Wednesday, October 7th, 2015 12:36 am
I read half of Ancillary Mercy in my outpatient appointment in E10 and the other half at home earlier this evening.  I adored it.  It is a very satisfying conclusion to the trilogy; it had me metaphorically on the edge of my seat at times; and there was cuddling.  I APPROVE.  I will probably reread it shortly just to revel in it more slowly.  I should go see what kind of price I have to pay for Adjoa Andoh to read it to me as well, as I've adored her reading of the first two.  (Answer: too much, and it isn't available for another day anyway)

Outpatient appointments are going well so far: last week I had chemo every day Tuesday-Friday, and this week and next I have monitoring appointments Tuesday and Friday.  The day unit can't organise the week after next for me yet because it's dependent on the monitoring results ...

(more about appointments behind cut because medical detail)

Read more... )

It has slowly been sinking in since last Monday just how wonderful, delightful, etc it is to have got into remission, to be on the standard treatment path with its very high chances of success, to be most definitely winning.
Tuesday, October 6th, 2015 03:56 pm
A bit late this week as I couldn't log in yesterday.

Honey Hive, Sydenham, London SE26

Anyway, this week's featured article is Honey Hive, SE26 5EX, a Caribbean cafe in Sydenham. It's also apparently vegan, which is surprising given that honey is not, but presumably they don't use it in their food... Anyway, it's a friendly cafe in the back of a bookshop.

New articles are: Koffees and Kream, a curiously-spelled cafe ("kafe"?) and bar with semi-industrial feel in semi-industrial Woolwich; The Castle Tavern also in Woolwich, no ale but loads of tasty Ghanaian food; The Cutty Sark in beautiful Thamesmead, although a dimly-lit pub; and The Princess Alice, another Thamesmead pub, a chain built-in-the-80s pub.

So there we go. Thamesmead, people!
Tuesday, October 6th, 2015 02:16 pm
Charles is nine today, and also Ancillary Mercy is released.

I have an outpatient appointment today and I said a few days ago "oh, I can read AM during the appointment ... oh, but it's at 3pm, I'll probably have finished the book by then".  Ahahaha.  I was up a bit too late last night and got up a bit earlier than I would have liked to be with C and other household members while presents were opened, and promptly slept another four hours or so.

So I am about to depart for the hospital with AM unread.
Tuesday, October 6th, 2015 10:48 am
"What do you expect from Tories? They're evil!"
"What do you expect from The Left? They're so self-righteous!"
Liberals are up themselves, greens couldn't run a whelk stall, kippers are racist... You know what this relentless tide of assertion of stereotype does? It makes the public hate all of us. Because quite a lot of the public believe all the negative assertions. We're all nasty and selfish and incompetent and have no empathy and, and...

Now I'm not saying I've never done this. I'm as prone to groupthink and tribalism as the next politician, although I try very hard to avoid it. All I'm saying is that most people, the vast majority of the general public, don't feel like they belong to any of our tribes and view all of us with suspicion. If we treat each other with contempt, how can we blame the public for doing the same to all of us?

I think we all need to be reminded sometimes that while our political opponents might have wildly different ideas to us, the vast majority of them came into politics for the same reasons we did and do: to change the world for the better. We might argue with their ideas of better, or how to achieve those ends even if what we can agree on what the ends might be, but I've met very very few politicians who weren't in it for the best of reasons*.

Shall we have a nice chorus of Wouldn't It Be Nice If Everyone Was Nice now? ;)

* no, seriously. The stereotype of the money-grubbing snout-in-trough politico is so wrong it's laughable - most politicians lose vast sums of money on it. But that's a rant for another day.
Monday, October 5th, 2015 09:11 pm
On Sunday morning, we headed for the excitingly named Devil's Spittleful nature reserve to meet members of the Worcestershire Fungal Society (and their baskets) and go out mushrooming.

Our curiosity was undampened by the cold, misty weather. We were rewarded when the sun burst through and began warming us just as we entered the chestnut wood. The group scattered under the trees, poking under the leaf litter to locate choice specimens.

Heading into the chestnut wood
Humuhumu on her daddy's shoulders, removing her gloves in preparation for foraging.

It quickly became evident that the walk organiser, Diana, was the Fungal Oracle. Everyone brought her their mushrooms for identification, and for each one she would give the Latin and common names, and describe how its appearance changed from sprouting through to rotting. I didn't get to listen to too many descriptions, sadly, as Keiki was not in a good mood (cutting another tooth) and I had to keep moving to keep him from wailing.

Our oracle, Diana, with a specimen
Diana with a mushroom. I can't remember which one.

We departed the wood after half an hour or so of foraging. Most baskets stayed empty, as there weren't too many edible specimens about. Diana's was the only basket with a substantial quantity, but that was because she was collecting inedible items for her records as well. As we walked toward the open field, it was explained to us that the purpose of the baskets was multifold: to maximise air circulation around the delicate mushroom flesh, to facilitate trading of edible specimens, and to allow the spores to drop through to the ground and thus assist the germination of the next generation of mushrooms.

Glistening ink caps
Glistening ink caps.

Hats and coats were thrown off as we left the shelter of the chestnuts for the open air and warm autumn sunshine. The more experienced mushroomers dove into the long grass, looking for the large white caps of tasty field parasols.

Immature field parasol
Immature field parasol. We only found two, but they were still pretty substantial.

It was nearing midday, and Keiki let us know that he would like to stop and sit down for a snack.

Enjoying a PB & J
He very much enjoyed his PB & J and a crawl around the grass, as did Humuhumu.

Basket full of mushrooms
Our oracle's basket was filling rapidly with all manner of beauties, including the very distinctive fire-engine red of fly agaric.

"Something bit my arm"
Humuhumu and Daddy walking the path. "Something bit my arm!" she said resentfully.

Although the fungus collectors' interest showed no signs of waning, we called time on the outing after about two hours. One final treat lay in store for us: we spotted the steam train that runs from Kidderminster to Bridgnorth pootling along the tracks running past the field. We waved our arms madly at the carriages and lots of the passengers responded enthusiastically, to Humuhumu's delight.

Kidderminster-Bridgnorth steam train
Friday, October 2nd, 2015 08:00 am
Thursday, October 1st, 2015 10:19 pm
Right now, our fourth room is our guest room. We have a big pull-out couch in there, and a couple of bookcases that are currently full of kids' books.

Somehow, we need to turn it into the baby's room. That means we need to get bookcases out of J's room and the guest room, get the couch out of the guest room and put it in J's room, build a crib and changing table and rocking chair and kid-size cabinet/closet, and move some of the bookcases back in.

J is able-bodied and fairly strong. R is somewhat able-bodied and not terribly strong. X is quite pregnant. This is more than we can really do on our own.

So! If you're available to come to our apartment (in Brooklyn, very near the Utica Ave stop on the 3/4) and help us move heavy things around on Sunday October 25 between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m., we would greatly appreciate the help. We will gladly pay you in delicious food and drinks, free books, and even bookcases if you'd like them. The books and bookcases are perfectly good; we just don't have room for the latter, so we're divesting ourselves of the former (and replacing them in digital).

If you're not up for lifting heavy things, come over anyway! You can keep us company, cheer us on, entertain us, go out for more chips, or just take books away. It'll be a fun little low-key party.

Usual apartment warnings apply: we have three cats (who will be shut away for the duration of the movinatin'), and we're up one fairly steep flight of stairs.

Please comment or email and let us know if you'll be joining us!
Thursday, October 1st, 2015 05:13 pm

For a few months, I was standing on the precipice of what I knew would be a slippery slippery slope into the expensive and time consuming world of LEGO fandom. Then Jurassic World LEGO came out, I got some vouchers for ToysRUs and I sent myself hurtling headlong down into the plastic depths, screaming “techniiiiiiic!” all the way down.

That’s a story for another day.

frontOne of my recent expensive-and-complicated presents to myself has been the Creator model “Detective’s Office” -partly because it looks pretty but partly because I wanted to remodel it at some point, maybe, to be a Detective’s office over a flower  shop (which has something to do with my interests as some people might know.)

That’s also not the point of this post.

The point of this post, with regards to the model Detective’s Office, is to ask; What the heck is going on?

What follows is what in the old days we’d call “not dial-up safe” but these days I guess I should warn against people browsing using mobile data plans.


Read the rest of this entry » )

This post can also be found at Feel free to join in the conversation wherever you feel most comfortable.

Thursday, October 1st, 2015 05:23 pm
And I'm still here[1], hurrah for medical research[2] and care.

A good day I think to post the updated How You Can Help list:.

Direct help
  1. Offer me lifts to/from Addenbrookes. I'm going to have a lot of outpatient appointments there between now and February or so, potentially any day of the week. Of the half-dozen so far, one was an hour, one was 3.5 hours, the rest were about 90 minutes. A number of lovely people have already offered and helped, but if you have a car and are willing to add yourself to their number, email me with a rough idea of whether there are typical times you could manage and how often you'd be willing to do so - and also whether you'd want to do a one-way trip or to wait around and do both ways. (I get reduced car parking as an outpatient, if needed.)
  2. Take one or both children out to play for an hour or two at weekends, e.g. at the local playground. Best arranged by emailing me.
  3. Invite Tony to things: pubs, cinema trips, parties, etc. I can't do these things right now, but he can, and could use a bit more social time outside the house. Best arranged by emailing him.
My preferred email address is rmcf @
Tony's is dot @

Indirect help
  1. Financial donations to the following:
  2. Blood donation. I've already had multiple platelet and red blood cell transfusions and will need more over the coming months. (This comes with the caveat that not everyone can or should donate blood, and I strongly feel that no-one should feel guilty for not doing so.)
  3. Bone marrow register.  (Anthony Nolan Trust runs one, as does the NHS; they work together).  I should not need a bone marrow or stem cell transplant ... but if I do, the registers increase my chance of finding a match.  This comes with the same caveats as blood donation, only even more strongly because marrow or stem cell donation are a rather more serious commitment and procedure.

I also want to thank everyone who responded with pictures and gossip and visits etc to the list Tony posted for me soon after I was first admitted. I was greatly comforted, and very touched.  I feel tremendously grateful for the wealth of friendship and family support we have had revealed.

[1] The morning the consultant let me go home, he said cheerily "These days, most deaths from this cancer have happened by this stage if they're going to."

[2] This
paper summarising "state of the art" treatment for APL, i.e. what I am currently following, was published in 2006.  Twenty years ago my chances would have been far worse.

Thursday, October 1st, 2015 12:03 am
I love gram flour. It's awesome, you can do so many things with it and it's gluten free¹. OK, mostly what I do with it is make a batter an deep fry stuff, but that's just nice.

I've messed around making bhajis, pakoras and, well, stuff. Tonight, I went for chunks of halloumi cheese and some quorn cocktail sausages I'd forgotten to use when we had guests Sunday.

An ounce of flour, enough water mixed in gradually to make it a cream consistency, poured over the chunks of stuff then deep fried at 180°C until it's golden brown.

Because I can handle low amounts of undeveloped² gluten I've replaced wraps with my old approach to sandwich making, so while that cools a bit (the 180°C bit is your hint it's hot) I put some rocket (USians: arugula) and spinach (everyone: the stuff popeye got from cans, some dressing (Tesco cheap salad cream) then put the battered stuff in and wrap it up.

Lovely. And, vaguely, healthy, if you ignore the transfats from the super hot sunflower oil.

1) ground up dried chickpeas, also known as chickpea or besan flour
2) you know breads and pizza dough needs kneading? Yeah, that's to develop the gluten, if it's had that done I can't eat it
Wednesday, September 30th, 2015 01:41 pm
For those of you who do not know about this, there is a list of topics upon which I will not venture an opinion, even though I hold one, because on those topics no matter what opinion you venture you are villified. It's called the Israel/Palestine list because that is a pertinent example of a topic upon which you cannot advance an opinion of any kind without otherwise sane and rational people frothing with hatred and loathing for you, despite agreeing with you on pretty much everything else.

I'm quite an opinionated person, and I like having a good debate, so the list is quite short. Today, however, it got a new item added to it:

Nuclear weapons.
Wednesday, September 30th, 2015 12:28 pm
So, the two parter which began the new series of Doctor Who is over, and the critiques have started appearing. I've read several. Some of them were very good, and went into great depth about elements of the story and the craft of writing it. Some of them were more superficial, and full of squee. Almost all of them, though, had one thing in common: they all concentrated on the Doctor/Davros relationship.

Now I'm a big Davros fangirl. I think he's a fascinating character, and his relationship with the Doctor is a complex one. I am dead set certain that when the Doctor says to Baby Davros "I've come to save my friend" the friend he is referring to is Davros, not Clara; this two parter struck me as being all about the nature of the Doctor's friendships. But* it does strike me that there's a big bit missing here.

I am reasonably sure that in any previous Doctor Who story the other major character would not have been so comprehensively ignored by almost everybody, except for those who want to complain about that character even existing. When The Master was a man, his every appearance was greeted with gallons of digital and literal ink dissecting his every nuance. Now (s)he's Missy, (s)he doesn't seem to matter any more. Missy is a woman over the age of forty, and can therefore safely be ignored.**

This really, really pisses me off, and not just because I'm less than 3 years away from hitting the magic age of invisibility myself. Michelle Gomez has put in a stunning performance as Missy, yet everything I read is about Julian Bleach***. Missy is the fulcrum on whom the majority of this story rests - it is she who gets the Doctor's Last Will And Testament Disc Thingy; it is she who works out that the space station is a fake and they're actually on Skaro; it is she who goads Clara, with the help of UNIT, into finding the Doctor in the first place, and it is she who (magnificently) pokes Davros in his electronic eye. At every turn she is advancing the plot or the other characters or both... And yet nobody seems to have noticed, because the only important thing is the bromance. I can dig that people like a bit of Doctor/Davros - hell, someone once wrote me Six/Davros slash for a birthday present - but really, people, there were LOTS of other characters onscreen too.

I actually feel sorry for the Moff here. I mean, he's clearly made a conscious effort to address his subconscious sexism**** in writing lots of women. And there goes the audience, still concentrating on the men. Because we've all been conditioned to think that what men say and do is important, and what women say and do is frivolous and can be ignored.

C-, must do better, Who fandom.

  1. I have not read every critique on the internet of the first two episode of the new series of Doctor Who. I am sure you can find counterexamples to what I have said here. One or two counterexamples will not convince me you have found anything other than exceptions. No, this does not mean post a huge long list of links that I will have to click on that will turn out to not actually disprove anything I have said at all.

  2. I am reasonably sure that none of the people I have read are doing this consciously or on purpose. I have spent a long time cultivating my various reading lists so that the sort of person who does this sort of thing on purpose does not appear in them. IMHO the fact that I have spent so much time making sure my reading lists are full of non-sexist people and this kind of thing still goes on is, frankly, even more disturbing.

* I like big buts and I cannot lie
** I don't actually know what Michelle Gomez's age is, but Missy/The Master is several thousand years old, and therefore well past forty.
*** my view? He's good, but he's no Terry Molloy. I realise there are those among you who think "he's no Terry Molloy" is the highest compliment one can pay an actor. You're wrong :P
**** Although not entirely successfully. For example, while all the speaking parts of the scene between UNIT HQ, Missy and Clara were women, women still made up less than 20% of the faces on screen. It's true, count 'em. All the snipers were men, for starters. This is Geena Davies's 17%-in-crowd-scenes thing right in front of our faces, and people on certain internet forums which I will not link to here STILL complained that the women were too prevalent, too noisy, etc.