Anyway--I'm back from Balticon, where I had a great time, not only at the convention itself but on the train trip there and back. The scenery from the train, from Pittsburgh (dawn) through the mountains into Maryland and then D.C. was stunning. Down as far as Harper's Ferry, it was newsworthy gorgeous along one river and creek after another. The convention produced several delightful surprises--the Needleworkers' Tea, for instance, with really good tea and cakes (and cucumber sandwiches, all beautifully served) and a lot of us knitting, crocheting, spinning and chatting--and a chance to re-connect with Yoji Kondo's daughter Beatrice, who took me to lunch at Baltimore's Best Ribs (The Corner Stable, IIRC)....and they WERE the best ribs, maybe of my life. Also met up with Mel Tatum and Chris Merle, whom I hadn't seen since their move to Arizona from Oklahoma. Mel has become an accomplished songwriter and filker and I got to hear her perform several pieces....including one she wrote about Paksenarrion (I almost cried, but didn't.) And I had a brief hi-goodbye with Ann Crispin, who was (among other things) launching the new Pirates of the Caribbean novelization, and a slightly longer chat with Michael Capobianco. My agent took me to dinner and we got drenched in a thunderstorm during what was supposed to be a quiet stroll back to the hotel (it was an adventure!); we also had breakfast one morning with his other clients Jon Sprunk and Myke Cole, during which Myke determinedly lectured Jon and me on the values of social networking.
When the convention was over, I got back on the train(s) and had another chance at the scenery from the other direction (it was dark, though, before we reached Pittsburgh) and saw a different view of Illinois since our southbound train was routed east of its normal route. More farmland and fewer towns. Even (to my delight) draft horses in harness, working (a hitch of four Belgians abreast pulling a hay wagon.) And draft mares with foals! And a boy sitting on a fence post eagerly waving at the train.
On the trip I made progress on the book in hand, as well as two knitting projects. Unfortunately, an accident resulted in a loss of stitches on the large project--and the train was too bouncy to fix them there (I didn't have great light, either.) So that will have to be done later. But both are much larger than they were when I left.
Got home yesterday and today made it out to the new rain barn under construction. The flush of wildflowers from the rains just before I left is already past prime and the land's turning brown again, except in the deep soil along the south fence, where there are lush stands of vine mesquite and Bermuda grass and abundant forbs still blooming. In that knee-high area, bees, wasps, and butterflies tend to the flowers, and a great crested flycatcher was attending to anything it could grab on its repeated flights back and forth to this area.