And as for yesterday, a marvelous day. Well, once we finally escaped Providence and made it to Boston. Greer (nineweaving) and I had resolved, on Wednesday, to meet up in Cambridge for a sort of impromptu mini-Triptree Award winner/honoree celebration. So, Spooky and I drove to Boston and met Greer and Sonya at the Harvard Museum of Comparative Zoology, which I'd not visited since July or August of 2006.
We didn't make it to the museum until a little after three, and it closes at five, so there wasn't much time to wander the galleries. We're planning to go back again one day soon, a day when we can arrive in the morning and spend the whole day just sketching and making notes. But even a short visit at the MCZ is grand. And we found Greer and Sonya (sovay), and wandered the galleries, admiring fossils and taxidermy, formalin-filled jars of sea creatures and the iridescent shells of beetles. The MCZ is itself a sort of time capsule, consisting in large part of the cabinet of Louis Agassiz, who founded the museum in 1859. It is a monument to the way that Victorians sought to understand natural history, and the seemingly chaotic halls are likely to give those with more modern sensibilities all sorts of discomfiting sensations. It's one of the last museums of its kind, and is, itself, as valuable an artifact as the artifacts it houses.
Oh, and Sonya gifted me with an enormous plush octopus from the MCZ gift shop, which I have christened Nemo. Unless I change my mind and start calling it Scylla. I suppose that depends on puzzling out its gender. Sexing the octopus....
Despite my aching, rotten feet, after we left the Museum we walked to Raven Books, a wonderful, wonderful place situated in a basement below street level. I'd promised I would be good on this trip and not come home with a metric shit-ton of books. But Greer and Sonya kept finding things and showing them to me. Oh, and Chris Ewen (he of Future Bible Heroes) met us at Raven Books. We had dinner next door at a fine Thai restaurant called Nine Tastes. I had the beef larb, tart as tart could be and with just the right level of heat (hot enough to eventually shut down my taste buds). And after that, after dinner, we walked up to the Harvard Bookstore, and then back to a comic shop called Million Year Picnic, where Spooky used to buy her funny books back in the day. By this point, it was well after dark and my feet were screaming, so we said our good-byes to Chris and headed back to the van. We drove Greer home (and left Sonya to fend for herself or fall to the wolves...or seek public transit, or something). I think Spooky and I made it back to Providence about 10 p.m.
So, yes...a much needed day out and among other people and among the sorts of things that make me smile. And, by the time all was said and done, it was a bit of a book-buying orgy. I lost track of what everyone else got (and everyone bought books), but I came away with:
1. A Lion Among Men by Gregory Maguire (2008)
2. The Sun and the Moon: The Remarkable True Account of Hoaxers, Showmen, Dueling Journalists, and Lunar Man-Bats in Nineteenth-Century New York by Matthew Goodman (2008)
3. The Lyrics of Tom Waits: The Early Years (1971-1982) (2007)
4. The Library of America Philip K. Dick volume, Five Novels of the 1960s and 1970s
5. Wise Children by Angela Carter (1991)
6. Moonwise by Greer Ilene Gilman (original 1991 edition, which Greer signed to me last night)
7. A Neil Jordan Reader (1993)
8. Leviathan: The History of Whaling in America by Eric Jay Dolin (2007)
So, yeah...books. There are sixteen photos behind the cut. Now, I must go decide which of two stories I will begin for Sirenia Digest #52.
In Romer Hall at the Museum of Comparative Zoology, a preserved specimen of one of two living coelacanth species (genus Latimeria).
MCZ 1102, the holotype skull of Triceratops "eurycepahlus" Shlaikjer 1935 (now considered conspecific with T. horridus).
Fossil fish in Romer Hall (with a specimen of the pelycosaur Edaphosaurus on the right).
A marvelous skull of the saltwater crocodile, Crocodylus prorosus.
Sonya, in amongst the fauna.
Greer marvels at monkeys!
In the Hall of Mammals, a beautiful White rhinoceros skull (Ceratotherium simum).
A wealth of artiodactyls.
Ol' You-know-who, in amongst more dignified mammals.
A hominoid family portrait.
A sperm whale, seen from the balcony.
A right whale, also seen from the balcony. Baleen is amazing stuff.
Back in the van, Sonya sneaks a shot of my true face! Or it might just be Nemo (who might actually be Syclla).
Raven Used Books, on JFK Street in Harvard Square.
I want to live here.
Spooky and Chris in Raven Books.
All photographs Copyright © 2010 by Caitlín R. Kiernan and Sonya Taaffe.