My mother died decades ago but my aunt lived a few weeks after her 89th birthday, hale and healthy, until felled by a sudden massive heart attack. So Happy Birthday anyway, Mom and Aunt Helen.
2. Someone on lj was talking about Banana Yoshimoto, whom I've never read, having bounced hard off Kitchen several decades ago. Friday night I stopped in at the Blue'n'white looking for her, and found her; found also, serendipitiously misshelved, the book that was the source of that ghost story film I like so much, The Discarnates. Japanese title is Summer with the Others, translated as The Strangers, written by Yamada Taichi. I was wrong about the book leaving out the romantic subplot; but the book does lack my favourite scene from the film. Is a grittier and more ambiguous work because of it.
On balance I still like the film better, just because you can *see* the shitamachi settings that you um have to have seen to be able to visualize in the book. If you follow.
3. It's almost a quarter to October and what have I done this month? Read Murakami Haruki and painted my stairs. I do both on weekends, but the stairs have outlasted Murakami.
I've been meaning to repaint the stairs for years. (Last done over New Year's 98-99, and so distinctly worn out, esp. since the renovations five years ago.) Suddenly on Labour Day I got the urge to prime, and did, with the primer bought ohh several years ago at least. It was a smelly sticky business that required painting half step by half step so I had a way of getting upstairs. House stank for days.
Next weekend went into Weiner's Home Hardware to get gloss white enamel, and saw a sign advising patrons that alkyd enamel would be discontinued in future. Weiner's staff function as advisors to the bricolage-impaired, so I asked the ojisan on duty what was up. 'The fumes,' he said. 'The writing's been on the wall for the last decade and everyone's been developing better latex enamels.' 'As good as alkyd?' I ask. 'Every bit as good. And washable.'
Which meant priming all over again, this time with a latex that did indeed dry in a few hours. Was what I did Sunday, and a second coat on Tuesday. *This* weekend I put the first coat of white enamel on every other stair. Every other because I've always had piano key stairs, sort of-- black white black white, and oh was that a pain with alkyd enamel. I was briefly tempted to go all-white, but, but, piano keys are useful for the half-sighted going down in half-darkness of early morning. So next weekend I shall retape the stairs and do the black.
But I hafta say, a latex high-gloss is *not* as glossy as an alkyd high-gloss. At all at all.
4. Working through the Front Lawn Library pick-ups this week I read The Mao Case by Qiu Xiaolong. If I must get my Chinese atmosphere through mysteries and novels, best they be Chinese-authored mysteries and novels. Besides, it has lots of poems in it, which is entertaining. Besides it doesn't have bizarre mass murders and top-level conspiracies in it, which the last two western-authored mysteries set in China did. I mean, special squads sent by Madame Mao to break an old rival might count as high level conspiracy, except that everyone knows Madame Mao did that, and the point of a conspiracy theory is that people don't know-- 'the truth is being hidden!' Again, going by this book, in China the truth does get hidden, but everyone knows that too, so it still doesn't work as the western trope does.
This was why I had to drop Irene Adler and Jack the Ripper after barely a page. Conspiracy theory involving religious symbolism and possibly religion, a la Dan Brown. And I'm all No, really no. My fault for reading a book about an actual serial murderer, I suppose; but really. I'm not sure what the appeal of the Ted Bundy protagonist is, and why people want to believe the government is naturally prepared to shield Ted Bundy.
5. The natural result of being unable to decide between courses in Mandarin and courses in French from the Toronto school board is to find all courses full when you come to register the weekend before classes start. Sighs. As ever.
6. It rained yesterday and I came home dripping. There have been rainy Septembers in plenty in my life, but suddenly I was taken back to grade school, coming home and changing into dry clothes and reading inside the house while the rain turned the streets and sidewalks shiny and low-lying clouds scudded by on the wet wind and stray leaves fell onto the backyard lawn. A cozy feeling, so vivid that I couldn't remember what 'modern' September rains have been like in the years since the 50s and 60s.