Thursday, December 29, 2011

The grab bag approach continues

Here's a phrase that surfaces sometimes when I'm thinking about doing things I don't want to do or trying to move gracefully through the world: complete the gesture. If I washed a load of clothes and dried them and pulled them out on the floor in front of the drier -- I should probably fold them and put them away. I'll be happier when it's done and my floor is clear. Complete the gesture; get to the end of my original intention. I'll acknowledge that grace is not always achievable in this life and that sometimes the fucking laundry (thanks Weet) can just stay on the floor while I attend to other urgent matters. But my default setting is way-laid-back when it comes to housework and arranging my immediate surroundings. I need fortification when it comes to getting things shipshape.

We've kept the house fairly picked up for Christmas and my mother-in-law's stay. It could use another session of all four of us picking up everything we see on the floor in the living room. Maybe tonight! What can I use for bribes? Vacuuming hasn't become commonplace but there's hope for more often than quarterly.

Elaine was an enthusiastic guest as usual. She washed many dishes and listened to the kids explain lots of things. She gave me the book I'd asked for (Yay! Hats for cats!) and money and gave Nod an extravagantly expensive Columbia coat that he asked for. It's red and black and he looks just one red cross patch away from ski patrol when he puts it on. We ventured out to Cabela's the day after Christmas to find a hat for his extra large head. They had a few brimmed wool hats left and a few of those were extra large. He ended up with a good looking Pendleton crushable in black. I favor brown or olive but after all, the black goes with his new coat. Everyone and his dog was at Cabela's -- lots of returners and whole families wandering, some crying babies and toddlers. We peered at the giant catfish, looked briefly at the gun library (love that name), the girls fed the other kind of fish (sorry, I didn't inquire) and we got the hell out of there. It was the mall experience I didn't have before xmas. And that'll do thanks.

Coming into the airport parking garage somehow Elaine and I got to talking about past Republican presidents and the comparative speaking abilities of GBs I and II. We agreed that we didn't appreciate GB I's ability to string together coherent sentences until we met the next one. She suggested that the elder's honorable military service also made a refreshing contrast to every other president after him. I felt that that was leading us down a path we couldn't agree on and made a vague noise. Katy asked whether Reagan was a good president and I said It depends on who you ask, then I wondered if that would offend. I think Elaine said something about him having done good things for the country. And that was enough of that.

We had a fab turkey on xmas day. 11# is small for a turkey. I dry brined it (see the LATimes for instr) in two days and it cooked fairly quickly and was great. I'm going to try and remember to stick with small. We are still working on it but have made much progress. I asked Nod this morning if I could chop and freeze the remainder of the meat but he stayed my hand. Maybe turkey enchiladas...? I made the gravy later in the day after the feast. Nod doesn't care about gravy so there was no pressure from him. I love it but I find it a time consuming process that demands much attention and drives me bonkers if I try to do it after getting everything else ready. Now finished, it is delicious. Once it went into the fridge it geled because of all the gelatin from the roasted bird. I love to lather it onto the bread for my turkey sandwiches.

But actually I am now in the mood for lasagne and have decided to double my recipe and do two at a time, one meat and one veggie only. That way everyone in the fam is happy and there will be enough to freeze for later. And it's enough of a production that I'll be happy to get twice the finished product.

We sent a birthday card signed by lots of neighbors to Maria, the girl from Brazil who lived here for almost two years with her parents. She and Katy have been emailing a lot lately. One day she and Katy were online at the same time and so got to send short msgs back and forth for instant replies. K cried this morning when I was shooing her off the computer. Maybe you don't know what it's like to have a best friend who lives all the way in Brazil! she wailed. I guess not, at least not exactly. I decided to hold my tongue and be sympathetic. K is having some more pangs that look like adolescence lately.

Katy is also bored at school and I don't know what the best approach is. Language seems like a good target. She and some friends have been learning some ASL at Boys & Girls Club (college student teacher and deaf classmate are helping). Favorite sign: bacon. We're also going to check into some French classes that a schoomate is doing. We looked at one of my old elem. French textbooks but it doesn't look like the place to start.

On our drive back from the airport Katy said that she heard that several girls in her grade started their period this year and two started last year during third grade. I said that it could happen any time after 8 (! god that seems unlucky to have to deal with that mess from the age of 8) but that probably it would happen when they're around 12 since that's the age that I and their maternal grandmother started. I also said that I didn't know when Elaine had started her periods and I didn't really want to ask her. I think it's been a couple of years since I did the last session of body maturation/sex facts talk. Lexi had forgotten what a period was so we reviewed. She asked about the sex ed book I'd checked out from the library so we'll get that one again. Good to refresh and see what new questions come up.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Short

If it is raining in the evening and the temperature drops overnight, the rain can turn to snow. A thin layer of ice may cover your car making it hard, or even impossible to open the doors. That's what I thought had happened this morning. No amount of banging on the doors helped. So we scraped ice off the Subaru (I was able to get those doors open with thumping) and were just a little late to school / work. Since I took the Sub and couldn't open the Mazda I had no parking pass. Of course I had a parking ticket when I left at noon. And then I went home to see if the Mazda had thawed. It had. But I also noticed that I needed to UNLOCK it in order to get in. The fact that it's locked being another reason that car doors might not open. I will be paying a $25 stupidity ticket to the venal grasping Parking Office.

I was a cooking rockstar and made roasted chicken wings and thighs and a potato leek parmesan frittata last night. I mailed my mom's bday giftie pkg today. Such accomplishments. I'm twiddling thumbs at work waiting for the five bell to ring.

The kids and I have been watching some Glee. They like it. I do too but it is short attention span theatre and not very appropriate, to use that popular parenting word. I told Katy last night that I was taking it back to the library before her grandma arrives. I just don't want to watch that with Elaine.

There is a picture of some people dressed up as the 3 Magi for a living nativity in this post. As noted in the comments, the secret to good magi is always funny hats. To immediately contradict this rule, Katy won't have a very funny hat, she has a costume-crown-looking crown. But as she's the ittiest Wise Man she's funny enough without.

Do you have a glow? It's lovely and sunny today here for the shortest day. Happy Solstice to all. And around we go again.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Late but not out

Minutiae. I haz it. This noon I went home with a to do list. I didn't get to the birthday present shopping for my mother that I wanted to do. These were the things that had to be done:
  • Gas in car (it was doing that almost stalling thing it does when the tank gets low. Nod says it's a pressure sensor that needs to be replaced. Keeping the tank above half full works too.)
  • Find phone (I forgot it this morning and hoped the school would not need to reach me for child crisis. I wasn't very worried because they do have my work number too. I found the bugger next to the tv where I had left it last night after watching Wallander*.)
  • Take pill (tetracycline for my acne, I do not need to miss any pills.)
  • Bedding in washer (Lexi and I are a symbiont pair as she doesn't wake up to take herself to the bathroom in the night. Sometimes we're in sync and the bed stays dry. Sometimes I sleep all the way through the night (decadence!) or don't wake up at the right time, and the bed gets wet. We're having a wet week so far.)
  • Email teachers (I needed to tell them that I will pick the kids up on Thurs afternoon instead of having them go to the after-school program.)
  • Pluck (my whiskers are asserting themselves)
I got it all done (except for the plucking, whiskers bring luck, don't they?) and ate my lunch. I'm rather proud of scrabbling my way up to minimum standards.

*I'm watching some of the Wallander episodes, Swedish police procedural mysteries. Starring a grumpy rumpled Branaugh. The sort of thing I like to read. I'm not liking the dramatization as much as I expected to. Nothing wrong with it except for some predictability. I may abandon in midstream.

Gifties. Here's what I've got.
Nod: a box of 100 bits. M&Ms for stocking. I will give him an empty box to represent the hat we'll look for after xmas.
Need to get: nothing although I may get him the glow-in-the-dark frisbee he asked for

Katy:  green converse sneakers, black leggings, From the Mixed up Files of Mrs. Basil E Frankweiler, little rainbow sketch book and star candies for stocking, calendar to share with her sister, goofy panda hat (she picked out the last two).
Need to get: pair of earrings, silver chain if I can find one for not much, stocking toy?

Lexi: Fairy book, little rainbow sketch book and star candies for stocking, Littlest Pet Shop thingie (that she picked out)
Need to get: something cute!, silver chain if I can find one for not much, stocking toy?

Elaine: gloves, empty hat box like Nod.
Need to get: pie plate (she asked for this)? Or?

Georgia, for birthday on the 28th: card, produce bag with asparagus on it, recommendation for Alone in the Kitchen with an Eggplant, CD of our neighbor's sweet music.
Need to get: another asparagus thingie? magnet? it needs to happen tonight so I can box it and then mail tomorrow.

Need to do in order of direness:  Georgia, Lexi, Elaine, Katy, Nod.

I really should start sooner next year.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Food and Music

Braised cabbage by the braising expert Molly Stevens, thank you! When I announced my intention to braise cabbage, my husband made a face and asked whether this would stink up our house for the day. I said that he was free to leave if it did. But the dish cooks for two hours covered in the oven to start. Then goes under the broiler for the last bit when it's already mellow. So no stink at all and it was so good I had a hard time sharing.

I'd like to make ginger snaps. I've intended to all week long but there hasn't been a lot of extra time/energy. I can't quite get all the way to gingerbread people although my kids are ready to make some. Maybe next week.

"Oh my God! What is wrong with that apple!" Katy's heartfelt response to Lexi's apple pomander that she brought home recently. It is not a lovely object, studded with black cloves and sort of dented. I thought pomanders were made with oranges (that keep longer than apples). But it does smell good. We may re-purpose it to make cider soon.

I found a bird carcase in the freezer and made broth a week ago. Its size and perfume told me that it was last year's T'giving turkey. Thrifty! At least it got used in the end. The broth boiled quite vigorously and turned out cloudy so I'm not expecting anything great. JOC tells me (I consulted it after the fact, boo hiss) that the secret to lovely clear broth is keeping the heat down to a simmer. Okay, next time (scuffs toe). I'm hoping that sitting in the fridge has allowed some stuff to settle out anyway. I will use it to make this. More cabbage. It's a soup from Scotland but the cabbage theme makes me feel that the older I get the more eastern european I become.

Katy's 4th and 5th grade music program was last night. After last spring's waste of everyone's time I was a bit apprehensive. But I knew that Katy was accompanying one song on piano and that she'd worked very hard to get ready. The music teacher is new this year, a cute young person who plays flute in a rock band and has an easier time getting the kids' attention. (Honestly the retiring music teacher last year looked like she had one foot in the grave, poor woman.) And I was bowled over. It was delightful. The kids were tuned in and enjoyed the music -- almost everybody on almost every song. Katy had one performance under her belt because they sang for the school that afternoon. "I didn't make any mistakes," she bragged. "I felt hot and then I shivered before we started," she told me. We talked a little bit about adrenaline. You lived through it! I said. And she did great in the evening. The music teacher got choked up at the end and told the audience, You have the *best* kids! and she implored us to keep them involved in music. Aw. The electric bass soloist on Clapton's "If I Could", Olive, sort of stole the show for me. Aside from being terribly proud of Katy. I guess I'm allowed to leak a few tears at this sort of parent bait. I'm just a big squishy mom after all.

Neither food nor music: the war in Iraq is over. I heard that. Mostly I keep reading people who talk about knowing it was a bad idea to begin with. For me I had much more mixed emotions and opinions. I'm not proud of it but I wanted the USA to punish someone for 9-11. It was a common attitude that explains much of what happened. What I am glad about is that the US national mood does not seem so belligerent now. I'm sure there's plenty of ugliness in the storeroom should we need it. But we do seem to have worked that out of our system. Would it have been better to... Who are you kidding? There are no do overs. The decisions got made for good or ill. Here's to an abundance of caution when it comes to military action overseas. Did you know that the US Embassy in Bagdad is enormous and seems to be full of FBI and CIA operatives? I learned that today. Provocative and possibly unwise...

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Itty bits

My tongue hurts. I have an inflamed tastebud. I don't know if it's caused by the same viral or bacterial thing that happens with mouth ulcers. The pain is similar. This one is in the middle of my tonge, just to the right of the midline. I don't feel it all the time. And yet I'm writing about it. Begone tiny ailment!

Our christmas tree is perfect. I catch my breath when I come down the stairs and see it lit up. I am really liking the idea of the tree as the sacrifice to the holiday this year. I'm over any scruples as to killing a tree for my pleasure. It is after all a beautiful, compostable, symbolic object. So much family history is on it, as well as shiny stuff.

Katy's music program at school is this Thursday. She is accompanying the singers on piano. I don't think she really has control of the piece but she's worked something up and I think it'll be good. She has been practicing regularly, and not freaking out much. I hope that part is a formative experience.

I'm two thirds of the way through Soon I Will Be Invincible. I like it quite a bit but keep expecting it to be shorter. The comic book motif just has me in the mood for a quickie read I guess. I greatly admire the layers and layers of hero/villain convention. The Nancy Mitford twofer of The Pursuit of Love and Love in a Cold Climate was sweet. I may buy some of her other novels to keep in reserve, just in case I need something fluffy and British and vintage.

Next Monday is the 19th so that gets my attention and I am doing a little bit of holiday sweating. I am sending some cards, the family photo turned out fine. I am trying to find something for my mother and my mother in law. I just found a cute bag printed with asparagus on etsy. That may be it for G.

Such quotidian smallness. That's what I've got right now. And I'll take it.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Into the cave

On Sunday I found myself unwilling to leave my house even though I wasn't doing anything very interesting at home. It took my youngest daughter's personal invitation to come join in Christmas tree trimming to get me up and out. (Nod was the one who sent her, he knows I like that sort of thing.) I was glad I went. When I came home I finished cooking for potluck and then I poured myself a very deliberate glass of wine to help with the socializing. Later I realized that I have a touch of the blues. I'm having circular thoughts about fading away, becoming a nonentity who no one will ever want to converse with again. Just typing that makes me get on that mental train again. But even if I am sleep inducingly boring at times I am still a human and I am still full of possibilities. Watch out! Seasonal and hormonal fluctuations be damned. I'm going to get my short sword and light the lantern and let's get on the way down this winter passage. No way out but through.

I've been tearing through Nancy Mitford's The Pursuit of Love and Love in a Cold Climate which I have together in one handy volume from the library. I am enjoying myself and reading bits about Uncle Matthew out to Nod who has listened patiently. The narrator thinks one should not raise children without a nanny. She observes that progressive don's wives who do so slowly become morons and their children look like slum children and behave abominably. There's plenty of distance between these (fictional) landed English weirdos and the rest of us.

We're going to get a Christmas tree, the one in the Common House is not enough. I have a new notion of where to put it. So I need to shift the tv stand and take all the VHS tapes down to the basement tonight. Maybe I can get  the living room vacuumed although after 8 weeks of not I'll be more surprised if I do. We did make some noticeable progress with the basement over the weekend. And Katy thinks we should rearrange the dishes and glasses so the kids can reach them. She's right. They can unload the dishwasher if we do so. It could even be fun. It is good to feel in charge of the objects around one rather than at their mercy.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Red Rocks

We did it! Drove to Denver and back and got a good visit in the middle all in slightly over four days. It was a good proof that we can do such things. Maybe Wry will come out and bring his boys some time to visit us.

It's been almost a week since we've been back and the short days and holiday amp up have kicked my butt. But I'm getting through my Friday and I've started my period and onward!

We had a great time seeing wildlife on this trip. A friend who lives on the west side of Denver showed us the prairie dog towns at the edges of her burb. The critters were fat and active and those dusty fields were such busy places. The most populous fields were the grounds of the federal prison. No trees, good sight lines and black tailed prairie dogs are federally protected. A marriage made in heaven. As we were driving back and stopped at a light Katy sang out -- "aren't those bald eagles?" And damn! there were two eagles on the ground to our left, about 40 yards away. One was busily eating what we assume to be a prairie dog. Circle of life!

We saw deer and antelope. The pronghorns were a first for Nod, he was delighted. They were browsing in a stubbly field in the morning as we headed west out of Denver. I have seen them often in Colo, Utah in rockier country.

Allison took us to a great hiking trail. We made it up to the top of a ridge which allowed the kids plenty of rock climbing (both of them were almost baying with their desire to climb ) and left us still alive. I smelled a beautiful pine tree and it was vanilla ponderosa flavor. Mmmm. We were pooped after the high alt hiking. Drove over to Red Rocks Ampitheater since it was right there. I've heard about that place since high school when Angie Lee went to see U2 there. Still jealous. She was lucky to have a big brother, I'll bet that's why she got to go. The photo above is the southern view of the big stripey rocks. Thank you to the photographer I ganked it from. It is a gorgeous place. The sun was starting down and the kids were whiny so we just peeked over to see the seats and stage before scramming. I'm glad I saw it. And really I'm glad to have seen it without 20000 other humans to wade through.

The T'giving meal was great. My bro and his companion Jennifer toiled hard to bring the traditional meal to table. I miscalculated and had a little of all four desserts. I know now that I should have saved dessert for breakfast. As it was I felt a bit like an anaconda trying to digest a small goat. We had beautiful weather, got to get outside every day. Wry is doing okay and has his shared parenting routine and the boys seem well. We played a very retro board game: Payday. It has fabulous mid-seventies graphics. Wry said it's too much like real life (you get bills all the time and try to make it to Payday! every month) but the kids liked it. There was a lot of staring at skateboarding games.

Stay well and keep lighting candles. Then don't forget to blow them out. I'm starting to think that I need to set a timer every time I light candles. Realizing that I've walked away from them again! gives me the willies.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Friday Slaw

It's Friday so I must be trolling for blog posts and pouting that my favorite writers aren't busy posting twice today. Fussy and Box Elder are coming up to snuff for NaBloPoMo so I don't know what I have to complain about. Oh and this from The Bloggess made me almost shriek with giggles at work. Pout be gone.

Goddam, someone in my office is wearing perfume that from a distance smells like mosquito repellent. I guess I should be glad they're not right next to me. Which reminds me, our newest team member at work is a nice young man who smells like funky feet. Moment of pity. (Sad to say this reminds me of my high school boyfriend who was known to sometimes be not so fresh. High standards, girls, have taken me far.) I am hoping that the new job will buck him up and somehow that will translate into odor eaters. He's married with kids so I guess I can't hope for a new girlfriend to tame him. A minor thing so far.

Lexi's sold a bunch of girl scout cookies and now it's time to deliver them and collect the money. Here's hoping we can be efficient about this. Thanks to Nod's seasonal onset of timetoeateverything (I have a touch of it too) we're halfway through our first family box of Thanksalots. I'm thinking of going running when I get home tonight. It'll be almost dark, but the temp is nice right now...

The extended forecast looks good for driving to and from Colorado next week. What fun to be plotting a road trip. We need a motel reservation and a cat feeder.

Katy's getting holes in her earlobes tomorrow. Lexi is selling more cookies at the girl scout camp (who buys them? not my problem) and having lunch, etc. I'm delivering 2 pounds of deli roast beef with Lexi and then going away because I know I don't enjoy girl scout camp. I love that Lexi is seven and near to self sufficient. Nod has splashed out on some birthday prezzies for Katy, a new scooter and other stuff. You do only turn ten once. I think he and I had better have the budgeting for xmas talk this weekend. And I need to pick our most beautiful family photo and have a slew made. I'm sending them out this year. I swear.

Just heard about Fool by Christopher Moore which is a novel of the story of King Lear told from the fool's perspective. I haven't read anything by him and am very intrigued. I just finished The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks. Very good and thought provoking. I loved the portrait of the town of Clover in southern Virginia, past Difficult Creek and near the River of Death (?!). Such a compassionate look at a family with so much stacked against them individually and collectively. Her afterword about the state of tissue ownership (what happens when you submit a sample to a lab for testing?) made me think that there will be development on that front in the next twenty years. Content about HPV and its cancer link reminds me that we're only a couple years away from getting Katy vaccinated. HPV is all around and I'm all for getting immunity to as many strains as they can manage.

It's 4:31 on Friday afternoon and the shuffling of feet is audible. Humdedum. The noise level here is quite high during the more well stocked parts of the workweek. I'm in a cube that is one of twenty with 4 foot "walls" in the middle of a large room. Mine is on the edge near the door so we have a lot of traffic. Occasionally we have to open the door when someone forgets their keycard. Recently the keycard system was replaced and now everyone in IT should have access so that's better. Two rows from me is a fellow who is quite entertaining but who has no 'quiet' setting. He regales the world with his opinions from the best beer to the degree of succulence of his midafternoon grapefruit. I still don't mind, it's a good change from too much quiet in the basement office I left behind.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Bottom of the peanut butter jar

Trying to decide if I feel like a hungover grebe or coot this morning. (Oh my lord these coot babies are the ugliest things! Bright red bald pates like little frankenstein's monsters.) I remember watching the funny ugly coots at the Berkeley Marina. They seemed like grumpy little ladies in ratty black dresses. They have three toes instead of webbed feet; it's interesting to watch them pick their way along the rocks. They have an air of disapproval about them and generally don't look very deft. Coot it is!
Was there a kids choir rehearsal last night? I can't stop wondering. I took the kids to church last night with the snack I brought as a good participating parent. But no one was upstairs in the choir room and the lights were out. So we bagged and went to the library instead. Now I'm worried that the rehearsal was in the sanctuary and wish that we'd stuck our heads in to see if there was anyone over there. The urgency of these feelings is ridiculous and pointless. Let it go, brain.

I have done many things on my lists this week. And now I am tired and want to be done for a bit. But it's that time of year for more lists. I guess I could try delegating. I offered Katy a dollar to scoop the cat pan this morning. That worked okay. I wonder if Nod would do dishes/clean toilets for a dollar?

The kids are at the next door neighbor's house today. It's another in the long series of no school days in November. We had parent teacher conferences on Wed. We are lucky parents. I sometimes have felt close to tears when talking about my kids with their teachers. I am proud of them, I worry for them. Hell I feel some of the same feelings about the teachers too. What a vulnerable space school is. Nod was indulging in a big frosty glass of smug after our meetings. He said something about how we must not be doing too badly as parents. I told him to store that thought away for a rainy day. We have adolescence to come after all.

Katy is right on time being a tween now that she's turning ten. She's got her own fashion sense (all leggings all the time). She drives her teachers a little crazy because she works so fast and asks for more to do all the time. She saves her pointless defiance for us (flipflops are *too* shoes, I *know* I need to [do anything we remind her to do], etc.) But that's a minority of the time and cheerful competence reigns mostly. Crossing my fingers, knocking on wood.

Lexi my sweet cupcake is the easiest of all easies. Surprisingly she failed the eye exam at school. Earlier she failed her hearing test because she had a sinus infection. Guess that wouldn't affect your eyes. Noone's noticed her squinting or having trouble and she doesn't report any eye problems. She told me that she doesn't like eye exams so that may explain the inconclusive results there. I need to read the school nurse's note to see what hoops we need to jump through to get her retested. I will cheerfully purchase glasses for her if it is demonstrated that she needs them.

My MIL is trying to figure out how to be in two places at once over Christmas and new year's. She's been asked by both of her sons to come for the holidays. Nod won't return her calls this week (one of his less admirable traits). So last night she spoke with me and I tried to understand the problem. I gave her our dates and told her that we will love to see her whenever she can come: Christmas, new year's, or spring break when the weather might not be horrible. I can't solve it for her so I hope she can make a decision. And that Nod will call her back this weekend.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Rising Falling

Good gravy you should be reading the Adventures in the Pointless Forest blog. Not only does it have that title (reference to one of my favorite elementary school films), Redfox also has a one year old to entertain you and a Riker-playing-trombone gif. Another gift for the TNG fans among us, nostalgia fighting with our embarrassment, a link to Fashion It So.

I also admire her funny and not boring description of a recent dream. Having heard too many dream recountings by my nine year old lately I know that this is a rare achievement. Most dream retelling makes me want to sing the 12 Days of Christmas in order to stop the relentless flow of random images. And having said that I will now describe the dream that I woke up with on Wednesday. I was given a flying device. Like a rocket broom -- a pole to straddle with controls, no bristles. Soon I was soaring over a seaside city. But the device kept stalling and I had to restart it, with a two part button pushing technique. Sort of hard to do while falling But! I could also fly on my own power with an effort of concentration. So I was flying and falling and flying and it was pretty cool. It left me with a good dose of adrenaline in my system when I woke up. Flying in dreams is supposed to be sex but it sort of felt like my peformance at work these days, winging it and trying to be effective with varying results adding up to majority successful.

Nod just had a brainwave about Thanksgiving and we have asked if we can invite ourselves to my brother's place near Denver. Brother Wry said let's do it. We haven't ever been out to visit him yet. Both Nod and I find this an exciting plan! We'll have to watch the weather though and be prepared to scotch our travel if needed. The east part of Kansas where it meets the west part of Colorado is famous blizzard territory. If we can get there I'll bet we can go sledding. My search for snowboots for Katy continues this weekend. Fun road trip adventure ahoy.

Just realized that my flying dream may have something to do with another animated film:  Castle in the Sky. Another Miyazake film to love. Plenty of flying things. And falling and rising. Wow it's old 1986. And weird and arty and thought provoking. The image of a young boy climbing up on his roof to play a bugle at sunrise while doves circle sounds twee to me but it was uplifting. Great soundtrack too.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Orange

Three crows
Friday evening driving home. I watched three crows playing in the updrafts at the top of a tall apartment building. They would float down to land on the tv aerials (digital antennas?) then launch themselves into the draft again. Have fun crows!

Three letters
One nickname variant I hadn't expected for Lexi: Lex. Katy and her (oh so grown up at 10 years old) friends use that one. Logical by nickname conventions: shorten it til it can't be shortened any more (then abbreviate). And it means 'law' in Latin. Go Lexilu, law bringer. Or super villain.

Off the rack
I staggered into the Kohl's at ten til ten pm on Saturday night. I had been there earlier with my family but hadn't wanted to have them wait around while I tried on seventeen bras. The dressing room was nearly ankle deep in discarded intimate garments. I had no luck with the 36 Bs I had pulled. Then I tried a 36C and the angels sang. I seem to have gone up a cup size. This puzzles me. I measured a few years ago when bras weren't fitting so great. And I was definitely a 36B at that time. I have gone down in weight a little bit since getting a new more stressful job. I definitely haven't been packing on the pounds on my chest. The bras I chose are more mature too, I am entering breastplate territory. It's good to have reinforcements.

When my mother was here we went clothes shopping and each found a few things. I bought  a new pair of Dockers because my khaki trousers are all getting a little worn. I am now wearing a garment that reads inside the waistband: "Banish the blah. Bring on the wow!" I am nonplussed. I should specify that this cheerleading script is printed on the special layer of flab-retaining elastic. I looked in the mirror but found only my fine-but-not-wow waistline. I shall have to make an effort not to read my stupid pants anymore.

Pumpkins
Nod suggested a last minute drive out to the pumpkin patch to get a few more since our jackolanterns have drooped in the warm weather. I rolled my eyes and said that I was done carving pumpkins for this season. We've already lit the candles twice, it's been fun. Katy's Batgirl costume came out better than I expected. She cut out her big chest logo bat, found the fingerless gloves and made the batarangs herself. She put it all on with her hot pink Converse sneakers yesterday and it was great! Lexi's Tooth Fairy costume is adorbs. no shock. We warned her that dim adults might not recognize what kind of fairy she is so she's ready to inform people. Walmart had fairy wings for $5 and that seemed like a fair price for not having to build any myself. There was a kid Halloween party yesterday afternoon and trickortreating tonight.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Nothing but keys

Keys please
You may enjoy this discussion of mechanical computer keyboards (as opposed to keyboards that use switches). I had no idea that tough old IBM keyboards had a whole following. Noise differences are reported: multiple wives who can't stand the clackety power of some of these keyboards. I can relate. Nod had been using a keyboard with a broken shift bar for years. It still worked but had lost its spring so every time it was pushed it hit with extra loudness. One could make quite a self righteous racket on that thing.

More keys
With my mother in town I gathered my patience and courage and went to the Verizon store to get a new phone. I expected crap service but we lucked out and Graham was there to shepherd me quickly yet gently to my new Samsung. It's been more than four years and my phone was approaching heritage status. It still worked fine but had no keyboard. Texting between Nod and myself was an uneven fight. Nod: several sentences ending with a question. Nimble: four word reply heavy on abbreviation. Nod: more questions. Nimble: calls Nod. Now I have this shiny blue number with a slide out keyboard for when I want to elucidate and shift and all that jazz. I bit the bullet and switched to a local area code too. I am slowly going through the address list and distributing my new digits.

Latchkey
Katy is turning ten next month. She suggested that she should be able to be at home unsupervised after school. I'm willing to negotiate that next school year but not for this one. More discussion to come.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Question of the day: black cotton

Is there anything better than old black cotton pants? I can't think of it. The ones I'm wearing are showing only slight signs of wear. But I have the feeling that I'd better start keeping an eye out for their successors. Memento mori works for clothes too.

Katy will participate tomorrow night in the Zombie Walk downtown. Some of her friends did it last year and they've gotten her all revved up about it. I have been resistant to her undead costume ideas for previous Halloweens. Just didn't really want to think about my little child as a blood thirsty fiend. But much like fashion disagreements, I have decided that H'ween costumes are not worth pitching a concerted battle about. So I'll probably help her dress up tomorrow and go watch her shamble.

It's beautiful weather right now and the leaves are starting to turn color. I walked with Lexi and the other kids and parents for Nat'l Walk to School Day this morning. We saw a layer of mist hovering in the ditch, very pretty. My hands were a bit numb when I got back. I've started working on a song entitled Fat Squirrels. All the local squirrelios are putting on their adipose overcoats and prepping for winter. I wouldn't mind being a squirrel in dry weather. I really feel sorry for them when it rains.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

32 Days or so

Whew. Yesterday I was soloing as my co worker took an extra day off before the Labor Day weekend. I had to ask for help two or three times to handle urgent matters. Everything got a response or seemed like it could wait until her return on Tues. I even got to read some blogs while I was waiting for the techs to finish updating my computer and give it back to me. What fun to read about Antonia's kitchen and her rediscovery that she can do things post-children. Godspeed! In my own attempts at doing things I am trying out jogging. So far I'm doing it every three or four days. I find that I can run very slowly and nothing bad happens (knees, feet, heart, all still attached). I have never understood running before but it's hard to beat as an accessory-less exercise experience.

Best parts of new job: money and buzz. It's a busy office with lots of people busily being busy. I still think it's a pretty absurd organization often lacking in diplomacy and common sense. But I'm really enjoying plunging in and helping them bail out all these leaky dinghies. Our recently hired Chief Info. Ofcr announced the exit of one of the two directors, effective yesterday. So there is much to observe and wonder at.

Worst part of new job: fruit flies in office. Goddamn I am tired of swatting at them ineffectually. I've killed about six in a month and I just don't think that's keeping up with their reproduction rate.

It was hot and then it was hot. But September is here, when we always cool down. There is a dip of northern air a-coming: Monday's forecast high here is 72. That doesn't make any sense to me so far. The excellent part of this is that Austin is going to have a high of 90 that day. They've been over a hundred for umptioodle days so far. My mother-in-law told me last night that 103 felt sort of reasonable (they had had ~112 for a few days). Come on coolness.

Mmm cold brew coffee. I do love thee.

I'm reading A Prayer for Owen Meany by Irving. I mentioned to the retired librarian we visit that I meant to re-read that someday. And she pressed it on me so now I feel that I must. I'm liking it but a little impatient. It's been years since I've read any Irving, he is a great flavor. After that I have the next Thursday Next book by Jasper Fforde Something Rotten to look forward to. I recently read his Shades of Grey and loved it. It's set in a postapocalyptic world in a society that is caste divided by what colors each group can perceive. Really cool imagining of daily life in a very static cooperative society that shuns technology in favor of everyone staying in their place. More Welsh in-jokes: one of the rediscovered pieces of technology turns out to have instructions written in Welsh. I was almost disappointed to realize at the end of the book that he is stringing that concept into a series as well. But I *will* read the next one and I suppose I can't begrudge him the sustainable economic model. That man can plot and plot. According to his page on Fantastic Fiction Fforde recommends The Vesuvius Club by Mark Gatiss. So that goes on my list as well. I love the Fantastic Fiction site, it's easy to use and has everything you want when you've found a great book and want to know what else that author has been up to.

I don't have time to read or write at work currently. So it's yet to be seen how the blog posting will pan out. Into the future!

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Kiss my hand to August

Saw Mac and Spouse Sunday evening. They came through town to see me on their drive back from fam reunion in Colorado to Boston. My girls loved their golden retrievers and vice versa it seems. Big teddy bears those dogs are. It was wonderful to spend some time with a good friend from long ago. They are submitting paperwork for adoption and seem to be on track for that. They are looking for a pair of siblings, under ten, not babies. They had lots of parenting questions for me. I wish them every good thing. We had tasty food at Zen Zero preceded by silly cocktails. Totally fun.

This was the weekend for Nod and I to have a married person date night. The girls both had sleepovers so we had time to commune. It was good.

A neighbor is watching the girls for us this week. I have to get their school enrollment forms to the elementary school office this week. Just have to complete the emergency contact info and it'll be ready. We did the arithmetic and realized that we are too rich for reduced school lunches, even on Nod's training pay rate. It's an accomplishment!

We leave on Saturday for Austin. Lord, I wonder what temps they are getting this week. We're forecast for 108 today. I predict lots of inside games. And snow cones. And ice cream. And iced tea. Maybe just lots of ice.

I am zooming through the Cazalet chronicles by Elizabeth Jane Howard. I'm two thirds through the fourth book and all I want to do is read it. I have some quibbles with a few of the plot developments and am thoroughly enjoying some that I know are a little too pat. Still good stuff. But on with other things. It's getting busier at work and I'm starting to learn to do a few things in my new position and now I get to straddle the two while everything hots up. Oh and I have a new laptop that I have to get configured, that's crappy timing. It always takes a few days of begging the tech folks for what you need and getting the right software/permissions set.

It's good to be employed. It's good to be almost over this summer cold. It's good to throw out one more update here before surfing the August tidal wave. I've given up on hoping for better cooler weather. I know it can't be expected until mid September. Here's to more contemplation then.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Flinch

My new position is starting up. There are a great many things to be learned and practiced. I have started doing half days there although I haven't got the offer letter in hand yet. I will have faith that the mysterious workings of the human resources department will be finished soon. I work the next two weeks then I'm off to Austin for a week. And then it's the week before classes start so the deluge will be underway. I won't be online much in August at all. In fact the new job promises to have ways of filling my days. It may be a whole new professional lifestyle.

Oh Norway, I'm sorry for your losses. Only a crazy person -- and not just a crazy person, but a crazy person with not enough to do -- would conclude that the way to a better life is to kill random fellow citizens. The news from Oslo was paired this weekend with reports of a shooting in Texas at a kid's birthday party at a roller rink. I think the difference was that the shooter in Texas told all the kids to get out of the building before he started. Misery.


Transitioning from murder is not my specialty.

Last night at dinner after most of a beer Nod described how he had given up on Coen Brothers films by saying that he'd broken up with them after Fargo, then had makeup sex with them when he went to see No Country for Old Men but he hadn't liked it so he's off them for good. He certainly can get everyone in the room to turn around and listen to him.

From a course title offered this fall: "From Dictionaries to Wiktionaries". Hee.

Monday, July 18, 2011

How Big

is your vocabulary?

This test won't tell you exactly because it'd be too tedious to count but they give an estimate. It's the sort of thing I think is fun.
The site's authors request that more children and teenagers participate so if you have any handy you can sic them on the test too. It looks like it has a facebook page as well if you like that.

Last night I made what I will have to call Painful Eggplant. Here's the recipe, adapted from Barbara Tropp, which is always a good sign. It was lovely little asian eggplants (bought specially at the farmer's market except for the 1! from our garden) stir fried with a sauce that prominently features chile garlic paste. I had just received some homemade chile garlic paste from our Chinese neighbor. I knew it was hot, having sampled it at potluck but I put two tablespoons in my sauce anyway. It was almost too hot to eat. I'm a little frightened of the leftovers. But I'm going to find a way to eat them. Asian eggplants are one of my favorites and are not to go to waste. [Had some for lunch today, still alive.]

Guilty pleasure alert. During the royal wedding frenzy this spring I held out until the last minute and refused to be interested in the minutiae. But finally I cracked and wanted to see what the royals wore at least. While looking for stills, one of my finds was The Royal Order of Sartorial Splendor blog which revels in watching European royal (mostly female) fashion. I cannot join the author in her raging enthusiasm for tiaras but I don't mind seeing pictures of them occasionally.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Orts

Reading about the physical response to eating rich food. The researchers gave rats fatty foods and looked at their physical reactions. The rats' bodies "immediately began to release natural marijuanalike chemicals in the gut that kept them craving more". It makes me think of my own eating patterns and how I try to at least keep an eye on my yen for sweets and fats. I love the summer when the watermelons are finally in (the ones before June don't count and are likely to be giant cucumbery disappointments). I will choose a bowl of sweet watermelon over almost any butter-based dessert. It goes without saying that I am very fond of most butter-based desserts and am likely to head toward them when offered. So it feels as though I'm throwing a healthy distraction in front of my body and its appetites when we're automatically headed for the more calorific stuff. Here -- have some of this pretty pink sweet stuff! I can eat a huge bowl of fruit and feel okay afterwards. I think I need to do more of this with vegetables. If I can get the plant stuff (prepared in attractive ways) tucked in my gullet first, there will be less time and appetite for the stuff that is less good for me.

Despite some concerns about fat and sugar as above, there are cooking things I am pleased about:
1) My chicken wings. I have a technique that makes crispy wonderful oven baked wings. Preheat oven to 425. Toss wings in flour, salt & pepper. Oil foil-covered rimmed baking sheet. Put wings on pan and bake 20 min. Turn with tongs and bake another 15 - 20 min. Pour on the Frank's Red Hot Sauce. mmmmm
2) Broiled tofu. Just tried it last night with soy ginger sauce and veggies. (I would eat my shoes if they were covered with ginger soy sauce.) So quick -- it's the only way to use the oven in the summer. (Unless you've got to have some chicken wings of course.)
3) Sauteed mushrooms with thyme. I can eat them straight but usually I put them on a baked potato with some plain yogurt and maybe grated cheddar.
Seems like a short list but due to summerness I haven't been cooking much lately.

Why you should read The Bloggess from time to time  
"...I am severely jet-lagged so I have nothing funny to say.  Except that I just looked up  “jet lag” on Wikipedia and it said that scientists have helped hamsters recover from jet-lag by giving them viagra.  Which means that at one point there were a bunch of people flying hamsters with tiny erections to exotic locations in the name of science. Which I think is just proof that scientists are high all the time."

Mah baybee is growing up! On Saturday, despite beesting and sunburn, we had a wonderful day at the pool. Katy was jumping off the high and low diving boards and going down the tall slide. I did a couple of low dives to prove I'm still tough enough. Lexi practiced her dog paddle and all of a sudden put her head down and scooted through the water. Like real swimming! Once she got the idea, she did it over and over again. She swam from the wall to me and from me to the wall. It's a breakthrough. Both kids are a little taller and more confident and it was a delightful family outing.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Bee Beets &

I stepped on a bee (or maybe a wasp) on Saturday at the pool. The pain in my foot made me think that I'd find a piece of glass stuck in it, but there was nothing there. After some moaning I was mostly brave and it didn't slow me down much. I was glad that I didn't have to walk miles to get home. I was surprised at how itchy the sting got as it healed. Yesterday it was driving me bonkers. Much better today and my charming limp is gone.

A neighbor gave me some beets harvested from the shared garden. I like beets, maybe partly because they are so unpopular. I always like to be different. But she told me that you could just peel them and eat them raw. That sounded crazy to me but I really liked the crunchy thin slices. I inherited another big bunch of beets from the harvest so I found a recipe for roasted beets with a mint balsamic vinaigrette. Mint is another thing we have in the garden in abundance. Instead of cooking the beets I just grated them and dressed them with some olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper. My test batch tasted too strongly of balsamic so I cut it with some rice vinegar in the final dish. Good stuff.

Have I already linked to this history of punctuation marks site? I'm reading about the ampersand today. It makes me happy. I hadn't ever known about the Tironian et, another shorthand mark for 'and' that was used for centuries. It was invented by Cicero's scribe as part of his shorthand for latin. Cicero had seen Greek shorthand and had Tiro work up a system for Latin. I'm feeling very chummy with both of those characters as I've been reading about them in Saylor's Roman mystery novels lately.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Unleavened

My mother reports that they had twenty minutes of rain yesterday afternoon. That is good to hear. Crestone, CO has a fifty percent chance of rain in the forecast today too. Come on moisture. Here in northeastern Kansas we are under a heat advisory, highs around 100 and high humidity which equals awful. But as a neighbor observed, this is the weather that gives us tomatoes. You can practically see the corn and sunflowers growing.

Yesterday I took communion to the nursing home resident we visit. She is a small retired librarian with glasses that give her an owlish look. She is English and good company and I'm quite fond of her. I feel a little guilty because it's all so pleasant: she is in good health and is mostly all-there mentally and our visits aren't taxing at all. I receive a kit as part of the church service with a few wafers and a little wine in a flask. We have a mini service in Thelma's room and then I clean up the pieces and return the kit to the church during the week. Any uneaten wafers are allowed to hang out in their little silver box. But the rule is that the consecrated wine needs to be drunk or poured out onto the earth to dispose of it. Episcopalian holy wine is sweet but not too awful. Our kids don't mind it, they both take communion by dipping the wafer into the wine. The nuts and bolts of ritual.

I know that episcopalian churches can choose to use baked bread instead of wafers for their communion services. But they haven't had bread at Trinity in Lawrence as long as I've attended. I haven't had real bread for communion since attending the United Church in Los Alamos, NM. I see the storage and longevity advantages of the little dry discs. But why do we use these tasteless wafers? Today I stumbled across the explanation in a discussion of five great books about the history of food. (I want to read them all.) "...I wish that the Roman Catholic Church had followed the Greek Orthodox Church, which (and this was one of the reasons for the Great Schism) denied the continuities between the Jewish Passover and the Last Supper – and so even today, in communions, uses a fermented bread, the sort of wheat loaf that you can get in any really good bakery. The Roman Catholics, on the other hand, argued that the Last Supper was a Passover meal, and therefore that the bread was unfermented and thus akin to matzo. Because of this, the host as it’s offered today in Catholic churches is a bread that’s manufactured mechanically and industrially of wheat but without any fermentation – and it’s obviously much less attractive, much less interesting to incorporate into one’s body, than a real piece of bread." Aha! All this makes me want to do is go home and bake some bread. Maybe in September, the current high temps make baking contraindicated. I am all for acknowledging the Jewish roots of Christian ritual. But I'm also all for bread!

Friday, July 1, 2011

Bounce Brew and Burn

Friday before a holiday weekend, this sounds like a job for super blogger! I haven't seen her so I'll just put up an update of my own.

Yesterday I met with my new IT managers. We reviewed the job description they gave me. They said that I met the requirements. I said that I am interested in doing the job. And I agreed to take a whopping pay raise. I am pleased. I am suddenly full of motivation for learning to work with IT. Instant attitude improvement!

We're talking about having me stay in the office where I am for the next 2-3 months in order to help with customer service for the beginning of the fall semester. That is everyone's busiest time at the university. The highest number of students are on campus, it's the beginning of the academic year and the highest number of brand new people (undergrads, grads and instructors) are here. It all sounds like a good plan to me. The most tedious parts of my job have gone away: fiscal and HR. It means that I am having a very quiet summer at the moment. I know some of you are boggling that I could work any less at this job. But it's just a temporary lull and it's threaded through with some cool and refreshing anxiety about learning how they do everything in IT.

I had my time off approved and will be going to Austin to see mother/brother/sister-in-law and my nephews August 6-13. I got cheap SWA tickets so I don't have to drive, by myself, thank the gods.Now we need a babysitter for the week before that and then I think we have the summer figured out. Nod won't be able to come to TX as he will be starting his new job. He ended up with two good offers and we've done some debating about which one he'll take. He's decided on the one based in north Kansas City. I am a little worried about his commute but everything else made it a better job than the one based out of Topeka. So here's hoping he clicks with those folks. It is all sounding so promising.

I am currently in love with cold brewed coffee. Our coffee maker died while I was in the Bay Area. (I owe a recap, don't I. Short form: perfect weather, dense traffic, chic wedding, glad to see my friend/sad to leave my friend...) And as we know I am spurred to learning new things only by the complete failure of my familiar coping strategies. So I tried the coffee grounds and water overnight thing. And it's amazing, not bitter. The filtering in the morning is a bit messy but that is the only even slightly difficult part. I may never need a coffee maker again. It must be the zeitgeist, The Pioneer Woman wrote about this too. Oh and I don't drink it iced, I microwave it back to hot coffee-ness and doctor it as usual.

I have been cooking against the season. Last night was tomato soup and the night before I made meatloaf. And I'm not sorry, they were both delicious.

My mother in law arrived yesterday. I am a little worried about a 72 y.o. on the road for such a long trip. But she does love to travel. It's good to see her. She'll stay til next Tues or Weds.

As a friend said on Facebook yesterday "I sure am sick of seeing my hometown burn down." It's an exaggeration in that no homes have been lost. In contrast to the 2000 fire which destroyed 235 homes. (Oik. I hadn't realize that was the total. Damn.) The town of Los Alamos, NM was evacuated last Monday because of smoke as well as being directly in the path of the fire but so far firefighters have established a burn line and no structures have been affected that I know of. The fire seems to be going north and south rather than directly east through the town. The intense national coverage about the fire is due of course to the lab's radioactive materials and concerns about fire getting to those. The big bad hot stuff they use to build bomb triggers is underground in bunkers, I have no worries about that. The low level waste that is stored in barrels above ground is more worrisome but it is receiving a great deal of attention from the lab's own dedicated fire and emergency crews. I'm more concerned about the peaks around the town being covered with black sticks again once the fire is done. There is no moisture in the forests and there is no rain in the forecast. This looks like a really long, bad fire. I saw a cousin at the wedding who lives in southern Colorado in the mountains and says she is really scared of fire there right now. The monsoons can't come soon enough. Shudder.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Making More

It's a poem. I hope you like it. It reflected my spacey mood and there are flowering dogwood trees.

Oh and now I've gone and read Lucy and recommend reading her poetic Googling as well as taking her recommendation to read Kathleen. And Kathleen included a poem by Chris Green that I liked tremendously. (It includes a husband's realization that the sexiest thing he can do is to get a job.) This poetry snowball is picking up speed!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

June Tumble

Learning
So I interviewed Monday for another admin support job on campus. It was a perfectly so-so experience. They had me in and out in 25 minutes which didn't make me feel like I'd made a big splash. They want someone who has experience setting up databases in Access. Which I don't have. Setting aside the disappointment of not charming them from the first moment, I am consciously choosing to look at the bright side. It was an excellent refresher for interviewing in general. I was asked where I saw myself in 5 years (I did well with that one) and to tell about a mistake I'd made (I gabbed blithely about a significant mistake I made but left out the oh-so-important follow up of what lesson I learned and improvement I took away from that experience, urgh) and a time that I'd taken initiative and accomplished something not specifically in my job description (not happy with my response here, thought of a *much* better one last night). Could hardly have been more textbook and I was left gaping a bit even so. All the better answers I could have given are replaying in my head. But I'm resolved not to beat myself up. Choosing to repeat that it was an excellent learning experience. (And we all know how enjoyable those are.) I don't have to have all the answers. Mistakes teach me more than first-time mastery. I just have to keep eating those metaphysical vegetables over and over in my life.

But imagine my surprise when I received an email this morning asking for permission to contact my references. Even if it's just a gesture of completion, that is a good sign. Maybe nobody who applied has the specific database experience they want. Maybe they're just a tough crowd. I've been having fun toying with the idea of another job offer but keep having to stop counting chickens and go back to staring at eggs.  

Banh mi hack
At some point this spring I came across this discussion of Banh mi (Vietnamese sandwiches of deliciousness) and then searched out a few more online banh mi references. And then I yearned of course for a wonderful tasty pate on crunchy baguette with pickled carrots and cilantro leaves. Pretty sure that's not available in this town. But after considering the matter I had a brainstorm:  I can make pickled carrots. And for a tasty meaty filling? I can use meatloaf! I can buy fresh cilantro. The only thing I am missing really is the bread. And the mayo which isn't my scene.

I made a meatloaf and doctored my sliced carrots. On toasted wheat bread with the fresh cilantro -- Damn, ma'am! That was an excellent sandwich. I will do it again! If you want guidance for the pickled carrots here's Simply Recipes' take. I didn't do the tossing and rinsing though, just bunged 'em in a tupperware with the vinegar, sugar, pinch of salt, and water.

Cazalet and Wedding Travel
Bee has got me reading Elizabeth Jane Howard. I just finished the first of the Cazalet Chronicles, The Light Years. It was a great read. A "rambling realistic family saga" says Michelle Cooper and I agree. Really good stuff. On to Marking Time after my trip. I'm leaving tomorrow morning to go to a cousin's wedding in the East Bay in California. It's at the Wente vineyards in Livermore and there are four wedding related events in all over the weekend. Going to be seeing The Danish tomorrow night -- exciting!

Knees
Lexi has skinned her knees thoroughly this week. Walking back to the car after church she stumbled and even though I had a hold of her hand fell right on her knees on the asphalt. Bruised and scraped. She keened the whole ride home. At one point I asked her to put her hand over her mouth to keep some of the sound down. Yes, I am sorry. But it was making my stomach hurt and there was nothing anyone could do until we got home. She hates blood and feels every scrape as a personal insult. Once those scabs had hardened up and she was doing okay she bumped into another kid while riding on her scooter and scraped a spot that had been missed in the first assault. But she loves her new (used) scooter. It may be time for kneepads.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Math at Taco Bell

While mowing the grass a few weeks ago I realized that I enjoyed how visible the chore was. I am going to work on acknowledging, feeding, and harnessing my inner show-off. I may be quiet and like to go to bed early but I also enjoy doing things with an audience.

The holiday on Monday was not quite hot enough for my Texan husband to go to the outdoor pool. It needs to be in the 90s for him and 82 just wouldn't do. So we found other things to do together all four of us. We went to Taco Bell for lunch. It was jolly and after we had mostly finished eating Katy asked us to show her long division again because she said she had found it confusing. So Nod gave her some easy long division to do and we talked through the steps. Then Lexi didn't want to be left out and she asked for some three digit numbers to add. And we upped the ante and did some subtraction with borrowing with her. Everyone was engaged and happy. It was odd and really good quality family time.

I'm set to meet more of my future work group at IT tomorrow. The big boss said I could look at a job description and salary range and then not a word for two weeks. Haven't seen either of them of course. I am remembering that this is a big adventure and enjoying my flexible schedule for now. I've bought air tickets for the girls and I to go to Austin in August. Haven't asked permission, hope they don't mind much. It's not quite the week before classes start at KU so I figure I'll still be around for the red hot busy time. Nod won't be able to go to Texas which makes his mother sad (she's in denial, "I hope he'll find a way to come down for just a weekend") but he will have just started his job. And I mine but of course I'm rocking my state employee status plus what seems to be the guilt of the group that's been saddled with us.  

At home with the kids today, Nod had yesterday and will have them tomorrow. They start their all day summer program on Monday and we'll be fully functional for June and July. I'm going to take them to get their teeth sealed (quick and easy it's just the paint on stuff) and then to the pool. After we go to swap our car with the ripped tire for the Subaru which has been completely repaired! Two functioning cars are within our grasp. It's a wonderful thing. We've decided this is the good kind of debt and are moving forward with it. And the Mazda will have decent tires for the first time in a couple of years. I slid many times last winter including one 360 at an intersection one morning. Looking forward to more road gripping.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Gyroscope

Things are in motion. I can't see the pattern yet. No vertiginous drop and no big rise, more like rocking on the tippy balance point of the seesaw.

My employment: I've been almost offered a new position in IT and someone expressed some enthusiasm for acquiring me which was gratifying. However the job description I expected on Friday has not appeared. I just emailed an inquiry. My office manager has gotten a new job and is out of here after next week. I was jealous and felt very inept by comparison but that has receded and I am happy for her. Yesterday it occurred to me that I can let myself be bad at job hunting right now. At least since Plan B is coming along. I prefer this to feeling like I am losing at job hunting.

Nod's employment: his first choice firm stopped responding so he lined up another job interview damn quick and it went well. He's got a position as soon as he is done with school in mid July. He will be commuting to north Kansas City, that's the downside. But after an initial ride-along period (how long? I don't know) he will be able to use a company van. And once he's proven his solo capabilities he will be working service calls closer to home. He's taken a leave of absence from bus driving after the end of May. So he'll go to school 4 days a week for 7 weeks. And have three days off in a row every week! Then barring weird developments, he'll tell the bus co. he won't be coming back as he starts his new gig.

Kid care: There are two weeks between the end of school and the beginning of the Boys and Girls Club summer program for the kids. Nod and I have worked out who's with them when. There's Memorial Day and a colonoscopy (not mine thank the force) and two kid dental appointments in there too. I think my mother is coming but will stay in a hotel. A friend of ours from Colorado will be couch surfing with us for a few days. Things are very much coming together in the week or so before they happen. Which is not a new experience for me but I am feeling awash in the waves a bit. Or teetering on my balance board. As I succeeded in getting the kid care nailed down, today it feels like it will all work out. Oh my mother has also recruited me to come with her to a cousin's wedding in Livermore CA June 18-19.

I'll keep my nose into the wind and try to stay upright.

Read about the True Finn party and their "Euroskeptic" point of view. They object to paying for Greece and Portugal's financial troubles as part of the European Union. They look to a time when Finland could withdraw from the Union. Anti immigrant but pro wealth equalization and the social safety net. This quote jumped out at me, '"After all, empires always end badly, as did Rome and the USSR," says Mr. Elo. "That will happen to the EU as well, because it's a misguided piece of history."' I sense lyricism and over simplification at work here. But maybe that's because I'm a citizen of an empire and it seems better than many alternatives.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Tangy pleasure churn

I am tickled to be reading Wild Fermentation by Sandor Ellix Katz. (The author photo on that website is much less old and bearded than I expected!) It's a very informative and user friendly introduction to many different ways that humans use natural yeast action to modify food. The author is an HIV pos faerie who lives in community in the hills of Tennessee, a demographic I don't see represented nearly often enough. I saw the book recommended by boingboing and I got it through our local library. His writing style is accessible and his enthusiasm for all things funkified via fermentation comes through. I see that he'll be leading a fermentation workshop at Cafe Gratitude in Berkeley on May 14. I am moved to do my own dabbling. I don't have the containers assembled yet to make sauerkraut but I am already on the way to my own wild sourdough starter. Such fun to experiment. I'll spare you the quote about the fermented goat meat that almost made Nod barf. (I thought it was a hoot.)

We all are entertained in our own ways. My husband is aquiver at the thought of the Thor movie. I am innocent of any knowledge of those comics but I'm all for the superhero genre. And as someone who went to see the long version of Branaugh's Hamlet in the theater I am interested to see his directorial hand at work. His tendency to shout down the place as an actor should fit right in with supervillains and such. There's no better way to start getting in the mood for summer than a comic book movie. So I am scheming for us (just the adults) to go on Sunday. The thought of going out to a movie makes me rub my hands in glee. I'm going to be sad when movie theaters can't make it any more. In my alternative world there are roller rinks and movie theaters in abundance.

I misread a reference in the Bookslut Blog as "pleasure diaries"* and was intrigued. I thought of Now's the time, a blog that is about observations and pleasure. Blogging is a wonderful medium to share what is giving one pleasure at the moment. But a "pleasure diary" sounds more formal and mysterious. I envision a book for the faithful reporting of each day's pleasures. Might have to try that out.
*It was really a reference to "pleasure dairies" (you see my confusion) and the book Dairy Queens about Marie Antoinette and her play farm Le Petit Hameau and that sort of thing. Also interesting but not something I can recreate with a book and a pen.

Back to work! In this week's meeting with our new IT superstructure we two admin support people got more of an idea how we'll fit in with their group. Our office manager will work with their fiscal/budget team. And I will go to customer service in one form or another. If I qualify for the more in-depth "account management" (two words baffling in their nonspecifity) it would be good for my resume and portable skills. Yet to be determined. It was mentioned that we are of course free to look for positions elsewhere. Rather pointed reminder seeing as how free will is generally in play. In that spirit I applied for a grad student application tracking position, something that would fit with my background and interests. As it stands, fitting in with IT is Plan B and finding an on campus job with a more natural fit with my experience is Plan A. It's good to have goals.

The Subaru has a cracked head gasket and a variety of less lethal things wrong with it. Nod is using my car for his last two weeks of spring semester. The kids and I are hoofing it. So far so good. Nod and I are both feeling rather powerless as we can't afford to spend $3K on the old car nor can we afford much for a new one. I'm sure we'll find a solution before winter! So much uncertainty and change as we go to summer. Nod had a good interview experience with the firm that hires repair folks in town here. He sent an email and left a message with them to follow up and firm up a plan to hire him part time for summer. He hasn't heard back. I talked him out of calling again. Until next week. I hope it's something unrelated that has kept them from responding. There are other possible employers but it's disheartening to absorb a rejection and let your first choice go.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

La souris enragée

Dressed in light colors. Found my spirits lifting midmorning. I felt like skipping, maybe going for a long walk. Shortly thereafter I see that my period has started. Hormones, you are our not so acknowledged tyrants.

We're in a new motion, winding up some of our patterns and looking for the next ones. Nod finishes his semester mid May and then he will have a short summer program in June and July. The class hours are longer for the summer session though he will have Fridays off. This will make his current schedule of afternoon bus driving not possible. He had an interview with the employer he ranks at the top of his 'firms I want to work with' list. They have positions in this town which would mean no commute and be a great good thing. It went well and the interviewer indicated that Nod might be able to start working for them on his summer Fridays. Which would be ducky for all. And the bus company still loves him and will consider June and July a leave of absence so that job will available in the future as a fallback. Whew. I think that boy's almost got his shit wired together.

My job still exists. We are getting to know the IT management folks in our weekly meetings. Today a few of us indulged in some petty mocking of IT hair and shoe stylings. It was an unconstructive outburst and yet did relieve some frustration. So far the dearth of leadership continues. 'We'll build the plan forward together' says our higher up. And yet they hold the budget and the authority so why don't they acknowledge that power imbalance? It's a bit like cats playing with a mouse but so much more boring.

A co worker found some morels in local woods last week. I can identify them but I don't know what they taste like. I'd like to go foraging, maybe Nod will be up for a ramble. We could use some more rain for mushrooms I'm sure.

Finished Crooked Letter Crooked Letter. The scenes set back in Larry's childhood made me cringe a bit. That was one grim dad. But I loved the setting and the local boy made good angle. Sigh. I'm sorry I'm done. 

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Gauge

Poncho finished. Started a hat. Realized last night that I hadn't measured the gauge and they used giant yarn in the pattern. The result is that my hat is just right for a mini head but far too small for any of our large human heads. I guess I'll finish it and it'll be for the stuffed animals/dolls. Oy. No doubt it was a good learning experience.

Kate Atkinson's Case Histories was wanted by another library patron so I let her go. I will try it again later. The tactile details were amazing. And I liked the characters, even the depressed passive-aggressive mother. I got only as far as the first case history.

I have gotten Crooked Letter Crooked Letter under way and am enjoying it. The protagonist's girlfriend is described as having a mouth "always in a little pucker, off to the side, always working, like she had an invisible milk shake." I still love southern dialect.

Finally had a meeting with the new overlords. They claim to be finding their way too, that there is no big behind-the-scenes plan. No job eliminations are planned. The words were reassuring and I hope the follow up smaller group meetings go well. I was mollified when the director's PowerPoint presentation was prefaced with an apology. And only had 4 slides. She kept the business jargon to a minimum too.

Laugh of the week: I got my expanded job description and raise approved. Now get ready: my increase will be $0.35 per hour.
I'm trying not to do any celebratory shopping. No word on the other position I applied for. I know searches are usually very slow on this campus so am not concerned. Not sure I want to cleave unto the writing program. Mulling.


Both girls got up early this morning. Lexi came to snuggle with me in my bed. I kept trying to shoo her away since I feared her power to cuddle me back asleep. That would lead to waking up forty minutes later when everything would be fraught. Katy bounced into her clothes and went downstairs to practice music. We had talked about practice first thing in the morning so it wouldn't be forgotten. Her "Go Tell Aunt Rhody" on the piano is much improved. Her violin playing is still pretty rocky. Screechy mostly with a few sweet notes in there. Music teacher Janice says that her playing is getting better so I guess I will have to have faith. Katy's arms have gotten longer in almost a year and I'm told that it's time to trade up a size in violins too. I need to talk with Lexi again about whether she wants to do some violining before we banish the little one. Lexi has three loose teeth after waiting and waiting for just one. And last night I saw a new tooth coming in behind the lower baby teeth. So she'll be sharky for a while.

We went out for a family dinner last night. It was a treat. We got Rudy's pizza. It's not my favorite pizza but it tasted really good last night.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

No Shortage

Short on sleep yesterday. I chose to stay up late baking zucchini muffins for Lexi's birthday class treat and then messing around. Punished for this when I was woken in the night by Katy. She had nonspecific stomach pains. I guess I'd pick those over stomach pains that are the harbinger of stomach flu. We were up for a while in the 3:45 range until she could go back to sleep. I was grumpy and forgetful in the morning but it was a lovely day and I came around to cheerful again. Lexi's teacher said that the kids were fairly horrified by the idea of zucchini muffins but that they were eaten up mostly. It was all my 7 y.o.'s idea, she loves that recipe.

The poncho is almost done. I scored a basketful of yarn from a garage sale, we came late and they were in get-rid-of-it mode -- gave it to me for nuthin. My colors aren't as cool as the pattern photo but it's still cute. I found a reference to a pointy hat pattern from Kids Crochet on Ravelry. I got the book from the library and it's fun and substantial. I decided not to start a hat until the poncho is entirely done because that way lies madness or at least four half-completed projects. Pulling loops is very satisfying right now. The small and controllable creative act is a relief.

We're having highs in the 70s finally. It's a beautiful spring this week. Then we're forecast to have highs in the 50s for a couple of days just to keep us on our toes.

I missed book group on Sunday when I was busy feeling sorry for myself. Not sorry about it though because Oryx and Crake was a big ball of no fun. I skimmed the rest on Monday so I could see how the pandemic occurred and what happened at the end. M. Atwood, your writing is not for me. I'm still sawing away at Sovereign Ladies; I've gotten to Victoria's later years and then it's the current queen. (Victoria was a greedy thing.) I love the copious poitrine on the cover. I wonder what painting that snip is from. The next book group book is Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter by Franklin which is described as literary mystery. I'm looking forward to it. I'm also going to start reading Case Histories by Atkinson which I've heard good things about. Although the word "gruesome" has also featured and I'm prepared to fling it from me. After all, there is no shortage of books.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Fool Me

Two writers who both have meaty content but an airy style. They both engage with their reader with an emotional swirl. Here is Jennifer Michael Hecht who is a poet and teacher and writes about poetry, nature, and reasons not to kill oneself. She had two friends who suicided and she wrote a beautiful call to anyone else considering it to cut it out.  She has reasons! She imagines humanity as a big group of friends in a way that isn't silly. I like her blogging so much I might even try reading her books.

And here's Catherine Newman who is the Buddhist hippie mommy blogger who writes for a Disney family magazine. I don't know how that combo works. Oh wait, just caught up on blog posts and what do you know, she's off that mag. At any rate I wish her only good things and wish her endless readers and lots of good gigs on the way. I think I have to make her Smoky Saucy Chickpeas with Spinach now.

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Last week my coworkers and I got an email from our director that this group will become part of the larger campus IT dept in two weeks. She (the director) will be given a trainer position while she looks for a job at a different univ. We have yet to hear from IT to know what the plan is if any. There was much consternation. On Thursday evening I watched my kids be absolutely amped up about April Fool's day. They were planning many pranks and my first reaction was to grumble but I took the resolve to be pleasant about it. I decided I could grit my teeth and be nice. Then I drank a small glass of wine. Later when I found that Katy had dyed the upstairs toilet water a brilliant green I started laughing. And continued for several minutes. Their delight in being tricky was as vivid as the emerald water. It occurred to me (ridiculously) that we were lucky we didn't have an outhouse for them to push over. Which made me laugh harder. It was an excellent stress outlet. And the next day it turned out that I *loved* their pranks. The big one was that the driver's side of my car was full of stuffed animals when I went out in the morning. I flung them into the passenger's side and enjoyed driving around with them all day. Lexi made up her own prank. She posted a sign in our front window "Pies $1.00". And then a teeny sign on our doorbell "April Fool's!" Because you see we did not have any pies for sale at all. Ingenuity and delight.

I have applied for another on campus admin support position. It feels good to take some positive action rather than wait to see what IT has for me in their wisdom. Hopefully there will be other positions I can fling my resume at. Guess it was a good thing that I had to update that thing. Despite my moaning at the time.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Out lion! Out lamb!

March is sidling toward the door and I have barely acknowledged it. Ah well, it's also bringing a weekend with highs in the 40s and a rain/snow mix. But besides resenting the inhospitable temps I think that's what March should do, swing wildly between colder and warmer and throw some random precipitation on us. Sorry fruit trees, hard frost for you.

Watching Kids in the Hall to continue my Canadian entertainment trend. I have been surprised that the interstitial bits -- scanning shop windows and grocery store shelves -- are giving me nostalgia pangs.

I've got nothing but wanted to lift my face toward the future. Insert hopeful tableau here. Just finished Misfortune by Wesley Stace. I'd recommend half heartedly if you needed a long book. A jolly pastiche is how one review went but I don't think it quite reached that height. Admirable language, some of the characters were distinct and memorable, but a bit of a mess bullied by its bossy lost heir plotline. I'm starting Oryx and Crake now and hope that Ms. Atwood will soon have my attention firmly in her dry narrative grip.

Have an enjoyable weekend even if you spend it indoors.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Ineffable and Sprung

I feel that this first section needs a disclaimer: it's religious navel-gazing. Because this is a blog and my navel is in my purview.

Taking the good where you find it
I love being an Episcopalian/Anglican if for no other reason than I can imagine Bertie Wooster sitting (impatiently) through service in a pew near me. My love for English literature is central to my religion, it's a cultural thing: these are the stories that my people tell. So much wonderful language comes from the wells of the Bible and the book of common prayer. In addition to the cultural heritage aspect I have a religious impulse although I do not believe in a personified God/gods. This gives me plenty to think about when reciting the Nicene Creed. My personal view of God (= the entirety of all that is and has ever been) works for me. And the friction it creates when in contact with scripture and church teaching is instructive and good for my brain. I find that my feminist beliefs are also honed to a fine edge by the sanding of the Bible that tells us stories of that particular patriarchal tribal history. Some things that move me in service are praying for others, singing beautiful poetry (there's plenty of crappy poetry in hymns too, so the good stuff is precious) and imagining every human being working to get beyond their own flaws.

I love thinking about this, it pleases me to parse my own personal beliefs and I'm quite curious about others religious ideas although I'm also too polite to ask. I have resolved to get beyond that reticence and ask some metaphysical questions of my fellow churchgoers. Because I really want to know! And why are we there if we can't talk about some of these ideas that go beyond the material world?

In my opinion most humans have a religious drive and it can be satisfied in a myriad of ways. The fierce atheist who wants to browbeat everyone into admitting there is no God with a long beard sitting on a throne in the sky makes me tired. They seem to be discounting every metaphorical/poetical way of thinking about existence and connection with other humans. And I am uncomfortable with *plenty* of the beliefs of plenty of my fellow Christians.

In contrast to the extremes, here is a statement by a witty agnostic (good old Scalzi) that I appreciate:
There are a number of people who have come to agnosticism or atheism because of conflicts with or disillusionment about religion, and in particular a religion they were born into and grew up in, and others who are agnostic or atheist who feel that religion and the religious impulse must be challenged wherever they find it. For these reasons among others I think people assume those people who aren’t religious are naturally antagonistic, to a greater or lesser degree, to those who are. But speaking personally, I don’t feel that sort of antagonism; I don’t look at those who believe as defective or damaged or somehow lacking. Faith can be a comfort and a place of strength and an impetus for justice in this world, and I’m not sure why in those cases I, as a person without faith, would need to piss all over that.

Green
We've had our first week of Spring here. Monday's 2+ inches of snow melted in a couple of hours and the crocuses are out, yellow and purple both. Last night I slapped a mosquito on my ankle. Goddamn but mosquito season is long here in eastern Kansas. St. Patricks's Day was upon us yesterday. I split a (non-Irish) beer with my husband in the evening. We sat out on the patio with some neighbors and it was delightful. Yesterday I read that originally ale was brewed in the British Isles without hops. The hops were eventually imported from the continent which allowed different sorts beers to be brewed. And now most ales have hops for the preservative qualities as well as the taste. This ale/beer dichotomy is interesting to me but I haven't got a hook, we'll just let this paragraph peter out.

The children had fun wearing their green clothes. Lexi's 1st grade class got face painted. She was very proud of the shamrock on her cheek but all the boys got green mustaches painted on! Hilarious! I harbor a desire to throw a mustache party but I'm worried that sounds dirty.

Too Keyed Up
Here's an email signature I found insufferable today:  
Regardless of how distant your dreams may seem, every second counts.There's the fussy font and then the presumption that her philosophical musing will be relevant to her readers campus-wide. And the sentiment makes me think of sitting at the edge of my seat looking for portent as every second passed. I'd rather dwell in the now -- this is the day we have. What can we do with it? Today I am continuing my tradition of taking little things too seriously.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Cloud to Sun

Friday morning I had a sad (mournful hound image here). I shook it off with a quick trip downtown to the toy store. My husband turned 45. He told me that at school he's learned to "properly scrape off gasket material" and that he lifted a 50 pound compressor without throwing his back out. In sum he said "I keep finding more things I can do that I didn't think I could." And that warms the cockles of my heart. I'd like some of that too. Mastery moments are so satisfying.

At any rate I was at the toy store to buy him a kite. With the March birthday I *always* think he needs a kite. Walking in the sunshine and zipping around downtown gave me a lift. I didn't feel sad when I came back to work.

The day before I had revised my resume and turned it in as part of my bid to get my job reclassified so I can get a raise. There are no regular raises in this time of the incredible shrinking state budget. So my office manager has helped me revise the description and call it a more advanced job. Which is true, I am doing more than I did five years ago. But it's a small job even with all my shiny experience. Looking at the small progress I've made in five years gave me a clutch at my heart. There are people in the world who can look at their resumes dispassionately. There must be. But whenever I work on my resume it makes me want to leave the state and create a new identity. Nod was sympathetic and reminded me that I held the family together during the recent unpleasantness. I also remind myself that I started this job when Lexi was one and Katy was three and I was still getting up in the night almost every night. But nonetheless I was under a cloud and felt lowly low until the toy store outing.

Katy reached a milestone in her development last week. It was being too cool for the 3rd grade music program. She and her friends made fun of the words and arm motions and snickered mightily. She told me ahead of time that she didn't like the songs or moves. I said something mushmouthed about respecting her teacher and that she wouldn't like every piece. But now I know what to say: I do not intend to sit through a performance where you don't sing out or even appear to know all the words. I will not watch you roll your eyes and barely follow along. Infuriating. I told her I was disappointed but left it at that. I'll reserve my speech for the next opportunity.

Last week was something almost every night. We did it all. We went for a walk on Saturday, celebrated the birthday and got a date night out too! We had dinner at a cafe and went to hear Indian music performed in a yoga studio. I looked around at the funky crowd and said, wow, you wouldn't know we were in Kansas.

This morning there is snow falling fast. It should all melt later. March has got it all.

I'm crocheting a poncho for Katy. If it comes out I'll do another one for Lexi too. The neckline was the only tricky part and I had to undo lots of work until I got it mostly correct. Now I'm on the easy part and will see if I can finish it with the odds and ends of yarn I've got. It's the first thing I've crocheted for ages, good fun. The cat is teaching me to put the yarn up when I'm done.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Serious Primate

Light and Dark
Finished Robert Sapolsky's A Primate's Memoir last night. To be strictly honest, I skipped over most of the account of the baboon deaths to get to the end. His anecdotes of being a young dumb American science guy exploring Africa, living with the animals and doing his research work are sidesplitting. Except that there are some sad stories that are interleaved. It all takes place in postcolonial Africa and its vanishing habitats after all. Now I'm regretting recommending it repeatedly as a light hearted read. So to those I recommended to: a belated warning that there's some piercing sadness in addition to the laughs. His travel to the Mountains of the Moon to visit the mountain gorillas and Dian Fossey's grave is affecting. The description of the terrassed farms as far as the eye can see coming up the slopes of the mountain explains why the forest territory is vanishing better than anything else I've read. I am glad I read the book. I laughed, I cried, I'm a primate too.

Slings & Arrows is also delving into the dark for the third season. The Lear episodes are not nearly as sexy as the first two seasons. I'm a little disappointed, being all in favor of sexy, but I have to admit it matches the material. Immanent death, betrayal and foolish behavior as promised. I have one more episode to go. Now I wonder what other Canadian tv series I have left to discover. Bring me more Canadians!

Strider
I'm absurdly proud of myself for walking to work this morning. It took about 25 minutes which is the same amount of time from the old house. I never would have done it except that Nod's Subaru wagon crapped out on the highway yesterday and is in the shop awaiting diagnosis now. He's got my car today. (And note to myself, we've got to get that one's oil changed pronto.) I looked at my bus options and considered making him go late and drop me at work first. But I'm glad I walked, it was easy. The rain in the forecast is holding off, which contributed to the pleasant walk. I may bus it this evening depending on how much wet is falling from the sky at 5pm.
Midday: thunder, dark, pouring rain 39F.

Soup Updates
My tomato basil soup yearning remains unfulfilled. I went to the Aldi store thinking that they might have giant cans of whole tomatoes but no. It's good to visit them once every four years or so and marvel at all the frozen food I don't need. I did make black bean soup and Katy and I enjoyed it mightily. Nod and I cooked all the meat in the world last weekend and are still finishing that. I made a delicious slo cooker beef shanks, that link is not my exact recipe but close, Nod cooked cube steaks (excellent sandwich fixins) plus pork and potatoes. I think I may celebrate Friday night by going to the grocery store once Nod brings the car home tonight.