Wednesday, February 23, 2022


KING RANCH CHICKEN without the canned soup. It starts with 'melt a stick of butter' so you know it will taste good. It calls for chile powder, cayenne, black pepper, green chiles, Rotel (tomatoes and green chiles) and 4 cloves of garlic. Flavor will happen despite the butter and cream. I couldn't go all the way to heavy cream, I just used whole milk which seemed plenty. It took me two days (I had to cook the chicken and stock the first day) and was wonderful. My baking dish isn't quite large enough, I added an overflow dish that was mostly just sauce.  

Am reading H is for Hawk by Helen Macdonald. The book describes her training of a goshawk, her mourning for her father and includes reflection on T.H. White's goshawk book. The back flap informs me that the author is a poet which makes sense. It contains many things that are catnip to me: super British narrative, specialized animal vocabulary, natural history, the revelation that T.H. White was a closeted kinky academic (makes sense), a poetic (wordy!) style used for restrained descriptions of emotion. But I'm having some trouble surrendering to its charms. I'm sorry that THW was so ignorant and mean to his hawk and I don't really want to read about that. I'm not sure I want to read about the author's grief for her father. It is a worthy subject but a land that I can't visit. Also the high anglican poeticisms are getting to me. Parts of the hawk are thrush colored (brown?). The terrified hawk's breath smells of "pepper and musk and burned stone". Brb gonna burn some stone and smell it.  

"That is why the girl who was me when I was small loved watching birds. She made herself disappear, and then in the birds she watched, took flight." No defense against that. Oh god: the hawk "lifts herself into a vast, frothy mop of feathers, holds them there for an instant and shakes them all back into place. A rouse. It is a sign of contentment." Ahhh. "She looks smaller and feels heavier in this mood, as if fear had a weight to it, as if pewter had been poured into her long and airy bones." So much for resistance. I'll just be lying on the ground while this book runs roughshod over me now.  

Freddie the adopted cat is filling out as he should considering all the eating and sleeping. When he came to us he looked like a 2 dimensional long-legged cat body with a round cat head on it - odd. Now he looks like a 3D cat all over and I'm glad that he's been able to relax that much. I've been able to lift him briefly and reposition him on the bed or onto a couch. But I'm still dreading trying to put him in a bag to go to the vet. I've put that off until the end of April, hoping the elapsed time will help. He hasn't had any interest in the cardboard scratching post that Zing liked. Even catnip doesn't interest him! I found a seagrass mat that I put on the couch he likes to perch on while looking out of the window. He hasn't fell to scratching on it but has accepted its presence so we'll see. He seems less destructive with his claws than Zing even though he's bigger. Helpfully, he knows how to retract them which she never could do.  

Tired Person
I got so bored last weekend. I realized that I wanted to interact with people and make art. Community theatre suddenly loomed large in my imagination. But I'm still wary of covid risk. Our team lead and his wife caught it last week from his son who got it at preschool. I chafed at working at home 3 days a week but got more used to it over the month. This week I've added one more day in the office (a majority!). 

At home I'm still working at my tidy-up project. My putting away dishes in the morning score is good. I've started talking with the spouse about when we can do the 5 minute living room attacks. I've looked through three boxes of crystal/stemware and repacked two for the next generation. I've kept the upstairs cat box cleaned - sharing the office with it is a mighty motivator.  

I am winter-discouraged from exercise right now. Indoor stuff doesn't appeal at all. But I still bought myself some giant running shoes to replace the ones where my toes hit the end. I wonder whether I'll be able to jog regularly without knee pain. When we get the next mild stretch I'll try some walk/jogs on the gravel paths at the wetlands.

Thursday, February 10, 2022

Stretching the wings

Today is a high ambition day, full of plotting and strategy. Some days are for doing only the immediate. During those times I can't imagine the future. Other days (like now) I feel like a fledging raptor, stretching my wings and looking out at the space I'm going to conquer. 

The first space will be our house. I realized how to put up some pictures on the wall that I've been dithering about. My spouse wanted to put up a new rectangular piece of art next to an existing rectangle. And it wasn't going to sing. But I have a couple of oval things and a small rectangle that I can put up on the other side of the existing piece. And it will be much better balanced and overall good to look at. 

Tidy oop
I just read a book online (How to Manage your Home...) and have decided it's my next guide to a more fun and serene way to tackle housekeeping. It is not to diminish the author's achievements when I say that I love a good mommy blogger who talks about the challenges of maintaining a home and parenting. Someone able to engagingly describe the frustrations and satisfactions of the small stage. This book and her original blog project was a way to grapple with her own strengths and challenges when it came to keeping house. The distractions with what to keep and how to work around it, questions of value and guilt felt very familiar. I liked how constructive and blame-free the strategy is: build the foundational habits and routines that make each cleaning event require less time and effort. Simple, right? Some very tidy people clean as a way to manage anxiety. I don't envy that, I have felt it momentarily.   

Despite the sexism inherent in our current mode of existence, this is a worthy subject for any adult sentient biped. Because we all have to keep house in some sense or another. I find it more natural to read books and talk about them than to keep up a steady rhythm of cleaning. I've improved over the years (parenthood is quite a teacher) but it's still pretty rudimentary at our house. I am going to try this for a week and keep it to myself until I've built up some momentum. I hope the ADHDers I live with will get something out of it eventually. If not, at least I'll have reenergized my nagging. I do run out of the will to nag after a while.  

I learned today that Japan includes free education in their constitution and that all parents are required to send their children to a state approved school. There is no such thing as homeschooling in Japan. I approve entirely. This came up in a conversation with a Japanese coworker about the local district's budget crisis. There is a discussion of closing some of the elementary and middle schools to consolidate and save money. I hope they can find a way forward that avoids closures as much as possible. I worry that we've gotten our kids through American public school right before the roof caves in on that institution. 

We brought home the shy cat from the shelter. He was reallly shy at first and didn't want to interact, very easily startled. After a week, we've seen a lot of progress. He's stomping around our house now and yelling for exercise. He also runs up and down the steps and looks out the windows and yells. Nod thinks he's going to demand to go outside soon. Tough crap, kitty, you're an indoor citizen. He's so different from Zing. I miss her still. We settled on the Honourable Frederick Threepwood as a name after watching a bunch of Blandings. (Oh that second season is a delight!) Freddy weighs 13 pounds (so far) and is a long legged customer. He likes to throw himself down on the wooden floor -- we can hear the thunk of his hip hitting.