A Week in the Life: December 13, 2019

Two house drama sagas were resolved this week: the ants and the shower. To be fair, the ants were resolved on the day they started. My duct tape barricade was effective, for the most part, but what really finished the job was the rain, which made it impossible for the ants to maintain their trail to the house. Kirk found the crack in the wall they were using to enter and patched it with a line of caulking, which also helped. As to the shower, it has been “done” for a month, but we were waiting on our final permit inspection, which finally happened yesterday (after a fair bit of harassing the contractor). The inspector approved everything, the contractor came out for a final walkthrough, and we sent the last of the money. FINALLY OVER. I look forward to never remodeling a shower again.

Consuming

Here are some things I read, watched, or bought this week.

Reading

I read some interesting books this week! One, Threads of Life: A History of the World through the Eye of a Needle is a combination of a social history of needlecraft and memoir. I enjoyed reading about something that we don’t have a lot of documented (well, written) history about because it’s often disregarded as unimportant since it’s “women’s work.” I’ve said before that knitting has really taught me how much work goes into making textiles and this book is another entry into my personal syllabus. Side note: I borrowed this book from the library, but the library bought it because I asked them too, which is pretty boss. Sacramento Public Library lets you put in up to 30 materials requests annually!

The second book, You Have the Right to Remain Fat: A Manifesto is pretty well what it sounds like. This book is, in a word, refreshing. It’s good to have a plainly written reminder that you are under no obligation to be thin. You can take up as much space as you want. Two bits that stuck with me are the phrase “In the future, I’m fat” and an anecdote about how, in certain cultures, fat is prized over thinness. The part that particularly stood out is that women in these cultures will pile clothes on before being weighed at the doctor instead of taking them off, which is what I tend to do. It just emphasizes that this is all made up. You don’t have to be any kind of way. Be how you want.

Some other reading from around the internet this week:

Watching

In a run of total comfort-watching, I watched the holiday episodes of the Great British Baking Show. I got really excited when they made Icelandic laufabrauð in the technical challenge because I knew what it was, and I’ve usually never heard of any of the stuff they make in the technical challenge.

Rampant Consumerism

In the ongoing effort to reduce the plastic in my life, I ordered some “naked” soaps from Lush to replace my normal face wash stuff. I must report that so far, so good. They probably are a bit more expensive than buying Target brand or what have you, but they smell really nice and are less wasteful.

Making Things and Doing Stuff

Kirk bowling, taken from behind
Kirk doing the bowling

This week has been full of activity. Despite that it’s the off season, there were derby things last weekend. I’ve been filling all my evening time with reading and baking. I have been invited to help out with something called the Cookie Project, which involves delivering homemade cookies to people working shitty, non-essential jobs on Christmas day, so I’ve finally got a good excuse to make an unreasonable amount of cookies (because otherwise I’ll just eat them all). On top of all that, Kirk and I went bowling last weekend. Kirk was into it, but I was like, what, you just throw balls in a straight line and the people around you make noise and that’s it? Regardless, I told Kirk I’d give it another chance sometime.

Kitchen Witchery

It’s cold, it’s the holiday season, and my evenings are free from roller derby so I have been on a baking rampage, in addition to my regularly scheduled cooking at eating. This week I made a bean and bacon soup that was perfect (here’s the recipe). I used to eat the canned version all the time and of course the homemade version is superior. I also made a turkey noodle soup to use up some leftover turkey and the turkey stock I made after Thanksgiving. Of course since I made soup I had to make bread and I tried a sweet potato loaf from The Bread Bible. It’s a totally soft, delicious loaf that I will make again.

On to the cookie rampage: I made ginger snaps, except I make them soft so I guess they are just ginger cookies, using the recipe in How to Cook Everything. I tried out this recipe for double chocolate coconut cookies, which was a success. They’re a little bit like little brownies. But the best thing I made this week was millionaire’s shortbread. I had an excess of dulce de leche (which I made for our derby awards party but most of it did not get eaten) so I tweaked the recipe to make what I am calling Million Peso Shortbread: cinnamon shortbread, dulce de leche caramel, and a bit of chili mixed into the chocolate. Catch me on the Great British Bake-Off next year.

Languages

I think I mentioned last week that I was getting back into my Icelandic groove and it is paying off. In my lesson this week, Svava told me that whatever I’m doing is working because I sound much smoother putting words together than even last week. I told her that the secret is flashcards. I have talked a lot this year about flashcards and should I do other things and am I bored/burned out with that, but at this stage of Icelandic, I just need that repetition. Flashcards are making a comeback for 2020.

Derby Life

derby awards: two trophies and a certificate
an honor just to be nominated

Even though it is the off-season, there were roller derby happenings last weekend. Our junior team had a big game against Santa Cruz to test its ranking. As our head announcer, I decided it would be a good training opportunity and was very pleased to get Shanita Crutch on the mic for the first time. It’s very satisfying to make opportunities for people to try new things and develop skills. That’s the true spirit of roller derby.

On Sunday we had our end-season awards party. The league honored me with the Announcer of the Year award for the second consecutive year. My initial reaction was that I didn’t do a lot of announcing this year so is this just a popularity vote or what? But, I have been working some tournaments away from home and do behind-the-scenes stuff to train people up and keep us organized, so perhaps that is indeed award worthy. I was also very happy to receive the Dynamic Duo award with my partner in crime Jacked RipHer. It’s very cool to be recognized as a derby power pairing. Our C-team coaches also gave every skater an individual award. Mine is the “Stone Mountain” award for being an immovable object on the track. Pretty sweet.

Finally, here are some cat pictures for your nerves.

A Week in the Life: December 6, 2019

Nothing makes me feel old quite like when December rolls around and I exclaim, “Wow, December already! The year has really flown by.” Every year flies by when you’re old. Anyway, here I am it’s-already-Decembering. That’s okay though, December is an enjoyable month.

This morning I was reflecting on the fact that I’ve made it through a whole week without any wild drama manifesting and I thought, maybe things are settling down.

That’s when I found the ants.

Viola had been prancing around and making noise in an usual spot, which I initially dismissed as regularly scheduled cat hysterics, so I started brushing her to calm her the heck down. Once I was on the floor I noticed an ant, then another and, and a third ant. Three ants is more than coincidence. I set about murdering them then tracked down the source. The ants are creeping in between the baseboard and the wall in my living room. I stuck duct tape around that stretch of floor-meets-wall and then the murders began. We’re not at full-blown ant epidemic, but I have killed a lot of them today. Now that I’ve contained the problem, I’m mostly catching them when they’re confused and trying to leave. I haven’t seen any come in. On the upside, this has motivated to me to go on a cleaning rampage today. Yay?

Consuming

Here are some things I read, watched, or bought this week.

Reading

book cover of "Inconspicuous Consumption" by Tatiana Schlossberg
Inconspicuous Consumption, and good cover design

Last weekend I read Inconspicuous Consumption: the Environmental Impact You Don’t Know You Have by Tatiana Schlossberg. This book was a total pleasure to read, both in content and style. Schlossberg takes the reader through several big-picture issues like food and transportation and gets into the details of several examples in each category. She asks questions like is it better to eat local food or food flown in from Argentina? The answer to almost every question is: it’s complicated. The main argument of the book is that we live in a complex, connected society. A lot of the issues we deal with stem from our attitudes and expectations as a culture (like wanting our packages to be delivered two hours after ordering or insisting on being able to eat strawberries year round) rather than food or transportation itself. One thing that was interesting for me is how much the content linked with other things I have read this year like Ninety Percent of Everything, which is all about the shipping industry.

Another tidbit that stayed with me from a discussion of using the internet and how much electricity that requires. We (non-experts in technology, I suppose) tend to think of just the devices we use to access the internet when we tally up the power required to use the internet, but that’s not the full story. The internet lives in servers, which are on all the time and have to be kept cold, which adds another layer of complexity to the issue. Even though I know that servers have to be on and cool, it had never occurred to me to link that to the environmental impact of using the internet. The whole book is full of ideas like this that Schlossberg connects together.

Inconspicuous Consumption could easily be a dry read, but Schlossberg’s self-deprecating humor is enjoyable and lets the reader in on how ridiculous modern life is. I highly recommend this book for anyone who has been feeling climate anxiety or who is trying to better understand how our choices impact the environment.

Watching

I finally watched Book Smart, which is a comedy about two friends trying to have new social experiences on the eve of their high school graduation. I related to this movie a lot. The protagonists are high-achieving girls who have done everything “right” and never partied or broken the rules. One of the main characters realizes that some of her fellow students she deemed less worthy were accepted to the same top tier college that she was and she is forced to reevaluate her sense of self. I also loved the portrayal of female friendship—it’s something we should all aspire to.

Rampant Consumerism

In the quest to use less plastic, I ordered some Stasher bags over the weekend. They are not here yet but I am looking forward to trying them out. I saw them in a list of ways to cut down on plastic use in the kitchen and I’m hoping to use them in place of plastic bags when buying bulk items from the grocery store. I hope they work. It’s tempting to get caught up in the rampant consumerism of being eco-friendly, but at a certain point, we’re not helping anyone by buying a bunch of new crap. It’s an ongoing struggle to find the right balance.

Making Things and Doing Stuff

This has been a low-key week and I’m happy about that. I’ve been relaxing and knitting (not pictured because it’s a secret gift), reading, and enjoying the great indoors this week while it’s been rainy. I usually go through my phone photos when writing to blog to figure out what I did this week, but all I have are cat and book pictures, and a picture of the cookies I baked today.

Kitchen Witchery

a sheet pan with 12 chocolate chip cookies
You can never go wrong with chocolate chip

After all the Thanksgiving mania I did not cook much this week. I did remix my leftovers into some turkey shepherd’s pie and today I made a turkey pot pie. I tossed most of my turkey in the freezer right after Thanksgiving, so today’s pie was not from turkey that’s been sitting in the fridge for a week, don’t fret.

Just looking at this photo has motivated me to eat another cookie, by the way.

Language Learning

Now that things have mostly settled down again (ants notwithstanding), I’ve been trying to get back into my Icelandic groove, in particular. I’ve been working through my flashcard backlog on Memrise (I started the month at 2,500 -_-) and I had class on Thursday, which went well. I’m trying to remind myself of all the stuff I already know so I can move forward. I keep feeling like I’m on the cusp of getting a little better and then something interrupts me. Hopefully I can carry some Icelandic momentum into 2020.

Finally, here’s a cat photo for your nerves.

Viola peeking out from a cave made from a blanket
cozy cat life

A Week in the Life: November 29, 2019

a picture of Ina Garten that says "Holiday Hosting Tip: For a personal touch, I like to go around the table and ask each guest how they've challenged the patriarchythis year. If they can't answer, I take away their plate and tell them to eat from the trash because they are garbage."

Yesterday was Thanksgiving! I love Thanksgiving because I enjoy cooking and eating and the holiday is a great venue for doing so. However, I don’t love the history of colonial violence, so it’s a fraught thing. Today’s blog is mostly dedicated to Thanksgiving: food, reading, and the rest.

Consuming

Here are some things I read, watched, or bought this week.

Reading

These are some of the things I read online this week:

Watching

I’ve been watching His Dark Materials on HBO and it’s really good. It’s pretty and well done. I loved the book when I was growing up. Fun anecdote: I got the book as a gift on my 14th birthday from the one friend who showed up to my birthday party that year. Adolescence is hard.

Rampant Consumerism

I suppose this isn’t strictly a consumer act, but I am continuing the tradition I started last year of making a donation to an indigenous group. Last year I donated to the Native American Food Sovereignty Alliance, but it seems like it’s since been rolled into a government program. So, this year I donated NATIFS: North American Traditional Indigenous Food Systems, which is “dedicated to addressing the economic and health crises affecting Native communities by re-establishing Native foodways.” I have determined that if I’m going to “celebrate” a holiday that essentially commemorates wiping out indigenous cultures, the least I can do is give something back to support the regrowth of those cultures. I encourage everyone who can to use Thanksgiving as a time to support Native causes.

wrapped packets in a box
my yarn-based advent calendar

In actual consumerism, my advent calendar was delivered this week! I ordered this advent calendar way back in May or June and then sort of forgot about it so it was exciting to get it this week—a gift from my past self. It’s a special yarn-filled calendar from Earl Grey Fiber Company that has tiny bunches of yarn each day. It also came with knitting patterns and other secret stuff. I love surprises so I am looking forward to this gift from myself. Plus, it’s Great British Bake-Off themed, what more could I want?

Making Things and Doing Stuff

Most of the things I did this week were food related and I feel good about that.

Kitchen Witchery

I get the impression that a lot of you read my blog for food talk/photos, so let’s get to it! I was highly organized this year and planned everything out so I would do very little cooking on Thanksgiving itself. I dry brined my turkey on Monday, spent Tuesday and Wednesday prepping dishes like the stuffing and a potato and spaghetti squash gratin so I could just toss them into the oven on Thursday. I also made butternut squash soup in advance then put it in the crock pot on the “warm” setting all afternoon on Thursday, which worked perfectly. Overall, I was really pleased with how everything turned out. I make food for myself first and if everyone else happens to like it, all the better. Here’s everything we made:

  • Appetizers: cheese board (honey gouda, port salut, sharp cheddar, and goat cheese with herbs) with crackers and homemade bread, plus olives, almonds, dried pineapple, and a chocolate spread we bought in Peru. Kirk also made deviled eggs but I hate them so I didn’t think to take a photo.
  • Starter: Butternut squash soup and sweet potato biscuits
  • Main course: turkey (obviously), mashed potatoes, stuffing, potato and spaghetti squash gratin, crescent rolls, cauliflower with pumpkin seeds, brown butter and lime, roasted brussels sprouts with pomegranate glaze, and honey-glazed spiced carrots
  • Accoutrements: honey butter, herb butter, gravy, and cranberry sauce
  • Desserts: homemade vanilla ice cream, pumpkin pie, pumpkin cheesecake (which my dad brought), and lemon meringue pie (from my mother in law)

In the spirit of full disclosure, here’s a picture of the kitchen at the end of the night.

kitchen sink piled high with dishes
the aftermath

Last weekend we had my in-laws over to celebrate my mother in law’s birthday so obviously I made a chocolate cake. This is a chocolate cake with a layer of chocolate mousse in the middle and ganache on top (recipe from The Baking Bible). I also made ice cream, which left me with a surplus of egg whites, so I made two meringue cookie recipes from The Baking Bible: pecan praline meringues and a meringue with dates and almonds.

Knitting and Crafts

I finally learned how to sew buttons onto my knits thanks to this helpful youtube video (side note: you can be certified as a master knitter?) and set about affixing buttons on all three hooded caplets: the original one I knitted for me, the one for my mom, and the newly finished caplet for Mandy.

I had good intentions of sewing a table runner and cloth napkins in a fall-themed fabric for Thanksgiving, but I procrastinated. On Thursday morning, I made the table runner but lacked the will to make napkins too. Next year.

Finally, here’s a Huey cat for your nerves.

Huey the cat when her front paws on the lip of the shower, staring at the shower floor
Huey, contemplating the shower

A Week in the Life: November 22, 2019

This week we settled back into our non-vacation, oxygen-rich lives, but our return was not unmarked by drama. Just a few hours after coming home from Peru, my mail carrier handed me a certified letter from the neighbors we share a backyard border with. They told us they have tried “many times” (read: twice) to get us to trim the pine trees in our backyard and that it’s causing them damage and they are prepared to take “LEGAL ACTION” (yes, all caps). A threatening letter from a neighbor is not what I want to receive after vacation and, after laughing at how stupid it was, I was admittedly stressed. We decided to ask around to see if other neighbors have had issues with these ridiculous people and it turns out, yes. In a moment of pure unscripted awkwardness, Kirk visited some neighbors only to arrive while they were freshly mourning for the lady of the house. It’s uncomfortable to go talk about neighbor drama when someone has just died. So, we did the only decent thing and went back a couple days later with a card (“we know we just met, but …”) and some brownies. They found this very considerate so I guess the one good outcome of this ongoing house drama is we made friends with someone.

We did also go speak to the belligerent neighbors to ask “what is your damage?” and “why did you send a fucking letter?” There is, in fact, no damage, but it riles them up when large branches fall in their pool. They also think our trees—again, pine trees—look very suspicious and they told us that “those trees don’t live very long.” Okay.

In better news, our shower remodel is truly almost done. The contractor finally came out to replace the window they installed. They originally installed one without tempered glass, so when the permit inspector arrived, he said he couldn’t approve the work. Now all that’s left is one more inspection and hopefully I can finally stop letting strange men into my house.

Consuming

Here are some things I read, watched, or bought this week.

Reading

I read quite a lot in the last couple weeks. There’s not much else to do in airports.

  • Interference by Sue Burke is the sequel to Semiosis and deals with colonists on another planet where plant life is sentient. It’s a really interesting concept and a well-written story. Highly recommended for fans of speculative fiction.
  • In the Dream House is a memoir from Carmen Maria Machado. When I pre-ordered it, I did not realize it was a memoir; I thought it was another set of short stories. In fact, it deals with Machado’s experience of being abused in a lesbian relationship. She says she wrote the book specifically to put abuse in same-sex relationships into our literary canon. A fascinating, emotional read.
  • A Jewel Bright Sea by Claire O’Dell has a little bit of magic, a little bit of pirates, a little bit of romance—a perfect vacation read.
  • Magic for Liars by Sarah Gailey (not pictured) is a book I actually started before vacation then hurriedly finished after to get it back to the library on time. It’s basically a detective novel set at a magic high school. I liked it but there’s a lot of people pretending to be something they’re not and that kind of storyline always gives me second-hand embarrassment. Read at your own risk.

In non-book reading, I really resonated with this piece on paying for civilization. The author talks about being thankful to pay taxes because it funds a lot of good stuff. It’s great to pay into civilization. This, of course, is in contrast to our typical American narrative about how taxes are horrible and we should all be out on the frontier stealing land for ourselves and pulling ourselves up by our bootstraps. It’s refreshing to see a different perspective on something that’s so essential to making our society function.

Watching

I watched season five of Schitt’s Creek and I just have to say that I love that show so much. It’s the perfect show: hilarious, sweet, fashionable. If you haven’t watched it, what are you even doing with your life.

Rampant Consumerism

After a bit of a shopping bonanza in Peru (largely for gift-giving purposes; Christmas is nearly upon us), I didn’t spent a lot of money this week. However, I did go grocery shopping today to stock my pantry for Thanksgiving, which is its own kind of consumer frenzy. I love Thanksgiving and it’s fun for me to plan out a big meal. I know some people hate grocery shopping but I enjoy it, as long as the store isn’t packed. Fortunately, working from home gives me some leeway and I can shop at calmer times of day.

Making Things and Doing Stuff

I spent half of this week being pretty listless after our trip and, surprisingly, I did a lot of work this week too. We’re setting up a new system for managing our content at work that is going to be really efficient. It’s much easier to invest in working when I know people aren’t going to come fuck it up after me.

Knitting and Crafts

It turns out that I completely messed up my knitting pattern while I was on vacation. I got about one-third through a shawl only to get home and realize my increases were not working as intended. Something about “purl front and back” was not working out for me. I unwound the whole thing, including the stitches I did at Machu Picchu but I assume the yarn is still blessed from the traveling.

Kitchen Witchery

Would I even be back home if I weren’t baking something? After a couple of days I started to feel normal again and of course got back to making foods. It was a great relief to eat homemade food again. It’s getting chilly so our diet has been heavy on soups and stews. I made beef stew (not pictured because it’s impossible to take an attractive photo of stew. recipe from How to Cook Everything) and bean and butternut squash soup. I also made the aforementioned grief brownies (also from How to Cook Everything) and delicious loaves of white bread (The Bread Bible) that made for perfect grilled cheese sandwiches. For snacking purposes, I tried out this recipe for almond butter date balls, except I used peanut butter because I’m unpretentious like that. They’re pretty good and may help me stop buying granola bars, which are stupidly expensive.

Languages

I had Icelandic class this week after a bit of a break during which my teacher had a baby. It was very difficult to try to switch back to my not-that-great Icelandic after a week of Spanish immersion, but better to rip that bandaid off. I also got back to Spanish lessons this week, though I found myself questioning why I scheduled anything when I felt, at the time, ready to do nothing at all. That said, I am thinking again about signing up to take the C1 spanish exam, so maybe it’s a time for seriousness in studying.

Finally, here are some cat photos for your nerves.

A Week in the Life: Peru Trip Edition

me seated in front of two llamas

I’ve been writing this post off and on for the last couple days as I recover and try to organize my thoughts. This trip was good but it was deeply exhausting. The tomfoolery began before we even left Sacramento: when we arrived at the airport we were informed that American Airlines had changed their flight schedule and our flight would not arrive in LAX early enough to make our plane to Lima. The airline had not bothered to inform anyone of this change and we retreated to start again the next day.

However, the good stuff of the trip was really good. It was wonderful to visit our friend Anne in Cuzco and I loved seeing Machu Picchu and trying new things. I think one of the nice things about travel is it can remind you of what you like about being at home, too. I thrive on routine but too much routine can make you restless. After this trip, I’m glad to be home and back to doing things like planning out what to cook this week and when to go to the gym.

Lima

We had planned for about two days of sightseeing in Lima, but thanks to the airline fuckery we were only really had one. We did get to see some cool things like John F. Kennedy park, which is full of cats. Kirk said he knew that’s what I wanted to do most so we made that our first stop. See the world, pet the cats there.

After stopping at the cat park, we mostly walked around the Miraflores neighborhood, which is the main touristy area where we stayed. We spent a while walking up the Malecón, which is a big pedestrian walkway that overlooks the ocean. Just for kicks, we walked up to a fancy mall called Larcomar, which was pretty much like every other fancy mall that you would find anywhere. It’s so weird, yet boring, how capitalism replicates itself all over the place.

Cuzco

After Lima, we spent five days in Cuzco. Cuzco is a really cool city. It’s situated in a steep valley and the neighborhoods seem arranged vertically. What we liked the most is that there is a mix of old and new throughout the city, which is what makes it unique. You can see the colonialism overlaid on the old Incan architecture, but a lot of that has been reclaimed again—lots of buildings are converted monasteries, like the hotel we stayed in and some of the museums we visited. Things come back around. We had a few good vantage points for city photos, including Anne’s apartment in the San Blas neighborhood and the view from Christo Blanco, which is a giant statue of Jesus up on a hill.

me holding a baby goat and standing with three indigenous women
tourist hustle

I decided to embrace being a tourist. I know a lot of people like to blend in or otherwise act cool when traveling, but, especially somewhere like Cuzco, there is no blending in for a large white person like me. Plus, I am a tourist. I am there being confused and impressed by things the locals see every day. I did my best not to get hustled but did fail a few times. On a walk to the Plaza de Armas, some women leapt into my path and shoved a baby goat in my arms, which is something I’m really not going to turn down. I got Kirk to take a photo and then started talking to the women because I knew they would want a tip for this experience. They tried to charge me 10 soles per person in the photo and I had to laugh. I gave them 10 soles total and walked on. And now I have this ridiculous photo of me holding a goat. Not pictured: the first goat they handed me would not stop kicking me until they took him back. Docile goat photos only.

Chocolate Workshop

One of our first tourist activities was to take a chocolate-making workshop at Choco Museo. This was a lot of fun and I actually learned a lot about how chocolate gets made. We roasted and ground up cocoa beans, tempered and molded chocolate, plus did silly activities like compete for who can make the best llama out of a pile of cocoa beans …. we did not win. When we started the class, I assumed I’d be shepherding my beans from pod to bar (to be fair, it is advertised as a “bean to bar” workshop), but cocoa beans take weeks to dry and process into chocolately goodness. I didn’t realize just how long it takes to turn cocoa into chocolate. Still, we got to mold our own chocolate and mix in flavors and ingredients like Peru’s ubiquitous ají chili, coconut, or M&Ms. The results were delicious.

Culture

a scene from a folk dance with men and women in indigenous outfits
whirling and twirling

We took in a little cultural enrichment too, starting with a folk dance performance at the Centro Qosqo de Arte Nativo. I mostly enjoy folk dance for the whirling and twirling of costumes. Folk dances seem to always have these strong codifications of gender roles, which is kind of weird to watch. But I guess that’s culture for you?

We visited a few museums too. My favorite was the Textile Museum because, particularly since I learned to knit, I’ve developed a major appreciation for the effort and artistry that goes into making things. This museum also sells the yarn that women there make, and I bought several balls of alpaca yarn that I’m looking forward to knitting into a sweater.

indigenous women weaving at the textile museum
weaving away

La Mal de Altura

Altitude sickness, or “soroche” as its colloquially known in Peru, is pretty serious shit when you’re at 3,400 meters (11,155 feet). I knew it would be hard to breathe in Cuzco but I completely underestimated how bad that would feel. I got a prescription for altitude medication from my doctor before the trip and decided I would wait to take it and see how things felt when we arrived. I got a headache more or less immediately when we arrived on Sunday afternoon, so I took the altitude medication before bed after concluding that there was no prize for toughing things out.

I kept taking the medication on Monday, but by Tuesday, I was not feeling very good. We had planned to hike up a few miles to Christo Blanco, but Anne suggested we take a taxi up and walk back down, which seemed like a great alternative. As we were walking around that morning, I was feeling pretty shitty, physically and mentally. It was hard to feel like I could barely do anything when I know I have made a lot of progress athletically and I am strong and capable. We tried doing a low-key hike to a small archaeological site called the Templo de la Luna. I had to stop every 15 to 20 feet to spend five minutes catching my breath. Afterwards, we took an afternoon rest at the hotel and I took a nap but was still faring just as badly as before, so Kirk started researching the medication I was taking and what I should do. I emailed my doctor who said I probably had altitude sickness and that I needed to go to a doctor in Peru immediately so things wouldn’t get worse.

I asked the front desk at our hotel if they had a recommendation for a clinic we could visit. Altitude sickness is pretty common among tourists and they were prepared. They called the local clinic and a doctor actually came to the hotel to assess me. My resting heart rate was 111 and my blood oxygen saturation was at 86 percent (I have since learned that a normal range is around 92 to 96 percent). The doctor said we’d need to go to the hospital for me to get some oxygen. What this meant in practice was taking an ambulance to a hospital that seemed specifically designed for de-oxygenated tourists and spending the whole afternoon and evening there trying to get my oxygen levels back up.

As an American, my first question was: what does this cost? It turns out that an ambulance trip, a six-hour hospital stay, a lung x-ray, hours of oxygen, and a handful of prescriptions will only run you about 850 soles, or 275 dollars, which I found shockingly inexpensive. There’s room here for some political commentary, but I suppose I’ll leave all that for another post.

I spent the last few days in Cuzco moving slowly and trying to avoid any extra exertion like walking uphill. Luckily, I’m a rich white woman and can afford to take taxis everywhere if that’s what I want. Plus, the day after the hospital trip, we had plans for Machu Picchu, which is at a lower elevation (around 8,500 feet) than the city so that made life mildly easier.

Dogs of Cuzco

On a lighter note, the city of Cuzco is absolutely teeming with dogs. I took pictures of a lot of dogs because I like cute animals. One dog, which Anne has been calling Lady, even hiked with us, despite my excruciatingly slow pace. She would run up the hill then come back down to be pet whenever we took a rest. It was adorable.

Machu Picchu

Machu Picchu was of course on our itinerary. We took a train on PeruRail called the VistaDome, which has big windows on the sides and roof of the train so you can watch the landscape go by. It takes about three hours to reach Machu Picchu even though it’s only about a 60-mile trip. The train winds through the Andean countryside, which I found peaceful. Plus it was a nice break after having just recovered from altitude sickness.

When you arrive in the town of Machu Picchu, you still have to travel to the site itself. We were informed that you can take a bus (about a 30 minute wind up the mountainside) or walk. We chose the bus.

Machu Picchu is as impressive in person as you would expect it to be. My only complaint is there is not a lot of information there about the site. I expected more plaques or perhaps a map on entry so I would know what I was looking at. For example, one large rock was labelled simply “sacred rock,” which I do not find especially informative. There were tour guides for hire, but I don’t really like to be hampered by a guide; I want to move at my own pace (that day’s pace: slow). Even without knowing all the details, Machu Picchu is amazing. Plus, I was able to pet no fewer than four llamas, so I had a good day.

me knitting in front of Machu Picchu

I was excited to spend a few minutes at Machu Picchu knitting. I know that might seem a little weird, but it’s my own quasi-spiritual experience. Women through the ages have knitted and prepared textiles in places like these and I wanted to commune with the matriarchy in some kind of way. Most of history is about men, but given the heritage of textile art we see in the Andes, we know women were there making amazing stuff. So, this is my small tribute to their efforts.

Food

Peru is known for having amazing food and I can confirm that this is true. I can be a bit of a finicky eater (a lot of things disagree with me), but I was able to eat a lot of tasty food in Peru, even though I can’t eat quinoa or fish without getting sick. We tried a lot of regional dishes like ají gallina (chicken in a yellow chili sauce), adobo (a pork chop soup said to cure hangovers), lomo saltado (a meat and vegetable dish), pollo a la brasa (roasted chicken), plus desserts and many other tasty foods. Even the food I had at the hospital was pretty decent. It’s possible that we got a better-than-average sample of good food in Cuzco since we had Anne guiding us to all her favorite spots. Still, I’m sold on Peruvian food overall.

I noticed a couple of food trends. One was that you can get pollo a la brasa everywhere. There are chicken restaurants all over the place where you order chicken by the quarter, half, or whole and it comes with a pile of french fries. We even tried a grocery store version of this in a moment of fatigue and desperation when I was hungry and too tired too walk anywhere (this being hours before the hospital trip). The other trend is a drink called chicha, which is fermented purple corn. Peruvians use it in a spiced drink called chicha morada (purple chicha), and it’s actually pretty good. We also had a pudding-like dessert made of chicha (pictured below). It’s nice to encounter uses of corn that aren’t the high fructose kind.

The main spice that runs through a lot of Peruvian cuisine is the ají chili. It’s not something I’ve noticed here at home, and being the sort of person I am, I spent our trip keeping an eye out for ají to buy and bring home. I found some ají sauce at the grocery store and then, luckily, on our last day as we were browsing the San Pedro market, I found people selling packets of dried ají. I also bought a cookbook of Peruvian recipes so I am looking forward to having a go at some Peruvian dishes once I’m settled in again.

It was a good trip but I am glad to be home and breathing air with more oxygen in it. Plus, home is where my cats are.

A Week in the Life: November 1, 2019

a round loaf of rye bread scored with a jack-o-lantern style face

Happy Halloween! I acknowledge Halloween is technically over, but it’s still close enough. It has been extra spooky here and for all the wrong reasons. A cold hit me last Friday and I was sick all weekend, which was not great, but I’d rather be sick before vacation than during, so I accept it. The noise our fridge was making escalated, so we declared food bankruptcy, cleaned it out, and turned it off for two days. We had thought something needed to defrost, but it seems the culprit was the water pipe vibrating noisily against the back of the fridge. I’m glad it’s fine and not expensive to fix, but damn if that isn’t annoying. Finally, the big news: our shower is done! The contractors finished on Tuesday. When I took a shower on Tuesday night, the water couldn’t drain fast enough to keep up with the flow. When we turned the shower off, water kept trickling out. We stopped it (and by “stopped” I mean, brought it down to a slow drip) by turning off water to the whole house. Fortunately, we got them to come fix it the next day. It wasn’t draining because the amateur who laid the floor neglected to cut a hole for the drain in a sheet of paper. The faucet wouldn’t stop because of some tiny wire. To which I say: what the hell. Everything is fine now and I hope our house drama is ended because my blood pressure can’t take much more.

shower with glass door, large grey tiles, and black "pebble" floor
the new shower. finally

We are getting ready for our Peru trip! We leave next Thursday so I may not write next week unless I’m feeling extra motivated and blog a day early. When we return, I’ll write a special Peru Trip Edition of the weekly update, hopefully with lots of great photos!

This week was stressful and most of my time was spent being fucking stressed. So the blog this week doesn’t exactly follow my normal sections.

Reading

book cover of "Archaeology from Space" by Sarah Parcak
Archaeology from Space

I finished reading Archaeology from Space: How the Future Shapes Our Past by Sarah Parcak. This book talks about the field of space archeology, which is not doing archaeology in space but using satellite imaging to identify sites and looting in remote areas. Parcak is an Egyptologist, which of course got my attention because that was one of my early career objectives (no, really. I took a year’s worth of hieroglyphics courses as a college freshman), but also because her style is highly accessible for a subject that is unfamiliar for most. What was really cool about this to me is Parcak’s description of her archaeology crowdsourcing project, GlobalXplorer. Anyone can join GlobalXplorer and help identify sites that have potentially been looted. The site gives you a short training on what looting normally looks like, and the user looks at images and says, yes this looks like looting or no looting here. If an image receives a certain number of positive responses, an expert reviews it. GlobalXplorer is now only working to identify sites in Peru and they have found a number of looted areas plus some new archaeological sites because regular, non-experts were able to help. So cool!

Food

I basically only made bread this week because it doesn’t require much in the way of refrigeration. For Halloween I made a “bread-o-lantern,” a round loaf scored with a jack-o-lantern face because that’s how I …. roll (lol bread jokes). I tried a rye loaf for the first time over the weekend. I told Kirk I would make a bread for his dad’s birthday and started out by trying the golden semolina “torpedo” from The Bread Bible. About halfway through I realized I may have used true semolina flour instead of the durum wheat (also called semolina) the recipe called for. Kirk told me his dad would really love a rye bread anyway so I decided to try it. The results were very tasty and I’m probably going it add it to my regular repertoire. Maybe I’ll even improve my bread scoring art (thanks for the inspiration, Great British Baking Show).

Aside from bread, I had a bizarre hankering for wedge salad so we made some of that too. Although I have eaten wedge salad, I had never before made it—not that much skill is required. I think I was craving low-effort vegetables after the fridge clean-out efforts.

Knitting and Crafts

me wearing a knitted hood that is covering half my face
hooded caplet three: progress

I am making progress on the third (and final?) hooded caplet. I’m hoping to finish it before we leave on our trip, mostly because I want something a little smaller for plane knitting. I like how the yarn is coming together. I couldn’t picture it when I bought the yarn, but now that I’ve got it going, it looks really cool.

Finally, here are some cats for your nerves. I let the cats back into the master bathroom for the first time in weeks after thoroughly cleaning it and Huey seemed very happy to be reunited.

A Week in the Life: October 25, 2019

a round loaf of bread with an x scored on top
my newly remodeled shower. grey tiles with black "pebble" floor
shower: so close

I was really hoping that today my shower would be finished today and I could clean my house and get back to using my master bathroom. Yet, here we are. I am happy to report that it’s almost finished. That’s great but the tantalizing nearness of it all is almost more annoying. My shower actually looks amazing but the organization and lack of communication from this contractor has been maddening. All that’s left is to install the door and the fixtures. They started the tiling on Monday, finished on Tuesday, and applied the grout on Wednesday. I haven’t gotten any updates from them since, which is annoying the heck out of me.

Other than the ongoing shower drama, I’ve had a full week (as ever).

Consuming

Here are some things I read and bought this week.

Reading

It seems I bookmarked quite a few articles to share this week, but before that I will also share that I finished reading New Suns: Original Speculative Fiction by People of Color. It’s a great anthology of short fiction written by, obviously, people of color. There’s no uniting theme, just a bunch of fine stories. Recommended reading if you like short fiction.

Rampant Consumerism

2020 is yet two months away but I already have dates set that need to be accounted for, so I bought my 2020 day planner. I couldn’t find any planners I liked with cool designs so I compromised and bought a planner and some stickers from Hand Over Your Fairy Cakes. My October chocolate subscription arrived from Raaka chocolate and, of course, it has been tasty. I was a little wary of the smudged sage and palo santo flavors, but the chocolate doesn’t really taste like sage or sticks (holy or otherwise). It was an interesting flavor, although nothing is going to top how good that tahini swirl chocolate bar was.

On Saturday I hit up my local yarn store, Knitique, in search of both yarn and needles. I got some cool, colorful yarn for my next knit and I also bought a neat little set of needles for knitting socks. I was looking for an odd size (1.5 for those in the know) and was directed to a set of mini needles (video review here). I haven’t tried them yet but they seem really handy because you can knit a sock in the round. I also love sets of things, so you can’t go wrong.

Making Things and Doing Stuff

Here are some things I did or made this week.

Derby Life

me with my back facing the mirror. photo shows top of my head and behind to get the view of the braids
braiding success

I played my penultimate game of the season on Sunday with Kodiak Attack, our C team. We played in Roseville against the Outlaws and, against all odds, won with a roster of just 10 skaters (normally you can have up to 15 skaters play for a team during a game). It was a lot of fun and I got to hear my derby wife Boss Taco and friend Bob Uckerlele announce the game. It was also a feat of endurance because we had few dedicated blockers on our roster, so I was on the track for almost 70 percent of the game. I didn’t get an MVP award this time, but a lot of people gave me very positive feedback, and I know I did a good job, so I can’t really be disappointed about it. I’m looking forward to the photos!

My hair is getting a little longer and I have been looking for ways to keep it out of the way and not have a goofy tuft of it sticking out under my helmet so I tried french braiding for the first time. It worked pretty well but I did lose a hair tie, somehow, mid game. I’m hoping once my hair gets longer it will be easier to keep in place, and that I’ll get better at braiding it.

I also got to coach again this week. Our newest skaters tried out for the league and I showed up to help evaluate. We had a lot of coaches turn up so I only had to make notes for two skaters, which was really nice because I had enough time and attention to write considered feedback. One of the skaters told me, after I coached Wednesday practice, that she was glad I had come and that my presence helped her feel calm. I take this as a very high compliment!

Knitting and Crafts

I finished the pumpkin hat for my honorary niece Ronni after a wild Friday night of knitting last week. This was fun because I revisited the pattern we used in the learn-to-knit class I took a couple years ago. I was able to knock this hat out really fast! Amazing what practice will do for you. I’ve since started on the next (perhaps last) of the hooded caplets using yarn I bought last weekend. I’m hoping I can finish that before I head to Peru then pack something reasonably straightforward to knit on the plane.

Kitchen Witchery

We’ve been trying to clean out our freezer the last couple of weeks because the fridge, which, for the record, is barely two years old, has been making a strange vibrating noise. Internet research suggested that it could be a problem of ice on the fan and the solution for that is to unplug the fridge and let it thaw. To that end, we’ve been trying to eat up what’s in the freezer and (more difficult in my view) not add new things in. I usually cook with a mind to freeze a few things for later, but lately I’m trying to cook to eat everything. So this week’s kitchen witchery is a study in using things up. I made some pancakes and used the last bit of heavy cream to make whipped cream (obviously). I bought some pumpkin spice soda from Trader Joe’s and thought I could pair it with the last bit of ice cream for a float, a pairing that I recommend.

In bread news, I made a second attempt on the basic hearth bread recipe from the Bread Bible. It came out much better! I understood the instructions better this time and was able to time the rises more successfully. After struggling to score this one I took to the internet to search for “bread scoring tool” and learned that this tool is called a bread lame (“lame” is French for “blade”). It’s basically a curved razor blade on a handle. After watching the bread scoring challenge on the Great British Baking Show, I have been convinced I need to make a Halloween loaf scored with a spiderweb design. So, I have a bit of practice ahead of me. I’ll report back.

Finally, here’s a cat photo for your nerves.

Huey the cat lying on her back with her front paws touching in front of her chest
Huey: Chonk in Paradise

A Week in the Life: October 18, 2019

Well we have now lived through two weeks of this shower remodeling process and I have to admit I am about ready to do some murders. I’m so stressed and annoyed by it all. On Monday, we were scheduled to get a hot mop (the waterproofing process, which turns out to be coating the floor of the shower area with tar), but the hot mop guy showed up, declared the shower not ready for him and left. Then I had another guy here for half the next day doing I don’t know what. The hot mop guy returned the day after that. He did a fine job, I suppose, but dragging a bunch of hot tar into the house creates quite a stink and the house was super smokey. I was displeased. The tar has been drying since but yesterday we had the building inspector come to sign off on it all. Unfortunately, he concluded he could not approve the job because the contractors had installed the wrong type of window; it was supposed to be made of tempered glass.

Now I have a tar-filled shower stall and an un-tempered window. I haven’t been able to use the master bathroom for two weeks and my whole house is covered in dust. However, what really set me off was, this afternoon, two guys showed up to drop of materials. They left the front door open when they entered and I told them we have to close the doors because I have cats. I directed them to the bathroom and suggested it might be easier for them to haul everything in through the backdoor. These fools propped the screen open and left the door wide open. I went back to check on the progress only to find a clear path of escape. Luckily, my cats hate people and were hiding, but they could have gotten out! I am furious. To top this off, they set one of their bits of equipment in the still-sticky tar. I went to move it and it pulled off a bit of tar in the process. How fucking deficient do you have to be to set something in WET TAR. Reader, I’ve had it. I can’t wait for this shit to end. My shower better look flawless and be leak-free by the end of next week.

Consuming

Here are some things I read, watched, or bought this week.

Reading

highlighted quote "It is difficult for me not to hate men"
true sentiments

I finished reading The Seven Necessary Sins for Women and Girls and I am still recommending it to everyone. I highlighted this line “It is difficult for me not to hate men” because it’s like, yeah, it really is difficult. So many of them are acting like fucking jackals every day and then we’re just supposed to pretend nothing is wrong? Even when they’re leaving our doors open and tempting our cats to escape? It is difficult.

Man-hating aside, I read a lot of good stuff on the internet this week.

Watching

I may have mentioned this channel in a previous post, but I can’t stop watching these low-key insane videos on the MepearlA youtube channel. For those who don’t know, it’s the opossum lady. The subtle, weird humor of it is just amazing. She’s an inspiration.

I’m also still watching Buffy the Vampire Slayer because that’s how I roll. I will say that Giles wielding a chainsaw is also an inspiration. I take inspiration from many places.

Rampant Consumerism

an olympus camera
the new camera

In anticipation of our Peru trip, I bought a new camera. I mostly rely on my phone for pictures these days, although I do have a DSLR and a 10-something-year-old point-and-shoot camera. I hate hauling a big camera on trips though because I just don’t feel that strongly about photography. I use it when I want a really nice picture but otherwise leave it at home.

I picked this Olympus camera because it is supposed to produce pretty high-quality images, it’s water proof, and can be dropped from about six feet without shattering. Seems ideal for adventuring and for my clumsy self.

Making Things and Doing Stuff

Something fun about doing things and sharing them on instagram is that you make instagram friends who just like what you do. This week’s things got a few new people talking to me. It turns out that one of my followers is actually a former student from my painful years of teaching middle school. She messaged me this week to talk about my bread (see below) and then asked if I used to be a teacher and, when I said yes, she said she thought I was her English teacher. It turns out she was right! I hadn’t been able to recognize her although she looked familiar. I had just assumed it was the account of some derby person I’d encountered. I joked that I hope I hadn’t traumatized her and she replied that, on the contrary, she still talks to one of my other former students about how much they liked my class. So that was really nice to hear because my own memory of teaching middle school was that it was stressful and I hope I encouraged some of them but really the most I can hope for is that I was neutral and didn’t harm anyone. But eight years on, at least two of my former students are okay.

Derby Life

I had fun announcing our home team game on Saturday with one of my favorite announcers, Sexy Beast. He told me after we were underway that it would be his last game and he is retiring! I am upset because he’s just so much fun to work with, but I get it. I’m glad I got him to come visit us in Sacramento while I could. We had some technical difficulties with our receiver, which resulted in at least 15 minutes of us being off mic, sitting around and chatting. It was probably more fun for us, if less great from a game production standpoint.

My new glasses finally came in and now I have all the luxury of peripheral vision while playing. It’s a little weird though because it’s almost too much visual information. My brain is still adjusting, but hopefully it will get adjusted quickly. This weekend, our C team, Kodiak Attack has a game in Roseville. It should be a lot of fun. We have a few skaters playing their first inter-league game so they are excited and the enthusiasm is contagious.

Knitting and Crafts

me modeling the freshly knit hooded caplet
unblocked hooded caplet. focus not required

Knitting! It’s chilly so I am mainly interested in nesting on the couch and knitting, so that’s what I did almost all weekend. I finished up the hooded caplet for my mom (Christmas spoiler, lol) and got a request from my friend Mandy to make one for her too. I am getting my money’s worth out of this pattern, that’s for sure. After finishing the caplet, I started on a pumpkin hat for Mandy’s baby, Ronni, who will, in the tradition of babies everywhere, be dressed as a pumpkin for Halloween. Luckily I had some extra orange yarn lying around so I was able to save myself a trip to the yarn store. Well, save myself a trip and the money of buying more yarn I won’t use for another year.

I have also started doing a little research into where to buy the good yarn when I visit Cusco next month. I really want to get a little bit of vicuña yarn, but that is expensive so I want to plan ahead and know where to get the good shit. Suggestions welcome if you happen to have this highly specific information!

Kitchen Witchery

I still have our last cookbook club selection, The Art of Simple Food, on loan from the library so I opted to have my own personal second round of cookbook club. I made Alice Waters’ gingersnap recipe, but cut it out using the ripndip cookie cutter that my mom bought for me. Because who doesn’t need cookies shaped like cats giving the middle finger? We all need this. They are good cookies but not my favorite gingersnap, but that’s okay. Cookie diversity is important. I also tried the recipe for white bean and butternut squash soup, which turned out better than I expected. I thought it would be fine but plain, but it was actually really tasty. I tried a new bread recipe to accompany the soup, although this was from The Bread Bible, so not part of my mini-cookbook club effort. This “hearth bread” came out pretty good, but I know I can do it better. I’m going to try again this weekend and see if I can nail the bake and be patient enough to let it rise more. I have been inspired by the Great British Baking Show and I want to try slashing a spiderweb pattern onto a bread for Halloween, but first I want to get the bread right.

Finally, some cat photos for your nerves. With the colder weather, Viola has enjoyed hanging out and being cozy with me. We sat on the couch watching the Great British Baking Show and knitting (well, Viola didn’t knit anything) almost all day last Saturday.

A Week in the Life: October 11, 2019

When I was 19, I got kicked out of Brigham Young University and had to move back in with my dad. That’s a story for another day, but I will tell you that, at the time, I was profoundly unhappy. I thought I had failed and my life was over because I am the high-achieving type and for a long time, college had been the end-all-be-all. Even though my dad wasn’t excited about the idea, I adopted a cat when I moved back in. I named him Khan, but nobody else called him that. I, of course, moved away again for school and Khan stayed with my dad and my sister Mia. He eventually became Mia’s cat. The cat formerly known as Khan had a rough couple of years despite Mia’s careful ministrations. On Monday, Mia called me to say he had passed. The news hit me much harder than I anticipated. He was there for me during a rough period and he has been there for Mia too. We’re devastated.

When I adopted him, the shelter said that, until recently, he had been housed with the feral cats because they didn’t realize he was used to people. I don’t know what kind of life he lived before we adopted him, but he must not have enjoyed it much. He never wanted to run outside. Even if I carried him out into the yard, he wasn’t interested. He knew how good he had it indoors. He used to sleep against the back of my knee. When I last visited Mia, he slept next to me on the air mattress. He will be remembered as a fine cat and he will be missed. Snuggle your pets while you can.

Consumerism

Here are some things I read or watched this week.

Reading

I didn’t read a lot this week because I had to read a lot for work and then my brain was too pudding-like to read much else. That said, I did start reading Mona Eltahawy‘s book The Seven Necessary Sins for Women and Girls. This is the strongest work of feminism that I’ve read in some time. It’s aggressive and it’s perfect. I’m about halfway through it so far. I keep highlighting lines, which I am not normally much in the habit of doing (even with ebooks). Required reading for all.

As for internet reading:

  • On Nextdoor, the Homeless Are the Enemy via Medium. I like seeing people talk about the shortcomings of things I don’t like because it’s validating. Even though I have a house, I’ve resisted Nextdoor because it sounds like it’s fairly ridiculous. Turns out that defining the residents of a “neighborhood” as “people who own property in an area” is as limiting as you would expect.
  • The knitting community is reckoning with racism, via Vox. This article is not new but it was new to me this week. I follow a Spanish knitter named Sonia Masegosa and, on instagram this week, she mentioned several known racist knitters in the community and that she would no longer follow anyone who followed them. I follow a few knitters but had missed the recent push-back against racism so I, naturally, did a little investigating to find out what happened. This article provided some perspective.
  • 1880s party starters had their own version of Cards Against Humanity via Atlas Obscura. This one is just fun. We citizens of the present tend to think we have the market cornered on humor and irony, but we don’t. I thought this 19th century “Cards Against Humanity,” called “Peter Coddle’s Trip to New York” was pretty interesting and a good reminder that people in the past also liked to enjoy themselves.

Watching

RuPaul’s Drag Race UK is now online so I’ve been watching it. My first impressions are that I love Bagga Chipz and The Vivenne. They’re just so funny and have so much personality. Also, I don’t know who writes the show and designs the challenges, but they are leaning way too hard on the monarchy, but perhaps that will fade as the show settles into itself.

Making Things and Doing Stuff

I spent a lot of this week in a manic state of editing. I got assigned a huge proposal to review and then, less than an hour after finishing, the state that had put the bid out cancelled the proposal. Reader, I was displeased. Still, I did make some time for other things.

a screenshot of one of my tweets that says "Just changed 'manned' to 'staffed' in a work document. #EditingAgainstThePatriarchy"

Derby Life

I realized this week that I’m completely ready to take an off-season from derby. So I decided not to go to practice, with the exception of the practice I coached on Wednesday. Our new skaters are so nervous for their upcoming tryout, so we focused on skills for that. In my opinion, they have nothing to be nervous about, but I’m also not in charge. We concluded that I’m the Waldorf coach of the group because I’m always running drills that involve working out skills on your own and I tend to avoid a lot of high-pressure whistling, plus I’m willing to adjusts practices based on what people want to learn that day.

This Saturday we have a home game double header and I’m excited because I’ll be announcing! I have hardly announced any games because I’ve played so much this season, which is not a bad problem to have, but it’s tricky when you want to do everything. In any case, I’m looking forward to exercising my other favorite derby skill and watching some good games. I hope to see you there!

Kitchen Witchery

the book "The Art of Simple Food" by Alice Waters
Our Cookbook Club Pick

I haven’t done a whole lot of cooking this week in part because Kirk was limited to eating soft foods thanks to last week’s root canal and temporary (now permanent) crown. However, my cookbook club met on Saturday! We organized this month’s get-together on short notice and I wasn’t sure I could get the book in time, but my library hold came in on Friday afternoon and I picked some recipes that didn’t require too much time. I like this cookbook and want to try some more of the recipes, which I’ll probably do this weekend. For cookbook club, I made two new-to-me recipes: a chocolate tart and cheese puffs! The tart used a sweet dough, which was filled with chocolate ganache. The cheese puffs essentially involved making a choux pastry, mixing it with a big pile of cheese, then baking them into bite-size pieces. I also made some whipped cream (not pictured) to accompany the tart and that was a good choice. Both items were highly tasty!

a chocolate tart in a round pie dish and cheese puffs in a glass dish
cookbook club offerings

Knitting and Crafts

I got back to working on my cat quilt this week. I hadn’t done anything since cutting the pieces last month. On Sunday, I laid out my design and sewed it all together. It only came out mildly lumpy. The next step is going to be to sew on the back and decide if I want to fill it with something or leave it as is.

I’ve also been working on knitting another hooded caplet. My mom said she wanted to see it (even though it’s a Christmas gift!) so here it is, about one-third done. In fact since I took that photo, I have since finished the hood, but you’ll have to live with a little mystery.

Finally, here’s one more cat photo for your nerves.

Huey and Viola lying near each other on the floor in a patch of sunshine
just here for the sun

A Week in the Life: October 4, 2019

Huey the cat on the bed, looking at the camera

I can’t say this with total certainty, but this may have been one of the longest weeks of my life. I was looking through my photos the week to jog my memory and prepare to write and realized that last weekend feels like an age ago. This week was long because it was full of work, which, as we know, cuts into my carefully balanced schedule, and because so many things happened. As of today, our shower remodel has started. The contractor came in to rip out the old stuff, which was kind of cool but also quite loud. I played bingo last weekend, saw one of my best friends perform in a stand-up comedy show, and got new glasses, which is all great. On the downside, a tiny rock hit the windshield of my car and now we have to replace it (careful readers may recall that we just bought this car in July) and Kirk had to get an emergency root canal. This has all been quite a lot to take in. If one were to ascribe intent to the universe, we might say that it knows it’s October and is being extra spooky by afflicting us with the terrors of adulthood. Thanks?

Consuming

Here are some things I read, watched, or bought this week.

Reading

I finished reading The Plot to Hack America, which discusses Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. This book was very well researched, which is always nice to read. It was also interesting because it’s something of a time capsule. The book was written in 2016. We already know so much more about Russia’s involvement, although not the whole story. This book helps summarize the issues and captures what we knew at that time (which was PLENTY).

I read a couple of thoughtful articles this week about bodies and exercise:

  • I’m a fat cyclist—and I don’t need to fix my body. You can be fat and athletic and can exercise without the goal of weight loss. The shocking truth! This resonates with me because I do really like to ride my bike and do things, but there is definitely a smug undercurrent from many people out there like, oh, good for you for exercising. Notable quote from the article, “The true problem is with our culture around sport, and our ideas of athleticism. Really, with who gets to move their body because they want to and who has to move their body because they need to fix it.”
  • The quiet harm of #TransformationTuesday. Another piece on body acceptance and how celebrating weight loss and before-and-after photos isn’t really helping us be body positive or move forward as a culture. Reading this reaffirmed to me that, although I am personally working on losing some weight, I don’t want to publicly talk specific numbers or post weight loss photos or dumb pictures where you wear your old pants and hold out the waist as if to say “haha, look how dumb I was for wearing pants that could fit two smaller humans.”

Watching

This week, the Untitled Goose Game caught my attention. The description reads “It’s a lovely day in the village, and you are a horrible goose.” I haven’t played it yet, although I expect I will this weekend because it looks hilarious. I did watch this video by youtuber videogamedunkey and had a good laugh about it. I am ready to be a horrible goose. Untitled Goose Game also caught the Washington Post’s attention this week. They published an article called Playing ‘Untitled Goose Game’ is the new punching a wall. The article’s conclusion? “We’d say it’s improbable that such a simple game would go as viral as it has in recent days, but “Arrest for Treason” trended on Twitter on Monday and it’s not like anyone has any better ideas on how to cope with everything that’s going on.” Same, WaPo, same.

Rampant Consumerism

As previously stated, our shower remodel has begun. We had originally thought we’d remodel the bathroom in some not-too-distant future, but eroding grout has resulted in the shower leaking. So here we are, remodeling.

I am also going to consider Saturday’s bingo trip an act of consumerism because it’s a zero-skill gambling game. Kirk and I went because Sacramento Roller Derby was holding a fundraiser and so … why not? Well, bingo is boring as all get out is why not. When we arrived, we were assigned electronic bingo machines, about the size of a travel board game. The machine has some 40+ bingo cards running at once and fills in the numbers for you after you press “enter” to accept the next number. Meanwhile, you can fill out paper bingo cards in case you think you can do a better job of keeping up than a computer. I concluded that the paper was just to keep us busy and keep our minds of the coming A.I. apocalypse. Typical.

Making Things and Doing Stuff

photo of a painted sign that says "Punch Line Sacramento"
this way to Punch Line

One of the best things I did this week was go to the Invisible Disabilities comedy show at Punch Line on Sunday to watch my friend Abby perform. There were a lot of funny women in the show—in fact, the show was all women—who did sets around disabilities like OCD, anxiety, and fibromyalgia. I just want everyone to know that I have awesome friends and Abby is both hilarious and depressing in just the right combination. Afterwards, in the tradition of performers everywhere, we went to Denny’s and stayed out too late, considering it was a “school night.”

Language Learning

It was a full month with lots of tutoring (#RichBitchFantasy) and as much effort as I could muster. Studying is one of the first things that gets cut when life is busy because, ultimately, there’s no real reason for me to learn Icelandic; I just want to. Although maybe that’s the best reason of all. My strategy to watch more TV in Icelandic and soak it up seems to be helping. I’m starting to get better at stringing thoughts together, but it might also be that I was coming to my next stage of learning anyway. Icelandic is a language that requires a lot of groundwork. Spanish studies continue. I am doing what I can but I am still having a hard time just sitting down and putting in the work. Maybe I feel less urgency because my Spanish is pretty good? I don’t know. More to come, I suppose. Perhaps my Peru trip will result in some kind language-learning epiphany.

Working Out

A couple months ago we stopped working out at Body Tribe because we got tired of driving downtown three times per week. This week, we finally joined a new gym and I’m happy about it because I like picking heavy things up and putting them back down. We found a nice enough gym that’s really close to our house. In fact, it’s so close that it only takes a few minutes to get there by bike. Bonus exercise!

To complement this, I signed up for Iron Octopus Fitness‘ Cuttlefish Crew, which is a largely hands-off program for roller derby athletes. I learned in the last few years that it helps me a lot to have someone else do the math of how to work out for me. So far I really like the program, and it comes with a cool app that shows how to do each exercise and logs your weights, so it can graph how much you lift over time.

Kitchen Witchery

I’m taking full advantage of colder weather and baking and running the crock pot often. I made carnitas this week, which is great for slow cooking. I also baked some hamburger buns and made turkey burgers (not pictured). Yesterday I made sweet potato biscuits (recipe from The Bread Bible), which are maybe my favorite food? I don’t know. I just love bread.

Knitting and Crafts

My instagram followers have already seen this, but I am posting it here too because I can. I washed and blocked my new hooded caplet. It looks awesome and I am excited to wear it. I ordered a cool clasp for it. Once it arrives, I’m going to be looking for excuses to wear this.

Finally, some cat photos for your nerves.