Update on the house situation

I've been neglecting ALL my online spaces in the past few weeks (there's a fanfic chapter that's proved it ain't gonna write itself) but at least I'm moved in to the new house, and have gotten a lot of the basic stuff organized.

Among the basic things that just got sorted out today was stuff to sit upon in the living room. When I moved home from Texas and came to Halifax, my parents gave me their old shabby living room set from when they were first married, in the expectation I would soon turf it and replace it with new stuff.

Hah! Turns out I am (a) cheap, (b) lazy, (c) emotionally attached, (d) all of the above.

Also, when my back went out that first time, I quickly realized that I cannot sit on a soggy sofa. The one I have is solid and unyielding and doesn't do anything awful to my back-- although the cushions hadn't been redone since about 1979, which meant it really was like sitting on a board. (There is plywood under the cushions, put there when the original bands gave way.)

I've been saying for years that I wanted to get the set reupholstered, but didn't make a move until the actual house move beckoned-- at that point it seemed sensible to send it out from one address and get it returned to another.

I just got the pieces back this morning. Behold!

Collapse )

Of course, right now they're covered in fleece throws for everyday protection against cat hair, but I'm pretty impressed with the craftsmanship. And I can't wait for my folks to see the results!

I read the news today, oh boy

The news from Ferguson was not unexpected, but...

Okay, this is the point at which I would normally be scrupulously confessing that Canada, too, is a racist country with plenty of problems. At this moment, though, that just feels like derailing. Also, I'm not usually a pessimistic person and I generally hold that things (in general) are not getting worse than they were in the "good old days." However, at this moment in history, I can't see that race issues in the United States are getting better.

More than one online commenter has pointed out that Mike Brown was "not an innocent," since he allegedly stole something from a convenience store shortly before he was killed by the police officer (who knew nothing of the alleged crime.)

So: in the United States, the penalty for being suspected of petty larceny is now summary execution? Good to know.

I'm too sick and sad and angry and ashamed to say anything else about this right now. I'm at work, but I want to crawl back home and listen to Odetta for the rest of the day. Since I can't, here she is for everyone:


A bargain, really...

Estate that inspired Jane Austen is on the market. For seven million pounds, and worth every penny.

Which reminds me-- Ray Bradbury's dated, charming home has recently sold, and I hope it went to a huge fan who won't change a thing. Because, for all the questionable wallpaper and awkward kitchen layout, it feels remarkably homey, and it would be a shame to "update" all the character out of it.

In the meantime, my own moving plans progress apace. I close at the end of the month, on Monday an upholsterer is doing a quote on my battered-but-beloved mid-century couch and chairs, and I've booked the mover and the rental of a lot of "frogboxes," which are reusable plastic moving boxes. There's lots more on my list but it's a start.

The kind of reality series I could get into...

Clip from a British series called Spitfire Ace, in which contestants compete to be the one trained in a Spitfire. This clip features one of the modern-day instructors in a modified two-seat Spit trainer (which they didn't have in the old days--it was all solo, all the time) flying with a Battle Of Britain veteran in the rear seat.

Apparently, he still knows how to do a victory roll.

(And if you've seen First Light you probably catch Geoffrey Wellum participating in the voiceover.)

Female players in those Battle of Britain books

It's fun how often when reading about one thing, you pick up other bits of information.

I already knew about the female pilots of the Air Transport Auxiliary (who, among other things, referred to the Spitfire as the "perfect lady's aeroplane.") I did not know about the women engineers who worked on aircraft in those days.

I give you Beatrice Shilling, who devised an ingenious little device to prevent flooding in the legendary Rolls Royce Merlin engine.

And Beryl Platt, who worked on the Hurricane during the war and on aviation safety after it, before moving on to a career in politics.

And the Canadian on the list, Elsie MacGill, Queen of the Hurricanes, who initially designed aircraft at Canadian Car and Foundry, and then taking a major role in the plant's wartime production of (you guessed it) Hurricanes.

There are books written about Shilling and MacGill. The least I can do is try to get my hands on them via document delivery!

What I'm reading...

I believe I mentioned, over the summer, that I'd gone on a bit of a rampage with regard to books about the RAF in World War II. The aforesaid rampage caused some very interesting items to pop up in my "Recommended" lists on Amazon. (And let me note, Amazon recs have improved a great deal since the days when my purchase of Seabiscuit got me recs for books about general American history!)

One of them was a book called First Light, written by Geoffreyy Wellum, one of the youngest pilots in the Battle of Britain. It was originally written as a piece of personal reflection in about 1971 and then put away in a drawer, but historian and novelist James Holland, doing research for a work of fiction about the Battle of Britain, interviewed Wellum around 2000. Wellum apparently offered him a chapter that described a day in the life of an operational squadron, for research, and Holland was so impressed he asked to see the whole thing and then took it to his publisher.

Some of you may have read it already. Everyone else, if you're interested in aviation or WWII history, should look for a copy immediately. I can't vouch for the accuracy of details but the sense of immediacy and emotion are really striking, and the character feels like a very young, likable guy at the beginning of the book and then ages rapidly throughout. The flying sequences are extraordinarily vivid, and I especially liked his description of his first trip in a Spitfire--if you've ever read a "pony book" in which the heroine tries to ride a horse who's too much for her, gets run away with, and hangs on until she can persuade the horse to listen to her--that's pretty much it. It was hilarious and harrowing, frankly.

I'm about halfway through and trying not to get attached to anyone but Geoff and the three guys who are identified in a photo as having survived the war, but that's not easy. This really is a well-written and engaging memoir.

Popping up everywhere

You know how you can go for years without thinking about something or someone, and then you see them once and they're everywhere? I'm not sure that's exactly what's happened to me, but it is a fact that Vin Diesel rarely crosses my mind-- and then I saw Guardians of the Galaxy, and on Friday night I went to look at a house and the owner looked just like Vin Diesel.

He apparently teaches middle school. I wonder if his students randomly ask him to say "I am Groot" for them?

Anyway, the house was one I've been interested in for a while, very cute little place but in person needed more work than I thought I was up for. Also the basement was very damp.

The staircase behind an apparent closet door, leading up to a secret loft that could be the book nook, is still tempting. But no.

Also went to look at a place with a similar layout to one I like on this side of the harbour--in person it felt ENORMOUS, which the square footage didn't suggest it would. Weird. Also the driveway was so steep I would want wheel chocks and a butt rope for my poor little car.

The house I've liked most so far is above what I wanted to spend, but everything is finished. BUT-- two people have already warned me about the neighbourhood it's in. Which might be part of the reason it's still hanging around on the market.

Next step is to look at semi-detached options, which somehow feel a little less overwhelming and often include a finished basement for laundry and cat litter. And that treadmill I was given in trust when my parents moved and which I have gradually buried under piles of junk in the back bedroom. (Which is being excavated, rather slowly but surely.)

I'm almost afraid to tell the realtor about a new listing with "updates needed" that has all the good bones you could want. It might need a full rewiring or something. Or maybe the seller assumes a new buyer would want to get rid of the pink tile in the bathroom.

In which case-- they would be wrong!

Anyway, it's too early in the process to feel guilty about putting my realtor to a lot of extra effort, but after three expeditions I confess I am beginning too...