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all gall

Fri Oct 21st, 2016

09:55 pm - Oh Happy Day
Dreamed I was in sort of an Edo-period chanbara, all properly dressed in Edo-period kimono, at a probably *not* Edo-period restaurant with present-day shoji booths etc (that now I think might owe to Samurai Champloo) in the company of a bunch of Japanese dream-friends. Had to use the bathroom down the hall, which is very not Edo. The toilet was western but it sat in a long earthen pit which was six inches deep in muddy water. 'Use the toilet slippers!' my friends were saying, but I was all 'What about my socks!!???'

My mind is now trained to recognize toilet dreams as the sign of a full bladder, so I woke up and limped down the hall. Then viewed the grey light out the study window, checked clock- 8:15- and remembered that the 'We are currently experiencing extremely high volumes of calls' tax dep't starts answering their phones at eight. (And not 'available 24 hours' as the recorded message likes to tell you. That's for minor city stuff other than property taxes- well, maybe for downed power lines; I dunno. But not taxes what everyone wants to ask about.)

At 8:15 everyone doesn't want to ask. Got a clerk right away and inquired why they hadn't taken their money from me this month. After I'd answered the usual skill-testing questions, she clicked through to my account. Property Tax Increase Rebate, which last year sent me a grateful cheque, this year is applied directly to my taxes. 'You'll be receiving a letter from the city.' I bet I will; information is not the bureaucracy's strongest suit. But October's installment is cancelled, November's is reduced, and it's back to normal in December.

Which means I have five hundred dollars more than I thought I did. So maybe I *will* get a tablet after all.

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Thu Oct 20th, 2016

08:37 pm - Staggering towards the weekend
Scans reading list. Do these exercises for two minutes a day and you’ll immediately feel happier, researchers say. Hmmm... 'Three Acts of Gratitude. Spend two minutes a day scanning the world for three new things you’re grateful for.' Not three egregiously entitled things people said today that made me livid? (Scratch that- two egregiously entitled things and one aggrieved whine.)

Yes well, this is why I am not a happy soul.

But in the universe's small gifts dep't-

Someone at work says 'You know your watch is in the medicine box?' No, I didn't know. Whichever kind soul picked it up from where I dropped it and put it in the medicine box for safe keeping didn't mention the fact to me. (And if it was *I* who put it there and utterly forgot doing so, don't tell me, because then I will be sure I have early onset Alzheimer's.) But I have my neat battery watch back, and am grateful.

Among the list of 'Tiresome Phonecalls To Faceless Bureaucracies' Automated Answering Services' currently on the agenda was one to my email servers, to ask about the bold screaming yellow message at the head of the spam filter, to the effect that the use of McAfee would be cancelled as of January the somethingth and please make alternate arrangements. Note it was my provider who selected McAfee, not I. Today comes an email from the provider saying ignore any such messages, we're just upgrading the service. Whew.

General Meeting passed swiftly and painlessly with childcare provided by two sweet enthusiastic Young People, one briskly professional Young Person, and two arthritic old lags. The older of the arthritic old lags was pleased with the company and happy it's all over for another six months.

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Wed Oct 19th, 2016

07:53 pm - Triumphs of a sort
My cell phone will take pictures again. I feel mighty!

Now I shall worry about why the government hasn't withdrawn my property taxes from my account this month and whether they'll blame me for it.
MemeageCollapse )

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Tue Oct 18th, 2016

09:57 pm - The Coyote Road
Alan Garner's The Guizer is a collection of traditional trickster tales, and the tricksters in them- Coyote, Anansi, Raven- are not nice people at all. Impulsive, violent, casually cruel: somewhere between sociopath and brain damaged.

The tricksters in this collection were written by 21st century westerners and are a much more civilized lot. Only the evil suffer, if anyone suffers at all, which is how we like it in our fictional worlds. I don't say I'd like the trad figure in my stories, but these benevolent tricksters are, mh, well.

There *is* an amoral force in Jeffrey Ford's The Dreaming Wind, but it's the wind itself, which one can live with. And Theodora Goss' poem How Raven Made his Bride has sociopathic Raven, sure enough, who doesn't win in the long run. Otherwise I really liked The Fiddler of Bayou Teche for the setting- Louisiana bayous- and the semi-patois and the sad werewolves who live out in the swamp. Also Kelly Link's The Constable of Abal for its unique take on ghosts and oddly derived, not quite traceable, world building; and Jedediah Berry's The Other Labyrinth for the inevitable echoes of Borges and the unexpected and almost certainly unintentional echoes of Martin Pippin in the Apple Orchard.

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Mon Oct 17th, 2016

11:53 pm - Time travel
Yesterday's dank and heavy turned into last night's dank and uneasy. Couldn't sleep at all. At last turned on light and for no good reason, rousted out one of my long ago id-fics from Papuwa fandom and reacquainted myself with it. Fic, if left long enough alone, works as well as smells to bring another time vividly back to life. How long ago and other-universe the mid-90s were, and how much I'd forgotten the fact.
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Sun Oct 16th, 2016

05:55 pm - Sooop of the evening
Soup of a day: too muggy, too warm, too wet. The skies have finally gone from low grey ceiling to discrete grey and white clouds, and the sun slants through to make all the trees out back bronzey-gold. But the temps and the pressure still seem set on inciting a headache of some kind. Feels like hurricane weather, actually.

There are no terrycloth robes to be found. Saleswoman at Pennington's opined that most people don't want to pay the extra and so everyone uses microfibre instead. Microfibre keeps you warm, I will allow, but it certainly doesn't wick up the wet after a bath and it deposits stuff in the water supply. My current terry robe is going on ten years and was come-by-chance at Winners, after all the gentlemen's haberdashers told me that no one had terrycloth. (Maybe I don't shop in the right places. They can be had online from Hudson's Bay. Except that I like to see what they mean by L and XL.)

What a good thing I didn't read the cover of The Angelic Avengers. Most egregious spoiler since The Magus ('There is no Julie.') Like that it consists of a passage from late in the novel, and unlike that the passage doesn't spoil the action, just describes a character walking into the room. But the line above it? 'Portrait of a villain.' Why yes, thanks for relieving you readers of any uncertainty they might have had through half the book's length as to what was what.

Certainly it's more melodrama than Dinesen Gothic, but that's fine. The types at Goodreads were trying to figure what it satirises and why. Victorian melodrama, say they, which makes me wonder what melodramas they've read. I... don't feel it's a satire at all. It's a melodrama pure and simple, which allowed Dinesen to get something off her chest.

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Sat Oct 15th, 2016

07:52 pm - The Angelic Avengers
My sporadic and unsatisfying reading finally turns up something which is at least page-turny: The Angelic Avengers by Pierre Andrézel, aka Isak Dinesen. It was my mother's, probably an original hardcover, which I started in '98 but got nowhere with until interrupted by a gall bladder attack. I think it felt too High Wind in Jamaica for me at the time. However, I have learned to persevere and am now halfway through, having just learned what it is the angelic avengers are going to avenge..

Having discovered how goodreads can make any book seem not worth reading, I purposely read nothing about it, including the dustjacket blurb. This has led to an anxious few days. Because OK, clearly we're being set up for a Gothic, but are we going to get the subtlety of Dinesen's Gothic, or something closer to the genre tropes; or are we indeed going to slop over into de Sade territory? I mean, there must be a reason why she used a(nother) pseudonym. This is what happens when straight lit people wander into genre territory, as we all know. They don't know the rules so don't play by the rules so anything at all could happen and there's no guarantee of safety.
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I will say, it's actually refreshing to have young women who are shocked and unmanned by the wickedness about them, instead of cheerfully blase and managing like Burgis' Kat Stephenson. It's what makes Dinesen's early 19th century setting feel realistic.

Otherwise last night with The Little Girls turned out to be dinner and a show, and the show was Despicable Me, which of course I'd never seen before. Now I know where Minions come from. I only see films when I'm at TLG's place and this was certainly several cuts above the Disney Princesses.

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Thu Oct 13th, 2016

09:49 pm - Three gratitudes
The dollar store has waffle shirts in again, which I wear three seasons of the year to work and that get splashed with bleach droplets and imbued with a sweat smell that won't go away. So new ones at $10 a pop are always appreciated. And maybe I'll give in and just throw out the smelly ones, since none of the classic treatments can reduce that lingering stink to a point where my foxhound's nose can't detect it.

I have tomorrow off work, and it will be a sunny autumn day, and I could go to Old Navy and get some tanktops that fit.

And in the evening I sit the Little Girls, who are practically at an age to sit themselves. But they wanted me over! So, yeah.

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Wed Oct 12th, 2016

09:00 pm - Reading Wednesday would prefer a hot bath
Or new joints. Or a permanent nerve blocker. (Staff with rotator cuff injury was given a nerve blocker for her surgery. 'Why can't *I* have one of those?' I demanded. 'Because they're very dangerous,' said the Nurse Trainee, and proceeded to tell me why. So sad.)

Last finished?
Matsuura, A Robe of Feathers.
-- reread of Gaijin Writes Youkai, more appreciated now I have more youkai under my belt. Made me wonder if perhaps I'd been reading Ima Ichiko backwards, as it were: thinking of her as a disjunct from trad youkai (all those Edo period long-necked one-eyed bogles) when she was actually adapting them to the modern world. Matsuura does very much the same. I just wasn't seeing her as an Ima Ichiko manga, and should have been.

She has a blog here.

Reading now?
Still with the ack argh everything!

Getting somewhere with The coyote road: trickster tales. Datlow and Windling do good anthologies. Must comment on the stories before I take it back or in a week I'll have forgotten all of it.

Still forging through The Classic which is still in formulaic mode. Will tell you if I ever get to the myth parts.

Don't want to read The Secret Place. Tana French's Dublin blokes are too blokey for me.

The Pound Era and Women who run with the wolves sit and look at me reproachfully. Can I legitimately put them out on the boulevard on the grounds that I tried reading them, I really did, but they bore me? Same is true of The Decameron but I might actually read the second half of that just to say that I did.

And next?
Will there ever be a next? A mystery set in the 18th century is on its way from the library as is one of Shaun Tan's manga. May have better luck with those.

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Tue Oct 11th, 2016

10:12 pm - The usual disasters
Last time it was my left elbow that went berserk; today, after three days of no lifting, it's my right. Neck, says my physiotherapist glumly, and gives me ultrasound and traction, but I still get the lightning shocks down the arm from time to time. Not playing online solitaire would help, but I also realize typing involves the sort of looking down I'm Not Supposed To Do. Maybe put my keyboard on a box?

Also managed to lose my watch somewhere. Will not break my heart over it- too small and the metal band regularly bit me. But all the little watch shops I used to patronize have vanished- four, to date- and where will I find another?

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Mon Oct 10th, 2016

05:17 pm - Thankful for a beautiful weekend
What a lovely weekend this weekend was. Sunny and cold and invigorating, a quiet corner away from the world. Biking through the superb afternoon, I wondered (and not for the first time) why the fact that a day is a holiday changes the whole tenor of the city. It's not like this on my rare days off; it's not like Bloor St and its restaurants are any less crowded than on a weekday. Am I picking up a relaxed vibe from the people around me? Am I subconsciously registering fewer cars and bikes and much less aggressive modes of driving both? Whatever, it's really lovely and I love it.

Must admit, if it was warmer, as past Thanksgivings have been, I suspect the mellow vibe would be less in evidence. Something about warmth in unwarm seasons makes the Torontonian soul determined to get out and ENJOY!! before the long winter begins. And must say, the crowds inside Sushi On Bloor were as loud as ever. That I got into that trendy eatery is down to me showing up at 2:30 because normally I wouldn't even try. Their portions are as big as ever, including the servings of wine, but I still prefer Next Generation across the street, just as good and much more subdued.
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Sun Oct 9th, 2016

08:54 pm
Brisk winds, bright sun. Am thinking fondly of a purring furnace tonight, but maybe I'll gaman it out. Midweek the lows will be 14 again.

Reading strangers' LJs and FBs, I think that what I want to be is retired with a partner and a pension, with whom and on which I could travel around Europe, sampling vineyards and restaurants and out of the way small towns. Not going to happen, but makes a pleasant fantasy.

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Sat Oct 8th, 2016

08:12 pm - Long weekend varia
1. OK, autumn says, no more Mr. Nice Guy. Forget those balmy lows of 15/16 and those daytime humidexes of 30. We're going for COLD (ie under 10) with a north wind to back it. Close the windows, wrap up in quilts and flannel, pray you don't need the furnace this early. And now I'm almost wishing I had a space heater, though those things suck electricity, just to warm up the bedroom, the way the window A/C cools it down.

2. One positive reinforcement of adulting is the nice clean fresh-smelling terrycloth robe. Oddly, this doesn't work for sheets and pillow cases, but that's because I do those at home in energy-efficient cold water detergent, which doesn't smell nearly as nice as the laundromat's hot water Tide.

3. Note trees going red, street gutters golden with fallen ash leaves (if they are), pure white clouds in blue sky etc. A brisk Thanksgiving, I think, unlike the past two or three years: but then look at past stats and discover it's quite as warm as those past Thanksgivings. Try 2012 with its highs, not lows, of 8 and 9. And last night my bro and s-i-l went swimming in Lake Erie, so yeah.
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Fri Oct 7th, 2016

01:30 pm - Lazing on a summer afternoon
Even if it's October. Wash hangs out on the line, which didn't get done on the rainy weekend last week and can't be done on the rainy weekend this week. The reckless extravagance of (gasp) doing laundry in the middle of the day stuns me- though it's about time the high rate period stopped being mid-day and started to be the cold morning and evening hours.

In the wine store the other day, music is black female singer doing something gospelly. I know nothing of spirituals aside from the ones 60s folk singers preempted (Kumbaya, Swing Low Sweet Chariot, Michael Row the Boat Ashore): this was achingly familiar but certainly not from the folk era. 'What *is* that?' I asked the clerk. 'Um- Elton John.' Lord, lord, the Border Song. How long ago that was.

I should have started The Classic of Mountains and Oceans long ago. The preface alone is enchanting, not least because it exhibits a lovely range of old-fashioned obscure academic vocabulary, so different from modern-day obscure academic jargon:
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Thu Oct 6th, 2016

08:37 pm
Which is worse: listening to 90 minutes of jazz radio or listening to 90 minutes of jazz radio fundraising? 'If you pledge $20 a month you become eligible to be one of the guests on our two hour airplane cruise over southern Ontario!' No wonder they're falling short. (My physiotherapist stays tuned to JazzFM and today I had the full treatment.)

The highs and lows are those of a nice summer day- 14 and 24. We had a few days like that in July, but then I didn't feel the need for long-sleeved sleep shirt and flannel pants and bedsocks and sleep hoodie, and flannel sheets over the summer duvet I sleep on, and under the winter duvet I sleep beneath, because I was so *cooold*. Clearly my body thinks it's fall even if the weather doesn't agree.

Reading someone's LJ who notes she's reading The Invisible Library but wonders parenthetically why all steampunk/ AU Londons require a Sherlock Holmes figure. They don't, actually, but the ones I've read without one feel a little lacking. The fact is that Holmes *is* the embodiment of that London which is most easily assimilable into steampunk. So are Oscar Wilde and, alas, Jack the Ripper: not the real people of that name but the fictions of themselves they either created or had created for them.

I suppose this is all Alan Moore's fault. Except that long before Moore there was "In those days Mr. Sherlock Holmes was still living in Baker Street and the Bastables were looking for treasure in the Lewisham Road." Holmes defines a place and time that exists in fictional history, where gas lamps burn and hansoms run and it is always 1895

(His opposite number I think is Queen Victoria herself, an iconic real person who carries naturally over into fiction. Or maybe she too is a created personage like the Ripper? except the figure her umm publicists created then- the revered Queen and Empress- isn't at all what shows up in books where no one actually reveres the monarchy.)

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Wed Oct 5th, 2016

08:31 pm - Reading Wednesday is too picky
Last finished?
Parker, The Masuda Affair
- The Perils of Akitada. Superiors who hate him, wives who fail to understand him, henchmen who have lives of their own, and communication failures all round. Generally I have limited sympathy for characters who torture themselves about what someone else must surely be thinking or feeling or doing, and Akitada has turned into one of these.

Currently reading?
Cut for fumanCollapse )

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Sun Oct 2nd, 2016

08:53 pm - The week begins again tomorrow
Middling day of sun and clouds and rain and threatened storms, muggy and insect-bedevilled. Early morning tomorrow, so am waiting for sweet ativan to work. Finished an Akitada, started the next one, within three pages Akitada had put his foot in it and exited on his high horse, possibly jobless. Do not remember Akitada being this thick in earlier works, but if he is now, I may be spared reading the series. Started instead Amy Tan's Saving Fishes from Drowning, about a dead woman in the afterlife narrating her life, which is pretty much what I want now.

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Sat Oct 1st, 2016

08:39 pm - Summer didn't last too long
And where did September go? Most of what I remember of last month happened in August; I remember Labour Day only because I broke my routine and went to the AGO. Other breaks in routine- even, other sunny serene days- have left no trace. I know that memory hooks are totally random: one happened last spring sometime, a rainy day reading Rankin in the local Italian eatery; but nothing hooked this month. Have recommenced ginkgo biloba and hope for the best.

Possibly of course it's because most of this month was a saga of stabbing elbows and twinging neck nerves and much money spent on physio and natch lotsa painkillers. Especially when it's dank and mizzly, as today was.

Today's one accomplishment wasn't even mine. Two doors up's morose Son of the House heeded my constant prodding and trimmed my hedge into bare twiggery. I've not been able to touch it since May (see previous paragraph), but drought and ill-health prevented it from becoming a monstrosity. Now with dead wood removed one can see through it all along its length. My side has no green left at all, just wooden uprights like the back of a stage set. The other side still looks like a green hedge, more or less. Ruthless rimming may result in burgeoning green come springtime.
September"s sad statsCollapse )

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Fri Sep 30th, 2016

09:27 pm - The wind continues to ply the saplings double, I hope you are well
Twould blow like this through holt and hanger
When Uricon the city stood:
'Tis the old wind in the old anger,
But then it threshed another wood.

(Googling for the poem gets me lots of pictures of clothes hangers and the query 'do you mean bolt and hanger?' No, I'm really not looking for climbing equipment.)

It is fall, definitely. Red begins to spread into the trees. Grey and cream skies with occasional rifts of horizon yellow where the sun has set. L'heure bleue (or grise, if it's overcast) happens at 7 now and the evening becomes an indoors domestic thing- "Darkness outside; inside, the radio's prayer."
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Thu Sep 29th, 2016

08:37 pm - The comforts of a rainy evening
1. Rainy autumn nights are cozy. This has to do with an obscure memory from childhood, something to do with the warm lights of Bedford and the shiny black streets outside, and dinner, and homework at the dining room table, and the grandfather clock ticking in the hallway, sounding the quarter hours and playing a tune at the half ones: which always broke the sleep of school friends sleeping over. Maybe it's that particular night when Patricia came for a sleep-over and (my mind insists) my parents were out at Camelot (though I'm almost certainly conflating two evenings) and the rain drummed on the flat roof over my bedroom and we were warm under the blankets.

2. Dreamed of 'Tokyo'- very vaguely, a sunnyish afternoon near the Ginza Maruzen or Yaesu bookstore where I did my research for A Garden in Paris back in '94- and my friend Grainne who in this settei had either produced Fullmetal Alchemist or written the manga; and we were saying in wonder 'That was so long ago! Twenty years already- no, closer to thirty!'
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Wed Sep 28th, 2016

09:32 pm - "Last night the east wind buffeted my room again"
My but Li Yu liked putting the wind in his poems. This entry could as easily be called "Last night the wind and rain together blew/ The wall-curtains rustled in their autumn song", except it's this night and the rain hasn't started yet. In fact there's great swaths of blue-black sky showing between the clouds. But the wind certainly buffets my study and billows the curtains enough to knock things from the shelf.

And now I wonder why the English poet wanted the *western* wind to blow, 'That the small rain down can rain'?
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Tue Sep 27th, 2016

09:39 pm
This is the kind of week when I'm waiting for the weekend and it's only Tuesday. This has much to do with constant electric jolts to the elbows, caused by I know not what, and knee pain caused by arthritis, and chest pains caused by either an inconsolable 4-month-old or my hiatus hernia acting up, or both.

Wish only to lie in a hot bath and then in a warm bed and not get up till Saturday.

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Sun Sep 25th, 2016

05:47 pm - Now put your hands up, hands up, hands up...
All the sulky lions (all the sulky lions)
All the sulky lions (all the sulky lions)

Bref, ladyofastolat went to Venice and reveals that the Renaissance was as bad at depicting lions as they were at depicting babies.
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Sat Sep 24th, 2016

08:51 pm - Mercury falling
A truth universally acknowledged, that the first cool spell always feels excessively cold. It might dip below 10 tonight; is currently 15, less than the 6 a.m. lows of the past week; and I freeze until I remember the bit about hoodies and long-sleeved shirts. This when I was just getting used to the idea of t-shirts as rational garb and jackets as occasional necessities (and both in today's sun weren't.) No matter. Now I can put incandescens's quilts back on the side room bed and make a cozy reading nest again.
Peregrinations, with elevatorsCollapse )

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Fri Sep 23rd, 2016

09:53 pm - Say I'm weary (because I am)
...say I'm sad (because I'm that too)
Say that health and wealth have missed me (true, for certain values of health and wealth)
Say I'm growing old (oh yes am I not) but add-

It's Friday and it's cool and I will be grateful for those.

Also that there's a Japanologist called Timon Screech. I suppose it was such a Gormenghast name he couldn't bear to change it.

But when he starts talking about manga- oh dear. Clearly confuses Hikaru Nakamura the chess master (a guy) with Hikaru Nakamura the mangaka (a woman), and says straight-facedly, 'It’s interesting to see how the work is very Japanese but the characters are given mixed-race features.' You think?
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Wed Sep 21st, 2016

09:27 pm
Even if tonight is a leetle too warm, this tail-end of summer is still pleasant: mornings are cool, days are for walking out in clothes, no sweating or shivering. So unusual.

Finished this week?
Burgis- Kat Incorrigible
- my Saturday stay-at-home (rain and headache) fluff read, very satisfying in being well-paced, feel-good, rewarding, and fast. Worth reading and easy to read.

Still with Pandemonium and Parade and The Pound Era, also satisfying in their won't-be-rushed fashion.

Parker, The Convict's Sword
- to date, less annoying than some Akitadas. At least he's back in the capital, not freezing up north with rustics and corrupt officials. I was congratulating me on having finished the series ie the six paperbacks bought Back When, but random googling revealed there's not only another seven, it spoilered me for the action of the present book. Argh.

I have a loose-end depressive tendency to spend my autumns reading detective series, usually with little pleasure and less profit. I do not want to slide into a compulsive Akitada read.

Another Burgis at some point, probably on the next rainy day. Odd when I bounced so hard off Masks and Shadows- but then, probably I had the wrong expectations of that one.

Find myself jonesing again for Sherlock pastiche, which is good because I have another volume of it on the shelf and bad because my other volume is all by one author whose first story did not impress. Jonesing may also vanish with the warmth, because it's a warm-weather thing that started back in warm 2011.

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Tue Sep 20th, 2016

10:00 pm - Gli enigmi sono tre, la morte è una!
This post, on my DW reading page, makes me feel a lot happier about the state of Brexit- rather as Vice-Fearless Leader, when Lehman Brothers was going under, wandered around happily indulging in investment bank slash. "Lehman, the icy empress uke, had long scorned advances by all his suitors, but is now forced by reduced circumstance to entertain indecent proposals from the lecherous seme Bank of America, and the urbane playboy Barclay." A useful lens through which to view a world-shaking clusterfuck.

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09:26 pm - You painted the leaves in July
That's when you had a reason
Now you watch as they fall from the sky
They're touching down for the season

Never knew that The Boys of Autumn was Canadian, *or* a one-hit wonder. (The sound on that clip is pretty bad as well.) But it's such a September song, perfect for these last (maybe) splendid warm days. Like much of this summer, the heat is a disconcertingly pleasant one, soft against one's skin, energizing. September warmth in tandem with fall allergies usually makes me a zombie.

Ah well, they say, as they've said for the last eight weeks, that it will be much much cooler in a few days.

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Sat Sep 17th, 2016

08:37 pm - Deep diving
Reading The Pound Era which is... quite indescribable. Fun, but not at all what one expects of either an exegesis of a poet's works or a literary history of his times. Am glad it's not about someone I like, because Kenner's grasshopper approach and linguistic games would probably make me gnash my teeth if it were. As it is, if he wants to blather on about Henry James and James Joyce and Bernart de Ventadorn and Wyndham Lewis while dissecting Pound's Cantos, that's great, because Pound's polyglot Cantos never did anything except annoy me. (And the rest of those guys are pretty annoying too.)
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Fri Sep 16th, 2016

09:57 pm
Mornings this week- until tomorrow, when it will rain- have been the sun of Florence in September, seen by me for maybe five days when I was thirty and never again. But this, I think, is the reason for all those Renaissance books I've been reading all year.

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Thu Sep 15th, 2016

10:28 pm - My eyes grow dim
Am at the point where every evening I think that tomorrow is Saturday. This is either age or alcohol or both together, because two ounces of vodka never used to make me come unstuck in time.

Also some small person's soother disappeared into a black hole this afternoon and she is- not inconsolable, but only to be consoled if sitting on me. This is a problem.

No, it did not reach 10C last night, but close. I slept on top of the summer duvet and under the down duvet and didn't want to leave my bed this morning because it was so cooold out there and so cooozy in here. Also I'm still not wearing hoodies or socks on account of tomorrow's low will be 20. Autumn never come.

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Wed Sep 14th, 2016

10:24 pm - Pleasures
What a nice day! I woke from a dream of 'Japan' that happened on that non-existent highway by Heiwadai Station, involving a sort of bookstore plus community centre plus bakery, to silver sun and no rain at all. (A sprinkling later while I was having a hot turkey sandwich at Fran's, one of the few places that does that greasy spoon classic; Fran's does not provide the usual flour-thickened gravy, but does give you cranberry sauce.) Took heavy-duty cough medicine against my dentist appointment and floated through the rest of the morning in a pleasant druggy high. My crown did not require freezing and cost $200 less than I'd expected. (A quarter of that was discount, but since I always pay by debit rather than credit card, I think she can give me a discount from time to time.) A very apropos quote about dragons and librarians showed up on my FB feed. My elbow behaved for most of the day, though two babies who love me gave it a workout. And it's reached the level of 'almost cool enough to need a jacket', after I slept with the window AC on last night.
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Tue Sep 13th, 2016

09:44 pm - Distant grumbles
It is warm and humid and my elbows are stiff-swollen and twinging at me. Physio and ice and vodka have quietened them a bit but not completely.

Tomorrow will rain and I'm having yet another crown put in.

However. It is tomorrow where incandescens is and tomorrow is her birthday, so happy birthday incandescens!

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Sun Sep 11th, 2016

08:30 pm - Minor reflections
On the whole I would rather have house flies than fruit flies. The former can be persuaded to leave, or if not, whapped with a towel. The latter are uncatchable and breed from air.

It being cool, I cooked my chicken liver recipe and for lack of mushrooms, added walnuts instead. Any nut or fruit added to chicken livers automatically makes it feel Persian.

Never mind yellow leaves and dark at 8, I will believe fall is here when the temperature gets below 10 at night. They've often promised this but never delivered. I don't believe it will happen this week whatever they say. Not when Tuesday is supposed to be 28.
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Sat Sep 10th, 2016

07:57 pm - Try to remember the kind of September
No surprise that after a hot dry summer like this one the trees should start turning early. Though it's not a turn exactly- more the Japanese 'lose saturation and go yellow.' I recall with apprehension similar hot dry summers and the unwillingness of their dingy leaves to fall afterwards. Fortunately they've called off the La Nina, or rather, said it may or may not happen ie it will not be '07-08 again. Hope this is true. Be cold, just don't be snowy.

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Fri Sep 9th, 2016

09:23 pm - Monks, the infant section is burning
A virus has been decimating our Baby section, (in the large rather than narrow sense of the verb: four or five out of ten), inducing persistent high fevers. Today it skipped to the toddlers. I've been feeling grungy all day, and since I never have fevers it may be the virus laying waste to other parts of me.

Or it may be the effect of saying 'Ah, the heat warning is off, I'll sleep with fans!' last night, leading to the muggy discomfort of air blowing on me. Too warm to be covered, too chill-feeling to be un. Wish I could simply damn the expense and run the cooling central AC rather than even the window one: which blows air inefficiently. Next Hydro bill will be worse than June-July's anyway, so why not? Since all the weather pages say that fall will never arrive.

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Thu Sep 8th, 2016

08:10 pm - Vexation
After a series of breathless emails from eBay, my wordtank arrives. Put batteries in. It doesn't work. I go online to contact the seller. Bought as a guest so eBay wants an access code for the order. "Check your confirmation email for your access code." I check the confirmation email. There is no access code. The packing list gives me the guy's name and snail address, which is not a huge help.

My mobile company was swallowed by the godless empire of Rogers. They keep sending me emails to select a new plan. I go to the webpage and as requested, give them my number and PIN. The webpage tells me my PIN is wrong. I change my PIN. The webpage tells me my PIN is still wrong. I call support. "We are experiencing higher than average volumes of calls." I just bet you are. "Wait times estimated as half an hour." Estimate is wrong.

And it's still hot.

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Wed Sep 7th, 2016

08:33 pm - Monks, all is burning
Though it burns less since that deluge this evening. So now it merely steams.
Usual memeageCollapse )

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Tue Sep 6th, 2016

10:32 pm - Another Country
Threw out my old Women's Almanacs from the early and mid-80s yesterday. It was a wrench. They have details of my life I'd forgotten, addresses of people I can't recall, mentions of places that have vanished completely. If I throw them out, that chunk of my life is gone forever. Well yes, it's gone anyway, isn't it? It's not like I'm throwing out the ticket to another country...

...and there's the thing. I've always confused time and space: the past feels like a place I can go back to with the right talismans in my hand. Those daybooks were passports of a sort. The only consolation is that I don't *really* want to go back to the 80s, when I was far more naive and clueless than someone in their thirties ought to be, hanging out with people I didn't much like because there was no one else to hang out with. So yes, farewell all those transient coworkers and roommates and friends. My social life is now much emptier than it was, but quality has replaced quantity, for which I must be grateful.

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Mon Sep 5th, 2016

09:39 pm - The Idea of the House
Rolled down to the AGO on a honey-warm afternoon quite prepared to be cooled down by Lawren Harris' chilly abstract mountains. Harris' landscapes are Canadian iconic but not a patch on Sohlberg's by me. Besides, I'm not one for pure landscape. Almost all the paintings I own have houses in them, which is what I prefer.

Thus I was pleased and surprised to be greeted by two rooms of Toronto streetscapes and houses: Harris' paintings of the rundown, downtown, area once called The Ward. Much of the area is now occupied by the new City Hall and the Eaton Centre: parts of it used to be an adjunct of the old Eaton's, and a lot of manufacturing went on amid its one-storey listing shacks. Once a largely black community, just before WW1 it became home to a wave of immigrants from East Europe (mostly Jewish) and China, who established the first Chinatown on Dundas.

The exhibit contains photographs of the Ward's houses, or shacks, most of them taken in winter with the snow piled high and grey by the back doors,* next to Harris' paintings of same. I can't seem to find any of these online, but it suggests that Albert Franck got the idea of painting the backs of Toronto houses from Harris. (You can see an example here if you scroll down far enough. At least I *think* it's the back of the house. This is also a later painting when he'd started to clean up his snow, under the influence of the non-urban snow found north of Superior.) Online Harris houses are all of the fronts, and a little googling suggests that the 'absence of human beings' thing seriously doesn't apply to his city works.

* Goss' photographs are very Skin of a Lion and thus yuck; but I observe that Kendal and Walmer, 1920, looks exactly the same today.
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Sun Sep 4th, 2016

08:25 pm - The cicadas have fallen silent
The fruit flies and ants OTOH are very much in evidence.

Maybe it's true that days shorten and lengthen faster the farther you get away from the winter and summer solstices. Time was the stats read 'tomorrow will be 1 min 10 seconds shorter than today.' Now it's '2 minutes 53 seconds.' So yeah, if it gets darker twenty minutes earlier than a week ago, you're gonna notice it. Thus the suddenly earlier evenings of late August that everyone remarks on.

Full Fathom Five reads much clearer for having read Four Roads Cross. I can actually follow the skullduggery and conspiracies this time.

Be content with what you have? So I suppose I'm contented with the mid-20s and mid-teens of this unrainy weekend. Shall not think about the mid-30s to come. Do not quote me next January, but I'm almost longing for the cold bitter winter the Farmer's Almanac is forecasting.
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Sat Sep 3rd, 2016

10:09 pm - ...immo etiam taedet, taedet obestque magis*
(*I gather this crux in Catullus has been resolved by removing one of the taedets, but this is how I learned it and have repeated it in my head for nigh on half a century)

Either dry eye or age, but I can no longer read comfortably with my naked eye, which is a pain, especially in allergy season. Must wear lens and use reading glasses. Chiz curses sa molesworth.

There was a martial arts demonstration at Dufferin Grove Park with lotsa young boys in flounced gold trousers and red jackets waving poles and swords to drum usic. Could not see clearly who and what because of previous paragraph.
Slightly betterCollapse )

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Fri Sep 2nd, 2016

08:38 pm
Could today have been more of a personal disaster? Not unless I broke a body part instead of other things. I suppose the body part will come next.

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Thu Sep 1st, 2016

09:27 pm - So glad August is over
It cools. My stats say this is not in fact the first time since mid-July that the lows have dipped below 16C but I have no memory of those occasions, which were one-offs in a string of air-conditioned nights. Also the cool is not set to survive into next week. But for the moment, I fancy an extra comforter on the bed against the air blowing in with the fan.

Should go back to reading heavy-duty Buddhism. Life is being-- well, that which requires heavy-duty Buddhism. And a slew of three-year olds are leaving for the incorrectly designated All-day Kindergarten, who were howling babies just a while ago. The fall of 2013 was the first time we had this mass exodus/ mass influx; it seems... long enough ago to feel historical but nothing like 'ages and ages back.' When kids left at 5 or 6 to start grade 1, yes, *that* was saying good-bye to people one had known in another life. This lot- oh yes, I remember them as inconsolable infants only too well.
Cut for meagre August readingCollapse )

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Wed Aug 31st, 2016

09:17 pm - Reading Wednesday is a zombie
Oh central AC and ativan, how delicious the sleep you bring, how sweet the dreams, how gentle the wakening into a civil dry world that smells of nothing at all. One feels like a human being- one registers the way it 'sposed to be- for a half hour or so, before one leaves the house at Fartooearly.am and goes into the hazy sun and muggy polluted air, bound for a 90 minute dentist appointment.

But all things pass, and the evening wind blows, and it's currently cooler than it was last night (is why the AC was on.)
Cut for book and RL natterCollapse )

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Mon Aug 29th, 2016

09:16 pm - The minor trials of summer, possibly TMI version
Yes, it's been a long time since we had a consistently warm summer. So yes, I'd forgotten little things like the necessity of rinsing out the camisoles I wear instead of a bra, and how they make you sweat, and how sweat trickles down your back between you and the spandex. Oh, how I want some cool days for a change.

New this year, though, is having to go back to panty-liners. In past hot years I wore those bunchy cotton scrubs with the problematic ties at the waist, which always slipped down my hips so that I'd tie and retie the cords to keep them up and usually end up pulling the spandex camisole over them. But they certainly kept the fork area cool and breezy. Now I have proper trousers, even if made of thin cotton, that have an elastic waist. I am no longer cool and breezy but every bit as sweaty as everywhere else. And since I do not, in fact, want to rinse out my trousers every day as well, I've gone back to panty liners. At *my* age, she humpfs.

(My mother and aunt wore lingerie boxers, is all I can call them, which would drive me batty under pants, but which I suppose were cool and breezy in their way.)

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Sat Aug 27th, 2016

09:28 pm - The Haunted Landscape
The Old Straight Track to date is about as rivetting as an information sheet. So there's this tumulus that lines up with that hill that lines up with this standing stone that lines up with that other tumulus over there, as seen in the tiny chart with the illegible labels. If you were in situ- as possibly you're meant to be- it would be very useful. As it stands, erm well, not so much. Like that recent xkcd comic about the linear regressions and finding new constellations in the scatter plots.

But it does make me wonder why these neolithic burial sites that dot the English landscape all seem to be (to me at least) more resonant and unheimlich than other remains in other lands. Because the Japanese, say, have no Grendel and his Mum equivalents, no barrow wights, no things that come out of dark meres and tarns? Yes, they have pools haunted by kappa, but they also use kappa to advertise sake. No one cutesies up Grendel, had you noticed? The French have their menhirs and standing stones but the iron hand of rationality has squeezed any possibility of fantods out of them. They're what Obelix carries around. The Scandinavians- yeah, they do have haunted landscapes, I seem to recall, sunny and rational as they are the rest of the time.

But it's the English landscape that gives me the impression of deep time, of past piling up in an unpleasant way, and that so easily seems imbued an air of unplaceable menace. Cf Robert Holdstock, John Gordon, and Alan Garner (though oddly, I think he does it less subtly than the others.)

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Fri Aug 26th, 2016

09:29 pm - Useless Day
I had the morning off, aside from an ill-timed chiropractor appointment. Intended to go down to the Art Gallery and take in the Lawren Harris exhibit, or maybe go to Old Navy and buy what I'm assured are the only large-sized tank tops that last. But the day was muggy stinky, the sun was hot, and I had a touch of summer stomach from, well, eating when it's hot. So I bought a waterpic instead, as I've long intended to do, and may some day get around to using it.

Then did my charitable shift (for a worker who'd already put in a full day) after which my back hurt as it does when I stand for any period of time. I did at least go out for the 8:30 showing of Mononoke Hime for which I had a ticket, was assured that the doors would open at 7:30 or a little later, stood in line till nearly 8; and then asked myself, did I want to sit in a narrow chair in a full house (ticket holder line went around one corner, rush ticket line went around the opposite one) on an aching hip for two hours while watching a film I wasn't crazy about to begin with? No, I would rather go and have coffee and read my book. Which did. Tomorrow I know I can come later and still get a balcony seat for Howl, and I will be armed with muscle relaxants and cough syrup to combat the two present seasonal evils. Also, possibly, the world and its brother won't want to see Howl's Moving Castle, though I bet they do.

But it was nice, actually, to be out of an evening, watching the light fade behind the patio trees at Aroma. Last time I did that the sun was still shining when I left at 8 p.m. June does have its uses.
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Thu Aug 25th, 2016

09:13 pm - Steaming Thursday
Today was the kind of marathon I'm no longer up for, a mere six hours with a two hour break in between that saw me ordering a Manhattan when what I wanted was a Cosmopolitan. Whatever. Alcohol is alcohol.

But the return of a p/t body meant I had the first three days of this week off, and I profited by it to go see the wakashu exhibit at the ROM. What it says on the tin: "Four hundred years ago in Japan, male youths, called wakashu, were the objects of sexual desire for women and men. Creating a third gender, wakashu looked different from both women and adult men and played distinct social and sexual roles." So now I know how to tell the men from the women in woodblock prints. Fun enough, but they had a two minute clip from Gohatto on rerun and the voices kept interfering with my reading of the exhibit labels.

I'm also appalled to learn that our museum's collection of woodblock prints was given to the museum in 1926, but were largely left underexplored. "There were boxes that nobody had opened for years," (the curator) said. "It was very challenging because not much was on the museum database, so we had to record all of the information."
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Wed Aug 24th, 2016

05:19 pm - Reading Wednesday cannot resist a list
Oh look- One hundred lesser known classics. Via [personal profile] oursin
Cut for sameCollapse )

And in Wednesday memeing, have finished only The Midnight Court, which is probably great fun in Erse and dull in English; continue to plough through The Decameron, Holmes-pastiche, The Prince, and the latest 100 Demons; and will possibly start The Old Straight Track one of these years, having read the introduction which says the ideas stated therein are All Wrong. Which, fine.
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