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Sat Dec 3rd, 2016


11:28 pm
Adulted today to the extent of completing the hateful task of shrink-wrapping the N-W facing window with the AC unit in it, from which icy blasts enter my bedroom at night. Did laundry, returned library books, wrote Christmas cards, and flogged me to the Holiday Bazaar at the Native Canadian Centre.

Craft fairs always make me feel bad about not buying people's stuff. But I did find presents for one or two people, including my impossible to shop for ('don't give me food') s-i-l. I bought her food- specifically, honey from the bees atop New College at the UofT. May not be terribly good- who knows?- but is a nice novelty. Assuaged general guilt by buying raffle ticket and door prize ticket: and came home tonight from my extended babysitting gig to a phone message saying I'd won second prize i the former. Can't for the life of me remember what it was; shall find out in the course of time. But, as when I won my free dinner, did think 'Why didn't I buy a ticket for tonight's 25 million draw while I was at it?'
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Fri Dec 2nd, 2016


09:39 pm - Friday Accomplishment
Bought a new terrycloth bath robe from the Hudson's Bay.

Terrycloth robes look tacky all the time, and this is no exception, but hey! New bathrobe! After nine years! For 40% off, bringing it to the level of 'pricey but sensible' rather than 'sheer luxury'.

Mind, I think it's been closer to fifteen years since I was last in the Bay. And I took the TTC rather than biking, because Yonge and Bloor is bike unfriendly any way you come at it.
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Thu Dec 1st, 2016


12:58 pm - Random around Livejournal and the Graun
Trump and Tribalism.
- "attacking Trump because of ethics won't work. The tribe that voted for Trump thinks everybody is corrupt, and that their choice is who the corrupt person is working for."

More happily:
Gorgeous forgeries.
-- Includes comments on the need to get your diacritics right when forging Assyrian wall reliefs. Not a profession for the lazy, that.

80 year old Albertan woman wins 50 million.
-- Go you, love.

My reading stats for November are as depressed as that depressing month. Few books, all but one mysteries, but that one does at least add Chinese mainland authors to my reading challenge.

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Wed Nov 30th, 2016


07:21 pm - Things I Never Knew
Put gin in the freezer and it's fine. Put vermouth in the freezer and it freezes. Thus I had a Johnson Slushie tonight, which is fine. My ice is a bit iffy.

Starbucks has started posting calorie counts. Now I know where that weight gain came from. And now I'm happy to order an egg white breakfast sandwich and Earl Grey tea instead of the latte and croissant.
Wednesday already?Collapse )

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Tue Nov 29th, 2016


09:35 pm - Tuesday Gratitudes
1. Co-worker is back from disastrous trip to Thailand, which involved food poisoning and arbitrarily cancelled return tickets and having to buy new ones at a cost you can imagine. Am sorry they had such a miserable experience but sooo glad to have their calm sense and reliability accessible again.

2. The way to save money on bars and restaurants is to buy my own alcohol. Thus: have ingredients for Johnson Cocktail in the freezer; had Johnson Cocktail before dinner, and contented myself with prawns and pot stickers and leftover rice.

3. Weather is March-mild. Night lawns and front gardens breathe off the damp chill that usually comes from melted snow but today comes from last night's rain.

4. Wrote the emails I've procrastinated on writing and feel the world lifted from my shoulders.
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Mon Nov 28th, 2016


09:44 pm - Snug-as-a-bug redivivus
Longer ago than I can remember, though it might be only two years, I had to stop using the flannel duvet cover on my duvet. It weighed too much: was too heavy to kick off when I had to get out of bed or had leg cramps or whatever; became a solid inert *thing* I couldn't pull free with my twinging elbows. The combination of bare duvet and wool blanket somehow worked better, probably because there were layers to it. But it was never quite as cozy-warm, even when I put a flannel sheet between me and the duvet: the sheet twisted about and worked loose and and and.

I was reading in the side bedroom one evening and feeling cold and thought 'yeah, should put a duvet cover on the quilt'- and then considered trying the combination of (polyester) quilt and flannel cover on my bed. Didn't expect it to be warm enough- polyester is not in the same league as feathers. But it's lovely. Once again I have the nostalgic sensation of being encased in a flannel sandwich. The double flannel of the cover gives the heat I need, and if it gets really cold- well, I can pull the uncovered feather duvet on top of it.
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Sun Nov 27th, 2016


01:49 pm - Sunday happinesses redux
Went out walking today amid the empty trees and mild blue skies. Passed my local cafe and found it virtually empty, so grabbed a table and a latte and a turkey and pear sandwich. Five minutes later twenty people showed up in quick succession and clumps. Exquisite timing.

[personal profile] oursin has been reading a century+ old etiquette book, and as she notes, the plus ça change is strong within.
Should a man be so fortunate as to be of some service to any lady in the street, such as picking up a parcel or sunshade she may have dropped, or helping her out of any small difficulty, he must raise his hat and withdraw at once. Such trifling acts as these do not by any means constitute an acquaintanceship, and to remain by her side when the incident is over would look like presuming on what he had done, as though it gave him a right to her continued acknowledgments. This would be ungentlemanly.
Ah, for the days when men feared to be called ungentlemanly. Got it, guys? Tip your baseball cap and withdraw at once.

A two-kilo weight drop makes stairs surprisingly easier to negotiate. Not sure what caused this, unless it's a failure to buy bread, but am grateful for it anyway.
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Sat Nov 26th, 2016


10:57 am - Recent domestic curses I have experienced
1. The curse of the unnoticed kleenex tissue in the dark wash.

2. The curse of the adhesive contact lens that won't leave the mother ship eyeball.

3. The curse of the inner thigh cramp, Medical Mystery par excellence*. Especially trying because I was lying all flannel-wrapped cozy in the spare room bed reading a Dr. Siri after a long Friday when the agony commenced. OTOH I still had the ice pack for my knees on the side table, so wasn't permanently crippled.

*Seriously. No professional has ever explained these, or why they usually hit while sitting on a couch. Half have never even heard of them and no one can think of how to stretch them out. Hint: you can't.
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Thu Nov 24th, 2016


09:12 pm - Festive food
So evidently the Americans have this Thanksgiving dinner tradition of serving sweet potatoes in various ways. Casseroles, I read; pies, I read. So I google for recipes. A sweet potato pie sounds exactly like a pumpkin pie, only we do make ours from pumpkin- the genus known as 'pie pumpkin', oddly enough. The sweet potato version sounds even sweeter, and must come in at a million calories instead of pumpkin pie's 500,000.

So I turn to the casseroles and discover they contain brown sugar, white sugar, pecans and marshmallow topping. The horror, the horror!

My own mother baked sweet potato with butter and brown sugar, and it made my teeth ache. What seems self-evident to me- that the last thing sweet potato needs is more sweetness- is unrecognized by anyone but the long-ago Israeli father of one of my little friends. He sauteed onions and sweet potato slices in olive oil until soft, grated monterey jack cheese over them, and baked the casserole in the oven. In my version I added caraway seeds, just because I love caraway. This gives one a savoury sweet potato pie, and makes me wish we could still call the things yams as they did in my youth.
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Wed Nov 23rd, 2016


07:52 pm
A filk from the FFL contains the chorus

We're proud to be Canadian:
Politeness in the face of assholes could be thought a curse.
It's cool in many ways to be Canadian:
We may not be much better; it's just that we're less worse.

Which about nails it.
Wednesday againCollapse )

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Tue Nov 22nd, 2016


09:58 pm - Happy found, happy lost
Spent the evening with a chatty three year old. Am reminded that three year olds are like demented adults: their conversation proceeds reasonably for a little while and then swoops into non-sequiturs, disjunctions, and occasionally babble.

Hadn't much wanted to do childcare for the meeting, having disturbed my neck nerves by hefting a 10 kilo bag of salt from the hardware store after Sunday's heads up/ winter is coming. But in between watching young miss paint three pieces of paper solid black ('she's into the goth thing' I told her Papa when he came upstairs for her) I stumbled upon my long-missing fleecy, left in the pre-school a month and more ago when I was pulled in for a shift there.

I was also a pound or two lighter this morning (literally either one pound or two, depending which reading you accept; but I verified the two, so here's hoping.)
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Mon Nov 21st, 2016


01:47 pm - Hateful Things
1. Buying expensive ginger at the yuppie supermarket (because the People's Greengrocer down on Bloor was inaccessible yesterday until about 4 p.m., thanks to the Santa Claus Parade, and afterwards it was snowing, sleeting, and blowing a gale), cutting it open, and finding it already blue inside with only a 2 mm pith of usable yellow. How hateful!

2. Today: "Winds WNW 47, gusts to 61 km/h (30-37 mph)." I could manage biking to work in the daytime; returning at night on possibly newly icy streets is antsy making. But equally, walking on certainly icy sidewalks and taking the crowded rush hour subway is also antsy-making. Winter, boo.

3. Shirts still smell, arbitrarily and causelessly.

4. (see 2) The wind crept around in the dirty town and sneaks in through all the cracks and windows that won't close/ latch completely because of settling houses.
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Sun Nov 20th, 2016


04:04 pm - Lost and losing
Hmm. Didn't know that this was a thing and not specific to me.

"As she recuperated, Freud wrote an essay called "On Losing and On Being Lost." She wrote that she kept losing objects -- glasses, house keys, articles of clothing, and she started to reflect on mourning. ... She wrote that in her illness, she began to realize that she was losing things in the same way that her children had done -- as a sign of displaced mourning."

Though I always figured that I misplaced things *precisely because* I would, and could, find them again. Not gone for good, you know, unlike the person one mourns.

Otherwise I continue to read my Tang dynasty poets to remind me to be grateful I don't live in the Tang dynasty, but that many people still do.
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Sat Nov 19th, 2016


08:20 pm - Saturday gratitudes
1. The cold rain that soaked me on the way to acupuncture stopped before I went to see my aunt.

2. I wanted a Siri Paiboun mystery to curl up with while I work on not getting a cold from being soaking wet. The one I have from BMV is five volumes along from the one I just read (#2) and has surprise!spouses and surprise!children. Limped down the stairs to Seekers' and there, the one and only Cotterill, was #3.

3. The streets are compositions of grey and rain-wet black, with umber and old gold splashed in thick daubs.

... and ingratitudes:
1. The $300 winter jacket is not waterproof as promised.

2. The $99 winter jacket, superior to the above in almost every way, does not keep the wind out sufficiently and requires a fleecy underneath.

3. My weight is up another two pounds and has now reached a figure unseen in nine years, which makes wearing a fleecy under my jacket a dicey proposition.
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Fri Nov 18th, 2016


09:22 pm - Friday Gratitudes
1. It's Friday.

2. The tax department finally sent me an explanation of my property tax refund four weeks after the event. If I understand them correctly which I may not (see 1, above) they have cancelled the tax increase for this year, not merely deferred it until I sell my house. I suppose this is good news, in that they might do the same again next year. Am still not clear if I'm still paying the increase every year and getting it back, or if they'll adjust the tax bills.

3. Last night was a blue, mild, early spring-like evening. Stars shone, air smelled of damp ground. Very like March of 1986, that happy interlude on Brunswick Ave. Suddenly realized that the reason I like my side bedroom is that it reminds me of my bedroom there, which was smaller but squarer, and also a combination of white and maple.

4. Snow flurries and snow squalls forecast for Sunday. I have nothing planned for that day and need not go out to battle the Santa Claus parade crowds.

5. The construction around the Bathurst Station was them doing an homage to Honest Ed's before it closes at the end of the year.
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Wed Nov 16th, 2016


09:30 pm - Return of Reading Wednesday
Finished in the last two weeks?
Damned little.

Laurie King, Dreaming Spies
-- King's Holmes, like Cumberbatch's, is convincing enough until one returns to the real thing, or even a pastiche of the real thing, and then just no. This book had Japan and Japanese and the crown prince Hirohito in it, but the plot-- well actually, the plot reminded me of a university friend's first novel, influenced by Pyncheon, that had unlikely conspiracies and obscure cabals formed for unclear reasons, which somehow required making the author's *ahem* self-insert believe something or other so he would go do something else (have sex with one of the plotters, was it?) The mastermind said the self-insert was indispensible to the conspiracy, but his actual role was so tangential he could have been left out altogether- a fact the author naturally didn't twig to. Here Holmes and Russell prove quite unnecessary to unravelling the mystery they're hired, under very unlikely circumstances, to solve. (Two large English people dressing as Buddhist pilgrims in Taishou Japan and being greeted enthusiastically on their pilgrimage route stretches my belief to the limit.)

But up to that point it was at least fun.

Colin Cotterill, The Coroner's Lunch
-- mystery set in '70s Communist revolution Laos. Had heard this and that about the series, but had not heard that mid-book it turns into Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives. I am enchanted.
ContinuingCollapse )

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Tue Nov 15th, 2016


07:57 pm - Tuesday Gratitudes
1. Finding a stash of waffle shirts in the futon platform's drawers, so the stinky new one can be replaced without bother.

2. Finding that the mysteriously but unsalvageably stained grey shirt works just fine as a sleep shirt.

3. Winning a $30 dinner voucher at Pauper's Pub. 'Drawing every hour,' my waiter said in his unplaceable Scots accent. I filled out the stub with my address and home phone. 'This is the 7 o'clock draw,' the maitre d' says. 'Consult your cell phones.' Ah well, so much for that. But as I'm leaving the Scots waiter comes up with my stub. 'This is yours, innit? I recognize the handwriting.'

However there's a problem- not with the dinner but with the tops. My work being as it is, I never wear the same top two days running; and I being as I am, I never throw anything out. The result is that I have a stack of raggedy t-shirts and bleach-stained tank tops and ancient cotton tops and hoodies from decades back, and I generally look like a ragbag on work days. I'd be happy to replace all these but I've been reading about how much fibre gets chucked in the garbage, and how one ought to recycle somehow. There's some debate about the charity that recycles unusable clothing in Ontario, though since the debate mostly comes from the Salvation Army I'm not too worried about it. And there's a bin two doors away from my acupuncturist.

But some clothes have sentimental value, like the shawl my students' parents gave me in Japan or my corduroy Laura Ashley dress from the 70s. I see there's such a thing as rag quilts made from loved textiles and I wonder if mine are usable for that. And if one needs a sewing machine for them, because if so, forget it.
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Mon Nov 14th, 2016


08:33 pm
Mindfulness fail: if you intend to put your lenses in, apply heating cream to your aching shoulders *afterwards*.

Mindfulness fail: if you intend to put your lenses in, apply Nivea cream to your dry hands *afterwards*.

Mindfulness fail: if you intend to put your lenses in, apply Voltaren to your twinging elbows *afterwards*.

This is why I didn't wear my lenses today.

Also: if you're wondering why you're so cold at night in spite of the heat being on, it's maybe because the cold moist air humidifier is blowing its little wind directly at your bed.
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Sat Nov 12th, 2016


10:47 pm
So Leonard Cohen was dead and buried before the ballots were even counted. Don't know why this pleases me so much, but it does.
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Thu Nov 10th, 2016


09:05 pm - Bleakest November
Could it get worse? Why yes, yes. It just did.
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Sun Nov 6th, 2016


05:28 pm - Sunday happinesses
1. My warm mist humidifier wouldn't warm last night. Light came on but no steam came out. It has an automatic shutoff when water is all gone and so are you, having forgotten to unplug it as on Friday's zombie morning, but the unit seemed to have burned itself out anyway. Was not going to go downstairs and root around dark bunker for the cool mist so did without, dry-coughing through the night. Unplugged it this morning to remove and on a sudden thought, by parallel with Windows, plugged it back in. And it lives!

Am still intending to find a Heaven Fresh humidifier like my brother's, which will take tapwater and doesn't require buying and recycling three four-litre jugs of distilled water a week.

2. The trees with unshed leaves are solid gold, as if they'd been dipped into that pool in The Voyage of the Dawntreader.

3. Spent a reasonably productive day adulting. Washed bedding and towels at laundromat, washed a sinkful of dishes here, washed new coat 1 and new waffle top 2 because of Odour (and shall be peeved if it proves unmovable), raked leaves from back yard and side passage and made good, cut down swathes of dead vine from fence, and made liver dish for dinner.

4. There's such a thing as glow in the dark yarn. There's even a site that makes glow in the dark winter hats. The link was on FB and of course I didn't bookmark it and suddenly FB won't show it again- in spite of everyone and their brother showing me ads for anything I've clicked on ever- but I could get my own yarn and make an ear warmer for winter. Or buy a Lumos helmet, though that's a bit optimistic about what the weather will be like.

5. Reading a Mary Russell about her and Holmes in Japan, or on their way to Japan on a boat, which is diverting and lets me do my ex-expat's sneer about 'that Japanese sentence is wrong' and 'I know no Japanese who start quoting Basho the minute after they've introduced themselves.' Though IIRC the Japanese in question is from Osaka where they do things differently.

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Sat Nov 5th, 2016


09:38 pm - Saturday happinesses
1. Ran into one of my favourite fathers of all time at the local cafe, grabbing an espresso while his son had a violin lesson. Asked how the boy was doing, M reaches into his coat pocket and pulls out, not an i-phone, but his wallet with photos of E at various ages. Old school and European: I love it.

2. Kind bro brought his screwdriver's attention to my new Dirt devil, so now I have a super sucker of a vacuum cleaner again.

3. Warm-for-November and sunny Saturday in a yellow autumn; the city glows.

4. Acupuncture today, so for once I have a totally free Sunday tomorrow, and an extra hour of it as well.

5. Someone put out a heavy steel teflon-coated frying pan on the boulevard. No idea why- teflon still functional, unless that's the reason. My gain. Cooked up mushrooms for my fave dish of rotini with mushrooms and diced ham, yum yum.
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Fri Nov 4th, 2016


09:30 pm - The rancour of the sleep-deprived
Thought, after Wednesday's broken night, I'd need some extra sleep. Wednesday night- or rather, early Thursday morning- was when my cell phone company changed hands, so what do they do? Message me at 2:15 to tell me it happened; message me at 3:20 to tell me how to get into my voicemail; and messaged me several times thereafter but by then I'd muted the damned thing, trusting that if anyone needed me they'd call my landline. (Never giving up landline nope no way.)

So last night I prepared for a morning shift by going to bed before 11 and setting my phone for 8, hoping my body would wake me at 7 or 7:30. 'Every hour before midnight counts as two!' Yes, well. Was woken by phone at 8. And now wonder when I'll wake up tomorrow, when I have a 1 pm appointment.
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Thu Nov 3rd, 2016


09:22 pm - Thursday Gratitudes
1. A very red Japanese maple and a very yellow something else in this morning's steely sun.

2. Won a twonie in the lotto to add to the twonie I found in my (washed) pants' pocket yesterday.

3. Gently determined wind this evening blew in a cold front with mixed smells of winter and woodsmoke.

4. I have a physio nearby who costs only $45 a session and who does manage to damp down the flare-ups and twinges.
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Wed Nov 2nd, 2016


08:06 pm - Wednesday's little body is still aweary of this great world
We had the replacement from hell Monday and Tuesday. He had a violin. He really really really wanted to play his violin, and did: LOUD LOUD LOUD and FLAT. Discover that in the event four separate people told him he was playing too loud for the room and the age group. 'Well, can I go upstairs and play for the preschoolers? They'd really like it!' And he's been doing this for ten years and still has no notion of adult: child ratio or sectional programming?

I'm terribly afraid we'll get him again in our current crunch.
The usual memeCollapse )

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Tue Nov 1st, 2016


07:52 pm - Ten down, two to go
Today's happinesses:

1. Twelve dollars and change found in the pocket of my light jacket
2. New coffee house down on Bloor, good tea lattes and cookies, and room for more tables which is good because the Apple Corps are already present in force.*
3. Strawberry and rhubarb pie for dessert.

November's reading stats

Parker, The Masuda Affair
Matsuura, A Robe of Feathers
Datlow & Windling ed, Coyote Road
Dinesen, The Angelic Avengers
Durbin, A Green and Ancient Light
Tan, Tales from Outer Suburbia
Birrell, trans- The Classic of Mountains and Seas

Reading challenge wise, I've met my Chinese diaspora quota but only by counting library books. Alas, I don't want to read Timothy Mo, and I really wonder if Lisa See's single Chinese great-grandfather counts, no matter the subject matter. I'm nowhere near meeting the Chinese mainland one because all my Chinese books are great thumping tomes indifferently translated, to my tastes. Or they might be dead accurate, in which case the subject matter is what's yawn-a-minute. Maybe I should cheat and use poetry instead of Ming stories.

*The Apple Corps have rendered my old coffee house a crapshoot: no spaces available after 10 a.m. because all places are occupied by a laptop and an empty demi-tasse. Now, the Israeli place gets around that by simply cutting power to the outlets: battery or nothing, guys, so instead it's occupied by loud conversing groups, and still no places to be had once the patio closes for the winter.

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Mon Oct 31st, 2016


08:46 pm - The Classic of Mountain and Seas
paleaswater used to get fantoddy about the folk practices in 100 Demons, like bringing rocks down from the mountains or walking a certain route in the countryside without looking behind you. She said something to the effect of 'these people just didn't think like us.' A daughter of the Revolution might well look askance at something so foreign to her milieu. Cradle Catholic me, who unblinkingly accepted saint's hearts put on display in glass reliquaries and thin wheat wafers that are really and truly, no *really*, the body of a man murdered two millennia ago on the other side of the world, had no difficulty at all with these benign Japanese practices that only fleetingly, if at all, recall bloody dark deeds and obscure beliefs.

(The Japanese used to have human sacrifice. They'd wall someone up in the foundations of a bridge, for instance. And the one story I read about this custom- one of Yumemakura's Seimei stories- had the spirits of the sacrifices making a ruckus to alert the world that the foundation of their bridge was about to collapse. Like, you may not want to be a human sacrifice and you may insist that the wife who informed the authorities that you had the marks needed to be the sacrifice also die with you, but in the end *of course* duty trumps everything. Whatever happened to that Japanese staple, urami? In Ima Ichiko, it's saved for people who starved during famines.)

But the oddity is that the Chinese stories in The Classic fantod me in spades. They recall a dark and primordial world where, yes, people don't think like we do.
Maybe it"s the translation?Collapse )

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Sun Oct 30th, 2016


05:30 pm - Mundane again
I am giddy with all my old age money and have bought a third!!! winter jacket. Granted, it's because the first two jackets are prone to that mysterious annoying smell, which may drive me into buying some kind of scented deodorant eventually, but still. Such luxury. And maybe third time's the charm. (I still want a plastic waterproof thingy, but oh well.) There were some lovely light down-filled jackets at the Fat Women's Shop, but even their 3x didn't have long enough sleeves, and the cuffs were open, not elasticized, which is death in a windy snow squall. So I have another bulky men's coat, and this one is sky blue and thus distinguishable from everybody else's coat at work.

Went and looked at my stats which gloomily confirm what I suspected all along, that I'm slowly but surely putting on weight. In spite of the wide and inexplicable day-to-day fluctuations, overall I add about a pound a month. This is probably post-65 metabolism and annoying. Am not prepared to cut out my daily lattes and croissant but can't think what else to cut.

The cherry tree, which two years ago dropped all its leaves by mid-September, is currently thinking about changing colour at October's end; and the neighbour cherry is not much farther on. Meanwhile the heart-lifting yellow whatever across the street is half bare, which makes me sad. Classic post-hot-summer greenness reigns; we may only hope the snow doesn't begin in November, before the leaves fall, as it did in (shudder) 2007.
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Sat Oct 29th, 2016


07:33 pm - ...a day when one did something slightly unusual
Went to a workshop on Tonglen practice at the Shambala centre down the street, partly because I never do anything new and partly to see whether my understanding of the practice is at all accurate. Well no, it wasn't quite, but the- err- lecturer is a very laid-back type who maintains there's no way to do it wrong. Tonglen always struck me as the more woo-woo version of metta. Metta is where you wish good things for people and is not much different from God bless Mummy and Daddy and Teddy and Nana and me. Tonglen is where you visualize breathing in someone's sickness or sadness or whatever and breathing out relief and refreshment. 'Now don't worry,' all the sources say, 'it won't really make you sick'-- as if that were possible. No one until today has addressed the question of what it *does* do, and the guy today said that indeed, the effect on other people is like the effect of prayer, whatever you think prayer accomplishes. The effect on *you*, however, is pretty immediate, in that it tunes you in to other people and gets the focus off oneself. Which probably leads to a bunch of other stuff.

(I managed to get up in time for this by the expedient of turning up the heat so I was sleeping with a duvet only, not duvet and heavy heat-holding wool blanket which is both physically and psychologically hard to get out from under. This week has seen me regularly sleeping in to 10 or 11 precisely because of oh cold! and if I stand up I'll hurt! and just one more dream OK? Kills a day faster than anything.)
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Thu Oct 27th, 2016


08:43 pm - Reading Wednesday, now on Thursday
Finished?
Durbin, A Green and Ancient Light.
-- The right book for the right time.

Tan, Tales from Outer Suburbia
-- Tan's suburbia is in Australia, which may be why it seemed odd to me: not that I know much of suburbia at the best of times. 'the other country' is my favourite of course. because I too have the recurring dream of bigger spaces in my house than I had thought.

Now?
Within sight of the end of The Classic. Currently on the appendix of named myths, which I must read in my completist fashion and because scattered references in text are easily forgotten.

Next
Everfair is waiting for me at the library.

An iron cold evening, the rain trying to become snow. We'll rebound on the weekend, as is our rebounding wont.

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Tue Oct 25th, 2016


09:17 pm - A local habitation and a name
A Green and Ancient Light is an other-where other-when book. It takes you away by virtue of its luminous prose alone, because the setting seems pretty mundane to start with. Young boy, the narrator, is sent to stay with his grandmother during a spring and summer of The War. Second, we assume, because boy mentions that his dad has already had to fight in one war already. Grandmother and boy work in her garden, chat with villagers, receive and make visits. Boy also goes exploring the ruined garden up in the hills which is full of stone statues, the folly of a bereaved duke some 400 years ago.

This is where the 'are we still in Kansas?' feeling began for me. Elizabethan Dukes *might* have had follies with classical statues (though topiary seems more likely: and I had more than a frisson of Green Knowe throughout the book) but would they have had mermaids and sea serpents as well? Sounds much more like a left-over amusement park a la Spirited Away. The author is American; is that why he has boy and grandmother feeding 'crackers' to the ducks and growing tomatoes in their garden? And if boy has been sent away from the Blitz, why are his mother and baby sister still in the capital? Also- only one character is given a name, which I read as French because I would. Everyone else is an initial and a dash. Only one place has a name- Wool Island- which we're told isn't its real name, just what the villagers call it. This anonymoty removes the action from too definite a here and now (or there and then, if we're talking WW2 Britain.) It's in the timeless place which is childhood.

Understand, I noted these things in and around the plot events and the boy's attempts to solve the riddle of the stone garden, which touch Borgesian and Eco-ish echoes and are delightful in themselves. The ominous intrusions of an unlikable Major into village life didn't go where I was afraid it would because this is another kind of book, unclassifiable in my experience.

The afterword of course solves the book's riddle so that incongruities now make sense. No, it's not Haw Par Villa, or even close, but- well, parallels again. The learned will already have figured this out for themselves, but I am happily not learned.

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Mon Oct 24th, 2016


08:44 pm - Wretched excess
1. Was at the liquor store buying my s-i-l a 70th birthday present. The Vintages section has upped their game. Everything is now either under $30 or over a hundred. This includes a 1989 wine for $6000, which I can't even.

2. No, sorry, not going to weep for Sheri S. Tepper. She's the one had a gay character in one of her mysteries insist that the U.S. gov't should have set up isolation camps for AIDS-infected people right at the start and then this thing wouldn't have got out of hand.

3. Pauper's Pub no longer has $6 martinis on Mondays but they do have them at a discount, and it's still Monday and I still ache, so in spite of Monday morning resolutions (Monday mornings my weight has always dropped to a satisfying low, and then a kilo+ returns by mid-week) I went and had two cosmopolitans, and in between concluded that food might not be a bad idea, and their fries were discounted as well, so I ordered those. 'Gravy or mayonnaise?' asks my server. Oh, mayonnaise! Wretched, wretched mistake, as Eliza Bennett said. But friet met mayonaise are so 80s to me, encountered on I-forget-which trip to Amsterdam (86? 88?). And I remember vividly trying to get them in Tokyo- fries from MOSburger and the thing the Japanese call mayonnaise from Lawson's. An approximation at best, but consoling.
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Sun Oct 23rd, 2016


07:23 pm - '...and one of them is fat and groweth old'
In the dep't of first Things First I spent most of my rebate on a new winter jacket. My old one is less than two years old but it too has fallen prey to the underarm stink bug: which I now think is not sweat but a combination of my PH balance and the lycra tubes I wear instead of bras. Certainly I never noticed this when I wore cotton. But it's a distinct pungent odour and it travels from tube to tank top to long sleeved top to, alas, whatever synthetic my coat is made of. I just washed my old coat in scented Tide, which may mask the smell, but I don't know for how long.

Cruising the stores last week I saw a lovely light-weight silver thingy, perfect for dark nights, but it was gone when I got back. So I have a North Face jacket in a light forest green, which will at least let me tell it from everyone else's coat hanging up at work. It's a men's XL, the largest size they have, and it fits well enough. But I won't be able to wear a fleecy under it if the weather goes really cold. If I lost those fifteen pounds I put on in the last fifteen months, then yes; and especially if I lost the additional ten I put on before that; but this doesn't look likely.

However I did manage to walk twenty minutes yesterday without knee hysterics. Surely walking must have some effect on the aging metabolism?

(Really what I want is another plastic winter coat. That one was warm and wet-proof until it started cracking, *and* it had that so-useful arm pocket as well.)
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Sat Oct 22nd, 2016


10:39 pm - Bullet dodged
Today's brief but deep gratitude is the hydro bill (that's electricity, for the non-Brits) Aug-Sep version, which I'd budgeted double the Jun-July bill for because I had the central AC on through almost all of August: and which was a mere ten dollars more.

The bright sun and brave colours and blue skies are, of course, what one expects of October, even if we didn't have them at all in last week's determined downpours and mizzle.
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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.
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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?
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