a thousand words

Wednesday, 21 November 2018 11:14 am
freckles_and_doubt: (Default)
I appear to be nesting. I had another outbreak of internet art acquisition, and upon arrival of the spoils carted them off to the nice framer man (he's a closet sf geek and gets terribly excited about some of my artwork choices) and had them properly framed. (And may I add, ye gods and little fishes, international customs duty has skyrocketed this year. The two Dappermouth prints cost more to import than they did to buy and ship). My home is now Decorated, or at any rate more decorated than it used to be (it was always pretty decorated, I am incapable of resisting good internet art when I stumble over it, and also have an almost inexhaustible supply of fangirly enthusiasm for highly representable media. Apparently one of the upshots of loving things very hard when you love them, is art.)

Art Outbreak 1: replacing the big green owl pic which hangs over my bed. I had this up for several years, and then the little hooky thing on the picture rail had an attack of ennui and allowed itself to slip gracefully onto the fainting couch, causing an enormous splintering 2am crash a foot from my head, and incidentally completely trashing the print with broken glass splinters. Cussedly, I ordered an identical replacement. I have retired the fainting hook and found one of stronger mettle. Or metal. My wol is back, and I hope he stays there.



He is a beautiful, calm, dream-thing in the same dark green as my bedroom decor, and I love him. He's by an amazing California-based artist called Waelad Akedan, who I found on Society6; she does phenomenally rich and dreamy animals with, I think, Indian visual influences. I'm weirdly happy to have paid for this twice.

Art Outbreak 2: further to the dream animals, the moody, atmospheric art of Dappermouth, the Tumblr handle of artist Jenna Barton. I darkly suspect my recent Teen Wolf fixation may have had something to do with the wolf one, but mostly I love these for the way they feel both haunting and haunted.



Omens and Mirage. I meant these for my study, but have ended up putting them in the living room where I see them more often. I love the way the wolf floats, and the cats disintegrate.

Art Outbreak 3: it wouldn't be me if there weren't videogames. These are now in the dining room, they're from something called Pixelnoise Studios, and they aren't joined by the Skyrim and Zelda ones only because I managed to prod my self-control out from under its rock and cuddle it until it co-operated. (These are the images from the shop, my frames are plain glossy black, and frankly look better).



I should add for posterity that I am currently re-playing Andromeda. Unpopular opinion: it's a good game. Slightly more millenial than the darker-edged original trilogy, and prone to the same problem which we run into running LARPs for the current generation, viz. they tend to lack the conviction for proper villainy, but beautifully made and thoroughly enjoyable even trending to the pastel.

I spoke into his eyes

Wednesday, 10 October 2018 11:13 am
freckles_and_doubt: (Default)
Feeling a bit non-existent again, so am taking this opportunity to remind myself of my own instrumentality. When suffering reality slippage, it helps to tally up the small but perfectly real motions in evidence of one's own actual impact on the world.

Things I achieved over the weekend:
  1. A load of laundry.
  2. The watering of the garden with the grey water from the above load of laundry.
  3. Chocolate cake. (this one, but I leave the egg yolk out of the icing. I have been eating it for breakfast all week with indecent satisfaction).
  4. Fancy chicken lasagne dinner for jo&stv, based on this one but without the cream, extra cheese or actual skillet. Also, garlic bread, which has given me acid reflux for the better part of three days but was absolutely worth it.
  5. Courtesy of jo's demon drilling skills, curtain rails and curtains on my front windows, which has measurably reduced the temperature of the front rooms by a few degrees, and has incidentally allowed me to retire the (cheap and nasty) blinds, thus frustrating Jyn's ongoing attempts to render me actually homicidal by trying to climb through them so she can see out. I'm deliriously happy about this, the house suddenly feels properly furnished and my nocturnal activities properly veiled from prying eyes in a way they simply weren't given the flimsy and cat-raddled nature of the blinds.
  6. Prompted by the "properly furnished" sensation in (5), above, the cleaning down and anointing with teak oil of the small teak desk I use for sewing; it was a bit water-mottled from hosting potplants and is now a glowing, beautiful thing. Wood, so satisfying.
  7. The brushing of both the cats, resulting in (a) a small inanimate tribble of astonishing dimensions, and (b) absurd quantities of purring.
  8. A metric fuckton of Skyrim, as is the traditional way of my people when faced with the unavoidable and unpleasant onset of summer temperatures.

Surprisingly large and varied numbers of things were also achieved by me this week so far at work.
  1. Number of large/annoying committee meetings survived without undue mental trauma or actual homicide: 3.
  2. Number of colleagues rescued from weird and baffling curriculum intricacies: 4.
  3. Number of students whose weird and baffling curriculum intricacy was sorted by me personally with rabid efficiency and dispatch: 5.
  4. Number of gently collapsing students rescued from their own approaching-term-end angst, despite it being too late in the semester for most sane or rational administrative mechanisms to apply: 3.

*waves Flag of Existence triumphantly*
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Last weekend, by my request and in response to a couple of interrupted attempts to get into my front door by unspecified crowbar-wielding Bad Guys, my nice landlord came and installed a solid cast-iron gate in place of the original rather flimsy cheap trellidor. As my front door is right on the road, this was Reassuring. All was gas and gaiters until Sunday morning, when I came home from shopping to discover that the day before I had apparently carefully swapped over the keys on my keyring to add the new security gate key, but in a slightly exhausted daze (I haven't been sleeping well) had madly removed the actual front door key instead of removing the old security gate key. I thus had two security gate keys, one entirely useless and out of date, and no front door key, since it was sitting on the kitchen table, and couldn't get into the house. This simple stupidity was the start of a cascade of errors which unfolded thusly:

  • I have never actually locked myself out of this house before, but being vaguely excessively Boy Scoutish about this (possibly as a side effect of the Lawful Good), I had left a set of my keys with jo&stv. It was by this stage about 9am on a Sunday; the odds were good that they were home.
  • Problem escalation 1: in the early morning pre-shopping daze, I had left my cellphone on the bedside table, so couldn't phone or text to see if they were home. Solveable by simply climbing back into the car and driving through to their house.
  • Problem escalation 2: three days before I had coincidentally said to them, "Hey, you do know I don't answer the door if I'm not expecting someone? so please text first before dropping by", and they'd said "Hey, same, all good". This means that it was fresh in everyone's minds when their doorbell went several times in succession on a Sunday morning without prior warning, and they quite righteously didn't answer. I tried yelling, but they have a high wall and I'm not loud enough to make much impression.
  • Problem escalation 3: ironically enough I actually had the spare keys to their house in my handbag, but couldn't get the gate to open, it randomly sticks in the damp weather and had, with pinpoint accuracy and perversity, nominated today as Off Duty.
  • Problem escalation 4: in a cellphone age, we are ridiculously bound to our phones for day-to-day info. I didn't have my phone, therefore not only couldn't phone, but also had no relevant numbers, because I never got around to putting my hard copy backup into this year's diary. It was a very weird feeling: not only was I not legitimately able to prove I was myself by texting, even if I found a nearby phone I wasn't able to prove I was myself by actually having the necessary contact information. Horrible sense of non-existence.

It was like a domino cascade: one initial tap and the whole thing fell over, slowly, in beautiful stages. I solved it, eventually, by driving up to campus, accessing my computer in my office, looking up Jo's number on the student database and Steve's in his email, and phoning cellphones until someone answered. Sod's Law being what it is, they'd left the house about ten minutes after I did, I should have simply waited, but fortunately they were only one suburb over and came haring back to let me in, so I achieved keyhood and toddled back home, shaken and self-chastising and vowing never to leave the house again for any reason.

Jyn loves the new security gate, incidentally. She has returned to full health not just full of beans, but with an excess, which means that twice in the last two days she's successfully made a break for the road while I was fumbling with unfamiliar locks, and has had to be chased down. Since she goes to ground under the car and refuses to emerge, this becomes tricky and time-consuming. I was rescued this morning by the neighbour, who did by his own admission a stormtrooper impression which had both cats streaking into the house with tails like bottlebrushes, seriously freaked. I'm good with this. Two cats have been run over in that road in the last month and a half, I feel that terror in this context is benign.
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Oh, yay, heatwaves! 37 degrees last week. Cape Town, how do I love thee at this time of year? not at all. In addition, by way of merry summer celebration, that damned starling appears to have it in for me personally, he had another go at me last week, and again this morning. He's lying in wait, I swear. He doesn't hit hard or claw me, but it's a very definite and deliberate impact to the back of the skull. Either that or it's some sort of misshapen avian crush.

Apart from the heat I had a truly annoying weekend, because my lights went out at about 11am on Saturday and only came on again at 6, and then they died at 2am on Sunday and were out until about the same time this morning, giving me a weekend which was effectively denuded of the ability to do any of the things I'd planned - cv wrangling, job applications, baking, sewing, doing the washing. I spent large tracts of it reading Ursula Vernon furry novels and listening to the inexorable drip of the freezer contents going off. Given that my board-schedule checking hellweek starts tomorrow with the training session and stretches until Tuesday of the following week, I am homicidally grumpy this morning, and inclined to think that the Cosmic Wossnames are rubbing my nose in this job just to make quite, quite sure I'm leaving it. Which, hell, yes.

I am attempting to self-medicate with fluffy television. Given that the fluffy television du jour is Teen Wolf, which I have, as usual, discovered about three years after it stopped being fashionable, possibly the current tendency to snarl and worry things with my teeth is also being unduly exacerbated. On the upside, gratuitous quantities of shirtless hot werewolf action, which is at least aesthetically pleasing.

In the Department of Random Linkery, this is one of Ursula le Guin's characteristically dense, accessible, meditative essays, about stories as carrier bags rather than heroic bludgeoning implements. It is a lovely thing, go and read it. I have stolen my subject line from it.
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20171008_065131

This is a very lovely city, even when its soft grey misty clouds are a lie and a delusion and only give us a tantalising trickle of the rain we so desperately need. We are on very serious water restrictions, I shower and wash my hands to a complicated system of buckets whose collected water is ruthlessly apportioned to the garden and the loo depending on detergent quantities. The days when I could stand dreamily under the hot water for unspecified aeons while my mind drifts happily, are long gone. I am losing plants in the garden, I don't have enough water for all of them and plants in pots don't have the root access which allows them to survive reduced watering. It's all a bit dire.

My subject line is Kermit the Frog, whose gentle optimism I do not currently feel.

Cape of Storms

Friday, 9 June 2017 08:36 am
freckles_and_doubt: (Default)
Well, that was the Y2K of Cape storms, that was. I can't work out if it was not as horrible as anticipated because the whole city over-reacted up front, or precisely because we pre-empted it so well and bunkered down for it - schools and universities closed, minimal people on the roads, everyone had laid in stocks of water and food and kept their heads down for thirty-six hours while the weather rampaged. It was very windy and more than somewhat damp, and very dramatic, and there are trees down all over and some people lost roofs or power, but as far as I can tell the tiny death toll (9 to date) was almost half from a single lightning strike and most of the other half from the horrible Knysna fires. I don't want to minimise those deaths, which are awful, or the undoubted damage and loss and suffering in the vulnerable informal settlements, but given our huge numbers of people in shantytowns, it really could have been a lot worse and I'm really glad it wasn't.

I also have to say that the CT city utilities people seem to have been amazing - trees were cleared and power restored very quickly, from the tenor of a lot of social media responses. I was without power for 24 hours, it went out at 3pm on Wednesday and they only got it back at about that time yesterday (they apparently sent a confused team out on Wed afternoon when we reported it, and they bumbled off to the wrong road and stood scratching their heads at being unable to find the problem - they took chainsaws to the tree on the line yesterday and sorted it out), so Wednesday night was all me and the cats huddled in front of gas heaters and candles heating cocoa and soup on the gas stove.

It also made me realise how dramatically my habitual leisure activities rely on civilisation. Can't game. Can't read or knit, light not good enough. Can't watch movies. Can't read fanfic or cruise Tumblr on the Ipad, which has a light enough screen for it, because can't internet. I went to bed very early, under slightly freaked out cats - the noise of the wind banging the mad hippy neighbour's fancy wireless aerial was rather extreme. I was supposed to take Jyn in for spaying on Tuesday night, but postponed, and I'm glad I did. Apart from worrying about power cuts in the middle of veterinary operations, I was afraid I wouldn't be able to get through to pick her up on Wednesday, and in the event she was worried enough by the storm noise that it was good she was at home with me for comforting. Her doom will come next week, alas.

I am also pleased to report that, other than the power outage, no damage seems to have resulted to the house - the landlord's roof repairs last year held well, no leaks, and the big potted ficus didn't blow over (it did when I first moved in, twice, under less dramatic winds, but I'd subsequently moved it into a more sheltered spot and taken it off its drainage bricks, so score). And really, a container garden is the best possible scenario for Massive Gale Force Winds, I'd moved the large fruit trees into sheltered corners and anything fragile into the laundry or house, and it was all fine. Is it awful that I rather enjoyed it? I do like a full-body storm experience, all elemental and grrr and exciting.

I also spent a windy Tuesday night watching Arrival, about which I shall blog separately because I Have Notes, and the first couple of episodes of the new Supergirl series, which is another entry in the Fluffy Clockwork Kittens of Superheroes stakes. As a series Supergirl seems to be cute and amiable, but its fluffy clockwork kitten is constructed a bit ineptly so that, while it doesn't actually bounce off walls, it also doesn't quite achieve the lifelike - everything is done slightly too fast with a mechanical gait. But it's rather endearing, on the whole.
freckles_and_doubt: (Default)
Well, that was a weekend. Sort of. I'm not sure it actually counts as "life" without basic human life-support such as hot water for personal ablutionary purposes. On Thursday evening I switched on the kettle (an interestingly space-agey glass one with inherently dodgy electrics, it blew its reheat function about 24 hours after I bought it), which promptly tripped all the plugs and, for some reason, the geyser. I switched on all the tripped switches, no problem, but on Friday night it transpired that, in fact, something more permanent had blown, because my attempt at a hot shower was tragically undermined by the total lack of hot water.

So Saturday entailed informing the house agent about the problem - she is a lovely lady who, incidentally, owned the house I rented during my Honours year. (She lived in the back half of the property, and it's a source of continual amazement to me that she sanctioned my current tenancy given that my Honours year was characterised by excessive financial precariousness, no furniture, a screaming break-up followed by a screaming break-down, and the frequent use of my empty living room for loud, long-haired Goth parties. She's either very forgiving or has a very bad memory, is all I can say.) She tut-tutted sympathetically and imported Plumbers.

The Plumbers proved, in the event, to be of rather less use than a chocolate tea-pot, i.e. no damned good for their intended function and inclined to do no more than dribble equal quantities of ruined chocolate and ruined tea on your shoe when called upon to perform it. They banged around in the roof for three hours on Saturday, eventually departing having achieved a new geyser element, a complete mess in the roof, a leak in the ceiling, a bill for R2000, and no actual hot water. (Amazon plumbers, people. Not a good experience. Would not permit to plumb again anywhere near me). They returned yesterday and fixed the overflow which was dripping through the ceiling, but still no hot water. My actual landlord achieved the hot water at 7 last night by removing the geyser timer completely. I reckon there's a more than sporting chance that the new element was completely unnecessary, see chocolate teapot, above.

The thing is, this means that the weekend was composed in very large parts of strangers in my house. They made a noise, they turned off the lights at intervals so I couldn't play Skyrim, they required (in the case of the agent) to be treated courteously and fed tea and conversation while waiting. They also represented a response to an issue I reported, which means I spent the whole time poised in horrible anticipation that they'd gently point out I hadn't done Really Obvious And Basic Action B to turn everything on again, and the whole expensive shebang was thus My Fault. (This is a deep-seated hang-up of mine, as evinced by those recurring dreams in which the whole mechanism is going kablooey because I didn't do the Vital Tiny Thing when I was five). I am beyond exhausted; I haven't been able to use the weekend for its gods-given function, which is to retreat into splendid isolation and decompress. I am a shambling thing this morning, and my head is pounding.

On the upside, I had a hot shower last night, so there is perhaps a sliver of hope. Also, I am pleased to report that Pandora and Jyn are spending a lot of their time chasing each other through the house in an essentially friendly and playful way, and can be caught giving each other affectionate chin-rubs if I turn around suddenly. Also, Jyn continues aesthetically pleasing, if evincing a slightly worrying tendency to head straight for the road at mach speeds if I leave the front door open for more than a microsecond. (The black spot on her nose is shrinking, either it was a minor injury or her previous Small Child owner had at her with a black koki). Herewith, for posterity, a composition I entitle Small Cat Big Bed. The light was interesting.

20170514_144442

My subject line is Flanders and Swann, of course; the song doesn't do plumbers, but damned well should..
freckles_and_doubt: (South Park Self)
My gosh-darned microwave oven is making weird noises. Not, may I add, the kind of weird popping noises you often get from (just as a random example, nothing at all to do with my non-best-practice) reheating rice uncovered. Nope, this is, somewhat alarmingly, a weird noise it makes to itself quietly in the corner of the kitchen when there's nothing in it, no-one has pressed "go" and in fact I haven't used it for days. It's a staticky sort of crackle that sounds like a miniature and slightly meditative geiger counter. It is, I have to say, enormously disconcerting when it happens spontaneously in the silent kitchen next to my bedroom at 4am, particularly when I've been playing a lot of Fallout.

I noodled around on the internet and found a Youtube clip of someone else's oven doing exactly the same thing:



Gawsh, I thought vaguely. Gawsh, that microwave looks exactly like mine. Which it is. The same model. The one you can find by googling for "Russell Hobbs microwave oven fault", which turns up the Daily Mail article about that model being recalled for its potential to spontaneously combust. Gawsh.

Fortunately the noise has always sounded suspiciously like a mini Tesla coil to me, which says electrical short and arcing; I have been following a simple principle of unplugging it at the wall when I'm not actually using it, and that usually settles its hash within a few seconds. (Also a bit disconcerting that it continues crackling for a bit after current is removed, which is very like that weird electrical car problem you sometimes get in older models, when the car continues to idle for a few seconds after you've cut the ignition. Because demon possession, apparently.) But I should probably really stop using it on strict principles of self-preservation and not accidentally electrocuting the cat. It is, of course, out of warranty by now, and the model was clearly never actually recalled in this country. I see a new microwave in my immediate future, sigh. Probably not by Russell Hobbs.

The Dire Straits ear-worm, incidentally, comes free with my subject line at no extra cost. You're welcome.
freckles_and_doubt: (South Park Self)
I am slightly saddened that the Great Year Of Subject Line Bowie Mourning is still in force, as really this post should be entitled "Into each life some rain must fall". On the upside, the actual subject line I chose does come from possibly my favorite track on Blackstar, "Girl Loves Me", which is bouncy and catchy and written in a sort of frangled Clockwork-Orangesque mad post-apocalyptic vernacular1, which is not unapposite to my week.

The Cosmic Wossnames are gonna mess with me, is who. I am on leave. It's lovely. I'm catching up on sleep, and apparently all I need to do is to leave work for my dream-life to swing back into nightly focus with an audible click. And in my personal value system, shaped as it is by a drought-scarred Zimbabwean childhood, actual rain falling into my life, as it has done for the last few days, is cause for rejoicing. It's been bucketing, and cold, and the cats and I have been congregated around the contented purr of the gas heater for large swathes of time. I would prefer, however, if the otherwise much-enjoyed precipitation could refrain from precipitating actually inside the house.

So the bathroom sprang a leak on Tuesday. A little one, in the corner, where it rained gently on the towels. My nice landlord came round on Thursday and spent several hours tromping around on the roof, doing mystic passes with sealant and cloth coverings and what have you. This appears to have been something of a catastrophic fail in the DIY department, one of those epic fumbles that made everything worse, because Saturday's heavy rain revealed that the original leak had multiplied its output by a factor of ten, the bathroom had sprung two additional leaks in solidarity, and there were another series of sinister plopping noises in the living-room ceiling. Plus one small, diffident leak from the skylight contributing intermittently and with mathematical accuracy to the center of the carpet. I have no idea what the hell he did up there, but the roof really didn't like it. I await, somewhat damply, his no doubt shamefaced return to make good.

In retrospect possibly the leaking roof was inevitable, because I've been playing Fallout 4, which is littered with destroyed houses and makeshift shacks all with gaping holes in their roofs. But I can't even retreat from the deluge into more literal, if abstracted, postapocalyptic ruination, because the Cosmic Wossnames' two-punch sabotage followed its own inexorable logic: if I take ten days of leave and download Fallout 4 as the gaming project for said time, two days into the leave my computer will awake bright and early to an existential crisis in which it has convinced itself that it doesn't have a graphics card. Crawling in emo denial under its metaphorical bed, it will paralyse its own functions to the point where it not only wholesalely refuses to admit the existence of the graphics card on which it has been happily playing Fallout for two days, it will also reduce its screen resolution to a lowly 800x600 and refuse to change it at any price.

I dunno. It's distinctly possible that my computer is hallucinating it's Kylo Ren; if this is the case, hopefully the nice geeky types at my local computer shop will apply sufficient therapy to disabuse it of this misapprehension. If it's not, in fact, hallucinating and the (brand new, circa two days after the Inquisition release date) graphics card has in fact died, I apologize for the Kylo Ren slur and reflect, with some satisfaction, that at least the damned card is still under warranty. Either way, hopefully my computer returns to my bosom today, and I can stop this ridiculous half-existence where I experience the world through an IPad and my phone. Blarg. Any errors in this post are entirely attributable to the IPad's over-zealous and unduly American auto-correct. The verbosity is, however, absolutely my own. It's been over-watered.

1 Actually, subsequent research suggests it's half Nadsat and half Polari, which is something of an enchanting mix.

spiders from Mars

Monday, 13 June 2016 12:36 pm
freckles_and_doubt: (South Park Self)
When I left to do some shopping early on Saturday there was a small flock of hadeda ibises (ibi?) posed dramatically along the roof-tree of my house, against the morning sky. Rather like a boy-band album cover, in fact: studied poses, all carefully differentiated, positions and distances calculated to hint at relationships. A deliberate construction of unity and individuality. I'm still kicking myself that I didn't take a photo, if only as documentary evidence so I can pick the right bird out of the line-up for punitive purposes. Because in retrospect that was a sinister little flock loitering with intent.

During the course of Saturday, while I was in my study innocently ambling through the Shivering Isles1 one or more nameless hadedaean perpetrators spent several hours wreaking wanton destruction in the back courtyard2. My container garden has a terribly tendency to cutworm, who drowned in droves in the heavy rain last week, and the Hadeda Boy Band obviously had a field day noshing the little surface-floated squishy corpses. Which is fine, and would cause me fist-pumps of vindictive satisfaction, except that hadedas are large birds who (a) trampled several plants nearly to death, and (b) half dug up others - the soil in the pots is basically harrowed and drilled by the multiple stabbings of hadeda beaks. Have you seen the beaks on those things? like bloody ice-picks. And, crowning insult, they crapped (c) all over the back courtyard, with that excessive bowel enthusiasm characteristic of their kind, and (d) all over the kitchen, because I leave the courtyard door open for ventilation during the day, and they clearly wandered in like they owned the place. I basically had to hose down and disinfect the whole room. I'm not sure the cutworm decimation is worth it. Seriously, One Direction would definitely do less damage, or at least damage that was somewhat less scatological. Probably.

I'm feeling a little besieged, is all. The neighbourhood tomcat who beats up Hobbit is still prone to coming into the house at night to beat up Hobbit, play with his cat-toys, steal the catfood and spray all over the passage. (Where the hadedas crapped. I'm sensing a theme.) I'm sleeping with the bathroom window closed, which means my cats trying to get out or the tomcat trying to get in have to go through my bedroom window and over my recumbent form. This does seem to be excluding the tomcat quite usefully, hooray, even if it does necessitate 2am wake-ups as Hobbit launches heavily from my midriff. But clearly any open window is an invitation. Last night I was lying in bed playing Avengers Academy on my phone3, and I happened to look up at the curtain because my eye caught a slight movement of something dark against the dark green. And a massive spider, must have been 8-10cm across, came moseying out from behind it and across it like the hot contender in the World's Most Nonchalant Arachnoid heats.

This is, quite frankly, rude. Because one's body does that complete muscular lock-down thing, frozen in horror and with faint echoes of Dragon Age dialogue drifting across one's cerebellum4. During this involuntary play-dead manoeuvre the spider ambled unhurriedly on a dead level path across the curtain, and disappeared behind it. Then I lay there for the next hour, staring into the dark with eyes like the third dog from the tinderbox fairy tale, every fibre of my being tense, while scenarios play out endlessly: spider has fallen on the floor and is climbing up the bed leg and under the blankets. Spider has fallen on the floor and is climbing up the mosquito net to drop on me. Spider is climbing up the wall so it can fall on me from the ceiling. It's lurking on the curtain so it can fall on me when I forget about it and open the curtain in the morning. It's fallen on the floor and will run up my leg when I get out of bed. It's moseyed on out into the courtyard and I can go to sleep now. Really. Really. I can sleep now. Any time.

I eventually did, and it didn't leap out at me at any point during the night, but I find the fact of its complete disappearance suspicious. With any luck the nice cleaning lady will find it and chase it out into the courtyard, where a hadeda will eat it. Because apparently I have an ecosystem.



1 Oblivion re-play while waiting for Fallout 4 to download. The Shivering Isles are perfectly demented, but I'd forgotten how pretty they are.

2 Which in retrospect does explain why the cats spent the day attached to my ankles, lily-livered beasts.

3 This is a deliberate attempt to try and connect me more with my phone, which I forget to check or charge or bring half the time, and which would be long since dead if it were a tamagotchi. Judicious experimentation suggests that being able to make teen superheroes dance or fly or take selfies does indeed foster attachment. Go figure.

4 Cole: "Too many legs!". Dorian: "Just once, we should see normal-sized spiders!"

arrrrrrrrrrrrgh

Wednesday, 16 December 2015 09:30 am
freckles_and_doubt: (South Park Self)
Today is one of South Africa's myriad public holidays, which is fortuitous, as this year-end process has been extra special sparkly hell because of the exam delays from the student protests, and that, in combination with having dropped the anti-depressants, means that I am exhausted beyond belief. I shuffled into the undergrad admin office yesterday to wave a form at someone, provoking an announcement of "Jessica's a zombie today!" by another member of the office staff whose existence simply hadn't registered on account of my only possessing the energy for singular focus. I am doing that annoying thing where I'm waking up after eight hours of sleep feeling as though I've just staggered into bed after a hard day's ferret-juggling while simultaneously doing Irish dance. In lead-weighted boots. Through knee-high treacle.

So while today's public holiday is fortuitous, it has not been a morning characterised by unrelieved serenity and peace. The cats woke me up at 6.30 via Hobbit's patented "stick both front paws and all his considerable weight into the tender area just above my hip, in a marked manner because he wants breakfast", causing me to erupt upright in bed, swearing. This flung my left calf muscle into a particularly vicious cramp, necessitating screaming, writhing and strange contortions, during which the cats left the bed in disgust. For additional Feline Overlord points, one of them had thrown up next to my bed overnight. Having subdued the recalcitrant calf muscle, I swung my legs over the edge of the bed and, given that I wasn't yet wearing my glasses, placed my right foot firmly into the catsick. We draw a tactful veil over the expressive commentary of the next few minutes. The cats came out of hiding only about half an hour later, when the blue haze to the air had subsided and I'd filled their food bowls and promised faithfully not to kill anyone.

It is, however, probably a good thing that I was awake already, as that circumvented further homicidal rage when various neighbours simultaneously decided to take advantage of the public holiday with a spot of home and garden improvement. At 8 sharp they started variously (a) sawing down trees in their front garden (outside in the road, to the right, with added negative points because I don't hold with cutting down trees), (b) trimming the hedge with something petrol-driven (over the back wall, accompanied by domestic argument as to who should be cutting what where) and (c) embarking on major DIY projects with electric saws, drills and cheerful whistling (over the back wall to the right). At eight am on a public holiday, mark you. The whole thing is forming a sort of modern contrapuntal soundscape, question and answer, the snarling mechanical equivalent of a spirited debate. As one dies down, another starts up. (The tree-fellers are winning, mostly out of an almost internet-troll level of sheer vocal persistence). The noise is simply indescribable, and so far above outrageous that all I can do is giggle helplessly as yet another bit of heavy machinery cuts in with "and another thing...!" in tenor or baritone whirring.

I shall turn the sound up high and play Fallout 3 at them. It's been the kind of morning where pinpoint accuracy in shooting the heads off evil mutants with a sniper rifle is beyond cathartic. Also, two more days of work and then I'm on leave for two and a half weeks, and there is neither sufficient calloo nor callay in the world to adequately respond to that.
freckles_and_doubt: (South Park Self)
Lo these many aeons ago, back in the mists of time, one of the multitudes of DM-ing Andrews of my immediate acquaintance (the polar-explorer namesake one) ran a Rolemaster game. Standardish medieval framework, featuring the usual quotient of ridiculous semi-British humour, puns and insane party antics. I think it may have been that one where Dylan's character critically fumbled a riding skill, fell off, and rolled a 66 crit on the dismount, coming really absurdly close to death. But it also featured the party mind-controlling a peasant, for reasons lost to history, no wait, now I come to think of it it was in order to force him to dig a grave for the messenger we accidentally killed because he came galloping past us in a Suspicious Manner and we critted fatally on an attempt to stop him somewhat less lethally. (He had nothing whatsoever to do with us or our quest and was a mere item of local colour. Andrew being Andrew, his messenger's badge was a small red fish).

Anyway, we forced said peasant to prepare a grave, causing him to shamble up to the party once finished, spade in hand in the approved American Gothic pose, and utter the immortal line, with all the delivery of a medieval Eccles, "I dugged an hole." This became a catchphrase, not just in its original form, but in its somewhat idiosyncratic grammatical franglement, in a manner not unrelated to LOLcats or doge. I wroted an blog post. I wented to an work. Our students hadded an protest. Our protesters also flunged an things at our VC, in a manner which did its damnedest to undermine the otherwise praiseworthily conducted protests and which has been ruthlessly suppressed, hopefully in the Carrollian sense1. But I digress.

All of this is a vague and pointless preamble to the observation that The Jo had another outbreak of mad l33t carpentry skillz, and maded me an TV cabinet2. Thus:



It is a thing composed of equal parts beauty and utility. It is precisely measured to the dimensions of the various bits of my home theatre system and ever-expanding DVD collection, and has wheels and handles and dinky brass clasps on its cunning back compartment to store acres of electrical spaghetti, and it is bringing me much joy not of only of the utilitarian and organisational variety, but of the warm glow of Nice Friends Made Stuff For Me!

I have Nice Friends. But you knew that, since a lot of them are you.



1 "Here one of the guinea-pigs cheered, and was immediately suppressed by the officers of the court. (As that is rather a hard word, I will just explain to you how it was done. They had a large canvas bag, which tied up at the mouth with strings: into this they slipped the guinea-pig, head first, and then sat upon it.)
"`I'm glad I've seen that done,' thought Alice. `I've so often read in the newspapers, at the end of trials, "There was some attempts at applause, which was immediately suppressed by the officers of the court," and I never understood what it meant till now.'"


2 Which seems, in fact, to be a Theme of a certain cosmic inevitability. The Evil Landlord did something similar when I was living with him, constructing me a giant TV cabinet which stored not only the home theatre system, but my entire DVD collection, at least for about a week and a half until my hopeless addiction to media acquisition overran the space almost instantly. It is a source of great sorrow to me that my current living room is no way in hell large enough for the original TV cabinet, and I had to leave it behind, thus necessitating the Joannular carpentry outbreak.

freckles_and_doubt: (South Park Self)
I am at home today with 'flu, as I am phlegmy and disgusting and shouldn't breathe on anyone, and moreover have a head full of cement. Also, I need to hold Hobbit's hand a bit, he got beaten up by the neighbourhood tom again this morning, and is wandering around all subdued, with matted fur and covered with leaves. I think the bastard must have rolled him in a flower bed.

So, being at home, it's vaguely synchronous that Tumblr is currently doing a meme about how many houses you've lived in over your whole life. I like the mental exercise this offers, and am doing it just because. Answer, as far as I can remember: 13.

  1. I was born in Bulawayo, so the first house I lived in must have been the one on the research station up in the Matopos hills. (My dad was in agricultural research so we moved around a lot between research stations). I remember the red cement floors and the terraced garden and the view across the valley.
  2. The hardboard cottage in Harare my parents lived in briefly. I think I have a memory of this, it entails a darkish living room with rough walls inset with stone, and an arch.
  3. The first house on the research station outside Fort Victoria, which is now Masvingo. It had a huge kopjie behind the house, where we used to find glass beads in the sand, and a rather twisty, dark forest with a narrow path through it to the house next door where we went to play with a girl called Kate.
  4. The second house on the same research station, during the Rhodesian War so with security fencing around it. There was a giant mulberry tree in the back garden, we used to play under it. We had bantam chickens which were pets, and my dad's pointer had nine puppies who used to seethe around in a pen at the back. There was a "swimming pool", actually an old reservoir with no pump or filter, it used to go absolutely green and fill up with leaves and frogs.
  5. The house in suburban Harare where we lived for a year while my dad was finishing the biometrics for his PhD. It was very weird to me, being very ordinary suburban in style; we had a TV for the first time in my life, there had never been reception on any of the research stations.
  6. The house on the research station outside Marondera, with the lovely trees in the garden, and owls hooting at night. We had rabbits and tortoises, and that's where we acquired the rescued baby owls we raised to adulthood, thus starting a lifelong fixation which makes giving me presents ridiculously easy. The garden had this weird stage area at one end, a bit raised with a bamboo hedge for wings, we used to do amateur theatrical thingies with the friends from next door.
  7. The house my parents bought in Harare when my dad left research - it was the first house they'd actually owned. It was an ex farmhouse, long and rambling, and had been done up by the previous owners, who had the unfortunate shared characteristics of being DIY fiends and rather slap-dash, so it leaked and bits fell down. Huge garden, we grew popcorn and kept goats. If you stood on the front patio and looked down the garden to the fields, you could draw a line with a ruler at goat head height under which no green thing grew.
  8. I'm not counting the couple of stints in digs rooms during undergrad, variously in my aunt's house in Newlands (tense), and Tom's mad mother's garage in Bergvliet (very dirty). The first house I rented myself in postgrad was the digs in Twickenham Rd I shared with Michael, who was a roleplaying crowd friend. It was my Honours year; I was broke, breaking up with The Bastard Ex-Boyfriend From Hell, and on the whole rather broken, and I really can't blame Michael from moving out in a marked manner. The house had absolutely no furniture bar a bed, stove, desk and kitchen table, and was consequently rather good for gothy parties with lots of dancing.
  9. After a disastrous year in a flat with an anal-retentive semi-friend, the next house was the Osborne Rd digs of legend and song, variously with Michelle, Dylan and a different Mike. Those were slightly insane and very enjoyable years. Highlights included that legendary party with both gluhwein and cheese fondue, and, possibly not unrelated, ripping up the ancient and horrible carpets in favour of the lovely pine floors. We had a parade of cats who mostly expired or moved out mysteriously, including Pixie and Polonius (black siblings), the dreaded Widget, her five kittens, and finally the legendary Fish.
  10. After Dylan's mother reclaimed the house, I spent a couple of months in a different house with Michelle and Michael, who were by that point a couple; it was white and clinical and in Harfield Village.
  11. Then Mowbray, three years in an old Victorian on the railway line with Donald, who was a bit laissez faire as home owners go and declined to upgrade the security in any way. After about the fifth burglary was actually an armed robbery, I moved out. Donald is a psychologist and saw clients in the front room; it wasn't particularly compatible with my tendency to run about three different societies (roleplaying, SCA, tai chi) from the house simultaneously.
  12. The domicile of the Evil Landlord, for fifteen years. Good lord. I don't need to tell you anything about that if you've read my blog at all...
  13. My current house, which is unlike all of the above in being mine, mine, mine and never leaving. Which is a catchphrase from the Michelle/Dylan days.

    I have lived in lots of houses, she says with exemplary obviousness. Can anyone top that total? On mature reflection, while I have lived with lovely people on the whole, I really like being on my own.

    (My subject line is from the Brian Eno/David Byrne album, which offers pretty much the definite anthem on this theme unless you count Madness).
freckles_and_doubt: (South Park Self)
Term being over and all (except for those of us toiling in the marking-and-marks-processing salt-mines), there are outbreaks of workpeople all over campus, enthusiastically digging up things with presumable intent to improve them. (One of the major projects is the utter demolishment of a small, archaic cottage at the end of the avenue in order to build a new lecture theatre, in a faint, futile stab at keeping up with our ever-expanding student population. Currently a rather ridiculous proportion of our pedagogical efforts are defined by the Lecture Venue Crisis, which is... critical.)

This morning, however, some over-enthusiastic child of the concrete slab stuck a shovel or suchlike through a vital electrical cable, causing instant lights-out in four or five buildings, including mine. (History does not relate if he was thereby electrocuted, although one hopes not.) These days pretty much all of our projects and daily tasks are impossible without a computer. I filed everything in my office that wasn't actually nailed down, gave some desultory student advice severely hamstrung by my inability to access any student records, proofread the orientation manual, read several chapters of The Italian, because Gothic gloom felt appropriate, and then gave up and buggered off home, where I've been happily catching up on email and repulsing the cat for several hours. (He will try to sit on my wrists while I'm typing).

On the upside, I did the usual wander out into my courtyard when I got back, because green things and vaguely druidic impulses, and was reminded about my pomegranate. I have a small pomegranate tree in a pot. Thusly:

Photo0122

(the slightly demented beadwork hoopoe in the lemon tree pot is courtesy of Claire, following a wistful conversation we had about our common nostalgia for the highveld, specifically its thunderstorms and hoopoes on the lawn).

I grew this pomegranate myself, from seed. More accurately, about five years ago I bought a pack of pomegranate seeds to put on salad, and forgot about them, and they Went Feral in the back of the 'fridge. (I do this really rather a lot more than I should, and really miss having a composter in my new place to absorb the resulting ... compost). As I was throwing them out (imagine me cowing feral pomegranate seeds with a chair and whip and the sheer power of my gaze), I thought vaguely, hmmm, wonder if those'll grow? And in a spirit of scientific enquiry, dumped them into the vegetable box in a conveniently bare corner where the green pepper died (I can't grow peppers), covered them over with nice rich compost, and promptly forgot about them. Some undefined length of time later, I suddenly had a tiny forest of baby pomegranates under the tomatoes, growing promiscuously cheek by jowl and being shiny and glossy and bizarrely happy in a miniature sort of way. I thinned them, and planted them out into multitudinous pots as they grew, and gave them away to pretty much anyone I could think of, and ended up with one, growing like gangbusters. It's now approximately at shoulder height to me and is still green and glossy and weirdly happy.

A couple of weeks ago, I was patting the pomegranate in a vaguely encouraging fashion and suddenly realised that our current summer temperatures are having their inevitable effect, and it was fruiting. It has three or four little tiny mini pomegranate babies, all red and cheerful.

Photo0127

I did that, my very own self. I made that tree, or at least encouraged it, and now it's making babies. I feel like a grandmother.

My car music system has emerged from the thickets of Davids (Bowie and Byrne) and is now meandering amiably through Death Cab For Cutie, for whose wistful alt effusions I cherish something of an affection. My subject line is from "No Sunlight", which is an indecently catchy thing given how bleak its lyrics are. It's apparently a Wistful Indie Thing about sunlight: you have some, and then you don't. (If you're Belle & Sebastian you have rain instead).
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.

Photo0100

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)
I have just put my mother onto the plane back to the UK, and my house is curiously empty. Save for elevated levels of both Earl Grey and Bombay Sapphire, because she knows me well and had laid in both for when I visited her at her house-sit. In retaliation I sent her back to the UK with the jar of Milo, of which she is fond, and which otherwise will sit in its jar and solidify until she's back next year, necessitating her chipping it out in chunks with a butter knife. I note for posterity and with considerable pleasure that my mother is of the ilk with whom I can cheerfully participate in a restrained and genteel fangirl session about Benedict Cumberbatch. She also during her visit made a new loose cover for my sofa and re-upholstered six dining room chairs. I like my mother. She can stay any time. Is it ridiculous that at my advanced stage of adulthood, or at least "adulthood", I still miss her when she's gone?

I have been navigating an extended session of post-'flu exhaustion, which caused my doctor to put me off work for all of last week, which was rather pleasant. It's usually a good indicator that I need the rest when she gives me that stern look and an injunction to book myself off regardless of my work commitments, and my desperate sense of "oh god yes please" completely outweighs the randomised guilt. She also gave me an antibiotic to hit the sinus infection, which was less successful: (a) I still have the bloody sinus headache, I wake up with it every morning and have done now for about ten days, and (b) the antibiotic gave me the most ungodly side effects, namely nausea, sleepiness and the general affect of one who lives on another planet entirely and is only reluctantly visiting this one in partially-manifested physical form. Has anyone else had a run-in with Moxibay, or am I entirely idiosyncratic in my response?

I am, however, definitely on an upward trajectory in terms of energy and the ability to, you know, actually achieve anything useful, which means, calloo callay, the depression cloud is lifting. And next week is the mid-term vac and I'm off work for two days of it, so yay! I propose to celebrate the leave by buying a Welsh dresser and planting tomatoes. (Not in the Welsh dresser).

(The nice psychologist on campus, incidentally, has confirmed that my spirit-possessed student is indeed psychotic. It's probably fortuitous, under the circumstances, that he spent the trip down to the health centre lying peaceably on my back seat mumbling to himself rather than giving vent to any violent directions from the voices in his head.)

and went on in sunlight

Wednesday, 16 July 2014 04:45 pm
freckles_and_doubt: (South Park Self)
It is fortunate, in fact, that fanfic doesn't occupy actual physical space, because if it did the amount of it that I read would not improve the bookshelf crisis at all, in any way. Today's fanfic rec (still Sherlock) is for something that has at least partially satisfied my loathing of His Last Vow, which I still think was a terrible, scattered, ill-thought-out cobbling together of psychological inconsistency and gaping plot holes only partially redeemed by its, as always, brilliant acting and production. PlaidAdder's Sherlock fic is bloody marvellous, but particularly Law Like Love, because it explicitly sets out to fix some of the more egregious inconsistencies of that horribly-scripted episode. It also has a kick-butt Harry Watson, a fascinating reversed-time narrative frame, and an obsession with W H Auden. Highly, highly recommended. As is anything in that series, actually, but especially The Young Men Carbuncular, which is an extremely entertaining Doyle/TS Eliot pastiche which should groove the ploons of any fans of "The Waste Land". And she does a similar rescue of the Donna Noble problem in her Sherlock/Doctor Who crossover. PlaidAdder doesn't have much truck with Moffat's horrible scripting. We like her.

Because I happened to snap him perched precariously in the front window, celebrating his newly-developed ability to both exit and re-enter via it, have a random Hobbit. I cannot acquit him of being Self-Consciously Posed.

Photo0087

I am quoting "The Waste Land" in my subject line, because several literature degrees have to be good for something and besides, I've always cherished a certain baffled affection for the fractured suggestiveness of its images.

We Can Do It!

Tuesday, 15 July 2014 05:44 pm
freckles_and_doubt: (South Park Self)
It may have come to the attention of my more alert and observant readers that I am a happy, geeky bookworm and have quite a lot of books. Really, rather a lot. Enough that, despite the fact that I moved into this house with eight tall bookshelves courtesy of a munificent Evil Landlord and subsequently imported another courtesy of Pam, I still had seven boxes of unshelved books piled in my study. This, too, after a relatively ruthless weeding process chronicled in these very pages. As far as books go, I am unashamed to admit that I have a Problem.

Fortunately, for such problems there are benevolent friends like Jo, who enjoys, by her own admission, a Project, and who possesses not only power tools and the will to use them, but considerably above basic cabinet-making expertise, an actuary's numerical precision, and more organisational skill and energy than is strictly fair or necessary in this imperfect world. As a result of which there has been, of an evening over the last few weeks, a sort of blur of activity in my living room, resulting in piles of planks, a small cloud of sawdust, and a satisfying and slightly bewildering tendency for bookshelves to arise, phoenix-like, from the whirlwind at a rate a smidgen in excess of half a bookshelf per hour. It has also revealed my own predilection for Handmaidening, if there is such a word: I derive an unholy kick out of facilitating efficient systems, and if Jo behind a power drill is anything, it's an efficient system. By the end of the process the balletic precision of our movements would bring a tear to the eye of efficiency experts. It really makes things go a lot faster if there's someone anticipating the process to hand the cabinet-maker tools, nails, planks, pencils, screws, gin-and-tonic, and that vital bit of stuck-together wood she was using to space shelves, so that she doesn't have to stand up or climb down ladders every two minutes.

It made, I have to say, my feminist wossnames incredibly happy. Not just the self-determination of bookshelf building - and I will look at those shelves for ever after with nostalgic joy because Jo built them and I helped - but something about efficient women with power tools. All Rosie the Riveter. Definitely speaking to that bit of me that's only mostly heterosexual, possibly because the patriarchy.

So I have five spanky new bookshelves, and my books are Housed, dammit, and all we have to do now is work through the mutual and perfectly symmetrical guilt feelings that have arisen because Jo feels bad about me paying for the materials for her Project, and I feel bad about all the time she's spent building me bookshelves. We freely admit that these are entirely irrational feelings that have nothing whatsoever to do with the considerable pleasures and achievements of the process, and that the two impulses do cancel each other out. The gin definitely helps.

And, look! Bookshelves! All full of books! (or, to be perfectly accurate, books and DVDs. I have a DVD problem too. Memo to self: Go digital. But not too digital. Because some things need to be tangible, and you can't help friends make furniture for your Kindle files.)

Photo0094
freckles_and_doubt: (South Park Self)
I am in the sweary stage of paper writing. It's fighting me; I'm wrestling it, it's largely winning. I hate it, and myself, and my writing, and African fairy-tale film, about equally. I am horribly bored by the need to finish the damned thing (it's now nearly a week after deadline) and the fact that I can't permit myself much in the way of socialising or happy domestic fuffling until it's bloody well done. Alarmingly enough, this is all familiar and status quo: never underestimate the extent to which the relationship academics have with academia is basically abusive. I'll finish it. This too will pass. Until then, swearing, and loathing, and hedgehoggy hermitting. But especially the swearing.

I did, however, track down the volume on African folklore which I'd randomly packed at the bottom of a whole box of Pratchett and Moorcock. This has led me, as a knock-on effect, to throw out more books, as I had to unpack and repack a bunch of them. I'm still obscurely enjoying the catharsis of the clear-out.

Photo0056 Photo0046

There should be an almost complete Elric in the Moorcock, and a couple of other series as well - Corum, and Dorian Hawkmoon? I have kept the Jerry Cornelius ones, because postmodernism, and the Dancers at the End of Time ones, because I don't do hallucinogenic drugs and a girl has to have some substitutes. I am forced to admit that I've pretty much outgrown Elric, I haven't read them since undergrad. The John C. Wright are buying it because the frothing homophobia of the writer's online presence is having the Orson Effect, namely an inability to read his fiction without a sort of Pavlovian response of annoyance and distaste. Also, he's a sexist sod, frankly; I really like some of what the Orphans series does, but its ideological irritations are now outweighing its enjoyments. Never trust a writer who feels impelled to spank almost all of his women.  I have retained only the remnants of my Heinlein collection which are (a) genre classics and (b) I am able to read without actually throwing the book across the room, which in the event turns out not to be many of them. I've turfed out the young adult stuff, because frankly there's better y.a. sf out there, but they're actually fun and comparatively inoffensive - Pam, you might like them for the young'uns? The Michael Scott Rohan are swashbucklery fun, but I've kept Scott Lynch for that.

If anyone wants to appropriate any of these, please let me know! So far only the Kay and the Aldiss have been bagsed from the previous group.
freckles_and_doubt: (South Park Self)
I let Hobbit out of the house over the weekend, after a full week of being incarcerated in what, according to his reaction, was a medieval torture chamber with frills on. Of course, I had started trying to encourage him to go outside a couple of days earlier, to which he returned, in the immortal words of Bertie Wooster, a polite nolle prosequi: apparently a week indoors had inculcated in him the fixed belief that the rest of the universe had ceased to exist, and he was somewhat alarmed at the revelation to the contrary. He certainly retired under the dining room table, alarmed, every time I opened the courtyard door. However, he has apparently come to terms with the continued existence of the world at large, and once I opened the bathroom window stopped badgering me all night, which means I've had a blissful few days of actually sleeping through the night. Honestly, it's like having babies.

It also took, though, approximately an hour and a half before the neighbourhood's Feline Reception Committee arrived to look over the latest immigrant, and there has been a fairly civilised refrain of growling issuing from the back garden at intervals over the last few days. There's an excessively beautiful Siamese in the posse, and a black-and-white thing who comes over all suave but whom I darkly suspect is a thug. Today I arrived home to the following joyous scene:

Photo0050

That's clearly a game of Cat Chess. They sat like that, unmoving and possibly unblinking, for about ten minutes while I took multiple pictures and then pottered around the kitchen making tea. I suspect that they were engaged in a territorial and diplomatic discussion not unlike the Treaty of Versailles. Let's hope diplomacy is sufficient and it doesn't come to all-out war, I've just got used to sleeping through the night. But I have to say, Hobbit looks somewhat cornered. I don't think negotiations are going his way at all.

I am pretty much moved in now, except for the L-space explosion which represents my book collection: it's down to 11 unshelved boxes, but has temporarily halted there while I wrestle with this paper from behind the rampart of books on African folklore, books on African film, cups of tea and emergency chocolate supplies on my desk. Further unpacking of books may occur because I can't find my nice new Encyclopedia of African Folklore, which I really need to refer to. I could swear it was with the other tomes, but I must have stuck it into a box somewhere. One of the 11 boxes. Which I will now have to unpack and then repack. Aargh.

I am, book, paper and cat crises notwithstanding, finding myself extremely happy in this house.

The subject line is, of course, T. S. Eliot - more specifically, the slightly nasty racism of Growltiger.

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