Runner beans

Jul. 21st, 2017 07:34 pm
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[personal profile] watervole
 I only used to eat runner beans when cooked, but many years ago now, I observed my mother-in-law's tortoise eating raw runner beans with great enthusiasm.   So I tried one and found that I liked it.

Oswin does too.  Really likes them.  Can eat several in a day.

Today, she was eating a slice of cake.  Grandad came in with fresh supply of runner beans from the allotment and gave her half of a runner bean.

She took it with great delight, ate it at once, and only then went back to the cake.

I love a three year old who appreciates allotment veg!

Reading: Every Heart A Doorway

Jul. 20th, 2017 07:40 pm
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[personal profile] white_hart
Seanan McGuire's Hugo-nominated novella Every Heart a Doorway is a school story with a twist: it's set in a boarding school specifically catering to young people who have visited the kind of other worlds familiar to readers of portal fantasy novels and who are struggling to adapt to real life on their return (most of the students at the school in this book long to return to their fantasy worlds, though we are told that there is a sister institution catering for those who need help to forget their more traumatic travels). Disbelieving parents send their children to the school hoping that they will receive therapy and recover from their breakdowns, but instead the school supports its students in understanding and integrating their experiences while still allowing them to hope that they will find their doors again one day.

The story mainly follows Nancy, who has returned from a sojourn in the Halls of the Dead with a preternaturally developed ability to stand still and a penchant for dressing in gauzy black and white clothing, to the distress of her parents who want their old daughter back. Shortly after Nancy's arrival at the school the first in a series of gruesome murders occurs; suspicion falls on Nancy, as a new girl and one whose world was a underworld, and she and a small group of other students have to work together to discover who the real murderer is. The murder mystery plot is really only a Macguffin, though (and I thought it was quite obvious from very early on who the murderer was); the book is really an exploration of identity and belonging, as the students try to deal with having found and lost worlds where they felt that they belonged much more than they ever had at home (each student went to a different world, uniquely suited to that individual). It's easy to see Nancy's parents' rejection of the changes in their daughter as parallelling more conventional rejections by parents' of their children's developing tastes and views. Identity politics writ larger also feature; Nancy explicitly identifies as asexual, while one of the friends she makes is a trans boy who was expelled from the fairyland he travelled to when he was discovered to be a prince and not the princess they thought he was.

Some of the reviews I'd read online had made me worry that this was going to be preachy, or at least a bit cringily identity-politics-by-numbers, but in fact I didn't find it that way at all; it was interesting, sensitive and thoughtful. I wasn't completely convinced by the way the murder plot was resolved, which seemed to owe rather more to the conventions of the students' fantasy worlds than to the real world in which the story takes place, but generally I really enjoyed the book and can absolutely see why it has won and been nominated for so many awards.

Reading: The Saltmarsh Murders

Jul. 19th, 2017 07:41 pm
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[personal profile] white_hart
I picked up Gladys Mitchell's The Saltmarsh Murders in the Oxfam bookshop, because I'm always interested to try new-to-me 1930s detective stories, and grabbed it off the top of my to-read pile last week when I was looking for an easy read to follow To Lie With Lions.

The Saltmarsh Murders is the fourth of 66 detective novels featuring Mrs Beatrice Lestrange Bradley, psychiatrist and amateur sleuth. In this novel, she turns her attention to the death of a young woman who has recently given birth to an illegitimate baby (and the disappearance of the baby) in the South Coast village of Saltmarsh, where she was paying a visit when the murder was discovered. She is aided in this by Noel Wells, the slightly dim curate of the village. Noel also narrates the novel in a first-person style which clearly owes a lot to Wodehouse, who he mentions being a fan of.

I wasn't sure the Bertie Wooster-esque narrative was a natural choice for a detective novel, and Noel is a very sloppy narrator, with events coming out of sequence in a way that made it quite hard to follow the plot at times. The book also features a black character and contains the kind of period-typical attitudes to and language about race that are pretty hard for a modern reader to stomach, as well as some period-typical attitudes to class and a couple of incidences of painfully rendered yokel accents. Most of the characters felt very two-dimensional, with the only one who really took on any life at all being the village madwoman, Mrs Gatty, and I didn't actually find the mystery plot particularly compelling. I don't think I'll be seeking out any more of Mitchell's books (although I think I might have at least one more that I bought as a Kindle bargain years ago...).

A Hugo recommendation for next year

Jul. 18th, 2017 05:29 pm
filkerdave: (science fiction)
[personal profile] filkerdave

The truly wonderful What Football Will be Like in 17776 has finished so now's a great time to sit down and read it.

It's a lovely little SF piece. Be warned that you'll need to watch videos and animations as well as reading text. It's worth it, though.

Hay-fever

Jul. 17th, 2017 09:15 pm
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[personal profile] flick
My mother had hay-fever when she was younger, and it went away entirely when she was pregnant with my sister.

My sister has always had really horribly terrible hay-fever, and childhood eczema, and dust allergies.

When my mother was pregnant with me, her hay-fever came back.

I've never had hay-fever, or indeed any allergy in my life.

We've always put the whole thing down to some sort of pregnancy / immune system weirdness. However....

I've been sneezing for the last four or five days, and feel otherwise fine. Bah! I guess it's caught up with me at last.
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[personal profile] filkerdave

It turns out that there's no Music AH for Worldcon 75.

I mean, on one level, I'm not shedding any tears over screwups with the convention after they booted me (and the way it was done). But on the other hand, my friends are going to miss out on a lot of the activity they enjoy at the convention because there's nobody put it together.

Complicated feelings.

(no subject)

Jul. 16th, 2017 11:41 am
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[personal profile] white_hart
I am assuming, from the amount of anxiety I'm currently feeling about who the new Doctor will be, that I am generally not as OK as I would like to think I am.

Wibbleage )

How embarassing!

Jul. 15th, 2017 08:51 pm
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[personal profile] flick
I just went to vote for the Hugos, and the only category where I had any strong opinion was Best Series (which I'm still not entirely sure I agree with as a concept anyway) and maybe BDP:SF.

I don't think I've read any of the fiction other than one novel that I bounced off. I've seen one of BDP:LF, and half of BDP-SF but couldn't tell you which episode was which. While I do think that Chuck Tingle deserves some Fan Writer kudos I'm not sure I want to rank him top in the category....

Oops. Am obviously a Bad Fan!

Reading: To Lie With Lions

Jul. 15th, 2017 11:09 am
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[personal profile] white_hart
The sixth of Dorothy Dunnett's House of Niccolò books brings to a conclusion the phase of Nicholas's life sparked by the devastating events of the ending of Scales of Gold. In many ways it felt as though this and The Unicorn Hunt were two halves of one very long book rather than two separate instalments of the series, which I think probably partly explains why I felt that The Unicorn Hunt's plot seemed to meander rather if it was mainly setup for the next book. I feel similarly about The Disorderly Knights and Pawn in Frankincense in the Lymond series, and although the ending of To Lie With Lions isn't quite as cataclysmic as the end of Pawn in Frankincense, or indeed Scales of Gold, it leaves Nicholas in a similar place to Lymond at the end of that book; isolated, friendless and being taken to an unknown destination.

The centrepiece of this book is Nicholas's voyage to Iceland, culminating in a haunting, nightmarish winter journey across country in the face of an imminent volcanic eruption, and a subsequent description of the eruption itself, which are definitely up with the Sahara journey in Scales of Gold and the winter journey in Russia in The Ringed Castle among the most amazing of Dunnett's descriptive passages. The novel then gathers pace and ramps up the tension towards the dénouement, which does the typical Dunnett thing of shining a new light on so many things and radically changing the reader's understanding of both Nicholas's and other characters' natures and motivations, and even if I had guessed the identity of "Egidius", the third Vatachino partner (mostly because Pat McIntosh's Gilbert Cunningham mysteries include a character with the same first name and nickname as the "Egidius" in Dunnett's books, almost certainly as a tribute to Dunnett) there were still plenty of surprises among the revelations.

Only two more to go, although then I'm sure that both the Lymond and Niccolò books would benefit from a re-read; there's so much in them that only makes sense once you have got to the end. Also, I have just bought a secondhand copy of King Hereafter, as it isn't available for Kindle. Though right now I think I need to read something a lot less emotionally demanding for a while.

Multi-tasking

Jul. 15th, 2017 11:20 am
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[personal profile] flick
This morning, I pruned the wisteria, which (despite, or possibly as a result of, not getting to flower) has grown very vigorously this year.

This had the added advantage of providing Jo with a bijou snackette (once she figured out how to unwrap it) and, I very much hope, stopping expectant-mama-pigeon from waking me up at 4:30 every morning from now on.

Awkward to the end...

Jul. 14th, 2017 10:41 pm
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[personal profile] flick
It's very common to have a horse who spends his working life wearing shoes and then has them taken off for his retirement, on account of them not being needed when all he's doing is wandering around in a field.

GB's been happily barefoot for a decade, but today the farrier said that now he's not working we need to think about putting shoes on him for the two hundred yard walk up and down the hill each day to the summer pasture. It is true that his feet were a state, but I was thoroughly expecting to be told not to be silly when I mentioned shoes....

What I'll probably do is put booties on him, morning and evening, just for the walk. I ordered a set this afternoon, and they'll probably arrive before we go away for The Bloody Wedding so that I can check that they fit / he doesn't object too much before the sitters have to deal with him.

When we first took his shoes off, I bought him some ferociously expensive booties, which he hated with a passion. Now that he's had no shoes for so long, they don't fit him any more, so they've gone back in the box. Hopefully he won't complain too much about the new ones...

How long is 28 days ?

Jul. 13th, 2017 02:41 pm
[personal profile] ms_cataclysm
On 12 June , Mum was referred to NHS continuing care to see if her care needs warranted her being funded by the NHS. Supposedly the review and decision have to take place within 28 days.

I have chased and no date has been set for the review yet. The contact centre couldn't even tell me how long the wait might be. And the school holidays are just starting.

Noticed that the local NHS website doesn't even mention the 28 day time limit or the requirement to backdate payments if it is not met for no good reason.

Despite Mum's complex and severe care needs, we don't know if she will qualify because they have to be "unpredictable" too . We know that she hits the top ratings on the first two but the third is where people come unstuck.

I have now read 300 + pages of NHS guidelines on the subject .

Because Mum's care is very good, it's easy to forget how difficult things can get if any small thing does not happen in the right way at the right time and with the right person.

Leavin' on a jet plane

Jul. 12th, 2017 12:46 pm
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[personal profile] filkerdave

I'm off to the wilds of Jackson, WY!

Working remotely until the end of the month so I can spend time with my girlfriend (who lives there).

Mixed feelings

Jul. 11th, 2017 02:59 pm
filkerdave: (h2g2)
[personal profile] filkerdave

I just wrote a check, filled out a ballot, and sent in my vote for the 2019 Worldcon site selection. On one level it's good. I mean, I'm a Friend of the Dublin in 2019 bid, and they're the only bid so they're likely to win. I'm hoping that'll mean I just have a membership when they win.

But...

I'm doing this by mail. I'm not going to be in Helsinki to cast my ballot in person.

Blah.

Rain!

Jul. 11th, 2017 05:49 pm
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[personal profile] flick
It's raining! And the forecast is for it to keep doing so all night! (Maybe now the fertiliser that Mr Farmer put on the field the other week will actually get washed into the ground: radical concept!)

The swallows have fledged their chicks. We suspect that the wrens have as well, but they vanished fairly quickly. The swallows, on the other hand, are still around and learning how to fly: we keep walking into stables to be met by confused birds trying to avoid flying into us.

I'm a wee bit worried about Esk, who seems to be having some difficulties in the egg department: she keeps laying wonky ones, and a couple of days ago she produced two in one afternoon, the second with a rather squidgy shell that Jo was very pleased to receive. Mind you, that was the same day when we found one that Agnes had laid actually in the pond, so, y'know....

This afternoon, I had my first private session with my new Pilates instructor. I'm rather tired now. I think it'll work out, though: I've booked another session!

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