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wordweaverlynn on Dreamwidth asked for my top five favourite foods.

I'm going to answer this in two ways - as top five individual foods or ingredients, and as top five prepared foods.

First, the individual food items.

Cheese (Just about any kind), mushrooms, chocolate, strawberries, freshly baked bread

Now, the prepared foods.

1. Chocolate peanut butter ice cream

2. Thai basil fried rice (with chilis, tofu, mushrooms, zucchini, carrots, onions, bok choi, etc.)

3. Lasagne with three cheeses (mozzarella, parmesan, ricotta), spicy tomato and mushroom sauce, spinach and lots of pasta. And herbed garlic bread on the side

4. Curried chicken - I'll take various styles of curry as long as it's nice and hot, with rice, yogourt and a sweet chutney on the side.

5. Any kind of heavy, sweet chocolate torte-like dessert, with a rich buttery cream filling, if it has almonds and strawberries so much the better.

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Carmilla on Dreamwidth asked me: "Top ​five ​most ​memorable ​TV ​episodes?"

I'm going to limit this to continuing series, and not include anthology shows, because I could fill this list twice over just with Twilight Zone episodes and then what would I do with the episodes from The Outer Limits and Masters of Horror and Black Mirror and Alfred Hitchcock Presents?

"Goodbye, Farewell and Amen" - the series finale of M.A.S.H, because I will never forget Hawkeye and the woman on the bus with the crying baby.

"Darmok" - Star Trek: The Next Generation, because it does interesting things with the idea of language, and Patrick Stewart as Picard works it perfectly.

"A Late Delivery from Avalon" - Babylon 5, because Arthurian legends are my thing and this did it oh so very well.

"Insolvent Phantom of Tomorrow" - Orphan Black, because Helena is Helena in all her glory "Did you threaten bebes? You should not threaten bebes." "I got refund."

"Silence in the Library/Forest of the Dead" - Doctor Who, because River Song is dying and the man she loves has no idea who she is.

Bonus TV episode:

"Once More with Feeling" - the musical episode from Buffy the Vampire Slayer, because music and dancing and stuff.

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My friend evil_macaroni from Livejournal asked me to list my "Top ​5 ​non-speaking ​animal ​characters ​in ​movies, ​TV ​or ​books?"

And my answers are:

White Fang and Buck. I mention these two characters in the same breath because they are mirror twins. White Fang, the title character of Jack London's classic novel, travels from the feral circumstance of his birth in the Far North to an old age lived in placid domesticity in the gentle south. Buck, the main character in Call of the Wild by the same author, is stolen from his owner's home in California to become first an Alaskan sled dog and then a wild dog among wolves.

Pixel, the Cat Who Walks through Walls. He does say "blert" a lot, but that doesn't count as talking, does it?

Because they belong together, I'm naming them together - Tao, Luath and Bodger, aka Ch. Boroughcastle Brigadier of Doune, the three animals in The Incredible Journey. I refer of course only to their depictions in the book or the first movie, as I understand some idiot made them talk in the remake.

Shadowfax, the silver horse companion of Gandalf in The Lord of the Rings. Chief of the Mearas, the fastest horse in Middle Earth.

And, because you didn't specify fictional characters, Elsa the Lioness, from the book Born Free, written by Joy Adamson.
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This is a meme going around on Tumblr, where I have a few friends. If it hasn't made it to Dreamwidth yet, it's here now. :)

Ask me for my top five of anything, and I will try to answer. Those who know me well will expect that you might get more than five. Or an essay rather than a list, but that's how I sometimes roll.

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I did not make a book post last week. This is largely because we have had two bad and very smoggy weeks, in which my brain took a long vacation and left me incapable of doing much more than playing solitaire on my ipad.

Fortunately, my brain came home again and i have some reading to report.

Since my last book post, I have finished Katha Pollitt's Pro: Reclaiming Abortion Rights, Margaret Atwood's Second Words: Selected Critical Prose 1960-1982, and Isabel Allende's Ripper. I have also read India Edghill's Queenmaker: A Novel of King David's Queen, Gillian Bradshaw's Island of Ghosts, and Syrie James' The Missing Manuscript of Jane Austen.

At present, I am reading Lavinia Collins' The Warrior Queen, the first volume in her Guinevere trilogy, and Ta-Nehisi Coates' Between the World and Me. And I'm still working on Metzel's The Protest Psychosis, and am also picking away at Stine's Future Eves anthology.

Coming up soon: it's time to start some serious reading of sff published this year, so that I will be prepared to nominate. I have drawn up a list of books I have seen recommended in multiple places - most of which I was planning to read anyway - and will be starting in on the ones I've already got on my virtual TBR pile. I've also got some recommended novellas lined up. I should start looking at recommended novelettes, short stories and graphic novels, too. And related works.

As ever, if you're interested in my thoughts on anything I've read, check out my book journal:
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Well, this was a week in which best-laid schemes really went agley.

I had planned to spend a lot of time reading, but it was a very bad no-good week in terms of health issues, and I was far too full of pain and exhaustion and nasty poisonous smog and other crap that insisted on invading my personal sphere that I could barely read. Instead I spent easily six or more hours a day mucking about on Facebook and playing computer solitaire.

I did, however, finish up Sharon Butala's The Girl in Saskatoon and Anya Seton's The Mistletoe and the Sword.

I'm picking away at a few books - Jonathan Metzel's The Protest Psychosis, Katha Pollitt's Pro: Reclaiming Abortion Rights, Margaret Atwood's Second Words: Selected Critical Prose 1960-1982, and Isabel Allende's Ripper.

Some may note that it's taking me a very long time to read The Protest Psychosis. There's a good reason for that. You see, unlike most of the books I read, my copy of The Protest Psychosis is a real paper book, not an ebook. For the past three or four years, it's been almost impossible for me to read paper books because they are so toxic. But there are books I want to read that I bought before that happened, or that my partner bought for himself (or I bought him for one celebration or another) and I decided I wanted to read, or that do not have an ebook version. So I put them inside plastic bags and read a few paragraphs whenever I am strong enough to hold up a paper book, and not so sick that I can't tolerate the amount of toxin that comes through the plastic. Naturally, it takes me a long time to read a book this way.

By the way, as I finish books, I post my comments about them on my book blog, in case anyone is interested:

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I have a few things to say about the Hugo Awards this year and the sadly rabid puppies who did what puppies do all over them. I know that, as puppies, they will keep on doing what puppies do, because they can and because they are full of the bubbling rage of denied entitlement, so I offer this suggestion. If the puppies really want to put the stories they think have been neglected up for consideration against all the other award-nominated works, don't load up a voting slate with crap that ranges from mediocre to barely readable. Because for this year's Hugo's, that's what they did, with few exceptions - most of whom pointedly disavowed themselves from the puppy kennel by declining their nominations.

If puppydom really wants to make a statement about what it thinks speculative fiction should be, then they should lead with their best. Nominate - as individuals, not as a slate - the very best of what they like in science fiction and fantasy. Honour original ideas, good writing, strong characterisation, tight plotting. Because nominating material that is merely competent, or worse, is not the way to showcase the kinds of fiction one loves.

Seriously. I read all the Hugo-nominated works in the fiction categories this year. And rejected the puppy offerings as not worthy of an award, a rejection based on merit, not genre or content. There was a lot of bad to mediocre writing there. There were some competent and interesting pieces, and one or two things that suggested real potential. But nothing that demonstrated the level of skill that merits a
Hugo. And that had nothing to do with the kinds of stories being told, some of which I enjoyed despite the quality of the work.

If indeed there are great works out there being overlooked or ignored, then next year, when we look at nominations for the best works of speculative fiction, let's see the best of all of speculative fiction's many faces, including the genres beloved by the puppies - because work that's good will be recognised for what it is. It doesn't need a slate to support it. And if the Hugo voters as a whole decide that no, the quality expected in a Hugo winner isn't there in the puppies' choices - then if puppies want awards for the stories they like to read, they should demand that kind of quality from the writers of the kinds of fiction they prefer. Whining that they are being shut out purely because they are puppies doesn't cut it.

And that brings me to another point. Not everything that one enjoys is award-worthy. I love Mercedes Lackey's writing, she pushes buttons for me that few others do. But I don't think her work is Hugo or Nebula or World Fantasy Award calibre. And that's all right. Maybe your most favourite authors will never win an award - because they are competent writers who know how to tell a story that you and others think is lots of fun to read, but are not trying to challenge you, or blow your mind, or take you somewhere you've never been before. Writers who lack the special something - originality, skill, perspective, vision, depth, power, insight, whatever - that lifts a book beyond the competent and entertaining. There's nothing wrong with that. Not every book can or should be an inspiration to other novelists, an example of the best a genre can produce.

In the long run, if we take them (or at least some of them) at their word and believe that this fuss is all about neglected kinds of stories and not that they just aren't comfortable with stories that challenge assumptions and decentre privileged viewpoints, then surely the gap between us is not as huge or as unbridgeable as they seem think it is.

Take me as an example. I've been a fan for going on fifty-five years. I read the old and the new with pleasure. I grew up on Heinlein and Asimov and Clarke and all the same folks they did. I read widely in the field now, as I always did. Space opera, military science fiction, planetary romance, sword and sorcery, urban fantasy - I read and enjoy these as much as I enjoy more philosophical, sociological and politically themed speculative fiction. I read for fun as much as I read for challenge and enlightenment. I accept that certain kinds of stories - urban fantasy and milsf, for example - are less likely to be found on the nomination lists for many reasons, some of which are inherent to the nature of those kinds of stories. But that doesn't mean I've stopped reading these kinds of stories, both new and old.

(I'll also note that when works that do draw on the motifs and themes of those "neglected" neglected kinds of stories do get awards, puppies claim they are tainted by the "message" of the work or the "intersectional politics" of the author. John Scalzi and Ann Leckie have won awards with books that sure read like space opera and milsf to me.)

But there is something else that's true of me that may not be true of some puppies. As the years have
gone by, my tastes in reading have grown and diversified. I still enjoy the things I used to, but I enjoy more kinds of things than I did then. The field of speculative fiction has changed, and grown, found new stories to tell and new viewpoints to tell them from. But the traditional kinds of stories are still around, still being written, and shock of shocks, I can read and enjoy them both.

Unfortunately, I'm afraid that there is more to this than a desire to restore certain kinds of stories to their traditional place nearer the mainstream of speculative fiction. Reading the pronouncements and conversations on various blogs, full of puppy paranoia, it's hard not to come to the conclusion that the puppies are frightened and confused by speculative fiction that takes the defining question of the genre - what if? - and puts it in the words of people who do not have the same experiences and perspectives that they do. It was fine to ask what-if when the asker was white, American or occasionally British, preferably male, unquestionably cis and straight and binary, and espoused good American values or at least some approximation thereof. Certainly, there have always been those who spoke from outside that narrow vision, asked the questions no one with those forms of privilege would ask. But mostly, in the beginning of the genre, they were not loud or visible or numerous enough to be disturbing. But as more and more "other/ed" voices began to ask what-if, and to challenge all the accepted viewpoints from which what-if had been asked before - well, that's when some people started to find it scary.

And that, unfortunately, is a gap that may be harder to bridge, the gap between those who can only imagine limited sorts of new worlds, in which they can remain the same as they ever were, and those who are willing to go further and question everything, even their own vision of themselves.

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So.... Have been gorging on crime thrillers. In the past week, I have read Lesley Thomson's The Detective's Daughter, Tana French's In the Woods, Vad McDermid's A Place of Execution, Kathy Reich's Speaking in Bones, Annelie Wendeberg's Holmesian mystery The Devil's Grin, and Yrsa Sigurdardotir's Someone To Watch over Me. Branching out into horror, I also read Sarah Pinborough's The Taken.

And I finished Gretchen Grezina's Black London: Before Emancipation.

Currently reading Sharon Butala's true crime narrative/memoir The Girl on Saskatoon, about the murder of Alexandria Wiwcharuk on 1962. This has a certain amount of personal resonance for me because I was living in Saskatoon at the time of the murder.

I'm also reading Anya Seton's The Mistletoe and the Sword, a sort of young-adultish historical novel set in Roman Britain at the time of the Iceni Rebellion. Not a major work, like the books she's perhaps most famous for, Green Darkness and Katherine, but quite enjoyable. A bit reminiscent of Rosemary Sutcliff's The Eagle of the Ninth.

Having read a lot of anthologies during my Hugo reading month, I seem to have set Future Eves: Classic Science Fiction about Women by Women, edited by Jean Marie Stine, aside for now. I'll come back to it later.

I plan to spend the rest of August reading the same sorts of undemanding sorts of things - thrillers, historical fiction, maybe some light horror. In September, I plan to start paying serious attention to the novels published so far this year that I suspect may be potential Hugo nominees. I have a supporting membership and I plan to use it.

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I've been thinking maybe I ought to do this, if for no other reason than to give me something to post about every week. Of course, if you follow my book journal, you already know what I've read, but not what I'm reading or planning to read next, so this should not be too boring for you.

So... I finished my massive re-read of Marion Zimmer Bradley's Darkover post-Contact novels, including the ones written by others after her death. The last ones were The Alton Gift and Children of Kings, by Deborah J. Ross. I'm going to wait a while before tackling a re-read of the pre-contact novels - will likely take that on ad we get nearer to the publication of Ross' next Darkover novel, Thunderlord, a sequel to Bradley's Stormqueen.

And I finished Elizabeth Bear's Range of Ghosts, the first of her Asian/Mongol/Silk Road inspired The Eternal Sky trilogy. I'd actually started it some time ago, but put it aside to do the Hugo nominations reading thing, and then picked it up again once i got through that. A very good read, with some wonderful female characters.

Because I have been reading a lot of sf and fantasy in the past two months, I'm feeling a need to shift genres. I took a glance over the several hundred books on my TBR list and picked out some crime/suspense/thriller books to look at, and maybe some Tudorporn. My first selection was Kathy Reichs' recent murder in the mountains novella, Bones on Ice, which was fun, and also one of the better things she's written lately.

I'm currently reading crime thriller The Detective's Daughter, by Lesley Thomson - a new author to me, and one who has received sone good reviews. I'm not quite as engaged as I'd hoped to be - the author's frequent and totally unmarked switches of POV are a bit disorienting, though part of me is wondering if perhaps this is a case where shifts that were indicated typographically in the printed text in sone way that has not carried over to the ebook. It's not the first time I've seen that happen.

I'm also partway through Future Eves: Classic Science Fiction about Women by Women, edited by Jean
Marie Stine, which features short stories from the early pulps, most of them totally new to me.

Also reading two non-fiction books. Black London: Life before Emancipation, by Gertrude Gerzina, and The Protest Psychosis: How Schizophrenia Became a Black Disease, by Jonathan Metzl. The titles speak for themselves.

Up next? In fiction, probably some more crime thrillers. I have unread books by Nicci French, Maureen Jennings, Kathy Reichs, Yrsa Sigurdardottir, Laurie R. King, Sujatta Massey, Tess Gerritsen, Jennifer McMahon, just to mention authors I'm already familiar with, plus some selections from new authors (to me) to try out, including Tana French and Val MCDermid. Also, I need to finish Bear's trilogy.

In non-fiction, I want to read Ta-Nehisi Coates's new book, Between ​the ​World ​and ​Me. Also, there are relatively new books by Laurie Penny, Barbara Ehrenreich and Naomi Klein that I've been meaning to get around to. Plus the several hundred other unread books on the ipad. Time will tell which I pick up next.
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In the wake of the Bernie Sanders Seattle appearance incident, I've seen a lot of white folks on the Net lecturing black folks on how misguided their criticism of Sanders is, because he marched with MLK and he's a good guy who wants justice and equality for all and they should be happy to work with him because he's far more an ally to them than all the other politicians running. And the hard thing for them to understand is that while all they say about Sanders is true, it's not relevant in the way they think it should be.

Which got me to thinking about one of the most insidious aspects of white privilege - insidious because it's primarily found among white people who are honestly trying to be allies, to work for social justice and equality, to fight the good fight.

And that insidious aspect is that we white liberals start thinking that we're doing all this work, all this fighting, "for" other people, and that we deserve something in return - gratitude, a pat on the back, a bit of slack when we backslide, some acknowledgement of what we're doing.

I totally get that. Sometimes I feel that way myself. And then, because I'm a white woman who is therefore lacking privilege on that axis (and a few others, but let's not get complicated here), and have known men who want some kind of acknowledgement for what they think of as their efforts on my behalf, I get myself out of that space of white fragility pretty damn quickly.

Because there's no way I am going to - or should be expected to - thank a man for not raping me, for not harassing me, for not limiting the work I can do, for not thinking he owns me or has some kind of natural rights to my emotional work or sexuality or submission and service, for not doing any of those things that demean, devalue, or limit me as a woman. There is no reason why I should have to be grateful to another human being for treating me, and others like me, as human beings. You don't get accolades for the basic social requirement of not being a total jerk.

It's easy to understand why white people (and indeed anyone in a position of privilege who is working to be an ally and bring about social justice) feel they deserve something in return. It's hard work, coming to understand your own privilege, rooting out all the institutionalized racism we imbibed with the very air we breathed as children. It's difficult, challenging yourself, your friends, your family, your community, your government. And we live in a society where things we define as work - even if they are things that are enjoyable, or personally rewarding, or obviously the right thing to do, receive a return. We are paid for the work we do for employers or clients, and if we do a particularly good job, we expect bonuses or promotions or raises or repeat business. If we do community or church work, we expect to be recognised for it. We want the acknowledgement of our peers for our generosity, our charity, our kindness, for the things we do for others.

But there are kinds of work we don't expect praise or perks or payment for. No one is going to reward us for keeping our house clean, for washing our dirty socks and underwear. We do these things for ourselves, because a house with shit on the floor is not a great place to live, because clean underwear feels better than crusty underwear. We do these things because they are part of the basic life functions we engage in for ourselves.

And that is what white liberals sometimes don't realise, or remember. We aren't engaging in social justice action "for" other people, like a white knight or lady bountiful, we are not saviours who deserve cheers and special considerations - we are doing it because not to do it would be to fail at the basics of being a human being.

There is no reason why anyone should be grateful when I treat them like human beings, because that is the bare minimum to be expected of one human being in relation with another. And there is no reason why I should get a break when I fail to respect the humanity of others, just because there have been times when I didn't fail. It's my own responsibility to behave like a human being, and my own reward when I get it right is knowing that I did.

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So I've been feeling pretty sick this past week - kind of par for the course - but I think I'm going to try to get out to the living room tonight and catch up on some TV viewing. Lately I've been watching the British SF show Humans, and enjoying it immensely, but last night was the last episode of that. I'm also watching Rizzoli and Isles, Killjoys, and (sporadically, and i'm quite a bit behind) The Lost Ship, and I'm working my way through Sense8.

What shows are other people watching and enjoying this summer? Anything new and good that I might have missed hearing about?

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In the past year or two, I've become accustomed to posting on Facebook rather than here. It's easier - or at least, I perceive it as easier. On Facebook, all I need do is post a few lines, or a link to an article or picture I want to share. But there's something about a blog that seems to demand a greater degree of involvement with the text, and I often lack the energy for that. Maintaining my book journal seems to take everything I have.

And then there's the fact that really, not much happens to me except that things get more painful and more difficult to achieve. On Facebook, I mostly post articles dealing with current affairs - issues I feel strongly about. But I'm usually too tired to write extensively and coherently about those issues.

So perhaps I'll just blather on about my odd thoughts, as I'm doing now, and perhaps that will justify my keeping this journal active.
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Yes, I am still alive. As anyone who follows my book journal (bibliogramma on Dreamwidth) as well probably knows. But in increasingly more difficult circumstances. Health still sucks, life is pain, finances remain tenuous as I look into the future, etc.

But I am so far finding ways to keep going. Books help a lot. So do various mindless computer games. Anything that takes me away from my body a little bit.

I find myself sort of resurfacing after two years of not really communicating much. I don't know if this is simply due to some weird holiday season euphoria, or if I'm moving into a longer-term phase of reconnection with the world via this electronic medium. But there is some possibility that I may start posting stuff again from time to time.

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The Better: My application for Long-term Disability benefits through my employer's insurance has been approved. So, I now will be getting about 60% of my former monthly salary. While I am happy to be getting this, still... why is it assumed that it is cheaper to be a person with disabilities than to be a person without disabilities? My mortgage doesn't go down by one-third, food isn't cheaper, I don't see anyone offering me one-third off my utilities or taxes. So... the big thing now is to figure out how to find the rest of the money we need each month to cover our basic living costs.

The Worse: Thanks to a horrible itching cough that is now almost constant, and which may be a permanent side-effect of the medication I'm taking for my heart arrhythmia, and my body's decision that peeing every two to three hours is the coolest thing every (for those who wonder, I've been tested for diabetes, blood sugar is just fine), I am now unable to sleep for more than an hour or so at a time before either my bladder or my cough wakes me up. And then my cough keeps me from going back to sleep for several hours. Getting less than six hours of sleep a day, in one-hour fragments, is not conducive to much of anything.

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So fucking tired.

My body's latest plan to torment me consists of not letting me sleep. Persistent dry cough that either keeps me from falling asleep or wakes me up soon after I fall asleep. Plus a very overactive bladder that wakes me up far too soon on those rare occasions that I do manage to sleep through the coughing. At least some of this is, I believe, due to the meds I'm on - or possibly due to going off one of them.

Today I actually managed to accumulate seven hours of sleep - haven't gotten that much sleep in at least a week. Almost feel human.

I am so fucking tired these days that I am not really able to keep up with posting here. I read journals, and comment, but most days it seems like such a mountain to climb just to marshall my thoughts in order to post.

For anyone who actually might be interested in occasional updates, I am thinking of trying to post a sentence or two now and again on FaceBook. I'm Morgan Dhu on FB too, if you are there and want to connect with me.

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Or, why I finally decided to watch The Help and what I thought of it.

I had originally thought that I would not bother watching The Help. I'd read enough reviews to think that the whole thing was pretty problematic in terms of the framing of the generally unvoiced lives of black women within a story about a white woman finding her voice and getting a cool job.

But then I watched the Oscars - one of my little vices - and realised from her speech how proud Oscar winner Octavia Spencer was of her work in the film, and decided to honour her and the other black actors in the cast who had chosen to devote their talents to this less-than-ideal vehicle.

And I am glad that i did, because Spencer, and Oscar nominee Viola Davis did very good work in this film. And it is a film about women's lives and thus passed the Bechdel test with flying colours, always a good thing.

But I still would rather have watched these fine actors in a film about black women working as domestics in the southern US during the early days of the civil rights movement, and their relationships with the white women they worked for and the white children they cared for, without the framing story about a white woman's aspirations.

Not that we don't need more films about women of all races, situations and backgrounds following their dreams and succeeding, because we do. But to frame the story of black women with a story about a white woman who gives them voice, catalyses their actions... nah, we don't need any more of that.

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I learn via [personal profile] oursin that today is World Book day, and that there is a meme questionnaire going around as a celebration of the day.

The books I'm reading: Alison Weir, Innocent Traitor; Suzie Bright, Big Sex, Little Death: A Memoir; Stacy Schiff, Cleopatra: A Life; Charles R. Saunders, Imaro: The Naama War; Helen Merrick, The Secret Feminist Cabal: A cultural History of Science Fiction Feminisms; Gwyneth Jones, Deconstructing the Starships: Science, Fiction and Reality; and I'm re-reading Emma by Jane Austen.

The book I love the most. This is a silly question. There are hundreds of books I love the most, depending on my mood and circumstance.

The last book I received as a gift: My beloved partner gave me a package of out-of-print (and one very expensive when new) books I have wanted to own that he found on various used book hunting sites. These included: Gwyneth Jones, North Wind; Gwyneth Jones, Phoenix Cafe; Eleanor Arnason, To the Resurrection Station; Diana Paxson, Brisingamen; Maureen McHugh, Mission Child; Jody Scott, I. Vampire; John M. Ford, The Dragon Waiting ; Patrick McCormack, The Last Companion; Patrick McCormack, The White Phantom; Ellen Galford, Queendom Come; and Joanne Findon, A Woman's Words: Emer and Female Speech in the Ulster Cycle.

The last book I gave as a gift: Christmas presents for my partner: Modesty Blaise: Death In Slow Motion, Modesty Blaise: The Double Agent, Modesty Blaise: Million Dollar Game, Piracy: The Intellectual Property Wars from Gutenberg to Gates, The History of Hell, Delusions Of Gender: How Our Minds, Society, and Neurosexism Create Difference, The Crowded Universe: The Race to Find Life Beyond Earth, Crazy Like Us: The Globalization of the American Psyche and The Protest Psychosis: How Schizophrenia Became a Black Disease.

The nearest book: My e-reader is right beside me, and it contains approximately 100 ebooks I am reading or want to read. The nearest physical books are Charles R. Saunders, Imaro: The Naama War and Helen Merrick, The Secret Feminist Cabal: A Cultural History of Science Fiction Feminisms.
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So, the last time I posted, I told y'all about how much my life sucked.

It still sucks. Only much more so.

My general state of health continued to deteriorate during the summer and fall, and between all the things that are wrong with me, like the joint pain and the increasingly intolerable edema and other stuff (which I will address in another post, because it's too complicated to put here), it was kind of getting obvious to both me and my employers that I really just was no longer able to perform my work in a satisfactory fashion. Not so much a quality dip, as not being able to spend enough time sitting up at a computer to actually do my work on time.

So we started taking about the company's Long-term disability plan (LTD) and how because my health conditions are not exactly the normal kind of stuff it's not certain I would qualify but my employers assured me they would to be as supportive as they could be once I reached the point where I simply could not longer work at all.

So that day has finally come. Friday was my last day of work. Now I'm on medical leave for four months until I've waited out the qualifying period for LTD, and then I get to apply and wait and see if they will pay me benefits. But of course, benefits don't come anywhere near covering household expenses. I can also apply for Canada Pension Plan Disability benefits (CPP-D) - which, again, I may not qualify for because my medical situation is so weird - but not before six months have passed.

Even if I do manage to qualify for both, I will still be almost $1,000 a month short of what's needed to pay all the bills (mortgage, taxes, utilities, insurance, food) each month. But... I can't give up the house, because no rental situation is going to give me an environment that is free of toxic stuff and thus safe for me to live in. Any apartment we rent would share walls with other people and their perfumes and stuff would seep in and leave me in a situation that I'm not sure I could tolerate for the full length of time it would take for all that crap to kill me. I mean, we bought this house in the first place because I was getting so very sick from breathing other people's laundry exhaust, soap, perfume, air-fresheners, and so on.

So that sucks. Assuming all goes well and I do qualify for the LTD and the CPP-D, where do I get another grand a month? We have no debt except for the mortgage, so I can't reduce expenses by consolidating debt. We may be able to switch to a variable mortgage, which might lower the interest a bit. Not only am I pretty much not able to work, but the few things I could do - if I tried to do any of them, I would immediately become ineligible for both the LTD and the CPP-D. My partner is my full-time caregiver, he can't work either because he can't leave me alone.

So I really don't know at all how we're going to survive this. There are no relatives who would be realistically able to help (I have no relatives, period, and my partner's relatives are few and in difficult circumstances themselves, for the most part).

So... We're basically fucked. There's enough in savings and inheritance to carry us through the qualifying period (when I am not getting any money from anywhere), and what's left over will carry us through several more years (four or five, depending on various possibilities) IF I qualify for both LTD and CPP-D, and maybe one year if I don't. After that... things look bleak. Really, really bleak.

If anyone has some bright and original ideas, they would be welcome. Just...

Budgeting is not a solution. All we spend money on now, aside from the aforesaid mortgage, taxes, utilities and insurance, is food (which, because one of us has major food sensitivities and neither of us can tolerate chemicals, dyes, preservatives, etc, in our food, pretty much has to be what it is), household necessities (toilet paper, washing soda...) and books. Clothes when the old ones wear out. Replacing things that are broken or dead (we just bought a new TV because the old one is losing its ability to show images that are decipherable in any way whatsoever). We never go out, not even to see a movie. So please don't talk about cutting out non-essentials. We are by nature non-consumers. We don't buy shit we can do without anyway.

But anything else? I would love to hear any creative ideas or sources of funding that might apply to someone living in Toronto, Canada. Because any thought you have might just save my life.
morgan_dhu: (Default)

For those interested in the short version of what's been happening for the past couple of years, it find of goes like this:

I got sick, which involved a bed-rest of several months, during which I discovered an addictive MMO called Travian, which I played intensively, being sick and bored and in great need of diversion. I got better but my mobility didn't, so I kept playing, when I wasn't working. I started running out of spoons for anything except basic living and holding onto my job. This lasted a year or so.

Fast forward to the beginning of this year. My father-in-law was diagnosed with inoperable lung cancer. Then I developed a very bad case of shingles which still has not wholly cleared up. Then my niece developed a severe form of auto-immune anemia which did not respond to standard treatment and she almost died, but managed to pull through but only with chemotherapy and immunosuppressants, which have kind of put a wrench in her ability to conduct a normal life. Then my father-in-law died. Then my mother died - intestate, and in another province. I, as sole heir, have a whole lot of bureaucracy to deal with which is made ten times more difficult by the fact that my mobility issues are now such that I cannot travel to where she was living to handle any of the estate settlement issues in person.

I am not really bothering to comment on my emotional response to any of this, nor on my current emotional state. Y'all can probably make accurate guesses anyway.

So that's where things are right now.

Having broken the ice, I will probably continue posting now and again. But don't expect too much. It's hard to find free spoons around here these days.

In Memoriam

Jun. 1st, 2009 05:13 pm
morgan_dhu: (Default)

David Gunn, March 10, 1993, Pensakola Florida
George Patterson, August 21, 1993, Mobile, Alabama
John Britton, June 29, 1994, Pensacola, Florida
James Barrett, June 29, 1994, Pensacola, Florida
Shannon Lowney, December 30, 1994, Brookline, Massachusetts
Lee Ann Nichols, December 30, 1994, Brookline, Massachusetts
Robert Sanderson, January 29, 1998, Birmingham, Alabama
Barnett Slepian, October 23, 1998, Amherst, New York
Steven Rogers, July 16, 2001, Melbourne, Australia
George Tiller, May 31, 2009, Witchita, Kansas

These women and men were murdered by anti-abortion terrorists because they offered, supported and defended reproductive choice. In addition, there have been over a dozen attempted murders, hundreds of assaults and hundreds of arsons, bombings and major acts of vandalism, primarily in the U.S., but also in Canada and Australia. In the face of these acts of terror, the people who continue to provide abortion services, and those who protect them, their clients, and their offices and clinics are nothing short of heroes.

Lest the sacrifice of those who have died and the courage and dedication of those who continue to face the threat of violence in order to provide this necessary medical service be in vain…

Support reproductive choice.
The decision to have an abortion is a personal decision between client and doctor.
The state has no place in the uteri of the nation.

May 2017

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