Log in

No account? Create an account
16 January 2015 @ 09:17 am
If you want to find my fic, the best place to look is at my user page at AO3, where all my fic is archived. There is also a chronological index of the Vorkosigan fic, which is most of it. Or you can look through the tags here.

I am no longer updating this list, but I will keep it in case it's useful to anyone.
Fic hereCollapse )
14 March 2018 @ 01:35 pm
I started this fic ages ago (though it's not by any means one of the oldest of my WIPs) when the book came out, and managed to finish it off today. Ivan and Simon get drunk and talk about porn. It's canon! I spent a long time struggling for a title for it and then noticed the title of one of the songs that I'd had on repeat, and that fit it embarrassingly well, so here it is, and here's the song if you're curious: Vive l'amour by Le Vent du Nord (aka my latest folk music love). I seem to be on a bit of a writing roll at the moment. Perhaps it's the new house. I'm enjoying it, anyway.

Title: Vive l'amour
Summary: Ivan and Simon get drunk and talk about porn.

On AO3

long live loveCollapse )

Crossposted at https://philomytha.dreamwidth.org/151252.html. There are comment count unavailable comments there.
11 March 2018 @ 12:29 pm
Happy Mother's Day! And I hope that not too many of you spent all night up with a small boy with suspected tonsillitis. I am feeling more than usually like a zombie this morning, and poor Cub got out of bed at 7am claiming he was fine and wanted me to build Lego with him, and by 9am he was back asleep in bed dosed with Calpol. Doctor for him if it doesn't go away soon.

But we're making headway on the house. Yesterday we had two new sofas arrive, and also Mr P finished building my compost bins, and last week the gasman cometh and repaired the leaky boiler and serviced the hot water system that hadn't been serviced in donkey's years and took one look at the decorative gas fire and started muttering 'oh, I don't like this, I really don't like this' under his breath and told me that if I didn't let him disconnect it right now he was going to have to ask me to sign a disclaimer saying that he'd advised me to have it disconnected, because apparently it's the variety that's been illegal to fit for the past twenty years on account of how it spews gas into your house if you look at it funny and takes your eyebrows off when you try to light it. So that's disconnected now and my eyebrows are safe.

On the subject of gas, does anyone have views on gas cookers vs electric ones? We're going to replace the kitchen here ultimately, and right now it has a small gas cooker. Back at the old house I had a big dual fuel range cooker, gas hobs and electric ovens, and I thought that was best. But now I've tried the gas oven, and I don't know. I still find it a bit alarming having a fire at the back of my oven, and it's frustrating because the heat doesn't circulate like it does in an electric fan oven, so I can't fill it full of stuff and expect it all to cook, but my pastry is suddenly coming out amazing. I always thought I was just a bit rubbish at pastry, but every single pie I've put into this gas oven has come out like a dream, and my bread is better, and my pizza, and my roasts too. Cakes are still a bit hit and miss, but I think I will figure it out. But I miss being able to put a roast in and the potatoes and a tray of vegetables and cook them all at once. So I don't know what I want. I found a range cooker that has gas hobs and two gas ovens alongside an electric slow-cook oven and electric grill, which might be exactly what I want. I am very underwhelmed by the gas grill on this oven, and I am too scared of having an actual flame at the back of my oven to turn it to the lowest setting and leave it on when I go out or overnight, which is what I did with my slow-cook oven. Is there a way to make pastry as amazing as this in an electric oven, bearing in mind that I had an electric oven for a decade and didn't figure it out? Obviously gas hobs are superior in every way, I've never cooked on an electric hob that wasn't a complete nuisance, apart from the induction one I used once that was fast but weird and way too clever for its own good. But I'm now in doubt about the superiority of electric ovens. So any experiences or views on gas vs electric for ovens would be great.

Crossposted at https://philomytha.dreamwidth.org/150937.html. There are comment count unavailable comments there.
Tags: , ,
07 March 2018 @ 02:28 pm
So it's been, to use a technical term, bloody freezing here for the past week. It's thawed and warmed up now, but for a while we had -10 C and eight inches of snow on the ground, and everything was shut down. No laughing, you people where that constitutes a balmy winter's day, up till recently I don't think we've had more than one or two night frosts this winter, and that's usual for this part of the world, Cub had never even seen real snow in his life before. So we had the kids home from school and they discovered sledging and snow shovelling but not snowmen or snowballs because it was too dry and powdery to be any good for that, and then we had freezing rain which created a thin layer of ice over absolutely everything, which was something I don't recall ever seeing before. Now they've discovered slush. I expect that's it for the next decade or so, unless this arctic warming really does kill the jet stream and send the polar cold here regularly. But anyway, along with all the playing out in the snow and wrapping up in three layers of wool sweaters, I have done the inevitable and written a huddling-for-warmth fic. I nearly wrote something dramatic and exciting, but then I decided I've been cruel enough to the characters lately, so I wrote fluff instead. Well, mostly fluff. Enjoy!

Title: Snow Day
Summary: Cordelia's first day of snow

On AO3

Read more...Collapse )

Crossposted at https://philomytha.dreamwidth.org/150575.html. There are comment count unavailable comments there.
03 March 2018 @ 10:28 pm
Partway through watching last week's Endeavour (don't spoil me for the ending, we got interrupted by Philomythulus having a meltdown and by the time I got him calmed down Mr P had given up and gone to bed) and oh holy shit the bit with Colonel Macduff and his CO singing Flowers of the Forest to him, oh my HEART.

Crossposted at https://philomytha.dreamwidth.org/150306.html. There are comment count unavailable comments there.
19 February 2018 @ 04:34 pm
I didn't sign up for this exchange, what with the house move and all, but when I saw frith_in_thorns requesting Illyan h/c fic, I really couldn't stop myself :-). And as I said, stress makes me write, so after I wrote that one I came up with the post-Pretendership fic for sophiegaladheon, and I also happened across within_a_dream's The Halcyon request, which was for exactly what I'd been vaguely thinking about writing after that show ended. So that's how I somehow wrote about ten thousand words in the month I moved house.

Recalibration, Aral/Simon/Cordelia fade-to-black h/c fic, 6000 words
Illyan has spent a month inside his own prison.

Shakedown Visit, gen, 2000 words, Aral, Simon and Cordelia again
After Vordarian, it takes time to rebuild, both buildings and trust.

Lex Talionis, gen, 1500 words
You shouldn't have come back for me. Lady Hamilton and Mr Garland, immediately after the finale.

For those of you who don't know The Halcyon, it's a short, cancelled (all the best TV shows are cancelled these days) TV drama about the fortunes of a grand hotel in London at the start of the Blitz. It's a bit like Downton Abbey, twenty years later and moved to London and gained a more diverse cast (among other things, there is a very sweet interracial gay romance). I don't know how well the fic reads if you haven't seen the show, but you're welcome to try!

Crossposted at https://philomytha.dreamwidth.org/149878.html. There are comment count unavailable comments there.
15 February 2018 @ 09:17 am
We are all moved in and starting to feel a little less like we're camping here and a bit more like we're living here. Philomythulus continues to ask if we're moving back again, and I'm not sure if this is because he wants to or because he doesn't want to, but I am currently running through it about twenty times a day with him and hopefully it'll settle in eventually. The cat was very unimpressed at first, but seems to be reconciling himself to the change, though he remains convinced that the catflap here is an evil conspiracy to chop his tail off. There's lots to do to get this house how we'd like it, but in the meantime it's perfectly liveable. So it's all gone about as well as possible, really. Best moment: while packing up approximately thirty boxes of books, one of the removal men turns to me and says rather plaintively, you know, a lot of people have Kindles nowadays. I didn't mention that I do have a Kindle and it has several hundred more books on it. Most of the books are all still in boxes, as Mr P has grand plans for a built-in bookshelf all down the length of one room, and as yet this bookshelf is a pile of lumber in the garage, so I'm quite grateful for my Kindle at the moment.

So we're in, and it's all okay, but it has been quite a stressful time. And as I've said before, one of my responses to stress is writing a lot, and this time what I wrote were three treat-fics for the Chocolate Box exchange. I think doing horrible things to my characters and then giving them happy endings is very soothing, I can control how much misery they get and make it all come right in the end. Anyway, there are three fics, and two of them are not particularly anonymous, but if anyone spots the third they can leave me a ficlet prompt, preferably in the same fandom :-D

Crossposted at https://philomytha.dreamwidth.org/149682.html. There are comment count unavailable comments there.
Yuletide reveals!

First off, my four (FOUR! In ALL the fandoms I requested, is this the best Yuletide ever or what?) fic were by [personal profile] fleurlb who wrote both my Happy Valley gift A Boy's Best Friend, and also wrote me another Happy Valley treat, Pushing Buttons. Then [personal profile] kangeiko wrote me a Laundry Files fic, Ravenous, and [personal profile] lferion wrote me a complete surprise Madness fic for The Nancy, Powder Black and White. Thank you all so much, you are all wonderful!

I wrote three fics. One will not surprise anyone, no points for guessing that I finished Three's Company in time to sneak it into Madness for the lovely [personal profile] sunlit_stone. Another, also fairly obvious, was around the lake, around the world for nomeancity, who managed to request FOUR fandoms I love with great prompts for all of them, so I really had to write a treat for one of them, and I figured Sharing Knife was the one nobody else would write. And then there was my assignment, for [personal profile] yhlee, A Marvellous Party. Writing for a well-known author is a little intimidating, but it was clear from reading through old DW entries that [personal profile] yhlee was going to be an absolutely lovely recipient, which made it easier. I really tried to write a Choose Your Own Adventure fic for Aral/Ges, branching off into dark!Aral and redeemed!Ges and all the other possibilities, including both of them dying several times, but trying to write that broke my brain, so I went back to good old start at the beginning and keep going to the end storytelling. But there's a little standalone scene from somewhere in a sort-of-redeemed!Ges AU that I liked, so that's below the cut (unusually for Ges, no warnings apply).

Ges at KomarrCollapse )

Crossposted at https://philomytha.dreamwidth.org/148986.html. There are comment count unavailable comments there.
26 December 2017 @ 11:48 am
Another Yuletide fic for me, what an embarrassment of riches this year! I had a complete surprise this morning when I got an email telling me there was a Madness fic for me, and better yet, it was for The Nancy! I did not expect anything for that crazy prompt, but I have an absolute gem of a fic here to read, which takes my misheard song and turns it into a brilliant fic, complete with MacIntosh/Maxwell slash.

Powder Black and White (1504 words) by Anonymous
Chapters: 1/1
Fandom: The Nancy - Stan Rogers (Song)
Rating: Mature
Warnings: No Archive Warnings Apply
Relationships: Captain Alexander Mackintosh/Captain Maxwell
Characters: Captain Alexander Mackintosh, Captain Maxwell
Additional Tags: Yuletide, Yuletide 2017, Yuletide Madness Drabble Invitational, Drabble Sequence, Boats and Ships, Black Powder, Hair-powder

What clothes men wear do give them airs, the fellows do compare.
A colonel's regimentals shine, and women call him fair.
I am Alexander MacIntosh, nephew to the Laird
And I do disdain men who are vain, the men with powdered hair

Crossposted at https://philomytha.dreamwidth.org/148523.html. There are comment count unavailable comments there.
25 December 2017 @ 05:22 pm
Happy Christmas! We're having a very good day here apart from the 4.30am wake-up because apparently the older Cub gets the more excited about Christmas he gets. But as I think I said last year, it's karma because when I was his age, I was the one up at 4.30 and I think my parents were only a little grumpy about it, so I was only a little grumpy with Cub, and decreed it to be daytime at 6.30. And my guests have been fed and entertained and apart from a few moments with Philomythulus it's been a very calm day.

And it's also Yuletide! I have three (THREE) fics, and they are wonderful and all for fandoms I've asked for multiple times and never got.

First off, my lovely gift, Catherine and Ryan getting a dog together, which is everything I pictured this fic would be.

A Boy's Best Friend (3087 words) by Anonymous
Chapters: 1/1
Fandom: Happy Valley (TV)
Rating: General Audiences
Warnings: No Archive Warnings Apply
Characters: Catherine Cawood, Clare Cartwright, Ryan Cawood
Additional Tags: Nature Versus Nurture, Dogs

A dog might be a boy's best friend, but Catherine is damned if she's going to be the one looking after it.

Then, a wonderful bit of Catherine looking out for Ann, with some great police details

Pushing buttons (1402 words) by Anonymous
Chapters: 1/1
Fandom: Happy Valley (TV)
Rating: General Audiences
Warnings: No Archive Warnings Apply
Characters: Catherine Cawood, Ann Gallagher
Additional Tags: Yuletide Treat, Friendship, Mentors

After an incident with a scrote, Catherine takes Ann out for some non-traditional mentoring.

And finally but by no means last, a Laundry Files fic, full of h/c and wonderful details of Angleton's backstory and him helping Bob through a very complicated time.

Ravenous (4391 words) by Anonymous
Chapters: 1/1
Fandom: The Laundry Files - Charles Stross
Rating: Mature
Warnings: Graphic Depictions Of Violence
Relationships: Bob Howard & James Angleton (The Laundry Files)
Characters: James Angleton (The Laundry Files), Bob Howard
Additional Tags: The Fuller Memorandum, Canon-Typical Violence, Yuletide Treat

After the graveyard, Bob wakes up hungry. Angleton tries to help.

I've only finished two stories this year, but if the 4.30 start means we have an early bedtime tonight, there's a mostly-finished third fic that might sneak into Madness under the wire...

Crossposted at https://philomytha.dreamwidth.org/148317.html. There are comment count unavailable comments there.
26 October 2017 @ 08:17 am
Here is the Vorhalas fic! It's for the wild card of my h/c bingo, because when I looked down the list of prompts, 'forced to rely on an enemy' leaped out at me waving its arms and shrieking like an overexcited toddler. I didn't get it on my card, but I had a plot bunny for it anyway, involving Aral and Vorhalas because what else would I do?

Working title for this was 'keeping watch in the night'. Oh, and 'none dare call it treason', this one has got through a lot of titles, but Aristotle outlasted them all. It also grew to about five times what I expected its original length to be, somehow stuff just kept on happening and the end turned out to be much further away than I'd expected. And because I'm me, what was meant to be some fairly straightforward darkish h/c sprouted Barrayaran legal and feudal complications in all sorts of unexpected directions. And while this is for h/c bingo and is more or less h/c, there's a lot more h than c in this one.

I am not as a rule one for playlists for stories, but I wrote this one with Ye Jacobites By Name (what is right and what is wrong by the law ... and haunt a parent's life wi' bloody war), The Witch of the Westmorland (pale was the wounded knight... also I think that's where the black mare came from), and MacDonnell on the Heights repeating an awful lot.

Many thanks to raspberryhunter for beta-reading.


Title: reason free from passion
Tags: forced to rely on an enemy, hurt/comfort, loyalty, gen, 14490 words
Summary: On the second day of Vordarian's Pretendership, Count Vorhalas has an unwelcome visitor.

reason free from passion (link to AO3 as it's too big for a post here)
19 October 2017 @ 09:28 pm
I've only watched two episodes of the show so far, but the guy playing Richard Garland in The Halcyon is very close to my mental model of Illyan. He's got the self-effacing slightly puppyish face, he's got the whole spymaster cunning and fighting dirty thing going too, he's a loyal but independent-minded subordinate and generally he's not far off my mental image of him, both in the actor and the character. Tempting to reshape Lady Hamilton as Alys now and see if I can ship them, but Alys even right after Padma died wasn't quite as crazy as Lady Hamilton, though Lady Hamilton does have good reason.

Anyway, it's a good show so far. It's about the fortunes of a grand hotel in London just before the Blitz begins, a bit Upstairs Downstairs/Downton Abbey kind of vibe, but in the 40s. And googling it now to find out the name of the actor (Steven Mackintosh) I discover that it's been cancelled after one season, because this always happens with new series I like the look of. Oh well.

Crossposted at https://philomytha.dreamwidth.org/147318.html. There are comment count unavailable comments there.
04 October 2017 @ 05:55 pm
My Yuletide letter, a mix of new and repeat requests. As you see, I went for The Nancy in the end :-).

fandoms are Happy Valley, The Laundry Files - Charles Stross, The Nancy (Stan Rogers)Collapse )

Crossposted at https://philomytha.dreamwidth.org/146877.html. There are comment count unavailable comments there.
- two boys at school, hurray! Plus an object lesson in why when you need something done, ask the people who actually do it and not the people in the office. Philomythulus and Cub are both going to school now (and how did that happen? lately I've been more and more in sympathy with people talking about how fast time goes). The problem is, Cub needs to be dropped off at school, and Philomythulus needs to be collected on the school bus from home. This is tricky to coordinate. Last year it worked, I could get Cub to nursery with Philomythulus in tow and then get home in time for the bus to collect him. This year the bus wanted to collect him at precisely the time I would be dropping Cub off. I rang the office and asked if there was any chance it could be altered. They faffed and muttered and finally said no, sorry, it was all too complicated. Fair enough, it's not impossible for me to drop Cub off and then drop Philomythulus off, the problem is that access and parking is severely limited at Philomythulus's school and they don't like having parents doing the drop-offs. So I take Philomythulus in this morning and am buttonholed by the lovely escort on his bus, who asks why he isn't on the bus. I explain. She goes away and talks to the driver for five minutes. Turns out that the assigned bus route is stupid: it has them drive down a street to collect a kid, come out to our house, then go back to the same street to collect another kid, for no apparent reason. They propose collecting both kids at once and then another kid, then coming to us last, which is a much saner route and involves less going back and forth on the extremely busy main road. Everyone agrees that this is very sensible and works perfectly. Problem solved.

- still working on Vorhalas. I actually went out walking around a wood at night, when we were on holiday, for research purposes :-). There are two moons on Barrayar, aren't there? I'm in the tedious ending bit where I've written all the fun scenes and now I have to stitch it all together and make it make sense. Eventually I'd like to find someone to beta it - anyone up for maybe 12-15,000 words of Vorhalas during the Pretendership?

- right now I seem to have a new Stan Rogers song on repeat every day or so, and I'm loving them all. This started with Barratt's Privateers, then Northwest Passage, then The Mary Ellen Carter, then MacDonnell on the Heights, then White Squall, The Flowers of Bermuda, The Nancy, The Witch of the Westmorland. Not many end happily except maybe the guys raising the Mary Ellen Carter but who knows. White Squall wins the prize for Most Depressing, the narrator watching the bright kid get washed overboard and going 'I told him not to do that' (though you'd think the guys'd learn: never, never show pictures of the girl you're going to marry to anyone when you're doing anything more dangerous than mowing the lawn). Northwest Passage is the best. Mary Ellen Carter is the catchiest. MacDonnell is the most Barrayaran, though Nancy is pretty Barrayaran too. Bermuda is weirdly upbeat for a song about the captain going down with his ship, but then, perhaps the captain in question would have preferred a cheery song. And the Witch is the most Romantic.

And I am seriously considering requesting The Nancy for Yuletide, because I'm weirdly fond of Captain Alexander MacIntosh, who spends so much time talking about how he hates men in fancy clothes and powdered hair you might think he protests too much, plus for someone so chippy he's very quick to tell you he's the nephew of the laird. I didn't quite follow it on my first listen and I thought he'd ordered Captain Maxwell below and fought their way out, but then on the second listen it seemed that Captain Maxwell left the ship and was made prisoner instead. I like the first interpretation better, and I'd love to read fic of him disarranging Maxwell's uniform afterwards, or pouring scorn on Captain Maxwell one minute and then fighting like a tiger to save him the next. But perhaps it's not quite the thing to ask for Yuletide fic based on a mishearing of a song?

Crossposted at http://philomytha.dreamwidth.org/146603.html. There are comment count unavailable comments there.
24 August 2017 @ 08:39 pm
This is a guaranteed 100% typical Philomytha fic. If your id and my id are drinking buddies, you'll probably like it. Everyone else, well, I'm a good eleven thousand words into the Vorhalas fic now, but the past week has involved heavy colds for the entire family leading to at least three people waking me up every night in shifts, and a hospital visit for Cub in which somewhat to my surprise we were sent home with new medicine rather than being admitted, so at least something's improving there. On top of that, Cub's response to everything he doesn't like right now is screaming 'I DON'T LIKE YOU YOU'RE NOT MY MUMMY ANY MORE'*. Oh, and did I mention that Philomythulus is obsessed with fire? Just when I think my life can't get more exciting... so anyway, I've been writing shameless h/c instead of somewhat more complicated h/c with plot the Vorhalas fic. I did get rid of the summary that went 'when your wife's away, your dog is allowed to sleep on the bed', but let's face it, that's pretty much what I've written.

*this did provide a lot of entertainment for an elderly lady in Boots when Cub wasn't allowed to press all the buttons on the robot checkout and he ran away from me screaming this at the top of his not inconsiderable voice, she was absolutely in stitches


Title: Proximate
Tags: sharing a bed, hurt/comfort, gen
Summary: Rescue missions are hard on the people back at base waiting.

ProximateCollapse )

Crossposted at http://philomytha.dreamwidth.org/146334.html. There are comment count unavailable comments there.
18 August 2017 @ 06:07 pm
This fic WILL NOT STOP. I have passed 10,000 words and it just keeps spawning new complications every time I think I've got something nailed down. It was only meant to be about 2-3000 words and the whole second half was going to be sorted out in about three paragraphs. I'm blaming MacDonnell on the Heights for some of it because it is just such a Barrayaran military song and every time it comes up on my playlist I come up with a new problem for Vorhalas to wrangle with. You know that on Barrayar they love songs about the loyal lieutenant who takes up the standard when the great general falls, and gets killed just before he can win the battle and ends up buried beside his general. But it feels like I've got about three years' worth of words coming uncorked all of a sudden; I'm fairly sure I've written more this month than I did in all of 2015. The finish line is in sight now, maybe, but there's still a lot to sort out.

The current tricky bit is, what are the practical and legal consequences if a serving officer's District Count orders him to disobey his military superiors? I ask because I had Vorhalas do this in the current draft, and then when I was writing a bit of dialogue slightly later Vorhalas outright said he would never do that, so now I have to go back and fix it, because of course he wouldn't. But I'm inviting speculation here - what would happen on Barrayar if some hypothetical count and some hypothetical officer did this, to both the officer and the count?

Crossposted at http://philomytha.dreamwidth.org/146147.html. There are comment count unavailable comments there.
"Cub, please stop teaching the chickens how to use the catflap."

Yes, there is a story behind this. Our neighbours are away again, and they've expanded their menagerie so it now includes half a dozen chickens as well as their cats, fish and small furries. Their back garden isn't fully secure and they don't like them free-ranging without someone around to keep an eye on things, but fortunately their back garden is also full of toys and swings and stuff, so Cub and I were hanging out there all afternoon and Cub was following the chickens around and jumping on the trampoline (and I somehow sat down and wrote a thousand words of Vorhalas having very reluctant adventures, which is a story for another day) and then I spotted Cub holding the catflap open and trying to lure the chickens inside.

Now cats and chickens don't get on the way you might expect. Which is to say, I saw the biggest tomcat in the neighbourhood streak out of the chicken's territory like his tail was on fire, chased by the smallest bantam at the bottom of the pecking order flapping her wings and squawking. There's no cockerel, just laying hens, and I hadn't expected them to be quite so, well, aggressive, but you can see the common history with dinosaurs sometimes when you watch chickens. So anyway, I don't think the cats would be happy if the chickens started using their catflap, and also I'm not sure how impressed our neighbour would be when I explained why she had chickenshit in her kitchen. Fortunately Cub was diverted into trying to see if the chickens would come and roost on his arms if he held them out straight (no, though when he sat on the deckchair they sat next to him) and so the chickens do not know how to use a catflap. Yet. They're brighter than I expected, and I wouldn't be surprised if they figured it out eventually.

For pets, I have to say chickens are by far the best value. Cub is besotted with them and got hours of fun out of watching them pootle around the garden, having dustbaths (chickens really love their dustbaths, one of them spent a full hour wallowing it it) and pecking at things and picking blackberries for them to eat, plus on top of that you get fresh eggs every day. You have to feed them and pick up their poo and all that stuff, but you have to do that with cats too and you don't get eggs. Also they eat slugs, snails and other garden pests, solving my problem of how I turn slugs into food, oh, and they adore dandelions so much there aren't any left in my neighbour's garden. So I may be tempted in that direction eventually. I think I'll wait till our neighbour takes her Christmas holiday and see whether they're as much fun in December before taking the plunge, though.

Crossposted at http://philomytha.dreamwidth.org/145769.html. There are comment count unavailable comments there.
Tags: ,
31 July 2017 @ 10:13 am
The Bujold Ficathon is open for prompts! It's the same as in previous years: anything goes, low commitment, leave prompts and see what happens. I've left some prompts, but it seems to be off to a slow start, so do go and leave some prompts.

Bujold Ficathon on AO3

I have been writing, slowly, and might even have another fic done, well, sometime. Featuring Aral and Count Vorhalas, because of course it does. I have the Vorkosigan bug back, and I've worked on a half-dozen WIPs over the past month, but the Vorhalas one is the one I'm seriously concentrating on. I've wanted to write it for a while. I still feel very rusty writing, but I suppose there's only one cure for that.

Other than that, I have been listening to sea shanties and Stan Rogers, especially Northwest Passage. Perhaps it's my Cape Breton blood, but I love that song, even though these days the Northwest Passage is less explorers leaving their weathered broken bones in the ice and more wealthy retirees in cruise ships. The song's more haunting for that, I think, like a song about an extinct species.

Crossposted at http://philomytha.dreamwidth.org/145436.html. There are comment count unavailable comments there.
12 July 2017 @ 10:19 am
I wrote something! Looking at AO3, this is the first non-exchange fic I've posted since November 2014. And with all those bingo cards, instead I write a fic that has nothing to do with any of the prompts and is instead entirely the fault of both of my boys. But hey, I wrote something, even if it is fluffy silliness about a broken toy :-D

Title: Best Toy Ever
Summary: "ImpSec is my ... intelligence utility." - Miles, in Diplomatic Immunity.
Five-year-old Miles makes use of some ImpSec assets.

Best Toy EverCollapse )

Crossposted at http://philomytha.dreamwidth.org/145311.html. There are comment count unavailable comments there.
10 July 2017 @ 04:22 pm
Writing progress is - well, I'd call it glacial, but I hear glaciers are going quite rapidly these days. In the hope of inspiring myself, I've been collecting bingo cards and I'm putting them all here. If anyone has any particular requests or suggestions for any of the prompts, feel free :-)

gen bingo, h/c bingo and trope bingoCollapse )

Crossposted at http://philomytha.dreamwidth.org/144904.html. There are comment count unavailable comments there.
04 March 2017 @ 11:08 am
I seem to be reading almost all non-fiction lately, though I am going to read the next couple of Penric & Desdemona novellas at some point soon. There's just so many fascinating non-fiction books out there. I tend to swing back and forth between history and biology/earth-related sciences as the two subjects I'll always pick up a book about, and this lot is all about ecosystems, more or less.

The Earth Care Manual by Patrick Whitefield
I thought this was a gardening book, picked it up in the library to get some tips for this year's garden, and started reading the chapter on soil because I want to know more about soil improvement. Utterly fascinated, I borrowed it on the strength of about one and a half pages about how to tell what's wrong with your soil from looking at the weeds that grow there. I have finally found something that describes my basic attitude towards gardening and generally the care of the very small patch of land that I own. I'd heard of permaculture before but it always sounded really gimmicky, zones and forest gardens and stuff, but this has all the details and all the theory, and it made me want to double down on my efforts to restore natural systems in my own little garden. Especially in combination with...

The Third Plate by Dan Barber
This is the book on food and ecology that I've been looking for. Very restaurant-centric, which I struggled with at first because I don't really care about restaurants, but then we got to the growers and farmers and it completely hooked me in on how flavour and quality relate to environmental sustainability and soil health. I'm not sure the word permaculture is ever used, but the various farming systems he described are all definitely permaculture systems of one kind or another. I particularly loved the description of the fully sustainable fish farm, and the stuff about soil health and how soil management skills can lead you to a situation where the insect pests attack the weeds and leave your crops alone. It sounded a lot like rediscovering the milpa field system of the pre-colonisation Americas which Brand describes in the next book.

Whole Earth Discipline by Stewart Brand
The environmentalist pro arguments for nuclear power and genetic engineering and urbanisation. The nuclear and urbanisation arguments I've heard before, the genetic engineering one was new to me but well put. Written before Fukashima, though I'm not sure it changes the facts except in terms of the total number of nuclear accidents; I remember at the time reading about how rooftop solar power was hugely, hugely more dangerous than nuclear power owing to people falling off roofs a lot when installing the panels. I thought his argument about comparative harm is pretty good: even in a bad scenario where nuclear power does wind up with a half dozen more Chernobyls as well as a thousand-square-mile area where the waste is kept where humans can't go for a thousand years, that's still an awful lot less ecological damage and far, far fewer human deaths han even the most mild (and most unlikely, on current data) climate change impacts. And he had some good analysis of the rhetorical approaches used by both pro and anti disputants on these questions, and I always appreciate a good discussion of rhetorical techniques. He also, unusually in my experience for a male writer, had a strong understanding of how urbanisation benefits women. A good read.

The Virtues of the Table, Julian Baggini
I was a bit hesitant to start this, because I thought it was going to be insufferable. It was not, but I suspect it helps that I've read a lot of philosophy, know what virtue ethics is, and am generally familiar with and inured to the approach a philosopher takes to problems. There were some useful insights into how to think about food, but also a lot of fairly bland stuff. He was generally on stronger ground when talking about the ethics of food production, killing animals and types of agriculture; his economics was uninspired and his discussions of pleasure and hedonism trite, though I did like the section on eating alone and why we feel awkward about it. The recipes were a little gimmicky but did make me like him better. A lot of the time, as is common in philosophy, it looks much easier than it is, because once you've come out and asked the question 'why do we feel like it's wrong to take pleasure in eating alone' then it almost answers itself, and you don't recognise that the work of the philosopher is in formulating and asking the question.

Adventures in the Anthropocene by Gaia Vince
This one I had to read in small bites because some parts of it were deeply depressing. But others were fascinating and hopeful, like the fellow making artificial glaciers for water storage. Lots of stories about how people are shaping the world and reacting to a changing climate, or suffering from it, or both.

A Farewell to Ice by Peter Wadhams
This one was a bit more formal and scientific than the others, you can see that Wadhams is used to writing journal articles and other academic materials, but it's interesting enough that I didn't care. Loads of details about ice, and the weather in the arctic, and about how it's changing. The author has a bit of the cantankerous old man going on, but I'll forgive him that because I think he's right to be alarmed and upset about how climate change is affecting the arctic. If you want to know more about permafrost methane release or how the melting arctic sea ice could affect weather in Europe and North America, this is the book for you. Also, when else are you going to get a chance to read the words 'the frazile pancake cycle'?

I Contain Multitudes by Ed Yong
Fascinating, fascinating book about our internal ecosystems and how they work. Like the 'Gut' book, this one is a great source of fun facts to annoy the people around you, such as that frequent cleaning of your toilet seat increases the population of poo bacteria on it (your toilet seat has to be colonised with some kind of bacteria because everything is colonised with bacteria, when you sit on it it gets colonised with harmless human skin bacteria, when you clean with antibacterial cleaners you wash all them off and the colonies of poo bacteria deeper inside your toilet move out and make their home there instead). Basically all these human-bacteria books are a great triumph for relaxed cleaning, since they all essentially vindicate what our grandmothers said, that a bit of dirt is good for you. But this book has a lot more than that: tons and tons of incredible stuff about how life evolved, how bacteria evolve, how bacteria naturally genetic-engineer themselves (this connects up with the 'Whole Earth Discipline' book that also points out that it's perfectly natural for life forms as different as rice and frogs to swap genes with each other and that scientists doing this in the lab to breed better rice aren't doing anything new) and an awful lot about how microbiology works in general.

Crossposted at http://philomytha.dreamwidth.org/144634.html. There are comment count unavailable comments there.
01 January 2017 @ 08:17 am
My lovely Lord Peter Wimsey Fic, one another's all, was by harborshore. Thank you very much!

And I don't suppose anyone is going to be even a little bit surprised at which Yuletide fics I wrote. My assignment was The Huntsman's Reel for ExtraPenguin, Alys/Simon and competence kink and assassins and UST.

I also wrote two treats, Intelligent Disobedience for Quasar about a fraught moment for Aral and Simon, and they're changing guard at Buckingham Palace (Christopher Robin went down with Alice) for karanguni, a little ficlet about Aral/Cordelia/Simon and Aral/Cordelia/Jole. I wanted to write extra Vorkosigan fic this year because under the current rules I can't see Vorkosigan being in Yuletide next year, and being matched to it was just good luck on top of that.

I confess, I did laugh a lot at my request, which was for more of 'The Simon and Alys Show'. It would have been pretty hard for the matching machine to give me a more perfectly suitable request than that one. Though it was surprisingly tricky to get my head into the right place for it, and while some of that was general 2016 nightmarishness (it's been a pretty rubbish year domestically for me as well as the political shitstorm, and being a dual US/UK citizen meant I got both halves of that), part of it was that I was afraid this fic would be disappointing compared to other Alys/Simon fics I've written, given how much trouble I've had with writing over the past few years. Anyway, I came up with a different idea and wrote it and uploaded it for my assignment, but I wasn't happy with it, it didn't sparkle and it didn't amuse me, it creaked. A week before the default deadline - and I spent a lot of this Yuletide with my finger hovering over the default button - I had the idea for Alys and Simon dancing together while spotting assassins, and that finally caught my writing attention properly. But I was finishing it right up to the wire. I uploaded the other one as my assignment, and swapped it out with The Huntsman's Reel at 11.30 on Christmas Eve. Then I was on a roll, so I managed to come up with an ending for Intelligent Disobedience, which I'd started when I saw Quasar's prompts but had to forget about when I got stuck with the Alys/Simon fic. Karanguni's ficlet I wrote long before, I think even before assignments came out, after I read their Aral-Jole-Simon prompts and felt so sad for Simon that I had to write something that made me feel a bit better about his part in their lives, and that AA Milne poem got stuck in my head. Anyway, considering it all, I'm very pleased I managed to get so much done for Yuletide.

Crossposted at http://philomytha.dreamwidth.org/144192.html. There are comment count unavailable comments there.
25 December 2016 @ 04:23 pm
Happy Christmas to all who are celebrating today! Also happy Yuletide :-). I have a wonderful Peter/Bunter/Harriet fic which is precisely what I was hoping for, so I am a happy Philomytha today. And I got my Yuletide fic finished and polished off, somewhat at the eleventh hour (well, actually I posted the final edits at the eleventh hour and the fifty-fifth minute because apparently this was the year that I take it down to the wire). Also my Christmas dinner was successful despite a variety of misadventures along the way including inexplicably pink gravy and a Christmas pudding that looked like an elephant had sat on it, and while Cub is still spotty, he is full of energy and racing about shouting Christmas carols at the top of his lungs, so it's all going well here.

one another’s all (1331 words) by Anonymous
Chapters: 1/1
Fandom: Lord Peter Wimsey - Dorothy L. Sayers
Rating: General Audiences
Warnings: No Archive Warnings Apply
Relationships: Harriet Vane/Peter Wimsey, Mervyn Bunter/Peter Wimsey, Mervyn Bunter/Harriet Vane/Peter Wimsey
Characters: Harriet Vane, Mervyn Bunter, Peter Wimsey

“But we will have a way more liberal than changing hearts to join them; so we shall be one, and one another’s all.” - John Donne, from “Lovers’ infiniteness”.

Crossposted at http://philomytha.dreamwidth.org/144008.html. There are comment count unavailable comments there.
Tags: ,
08 October 2016 @ 02:42 pm
I have signed up for Yuletide! Despite not completing a single fic since last year's Yuletide - but hey, I managed that, so I daresay I will manage it again. It feels like a promise to myself: at some point I will be writing more frequently again, and in the meantime at least I can do Yuletide. Anyhow, here is my letter, which seems to be all police/detective stories this year.

fandoms are Cuffs, Happy Valley, Lord Peter Wimsey, Scott & BaileyCollapse )

Crossposted at http://philomytha.dreamwidth.org/143339.html. There are comment count unavailable comments there.
01 April 2016 @ 10:44 am
If you haven't watched Happy Valley yet, do yourself a favour and go watch it now. It is amazing. I adored the first season, but the second season tops it. Utterly gripping, utterly brilliant, intelligent, funny, grounded, fantastic. I've never seen anything better on living your life when it's a fucked-up mess and you've still got to do the right thing and keep on going. You can keep your superheroes and your geniuses, if my life really went to shit I'd want Sgt Catherine Cawood to have my back. I think I might admire her more than Cordelia, to give you something to calibrate her awesomeness against. Throughout the series, all kinds of hideous shit comes at her, and you can see how much it hurts her, but she just keeps on dealing with it and picking herself up and doing the right thing no matter how much it costs her. And sometimes she screws up, and then she finds her way back from that, she has the vices of her virtues in a wonderfully believable way.

And I love the story on every level: as a meditation on how an innocent person's life can be destroyed by crimes and how this reverberates through the generations, about being a mother and a parent and raising a child under difficult circumstances, about friendship and support between women, on everything. I love Catherine and Clare and how they raise Ryan together and look after each other, I love Catherine with Ann and how Ann so clearly wants to be Catherine when she grows up, I love Catherine casually getting the morning-after pill for Ann when she needs it, I adored Alison and everything about her storyline, and I loved how Catherine went from hating Frances to still hating her but also trying to protect and rescue her.

Plus, it's a fantastic crime drama, the police work is solid, the plot's gripping, it's dark and funny - the sheep! - and all the characters are so vivid and loveable and fascinating to watch. I've said before that Sally Wainwright is one of my storytelling idols right now, and she's getting better and better.

Crossposted at http://philomytha.dreamwidth.org/142172.html. There are comment count unavailable comments there.
21 February 2016 @ 11:03 pm
So after all that posting about food books, I feel like I should post something about the food I make. And of all the food I make, the one I have the strongest feelings about is bread. I like bread a lot, and we eat a lot of it. But I don't rate shop bread, with a few exceptions, I find it unpleasant pappy soggy stuff that goes stale as soon as you look at it. And so for the past decade or so, I've baked pretty much all my own bread. I bake a lot of other bready things too, like flatbreads and hot cross buns and Danish pastries and all sorts, but what is most important to me is my regular daily loaf. There's one in the oven right now as I write this.

my daily loaf, recipe and ramblingsCollapse )

Crossposted at http://philomytha.dreamwidth.org/141831.html. There are comment count unavailable comments there.
11 February 2016 @ 08:54 am
Reviews of various things I've watched and read lately.

it's either WW2 or food, mostlyCollapse )

Crossposted at http://philomytha.dreamwidth.org/141745.html. There are comment count unavailable comments there.
02 January 2016 @ 08:04 am
My wonderful Heyeresque pinch-hit was by [personal profile] astolat, which explains why I had a feeling I'd read something by the author before! And my lovely Oxford Time Travel treat was by [archiveofourown.org profile] drayton, and now I need to go and look up what else they've written in this fandom.

And I managed, with a certain amount of sweating blood, to produce a Yuletide fic myself, for [personal profile] trobadora's prompt about Admiral Simpson in an obscure alt-history/SF series, the 1632 series by Eric Flint. On Leaders. It's interesting writing what's practically the first fic in the fandom on AO3 (other than my fic, there's one crossover), when the 1632 series has this whole universe of published fanfic that's predominately about tech and social-political issues rather than the kind of character issues that I was writing about. I had to decide to ignore most of that in the end because I'd only read the main novels and there was way more material in the 'Grantville Gazettes' than I had a chance of assimilating. On the other hand, it's the first time I've written in a fandom that has a huge website dedicated to providing information for prospective fic authors, which was very handy in the matters of figuring out timelines and suchlike.

And it was such a good feeling, coming up with a story and getting to the end of it and polishing it up. 2015 was not a great year for me in many ways and that includes writing, but it's a new year now and perhaps things will be better.

Crossposted at http://philomytha.dreamwidth.org/141104.html. There are comment count unavailable comments there.
25 December 2015 @ 04:22 pm
Merry Christmas, everyone! I hope you're all having a good day today, whether or not you're celebrating. I had a lie-in till 5.30am today; my parents reminded me that when I was a child I was the worst of all my siblings for getting up at ridiculous hours on Christmas morning and getting into mischief, so I guess it's cosmic justice now :-D.

And it's Yuletide! After going on the last-minute pinch hit list, I was a bit concerned, but I needn't have worried: I received not one but two fics, both of them absolute jewels of stories. I am so grateful to the pinch-hitters who picked up my prompts and came up with such wonderful stories at such short notice - thank you so much!

Inconvenience (2799 words) by Anonymous
Chapters: 1/1
Fandom: The Convenient Marriage - Georgette Heyer
Rating: Mature
Warnings: Creator Chose Not To Use Archive Warnings
Relationships: Marcus Drelincourt/Robert Lethbridge, Marcus Drelincourt/Horatia Winwood
Characters: Marcus Drelincourt Earl of Rule, Robert Baron Lethbridge, Horatia Winwood, Pelham Viscount Winwood

“I need not wonder long,” he said, viciously low, “what sin has barred me from your sister’s hand; but ’pon my soul, Marcus, I had never imagined you to be quite so extraordinary a hypocrite.”

The Earl’s face did not change even now. He answered gently, “No, dear Robert; you only seem to have imagined me a fool.”

Recalled to Life (1641 words) by Anonymous
Chapters: 1/1
Fandom: Oxford Time Travel Universe - Connie Willis
Rating: General Audiences
Warnings: No Archive Warnings Apply
Characters: James Dunworthy, Polly Churchill
Additional Tags: Yuletide Treat

Spring, 1941. Dunworthy's time is running out.

Crossposted at http://philomytha.dreamwidth.org/140816.html. There are comment count unavailable comments there.
Tags: ,
23 October 2015 @ 10:49 pm
My Yuletide letter, mostly cribbed from previous years because my fictional tastes haven't changed that much. I'm signing up slightly against my better judgement since I've scarcely written a word all year, but Yuletide has kickstarted my writing before and I have hopes it will do it again. Anyhow, that's not your problem, dear writer, so here goes.

Dear Yuletide Writer,

The Convenient Marriage, Oxford Time Travel, Scott & BaileyCollapse )

Crossposted at http://philomytha.dreamwidth.org/140448.html. There are comment count unavailable comments there.
22 October 2015 @ 07:50 pm
I'm still here, though still very head-down in RL. Trying to decide whether or not to attempt Yuletide. But I did make the time to read the e-ARC of Gentleman Jole and the Red Queen, and I have thoughts.

spoilers for GJRQCollapse )

Crossposted at http://philomytha.dreamwidth.org/140242.html. There are comment count unavailable comments there.
26 August 2015 @ 09:52 am
School holidays status: surviving. Like getting old, it's much better than the alternative. Into the final stretch now.

In fannish news, I loved the new issue of the Rivers of London comic: Nightingale backstory and POV! Lots of fun analysis of it all on tumblr.

And have the latest batch of Cubisms from our house :-)

- 'My trousers are tripping!' he exclaims, rushing up to me. He means they're tripping him and can I roll the bottoms up. My parents send clothes all the time, and they're always several sizes too big with growing room.

- Cub throws a toy at me. I tell him not to, that throwing toys hurts people, and ask him to say sorry. Obligingly, he sits up and makes the Makaton sign for 'sorry' without speaking. A bit of further conversation reveals that as far as he's concerned, that is the word for 'sorry' and no vocalisation is required. I don't think he grasps that you can say the word 'sorry' and it has the same meaning, with the bonus that people who don't use Makaton will understand it. This has come about, as far as I can tell, because we mostly have 'sorry' when he's interacting with Philomythulus, who only uses the sign. He knows plenty of other signs, but that's the only one he uses without speech.

- 'I want you to find my bike where it went.' I'm fairly sure this is correct grammar in some languages, but not English. He often does correct grammar for other languages - he'll make his adjectives agree in number with nouns sometimes, so 'two greens lights' or something like that. For a while he had Latin word order with verbs at the end, but now we often have a hybrid with the verb twice, especially in long sentences. 'I want to ride my bike', but 'I want to ride my bike to playgroup want' - which often progresses to 'I said I want to ride my bike to playgroup said.' No idea what that's about.

- a lovely one he came out with today: it's started to wind. As opposed to rain. He really hates the wind blowing at him, and instructed me to make it stop.

- He calls all insects 'spiders' without discrimination. Since I'm mildly arachnaphobic, this means my life is continuously enlivened by him shouting 'look, a spider!' and me whirling around with a jolt of adrenalin and discovering it's an ant or a fruitfly or some other untroublesome creature. Though I am getting better about spiders, except for the really big ones, because I want to set him a good example.

- He likes rules and instructions, and when we're in the car I get a steady stream of backseat driving: don't bump into the tree, mummy! Don't bump into the other cars mummy! Red light mummy stop! Green light go! Going the wrong way mummy! Slow down mummy! Times like these, I think that maybe parents whose toddlers suck on dummies in the car have found a cunning solution to this problem.

- But it's not just the car, Cub does running commentary on everything. I mean it, this child starts talking the moment he wakes up and continues to talk without pause until he falls asleep. Sometimes he carries on after he falls asleep; he'll wake up briefly, repeat whatever was on his mind before going to sleep, then drop off again. We think there's a good chance he will be a TV presenter or sports commentator or somesuch person whose job is to waffle on and on without a break all day long. I really do have one child who doesn't talk and one child who doesn't shut up.

Crossposted at http://philomytha.dreamwidth.org/139940.html. There are comment count unavailable comments there.
03 August 2015 @ 09:36 am
We've just got back from a week's holiday with the in-laws. No injuries, no trips to A&E, no significant breakages, so that's a success. There was some fun stuff too: a random trip to the Tank Museum to escape rain falling sideways turned into a bit of an adventure when it happened that there were Daleks and UNIT troops holding a running battle inside the building as part of their summer holiday programming. Since Cub had never seen either a Dalek or a tank before, I have now made him believe that they are the same kind of thing, and he calls them all tanks interchangeably and possibly believes that Sherman tanks would wander around talking to small boys with an excellent voice synthesiser. The other fun thing for me was that they had a Tiger tank in the museum - in fact they had several - so I took a very bad picture of it. It was a pretty formidable beast, though inside a massive barn of a museum with a lot of other tanks they're less impressive than they are outside where you have a better sense of scale. Other than the surprise fannish stuff, we did a lot of walking, ate a lot of pub lunches, discovered the only pub in Dorset where it takes 45 minutes for them to bring you a cup of tea (they advertised cream teas outside, so we went in and ordered some: the scones and cream and jam arrived in the usual time, and then after 45 minutes and several escalating trips back to the bar to complain, the tea finally showed up), and saw some lovely churches. Philomythulus enjoys going into churches, they're dimly lit and cool and quiet and have pews he can sit down in and chill out on. We saw buzzards, deer, foxes, lizards, peacocks and their families, and a tiny frog that delighted Cub. 'Frog came on holiday to see Cub and Mummy,' he kept announcing for the rest of the day. And we rode on a steam train and on two ferries, which made both boys extremely happy. So it was a pretty good holiday apart from the fact that when he's away from home, Philomythulus doesn't really sleep. Which meant that I had a lot of time to read while I sat up with him.

Susannah Clarke, Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell
This blew me away. Absolutely blew me away. It's been on my 'oh yes, I must get round to that someday' list, but for some reason I had formed the opinion that it would be a bit meh, so I hadn't really bothered, but Mr P recorded the TV series and wanted me to watch it with him, and I wanted to read the book first, so I did. And wow. If anyone else hasn't read it, go read it now. Such incredibly confident, masterful writing, the perfect slow-build plot, the worldbuilding done with such ease and grace, the prose and style absolutely flawless, the characters all so human and perfect... it's a masterpiece. That makes it sound like it might not be interesting, but it is - I was desperate to know what would happen next, and while it took me a while to warm to Strange and Norrell, by the end I adored them both. Anyway, this was amazing and if you haven't read it you are missing out on something special.

Charles Stross, The Annihilation Score
The latest Laundry Files offering, the one where magic comes out of the closet and onto the front page in the form of superheroes. It was fairly entertaining, but I was never wholly convinced by the way Stross wrote Mo as the first-person narrator: it felt like a woman written by a committee of male Guardian readers. I've loved Mo in her appearances in the other books, and I loved her here too but I kept being annoyed with the author. But the plot was exciting, the bureaucracy was believably annoying and the whole superhero thing was nicely pulled off.

Lois Bujold, 'Penric's Demon'
A new Five Gods novella. This was fun and light and entertaining. I liked Penric's adventures, I liked his approach to the demon and I liked the ending. Also I might be interested in some fic that explores having sex while having a demon ;-).

Cath Staincliffe, Dead to Me
A Scott & Bailey tie-in novel. I've rarely been impressed with tie-in novels - good fanfic is usually better - but this one was good, a pre-series murder mystery where Janet and Rachel work together for the first time. It edged into melodrama a few times, and if you'd rather not read too much about babies dying you might want to avoid it, but it's a good murder mystery with good characterisation and writing and good canon voice. I've bought her other Scott & Bailey novels on the strength of it.

cut for holiday pictures of Tiger tank and dawn mistCollapse )

Crossposted at http://philomytha.dreamwidth.org/139611.html. There are comment count unavailable comments there.
24 July 2015 @ 09:05 am
The scene: after dinner with a very overtired Cub who has fallen over and bumped his head and is crying while I cuddle him

Me: Do you want to go to bed now?
Cub, in between sobs: No thanks mummy I want to keep screaming and shouting

This is 100% exactly what he said. My imagination is not functioning well enough to make stuff like this up right now, so it's just as well I don't need to. He always says 'no thanks mummy' when he's saying no to something he doesn't want. I'm not sure where he gets it from because I don't think I'm all that polite as a rule. And I really don't understand why he's internalised that rule, whereas when I told him to leave the unripe apples on the tree until they were ready, he went out into the garden and shook the tree until about three quarters of them fell off. It was looking like being a really good year for them, too, but at this rate if I get a single apple from that tree this year it's going to be a miracle.

In other garden-disaster news: after planting out about 30 bean plants in a couple of different varieties, I have precisely one grown to maturity and starting to flower. All the others were eaten by slugs. This despite barriers around each seedling, beer traps, and spreading prickly holly leaves around the place. I think I will have to resort to chemical warfare again. And I've given up even trying to grow lettuce, but I can do really good endive since the slugs don't care for it. Sadly, nor does anyone in the house except me. When it runs to seed it produces some lovely blue flowers. On the bright side, the raspberries are doing amazingly, and the strawberries aren't half bad, and the tomatoes are looking promising. Though I don't understand why some of the tomato plants have run rampant and are looking likely to take over the garden, and others are sad and pathetic and barely a foot high. Gardens are weird. And I will have peaches! Despite terrible leaf curl, there's about half a dozen peaches ripening on my tree. I had one single solitary peach from it last year, and it was so good that I didn't bother even trying to eat peaches again for the rest of the year since they would all have been a tragic disappointment. This year I get more than one! But my plum tree is struggling. It had one bumper year and after that it's all been downhill. I think it has a disease since about 10% of the branches have withered. Need to do something about that and see if I can bring it back to health. And the courgette plants in giant pots are growing like crazy too (the ones I planted in the ground were, surprise surprise, eaten by slugs). And I got a nice bagful of new potatoes from my binbag potatoes, and we had some for supper and they were very good. So I guess my attempts to grow stuff to eat in my little garden aren't doing too badly. If only I could teach the cat to hunt slugs. Or teach the children.

Speaking of hunting cats, the birds are hunting the cats right now, in a tipsy-topsy manner. There are a lot of seagulls nesting on people's chimneys in our street, and this week the baby seagulls have left the nest but can't yet quite fly. So they're hopping around the road in and out of everyone's gardens, and the parent seagulls are on guard. They mostly don't mind people, but any animal up to and including my neighbour's enormous Labrador is getting attacked by the gulls as soon as they stir. Our cat tried to go out the door, got one paw out and a seagull swooped down at it. The cat didn't go near the door for the next three days. And even the neighbour's cats, who are terrible hunters and kill more birds than any other cats I've ever heard of, are cowed by the gulls and don't leave their house. Nature has some funny ways, but after watching all the local cats including my own torment the birds, I can't say I have a great deal of sympathy for their plight. And the fledglings will start to fly soon and the parent gulls will stop caring about cats and dogs.

Crossposted at http://philomytha.dreamwidth.org/139317.html. There are comment count unavailable comments there.
11 July 2015 @ 10:34 am
Cub's speaking really fluently now, with an ever-increasing vocabulary (a 'giant normous' vocabulary, he would put it - his rendition of 'ginormous'). But there's still plenty of Cub-isms to keep us all entertained.

- he loves counting so much he sees numbers where no numbers actually exist. Take the word 'tomato'. Do you want a tomato, I ask him. No, he says, I want THREE MATOS!

- he uses 'that' instead of 'thing' when he doesn't know a word. With bonus referring to himself in the third person, he produced the following sentence: 'Cub's cleaning up Cub's juice with Cub's that.' ('That' was a sponge. He was assiduously cleaning with it, very impressively, after knocking his cup of juice over.)

- he's got absolutely no clue about gender yet. Are you a big boy, I ask him. No, he says, he's a LITTLE boy. Then he goes on with 'and Biffy's a big boy and Daddy's a big boy and Mummy's a big boy.'

- another one of my phrases that he repeats back to me: 'let's try that again'. It's incredibly adorable coming from a little boy who's just fallen off his bike or spilt all his juice on the floor.

- very embarrassing moment: 'Mummy blow cock!' - loudly in a park full of teenagers, naturally. He meant he wanted me to blow all the seeds away from a dandelion clock. Trying to get him to say 'dandelion clock' resulted in 'Mummy blow daddy cock'. At that point I gave up because God knows how much worse it could have got.

Crossposted at http://philomytha.dreamwidth.org/138811.html. There are comment count unavailable comments there.
25 June 2015 @ 10:33 am
I have no idea where my writing ability has gone. Down the toilet, evidently. Every few days, after everyone's in bed I look at my WIP files and think about them a bit, and utterly fail to write anything down. It's been like this pretty much since Christmas, and I'm fairly sure it's down to the absolutely exhausting nature of looking after a toddler. A talking toddler, at that. I'm increasingly convinced that this is the hardest bit of child-rearing, from about 18 months to 3 years. Nothing else drains me like this, not endless sleepless nights, not crying babies, not even coping with Philomythulus is draining the way this is. Don't get me wrong, Cub's absolutely amazing and he's growing like crazy and watching it is incredible, but it's taking all of my energy to keep up with him. And at the end of a day with him, my brain's turned to porridge, and rereading old favourite books and watching TV dramas is about all I'm good for. To which end, a review:

Happy Valley
This was amazing, absolutely riveting watching with characters I adored. It's a crime drama set in rural Yorkshire starring Sgt Catherine Cawood, who introduces herself as follows:

I’m Catherine, by the way. I’m 47, I’m divorced, I live with my sister, who’s a recovering heroin addict. I have two grown-up children. One dead and one who doesn’t speak to me. And I have a grandson.

It's written by Sally Wainwright, one of my current writing idols (also the creator of Scott & Bailey). The story is about the abduction of a young woman, and shows how the criminals' plans spiral out of control and the policework to catch them trails behind. And it's about the relationships between the women in the story: Catherine and her sister Clare, Clare and her friends, Catherine and her young trainee Kirsten, and Catherine and the kidnapped girl Ann. It's not easy watching, there's a lot of violence shown, mostly against women and including sexual violence, but somehow it never left me with a bad taste in my mouth the way I do after, say, one of those episodes of The West Wing where all the women are subtly mocked and patronised and not allowed to do anything except have emotions. The way the story was told kept the focus entirely on the women who were the centre of the story, and let them shape the plot and also the viewer's reactions. I'm not sure I'm explaining this very well, but I kept noticing scenes where, in your average TV show, you'd be shown some kind of shot that was meant to be a man passing judgement on the women's behaviour and the viewer would be expected to sympathise with the man. In this show, the focus stays on the women. Other things the show did really well were the depiction of motherhood, which was bulls-eye accurate rather than sentimental or impossibly backgrounded, and also the way it showed the villains crashing from one bad decision to another and showed their self-justifications and beliefs just enough that you could understand how they got there.

But that's all sort of meta stuff. At core, the story is incredibly edge-of-your-seat gripping, the drama is intense and the characters are fascinating and complex and loveable. So, highly recommended. And they're making a second season, which makes me very happy.

Crossposted at http://philomytha.dreamwidth.org/138653.html. There are comment count unavailable comments there.
06 May 2015 @ 10:31 pm
- two vomiting bugs and a heavy cold in three weeks is TOO MANY VIRUSES. Especially when I both catch them and also get vomited on by everyone else. I feel like the butt of some particularly messy cosmic joke.

- in recent watching, we happened across the seventies BBC drama Colditz. It was unexpectedly brilliant, subtle and complex. It's a drama about everday life in the escape-proof POW camp for Allied officers who were escapers or otherwise troublemakers, and it chronicles the difficulties of their lives, their regular attempts at escape, mostly unsuccessful, and their relationships with the German officers and with each other. I especially loved the Senior British Officer, Colonel Preston, and how he wins the loyalty of the other officers, and of course the stern, fair, honourable Kommandant and his fraught relationship with his own superiors and their orders. It felt very real, and I understand that they had a POW from Colditz advising on the show, and the situations and characters are broadly drawn from reality. If you like thoughtful war drama that can be dark but isn't all violence and gore, this is highly recommended. Oh, and young Simon Illyan David McCallum plays a leading role and has a wonderful adversarial relationship with the clever and vicious German Major Mohn. Alternatively for Sherlock fans, Edward Hardwicke plays a fantastic escape officer.

- mandatory toddler language update: oh my god this child NEVER STOPS TALKING. It's all full sentences, mostly-correct pronouns and endless running commentary on everything he sees. He can count to about twenty, though he doesn't fully understand what the numbers mean yet (also he thinks that 'maids a-courting' is a number that comes after fourteen owing to being obsessed with 'one two, buckle my shoe'), and somewhat to my surprise he can recognise written numbers, as I discovered in a lift when he pointed to the display and announced 'it's number one!' And he reads books out loud to himself, not with the actual words but with detailed commentary on what's happening in the picture and sometimes bits of the story as he remembers them (people getting stuck always seems to resonate with him). The weirdest thing for me is that he echoes phrases I use. I did not realise I said 'I guess' and 'a bit' at the end of sentences so often, nor that I always start with 'perhaps it's time to--' when I'm trying to get him to do something, but when I hear it coming back to me out of his mouth I recognise it. He's a very accurate little mirror of my own language. He's discovered the joy of jokes and gibberish too, or at least I think that's what he's doing. Every so often he'll look at me and say 'no pencil just change' and then collapse laughing. I _think_ he's deliberately saying nonsense; he's certainly enjoying my baffled reaction. It could be that he was trying to say something meaningful at first but when I didn't get it, it mutated into a joke, but it is definitely a joke now.

- recent reading: The Goblin Emperor by Katherine Addison. Not bad at all. I liked Maia, I liked the whole concept of him learning to be an emperor and figuring out how to be a decent person at the same time, and the court intrigue was good. And I liked the bodyguard concept a lot, and the whole loyalty story associated with them (naturally!). The nomenclature and use of made-up words was painful, though, and as a result I couldn't keep track of any of the character's names all the way through the book.

- I also randomly picked up 'Jambusters', a surprisingly good non-fiction book about the WI during the Second World War, and then watched the first episode of the drama Home Fires based on it. There's only one episode so far, so I can't really judge except that it was good enough that I'll watch the second one, but the book was well worth reading. Fascinating stuff about how the WI worked into rural life and the upheavals of the war, and frankly hair-raising accounts of carrying on making jam while bombs land all around.

- elections tomorrow. Ugh. I wish I had better choices to vote for. And it's going to be ages, weeks maybe before it's over. Ugh.

Crossposted at http://philomytha.dreamwidth.org/137616.html. There are comment count unavailable comments there.
20 April 2015 @ 12:11 pm
Without my laptop, I've been doing a lot of reading over the past month or so. And it's all been on a theme, and that theme is food. I don't post that much food-related stuff here, but I do a lot of cooking and I'm not a bad domestic cook. And I'm interested in food, where it comes from, what it's made of, how it works, how it exists in the world. So I've been reading a series of books on food, food processing, environmental issues, health issues, waste, animal welfare, all sorts. They're mostly rather journalistic and no doubt much simplified, but pretty much all of them have taught me something new.

brief reviews of eleven food booksCollapse )

Crossposted at http://philomytha.dreamwidth.org/137280.html. There are comment count unavailable comments there.
13 April 2015 @ 08:43 am
I have survived the Easter holidays, though there were gales that blew the trellis in the garden over, and Philomythulus smashed yet another window (grand total of 6 so far now). But we got to the end of the holidays with no trips to A&E, which as I've said before is my sole criterion for a successful holiday, and we even managed to do some fun stuff.

And I have a new laptop! We haven't yet sucked all the files out of the old one and put them on the new one, but it's here and it's very shiny and powerful and is named Fluffy. All my computers have been named after Harry Potter animals - we've had Hedwig and the lately deceased Norbert, and now Fluffy because it's so powerful.

Cub's language is storming on - we're getting loads of full sentences, pronouns, creative descriptions of things, all kinds of stuff. And arguments. Here is an honest-to-God transcript of a conversation we had in the car the other day:

Cub: Open legs, open legs! Knees!
Me: Open up your legs? Oh, pull your trousers up to see your knees. There are your knees. How many knees do you have?
Cub: One... two... three!
Me: Wow, three knees! Can I count them? One, two knees!
Cub: Nope nope nope nope one two THREE knees!
Me: ...okay, three knees

So there you go. Cub has three knees. And a fine sense of rhyme and metaphor too.

Crossposted at http://philomytha.dreamwidth.org/137026.html. There are comment count unavailable comments there.