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Robin Hobb's Infrequent and Off Topic Blog


Recently, circumstances forced me to do a major reduction of my home library.  It's hard for me to hold a decrepit paperback in my hand and say firmly to myself, "I read this forty years ago.  Yes, I enjoyed it, but it's unlikely I will ever read it again.  I need to release it into the wilds."  So I have taken box after box after box of books to donate to the local second hand book store.  


It wasn't just the fiction that I needed to reduce.  With many a pang, I needed to thin my reference books to a reasonable level.  Even when I know I can easily find a similar reference book in my local library (I much prefer print to internet searches for information) it's still hard to let them go. 


Then I came to my travel books.  Over the years, as I've visited conventions in different countries, I've acquired quite a few guide books to various places.  I think I"ve visited Lond more than any other city, so I have quite a few guides in all sorts of hand sizes and form.  But as I was thumbing through my book of London Walks, and then the set of handy cards that one can put into one's purse, and maps of Paris and tourist guide to Rome, my thoughts turned to the process of getting to those wonderful places.


I thought about airports.  Security lines.  The long flight across the US from Washington state to some east coast airport, often with multiple stops, and then the longer flight across the Atlantic, and then passport check and  scannning the crowd to try to find whoever has been sent to meet me.  And what came to me was more of a realization than a decision.


I'm not sure I can do those long cramped flights anymore.  In fact, I'm pretty sure I would arrive in Italy or the Netherlands or France  or Croatia in a state of total and grumpy exhaustion.


Not the image i want to project at a convention or festival.  


In the last year, with reluctance, I've turned down some wonderful invitations to conventions in Europe.  I've felt very wistful about that.  I hope to make a virtual appearance at some of them, but it's not the same as meeting readers face to face and chatting and signing books.  


I'd still like to do some US conventions, ones that I can drive to in a day or three, pacing myself so I don't arrive tired and cranky.  I will confess that the gigantic conventions with thousands of people and movie stars and television actors and vast rooms of merchandise do not appeal to me as much as the smaller conventions that still focus on books and writers and illustrators. It seems to me there are not as many of those as there used to be, but some still exist.   There is Potlatch-sf, a literary convention that migrates from Seattle to Portland and the Bay Area.  Armadillo con.  Foolscap.  I'm sure there are more that I simply haven't heard about.


So if you know of an sf/fantasy convention within the US or Canada that still focuses on books and stories, I'd love to hear about it.  

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"I didn't get the Signed Book I Ordered!"

Yes.  We know.  And it doesn't matter if you ordered it from The University Book Store in Seattle or from The Signed Page website.  You didn't get it.


And it's not their fault.  It's mine.


On February 11, I began to feel very ill.  By the 12th, I tested positive for Covid.  


I usually go to University Book Store on the second Tuesday of every month to sign the special orders and some store stock.  Needless to say, I didn't go. 


On the 17th, I hoped to go by Shawn's house and sing the Dark Horse comics of Assassin's Apprentice.  Nope.  Still not feeling good.


I rescheduled University Book Stosre for the 22.  The day came and I just wasn't upt to it.  It's not that far from Roy to Seattle, but traffic means that I allow two hours for the trip up, and if I hit rush hour traffic on the way back, it can take up to three hours.  I didn't think I could stay awake behind the wheel.  So it was a definite No.


So now we are into March.  On March 9th, I went by Shawn's and dropped off a batch of signed comics and picked up six more boxes of them.  (About 240 comics in each full box.)  Upon opening the boxes, I found that one had been damaged in shipping and that all the comics in that box were not really suitable for sale.  Another setback.



But as of tonight at 7 PM, I have signed every undamaged comic and I'll be taking them back to The Signed Page to be carefully packed and shipped. And on Tuesday the 14th, I will go to University Book Store to sign every special order and any stock they want signed.  


Soooooo  that means if you act very quickly, you can go to the Hobb page at UBS and order a signed Hobb book, and I will sign it on Tuesday the 14th!





On February 11, I didn't feel well.  It wasn't surprising.  My husband had been sick a few days before.  I'd tested him for Covid, but no, that wasn't it.  


Then my older sister, whom I care for, was horribly sick over the 9th and 10.  But she had syptoms more of a stomach disorder than Covid. I kept cleaning her up and soldiering on.  So I wasn't surprised on the 11th that I was so tired and muscles were aching.


But by mid-morning of the 12th, I knew I was really sick, with something very bad.  I did a covid test and within minutes I had two very dark stripes in the little window.  Despite masking and hand washing and avoiding crowds, despite multiple boosters, I had Covid.  And it was fully as painful and debilitating as I had heard.  All I wanted to do was stay in bed, use box after box of Kleenex and pity myself.


But I couldn't.  No matter how sick you are, your animals need to be fed.  And in my case, that also means my sister needed food cooked and laundry done and garbage emptied and bed stripped and made up clean every day.  All the tasks that come with caring ffor someone who can no longer take care of herself. 


(Well, surely someone else could do all that. )


No.  Not unless I wanted to expose them to this awful stuff.  My husband, still sick, was doing what he could.  Between the two of us, somehow we got by.  Chickens were fed, laundry was  accomplished, and some very marginal  and uninspired meals were served.  My younger son came by and refused to leave.  He cleaned, he cooked, he tidied.  And somehow, he has avoided getting sick (so far.) Daughters called to check on us and wondered if we needed more groceries.   A niece dropped off adult diapers and waterproof bed pads for my sister (the truly crucial supplies!)  So while Fred and I were handling it mostly on our own, we did have people who would have called an ambulance for us if it really got bad.  I am aware that there are many other people who have faced Covid with fewer resources and no support.  I lay on my bed and tried to imagine what it would have been like if I were living in a tent in an empty lot somewhere.  Counting my blessings even when things are pretty dark. 


So.  Here we are on the 19th, a full week later.  Fred is still achey but functional.  I am coughing, sneezing, congested and miserable but also functional.  Don't underestimate the muscle pain from this disease.  There is no comfortable way to sit, stand or lie down.  Everything hurts.    And the brain fog is very real.  I was very irritated with my son as he had apparently taken my mop bucket and mop.  When I found it, I was puzzled as to how it got in the utility room.  A day later, I recalled that I had used it to mop the floor in an effort to disinfect the kitchen.  It's really unnerving to have my brain skip a beat like that.


So.  I feel better than I did at my worst.  But I am not over this.  At any time, I could fall on my face and sleep.  When I am not too hot, I am chilled.  


This message is to remind people that yes, the 'pandemic' is over because, like influenza or the common cold, Covid is now endemic.  That's forever, my friend. 


To everyone who is certain it's not a big deal, I just want to say, it is to me.  I'm in the demographic  of people who can die from this stuff.  


I hope you don't get it.