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Edited to add URLs.

The Donor is now complete on line. I don't know if anybody is reading it, but there it is. I went back and changed it from block paragraphs to indented paragraphs, and it looks okay in my browser, but if it doesn't work in yours, you could let me know. I did make an attempt at dealing with it all with cascading style sheets, but I was missing something and I decided to do it the clunky old nonbreaking spaces way, which I understand has problems.

Also, if you find typoes, let me know.

And there's a burning question for me: one reader when I first wrote the thing seemed to think the ending was (ROT-13)ragveryl gbb unccl, but I thought it was (ROT-13)gbb ceboyrzngvp gb or npghnyyl unccl.

Also, soon I'll be moving other fiction of mine to the website, and resuming Bella and Chain.

On another front, my doctor has referred me for a polysomnogram because my blood pressure, while not really high, is proving hard to control (since we discovered that my old drug, which worked, was causing me to cough a lot), and because when I was younger I used to fall asleep inappropriately a lot (I almost never do now). I don't have the characteristic heavy snoring with gasping and stuff. He says that it might be that I don't fall asleep inappropriately any more because I "learned to live with it." I don't know if it's germane, but my mother said I used to stop breathing and turn blue when I was a baby. The doctor of the time said "Sometimes they do that." And my mother said "What if she stops breathing altogether? She could die." and the doctor said "Sometimes they do that."

I didn't die.
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Yup. Two chapters in less than a week. I want to be finished damned soon. And I will be: there's one chapter to go, though I may split off the last little bit and call it a chapter so as to have an even two dozen chapters. And the last little bit needs some reconstructing for various reasons so it may take a little longer.

On other fronts: it seems that my father's situation is common for the stage of radiation therapy he's in, and my son, who seems him much more than I do, says that he makes sense when you can hear what he says. But he's lucky to get 500 calories down him in a day (he had a little extra when he started having trouble, but that was some months ago).

And Gloria is making a little more sense again, too.

But I'm still exhausted, and this weekend is humongous -- Saturday: Monterey water treatment plant in the morning, Chinese New Year Parade at night: Sunday: oh please catch up with laundry and dishes, and I forget what all else. And the apple tree has not been pruned yet, nor the almond trees, and the apple tree always sorely needs it because we've never gotten a handle on the watersprouts.

And I have a review to wqrite and where did I put the damned book?
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And two more chapters before that's finished. I don't expect to do any real writing today: I got back from the City at about one in the morning, and I have errands to run on behalf of the kids. I realized recently that if Frank is to be a caregiver 16 hours a day four days a week, and he is also to get into medical school and have his other needs taken care of, I must do things for him: it's not hoverymother or smotherymother for me to do this. It's part of my contribution to the whole system of our family. He just can't go to University offices and places like that -- he's somewhere else when they're open. Currently, the only thing standing between him and an interview at Wash U is a "dean's certificate" which is a checkoff the college is supposed to do that asserts he's done nothing bad. Only UCSC doesn't have dean's certificates, so his residency college (UCSC has ten colleges which are subunits of the campus and terribly confusing to explain to people: Frank went to Crown (Zellerbach), the nice fellow and I were at Stevenson (Adlai)and Emma is at Porter (Five, to us old folks). Crown is a science nerd college and Porter is an art wank college. Stevenson is -- liberal guilt college, I guess)

Moher wants to give my father's old Ford Escort to Frank. When my father got it clear what she was talking about he said "God help him." I don't think the car is that bad. But it's also possibly not a good idea for him to own a car when he has no income. We'll work this out over time.

Oh, the thing about Wash U -- that's the medical school my friend Sharon went to about the same time that Frank was born. It's in St. Louis. One of my father's compilations is juat a whole raft of renditions of "St. Louis Blues:" I hate to see that evening sun go down.


Moher is much better. She's taking charge of things now, and helping to direct my father's care. I'm not sure about my father, because I've only seen him at bedtime the last couple weeks.

On another front, if you ever have a chance to go to the San Jose Museum of Art, it's free, and while it is small, it is very well curated. It's wisely oriented towards modern art, and in both the exhibits I saw (a ceramics one and a political art one) the information cards on the wall frequently showed the older art work that "informs" the newer, which helps a lot in understanding the artist's intentions, like having read the Odyssey helps in understanding James Joyce or the Coen Brothers.
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So Gloria has shown signifigant deterioration in the last couple of weeks. We're sure that she's having those little strokes all the time -- she has these headaches, she becomes less coherent, she feels bad, she lies down. Yesterday she was frantic all morning to get things done -- mopping the floor, which has been the job of the weekly housecleaner forever, and various other strange little tasks. And we were talking past each other all day.

I went googling for advice, and nobody has any, apparently, for what to do during these little stroke things (if that's what they are). They talk about aspirin or warfarin for prevention, but nothing for during and after. I decided I have to become more proactive again about talking with her and doing things with her -- I've been sort of passive this last month, I think because I'm just generally tired from driving to San Francisco and back twice a week. (which also means I've been eating badly: I always overeat when I'm tired: and I've regained, I think, the four or five pounds I'd lost. And my new blood pressure medicine that doesn't make me cough also doesn't keep my blood pressure down, which will be addressed in a couple of weeks)

On the other hand, things are better in San Francisco. My father has had his first week of radiation therapy, and while he's not bouncy, he's not exactly wasted. Frank has been making him tiny meals many times a day and he's eating better. Moher is walking without a cane and taking charge again (she's the take-charge kind of person. She had started to insist on being in the know a week or more ago, and that was definitely a milestone).

Okay. personheadhttp://hrj.livejournal.com/ tagged me for one of these silly list things that I've come to the point of maybe resisting. It's the only time I've ever been tagged for anything, so it would be discourteous for me to refuse, or to refuse to tag somebody. But before I do that, can I register my disappointment that a word I hate has been adopted by the world online?

Goodness knows I'm not opposed to neologisms. I'm no kind of purist about neologisms, either -- when I see a painful hybrid of Greek and Latin and Germanic roots I think it's funny, not sacreligious. But sometimes a word comes along and a person just can't abide it for their own reasons. I hate hate hate the word "meme" for two reasons: 1)it originates in a stupid fashionable misunderstanding of the way genetics and evolution work and 2)it has unpleasant connections for me because it first spread in usenet by people I don't like. Lots of people I do like participated in this spreading too, so if you can recall being one of the first people to spread this word and the unfortunate stupid idea that clings to it like a mind-numbing stumbling block to comprehension, don't worry -- if you're reading this and you're one of those first people, you're probably not one of the people I don't like, though you probably know who I'm talking about. (probably better than I do because I have not had anything to do with them for a while)

Okay, the silly list thing goes like this: you list five guilty pleasures and then tag five people.

My silly list of five guilty pleasures:
1. fried fish sandwiches in a fast food restaurant
2. salty Japanese snacks
3. dumber and dumber and dumber romantic comedies with fakey cryey spots ("In her Shoes," "Just Like Heaven")
4. mint chocolate ice cream
5. amateur online gay coming of age erotic romance serials. Which I feel less guilt about as the genre develops and I realize I'm watching a new form of literature evolve, and I'm also watching a very interesting phenomenon develop in the interactive community of readers and writers involved with them, and I think I may be able to produce a stuffy analysis of it all, if I can remember how academic writing is supposed to go.

Okay, I'll tag, um, [livejournal.com profile] del_c,[livejournal.com profile] mayakda,[livejournal.com profile] orangemike,[livejournal.com profile] brooksmoses, and [livejournal.com profile] aynathie.

On another front, I have finally finished transcribing Chapter 21 of The Donor and will upload it sometime after I tour the water treatment plant and look at orchids with the nice fellow. And I wrote six hundred new words in that story about boys who don't: I think I know what it is now: I think it has four sections and they're really quite grown by the third one. Maybe five, depending on how I work out this one thread of the story.

Oh yes: the manzanita in front of Gloria's is in full bloom, and so are my two almond trees, and the apricot tree is in advanced popcorn stage, and the plum tree is in early popcorn stage, and the Belle of Portugal (rosa giganta) is blooming. And the mustard and oxalis are blooming all through the apple orchards on Calabasas Road. No arguing about it: it's springtime.
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Thanks to Joannna Russ. No, not something she personally did for me, but in her first work about slash, she mentioned how ridiculous the convention was that people would get all gooey and horny with a person directly after fixing them up from grave harm and danger. She said the most natural response in the situation would be disgust and a complete loss of libido. So that rang true and explained a lot to me about what Jack would really do.

On other fronts -- here's the right way to take psyllium should you ever have to:

Pour a large pitcher of water. Have a comfy-sized glass. Fill the glass. Sprinkle in a third of what you're going to use. Stir well, but do not let it sit long. Drink it up. Repeat until you've got the whole dose down. Don't try to eat much.
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Bella and Chain is almost but not quite updated. I've update Bella through Dec. 8, and Chain too, and will be updating Nonyomni in a few moments. I have solved the technical difficulty of updating The Donor: Rosemary found my notebook with the chapter in it under an afghan here at my father's house, where I've been the last two days and will be until Tuesday. However, I have no FTP access in this house so no Terry and Jack and Eurick until probably after Christmas.
I saw my stepmother on Saturday. She's been moved to the rehabilitation center at Kaiser Hospital Vallejo, which is apparently the best rehab center in the country, and all because of unions and litigation. When the UMW (mineworkers) got their big black lung settlement, they shopped around for an institution to give money to to build a rehab center and they decided on Kaiser because it was the best deal they could get and Kaiser has good relations with unions anyway. So Moher's supposed to be there until abotu Jan.6, working six to eight hours a day every day on rehab stuff. Apparently she is doing very well for three weeks after a severe stroke. She can't do anythign with her right hand yet but she can move that shoulder, and similar with the right leg, but best of all she can talk quite a bit though her words will give out on her at the most frustrating times. Most characteristically, she laughs a lot.
also liked what I saw of Vallejo town, which is the first time I've driven around in it for probably forty years. It's a grimy industrial city, but it has a warm and inclusive atmosphere, meaning the signs of ethnicity are mixed up and people seemed friendly.
Because of all these things -- my father's pain and disability, Moher's stroke, Emma's problem, etc. etc., Christmas is starting to seem like a minor but persistent irritation. People on the nice fellow's side of the family are being really sweet and wanting to get together and maybe band together to do some volunteering as a family and I'm just overwhelmed because it's all this scheduling and negotiation and I can't think straight. Even though a large part of my time is spent sitting and waiting to be needed.
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Bella and Chain is almost but not quite updated. I've update Bella through Dec. 8, and Chain too, and will be updating Nonyomni in a few moments. I have solved the technical difficulty of updating The Donor: Rosemary found my notebook with the chapter in it under an afghan here at my father's house, where I've been the last two days and will be until Tuesday. However, I have no FTP access in this house so no Terry and Jack and Eurick until probably after Christmas.
I saw my stepmother on Saturday. She's been moved to the rehabilitation center at Kaiser Hospital Vallejo, which is apparently the best rehab center in the country, and all because of unions and litigation. When the UMW (mineworkers) got their big black lung settlement, they shopped around for an institution to give money to to build a rehab center and they decided on Kaiser because it was the best deal they could get and Kaiser has good relations with unions anyway. So Moher's supposed to be there until abotu Jan.6, working six to eight hours a day every day on rehab stuff. Apparently she is doing very well for three weeks after a severe stroke. She can't do anythign with her right hand yet but she can move that shoulder, and similar with the right leg, but best of all she can talk quite a bit though her words will give out on her at the most frustrating times. Most characteristically, she laughs a lot.
also liked what I saw of Vallejo town, which is the first time I've driven around in it for probably forty years. It's a grimy industrial city, but it has a warm and inclusive atmosphere, meaning the signs of ethnicity are mixed up and people seemed friendly.
Because of all these things -- my father's pain and disability, Moher's stroke, Emma's problem, etc. etc., Christmas is starting to seem like a minor but persistent irritation. People on the nice fellow's side of the family are being really sweet and wanting to get together and maybe band together to do some volunteering as a family and I'm just overwhelmed because it's all this scheduling and negotiation and I can't think straight. Even though a large part of my time is spent sitting and waiting to be needed.
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So here it is. There are four more chapters and I'm moving like molasses. I'm in a sort of slump in general, so slow updates on Bella and Chain. Probably because I've been coughing like crazy. It's reflux coughing, not asthma couching (lung capacity is fine) or infection coughing. I went out and bought a scale because I need some kind of feedback besides my erratic notetaking to let me know that I really am eating the whole lot less I think is essential for dealing with the reflux. In addition, I'm going to see the doctor and ask if it makes sense to switch medications again -- could the one I'm on have stopped working? It's really demoralizing, because TMI )

So my tree kept having more and more and more apples on it and I finally went and got some expensive English cider yeast and that very night we discovered we were finally just about out of apples. So I made more apple butter and I think I will make pie. And I will have to do something with the yeast so I'm going to buy several gallons of nice apple juice.

The apple butter is good. It was easy to do. And I've made notations in the relevant cookbook as to the changes I made -- less sugar, less ground spices, some orange juice and brandy. I don't understand this phenomenon. Other people use cinnamon, cloves, allspice, nutmeg in much higher quantities than I do and I don't get bland results. And I'm not supersensitive. I* just wonder what other factors there are?

So my keeping Nicky company in NAnoWriNoMo, only doing shorts, was a failure. I contracted for eight short stories and I produced one and most of one.

I'm still contemplating the end of the rain one.
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I posted chapter eighteen late last night. Five more to go, I think.

No writing done today because we spent the whole day rambling around Big Basin with a docent learning where the globe lilies and coral roots and harry tulips will bloom in the spring. We saw woolly blue curls and found out how it came to be that the plant with that name at Big Basin is almost nothing like the plant with that name in the Pinnacles. Coyote mint is possibly my current favorite: it was in bloom and it smelled so good --this many good.

It was a four-mile walk and we took almost six hours to do it because we were having so much fun. And Ted found a calyptrata mushroom that was so big and bueatiful that we were really sad about being in a State Park with witnesses. The other people on the walk were Gore-tex people -- all nice gear and they run 100-mile races and crap and I kept up just fine and that means something.

Last night we played Scrabble. I bought a new set in a wooden box. I had not played in years and I lost, naturally, but it was a good thing to do.

There are various things I mean to write but not now.

The docent takes people out on the third weeked: 4 miles to Sempervirens FCalls and back on Saturday, and five miles in a different direction on Sunday.
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At last. Between being sick, working on other things, and charging up to the City a bunch, it's taken me forever. It has as close as I get to sexy in it, I think.

Later, some more Bella and Chain and then I have to do housework. When do I do shorts? I don't know.

Edited to add:
[livejournal.com profile] bellawheel and [livejournal.com profile] nonyomni have updated a little bit too.

No shorts.
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And I'm sick as a dog!

I was going to go see my father today. His cortisone shot didn't work and he's still largely immobilized and it's a drag for him. But I got him a good boirthday present and I think I'll take it to him early even though I'm going to see him on the very day (next Sunday).


I've sort of gotten myself into deep waters by agreeing to do two shorts a week for the rest of the month. But by dog I'll do it.

Tomorrow I'm cheating. I'm going to finish the vine tying story.
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I finished transcribing chapter sixteen of The Donor-- it will go up tomorrow.
I finished the story "Seven Little Men." I'll polish it down below 4.5K probably. I need to do an orgy of sending stories out.
I wrote today's, yesterday's, and tomorrow's bits for Bella and Chain. Besides the fact that it's almost midnight, the reason I'm not doing any posting until the morning is that I need to drastically fix bits in Bella and Chain and I want to be fresh for that.

We went to visit the animal shelter, I don't know why, and had an immense lunch at La Bruschetta in Felton. They don't call it La Bruschetta for nothing. They have a separate menu for bruschetta. They make a big deal of being Sicilian but the food was mostly not really unfamiliar. Though the nice fellow's sandwich had "ammogliu" sauce on it. That appears to be a typo for something that ends with an o but I am no wiser for googling other than that. Last week we went to a restaurant with cuisine from Puglia, where they seem to live on eggs and parsley.

Okay, here's a question for Anna or Anna -- in restaurants in Italy, do they try to grate cheese and crack pepper on every single plate anybody orders? With immense graters and grinders?

Or is that a USian Italian restaurant thing?

So I promised Nicky Browne or is it Matthews that I'd keep her month of short stories project company with two a week. Thursday and Monday. I am cheating this coming Monday with a piece that's half finished. Then I need six more ideas and while ideas are easy to come by not many of them are manageable as shorts.

And I ordered the soundtrack of "Everything is Il;luminated" for Gloria, who wanted to see the movie twice (we did), and whose taste in music appears to be as wide ranging as mine: but when I hit on KPIG she asks me to turn it up loud.
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The index page of Bella and Chain seriously needs to be fixed. And it will be. But I spent all day on it trying to get everything on it, and also have it look good and be functional, and finally I just put it up like that.

Here's how it's going to work. I'm only going to update the chapter view a little more often than once a month, but the journals will have something new in them every day -- maybe something small, maybe something large. Documents that are not in the jounrals -- such as the Open Book newsletters or Harry's things -- will appear at the website but they'll be linked to from nonyomni's journal. I'm going just now to check that the comments are enabled in the journals, so if you want to argue with somebody about something, it will be possible.

The other thing that's going to happen in a couple of minutes is I'm going to upload a few pictures. Some Halloween pictures and I'm not sure what else. Probably the plastic wrapped berry fields pictures. I was taking pictures all summer but I haven't loaded them. I will catch up, gradually.

I will still be transcribing and posting The Donor. It's all written, so that's not a distraction. And I haven't really given up on Afterwar.
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Chapter sixteen is long, also.

I have figured out two things about Bella and Chain that I did not know before: the more or less true identity of the anonymous omniscient narrator, and the significance of the dog named Monkey (I know it's a dumb name, and I tried to get rid of it, but niw I'm glad I didn't, because as it turns out there's even an excuse for the dumb name).

I have alkso been bitten by another story -- of which I will only say this: why are Snow White's seven little men living in a secret house in the forest, and working in a mine nobody else knows about? I know. I know everything about them, I think. I also know that that deer heart the forester brought to Snow White's stepmother was not a deer heart. You know, "tier" in German means "animal." But that heart was only an animal heart if you think that people outside of your own tribe are not people but animals.

It's not a happy story, I don't think, but it might be fun in that way that (excuse me, James) Buffy stories can be fun.

All this, but I still don't know what's what with Afterwar. I had an idea the other day but I misplaced it.

on entirely other fronts, it did precipitate yesterday but not enough and the current storm at sea is not coming close enough either. So no First Flush for a while yet.

And another thing -- everybody go read Ruth Ozeki's All Over Creation. I may change my opinion after I finish it. But it sure does do culture clash, agricultural policy, and mother love pretty well.

poison oak

Oct. 17th, 2005 05:34 pm
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I have never had a case of poison oak that I'm sure of. I think I have it now. It doesn't itch. It's strawberry-red blotchiness on the inside of my shins from my ankles to my knees which becomes redder when I sit with my legs poitned down and less red when I lift my legs and rub them.

The pre-med in the house thinks it looks like allergic reaction, and the most logical thing for me to react to on my legs is poison oak which I do avoid but I also do traverse land with poison oak on it almost every day -- Lighthouse Field and Gloria's house.

Speaking of dogs, and aren't we always, did I mention I'm very slightly tempted by a New Orleans refugee dog at the vet's? Her name is Fancy, unfortunately, and she's about two, colored sort of like Truffle is but more russet where she is more tan, and she looks like Truffle would if her face was more like a dachshund's, you know, worried, with floppier ears, only she probably weighs half or less of Truffle's weight. She'll be available for adoption in mid-winter, at which point I will probably have forgotten all about it. Though I have to admit that traipsing about the woods in mushroom season with two short-legged dogs is atractive.

That's all. Poison oak and refugee dog. At another point there will be family complications, and the endless chapter fifteen, in which our guy agrees to "just a little bit more than last time, just a little bit sooner than iot should be" and he comes pretty close to dying. Not for the last time.
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Yes, I'm just busting them out. In this chapter, Terry embarks on a project to prove he's sane and ends up wondering if the psychiatrist is. He worries about Eurick getting enough, and Eurick worries about bad precedents, and Mary lies for Terry, and Terry offers to eat salted plum for Jack.

Next chapter the shit hits the fan again.

As comic relief from the weight of worldly disasters, let me point out that the bus strike is going into its third week soon, and the metro board has only just today met again, in closed-doors session, and will not list which members voted against settling with the drivers back when they had a chance. There has been a heavy disinformation campaign going, in which it's repeated over and over that the Metro drivers make the fourth highest hourly wage of municipal bus drivers anywhere in the US. Though wages are not the issue: health care benefits is.

Also, let's just contemplate that hourly wage for a moment, okay? It's $24 an hour. This is less than teachers make -- I'm not arguing they should make more, just referring back to the wage discussion that's been going on here in the second least-affordable community in the Unbited States -- one of the big publiuc stories that's been going around the last five years or so is that teachers don't make enough to live here, they can't buy a house on their wages, they can't pay the rents. Okay. If $25/hour is a lousy wage for teachers, why is $24/hour a scandalously high wage for drivers? Yeah, yeah, teachers are professionals and they have to go to graduate school and pay off their loans and stuff, and so maybe they should make more than other workers, but that's not the point. The point is that if a certain hourly wage is not enough for a worker to live in a community, then another, lower, wage can't possibly be scandalouly high, can it?

The issue with the health care benefits is pretty simple. It's that old back door, two-tier issue again -- you guys keep the old benefits and the new guys get the shaft. It's the fight that's been going on all over the map the last couple years.


If you want to learn about the Pakistan earthquake, you should visit Kathryn Cramer's blog.
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About 4K transcribed today. And substantially revised, though only on a word-sentence-paragraph level, not on an event and idea level.

I also planted a bunch of cute plants in the front yard. An amazing 8-foot potential salvia, called "chartreuse" because of its calyxes, a cute little blue salvia, a pink flowered thing called a croaweia, and a tiny fuschia, almost a microphylla but not quite. And I pruned again.

The chartrease was chosen by one of us and the other chose all the cute little sweet flowered ones. Guess who chose what? Hint: it's nothing to do with macho.

We saw Beat Takeshi's "Dolls" at the Pacific Rim Film Festival. I don't know. I'm not an action movie person, but I guess even I can have a movie that is too slow.

And it's one opf thopse m,ovies that makes you want to slap the characters. This guy did "Battle Royale" and a Zatoichi movie, but "Dolls" is different.
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So I gave up on the grapes ever completely ripening because the wildlife has discovered them and also the pvc pipe arbor I made has broken. We never got the August and September heat we have a right to expect (global warming doesn't mean local warming, except in the water). They were almost ripe. So I've got the crop in the dehydrator turning into golden muscat raisins. That's okay because you usually use raisins in things that get a little sweetening added anyway. I can use them in the spring to make haroset. I haven't made any wine because I got frighteningly close to no plums. But I may yet make cider, since I do still have more apples than you can shake a stick at and I have a nice juicer and all the equipment for brewing. I remember cider was a little complicated, though.

I also made large quantities of applesauce, no I didn't can it because I have done that before and there's just something creepy about eight-month-old home-canned applesauce. There's not too much to eat in a week or so, especially if I make applesauce cake, like I used to.

On other fronts: I have posted chapter twelve of The Donor, in which our guy loses a lover and gains a lifestyle. A creepy lifestyle. You can follow the Crystal Egg links in the sidebar.

I should be in bed, but I've been reading amateur romance instead.
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Chapter eleven is up. This is kind of the payoff chapter: it has the gooey goodness at the core of the story. Everything after this is consequences.

Also, Frank has some stuff to say about urgent versus emergent situations, and that pile of green beans is still getting to him, though it looks like nobody's going to be getting the green beans.

Now I'm going to bed.
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In chapter 10, our guy Terry is busy accumulating reasons why it's up to him to protect everybody else somehow. In chapter eleven, which will go up within a week, he comes up with "somehow" and it's all pretty well a mess. As usual, if there are any broken links or something, you can tell me about it.


On other fronts, significant parts of the house are sort of clean. And Randy Newman is my hero -- why don't I own any of his albums? And I think I might not hate Bing Crosby anymore.

Well, I have wanted to talk about fecklessness in Bleak House and why I think that my nadir of self-esteem the last two weeks has been intimately connected with Dickens. I know other people think the book is about other things, but I think it's largely about the varieties of fecklessness, bland selfish innocence (whereas The Old Curiosity Shop is about selfless innocence), the destructiveness of misplaced hope, and the redeeming powers ofwork and of relinquishing baseless ambition.

My butt hurts from sitting here for three hours getting the chapter up, but meanwhile, I'll try to say something about it. It'll be shorter than it ought to be.

There's Harold Skimpole. The Child -- who no more knows the value of five pounds than a butterfly does -- who somehow gets everyone else to pay his bills and who accepts a present of money in return for telling the detective where Jo is lying sick (which is pretty much what kills Jo, though for some reason the detective isn't a bad person in the light of the book although he has hounded the child to death -- how did he get away with that?). His innocence is nothing but selfishness, and everyone connected with him suffers heavily for it, although some people seem to love him dearly for his charm.

There's Mrs. Jellyby who I think actually has a form of autism (one thing about Dickens is that his descriptions are so detailed, vivid, and accurate that you can understand his characters in your own modern terms without violating the story, and without relinquishjing Dicken's own filter. Hot stuff). She can't see how she's bankrupted her husband, starved and neglected her many children, and generally made life miserable for all of those around her, while she focusses her energies on writing endless letters about a stupid plan to introduce some ill-considered and inappropriate farming scheme to Africa.

There's Mr. Turveydrop, who be virtue of his superior Deportment naturally assumes pride of place in everything, to the point of breaking his son's health and nearly breaking his daughter-in-law's health, but neitherr of them resent a bit of it, because of course he must go and show himself around to set an example in Deportment while they work hard and deny themselves everything. Since Caddy hated her mother (Mrs. Jellyby) so much for the same thing in a different guise it's painful to see her accepting Mr. Turveydrop's selfishness.

There's the fecklessnes of the innocents caught up in Chancery cases -- Mrs. Flite and Mr. Grainger not being selfish, but being ruined anyway for their misplaced ambitions. The Man from Yorkshire is a specially grievous case -- he's there because there was a very small conflict in the interpretation of the will by which he and his brother, with whom he agreed on almost everything, were to inherit, and taking the thing to Chancery meant that all the inheritance was eaten away, as was the Jarndyce inheritance that beguiles Richard into throwing all his money away to the very respectable and self-effacing vulturous lawyer, and eventually wasting away and dying in that inscrutable Dickens fashion -- I suppose in modern terms we would say that his obsession with the case probably developed because he had a degenerative mental condition anyway, possibly schizophrenia or a brain tumor or something.

The cumulative power of all that fecklessness -- and there are a lot of more minor instances in the book too -- is to inspire much more self-examination than is healthy. Knowing yourself may be a good thing, but there's a point beyond which it's just so much sausage factory, only the meat that's being ground is your self and your good opinion of yourself.

I am not Harold Skimpole. I don't make toher people pay for my money stupidity. I clean upo my own mess, though I don't always do it gracefully.

I am not Ms. Jellyby. I do take care of whoever's in front of me. It's the ones a little farther away that I forget to call and write to and stuff, and I feel bad about it and want to change.

Later on I have to talk about John Drake, who died a couple days ago and was the ex-husband of Nancy Scott who died a couple weeks ago and I wrote about her.

September 2017

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