leahbobet: (gardening)

Longtime readers will know that it is officially spring in my house when I get the inexorable urge to put on The Sisters of Mercy’s Floodland, open all the windows, clean house, and dance around in my socks.  This, um.  Happens every year.

Apparently I was late on it this year, because I was all the way to the white house in the red square before I realized I was humming it to myself.  With the window open.  Making bread.

So apparently it’s spring, guys.  Happy spring!



Originally published at leahbobet. You can comment here or there.

leahbobet: (gardening)
January 21, 2012 Progress Notes:

On Roadstead Farm

Words today: 150.
Words total: 12,600.
Reason for stopping: It's late, and I'm not getting too far by kicking at it.

Darling du Jour: Something hot and liquid meandered down my forearm and I knew it was life, I knew it was [SPOILER]'s, rusting out like a fieldmouse hawk-caught behind the hay barn.
Words Hallie Won't Admit to Knowing: N/A.
Mean Things: In write-ahead signposting land, the possible grim midwinter death of the only family you have left.

Research Roundup: Qualitative sound of Canadian accents to American ears.
Books in progress: Alissa York, Fauna.

Not a lot of words when you stack them up next to each other, but important ones. I found where I went the wrong way. This is the roughed-out bones of a signpost, about three chapters down the road that goes the right way.

Still a bit coldy here; enough that I'm staying in evenings instead of going out. Still, there was high tea around suppertime with a friend who's visiting from Sault Ste. Marie this week, and then one of those clear-breathed nighttime walks home that are just you and the sharp cold air and your headphones, crunching through side streets in the snow, following the instinctive compass that lives in your belly west, west, homeward; the kind where you know just how deep you're connected to the browned grass and asphalt beneath you, the strings of streetlights, the dogwalkers, the club kids, the world.

It was a good walk. I don't care if it's contributed to my sniffles right now; I've needed that for a little while.

Bed, now, to think about my right way and my wrong turn. And narrative texture.
This is how it's supposed to be: Afternoon sunlight spilling across the creaky wood floor of my bedroom, and all over the century-old red bricks of the house next door, outside the living room window. Live Pearl Jam on the radio; a fuzzy burgundy sweater hung over the back of my chair. Sea salt chocolate, and bright, smooth focus, and writery work -- Ideomancer editorial, interview questions, page proofs for a reprint anthology -- under my hands. The floor's old in this apartment, and worn smooth. I can do little pirouettes on my way to the kitchen sink to fill up my mug with water and not catch my socks on splinters.

The Dayjob is closed for the next week and change. I'm not back at work until Tuesday after next. Until then, I live how it's supposed to be.

([livejournal.com profile] matociquala introduced me to this essay years ago. It's very Vonnegut, and it made me stop more, and notice things. Read it. Take a minute.)

We get so busy. I get so busy, y'know? And sometimes I forget about these little breaths and moments of light shifting on the floor; the little slivers of perfection you get in between all the obligation and noise.

No, we might not always get the lives we want. There are too many things stacked against us in terms of time, and money, and the push-pull dance that's the needs and desires of other people. But those lives find their way in through the corners. They squeeze up through the cracks and afternoons off, in the smell of baking and hair bunched up out of your face and the idle IM chatter minimized on your desktop. They're always there, flowing underneath our feet like the water table. Waiting for us to stop, and turn our noses up to the sky, and breathe in deep.

Happy holidays, kids. Stay good, 'cause I know you are.
August 25, 2011 Progress Notes:

"Always Winter"

Words today: 750.
Words total: 1150. No, this doesn't add up right. I zorched about 125 words correcting a wrong turn.
Reason for stopping: Round number, it's past 11pm, and this is still World of Fusscraft.

Darling du Jour: He takes his meals in his study these days; in fact, barely leaves his study. His beard has grown untrimmed across his face, wild and white like some shell-shocked St. Nicholas, and the papers shift 'round him like endless drifts of snow.

Mean Things: Lost children. Being rudely yanked out of the fairy tale where you live and plunked square into a Gothic. Haunted house tricks. War. Blowing innocence to bitty bits.
Research Roundup: Middlingly famous British painters; Victorian parlor chairs; child evacuation during WWII; the rudest terms for Germans extant in 1940.

Books in progress: Erin Bow, Plain Kate.
The glamour: There is a farmer's market on my way home Thursday afternoons, and one of the booths, a bakery, is manned by a boy with the most infectious, improbable smile. I find myself buying a lot of pastry on Thursdays all of a sudden. *ahem*

Someone please remind this story that it's supposed to be the easy project. It's gone all fine-grained and finicky and puzzleboxy on me, and I just spent my whole evening assembling it with tweezers, word by word, through a microscope on 40x magnification.

(You know when I've gone to new metaphors for the writing process that there's trouble at the old homestead.)

In other, non-complaining news: audio reprint sale! "The Parable of the Shower" is going to appear in a future Podcastle. Having read this one live a few times myself, I will now extend my deepest sympathies to whoever gets assigned to read the second-person, present tense, language-of-the-King-James-Bible smack-talking angel story. And I will let you all know when it's up.
leahbobet: (gardening)
Stuff got a little busy in the last half of this week: an arts community event, the Fresh City Farms launch (which was a great party and is a great idea, and I'm trying to figure out how to support it better given that I, well, have a CSA already), night markets, birthday parties, time with friends from out of town, and standing on a corner of Kensington for an hour on Friday night talking politics and shooting the shit with friends I just ran into on said street corner. I have been Little Miss Socialite since about...Wednesday.

Which has left precious little time for cooking, or even eating at home too much. Most of these events came with outside food. Dumplings with out-of-town friend yesterday afternoon! Birthday party barbeque in the evening! Fresh City Farms veggie snacks and egg tarts on Thursday night! All very good, we must say.

But today I am back to a bepajamaed writerly self, and planning some solid kitchen time, and so here's week eight.

As memory serves, this week's share was:

2 quarts mixed greens
1 lettuce
2 cucumbers
1 zucchini
1 tomato
1 swiss chard
1 bunch rosemary

Plus a bunch of spring onions and two bulbs fresh garlic from the table, and a basket of peaches, 1 quart cherries, 2 quarts raspberries, 1 quart blue plums, and 2 quarts tomatoes from the MyMarket. And in the first half of the week, I got some solid use here. Campaign Crisper Freedom has started.

It occurred that if I was going to chop things up and put them in eggs, I could equally chop them up and put them in pasta.

No, I haven't gotten around to that camera-fixing thing yet.

It was mostly the same things, too: a clove of garlic, a spring onion bulb (really easier to just get the spring onions and have two! kinds! of onions! in one!), a garlic scape, peas, grocery-store shiitake mushrooms, a grocery-store tomato I had left over, and just some olive oil, white wine, fettucine and parmesan.

This was good. Enough that I did a reprise on Saturday, with some swiss chard and a bit of sour cream thrown in to get a little more of a sauce texture.

I will also admit that potato salad is getting to be a bit of a staple around here.

Major difference: I put green beans in this time too. It was a good plan.

The big new thing I tried this week was a giant (yes, giant) Israeli salad:

Just look at this blurry Israeli salad.

This is an internet recipe, mixed with my vague memory of the kind they make up at Sofra by my parents' house. It containeth: three cucumbers, two tomatoes, two green onions, a bell pepper, the half-bunch of parsley left over from the mango-apricot salsa, four cloves fresh garlic, olive oil, fresh lemon juice, salt, pepper, and dried mint, and then you put it on top of some mixed greens.

It was pretty good at first, but once it had sat overnight in the lemon juice and so forth, it was nice. Am still sort of picking at the leftovers of this one. It used up a lot of vegetables that needed using, but the consequence of that is that...well, there's a lot of it.

We also did some little things with the fruit: raspberry sour cream muffins (mostly now in the freezer in ziplocs for easy weekday morning breakfasts), and a couple peach/raspberry/cherry smoothies. The raspberries got used pretty quickly. There are still a few peaches left. The cherries are hanging on, but I expect to just munch them into oblivion this afternoon.

So on the whole, I did not eat out less, but the carryover isn't as bad right now. Also, I have accepted that some things have just been sitting in the fridge too long, and they are going in the green bin. This is, yes, a defeat. I will keep track of what got wasted, to remind me to Never Waste Again.

This week's contestants:

1 cauliflower
1 bunch spring onions
2 pints red potatoes
2 pints green beans
1 pint grape tomatoes
1 handful basil
6 chicken eggs
6 duck eggs

No MyMarket this week; I had somewhere to run to Wednesday evening.

I did, however, get to Sanagan's yesterday afternoon and picked up a couple duck breasts and a nice big chicken. Since they source all their meat from local farms (and I think preferentially smaller, family-run ones, and it's sustainably farmed and not hugely expensive, and also they're quite pleasant there), I think we can include things we get from Sanagan's on the farmshare scorecard.

You may note egg share has started. Egg share! I get the duck eggs this week. Next week's half dozen will belong to Dr. My Roommate, and so on until November.

Also, the spring onions were supposed to be three cobs of corn, but I still have corn from last year in my freezer, so I traded them in. I use onions consistently, week after week. I do not have to invent reasons to use onions.

I am cleaning out the fridge this afternoon -- full-on scrub and reorganization of my proprietary little shelves -- and this will mean some cooking. Current plots include roasting that chicken with rosemary and garlic and good things like that; gazpacho, which I need to bake a loaf of bread for (recipe calls for a couple slices); leafy greens-and-beans salad; come to think of it, maybe a quiche. I haven't made quiche in eleventy billion years.

I still need to figure out what to do with zucchini. I don't really like zucchini.

At home.

Jul. 6th, 2011 03:27 pm
leahbobet: (gardening)
Dr. My Roommate and I went for a walk last night: the tea shop, and then Fiesta Farms (which was closed), and since Fiesta was closed, the big Loblaws at Christie and Dupont. I wanted the groceries; she wanted the walk, and maybe some yogourt while we were up.

I don't remember how we got onto the topic of why we don't drive.

Neither of us do. We both can; we both have held driver's licences in the past, although for me it's the deep and distant past: I haven't been behind the wheel of a car since I was 18. The roommate bikes, and I walk.

She had a reason for why she didn't drive, a fairly neat and clearly articulated one which has nothing to do with the way bike lanes, cars, cyclist and driver behaviour on the roads, safety, and the whole general culture war between bikes and cars, downtown and uptown, is politically exploding in Toronto this month, after the Public Works Committee of municipal council recommended that the year-old bike lanes on Jarvis be removed.

My reasons? I had to stop for a second (on the other side of a stoplight, next to the big, leafy hedge at Bathurst and Wells, which nudged against my shoulder) and unearth it. Yes, there are the environmental benefits, the health benefits, the fiscal benefits of choosing not to drive, but those are really the bullshit on top. If I really wanted to drive a car, I would, I'm sure, have an equal list of benefits to doing so. There is something deep inside me that just finds the act inimical to my personal nature, and so no matter what the drawbacks, I'll put it aside and structure my life -- downtown rents, travel times, occasionally missing get-togethers in the far suburbs or Hamilton -- around that lack of desire for cars.

What it is (I said, after starting to walk again, reaching up to brush low-hanging maple leaves, get a handful of the humid, muggy breeze) is that I dislike the disconnection that comes with doing your travelling in a car. When you are in a car, you have a skin of metal between you and everything else. You control the temperature of the air, the sounds you hear, the tactile input. You don't have a chance to see things, so much, because if you're being anything like a good driver, your eyes are on the road. It can be an inherently wagons-circled experience: moving on your way in a bubble. In a car, the world goes by.

On your feet, you move through the world, and in it. You smell the air. You hear insects, and traffic, and wind, and other people's snippets of conversation. You touch and are touched by plants; pet other people's dogs in the park; jostle and bump and shake hands. You stop places, read signs, look in windows, study the sky. You linger. You engage.

This morning, I read a post from one of my favourite Torontostuff bloggers, Cityslikr, about being at home in the city.

What struck me most about these conversations, though, was how in touch with their surroundings the folks were who spent their time hunting and fishing. At home in their environment, knowing everything there was to know about every hill they climbed, every point they positioned themselves at while tracking their quarry.


It all got me to thinking and wondering if those of us big city dwellers could ever attain such equanimity with where we live.

The other reason I don't drive is because of a certain idiosyncratic little fear.

I get afraid, I think, that when you spend too much time in spaces that are defined by hard borders, which you control, which are all about you and where you are not simply a component, equal to all others, of that bigger, more-encompassing space? That your head and your heart start to think that way too. That you withdraw a little from an openness to random experiences -- to the thought that you may well get rained on, or told by a drunk-or-just-weird guy on the sidewalk that you are totally awesome -- and a sense of community, both social and geographical. You will not have stories about your places. You are not at home.

This could be true. This could be true just personally for me. This could be a delicately crafted pile of steaming bullshit. Who's to say? For you it might be nothing, or more of my trademark flakery -- and that's cool, because we're different people. For me, it's like breathing.

I have lived in this neighbourhood a year next week, and I know its byways. I move through it like a needle through soft fabric. I can tell you stories about this tree, or the Most Metal Garage in All Toronto (south of Bloor, alleyway around Lippincott or thereabouts), or the Door to Nowhere, whose function we do not understand, but the pondering of which is really, really entertaining. I know where all the little parks are, and the fruit trees, the cheap hardware stores, the secret bar patios. I know my neighbours. I know when the tiger lilies bloom. My fingerprints are all over this place now. Its fingerprints are all over me.

And maybe that's the first step to the thought Cityslikr's positing: Cities are our homes. Instead of fighting that idea, we need to embrace it and figure out the best ways to make our home, well, livable. Dare I say, desirable? For everyone who chooses to put down stakes here and not just those who can afford it.

I think about how to do that a lot. Don't talk about it so much lately, not in this venue, but it's going on up there. And some of that drive to the livable and desirable comes from civic programs, funding allotments, infrastructure initiatives; but some of that comes from us. Some of that is cultivating a personal and very individual capacity to open yourself to whatever the city will throw your way; to giving it space to leave fingerprints all over your head and heart, and not just trying to leave yours on it. Relationships are two-way things. Your interaction with the place you live in, if it is to be truly a home, is no less a relationship than a marriage. You can't keep a marriage going on metal walls, and controlled sound systems, and climate control.

I have no water-proof, bee-proof, age-proof idea on how to do this. Like I said, you're you and I'm me, and what works for one person is pretty much guaranteed to not work for another, and that's just how things are. But I do have a good starting point:

Take a walk. Take a couple, long and meandering, with no particular destination in mind, or no real attachment to how you get there. Engage with the things you find along the way. Touch things, and smell. Linger.

See how you feel about it.

It was a good walk, last night. I got home, and slept well after.
leahbobet: (gardening)
I mentioned last summer, in and around things, that I signed up with a farmshare. It's one of those that's really collective on both ends: a bunch of small family farms in the Kawartha Lakes produce the food in an environmentally sustainable way, and then the organizer of the CSA (who is awesome) brings it all down to Toronto for CSA pickup and farmer's markets, five days a week. Where a bunch of people -- including a whole lot of my friends and co-workers* -- buy and munch it. This means supporting small family farms versus large industrial outfits; removing the timesuck of manning farmer's market stalls from the farmers themselves so they can, well, farm stuff; supporting ethical, fair trade, and environmental growing practices (although only some, not all of the farms involved are certified organic); eating a lot more vegetables, and they're much better-tasting vegetables; and actually achieving the first steps to a 100-mile diet.**

It also means I've learned to cook like an Iron Chef.

No kidding: Every Wednesday I stop at the pickup location on my way home from work with only the faintest idea of what I'll be getting that week. I grab whatever's chalked on the board, maybe buy a few extra odds and ends I really want, and then I have a week to figure out what to do with them. The words What do you do with ____? were uttered a few times last summer. Stuff got inventive. Many soups happened. It was kind of crazily, impressively fun.

So, farmshare started up for the summer again last week,*** and I had the notion that maybe this year I will blog it.

Consider this a new feature, as long as I have the time and attention span to do it, and as long as you guys are interested: CSA Wednesdays. What I did with my farmshare this week, and what I got for next week. Like [livejournal.com profile] jmeadows's Spinning Sundays, but, y'know, tastier.

It will have pictures.

So, Week 1:

Last Wednesday was a bit of a smaller haul. I think partially it's the first week, but partially I didn't browse the other stuff as much: I was sticky and hot and kind of sleepy, and needed to get home for something. We got:

1 Boston lettuce
1 pint, or maybe 1.5 pints of spring mix lettuce
1 celeriac
5 stalks rhubarb
1 bunch popcorn on the cob
1 bunch asparagus

There was a lot of "what do I do with that?" in this batch. And then I had an idea, and since I haven't been able to find a rack of lamb in this neighbourhood that's less than $50 (Dear Rowe Farms: No.) I haven't executed a lot of that plan yet. So most of this is still sitting in my fridge, hopefully to be used tomorrow when I go to Kensington Market to get lamb that isn't $50.

The lettuces got all used. I mixed them together for salads, and got one or two caprese salads and then this one, which has both lettuces, some grocery-store tomato, some daikon from The Biggest Daikon in the World, slivered almonds, and pickled pomegranate seeds I put up this winter. The dressing is mead vinagrette. Yes, mead. The honey vinegar is also local.

So carryover from week 1 is the asparagus, the popcorn, the rhubarb, and the celeriac, which I do not know what to do with yet, although Dr. My Roommate had a suggestion I might follow up on involving grating and raisins and salady things.

The Week 2 preview!

This week's box was:

2 heads romaine lettuce
1 pint strawberries
1 handful garlic scapes
4 bunches spring onions
1 big basket spring mix

I also got a bunch of radishes on top of that, because I like radishes and they were there looking at me.

There's a MyMarket farmer's market a couple blocks away from home, also on Wednesdays, and I stopped there both looking for that lamb solution and to see what they had. So add to the count:

1.5 pint new potatoes
1 pint heritage mix cherry tomatoes

So that's the preview. Tune in next week to find out what happens to them! Thrill with suspense! Eat Ontario produce! Ogle pictures of yummy food!

(And if you have any recipes for celeriac, let me know?)

*Apparently CSAs are like Fluevogs. It takes two seperate vectors of exposure to get you addicted to them, and then they spread through casual social contact like you wouldn't believe.
**I haven't figured out the grains and staples yet, or a lot of the cheese. We're working on it in that idle, backburnered, compiling-code kind of way.
***I didn't do winter share last year, to my eternal regret. Won't be making that mistake again.
leahbobet: (bat signal)
Saw, with concertgoing compatriot [livejournal.com profile] ksumnersmith and her guy, the first show of 2011 tonight: four Toronto indie bands that are actually indie enough that 99% of everyone hasn't yet heard of them (and won't for probably a year or two) at the Toronto Underground Cinema.

Yes, I am aware that I just said "I went to see bands you don't even know about." In this case I am not just being a disgusting cooler-than-thou Annex hipster (although if you call me that, I will say "thank you!"); I didn't really know about this show until last week myself and went specifically to see a grand total of one of the four, which I only discovered...well, last week. Hanging out for the other sets was done in a spirit of adventure and discovery. Also, it was an $8 show and really, why the hell not.

The Underground is a weird venue for music. I think this might have been a bit of an experiment for them. I've seen a bunch of movies there (friend [livejournal.com profile] theshaggy is housemates with one of the owners, and we spent a fair bit of time hanging out there this spring/summer) and it's a good theatre with good acoustics, but there's not a stage per se or dance space. They set up a stage on risers of sorts, and while a bunch of people hung out in the seats, some of the more dancingly-inclined sort of crowded by the stage and in the aisles and did their best. I admit I kind of prefer club-style venues for this sort of thing. If I'm going to dance, I want space, and if the music's much good I want to be dancing.

The lobby did actually work out well, though: there was the concessions for food and beer, and the merch tables could be out there, and if someone wasn't interested in this particular set (each band played a 40-minute set or so) they could go hang out in the lobby and not bother other people.

Okay. Actual sets:

The opener was Young Doctors in Love, who I think were added late. This was kind of melodic poppy stuff, two female vocalists, dancy but not hugely remarkable? Bits of their songs kept sounding like other songs. Their drummer kicked a good deal of ass and was awesomely steady. I didn't find this good or bad or awful, it was mostly just there.

Heartbeat Hotel was who I came to see: they had a song on BlogTO's Neighbourhood Mixtape last week (there, I have given you one of my sources for good music) that made me listen to the thing over and over and over, and then stop listening to the five-song mix and just listen to that song, and then go to their Bandcamp site and just buy everything they'd ever made. This has so far proven to be a good decision.

They're less polished live, a bit fuzzy, but still together. I don't know if they have the thing of doing live shoegazer quite together yet, not the way Andrew Bird or Owen Pallett do. They had a good fanbase out too; this is when people started going up front and dancing. They do the wall of sound thing well -- good thumpy through-your-bones drums -- and I like their vocalist live; there's a good rawness to it, versus the "we don't know what we're doing" kind. I didn't quite get my slip-under-the-skin-of-the-music happy place -- and admittedly I spent most of today in a weirdly grim mood, and that probably wasn't helping -- but I got close, and they closed out with two songs I knew and really liked.

(Interestingly, when we were heading out, I took a nose around their merch table and got talking to two of the guys from said band, and asked if they were doing anything else local soon because I found them last week and I like their stuff etc. And they were very nice, and even though I had already bought digital copies of their last EP, they gave me a physical one for free, which was super sweet and unexpected. And if anyone does like the stuff on the Bandcamp site, apparently they're doing a show late next month at Sneaky Dee's, and I will probably go.)

The Ruby Spirit was obviously one of the bigger deals of the night -- fanbase, a better video-montage thingie than Heartbeat Hotel had, costumes, etc. They're a lot more polished than the other two bands, better technical skills on the instruments and just more together in general, and seemed to be doing this sort of big-band pop cabaret Moulin Rouge thingie. They had some dancers up behind them who were obviously their friends in matching white shirts and feathery hair things. I am not being uncharitable when I say that only two of the six were much good at moving one's body in a dancy way. So think We Are Trying For Amanda Palmer or maybe Hannah Fury Fronts a Band With Guitars.

Thing is, they left me weirdly cold (and Karina said the same, actually): maybe it was the singer doing the carnival-barker overenunciating between songs in a very deliberate way, or maybe it was the dancers that were sort of...if you're going to do that, go all-out and have funky costumes or get people who are good dancers. Or maybe it was the weird backhanded "Oh, if you're going to sit in the seats you'll be fined $100" thing the guitarist came out with. Or maybe it was just the very conscious theatricalness of it all: the presentation, the music itself, everything. It was working to be very cabaret, and I have a bit of a reaction to the sensibility of that on a few levels and for a few reasons. I just did not click with this one. Period.

We decided to skip out on The Lovely Killbots; it was close to one in the morning, the potential fourth compatriot wasn't making it from uptown after all, and my blood sugar was doing a couple dubious things. The company decamped up the street for some iffy Chinese and then we went our ways. I walked home through Kensington in the dark and quiet and thick snow, watching the last bits and bobs of the bar crowds empty out, and decided to wipe away the penises and swear words the drunk kids from the Brunny had drawn in the snow piled on parked cars along the side streets. Because y'know, it was a nice night, and even if I can't prevent people from being dicks about things, I don't actually have to walk by and leave their dickery out there.

So in sum: This thing with going to shows of bands that are really young as bands is interesting. It was kind of like watching junior hockey or reading semipro fiction; you see as much of what isn't there yet as what is, and what could be there very soon, what's growing, and there's an interestingness in that. Also, I have to say the price is right. Tonight's outing equalled out to $2 per set.

I am reminded that I like night walking very much, especially when there's a lot of bright white snow on the ground. There is a terrible peacefulness to 2:15 in the morning in the wintertime.

Lastly, it is late and I am tired. Bonne nuit, l'internet.
Today was a good day, because today, for the first time in a long while, I managed to get in 12 hours of sleep. So I woke up happier and less sinusy/feverish than I have been in a good bit -- yeah, I still have circles under my eyes, but they're the normal overworked girl circles, not the Deathly Pallor of Illness -- and had a lazy breakfast, and walked around the city in the sub-zero nasty temperatures to buy cheese and replacement lighbulbs and lemons from Kensington Market because cold or not, I'd really just rather walk.

I did not make it to the Tightrope Books vintage clothing sale, even though it really was just down the street and around the corner, but it was cold. And I already spent too much at One of a Kind. And it was cold. Yes, this is the beginning of the season were I will opt not to do things because it is cold and my house is warm, and I have no cabana person to send down the street for milk.

So instead, tonight has been several loads of laundry, bill-paying, and some little bits of housekeeping (replacing those lightbulbs, dishes, spot 'o vacuuming), and Ideomancer work, with a cup of rose petal rooibos at my elbow. Order slowly reasserts itself in all things. Including and especially myself.

I had one of those moments this afternoon, sitting in The Grilled Cheese* at the corner booth table, with my coat off, scarf and hat on, working through a bowl of tomato soup with one hand and reading a collection of essays about Toronto's food infrastructure** with the other while the sunlight dropped in a grey sort of winter way outside and the radio played some classic rock station, where I suddenly saw myself from the outside. You know those: when you just stop and realize how you -- where you are, what you're doing, your hair and clothes and the general curve of your back -- looks to everyone else in the room; what semiotic subcultural signals you're sending off?

I had one of those this afternoon.

It made me happy, because there is this girl I used to want to be very badly and this life I thought was utterly out of my reach, and apparently I am her now. Without even consciously trying, most of the time; just by doing my thing.

So that's pretty awesome, that. Sometimes you can get what you want after all.

*Good, hot, crispy sammiches here. Nom nom.
**Good book here. Actually, all the ones in the uTOpia series are.
This afternoon I am skipping out on The Toronto Specfic Colloquium and eating cheese (apricot stilton) and crackers (fig olive Raincoast Crisps) in my pajamas, because I have not really been home all week except to sleep, and not enough of that got done either. Even when this means doing impeccably fun stuff in and around the usual Dayjob activity, this can be stressful and eventually one's dishes do need washing.

What did get done?

A Brazilian barbeque outing. Dance class.

A book launch for Amy Lavender Harris's Imagining Toronto, which is an academic book about how Toronto is reflected in literature written about it and set in it. This is enough to make me geek out and buy myself ten signed copies all by itself, but doubly so because she talks about my "Midnights on the Bloor Viaduct" in it. Eeeee. :)

Mark Lanegan and Isobel Campbell in concert at Lee's Palace, which was not precisely what I was expecting -- apparently their second album together went really country -- but was saved by the encore (Wedding Dress! Revolver! Whee!) and the company.

Some extra-credit Dayjob work helping with a Canadian Parliamentary conference yesterday, which meant getting to watch their presentations on stuff like how PEI is coping with global warming and a particular point of political strategy involving private member's bills. This is probably not interesting to you, but after two years at Dayjob, it is interesting to me. Also, I found out that there's a lighthouse on PEI that is, no kidding, an inn that you can stay in. You can sleep in the actual lighthouse tower, right on the coast, right next to the ocean. I shit you not.

I am falling over with writing retreat lust.

Last night, Tokyo Police Club and Phoenix in concert at the Ricoh; they put rubber tile thingies on what's normally hockey ice to make a dance floor and had both a floor section and stadium seats. And this was what I was expecting: happy and bouncy and full of guitar and enough bass to make my ribs vibrate and the tip of my nose itch. I didn't take pictures: we were too busy dancing every stressful thing from the last week down to a puddle on the floor. But have a sample.

Phoenix did this sweet little three-song acoustic bit in the middle of the dance floor, where the sound boards were set up: now it's an arena show! Now it's an intimate venue! Presto! It was really nice, and very deeply French in a way I can't pinpoint for you. And while Dr. My Roommate was a little ambivalent about the "Now we will be experimental rock people!" thing that preceded it, I was fully on board.

There are two shows tonight I could be going to, one stand-up-and-dance, one sit-down-and-get-squished-because-it's-Massey-Hall. I am probably bailing on both. The allure of my jammies is strong, and after all this, an evening in knitting and watching bad TV is probably indicated.

Note that at no point during this post did I mention the word revising. :D


Sep. 18th, 2010 02:22 pm
1) The apartment is chilly. It gets chillier in the evenings. We go about in fuzzy socks and sweaters, and eat homemade onion soup from mugs (oh yeah, some cut-up ends of smoked gouda do really good things to an onion soup), and have a fleece blanket at the ready on the couch. We figure the landlady's waiting for the official start of fall to turn on the radiators, so we're playing the world's slowest-motion game of chicken. This is less bothersome than mildly inconveniencing. I like fleece blankets.

2) Hot bath season is officially open.

3) This weekend's cook list: cabbage rolls (cabbage and tomatoes in the farmshare this week); bread; red bean chili; Chinese eggplant with miso; tofu red curry. And something with grapes.

4) Wrote longhand for the first time in years the other night, when I was feeling antisocial and had the urge to wander and eat alone in Thai restaurants. Funny thing: it worked. It's easing me around the place I was stuck. Funnier thing: when I write longhand now, it's in the same disjointed puzzle-piece chunks that I do on the computer, and I have to string the bits together later.

5) Started back at bellydance class on Tuesday. I haven't been, for various money and time and laziness reasons, for about a year and a half. But this is a new studio (close to home), a new class system (semestered, not drop-in), and a new style (ATS, not Egyptian), so I'm hoping all that will conspire to keep me a bit more regular about it. Also the fact that I've built up some truly epic muscle strength and stamina this summer -- if you ever want to get really strong legs really easily, move a half-hour walk from work -- and I enjoy being epic and want to stay that way. Even in the winter, when I fully expect to totally wimp out and take the subway to work mornings. I notably lost stamina when I sprained my ankle back in June and was off my feet for maybe just a week, and it made me sad.

There are a lot of things about dancing that are still hardwired into my body. And there are a lot of things I have completely forgotten, and my arm strength is mildly embarrassing and I'm considering taking up bouldering to, um, get some arm strength. But I still remember how. And I still do best at this when I stop hyperanalyzing every move and piece of technical form and just set myself like a metronome to the actual music and dance.

There is a really obvious Family Ties moral-of-the-week in that, but we won't go there. It's a really nice cool crisp day, and some things are best appreciated for what they are, and not everything benefits from being interpreted for life lessons.

So. This is a story about dancing. I will tell you another after next Tuesday.
New personal thesis statement. Or new formulation of ongoing personal thesis statement:

This weekend so far I have enacted the thesis staement by buying a new pair of Fluevogs (these, to replace the pair of Mary Janes which succumbed to old age this week), narrowly avoiding another pair of Fluevogs (so! purple!), bringing home a green feather fascinator and tea and cheeses, and throwing our housewarming party with Dr. My Roommate. Our housewarming party was very good. We had music and head-to-head Dr. Mario on the NES and snacks and silly nametags and goodly amounts of people crammed into our living room drinking champagne and rum and mango iced tea until the subway stopped running. Breakfast this morning was leftover pita and hummus and fruit, while paging through Ideomancer slush in fuzzy pajamas.

This afternoon is the last of the party cleanup (minimal), scrubbing out the inbox, and work on the edit letter; maybe edit letter out of doors if I charge up the laptop and am inclined to go to Aroma. And then there's a free USS show in the evening.

This is a good kind of life to be living.

Okay, kettle's on. Dishes, e-mails, and then words.
The weather's broken here in the T-dot; it's been cooler and sunshiny with bouts of Crazy! Rain! for added flavour for the past few days (which, might I add, is really lovely when we have all the windows open at home: it sounds like you're in the last treehouse outpost of civilization during a very Bradburyesque green end of the world). My two-week-long bout of insomnia hasn't broken just yet, but the cool weather's helping: I've managed to sleep some the past few days. Not enough (wah!), but enough to work:

The window table at Aroma is mine. I will unhesitatingly cut all trespassers.

The edit has progressed into chapter four, which is a land of mostly fairly focused and isolated notes, one of the major systemic issues, and then one tricky interconnected thing that sent me back and forward in the manuscript to construct and seed a consistent rationale for a whole line of conflict that's better than because I said so. I think it works now. I'll check for soundness on the next pass.

I've also hit the point where there are a few things I need to ask my editor about: wordcount inflation and clarifications on some notes and the like. I shall bundle them up in a package with an attractive bow and e-mail them over tonight.

Otherwise, things we have been doing?

Went to a workshop in Kensington last night that was half identifying culinary and medicinal herbs that grow randomly in the downtown core and half making salve out of them; the workshop leader was, coincidentally enough, someone I went to elementary school with (see: the Only 500 Player Characters in Toronto theorem). They're doing another one on canning and pickling next month, and that's on the calendar. Afterwards, watched Proof with Dr. My Roommate, which was a startlingly chewable and amazingly well-written movie, and managed to finally deliver a late birthday present to a friend, who seemed to (yay!) really like it.

The autumn concert ticket pile has been started. Just two shows so far, but consider this to be a nice solid foundation for the fifty-floor skyscraper I'm planning.

Planning for the Most Epic Housewarming in the Universe has also started. A couple days of my time are going to be spent test-cooking party snacks very soon.

Did a stack of additional notes on Indestructible while I was feeling it the other afternoon, and have roughed the structure of the first few scenes. There is a thing in the file which could be the first line. It could not. First lines delineate and circumscribe so very much about a book. They have to be chosen with ultimate care.

Put in some work towards getting the September issue of Ideomancer ready, which will be coming to that website over there near you on, well, September 1st. I'm really pleased with the TOC on this one: it's thematically solid, but really nicely varied in terms of style and genre. We just bought a raft of really good poetry, too.

There is a cabbage as big as my head in my fridge, from last week's farmshare. Dinner tonight will be cabbage rolls. Apple coleslaw or Waldorf salad may also be in my future. It depends if I can get some decent apples on the way home.

Speaking of which, my battery has maybe 10 minutes left on it (and the downside of working at Aroma is that the plugs do not, how we say, plug), so home is where I'm going. More tonight, maybe, if my concentration keeps.
leahbobet: (gardening)
It is a long weekend here in the Workers' Paradise of Torontograd.* I am listening to the latest random countdown of best songs of whatever long on the radio and playing silly Flash games and eating pierogies while the roommate (Tick superhero name: Dr. My Roommate) steams a bunch of swiss chard in the kitchen. There is a Shadow Unit DVD extra brewing at the back of my head.

S'all good.

Have been out and about a lot this week: saw two movies (Inception, which was deeply cool and chewy but maybe not as mind-blowing for me as other people found it, and Salt, which is a very silly place and let's go to Camelot instead), went on a boat cruise through the Toronto Harbour and around the islands, had my final inspection for the old apartment, and handed over the keys. Battle Moving is officially over. I can't describe how much better it feels to only be responsible for one place of residence. I have this notion I may never go east of Yonge again unless there's a friend's place involved.

And for tonight, there is beef I need to do something with (a sort of adulterated basil beef object is being plotted), farmshare beets I need to do something with (anyone have any good recipes?) and words to write.

Back to report later if that turns out. With my metrics or on them!

*It is always a workers' paradise when you get days off.
leahbobet: (gardening)
July 21, 2010 Progress Notes:

"The Closet Monster"

Words today: 1350.
Words total: 14,900.
Reason for stopping: Draft! And right on wordcount target.

Books in progress: Evelyn Waugh, Vile Bodies; Nick Hornby, Juliet, Naked.
The glamour: We have a farm share! All the way until November! I picked up the first batch today on the way home from work: rainbow chard, green beans, heritage bell peppers, new potatoes, salad greens. Many leafy greens will sauteed for great justice (and dinner) tomorrow night. Probably with sesame oil and a bit of chopped garlic.

Today was not working out so well until I scored the farm share, which then led me to think things about salmon and white wine mustard sauce and brown rice, and then I suddenly had this wonderful dinner on my plate and it was sunny and lovely outside, not too hot or muggy, and I was full of nice food and had all evening to kill. So I went to Aroma and wrote until I ran out of battery, for alas, they have good coffee and croissants, but their plugs do not work. And then I came home with a few hundred words to go, changed into pajamas, and finished this draft. So in sum, I'm already living up to my use-name of Writes-In-Coffeeshops again, but the coffeeshops in this neighbourhood are much more plentiful, and definitely nicer to hang out in besides.

And here's a picture I didn't take: Walking along Bloor on the way home, laptop in my tote bag and the patios full of people, just breathing in all the chatter and the sweet green-grass summer evening smell and the bit of woodsmoke that always comes off the pizza oven at Hey Lucy and makes you feel like you're up north at overnight camp; a twentysomething guy on a bike went barrelling down the street, sitting up straight, arms out, balancing like a unicyclist, with the biggest, happiest shit-eating grin on his face in the history of ever.

I started laughing in the middle of the sidewalk and nearly walked into a bench.

Good save, day. We pulled that one out of the gutter real nice. Go team. *g*

Goodnight. :)
Day five in the new house:

The Ikea's all built, clothes are mostly hung up and put away (on the new clothes rack, among other things, which is why I was waiting to do it); houseplants are slowly appearing in their designated zones. My nonfiction/contributor's copies shelf is organized, the yarn and knitting stuff has scored its own little shelving unit, and the only thing still in boxes is some of the stuff that goes on my desk and some old school notebooks that I don't want to get rid of, but don't really have a place for. Yesterday, took a trip to the old place to hand over some furniture to [livejournal.com profile] theshaggy, who is graciously adopting it, and to bring over some of the few odds and ends which are still there. My old neighbourhood smells strange, harsh now. I'm already used to the grass-and-tiger-lilies smell here, laid over old hardwood.

Not yet back into writing actual words -- putting things together here is taking, as always, longer than I expect -- but I'm starting to reboot my social life, at least: spent a few hours down at the Vic tonight with a pint and some good company, and swung over to Greg's for ice cream after; also made plans with a few people for later this week, some of whom I haven't seen in way too long. All these things are very close to home now. This is really good for my soul and maybe bad for my wallet.

I can't quite figure out where my summer's gone.

Anyways, it's late. I'm sure there's a novel I'm supposed to be reading before bed. Goodnight, tubes.
Life in the last outpost of Utopia continues as it began: a little humid, liberal with the cardboard boxes, sunny.

Unpacked pretty much all the books yesterday, which takes longer than you'd think when you have to both shelve your fiction in that compulsive I-used-to-work-in-a-bookstore way (alpha by author, stand-alones alpha by title first, then series in chronological order, and there's always the debate about how you're going to treat the Mc/Mac names when you hit the M shelf) and then double-shelve so your roommate can actually have some bookshelf space too. The nonfiction isn't done yet, but the nonfic is going in my room, and I'm a little more willing at this point to have my room be a disaster area than to have the common areas that way.

We've also made it to Ikea again, bought a bunch of furniture, had furniture delivered, and built half of it (tonight, and with the help of a friend of Lindsey's). So now we have some shelves that'll be an open-concept linen closet and a couch to sit our butts on. Couch!

What we have not managed is to get the legitimate internets hooked up. The cable individual was here today, but was not helpful. Pirate wireless (and the fact that a bunch of my files are stranded on the desktop) will continue until we can sort that out. Answers to e-mail and such may be slow. Just prod me if it's urgent, honestly.

We have the radio on in here all the time.

Otherwise: I have stayed up late tonight in an attempt to actually do some work, since I have things deadlined and due, and I have done a fat lot of nothing in the last six to eight weeks. And some stuff did get done tonight, but I'm so tired my eyes are swimming, and that's even after going around the corner to Aroma for (delicious independent) coffee this evening. I seem to have the brain for it back, though, and so hopefully even with having to ferry some odds and ends from the old apartment and build more Ikea and unpack a bucket of stuff in my room, I think I will write this weekend. In the tea shop, even.

Mmm. Words.

And holy god, sleep now.
leahbobet: (gardening)
I am in the new place, perched on a dining room chair, surrounded by stacks of empty boxes and half-unpacked stuff and this laptop and a bowl of lemon spinach couscous, which is what I am eating for dinner (okay, that and some salad and some blueberries. I didn't bring over much food). The radio's on, and my towels are in the dryer downstairs, and I should probably go collect my duvet from the clothesline out back before it gets dark; the sunset's creeping along the wall of the house next door outside the window.

I am totally kick-in-the-face exhausted. All the furniture fits: better than I hoped, actually. This already feels like home.

I'm also internet-enabled, since somebody left an unsecured wireless network lying around. Thank you, anonymous neighbour! So that intermittent-until-Thursday alert is hereby cancelled.

I should get back onto my sad, sore feet and straggle down to Bloor for breakfast groceries shortly, and then grab a shower, and probably topple unceremoniously into bed after that. But this is just to say that I am here; and that it is a very strange feeling to watch the home drain slowly out of a place until it's just a couple rooms, smaller than you thought; and that the quivering stress that has been my life for the last six weeks or so is showing signs of having been very, very worth it.

This has been your wire report from Utopia, and good evening.
June 21, 2010 Progress Notes:

"The Closet Monster"

Words today: 400.
Words total: 12,300.
Reason for stopping: This is like giving birth to a nail-studded tetanus porcupine. And my back hurts and I need a hot bath before bed so it doesn't cramp up like whoa later.

Books in progress: Miguel de Cervantes, Don Quixote; John M. Ford, Web of Angels.
The glamour: Today, mild: accomplished some decluttering through various avenues, including giving away my Episode I toy lightsabers through Freecycle. Which feels like...a statement of identity, in some ways; of some things I am leaving behind. But there's no closet space at the new place, and so they have to go.

Somewhat low-energy today: I think I'm still coming off all the running around this weekend. This was the longest day of the year: maybe it just really felt like it this year.

Tomorrow after work is Ikea (!) and the acquisition of new lovely Swedish furniturestuffs for the new place. I will be getting at least a clothes rack, in the name of my new and modish open-concept closet design sensibility (see: we have no closets in the new place and I need to hang shit somewhere), and a nightstand. And maybe a rug. And a cute blue shower curtain. And...okay, forget it, I'm going to go a little nuts at Ikea and eat meatballs and spend imprudently. The material things go in, the material things go out.

Okay, bath. And book. And bed. So we may dream sweetly of allen keys.
leahbobet: (gardening)
June 14, 2010 Progress Notes:

"The Closet Monster"

Words today: 500.
Words total: 11,900.
Reason for stopping: Went out to shuttle things to the new place and then drink beer on a patio. Like you do.

Books in progress: Miguel de Cervantes, Don Quixote; John M. Ford, Web of Angels.
The glamour: Pretty copious: managed to make bread, redye my hair to its brilliant blue colour in time for the New Pornographers concert tomorrow night and write words before heading out this evening. This is what we call a good use of my time.

Okay, the patio was not actually Mexican; it was the Victory Cafe, home of both really stoned waiters and the best mac and cheese in the city. I just thought the line was funny. So there!

Managed to move over some extraneous dishes and the wire basket thing that's going to be our pantry, mostly by the good graces of [livejournal.com profile] theshaggy, who valiantly carries heavy things for and/or with me. We retired to the Victory after, had food and beer, and watched the sun set through the trees out on the patio. There was a grey and brown kitty who spent some time perched behind me on the railing inspecting some nails that weren't hammered in all the way, but she apparently didn't want to appear on film.

After that, we stopped at Greg's for ice cream (cinnamon and sweet cream, one scoop of each, thankya) and meandered homewards. I can tell I'm still a little out of shape from the ankle thing -- there's a bit of a blister coming up on the sole of my foot -- but it's a nice night for a walk: warm, breezy, a little bit humid but not much more.

I have a really good life. Maybe I don't say that enough. But yeah: I have a really, really good life.

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