Was I going to say something?

Is this pregnancy brain?  When I think I wrote something yesterday but it turns out I didn’t even have a draft?  How about when, at 4pm on one day, I schedule an 8:30 meeting for the next day, and then forget to call in to it?

It started snowing, I made hot chocolate, John is going to start cooking soon, and I am going to read my book.  You just try and stop me.

All the books, please

Saturday morning, we went to a library book sale in Warwick, and for the first time, I missed Loudoun County.  The Loudoun County Public Library book sale was (still is, I imagine) a thing of wonder.  This library book sale was a little smaller than our Ashburn library book sale.  That didn’t stop me from getting out of there with eight or so books, of course.  After we left the library, we celebrated by going to a used bookstore in downtown Providence, where I picked up another three or four books.  This is after last weekend, when we spotted two used bookstores while driving around southern Massachusetts, stopped at both, and came home with about ten books.

I am definitely back in the physical book business.

Also, I feel like I put off the hard decision of deciding what to read next by going the easy route of picking up the next in the series about giant telepathic cats.  So even though I made a decision, I don’t feel like I made a decision.  Best of both worlds!

Comfort reading pays off

I just finished Trading in Danger, by Elizabeth Moon, and I really enjoyed it.  (I bought it because it was recommended as good space opera on Tor.com and also, the author co-wrote a few books with Anne McCaffrey, so there’s some built-in trust.)  It reminded me a lot of Tanya Huff’s Valor series (Torin Kerr is my favorite space marine).  This one is space military-adjacent, with a spunky young main character who has to save her ship and her crew, and it’s the first in a series, so I’ll be keeping an eye out for the next one at used bookstores.  Dad, I do have this first one on my Kindle, if you want to try it.  Light, fun, exciting.  (I also have a physical copy of it because sometimes I forget what I already own…)

And now, I have my usual problem: what to read next?  Despite my lack of success with the Hugo books, I had a limited list and I knew I wanted to read them all, so I just plowed through it.  Now, though, I have…48 physical books on my bookshelf (I just counted), all of which I want to read, and I have 295 books on my Kindle that I haven’t read yet, WHICH IS A CRIME.  And to make matters worse, which also makes me happy, which makes matters better, but harder, there’s a library book sale in Warwick tomorrow and of COURSE we’re going.

So the REAL question is this: should I put myself through the turmoil of picking a book tonight or should I wait until I get home from the book sale tomorrow (because we’re going first thing, naturally), when I will have more books to choose from and probably a harder decision?

On the one hand, why do today what I can put off until tomorrow?  On the other hand, what will I read tonight?

MY LIFE IS SO HARD.

I’m still here

Hi.  I’m back (as you may have noticed after the last few days of semi-consistent posting).  I’m sorry I went mostly dark, but I was trying really really hard not to talk about something, and when I’m bursting to talk about something, I can’t think of anything else to say.  I’m fine in person (although I went almost full hermit, so I didn’t have to test that very often), but for blogging purposes, it basically elbowed everything else out of my head.

But hey, the secret is out (THANK GOODNESS), and my head feels clearer.

I’m not being deliberately enigmatic.  I mean, I am, but not with the intention of leaving anyone in the dark.  It’s just that I don’t tend to get too personal here, so it feels kind of weird.  On the other hand, I plan to talk about it (or at least not NOT talk about it), so for the maybe ONE person who reads me who isn’t an immediate family member or high school/college friend: I’m pregnant.  Yay, happy dance, and all that stuff.

You know what?  I am going to talk about it.  Because it STILL doesn’t feel quite real, and it’s kinda freaking me out.  That it doesn’t feel real, I mean.  Despite the fact that less than a week ago I was at the doctor’s office and I heard the baby’s heartbeat, it appears that I need further proof.  (I mean, maybe that tiny fast heartbeat was just a clever ruse because the doctor is in on this charade or maybe it’s a tiny mechanical device, like a pacemaker, that somehow got implanted or hey, maybe it’s a tiny ticking bomb (and you know what?  it kind of is).  I’m not showing yet, and my first trimester symptoms have been pretty mild, with the exception of OH MY GOD THE WORST TASTE IN MY MOUTH ALL THE TIME except when I’m eating which means I want to eat ALL THE TIME but eating for two isn’t really a thing and gaining too much weight too fast is a BAD thing and also I’m supposed to drink a TON of water and water TASTES BAD because of this awful taste and please please please make it go away as this trimester ends….

It is getting slightly less unbearable, so I have hope.  Also, I have noticed actual feelings of lightheadedness and weakness when I need to eat something, which is new and unusual and super not fun.

So I’m looking forward to LOOKING pregnant.  I think.

Oh, also, we’re calling unborn child Hugo (Hugo Nebula when we’re being formal) until he or she is born because due to the timing, we will not be able to go to WorldCon for the Hugo Awards.  Turns out they don’t let women on planes when they’re THAT pregnant.  Color me disappointed, but there will be other years.  Our little baby nerd will go to LOTS of conventions with us.

It’s Pi(e) Day!

I had strawberry rhubarb pie for the second time in my life a few weeks ago (it was DELICIOUS), and I bought more to celebrate today’s most circular of days and it is finally time for me to tell the story of the first time I ever tried strawberry rhubarb pie, which was only 10 months ago.

The story starts with crab legs.  (The best stories about pie start with crab legs.)  Last May, when John and I went to Seattle to see U2, one of the few things I REALLY wanted before we left town again was crab legs.  I had the second best crab legs of my life the first time I went to Seattle (early 2003), and I wanted those again.  (The first best crab legs of my life were in Alaska, also early 2003.)

The Sunday morning we were there, the morning of the concert, also, coincidentally, Mother’s Day, we were driving around and exploring, and I was googling seafood restaurants to track down crab legs.  We found a place to have lunch with a lake view, lots of seafood, and Alaskan King crab legs on the menu online.  Done.  So we got there, we got seated, it was lovely, and I noticed there weren’t any crab legs on the menu.

Well, crap.  The waiter came by, and I so-very-nicely explained my predicament.  I really didn’t want to be a bother, but if they HAVE crab legs, would it be possible for me to order them?  The waiter was really nice and said he’d find out.  I was totally prepared to order something else if they didn’t have crab legs, and I’m pretty sure I said that to him.  I promise was being nice.  I would never be the evil diner.

Anyway, he came back after a while and said they DO have crab legs, but they’re frozen – is that okay?  Sure!  That’ll be fine!  So off he goes.  And then we waited.  We were fine – we had an appetizer – but the waiter seemed nervous.  No, really, we’re fine!  Then we waited some more.  The waiter came back, all apologetic, because the kitchen had prepared the Dungeness crab for me (whole crab) instead.  But they could still do the crab legs if I didn’t mind waiting a little longer!  Yes, please, I’m happy to wait.

So we waited.  And then the manager came by, clearly worried that we were getting annoyed.  We SO weren’t, but she wanted to give us a free desert anyway, and who were we to turn that down?  And THAT’s when we decided to try the strawberry rhubarb crumble or cobbler or pie or whatever it was.  AND HOLY CRAP IT WAS AMAZING.

(My crab legs were also delicious and HUGE and exactly what I wanted and yay for that restaurant in Seattle and of COURSE we expressed our appreciation because we are good customers.)

So then a couple of weeks ago…oh, right –  it was my birthday weekend.  I wanted pie, and we couldn’t decide what kind of pie, so we bought a strawberry rhubarb pie and an apple pie.  Both were SO GOOD – our local grocery store bakery makes DAMN GOOD PIE.

Of course, two pies at once for two people was a little excessive, so for Pi(e) Day, we limited ourselves to ONE pie, the strawberry rhubarb pie, and we are looking forward to eating it with delicious vanilla ice cream melting all over it.

There will be pie tonight!

Building my book list

Margaret asked me how I choose books.  Anyone else curious?  Eh, I’ll tell you anyway.  I have a very sophisticated method that involves ranking and graphs and sales numbers and no, none of that is true.  I keep a list.  Hardly rocket science, I know.  My list is very long, but because of how I’ve built it, I’m pretty confident that I will like just about anything from that list that I choose to read.  It’s not foolproof (many of my Hugo books were on my list already, and I didn’t like them all), but it’s usually a pretty good system.

How do I decide what goes on my list?  Well, that’s a whole thing.  First, the easy ones are every other book written by an author I like that I haven’t read yet.  Everything else, pretty much, is based on a recommendation, and that’s where it gets tricky.  Whose recommendations do you trust?  The only way through that mess is trial and error, I think.  I go with authors/writers whose writing I like.  They’ll often have blog posts or regular articles or something listing books and authors they love, and I figure if I love them, and they love this other author, the chances are good that I will, too.  That works more often than not (and authors I follow on Twitter tend to promote other authors they like, so the list continues to grow), but it’s not always great.  There was this one blogger I used to read – he reviewed movies, and he and I liked the same ones.  So when he listed books he’d read recently that he really liked, I figured I could trust that his taste and mine would be similar.  I ordered three of them, basically sight unseen.  Not a smart move.  None of the three were bad, but they were most definitely not my style.  So I learned not to trust that guy’s taste in books.

Book recommendations from friends and family are tougher, although I think I’m pretty lucky in that.  Knowing their reading habits, I can’t think of a single friend or relative (of those likely to recommend stuff) I’d be wary of a recommendation from.

I don’t read a lot of book reviews (they tend to go too deep into a book, and I would like to read it first, thanks), but Tor.com puts out a LOT of reviews and articles and celebrations of books, old and new (all science fiction and fantasy), and I’ve been adding to my list a lot from their site.

If I’m buying a physical book from an actual store, and I have it in my hands, I almost always read the first few pages before I buy it.  That plan took a book off my list just last week.  I could do that with Kindle books (download the free sample), but I never think of it.  I should do that.

Choosing the next book to read is a whole other thing, but at least I have plenty to choose from.

Hugo nominations

It’s time.  The Hugo nominations are due a week from yesterday, but I’m not going to read any more eligible books between now and then, so here goes.

I’m only nominating in three categories: novel, novella, and novelette.  I can nominate up to five per category, but I really only have four novels and just one novelette (that I thought counted as a novella until I looked it up just now, which is wonderful news because now novella #6 is actually novella #5 and I can nominate it!).

In no particular order (although kind of in this order):

Novels

  • The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden
  • City of Brass by S.A. Chakraborty
  • The Refrigerator Monologues by Cat Valente
  • The Stone Sky by N.K. Jemisin

Novellas

  • River of Teeth by Sarah Gailey
  • Dusk or Dark or Dawn or Day by Seanan McGuire
  • All Systems Red by Martha Wells
  • The Murders of Molly Southbourne by Tade Thompson
  • Taste of Marrow by Sarah Gailey

Novelette

  • Fisher of Bones by Sarah Gailey

Aaaaaaannnndddd nominated.

There’s always a letdown

You know how sometimes taking a shower is a chore?  I don’t get why, but there are plenty of times I just don’t want to.

Some of my reasons:

  • I don’t want to get up, I’m comfortable here.
  • It’s too hard.
  • I’ll have to move my arms a bunch.
  • I’ll do it tomorrow.

And in that mood, once I finally do shower, yeah, it’s a chore.  Get it done, get out, go back to doing whatever I was doing (or not doing) before.  Eh.

But then there are those other times, those times when I step under the hot water and realize my whole life has been waiting for this.  I was meant to be in the shower.  I live here now.  In fact, I’m typing this from the shower.  (Okay, I’m not, but I wish I were.)  The water is hot, the bathroom is warm and steamy, my shampoo smells good, I’m warm and comfortable and no, I’m never coming out.

Whoever invented the hot shower should be celebrated around the world, praised be their name.

But then, the sudden but inevitable betrayal*: the hot water runs out, the water goes cold, and I reach for a towel, sad and bereft.

*All sudden but inevitable betrayals boil down to this:

Used books are treasure chests

I bought a used book at a convention in Boston the other weekend, and it is a perfect example of why I love used books.  It came with STUFF!

I got it home and I started reading it, and a few pages in, a bunch of Mickey Mouse stickers fell out from between the pages.  Early birthday present, I guess.  The next day, further into the book, I turned a page and found two business cards for a lady in Massachusetts.  Someone had written what looks like flight information on the back of one of them, plus “Poo Monday 9:00”.  I have no idea what that means or what it has to do with flight times, and I don’t plan to speculate.

Next up, maybe halfway through the book, was a flattened piece of red cellophane, maybe a candy wrapper.  Pretty.  And last, an actual bookmark.

On top of that, I liked the book.  It was the gift that kept giving!

Hugo burnout

I had to take a break from reading only Hugo-eligible books.  Since I started that plan (right around New Year’s Day, I’ve read 19 Hugo-eligible novels and novellas.  I’ve really liked seven of them, but that leaves too many books in recent memory that I didn’t like all that much.  That hurts my brain.  I need to go back to my normal approach to choosing books, and for next year’s Hugos, I’ll just have to sprinkle in eligible books throughout the year.  I think it’s the only way I’ll survive.

I started my break, and I feel SO MUCH BETTER.  I never expected to be so stressed out by this.  When I don’t like a book, or when I put one down without finishing (I only did that ONCE), and the stakes are whether or not I nominate it for a Hugo, I feel like I’m letting the author down.  As if my one nomination is going to make a difference.  Still, I’m sorry, author!  I feel bad!

Nominations are due a week from Friday, so this will soon be in the past.  Until it’s time to vote.  But that part should be fun.

I get emotionally attached to my TV shows

I’ve been watching Jane the Virgin (really enjoyable show on Netflix) when I’m on any sort of cardio machine at the gym, and today, the show betrayed me.  Something happened at the end of an episode in the middle of season 3, something awful, something SO FREAKIN’ SAD, and really truly shocking because this isn’t that kind of show, and I broke down bawling right there on the machine.  I had to go hide in the bathroom for a minute.

Let this be a warning to you: the show is funny and sweet, light, totally a telenovela, and so fun.  Right up to episode 10 in season 3.  Be ready.

Similarly, I love Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, but two separate episodes in season 3 of THAT show made me sob, too.

Huh.  The CW is doing some good work, I guess.

An apology is warranted

I am not a pizza snob.  I love pizza of all kinds, from all places.  I don’t love all toppings, but that’s my own personal taste – I don’t care what you put on your pizza.

So we went out to a pizza place last night, and for the first time, I’m questioning whether what we had was really pizza.  I mean, it came out on pizza dough.  It was round (not a requirement, but a helpful visual indicator).  It was flat.  It had crust.  But instead of sauce and cheese, it had mashed potatoes, bacon, and scallions.  That’s it.  It was good, to be sure, but was it pizza?

I’m on the fence.  It certainly didn’t scratch my pizza itch (we’re ordering more traditional pizza tonight), but who am I to say it can’t be called pizza?

Mashed potato pizza, I’m sorry I questioned your bona fides.  I apologize for repeatedly telling John today that you weren’t pizza.  I didn’t mean it.  It was only so I could justify having pizza again for dinner tonight.

I am ashamed.

Odors everywhere

Something smells in our kitchen, and I can’t figure out what.  I’m pretty sure it’s the fridge, since the smell appears after we open the fridge door (unless that’s just coincidence, which I haven’t ruled out), BUT when we stick our noses right in the fridge, nothing smells bad.  I’ve already tossed everything that could possibly have gone bad or be going bad, and there are no spills.  I’ve gotten rid of the ice just sitting in the freezer.  The trash has been taken out.  The garbage disposal is clear.

This smell won’t go away.  I mean, it DOES go away – it fades pretty quickly and even when it first starts, it’s not as strong as it was earlier in the week, but why does it keep coming back?  What is it coming from?

It’s driving me crazy.

Which reminds me of the smell in the car, which has FINALLY gone away.  About a week ago, we smelled skunk right around our parking spot, like a skunk had sprayed or died or something near the car.  No sign of it, but the whole area smelled.  We got in the car, no smell, and went off to do whatever we were doing that day.  Then, every day for the next week, outside was all clear, but we could smell skunk pretty strongly INSIDE the car.  It was just this morning that we got in and realized the smell was gone.  Why was it inside the car but not outside?  It was gross.

Bad smells suck.

Make it stop

I’m working late, and when I’m working late,  I’m cranky, and when I’m cranky, there’s no room in my head for anything but what’s making me cranky, and I don’t want to talk about work.

I might be cranky about describing myself as cranky – I am NOT a toddler.

(I might be acting like a toddler.)

If I throw a tantrum, maybe I can stop working.

No, that’s not how this works.  Big deadline tomorrow, and I’m stuck waiting for four other people to do their thing, one at a time, before I can do MY thing, and this is the fifth time we’ve gone through this exercise today.  It’s 8 o’clock.  I want to be done.

Oooh, we have butterscotch pudding.

I AM a toddler.

Seems plausible

It’s raining.  It’s lovely.  It’s a nice day, with real steady rain falling, dim lighting so I can have my twinkle lights on all day long, and the store had my favorite creamer in stock, so I can have coffee all day.  (I blend decaf and regular together – I can’t handle fully caffeinated coffee all day long.  I’d die of a cracked skull from bouncing off the ceiling.)

It’s pouring, and I can’t concentrate.

Like, how-is-there-that-much-water-up-in-the-sky kind of rain.

Let’s forget this whole water cycle thing – that’s too logical.  REALLY, my neighborhood is in a giant shower.  Some alien has decided it’s time to bathe and I can’t see it (the alien) because a) we’re all really really tiny compared to the giant alien in its giant shower, and b) we’re off to the side of the tub so we’re not in danger of getting stepped on.

Sure, this alien must be taking a really long, really cold shower (it’s been raining for hours), but hey, aliens aren’t like us.  Maybe it prefers cold water.  And the shower is going on for so long because it doesn’t happen all that frequently, and the alien has a lot of dirt to wash off.

That river that’s just a couple of blocks away?  Nah, that’s a trickle of water heading toward the alien’s giant shower drain.

And when the rain stops and the sun comes out, I’ll know that the alien has stepped out of the shower and opened the curtain again.

I should be working.

Tempting fate

Yet another upside to working from home: I can’t get whatever awful bug everyone at work is passing around.  No kidding, in the last few weeks, nearly EVERYONE I work with has taken at least a couple of sick days with the flu.  I never leave the house, so I am SAFE.  Also, everyone at work is 400+ miles from me, so even if I left, I wouldn’t get THAT bug.

On the other hand, I didn’t get any sick days.  I should take a sick day.

Does anyone else hear echoes?

There are days when even I don’t think my brain is an interesting place.  This is not one of those days.  Okay, yes it is.

I’m looking askance at this jar of peanut butter I bought at CVS today.  I don’t know why I expect it to be sub-par.  I mean, peanut butter is peanut butter, right?  It’s the same brand I usually buy at the grocery store.  It’s not like CVS made it themselves, and besides, who am I to say that CVS couldn’t make some damn good peanut butter if they felt like it?

Don’t let it be said that I stood in the way of anyone’s dreams.