by dichroic in daily updates

I do not understand why WordPress gives me so many issues with adding images these days, but I always seem to have to go back to Classic mode to do it. Blah.

Anyway, I have just upgraded again and hopefully I can figure it out on this version because I have an awesome trip to write about!

First we went to New Orleans for Tulane homecoming. We flew in on the redeye, and spent the next couple of days with Ted’s college gang revisiting their old haunts. So picture a bunch of guys their fifties partying like they dd at twenty, only with less-unreasonable alcohol consumption and nights that ended at 12 or 1 instead of 2 … or sunrise. That actually sounds awful but it was wonderful because of course they weren’t random fiftyish dudes but old friends. They’re Ted’s old friends, not mine, but I really enjoy these guys. So we got to go to their class party in the Aquarium, to Pat-O’s (Pat O’Brians) for hurricanes, to a couple of oyster bars (one for snacks Friday night, one for breakfast Sunday), to a football game in which Tulane beat Tulsa by a big margin, a nice wine bar, a very crowded restaurant for some slightly overcooked New Orleans BBQ shrimp, and Cooter Brown’s. Cooter’s is not recommended for tourists – it’s a dive bar they used to patronize as drunken undergrads. Good beer selection though! But Ted didn’t have any, as he and his old roommate of course needed to stop at the drive-through daiquiri place in order to relive the full drunken undergrad experience!

The last night we were out until 1 – then I realized I’d left my phone in the Uber car. We were able to contact the driver and get it back but that took another hour – and Ted had to get up at 4 for an early flight out. So that left him 2 hours of sleep, which turned into 3 because the change away from Daylight Savings kicked in right then. I was flying out a couple hours later (to Poland, which will need to be another entry) but never got back to sleep so I passed the time contacting my credit card companies to notify them I’d be traveling. Not restful!

boots and cats

by dichroic in daily updates

After 4 weeks with the new kitten, I have scrapes and scratches all over my body – but she’s still pretty adorable. She doesn’t do it on purpose – when she deliberately touches skin it’s with velvet paws. It’s just that gravity sometimes gets the best of her – yesterday, after I finished erging, she jumped from the back of my couch onto my leg. A short distance, and I didn’t mind since I was done working out …. until she started to slip backward and tried to hand on. I now have parallel scores across my left thigh. Ow. Oolong puts up with her reasonably well; Ted’s theory is that she’s viewing Pinot as her own personal Cat Entertainment TV channel.

We’re taking them to the lake house tonight; here’s hoping this goes as well as their first trip there. (Might or might not. This time we’re in the truck, and they’ll be in the back seat where they can see us and we can hear them – last time they were in the back of my hatchback, a little further away. Not putting them in the truck bed, even with the camper top, after what happened to Macchiato there.

But what prompted this tardy update is realizing my bootiversary is this month (probably already happened). In October of 2009 we were on a driving trip to Tasmania, after competing in Sidney in the Masters World Games. While in Hobart, I tried to buy a pair of the classic Australian boot, Blundstones – but the guy in the shoestore didn’t want to sell them to me. Blundstone had recently moved their manufacturing out of Tassie to Korea. He recommended a pair in similar style by Rossi instead. I’m wearing them today. Not the same style. Not even the black pair I later ordered because I liked my original brown ones so much, but that original pair I bought. They’ve been all over Europe and pretty uch any other chilly place I”ve traveled, and they’ve been my most-frequently-worn footwear for the cooler half of ten years now. I took them to the cobbler last year to be polished and spiffed up a bit last year because they were pretty scuffed, but I am still on the original soles.

When I posted about them on FB, someone mentioned the Sam Vimes Economic Theory of boots. Much as I believe in that theory, that’s not the only thing at work here. If you happen to be in Australian and can buy a pair, you’ll spend about AUD$130, which is around $90 US right now. (Of course they’re more if you buy them from a US importer – a good reason to travel to Oz every decade or so!) That’s not cheap for shoes, but it’s hardly pricy designer range either – more like what you’d pay for a brand like Keen or Merrell, if not on sale. And those are good quality shoes – but they don’t last me a decade!!! So I think my bootiversary is worth noting, and when these do finally fall apart I will be finding an importer to order a new pair from.

I have a new baaaaaby!!

by dichroic in daily updates

And I’m late posting, because I adopted her a week and a half ago. Meet Pinot Gris:

She’s not perfect – for instance there’s her habit of walking straight up the nearest human to get up to a surface she can’t jump up to yet, not realizing that her claws go *right through* clothing 8nto skin, and I’m definitely getting a lot less knitting done as I try to keep her from biting the yarn. Also, she keeps trying to nurse on my face and neck, a very wet process.

But she is pretty special. She likes to nuzzle into my neck and gently pat my face with her claws in. She doesn’t scratch or bite humans on purpose, though my skin is starting to look like and old map from all the lines she’s scratched into it by accident. She’s snuggly, not at all shy, and likes humans. I can’t say she and Oolong are BFFs yet but they have a pretty good truce going – I only had to keep Pinot shut in a spare bedroom for a few days. She likes music, even my singing. She likes to sleep on me – though I’m also getting less sleep because she gets rambunctious for a while til she settles don’t think there’s any such thing as a calm kitten, but she’s only reasonably destructive. She follows me everywhere and sits on my lap and lets me rub her floodgates belly without attacking. Ok, she’s pretty perfect (and I’m pretty besotted).

But she does add new challenges to my morning routine!

documenting silly body stuff

by dichroic in daily updates

Weird thing happened to me last night – documenting it in case it happens again, so I’ll know when it started.

Around 2AM, I woke up feeling like I’d just swallowed a bit of acid – throat burning, acidic taste in the back of my mouth. Ensue coughing, retching and lots of saliva and mucus produced as my body tried to get it of it – not really vomiting, just bringing up clear liquid as you sometimes do when nauseated by a postnasal drip rather than by actual stomach upset.

As best I can guess from consultation with Dr. Google, I had some acid reflux (= esophageal sphincter didn’t seal right, let some stomach acid up the esophagus) and then aspirated it down my windpipe, since I was lying down asleep.

When I woke up the next morning at 6, my throat was burning and throat muscles were sore, and it felt like when you’ve been in a pool or exercising all day and you cough whenever you try to take a deep breath (exercise-induced asthma). Four hours later, the throat is still burning and swallowing is a little uncomfortable but my lungs are feeling better.

Not a lot of fun – I hope it was a one-time fluke. I’ve never had GERD, though my Mom does, but the reading I did last night sitting by the toilet makes me think I might have laryngopharingeal reflux, however you spell that; I clear my throat a lot and often feel like something is caught in my throat.

Also while I’m documenting, my back was sore again all last week while at the lake house, though it’s better now. It’s possible the bed there is the problem, though I think it’s more likely getting out in actual boats, both scull and kayak. Or maybe both things. (Ted used to have back issues there and says it turned out to be his pillows, rather than the mattress.)

rough week

by dichroic in daily updates

Labor Day week was supposed to be wonderful. We planned to pack up the cats and spend the week at the lake – Ted took the week off, since he has more vacation time, and I’d get the long weekend and then work from home.

Well, we did that but it didn’t go quite as planned. I should mention that one or both seemed to be off their feed all the preceding week (hard to tell which when they share a dish) but otherwise behaved normally except for one morning when Macchiato fell asleep behind my computer monitor and didn’t rouse when I petted her. Anyway, they both seemed fine when we caged them and took them out to the truck. We put them in the back of the truck this time – there’s a camper top, so it’s sae. We lashed down the carriers so they wouldn’t tumble, opened the doors so the cats could walk around, and laid out some blankets for their comfort. It wasn’t hot, but we opened a side window for ventilation.

When we were nearly to the house, we called in a takeout pizza order. When we stopped to pick it up, we went to check on the cats and found them yelling their heads off. Oolong looked fine but Macciato was on her side, panting and legs all well. She did get up then, and jump forward as if to get out of the truck so we knew she wasn’t hurt. We figured we were only about 10-15 minutes from home, so if something about the truck bothered her we’d be home soon. We grabbed the pizza, got back out three minutes later, rechecked the cats …. and found Macchiato lying on her side, very still. So we peeled out of theparing lot and headed straight to the vet who was fortunately located right across the street, only to be told she was gone.

A week later, back home, we had the annual check up for Oolong with our home vet canceling Macchiato’s appointment was a bit painful). We told her the full story and she noted in the records that Macchiato had a heart murmur, so best guess is that it was due to heart issues that escalated quickly. She was only 7. She used to like to sleep nestled in my arms – a bit painful, as that put her claws up by my armpits, but so endearing I didn’t have the heart to stop her.

As for the rest of the week, a few days later Ted got a cold, then I got it, and the weather was often a bit rough for rowing. And lots did get done on the house, but not the long-awaited and wished-for 6-burner range.

It wasn’t all awful and I’d have enjoyed the week a lot if not for Macchiato’s shadow haging over us. On the plus side we now have working pendant lights, wall oven, microwave, frige and wine fridge. And a week at the lake is still way better than a week in the office, even if I do have to work, and I did get out rowing 3 times and kayaking twice. It just … could be better.

Next week we need to head down to Ted’s parents’ town. His dad is having surgery and his mom’s memory loss means they probably need someone else around. (Am I the only one whose own experiences with aging family make them very uneasy with not only Trump, but with people as old as Biden, Warren and Sanders running in 2020? Even the ones who are now in their 90s or over 100 and still mentally sharp were, by their late 70s, definitely not the forces they once had been.)

Anyway, surgery is on Monday so we’ll head to the lake house Friday and the rest of the way down there Sunday. Hopefully the rest of the lights, the stove, and garbage disposals will all be functional when we get there, and the cabinet doors in place. I don’t think the garage will be done yet, but the kitchen remodel is much more exciting for me!

playing Hestia

by dichroic in daily updates

This weekend we stayed home for once – with the renovations in full swing, we’ve been going to the lake house most weekends.

Sunday we went to a wine blending event. We were given young Syrah, Merlot and Cabernet Franc wines, and challenged to try different proportions to create a tasty blend. We’ve been to a few of these. One winery does it as a Valentine’s Day event (“create a blend to reflect your love”, oy, but it’s fun), another did it more as an educational thing with lectures from their winemaker. This one did it as a friendly contest; I’m proud to say I won for our table and came in second overall.

Then on Sunday I was a domestic goddess; shopping at both the farmer’s market and the supermarket, plus the toy store to buy a small birthday gift for my nephew. His family will be visiting us over his birthday; we’re taking him to a ropes course / ziplining place, but that will be a couple days after his birthday and I wanted him to have something to open (he’s 8, and lives on the opposite coast so I don’t get to see him often). Then I made soft pretzels and mozzarella cheese from scratch, plus a chicken tortilla bake for dinner. Also I did some finances and we dropped off my husband’s truck for some regular maintenance.

Unfortunately I seem to have done something to my back. On Saturday before going to the winery, I did 10km on the rowing machine; while stretching afterward, something in my lower back went *sproing!* It doesn’t really hurt, but definitely feels a bit stiff and out of whack. I didn’t dare row Sunday (well, just a very light 1km to see how it felt), so I biked to the farmer’s market just to get in some exercise. It did make buying flowers and getting them home a bit more challenging!

I miss the other house, though! Apparently they’re getting the cabinets installed, so we’ll have those to see next weekend. Unfortunately there has been some drama; when they shipped the stone for our new countertops, the slab broke! We went and picked new ones, but they are getting a new delivery in tomorrow that we want to go see, just in case there’s something we fall in love with. I like the soapstone we picked, but I think Ted would prefer something with more visible veining.

the aging of Alanna

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Tamora Pierce’s first book, Alanna, was published in 1983 – the year before I started college at Pierce’s own alma mater. This explains why I never read her books at the proper age, why they’re not part of my formative canon as they are for so many younger fantasy readers, and why I’m just getting around to them now.

I wonder whether they will fill that role for budding fantasy readers today, because this, Pierce’s first series, hasn’t aged that well. I read her Circle series a few years back and don’t remember the same issues, so probably these are mostly first-book (or at least first-series) writer issues. First, I recognize this as the source of some of those tropes Diana Wynne Jones’ Tough Guide to Fantasyland land and similar writings are making fun of – the violet eyes, for instance. Alanna is a bit of a Mary Sue, too, in the way everyone loves her – in some cases, instantly. Sir Myles affection for Alanna feels a little creepy to me and I was honestly relieved when the Mother Goddess herself told Alanna “He only wants to be your father”.

There’s the gender thing. Even though the whole premise of the book is about Alanna being a girl set on becoming a knight, the gender stereotypes are reinforced heavily and often. “Alanna realized that boys didn’t understand girls any better than girls understood boys” – well, it’s understandable if her fellow squires and pages, having lived in an almost exclusively male world for years, don’t understand girls and view them as a thing apart, but I would hope Alanna is comfortable with boys by that point! The rigid gender roles seem a little odd in a country that has had warrior maidens in the past but gender perceptions have varied enough through Earth’s history, and have varied rapidly enough, that I think that bit is realistic.

And then there’s the way a couple of male characters, sympathetic ones, forcibly kiss Alanna after she’s told them no, and this is presented as just peachy fine – in fact, she learns to like it. And she’s told, again by the Goddess, that wanting to avoid entangling relationships due to her career goals means she’s afraid of love and she needs to get over it.

The important determination for if the book is dated, of couse, isn’t whether those things bug me but if they’d bug a 12-year-old. I think some of them might, though not as much as they bother me. In reverse order: the forcible kissing would not have bothered me at all when I was 12 back in 1979 – I know, because sex enforced through the the dragon or fire lizard links in the Pern books didn’t phase me. I think awareness has risen enough that it might be a problem for a kid now. Same for the suspicions of Sir Myles, and probably for the gender-difference reinforcement – then again, the last time someone told me men and women are inherently different was about half an hour ago, literally.

As for the other items… common tropes are not a problem to anyone who is coming to them freshly, and I think the way everyone loves Alanna would have felt like wish-fulfillment to be as a reader. (Wish fulfillment is what you call a Mary Sue when you aren’t being critical! After all, there’s a reason there are so many of them. Overall, I think I’d have loved the series, even if I had a couple nits to pick.

to drive or to Pride?

by dichroic in daily updates

For some reason my computer doesn’t want to access this site right now. Phone typing is slow. Oh well.

Ted heads off to the Netherlands today so I’m on my own for the weekend. I’m dithering over whether to go to the lake house or stay home and attend Portland Pride on Sunday. Either way I’d be doing something – either the long solo drive or dealing with the heat and crowds at Pride.

Consideration for the house: if I can leave work at noon, I’d need to go home change, pack clothes and food and put out extra food and water, for the cats, (say, half an hour), get gas, and drive down. It would be 2.5 or maybe even over 3 hours with Friday afternoon traffic. It would be exciting to go – they’ve gotten the siding on, exterior painting started, insulation being put in. If all goes well, they will be dry-walling next week. It might be useful if I can take photos of the wiring before they cover it, though it all the insulation is in it might be too late already. I’ve been more comfortable driving on local highways lately and it would be good for me to do a bit more distance driving, even if it still makes me uncomfortable. And I can row, or kayak or both. Also, we forgot to put up the barriers against geese last time we left!

Arguing against the solo road trip, we’ll be there next weekend anyway, and the weekend after (and all July 4 week) so I would just be seeing this all a week later (except the wiring won’t be visible). Also, getting my boat out is not that easy, since it’s sitting in front of the house and I’d have to take it all the way around, without hitting a tree on the way. And I’d be the one stuck washing goose poop off the dock, all on my own. The other big thing is that I haven’t planned meals, though I do have enough food, and most of all, it would mean I’d be pretty much all alone all weekend. If the drive down sucks and is anxiety making, I’d still have to drive back, with no other options.

Consideration for going to Pride: it should be fun. I can offer support for people I want to support. I can even be part of it instead of just a spectator: I can march in the parade with my company’s contingent. The weather is supposed to be perfect – sunny and 81F. I’ve never been to Pride, or much of any activist parade, and I feel like kind of a slacker.

Against it: not going to the house. Dealing with what might be overwhelming crowds and the inevitable lack of enough toilets. It might still be uncomfortably hot if the forecast isn’t right – it hit the high 90s a few days ago. Also, as a cishet ally, is it better to go and show support, or to stay away and leave the LGBTQ+ community to celebrate on its own? (And yes, I totally am making this decision all about me, but in my head and in my blog I think that’s reasonable. If I go to the parade, I will not expect cookies, I promise – or rather, I kind of will, at least in my own head, for stepping out of my own comfort zone re crowds etc, but not because it’s Pride specifically.)

I don’t know, but I have about 2 hours to decide.

Remodeling progress

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We we’re at the lake house this weekend but not last, so it’s been two weeks since we’ve seen the place. We have been talking to the contractors, though. The bad news is, there was a miscommunication with the garage door people, and their wood-fronted door is a normal overhead one after all, not a roll-up. (From what I;ve seen, this was entirely poor communication on the side of the garage door company, not our contractors. So we’re back to having a plain white metal door. It was important to us not to have the rails of an overhead door – it cuts into the boat rack storage area.

But they’re made a ton of progress; the ground floor has walls now, and the second floor is framed in, with the ceiling trusses up. The windows have arrived, and the old roof has been removed, over the whole house (the need to replace the roof and fix some trim was one of the concerns driving the timing of this whole effort).

The thing that amazes me most is, pretty much all of this has been done by two guys. I suspect progress will actually slow down when the get to the painting (indoor and outdoor), cabinetry and countertops, and they have to bring in specialty crews.

Notes on attempting to KonMari my clothing

by dichroic in daily updates

1. When I can’t figure out if something “sparks joy”, it can be more helpful to ask myself if I enjoy wearing it – or even, in some cases, if I enjoy owning it (e.g. my 15-million-meter t-shirt from Concept 2.) And then there’s my Intel volunteer shirt, where I don’t like wearing the shirt at all, but I like the things I get to do while wearing it, like singing in a choir performance.
2. My dresser drawers are quite long; shirts folded and stored vertically work much better in shorter rows from front to back thanlonger rows from side to side – easier to fill one whole row and leave another open for all the shirts I’m putting in the wash.
3. Speaking of which, wow it’s hard to get antiperspirant out of clothing (which is why I have so many otherwise clean shirts that need to be washed again). It’s hard to get off skin too; maybe I should just give up and switch to deodorant. They really need to invent a formula that doesn’t dissolve in sweat but dissolves instantly in soapy water.
4. Kondo’s method of thanking things for their service is surprisingly helpful when trying to get rid of, say, the alpaca cape I bought in Ecuador but never wore, or stuff that reminds me of living abroad when I bought it but that I don’t wear anymore due to change in style, size or lifestyle. I’m even giving up the purple skirt I knitted that’s a bit tight – though not the first cadre I ever knitted. I can’t give that away because I’d want to scavenge the buttons. Seems wrong to donate it without those and I’m too lazy to sew on less nice buttons. On the other hand, I don’t want to frog it and save the yarn, because if I liked how that yarn knitted up I would wear the sweater more 8n the first place!
5. This may be sacrilege, but I threw out a sweater made of Wollemeise. It had a hole, so possibly moths. Also, that yarn has beautiful colors, but it feels like string both while knitting and while wearing. I like the lines of the sweater but the neck never draped right and I didn’t like the fabric – I’m not a fan of reverse stockinette.
6. I do love sweaters, though. According to Kondo you are not supposed to have to rotate clothing seasonally, but I still have too many sweaters to keep both winter and summer ones accessible. What can I say, they do spark joy! But now I have one vacuum bag instead of 4.
7. My closet still doesn’t look minimal at all – but I’m giving away 8 bags of stuff! (One is still waiting for stuff I’m laundering.)
8. I will never ever ever do this with my books.