Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Mucho maintenance

During June I got my teeth cleaned, my vision checked (ordered new glasses) and am going for a mammogram today. Deferred maintenance is getting addressed. I feel like I should go ahead while I can do it. It is possible that our town could lock down in the near future. Mandatory mask order starts tomorrow. I hope there aren't any scuffles about it, that is so undignified. Not to mention selfish and cruel. 

Thoughts in ears
Just listened to two Gimlet podcasts. One uncomfortable one about U.S. white people sending unsolicited small amounts of money (via venmo or paypal) to black people recently: The Least You Could Do. I went in thinking that was a harmless minor form of reparations but have decided to take all the speakers' discomfort into account. Guess the guilty white money should be sent to non profits as is traditional. The second podcast is about the role of exercise in health. It has convincing info about the cancer- and dementia-fighting aspects of regular exercise. 

Work remains
That said, I failed to do any more exercise after my previous post. Last week included a little light insomnia and I realized that I need to commit to at least leaving the house for a walk every day. I don't handle losing sleep well and may as well prevent it if I can. I may need to create a new secret project to get my brain engaged. Or maybe give a pep talk to my beautiful natural killer cells while I'm exercising, like the researcher included in that podcast.

Love stories
Finished Fleabag season two and had many feelings. I deeply enjoyed the metafilter discussion of this season immensely. So good to soak up some fellow fan reactions even though I did not enjoy it when it first came out. I had initially thought that there might be future seasons. But after watching the final episode I dearly hope not. It was a beautiful ending.   

The Expanse, a.k.a. Space, is still giving good tv. But I hate the 'Bobbie on the wrong side of the law' storyline. And I think Holden's action on Ilus was stupid and provocative after the experience of the Ring. There was one episode where I cordially hated all of them for a bit.   

I am uncool and very looking forward to watching Hamilton on the Mouse channel on July 4. 

Wednesday, June 17, 2020

Nod to solstice

We have been enjoying low 90s and fairly dry which is A plus June weather in Kansas. Even had breezes yesterday and today. We've been making our weekly quota of lake swimming while avoiding most other lake goers. Peaches and strawberries have been good. Social distanced socializing still kinda sucks but it's better than nothing.

Plant happiness
Peapods, sunflower, cornflowers, mint in a pot.

Sewing project
I took apart a pair of drawstring pj pants that I had worn holes in. They were very simple and my favorite, thus the holes. I used a sheet that had a hole in the middle to cut out pieces. After teaching myself to use the sewing machine again I ran up some seams. Then I laughed and cackled because I had created one big tube instead of two legs. After ripping back and trying again I achieved the correct number of legs! A 200 percent improvement! It was so much fun and the perfect project since I didn't need to end up with a garment that would be seen by humans outside my house. I finished them and wore them to bed. Pajama triumph!

Physical maintenance minutia
Exercising outdoors in the heat of summer requires    effort. I want to do it first thing in the morning when I wake up since the temperature is best then. The other option would be to wait for sundown. That's quite late right now and I would rather not exercise at night. So Tuesday I went out first thing before breakfast. It was fine, the air was fairly cool and only two other people were on the track. I didn't love it and I didn't feel great even after eating some cereal. I don't know if it's a blood sugar thing or if it was just a crummy day. I'm going to try again tomorrow morning. Maybe I can do this two working days a week. Two sounds better then three at this point. I may need to prep breakfast the night before which seems like a terrible burden.

Wednesday, June 3, 2020

Keep it small, keep it gentle

I'm going to give blood today and that's the most cheerful thing I have had on my calendar in a long time.

There are bees at the Lazy Evaluation Ranch and I am so happy to share in the beekeeping joy. Nod and I walked through a clover field brimming with blossoms last week. I had not known before that you could smell clover flowers when there are enough of them. Deeelightful.

I'm mostly keeping away from news until I feel stronger. I did a short guided metta meditation last night that was humble and exactly what I needed. Thank you, Sharon Salzberg.   

Friday, May 22, 2020

Crank up those Brits

I can't resist, they have my number. I love to listen to those smart and snarky Brits tell me about ...whatever they want to.

Comedy nerds talking about stuff I've mostly never heard of: https://play.acast.com/s/ruleofthree . I started following Matt Lucas (Little Britain) on twitter and listening to all the different versions of Thank You, Baked Potato. That is my quarantine anthem. He was interviewed on Rule of Three and I followed those breadcrumbs. The two-parter with Eddie Izzard is my kind of ear candy (link to Part I). The thought that there is an underground UK cult love of Third Rock From the Sun amuses me greatly.

Travel Man is Richard Ayodade taking quick trips to various world destinations. On beyond Finnish salty licorice he offers us some lovely sights for the eye and some hacky tourist facts and plenty of odd enthusiasm. He's allergic to horses which made the carriage ride in Vienna very uncomfortable! Chris O'Dowd is his companion for that trip, a mini IT Crowd reunion.

Charlie Booker recaps the pandemic from the UK perspective. It's long, 44 minutes, in a good way. I laughed a lot while watching it this morning in my solo office.

The Expanse on prime is not British but hooked me anyway. Canadian Syfy series with excellent actors mostly new to me. I get the feeling that there's a significant percentage of Canada's drama jobs devoted to space opera. Bless. The Danish gets the hat tip for that one too. Nod and I are basically counting the minutes til the next episode.

The semester wraps today for my job. Next fiscal year, which starts July 1, the university expects to lose at least a quarter of its current operating budget. Into the Unknown indeed. Oldest finished her last two AP tests today and is truly done with high school.

Peonies opened triumphantly for my birthday. Dark red, white with yellow centers (fried eggs), double pinks and pale pinks. I really enjoyed watching them. Too bad that one clump is right by our bins, we don't have another good place for them. I looked up transplanting peonies and I don't think I will try that. I'll just crop out the garbage cans from the photos. Nod's spinach and peas are doing well. He also strung a clothesline between our two sheds. He's got quite a to do list and I'm enjoying the results.

Friday, May 8, 2020

Ears and eyes

I've found a podcast and am happily swimming through the past episodes. Somehow I missed John Moe's The Hilarious World of Depression, interviews with comedians (and others) who have depression. Lots of my faves here with Peter Sagal, Maria Bamford and Rhett Miller who even wrote the theme song. <3 div="">
I'm not able to listen to NPR without my blood pressure spiking or yelling epithets at sound bites from the GOP. So I have been looking for other things to let my ears/brain enjoy while I'm doing manual tasks. I still am working my way through the MBMBAM back catalog. I'm in 2011 episodes right now and don't expect to get current... well, at all. Part of the appeal is listening to these goofballs riffing from so long ago. 

I'm also giving jazz a try. Jazz will definitely be flattered by my attention. I like a nice piano and brushes number like Grant Green's Idle Moments - ooh there's even some vibraphone action in this one. One of the CDs I checked out from the library right before it shut down was a Lester Young album. The upbeat numbers are good for washing and dressing. But the slow ones just make me want to lie down and watch a thin thread of cigarette smoke rise to the ceiling.  

Yesterday I found the yutub channel ContraPoints and I may never recover. Philosophy studies, beauty aesthetic, characters and more. Ominous, smart to 11, funny with sharp edges, sexy, this woman has it going on. I couldn't follow everything I was hearing in the first episode I watched, but that just made me want more. Interview here with context for why she makes anti fascist videos look so good. I have fallen under a spell.    

Monday, May 4, 2020

Writing, songs and bread

Meta filter post with links to online archive projects anyone can participate in. Lots of opportunities to transcribe cursive writing.

From the live-pandemic-remote-from-home-fundraiser performances for Sondheim's 90th birthday my favorite performance was Melissa Errico's 'Children and Art' from Sunday in the Park with George. So quiet and sweet and entirely assured. It's at about 40 min. in the full show. Here's a cabaret recording.

Next is Aaron Tveit's 'Marry Me a Little' from Company.

NYT review of the event.

Bread, man
I just made another no-knead loaf but this time I used a bare bones recipe: 3 cups flour, 1.75 t salt, .5 t yeast, 1.5 cups water. Mix and let rise 12-18 hours. Tuck in a ball, bake in hot iron pot at 450, covered for 30 min, uncovered for 15. I liked that it uses much less yeast than my normal recipe. But the dough was so wet and gloopy this morning. I had to mix in a bunch more flour and still kind of poured it into the parchment paper lined pot. It baked up fine but I will have to do some more experimentation. 

Renee's Oatmeal Bread
Savoury bread made w porridge oats (just oatmeal for my American friends) when you run out of flour. I added raisins this time but you can leave them out.

400g oats (Little less than 4 1/2cups)
2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
500g plain yogurt (2cups)
50 ml milk or water (1/4 cup)
2 Tablespoons mixed seeds

For reference, here are ingredients and technique from  https://www.thebreadshebakes.com/2016/06/best-oat-bread-recipes/
100% Oat Bread

4 cups porridge oats
1/2 tsp bicarb of soda
1 cup walnuts crushed
1 egg beaten
1/2  cup milk
1/4 cup water
500 g natural yoghurt

In a large bowl, combine the porridge oats with the bicarb of soda and mix
Add the crushed walnuts and mix further
In a separate bowl, combine the beaten egg, milk, water and natural yoghurt and whisk together
Combine the dry with the wet ingredients
Place in a baking tin
Bake at 375° for about an hour
Cool on a wire rack

And in my search I found this which I want to eat right now. Not sure I'll get around to baking it but it's not impossible.  https://www.kingarthurflour.com/recipes/heart-of-winter-loaf-recipe


1 1/2 cups (177g) King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
1 1/2 cups (170g) King Arthur Premium 100% Whole Wheat Flour
3/4 cup (71g) oat flour or ground oatmeal
1/3 cup (32g) golden flax meal*
1/4 cup (35g) Baker's Special Dry Milk
2 tablespoons (25g) sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons instant yeast
1 3/4 cups (397g) lukewarm water
*Or substitute 1/3 cup additional whole wheat flour + 2 tablespoons vegetable oil.


1 large egg white, lightly beaten
Artisan Bread Topping, or the seeds of your choice

Combine all of the dough ingredients, mixing and kneading to form a smooth, sticky dough.

Cover the dough, and let it rise for about an hour; it should become puffy.

Divide the dough in half, and shape each half into a 10" oval loaf. Place the loaves on a lightly greased or parchment-lined baking sheet.

Cover the pan, and allow the loaves to rise for about 90 minutes, or until they've increased in size by about one-third.

Just before baking, brush with a lightly beaten egg white, then sprinkle with seeds. Slash each loaf diagonally three times.

Bake the loaves in a preheated 400°F oven for 25 to 30 minutes, or until the interior registers 200°F on an instant-read thermometer.

Remove the bread from the oven, and transfer it to a rack to cool. Store fully cooled bread at room temperature, well-wrapped, for several days; freeze for longer storage.

Tuesday, April 28, 2020


Time off
My working-from-home saga began on March 18. I took my first time off the afternoon of 4/21. I had a sore throat and ear ache and felt sad and low energy. Napping, soup and an early bedtime was a good use of my time. I felt better  the next day if not all the way to shiny. Weird to take sick leave (at home) from my job (working at home).

Surges past
I read this on twitter: 'in 1918 the second wave of the Spanish Flu reportedly killed 20-50 million. The first wave only killed 3-5 million' and wondered about the accuracy and the cause and effect. This page gave me more on the initial emergence of the illness in the spring and then the hammer down wave in the fall of 1918. It helped to have a war and troops traveling internationally. There's still a lot that we don't know about that disease. Viruses are so small they could not be perceived before the 1930s when a microscope powerful enough was developed. This CDC page has a nice graphic on the three waves - there was a third spike in late winter/early spring before the disease went away. More history links on the left menu of the CDC page.

Predicting the future
We are trying to help our oldest daughter decide between a college in Chicago and one in Los Angeles. She is an absolute hard-working star and is able to choose between two excellent scholarships to quality schools. My priorities are my own and I'm trying not to play devil's advocate at her too much. I think she's leaning toward Chicago which pleases my parental radius of control - we could drive out and go get her in less than a day if needed. But the school in LA is offering a January start which seems more reasonable to me than having to 'attend' remote 'classes' in the fall. Fall in-person classes would be a risk to the faculty and staff as well as students. In my opinion the state of CA has its shit together more than IL (healthcare, public welfare). 

I decided that I like referring to the divine as the Infinite. I use 'gods' sometimes but can't say that I am drawn to polytheism transactions - what a lot of work keeping track of who needs supplication now! I can't warm up to the Void and thinking of the Universe has worked for me in the past but it conjures a star field image for me in a distracting way. The word 'infinite' sidesteps my brain's picture-generating labeler and leaves me contemplative. The Infinite accepts my love and allows me to believe that it loves me back.