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Mon Jul 15th, 2019


09:37 pm - Good news
Somehow work has the best basmati rice in the world. I don't know what it is, because the cook buys in bulk, but even the expensive organic rice I get from Fiesta doesn't taste as good. So whenever we have a basmati dish, I zoom in on tne leftovers and take a yoghurt container or two of rice home with me, to serve on subsequent days with my two fave dishes, gyoza and har gow. After all those scares about 'leftover rice causes food poisoning!', I was a bit dubious, but still... delicious delicious basmati. I'll take my chances.

And now I find that refrigerating that rice makes it healthier to eat. Win-win all round.
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Sun Jul 14th, 2019


09:34 pm - Green green
The linden is in overdrive now. Its pollen coats the closed eavestrough as well as the steps and walkway. Luckily I swept the latter before yesterday's monsoon rain, which tends to reduce the stuff to shoe-sticking gunk, impossible to be rid of. A pity the arborists couldn't come sooner. I only hope it blows off the gutters before the next rain.

Once a week I take a walk. Tigerlilies are out in the neighbourhood now and other unidentified flowers in those households that have a gardener. Honeysuckle has faded leaving just the memory of perfume.

Left leg and hip has been stiff and painful for a while now, so I had a massage yesterday. Owie owie. Apparently my hamstrings have turned to steel wire that regular exercises don't treat. Back to the prolonged stretches it is.
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Fri Jul 12th, 2019


11:43 pm - Minor pleasures
It's been so long since I've used conditioner that I was halfway out of the shower before I realized it was still in my hair. But oh my hair feels so much better than usual!

Of course, there's no saying what difference it will make in the sweaty weather of the next few days. (Today's civilized breeziness is not forecast to last long.) Maybe I won't go as limp and greasy as usual?
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Wed Jul 10th, 2019


09:39 pm
Dear lord but almond milk is *vile*. When I was very young I had a doll made out of rubber. Almond milk tastes the way that doll smelled.

Weather continues very warm but not oppressively so. Oppressive is 35C and we hover at 30 with breezes. 'In July the sun is hot. Is it shining? No it's not.' Which is half-true. Days have gone to thin cirrus coverings that pale the shadows, which is fine by me.

Books finished?
Wolfe, The Shadow of the Executioner

Reading Now?
Wolfe, The Claw of the Conciliator
-- The Book of the New Sun is so recursive that I've had to put everything else on hold till it's done, and also keep vol 1 handy for reference as I wade through vol 2. And occasionally have recourse to the web to remind me who this person is I met ninety pages back, while trying to avoid spoilers.

Reading next?
Whatever the next one is. (googles) The Sword of the Lictor (Oh geez, you mean there's a fifth volume as well? Oh crap. Must I?)

Gideon the Ninth

And if all these depress me too much, and they do, The October Man arrived yesterday. I thought it wasn't released here until the fall, and maybe not, because Bakka isn't carrying it and somehow the American edition is going for $40. So I ordered it from England for a pittance.

Abandoned?
Probably K.J. Charles, The Secret Casebook of Simon Feximal
-- people keep mentioning Charles as a fun writer. I suppose if I still had hormones I might not find her mandatory sex scenes so annoyingly intrusive, but I don't and I do. Let them delight some other e-readerer.

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Tue Jul 9th, 2019


09:09 pm - I wish *I* hadn't got no noses
Woke up yesterday morning with the room swinging gently back and forth, and me due at work in 90 minutes. There's a maneuver that supposedly works for vertigo but I find it simply makes it worse. Luckily the other thing that works is ativan, so I took a half capsule and a Pepsi and made it through the day without either falling down or falling asleep. But I couldn't do my exercises because that involves lying on my back, which- nope.

Some better this morning, only a bit of movement when I first woke. Hope this continues, but meanwhile the sinuses still drain, the ear tubes still hurt, and the lungs still bring up great amounts of fluid. Could do without these dress rehearsals for pneumonia, myself.

But I still accomplish in my minor way, mindfully doing things even if there seems no reason to do them. Thus books are back at the library, pay cheques have been deposited, new batteries have been put in smoke detector and dollar store clock, and new filters purchased for the air purifier. But I still need to keep a list on my phone of things needed, because yes I got to the hardware store but no I forgot to get Critter Ridder to deal with the racccoon family happily disporting itself in the cherry tree Sunday night, not a mite disturbed by the bright lights aimed at them from my brother's back deck.
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Sun Jul 7th, 2019


09:40 pm - Accomplished
Oh if only all summer could be like today- 23C, breezy, dry. Or sort of dry. Having spent muggy yesterday in the side bedroom, reading by the uhh whatever of the standing fan, I was all prepared today to... lie on the sideroom bed, reading in the cool fan breeze at a total loose end. Since my lassitude wasn't down to heat wanhope, it must be creeping invalidism. 'Oh I can't do anything, everything hurts too much, and it will hurt more if I do anything.' The which to combat, I went for a walk down to Bloor to buy cherries (good for arthritis) and strawberries (the Ontario strawbs are in now, the only kind I eat these days.) Core work seems to be working because I didn't have to stop and stretch things more than twice, and oh it was nice to see people's gardens again like I used to four and five years ago.

Thus encouraged I started doing a bunch of those minor things I'd been resolutely not doing, like taking my ice chopper to the grate down the streeet that's been bunged up with earth and leaf detritus and bits of garbage since last fall. Alas, the dirt plug appears to be several inches thick now and not about to crumble into the sewer however much one pokes at it. But at least I tried.

Then I repotted the philodendron again, the one that's been growing in water since the time that the memory of man runneth not to the contrary. I got out the trimmer and hacked eight inches (20 cm) off the hedge. After which I was dripping wet, meaning today actually was more humid than it felt. Then, because the trimmer had dried leaves in it that went all over the hallway, I vacuumed the hall and the living room and the kitchen. And then I swiftered the parquet and the kitchen linoleum, which if not totally clean, are at least cleaner than they were.

Of course by this point my body was saying 'can we go back to reading in the sideroom now?' But I was adamant. I got the humidifier from the bedroom, took it apart, and soaked its various components in vinegar to remove the hard water deposits. (I love drinking Toronto water, but it's only good because it's so hard, which means a constant battle to keep baths and sinks and toilets white.) And then- and then- I pumped my bicycle's tires, which I now hate doing with a passion, because my arms simply can't. I have to use my torso to push down and it's a bloody nuisance.

So then I was dripping wet again, but I did everything I had to do except repapering my shoji, which frankly I'll be very surprised if I ever get done, and not solely because I don't have the right kind of washi for it. What I have is a kind of laminated washi, behind which is a long story, and you can't use flour and water paste with that. So, another day, maybe. And quite enough for now.

Oh no, actually. I have to apply for my property tax rebate for this year. Tomorrow.
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Sat Jul 6th, 2019


09:36 pm - A word child
I'm a touch bemused by the fact that 35 year old me not only had no trouble with the language of The Book of the New Sun, I didn't even notice any oddness to it. There are indeed advantages to a classical education, a minor in medieval history, and a semi-European upbringing. But I think I just let most of the terminology roll over me. If I didn't know that a misericorde is an actual kind of knife, or that khaibit is an ancient Egyptian term for a person's shadow self, no matter. The general sense was clear enough. But now I'm tempted to look all these terms up online just for the fun of it. And to marvel that Wolfe himself had that erudite and occasionally obscure vocabulary available to him *without* the Net.

On a different tangent, I've been experimenting this last week with overnight oats (which sounds like a Pratchett character.) Am convinced that the stubborn weight gain since the spring is due to me eating French bread toast for breakfast (with butter and jam and fake PB) instead of my long-time cereal and berries. French bread has more calories than sliced rye, for one thing, never mind what you put on it. Given my druthers and my touchy insides, I wouldn't eat breakfast at all, but I need meds to move and meds-cushioning food for the meds, so... Instant oatmeal is great, but not nutritionally so, and hot things on muggy mornings aren't great at all. I'm still not sure how I feel about cold oatmeal. It involves more milk than I've had in a while, even if lactose free- good for calcium and aging bones, iffy for digestion. I suppose I should try the nut milks, expensive though they are, and see if that feels any lighter. Or track down the one elusive rye bread that I can stand to eat a nd go back to that.

One odd thing I've noticed in this season of never-quite-awake (heat and antihistamines). I've never needed coffee in the morning, or wanted it. Home-brewed coffee upsets my stomach. (If I must have caffeine, it needs to be cold and carbonated to work.) I do go to my coffee shop for a latte, but the need is social rather than physical. Get out of the house, see familiar faces, exchange a few words, etc, But recently drinking my latte gives me a feeling of well-being that I've never had before. I mean, it could still be psychological: Starbucks doesn't have the same effect. But there certainly seems a perk-up physical component to it now as well.

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Thu Jul 4th, 2019


08:29 pm - Return of the special weather statement
That which plagued us all winter, promising freezing rain, heavy snowfall, arctic temperatures etc., is back in its summer version of humidex warnings. Not heat, because the temps don't get above 30. And in spite of it, somehow today was very pleasant because the air was dry and the wind blew, and it felt like the best of summer. House, even the upper floor, stayed nice and cool, and cool is blowing in the study window even though it's 27C. I can't expect as much for tomorrow, but who knows? Maybe...

I no longer tell myself stories in bed while drifting off and drifting awake, alas. But I have a... what to call it? half-conscious scenario that I sometimes see at those times. I'm living in the north somewhere- not the north of Canada, a European or maybe British north. A city, certainly, somewhere grey and chill and possibly rainy. But I'm indoors with my flatmate? sig.oth? having tea, and there are books in the flat, and the paraphernalia of the craft/ artistic stuff one of us does, or maybe both of us. And I finally realized today that this was an echo of Tove Jannsson, which I think is neat, however it came to be lodged in my subconscious.
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Wed Jul 3rd, 2019


08:55 pm - Where the nostrils cease from dripping and the sinus are at rest
Not that it's happened yet. But every so often there are stretches where it does, and I feel reborn...

Josie's house across the way sold to a lesbian couple with several kids and at least two dogs. They redid the basement to make a granny suite for one grandmother. But now they're temporarily moved out while major renovations happen inside, including it seems a new staircase. This week has seen the porch stripped of its covering, which I rather thought was concrete. New stairs are being put in. The facing was taken off, something altered inside, and then somehow put back. And I wonder to myself where the money for this is coming from, because houses on the street have been going for over a million since 2015. I hope it wasn't inherited from Grandma, whom I liked.
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Mon Jul 1st, 2019


07:59 pm - And there's an end of June
Which was both fast and undistinguished. I remember only going to Indigo for The True Queen, which I haven't read yet barring a reread of the first volume which I haven't bought yet etc etc, and the Israeli family party at my coffeeshop on Father's Day. I finished three books (Cyril Connolly, Kate Griffin, and The Affair of the Mysterious Letter), did not finish two (Huizinga and Shiga), and have no place-memories attached to the reading, which is unusual but indicative of how undistinguished the month was.

I worked a lot and hurt a lot. The weather was pretty much dead on average for the month, which is also unusual, but meant no fans and no AC until this last week. I call this gain.

Ordered a battery operated grout cleaner. Aches and laziness stopped me from trying it out until today. Not exactly miraculous but infinitely easier to use than an ordinary brush. Can't say if the grouting really looks cleaner because I have a certain amount of dirt-blindness to go with the other kind. Must really work up my nerve to get a housecleaning service in, just once, to see if... well, if I can see a difference. (Went next door once after s-i-l had her cataracts removed to find her, most unusually, mopping the kitchen floor. Housework is usually my brother's domain, as yardwork is hers. But, she explained, now she could actually see the dirt it bothered her so much she had to do something about it.)

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Sun Jun 30th, 2019


09:37 pm - Misery
Dear lord but the allergies are bad this year. Worst since 1969, the unspeakable summer when they began. The constant runny nose, the constant tickle in the throat, the spasmodic unstoppable cough, the earth-shaking sneezes, and of course the ever-aching sinuses. I hope off the shelf Flonase helps some, because otherwise there's only my opioid cough medicine, which only works in double the dose my doctor wants me to take; and if I run out of it too soon, thrre's no way I can get more.

Opioids have everyone running silly, frankly. There's no way I'd use this as a recreational drug: the side-effects are too unpleasant. Sometimes I miss the happy days of laudanum, good for what ails you.
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Sat Jun 29th, 2019


09:44 pm - Day one of long weekend
Long because Canada Day is a Monday. Next year it'll be a Wednesday and, for the first time since 2015, a singleton holiday.

Tumblr is getting on my nerves. Posts from people I'm not following show up randomly on my dashboard, over and over again, and it seems the only way to get rid of them is to block the poster. FB at least has a 'hide this entry' function, which amazingly puts it one up on tumblr. Equally, I understand that 'fandom is on tumblr now', but judging by the second hand noise I hear (people I follow reposting someone else's answers to a third party's posts), tumblr fandom is a) very young and b) wankier than anything seen previously, GW and HP included. Because now it's youth plus self-righteousness, slamming Neil Gaiman for gay-baiting(!) and Rowland for associating with TERFs (and therefore being a TERF herself, since youth has never heard that guilt by association is a fallacy.) Fandom Wank, thou shouldst be with us at this hour.

Am slightly cranky because my body woke me up, irrevocably, at 4:15 this morning for no good reason. Eventually took an antihistamine and went back to sleep ca 7 a.m. Body then proceeded to cough all day from draining sinuses choking my throat. It's a bad allergy year, and probably about to get worse with next week's heat. Is also the stink time of year when the fragrant flowers of May give place to... oh, I don't know what: lilac wannabes and linden droppings and mock orange.

Incidentally, my front lawn tree was supposed to be an ironwood, but the arborist says it's really a basswood , ergo a linden. 'Fragrant flowers', the webpages say, which is one word for them. Could make a soothing tea from them, or put them in my bath to reduce hysteria. Yeah, sure.

Cherries are red red red and the noisy birds feast on them all day long, which makes me happy, because sweeping up pits is much easier than sweeping up half-rotted fruit. Gorge your fill, little birdies. Now, at the end of my seventh decade, I realize that I can't tell birds apart by their cries but am newly aware that they do make different sounds. None of them strike me as melodic, mind : I'm especially puzzled at Shelley's 'profuse strains of unpremeditated art.' Shelley was smoking the good dope. As for nightingales singing in Berkeley Square- well, someone posted the sound of a nightingale to the Rivers of London FB group and, er well, I'd be tempted to chuck a stone at something that made a noise like that. But then I have little use for birds at the best of time. They're still dinosaurs by me.

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Thu Jun 27th, 2019


08:28 pm - In winter, the taxi; in summer, the AC
Ah, lovely window AC. How your cold air restores sanity to my life. Not that it's that hot: the humidex may be over 30 but the temps aren't. However the lows are not comfortable sleeping lows, so I shall be self-indulgent in my old age.

Tree guy came today to see about reducing the shade canopy on my front lawn. I mean, I like that curtain of green between me and the neighbours, but let's face it, the ironwood's lower branches have spread past a joke. Also they've shoved the birch tree out, so one of the birch's trifurcates leans at a precarious angle into the street above the parked cars. Had I my druthers, that westernmost portion would all come down, leaving the remaining two trunks upright. Alas, trees planted by the city are city trees, and the city is cracking down HARD on the companies that are allowed to trim them. This is because several of the companies that are actually licensed to care for city trees were being egregiously fraudulent: like the one a few years back that told Prof of Islamic Studies they needed to trim his modest magnolia, and then snipped off a foot of branch, end work order. So now all cutting work gets inspected and major alterations must be approved in advance.

Though god knows, I keep seeing what look like healthy trees being taken out, most recently and disastrously outside my coffeeshop, where the maple across the street used to provide flickering shade for the patio and the front section, which are now exposed to the pitiless morning burn. True, I always sit at the back because even with the maple, the glare at the front was too much for my cataracts. But the light quality has all changed and it makes me sad.

I'm reasonably sure that Cohen and Masters will give me far more sun than I want at the front of my house, though they're not proposing anything as drastic as the chop they did on the cherry tree four years back. And as the cherry has rebounded from that, so I fancy will the ironwood.
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Wed Jun 26th, 2019


08:53 pm - Oh Mary go and put the garbage out
Was leaving work and halfway up the street when I realized that my light and gladsome feeling came from having left my backpack there. So turned round and peddled back and met Neighbour Ike and his dad just leaving. 'Don't take your backpack with you, you won't need it,' I said, that being my convoluted way of explaining why I was returning when I'd just left. Dad looks startled, registers non-existence of pack on my back, and turns back up the stairs himself, having realized he'd forgotten his own backpack. It was that kind of day.

Yesterday I succeeded only in buying new Birkenstocks. Today I managed the task I'd been putting off for weeks, getting my quarterly blood draw. Anti-inflammatories damage the kidneys so my doctor keeps tabs on what mine are doing. Which is fine, but I hate sitting in the lab waiting my turn. Yesterday the place was so full there were people waiting in the corridor, the board said at least a 25 minute wait, and someone was wearing a cheap perfume. Today there was just me and another woman, and the cheap perfume wearer arrived only as I was leaving.

There has been no progress at all on the reading front, but with the arrival of hot weather I think I'll send The Autumn of the Middle Ages back to the library and devote my brainfried self to fantasy novels.
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Tue Jun 25th, 2019


08:34 pm - Media
The trouble with reading things on the tablet, aside from the comprehension scrim that distances even quondam familiar writers like Agatha Christie, is that the battery runs down. So I've had a paperback to read while the battery recharges. It's a damned thick paperback, with small print, and for travelling purposes as heavy as the tablet, making it one with much recent reading like Freedom and Necessity and The Bone People. Unlike those it's a reread from the mid-80s: Shiga Naoya's A Dark Night's Passing.

(And no, I'm not rereading it just because it's one of the books in Murakami's Kafka's library, because it might be Shiga's short stories there, and probably is.)

I remember almost nothing of the book, just that the protagonist spends an awful lot of time hanging out in teahouses with geisha, not enjoying himself much but apparently unable to think of anything better to do. That can't be the whole of a 400 page novel, I thought, but it's certainly the whole of the first hundred pages. When he's not getting drunk in the teahouses, falling asleep there, having a bath, getting drunk again, and essentially paying for the hire of two geisha for 24 hours or more (poor women), he's wandering off to eat in restaurants with various friends. The question of how he pays for this is only once addressed, and then he sells some of his books to cover one evening's visit. How he manages the rest of the time is anyone's guess. But back he goes, again and again, because he has to see this woman or that one so as to judge if she's attractive or not. He isn't going to start an affair with her because he avows that 'I know nothing about such things.' (One hopes he knows it'll cost him a great deal more than just hiring her to play cards, which is what he does a lot of). No, he's trying to find out how he *feels* about women. The book is hardly an advertisement for the discreet charm of the Taishou intellectual, because neither protag nor his friends have any at all. One can enjoy a self-absorbed bon vivant and man about town who's actually enjoying himself, but one who just moons around in vague and perpetual dissatisfaction is a bore. I don't say he's a Japanese Holden Caulfield- for one thing, he's much hornier- but he's just as much a dweeb.

Nonetheless I'm enjoying the book because of all the place names. Shiga's Sugamo is certainly not mine, though his Ginza might have been, and my tramping grounds in Shinjuku and Ikebukuro were, I think, pretty close to farmland in the 1920s; but the older shitamachi sections near the river seem pretty much the same. Yes, Taishou houses were all wood and not the stucco and plaster I saw almost thirty years ago, but the feel of these neighbourhoods- Ueno, Akasaka, Hongo- sounds the same.

And since the tablet recharged, I was able to finish The Affair of the Mysterious Letter this afternoon. How I wish for a paper copy so I could leaf back and trace those vaguely noted King in Yellow references, and possibly compare them with the original, supposing I still have my copy of that. Or maybe I should just leave it all as the fantastic mishmash it reads as, pointless of disentanglement, given that the action is of the 'runaway cart rattling downhill' school: you can't follow where it's going or where it's been, you can only hold on as it swerves hither and thither and gains speed, and trust to avoid a crash at the end.

But I do suspect it of having inspired one of my dreams last night, a baroque Buddhistic cartoon in the style of Avatar the Last Airbender, with much emphasis on the intricate designs on the characters' robes.

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Sun Jun 23rd, 2019


07:41 pm - Zombie
The usual crippling awakening didn't happen this morning because I was up several times in the night disposing of the water I unwisely drank so copiously yesterday evening. Must adjust the timing of intake since I can't adjust the volume: it's now summer with swollen ankles and feet and a kilo weight gain overnight. So movement keeps one limber, but at the expense of sleep, and that's why I was awake for good at 5:30. Finished the Henning Mankell mystery I started in yesterday's loose end, probably not the best choice because the police detective hero regularly stays up to the wee hours on the case and gets maybe two hours of sleep a night. This did not help my heavy-eyed trudging self at all.

I won't call these physical symptoms nostalgic, but back in the mid-70s when I went to Stratford and stayed in the youth hostel there, the 'five hours of sleep *maybe*' syndrome was a commonplace, as was the unreal cast of the light and slightly nightmare feel that followed it. Haven't missed it at all.

What I really want these days is someone to tuck me into bed. In summer I sleep with a cotton sheet over the lower body and a terrycloth sheet over the top, with the occasional blanket for my cold feet, and have beanbags around both aching elbows and another on the chest to stop the allergy cough, and I sleep on my side with a pillow between my knees, and it's really difficult to get everything arranged properly when you have all that clobber to manage. A nice nurse to arrange the sheeting for me would be lovely.

Shall note that cherries are reddening and cherry pits falling where the birds have been at them, and that the indoor fan dance has begun. Lows are still in the teens, which is defined as cool in summer, but the sunny days make for stuffiness on the second floor.

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Sat Jun 22nd, 2019


10:30 pm - Surfacing
Horrible week of four before 7 a.m. wakings and an inspection by the Protocol Police leads to apocalypsosis. Am decompressing now, and may even feel human tomorrow, but summer has begun and humanity is dependent on humidexes and suchlike.

Managed to knock my little travel clock off the table once too often, and now the hands are forever still. But ahah! I have another one sitting in a drawer because I never throw things away. Put battery in and- the hands don't move. And the time adjustment wheel is broken as well. You'd think I might throw out a broken clock. But ahah! I have a *third* one sitting in a drawer because I never etc etc. Put battery in and the second hand begins its journey around the clock face. Silently, alas. I miss the steady ticking of my old friend. Check on it some time later. It's several hours slow, though the second hand still revolves. Put in a new battery and hope for the best. So far it seems to be keeping time.

The hardware store doesn't sell battery operated clocks anymore because people evidently use their phones to check the time in the middle of the night. But my phone is recharging on a table six feet away, and anyway the last thing I need in the middle of the night (or the early hours of the morning, more like) is the blinding brightness of a phone screen, which guarantees that, 5 a.m. or not, I am awake and won't go back to sleep.

On a happier note, the parents of one of our kids had their second child recently. On inquiring of Papa, was told it's a boy and they've called him Alan. "After Alan Turing." How charmingly geeky, I think. And only much, much later suddenly realize why their first child is called Ada.
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Wed Jun 19th, 2019


08:41 pm - Rarely, rarely comest thou, spirit of delight
And when it does come, one is incredulous and amazed. But there it is, and I've checked it twice. My property tax installments have dropped by $40 a month. Now, the city giveth and the city taketh away, blessed be the name of the city, and next year they may bump it back up again. But for now I'll take that extra $240 and be grateful.

Reading Wednesday still chugs along slowly. Hamabe no Kafka goes nowhere fast, but now I've been reminded what's up with that librarian I take extra note of the very mundane details Murakami gives of his shirts and whatall. The proof of Murakami's mundaneity is that I don't have to look up any of his kanji, even though I began a desultory review of the basic 2000 and was distressed at how many I've forgotten in the last few years of non-reading.

Am also forging ahead with The Affair of the Mysterious Letter, reading on the tablet, and trying not to get too dizzy with it. The story would make my head spin even in paper-print. Add my cognitive handicap when reading onscreen, and we have utmost confusion, as well as a sneaking suspicion that a more intimate acquaintance with both Robert Chambers and the Lovecraftian corpus might render the book, if not more comprehensible, then at least more appreciable. I mean, it's great fun even if you don't get all the in-jokes, but I'm feeling the lack of a frame of reference here.

The current crisis leads me to having two early morning shifts in the next two days. I console myself for same with ativan which gives me, as well as sweet sleep, a lift in the spirits while waiting for sweet sleep to come, so that I forget that I must be up half an hour earlier than usual in order to do the exercises that allow me to stand up when I get out of bed. Tuesday morning, because of a dream I'd had that I was as limber as pre-65, I tried standing up without either stretches or knee brace, and it was a hallway's worth of Nope. What cheeses me is that this level of cripple only began in January, in spite of weight loss and a month's worth of good physiotherapy. Yes, prior to that knees were stiff and I was limpy on first getting out of bed, but it wasn't a case of 'can't put any weight on it at all.' Bah humbug, say I.

(OTOH, ativan sleep makes me much less crippled than after ordinary sleep. So much of it must be the muscles anc not just the joint itself.)

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Mon Jun 17th, 2019


11:17 pm - Over
Work is now beyond silly and into crisis mode. Still, I survived an 8:30 to 6 day, go me.

Never leave your glasses on the bed, especially if the frames are brown and the sheet is burgundy. And if you must leave your glasses on the bed, handy for sitting on, at least confine yourself to dollar store glasses and not the $25 semi-dollar store ones. Which I didn't much like anyway.

Of course some a-hole opened fire in City Hall Square when it was unprecedentedly crammed to celebrate the Raptors win. The word of mouth I got from parents at work made it sound much worse than it was- people dead and children crushed and blind panic all around. In the event, four people seriously injured but not life-threatening, and arrests promptly following. Well, shoot in a crowd like that and you may find it hard to run away. But it's still depressing.

S-i-l gave me a book of potato recipes, since she has very narrow views on potatoes. (Baked or roasted, end.) Book instructs me that the proper way to boil potatoes is *not* in chunks, because that makes them soggy, but in their skins. Oh, and test them with a thin skewer, not a fork, for the same reason. Boiling an intact russett potato takes a lot of time, but the results make a perfect mashed potato, so I no longer need to depend on restaurants for my mashed potato fix.
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Sun Jun 16th, 2019


04:57 pm - She lives
Mother's Day I know to avoid, but was unprepared to find a three generation, three family Father's Day party taking over half my local coffeehouse.

Irises all over the neighbourhood, purple and white. Tiny green cherries on my tree but the weather does not encourage them. Cool but damp still, making work an achy proposition. Scrub that- makes moving an achy proposition. Much struck with this sentence from G's WIP: "...lowering himself into the only chair. His back was erect, but he moved with the careful protectiveness for hips and knees that (redacted) had seen in elderly (people) with arthritis". Got it in one, G.

I don't do Reading Wednesdays now because my life is still Read All The Things. Did finish A Madness of Angels and did resist urge to go on to the next one, but am bemused by the fact that nothing of hers before or AFAIC since has the umm depth and volume of Matthew Swift. Maybe those four books exhausted her? They would me, for sure.

Am still annoyed that Matthew's reflex reaction to a threat is Run! Boy must be in really good shape. And also, howcum she gives Japanese names like Oda and Mikeda to people she claims are African and Russian?

I did get within spitting distance of the end of Waning of the Middle Ages, but then googling around to hopefully find where it is that Huizinga quotes the original nomina nuda tenemus, which I should have noted, discover an article fulminating about the badness- in fact, the falsification- of the translation I have, and recommending the new one from 1996. Which I have ordered from the library with no optimism about reading.

Ordered two books of acrostics from the Evil Empire, Canadian dep't. Work has gone silly and I expect to be braindead this week from lack of sleep. Thus, acrostics.

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Tue Jun 11th, 2019


08:55 pm - Busy
I conclude that the only way to combat the inequity of early morning shifts and appointments is to get so drugged/ drunk the night before that one falls asleep at 8 pm, wakes three hours later, takes out lenses, turns off lights, and goes back to sleep again. Then I wake naturally at 6 something, which allows me to do exercises, have breakfast, take meds, and be at work at 8:30 or whatever. This worked like a charm last night: an antihistamine and a muscle relaxant and a long rainy day with cabin-fevered infings got me happily to sleep well before nine. But I doubt tonight will work as well, since I had the day off and spent it erranding and seeing doctors and acupuncturists. Though I *did* chop some more off the hedge as well as the honeysuckle vine down the street, which is 30% deadwood and is cracking the concrete hydro pole it's growing around, and which catches at my hair/ hat as I ride my bike down the sidewalk to where my street starts going in the right direction.

Anyway, happy sunny day saw me getting opioids of choice from doctor and Zen Cho's latest from the one Indigo Books that had it, so I could use my Indigo book token from Xmas. (People don't call them book tokens anymore. You have to say 'gift certificate' now. When did that happen? And is 'book token' a Britishism? It's what they were called in the veddy English Toronto of my childhood.) Had less luck with my other efforts. Called the arborists who will get back to me eventually rather than same day, is the difference between booking in April and booking in June. And my attempt to return wrong kind of socket computer mouse for right kind was forestalled by store being out of mice. I deal with a local spare parts guy rather than big box, because he's local and a friendly maritimer and was a sanity saver when I was going through trauma eight years ago. More mice expected by Friday, by which time I may also have bought new Birks as well.

But first there's a 9:30 to 6 day tomorrow to be got through. Bed soon, I think.

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Sun Jun 9th, 2019


09:26 pm - Quandary
Bought expensive(ish) Joe Fresh reading glasses at Loblaws just to see what difference they made, if any. Not really. But it's been so long since I wore glasses-glasses (40 years) that I've forgotten a basic skill: or possibly, never had it to start with.

How do you get your glasses clean and keep them clean?

I have a spray from the optician's that never gets the oil around the frames clean. Soap? Dish detergent? Paper towels or dedicated rag? It seems dust and oil are everywhere and attach themselves automatically, and it's beginning to drive me batty.
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Sat Jun 8th, 2019


10:15 pm - Summertime
1. Went sockless in sandals today. Sandals kept falling off feet which is odd, because these are the sandals I wear sockless in the mornings when I get breakfast, and they certainly don't fall off my feet then. Maybe feet shrink through the day?

2. FFL comes up with a lovely recipe for something called Eton mess, which is whip cream, sugar soaked strawberries, and broken meringue. Contains a recipe for meringues as well. But 'bake for 90 minutes to 2 hours'? That's an awfully long time.

3. Erranded along the unholy mess that is Bloor St these days. Unholy because construction at ex-Honest Ed's is a 12 hours a day, six days a week affair (running waaaay behind schedule is my guess) that has closed a lane on Bathurst and that spreads either mud or dust depending on weather. It hasn't rained in three days, so it's Sahara sandstorm dust. And then they're replacing Bloor's sewer pipes on the other side of Bathurst, so Bloor is also down to two lanes. However, I found a lightweight jackety thing (pure rayon, probably) that covers most of my arms, to shield me from the hot hot sun at work. The hapi coats of yesteryear are too thick and don't cover my forearms. Wish I could find more lightwight long-sleeved cotton shirts, because those work best.

4. Because it's now humid and I sweat in humidity and I can't get rid of that year-round smell in one underarm (but only one) even with carbolic soap and rubbing alcohol, I broke down and tried deodorant again. Organic only, because commercial makes me sweat more and smells vile. But! The no perfume brand is sticky and, well, has a smell. The Ombra roll-on is perfumed. And the organic aloe vera one is sticky *and* so highly scented it gave me a headache. I mean, being a super smeller means I don't have Alzheimers, which is a blessing, but it does have its drawbacks.

5. Washed flannel duvet at the laundromat and flannel pillowcases here. Out with the warm, in with the cotton. Summer.
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Fri Jun 7th, 2019


01:56 am - "Al and Yetta watched an operetta
Leonard Bernstein told them what they saw."

Having finally finished the Connolly, I go to Goodreads, as ever, to find out what it's about. A lot of men really really like it, as does Donna Tartt. Many people complain about the chunks of untranslated French, which I'd put down to a bit of personal snobbishness. He translates all the Latin passages from Vergil and Horace, which any public school boy would already know; but evidently thinks that the real intelligentsia don't need to have Pascal rendered comprehensible for them.

Many people call it a war diary. The war may background the emotions but as far as I can recall he never refers to it directly, nor hints that all his magical beloved places in France are now lost to him, and may never be seen again; or that many of the London locales he mentions are currently flattened by the Blitz. Possibly he assumes that anyone reading this in 1945 will be aware of these facts, but theoretically he's writing a masterpiece for the ages- who'd have to consult the endpapers to find out it dates to wartime.

Mostly however I'm with the woman who says 'a third of the way into the book I kept thinking I would like to find Connolly's wife, buy her a stiff drink, then sit back and let the tape recorder roll.'

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Wed Jun 5th, 2019


09:04 pm - The rain it reigneth every day
When Environ Canada were posting highs of 28C for Friday, I determined to change the flannel duvet cover for a cotton one. Lucky I hate changing duvet covers, because they're forecasting considerably less now. The lows for the next two nights are what I usually turn the heat on for and my house is still freezing. Was in fact colder than the outside when I left this morning, but not when I came home, because temps actually fell during the afternoon. Maybe if the sun shines as it's supposed to tomorrow, we'll have that promised warmth. Certainly Monday was quite hot in the yard, even if it never made 17C all day.

But in all events, what happiness to come home to a hot shower and afterwards climb all cozy into the flannel and wool nest of my bed.

New experience of the day was a Beyond Burger at the local pub, which has alas taken their Murphy's stew off the menu under the misapprehension that it's now summer. (It's not the stew I miss so much as their mashed potatoes, or at least, their mash *and* stew. Perfect cold weather eating.) The Beyond isn't half bad and doesn't leave me with the queasiness that real hamburger does. True, it doesn't have that much flavour either, but then neither do hamburger chain burgers. Once you've got the fixings on, who cares anyway?

I could do the Wednesday meme, but nothing has changed. Finished The Castle of Otranto, the first Gothic and highly silly with it. Am still on Connolly and Huizinga and A Madness of Angels and a few pages of Japanese a day, and can't think beyond them to what I'll read next.

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Tue Jun 4th, 2019


09:45 pm - The zombie past
Work is coming up on its 50th anniversary celebration. There's a Facebook page that I've friended which periodically posts pictures from the distant past, asking if anyone can identify the kids in it. Last one dated from 1982ish, after I'd started working there. The adults were instantly identifiable and identified, but the kids were all unfamiliar.

However I have a commonplace book, kept sporadically between '76 and '89. One of its entries is a list of all the babies at work, that I updated every three months for six years. I took it from the shelf to check. Very very few of the names from 81 to 83 have any memories attached to them, and none were relatable to the children in the picture. So much for that. And then I started flipping through other entries- books read, diary jottings, extracts from plays, poems. Fantoddy in the extreme, especially the ones dating to '78, a year I've managed to delete almost completely from memory. My '78 book list says I read The Courtier: I have no memory of doing so, and when I read it three years ago none of it was even remotely familiar. But there was that family tree of the Montefeltre and Estes pencilled in by me on the endpapers, so... I must have? But- Silas Marner? The House of the Seven Gables? The Sherwood Ring? I didn't. I never. Yes, I recall other books in that list, but those? I *know* I never read them.

However, I did make a list of Downers:
Cut for sameCollapse )
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Sun Jun 2nd, 2019


08:42 pm - Venting
We had our sunny warm perfumed May day today: sunny after the rain cleared mid-morning and warm until a cold front blew in this afternoon. But I'll take it.

Am relieved that I'm not actually as crippled as I felt all day. Evidently I failed to take my anti-inflams this morning, being engrossed by Postsecret, I guess.

I have a couple of books on the go, inspired by my successful polishing off of The Castle of Otranto yesterday afternoon. Another slim volume to weed from the shelf, Cyril Connolly's The Unquiet Grave. But oh does it drag in comparison to Walpole!

Connolly was one of those between-wars literati who hobnobbed with all the other literati and travelled about with them and stayed at their houses and behaved like Julian Assange in the Ecuadorean embassy: complained constantly, made demands, and left the places he stayed in a mess. All without being able to hold down a job, while sponging off his parents and mentors. Why am I reading him? Because in my naive 20s the literary critics of the time pushed certain English writers at the public and I tried reading them, never understanding what the fuss was about. VS Pritchett, Anthony Powell, Nigel Nicolson, and all the Bloomsburyites. Maybe you had to be English to get the point; or maybe the litcrits were all English males and naturally in tune with that particular zeitgeist. Anyway, Connolly was one of them. and I kept The Unquiet Grave ('a word cycle') thinking I might understand it at some later date. Forty years later I understand it all too well.

The book begins, "The more books we read, the sooner we perceive that the true function of a writer is to produce a masterpiece and that no other task is of any consequence." Those who cannot do, pontificate. *Especially* if they've been to Eton and Oxford.

Connolly inveighs against women, especially women who have female friends, because women are always trying to break up other women's marriages from spite against men, when they aren't leaving their own marriages from spite against men. I assume some personal grudge at work here: his first wife left him after seven years of marriage, which had to be from spite and not because he was sponging off both her and her mother. In any case, Connolly feels very very sorry for himself and knows the world is going to hell in a handbasket. Marriage invariably ends in hatred or boredom. Friendship is dead. Yahoos are everywhere. The past was so much better than the present- in Rome under Augustus, in Restoration England, in the eighteenth century- and that's where he sees himself belonging. "Civilization is maintained by very few people in a small number of places, and we need only a few bombs and some prisons to blot it out altogether. The civilized are those who get more out of life than the uncivilized, and for this the uncivilized have not forgiven them." Oh, the jeunesse dorée of a hundred years ago: what an unquestioned sense of superiority and entitlement Eton and Balliol can give a man.

OK, this book was written in during the second world war and Connolly was clearly suffering from depression. But the basically selfish and self-centred nature of the man is everywhere, and one can't help suspecting it to be a large contributing factor.

And of course, he was probably right about how he should belong to another time. The other book I'm reading is Huizinga's The Waning of the Middle Ages (coincidentally, also a book from the 70s that I couldn't parse then but can now, after reading both A Distant Mirror and Magnifico.) Connolly would be out of his depth in periods of high reason like both Augustan ages; he's better suited to the calamitous 14th century of Deschamps:
The poetry of Deschamps is full of petty reviling of life and its inevitable troubles. Happy is he who has no children, for then he can write his masterpiece* babies mean nothing but crying and stench; they give only trouble and anxiety; they have to be clothed, shod, fed... Happy are bachelors, for a man who has an evil wife has a bad time of it, and he who has a good one fears to lose her. In other words, happiness is feared together with misfortune. In old age the poet sees only evil and disgust, a lamentable decline of the body and the mind, ridicule and insipidity. It comes soon, at thirty for a woman, at fifty for a man, and neither lives beyond sixty, for the most part.
I shall think of Connolly as sitting out the Black Death, and maybe his witterings will go down better.

*"There is no more sombre enemy of good art than the pram in the hall" says the man who had no children until twenty years after he wrote that line.

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Sat Jun 1st, 2019


08:50 pm - There's an end of May
The chestnut casts his flambeaux, and the flowers
Stream from the hawthorn on the wind away,
The doors clap to, the pane is blind with showers.
Pass me the can, lad; there's an end of May.

May ends as it began, grey and rainy but without the wild winds of either May 1 or Housman's poem. I had the heat on until mid-month at least, and would have had it on longer but for sheer bloody mindedness. Would like to have my space heater on now, in fact, but will do the 'hot bath, beanbags, and bundle' thing instead. My house holds the cold well enough that highs of 20 don't affect it much. And as I'm usually into open windows and fans at this time of year, instead of flannel and bedsocks, I should be grateful.

It rained much of the month as well. The lake has surpassed its 2017 record height. So much for those condos down by the waterfront...

The lilacs are still kicking around a week after the Glorious 25th, which is nice, and I have what is for me a bumper crop of lily of the valley that I have picked to scent my kitchen. While we had a lot of 'November with flowers' in this chilly month, we didn't get my other favourite May topos, warm sunny evenings when the blossoms scent everything sweetly. Ah well: one rarely gets to complain these days about things not being warm enough.

It is in truth iniquity on high
To cheat our sentenced souls of aught they crave,
And mar the merriment as you and I
Fare on our long fool's-errand to the grave.

Iniquity it is; but pass the can.
My lad, no pair of kings our mothers bore;
Our only portion is the estate of man:
We want the moon, but we shall get no more.
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Wed May 29th, 2019


08:42 pm - Partly horticultural
October returns for a day or two, and like Pratchett's trolls I can think again. Still have little memory of the past two days because the cool was muggy as well, and I came in from a mild bout of hedge-clipping this evening soaked to the skin. Actually I was mostly pulling ground ivy, or whatever the creeping plant is that covers my front yard, off the two trees where it's climbed above my head level. This apparently is a good way to kill a tree, and since I'd be just as happy if the linden died, I hadn't bothered to remove it last year. But I contemplate having the arborists in to at least cut back the ironwood's lower branches, and for very shame must do some tree-keeping.

There's a house down Shaw that has a stand of bamboo in its front yard. This climate doesn't really support bamboo, and the plant itself I am told is the Genghis Khan of invasives, so I wonder at the (homesick, maybe?) people who planted it.
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Mon May 27th, 2019


08:54 pm - Hot and cold
It isn't hot but it's not cold, meaning that I'm now in a different reality from the last six months, or rather, last week. Warmth has hit the reset button on my personality and consequently erased most memories from my Cold-self period. Can't remember what the last book I finished was, and when I do remember, I forget it again immediately. (It was The Death of the Necromancer.) Granted, I've also been immersed in Freedom and Necessity, compulsively readable and almost 600 pages- but then, I generally find epistolary novels go faster than the other kind. Voice, you know. Something that long creates its own reality, but in heat, most things do. As an example, last night I reread the first few chapters of my recovered Madness of Angels, only to have oogies for the rest of the evening because these really are oogie books, first read in the unseasonably hot May of 2012 and thus nightmare fuel ever after. Brust and Bull provided a good enough antidote, or otherwise I'd have needed more 100Demons or Aaronovitch or Pratchett to exorcise the voice of Matthew Swift. (Or Dick Francis. It says something that three out of four of my touchstones of reality should be white English men.)

In the gratitudes department, took my bike over to the paranoid bike guy, the one who believes the government tracks you through the PA system in national parks. The shop said Open but the door was locked, just like last time. Last time I only had a slow leak that let me peddle to a Bloor St store, but this was a puncture that went flop ten minutes after being pumped. But as I was standing and dou shiyouing he rode up on his bike with a coffee and a newspaper and fixed it then and there. His bete noir, I understand, is people who actually leave their bikes with him because his hole in the wall shop has no storage space at all. Thus he was pleased that I would hang around while he fixed it, pay him cash, and ride away afterward. And I was pleased to have my bike back, but paranoid because between last winter's snow and this spring's construction, my biking routes are littered with gravel, stones, glass, nails, and a lot of sharp-sided and unavoidable crap, all liable to attack at any time and render me a limping walker again.

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Sun May 26th, 2019


10:11 pm - Lord, it is time.
I've taken the flannel sheets off the futon. Though not off the pillows and duvet, because night temps for the next few days will be in the low teens, and I wait to see how cold that will feel to me.

Accomplished this and that today: washed coloured shirts, flipped futon, vacuumed dust bunnies, bought gin, mailed a parcel to one friend, and got books back that I'd loaned to another. This was the Little Girls' mother, and the LGs are that no longer but are Young Ladies. M is pushing 16 and has grown another two inches in the year and a half since I saw her last. Also they're going to Japan in July, so I was able to advise them on things like what clothes to bring and that no, mixed bathing isn't commonplace, and yes, some onsen will let you wear bathing suits but you have to check first, nado nado. Very nice seeing them again.

Except that as I peddled away I realized my rear wheel was totally flat. A sensible person would have gone back and borrowed their bicycle pump but of course I figured I could walk it the eight (long) blocks home. And did, but had to stop halfway for a double gin and Sprite to ease the clamping lower back muscles. That tube was replaced only a month or so ago and *shouldn't* be flat again, especially as the wheel is supposed to be the flat-resistant kind. This, of course, is what comes of dawdling over buying a new bike: barring miracles, I'll be bikeless for the next few days because of the summer rush.
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Sat May 25th, 2019


09:25 pm - How do they rise up?
The lilacs were half out yesterday, so I snapped a few off, put them in water, and was greeted on the morning of the glorious 25th by the perfume of lilac in my kitchen. And fine for a day or two, but lilac has a cloying note to it; I shan't keep them much longer, I think. Especially as the allergy season has come in like gangbusters and my sinuses are draining me to death.

Have managed to kludge my neck by sleeping in the wrong position. Oh, age.

Mugginess has descended, and steaminess when the sun shines. Temps go into the 20s/ 70sF, which is Toronto's cue to start our famous humidity. This probably consoles those who peeved at having to wear winter coats a scant fortnight ago, but I could wish for drier. As it was, today was heavy rain that happily stopped while I went to physio, and then came back as loud thunder and more heavy rain.

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Thu May 23rd, 2019


10:26 pm - Garbage chronicles
Our garbage pickups alternate: recycle one week, garbage and (in season) garden waste the other. Food waste every week, fortunately, because not everyone freezes their nama gomi like I do. The garden pickup days are the best, because the trucks do that first and then come by, usually in the afternoon, for the garbage garbage. I'm not only not a morning person ('put garbage out before 7 a.m.' are you joking?), I'm also not one for stomping back downstairs to do it late at night either. Especially since the raccoons will get into ordinary garbage if there's anything vaguely edible there, like the papers from muffins, and the bins don't have locks. You take chances putting garbage out at night.

So a week ago I was drowsing in bed early when I heard the crash chunk of the garbage truck's metal jaws, presumably munching the garden waste. But then there was a repeated rumble rumble clank rumble that doesn't go with paper garden bags at all. Startled, I sat up and checked my phone. No, 9:05: I hadn't somehow slept until 11:30 or 12. But rumble rumble clank rumble: they were emptying garbage bins, and I hadn't put mine out. And the garden waste? That truck was coming up the street just behind. Chiz curses. So a fortnight's worth of garbage is still in the bin, with a rock on top to discourage varmints.

Meanwhile, this week is recycle, and as my bin is only half full I didn't put it out. But I had a clear plastic garbage bag of weeded manga to go. They want you to place such bookbags for recycle on top of your bin. Put in on my brother's instead, so as not to confuse it with the three bags of shredded paper next to it. (Lawyers generate a lot of paper, esp. if they weed their files regularly.) Also it was going to rain last night and books are easier recycled if not sodden from moisture building up inside the bags.

This morning I'm leaving for acupuncture and dodging thunder showers as I go. The trucks aren't coming at any 9 a.m. this week: sidewalk is still blocked by three foot square, four foot high bins, all firmly closed. Except... the bag is gone from my bro's bin. And no, it hasn't fallen among the shredded paper bags. Who could have taken it? You can't flog Japanese books at our 2nd hand stores. Well, someone is in for some interesting BL reading, I guess, as well as the '3 Kingdoms Furries In Spaaaaace' of Ginga Sengoku Gun'yūden Rai aka THUNDER JET. Good luck to them.
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Wed May 22nd, 2019


08:20 pm - I used to be able to read German
You know who else (besides every classical Chinese poet in existence) writes rhymed verse that invariably gets translated as blank in English? Rilke, that's who. His stuff is just so resonant as free verse, with a few assonances and only one explicit rhyme:

Lord: it is time. The huge summer has gone by.
Now overlap the sundials with your shadows,
and on the meadows let the wind go free.

Command the fruits to swell on tree and vine;
grant them a few more warm transparent days,
urge them on to fulfillment then, and press
the final sweetness into the heavy wine.

Whoever has no house now, will never have one.
Whoever is alone will stay alone,
will sit, read, write long letters through the evening,
and wander along the boulevards, up and down,
restlessly, while the dry leaves are blowing

that it's a total surprise to read the original, strongly rhyming

Herr, es ist Zeit. Der Sommer war sehr groß.
Leg deinen Schatten auf die Sonnenuhren,
und auf den Fluren laß die Winde los.

Befiehl den letzten Früchten voll zu sein;
gib ihnen noch zwei südlichere Tage,
dränge sie zur Vollendung hin und jage
die letzte Süße in den schweren Wein.

Wer jetzt kein Haus hat, baut sich keines mehr.
Wer jetzt allein ist, wird es lange bleiben,
wird wachen, lesen, lange Briefe schreiben
und wird in den Alleen hin und her
unruhig wandern, wenn die Blätter treiben.

Does this sound like Housman or not? My German is next to nonexistent, so I can't say. But it seems people have tried to render him in rhyme (some examples are here, not to weary you with them) but hardly successfully to my mind. I mean, they may capture the German perfectly for all I know, but they don't work as poems for me.
MemeageCollapse )

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Mon May 20th, 2019


09:33 pm - Rambling
Back to November. Cherry blossoms look amazing against an iron grey sky. Mine all fell in last night's heavy rain, thicker than snowflakes, but two doors south's tree is still intact, even with leaves breaking through.

I remember very little of this weekend, probably because I did very little, aside from some ill-advised desultory reading of Game of Thrones online and Faulkner in paper. (Really, Johnson, give that book away. Southern gothic is not good for you.) At least I walked a bit today, and hung washes on the line, which dried faster in yesterday's warm-not-hot than they did in today's cool and windy. Also had first open windows of the year, in the study, but not the bedrooms because they still hold the cold from Thursday and Friday's single digit lows.

Oh, and I vacuumed. The new beast is better than the dirt devil if not quite as good as the Hoover. But it uses bags and I keep forgetting how to open it up to check bag fullness. Not that the bag will be full at this point: but the DD is a canister type and cleaning with it gives me the positive reinforcement of seeing just how much dust I've sucked up. I miss that.

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Sun May 19th, 2019


08:45 pm - Realization
There's a corollary to 'if solitary, be not idle', which is, 'if solitary, do not waste time talking to people who aren't there' ie the ones in your head. Recently I started noticing exactly how much I do this, and it's a lot. And now I remember why fandom came as such a relief to me in Japan. Instead of yelling at the folk who cause me pains, as D Parker put it, I was meditating on the motivations and emotions of various anime characters. I mean, they were quite as non-corporeal as those various roommates, classmates, coworkers, and Japanese businessmen who smoked under the No Smoking signs whom I was mentally ranting at, but at least I wasn't *angry* anymore. Being no longer fannish, I don't have that recourse now when I'm arguing with my mother (dead these forty years) about something she said in 1972, but I think I should try to find one.

(Didn't realize there were three verses to Parker's Frustration:

If I had a shiny gun,
I could have a world of fun
Speeding bullets through the brains
Of the folk who give me pains;

Or had I some poison gas,
I could make the moments pass
Bumping off a number of
People whom I do not love.

But I have no lethal weapon-
Thus does Fate our pleasure step on!
So they still are quick and well
Who should be, by rights, in hell. )
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Sat May 18th, 2019


09:44 pm - I should know better
My android tablet suggests news stories for me, too many of which are about Jordan Peterson or 'insiders at the Palace say the Queen says'. In the absence of congenial time wasting articles, I've taken to reading spoilers for Game of Thrones. Which I've never watched, not having a television or access to whoever is presenting GoT, and wouldn't watch, having heard what a nasty piece of work it is. But reading plot summaries is just as unpleasant as watching the real thing, so I now feel dirty and apocalyptic for no real gain. Current reading-reading is The Death of the Necromancer to have it (re)read, which isn't really a help in shaking the oogies.

TDotN is the book with vanishing text that M read years back. First time through she swears there was an angsty m-m subplot with the hero Nicholas and his self-destructive opium addicted friend, the sorceror Arisilde. Second time through it wasn't there at all. I'm reading to see what I can see.

The cherry tree still looks snow-laden against the grey skies, but the blossoms have half-fallen already and tomorrow's winds and heat will doubtless see the last of them gone. Two doors' down's burgeoning tree (which I should really suggest they trim, from bitter experience, before a branch comes down) is still in full bloom, and if we get a south wind next week may blow some elegantly confused snow into my garden as wll.

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Wed May 15th, 2019


09:58 pm - Season of the witch
Some advice to the depressed I came across on tumblr-I-think said 'you don't have to do everything. Just floss your teeth.' As I sink into my spring SAD, I've decided that whatever else I do or don't, I will at least floss my teeth. Supposing I can stay awake long enough because lord! but narcolepsy has me in its clutches these days.

Weather doesn't help. Monday I went out without gloves and regretted it bitterly (see what I did there?) Yesterday wore my winter coat and last night still had the heat on, as winds made bicycling a pain. Today was tshirt weather until the sun went in and a thunderstorm blew through. And now I want the heat on again though tomorrow will be back in the low 60sF.

Finished?
Tanith Lee, Companions on the Road
--plucked off the shelves, fairly certain I never read it, finished in an afternoon on Sunday. Everything is vaguely kimoi these days, and Lee is no exception, even though this has a happyish ending. Maybe it was the overlapping kimoi of As I Lay Dying, begun right afterwards, that coloured my experience.

Reading now?
Perennially, and getting nowhere:

Seraphina, which I must decide am I reading it or not because it's due back at the library on Saturday. Does it spark joy? No, but it's good enough. Which is good enough until it ceases to be, and then I want something else.

Edmund White, Inside a Pearl
-- subtitled 'my years in Paris.' I had no high hopes of this: expected it to be 'newly famous American author goes to Paris and is feted by the French literati: expect many famous names.' Well, not quite. White goes to Paris as a Vogue writer, having assured them he speaks French fluently, which he doesn't, at all. This would give me anxiety attacks; but White is one of those guys who thinks faking it is a lark. Except that he does then have anxiety attacks over his interviews, which, well, you knew that when you signed on, guy. Still, compared with the bumptiousness of men who go to Japan and fake things, White has a certain charm. For one thing, he works really hard at improving his French, by spending hours lying on a sofa and reading everything he can get.

His American fame doesn't open doors for him, or not for long. He notes that the literati will fete him *once*, and then move on to the next new thing once they've seen this new face that everyone must see. This doesn't bother him because he's busy with his sexual pursuits and affairs with foreigners. It's the foreign lovers who get him into film festivals and the art world, which run differently from the intellectuals, and thank god.

There's still a veil of- alright, here's that word again- kimoi that hangs over the text. Whether it's me in my current funk, whether it's the 80s AIDS crisis background to White's life, whether it's that partial memory I have of reading Caracole in Tokyo where, trust me, its bizarreness read doubly bizarre, I can't say, but I feel I have a 100 Demons' type fuzzy black Thing lowering over my shoulder as I read the list of Famous People White runs into in Paris: none of whom seem at all happy, let alone cheerful.

G.K. Chesterton, Thomas Aquinas
-- bought years ago from a guy selling his library outside the quondam Rochdale, once a counter-culture drug haven, now assisted housing. I figured I could read Chesterton without pain. Not sure I can now. To quote poliphilo over on LJ:
"Chesterton was a polemicist- which is a fancy name for pub bore- and is always banging on about his blasted opinions. He once accused H.G. Wells of having sold his birth right as a story teller for a pot of message- and if there was ever a case of the pot calling the kettle black..." And this isn't fiction, so Chesterton can rant away for pages. Can, hell: does.

Reading next?
Some ebooks may be coming from the library in time for the long weekend. Maybe I should do a reread of 100Demons or even Rainy Willow, just because.

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Mon May 13th, 2019


09:41 pm - Not the happiest of Mondays
I see from my FFL that a number of people are in actual pain from this cold and rainy May. The opposite of Finder Jean's reaction to summer: I love cold and grey but my body hates it. OTOH my body didn't hate it last autumn, or not to this extent, so what are we to make of that?

Current allergies not only reach the strangle-cough stage, they segue into semi-vertigo which I could oh so do without. Back to the neti pot we go.

And when I went to clip a few more plum blossoms, I managed to snip the skin at the base of my thumb on the forefinger side. Bled like a stuck pig, it did.
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Sun May 12th, 2019


09:40 pm - Anniversary
And here we are, the twelfth of May again. Thirty years ago on this date I landed in Japan for the first time. Splendid days, those two weeks of discovery. And two years later- which was still a lifetime then- I came to dirty muggy humid Tokyo for (certain values of) good. Ie I spent the first four months telling myself 'I'll go back home next week.' Well, it worked.

Today is as unlike those two days as it's possible to be, unless it was actually snowing. Bumped the heat up to 20C and kept falling asleep all day, while the wind rattled the panes and rain plopped onto the window AC and petals began to scatter in the garden. Eventually forced my aching self out to the store for soy milk, but mostly stayed in the side room where all the comfy flannel-covered pillows are, and did double crostics.

I've had a copy of As I Lay Dying in the living room for the last three years, having started it one February and then forgot it. Rousted it out and started again, got a third of the way through easily enough but had an uneasy 'this cannot end well' feeling, so went and googled it. How lucky I stopped where I did because oh the oogies that await. Shall dispose of it and its accompanying Sound and Fury in some wee free, and return guiltlessly to genre.

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Sat May 11th, 2019


10:04 pm - Five things make a post
1) Once a year, if you're lucky, you get an evening like last night's: November cool and grey with the smell of plum blossoms and cherries and daphne and hyacinths, and everything but lilac in fact. I should have cut some of the flowering plum yesterday because today it was ready to scatter when I did. It won't last long in my kitchen but for one morning at least I'll have that delicate perfume to come down to.

2) The heat is on, and on high, because though I was well enough last night with the thermostat at 16C, I was also triple bagged in cotton and flannel under flannel and wool covers, which makes turning over in bed something of a problem. And I must turn over or I wake up abominably stiff. Which I did today, and have been sore all day in consequence.

3) I cannot exactly Konmari my bookshelves but I can throw out the books that make my heart sink within me. These are largely bunko classic manga like Wind and Tree Song and Poe no Ichizoku which were a chore to wade through even when I was better sighted. There's much truth in melannen's comment that one needs to tidy one's dreams before you can tidy your stuff. At the age of thirty-seven she realized she'd never... no, ok, at 37 I had no limitations. But 30+ years later I must face that I will never be really literate in Japanese, will always be looking up kanji and vocab I've been looking up for decades, will rarely be able to skim a manga for pleasure. I suppose I can bear not to have read Hagio Moto's or Takemiya Keiko's oeuvre, there being little pleasure or profit in it, and I suppose I should be glad that I'm relieved of the duty to do so. At least I get shelf space for my 100 Demons now. I toyed with the idea of an Ima Ichiko test: 'do I look forward to reading this as much as I do to reading Hyakki Yakou?' But no one would ever pass it.

4) Seriously thinking of getting a junk busters company in to clean out the back two rooms of the basement and half the front as well. One fell swoop, and maybe they'd take the ancient fridge out as well.

5) Because work is being traumatic I went to Pauper's pub last night for their Murphy's stew. Made with stout and root veg, they say, but I call it a boeuf bourgignon near as dammit, and prize it. Next to me a guy was having something that looked like meatloaf. The server said it was ribs. So today I went back and had those. My mother made ribs very occasionally, with barbecue sauce, and I never cared for the ketchupy dryness of them, but 'falling off the bone' has an enticing sound to it. And well, yes, they *were* prisable off the bone, but in the end I still don't see what the fuss is about. Messy meal, and the taste is all in the sauce. Like chicken wings, another pub food I never understood. It must be the cold weather that gives me meat and potato longings just now. Hopefully I can get back to the veg and fish mode, because my scale is not happy about my western diet.

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Tue May 7th, 2019


09:33 pm - Cherry blossoms are out at the library
Yesterday was warm, very warm, but S still had the babies wear jackets to go outside. Wind and cloud make a difference. But the evening turned into that unheimlich May topos, close, humid, grey and threatening. Goes with the smell of lilacs and a sort of claustrophobia; I've felt similar once when a tornado passed by several miles away. Light-headed: slightly exhilarating in its unreal fashion but ultimately kimoi.

Chanced on a brief passage in Hyakkiyakki 25, the last grandfather story. Kagyuu's parents died when he was young, and his father's younger brother raised him and his sister. Uncle was also heir to the house and whatever kind of estate there was, passing over his older brother. At uncle's funeral, two business-type men are chatting. 'So the estate goes to the older brother's line after all. Why didn't he inherit in the first place?' 'He made an unfortunate marriage,' end koma. No details as to what was wrong with his choice of wife. But then there are all these youma in the story telling Kagyuu 'you're one of us' and Kagyuu wondering if he's really human. Yes, well. Could it be that his mother was a kitsune or something? Meaning that the oddness in the Iijimas isn't from the Iijima side at all. Of course there's also uncle being quite at home in limeral places, but that might be down to his current state (dead) rather then any inherent onmyouji-like abilities.

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Sun May 5th, 2019


10:27 pm
The windows are all closed but I can still smell the skunk outside.

My bro has discovered that keeping lights on will repel the raccoons, so they no longer poop on his balcony nor under the overhang of his kitchen window. I wish light would repel skunks as well, and that there was a way to light up the cherry tree.

It was a sunny! day today so I battled The Rut to the extent of attending the last day of Impressionism in the Age of Industry at the AGO. It mostly featured one of Monet's trains (of which it seems I already have a print, picked up off the boulevard) and some watery Pissaros. There was also a Mary Cassatt painting that I somehow missed, because the exhibit really did very little for me and my back was hurting. Also the minor annoyance of having to line up for a ticket because the exhibit was time entry, which I hadn't known, as is the Yayoi Kusama installation that I stumbled upon afterwards. Had I been genkier, or brought my walking stick, I might have gone back down to get the Kusama ticket, but at that point it just wasn't going to happen. In fact, what stood out for me most from the afternoon's visit was the Inuit sculpture I browsed while waiting for my entry time: Akpaliapik's Screaming Faces, Kakutuk's Wolf Spirit Eating Man, and Ruben's Sedna. Disquieting and unforgettable.

The sun brought the cherry and plum blossoms out in the neighbourhood, and I had the unusual-these-days pleasure of seeing them on foot this evening, because as if several hours tromping about the AGO weren't enough, I decided to walk over to Markham and Bloor for the diet Pepsi no one has. I keep saying I never walk anymore, and I do never walk anymore compared to my daily traipsing about pre-2015. I blame the demise of my regular coffee shop as much as the lower back pain, but as I walked the route today I registered that it is indeed farther to there than to my new local in the opposite direction. It just seems closer because there are no major streets to cross.
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Sat May 4th, 2019


08:19 pm - Spring lurches along
We're at the green mist stage of development, the haze that envelopes trees and bushes seen at a distance. Close up, there are actual leaflings on the lilac, and the cherry is at the knobbly bud point, like Hiroshige's plums just before the blooms come out. *My* plums are doing absolutely nothing, alas.

I'd forgotten how annoying Maya Mineo is. Plugging along through Rashan! ('you don't have to put on the red light') and wondering can I stand three volumes of uninspired dialogue and ancient gags. May keep on plugging and then throw all my copies of Patarillo into next week's recycle to relieve my feelings because for sure now I will never reread them.

Bought a new trimmer today, with bladed end that will cut through 1.5 inches (3.8 cm) of wood, which should take care of the hedge. Bro already took care of the pine bush trunks, sawed and neatly stacked on the lawn. If only I had a fireplace to burn them in...

Last autumn the leaves fell, yes, but it rained and rained and I had two cracked ribs so I never got them out of the gutters on my side of the street, which is where the parking is, so the street sweepers didn't get them either. Thus they remained a sodden rotting mess, or a frozen mess, through the winter, and are now a wet carpet that often gets sploshed up onto the sidewalk. So I took my ice chopper and shoved and lifted them closer to the centre of the street where cars are welcome to squash them back into paste. Just so long as rain can run down the gutters again and not pool as it has been doing this very wet spring.
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Fri May 3rd, 2019


10:19 pm - In between
Still cold enough, but I've turned the furnace down overnight because the days still warm up. Result is I'm cold here in my house dress and will sleep tonight in double or triple layers of clothes, under a flannel duvet cover and wool blanket, surrounded by beanbags ie the way I always used to sleep in winter with the thermostat at 20C.
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Thu May 2nd, 2019


10:48 pm - The slowly unfolding year
Still unseasonably cold, still winter jacket weather at 9C with no sun. A few diffident plum or cherry blossoms appear on streets that get whatever sun there is, but the horticultural landscape is behind the (new) seasonal. Temperatures might get into the teens this weekend, but if it rains, it still won't feel warm.

Yesterday I had an eye appointment and bicycled down in the rain and scarily gusty wind, which as ever came from whatever direction I was trying to go in and nearly knocked me sideways as I passed Robarts, not usually a wind tunnel area. Meanwhile hordes of high school students passed me on foot, bound possibly for the general strike/ demonstration at the Legislature a long block away. Our cocaine dealing Premier has been teacher-baiting. Gone alas are the days when the province's teachers could bring down a government. Now they're fair game.

Rehearsing for retirement, I stayed away from work on my two days off. This might have worked better if I hadn't ached abominably both days, with hip flexors and low back spasming into inexplicable rigidity, and if I hadn't been power-reading The Bone People. I was enchanted at first by a Booker Prize winner that was quirky and language-loving and utterly unlike the 'misunderstood white man by a lake' school of writing. (Though really that's an American trope, and the Booker IME just tends towards Misunderstood Men.) But read without the corrective presence of other human beings, it gave me the fantods, and now I have a bad taste in my mouth over it, which I'm trying to erase with the second last Hyakki Yakki. 25 had some interesting discoveries on reread, but 26 so far is both frustrating and obscure. So is Phantom Moon 5, but I might be better off with that new territory rather than the indifferent vol 26.

However, my s-i-l, genki as ever, heard me saying that I wanted to buy a power saw to cut up the ancient pine branches that have been sitting for at least a year on my porch, and cut down the rest of the scraggly pine bushes, and maybe lower the hedge as well; and so I came home today to a porch swept and bare of branches, which were sawed up and tied in bundles for the garbage. Two of the pines were gone, but she thought the corner one should stay. Best of all, the various trash that had accumulated on the table until I could think of a way of disposing of it (tiles, concrete pieces, wooden frames that didn't work for concrete repairs) was all bundled into garbage bags waiting for the next pickup. Oh happy day!

Of course I still want a power saw because even my genki s-i-l said she had to take two tylenols after all that sawing.

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Tue Apr 30th, 2019


02:39 pm - End of an Era
Being my age gives one a distorted frame of reference. The Shouwa emperor was born ten years before my mother, who herself was born before the first world war, and died when I was almost forty ie middle-aged. Queen Elizabeth was born ten years after my mother and is still alive and working as I approach seventy ie old age. And now the Heisei emperor is abdicating after a mere thirty years, which seems far too short. I went to Japan for the first time in his first year; Japan for me was always Heisei. Presidents and prime ministers are short-careered, usually thank god, but I always think royalty should be much longer-lived, since the only royalty I know always has been.

In personal news, I have bought a new vacuum cleaner. This wasn't top priority on my Must Have list, but was the least anxiety provoking ie if it proves a dud, I still have the Dirt Devils and the Behemoth. But I hope it's OK: I need something that will vacuum walls and curtains (and suck up spiders poised in ceiling corners), and clean carpets better than the DD. The Behemoth and its rotary beaters is good for that, but oh! does it weigh a ton and oh does it smell, since the filter probably needs replacing. Also the carpet attachment has rusted in place so it can only be used on carpets which rather limits its usefulness.

(The reason buying new anythings is anxiety provoking is my conviction that anything I choose will turn out to be the wrong thing, and it's pure luck if it doesn't. It's really time I got over that particular manifestation of my mother's ingrained negativity, but the best I can manage is to ignore it.)
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Mon Apr 29th, 2019


07:50 pm - That's a relief
There's not being a morning person, and then there's battling narcolepsy all afternoon, trying not to fall asleep on my feet. 'God, I am seriously past this,' I thought. Or coming down with the plague (this thought aided by spasming back most of the day), or suffering low blood sugar, or something. Something like taking two extra-strength Sinutabs in the mistaken belief they were extra-strength acetominophen, say? Yes, that does it.

My sister posts a GoT .gif on her FB:

-Winter is coming.
-Actually it never left.

Other people are unhappy, doubtless, but I love this grey cold wet early April/ late October weather. It's invigorating, which spring usually is not, and reminiscent of happier times.
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Sat Apr 27th, 2019


09:38 pm - Cold and bright and windy
To my accountant's for tax return and a nice refund. Saw several big dogs and their owners on the subway, saw many spring gardens with unopened tulips, blooming daffodils and fading hyacinths up in hilly neighbourhood where he lives. It's near Yonge and Eglinton where, it is believed, *everyone* wants to live, but in practical terms that means all you see out your windows are the high rise condos built and abuilding nearer the intersection. Not my notion of a desirable neighbourhood at all, esp. given the one, count it, one supermarket in the area- in the depths of the Y-E Centre itself- and the continuing chaos of Y&E itself as they continue to not build the Crosstown LRT aka 'behind schedule since 2016'.

Though one reason people might want to live there is that the local Aroma coffeeshop now has a liquor license. Thus I celebrated the end of tax season with Bailey's Irish Creme in my frappuccino. A change from last year, when I went to The Pickle Barrel, that ippanteki (undistinguished) family restaurant, and couldn't taste a thing because of my sinus blerg. Even so. The area may be fine for young working people in their 20s, as advertised, but young wp can't afford the condos that are there.

And because my hip hurt so much today, after I came home I googled walkers, and am depressed by same. Certainly won't order sight unseen, because very very few have high handles and all seem made for people with balance problems. I want something that doesn't put weight on my elbows, doesn't make me hunch, and lets me bend my arm closer to a 45 degree angle. Not sure such a thing exists.

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Thu Apr 25th, 2019


09:27 pm - Varia, and Thursday reading
I konmari'd my tops and t-shirt drawer the other day. Not sure if this will stick. It looks nice enough, but the refolding and rerolling when you pick a top that clashes with your trousers is a pain.

It's possible that tonight I won't have to turn the heat on, but I'll still have to bundle up well. As ever, temps are set to drop again the next five days, and some lucky folk will get snow.

Accomplished one item on my feet-dragging list. Took bike to store and asked about tune-ups. "Leave it today and you'll have it back in a week." Yes, well. Next step: check out new bikes, as I've intended to since last fall. Foot-dragging on this is a luxury. In the past I've always had to buy a new bike because the old one was stolen. Maybe being bikeless for a week will give the same impetus.
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