Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Holy Crap! (Books, not SCROTUS Ranting)

I love this book.

I've been reading a lot lately (while staying away from any form of dystopian fiction while we are living it), and listening to a lot of audiobooks and finding gems on Kindle. I'm currently listening to Big Little Lies, and holy crap, I cannot turn it off. It is so dead-on perfect in so many small ways. The very real mommy frustrations with their kids as they navigate the minor things that can trigger tantrums, the "perfect" school weirdness, it's sooo good; funny and sad and mysterious, and the story is told in a combination of  after-the-fact interview snippets and the POV of the three women at the heart of it.  HBO is making it into a miniseries? I can totally see that working. But I'm weird and old school; I prefer to read (or listen to, I'm flexible) the writer's words before I see what Hollywood did with it. I love the Harry Potter movies, but the books are so much better, etc. I have Hidden Figures  on my shelf for next, because though I know I will love the movie because I've heard all the rave reviews, I want to read the book FIRST.

And I usually have a book or three out via Kindle Unlimited, and I found the start of what I hope will be an VERY long series:  A Quiet Life in the Country.  Lady Hardcastle and Florence Armstrong, her maid, are the best thing since Amelia Peabody picked up her parasol, but entirely different.  Their relationship is delightful - it's a partnership with an interesting backstory that is being revealed bit by bit in quick references to their adventures before Lady Hardcastle "retired".  Flo somehow picked up "a bit" of martial arts while they were making their way across Asia, after Lady Hardcastle's husband was murdered in India.  (Somewhere along the way, Flo got trained by some sort of martial arts master, but we aren't told that story yet.) The banter between the Lady and her maid is quick and and funny, and the village doesn't know what to make of them, but the local constabulary is sharper and nicer than the stereotypical country bumblers and quickly figure out that these two newcomers are useful and not what they seem on the surface. By the second book (I'm halfway through it now, because yes, I do juggle multiple books at once, doesn't everyone?) the police are bringing her in on what might or might not be a new murder, after a total sonofabitch local farmer goes face down in his lunch on market day in the village.  Lots of people weren't sorry to see him dead, but they're all really nice people, and maybe it was natural causes because the lab reports for possible poisoning are taking forever and are of course unsophisticated (it's 1908, I think), but still, it has to be investigated, so the local cops sort of informally hand it off. Then there's a really pointless-seeming burglary at a sports club and they're asked to take a look at the crime scene, and I've just gotten past the seance where a visiting "Madame Whatever" spiritualist does a show for fun and somehow appears to have conjured a spectral man who accused a newcomer to the village of murder unrelated to the guy who did the faceplant in  his lunch.  And there's lots of baking and tea and gossip.

So. Much. Fun. Seriously, I'm loving them and can't wait for the third, due this summer.  I want at least twenty. (No pressure, Mr. Kinsey! But really, don't stop!)

Meanwhile, back in Trumpistan - we need to not let up on the focus on Russia. Yes, the memes and all the mockery are fun and needed and are keeping us sane, but the investigative journalism is hair-raising, which is why there's a full court press by the administration to de-legitimize the press, including that bullshit survey everyone is urging each other to take on Facebook.  Don't bother. I know it's fun to take stuff like that to screw with them, because the survey itself was so blatantly biased, but it's a distraction that will have zero impact on the future.  We need to keep our eyes on the ball, and the ball is Russia and the Republicans in Congress no longer caring about the debt, the deficit, and the Constitution.  Support the media sources that are digging into the story, our free press and the intelligence community are the best tools we have right now, and don't get distracted by the daily outrages.  There's bigger shoes about to drop.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

So Many DAMN Things!

First: Sophie and Ellie.  I do hope they tolerate each other someday.

I interrupted a love fest.  They were nuzzling faces and touching each other's paws, like the bestest of friends.  Sophie's reaction to my picking up my phone for a picture is so annoyed tween girl: "Really, MOM??"

Sophie's now into week two of runny poo.  Not uncontrollable at all; she holds it until she's outside, but when she lets go, oh my! Not normal.  Over the last year or so I've tried prescription foods and grain free and all sorts of things, and this weekend I tried cooking for her. Ground buffalo (novel protein), plain mushy sweet potato, and a few minced steamed green beans. No grain, low fat, she LOVES it and cleans her plate in a flash, but we'll see if it helps with this issue.  I read an article by a vet who says that yes, dogs can develop chicken allergies, and it can take weeks to get it out of their systems. Chicken was the food of choice that kept Murphy alive for so long, it never occurred to me that it might be an issue. She's not losing weight and she's perky and normal, so I'm not worried, just concerned. We need to find an answer to this mystery because this ain't normal.  Mom has a car payment and would like to free up some money to travel and stuff, and I'm really hoping to avoid the veterinary gastro specialist visit.

I got my hair cut today. I wanted to go short-short and had some ideas and brought photos on Pinterest, but left it in the hands of my talented (and opinionated) stylist.  My hair is SHORT now. Think Dame Judi Dench, but brown from a box.  It's SHORT. Really, really short. I got a bit concerned when the clippers came out and she sort of shaved the back of my head with a long guard. I've had a lot of short haircuts, but they never broke out the clippers like that; it's always been scissored.  This is going to take some getting used to, but as she said, my hair grows super fast and I know in two weeks this will look very different, but right now I'm freaking out. I'm now wishing I didn't have a corporate job, because this would look awesome with a fun tint like maybe purple.  I'm adjusting. It's fun and different, but yeah, I'll like it better when it's 3/4 inch longer all over.  Right now, I'm freaking right the fuck out, and when I finally have enough hair to need a trim, I think I need a new stylist. I really don't need surprise haircuts.

Of course I shouldn't complain, because we're barely past the halfway point of February and my A/C is on again. I think this is going to be a brutal summer, and I'll be welcoming having no hair to frizz or fuss with.  But at least 3/4 of an inch longer than this.  Because DAMN, my hair has never, ever been this extremely short. 

I was sick on Friday. Stuff is going around the office. I actually got up and got ready for work feeling really iffy. I showered and made my lunch and then leaned into the mirror and looked at my eyes and no, I wasn't going to work, this is not something to power through. My head felt like it was barely on its hinges and wanted to fall off when I leaned over to hook Sophie's leash. I indulged being sick all day, drinking  copious amounts of tea and barely moving from the couch for anything but dog walks, and woke up Saturday human again.  I felt ambition for the first time in a while, and started doing some rearranging and de-cluttering.

I have two of those plastic zippered protective clothing bags hanging in my closet. I decided to move one of them to the office walk-in closet to get it out of the way, so I unloaded it, and revisited clothes that have been out of sight, out of mind, because they are too fucking tight to wear.  And you know what? Shame and guilt are not entirely bad. Shame and guilt can be motivating.  I have a fortune in quality office-worthy slacks and skirts that just don't fit, and while I bought these nice quality items on sale, generally half off or less, often for Target prices because I do know how to pounce on sales, they are doing me no good at all right now.  TEN stinking pounds will make the difference, but it's a ten pounds I haven't been able to shake in a long time.  I'm feeling very focused right now. I have clothes I love that are hanging neglected in the dark. They need me to focus!

My daughter is an inspiration. She had put on quite a bit of weight and has been diligently working on getting in shape again, despite a full-time job, a 5 year old, and going back to school yet again.  She did a couch to 5K  and is running the 5K at the Disney Princess Marathon next weekend, with an eye toward the half marathon next year.  I'm not ever going to be a runner, but my co-workers and I have put together our own office challenges to keep us focused on moving. I am not buying new office clothes when I have other ways to spend that money.  My co-workers and I are doing Fitbit challenges, and I'm feeling very motivated.

I will spare you a political rant. You can probably fill it in for yourself at this point.

Monday, February 13, 2017

Hey, I'm just checking: (updated)

Am I allowed to sound angry yet?

Discussing National Security
in the middle of his club, which has a $200k membership fee.  One of the members posted social media pictures posed with the guy who carries "the football" for the love of GOD! Not only is this just totally batshit crazy and evidence that his team has NO fucking idea how to conduct the business of the nation, but imagine what the Japanese are thinking right now? How will other nations' security people trust us about anything, when this amateur hour clusterfuck is being laughed at all over the world right now?

Forcing an American citizen by birth, a freaking NASA scientist, to hand over his phone
Because why, he has a funny name that sounds like he's one a them "furriners"?  He's an American who works for the JPL! You don't think he has already been through deep security checks the Customs people haven't had to do?  Who the hell is in charge, anywhere?

I'm not even going to go into the dozen other daily outrages, and we're only three weeks in. I know, it feels a lot longer.  So yeah, this is why I'm perhaps sounding a bit peeved, and will continue to mention rant about these things because this is the biggest crisis this country has ever seen. We really do need to be paying attention and getting pissed off and above all, not letting up on the pressure. They need to know every day that we see them, we know what they are, and we are not going to accept it. Wait and see isn't a choice.

UPDATE: Flynn resigned and that's a good start, but it's pretty damn clear he wasn't acting alone. This is going to remain ugly for the foreseeable future.

Alarming Animal Update:

Ellie can open cabinets.  I feel fear. So far, she's only breached the vanity cabinets in her bathroom, the room that hasn't been remodeled.  When I was a child I really wanted a pet raccoon.  Wish granted.

Concerning Animal Update:

Sophie's runny yellow poop made an unexpected reappearance over the weekend. No changes in diet, no new stress, just suddenly, the squirt gun of angry yellow poop fired again, and has fired for a couple of days in a row.  It's not uncontrollable; she hasn't done it in the house (where she neatly deposits it in the tiled shower in my bathroom)  in months. But when it happens it's not normal.

I remembered at last that when Murphy was first having issues, Vet Boy added a quarter of a Pepcid to his meds to calm the gaseous innards. We've started that. So far, so good - poop is no longer yellow, and no longer fired at high pressure, but still far from normal.  To recap: she's been through extensive blood tests and sophisticated poop tests and all sorts of tests, and short of spending money I don't have for a veterinary gastro specialist, my beloved and highly trusted vet is on board with messing around, tweaking diet, looking for the key. Her weight is holding, she's enthusiastically eating, loves treats and walks, she's FINE, other than the abnormal poopage. She didn't poop in the house while I was at work all day, she was very pissed at me when I cut her walk short tonight because I had to pee and had to cook dinner.  She's chipper and normal, and nobody has any idea.  Right now she's snoring comfortably on the old futon couch in my home office. She's a mystery, but a contented one.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Oh My.

I'm so glad I'm not a big kid blogger who deals with all sorts of commenter drama; it's exhausting.  I did some deep yoga cleansing breaths and still wanted to respond.  I focused on spending the afternoon at Disney soaking up this perfect day, and also my search for a freaking written PDF crochet pattern online. (More on that later.)

I seriously don't want Jim Wright's life.  He gets actual death threats from actual neo-Nazis. I'm feeling blessed to have the occasional dose of tone policing, though that's annoying enough.  I'm sensitive to my tone, I really am, and I went back a full month of stuff to see whether I was sounding "constantly angry" and, nope, that was definitely not me being angry.  I said I was sad, disappointed and pissed off, yes, but always with a plan to NOT feel so bad, and ideas about stuff to do to fix this train wreck.  I did say I wasn't going to quit being an angry grandma because my granddaughters' futures are at stake.  Still true.

You know what's pretty much guaranteed to make me angry?  A lecture from a reader who feels entitled to scold me like I'm a child who was rude to the grownups and SO DISAPPOINTING. And if I could just change my tone, I could be redeemed. A few choice responses were composed in my head and then discarded, because that person isn't reading anymore, so why waste the energy?

And right now I truly feel more positive than I have since the day after the election!  Stuff is happening all over the country, people are more engaged and focused than they have been in a long time. It's fantastic.

I've never been a big Twitter fan; bossylittledogs has an account but I rarely tweet and mostly read. I am an even bigger J.K. Rowling fan now, if that's possible. She's hilarious and savage.  If Uncle George Takei can figure out the Twitter Machine, I suppose I can too.  I'm still mostly reading and rarely tweeting, because I feel like I'm wading through a sewer in flip-flops and a long skirt. I hold my skirts up and tiptoe delicately, because there's a whole lot of crazy in those waters.

Yesterday was absolutely drop-dead gorgeous - cloudless skies and mid-70s, one of those days that make visitors from the Midwest go home and put their house on the market because OMG the weather is AMAZING in WINTER!  April, May, June, July, August, September, October, November and occasionally early December come as a rude shock.  But yesterday was truly perfect, and it didn't take much thinking to bail on housework after half a day's earnest effort and head for the Magic Kingdom.

Getting into and out of the park was a bit of a slog this time. Something was up with the monorail system, and after waiting quite a while in a non-moving train, we were shooed off it and told to take the ferry.  The ferry really is the way to go, IMO.

The park was busy but not awful, and after a few hours of roller coasters and a huge lobster roll with homemade potato chips for dinner (I really must start taking more food photos) I felt satisfactorily Disney-ed.  I do regret not taking any time to shop. I'm still carrying around a Disney gift card from Christmas, and I intend to spend it on something silly and indulgent. But we all know I'll be going back very soon, I'll get around to spending it.

Today's mission is to complete the tasks I didn't do yesterday. My gray roots are truly epic and need serious attention. I also need a better haircut. My stylist did what I asked her to do last time and I shouldn't be trusted to decide these things.  It looks like crap, neither here nor there, not really short, not really anything, looks like one of those "growing in" styles you suffer through in an in-between hair stage, not a style I'd choose on purpose.  I was looking at all the very-short-haired women at Disney and decided it's time to go for it again.  Something like the old picture in my sidebar feels right. I really need to do some housekeeping on this blog one of these days. That pic is about 4 years old? Five?  I don't recall.

Before I slap the color on the roots and resume the house cleaning, I am going to go to Joann's in my continuing quest for a damn basic crochet motif pattern book written for people who can still READ. OMG. Seriously, nobody bothers to provide a downloadable PDF anymore, save one enterprising soul who has a pattern for the African Flower hexagon I'd like to try for sale on Ravelry for like six bucks. For ONE pattern that has been around for years. Bless her heart.

So I need a size G hook anyway, and hopefully JoAnn's will provide a simple old-fashioned Leisure Arts book with the basics I need. I can crochet but I'm not highly proficient at it, and frankly I don't want to waste my precious free time trying to create my own pattern for something that should be widely available without a damn search. I don't know why I'm suddenly itching to crochet squares, but I am suddenly itching to crochet squares. God knows I have plenty of leftover yarn to use up.

So, as we wait for the next episode in the insane spy movie that is now our life in Trumpistan, I do have to share this little tidbit. I don't watch my stats, because as I've said, this isn't a moneymaking blog, it's just a thing I've been doing for years. I've had the same small number of readers for a very long time, but the kerfuffle of reader quittery did make me curious about whether I was driving people away by talking about what's happened to the country. So I looked, and there's been a small but steady uptick in readership lately. Still laughably small compared to the big kid bloggers, but an uptick nonetheless. So I decided to look further at traffic sources. The biggest is still Google, as one would expect. But guess where a lot of my new "readers" are coming from?

Russia. I kid you not.  I'm sure these are just some sort of bot-things trolling for keywords and Boris and Natasha aren't actually sitting at laptops reading about the lobster roll I ate last night, but yep, I suddenly have new traffic from that part of the world.  How 'bout that?

Friday, February 10, 2017


Odd comment below. Brenda, I'm honestly not sure what you are trying to say. Yes, I did read that HuffPo article. It's pretty much what I've been saying for weeks - pace yourself, manage your outrage, pick a couple of issues because you can't "fix" everything by being perpetually outraged, take breaks - again, I went back and re-read my own posts to see if I remembered them correctly.  (I did.)  I believe this article did also share a link to a handy activism site: dailyaction.org.  That article wasn't about "getting over your Trumprage" and "quit bitching."  I'm giving you the benefit of the doubt here because initially I really was equally puzzled and pissed off by your comment, but mostly puzzled.

"but I think it's time to move past the Trumprage and to start doing something about it,"

Um, I believe that's what I've been doing.

"and finding new people to bitch at or new things to bitch about don't count."

Um...what? I'm genuinely confused. Does paying attention to the hijacking of our government sound like bitching to you?  Why is that?

I've actually been feeling better and better! I mean, seriously, the past couple of days have been wildly empowering - the media is finally locking the barn door after the Russians stole the White House and is reporting on a lot of highly suspect shit that happened on Team Trump. Better late than never, I suppose.  Before the coup would have been nice, but at this point we'll take what we can get.

Republicans are not having a good time at town meetings, even in safely red districts. People are PISSED and showing up. Again, better late than never.

And of course McConnell will be remembered forever for that incredibly dumb quote for the AGES about "She persisted." OMG, that was like CHRISTMAS!  And then Lindsey Graham piled on with that "she had it coming" shit. Elizabeth Warren was already a rock star, but now she's sharing memes with the Statue of Liberty.  Holy shit, that was fun! I want a t-shirt!

So, not only have I not been "bitching," I don't think I've been bitching at all in my posts here. Or maybe I've just misunderstood the concept of bitching for my entire life.

Here's something I have bitched about on Facebook recently: I'm so annoyed by how nearly every damn recipe site I click through from Pinterest follows the same model: It's a mostly white space Wordpress blog with a photo of the "owner" at the right. They all say something like, "Hi, I'm Becky, and I'm a stay-at-home mom of three who loves to cook healthy food!"  and it has waaaay too much chatter about the 3rd grade play or whatever, WAAAAY too many incredibly dumbed down photos about how to slice a fucking onion, and - and this is what really kills me - NO LINK TO DOWNLOAD THE ACTUAL RECIPE. You have to suffer through the entire saga/photo montage of the cooking process - "and now, dice the onion" - photos of onion being diced - and you know what?? That is a recipe I'll never make, because for the love of God, some of us still know how to read words and don't need pictographs.  And I also suspect that those blogs are all run by one guy using stock photos of those wholesome 30something housewives.

And OMG, it's spread to the crafting world!  I had a wild idea that I wanted to crochet an afghan of hexagons. Easy, right? Just find a basic "recipe" in writing, adapt it to whatever I want to do with it. Every freaking thing I clicked on was a "Becky dices an onion" photo step-by-step, with no link to download a simple freaking one paragraph pattern. Row 1: Ch 6, sl st join, ch 3...etc., never mind a goddamn chart.  I'm starting to fear that inability to read a pattern is going to follow inability to read a recipe without pictures, and eventually we will all be scratching everything on the cave walls of the internet using photos from our phones.

Now, THAT is just bitching.  Talking about the future of the country and the world? Not the same thing.

So I don't post often lately, but when I do it does tend to run long. Yay Friday!

My daughter took a day off work today and went to the Epcot Art Thing with a friend from work.  I didn't have a bad day at work, but it didn't help to get regular text messages about their adventures. Today was the dream Disney day, 72 degrees and cloudless skies, and there was an avocado margarita involved, and it was fabulous, and I was At Work.  I'm not at all bitter. I did leave work an hour earlier than usual and went to Costco, because I needed a case of my favorite fancy mineral water. Two new bed pillows fell into my cart; they were on sale at the door. Hypoallergenic cotton, jumbo firm, 2 for $10 on special. Even if they only last a couple of months, they seemed worth a try.

There may be a Magic Kingdom trip tomorrow. It's being tossed around. I'm in if it happens.  I had originally planned an at home spa weekend of painting nails and moisturizing things and killing my gray roots, but Big Thunder Mountain Railroad??  The nails can wait.