Distraction

Rainbows, shmainbows.  Turkeys!  Baby turkeys!

So, before you ask, no, I don’t think that’s the turkey who spent the winter sleeping (and pooping) on our front porch.  I mean, what do I know from turkeys, but I know we had more than one adult turkey hanging around, and I don’t think this is the one who chose us.

They seem to spend most of their time in the neighbor’s yard behind us.  As we were walking by the other day, two of the neighbors were out trying to herd one of the baby turkeys back towards the house.  The mama turkey and the rest of the babies were on the roof of their house, and the last baby was cheeping and scurrying around their yard because it couldn’t fly quite high enough.

It was cute.  Baby turkeys are cute.

But tomorrow, I’ll have rainbows

My laptop is downstairs. I am upstairs. I am in bed, and I’m so comfortable, and I’m so tired, and the AC is on, and the lights are dim, and my eyes are closing, and all of this unnecessary detail means that you don’t get the post about our perfect hike on Saturday or the Seattle crab legs saga I keep forgetting to tell you about or the muddled and confused rant about the Netflix series Anne With An E that I’ve been trying to articulate.

Instead, you get choppy thoughts and one long rambling sentence that is meant to be an apology for…not telling you anything interesting. I’m sorry? Yes. I’m sorry.

I think they live in paradise

California is a lovely place, with lovely weather, and lovely friends, and GIANT TREES.

It’s kind of funny – we visited Erik and Margaret (and their two adorable, smart, and funny children) for a little more than three days, but the only pictures I have are from the day we went to see the redwoods.

We followed the creek and found a nice picnic spot, and then the kids (and Margaret) played in the creek.  It was all so wholesome and fun, and I mean that – no sarcasm here.

I made this last one big ’cause otherwise you can barely see us.

It was so good to see them again, and it was such a relaxing weekend.  They did a good job of making California seem like the place we want to be.  It’s not, not long-term, but they did such a good job of showing us all the good parts that we temporarily forgot that, and it was really hard to leave.

We go on separate adventures at the same time

I had a really good riding lesson today.  This was my fourth lesson on Olive, an actual horse-sized horse, and I’m getting much more comfortable on her.  A woman I hadn’t met yet, who was sitting and watching with Wendy, complimented my release after a set of jumps.

I don’t know what that is, and I didn’t stop to ask just then, and I don’t want to look it up now.  If it’s something I’m doing well naturally, I’m afraid that if I look it up, I’ll start thinking about it and do it badly.  There’s so much to think about that if I can delay thinking about something, that can only be good.  Except that now I have guesses about what it is, and I’ll probably overthink it, so maybe I’m better off if I look it up.

Okay, I googled it (and my guesses were wrong).  It has to do with not pulling on the reins (and then the bit) as you go over the jump.  Wendy taught me to move my hands forward on the neck and hold the horse’s mane to avoid pulling the reins accidentally.  Apparently that’s called a crest release (long or short depending on how far up the mane you hold) – she left that part out.  So okay, I’m already doing it and thinking about it and it’s all good.

John took the plane out this afternoon at the same time (I dropped him off at the airfield, drove to the farm, and then picked him up when I was done), and he found me and flew circles around the farm while I rode.  He said he could see someone on a horse jumping, and he assumed it was me (it was).  We saw the plane and waved madly with no idea if he could see us.  Turns out he could, and he tried to make the plane wave back.  I thought I saw a wobble, but it wasn’t as dramatic-looking as it felt to him.

Anyway, it was cool, and it made for a good afternoon.

Whew

Big sigh of relief: Beauchamp Besieged was pretty good!  I don’t think I’ve ever read a Harlequin romance before, but I’m happy to say this one exceeded my expectations.  And there I go, outing myself as a snob.  I guess everyone’s snobby about something, right?  I’m just happy I can honestly tell my friend I enjoyed her book.

White lies are fine, but it’s so much easier to be honest.

Huh.  I don’t know if I actually believe that.  Sometimes honesty is harder, and often it’s unkind.  It depends.  Everything depends.  We live in a morally gray world.  I do, anyway.

From romance to philosophy: it’s a roller coaster around here!

She is mostly dead to me

I just decided not to read another book, but it’s for a good reason!  think it’s a good reason, anyway.  I read (and enjoyed) Gentlemen and Players by Joanne Harris about eight years ago, so I happily picked up another book by her last week.  I started to read it last night, thought it sounded awfully familiar, and then realized it’s the sequel.  It’s probably not exactly the same story as Gentlemen and Players (as John pointed out, it is called Different Class), but it’s set at the same school in the year right after that book ends, and the main character is the same and you know?  I don’t want to.  It’s another thriller with another mystery about some former student who has it in for the same teacher and while I’m sure it’s good – it’s probably good – I’m out.  Back to the library this book will go.  Instead, I will read one of the cheap paperbacks I have picked up since we got here so I can discard it before we move.  I will be practical, and I will be done with Joanne Harris. Since this will be the second Joanne Harris book I have put down in a row (I gave up on The Gospel of Loki a year ago April), she gets no more chances from me.  Except that I will almost certainly read Chocolat at some point.  I love the movie.  I’d like to read the book.

Contemplation

Some more thoughts on The Gate to Women’s Country, all entirely non-spoilery.  Or maybe less about this book in particular and more about, well, let me get to that.

I have read a large number of books that left me wanting more when they were over.  More books in a series, more information about the world that was created, more information about the characters or their families or their earlier adventures.  Sometimes I have questions, maybe a mystery was left unsolved, or maybe something mysterious happened in the past that drove a character to do something, but that mysterious thing was never explained.  I usually consider this a good thing, even if it’s mildly (at best) frustrating.  It meant I was fully engaged.  I want to know more.  The author did something right, and if I’m lucky, I’ll get those answers in later books.  I’m not always so lucky.  Robin McKinley is a good example.  Off the top of my head, I can name three books of hers, all stand-alone novels, set in three distinct worlds.  All three books were complete on their own*, but the worlds in those books had histories, the families had problems, and the books were about one event, one adventure, just one snippet of those worlds.  I want to know more about those worlds and those characters.  What was the cataclysmic event that happened to the world in Shadows before the story that was written began?  How did a world that was basically our own turn into that world?  In Sunshine, what is up with the main character’s family?  It’s clearly important to her character, but wasn’t necessary information for the story itself so it’s only hinted at, not included.  I don’t remember having a lot of questions after I read Dragonhaven, but I want more family history AND more dragons, please.

The Gate to Women’s Country falls on the opposite end of the spectrum.  Everything is explained at the end, even a few things that the very smart main character should have already figured out.  Some of it is explained to the main character, some of it is explained to someone else, but all of it is explained, and I find it very satisfying.  No loose ends.  No open questions (except the reader’s own questions about the future of this civilization, which are totally acceptable).  There’s clarity at the end, the kind that makes you go back and re-read the first few pages now that you’ve been enlightened.  Sheri S. Tepper tends to do that, to lay everything out for the reader at the end, to spell out the things you’ve suspected or point out the things you missed.

I don’t know which approach I prefer.  I like it when things are wrapped up neatly.  I like knowing everything there is to know about a fictional universe.  (There’s a reason I own two companion guides each to Anne McCaffrey’s Pern and Robert Jordan’s The Wheel of Time.)  On the other hand, hinting at the richness of another world leaves so much scope for the imagination.  I find it harder to let those books go and move into something else, and I can’t think that’s a bad thing.

*I’m not talking about books without resolutions, like one by an author I really like that is billed as a mystery and that moves like a mystery and HAS a mystery in it but is really just a cover for character development so it ends WITHOUT SOLVING THE MYSTERY.

Freedom and a lighter bag

I have decided to travel light this weekend.  John and I are in one suitcase, and neither of us is bringing a laptop.  My carry-on is my Paris tote, and John will be walking on to the plane with only his Kindle in his hand.  I’d be able to go lighter if I didn’t have to carry prescription meds everywhere I go.

I always think I’ll use my laptop on trips more than I actually do.  In Seattle, the wi-fi in the hotel was terrible, and I don’t plan to have much free time for laptopping this trip.  I expect we’ll only head to our hotel late at night, tired and ready for sleep.  That is okay with me, so I am bowing to reality and leaving my laptop at home.

You’ll barely know I’m gone.

Eula Ridge, May 27, 2017

This is a bit out of date, but I have pictures and video, so why not share?

Eula Ridge is only maybe 30 minutes outside of Eugene (although it took us more like 45 minutes since we went past it the first time – it’s not well-marked).  It’s all wooded, nice and shady.

There’s a little parking area at the bottom, right off the road, and there was a truck and a school bus parked there when we arrived.  The bus driver warned us that they had just dropped about 35 mountain bikers off at the top (I can only assume there’s a road that goes up since a bus did NOT take the trail we were on), and they were going to be making their way down, and we should be careful.

John and I started up the trail worried that a pack of mountain bikers would mow us down.  We spent the entire hike scouting for good spots to hop off to the side.  There were a few kind of narrow scary parts, but mostly there was plenty of room for us to get out of the way.  They came through pretty spread out, one at a time, not at the breakneck speed I was picturing.

It was a really nice afternoon.  Some website said it’s three miles to the top, but there aren’t any spectacular views, and we had…something…that night (I don’t remember what – it was nearly a month ago), so we turned around at two miles up.  I took video to commemorate it.

And of course I tried to get a selfie of us.

We are not good at the selfie thing.

I will leave you with the soothing sounds of a babbling brook for meditation.

I want to do more hiking before we leave Oregon.

The earlier the start, the longer the weekend

Friday morning we’re getting up at airport-thirty for an 8am flight.  We’ve considered spending Thursday night in Portland, but we’d still have an early start and what’s a couple of hours when it’s already early to begin with?

That might be stupid.

On the plus side, it’s a short flight because for the first time in a year and a half (a little more for John), we aren’t flying ALL THE WAY across the country.

Now that I think about it, I’m not so sure that’s a plus considering what time we’ll be getting up.  A longer flight means a longer nap.  And I think we’ll need it.

Still!  The weather is supposed to be beautiful (sunny and not too hot), and we’ll have gotten an early start (which I usually enjoy), and we’re off to visit dear friends we haven’t seen in YEARS, and coffee is a thing.

Wish me luck

I finished reading The Gate to Women’s Country today.  For the third or fourth time – I don’t remember.  I love this book.  Since I read it this time for my NOW book club, and since it was my pick, I read it more carefully and took notes.  I feel so virtuous.  And I’m excited for book club, but we don’t meet for another week (the other reason notes were important).

Happily, Elaine remembered to bring me my very own personally autographed copy of Beauchamp Besieged, so I’ll start it tonight.  I’m a little nervous.  I want to like it because she’s so nice, but what if I don’t?

Because pie

John and I are slowly eating our way through the largest lemon cream pie I have ever seen, thanks to Amber and Brian who left it with us after the four of us were unable to make much of a dent in it Friday night.  The two of us, classy couple that we are, have been eating it straight out of the pie plate for dessert every night since then, and I think we finally crossed halfway last night (night 3).  This thing is a monster.  A 10-inch, 3-inch deep, creamy, lemony, delicious monster.

I’ll miss it when it’s gone.

I hope my face doesn’t freeze like that

My facial person moved to LA last month, so I had my first facial with my new facial person (aesthetician is too formal) last week, and I’m not sure I like her.  I certainly don’t like her as much, but we didn’t click very well.  It was all awkward chitchat and too much of it.  She rallied at the end of the hour when she massaged my face.

No one has ever massaged my face before.  It’s a weird thing to do.  Rub temples, sure.  Gently move in circles while applying products, yes.  This was an all-out massage.  Both hands on, whole face covered, pressure added.  I could feel my whole face contorting as she rubbed and twisted and IT WAS SO GREAT.  I would never have put that on a list of things I wanted, but now I want it again.

So yes, very young person with the awkward chitchat, I will see you again next month.  And then I might cancel my membership because I have other priorities for that money.  But she doesn’t have to know that.

The comedian’s a bear!

I’m so glad I don’t have to write jokes for a living.  There are many, many, many jobs I’m glad I don’t have – SO MANY – but having to be funny all the time?  For money?  SO MUCH PRESSURE.  Also, I’m not funny, so I would fail right away, assuming anyone hired me in the first place.  On the rare occasions where I AM funny, it’s accidental and cannot be repeated (and is usually because I messed up the punchline to someone else’s joke).  Crafting a joke, revising it and messing with the timing to make it funnier – that’s hard.  It’s fascinating, and I love to hear comedians and comedy writers talk about it, but I can’t imagine doing it myself and having the end result make people laugh.  Is that a skill you can learn?  Maybe?  Maybe I’ll add it to the long list of things I want to do.  At the bottom.  And in the meantime, I’ll just enjoy all the actual funny people out there.

Too clean

It’s possible that cleaning up the house, uncluttering the house, also uncluttered my mind, and when it comes to deciding what to write about, I don’t think it’s a good thing.  An uncluttered mind, tonight anyway, means a surface free of extraneous thoughts, extraneous stuff.  I have a goal – sleep – and the path to my goal is unimaginative.  Remove contacts, brush teeth, take shower, read book, sleep.  Done.  I can’t quite start down that path because John is in the shower, and I have to wait.  Time to write, right?  Sure.  About what?  Usually there are things everywhere.  Papers on my desk, books stacked on the shelf, my riding boots in the corner.  Today, those things are missing, stashed away, put where they belong.  Not available for inspiration.  Instead, this room is clear, and my mind is clear, and MAN, clear can be boring.

Some blathering

I gave myself a papercut just below the nail on my middle finger while wrapping a present.  That’ll teach me to buy presents for people.

Why would I say “I gave myself” the papercut?  I got a papercut.  The vindictive wrapping paper gave me the papercut.  It was revenge for the scissors use.

Inanimate objects around here have agendas.  I have to be on alert.

I have posters and things to hang on walls.  We’re moving in less than three months.  Seems silly to hang things up now.  Might do it anyway.  Just not today.

Like a slip ‘n’ slide but without the rocks in the lawn

Until today, every time I have been turned off by a book, it’s been because of the plot (or lack of it) or the writing. I started reading Interface by Neal Stephenson and J. Frederick George yesterday, and I’m having a hard time getting into it.  I don’t think it’s the writing – I’ve always liked Neal Stephenson.  I don’t think it’s the plot – it’s a science fiction political thriller.  What’s not to like?  It did start a little slow – we got the main character’s full family history in the first eight or so pages (snooze), but the action picked up after that.

Even with something actually happening, though, I’m not that excited to pick up the book and read, and I think it might be the physical book at fault.  This has never happened to me before.  I know I’ve been reading a lot on my Kindle, but I like physical books.  I like the weight, I like the way the paper feels…and the paper might be why I’m not crazy about THIS book.  It’s smooth.  Like, silky.  Practically laminated, but smoother.  And it’s a heavy trade paperback that barely opens, so I feel like I’m using a crowbar to see the pages.  The very very smooth pages.  I never knew I could be this picky about the physical qualities of a book.

I’m 58 pages in, and I’m giving this one at least 100 pages before I give up.  Maybe I’ll get over it and maybe it’s just that I started it yesterday after watching The Crown all day long and maybe I was just tired and I’ve been working all day and maybe it’s not the smoothness of the pages at all and maybe it’s nothing and I’ll forget all about this in another ten pages if I can just find 15 minutes to focus on reading.

(But when I’m into a book, 15 minutes to focus on reading finds me.)

(Sh. I’m still in denial.)

It doesn’t get lazier than this

John isn’t feeling well, and we had a really late night last night, so we declared today a lazy day.  We slept until 10, I went out to get breakfast, and then we watched The Crown for the entire rest of the day, curtains closed, world shut out.  We quit at 8pm, seven episodes in, because we have to get up early tomorrow.  All we want is to spend tomorrow repeating today, but that’s not the responsible thing to do.

Adulting sucks, but today was pretty good.