Nov. 29th, 2015 09:36 pm
oursin: Frontispiece from C17th household manual (Accomplisht Lady)
[personal profile] oursin

Monday, made a version of Greenstein's 100% wholemeal loaf 50:50 ordinary wholemeal and wholemeal spelt. Not entirely successful - don't think I gave it enough kneading/shaping and it was rather given to breaking up.

Saturday breakfast rolls: the adaptable soft roll recipe, something like 60:40 wholemeal spelt (end of the bag)/strong white, with dried cherries.

Today's lunch: halibut steaks baked in foil with sushi ginger and lime; served with Greek spinach rice, chicory quartered, healthy grilled in avocado oil, and splashed with pomegranate molasses, and padron peppers.

In the making: the Collister/Blake My Favourite Loaf: white spelt/wholemeal/einkorn flours, a splash of walnut oil.

Dept of false dichotomies

Nov. 29th, 2015 05:08 pm
oursin: hedgehog in santa hat saying bah humbug (Default)
[personal profile] oursin

Very irked by reading in this article: 'My father had one job in his life, I've had six in mine, my kids will have six at the same time':

Some pundit punditing as follows, as if it were a Bad Thing:
“We have been taught to believe in security over fulfilment, security over passion”

At which I immediately went WOT: how can it be that a precarious pursuit of a portfolio career, scurrying round trying to fit everything in, pay the rent, repay the student loans, keep oneself fed, etc etc is conducive to fulfillment; and what does it have to do with passion?

I am all for the benefits of a reasonable sense of security, and am like to suppose that it is on that basis that one is likely to be able to pursue a passion - which may not, in the beginning, or indeed ever, be profitable - and achieve fulfillment - which, after all, one may find in a way of life supported by one's not necessarily amazing job that nonetheless provides a regular paycheck (or these day, direct deposit into one's bank account).

I wrote a fic!

Nov. 29th, 2015 12:44 pm
quinara: Spike dressed up and looking down, trying to be sexy. (Spike thinking)
[personal profile] quinara
Long time no see, oh journal of mine... The ballet of another couple of months' term is now nearly over, so I'm almost feeling in control of things again. As it is, I think I always find the adjustment to winter a difficult one, getting out of time the moment the clocks go back and then taking a few weeks to get used to waking up in the dark. I bought a clock radio last week, which I think has helped my addiction to the snooze button, and has an added bonus of making me feel like a proper grown up: this week it was actually very straightforward to wake up and listen to the delightful strains of Absolute 80s (one of the not-dozens of digital stations the radio knows - and funnily enough the only decade of Absolute Radio that it can get). The breakfast show is quite entertaining, some of the time, and it's always upbeat.

My flat décor is very nearly finished, and I'm hoping, either if I get around to it or forget about the fact I should really have an electrician in, that by my one-year anniversary of moving in (late next January), I will feel like there's nothing pressing that still needs to be done, and I can finally start saving some money for a holiday vel sim! And it's been long enough at least that I'm starting to feel connected to my furniture, as it is no longer 'new' but reminds me of the time when I bought it, in the spring, which seems ages ago given how things have progressed and always seem to progress in my job. I also have a lot more houseplants, so how can things go wrong? There's a squat little palm tree by my bookcase that's getting on for a month old and hasn't died yet, so here's hoping it can actually survive in my West-facing living room.

In more exciting news, though, I have also written a fic for [ profile] seasonal_spuffy. It's sort of set in the comics, but only half-arsedly, and I couldn't think of a summary, so that is rubbish. It's basically my spin on the plotline of 'Spike may be killing people in his dreams; Buffy goes into his brain to figure stuff out'. They get sidetracked, and a lot of the focus is on stuff pre-series or during the TV run. If you remember Somnambulist from AtS season 1 and Spiral from BtVS s5 you can probably merrily imagine the plot as I evoke it. It's about Spuffy in this post-series way, but also about Spike and Nikki Wood.

There are also tarot cards! You can guess which three I selected on purpose, but anything else was drawn properly and then I went to town having a read. I wouldn't necessarily say it's the only way to read them, but I'm very keen on the idea that tarot meanings are very much about their context in the spread, so... Anyway: here's the fic, 11-12k words, in five chapters, PG-13...

The Page of Wands


Doctor Who 9.11 Heaven Sent

Nov. 29th, 2015 01:43 pm
selenak: (Equations by Such_Heights)
[personal profile] selenak
The one wherein the Moff shows he REALLY trusts his leading actor. A lot.
Bird! )

A visit to my dearest loves

Nov. 29th, 2015 11:28 am
the_comfortable_courtesan: image of a fan c. 1810 (Default)
[personal profile] the_comfortable_courtesan

Docket, says I, you know I am going away for a little visit with the F-s. As 'twill be very much a family gathering, rather than a society visit, I confide that you would find time hang very heavy upon your hands there, and really, I do not like to take you travelling at this time of year. Do they have any company while I am there, I daresay Williams would be able to contrive to furbish me up as necessary: she is not you, or Tibby, but I am sure she would answer.

Docket does not immediately dismiss this, but considers for a while and says that Williams is one that has a good understanding of her business indeed. She adds that Biddy Smith has been very desirous that she should come stay a few days – for Biddy has never marry’d, has neither chick or child, and doubtless feels somewhat solitary at such seasons. It would sure be very agreeable to stay with her and talk over old times when they were giddy girls (indeed I find this hard to imagine), and as she is helping Phoebe with her trousseau, is in hopes of Biddy’s very valuable opinions on the matter.

I say I hope that she will not over-do. Docket snorts. A little light agreeable sewing whilst in good company? 'Tis quite recreation, Your Ladyship.

I am entirely put in my place.

She goes on that she hears from Phillips (as she styles Tibby according to her new station), that the household will be going to Q- for a house-party so there is no likelihood that she will be able to visit. Yes, I say, I had heard that they were going out of Town. I confide that you will have instruct’d Phillips on how to maintain her own and Her Grace’s consequence in such a circumstance. Docket concedes that she has.

When I speak to Hector concerning my departure I can see that he is somewhat in two minds: that he should go with me, because I should not travel unaccompany’d save for Ajax; but that did he so, he fears scenes of riot would break out in the household were his hand remov’d. For Phoebe is sure somewhat distract’d these days. Also, Titus is performing in several concerts, and he would desire to attend these. I persuade him that it is entirely proper that he should stay.

I add that of course Mr de C- entirely has the entrée to the household in my absence, tho’ I daresay he goes about to visit his family –

Hector says that he thinks perhaps not, as he would have desir’d to introduce Phoebe to them, and they are making difficulties. I sigh. Well, he is entirely welcome here.

I tell Euphemia that she may set a suitably lavish festive table for the household.

Sure I would be quite sad to leave my good people but that I am going to my darlings.

'Tis indeed not the best time of year to travel, but with my fine coach and good horses 'tis more comfortable than might be, and Ajax keeps me supplied with boxes of hot coals so that I do not take a chill. He is still most taciturn with me tho’ will talk quite freely to gentlemen, the F- boys, &C. Perchance were I a horsey lady like unto t’other Lady B-, he might converse more (t’other Lady B- has most kindly said I am ever welcome at their place in Northamptonshire: sure 'twould be most agreeable to see her but I doubt I should be at home in their racing and hunting set).

At last we drive up outside my dear loves’ fine new house and there is a crowd at the door to greet me: my dear ones, Flora, that will not be held but stands on the ground, Bess, Meg, Josh and Quintus. I kiss my darling very ladylike, shake hands with our dear Grand Turk most exceeding proper, pick up and kiss my lovely Flora, that remembers me and calls me by the pretty name that her infant tongue makes of Aunty C-. I oblige Quintus with tiger-growls.

O, I am so very happy to be here. Miss N- comes up very friendly and says she hopes I will tell the children about my travels, and perhaps we could have a little Shakspeare?

That would be entirely delightfull, I say, I have brought a few little souvenirs from Naples as presents.

We go into the parlour and have tea while I distribute the cameos and other trinkets made out of lava and some of the quaint pretty little figures that they make in those parts to compose nativity scenes, which are a great matter to them.

My dearest says that she was indeed sad to leave poor Lady W-, for altho’ she seems less daz’d with the cessation of opium, she is still very low-spirit’d. But Mrs Black was most entirely comforting on the matter, says that she has seen this before in new mothers, that the humours have become unbalanc’d somehow during parturition, and she should be kept comfortable, encourag’d to eat healthy, have companionship &C, and altogether confides that Lady W- will pull round shortly. Tho’ 'tis distressing to see a new mother in such low spirits, 'tis less to be concern’d with than when they become very wild and excit’d and indeed, one can only say, mad and a danger to themselves and their infant.

Oh, indeed I hope she pulls round, I say, for 'tis quite frightening to see her so unlike herself, and indeed one is most sorry for poor Sir B- W-, that feels himself so lost.

I am most pleas’d, however, says my dearest, that Mrs S- takes it upon herself to go visit and try to keep her spirits up, which is particular kind when one thinks how much she would be ecstatick did she at last become a mother herself. But Sir B- W- cannot tell the dreadfull crocodile to stay away, and I cannot think her a soothing influence. She sighs. And Mrs S- is off to this house-party at Q-.

Indeed, I say, I could almost wish I was there to see the meeting 'twixt her and Lady J-.

I look about the room, and am charm’d by Bess and Meg holding up little figures for Flora to look at but not letting her hold them for fear of accident. Josh has conced’d to play bears with Quintus.

But where is Harry? I ask.

Mrs F- sighs crossly. O, he is being exceeding tiresome at the moment, we think he is getting into a bad set at the school – o, I am sure it is not a bad set like His Grace us’d to be in that you told me about, they are but silly schoolboys after all – that makes him asham’d and discontent about his home. He behaves very sulky about the house.

O dear, I say, well, perhaps being back at home will improve him.

My darling sighs again. Sure I hope so, for I think does he continue in this way, it makes the whole household very uneasy.

Indeed, say I, young fellows sometimes go thro’ this time and yet pull out of it and become quite sensible: I saw young Sebastian K- at Mrs S-'s lately and one would hardly know him the same one that was going about in a very bad set indeed a few years ago - is diligent in learning his father’s business and most civil manner’d. That was an extreme bad set, under the influence of a most pernicious rogue of years to have known better. I cannot suppose that Harry’s school offers anything of the kind. Also, I say, if we speak of the follies of youth, did not Mr F-…

Hush, says my darling, beginning to smile.

I go to my seclud’d chamber and Williams comes in saying she has unpackt my trunks and there is hot water do I wish to wash.

O, this is very good of you, I say, conveying her a compliment. I hope I shall be no trouble to you during this visit.

O, Your Ladyship, 'tis quite an honour that Docket confides you to my care, for she is most extreme exacting.

Indeed I know it, say I. Well, perhaps you could come help me dress, if Mrs F- has no more need of you, once I have washt and taken a little rest.

'Tis a very pretty room that they set aside for me. I am most happy to be here, tho’ I find myself in a little worry that perchance Harry has heard some gossip about Lady B- that us’d to be the notorious Madame C-.

Harry is at dinner but indeed is sulky and surly of manner, has to be told by Mr F- to shake my hand and make polite. Also he speaks crossly to his sisters and brothers.

My darlings come to me in the night and we exchange many kisses and embraces and fond words, tho’ I chide them for thinking I do not consider myself entirely devot’d to them. Sure, should I shock Mr Q- by prevailing upon him to draw up some legal document?

I kiss them both very fondly and say that they should leave sillyness to me.

As if we supposed you silly, says Mr F- very warmly. 'Tis another of your masquerades.

Alas, says I, the Grand Turk has an all-seeing eye that penetrates to the heart of matters, there is no concealing from him.

Indeed not, for I see a wild girl that thinks she is hidden and goes about to pounce out and play bears.

O, says my darling, I thought you were quite distract’d.

And then we are all entangled very loving together.

oursin: Animate icon of hedgehog and rubber tortoise and words 'O Tempora O Mores' (o tempora o mores)
[personal profile] oursin

Hence the cliche of the millennial who can’t bear talking on the phone, and thinks it unconscionably rude when someone calls, except in an emergency, without emailing first.

I am not inclined to think that this is a sudden new phobia about unanticipated phone conversations, because I know plenty of people, including myself, who am very far from being a 'millennial', who would rather discourse in email or arrange matters online without human intervention in really rather an overwhelming lot of situations, not to mention those who really do have a 'deer-in-the-headlights panic' over phone conversations?

Indeed I'm not convinced phone panic/distaste necessarily maps to feelings about face to face real-time conversation.

How much do I like e.g. being able to book GP appointments online without having to ring the surgery, wait on hold until the receptionist is free, and then go through them finding slots with doc that work for me? Really quite a lot.

What is wrong with being able to organise one's thoughts, either in the actual email or as a preliminary to phone conversation?

Also, in certain online social spaces people do talk about difficult feelings and situations and there are (textual) conversations about them.

Okay, I can be as annoyed as the next person (or even more so) by the person drifting through public spaces not noticing where they're going and who's around them, but I think that's a different thing.

Elementary 4.04

Nov. 28th, 2015 03:19 pm
selenak: (Holmes and Watson by Emme86)
[personal profile] selenak
Everyone to whom I still owe replies to comments: it's not you, it's me, I have a terrible headache and also yesterday, I had ca. 300 letters to write. I'm not talking exaggaratedly. The two might be connected.

However, watching Holmes and Watson turned out to be helping with the headache somewhat. And thus, a review:

Comfort tv ahoi )
the_comfortable_courtesan: image of a fan c. 1810 (Default)
[personal profile] the_comfortable_courtesan

I am at my desk one forenoon busy about a deal of correspondence when Hector shows in Sandy. I no longer need to state that we should desire good strong coffee as this will come quite without my saying.

He tells me that he has been offer’d very pleasing terms for the publication of The Antiquarian’s Daughter in three pretty volumes, and that there is a deal of interest in the tales I compos’d lately during our travels – he is like to wait to see what is the best offer.

That is indeed most gratifying, say I – and do help yourself to these fine shortbreads that Euphemia has made, that she quite not’d you have a taste for.

In other matters, he has spoke to Alf, that finds the prospect of a trip out of the country most congenial, as there are fellows from the Vice Society going about to make themselves very troublesome at known places of resort of the brotherhood in Town and there have been prosecutions. Also, he adds, I think he finds the prospect of seeing Marcello again most pleasing.

Are we not in a state of great relief, he goes on, to think that does Marcello stab anyone, 'tis no longer our concern?

Indeed, I say, 'tis much more restfull to suppose that he is about wielding his stiletto upon the agents of the tyrannickal Bourbon in his native land. But, my dear Sandy, you look not as entirely happy as might be in the light of all this.

Sandy sighs and says, firstly, G- has many fine plans and in order to commence upon them, desires him to go with him to A- over the Christmas season, so that they can prepare matters in readiness for the New Year.

Well, really, my dear, you have been wont to complain of being solitary in a household full of resentment at R- House while he is away, and now you complain that you go with him.

Sandy glares and says I will recollect his sentiments about staying at A- during this season when there are G-'s family connections staying and the county visiting, and feeling quite entirely a fish out of water.

But, I say, is it not that this time you will have work upon hand?

He concedes that 'tis so, and sighs again. But also G- has got into some kind of worry - dearest C-, I know that you are an entire oyster of discretion, sure he cannot know about that time I was so exceeding foolish in Surrey?

Silence unto death! I declaim.

But he will wonder whether I have ever given the matter of women a fair consideration, and mention, as if in jest, but with an unease behind it, that it is never in doubt among those he knows but that I remain the helpless captive of Lady B-'s charms.

(Indeed I should be inclin’d to laugh at this had it not been for Milord’s strange remark about his own pretty fellow while we talkt in the olive grove.)

Hmm, say I: of course his father was one that would put a boy to bed with women as soon as he came to manhood, so I daresay he confides that he knows something of the matter of women from that.

So he tells it, agrees Sandy. But 'twas entirely not so with me.

While I will concede, say I with what is perhaps an over-fond smile at the thought, that one may be quite surpriz’d at discovering where one’s affections tend, this is not, I think, the usual case.

Indeed, says Sandy, I have always known, as long as I can remember.

I shrug. I know not why he should be in a fret about this; but he does, though somewhat slantwise, open his concerns to you rather than brooding upon them as he was once wont to do. Indeed you should do the like.

Sandy departs and I return to my own business, worrying a little about what is ado with Lord G- R-.

In the afternoon I go to call upon Mrs S-, as I am told that the S-s are at present in Town and I greatly long to see the dear creature.

The door is open’d to me by the maid, for they keep a very modest household, and I ask is Mrs S- at home? Here is my card. She gapes at the card as if she has never seen one but then takes it through to her mistress, who comes running out to greet me with a paintbrush in her hand.

Dear Lady B-! Such a pleasure! – Alice, go fetch us some tea, we will have it in the parlour. You have been away, I hear – Florence, was it?

Naples, I say, I was staying at the late Marquess’s villa tidying up various matters of business he left me.

Mrs S- sighs deeply. Mr S- quite longs to go to that part of the world and see the volcanoes, she says, I am sure that it is not really dangerous to go quite close providing they do not offer to erupt?

Oh, indeed there is little danger, I reply, while we were there Mr MacD- indeed climbed Vesuvius.

She looks at me. Mr MacD- was of your company?

Indeed, I say, Lord G- R- as the executor of my husband’s will and also his very old friend came along. There was a matter of some antiquities at the villa that the Marquess desir’d should go to the British Museum – Mr MacD- was of quite infinite assistance owing to his own classickal learning.

The maid comes in with tea. Mrs S- realises she still has the paintbrush in her hand and puts it down upon the tray. I see very little company here, she says in some explanation, I do not anticipate callers.

Have you heard about the terrible case Lady W- is in? What a dreadfull thing that is, and Sir B- W- in such a state over her, the poor fellow. Have you been to call upon her yet? – I concede that I have – is she not entirely unlike herself, quite a changeling? and I confide that the doctors are entire quacks that have no notion what to do, so they will go about purging and bleeding her to show that they do something, the wretches.

Indeed I had a notion, says I, I know not what you will think of it, but I wonder would Mrs Black, that has seen so many hundreds if not thousands of women as a midwife have experience to bring to the matter.

O, dear Lady B-, sure that it is a most excellent idea! I will write at once to Sir B- W- preferring her to him as most likely to have sound thoughts on Lady W-'s case.

I cannot like, I add, that she is given opium.

Opium! cries Mrs S-, indeed one does not like the sound of that, for I cannot suppose it to be anything but more lowering to her. Sure there are instances when a little laudanum is entirely the thing, but I am not persuad’d that it is the panacea. I think perhaps I should go visit and talk to Sir B- W-. Is not Mrs F- staying there at present? I am sure she will act my confederate in making a plea to consult Mrs Black.

This particular matter dispatcht and I confide in quite excellent hands, I ask how does she and the rest of her family. O, she and Mr S- do most exceeding well, apart from their constant sadness over lack of increase, but she was indeed hearten’d by talking to Mrs Black on the matter. Sebastian is buckling down to the matter of learning the business quite remarkable and is a great comfort to dear Papa; poor stepmama is no better tho’ possibly no worse just at present.

They have received a most charming invitation to join little V and the Duke at Q- for the Christmas season. She feels somewhat qualmish at the prospect, for it will not be like N- but very much a Society affair she does not doubt. However, little V says that Tibby, or as we must now style her in her new station, Phillips, will be entirely glad to be of help in matters of dress &C so that is one worry less.

And how does Her Grace? I enquire.

O, is quite full of the wonders of the Rhine that they saw on their cruise; but somehow I think her a little overwhelm’d by her new rank and its responsibilities: she looks somewhat sober’d by 'em. But His Grace is sure entirely all that is charming and shows great fondness. I have some little concern about Lady J-, who is a most admirable woman but –

Very much one that likes to command?

Mrs S- begins to laugh and then covers her mouth with her hand. Indeed I am sure she ever intends for the best.

But my dear Lady B-, she goes on, do you ever think of remarriage?

I am somewhat taken aback by this question, and say that it is still no great time since my late husband’s death, even if the mourning year is past.

For of course you must be aware that there is one most deserving young man that has long aspir’d to you, and in your new station you could make him most happy and aid his career –

Dear Mrs S-, I say, trying to maintain a straight face, if you mean Mr MacD-, as I confide you do, he once inform’d me that any fellow of any spirit would be entirely reluctant to marry for wealth and advancement –

But if he is anyway in love with you, does that not make a difference? says Mrs S- hopefully.

I am saved from having to devise an answer by the arrival of Sebastian K-, that looks most surpriz’d and delight’d to see me there and makes a very polisht leg.

O, says Mrs S-, I know one should keep calls to a certain length, but when I start talking to you, Lady B-, time runs away.

Dearest Mrs S-, I did not come here for some stiff formal call but to enjoy a good conversation, even, I may confess, a cozy gossip, with you.

She tells Sebastian to go ask for fresh tea, and see if we might have some buttered toast to it.

WOT Not Middlemarch????

Nov. 27th, 2015 08:42 pm
oursin: Books stacked on shelves, piled up on floor, rocking chair in foreground (books)
[personal profile] oursin

London’s oldest bookshop chooses first instalment of Trollope’s Barsetshire Chronicles, The Warden, as best novel published since the shop’s opening in 1797.

Okay, will cop to having read Very Little Trollope (possibly only the one in my VictLit undergrad course?) - for years I said I was saving him for my old age: I still am...

But, really, I suspect that this may be a Very Hatchards List, Hatchards being the Posh People's Bookshop on Piccadilly, possibly to books what Fortnum and Mason is to food.

Other thoughts on literary judgements and gender, in the light of a couple of widely circulated articles on the subject:
On Pandering: How to Write like a Man
If you enjoyed a good book and you're a woman, the critics think you're wrong
yr hedjog being someone who for years has read predominantly women writers (while I do not skorn utterly writers of the masculine persuasion, am v picky about them).

There is something there about the role of pleasure, and the idea not just of 'guilty pleasures' (kill the concept with fire) but pleasure itself being, if not entirely guilty, worth less than grimness and difficulty.

I cite my beloved GB Stern, who writes of books that provide an 'escape into happiness by the oldest swiftest route in the world, the story-book route', and comments that 'on these we usually keep a guilty silence unless confident of being among our fellow escapists', and praises 'the comfort and fun to be scattered by a small book about small people in small gatherings', concluding that 'there are other things to be done about the narrow earth than to bestride it'.

It would be wonderful to be able to write a novel that could stand alongside Middlemarch or South Riding, but if I could not aspire to those heights, what I should like to have written would be some work that may not be Big Literary Canonical Work but one that has gone on giving pleasure and being recommended between friends and rediscovered with cries of joy and appreciation.


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