Chapter 057 live…

BARRICADE

We shared the rest of the wicked – restless, light, constantly on edge. There was no way for us to just shut it all out and get the sleep we really needed.

We longed for Annie, for normal days, for the end of war.

There was no doubt we were heading into a war greater than we’d faced before – we were finished just surviving, we were heading to a fight with Harvey and whatever zombies lay between us.

Jay started from his uneasy sleep beside me, and was ready to go immediately. He twitched the curtains aside, then turned back to me, his mouth set in a grim line.

“It’s just getting dark.” He said quietly. “We should make a move.”

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The beginning

Flowers in the Attic – Revisited

I’ve read the gothic horror Flowers in the Attic by V.C. Andrews before – probably over a decade ago, when I was in my mid-teens. I actually read the entire series back then, and I read them with more of a shocked fascination than anything else.

Spoilers ahead, in case you haven’t read the book (or seen the movie).

fita

I turned each page this time around knowing what was coming. When the doughnuts first appeared, I knew what they meant. I knew what was hidden in the powdered icing. Every time Cory spoke, or did something, or was just so plain cute, I felt a little sick.

Strange, how as you get older, the shock and emotion comes from a completely different place. As a teenager, the shock was mostly of what Chris and Cathy did – their incestuous relationship, the hiding, the lying.

Now in my 30s, the shock comes from what their mother did to Cory. How she let all four of her own children wilt, slowly killing them all, with all but Cory eventually escaping on their own. I was utterly miserable after reading it, fascinated but sick with a grey kind of sadness.

Okay, it was sad, but it wasn’t real … right? Except that’s the problem with Flowers in the Attic – it’s always been claimed to be “based on a true story”. I tried to determine how truthful that claim was, but it’s been difficult – impossible – to completely determine one way or another. While I think it’s safe to say the book was clearly embellished, what if the seeds of the story – the children locked away – actually happened?

Even the editor, Ann Patty, has been known to confirm the story is at least partly true:

“Yes, Flowers in the Attic was based on a story she heard when she was in the hospital for a spinal operation…. Well, someone told it to her, yes. Some doctor there. So I’d guess that some aspects of it were true—at least the aspect of kids being hidden away. Whether the twins were real, the sex, the time frame, probably not. I think it was just the concept of kids hidden in the attic so the mother could inherit a fortune.”

The source of the story seems to be from a doctor in a hospital that V.C. Andrews came in to contact with:

“While at the “University of Virginia hospital for treatment…she developed a crush on her young doctor. He and his siblings had been locked away in the attic for over 6 years to preserve the family wealth.”

And:

Flowers in the Attic WAS based on a true story. Virginia was a young lady when my dad made arrangements to take Virginia to the University of Virginia hospital for treatment. While she was there, she developed a crush on her young doctor. He and his siblings had been locked away in the attic for over 6 years to preserve the family wealth. Obviously she cut the time back [in her novel] to be more believable. That area of the country has a lot of very wealthy people. I do not know who they were.”

Alluding to the story being at least partly true is even included in the original pitch letter:

pitch letter

So despite my best efforts, while not confirming completely whether or not this story is true, I also didn’t receive much comfort about the sadness I felt re-reading this novel. Even if this account is untrue, there are children locked and hidden away from the world, and now that I’m older (but not necessarily wiser), this is what I take away from these books. The sadness of a mother who loved herself too much, and her children too little.

Barricade: Chapter 056

BARRICADE

Morning came after a long, restless night with little relief from the worries that plagued us. Finally we gave up on the attempts to rest and found ourselves sitting in the dining room, waiting for the others.

“I don’t think they’re going to go for it.” Jay murmured, interrupting the silence.

“Would we? They have to protect Toby.”

“We wouldn’t let anything happen to him!”

The tension in the air felt palpable as I withheld my response from Jay. We both knew what I was thinking – we’d never let anything happen to Annie, either, and look how that had ended up.

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The beginning

What if workplaces had a pet?

This might be an awful idea. I’m jotting it down while I think.

Felix Firstly, this is Felix. She’s just received a promotion at work and a shiny new uniform and name badge.

From her Facebook page:

My name is Felix and I am the Senior Pest Controller for First TransPennine Express at Huddersfield Railway Station in West Yorkshire, UK.

She takes care of numerous jobs around the office, and is paid in daily treats and pats.

You’ll often find me in the ticket office helping with customer enquiries or patrolling the platform for pigeons and mice.

Looking at Felix in her adorable uniform, and thinking about how much joy she has brought her human colleagues, I can’t help but wonder if being given a “job” at a human workplace might be a better place for cats than stuck in a shelter long-term?

Considerations

This obviously wouldn’t work for all cats. I imagine it would be best suited to a cat who hasn’t been abused by some dickhead (and that’s referring to you politely), a cat who doesn’t mind being a little independent but also likes being around people. In fact, maybe it would be ideal for cats who are a little older and ready to settle into a comfortable daily routine of food, naps and lounging?

The workplace hours would have to be suitable – not closed for long periods, or with multiple people available to take the cat home and keep it safe if such closures were to occur.

Workplaces would also have to accept and agree to all the responsibilities of having an animal – keeping dangerous things away, committing to feeding and taking them to the vet, and so on.

Or perhaps the idea of a working cat, on a large scale, is not a permanent one. Maybe it’s more of a foster care system – the cat gets a new home, gets exposed to a lot of new people, gets socialised, etc – and one of the office staff may choose to adopt, or the shelter can use the publicity generated to advertise for a new home for the cat.

Cats are definitely capable of holding down full-time employment: 

 

Boss

Being the boss

techsupportcat

Tech support

Filing

Taking care of the filing

muse

Inspiring the team

 

Keto Food Review: Bulletproof Coffee

Coffee One of the struggles we’ve found for keto has been juggling our protein intake. We have our macros, so we know where we should be at, but I find us constantly creeping towards – and over – our protein limit.

We decided to give bulletproof coffee a try for breakfast this morning.

A couple of things – it’s Monday. Ugh.

I don’t really drink coffee. My idea of “going out for coffee” is ordering a chai latte. Hell, sometimes (read: often) I opt for a soda.

Imagine my surprise when not only did I enjoy the coffee, but it’s been over four hours and I’m still feeling satisfied. I was skeptical when I read two bulletproof coffees can see you through to 9PM, but I can believe it now.

I guess that’s a constant with keto, though – you’re just not hungry on a ketogenic diet. You’re satisfied and occasionally, peckish.

The worst part about not being on keto is the hunger. I’d actually kind of forgotten just how damn hungry I get when not on keto. This is complimented by shaking and headaches. Brilliant.

I’m a big fan of bulletproof coffee, immediately, because:

  1. It’s delicious
  2. It’s satisfying
  3. It’s low in protein
  4. It’s quick
  5. I can drink it while commuting

Last but not least, I get to make those comments coffee drinkers have been making around me for years! “Not without my coffee!” “Hand over the coffee and nobody gets hurt!” “Working hard, or hardly working?!” Hurr! 😀

 

Let Them Stay…

letthemstay

I don’t want this blog to be about politics.

But there are things happening in my home country that make me ashamed. I tried to write this entry earlier, but I was too upset, too angry.

Now I sit here as nighttime has fallen, and I am in my own home. I’m free to come and go, free to live a life without restraints and bars. Apparently I earned that right when my ancestors were sent here, as criminals, for such petty crimes as stealing gloves.

I grew up in this country, with an open mind and heart. I went to school and sang our national anthem and was told that it meant something, that the words were a part of Australian beliefs, a part of our way of life.

For those who’ve come across the seas
We’ve boundless plains to share;
With courage let us all combine
To Advance Australia Fair.

(By the way, the orchestral version of our national anthem – often played for Australian sporting victories – is by an immigrant from Hungary.)

Why, then, is our government treating the innocent of the refugee crisis like this? Why are reports of child and sexual abuse being ignored? Why is the plight and mental health of hundreds of people dismissed while they spend years locked up in off-shore detention?

Naurua At what point are we going to say, well, okay, seeking asylum is a human right. Kids shouldn’t be spending over 900 days in detention. Maybe we should be listening to the countless medical professionals who have expressed genuine distress at the levels of abuse and the mental well-being of these refugees.

This week, churches around the country have announced that if the refugee families at risk of being returned to detention can make their way to them, they will offer them sanctuary as best they can.

Late last year, Australia’s human rights record came under scrutiny from more than 100 countries at the UN.

“We are not role models on issues of asylum, we are pariahs.” – Prof Sarah Joseph, director of the Castan centre for human rights law

We have sustained failure to meet international standards for protecting asylum seekers.

Why, then, are we allowed to continue to treat refugees this way?

How can I sit comfortably knowing that my country – the country with ‘boundless plains to share’ – is perfectly content to lock people away (children, families, people convicted of no crime) and turn their back on claims of abuse? How can any of us be comfortable with the idea that report after report has been written that says we are doing appalling damage to the refugees, to the children?

Why are we content to let innocent babies – babies who were born in this country – be returned to detention? Are they not Australian? Do they not have a right to be safe and free of detention? To be protected from abuse?

I am not proud of my government. I am not proud of being associated with the way Australia is treating refugees. I hope for something to change, and I look to the future – where we will apologise, where we will claim we didn’t know – but we did know. We have no government to represent us. We have no opposition party worth a damn.

 

A Feast Fit For Hobbits

the_seven_daily_meals_by_missqueenmob-d85cdw7

The Seven Daily Meals by missqueenmob

If there’s one thing we’ve learned about Hobbits from the books, movies and game, it’s that they like to eat. By the way, if you haven’t played Lord of the Rings Online, I cannot recommend it highly enough.

Loving to eat often comes hand in hand with loving to cook – and being good at it – and Kate Young has created a recipe based on the last meal the Hobbits enjoyed before embarking on their journey:

One to two other hobbits belonging to the farm-household came in. In a short while fourteen sat down to eat. There was beer in plenty, and a mighty dish of mushrooms and bacon, besides much other solid farmhouse fare. The dogs lay by the fire and gnawed rinds and cracked bones.

The dish Kate Young has come up with is a Mushroom, Bacon and Leek pie, the recipe is listed here. It sounds delicious but is obviously not keto friendly, if only because of the pastry and flour. The good news is this recipe is probably quite adaptable to being keto friendly, and I’m tucking it away on my list of things to try. But not today, because today is a terrible day for cooking on account of being nearly 40 degrees.

I think even Hobbits would find something cool to eat on such a day.

For a start, though, there’s a keto pie crust recipe all ready to go. If care is taken with the leek (which reportedly contains 0.8g carbs per 6g), and other dubious ingredients like the sherry, I think this could become quite a mean – and hearty! – keto recipe.