Monday, December 31, 2012


Yes, the dizziness has gone into day 3.  Yes, I did finally let my mom take me to the doc.  No, this didn't really yield any useful result - *and* it was a horrible, miserable, unnecessary experience.  Followed by a trip to the grocery store so I could find something other than toast to eat ... and I ... apparently bought $68 worth of sandwich fixin's, dog food, and - erm - yogurt.

Never shop while dizzy in the head, fella babies.  I *still* feel like I have no food in the house.

Because, seriously - sourdough, ham, and cheese - just not doing it for my appetite right now.

Yes, I am an idiot.

Happy New Year to all.  I'll probably be in bed by nine.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Angry Sick

Day two of this (or even day three, really - if we count the attack on December 4) and I am just sick with frustration at the lost time of this weekend.  Getting NOTHING done.  Just pasted lamely to my couch.  I need a bath - but sinking that far down means getting UP again ... and up is very, very, very bad indeed, with the dizziness.  Never mind that this was a mini vacation I'd hoped to enjoy with friends, and is instead a whole lot of lost productivity and physical misery.

This all also nixes the likelihood of my going out and having fun tomorrow night; proximity to quite this much lassitude and wooziness reduces the attraction of loud music, crowds, and certainly staying up late.

I just wish I could get cleaned up (myself *and* the house - which is ugh right now), dressed, and out for a simple run of errands.  Maybe tomorrow.

For now, I am sick and tired of *toast*.  Blah.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Hell, Oh Kitty

Ten meclizine in my gut has but dented the severity of this whirling illness - and perhaps not even that.  I'm still so dizzy that, trying to put the harness on Pen earlier, I ended up in angry, miserable tears because she was distressed by my distress, and was leaning on me to be in close.  When a dog with enough size, who is frantically wagging and wiggling, leans on you when you are dizzy:  that is hell.

I did get her out, though, and she is on her tether, so it's me and Gossamer.  He seems to be largely behaving in my illness, but he has several times used me as his high ground for games of King of the Mountain with Penelope.  He has also apparently discovered what a soft place to stand a breast can be.  But at the moment, he's harmlessly stowed alongside, sleeping like me at my worst.

I'm nauseated this time, which along with a headache is contributing (along with my whinging and, it may be admitted, very shrill frustration) to making this instance of hell far worse even than the first time, which is the worst sick I've been in what feels like a long time.

So happy times at the ranch today.

Times it SUCKS to be alone.  Times it feels so profound.

Hell II - If I Boogaloo, I HOPE It Kills Me

I have been struck once again with labyrinthitis.  Just cannot express how angry and frustrated I am at having to endure this hell TWICE in less than a MONTH.  It makes you want to die having it once.  A second bout with dizziness this severe, and all I can think is how this is not fair.  I am utterly disgusted.

Have dosed with meclizine (hey, turns out I have a non-drowsy supply; didn't find that blister pack last time) and gotten the pets fed and dog out for a wee.  That she chose to come inside and poo is my own fault; I didn't go out with her and she needs to venture at least as far as the front yard for that event.  That I believe she's already eaten the result is just not contemplatable in my state.

And so we nix the idea of getting together with the charming Cute Shoes, or my friend T who still hasn't met the babies.  Of balancing the checkbook.  Of loading up all those clothes and getting them donated.  Of getting, essentially, ANYTHING done.  No writing nor querying either - typing even this is awful, but I'm angry enough to be stubborn and spit out an ugly post I should probably think better of but am too mad to clam up.  In some ways, maybe the sleepy-meclizine would be better.  Because the un-sleepy kind, unless it CURES me, doesn't make these things magically doable.

Seriously.  So mad and so utterly physcially miserable death would seem like an improvement.

Gah.  This isn't any fair at all.

Friday, December 28, 2012

"Anna Karenina"

On Christmas Eve, a friend and I saw the new "Anna Karenina" and I followed up by streaming Leigh's 1948 turn in the role as well.

Wikimedia Commons
Cover page, 1878

2012's outing does a very fine job of conveying the real toll of the situation, and indeed the foolishness of the risks taken.  Being made outside The Code period, too, it is able to handle certain things honestly (in a couple of scenes, frankly more honestly than I would, say, want to recommend for my nieces - ahem), but for a contemporary telling it is remarkable how well it conveys a social horror many today simply cannot know nor experience.

I was surprised to discover how archly theatrical the new production is, as well.  This works in the story's favor, and oddly enough is not distancing.  It also serves a self-consciously visual, lush, almost sensually lustful production.  The thing is GORGEOUS in every detail.

The cast, too, are excellent.  While at times the two "romantic" leads make you want to just shake them for their decisions (and I feel might be young, particularly Knightley), the entire rest of the film is peopled with remarkably well-rendered characters.  Very engaging.

Leigh was exactly at the point a woman should be to play Karenina - mature, but having lost not one scintilla of her fascination nor beauty.  But she is in a production constrained by the morality police of the time, and
the tension suffers as a result of what could not be said.  Yet the 1948 does improve crucially on the 2012 in one detail - the meddling messenger friend to Alexei Karenin.  This production makes crystal clear the sexual tension between this woman and Karenin, and that unrequited parallel to Anna's sin deepens the story to its benefit.

Leigh and Sir Ralph's telling also benefits from its economy in some ways.  Working within constraints can enhance a story, and it's possible over time I'll come to find the 2012 more excessive than exuberant - but I would say, its first watching doesn't feel overblown given its own terms.

Both are good storytelling, lovely in different ways (seriously, the theatrical contrivance of the new production is very overt; the magic is that it is not distancing).  I expect I will get the DVD when 2012's is available, but probably not Leigh's.  As moviegoing goes- recommended.  Enjoy!

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Let's Not Do the Time Warp

With Tom Cruise and The Governator both premiering new films within like a month of each other - it's almost like the eighties just will not end.  Much as I enjoyed the 80s, these ... gents' ... filmic ouvre were no part of that.  Sort of like the politics of the era, it was more "in spite of" than "because of" Tom and Arnold.

Saturday, December 22, 2012


Today has been less an exercise in housecleaning than in house-emptying.  Yes, three loads of laundry (and apparently I can still dress just fine with that much out of commission - itself a commentary on the excess of a single-person homeownership situation ...) - but a nice stack of trash and recycling out and to-go-out.  For some reason, during a period when I was selling a lot on eBay, I developed a mini obsession with keeping EVERY box in the house, which means the entire dormer nook in the front of the guest room is stacked with useless cardboard.  RECYCLING IT.  I'll never ship that much to my brother, and - everything this year I was planning to sell on eBay I have decided to give away.

The Jones sheath dress I wore only one time (for my confirmation at church, actually).  Someone needs that, and I'm self-conscious about the slit in the back of the skirt.  I am never going to wear it again.  It goes.

My aunt's leather trench.  I miss her deeply, I loved her so much - but as an artifact goes, this one is not a beloved memento, it's just an ill-fitting vintage piece I'm cheating some very cute (short-armed) girl out of rocking to pieces.  It goes.

The quilted tapestry jacket with marvelously soft, long mongolian wool trim.  It's adorable - but it's too trendy for me.  Its sleeves, also, are a bit slim for my granny arms.  It goes.

The SIZE SIX London Fog trench my mom and dad bought me 24 years ago (I still remember where, remember the day, remember we went to a show that night; I remember how that coat fit when I cinched in the belt).  But it is a size six - and I am not, and don't even want to be.  It goes.

The beautiful red wool suit I bought last time I was unemployed - and have never worn even one single time. The heck - that's several inches of closet space.  It goes.

Even the flattering twinset mom bought me two or three years back.  It's comfortable - but I really have worn it as much as I will.  It's *just* outside my real preferred style.  So.  And the satin blazer I've gotten more than my bargain-money's worth out of.  The wonderfully soft, velvet-trimmed suit jacket my coworkers have never seen because I busted the back seam out of it once (and I thought that jacket fit fine) - which, though it's been beautifully repaired, I fear to wear for doing that again.  Good grief, it goes.  The skirt that wasn't a set but that goes with that, I should give up too - need to get that one out of the closet.  I haven't worn it in too long.

The jewelry I never wear.  The pieces from mom.  The one or two miscalculations from eBay, too.

The amount of stuff going out of this house - I already have two HUGE shopping bags of stuff out in the trunk as it is, and the list above is on top of those things, and will cram the trunk chock full - is pretty serious.  It will feel good.

On top of this, I've done a lot of just organizing.  The guest room, for two months, has been a riot of clean sheets waiting to go back on the bed my friend used when she came for the JRW Conference in mid-october, of summer clothes not put away, of Christmas decorations and their boxes, of the hair moved for the tree's spot in the living room.  It's oppressive, living in a house otherwise sort of nice, but knowing THIS ROOM was lurking silently upstairs.

It goes.

If these things don't go, I will be mired in them.  And so much of it would be so nice for somebody else.

The edifice of cardboard boxes - well, maybe they will just be nice for the Earth, for me to take them out of the realm of waste and excess ...


Christmas, of course, will bring More Stuff into the house - but one great advantage of middle age is that every year there is less of that to manage, for me.  Heh - some years, hardly anything at all ... but that is an amusing set of stories for some other time.  *Grin*

So it is the right time to lighten my home's load.  Just yesterday I resisted the temptation to buy a new sofa for *such a deal* (seriously - nice, clean, comfy piece, and I'd have paid $55 for it).  But I don't need to take advantage of every deal out there.  Today I am gladder to have the sofa already here.  Another day, it will be time to let it go, to find a new/old one in its place.  But not this week.

Today is my day of solitary worship - steward to the material blessings given me.  And part of that is knowing when to give those blessings to others.  Tonight, I will revel and relax, nothing more than a bath and early bed.

Tomorrow, one last piece of shopping, then a friend for the evening.

Christmas Eve - for the first time, perhaps, ever - I have taken time off.  Time with another friend, and probably the nighttime service, a joyous celebration.  The exquisite sound of my priest's voice, singing.  Her love, all our love.  And, yes - Christ.  A worship in fellowship.

Then Christmas day, just me and the fur-bearing kidlets, relaxing (... heh ... ?) at mom and my stepfather's house.  I plan to make my dad's coffee cake.  We'll eat, we'll open gifts, we'll laugh and share and just be, pretty quietly.  It is a small holiday, just the three of us.  Penelope and Goss will liven it up I am sure.

Then home.  A quiet night.

And back to the real world.

Merry Christmas from the Wee and Timorous Beasties

Friday, December 21, 2012

Thursday, December 20, 2012


When I was fifteen or twenty (though those ages seemed far apart back then, they don't make much odds to me now in my old age), I had a brief period of time when I said "massive" if something seemed good to me.  Yes, Virginia, Paris Hilton did not invent the would-be-catchphrase-now-defunct phenomenon.  Today, for some reason, twenty-five or so years after its demise, the word bubbled out of my wee, paltry little brain, and popped at a good point in the day.

This week has been spent making every effort to do my job, and - on two extremely key tasks - being utterly unable to.  The real kicker is that the two things I have been unable to do (reconciling my purchasing, and creating a new hire ID) are STUPIDLY quick and easy jobs ... and it is now officially a week I've spent trying to manage each of them.

Thank technology.  Due to an UPGRADE (raise your hand if you've ever been functionally screwed by tech improvements which set you back by decades, kids!!), my computer has instituted the silent treatment against key sites and tools.  Fantastico.

And so, jobs which should be the smallest part of my day, but which are (I may have noted this ...) fundamentally important tasks, have (a) remained incomplete, in one case and - vastly more humiliating and frustrating still - (b) been done by OTHER PEOPLE.  Yes, the extremely competent woman whose responsibility it is to herd an entire resource system's worth of card-holders has personally, twice in a row (we have to reconcile daily at year-end) managed my transactions.  Now, this has been a total of five items in two days - yet it is disgusting to me to put my work on ANYONE else's desk.  And mortifying to put it on hers, of all people's.

The beat goes on, with my finally gaining access to the ID system today, which I suppose is good news.

As to the accounting side - I have called our help desk (their scripted instruction is to reach out to the very woman who's been stuck doing my job twice now - and, not for nothing, but she is also working from home and managing not only the holidays but a family hospitalization as well - so I'm EXTRA happy to be another problem for her).  I have called her, of course.  She has been extraordinarily generous, competent, forbearing, and as helpful as humanly possible in the face of inhuman technology and its inscrutable faults.  I have reached out personally and directly to one of the tech guys at my site, who has also been generous - but, being alone on deck here, he too is stretched miles too thin.


Five bluebirds appeared outside the office window while I was rebooting, after yet another workaround attempt (it did not work).  I watched them in wonder - bluebirds aren't typical around here in any case, but I don't know that in my life I've ever seen so many at once.  At one point, three of them aligned with almost revoltingly excellent composition in a tree by the lake.  A bloody Christmas card, that.  Or maybe Chanukah, actually!

I remembered my dad telling me not to let the bluebird of happiness poop on my windshield.  And remembered the random little rubber bluebird eraser or toy he found some time in the year or so before he died, and gave to me (long since petrified, but indeed still around).  Dad was someone who could find the bluebird of happiness, maybe attracted it - more likely, just preferred his perceptions calibrated to the good.  If I am a lucky human I'll someday be half as wise and half as sanguine as he.  If I am exceptionally lucky and blessed ...


The reason this blip on the dizzying readout of linguistic quirks I have adopted and abandoned through my life happened to repeat is this - frustrating as this past week has been, with roadblocks and embarrassing offloading, toward the end of the day I looked around and found that some of the most important things on my desk have been eliminated, and not by throwing them at other people either.  It's a hopeful uplift I have hopes will inform tomorrow and next week, making the new year a little easier.

Bluebirds and all ... it's the little things, sometimes.

Sunday, December 16, 2012


Alec Shane sent me a rejection on Friday ... but I've also done this, so the beat goes on.  Interesting note from an agent on Twitter this weekend, so I'll be researching her!  And the list isn't exhausted yet, and there will be revisitations of certain pre-revision queries.  I have some interesting ideas about hopes for the new year.  We shall see - but maybe 2013 will be the year it gets representation, and even sells.

We shall see.  It's getting to be time.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Grief Highjacker

This is the phrase my brother used when he said something to me about having a powerful response to the events of yesterday's news here in the U.S.  I don't want to post about that devastation, because this is not a current events blog, and because out of respect and a perfect lack of comprehension there is NOTHING I could possibly compose which could be worthy to say and which would not in some way be about me, my feelings, my perspective, which is utterly irrelevant to the mourning of the families and friends of those lost in Connecticut.

I pray for peace, not only for those so brutally bereaved - but between us, within our broken, desperate nation - and for those who, without it, turn derangement and rage into punishment for the rest of the world.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Self awareness is key for anyone who doesn't want OTHER people to be aware of their faults *for* them.

If you get there first, you can do something about it.


Okay tree is up, lit, even my old string of lights is re-fused and working now.  Animals curious, but not misbehaving badly.  But Penelope is being a complete loon.

When my elder niece was very young, the family lived in Hawai'i.  When she ate poi, she became sleepy.  I'm thinking I want to get some poi for my dog.  Because drugging her would be extreme - but wow do I wish she would lose the habit of wigging, particularly when large trees and electricity are so prominent in the living room!

Buffy Frustrates Me ...

... as do my Christmas lights.  $33.88 with shipping, two BRAND new strings, I plugged them in and got 45 seconds of light.  I spent that much because these are supposed to be the "one bulb goes out, the rest stay lit" - but NONE are currently lit.  Gah.  Stupid freaking Christmas lights.  (The inquiry is in, yes with the eBay seller.)

But while I am cleaning and putting up decorations, I'm watching Buffy.  Once again, I am struck by the artificial and irritating elasticity of her intellect/education.  In one moment, she says to Xander, "Thank you for the Dadaist greeting" because that is a funny reference.  But three minutes later, he says something about going on reconnaissance and she wrinkles her nose and asks "where we paint and make pottery and stuff" and he has to explain, "That was the *Renaissance*" ...

Because Buffy is selectively dumb, for excessively weak and dumb jokes.  *Sigh*

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Felt Like Freedom

Mojourner, speaking as someone who *was* a punk - and on the subject of dancing like you don't give a hang who's watching.  Because that is what dancing is for.  I'm struck (not for the first time in his remarkable explorations of the punk scene he let me spectate from time to time) at how clearly, how freshly, I remember some of these faces.  The spiky mullet in front.  The fro to one side.

What he describes comes back, too.  The chicken fights, the on-the-spot made-up dances, the getting on stage.  He hasn't mentioned the time he was one of the "aweem-awep" dudes for a spontaneous rendition of "The Lion Sleeps" - and, in fact, how frequently spontaneous classics like that came up.  Sometimes sped up to 78 (as Mo said recently, an hour or so could hold thirty-eight thousand punk songs - or something far funnier, frankly, but to that effect ...).  Sometimes screamed, sure.  But sometimes, and not infrequently, pretty much in their original arrangement.  The guys on those stages were musicians, after all, as much as rebels.  Sometimes, rebellion could be performed with respect for music unlike their own.  Punk had a lot more taste than exclusively for irony, and it's easy to forget, in the post-'net world which has come to so intensely depend on snark - not everything even the strident anarchist had to say back then was said with a sneer.

Anyway, amazing photos once again, and remarkable memories I am enjoying very much.

(Also of note:  "history, brought to you by women."  In and of itself, a fascinating phenomenon of the dynamics of - at least "our" little corner of - punk.)

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Sunday, December 9, 2012

That is Not a Pubic Hair on My Coke

Once again, in the "we did not invent (fill-in-the-intellectual/cultural/sexual-blank-here) yesterday" department, we have a really fascinating look at women's body hair (and its absence) through the centuries.  As, during this election year of misogyny (BUT THERE IS NO WAR ON WOMEN ... even as, at this very writing, Cantor tries to maim the Violence Against Women Act), we learned that "vagina" is not a dirty word, for today's post we'll have to accept that "pubic" isn't either.

The idea that there was a pre-modern era of “anything goes” in terms of normative bodies is a commonplace.  --Jill Burke

No Supreme Court justices were harmed, nor even sexually harassed, during the production of this post.  (As to Cantor:  only certain women are worthy of any protection at all - and we all know who the privileged are in this scenario.)

The Quote

Following up in a way on the Historically Accurate Sexism post, I want to take a look at the single sentence from my research - found years ago, actually, while working on "The Ax and the Vase" - which forms the basis and informs the context for Novel #2.

The pre-modern world was willing to attribute charisma to women well before it was willing to attribute sustained rationality to them.    --Medieval Kingship, Henry A. Myers

I've been calling the thing "Matrilineage", for the record - though I have zero attachment to this title, and would surmise no agent nor publisher in the world will go for it.  As I get more into the work, a new one may present itself.  And in any case, not all titles are allowed to stand (I will even accept it if "Ax" is changed).

The novel will follow the lives of Audofleda, Amalasuntha, and perhaps Matasuentha.  Audofleda was the sister of Clovis I - so it is perhaps obvious how I came across her.  She married Theodoric the Great, the Ostrogothic king who killed Odovakar - famed, himself, for putting an end to the Roman Empire.  Unlike "Ax", this work will focus on female characters.  It also isn't told in first person, which I am relishing quite a bit.

The quote above goes beyond much of the wisdom of research I've found up to this point, in that it takes the snapshot of "ass-kicking Ostrogoth women" and puts a frame on a greater context.  Amalasuntha bore the grandson of Theodoric, and when that child died, she became queen regnant in a time during which, shall we say, if not sexism, a certain lack of feminine monarchical opportunity marked the period.  Ama was educated, no beauty, a great nonconformist, and a woman with her own mind.

So the challenge not to write a Mary Sue is fascinating.

And the quote above is my guidepost.  Her education is irrelevant to everyone around her.  Her ABILITY is irrelevant.

But she is the child of Theodoric, and was mother of a king.

Her charisma will, I suspect as I work to build her character (at this point I am still in her teenage years), build on the same basis as her father:  Her Amal royal heritage, her lineage, her right - not by gender, but by charisma of the blood - is the glue by which she binds herself to the throne.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Austerity Costing Posterity

The bitter cost of what the 1% has done to the whole world's economy goes far beyond a few miserable poor folks' incessant griping.

We're losing world history now, because archaeology and preservation are no longer worthwhile to governments in economic straits.  Imagine the prospect - 40% of Italy's sites ALONE are at risk today.

Scholarship, culture - the world must bite the dust, because the wealthy of the world refuse to break out the Pledge and a dustrag.  It is revolting.  And it is the stuff revolts are made of, not for nothing.

Historically ... Authentic (Sexism)

As much trouble as I have, as an author, with anachronistic Mary-Sue feminism, there is a flip side to the coin.  This is a good post about how counter-productive it can be to lean on "but history was sexist" as an excuse to write chauvinism instead of *character*.  I'm madly in love with the graphic, too:
Not to mention this quote:

History is not a long series of centuries in which men did all the interesting/important things and women stayed home and twiddled their thumbs in between pushing out babies, making soup and dying in childbirth.  --Tansy Rayner Roberts

It's as true of histfic as it is of fantasy, the authenticity of an overarching principle is (a) not necessarily beyond question, but (b) no reason to sacrifice *writing*.

NPR, Voice of the Tea Party

Lately, I keep noticing a completely bizarre and biased tone on stories NPR is airing.  Thursday night, it was the piece about how Camden, NJ is falling apart 100% thanks to the wildly overpaid and prone-to-outrageous-absenteeism police force.  A more ludicrously anti-union and anti-worker piece of propaganda I can't even think of right now, it was deeply mystifying.

I can think of MANY occupations which are objectively overcompensated.  "Cop" is not one of those.  Maybe the mixed these public servants up with "CEO", another job description of three letters and starting with a C ... ?

Punk Nostalgia

This post is going to be a bit of a bouillabaisse of memories - mostly really my brother's, but he was nice enough to share a bit with me back then.  He and I have been enjoying - of all things ... - "good times" memories of that least of all "aww"-inspiring things, the hardcore punk scene of the early 80s.  And yet, if not "aww" - there are some very good feelings with these memories.  (For me, the surprise and excitement of cool stuff shared with my bro.  For him, a youth not spent wearing alligator shirts and worshiping Reagan.)

Kind of loving my brother's memories.  I won't go back to edit the post about being at White Cross shows, but here is the vid that woke me from the malaise of my illnes:

It'd be impossible for me to go back to that time and place, even as sick as I was on Tuesday, and not feel some resurgence of the energy they held.

The POV of the video camera (I still can't get over someone having such a rare and expensive thing at one of these shows!) is pretty much exactly where I would have been.

Mojourner has more to say about those days here and here.  He also appears in the Mini Mag I linked before, but I ain't sayin' which dude with attitude he was.  Though he does match one of the guys in this vid!  Maybe he collected all his archival fame in one night (apart from that White Cross album cover he was on - I'll tell you this time, he was the guy in the striped shirt).

There was an immense amount of anger at that time, but what people may not understand is that it was not a scene of menace and cruelty.  The anger was a shared thing, binding kids deprived of privilege (and those of us who had a little bit, but hardly lived in Reagan-era Greed-is-Good-ness or Dynasty wealth), expressed in voices raised as loud as those who were socio-politically very very small could be.  But within the scene, there was a lot of laughter, much loyalty and trust.

I showed up at these things wearing what I hoped was ironic and cool - a pink CIA t-shirt given to me by a relative who at that time, oddly enough, was an expert on the Russkies and (though no more on the Blake Carrington level than my brother and I) had a lot more interest in Reagan - and a hippie-ish white flowered prairie skirt, with little black cotton Mary Janes.  Amidst the Marks-A-Lot'ed jean vests and black tees, nobody was mistaking me for one of them - pink and white!? (though, for the record, yeah, it was pretty intentional; apparently my nonconformity among nonconformists began earlier than I've ever really thought about) - but they were nice to me.  The guys there would have protected me from any harm - if it had actually been likely, in the not-so-wilds of our downtown of that era, danger were really likely.  But the circle of punks, spilling out of the bar and up the block to that 7-Eleven, was big enough to contain, and cohesive enough not to break.  Nobody broke inside - nobody wanted to - and in that group it was safe.

I probably learned a lot which still serves me today.  I frequent a very different scene when I get out socially, but the effect is in its way similar.  Outcast and underprivileged people might seem scary on their margins, from the mainstream, but the marginalized keep an eye out for those they claim, and those they welcome.

Sure, the force of a brother who didn't exactly invite violence and violation to his person - nor his sister's - had its power.  But the fact was, the larger dynamic within that angry and alienated world wasn't one of anger nor alienation actually aimed inward.  The anger was never with those sharing it, and so the dynamic was of the adopted-erzats-gang-family variety popularized in everything from The Outsiders to Penelope Spheeris' "Suburbia" (itself a veritable goldmine of who-was-whom and pop-cultural trivia of a remarkable variety).  So that anger, that terrifying rebellion and defiance, was not the attractant - it was the repellant.  Stay away, preppies, stay away, established authority, stay away if this scares you.

But, if you come in, you'll be in for some laughs, the shows, the friends, the people.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Big or Little, It Doesn't Matter ...

... it's what's inside that counts!

How am I going to even TRY to resist?  Even as a Trek nerd, LeVar's BEST role ever.

Letters to a Young Lady

Here's a great post from The History Girls, including some quotes from a surprisingly long-lived perennial seller of the late 18th/early 19th century, and a bit of commentary I can't disagree with either.  If I actually worked in this period, it'd make pretty amazing research and character building material.

Button Fly ...

I can admit, it's entirely true that American Duchess, Isis' Wardrobe, and Isis' Toilette are my new addictions.  For the inimitable Cute Shoes, here's a follow up on the details of late 19th-century button boots.  I love the scalloped fly, but the rounded toe on the 1910-15 boot is the best shoe shape.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012


I'm moving slowly but remembering all these hardcore acts I saw back when my brother let me hang around with him and his friends.  Honor Role, YFA, Graven Image, Pledge Allegiance - even just the local legend, Dirt Woman ... who looks so YOUNG to me now.  Terrifying!  Names of the bars - I love the name Going Bananas.  Need to open a place called Going Bananas and be the old lady everyone finds inexplicable.  Don't I?


Yeah, possibly the illness talking.  Must be time to stop flipping my way down memory lane.  It's already run me into pics of The Exploited (gah) and Henry Rollins.  That cannot be good for my poor brain.

Would it be un-punk to cite and RVA Mini Mag as sources for this lot of pics?
For the record: INKWELL DESIGN LLC
Howzat for punk, man?

I Have Achieved ... Toast

This morning, I woke with some dizziness, and thought (as I am wont to do), "I will try to sleep this off and go in late."

The luck, it has not been quite so good.  Much of this day, I've spent sleeping the sleep of attempted-escape, but with an unfortunate lack of oblivion.  I used to get this sick in college - labyrinthitis isn't unusual for me or for my mom, but today has been the worst attack I've had in memory.  It's a miserable thing - something like the 24-hour death, but at least without any actual biological eruptions.  Only the hideous spinning and lassitude.

So my point is, it's taking a pretty hefty inspiration for me to get on my laptop at all.  I got on this morning to email my management, when it became clear going in late wasn't an option, and left the thing sleeping most of the day.  But a little while ago - I achieved toast.  Eating is helping more than I would have expected (so now I am irked I didn't try it sooner - but, so it goeth).  I also turned on Netflix, and wouldn't you know my luck - we're up to "Space Seed" on the TOS ep count.  Ahhh, Khan, you are perking me up.

However, that is not enough to make me turn to Blogger and attempt to type (which ain't easy, dear readers - I had to correct three typos in the word "Blogger" alone just now).  No, THAT took the interruption to TOS I found when I opened two emails from my brother.  I won't post the vid unless he gives permission - but, thanks to The Wonders of Teh Intarwebs, he came across the most astounding piece of our history.

My brother was the cool sibling, but for whatever reason (and, what's odd is, I don't know that parental pressure actually played into this) he actually included me sometimes in outings with his friends.

This of course is how I SAW ALL THE COOL CONCERTS.  Including perhaps the White Cross show now archived, and which he found online.  Minor Threat.  The Exploited (not even one iota cool - tools to the last minute of their obnoxiousness, those posers).  Ten Thousand Maniacs (yes, with Natalie Merchant - and the source of my first internet meme, actually, though the worthwhileness of digging through that link is dubious).  Even some arena tours - my very first was The Clash's Combat Rock tour, the same week they appeared on SNL with Little Opie Cunningham (who drank a BEER on live TV!  Woo!) - and second was Bowie.

Granted, that second one was only Serious Moonlight - but kids, I saw Bowie live from the front row of a General Admission show, so shut up until you can outdo me.  (And when you do I will not care, because braggin' rights, as fun as they are, mean remarkably little to me.)

Watching the vid of the White Cross show, I could remember so clearly the space of that little dive.  I never drank, and couldn't even smoke successfully, back then.  My brother was sufficient presence to keep me from misbehaving with boys, not that I had any very great urge to misbehave, as many crushes as I liked to have.  I remember the girls, even when I was only sixteen, asking me how I got so pale.

I wasn't one of them - I was a privileged little girl playing with the cool kids, riding on the coattails of my brother.  But they were sweet.  I remember the Andys.  I remember a girl named Honey.  I remember the night we left a show at one or two in the morning, I had something like 73 punks in the backseat, and maybe three bicycles, I was at the wheel ... and my brother meowed at a police dog in the cruiser next to us.  The officer had just come from a homicide and wasn't finding us hilarious.  But I got no ticket, to go with my healthy dose of Official Sternness.

But watching that clip, it was the SHOWS that came back, so strongly.  Mr. X has, over the ten years of our acquaintance, occasionally "warned" me, of his music, as I came to absorb it, that it might be a little hard or heavy for me.  If he watched that clip it might be clearer - knowing I was consuming this life from the age of sixteen - why I go "aww - that's cute" when he does that.

The music and atmosphere may no more be truly extinct than any of the "why when I was a child" memories any old fart uses to disparage The Present compared to one's own Past.  But punk - that Punk, the actual real stuff - has certainly been beaten to near death, emblem of long dead fashion for so long even the emblematic BS is now out of fashion itself.

Look at the people.  There's one guy with a standup mohawk, and I can tell you he almost certainly didn't wear it twice, or went on to become either goth industrial or (more likely) yuppie.  The people who were THERE, the regulars at shows - you can see them.  Guys in jeans with fairly boring short, or cropped, hair.  Ordinary shirts, or none at all.  Just guys.  Sweating.

The whole POINT of punk - real punk - was to reject fashion and affectation.  These guys couldn't afford leather jeans, and would not have worn 'em.  The one common style was army surplus (REAL - not insanely expensive Doc Martens; which came along to make money well after punk itself was dead) combat boots.  Other than that, jeans.  Torn, not torn, probably blue, maybe written on.  White tees, black tees, button ups, whatever.  A shirt that fits.  Maybe one that doesn't stink.

It'll stink by the time the night is over.

The guys got in the mosh pit.  It wasn't a systematic swirl of violence, particularly.  It was intermittent.  The guys could fight, I'm sure, but I really don't remember it.  The only bloodshed I ever recall at a show was when that utter twit of a lead singer for The Exploited SWUNG HIS MIC (of all disco-tastic, foolish show-boy rockstar idiot-hole flourishes, really) and hit his own bass player in the face with it.  I think the guy lost a tooth.  And the singer was a tool about it.  Jerks.

That bar was used as the location for a polka bar in the Robert Preston film "Finnegan Begin Again."  I remember watching that movie obsessively, dying every time RP and Mary Tyler Moore danced in that brick-lined punk dive.

It eventually became a coffee bar, at least in the 90s.  It may still be one, or may be a cafe' - it may be a dang Starbucks or a McDonald's by now.  But, then, it was the dark place I was exposed to coolness so potent that, almost thirty years on, I can see this post has gone far beyond my ability to really function.

I'ma finish watching the clip.  Finish watching "Space Seed".  And, someday, maybe I'll come back and tell all you kids about when I was not a middle aged cat (and dog) lady.

But first, another little lie-down, becuase hell if staring at this screen isn't killing me.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

This Is Our ... Culture ...

Ford Not Prefect

A good post on the relationship one man has with his truck - but, really, I just love the title.  Heh.


The American Duchess on one more thing we didn't invent in the 1960s.  Elastic gussets for your boot.

American Duchess sells this boot


Four ibuprofen in, and the headache so bad the pain has me nauseated is only getting worse.  I see an early night tonight.

Which is probably not going to be true.  Which is a shame.

"Tomorrow is Yesterday"

Starting off the day with some Star Trek, it's the first ep on 20thC Earth.  I don't feel like logging on to Twitter, so shall make my inane observations here, for my own entertainment.

  • I think this is the first time in my chronological viewing of TOS where I've seen the "blank screens" looking wrinkled.  Oops!
  • Question to self:  "Self, is there a particular statement in the fact I am watching Star Trek instead of going to church ... ?"
  • Ahhhh, the sexist "personality of a woman" issue with the computer.  Le Sigh.
  • Did Scotty really just say "everything's jury rigged" ... ???
  • Ethics be damned, we've got an episode plot to resolve!


The way things appear to be going in my tum, and with some sdubby codjesjun, once again there shall be no church for me this morning.  I don't feel Actually Sick (there is a line drawn by my mother in my mind, heart, and soul, only beyond which do I stop feeling guilty for calling in sick), but two things prevent fellowship - one, the prospect of having to dab through an hour and a half or so of time I'd rather be dignified, and two, the what-if-I-am-sick transmissibility issues.  Catholic-lite is no less rife with opportunities to hand over your germs than the full-calorie Church, one of those times the human-soup of existence opens the door to sharing.

Though I intinct instead of sipping, the obvious vector of course is the Eucharist,where we all get to share wine in succession.  But there's also The Peace, which is the part we all reach out and touch, shake hands, etc. (though we had a moment of polite greeting in the denomination of my childhood, it never involved looking at more than maybe two people, and certainly no physical contact).  The full minute or two or three of Peace-ing is a far more engaging sport!

So no for me again this week, but yes I believe to some housecleaning.  As this was my worship for many years before I found fellowship, so it remains, and though usually I don't do it on the actual Sabbath day anymore, it's hardly inappropriate to take it to this day.

But first ... a little TOS.


Gossamer and Penelope just had a gentle snoot with each other.  Good lord, I die of cute when they do that.


I got to use the word glum on Friday and it made me so happy I negated myself.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

*Eyebrow* At My Stats

550 hits today, mostly from Canada, Spain, and the Netherlands.  Odd, that.  Odder - usually bots don't go to my pages; the excerpts etc. - but today, two and three hits apiece to all of those pages.

I find this not a gratifying uptick, but a depressing sign that even the one indicator of actual human visitation (hits on those pages) is no longer reliable.

*Blah* for monster day stats.

Friday, November 30, 2012

On a Trip to the Used Book Store

"That’s reason for pensiveness, never despair. It’s a worthier challenge to roam the stacks, using this one slim relic of Blaga Dimitrova to find in endless spines not squandered lives, but infinite creation--"    --Jeff Sypeck

This would fit so nicely in with my dream of achieving midlist glory, never gaining great fame, and then someday being discovered by some 14-year-old kid staying at his ageing auntie's house ...

Links From My Bro

The list of things that could not have kicked your ass between the late Carboniferous era and the end of the Cretaceous was probably a lot shorter than the list of things that could.

How to hunt Quetzalcoatalus, from The Locavore Hunter (TM).  Hint:  double-aught buckshot, kids.

Thanks to Mojourner for the link!


Wow do I like this post.  Yes, any one or group of similar religions may be deconstructed - for silliness, for validity, for hyper-specific oddments, or general pugilism - but at the end of the day ... those of us who choose to subscribe to them do so because they challenge us.

Yeah, or they reinforce us, or tell us we're superior, or that others are inferior, or whatever message it is we in our hearts and selfishness want to hear.  Often, the message is a shared one - this is fellowship.  "We are all better than They", unfortunately, is a commonly preferred message.

(U)nderstanding even the most apparently nonsensical religious practices (and this isn't nearly the most nonsensical, if you're on the lookout for nonsense) is vital to understanding how we are all shaped.    --K. M. Grant

The message I choose to hear from my religion (not my faith, nor my G-d) is that it is itself a tool - and a poor one - for reaching something better.  Better than I am, better than "we" are, better than today, better than yesterday, better than This Plane.  I believe in G-d, but I also very fervently believe there isn't a religion in existence which provides a portrait of the divine - much less a usable map (as if there is such a thing).

This (and my priest) are the reasons I am Episcopalian.  While I'm here, the only way to eff the ineffable is to "give" to the world I live in, to try to make myself a sufferable part of it, to love, to seek greater good, and to - yes - share in some fellowship in that quest.

To the point of Grant's post - as a historical novelist, if I refuse to respect the faith of my characters, the world and expectations in which they lived, I will be unable to write well.  This means respecting all the bad maps and (apparently?) aimless paths we wear for ourselves, in the challenge and the quest to make "better" of ourselves - however "better" is defined.

Part of creating great characters is taking them on their own terms, in every context.  Writing Clovis - a pagan believing himself divinely descended, who accepts and champions Catholicism during a period when so many forms of Christianity (and, indeed, pagan cults) abounded - I had to very seriously consider what motivated him.  Where some historians will say "politics" (... "money"), I could not in the end accept that there was no component of faith involved.  This man renounced some pretty bone-deep beliefs in order to espouse his chosen new religion.  Yes, he was also ambitious to a mercenary extent.  Where to draw all those lines ...

It was a fascinating question I had begun to consider even before Clovis discovered himself to me, became my subject.  It never has quite been answered, nor lost any part of its thrall.

Cat Friend Dog Friend

Shared with me by Beloved Ex, a little animal humor for the day.

Okay, let the stereotypes fly!  Some of these I've seen in my home, but they left out how the two *interact* ...


And that IS a good booooooyyy - I like it when they save me some trouble too.  Hah!

This post is dedicated to my newest follower, Jessica Feldman.  ;oP

Wednesday, November 28, 2012


It's getting to be a slog managing the spam in comments, so we'll be shifting the settings, dear readers - my apologies for the extra step, but I had thirty-eight extras myself today, and I want this place 'bot free for all of you!  Here's hoping you won't mind too much.

I've Finally Found Them ...

... the most seriously deranged sellers on eBay.  I've been buying for thirteen years, but never seen anything QUITE like these folks' offerings.  And the variety of ways it's whackadoodle is dizzying.  The 100-item lot of condoms.  The Christian literature.  The cheap vintage plastic beads for fifty and seventy bucks.  The freebie flip-flops you can see TOE MARKS in from use.  The hand-heart-silhouette-over-sunset photos which have nothing to do with given items.

And yet ... they do have a feedback rating.  Someone has bought this stuff.  I'm half tempted by the (fully functioning!) Tupperware keyring myself ...  But - wow.  I spent a good twenty minutes just scrolling and marveling at all this stuff!

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Meta Photography

Still more vintage images - this time ranging across a very wide swath of the 20th century and even dipping into the 19th!

State Library and Archives of Florida ...
... via The Passion of Former Days

Sunday, November 25, 2012


The kids just broke a CFL bulb (but not the excessively cool cranberry glass lamp with an internal light as well as the main bulb).  *Sigh*  I used to work for the electric utility, so I actually know (a) proper CFL disposal and (b) how important it actually is.

Still, the thing was already improperly disposed of when I came to it.  So the dustbuster it was.  Here's hoping nobody dies of mercury poisoning (yes, thank you, that is my tongue in my cheek - sort of ...).

The day started with a three-Advil headache, which isn't all that intense by my standards, but the waking-up with the damn thing helped make it more irritating.  Then there was the half-hour wander with Penny, attempting to get her to poo, but not in the exact same people's yard she's become a bit too prone to using.  No dice.  But a beautiful morning, if cool for my suede jacket.

Just as well, Penny decided to have a nice chew on that jacket when we came home.  *SIGH*

Have just lit a dozen or more votives, in cute little candle fixtures all over the living room.  Most of the lights in the room are fairly dim, so it's a soft and warm, low light for the evening.  It'd almost be romantic, but ... ah well.

My mom will be back in town tomorrow, and I've called to offer my stepfather (again) to drive up with him in the evening.  We'll see if he takes me up on it, but my expectations are not high.  Worrisome.

This week I need to be on top of a fairly big game, and lately I haven't been.  This could redeem, or compound, but the pressure I've got on myself is kind of high.  (Hence a cozy and cheering room full of candles, an the full indulgence I have given myself, being lazy this Sunday.)

The house is clean, the pets are so good.  Twelve hours to go, before a somewhat heavy duty week.

How to Have a Life Altering Epiphany ... Doggy Style

Hyperbole and a Half has a lot more to offer than observations on depression.  Such as DOGS!  I hugely recommend, like, all the posts about dogs.  Such as this one, on training one.  And this one, on moving with them (first time I ever read this one, I got a laughter headache).

Aww.  The ground IS all weird.


Perhaps the most honest and non-maudlin, non-writerly personal essay (and comic) on depression I've ever seen.  No excesses of melodrama, nor appeals for pity and attention.  Just a description, and a very clear, good one.  Unique.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Richie Three? Ask in January!

We will know about the carpark king in about two months!  I've never been so excited about dental calculus in my life.  Everybody's holding their breath (because breathing on the bones can compromise 'em!) ...

Just one thing I've been observing, though.  Doesn't anybody else find the excess of froth about "proving he wasn't a hunchback/didn't have a 'withered arm'" - as if the Tudor slander that Richard was deformed reflects a *valid* value judgment, in that bone deformation actually is some sort of evil - ignorant and bigoted?  Because there is a LOT of ink abounding, in shrill reformation of this piece of history - and, as far as I know, there is actually no moral flaw in a body's not conforming to modern (or even ancient) expectations of normal health.

History of Science

I grew up knowing about Tycho Brahe and his golden nose - a pretty spectacular figure, historically, though perhaps not as famous to other people.  Tycho's death has long been attributed to mercury poisoning - but, as we reconstruct Richards and peek into their hearts, why not take a detour into some forensic history with this florid scientists, mentor of Johannes Kepler, fantastic party-thrower, something of a tantrum-thrower as well, judging by his irascible reputation ... and, possibly ... murder victim?  Well, not by mercury poisoning, anyway.

18thC Portraits and Costuming

Isis' Wardrobe is one of my favorite recent finds (along with Madame Isis' Toilette), and features the wonderful real-person experience of researching and recreating period clothing.  This week, there's a great image-rich piece looking at the details of 18th century feminine dress, with interesting observations about textile, draping, and prints.  Ahh, for the love of plaids, stripes, and florals - but don't forget the quite fabulous headgear!

(For those interested in wearing the threads, shoes, and accessories of the past, there's also the American Duchess - just in time for Small Business Saturday, though why restrict such shopping to just one day?)

Good Posts - Kim Rendfield

A nice pair of posts from Kim Rendfield as I cruise the blogs I follow this week.  One I can identify with strongly - the excitement of finding correspondence in the course of research - and another, one of those great threads you can also find in research, useful for medical, culinary, superstitious, and/or agricultural detail.  I give you the many (folkloric) uses of:  the carrot!  Hey, as much as bunnies eat 'em, perhaps it's no wonder there are a few fertility related items on the list ... (though I have to say, the "not by ingestion" tidbit is worrying!)

Another King Richard ...

... this time, that scoundrel the Lionheart.  While we await the forensic face of what so many of us illogically but fervently hope is the skeletal remains of Richard III, we can also wait on a rather interesting test which may tell us some interesting facts about the death of Richard I.  You can also peek at Nancy Bilyeau's novel about the unusual facts of the famous cour de lion's death - thanks to, of all things, tests on his cour.

Oh yeah - I went to the "key to the heart" place.
(public domain image)

Friday, November 23, 2012

More Vintage Photography

Here is a nice selection of images of turn-of-the-20th-century London, notable for its variety of subjects and composition.  Very nice collection, ending on a color (tinted) image.

Rah Rah Retail

In my life, I have only ever "done Black Friday" one single time - and that was in the local shopping district of Carytown, not in any sort of major retail nor big box stores.  Today, however, I did indulge a bit of major retail, if only online, and if only for the fuzzies.  Still, all my contrarian-against-The-Retail-Man tendencies notwithstanding, it was a score to provide a year's heartworm meds, and six months' each of flea protection for both the babies, all for under $131.

My Black Friday hurrah.

Next up:  visiting with the beloved TEO,  my best friend all the way back to middle school.  Now THERE is a real hurrah!

Thursday, November 22, 2012



Penelope, lying in the sun, chewing on her own foreleg.

Gossamer in the kitchen, lurking at the stuffing I can't even fit in the fridge.

I have been watching TOS this morning - a nice counterbalancing of "Balance of Terror" and "Shore Leave" - both great episodes, and very nicely different from one another.

It's a dazzlingly lovely day outside, and Pen and I had our walk earlier and practiced some "down" after she was a good girl outside.

My neighbor friend and I will eat in a couple hours and some change, and the dog show will commence recording on the DVR in just a few minutes so we can enjoy that.

Penny is gleaming in the sun, her expression curious and alert, her ears trembling slightly, alert above her head.

House is beautiful and cozy, and the turkey breast will go in shortly.  Two big stuffings (I wasn't sure how many people were going to be here!) and a spicy sweeter-tater-smash to follow it later.  I'm following the vintage Trek with some DS9 (I suppose that's vintage, too, by now ... !) - "Meridian", an episode I don't mind but can easily leave on while I putter around the house not glued to the tube.  It does have the very great advantage of an appearance by Jeffrey Combs, whom I adore to bits in all his insinuating, engaging roles, in one of the most hilarious subplots (well, a fine subplot with an EXCELLENT punchline anyway) DS9 ever did.  I just love Combs' voice, and loved seeing him as an Andorian too, when he showed up on "Enterprise" farther down the line.  (Huh - and I see he also appeared in Steve Martin's "Man With Two Brains", for which I own the DVD - will need to be re-watching that on the double!  It also features Cromwell, whose footprints in the Trekverse may be fewer, but whose position is inestimable, after "First Contact"!)

Aw, and now Gossy is having a sun-kissed little bath on the chaise, while Penelope sits with her chin on the side of the cushion, watching while the little guy licks and stretches.  Her little fu-manchu whiskers on the top of her nose are shiny in the light.  How perfectly, disgustingly cute.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Pen and Me

At late middle age, I have grown into a good enough self-awareness that decisions tend to come out as expected for me, and I'm reasonably good at them.  Going into the process of looking for a dog, it was a relative no-brainer to seek a calm dog, a mature dog, one who could be alone for my long workdays, one I would not fail because I tend not to be around as much as would be idea for training and dealing with separation anxiety.

Of course, then there was Penelope, and that was it for that.  So my commitment has changed, the demands much increased, and the frustrations too - on both sides.  But this smart little girl is teaching me a lot.

We have our setbacks - but those are more on my side than hers.  We both feel bad about it.  But it's early days yet - not even two months.  And she is too smart.

One of the trickier commands for a dog is to transform "sit" into "down" and then into "stay".  We've been working on this this week, and she is so promising.  It's interesting how changing the location of our training changes her results; when we're in that area of the kitchen next to the fridge and the back door, she's very good - but when we go into the living room, into her and Gossy's room, into the dining room, she's more easily distracted by curious Goss, trailing us and watching from the margins.  Outdoors, however (and oh so promisingly) she was amazingly good.  So a good lesson for me:  vary the training!  Its time of day, its place. Make sure she knows these words aren't ritual attached to a single place, a limited time.

It's so exciting for us both when she does well, too.  The sense is not so much "I got you to bend to my will" as it is "we communicated!" and that is gratifying from both sides.

The one issue we can't seem to surmount right now is that she still eliminates in her cage (or "crate" if you simply must).  This of course means she may be eating some solids - though I have a sense it's more the liquid variety ... admittedly, this may be vanity/hope on my biased part - and definitely is marinating in her leavings.  So I've removed the blanket and my tee shirt (you're supposed to leave something that "smells like you" in the cage), which cannot be comfortable for her, and absolutely breaks my heart.  Ten hours or so in a metal box, with a couple of toys, in a cool house, and loaded with energy - never mind anxiety because she's alone but for when (theoretically) Gossamer comes to peer at her.  What a tease.

How to get her to stop peeing in there.  There isn't really any command for "don't pee" is the thing.  She has learned appropriate elimination not by prohibition but by allowance - praise and rewards for going outside, extreme alacrity from me in responding to indications she needs to go outside.  But prevention?  Everyone says "they don't pee where they eat and/or sleep" - well, I tried putting her food in there and the result was unappetizing.  As for sleeping, I can hardly make her do that on my schedule - and most likely she does, but has overcome this instinctive avoidance.  Certianly, she does NOT eliminate in the bedroom she is allowed to share (in her own bed - but with absolutely scrupulous behavior, without any training on this point at all).

So I don't really know what to do.  Leaving a pee pad in there only meant finding a pureed (unused) puppy pad a the end of the day.

This is really the final frontier for the two of us.  Though she's certainly got a ways to go on "down" and "stay" we're clearly on the path; this route, though, I can't seem to find on the map.

Over this very long holiday weekend (though I work my Friday half day, it will be from home), the plan is to disinfect the cage (again ...) and put a cushion from the bed she has downstairs inside.  She doesn't use the bed much, but IS aware it is the only furniture she is allowed to get on - that it is "hers".  It's a nice big, thick chair cushion, and smells of Siddy and of herself, but without elimination smells.  If she can't behave with it, it won't be a very bad loss, but if she can ... happiness for us both.  If nothing else, if she does mess on it, it will be less of a floppy pile to manage than the blanket and my tee shirt were, when she peed on those.  I am prepared to trash it if need be, but do HOPE that would not be the end result of this effort.


Penny is not the dog I meant to get.  I may not be the "people" she really deserves.  But the commitment to try, to be as good for her as I can be, is there, and grows stronger every day.

She had another bath yesterday so she'll be sweet for Thanksgiving day (she was unliveable last night, before we did the deed).  Today, she's getting good attention - AND she is out of both collar and harness, too (she prefers to be naked, and I like an unadorned dog myself; though, for the record, her tags are on that new harness of hers, so WILL be with her when she goes outside).  She's just plopped up against my ankle, warm and solid and so contented you can see it in her body.

If there's anything better than knowing you have contented a living creature like that, I can't quite imagine what it is ...

Off for now, to tidy up and putter, figuring out what needs to be done for tomorrow.

And to stop here and there to admire my girl.  And nuzzle the boy, too - who is the best kitten in the whole world.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Category By Themselves

At Historical Fiction Online, there's a new discussion centering on History's new series about the Crusades.  For those who haven't seen the advertising, it centers on the statement that "Of all of the wars fought over religion, the Crusades belong in a category by themselves" - and this statement is the focal point of the discussion.

My post:

If the point of a tag line is to market a show about the Crusades, a sensationalistic and narrowly interpreted view of history may well be a must.  I've seen the ads too, and it's not exactly the stuff of dissertations; it's entertainment.  That doesn't make it okay, but to hold this statement to any sort of scholarly analysis is beside the programmers' point.  In any case, the statement itself is one of those technically-defensible declarations like saying to a bad actor, "your performance was *interesting*" or "such-and-such (whatever) is unique."
Depending on how one sets up the concept and determination of "category", sure, the Crusades (as K**** points out, there is more than one way to define that designation, too) belong in one by themselves.  So does any war, so does any ruler, so does any leaf or molecule or system of planets.  It's a pretty meaningless phrase, but it *sounds* heavy with import, so it sells a show.  Nothing new - over millennia now, popular perception still trades on certain stereotypes, facile (mis)interpretations, and misconceptions galore.  This one, being empty, is probably a less important statement than the hard-trodden regurgitations and tropes that will probably comprise most of the content of the programming itself.

The History Channel is a station which also touts a show called "The Men Who Built America" (because, after all, women hadn't been invented in 18th- and 19th-century North America (and that is the only period in which this country's history is relevant - hah)).  They also, not for nothing, rarely broadcast anything to do with history at all anymore, much to a lot of electronic "nyah-nyah"-ing discussion and sneering.

It's not like these folks are anyone's idea of a go-to resource for serious historical scholarship.  I may even watch - if only to encourage the brand (history over pawn-focused "reality" teevee) ...

Monday, November 19, 2012

Richard's Face

This I look forward to seeing, certainly - they're forensically rebuilding the face of the skeleton from the carpark.

Wikimedia Commons
Portrait circa 1520 (earliest known)

Loved it when they did King Tut.

National Geographic

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Two Tonight

So far, tonight's list has yielded two agents I will query (but haven't yet; I'm culling first this time).  Not bad, actually - but I'm coming close to the end of my current list, so will need to create another one soon.

With my mom traveling for the holiday, I'd been looking forward to being an orphan and using the time entirely for myself, but plans changed when a neighbor turned out also to be orphaned for the holiday.  Now the two of us will be the three of us, and things are looking a bit more "traditional" - particularly in terms of the $70 worth of groceries I bought today - for the holiday, but it'll be nice.  BUT not productive in the way I'd half anticipated.  Hah - poor, sad me, to have company over Thanksgiving!

At least tonight I'm finding some possibilities.  There's progress in that, too.


Kitten is still a kitten - but he has almost just this weekend reached a point where his cuteness is becoming handsomeness.  Okay he's still stuff-loaded with cuteness.  But he's gaining a different look as well.

Aww.  And as I type this, he's curling up between my ankles.

Yeah, pretty cute.  The handsome boy.

Saturday, November 17, 2012


Yesterday was the ten-year anniversary of the first time I met Mr. X.  We've been long distance almost this entire time, but there's almost a fondness in looking back at the time that separation was only by 150 miles.

For the past six months or so, since the last time I saw him, there's been a sort of litany of disaster at both ends of the extreme distance between us.  Nobody's happy, and he in particular has got a crap deal.  I've got looming issues beyond my control - but, during the past week, have been pushing back hard on what I can.  Gaining steam at work.  Gaining ground with Penelope's training.  Planning Thanksgiving with my neighbor and a friend of hers, organizing some things, looking out toward the holidays, hopefully looking at installing a fence in the backyard.

Tonight, I will take myself out in celebration.  I haven't been "dating" myself in a long time ... and yet, it's still a part of who I am.  I've just been, frankly, a bit too depressed.  Even last week, a charming acquaintance said we should meet out, and I ended up stewing in my middle-aged-overweight-lady juices, staying home and watching "Dinner at Eight."

A good movie - but an opportunity missed.

Tonight, I seize opportunity, dust myself off, make myself shiny, and see who's out even if last week's friend isn't guaranteed.  Maybe I will dance, in impractical shoes.

Tonight, I celebrate ten years of what loving X has made of me.

Fast Learner

Today, Penelope is practicing "down" in a non-greeting situation for the first time.  Good LORD does she obey with alacrity when she is motivated.  She's only pooped in the house two times since last week - and, given that twice a day was her minimum before, that is pretty achin' good.

It'll take time for "down" to take in a real-world situation, but she's pretty amazingly smart.  Things are looking up for this little pack.

*Currently being kneaded by a kit with fresh-cut nails*

Life's not bad on pre-Thanksgiving Saturday.

Friday, November 16, 2012


No.  It hasn't escaped my notice I adopted a dog named Penelope.

Once Again - We're Not So Much Smarter

My theme of late:  Yes, Virginia, people didn't suddenly develop intellect one century ago (or less ...).  Science says so.

What Forkery Is This?

In historical fiction, there are some recurring fascinations we revisit - subjects, historical tidbits, the surprises of interpretation.  The Tudors will never stop exerting their charisma on storytellers, it seems.  Or we like to retread Stupid Medieval People - or stop and Wait, Medieval People Were SMART! - or regurgitate tales of royalty (*uncomfortable pause*  ...  " ... hi ...").  One of the things we like to share from our researches is the history of the fork.  It shows up in movies from time to time, usually in a scene marveling the pomposity of innovation.  But we seem to be tied up on tines.

The entirely delightful Elizabeth Chadwick has a bit to say about forks (including how forking is a sin!).  Pithy, but illustrated and informative!

Early 20thC Color Photography

It's amazing how rich and gorgeous these images are.  I had an uncle who had a book of extremely early color plates from Russia, once - they were fascinating.  So are these, so PLEASE go look at them!

A History of Dentistry

Having a cleaning next week, I'm feeling pretty good about the demise of certain drugs' (cocaine, arsenic!) place in dentistry.  Read a dentist's essay on the history of the practice here!

With my own history of new teeth every ten years *since* I was ten, I have never been dainty about the drill.  Still, that pelican is a fairly scary looking implement ...

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Steam. Powered. Nerdliness.

I am dying to know the memory on this little booger (not the sleek and fuzzy one):

Pet Mood

It is almost astounding the extent to which the dog's house training has affected my mood.  It may be the other issues summer and onward have left mouldering on my plate, and one will continue to loom over me for some time to come, but the literal and figurative tone and position of my life over the past month or two has been "in the toilet" - as, indeed, since adopting Penelope five and a half weeks ago, the house has become.

Of course, I'm not immune to the romantic ideas we're all prone to, and "getting a new dog" was supposed to be a time of unmixed joy perhaps, even as realistic as I try to be about things most of the time.  Or, at least, if the joy had some frustrations mixed in - they were supposed to be *dwarfed* by the extent of gooey love I was supposed to be falling-in with My New Dog.  Frankly, it was rather like that with Gossamer - and it's no coincidence I adopted him two days after a literal car accident - and it's no accident, at that, the two adoptions were timed as they were, with an all-but-unadmitted desire to pack on a sense of blessings and excitement at a time otherwise marred by the loss of my Sweet Siddy La, the accident, the health issues, the overwhelming awareness of being without a partner, the damned inconvenient fallout of life itself.

So the gap between the foster mom's statement that she was "almost there" with house training and the reality, that she could scarcely be persuaded that outdoors even represented an opportunity for eliminating her extras at all ... was, at first, incredibly dismaying.

I've tried to focus on her whip-smart intelligence, though, and her extremely clear desire to please me as her alpha dog.  She learned peeing outdoors fairly well, but the poop issue was beginning, even only last week, to seem to be a vanishing goal I would never reach, with her.  I despaired of learning, myself, how to speak Puppy well enough to get her to understand.

When it became clear she "got" that mom wants no poop in the house, oddly enough, I was gratified.  Even though, at first, her method to meet this goal was ... eating the poop.

Yeah, I know.  But she is a dog, people, and dogs exist outside the human penchant for getting squicked.  I look at animal behavior in my home not as a shocking joke or offense, but as ANIMAL behavior coming from an ANIMAL - and I never forget that I too am an animal, when it comes down to it.

As a wise person I'm fortunate to be acquainted with online put it:  "you speak puppy with such an accent she can't understand you."  Well put, that, and it's not about HER understanding ME - it's about ME making myself coherent to HER.  The mountain goes to Mohammad, when the mountain is made of poop and it's continually rebuilt in the dining room.  (Ugh.)

So she saw what the goal was, and - like a puppy - she dealt with it in a fairly nervous manner which a human observer might find ineffective and nasty, but (I had to focus on this) *she dealt with it*.  That and a hundred other things have shown me - this dog is not stupid.  She is, in fact, probably the smartest dog I've ever had - AND she is the youngest I personally have had responsibility for, of course, which is all to the good - because, untrained as she is, she is *untrained* - so I have a lot of opportunity for communicating with a fresh, nimble, and eager-to-please mind here.

Depressed I may have been, focusing on this to the exclusion of the actual ultimate causes (ahh, humanity - easily squicked, and so eager to glom onto proximate causes rather than ultimate solutions), I've been paying attention, and the saving grace has been not quitting on one strategy.  My accent is bad, but I can modulate my puppy-speak, where Penelope can't really modulate what she's able to "hear".

So after two foolish walks, where she did go poo outside, and I was slathering on all the "GOOD GIRL, GO POOP **OUTSIDE**!!!" I could, I realized - duh - what she needs is immediate reward, and a more potent one than the verbal.  Bring a damn Milk Bone along on the walk, stupid.

She'd HEARD the "good girl, go poop OUTSIDE!" speech, to be sure.  She likes verbal praise.

But damn if the remediation hasn't been pretty much instantaneous, clockwork-schedulable (!!), and almost entirely reformed as long as I keep to the proper behavior.

Penelope finally got me trained.

It's stupid this should make me so happy, but holy hell several days now of NOT fearing the moment I smell dung in my dining room (the entire house, that is) is better than Zoloft, for so MUCH of my general outlook.  I'm actually performing better already at work, seriously.

It all comes down to communication.  And I finally got it right, at last.

Says little Miss PeNED-opy:  "I won't poo in the house if you remember WHEN to walk me and don't forget the Milk Bones - m'kay?"

And, dear readers, Diane is listening ...

Bad Copy

"Assuming that your manager OK's" ...

Spotted in an employee communication today about time off requests.  The term "okays" would be only one single space longer than OK's is.  And it would not cause me mental anguish.   Please fix this.

Thank you.

*Expiring in a puddle of unpunctuated goo*


"Obama Meets C.E.O.'s As Fiscal Reckoning Nears" ...

Good lord, what punctuation addicted profligate wrote this?  For the NEW YORK TIMES?  And what editor let it fly?

And - the President is  meeting with a CEO's what, exactly?

My brain hurts.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Titanic Jewels

The jewels of the Titanic (not including that tacky Heart of the Ocean pendant, we hope) may be coming to a city not exactly near you.

"The purpose of the exhibition is to show the public the wonder of exploration" ...  (Wait.  It's not wealth porn?)  Whatever the reason, the preservation is remarkable, and the work intricate, fine, and rather lovely.  Makes me want to go drool at the Faberge' we have locally again.


Smithsonian Magazine showed up recently on my Twitter suggestions, and that was a Follow in a hot minute.  They don't seem to post a steady stream, so this is my first link from them, but the photography here reminds me of the sort of fascination we sometimes found in dad's subscription when we were younger.

I can also remember (back when my eyes were so perfect) sitting on the counter in the bathroom, nose all but pressed to the mirror, and staring intently into the detail of my irises.  It fascinated me that the colored surface of that circle, under my lens, looked "dusty" to me.  How could something moist appear particulate like talc, like the dry dirt on the ground?

Suran Manvelyan

These images are almost too particular, themselves, to avoid almost grossing some people out, but deeply fascinating indeed.

More Trek-nology

First we had the tractor beam story.  This time, it's a universal translator!

Impossible not to think of the Babel Fish - both Douglas Adams' conception, and Teh Intarwebs edition - and hilarity ensuing (breaking down language barriers - causing more and bloody wars than anything in galactic history).  It ensues in this vid, to be sure.  Still.  Gee-whiz stuff, to be sure!

Jefferson ...

... as a Saxon heir.  Thanks to Jeff Sypek for another intriguing post!


An interesting article for us, at a(nother) time when the U. S. as world power is compared to Rome (by people who haven't studied Rome particularly).  Environmentalism before it had a name (and vegetarianism, and a rather interesting set of ideas on how to handle lead ...).

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Coming Clean

Day, I read this and thought of you - hoping you will see and enjoy!  Ashes, tallow, and turpentine - the way to keep things clean, Regency style ...

Foray Into History

We haven't only been fighting wars since the 20th century.  Antietam.

Vintage Images

There are some remarkable and inspiring images at The Passion of Former Days this week.  First, photos of voters going back to the early 20th century (the final shot, of a New Zealand crowd in 1931, is striking!).  Second, for Veterans--er--Armistice Day this week, portraits of those who served in WWI.

Kim Rendfield

Kim, I must apologize for being LATE to say congrats on how well your new baby is thriving!

Also, what a great post from your dad - mine was a physics professor as well.  *Grin*

Friday, November 9, 2012

Oddly Enough ...

... not the first story of hope I've seen about a pickle startup this week ...

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Jane C. Louden

Someday, I need to read this.  I also need to read a bit more about the author, Jane C. Louden - a woman who produced 22nd century mummy sci-fi in 1827.  In which women of the future are posited as wearing *trousers* and having hair ornaments with flame.  In which no man plays god.

Did I mention she (SHE) wrote this close to 200 years ago?  And married one of her own fans?  And became one of the most famous horticulturalists of her century?  Excellent.

My Idea of Patriotism

I noodled around with this post yesterday, but it appears I never put it up.  Little late post ...


Yesterday, leaving the polling place, it seemed of course dead appropriate to me to listen to an Englishman, so I cruised on Bowie and enjoyed my commute.  He finished off my drive with "Heroes" - a song I've always found pretty powerful, but which seemed appropriate to the culmination of a wearing campaign season. 

Today, once I shifted away from NPR, I hit the radio instead of the CD player, and was treated to ...  "Too Sexy for My Shirt" which was a giggle.  Even more of a laugh, the "we play anything" station segued from Shirt into Tom Petty - hilarious enough given almost any track, but again, somehow pleasing and appropriately, the song they chose to play was "American Girl". 

I liked Petty fine when I was younger - he never set my teeth on edge the way Springsteen *STILL* does, nor got worn out by the DJs like Stevie Nicks and Led Zeppelin did.  I was enough of a little white Southern girl (still am ...) to go for the rock they fed us - Bad Company (yes, I'm aware they're not exactly Georgia boys; tell it to every pink-necked boy I grew up with), even Charlie Daniels, I can admit that.  Petty, though, has aged very well indeed, and he appears to be a pretty smart cookie, as simple as a song like "American Girl" may seem in its way.  Simplicity, as it turns out - particularly with music of a certain flavor - is genius, and "American Girl" still curls up in a VERY comfortable place indeed in my aging mind.  Petty doesn't feel stale - where, as much as I like it, "Shooting Star" feels of-its-time in a very different way.  BC take me back.  Petty just is.  American Girl may not sound modern - and his early 90s work in particular is less flexible - but take a listen to "Breakdown" and it doesn't drag you to a particular place (unless you have a personal association to link that song to a memory of your own) necessarily.  He doesn't sound more 70s than 80s than now, his music has a tensile twang that, no matter when you hear it, you can take or leave.  It's likeable - or it's not.  But it's not laden with bellbottoms or skinny ties or mullets or election-memories, circa 2000.  (Sorry, Fleetwood Mac, but y'all tied yourselves to Clinton in '93, and ever since, there've been branding issues with politics and music.  Happy end-of-your career, Kid Rock ...) 

We've come to the part of the year where it's still dawn and dim when I drive in to work, and dark when I go home.  Music can be more fun on a breezy golden day, with a sunroof - but music in the intimacy of cold and dark, all alone in the car with the news of the day quieting the noisy tires, music can really make me laugh (you all KNOW I was thinking of the President when Right Said Fred was playing when I changed channels - right?  I'm not one of those women with a crush, but he's by far the only president I can imagine who *could* laughingly listen to that song in front of all of us, and maybe bust a little move or two), and music can make me just feel good.  Thanks, Tom.  You're not half bad, says this American ... Broad.