Thursday, December 31, 2015

Cusp

Better
The week of highs in the 20s turned into 30s and I am relieved. We've shed most of our ice. Only two days this week of wearing hiking shoes to work. More sun to come, thank the spheres.

Feck!
I've been watching Father Ted and thinking of the Danish. The laugh track is execrable but the accents and underplaying are worth it. Won't you have a teeny little sandwich then?

Supplies
I've been making a grocery list all week. I suppose one day I'll need to go out and acquire those things, rather than just recording their absence. Still no yarn, I've been too slayed in the evenings to go out and search for that either.

Lost and Found
Bun's phone was dropped outside her friend's house on Tuesday. Picked up by neighbor kid and dropped off to us on Thursday. That's two phones lost and found in December. Enough of that sort of thing. Kat says hers isn't working very well, stops responding and has to be frequently restarted. I'm not feeling urgent about this but we will probably want to replace it in the spring or at the end of the school year.

Dark
Nod's woken up at 3 something for two mornings in a row. It makes him angry and who can blame him. 3 to 5am in the winter is a useless time of day as far as I can tell.

All the Books/Food
Went to the library with Nod last night to stock up before their two day closure. I have a nice pile including two cookbooks by the Three Many Cooks author Pam Anderson. I'm trying to find a good veggie chili recipe and I have particular requirements. I don't want it to skew sweet so not much corn or sweet potatoes. She uses hominy in her recipes and that sounds like a good direction. I'll try a batch and see if our resident veggie likes it. I also have 2# of green chile thawing, to make a meaty stew with.



Monday, December 28, 2015

Post

Suited ourselves and had a fine holiday. Went to sweet neighbors' brunch on xmas day. It was a good reason to get dressed and be civilized by 11am. At the meal I conversed with her dad, a farmer originally from Nebraska. He told me that he had about twenty cousins and they all grew up within 15 miles of each other. But that now people scatter and relocate and are not so much from one place. I agree but as a contrast I recently heard a statistic that the average adult American lives within 18 miles of their mother. Here's the NYT story with statistical layout. Interesting to see that the NE and central South have the closest distances.

Had a couple over on boxing day for chile and cornbread. They are a May (male programmer) December (female yoga teacher) pair who are getting married in March. They're on a shoestring budget and often don't socialize because $. It was good to see them and I will try to get them to come over and eat our food on a more regular basis. They brought Exploding Kittens and we had a great time trying it out.

Need to go through my bag of holding. I think there are important checks in there somewhere. Nervous belly.

Got freezing rain and snow last night. More today. I am at work which is my latest accomplishment.

Ran low on grey heather yarn. Went to fabric store and they were out of my color! Have striped the back of my sweater to conserve some of the grey. I like how the stripes look and it reminds me of a sampler. But I will need more to do the sleeves. Will try a couple of other yarn retailers.  
...after the ice storm is done.



Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Get your sparkle on

Accordion Noel
Thinking about playing some fun xmas music tomorrow when I'm at work all day. Remembered Brave Combo and wondered... Yes! They do have a Christmas album! I think that must be where old Bob Dylan got his conjunto stylee 'Must Be Santa' arrangement. Research continues...

Blue
Temps in the lower 30s yesterday when I was expecting 50s. I was dumb and I was cold.

Shine
Circus arts recital last night. Sound level was much better this year. The little kids were cute but that part took a long time. Kat was a star. Bun got the pix and video so I can post on FB.

Progress
Technical breakthrough. Finally figured out how to download photos and videos from phone to laptop. I give thanks to the Acer how-to video I found. Got old phone pix saved, got a year of the new phone pix and videos saved. Now I will feel more cavalier about filling up the phone knowing that I can easily save and share this stuff. Still not comfortable with cloud storage stuff although I do have pix in Google Docs.

Communing
Some Christmas cards flung into the postal system. (Imagine a Hilary Knight illustration of Eloise flinging a cyclone of envelopes in a chaotic post office scene.) Brother's shirt and both of Mom's gifts should arrive before Christmas day. I will write some more cards to send after Yule. Got more done than I expected!

Tradition
A friend is caroling at a nursing home at 11:30a on the Eve, I may take Lexi and do that. And I may visit our church on Christmas Eve. Trying to decide between kid's pageant at 5:00pm and Lessons and Carols at 10:30pm. I suppose if I get all my wrapping done I could take a nap and make the late show. But it is seeming unlikely.



Friday, December 18, 2015

Snews

Ear attention
Rinsed the dog's ears again because she's been rubbing at them. It was an unpopular procedure. I wiped at them a little bit. Suspect I need to do the med drops too. I will need a dog wrassler for that.

New mystery
Reading a Murdoch mystery by Jennings set in 1880s Toronto. Couldn't find the first book of the series so am trying the second. I like the removed tone. I notice modern concerns (feminism and the inner life of women so far) but not it's not excessive. Officer Murdoch doing his calisthenics reminds me of PGW's description of Ashe Marson's morning exercises in Something New:
The Larsen Exercises, invented by a certain Lieutenant Larsen, of the Swedish Army, have almost every sort of merit. They make a man strong, supple, and slender. But they are not dignified. Indeed, to one seeing them suddenly and without warning for the first time, they are markedly humorous. 
No one laughs at Murdoch so far. But then he is doing his situps in the privacy of his own room.
-------------
Finished that book and I liked the ending which had Murdoch sandwiched between female admirers while everyone watched the police force tug-o-war contest. He may be humor-impaired but the author isn't.

Inches
Mailed Mom's birthday present and card today. Ordered a Christmas present which may or may not be delivered on 12/24. Feels like a hurdle cleared. Wish we were closer. Air travel costs are not going down. I am thinking that our next ABQ visit will be by car.

More inches
Have finished 13" of the front panel of my sweater from a pattern out of Stitch 'n Bitch. Here's someone else's finished sweater pics. I changed the pattern so the crossed bones are now crossed arrows and the skulls are 4 petal flowers. Also added a small flower in the center of the chest. So I girlified it!


Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Tidal

The Christmas wave is happening. Tree was wrassled. It wanted to lie at a 30&deg angle in the stand. Nod had a go at it. I theorized that the hardware store nimrod who trimmed the trunk for me had left too much of a lip on one side that made it topple. I found a wood scrap in the backyard to shim it. Removed a couple of rusty nails and then it was just the right size. Tree is up straightish now and no one is allowed to adjust it anymore. It's lovely with our lights and ornaments. Haven't hung the small candy canes yet. The race is on to hang them before we eat them all.

A few things ordered. A little one for my mom arrived - a Navajo sand cast silver letter opener. I should have checked the description better, it's smaller than I expected. But it feels nice and is pretty. The little piece of turquoise doesn't appear to be a hunk of blue plastic. I need to find a box and fling it into the shipping lanes.

One more trip to the toy store should do it. Oldest daughter is a puzzle. That's traditional for 14. Hmm...

Nod is in the Slough of Despond with no sun lately. I think it'll reappear tomorrow and that ought to help all of us. During our Sunday of rain I was feeling a bit of anomie. But hell, I jogged Saturday and got a lot of things done over the weekend.

Including going to see The Good Dinosaur with youngest. It was better than I expected. I'm glad Bun is an ancient 11 y.o. because our protagonist went through many natural disasters and got clonked on the head in frightening ways more than once. I cried a lot because the movie fulfilled its destiny as a Disney production, exploring parental loss. One killed on screen, two lost before the plot started. But it was a good cry. I commend the writers' sincerity. On the entertainment front I especially enjoyed the herding T Rexes. They looked like centaurs when they ran. Sam Elliott is welcome to bring that rumbly bass voice over here by me any time. I liked this movie better than Inside Out which sets me against other friends my age and the Rotten Tomatoes voters.

Solstice is next week so we can swing into gaining light very soon. Slow pivot through the darkest point.

Finished one card. Am giving myself Jan 31 as my deadline for the entire project. I can send paper missives!


Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Bzzzzz

Honey fence
How do you keep elephants in a preserve? With beehives of course. Found at Nag on the Lake. Beehives are mounted on fence poles which are connected by wires. If the elephants bump the wire or the poles the bees react.
Zoologist Lucy King came up with the honey fence solution, which takes advantage of the fact that elephants are terrified by the sound of bees. (The delicate skin inside their trunks is apparently particularly vulnerable to being stung.)
Cacophony Society
6th grade band concert is tomorrow night. I am ready to watch my little darling and her trombone. I am prepared for novice ensemble playing. I will keep any giggles silent.

Tree petting
There are two pretty douglas fir xmas trees left at our favorite neighborhood hardware store. Cost $65. I think I'll try to convince the fam that one of these is our destiny.

Long Things
Maybe you just need some long articles to read right now. There's the Emma article that I've been pushing, written by the Austen critic/enthusiast John Mullan. Or for a taste of world finance, how about an article on the boom/bust that the Isle of Jersey is going through? I'm currently working my way through this interview with the Johns that are They Might Be Giants about every single album they've recorded so far. Aah.



Monday, December 7, 2015

Jostle On

Crock Pot Hot Tub
Before we left for the holiday I cooked black-eyed peas in the crockpot overnight. In the morning they were still tough. Nod told me he thought it wasn't hot enough, said I needed to boil 'em! I looked at the steamy but not bubbling pot and turned the heat up a bit. Checked back after half an hour, nothing. So I put them on the stove and boiled 'em! And that's what it took. Apparently I had been treating the black-eyed peas to a lengthy hot tub session rather than cooking them.

Blogbliss
Followed a link to author Blair Thornburgh's blog and was delighted at these prose seashells:
Important sea chanty info, strong opinions on Christmas carols, and valuable life hacks.

Power thru
Had an accidental party on Saturday night. It was a couple coming over and then we invited more neighbors and another friend. They all came and we had beer and snacks around the fire in the backyard. Much chat and cackling. I got my second wind and was up til 1:30a. Short sleep, two strong beers and not much dinner brought some follow up bleariness the next day. I slopped around until noon then made fast soup (Tomato Basil Soup with water instead of broth and no cream but we add yogurt to our bowls).

Stateline
Post-soup I agreed to take K to get the top of her ear pierced. It's what she wanted for her birthday. After initially saying that she could pierce whatever she wanted after she was 18 I decided it wasn't the end of the world. Nod had no objection. So she got directions to the mall in the state where it's legal to get a cartilage piercing at the mall. And we drove there. In our state you have to go to a piercer to get that done. Only got lost once. Was very efficient and K reports it didn't hurt much at all.

Jostling
Jogged Saturday after the holiday hiatus. It was short and a bit lame. Jogged Sunday with my neighbor SK who'd been at our party. She's trying to get back to a routine too. Sunday's outing felt better and I was not tempted to slack off early. Am going to propose a weeknight outing to the indoor track to try that out. I need an option when daylight and dry sidewalks aren't available. SK says she read a study about fast walking vs. running. The study said that running produced a better toned butt even if the walkers went fast enough to maintain an equivalent heart rate. They concluded that it must be the jiggling that made the difference. I think the jostling of jogging is good for my entire organism. Gives all those systems something to react to.


Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Cake or Books?

I am taking inspiration from the Little Professor's recap of her year in reading. I'm curious to see how many... The stats from Goodreads say it's been 71 books. Even adjusting for some abandoned books -- Gosh.

I count 14 cosy books, 22 fantasy books, 5 general fiction, 3 memoirs, 10 mysteries, 7 nonfiction titles and one SciFi. Sounds like a life well lived. Mostly 3 or 4 star reviews. I'm getting good at quitting books that aren't bringing me what I want.

Words to conjure with = Applesauce cake with caramel glaze. I also want to make more fridge pickles but I promise not to eat them with the cake.

You may need to read these tweets about mortifying moments. I need to wait until I'm not at work to read the rest.

Swedish Spice Cookies. I think I'll try buttering the bottom of a cut glass tumbler and marking the tops with that.


Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Black ice dancing

Icy highways on the plains. We saw rain and then freezing rain on Thanksgiving morning while watching the temperature go slowly down. After crossing into Colorado we hit some black ice and the Dreadnought sashayed back and forth on the road. Nod brought it to a gentle stop on the correct side of the road. Points for him. I gave running commentary (Steer into the turn! We're okay! It's going to be okay!) which is what I had to do in order not to scream. Watched a car with Georgia plates go off into the right hand ditch. They were able to drive it out again with no trouble. But many miles where the back end tried to creep around if we went more than 45 mph which makes a long drive much longer.

We got there and had a wonderful visit in Denver. It was lightly snowing most of the time and the roads were treated and fine. Visiting with the brother and nephews and honorary sis in law was very good. Even went for a lovely snow hike with Jenn near Morrison. Couldn't get Rye or the nephs to come, too cold. There was no wind the snow and ice covered every branch and leaf. Hushed and expectant. Saw deer browsing above the trails, watching hikers and even dogs without much interest. Bun found a hideout under a pinetree and spooked a bunny out of it. Kat got a picture of the bunny and the trail and the foothills and everything else.

Rye deep fried two turkeys, standing outside in the side yard in the snow. He earned his feast. Food was delish and 9 adults and 9 kids were good company. The kids between 11 and 16 all played Risk after dinner. The girls are so ancient now that I didn't have to do anything for them except tell them to be patient when they were ready for pie before the adults were.

More ice on the way home and we stopped for another motel night. Glad to be home and off those roads and what was I thinking? Next time: CO in summer. Jenn says cabin camping and that appeals.




Monday, November 23, 2015

In Story and Song

Misty all the time. Just read a little something about Mr. Rogers, got slightly teary. Yesterday at the folk song sing, got intermittently teary. I wonder if this is happening more often. Then I do the math and realize it's happening as much as it usually does. Cycles!

Trilling. My favorite of the songs we sang was If I Only Had a Brain/a Heart/the Nerve. I remember the days when Kat would ask for the Oz soundtrack every morning at breakfast. Surprised me that "Over the River and Through the Woods" did not make it into Rise Up Singing. Bun came and sang with us. She was done after a couple of hours (which showed great stick-to-it-iveness) and walked home. It was a good group and Ann Zimmerman was a charming and talented piano muso. I need to follow the thread to the Lenexa sing.

Menu and you and you. Bringing black eyed peas to the thanksgiving feast at my brother's house outside of Denver. It's not traditional but it won't fight with anything else on the menu and will be a good veggie option. Kat says that in general she expects the T'giving meal to be mostly potatoes and pie and she's all right with that. Also bringing whole-berry cranberry sauce because the jelly doesn't do it for me. Plus bread and pop and beer.

Frosty. Checking the forecast and so far no blizzard has scotched our trip. The border between KS and CO is a good place to find blizzard conditions so I will keep an eye out.

Six pack to goCasino Royale was good, Nod watched with me and liked it much better than he expected. We did ff through the happy couple montage near the end. Quite stylish deployment of super-spy tropes with creative twists and turns. Excellent cast and a lot of restraint in the writing and directing. (The self-defibrillator bit had me laughing though. If I find you collapsed in your car, the first thing I manage to do will not be to reattach a wire to a patch on your chest.)



Friday, November 20, 2015

Opened eyes

Posted on FB that I want to send out cards and if anyone wants a card they should message me their mailing address. I will keep doing that weekly through Dec 15 and we'll see how many takers there are.

With Nod's help I injected the dog's allergy medicine. I have two more 1.0 ml syringes that are small and fiddly. I need to get some of the 5.0 ml ones. Will ask at pharmacy. Beast needs her ears flushed regularly as well. I no longer feel as put upon by her health needs. But on the other hand I don't feel a great deal of urgency in attending to them either. I guess there has to be a balance. Poor Snickerdoodle. Will give pet sitter key and notes on Tuesday.

Watched this documentary on the Lakota language with Kat. She was more interested than I expected. Very few native speakers and small numbers of fluent speakers in the younger generations. One of the teachers said this is the battle that all the Lakota people are engaged in whether they know it or not. Another teacher is a French philosophy professor who came to the area and married a Lakota woman and learned the language. Part of the process is convincing people that this is a language that can be learned, it is not insurmountable. Another teacher translated how an approaching thunderstorm is described in Lakota:  "They have returned." And lightning: "They have opened their eyes." I find that creepy and amazing. I couldn't answer Kat's question about Lakota vs. Dakota. Searching tells me that Lakota, Dakota and Nakota are dialects of a language group.

Reading the next Sheriff Longmire book. Why does 'sheriff' only have one 'r'? Finished At Home in Mitford and had a good time writing my review. I can see the appeal of a cosy read but it flew past my sweet spot. Well written though, I read the whole durn thing.





Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Pleasure Purpose

Waiting for more bad news. There are plenty of people who want to bring violence to the West. I like the advice from Charles Pierce to follow the money and stop sending arms and support to power players in the middle east. I'm sure however that it's more complicated than his suggestions imply. Using the Paris attacks as justification for refusing to receive refugees is horridly convenient.

Purpose. What is bringing pleasure? That is what I want to record here. The irritations and dreads will make it in as well. But mostly I want to document the loveliness that comes and goes. This morning was rainy and included a blood draw so it's a good challenge! I wore my very effective raincoat and carried my umbrella and enjoyed not being cold and wet.

Action movie pleasure. I haven't seen any of the Daniel Craig Bond movies. The latest one is out and looking at the fashion photos of the stars is making me curious. I found that the first and third have very good audience ratings. The ratings for Quantum of Solace say 'stay away'. Perversely I still like the awkward title.

Pitching things pleasure. I weeded out all the sprouted and squishy potatoes yesterday. Sad but necessary. I felt the impulse to roast the remaining spuds right then but I had other things going on. Perhaps tonight. Use 'em up! I also threw out the rotting shallots. I have taken against shallots after finding them too sweet in the past. I used to think they were the bees' knees and then one time found them off-putting and have never gone back. It could even be a long ago pregnancy related taste issue. At any rate these two were no longer any good to anyone but the fruit flies.

Bookcase pleasure. Kat rearranged two of our bookshelves in the living room. She put series together and separated fiction from non-fiction and reference. It's all very library-like and delightful.

Pernicious pleasure. I love the wording:

From the Language Log post. Also reminds me of Dahl's Vermicious Knids.



Friday, November 13, 2015

Wind and muffins

Gusty winds up to 45 mph were intermittent through Veterans' Day. Leaves spun in dust devils or were launched upward when the air waves hit. I jogged with the wind at my back and then got to push against it going home. Glad to be wearing glasses to keep the leaf grit out of my eyes.

11/12 noticed that I had fresh mosquito bites on my neck. Gradually realized there were no mosquitoes. Looked at cat for fleas, no sign. It dawned on me that these itchy things are hives. No laundry soap change lately. Antibiotics? Grr.

From a post with 5 different apple cake recipes. I don't remember seeing this phrase before: 'légère comme une plume'. It's exactly the same construction as the English 'light as a feather'. But it feels totally fresh to me. It reminds me of a young woman I met in Paris who was studying Arabic. She told me about the men who catcalled her in Egypt. She said it was always done quietly and they called her 'Moon' and 'Honey'. 'Miel' is not an endearment in French so it sounded inventive and charming to her.

I have extra cottage cheese and I want to make this recipe for Cottage Cheese Muffins. My American measurement translation of the recipe:

INGREDIENTS

scant 3/4 cup (2.8 oz) wholemeal flour
heaped 1/2 cup (2.5 oz) plain a.p. white flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon powdered mustard
1/4 teaspoon paprika
Pinch of sea salt
scant T (0.35 oz) chopped butter (cold)
1 egg
scant T (0.4 oz) semi skimmed milk
1/3 cup (2.3 oz) cottage cheese
Small handful of fresh parsley (chopped)
1/4 cup (0.5 oz) strong cheese (grated)

DIRECTIONS
~ Pre-heat the oven to 400°F.

~ Mix the flours, salt, paprika, baking powder and mustard in a bowl. Rub in the butter.

~ In a separate bowl, beat the egg and mix in the milk along with the parsley and cottage cheese. Gently stir the mixture into the dry ingredients until just combined.

~ Pour into the prepared tins or muffin cases and sprinkle with the cheese and a little sea salt. Bake in the middle of the oven for around 17-20 minutes, until the tops are a lovely golden brown colour.



Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Popcorn

Spare pet names
I have no plans you understand. But sometimes they bubble up and better to have a stash against future needs. Figgy Pudding, Blunderbuss, Ballyhoo, Hullaballoo (pick only one), Folly, Edwina, Ephraim Newt, Emperor Constantine, Cockolorum, Tipitina, Ninevah.

Slanting light
Short days and low slanty light in the early afternoon. Makes me want to go chalk a fencepost shadow to watch it lengthen towards Dec. 21.

Found radio poem
The education commentator may have carefully crafted this but it sounded off-the-cuff when he talked about comparing educational outcomes across US schools: 'Can we compare outcomes in Albuquerque to those in Akron? to those in Sacramento?'
Nice internal sound stuff there as well as a good geographic span.




Monday, November 9, 2015

Blips

No holes
Picking out an apple from the bag in the fridge and the first one I pulled out had a small hole. I don't want a holey apple. No... what I want is an unholy apple. Mwahahahaha. What could you do with a demonic apple? Reminiscent of the classic poisoned apple, but different.

Greenies
Perhaps worse than a worm in an apple is aphids all over the mint sprigs. Ugh. I'll try rinsing them off and squishing what I can see but it's not a good sign.

Herding
Bun's research paper is on dreams. Sounds fluffy and insubstantial and yet the paper still has to be written and it's a slog. Writing seems to not come naturally for her. I entirely commiserate and am going to do what I can to help her get as much practice as possible. Oh and math, she's gotta do more practice there too. As predicted, this year is demanding more of our sunbeam. I want to help her find a comfort level and a way to approach work.

Far East
Kat's going to Japan with the exchange program this summer. She went to her first monthly meeting to learn some Japanese phrases and pick a fundraising committee and so on. We're getting the grandmas on board. I told my mom last night and she's delighted. I predict a similar reaction from Texas grandma.

Southwest
Found out that my MIL thinks we're coming to Austin for Christmas. I think this was Nod's doing. I neither confirmed nor denied. We'll have more of a family discussion next weekend.

Party people
Went to my husband's counselor's birthday party Saturday night. He woke up grumpy from a nap and I thought it might be a quick drop-in appearance. Neither Kat nor I expected to know anyone. But Kat was immediately folded into the teenager contingent. And I spent time talking with several people who made me feel welcome, including our hosts. It even included a little tipsy bonfire jumping with Nod in the backyard. A good evening and worth the overeating hangover the next day.

Colonizing
Am down to the last 150 pages of SevenEves by Neal Stephenson. I'm adding the capital e since I have such trouble trying to pronounce it without. The contact between the Diggers and the Spacers on the reformed Earth has just blown up. Despite the violence I'm having to make an effort to get through it. The first half was my favorite. So many imagined inventions and technological solutions. Even with all the new tech the book still skims over the difficulties of living in confined, low-grav spaces.



Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Greening in the dark season

Mint in a pot, on our dryer, by the one and only south-facing window in the whole house. I may put the Christmas cactus out here as well to get the light. The mint came as fresh herbs in our farm share allotment several weeks ago. I've been meaning to plant some since March. It is one of the most tenacious plants so I shouldn't be surprised that it promptly rooted in water. Nonetheless, I am ridiculously pleased to see it in the potting soil now. I hope it will survive the winter.

I would like a set of paperbacks for the entire Tiffany Aching series. But I can't have it yet, the last book was just published in hardback. I wonder how fast the publishing cycle is these days. Would a paperback be available nine months after the hardback release? Will make a note to check and order for birthday present if so.

Don't forget to clean your waffle maker!

Heard part of an interview with Audrey Niffenegger on the radio last Friday. She's flogging a collection of ghost stories so they were running the interview the day before Halloween. I have mixed feelings about The Time Traveler's Wife and didn't expect much from her. But an idea of hers got to me. She said that many people had told her of their experiences with ghosts and she developed the idea that ghost phenomena could be thought of as an emotional echo chamber. Things that can't be finished and things that can't be expressed are terribly powerful. This felt true to me. I don't believe in ghosts but can believe in the power of unexpressed or mutated grief.



Friday, October 30, 2015

Wrap it up

Slight unwellness
After an improbable run of effectiveness and efficiency I succumbed to some aches and self-pity Tuesday night. I lolled on the couch while the other family members carved their pumpkins. I pressed a mug with a steaming piece of wet paper towel in the bottom to my ear. And I watched 9 innings of baseball. It wasn't a very reassuring baseball game for we Royals fans. I retired to bed after they had tied it up in the bottom of the ninth inning. I had the radio on until the twelfth inning but was mostly asleep. Nod came to bed after midnight and told me they finally won it in the 14th effing inning.

Despite a fragile feeling I have no more distinct symptoms and bravely went to work. I will surely be recognized for my efforts in the face of post nasal drip. Self pity lifted as I never succumbed to whatever it was. The Royals winning again clearly bolstered my immune system.

Blackhearted
I made a pot of black beans on Sunday with the slow cooker but they were grudging and still firm after many hours. Monday I brought them to the boil again and let them cook some more. I think they've finally reached Edible. Am throwing out the rest of that bag. Some beans just don't want to soften. Made another batch of red ench sauce to go with them. Mmmmm.

Japanned
Kat has been accepted into the exchange program our city does with its Japanese sister city. I am worried that we've bitten off more than we can chew. We will help her ask her grandmas for $ and Nod wants her to create another fundraising event. Ugh. Then at some point we're supposed to host two Japanese students for a week. This will require a new piece of furniture just to start. I will go to the Sat. info meeting and see if they have any comfort for me. I will take a sandwich because it's scheduled from 10:30 to 12:30.

Acting!
Last night I carved my pumpkin and watched a terrible movie The Petrified Forest. It's old enough to be interesting despite the wooden acting and melodrama structure. Bette Davis and Humphrey Bogart in '36 playing youths, something I'd never seen before. The movie is also full of all the movie cliches that Looney Tunes flogged to such good effect. My favorite was the gangsters crowded around the wooden radio console listening to the voice giving a Special Bulletin about the police chasing them.

Costume snit
Kat wanted to sew her No Face tube of black fabric and had decided that it must happen last night. I didn't full absorb that message until it was almost 10p. I sent her to bed after we pinned the sides. Like a notions superhero I wound a bobbin of black thread, threaded the machine and sewed the sides. And then I kicked things on my way to bed. Black thundercloud over head. I basted the end this morning and it's ready to attach to the mask. Am pleased with result.




Monday, October 26, 2015

Falling leaves

Walked to work
Last Wednesday morning. Parked car at repair shop the night before so they could do my front brakes. No drama, the walk takes about half an hour. It's a fine walk under big trees that are mostly turning color or already losing leaves. I wish it was shorter or made me buff, one or the other. My bod does well with walking but I get no noticeable results unless I'm jog trotting.

Not a crock
Made revelatory crockpot chicken again! In chicken: garlic, parsley, half a lemon. On chicken: salt and pepper. Under chicken: some oil, onion, carrot and celery. Cook on 2 (on my ancient Lutheran rummage sale crockpot) for 4 hours. Can broil chicken to crisp it up. Really succulent results.

Chuzzle?
Out of contemporary novels, I started a Dickens in desperation: Martin Chuzzlewit. But then I made it to the library and picked up John Straley, Craig Johnson, and Neal Stephenson books. I'll save old Chas. for colder weeks.

Challenge
Delicate meetup set for Monday evening. Nod recommended telling stories and getting to know each other. Sounds radical.

Turnover
Change is in the air at work. A sweet co worker left, another one is done at the end of October. Our team leader is looking at her options. I don't blame her but if she leaves the remaining two of us will be adrift. I admire her ambition and big picture view.

Niche
The Polylinguist has moved out of his young adult group flat in Ealing. He has been their oldest young adult for a while now. He is now in temporary digs in Chiswick. It sounds like that plan is for him to buy something. "This place is great; what a shame I'll only be here until I buy whatever hole in whatever life-threatening remote neighbourhood that I can't really afford!" London real estate is a daunting monster. I hope he can sneak under its guard and find a good nook.

Glue
A lot of fashion has to do with glue these days. We can have rhinestones on everything because the industry has come up with shiny bits and glue that can both survive machine washing and drying. Bought some jeans for Kat at Target and we by-passed an entire rack devoted to large rhinestones on back pockets. She still likes plain rather than bright or glitzy but it's not all black. Quite refreshing.

The Smartypants Signoff
It's not a farewell entirely but she's done writing about her kid because teenager. I have also been thinking about how my teenager has assumed more creative control. Raising my invisible glass to that accomplishment.



Monday, October 19, 2015

Lessons Learned

Blue dome
An afternoon at the farm to pick pumpkins was the fulfillment of another successful family tradition. The sunlight, bright blue sky and breeze were delectable. Nod thinks that if he had a few acres he'd like to have a bungie cord slingshot setup as well. I think I'd like to have a hammock. All that sunlight made me feel like napping.

It's gonna get you
Days are getting shorter and the darkness is coming! At the stoplight on my way to work Friday I looked up to see a streetlight as it switched off. First time I've seen that in a while, shiver.

Sunset color
October is the orange season and I could eat it up with a spoon. Pumpkins, leaves, the slanted afternoon light. Our neighbor's new couch is orange and I covet it. She got it at the big blue warehouse so we might copy. Nod stretched out and put his feet up on the ell and said he hadn't been that comfortable in a while. If we install that couch we may have to use a spatula to get him off it. Our front steps is full of pumpkins. The forecast is for high 70s all week so we'll wait to carve until at least the weekend. Stay away from our decorative gourds you poxy squirrels!

Tall boy
Met an akita at neighbor's party. He was low key and friendly, on the extremely civilized end of the doggy continuum. Which is good because he's so tall he could just eat the chips and dips off the dining table.

Thin ice
My most delicate social opportunity of the moment is waiting for me to set up a time to meet. I'm avoiding and it's dumb. Either do or do not.

Or not
Reflecting on how contrary my spouse is he countered that I had plenty of Contradicta in me as well. Nod:  "..the way that you will argue with everything I say." Nimble: "I don't think that's entirely true." and then buckets of laughter in the car as I realized what I'd done. Quite right, it's arguing that will keep you alive. 

Missing that certain something
Made Broccoli Cheddar soup Monday evening. It was all right but seemed innocuous and like it was missing something. As I was washing the dishes I realized what it was: cheddar. I had made the soup and forgotten the cheese. 

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Grab and go

Pig win
The Waffle introduced me to a new word: Mangalitsa. It's a Hungarian hairy pig variety, a cross between domestic pigs and wild pigs. Modern Farmer entry on the Mangalitsa. Modern Farmer has some other winning entry titles on that page: "Never buy a teacup pig" and "Unsolved mystery: exploding pig poop".

Woolly booger:
mangalitsa-1


Shocking
More than halfway through this box of tea bags at work I have discovered they are decaffeinated. I have a caffeine deficiency! This could explain a lot.


Crisis!
Younger kid came up against some deadlines last night. Tears and feeling doomed about a bunch of math and a research project. We talked through what she needed to do before the morrow. I went and got a couple of library books and helped her find a website with some real content. Helped her switch topics to get the math mostly done and then herded her to bed. She got up an hour early, finished the math and was feeling much more on top of things for the research paper. Result!


Swindled
While taking a break from coaching Bun, Nod drew me aside last night. He had a matter to confess: the gym staff, not content to take his membership fees (ugh) got him to sign up for a pricey amount of personal training (UGH!). He had tried to renege but had already signed something and the money is theirs. So I'm going to choose to think of it as money towards his health maintenance. So in case you have just joined a gym, remember that the staff's job is to extract as much $$ out of you as they can. En garde! Wish I could poke someone with a fencing epee: enh! enh! and eeeenh!


Red
I intend to take some photos of the foliage this fall. Even crummy photos will show how gorgeous the colors are.



Monday, October 12, 2015

The Mission

More even-keeled this week. Family trip to the movies last night. Felt sorry for my 11 year old during the horror movie previews. But after that bit we all enjoyed The Martian. Yes, you should go.

I thought Ridley Scott was done and am delighted he's still working and that he made such a hopeful movie. Inspiring to see priorities that are set by a mission and the preservation of human life. This is compared to 'normal life' where a mission statement is probably a mushy bunch of waffly words that sum up to something like 'we do good stuff'. Jeff Daniels deserves an award simply for the towering number of movies he's made. He must be ahead of all the other actors by now. He's excellent as the head of NASA.

I'm not sure if I could be diurnal if I lived in Scandinavia with all this going on at night.


found in a metafilter post.

Over the last week the first reds and golds have come out on trees. There is one intersection I come to every morning on my way to work. A stop sign is backedup by a towering red topped tree. Stop! for Fall!



Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Value

Feeling unworthy at work. That's familiar. It doesn't mean that I'm getting bad feedback. But that I don't feel I measure up to what's expected. I can summon a cloud of dread with a mere flick of my finger. I have a history of treating this by taking a not-so-ambitious job.

Time to sign up for the health insurance plan for next calendar year. Our plan cost will more than double starting in January. This requires arithmetic to compare it with another plan. I resent the time I must spend doing something that I don't feel any confidence that I will do correctly: estimate health care costs and correctly discern which plan will be most economical for our family. I realize this is complaining about our solid gold health coverage and don't expect sympathy.

Trying to download an app and update Google Play on my phone. It spins and doesn't resolve and I have no idea how to encourage it.

Jogged Monday evening in the mist. It was so cool I added a jacket for the first time. Nod went swimming at the gym. I resent the gym membership expense. He felt it was necessary. I will ask for a review of value at the end of next summer before re-upping.

Wish I'd known about the health insurance hike before I committed to the increased (~$300 per year) parking fee.

Ran into the kids yesterday at the union when they were getting lunch. School group was at lit fest. I gave them some tips (salad bar is good and quicker than other lines) and left them to it. Kat asked last night if she can take some of her classes online. I have no idea how that works but I guess I'm going to find out. She is not a slacker but is chafing under the yoke. There's plenty to chafe so why not explore other ways to get to the finish line?








Friday, October 2, 2015

Clank

Deciding whether to step down the antibiotics yet. I may keep on for a couple more days and then reduce the dosage. Skin has responded - clear at the moment. Maybe I should keep on through the next hormonal surge. I got over the tilted feeling of the first week, where it felt like I was about to stumble at any moment. Now my only remaining side effect is that when I get hungry I get Very Hungry. Don't know if that's because gut flora are reduced. I wonder if I'm absorbing less nutrients. Also I'm jogging some days a week. So I just keep eating and hoping for the best.

CN reminded me of the existence of frozen hashbrowns. I had never purchased any before. Somehow they were just out of my view, over the horizon of possibility. But the grocery store did accept my money and I came home with some last weekend. Just fried the first panful last night and I can tell this will be a frequent event. My days of shredding potatoes and squeezing the water out of them may be ended. The Ben and Birdy recipe for breakfast burritos is quite tantalizing. I was compelled to make a batch of black beans after reading. I haven't actually progressed to the burritos but it sounds like a wonderful idea. Good for the hungry and grumpy no matter how old.

Thinking about the clanky wonderful carillon on campus. The bell tower instrument, played like an organ with hands and feet. Something about being between earth and sky and the clock/ alarum/ mourning/ praise functions of the big bells. Definitely could work that up to some magic in a campus fantasy setting. Play with the clumsy clanking nerd musician aspect as a foil to the summoning powerful call. And now I know that the Guild of Carillonneurs in North America exists! Wonder what the total membership number is.

Important information for future ref: NYT's collection of veggie comfort food recipes.




Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Loony

The moon was all it was cracked up to be. Quite an unusual celestial combination including a convenient viewing time, mild temps and clear local skies. Here's a photo by Keith Caffery that caught a meteor as well for an embarrassment of riches:
shooting

Aaaah. We sat in the back of the Subaru wagon with the flap up and watched the darkening. The youngest got chilly, then sleepy. We decided the wagon is big enough for the two girls to sleep in for car camping. That would give the two adults a more reasonable amount of room in the tent in our so far entirely theoretical family camping. Then we drove out to the soybean field to see the full dark. I was waffling on the second part but am so glad I got to see the beautiful starfield with the darkened moon. There's a brilliant twinkling star I've been seeing in the northeast, down below Cassiopeia and Perseus. Pretty sure it's Capella, the Goat Star
Looking north in November

Lots of colors in the twinkles which I know is partially because it's so low in the sky and therefore I'm seeing it through layers of visually distorting atmosphere. Still gorgeous.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Middling

I keep seeing this article linked in my internet reading territory. Article in The Atlantic by Alison Gopnik. She tells about a literary/historical/philosophical quest that pulled her out of a mid-life depression. It's witty and has much to recommend it. Here are the lines that are travelling with me this week:
"When you're young you want things: work, love, children. When you reach middle age, you want to want things."

Is that true? I have gone through times in my life when I wanted things desperately. And times even in youth when I couldn't muster up the interest to want. Part of growing up was learning about emotional weather patterns; to hold on during storms and wait for better days. I don't have a passion pulling me forward. More satisfaction in making life rumble on fairly smoothly. I find it harder and harder to think of myself as a sexual initiator. I see my middle aged body as more humble and crass than ever. Grateful for the long term partner I've got and not much interested in any prowling or posing.

Although after reading an appreciation of Margaret Dumont (of Marx Brothers films fame) I remembered that I do love a good randy matron. If there's not a cocktail named after Mae West then it's time to invent one. Hm, the brandy with egg yolk recipe sounds more medicinal than appealing. But then according to the Guardian the lady herself didn't drink alcohol.

I still want friends and company. That's what I should be working on. Should shakes its finger. Full lunar eclipse on Sunday night if we don't have clouds.

Last night's cobbled together lasagne was a good way to use extra ricotta in the fridge as well as a couple of farm share eggplants that would have gone to compost otherwise. More tomato sauce next time. The Serious Eats folks in the Food Lab are blowing my mind with the ideas about soaking dried pasta or putting into the water before bringing it to a boil. The lasagne noodles were great after a soak and just a brief boil.


Thursday, September 17, 2015

Fall and its discontents

Feeling fragile, unmotivated, disconnected. In the past week I've turned to ice cream rather than exercise. (And then Lot's Wife was turned to a pillar of ice cream.) (Does she have a name mentioned in the O.T.? Now I have to go look for it...   ...Wikipedia tells me some Jewish traditions name her Ado or Edith but that didn't make it to Genesis.)

The earlier sunsets and the sound of dry leaves are making me feel melancholy. Time to howl at the moon.

A friend just told me that she's withdrawn her kid from high school because of stress. She's going to try homeschooling of some sort but the kid doesn't like computers so it sounds dicey. I feel for them. The kid will make it through one way or another, her mom is making sure she has options and resources.

I spoke with oldest about a note I found while making her room grandma-ready in July. It appeared to propose drinking green tea instead of eating a meal. At the time I raised my eyebrows high and thought about eating disorders and this age group. Then I stuck the note in my underwear drawer to discuss with daught1 when I could do so without confrontation. Got around to it last night when we were coming home from grocery store run to get her ice cream. (Bun and I had some from last weekend and she would not be left out.) She said it was a list she was keeping of food items that were good to add to her diet, not for replacing meals. "You just bought me ice cream, Mom." True. It was good to have it be a non dramatic thing.

Claire de Lune by Debussy has been my companion this summer. Kat has been working on it diligently and I love the swoony beginning. I love the whole thing really but lately every  been getting more tense. It is a difficult piece of piano music. Kat has been getting further into it but is playing it now with more vigor and frustration than sweetness and anticipation. She is struggling with it, worrying at it. Last night she kept banging the keys and growling when she hit tangled notes. I had to ban Clair de Lune for the evening.


I'll play this version for her. Walter is making my toes curl.




Thursday, September 10, 2015

Creak

Coffin lid? seldom opened door? my joints?

I felt creaky on Tuesday morning after the holiday and it took some time to get back into the swing. The long weekend held good family outings and good houseworky accomplishments. The rain that arrived Monday was unwelcome. Nod and I got up and pouted and sulked. After the sulking got old I did some of those admirable chores. Then I went with to keep him company while he moved equipment and tools out of the old van into the shiny new van. This turned out to be more like moving house than either of us expected. After an hour or so he sent me home.

All of us dragged through the day. We did get a great thunderstorm Monday night with flashing lightning and boom-cracking peals of thunder that settled down just in time for us to go to sleep. But it continued so gray and humid and oppressive Tues. I moaned and longed for a high pressure system.

Which arrived on Wednesday for my day off! Spouse had a medical procedure first thing. It was under general anesthetic and I was a bit worried because of how white and weak he'd been after the last colonoscopy. But this was quick, no anatomical irregularities found. He was sleepy but his color was good and he was cranky which seemed like a healthy response. Went for a big breakfast since he'd been fasting. Later he soaked in a warm bath while I took the dog around the butterfly garden in the park and enjoyed the day. I got the back mowed, finished a book, watched two Longmire eps, took the girls for smoothies and visited a thrift store. Good day.

Found a sky blue silk robe at the SalvArmy store. It's missing a belt but feels lovely and doesn't look worn at all. Looked up how to wash silk. The fabric has chrysanthemums or some equivalent floral pattern woven into it. If it looked a bit sturdier I would throw it in a mesh bag and use the machine on delicate. But handwashing it is!

Still looking for a way to hang my ceramic moon circle (frame? fabric?) and a narrow bookshelf for music books and sheet music next to the 'piano'. Oldest kid has said she's decided piano is her thing rather than the drum kit in the basement. It's true that she often sits down and works on a tough piece (still Clair de Lune, swoon) or runs through something she knows through and through. No complaints here. Shortstuff was playing her trombone for me last night and I was videoing and giggling.


Friday, August 28, 2015

Nine days later

Blinking slowly but glad to be here. We've had my busiest two weeks at work, the girls' start of school, one virus, one bout of unmentionable and we're still standing!

All kids in school today. Three of the four of us have been treated for the unmentionable. Kat is over her fever and stomach ache. She'll get her dose tomorrow.

I mostly enjoyed the avalanche that is our start to the semester work pile. My wrists got tired from all the mousing and typing. I was so glad to go swimming last weekend. Great to get a complete rest for my hands and wrists. Still sorting through some first weeks issues but it seems that the calls and emails are calming down.

Swimming was at the nekkid lake with two women friends that Nod dances with on Sundays. I hadn't met Ari but she was just as good an egg as advertised. We all had a good time in the warm sun and cool water. Nod was telling me about his time at metaphysical dance last week. It is more of his radical self acceptance work. I am so proud of him that he can unpeel old layers of shame and hurt and let go of some of that. Gen told us about the dance for universal peace events that she goes to once a month. I agreed with Nod that from the name they sound oppressively sincere. But the description sounds pleasant, more moving meditation. I like dancing, I have put it on my calendar to think about.

Whoa, cool! moment of the week:  invention that pulls carbon from the air and makes nano fibers.




Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Charge and Depletion

Are we excited about the first day of school? Yes we are! Are we already tired? Yes we are! Middle school is where my kiddos are at, starting in fifteen minutes when the 8th graders are welcomes for their delayed start. Nod was bombasting last night about what a waste of everyone's time this teeny short first day was. I asked him if he remembered what the first day of middle school was like. There is a lot of random motion and getting lost and being confused in my memory. I have no problem with a first day for learning the ropes and then on to teaching and learning. Wonder about that 6th grade chorus I heard rumors of...

Very low temps here today (low 70s) and tonight (low 50s) for August. It'll bob back up for the rest of the week but this is what I expect a month from now.

Books and tea happened on Sunday! I had four ladies which with me makes 5 which is definitely a quorum. I am planning to write up my notes and send out a follow up email with our various recommendations. Camellia suggested a couple of possible alterna-book-group ideas. 1) Second Hand Book Group. Everyone brings something they enjoyed reading and we all pass to the right. The new reader reports back at the next meeting. 2) Theme Reading. Pick a genre, location or theme and everyone picks a book and reads it, then we all tell what we read and how it fits the theme at next meeting. Definitely deserves some thought. I like that one very much and it uses how we've been meeting, talking about what we're reading and what we want to read. My stress about planning this and what if no one comes has been proved wrong.

Finished Un Lun Dun by China Mieville, recommended by Arik. I thought it was a bit forced. Thought the insistence on the Unchosen One was too much and the Extreme Shopping joke was actually made unfunny by repetition. I am basically confirmed in my belief that CM is not for me but I suppose I should try The City and The City to be sure.




Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Warp and weft

Oldest child sent via Southwest's hands-off care to grandma in ABQ. She assisted Granny in getting an iphone yesterday and I got some texts later so progress is being made. I know my mother is not liking the smart phone learning curve but K is a good coach, if a little impatient. K will have a private aerial silks lesson at the local circus school today. I look forward to hearing about it tonight.

MIL went to a wedding in north Texas and asked if we'd mind if she just kept driving to our door. She's setting off again today. I asked if she wanted to stay another day and was brushed off. She took Bun out for a whirlwind day yesterday. Shopping and lunch and Shaun the Sheep. I'd heard the movie was getting good reviews and knew Bun wanted to see it. Sorta forgot that Elaine is functionally deaf and movies are hard for her without closed captioning. Except that this movie has no dialogue! So they both enjoyed it. E was saying it reminded her of Wales.

Two weeks ago we had rain overnight (lots of that this summer). The next morning I left for work at the usual time. Half an hour later my husband texted me a photo of our old car, parked on the street and suddenly surrounded by a tree. It had split and fallen around our old Subaru. Nod gave the neighbor the key since he was waiting for the city crew to clear tree out of the street. Later we looked at the damage which was relatively minor: cracked car top carrier and dents on the roof. That combined with the presence of a shiny Mercury Mariner on a used car lot got Nod in gear. He shopped for loan rates, got a loan lined up and traded that poor tapped-out old Suby in for our new friend, Seattle.

Early this past Saturday morning we heard backing beeps and eventually there were three work vans for a satellite tv provider. They put up a post and now we have an addition to the north view from our house. Pfft.


A full day of housework on Sunday to make all ready for MIL's arrival. I wanted to feel a glow of satisfaction as I looked around at the great improvements that had been made. But all I felt was resentment. Dammit! Why can't I enjoy any large scale picking up and cleaning?! Maybe I need to train myself very consciously with treats. Grrrrr.

Kat gets in at 2 on Saturday. It'll be good to collect her. School starts a week from tomorrow.



Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Raining

I carried my umbrella hopefully all day yesterday and finally the rain started before I left work.

Yoga in the rain yesterday evening. Not outside in the rain but inside the great room with rain softly ticking on the skylights. Ahh. It was a session of gentle yoga and made me happy. I didn't have to feel competitive or overworked. I quit one position when my hands started to fall asleep. Otherwise I enjoyed the breathing and the succulent mottoes attributed to our chakras. I am the center of beauty. I am a fantastic hotbed of creativity and pleasure. I appreciated when our instructor let us fill in the blank silently for what the crown chakra says. Mine said I shine. and Release is my gift. I had just been thinking the day before that it would be good to wake up my muscles with some sort of pre-exercise.  

Reading Susan Cooper's King of Shadows. I can't remember if I've read The Dark is Rising series or not. Clearly I ought to. I don't like the paperback's cover art. I think this will get me through the week and then I'd like to be served some more compelling fiction. Don't be shy, bring it right here. 

We went to a friend's house last Friday and picked over her many bins of books that she was selling at the next day's garage sale. We came home with a small bin ourselves. Paper paper paper joy. I told her my dad's trick for selling books at a garage sale. You make a stack of 3 or 4 paperbacks with the most salacious one on the top and rubber band them together. $0.50 a stack and they move pretty well. 



Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Garden plot

Beets! I cooked a pound and a half of them last night. They were from our farm share from about a month ago. They had been sitting in a ziplock in the fridge so long Nod asked if he could throw them out. I said no. Hell, they're roots, they ought to last a good long time. So glad to have them cooked, they smelled wonderful in the pan and tasted great. I think a few were actually salad turnips but they boiled just fine with the beets. I am the only beet eater in the family. Kat told me that I am a fan of the less common vegetables. There are still unknown frontiers in my future: cardoons, celeriac, fennel, etc.

Thank goodness for roots. I had to do a general purge of veg things that were squishy last weekend. I haven't yet been out to the garden to see if we have any small whales of yellow squash lurking  I have potatoes and a couple of farm zukes so I will need to make potato/veggie fritters. The recipe is in my favorite pancake class of foods.

I made banana pancakes to use the swarthy bananas. I modified this recipe to use more banana and less egg. But here's a paleo no flour option that I might try to use up the 1.5 bananas in my freezer. Nod eats banana bread and banana muffins but discovered that banana pancakes were just too banana-y for him. The girls and I took care of them.

Our corn patch is past its prime. I tried a just-picked ear but the kernels were big and starchy. Then I tried an ear that Nod had picked while I was out of town. Same story, sigh. Such deliciousness for a such a brief time. On a hopeful note, there are cherry tomatoes coming in. Need to go whisper encouraging things to them.

Work has many things to do. I am remembering my mantra: Don't take it personally. Have submitted my travel receipts. Have scrounged up the contact info I forgot to get while at the conference. Have had a first meeting to share out the work of testing on an upcoming Sunday morning. Am looking at job openings again just to keep it in mind. A friend found a job with a start up recently and it does make one think.




Tuesday, July 28, 2015

For the birds

Birding moments in DC: watching an osprey dive into the Potomac. Didn't come up with anything but I got to watch the bird fly and shake the water off its feathers simultaneously. I haven't ever seen that trick before. I read later that sometimes bald eagles in the area rob ospreys of their fish. Also saw some ravens at a distance. I'm glad to know there are ravens in our nation's capital.

Birding moment at home: green hummingbird checking out the rose of sharon bush. Rejected. Wish we had a trumpet vine for them.

The ugly plants in the front have large collections of tiny pale pink/purple flowers that the bumble bees and butterflies like. I'm glad I didn't pull them up by the roots in the spring. I removed a bunch of burr weeds and cut down a lot of goldenrod in the back. It looks much better and less sneezy back there. Mowing the back yard on Saturday and the front yard on Sunday knocked me out. Would like to build up the stamina again. Five days in a hotel made me want to exercise but heat advisory temps make me want to not. It's supposed to break tonight.

That reminds me that yoga is tonight. Everything happens on Tuesday: music lessons for both girls this morning. An intro lesson from the voice teacher for Bun at noon thirty. A tryout circus class for Bun this evening, Kat's circus lesson. Yoga. Kaboom.





Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Simmery

Morning thunderstorm, the sky was getting darker as I was driving to work. On Monday Kat played softball and we expected to roast. We had a heat advisory, hot and humid, but enormous clouds were drifting around as well. Play was stopped due to lightning, then restarted in light rain, then called off when the storm line continued right over the field. Bun's last game is tonight and then Freedom! from softball schedules at least.

Conference next week in DC which will be a refreshing shot of hot and humid. I am slightly disappointed that we are in a luxury resort down the river away from Capitol Hill and museums and touristy stuff. We may be able to get over to Alexandria and kick up our heels if we have time. Otherwise I'll just have to put up with the luxury.

Quite tired of discussions with my spouse and parent about whether Kat will go to ABQ this summer. As part of the long list of alternatives we thought about sending both girls. But Bun says she doesn't want to travel without parents so she's out of the picture. Both spouse and parent want me to explain the other's reasoning to them. I can't do that.

Kat will perform with her circus school at the renaissance fest this fall. Four weekends, we don't have to drive her, we get family passes for one weekend. I wonder what else will be going on in Sept and Oct that will conflict that I can't foresee right now. ABQ Balloon Fiesta is one.

Wonder when I'll be able to get the front mowed. Would my softball nickname be Sensible Shoes? I do still like to play sometimes, not just mow the lawn and cook vegetables. Had a great afternoon at the Tonganoxie city pool. Threw the pool football with the girls until my arm hurt. Somehow I am very brown, tanner than Kat.




Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Timing

A glimpse of our favorite monument in Morehead City, North Carolina, a bust of Captain James "Woo Woo" Benjamin Harker IV:

Woo Woo Ha...
Nod said the attribution should read 'perpetrated by' instead of 'sculpted by'. It's my favorite southern nickname to date. Here's a page with the captain's angling strategy when going after red snapper: Captains' Confidential.

I watched a national news story about shark attacks in the Carolinas last week and saw that there were attack dates before we visited and attack dates after we visited. But we hit the coast just as the sharks took a one week vacation, thanks be to Fortuna. Global warming, presence of sea turtle hatchlings, bait fish running very close to shore, and lunar cycles were all offered as possible contributors to the presence of so many sharks in close at swimming beaches. That link also mentions that low rainfall means the seawater is extra salty right now and sharks like that condition as well.

Our eco-tour guide said that he'd been sent to count sharks after beaches were closed in the 80s due to attacks. He went up in a helicopter and counted sharks. After a couple of days he concluded, yep, there's lots of sharks in the ocean and it's not possible to tell when they will come in to a beach. They re-opened the beachs at that time and didn't have any more trouble during the season. Right now the National Parks Service is recommending caution at barrier island beaches.

One kid is lice free. The other kid had just one nit the last check. I will comb again tonight. Sleepovers are beckoning, but can only be resumed when the all-clear is sounded. I also need to call our NC hosts and be humble and warn them. I've been putting that off for a few days.




Monday, July 6, 2015

Extended weekending

I took Nod out for pity coffee on Friday morning in the rain. He had to work and I didn't, thus the pity. It cleared after the wet gray morning and he got done by a reasonable hour so the day ended well. Nod recently had a doctor's exam for an unrelated matter which discovered a small hernia. He's been walking around like a cat with its fur fluffed up. I think it's touched a mortality nerve. Can't blame him. He's going to schedule a consultation and find out if surgery comes sooner or later.

Fam all played pictionary on Friday night and it was a hoot. We use our Apples to Apples cards for prompts and everyone is allowed to reject a card if it's too abstract. Nod's cross-section drawing of the hallway beneath an attic with pulldown ladder and boxes, etc. was fascinating but utterly unguessable. Fire escape? Battleship? City skyline?

Went to see Inside Out with Bun on the 4th. The other half of the family couldn't be tempted. We had a good time with our outing but I am still trying to decide how to describe the movie. Good but not exactly Fun is what I'm coming to. It was thought provoking and touching but not quite the sno-cone I was hoping for. Which is fine. It's the family movie that earnest Berkeley parents will love. Favorite bits: Bing Bong's cotton candy torso and the marble sound effects for the memories.

Fireworks watching on the levee was fabulous. Our friends were in the designated spot first and we all sat just beyond the CAUTION tape. Luxury conditions: it wasn't too hot and we had enough bug repellent. Camellia introduced us all to the fireworks name game in which you think of poetic and silly names for each color/shape combo. Cherry Snowball was my contribution. Nod brought 80 glow sticks and between the seven of us we used most of them to general delight. After the show Gen and Molly strung all the leftovers onto Camellia's bicycle so she was more colorful and visible. I may need to buy her a bike light. The finale was super amazing and I was commenting about how the fireworks crew has gotten better and better at their job during my eleven years in this town. Then two more shells went up, bang, pow. Guess they missed them earlier and didn't want any leftovers. Continuous improvement!

He and I got out to the skinny dip pond yesterday afternoon. It was sunny and still a bit cool in the water. You can tell that we haven't had any triple digit highs yet. Too many kids and two too many dogs for my preference. Not a peak experience. Am I getting jaded? Rescuing a beach ball from the cattails was my favorite bit.



Thursday, July 2, 2015

Righting the boat

Bobbing up and back on a more even keel. There was no bathroom crying yesterday. I made the decision not to make any progress with my tasks tracking updates. And I am not feeling the same existential dread. As with most things in the workplace, it's not personal.

Glad we bought that batting helmet. I found more nits in Bun's hair yesterday.  May do the olive oil treatment tomorrow. As with other caretaking chores, it's like having a time-consuming hobby that isn't very fun. I have to admit that my primate grooming drive is satisfied when I get through. But I would feel more satisfied all 'round if I found fewer bugs rather than more. Grrrrrr. No sleepovers this week.

The girls are chicken sitting for the neighbors who are gone to NC sandhills for a week. I'm going to give the chicks our terrible watermelon and buy a new one. Please, o watermelon god, direct me to a good dense sweet one. Gotta have it for 7/4. I wonder what offering would propitiate a melon god...

We'll be on the levee to watch the city fireworks show on Saturday.

Bun's sunflower that she started from seed in elementary school Garden Club is blooming. Hello, summer. Nod and I may try to go skinnydipping this weekend.



Just realized that a French translation of Spontaneous Tomato is La tomate spontané. This is making me smile.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Horizons

New way of working has been proposed for our team. It involves using calendar and notes software to track projects and tasks. My subconscious finds it very threatening judging from the time I spent crying in the restroom yesterday. I also was crying about not getting the youngest to her softball game on time. Not sure if that was just because the pump was primed or if my amygdala considers it of equal weight.

Instead of feeling broken and like I'm doing something wrong at work I decided to try and imagine my dream job. It includes a hefty amount of reading. Some puzzle solving must be present, in the form of customer service is fine. A workplace with some bustle is preferred, not too quiet. Pleasant routines plus 40% variable would be ideal. Include some proof reading and writing for internal consumption. Working for a group with broadly altruistic aims is best.

Quick glance at local offerings does not give me reason to work up the resume. Yet.

The softball game was execrable and our kids couldn't pick up a grounder to save their lives. Went home and got out the sun lamp so I could check heads. Headlice confirmed last Friday night. One nit found on each kid last night. I'll keep at it daily and we should be able to get past this itchy unpleasantness.




Monday, June 29, 2015

Sand and surf

Was waiting for picture downloads but that's not the way to run a railroad. First beach outing at Atlantic Beach. There were rollers and dophins and it was so delightful. Went in the salt water almost every day. Wildlife of wonderful variety: fish, wild horses, pelicans, crabs (ghost, fiddler, hermit, horseshoe), shore birds, sea turtles! Our friends in Chapel Hill were generous with time and directions and recommendations too. I had the ne plus ultra of biscuits and gravy on our last morning at the shore. I don't think I will ever need to eat that again, going out on a high note.

Went out on Friday evening for local arts festival plus final Friday gallery crawl. My side of town was out and there was art and music and sno cones for all. Local efforts to create an "art corridor" are stirring up resistance to gentrification. I think I'm on the side of putting money into the arts. I understand that benign neglect can be a wonderful thing for art. Creating a balance of real estate conditions sounds impossible. We're on an upswing for now. I did like the Trojan horse poster design and snappy lawn signs.

In addition the whole town seemed to be in a happy whirl over Same Sex Marriage decision. I did see one evangelical church sign with sour grapes yesterday but it was a happy rainbow weekend for the rest of us.




Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Beachward

Getting our lists checked off to be ready to go out of town. Working hard to concentrate on work things while at work. But vacation focus is growing. The double shark attack story at a NC beach last Sunday was hard for me to read about. We'll be looking for local safety info wherever we go.

Watched The Imitation Game with Kat on Friday night. Her sister was at a sleepover and Nod was socializing in the big city. He's been very social lately, I am feeling a bit put out. Discussions to come. We liked the movie, Kat cried. I am glad that Turing's story is getting more recognition. I wonder how many people were actually involved in keeping the secret that Enigma was cracked. It seems like it must have been more than just the core code breakers and one guy from MI-6 but then again the fewer the better. I think the movie was 15% too squishy, the third repetition of 'the people you don't imagine anything of' bit was too many for me. The kid sequences were well done. I appreciated that the film acknowledged this was a difficult rather than a likeable person. To remember for a future me/Kat movie night: Only Lovers Left Alive. She's asked about watching Orange is the New Black and we're vetoing as inappropriate for the moment. I have just requested season 1 from the library.

During a recent family book discussion I banned Watership Down from the house. It seems I still harbor a grudge. I told Kat she can read it but I don't want to see it. She shouldn't read it, she has the same vulnerability to animal avatars as I do, if not more so.

Mr. Money Mustache is a ridiculous name and has plenty to read about choosing how you spend your time and money to live a good life. Some of his assumptions and values are not mine but there is overlap and I am intrigued. One of his bugaboos is commuting and he highly recommends moving to be close to your work. Downside: a large amount of bootstrap bragging and privilege ignoring.



Friday, June 12, 2015

Alices

Must link to Anthony Lane's musing on Alice and a new book about that very important book. It sounds like well-balanced stuff. I look forward to reading this Oxford don's writing about that Oxford don. Here's a link to the book itself.

(I like that Goodreads includes a link to the shopping sites but isn't overrun by them. It's sort of charming that their distracting side ads are all for other books!)


I've started wearing my sweatshirt with the Punk Alice on it again this spring. In the '80s my mother and I found a thrift store t shirt that was too small to wear but too delicious to pass up:

The caption:  The punk Alice intimidates the Flamingo with her fashion sense.
There's a tag from the neck that reads: "machine wash and dry your silk screen t-shirt, clean your room and don't stay out past eleven without calling." She sewed the Alice onto something that would actually fit.

I stopped wearing it for a while because it's pretty shapeless and the arms are too short. But I found it again during our long cool spring. Still like the turquoise and love the Punk Alice. I cut the cuffs and plan to pretend it was always 3/4 sleeved. I'm not afraid of shapeless at the moment.

I have been doing planks and arm things this week, alternating pushups one day and triceps dips the next. Last weekend's pool outing felt so good it made me want to find my middle again. I have visible biceps but the bingo wings are threatening. Definitely time to work the triceps.

Bun and her dad did some softball catch last night that resulted in Bun's fat lip. Poor kiddo. It's not as big today but still a few days from done. She was in right field for all of the last two games and I got righteously indignant about the girls not being rotated for fielding. I spoke with the coach about it and said that I'd like to see some change. He asserted that they *were* rotating positions and then offered that he wouldn't want girls stuck where they couldn't be successful. Harrumph. It sounded as though we were in agreement at the end. I was in dudgeon afterwards although glad that I had spoken my piece.



Monday, June 8, 2015

Green revolution

Not furloughed. The legislators passed an emergency bill on Saturday that made every state employee 'essential' so nobody could be furloughed in the new fiscal year which starts today. So we're all here, hoping to be paid. It sounds as though a budget may be passed today. As my husband said, I'm tired of KS being a laughingstock.

Did I say ten days? Ha! A tiny bunny with its little beady eye was in the grass when I tried to mow the side of our yard yesterday. I just did the upper part and then went and spied on the two bunlets I could see in the shady grass.

I buried a second mole and feel a need to keep the cat in. In addition, a young robin got stuck in a window well and squawked all day on Saturday. I don't know if the cat knocked it in or not but she was seen in the vicinity. I couldn't take the squawking anymore and lifted the robin out with a dustpan. I deposited it over the fence and told it to go with God. Nod told the youngest to research cat scrunchies because we clearly need some.

Complicated plans this weekend did not finish me off but it was a brisk fight at some points. Got through some conflict management and made an excellent frittata. Reminders: 1. A frittata needs to have a hot pan when the eggs go in because otherwise the broiler just cooks the top level and the rest is liquidy. I hated the world by the time the eggs were set but it was delicious. 2. don't start cooking a frittata when already very hungry.

Vast quantities of greens are assembling in our fridge. Grocery store, garden, friend's gardens and farm share have all resulted in many bundles of lettuce and greens staring at me from the shelves and drawers of the fridge. That was part of the reason for my frittata crisis. I had to use up that chard!



Thursday, June 4, 2015

Popping up

My oldest kid recently asked what causes the jet stream. I posited that the rotation of the earth had something to do with it but couldn't throw any hard facts out. We experience the jet stream as an obvious force as we watch storm clouds going past us west to east. Here is a page from the NOAA National Weather Service that has great explanations and diagrams. Turns out that the rotation of the earth is involved although that force interacts with the air flow between the warm equator and the cold poles.

Tired of rain. Wish I could get the back mowed.

Bunny eyes open on the tenth day which is today or tomorrow I think. I hope to see the littles out and about in another ten days.

Neighborhood bakery is opening for beta testing this Fri and Sat. Nod says this development could keep him in town for a few more years.

Kat has busy schedule, went to sleepover last night. We insisted it be delayed until grandma left. She will catch a ride home with another sleepover-er. Host parents are a pastor and a middle school teacher. This is the teacher who dyed Kat's hair red and orange for her phoenix performance. Which was masterful by the way. It was fluid and assured and more complicated than December's. We were all really impressed down here.

The moonflower in the front has opened its first bloom. I've been pulling up moonflower sprouts from last year's seeds. There are three big plants in front and that is enough. Our cilantro is ready for picking and the thyme is doing okay.


Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Looking up

Spouse and I both wrangling with some depression. We talked last night and I said I was fantasizing about a new job with less stress. We agreed to the universal truth that sometimes a job brings satisfaction and sometimes it's just for the paycheck. Sounds like adulthood, etc. I have been reassured this week that my position is secure* and my presentation skills are above average even though that part gives me the pip. [*Or as secure as any of our state jobs are with a budget unfinished and furlough plans being drawn.] I guess I'll keep trying to meet the challenges. But I may look for something more specialized. Hope Nod can find a path out of his funk. Clear skies would help but there's no controlling that.

MIL got on the road early this morning to get to the airport. Nod refused to accept his dad's Navy working whites that she had kept and wanted him to have. I would have accepted them and trashed them later but that is not his way. They are a pair of hard headed sentimentalists. She got out to see her cousin in Missouri and brought us news of them. I hope we get out there this summer.

My mother has just emailed me that perhaps the kids should not come visit this summer. She thinks I am pandering to my husband's paranoia about putting both kids on a plane by agreeing to drive out and back. I thought about forwarding this email to my husband but I don't think that would achieve any of my goals. Still considering.

Beautiful full moon rising over the house last night. Oldest daughter called us out into the dark street to see. Wonderful pearl.

Youngest has been trying brass for two days: trombone, trumpet and (French) horn. She says the trombone is heavy but she can make the most noises with it. Doesn't sound like love. Low strings start today (bass and cello).

There was lots of activity on the small animal front yesterday. I got the front mowed which is a relief. Disturbed the bunny nest, saw one trying to hide in the tall grass. Scooped it up and pushed it at the entrance hole, it scooted back in. I am glad I was able to put it back. They have fur now but eyes are not yet open. The neighbors got three chicks and an enormous coop. They are cute and peeping as required. Zing killed a mole yesterday and spent much time flinging it around on the back porch.



Friday, May 29, 2015

Shoulder block from the ginger cream

First time experience this morning. While leaning over to get cat food out of the bucket, my head collided with the cat who was leaping up to her eating spot on the counter. It was a solid shoulder shot against my skull. Cat made her landing just fine, just looked a little surprised. My response was "Ow! Dammit!"

Hate to lose that bunting pic, I may have to put it in the header.

MIL arrives this afternoon, she's swooping in to catch the circus arts spectacular tomorrow night. I'm glad she'll get her visit in and get to spend time with the kids. No chance for a big clean so I'm not going to even worry about it. Last minute has consequences.

I seem to be in an intense logistics chapter of my life. Bun starts her music class next week and will ride the city bus home by herself. We'll do a dry run this weekend (when?!). Grandma arrives this afternoon. Dress rehearsal for circus tonight. Final Friday art opening downtown for the rest of us. Softball practice tomorrow morning for both kids at 10 at different parks. Pet sitter confirmed for mid-June!  Need to decide if I'm going to pay for the annual parking pass at work (probably). Presents for bday party the girls are going to on Monday afternoon.



Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Bunnies everywhere

Learning more about wild rabbit habits. Yesterday evening the next door neighbor saw a rabbit in our shared corn patch and chased it over towards our yard. Then he saw three more adult rabbits and found one of them on a nest of newborn kits. He said he felt like he'd chased the scout back right into enemy territory.

That would be a third nest site. It is further from our front door and hard to spot in the grass so I'm awarding improvement points for that to Mama Bunny. We went over to peek at the squirmy hairless gray critters. According to the rabbitmatters page the kits will be independent in 30 days. I'll have to mow carefully for the next couple of weeks at least. Listened to rain in the night and had to be stern with myself. Wild rodents everywhere seem to get by without me setting up tiny tents for them in rainy weather.

Long weekend with only a few work thoughts. Mopped up two matters hanging from Friday first thing this morning. I feel lighter and happy that I did not have to login for work over the holiday. Lots of rain but it held off for most of Saturday so we got more done than if it had bucketed all day.

Score for the weekend:
One yard mowed
Two softball practices attended
Two softball practices missed
One really jolly party in the rain Saturday night
Two wins/two losses/one bellyflop for the Royals
One beesting
One pizza and pinball outing

I've finished skimming the bio of Billy Wilder that I started after watching Sabrina (1954) on tv one weekend. I made a list as I went through of all the films I wanted to see. Midnight (1939) was very charming in the first third, pretty charming in the second third and the last bit in the courtroom lost me. Easy Living (1937) is as funny as my friend Tim told me in 2000. Next on the list: Five Graves to Cairo, Ball of Fire and Sunset Blvd.

Two softball games every week for the next month or two.


Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Indigo Glory

Hippy bird day to me! Presentations done. My wonderful co presenter worked the room like a champ and gave me nice feedback. At least my stress makes me work on things now, not just dread them. There, Life, I have learned that lesson at least. 

Today we have a high of 58 and it's drizzly. The car wouldn't start this morning so I drove the backup jalopy. This birthday has been rescheduled for the long weekend when it may rain but the temps should all start with a 6 or better. Wonder if it's the starter or the alternator.

Saw an Indigo Bunting on Sunday, waiting for his close-up on top of a pine tree. I had no camera so will paste in this image from the Birds of St. Charles, Missouri site.
Indigo Bunting

The word indigo also brings to mind the late twilight sky last weekend when Venus and Jupiter were shining so beautifully in the western sky.

Dumb bunny came back and dug a second burrow about 30 inches from the first one. I am braced for further bad bunny parenting.





Monday, May 18, 2015

Progress

Irises have peaked on campus. Mulberries sighted on the trail by 13th St. White and unripe but plenty of them. Baby birds are peeping vigorously next door. A bunny dug a burrow eight feet from our front door, smack in the middle of the lawn. But I haven't seen it since that day so maybe it was just a practice burrow.

I spent the weekend managing my presentation stress. Practiced what I'm going to say on Saturday with Kat as audience. She was helpful and encouraging. After I was done, tears. I am not happy that my job makes me feel so vulnerable I cry. Practiced again on Sunday. Have more done today including a handout. Feel more able to show what I need to show. Very grateful that my co-presenter finished a good powerpoint doc, turned out a cute pamphlet and is carrying most of the load.

Nod got back after being at a retreat all weekend. This was a class with his shamanic teacher. The sessions he's done with her seem to affect him like concentrated counseling. He doesn't go every week he just goes for a weekend every six months or so. Came home looking exhausted and said that progress was made.