commodorified: an image of an old woodenhulled icebreaker in a narrow open channel (northwest passage)
Poll #16371 MIXTAPE
Open to: Registered Users, detailed results viewable to: Just the Poll Creator, participants: 47

Would you like a mixtape?

Yes
44 (95.7%)

No
0 (0.0%)

What's a "tape", Grandma?
2 (4.3%)

Which mixtape[s] would you like?

Winter
17 (37.0%)

Thaw
19 (41.3%)

S.A.D. you can dance to
25 (54.3%)

Canadian Folk
29 (63.0%)

All will be well, and all shall be well
30 (65.2%)

No, sorry, you have to pick:

Winter
6 (12.8%)

Thaw
6 (12.8%)

S.A.D. you can dance to
11 (23.4%)

Canadian Folk
15 (31.9%)

All will be well, and all shall be well
9 (19.1%)

commodorified: the words Anglican Socialist Weirdo on a Green and Yellow abstract background (Anglican Socialist Weirdo)
The awesome Kate Hunt has written an article about our feral cat colony, and about feral cat management in general, for the Centretown Buzz.

Includes pictures of her own Arthur J Raffles, who we were lucky enough to be able to
place with her a year or so back, and Sage The Wonder Kitten, looking slightly more psycho than usual.

Sage has a forever home now, I'm glad to say.

I think we would all recommend the Daily Grind on Somerset West for all your "prolonged caffeine-soaked brunch while doing an interview" needs, by the way.
commodorified: All my friends tell me I actually exist, and by an act of faith I have come to believe them (friends)
So I post these things because I am surrounded by ridiculously smart and funny people who make me look witty.

You can get more Benet at his livejournal, (I keep trying to get him to DW but what can you do) which oddly enough is http://benet.livejournal.com or you can read his natural history blog, which is at https://walkingwithhenslow.wordpress.com/ or you can follow him on twitter: @aleph3

Leave him comments: I'm trying to get him to post more, and comments are good for that.
commodorified: where in this small-talking world can I find a longitude with no platitude? (a little MORE conversation)
Benet:
it's been up for over a week, and I'm still inordinately amused by the Toast's 'Bible Verses Where 'Thou Shalt Not' has been Replaced by 'can u not'.

http://the-toast.net/2014/12/29/bible-verses-thou-shalt-not-replaced-can-u-not/

Exodus 20:17
“Can u not covet thy neighbour’s house, can u not covet thy neighbour’s wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor any thing that is thy neighbour’s. can u just not."


(time passes)

[personal profile] commodorified:
Sorry, there were small children
Did you know there is A MONSTER at the end of this book?

Benet:
no but I can't say I'm surprised

[personal profile] commodorified:
A MONSTER
I feel like Oscar and Vivien are recklessly unconcerned with the possible consequences here

Benet:
if there were *two* monsters, that'd be a twist worthy of M. Night Shamwow

[personal profile] commodorified:
THAT IS THE SEQUEL
GROVER *AND* ELMO

Benet:
it's just like _Alien vs. Predator_.
but with more felt.

[personal profile] commodorified:
The Monster At The End Of This Book.
It's an app.

Benet:
not showing up in the Play store.. sure it's not iOS only?

(A series of remarks through which we establish that this app is, as yet, only available for iOS and Kindle omitted)

Benet:
yeah, Amazon's recent devices are their own weird-ass Android distro, there's a lot of stuff that only works there.

they also keep trying to hire me to work on them, which they'll have to go buy in the Nope Store

[personal profile] commodorified:
Can I get a tank for my Nopetopus there?

Benet:
and food for your nopefish
basically it's like Uber, but for nope

[personal profile] commodorified:
Wait, they'll come and pick me up and DRIVE me to nope?

Benet:
well, not necessarily. It's just, you know. Disrupty!

[personal profile] commodorified:
So I want to start an Uber for bicycle-rickshaws
Ok I don't. I want someone else to.

Will they deliver piping-hot artisinal Nope to my door in 30 minutes or it's free?
Cause there's a market for that.

Benet:
probably
I mean, given that the site which used to let you deliver bees to people you don't like has gone dark
you remember, www.beeswhyaretherebees.com
1-800-AHH-BEES
I don't think glitter really cuts it, next to live bees

[personal profile] commodorified:
Well the bees are vanishing.
Why would you send bees to people you dislike?
Bees should be for people you really love

Benet:
well, you know.. *angry* bees.
http://www.reactiongifs.us/wp-content/uploads/2013/04/bees_oprah.gif

[personal profile] commodorified:
Are you sure they're not just misunderstood?

Benet:
maybe?

[personal profile] commodorified:
It all sounds dodgy

Benet:
I honestly feel like wasps are misunderstood.
I mean, everyone is mostly on board now with the idea that bees are not aggressive.

[personal profile] commodorified:
I honestly am not the person to change that.

Benet:
but in my experience you really have to get up in a wasp's grill before it'll sting you

[personal profile] commodorified:
Well, okay. See, my problem is that they think "having sweet things and not sharing" is getting up in said grill

Benet:
well true

[personal profile] commodorified:
Along with "smelling like soft and dri"

Benet:
but I've taken some extreme close-ups of wasps and they just let me do it.
hmm

[personal profile] commodorified:
i mean, there are different types

Benet:
these are all valid cases, but I would hold it's still a ways from the whole "wasps will sting you because yolo" thing I see come 'round of Facebook every few months

[personal profile] commodorified:
I'm not joining the Friends Of Yellowjackets anytime soon

Benet:
fair

[personal profile] commodorified:
i think the problem is partly they'll build on houses and are territorial.
And I'm all FUCK YOU DO YOU EVEN PAY RENT

(later that evening):

[personal profile] commodorified:

IAN JUST SAID YOLOJACKETS I PLAN TO KILL HIM

“So the haters were subdued and they stopped invading Israel’s territory. Throughout Samuel’s lifetime, the hand of the Lord was against the haters.”

Amen.

Benet:

"Can u not pray like the hypocrites"
commodorified: (nothing like the sun)
James Burbidge is favourably impressed by The March North, and explains why.

(I realize that in the case of this particular book I am not an uninterested party, nor do I claim to be[1] but I can truthfully say that I've been taking James Burbidge's advice about fiction for a decade and a half now and it has rarely failed to work out for me.)


[1] I want [personal profile] graydon to sell books, both because he deserves to and because he - almost uniquely for a self-published author in my experience - paid good green cash at very nearly the going rate - and the 'very nearly' was me offering the 'good people doing good things' discount, not him asking - for a copyedit and proofread. And if he sells a reasonable number of copies of this book, he'll be able to pay me - or someone, but I hope me - to copyedit and proof the next two. Which I got to read by the way and they're great.
commodorified: A cartoon of a worried looking woman in a chef's hat (cooking for people who don't)
Because apparently instead of having curry and potatoes today, we're having Norwalk Virus.

Therefore:

1 large box of chicken broth
1 box of water
1 very large spoonful of miso

Bring to a boil, stirring steadily and breaking up the miso with two spoons as you go.
When the miso is broken up and the broth is boiling add:

1 package soba noodles. Reduce heat to maintain a rolling boil, follow timing on package.

Serves three people who effectively haven't eaten a damn' thing all day and aren't sure they want to.

You could add tofu, if you had any. Green onions, ditto. Or sesame oil and some siracha, if your stomach didn't object to the mere thought. But you don't have to.
commodorified: A cartoon of a worried looking woman in a chef's hat (cooking for people who don't)
My father-in-law (who took a year-long chef's course when he retired) and I were talking food recently and I mentioned spice mixes. "Oh, I don't use those," he said. "I mix everything fresh myself."

I ... changed the subject. I love him, but my God, he gets so bloody ... cheffy. And he cooks for fun, basically, which I'm not going to hold against him because I eat his food and it's awesome (if you were at our wedding you've eaten his food too) but most of us cook because people are hungry and living on takeout is ruinous to the wallet and one's health, both, and so we have to cook and would like the results to be tasty as well as vaguely nourishing.

I mention this here not to give FiL a hard time - I can do that in person - but because I hear it fairly often from what Peg Bracken refers to as Good Cooks Who Like To, and I think it is entirely wrong-headed and that it makes beginning and casual cooks feel like they're just not making the cut, and that's crap.

My cooking has improved tremendously since I a) discovered Penzeys (because we have to ship or carry the stuff we buy there back to Canada what we buy is pretty much mixes. For herbs and single spices, I have excellent local sources) and b) through using - and running out of - their stuff, developed the confidence to make and store my own mixes, and just generally relaxed and quit trying to season everything from scratch everytime like a real cook, whatever THAT means.

Just for starters, I have bad allergies and my sense of smell comes and goes and my cooking duties ... don't. I haven't pepper-bombed anyone in months thanks to seasoning mixes.

So here are some reasons why I love, love, love spice and seasoning mixes:

1) Convenience

Sometimes (ok, often) I'm not making an Incredibly Detailed Special Meal. I'm trying to get everyone fed and stave off the anguished cries of Oh God Is It Canned Beets Again? So I put Tsardust (Ian spent a year in the USSR just as it was ceasing to be the USSR. He ate a lot of borsht, and this is basically borsht or Russian sausage seasoning, which now reminds him of the trip and makes him feel warm and fuzzy, so I bought some to surprise him and now consider it a staple and I use it in just so many things, you guys it's amazing on lamb) in the beets, or Old World (goulash seasoning) on the spinach (reviews of that one were mixed. If you like smoky greens you'll probably like it) or Krakow Nights (Polish sausage seasoning, actually) on the potatoes. I put Fox Point in my scrambled eggs and Ozark and bouquet garni in the breading for fried pork chops and I use steak seasonings (two kinds) and Adobo seasoning and various rubs and cajun seasonings and chili powders and there is just no end to it and I have a pretty good idea which seasonings go with what for main and side dishes and my day to day cooking is so much faster and simpler and better and I swear less. A bit less. I do swear a lot.

2) Consistency.

I have an excellent book on Cajun cooking by Paul Prudhomme, and he mentions in a few places that in his restaurant they use spice mixes for almost everything, because restaurant cooking must be consistent.

They make them onsite and make them in batches big enough for no more than a week or two, to keep the quality high, but they make them and use them in damned near everything and he recommends that home cooks using his book do the same. (You can buy his mixes, he sells them on his site, but in the book he also tells you how to make your own).

I know damn-all about celebrity chefs, so maybe there's something terrible about Prudhomme's cooking I don't know, but let me tell you what, based on his writings and recipes I like the cut of his jib and wish to eat his food if I ever get a chance.

Home cooking doesn't have to be consistent in the same way, you can always tweak the seasoning of a dish just because you want to try something new, or are craving salt or spice, but if you've made something and you like it, you want at least the option where it comes out more-or-less the same the next twelve times.

The more daring and complex your dish is, the more of a problem this becomes. I can spice, say, gingerbread (powdered ginger, allspice, vanilla) or lamb burgers, (cumin, dried onion, rosemary) from individual seasonings and get beautifully reliable results, because a) the number of things I need to add to each is small, and b) the amount I need to add is correspondingly large (2T ginger, 1t allspice, 1t vanila).

If I put together bouquet garni or rogan josh curry together, from scratch, for family-sized dishes, every time, I'd be operating in 1/8 teaspoons, and I would screw up, a lot. I'd forget things. I'd be estimating by sight, because I have no actual idea where my 1/8t spoon is I never use it what is that even for my God.

3) Expense and storage

Spices and seasonings are comparatively expensive for things with no food value, ranging from about $5 per jar to Oh My God Was It Watered By The Tears Of A Unicorn?

As I said before, bouquet garni and herbs de provence and similar herb blends call for 4-7 ingredients, depending on your method, and Indian and Chinese and Portugese (etc etc) spicings can get into the low teens. Plus you can't always get the makings in small sizes, and many blends call for tiny bits of many things, so you end up with a huge pile of variously perishable stuff. And I don't see any particular freshness or quality boost to keeping the exact same spices and herbs, in the exact same drawers, only, you know, in separate jars, the way the Victorians (never actually, it's a myth) kept books by unmarried persons of the opposite sex apart.

If I made my own curry powder I'd have one large container of one kind of curry. Currently I instead have maharajah, sweet, vindaloo, rogan josh, three garam marsalas, and madras. Sometimes I mix them. Often I add more cumin, or coriander, or something.

Also, when I was on a severely limited budget and trying to rebuild my kitchen from scratch, I budgeted, once the absolute basics were in, for one spice jar per shopping trip. I bought a LOT of seasoning mixes, because I wanted a reasonable range of options and I wanted them fast.

4) Education and adventurousness.

If you like Mexican food and think you'd probably enjoy making it, you could go find a specialty store and stock up on the required herbs and seasonings and peppers and buy a recipe book and teach yourself how to spice everything ... Or you could pick up a decent chili powder and some adobo and some chile verde in a jar and start playing around. It's cheaper. It's simpler and less intimidating, and assuming your spicemonger stocks decent quality stuff, the proportions will be right. If and when you want to start doing your own blending, you'll have a base to start from of knowing roughly how things are meant to smell and taste. It's handy, and it's terribly reassuring.

I have a chili seasoning (okay, three), a taco seasoning, adobo seasoning, a chipotle-based seasoning, currently two salsas and five hot sauces. With those plus some basic all-round stuff like cumin and cinnamon and oregano, I can do a ridiculous number of really tasty things. Now, they do all contain mostly the same stuff, but only mostly, and in different proportions.

We do enough stuff with Mexican-style flavouring that I also have epazote and mexican oregano, but you can get by without those for a very long time. I bought them when I'd gotten good enough at the basic style to realize I wanted them.

The Tsardust was a total shot in the dark, as were the Adobo, the Old World, the Ozark seasoning, Mitchell Street steak seasoning, Krakow nights ... I smelled them and went "hey, I want to play with that" and bought a small jar. Some of the small jars I've bought have languished, but most have gotten used up and many of them have gotten refilled. A few of them have been refilled with my own version. Lots of them get used (Tsardust, Ozark, Krakow) for things they weren't originally intended for, and that's just fine too.

Seasoning mixes, in short, helped me learn to cook and continue to make me a better cook.

And then there's the one downside

Quality can be a huge concern, especially if you're largely limited to grocery-store mixes. A lot of the inexpensive ones are mostly salt and sugar, or at least contain far too much of both. Some of them have MSG. (I use MSG, but lots of people loathe/react to it).

I love Penzeys, obviously, but they're only in the US and while they will ship internationally, it's a faff.

There is no perfect solution to this. Mostly, it's a matter of reading the labels, looking for better groceries or actual spice stores and going there or ordering online if you can, buying the best you can find and afford, taking your time eking the money out and buying one or two things at a time, and remembering that if your seasoning tastes good to you, it's good, even if it's generic storebrand (in Canada, President's Choice is actually very good in general). If you and the people you feed are happy, you have done well. (Unless there's a specific reason why you have to avoid an ingredient to feel or be well).

Some non-US online (I can't begin to hunt for local options for everywhere, but this is a start, at least) options I've found:

Canada:
Spice Blends at Silk Road

Also Herbies (mentioned below) has a Canadian site.

I need to try these, when the current glut - you guys we have two drawers, a breadbox, and a little spice storage unit on the table and they're all FULL, I may have a small problem - runs out.

UK:
Spice Blends at Seasoned Pioneers (Ships to EU)

Australia:
Spice Blends at Herbies

ETA: more awesome suggestions in the comments.
commodorified: A cartoon of a worried looking woman in a chef's hat (cooking for people who don't)
So, Thanksgiving this year was sort of insane: [personal profile] fairestcat was off at the OTW retreat until the day before, Dreadful developed a urinary blockage while she was away (don't feed your male cats entirely on dry kibble, folks), and we lost a lot of sleep coping with that - he was in a lot of pain, and then on a lot of drugs, and also getting meds and subcutaneous fluids put into him on a frequent and 24-hr schedule, and then in a lot of pain again because he reblocked, and also the floor was covered in blue sheets because he was having trouble making it to the box, and his Momma was away and he needed me to wake UP, DAMMIT, and snuggle and console him ... and we had people coming, people I love and love feeding, who were expecting food and frivolity and a hostess who didn't look like grim death and smell faintly of cat pee and all manner of things.

Reader, I used boughten pastry for the pear and blackberry tarts this year. No regrets. I redeemed my tattered pride at Christmas.

And I had this ham, which was enormous, and frozen solid, because we get our meat from a local farmer's co-op which delivers monthly, and (having done nearly all the vegetable prep the day before, because Ian and I rode to the farmers' market on the Saturday as a relaxing family expedition and being stressed and surrounded by good things went approximately mad and bought carrots, beets, squash, kale, sprouts, leeks, mushrooms and two or three other things and then realised how much chopping we'd let ourselves in for) I couldn't face the prospect of getting up at 6 o'clock in the clear bright to wrangle a vast and surly brick of meat through spicing and into the oven.

(ACTUAL COOKING DISCUSSION STARTS HERE)

So I started the ham the night before, from frozen, at 200F. Just popped it into an enamelled cast iron pot skin-side-up, piled some dark honey and some seedy mustard on the frozen surface, slapped the lid on, put it in the oven on a rack set one slot up from the bottom, said a quick prayer to the patron saint of Cat Mothers With Guests Arriving and went to bed, hoping it wouldn't be awful.

Friends, it was spectacular. Seriously. The one downside was, it fell apart, so it wasn't as festive-looking as a whole ham for carving would have been. Nobody cared. It was goddamn amazing, is what I'm saying.

I have since done this with pork shoulder, beef ribs, lamb shanks, and stewing mutton, and they have all - well, the mutton is in the oven right now but all the signs are good - been ridiculously good.

I like this method better than slow-cookers, which I have trouble with because the super-slow setting I find leaves meat bland and naked-looking and the "combination" setting frequently overcooks things in that way where they're not burnt they just taste like old shoes. For lentil and bean things I still love my slowcooker, but for meat it's been replaced.

(I feel compelled to say that my Hydro bill does not prefer this approach. On the other hand, it's winter, and we probably save some of it back on the furnace.)

So, here is the (ludicrously simple) method.

Before going to bed, assemble in a heavy pot with a tightly-fitting lid (we haunt the sales at Canadian Tire and the houseware department at Value Village and have now got a nice selection of completely mismatched heavy enamelled cast-iron in different sizes. If you can score one somehow, do so. If not, it is worth buying the heaviest pot-and-lid you can afford/manage to locate, not just for this but for many, many things):

Your meat: roast, ribs, stew meat, whatever. From frozen is fine, fresh is fine.

Your spicing and flavourings: pork shoulder (the farm we get the hams from has these amazing roasts so we do one a month) with

A) a lot of chopped apples (Macs or other tart ones) and cooking onions plus Penzey's Tsardust

B) pepper and salt and garlic and dried onions and Tsardust and a vast heap of cabbage,

C) A good bbq sauce, and a lot of chopped onions. This is fairly classic pulled pork, as opposed to the weird variations we've devised.

Also: beef ribs with beef broth, bouquet garni (I make my own and have made my own Tsardust and you can too: that's just to get you started), salt, pepper, onions, carrots and potatos, or you can skip the potatos and make dumplings at the end. Mushrooms optional but VERY adviseable. (I am a hobbit.)

Lamb shanks, same as the beef ribs but vegetable or chicken broth and a bit of curry powder or paste. I use Pataks and Penzeys, but you needn't.

Ham, with whatever you put in hams. We tend towards poncey mustard and honey around here, but maple syrup is good, or just the mustard, or really, the ones we get are awesome and smoked with actual smoke and plain would be fine.

Stewing lamb or mutton with vegetable broth, lots of curry, frozen spinach, dried or fresh onion.

Basically any slow-cook recipe in the world.

What you don't want to do:

You want to be very stingy with liquid, if you're used to slow-cooking on top of the stove, which I still sometimes forget - this is why there will be potatoes in the curry, as I absent-mindedly used a full box of broth when I ought to have used a quarter-box. Sealing all your ingredients into a heavy pot and then baking them slowly produces a LOT of liquid.

Don't add thickeners (cornstarch, flour, potato flakes) when you start the meal. Add them right before supper, and then turn the oven up to 350 for half an hour. If you add them at the beginning things will get very lumpy, claggy, and sad.

If you are using a fatty meat, sometime the next day do take it out and skim the fat. If you can put it in the fridge or out in the cold until the fat hardens that's handy, but you can also just use a spoon. Ugh this is the boringest job. On the other hand you can then fry potato slices in the lamb or beef or pork fat. Nom.

Vegetables you want to be crunchy, and "fragile" vegetables like peas, green leaves that are not collards, etc, should go in an hour or so before supper. The frozen spinach in with the mutton is meant to cook down a lot, I'm going for a vaguely Sag Lamb effect.

Things I clearly should write about next: spice mixes, weird ingredients I use and love, kitchen gadgets and general equipment that I use and love, my grandmother's pastry recipe.
commodorified: Alexander wearing his imperial cobwebs and breastplate of shining worms wakes and looks for his glasses (history)
So, [personal profile] staranise and I were talking about how Twitter is and is not working for me right now and I said "I want to get back to using DW/LJ more."

"So, do that", she said, because she is smart like that.

But I seem to have gone all rusty or strange or shy or something.

So - please ask me questions or make requests/offer prompts. I can't guarantee I'll do something for each of them, but I'm pretty sure it'll get me to wrote SOMETHING.

The only caveat is, right now I don't want prompts for personal stuff. That will probably come, but I can't START there. It'd feel like trying to pound out a Christmas Newsletter. Instead, right now I'd like to try to remember how to write about Stuff and Things and Opinionate.

So, I intend to essay to essay. Help a Bear out?
commodorified: (nothing like the sun)
Because apparently fic is a thing I do again.

First It Was a Question Then it Was a Mission

Fandom: Captain America (Movies), Marvel Cinematic Universe
Rating: Explicit


Relationships: Peggy Carter/Steve Rogers


Summary:

Steve Rogers would crawl across Occupied France for Peggy Carter. By comparison, the distance between the perimeter wall and the rear fire door looks pretty trivial.

commodorified: (nothing like the sun)
Le jour du BOOK RELEASE est arrivée!

The March North, which I recently wrote about copyediting, is now available on Google Play for the Incredibly Reasonable Introductory Price of $3.55 CDN.
commodorified: cropped pic of woman with short curly red hair looking up  impishly from the lower left corner (femme)
Sephora has given me a sample vial of Dior Hypnotic Poison (eau du toilette)

Experience and the ingredient list suggest that if I try to wear it I will

A) react violently
B) make at least one spouse react violently
C) smell like a brothel on payday. (That's a comment on me+Dior X Poison, not on the stuff itself)
Also D) I have more perfumes I love than I have chances to wear it.

SO:

I will mail it anywhere on the planet (it's light) ideally but not necessarily in exchange for any similar small light amusing thing that cost little or no money: makeup/skincare sample, unloved single skein of yarn, silly fannish toy from a cereal box ... I dunno. Make me an offer.

Comments screened.

ETA: it's an atomiser, and if that's the "eau du toilette" the parfum must have a kick like a missouri mule.



ETA: rehomed, thanks all!
commodorified: (nothing like the sun)
I have spent the last three weeks working on a copyedit for [personal profile] graydon; the book is called The March North, it's been GREAT fun to work on, it'll be out soon, and I shall be linking to it here. He described it to me as Egalitarian Epic Fantasy, which is quite true but perhaps too simple; it's got some deeply twisty, subtle world-building, characters of whom I got extraordinarily fond, and A FIVE-TONNE SHEEP NAMED EUSTACE, who is a) NOT comic relief, and b) awesome like an awesome thing.

I was inspired to commit fanart:


a line-drawing of a battle-scene, with Eustace in the centre

And the very large stuffed sheep we keep around for Oscar and Vivien has a new name now:


me, working on a laptop whilst leaning on a large stuffed sheep
commodorified: They say one thing and another thing and both at once I don't know It will all have to be gone into at the proper time (at the proper time)
I am enthusiastically in favour of addressing people as they wish to be addressed, and referring to them by the pronouns, etc, that they prefer, or, if lacking data, using 'they'.

And there has, thankfully, been a lot of discussion of the matter to help me get this right.

So now I am wondering about formal modes of address for general and specific addressing of people whose genders are non-binary.

[personal profile] staranise sensibly points out that when addressing groups, "Honoured Guests" may reasonably be used along with, or instead of, "Ladies and Gentlemen/Mesdames et Messieurs". (ETA [personal profile] anne adds "Amis Distingués")

Suitable substitutes for "Sir", "Madam" "Ma'am", "Mr." "Ms", "M.", "Mmme", and so forth, however, elude me.

Has anyone seen anything good on this?
commodorified: perhaps rumpus isn't the word. A minor kind of bloody revolution (rumpus)
[personal profile] davidklecha is the best enabler.

This?

Is all.
commodorified: the words Anglican Socialist Weirdo on a Green and Yellow abstract background (Anglican Socialist Weirdo)
Litany For A Season of Night and Storm

For the hand that speeds the plow, and the shovel, and the sand truck,
We give thanks.

For the hand that repairs the transformer, tames the downed wire, and directs the traffic in the cold,
We give thanks.

For the hand that drives the firetruck, the tow truck, and the ambulance,
We give thanks.

For the hand that leaves the safety of the sidewalk, the warmth of the car, and the comfort of the house when a stranger needs a push,
We give thanks.

For the hand that brings warmth to the shivering, makes welcome the stranded, and feeds the housebound,
We give thanks.

For the hand that counts the candles, splits the firewood, and fuels the generator,
We give thanks.

For the hand that knits the sweater, zips the snowsuit, and finds the lost mitten,
We give thanks.

For the hand that pulls the toboggan, throws the snowball, and laces the skate,
We give thanks.

For the hand that lights the fire, makes the cocoa, and bakes the cookies,
We give thanks.

For all the hands that build, protect, and maintain the community by which we live and thrive, we give thanks, and we pledge the strength of our own hands, be it great or small, to work and to play together, in this season and in all the winters to come.

Many thanks to [personal profile] karnythia for beta.

And this.

Nov. 11th, 2013 10:42 am
commodorified: an image of an old woodenhulled icebreaker in a narrow open channel (northwest passage)
Early in September word came that the Canadians had been shifted to the Somme front and anxiety grew tenser and deeper. For the first time Mrs. Blythe's spirit failed her a little, and as the days of suspense wore on the doctor began to look gravely at her, and veto this or that special effort in Red Cross work.

"Oh, let me work—let me work, Gilbert," she entreated feverishly. "While I'm working I don't think so much. If I'm idle I imagine everything—rest is only torture for me. My two boys are on the frightful Somme front—and Shirley pores day and night over aviation literature and says nothing. But I see the purpose growing in his eyes. No, I cannot rest—don't ask it of me, Gilbert."

But the doctor was inexorable.

"I can't let you kill yourself, Anne-girl," he said. "When the boys come back I want a mother here to welcome them. Why, you're getting transparent. It won't do—ask Susan there if it will do."

"Oh, if Susan and you are both banded together against me!" said Anne helplessly.

One day the glorious news came that the Canadians had taken Courcelette and Martenpuich, with many prisoners and guns. Susan ran up the flag and said it was plain to be seen that Haig knew what soldiers to pick for a hard job. The others dared not feel exultant. Who knew what price had been paid?

Rilla woke that morning when the dawn was beginning to break and went to her window to look out, her thick creamy eyelids heavy with sleep. Just at dawn the world looks as it never looks at any other time. The air was cold with dew and the orchard and grove and Rainbow Valley were full of mystery and wonder. Over the eastern hill were golden deeps and silvery-pink shallows. There was no wind, and Rilla heard distinctly a dog howling in a melancholy way down in the direction of the station. Was it Dog Monday? And if it were, why was he howling like that? Rilla shivered; the sound had something boding and grievous in it. She remembered that Miss Oliver said once, when they were coming home in the darkness and heard a dog howl, "When a dog cries like that the Angel of Death is passing." Rilla listened with a curdling fear at her heart. It was Dog Monday—she felt sure of it. Whose dirge was he howling—to whose spirit was he sending that anguished greeting and farewell?

Rilla went back to bed but she could not sleep. All day she watched and waited in a dread of which she did not speak to anyone. She went down to see Dog Monday and the station-master said, "That dog of yours howled from midnight to sunrise something weird. I dunno what got into him. I got up once and went out and hollered at him but he paid no 'tention to me. He was sitting all alone in the moonlight out there at the end of the platform, and every few minutes the poor lonely little beggar'd lift his nose and howl as if his heart was breaking. He never did it afore—always slept in his kennel real quiet and canny from train to train. But he sure had something on his mind last night."

Dog Monday was lying in his kennel. He wagged his tail and licked Rilla's hand. But he would not touch the food she brought for him.

"I'm afraid he's sick," she said anxiously. She hated to go away and leave him. But no bad news came that day—nor the next—nor the next. Rilla's fear lifted. Dog Monday howled no more and resumed his routine of train meeting and watching. When five days had passed the Ingleside people began to feel that they might be cheerful again. Rilla dashed about the kitchen helping Susan with the breakfast and singing so sweetly and clearly that Cousin Sophia across the road heard her and croaked out to Mrs. Albert,

"'Sing before eating, cry before sleeping,' I've always heard."

But Rilla Blythe shed no tears before the nightfall. When her father, his face grey and drawn and old, came to her that afternoon and told her that Walter had been killed in action at Courcelette she crumpled up in a pitiful little heap of merciful unconsciousness in his arms. Nor did she waken to her pain for many hours.
commodorified: Alexander wearing his imperial cobwebs and breastplate of shining worms wakes and looks for his glasses (history)
YPRES 1915

The age of trumpets is passed, the banners hang
like dead crows, battered and black,
rotting into nothingness on the cathedral wall.
In the crypt of St. Paul’s I had all the wrong thoughts,
wondered if there was anything left of Nelson
or Wellington, and even wished
I could pry open their tombs and look,
then was ashamed
of such morbid childishness, and almost afraid.

I know the picture is as much a forgery
as the Protocols of Zion, yet it outdistances
more plausible fictions: newsreels, regimental histories,
biographies of Earl Haig.

It is always morning
and the sky somehow manages to be red
though the picture is in black and white.
There is a long road over flat country,
shell holes, the debris of houses,
a gun carriage overturned in a field,
the bodies of men and horses,
but only a few of them and those
always neat and distant.

The Moors are running
down the right side of the road.
The Moors are running
in their baggy pants and Santa Claus caps.
The Moors are running.
And their officers,
Frenchmen who remember
Alsace and Lorraine,
are running backwards in front of them,
waving their swords, trying to drive them back,
weeping
at the dishonour of it all.

The Moors are running.
And on the left side of the same road,
the Canadians are marching in the opposite direction.
The Canadians are marching
in English uniforms behind
a piper playing ‘Scotland the Brave.’
The Canadians are marching
in impeccable formation,
every man in step.
The Canadians are marching.

And I know this belongs
with Lord Kitchener’s mustache
and old movies in which the Kaiser and his general staff
seem to run like Keystone Cops.

That old man on television last night,
a farmer or fisherman by the sound of him,
revisiting Vimy Ridge, and they asked him
what it was like, and he said,
There was water up to our middles, yes
and there was rats, and yes
there was water up to our middles
and rats, all right enough,
and to tell you the truth
after the first three or four days
I started to get a little disgusted.

Oh, I know they were mercenaries
in a war that hardly concerned us.
I know all that.
Sometimes I’m not even sure that I have a country.

But I know that they stood there at Ypres
the first time the Germans used gas,
that they were almost the only troops
in that section of the front
who did not break and run,
who held the line.

Perhaps they were too scared to run.
Perhaps they didn’t know any better
– that is possible, they were so innocent,
those farmboys and mechanics, you only have to look
at old pictures and see how they smiled.

Perhaps they were too shy
to walk out on anybody, even Death.
Perhaps their only motivation
was a stubborn disinclination.
Private McNally thinking:
You squareheaded sons of bitches,
you want this God damn trench
you’re going to have to take it away
from Billy MacNally
of the South End of Saint John, New Brunswick.

And that’s ridiculous, too, and nothing on which to found a country.
Still
It makes me feel good, knowing
that in some obscure, conclusive way
they were connected with me
and me with them.

Alden Nowlan

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commodorified: My hair, flying in the wind, and my right arm, in sunlight (Default)
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