mme_hardy: White rose (Default)
This is all introspection; feel free to skip.

It's been ten years (or more) since I formally described myself as disabled; left my job, applied for SSDI. Most of that time I spent in a fog, courtesy of Lyrica. (Don't get me wrong: it was good for pain, but bad for brain.)

All my life since 1983, I defined myself by expertise. I was a technical writer. A wife, a mother, but above all a writer. I understood what engineers *meant* and I turned it into what users wanted to *do*.

I was really fucking good at it. Seriously. People were amazed. Consistently from 1983 to somewhere in the 2010s. I could talk to brilliant people, then interpret what they were saying to less-brilliant (but still smart) people. Something just broke. Something, in particular, meaning my brain. I joked for a lot of the 2000s that I was ripe for a breakdown. And then I broke down.

And there it was. I couldn't do the job I had defined myself as being. I had a chronic pain condition, and the drugs that I needed to take to manage that condition made me ever-so-slightly unable to do the job.

Here's the thing. I loved software, and software people, passionately. My best friends had been software people since the 1970s. We spoke a common tongue. When, in the early 1990s, I was severed from the software community (parenthood, man) I felt isolated and misunderstood.

And then I left the community. And when I surfaced and regained, say, 80% of my brain, I wasn't remotely tempted to do the same work for free. You want me to learn CSS? Ruby on Rails? Haskell? Pay me. I don't do that shit for free.

So. Here I am, poised. I miss my past life -- the acknowledged expertise, the money, the friends -- passionately. But I have come to realize that I'm not that woman any more.

I know who I was. Who I was for my entire life.

'Tis well an old age is out. 'Tis time to begin a new.
mme_hardy: White rose (Default)
My mother and mother-in-law live in progressive retirement communities. The idea is that you start out in a space that is entirely your own -- my mother lives in a semi-detached house, my MIL in an apartment -- and then when you become unable to live on your own, you move to "assisted living", where you're in a smaller apartment, one or maybe two rooms, and are checked on regularly and eat in the cafeteria, and if (God forbid) dementia comes up, you move into the dementia area.

I saw all of these at my mother's home when my father died, and I can report that all of these zones are bright and clean. In the dementia areas, there are many thoughtful touches to remind people of their lives, flight cages of birds, and a piano and record player for singalongs. If you're going to be demented*, it looks like the way to go. The medical health care wing, where my father died, is considerably more depressing.
cut for length )
mme_hardy: White rose (Default)
I first heard about the book when it came out. It sounded (A) horribly twee and (B) unrealistically (for my household) minimalist. I know my house will never, ever, at its highest and best, have no objects lying around. It's not how I live. I like having books out in the places I read them, I like having handwork visible, I like having lots of implements on the kitchen countertops. I find interiors with objects visible and in use welcoming and safe.

Then the show came out. My daughter asked me if I wanted to watch the show with her, and I said, no, that would start a guiltstorm. Then came the twitterstorm about OH GOD MY BOOKS (also my initial reaction to the book) and then the counter-twitterstorm about YOU ARE BEING RACIST AND ANTI-JAPANESE-CULTURE. Then, and this was the important part, people I respected started tweeting about their experiences, and they sounded like sensible reasonable people whose lives had gotten better. Unlike, say, Flylady, they didn't sound cultist, and the experience didn't sound based on gendered expectations. My online acquaintances were saying "Wow, I tried this, and I felt better." My online friends squealed "And she's so nice!"

So I started thinking about my life, and about what made me feel joy. One of the earliest things I realized that my browser window full of tabs was based on guilt: "I really need to get around to reading this." I closed three-quarters of my browser windows, butting them down to stuff I was actually reading. I felt fine. The few tabs I missed, I re-Googled.

That was a pretty nifty experience. Then, yesterday, I got up all my gumption and had my son dump all the clothes in the pile of baskets at the foot of the bed (guilt!) on to the bed. Then I scooped a bushel basket's worth onto the floor, sat and sorted, and repeated the process. I didn't say thank-you to the house, or to the objects, because that felt extremely unlike me. I didn't carefully fold the objects, because I wanted to get the bed sleepable-in enough by evening. In short, I took what worked for me and ignored what didn't.

And you know what? "Am I enjoying this?" was, for me, a much easier and much less depressing way to approach the sorting process than "Do I really need this?" "Is this making me happy?" doesn't trigger the waves of guilt and shame. Fun is the only thing clothing can't buy.

My daughter tucked up in the bed and kept me company. At my request, she put the show on and read the subtitles aloud. Guess what? Kondo really is that nice. She greets mountainous piles of stuff with glee and assures the participants she's happy to have something to do. She doesn't judge; she doesn't shame. She respects the objects the families want to keep. One Japanese-American wife is an avid collector of Christmas objects and has them everywhere in the house. Kondo asks what Christmas means to the wife, and she tells a lovely story about the warmth of her childhood and how special a time she has always tried to make it. And then Kondo helps her figure out a way to keep all her Christmas stuff so she can easily find it when she wants it.

Another fabulous thing about the show is that, unlike other reality shows (Queer Eye, and just about any quick-makeover show), time is shown to elapse. There are constant intertitles "One week later", "Two weeks later"; the Japanese-American couple went up to six weeks. Nobody's pretending this is anything other than a process, and the couples are frank about its sometimes being an exhausting process. I appreciate the truth about that.

So far I've watched two episodes, and then I was done for the day, and the clothes were sorted! A total of six Tall Kitchen trashbags are out of the house. I did two, realized I'd made a mistake, and sorted my two to-go bags into stuff that was mine, versus stuff that was my husband's. I had been feeling bad about making decisions for him, but I also knew that he went into guilt spirals. Then I continued and wound up with four bags for me and two for the husband.

So instead of being the sneaky "This just disappears and you'll never miss it" wife, which felt grody, I created bags containing outgrown clothes, advertising T-shirts, and T-shirts for companies husband had hated working for. When he got home, I told him what I'd done, and he said he'd review them. Then, at bedtime, I said "You can review these if you want, but if you'd like, you can just trust me and I will just dump these." He thought it over and said he would like me to just dump them. So I got stuff that wasn't making my husband happy out of the house, and I didn't try to sneak out anything.

Here are some reasons this system might not work for you.

1. Not having the energy, emotional or physical, to deal with all the stuff at once. Looking at all your clothing/kitchenware/books at once can be incredibly demoralizing, and often you won't have the oomph to process big piles.
2. Not being in a financial position to say "If I really miss this, I'll just buy it again."
3. Not being in a place in your life where "finding joy" is meaningful.
4. Just flat-out not wanting to deal with this problem in your life right now.

So. This might work for you. It might not. I genuinely had fun and was happier by evening than I had been at morning. I look forward to tackling my fabric stash. You know what? There's a lot of guilt in there, too.

P.S. I took another step past guilt. Most of the clothes I was discarding were worn out. (My local donation stores haven't accepted clothes donations for months, and word-of-mouth is that Kondo has made the situation much, much worse.) I put all of the discard bags in the trash. I could have done the perfect thing and re-re-sorted the bags into "good enough for women's shelters" vs "trash", but I gave myself permission not to let the perfect way stand between me and the good-enough way. I am still shocked by doing it, so if this is a thing you find offensive, please don't tell me.

P.P.S. If you decide to watch the show, start with the second episode. The husband in the first episode is kind of a jerk.
mme_hardy: White rose (Default)
here.

I'd have to Google to confirm my suspicions on some of these; I don't know if you're formally allowed to research. My guesses on What? 2 and 8 were absolutely right.

Other things I do know:
8:4 (very easy)
12:8, 12:9
15:2 (terrible boat, ask [personal profile] legionseagle), 15:4
16:6 (pretty sure; definitely know the source)
17:5

Know the source, would have to research the answer:
2:3, 2:6
7:10

Which ones do you know? Give the question, but not the answer. Reveal your solutions tomorrow!
mme_hardy: White rose (Default)
From a Peter Morwood Tumblr post, comparing British and American WWII food rationing.

(transcript of picture)
The British adult ration for a week in 1951, after the war, was:
4 oz. bacon or ham
2 oz. butter
2-8 oz. cheese
4 oz. margarine
2-4 oz. "cooking fat" (lard? suet?)
2-3 pints milk
8 oz sugar
1 lb. preserves spread over (har!) two months
2 oz. tea
1 egg if available
3 oz. sweets

The Sunday roast is impossible at this ration, which would have been a severe hardship to spread over a week. Meatless is easily doable in 2010, but I don't know how I'd cook with that little fat. I also wonder what the bulk of the diet would have been. Potatoes? Bread? (this is postwar, when flour/bread was no longer rationed.) Were any cooking oils available?

I'd also kill for a hambone, or neck bone, or something to flavor beans and so on.
mme_hardy: White rose (Default)
This is courtesy of sara.

Length )
mme_hardy: White rose (Default)
Warning: deaths

8:07 a.m.: “They're trapped.”

A fallen tree blocked Hoffman Road, Concow’s main escape route. It trapped a state fire crew and 20 residents.

McKenzie radioed instructions for the fleeing villagers to seek the relative safety of a park. Out of desperation, some plunged into a creek feeding the Concow Reservoir. A fire captain and his crew deployed their emergency shelters to shield civilians as the heat blast rolled in. “We might have injuries,” a firefighter radioed, and an advance call went out for medics.

When it passed, firefighters radioed they were coming out with three people who had burns over half their bodies. A 90-year-old man was pulled from the water with hypothermia. At least eight people were killed.
mme_hardy: White rose (Default)
My brother and I have been uneasy about my mom's driving.

Yesterday she was driving -- at her insistence -- 500 miles from her house to my brother's house. She had a tire blowout, scraped the wall, and got safely to a gas station.

She was utterly confused at the gas station. She couldn't find her money, her driver's license, or her credit card. A kindly passer-by (thank Heaven for him!) took her under his wing, checked her into a hotel for a night and paid for it, because Mom couldn't find her money. The next day he called my brother, then drove my Mom in his own car to meet my brother half-way between them.

Matt has to have the "don't drive on interstates" conversation with her, which he's tried multiple times with no success. This time he's ready to bring out the big guns and say "you're risking other people's lives, you are risking the inheritances of your children*, you are risking your own retirement."

He's also buying Mom a flip-phone because she can no longer manage her iPhone.

I need to get Mom to do cognitive testing, because she sounds very much like she's cognitively in the same place Dad was last fall. This isn't surprising, because she's 87 and has just lost her life partner. It is, however, shocking, as it must be.

* Note: We don't give a damn about the inheritances and have told Mom multiple times that she should use the money on herself. However, because she does give a damn, it's leverage, and we will damn well use it.
mme_hardy: White rose (Default)
Two more quotes from A Conspiracy of Whispers.

First, from the climactic showdown. Wallis is the spymaster who sent Olivia to what was supposed to be her death. Our hero Galen speaks first.

"You know the root word for altus, don't you?"
"Of course. Feed. Altered to be mindless predators," Wallis scoffed. You couldn't even get that right."

"That might be the Syn interpretation." Galen dryly realized how all of Olivia's prejudices had formed. He shook his head. "The root could be feed, or it could be fodder, those to be thrown to a cause. Antiquated, perhaps, but the root word for caricae is treasure."

Elsewhere, Galen and Olivia's first kiss.

And oh, after it all, how she needed to be kissed like this. A kiss like a wall, stopping her thoughts. A kiss like a wolf, snapping up her breath. A kiss like stone, anchoring her in. A kiss like sunlight, chasing shadows and warming places so long in the cold.
mme_hardy: White rose (Default)
Ada Harper, A Conspiracy of Whispers
spoilers, NSFW text, mention of rape threats )

I have tried not to be real-world gender-essentialist in this writeup. Please let me know if I have phrasing that excludes people with non-binary or other genders. I'll edit.
mme_hardy: White rose (Default)
AO3: MadameHardy

Dear Writer,

Thank you so much!

I'm going to give some suggestions, but here's the tl;dr: Wonderful things happen when people write the fic they always wanted to see but never got. Write the fic you've always wanted to read. The one this fandom needs. The one that is completely off the wall. The one whose tropes put an evil grin on your face. The one you're too embarrassed to admit you want. The one that's set in an abandoned asteroid, or the 1920s, or inside a music box. That fic. If you want to write it, I want to read it. Set yourself free: sonnets, ballads, ergodic, or just plain prose. Slash, femslash, het, poly, and gen are all great.

I have the following squicks: bathroom stuff, omorashi, forced feeding, prolonged embarrassment, emotional abuse, sex with kids under 15, rape*, vore, explicitly described torture. Avoid those, and I'll be happy.

* I love dubcon where all parties involved are secretly having a great time. "I didn't plan to do this, but...."

My likes?

  • Melodrama. I love big sweeping gestures. If it could happen in an 18th or 19th century Gothick novel or play, I'm happy. Bring on the giant falling helmets! Masked balls that reveal deadly secrets! Buckle those swashes, whisper those dark secrets, fight those duels, explore those passages, faint attractively on conveniently-placed chaises longues.
  • Domesticity. Contrariwise, I also love quiet, settled happiness. People smiling at each other over their books. People making jam. People eating jam. People dealing with Tragic Jam-Exploding incidents. Okay, it isn't all about jam. It's about deep, trusting affection, with no whirlpools or cliffs.
  • Banter. If the characters are trading barbs instead of advancing the plot, then the barbs are the plot and I'm good with that. By far my favorite Shakespeare is Much Ado About Nothing.
  • Long-term bitter enemies as reluctant lovers (or sexual partners), marriages of convenience, girls cross-dressing to have adventures, swordfights, deep friendships that aren't sexual, intellectual anger vs physical attraction.
  • Historical AUs, nerding out on details to your heart's delight.
  • Detailed descriptions of food, etiquette, clothing, surroundings, either real or imagined.


On to the fandoms! Remember, all prompts are optional.

A Civil Contract - Georgette Heyer
No characters in tagset

This is, I think, the saddest of Heyer's Regencies, if you don't count Waterloo as being sad. It's also searingly emotionally realistic. This Heyer heroine isn't beautiful, or witty, or the belle of the ball. This Heyer hero isn't in love with her. The marriage comes to work, not because they are handsome and brilliant, but because she is depthlessly kind and considerate. You're free to write any character(s); this next bit is an optional prompt. I would love it if you took a look at Lord and Lady Lynton after the novel, in their quiet life in the country. Be domestic, if you like; bring in Mr (now Alderman, I think??) Chawleigh if you want; send them to London to do some shopping or tie up a family loose end, if you prefer. Show me a life of contentment created against extreme odds.

Persuasion - Jane Austen
Admiral Croft (Persuasion)
Sophia Croft

This is the most autumnal of Austen's works; I love it dearly for its honesty and risk. In P&P, you know Elizabeth and Darcy are going to wind up together; in Persuasion, there's a hint that Anne and Captain Harville have missed their chance. But that's not why I've called you here today! If you've matched on this, I'll bet we admire the same passage.

But by coolly giving the reins a better direction herself, they happily passed the danger; and by once afterwards judiciously putting out her hand, they neither fell into a rut, nor ran foul of a dung-cart; and Anne, with some amusement at their style of driving, which she imagined no bad representation of the general guidance of their affairs, found herself safely deposited by them at the cottage.

Tell me about the general guidance of their affairs. Tell me about a marriage based on deep mutual respect and affection. Show me a settled, happy marriage, or show me how they met, or show me Sophia Croft being indomitable on a warship in a big storm.

Mumintroll | Moomins Series - Tove Jansson
Mumintrollet | Moomintroll
Snorkfröken | The Snork Maiden

There is a stillness in the Moomintroll books I've loved since childhood. Back then, I saw myself in the Snork Maiden; now it's Moominmamma, with her jams and her patience. Feel free to draw on the comics as well as the books, if you've read them. Tell me about Moomintroll and the Snork Maiden having a small adventure, dramatic, domestic, or surprising, together. I don't have prompts for you; for this one, write the story you'd love to read and I'll be happy.

For this particular request, please, no sexual activity. Romance is fine.

Raffles - E. W. Hornung
A. J. Raffles (Raffles - E. W. Hornung)
Bunny Manders (Raffles - E. W. Hornung)

The fandom that slashes itself. Raffles is a gentleman criminal. Bunny Manders is his (somewhat dim) best friend. They fight commit crime! I love this fandom because of the Thrill of High Life combined with the panache of Raffles's character. Send them to a party together, or let them discover a body, or share a smooch. Or, and I emphasize this, anything you'd love to read. Go for it. Gen and slash are both A-OK.

Quick fandom: Voynich Manuscript (Book)

If we matched on this one, let us exchange the secret handshake of weird nerds. (pause) So, there's this big glob of a manuscript. It's been around since the 1400s. It's written, definitely. And drawn. On parchment. What's it all about? What's it written in? Is it even written in anything? Was it just a way to con money out of Holy Roman Emperor Rudolph II?

I will be dumbfounded if anybody makes a convincing interpretation of the Voynich in my lifetime. I don't expect you to be convincing: focus on the fun. Possibilities: An incident in the manuscript's history before Athanasius Kircher got it, or in any of the other gaps in its travels. A William and Elizebeth Friedman RPF, in which they decrypt the manuscript, only to discover that it contains secrets that must be suppressed for the good of humanity. An alchemist discovers a recipe for a panacea ... or that's what she thinks. Aliens discover a post-apocalyptic Earth, with one mysteriously-surviving artifact, the Voynich, and extrapolate our lost society from it.

Here's the Beinecke museum, which owns it, page on the Manuscript; at the bottom there's a link to all the individual pages. You'll only need to look at a few pages to get the general gist, but don't blame me if you spend a few hours! (Okay, blame me.)

I hope you have a joyous Yuletide, have fun writing, and that the gift you yourself receive is wonderful.

(Edited 10/20 to remove one fandom).
mme_hardy: White rose (Default)
Trying to sort through the tagset and remember what you want to come back to?  There is now a fantastic browser app that does it for you.

https://tagset2018.firebaseapp.com/

 You can also set its search to only return fandoms with letters.  WOW.
mme_hardy: White rose (Default)
It turns out that in Indiana you cannot transfer a jointly-owned car merely by producing the death certificate. No. You have to probate the estate and have it issue Letters Testamentary. Note that my father's estate did not need probate before, because my mother was the surviving widow and all the financial stuff and personal property had been set up to pass to her automatically.  [personal profile] violetisblue  assures me that the probate process, followed by getting the Bureau of Motor Vehicles to recognize this process, is as much fun as you'd expect. I think I can cut out the Indiana BMV because the California DMV said they'd recognize the transfer with just a Letter Testamentary.

DOUBLE ARGH.

My husband notes that when his father died in North Carolina, my mother-in-law had to get her car title reissued before she could drive the car.

I have no idea why this happens. (I AM NOT A LAWYER) In the U.S. a car is not real property; it is personal property.
mme_hardy: White rose (Default)
To begin with, my mother and father owned a car in Indiana. My father died. My mother gave the car to my son, and we had it shipped to California.

I wound up mailing the papers back to Mom, because she hadn't signed all the things she needed to sign. Out of an abundance of caution, I checked both the California and Indiana motor vehicle websites. I then printed out an Indiana bill of sale, an Indiana odometer statement, all the appropriate California forms including an explanation from my mother of her husband's death and her transfer of ownership to my son, and sent them to Indiana with SIGN HERE flags and highlighting. When I got the forms back from Mom, we got the car's VIN verified and a smog inspection. We showed up at the Department of Motor Vehicles with an appointment we'd gotten a month in advance. I checked every single document against the California checklist before we started the car engine. I was prepared.

Clerk: Do you have the Testamentary Letter?
Me: What?
Clerk: If this were a California car, you could transfer a jointly-owned title with just the death certificate. But because it's an out-of-state car, we need a Testamentary Letter from the estate. If there wasn't any probate, you'll have to get your mother to have Indiana issue her a new title on this car with just her name on it.
Me: ...

So we are now in a fascinating situation. My mother signed over the car title to my son. You do this by filling out a form on the back of the title. You can only do this once. The next time you transfer the title, you need to get a brand-new title. This means that my son can't sign it back to my mother.

By Indiana law, my son currently (signed title, Bill of Sale) owns this car.
By California law, my mother and deceased father currently do.

To get an Indiana title in my son's name, he'd have to show up in person, with a proof of Indiana residency, and register (a separate process) the vehicle in Indiana.

I have no idea how my mother is going to get a new title, given that the physical title has been irrevocably signed over to my son. I also have no idea how she's going to get a new title without paying Indiana registration fees for a car that will never again reside in Indiana.

Monday I will do some research and call the Indiana BMV (Bureau of Motor Vehicles) to find out what we do next. I assume my son's going to have to sign some sort of document that we then mail, with the old title, to my mother to take to the BMV.

Argh.
mme_hardy: White rose (Default)
It is over 100 degrees, and I can't stay in the air-conditioned room because it is bright and I have a migraine.

Nevertheless, I persisted. My husband, who's going to England for a high-school reunion, has a rental car set up. Furthermore, I snagged him a room in a Victorian-era B&B in Horley that is steps away from a pub whose building dates to 1450. The pub claims to be the second-oldest in the UK dating to the 9th century, but I figure if it went back that far they'd be touting their entry in the Domesday Book.

Anyway, it's just the sort of pub he enjoys, with an inglenook and everything. I wish I could come, but another year we'll go, just the two of us. And that's sorted, so nothing to worry about.
mme_hardy: White rose (Default)
It's a very healthy tree; they only had the "deluxe" size in stock, and it's about four feet high including pot. It has a nice thick stem, is covered in green fruit; the fruit it dropped in transit are wonderfully perfumy. I will transplant it into a bigger pot this weekend according to the instructions.

Hurray!
mme_hardy: White rose (Default)
The nurseries I cherish in my area have all gone out of business. There's now only one that isn't part of a chain; I never bothered with them when the three other nurseries I favored were alive. For two years I have been trying to get the survivor to order a moderately-obscure citrus, the "chinotto" or myrtle-leaved sour orange. Inevitably by the time I got back, they'd have lost the order. And I mean completely lost, leafing through all the pages and no record of my existence. Sunday, the fourth (at least) time I asked, the desk employee took all my details and promised to have the owner call me Monday.

Today they called me and said, sorry, that plant isn't available, try again next fall.

So I did a desperation Google. As usual, I found lots of plants that couldn't legally be shipped to California (citrus quarantine). Then I found a link to the wholesale grower I'd told the local nursery sometimes stocked chinotto.

The wholesale grower had it currently in stock, and it turned out that they don't have a minimum order. I ordered it directly from them. I am a great deal less than impressed.
mme_hardy: (angry)
A message just showed up in my inbox headed "An email from your father". For a moment, my heart leapt: maybe my dad left some sort of "if I die" delayed letter?

Then I checked the FROM: line and it was Cards Against Humanity. It was an ad saying "Your dad says he wants you to buy this expansion."

That was a stab in the heart I didn't need. I've written them a strong letter explaining just how dumb that idea was. Imagine if your father was an abusive stalker, or had abandoned the family. If you were searching for your father, or for your birthparents, or a thousand other things.

Cute.
mme_hardy: White rose (Default)
The BBC has just done a miniseries, "A Very British Scandal" -- surely this title has been used before? -- about the Thorpe Affair. I first found out about this scandal when [personal profile] legionseagle mentioned it in passing. Hugh Grant as Thorpe, Ben Whishaw as Norman Scott.

Note for people who haven't Wikipedia'd it yet -- Thorpe had an affair with male model Norman Scott in the 1960s. By the 1970s Thorpe was a prominent member of the Liberal Party, and desperately wanted Scott's story quashed. Crime ensued
mme_hardy: White rose (Default)
  • The concept of "foreplay" having to be created and propagandized. "No, you don't just stick it in. Really."
  • Any woman who said "no" on any occasion being ipso facto frigid.
  • The cult of the simultaneous orgasm, a.k.a. "You fake it, I'm through."

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mme_hardy: White rose (Default)
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