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oursin July 25 2014, 19:29

I think the implication is that there's a right number of books to have

How many books is too many books? What makes you a book hoarder? What do you do when you have too many?

This irritates me. Particularly when the ceiling for the designation 'Compulsive Book Hoarder' is a measly 1000.

I don't really think this article makes the necessary distinction between 'book hoarding' and people who keep books because Research! and Re-reading! and Future Reading! Sometimes I buy books either because who knows when I'll see another copy at affordable price or in order to have in case of future urgent desire to read or just running out of anything else to read.

I take bags of books to the local charity shops from time to time, I don't just sit on the ever-increasing pile - though I was looking at the shelves recently and thinking I might clear out some of the deadwood that I'm unlikely to read/re-read ever.

But I'm not sure there is a such a thing as 'too many books' except in the context of the contingencies of space to put them in.

This entry was originally posted at http://oursin.dreamwidth.org/2126190.html. Please comment there using OpenID. View comment count unavailable comments.

marydell July 25 2014, 17:47

My tweets

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pjthompson July 25 2014, 17:22

Telling stories

Random quote of the day:

“I can only make direct statements, only ‘tell stories.’ Whether or not the stories are ‘true’ is not the problem. The only question is whether what I tell is my fable, my truth.”

—Carl Jung, Memories, Dreams, Reflections


Disclaimer: The views expressed in this random quote of the day do not necessarily reflect the views of the poster, her immediate family, Siegfried and Roy, Leonard Maltin, or the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. They do, however, sometimes reflect the views of the Cottingley Fairies.

Mirrored from Better Than Dead.

gailcarriger July 25 2014, 17:06

Victorian Houses ~ Peek into Gail's Research

Soon I am off to England, Gentle Reader. One of the things I love about traveling in the UK is the architecture. I'm a particular fan of the mixing of time periods you often find in smaller towns.


However, while I am in London, I'll be paying attention to the less flashy Victorian houses, because I have been researching them lately.

In the late 1890s an American visitor to London describes the houses as:

"very tall, and very plain, and very narrow, and quite expressionless, except that it wore a sort of dirty brown frown. Like its neighbours, it had a well in front of it, and steps leading down in to the well, and an iron fence round the steps, and a brass bell-handle lettered 'Tradesmen'. Like its neighbours, too, it wore boxes of spotty black greenery on the window-sills – in fact, it was very like its neighbours . . . Half-Moon Street, to me, looked like a family of houses – a family differing in heights and complexions and the colour of its hair, but sharing all the characteristics of a family – of an old family."
~ Judith Flanders The Victorian House (pg. li)

Victorian Terrace houses in Leeds, Wiki Commons

In the 1890s a standard house in town would be arranged roughly like so:

  • Top floor: servants and children's bedrooms (usually two)

  • Half-landing: bathroom (often)

  • Second floor: master bedroom, dressing room (in larger houses), second bedroom

  • First floor: drawing room

  • Ground floor: dining room, morning room

  • Basement: kitchen, scullery, possibly a breakfast room

~ Judith Flanders The Victorian House (pg. li)

The Duchess of Duke Street or You Rang, M'Lord? are both great TV shows to watch to get the feel for houses of this type. (And no, I had not seen You Rang, M'Lord? before I chose Ivy's name.)

The complexity of the bedroom is particularly interesting to me.

Victorian Bedroom Painting

"Mattresses were of organic fibre: horsehair mattresses were the best; cow's-hair ones were cheaper, although they did not wear as well; even less expensive were wool mattresses. A straw mattress, or palliase, could be put under a hair mattress to protect it from the iron bedstead. Chain-spring mattresses were available in the second half of the century, but they were expensive, and they still needed a hair mattress over them. It was recommended that a brown holland square should be tied over the chains, to stop the hair mattress from being chewed by the springs. The hair mattress itself then needed to be covered with another holland case, to protect it from soot and dirt. If the bed had no springs, a feather bed – which was also expensive, hard to maintain, and a great luxury –  could be added on top of the mattress. An underblanket, called a binding blanket, was recommended over the hair mattress."

"After the basics (all of which needed turning and shaking every day, as otherwise the natural fibre had a tendancy to mat and clump), the bedding for cold, usually fireless rooms consisted of an under sheet (tucked into the lower mattress, not the upper, again to protect from soot), a bottom sheet, a top sheet, blankets (three or four per bed in the winter), a bolster, pillows, bolster and pillow-covers in holland, and bolster- and pillow-cases."

~ Judith Flanders The Victorian House (pg. 11)

Bedding clearly was in just as many layers and just as complex a Victorian ballgown! Speaking of which over on Retro Rack I lay out a fantasy of some of Alexia's underthings.

{What is Gail's Book Group reading for July? Blood and Chocolate by Annette Curtis Klause ~ YA werewolf from before it was a thing. Next month is Clockwork Heart by Dru Pagliassotti.}


Your Moment of Parasol . . .
1870  The Victoria & Albert Museum

Your Infusion of Cute . . .
Postcard from my Grandfather's travels

Your Tisane of Smart . . .

Your Writerly Tinctures . . .

Prudence ~ Custard Protocol Book the First: Releases March 17, 2015.
Manners & Mutiny ~ The Finishing School Book the Last. Finished first draft. Out with Beta readers. Release date November 2015. Not yet available for pre-order.

The Books!

The Finishing School Series: 1 Etiquette & Espionage, 2 Curtsies & Conspiracies, 3
Waistcoats & Weaponry (Coming November 4, 2014)
The Custard Protocol Series: 1 Prudence (Coming March 17, 2015)
The Parasol Protectorate Series: 1 Soulless, 2 Changeless, 3 Blameless, 4 Heartless, 5 Timeless
Parasol Protectorate Series manga graphic novels

Book News:
80sidol-tumblr talk to me about my love for ormond tunstell and ivy hisslepenny

Quote of the Day:
“Don’t blame a man for the style of his literary apartments and more than you would for the color of his hair of the shape of his nose.”
~ Around the Tea Table by T. De Witt Talmage (1875)

Follow Gail on Facebook & Twitter. Or you can join her mailing list.
She also has a fashion blog ~ Retro Rack.
The best place to talk all things Parasol Protectorate is on its
Facebook Group.
mizkit July 25 2014, 16:59

Recent Reads/GGK Book Club: A Song for Arbonne

I just finished A SONG FOR ARBONNE, which was May’s GGK Book Club book. (I’m working on catching up! I bet I’ll be almost caught up by the end of the year! :))

I’ve been kind of interested in re-reading SONG, because I’ve only read it once and it didn’t, er, sing to me, as it were. It’s the one GGK book I’ve never had any particular interest *in* re-reading, which, in the end, caused me to be interested in re-reading it. I was wondering if it was my callow youth that caused it to not click, or if it was the book itself, or, well, what.

It’s the book.

SONG’s real problem for me—and I can remember, however vaguely, that this was its essential problem 20+ years ago as well—is that it is not TIGANA. Now, this is frankly an unfair assessment, because I don’t like to, and try not to, judge books for not being what I want them to be. Especially when the book it’s failing to be is my favourite book, full stop.

The thing is, I feel like SONG wants to be TIGANA. It has so many of the same themes: love of (complicated) family, love of country, love of music, and all the costs therein. It’s not the same story, not even vaguely, but to me, as a reader, it just feels like thematically it’s already been done, and done more powerfully, in TIGANA.

Maybe I’m reading it as the wrong kind of song. Maybe it’s a ballad to TIGANA’s overture, I don’t know, but it just doesn’t work for me the way TIGANA does. I can even see moments in it where I feel like it *should*, but it doesn’t reach the heights (or the depths). I kind of wish I could step back and read SONG first, just to see if, delivered outside of TIGANA’s shadow, it would hit me more powerfully.

There was also—noticeably to me now—the attitude of the main character, Blaise, toward women. It was progressive for his people, but Arbonne’s society is modeled on Eleanor of Aquitaine’s Court of Love, and is ruled by a woman, which Blaise doesn’t start out thinking very highly of. I suspect that my distaste for his distaste may have colored my reading back then; it *certainly* did this time. (He comes around, and does so in a way and a timeline appropriate to both himself and the book, but starting where he does kind of makes me want to smack him around. Again, not a really fair assessment, but there you go.)

Even so, I think I liked it better this time: I wasn’t so much expecting it to be TIGANA, maybe. It was in most ways a total revelation, as I remembered exactly one thing (the big secret revealed at the end) and it turned out I’d entirely forgotten all the particulars (indeed, remembering the big secret caused me to completely incorrectly assign the secret to someone and I was actually surprised when I turned out to be wrong), so it was a pretty satisfying read in most regards.

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(x-posted from The Essential Kit)

shweta_narayan July 25 2014, 16:19

quick stone telling note

Almost everything has been word soup for me with migraine + bug + other pain issues + medication the last 4-5 weeks, which is why we haven't had any progress to report, sorry :/ & I need to give current meds another week ish to see if I adapt or not. But hopefully we can make much progress soon after that! I'm really looking forward to sharing this TOC with everyone :):)
shweta_narayan July 25 2014, 15:48

No subject

I've been saying in comments to the other post that I should post a picture of the designs for the peacock quilt, so here they are! I'm extremely proud of them, but I think it's p obvious how much creative work was still left in figuring out how to turn this into an actual quilt. I really just made a base that my mother build on, and a lot of the details had to change colour before they worked.
I had a fair amount of input, but frankly the final decisions that worked were all hers :D

swan_tower July 25 2014, 15:00

A Year in Pictures – Colosseum Edge

Colosseum Edge
Creative Commons License
This work by http://www.swantower.com is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

The Colosseum is one of those buildings that’s difficult to photograph, because it’s just too big. Picking one edge of it and focusing on that turned out better than any of my whole-site shots.

Originally published at Swan Tower. You can comment here or there.

This entry was also posted at http://swan-tower.dreamwidth.org/670796.html. Comment here or there.
handful_ofdust July 25 2014, 14:03

Friday Update

Eight chapters, 16,000+ words, seven kudos, 130 hits. That's the score thus far, on "This Old Death." I also went back and lj-cutted all previous chapters, as well as adding a "fanfiction" tag. Such a tag has always existed on my LJ; go to user info to access it, if you're so inclined. (I will, inevitably, be putting the fanfiction hosted here up on AO3 at some point, though I'm not sure when.)

Some people may be wondering why I'm doing this, so I'll reiterate what I've said before in various posts and interviews: A) I like writing fanfiction, and B) the way things seem to go with me is that when I get involved in a fandom, I am inevitably pulled headlong towards the absolute tiniest end of that fandom's shipping spectrum, so if I didn't write the stuff I wanted to read, said stuff very literally would not exist. Also, in this case, C) it's so rare that I get the urge to write anything long and even vaguely canon-compliant/-divergent that when it does come upon me, I kind of feel like I have to pursue it.

(This even though some people may recall me having exploded out of the fanfiction gate way back when with "My Wife and My Dead Wife," in OZ, which was very definitely both of the latter, as well as porny as all get out. And I did it all over the period between Season Two hiatus and the Season Three premiere, too, which I'm still proud of...but then again, back then I was single, childless, and had a writing career which didn't involve constant creative work. Things have changed, as Bob Dylan sang.)

None of what I'm doing with "This Old Death" is likely to cut into my professional work, especially if I can cap it off within the next three to four days. It may involve truncating things a bit, but when you're dealing with a cast this huge, sometimes it be's like that. And one way or the other, I do have the end already--both planned and pretty much executed--so that always helps. Spoiler alert: things don't end well...but then again, it's that sort of a universe, isn't it? Dead rising, total societal collapse, cats and dogs living together, Rick Grimes/the Governor, etc. Mass hysteria!

In only slightly less traumatic news, last night my Mom and I attended a house concert given by David Sereda, with whom I had the privilege of singing two or so years ago via the Echo Women's Choir. He's a passionate, amazing local Ontario singer-songwriter/composer of multiple musicals whose interpretations are only outdone by his original stuff, and at one point he sang a song that was so moving I surprised myself by how much I cried, from first notes to last--you'd've thought it was somebody I knew who'd died. The lyrics were elegant and wrenching in equal amounts, evoking the myth of Orpheus, the AIDS crisis and the potential possibility of new love after tragedy, that I immediately wanted to hear it over and over. Naturally, it's a very recent piece of his which probably hasn't been recorded yet, because I definitely can't find it on his SoundCloud page. So hurry up and release that album/"file of downloads," David! I need to make myself cry again, and soon.

Another distinctive thing about last night is that as we waited for a streetcar on Toronto's skeeviest corner (Queen and Sherbourne, in case you're wondering), a guy wandered randomly by with a live raccoon on his head. "Cute!" one loitering crackhead exclaimed, and went to pet it; "Hsss!", the raccoon exclaimed, striking at him with its creepy little hands. The downtown GTA, ladies and gents.

This entry was originally posted at http://handful-ofdust.dreamwidth.org/531979.html. Please comment either here or there using OpenID.
oursin July 25 2014, 12:44

Oh Dame Ngaio, yoof culture fail

I returned to A Clutch of Constables, which has a lot of the usual Marsh irksome things - racism is only expressed by the low and the vulgar (in fact is one marker of this) but the only person of colour we see is a dignified middle-class professional, something we have seen before in Dame N's work.

The usual class/gender/sexuality/prejudice against various groups issues - dodgy Aussie and dodgy Yanks, as well as the maddening spinster lady with her 'special friend' offstage.

But really: there are a couple of young people who keep showing up in a dodgy sort of fashion on a motorbike, described as 'mods'. Okay, maybe some mods did zip around on motorbikes rather than the usual Vespa motor-scooter.

But when someone actually describes them, what are described are quite clearly rockers (long greasy hair, leathers, etc), not mods (also, given the importance of soul music within mod culture, would mods have been quite that overtly racist? - not that it necessarily follows, I suppose).

I cannot believe that the distinction between the subgroups of 60s youth culture was not all over the media at the time she was writing. Mods were about style and dandyism.

This entry was originally posted at http://oursin.dreamwidth.org/2125973.html. Please comment there using OpenID. View comment count unavailable comments.

antonstrout July 25 2014, 12:04

My tweets

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rosefox July 25 2014, 06:34

"A wide variety"

Good things:

The one (1) knee doctor in NYC who takes my insurance was great. He says I have patellofemoral pain syndrome, which means "That pain you told me about, where your knee meets your shin bone? It's pain where your knee meets your shin bone". I love medicine. ℞ is physical therapy to stretch and strengthen my quads, biweekly for eight weeks. Conveniently, the one (1) physical therapist in NYC who takes my insurance is also 20 minutes from my house by a single very direct bus.

This particular variety of knee pain is like most back pain: the best day-to-day treatment is to pretend it's not there and keep doing what you'd usually do. So I've been doing that and my knees are doing better, though still really not fond of stairs.

X and J and I had a really really nice family date night last night. We made a tasty dinner and watched "Encounter at Farpoint", and then J went to bed and X and I stayed up for a bit and snuggled and watched Northern Kings metal covers of pop ballads and giggled together. It was just right, and sorely needed.

I bought new sandals: Naot Karenna, dark brown ("buffalo"). They're very comfortable, though it's taking me a little while to figure out how tightly to fasten the straps; I'm used to the shift-and-give of buckles, not the firmness of Velcro. I had the toe strap on the left one too tight today and it rubbed a bit. But they suit my gender perfectly and my knees feel great when I'm wearing them. And I already had a dark brown belt to wear with them, because this dandy is prepared.

Therapy today was of the wrenching emotional variety and also the being gently scolded challenged by my therp. "Be messy," he said, "and stop policing your emotions." New therp is very very good. I am very very full of feels and now very very aware of being full of feels and very very nervous about letting them out. Augh. Oh well, this is what therapy is for. It is still a good thing, though it's hard.

After therping I decided that what I really needed was a steak and a book where people are nice to each other, so I went out to Outback (not the best steak in the world, but in my price range and right across the street from work) and read a good chunk of a romance novel, and felt considerably better after that. Yay self-care.

Annoying things:

Rose, mid-May: "I'm going to cut back my FSA contributions a lot, since I'm finishing up with my therapist and generally in good health."
June 1: annual FSA contribution adjustment deadline passes
Rose, mid-July: "I'm seeing a new therapist who doesn't take my insurance and now I need 16 sessions of physical therapy. Um. Welp. Guess I use post-tax money for that."

Can't foresee everything, I suppose.

The Naot sandals are made in Israel. I struggle a lot with the whole boycott idea, which has some significant downsides, but it's still hard for me to buy Israeli goods right now. I can talk around and around the politics and morals and practicalities and it comes back to that point of pure emotion: it's hard for me. And I'm so sad that Israel is doing such terrible things. And I'm going to stop here because I can't even really bear to think about any of this right now. (So no comments on this topic, please.)

Sad things:

My poor little Sammycat has a UTI. I think this is the first time she's been ill in the nine years she's lived with us, so she is confused and perturbed. I had to put her in kitty jail overnight because she was leaving sad little pink-tinged puddles all around the house in hopes that maybe if she pees in this spot it won't hurt. I lined the entire thing with wee pads and gave her food and water and a cardboard box to sleep in. It's going to take her a while to figure out that kitty jail is a place she can't get out of, and then she's going to whine and wail for a bit, and then hopefully she'll be able to sleep.

Alex is completely freaked out by the sight of kitty jail--he spent several days in quarantine there when we first got him, and clearly has not forgotten--and really confused by being on the outside of it and another cat being on the inside of it. I hope he leaves Sam alone. I placed it as far from all our bedrooms as possible, and well away from the cat tree that's Alex's most likely perching spot. Usually he and Sam both sleep in my room, but I have my door shut so I can't hear her crying. My poor tiny cat. :( :( :( I just hate making her sad, but I can't stay up all night and follow her around with paper towels.

One of us will take her to the vet tomorrow and get her some tasty antibiotics. Good thing we've trained her to think of Pill Pockets as treats. Since she's never been sick, we've never had to pill her, but I can't imagine she'd handle it well.

Augh, even with the a/c and fan on "high" I can hear her agonized lonelyhowl, the sound she used to make at our old apartment every night because I couldn't let her sleep in my room. This is awful. At least I know from that experience that she'll give up once it's clear that I'm not coming out to free her.

I keep telling myself that this is character-building and will help me prepare for being a parent. Or something.

Time to sleep so I can be a good cat-parent in the morning.

You're welcome to comment on LJ, but I'd rather you leave a comment on the Dreamwidth version of this entry. The current comment count is comment count unavailable.
desperance July 25 2014, 03:18

I hope we all learned something today

Who knew that you could toast nuts in the microwave? Not I, but now I know it. Three minutes turned my pecans roasty-toasty and delicious; and all this lesson cost me was a piece of tupperware, which I had taken to be microwave-proof, and so it was. The microwaves went straight through it. Unfortunately, so did the hot nuts. I call this sub-optimal, but hey. I have a lot of tupperware. And I toast a lot of nuts these days. It's good to have a quick way to do it that doesn't involve either the oven or a lot of anxiety over a dry pan with a flame beneath. Also, it's good to have a use for the microwave, given how much space it takes up.
sovay July 25 2014, 02:55

All I have to contribute is a broken lace to a missing boot

I am getting very little sleep lately. "Lately" means at least since May. My insomnia is the worst it's been since 2006. I am trying not to talk about it all the time here because it's not very interesting and I don't want medical advice. I had a voice lesson this afternoon; I met Matthew at J.P. Licks and brought him back to meet the cats: Autolycus rode around on his shoulder and was confused by his sandals and Hestia hunted his feet. After he left, I finished some work and fell over sideways on the couch with a cat curled up against my stomach and didn't so much doze for an hour as lay there listening to traffic noises for forty-five minutes and then suddenly blacked out. I was woken by a call center wanting my statistics on grocery shopping. I said I'd really rather not and hung up.

I was asleep just long enough to dream: a scene like a page from a book or five minutes from a movie. I tried to think after I was awake if it was something I'd read or seen, but I'm not coming up with anything. The clothes and the cars look like Britain in the 1940's, perhaps just after the war. There are no barrage balloons or signs stenciled on the streets; I don't see rubble everywhere or so many vacant lots, so we're well after the Blitz. A girl is walking up the steps of a theater. There's a man sitting at the top, sharp-kneed, hands braced on the dirty stone behind him. From outside the dream, I can tell he's younger than I am, but to the girl he looks formidably adult and impressively dissipated, like all the worst rumors about actors. His dark hair is stickily uncombed; he's got his shirt buttoned straight, but hastily. He looks like he just fell out of someone else's bed. They might have been using his jacket for a pillow. You can see her trying not to wonder if he's drunk; not to wonder what else she wouldn't know how to recognize. Before she can decide between saying something or stepping past him, he jerks his head at her and says without greeting or preface, "You can go in." His tone is malicious; she almost looks behind her to see if there's someone else he's choosing between. He has a skeptical, tight-angled face, not handsome; he must know he's making her uncomfortable. As she takes the top step, he leans back a little to toss the words after her: "Radley likes them young." As if he himself doesn't. An encouragement that's intended to unsettle. She walks faster because of him and he doesn't look satisfied with himself. He isn't drunk: he's just been fucking the director, ten minutes before auditions, and he's tired of being hustled offstage to make room for the ingenues. (Nothing in the scene said what he did, but I thought it was set design. They have worked together since school. My opinion of the director, in the dream and after it, is low.) He's being deliberately offensive, making himself look worse than he is—an impulse rather than a habitual behavior, but the impression will stick with her. She'll get a part. That's all there was. I can't even remember if it was in color.

So I don't know who that was meant for and I don't know what I'll do with it—I do not write historical fiction easily and I feel there's no shortage of stories about the theater, especially about sexuality and secrets; I wouldn't give it to Mary Renault to write (she would not be sympathetic to either of them and something stupidly melodramatic would happen in the last chapter), but she feels like the right era. There's nothing fantastic in that scene at all and the only realist fiction I can remember finishing right now was a fairy tale retelling. On other hand, I have had dreams turn into stories before (sometimes years after the fact: I wrote "The Clock House" because of a dream in 2008), so I am not going to throw it out. But it was a strange vivid little fragment and I can't help feeling the rest of the story was going on somewhere else; I just tuned in. I could have kept watching if it were on TCM.

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