it's full of apostrophes for the dropped endings). Spoken dialect, via pronunciation, is wonderfully regional, but hard to handle well in writing.

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