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Our beloved calico, Sovay, is dead. Details on [personal profile] fairestcat's journal, here and several entries before and after.

I miss her desperately and can't seem to stop crying. Meanwhile the world we knew is ending, brutally and finally, and practically everyone is posting ... cat pictures ... as distraction from the outrage and horror. (Please don't stop doing this. Please don't link me to other distractions. Experience suggests that when I'm ready to stop feeling terrible I'll stop on my own. I don't especially want to stop crying for her just yet.)

I want to write about her and I don't know if I ever will. It's just too hard, and I couldn't stand to have done it badly.

So I'll write about one of the moments of comfort, instead. I woke up at 4 today, because the bed was too empty and still. She liked to sleep on me, you see, and whenever I woke up and rolled over she'd take a tour over to the food dish, eat a few kibbles, and then come back to see what part of me was available for lying on now. I woke up cold, and sad, and hungry, and Cat came in to sit with me, and after a bit we made tea and porridge.


2/3 C Red River cereal (or other multigrain hot cereal mix)
2/3 C steel-cut oats
1/3 C quinoa
1/3 C dried cherries, preferably unsweetened
3C water

And bring to a boil, stirring slowly.
When it boils, reduce the heat to the minimum, cover the pot, and let it simmer for 15-20 minutes
Then add

1/2 C milk
2T honey
1 t cinnamon

Stir through and give the milk a minute to get hot,

And serve with hot, strong orange pekoe tea.

Consoles two, briefly but very well.

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Like a lot of people who grew up in, well, straightened and difficult circumstances, not to mention having had a fair amount of experience of institutional food, I've spent years roundly despising the entire notion of "mixed vegetables", especially frozen mixed vegetables.

Which is a bit odd, when you consider that I'll cheerfully buy and cook with unmixed frozen vegetables: frozen peas, frozen corn, frozen spinach, frozen brussel sprouts, you name it. I live in Ottawa and I have health issues that reduce my energy a lot and I try to shop local and feed my family a lot of green (and red, and yellow) stuff, and that means we eat a fair number of frozen and canned vegetables in winter.

But until recently the very sight of one of these:

was enough to inspire a faint but definite desire to never eat anything, ever, again, except possibly buttered toast. "Sans Nom", indeed.

Friends, I was wrong. So wrong. Despite having learned decades ago not to boil things to death in heavily-salted water and wonder why they don't taste good, I had never until recently applied this knowledge to mixed frozen vegetables. I just assumed they tasted of nothing in particular, yet at the same time unpleasant, no matter what.

Last fall, with soup season closing in on me, I tentatively bought a small bag of mixed frozen carrots and green beans. I never seem to have cooking carrots handy exactly when I want them, and anyway if they're fresh I'd rather roast them, and using the baby-cut ones for cooking is, though handy as heck, kind of extravagant (or at least it makes me feel faintly guilty). And apparently frozen sliced carrots, alone, is no longer a thing you can buy, so I thought "well, we do like green beans," and went with the mixed. At worst, I figured, I could separate the two and use them in different things.

And it was awesome, and I started making vegetable soup oftener. And it was good.

So yesterday I was in The Store Formerly Known As Hartmans (btw, everyone local, they're having a VAST sale on boxed and canned staples. I brought home so many cans we had to reorganize the pantry. Beans! Baked beans! Beets! Seasoned green beans! Soup! Average outlay= $1 CDN/can.)

And I bought a huge bag of the aforementioned mixed vegetables (the exact bag pictured above) and today I spent ten minutes putting supper together and this is what we're having:

1 litre carton of beef broth (vegetable broth would obviously work as well, but we accidentally bought six-packs of beef broth twice running at Costco and with the price of beef I'm not making a lot of beef dishes, so it needs using.)
1 litre water
1 C pearl barley
1 C dry beans (Rancho Gordo Vallarta because I really need to use up my Rancho Gordos, but Great Northern or Navy would be good too. Beans are good, I tend to feel. Canned would also be good, and had I less time for the soup to simmer I'd've gone with a can of black beans or chick peas or six bean mixture —they sell it for bean salad, but I use it to liven up soups and stews— or whatever)
1/4 C dried onion flakes
2 stalks celery, chopped
2 C mixed frozen veg

About 1 Tablespoon each:
Penzeys's Northwood seasoning
2 bay leaves

I bunged it all into the pot and turned the heat to halfway between low and medium. It's simmering away cheerfully now and should be perfect by suppertime, which will be about four hours from now.

ETA: a-heh-heh-heh I now recommend using a HALF cup of beans and the same of barley, unless you, like me, want to end up a) hastily adding a second carton of broth and b) racking your brains for people to invite to supper so you're not eating this all week.

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papersky reminded me of this poem by Auden, who is seeming far too uncomfortably timely right now:

Here War Is Simple by W H Auden

Here war is simple like a monument:
A telephone is speaking to a man;
Flags on a map assert that troops were sent;
A boy brings milk in bowls. There is a plan

For living men in terror of their lives,
Who thirst at nine who were to thirst at noon,
And can be lost and are, and miss their wives,
And, unlike an idea, can die too soon.

But ideas can be true although men die,
And we can watch a thousand faces
Made active by one lie:

And maps can really point to places
Where life is evil now:
Nanking. Dachau.

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It is midnight when we arrive at our positions. The men we are relieving give us a few instructions and leave quickly, glad to get out.

It is September and the night is warm. Not a sound disturbs the quiet. Somewhere away far to our right we hear the faint sound of continuous thunder. The exertion of the trip up the line has made us sweaty and tired. We slip most of our accoutrements off and lean against the parados. We have been warned that the enemy is but a few hundred yards off, so we speak in whispers. It is perfectly still. I remember nights like this in the Laurentians. The harvest moon rides overhead.

Our sergeant, Johnson, appears around the corner of the bay, stealthily like a ghost. He gives us instructions:

"One man up on sentry duty! Keep your gun covered with the rubber sheet! No smoking!"

He hurries on to the next bay. Fry mounts the step and peers into No Man's Land. He is rested now and says that if he can only get a good pair of boots he will be happy. He has taken his boots off and stands in his stockinged feet. He shows us where his heel is cut. His boots do not fit. The sock is wet with blood. He wants to take his turn at sentry duty first so that he can rest later on. We agree.

Cleary and I sit on the firing-step and talk quietly.

"So this is war."


"Yes, just like the country back home, eh?"

We talk of the trench; how we can make it more comfortable.

We light cigarettes against orders and cup our hands around them to hide the glow. We sit thinking. Fry stands motionless with his steel helmet shoved down almost over his eyes. He leans against the parapet motionless. There is a quiet dignity about his posture. I remember what we were told at the base about falling asleep on sentry duty. I nudge his leg. He grunts.

"Asleep?" I whisper.

"No," he answers, "I'm all right."

"What do you see?"

"Nothing. Wire and posts."


"I'm all right."

The sergeant reappears after a while. We squinch our cigarettes.

"Everything OK here?"

I nod.

"Look out over there. They got the range on us. Watch out."

We light another cigarette. We continue our aimless talk.

"I wonder what St. Catherine Street looks like--"

"Same old thing, I suppose--stores, whores, theatres--"

"Like to be there just the same--"

"Me too."

We sit and puff our fags for half a minute or so.

I try to imagine what Montreal looks like. The images are murky. All that is unreality. The trench, Cleary, Fry, the moon overhead--this is real.

In his corner of the bay Fry is beginning to move from one foot to another. It is time to relieve him. He steps down and I take his place. I look into the wilderness of posts and wire in front of me.

After a while my eyes begin to water. I see the whole army of wire posts begin to move like a silent host towards me.

I blink my eyes and they halt.

I doze a little and come to with a jerk.

So this is war, I say to myself again for the hundredth time. Down on the firing-step the boys are sitting like dead men. The thunder to the right has died down. There is absolutely no sound.

I try to imagine how an action would start. I try to fancy the preliminary bombardment. I remember all the precautions one has to take to protect one's life. Fall flat on your belly, we had been told time and time again. The shriek of the shell, the instructor in trench warfare said, was no warning because the shell travelled faster than its sound. First, he had said, came the explosion of the shell--then came the shriek and then you hear the firing of the gun . . .

From the stories I heard from veterans and from newspaper reports I conjure up a picture of an imaginary action. I see myself getting the Lewis gun in position. I see it spurting darts of flame into the night. I hear the roar of battle. I feel elated. Then I try to fancy the horrors of the battle. I see Cleary, Fry, and Brown stretched out on the firing-step. They are stiff and their faces are white and set in the stillness of death. Only I remain alive.

An inaudible movement in front of me pulls me out of the dream. I look down and see Fry massaging his feet. All is still. The moon sets slowly and everything becomes dark.

The sergeant comes into the bay again and whispers to me:

"Keep your eyes open now--they might come over on a raid now that it's dark. The wire's cut over there--" He points a little to my right.

I stand staring into the darkness. Everything moves rapidly again as I stare. I look away for a moment and the illusion ceases.

Something leaps towards my face.

I jerk back, afraid.

Instinctively I feel for my rifle in the corner of the bay.

It is a rat.

It is as large as a tomcat. It is three feet away from my face and it looks steadily at me with its two staring, beady eyes. It is fat. Its long tapering tail curves away from its padded hindquarters. There is still a little light from the stars and this light shines faintly on its sleek skin. With a darting movement it disappears. I remember with a cold feeling that it was fat, and why.

Cleary taps my shoulder. It is time to be relieved.

From Generals Die In Bed by Charles Yale Harrison.

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Of Somewhat Southwestern Soup

(Quantities are kind of a judgement call, but for 3-5 people:)

Chicken broth, one box.
Chicken thighs, diced, roughly one per person, or one breast for two people or the chicken leftover from last night.
Can of black or navy beans, undrained, or a couple of cups of cooked black beans with their liquor.
Can of tomatoes, diced
Frozen corn, maybe a handful. Maybe two.
Fairly tough greens (spinach disintegrates), chopped fine, as many as you want.
Onions and garlic, dried or diced, a ridiculous amount.
Ground ancho pepper, about a tablespoon.
Cayenne pepper, about a half teaspoon.
Black pepper, about a half teaspoon.
Oregano, about a teaspoon.
Cumin, at least a tablespoon.
Salt, maybe, carefully.
Tortilla chips, or corn tortillas, or flour tortillas.

Combine everything but the tortillas/chips, simmer for an hour. Longer if you want.

Pour over tortillas/chips.
You can also add:
Grated cheese, on top of the tortilla chips.
Cilantro, diced, on the chips.
Green onions, on the chips.
Toasted cumin seeds, on the chips.
Ground chipotle pepper, if you want hotter smokier soup.
Cooked rice, instead of tortillas/chips.
Veggie broth instead of chicken and skip the meat.

There are lots of ways to make this fancier, but I tend to end up making it quickly, on impulse, usually because someone's sick or in pain or just out of cope.

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So, I test rode The Mixed Tape.

It fits like a dream and the handling makes me grin.

Reader, I bought it.

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So, I love love love Matilda my 3-speed Kunstadt Glebe, but this, the third summer of our life together, I'm running up against her limitations quite a lot: I need more gears, she's heavy (I don't know exactly what she weighs but it's roughly twice what [personal profile] random's Norco does, even though it's an XL, leading to my thighs becoming ever more womanly and him being deeply impressed at my ability to carry it up steps and keep up with him on trails), I had to replace the lovely seat because it starts to hurt like hell at 50 km, and the frame is on the bleeding edge of being too small for me, because while I am only 5'7" I have stupidly long legs and arms, which means the seat is so high she's kind of top-heavy and the handlebars, set as high as they'll go, are still lower than I'd prefer.

It turns out that while I'm a utility rider, and I will probably continue to waltz Matilda all over Ottawa, my natural distance is, well, medium-long. It turns out that I feel wobbly and weak and thirsty and crabby for the first 5 km of every serious ride not because I'm out of shape but because it takes me 10-15 km to get warm, loose, and happy. So there is probably some gentle touring in my future, and Matilda isn't the bike for that.

I've been looking at the MEC Mixed Tape for a while now, and now it's on sale, which MEC being MEC suggests it may be going away entirely or else being radically altered for next season. So now I need to make a call: am I buying this bike?

The main con it presents from my POV is that I love Kunstadt. I adore them. They are my bike shop forever, but they just do not have the bike I need.

However: I don't know a tonne about bikes. I'm learning — my tool kit and ability to fix minor issues is improving radically. I'm learning the lingo, but DAMN there is SO MUCH.

So, as I know there are many people here very fluent in Bike:

Is there a bike of which I am not aware which beats this bike and that you want to tell me about?

There are certain features I absolutely need in a bike, or else have decided I don't want to do without:

1) I require a step-through frame or a LOW mixte. The advantages of a diamond frame are entirely irrelevant unless you're getting me a new left hip, so please assume I'm aware of them and don't need to be told. Please also assume that I've read enough blog posts on how crap step-throughs are that I'm defensive on the topic and may bite if you take this as an invitation to air your theory, which you're certain will be new to me, about the crapness of step-throughs.

2) I require an almost entirely upright riding position. Again, unless you're an orthopedic surgeon looking for shoulders to rebuild, please don't try to convince me otherwise. My skeleton is hooped, and while conditioning can palliate this, it's going to stay hooped and throwing my weight onto my shoulders while I ride will lead to pain and injury.

3) I'm willing to put up with a lot of compromises to have an internal hub, and after serious research have concluded that the Nexus 7 is reliable, rugged, and possessed of all the ratio I expect to need anywhere in Ontario or Quebec I can forsee riding to in the next decade. It seems to be the sweet spot of affordable, effective, and reliable - the newer hubs have more gears but also more problems.,

4) I'm not willing to spend my life at the bike shop, so ruggedness and tolerance of the crappy pavement around here are more important than super low weight or incredible performance.

5) I'm not looking to pay a lot more than this - this is nearly twice what I paid for Matilda and that seemed like a lot at the time - though for the right bike I'd trawl second-hand bike ads. I love the Electra 7-is I've ridden, but they're heavy and yeowch the price.

I need it to be available in Ottawa, or at a stretch Toronto or Montreal. I'm not happy with the notion of buying a bike I have not test-ridden.

So. Anyone want to tell me about a bike I should test-ride before I go for this one?

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I've been experimenting with various basic brownie recipes to work out a recipe for a half-batch at a time (because my family has requested that I make smaller amounts of a wider variety of treats).

While I was at it, I reduced the sugar, upped the cocoa and vanilla, of which no recipe ever has enough, (so if you're one of those cooks who, like me, habitually ups the cocoa in brownie recipes: um, don't. I already did that and this really does appear to be the upper edible limit) and added fruit, nuts, and chocolate chips for maximum decadence.

Very rich, not very sweet, very dense.

Preheat oven to 350F/180C

1/4 cup melted salted butter OR unsalted butter + 1/8 t salt.
1/3 C sugar, white or brown. For a sweeter brownie, 1/2 C.
1 T vanilla
1 egg
1/4 T baking powder
1/3 C cocoa powder
1/4 C flour

In a fairly large bowl, using first a whisk and then a wooden spoon, mix the ingredients together in the order they're listed.

When no dry or white patches remain in the mixture, add (if you like)

1/4 C semi-sweet chocolate chips and
1/4 C dried cherries and
1/4 C pecans or walnuts

Spoon mixture into a well-greased small pan. Bake for 25 minutes. Let sit for 10 minutes.

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I wrote:

Between the Wars (2113 words) by MarnaNightingale
Chapters: 1/1
Fandom: Marvel Cinematic Universe
Rating: General Audiences
Warnings: No Archive Warnings Apply
Relationships: Betty Ross/Bruce Banner, Jane Foster/Thor Odinson, Pepper Potts/Tony Stark, Pepper Potts & Natasha Romanov, Sam Wilson & James Rhodes, Natasha Romanov & Nick Fury
Characters: Bruce Banner, Sam Wilson, Pepper Potts, Natasha Romanov, Thor Odinson, Jane Foster
Additional Tags: Slice of Life, Aftermaths, Rolling Remix, post Age of Ultron, pre civil war

Which was the originating fic, so I didn't remix anyone, but I was remixed three times, which was tremendous fun and they're all great! (I also didn't guess before reveals because - heh - having done my bit, I had mod privileges).

For Team SSR:

Skin in the Game (1930 words) by Sholio
Chapters: 1/1
Fandom: Marvel Cinematic Universe, The Avengers (Marvel Movies), Captain America (Movies), Iron Man (Movies)
Rating: Teen And Up Audiences
Warnings: No Archive Warnings Apply
Characters: Sam Wilson (Marvel), James "Rhodey" Rhodes, Tony Stark, Steve Rogers
Additional Tags: Friendship, Team Bonding, Not Captain America: Civil War (Movie) Compliant

Sam didn't realize Tony's offer to build him a new set of wings was going to come with quite this much baggage, emotional and otherwise.

For Team Tony Stark: (I don't know why this is still showing as Anonymous; it's Sevenofspade

DEFCON 3 (1530 words) by Anonymous
Chapters: 1/1
Fandom: Marvel Cinematic Universe
Rating: Not Rated
Warnings: Creator Chose Not To Use Archive Warnings
Characters: Natasha Romanov

For Team SHIELD:

There Is No In-Between (the Fight The Good Fight remix) (3274 words) by tielan
Chapters: 1/1
Fandom: Marvel Cinematic Universe
Rating: Not Rated
Warnings: Creator Chose Not To Use Archive Warnings
Relationships: Maria Hill & Peggy Carter, Maria Hill & Clint Barton, Maria Hill & Steve Rogers
Characters: Maria Hill, Steve Rogers, Clint Barton, Peggy Carter, Melinda May
Additional Tags: Backstory, Friendship, Parallels

We’d rather have you with us, than against us, Peggy Carter told her after Madripoor. At the time, Maria thought it foolish flattery – appreciated it, sure, but it was a sweetener, not the truth. Then again, she’s now Deputy Director of S.H.I.E.L.D, so it seems the former Director was right.

The full list of fics, writers, and writing order is here, and you should go read! The rolling remix set-up was huge fun and produced an awesome supply of fics.

And, of course, thanks one more time to [personal profile] muccamukkfor being such an awesome, patient, hardworking mod and more particularly for a wonderful beta.

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Find it here.

Quoth our clever and talented organiser and mod :

There was one original fic, and three streams of remixes, if anyone would like to make guesses as to the order of the streams and/or the authors of the fic, please have a go in comments. No prizes past bragging rights, but I would consider checking the archive numbers of the fic cheating.

Go forth, enjoy, comment!

(This is a little late due to anticipated rl on my part)

Reveals of order and authors 5 August.

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Our microwave is still at the vet, which is a vast pain but has led to some interestingly creative approaches to leftovers. Tonight's supper was inspired by leftover rice from the cottage.

Combine in a largeish saucepan:

2 -3 fillets of cod, thawed
1/2 brick of medium-firm tofu, cut into 1/2 inch chunks.
1 can coconut milk
A solid dollop of Trinidadian green seasoning
Ginger, to taste. I use the stuff that comes in a squeeze bottle, but powdered would work fine or you could grate fresh. I used about 2T and the results are noticeably gingery.
Creole-style hot sauce, to taste. I used about 1T and there's a definite bite, there.
Pinch of salt
Let simmer covered on low for about an hour, then add

3 cups leftover white rice (you could obviously make fresh rice and pour the fish and tofu in sauce over it, but I just dumped it in and broke up the chunks)

Leave covered on lowest possible heat until the rice is heated through.

It looks like chunky rice pudding, but it's flavourful and pleasantly spicy.

As we also have leftover salad from the cottage, there's supper sorted out nicely.

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Where I boated, hiked, scrambled, swam a bit, cried a little, laughed a lot, ate amazing food, spent time with fantastic people I love fiercely and met some new awesome people as well, and even played a game.

A song for Canada Day:

A song for Memorial Day (Newfoundland):

A song for Pride (Toronto):

The Parachute Club - Rise Up Dance Remix from GAT Channel on Vimeo.

And a song for Moving Day (Montreal):

ETA: and one for Independence Day (USA):

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I am sending you love and endless cups of virtual tea and platters of Peak Freans.

This is all.

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As we, in company with most of Ottawa, are as yet in no danger of growing tired of the "pick up beer, cider, and crusty buns, make a salad as big as your head, and sit around drinking while you bbq some protein" approach to life the weather has suddenly and triumphantly made possible this week.

And really, I assume you all know how to grill a sausage.

Patio Season Convinces Ottawa Woman She Doesn't Live In Desolate Arctic Hellscape Ninety Percent Of The Year.

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Officials expect a cold front to move through the area later Wednesday, which could be good news, in one sense, because it will likely raise the humidity. But it could also bring bad news in the form of storm clouds and lightning strikes.

"We are preparing for a very bad day," Allen said.

Then, his voice breaking with emotion, the fire boss who called Tuesday the "worst day" of his career, tried to sum up his feelings.

Tens of thousands have fled the city

"We successfully evacuated 88,000 people," he said. "No one is hurt and no one has passed away. I really hope that we can get to the end of this day and we can still say that."

I hope so too, sir. I hope so too.

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"... The times are inexpressibly evil. Christians pay conscious, indeed religious tribute, to Caesar and Mars; by the approval of overkill tactics, by brinkmanship, by nuclear liturgies, by racism, by support of genocide. They embrace their society with all their heart, and abandon the cross. They pay lip service to Christ and military service to the powers of death. And yet, and yet, the times are inexhaustibly good, solaced by the courage and hope of many. The truth rules, Christ is not forsaken.

In a time of death, some men—the resisters, those who work hardily for social change, those who preach and embrace the unpalatable truth—such men overcome death, their lives are bathed in the light of the resurrection, the truth has set them free. In the jaws of death, of contumely, of good and ill report, they proclaim their love of the brethren. We think of such men, in the world, in our nation, in the churches; and the stone in our breast is dissolved; we take heart once more."

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[personal profile] commodorified: You know, if it weren't for the piercings issue I feel like you'd quite enjoy getting an MRI. I mean it's basically an isolation chamber with an experimental industrial soundtrack.

benet: Oh, I have had an MRI, actually. That was my impression although, you know, I was on a looooot of Ativan

And I had already had [unpleasant medically required thing done] so anything shy of that basically seemed like a garden party

[personal profile] commodorified: legit!

well, I'm ripped on codeine to prevent coughing.

I really want to do a track called Pelvic MRI now

benet: Might need to be an installation...

[personal profile] commodorified: I like it. Can I do the voice?

benet: the voice?

[personal profile] commodorified: You know: "the next segment will be four minutes of noise"

benet: oh yeah!

[personal profile] commodorified: You can do the "hold still" parts, your voice is more menacing

benet: You know, we kid, but a convincing MRI simulator that doesn't cost a packet a go might actually be useful for anxiety

[personal profile] commodorified: Hmm with the heavy blanket of soothing and the nice breeze. I do like the breeze.

benet: Actually I was thinking for anxiety about having an MRI

[personal profile] commodorified: Oh. I find them, um, pleasingly womblike.

I'm a hopeless freak, aren't I?

benet: No, I think it makes sense.

[personal profile] commodorified: Add a lightshow on the ceiling and I'd do them for fun.

benet: I mean, my ideal bed is basically a cave.

[personal profile] commodorified: Last time I didn't get the heavy blanket or the airflow so that was more twitchy.

This time they put a weighted blanket over my pelvis so my breathing wouldn't move it. Much nicer.

benet: I cannot remember those things but I prob had the blanket.

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One of my very favourite cousins is starting his PhD in education. One of his long-term goals is to help improve how LGBT issues are handled in the Ontario and Canadian school systems.

We talk about this stuff, some, and we talk a lot about the broader education of a queer activist. About racism, and poverty/classism, and feminism, and sex education, and reproductive justice, and disability, and what I came up calling 'linked oppressions' and is now referred to as intersectionality ...

And then again about vulnerability and shame and addiction and trauma and how they can echo down the generations of a marginalised subculture as they do down the generations of a family, and about building community and sometimes about psychology and sociology and anthropology and history and art ...

At one point I was tossing a bunch of books and names at him and suggested that I ought to make him a bibliography, and then, on further pondering, that maybe I should crowdsource it a bit, because while in some ways he and I are different enough for me to be useful to him - I'm a woman, I'm twice his age, my activist and academic experiences and preoccupations are different - at heart we're just a couple of white semirural Protestant SW Ontario kids not that far off the farm or the railroad.

Plus, it might be useful to people other than him.

So, here's my invitation/request: if you identify as an academic—formally or otherwise—and/or as an activist, tell me (him, us) about the books and essays and writers/artists and works that changed you, informed you, showed you aspects of yourself and the world that changed you and changed how you went to work. Your touchstones, as it were.

Everything is welcome: Movies. Music. Poetry, prose, fiction, academic works, famous or obscure, any field, any era. I'm particularly interested in works outside your own usual interests that turned out to be extremely important to you.


1) You don't need to explain why you're recommending something, but you are very welcome to. You also don't need to provide links, but they will be appreciated.

2) All works will be assumed to be both luminous and flawed, which is to say, do not challenge other commenters on their choices, or post dispargements/anti-recs. Those can be very valuable, but not here and now.

If you're reccing something that you consider problematic but still really valuable—or even valuable because it illuminates a really problematic mindset—you're welcome to say so, absolutely. Footnoting other people's recs is not so helpful here. If you know a better work on a topic, just rec it, okay? The goal here is the broadest possible net, and we won't get that if this turns into "your fave is problematic."

3) You can make as many recs as you like, or only one. Pick things that have lasted for you, things that have held up over the years, things that you're profoundly grateful not to have missed.

4) Feel free to link this, but I'd much rather it be linked to individuals or small groups who will be very interested than to larger groups who will be largely indifferent.

ETA: also, please don't reply to comments, as I'd like people to be able to come back and edit their comments (or add to them themselves if they can't edit for whatever reason), plus it makes everything easier to read.

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So, coming out of a conversation about remixes and this and that, [personal profile] muccamukk is organizing an MCU ROLLING REMIX.

"What is a rolling remix?", you ask, possibly in Maggie Smith's best Duchess voice.


I quote Mucca:

One person writes a fic and posts it (without tags) to a locked collection on AO3.

The mod sends that fic to someone else, who remixes it in the tradition of remixes everywhere.

They post their (tagless) remix to the same locked comm.

The mod sends the remix (but NOT the previous story) to someone else, who would remix the remix.

Repeat steps three and four until we've run out of people.

Intrigued? Full rules and info at the above link, signups here.

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I like Elementary, I do. I don't claim that it's flawless but I enjoy it a lot and we watch it nigh-religiously around here.

This week's episode did, however, make me yearn for an Elementary/Rivers of London crossover.

Or, at least it caused me to ... forcefully ... quote Whispers Underground at the screen, to wit:

"and woe betide any officer who breaks the chain of evidence, for they will be sat down and have what went wrong with the O. J. Simpson murder trial explained to them at great length. With PowerPoint slides.”

I can think of things Sherlock would hate more, but not of things he would hate more which could lawfully be done to him within the confines of a police station and which would leave him no grounds for a complaint against the officers involved.

And oh, man. If the show has a big honking proceedural flaw, that's kind of it.

*looks hopefully at Tiny Fandom*

ETA: the actual PowerPoint prestentation, of course, was created by the long-suffering bastards actually responsible for custody of evidence, which is why it is 200 slides long and the audio includes, in the DNA section, the entirety of Every Sperm Is Sacred, as a low-quality .midi file, accompanied by images of cartoon sperm dancing around a crime scene.

ETA2: Joan would get dragged into sitting through it too. Her revenge would be epic.

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Remember those memes where you took a list of questions and answered them by putting your iTunes collection on random?

I always wanted to do one that did the reverse, so here it is: fifteen questions my music collection asks me regularly, to be answered by you in any way you please.

Note: This is not a lyrics quiz.
Note2: Responses are public.
Note3: Yes, please, steal this idea.

View poll: #17309

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So this is why at the tender age of 40-odd I started taking amphetamines.

Oddly, I WAS diagnosed as a child. I was also overmedicated, in retrospect—you know what, it was the 70s and from all I can find out everyone on Ritalin was getting too much of the stuff; I don't even know my exact dosage but it was 4-6 Ritalin/day—which led to a 30-year refusal to try again, and also, probably to my benefit, a life-long wariness of recreational drugs, on the grounds that if my experience of speed was so very very different from what other people described, I was not interested in finding out what happened if I took, say, psychedelics.

an actually very nice ukranian pysanka, with a technicolour bighorn sheep
This is my brain on drugs, probably. If this were a spinning .gif with the saturation hiked up and the goat sheep invoking ancient gods.

"...[G]irls’ symptoms include:

a tendency toward daydreaming
trouble following instructions
making careless mistakes on homework and tests."

Oh man, so you know how I turned into such a good proofreader? ABJECT TERROR. Which is NOT the way to develop a life skill, really.

Most of the things I'm really good at I acquired through a combination of a) hyperfocus and b) fear of being screamed at.

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As you may recall:

Senior Cat: Sovay. Calico. Rescue. Mildly psycho.

Junior Cat: Dreadful. Tuxedo. Diabetic, after a nasty bout of pancreatitis a few years ago. On a carefully restricted and timed diet.

Inevitably, they have a tumblr.


We're currently feeding Sovay in my room, on top of my dressing table. This allows us to free-feed her, which is good as she's a nibbler, and Dreadful can't get to the dressing table so he can't steal her kibble.

EXCEPT Miss Sovay has taken to expressing her distaste for kibble which is insufficiently recent or otherwise does not meet her exacting standards by pushing her food plate off of the dressing table. (or, possibly, Dreads is paying her.)

And that is why I woke up in the middle of the night last night to the sight of the back half of Dreadful, protruding from the drawer where I keep my hair product, yowling pitiably and need of rescue.

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I shall


2) Mend it.

3) Keep cabbages in it.

4) Cackle like the dork I am.

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Our basement freezes solid, so.

One kitchen door, one over-the-door hanger, some cloth tote bags, and the root vegetables are now living in style.

Took about ten minutes to do, and an embarassingly long time to think of.

Walrus bag to rainbow bag, there's: potatoes, squash, cabbage, onions, carrots.

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You are still falling down badly in women's sizes, especially in pants and shorts. I can rarely buy bottoms of any kind at MEC and the exceptions are usually stretchy skirts or bike shorts or, as with this order, long underwear.

I also cannot buy a buttoned shirt which fits over my chest. I am a size 16-18 in most clothing: in yours, because you size small, I am probably a 20.

My female friends, including those smaller than me, have similar problems. Your women's clothing simply does not accommodate a wide range of body shapes and sizes. You don't even bring in Prana's larger sizes in the clothes of theirs that you carry.

It is especially noticeable that you do not even accommodate muscular women's bodies - the wide-shouldered or strong-legged are as out-of-luck as the large-busted or wide-hipped.

One would expect that to be your core demographic.

Meanwhile, a vast range of men can find comfortable, functional, stylish clothng at your store. My partner is 6'6 and strongly built and buys clothes from you easily.

I know you have experimented with a (slightly) broader range of women's sizes in the past. I also know you didn't really promote it - I found a pair of size 18 shorts, in _one_ style, on your racks by pure chance.

I suspect that the comparative failure of the experiment was used to justify not repeating it, when had we known the clothing was there we would have wanted and bought it.

As a co-operative which is not reliant on shareholder demands for a profit in every quarter MEC is in a position to take some chances, to do what's right instead of what's immediately expedient, to really promote heath and fitness and outdoor enjoyment as something that everybody can enjoy.

You are in a position to counteract the endless messages young women, and all women, get about the narrow range of 'acceptable' body types.

You are in a position to make members like me feel truly welcomed instead of grudgingly tolerated - so long as we don't expect too many nice things. You'll take my money for gear, if I'm okay with being sent elsewhere for clothing to wear while I use it. You could change that. You could get more of my business, easily, simply by treating me as if I genuinely mattered.

And you could do it - you could expand your sizes and rethink your fits - honestly, fairly easily, for the price of - for example - a moderate reduction in available colours of the clothing you sell. The warehouse and rack space can be made. The money can be found. The expertise can be located.

I have been making these suggestions to MEC for roughly a decade, and the response is always that you're "working on it." Please don't reply to this the same way.

Because you're not. You're not working on it at all. You don't value, or possibly don't even SEE, your female members unless we're slim and fall into a very narrow range of body types.

You're not Lululemon, or Patagonia, with their blatant aim at the young and slim and pretty client who they think will make a good "brand ambassador."

You're MEC. You're supposed to be better than that. You're supposed to belong to all of us. Are you ever going to act like that's true?

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One of the relatively few exceptions we make to Operation Ethical Meat is large hams after major holidays, when they're massively discounted.

We bring them home, dice them, and put them in freezer bags of roughly 1lb each - the next one will go in 1/2 lb bags, as we're trying to reduce our meat consumption - for use as wanted. They mostly end up in pots of beans, or else cooked with greens, though they're also good for omlettes and hashes and savoury bread puddings and macaroni and cheese.

When we can dice no more, we freeze the bone with a good coating of meat on it, for soup.

Last night I put the bone in a pot along with:
1C diced celery
1C diced carrot
2 diced onions
1 box of chicken broth
1 box of water
3 T herbs du provence
2T chopped garlic
Quite a lot of black pepper
3 C dried white beans - half navy beans and half canellini in this case, as we were low on both.

It's been in the oven on 200F ever since, and will make a good supper. I will probably tweak the flavour a bit at the end - I think it could use a bit of salt, which is not always the case with ham so I leave it until the end, and maybe some dried dill to brighten things up.

ETA: added salt, dill, marjoram and half a cabbage two hours before supper and had it over boiled potatoes. It was really good.

We would have had it last night but the schedule was disrupted by the co-op run to Arnprior (if you're between Arnprior and Ottawa and want to get amazingly tasty ethical meat and fancy veggies and other stuff from the co-op, ping me for details. There is no minimum order, and if you know me well enough to read my journal you're welcome to have us hold your order in our freezer until you can come by, since we do the Ottawa delivery.

And also by Dreadful having an ... adverse reaction ... to the antibiotic he was on. All over one of the heirloom (1940s?) Hudson's Bay blankets we got for Christmas from [personal profile] random's parents.

He's been to the vet and he's fine, eating like a horse (or trying to, poor beast is on a diet) and with excellent blood sugar numbers and all. But my afternoon and early evening were hijacked by the need to deal with the devastation wreaked on the central, cream-coloured(!), section of said blanket.

"And the only reason I'm singin' you this song today is because you may know someone in a similar situation. Or you may be in a similar situation, and if you're in a situation like that ..." then here is how to clean a wool blanket that has picked up some odd stains over the years and is presently covered in, oh, let's call it mud, shall we?

You will need:

A bathtub or laundry tub
Laundry detergent
Oxygen bleach - we use oxiclean for babes, as it's unscented.
A toothbrush you can discard or a nailbrush you can clean thoroughly, after.
A spin-dryer, or access to a washing machine.
A small plastic bowl or similar.
A fairly strong light you can shine on your work.

Optional but beneficial:

Step one:

Have a restorative cup of tea and refer to the cat as "mittens" in an ominous tone, repeatedly. Consider whether there's enough of him for a hat.

Step two:

Relent because he's
so cute
and doesn't feel well. Establish him on an old, comfy towel and give him enough catnip to keep him mostly there while his guts settle.

Step three:

Lay the blanket in the tub and cover it with cold, soapy water. Let it soak for 15 minutes, and then go over it, gently dislodging with your brush anything solid that hasn't floated off already.

Drain the tub, making sure to hold the blanket up as much as possible (wet wool blankets are heavy!) so the solids go down the drain.

Step four:

Lay the blanket back in the tub, folded like ribbon candy.

Pour some oxygen bleach into the bowl. Go over each section of the blanket with the brush, treating everything that looks stained or discoloured, dipping your brush frequently into the oxygen bleach, refolding the blanket as you finish each section so you expose the next strip. (This sounds more complicated than it is: all you really need is enough of a system that you don't miss a chunk). Do both sides. I did all of the cream sections plus anywhere on the stripes I saw staining. Don't scrub hard - rub just enough to get a foam going.

Step five:

Let the blanket sit while you have a cup of tea and a stretch. You deserve it, and it gives the oxygen bleach time to work.

Step six:

Cover the blanket with as much cold water as the tub will hold and swish the blanket around as much as your hands will stand. If you're working in a laundry tub, change the water once.

Step seven:

Drain the tub and put the blanket in the spin dryer/in the washer set to "spin only". Spinning removes terrifying amounts of soap and dirt along with the water, it's amazing.

Step seven-a:

(Optional step is optional:
In a small cup, combine:
2-3 T lanolin
6 drops of bluing (if your blanket is mostly cream/white)
About 1t of detergent or your nice scented bodywash or shampoo - something to act as a binding agent for the lanolin so it won't just solidify and float when you add it to the rinsewater.
You can add a few drops of rosemary oil or clary sage or pine oil, if you like your blankets to smell woodsy.
Fill the cup with boiling water to melt the lanolin and stir vigorously.
Add this to your rinsewater.

My theory was that I had the lanolin and bluing handy, and I only wash wool blankets once every few years, so I might as well give this one the full spa treatment while I was at it.)

Step eight: Cover the blanket with, again, as much cold water as the tub will hold, add the lanolin mix from seven-a when the tub is full and you can insure it gets mixed throughout the tub - avoid pouring it directly onto the blanket. The bluing is actually super-handy this way, as I could see the mixture spread out - and swish the blanket around for as long as your hands will tolerate the cold water. If you did the lanolin thing, let it soak for fifteen minutes or so once it's been well swished, to let more lanolin settle into the fabric.

Step nine: Drain the tub, spin the blanket again, and hang it over the shower rail (spinning gets out so much water it's even safe to hang wool without worrying about it getting dragged out of shape, it's amazing) or lay it flat to dry.

Step ten: assuming you can still lift your arms, give yourself a serious pat on the back, and then wash your tools.

It was seriously hard on my hands and shoulders, but I swear, this blanket hasn't looked this good since Diefenbaker was in office.

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I have cramps, ugh.

So around noon, I hauled myself to the kitchen and loaded one of the enamelled iron pots with:

Two frozen lambshanks
A box of chicken stock
A generous slosh (1/8 C?) dried onion
1 C chopped frozen celery (We've taken to chopping all the celery when we buy it and freezing what we don't immediately use. I love raw veggies in warm weather, but can't get excited about them in January, so right now celery=cooking celery.
I would have added 1C chopped frozen carrots, but we're out.

Then I added
1T Penzeys's Lamb Seasoning and
1/2 T Maharajah curry powder,

(I could have gone with 1/2 T lamb seasoning and 2-3 T Maharajah, but I wanted richness rather than spice, this time.)

Put the lid on, turned the oven to 300F, and wandered back to my book.

At 5 I started rice with a bit of lemongrass and cilantro, and added two large handsful of wax beans to the broth around the lamb shanks. I may add a big bunch of baby spinach right at the end; it's basically cooked as soon as it hits the hot liquid, so. And I've been trying to get our vegetable consumption up.

Meanwhile, supper smells promising.

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"If you trust yourself and believe in your dreams and follow your star … you’ll still get beaten by people who spent their time working hard and learning things..." Terry Pratchett, Wee Free Men.

I've been thinking about a thing that happened recently. Which I am going to disguise the details of, because it's a very common thing that people do and I have zero desire to put it on anyone specific because, well, "because" will become clear, I hope.

So someone asked for advice on writing a story in which one of the romantic leads has a marginalised identity, which the writer does not share.

And a lot of people responded helpfully, and a lot of people responded helpfully and encouragingly, and a number of people responded reassuringly: you're a good person and a good writer, you'll be fine, just go ahead.

It's that last response that I want to talk about, because it didn't sit well with me, and it hasn't sat well with me when I've seen it before — and I've seen it a lot. But I couldn't pin it down, what was bothering me, beyond the basic fact that it nearly always seems to be offered from, and to, the side with the privilege. I had observed repeatedly that asking for or taking that particular reassurance tended to lead to bad outcomes, and I had a rough notion of what was going on, but I couldn't have told you what was specifically wrong with the reassurance, or the context of it, or what. So I chewed on it a bunch.

This is a common problem for me — I don't know if it's a common problem in general — when it comes to thinking about oppression and marginalization and privilege. It's a difficulty, not of believing people, but of believing people and then not knowing what to do next: learning that a thing is wrong doesn't necessarily gift me with an understanding of why and how it's wrong, and not knowing what is wrong with a thing makes it hard to address effectively.

In other words, a desire not to hurt people is not, in and of itself, a toolkit for not hurting people. You have to do the work of understanding what hurts, and why.

I mean, "don't do that, it hurts people" is an incredibly valuable thing to be told. I'm not saying it's not. It just doesn't give you a lot of help in avoiding the many, many related ways of hurting people that you will, probably, move on to next if you leave it at that.

I have spent quite a lot of time fighting the despair that comes with the notion that the only way to address my privilege, in areas where I have it, is by systematically harming the people I come into contact with and then apologizing and making amends until I run out of problematic behaviours or, much more probably, friends. Eventually - much more slowly than seems reasonable, looking back, but I am a slow thinker - I realized that I didn't necessarily need to be a better person: I needed to be a better-informed person. Then I moved myself out of a lot of then-ongoing conversations and did a lot of reading, and then I asked some more questions and then I did more reading, and this has been working much better. For everyone, I think.

Again, this might just be me, in which case this isn't going to be as generally helpful as I might have hoped, but one can only try.

So. The "you're a decent person" problem.

Well, the first thing is that in that context it's invalidating, while looking and sounding like validation: "Can somebody tell me how to fix my front brakes? I never learned." "Oh, sweetie, you're a good person. You'll be fine."

You won't though. Try to teach yourself how to fix brakes without doing the reading or getting the right tools or getting someone to teach you, and you'll probably crash, actually, and you may well hit and injure or kill someone. And the thing is, you know that, or you wouldn't be asking. So while responses like that sound much more supportive than "that's too complicated for you, you can't fix your own brakes", they're functionally the same: they ignore the question and in doing so they invalidate the asker's reality, while making it harder for them to learn to do the thing well.

Telling someone who is asking for pointers to acquire the tools they need to do the work they've set themselves that they can just go out there and fake it because they're a good person is obscuring the point, and profoundly unhelpful at best, dangerous at worst.

(You don't ask someone who makes their living as a mechanic to drop everything and teach you for free, mind you, unless you're really good friends who regularly do each other large favours. But you ask someone, in person or via a manual or both, paying as appropriate for that instruction.)

(Related: the "you're a good writer" problem, the shaming flipside of which is often expressed after a failure of representation as "that's just bad writing." (Allowing the person who says it the self-reassuring corollary: "I am a Good Writer, so I am safe from that and related errors.) Which isn't wrong, exactly, except for the word "just". There are a lot of kinds of good writing and a lot of kinds of bad writing and even if we all agreed on which were which, which we do not, that's a bit like telling someone that their spelling is terrible and not mentioning that there are such things as dictionaries: you're not obligated as a casual critic to mention the dictionary thing, or go find them a suitable one, but I do think you shouldn't tell them they just need to Try Harder at Being A Better Writer. You do need to Try Harder to be a better speller, or writer - or a better anything - but you also need to know what, specifically, to try harder at.

Fail Again and Fail Better is real, and true, but it's not everything. And now I am tempted to derail myself with a whole discussion of how we overvalue "originality" and the individual and the iconoclast and the autodiadactic in writing and elsewhere and how that hooks into a number of deeply messed-up paradigms and if someone else wants to write about that please do because it is outside my current scope but oh wow I want to read that. Anyway. Where was I?)

So again, what happens when someone says, oh, I don't know, "I'm thinking of hiking the West Coast Trail, with a group of friends, they want me to organize the trip, I've done these kinds of hikes in these places, got any advice?"

What doesn't happen is this: people aren't overwhelmingly inspired to respond with "well, you're strong and brave and your heart's in the right place, just head out, you'll be fine." I mean, there are people who do say and believe things like that — right up until they try it, generally, at which point the Search and Rescue people usually get involved.

Mostly, though, what happens is this: people who have done the trail will — assuming they don't take one look at your current skill and experience and fitness levels and suggest you pick a different route — post links to their entire packing lists, which will feature discussion of the number of milligrammes to be saved by removing the handle of your toothbrush (no, seriously) and in-depth comparisons of blister treatments and merino vs synthetic baselayers and extensive discussion of bears and they will show you their extensively annotated maps, and they will look at your estimated km/day and tell you where you're being unrealistic, and in general people will school the heck out of you, partly because anyone who has hiked the West Coast Trail can and will discuss the topic for hours at the drop of a (waterproof, deet-stained) hat but mostly because when someone expresses an intent to hike the West Coast you probably, even if you do not hike yourself, understand that this is an incredibly difficult undertaking which is going to require not just courage and determination but a large amount of data, a number of slightly unusual skills, some fairly specific equipment, and a lot of physical conditioning, because if you try to do this thing without knowing what you're doing and how to do it, you or your companions will get seriously hurt or quite possibly die.

So when that person asks for help and information and advice and the benefit of your experience, you give it to them. You don't try to tell them that they can do the trail in their gardening sandals, armed with good intentions and a single bottle of water.

(Originally I was using the Appalachian Trail as my example, but [personal profile] random pointed out that you can do quite a lot of the Appalachian on guts, brute force and ignorance without doing yourself or anyone else a serious injury. Most people who nope out of that trail make it out on their own feet - however bloody and bruised. Which is a different, if related, metaphorical thingy, also somewhat relevant here.)

Now, look, you say.

And it's true that if one more piece of fiction makes it into the world with some regrettable assumptions left intact it is unlikely on its own to directly cause serious, long-lasting harm to someone. Nevertheless, somebody might - very likely will - get hurt.

And the regrettable assumptions themselves? Yep. You caught me. I'm not only using car repair and hiking as a way to talk about writing, I'm using writing as a way to talk about anti-oppression work in general. The regrettable assumptions, and their perpetuations, absolutely can and do injure and kill real people.

Being a decent person in an indecent system is not enough. It's necessary, but it's not sufficient. A decent person who is easily fooled by indecent arguments is functionally indistinguishable from a bad person, alas.

That approach also leads to the assumption that all failures are failures of decency, which just isn't so. Some are, for sure. We've all encountered that situation. But many, maybe even most, are not.

Trying to introspect, or abuse, yourself - or someone else - into becoming "more decent" is missing the point, badly: that is not what "educate yourself" means. It really isn't.

I suspect that the two things - the shame-driven endless quest to root out every scrap of evil from your own heart and the reflexive reassurance of our own basic goodness that misses the point - are not only related, they're the same thing at heart: heart-searching and self-criticism, if that's all you do or if you do it without finding some kind of support for yourself, eventually bottoms out and then - because it is a basically very healthy response to realize at some point in that cycle that you're not that horrible person, you're really not - feeds directly into the mutual reassurance cycle: it feels good to tell your friends that they're good people, decent people, people who want to do the right thing. It feels good to be the sort of person who has friends like that, and says things like that to them. It really does.

And there's a time and a place for doing that, for reminding each other of our basic decency. One of the things about unlearning privilege — any kind of privilege — is that it's extremely easy to take a wrong turn and end up stuck fast in the Pit of Shame. There are excellent reasons why this is often treated with, hrmm, brisk unhelpfullness by the unprivileged, mainly that it doesn't actually help them, you, or anyone and when a privileged person has a meltdown it usually takes up a lot of space which the people they have harmed were possibly intending to use, and makes a lot of noise, which often drowns out the conversation that was going on before the meltdown started - but it's still a shame-based meltdown and shame-based meltdowns are painful and awful and destructive and just because it's not the job of the people you've harmed to walk you through it and look after you and remind you that you're valuable doesn't mean you don't deserve those things at all.

Besides, it's not like people never do valuable work from a place of deep self-loathing, but it's sporadic, unreliable, inefficient, usually ends in a spectacular flameout and is basically the least effective way of creating real positive change ever.

Shame is not a sustainable power source. Sort of like alcohol, it acts as a stimulant in the short term, but is ultimately a depressant. Also, it impairs your judgement and reflexes.

In order to make useful change, you have to a) genuinely desire it ("be a decent person") b) believe that you are capable of learning how to make that change, and that your basic motives are reliably good, which is to say, you can't be, or can't continue to be, swamped in shame and self-loathing, because it doesn't matter how much you want something if you believe yourself to be incapable of it, and then you can c) learn the information and practice the skills required.

You can't skip b), any more than you can skip a) or c). If you skip b) you end up ping-ponging uncontrollably between "I am an awful person and must fix everything about myself" and "I am a good and caring person and need fix nothing about myself." Both are bad for you without being good for much else.

If you skip c) you can end up stuck at performing decency and anti-oppressiveness to your own personal choir, at the expense of practicing them and of getting better at them, or as a way of avoiding admitting that they require work, because you've made a basic error about the correct use of decency, that is, to give you a desire for the work, not to replace it.

And that's what's wrong with responding with reassurance when somone's asked for help.

Don't be the anti-oppression version of the hiker who ends up in a Medevac helicopter, and don't encourage other people to be that person.

And carry extra water. It never gets heavier.

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If We Make It Through December, Holly Cole Warning: feels.

First Christmas, Stan Rogers Warning: SO MANY FEELS.

At Last I'm Ready For Christmas, Stan Rogers

Christmas Must Be Tonight, Blue Rodeo

Huron Carol (Wendat, English and French), Heather Dale

Les Anges Dans Nos Campagnes, Bruce Cockburn

God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen/We Three Kings, Barenaked Ladies feat. Sarah McLaughlan.

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View poll: The Worst

ETA: "stomach bug" includes viruses causing *both* kinds of digestive distress. Possibly I ought to have said "digestive system" rather than "stomach", but I am the sort of person who would rather clean up after Norovirus for a week than discuss the topic for ten minutes, sorry.

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Image: a memorial stone for the victims of the Ecole Polytechnique shooting.


Geneviève Bergeron Hélène Colgan

Nathalie Croteau Barbara Daigneault

Anne-Marie Edward Maud Haviernick

Maryse Laganière Maryse Leclair

Anne-Marie Lemay Sonia Pelletier

Michèle Richard Annie St-Arneault

Annie Turcotte Barbara Klucznik-Widajewicz


Image of a sticker. Text:
Take action on violence against women Dec 6.

Status of Women Canada has more information and ways to get involved:

Image of three red roses against a white background.
Text: #6decembre #december6
Image is a link.

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I'm doing a fairly good job of avoiding either, but man has it ever been a hard month for the planet and many who sail in her.

This song has been a potent medicine against all kinds of darkness for me since benet introduced me to it back in, oh, I don't know, 1996 or so.

So here it is, in case it can be that for you.

If there's a song you feel that way about, and you wanted to post it on your own journal and link to it, or just post it in the comments, I would like that. Perhaps we can get a whole playlist going. Can't hurt to try. Permission to link happily granted.

ETA: I cannot get youtube to disgorge the embed code. If you can, and will paste it to me, I'll swop it for the present link. Note that I know how to do this thing, I am just not being given the option either because I decline to sign in, because embed is disabled, or because I'm on the iPad; attempts at tech support are not solicited at this time.

ETA2: [personal profile] dine got me embed code, yay, which prompts me to link Blue Rodeo's Rose Coloured Glasses, which I think of as "that song we take turns singing to/about each other", and:

lexin contributes Something Inside So Strong, a song I did not know and am delighted to have heard now.

ETA3: [personal profile] white_hart: gives us Indigo Girls, Let It Be Me and [profile] angevin2 has embedded Tom Waits, Never Let Go over on LJ.

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View poll: Give the people what they want:

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I've been hearing about this whole 'tonsil removal and ice cream' thing basically forever. And it puzzles me greatly.

Admittedly, I had my tonsils removed when I was 18, and had had serious trouble with them for years, so it was a fairly complicated removal, but it took me slightly more than a week to successfully consume 2 litres of water within a 24-hour period and thus win my release from hospital and my ever-present IV, yclept Henry. (Not, sadly, "Henry IV": I would totally do that now, but this was then.)

Cold water, as well as even the most forgiving solids, took ... rather longer. There's a reason nobody tells you to put ice directly on fresh stitches, let me tell you what.

Had anyone attempted to feed me ice cream directly after the surgery they would have been exceedingly fortunate to escape having suffered no more than a paint-strippingly old-fashioned look (and only because my throat was too swollen to allow me to talk and I was too loaded on Demerol to throw a punch, at that.)


View poll: In this poll, "ice cream" can also mean frozen yoghurt, sorbet, rice dream, etc.

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So a shocking amount of writing advice I've encountered is about cutting the excess away, and this has rarely been my problem.

I tend to produce first drafts so condensed as to be downright gnomic, and then show them to friends who are kind enough to be informatively bewildered at me until I unpack.

Related to this, I always said I don't outline, at least outside my head. It occurs to me that my first drafts ARE outlines, really. Just, I outline in actual paragraphs.

Huh. That's an oddly useful insight.

In other news I forget where I recently saw someone comment that you can tell the difference between bad allergies and a cold because colds are PAINFUL, but that, sadly, is also very useful information right now.

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Would find meeting the locus genii of the Fraser river ... unnerving.

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I seem to have borked my gmail account, which at least settles the question of whether i was going to keep it or not.

HOWEVER, if you're used to finding me on gchat, you see the one serious problem, here. I can't reach any of you and it's awful.


If there is some other chat client you're on, or if you don't mind getting chatty texts from me, please leave your info here (all comments screened)

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View poll: Asking for a friend

Please speculate freely on tactical, logistical, and other considerations in comments.
No, I am not going to blow up the location in question. Not even if it's the extension on the ROM.

[1] South of Finch, East of Kipling, West of Kennedy. Amalgamation can bite me.

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You know, the best trailers are a form of benign trolling. Some of those cuts were ... VERY strategic, just sayin'.

So, you know, speculate madly, I sure intend to, but keep in mind that they want to mislead us, yeah?

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Snaffled from ars technica

Stanford researcher Mark Jacobson likes to take current thinking about renewable energy and supersize it. Rather than aiming for 50 percent renewables, like California is, he has analyzed what it would take for each of the 50 states to go fully renewable. It would apparently involve so many offshore wind turbines that hurricanes headed toward the States would be suppressed.

I feel like that's an unalloyed good, am I missing something here?

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How to remove album artwork from iTunes 12?

Because I can't seem to get it to stay deleted, which is displeasing me mightily.

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I seem to be plotting, with enthusiastic help from [personal profile] staranise, a Flashpoint/Rivers of London crossover.

I assume I'm looking at, like, five readers here, and I'll probably end up getting four of them to help beta, but the heart wants what the heart wants, which in this case seems to be Ed Lang attempting to grapple with the logistics of a situation involving fucking magic, seriously? while Peter Grant and Thomas Nightingale are stuck kibitzing via Skype and can't usefully do any actual spells.


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This was actually sort of an impulse, created while doing other things, so the quantities and times are a bit imprecise, sorry. It was sort of inspired by a jam Mel made a few years back with a piece of venison and a lot of onions that made me think that sweet and savoury was a taste thing I could get behind after all, but I wanted to do one with more fruit and no meat plus, you guys, I have a lot of dried fruit in my pantry and wanted to do something other than put it on oatmeal.

A handful of prunes, chopped smallish.
A scant handful of dried currants.
About 8 green peppercorns, cracked up in a mortar with two pieces of dried garlic (they were selling dried garlic at the Ukaranian festival this summer and you guys, it is amazeballs. Sharp and rich and just generally fun to play with.)
An enthusiastic glug of dry sherry
A slightly less enthusiastic glug of balsamic fruit vinegar.
A small glug of fruit juice to bring the liquid level up (I used cherry/cranberry, because it was sitting on the table when I was flailing about looking for ideas)

Cook it for several hours covered on very low heat (I have a tiny crockpot, which is what I used) wandering past and tasting it occasionally and when the vinegar starts to taste a bit sharp turn it off and add

One onion, carmelised.

Let it sit for a couple of hours while you do other things. Put it on stuff.

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1) Rather late: [personal profile] fairestcat and I were in Rossland with my sister and Mom for Thanksgiving proper, so we did it this weekend, having luckily been able to get Meletor and her delightful Man up here for four hectic, awesome days.

Mel and I took over the kitchen and did Interesting Things with food, ably supported by our long-suffering spouses, who variously drove us to two grocery stores, organised the table, did a million dishes, rescued the bread when the kitchen, being cold and dry, killed the first round of yeast dead, chopped things, reminded us of things, hugged us, tasted things, stirred things, consoled us when things did not go as planned and had to be rejigged on the fly, ate and praised our efforts, and did a million more dishes while we sat around dazed drinking port and high-fiving each other hysterically while exclaiming WE DID THE THING. As one does.

Mel's rabbit pilaf was the hit of the night and my savoury jam wasn't too bad either. There were two kinds of squash and [personal profile] fairestcat's amazing brussel sprouts and I did a slightly experimental pie that was nearly exactly right (condensing all the fruit worked well but I needed a fraction more liquid) and we ritually harvested the last kale from the bathtub and [personal profile] fajrdrako and [personal profile] reyl and his awesome daughter Em came and helped us eat it all and it was an excellent Thanksgiving/Harvest Festival meal.

Monday we had to take Mel and James to the airport, which was exceeding sad.

2) In other news we got a fancy dehumidifier with a HEPA filter, and the difference is shocking. I confirmed on this trip that no matter HOW clean a space is, if it's damp it WILL contain enough dust mites to make me ill, so when I got home to a week of rain we splurged. I'm rationalising it on the grounds that with the price of Advair what it is we'll save the 300 CDN back right quick, and honestly I think that's true, and that's before we compare the health effects of spending it on steroids versus spending it on not needing steroids.

My other big discovery of this year is that allergy attacks = inflammation and fluid retention/production which = increased pain. I have usually tended to have less pain and fatigue while out in the mountains and then collapse on arriving home but I guess I thought it was adrenalin followed by a crash. Nope.

When I walk into a place I react to, on what was a good pain day, I can reliably predict that my back and shoulders will start to hurt twenty to thirty minutes later. I now have a whole new theory of that whole "my knee tells me what the weather is going to do" thing.

I pass this on for what it's worth to folks with both allergies and chronic pain.

3) Pursuant to my policy that snow is not permitted before my birthday, I am snarling feebly at the extremely fluffy white rain outside today. Fortunately I have to do a bunch of cleaning, so am saved from actually going out to encounter it in person.

4) As of December 15 I will, for the first time in some time, no longer be married to a member of the OTW board. In the meantime, yes, I AM pointedly ignoring the current rash of posts on the topic, and intend to continue doing so.

I may at some point alter the policy I have had since [personal profile] fairestcat first joined the board back in whenever of publically having No Opinion Whatsoever about the OTW's workings, but frankly it's extremely restful so very likely not.

I'd like to continue to believe that you are all the kind of people who, upon reading that, will NOT feel compelled to leave me a comment designed to bait one of us into engaging. Please assist me in maintaining this innocence.

5) I have no original or useful thoughts about current world affairs, and if Afghanistan and Iraq taught me anything it's that there's really not a lot of point in arguing unless you can arrange to do so in front of policymakers anyway.

My immediate response and current plan is that I am going to call the local Red Cross and get myself back on the Disaster Relief roster and see what classes I can do. Because things are uncertain (things have always been uncertain) and when bad shit goes down in the world there is always room for more people who are willing to show up with tea and blankets and sandwiches, or organise the procurement and delivery of same, and freely give them to those in need, without qualification.

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Have commented on my post bitching about being doubled over with pain from a miserable period to point out that they do not have this problem themselves, but

A) I am aware.
B) Really not a good look, guys.

The comments in question are now screened, to avoid making specific examples of anyone.

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ISIS Sends Fruit Basket to People Who Set Fire to Peterborough Mosque

Refusing to buckle to the whims of the arsonists, community members of all creeds responded to the attack by launching a crowdfunding campaign to raise funds for repairs. By Monday morning, $48,000 had already been raised to help with the estimated $80,000 in damages.

Given their commitment to being despicable cowards, the arson suspects could not be reached for comment. At press time it is assumed they are proud to be terrorists

ETA: yes, I know the Beaverton is a satirical site. Here is the CBC story on the arson.

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Defenseless under the night
Our world in stupor lies;
Yet, dotted everywhere,
Ironic points of light
Flash out wherever the Just
Exchange their messages:
May I, composed like them
Of Eros and of dust,
Beleaguered by the same
Negation and despair,
Show an affirming flame.

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My entire extended family from Red Bay is in town, throwing a boisterous, drunken, multi-day party performance of Titus Andronicus in my pants.

Seriously, I was under the blithe impression that perimenopause caused your periods to get lighter.

Also I have a nasty cold. This has not been an overly productive week.

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He sat in a wheeled chair, waiting for dark,
And shivered in his ghastly suit of grey,
Legless, sewn short at elbow. Through the park
Voices of boys rang saddening like a hymn,
Voices of play and pleasure after day,
Till gathering sleep had mothered them from him.

* * * * *

About this time Town used to swing so gay
When glow-lamps budded in the light-blue trees,
And girls glanced lovelier as the air grew dim,—
In the old times, before he threw away his knees.
Now he will never feel again how slim
Girls' waists are, or how warm their subtle hands,
All of them touch him like some queer disease.

* * * * *

There was an artist silly for his face,
For it was younger than his youth, last year.
Now, he is old; his back will never brace;
He's lost his colour very far from here,
Poured it down shell-holes till the veins ran dry,
And half his lifetime lapsed in the hot race
And leap of purple spurted from his thigh.

* * * * *

One time he liked a blood-smear down his leg,
After the matches carried shoulder-high.
It was after football, when he'd drunk a peg,
He thought he'd better join. He wonders why.
Someone had said he'd look a god in kilts.
That's why; and maybe, too, to please his Meg,
Aye, that was it, to please the giddy jilts,
He asked to join. He didn't have to beg;
Smiling they wrote his lie: aged nineteen years.
Germans he scarcely thought of, all their guilt,
And Austria's, did not move him. And no fears
Of Fear came yet. He thought of jewelled hilts
For daggers in plaid socks; of smart salutes;
And care of arms; and leave; and pay arrears;
Esprit de corps; and hints for young recruits.
And soon, he was drafted out with drums and cheers.

* * * * *

Some cheered him home, but not as crowds cheer Goal.
Only a solemn man who brought him fruits
Thanked him; and then inquired about his soul.

* * * * *

Now, he will spend a few sick years in institutes,
And do what things the rules consider wise,
And take whatever pity they may dole.
Tonight he noticed how the women's eyes
Passed from him to the strong men that were whole.
How cold and late it is! Why don't they come
And put him into bed? Why don't they come?

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