Entries Tagged 'Reading' ↓

Lazy Otter

Oh noes! No Monday post!

Yes, I’ve been a lazy slob. Lazy lazy lazy.

Last week Thursday was Robin’s birthday. We decided to celebrate Saturday, and then moved that to Sunday, since he had to work Saturday night and had Sunday off. I once again failed to provide birthday pumpkin pie. We had ice cream cake, made with chocolate cake and frosting, and Snap-O-Lantern ice cream, which is pumpkin ice cream with gingersnap pieces. It was pronounced quite an acceptable alternative to pumpkin pie. Dinner was meat loaf and acorn squash. Oddly enough, Marmaduke had never had acorn squash before.

I gave Robin a book I’d made – graph paper pages, which were folded and collated into 5 signatures (sections). The cover is black book cloth and paper that’s black with a metallic copper diamond pattern. Still haven’t finished my portfolio, for reasons below.

  • Reading-wise, I’ve been busier.
    “Feedback” by Mira Grant – a new one in the Newsflesh universe, following a different team of bloggers assigned to the other presidential candidate.
  • “Ghostland, an American History in Haunted Places” by Colin Dickey. The subtitle is reasonably accurate – history looked at through haunted places.
  • “The Wonder” by Emma Donoghue – fiction about a British nurse who is sent to oversee an Irish girl who has supposedly not eaten in 4 months. Set about 7 years after the Crimean war. I can understand the Protestant-raised protagonist having a certain amount of anti-Catholic biases, but I think the author agrees with those biases. Didn’t spoil the book, but it was A Thing for me.
  • “Blood, Bones, and Butter, The Inadvertent Education of a Reluctant Chef” by Gabrielle Hamilton. More about her life and how it always revolved about food and cooking than about the nuts and bolts of becoming a chef (particularly since she didn’t come to it through traditional training), but definitely enjoyable.

Last week Tuesday I stayed home with Ron, went with him to see our doctor, and then to the hospital for a CT and ultrasound. Diagnosis: diverticulitis improving, continue with antibiotics (which he’d been on for a week at that point).

Either that day, or the previous, I’d seen a Facebook posting that one of the reptile shops we like had baby Russian tortoises. Russian tortoises don’t get stupidly big, and at one point we’d (mostly jokingly, I thought) discussed getting one to put in with one of the sand boas. The problem is, baby tortoises are really really cute, and I was feeling vulnerable with Ron not feeling well and was he going to get kept at the hospital, yadda yadda.

So I started buying and reading e-books. (Ha! Fooled you!). And thinking. And researching. And put baby Ibera Greek tortoise (about the same size as Russian tortoises, and very pretty) babies on a wish list at a breeder’s on-line store, and put a repeating reminder on my calendar to check on availability.

Thursday evening I poked Ron to see how he felt about a tortoise, and he said he could go either way, and after sleeping on it, I decided Friday morning that I was mostly attracted by the cute, and would pass, and took the reminder to check on baby availability off my calendar.

Friday evening I think Ron circled the conversation back to tortoises. He likes the Sulcata, or spurred tortoises, which are big. Like up to 200 lbs big.

Saturday morning found us out shopping. We got breakfast, went to Menard’s for an under-bed bin, and a couple other things, then off to Reptile Rapture in Madison. At that point it wasn’t clear if we’d be coming home with a baby Sulcata or a baby Russian.

I held out against Sulcata, and we came home with a captive-bred baby Russian, and some supplies/hardware. His name is Lummox, aka Lummy, as in the critter in Heinlein’s “The Star Beast”. Lummy may be a boy, and I keep using male pronouns, but is really too young/small to sex accurately – he’s about 2 inches in diameter (Russians are almost round).

Lummy’s bin would fit on a 2’x4′ table, but they’re all buried up at the front of the trailer, so it was easier to finish cleaning off the 6′ table that was in the spare bedroom, and bring that downstairs. The bin had a flip-lid that Ron cut the center sections out of to create a lip, to help prevent escapes, as Russian tortoises are good climbers. I was still concerned about the depth of the bin, so I ran to Ace and got some netting to cover the openings, but not so dense that it would block UV light.

Sunday morning we went to the new Farm & Fleet in Elgin, and procured a 2′ x 4′ x 1′ deep galvanized stock tank, and a heated pet mat. We could have permanently attached the netting to the bin lid to help prevent escapes, but the bottom of the bin wasn’t smooth, so it was going to be hard to put under-tank heat on it usefully, and the bin wasn’t deep enough to be useful long-term. Hence the stock tank.

Monday evening I brought home some succulents from work – aloes and sedums, which are both tortoise-snacking-safe – and I split and planted them in Lummy’s tank. He displayed his appreciation by eating the smallest sedum Tuesday, and munching on aloes yesterday. 🙂 I need to split the rest of the sedums I have at work to encourage them to keep expanding in case he keeps eating the ones I gave him. I’m not a big fan of aloes, so he got all I had. I’ve also ordered a Russian tortoise seed mix – various broad-leaf “weeds”, and dandelion and Malabar spinach (a viney thing, not actually a brassica spinach). The seed mix I plan on sowing directly in his tank, the dandelion and Malabar spinach in pots. I may stop at PetWhatsit and get some “cat grass”, too. And probably some (mostly-) spineless Opuntia (prickly pear) cactus, at some point.

If you’ve ever seen our yard in the spring, you’ll question my sanity on buying dandelion seeds, and if it wasn’t fall I’d agree. But at this point there’s a limited amount of dandelion to be had from the front yard until spring (and the back yard is dog…fertilized). Although I did go out Tuesday night and pick him some violet and dandelion greens. He definitely liked the dandelion the yesterday morning. Last night I found some grape leaves that aren’t too big or brown, and a rose bloom. Ron’s comment a little later was that our house is weird – open the refrigerator and find a rose. Lummy liked the couple petals I gave him last night, and the fresh dandelion leaf Ron brought him.

As for the cactus, it’ll probably wait until spring and building an outdoor run for Lummy, since I can also get it from Eurofresh, both chopped and whole pads. And definitely “spineless” – In my one experience with them, the tiny, fine, hair-like spines had nooooo problem migrating from a car’s back seat to the front, and while more itchy than painful, were No Fun.

  • So now my weekday morning routine goes like this:
  • Let dogs out
  • Put Lummy in to soak in shallow warm water under his heat lamp
  • Change dogs’ water
  • Feed dogs
  • Make Lummy’s salad and put it in his tub (on a paper plate, for easy clean-up)
  • Call dogs back in and give Pippin his meds
  • Take Lummy out of his soaking dish and plop him near his salad
  • Dump water, wash hands, yadda yadda yadda, upstairs to take a shower and get ready for work.
  • In the evening Lummy get soaked again – babies can drown in 1/4″ of water, so they get soaked (they can take water in through their cloaca) and a chance to drink instead of having a water dish.

Ron is still attracted by Sulcata tortoises. I’ve suggested that if he still is come spring, we can build an outdoor pen and some kind of shed/hutch with heat (for winter), and look at getting a rescue adult. We’ll also be making an outdoor pen for Lummy in the long run, but he’ll be only outdoors during the day for a couple years, and small enough to winter indoors. We also need to build a less expansive table for his tank. Right now the big table is blocking the back door, but a 4′ long table will fit where Robin’s desk is/was (he’s clearing that corner, since the desk is just a convenient flat surface, and rarely used).

Continuing cautious optimism that we have Danger Noodle and Kiyo eating. Danger Noodle is back up to his peak weight before his long fast. Wonambi is also continuing to eat pretty well and has definitely grown. Wadjet and Nageswari shed Monday night or Tuesday, and I suspect Fezzik is going into shed, since he didn’t eat last week Thursday.

Why yes, we are insane. Why do you ask?

More Blogging! More . . . Snakes . . . and CHRISTMAS!

Yes, another week, another blog entry! I’m on a roll! Or a chair.

A couple weeks ago I got a copy of “The Sand Boa Book”. The day I got Scatha I was also looking at a sand boa, so this is not out of the blue. Sunday . . . a sand boa did not happen. *Two* sand boas happened. Shai-Hulud and Danger Noodle (as previously posted, see G+ for pictures), both boys. They’re tiny, 10 and 15 grams each. For comparison, I just weighed some quarters, and two quarters are 11 grams; add a dime or penny to get 14 grams.

I got the boas from a breeder downtown, he had them in shredded aspen. I’d bought a box of sand at the pet store, but discovered on getting home it was not a recommended type – too dusty. So the boys were put in aspen. Monday morning I looked on-line, and determined that the sandblasting sand at Menard’s and Home Depot is coal slag, which although should be inert is not what I want. I then exercised my Google-Fu, after a hint from Berland’s, found a materials supplier in Wheeling, and ordered 150 pounds (minimum order) of clean, graded, screened blasting sand. Yes! More weird shopping!

The boys disappeared into the sand rather promptly. Ron and Robin have decided that “Shai-Hulud and Danger Noodle” sounds like a superhero team, with Danger Noodle as the sidekick. This is/was prescient, and Shai-Hulud seems to be the braver one – last night he was out on top of his artificial succulent (pics were blurry, sorry), despite being the smaller one.

Ron and Robin picked up the sand Monday afternoon. Ron was coming home early because still not feeling well. He is, however, finally slowly improving.

We all had or took yesterday off. Dinner was potato sausage (a Swedish thing, and kind of a Christmas Eve thing in my family), mashed rutabaga, and pecan pie. Robin did manage to leave some potato sausage. I pointed out that when I’m looking for dinner ideas that he could suggest it, potato sausage is not particularly a special occasion food. Last night I also made gingerbread.

Yesterday morning we went to Honeybaked Ham to pick up some ham for today, looked at the line outside the door, and decided to push ham off to New Year’s Day dinner, so we could get it when the store is not insanely busy. None of us had our hearts set on ham today, so it was an easy decision.

So on to Eurofresh, where I found a nice standing rib roast, instead, and picked up baking ingredients (I never said this was a chronologically coherent post!);  brussels sprouts, bacon, and blue cheese for last night’s dinner; and other sundries. Then we forgot to make the brussels last night, so Ron and Robin will have them today (I am definitely not a fan of tiny cabbage).

Currently cooking for lunch are Scotch eggs and spatzle. Breakfast was gingerbread waffles. Beef shank bones have been roasted and are cooling for the dogs. Also cooking are ox tails for gravy stock, and cranberry-apple sauce. We also have ingredients for sweet noodle kugel, which will probably happen tomorrow or Sunday.

My son got me a copy of “The Ugly Renaissance” for Christmas. He knows my tastes!  Got several other books and goodies.

Earlier this week we had a data issue in our reptile record-keeping app, related to a Dropbox synchronization failure, and lost about a month’s worth of data, grumble grumble grumble. Trying a different app, in which data lives on an Amazon-owned server, and which has lots of people who like it on ball-pythons.net. And now all the snakes have labels with their names, details, and QR codes on their cages.

And now, time for lunch.


Busy Weekend, and Recap of Last Week

When I got home last Monday, I found a layer of half-thickness concrete blocks at the foot of the new front porch steps, so now there’s not so big a first step.  We decided not to do any more to the front steps, as they’re temporary anyway, so there’s not a lot of point in dressing them up. And we’re kinda lazy.

I wore my polyester taffeta tartan hakama and coordinating kosode to work on Halloween, but changed into boring mundane clothes when I got home because I was soggy from the rain that I thought meant we’d get no trick-or-treaters. Fortunately, the rain did let up and we did get the kids from our street, including the little guy (18 months-ish) from next door, who was going to come in and say hello to the dogs.

Friday night after dinner we went to Menard’s and got a new screen door. I chose the handle style (rotating horizontal bar, not a push-button), and hardware color (brushed steel), Ron liked the kind where the screen is connected to the sliding bit of window and rolls up, so we got that, and the door color (white, which matches the house trim). I pointed out Pippin would appreciate one where the window came down lower than the old one (which he could see out of, but barely), and Ron agreed, so that’s how we chose the door.

Come spring we’ll probably replace the side (and possibly back) screen door with a new one with a dog door built in.

Saturday morning, after getting groceries, Ron installed the new door, with help from Robin and instruction-reading from me. It went in with no major issues. It looks very nice. It has two piston closers, and works very nicely. I considered getting a quart of paint and re-painting the thresholds (on all the doors), but Ron pointed out the wood was probably too wet. Maybe the weekend after Windycon.

Yesterday we went to the Container Store, and got Ron some narrow Elfa drawers to keep his slide rule collection in. Robin looked at storage/stacking options for miniatures, but decided not to get anything until he checked heights.

When we got home, Ron and Robin took the air conditioners out of the bedroom windows. Robin had to clean his room to get to his unit, and they cleaned the spare bedroom as that’s where the units live for the winter. Our room got cleaned as a side effect of getting to our unit (which is behind a dog crate), and rearranging part of the room to put up the slide rule storage. And then Ron moved the slide rules to the spare bedroom. But things in our bedroom stayed rearranged, with the effect of feeling like it has a new chunk of floor space (not really, but it is in a better shape).

I’m eating real food now, yay! Had some trouble with a Chicken Kiev Friday night, mostly I think because I’m still learning to eat slowly/chew thoroughly. Had the leftovers for lunch today with fewer issues.  Still having trouble with not drinking while eating: not that I need to, but I want to.

Normally Robin and I don’t like cooked sweet peppers, but we Saturday at Eurofresh we got chicken breasts stuffed with ricotta, some other kind of cheese (parmesan, IIRC?), peppers, and some red onion. And we liked them. I think it was because, unlike so many frozen meals with added gratuitous and tasteless peppers, this was a dish that was supposed to have peppers, and they actually had flavor. The peppers were diced fairly fine, which may have also made a difference.

Did some leatherworking, also, will natter more about that on the Otter blog.

Just finished reading “Ten Second Staircase” by Christopher Fowler, one of the kind of quirky/odd Peculiar Crimes Unit/Bryant & May mystery series set in London.  Next up is Mira Grant’s “Parasite”, which came out last week, IIRC.  Pre-surgery and while I was home afterwards I read Mary Roach’s “Gulp: Adventures in the Alimentary Canal”, which was kind of an interesting choice for that time period.

Cave Art and Other Natter

Grumble grumble grumble, the good fairies haven’t induced Picasa Web Albums and WordPress to play nicely together again, so you’ll have to point yourself over at the Otter Necessities blog for pictures of the gloves and Christmas stockings I mentioned in my last post.

Elrond seems to be back to normal. He had no painkillers and his last antibiotic yesterday, and he seemed fine this morning, we’ll see how he does (we’d had him down to PM painkiller only for a few days).

Ron’s still sore and tired, but getting better.

I’d said that for my birthday I wanted to go to see the Lascaux cave art exhibit at the Field Museum, and given how busy May was, I wanted to go sometime in June. Oops, didn’t happen. But yesterday when we were nattering about how to spend the day, Ron asked if the exhibit was still at the Field. It was, so off we went.

Although our route wasn’t quite as planned once exiting the expressway, courtesy of the maze that is Lower Wacker Drive, we got to the parking under Soldier Field without too much trouble. I bought our tickets on-line before we left, so we didn’t have to stand in line.

Robin went off and did his own thing while Ron and I ambled around. We saw (not in this order) a small exhibit about CT scanning two mummies, and reconstructing their faces from the resulting replica skulls; a short 3D movie about Great White sharks, which mostly avoided gratuitous 3D tricks, except with toys during the opening credits, so they were silly and not scary; kinda blew through an exhibit about bioluminescent critters; and didn’t go to a short 3D film about ice age megafauna, as I didn’t properly grok that an “All Access Pass” gets you into only one movie, not both, and wasn’t quite interested enough to go buy tickets for it, too. Also went to an conservation-ish exhibit, and saw bits of various permanent exhibits on the way out of some of the ones listed above.

The Lascaux exhibit was good. The reproduction quality of the cave sections is amazing. However, I was distracted by the lighting, both glare from the actual fixtures, and the levels, which rotated through three different levels, On the one hand, the different light levels showed the art in different ways, but . . . I’m not a multi-millionaire, so we couldn’t dictate when the lighting changed. Nor did we have the exhibit all to ourselves (although nobody was annoying, which is better than some trips/exhibits).  The art can be hard to make out, between wear and color (or lack of), and even on one bedroom-wall-sized section there can be a lot going on, so I could/should have spent more time. Simple black-and-white line drawings/tracings of each section would have been helpful.

The radio ads really hyped how realistic the exhibit is. Err . . . yes and no. Except for one seam running through a panel, the surfaces looked real. OTOH, there are constraints on public exhibition space and accessibility – we were on a runway between the re-created sections, with a fairly consistent ceiling height above our heads, so it in no way felt like a real cave.

Fortunately, I got a grownup picture book a few years ago, entitled quite simply, Cave Art, which has lots of good photos, both from Lascaux and other caves in the region.  I picked up a coffee table book on the modern history of Lascaux and its reproductions (this is the third, which re-creates sections not done for Lascaux II, which was built in a quarry near the original, and Lascaux III and IV are planned for more sections), and two e-books of books about cave art in general, and Cro-Magnon/Modern man (both those were on sale in paper at the Field, but they don’t have a lot of plates, so e-books are fine. They also had Cave Art, but I don’t need another copy).

Hmm. Looks like the Field was out of another pictoral book just about Lascaux. I may have to get that, too.  Except it’s in French. Maybe not.

Weekend Catchup


Saturday Robin was a lot of help cleaning up the dining room, more natter about that and pictures on the Otter Blog. Part of that project was going through the things I’d evicted from the kitchen a week and a half before, most of which did not return to cluttering up the counters. That in turn ended up extending to going through the stash of spices and seasonings. I threw out a bunch of McCormick bottles of great age and dubious remaining flavor.

I wasn’t able to bring myself to be quite so ruthless with the stuff from Penzey’s, but I did end up with  a big pile of empty Penzey’s jars to wash, which one of these days we need to refill from the stash of things still in zippy bags.

Sunday morning we picked up the living room. It still needs a date with the vacuum cleaner, but the mess has been beaten back a bit.

In the last week my side of the bedroom has been overwhelmed with clean laundry in need of folding. What fun.

Other Natter:

Had a MuseCon meeting Sunday. When it came time to discuss how MuseCon sponsorship of the Cafe went, I think a couple people were surprised to hear Ron, Xap, and I, wearing our Capricon hats, pronounce it not a perfect success. The food was great, and several people put in amazing amounts of time and effort running the fan table, demos, etc., but there were some bugs in terms of staffing for the regular Cafe operations.

Ron and I had yesterday off. Ron spent some time in the morning and bits of time in the afternoon working on getting the shopping cart system set up for this year’s MuseCon classes. I worked on a leather project.

Van Dyke socks (toe-up) are up to the heel turn. Being sport-weight and a pattern that was fairly easy to memorize they move pretty quickly, when I’m not distracted by leather projects.

This morning Pippin stole one of the sandwiches Robin had made for his lunch. I believe the sandwich had been left, unwrapped, on the kitchen counter while Robin went upstairs for something, so I wasn’t terribly sympathetic.

I have checked out and read an e-book from the library, and have several more on a wish list on my library account. The web interface they use (Overdrive “My Media Mall”) is not the greatest, and as of last night was driving Ron around several bends and up and down trees, but at the same time free is good. I also had to install Yet Still Another E-Reader on my iThingy, which is also somewhat annoying, and sign up for an Adobe account. Ron has an Adobe account, which is what I usually use, but I thought it might cause issues to try to tie the same Adobe account to two different library cards/accounts.

Food Recap:

Friday dinner: Aloo Gobi, which in the Indian cauliflower and potato dish I referred to Friday. Rendered shocking yellow by tumeric, it was mild, and tasty. Marmaduke was over for dinner, so it ended up being a side dish with bratwurst.

Saturday dinner: Finally did the stuffed shells. Filling was ricotta and spinach, with some nutmeg. Italian-ish food without garlic just seemed so wrong, so some garlic paste also snuck in. I used Prego mushroom red sauce, which was too sweet. I stuffed the shells with a spoon, which was a mess. I should have put the filling in a big zippy bag, cut one corner off, and used it as a piping bag. But I didn’t think of that until for too late. I could have cooked the shells a bit longer before stuffing them, but they finished off in the oven OK.

Sunday dinner: Thai Brisket. The sauce had some Thai flavor, but the meat alone was just . . . brisket. Not bad, just not memorable. We also did salad, mostly ignoring the instructions of “Salad of the Day” and making our own dressings. I re-discovered that mustard oil has kick, by putting too much on my salad.  Oops. Mayonnaise helped, but I didn’t quite finish my salad.

Monday dinner: Coconut Curry with Winter Vegetables. A vegetarian curry, with winter squash, sweet potato, and I substituted potatoes for celery root, as Ron and Robin weren’t any more enthused about trying celery root than I was. We added onion, as it seemed Just Wrong not to have onion in curry. Squash was butternut instead of delicata (which is an acorn variant, I think?). Just before serving lime zest and juice were added. We used an entire 4-ounce jar of red curry paste, instead of just two teaspoons, because the red curry paste was anything but spicy. Interesting, a little sweeter than I expected, definitely more Thai flavor than the brisket. We ate it over rice, Ron and I took leftovers today.

Dinner tonight is probably chickpea curry. Stopping at the grocery store for chicken, because I don’t think I can do vegetarian two dinners plus plus the breakfast and lunch between all vegetarian. Or maybe we’ll do Thai grilled lamb salad (which I need to get lettuce for, so I’m stopping at the store either way). Yeah, we seem to have hit a south-Asian-ish streak in the recipe books, considering we’re skipping things like Tentacles ala Somebody or Other and Fancy-Schmancy Scrambled Eggs (aka Cheese Souffle – I made a cheese souffle once. Tasty scrambled eggs, but a hell of a lot of work).

Bonus Food Things:

Friday night I threw together a breakfast casserole, mostly of Capricon baking binge or Cafe leftovers: eggs (only not-leftovers), buttermilk, bacon, cheese, and bread cut into cubes, which we had Saturday morning. Usually I include onions, but that was more work than I wanted to bother with.

Sunday afternoon I made scones, with some some fairly dried out currants we’d found on the cleaning binge. Just a single batch! My right shoulder complained at me. Well, one giant scone, that we broke pieces off of and nommed. Apparently I was not scarred, other than shoulder grumpiness, by the pre-Capricon scone binge. The currants re-hydrated and the giant scone was yummy. We ate it as snack before the MuseCon meeting and as dessert in the evening.

This, That, and, Chicken and Leek Gratin

Woke up this morning with an earache and sore throat. It persisted long enough that I couldn’t wave it away as a result of drainage or dry air or whatever. Got into the doctor, she didn’t see anything. Continue with NSAIDs (had taken one this morning to try to head off TMJ issues during/because of the dental cleaning that I also had this morning), call if it gets worse.

Harper’s spring session started today. Ron ran him down this morning (I decided I needed moral support to go to the dentist), so tomorrow it’s back to dropping him off in the mornings. I don’t think it was a coincidence that Pippin had his Disapproving Dog face on this morning.

Got our WisCon memberships, made a room reservation, and put in to throw a MuseCon party yesterday.

Reading a biography of Rudyard Kipling, “The Long Recessional”, by David Gilmour.

Perturbed that it seems to be impossible for me to get an electronic copy of “The Fishing Fleet: Husband Hunting in the Raj” by Anne de Courcy. There is an ebook edition, but its unavailable in the US as there doesn’t seem to be a US publisher/licensee. I think I may e-mail the UK publisher and see if there’s any hope of a US ebook (I’d even swallow hard and take a Kindle version) coming out. Barring that, I’ll have to get a copy via ABE.

Cod Chicken and Leek Gratin

I made the gratin for dinner last night. I’ve been programmed by my childhood. A gratin with a meat other than ham (or turkey ham, which is what my grandmother used) is kinda odd. Not bad, but not as expected.

I didn’t weigh the potatoes, I probably used more than the recipe called for, because I was going by eyeballs. Recipe called for two leeks, but they came in a bundle of three so I used all three. No apologies for that, we like alliums. I ended up using some coconut milk in addition to the heavy cream called for, because of the extra potatoes. I also added some leftover swiss cheese to the top for the last bit of cooking, because it sounded good.

Overall good, although it could have used a little more time in the oven. Ron says cod would be good in it.  I was thinking perch. My problem is not that I don’t like fish, but that I’m very very fussy about it.

Last night I made the mashed potatoes to top the shepherd’s pie. Not sure if we’re doing that tonight or a curry.

Grumble and (Text) Book Shopping

Grumble grumble, have to go back to the dentist tomorrow morning. The crown installed Monday was on a lower back molar. The upper molar on that side isn’t perfectly aligned, so one quadrant isn’t worn down like the rest of the tooth, so my molar . . . has a fang, and said fang is occasionally rubbing a bit on the crown.  Making the trip un-drugged because (1) this shouldn’t be too scary, (2) I’m out of Xanax, and (3) I have a conference call in the afternoon and I’d rather not be in a Xanax-induced “keep doing things or turn into a pumpkin” and “only enough brain cells for one thought process at a time” states for it.

Started paying tuition for Robin for next semester, and bought books. Of the 11 required books, the bookstore has only 2 available. Being once again a savvy book-shopper, I got 10 of the books for a whole whopping $52.80, including shipping. Yes, a hair over $5/book.  I did have the advantage that these are books for Classical Mythology and World Mythology, so they’re things like “The Aeneid” and “The Norton Anthology of World Literature, Volume A”. I also have enough lead time, with spring semester not starting until mid-January, to stick with cheap shipping.

Looks like the book for The History of Western Civilization to 1650 is an e-book of some flavor that may be keyed to Harper’s system (have to do more digging), which the Harper bookstore doesn’t actually have. Finally, he’s taking Composition, with no book requisitioned at this time (I suspect there may not be one). Yeah, he’s doing a Humanities binge next semester.


Dogs, Fabric, Food, Etc.

Ron just pointed out that yesterday I said we looked at shelter websites on Sunday. That was Saturday, and we brought Pippin home Saturday evening.  Which you probably deduced, but I went back and corrected the entry anyway.

I actually cooked last night for the first time in, um, a long time. Since before it got disgustingly hot. About mid-afternoon my brain suddenly said “Pork chops with long-grain and wild rice!” (a staple from my childhood).

I couldn’t think of a reason not to, so I picked up Robin on my way home and we did the grocery shopping at Eurofresh (don’t trust Jewel/Dominick’s for fresh pork).  I didn’t get pork chops, technically; I got pork cutlets. And two boxes of Uncle Ben’s Original Recipe Long-Grain & Wild Rice. It was yummy, even if the pork was a bit over-cooked. I think Ron was a little disappointed, he’d suggested rice pilaf when I asked for shopping suggestions. But we’ll have that tonight.

Pippin was mystified by the process of doing dishes and cooking, but he was willing to help with the cooking part, especially the meat. He’s very good at being under foot in the kitchen, but at least he’s fast and maneuverable, besides being smaller than Eowyn was.

Last night was educational for Pippin. He figured out what the back yard is good for when not on a lead: running around like a loon. Did I mention that he’s fast? He and Ron were playing chase (well, Pippin was playing chase, Ron was mostly staying in one spot pretending he was going to pounce when Pippin circled by). Chase is a good game. Elrond wanted to play too, but I think Pippin was intimidated by his size, and bark, even though Elrond was using what I think of as his silly high-pitched voice.

Pippin is getting better about tolerating his Gentle Leader. Last night he made it through a whole walk (as opposed to a quarter), partly due, I think, to snacky distractions.

Pippin also learned to hunt bed-mice last night. Another game he approves of, although we’re working on no digging for bed-mice.  He plays fetch with a rope toy, too. Robin is another good toy – he can be nibbled on, he plays fetch, and he tolerates pouncing.

This morning Elrond and Pippin were getting closer to playing.  It seemed like Elrond was trying not to be too loud/scary; I think they’ll get it figured out sooner rather than later.

Here’s a picture of the boys Ron took this morning (before they started to almost-play). Click to embiggen:

From Drop Box

Yes, that’s hair all over the bed. Elrond is badly in need of grooming.

Ok, so on to fabric. Here’s the pictures of the fabric I got Saturday, each with a quarter for reference on print size.  You can embiggen if you want, but it’ll be more obvious that I had focusing issues.

Blue and purple paisley. Ron made a comment about how bright it was, despite being similar colors:

From Drop Box

Blue paisley with metallic silver. More restrained, but I still thought a whole garment of it would be too much, at least for me:

From Drop Box

Paisley/Floral combination. Yeah, apparently I was on a paisley kick. And here I thought I didn’t like amoebas on my fabric. This one just isn’t quite my colors.

From Drop Box

From a group of Christmas seasonal prints: pine cones, with metallic gold. I was seriously tempted on getting enough of this one for something for myself:

From Drop Box

I still haven’t gotten my Japanese garb pattern from Reconstructing History, so I dropped them e-mail. Which reminds me, I did get my grey print to make a new kosode, and the big oriental dragon print fabric.  I should get pictures of those, since I want to open the dragons up and see just how big the design is.

Last week I cut out a pair of hakama and a jacket-thing for Licentia, which I started hand-sewing yesterday. The MuseCon program book is thiiiis close to being done, but I figure it’s actually faster to hand-sew than to wait until I get to the sewing machine again.

Sunday evening we went to see Brave. It was really good, which I expect from Pixar. And very tear-jerking in spots.

Friday night we’re going to see a park district production of Into the Woods at Cutting Hall. Trying the balcony this time. They’re appending a “Jr.” to the end of the title, so I’m assuming the cast is mostly kids. Bunch of other good stuff coming up over the fall/winter/spring, too.  I like the first act of Into the Woods better than the second act, I think the messages get a little heavy-handed in the second act.

Started John Scalzi’s Redshirts last week, zoomed through the first half the main novella, and have bogged down. I think it’s more due to being emotional than issues with the writing. Re-visiting some mental comfort food, in the way of Louisa May Alcott, will see if I can pick Redshirts back up in a day or so.

Progress & Book Review

Turns out that one of the fabrics I ordered was out of stock. The one that I was hoping would match some brocade I have, of course.  No further progress on sewing, although I did raid the bins of fabric for doll clothes this morning, to cut out something for Licentia. I’m thinking knickers-like hakama relatives, like the ones shown here:


Not sure what I’m going to cut out for the top half.

Still waiting on my pattern from Reconstructing History.

Mostly we’ve been hiding from the heat, and yesterday I advanced some more on the Program Book Death March.  The end of the death march is in sight – my plan is to get it to the printer Monday, maybe Tuesday. Yesterday I got the grid done, despite the Drobo flaking out. We’re hoping it was only suffering from the heat, as Ron was able to successfully run a backup this morning. Fortunately, after shutting itself down the Drobo came back up long enough to synch with my laptop, so I was able keep working from my laptop’s local drive (was working off the Drobo).

I’m really glad we got Chrono Synch a couple years ago – I was looking for something to synchronize data on a USB drive with a hard drive, and although it was overkill, it was what I decided on, as most lighter programs seemed to push data one-way only. Besides synchronizing data, Chrono Synch will do automated backups, yadda yadda. And a year-ish ago they came out with Chrono Agent, which makes it even easier to set up automated synching between machines. I have Chrono Agent installed on my laptop, and when it starts up, it goes and looks for the desktop machine and synchronizes auto-magically if it can. Before I got Chrono Agent I had to manually fire off synchronizations. Mac-only, last time I looked, though.

This morning Ron went to fetch Robin, who’s been off dog-sitting since Friday. In a house that is, IIRC, air-conditioned. I’m getting tired of the bedroom. Not that I’m complaining, it’s better than no A/C at all!  Today is also a holiday for Ron’s office, and he’s taking off tomorrow, as are most of his co-workers. Not sure what his plans are for today and tomorrow.  He was nice and told me to take the truck today and tomorrow. I wasn’t unselfish enough to argue, since there’s nowhere he *has* to go. Hopefully he and Robin got home before it got too hot (no A/C in the Kia).

After getting the grid done yesterday, we went to see “Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Slayer”. It was a fun, fairly brainless, summer movie. Ron says it’s fairly different from the book, and that the book is better. We’ll probably go see “Brave” this weekend (checked yesterday to make sure it would still be at our preferred theatre), we waited until Robin got home since he wants to see it too.

Earlier this week I read “Unorthodox: the Scandalous Rejection of my Hasidic Roots”, by Deborah Feldman.  I’d looked at it a while back, and then Ron mentioned hearing an interview with the author, and he thought it was one I’d enjoy. He was right. I think I went through it in about 24 hours.

What “Unorthodox” is not: an ethnographic study of a modern Hasidic community, or a dispassionate dissection of her experiences. You do learn a few things about the particular sect the author belonged to, but mostly because it either relates directly to her life (how much schooling girls get), or incidentally. It also doesn’t strike me as a tell-all marvel-at-the-freaks book. She wasn’t happy living that life, and is critical of things, but it is a very self-reflective story.

Some parts of the book just made me cringe: when she’s contemplating her impending marriage she thinks about she and her fiancee will break free of stifling traditions, etc. You know that it’s just not going to happen, and you want to tell her she’s setting herself up to be let down.

I don’t get the impression that the author hates the Hasidic members of her family. Not necessarily loves all of them, but although I don’t think she ever says it, I’d guess she still loves her grandmother, who raised her after her own mother left the Hasidic community. Or maybe I want her to still love Bubby, because Bubby is just as much a victim of the society as she is.

Currently reading “The Crossing Places”, by Elly Griffiths; the first in a mystery series with a modern archaeologist/forensic pathologist protagonist. I seem to have developed a thing for British mystery authors. Probably related to watching BBC mystery/detective shows. I’ve also read and enjoyed a couple of the Midsomer/DCI Barnaby books by Caroline Grahame, and most of the “Simon Serrailer” series by Susan Hill (although the reviews of the current one aren’t good, so I haven’t bothered with it). The first “Bryant and May” or “Peculiar Crimes Unit” mystery by Christopher Fowler was also good, need to get more of those.

I’ve figured out one thing with series like these – I need to  not read them too quickly. A few years ago I started the “Sookie Stackhouse” series and enjoyed them, but read too many too quick, burned out, and haven’t read any more.

I am *SUCH* an idiot…

I ordered some books, as I said I probably would, from ABE today.

Except I got all the way through the checkout process ignoring the fact I was doing it using the card I lost at MuseCon last year.

I managed to cancel three of the books, but not the fourth one before it was declined. I sent notes off to all four booksellers saying, in effect, “I’m an idiot, please re-list the books and I’ll try again.” The bookseller for book #4 responded and asked if I wanted him to send me a PayPal invoice instead of waiting for ABE to re-list, which sounded great to me.

Paid that, waited a little while, and for grins looked to see if the other books were re-listed (bookseller #4 said ABE’s system would do it automatically). They were, so I re-ordered, making sure I bought the books from the same sellers again.

Hopefully this is my only attack of Stoopid for the day…