Saturday, February 04, 2023

4.4 Information - In the News

Bestest Friend and I are doing a blog project. Each day we will write a post on a pre-determined theme chosen by a random noun generator. The theme for the fourth day of the month is "Information."


When I was teaching, I stayed on top of the news. I never knew when a student was going to ask me about the latest legislation or the war in Myanmar. But once I stopped teaching, I also stopped reading the headlines every morning and clicking refresh on NPR's homepage every hour. I checked in occasionally and religiously checked the local news, but I wasn't always willing to deal with the stress of the news daily.

I've been trying to dip my toes back in to regular news consumption. But today I read about how the 5th Circuit Court ruled that the government cannot legally remove firearms from people who have civil protective orders against them. So, hey, you have enough evidence that a judge granted you a protection order, but that's not enough for us to take away the guns of your stalker/abuser. Oh, boy. The legal reasoning for this relies on a court case with more logical flaws than my cat when she wants dinner an hour and a half early.  But so we go on. 

Then I read about ice storms in Texas and people without power for days on end. Mass shootings. A woman who someone thought was dead, but was not and woke up gasping for air at a funeral home. 

And then I just stopped and read a novel because it turns out I do not know what to do with this bad news floating around in my brain. 

Friday, February 03, 2023

4.3 Direction - Hair Decisions

Bestest Friend and I are doing a blog project. Each day we will write a blog post on a pre-determined theme chosen by a random noun generator. The theme for the third day of the month is "Direction."


For many years, I kept my hair chin length with a pop of color in it to cover up my boring blah brown with grey hair color. This is from November 2019.

But the pandemic hit and I didn't get my hair done for years and then it grew out and now it's shoulder length and *egads* my natural color. That color is salt and pepper, my friends. 

I went to get a cut yesterday and my stylist was laughing that she has a client who wants my exact shade of blah and she can't quite get her there. I laughed and told her that I'm at a crossroads in my hair life. I actually like that I don't get it colored every eight weeks and the low-maintenance aspect of longer hair sort of pleases me. I can just throw it into a ponytail if it's greasy or if the blowout doesn't go well. But I really think the color ages me and gives me the sads. So what direction do I go?

For now, I'm just getting it cut regularly - I go every eight weeks. But since I don't have a job and money is tight, I can't justify coloring regularly. But should I go back to shorter hair? Bangs? (No. Bangs are never the answer.)

Eh. Here's to aging gracefully, however you manage to do that.

January 2023 Accountability Buddy

Most of the time these days, I am working out upstairs in a room with a weight set and a bench, but I miss the days when I exercised downstairs and the girls would watch. I need to consider bringing yoga back downstairs because I love it when I do a yoga session with Hannah by my side and Zelda trying to climb onto my chest. 

Sunday, January 1
30-minute Caroline Girvan Iron series (day 24 - fully body dumbbell circuits)
15-minute leg stretch video with the earnest guy

Monday, January 2
30-minute Caroline Girvan Iron series (day 25- shoulders) - So much shoulders
15-minute neck and shoulder stretch video

Tuesday, January 3
30-minute Yoga with Adriene (day 1 - Center)

Wednesday, January 4
15-minute stretch class at lunchtime*
30-minute cardio & core class
30-minute body blast class

Thursday, January 5
30-minute Caroline Girvan Iron series (day 26 - legs)
15-minute leg stretch with the earnest guy

Friday, January 6
15-minute stretch class at lunchtime

Saturday, January 7
30-minute Yoga with Adriene (day 2 - Center)

Sunday, January 8
30-minute Caroline Girvan Iron series (day 27 - arms) - Forget that last burnout round. LOL.

Monday, January 9
15-minute stretch class at lunchtime (WILD discussion about peanut butter cups in the chat during this class)
60-minute yoga class at the community center

Tuesday, January 10
30-minute tabata class (cardio-based)
15-minute standing core video
15-minute leg stretch with the earnest guy

Wednesday, January 11
15-minute stretch class at lunchtime
30-minute cardio and core class
30-minute body blast class

Thursday, January 12
Day off

Friday, January 13
20-minute (of the 30) Caroline Girvan Iron series (day 28 - glutes) - too many glutes!
15-minute total body and abs HIIT workout from Fitness Blender
15-mintue leg stretch with the earnest guy

Saturday, January 14
25-minute Yoga with Adriene (day 3 - Center)
10-minute back and core video

Sunday, January 15
30-minute Caroline Girvan Iron series (day 29 - total body) 
15-mintue leg stretch with the earnest guy

Monday, January 16
60-minute yoga class at the community center

Tuesday, January 17
30-minute Caroline Girvan Iron series (day 30 - arms and core)
10-minute yoga video from Fightmaster Yoga

Wednesday, January 18
Day off

Thursday, January 19
30-minute Caroline Girvan Fuel series (day 1 - legs)
15-minute leg stretch with the earnest guy

Friday, January 20
30-minute Yoga with Adriene (day 4 - Center)

Saturday, January 21
30-minute Caroline Girvan Fuel series (day 2 - upper body)

Sunday, January 22
30-minute Caroline Girvan Fuel series (day 3 - glutes & hamstrings)
10-minute foam rolling legs/glutes

Monday, January 23
15-minute stretch class at lunchtime
60-minute yoga class at the community center

Tuesday, January 24
30-minute tabata class (mostly lower-body/cardio)

Wednesday, January 25
15-minute stretch class at lunchtime
Lots of shoveling, but nothing formal

Thursday, January 26
Shoveling, so much shoveling
30-minute Caroline Girvan Fuel series (day 4 - total body)
20-minute stretching video (this went really well with the total body workout)

Friday, January 27
15-minute stretch class at lunchtime
30-minute Caroline Girvan Fuel series (day 5 - dumbbell cardio)
15-minute recovery stretch video

Saturday, January 28
30-minute Yoga with Adriene (day 5 - Center)

Sunday, January 29
30-minute Caroline Girvan Fuel series (day 6 - legs)
10-minute leg stretch video (this one is insane and I had to do a lot of modifications - this woman is bendy!)

Monday, January 30
60-minute yoga class at the community center

Tuesday, January 31
30-minute tabata class
20-minute Yoga with Adriene video (day 6 - Center) - Good core workout.

Totals: 27/31 (87.1%) days of formal workouts of 30 minutes or more
18 strength/cardio workouts
8 yoga sessions

*Our local health care group offers free 15-minute stretch classes on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays through Zoom. They are free! It's fun! Come join us! Sign up here

Thursday, February 02, 2023

4.2 Entertainment - Fix It!

Bestest Friend and I are doing a blog project. Each day we will write a blog post on a pre-determined them chosen by a random noun generator. The theme for the second day of the month is "Entertainment." 


My general rule of thumb is that if something is bothering me every day, I need to fix it. This is big things (I'm unhappy with my work situation) or small things (there was a stupid piece of trim in our dining room that was missing for years and it bothered me because I looked at it every time I ate in my seat at the table).  I am a natural complainer, but I'm also someone who realizes that no one cares about what I'm complaining about as much as I do, so if it's annoying, I have to be proactive and fix it. 

Years ago I made a grocery bag holder and we use it a fair amount. Stitches had fallen out and the ribbon I'd used to hang it had become so wrapped on the knob that when I removed it today, I had to use a knife. It was still technically usable, but its faults bothered me enough that I decided to replace it.

It had been a hot minute since I'd busted out my trusty old sewing machine, but I looked up a quick tutorial and decided I could spend an hour or so on this project. The thing is that the room with sewing machine in it has mostly been used as an exercise room recently, so I had to work around the weights and bench. The description of the project said it should take 15-20 minutes, but it took me closer to an hour. Honestly, it took me 15-20 minutes just to set up my ironing board, sewing machine, and cut the fabric. I'm definitely out of practice!

This particular project required very little in the way of materials:

1 large, rectangular piece of fabric (mine is 18" x 20'')
1 smaller, rectangular piece of fabric (mine is 2" x 10")
2 pieces of elastic (mine were 5" each, next time I might go up to 6")
A couple of safety pins are useful

And then it magically turned into a replacement bag holder. It feels like a big upgrade.

Have you made something recently? What's your latest creative endeavor?

January 2023 Book List

 1/1: A Spell of Winter by Helen Dunmore (library, 1995) - Just a weird little book about incest. 3/5 stars

1/2: The Accomplice by Lisa Lutz (library, 2022) - I adored this book.  Lutz is such a reliably consistent author who always works for me no matter what she writes. 4.5/5 stars

1/4: Amari and The Night Brothers (Supernatural Investigations #1) by B.B. Alson (library, 2021) - A perfectly good, heartfelt fantasy novel for kids about a girl trying to find her missing brother, learning she's a magician, and figuring out her place in a new world all at the same time. 4/5 stars

1/6: Son of the Shadows (Sevenwaters #2) by Juliet Marillier (library ebook, 2000) - Second book in a series and the plot really ratchets up in this one. 4.5/5 stars

1/6: Correction in Ink: A Memoir by Keri Blakinger (library, 2022) - Former heroin addict writes about her time in prison. I thought the most interesting part of her story was her re-entry, but, sadly, that was only the last few pages of the book. 3.5/5 stars

1/7: Hello Stranger (Ravenels #4) by Lisa Kleypas (library ebook, 2018) - This historical romance novel about a doctor and her studly suitor really appealed to me. 4.5/5 stars

1/10: American Royalty (American Royalty #1) by Tracey Livesay (library ebook, 2022) - Black American rapper meets white prince and they fall in love. These two cannot possibly make it. 3.5/5 stars

1/11: Transcendent Kingdom by Yaa Gyasi (library, 2020) - Book club book of the month. Just fine. 3.5/5 stars

1/12: Magic's Promise (Valdemar: The Last Herald Mage #2) by Mercedes Lackey (library, 1990) - Valdemar is living up to its promise as a good fantasy epic so far. 4/5 stars

1/15: Spoiler Alert (Spoiler Alert #1) by Olivia Dade (library audiobook narrated by Isabelle Luther, 2020) - Terrible romance novel. 1.5/5 stars

1/16: Black Sun (Between Earth and Sky #1) by Rebecca Roanhorse (library ebook, 2020) - Fantasy I wanted to like more than I did. 3/5 stars

1/16: Magic's Price (Valdemar: The Last Herald Mage #3) by Mercedes Lackey (library, 1990) - Pretty good. I enjoyed spending time with Van. 4/5 stars

1/18: Devil's Daughter (The Ravenels #5) by Lisa Kleypas (library ebook, 2019) - I'm enjoying these books now and that's all there is to it. 4/5 stars

1/18: Love & Saffron: A Novel of Friendship, Food, and Love by Kim Fay (library, 2022) - Lovely story about how friendship grows. 5/5 stars

1/20: Every Summer After by Carley Fortune (library, 2022) - What a weird book. It's a mashup of an adult romance and a YA novel. I have some issues with lax parenting and excessive drinking and drug usage with this book, but it was also really hard to put down. 4/5 stars

1/21: Bad City: Peril and Power in the City of Angels by Paul Pringle (library, 2022) - Wild ride about corruption in Los Angeles from city hall to USC to the police to the editors of the newspaper. 4.5/5 stars

1/22: The Roughest Draft by Emily Wibberley & Austin Siegemund-Broka (library, 2022) - Romance novels about two authors in which writing takes center stage. I wanted to like it a lot more than I did. 2.5/5 stars

1/22: Child of the Prophecy (Sevenwaters #3) by Juliet Marillier (library ebook, 2001) - Really good fantasy.  4.5/5 stars

1/24: Wrong Place Wrong Time by Gillian McAllister (library, 2022) - Really interesting premise, but I didn't really love it. 3.5/5 stars

1/24: Nora Goes Off Script by Annabel Monaghan (library ebook, 2022) - How romance should be done. 5/5 stars

1/26: Keeper of the Lost Cities by Shannon Messenger (library book, 2012) - My beloved nerdy nephews were talking about this book at Christmas and they really recommended it. It's a pretty intense rip-off of Harry Potter. I can see why they liked it, but it wasn't for me. 2.5/5 stars

1/26: Funny You Should Ask by Elissa Sussman (library ebook, 2022) - A journalist writes a profile of an actor that makes her career and years later they meet again. There's a dog and that really improved this just sort of meh romance novel. 3.5/5 stars

1/28: Sea of Tranquility by Emily St. John Mandel (library, 2022) - Simply beautiful and admirable. 4.5/5 stars

Total: 23 books (calm down, a bunch were early readers or romance novels - I'm not reading War and Peace over here)
Average star rating: 3.8/5 stars


A Girl is a Half-Formed Thing by Eimear McBride - I don't have the patience to wade through stream of consciousness, let alone stream of consciousness with a child as a narrator. I'm sure it has a great payoff, but it's not my jam. DNF at page 10. Ha.

Disappearing Earth by Julia Phillips - I downloaded this audiobook because it was on my list and available immediately. It wasn't very long before I realized it was about a child abduction and I was made uncomfortable by it and stopped early on. DNF at 5%.

Wednesday, February 01, 2023

4.1 Hat - Cold Snap

Bestest Friend and I are doing a blog project. Each day we will write a blog post on a pre-determined theme chosen by a random noun generator. The theme for the first day of the month is "Hat."


(Not a complaint, but a bit of a conundrum. Twelve months on the theme of "hat" is going to be tough.)

Yesterday was glorious. Sure, sure, it never got above zero all day, but the skies were blue, the sun was brilliant, and Hannah deigned to go on a walk with me all the way to the park and back. Look at the snow and frost on her muzzle! Look at how OVER photographs she was. Look at my ridiculous winter hat. Also, note that I am wearing my Craft hat under the knitted hat because it is cold, yo.

What a majestic beast. She doesn't like it when I pull her coat up over her ears and tell her she's wearing a hat. She's shakes her head and lets her ears out even though you know she's losing like 50% of her body heat through those things. 

I see photos of other dogs and they let their owners put hats on them. What's going on with girls that they're so protective of their ears?! 


Do you layer hats in the winter? Do your pets let you put hats on them? Do you like playing in the snow?

Sea of Tranquility by Emily St. John Mandel

Station Eleven 
The Glass Hotel

Sea of Tranquility is a hard book to describe. We follow multiple characters in various time periods and geographic locations. Edwin St. Andrew is the third son of a British noble who has been exiled to Canada in the early twentieth century, Olive Llewellyn is on a book tour on Earth in 2203, and Gaspery-Jacques Roberts is a detective in the far future who has been hired to solve a mystery. There are reappearances of characters from The Glass Hotel, so it was fun to think of this as part of the ESJM extended universe, like Taylor Jenkins Reid does. It is a standalone novel and you don't need to read The Glass Hotel to know what's going on, but they were fun Easter eggs. 

The writing in this book is divine. The pacing is spot on. There's a dog AND a cat. Her writing is effortless. The multiple storylines converge in a perfect way and it really rewards careful reading. 

I have a handful of quibbles with the book: the author substitute complaining about how hard her life on tour is a particular sort of whining that privileged people do that irritates me, the pandemic storyline was a little bit too on point, and time travel is not my favorite sci-fi trope, although I think she handled it really well here. But those quibbles do not overshadow my overall enjoyment of the book.

And, just like with all ESJM's books, I can't stop thinking about it days after I've finished it. There's something about the fact that we will all die and centuries from now, it won't matter how or when. I just keep looking around my house, a place I am so proud to call home, and wondering what will happen to all of it when I'm gone. 

4.5/5 stars

Lines of note:

Edwin is capable of action but prone to inertia. (page 5)

I think this one sentence describes me perfectly. I am Edwin.

Sometimes order can be relentless. (page 68)

Right? We had a friend in grad school whose house was immaculate. She had a big, dumb retriever named Thor and Thor got his paws washed and dried every time he came into the house. It was very stressful to be in her house, even though she was a lovely hostess and so very kind and obviously loved her dog very much.

"...I think, as a species, we have a desire to believe that we're living at the climax of the story. It's a kind of narcissism. We want to believe that we're uniquely important, that we're living at the end of history, that now, after all these millennia of false alarms, now is finally the worst that it's ever been, that finally we have reached the end of the world." (page 189)

One of the reasons that we never had children was because we really felt like it would be irresponsible to bring a child into a world where their future will never be as bright as ours were. Maybe it is narcissistic for us to feel this way, but we always thought we'd rather regret not having children instead of regretting having them.