Six weeks to go!

Yesterday, while complaining musing about the difficulties of choosing my next book, I mentioned that the only thing that makes that decision easier is having a specific reading project.  Well, the universe listened and released this year’s Hugo voter packet to voting and attending members of WorldCon, so…I’m all set for the next six weeks.

Whew.  No stress about what’s next on the list.

Do I feel a tiny bit limited because now I feel like I HAVE to read the Hugo-nominated books and short stories and novellas?  Maybe, but that’s because I’m dumb.  An organization that I voluntarily joined and support and enjoy is giving me free books to read so I’ll be informed enough to vote on which ones are best.

Do I feel a little bit stressed about getting it done in time?  Yes (I have six weeks), but I can manage that kind of stress. I’ve already read three of the six nominees for best novel and two of the six nominees for best YA novel.  And for best series, I’m pretty sure the trilogy I’m reading right now is getting my vote.  Out of the other five series nominated, I’ve read all of one (Expanse), most of another (InCryptid), and the first of a third (Wormwood) that I didn’t like very much.  That only leaves two, and I think I can live with myself if I don’t get through them in time.

I can do this!  Prioritization!  Focus!  Staying up late!

A time-turner could be handy here

Mel just asked me for book recommendations, and while we were talking about that, she remembered reading something of mine the last time she visited that turned out to be scary.  She couldn’t remember the title or the author, and her description of the book didn’t ring any bells for me.  While she was checking with Corey (who read it, too, after SHE recommended it), I fell down the rabbit hole that is my Kindle library.

Guys, I have 711 Kindle books, and I haven’t read most of them.  I WANT to read them all – I was just browsing to see if any of the titles reminded me of the book Mel was talking about, and instead I was hit with this overwhelming desire to quit my job and hire someone to take care of Jack and just read all day every day until I can catch up.  If only we could win the lottery…

Part of my Kindle problem is that I can’t SEE the books.  I have plenty to read, but it’s hard to decide what’s next (unless I have a specific reading project) because I forget what I have, and there’s no easy way to view it all.  I want a holographic bookshelf.  I would like to project the title pages of my Kindle books onto a wall so I can browse through them as if they were on a bookshelf, not just a list, and decide what to read next.  Maybe that’s our million-dollar app idea!  Projection would be the hard part… (Yes, I know I can view my Kindle contents as a grid.  It’s not the same.)

Let’s shelve that idea for now, and get back to the point which is I DON’T HAVE TIME TO READ.  I’ve got a bookshelf overflowing with dead-tree books I don’t have time to read, either.  More on this in the near future.

The books Mel was thinking of (Corey identified it) were White Silence and its sequel, Dark Light, by Jodi Taylor.

A little change…

We have begun painting the guest room (by “we”, I mean “John”), and if you open the door halfway and aim your gaze toward the northeast corner, you can pretend it’s done, and MAN I picked a good color.  It looks GREAT (and feels so refreshing to do something different in there), and it’s going to look even better when it’s done.  Here’s a link to the color.  It’s a dark-ish purple with some gray in it.  We’ll have white trim to brighten it up, plus the guest room gets ALL the sun in the house.  Next up: furniture.  White headboard, white dresser (small), white desk and chair (small).  The comforter needs to be white, maybe patterned, maybe white and silver, and I REALLY want to put a bench or trunk or something in that funny corner we have by the closet, in front of that window, so I can make it a cozy reading corner/window seat.  I have ALWAYS wanted a window seat.

Of course, it’s taking us WEEKS just to paint this one room. Before Jack, we’d have had it done in a single weekend (ceiling one day, walls and trim the next).  Now, only one of us can do any of the work, we can’t do it while he’s sleeping (night or day), and our weekends have been taken up with car shopping and other not-fun tasks.  So MAYBE we’re done with the walls next weekend and the trim the weekend after that, and who knows how long it’ll take me to find the furniture I want.  I’d like it used, but that requires actual in-person shopping, and, well, that’s not going to happen for a while.

It’s not like we’re going to have guests anytime soon, but it’s really unsettling to leave a project unfinished in such an open-ended way.

But until then, the half-finished walls look fantastic, and I will enjoy that.

We’re communicating!

Jack’s shorthand for telling us what book he wants to read:

  • “Hat” is I Want My Hat Back.
  • “Choo choo” is usually The Little Engine That Could and sometimes The Little Red Caboose.
  • “Baby” is usually Astrophysics for Babies, but sometimes “Baby Dear”.
  • “Guck” could be any number of truck books.
  • “Beep” is one of the Little Blue Truck books.
  • “Hello” is The Pigeon Wants a Puppy.  (The first line is “Oh, hello”.)
  • “No. Hmph,” is Don’t Let the Pigeon Stay Up Late.  (That’s his favorite part of the book.)
  • “Hop” is usually Bunny in the Winter, but could be Pat the Bunny.
  • “Ah-boo”, I discovered tonight, is Baby Peekaboo.

The Power of Positive Thinking

Lately, when Jack wants something, he asks if he can have it and answers yes in the same breath.  This is what I want, and I really want you to give it to me, so maybe I’ll just help you answer.  The right answer is yes.  Thank you and goodbye.

I want to watch Sesame Street honkers. “Honk, yup.”

I want Dada.  “Dada, yup.”

I want to read the lion book.  “Roar, yup.”

I want to watch trucks on TV.  “Guck guck, yup.”

He repeats the request and the yup, each successive repetition getting more desperate and more tearful, especially when the answer is no (pretty often for the TV requests) or when I have NO IDEA what he’s asking for.  There are two songs he’s been asking for lately, but I don’t know what they are, and he gets so frustrated trying to tell me.  I know he wants a song because he points to the bluetooth speaker in the corner, and I’m pretty sure they must be on one of three albums because that’s pretty much all we play through that speaker, but what song is “wee a-wee, yup”?  It’s not Wheels on the Bus, and there aren’t any with sirens.  And then he asks for another song by making a sort of horse snorty-blow-out-of-the-lips noise (I can do it myself but I can’t describe it, apparently).  Or maybe it’s a kind of b-b-b-b car engine noise.  What song could that possibly be?  Raffi makes lots of funny noises in his songs, but none of them are that noise.

We did it!

After…three weeks? I think?…we were finally able to buy a new (used) car!  YAY!!!!  Although, STILL, not without some hiccups.  The transfer from Norwood to Warwick was supposed to take three to four days, business days, which with the holiday, meant that yesterday (Wednesday) was day #4.  No word from CarMax.  I emailed the person I was working with there to see if she had any updates for me, but it was towards the end of the workday, so I didn’t expect to hear back until today.  This morning, I called the Warwick location to see what they could tell me. The guy I spoke to said the car is there, it’ll be cleaned and ready in about half an hour, but there’s some issue with the title. He didn’t know exactly what, but he was going to find out and have someone get back to me.

GREAT.  More title problems.  An hour or two later, I got a text from the person I emailed telling me that everything was ready and we should make an appointment to test drive (and hopefully buy) the car.  I asked her if the title issue was resolved.  She said “it appears to be” and I should wait for the office confirmation to be sure.  Uh huh.  I called again and spoke to someone who said it was all sorted out.  So yay!  Only a couple of hours of frustration this time.

We were in the middle of failing to get Jack to sleep for his nap, so we put some snacks and toys in a couple of tote bags, put him in the car seat, and headed to CarMax.  For the third time.  Jack fell asleep on the way up, naturally (and GOOD), so I dropped John off at the entrance around 1:45 and drove in circles for another 15 minutes before they were ready for us.

The test drives went well, the car was (is) in good shape, and we were ready to buy!  And even then, even without having to jump through any more hoops or dealing with any of the usual dealer bullshit, it was STILL 5:30 before we left.  SO MANY HOURS.  Jack was really great, but he was losing it during the last hour, and we were, too.  He didn’t want to eat, he didn’t want to read truck books, he didn’t want to play with his toy phone or toy tablet.  He  just wanted to run around the place and push rolling chairs down the hallway.  That worked (kind of) when one of us could stay with him while the other answered questions and filled out paperwork, but at the end, we both had to read things and sign things, and he was driving everyone nuts.  Which is when I remembered the magic of YouTube.  Three Sesame Street shorts and two truck videos later, we were the proud owners of a new car.

Caffeine is a jerk

I have had a headache the last two evenings, and I think it’s because I haven’t had any caffeine the last two mornings.  I didn’t avoid it on purpose; it just worked out that way.

I don’t want to continue having headaches, but I also don’t like the idea that I’ve gotten so used to caffeine that my body protests when it doesn’t get it, so I’m going to avoid it for another few days and see if the headaches go away.  I’m in control here, not you.  It’s especially annoying since I don’t drink much to begin with.

And it’ll be healthy for me to drink only water for a few days.  Water…and wine.  Totally healthy.

Are you here? Am I here? Is any of this real?

Do you know what I did today?  I mean, really, do you know?  Because I don’t.  What day is it?

This long weekend really threw me.  I was happy to have it, don’t get me wrong.  It’s really nice to have a day off, even working half time.  Figuring out how to fit four hours of work into every day is more stressful than I imagined it would be.  I’m not losing any sleep over it or anything, except that’s not true.  I AM losing sleep over it because I get up extra early to get a couple of hours done before John has to get to work.

I don’t think that’s what I meant to write about because what I DID mean to write about is that I don’t have anything to write about.  Which is a really boring thing to write about because if I really don’t have anything to write about, I shouldn’t write at all.  EXCEPT that I’ve been on a roll these last couple of months, only missing two or three days, and I’m feeling the pressure.

Also, I TOTALLY had something else to write about, but I forgot what it was sometime in the last paragraph.

I am going to bed before this gets any worse.

I used to listen to music for ME, I think. It’s so hard to remember…

Children’s music is entirely too catchy.  It’s really hard to try to write something when the only words going through my head are “Ring ring ring ring ring ring ring.  Banana phone.  Boop-boop-ba-doop-ba-doop.”

I like it fine (that song is right up my alley), but the only songs that drive it away (temporarily) are Sesame Street songs, and is that really helping?

We started re-watching New Girl the other day, and Jack really likes the theme song to that show, but those 20 seconds on repeat might kill me.

Losing it

I finished my last book during Jack’s nap today, and (le sigh), really enjoyed it all the way through.  So glad it’s nominated for a Hugo.  And, since Jack is STILL napping, I get to start a new one!  AND and, it’s by an author I love.  I’m only three pages in, but I am confident I’m going to be happy with this book, which (again) is SUCH a nice feeling.

Speaking of pages, this is the first time since the end of January that I’m reading an actual dead-tree book.  Apparently, I’ve forgotten how they work.  I got to the bottom of a right-hand page and SWIPED.  Honest-to-god, cross-my-heart, SWIPED at a page as though it were my Kindle.


The late fees would be ridiculous

As you probably remember, Jack and I used to go to the library a LOT.  And by “the library”, I mean any one of five libraries, since we pretty much went to a different library for story time or sing-alongs every weekday.  And since we were at the library so much, library books had pretty high turnover at our house.  Right up until the pandemic, anyway, when all of the libraries shut down and stopped accepting returns.

I have one book and Jack has six or seven, all borrowed in February.  My book, unfortunately, wasn’t good enough to finish, so now I’m stuck with a library book I didn’t even like.  Out of Jack’s haul, there’s only one he’s not interested in, but I wonder how much he’ll protest if those ever disappear from his shelf.  There are a couple we read all the time.  Of course, this is assuming we’re ever allowed to return them.

I wonder how many books libraries have out right now.  I’m sure they’d rather have them back than have to replace them, but after so many months in everyone’s homes, how many books would need to be replaced anyway?  Or can’t be found?  I’m willing to bet libraries aren’t going to charge replacement fees.

*I should note that I have been taking a ton of e-books out of the library – I’m certainly not hurting for reading material.  I’m just annoyed that the book I got stuck with was so irritating I couldn’t finish it.

It’s a small thing, but it’s a big thing

I love it when I’m totally engrossed in my book.  I’ve only felt that about one other one in the last eight (including this one in that count).  I had a good string before that, though.  Even when I can only read in short snatches or in the few conscious minutes I have before passing out at night, it’s always a really good feeling to want to get back to my book.  So much better than having to remind myself which book I’m reading.

Anyway, yay for Catfishing on CatNet and yay for Naomi Kritzer.

I have forgotten how to grill

I used to grill a lot.  There was one summer not that long ago when I grilled salmon several times a week.  Me, not John.  I knew how to do this.  But then I tried to grill chicken last week or so.  (Time has no meaning.)  It’s possible I’ve never grilled chicken before, but even so, how could it be this hard?  It took FOREVER.  Also, I set the chicken on fire.  Frequently.  It turned out fine, but I’m not eager to do that again.  (See fire and also forever.)

Then last week I tried salmon again.  Do you like your salmon blackened?  Into a crisp?  Mine was basically inedible because fire.  What the hell, man?  (I mean, I’m assuming I had the burners on too high.)

I’m just out of practice, right?  So I should practice.

Tonight, steak.  Me again – John has faith in me, and hey!  No disasters this time.  The asparagus came out fine (I didn’t lose any in the grill, either), and I basically did the whole five-minutes-per-side thing with the steaks over medium heat. Maybe 7 minutes on the second side.  They were on the rare side of medium, which is how we like them – not charred, not blackened, good without having to drown them in anything (I am just now remembering that I forgot to use the horseradish I put on the table), so maybe I just have to practice with chicken and fish.

Car salesmen are the WORST

We did NOT buy a car today.  We could have.  We found the car with all the stuff at a price slightly below the one at CarMax.  We got there, we test-drove the black one, looked it over – all good.  Then we drove the silver one.  Well, John did.  The salesman tried to convince us it just smelled faintly of dog, but it 100% smelled like smoke, so that was a big no.  But the first one was great.  Let’s do it.

And that’s when the sales game started.  FOR NO GOOD REASON.  We were prepared to buy the car for the price they advertised.  John told the salesman that, and then he went off to “run the numbers”.  What numbers?  Here’s the price, you know the fees, the taxes are easy to calculate – what else?  UGH.

“Since you’re not financing with us, it’ll actually be an additional $450.  That’s a rebate that won’t apply to you since you have outside financing.  That’s all on the website – we believe in being up-front about our pricing.”  (It’s not on the website.)

“Oh, that 3-year maintenance package only applies when you’re financing with us.  That’s all on the website – we believe in being up-front about our deals.”  (It’s not on the website.)

“Since this car is Nissan-certified, you get the warranty for only an additional $1295.  No, it’s not optional, but let me talk to my sales manager about it.  Okay, he says we can’t remove the warranty but we can split the cost with you.  You can have it for only $647.50.”

There was more in that vein, so we decided not to buy the car.  The sales manager got really pissy with me, which was completely unnecessary, and we walked, listening to him mutter at us as we left.  I ordered the transfer of the EXACT CAR from another CarMax from my phone five minutes later.  Hopefully this one will work out.


What a difference a week makes

After last week’s not-so-great car dealer experience, I wasn’t really looking forward to doing it again.  On Friday, I made two appointments, one each for two cars (a Jeep Renegade and a Nissan Rogue).  The guy on the phone (central office again) said the location doesn’t appear to be appointment-only.  I said it was last week, and is there any way to know for sure?  He said I could call them, and I think I managed to hide my frustration when I asked how, since the number I called to reach him was the local RI number.  He told me to follow prompts to the business office.  Cool.  I did, I spoke to someone, and YES.  This week IS different from last week.  They’re almost back to normal, with social distancing rules in place.  We can walk the lot, test drive as many cars as we want, and except that it might take a little longer because they have to prep the cars first, it’s almost normal.  Whew.

So Saturday, we got there around 11, and two hours later, we left, having both driven three cars (Jeep Renegade, Nissan Rogue, and a Ford Escape), AND – more importantly – having pretty much decided that we want to buy a Rogue.  Now comes the obnoxious part: we have to find the newest car we can find, with all the features we want, with the lowest mileage, for the lowest price.  Within reason.

As of this writing, it is possible we have found it at a Nissan dealership in Warwick.  They have several that appear  to meet our requirements.  One of the features isn’t listed, but I called and was assured that because they all have the other features, the missing one is standard, and don’t worry about it.  We’ll find out on Monday, because car dealerships don’t appear to be open on Sundays anymore.  Our backup is to have CarMax ship the only one they have in the entire country up here from Maryland.

I had no idea I could be that kind of buyer.

But we are so close I can smell it.