The nothing at the end of the week

The last two days have been…something.  Some good (I’m running more than 4 miles again – YAY – and I’m done with physical therapy – DOUBLE YAY), some sucky (my nose hurts and work has been super-stressful).

It’s Friday, and I’m going to make pasta for dinner and have a glass of wine and try to make this weekend last longer than its sad two little days.  Maybe we’ll do something festive.

I can’t make my brain do much right now.  I’m hungry and easily distracted, and John is playing the blues down the hall.  It’s great, but I keep stopping to listen and when I focus on the screen again, whatever scraps of coherent thought I had (if I had any – who can tell?) are gone.

The news is all bad.  I think I’ll go read about some dragons.

Not my day

I hit myself in the face with headphones today.  Not earbuds, no.  Big headphones that cover your ears and have a really hard plastic piece that goes over your head from ear to ear.  That kind of headphones.  How did I hit myself in the nose with them?  WHILE I was wearing them?  I really don’t know.  What I do know is that I have a bump with a small cut on it ON MY NOSE.  And it hurts.

I suppose I deserve being hit in the face because otherwise I had the perfect day OH WAIT NO I DIDN’T.  Work was stressful, and then – AND THEN – I locked my keys in the car.  I took my car key off my key ring and put in my pocket (because my key ring is bulky), and when I got back to the car, I pulled my HOUSE key out of my pocket because of course.  I couldn’t call John to come get me because we’re a single-car family now, and actually, I couldn’t call ANYONE because my phone was locked in the car with my keys.  I had to borrow a phone to call roadside assistance, and then I had to wait outside in the cold and the dark for 45 minutes until they came.  It could have been worse.  I spent part of the time saying hi to some horses who put their heads over a nearby fence and I played with a dog.  But it really was dark and cold.

I had to go to the grocery store after that (because of course again), and then I got home and baked banana bread (that helped) and had scrambled eggs and toast for dinner (that helped more), but then I hit myself in the face.

So now I’m going to bed.

What I learned over Thanksgiving break

New things I like (and one thing I didn’t like):

  • New fun podcast!  Check out The Orbiting Human Circus.  It’s odd (it’s about a radio variety show performed in the ballroom at the top of the Eiffel Tower with a janitor who has a narrator in his head and just wants to be on the stage!), but not supernatural or science fiction-y in any way.  Mandy Patinkin is involved.  Try it.
  • I read the first book in Mary Robinette Kowal’s Glamourist series and it made me very happy.  It’s unashamedly Jane Austen-esque but with magic!  Ladylike magic.  Magic is just one of the arts ladies become accomplished in, like singing or drawing or playing the piano.  (I really liked it.)
  • I also read The Apartment, and I definitely do NOT recommend it.  It wasn’t awful, and it was a bit creepy (you already know I scare easy), but it was paced badly, nothing was explained, and the ending wasn’t satisfying.  If you were thinking about it, don’t bother.  At least it was a library book so I didn’t spend any money on it.
  • Pie is good.  Apple pie with ice cream is better.  (I’m including this because I like re-learning it every Thanksgiving.  Continuing education is important.)

Nerdsgiving

My new book (Shades of Milk and Honey by Mary Robinette Kowal) is like Pride and Prejudice with a little of magic, and guys, that makes me SO VERY HAPPY.  I’m only 20 pages in, but that’s enough to hook me completely.

John and I are making too much food for two people this Thanksgiving.  Certainly too much food for two people who don’t own a microwave.  We’ll have to use the oven to reheat the leftovers, like savages.  Somehow we’ll manage.

Oh, also, we’re calling it Nerdsgiving (or I am – I don’t think John really cares).  We’re reading, watching Doctor Who, and then after dinner (and after Doctor Who), GAMES.  Probably Lords of Waterdeep, possibly followed by…hm.  Something else we can play with just two people.  Or more TV!  We’ve got comic book movies to watch (re-watch) or maybe Monty Python’s Flying Circus.  (We’re feeling British-y today, which is weird on Thanksgiving, I know, but not weird for nerds!)

Pesky little rodents

I saw two little birds taking a bath in a puddle today.  It was adorable, of course, the way they hunker down and fluff up and shake all over.  I could watch for hours.

Not so cute are the squirrels digging up our yard.  It’s like we have dogs, only the holes are a little bit smaller.  I don’t know if they’re burying something or digging something up, but they’re ruining the sod in the backyard.  I don’t care so much for myself, but the landlords put fresh sod down right before we moved in.  They’ll probably notice if the yard is destroyed when we move out, and I don’t want to be responsible for replacing it.

Damn squirrels.  Get off my lawn!

I see dead people

I think I saw ghosts the other day.  I was running along Pre’s Trail (I almost always run along Pre’s Trail, but it’s important to the story today), and I saw a man and a woman running in the grass parallel to the trail who didn’t appear to belong to this decade.  They looked like 70s runners, no question.  The man had long brown hair, down to the middle of his back, loose, and a big mustache.  He was wearing short-ish shorts and those classic socks with the horizontal stripes around the calf.  The woman had long wavy-curly hair, also loose, and she was wearing high-waisted nylon pants with an elastic waste and a loose t-shirt tied in a knot at her waist.  It was eerie.

Of course, I also smelled baking bread in the middle of the park, far from any homes or restaurants, so maybe I had a stroke.

Our fine feathered friend

So…this happened today.  (Apologies to those of you who saw this on Twitter already.)

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I’ve been meaning to write about the turkey in our neighborhood.  We think it’s someone’s pet, but it seems to have the run of the block.  We’ve seen it in the alley in the middle of the block and on each of the four streets surrounding us.  And it’s definitely bigger than it used to be.

I hope it doesn’t turn into someone’s dinner.

Jamming

I don’t like the word “jamming”.  I think it’s dumb when it refers to music.  I like the concept just fine, but the word itself makes me uncomfortable.  More when I use it than when others do, though. I feel like an imposter.  Plus, it makes me think of making jam, and since that has NOTHING to do with music, the juxtaposition bothers me.  I guess.  Or something that makes more (or less) sense.  Whatever.

That’s how I take a stand on something.

I’m thinking about it (and being made uncomfortable by the word) because the action is what’s happening in my basement right now.  It’s just Will and John, and they sound good, and I like the stuff they’re coming up with.  I’m happy to have it going on, but I would appreciate it someone would come up with a better word for it.  Get on that, someone, would you?

Oh, weirdly, I’m totally okay with the jamming when it refers to blocking electronics.

The more you know.

VOLT

We had two reasons for going to PA and MD this time:

  1. Meet our new nephew, Graham!  This was supposed to be the first time we met the baby.  That was before the funeral trip, which, obviously, was unplanned, but since everyone was there, we met him in October instead.  Still, the tickets were booked and it cost more to move them to Christmas (or to just cancel and keep them as a credit) than it did to keep them and make the trip anyway.  Plus, we had reason #2.
  2. Celebrate John’s parents’ 40th wedding anniversary!  Their anniversary is the 20th, but we took the opportunity of coming into town to see the baby to get the whole family in one place and take John VII and Pat out to dinner.

We weren’t really sure just what we were going to do to celebrate at first – big family party?  small family party?  dinner out? – but then Emily had the brilliant (and very expensive) idea of taking them out to dinner at best restaurant in Frederick, MD: Volt.  She and Sean had been once, and they’ve been raving about it ever since.  She booked the nine of us (plus Graham) into a private room, and let me tell you – I have never felt so fancy.  The restaurant is in an old mansion in downtown Frederick.  The decor is pretty modern, but the room we were in was the conservatory, with a bay window at the end, and big windows along both sides looking into the garden.  The room was just big enough for us and the full staff serving us.  Seriously, every time they brought in a new course, five waitstaff came in at once and served us at the same time.  It was like synchronized swimming.  Synchronized service.  Very cool, very fancy.

Special menus were printed with “Happy Anniversary, Mom and Dad” and their wedding date on them.  We had a four-course meal, with three choices per course.  I couldn’t tell you everything that was on the menu, but I can tell you what had.

  • Garlic: tom cove clams, black garlic, onion blossoms.  It was a soup, and it was SO FREAKIN’ GOOD.
  • Goat cheese scarpinocc: chicken of the woods mushroom, spinach, honey vinegar.  Little bitty filled pasta, and this was even better than the soup.
  • Lamb loin: mushroom oatmeal, maitake caramel, wax beans.  Also very very good, but the little bitty pasta was better.
  • Mini apple tart: maple ice cream, confiture de lait, ginger, rosemary.  By far the disappointment of the meal.  I mean, it was fine, but it wasn’t up to the standards of the first three courses.

Tiny portions, but plenty of food.  I would definitely eat there again, but I’ll have to save up for a while.  Graham cooperated by sleeping through most of the meal and letting Sean feed him when he woke up.  No crying, even though we were in a sound-proofed room, so if ever there was a time for a baby to cry in a restaurant, this was it.

We all look demonic in the one picture I have of the group of us at the restaurant, so you don’t get to see that unless you look for pictures I’m tagged in on Instagram.  Or go to Facebook.  Everyone in the family has probably posted a picture or two there. Pictures of the baby tomorrow!

Crossing time zones is exhausting

We’re back home from a trip to PA and MD that included a very cool anniversary dinner and quality time with our new nephew, and I will tell you all about those things, but not tonight.

Goal: get back to regular posting

Deadline: ….soon

Right now: sleep

We got up at 4am this morning so we could leave the house at 4:45am so we could be at the Philadelphia airport by 6am so we could get on a plane at 7am.  We landed in Portland (after a stop in Denver) at 1pm, which felt like 4pm, and then we had to drive back to Eugene, where we stopped at the grocery store before finally getting home about 4:30pm, which felt like 7:30pm.  Now it’s 7pm but it feels like 10pm, and I’ve been awake for 18 hours and traveling for 14 of them, and I’m going to stop typing now and go to sleep.

I am VERY happy to be home.  I love our bed.  It’s better than every other bed.  All of them.

Seriously, why isn’t this a thing?

I went flying with John not that long ago (and I didn’t get airsick!  YAY!), and even though the plane has GPS, I was trying to navigate by landmark.  (GPS is cheating.  Plus, what if it failed?)  I mean, we were within sight of I-5 the whole time, which certainly helped, but what if we headed east or west for a bit?  I know Eugene well enough by now that I can pretty much identify the highways and the river, the stadium, the mall – I know where we are, what we’re flying over, and where we’re going.  But what if we were flying into Corvallis or Salem or any airport we’ve never been to?  Little planes fly low enough to follow roads, but how do you know which road is which?  We’re not low enough to read signs.  So I was thinking – we should put identifying codes on the roofs of big buildings, like they do with buses.  (Pop quiz, hotshot: How do I know about the numbers on buses?)  Those building codes can go on maps and there you have it – no one gets lost.

That’s it.  That’s my big idea.

I could use some sunshine

I’m going to stick to my theme of inanity, which I’m sure won’t surprise anyone, but it means I may need another day off. I’m in an airport again, writing this on my phone (which is going surprisingly well). Traffic sucked getting here, so we had that stress on top of last night’s disappointment.  The weather is gloomy to match our moods. I’ll be looking for puppies and kittens, real or virtual, to make me feel better. Actually, that’s been backfiring lately, too. Puppies and kittens make me think of Roxy and Riley, and that’s STILL too raw.

Were you looking for depressing inanity today? Glad I could help.

I’ve never lost my keys

I meant to post last night.  We were downstairs, watching TV, eating homemade chicken wings (not terribly good ones), and I thought, I’ll post after I climb into bed. I already knew what I was going to write about; this would be easy.  I even thought about how convenient it was that my laptop was already upstairs.  But when I got upstairs, I got into bed and fell asleep without a single twinge of Wasn’t I going to do something?

So here we are, 7am, dark and cold as usual, and last night’s episode either means I’m losing my mind or that I have successfully rid myself of the pressure to post every day.  I prefer to think it’s the latter.

You can have last night’s post tomorrow.  Or maybe tonight, if I get to it.  Probably tomorrow.  Teaser: it’s about food!

It wouldn’t win in a cook-off

We made chili in the slow cooker today.  The house smelled delicious all day long, but the chili turned out a little disappointing.  It wasn’t bad, and we still ate too much of it, but the texture was a little strange, it wasn’t thick enough, and it needed more flavor.  I’m not sure which flavor, but something was missing.

We’ve made better chili.  Next time, different recipe.

Nope, I’m too full to spend much time thinking about next time right now.  Quick, change the subject!

Elephants?  Really?

And I swore I’d never rake leaves again

Today, I willingly voluntarily raked leaves.  I raked ALL the leaves in the front yard, and let me tell you – there were a lot of them.  There were so many I wasn’t sure they’d all fit in our yard waste bin.  (Eugene doesn’t do yard bags, and the street leaf pickup doesn’t start for another two weeks.)

This is the bin I planned to fill, sure at the beginning that I would have no trouble:

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Here’s the pile of leaves, mostly raked, which is when I began to worry:

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Here’s the bin, overflowing even after I climbed onto our retaining wall and stepped into the bin to smoosh down all the leaves:

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But the story has a happy ending, since I was able to close the lid:

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Of course, then I found out that our next yard waste pick-up day is the day before the street leaf pick-up day, and I could have saved myself the trouble.

Winning the book lottery

I’ve been on a roll lately, book-wise.  I have liked every book I’ve read in the past three weeks (ever since giving up on The Lake House).  Some of that was planned: two of the seven books were sequels, so it was pretty much a given that I would like them.  One (Word Puppets) is a collection of short stories by an author I’ve heard a lot about but had never tried.  Her short stories were really good (yay!), so I’ll be reading more of her.  The next book (Serpentine) was recommended by a couple of the authors I follow on Twitter – young adult, fantasy/Chinese mythology – very good.  I found the other three just browsing in Powell’s.  It’s riskier than going on recommendations, but one of those turned out to be pretty good (The Girl With All The Gifts), and the other two are why I’m writing this post because they were SO FREAKIN’ GOOD.

Illuminae is told through documentation found by a researcher trying to piece together what actually happened out in space after a planet was attacked, so the format is all letters, emails, chats, transcripts of videos, interviews, etc.  It was funny and it totally captured my imagination.  I didn’t want to put it down, and when I had to, I was thinking about it.

Then I read His Majesty’s Dragon, and – THANK EVERYTHING – it is the first in a nine-book series.  It’s set in pseudo-1800s Britain, with the British Navy and a war with Napoleon and DRAGONS.  The dragons and their riders (!) make up the air force, basically, and it’s like a mash-up of the Patrick O’Brien novels and the Pern novels (!!), and it makes me very happy.  Like, the-world-is-a-better-place-with-these-books-in-it kind of happy.

I started the second book in the series last night.  I’m so happy.

You can’t make this up

Yesterday, I shipped my laptop off to the office for a stupid reason.  Truly, it is the dumbest reason a laptop has ever had to be shipped somewhere in the history of shipping laptops.

I have to ship my laptop back to the office so that IT can…..reset my network password.

Yes, my password, the one that I reset just a few weeks ago (DEFINITELY fewer than 90 days ago), no longer works when I try to log in to my laptop immediately after booting it up.  Why?  I don’t know.  No good reason, I’m sure, since it worked last week.  IT says try my previous password – it should work.  Well, that would be great, but since I haven’t used that password since I changed it WEEKS AGO and I don’t write down my passwords BECAUSE I BELIEVE IN PROTECTING MY PASSWORDS, I don’t have the faintest clue what it was.

Oh, IT can’t change my password remotely?  Of course they can’t.  It’s not like we have several people working remotely full-time now.  Sure, it makes perfect sense to set up a computer in such a way that it has to be on the network to change the password, but you can’t get to the part where you can change the password unless you’re on the network.

So off I went to ship my laptop back to the office.  To make it go a little quicker, they suggested I ship it to the Utah office instead of the VA office, since it ought to get there from Oregon faster.

You know what they’re going to do with my laptop once they get it?  They’re going to turn it on, log in, change my password, shut it down, and ship it back to me.  It’ll take 3 minutes, max.  For that, I’m without my work laptop for 4-5 days.

To top it off, I checked my tracking number this afternoon and found that my laptop is in Indianapolis.  Uh huh.  Apparently, the fastest way to Utah today is through Indiana.

Who knows when I’ll get it back…

Broken promises

I broke my vow to eat only chocolate on our return to Oregon.  At breakfast.  I had an omelet that was not made of chocolate.  And then I got Twizzlers at the airport.  And then I ate a bagel, and then I ate Cheez-Its at ten o’clock at night on the drive home from the airport.  So junk food, sure.  Chocolate, not so much.

To make it up to myself, I had chocolate for breakfast today.  (We have no other food in the house.)  That might be all I eat today because I am SO FREAKIN’ TIRED I’m not sure I can find us any other food.  Everything is too much of an effort.

Next time won’t you sing with me

In the airport again (LaGuardia this time), same deal with only 30 minutes of free WiFi.  Whatever, airports.

In the same vein, we got here, following the signs to Terminal C to check in for American Airlines.  Got our boarding passes for gate D-something.  The guy who took our bags said we had to go to Terminal B for the D-gates.  Don’t terminals usually have the same letter as the gates?  So we checked in at C and got a shuttle to go to B to get on a plane at D.  I am now reciting my ABCs.

It’s not THAT confusing (we made it to the gate, after all), but I’m cruising on very little sleep over the last few days.  Saturday started early, with a long day of travel and a late night when we arrived.  We didn’t have to get up especially early Sunday, Monday, or today, but I slept pretty badly.  The hotel walls were thin, there was constant activity in the hallways, and the pillows SUCKED.  They looked all fluffy and nice, but they flattened into nothing as soon as you put your head down and the air squeezed out.  My neck hurts.  Plus all the emotions and the public face on the whole time and I’m. So. Tired.

We land in Portland at 7:30pm local, but then we have to get our car and drive home, so it’ll be 10pm at the earliest before we get home.  Probably closer to 11.  And tomorrow morning has to start on time, so there will be no sleeping in until Saturday.  On the plus side, there’s no one to tell me I can’t go to bed at 6pm tomorrow night or every night the rest of this week, and Saturday isn’t that far away.