Monday, January 16, 2017

Entertain Me

Written Words
My first world problem today is that my historical novel is too thick to lie flat. So I can't easily read it at meals. It's a library copy, a crappy new paperback copy covered with the thick plastic library cover. The pages have half the title and the page numbers cut off at the top of every page. If I wasn't being impeded in this way I would be whipping through The Fool's Tale because it offers plenty in the way of entertainment. It isn't wowing me with sincerity but there's a lot of history in there as well as English and Welsh stereotypes I hadn't really considered before. It also showed me the root of the Harry Potter house elf/sock system.

I'm also reading The Flood Girls. It's a hardback that lays open fairly well. (I may add a rating to all of my Goodreads reviews to say how well the particular book I read laid flat.) I picked it out at random off the fiction shelf. The scene I opened to had a middle aged date that was quickly heading to sex and I was hooked. It's about a godforsaken little Montana town and the recovering alcoholic who returns to see if her life is there. I think. So far anyway.

Movies seen in December and January:  Manchester By The Sea, Rogue One, Moana. A few impressions, will try not to plot reveal.
MBTS. Before the movie, I had to sit through the preview for the horror film Split. Because those audiences overlap so much. Gack. MBTS is full of such good acting and sense of place. And yet, it's one of those family dramas that might make more sense on a stage. And it's total Oscar bait. How do these families earn enough money to keep these big houses? Why are we put through this emotional wringer for very little resolution at the end? Maybe some would argue that makes the story more realistic but I'm not sure that's a good enough reason. Give me an arc, let the main character discover one new emotional outlet maybe?
Rogue One. I went back and forth on this and whether I wanted to see it in the theater. It was plenty entertaining but I could have survived just fine until DVD time. I liked The Force Awakens (ep. VII) better.
Moana. Oh that was a lovely time. I really liked the music and my eyes leaked during all the songs. I was pleased at how demigod Maui didn't just feel like a stand-in for Dwayne Johnson. It was a complete character and DJ was really acting and everything. I was delighted with the Shiny song sung by Jemaine Clement as the treasure hoarding crab.
Up next:  La La Land.

TV on the laptop
At a friend's repeated recommendation I've been watching Crazy Ex Girlfriend (CW and Netflix). It's cringe comedy but for me it's on the right side of the line: I find it funny rather than desperate/sad. And the fact that it's hybridized with musical numbers helps a lot. Plus lord knows there do exist people who have enormous brains and very little common sense or emotional boundaries. We hope they can get better!

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Whip up those turtles

Watching the forecast for the coming ice storm. I hope it won't be awful but think I will be able to stay off the roads. At least until Monday morning. Am remembering why I should work Veteran's Day next year and stay home on MLK Day.

Grist for the mill
Showing what metafilter does best, here's a wonderful thread discussion on parenting prompted by a fairly stupid article. The article is from the UK Telegraph about how the Dutch raise the happiest children and is high on the 'you're doing it wrong' scale. The discussion on mefi brings in interesting observations such as it's a privilege to live in a safe enough neighborhood so that kids can play outside unsupervised. And that Scandinavian parents don't work as many hours as US and UK parents which voila makes them able to parent better. Time and peace, both are luxuries. I'd rather have them than a new car.

I'm really overdue to pay my $5 and start commenting over there.

Keepin' a lid on it
There were two things I couldn't talk about last week so I could build up a head of steam and get them underway. First thing was get the xmastree down and out of the living room. I baked a last batch of gingerbread cookies and decorated them just because it's fun. The cookies helped fuel the tree dismantling and I think we did a good job of tucking the ornaments away carefully and not just throwing everything in a box willynilly. That was the best tree we've ever had, it smelled wonderful the whole time and had those short blunt needles. Sigh. It is now aging in the backyard and waiting for the annual burn.

Got three jogs in during the last week and that's enough for me to call it a pattern. I have been going to the indoor track at the public rec center. I feel lucky to have somewhere to go in the cold and dark. I would like to build a routine before spring and then get to take it outdoors again.

Mighty Girl points out a writer who considers how many times he'll do a particular thing in his lifetime. We don't know our own denominator number exactly but we can make a guess. "Number of times to swim in the ocean..." that one makes me feel a little sad here in the belly button of these USofA. There probably won't be many more swims for me on southern California beaches or on Sanibel Island. MG wrote a sweet greeting to the new year with resolutions and some habits to shed as well.

Octopus Updates
Read on Seanan's tumblr how octopuses at the Hatfield Marine Science Center (Oregon State) are treated. The commenter said that an octopus will indicate acceptance of a docent by putting their tentacles on them, they indicate rejection by squirting water. I hope this is true and am happy to hear about the policy for keeping each octopus only briefly in captivity. My inconsistent carnivore policy excludes octopus.

Wednesday, January 4, 2017


It's cold and I'm out of the habit of going to work. This week is a little rocky. But! There are end of the year book lists to read and that's a good thing. The cry of Booooks! is heard across the frozen prairie...

Here's Katyboo's list. Julian Barnes's The Pedant in the Kitchen sounds essayish and wonderful. Goodreads tells me that I read 76 books in 2016 but it includes the ones I marked as 'didn't finish'. I am old enough to do that (even though it still gives me qualms and I have to give myself permission out loud before I can put the book down).

My faves according to those pesky star ratings:

The Ancillary (Imperial Radch) trilogy by Anne Leckie. What a good series.
To Love and Be Wise by Josephine Tey. Charming and of its time yet also working from unexpected angles. I gobbled up the Inspector Grant books.
Can't We Talk about Something More Pleasant? by Roz Chast. Memoir with all her wit and self-doubt, it carries a warning message. How do we live out our last phase of life?
Behind the Mask: The Life of Vita Sackville-West by Dennison. Strong personalities and gardens in late 19th and early 20th century England.

May we all read well in the new year. I am currently reading A Court of Thorns and Roses by Maas. It's okay but I am ready for more things to happen. I started reading Spirit of Steamboat and was happy to fall into the arms of Craig Johnson for another Longmire installment. This is a shortie but I got the next book as well.

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Peaceful booms

Spent the last day of the year flying back from NM to KS. Got on the ground in time to see the setting moon: a red gold fingernail paring floating down to the horizon. Once home we walked over to our friend's house for a partay. Arriving late we actually stayed until the midnight (not my usual pattern). They looked for a countdown to watch in our time zone and instead of Chicago we ended up with Ottawa. The smarmy Canadian celebrity host seemed smarter and less oily than his American counterparts. Fireworks over the Parliament Building sealed the deal. Now I want to watch Canadians at every NYE! We could hear neighborhood fireworks in the distance as well. But the booms didn't go on too long.

I brought back treats for all courtesy of my mother's generosity. Despite my doubts it was great to spend time with my brother and mom. Ry grilled some salmon and we popped some delicious prosecco. She got what she wanted and rated it as the best birthday since her 50th. I was also informed that we should plan to do this every 5 years until liftoff.

Because my mother likes planning for her death we went through her folder of important docs and threw out some that were no longer relevant. Came up with a couple of questions for the finance guy and/or the attorney. I guess I'm lucky that she wants to get this all in order beforehand. It did make me a little sad. But then it made her happy to have it done so I guess that was part of what I was there for.

Good time off and more restful than the start of the hols. There is more cleaning and de-Christmas-ing yet to do. I may bake more gingerbread cookies because they're really good and using cookie cutters is fun.

Monday, December 19, 2016

Not all right

Cold water
I have realized that the adults are not stepping in. I'd love to be proved wrong by the end of January but judging from November and so far in December we are going to get an actively hostile government come inauguration. Not neutral or slightly bad but actively hostile to my interests. I am struggling with the idea of resistance. I started by going to the no guns on campus meeting and writing to some state legislators to ask them to change the law and not allow guns on campus and in university buildings starting next summer.

I'll look for other opportunities. Talked with Nod and we're going to keep paying taxes. For now.

From UV's blog:
"I am getting through the current times by thinking about gardening, which will probably end in me going full survivalist and learning how to make my own shoes out of dirt."

We got 2+ inches of snow on Saturday and it was pretty and terribly cold. I was grateful not to have to go more than 2 miles from my house. The tv weather folks were showing video of someone flinging boiling water into the air. It turned instantly to steam. I wish I had thought to blow some soap bubbles to see if they would freeze and settle on the snow.

The deep freeze spelled doom for the hot glue on my wreath. I have gathered the fallen pinecones and will attempt a re-do.

Wood smoke
How *do* we open the flue? Nod tried starting a fire last night with a party underway. As the house filled with smoke I opened windows and doors and was unhappy as the outside air was ~0F. Will try again under less populated circs. Once the smoke dissipated I felt much better and enjoyed the second half of the party thoroughly. Even had a good time playing CAH which is not my jam but good company is everything.

Lost objects
K lost her wallet a couple of weeks ago. She didn't have much cash in it. The learner's permit will probably be the most annoying thing to replace. It could be worse. But it's been a stab at her self image. She keeps getting upset about it and asking how could she be so irresponsible? Because objects are hard to keep track of? Then yesterday she mislaid a silver bracelet that she's worn since she was five. I tried to tell her that it happens to everyone. Either from inattention or accident some things are lost as we go through this vale of tears. Happily the bracelet turned up at her friend's house (in the blanket fort they built yesterday).

Tuesday, December 13, 2016


Pod people
AV Club recommends podcasts. I'm particularly interested in the McElroy boys' show.

Rebuke and thrust
Saint Michael the Archangel, defend us in battle, be our protection against the malice and snares of the devil. May God rebuke him we humbly pray; and do thou, O Prince of the Heavenly host, by the power of God, thrust into hell Satan and all evil spirits who wander through the world for the ruin of souls. Amen.

It should be drawn as a comic book. It has a fine stompy superhero feeling. I didn't know Catholics ever prayed to angels. Wikip confirms that ths one is pretty recent (late 1800s) from Pope Leo the thirteenth. I don't think I can use this prayer, hell is not something I have any use for. But maybe I need to find a good martial prayer to help me through the next four years.

Bread, man
I started looking at easy bread recipes recommended by mefites. This could require some thorough testing and tasting.
Whole wheat sandwich bread .
Easiest bread baked in a bowl. This looks like it takes more work but I'm intrigued.
No Time Bread. 2 packets of yeast per loaf may discourage me from this one.
Oat Soda Bread. From Heidi Swanson and friends. This one requires oat flour. I don't know if my little processor will grind the oatmeal enough but I look forward to trying it.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016


Having a wreath on the door has made me realize how often we collectively slam that door. Nod has found that he has a tendency to brush against it with his manly shoulder as he comes in. I have reattached multiple pinecones and look forward to many more.

Sing heyThe pirate couple's annual carol party happened without us again. It's just hard to get to San Francisco for it. She provided a link to a 'hunt the wren' type carol performed a capella by Steeleye Span.
The King:

Coffee spoon covet
Ginkgo Alsace Demitasse Spoons at Bloodbath and Beyond! $10 for 4 on Dec 1, 2016. Looks like my Boston Oneida flatware.

Disappointment Roll
Reminder to self: the last two times that you have purchased a veggie sushi roll at the cafeteria you've detected a faint scent of mold. Never buy this again.

Both pets had to greet the piano tuner today and see if she needed their help. She declined but clearly appreciated their interest. In the morning cat and dog both wait for me to open the back door. They leap out together, shoulder to shoulder when I finally get it open. There could be critters/chicken poop out there! Generally they come in separately. The dog is ready as soon as she's peed and had a sniff around the perimeter. The cat may have realized her mistake as soon as her paws got wet or she may be off sparrow watching. The dog seems to spend more time outside if the cat is out. Does she just like company? Or is she convinced that the cat is doing cool things that she should be in on?