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Just got back from book group. Sarah hosted at Kathleen's house, because Sarah's roommate's mother was visiting so she didn't have room, so we all brought food and drink to share, and petted dogs and gossiped and watched the lunar eclipse until the clouds covered it, and talked about the book, which was The Circle by Dave Eggers.

I am entirely in charity with my book group right now, which makes me feel quite brave about venturing among new crowds of people. We talked about taking the book group to Ellen in California in February, or maybe March. If we went to Ellen's the first weekend of March, maybe I could go to Fogcon the second weekend.

Brave is not how I usually feel, though, so... so even if I could make this happen I'd probably regret it.
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My tiny dog has rediscovered that tomatoes on the vine are food. He figured this out once before, a couple of years ago, but I kept him away from the tomato plants for a while and he seemed to forget. This year I noticed a hole in a ripe tomato as if a bird had pecked it for a drink; later I found Newt eating that tomato, still on the vine, and now he'll go get himself one anytime I'm not looking. The big dog will finish a tomato that Newt has started, but won't pick them himself. I don't know whether he doesn't recognize them as food while they are on the vine, or he doesn't recognize them as food unless someone else is actually eating them. I suppose I have enough ripening tomatoes that I could experiment...

Thanks to [personal profile] jesse_the_k and [personal profile] liv for the prompt:
When you see this post, feel encouraged to post something in your journal. Short or long, trivial or profound, it doesn't matter, just something. And if you like, you can pass on the token by copying this notice at the bottom of your post.

tiny dog is keeping an eye on you

the cut

Sep. 17th, 2014 02:35 am
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Just sent mail to my daughter:
Cut almost 100 words. Mostly adverbs. Sorry, adverbs.

Young women use a lot of adverbs.

Context is that Nixie is applying for a grant for next year. Her project proposal and personal statement must be no more than 500 words each. They are 700-800 words each. She is too stressed by writing them to be able to see where to cut.

I used to have an image from the endnotes of a scanlation of the first volume of Kaoru Mori's Emma: Kaoru Mori's editor keeps pointing out things that could be cut, and she keeps exclaiming, "But that's the most important part!" I loved that! In the translation that got published in English, she says instead, "But that's very important!" Maybe that is a more accurate translation but it isn't as good.
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I went out to dinner tonight, which I don't usually do on Fridays because it is busy, and it was busy, so I sat at the bar. I usually read at dinner, but the bar was not well lit. There was no one to my left, fortunately (that's my deaf ear). To my right was a child and her mother. When my food came the woman asked what I had ordered, since it smelled so good. We talked about food, theirs and mine. She said she was just telling her daughter how important presentation was; the daughter had turned in a report that was just a mess! I asked the child what grade she was in and agreed that in fourth grade, teachers' expectations really level up.

The child asked the waiter whether he liked crystals, and showed him a crystal she found on the playground. I asked if I could see it too. From that point on the three of us were chatting. I had told the waiter that my son had left for college, since that is what I say these days when people ask how I am, so the woman asked where, and we talked about where we had lived and what we liked about their climates. We talked about math, and educational philosophy, and what we were reading. And when I left, the woman asked me my name, gave me hers, and her phone number, and urged me to call if I was bored or wanted to get a coffee. She said she was really interested in talking to me again.

I can do being charming for a short time -- obviously, since I just did it -- but it is exhausting. I enjoy this kind of conversation while I'm having it, but afterwards, I never want to talk to anyone again. And I certainly can't call her: I feel like such a faker. Not that I said anything that isn't true, but-- that was as much as I usually talk in a week. I am too embarrassed to tell you how high my blood pressure was.

Do you ever feel like this? How do you cope?
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There's an osprey at the raptor center. It is eating, which is a very good sign, since most injured ospreys just don't. They have to be tease-fed or force-fed. It came in with a spinal injury, so its prospects for release are not great.

Do you say ospree or ospray? I have always heard ospree, but everyone at the raptor center says ospray. I wonder whether they are influenced by the 'prey' in Birds of Prey.

As I was cleaning a Great Horned Owl (GHOW) cage, I kept referring to the bird as "she" even though I don't know her sex. I couldn't figure it out from her case file, either. I did figure out that the gender neutral pronoun people use for birds is "bird". They'll often leave out the pronoun and write sentences like, "Bird was on A-frame when I entered the cage. Watched calmly while I cleaned," but when they need a pronoun they usually don't use "it" or "he" or "she", they write, "When I moved too close, bird flew to SE corner, missed the perch, stayed on the ground the rest of the time I was in the cage."


Sep. 3rd, 2014 09:19 pm
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I got a postcard from [personal profile] seascribe today! It is from Montreal, a view of the Old Port and downtown, from her recent trip to Canada. I think the fall colors in the background must be the Mont Royal Park, but I am not familiar enough with Montreal to identify images. Mungo says his dorm backs up to Mont Royal. The house feels empty, emptier and stranger than I had thought. I don't know how to shop! I buy delicious foods and three days later they are still here! Mungo and I were in Montreal for only a short time last fall, and ate many delicious foods but not poutine. According to Ray Kowalski, in this epistolary fic which is also from [personal profile] scribe and [personal profile] seascribe's trip to Canada, that was a mistake.

I am still attempting to post every day in September, even though my first day spilled over into the second. I thought I had lots of ideas but I keep blanking. Got any suggestions?
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Also had really annoying phone conversation with my doctor who decided to take that opportunity to reopen the question of why I was not taking statins. "Why is it," I asked her in return, "that in all the times you've told me I should be taking statins, you've never mentioned any possible side-effects? You've never talked about the pros and cons, only the pros."

"Oh," she said, "well the only likely side-effects are some people get aches, and sometimes they just can't tolerate them." And then she went into her rant about American diet and American cholesterol levels and she used to see two heart attacks a year but now she sees two a week and so on. And I just sat there and listened to it. I got distracted by the rant, and forgot about my question, which she didn't even pretend to answer, which was not "what are the side-effects of statins?"

My question was, why didn't her recommendation to take statins come with information about the pros and cons in the first place? Does she really think it's okay to only give me the information that supports her decision?


Nov. 5th, 2013 08:57 pm
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So, a thing I said in comments was that I prefer naked contempt to thinly-veiled contempt because it's easier for me to deal with. The veil works on me like a matador's cape, confusing and distracting; I can't really come to grips with the fact that someone keeps disrespecting my decision and my right to make a decision because it's so, it's so... so distracting! the way they say "Respectfully," every time it happens!

What about you?
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I got a flu shot and an appointment for a vaginal ultrasound to look for fibroids yay. Last time I took my blood pressure at the grocery store it was 112/82. When the nurse took it it was a bit high, which it always is -- but what do you expect when you measure my blood pressure right after you have me step on the scale? Then, when the doctor took it it was 150-something over 90-something, which is actually not bad for immediately after talking to this doctor. My last two visits with her, it was 170-something over 100-something when she took it.

I have talked to her about the specific things she does that ring my alarm bells but it doesn't seem to make any difference. She questioned me, as usual, about my employment status and my employment prospects and my employment history. I gave the same answers I always give. She repeated my answers back to me with a questioning inflection. I would be able to believe that her intentions were friendly if she didn't repeat what I said back to me with a questioning inflection! And if she didn't ask me the same questions every time even though my answers haven't changed in years.

At least this time she did not ask, "Don't you ever get tired of not working?"


Nov. 2nd, 2013 07:37 pm
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Walking along Boulevard René-Lévesque from the train station to our hotel, I lagged behind Mungo. (short legs, old feet.) So I had a clear view of the guy in business casual, carrying a laptop, standing on the corner. Mungo stopped, put his foot up on a low wall, and bent over to retie his shoelace. Laptop Guy approached Mungo, looking him over. Then he noticed me giving him the Maternal Eyebrow of How Dare You. He sprang back just as Mungo stood up. Mungo noticed the guy jump back, and thought he might have been trying to pick his pocket. I suppose business casual would be good camouflage for picking pockets. Or maybe Laptop Guy was a reporter, waiting to meet some teenage street artist for an interview? But my first impression was cruising.

Laptop Guy, it's half your age plus seven, or you're a creep. And I don't mean the age you fondly imagine when you gaze into the mirror.
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Mostly, things reminding you of other things makes the world more interesting. It is one of the good things about getting older. But I can't really listen to Andrew Bird's new single, I Want to See Pulaski at Night, because the name overwhelms me with the need to listen to this again instead. Richard and Linda Thompson, so good.


Oct. 30th, 2013 11:32 pm
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I got flowers, chocolate, a balloon, a phone call from my daughter who is trying to get her visa in order for a trip to Russia, a very nice dinner out with my husband and son.

I wish I could also have some pause in the old meno. (I have decided not to cut-tag for gross. I have heard the argument that I should treat disgust at menses as kindly as I would arachnophobia, and I am sorry, but for my own well-being I need to reject every way I was taught to feel shame at having a female body. No hard feelings toward anyone who decides to stop reading what I write, for any reason.) I don't even understand how this is happening. I'd have thought the uterine lining needed some time to build up before it began shedding again, but I've been bleeding from August 6 to August 29, then September 5 to September 22, then October 6 to 15, and October 20 to who knows. And most of those days have involved chunks and containment vessel failures.

I've been doing this for forty years already. I am so done.


Oct. 29th, 2013 11:59 pm
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So Mungo and I did go to Canada and also returned thence. We are both confident that Mungo could be happy and get a good education at either U of T or McGill. I liked Toronto much more than Montreal, but that may not be much of a compliment to Toronto: I'm not a city girl.

In Toronto, I got to spend time with [personal profile] bcholmes, [personal profile] the_siobhan, [ profile] urban_homestead, and [personal profile] em_h. [ profile] urban_homestead took me to the Royal Ontario Museum, which is a really good museum. I felt envy when the tour guide at U of T mentioned that U of T students can visit the ROM free on Tuesdays, but then I remembered that they're college students, they're never going to have the time to go.

B.C. said that, among Canadians, Torontonians are reputed to be cold and standoffish. They seemed polite and kind to me. When Mungo and I were on the bus-to-subway step of our journey from the airport to the hotel, I was saying to Mungo, well, here's the subway, but how do you make sure you get on the right train, one that's going in the right direction? An airport worker who had ridden the bus with us said, "There's only one direction from here." Which was a relief.

It is difficult to decide when to talk to strangers. On that subway ride a school group of nine or ten year olds got on. One of the girls grabbed the pole next to me. One of the boys started playing with her hand: he moved her thumb so that it was pointing upwards, instead of wrapped around the pole, and then pulled her hand off the pole. She shook his hand off and grabbed the pole again. He moved her thumb so that it was pointing upwards. She shook his hand off with a sound of annoyance. He started moving her thumb again. "Hey," I said kindly but firmly, "she doesn't want you to."

Generally, I'd agree that an adult who has no relationship to a particular child should probably leave them alone. I don't know that I was right to butt in in this case. But, I thought, if I were that boy's mother and the adult in charge didn't see what was going on, I would want me to say hey, I understand that exploring your power is an essential part of growing up, but that person is just as much a person as you are, so her desires are objectively just as important as yours are, and in this case her desires trump yours because that is her hand.

I guess that is why I am not a city girl: when you don't live in a city, you don't have dozens of interactions every single day with people who have no relationship with you, so you don't have to think about this sort of thing so much. It is tiring.
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Macyn Taylor playing Michael Hedges' Ragamuffin:

That piece is so difficult and she is so young and she is playing it so well.

Here's Michael Hedges playing it at the height of his power:

Here's Macyn again, a few years older and more of a performer, playing and singing Sweet Home Chicago:

dsss letter

Oct. 6th, 2013 10:05 pm
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I don't know whether I'll have anything to add to my dsss request, except to say that I will appreciate whatever you make for me, even if it doesn't include any of these optional details.

request details behind the cut )
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Aiko has arthritis. Only in one elbow, but that elbow is so crudded up I am surprised that he has only just started limping. Also his allergies, which improved a bit with the grain-free food, have flared up again. Are allergies and arthritis related? They're both described as inflammatory, but is that just a metaphor or are similar things going on at a cellular level?

• What are you reading?

The Child's Child, by Barbara Vine. Getting into the head of someone whose actions seemed insane, seeing how it all made sense from their point of view, is something Ruth Rendell has always been good at. But in this book it feels like she literally isn't even trying. Here's the protagonist (who is getting a Ph.D. in English literature) describing the conscience-violating and out-of-character action whose consequences drive the rest of her story:
What it came down to was, I shouldn't have done it. I could have said no to him and sat up and hugged him again. Now I have forgotten why I did do it, but not forgotten that I did.
That's it. That's all she can tell us about her thinking.

• What did you recently finish reading?

Still Alice, by Lisa Genova, for library book group. This isn't really a novel; it's more a What To Expect From Early-Onset Alzheimer's article dressed up to look like a story. Wholesome but dreary. Do people really find information more interesting when it is presented by two characters as-you-know-bobbing at each other?

• What do you think you’ll read next?

White Horse, by Alex Adams. Jacqie says she likes to pick something a little creepy for October.
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(Note: this is not addressed to anyone who has already decided not to offer blanket permission. Your decision is yours. If your reasons satisfy you, that is good enough for me.)

I'm signing up for a fic fest, for which I am offering to podfic. I'd like to check the "any" boxes, because I am willing to read anything. (I have read Berenstain Bears books to make people happy. I am willing to read badfic if it will make you happy.) But, however willing I might be, the only way I can be sure not to default is to only check the boxes for which there is at least one >1000-word fic available.

It is time-consuming but not difficult to check AO3 for fic's existence, but I don't know whether the fic is available for podfic unless I write to the author or the author has a blanket permission statement. And I'm not going to bother people to tell me whether their fic would be available if I got a request it could fulfill!


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