edenfalling: stylized black-and-white line art of a sunset over water (Default)
I've been thinking off and on about this Tumblr post about clothing presentation styles, sorted by both gender impression and level of effort.

blather about my own clothing style )

...

There was no real point to any of that, but I wanted to get my thoughts down in writing so hopefully they will stop popping up distractingly at random moments. *wry*
edenfalling: stylized black-and-white line art of a sunset over water (Default)
Today Miss Cactus introduced me to the pawpaw (Asimina triloba), the largest native North American fruit. They are apparently one of the rare temperate members of the Annonaceae, or custard apple, family; most of the related species are tropical. She has a pawpaw tree growing wild in her new backyard, and therefore has more fruit than she really knows what to do with right now. (Pawpaws don't keep or transport terribly well.)

The outside of a pawpaw fruit is sort of leathery yellow-green-brown with lots of brown spots. The inside is creamy yellow with huge black seeds, easily removed. The texture is a bit like avocado crossed with banana, ranging from relatively firm to very mooshy/squishy, and the flavor is... hmm... kind of like banana-pear with a hint of lemon, maybe? Or mango-guava-banana? Hard to describe, anyway. It's very sweet and gets cloying rather quickly; one fruit would probably be most people's limit.

It turns out that I am mildly allergic to raw pawpaws, but not terribly so -- a single Benadryl tablet was enough to mitigate the reaction, and I didn't start getting excessive phlegm/throat-closing issues until I'd eaten nearly a whole palm-sized fruit.

I don't particularly need to eat another pawpaw ever again, but I hear they make pretty good ice cream (which I would readily believe) and they can be subbed into almost any recipe in place of banana. Miss Cactus said she used a bunch in a banana bread recipe this week and it turned out well, so. :)

(no subject)

Oct. 21st, 2017 08:55 am[personal profile] skygiants
skygiants: Jadzia Dax lounging expansively by a big space window (daxanova)
After reading Ann Leckie's new book Provenance I went on Twitter and asked what you call a screwball plot if it isn't necessarily a comedy.

Like, Provenance, while frequently funny, is not a non-serious book -- it concerns itself with classism, wildly unhealthy family relationships, interstellar warmongering, fetishization of cultural artifacts, and inhumane conditions of incarceration, not to mention murder -- but the structure of the plot is very classic screwball. Misunderstandings! Mistaken identities! Brilliant[ly ill-advised] schemes colliding with each other and blowing up in everybody's face! The faint air of Yakety Sax playing frequently in the background!

Honestly it feels a lot like Ann Leckie channeling Lois McMaster Bujold, with less intense character dynamics but also fewer moments of side-eye.

Our Heroine Ingray Aughskold is the foster daughter of an elected official who has been locked in competition with her foster-brother since they were both small for the eventual goal of inheriting their mother's position. Ingray comes from a public orphanage, while her asshole abrother is the son of a wealthy family, which gives him an edge that Ingray has never quite been able to best.

CUE: Brilliant[ly ill-advised] scheme! Ingray decides to attempt to break a fellow political foster-kid, Pahlad Budrakim, out of Compassionate Removal (i.e. terrible jail) in order to learn the location of the highly important cultural artifacts which Pahlad has hypothetically stolen.

Complication: Pahlad is possibly not Pahlad, and is certainly not inclined to be cooperative.
Complication 2: The space captain who Ingray hired to get them back home is wanted for theft by an alien ambassador, who Does Not Understand Humans, and whom everyone is panicked about offending due to some Very Important Alien Treaties.
Complication 3: Meanwhile, what Ingray's mother would actually like her to be doing with her time is shepherding around some other ambassadors, human ones from a different planet, who want to do politically-motivated excavations in a local nature preserve
Complication 4: Also, someone is about to get murdered!
Complication 5: And the cop in the case has a crush on Ingray!
Complication 6: And MANY OF THE HIGHLY IMPORTANT CULTURAL ARTIFACTS HAVE DISPUTED PROVENANCE AND IT'S VERY DISTRESSING (for everyone but me, because the minute I heard that title I was like 'this had better be about cultural heritage' and LO AND BEHOLD)

((...though I did want to see a little more documented archival paperwork and process surrounding the question of the authenticity of the artifacts, but I mean, ignore me, it's good, it's fine.))

My favorite character was definitely possibly-Pahlad, with their bitter cynicism and constant challenges to everyone else to do better; wanting More Pahlad all the time was probably my biggest complaint about the book.

My other favorite character was the almost entirely useless Radch ambassador, who just did not want to be there that day. Everything about the treatment of the Radch in this book delights me. "So weird to hear this totally clueless woman speaking with the accent we're used to hearing from villains on the TV!" You definitely don't need to have read the Imperial Radch books to enjoy Provenance, but I suspect it does probably make the few Radch cameos five times funnier.

[local] Music to Cure MS

Oct. 20th, 2017 08:23 pm[personal profile] zdenka
zdenka: Miriam with a tambourine, text "I will sing." (Default)
Oh right, I should post an actual concert announcement, shouldn't I? (Note: I am not performing in this concert, merely helping out with various things as a volunteer.)

The Fifteenth Annual Concert to Cure MS will take place:

Sunday, October 22, 2017, 3-5 pm
Park Avenue Congregational Church
50 Paul Revere Rd, Arlington, MA

More information may be found at the concert website here.

It's always a great program, performed by some very talented people. As usual, there's a mix of opera, musical theater, Gilbert & Sullivan, instrumental music, and more. You can see the full program here.

This year's concert is free, though donations are encouraged. All proceeds go to the Accelerated Cure Project for Multiple Sclerosis.

Also, delicious refreshments will be sold at intermission! Including honey cake and lemon butter cookies shaped like bats, if all goes well.

Scholarly woman ends happy!

Oct. 20th, 2017 10:48 am[personal profile] heliopausa
heliopausa: (Default)

It's Vietnam Women's Day today (International Women's Day is also celebrated, but in March, as everywhere else.)  So to mark the day, here’s something about one of the many notable women in Vietnam's history.

Nguyễn Thị Duệ was born in the late sixteenth century, under the Mạc dynasty.  I don't know her parentage, but her name suggests that she was from an undistinguished family - Thị Duệ  (pronounced, roughly, tea zway) means more or less "ordinary worker's daughter".  (It's possible, though, that this was a name given to deflect unwelcome attention - a name to go unnoticed by?) 

At the age of about twenty, she adopted another name, Nguyễn Thị Du, in order to sit the mandarin entrance examination, disguised as a young man.  The name Thị still has something of a female ring to it, but the history definitely says she was disguised when so called, and women did not at that time enter the exams or serve as mandarins.  Anyway, back to the story: 


Statue of Nguyen Thi Due in temple
Statue of Nguyễn Thị Duệ in her temple in Chí Linh District of Hải Dương province.— VNS Photo Bạch Liên


Of her poetry, I have struggled with the translation of just two lines.  I like it very much, but I can't say it neatly enough in English.  Here, in fourteen words, she gives a picture of a young girl (nữ nhi) straining to just barely touch the strings (lề) used to bind together the books of her time, and predicts with certainty that the girl who can do so much will advance, first to the humble copy-card used to learn characters (thiếp), and then to take her doctorate (trạng nguyên).


Nữ nhi dù đặng có lề

Ắt là tay thiếp kém gì trạng nguyên

She who uses all means possible to just touch the book's binding
Advances to spell out the words, and to win her doctorate. 

(Not literal, but I promise you a heck of a lot closer than G****** translate.)

(no subject)

Oct. 18th, 2017 07:40 pm[personal profile] skygiants
skygiants: (wife of bath)
I didn't deliberately read up on seventeenth-century English history history in preparation for A Skinful of Shadows; it was just a fortunate coincidence that I'd just finished Aphra Behn: A Secret Life right beforehand (thanks to [personal profile] saramily, who came into possession of the book and shoved it into my hands.)

The thing about the English Civil War and everything that surrounds it is that it's remarkably difficult to pick a team, from the modern perspective. On the one side, you've got Puritans and repressive morality and NO PLAYS OR GOOD TIMES FOR ANYONE, but also democracy and egalitarianism and a rejection of the divine right of kings and the aristocracy! On the other side, you've got GLORY IN THE DIVINELY ORDAINED KING AND THE PERFECTION OF THE ESTABLISHED SOCIAL ORDER, but also people can have a good time every once in a while and make sex jokes if they feel like it.

Anyway, one fact that seems pretty certain about Aphra Behn is that she grew up during the Interregnum and wrote during the Restoration, and was very much on Team Divine Kings Are Great. Would Puritans let a woman write saucy plays for the stage? NO SIRREE, NOT AT ALL, three cheers for the monarchy and the dissolute aristocracy!

There aren't all that many facts that are certain about Aphra Behn, especially her early years -- the first several chapters of this book involve a lot of posed hypotheticals about who she might have been, how she might have got her start, and who might have recruited her into the spying business. It does seem fairly certain she was a spy: code name Astrea, Agent 160. (Me, to [personal profile] aamcnamara, after seeing Or last month: "I don't know that I buy all that Agent 160 business, there's no way that was something they did in the 1660s!" I apologize for doubting you, Liz Duffy Adams.)

Admittedly she was the kind of spy who spent most of her spy mission stuck in a hotel in Antwerp writing irritated letters back to King Charles' intelligence bureaucracy, explaining that she would happily continue with her spying mission and do all the things they wished her to do if only they would send her enough money to PAY HER DANG HOTEL BILL. (They did not.)

Besides her unpaid expense reports, most of what is known about Aphra Behn comes from her context and her publications, and the things she wrote in them -- only some of which can absolutely definitively be traced to her at all; several of her short stories and novellas are disputed, including one of the ones I found most interesting, "Love-Letters Between A Nobleman And His Sister." This early three-volume novel is extremely thinly-veiled RPF about a wildly trashy historical trial involving King Charles' illegitimate son, his best friend, the best friend's wife, and the best friend's sister-in-law. All of these people then went on to be involved in a major rebellion, which the second and third volume of "Love-Letters" cheerfully fictionalizes basically as it was happening, in the real world.

One of the first English novels ever written by a woman [if it was indeed written by Aphra Behn], and arguably the first novel written EVER, and it's basically one of Chuck Tingle's political satires. This is kind of amazing to me.

OK, but back to things we think we're fairly sure we do know about Aphra Behn! She wrote a lot about herself talking, and about men judging her for how much she talked; she wrote a lot of things that were extremely homoerotic; she also wrote a lot about impotence; she was often short on money; she cheerfully stole other people's plots, then got mad when people accused her of stealing other people's plots; she rarely wrote anything that was traditionally romantic, and most of her work seems to have an extremely wicked bite to it. She did not read Latin, which did not stop her from contributing to volumes of translations of things from Latin. She was almost certainly not a member of the nobility, but she believed in divine right, and divine order, and divine King Charles, even though it seems likely from her writing that she did not believe personally in religion, or God, and the King probably never did pay her bills. An extremely interesting and contradictory person, living in an interesting and contradictory time.

And now I think I need to go find a good biography of Nell Gwyn - she's barely relevant to this biography (Aphra Behn dedicated a play to her, but there's no other information available about their relationship) and yet Janet Todd cannot resist throwing in a couple of her favorite historical Nell Gwyn one-liners and they're all SO GOOD.

a day of less argh :)

Oct. 18th, 2017 07:47 pm[personal profile] edenfalling
edenfalling: stylized black-and-white line art of a sunset over water (Default)
I triumphed over the never-ending stack of leases, after which it was a slow-ish day. I showed two apartments and I think some of the people who went on the tour will come in tomorrow to rent an apartment, so that's nice.

I also got a raise! Only a small one, but even so. And what's nicer is that it's retroactive to June 1 (because our owner is an organized human being, really, I swear...) so I have a paper check I get to cash tomorrow. Yay unexpected extra money!

In news from my other job, today I finished one of my two tax update courses, and have registered for three live in-person continuing education classes, one of which is tomorrow night. The other two are next week, and I need to ask Miss Cactus whether she's willing to swap my Tuesday shift for her shift on either Monday or Friday, since the courses all start at 6pm and I work until 7pm on Tuesdays. (Failing that, I will ask Mom Boss if I can leave early that day.)

Continuing education requirements for tax preparers are 18 credit hours per year, allocated as follows: 13 federal tax law, 2 ethics, and 3 tax updates. You can, of course, take more than the minimum. I have currently finished 2 credits of tax law and 2 credits of tax updates. The three live courses will knock off another 9 credits of tax law, I have the second 2 credit tax update course ready to do whenever (probably Friday or Saturday), and the ethics and another 2 credits of tax law won't be too hard to knock off.

Then, of course, there are the New York state requirements, but I will deal with those in November. :)
edenfalling: stylized black-and-white line art of a sunset over water (Default)
So my work day started with two tenants coming in to say they'd locked themselves out of their bathroom, continued through twenty million leases to process, and ended with another tenant coming in literally one minute before closing to say they thought they had to fill out a form, maybe...? which was actually three forms, one of which I had to generate specially and then highlight the relevant sections because nobody ever fills it out correctly otherwise. *headdesk*

I mean, at least I will get paid for the extra twenty minutes I stayed? But holy gods, argh argh and above all, argh.

(The bathroom, incidentally, was an easy fix. All it takes is a judiciously applied paperclip! But I had to go apply the fix in person because apparently tenants are bad at comprehending verbal explanations at 9am when they really need to pee. (To be fair, I probably would be as well.))

...

On the bright side, I got a two-hour tax continuing education course finished before Mom Boss dumped the never-ending leases on me, so that's something.

Innumerable Stars reveals

Oct. 17th, 2017 01:26 am[personal profile] zdenka
zdenka: The Doors of Khazad-dum. (tolkien)
Yes, another exchange! For Tolkien fic and art. The collection is here. (And people have sneakily been adding more treats over the past couple days (sssneaking, precious!), so it might also be worth checking back this weekend to see if there's anything new.)

I have two gifts, and I love both of them:

The Road from the South (1387 words) by Anonymous
Chapters: 1/1
Fandom: The Lord of the Rings - J. R. R. Tolkien
Rating: General Audiences
Warnings: No Archive Warnings Apply
Relationships: Boromir (Son of Denethor II) & Elrond, Boromir (Son of Denethor II) & Faramir (Son of Denethor II)
Characters: Boromir (Son of Denethor II), Faramir (Son of Denethor II), Elrond Peredhel
Additional Tags: First Meetings
Summary:

Boromir hasn't truly rested since he left Gondor, and he knows that it should rightfully be Faramir on this quest, but that doesn't stop him from following the road north to Imladris.



A Better Lot (300 words) by Anonymous
Chapters: 1/1
Fandom: TOLKIEN J. R. R. - Works & Related Fandoms, The Silmarillion and other histories of Middle-Earth - J. R. R. Tolkien
Rating: General Audiences
Warnings: No Archive Warnings Apply
Relationships: Aerin/Rían of the House of Bëor, background Huor/Rían of the House of Bëor
Characters: Aerin (Tolkien), Rían of the House of Bëor
Additional Tags: Alternate Universe - Canon Divergence, Fix-It, Triple Drabble, Extra Treat
Summary:

Aerin and Rían change their stories.

heliopausa: (Default)
We have been having very heavy rains of later, in short bursts - so heavy that it seems amazing that so much could have been up there to start with.  Of course, this means floods and landslides and much loss and sadness in the mountain areas, but here in the city there's very little flooding, and blessedly no buildings collapsing that I've heard of (not that I'd expect them to, but the city is built on river delta land, not on solid rock, so it's possible, especially where people might have built their home themselves, piecemeal). 
The wetness has been a pleasure to the three quiet toads who live in our garden, at least.  They are Big, Middle and Little, and like to lurk under damp things - leaves or the edges of the old lily-bowl.  (Garden is a bit of exaggeration - there's a small paved yard, and in the corner a quadrant of earth, about a metre/four foot in radius.  Not big, but big enough for three toads.)

There was a break in the weather on Sunday, and we took advantage of it to take a walk through the back lanes, and as it happened, found ourselves passing the Water Temple complex - it's not a big complex, but one with a long history, and with two temples, and multiple side-altars and shrines.  It was marking a great day of some sort - the day wasn't in itself especially auspicious in the general calendar, so I think possibly the festival ceremonies were for particular community or family occasions, such as an upcoming marriage - there was a young couple front-and-centre in the side temple - but then again it's just over a week since the birthday/translation day of Princess Steadfast Jade, who is linked (if I've got my history and translations right) to this temple, and possibly it was just her celebration happening late.  (It may have been two different events just happening in both temples at the same time, too.)

Anyway, everything was very splendid, with big paper horses and paper elephants and slightly smaller paper boats with dragon prows, and multitudes of paper guards and attendants, some with swords and some with cymbals, and of course real people as well...  :)   Most of the horses were lined up in front of the central temple, but the side temple had one horse and one elephant and one boat; the paper attendants were too many to count (ie while behaving properly, as opposed to standing up and craning!) in both places.  In the central temple there were preparatory prayers going on when we first arrived, and then later the shaman/priest began to embody different personas, with different costumes and characteristics - the Forest Princess who dances, the General who declares, with swordplay, his determination to see justice, and so on.  Meanwhile, in the side-temple, a scholar/priest was reading and chanting and striking a wooden bell, while people sat quietly and listened. 

And here are some photos!  :)


The elephant stands proudly with eight horses in front of the central temple.  Every horse has a groom, but the sage elephant stands alone. :)





Mandarins and Generals and advisors as attendants in the side temple.  (The thing that looks like an airconditioning duct is a snake - snakes wind around through the rafters.)




Musicians and ladies-in-waiting and a Queen (?) stand in attendance on the left-hand side of the side-temple; the side-altar is like a cave because the Mother-Goddess devotion is very nature-linked, very much seen in terms of mountains and forests.





edenfalling: headshot of a raccoon, looking left (raccoon)
[personal profile] rosaxx50 said: I would love something for Karen & Foggy & Matt (or ot3!) + libel! Something about how vigilante/law/media deals with a case of libel in some way. (400 words exactly)

Note: Three months late, but look! I wrote a thing! :D Also, insofar as this has a canon setting, it's in a happy future sometime post-Defenders.

With Only Mild Complaining )

And now I will go eat lunch. :)

(no subject)

Oct. 14th, 2017 02:40 pm[personal profile] skygiants
skygiants: Mosca Mye, from the cover of Fly Trap (the fly in the butter)
I was resigned to waiting until October 17th for A Skinful of Shadows to come out in the US. However, [personal profile] izilen, horrified at both the long wait after the UK publication and the clear inferiority of the US cover, acquired a copy on my behalf and mailed it over the ocean -- after first warning me it was the darkest Frances Hardinge book yet.

Having now read it, I don't know that it's actually that much creepier than the first third of Cuckoo Song, or the bits of Lie Tree where Faith in her deepest self-loathing slithers snakelike through the island purposefully destroying everything she touches. It definitely has a higher body count -- a much higher body count -- but I mean it's a book about a.) ghosts and b.) the English Civil War so maybe that's to be expected ...?

Like many of Hardinge's books, it features:
- a ferocious underestimated girl struggling to hold onto a sense of self in a world that wishes her to have no such thing
- a recognition that the people you love and who believe that they love you will sometimes betray you, sometimes for reasons they believe are good and sometimes not
- a ruthless and terrible female antagonist whom the heroine cannot help but respect and admire
- a struggling journey up out of solitude towards a coalition built of necessity with the least likely individuals
- including an undead bear
- admittedly this is the first Hardinge book to include an undead bear
- it is also the first Hardinge book about literal ghosts, a lot of ghosts, a lot of very unpleasant and sinister ghosts but also some ghosts for whom I have a very deep affection, including the very bearlike bear.

I also have a great deal of affection for Makepeace - the illegitimate scion of a very old noble family that is quite confident it will be able to chew her up and spit her out, and finds itself repeatedly mistaken. I don't think I love her yet quite as much as Trista or Faith or Mosca, but that's what I said about Faith right after I read The Lie Tree, too, and LOOK AT ME NOW.

cat fight

Oct. 13th, 2017 10:03 pm[personal profile] edenfalling
edenfalling: stylized black-and-white line art of a sunset over water (Default)
I heard the most godawful noises coming from outside my window around 9:30pm, whereupon I went outside and discovered Wilson (my diagonal neighbors' cat) in a standoff on the porch railing with an unfamiliar tailless, all-black cat.

Wilson then dived off the railing and under Upstairs Neighbor E's bicycle, where he proceded to make continuous upset noises while the stranger prowled silently along the railing and scented my windowframe.

I attempted to see if Wilson wanted rescue, but he swiped at me. Then I attempted to shoo the stranger cat away, but it swiped at me in turn.

Wilson was very polite about the swiping -- soft paws, no claws. The stranger made me bleed in seven places.

I went inside to clean and disinfect my wounds, after which I returned to see if Wilson was feeling any better/safer. The stranger cat was gone, but Wilson was still on edge, and swiped at me even though I approached very slowly and never got within two feet of him. So I went back inside again and applied a bandaid to the one cut that hadn't stopped bleeding.

When I returned to the porch a third time, Wilson was once again feeling relaxed. He came into the foyer as I opened the door, meowed in greeting, and asked for petting. So I scratched behind his ears for a couple minutes, before he decided it was time to head upstairs and find his people.

I've heard similar noises from the porch occasionally over the past month, and now I wonder if this is an ongoing conflict between Wilson and the stranger...
zdenka: A woman touching open books, with loose pages blowing around her (book guardian)
Two exchanges I didn't sign up for, but I'm looking forward to reading them and looking at the art.

1) Crossovering, an exchange for fic and art crossovers between different fandoms: here

2) Femslash Exchange, an exchange for femslash fic and art: here

Celexa update

Oct. 12th, 2017 10:13 pm[personal profile] edenfalling
edenfalling: stylized black-and-white line art of a sunset over water (Default)
I started my increased dose of Celexa on Sunday. For whatever reason, it is not technically possible to get a 30mg pill of Celexa (or generic), so our choices were either take one-and-a-half 20mg pills, or take three 10mg pills. Splitting pills is a pain, so my doctor and I went the second route. The pills are so tiny, I always feel like I'm going to lose them in the gaps between my fingers no matter how tightly I press them together. *hands*

Anyway, I have been absurdly exhausted this week, but as always I am unsure how much of that is the medication and how much is my generally terrible sleep patterns. However, I have noticed that I've been sleeping... not badly, exactly, but more lightly/less deeply? Also having more weird dreams, or at least more weird dreams that I remember because I'm just awake/aware enough to notice them as they happen. And I am pretty sure that part is a medication side-effect.

Anyway, I am trying a new policy of going the fuck to bed by 11pm every night. I have not had great luck imposing bedtimes on myself in the past, but I think part of the problem is that my previous bedtime attempts have been more in the nature of "if you are still up at this hour, something has gone Terribly Wrong and you must initiate Emergency Sleep Protocols immediately" and by the time I've reached that point, I am so tired I can't make good decisions anymore so I just stay up even later. I figure 11pm is early enough to avoid that pitfall, and also making my cutoff happen before midnight avoids another mental pitfall of "oh well it's tomorrow already; I might as well stay up another hour." So fingers crossed, I guess.

...

Tangentially, today I failed to give blood for the second month in a row, because I am a little bit under the Red Cross's minimum acceptable hemoglobin levels -- not to the point where I'm medically anemic, but still. I wonder if that might be a medication side-effect as well, and/or if it's contributing to my tiredness. I have been having some minor gastrointestinal issues that could mean I'm not getting as many nutrients from food as usual, in which case supplements might be worth looking into...
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