I received a shipment of ink yesterday — a bottle of Diamine Holly to get me through winter, and a small vial of Sherwood Forest. The first is an elegant holiday green with a hint of shimmer in it, and the latter is an earthier green, like fir or spruce needles. Both inks remind me of evergreens, which I need very much when the garden is brown.
I’m taking today off of work. Other than the solstice, today is the only day I’m taking off for the Christmas season, so I want to take advantage of it to do as little as possible. I was on my feet, mostly in the kitchen, for 12 hours on my other day off for the holidays. It was worth it — our yule feast was delicious — but today I plan to do the opposite of what I did on Wednesday. Today, I plan to put my feet up, relax, and do stuff I want to do. Like clean all my fountain pens, which I did this morning, now that I’ve got this pretty new ink.
I might play with my camera some if I feel like it; last night, with time finally free to caper, I used my little tripod to photograph Tootsie in the light of the Christmas tree. The light was low, and I wanted to use my tripod and play with slow shutter speeds, using my phone as a camera remote, and testing different setting combinations in the dimly lit room. I never did get a great focus on her eyes, but I can keep trying. I forget I have practice subjects in the cats, and that when I want to play with my camera, I can photograph them.
But mostly today I want to read. In February, my team is meeting up in Istanbul for work, and I know next to nothing about Turkey or Istanbul, except that I know I’ll like the food (kebabs! pastries with pistachios! falafel!), and that the setting of one of my favorite fantasy series is modeled on the land and city-scapes of the Byzantine empire. The two books comprise the Sarantine Mosaic by Guy Gavriel Kay; the main character is a mosaicist, and the setting is rich and textured and gorgeous, and I want to read it again before my trip.
First, though, I will read real-world fiction by one of Istanbul’s celebrated novelists, Elif Shafak. She’s written several books, and I’ve selected The Bastard of Istanbul to start with. I love to learn a place through its fiction, and Shafak has put together a whole list of titles for anyone who wants to read their way through Istanbul. From that list, I learned there’s a hotel in Istanbul that’s the last stop on the Orient Express, and was where Agatha Christie would stay when she visited Istanbul (Hemingway would also stay there). Apparently the hotel is near our Airbnbs. So now I want to read some Agatha Christie as well, which I wanted to do anyway thanks to my friend Zandy who recently finished reading Christie’s entire ouevre and blogged comically about her experience in A year of murder, and also because I loved Knives Out, and I can’t wait to watch Glass Onion, and the director of those two films is of course inspired by Agatha Christie. I’ll need to ask Zandy if Christie set anything in Istanbul I should read.
The wind swooshes down the chimney and rattles the flue. Tootsie cleans herself, calm and unhurried, while trees shake and snowflakes swirl outside. I’m going to slide some brocolli into the oven and read my book while I wait for it to roast.