Monday, November 20, 2017

Holiday Penumbra

Distracted much
We're not all here. I'm mostly playing at working. A big holiday is almost here so we're marking time until we skip off thataway. I'm taking off Wednesday as well to try and get most of the feast prep done ahead of time. And be with the girls who are out of school after Tuesday.

Toil
I made good progress on housework over the weekend. I faced the inevitable realization that more cooking only leads to more cleaning. I made delicious cider caramels without a candy thermometer. I have more cider. I wonder if I can do it again or if it was beginner's luck. The caramels are cut up and wrapped in wax paper. They're in the fridge labeled "Do Not Eat".

I'm planning to get the kids to help with the room/table prep including washing china and silver. I'd like to get lots of the dishes cooked ahead of time. Feast of leftovers! is a rallying cry I can get behind. The bird should be roasted on the day to get the crisp golden skin. I'm still thinking of cutting it all up and roasting it flat as recommended by Jacques Pepin among others. Maybe I'll spatchcock again.   

Bwah
I sampled comics again on Netflix and have my judgement to share. Iliza is talking to people at least fifteen years younger than I am. And she's coming from sort of a sorority sister angle. I liked her but I didn't finish the set. I only watched a few minutes of Judah Friedlander's America is the Greatest... His delivery is lots of jokes, real fast. I would save that for a short attention span moment. My bestest new talent discovery is Christina P. I loved Mother Inferior and need to look for her earlier stuff. Vicious and beautiful and smartypants.

Pages
I haven't made much headway with Middlemarch but I'll keep chipping away at it. Seems like a good winter project. In lighter fare I can heartily recommend both this fairy 'tec novel from Seannan McGuire: The Brightest Fell and Catherine Schine's The New Yorkers. Oh C. Schine, you and your light touch, comedy-of-manners, family novel ways. I have Alice in Bed now too so ol' G. Eliot will have to wait. Actually I picked up three or four other novels at the library yesterday. Because I do like a pile of books. After the cooking mania of the next few days I will swan dive into them.





Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Fall and all

Am trying another run at Middlemarch. I have to admit that sentences like this one slow me down:
"Has any one ever pinched into its pilulous smallness the cobweb of pre-matrimonial acquaintanceship?" Something about how misunderstandings help romantic attachment, I think.

The Thirteenth Tale is turning out to be some good gothic fun. It's quite meta, a bookstore researcher is asked to be the biographer for a dying novelist. Swimming in literary references direct and oblique. Other meta books I've enjoyed:  The Storied Life of AJ Fikry and The Three Weissmanns of Westport . I know there's at least another book for this category but it's escaping me.

Justin Verlander pitched for the Astro's win in the World Series. And he earned his keep with such excellent pitching. Two days after the winning game he got married to actress/model Kate Upton in Italy. Which all seems to make for some serious hubris that the gods might be winding up to strike this marriage down. But on the side of good luck their bridesmaids' dresses were seriously pinkugly. To the happy couple!

Jackolanterns are sulking in the compost heap. A few uncarved squashes remain to decorate our front step. It seems to be November all of a sudden. I have been ready to fall asleep at 9:30 every night after the time change. But I have yet to feel the hate in my heart that time changes used to bring me. Maybe the vitamin D helps. That and the kids who get themselves up in the morning.


----------

I have a feeling that I have posted six previous recipes for cooking black beans in the slow cooker. But I can't find any of them with a perfunctory search and that means that they may as well be lost for all time. Here's my latest attempt that has great flavor but needed extra cooking time.

Start with a bag of dry black beans. Pick them over, remove stones and broken beans. Rinse and soak in plenty of water overnight. Drain the beans. Turn on slow cooker and add a good glug of olive oil, a quartered onion, two peeled and flattened garlic cloves, a carrot in large chunks, a stalk of celery and some extra celery leaves, a bay leaf, a jalapeno and a bell pepper (both seeded), and at least part of a 14.5 oz. can of tomatoes with the juice (I only had half a can). Add beans and six cups of hot water. Cover and cook on medium heat for 4-5 hours. I cooked on 2 and my beans were not done at all when I got home. I put the pot on the stovetop and boiled them beans for an hour until soft. Add salt to taste (I added 3/4 t of table salt). Add lime juice if you have a lime (I did not - sob).

There. As I get older perhaps I will post my bean recipes with increasing frequency until one day every new post will be nothing but beans.




Friday, November 3, 2017

Turning of the year

Calming
The cat's scabs are fewer and I think she's going to outlive the awful itchiness of 2017. I had some serious doubts there for a while. I'm not a big fan of Sc1ence D1et but will give my testimonial for Sensitive Stomach & Skin dry food. I think it saved Zing's bacon. 

Laughing
It was a treat to watch Mike Birbiglia's most recent standup things last weekend: My Girlfriend's Boyfriend and Thank God for Jokes. I laughed a lot and recommend them both. Am looking forward to Patton Oswalt's Annihilation. I had been saving it for a time I could watch with Nod but he said he thought PO's last one seemed like a sermon so I guess I'll watch this one solo. I understand the feeling. There are certainly some dangerously sincere pieces of art that have left me feeling full of good intentions but neither enlightened nor entertained. (Peter's Friends and Grand Canyon come to mind. Oh and Fry's Wilde, such a disappointing script, it was a part he was born to play.)

The Good Place continues to delight. I think it's on hiatus until January supposedly because of football scheduling but perhaps to make it a scarce commodity? Goodbye, Derek!

Baking
I made soda bread last night and it's always good. Nice to be able to have the oven on and not sweatily reget it later. 

Toiling
I'm having to reinstate the chores after an outage in favor of schoolwork. Both are mostly caught up for the moment so it's time to share out the grubby jobs rather than having them all fall to me. 

Darkening 
I found it quite dark when I got home yesterday at 5:20. I lit candles and turned up more lights and the heat. Of course we'll get another hour of daylight for a while when we switch clocks on Sunday. When I'm tempted to complain I think of our folks in Wales who see the dark come in about 3:30 in the afternoon. Shiver!


Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Snow is on the...

Punkin
Sit down kids and submit to a seasonal poem! I'll lock all the doors and belt out these four stanzas before they know what hit 'em.

When the Frost is on the Punkin by James Whitcomb Riley

I thought of it yesterday because it started to snow as I left work. Early for us but not outlandishly so. The temps were in the high 30s so nothing stuck but it was a novelty, first flakes to fly this autumn.

The Queen of Hearts and Margot Tennenbaum had a good time at their respective teen get togethers. K said she was lauded by her Wes Anderson loving nerds but then visited a more norm/jock group who had no idea who she was supposed to be. L didn't trick or treat at all I am a little sad. I thought I was sad for her but maybe am sad for myself. I'm having to do some conscious remembering that L's 8th grade experiences are not my own despite the invocation.

I enjoyed handing out the sweets chez nous. It's like a parade that comes and rings your doorbell! Our dog enjoyed all the visits too. The dog-kids connection was strong. The only trouble was getting Snickers back inside after each door opening.

My favorite costume was a girl who had a hoop contraption with rainbow sprinkles and a cherry on her head. My guess was wrong (ice cream sundae) but she said, "Close! I'm a cupcake!"

NaNoHeckO
I enjoyed Max Gladstone's twitter thread about writing a novel or growing a mustache in one month. Very encouraging and focusing on all the ways to use this to productively spark your creativity and not be dismayed at failing to meet arbitrary volume or time deadlines.





For my own November creations I am finishing my 2-D paper hermit crab and adorning our dining room wall with it. More paper creatures may follow. This is the crab idea I had for a Halloween costume two years ago. I haven't ever made it to the 3-D stage but I am closer than I have ever been to 2-D accomplishment! Cutting out legs and antennae tonight.





Friday, October 27, 2017

Spoopygood

Happy day
Seriously it is worth a scroll through twitter's black cat day offerings. Such excellent ebony cat frens. A good day to remember the heft of Jimbo and his bus engine purr. Best boy.

Our ginger cat is still scratching but I think we're at a better plateau. I've just cut out the wet food and have almost completely transitioned to the sensitive skin dry. Clearly the next step will be witchcraft.

Local wastes of space
Cars keyed and pumpkins stolen on my street this week. We woke up to three fewer pumpkins on our stoop this morning. Sounds like crummy teen boys to me. I assume their attentions will wander on to other targets soon. I guess I'm glad we hadn't carved our jack o'lanterns yet. Spouse and I are agreed we're going back to the farm and getting more pumpkins - mwa! ha! ha! Okay it's not revenge exactly but the farm's pumpkins are marked down and we want some to carve.

Bibbity Bobbity
8th grader is working on her Queen of Hearts costume. Not the murderous AIW character, to my sorrow, but a more pack of cards character. I'm making her a crown because she was threatening to buy a plastic one and that sticks in my craw. 10th grader wants to do a duo costume with her friend but doesn't have an idea yet. Nod was offering Casablanca or Star Trek og ideas but that won't work. I have half a hermit crab shell but it needs ironing. Maybe I'll feel inspired tonight. I'm thinking I may use chalk on it -- it doesn't have to last long anyway.





Monday, October 23, 2017

Peril

Great galloping cats
Chaos and the unknown predominate in our cat care at the moment. Zing scratched bloody spots in her neck. I temporarily made her wear a cat shirt to cover the worst spots. (Very proud of my improvised catwear - shoulder and sleeve of a 4 year old's shirt with holes cut for front legs.) This worked, the worst spots have healed now but she is still scratching and making scabs on her neck and head. I switched her cat litter over the summer, so I've switched it back. I started feeding her wet cat food over the summer and tried to switch her to a non grain dry food. I'm still giving her wet food but only bird-based (chicken and turkey) because I read that fish/dairy/beef are the most common cat food allergies. I'm moving her to a sensitive skin dry food. If she doesn't stop scratching herself bloody her days are numbered because I'm not going down the allergy testing road with another animal. I just can't. She's been discontent, so much scratching, I hope the dry food helps.

Wellness otherwise
Youngest had a fever over the weekend and has a terrible sore throat right now. I tasked Nod with taking her to the drop-in clinic for strep test but am unsure whether he will follow through. I will take her at 7:30 tomorrow if I have to. I started a sympathy sore throat last night but slept fine and it's gone now so that's good. The rest of us are okay but I guess I'm waiting for the next crisis.

Movie night
I went to see a free showing of Get Out at a local bar with a friend last Wednesday. It felt like such an accomplishment -- a topical flick I wanted to see and a friend thing. Before I went I asked Kat, but what if it scares me forever? It was really good and not as scary as I feared. Reminded me of a good Twilight Zone episode. And Rosemary's Baby of course. Gotta love the conspiracy-theory-spouting friend.



Thursday, October 12, 2017

Brassy celestial

Dark days
I'm reading a memoir about life with anxiety disorder. I find that I am learning a lot from this woman's experience of generalized anxiety disorder and the diagnoses and treatments she's had over the last twenty years. She's also included a history of the medical, neurological, pharmacological and psychological understanding of anxiety. I find those sections pretty skimmable. But the drug history has surprised me. I didn't realize that xanax and klonopin were cousins of valium. No wonder the addiction concerns. Sharing with a teenager who is wrassling with some anxiety of her own.

Hardly any substance at all
During a previous time of violence I was thinking about population density on the earth and wondering if we just had so many Americans per square mile now we are going to see more friction and mental illness and explosions of violence. Maybe we're driving ourselves insane being crowded. Or we're reacting to the fact that there are Plenty of extra humans, human life is no longer a precious resource, we have a surplus supply. But then I realized that Asia has a vastly higher population density than North Am and aren't experiencing these incidents of violence. So I'm putting the density theory away.

Warning: onion smell
I may try to make this slow cooker onion soup with mushroom/veg broth instead of beef broth. I do like the beef broth version but the other onion soup fan in my family is the veghead. I like the warning that this will make your living space smell like Onion Central. I don't really have a problem with that but I could put the slow cooker in the garage.

Shiny
I don't know where the banner image came from but I like it very much. Maybe it's German? [Found a reference that says this is a gate inside the Kremlin.]



The one before

STW
I read Lolly Willowes by Sylvia Townsend Warner several years ago after reading descriptions in the Book Slut's blog. (I originally typed that I read it 'last year' but Goodreads tells me it was in 2012 and I am but a dry leaf in the rushing current of Time.) Here is a good meaty little article about this author. Currently I'm trying out The Corner That Held Them. It's got a good strong start and I laughed out loud at the description of one particular benefactress in the 1300s who was described as devoted to litigation the way other women are devoted to love or needlework. It made me think of the detailed legal court descriptions that survive of that era when other narratives haven't. I wonder if this was based on a real English convent or if it is a fictional amalgam of such.

Bring me a book
This is a discussion of great interest: Wanted, a fairly short and cheerful novel.

Noiry
I haven't done my homework re-watch of Blade Runner yet. I plan to do that before going to the new movie. Nod thinks it's a pointless sequel so I will have to find another enthusiast.

Jane Lynch is a jazzy Christmas carol nerd
I am a fan and when I saw this pop up on the library's list I wanted to hear it. (I granted myself an exemption to listen to xmas related music even though we are not in the family rule November to New Year's range.) It's fun! I love We 3 Kings, the Hallelujah Chorus and Silent Night renditions. Jingle Bells and the Russian Children's carol (new to me!) are good too. Turns out I can't accommodate a jazzy Good King Wenceslaus. And the 7 year old naughty song didn't do anything for me.


Friday, October 6, 2017

Midwest, Naples, Madagascar

New authority
Went to meet a new piano teacher last night. It was a bit of a shock to realize that we'd had K in lessons for 12 years with her original teacher. This was a different experience, someone who has a great command of her instrument and lots of strategies for teaching. K will be doing scales for the first time in her life and have an opportunity to learn to read lead sheets (I didn't know that term).

K was shaky afterwards and said it was stressful. I assured her that she'd been very brave and that playing for a new person you'd just met to show what you could do was way up on any stress measure. I also assured her that it will get easier as she gets to know this teacher. I let her make the decision and tell me whether after that she wanted to start lessons. She's going to try weekly lessons and maybe a recital. But K will be the oldest student and is more like an adult playing for pleasure than a kid being run through steps of a repetoire. I am going to keep checking in - I don't want her any more than faintly stressed by music learning.

Neapolitan season
It took me at least halfway through the second Ferrante book (Story of a New Name) for it to really catch fire for me. I am now almost done and am really enjoying it. Finally got to Lila's notebooks getting tossed in the river and Lina getting through college. It pretty much sucked to be a (modern young) woman in 1960's Italy. I empathize greatly with Lina and her outsized desire to be liked, to be taken for a knowledgeable, articulate person. Backpedaling if she didn't get what she wanted to and acting as though she hadn't really wanted it anyway. I also empathize with her self criticism about all that.

Plague in Madagascar
No poetry in that heading. I just read in this piece that plague is a seasonal occurrence in that country. Only since 1898 when it was brought by ship from India. But now there's a larger than usual number of people sick and it may be airborne as well as flea transmitted. Sorry to hear it, Madagascar.



Friday, September 29, 2017

Momentum

Rocking on
Got back on my horse of planks and tri- and bi-cep stuff in the mornings. It's a something! Planks are still weird to me. Such simple poses and still so hard. Am still squat curious. Maybe I'll save those for when I'm craving novelty. Sometimes it takes a long time for me to want anything different.

Get the trash to take itself out
Can we just agree that Samantha Irby is the best? Here's a charming interview to hammer that point home. She talks about being honest about her health conditions and how it allows her to be free of the pressure to hide the embarrassing/distressing experiences.

Ivories
Oldest wants to take lessons and would like to try a new teacher. I just looked at the campus program that I think has music ed students teaching piano as part of their supervised hours. It's super structured and we're past the start date. I will email them but even if we can start her late I suspect it's more inflexible than what K wants. I felt disappointed because I'm not sure where to find a compatible piano teacher. But! Then I used my monkey brain and messaged someone on faceboobs, and found at least one other option. Trying to schedule a Sunday lesson now.

Hide it away
This is the saddest story ever. It makes me think of the childhood instinct to hide what you love from other humans. We are a plague.

Wanted by the po-lice
I'm hoping to see Junior Brown tonight!



Monday, September 25, 2017

New input

Blat
More tuba joy! Went to a master class led by Patrick Sheridan last Friday. He's a hoot whether you play a brass instrument or not. I felt a bit sorry for the tuba-euphonium quartet who played at the beginning and then sat on stage while PS riffed to the audience for an hour. But it was fun for the audience. He did finally get to work with his tooters and it was really fun to hear the difference in the piece when he had them focus on articulation by playing their instrument as much like a xylophone or snare as possible. I hope my 8th grade trombone player remembers something from it.

I believe this concludes my brief spell of tuba mania.

Stumble
Three days without arms and planks. I am worried that my streak is over. It is nice to have a month accomplished and I'd like to see what two months would feel like. No, of course I haven't started jogging every other day. I went out one day and that was that so far.

This morning instead of blearily getting out the yoga mat and doing the reps I chose to finish my murder mystery* between the 6:15 alarm and 7:00 when I had to get in the shower. Currently I'm trying to talk myself into doing the exercises when I get home from work. That way I'd be starting the week with movement and it seems it would be easier to continue on.

Mole's food amount modification experiment (I won't call it a diet) and rationale (latest update) is inspiring. Gods know that the hard part is getting back on the horse. Rather than dusting one's pants off and heading for the train station to catch a fast mixed metaphor to Fun Town.

*Death Wears a Mask by Ashley Weaver. Pleasant and well written, I would recommend this series as stylish period whodunnits with effective and surprisingly licit Romance. It reminds me of the Dandy Gilver series although it doesn't plunk the heroine into such flamboyant settings. That makes these books more plausible but duller to be honest.

Big screen
Saw Dunkirk yesterday. Originally I'd been interested to see it on IMAX. But I jumped at the noise and so on, it was plenty intense on a regular movie screen. Main thoughts:  1) so many ways to die, 2) a boat is a wonderful refuge until it is a swiftly sinking deathtrap on fire. It is remarkably dialogue free. HS gets to play a realistic rat. I wish that producing war movies would reduce the likelihood of actual war. Like Spaulding Gray suggested in Swimming to Cambodia -- boost the local economy with a big war movie every once in a while. Get those yayas out and avoid the real thing.



Friday, September 22, 2017

Getting deeper in, any way you can

Novel/band sychronicity. I just finished All My Puny Sorrows by Miriam Toews. It's a book that taps into ecstatic melancholy feelings I have had. Like watching the clouds move over the moon and wanting to stay out all night singing back to the sky. In the last couple of chapters she mentions the band The Weepies. I just found a CD by that band at my public library and I love them and their poetry so much. I assumed that they were Canadian but it looks like they're 'merican after all. 


The songs fit in with the book so well. They acknowledge the beauty and the pain that's twirled together in this plane of existence. And don't take themselves too seriously.



Thursday, September 21, 2017

Feathers

More things I have collected this week.

How to squat properly. Link found in a metafilter exercise thread. This person is so enthusiastic about squats it makes me want to try...

I realized recently that I need some knee length knit skirts in my life. And then I found some patterns. Here's one that sounds achievable. I would ideally pick a busy pattern that would hide my inaccuracies. I could even be brave and try using the machine. The pattern calls for over a yard of fabric so buy 2 yards to be sure.

I could use a new pair of black flats and a new pair of brown shoes too. So far I have not enjoyed shopping online much. But here's a pair that look good and ought to be semi comfortable.

Turmeric Chicken Noodle Soup is a phrase I came across earlier today. This recipe sounds very promising.

Noticed this bumper sticker in the work lot recently:

I don't actually think cats wearing costumes and in very close proximity would get along at all.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

More!

Diligent arm and plank action in the mornings. I sort of like starting exercise before I am fully awake. But as good as that all is for my arms and core, my pants have announced that they are too tight. I have considered two options -- buying new pants with a larger waistband and jogging. I think the second option is both cheaper and better for me. Grumblegrumble fifty grumble.



Attended my first tuba/euphonium recital last night. I even got a friend to go with me - it was nerdy, musical and friendy! We enjoyed the shinyshiny brass and the surprising range of the instruments - a lot of the music was more horn-adjacent than I expected. (But sorry tubas, horn tone is prettier.) The modern pieces that fully exploited the low majestic farting end of the tuba's voice were pretty entertaining. We were both reminded of the Arrival soundtrack and the low rumbly alien voices. The musicians had different sizes of instrument and different ways to hold them. More variety overall than we expected. Definitely glad I went.




Fallish is happening and I think that's okay. But the pace this month is really fast as the kids' two schools ramp up and so much is going on for everyone. Last week passed in a flash for me. Maybe a little slower could be good.

Am keeping up my search for non-med anxiety coping resources. The oldest teen has to put up with a lot and I want to help her scale all the mountains. We've found a yoga class on Sunday (not too early) and I found a recommendation for a mindfulness CD aimed at teens by a Scot named Bodhipaksa. So you know it must be good.





Friday, September 1, 2017

Friday shiny pebbles

New crop Jonathan apples! So crisp, tart/sweet and fresh tasting.

Just occurred to me this week that I can stop trying to put nail polish on the teeny slivers of nail that I have on my little toes. I remember being a little kid and playing with my dad's feet. I wondered how it was even possible for his toenail on the small toe to be so smol. I am my father's daughter and have very little nail that's barely visible on my smallest toes. And my sandals usually cover up my little toes anyway. 8 toes polished is enough!

Vocal coach Chris Beatty. https://youtu.be/eWLWOSgYlG8 This clip is about a workaround to hear your voice as others do. I like the idea of a vocal coach full stop.

------------------
Post-Friday

Logan Lucky was a fun thing to do on my holiday Monday. I took the girls with me since my life partner kept dragging his feet. The three of us were entertained. I think the director was having/eating his cake with the appalachian accents but okay. I liked Melly Logan a lot.

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Partial after all

Shine
Eclipse yearning still partially unfulfilled. But I loved getting into the path of totality, even under the thick cloud cover that blocked our view of the sky during the key time. We saw through cloudbreaks some of the sun getting covered up. Then during totality it was gorgeous to see the dark come and go all around with sunset color on the horizons. Jealous of all that got to see Bailey's Beads, take off their glasses and see the covered sun, and see stars in the daytime sky. I can see how people get bit by the total eclipse bug.

That night we got more than five inches of rain so it made me feel a little better about missing out on the sky show. At least we were blocked by *serious* clouds, not dilettantes.

Mysterious loves
Delightful discussion from the AV Club on the pop culture you love that is hard to explain. I have to tell my husband about the experimental Czech film from the 60s. He'll love that. I also enjoyed the explanation of magic tricks as "a shared experience of wonder".

Wham
Semester has started. Smoother than other years. Still not expecting to get a whole lot done outside of work until the tidal wave recedes a bit more.

Buggy
Note to self: put on mosquito repellent if I work in the backyard, even strolling over to the garden to see the progress of the bugs and the bindweed. I had a fun time cutting suckers and saplings down but am still waiting for my ankles and shins to recover from the skeeter bites. Next step is getting my huge pile of cuttings into the yard waste bags.

Hills
Working on making a friend. Working on supporting a kid with anxiety symptoms. Working on my morning pushups. Ugh. This list makes me want to go swing on a really good adult-sized swing that goes really high.



Friday, August 11, 2017

White Rose

My favorite bit from the new Spiderman movie is that when he goes to the Homecoming dance he's wearing a white rose in his lapel. It's so Galahad, virginal knight. Despite its blockbuster slot, the movie paid attention to tone and small signals. Oh, I also liked, "Hey Spiderman, do a flip!!" a whole lot. And Ned! I was successful in having low expectations for this one and was really charmed. I smiled a lot. The Avengers stuff in this did not charm me. All very military-industrial complex.

Windows 10 displays an icon in the middle of the screen before login. It's a generic user, the suggestion of a head on shoulders. Or is it a very depressed cyclops?







No world news here. I am resolutely turning the radio down when djt comes on. I'll be trying to get the kids ready for their start of school next week. I'll be wondering if we'll have clear skies for the eclipse in ten days. I'll be tending to my dog in the cone of shame.

She's worn it so long now that she's willing to bump it into the floor and obstacles now. Originally she wouldn't even lay down with it on so she's adapted a lot. I'm sorry for her but she's chewed the scab off her foot over and over and we've got to do what it takes to let that heal completely. Maybe she can spend the second half of August without a cone on her head.

Lots of painted lady butterflies have visited the Joe Pye weed that we have in the front yard:



Monday, July 31, 2017

Forging ahead

The Incredible Jessica James (Netflix flick) lives up to its name. You should watch it now. Even if you only watch the opening title sequence of Jessica dancing by herself, it'll be worth it.

This USGS Water Science School website seems full of tasty knowledge. I learned from my technician husband that absolutely pure water does not conduct electricity. It's the stuff dissolved in water that makes it conductive. Of course water on earth always has stuff dissolved in it thus the common sense that it's conductive. Perhaps I will learn more exciting and ground shaking facts.

====================

Benign neck lumps. That's the biopsy results. I am supposed to go back to the ENT for a follow up appointment in 4 months. Now that I have had that experience I will need tranqs before I do another neck biopsy, grr. I have full range of motion now, ten days after.

I am feeling quite exasperated about parts of my body that I have never thought about before. Recent mix and match feelings about my physical condition: sad, angry, resigned.

I'd like to enjoy rather than resent being in my body. I'm going to do some morning plank work with loud music. Might need a boombox for the bedroom. I'm going to do some super relaxed yoga. I'm going to jump my husband when we get a chance. And I'm going to keep thinking about things that feel good.

The forecast is ominously pleasant. Who said Kansans could have highs in the low- to mid-80s to start August?! Topsyturviness.




Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Beachy

Watching our two kids proceed through security and disappear into the gate area at the airport was weird. The TSA agent checking their IDs looked around so I waved at him. He said, "I thought you'd be nearby somewhere." Leaving the airport without them felt a bit wrong. Soon I will do the swa checkin for their flight tomorrow. I'll fill up the car with gas tonight. Later on I'll talk with them and my mom. I'm glad to be ticking off the things that get me closer to seeing them.

Just read a pastor's tweet (ha! twitter is the modern home of the cri de coeur) that I'll paraphrase as "if there's no transcendental being with love and compassion for us limited humans then what are we all doing here?" In my opinion we humans get to be the transcendental and the limited, all at the same time or by turns.

L and her friend K want to go to Disneyland when they are old enough to travel on their own. They are the perfect twosome to have great time with the Mouse. Parking this here for reference: http://www.latimes.com/projects/la-fi-disneyland-ride-wait-time/  July 2017.

Sea glass, lovely sea-smoothed bits of color. It would be fun to make a sea glass window. A wonderful woman posted her technique lo these many years ago. In short: use plexiglass for the background and then glue the pieces of sea glass on with E6000 glue. It would be fun to find a cool frame first and put eye bolts on the top to hang in front of a window. I'm imagining being on the beach enough to find all the sea glass...

History of art in French, anyone? I'm trying to read a little bit and limber up the brain.

The milkweed in the front is budding. I haven't seen any monarchs on it but it still makes me happy.

I didn't realize how very oddly shaped wombats are. The fact that they poop in cubes is not any stranger than the vast distance between the eyes.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Moving and shining

Recovering
Up sick in the night. I stayed home the next day. I am back at work but still feeling a bit weak. Not sure what that was about. No one else in the fam got sick. Maybe I'll try planks again tonight.

Throaty
Biopsy will be next Friday 8am. I called to ask what to expect. The nurse I spoke to was bad at explaining. Then the connection went out and the call was cut off. I may try asking someone else. Google says I should be able to drive home and go back to work after.

Bush of Whos

Compound flower puffballsButtonbush. These flower balls, each whiskered with pistils, looked perfect and Seussian. L spotted them beside the lake as we waited for our turn to kayak. She brought up the Whos on the teeny ball on the flower that Horton hears. And then I realized that the Grinch was as teeny as the Whos -- mindblown.

Strawberry Ice Cream Moon
We got to watch the full moon rise over the lake on 7/8. It was faint pastel pink as it came up. Got brighter and brighter white as it rose further from the horizon. Beautiful twilight water colors. And a bright moonpath over the water before we left. No pix because kayaks and cameras don't mix.

Can you accept what you are?
Self-care basics. This is attitude and practice, not something you buy. I love #1 - feel your feelings without judging them. Such a big hurdle to cross to my adulthood.

Take off
Décollage in French means take-off / lift-off. I had to look it up so I'm putting it here. De-glue-ing is one literal deconstruction of the word. The plane is unglued from the ground!

Twitter doggo concern
Chris Evans' dog is oooookay.

Hippodanger

First, watch out for the hippos
A story about hippo zookeepers and their bottomless fondness for their dangerous blobby charges. My fave part:
...Remember that time she bit down while I was brushing her teeth and she broke every bone in my hand?” and all the other people are like,  “Aw, precious Nile princess! I remember riding with you in the ambulance!”
A follow up comment clarifies, "Also, not to let you think that my cousin or hippo people in general are irresponsible: They apparently have very strict and very clear rules limiting human-hippo contact and a massive, strict set of safety policies….it’s just that hippos are so fucking devoted to injuring people that shit happens."

Rickman4evah
The Story of Lunch turned out to be not my thing. Clearly smitten by the cast, I would have rather heard a description like this:  prose poem adapted into a teleplay, less than an hour in length, almost entirely narrated by a self-involved 50 something seeing an old flame. Good old Alan Rickman and Emma Thompson were not enough to shift that balance. I gave it fifteen minutes and bailed.

Wow, Alan Rickman's late film roles seem to have been in some universally loathed films. But he was following in the footsteps of excellent male British actor Michael Caine who appeared in everything that paid well. They seem to have a workmanlike approach, better to be paid for acting than not. I've seen Love Actually (his subplot is meh and I don't enjoy rooting against him) and the Potter films. Of his others since 2000, Snow Cake was interesting and affecting. Blow Dry was extremely silly. I might try Perfume. I'd like to see his Caterpillar in Alice. The Search for John Gissing seems best reviewed of the bunch.

Listen and watch
Harvested from the Bloggess's request for listening goodies:

http://robpaulsenlive.com/talkin-toons-with-rob-paulsen/  Interview podcast with voice actors.

http://www.thememorypalace.us/ podcast  Small portion history podcast

http://www.dancarlin.com/ Hardcore History podcast

http://www.talkthetalkpodcast.com.au/ Language podcast

http://www.dolloppodcast.com/ History nsfw podcast

And a metaflitter-recommended web series The Gay and Wondrous Life of Caleb Gallo   http://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLAumukunDCqfi1CmaOM20f2jzQtKIP7rt

From metaflitter askme Tai Chi vids https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TBvF6r6DOvc

https://www.yesbroadway.com/newsandfeatures/podcasts and https://theaterppl.com/the-podcast/2017/4/24/introducing-broadway-backstory  Broadway related podcasts!

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Forthed

Light it up
Fireworks felt a bit perfunctory. Lots of unsanctioned lights and booms going off around us before the city show. It was muggy but there was a blessed breeze that came and went. Realized that I have a hard time remembering past 4ths separately which is frustrating. Got to meet a 6 week old which was definitely the highlight. In general I felt sorry for the dogs. I started out nervous about my fellow firework watchers but as Nod told me, they weren't any different than any other year. That'll do for the gunpowder holiday.

Sing it
Heard part of a radio piece on the Star Spangled... song. It recommended adding the 5th version to the 1st that we all know. Despite the word 'illum'd' which I find a stumbling block, I'd like to learn it:

When our land is illum’d with Liberty’s smile,
If a foe from within strike a blow at her glory,
Down, down, with the traitor that dares to defile
The flag of her stars and the page of her story!
By the millions unchain’d who our birthright have gained
We will keep her bright blazon forever unstained!
And the Star-Spangled Banner in triumph shall wave
While the land of the free is the home of the brave.

Check it
Going to schedule a biopsy of my enlarged thyroid. Still feeling irritated about having to think about my thyroid at all. Prefer irritation to fear.

Bake it
I watched some more British baking yesterday. But before then I baked another loaf of soda bread with sesame seeds on top. It was well received. Nod decided we needed to grill despite the rain on the morning of the 4th. He got the fireplace going on and made a nice bed of coals. Got some veggies for K and brats and dogs for the rest of us. It was a good meal. I discovered that I like berries with whipped cream more than (grocery store) key lime pie.

Get it
Both kids were at sleepovers on the 4th and we had some time for private fun as well. I quite enjoyed having the house just to ourselves. And then I missed the kids later during the fireworks.

Jazz it
Well explained by Katyboo: "It was traditional jazz, i.e. stuff that you can still hear the tune in, rather than stuff that goes on for eight weeks and sounds like a lot of pans falling downstairs."


Thursday, June 22, 2017

Or not so

Finished the 2013 season of GBBS on netflix last night. Am very disoriented because it's listed in n'flix as Season 2 and I had previously watched their Season 1 which turns out to have been the 2014 GBBO. Ack! The only explanation is that they are trying to undermine our mental stability. I can't say that I lost out on any plot by watching them in reverse order. There is nothing but timeless baking, cruel challenges, charming participants and occasional nature beauty shots of the English springtime countryside. Thank god.

Father's day happened. Nod got his kayaks the weekend before and we had an adventure getting them onto the car carriers and strapping them down in gusty winds. Turns out it's easier without the gusty winds. We're still learning about tying options for the incredibly long straps we have. But we got 'em successfully loaded, transported, unloaded, in the water and back. The water at our chosen lake was a pleasant temp and we all got a turn or two paddling around. It's lovely being so close to the surface of the water. Small fish jumped and a giant grey heron flew back and forth.

At the request of the paterfamilias I baked some kick-ass strawberry scones. My scones tend to spread out instead of rise high. I think I'm adding too much liquid and will try cutting back the yogurt. But even spread out they were delicious.

I am crossing my fingers whenever I think about my poor dumb 2006 wagon that got two new head cylinders in April. I would like it to have no further mechanical challenges until at least 2019 please. But the clicking in the front axles while turning is not encouraging.

Got through Four Roads Cross and it ended well. I did think it could have been cut down to a novella to better effect. On to the October Daye series! The first one went down easy. Currently I'm rolling my eyes at the second one. I *never* guess whodunnit and this time I'm convinced I had it in the first third and would like the protags to wake up and see it already. We'll see if my impatience is well placed or not.

Mowed the back last night. It looks good and I did the side yard as well. It was satisfying to accomplish. Roofing season seems finally to have ended. They picked up the last of their piled up supplies from the front yard this week. Road work has taken the place of roof work to inconvenience us. We'll see if the curb/driveway gets done by the end of the week. It's been cut and scraped down for a few days so the nabes and I are wondering when the new stuff gets laid down.

I don't know if our tomato plants in the garden have any chance of producing fruit. They're both flowering but I haven't seen any tomatoes yet. July will tell. Kale and parsley continue to be the big winners. I made a couscous salad last night with lots of parsley. Like tabouli with a lemon/olive oil dressing but using couscous instead of bulgar wheat. The recipe was on the back of the couscous box and called for -- of course -- an entire box of couscous. I didn't add it all to the salad because if I had it would have been hard to find the veggies. I made a very tasty salad and now need to find a use for the rest of this stuff.




Monday, June 12, 2017

Bookin

I'm working my way through Max Gladstone's fifth Craft book, Four Roads Cross. I like that universe and yet am finding it a bit uphill. But then there's another monster fight scene that draws me on. I should get through it this week. More summer genre -- I have a McGuire book cued up and ready.

I walked the dog this morning before breakfast. It was a good idea and I'll try to go a little earlier next time. All movement is good movement. Swam a bunch at the skinny dipping lake on Saturday. I would have liked to stay for moonrise but my carpool buddy needed to get home.

Baking is another summer theme. That's British Baking of course. I wish the earlier seasons were on Netflix, maybe later. Finished 2014 and just started the 2015 season. As a friend of a friend observed, this is the show to put on if you wake with a nightmare in the vast wee hours. I particularly like how Paul warns Mary not to eat items that are raw or ruined (salt instead of sugar!!!).

I need to find the vulture myth story that made me cry. Something about flying up to the sun and changing from white to to black/bald in service of others on the ground.

Fascinating page on plants that are Not Edible. Some of these are truly wacky looking. And the names! Rattlebox, Fate Tree, Horse Nettle, Hairy Crabweed! I like the tone here "Edibility is doubtful, botantical references vague, identification difficult. Best avoided."


Thursday, June 8, 2017

Visiting

#whynotvisit memes are so excellent. The periodic church references are a delightful spice.

I was inspired by https://gaymonsterdad.tumblr.com/post/159314773757 and went to the dailydot to get some more. Oh the love.


the forest of memes

visit the jungle

visit the ocean

visit the cave





visit the sky

`

visit north pole

Triumph



Lots of buds yet to bloom. I like the double color. I'd love to plant a darker red next to it. Because what is better than flowers? More flowers!

Friday, June 2, 2017

Pastoral

Hollyhocking
My gardening joy this year is my hollyhock plant that grew right where I wanted it, on the side of our front steps. It's more than four feet tall now and has buds galore. Yesterday I noticed some color showing on three of the buds. Dark red/pink.

Here is the top bud cluster being all fractal:

Today the roofers will replace the roof on our rental house. I hope this plant will not be in the line of fire as the old shingles, nails, etc. rain down. I think it's close enough to the front door to survive. As it came back after being mowed down last year I figure it's already gone to the school of hard knocks and will be able to pull through. I sure would like to see the blooms.

Gone to the Bees
Nice site about pollinators including many species of native bees. There's a pdf about building nest areas for different species. I almost want to grow cane just so I can make a bundle of dried canes as a bee nest.

I like the note about helping native bee populations by keeping some farmland as native habitat.
Studies across the US have found that for certain crops "one-hundred percent of the pollination needs can be met if twenty-five to thirty percent of the landscape is left in natural habitat."

On Mulberry St.
I saw the sidewalk littered with purple berries last weekend and knew the time to forage had come. I made sure to grab a step stool and a container and got about three cups of mulberries from over the public path. They are pretty mild, not a huge amount of flavor. But like many fruit objects, adding lime juice and a few teaspoons of sugar made for a bowl full of goodness. I ate the last of them yesterday.

Vanity
I run up against it here and there but I have made some conscious effort to let go of this in the past 15 years. Perversely, I have been trying to stir it up recently to see if it could get me exercising more. My perimenopausal middle is more pronounced this summer. I haven't had a lot of success with these thoughts. Belly? I think. Oh well, I think. But I have found one area it works for me: upper arms. Hail Michelle Obama, our lady of the guns. May your spirit lead me to pushups and tricep dips and help my arms be toned rather than flappy.


Monday, May 22, 2017

Duck 50

Nod made me a party on my birthday. He told me that he'd reserved a park shelter and invited some folks. Before we went to California I woke one night and my brain decided to spend some pre-dawn time worrying about what we could offer guests as far as food/entertainment. Dumb brain. Then we were traveling.

Oh NorCal, you were so beautiful for our visit. The friends were beautiful too. The family time was great. It was wonderful to share this part of the world with our kids who are now old enough to appreciate and remember it. And if you go to the Bay Area in summer, just throw that fleece layer in the suitcase. It doesn't weigh anything and you will probably need it.

Teeny family on the beach at Tennessee Valley cove.

Family+friend once again heading away from me in Clarion Alley, San Francisco.

We came home and did school/work things. The day before my birthday there were thunderstorms and I pouted. I thought about cancelling because the grass would be wet and it might be muddy and it wasn't going to be very warm.

But I decided we could light some charcoal and toast hot dogs and marshmallows. (Works for 5 or 50.) And that would be kinda entertaining and I got on board. In the event it was chillier than I expected but a good quorum came out and stayed way longer than I expected. I cut the last two pink roses and put them up with some crepe paper. Lots of kids ran around. It was a fun party!

On my birthday: I jogged. I smelled honeysuckle after the rain. I got a bunch of promising looking novels at the library and started a murder mystery that has sucked me in. I finished reading a long letter from SWW - no better present. I drank some wine. I got some book and tv recommendations. I put on Jane Siberry's The Walking and it had me singing and made my heart swoop. Such great stuff.

That anniversaire was better than I expected all around.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Snaky

Going to California this weekend. I am a little avoidant and a little panicking about the prep I haven't done. I just emailed the Danish with my itin. Proof that this blog is an external thought tool for me. Worry in writing and then take action. I'm worried we're going to spend the whole time looking for buses while the graduating senior skives off to be with his friends. (Which is what I'm sure I did as a graduate.) Well, we will enjoy each other's company and eat well too. I'm really looking forward to seeing the wonderful and dynamic AM.

I need to make a big stir fry to use up all the stupid fresh vegetables I just bought. I guess if I stir fried it all I could freeze it for the delight of future me.

I mowed front and back on Sunday and Monday. It can just grow long while we're gone. The pet sitter is booked and we'll give her the key tomorrow. The dog needs an allergy injection but she's already bathed.

Breathing in and out. Have you see the lovely geometric figure that expands and contracts to help steady your breathing? The gif is at the bottom of a post by The Bloggess. Nina Paley has a snake goddess animation that I think could be used for the same purpose. Here's her gif. I wonder if the html will break...


snake goddess6gif_5


Thursday, May 4, 2017

Peep out

The sun has come out and large white cloud zeppelins are floating by. What a release. Got the front mowed in our one day between storms earlier this week. I am very proud of it. My hollyhock next to the front steps is growing taller all the time. I am excited to see it bloom this year. Pretty sure it'll be pink. I hope it makes lots of seeds and I will spread them all around.

I went to eat at the campus ministries veggie lunch today. Tofu tacos is not my most favorite menu but it provided more food-like food than the cafeteria options have been. I sat at a table of international students discussing their summer plans and the public transportation options in LA. I didn't try to join in and whisked myself off after eating quickly. It was good to suss it out. I'll go again next year when they start up for fall.

I am reading My Brilliant Friend by Ferrante. It's going well but it still feels a little like homework. I enjoy it while I'm reading it but don't miss it when I put it down. Perhaps I will feel more involved as the protagonists get older. I had to stop reading Finn Fancy Necromancy. Great title but it didn't charm me. I couldn't get interested enough in who was plotting against our narrator. The 80's set dressing was fun but a bit forced. I didn't like it when he repeatedly used the term 'mixed tape' for a cassette of songs recorded for your sweetie. That's 'mix tape' buddy and don't you forget it. The nail in the coffin was when I realized this was #1 of a series. Ah, so I *won't* actually be getting closure if I finish this sucker, will I? Fly free little library book. I need another genre book, stat.




Monday, May 1, 2017

Get Through It

Chillychillychochilly
Cold rainy weekend begets cold rainy Monday morning. Populace is quiet, pale and grim. The grass in our front yard is reaching new heights. No news about our car in the shop.

Neverthless
We got a lot done this weekend. After all we couldn't lay about in the sun... The grass it up to my shins but pressure's off since I can't mow til it dries out. The garden is also very happy. Pizza gathering for L. K got her hair cut in a bob, her first haircut since last August. Theatre program auditions were yesterday for the summer shows. L has a callback for the younger kids' show, I wonder what will happen with the h.s.show.

Say what now
I'm currently in active listening mode with my body. Here's a breast cyst but it's not a tumor. Time to learn about stages of menopause and associated experiences. I hate to say 'symptoms'. Hm, no period within ten days of expected start date. Is it time for a pregnancy test just to be sure? Oh no, here we go. I'm a little off balance and truly interested to know - what's next?

Zing
Just watched Rosie O'Donnell's A Heartfelt Standup where she tells about having a heart attack. She stayed home for several days after the attack instead of going to the hospital and is lucky to have survived. Her helpful acronym is HEPPP: heat, exhaustion, pain (could be in back, abdo, neck), pale, puke. Women present with different symptoms than men and this is important info. In addition to being a woman, I like women and I want them to live!

We've all been there
Probably good for a laugh - Reddit thread on weird stuff done while on autopilot.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Alley oop

We did the pros/cons consideration and decided to have the Dreadnought repaired. It has two cracked cylinder head gaskets. Which explains the oil leak and probably explains the pressure loss in TX too. My credit card company will love us as I add that on. But it's cheaper than a new car and we hope it'll get us through the next three years. Any other >$300 fix will signal its doom.

Nod seems to be picking up steam with his business. He's going on calls every day now and seems to be making things happen. I think we'll have a good idea by the end of May if it's full speed ahead or time to bail. He just told me last night that he's having a good time working for himself. Huzzah!

I'm busy menopausing and have questions. Where's that manual again? You would think that my body could tell that the 50th birthday is next month. It's hurrying up to meet deadline.

Re-reading The Truth by Terry Pratchett. A good comfort book. On the other end of the spectrum I just finished Fight Club and that was interesting. For me it teetered back and forth between seeming nostalgic (pre-9/11, big cheap used cars, no cell phones, urban slacker culture) and predictive (nihilistic young adults who lack any spiritual center or sense of possibility in the future).

---------------------

I bought $25 dollars worth of plants at the educational garden center place. (No I can't explain what they do and no one else can either. Gardening! kids! nutrition! Who can argue?) It wasn't a lot of plants but they are all in great shape and are what I wanted. When I was planting the new peppermint plant I found a spearmint volunteer. So they're not all dead! The mints can battle it out but I'm hoping for a tie. It would be nice to have both. And dill and kale and at least one native wildflower.

So for future reference, plants went in the ground 4/23.

Friday, April 21, 2017

Linkalinka

Thinking about the lower doors in our rustic pantry cabinet that are currently covered with metal mesh but are just crying out for punched tin panels:

https://www.irvins.com/category/Kitchen-Cabinet-Punched-Tin-Panels/08_20/08/1/

http://www.thetinbin.com/Punched-Tin-Panels_c_94.html

http://piercedtin.com/cscart/economy-panels/


This is something I would like to read:
http://misscellania.blogspot.com/2017/04/whole-phrases-hidden-in-english-words.html
In a Sherlock Holmes short story written by Stephen King he uses innards as contrasted with out'ards. I wonder if that's the actual origin.

Oh! Oh! Oh! http://kottke.org/17/04/the-webs-funniest-stories . Note: does not contain 'dogs in elk'.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Raar

Important resource for learning about birds. Watch out for the Gator Commanding Heron.

Menaces to anybody living near bodies of freshwater in the southeastern United States, Gator-commanding Blue Herons are renowned for their ability to tame and control their distant cousins. Unfortunately for their many victims these birds often use...


Slow times at work this spring. It's difficult to work on infrastructure (webpages, workshop videos) with no deadlines. Sometimes I surprise myself with a particularly productive day.

Car had another spasm. The gas pedal didn't work and the Check Engine and Cruise Control lights came on. I parked and checked radiator fluid; it was fine. I was able to restart and drive back to work. It's at the mechanics now.

Samantha Bee coined 'marmalade hairball' for you-know-who. Sigh. It would be a happy sigh for the wordsmithing but nothing in regards to this administration makes me happy.

I don't think I've ever seen a male bellydancer and I want to. http://www.metafilter.com/166401/Bagoas-awesome-male-tribal-fusion-bellydancer


Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Upswinger

Update whew
Benign cysts and calcifications is the interpretation of my boob scans. I'm relieved and realize that I need to learn more about the tricks my chest can play on me.

Sleepover achieved, the 7th graders ate cheesy poofs and sang along with Glee and all was well.

Car's engine code is something about the throttle. Nod cleared it and it drives okay but jerky and needs mechanic attention. Not sure whether to go back to the eh mechanic or try a new one.

Kitty tired
Zing has been extra sleepy lately and snuggly and showing her age a bit. She's eight plus years old. She still leaps up to get to the food bowl on top of the bookshelf (out of dog reach). She still kills the occasional backyard rodent. Sorry, rodents. Lately she is recovering from a bout of scratching holes in herself (spring allergies) and yesterday there were several cat barfs, cause unknown. That brings us up to date with Zing.

Men who kneel
I love Swistle's paragraph so much:
Do you know who I love? Hardly anyone. But in that small number I include plumbers. Also the people who come to change a flat tire. I have encountered both of those people this week, and I love them both. I have added them to my Christmas Card list. Whenever I am blue, I will picture that guy kneeling in front of my flat tire, asking the tire earnestly if it is seriously going to fight him every step of the goddam way. Or that other guy kneeling in front of the broken sump pump in his careful, taking-no-chances, 2-inches-above-the-jeans underpants. Guys Kneeling and Fixing Things is a coffee table book I would buy.


Friday, April 7, 2017

oboyo

4/07/17 I am still in the midst of one of THOSE days.

I have been driving my high schooler to either her friend's house or the busstop about twice a week. This entails me interrupting my breakfast/coffee time. At the beginning of the school year I had made big noises about her taking the bus and getting herself to that school that she wanted to go to all the way across town. And it's time to make some more noise about it as the weather is fine and she can take care of this herself.

But this morning she went to the busstop and the bus didn't come. I suspect she was just late but didn't have time to plumb the depths of the mystery so I drove her to the downtown hub to catch the other bus. Which had left. So I drove towards the high school and overcame the bus and dropped her off a couple blocks ahead of it. I came in to work half an hour late.

I have been wondering about a bit of my left bosomy area since Wednesday. I was doing a crossword puzzle and brushed against it and it just felt different. I went in today to see my nurse practitioner and I will have a diagnostic mammogram next Tues. I feel that I need to keep this from my primary partner who is up to his eyebrows in new business stress. Once I have the info from the scan I'll bring him up to speed. [Told him over the weekend. We shared our various stresses. No one had a meltdown.]

On the way back from the doctor's office my car threw a Check Engine / flashing Cruise Control set of lights and became unresponsive to the gas pedal. I was almost to my parking lot and it was still moving forward somehow so I cruised very slowly into my parking lot... and around it... and into the next parking lot... until I found a space to park. I may get a ticket but at least I'm not blocking traffic.

The plan is to let the car rest quietly until 5:10. I'll check to see if I need to add fluid and then call Nod if it still won't go.

Am vibrating a bit.

We're supposed to have two of youngest's friends sleepover tonight. I need to go to the grocery store and get more powdered sugar and butter and vanilla for the frosting of the cupcakes. I have a few things to do.


Monday, April 3, 2017

Squib

Tumblr glee
badgerheartedgirl.tumblr.com
krabbydon.tumblr.com

Caracas coincidences
The band La Vida Boheme that moved recently to Mexico City because Venezuela is so dangerous these days. Heard on NPR (cuz old).

Springy
Trees are blooming, tulips are starting. Some of the tulip buds look like easter eggs on stems. The rain let up for a day but it was still gray and cold except for half an hour on Saturday. We're all waiting for the next sunbeam.

Clamshell crochet pattern. Makes a cute afghan... Three colors is probably not enough, four or five would do. Reminds me of scallop stitch but less holey. Crochet stitches usually leave holes, it's why I don't like it for garments. I want something more solid. But fun for an afghan, scarf, etc.

Fools!
Participated far more than usual this year. Got oldest daughter with a suggestion from youngest daughter. K brought a mickeymouse mask back from her Japan trip. It was a prize at a fair or was received in such a way that she couldn't refuse the creepy thing. After L made her devious suggestion I stashed it in my closet and made a note on my phone calendar reminding me to bring it out on the appointed day. I picked K up from a friend's house and when she got in the car -- MASK! She jumped agreeably and did not hold a grudge.

After seeing the lovely early 20th century poissons d'Avril images posted by my friends on fbook I cut out a paper fish and stuck it on my youngest kid's back -- without her knowledge! Mwahahaha!

I'm done for a few years I think.

Clarks coupon
http://m.zappos.com/marty/p/clarks-gracelin-gemma-red-leather/product/8817108/color/589

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Bluebonnet lupinus texensis

Drove down to Austin, Texas and returned. Luckily our spring break did not overlap with UT's or with SXSW. Just us Kansas nerds running around. Lived to tell the tale but not without a slow radiator leak and a bad day where I swore blue fire in front of my MIL. In my defense she had just jammed my credit card into the wrong slot in a garage parking meter and couldn't get it out. (I finally remembered that I had tweezers and retrieved it.) I am glad to have seen the bluebonnets (all over! wonderful!) and felt the warm temps of March at latitude 30.267. I'm sorry that we didn't have a transporter. It would have made everything better.



Slow day? Need something provocative? Here's a page of recommended fanfic pieces from Metafilter. Includes a link to a piece about the hypothetical Eartha Kitt/ Paul Newman/ James Dean threesome.


Thursday, March 16, 2017

Green

Just read this post from The Millions by Sarah Stephens on a grief comforted by a series of mystery novels. That's my kind of therapy. I was reminded by Ms. Irby that I need to keep up with the book chatty websites.

I've started my first Vorkosigan novel by Lois McMaster Bujold. As the series is long I consulted a guide to the reading order. I'm sticking to novels to start. If I get worked up I may go look for the stories later.

Our town's St. Pat's Day parade is tomorrow at 1pm. The parade committee posted signs yesterday on my street that we can't park on the street for the duration. I'm only a little grumpy about that. Mostly I am not a fan of the fact that one of the main historical sponsors for this parade has been a strip club. I like a good Irish beer but don't like the American holiday insistence on alcohol consumption. I think the Friday occurrence of SPD and the fact that our college men's basketball team is playing at 5:30p mean that there will be some big bad drunkenness downtown this year. Perhaps I'll make boxty potatoes with a recipe in French instead of carousing.



Friday, March 10, 2017

Sprang

Hot tub in a tree picture is from a local journalist covering the effects of the 3/06/17 tornadoes in the Kansas City environs. The worst was all to the west of us. It was fun to see a big storm blow in and I'm glad we got rain. Storm season started with a bang.

Sneezeweed. The Feds tell us that the name is from the use of this dried plant (leaves and flower heads) as snuff. Such a pleasing Seussian name.

Have you heard about the Order of the Teaspoon? Making me cry here.

Turning 50 means that I do things like google jeans-for-mature-women. I have been dealing with wrinkles for a while now. But as I close out another not-so-fit winter, I find that in addition to wrinkles there is also droop. Sob with me now. Surprisingly that search string brought up a good page with info on figuring out one's shape and what rise will be most flattering. More deets hidden below.

If you have any fond memories of BtVS on tv you should read this interview with James Marsters. I'm so happy he feels positive about that chapter of his career. Oh and here's the AV Club's whole week of anniversary goodness.




Measure the distance from your armpit (A) to your natural waist (W).
Then measure from your waist (W) to your bottom of your buttocks (B).
If the distance from armpit to waist is less than the distance from your waist to buttocks, then you have a short waist. Sometimes this is called a high waist.

If the measurement is longer then you have a long waist or sometimes it is referred to as a low waist.

Here's the equation:

B=buttock
W=waist
A= armpit
A/W>W/B= Low waist or long waist
WB>AW= High Waist or short waist
WB=AW= Balanced or normal waist
Now that you know this, you are in a better position to select a pair of jeans which will suit you.

For women with a short waist, stay away from high rise jeans. Opt for jeans which are a normal or lower rise as this will lengthen the look of the torso.

For those who have a low waist selecting a pair of jeans with a higher rise will give the illusion that your legs are longer.

For those whose measurements were equal, you can wear either high or low rise jeans depending on your preference and the overall look you want to achieve.

Recommended:
Lee curvy fit straight leg jean
Talbot straight leg (they have curvy fit too)

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Low pursuits

New to me
Talking stack is a meeting management approach I had not heard of before today. It's set up to allow all participants to speak and to avoid meeting dominance by a pushy few. I like the description except for the hand gestures. That seems like a step too far, too silly. And damn, if your group is too big or too loud for people to be heard then you have problems that hand gestures probably cannot solve.

Beet schemes
I have successfully used my crockpot to cook beets. Scrub the beets, wrap each one individually in a piece of foil with a glurp of olive oil and place in crockpot. Cook on medium low (? still trying to figure this out) for 4 to 8 hours until a knife pierces the beet easily. I was impatient and got a few firm or even crunchy beets. But beets can be eaten raw so undercooking was not a tragedy and they all tasted good in the brine I put them in. After a brief, lackluster search I haven't found the fridge pickle recipe I used originally. I'll transcribe it later from the paper in my recipe box. I added more sugar for the beets and threw in some cracked black peppercorns. I pickled some carrot slices with the leftover brine and had a good sour veggie week.

-----Lots of online TV has taken place lately.

Crazy Ex
I've watched more eps from the first season of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend. I particularly liked the episode where Pamela's marriage gets rekindled. But I am not sure I have it in me to get through the next six or seven eps to the end of the season. So much lying and self sabotage by characters I've become fond of, it's so frustrating.

Black
Nod has tried for quite a while to get me to join him in his love of the Raymond Reddington character on Blacklist. I resisted until the start of season 3 and now I find I'm there with him. I want it known that I disapprove of the high body count and disposable people in all these episodes. For example Liz's behavior on the boat in season 2 was highly problematic. But I've let go of the expectation that these are real people; clearly actual government agents would not behave this way. So I view it as a weird violent soap opera and that works for me. The presence of ye olde Jas. Spader helps. I have a mental block for the name of this series and always want to call it Black Hat or Black Fish or Black Anything But List.

Solvers Problem
After all the shooting and gore I am delighted to lighten up and watch some 30 Rock. I am so lucky that I haven't finished that series yet.



Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Sprout

No pancakes yesterday but I had some donuts and that filled the bill. I'm happy that it's March. My 'hairy baby' pot has sprouted and I'm enjoying watching the grass grow. I have a hollyhock sprouting and will cover it up for the two hard freezes to come this week. I'd love to see some blooms this year.

Got a reply from my San Antonio chica B that she still has a house after the tornadoes. She was driving through some of the worst of it though, so she has a story to tell. Extreme weather, here we are. I'm happy she didn't have property damage and is off to her cruise this month.

We are preparing to drive down to Austin/SA for spring break, leaving the 21st and coming back that Sunday the 26th. I won't see B there because of her cruise and I'm ambivalent. It's always fun to set out on a road trip. But neither of our cars is in extremely good condition. We're mostly going down to see Nod's college friends. They're friendly to me too and I enjoy them. But I feel like I'll be doing MIL and kid things rather than hanging with the my-age cohort. Also maybe I should just stay home and enjoy the quiet and save the pet sitting money. #hermitstyle

Bun just finished her Model UN sessions in Topeka. She got 'best delegate' in her council and had a good time overall. I'm proud. Kat missed out this year and I still feel badly about it. Since she started dishwashing she's already saved the money to go to Chicago next year. Last weekend she got to work the cold line and was happy about that change. I think she'll get to move on from dishwashing and work up front this summer. Good wishes to the cute little cafe that employs her.

The stomach flu knocked me down for a while. The recovery was slow, it felt as though I'd had surgery or something major. I resented it richly and complaining about it helped. Kat has a sore throat and cough and has been out of school two days. She's going to drag herself in for the short day and start the catching up process.

I just finished The Complete Dykes to Watch Out For vol. 1 and it was a lovely way to revisit the '90s. Is there a vol. 2? My search was inconclusive. Interesting to read about the political resistance in that era and see what matches the now and what's different. The book is one of the comic collection we got from Nod's good friend who died a few years ago. I think I should get a Hothead Paisan book to keep it company on our shelf. Oh, Chicken!


Friday, February 17, 2017

Pink

Judiciary
Feeling so warmly toward attorneys and judges and their support staff who are doing their jobs and upholding our laws.

Sweet
I made a valentine strawberries and cream pavlova. My first meringue cake! It came out in texture and everything. It could have been improved by fresh berries but this is winter. White and pink and yum.

To my surprise I found the meringue tooth-aching-ly sweet. It was 6 egg whites to a cup and a half of sugar and that ratio 1/4 cup of sugar per egg white is a common ratio. But here is someone who has experimented with reducing the sugar and gotten good results with 4 tsps of sugar per egg white. I'll try that next time I want to meringue out.

British discoveries
New to me blog voxturturis is explaining things. Things I have waited a long time to understand:
  • Link to an explanation of what a lime tree is in Europe. I knew they couldn't be citrus trees but hadn't understood that they are also called linden trees. Lovely scented blooms and dense even wood prized by woodworkers. I had hear of Berlin's Unter den Linden boulevard ('under the lime trees') and was confused because northern Europe is not in the citrus zone.
  • Why British housewives were so into cleaning the front step (and the flagstone in front of that) of the house. I knew it was a source of pride and that it was done daily. But why scrub it so often? Soot! This makes so much sense. We are lucky not to live in a city in the early throes of industrial expansion.
Hoarding for later
By Singing Light posted a list of fave novels with romance in them. With Gaudy Night starting it off, I am sure I need to look at these. I haven't read any of the other titles:

Gaudy Night by Dorothy L. Sayers

Sorcerer to the Crown by Zen Cho

The Scorpion Rules and The Swan Riders by Erin Bow

The Perilous Gard by Elizabeth Marie Pope

When the Moon Was Ours by Anna-Marie McLemore

Betsy & Joe by Maud Hart Lovelace

Chime by Franny Billingsley

A Civil Campaign by Lois McMaster Bujold

Everything Leads to You by Nina LaCour

The Medair duology by Andrea K. Höst

I just picked up a novel I had requested:  Aaronovitch's latest Peter Grant book . So exciting! Currently I am in the last third of All The Birds in the Sky which is a good read. 

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Good distractions

Serious cake
This citrus cake ends up tasting a little like a scone but with a lighter crumb. It was a success and didn't take much effort to whip up. I made it with tangelo rind and juice and I think you could use absolutely any citrus fruit at all. I can't remember where I got the recipe, I copied it out on paper with no attribution. Thank you, mystery cake recipe source!

Half a stick of butter, 4T, softened and creamed with
3/4 cup sugar
Beat in 2 eggs, one at a time
Add 1 T grated zest (this sounded like a lot to me, I used zest from one tiny tangelo and one medium orange) and 1 T juice from your citrus fruit of choice

Whisk together dry ingredients:
1 cup a.p. flour
1/4 cup corn meal
3/4 t baking powder
1/2 t baking soda
1/4 t salt

Add the dry ingredients to the batter alternating with:
2/3 cup plain yogurt thinned with some milk (or use buttermilk)

Pour in a greased cake pan, sprinkle some sugar on top, bake at 350° F for about 20 min, until a toothpick comes out clean.

It would also be good with a glaze but I was completely happy with it as is.


Towering letters
A game recommendation from kottke.org who says it's "an addictive little game that's like a cross between Boggle and Candy Crush" Spelltower, Maybe this will be a good change from my favorite evil indulgence Bubble Candy.


Disturbing folk
Parking this here to dip into in the future. The BBC's list of 10 of the most disturbing folk songs. And the counter suggestions of the FBookers who discussed it:

Also https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=puYl6kNMaSM
Here's the first version i ever heard https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KuCm_58pYas
Planxty - The Well Below The Valley

Much more disturbing I think but some variants related, you're right there! https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Maid_and_the_Palmer

How could they leave off The Two Sisters?

Yes, The Two Sisters was one of the first that sprang to mind for. Also whatever lineage "Son, Oh Son" (as done by Boiled In Lead) came from. They changed the verses so the brother doesn't get off scot free.
https://youtu.be/UMlaDcsWRy0

Boiled In Lead - Son O Son (live)

One of my favorites of theirs! Here's another excellent variant:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z3gEGkaq8dA

What Put the Blood?

The last word on "The Cruel Mother": https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=12jpop7T8J4

The Twa Corbies/The Three Ravens/Willie McGee McGaw

Lyke-Wake Dirge

Down in the Forest

The Water Lily ...
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NJIHXb5jxPc