I’m sure you are all waiting for a follow up on the ants in the pantry situation. The ants have been beaten back. We had pest control come on Tuesday to spray and we spent the whole week murdering ants. On Friday, I finally put the food back in the pantry, but we are still finding ants straggling in from a crack under the floorboard. Buy a home they said. It will be fun they said (I will note that this is sarcastic and I generally feel that the benefits of having a house outweigh the annoyances, but the annoyances are … very annoying).
I spent a lot of this week cleaning. In addition to cleaning the kitchen (again: ants), I’ve been trying to clear out all the dust that accumulated during the last (current?) round of fires. Spring cleaning is for people who live somewhere without an autumnal fire season. Fall cleaning always seems to be how it happens in this house. We are also preparing for my mother in law to spend the next week and a half with us, which obviously demanded house cleaning. She and her dogs will be here while her house is getting a new air conditioning installed. The hope is to keep her away from additional coronavirus risk. My father in law will be overseeing the air conditioning situation at their house. Just another week in the pandemic.
Here are some things I’ve recently read, watched, or bought.
Books and Other Words
This week I read Sisters in Hate: American Women on the Front Lines of White Nationalism by Seyward Darby. It’s a case study of three women involved in white nationalism plus an examination of some of the history and sociology surrounding the movement. The white nationalist movement likes having women front and center because, thanks to our patriarchal lens, women can say more inflammatory things and get away with it. This was a compelling, informative read that gets to the root of why some people feel the need to involve themselves in hate groups. The short answer seems to be that people are searching for community and a sense of belonging. For unmoored white people, white supremacy can fill that void. I recommend reading this and They Were Her Property if you have any doubts about white women being instrumental in perpetuating this country’s racism.
Meanwhile on the internet:
- I lived through collapse. America is already there. via Medium. I’ve seen a variety of commentary recently on this theme. People from other countries are trying to explain to Americans that there’s no flashing neon sign saying “Your country has collapsed,” but that people do normal stuff: go to work, live their lives. I’m still waiting for an article to explain what to do with my emotions and how to respond, but naming the problem is step one.
- Fact checking is the core of nonfiction writing. Why do so many publishers refuse to do it? via Esquire. This is an interesting entry in understanding our fragmented discourse. Did you know that you can just publish a non-fiction book? It doesn’t even have to be right. Many publishers are not paying to fact check books, that’s now something that has to come from the writer herself. I can’t help but interpret this as part of a larger cultural problem of how we know what to trust.
- Eat, Pray, Conspiracy: How the Wellness World Embraced QAnon via Jezebel. I don’t think I know any QAnon adherents, but I keep seeing articles trying to understand it in my feeds. This one examines the strange case of “wellness” fans being swept up in QAnon conspiracy theories. The article explains, “It’s no surprise that wellness adherents—people who earnestly believe that there is a deeper truth out there, accessible to those who seek it out—would find an easy overlap with the ideas that animate QAnon. After all, the wellness industry has been built on questioning, often understandably, established science and the medical industry, successfully mainstreaming fringe ideas and providing easy solutions to complex problems.”
- If Amy Coney Barrett was a Muslim via the Feminist Giant Newsletter by Mona Eltahawy. I have no comments because it’s a perfect essay. Just read it!
TV and Music
It may come as a shock to you to learn that I haven’t watched The Golden Girls, but it is the truth. I am confessing this because I am now overcoming this glaring omission in my pop culture education. I started watching The Golden Girls this week. I’m only four episodes in so far (out of 177!), but I’m already enjoying it and I can see why people like it so much. I’m sure I’ll have more to say about it, but for now I would like it to be known that I’m watching it.
I spend a fair amount of time at my personal computer so I do take my desk choices seriously. I recently bought a new desk because my old one was irritating me—it had a drawer for the keyboard, which was nice but that drawer had a lip that was forever irritating my wrists. I finally upgraded to a new desk. I like shelves above the computer, although it is still a little weird to hear the computer’s sounds coming from above me. This was also a good opportunity to clean up all the computer dust and re-manage my cables.
Making Things and Doing stuff
I did something terrifying this week: washed a beloved stuffed animal. This tiger, better known as Cuddles, has been with me since I had my tonsils out when I was four. I’m pretty sure he’s never been washed. I decided to hand wash him because he was pretty grimy and honestly a bit dusty. I used more or less the same technique I would for washing knits. I read up beforehand to make sure I wasn’t going to ruin anything (apparently lots of metaphorical ink has been spilled on the topic of cleaning stuffed animals). The good news is that Cuddles survived the ordeal and is nice and clean. It took two afternoons in the sun to get him fully dry.
I’ve been in a mood for bread and baking. I tried out the potato bread recipe from The Baking Bible earlier this week, but it cam out a little under-proofed (still delicious, however). I made another attempt, and doubled the recipe. I realized I misread the recipe the first time by adding four tablespoons of butter instead of four teaspoons. The second round rose much more readily and came out quite nice. I brushed them with butter after baking for that extra gloss.
Because I’m basic and watched the new episode of the Great British Baking Show last night, I’m now plotting to make a battenberg cake. I probably won’t make it until later in the week, but today I made the marzipan, which you can make ahead and keep in the fridge. I had never used or attempted to make marzipan before. I found it surprisingly easy. I happened to have some extra egg whites to use up and almond flour in my pantry (I used that instead of blanched almonds), so I went for it. I also made some candied pecans today. I typically buy something similar from Trader Joe’s to put in my oatmeal, but it occurred to me it would be stupid easy to make (it was). Since I have nothing better to do in this pandemic except make everything from scratch, here I am.
Finally, here are some cat photos for your nerves.