freckles_and_doubt: (Default)
Pandora is clearly all threatened by the kitten and is in need of cuddles and reassurance, she is currently sleeping on my desk in front of me, cuddled up to my front, her head on my wrist. She's purring happily while I apply skritches and validation. Jyn is fossicking around the house, excavating the living room rug, chasing cat toys in brief, attention-deficit snatches and generally spreading small-scale kitten mayhem. Every time she meeps, chirrups or trills, Pandora's tail lashes, three times exactly, then stops. It's like a push-button response. It's very funny.

They are, however, generally getting on OK, despite the fact that they appear mutually determined to only eat each other's food; there only occasional growling, as Pandy ruthlessly suppresses kitten rudeness. I have to admit that it can't be pleasant to have one's lashing tail perpetually jumped on, because apparently Jyn has a death-wish. Memo to self, geeky naming conventions have narrative implications, oops.

This was quite a nice momentary still life:

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... which is going to go very bad in about three seconds.

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Yup.

I am very happy to be on leave for a week. I am even happier because yesterday Cape Town broke out into an actual, verifiable thunderstorm, almost highveld quality: it pissed down with rain, and there was a continuous thunder and lightning session for the better part of half an hour. I spent about ten minutes standing on the portico at our building entrance just drinking in the noise and light, becoming marginally damp but with an enormous enough grin on my face that various students were clearly laughing at me. Which is fine. Purveyor of innocent enjoyment to the post-adolescent masses, that's me. I love thunderstorms quite in defiance of any semblance of suavity. It's still pleasantly cooler today, and my plants are all happily damp. A good start to my break.

My subject line is, of course, Alice Through the Looking-glass. Although I very much fear that the reverse is true.
freckles_and_doubt: (South Park Self)
Oh, dear. In pursuit of watering the burgeoning and increasingly verdant collection of pots in my back courtyard, I seem to have accidentally watered the Hobbit. He is slinking about the house at half his usual volume and twice his usual density, looking matted and hedgehog-spiky and somewhat cowed. I would be feeling more guilty except he's amusing like this :>.

In the Department of Random Ongoing Fangirling: so it turns out that if you slow the Sherlock theme down it sounds like something from a Tim Burton soundtrack.



I am obscurely charmed by this. Particularly since it beautifully accompanies fanart such as, for example, that by La-Chapeliere-Folle on deviantart, which won't let me link to the image, phooey. The Sherlock/Burton crossover appears to be inevitable. I blame Sherlock's silhouette.

Random fanfic rec! surprisingly, not Sherlock. This is an exceptionally beautifully-written slow-burn Harry/Draco fic which does my favourite thing in Potterfic, which is to explore the manifest iniquities and logical flaws inherent in Rowling's Slytherin/Gryffindor stereotyping. She really doesn't do nuance or sophistication or real human impulse in her moralities. Fortunately many fanfic writers absolutely do. This one is set mostly in pub arguments and is amusing as well as true.

The subject line is because it's a beautiful sunny day and my car sound system is onto The Life Pursuit, the Belle & Sebastian album voted most likely to make me randomly happy. It's all catchy, boppy, whimsical tunes, and I am a slut for catchy.
freckles_and_doubt: (South Park Self)
I am Randomly Amused this morning.

  1. My lovely new car is a lovesome thing, god wot, but it has a rather cheap and nasty sound system. As a result, I can't persuade it to play music off my MP3 player in any format other than through individual tracks in one ginormous string. This means that when it randomly resets, as it does occasionally if I don't switch the car off in exactly the right order, it starts at the top and works down, playing my musical collection in strict alphabetical order by (a) artist and (b) album title. The last time it did this I thought, right, clearly the Cosmic Wossnames are trying to tell me something, let's just let it. In the last week it has thus played through Arcade Fire and Bed on Bricks in short order and is currently in the middle of the more than elegant sufficiency of Belle & Sebastian which characterises my music collection. I am thoroughly enjoying the resulting slight whiplash, as well as the chance to rediscover odd corners of my musical taste I'd forgotten about.

    The Rules dictate that I don't skip tracks or otherwise disturb the order, other than the obligatory repeat of "Crown of Love" and "Wake Up", because I'm physically incapable of listening to either track just once. (Other than that I have decided, on mature reflection, that "The Suburbs" is probably my favourite Arcade Fire album, possibly because "Wasted Hours".) I'd forgotten how much fun Bed on Bricks are - they're a local outfit of some maturity and skill, not to mention considerable iconoclastic whimsy ("large Nigerian..."), whose overall style is eclectic but sounds at times like Chilli Peppers circa "Californication". And, for no adequately defined reason I haven't actually listened to any Belle & Sebastian for months. They tend to land me on campus in the morning obscurely soothed regardless of how many actual BMWs have cut me off in traffic. Possibly it's the Scottish accents.

  2. I think I posted the gifset of the cute wol bathing in a previous post, probably accompanied by the horrible moist owlet pun with which it was doing the rounds. Someone in my Tumblr feed unearthed the YouTube video which spawned it, which features not only the full bath experience (bathing birds are ridiculously cute, I love the air of ferocious concentration), but the bit where someone dries the bedraggled wol with a hair dryer. This makes me obscurely happy because I have rather lovely memories of my dad doing the same to his peregrines, when they'd been sitting on their block in the garden during a highveld thunderstorm. They do the same thing the wol does, spreading their wings to dry under them. I do like birds.



  3. Obligatory BC content: the Sherlock fandom is currently all up in arms because Benedict Cumberbatch, in an interview, was somewhat patronisingly dismissive of fanfic. (Not that this is anything new, he's characteristically a bit tone-deaf to fanfic issues and tends to make pronouncements which are clearly based on extremely sketchy knowledge; I suppose the fandom will eventually stop having small volcanic eruptions about it on the grounds that exhausting). What's tickling me no end, though, is the beautifully in-character fan responses: the current meme is to pick up on the rather outrageous interviewer phrasing of fanfiction as something which turns Sherlock into "a lustful cock monster". Current games: strategically place "lustful cock monster" into Sherlock dialogue on the "in bed" principle. (On John's forehead in the drunken Rizla game scene. Replacing SHERLOCK in the opening credits. "William Sherlock Lustful Cock Monster Holmes. If you’re looking for baby names.") Design new and ever more pink and sparkly t-shirts, icons and banners declaring "LUSTFUL COCK MONSTER" in defiant capitals and sprinkle them across the internet. Summarise the fic elements he mentions in the article and write actual fanfic to match, claiming that you're allowed because Benedict did. Etc, etc, etc.

    I love this. Apart from the fact that it's given me the giggles all morning (particularly since I teach a Sherlock seminar on Wednesday afternoons and have spent most of the morning making screencaps and constructing a Powerpoint on "His Last Vow" in between internet noodling), this is the essence of fan production. Take an element in the canon text which is clearly not addressed to you (and this is almost always a female "you") and which is ignorant of your actual desires and interests. Appropriate the hell out of it. Comprehensively reject the version of you it enshrines. Recontextualise, reshape and reimagine it in ways which do authentically reflect you, and which incidentally comment somewhat trenchantly on the limitations of the original text. Share and enjoy.

    I keep saying it: fanfic is a political act. The fact that it's enjoyable is almost incidental.
freckles_and_doubt: (South Park Self)
Home update: still happy, drifting vaguely around the house chatting to the cat and luxuriating in my very own space. It's slowly filling up with furniture to a rather pleasing extent. The nature of my impecunious grad-student existence for the first six or seven years of my residence Chez Evil Landlord meant that almost all of the large furniture purchases were his. Fortunately I have lovely friends with extraneous furniture, an amazing mother, and had managed to save a bit. I still only have one sofa in the living room, rendering it a little difficult to entertain anything other than one other person sitting side by side and staring straight ahead, but my nice new armchairs arrive tomorrow. I also scored a Welsh dresser, at least in principle and potentia, courtesy of said amazing mother, who stood me the price of it as a birthday present. I have acquired a rather friendly little specimen of same, filling the slightly limited space very neatly and just containing my cookbook collection. Viz.:

Photo0102 Photo0107

Also visible in the right-hand picture: dining room table, courtesy Claire; chairs courtesy jo&stv and reupholstered by mother; living room carpet courtesy Viola. (Tapestry also done by mother lo these many years ago, a favourite thing of mine). Visible in distance: front door, designated as "friendly" by someone visiting, I forget who. I concur. Still to arrive: armchairs, see above; tv stand, jo is making me one; bookcase for study (because several acres of bookcase are clearly insufficient); side tables for living room (we're going flea marketing this weekend). Bedroom curtain in process of construction. Comfort levels definitely in excess of acceptable.

I include for posterity and because of the Law of the Internet, a random Hobbit picture in a fetching pose. I like the crossed feet. Earthbound entrechat. Appropriately enough.

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Life generally good, except that I'm being driven slowly demented by the latest post-viral afflication, which appears to be hallucinatory cigarette smoke. I can smell smoke. Almost continually. Regardless of where I am, but including closed rooms with no actual smoke in them, and spaces in which no other person can smell a thing. Apparently it's a fairly recognised post-viral symptom and is also associated with damaged sinuses, both of which apply rather too aptly, but it's surprisingly annoying.

I should also report that my copy of Parade's End arrived, and I'm several chapters in and to my barely-concealed horror am enjoying it really rather a lot, Modernism notwithstanding. I am confident that the aliens who have abducted me and replaced me with a slightly malfunctioning replica will restore the original any day now. I hope she likes her furniture. The cat won't notice.

(Subject line is Velvet Underground, "All Tomorrow's Parties", doubly relevant because now that I nearly have furniture I absolutely have to organise an actual housewarming.)
freckles_and_doubt: (South Park Self)
Things in life I will never understand: the graceful, erratic, inscrutable sine waves which map the patterns of (a) comments on my blog posts, and (b) student utilisation of my curriculum advisor skills. Honestly. I have abandoned commenting patterns as a lost cause and a mystery for the ages, but student advice still actively baffles me. It's been deader than the dodo for several weeks, possibly because I've been deader than the dodo for several weeks and only slightly on campus, which means they've all got out of the habit of being able to find me. But today I have seen a continuous, uninterrupted, unrelenting string of students since five minutes before my official advice times started, which makes for about an hour and a half of plaintive student meeping, like hungry baby birds. (I do have a proto-theory which says that weekends and public holidays are inciters of advice-need, because they all sit at home and brood on their curriculum woes. But other than that I can't account for it and am forced to file it under "Unsolved Mysteries", together with this morning's traffic patterns, which were sparse enough to make me actually wonder if I'd taken my public holiday adjacently rather than on target.)

The thing is, emerging from this couple of hours of advice-giving: when not actively sabotaged by illness, depression or institutional fuckwittery, hells but I'm good at this. I have been watching myself witter on for this session, being somewhat amazed at the way my mouth produces, apparently independent of cognitive agency, relevant words which delineate a nice and accurate balance between empathy and technical knowledge. Every single student I have seen this morning has been in some distress, entangled in a career or curriculum snarl-up of slightly above average complexity and rendered skittish by the looming approach of the end of semester. I have sent them forth into the world, if not entirely solved, at least with a clearer sense of their options and their implications. Every single one of them has been soothed enough to chat a bit about the personal issues and feelings behind the technical question; to trust me with their vulnerabilities, their sense of failure, their fears, their horrible first-year homesickness. Every one of them has left looking visibly lighter. Honestly, when it comes to job satisfaction, I could create another grateful sine wave by keeping a running total of variations on "I feel so much better" from students departing my office.

I can't say this job is always like this, but when it is, it's lovely. I make a difference. Validation is immediate and concrete. And it's been something of a revelation, this morning, to realise that probably my sense of accomplishment, of fitness for my purpose, is the simple result of being, in slightly more existential terms, happy. I'm weirdly happy at the moment. I'm loving living on my own: my own space, my complete freedom to drift around shaping my environment to my needs, is something I've clearly needed for years without really being aware of it. I have lovely friends who both understand my base state of "hermitage" and who hoik me out of it at well-judged intervals for, e.g., lovely spontaneous suppers at excellent restaurants. (Frère's, whose high-class French nosh is ridiculously delectable and unreservedly recommended). The thrice-damned bronchitis has finally departed, and the post-nasal drip which is its icky footprint is perfectly endurable. And, calloo callay and the Dance of Joy, my thrice-damned brain chemistry has obviously tilted its little pointer away from "World, loathing of and self in particular" to "World: nice place, and you're probably OK." Supposing I haven't utterly jinxed it by mentioning it in print, long may it endure.

(My subject line references, of course, Angel, more or less randomly because of Numfar and the Dance of Joy.)
freckles_and_doubt: (South Park Self)
There's something particularly pleasing about an entirely self-indulgent holiday you really can't afford and are damned well taking anyway. Bartholomeu's Klip is a luxury farmhouse guest lodge thingy, where they charge you rather a lot for incredible amounts of superlative food, accommodation, game drives, and generally beautiful surroundings in which to lounge around doing nothing much (or, in my case, reading the new Phryne Fisher, which incidentally has tickled me pink by virtue of being unabashed BBC Sherlock fanfic) while minions bring you tea or gin at your command. We had two nights there, which is really all the average constitution can handle given their daily plan of pre-game-drive tea and muffins, giant brunch, high tea, drinks with snacks, and a four-course meal in the evening. It's also all I can handle financially, even at winter half-price specials, given a recent move and house-refurnish. But it's utterly, utterly worth it. We had enough of us to book out the whole house, which meant we didn't have to freak anyone else out by having drunken argumentative conversations and playing Gloom and Fluxx all over the show, or when reading the new Phryne Fisher caused me to lie on a garden chair and giggle like a maniac for the better part of a morning.

It's near Wellington, and the private game reserve is reclaimed renosterveld; I loved it on our last visit, when it was much more desert-like, but also loved it this time under rain and greenness. It's a very beautiful landscape.

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The game viewing was really good - millyuns of buck, gnu, amazing bird life, and for some reason an unlikely and pleasing number of bat-eared foxes, which were running around in small packs all over the adjacent farmland as well as in the game reserve itself. I don't think I've ever actually seen one in the wild before, despite living in southern Africa my entire life. The small hordes of them made me very happy. We also scored a reasonably close, extremely grumpy and entirely fortuitous porcupine, which was also truly happy-making. I love porcupines, the way they trundle along. This is a truly terrible photo, because it transpires I shouldn't use the zoom function on my cellphone camera, but it gives you a good sense of the bat-eared fox's really nice line in pausing to look suspiciously back over its shoulder while displaying its ears.

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This place has beautiful mountains and magical light. Also, in addition to the bottles of wine they give you Jedi cloaks on the game drives, which is fortunate, because they're bloody cold.

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My subject line is from the Bee Gees, although it's a very weird, atonal and wistful little song that really has nothing to do with the lovely holiday. I have also successfully ear-wormed myself utterly with the Bee Gees, and have been singing them madly around the house all morning. I suppose there are worse fates.
freckles_and_doubt: (South Park Self)
I have a very cheap and nasty MP3 player, which means that my car stereo system is incapable of recognising a folder level and thus of doing any more than playing through the entire list of songs either (a) from the beginning, alphabetically by artist, with only about a 30% chance of actually displaying the artist's name rather than a tasteful and euphemistic row of stars, or (b) randomly. I have taken to hitting the random button until I arrive at something that appeals to me, at which point I scroll back and play the whole album, often repeatedly. I am thus re-acquainting myself with odd corners of my music collection without particular plan, which is why I've oscillated madly between the Velvet Underground and David Byrne/Brian Eno, and which is why I am currently immersed in the Manic Street Preachers.

Preachers do damn fine covers. Possibly my favourite song of theirs is their cover of "Suicide is Painless", the theme from MASH, but they also have a B-sides/oddities album which has an entire disk of covers, including particularly fun versions of "Raindrops Keep Falling", "Take the Skinheads Bowling", and a deadpan "Can't Take My Eyes Off You" which always gives me the giggles. They do covers with enormous enjoyment and verve, it's extremely infectious. What has colonised my brain at the moment, however, is their version of the Rolling Stones's "Out of Time", which is a joyous little piece and more catchy than it has any right to be even before Preachers get hold of it. (I attribute entirely to my current Sherlock fixation my enjoyment of its bouncy violin bits). I present this to you in the spirit of share and enjoy, and because I've been compelled to play it six times in a row since yesterday and someone else may as well have the ear-worm. But at the very least it'll brighten your day.

freckles_and_doubt: (South Park Self)
I am back at work this week, alas. I am rather well rested after two and a half weeks off (and having passed my driver's licence and bought a car and almost finished a paper), and am inclined to be relatively upbeat about returning to the grindstone, but just to reinforce this, have the most ridiculous dose of pure, pointless, ridiculous happy you'll see in years. Warnings for possibly excessive Japanese cutesy twee, but still, cute. Watch out for the mad individualists in the three-cat rows. And the ear-worm.




Subject line from T.S. Eliot's "Jellicle Cats". Reading his Old Possum poetry makes me paradoxically sad that (a) I never saw the musical, and (b) that it exists at all, because Andrew Lloyd Webber.
freckles_and_doubt: (South Park Self)
I went to an SCA event on Saturday for the first time in... ooh, count them, nearly five years. (The break-up post was here). Saturday's event was not actually me Getting Back Together With The SCA, it was a once-off, prompted by the serious award-collecting of three dear friends. Since some of you who read this are SCAdians, I shall take a paragraph to dance happily around, gloating, cheering and throwing flowers. Mairi Jean, Garsiyya and Katherine are now all Companions of the Order of the Pelican, generating a sudden and spontaneous mini-Pelican Circle in the midst of the Southern Tors. (Which is the new way that's emerged of talking about the Joburg and Cape Town groups, respectively Griffin's Tor and Adamastor, and is curiously catchy). The current Queen of Drachenwald came down for the event, but brought no feathered folk with her, so I was the only extant Pelican in a radius of approximately five thousand miles. Under these circumstances it was absolutely unthinkable for me not to be present for all the pomp and circumstance and heraldry and court invocations and also the hugging and crying and passing of tissues, which definitely happened.

I am so glad I was there, and so unbelievably happy that this incredibly well-deserved honour has been awarded my dear and hard-working friends. But it was so, so odd to be back in garb again, and speaking the language, and feeling the status, and taking onto myself all the weight of participation and organisation which was the cause, ultimately, of me leaving in the first place. The event ran from 10am until 5pm, with a picnic lunch and two courts; for the entire day I was pretty much in there with the organising, helping to put up tents, acting as lady-in-waiting to her Majesty, arranging court, arranging vigils, participating in the court ritual, and then getting stuck into clean-up afterwards. It was as if I'd never been away.

Several people asked, rather wistfully, if this meant that I'd be back for events in the future, and I fell over my own tongue trying to respond. Because, here's the thing. However good a day it was - and it was - and however much I still value the things the SCA stands for, it still messes with my head. I woke up on Sunday after a restless and insomniac night, and lay in bed aching in every muscle and with heavy-headed consciousness of bone-deep exhaustion, and thought, "Oh, right. That's why I gave this up." Honestly, I felt as thought I'd been binge drinking for twelve hours straight, despite the fact that no more than half a goblet of perry passed my lips the whole day. (And, thanks, Ameline, the perry was lovely!). I'm still considerably below par today, and my feet and ankles are a mess.

The problem is, I think, that events tire me way beyond the physical: they represent continual interaction, continual demands on my energy and input, at a level which exceeds several times over my actual capacity. Looking back at the time I decided to stop playing, it's pretty much at the time when I was realising that I was fighting chronic fatigue from the damned glandular fever. It's only become worse after last year's little medical contremps. And, simultaneously, it happened at the time when I accepted a full-time job which entails a large chunk of time interacting with people in various intense and demanding ways. If the SCA is about anything, it's about people. I ain't got no more people time in me, or mental energy for trying to reconcile the highly complicated constellation of enjoyment and input and obligations and work and pleasure and guilt and friends which makes up my possibly co-dependent relationship with the SCA.

I had fun on Saturday, and it was deeply satisfying both to be present for the awards and to see all these people again. (And, score! I actually still fit into most of my garb! Even if the rabbit-fur trim on that surcoat had Gone Evil and exploded into clouds of hair when looked at sternly, necessitating its summary removal). But I don't think I'll be back barring similar circumstances. Saturday was interesting because it demonstrated fairly ineluctably that leaving was the right decision. This makes me sad.
freckles_and_doubt: (Default)
So, it turns out that Avengers fan fiction is adorable. Or, at least, Avengers fan fiction by the immortal scifigrl47 is adorable. (I hasten to assure you that, given the quality of her writing, the obvious banality of "scifigrl47" as a nickname is clearly ironic). She has even reconciled me to Tony/Captain and Barton/Coulson - partially because Avengers slash, in that almost-all-boy environment, is as right and inevitable as it is in LotR; partially because her version of Hawkeye is hysterical; but mostly because she has, with beautiful accuracy, tapped straight into the crying need for some sort of address to the motley bunch of isolated dysfunctionalities who make up the Avengers, which she does by sticking them into a clubhouse together and allowing their dysfunctions to bounce off each other like misguided puppies. Also, there is a sentient toaster and a Roomba army. Run, do not walk, to read everything Avengeroid she has written. I have done so over last night and today, and my stomach muscles are sore from laughing, while there is a clear and present danger that the Evil Landlord thinks I've finally lost it on account of me spending several hours cackling like Nanny Ogg on her fifth martini. Now I shall re-read them all from the start. Go away. Busy.
freckles_and_doubt: (Default)
I've just trotted over to the Arts block to make some photocopies for my class, and have returned in giggles because of encountering a small, rather well-behaved herd of data cable rolls, trundling down the avenue under the guidance and motive power of a couple of cabling-guy herdsmen. Three rolls to a guy, and a process of judicious, well-timed kicks to keep the herd on track. The whole effect was curiously adorable.

I was an hour late for work today, on account of getting caught up in the Curiosity landing, which I am still kicking myself I missed in real time. I thought it was much later this morning. Phooey. Nontheless wonderful - textbook touchdown, photo of shadow, jubilant geeks. I'm still all weepy. But, as my mother commented, it's a weird sort of index of the fundamental brokenness of the human race that we can put a ton of survey equipment with the utmost accuracy and delicacy on a spot 563 million kilometres away, and still can't get it together to give people on the actual Earth oh, I dunno, food, or housing, or education, or an economy built on anything other than blinkered self-interest. However, my favourite tweets of the morning:

@tomscott: "Humanity just dropped a NUCLEAR-POWERED CAR, intact, onto ANOTHER PLANET with a SKY CRANE and it’s SENDING US STUFF. BRING IT ON UNIVERSE."

@bdolman: "Gold medal for NASA in the 563 billion meters."

Once again, I confidently predict that there's absolutely no-one else in this building who shares my science-geeky joy. Sigh. I'm a lonely little petunia in a very arty onion patch.
freckles_and_doubt: (Default)
Perhaps there is some balance in the Cosmic Wossnames after all, since after the rigours of Hellweek it has been a somewhat decadent weekend. Yesterday we Salty Crackered out at De Meye, which is a wine-farm out near Stellenbosch, with an attached restaurant called The Table, who do a strictly à la carte lunch menu in their beautiful little farmhouse, which looks like this (with bonus mother):



and is set in surroundings which look like this:



and which are profoundly un-kinking to the tense-tight muscles of the soul. We were the only guests there. The staff are lovely and relaxed, the food is marvellous, they fed us huge quantities ("there's more in the kitchen if you want it") of duck pâté and tomato soup and slow-roasted pork belly and hasselback potatoes and red cabbage with apple (stv's photos are lovely), and then for dessert we did this:



and they brought us chocolate gateau and coffee under the trees. After which we staggered home, too full to think straight.

Then today was Robbi's birthday at Kitima in Hout Bay, which does a lunch buffet of Asian food, which means for the first time in the history of ever I actually had enough dumplings. (I love dim sum. Three platefuls, and I told the nice chef "One of everything, please!" each time). And duck spring roll. And salmon hot/sour soup with tamarind, and roasted duck, and pork with ginger, and lemongrass icecream, and we staggered home too full to think straight. I'm sensing a theme.

Notwithstanding all of the above, I have also this weekend finished editing my Harry Potter paper, and sorted out my seminar outline (my teaching starts tomorrow), and found a bunch of interesting articles which will allow me to babble happily about shifting identities and symbols of skin and blood and jewels in Catherynne Valente's feminist rewrite of "Aschenpüttel", a word which my Evil Landlord has taught me how to pronounce. One of Saturday's drunken, overfed insights was that all Germans are telepathic. It made sense at the time. (Leaving the farm, there were roadworks and a couple of workers at either end of about a kilometre of road, stopping one lane at a time in synchronisation via some hidden communication. EL's comment: "Funny, he didn't look German.")

It was a lovely weekend, and tomorrow I don't have to be on campus at 7am, and there won't be umpty-million students wanting to change curriculum. Life's okay.

don't worry, be happy

Wednesday, 25 July 2012 10:41 am
freckles_and_doubt: (Default)
We have reached a completely bizarre state of human evolution. Human ingenuity over centuries has conspired to advance technology to the inevitable pin-point where I can spend an incredibly happy and giggly couple of minutes watching a random video, set somewhere I can't identify (India?), created by no-one I've ever met, of monkeys jumping into water. Which they do like kids, knees tucked into chest in the classic cannonball position for maximum splash, and with the beautiful, unconscious abandon of cheerful dogs. (Do monkeys have knees, within the meaning of the act? I suppose they do). Anyway, please watch. It's waywardly happy-making.



I am pleased to report that, in keeping with the tenor of the above, Day 3 of Operation Do Not Snarl At Students is proceeding according to plan, no deviation from tac-map yet reported. I seem to be acquiring the habit of a deep, calming breath to forestall unleashing the grump-beast, and am consequently feeling much better about myself and life in general. Picture me flitting about the faculty spreading sweetness and light to undeserving students. Students are quite sweet, really, and pathetically grateful for kind words.
freckles_and_doubt: (Default)
I am a sad fangirl. I still get an unholy kick out of sharing a birthday with Joss, who is 50 this year and still comfortingly older than I am, and who moreover validates my fangirling utterly not only by intelligently being born on the same date I was, but by producing things like The Avengers, thus neatly conflating several of my personal fixations. (I shall leave identifying the exact fixations as an exercise for the reader).

I have had a lovely birthday, doing not much in an entirely self-indulgent way - playing computer games (which is no different to a lot of other days, then, but without the guilt), eating chocolate, chatting to random lovely friends who dropped by for one reason or another, and going out to dinner with the usual crew to La Mouette, whose winter special tasting menu is a damn fine thing. There is still a ridiculous amount of chocolate in the house.

The computer games have not been materially assisted by the affectionate nature of the Hobbit, whose favoured position is recorded for posterity below. I need my right hand in Amalur for moving forward, parrying, swapping weapons and chugging healing potions, so it's not an entirely felicitous confluence of cat and gamer. The aching wrist from the heavy Hobbit-head, however, neatly balances the aching wrist on the mouse hand from clicking "attack" and clenching all my muscles while I swear.



I should point out that the weird brown box/paper thing behind Hobbit's left ear is my Evil Landlord's idea of a good birthday present, which is to wander into Tomes, the larney chocolate place in the Waterfront, and request two of every kind of dark chocolate they have except the ones with coconut. He is a civilised man and knows me well. Have also scored tea and chocolate biscuits, groovy clothes, cute cat-toys, interesting plants and umpteen wishes from people all over the show, for which my happy, grateful thanks.
freckles_and_doubt: (Default)
Hee. There's a meme. Memes are usually lame, but this one made me laugh. Gacked off [livejournal.com profile] matociquala:

Pick up the nearest book to you.
Turn to page 45.
The first sentence describes your sex life in 2012.


The nearest book to me is a Sookie Stackhouse, Dead in the Family, which is on my desk at work so I can lend it to a student. (Vampire thesis, with digressions into random fun reading). This is already auspicious, but the first sentence on p. 45 is too beautifully fortuitous for words: "You're assuming taking a Were as your date would be offensive...?" I am still chortling. Apparently 2012, while allowing something vaguely resembling action, will not in any way mitigate my frequently catastrophic taste in men. However in general personal terms this actually represents an improvement, so I'm not quibbling.

Today, apart from slightly kinky prognostications, is definitely looking up. A random encounter with my physician this morning on the way back from a blood test has allowed him to formally permit me to both stop the Warfarin, and remove the @^$%@#^$% compression socks which are the bane of my existence in this wretched hot weather. (They are really non-stylish with sandals). My effervescent glee at this release is in no way mitigated by (a) the list of prohibitions and warnings regarding future air travel (pshaw, easy, I can do all that), (b) the prospect of an hour and a half in the dentist's chair this afternoon (implant), (c) the cost of said implant and crown, only partially covered by medical aid (total string of numbers represents fabulous amount with more zeroes than God) or (d) the fact that unspecified builderly dudes of noxious ilk have apparently chosen today as the site of their spirited attempt to undermine the building from beneath, using pneumatic drills. Also, student admission and curriculum angst is on the rise, as is traditional for this time of year. I laugh at all that, and wriggle my toes in ecstatic freedom.

The subject line, by the way, is from Goats. As have been the last three, and as they will be for the foreseeable future. Read Goats to avert the apocalypse. (And to foster particularly trippy dreams. Last night I dreamed a giant, boiling stormcloud over central Cape Town, turning the sky black except for a heavy, thunderous green on the horizon. I stood in the garden and watched as the cloud front advanced on Rondebosch with brutal speed, trailing tentacular cloud tendrils amid which giants stalked. It was fairly epic. I woke up vaguely trying to put up magical shields.)

here comes the sun

Tuesday, 1 November 2011 11:16 am
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It's really cheating to garden in this climate. You fling a few seedlings into the ground, wave some compost at them in a desultory sort of fashion, douse them with water occasionally, and stand back so that the "whoosh" of vegetative life reaching for the ferocious African sun doesn't actually singe your eyebrows. I planted tomatoes less than a month ago. Behold:



This is before I went in there with a machete and a train of native bearers to hack off all but the main shoots so that some of the fruit actually gets to see the sun through the jungle, and the spring onions aren't completely overrun.

Also, I grew this pomegranate from seed, which I stuck into the soil in a waywardly experimental mood about a year ago, when a tray of supermarket pomegranate seeds in the fridge Went Bad, or at the very least set up their own illicit still. They sprouted like mad things; I've given seedlings to several people, and this one is outgrowing its pots with enough fervour that I suspect it of being part Triffid. It also looks ridiculously healthy, suggesting that it thrives on the above regimen of wholesome neglect.



Also, I love pansies. They have sweet little velvet faces, which they produce in a tasteful array of deep jewel tones which almost exactly approximate my taste in clothing colours. They're evil aliens and I thus grow them only in pots in a slightly shamefaced way, but I planted the right-hand pot in April and they've been blooming ever since, which I suspect is probably against the rules. The left-hand pot are the Next Generation, planted a few weeks ago. Anyway. They make me happy.



This post brought to you courtesy of a recent, random re-watch of Sunshine (tense, philosophical space movie that does amazing things with light and Cillian Murphy), and a major Soundgarden ear-worm which the Beatles subject line was a futile attempt at dislodging. Bugger.
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When I went to see my doctor last week in re the exhaustion levels, I subliminally expected her to tell me to buck up, stop whinging and simply get on with my life, taking it slightly easy if at all possible until I'd regenerated some health. (It's easier in Dragon Age). The result of her unexpectedly concerned response is to somehow have given me permission to be ill: "take a week and a half off work" appears to have allowed me to stop pretending I'm not exhausted all the time, as a result of which I'm rather more than semi dead and very, very glad I don't have to drag myself up to campus. The mind is an odd thing. Also, her image choice ("you're starting to live off your capital") is really sticking with me in an extremely cautionary way. Things To Do This Week: rest. Also, wrestle boss in re extended leave.

Since ill health is boring, have some linkery of various degrees of joyous-makingness, depending on your personal proclivities.

  • For dance fans, fashion fans and fans of very nifty editing, this ad may hit your buttons with the cheerful octopoid multitudinosity with which it hits mine.

  • For players of Dragon Age II, particularly the girly ones, Fenris cosplay! Amazing costume, and the dude has the necessary level of elven emaciation going, but I have to say, the I Have My Arm Around Felicia Day Effect notwithstanding, he's way too cheerful for strict verisimilitude.

  • For music lovers of approximately the same vintage as me, and/or who cherish a fondness for 80s dance music, Goth or New Wave, She Wants Revenge. I had never heard of She Wants Revenge before [livejournal.com profile] matociquala linked it. How did that happen? It's like Bauhaus mated with Sisters of Mercy and had the offspring raised by Depeche Mode. It seem to make it slightly redundant to have actually gone through the 80s.



    In other slightly happy-making news, the problem with Winona seems actually to be the On switch. If I dig my fingernails under it I can persuade the thing to switch on for about five seconds and start to boot up, although it won't stay on. I don't want to fiddle any further because the rapid on/off cycling can't be good for the hard drive, but at least I have a diagnosis, if not a solution.
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I am home! words cannot express my joy. Kindly imagine me hobbling around in a pained but ecstatic circle dance, with gestures of relief and freedom. I have Earl Grey, I have a real computer with proper screen and keyboard, I have my kitties sitting off in the middle distance looking bored and unimpressed, which is their traditional response to me being away for any length of time. I also have my amazing mother, who has arrived for her mid-year holiday only to have to divide her time between assisting me to hobble around the house, and scritching Todal behind the ears. (Todal got bitten quite badly by some unspecified fiend-creature while I was away, and has a bald patch and umpteen stitches in her back, and a cone around her head which precludes her accessing her own itchy spots. The level of medical malfunction in this house currently is a bit scary. On the upside, Toad is making up for a lot of Hobbit-bullying by virtue of the fact that he's scared of her cone and runs away like a big wimp when she approaches. I fancy she's enjoying this.)

Apparently I can expect six months on warfarin (no wild diet changes, no anti-inflammatories, no more than a glass of wine a day), another month or so before this leg stops hurting, and a recovery period of up to a couple of weeks before I cease feebly wibbling to the point where I can venture back to work. This means that I leave the Faculty in the lurch in the first week of term, which is a change of curriculum period and one of the busiest of my year, full of responsibility for complicated advisor timetables, and infinite student queries. There are very few back-up systems to replace my several quite unique functions at this time, so it's going to be salutary for all of us, and will hopefully allow me to implement a campaign to rationalise and support some of the more exhausting requirements of this job in future. I am also pleased to report a really quite surprisingly low level of guilt at the whole leaving-them-in-the-lurch bit. This kind of drastic body-she-is-scratched thing happens to me because I'm exhausted and run-down, and the job is to blame for a lot of that.

Anyway. Languishing in hospital chatting to my mother in the last couple of days has resulted in an extremely happy-making random revelation, which I shall proceed to share in the interests of geek cred. Rampant atheism, skepticism and a hearty dislike of Tom Cruise have given me a serious loathing for weird cults in general and Scientology in particular, but this may also be genetic. It causes me untold joy to learn that my grandfather, my mother's father, was on the Board of Censors for Zimbabwe, then Rhodesia, and he was apparently instrumental in having Scientology banned from the country. That was obviously reversed at some stage, the church is active in Zim now, but they booted old L. Ron the hell out in the 60s. My mother remembers my grandfather bringing home huge piles of info on Scientology to read through, and that he hated the cult with quite a passionate hatred and worked very hard to have it banned. I love this. It's a lovely bit of family history worthy of innocent pride. My grandfather was a difficult, introverted man, but he was a sturdy rationalist and could clearly kick butt when required to.

Obligatory Reverse Inside-Out Australia Blog photograph: Sydney was prone to really beautiful clouds.

a blustery day

Monday, 30 May 2011 11:42 am
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Oh, hooray, winter is here! Cape Town has been banging and flapping for several days, apparently in a spirited attempt to blow away to sea entirely. The garden is full of drifts of dead leaves, twigs, branches, and the top third of the small tree outside the garden wall, which blew over during the weekend. (I'm sad about that. I like that tree. It's a small, quiet, retiring sort of herbaceous creature with lovely dark leaves and an attractive shape. I hope it survives its involuntary deforestation.) It's also been bucketing with rain; outside my window as I type there's the traditional water-going-past-horizontally thing with which the Cape is wont to while away its winter months. Hobbit and Golux have celebrated the winter by reaching enough of a detente to sleep on my bed at the same time, which means my back is perpetually a bit stiff from contorted kitty-accommodating sleeping postures. Hobbit's a sprawler.

It's all good. I love this time of year. Clearly the buckets of rain was all that was necessary to hoick me out of the homicidal tendency to loathe the world in general and everyone in it in particular: I'm feeling much less misanthropic. This is surprising, as last night's spaghetti bolognaise session in honour of [livejournal.com profile] friendly_shrink and the Usual Suspects entailed enough wine that I had a mad insomnia attack at 4am, and have had precisely four hours of sleep. Fortunately the Dear Little Students, possibly in remorse at the droves of them that pestered me last week (including 23 who turned up in the last two hours before the 4pm course change deadline on Wednesday), have shown neither hair nor hide this morning. Sensible gazelles.

I remembered my umbrella. There's a heater on my feet. The tea supplies are holding out. I'm playing the Decemberists. I submitted my Microfiction on time. No-one has knocked on my door all morning. I don't have to do anything this evening. Happiness is a simple creature.

puddle-jumping

Thursday, 21 April 2011 11:34 am
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Yesterday was all misty and moisty, with that kind of light, persistent rain that drifts gently sideways in the wind but doesn't let that distract it from implementing a fairly relentless soaking policy. My garden is all happy and damp, if somewhat buried under plane tree leaves because I've been too busy playing Dragon Age to actually do any raking. (There's a long post in my future about the narrative structure and principles of Dragon Age. You have been warned). Today is clear and cold, and the cats ran screaming through the house when I emerged from my bedroom in the first boots of the season. You'd think they'd learn that I metamorphose into a sort of clumpy, jackbooted thing punctually every year and no-one ever actually dies, but no, the annual ritual is fear and trembling for several weeks as my feet inexplicably morph. Dear little twits.

In fact, it's autumn, and winter is breathing down its neck. I am a happy bunny. Also, memo to self, acquire new umbrella, those bastards who broke into my car that one time nicked it.

The Dragon Age fixation means I'm not good for much in the Interesting Life department, because second-hand rehashes of someone's gaming experience are not of blinding interest to the onlooker. (I assume. If you'd be blindingly interested, do let me know and I shall unleash the wittering accordingly). I did, however, cook dinner for [livejournal.com profile] strawberryfrog on Tuesday, which was fun, and stretched my catering-for-vegetarians muscles a bit, as well as allowing the Frog to photograph my cats in a variety of contorted positions (both him and them). There was also a Lady Blackbird gaming session last night, which is evincing more and more bizarre twists as we get right into the swing of the DMless format in providing our own challenges. (Giant space jellyfish! Three giant space jellyfish! And an Imperial fleet!). It's been an interesting roleplaying experience because I'm playing a character I frankly dislike - she's a privileged, sheltered, narcissistic twit, and I'm only able to access the necessary mode of flamboyant self-centredness if I'm slightly sloshed. On the upside, fated love triangles, and she blows things up with lightning, which is always amusing. Also, parrot!

I also posted a new Microfiction. You are probably bored with me saying that I don't like my own writing and never feel it succeeds, but this one felt particularly slight to me. I was weirded and confused when a fellow writer mentioned they really liked it. For a highly trained literary critic I have absolutely no discernment, apparently.

Finally, today is my last day of work before an 11-day break, sparked by the inescapable elegance of taking three days off around the mad Easter holidays. *dances around office on tip-tips of toes*

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