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


Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Lemur posing

Bring me my lemur.

Detail from the portrait of Mr. and Mrs. Cortaud and their pet lemur found at the Gods and Foolish Grandeur blog. The artist is Leonard Campbell Taylor and it's worth clicking through to see the 1930s hoity toityness of this couple and their room.

Long haired cat Zing is the closest lemur substitute in our house. She wanted me to get up and entertain her this morning at 6:10 after my alarm went off. Or maybe she was lodging a complaint about the outside temperature being below 20F. At any rate I ignored her nibbling and went back to sleep.

For the last week I've woken up with at least one blocked ear. Usually it resolves itself by midday and I feel better in the afternoon. I've encountered many people with terrible colds in the last week or so and I am hoping my luck holds.

Who is collecting
Very interesting talk on educational technology in terms of the present political climate. There is so much personal information collected about every student now. It's stored in a patchwork of locations, more and more in the cloud and not under direct school control (and of course not under student control). There are businesses trying to leverage all that info to sell new products to schools. The talk points out the evolution of information gathering tech and how it was used in, yes, wait for it, Nazi Germany. I hadn't considered all of these angles before. I agree with the conclusion that personal relationships both in and out of the classroom are what needs to be valued. To get us into the future.

Franchise opportunity
I try not to read Mimi Smartypants posts too soon because they are few and far between these days. She recently tweeted a link to a 6 year old post that is high value. Sustainable walrus farming will be making me smile for the rest of the day.




Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Onward

Not feeling as scared and teary as I was on Sunday. Guess it will come and go. As I told my husband, I suppose the gift that this administration is giving us is the clarification of our values. I feel more confident saying that I support access to education and healthcare for everyone to build a stronger society. I believe in compassion and caring for the most vulnerable in our society. All anarcho capitalists should go to their private tropical islands and leave the rest of us in peace.

I'm reading Headlong, a novel about how the British royal family was wiped out in a freak Hindenburg-like accident and an obscure chorus boy from Cornwall was found to be the next in line for the throne. I haven't quite worked out the tone. It has made me chuckle a couple of times.

I laughed much of the way through The Flood Girls. That's something to cherish in January. A recovering alcoholic comes back to her tiny godforsaken Montana hometown to make amends and decide if she should stay there. The small town characters are cussed and low-down and I like how much the author obviously enjoys them and their mayhem. But there are plenty of plot problems such as -- Laverna couldn't go pee by herself with two broken arms, sorry. And then there is a sacrifice near the end of the book that is a pointless plea to add pathos and meaning to the other characters' lives. It doesn't work and you should not have made that choice Mr. MFA Dumbhead. Recommended for the first three quarters, then lose the book.

Looking forward to watching British History's Biggest Fibs.

Monday, January 30, 2017

Emergency

Best explanation of the ramifications of the removal of the Joint Chiefs of Staff from the National Security Council in favor of Steve Bannon. It's from metafilter commenter Kafziel:
Okay, so, we used to a have a system in place for determining when to target someone for killing, especially when that person is a US citizen. The Pentagon, the Joint Chiefs, and the National Security Council all had to agree on it for the use of force to happen. It was a big deal. 
Under Obama, this system was replaced with the Disposition Matrix. The Pentagon and the Joint Chiefs were removed explicitly from the decision-making process, and the decision was left entirely in the hands of the National Security Council, based on a complicated set of priorities which are not public. This is less of a shift than it seems, because since the National Security Council has existed, the Joint Chiefs have never not been on it, and the Pentagon answers to them, so not a lot actually changed, but it still wasn't a great move for a lot of reasons. 
One of those reasons is becoming clear now, because the Joint Chiefs are no longer on the National Security council. It consists entirely of Donald Trump, Reince Priebus, and Steve Bannon. So the decision to approve the targeted killing of a US citizen lies entirely and exclusively in the hands of Donald Trump, the head of the RNC's campaign finances, and a Nazi propagandist. Without review or oversight. 
This is a very, very bad thing.
Other commenters jump right in to predict war with Iran or China. I am reassured by the lack of consensus on those predictions. But I still feel pale and faint. 


Thursday, January 26, 2017

Off and stumbling

Inaugural
Year has started. Semester has started. Presidential term has started. We are underway. Hang on to your hats.

Pinking in Topeka
Our pioneer mother shows off her pussy hat:




































Ride impaired
Both our cars took damage this week. Last Wednesday evening I hit a deep and vicious pothole that did for one tire. Bang! Scream! I was lucky that I was still able to pick up and deliver kids and get us home without incident. It was flat by morning and wheel was cracked. Just got a replacement wheel put on at noon. Whew. Got in the other car on Monday and after backing out of the driveway I heard the sound of the muffler falling down to the pavement. I managed to park on the street without ripping it off. Nod bungy-corded it back up and we're waiting to hear from the mechanic. That's the car we're thinking about driving to Texas in March. Hm.

Shhhedule
I'm having trouble setting a date to get a massage. My esteemed life partner gave me a xmas present of time with a great bodyworker who is also a friend. And I can't seem to get the day and time nailed down. I guess I'll treat this as an opportunity to practice. Surely I can get this on the calendar.


Monday, January 16, 2017

Entertain Me

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

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

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

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




Thursday, January 12, 2017

Whip up those turtles

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Boooooooks

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

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

My faves according to those pesky star ratings:

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

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

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Peaceful booms

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

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

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

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