A Rumination on Insurance

I do not have health insurance at this time, and I have not had for some years. The job I have now, working to administer a small nonprofit, does not offer insurance as a benefit, and I some time ago realized that the possible penalty for not having insurance would be less than the price of insurance for me. Said price, given that exactly two practitioners in my county accepted the insurance I had at the time (and my own nonprofit was one of them), was not worth paying when I had the insurance, and it was damned well not going to be when my expected premium was set to go up while both my copay and deductible also rose. No, I am on the “don’t get sick” plan that I had back before the Affordable Care Act was passed, and I’ve been lucky enough so far that that’s been all I have needed.

Image result for insurance card
Ah, yes. This. Yay.
Image from the Texas Department of Insurance, which I think makes it public domain.

I’ve been lucky, too, that my wife works a job that does have health insurance as a benefit. Indeed, her tenure with her employer and her consistent performance in her position have led to her insurance being paid for by the company–along with our daughter’s. Knowing how much such premiums are, I am aware of just how large a benefit it is, and I appreciate it greatly, even if I am not so sanguine about the system that makes it so–or, at times, about the specifics of the benefit itself. Because, even with the substantial outlay from the employer, the insurer through which my wife and daughter are covered seem unable to get their act together. More, even when they give consistent information–which is not always–that information does not necessarily work to our good. Medical care in the United States is the price it is, and our paychecks are only what they are; I’ve been able to save some money up, and I’ve been able to pay some debts down, but a surgery that runs to tens of thousands of dollars before insurance pays and is still close to ten thousand after it does is not something we can easily absorb.

I am happy to have the option to pay, truly; the alternative, the procedure not happening, is not one I would have preferred to entertain. But I know that I cannot ever be in need of procedures of my own; with as much a blow as it is to have it done on someone who is “insured,” it would be far, far worse for me. And I am not willing to have my family suffer such a blow–or the smaller series of them that it would take to offset the single large one.

Help with the out-of-pocket maximum?

A Robin Hobb Rereading Series: Entry 167: Mad Ship, Chapter 29

Read the previous entry in the series here.
Read the next entry in the series here.

The following chapter, “Bingtown Convergence,” begins with Serilla considering the Satrap’s situation and her own among the Chalcedean fleet. She has managed to gather a fair bit of power to herself, although she yet feels the trauma of her experiences with the Chalcedean captain. She does, however, exult in being in position to command the Satrap.

No disco in Bingtown…
Source in image, used for commentary

In Bingtown, the ringing of the town bell occasions tumult as Traders’ families rush to answer its summons. One Trader reports having seen an incoming Chalcedean fleet, and the town begins to prepare against attack; Selden and Malta make to report to the bucket brigades that begin to form, and Malta muses sourly on the wasted opportunities and missed chances of her life.

Aboard the liveship Kendry, Reyn Khuprus and Grag Tenira confer. They commiserate regarding the Vestrit women they love before turning to politics. Grag voices the thought of leaving the Traders’ life behind, earning some rebuke from Reyn. Grag goes forward to confer with the liveship, and Reyn muses on his circumstances. The dragon continues to trouble him, aggravated by his having violated his agreement with his mother, and works to overwhelm his being with visions of crafted memory. The liveship on which he sails as he mulls over ancestral wrongs also regards him differently, and the crew marks the change.

Serilla greets the Bingtown fleet in the Satrap’s name and is taken aboard a liveship. After she voices her concerns for the Satrap, Restart offers her the hospitality of his home, and Serilla begins to plot against him for his assumption about her helplessness.

I am struck in the present chapter, as I perhaps ought to have been previously in the reread, by the parallels to the United States that Bingtown and the Rain Wilds offer. Both colonies long exploited for economic gain that begin to chafe under the changing terms of remote rule, both with troubled settlement and immigration histories, both based on genocide of which a great many people remain ignorant–and with other strong North American parallels, to boot–they offer an (inexact) coincidence I really ought to have noticed or remembered noticing before. And I’m sure that someone more up on colonial history than I am would have a fair bit more to say about the matter; I think it’d be an interesting read.

It’s coming up on my daughter’s birthday. Send her a present?

A Robin Hobb Rereading Series: Entry 166: Mad Ship, Chapter 28

Read the previous entry in the series here.
Read the next entry in the series here.

The next chapter, “Departure of the Paragon,” opens with Amber, Althea, and Brashen conferring about their status and that of the Paragon. They fall into an old pattern before Amber changes the subject to Lavoy, whose conduct has brought the flaws in their ill-matched crew to the fore. The ship fares little better, having reacted timorously to every change in course during sea trials, and the ship’s fear infects the crew.

Tall Ships Set Sail in Galveston at New Maritime Festival | THC.Texas.gov -  Texas Historical Commission
Pretty close…
The Elissa, from the Texas Historical Commission, which I believe makes it public domain.

Ashore, Restart conducts Ronica, Keffria, Malta, and Selden to see the Paragon off. Malta muses on the disjunction between her station’s demands and the restrictions of her family’s penury. The family greets the liveships they pass before coming before Paragon, where Brashen–now Captain Trell–greets them and welcomes them aboard. Malta considers the crew, including her aunt and Amber, and marks an exchange between the two as she remains above deck while others go below. Malta converses somewhat uneasily with Amber, unsettled by her oddness.

The Paragon is brought into the conversation and prophesies Malta’s death. She suddenly finds herself in a strange void, pulled between opposing forces and struggling to remain herself amid them. Outwardly, though, there is no show of the struggle, and onlookers think only that she is somewhat addled by the excitement of the liveship’s launch. Soon after, however, boats from the surrounding liveships are sent to help tow the Paragon out where sails can be set and the ship can get fully underway; the crew and well-wishers say goodbye to one another, and the ship leaves, sped by the Vestrits’ prayers.

As I have written the rereading entries for the Liveship Traders novels, I have found myself concerned with pronouns. More than usually, they are an issue of concern, and I find myself caught between tradition and accuracy. Traditionally, ships take feminine pronouns in English, including ships with masculine names. But this also only applies to inanimate vessels, which the liveships are not quite. Although they are not alive, as such, they do seem to have their own personalities and existences, and while sex is not necessarily a concern for the vessels–being built, the applicability of the term is questionable–gender identity certainly is. But how much of that gender identity is imposed upon the liveships by virtue of their construction–and the process of their quickening, which requires the deaths of family and is not always of a unified gender identity–and how much of it is accepted and adopted by them is unclear.

It might well be thought that I am worrying too much about the issue with the books. I can already hear objections being raised, many of which are…unkindly put. (I live and have lived where I do, with and among whom I do, and while I know stereotypes are not reality, I also know there are some folks who seem to do their damnedest to enact them. Pardner.) But I know that it is important that I get things right in the world in which I live, where people do suffer indignity from having their preferred forms of address ignored. I do not want to show disrespect in such ways, so I need to practice. How fortunate, then, that I have fiction with which to do so!

I can still use your help!

I Wish I Had This Batting Average…

If I have things figured correctly–and I may well not, I admit–this is the 1,000th entry in this blogroll. It is something of a milestone, certainly, although the kind of statistical breakdown that often accompanies such things will wait until the usual annual report I make on the blog about the blog. No, for now, it suffices to mark the occasion–something at which I do not excel, as those who know me in person know.

Such idle pasttimes…
Photo by Steshka Willems on Pexels.com

No, I am not quite so often celebratory as might be thought; I don’t generally see myself as having reason to be so, or not enough reason to set aside the time to do it as is needed. I’m happy to celebrate others, to mark their birthdays and anniversaries and achievements. Mine, though…not so much. And that is as it should be, really; it is enough for me to note that I’ve made it this far and to keep going.

I haven’t done enough yet, not by a long shot.

I do thank you, though, for reading, and I hope that you will continue to read what I write, whether my odd essay or the rereading series that is still going (and still has a long way to go). I have every intention of continuing to do the writing, whether it’s to note some new occurrence or just to keep things going along; I hope folks get some use or enjoyment out of it–or both!

Help me get to the next thousand?

A Robin Hobb Rereading Series: Entry 165: Mad Ship, Chapter 27

Read the previous entry in the series here.
Read the next entry in the series here.

A chapter titled “Kingdom’s Foundation” follows, and it opens with the Vivacia considering recent events with Kennit, her hold full and his designs in progress. The ship relishes Wintrow’s accounts of happenings ashore as Kennit tours his burgeoning fleet, but she even more relishes Kennit’s attentions to her, and she watches eagerly as he reviews the settlement at Askew, where the Fortune is harbored. Wintrow is not so sanguine when he speaks with her about Kennit’s growing governance, and the ship is somewhat put off by his skepticism of Kennit. But Wintrow absents himself from the foredeck before Kennit returns to the ship and calls upon her at the figurehead again; they confer about Etta and Wintrow before Kennit beguiles the ship with a gift.

Perhaps not quite what was intended…
Jan Steen’s Argument over a Card Game, which I believe is public domain at this point…

Wintrow and Etta confer over seized manuscripts in Wintrow’s cabin aboard the Vivacia. He has her read, and she succeeds, although she has not come to that success easily; Wintrow rehearses teaching her, which had led to some decidedly uncomfortable thoughts and conversations. But the success is elation for him, and for her.

When Kennit retires to his cabin after seeing to his cargo, he finds Etta waiting for him. When she reads to him, noting her ability and Wintrow’s advice to read more widely to practice–without guidance–he is taken aback; he intends that the two spend more time together, and the seeming completion of the assigned task of teaching Etta to read inhibits that. Kennit directs Etta to spend more time with Wintrow, to “teach him,” implying that she should offer herself to him sexually. What Etta does, instead, is begin to teach Wintrow how to fight, coming to his room in the night to give him a knife and to begin their lessons.

For someone who is as perceptive as Kennit often is, he seems in the present chapter to have woefully misjudged Etta. There is perhaps irony to be found in it, especially that he is depicted as making much of Etta being more than her background to Wintrow even as he expects she will be with Wintrow as her background suggests she should be, that he has sought to be beloved and then does not expect that others will act towards him as if they love him. This is not to say he should be pitied, of course; he should not. But it is interesting to see such a failure in Kennit, something that could be taken by a new reader as a foreshadowing of his end. Whether it is or not, this rereading may discuss–later.

New month, old request: I can still use your support.

A Robin Hobb Rereading Series: Entry 164: Mad Ship, Chapter 26

Read the previous entry in the series here.
Read the next entry in the series here.

The succeeding chapter, “Compromises,” begins with Keffria and Rache working on a dress for Malta in preparation for a formal event. Malta complies willingly enough, although she chafes at their straitened circumstances. Conversation turns to Reyn and the lack of contact from the Khuprus family, and Malta finds herself obliged to consider the fact that every man on whom she has thought to rely has abandoned her when she has had need. She determines to enter the coming event, a ball at which she will be presented as a young adult, on her own; Keffria questions the propriety, but Ronica affirms the gesture.

Jek, Althea and Amber
Uncertain cabinmates…
Jek, Althea and Amber by Lalawu29 on DeviantArt, used for commentary

Althea walks the liveship docks in Bingtown, hampered by the skirt she wears as a bare concession to propriety while in town. She and the liveship Kendry confer, the ship offering to take a message to Grag Tenira along the next run up the Rain Wild River. They confer regarding the Paragon, with the Kendry remarking that the general liveships’ opinion is that the Paragon is to blame for many of the troubles that have befallen the ship.

Althea reflects upon the work done to ready the Paragon, no small amount of it driven by Amber’s influence over various sectors of the Bingtown population. She also notes that Brashen has hired a first mate of his own choosing, a brute named Lavoy, and that she has been assigned as second mate in the meantime. Amber, too, will sail aboard the Paragon, having earned the right and been assigned as the ship’s carpenter; Jek, a woman from the Six Duchies, will also join the crew. Althea considers the strange and uncomfortable circumstances, which extend to the crew, as she boards the Paragon and reports to Lavoy. He orders her to see to stowing cargo with a crew of six; she takes it for the challenge it is, and goes below, working with her crew to arrange the incoming supplies to their best effect. She assesses the crew as she works, noting problems and bright spots, and Lavoy finds himself pleased with his subordinate’s work. When, at length, Althea is done, she reports to the captain, Brashen, noting her concerns; Brashen notes his plan to address them, with Paragon putting in darkly.

In the Rain Wilds, the Khuprus family confers, with Reyn rebuked by his older brother Bendir and Jani not entirely pleased with either. Bendir comments about the family finances, occasioning sharp comments from Reyn, in turn, and Jani steps in to reassert her authority over both of her sons. Some of the source of the Paragon‘s troubles is remarked upon; the ship was built from “mixed plank,” making it inherently unstable, and the likely over-loading of the ship by the Ludluck Traders did the rest. So is the threat of piracy coming to the Rain Wild River, with the Vivacia confirmed to be in Kennit’s hands and the Ringsgold rumored to be vanished. Reyn rages against the continued depredations of the Satrap and against Bendir’s reluctance to lead resistance. Jani, surprisingly, agrees with Reyn, and plans to foment rebellion begin. Reyn also tries to argue for access to the dragon that speaks in his mind, unsuccessfully, though an arrangement is reached that allows him some freedoms in exchange for his relinquishing claim on the last remaining wizardwood log. After Reyn agrees to the terms and departs, Jani confers with Bendir, bidding him dispose of the dragon once Reyn is away.

At night, Amber confers with the anchored Paragon. The ship voices concerns about being unable to see and asks about Amber’s work on the Ophelia‘s hands. Paragon presses Amber to recarve the figurehead into a new form that can see; she is hesitant to make the attempt, fearful of working badly or doing worse, but she agrees to consider the work.

The attitude towards blame in the present chapter is of interest. Malta notes that her father’s absence may not be his fault, but it is still felt, and she must still move away from relying on others. The liveships believe the Paragon caused the problems that befell, while the Khuprus family knows some of the blame for the ship and its situation is theirs–though they do not admit to all of it. Rereading, I am put in mind of the talk of “personal responsibility” that crops up every so often, usually when there is some motion towards addressing systemic inequities that have and have had generational impacts. And I remain uncertain how best to respond to such things, although I note that 1) not everyone has the capability of choosing well and 2) a person may well choose from a menu without being the one who sets the menu. You’re not likely to get sushi at a burger joint, after all, and if you didn’t drive…

I’ve also had to replace my computer; help offset the cost so I can keep doing this for you?

A Quiet Joke in Sedgwick’s Hope Leslie

The freelance work I have noted doing (here, here, and here) has continued, as might well be expected; I continue to have bills to pay, so I am continuing to work to earn money with which to pay them, and writing lesson plans is work congenial to my skills and talents. As I write this, I am working on a lesson plan for a work of early US literature, Catharine Maria Sedgwick’s Hope Leslie, or, Early Times in the Massachusetts. I’d heard the author’s name during my graduate coursework–one of my exam areas was early American literature–but hadn’t read the book, and I have to note that I found it a largely enjoyable read.

A portrait of Sedgwick, from the 1902
Literary Pilgrimages in New England to the Homes of Famous Makers of American Literature;
I am told the image is public domain,
and I assert that it is used for commentary.

Reading to draft a lesson plan demands reading with a particular level and type of attention; writing a lesson plan demands thinking like a teacher, and for me, thinking like a teacher works in tandem with thinking like a scholar. That is, when I taught, I did so with an eye towards helping students to find their own information in the texts they read, and that meant doing the same thing, myself. Thus, as I read, I look for little puzzles in the works I read, small puzzles from which meaning can be teased out. And, because I am the person I am and I had some success with using the approach in the past, a focus of that search is on jokes and quips of one sort or another. They stand out to me in many instances–and I go hunting for them when they do not. Sometimes, the hunt takes some doing; often, it needs but little searching to find such quarry as I would pursue. Sometimes, too, it pops up unexpectedly (although I expect to see it more often than I think most people do), and such was the case for Hope Leslie as I read it.

Some of that humor, particularly the way in which it manifests in the novel, is folded into the lesson planning; it allows for focus on particular literary techniques that I think students will benefit from investigating. But I also keep in mind that I should not be doing students’ work for them, even as I used to offer models (such as this) and now continue to indulge my own interests and inclinations by drafting the occasional essay (or something like one) that addresses one of the “little puzzles” I find in a lot of what I read. Accordingly, there is (at least) one thing that I am keeping out of the lesson plan in favor of addressing it myself, and it inheres in the name of the Fletcher family dog: Argus. That name is a lovely little bit of irony, one that offers a humorous setup for the tragedy that soon after befalls the Fletchers in the novel.

The namesake is not the dog…
The image is Jacob Jordaens’s 1620 Mercury and Argus, which I am told is public domain and which is used here for commentary.

Admittedly, “early American literature” and “humor” are not necessarily closely yoked in popular conception, with the possible exceptions of Irving and Twain. Certainly, such early American literature as treats the early Puritan colonists does not tend that way; Hawthorne and Edwards are perhaps the most frequently taught authors, and their works do not lend themselves to people rolling on the floor, laughing. Even such critics as focus on humor in such works–Pascal Covici in Humor and Revelation in American Literature: The Puritan Connection, Gregg Camfield in Necessary Madness: The Humor of Domesticity in Nineteenth-Century American Literature, and Michael Dunne in Calvinist Humor in American Literature offer examples–note the tendency to be taken aback by the emergence of humor within such works. Then again, popular conception does not tend to make much of early American literature–or any early literature, really, “that old shit” being something many folks avoid when they can (likely a result of having been taught it badly early on–but that’s a different discussion entirely).

Hope Leslie is not an exception to that, really. Again, I had not read the novel previously, and I sat for a doctoral comprehensive examination in early American literature (about which some information appears here and here); if even I did not read the book, it can hardly be thought that a great many of my contemporaries would have done so. Too, even the scholarship that focuses itself on the novel–which, again, I enjoyed reading; I commend said reading to others, as well–does not much treat its humor, although there are nods towards Bertha Grafton as being a focus for many of the in-character jokes made, as well as others towards comments about sexual and gender politics at work in the novel. But the extensive introductory notes Carolyn L. Karcher leaves in the edition of the book I read–the Penguin 1998–do not treat the topic of humor at all, and that despite being directed towards Karcher’s “students at Temple University, the imagined readers [she has] kept in mind while preparing the introduction and annotations,” a group that my experience suggests might well benefit from such attention, as would more general readers.

Springfield (The Simpsons) - Wikipedia
This one? Maybe…
The image is from The Simpsons Movie, hosted here, and is used for commentary.

That said, there are humorous bits to be found throughout the novel, not only those centering on Bertha Grafton and sexual and gender politics. One example of such appears relatively early in the book, in Volume I, Chapter IV. At that point in the novel–and it was originally published in 1827, so I think spoiler warnings no longer meaningfully apply–Everell Fletcher and Digby are on watch at the Fletchers’ estate, Bethel, which is at some distance away from the fortified village of Springfield and which has received some warning of an imminent attack by remaining members of the Pequod people, whom the colonists had driven nearly to extinction in a sneak attack perhaps a year earlier. They have reason to be wary, obviously, the more so because Digby had fought in the earlier conflict and therefore has direct experience with the people in question (and would himself be an appropriate target for revenge). Amid their wariness, the Fletchers’ dog, Argus, gives notice of having perceived some interloper; Everell calls off the dog, which then returns to where it had been sleeping and, presumably, to sleep.

The name derives from Argos Panoptes, the many-eyed watchman into whose keeping Hera gives the transformed Io. He is supposed to be ever-vigilant, although he is bored to death by the interloping Hermes; he is commemorated in the peacock’s tail. The character is therefore associated with watchfulness and (gaudy) splendor, making the assignment of his name to a sleepy Puritan hound something of an irony in itself, much on the level of calling a big person “Tiny.”

Part of humor, however, is in its layering of meanings that do not necessarily accord with one another. In the case of Argus in Hope Leslie, there is reason for watchfulness, as has been noted; the threat of attack is specific and imminent, and there is no mercurial figure to afflict the hound with fatal ennui. (Indeed, both Everell and Digby are commented upon as being steadfast, the latter with some aspersion). The dog therefore fails to live up to his namesake–partly, because Argos Panoptes faltered in his own vigil, if under much more compulsion than the dog. The failure adds another layer of meaning to the irony or enriches that inherent in the name.

For readers aware of that irony, who can find in it a bit of laughter, there is a break in the tension of the passage, something not unlike the porter scene in the Scottish play (with which Sedgwick appears to have been familiar, due to the inclusion of quotation from and reference to the same throughout the novel). Prior to the fleeting mention of the hound–it is named only thrice in the novel, and those three times are in close proximity in the text–those on watch are apprehensive in the night; immediately after, Everell confronts Magawisca, one of the last surviving Pequods and a servant in the Fletcher home, regarding the imminent attack; and not long after, Bethel is ravaged by Magawisca’s father and people, Everell abducted along with another, and several members of the Fletcher family killed. The irony offers a short-lived respite from the stress of events in the plot, highlighting the impact of the tragedy that follows by the juxtaposition–for at least some readers.

It is a small thing, perhaps, and in some senses, any such look at literature is a small thing. But it is of small things that the world is made, and even if it is small, a delight is still a delight.

No joke: I could stand a bit of help to keep doing this kind of thing.

A Robin Hobb Rereading Series: Entry 163: Mad Ship, Chapter 25

Read the previous entry in the series here.
Read the next entry in the series here.

The next chapter, “The Launch of the Paragon,” opens with Brashen reviewing the final repairs and refitting conducted on the Paragon before the ship can be floated. He mulls over the question of disciplining the vessel, which he had discussed with Amber and Althea previously; their discussion is rehearsed. Their initial foray is also rehearsed. So is the plan for floating the ship and addressing likely further repairs. Brashen assigns Althea to monitor below-decks action; Amber will remain at the figurehead to handle the strange moodiness of the ship. That done, he signals for the plans to begin, and the ship starts to move.

That’s more like it…
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

The ship is disquieted by the return to the sea; Amber works to soothe the Paragon. The ship perceives obstacles to being floated and calls them out, initially to disbelief, but soon enough to acceptance, and the work of the on-shore crew and offshore barge pull the ship out from the beach into the surf. Pumping and caulking begin in earnest. The ship is righted, exulting in being afloat again even amid the fear of unseen dangers, and secured to the work barge as timbers align, planking swells, and caulking continues. The ship’s conversation with Amber grows strained, as if Paragon is a moody boy amid the throes of puberty, and as Amber withdraws, Clef approaches and reproaches the ship.

Below decks, the pump crews are rotated. Brashen and Althea confer about progress and prospects. After, she moves off to survey the damage occasioned by re-righting the long off-kilter vessel. Berthing receives consideration, both aboard the Paragon and for the ship; Brashen purposes to put in with the other liveships, while Althea expresses concern regarding that arrangement. He acknowledges is, put means to proceed, anyway, proud captain of a ship at last.

The Paragon remains aware of what transpires on and below deck. The process of realignment continues, considered closely. The ship begins to take a peculiar pleasure in being captained once again.

The Liveship Traders series makes much of anthropomorphism, obviously. Ships speaking through the mouths carved for them, noting thoughts and feelings much like those of their crews, is a blunt instantiation of the device. The present chapter, though, seems to be a better example of it than most. Something in it rings true to me; something in the depiction of a ship exulting in returning to sailing seems somehow right to me. I know it’s silly in the sense that I should not be an affective reader, and I know it’s fraught from the perspective of a rereading that knows whereof the liveships are made in milieu. Still, I find myself thinking “Yes, that’s it!” as I read the chapter again–as I have several times elsewhere in the book and in the corpus of which it is part.

I can always use your support.

A Robin Hobb Rereading Series: Entry 162: Mad Ship, Chapter 24

Read the previous entry in the series here.
Read the next entry in the series here.

The succeeding chapter, “The Ringsgold,” begins with the serpents Maulkin and Shreever regarding their growing tangle. More serpents come to join them; some remain feral, some regain identities, and some languish between the two states. They confer about their progress and their needs; they also confer about “the silver provider” that has confused and assailed them. Conversation among the serpents leads to the idea that such as “the silver provider” have forgotten themselves much as many of the serpents had, and they purpose to make one such return to itself as they had to themselves.

Sea serpent.jpg
Something like this, maybe?
Woodcut from the 1555 History of the Northern Peoples by Olaus Magnus; I’m pretty sure it’s public domain.

The attempt goes poorly. Despite the serpents’ imprecations and assaults, the ship they pursue gives no sign of knowing them. The serpents drag the ship under, killing the crew–but reawakening the dragon within the wizardwood ship, which claims to speak with the voices of the dead. The ship tells what it knows of its history and the cataclysm that led to its situation. It asks to be consumed by the surrounding serpents, ended thus and freed from the torment and enslavement it has learned it suffers. The serpents oblige, and memories flood into them–including, for Shreever, memories of flight.

As before, the interludes focusing on the serpents serve to remind readers that other intelligences than human inhabit the Realm of the Elderlings’ milieu. The confirmation in the present chapter of the nature of wizardwood and the liveships is striking, perhaps, although, if memory serves, it has been amply foreshadowed by this point in the series. What it portends for the other liveships that have featured in the novels, the Vivacia and the Paragon, will be worth attention as the reread continues…

We’re still handling medical expenses and could use your help.


Crappy as the job is
A certain satisfaction springs forth
When the remains of golden showers are rinsed away
And a second course is scrubbed out
Pumice pushing the pieces away
To dribble down the drain

Not quite this nice, no.
Photo by Karolina Grabowska on Pexels.com

There are some, of course, who swiftly say
Such labors must be kept away
From the view of those who pay
And that they should not do them
But they are fools not to be heeded;
The work is worthy, and it’s needed
By all who are on that throne seated,
And pay-signers sit among them.

I know we’re not alone in facing high cost of care. Still, if you can help…