I miss her desperately and can't seem to stop crying. Meanwhile the world we knew is ending, brutally and finally, and practically everyone is posting ... cat pictures ... as distraction from the outrage and horror. (Please don't stop doing this. Please don't link me to other distractions. Experience suggests that when I'm ready to stop feeling terrible I'll stop on my own. I don't especially want to stop crying for her just yet.)
I want to write about her and I don't know if I ever will. It's just too hard, and I couldn't stand to have done it badly.
So I'll write about one of the moments of comfort, instead. I woke up at 4 today, because the bed was too empty and still. She liked to sleep on me, you see, and whenever I woke up and rolled over she'd take a tour over to the food dish, eat a few kibbles, and then come back to see what part of me was available for lying on now. I woke up cold, and sad, and hungry, and Cat came in to sit with me, and after a bit we made tea and porridge.
2/3 C Red River cereal (or other multigrain hot cereal mix)
2/3 C steel-cut oats
1/3 C quinoa
1/3 C dried cherries, preferably unsweetened
And bring to a boil, stirring slowly.
When it boils, reduce the heat to the minimum, cover the pot, and let it simmer for 15-20 minutes
1/2 C milk
1 t cinnamon
Stir through and give the milk a minute to get hot,
And serve with hot, strong orange pekoe tea.
Consoles two, briefly but very well.
Which is a bit odd, when you consider that I'll cheerfully buy and cook with unmixed frozen vegetables: frozen peas, frozen corn, frozen spinach, frozen brussel sprouts, you name it. I live in Ottawa and I have health issues that reduce my energy a lot and I try to shop local and feed my family a lot of green (and red, and yellow) stuff, and that means we eat a fair number of frozen and canned vegetables in winter.
But until recently the very sight of one of these:
was enough to inspire a faint but definite desire to never eat anything, ever, again, except possibly buttered toast. "Sans Nom", indeed.
Friends, I was wrong. So wrong. Despite having learned decades ago not to boil things to death in heavily-salted water and wonder why they don't taste good, I had never until recently applied this knowledge to mixed frozen vegetables. I just assumed they tasted of nothing in particular, yet at the same time unpleasant, no matter what.
Last fall, with soup season closing in on me, I tentatively bought a small bag of mixed frozen carrots and green beans. I never seem to have cooking carrots handy exactly when I want them, and anyway if they're fresh I'd rather roast them, and using the baby-cut ones for cooking is, though handy as heck, kind of extravagant (or at least it makes me feel faintly guilty). And apparently frozen sliced carrots, alone, is no longer a thing you can buy, so I thought "well, we do like green beans," and went with the mixed. At worst, I figured, I could separate the two and use them in different things.
And it was awesome, and I started making vegetable soup oftener. And it was good.
So yesterday I was in The Store Formerly Known As Hartmans (btw, everyone local, they're having a VAST sale on boxed and canned staples. I brought home so many cans we had to reorganize the pantry. Beans! Baked beans! Beets! Seasoned green beans! Soup! Average outlay= $1 CDN/can.)
And I bought a huge bag of the aforementioned mixed vegetables (the exact bag pictured above) and today I spent ten minutes putting supper together and this is what we're having:
1 litre carton of beef broth (vegetable broth would obviously work as well, but we accidentally bought six-packs of beef broth twice running at Costco and with the price of beef I'm not making a lot of beef dishes, so it needs using.)
1 litre water
1 C pearl barley
1 C dry beans (Rancho Gordo Vallarta because I really need to use up my Rancho Gordos, but Great Northern or Navy would be good too. Beans are good, I tend to feel. Canned would also be good, and had I less time for the soup to simmer I'd've gone with a can of black beans or chick peas or six bean mixture —they sell it for bean salad, but I use it to liven up soups and stews— or whatever)
1/4 C dried onion flakes
2 stalks celery, chopped
2 C mixed frozen veg
About 1 Tablespoon each:
Penzeys's Northwood seasoning
2 bay leaves
I bunged it all into the pot and turned the heat to halfway between low and medium. It's simmering away cheerfully now and should be perfect by suppertime, which will be about four hours from now.
ETA: a-heh-heh-heh I now recommend using a HALF cup of beans and the same of barley, unless you, like me, want to end up a) hastily adding a second carton of broth and b) racking your brains for people to invite to supper so you're not eating this all week.
Here War Is Simple by W H Auden
Here war is simple like a monument:
A telephone is speaking to a man;
Flags on a map assert that troops were sent;
A boy brings milk in bowls. There is a plan
For living men in terror of their lives,
Who thirst at nine who were to thirst at noon,
And can be lost and are, and miss their wives,
And, unlike an idea, can die too soon.
But ideas can be true although men die,
And we can watch a thousand faces
Made active by one lie:
And maps can really point to places
Where life is evil now:
It is September and the night is warm. Not a sound disturbs the quiet. Somewhere away far to our right we hear the faint sound of continuous thunder. The exertion of the trip up the line has made us sweaty and tired. We slip most of our accoutrements off and lean against the parados. We have been warned that the enemy is but a few hundred yards off, so we speak in whispers. It is perfectly still. I remember nights like this in the Laurentians. The harvest moon rides overhead.
Our sergeant, Johnson, appears around the corner of the bay, stealthily like a ghost. He gives us instructions:
"One man up on sentry duty! Keep your gun covered with the rubber sheet! No smoking!"
He hurries on to the next bay. Fry mounts the step and peers into No Man's Land. He is rested now and says that if he can only get a good pair of boots he will be happy. He has taken his boots off and stands in his stockinged feet. He shows us where his heel is cut. His boots do not fit. The sock is wet with blood. He wants to take his turn at sentry duty first so that he can rest later on. We agree.
Cleary and I sit on the firing-step and talk quietly.
"So this is war."
"Yes, just like the country back home, eh?"
We talk of the trench; how we can make it more comfortable.
We light cigarettes against orders and cup our hands around them to hide the glow. We sit thinking. Fry stands motionless with his steel helmet shoved down almost over his eyes. He leans against the parapet motionless. There is a quiet dignity about his posture. I remember what we were told at the base about falling asleep on sentry duty. I nudge his leg. He grunts.
"Asleep?" I whisper.
"No," he answers, "I'm all right."
"What do you see?"
"Nothing. Wire and posts."
"I'm all right."
The sergeant reappears after a while. We squinch our cigarettes.
"Everything OK here?"
"Look out over there. They got the range on us. Watch out."
We light another cigarette. We continue our aimless talk.
"I wonder what St. Catherine Street looks like--"
"Same old thing, I suppose--stores, whores, theatres--"
"Like to be there just the same--"
We sit and puff our fags for half a minute or so.
I try to imagine what Montreal looks like. The images are murky. All that is unreality. The trench, Cleary, Fry, the moon overhead--this is real.
In his corner of the bay Fry is beginning to move from one foot to another. It is time to relieve him. He steps down and I take his place. I look into the wilderness of posts and wire in front of me.
After a while my eyes begin to water. I see the whole army of wire posts begin to move like a silent host towards me.
I blink my eyes and they halt.
I doze a little and come to with a jerk.
So this is war, I say to myself again for the hundredth time. Down on the firing-step the boys are sitting like dead men. The thunder to the right has died down. There is absolutely no sound.
I try to imagine how an action would start. I try to fancy the preliminary bombardment. I remember all the precautions one has to take to protect one's life. Fall flat on your belly, we had been told time and time again. The shriek of the shell, the instructor in trench warfare said, was no warning because the shell travelled faster than its sound. First, he had said, came the explosion of the shell--then came the shriek and then you hear the firing of the gun . . .
From the stories I heard from veterans and from newspaper reports I conjure up a picture of an imaginary action. I see myself getting the Lewis gun in position. I see it spurting darts of flame into the night. I hear the roar of battle. I feel elated. Then I try to fancy the horrors of the battle. I see Cleary, Fry, and Brown stretched out on the firing-step. They are stiff and their faces are white and set in the stillness of death. Only I remain alive.
An inaudible movement in front of me pulls me out of the dream. I look down and see Fry massaging his feet. All is still. The moon sets slowly and everything becomes dark.
The sergeant comes into the bay again and whispers to me:
"Keep your eyes open now--they might come over on a raid now that it's dark. The wire's cut over there--" He points a little to my right.
I stand staring into the darkness. Everything moves rapidly again as I stare. I look away for a moment and the illusion ceases.
Something leaps towards my face.
I jerk back, afraid.
Instinctively I feel for my rifle in the corner of the bay.
It is a rat.
It is as large as a tomcat. It is three feet away from my face and it looks steadily at me with its two staring, beady eyes. It is fat. Its long tapering tail curves away from its padded hindquarters. There is still a little light from the stars and this light shines faintly on its sleek skin. With a darting movement it disappears. I remember with a cold feeling that it was fat, and why.
Cleary taps my shoulder. It is time to be relieved.
From Generals Die In Bed by Charles Yale Harrison.
(Quantities are kind of a judgement call, but for 3-5 people:)
Chicken broth, one box.
Chicken thighs, diced, roughly one per person, or one breast for two people or the chicken leftover from last night.
Can of black or navy beans, undrained, or a couple of cups of cooked black beans with their liquor.
Can of tomatoes, diced
Frozen corn, maybe a handful. Maybe two.
Fairly tough greens (spinach disintegrates), chopped fine, as many as you want.
Onions and garlic, dried or diced, a ridiculous amount.
Ground ancho pepper, about a tablespoon.
Cayenne pepper, about a half teaspoon.
Black pepper, about a half teaspoon.
Oregano, about a teaspoon.
Cumin, at least a tablespoon.
Salt, maybe, carefully.
Tortilla chips, or corn tortillas, or flour tortillas.
Combine everything but the tortillas/chips, simmer for an hour. Longer if you want.
Pour over tortillas/chips.
You can also add:
Grated cheese, on top of the tortilla chips.
Cilantro, diced, on the chips.
Green onions, on the chips.
Toasted cumin seeds, on the chips.
Ground chipotle pepper, if you want hotter smokier soup.
Cooked rice, instead of tortillas/chips.
Veggie broth instead of chicken and skip the meat.
There are lots of ways to make this fancier, but I tend to end up making it quickly, on impulse, usually because someone's sick or in pain or just out of cope.
It turns out that while I'm a utility rider, and I will probably continue to waltz Matilda all over Ottawa, my natural distance is, well, medium-long. It turns out that I feel wobbly and weak and thirsty and crabby for the first 5 km of every serious ride not because I'm out of shape but because it takes me 10-15 km to get warm, loose, and happy. So there is probably some gentle touring in my future, and Matilda isn't the bike for that.
I've been looking at the MEC Mixed Tape for a while now, and now it's on sale, which MEC being MEC suggests it may be going away entirely or else being radically altered for next season. So now I need to make a call: am I buying this bike?
The main con it presents from my POV is that I love Kunstadt. I adore them. They are my bike shop forever, but they just do not have the bike I need.
However: I don't know a tonne about bikes. I'm learning — my tool kit and ability to fix minor issues is improving radically. I'm learning the lingo, but DAMN there is SO MUCH.
So, as I know there are many people here very fluent in Bike:
Is there a bike of which I am not aware which beats this bike and that you want to tell me about?
There are certain features I absolutely need in a bike, or else have decided I don't want to do without:
1) I require a step-through frame or a LOW mixte. The advantages of a diamond frame are entirely irrelevant unless you're getting me a new left hip, so please assume I'm aware of them and don't need to be told. Please also assume that I've read enough blog posts on how crap step-throughs are that I'm defensive on the topic and may bite if you take this as an invitation to air your theory, which you're certain will be new to me, about the crapness of step-throughs.
2) I require an almost entirely upright riding position. Again, unless you're an orthopedic surgeon looking for shoulders to rebuild, please don't try to convince me otherwise. My skeleton is hooped, and while conditioning can palliate this, it's going to stay hooped and throwing my weight onto my shoulders while I ride will lead to pain and injury.
3) I'm willing to put up with a lot of compromises to have an internal hub, and after serious research have concluded that the Nexus 7 is reliable, rugged, and possessed of all the ratio I expect to need anywhere in Ontario or Quebec I can forsee riding to in the next decade. It seems to be the sweet spot of affordable, effective, and reliable - the newer hubs have more gears but also more problems.,
4) I'm not willing to spend my life at the bike shop, so ruggedness and tolerance of the crappy pavement around here are more important than super low weight or incredible performance.
5) I'm not looking to pay a lot more than this - this is nearly twice what I paid for Matilda and that seemed like a lot at the time - though for the right bike I'd trawl second-hand bike ads. I love the Electra 7-is I've ridden, but they're heavy and yeowch the price.
I need it to be available in Ottawa, or at a stretch Toronto or Montreal. I'm not happy with the notion of buying a bike I have not test-ridden.
So. Anyone want to tell me about a bike I should test-ride before I go for this one?
While I was at it, I reduced the sugar, upped the cocoa and vanilla, of which no recipe ever has enough, (so if you're one of those cooks who, like me, habitually ups the cocoa in brownie recipes: um, don't. I already did that and this really does appear to be the upper edible limit) and added fruit, nuts, and chocolate chips for maximum decadence.
Very rich, not very sweet, very dense.
Preheat oven to 350F/180C
1/4 cup melted salted butter OR unsalted butter + 1/8 t salt.
1/3 C sugar, white or brown. For a sweeter brownie, 1/2 C.
1 T vanilla
1/4 T baking powder
1/3 C cocoa powder
1/4 C flour
In a fairly large bowl, using first a whisk and then a wooden spoon, mix the ingredients together in the order they're listed.
When no dry or white patches remain in the mixture, add (if you like)
1/4 C semi-sweet chocolate chips and
1/4 C dried cherries and
1/4 C pecans or walnuts
Spoon mixture into a well-greased small pan. Bake for 25 minutes. Let sit for 10 minutes.
Between the Wars (2113 words) by MarnaNightingale
Fandom: Marvel Cinematic Universe
Rating: General Audiences
Warnings: No Archive Warnings Apply
Relationships: Betty Ross/Bruce Banner, Jane Foster/Thor Odinson, Pepper Potts/Tony Stark, Pepper Potts & Natasha Romanov, Sam Wilson & James Rhodes, Natasha Romanov & Nick Fury
Characters: Bruce Banner, Sam Wilson, Pepper Potts, Natasha Romanov, Thor Odinson, Jane Foster
Additional Tags: Slice of Life, Aftermaths, Rolling Remix, post Age of Ultron, pre civil war
Which was the originating fic, so I didn't remix anyone, but I was remixed three times, which was tremendous fun and they're all great! (I also didn't guess before reveals because - heh - having done my bit, I had mod privileges).
For Team SSR:
Skin in the Game (1930 words) by Sholio
Fandom: Marvel Cinematic Universe, The Avengers (Marvel Movies), Captain America (Movies), Iron Man (Movies)
Rating: Teen And Up Audiences
Warnings: No Archive Warnings Apply
Characters: Sam Wilson (Marvel), James "Rhodey" Rhodes, Tony Stark, Steve Rogers
Additional Tags: Friendship, Team Bonding, Not Captain America: Civil War (Movie) Compliant
Sam didn't realize Tony's offer to build him a new set of wings was going to come with quite this much baggage, emotional and otherwise.
For Team Tony Stark: (I don't know why this is still showing as Anonymous; it's Sevenofspade
DEFCON 3 (1530 words) by Anonymous
Fandom: Marvel Cinematic Universe
Rating: Not Rated
Warnings: Creator Chose Not To Use Archive Warnings
Characters: Natasha Romanov
For Team SHIELD:
There Is No In-Between (the Fight The Good Fight remix) (3274 words) by tielan
Fandom: Marvel Cinematic Universe
Rating: Not Rated
Warnings: Creator Chose Not To Use Archive Warnings
Relationships: Maria Hill & Peggy Carter, Maria Hill & Clint Barton, Maria Hill & Steve Rogers
Characters: Maria Hill, Steve Rogers, Clint Barton, Peggy Carter, Melinda May
Additional Tags: Backstory, Friendship, Parallels
We’d rather have you with us, than against us, Peggy Carter told her after Madripoor. At the time, Maria thought it foolish flattery – appreciated it, sure, but it was a sweetener, not the truth. Then again, she’s now Deputy Director of S.H.I.E.L.D, so it seems the former Director was right.
The full list of fics, writers, and writing order is here, and you should go read! The rolling remix set-up was huge fun and produced an awesome supply of fics.
And, of course, thanks one more time to muccamukkfor being such an awesome, patient, hardworking mod and more particularly for a wonderful beta.
Quoth our clever and talented organiser and mod
There was one original fic, and three streams of remixes, if anyone would like to make guesses as to the order of the streams and/or the authors of the fic, please have a go in comments. No prizes past bragging rights, but I would consider checking the archive numbers of the fic cheating.
Go forth, enjoy, comment!
(This is a little late due to anticipated rl on my part)
Reveals of order and authors 5 August.
Combine in a largeish saucepan:
2 -3 fillets of cod, thawed
1/2 brick of medium-firm tofu, cut into 1/2 inch chunks.
1 can coconut milk
A solid dollop of Trinidadian green seasoning
Ginger, to taste. I use the stuff that comes in a squeeze bottle, but powdered would work fine or you could grate fresh. I used about 2T and the results are noticeably gingery.
Creole-style hot sauce, to taste. I used about 1T and there's a definite bite, there.
Pinch of salt
Let simmer covered on low for about an hour, then add
3 cups leftover white rice (you could obviously make fresh rice and pour the fish and tofu in sauce over it, but I just dumped it in and broke up the chunks)
Leave covered on lowest possible heat until the rice is heated through.
It looks like chunky rice pudding, but it's flavourful and pleasantly spicy.
As we also have leftover salad from the cottage, there's supper sorted out nicely.
A song for Canada Day:
A song for Memorial Day (Newfoundland):
A song for Pride (Toronto):
And a song for Moving Day (Montreal):
ETA: and one for Independence Day (USA):
And really, I assume you all know how to grill a sausage.
Patio Season Convinces Ottawa Woman She Doesn't Live In Desolate Arctic Hellscape Ninety Percent Of The Year.
"We are preparing for a very bad day," Allen said.
Then, his voice breaking with emotion, the fire boss who called Tuesday the "worst day" of his career, tried to sum up his feelings.
Tens of thousands have fled the city
"We successfully evacuated 88,000 people," he said. "No one is hurt and no one has passed away. I really hope that we can get to the end of this day and we can still say that."
I hope so too, sir. I hope so too.
In a time of death, some men—the resisters, those who work hardily for social change, those who preach and embrace the unpalatable truth—such men overcome death, their lives are bathed in the light of the resurrection, the truth has set them free. In the jaws of death, of contumely, of good and ill report, they proclaim their love of the brethren. We think of such men, in the world, in our nation, in the churches; and the stone in our breast is dissolved; we take heart once more."
benet: Oh, I have had an MRI, actually. That was my impression although, you know, I was on a looooot of Ativan
And I had already had [unpleasant medically required thing done] so anything shy of that basically seemed like a garden party
well, I'm ripped on codeine to prevent coughing.
I really want to do a track called Pelvic MRI now
benet: Might need to be an installation...
commodorified: I like it. Can I do the voice?
benet: the voice?
commodorified: You know: "the next segment will be four minutes of noise"
benet: oh yeah!
commodorified: You can do the "hold still" parts, your voice is more menacing
benet: You know, we kid, but a convincing MRI simulator that doesn't cost a packet a go might actually be useful for anxiety
commodorified: Hmm with the heavy blanket of soothing and the nice breeze. I do like the breeze.
benet: Actually I was thinking for anxiety about having an MRI
commodorified: Oh. I find them, um, pleasingly womblike.
I'm a hopeless freak, aren't I?
benet: No, I think it makes sense.
commodorified: Add a lightshow on the ceiling and I'd do them for fun.
benet: I mean, my ideal bed is basically a cave.
commodorified: Last time I didn't get the heavy blanket or the airflow so that was more twitchy.
This time they put a weighted blanket over my pelvis so my breathing wouldn't move it. Much nicer.
benet: I cannot remember those things but I prob had the blanket.
We talk about this stuff, some, and we talk a lot about the broader education of a queer activist. About racism, and poverty/classism, and feminism, and sex education, and reproductive justice, and disability, and what I came up calling 'linked oppressions' and is now referred to as intersectionality ...
And then again about vulnerability and shame and addiction and trauma and how they can echo down the generations of a marginalised subculture as they do down the generations of a family, and about building community and sometimes about psychology and sociology and anthropology and history and art ...
At one point I was tossing a bunch of books and names at him and suggested that I ought to make him a bibliography, and then, on further pondering, that maybe I should crowdsource it a bit, because while in some ways he and I are different enough for me to be useful to him - I'm a woman, I'm twice his age, my activist and academic experiences and preoccupations are different - at heart we're just a couple of white semirural Protestant SW Ontario kids not that far off the farm or the railroad.
Plus, it might be useful to people other than him.
So, here's my invitation/request: if you identify as an academic—formally or otherwise—and/or as an activist, tell me (him, us) about the books and essays and writers/artists and works that changed you, informed you, showed you aspects of yourself and the world that changed you and changed how you went to work. Your touchstones, as it were.
Everything is welcome: Movies. Music. Poetry, prose, fiction, academic works, famous or obscure, any field, any era. I'm particularly interested in works outside your own usual interests that turned out to be extremely important to you.
1) You don't need to explain why you're recommending something, but you are very welcome to. You also don't need to provide links, but they will be appreciated.
2) All works will be assumed to be both luminous and flawed, which is to say, do not challenge other commenters on their choices, or post dispargements/anti-recs. Those can be very valuable, but not here and now.
If you're reccing something that you consider problematic but still really valuable—or even valuable because it illuminates a really problematic mindset—you're welcome to say so, absolutely. Footnoting other people's recs is not so helpful here. If you know a better work on a topic, just rec it, okay? The goal here is the broadest possible net, and we won't get that if this turns into "your fave is problematic."
3) You can make as many recs as you like, or only one. Pick things that have lasted for you, things that have held up over the years, things that you're profoundly grateful not to have missed.
4) Feel free to link this, but I'd much rather it be linked to individuals or small groups who will be very interested than to larger groups who will be largely indifferent.
ETA: also, please don't reply to comments, as I'd like people to be able to come back and edit their comments (or add to them themselves if they can't edit for whatever reason), plus it makes everything easier to read.
"What is a rolling remix?", you ask, possibly in Maggie Smith's best Duchess voice.
WELL. I AM GLAD YOU ASKED ME THAT.
I quote Mucca:
One person writes a fic and posts it (without tags) to a locked collection on AO3.
The mod sends that fic to someone else, who remixes it in the tradition of remixes everywhere.
They post their (tagless) remix to the same locked comm.
The mod sends the remix (but NOT the previous story) to someone else, who would remix the remix.
Repeat steps three and four until we've run out of people.
Intrigued? Full rules and info at the above link, signups here.