Monthly Archives: July 2002

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Ever since I was little, my mother and I have been practicing the same little charm at the beginning of the month. See, my mother told me that if you said �white rabbits, white rabbits, white rabbits� out loud as soon as you woke up on the first day of the month, before you talk to anyone else, you�d receive a present sometime during that month.

When you�re little, this is a very exciting thing. It�s almost like magic. You say secret words, and something wonderful happens within the next thirty or so days.

Needless to say, I tried very hard, and I�d remember eight times out of ten. Now that I�m grown up (or so they say), I still do it. I feel a bit foolish, whispering it in bed next to my oblivious husband in the wee small hours, but I still do it.

So, as a public service announcement, I wish to remind you all that it is the first of August tomorrow, and if you too wish to say �white rabbits, white rabbits, white rabbits�, be my guest. We can all use more presents.

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Corset accomplished. And it’s nice and comfy, thank you very much. Not as much back support as I’d hoped, but better posture (particularly typing at a keyboard) which will, no doubt, help the stress along the spine. The only problem I discovered after the whole thing was together and hemmed and sealed up: the busks weren’t exactly even from each end and I must have flipped one around at some point while inserting them, so the right side of the corset is a quarter inch higher than the other. I doubt anyone will ever notice, as this is technically an undergarment, and if they’re beholding the undergarment then I sincerely hope they’re not in the right frame of mind to be critiquing my sewing skills. The whole thing could have done with being an inch or so smaller around the rib cage to allow for the proper amount of “spring”, or lacing tightness, but hey, it’s my first shot, and I’m pretty impressed with myself.

Which means, alas, I realise from my phrasing, that I expect to make another one at some point in time. Maybe a nice one, in a satin brocade or jacquard, instead of natural-coloured cotton sateen. Hmm. Blue, perhaps.

No. No, no, no. Not for a long time. Well, a while, anyway. Must start thinking Hallowe’en instead. I had a revelation the other day: I work hard on a costume in October, usually putting finishing touches on it all the way up to the evening of whatever party I’m scheduled to be at. Then I get there, and I’m still so production-focused that I don’t enjoy the party and want to leave right away. This year, I intend to create slowly and with time on my hands, so that I can hang the costume up and look forward to wearing it for a month or so, allowing myself to actually get excited about it instead of being tense.

Brilliant, no? I feel so smug for figuring a way around one of my little quirks.

No, I never found that missing piece of boning; I used plastic boning instead that I’d had left over from a Renaissance outfit I’d made. Not only has the corset been finished, while I was looking for the plastic boning I discovered a project I’d started a year and a half ago, and finished that as well. Two! Two projects finished by ten in the morning! And I haven’t even had tea or breakfast yet!

I discovered another eight pages of the Great Canadian Novel yesterday after I gave up on the sewing machine. I’m not going to question it; I’m just going to keep sitting down with the laptop and allowing myself to have fun. And now, if you’ll pardon me, I’m going to go make a fragrant pot of loose Lady Grey tea, and enjoy my corset for a while.

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For some odd reason, I decided to finish the corset instead.

I have now broken two needles and lost one piece of boning. How the hell I can lose a twelve inch long piece of white metal, I truly do not know. But I can’t finish the ruddy thing without it.

Apart from that, it’s going relatively well, and it will be nice and functional. I need a metal saw to cut down two of the pieces of boning, because of the same problem I originally ran into with the busks, and I’ll have to do something about the missing one first too. Trust me, I’ve torn this place apart already – I had all of them when I started putting the boning in, I know I did, because I had each and everyone of them laid out on top of the fabric. It must be in Kitty Wonderland, along with a few odd earrings, a heavy pewter necklace, a nice pair of boots, and several pens. You know Kitty Wonderland if you’ve ever lived with a cat: Cat sees object she desires, cat takes object, cat deposits it in pocket dimension available only to those of the feline persuasion, human never sees said object again. Ever. (Although what Maggie-cat could possibly want with a piece of metal, I don’t – oh wait, yes, I do know. I need it. Therefore, she must have it. Cat-logic. Sigh.)

I’m going for a walk, and when I come back the missing piece of boning will magically be lying right in front of the sewing machine. And if it’s not, I will go work on the Great Canadian Novel. See if I don’t.

Determined

I am listless. Lethargic. Languid. Langorous. Languishing. Limp, even.

I have absolutely no energy whatsoever. The most action I have participated in over the last twenty-four hours was waking up much too quickly at 2.30 this morning to bounce out of bed and partially close windows. Some storm! Then, of course, I went back to bed with a headache because of the plummeting air pressure and the waking-up-too-quickly-ness.

I broke three glasses yesterday because someone who shall remain nameless insists on piling all the used dishes into the sink. He claims he can’t stand them being on the counter. My point of view is that the counter is smaller than the sink, so the dishes would get washed faster if they’re on the counter. In addition, piling them into the sink means that as they don’t get washed as often, they take up more room, and I can’t use the faucet to get water in the kettle. Finally, he has a bad habit of just piling, not thinking it through, which means that heavy plates and pots get put on top of glasses and delicate mugs, resulting in breakage of said mugs and glasses when attempts to shift the pots and plates out of the way are made in preparation for washing.

So I was irritated about the glasses. We now have two glasses from that set left. That’s it.

On top of that, I woke up in a crafty mood and pulled out a sewing kit I’d had in my possession for over ten years. Yes, indeed; with all my back problems I’ve been toying with the idea of finally constructing the corset I fell in love with lo these many years ago. Unlike others, I actually have enjoyed my previous experiences wearing a corset; I’ve done it a couple of times now for two runs of stage work, and they’re darned comfortable, let me tell you. So I ordered a reconstructed pattern and supplies from an American dry goods company and then left it, not having time or the sewing skill at that point to accomplish what the pattern asked. After ten years, I’ve acquired a sewing machine and made my share of insanely complicated Renaissance outfits, including a couple of boned bodices, so when I looked at the corset pattern yesterday, hurrah! It made sense! In fact, it was easy! I could put it together in a single day!

Yeah, well, the best-laid plans, etcetera, etcetera.

Having such long legs and a short waist, I have to adjust every pattern I use to shorten the torso, otherwise the waist ends up around my hips. I shortened the corset pattern and then on a hunch, I decided to check to see if the boning and the front busk closing would still fit.

My hunch was correct. The busk was now an inch and a half too long.

Busks are made of metal, like the boning. You can’t just trim it. So I folded the project up and seethed for a bit about the unfairness of the one-size-fits-all mentality. I wasted time on the Internet. I finished my reread of Howards End. I decided to watch the movie while the book was fresh in my mind.

The VCR didn’t work.

By now I understood that the day was in fact out to get me. Fine, said I; I’ll read, then. Upon which I remembered that I had just finished my current fiction and had to find another novel to read. I hate choosing what book to read next. Being between books is dreadful.

Then, of course, I broke the glasses before I even started washing dishes.

The day did get better. I watched Howards End over dinner with my husband once he’d reset the VCR. He had never seen it before and was surprised to discover an energetic examination of what constitutes richness, intellectual riches or material possession. I was delighted to re-discover how true the movie is to the book. I also decided to re-fit the pattern and allow for nice big seam allowances on the top and bottom, which I rarely do (why trim the seams when you can sew tiny ones to begin with?), resulting in the front busk just barely fitting. However, alas, there was no way to rescue the glasses.

Today looks like it will be another horribly listless day. At least I can finish the corset. I started another book, Still She Haunts Me, about Charles Dodgson (whose nom-de-plume was Lewis Carroll) and Alice Liddell (immortalised in Alice in Wonderland), but it’s rather banal, so I think I’ll switch to The Winter King which Tas has lent to me.

Know what else is frustrating? I can’t string my own bow. I manage to flex it to about an inch short of where I’d need it to be to slip the looped bowstring over the tip, and then I’m stuck.

Maybe I’ll go see what’s happening in the Great Canadian Novel, which acquired four and a half more pages on Saturday after all that procrastination, thank you very much.

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I think I’ll procrastinate a while longer.

Funny how I manage to work myself up into excitement over writing when I’m doing something else; I use it as a carrot. “Just think – when you’re done this, you can go write!” I can fool myself pretty well, right up until the point where I finish whatever work I’m doing, stand up to go to the laptop, and… well, maybe I’ll get another cup of tea. Hmm, I’ll check my e-mail. You know, I’ve been typing for three hours; I should reward myself by sitting down with a book.

Ceri and I met yesterday for our weekly check-up-on-each-other’s-creativity luncheon, and we commiserated over the tactics our minds create to escape actually committing anything to paper. During university, my favourite way to avoid working on a paper was to wash my hair. Now, it’s blogging. So I understood completely when Ceri looked at me and said, “I have no pages for you today. But I wrote that post on democracy.”

So she did. It’s a terrific post, too. I felt a bit embarrassed when I handed her my thirteen pages, though; guilty, almost. I buried myself in a magazine while she read them, half reading it, half dreading her reaction. I was pleased and (again) slightly embarrassed to note three out-loud laughs and at least one out-loud comment in the middle of it. She squared the pages at the end of it and said, “So, when do I get the next installment? This is terrific!” and away we went, discussing characters, scenes, and so forth. She asked if I knew where it was going; no, of course not, I said. I do have a vague idea; developments occur to me as I write, and I file them away to bring up later when it’s time, but I don’t have a point by point outline of everything that will happen. I know that I’m finding things out as my main character finds them out. Unlike her, however, I know roughly what’s going on in her environment and her society, so I’m one up on her already.

It’s odd. This is the first contemporary work I’ve ever done. I have piles and piles of fantasy tucked away – short stories, a novel, novellas, most set in a world I created which has been developing for about sixteen years now. My only ventures into anything remotely different have been two or three urban fantasies I’ve written, one which I even finished but exists only in longhand. I also never expected to write a comedy, which is what genre this ongoing work most definitely falls into. In all respects, this is a huge departure for me. I’m enjoying it immensely.

Not enough, obviously, to stop blogging and get over to the laptop and pick up where I left off, though.

I will. I will do it.

Although I so desperately want to curl up with Howards End

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I have a confession to make.

I am a tea snob.

I love opening a tin of good, loose tea. I love lifting it up and breathing in the symphony of odours of every ingredient. I love scooping it up in a tea ball, hooking the tea ball onto my teapot, pouring the boiling water into the pot (but not over the ball – mustn’t “scare the tea”). I even love watching the stream of golden brown liquid splash into my cup, steam rising. And then, of course, there’s that first heavenly sip, where those airborne flavours marry on your tongue and produce something hinted at previously and yet oh-so-different.

I am also, alas, lazy.

So, teabags are my friends in the mornings, and usually during the day, too, when I’m working on the computer. I’m a Twinings fan, and Earl Grey used to be my standby until they introduced a new flavour a couple of years ago: Lady Grey, a similar tea but flavoured with orange and lemon as well as bergamot. I was so excited about it I gave it to countless people, who were probably just humouring me. I’ve been using Lady Grey teabags ever since, which I have to pick up downtown since my local grocery emporium doesn’t stock it.

Until last weekend, when my mother and I walked into a specialty grocery store to pick up various dinner items. I saw rows upon rows of Twinings tins – a whole world of loose teas! – and nestled in the midst of them all was a blue one that I had never seen anywhere else.

Twinings makes loose Lady Grey tea.

I picked it up; I cradled it to my chest; I crooned to it. It came back to Montreal with me. This morning, I said to myself that I would make a proper cup of tea for the first time in months, and opened the tin.

The first thing that struck me was the look of it. Tea is, well, brown, little crinkly brown dry things. Lady Grey has blue flowers in it, and whiteish chopped up peel.

It was beautiful. Now, I know I went to bed late last night, and got up too early this morning, but it was, well, pretty. The blue was a nice Wedgewood or Spode-type of blue, and the flowers sort of look like lavender flowers. The tea was a warmer brown than I remember from my tins of Earl Grey, too.

Then the smell reached me.

I never realise how old my tins of tea are until I buy a new one. Old tea has a bit of a musty, flat smell to it when you open the tin, but it still smells like tea. A new tin smells alive.

And the flavour is… complex. A pot of tea made with loose tea is like freshly ground coffee beans to instant coffee. Sure, it’s coffee, but to what degree?

Excellent tea such as this should be enjoyed in the very best cup you have. My mother gave me a single bone china cup and saucer a few years ago with pansies on them which I am petrified of breaking, so as much as I’d like to use it, I usually leave it on the shelf and admire it instead. When I’m finished this mug, though, methinks I shall fetch it down, wash it out, and go sit at my laptop to work on the Great Canadian Novel.

Thoughts

If I were a mage, there are two things I’d invent immediately.

One: Self-cleaning dishes. Coming home after a week’s vacation to a sink of dirty dishes is bad. I don’t not enjoy washing dishes, I dislike having to wash them.

Two: Self-cleaning clothes. Doing laundry is expensive and time-consuming. Worse, though, is the Eternal Laundry Basket Curse all my clothes seem to be laden with: Where’s my brown shirt? Where are my jeans? Wait, I know – the laundry basket, because when I finally washed them, I didn’t have the energy to put them away in drawers where they’re supposed to go. At least they’re folded.

I found a copy of Bridget Jones’s Diary in a second-hand bookshop yesterday, started reading it on the way home, and finished it yesterday mid-afternoon. Brilliant. Now I have to see the movie, because in the book Bridget suggests doing a TV journalism piece on the off-screen romance between Colin Firth and Jennifer Ehle, the stars of the BBC Pride & Predjudice, and of course, Colin Firth is in the movie version of BJD, playing another Mr. Darcy. Look! Inter-media reference! I love it!

And for those who have not heard the news, we have the new car; the albatross is no longer in our possession!