Tuesday, 7 June 2022

The Cliffs of Fail

 I am waiting for a delivery by FedEx this morning, having received a good half dozen emails earlier revising the delivery date. I got up worried about this delivery today, as I have a card from the dentist’s office with an appointment for June 7th. Somehow this did not seem right, as I have just had a scheduled cleaning and have a repair booked for later this month. And when I called the office, I was correct in doubting it. So why do I have this card? If it is from last year, why does it say Tuesday? Sigh. The whole dentist scheduling thing has been weird this month. I arrived in the office last week to get the repair done, only to find the appointment booking was not long enough. So, I got a cancellation rescheduling for the next day.

On that day, JG was scheduled for a minor event at the hospital in the morning, and when I thought about it, the timing looked tight, and so I called and cancelled the dentist. Good thing I did, as I waited for JG in the parking lot of the hospital for six hours, and I would not have made the dentist. It turns out that the doctor who was seeing JG does not schedule. He brings his minor procedures in in the morning and does them as time permits between longer procedures. So JG lay on a hard mattress on a gurney all day without any food or drink and I hung out in the parking lot. Luckily I had water, a book and cigarettes enough to sustain me. (Yeah, don’t start, eh.)

We were both tired out for the next few days.

And tired about covers it for most days, lately. JG is not sleeping well (AC would sympathise) and is, consequently, not functioning at top form. I do not have that excuse, but am also more than a bit upset at how my head is behaving. I have had proper name aphasia for a long time, but it is getting worse. This morning I could not come up with ‘account’ as in an account number for billing. And that is some scary. Not only are there holes in the vocab, but the tricks I have always used to bridge the gaps are not working as well as they used to. Leaving me teetering on the edge, to continue the metaphor.

Being ‘old old’ is not a lot of fun. I recall my mother quoting, she said, her uncle as saying that he was as good a man as he ever was, but not for as long at a time. I can’t even say that, these days. The latest insult is that the fine woman who deals with my 80-year-old toenails glared at me at my last appointment and told me I had foot fungus. I am, she instructs, to soak my feet in vinegar and water. According to the aggravating guy to whom I am married, apple cider vinegar is the best kind. He googled it. And, yeah, it is certainly funny that I am now going to be walking around puffing apple cider vinegar scent. But if you were within reach, I would swat you anyway for laughing like a loon.

I just did a grammar and spelling check on this essay, as I figured I could not spell gurney correctly, for one thing. And the stupid, opinionated program told me to put a comma before several of my leading adverbs. Since I would not put a pause in if I were speaking, I do not think I need to put a comma into the written text. Apposition requires the comma, but not a simple leader in colloquial terms. Says I. And I am going to stick to it. We will not get started on the Oxford comma today. I will note, however, that I am not, repeat NOT, indenting my paragraphs. If Blogger does it for me, I am not responsible for its quirks.

I am about to go and look for a graphic to illustrate my stuttering brain. A fun job, in my opinion. And an hour or so later, after a fine playtime, the result heads off this post.

There still has not been a delivery.

As of mid afternoon, the van arrived with my parcel. Cheering.

Thursday, 12 May 2022

Spring is springing


It is late morning here, the sun is shining, the birds are making lots of pretty and not so pretty noises, and it is going to be (pause for amazement here) hot today. Yes, hot. And tomorrow and Saturday are also scheduled to be high summer. Just not quite long enough to kill the black flies. I am sure I have mentioned these fine little guys in other posts, and so will spare you.

There are ten white trillium (trillia?) in the border of the lawn. They are small, compared to some years, but there their brave little white petals are. The deer did not chomp them, as I was afraid might have happened when they showed up late. At the beginning of the week, with the sun, every tree in range took a deep breath and pushed out leaves. I had to drive into town on Monday, and I swear I could see the pale green of new promises getting greener as I drove. And I am pleased to say that both of our oaks on the lawn have a full head of tiny leaflets. I was really worried that the munching caterpillars that denuded them two years in a row might have killed the poor things. But, no, they look as if they will have a full set.

And soon the roar of the grass cutter will resound throughout the neighbourhood. Just about when the dandelions now showing golden heads will be ready to turn white and go poof, spreading many many seeds. Ah well. I guess I will grab my camera and record all this lushness and promise, in case the damn caterpillars show up again. Why cannot they eat dandelions, hmmm?

About the bird noises. We have chickadees calling ‘Hey sweetie?’. We have a most mellifluous rose breasted grosbeak, song sparrows emoting in several locations, and the usual ‘Cronk’ that the ravens utter as they pass. We also have blue jays and they are pretty birds. Until they open their beaks.

And squawk. The closest they come to a musical note is a sort of ‘Doink’ they make, bobbing, when trying to entice a mate. Like the chickadees, both sexes look the same to me, but obviously, given their success, they know the difference. Jays also hop up to one another and offer a seed. I can only wonder which one is the giver and which the recipient.

Edited to add: JG just saw a hummingbird checking out the window where he obviously expected to find a feeder. I am off to boil up some sugar water and, hopefully, search the storage shelves for the feeders I carefully packaged up last fall.

I just took some quick pics, and will post them here. And I leave you with this rather amusing one, captioned as follows.  “I am a lonely little narcissus in a daffodil patch.”

Thursday, 31 March 2022

Here begins the Canterbury Tales.

Whan that Aprille with his shoures soote
The droghte of March hath perced to the roote,
And bathed every veyne in swich licóur
Of which vertú engendred is the flour;
Whan Zephirus eek with his swete breeth
Inspired hath in every holt and heeth
The tendre croppes, and the yonge sonne
Hath in the Ram his halfe cours y-ronne,
And smale foweles maken melodye,
That slepen al the nyght with open ye,
So priketh hem Natúre in hir corages,
Thanne longen folk to goon on pilgrimages,
And palmeres for to seken straunge strondes,
To ferne halwes, kowthe in sondry londes;
And specially, from every shires ende
Of Engelond, to Caunterbury they wende,
The hooly blisful martir for to seke,
That hem hath holpen whan that they were seeke.

We have the small birds making melodies, the chickadees at least, and the goldfinches and a few red wing blackbirds. March, however, was not a dry month. No. And we have a lot of snow not goon yete up here, although the town is pretty bare, bar a few piles from ploughing. 
We were longen to wend - not to a straunge stronde but in fact to the city and the book store - but got stopped short by illness. Oh well, it will all still be there when the Ram has run his full course. 
I love hearing this with the right pronunciation, as I still remember it from a class more than half a century ago. And I love looking at the language and wondering things like how we got from soote and swete to sweet. Do not mutter about umlaut and ablate shifts and all that. I wrote a test on that stuff, passed it and promptly erased it from my memory.
Yes, indeed. Going slightly nuts here. Waiting for the mud to stiffen up and the grader to make our road at least passable.

For those of you who were educated in a less hidebound school than mine, 
      Whan that Aprill with his shoures soote
                  When April with its sweet-smelling showers        
      The droghte of March hath perced to the roote,
                 Has pierced the drought of March to the root,
        And bathed every veyne in swich licour
                 And bathed every vein (of the plants) in such liquid        
    Of which vertu engendred is the flour;
                 By which power the flower is created;
        Whan Zephirus eek with his sweete breeth
                 When the West Wind also with its sweet breath,
        Inspired hath in every holt and heeth
                 In every wood and field has breathed life into
        The tendre croppes, and the yonge sonne
                 The tender new leaves, and the young sun
        Hath in the Ram his half cours yronne,
                 Has run half its course in Aries,
        And smale foweles maken melodye,
                 And small fowls make melody,
         That slepen al the nyght with open ye
                 Those that sleep all the night with open eyes
         (So priketh hem Nature in hir corages),
                 (So Nature incites them in their hearts),
      Thanne longen folk to goon on pilgrimages,
                 Then folk long to go on pilgrimages,
        And palmeres for to seken straunge strondes,
                 And professional pilgrims to seek foreign shores,
       To ferne halwes, kowthe in sondry londes;
                 To distant shrines, known in various lands;
        And specially from every shires ende
                 And specially from every shire's end
      Of Engelond to Caunterbury they wende,
                 Of England to Canterbury they travel,
         The hooly blisful martir for to seke,
                 To seek the holy blessed martyr,
        That hem hath holpen whan that they were seeke.
                 Who helped them when they were sick.

Mind you, soote could also be 'soft', in context. 

Wednesday, 2 March 2022

Thinking about the men of Sodom - Genesis 19.

 A Facebook friend recently posted a discussion of this Bible story. And I sat shaking my head because I had never put the pieces together. So, here is a response.

Sodomy (/ˈsɒdəmi/) or buggery (British English) is generally anal or oral sex between people, or sexual activity between a person and a non-human animal (bestiality), but it may also mean any non-procreative sexual activity. Originally, the term sodomy, which is derived from the story of Sodom and Gomorrah in the Book of Genesis, was commonly restricted to anal sex. Wikipedia

Explanation of Definition from Wikipedia.

Two angels are invited by Lot to take refuge with his family for the night. The men of Sodom surround Lot's house and demand that he bring the messengers out so that they may "know" them (the expression includes sexual connotations). Lot protests that the "messengers" are his guests and offers the Sodomites his virgin daughters instead, but then they threaten to "do worse" with Lot than they would with his guests.

King James Version of Genesis 19

 4 But before they lay down, the men of the city, even the men of Sodom, compassed the house round, both old and young, all the people from every quarter: 5 And they called unto Lot, and said unto him, Where are the men which came in to thee this night? bring them out unto us, that we may know them.

6 And Lot went out at the door unto them, and shut the door after him, 7 And said, I pray you, brethren, do not so wickedly. 8 Behold now, I have two daughters which have not known man; let me, I pray you, bring them out unto you, and do ye to them as is good in your eyes: only unto these men do nothing; for therefore came they under the shadow of my roof.

9 And they said, Stand back. And they said again, This one fellow came in to sojourn, and he will needs be a judge: now will we deal worse with thee, than with them.

 New International Version

 4 Before they had gone to bed, all the men from every part of the city of Sodom—both young and old—surrounded the house. 5 They called to Lot, “Where are the men who came to you tonight? Bring them out to us so that we can have sex with them.”

6 Lot went outside to meet them and shut the door behind him 7 and said, “No, my friends. Don’t do this wicked thing. 8 Look, I have two daughters who have never slept with a man. Let me bring them out to you, and you can do what you like with them. But don’t do anything to these men, for they have come under the protection of my roof.”

9 “Get out of our way,” they replied. “This fellow came here as a foreigner, and now he wants to play the judge! We’ll treat you worse than them.”


More than you ever wanted to know? A lot more than I knew. I do not remember when I learned that the term ‘sodomy’ meant anal sex.  But here’s the weird bit. I did not associate the term with why, in the Bible story of the destruction of Sodom, the action of the men of Sodom was a demand for homosexual activity. Yes, I knew that the term ‘to know’ generally meant sexual activity. But for some reason, I never put the pieces together. Just as a final comment. It amuses me that the men are described as asking for the angels to ‘have sex with them’. But the daughters have never ‘slept with a man’. Euphemism weirdly applied. At least King James is evenly translated.

Wednesday, 16 February 2022

Fifty nine


Fifty nine years ago today was a Saturday and JG and I got married. In the chapel of the university we were both attending, with friends and our parents witnessing. It had taken us a week to arrange, and my mother bought me the dress I am wearing and brought it with her. The hat is a loan from my cousin. The placement of my feet is, um, typical.

A week previous to this event, JG and I were sitting in his apartment on a Sunday morning and I said to him "For two cents I would call my parents and tell them we are getting married next weekend." He handed me two pennies. 

And the rest is history.

Just as a footnote. Our eldest child was born a little over three years after the wedding. JG's mother was happy about that. Probably my mother was, also, but she didn't say so.

Tuesday, 15 February 2022

Confessions of a Bookworm


 This is going to be more than a bit boring. You have been cautioned.

I have a fine new office chair that my nearest and dearest bought me for a Valentine. He wants chocolate, but the local place that makes it will not have his faves for two weeks. So, one way gift. And at present I am sitting in my chair, contemplating books. 

There is a row of books behind my computer, mostly reference books.

There is a set of bookcases to my left, as I sit at my computer desk, full of books and with a row of more books on top. There is a bookcase behind me, full.

There are four bookcases in the basement, ditto. I also have a Kindle, with a fair load of reading material on it, but if I love a book, or want to refer to again after one read, I want a real copy, with pages that I can turn. And so in some cases I have the book in both locations.

 I guess I should also list the bookcase in the living room, although only half the books in it are mine.
The rest are mostly reference. JG has a smaller case in the bedroom to hold some of his mysteries. The rest are in boxes in his closet. Don’t ask. He has several more – bookcases, that is - in the basement TV and his office room, but some of those are mine and I am actually contemplating tossing a few of the books presently in them. There is a whole shelf of travel books, mostly badly outdated. Sad, but I don’t see much more travel in my future. But … wait, someone might enjoy them, outdated or not. Hmm. What to do.

 I hate to get rid of my books.

 In fact, there are three of my childhood ‘Babar’ books in one of the bookcases, plus an extremely battered copy of A Child’s Garden of Verse. And for some years I had my copies of some of the Anne books, plus my aunt’s copies of some of them, making a complete set. I had had them from the time I was a child, having extracted them from my grandparents’ bookshelf. At some point my aunt found this out and wanted her books back, plus she borrowed mine. I think her son still has them, although, sci fi addict that I knew him as, I seriously doubt he has read them. It did not worry me when my aunt took the hardcovers, as my daughters had a complete set in paperback that I could read if I wanted to. Well, they moved out and their copies went with them and I am seriously contemplating getting myself another set. Well, not too seriously. Maybe just my favourites.

 My non fiction hardcovers run from the top left side of the triple bookcase to about half way, loosely sorted Dewey Decimal style, as that is what I learned as a teen, working in a library. Hard cover fiction, sort of in alpha order where the size of book allows it, take over and complete that wall. The containers with labels hold my collection of material and reference stuff from places I have been, a lot of it from Great Britain and the USA, but some African and a bit local. That is a new sorting job, those labels, a thing I did to keep boredom at bay during one of the pandemic lockdowns. There are still several boxes to add to the collection. And one shelf of photobooks.

 The singleton bookcase also holds a lot of photo albums, all my really tall books and trip diaries and journals. The middle shelf of that case is probably the most curated of anything I own, as all the tall books have to go there.

 Some of the books in the reference bookcase in the living room, and on a couple on the reference shelves in here were my mother’s texts. We gave a lot of her really special books to the University of Windsor, where she was a lecturer in English literature. But I kept a few that I knew were ones she loved, a Chaucer edition and some of Dorothy Sayers’ works come to mind. And I have my father’s Nevil Shute novels. How he loved those stories. I, too, love stories.

 There are a few authors whose stories wind from book to book – Gabaldon, Elizabeth Moon, C J Cherryh, to list a few. You can probably spot Cherryh and Gabaldon in the photo.

Gabaldon has one more book in the series planned, but I am not sure where I am going to put it.

 The thing about the bookshelves being full is that if I want to keep a new book, I have to get rid of an old one. This is really, really seriously hard-breathing difficult. Before I get rid of even a battered paperback, I must reread it to make sure I can do without it. Then it sits balanced on the edge of a shelf for a while. If JG is going to an organization he belongs to where there is a book exchange, I can let the books go there. If I can take them to the book exchange at our local landfill or our local hall, I can let them go. I cannot throw a book away. There are even some of my textbooks on my shelves still.

 No, I don’t write on my books, or mostly I don’t. My complete Shakespeare is pretty scribbled up, but it was a text. Nor do I turn down page corners, except in emergencies, such as being stuck in traffic. Um, yes, I have a book in the car, or my Kindle in my purse pretty well every time I go anywhere. JG and I do a Sudoku at breakfast and then read one or both of the two daily papers we take. We get local weekly papers on Wednesday and Thursday. In between, there are the CTV and CBC apps on my iPad. And books on my iPad, mostly manuals but a few story books in case of emergencies. And emergency being a pause in activity where I really, really need to lose myself in a story.

 Stories are my vice, my catnip, my addiction. I reread the really good ones I know about. I tell myself bits of them or work out added strands of them to put myself to sleep at night or comfort myself in 2:00 am wakefulness. I see nature and probably people in terms of things I recall from stories. (That’s a landscape from L M Montgomery. That seems to be a lot like the mess the protagonist got into in Advise and Consent.) There is a lot of modern fiction I have closed the covers on quickly because there is no story line. But I also read non-fiction, maybe one for every two story books. Non-fiction can be engrossing if it teaches, or illuminates or illustrates. I love At Home by Bill Bryson, for instance. And I guess because it can be made into stories.

 I told you, if you have hung in this far, that this would be boring. I am hardly ever bored myself. If you see me standing in a line or sitting waiting for an appointment, if there is not a book in my hand, you can be certain that there is a story playing out in my head. I love my books, and what they give me.

Edit: For AC. This is what the typed version in Word looked like. Note to other readers - this photo is to illustrated something from the comments - I do not know how to paste a photo into a comment form.

Thursday, 3 February 2022

Fifty Shades of Romance

Instead of deciding on one book, our book club went a different route this year. We choose one ‘genre’ per month and each member chooses a book of this type and reports on it. We do a summary at the end of the session and have a whole range of choices to explore. This month, the club worked on the romance novel. It was, for me, a liberal education.

I once had a course on the history of the novel in university. That being the direction of my mind, I went looking for a summary of romance novel writing, and found an interesting essay. Here is the URL, influential-romance-novels, if you would like to see the whole thing. (The list is added at the end of this post). What this essay did, essentially, was trace the history of the romance novel, giving an author and one of the author’s books for each type. The essay’s breadth was intriguing, as were some of the synopses and so I decided to read books from the types listed. 

Although her books are too early for the list, the most influential romance writer of our era is, without argument, Jane Austen. Her Pride and Prejudice is a masterwork, both in language and in plot and suspense, ending in a delicate denouement. Feisty and ineligible female scorns tall, dark and handsome man who, rich and endowed, first despises her and then learns to love her. There is a lot of word play between them. There is a problem with her sister that he resolves, and she learns to love him. So popular, indeed, is this plot that two out of every three (and maybe more, I didn’t count carefully) books in the Influential list retell it. And her works are, of course, regency romances since she wrote them during the Regency period.

I have read all of Georgette Heyer’s regency romances over the years. She uses Austen’s plot with a liberal hand. And a lot of her books are to a theme, cut and paste, written quickly for the money. Although she writes well. But, every once in a while, she turns things around. In what I think is her best book, A Civil Contract, a dowdy and hopelessly outclassed girl loves in silence while the man she adores is in love with her beautiful and volatile friend. But then economic disaster strikes the hero and to save his place in society, the dowdy girl marries him, bringing him a dowry of riches. The story then follows their struggles to adapt to one another and ends with her realization that the companionship of married life is her reward. There is a sister in the story who also ends up happily ever after.

Chugging along through the list, I note that I have probably read a Burchell, I own and have read all of Mary Stewart’s well plotted and described ‘love with a problem’ books, and I screech to a stop at Merrick. Gay and lesbian lovers? Goodness me. Right. I find carefully edited and quite proper lovers. Austen could not have been more correct.

And I am off into the ‘bodice ripper’ list, but am soon distracted by the entrance of Americans, blacks, and more lesbians. Then there is Nora Roberts. Everyone has picked up one of her books somewhere and ended up reading it. More scornful and enchanting heroines. More tall, dark and handsome men. A lot more. She brought potboiling to a science. The list continues with sci fi and sports romance. I skip these. And pick up the black protagonist theme again with Indigo. This is a thoroughly good and interesting book, and most of the sex scenes do have some purpose being there. It also has a lot of good data on the Underground Railroad and how it worked, at least in the first part of the story.

But what is intriguing me is that Fifty Shades of Grey is on the list. I had not read it and have always dismissed it as porn and not worth the bother. But most of the books in this list have had a good reason to be there. And so I decide to skip to Fifty Shades. And I find out that a copy of the book is in the house and has been for a long time. Also all three of the movies. Okay. Now I have to read the thing. And I do. 

And it has a plot, and suspense and is pretty well written. Now the plot is this: feisty and ineligible female falls at the feet of tall, red-haired and handsome man who, rich and endowed, learns to love her. There is a problem with his sister that she resolves and she learns to love him. She also gets pregnant, but after the wedding where Austen would have left her. The retelling from his point of view fills another three books, but I am not sure that there are movies about those books. Not yet, anyway. Mostly the hero and heroine communicate by having sex, kinky or otherwise. But there is a point to the sex. Tall and red-haired has an horrific past and PTSD, and sex is his reassurance and way of communicating. Feisty and plain ugly duckling turns into a swan, and can match him in sex play, thus saving  him from a sad and sterile existence. You can read the book for the mild S and M, but there is characterization, suspense and depth to the story. And a purpose to some, at least, of the sex scenes.

It has been, as my father was fond of quoting, a learning experience. I find myself wondering just what kind of book Jane Austen could write if she had the licence the twenty-first century offers authors. Feisty and lusty heroine …

Sad that we will never know. Or is it?


  • This massively popular book created a huge interest in the “desert romance” trope. The Sheik was clearly a trendsetting romance novel at the time, along with serving as inspiration for the rise of bodice rippers in the 1970s.
  • For almost 100 years, Regency romances have dominated the historical romance market
  • No category of romance was more popular at the time than doctor/nurse pairings (although pilot/stewardess romances might have been a close second
  • Mary Stewart helped define the romantic suspense genre
  • At a time when most lesbian and gay characters in books had tragic endings, Gordon Merrick ignored publishers’ advice and gave his lovers, Charlie and Peter, a happy ending
  • This novel basically invented the “Bodice Ripper” category of romance. It’s also considered to be the first sexually explicit romance, where sex happens on the page.
  • Janet Dailey’s No Quarter Asked signaled a big shift from romance novels being primarily British and European to the rise in American romance novels. This was the first novel set in America by an American.
  • This book stands out for several reasons. The happy ending in a queer novel was still quite unusual for this time. It is also the first known interracial lesbian romance which brings intersectionality to the genre.
  • Entwined Destinies by Rosalind Welles is known as the first romance novel by a Black author to feature Black characters. But Sandra Kitt was the first Black romance author to publish with Harlequin and build a romance writing career with over 25 books.
  • She’s kind of in her own class when it comes to influential romance novels. She didn’t create a new category, genre, or trope within romance. But by writing dependably wonderful romance novels in many categories, she expanded the readership greatly
  • Sweet Starfire is known as the first futuristic romance published by a mainstream publisher.
  • Her Chicago Stars series, starting with this book, brought the idea of sports romance novels into the market.
  • This reversal in class dynamics, the agency of the heroine, and the emphasis on female friendship all represent an influential shift in historical romance.
  • her historical romances have been hugely influential within romance history.
  • Written by a romance fiction scholar, Bet Me challenged the overwhelming norm of romance novel heroines being thin and conventionally attractive.
  • Nalini Singh began writing paranormal romance before the YA novel Twilight made the genre explode in popularity. It also combined science fiction, fantasy, and paranormal elements in new and innovative ways.
  • Irresistible Forces marked the first Black romance novel to hit The New York Times Best Seller list.
  • Jeannie Lin’s debut novel won the Golden Heart award for historical fiction from the Romance Writers of America. Set in Tang Dynasty China, her books show a move away from historical romance taking place in just Europe and America.
  • Some people hate Fifty Shades of Grey or will argue it doesn’t belong in the romance category. But, as evidenced by it selling over 100 million copies, a lot of people love the book too, and its impact on romance novels and the market is apparent.
  • The book is hilarious, sexy, and so romantic. It also marked a turning point for diversity in romance, with an intersectional story combining representation around race, disability, and sex workers with depth and nuance.