It’s been a little difficult to convince myself to write lately because it doesn’t feel like I’ve done anything noteworthy. Days are running together. My only outing in the last week was a trip to the grocery store. I’ve been reading a lot, trying to stay cool indoors, and baking when it’s not too hot to turn on the oven.
Here are some things I read, watched, or bought recently.
I’ve spent a lot of time reading in part because I love to read and part because I put a ton of library books on hold and, predictably, they all rolled in at once.
Children of Time by Adrian Tchaikovsky is a fascinating sci-fi novel. It’s a post-apocalyptic space opera with humans orphaned on a generation ship and a planet of sentient spiders. The spider civilization really put me in mind of A Fire Upon the Deep (spoilers?) even though they were totally different spider societies. I liked Children of Time because it showed a civilization built on totally different principles, arachnocentric rather than androcentric. It was very interesting and well done. I’m looking forward to reading the next book in the series. Yes, I already have it in my hold list.
The Vanishing Half by Britt Bennett was a different kind of story altogether. Set in the recent past, Bennett tells the story of twins who grow up in a southern town full of nearly white Black people. Their story diverges when one of the twins discovers she can pass as white and disappears into the world of whiteness. This is an emotional novel exploring the fact that race is a complete fiction. What separates white and Black people other than made-up rules?
They Were Her Property: White Women as Slave Owners in the American South by Stephanie E. Jones-Rogers chronicles white women’s slave ownership in the South before the Civil War. This book was a lot to take in and it really made me think. The narrative we hear about antebellum southern women is that they were delicate and not involved in anything so terrible as slavery, but Jones-Rogers demonstrates that this is totally false. Women exist in the historical record buying and selling slaves, going to court over issues of slave ownership, and even “disciplining” their own slaves. One of the parts that really stuck out to me was the discussion of the end of slavery. Enslaved people were liberated but that’s it. The government didn’t have any job programs, no grants to help the formerly enslaved establish their lives, no program to help families reunite. They had literally nothing. Although that wasn’t what this book was about, it made me think a lot about the case for reparations. Black people were forced to come here, live and work as slaves, and when they were finally free, it was like, well, fuck you, bye. I don’t think it’s crazy to say that Black people deserve some compensation after all they’ve survived.
The absolute best thing we’ve watched recently is What We Do in the Shadows. This show gets funnier with every episode. Everything Lazlo says slays me because his voice is so dramatic. The energy vampire, Colin Robinson, gives us a framework to understanding the bullshit people we have to interact with. Everything about it is hilarious. If you haven’t watched this yet, you simply must.
My RuPaul’s Drag Race re-watch (ru-watch?) rages on. I’m nearly done with season 9. Sasha Velour remains one of my all-time favorite queens. I love how smart she is and how that translates into her art. I can only hope to be as cool and sophisticated one day.
For my birthday, I got a gift card for Omaha Steaks and I finally used it a few weeks ago. I am a savvy shopper so I ended up with a lot of foods. They deliver it in a big, styrofoam cooler. All the meats are vacuum sealed, but also packaged in cardboard boxes. Kirk and I had to tear it all apart to fit it into the freezer (he said it was like Meat Christmas). So far we’ve tried the hamburgers, beef tips, and chicken, plus some potatoes au gratin. Everything is pretty good. The meat is obviously good quality stuff even if it’s not blowing my mind. I’m not sure I would spend the money on this for myself, but it is always nice to get food gifts.
Making Things and Doing Stuff
I’ve been trying to keep my things and stuff to a minimum in an effort to stay cool. I know I’m posting about several topics here, but consider that I haven’t blogged in three weeks. I’ve spent most of my time lying around in front of the fan.
Spanish and Icelandic
I keep notes on what studying I do throughout the month. It doesn’t look like a whole lot, but I did read almost a whole book in Spanish, which I’m satisfied about. I’ve been very gradually trying to get back into Icelandic. My teacher is still on maternity leave, but I would like to be somewhat prepared when we start back up. I have been hacking away at my flashcard backlog. I did listen to a bit of the first Harry Potter book in Icelandic, but the library decided that wasn’t available anymore. So much for all that. I’m planning to watch a few things online like a cooking show I’d been watching of maybe some kids TV.
Something I have learned during this pandemic is that I don’t want to do things if it’s only an approximation of the way I would normally do it. I have not enjoyed, nor had success with, trying to do normal exercise routines because it annoys me to have to adjust to not having the right equipment or space. However, I’ve been enjoying doing completely different stuff. I bought a jump rope a few weeks ago and I’ve been doing that a few minutes at a time as cardio. It’s finally getting a little easier (though it’s still hard). Dance classes are going well too. I’ve been attending ballet every week and a jazz dance class sporadically. Ballet is interesting because the hip positioning and upper/lower body separation is similar to what we do in roller derby. I haven’t skated since spraining my ankle in February, but maybe my dance skills will help me once we’re back on the track.
I’ve been trying to keep things fairly simple lately and plan for leftovers so we don’t have to cook all the time. For Cook Meat Outside Day (aka the 4th of July), I made hamburgers and cooked some baked beans in the crockpot. I’ve also been grilling chicken and vegetables because I have the technology. Most people think the slow cooker is for winter foods, but I like to use it in the summer because it doesn’t get too hot. I made a batch of black beans a few weeks ago and have used it for a few meals of burritos.
The only 4th of July tradition I really observe is making ice cream. Not that I don’t make ice cream at other times, but I always make it for the 4th. This year I tried out a pistachio toffee ice cream. I picked up a recipe card at Nugget at least a year ago and it’s been on my fridge since, so it was exciting to finally make it! The toffee was delicious on its own and the ice cream was even tastier with it. Definitely one of my better recipes.
Because I had a bunch of egg whites leftover from the ice cream, I made coconut macaroons (not pictured) and some macarons (yes, these words are confusing. English is a stupid language). I’d never made macarons before but it went okay. I think one of the baking sheets needed longer to cook—the macarons came out kind of sticky and didn’t hold their shape when I took them off the sheet. So I made a big macaron blob with the rest of the icing. I’m not sad about it.
Finally, here are some cat photos for your nerves.