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I finished Longbourn.I liked it a lot, though I was kind of dissatisfied with the ending. But I often am. I know some of you people care deeply about spoilers, so suffice it to say that the ending felt a wee bit rushed and forced to me. But the main thing is that here is a richly detailed working class romance where the resolution isn't "take the porotagonist out of the working class." Also, it's a great antidote for the whole (in my opinion) corrupt Regency Romance thing. I think I understand why so many people love that genre, but my response is usually "I hate these people and I want someone to expropriate everything they own and distribute it to the workers," Not exactly conducive to enjoying a lighthearted read. Longbourn is not, by the way, lighthearted.

I also read a chapbook of Karen Joy Fowler's (The Science of Herself)and now I want to call her up. She lives in my town! She actually went to school with the nice fellow, and sweetgly contacted me after he died--she didn't know he lived her until she saw his obituary.

Right this minute, I have no reading agenda, I am editing a thing for submission and I want it done byu next week, so I can do the next thing, etc. I want to get these old things cleaned upo and ready to send away, and then clear the decks so I can go back to not-Poland after surgery.

I finally got a cost estimate on the surgery and it's a relief: I do not have to cancel after all. This is of course a terrible crime against men of property and Congress would like to put a stop to it.

The other good medical news is I rode my bike to physical therapy and back: maybe three miles altogether? I'm not sure. And it was fine, though I expect to wake up tonight with the screamies. I did walk my bike up the one substantial hill, but the physicfal therapist says with my knees, I really, really should. She approved of the venture in general, though.

Yesterday I was thinking it looked like I am in a period where I can have more function or less pain, but not both, and that I seem to have chosen more function for now. Today it looks like I can have somewhat less pain if I persist in  going for more function. That's also reassuring. That's how it was until about a year ago. More exercise relieved pain as well as providing more function, bu just not right away.

Oh, and on another front: aside from the rain giving up on us and retreating, we do seem to have entered early spring, by the particular flowers blooming (quince) and the busy behavior of the birds. Also, I can tell there is more light, and both dog and I are more ambitious. She and I went for a long walk at the Yacht Harbor yesterday. She had some trouble coming back up the stairs, barely enough to call trouble.
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Today my dog is thirteen. We celebrated it by going to the dog park in the rain. No other dogs, but she enjoyed rolling in the mud, and being towelled off when we came home. Later she decided I had not towelled her off enough so she carried the towel around and rubbed herself on it.

On another front, it's raining!

I wonder if I'll ever get used to it again.

Oh lumbago

Sep. 25th, 2014 03:32 pm
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Not of general interest.
seriously, only read the next bit if you're interested in osteoarthritis and old lady health )
On another front, it rained and rained last night. On my laundry, but I note this more as a note of humor than a true complaint, because hey, it rained and rained! We love rain.
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The details are here.

I promise this livejournal is not turning into All Book Promotion All The Time. I just feel I must do my job.

On another front, I have a pile of Prague posts backordered due to the internet issues while I was there and being occupied with other things since I have returned. But expect posts on: "How (not) to eat like a Czech" (the secret is that Czechs don't eat that much Czech food), the Opera in the Forest, Hiking in the City, and how to choose what season to visit.

Also I may tackle topics I have no expertise on -- why not? everybody else does it -- like what the communist legacy is and isn't in Prague (I see a lot of people ascribing aspects of Czech life to communism, which were present before Marx was even born).

Also regular daily life, of course. Did I mention that it rained here the other day? Really. Very unusual for the time of year, and not just a drizzle. You should have seen how happy everybody was.
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I decided not to buy and install a rain barrel this year (they are only 45 dollars from the city water department) because there wasn't any rain.

I believe that today I could have filled the whole thing.

I am filling what I can, but I won't be able to save it for long.
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Our "likely rain" for tomorrow has been upgraded to "showers, with a chance of thunderstorms." Well, okay, it's not like we never have them, but thunderstorms are not really common around here. And also, it looks pretty wet from here until Monday.

On another front, Truffle and I met a mushroom hunter at the park. He's also the plumber who drives around the van with "425-CRAP" painted on it.
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So I'm writing along, minding my own business, trying to get some stuff in there to prevent everything happening at once and still have no pointless filler, when this fellow steps out of the crowd and bumps into my Yanek who is exploring the capital on his own. I'm trying to figure out who he is and he insists that he is the same soldier Yanek's supposed to meet two years (and a chapter or so) later. What the hell? And the conversation they're having is kind of creepy: it sounds like he's flirting with Yanek, which might make sense in two years when they're actually supposed to meet, but just now it's really creepy, as Yanek is sixteen and very, very small for his age and people still confuse him with a child.

I am going to have to fix this next writing session but for now I have to go to work early today. One way or another: either to go with the creepy and what the hell does that mean for the story? Or throw out the scene and do something else with the rest of this chapter.

It occurs to me that the appearance of this soldier might only just signify that I'm worrying about the wrong things and maybe I need to find an economical way to skip ahead to the events two years in the future and not worry about everything happening at once. Or he could be foreshadowng the creepiness of Yanek's army life.

On another front, the physical therapist is of course making magical things happen and I am in fact walking around and riding the bike as a bike now. If the rain ever returns I will have to return it to the stand in my bedroom. It is way too long since the last rain but the last few years have had divided rainy seasons, with big dry spells in the middle, and we've had normal-to-wet years anyway. A dry year will happen eventually, though, it could be now.
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Bognar Szilvia(Szilvia Bognar).

On another front: frost on my rooftop this morning.

Note to weather fairy: it is April. One could even say mid-April. This is Central Coast California, not the mountains or some other place with inhospitable weather. It's only three-four weeks till we expect the hillsides to start turning yellow. Last night it wasn't dark at eight o'clock. In other words: you're screwing up. There should be no frost on my rooftop.
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I feel like an overprivileged brat for the second time today writing about this, but it's tropical out there.  Warm and muggy and very windy, with that weird light that comes from a certain kind of cloud cover -- like we're going to have sunshowers or even a full-bore rainstorm with the sun glaring through.  It's not very cloudy, but the clouds that are there are heavy looking.  Did I mention the wind?  It's not dropping palm fronds on my car, but it feels like it will.

our storm

Jan. 20th, 2010 08:14 pm
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We had a tornado warning. I think a lot of people in the area don't know, because it came and it went, first downgraded to severe storm and then -- nothing.

But for an hour and a half or so we were learning what you're supposed to do -- we don't get tornadoes here, usually, so we had to get some info as we got to work. Turns out you move the kids into the space farthest away from the windows and wait for the all clear. I had just stopped at the other center on my way home, secure in the knowledge that I was going honme early because we didn't have enough kids to keep me, being polite is all as I checked in. On my way out the door again when the boss announces the tornado warning and the directions. Toddlers and preschoolers were at the tail end of their naps so we moved them naps and all into the central hallway and sat down with them. I was ready to do a circle time about wind but the kids were so bemused they just sat there, comfortably, actually, as if we always do this. Even a couple kids who usually have meltdowns when they wake up just stretched and looked around. The relevant staff called parents and gave them the lowdown, the parents came early, the emergency was called off, and I for one feel a lot better about windstorms now because I know what to do.

Other than that, it's just like a regular big storm here -- nothing like they're getting in Southern California. Some wind, some rain, a lot of palm fronds and tree trash in the street. Intermiitent blackouts. Normal winter stuff. Just the threat that it will be like this for three weeks or so makes it a bit over the top.
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This is possibly my first of these since the nice fellow died. Maybe not. I'm not up to checking.

Here are my favorite headlines from today's Sentinel:

They've posted a corrected phone number for Fish and Game so you can report mountain lion sightings. (I was going to insert a link to James Thurber's "After the Steppe Cat, what?" from Let Your Mind Alone but Thurber's writing is not available online)


This fellow, Charles Storey, has been charged with felony vandalism and misdemeanor trespassing. He built himself a 5,000 square foot house on 8 ridgetop acres in Scotts Valley and thought that it would be no big deal to cut up or cut down 49 of his neighbor's mature trees to get a clearer view of the ocean (leaving a horrible mess behind -- treetops dangling, slash all over the ground). He's the kind of person that buys property like that at 275,000 and builds a ridiculous house -- "a three-car garage, five potential bedrooms, three fireplaces and a gathering room with 20-foot ceilings and 18-foot-tall gothic arches," which he then tries to sell for almost two million dollars, partly on the basis of views he got by felonious means. (not that the views the house would have had anyway wouldn't have been fine: I just don't get these people, who can't relate to a piece of land for what it actually is)

The neighbor is the kind to elicit sympathy around here: he's a local, a retired fisherman who uses his two acres to hike and picnic, hoping someday to get it together to build properly. He says it will cost 15 thousand dollars to clean it up. The government arborist says there's been 20 thousand dollars in damage.

Everybody already knows, but we pretty much expect rain for the foreseeable future. Now, it's not odd to have a lot of rain at this time of year -- it's when we get it -- but the weather people are modelling on big storm after another without any letup for weeks, and they're worried.

There is somethiong wrong when it is news that the largest school district in the county, serving many of the poorest students, is going to apply for a state school breakfast program that's been in operation for years. I think what is wrong is that the reporter didn't understand what was being said, or didn't express it well: both Pajaro Valley and Santa Cruz school districts are speaking of "expansion grants," to cover students who weren't already in the program. But why weren't they? Was there a rules change? Are students newly poor? Did the state apply some of the stimulus money to breakfast programs (which wowuld only mnakes sense as a use of stimulus money if the money was used to hire local workers to prepare the food, and locally-grown food for them to prepare).

PZ Meyer is coming to town next week: (from Pharyngula Blog
7:00 - 8:30 pm, Bay Tree Building, Third Floor, Cervantez and Velasquez Room. Admission is free and open to the public.

I intend to go, because Frank can't!
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I was sick Thursday and Friday and I came home early both those days because I could. I decided to go dancing Friday night anyway and I believe it was the right decision.

However: I did not go to Lighthouse Field: I did not go to the forest: I did not finish pruning the apple tree quick quick before three weeks of rain comes down: I did not yet clean the kitchen or do the laundry.

I made a simmified and futurificated rendition of my own bedroom for the "attic" contest at Black Pearl Sims, and I wrote a paltry chapter in the silly-sweet novella for fictionpress (nobody seems to go into automatic "nobody should write except for pay" diatribes anymore, but let me tell you, if you were thinking of it, that what I write for fictionpress has no paying market anywhere but it does have a bit of a following. Nobody charges anybody for anything: it's just an old-fashioned APA, facilitated by some webmaster somewhere who makes a living off the ads -- which tonight as I check are normal ads for tv shows and consumer reports as far as I can tell, rather than predatory scalp-the-author outfits). I did take Truffle to both Frederick Street and to Meder Street, where she played with dogs, and I did go to the grocery store and also get hot and sour soup for Emma, who has a very sore throat. She showed me the work she's been doing with fabric and she's done really wonderful things. She will be selling the series of bags and purses with leather appliqued fossils. They're really nicely conceived and executed.

And Frank is now referring to the young woman as his girlfriend who last month he was not sure he was dating.
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The second map in this posting at Strange Maps says it all.
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No rain for a few days. I expect rain soon, though. A great wind came up last night and continues today. But no palm fronds on the ground yet: I wonder if there's any left to fall, after the last big wind. But it was a couple-few weeks ago, so maybe . . .
Not too much redwood trash on the deck yet either. Anyway, a windy day is usually followed at this season by some rain. Forecast is a week out, though.

The nice fellow brought home albino beets. I have seen them yellow, pink, stripey and deep red, but never white. I wonder if they also come green?

Yes, this is blather, but I think I have to blather to keep words flowing right now. Or get them flowing. I have not been doing well on that front.
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Four inches in a day, maybe a half an inch since then. To put this in perspective: until now, we had five inches in the whole rain year (since July, but the season really starts in late October or early November), and we get thirty in a normal year. So two days takes us from one-sixth of our normal total to one-third, and also takes us from certain drought to possible drought (we have four months left to make the total). We're expecting rain for the next week.

But the spectacular thing about the storm system was the wind. It was hard enough to knock out the power lines for a million and a half people from Oregon to the Mexican border. Power at our house was out for about twenty-six hours, but we take that in stride. The thrilling thing was being at work and waiting for the last parents to come and get their children. We announced at twelve we were going to close by four, but one mother was stuck over the hill and southbound Highway 17 was closed by a landslide "somewhere between the Cats and Bear Creek Road" which makes us sound pretty remote and rustic, doesn't it? It's not the only way to get into the county, though, so she drove the long way round, south and through Watsonville and then back, and she got there by four-thirty, which isn't so bad. An older brother of one of the babies said "Well, why are you the last person?" And I said, "Somebody has to be." And that's the simple truth.

So our power was out so long because a major transformer blew. This happens a lot in high winds around here. Downtown got its power back by mid-late afternoon, so we went to the bookstore and wandered around some. I think our own little chunk of neighborhood must have also had a piece of tree on a line, which also happens a lot around here. PG&E (the power company, for nonlocals) had said "westside Santa Cruz" would have its power back hours later than we really did. Which begs the question of "what do they mean when they say Westside Santa Cruz?" Because sometimes that means everything west of the river, and sometimes that means everything south of Laurel Street, and sometimes it just means everything west of Bay Street. For reasons best known to themselves, the Google maps people have a map that obscures how west and south could be used interchangeably in our town, but the Mapquest map shows you what I mean. Anyway. So we got our power back maybe six hours before we were expecting it.

About thirty years ago it was all the thing to talk about undergrounding power lines, but it never happened here. I guess new modern subdivisions get underground power, but if you've got old-fashioned tarred wood power poles in your neighborhood already, that's what you've got for the foreseeable future. And power outages in high winds.

On another front, I was bitterly displeased to discover I had the horrible cough coming back Thursday so I went to the doctor on Friday morning and got a review of reactive airway -- which is apparently what they're calling my used-to-be idiopathic asthma now -- and doubled prescriptions on my inhalers. Also, it's not an "emergency" inhaler to be used only when I think something terrible is about to happen, but a "short-acting" inhaler I should be using pre-emptively whenever I'm not pleased with the feel of my breathing.

And -- it's working. mainly. I don't see how an inhaler is going to last me a month like this, but I feel like I'm walking around in a redwood forest -- I mean, my airways feel delicious. I still get the cough now and then, but the spooky icky "how can I possibly be getting enough oxygen when I feel like this?" thing is gone.

Unfortunately, it's way too wet to test my stamina in Lost Camp, but we're going to the Hakone Gardens in Saratoga tomorrow, always assuming that Highway 17 is open (or 9, which is a more wretched road but for somereason doesn't seem to slide as much).

pictures from today )
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Perfect winter weather. There's a soft drizzle out there -- last night I think it actually rained a bit -- the sky is bright bright grey, there are dew drops the size of small marbles on the branches of the almond trees, the grass is green and sopping wet. The wet has warmed up the air a bit, so that it's cool enough to wear sweaters and scarves but you honestly wouldn't be too miserable in shorts and sandals and t-shirts (there are people around here, my brother in law being one of them, who will never wear long pants nno matter what day of the year it is: he just wears warmer jackets and longer socks -- with shoes, not sandals -- when the weather gets cold). I regret having lost my gloves, but only just.

I'm finally getting well, by which I mean I don't have uncontrollable coughing fits lasting all evening any more. The wet weather actually makes it easier to breathe. It's only this quality of wet weather that does it, though. Hot humidity makes things worse. I was about to say that wetter weather makes things worse too but we haven't had any wetter than this this season and when I think back to former years I can't honestly say that I've had any breathing issues I could attribute to the weather. But this, this stuff is lovely to breathe -- almost like the whole world is a redwood forest (my easiest place to breathe, fortunately for me, since the redwood forest is seriously walking distance from my house if I felt like it).

What else? I dreamed that the belly-laugh baby's mother had hired me to fly him to Iceland and Australia to meet with child development experts who wanted to observe him because he was a perfect example of something about child development (well, he is), only halfway through the trip I lost our plane tickets and while I was rummaging through a horrible mess of papers I had in a black leather bag we missed our flight and I was going to have to buy new tickets. I was trying to negotiate a discount price because we had used most of the tickets already but I wasn't having much success. I told his mother about the dream and she said "Maybe next time you'll dream about New Zealand and Greenland," which seems as appropriate a response as any.

We went to the farmer's market today but they were closing up early and not everybody was there. We failed to get oranges or tangerines or cabbage. We succeeded in getting orange and white cauliflower, broccoli, onions, garlic, and cucumbers. Also we saw the Bulb Baron, but didn't buy any narcissus this time. I think next time we're down that way -- probably to go to the Aquarium if we can get discount tickets -- we'll take a detour to Carmel Valley and pick some narcissus. $5 for thirty stems, in the field, and you choose what you want! Cool, or what?

I am now officially addicted to Korean television dramas. I am beginning to get the tropes and stereotypes. The contellation of characters almost always includes a spunky, naive, smart, brave and altruistic girl: a spoiled, rich, selfish, awkward boy who learns to be caring and protective because of her example: and a kindly, handsome doctor, who is often a secondary love interest for the girl. But she ends up with the immature jerk, as he matures: the doctor is either married to someone else and thus not ever actually interested in the girl except as a younger-sister kind of friend, or there is a sophisticated young woman who is in love with the doctor and patiently waits for him to realize he can't have the spunky naive girl because she has already fallen in love with the immature boy. There are comedic relief characters -- almost always some female character is forthright about sex in a way that embarrasses some combination of protagonist and second-tier characters, sometimes an older couple who are courting in some bantery way, sometimes a really stupid boy who becomes connected with the sexually silly girl.

However, I have never seen a whole Korean drama front to back because even addicted, I can't pay enough attention to realize when it's time to get my fix!

I gather that it is very, very cold in Prague right now.
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So I already noted that salmon season opened on April 1, which is not an unusual day. The discussion still rages as to how long the season ought to be, and the local paper (the Santa Cruz County Sentinel, frequently referred to as the Senile for good reason) has been munching the story as badly as they can: I do believe that at least unconsciously they're trying to magnify the antagonism between fish conservationists and sport and commercial fishermen. They keep portraying the salmon season closure issue as one of "blaming the fishermen" for the problems of the Klamath River population, which it most definitely is not: the issues are, will a shorter fishing season help the Klamath River population hang in there until the Klamath River is allowed to become healthy again? Is there any point in trying to save the Klamath River population? These issues don't interest the newspaper, though, at least not as much as the prospect of angry salmon fishermen feeling oppressed by the people who are working to preserve the fish they depend on.

On another front, there's a couple in Live Oak who are possibly going to be charged with a crime because they picked a baby harbor seal up off Main Beach and took it home. Main Beach is kind of in the middle of town -- it's where the Boardwalk is and where the San Lorenzo River ends up. It's also a minor nursery spot for harbor seals, which fact is potentially a weapon in dealing with the Boardwalk's appetite for expansion. The baby seal is dead, of course: they're really quite fragile and need to be treated exactly as mommy would treat them, which does in fact include being left on the beach for periods of time while the mommy goes and gets food. What is really galling is that the people tried to keep the volunteer rescuer from finding the baby seal which they had deposited in a crate in their back yard. If they had been idiots who had just picked up the seal pup because they thought it had been abandoned, don't you think they would have welcomed somebody who knew something about keeping the thing alive? And even though they hadn't had it much longer than it takes to drive from Main Beach to their house just out of town, the seal was already visibly faltering when the rescuer picked it up and took it to the Marine Mammal Center. This is pone of those things coastal people should just know.

One last marine life bit: I think I mentioned that amazing numbers of sea otters have been sheltering in Elkhorn Slough during the storms. This is not because the sea otter population is growing, it's because they like to go in the slough and eat fat innkeepers and clams. Fat innkeepers are a kind of inverterbate whose burrows are inhabited by a lot of other species, but I couldn't resist writing "eat fat innkeepers" up there. Now the Coast Guard is investigating an incident where a guy drove his motorboat right through a raft of otters and was caught on video by the Friends of the Sea Otters. No otters seem to have been harmed, though they were visibly alarmed.

On May Day, there's going to be another "Day Without Mexicans." This is kind of an ethnically-defined general strike, which has been done before when the state legislature failed to reinstate drivers' licenses for undocumented residents. The ironic thing about that whole drivers' license thing is that before the Davis administration there were no restrictions on documented status, and the identification requirements to get a license were negligible. The thing that got the Republicans up in arms was a new law that required identification of some sort from the applicant's original country -- that is, a tightening of earlier law, though it was portrayed as a loosening of law. Anyway, the upcoming strike is going to be about the immigration "reform" discussion going on.

If you've seen Time magazine (last week?) you'll have seen the cover blurb: "Who gets to be an American?" But that's not the question at all. There are several questions. One of them is what does globalization mean? NAFTA threw millions of Mexicans off the land as it removed maize protection rules and ConAgra and Archer Daniels Midland and so on could take over the market. Where are these people supposed to go, and what are they supposed to do? They go looking for work. At the same time, in the US, industry, agriculture, and service companies are working to dismantle the protections that US workers have had since the forties -- and a cheap, competent, and disposable workforce suits them fine. But it also suits them fine to have a scapegoat handy, and an excuse to further abrogate civil rights and liberties. The fact that there is an identifiable Mexican look is useful to -- you can unleash the wrath of racists. And you can get these workers' natural allies, who are their natural competitors as well, to see them as "other" and prevent them from noticing that steps taken to isolate and persecute undocumented workers are also steps to disenfranchise them.

However, this cheap workforce, so easily scapegoated and isolated and accustomed to bad wages and working conditions, is also a cohesive group, with fifty years of social and labor organizing experience. When they call a strike, they strike. I'm expecting this to be a really interesting May Day.

For years I've been looking for the housing bubble to burst. I have a vindictive streak and I want the real estate agents, second-home buyers, house flippers, luxury home spec developers, and investors in general to suffer a lot. They've driven housing costs up so much that the shabby little highwater bungalow across the street was put on the market for $780,000 (ours is apparently an "up-and-coming" neighborhood, more's the pity). They've priced the working class out of the county. Well -- there's something happening. Not the dramatic, disastrous crash I would like (I said I was vindictive), but a general slowing down. Asking prices for houses continue to rise but sales have slowed dramatically. Last month, 37 houses were sold in the county (comparing with a couple hundred houses for March in boom years, and I'd be more precise about that if my source was).

It didn't rain much the last couple of days and Wednesday was totally rain free (so I finally got my plants in the ground -- a tall-form rosemary, a culinary sage, and two bachelor's buttons). However what we expect for the forseeable future is more rain. Highway 152 (one of three ways out of the county) has been shut for the duration because a 25-foot chunk of it fell over. More slides on other mountain roads, but not 17, which has been lined with great cement walls on all the scary cuts.

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