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30 August 2015 @ 12:21 pm

I was in town yesterday and saw a fruit vendor with 1-kilo flats of strawberries for €5 each, which I thought was an excellent deal. I bought two, came home with them, and went back out not much later to get (other things also, but) four more.

The young lady at the booth looked at me a bit askance when I came up and asked for four flats. I explained I was making jam, and she said, “Oh! Okay. I was wondering if you maybe had a bit of an addiction.” I said, “I don’t like to talk about it,” and she laughed and said she had a 3 kilo box for €10, and did I want that. I did, so I bought, er, 7 kilos of strawberries yesterday, and hulled them all and froze them in jam-batch-sized portions and very soon now I’ll make them into jam. Except the ones that are going into a strawberry-rhubarb crumble this afternoon.

We have concluded to our satisfaction that at least one of the apple trees has Brambly apples, which are meant to be good cooking apples. I’ve been pointed at a site on how to make pectin from apples, and we’re going to have so many apples I’m more than a little tempted to give pectin-making a shot, just for the hell of it. I can’t find any recipes online that really seem to use it, but I do have at least two pre-1950 cookbooks, so I should look in those. If I do all of that successfully I’ll post recipes and stuff, as I seem to recall there are quite a few jam-makers reading my blog. :)

Even if I don’t go the pectin-making route I’m going to have So Many Apples. I’m going to have to freeze zillions of them. I shall regret not having a chest freezer before this is all over, I can tell, but I will persevere with what I’ve got by thinking of apple pie, applesauce, apple muffins, apple bread, apple cobbler, apple crumble, apple fritters, apple eeeeeeeeeverything, all made from apples picked in the back garden. :)

Now I’m hungry and shall go in search of food. But not apples, because they’re not ripe yet. :)

(x-posted from The Essential Kit)


I’ve been talking about this topic for years (whether you see pictures in your head when you, say, read), ever since a conversation with a friend and Ted and the friend said something about the radio drama in her head, and Ted said “You only get a radio drama?” and she said “Oh no! I get the whole movie!” and I said “wait what?”

After some incredulous back-and-forthing, we found that they saw pictures in their heads when they read (or called up memories, or DAYDREAMED, WHAT THE HELL!!!), and I didn’t. (“How can you possibly make such great pictures in MY head when YOU don’t see them?” Ted asked in bewilderment.)

This whole astonishing conversation shed light on several scenes I’d read in books over the years that had always vaguely bothered me: the bit in EMILY CLIMBS, where a father can’t recall the face of his dead child, that he’s unable to pull up a picture in his mind like most people did; a bit in SURELY YOU’RE JOKING, MR FEYNMAN, where they’re trying to see how well people keep time in their heads and those who did it best saw a clock counting in their mind; and non-book things like, yes, counting sheep or this stupid math thing we did in school as kids where there were these color blocks we were supposed to be able to use to help do multiplication in our heads: 5 blue squares, 10 red ones, 1 green, etc, which were, I now understand, tools for people who visualized, and which I always thought were a really stupid thing to do, because as with all of the above examples, my basic reaction was and is: oh sure, WHO ACTUALLY DOES THAT?!

A lot of people, apparently, except I have to say that from my casual interrogations on the topic over the past decade+, it’s a lot more like 1 in 3 people who don’t visualize than 1 in 50. Also most (not all, but most) people who visualize strongly tend to like longer narrative poetry better than short conceptual poetry, and…loads of stuff. :)

Anyway, the whole inability to visualize thing clearly works differently for different people. I can tell you with a fair amount of accurate detail what Tom Cruise (and I use him because everybody knows who he is) looks like, but I cannot ‘see’ him in my head, whereas Ted can apparently pull up a 3D image and spin it around in his head. *boggle* I’ve had visual artist friends who say they occasionally get a flash of an image but can’t hold it (which is how I am), and if you ask me I say what’s in my head is words, but it’s not PICTURES of words. It’s just words. In the darkness. Where they belong.

Also after finding out that people could do this I started trying to develop an ability to visualize, just out of curiosity, and I got just far enough along in the exercise to start getting an idea of what it might be like and it was HORRIBLE. My head felt crowded. It was AWFUL. UGH!

People can also apparently hear music in their heads as if (and language does not explain this well) they’re listening to a radio or an orchestra or whatever in their heads. That’s happened to me like…two times in my life. Maybe three. For no more than a phrase or two of music, and it’s SHOCKING AS HELL. I earworm, but it’s…just words. With the idea of a tune in their vicinity. And my voice. Ish. Kind of. In a sort of…flattened way. Muted. Not like my voice spoken aloud. At all.

Also HOLY CRAP the idea that Fantasia is like ACTUALLY LIKE SOMETHING PEOPLE MIGHT SEE IN THEIR HEADS LISTENING TO MUSIC!? WHAT THE HELL!?!? I mean I knew that was like the *idea* behind it but I thought it was sheer fucking fancy, like, you know? It never crossed my mind that it might be LITERAL. (and oh look, ‘aphantasia’ is the opposite of ‘phantasia’, which. heh. i see what they did there.)

I love this topic. I really do. It’s SO FASCINATING to find out what happens in other peoples’ heads…!

(x-posted from The Essential Kit)

26 August 2015 @ 09:35 am

This is long, but I’m Showing Stuff Off, so I’m not putting it behind a cut. :)

The house & front garden:


The sun room (with slightly distorted child), visible to the right of the house:

The living room end of the Long Room:

The dining room end of the Long Room:

The library:


To the left is the TBR shelf before 6 weeks of no net.

The TBR shelf after 6 weeks of no net:

The kitchen:




My (the, but mostly my :)) office:

My beloved Captain’s Chair:

Guest room:

The back garden, in all its glory, from about the midway point of the garden:

From the far end of the garden:

The swingset we installed first thing upon moving in:

A garden full of housewarmers (the children all stayed inside, the adults all hung around outside, which I think is very funny :)) :

Wall of red roses:

Wall of many colored roses!

Apples, just, y’know, like, growing and stuff. (Food does not grow on trees in the land of my people!)

(x-posted from The Essential Kit)

25 August 2015 @ 01:32 pm

I’ve had Barbara Hamilton (Hambly)’s Abigail Adams books on my TBR shelf for quite a while, based on my love for her Benjamin January books.

I didn’t like the Adams books as much as the January books, which kind of surprised me. It was partly, I recognize, the Puritanism in the books, which made me…impatient. I don’t have a lot of use for religious fundamentalists in real life, much less in my fiction, and the fact that Abigail Adams herself apparently struggled with her (literally) Puritanical faith did not help to endear her to me.

Anyway, I guess I got used to it, because it wasn’t as difficult to read the second two books as the first, but neither was I terribly sad there weren’t more in the series. I wish I had been, though, because she’s such a great writer. Like the January books, there’s a terrific sense of time and place built into the books, and the characterizations are wonderful. Overall, I can’t help thinking they’re worth a better response than I had to them, but that’s on me, not the books.

(x-posted from The Essential Kit)

25 August 2015 @ 09:22 am

Now that I’m back online I have a list longer than my arm of thinks to do.

put in a grocery order
check to see how to renew indy’s passport print appointment page
update fitbit to use new one
email redeemer patrons
email patreon patrons
– prep short story for patreon
– update reading list
email ian
email steve
– clear out inbox, augh
email harlequin
– pay credit card bills
update fb page
email mailing list
email m&m mailing list
– email orssp mailing list

– hook up printer
– print things from ian
– print things from hqn

…there’s a lot more, but this is all I can remember right now.

More posting on more interesting topics soon.

(x-posted from The Essential Kit)

23 August 2015 @ 08:33 pm

SIX WEEKS to the day, we have broadband back again.

I do not EVEN have the heart to explain it all but it involved orders being cancelled and resubmitted and me almost bursting into tears on the phone support lady and managers green-lighting priority work for my account and a two-month credit being issued for the account and MANY QUESTIONS THAT I HAD ANTICIPATED AS PROBLEMS AND ASKED ABOUT VERY CLEARLY AND WAS PROMISED NO NO NO THAT’S NOT GOING TO HAPPEN AT ALL being the things that happened and AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGH

but we have internets now.

and it is good.

regularly scheduled blogging will resume sometime in the next week.

(x-posted from The Essential Kit)

18 August 2015 @ 01:28 pm

I confess that I would not have made it past page ten or so of THE GIRL WITH ALL THE GIFTS had it not been written by a friend of mine. It’s not that it wasn’t well written: it was. It’s that it’s a zombie novel, and I’m not much of a horror fan. (Re: at all.) But I’ve known MR Carey for years now and he’s a wonderful human being, so I was inclined to try working my way past the subject material and going for broke.

I’m glad I did, because it’s a good book. Narration by the several POV characters in present tense made for a dandy sense of revealing the action as it happened, which I sit in admiration of: I’ve read plenty of present-tense stories that don’t feel nearly as much like I’m finding out the story at the same time the characters are. Really nicely done. Strong voices, characters ranging from sympathetic to (appallingly) comprehensible, and an ending that I’d half guessed at but which could have gone any one of several ways so wasn’t disappointing because so many of the various potential endings would have been satisfying.

Around chapter twelve I paused to comment on Twitter that I could see why it had been optioned for a film (which is even now in production; SHE WHO BEARS GIFTS, is, I think, the title, and I almost certainly won’t be seeing it, because I’m pretty sure it’d scare the pants off me), because it seems an especially good story for film-making.

I stopped eating a couple of times while I was reading, because it wasn’t quite gross, but it wasn’t quite “yes, let’s chow down while reading this!” either. I figure a zombie book that makes you reluctant to eat while reading it is doing its job. :)

(x-posted from The Essential Kit)

14 August 2015 @ 01:05 pm

I can’t even.

The new modem arrived Wednesday. I plugged it in. It didn’t work. I called tech support. After (another) half hour on the phone with them, they concluded I had a faulty modem.



They sent a new modem over by courier on Thursday

I plugged it in. It didn’t work. I did all the rigamarole they’d had me do on the support call the day before. I called tech support. After (another) half hour on the phone with them, they concluded there was a fault in the line. They told me they could send a technician in 2-3 working days.

Which makes our earliest possible internet on Monday, more likely Tuesday, wouldn’t be surprised if it’s Wednesday or even Thursday, even if that is, yes, more than 3 working days.

I went on Twitter to see if I could publicly shame them into sending a tech today (Friday). I couldn’t.


I am not, frankly, surprised that the fault is in the line and not the modem, because the odds of getting a faulty modem after ALL THIS NONSENSE seemed astronomical. Not impossible, but unlikely.

In the meantime I have no idea what’s going on in the world or with my friends and I have read 29 books and am going to spend the next 4 days revising a book of my own and then a friend is coming to visit for five days and then school starts and if I don’t have internet by then, I will…

…get a great deal of writing done. But I have to do that anyway, because I’m three solid months behind schedule at this point and even having net isn’t going to distract me because I can’t let it.

But ye gods. It’ll be six weeks WITHOUT net and nearly two months since I started trying to GET A BROADBAND ACCOUNT IN MY NAME when it finally shows up. And that’s just *stupid*.

(x-posted from The Essential Kit)

08 August 2015 @ 05:51 pm

Well, ‘imminent’ is probably overly hopeful. I’ve finally been able to put an order in for broadband, anyway, and we should have internet by the 14th. Probably. Hopefully. Assuming all goes well. Which I dasn’t do, at this point. :) I am, at the moment, slaving my computer to the phone again, which only seems to work sometimes.

Poor Indy has a terrible cold and nobody got much sleep last night. Earlier I tried spelling ’tissue’ and typed ‘tirrue’ and then ‘sittue,’ which cannot be blamed on being at my captain’s chair with its slightly-unfamiliar-anymore keyboard, since all the keys save one in that word are typed by the same hand. :)

I just went to Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation and I could look at Rebecca Ferguson all day for the rest of my life. Wow. Also the movie was pleasantly entertaining.

I’ve read 25 books in the 28 days we’ve been offline. I’m planning to wind up with a double-header treat of Kim Stanley Robinson and Guy Gavriel Kay, but I’m too tired to try either of them today.

Two of the books I read were my own Old Races collections, which was pretty interesting. I have a blog post I wrote about that but I’m too tired to find it and post it right now.

I read the latest ElfQuest: The Final Quest issue. I’m sorry, but I just think it’s bad. I need to drop it from my pull list.

The sun room and the guest room are sorted out. Did I say that before? Maybe. Anyway, they are, so mostly the house is sorted now and I’m glad about that.

I’m gonna go…stare vacantly at a wall, probably.

(x-posted from The Essential Kit)

04 August 2015 @ 10:43 am

I have temporarily slaved my computer to my phone in order to get online for a few minutes. It is not an ideal solution.


Oh thank god, I said faintly, somehow the rtf file (opened with libreoffce) that previously would not show comments on a manuscript has suddenly decided it doesn’t mind doing so, which means I don’t have to install god-awful-horrible Word on this machine.

Not that I have internet available to me by which to install it. There are a lot of things a person can’t do when she lacks internet. Ordering takeaway in a new town has been much on my mind in that regard, lately. No internet, no takeaway menus, guess I have to cook. Feh. Lots and lots of other things too. “Oh I’ll just look that up no I won’t” is a pretty common mental cycle right now.

The windows in this house are old enough to have ripples, and consequently remind me of the house I first lived in, in North Kenai, which had a ripply window. The frames are similar, too, old white-painted wood, which helps the recollection; I don’t know that I’ve ever remembered, when looking through ripply windows before, that the Old Old House, as we came to call it, had one.

This house also has dust old enough to collect a pension. I’ve only sort of slowly been coming to appreciate how thick it is in places (mostly highish places I don’t necessarily look at carefully) and I’ve been vacuuming veilances and light fixtures while trying not to die of sneezing. The dust is nearly more than our weenie little vacuum cleaner can handle. When I win the lottery I’m going to buy a Dyson.

I opened the REDEEMER file. Then I kind of sank away from it in despair, but at least I opened it. Similarly with BEWITCHING BENEDICT, which really only needs a spell check so I can send it to the editor (it’s needed a spell check since the end of April or something, and…*pauses*…it appears the Random Problem it was having where it would either attempt to base its spelling expectations against an Irish dictionary or not at all has resolved itself, so I actually *can* spell check it now), and MAGIC & MANNERS, which is the above-mentioned RTF.

*rubs eyes* I had a plan, man. It was even a plan more or less based in reality. It didn’t take into full account the fact that after working incredibly hard the first 3 months of the year I was profoundly unlikely to get anything done in April, but it *nominally* gave a nod to that. I didn’t expect to get *much* done in April, and then I was going to kick into gear again in May. Except the landlord died and trying to get rid of stuff pre-move and then actual moving happened and so the three things I planned to have done by the end of June are…not done…and I knew perfectly well that July & August, being summer holiday months, were going to pretty much be a wash. But I wasn’t supposed to have to get much done in July and August. Some revisions, but mostly it was supposed to be just needing to hand stuff off to different team members, stuff like that. (Which I’d be having a hell of a time with even if I was AT that stage, because no internet. @.@) And now I’m just like I not only have no traction but I have such a mountain of work looming over me it seems impossible to deal with. (PLUS the house still isn’t entirely dealt with. I still need shelves. #sigh)

Anyway, at dinner on Monday Sarah told me to try not to be too hard on myself for the rest of the summer, as it’s not a realistic working window for me. And she’s right. I should try not to be. But what I wouldn’t give for a 3-5 day run on MAGIC & MANNERS so I could get the damned thing revised all in one go (revising is very, very difficult for me to do piecemeal).


Aaagh. I wrote the above on like…Friday. And I did the spell check on BENEDICT. And I went to my folks’ house on Saturday, and…forgot to send BENEDICT to Matrice.

Aaaagh. #headdesk I mean, obviously by the time you read this I’ll have presumably sent the damn thing to her, but…aaaagh.

We have passed the 3 weeks without internet mark. It’s obviously not impossible to get along without it, but god *damn* it’s inconvenient, and I’m starting to feel very…lonely. That sounds stupid, but even my local friends I communicate with mostly online, and all the rest of my friends live on the internet. And ‘local’ has changed meaning now, because I know no one in the town I’m actually in, so local-as-in-Dublin is no longer all that applicable. Anyway, today (Monday, August 3, when I’m writing this) is a bank holiday, so nothing’s getting done in terms of being able to acquire net access, so it’s still another week out in the absolute best of scenarios. Which we are all too wise now to imagine will transpire, aren’t we?

Several people have suggested getting a 3G dongle, which we’ve considered, but the mobile/3G reception at this house is SO BAD that it’s not worth it. Even using Twitter on my phone is nearly impossible. :p

(x-posted from The Essential Kit)