Mom came up this weekend to go to one of the local art museums, which has an exhibition of paintings from a collection that focuses on the late 19th and early 20th centuries, including a lot of Impressionists. Alas, I am just not an Impressionist type of person. The painting I liked best was Alfred Sisley's Snow at Louveciennes, and that was because it reminded me of tramping through the snow in Arashiyama, Kyoto--the small hilly village, the snow, the feeling of cold in the air.
I pretty much spent the time Mom wasn't here playing Skyrim, and have come up with an actual motivation for Murderface 2.0! That shall wait for a real post. Let's just say it's petty and completely disproportionate to his actions.
I have discovered a brand of lactose-free yogurt and have been eating yogurt pretty steadily over the past few days thanks to antibiotic side effects, the less said about which the better. But plain yogurt with maple syrup is rather addictive.
And to end it all with, I now have another sore throat, which is much more obviously a respiratory-related thing than last week's was, and I am expecting to come down with a cold Any Moment Now, given my general run-down feeling right now. Alas. (I may be continuing to play Skyrim, in that case...)
drawesome is "a friendly community of fan-artists who enjoy drawing. We hope to inspire and motivate each other to practice and hone our drawing skills in a stress-free, supportive environment."
comicsroundtable is "a fannish community for comics discussion, reviews, and general chat."
Neat Twitter thread on Wonder Woman costuming, written by a costume designer.
"Wonder Woman Actor Says Chief Is Actually a Demi-God". [io9]
"Dungeons & Dragons Wouldn’t Be What It Is Today Without These Women".
"More Murderbot Adventures from Martha Wells". [Tor.com]
"Disney Princesses Reimagined Years Later As Queens By Daughters And Mothers". "The main idea was to portray the relationship between a true mother and daughter as the same princesses a generation apart to show the similarities, the features that are alike." (Related ~10-minute YouTube video, which I haven't watched.)
"Report Finds Diverse Movies Outperform White Ones At Every Level".
"Declawing: A new study shows we can’t look the other way".
"Host a Silent Reading Party in 7 Easy Steps". [Book Riot]
"Why Honeybees Are The Wrong Problem To Solve".
"Invention Saves Wildlife From Drowning in Swimming Pools".
"Sitka artist designs slinky dress from 20,000 salmon bones".
"How I use comic books as a learning tool in my social studies classroom". [March 2016]
On Atlas Obscura:
--"Most of the World’s Bread Clips Are Made by a Single Company".
--"Jupiter Is Even Weirder Than We Thought".
--"Laurel Dinosaur Park: This dig site outside D.C. is known for its exceptionally high density of baby dinosaur fossils and dinosaur eggs".
--"The Wartime Spies Who Used Knitting as an Espionage Tool".
"Patty Jenkins is Co-Writing ‘Wonder Woman 2’ With Geoff Johns".
"5 'Wonder Woman' Amazons On The Power Of Their All-Woman Army".
"Native Actor Eugene Brave Rock Talks About His Role in Wonder Woman: As Wonder Woman smashes records, Native Actor Eugene Brave Rock talks about a whirlwind week and being gifted a headdress".
"The Revolution Won’t Be Saved By Wonder Woman — And That’s Okay". [The Establishment] "Wonder Woman is a stand-in for so many women in some position of vulnerable visibility who feel unfairly scrutinized for their ideological imperfections; she, and her at times tortured relationship with the women’s movement that adopted her as a mascot, provide a helpful case study for understanding the consequences of the demands we place on each other."
"I'm A Teenager And I Don't Like Young Adult Novels. Here's Why".
"“Boys By Girls” Is Using the Female Gaze to Redefine Modern Masculinity".
While looking up some planting info for plants we have, I learned about the existence of a couple of plant types that we're not likely to ever have, but which look really neat: arisaema (cobra lily) and tacca (bat plant).
"10+ Of The Oldest Color Photos Showing What The World Looked Like 100 Years Ago".
"Disney Illustrator Imagines A Life With A Pet Octopus, And It’s Just Too Adorable (10+ Pics)".
"Writing Advice to My Students That Would Also Have Been Good Sex Advice for My High School Boyfriends". [McSweeney's]
"These “Galaxy” Flowers Hold Entire Universes On Their Petals".
"You", via a locked post where the link was described as "How ordinary (often well-meaning) people make life much harder than it needs to be for people with disabilities."
"Adhesive Foot Pads Let You Ditch the Flip Flops with Flexible Feet Protection". [Article links to active Kickstarter.]
"Animated GIFs Reveal Differences Between Subway Maps and Their Actual Geography".
"Oh, Lovely: The Tick That Gives People Meat Allergies Is Spreading".
"World's first water park for people with disabilities is literally the coolest thing ever created". (Now, if only it weren't called "Inspiration Island".)
"Brutally Honest Freelance Writer Bios". [McSweeney's]
"The Lunar Sea: The moon influences life in a surprising and subtle way: with its light".
Basically: a girl who is distantly related to the king skips out of a banquet early because she gets anxious at social functions, and then EVERYONE IS POISONED and she inherits the throne. Immediately, she has to deal with figuring out who to trust, royal privilege, incredibly complicated politics, new places, new friends, and it's just really really good.
Give me all of the introverted girls who will just get the job done because someone has to.
ANYWAY, so: girls who are smart, girls who are good at a variety of things, girls who learn to cooperate, enemies to lovers, actual literal chemistry, soooooooo much politics, examination of class distinctions, EVERYTHING. Highly recommend.
Okay, so the really important thing about this book is that LOIS AND "SmallvilleGuy" FINALLY MEET AND IT IS INCREDIBLE. They are so dorky and cute, and I love them. We also get to meet Martha and Jonathan, and basically there is REALLY GOOD FAMILY in this book, which I love.
There is also REALLY GOOD FRIEND in this book, with Lois relying on her Scoop team. And another inclusion/reveal that's so cool I don't want to scuttle it for you, but is, uh, definitely something a new series of books could cover, that's for sure.
ANYWAY, this book also has a perfect ending. JUST. PERFECT. My heart.
Highly, highly recommended.
Theoretically. The air is about the temperature of boiling right now and the idea of actually setting foot on zoo grounds is not that tempting, really, even with the possibility of being personally disdained.
My hc_bingo card ( is under this cut )
At first glance I didn't see a whole lot of prompts there that work well with my usual-these-years fandom/ship, but on looking again, there are a few that I could theoretically do interesting things with, or that at least can be made to match WsIP that I expect to be on the shorter side if/when I can finish them. And my monofannishness aside, I do always hope that these challenges will twig something in my brain and let me write something new.
(Is this my first time getting an hc_bingo card that doesn't have one of the soulbond prompts? I haven't gone and checked to see if it's literally the first time, but the card generator has traditionally been very keen on giving me "unintended soulbond" and/or "unintended side effects of planned soulbond" [or whatever the exact phrasings are]. I always kinda meant to write the former for Warehouse 13; it could even happen someday. It's pretty perfect.)
And my seasonofkink card and Newsflesh-specific (inherently NSFW) notes ( are under THIS cut )
--To further illustrate how my reading is (not) going lately, seananmcguire's new novella came out a week ago and I haven't read it yet. ;_; I've at least been keeping up with some graphic novels from the library, but that's about it.
--The adorable annual we're planting that I couldn't remember for the life of me is Hawaii Blue ageratum, AKA "floss flower". *charmed* Look how cute it is!
--A happy twofold discovery: while rummaging for something else, I found a small stash of Toronto transit tokens that we'd clearly forgotten about, and I was briefly sad because I'd had the impression that the Presto system rollout in Toronto was far enough along that tokens might not be usable anymore. (Horrifying thought, since the Presto rollout sounds like a clusterfuck in all kinds of ways--which strikes me as extra embarrassing when, as far as I can tell, Presto works fairly well in Ottawa, and unless I'm wrong about that, clearly it can be fine.) But I checked the TTC site, and the header on the "fares and passes" section says "Last year’s tickets and tokens are still valid. Customers paying with tickets and tokens do not need to deposit ten cents." [Emphasis theirs.] So we'll see about using our stash up.
--Related: one of the infinite things I love about having Claudia and Jinksy is that it's much less heartbreaking to come home from Toronto now that we have sweet, soft kitties waiting for us, but the flip side is that I preemptively miss them. I'd cling to them, but they don't like that. ^^;
(That said, Jinksy's currently purring on my lap. *^^*)
Remember that hilarious story about the Parkdale gentrifiers? Did you think that after Jesse Brown tweeted the Parkdale Tinies that the story couldn't possibly get any funnier?
How long can Toronto keep a thing going, you might wonder. Surely not this long...
"Back when I was in academia and enamoured by writers like Jacques Derrida and Judith Butler, I was particularly in to the idea of origins, and where exactly we can trace origins back to."Oh, just read the whole thing, trust me.
"My mum emigrated to the UK in 1939 from Germany. Yes, that’s right, she was a Jew, or at least somewhat Jewish."
"[My counsellor] then proceeded to give me a lecture on cell biology, including how many bookshelves it would take to hold all the information contained in a single human cell. The lesson being, we are endlessly complex beings, and attempting to oversimplify both ourselves and the world is foolish."
"I did try to clean myself up at one point, attending a 10-day silent retreat in Southern Thailand. But the switch from partying on a Thai beach to sitting quietly for 12 hours a day in a Thai monastery was too dramatic, and I only lasted 5 days before I was back to Bangkok and their opiated grass."
"So let me explain what really went down during our reno from hell. Not that my wife mis-represented the facts – for the most part, she didn’t. But a) she was at home looking after our newborn for most of the year of our reno, so doesn’t know first-hand what really went on; b) she was constrained by a word limit of 4000 words; and c) she was working closely with an editor at Toronto Life, who clearly had his own agenda that overwhelmed her own."
"I had concerns about how I would come across in the piece, but I was prepared to put my ego aside for the sake of a good story and in support of my wife’s career. "
"Looking back on that telephone conversation now, I realize that Malcolm never did assure me that he would look out for my wife’s best interests."
"Although I could see the literary merit of these additions, a mean-spiritedness was entering into the article that was not in the original draft."
"I also didn’t like the photo because in reality my wife is much more attractive than she appears in that photo."
"Criticisms of capitalism presented by the bourgeoisie are nearly always duplicitous, masquerading as in solidarity with the proletariat while cutting off real protest at the knees. And this was exactly what was going on here. By seeming to sympathize with the downtrodden, Malcolm was hoping to humanize us just enough to avoid a revolution, while dehumanizing us enough to garner clicks."
"We could have called an ambulance, I guess, but that, in my mind, would have been a gross invasion of his privacy."
"My wife does, however, say that we were ‘a young family without a lot of money’ and whether this is true or not depends on what you consider ‘money.’"
"[O]n the one hand yes, I made some bad decisions. And yet we came out ahead. Was this luck? Or strategy?"
"It’s better to move forward without all the answers in place than to not move forward at all, an assumption best expressed in this quote attributed to Goethe..."
"His gift substantially changed my life, and I show my gratitude by honoring his generosity as best I can. I could have snorted $100,000 of cocaine, but instead used it to prepare myself, however tangentially, for a career in which I feel I make a positive difference."
Bonus: Here is his Twitter.
Anyway, FIREWORKS is about a girl who is "the best friend", only she gets thrust into the spotlight...literally. It's 1997 and for every boy band there must be a girl group, and our MC auditions accidentally and gets in, and everything goes off the rails. It's poverty and worrying about the future and friends who don't quite get it and friends who do...and a cute guy, because, you know, we're not made of stone.
I really enjoyed reading it. Katie has another book out this fall (TOP TEN), and I'm super glad because ALL OF KATIE'S WORDS IN MY BRAIN, YES.
Given that I'm allergic to a cousin of this AB* and that the bad effect is that it slows the elimination of it from the body, it's very much not worth risking it, especially as the last bad AB reaction I had kept me out of work for a very unhappy week. Dammit, it smells so good, too.
* both doc and pharmacist are well aware, and I have been given strict instructions to keep an eye on certain symptoms and phone immediately if they show up.
eta: and of course the library cafe isn't carrying the usual salads and sushi since it's summer. so i have a thing of instant oatmeal for lunch. I also brought cheese sticks, so it's not all I'm having, and we start our conversational Italian class tonight through campus' extended ed program, so we'll be eating dinner early. It's just Not Satisfying when I had my heart set on black bean chicken with pineapple sauce. Bah.
The Sword of Winter, by Marta Randall. In the cold and dangerous land of Cherek, emerging from an era of magic and confronted by technological advancements, Lord Gambin of Jentesi lies dying and chaos reigns.
A Rumor of Gems, by Ellen Steiber. Enter the port city of Arcato: an old and magical town set somewhere in our modern world, a town where gemstones have begun to mysteriously appear . . . gemstones whose mystical powers aren't mere myth or legend but frighteningly real, casting their spells for good and ill.
Travel Light, by Naomi Mitchison. The story of Halla, a girl born to a king but cast out onto the hills to die. She lives among bears; she lives among dragons. But the time of dragons is passing, and Odin All-Father offers Halla a choice: Will she stay dragonish and hoard wealth and possessions, or will she travel light?
Nemesis, by Louise Cooper. Princess Anghara had no place in the Forbidden Tower, and no business tampering with its secrets. But she did, and now the seven demons are loose and her world is cursed, prey to the wrath of the Earth Goddess.
Racing the Dark, by Alaya Dawn Johnson. Lana, a teenaged girl on a nameless backwater island, finds an ominous blood-red jewel that marks her as someone with power, setting in motion events that drive her away from her family and into an apprenticeship with a mysterious one-armed witch.
My Soul to Keep, by Tananarive Due. When Jessica marries David, he is everything she wants in a family man: brilliant, attentive, ever youthful. Yet she still feels something about him is just out of reach. Soon, as people close to Jessica begin to meet violent, mysterious deaths, David makes an unimaginable confession: More than 400 years ago, he and other members of an Ethiopian sect traded their humanity so they would never die, a secret he must protect at any cost. Now, his immortal brethren have decided David must return and leave his family in Miami.
Gabriel is a mason’s apprentice in medieval England. The mason is cruel, so when a troupe of traveling Mystery players comes to town, Gabriel is delighted to briefly escape his wretched life by watching the play. Then, when the mason sadistically tries to chop off his giant mop of beautiful blonde curls that Gabriel’s lost mother told him to never cut, Gabriel flees and is taken in by the players, who whisk him away and cast him as an angel.
Gabriel assumes the man playing God is wonderful and the man playing Lucifer is terrible. But no! Garvey, who plays God, uses Gabriel to create fake, exploitative “healing” miracles which he convinces Gabriel are real. Lucie (Lucifer) is unhappy about this, but that only makes Gabriel think he must be bad.
I have no idea how old Gabriel was supposed to be. At the beginning I assumed he was around twelve, but later I decided he must be closer to ten because he was so stupid and naïve. Then he got even stupider and I wondered if he could possibly be seven or eight, or if that was way too young to be an apprentice mason. Not that young children are stupid, but the less you know about the world, the more likely you are to take everything at 100% face value, as Gabriel does.
In a totally unsurprising turn of events, Gabriel is eventually shocked to learn that people are different from the roles they play. This is exactly as anvillicious as it sounds. And while I often love books in which the reader knows more than the characters, I like it when the reason is that the characters are not privy to information or context that the reader knows, not because the characters are too stupid to pick up on incredibly obvious stuff. I don’t mean to call characters with cognitive disabilities stupid, as “intellectually disabled character fails to understand what’s going on” is a well-populated subgenre. (Which I also dislike.) I’m referring to non-disabled characters who are oblivious because they just are.
It's not that I think a child has to be stupid to be tricked by adults. Even a very bright child (or adult) could be fooled into thinking they're a miracle-worker by a clever con man. It's that the way it's written, from Gabriel's POV, makes him seem like a total idiot.
However, that’s not why I gave up on the book. The reason was the incredibly unpleasant emotional atmosphere: Gabriel smugly stupid, Garvey and the mason smugly awful, Lucie and his daughter sadly suffering (with a side of smugness, because they know the real deal.) I disliked the lot of them and did not want to be around any of them. Which is too bad, because I liked the backdrop of medieval Mystery players a lot.
The prose was good, but not good enough to make me keep reading. However, it won the Whitbread award, so my opinion may be very much in the minority.
A Little Lower Than the Angels
scruloose and I spent most of the evening outside putting in more plants. Whew. We are almost done. Current status, off the top of my head (and, okay, off the front of the handful of tags I have on my desk, although I'm basically doing the annuals from memory and phone pics, since we've been putting their tags in the soil with them).
So here's the current state of things:
Shrubs: the Sensation lilac (the one that's been around for several years now) is doing much better this year, I think; it's almost like pruning it and paying attention to the soil make a difference! Its blooms are fading and browning now, though. And the Bloomerang had quite a few blossom clusters when we planted it, but they've all died off. (Which may mean it's time to prune [deadhead?] it now, to make way for any blooms it may offer up later this summer. That's the point of Bloomerangs, after all, but it's only the poor thing's first year, and we imagine being transplanted is rough on them.)
Edibles: all but three tomato plants are now in their final containers and have their halos/ladders/cages/whatever, and those three have been repotted in larger but still temporary pots; I don't remember the exact breakdown anymore, other than "we have one Sungold, we'll have one Sweet 100 (see below), and we have...some...Lemon Boy and Chocolate plants". I opted not to get either cucamelons or lemon cucumbers. (I don't know why I feel weird not capitalizing the names of tomato varieties but am okay with "lemon cucumber".) So it's a lot of tomatoes and the Raspberry Shortcake bred-for-containers raspberry shrub.
Perennials: we don't have many, since there's just the one bed in the ground and it's not very big. It has two Etiole Violet clematis, two astilbe (one each of Fanal [dark red] and Purple Candles), two bleeding hearts (one each of Valentine [red] and White Pearl), purple Arendsii monkshood (which turns out to be wolfsbane, so we have to keep the cats away from it when they're outside, as well as from the tomatoes), and a fiery orange butterfly weed.
That bed also has two Rose Splash phyllostachya (I think this is one?), which is an annual.
Annuals: the planted annuals are almost all in four matching rectangular containers, and we still have some left to put in. The exception is that so far all but one of the few planted-so-far marigolds are in Smart Pots with tomatoes, although it's very possible there isn't actually enough room in those pots for both the fruit and the flowers. We're doing science? Anyway, the marigold varieties are Bonanza Flame (orange with red) and Taishan Orange.
Otherwise, the annuals are Persian shield, impatiens (white), coleus (three kinds--one rust-colored, one deep red with pink streaks, and one burgundy with redder streaks), calendula (not planted yet, and also not blooming yet, so I don't remember anything about it), snapdragons (a tray of a mix and a tray of a deep violet variety), salvia (a single blue and a tray of deep burgundyish purple--apparently there are a bazillion kinds of salvia, but without the tags that's all I recall), a dark silvery sort of heuchera (which is a perennial, I know, but it's in with the annuals now...), purple lobellia... And there's at least one I can't remember the name of at all, which is...a lighter but not pale purple, and rather adorable. I may be missing others too. [ETA: the one I knew I couldn't remember is Hawaii Blue ageratum ("floss flower").]
Baskets (mainly also annuals): I don't know exactly what's going on in basket 1, because for some reason plant shops don't necessarily label them. Basket 1 (bought pre-planted) has pink-and-white fuchsia and something purple (I was told, but I forget--maybe some of you will recognize it. I think it's a common one) and something pink. Basket 2, also bought pre-planted, is the purple calibrachoa-not-chupacabra, hanging in place of the wind chime we bought and had up for a day or so before we decided it was too loud and the sound carried too far for our condo corp. (I don't know the exact variety, but it's something like this.) And basket 3, which we planted, has small purple Shadow Dancers fuchsia, lemon balm, and lemon thyme.
Still to do: buy more soil (not sure if we'll get potting soil or do another mix of black earth, rotted sheep manure, and peat moss [IIRC]); trade a Chocolate cherry tomato plant for one of ginnikin and Kas' Sweet 100 plants and plant the latter; if wildpear doesn't take both the unplanted Chocolate and unplanted Lemon Boy, plant whichever remains (although, happily, it sounds like she'll give them both a home); plant the remaining annuals in containers.
And in the fall I plan to buy heaps of bulbs and plant them all over the place (within the realm of possibility, which isn't actually that large), since wildpear says bulbs and perennials will cheerfully grow around each other, since they sprout and bloom at fairly different times. Mostly crocuses and daffodils, I imagine; basic bright things that'll lift my heart in spring. Heaven knowns Nova Scotian springs need it.