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Mon Feb 20th, 2017

08:12 pm - Lost weekend
Yes well, I rested a lot and read a lot and dropped a couple of pounds because hacking coughs do not conduce to appetite. But I'm about ready for this virus to be over, because those first morning lung-clearings are bloody painful, and it makes my joints hurt as well.

If I'm lucky, the stabbing knee is also virus-related; if I'm lucky, it will be cured by more prescription meds (doctor tomorrow, finally); if I'm not...

Why are the Mammoth Books of Whatever such fail? The Mammoth Sherlock Holmes, all written by the same guy, had Victorian cooks addressed as Miss Rosemary. The Mammoth New Sherlock Holmes by various authors has inexplicable typos: 'At the cost of her life she must not be identified as the treasure's finder. She needs an untermediary.' (Also forgive me if I don't think the royal regalia of Charles I legally belongs to the person who found it, and who murdered to keep it.)
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Sat Feb 18th, 2017

05:29 pm - Global warming
Lovely spring day out there- 11C, over 50F. Nice if it wasn't only February. And I indoors except for two bicycle trips to nearby supermarkets for supplies, including cold pills. This time of year the sun slants in the bedroom windows, revealing more dust bunnies than ought to be there given the presence of the air purifier. So I vacuum the bedroom and dust the tables and then have to leave the house because of the ensuing sneezing spell and itchy throat.

Next money-sink: having my ducts cleaned.

When I first moved in here I had a cat, and cat refused to be excluded from my bedroom so I had to leave the door open. But straight down the hallway was the bathroom window that sent its brite March sun bouncing off the white tile of the bath and the cream tile of the hallway straight into my room. So a friend made me a door curtain of blue velvet lined with cotton. I keep it in the doorway still, even though Jenny died twenty years and more ago. But of course I had to take everything down for last week's sanding and tile removal of the hall.

And then it occurred to me: could I put the curtain over my blind-less middle window, the one that leaks heat? Would the spring-rod fit? Why yes, yes it would. And my room is deep darkness once again. With the current temperatures the cold is suddenly not a problem, but I'm happy to be spared the before 7 am sun until we hit 'spring back' in a week or two.

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Fri Feb 17th, 2017

07:10 pm - Not quite the last act of La Traviata
Got out for blood tests at the end of the street and dinner at an all-you-can eat Japanese place. That was about the end of my stamina. Yesterday's worrying 'stab in the lungs' symptoms turn into a dry cough and a stuffy nose, so, well- tea and toast and an attempt to read Holmes pastiche. Also ibuprofen, now that I've had my last of prescription anti-inflams.

Have to say, reading one of McCrumb's winding Nora Bonesteel mysteries makes me lonesome for Granny Weatherwax. Largely because there isn't nearly enough of Nora Bonesteel.

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Thu Feb 16th, 2017

09:01 pm - Handy man/ salty dog
And lo! where there was deep red enamel paint inexpertly applied, as well as speckled linoleum cracking with age, there is modest greeny-grey-beigey vinyl tile in my upper hallway. Quiet and retiring, it looks like nothing at all, which makes the remaining patches of red (on the sill of the study, for instance) stand out the more. Shall have the man back to paint what can be painted and perhaps be happy with this part of my unsatisfactory house, at least.

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Wed Feb 15th, 2017

09:57 pm - The world is too much with reading Wednesday
I have finished nothing, started nothing, and have no idea what I will read after the next 400 pages of A Distant Mirror, if I ever get that far.

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Tue Feb 14th, 2017

09:23 pm
Have had pleasant dreams lately, one in which we (for dream definitions of 'we') moved into a large house with ever-expanding rooms and ever-expanding definitions of 'us'. No real people I can name, but a motley family of familiar friends anyway.

Last night, more specifically, I was foot-loosing it about Europe. incandescens said I could stay at her parents' place since they were away in Majorca or somewhere. House was England-of-a-certain-era: pale brown wood and buff walls, surrounded by willows and poplars and greenery, skies were always grey, and everything was close to, if not indeed part of, a market of enclosed stalls on either side of narrow lanes. On the second day her parents came home unexpectedly to find me living in their house. Were quite civil about it, served me tea, and thereafter ignored me completely. 'Ah,' I thought, 'this is English good manners.' (Possibly they'd cottoned to the fact I was not quite respectable, because I went about the market stalls stealthily removing sweets from the candy- or possibly manju- boxes for sale.)

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Mon Feb 13th, 2017

09:45 pm - Gratitudes
1. Knees hurt no more than in shoes. Which is still hurt, but not ow ow ow crippled. (Oddity: woke limber after y'day's acupuncture, took usual dosage of anti-inflams, walked happily to physio: and then knees locked up afterwards.)

2. Dollar store had a new pouffy hat to replace my threadbare one. True, it has hearts on the side outlined in fake seed pearls, but it's old-rose colour and lined, which is all I ask of a winter hat.

3. Erhu player outside the ROM Saturday. I thought, 'Gee, the Lee-Chin Crystal may be ugly, but it makes for great acoustics.' In fact he had an amplifier, and as I was approaching switched from what sounded like Chinese classics to what was definitely the Love Theme from Zefferelli's Romeo and Juliet.

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Sun Feb 12th, 2017

05:35 pm - Sunday Happiness
1. Fiesta has pinwheel party sandwiches. Salmon, egg salad, and a ham and cheese I've only heard about. 'They went in about five minutes,' says the cashier.

2. I have pâté! and gherkins! and tiny pickled onions! (which ought to be sweet and aren't, but OK). And olives and avocado and camembert and crackers and rye bread. IOW, I have canapés to go with my Johnson cocktail, yum.

3. (the biggie) Walking in boots is agony for my left knee. In shoes my knee will sometimes pang and pump and do the '100 volt jolt to the kneecap' routine, but it's inevitable in boots. I ponder the cause. Certainly my shoes are tighter, but it was to avoid tightness that I got these boots, after my old lace-ups trashed every tendon in my lower leg. Still, maybe feet need more support? I still have that size-down pair of Toe Warmers sitting on my shoe rack. Try using the left one of that with the half-length orthopedic, and the X-wide right with my usual orthopedic, and venture out into the snow.

Huzzah! Barely a twinge, even though I slip and slide in the slush. Thank you thank you thank you, Toe Warmers!

(This is all the more necessary as my doctor departed on vacation without filling my pain meds prescription. Have been taking one or two a day instead of the usual four or five. Conclusion: prescription meds are not as necessary as when I had Baker's cyst. They're still a lot easier on the stomach than Tylenol.)
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Sat Feb 11th, 2017

12:12 pm - Discovered about the internet
This phrase:

Louis C.K. described his toddler as "tiny, but she has the density of a dying sun."

Ohh, I know that kid. My chiropracter, acupuncturist, and physiotherapist have grown rich from such as this.

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Thu Feb 9th, 2017

09:12 pm - Trouble not the heart of a student...
...because thou too hadst midterm exams once upon a time. Not since high school, actually, but I gather the sciences at uni work differently. So I gave up my day off to a poor bunny with two exams on Tuesday, which means going out in the storm that is heading our way. It will drop a couple of inches by day's end before the temps hit 45F on Saturday.

Thus my gratitudes:

1. Dry and clear today and got all my erranding done, including a very large bottle of gin.

2. TTC cancellations on Saturday do not affect any of the stations I have to use to visit my aunt.

3. Red-haired Nfld(?) cashier was sweetly and gratifyingly impressed by incandescens's quilted shopping bag.

4. Gas bill is the same as December's, even with the notice: 'you have used 4% more gas than this time last year and weather has been 12% warmer.' Which I don't believe. January 2015 was much warmer than this year.

5. Physio keeps the knees happy for today at least. Tomorrow's snow may change that as Wednesday's walking undid Tuesday's ultrasound.


6. (cross fingers) Can sleep until noon tomorrow if I please no one calls.

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Wed Feb 8th, 2017

09:14 pm - The Trail of Abandoned Books
Seriously. Gave up on more books than I finished last week.

Last finished?
Nothing since that Ozawa Kuriko manga.

Reading now?
A Distant Mirror is all I have the stomach for.

Appalachian mystery waits at the library.

Much may be ascribed to low-grade virus sapping will and energy. I very much enjoyed Monday night which saw me happily sleeping ten hours, waking only to pee and then roll back into delicious sleep again.

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Tue Feb 7th, 2017

08:23 pm - Odds against
The promised early morning rain /freezing rain failed to materialize. I chose to believe Wunderground that downtown would see rain showers with patches of freezing rain, biked to my physio in dryness, and exited for work in sleet. By midafternoon the sidewalks were glazed and my bicycle was coated in clear ice. Because I am foresighted I'd brought my ice grippers with me, and so managed to salt both the back and front walks at work with no peril to my limbs. Kind co-worker gave me a ride home; trees were heavy with ice (somehow heavier than I recall the ice storm of Dec '13 as being) but no lines have fallen as yet. Bicycle remains in front of work, hopefully to thaw out overnight. May have to walk it home, but knees are happy after physio for a change, and the feat may prove doable.

The oddest thing is that these weather calculations and planning for contingencies makes life feel normal again: when ice storms were the worst that could happen, and there was never anything new about the US.

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Sun Feb 5th, 2017

08:09 pm - Cold and sleety Sunday
Incipient cold lurks in the sinuses. Am draggy, dizzy, achey, and irritable. Drinking sweet milk tea and eating buttery crumpets helps.

Thought I'd use my enforced leisure to plow through something forgettable from the shelves. Two pages in made it clear that Sax Rohmer and I are not going to get along; five pages in, that Vampire Princess Miyu makes no sense. Have already returned the Mammoth Book of Steampunk to the library after reading two stories; I don't want steampunk, I want gaslamp. Therefore have read another twenty pages of A Distant Mirror, because dryish history is just the thing when one's head aches.

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Sat Feb 4th, 2017

12:30 pm - Grumpities
1. Eye twitch.

2. Muscle knots in ITB.

3. Woken at 7 am by excited male on phone. 'At 4 am today your card was used to buy $300 worth of beagles and clothes on eBay.' (Thick accent: 'beagles' is what it sounded like.) 'Was that you? Was that someone in your house? When did you use your card last?' Couldn't remember what I last bought online. He goes on about something, I wake up enough to say 'Is this my credit card or my debit?' 'Debit.' 'Which bank?' Minuscule pause. 'TD.' 'I don't have a TD account.' Longer pause, line goes dead.

4. I buy my pants at Mark's Warehouse, always the same brand, in different styles and materials. The cotton 2XL are too tight to sit down in, the rayon 2XL float around me in cool comfort, the velour 2XL have to be rolled up at the waist and the leg because they're two sizes too big.

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Fri Feb 3rd, 2017

10:35 pm
Oddly chuffed at having finished a BL manga but also rolling my eyes at why I ever read BL in the first place. One of Ozawa Kuriko's, with wavy-haired kohl-eyed blushing salarymen discovering that no they are not in love with the shachou's daughter after all, they love her brother/ their roommate/ the louche intruder who is actually a company agent tracking industrial spies. Note also occurrence of that unlikely trope, 'my parents are divorced and remarried so they bought me this huge manshon to live in, big enough for two.' At least it's not as unlikely as that other one, 'I am a high-school student living in a manshon of my own and paying the rent from my P/T job at 7/11.'

Anyway, one Japanese book down for the reading challenge and one more for the TBR. Though I'm not sure manga should count for either.

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Thu Feb 2nd, 2017

10:05 pm - Gratitudes
1. Handed a shou ga nai early shift this morning, I took half an ativan to guarantee sleep at an unnatural hour (10:30 p.m.) Slept till phone alarm went off, as one will, and found ITB and leg tendons and knee tendons and all that stuff loose and relaxed, not tightened into immovability. If only ativan weren't addictive and paradoxical over time.

2. Alarm was set two hours before shift began on account of yestereven's snowflurries that were already carpeting the sidewalk as I went to bed. They evaporated overnight leaving me bare dry streets to bicycle in.

3. Morning was -5C cold (23F). mvrdrk's mitts kept my hands warm though the icy winds did blow.

4. No work tomorrow (forecast).

And one sadness:

Chainlink fences up around the empty businesses on Markham St.
Reading oddityCollapse )

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Wed Feb 1st, 2017

11:25 am - Update
1. The gecko people who gifted me with my highball glass are also the parents of one of our babies. The gecko was discovered near Christie Pits by a dog, not a human. Dog freaked out at something in the backyard that humans couldn't see until close investigation because, basically, chameleon-type gecko. I always wondered how that happened.

2. Workman is here. My dryer was mis-installed thirty years ago; no wonder it doesn't dry well. Let us not talk about mis-installed sink drains and shut-off taps. Moral: never trust a moonlighting plumber.

3. Snowed last night. Vanishes in sun today but probably not enough to let me bike to work. Knees are ballistic because of unmoving muscle knot in ITB.

4. Monthly reading under the cutCollapse )

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Tue Jan 31st, 2017

09:32 pm - Other people's worlds
My parents' library had a number of hardback novels by American writers- Thomas Wolfe, Steinback, Carson McCullers- and sometimes in adolescence I'd dip into them and be utterly baffled. These people didn't inhabit the kind of social and human universe I, and the characters in more popular literature, did. There was no kindness or civility or generosity to be seen, and people's motives were utterly opaque. Real people aren't like that!, I thought; why write such a revolting and demeaning view?

(My peculiar mother gave me Truman Capote and Ronald Firbank to read at a young age, and they didn't bother me at all. They were fantasies, quite as much as Ray Bradbury, though I recall one or two opaque characters in the Capote short stories.) (She also gave me Swinburne and Sappho, and I remember she wanted to get me to read Ulysses in my early teens. Occurs to me belatedly that maybe I was quite as peculiar a child as she was a parent.)
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Sun Jan 29th, 2017

03:35 pm - Recent Reading
Finished Bledsoe's The Hum and the Shiver which was... not what I expected from its provenance. I can't remember the chain of causation but I'm pretty sure it began with a Holmes pastiche by Sharyn McCrumb who wrote a series of Appalachian-set mysteries. They're in the library system: how I came to put a hold on an Appalachian-set err 'urban' fantasy I don't know.

As such it's well enough, though I wish he hadn't told us outright just who these mysterious black-haired Appalachian people are. And in a minor niggle, I dislike people arbitrarily mixing up Irish and English traditions of [redacted], the way Japanese mangaka mix up Jewish and Greek legends, just because they look purty together.

Finished also David Peace's Tokyo Year Zero, the first step up Mt. TBR. Yes, the style is irritating, but it does stop the book from being pure genre, and it does give an impression of internal chaos to match the external chaos of 1946 Japan. It shouldn't give me flashbacks to bustling 1991 Tokyo in quite a different August, but it does.

Much of the plot remains obscure, as books about conspiracies and politics generally are for me: "who is doing what to whom and why?" is one of my reading bête noires. Why did this file go missing? 'For blackmail.' But what was in the file that could be used for blackmail? 'Dunno.' I suspect that much of the action never actually happened but was a figment of the possibly-deranged narrator's mind. If I were the kind of person who happily picks apart the modulations in a Bach fugue, instead of being unable to tell what key we're in, let alone when it changes, I might pick apart the various conspiracies and double-dealings and double identities in this book. But as with music, to 'laboriously unwind the twined chains of melody link by link'- enh, ご免です: I can't be arsed. If intellectual activity is your preference, by all means go ahead. But for me, reading and music are sensual, not intellectual, exercises.

Which brings me to Elizabeth Hardwick's Sleepless Nights. I read it thirty years ago as a memoir. Now I read that it's a novel. And really, it doesn't matter. It's a lovely luminous work, describing a bunch of people who were probably appalling in reality, but who come through in the work as part of the myth of New York, a well-to-do intellectual's myth, not a popular one. Less Guys and Dolls than
And those were the reasons
And that was New York
We were running for the money and the flesh
And that was called love for the workers in song-
probably still is for those of them left.

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Fri Jan 27th, 2017

10:47 pm - Emerges from cave
1. Prophylactic monetary layout still effective. We've had snow flurries the last few days but nothing that sticks. Still won't buy a February Metropass: taxes and insurance come due next month and I just shelled out $500+ on very minor dental repair.

2. Some winters there are abandoned gloves all over the streets. This winter there are abandoned doggy bags ie bags of dog poo. Dog walkers don't usually fling their bags into the gutter, so I fancy this is infuriated green bin owners who find doggy bags in their bins and dump them out. Don't blame them, myself, even if I put them in my outdoor bin bag when it happens to me; but I do it wrathfully and profanely.

3. Sensible well-spoken civil handyman comes round today. Realized it's a relief to deal with what feels like one of my people ie someone with the same socialization as myself because so many people don't; and some people are simply mannerless jackasses. Handyman says my two little jobs should take less than a day. Finding him reasonable, I pointed out other chronic house-type fumans.

He frankly said the banister was beyond him, though he could see if the covering was still manufactured; the bunker would require a team to shore it up; but the second floor hallway could definitely be retiled, and he'll cut around each of those damnable square posts sunk into the subflooring. Having a respectable upper hallway will make me feel infinitely better. And if I want to spend as much on house repairs as I did on teeth repair last year I can have the study redone as well. Which requires layout on new bookshelves, because the current ones are sagging Ikea knock-offs. Yappari, Ikea is it.

4. First attempt at Mt. TBR is Tokyo Year Zero, and if there's a more irritating stylist than David Peace I hope never to meet him. But book goes fast enough if you ignore the narrator's many many italicised repetitions. Yes, you're hot and itchy but I shall ignore you saying that every other sentence, as I ignore your constant I curse him. I curse him. I curse hims. Seriously, why am I so stubborn about reading this? Why not do as I did with The Book of Life: trawl Goodreads for spoilers and save myself several days of pain? Mostly that there's nothing else I much want to read, I suppose.

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Tue Jan 24th, 2017

09:29 pm - Hope never changed tomorrow's weather
No snow this morning for early shift. Please no snow tomorrow for early dentist.

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Mon Jan 23rd, 2017

08:59 pm - Books about the house
Ah. So there's a Mount To-be-read challenge ongoing at Goodreads, as follows:

Pike's Peak: Read 12 books from your TBR pile/s
Mount Blanc: Read 24 books from your TBR pile/s
Mt. Vancouver: Read 36 books from your TBR pile/s
Mt. Ararat: Read 48 books from your TBR piles/s
Mt. Kilimanjaro: Read 60 books from your TBR pile/s
El Toro: Read 75 books from your TBR pile/s
Mt. Everest: Read 100 books from your TBR pile/s
Mount Olympus (Mars): Read 150+ books from your TBR pile/s

and of course I think I could do that- but last year, devoted to reading stuff I already have, and even counting things I picked up in late 2015, didn't even get me to Ararat. And for now-

...well, I have one ancient doorstop on the go (A Distant Mirror) and two this-year doorstops, one from the library. I picked up LeGuin's Lavinia (provenance Aug 2015, Manning Ave) as a carry around, and got two pages into it. While not at all unreadable as say Doris Lessing, Leguin's prose and pov is desolatingly dry and chilly. Maybe that's why I like but do not love her. My eyesight deteriorates so I can no longer gallop through the volumes and volumes of manga still on the shelf. Though give ne a bright enough reading light and a magnifier and I might try.

But frankly, I think my main reading this year will be all comfort detectives and fantasy and mostly from the library: because god knows, one is in need of comfort.

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Sun Jan 22nd, 2017

08:47 pm - Rejoice with me...
...for that which was lost has been found. Drifting in my comfy chair during acupuncture today, I had a sudden image of the inside pocket of my old coat. And when I checked it, yes indeed, there was my metropass. So it may snow or 'wintry mix' or 'snowflurries, accum. 2 cm' as much as it, or the Weather Network, likes. I am armed for the transit.

Buoyed by this gift from the universe, I finally called the handyman who advertised over at Fiesta Farms. There's good reason to drag feet when calling handymen- or plumbers or electricians or you name it- and it's called testosterone and occasionally cultural differences and quite often class differences as well. But this one sounds both civil and personable (I dislike men who bark, as so many of them do) and will drop by Thursday eve to assess my needs.

Then vacuumed the front hall and living room: alas that the old dirt devil really isn't up to the job, but the heavy old Hoover is; washed the weekend's dishes; and cooked up fish and celery and rice into a pilaff which will hold me for a few days. At some point will clean the kitchen floor, but this is enough virtue for one night.

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Fri Jan 20th, 2017

08:53 pm - In which I Art
Woke with little desire to get out of bed or do much of anything. Thus made myself bike down to the AGO to see the Mystical Landcape exhibit, so I could say I'd gone. Alas that it left me unimpressed. Possibly I lack the mystical mindset; or possibly the experience was diffused by the slow-moving crowds, three-quarters of whom were carrying a phone-like object with the recorded commentary, that rendered them oblivious to the presence of anyone else. The terracotta warriors was more crowded, but people weren't tuned in to voices only they could hear.

Anyway, mystical landscape to me means Harald Sohlberg. Though there's a stunning work by the Belgian Symbolist Degouve de Nunques. Online articles link him inextricably with Magritte, and one can see why. But the present exhibit has The Pool of Blood (the only online image seems to be from a reproduction site) which, in context of the WW1 paintings that surround it, has a nightmare frisson.
The rest of the undistinguished dayCollapse )
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Thu Jan 19th, 2017

08:52 pm - þæs ofereode, þisses swa mæg
Well yes, of course I'm feeling apocalyptic about tomorrow and what follows after. I also feel like a wimp for feeling apocalyptic. This is why reading Tang poets is so instructive. One is not dealing with famine and the An Lushan rebellion. Nor, for that matter, am I dealing with bombs falling on my city, foreign armies marching in, plague, locusts, and all the other disasters the human race has managed to survive.

We have heard too of Eormanric's wolfish ways,
of how he cruelly ruled the realm of the Goths.
That was a grim king! Many a warrior sat,
full of cares and maladies of the mind,
wishing constantly that his kingdom might be overthrown.
   That passed away; this also may.

We geascodan Eormanrices
wylfenne geþoht; ahte wide folc
Gotena rices. þæt wæs grim cyning.
Sæt secg monig sorgum gebunden
wean on wenan, wyscte geneahhe
þæt þæs cynerices ofercumen wære.
   þæs ofereode, þisses swa mæg

(The internet has lost that lovely filk on Deor-
Deor, me say day-ey-ey-or,
Thaes ofereode, thisses swa maeg,
Day- me say de- me say de- me say day-ey-ey-or,
Thaes ofereode, thisses swa maeg.)
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Wed Jan 18th, 2017

09:15 pm - No, it's the third *Tuesday* in January that sucks
Roused at 7 yesterday morning, breakfasted, & did requisite half hour of exercises that sometimes allow me to walk. At 8 put on spiked boots, inched along icy streets in the sleet towards the bus stop, saw cab and took that instead. Thus was half hour early for 9 o'clock shift, and just as well because 8:30 person was caught on stalled transit. (TTC is reliable in that you can rely on the signals to break down when there's ice or snow.) She arrives and I wander upstairs; at 9 a.m. an outside replacement person appears- hired to work for F/T staff R, I suppose- at 9:30 *my* replacement arrives (a long story I won't go into: but yes, a half hour shift) and is informed that no, /he's/ working for B starting at 10, the outside replacement is doing the 9 o'clock shift, and I am here precisely why? Why, because that's what it says on the schedule and no one informed either of us about the changes.

And still just as well because toddler 9:30 person has unaccountably failed to show, so I'm her for ninety minutes until I have to leave for physio. But I made precisely six dollars on the morning after deducting cab costs, and though everyone is figuratively singing 'Why it's good old reliable Nathan, Nathan Nathan Nathan Detroit!' at me, and my karma account is in the black, I would *much* rather have slept in till 10.
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Wednesday aganeCollapse )

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Mon Jan 16th, 2017

07:58 pm - Three nice things
1. Buying salt against tomorrow's predicted freezing rain, and hoping that possession of same will magically ensure that rain is light and quickly melted, run into J from the quondem Scoop and Bean, sunburnt from a recent mission to Honduran refugee camps. I miss the old cafe and I miss seeing J there on Saturdays, so it's lovely to run into him.

2. Phoned in a renewal request for my painkillers last night; automated service said they'd be ready after 9 am Tuesday. In light of tomorrow's weather forecast, biked up today to ask if maybe they could be ready by this evening? The scrip was already filled, so I'm armed against what will probably be a very painful trek tomorrow. But I have grippers on my boots and am as prepared as one can be.

3. Package in the mail with no return address that I could see. Is from Fearless Leader, back from her Far East marathon- it's a sobering thing when someone twenty odd year your junior talks about 'over-estimating my ability to do 4 countries in 2.5 weeks at my age.' Package contained Japanese eye masks for tired eyes and a little year of the rooster memento, or as she puts it "a little stone for the year of the cock." Not sure how much FL is up on medieval sexual vocabulary and if the pun's deliberate or not, but I shall choose to think it is. (For those not up on med.sex.vocab, 'stones' are what we would call 'balls'.)

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Sat Jan 14th, 2017

08:58 pm - Arghities again
Oh my ISP. Still can't get at my spam mailbox, still receiving hourly! spam reports for the ancient email of fifteen years ago. Still wait times of an hour+. Call and they advise emailing; email and they advise calling; call and they suggest you leave a number for a call-back which will take 'several hours- but we *will* call you back!'

Started The Book of Life because I want to know about that Ashmole ms, dammit, but argh argh argh can't take the vampires and witches and innumerable family members and the horrid things they did to each other and all the horrid secrets which weren't hinted at before but which we will have heaped on us in ever larger servings. I could look at goodreads and spoil myself for plot, or I could just put the damn things on the lawn and forget they ever existed.

Weary of reading Dr. Jekyll and Mr.Holmes-- doesn't help when you know the gimmick--, in an evil hour I picked up The Decameron again. I am now officially half way through, and it's as tedious and leaden as ever.

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Fri Jan 13th, 2017

09:17 pm - Justification
If I didn't believe in anti-sympathetic magic (you know, the one where it rains if you wash your car and doesn't rain if you bring an umbrella to work) I might be somewhat ticked off that I'd bought a January Metropass. It requires me to ride transit twice a day for thirty days to break even and I've used it precisely one day in the first half of this month. But since I *am* a believer- look! It worked! And seems set to work for at least another ten days! Yay for shoes and bicycles and dry, or at any rate rainy wet, sidewalks. Long may they continue.

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Thu Jan 12th, 2017

09:12 pm - Full moon melancholy?
Flu is going around. Wash hands and drink lots of water, I'm told. Wanhope is also going around, and I don't know of any preventatives for that.

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Wed Jan 11th, 2017

10:03 pm - Happinesses
It snowed yesterday, heavy sloppy sleeting stuff, and I walked in boots one subway stop to my physiotherapist, and was not in screaming agony when I got there. Transit to work, transit home, bus is not there when it should be, so I walked the three long blocks to my place over slippery slush and icy tromp-down, and my knee was stiff for sure but still not owey. The relief at having boots on ice not equaling immediate and intense pain is amazing.

Rained all night and the snow is gone and I bicycled to work and wore my shoes to bicycle home, and my knees do not hurt. This is either the effect of exercise, or of wearing my old orthotics in my shoes, or of wearing an off-the-peg foam orthotic in my left boot, or of my doctor being right that 1000 units of Tylenol is indeed an effective pain-killer. Can't believe it's more effective than tylenol and codeine, but evidence suggests otherwise.

And I have tomorrow off (in theory: sudden plague may change all that) and lovely physio in the morning.
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Mon Jan 9th, 2017

09:10 pm - That was the birthday that was
And nice enough, for a weekday. Mostly pleased that it didn't snow enough to impede biking for one more day and that my knees weren't trashed at the end of it. Probably will be tomorrow, when it will snow and I must walk, but ah well- all remains to be seen.

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Sun Jan 8th, 2017

08:23 pm - Grumpy Sunday
1. Finished Miss Peregrine etc and took back to library. Not impressed, and wondering what the fuss was about.

2. It's nice that my provider sends me frequent spam reports- half a dozen a day- but they're all for my ancient account that hasn't been used in fifteen years. When I could see my spam filter, the messages were addressed to my current account and were from various charities. So I'm still not sure that things aren't getting lost, but I don't feel like sitting on hold for several hours with their customer support, as they want me to do instead of using email, to get it straightened out. (Tried before; the longest I lasted was 50 minutes.)

3. mvrdrk sends me exercises for piriformis syndrome, the pain down the leg that isn't caused by a herniated disc. I note with wry amusement that, as ever, the exercises necessitated by aging bodies and structural FUBARs are aimed at runners, who apparently abuse themselves into premature decrepitude. Note too that the exercises are largely the same ones I do for ITB and weak knees.

But as ever, they want "three sets of five to ten repetitions of each stretch two or three times per day, then three sets of 5-10 individual stretches, each held for five seconds. Over time, you can build up to 60 seconds for each stretch." The tedium of exercise, of counting seconds and counting reps. I also remember mvrdrk saying how boring simple knee stretches are, and ohh, aren't they. 'Hold for two minutes, then repeat.'
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Sat Jan 7th, 2017

09:27 pm - Unexpected happiness
Don't know why I checked the mailbox: Saturday delivery went out in the 70s, I believe. But evidently parcels are different, because there was a large amazon box inside, and in the box was a gift-wrapped birthday present from incandescens. Which I at once opened, not being in the mood to wait till my actual birthday. So I now have The Kalevala, *not* in the translation which inspired Hiawatha thank god.

(The reason I never tried reading The Kalevala is because I read this first:

He killed the noble Mudjokivis.
Of the skin he made him mittens,
Made them with the fur side inside,
Made them with the skin side outside.
He, to get the warm side inside,
Put the inside skin side outside;
He, to get the cold side outside,
Put the warm side fur side inside.
That's why he put the fur side inside,
Why he put the skin side outside,
Why he turned them inside outside.)

Am a little kerblonxed to discover that The Kalevala was a stitched-together work, and the stitching was done deliberately in the 1830s. I grant you The Iliad and The Odyssey and Beowulf, and for all I know the Mahabharata as well, were all stitched together, but, you know-- that all happened back *then*, and there were probably multiple stitchers, and anyway there's no record of them doing it, so, like, it doesn't count. It just seems a bit erm like cheating to give one character's lament to another woman entirely who has been trifled with by wanton Lemminkäinen and his trifling ways, merely for the sake of a good story.

So thank you very much, incandescens. This should prove an excellent winter read, unless I get so tired of "wanton Lemminkäinen" that I write 'horndog' in black ink over every occurrence of the adjective. I mean, it still scans.

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Fri Jan 6th, 2017

08:41 pm - Friday Gratitudes
1. No snow! Dry streets!! SHOES!!!

Result of which is: shoes at work are much better than old Birks. Shoes seem to have cushioning which boots lack: wonder if soft inserts would help at all. Still had to stretch tendons for fifteen minutes after work and knees still catch during, but maybe regular stretching would alleviate instant boot-pain.

2. Fiesta Farms had two trilight bulbs hidden away on the shelf. Not as good as the now non-existent tripacks, but at least I have two more 50-100-150s for my bedroom and living room.

3. The smiley Maritimer (I assume, from accent) red-haired checker at Fiesta who always makes my day.

4. Next Thursday off, and maybe Friday as well.
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Wed Jan 4th, 2017

06:37 pm - Rambling reading meme
Finished since last week?

Queen Victoris's Book of Spells, Windling and Datlow eds
-- Library book; provenance: found perhaps while searching for steampunk entries in the catalogue? Is not steampunk, which takes the worst parts of Victorian society and glorifies it. Is gaslamp, which is fantasy and possibly more congenial except that it's still 19th century, a pretty suffocating time by me.

Must note best of field, because I never remember stories:
The Unwanted Women of Surrey by Kaaron Warren, oddly surreal
Jewel in the Toad Queen’s Crown by Jane Yolen: gaslamp and steampunk need more jewish voices
Estella Saves the Village by Theodora Goss. Because of course I *would* love a village peopled by fictional Victorian characters.

Cogman, The Burning Page
-- provenance: gift of the author. Nice to read in one place and on paper. And erm yes- Irene really should not have been able to do what she does at the end.

Okorafor, Akata Witch.
-- Library book; provenance: something online comparing it with Harry Potter and Hermione. (shrugs) Felt more like The Library to me. Had a hard time getting into this: possibly I can't read YA anymore. Possibly Nigerian methods of discipline curl my very straight hair.

Also: Harry Potter gives me the oogies now: lowering, depressing, reminder of a painful past. Had to google horcruxes the other day, because I never read the last book, and felt lousy afterwards. Rowling has an irritating water-colour style and her ideas are... not of the first rank, shall we say? Not as bad as Dan Brown, I'm sure, but such a tedious chore to read. And the fandom was deplorable.
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Tue Jan 3rd, 2017

09:06 pm - Grumbles and gratitudes
1. Rained all day. Rain removed most of the lingering ice so I could bicycle.

2. The Bloor St bike lanes are strewn with debris that makes using them an antsy prospect, especially the large chunks of black ice kicked off the sidewalk and the sharp twigs detached from the trees during heavy snows. I'd never chance using the lanes in winter if there were more power bicyclists out. But again, the city has little snowplow bobcats solely for the lanes. Without them, and with street parking, there'd be an immovable shelf of ice and snow piling up onto the curb, cars parked several feet out in the street to avoid those, and thus no room for a bicycle at all. And of course, during rush hour when street parking is suspended, there'd be four lanes of irascible traffic jostling for 1.5 lanes on each side, and death to all two-wheelers.

3. No work tomorrow, so I may recover from today.

4. My old Dirt Devil has lost the hoovering power of its youth and been banished to the downstairs front room, but it still does an adequate job of cleaning up the salt and grit I track in with my deep-tracked boots, so I needn't wrestle the excellent but heavy old Electrolux out to do it.

5. There are no more 50-100-150 watt trilights to be had. (There are 100-200-300 at Weiners, but the base is for those huge sockets that come with '30s lamps, is why they still remain.) But Weiners' also had 30-60-100 trilights, and I got half a dozen, and must be content with those. 150 was always too strong for anything but sewing anyway.

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Mon Jan 2nd, 2017

08:22 pm - Accounting
I think I shall adopt [personal profile] starlady's reading challenge for 2017, modified to my own case

Read 120 books not counting rereads
Read 25 physical books owned since 2016 or earlier
Read 30 books by authors of color
Read 20 books in translation
Read 15 books in Japanese

My stats for last year go

117 books finished

5 rereads, but I last read Cue for Treason over 50 years ago and the first three Dalemarks over 30 (IIRC); and one must reread Full Fathom Five after reading Four Roads Cross because only then does it make sense.

39 books owned before 2014: I'd have thought there were more

32 books by 26 writers of colour. The number goes up if you include books whose protagonists are characters of colour (thank you, Mr Cotterill)

20 in translation.

2! in Japanese

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02:10 pm - Health memo: nothing to see here
Warm enough to bicycle these last few days. I notice that the aches and pains are still there but now are all chronic accustomed ones- ITB, hip, side knee tendons- not crippling as long as I don't try walking. Suggests that memory of being pain-free in the summer owes a lot to low-grade familiar rather than actually improvement.

So... must concentrate on strengthening the knees and see what that produces, as well as bouts of careful walking, for the same reason. Walking on clear flat, even in boots, is indeed productive; walking on ice leads to spasm. I might also try to stay aware of what I'm doing differently each time.

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Sun Jan 1st, 2017

03:14 pm - Summing Up
The clear sun slants into my black and white hallway, shining from the blue sky of another and happier year.

Last year's reading challenge was a success, by and large, if we ignore that 'must come from the TBR pile' clause. The one category I didn't fill and more than fill is, ironically, the one that could have been furnished from books on hand, namely mainland Chinese literature. I have more books of Chinese poetry that I've only dipped into than I know what to do with.

But perseverance allowed me to clear the shelves of many things that had mutely reproached me for not having the perseverance to read them before- The Hero with a Thousand Faces, Pandemonium and Parade, The Radiance of the King, The Bucks and Bawds of London Town, Hear the Wind Sing, Raffles the Amateur Cracksman, The Angelic Avengers, Master Skylark, The Courtier, The Autobiograpy of Benvenuto Cellini, The Conference of the Birds. Also of more recent acquisitions that were just as dumbly reproachful of my inability to get into them or even start: The Famished Road, In the Skin of a Lion, Sister Pelagia and the White Bulldog, Dan Leno and the Limehouse Golem, A Natural History of Dragons, The Dalemark Quartet, Dreamblood, and Moorcock's Gloriana- even if I didn't finish those last. These are picked-up books of the school of 'I should read this some day.' The dispiriting realization is that some day is now, not some indistinct far future/ twenty-years-from-now 'when I'm old and retired and at leisure.'

Book of the Year was probably the biography of Lorenzo de Medici, which acted as a springboard to a lot of other stuff. Most enjoyed, perversely, is Cotterill's oeuvre of Dr Siri books, even if I'll probably never reread them; and of course the latest Aaronovitch, Gladstone, 100 Demons and Library installments.

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Sat Dec 31st, 2016

06:12 pm - What *do* they teach them in these schools?
No point in talking about anything current, so I shall just note, in a last outburst of spleen for 2016, that someone who claims to be obsessed with the Victorians, and spends all his time reading and writing about them, has no justification for making Dr. Watson refer to a lady as Ms. B---.

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Fri Dec 30th, 2016

08:24 pm - Creaking joints
Another early shift, another trashed knee. Don't ask me why: I was careful to sit when I could and to stretch ligaments. But no- put on boots, walked out of work, ow pain stabbity. Streetcar to subway, subway one stop, stabbity stab to library for hold, and realize I left my phone at work. Cabbed it back, as I had cabbed it down earlier, thought about having him wait but knee felt better. Get phone, walk out- stabbity stab stab 'ohhh I think I'll crumple under your weight!' hysterics. Lather, rinse, repeat.

Home and into a Johnson cocktail and two anti-inflammatories. (Hush, I *know*) Knees become lamb-like quiescent. Can walk no problem. It *has* to be something about the boots, but I can't think what.

Maybe I should try my shoes with snow grippers instead? They leak, but if it makes my knee happy, I'll take frozen wet feet.

(And postpone visiting my aunt till after the first when my pass becomes active, because the subway entrance near her place won't take tickets or tokens anymore and walking another two blocks to one that does is... I would prefer not.)
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Thu Dec 29th, 2016

08:45 pm - Trivial domesticities
For the same price, Tide laundry powder gets you seven more washes than Tide laundry liquid. Should I sacrifice those seven washes for the sake of not having white powder trails on my black washes?

Yes, but only if I remove all Kleenex tissues from my pockets ahead of time. Otherwise the result is the same.

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Wed Dec 28th, 2016

04:41 pm - Turn of the year
The Dead Days this year are cold rather than warm- reasonable cold, not arctic vortex- so the grey is sharp and hard-edged and sprinkled with white as in childhood holidays, not the dank depressing melting lour of the mid-oughties. Would enjoy it more if I weren't crippled. My left knee objects to my boots, my wide perfect boots, and stabs whenever I walk in them. Stabs also when I bicycle and might stab in shoes, who knows. If it wouldn't snowflurry so picturesquely I'd be willing to give shoes a try. However, happy pills or possibly maturity make me sanguine about all this. What will be, will, and all that.

It's still and suddenly Wednesday again.
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Tue Dec 27th, 2016

08:52 pm - But still there's the bath
Can't believe I used to have baths two days out of three for the better part of a decade. Now they're a luxury, time and heat-wise, and iffy as to whether I can get into and out of them. But some days you just need hot water to the neck and eucalyptus-scented epsom salts, and today is one of them.

Acupuncturist says 'I'm seeing a lot of people with indoor allergies all of a sudden.' Count me among them, then. Ah-choo ah-choo ah-choo when I walk into Loblaws or the Blue'n'White bookstore or my own bedroom.

(Is it the move to the Russian servers that won't let me change my icon or access people's FLs on my phone?)
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Mon Dec 26th, 2016

09:23 pm - The uses of technology
Yes, Foxglove Summer did come out over two years ago, meaning before I had a cell phone for continuous reference. With non-fic reading I use it to google things like which Giuliano was Il Magnifico's son and which his grandson or was it nephew? and what's the pinyin for T'ao Ch'ien. Now I get to sort out the dizzying array of acronyms in Peter's vocabulary: IC1, NSA, NCA, MIT, SCO19, DVLA, IED, PACE, IIP, PMC, and on and on. Doubtless adds versimilitude to a wild and unconvincing narrative, but sheesh...

Also read very carefully and made notes on names because, sheesh again, upper-class English names are infinitely confusible.

Am waiting to see if that smoking gun from Broken Homes is ever explained. Or am I supposed to figure it out myself because Aaronovitch thinks it's obvious?

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Sun Dec 25th, 2016

05:15 pm - Silent day
If there's a better way to spend Christmas than reading the newest Aaronovitch. I've yet to find it. Many thanks to incandescens for this particular treat.

(It's been *two years* since Foxglove Summer. Where does the time go?)

The s-i-l posted this graph on FB. Coincidentally, coworker gave me Santa Claus patterned rubber-soled socks for Xmas. Of course I was delighted.
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Sat Dec 24th, 2016

08:22 pm - I has a sad
Grey dank December day, but streets empty enough to bicycle if one exercises care and doesn't mind pissing off motorists, who only put up with slow-moving vehicles in front of them when said vehicles are a) official and b) bigger than they are. Garbage trucks, snowplows, buses. In fact, yesterday I witnessed a line of cars honking at a FedEx truck pulled up on a snow bank but still, in the drivers' minds, blocking the way because of the cars parked on the other side of the street. Then driver of third car got out and walked around the first car: 'Look, room enough for me to get by on *this* side, and oh look, room enough for me to get by on *this* side, so will you MOVE?' and walked back to his car, muttering expletives, as they say. I felt like applauding.

But when I got down to Markham St, ready for beef bourgignon at The Butler's Pantry, all was dark. 'We are open at our original location at 371 Roncesvalles.' I mean, I know one or two businesses on the block have closed, and Honest Ed's closes for good on Dec 31, and some time in the near future it will be demolished, and eventually all the buildings will come down: but that's *eventually*. (snerf) They could at least have mentioned they were closing before Christmas, but no, they did not. No announcements anywhere.

And so farewell to one of the few nice things from the 20-teens, and a couple of happy memories.
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Thu Dec 22nd, 2016

08:39 pm - Bucket list
I've always wanted to try turducken and today I have, because the local super was serving individual portions of same. And now I know that the turkey part is dry but the duck and chicken inside is lovely. I'm not sure if it was a proper bird-in-bird-in-bird, since I strongly suspect that at least one of the interior birds was minced.

Still yummy.

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Wed Dec 21st, 2016

08:42 pm
Our bus.cord makes cookies for everyone and hands them out in individual packages along with cards. The cookies are always excellent and I dole them out carefully over the holidays. Except this year because it's 2016 and one must carp the diem, so I ate them all for dinner.

Am with that person who tweeted that the nice thing about being Jewish is that for you, 2016 was over 3000 years ago. Mind, I bet +/- 3760 BC was no hot hell either.
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