lolaraincoat: (snowshoe hare)

Garter snakes and Flemish Beauties. Also, some health stuff, so: warning for mention of bodily fluids. )

lolaraincoat: (tomato)
So here's how Fishwhistle and I watch TV: on DVDs, one show at a time, and a whole season at a gulp. We are nothing if not committed. We watched all of Dollhouse, even, which I believe makes us the only people in the whole wide world who did, including the show runners. We were complaining all the while, but we watched it. We are picky about what we watch, but once we start, we finish. The only exception was The Wire, because we got to the season where the whole season was going to be about the sociopathic children in peril, and ... yeah, no, couldn't do it. Even though we thought the first three seasons of The Wire were the best tv ever. Anyway, my point: we are tv completists.

So, because so many of you all had expressed enthusiasm about Fringe - and also because there was no more Mad Men left to watch - we sat through all of the first season of Fringe, waiting for it to get good. (And the very last episode was a little better.) We were encouraged because a few people told us that it gets good in season two, like really good, and also because Lance Reddick, and also I swear somebody told me that the star, Anna Torv, is queer and out, although my friend Mr. Google tells me otherwise. And Leonard Nimoy. And I guess Marcus Giamatti? Who I went to grade school with, so that's nice, that he is working and all.

Anyway we are now five episodes into season two, and - is it supposed to be better already? Are we missing the betterness? It might be better, but I just can't tell. We're going to keep watching it, because that is how we roll (I've been waiting for years for a chance to use that phrase. So satisfying.) But can we hope for better from, say, episodes six through fifteen, or whatever?


In happier news, the tomatoes are starting to get ripe and it looks like this will be a good year for them.
lolaraincoat: (leap!)
Hello, hellllloooooo ...

well I see that there will be more Potter ... something ... from JK Rowling, and that seems as good a reason as any to dust this journal off.

Besides I meant to tell you all about this amazing book project which I got to write a chapter for, Harry Potter and History. I've never had more fun doing academic work than writing my chapter for this book, and I can't say anything about my own work here, but the other chapters are delightful: funny, erudite, full of peculiar details. You all are pretty much the proper audience for the book, so please go buy multiple copies. We want to encourage the publisher to do more. Wouldn't a Mad Men and History book be a wonderful thing? It's highly unlikely, but it would be wonderful, is my point. Meanwhile, though, this book is fabulous.

Meanwhile, in case you were looking for me, I am hanging out a bit at Twitter and a lot at Ta-Nehesi Coates's blog, under this name, and then on Facebook under my real name. But now, since it is a lovely day and the tomatoes are weedy, I am going out to do a little gardening.
lolaraincoat: (tomato)
Me: Hey, [profile] fishwhistle! Look at this! The Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis is back in fashion again!

Fishwhistle, skeptically: ...

Me: No, look! It's right here in the Times! Man, you wait long enough, any old idea comes around again.

Fishwhistle, speedily: The flat earth theory?

Me, after an awkward pause: Just wait. I bet sooner or later some bit of string theory or fancy programing language will require a flat-earth frame of reference.

Fishwhistle, grumpily: ...


In other news, today is Getting Ready for Grape-Juice-Making-Day Day, and sheep poop was involved. Tomorrow is the Great Day of Grape Juice itself, and if you can get here in the next week or so - because the juice only lasts about three weeks - we would be delighted to give you some. It's usually pretty good and we always have way more than we can drink. And this year, because we have hired ourselves a Hired Hand, we will have more than usual - in previous years we've gotten too tired to go on before we've juiced even half the ridiculously large amount of otherwise-inedible grapes from the back yard.

It's been a good year for the grapes, too. Also beets (last week I made myself quite ill by eating a couple of pounds of beet tzatziki and pretty much nothing else over the course of 36 hours or so, but it was so good! Not quite as good as the beet tzatziki that [personal profile] idlerat makes, but pretty close) and onions, most herbs except cilantro, garlic, cape gooseberries, chard, raspberries, arugala, rhubarb and chiles. Not so good for tomatoes, lettuce, and apricots, but no summer is perfect, right? And since I was too crippled to do much besides stick everything in the ground and hope for the best, it's amazing we got anything at all.


In other other news, my ex-girlfriend (some people referred to her at the time as the Spawn of Satan, which was possibly a slander on some of Satan's other children, but never mind that now) has been for some time the chief drama critic for a high-circulation tabloid newspaper in a Major Metropolitan Area, which is kind of hilarious as long as you have no connection to whatever it is she's reviewing. But now, sources tell me, she is also contributing criticism to NPR. I've been listening and listening - even going so far as to Google - but so far nothing. I will keep you posted.


And finally, a little further away, a way-too-brief visit to the New York Area reminded me that the best thing about New York is not the art or the walking around or the shopping or the brilliant acupuncture (check out People's Acupuncture of Brooklyn, the beauty and helpfulness of which I cannot even describe in words) or the fabulous music of many descriptions, much of it made by friends, or even the astonishing food (and there was some truly astonishing food, the best of which came from the gardens and/or kitchens of friends) but the chance to just hang out with the people I love. I miss you all already! Thank you so much for the wonderful acupuncture treatment and music and food and letting me stay in your apartments and most of all your company!


And now to rinse off the sheep poop and boil some more jars. Hey look! I posted!

lolaraincoat: (leap!)
I am supposed to be getting a replacement computer from Spork very soon. I have been in the state of supposed to be getting a replacement computer for some months now. There has already been the ritual grovel at the IT office, and a lengthy discussion of voice recognition software. There has been no communication from the IT office at all, though, for about six weeks. Time for more grovelling, probably.

Meanwhile, this computer on which I am now typing, which is my own and not Spork's, and is elderly but has a newish hard drive, is not getting any younger. It has taken to crashing, but only the screen crashes; sounds continue to come out. Today this happened in the middle of a YouTube video of Chumbawumba playing Tubthumping at Glastonbury, which I had clicked on by mistake. Tubthumping continued to play from the speakers for some minutes even after I had closed the computer, and when I turned the computer back on, it had deleted four Word files I had been working on. I blame the anarchists. Seriously, I had better go grovel some more at the IT office.

Also on YouTube today I learned that at some point in the last presidential administration, Billy Bragg had rewritten most of "Waiting for the Great Leap Forward" in ways that I found unfortunate. Not much rhymes with Rumsfeld, it turns out. So.

Yesterday in the parking lot of the Staples where I park when I am going to the acupuncturist, I found a couple of cds - a compilation of music from New Orleans, and some random Christian rock. I was going to play them, but now I'm wondering if they were put there by anarchists, to crash my computer. What? It could happen!

I am very gradually getting better from my shoulder injury (a combination of bursitis, tendonitis, torn muscle, frayed muscle, and arthritis in both shoulder joints and the elbow, aren't you sorry you asked? martial artists, don't spend too much time with the punching bag, the end) but still taking a lot of drugs, which make me loopy and unable to work well some of the time, so I am on sick leave, which leaves me lots of time for random poking around on YouTube for Billy Bragg videos. But also! I have been reading. And so I say:

Everybody should go read The City & the City right away. And then tell me what you think! I loved it immoderately, much more even than I loved the Perdido Street trilogy, which I loved, but maybe that's just the drugs talking?

Also, [personal profile] twotoedsloth sent me a link to an article from this journal, which looks pretty interesting for you fan studies people out there - -
in that it seems to position its contents as empirically based in opposition to the overly abstract cinema studies and fan studies schools. Which is to say that there's a whole scholarly wank out there of which I have been unaware up to now. But they seem to agree with me that there are no spectators, as in flesh and blood people watching a movie, in the spectatorship literature and that this is a bad thing, so ... well, anyway, potentially interesting journal, is all.

I've been too crippled to do much gardening this year, but the tomatoes are doing all right anyway. I put them in pots instead of in the ground, so far fewer problems with blight, but we are getting fewer of them so far and they're smaller. Tigerella tomatoes are my new favorite, though.

Hey! I updated my LJ/DW! Whoo!
lolaraincoat: (tomato)
So I have had a migraine on and off for about a week now. It has stubbornly resisted the usual drugs, but last night it went away after I had three bowls of tomato soup for dinner. I don't know if any warm salty liquid would have done the job, or if maybe the migraine just decided to go away temporarily anyhow, or if it was this soup, but just in case ...

here is a recipe for excellent tomato soup if I do say so myself )
lolaraincoat: (tomato)
So I have spent the past twenty-four hours or so coming down with a flu, and thus being unable to get very much done that I needed to get done and also not thinking too clearly. This, obviously, was precisely the right time to finish up getting the vegetable beds in. So I want to record here, before the fever gets any worse and I forget everything, exactly what's back there - especially the tomatoes. This may be very dull for you, so maybe you shouldn't click here )

As usual all this planting required way more fertilizer than our compost heap produced: we have gone through almost 120 liters of sheep manure plus some bone meal, so far. I've been watering almost every day, too, because it has been so dry for the past few weeks. So that's not very ecologically-minded - lots of heavy resources being trucked around to make this garden. On the other hand we are already in the time of year where a significant component of every supper has come out of the garden, and that will continue to be true until late October. Somewhere, Al Gore and David Suzuki are smiling at us. Me, I am smiling at the lilacs.
lolaraincoat: (tomato)
There's still quite a lot of life in the garden this fall. This weekend I gathered up beets, onions, chard, herbs, tomatillos, strawberries, raspberries, and tomatoes. The tomatoes were mostly green but it seemed like time to bring them in to finish ripening. We'll get some more raspberries, squash and tomatillos before frost kills everything, some chiles, and maybe another eggplant. Oh, and the greens from the sweet potato vine, we need to eat those up too. There are figs on the fig tree but the frost will set in before they ripen, same as last year, and they won't ripen if I pick them green. Figs are fussy.

And there's still plenty of flowers: nastursium, mums, marigolds, morning glories, black-eyed Susans, thyme, a few stray roses still hanging on.

Last winter, and this summer too, were colder and a lot wetter than we usually get around here. That meant the grapes and apricots were unusually plentiful but not strongly flavored, unfortunately. And the peppers and tomatoes just hated it - they suffered from the lack of sunlight, and also from the slugs and snails we got in such abundance. (Are those kind of snails edible? Because if so, if they come back next summer I'm cooking them, purely in the spirit of revenge.) But this year's apples - not, alas, apples grown by us, but the local apples - are astonishing: big, crisp, sweet but not too sweet, intensely flavored. Apple trees love a hard winter, someone told me once, and it's true.

A raccoon, or something raccoonesque, has been knock over the garbage bin that the wet trash goes into, to get at the chicken bones (we think.) I am trying to regard this as a good thing: raccoons who are eating our garbage are too busy to be eating the zillion tulip bulbs I just planted. In other urban-farmer-lifestyle news, I've been in touch with these folks, who will come harvest your backyard fruit in my neighborhood if it all gets to be too much for you and donate the results to charity. So next year, if they decide to add grapes to their list, maybe we'll get some help with the horrible arbor that is totally the worst thing ever, I mean it.

Yesterday Fishwhistle cut the grass for what will likely be the last time this year. Tomorrow we'll put the backyard table and chairs in the garage, take down the air conditioners and put them in a closet, finish pulling up the tomato plants, clean out the wheelbarrow, pop some rosemary and parsley into a pot for a well-lit windowsill ... it's been a warm, sunny weekend, but it's time to get ready for winter now.

lolaraincoat: (tomato)
So here is a conversation that [ profile] fishwhistle and I actually had while halfway through the dread annual chore of picking the grapes off the trellis:

me: Augh! I got grape juice in my eyebrows!

Fishwhistle: ...

me: It's not funny!

Fishwhistle: well, but it -

me: You know, if we were migrant farm workers we could blame The Man for our sufferings.

Fishwhistle: ...

me: It would be the system keeping us down by forcing us to pick grapes all day long.

Fishwhistle: ...

me: And we could dream that someday Cesar Chavez would come and liberate us from all this.

Fishwhistle: Isn't he -

me: Okay, well, the ghost of Cesar Chavez, all right? Anyway my point is, who is it who forces us to spend hours and hours picking grapes?

Fishwhistle: We do?

me: Exactly! We coerce our own selves!

Fishwhistle, dubiously: So you're saying we're working for Domain Foucault?

me, bitterly: Yes! This is the terroir of Bourdieu!

Fishwhistle: ...

me: Man! It sucks being middle class!


in other garden news )


And I need some cooking advice:

So, I have here a small basket of peaches (grown locally but not by me) and some backyard raspberries. And soon I will have a metric buttload of grape juice, once I go through the tedious process of making it. I was thinking that I could boil up the peaches and raspberries in the grape juice and it might turn into a nice jam? Do you think that would work?

lolaraincoat: (Brooklyn Bridge)
So I have been meaning to write up my Deep Thoughts about our trip last month to western Crete, Athens, and Istanbul - thoughts about nationalisms and histories, continuities and discontinuties in uses of the material remains of the past, grilled fish, 19th c. archeology as the ruination of ruins, the spiritual uses of beauty, the ways in which physics conferences differ from history conferences, the fabulous generosity of Islamic architecture, "Europe" as a category of analysis, and the globalization of weeds - but I can see that's not going to happen. Instead, here, look at the nice pictures. )
lolaraincoat: (tomato)
So Fishwhistle and I went to hear this concert last Sunday because really who can resist music about modernist architecture? Plus also a really good excuse to visit the Polish Combatants Hall, which was both swampy and glorious. But the second act - Allen Bloor, a.k.a. Knurl - turned out to consist of extremely well-amplified concrete blocks being thumped against each other or scraped against a table, and it was indescribably, unimaginably, unbearably loud. No, louder than that. NO, SERIOUSLY, LOUDER. We lasted through about three-quarters of it, then fled. It was sublime (no, it was!) but wow, it was too much for me.

Also in the category of Art Experiences I Have Not Been Able to Tolerate Lately: we rented Eastern Promises, and the first two scenes just did me in. It was gorgeous and interesting and I couldn't watch any more.

And ... I have been in trying to work up a good segue here, but I got nothing, so, whatever. Mean to say, garden news:

More plants that never bloomed before are getting ready to bloom now: poppies! wisteria! this is so exciting that it inspired me to dig up another huge section of the front lawn this weekend. Now the dying hydrangas in the back are no longer strangled and hidden in darkness, but they might die anyway of tranplantation shock. I will water them diligently, and hope.

Also I have planted more types of tomatoes, due to greediness. Now we will have Black Krim and Purple Cherokee and German Gold and Rainbow and Zapotec Pink and Glamour and Lemon Boy and Green Zebra and Green Cherokee and Purple Zebra and Feuerwerke and Yellow Pear and probably some others that I forgot. If all these tomatoes could sing and dance they could form a Village People tribute band, with names like those.

lolaraincoat: (tomato)
So far this year nearly everything seems to have survived that difficult winter except for the one hapless peach tree, and some things are thriving that never, ever thrive.

Irises, for instance. )

And apricots! )

The sage, which never lives through a winter, not only lived but is about to flower. I've never gotten sage to flower before. Huh. Now if that stupid wisteria vine would only bloom, my springtime of well-mannered flowers would be complete.

And then we got another tree. )

My gardening-guru friend warned me that the city might fine us for moving the tree, but I say if they didn't want us to move the tree they should have planted it last year before the water-mains broke.

Meanwhile, because I am greedy ... )

I can't remember if I've mentioned it here before - probably not - but for the past few years I've tried to get a measurable fraction of the food we eat out of our tiny garden, which has one sunny bed roughly 12' x 6' and another roughly 8' x 6'. I'm not maximizing production, since I won't use weedkillers (except for my trusty trowel) or petroleum-based fertilizer, and since I go for taste over quantity, and since I plant a lot of herbs and flowers which in theory we could use for teas or salads - mums, chamomille, echinechea, rue - but really are there only to look pretty and attract bees. None the less we got probably half the vegetables we ate all year last year out of the garden, and I'm cautiously optimistic that we'll do a little better than that this summer.

It stopped raining just now, and now robins are hopping all over the back garden looking for worms. The bastards! Those are my worms!

lolaraincoat: (tomato)
It was too beautiful a day to go to the gym so instead I left work early and went to the garden center, where just as I hoped, the heirloom tomato plants had arrived. So I spent two hours digging holes, pulling weeds, and hauling sand and sheep manure - and probably got as much exercise as I would have on the elliptical trainer. Look! Tomatoes! And MORE! )

Do you think there might be a prize for most boring lj entry of the week? Because I think that this post might be a serious contender.

lolaraincoat: drawing, two leaves (green)
So we have a whole lot of sorrel in the garden right now. What should I do with it? Put it in a mouth-puckering salad? Cook it? How?
lolaraincoat: (green (rosemary))
Hey, look! A post that is not about Remix! Go me!

So, Mr. Adorno, you're telling me that ideological agreement should trump esthetic judgement? )

Reading Little Brother did make me think that I want to read novels about the characters at its margins - the people stuck in off-shore prisons without habeus corpus rights, the teachers unable to figure out what to say to their students about the national-security state, the military recruiters ... I'm just not as interested in the technologically-empowered (white, male, young) activists. Maybe it's just that I feel like I know their story already.

Meanwhile back in the garden... )

All of this gardening was made complicated by my desire to not drive anywhere this weekend, because of the surprise public transit strike that began midnight Friday. There was going to be a strike last week, but then they called it off, but instead the union went out with less than two hours' notice Friday night. Luckily every one of the eighteen guests who came to dinner on Friday (yes, Ratty, it was a potluck) had carpooled or walked or biked or taken the suburban trains from out of town, so they could all get home all right.

My still-new-ish job, it appears, turns into an eighty-hour-a-week monster in February and March and some of April, and last week was still a very long one, but things are winding down now, so that's good. And it's been interesting - so interesting, in fact, that it will have to wait for a less public post.
lolaraincoat: drawing, two leaves (green)
Mystery the first )

Mystery the second )

Mystery the third, the one with the answer )

Special bonus cat mystery: I thanked my gardening guru with a grocery bag full of beets, beet greens and kale. She brought it inside the house and placed it on the floor while we had a drink. Our very shyest cat, the one who never goes near strangers normally and is kind of a picky eater, came right up to the bag and started pulling out the beet greens and purring. I shooed him away. He looked at me reproachfully and -- this is the truly strange bit -- came right back and did it some more. (Normally shooing away can lead to him hiding under a couch for days, you understand.)

He really, really wanted those beet greens. The other two cats -- including our cat who likes to eat houseplants and grass outside, because his hobby is puking -- ignored them. Why would a cat become obsessed with beet greens? What is going on in his little kitty head?
lolaraincoat: (tomato)
I just wanted a record of what came out of the garden yesterday evening:

a few rasberries and about two dozen apricots
raddiccio, Bibb, and Boston lettuce
string beans and yellow pole beans
about a pint of cherry tomatoes
herbs: tarragon, chives, several kinds of parsley, chervil
beets and beet greens
chiles: cubanelle and one other smallish red round kind

Also, could have harvested these but left them growing for a bit longer:

many other kinds of herbs
more beets
more onions
Swiss chard and red chard
nastursium, marigold, chamomille, violets, rose hips

Still waiting to ripen:

acorn squash
pumpkin (I think - it's a mystery vine)
six other varieties of tomato
sweet yellow peppers
habanero chiles
Cape gooseberries
sorrel and French sorrel
more zucchinni
fennel bulbs
brussels sprouts

Not going to get any this year at all, but next year will be different:


Why do I do all this crazy academic nonsense when clearly I'm destined for greengocery?

lolaraincoat: drawing, two leaves (green)
Tonight for dinner we ate a miraculously good salad, mostly from the garden. Here's what we did. )


If we'd waited for the apricots to ripen, we could have gotten this entire meal but for the chicken, cous-cous and pine nuts from the garden. Oh, and the olive oil.

I guess if we got seriously into it we could press cooking oil from the grapeseeds that the grapevine provides in such quantity. And we could easily keep chickens in the garage, which would be great because then we wouldn't need to buy chickenshit from the garden center for fertilizer. Do pine nuts actually come from pines? because then we could just plant the right kind of pine tree out front (where the city has, in fact, promised that they're going to plant a linden for us this fall.)

Fresh tarragon this time of year is so powerful that it's hard to believe it's legal.
lolaraincoat: drawing, two leaves (green)
I have little to add to what more diligent researchers and fen have already posted about the whole FanLib horror show. For my own reference, because surely you've all seen this already, this is what [ profile] cordelia_v had to say about it and here is Henry Jenkins' take on the matter. Both of these (along with the relevant post in Making Light) refer to [ profile] icarusancalion's thorough, clear synthesis of the sordid mess, which is here.

All I want to say is that this story demonstrates once again that among the many mystical properties of post-industrial capitalism is the magical power to transform regular people into lying, manipulative, creepy scumballs.


In happier fannish news, Fishwhistle and I are rewatching Buffy, beginning to end, and I'm loving Season Two even more than I did the first time. It's so carefully thought out, in almost every detail! We caught one bobble in the editing, but otherwise, wow, perfect. There's a scene in "Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered" where Xander is trying to persuade Amy to cast the love spell for him, having dragged her into a classroom for the purpose, and behind him we see a "Great British Authors" poster on the wall. He has, for a moment, Dickens on one shoulder and Shakespeare on the other. Perfect.

In "Passion," a few episodes later, there's a scene in which Buffy insists to Giles that she has to warn her mother about the danger Angel poses. And behind her? A poster advertising "self-defense classes!" Perfect again.

And the coherence of the entire season! Even the supposedly stand-alone episodes are joined by a thematic thread: the dangers of virginity/the dangerous virgin. Amy's mistake in casting the spell is that she invokes Diana (!) as a godess of love; the Inca mummy girl was a virgin sacrifice; Ted's evil scheme is defeated because Buffy, wiser than Persephone, won't eat his cookies. It's such a pleasure to see that fairy-tale motif inverted, upended, and bounced around like a red rubber ball.


I've been reading the Season Eight comics and liking them very much, except that I'm not crazy about their Xander. Yeah, yeah, I get the Nick Fury thing. And it's interesting to see what the Buffy creators do with the character without the actor's contribution. But it turns out that Nicholas Brendon brought a lot to the show; without him, Xander's just ... a cartoon.


One last Whedon-y thing:

This rant on the topic of cell-phone film of a so-called honor killing and depictions of misogynist violence generally makes me love Whedon even more than I already did. I mean, yes, it is pretty much Women's Studies 101 c. 1983, and yes, it is kinda gender-essentialist, with which position I strongly disagree. But what other powerful man in Hollywood is asking these questions, even if he's coming to the wrong conclusions?


So I've been weeding and planting and mulching and pruning and generally playing in the glorious May sunshine these past few days, and I find myself singing a not especially good gospel song by the Queens of Harmony: I expect a miracle! Every day! God will make a way out of no way!. Now, you know, I'm agnostic (and no offense intended to the more committed atheists [hi Ratty!] or believers [Cordelia! Fab! Femme! hello!] who might be reading this) but if I was looking for a miracle I would see it in the garden. It's the most ordinary part of life, and the weirdest too: green everywhere, all of a sudden, in May, conjured up by rain and sunlight and the passing of time.
lolaraincoat: (green (rosemary))
One of the ways that I know we had a warm winter by local standards is that so much survived in the garden that I expected would not. It was our first full winter in this house, so I'm just getting used to how our grounds work. Maybe our excellent soil, good light, and -- at least in the back garden -- relatively protected site had something to do with it too?

Anyway here's what made it through the winter in the front gardens )

And here's what survived in the back )

My goal for the garden, eventually, is to have mainly perennials, front and back, and to replace as much of our front lawn as possible with flower beds. With that in mind, we planted these flowers: )

But that still left us with a lot of room in the back. We filled up a little space with rhubarb plants and a rasberry bush, which are perennial and will take up more room in years to come -- a lot more room in the case of the rasberry if we're not careful. Most of the remaining space, though, is filled with vegetables and herbs. ).

We planted all of that over the last two weeks, which probably explains my sore back. Well, that and the weeding -- the thistles also survived the winter, curse them. There's still a little patch of the vegetable plot open, waiting for the heirloom tomatoes, and quite a lot of the shaded flower bed which will need ... something, but I don't know what yet. And some pots in the sunshine which I'm thinking of filling with morning glory and nastursium.

It turns out that watercress is a member of the nastursium family, that's what I learned yesterday. How about that?


lolaraincoat: (Default)

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