Friday 21 October 1664

October 21st, 2017 11:00 pm
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Posted by Samuel Pepys

Up and by coach to Mr. Cole’s, and there conferred with him about some law business, and so to Sir W. Turner’s, and there bought my cloth, coloured, for a suit and cloake, to line with plush the cloak, which will cost me money, but I find that I must go handsomely, whatever it costs me, and the charge will be made up in the fruit it brings.

Thence to the Coffee-house and ‘Change, and so home to dinner, and then to the office all the afternoon, whither comes W. Howe to see me, being come from, and going presently back to sea with my Lord. Among other things he tells me Mr. Creed is much out of favour with my Lord from his freedom of talke and bold carriage, and other things with which my Lord is not pleased, but most I doubt his not lending my Lord money, and Mr. Moore’s reporting what his answer was I doubt in the worst manner. But, however, a very unworthy rogue he is, and, therefore, let him go for one good for nothing, though wise to the height above most men I converse with.

In the evening (W. Howe being gone) comes Mr. Martin, to trouble me again to get him a Lieutenant’s place for which he is as fit as a foole can be. But I put him off like an arse, as he is, and so setting my papers and books in order: I home to supper and to bed.

Read the annotations

Day Zero: nothing will come of nothing

October 21st, 2017 02:43 pm
desperance: (Default)
[personal profile] desperance
After a truly horrible very bad night, we went to the clinic this morning and Karen was immediately whisked off to a side-room for intravenous meds to get some kind of control over her nausea etc. They followed that with what we were really there for, the transfusion of her stem cells back into her body. I was sent from the room and didn't get to see that. Don't know why, as it was the pivot-point of this entire adventure and I cannot conceive any health risk in having me present, but there you go. There I went.

Afterwards they trotted out cupcakes and candles and sang "Happy Birthday", for this is the conceit, that all our group of patients has just been reborn. Karen-people, we are adding October 21st to her commonplace birthday of March 21st: it's not quite a half-birthday, but close enough and readily remembered.

Now we're back in the apartment, and Karen is resting in her room, sipping a ginger ale and nibbling a Ritz cracker or two. Me, I am drinking wine. We may be establishing a pattern here.

A (mostly) sunny day in Roscoff

October 21st, 2017 09:00 pm
shewhomust: (bibendum)
[personal profile] shewhomust
The weather forecast for today was horrible - rain and wind and hail, too. Luckily, we weren't actually planning to visit the Isle de Batz, even though our hotel (for the record, Chez Janie) is right by the jetty. First stop the Tourist Office, which confirmed what we already suspected, that the 'Maison des Johnnies' (information about the onion sellers) is only open in the afternoon - but while that was something we wanted to see, there wasn't any urgency about getting out of the weather, which was bright and breezy. The occasional sharp shower was over as soon as it started. We pottered around the town, browsing the shops which specialise in selling local products to tourists, and yes, we may have done a little light shopping: Algoplus add seaweed to everything, from soaps to soups, and I bought some of each; La Belle-Iloise is a fish cannery, but the really attractive thing about their shops is the colourful design of the tins, and I don't know why their website makes so little of it.

The church (Notre Dame de Croaz-Batz) was a delightful surprise. I knew, because you can see it from all over the town, that it has an impressively ornate spire (Renaissance, it says here, and perhaps unique in Brittany) and my guide book thought it worth mentioning, but only to say that its alabaster panels come from Nottingham, and are yet another sign of Roscoff's maritime history. I thought the best thing about it was its polychrome wooden roof, rich with garlands and figures - and completely renovated at the start of this century, "Ready for the next 500 years.." says the leaflet. But since I'm only going to post one picture, I've chosen a detail of the exterior:

Creature on the roof


Because the sky is so blue, and because the grey stone and golden lichen is so typically Breton, and because of the creature at the roofline. "Why does that bird have the hind legs of a dog?" I asked, and [personal profile] durham_rambler replied "Because it's a duck-billed platypus!"

We found lunch at Le Bilig de la plage, a little beachside café which offers a very sustaining fish soup, and local cider to go with it. Then on to the 'Maison des Johnnies' the Johnnies being the onion sellers who travelled from Roscoff to England each year to sell the onions which are grown locally - so called because their customers referred to them as 'Onion Johnnies'. There was less to see than I had expected. There's an outdoor shed, with a fine collection of discarded agricultural stuff; there's plenty of promotional material from today's onion-growing business (I scored some recipes); and there's the old house itself, which was inhabited by a family of five generations of onion growers and sellers, and is now a centre for the documentation of the trade, with a display of old photos and a timeline and such, which can't help being pretty superficial. I learned that in 1902 the Johnnies accounted for 2% of Britain's onion imports (but how many of our onions do we import?) and that at the peak individual sellers covered the whole of the UK - one man took onions from Roscoff to the Northern Isles. And I saw some wonderful photos of men with bicycles and strings of onions.

We had been planning to visit the Salon des Arts exhibition anyway - we didn't just duck in because another shower had come on! It was held in the old lifeboathouse, which is unlike most lifeboathouses of my experience in being surrounded by a little garden. It is also constructed parallel to the shoreline, which is not the best idea - and if it now has a door through which you could launch a lifeboat, it is very well hidden. There were four artists exhibiting, and I enjoyed the brightly coloured seascapes by Paul Leone (his lighthouse with aurora had been used for the poster, and you can see why): his technique seems to involve cutting things out with a jig saw and painting the seams white, but I haven't quite worked it out. Most of Catherine Caillaux's sculptures left me unmoved: giant seed and pod shapes, all very decorative. But just one - title 'Bulle something or other' - really appealed, though I can't find it on her website.

Back to the hotel to rest and read and doze and write this - jumping up in the middle of it to photograph the rainbow that had appeared beyond the harbour.
oursin: Cod with aghast expression (kepler codfish)
[personal profile] oursin

Okay, this guy is clearly in a state of confusion: I’m in a kind of love triangle and am so confused about what to do.

But, really:

It has got to a point now that I have told my girlfriend that we need to have a break so I can sort myself out. She has moved out and I do miss her a lot.... The space away from my girlfriend, I hope, would make me realise that she is the one for me and come back to her in a happier place where I feel I can be happy and give 100%.

Whereas she is probably busily blocking his number and any contact they have on social media and telling her friends not to pass any details on.

I mean, I think Annalisa Barbieri is right that probably neither of these women is The One and he is just trying to make one of them The One because he wants to Settle Down, but I do wonder if at least the girlfriend, if not the ex, is going to wait around for him to get his head together, and it's not so much a question of he should break up with both of them, but that he is likely to find himself broken up with.

Let him go, let him tarry:

desperance: (Default)
[personal profile] desperance
So, I shall elect to call that Night Minus One, as against Early Morning Day Zero: for, as anticipated, Karen had a horrid time of it. She's sick as a dog, and staying in bed until the last possible moment. I didn't sleep much either, despite having taken a lorazepam in hope; as you know, I have my own issues, and was out of bed frequently beside to fetch her things she couldn't achieve herself.

Still'n'all, we can hope that was the worst of it. Eleven o'clock this morning, she'll be transfused with a billion stem cells of her own making, and they will leap into action to restore her murdered immune system. This will be a process of months - boosted along the way by a repeat of all her childhood vaccinations, which weirdly delights me - but little by little, we can rebuild her. We have the technology. Etc.

Meanwhile, the tradition of Thursday dinners continues at our house in our absence, which delights me. Also I suspect the boys of being pampered rotten, which kinda delights me also. We have already seen photos of their new fluffy snuggly beds.

Interesting Links for 21-10-2017

October 21st, 2017 12:00 pm

Art Manuel: Unsettling Canada

October 21st, 2017 04:23 am
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[personal profile] bibliogramma



Unsettling Canada - A National Wake-Up Call sounded like something I'd want/need to read from the minute I heard about it. A collaboration between two First Nations leaders, Arthur Manuel - a vocal Indigenous rights activist from the Secwepemc Nation - and Grand Chief Ron Derrickson - a Syilx (Okanagan) businessmen, it is touted by the publishers as bringing "a fresh perspective and new ideas to Canada’s most glaring piece of unfinished business: the place of Indigenous peoples within the country’s political and economic space."

Much of the writing on Indigenous rights and
Indigenous activism in Canada is not accessible to someone like me, who can pretty much only read ebooks. (I can read a physical, bound book, but only very slowly, stopping the minute my breathing begins to be affected, which in practice means three or four paragraphs a day, and that means only one or two such books a year, so I pick only the most important books to be read in this manner.) So I was delighted to find an ebook copy of this available from the library.

The book is written from Manuel's voice, wth advice and input from Derrickson. He begins with a rumination on the land of his peoples, what settler-colonialists have called the B.C. Interior, and on his work with the Global Indigenous People's Caucus - in particular, the presentation of a statement on the 'doctrine of discovery' to the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues. The doctrine of discovery is a poisonous piece of European colonialist legalism which says that a European sailing along the coast of the land and seeing the rivers flowing down from the interior had, by virtue of their 'discovery' of evidence of that land, more right to it in law (European-derived settler law, of course) than those peoples whose ancestors have lived on, gained nourishment from and stewardship to, for generations.

It's a law that has no justice or even sense of reality behind it. It can only exist if you pretend that Indigenous people never did. Yet it is the basis by which most of the land of the American continents were taken from the people inhabiting those continents, and it lies at the root of land claim discussions even to this day.

Manuel goes on to speak briefly about his family - George Manuel, his father, was a noted Indigenous activist but not very present during Manuel's early life - and his youth, which included time in residential schools due to his mother's long hospitalisation and his father's absences.

These two strands - the history of Indigenous land claims, and his father's legacy of activism, come together in the narrative of Indigenous resistance to the Trudeau government's Statement of the Government of Canada on Indian Policy - the 1969 White Paper.

"Ironically, the impetus for unity [among Indigenous activists and organisations], and what finally put my father into the leadership of the National Indian Brotherhood, was provided by the Trudeau government's Indian Affairs minister Jean Chrétien. In June 1969, Chrétien unveiled a legislative time bomb that was designed not only to destroy any hope of recognition of Aboriginal title and rights in Canada, but also to terminate Canada's treaties with Indian nations. ...

The statement sparked an epic battle that did not end in 1970 when the Indian Association of Alberta presented its counterproposal in the Red Paper. In many important ways it was the opening shot in the current battle for our land and our historic rights against a policy designed to terminate our title to our Indigenous territories and our rights as Indigenous peoples. The White Paper of 1969 is where our struggle begins."

The White Paper, in essence, sought to end all concept of Indigenous nations, abrogate all treaties, eliminate the concept of sovereign lands held in common by an indigenous nation, and force full and complete assimilation - ending by cultural genocide the disappearing of the Indigenous peoples that no previous strategy had quite managed to accomplish.

Resistance to the White Paper was strong. Indigenous leaders formally rejected the government's position, declaring that nothing was possible without the recognition of the sovereignty of Indigenous people and a willingness to negotiate based on the principle that "only Aboriginals and Aboriginal organizations should be given the resources and responsibility to determine their own priorities and future development." But although the paper was withdrawn, the positions it espoused have continued to resurface, recycled and repackaged, in government negotiations with Indigenous peoples to this day.

In 1973, however, a Supreme Court decision gave Indigenous peoples a tool for fighting the White paper proposals. In a 3-3 decision in the Calder case, the Supreme Court declined to set aside the provisions of the Royal Proclamation of 1763, which stated that Indigenous peoples living on unceded land - which at that time included most of what is now Canada - had sovereign rights to that land, which could not be set aside by government fiat, but only surrendered via treaty. While a contested victory, and one that was less useful for many nations who had been tricked into giving up more rights than intended in colonial treaty negotiations, this decision still established the legal concept of the sovereignty of Indigenous nations which would eventually lead to more fruitful legal arguments.

Balancing between historical, academic perspectives and personal recollection, Manuel traces the story of the struggles of Indigenous peoples to reclaim their rights and build a new partnership with Canada over the past 50 years. As he examines the history of court arguments and governmental negotiations over issues of sovereignty, land claims, and other key points of dispute between Canada's Indigenous Nations and the Canadian federal and provincial governments, Manuel clearly and concisely explains the legal concepts involved at each stage. In so doing, he weaves a chilling narrative of repeated attempts to, quite literally, extinguish the rights, and the existence, of the original landholders in the interests of corporate exploitation and gain - a neo-colonialist project that would finish off what settler colonialism began.

Events that for many white Canadians passed by without any comprehension of what they meant to Indigenous peoples - the James Bay hydroelectric project, the repatriation of the constitution, the Oka crisis, Elijah Harper's lone stand against the Meech Lake Accord, the Nisga'a Treaty, the Canada-US softwood lumber disputes, the Sun Peaks protests, to name a few - are placed in a coherent context of colonial oppression and Indigenous resistance.

Manuel also places the struggle of Indigenous peoples in Canada within an international context, that of the "Fourth World" - defined as "Indigenous nations trapped within states in the First, Second and Third Worlds." He recounts his father George Manuel's role in the creation of the World Council of Indigenous Peoples, which led to the establishment in 2002 of the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues and the UN Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples - a document fiercely opposed and flagrantly ignored by Canada and the other major colonial nations, Australia, New Zealand and The United States.

What makes this book so important - and so accessible - is the insider perspective that Manuel brings to the narrative. He and members of his family were intimately involved with many of the key actions and negotiations; his personal knowledge of the dealings behind the scenes fleshes out his factual accounting of the events he witnessed and participated in. Manuel's personal lived experience makes this more than just a relating of legal points and bureaucratic counters, it allows the reader to feel the profound injustices faced by Indigenous peoples in their struggle to preserve their rights and their identities and their fierce determination to succeed.

shewhomust: (puffin)
[personal profile] shewhomust
It rained overnight, but had stopped by this morning, and we actually saw the disk of the sun rising above the far side of town, across the harbour. At breakfast we had a table in the window, watching the light change over the sea, catching the lighthouse on the island.

We thought they were being optimistic, setting out chairs on the terrasse, but then a canopy rolled out from just below our window, so perhaps they know what they're doing. And as soon as the broad red field was halfway extended, a seagull landed with a thump, and started to patrol under our window. He's obviously a regular, because the proprietor warned us, He'll come and make big eyes at you, but whatever you do, don't feed him! We said we were familiar with the ways of seagulls, and wouldn't dream of it.

But I had plenty of time to examine all his identifying features: pink feet? check! yellow bill? check! red spot on yellow bill? also check! Definitely a herring gull.
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Posted by Sara Stamey

Note: Since my 4-month backpacking trip around Greece too many years ago, I have been longing to return to this magical land of myth, history, and dramatic landscapes. I recently made a fabulous 3-week return trip there, to research additional settings for my novel-in-progress, THE ARIADNE DISCONNECT. My first post in the new series, on September 30, gave an overview of my rambles with my husband Thor from Athens to the islands of Rhodes, Santorini, and Naxos, and finally a pilgrimage to the ancient center of the world at Delphi.

With only two and a half days in Athens, Thor and I could barely dip our toes into the attractions of this bustling city, and we plan another trip soon.  I’m happy that Thor has fallen as much in love with Greece as I am! Athens, now cleansed of the eye-burning smog I was breathing 35 years ago, casually blends the ruins of 3000-year-old Classical and older Greece with later Roman, Byzantine, Venetian, and modern buildings. The top photo we snapped from the Acropolis over the ancient Agora (gathering-place and possibly the first shopping mall) shows the blend of ancient Greek, Byzantine, and modern city.

Everywhere you look are the reminders of its long, rich history, and it seems that every time a new building or street repair gets underway, an historic remnant is discovered. Strolling along, you’ll often see the accommodations built around such finds to preserve them:

Since we were walking around the baking steets during an early September heat wave, Thor was grateful for the natural springs found everywhere in this country of porous limestone. Like the Italian vapas that saved us from heat stroke in Rome, these streetside fountains offer fresh, cool water to the weary traveler:

We took the recommendation of friends and stayed at a centrally-located hotel, named appropriately The Central Hotel, so we could walk the neighborhood or take the excellent underground to sites of interest. We never thought we’d enjoy their rooftop cold jacuzzi tub, but in the late-afternoon heat it was refreshing. From the rooftop deck and restaurant, we also enjoyed a wonderful sunset view of the Acropolis and Parthenon:

Again on the advice of friends, we found a quirky restaurant, “Tzitzikas keh Myrmikai” (I think I got that right), translated as  Cicada and Ant, with wonderful fresh salads and creative entrees like the lamb in flavorful sauce over a pasta nest that we enjoyed. The decor mimicked a retro general store, with shelves of dry goods and old ads papering the walls:

On our walk through the evening streets, we heard brass band music approaching and were soon in the midst of what looked like a parade winding through the cobbled lanes. We followed and realized it was a funeral procession bearing a casket, led by the uniformed band, then priests in their black robes and high hats carrying flower-trimmed icons and other sacred objects, then a lot of people following. They circled the block twice and ended up at a tiny old chapel with its foundations below the level of the present street, with a modern hotel built over the top of it, the sleek square lobby/porch posts straddling the old church with its tile roof. (I apologize for the blurry photo.) Apparently these processions are common, even in the modern city.

There are Byzantine and newer churches everywhere in the country, reflecting the culture of 98% of the population officially registered as Greek Orthodox. This one is a large, modern church near our hotel, still decorated with traditionally-styled icons:

And there are many shops selling religious items:

We spent a half day at the amazing Archeological Museum, and I wish I had had more time to appreciate its treasures like this Archaic Period (around 1200 BC to 500 BC) Kouros. Precursors of the more lifelike statues of later periods, they have stylized features and standard poses probably influenced by Egyptian culture:

You can see the difference in style and realism in this Hellenistic period (around 330-150 BC) or possibly Roman Period (around 150 BC to 300 AD) statue of Aphrodite, the marble carving so delicate that it almost seems you are seeing through the diaphanous garment draping her body:

And I had to revisit one of my favorite small bronzes, this jaunty phallic satyr. Again, I apologize for the blurry photo; visitors are allowed to take photos without flash, but this was through display case glass.

The many displays of small household items, such as painted ceramic ointment jars and spindles, give intimate glimpses of daily life in antiquity. These parts of a reconstructed chariot were also fascinating:

A favorite place from my earlier trip, which unfortunately I didn’t have time to revisit this time, is the Athens Central Market, a sprawling neoclassical edifice built in 1875 near the Ancient Agora where Socrates and Aristotle taught among the bustle of vendors of every kind. Several large archways open to corridors of fish sellers, a meat market, fruits and vegetable stalls, and crafts vendors.

In my novel THE ARIADNE CONNECTION, my near-future Ariadne is feverish and near collapse as she’s pursued by relentless mercenaries, and she flees through the streets of a post-earthquake Athens. She stumbles onto the still-intact central meat market:

*****

A clear alley magically opened to her right. Ariadne ran down it, hand pressed to the ache in her ribs as she sobbed for breath. Shouted commands rang out behind her. She bolted through traffic for the cavelike dark mouth of a building across the street.

Sunlight glare, and then shadow falling over her. Forcing her way through a wall of heat, bodies, and voices, she fell through into dimness. She faltered, blinking, numbly registering cavernous walls opening up before her. Overhead, a high ceiling of curlicued iron grillwork in flyspecked peeling white, flecked with red. Blood everywhere.

Slabs of meat dripping blood. Headless poultry hanging. Severed tongues piled. Rows of hearts, livers, brains. She staggered forward, eyes glazed, deeper into the meat market. Convoluted twists and turns carried her on through swarms of buzzing flies, between racked carcasses lining the passages. She was jostled by hungry figures haggling over the meat, mouths shouting as they jabbed fingers at the raw red cuts.

She was lost in the maze, gagging in the reek of blood. She stumbled past slashing knives, muscle and guts tossed on the scales, thrown dripping over the heads of the buyers to be wrapped. She came up short, staring at trestles of twisted pale intestines, numbly tracing the convoluted kinks until someone pushed her aside. She tried to find a way out, but the passages kept turning and twisting back on themselves. Voices shrilled, ringing in her ears, and she could hear the distant shouts of her pursuers.

The flecked white walls swayed, closing in. She looked up, straining for escape, stretching for the distant rafters and a thin slice of sunlight shimmering through them. Grisly joke high overhead, crucified on a butcher’s hook, a life-sized pink naked baby doll smirked down at her.

Ariadne screamed her fear and confusion, exhaustion and despair, up at that empty leering face.

More faces turned toward her—accusing eyes and mouths—and she was running again, tripping, hands scrabbling over the slippery stained floor, scrambling up to run on.

*****

And, yes, at the time of my visit there really was a baby doll impaled on a butcher’s hook overhead. Join me next Saturday as we visit the Ancient Agora and then pack up for our next destination: the fabulous island of Rhodes!

*****

You will now find The Rambling Writer’s blog posts here every Saturday. Sara’s latest novel from Book View Cafe is available in print and ebook: The Ariadne Connection.  It’s a near-future thriller set in the Greek islands. “Technology triggers a deadly new plague. Can a healer find the cure?”  The novel has received the Cygnus Award for Speculative Fiction. Sara has recently returned from a research trip in Greece and is back at work on the sequel, The Ariadne Disconnect.

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The ravelled sleave of care

October 20th, 2017 10:03 pm
desperance: (Default)
[personal profile] desperance
Day Minus One: and all the worst is behind us, except for the actual feeling rotten. Hopefully.

We lead a temperate life, those of us who go down to Mexico in search of healing. Karen had her last round of chemo today (yay!) and we've just been quietly in the apartment since. She went to bed not long after nine o'clock; now it's barely an hour later and I am prone to follow. Not all the way, for we are obliged to occupy separate beds for the next couple of weeks, until she has at least the semblance of a normal immune system again; even my poor teddy bear has been exiled from her company, despite his sterling work in keeping her safe from demons of the night.

Karen ate most of a bowl of soup for dinner, but I'm not sure how much she's actually kept down. Tomorrow she gets all her billion stem cells back again, which is Day Zero and the start of her whole new life (hereinafter she gets to celebrate two birthdays a year, and who could deny her that?), but mostly she's just going to be feeling dreadful and not at all like partying.

Indeed, there's not going to be any partying for a while. She'll be in neutropenia, where she hasn't enough white blood cells to fight off infection; she stays in the apartment and eats astronaut food, wears a mask, doesn't get to kiss me. People say that Netflix is her friend, but tonight she was too tired to watch TV, and the fatigue is likely to get worse rather than the other thing. I have no idea; we'll find out. And my own prospects likewise: I don't know how I'll get through these next weeks, for it all depends on her. But at least the worst of the treatment days are behind us. I'm seeking comfort in that. And going to bed as soon as I finish this bottle. My doctor was rather shocked to be told that I drank half a bottle of wine a day; let nobody tell her that these days it's a bottle and a half at least. At least. It's easier to be accurate, when Karen's not drinking at all; but it's harder to be abstemious, when there really isn't that much else to do. Wine helps, y'know? Of course you know. Who do I imagine I'm talking to?

[MA, gastronomy] Moar Ghoti?

October 20th, 2017 08:51 pm
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[personal profile] siderea
Locals,

I have a friend coming from out-of-town – from one of those more landlocked places – who would like to go out for seafood. I'm abashed to admit, my answer to the question of where I go for seafood around here is "New Hampshire", which is not compatable with our plans. I am nursing a grudge against Legal, and just about all the places I used to go are out of business.

They're a foodie, will be staying in Somerville, and will be getting around on the T.

Where should we go?

Thursday 20 October 1664

October 20th, 2017 11:00 pm
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Posted by Samuel Pepys

Up and to the office, where all the morning. At noon my uncle Thomas came, dined with me, and received some money of me. Then I to my office, where I took in with me Bagwell’s wife, and there I caressed her, and find her every day more and more coming with good words and promises of getting her husband a place, which I will do. So we parted, and I to my Lord Sandwich at his lodgings, and after a little stay away with Mr. Cholmely to Fleete Streete; in the way he telling me that Tangier is like to be in a bad condition with this same Fitzgerald, he being a man of no honour, nor presence, nor little honesty, and endeavours: to raise the Irish and suppress the English interest there; and offend every body, and do nothing that I hear of well, which I am sorry for.

Thence home, by the way taking two silver tumblers home, which I have bought, and so home, and there late busy at my office, and then home to supper and to bed.

Read the annotations

And now for something completely different

October 20th, 2017 09:20 pm
shewhomust: (bibendum)
[personal profile] shewhomust
Executive summary: we left a grey and rainy England; we woke up this morning to Breton sunshine.

View from the ramparts


In more detail... )

The forecast for tomorrow is terrible. And it is already raining.

Spam spam spammity-spam

October 20th, 2017 07:39 pm
oursin: Painting of a pollock with text, overwritten Not wasting a cod on this (pollock)
[personal profile] oursin

Or, I have just been followed on Twitter by 3 people who are the same person, and I do not think there is anything holy about having 3 Twitter identities which are all touting your book/s.

I am also mildly beset by people who, having by some means or other found my website, and discovering something there moderately pertinent to their interests (sometimes, I swear, it is Just One Word in the middle of text), email me offering to 'contribute' or begging me to link to their pages, or add in their link collections, without actually considering what the various bits of my site are doing.

E.g. on my - not even this year's, several years back - listing of my Quotations of the Week, is one which alludes to [problem] - which I probably posted originally because it was neatly turned and complete in itself and not because I have an overwhelming interest in [problem]. This is really not an appropriate venue for a link to somebody's site which is All About [Problem]. Point Thahr Misst.

Indeed, more or less equivalent to, if I had the famous quote attrib Mrs Patrick Campbell re the hurly-burly of the chaise-longue, sending me their list of links to custom makers of high quality chaises longues.

And they do not give up: there is one person who has been positively badgering me, even though I have ignored their email except to mark it as junk, because, for extremely personal reasons, I have a link to a UK charity dealing with [condition], to add in their set of links relating to [condition] which seem entirely US-related, several of them dealing with issues around healthcare which are still - so far - irrelevant in the UK context.

My site is a small, personal, and carefully curated site dealing with various interests of my own and not exactly inundated with hits, except when some media outlet links to certain pages.

Y O Y?

New Worlds: Mourning

October 20th, 2017 01:00 pm
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Posted by Marie Brennan

(This post is part of my Patreon-supported New Worlds series.)

Although the question of what a society does with the bodies of the deceased is a key part of the funerary process, it’s hardly the whole story. After all, mourning is as much or more about the living as the dead, with a variety of customs designed to protect them from the spirits of the departed or help them through their grief.

These customs can kick in right away. Several different traditions say you should cover any mirrors in the house where a person has died, either to avoid catching glimpses of the evil spirits attracted by death, or to prevent the spirit of the deceased from being caught in the image. Similarly, you might open the windows in the room where the person died in order to permit the spirit’s departure. Some societies mandate that a body should be taken out of the house through a window or an opening cut into the wall, to prevent the ghost from finding its way back through the door; this is similar to the idea of carrying the body out feet-first, so it won’t look back and beckon someone else to follow (thus leading to another death). Death is a liminal moment, a crossing of the boundaries between life and the afterlife, so it’s unsurprising that there would be many practices to guard against the associated dangers.

For those left behind, there is the process of mourning itself. Modern American expectations tend toward quiet dignity, with the bereaved keeping their composure as best as possible while someone gives a eulogy, but that’s hardly universal; in other societies mourning is expected to be demonstrative and loud. People tear their clothing, weep freely, wail, keen, and more. Withholding such behaviors would be an insult to the departed — a sign that you don’t really care. In fact, the demonstration of grief might be so important that you hire professional mourners to supplement the display.

Which approach is “better”? I suspect it depends on the society and the individual in question. Maintaining your composure in the face of profound loss can be incredibly difficult . . . but so can forcing yourself into the ostentatious performance of grief, especially if the deceased is someone you personally loathed.

Personal feelings often have no bearing on the formal customs of mourning, though. Many societies mandate who has to mourn (in the sense of performing specific practices) based on the degree and nature of kinship to the departed. In Judaism, for example, the key figures are related within one degree: parents, children, siblings, and spouses. These are the people expected to sit shiva, i.e. observe a fixed seven-day mourning period. By contrast, strict Confucian ideology sometimes forbade anyone to mourn the death of an immature child, because it was considered wrong for people to show such honor and respect to someone beneath them in the hierarchy: it’s supposed to flow from child to parent, not the other way around. Christian communities might forbid mourning suicides, because of their unabsolved sin. Shifting to the far end of the spectrum, the death of a monarch or other major public figure might require entire communities to go into mourning.

Because the formal practice is based on social circumstances rather than emotion, it often persists for a set period of time, as with the aforementioned shiva. Victorian society required much lengthier observance of mourning, at least among the upper classes. Men got off relatively easy, marking their grief with black gloves, hatbands, or armbands, but women had it much harder. Although practice varied through the nineteenth century, widows were expected to be in mourning for something like two years, only lightening to “half-mourning” (with clothes in lavender, grey, or black pinstripe) toward the end.

And that was just for deceased husbands. There were also set mourning periods for parents, children, siblings, aunts and uncles, first cousins, in-laws, and even the in-laws of married children. It’s no wonder that some women opted never to come out of mourning clothes: purchasing all the necessary garments and accessories was a significant financial burden, with no guarantee you wouldn’t have to put them right back on a week after you took them off. (Of course not everyone would have observed all the niceties for the full length of time; whenever you hear about a cultural practice like this, you always have to remember that what is expected and what people actually do can be quite different.)

Some societies have required even more stringent responses to loss, especially for widows. In East Asia they might be expected to shave their heads and begin life as Buddhist nuns after their husbands pass. In some parts of India, widows similarly move to temples and spend the remainder of their lives begging for alms. The practice of sati was even more extreme, with widows immolating themselves on their husbands’ funeral pyres — theoretically of their own free will. But there’s no illusion of free will in the ancient tombs we find around the world, where dead rulers were put to rest surrounded by the bodies of sacrificed wives, slaves, horses, and more.

As with quiet versus ostentatious grieving, formal mourning (of the non-lethal variety) has both its good sides and its bad. People in that state are often not expected to carry out all their usual tasks, which can give them some desperately-needed respite, and a structured transition back to normal life can be a source of comfort and assistance — better than being caught in the limbo of not knowing when it’s socially acceptable to move on. On the other hand, being barred from participating in normal activities, especially the fun ones that might lighten your spirit, can make the experience of loss more crushing, and the formal return to daily routine might come far too late — or far too soon.

Finally, there’s the material culture of death. Tombs, gravestones, and other markers of the final resting place provide a focal point for mourning, as do memorial tablets or ancestral altars in the home. It’s been common for millennia to bury people with grave goods, for reasons ranging from utility in the afterlife, to demonstration of the dead person’s importance, to taboos that prohibit any living person from continuing to use those items. Other things are made for the use of the bereaved: going back to the Victorians and their obsession with mortality, you find commemoration of the deceased taking the shape of locks of hair, portraits of the dead, photographs of same (either resting peacefully or posed as if they were still alive), and more. Death masks might be sculpted images made for the coffin, as you see in Egyptian burials, or wax or plaster casts taken directly from the corpse, kept around after burial.

This really only scratches the surface of mourning customs. In the Chinese TV show Nirvana in Fire (aka Lang ya bang), there’s a plot point built around one of the characters avoiding the direct use of the hanzi from his deceased parents’ names. There are also all the rituals that may come after death — but those often have to do with the afterlife, which will be our topic next week.

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Wednesday 19 October 1664

October 19th, 2017 11:00 pm
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Posted by Samuel Pepys

Up and to my office all the morning. At noon dined at home; then abroad by coach to buy for the office “Herne upon the Statute of Charitable Uses,” in order to the doing something better in the Chest than we have done, for I am ashamed to see Sir W. Batten possess himself so long of so much money as he hath done. Coming home, weighed, my two silver flaggons at Stevens’s. They weigh 212 oz. 27 dwt., which is about 50l., at 5s. per oz., and then they judge the fashion to be worth above 5s. per oz. more — nay, some say 10s. an ounce the fashion. But I do not believe, but yet am sorry to see that the fashion is worth so much, and the silver come to no more.

So home and to my office, where very busy late. My wife at Mercer’s mother’s, I believe, W. Hewer with them, which I do not like, that he should ask my leave to go about business, and then to go and spend his time in sport, and leave me here busy. To supper and to bed, my wife coming in by and by, which though I know there was no hurt in it; I do not like.

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Update: Karen Wins The Day!

October 19th, 2017 03:56 pm
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[personal profile] desperance
So everyone came out of the apheresis room, and was hungry, so we went across the road to a local restaurant for lunch. And were summoned back precipitately, because they had counted everyone's stem cells and the results were ready. Hearts in each other's mouths, back we came - and Oystein had 500 million, which was plenty, and Rafa had 750 million, which was awesome. And Karen had over 1000 million, and is best. Which of course we all knew already, right?

So now we're back in the chemotherapy room, being chemotherapised to kill off the immune system all but entirely. That's the rest of today and then tomorrow too. Saturday, she gets all her thousand million stem cells back, under firm instructions to get stemming, or celling, or whatever it is that they do.
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[personal profile] oursin

And I suspect that it is Very Much Not Done to yell 'Speak up' or 'Use the Mike' when someone is giving an important formal lecture signifying professional advancement.

Maybe my hearing is getting even worse than I thought? Or maybe that lecture theatre has really crap acoustics.

(Speaker is a lovely person who does lovely work, and I bought the book that was also being launched and had it signed, but I was really rather frustrated by the actual lecture.)

But at least there were some really lovely visuals which were entirely relevant to the topic on hand.

Also put in a bit of a strop by the young person who checked my name off the list, and said 'join the queue', waving in the opposite direction to where it turned out the relevant queue was forming.

But I did see two people I knew (besides speaker) and did a little bit of catch-up with them, so I have socialed more than I recently have.

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Posted by Jennifer Stevenson

Chicago’s Lifeline Theatre has been adapting books into plays and musicals for a long time. My first view of their work was an adaptation of The Left Hand of Darkness, BVC’s own Ursula K. Le Guin’s classic novel. After that, The Snarkout Boys and the Avocado of Death, a novel by Daniel Pinkwater. I especially love their adaptations of Miss Buncle’s Book (D.E. Stevenson), Pride and Prejudice, Lucia, and of course their Georgette Heyer adaptations–so far, Pistols for Two, The Talisman Ring, and Cotillion. (They also killed Terry Pratchett’s Monstrous Regiment, and produced some really stunning new plays, my favorite being Miss Holmes by Christopher M. Walsh.)

Christina Calvit does an astonishing job on the Heyer, never more so than with Sylvester, a much-beloved and monster-long Regency romance. Dorothy Milne provides wack-crazy directing and staging to cram this ridiculously fat novel into an evening of delight. This fourth Lifeline Heyer adaptation finds every rising line and turning point in the story and makes it fabulous and funny and farcical, cuts out the lengthy bits in between—you’re a Heyer fan, you know how big this book is!—and leaves you satisfied that you’ve got the whole story.

I’ve seen Sylvester twice in previews and once after official opening. I’m planning to go again.

I’ll get this out of the way right now: Lifeline ensemble member Peter Greenberg, who absolutely slew his roles as Jack Westruther (Cotillion) and Sir Tristram Shield (The Talisman Ring), and Lord Peter Wimsey (Dorothy L. Sayers’ Gaudy Night, swoonsville!) does not play Sylvester. Okay, he may be fifty, and Sylvester is supposed to be twenty-eight. But my heart misgave me when I heard this young whippersnapper Andrés Enriquez would be taking on a role I had counted on for Greenberg.

And then I saw Enriquez do it. Yep, he’ll do nicely. He has Sylvester’s stiff courtesy and even stiffer lovemaking down pat. Can’t wait to see it again a few more times. (When Lifeline does something this well, I like to wallow. Saw their adaptation of Pratchett’s Monstrous Regiment five times. Six, if you count the reading presentation.)

Things you will not be able to visualize no matter how I try to describe them:

  • Everyone using Snakes & Ladders—actual ladders and actual slides with lovely snakes painted on them—and big Draw One cards—to fill in the massive cuts in the text, which are necessary to cram twenty pounds of book into a two hour play.
  • All the characters wear high-top sneakers, however formal their garb above the waist. Sir Nugent Fotherby’s tassles (applied to his sneakers) totally steal the show.
  • The fateful dance at Lady Castlereagh’s ball, during which Sylvester revenges himself on Phoebe in public, is a freaking hilarious combination of slightly Latin-beat dance music, perfectly Regency-stiff dance style, and some occasional wack-ass shimmies and shakes that work, omigod, because they’re performed deadpan.
  • The actors use big rubber exercise balls with handles as substitutes for horses in the equestrian conversations. You can’t imagine how Sylvester and his cousin Georgie Newbury carry off looking graceful and well-mounted and Phoebe looks as if she is in fact riding a “flat-sided screw.”
  • Three of the main characters, Sylvester, Phobe, and Tom Orde, are performed by actors of color.
  • The child Edmund Rayne and the puppy Chien are performed by various members of the ensemble with manifest reluctance. It’s a riot to watch as each one in turn receives the black spot (Edmund’s cap, or the puppy’s ears) and glumly kneels to deliver the role.
  • As always at Lifeline, they execute technical miracles in a space the size of a two-car garage with lots of head room, and the special effects are always convincing, effective, and yet of necessity bloody primitive.
  • Most of all, the romance works. I loved watching Enriquez’ Sylvester slowly coming apart and fighting it every inch of the way. Samantha Newcomb’s Phoebe is a delicious combination of hoyden and timid stepdaughter, which isn’t easy to pull off. Their chemistry is understated but you get terrific UST and a victory kiss! (Lifeline tends to be stingy with kisses, but not this time.)

Big huge kudos to Milne, Calvit, their tech crew, and a very fine cast.

So yeah, I’m going back at least twice more.

Maybe I’ll see you there, if you happen to be in Chicago between now and October 29!

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Time is a mocker, strong think is raging

October 19th, 2017 10:45 am
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[personal profile] desperance
Day Minus Two: and this is the big one, as far as treatment is concerned. We have been told to expect to be in the clinic for about twelve hours.

At seven this morning, Karen was allowed a breakfast of one (1) glass of water, one (1) granola bar, and one (1) piece of fruit with no added yogurt. Fortunately, I was allowed all the coffee I wanted.

At nine we piled into the team bus, and came to the clinic. Access ports were opened, blood was drawn, and we sat around for an hour while they tested that for stem cell wealth.

Once satisfied, they are taking us - or at least the patient half of us - into the apheresis room, to be attached to a machine for the next four hours. Their blood will be slurruped out of them, and the stem cells fished individually (I like to think) from the blood before it's pumped back in again. Karen is rated for 117,000,000 cells. Which is quite a big number, and I want to know how they count 'em.

After that comes five hours of chemo, also through the port. Then they take us home.

Karen's been connected up, and we caregivers are not allowed into the apheresis room. So guess what I get to do for the next four hours?

Uh-huh. Fortunately, while we were making our wills and giving all our worldly goods into the possession of a trust (The Trebizon Trust, did I mention? I am convinced that in a few hundred years it'll be this megacorp, dominating human space if not in fact the galaxy), our lawyer and I had a cheerful talk about how The Count of Monte Cristo is a masterpiece, and I thought, "Ooh..."

So I'm halfway through that, and there's enough reading left to keep me happy for a day or two to come. After that, though, Lord only knows what I'll turn to next. Suggestions of long, familiar comfort-reads available on e-book will be gratefully received.

[domesticity] That doesn't sound good...?

October 19th, 2017 08:44 am
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[personal profile] siderea
The water pipes in my apartment have abruptly started acting weird: very noisy and comes out sputtering. There seems to be air in the pipes. This started yesterday – first noticed when the toilet tank was refilling with cold water, checked the kitchen taps, and the cold water was doing it there, too. Then the hot water started doing that too, which has me more alarmed: that comes right out of my apartment's water heater tank, so there shouldn't be any opportunity for air to get in it, right?

I called the landlord yesterday, left a message about it. There's construction going on on the floor below me, but I asked one of the guys if they're working on the plumbing and he said no.

It's still doing it.

How worried should I be? What scenarios could be causing this?

Interesting Links for 19-10-2017

October 19th, 2017 12:00 pm
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[personal profile] andrewducker

Believe Women Matter

October 19th, 2017 06:00 am
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Posted by Nancy Jane Moore

A lot of the discussion – the angry discussion – accompanying the much-applauded fall of Harvey Weinstein focuses on believing women. The argument is that if people believed women when they said they’d been harassed, assaulted, raped, things would change.

As Jessica Valenti put it in a recent column in Marie Claire (nice to see fashion magazines becoming a bit more political, by the way):

Imagine if our culture believed women who came forward about sexual harassment, abuse, and assault. If it did, perhaps the victims of Harvey Weinstein’s alleged predatory behavior wouldn’t have feared coming forward on their own.

But I don’t think belief is the problem. It’s not that people don’t believe women; it’s that they don’t believe women matter.

When that Stanford swimmer got off with a slap on the wrist, it wasn’t that the judge didn’t believe he raped the woman in question. It was that the judge believed that such assaults against women aren’t important, especially when contrasted to the future of a white male athlete at an elite school.

And unfortunately it isn’t just men who don’t think rape, assault, and harassment by men against women are important. The new policies being put in place by the Secretary of Education make it clear that she doesn’t think women matter.

If you know your history, you know folks believed women when it was convenient to do so, as when white women accused Black men of rape. Many of those stories were lies, but no one who mattered – Black lives didn’t matter – failed to believe.

The closest I get to Hollywood is seeing the occasional movie. I sometimes read reviews, but I don’t pay attention to the gossip or the business side. I knew who Harvey Weinstein was, but I didn’t know anything else about him. (I could happily have gone the rest of my life without knowing some of the things I now know about him.)

Still, I knew the “casting couch” existed and I didn’t think it disappeared with the studio system. All those hordes of beautiful young women who work very hard at being beautiful are encouraged for a reason. They may believe they’re serious actors trying to build a career, but no one else does. Beautiful young women are there to serve the needs of powerful men.

I’m sure most of those young women think, “But for me it’s different,” because that’s what women do. We convince ourselves we’re the bright one, the talented one, the outstanding woman who is going to get chosen on her merits, not because she’s fuckable.

I wrote about my own experiences with harassment a year ago, when this topic was last all the rage.  I came up with several examples, not counting the rape attack, which I don’t count because I successfully defended myself against that one. And I didn’t include some of the of the ordinary obnoxious ones, like the time a guy motioned me over to his car to ask directions. When I got close, I could see he had his dick in his hand. (Why didn’t I write down his license plate? Why didn’t I call the cops? Probably because I already knew that men did these things and no one cared.) To this day, I never get close to a car when I’m asked for directions, even when it’s a woman asking.

But the key one was the summer internship, the one where I didn’t quite realize what was happening and thought the problem I had with the boss was that I wasn’t hip enough. Nothing happened then, either – I’ve seen naked men before – except that I didn’t get the kind of mentorship I needed from that job. And it left me angry. I’m still angry.

The harassment related to work is probably worst in the fields where being a certain kind of beautiful is part of the job description, but that’s far from the only place women run into this particular brick wall. Harassment reports out of academia are common these days, but reading the stories people tell on Facebook or in other places makes it clear that it happens in every job from fast food to the corporate suite.

We believe the women; we just don’t believe it’s important. That guy makes the big sales; who cares if he puts his hand up his co-workers’ skirts. That one is the boss; you have to make nice to him. Or, in the best of circumstances, new women employees are advised, “Don’t let X get you off by yourself.”

We believe women. We just don’t believe women matter.

Women can learn how to handle these situations so that they don’t get raped or even fondled. They can learn how to be so intimidating that people don’t try. I’ve given talks on that subject and right now I’m writing a book about it. It’s useful and important and very possible. Women are encouraged to believe that they are too weak to do anything about abusive men, and that’s not true.

But while being able to protect yourself is good and important, it doesn’t solve the whole problem. Saying no might get you fired or keep you from getting a job. Being intimidating will definitely mean some men – employers among them – won’t even consider you. A knee to the groin, even in self defense, could get you arrested. Suing is useful, and we need for more women to do it, but there’s no guarantee you’ll win. And, of course, there are situations when more than your career is at stake.

We need to change laws and policies and the culture. It is most important that we hold the powerful men like Weinstein to account, but we also need to build a society that doesn’t tolerate the everyday abuse that all women experience.

No more “boys will be boys” – a phrase that is perhaps the most obvious example of the fact that we believe women, but don’t think that abuse of women is important.

We have to build a society in which we believe women matter.

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Tuesday 18 October 1664

October 18th, 2017 11:00 pm
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Posted by Samuel Pepys

Up and to the office, where among other things we made a very great contract with Sir W. Warren for 3,000 loade of timber. At noon dined at home. In the afternoon to the Fishery, where, very confused and very ridiculous, my Lord Craven’s proceedings, especially his finding fault with Sir J. Collaton and Colonell Griffin’s report in the accounts of the lottery-men. Thence I with Mr. Gray in his coach to White Hall, but the King and Duke being abroad, we returned to Somersett House. In discourse I find him a very worthy and studious gentleman in the business of trade, and among-other things he observed well to me, how it is not the greatest wits, but the steady man, that is a good merchant: he instanced in Ford and Cocke, the last of whom he values above all men as his oracle, as Mr. Coventry do Mr. Jolliffe. He says that it is concluded among merchants, that where a trade hath once been and do decay, it never recovers again, and therefore that the manufacture of cloath of England will never come to esteem again; that, among other faults, Sir Richard Ford cannot keepe a secret, and that it is so much the part of a merchant to be guilty of that fault that the Duke of Yoke is resolved to commit no more secrets to the merchants of the Royall Company; that Sir Ellis Layton is, for a speech of forty words, the wittiest man that ever he knew in his life, but longer he is nothing, his judgment being nothing at all, but his wit most absolute. At Somersett House he carried me in, and there I saw the Queene’s new rooms, which are most stately and nobly furnished; and there I saw her, and the Duke of Yorke and Duchesse were there. The Duke espied me, and came to me, and talked with me a very great while about our contract this day with Sir W. Warren, and among other things did with some contempt ask whether we did except Polliards, which Sir W. Batten did yesterday (in spite, as the Duke I believe by my Lord Barkely do well enough know) among other things in writing propose.

Thence home by coach, it raining hard, and to my office, where late, then home to supper and to bed.

This night the Dutch Embassador desired and had an audience of the King. What the issue of it was I know not. Both sides I believe desire peace, but neither will begin, and so I believe a warr will follow. The Prince is with his fleet at Portsmouth, and the Dutch are making all preparations for warr.

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that's your job, lady!

October 18th, 2017 07:07 pm
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[personal profile] dragonyphoenix
So a smoke detector in our apartment building has been chirping since at least 4:18 Tuesday morning. Simone, my landlady, asked Jeep, who works as a contractor, to replace the batteries. Drunk, he drove out to buy batteries and then told us he'd replaced them. When I said I could still hear one chirping, he said he'd hunt it down.

Still chirping this morning. So I asked Simone to come over today and make sure it had been taken care of. I come home from work and it's still chirping. Now she wants me to hunt it down to show Jeep which one is chirping because contractor boy - who is unreliable when helping out in our apartment building - can't figure it out. THIS IS EXACTLY WHY I ASKED HER TO COME OVER TODAY!!!

Grrrr

They also serve who only

October 18th, 2017 02:39 pm
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[personal profile] desperance
As I write this, Karen’s in surgery. By the time I can post it - for I have no wifi at this hospital - we’ll be back at the apartment, and she’ll be fine. Drowsy, maybe. It’s a minor procedure, to connect a port to her bloodstream so that she can be a cyborg for a few days; local anaesthetic and a sedative, no more, but they say she’ll go to sleep.

We have a room that is ours for the duration, and all I have to do is sit in it and wait. Half my task here is waiting. (I have never liked waiting, and do it poorly.)

Outside our room in one of those windowcleaners’ cradles that hang on cables from the roof. Two men are in it with all the tools, and they are doing all the things to the wall at my back: hammering, sawing, drilling. It’s like being in the apartment, transposed to a minor key: for there they are building another tower block just next to ours, and that affords us all the noises of major construction.

I am in a weird mood, I find. I feel ... pent. Potentially eruptive. Popacatepetl in miniature. It’s just the waiting. Karen will be fine, and so will I.

I’m rereading an old favourite novel, Elizabeth Lynn’s “A Different Light”. I still hope to meet her one day, for I know she’s local and we have friends in common. (I’m also rereading “The Count of Monte Cristo”, though I have no hope of meeting Dumas. That’s on the other Kindle, back at the apartment. Reading different books on different Kindles may seem perverse, or contraindicated, but really it’s just about power management. This one, the original, a full charge lasts for weeks; t’other is a tablet-in-embryo and I only get a few hours out of it, less than my phone even.)

I thought I’d be doing more work than I am, but apparently a man can just read and shop and cook and watch TV. Maybe after this week is over, when the procedures are behind us and Karen’s just apartment-bound in neutropenia, I’ll find the mindspace again. These next few days are going to be rough: apharesis and chemo and then at last the transplant. At the moment she’s in a lot of pain - or would be, but for the shots - which they tell us is a good thing, a sign that the process is working as it should. Her bone-marrow is sending lots of stem cells out into her bloodstream, ready to be harvested, yay: but this is a painful process, and her bones ache. Tonight’s going to be the worst of that, and she’ll have the discomfort of today’s operation to deal with also. Plus a lot of stress about tomorrow, when we’ll be all day at the clinic.

Now there are weird noises happening just outside the door. Power-tool of some kind, I think. I’m not going to look. They said I can go down to the cafeteria and get some coffee, but I think I’m just going to sit here and wait till Karen gets back.

Wednesday says Happy Diwali

October 18th, 2017 05:21 pm
oursin: Photograph of small impressionistic metal figurine seated reading a book (Reader)
[personal profile] oursin

What I read

Ingested two David Wishart Corvinus mysteries, Trade Secrets (2016) and Foreign Bodies (2016) - Severn House having finally decided, it seems, to come down at some point to a price for their ebooks that is more or less comparable with mass market paperbacks rather than hardcover. These were pretty much the mixture as usual - combination of what seems to me pretty solid knowledge of what Rome and its Empire was like at the period, with upper-crust Roman sleuth cracking wise and somewhat anachronistic as the bodies pile up. There is probably a rule with extended series like this that if you haven't given up somewhere along the line, you will as a matter of habit pick up succeeding episodes as they come along.

Tremontaine Series 3, Episode 1. Interested to see where this is going to go.

Discovered by entire chance that there is an ebook of short stories about Rosemary Edghill's Bast, Failure of Moonlight: The Collected Bast Shorter Works (2012), which I had not known about and gulped down. This led me to a binge re-read of the 3 Bast mysteries - set in the world of contemporary Wicca/Paganism of the 1990s - :Speak Daggers to Her (1995), Book of Moons (1995) and The Bowl of Night (1996). I thought these held up pretty well, though possibly more for their evocation of a particular time, place and subculture, and Bast's own moral ambivalence, than for the mystery plots. In an essay appended to the shorter works she wonders if these will be what she is remembered for, eventually: she's written quite a lot in various genres under various names. I see that when I reread the space-opera trilogy Butterfly and Hellflower, written as eluki bes shahar, I felt it had rather lost its shiny. There were also, I think, some rather generic fantasy works and collaborations with Mercedes Lackey which have pretty much faded from memory, and I'm not sure I ever read any of her romances.

On the go

Only Sexual Forensics which got a bit back-burnered lately.

Up Next

The next episode of Tremontaine Season 3. Maybe Ruthanne Emrys, Winter Tide, which I have heard good things about, and is at present very briefly a giveaway from Tor. Also, have received some more v srs books from An Academic Publisher for reviewing a proposal (when offered this, I specifically look for books which are hideously expensive destined for university library editions that I would not buy for myself).

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