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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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

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.

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.

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:

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.

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!

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!

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


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


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.