Monday, December 29, 2008

And one more...

Another chapter done - seven more to go, plus a short one. If only I had another month's vacation...

Blogging will resume on a regular schedule next week.

-GRG

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Nadolig Llawen / Merry Christmas

Yma o hyd, a dw i'n wedi gorffen pennod arall - 22 nawr. Gobeithio allaf i orffen dau mwy cyn i Ddydd Gwyl Ystwyll.

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Still here, and I've finished another chapter - 22 now. Hopefully I can finish two more before 12th Night.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Writing not blogging

I've been writing, not blogging, in my free time lately. Finished another chapter today - that's 21/30, 70% according to my tracking spreadsheet. More details as always on the side bar under "Ash Spear".

Oh, yes... Happy Winter Solstice!

-GRG

Friday, December 12, 2008

web reviews and other book news

Googling this morning on my books as I do from time to time, I came across a new review of Storyteller. Take a look!

Leo Stableford also has some kind words about Flight of the Hawk here (about half way down the post).

Finally, looking ahead, I will be doing an on-line author chat on LibraryThing between January 26 and February 9. You have to have a LibraryThing account to post to the chat, but this is quick, easy and free, and I think you can read posts without one. I'll put up more information when it gets closer. (Warning: spending time on this site can lead to serious book-buying!)

-GRG

Monday, December 8, 2008

Eira eto / Snow again

Mae hi'n bwrw eira heno. Maen nhw'n dweud a bydden ni'n cael 2-5 o fodfedd. Dw i'n meddwl dyn ni wedi cael 2 fodfedd yn barod. Bydd y gyrru dim yn dda bore 'fory.

Ddoe a heddiw roeddwn i'n ysgrifennu eto. Dw i'n gweithio ar bennod 20 nawr -- mae hi'n hanner gwneud. Mae pethau yn symud yn gyflymach nawr. Gobeithio alla i wneud lawer o ysgrifennu dros Nadolig.

Mae hi'n edrych fel Nadolig tu allan nawr...
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It's snowing here tonight. They say we will get 2-5 inches. I think we've got 2 inches already. The driving won't be good tomorrow morning.

Yesterday and today I was writing again. I'm working on chapter 20 now -- it's half done. Things are moving faster now. Hopefully I can do a lot of writing over Christmas.

It looks like Christmas outside now...

-GRG

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Cynnydd / Progress

Dim postio dros y penwythnos acos roeddwn i'n ysgrifennu. Mi orffenais i bennod arall yfory -- dw i'n wedi bron gorffen rhan y haf o'r llyfr. Roedd sawl rhannau yn anodd ei ysgrifennu, ond bydd y rhan nessaf yn hawsa, gobeithio. Mi gawson ni fwy o eira Dydd Sadwrn a Dydd Sul, pan roeddwn i'n ceisio ysgrifennu am Fis Mehefin...
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No posting over the weekend because I was writing. I finished another chapter -- I have almost finished the summer part of the book. Some parts were hard to write, but the next part will be easier, I hope. We got more snow Saturday and Sunday when I was trying to write about July...

-GRG

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Mwy o eira / More snow

Dwy neu tair fodfedd o eira dros y nos -- yn hyfryd iawn, ond dw i'n falch roedd hi ddim wedi cyrraedd bore ddoe. Heddiw bydda i'n ysgrifennu, dim garddio. Neithiwr orffenais i bennod 18 o'r diwedd -- ymlaen!
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Two or three inches of snow overnight -- very pretty, but I'm glad it didn't arrive yesterday morning. Today I will be writing, not gardening. Last night I finished chapter 18 at last -- onward!

-GRG

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Monday, November 24, 2008

A new review for "Flight of the Hawk"


This evening I wandered by Odyssey Reviews and was delighted to find a new review for Flight of the Hawk. Take a look, and also see what she had to say about Storyteller last year.

-GRG

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Dod o hyd i'r plot / finding the plot

Mae heddiw yn ddydd dim yn gynnes, dim yn oer iawn -- dydd mwyn a sych. Y bore 'ma roeddwn i'n meddwl am y llyfr newydd -- yn arbennig, ble dylai'r stori fynd yn nesaf. Mae'r llyfr yn cwympo yn fras yn dair rhan -- rhannau y gwanwyn, yr haf, a'r hydref. Pan dechrais i, roedd gen i syniad cyfredinol am beth fyddai'n digwedd, ond heb lawer o fanylion. Roedd y rhan fwyaf rhan y gwanwyn yn syndod i mi, ond dyma beth sy'n digwydd pan mae Neirin yn y stori! Roedd gen i syniad am beth dylai digwydd yn rhan yr haf, a dw i wedi ysgrifennu mwy na hanner ohono ar hyn o bryd. A mae gen i syniad da beth fydd yn digwydd yn rhan y hydref. Ond dw i wedi bod yn sylweddoli yn ddiweddar bod un neu dwy broblem mynd o rhan yr haf i rhan y hydref. Treulias i'r bore yn meddwl am y pethau hyn. Gobeithio dw i wedi eu datrys nhw nawr!
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Today is neither warm nor very cold - a mild, dry day. This morning I was thinking about the new book -- in particular, where the story should go next. The book falls roughly in three parts -- spring, summer, and autumn. When I started, I had a general idea of what would happen, but without much detail. The greater part of the spring section was a surprise to me, but this is what happens when Neirin is in the story! I had an idea what should happen in the summer section, and I have written more than half of that now. And I have a good idea what will happen in the autumn section. But I have been realizing lately that there are one or two problems going from the summer section to the autumn. I spent the morning thinking about these things. Hopefully I have solved them now!

-GRG

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Tipyn bach mwy o ysgrifennu / a little more writing

Gwnes i dipyn bach mwy o ysgrifennu dros y penwythnos - dim ond hanner pennod, ond dydy hon dim yn ddrwg wedi toriad. Roedd y gwaith heddiw darn o fardoniaeth, cerdd a gafodd ei ganu gan Gwernin yn y stori. Dw i wedi bod yn ysgrifennu gerddi o dro i dro yn y stori, fel yn y dau llyfr cyntaf. Gobeithio galla i orffen y pennod hon cyn bo hir. Mae'r gaeaf yn well na'r haf i ysgrifennu; mae hi yn haws aros tu mewn ac ysgrifennu pan mae'r tywyll yn oer.
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I did a bit more writing over the weekend - only half a chapter, but this is not bad after a break. Today's work was a piece of poetry, a song Gwernin sang in the story. I have been writing poems from time to time in the story, as in the first two books. Hopefully I can finish this chapter before long. Winter is better than summer for writing; it's easier to stay inside and write when the weather is cold.

-GRG

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Eira cyntaf / first snow

Mi gawson ni ein eira cyntaf ddoe - yn hwyr iawn am eira cyntaf yn Denver. Gawson ni tua modfedd, a mae'r rhan mwyaf wedi adael nawr - dim ond tipyn bach ar ol yn y cysgodion. Ond mae hi'n arwydd arall bod y gaeaf wedi cyrraedd. Mae pob y nosau yn hir ac yn rhewllyd, ac os cawn ni ddydd cynnes, bydd acos mae mwy o dywyll oer yn dod. A dyma fi yn ceisio ysgrifennu am yr haf...
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We got our first snow yesterday - very late for a first snow in Denver. We got about an inch, and most of it has gone now - only a little bit left in the shadows. But it's another sign that winter has arrived. All the nights are long and frosty, and if we get a warm day, it will be because more cold weather is coming. And here am I trying to write about summer...

-GRG

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

More about Dafydd ap Gwilym

This past weekend I gave a presentation on Dafydd ap Gwilym for a group, and thought I would put up a list of selected references here.

Dafydd ap Gwilym: Poems edited and translated by Rachel Bromwich. This is so far as I know the only bilingual edition which exists, with Welsh/English facing pages of the poems and Bromwich's translations. Its annoying features are that it does not include the full cannon, and the poems included are grouped by topics, making it (for me) harder to find a specific poem.

Dafydd ap Gwilym: his poems by Gwyn Thomas. A relatively brief introduction followed by annotated English translations of the complete poems in the order followed by Parry's Welsh edition. No Welsh except as examples in the introduction. Amazon lists this as not yet available; their link appears to be a reprinting of the 2001 edition I have.

Gwaith Dafydd Ap Gwilym edited by Thomas Parry. This is the standard Welsh edition (no English).

Aspects of the Poetry of Dafydd ap Gwilym: Collected Papers by Rachel Bromwich. A collection of articles by Bromwich on Dafydd and his poetry.

These are the books I would recommend to someone seriously interested in Dafydd's work. In addition there a number of other translations of selected poems, either by themselves or in anthologies. If there's interest I could list these in another post.

-GRG

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Mae'r dail yn mynd / the leaves are going

Penwythnos diweddaf, roedd dail y goeden ceirios yn llosgi mor fflamgoch ac aur a tan yn y haulwen, ond heddiw mae nhw wedi mynd, cael eu chwythu nhw i ffordd ar y gwynt. Roedden ni wedi cael lawer o wynt y wythnos 'ma, gwynt oer, a gafodd y mynyddoed eira. Dydd Mawrth roedd y "gyfraith gadwyn" i rym yn y bylchau uchel acos o'r eira. Ond dydyn ni ddim wedi cael eira yma yn Denver eto. Mae'n dda bod y dail yn mynd - bydd ddim lawer o goed yn cael eu anufu nhw pan cyraedd yr eira o'r diwedd. Ond mae yr ardd yn tipyn tywyllach acos o'u fynd.

Mi nes i gorffen pennod arall y wythnos diweddaf hefyd - mae'r rhifau ar y "sidebar" fel arfer.

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Last weekend, the leaves of the cherry tree were burning as flame-red and gold as fire in the sunshine, but today they are gone, blown away on the wind. We've had a lot of wind this week, cold wind, and the mountains got snow. Tuesday the "chain law" was in effect in the high passes because of the snow. But we haven't had snow yet in Denver. It's good that the leaves are gone - there won't be much tree damage when the snow arrives at last. But the garden is a little darker for their going.

I finished another chapter last week - the numbers are on the "sidebar" as usual.

-GRG

Monday, November 3, 2008

Tipyn o Saesneg heddiw / a little English today

Today I'm taking a break from my bilingual blogging to post another excerpt from Storyteller - this time from the afterword, in response to a question about sources. Fear not (or fear?), my bilingual approach will be back later in the week...
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The 6th century in Britain is in some ways the darkest part of the European Dark Ages. As direct evidence of people and events in this period, we have a handful of poems, a few historical references in accounts written 200 years or more later, and a set of genealogies of doubtful value. In addition, there is a growing body of archaeological material, some of which contradicts (or at least fails to support) the above sources. In attempting to write a series of somewhat historical stories based in this period, the prospective author must leap from rock to rock, occasionally walking on water in between. Inevitably there will be some splashes.

For those who care about such details, then, the following summary is provided. Actual physical locations (i.e., towns, forts, roads, etc.) are based on archaeological reports where available, but details (buildings, general appearance) of these places at the time of the story are speculative or wholly invented. Territorial units such as kingdoms fall in this category as well; there are no maps of Wales or of the lands of the Men of the North from the 6th century. Most of the kings or princes are at best names in a poem, history, or genealogy, and their characters (to say nothing of their appearances) are largely inferred from their reported actions. Five of the more important bards are listed (as names only) in Historia Britannica; from two of them — Taliesin and Neirin (later called Aneirin)—we have poetry as well, although the degree to which these poems may have mutated during oral transmission is debatable. This poetry, incidentally, provides a large amount of the detail for material and social culture in the courts of the time.

Finally, a word on the magical or supernatural element in some of these stories. Many of the "supernatural" characters encountered by Gwernin, especially in the first part of this book, derive from the collection of Welsh medieval tales called the Mabinogion, and especially the section called the Four Branches. In a time and place where there was no clearly perceived distinction between spirit world and "real" world, I submit that these characters would have seemed, to a person in touch with their stories, to have as much "reality" as many of the "historical" ones. Indeed, so I have found it myself on some of my own journeys through Britain, over 1400 years later.

-GRG

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Adolygiad newydd / a new review

Mi gafodd Storyteller newydd ei adolygu ar y gwefa Powell’s ddoe. Roedd o’n adolygiad arddercog, yn dda ei ysgrifennu ac yn mewnweledol. Mae yr adolygwr, Carrie Uffindell, yn codi y pwynt bod y taith Gwernin yn yr hanner cyntaf Storyteller yn debeg â’r taith Gerallt Gymro yn yr ddeuddefed ganrif. Dyma’n wir, ond dweud y gwir, roeddwn i wedi angofio am Gerallt: mae y taith Gwernin tebeg â’r taith bues i newydd gwneud cyn i fi ysgryfennu i’r cwedlau cyntaf Gwernin. Efallai mae yn glocwell y ffordd arferol mynd o gympas Gymru!

Y wythnos diwedda dw i wedi bod yn darllen am Gymro arall enwog – Dafydd ap Gwilym. Roedd Dafydd yn fardd Cymreig enwogaf y bedwaredd ganrif ar ddeg – wedi Taliesin ac Aneirin, y bardd enwogaf yr hanes Gymru. Roedd o’n meistr dros ben o’r ffurf barddonol sy’n gael ei alw e’r cywydd. Nid fyddai e’n amhosibl ei gyfiathu, byddai e efaillai mor enwog â Chaucer, pwy buodd yn byw yn yr un canrif. Dw i wedi bod yn darllen am Dafydd oherwydd bydda i'n rhoi darleth amdano fo penwythnos nesaf – ond mae hon yn chwedl am ddiwrnod arall.
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Storyteller got a new review on Powell’s website yesterday. It was an excellent review, well written and insightful. The reviewer, Carrie Uffindell, raises the point that Gwernin’s journey in the first half of Storyteller is similar to that of Gerald of Wales in the 12th century. This is true, but to tell the truth I had forgotten about Gerald: Gwernin’s journey is like the journey I had just made before writing the first of the Gwernin stories. Maybe clockwise is the normal way to go around Wales!

For the last week I have been reading about another famous Welshman – Dafydd ap Gwilym. Dafydd was the most famous Welsh poet of the 14th century – after Taliesin and Aneirin, the most famous poet in Welsh history. He was the greatest master of the form of poetry called the cywydd. If it weren’t impossible to translate him, he would possibly be as famous as Chaucer, who lived in the same century. I have been reading about Dafydd because I will be giving a talk about him next weekend – but that is a story for another day.

-GRG

Monday, October 27, 2008

Dail hydref / autumn leaves


Dim lawer i ddweud heddiw - mwy yfory, efallai. Dw i wedi bod yn brusur ysgrifenu, gweithio yn yr ardd, cymryd lluniau...
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Not a lot to say today - more tomorrow, maybe. I've been busy writing, working in the garden, taking photos...

-GRG

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Bod yn ddau lle ar unwaith / Being in two places at once

Y wythnos hon mi gwrddodd yr dosbarthiadau canolradd a uwchraddol (lefel 2 a lefel 3) fel un, oherwydd nid allodd yr athro lefel 2, Elis Owens, mynychu. Yn hytrach na fy mhynd o’r un grwp i’r llall, mi benderfynais i gyfuno y ddau mewn “dosbarth i gyd”. Mi ddarparais i daflen a roedd yn cynnwys sawl testun ymddiddanol a ffurfiau brawddegol, ac mi es i trwyddo yn gyntaf gan yr canolraddau. Wedyn, mi dreuliais i ryw prid gan y grwp i gyd, yn holi cwestiynau i pobl yng Nhgymraeg, ac yn cael atebion yn yr un iaith – pethau siml fel "beth gwneuthoch chi dros y penwythnos?" ac "sut roedd y tywydd ddoe?" Wedi roedd pawb yn barod, ymrannais i’r dosbarth mewn dau grwp ac gadawais i iddyn nhw mynd ati gan gael sqyrsiau gan eu gilydd, tra symudais i’n ôl ac i ffordd yn gwrando ac ryw pryd yn cydroddi.

Roedd pawb bod yn debyg i gael hwyl, a dw i’n meddwl bod ceisio helpu ei gilydd yn siared a deall torrodd i lawr yn tipyn bach y nervusrwydd sy’n ymosod pawb sy’n canolpwnt y sylw pan mae’r athro yn holi cwestiwn iddyn nhw. Awgrymodd un o’r canolraddau wedi hyn a ddylwn i trefnu y grypiau tro nesaf fel bod y pobl yn leai brofiadol sy’n cael holi y cwestiyniau, a’r lleill sy’n rhaid iddyn nhw deall ac ateb – syniad da, dw i’n meddwl!
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This week the intermediate and advanced classes (level 2 and level 3) met as one, since the level 2 teacher, Elis Owens, wasn't able to attend. Rather than my bouncing back and forth between the two groups, I decided to combine them in a "dosbarth i gyd" - a class of the whole. I provided a handout containing some conversational topics and sentence templates, and went through it first with the intermediates. Then I spent some time with the whole group, asking questions to individuals in Welsh and getting answers in the same language - simple things like "what did you do over the weekend?" and "how was the weather yesterday?" After everyone was warmed up, I split the class into two groups (each containing intermediates and beginners) and let them get on with having Welsh conversations among themselves, while I moved back and forth monitoring and sometimes contributing.

Everyone seemed to have a good time, and I think trying to help each other speak and understand broke down somewhat the nervousness that attacks anyone who's the focus of attention when the teacher asks them a question. One of the intermediates suggested afterwards that I set the groups up next time so it's the less experienced people who get to ask the questions, and the others who have to understand what they've heard and answer -- a good idea, I think!

-GRG

Monday, October 20, 2008

Penwythnos cynnes olaf? / Last warm weekend?

Mae'r hydref yn llithro yn araf i ffordd. Roedd y penwythnos diwethaf yn cynnes ac yn hefryd, gan deil bron pob coeden wedi eu troi i felyn neu fflamgoch neu aur. Yn fuan byddan nhw yn hedfan ar y gwynt, ac yn syrthio i'r ddaear. Dyn ni'n cael rhew bron bob nos nawr, a mae lawer planhigion yr haf wedi marw. Ddoe mi torres i i lawr y planhigion tomatoes olaf, a roedd yn barod wedi marw. Mae gen i o hyd lawer o domatoes coch a gwyrdd yn y garaj a squash yn y gegin, a mae'r wynwyn gwyrdd yn dal i dyfu yn yr ardd llysiau, ond mae popeth arall wedi gorffen. Mor gyflam mae'r tymor wedi mynd!

Ddim ysgrifenu dros y penwythnos - roedden ni Dydd Sadwrn yn digwyddiad SCA, ac ddoe roeddwn i'n gweithio yn yr ardd. Gobeithio bydd y penwythnos nesaf yn wahanol!
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Autumn is slipping slowly away. Last weekend was warm and beautiful, with the leaves of almost all the trees having turned yellow or flame-red or gold. Soon they will be flying on the wind, and falling to the earth. We are getting frost almost every night now, and many of the summer plants have died. Yesterday I cut down the last tomatoe plants, which were already dead. I have still lots of red and green tomatoes in the garage and squash in the kitchen, and the green onions are still growing in the vegetable garden, but everything else is done. So quickly the season has gone!

No writing over the weekend - we were at an SCA event Saturday, and yesterday I was working in the garden. Hopefully next weekend will be different!

-GRG

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Noswaith oer arall / another cold night

Roedd neithiwr yn noswaith oer arall. Y bore 'ma roedd rhew trwm ym mbobman - ar fyn nhryc, ar y glaswellt, a'r blodau. Roedd ia trwchus ar y bath adar am yr ail tro.
Pan cyrraeddes i gartref ddoe, roedd y planhigion tomatoes wedi marw. Bydd rhaid i mi eu tynnu nhw penwythnos nesaf. Roedd popeth yn y "cold-frame" a dan y blastig yn iawn.

Dw i wedi bod yn meddwl, fel gwnaf i ambell waith, sut roedd yr hydref i pobl yn yr oesoedd canol. Buodd yr haf wedi mynd, gan ei frwythiau a'i tywedd braf, a buodd y gaeaf yn dod yn fuan - amser tywyll, oer, a chaled. Roedd yr hydref yr cyfle olaf dathlu - pen draw yr hanner golau y flwyddyn.

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Last night was another cold night. This morning there was heavy frost everywhere - on my truck, on the grass, and on the flowers. There was thick ice on the birdbath for the second time. When I came home yesterday, the tomato plants were dead. I'll have to pull them up next weekend. Everything in the cold-frame and under the plastic was fine.

I have been thinking, as I do sometimes, how autumn was for people in the middle ages. Summer was gone, with its fruits and its fine weather, and winter was coming soon - a dark, cold and hard time. The autumn was the last opportunity to celebrate - the end of the light half of the year.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Penwythnos oer / a cold weekend

Roedd y tywydd yn oer yma Dydd Sadwrn a Dydd Sul - cymylau, man glaw, a gwynt bach cas o'r gogledd. Mi tynnais i'r tomatoes olaf - y rhan mwyaf ohonyn nhw yn dal yn wyrdd -a'r ciwcymers a'r basil, a rhoi amrhyw plantigion yn y "cold-frame". Y bore 'ma mae popeth yn yr ardd llysiau wedi rhewi. Mae gan dail y tomatoes cot ia clir a thrychus, yn edrych fel dwr - ond dwr sych a chaled. Efallai mae'r squash yn dal yn byw dan ei phabell blastig - wn i ddim. Mae'r haf wedi mynd yn wir.

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The weather was cold here Saturday and Sunday - clouds, drizzle, and a nasty little wind from the north. I picked the last tomatoes - the greater part of them still green - and the cucumbers and the basil, and put some plants in the cold-frame. This morning everything in the vegetable garden is frozen. The tomato leaves have a thick clear coat of ice, looking like water - but dry hard water. Maybe the squash is still alive under its plastic tent - I don't know. Summer has gone indeed.

-GRG

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Summer's Gone / Mae'r Haf Wedi Mynd

Mae'r haf wedi mynd. Y bore 'ma pan mi ddes i allan o'r ty, welais i bod ni wedi cael rhew trwm dros nos. Roeddwn i wedi gorcuddio y tomatoes olaf a'r squash, ond wn i ddim os ydyn nhw wedi goroesi. Does dim ots, yn wir, oherwydd bydd mwy o rew yn cyrraedd Dydd Sadwrn - ac efallai, tipyn o eira! Mae'r hydref yma nawr!

(Dim ysgrifenu dros y Sul, dim ond garddio. Gobeithio, mi fydda' i'n gwneud mwy y penwythnos nesa'.)
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Summer's gone. This morning when I came out of the house, I saw we'd had a heavy frost overnight. I had covered the last tomatoes and the squash, but I don't know if they have survived. It doesn't matter, really, because more frost will arrive Saturday - and possibly a bit of snow! Autumn is here now!

(No writing this weekend, only gardening. Hopefully I'll get more done next weekend.)

-GRG

Friday, October 3, 2008

Busy week

Lots of this and that going on. Last weekend I finished another chapter of The Ash Spear, which makes 16 so far of an estimated 30 - figures on the sidebar as usual. Also Welsh classes started this week, and as a result I've been busy setting up a mailing list group and a blog for the class.

The garden is winding down, and I think we will probably have frost Sunday or Monday night - time to pick the rest of the tomatoes, protect the squash, and start moving semi-hardly plants into the cold frame for the winter. Then comes the garden clean-up... In and around this activity I hope to be writing more this weekend - the story is moving into a new phase, which should be interesting.

But that's another post.

-GRG

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Another Autumn Day...


Another bright September morning. I'm supposed to be writing, but the sunshine in the garden keeps luring me outside. The asters are blooming as always at this time of year, and the bees and I are both enjoying them in our different ways.

Less writing progress this week due to various interruptions, but with luck I'll get another chapter done this weekend. In the meantime, I thought I would start occasionally including random bits from the first two books in this blog. The first sample is from the beginning of "Flight of the Hawk".
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It began on a bright spring evening two days before Beltane. The birds were singing passionately in the new-leafed trees; the cattle were lowing in the green fields outside the court; and I and my girl Rhiannedd were seated on a rough wooden bench close by Cyndrwyn’s mead-hall, passing some moments pleasantly enough until it was time to go inside for dinner. I had my arm around her slender waist, and was just about to kiss her, when we were interrupted by the sound of approaching horses. Into the muddy courtyard there rode three men, and two of them, to my astonishment, were familiar to me. The slight, dark man in the lead, Taliesin Ben Beirdd himself, I would know, I think, at the world’s end—always supposing that he himself wished it!—and his apprentice Neirin mab Dwywei’s dark red hair and lean build were hard to disguise by any light. The third man, a fair-haired youth who rode behind them and led their packhorses, was a stranger to me...
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Back to work now -- or maybe back to the garden!

-GRG

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Nol i'r Cymraeg - Back to Welsh!

Mae'r hydref yma, a mae'r dosbarthiadau Cymraeg yn ail-dechrau yn fuan. Mae'r Colorado Welsh Society (CWS) yn eu cynnig nhw bob blwydden. Eleni bydd tri lefel gyda ni - dechreuwyr, canolradd, ac uwchraddol. Bydd y dosbarthiadau yn dechrau am yr 30ed Medi.

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Autumn is here, and Welsh classes are starting again soon. The Colorado Welsh Society (CWS) holds them every year. This year we will have three levels - beginners, intermediate, and advanced. The classes will start on September 30.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Equinox

We celebrated the equinox with a tomato harvest. A number of the small-tomato type plants -- Isis, Red Pear, Purple Russian, Green Zebra, and two of the Red Zebra / Speckled Romans -- were done for the season, so we picked the usable fruit and cleaned up the beds. The Red Zebra and Striped Roman next to the corn are still carrying a lot of green fruit, so we left them to get on with it. We also picked all the big Hillbillys and Brandywines that were ripe. We had one of those along with corn and squash from the garden for the vegetable part of our celebration feast. And yesterday I canned ten pints of tomatoes! This has been a very gradual autumn in Denver -- still no frost, although it's been close a couple of times -- and we're now having the sort of warm, dry weather that we usually get after all the tomato plants are dead. Don't know how long it will last.

On the writing front, things are still going well: I finished chapter 15 today -- half the projected total -- and started the next. Figures on the sidebar as always.

Happy equinox!

-GRG

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Previews

For those of you who haven't read Storyteller and Flight of the Hawk yet, I thought I would point out that there are limited previews for both books on Google Books as well as the "search inside" previews on amazon. The links are here and here. I don't know what percentage of the text it will let you read, but it should be a good equivalent to flipping through the physical book.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Tomato harvest...


Remember those little tomato seedlings in the cold frame last spring? Most of them did rather well -- especially the Hillbillys. I've canned 9 pints already and will be doing more this weekend, when we celebrate the Equinox with some garden harvesting activity.

And I've got 3 pages written so far of Chapter 15.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

More harvest...


I've been eating some of my multi-colored corn as sweet corn this year. As long as the colors are pale, as in the picture, it's still good that way. The old ear beside it (from last year) shows the sort of colors the mature corn develops.

On the writing front, I've finally finished infamous chapter 14 and know where I'm going with the next few -- progress at last! Yay! Updated statistics are on the sidebar.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Harvest month is here


Only three apples this year. I think it's a pollination problem, so I've planted another variety nearby. Maybe next year I'll have enough for a pie!

On the writing front, things have finally got unstuck, and I hope to be finishing chapter 14 soon.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Free and Inexpensive

Just a reminder that my two poetry collections, Guernen Sang It and Guernen Sang Again, are free to download (and share) on my Lulu page. Also, pdf versions of Storyteller and Flight of the Hawk are available there inexpensively for those needing a budget solution. Finally, I will provide pdf copies of Storyteller free to anyone interested in writing an on-line review.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Book Reviews

Yes, I'm still here; no, writing is not going well at the moment. I'm stuck in chapter 14, and keep finding other things to do. Such as writing book reviews... so here are two short ones. I'm linking to LibraryThing now instead of direct to Amazon - check it out!
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Early Irish Farming (Early Irish law series)by Fergus Kelly, 1997, 770 pages.

An outstanding source of information on early Ireland, this book (based on the irish laws) covers far more than farming. Chapter headings include: Livestock; offenses by/against domestic animals; accidents, diseases, etc; crops; hunting and gathering; diet and cooking; farm layout; land-tenure; farm labour; tools and technology; and a number of appendices and indexes. Highly recommended to anyone interested in early Ireland.
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From Medieval to Modern Wales by R. R. Davies, 2004, University of Wales Press, 256 pages.

Medieval chapters include: the medieval Welsh world-view; the identity of 'Wales' in the 13th century; mobility and marriage in a border society; the interpretation of late medieval houses in Wales (=all post-1400). Also includes chapters on renaissance/modern topics. I got this book through interlibrary loan and found it interesting. I'm not sure I'm going to buy it, though, since a lot of it concerns post-medieval things and it's not cheap ($49.95 on amazon). The chapter on houses is pretty good, with some nice diagrams. What I found most interesting, however, is that although they have now found several hundred houses in Wales that are at least partially medieval, none of the wooden ones dated by tree rings are earlier than 1420 - all post Glyndwr's Rebellion!
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As to what the problem is with chapter 14 ... that's another post.

-GRG

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Writing, Reading...

I'm writing again on The Ash Spear, and that means reading as well: more specifically, research, dipping into various books as I go. In response to a "What are you reading now?" thread on LibraryThing, I put up a short list of books I'd consulted in the last week, and thought readers of this blog might be interested, too.

In no particular order, then: The Picts and the Scots at War; Welsh Military Institutions, 633-1283; Blood Red Roses: The Archaeology of a mass grave from the Battle of Towton AD 1461 (an interlibrary loan, mostly interesting for discussion of battle injuries); Gwynedd: A Guide to Ancient and Historic Wales; An Atlas of Roman Britain; The Roman Cavalry; Dictionary of the Place-Names of Wales (a new acquistion); Armour from the Battle of Wisby 1361 (another interlibrary loan, ditto); The Law of Hywel Dda; The Welsh King and His Court.

As you can guess, there is probably fighting involved!

-GRG

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Summer's End

The end of July – Gorffennaf, or Summer’s End, in Welsh – was hot. A long, record-breaking string of days with highs in the low to middle 90's (low 30's C), with little rain, and not as much overnight cooling as one would wish, culminated in three days in the low 100’s on Lammas weekend. Nothing like the brutal string of 100+ F days we had two summers ago, but still above the seasonal average. This is the time in Denver when the peak of the summer heat has usually passed, and heavy afternoon thunderstorms begin to give us some welcome moisture – but not this year.

Last weekend my neighborhood finally got lucky in the thunderstorm department, with a heavy downpour on Friday night which had the streets here running full and negated the need to water for a while. The cooler weather persuaded the squash to start setting again – they had stopped for a while in the peak of the heat – and now we have squash and tomatoes in abundance. The late-summer Farmer’s Market has corn – mine won’t be ready for a couple of weeks yet – and the early peaches and plums from the Western Slope are in. Melons from the Rocky Ford district – locally famous for them – and all the other vegetables and fruit you could want, harvest time in abundance.

This weekend the weather is strange. It’s been raining on and off since Thursday night, and cold – not over 50 here yesterday! There are thunderstorms embedded in it, rumbling around from time to time with heavier downpours, but on the whole the pattern is more like a winter storm, the kind that dumps a foot or two of snow on us. This wouldn’t be so remarkable in early September, but it doesn’t belong in August. Summer’s end indeed!

New stuff on the sidebar: an update on the Ash Spear – I’ve finally got a little more written; a Middle Welsh translation site just starting up; and two or three new blog links, including two sites that blog in Welsh here and here.

I’m off to the Farmer’s Market now as soon as the cats come in, and then back to writing.

Later update: the Farmer's Market was wet - many of the usual vendors didn't come, and some were packing up early. And I now have over 3 inches of water in my improvised rain gauge - in 36 hours! But I bought Montana cherrries at the market, and am presently going to warm up the kitchen by making jam.

-GRG

Monday, July 21, 2008

Cadair Eisteddfod Cymdeithas Madog



As I mentioned in May, Cwrs Cymraeg Cymdeithas Madog has an eisteddfod - a literary competition in Welsh - at the end of the course each year. The winner of the upper division competition wins the Chair - Cadair Eisteddfod Cymdeithas Madog. It's a traveling prize - he or she has to give it back in time for next year's course - but one much desired. The chair itself stands 14.5 inches tall. Its design is based on that of the chair given at the National Eisteddfod of Wales in 1988, and it was made by the same craftsman, using a piece of oak from a house over 600 years old. This year I won it for the first time, using the bardic name "Hebog". My entry is shown below, followed by a fairly literal translation. There are a few errors in the Welsh, but I have let them stand for now. The round thing in front of the chair in the picture is an engraved piece of slate from North Wales, which carries the name of the course and the year; and this I get to keep.


PONTYDD

“A fo ben, bid bont.” Gwerthfawr
ydyw’r geiriau’r hen gawr.
Nid i ŵr gwan bach ydyw
gario llwyth sydd bod yn lyw.
Dros ei gorff ei hun cerddant
a’i waed goch torriff eu chwant.

Brenin uchel un dydd daeth
o Iwerddon, gan arfaeth
trwy briodi morwyn lan
codi bont dros môr llydan.
Bendigeidfran gan ei chwaer
gwnaeth y bont – bu’n bensaer.
Branwen brydferth byddai’n gref,
gan ei gŵr elai adref.
Ond yr oedd hi’n aberth prid:
Yn eu pont yr oedd gwendid.
Bron â collwyd holl eu hedd:
daeth Efnissien i’r gwledd.

Torrodd sylfaen wan eu gwaith,
ond nid oeddynt heb obaith.
Am atgeweirio’r bont sâl
talodd Brân iddo iawndal.
Aeth heb bryder dros y don
y pâr priod i Iwerddon.
Ond parhâi, wedi’r hen ddig,
craciau dwfn anweledig.

A pwy oedd dechreuodd sôn
am y tal yr ebolion?
A pwy cymhellodd y gred
rhaid gosbi gwraig ddiniwed?
Ef yr oedd gan gelwydd hon
torrodd teyrnas Iwerddon.
Ond ys bai i’r brenin ffôl
am ei farn gamsyniol.

Bob dydd cosbodd cigydd cas
Branwen gan bonclust diflas.
Dagrau hallt ar ei boch fain
syrthient yn boeth heb udain.
Cloesid pyrth yr wlad i gyd;
bu dim dianc o’i thristlyd.
Dan y dŵr heb lef heb don
cwympasai’r bont yn ddison.

Wedi amser, neges daeth
i Brân am ei chaethwasaeth.
I’r orllewin hirbell las
edrychodd, a galanas
bu’n ei feddwl – llifoedd gwaed
talai am boen ei gydwaed.
Nid oedd nawr bont – croesi’r môr,
bai’n rhaid iddo bod blaenor,
a cherdded trwy’r dyfnder mawr
yn tynnu’i longau llwythfawr.

Gwelodd Gwyddelod ei ben
gan ddial ar ei dalcen.
Rhedodd pob un gan y gair
i’w brenin ar ei gadair.
Dweudodd wrthynt torri i lawr
pont dros afon llifeirfawr.
Byddent yn ddiogel iawn
er eu bod yn anghyfiawn.

A sut dweud yr hanes ddu
o Iwerddon a’i tyngu?
Pan daeth nifer Brân i’r min
bu dim obaith i’w gwerin.
Tân, cleddef, angau mawr,
dinistriad coch enfawr.
Dim ond saith y gwŷr ddaeth n’ôl
o’u brwydro gwaedlifol.

Cychwynnodd Iwerddon trist
ar ei llwybr hen amdrist:
pump o wraig i lenwi gwlad;
oesoedd o frawdladdiad.
Gwelodd Branwen beth y bo;
y môr hwn nad all pontio.
Torrodd chalon cryf yn dwy;
ddaeth ei ysbryd yn ddrudwy.

Gan waed byw coch fel offrwm
gwyd pont, nid maen ar faen trwm.
“A fo ben, bid bont,” meddai
yr hen gawr; yr oedd heb fai.
Aeth Brân yn bont yn lawen:
daeth adref dim ond ei ben.

- "Hebog"

BRIDGES

“He who would lead, let him be a bridge.” Valuable
are the words of the old giant.
Not for a small weak man it is
to carry the burden of being a leader.
Over his own body they will walk
and his red blood will slake their thirst.

A high king one day came
from Ireland, intending
through marrying a pure maiden
to build a bridge over a wide sea.
Brân the Blessed with his sister
made the bridge – he was chief builder.
Beautiful Branwen would be strong,
with her husband she would go home.
But she was a costly sacrifice:
in their bridge there was a weakness.
Almost lost was all their peace:
Efnissien came to the feast.

He broke the weak foundation of their work,
but they were not without hope.
To repair the sick bridge
Brân paid reparation.
Without worries, over the wave
the married pair went to Ireland.
But there persisted, because of that discord,
deep unseen cracks [in the bridge].

Who was it began the rumor
about the payment of the colts?
Who was it compelled the belief
that it was necessary to punish an innocent woman?
He it was who with this lie
broke the realm of Ireland.
But there is blame for the foolish king
because of his mistaken judgment.

Every day a hateful butcher punished
Branwen with a nasty ear-box.
Salt tears on her thin cheek
fell warmly without wailing.
All the ports of the land were closed;
there was no escape from her sorrow.
Under the water, without cry, without wave,
the bridge collapsed soundlessly.

After a time, a message came
to Brân about her slavery.
To the far blue west
he looked, and a blood price
was in his thinking – floods of blood
would pay for his blood relative’s pain.
There was no bridge now – to cross the sea
he would have to be the first-goer,
and walk through the great depths
pulling his heavy-laden boats.

The Irish saw his head
with vengeance on his brow.
Everyone ran with the word
to their king on his chair.
He told them to break down
the bridge over the great-flowing river.
They would be very safe
although they were in bad faith.

How to tell the dark tale
of Ireland and her fate?
When Brân’s army came to the brink
there was no hope for common folk.
Fire, sword, great death,
a huge red disaster.
Only seven men came back
from their blood-flowing battling.

Sad Ireland set out
on her ancient woeful journey:
five women to fill a land;
ages of brother-killing.
Branwen saw what would be;
this sea she could not bridge.
Her strong heart broke in two,
her spirit became a starling.

With living red blood as an offering
a bridge is raised, not stone on heavy stone.
“He who would be head, let him be a bridge,” said
the old giant; he was blameless.
Brân became a bridge gladly;
Only his head came home.

-GRG

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

still here...

Too much going on last weekend to get a blog post up, and next weekend will be no better. I've done another half chapter on The Ash Spear, which is hanging fire while I do a little research, but I've been too busy to do the reading... The second half of July will be quieter, and then I hope to get more writing (and blogging) done. I also want to start doing random book reviews again... check here or on my amazon profile for ones I've done in the past.

-GRG

Friday, June 20, 2008

Happy Solstice

Today is the Summer Solstice, the longest day of the year (in the northern hemisphere, at least), a subject on which I've blogged before. We will be celebrating tomorrow night for various reasons - Saturdays are generally more convenient that Fridays in regards to preparations, and doing it on Saturday evening allows a journey to the Saturday morning Farmers' Market for some of the feast ingredients. In our generic-reconstructed-British-pagan seasonal celebrations, we like to consider what foods would have been available to our ancestors, and this year our meat choice was "birds". So last night involved a hunting expedition to the local Safeway for some game hens. The hunt was successful, and the results are now thawing in my refrigerator. Tomorrow I get to cook them.

Other feast ingredients, assuming the Farmers' Market cooperates, will be new potatoes (yes, all right, I know they're New World...), asparagus, wheat bread, organic strawberries (the small local kind that actually taste like strawberries) and cream. Oh, and the first half dozen fava beans from my garden. Rowen, being the brewer, will provide the mead, and another friend her traditional deviled eggs (if you've done something that many years in a row, it's traditional). And weather permitting, we will have a small bonfire...

On other topics, I've finally finished another chapter of The Ash Spear (see the sidebar for the stats), and am beginning to have something like momentum in my writing again. This will of course be derailed (does momentum run on rails?) by our local Fourth of July camping event, followed all too soon by the Cymdeithas Madog Welsh Course (the poem is about as finished as it's going be, I think, though I'm sure there are still grammatical errors). In the meantime I'm hoping to get one or two more chapters done before July!

Happy Solstice, all!

-GRG

Friday, June 13, 2008

New Book Cover


Last night I did a first cut at the cover image for the next book. The photo of the spearhead was taken about a month ago at the SCA event we attended in South Dakota. I took 4 shots, then lifted this one with photoshop, put it on a black background and added the lettering. I may tweak the title font a bit, but I'm pleased with the results so far. Photoshop Elements rocks!

The spearhead itself is one of the most beautiful pieces I've seen - if you click on the image to enlarge it, you can see the pattern welding in the blade.

-GRG

Monday, June 9, 2008

Still here...

Yes, I'm still here, just busy. Most of the garden's in, a first draft of the Welsh poem is done (though it still needs a lot of work and grammar-checking), and I finally finished another chapter of The Ash Spear. Other than that, not much to report - the rest is just life.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Busy, busy...

This weekend will, I hope, be equal parts of gardening (tomatoes *have* to be planted) and writing, with a little sewing thrown in for good measure. Denver is now well into early summer, and (hopefully) past any danger of frost, through it's only about 10 days since the last time we had snow! I had to improvise a plastic tent over the tomato plants, which are now far too tall to be shut in the cold frame. I finally got the first one planted last night, in a very large pot which usually holds annual flowers, but the rest have to go into the garden one way or another. At least the weather should be mild and pleasant.

No progress on the new book for a couple of weeks now. Last weekend we drove up to the Black Hills in South Dakota for an SCA event we've been attending for several years now. The weekend before... yes, that was half SCA as well, and the other half assorted distractions. Maybe this one will be better.

For those of you interested in Taliesin and the Four Branches of the Mabinogi, some really good posts here and here.

-GRG

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Ambition

In the midst of writing another chapter of The Ash Spear, I've been diverted by a new game. The topic for the upper level competition at Cymdeithas Madog's July Welsh course just came out (click on the link and scroll to the bottom of the page to see what I'm talking about).

Briefly, for 31 years now CM has been holding a one-week language class every July somewhere in North America (except for 2000, when we had it in Wales as a special millennial treat!). At the end of the week there's a class eisteddfod (literary competition), subdivided into three levels, the topics to be announced at the beginning of the week. For the last few years, however, they're started to announce the topics for the upper division a couple of months in advance, to allow us the chance to do better work. This year's upper division topic is "Pontydd" ("Bridges") - a minimum of 350 words in either prose or poetry. And of course I had to choose poetry... you see where the title of this piece comes from?

If the result is passable, I'll share it here after the class. In the meantime, I'm having fun.

-GRG

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Beltane

Tonight is Beltane, May Eve, the spring fire festival: Nos Calan Mai in Welsh. In my garden yesterday the first apple blossom and the first six or seven cherry blossoms opened, and the first pea flower appeared. Tomorrow we may have snow again, but it will be quickly gone.

We have deferred our Beltane celebration to Saturday night, partly because of logistics, partly because the first local farmer's market of the season is Saturday morning, and we like to shop there for part of the feast. I feel there has been enough calendar reform over the centuries that any time within a few days of the date is good enough.

Last year I posted a description of an ancient Beltane celebration from my book Storyteller. On another blog this morning I read a beautiful description of a small modern celebration. There are many ways to celebrate the turning of the seasons. The main thing, I think, is to be aware.

-GRG

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Two Weeks...

Well, I have been busy, but it's really no excuse. A weekend out of town, another involving SCA activities. Welsh class, gardening - including some emergency rose salvage when the empty house next door finally sold and the new owners decided to make a clean sweep of the back yard! - and life in general. No new chapters of Ash Spear, either - but that should change. I've set aside this weekend and most of next weekend for writing. We'll see how far I get!

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Now for something different...

Lately I've been enjoying Xcel Energy's webcam link to the pair of eagles nesting on one of their properties. Spring is Colorado can be harsh, and the third egg hatched late yesterday. As of this morning both parents were sitting on the nest together to protect their three small chicks from the snow!

-GRG

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Update...

Finally finished another chapter of Ash Spear - figures on the sidebar as usual. A busy weekend, and I'm tired - perhaps I'll post more tomorrow. I still have to explain about the Great Expulsion of Mice...

-GRG

Monday, March 31, 2008

Tomatoes in the Cold Frame


And here's the picture I took yesterday of the tomato seedlings. There are 22 of them, all heirloom varieties. Four are for friends; the rest I'll have to find space for in my garden! They're currently in 3" pots - click on the picture to get a better view. The blue objects on the right are two of the eleven 5-gallon water bottles which act as a thermal reservoir to keep the cold frame above freezing on our frosty nights.

-GRG

Writing again...

A little update on the "progress" box on the sidebar. I got about half a chapter done this last weekend between gardening, puttering with books (yes, still adding stuff to LibraryThing), and breaking up cat fights. The fights were not between my two, but a case of them defending our yard from intruders.

Then there was the great mouse expulsion... but more of that later.

-GRG

Monday, March 24, 2008

Updates...

No writing this past weekend. Saturday's weather was too good - dry, sunny and breezy - so I spent the afternoon tilling part of the garden and preparing the long bed where I'm going to grow fava beans this year. It's been a tomato bed for the last two or three years and tomato diseases and pests were accumulating, so it was time for crop rotation. I didn't grow fava beans last year due to tomato-mania, but found a couple of new recipes I want to try more often. And the plants are reliable, hardy, and pleasant to look at. Favas are a form of the European broad bean which would have been grown in Britain in Gwernin's time (most of our current bean varieties are New World imports), and it's interesting that the Welsh word for "beans" is ffa.

I actually got the beans planted Easter Sunday, after the small amount of snow we had Saturday night had melted off. With another run of warm sunny weather expected this week, I should be seeing the first plants in 10-12 days. I was glad to get them planted this early - some years we still have snow cover/frozen ground at this point, but it's been a relatively warm spring. Fava beans don't mind a little frost, so the earlier they're planted the better.

In the cold-frame the tomato seedlings are still doing well - second true leaves on some the earliest ones now, and all remaining short and stocky due to the natural light and cool nights, a nice change from the spindly ones I've gotten in previous years when I grew them indoors under lights. I meant to take a picture yesterday while they were in the sun, but forgot - maybe next weekend.

-GRG

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Update...

A little snow here yesterday, but not the 5-10 inches they had predicted, just a little welcome moisture. Can't say I mind. The first signs of spring are appearing at last - a few crocus here and there. Why are the yellow ones usually the first to bloom, and the first to disappear? Spring in my cold frame is farther along - the azalea is blooming enthusiastically, and also the flower spikes are filling out on grape hyacinth bulbs that overwintered there. Hopefully the tomato seedlings survived last night's cold snap after two days of cloudy weather - I'll see tonight.

The Ash Spear is coming along, if slowly - I got another chapter written this past weekend. Wet or snowy weather helps - I'm not tempted to be out in the garden as I was the weekend before. I've update the progress indicator on the sidebar as usual. Target size for this book is 300 pages, about like Flight of the Hawk. I can't make them much longer if I'm to sell them for a half-way reasonable price on Amazon.

I'm continuing to catalogue my books - Library Thing is addictive! I have over 100 items in Welsh alone, many of which aren't in anyone else's catalogue. On that subject, by the way, I'm going to be actually teaching my Welsh class the next three weeks while our instructor goes to Wales to get married. I've been busy preparing some reading material, as well as grammar handouts on points where I think we need a review. It should be fun!

-GRG

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Celtic languages

A few links for the linguistically inclined, from "The Exvulsion of the Blatant Beast". First, a couple of fascinating posts from a while back on the evolution of the Celtic languages: here and here (I would have linked to these sooner, but the background color on the site has been ... strange ... lately, and I couldn't stand to look at it long enough to find the links again).

Then, for the really ambitious (also courtesy of "Beast"): Early Indo-European Online. No Old Welsh, unfortunately... but then modern Welsh is keeping me busy enough at the moment.

More on that later, though.

-GRG

Sunday, March 9, 2008

New Feature

I tried LibraryThing a couple of years ago, found it clunky to use, and left it. Recently, though, I've been noticing people using it on their blogs to show random books from their libraries, which seemed interesting. So I went back, found it much improved, and have been busy cataloging my books this last week. I'm nowhere near through, but I've found (as one does) lots of interesting things lurking in bookshelf corners which I'd lost, or even forgot I had. This makes the exercise worthwhile in itself! Also I'm surprised to find just how many Welsh language books I own - a lot of them I bought when I was at the Eisteddfod Genedlaethol in 2000. Time I got to reading some of them...

Anyway, the random selections gadget is partway down the right sidebar - it also seems to have a link to the rest of my catalog on LibraryThing. Try it out and let me know if it works.

-GRG

Monday, March 3, 2008

About that trip to Arizona...

Here's a bilingual piece about my trip to Arizona last month.

Rhyfeloedd y Seren yn yr Anialwch – yn y LLaid!

Roedd 6500 ohonon ni fan hyn, a roedd hi’n bwrw glaw.

Roedden ni wedi dod sawl cannoed neu filoedd o fillteroedd, o undeg naw o teyrnasoedd, o bob cornel y Byd Gwybyddus. Roedd gynnon ni amryw miloedd o babell, pebyll fawr a phebyll fach, pebyll gwynion a duon, cochion a gleision, a nawr pebyll gwlybion. Yn hapus, roedd y rhan fwyaf ohohyn nhw yn sych tu mewn eto – gweddol sych, o leiaf.

Doedden ni ddim yng Nghumru, doedden ni ddim hyd yn oed yn Glastonbury. Roedden ni yn yr anialwch Arizona, rhwng Phoenix a Tucson, ym fis Chwefror, a roedd hi’r digwyddiad ail-fwyaf y SCA – Estella War, neu “Rhyfel Seren” yng Nghymraeg. Cafodd y digwyddiad ei henw yn wreithiol gan gael ei ddal ym Mharc Mynydd Estrella, ond mae o wedi tyfu yn rhy fawr am y Parc, ac mae’n gael ei ddal heddiw ar ferm alffalffa organaidd yn yr anialwch. Mae’n ddim yn rhyfel yn union, yn wir – mae “rhyfel” yn enw SCA am digwyddiad fawr gan frwydrau rhwng bobl o ddau neu mwy teyrnasoedd. Ond mae fwy na ymladd wrth ryfel SCA – mae popeth sy’n gallu gael ei weld mewn eisteddfod, a llawer mwy hefyd. Dw i’n mynd i weld hen cyfeillion, i ganu fy ngherddau a thraethu fy chwedlau, ac i siopa. Ambell waith i werthu llyfrau eto!

Dechreuoedd y wythnos yn dda, gan tywyll braf – dyddiau cynnes a nosau oer. Ond am Nos Iau dechreuoedd hi bwrw glaw. Roedd hi’n parhau trwy y nos, ac yn ysbeidiol trwy Ddyn Gwener. Wedyn, Nos Gwener, ailddechreuoedd hi yn ddifri. Roedd y ffyrdd i gyd wedi troi i laid – llaid brown, trwchus, gludiog, a dwfn. Roedd ceir yn gael ei lynu ynddo fo, a roedd pobl yn ei wisgo hyd eu penllinau. Roedd Nos Gwener yn hir, yn wlyb, ac yn oer.

Ond Dydd Sadwrn aeth y cymylau’n araf – yn araf iawn - i ffordd. Roedd Nos Sadwrn yn glir ac yn oer, gan lleuad amgrom – nos ardderchog i ganu dan y sêr. A roedd Dydd Sul yn ddydd dda, yn heulog ond dim yn boeth, diwedd da i wythnos dim yn drwg – oherwydd mae llaid dim yn laid, wedi’r cyfan, ac all gael ei olchi o bobl a phebyll, ond bydd cofion da’n parhau.

Byddwn ni’n mynd yn ôl blwydden nesaf.

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Star Wars in the Desert – in the Mud!

6500 of us were there, and it was raining.

We had come some hundreds or thousands of miles, from nineteen kingdoms, from every corner of the Known World. We had several thousand tents, big tents and little tents, white tents and black ones, red ones and blue ones, and now muddy wet tents. Fortunately, the larger part of them them were still dry inside – fairly dry, at least.

We weren’t in Wales, we weren’t even in Glastonbury. We were in the Arizona desert, between Phoenix and Tucson, in February, and it was the second-largest event of the SCA – Estrella War, or “Star War” in Welsh. The event got its name originally from being held in Estrella Mountain Park, but it has grown too big for the Park, and today is held on an organic alfalfa farm in the desert. It’s not a war exactly, in truth – “war” is a SCA name for a large event with battles between people from two or more kingdoms. But there is more than fighting at an SCA war – there is everything that can be seen in an eisteddfod, and much more as well. I go to see old friends, to sing my songs and tell my stories, and to shop. Sometimes to sell books as well!

The week began well, with fine weather – warm dayes and cold nights. But on Thursday night it started to rain. It continued through the night, and intermittently through Friday. Then, Friday night, it began again seriously. All the roads had turned to mud – brown, thick, sticky and deep mud. Cars were getting stuck in it, and people were wearing it to their knees. Friday night was long, wet, and cold.

But Saturday the clouds went slowly – very slowly – away. Saturday night was clear and cold, with a gibbous moon – an excellent night to sing under the stars. And Sunday was a good day, sunny but not hot, a good end to a not bad week – because mud is only mud, after all, and can be washed from people and tents, but good memories last.

We’ll go back next year.

-GRG

Saturday, March 1, 2008

More on learning Welsh

I'll be posting another bilingual piece soon. Currently I'm working hard on my Welsh, looking forward to Cymdeithas Madog's course this summer. Also I'm trying to get back in the flow of writing after the disruption of Estrella War.

Why work on improving my Welsh in order to attend a Welsh language course? It does sound kind of counter-intuitive, doesn't it? Well, for two reasons. First, I'm the kind of person who doesn't start the term paper until the due date heaves into view over the calendar horizon. So having a fixed date to aim for - "I want to improve this, this, and this by such-and-such a date" - helps motivate me. Secondly, this will be my eighth trip to Cwrs Cymraeg, and in four of my previous Cyrsiau I've been in the top level (originally level six, now level seven). I love the challenge of that level, but I know to fully benefit from it my spoken Welsh needs to be as good as I can get it. So I rejoined the local Colorado Welsh Society class here in Denver last fall, and I've been working weekly - if not daily - on my Welsh. Sometimes it feels like patching a leaky boat - as soon as I fix one problem, I become aware of two more. But that's life - and language learning.

More later - back to work.

-GRG

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Back home...

I'm back from Estrella War, tired and happy and with most of the camping gear still to unpack -- and I don't even know who won! Possibly the mud -- Thursday and Friday were very wet and chilly, and large parts of the camp and the campers were adobe brown by the weekend. I got some good performance time in, though, and have lots of ideas for new stories. I saw a lot of good friends, too, from around the Known World. Attendance was over 6500 according to the website -- not bad for a February camping event in the Arizona desert.

I'm too tired now to be coherent -- more by and by.

-GRG

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Where do stories start?

Looking back along my life, I can see several times and places where the seeds were sown that ultimately merged into Storyteller. One of the earliest was planted by my grandfather, who used to tell us bedtime stories: an old man telling about things that happened when he was a boy. Not the great elaborate tales that Gwernin tells, but stories nontheless. That is a seed with very deep roots indeed.

Another seed was planted on an October day when I was fourteen, when my high school Latin teacher brought in a book to show us, a book which had recently won a Carnegie award. It was about a young man in Roman Britain – at the end of Roman Britain – a time and place which was new and exotic to me. The book was The Lantern Bearers by Rosemary Sutcliff. I read it, and went on to read – and re-read down the years - everything else I could find by her. Most of her books are for young adults or children, but the best are good stories suitable for any age. One of the last she wrote – she died in 1992 – was The Shining Company, set in 6th century Britain, and one of its central characters is the poet Aneirin, who appears in my books as the young bard Neirin (the original form of his name). He looks different in my version, and his background and life story are different, but down at the core he is much the same person - as he has to be, to write the great poem Y Gododdin by which we know him, 1400 years later.

There were other seeds, of course, and maybe I’ll blog about them another day. But for now, I’m back to packing.

-GRG

Friday, February 8, 2008

More Welsh

A lot of wind here this week, although mostly cold wind. A week or so back, though, we had a lot of warm south-west wind, and I wrote a piece about it for Welsh class.

Y Gwynt Chinook

Mae hi’n wyntog iawn heddiw. Gwynt cryf yw e, sy’n chwythu o’r de-gorllewin. Gwynt gwyllt sy’n udain yn y coed, ac yn crynu’u canghennau. Gwynt enfawr sy’n ruthro dros y myneddoed, yn rhuo dros y bryniau a’r cymoedd, yn gwaeddu dros y gwastadeddau. Gwynt cadarn sy’n gwthio’r cwmylau bratiog ymlaen. Gwynt cynnes sy’n toddi’r hên iâ a’r eira oddi wrth y wlad.

Nid gwynt y gwanwyn yw e, ond gwynt sy’n rhedeg o’r flaen y storm, gwynt negeswr, gwynt sy’n addo mwy o dywydd oer. Dim ond blas y gwanwyn yw e’n hôli i ni o’r de pell twyn heddiw. Yfory daw’r gaeaf oer yn ôl.

The Chinook Wind

It's very windy today. It's a strong wind, that blows from the south-west. A wild wild that howls in the trees, and shakes their branches. A huge wind that rushes across the mountains, roaring over the hills and the valleys, shouting across the plains. A strong wind that pushes the ragged clouds along. A warm wind that breaks the old ice and snow from the land.

It's not a spring wind, but a wind that runs before the storm, a messager wind, a wind that promises more cold weather. It brings us only a taste of spring from the warm distant south today. Tomorrow cold winter will come back.

And it did.

-GRG

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Busy, busy...

No post last weekend - I was trying to combine packing for Estrella War and writing the next chaper. Results: tents packed, but not the camp kitchen gear; chapter only started. So far this weekend, I finished the chapter (see the side bar update, below the two cover pictures) and the kitchen gear is still to be done. Oh, and yesterday I saw a large red fox run through the yard in the middle of the afternoon...

Other new stuff on the sidebar: two Welsh dictionary sites here and here and a link to some lovely Welsh pictures on BBC Wales. I also added a reading list for Dark Ages Anglo-Saxons and a separate link to Benjamin Bagby's Beowulf site, which I heartily recommend.

-GRG

Friday, January 25, 2008

Thoughts on Learning Welsh

Fionnchú left some interesting questions on yesterday's post. I answered him there, but I thought I'd put some of that commentary on top, too, and expand a bit on it.

Practice essays: He comments: "Since I try similar practice essays in my bumbling Irish, I wonder how you find such exercises? It's hard to 'make' myself attempt to compose as if thinking for a phrase or two (at best) in broken Irish rather than writing the English down and translating backwards, but it's the only way to wrap one's mind into the other language's 'tracks.'"

My comments: I am currently trying to do more of these pieces. I think it's valuable as an additional step beyond starting to think in the language, in that writing it down lets you try to get all the details (mutations etc) right in what you were just thinking. Writing in English first somewhat defeats the purpose. The trick, I think, is to write about something your active vocabulary almost covers, so you can manage that first coherent thinking step. I mostly mentally "wrote" this one on my way to work that morning (fortunately the traffic was light!) then wrote it down and improved it. The difficulty of course is getting your vocabulary up to that level in the first place; particularly for someone living in North America, this requires continual work and revision to reach and stay at that level.

On learning Welsh for the Gaelic speaker, he comments: "I wonder if you could recommend for a learner of Irish which dialect of Welsh might be easier to grasp. I have not found any advice for what may be admittedly a very limited demographic of students! My hunch based on history leans southward."

My comments: That's an interesting question. I think it partly depends on what you plan to do with the Welsh. For reading purposes there are not a lot of differences between North and South Wales other than the varied forms of the verb "to be", the affirmative marker mi/fe, masculine third person (f)o/(f)e, and a few matters of vocabulary. So if you want to read the news on BBC Cymru, for example, the Hugo book or equivalent should cover the ground for you. Once you start talking, of course, it's more complicated. That's when you find out the North and South are broad generalizations, with local variations in each.

On a broader note, I was interested to find both how similar and how different Welsh and Gaelic are. The "bones" of the languages - the way they deal with a variety of constructions - clearly show their close relationship, but the basic vocabulary is more different than I expected, even for very simple things like "mother" and "father", or numbers from one to ten. A fascinating comparison.

If you want a taste of Welsh, and a chance to ask language questions of some excellent teachers, a good resource is the Cymdeithas Madog one-week intensive course, held every summer in July somewhere in North America. This year's course is in Indianola, Iowa, just south of Des Moines, on July 13-20. I highly recommend it!

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Tracks in the snow

The beginning of this week was very cold, with a little fresh snow on top of the scattered masses of old snow still remaining from Christmas week. An inch or two like this makes a good medium for wildlife tracks, and there were plenty - mostly from squirrels, pigeons, and my cats, but occasionally others. The following piece is a practice essay I wrote yesterday on that subject in Welsh, followed by an English translation...

Fe ddaeth e’n ôl.

Bore ddoe, cyn y wawr, fe weles i’r olion ei draed yn yr eira newydd unnos. Traed mwy na thraed gath, leia na thraed ci, a gan ewinedd clir. Ci bach, efallai – ond does dim ci a neidioedd dros ffensys yn y nos fel gath. Fe ddilynes i ei olion. Fe neidioedd e’n gyntaf ar ben y “recycle bin” porffor ger y clwyd gefn, ac wedyn, yn ysgafn, i’r daear. Trwy’r ardd rewllyd aeth e, ac wedyn dros y ffens dde, ac i ffordd.

Ond y bore ‘ma, roedd mwy olion yn yr eira. Ym mherfedd y nos, heb ei weld ac heb ofn, ddaeth yr hên llwynog yn ôl.


He came back.

Yesterday morning, before dawn, I saw the marks of his feet in the new snow of one night. Feet larger than a cat's feet, smaller than a dog's feet, and with clear nails. A small dog, perhaps - but there is no dog that leaps over fences in the night like a cat. I followed his tracks. He jumped first to the top of the purple recycle bin by the back gate, and then lightly to the ground. Through the frosty yard he went, and then over the south fence, and away.

But this morning, there were more tracks in the snow. In the middle of the night, without being seen and without fear, the old fox came back.

-GRG

Sunday, January 20, 2008

New Things

Getting behind again with my posts -- well, that's January. I passed the 200 copy mark for Storyteller around 12th Night, which is good sales for the amount of publicity I do (scant), and am working on the next book as time permits.

A couple of new things on the sidebar: first, two new links for other blogs I like: Blogtrotter and The Expvlsion of the Blatant Beast (really!). These two are Celtic language/history related as opposed to the book review blogs I've listed before. I ran across a link to Blogtrotter on Amazon, and he mentioned EBB.

Secondly, I'm adding a sidebar box below the two book cover panels to display my progress on the next book in my series, The Ash Spear (approximately 20% completion so far).

Back to work...

-GRG

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Updates

I've done some site updates over the last few days, the most visible of which is to change the font color for some of the titles. The Blog Archive feature has moved to the bottom of the second sidebar, just above Labels. In its place I've added a set of Reading List links. These link to my Amazon Listomania lists, showing books I've used in my research -- or at least those still available through Amazon! (Specialized technical books sometimes have short print runs, and once they go out of print their prices may skyrocket. Moral: if you see something you may want and can afford it, buy it now. You'll be glad you did.)

Currently I'm writing again after taking a break around Christmas. I'm also researching 6th century Ireland and the Irish...

But that's a story for another day.

-GRG

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

A New Review

Yesterday brought a new review of Storyteller, by an on-line reviewer -- Odyssey Reviews -- who will also be reviewing Flight of the Hawk soon. Unlike some other bloggers who have reviewed the book, she also posted her review to Storyteller's Amazon page -- a nice extra!