strangecharm: (Default)
2015-03-26 08:56 am
Entry tags:

Everything Is Awful and I’m Not Okay: questions to ask before giving up

This isn't a perfect list for me (no single attempt is going to work for everyone), but it's a pretty good start.
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2015-03-24 07:56 pm
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I made not-perfect but perfectly-serviceable hollandaise sauce and had it with spinach and toast and more eggs. I am well impressed with myself for how it turned out, considering I'd never even (as far as I can remember...) separated an egg before. This is something I remember my mom always hating on the rare occasions she has to do it, which had put me off bothering to try, but I got my three egg yolks with no problem at all. Perhaps just beginner's luck, or maybe it's just another of the differences between U.S. and UK eggs. But even if so, the recipe made more sauce than I need so it'll be a little while before I need to worry about this again.
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2015-03-20 01:41 pm
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Spaceship Earth

This week, what with its aurora and its solar eclipse, has been awesome for me because at times like this everyone else gets as excited about space as I am all the time.
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2015-03-19 07:07 pm


The weather has been so nice this afternoon that I'm wearing a sleeveless dress and sandals.

With a hoodie. But I wear hoodies all summer anyway.
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2015-03-18 09:20 pm
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My sore throat (sinusitis again, argh) wanted me to eat mashed potatoes tonight. But I don't really like potatoes (as the fact that I have more piling up from my veg box than I thought I did!), so to make them more enticing I added garlic, cheese and apples.

Yum. So good. I will do this again.
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2015-03-17 06:16 pm
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Mom's tried to call a couple of times when I was asleep or out, so I haven't talked to her yet but I've got an e-mail. Here's what she says about the glories of Hawaii:
It was great over there.  We kept saying it was hard to believe we were there.  The flight is long and you only get water,pop, pretzels or peanuts once.  So we did have crackers and I tried to buy water before we got on the plane.
From that description, I find it hard to believe they were there, too!

I'm gonna call her in a minute, but I just don't know if I can yet handle the deluge of information about the ghastly-sounding Pearl Harbor Experience, the bound-to-be-racist luau they'll have gone to, and a detailed report on the clothes Mom wore while she was there, which she will call "outfits."
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2015-03-14 01:43 pm

Until you shine

I crawled into bed and woke Andrew up, which is just as well as I didn't want him to wake up to see me upset -- I'd been crying, out of sheer overwhelm and pain that words weren't adequate to express.

He spent a long time giving me cuddles and trying to make me feel better...and, in the process, make himself feel better because he so hates to see me weepy and miserable that it's almost impossible for him to overcome that. So desperate to fix what can't be fixed, he can get distraught

Eventually he, face buried in my pillow next to me and arms tight around me, said "I just want to envelope* you in loves until you shine with lovedness."

It was heart-meltingly sweet and I loved the image but I told him I wasn't sure what that meant. (In emotional situations, his vocabulary can get a little surreal in the endearing way of people just learning a language.) He said he didn't know either but we agreed it clearly meant a good thing.

* Not envelop. Envelope.
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2015-03-13 08:50 pm
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The good news is, maybe the anti-depressants are finally working on me after all?

The bad news is, the only evidence I have for this is that I've accidentally stopped taking them and I have felt unusually shitty all week.

I can only hope these two facts are related. It'd be the easiest fix for this problem, and I really want to fix it.
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2015-03-13 06:59 am
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Further observations on another day out with the white cane:

1. People stare at you in a way that screams, even to me who isn't great at reading facial expressions, "No need to pretend politely not to stare if it's a blind person you're staring at!"

A little part of me wants to yell "I can see you!" But it's more fun when they all think that I can't. It's like overhearing conversations people think I can't hear because I've got headphones on, apparently never guessing that it's not some young persons' hippity-hoppity music but only ever an audiobook or a Radio 4 podcast playing into them.

2. People really stare at you if they see you suddenly stop walking, take your phone out of your bag, and let the cane dangle from its cord on your wrist as you reply to the text you just got. As if blind people, what, can't use mobile phones? Don't have friends to text them?

That happened to me a couple of times yesterday; funniest thing I'd seen in a long time.
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2015-03-12 08:53 pm

"A man is not dead while his name is still spoken."

James rang me up this afternoon to read this to me. It is perfect.
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2015-03-10 02:49 pm
Entry tags:

White cane

Initial results of going outside with new white cane: most amusing.

So, I needed to go to the pound shop and Asda anyway, and I figured I might as well take the cane (a shorter one, for your partially-signted rather than blind person) out for a spin too. I'll be getting proper training on how to use it eventually, but the woman from the council's sensory team left me with one today, for which I'm glad, so I can muddle along with it on my own in the meantime.

I hope to write more later how I got it and the similar fun this morning entailed, but I want to write this before I forget, and then I need to eat something.

So, more detailed results follow.

Seconds before someone nearly walked into me: like, 2. Someone was walking down my road reading paperwork and had just about gotten in front of my house when I left it.

People still happy to walk right into me: most of them. Which, 1) I completely expected, and 2) the trained-not-to-stand-out part of me found endearingly familiar, almost glad in a way that I wasn't getting any special treatment.

Patronizing middle-aged northern blokes: 1. He was telling me to cross at a crossing where I'd just pushed the button. I think he was either trying to reassure me or justify to himself why he wanted to cross before the little green man appeared. I wish he'd have just left me alone -- it's a bastard of a crossing anyway (Mathews Lane/Stockport Road), because it's not busy but you've got to wait a long time for the lights to change, so pedestrians are always walking in front of people trying to turn off Stockport Road, and I am almost always happier waiting even if I do feel silly when I'm standing in front of a currently-empty road.

Suddenly helpful people in the inaccessibly all-automated-tills Asda: 2. I told them both I was doing fine but one hovered nearby anyway, and it meant I didn't mind so much that I was taking my time and scanning my four things very slowly.
strangecharm: (Default)
2015-03-07 10:37 am
Entry tags:

A thing I've learned about myself lately

I'm seriously starting to count "talking about immigration or related issues on the internet" as a self-care failure, as bad as forgetting my meds or not eating properly when it comes to the effect it has on my well-being.
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2015-03-01 01:07 am

Building a better solar system

Of course I'm fond of the one I grew up‎ with, but that's no reason to leave it that way forever!

I remember the poster of the solar system I had on my bedroom door as a kid, with all the planets' vital statistics -- diameter, orbital period, mean distance from the Sun, etc -- and how the number of moons for Saturn had a question mark next to it. I don't remember any of the other stats from this poster, just the two biggest numbers of moons for the two biggest planets: Jupiter had 16 and Saturn had "22?"

Twenty-two question mark! I was captivated by that question mark. I was too young to understand at the time how there could be any doubt about how many moons a planet had. Now I look back and marvel that there could be such certainty! Now there are like, what, 60? Does anyone even know? Does anyone mind that we're not quite sure of this?

The questions are intriguing and delicious because we can hope they are impermanent. That question mark excited me, because I believed this was something humans would be able to nail down and specify, coming to a soothingly "right" answer, accurate and stable and unequivocal, one day.

Looking at that memory now, I like it because it places me in a certain time and context.

I love the song "Little Fluffy Clouds" but the beginning always drove me crazy. The supposed impetus for the vocal sample that gives the song its name is an interviewer asking "What were the skies like when you were young?" What the hell kind of question is that? I always wanted to know. Who talks like that?

But on a slightly bigger scale, I think it could be a great question:
  • When did you come of age?
  • Back when we were at Twenty-Two Question Mark For Saturn.
It's something I could see Mr. xkcd doing as a chart. It's like how Romans used to name the year by saying "it was the seventh year in the reign of such-and-such." It's like those sf stories about using the positions of the planets in the solar system as a clock: you come back from a relativistic journey, no idea what epoch you've arrived back into, check the relative positions of all the planets in their orbits and then you can say "well this only happens every umptymillion years so it's this time, plus or minus one umptymillion!" which at least narrows down the possibilities.

Anyway, where was I?

Here's what I wrote the other day when I read about how close Dawn is getting to Ceres:
The best thing about space exploration is that it transforms objects in the solar system from ideas into places.

The Voyagers did this for the outer planets (and some of their moons); Cassini/Huygens has done it for the moons of Saturn; Spirit and Oppy and Curiosity are doing it for Mars; New Horizons will do it for Pluto and other Kuiper Belt Objects...and Dawn is doing this for Ceres, the largest asteroid in the belt between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter.

Ceres was the original "relegated" planet: when first discovered it was called a planet, but when a number of smaller asteroids were discovered it was gradually understood that Ceres is one of many such objects, not something that's cleared its orbital path like planets are supposed to. So Ceres was reclassified, without (as far as I can tell) all the fuss Pluto has received in its similar situation, and is still a subject of scientific interest, getting its own mission and everything, As is Pluto, of course!‎
They're not treated any differently no matter what they're called. Planets are important. Dwarf planets are important. Moons are important. Comets are important!

Is there any way that having the asteroid belt is worse than having just Ceres? Nobody I know thinks so. I didn't even know Ceres's history (its social history, its history as a subject of interest to humans, not its geological or astronomical history as a rock in space) until Pluto's reclassification caused all this fuss and there started to be articles about the new class of planets Pluto has been "demoted" to or whatever (such emotive language! the planets provide such an obligingly blank canvas don't they?!) saying things like "hey, Pluto isn't the only one in this bizarro new 'dwarf planet' class!" Until I knew it only as one of the largest asteroids. And of course I thought the asteroid belt was great, like kids do: lacking the singular personality of a solar system icon like Jupiter or Venus yet delicious in its anonymity, its plurality. And of course asteroids are just Space Landmines, if I could believe what movies taught me about the inevitability of having to drive spaceships through them.

Nothing about Ceres by itself could be as good as Space Landmines. And so why should I mourn for Pluto when it's transitioning from being a lonely exception to being part of the Kuiper Belt, a busy place where not everything is about us, full of Pluto-like objects. Pluto is no longer alone! Not the ugly duckling of the planet club but surrounded by its own kind.

How do we not love this story?! How long will it take for the queer folk and the non-standard deviations and the neurodiverse and the weirdos who grew up in small towns where they were led to believe they were the only weirdo in the world to realize this is their vindication?

Pluto was an ugly planet, never in all its time as a planet being captured as more than a smudge that needed a big arrow next to it in photos, or as a circle so pixilated I've been known to say it looks like a disco ball.

But Pluto will be a beautiful dwarf planet, in a process that's starting already as New Horizons zooms toward it, getting better pictures than any we've had before and more information on this small distant world. It's like we're finally getting to go on our first date with Pluto and find out more than its blurry photos on the dating website and see beyond the superficial facts like that it likes long walks on the beach and eccentric orbits, has a diameter of 2274 kilometers and a good sense of humor.

2015 is such an exciting time to get to know and love Pluto for what it is, and -- since New Horizons will also be looking at some of Pluto's satellites and hopefully a couple of other Kuiper Belt Objects -- the other swans we now realize it's swimming through the universe with.

Pluto is asking us "who says being a planet is better than not being a planet?" Pluto says "do I care if some people on Earth decided for a mere third of one Plutonian year that Pluto should fit some label rather than some other?" (A third of a year is a mere four months here, of course. Four months is nothing! Would we think much of a job title, a marital status, an address, that we only had for four months once?) Pluto is not surprised that the people of Earth, who think they live on a planet, accept unquestioningly that planets are the best things. I mean, they have invented this idea of a "habitable zone" that they think they're in the middle of! Of course they do! Their ego is flagrant, their hubris unbounded. Pluto is keeping its distance from all that silliness. Pluto's reminding us a better solar system is possible.

...Maybe it's time for me to go to bed?
strangecharm: (Default)
2015-02-28 09:24 pm
Entry tags:

The two unfortunate things about Leonard Nimoy dying that are probably particular to me:

1. I found out he'd died just as I had realized water was leaking through the kitchen ceiling and dropping on me as I was trying to make dinner, which led to me doing an impressive job of burning the dinner as I had the requisite crying spell while I felt so wholly inadequate to dealing with yet another crisis.

2. All these quotes of that "the most human" line just reminded me that, a day or two before, apropos of nothing, Andrew announced to me that [personal profile] miss_s_b had promised that, if he dies first, she will at his funeral give that speech but change it to "he was the least human." Which made me laugh so much. It still does.

(Especially since, as I rightly said in the comments of a friend's Facebook, "Spock is basically to blame for what I've always found attractive in my partners.")
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2015-02-28 01:14 pm
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Kitchen coveting

I accidentally read a blog post about good stuff for small kitchens and then fell down this rabbit hole of things I suddenly really really want, like cabinet shelves (though I am of course sure I could find some less expensive way to get the same result!) and under-cabinet lighting (though it's not exactly under the cabinets that I need more light, the whole kitchen is so terribly lit and dingy that it couldn't hurt!) and my house actually has some of this wildly useful kitchen shelving stuff...but in the basement -- I keep meaning it get it out of there and install these things upstairs, perhaps a good inaugural project for the little cordless drill [ profile] ejbigred has gifted me! Plus it turns out you can (at least in America...) get stick blenders with food processor attachments, which was very exciting because it seems so many of the recipes I'm interested in lately call for a food processor, or at least are things that'd be incredibly easy if I had one and are difficult or too faffy to do without (my stick blender has already been asked to occasionally do the job of afood processor, leading to okay but not great results, and once a nasty flesh wound...). And I'm hoping that a stick-blender kind might be a bit cheaper as that's far more of a concern to me than how much space it takes up.
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2015-02-28 09:31 am
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Sick of being sick

James assures me whisky is a good idea, even at nine in the morning, because it's medicinal. Bless him. For now, at least, I've stuck to tea with honey in it.

But whisky does sound like a good idea. Did I mention that there was water leaking from the bathroom through the kitchen ceiling last night?
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2015-02-27 09:40 am
Entry tags:

Not fair

All week, with all the challenging things I had to do in it, my consolation was that Friday would make up for it.

James has the day off work, is going to come visit, and he, Andrew and I are going to watch old horror movies in the cinema. It sounded brilliant and I was so looking forward to it.

But yesterday I woke up with a nasty sinus infection, a headache and a really sore throat. I had my second appointment with the National Careers Service guy (which I do really want to write about before I forget it all, but I'm not up to it yet) and then my first visit to Manchester Eye Hospital. I survived everything and the day went better than I'd expected, but all the talking meant I have been in lots more pain since and pretty much unable to speak.

I went to bed early last night and felt almost okay until I was woken up when Andrew came to bed. The ibuprofen was hardly touching the pain and I also felt very feverish indeed. I was absolutely miserable but did manage to get back to sleep, until 6:30 when I woke up drenched in sweat but otherwise feeling a little better. I got out of bed, tried to eat something, and thought I was improving until Andrew got up a couple hours later and trying to talk to him didn't work at all and made my throat feel once again like it was being stabbed with tiny daggers. On fire.

So I had to text James and say "you're very welcome here today but I'm sick and can't talk and will be rubbish company." I've missed him and have been looking forward to seeing him but didn't want him to think he'd be getting his usual blathering girlfriend taking him out to lunch when instead he's getting a silent lump under a duvet. He says because of the plan for the cinema tonight he'll still come over this afternoon and I'm going to try to get some more sleep in hopes of seeming a bit more human by then, but I am especially petulant when I'm sick and just had to say it's not faaaaair! and I've been so good this week I want nice things! somewhere first.
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2015-02-26 08:47 am
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Declarations of intent

Yesterday I announced, first to [ profile] softfruit's front room and then to Facebook, "I'm totally doing a zine about how Pluto's only a planet according to the social model of planetude."

(Cf the social model of disability, for anyone who doesn't know what I'm talking about...something that's been on my mind lately because I'm trying to get myself "on the grid," so to speak, after only nine years in the UK flailing around or making excuses or being too crazy to sort anything out.)

It got a bunch of 'like's on Facebook and for the rest of the evening any time I said anything silly or overly-excitable, [ profile] haggis said "You can make a zine about it." And [ profile] chellaquint, who I saw hosting Comedy in Space again over the weekend. And she remembered me from last time, bless her, even though it was a year and a half ago, and she told me I should go to Sheffiled zinefest in a month (as did her fiancée, who I'd been talking to before about language geekery), and since I'm not on Twitter any more Chella and I are Facebook friends now so when I said this about Pluto she said, "Please bring this to zine fest because OMG". Even though she thinks Pluto should be a planet! (I'm quite glad she likes me despite this rift (which, as [ profile] diffrentcolours pointed out, is useful for telling us apart because otherwise Chella and I are a so alike!))

And when Andrew saw that, he said "when you do that zine I can help you with the desktop publishing software," and I said "what do you mean, 'when'?" Not even any "if"!

So if I'm not careful I'm going to end up writing about Pluto as an innocent object disabled by our ideas of how planets are better than non-planets.

(I think there's an interesting queer theory angle there too, about labels and how they're chosen...)
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2015-02-25 10:50 am

Marking the seasons

Today I'm trying to sort out our home insurance, which I've been informed needs to be renewed in the next thirty days.

That means it's only a month short of a year we've been living in this house now. Which is hard to believe: it either feels like we've been here forever, or that it's no time at all and I still have excuses for why nothing's been sorted out yet.

It's been a terrible and difficult year. I am anxious for the weather to improve and life to improve this spring.
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2015-02-25 09:36 am
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My brain's so weird

When I was first married, and struggling with how miserable and strange my wedding was, a lot of my friends suggested having some other kind of ceremony more like how I'd have wanted it and less tainted by the emotional rawness of my brother having just died.

I always said I could see the appeal of this in some ways but in other ways it'd just be another thing for me to sort out on my own and anyway Andrew hated the first wedding enough that I can't imagine him offering me anything better than tolerance and humoring me for such a plan, and the whole point of this would be to remove the aspect of obligation and having to please other people from a wedding.

After a while I didn't think about the wedding so much any more and the idea didn't seem at all interesting to any more.

So after years of not thinking about it, I dreamed it last night.

It was so vivid. I can tell you the dress I was wearing -- bright red, and a bit girly for me but I was very happy with it -- and that everybody I know was there. I wasn't dreaming I was in the past, I was dreaming everybody I know now and I knew in the dream that I had been married a while by now.

But it was a big party and everyone was really happy for me and I was really happy. And I woke up feeling like that's almost as good, or maybe better, than having to plan and arrange it in my waking life.