This week I’ve had a funny juxtaposition of activities. We’ve spent a lot of time playing Nintendo, but we’ve also gotten our taxes done and have moved forward with refinancing our mortgage. I’m relieved we don’t owe much this year! Last year we had to pay almost $4,000 (and the year prior was similar). This year, I adjusted my withholding so the IRS got an extra $500 per month and now we’re getting about $3,500 back. Unfortunately, we still owe the State about $1,500, so I haven’t quite mastered the art of tax withholding. Meanwhile, our mortgage refinance has now gone to underwriting, and all that’s left after that will be signing the documents and closing. With all this going on, you can probably understand why all I want to do is play video games.
Here are some things I’ve recently read, watched, or bought.
Books and Other Words
I read a lot this week, starting with The Color of Air by Gail Tsukiyama. This is not a novel I would have picked for myself (I got it as part of my Powell’s Indiespensable subscription), but I really liked it. It’s set in 1930s Hawai’i and the story focuses on a young man returning home after a decade away on the mainland where he studied to become a doctor. The story really revolves around the Hilo community as an extended family. I enjoyed the writing style a lot and liked the way Tsukiyama fleshed out all the characters. It felt very real.
I also read Witchmark and Stormsong by C. L. Polk, which are the first two (of three) books in her Kingston Cycle. The last book, Soulstar, published a couple of weeks ago and I decided to re-read the first two before reading the new one. I’m glad I did because the three books are one continuous story, with the action in the second and third books starting immediately where the previous books end. Each book is from the perspective of a different character. I’ve just started the third and I’m excited to see how the protagonist of this book sees things differently. I love these books a lot because it’s magic and a new world and people fighting against injustice. Plus, gay witches and fancy outfits. What’s not to love?
Meanwhile, on the internet:
- Autistic children may have trouble predicting movements via Spectrum News. Sometimes research comes out and I feel seen. Researchers have found that autistic kids struggle with catching a ball. This is something I was terrible at for a long time, until I learned how to juggle when I was 14. Even after that, I still struggled in sportsball scenarios.
- New research shows California coronavirus variant is more transmissible via Washington Post. Guess who’s staying inside until she’s vaccinated? It’s me!
- California to expand COVID-19 vaccine eligibility to residents with severe health conditions, disabilities via Cap Radio. This is good and weird news for me. Being fat is a “severe health condition” here and fat people with a BMI over 40 will be eligible for the vaccination, which means I’ll be eligible in mid March. This is the first time BMI has ever done anything good for me, although—and I’m not the first fat person to comment on this—there are a lot of weird feelings and guilt like “do I deserve the vaccine when I don’t have a real health issue?” I fully plan to get vaccinated at soon as possible, but the emotions around it are fraught.
- Why obese people should get COVID-19 vaccine priority via Slate. From the article: “Obesity in COVID patients is associated with higher death rates and higher rates of hospital admissions to the ICU. On balance, we know these patients tend to spend more time on ventilators than those with lower BMIs.” And: “By prioritizing patients with obesity in the line for COVID-19 vaccines, medicine is not only following the data but is also pursuing a form of equity that recognizes obesity as a disease, rather than a character flaw.”
- Britney Spears was never in control via The Cut. I didn’t watch the new Britney Spears documentary, but I liked this response to it. It’s an interesting read about the intersection of youth, womanhood, celebrity, and agency.
TV and Music
I’m still playing Super Mario 3D world, which is fun but the music won’t get out of my brain. I’ve “beaten” the game, but I have to finish collecting all the special stuff in each level to unlock the last bit. Maybe next week I’ll have some more interesting TV or music thoughts for you.
I bought some dryer balls, which are a reusable replacement for dryer sheets. I am finally almost out of dryer sheets and wanted to replace them with something non-disposable. These are made of wool and seem nice. They say they last for 1,000 trips through the dryer. My only complaint is I can hear them bouncing around (though the website claims they are quiet) when I’m in my office, which is next to the laundry room. Otherwise, I like them.
Making Things and Doing Stuff
I took Monday and Tuesday off work and was able to spend some afternoon time in my hammock! It’s finally warm and dry enough to get a little sun and read outside.
Related, I’m obsessed with this cat chilling in a hammock. His name is Cheddar Bob and I love him. The combination of the cat swaying and bobbing along with the Mr. Roger’s music in the background made me feel more peace than I’ve felt in months.
Yesterday we learned how to “run” in the ballet style. I’ve been taking classes at home so I did my run as a lap from my computer, through the kitchen, past the living room and back. It’s kind of a goofy movement anyway, but there’s something really funny about running around my own house, as if the movement only makes sense in a certain context. You may even be able to see my goofy ballet run soon! My studio is going to do a virtual recital this spring, which sounds fun.
Last weekend I tried taking us on another culinary vacation, but it didn’t really go how I pictured it. I don’t know if my heart wasn’t in it or if I messed up the recipes and that brought down my enthusiasm. Regardless, here are the results. I made potatoes a la huacaína, which is a boiled potato with a cheesy sauce. These were good, but everything else was questionable. I made a casserole that was like a corn pudding with beef in the middle, which seemed good in theory but I didn’t like. I made a chicken and the flavor was good but I didn’t cook it well. Finally, we had chicha morada, which is a spiced drink made with purple corn, and I didn’t like that very much either. So, I don’t know. I tried.
In more successful food ventures, I’m back on my granola bullshit. In my Burlap and Barrel spice subscription last week, one of the recipes included for using the cardamom they sent was for granola. I’ve made granola plenty of times, but I liked that this recipe was pretty open ended, calling for seven cups of whatever combination of things you want. I had some for breakfast this morning and it came out great!
I also tried my hand at madeleines. I was a little skeptical because I’ve only had the kind you buy in the store, which are not very exciting. However, homemade madeleines are delicious. They are fluffy and tasty. This recipe had vanilla, maple, and lemon for flavor. I think I’m going to try a chocolate version next (now that I have a ridiculous single-use pan lol).
Finally, here are some cat photos for your nerves. This week, I the spirit moved me to try taking Huey on a tour of the back yard. I bought some kitty harnesses and leashes last year when I was working on our emergency kits. I thought Huey might like to go outside and I like the idea of getting her used to the harness in case of emergency. Huey was definitely vibing, but I’ve already created a monster. We’ve gone out twice and now Huey has made it part of her routine to shout in front of the door so we can go outside. We can look forward to more adventures of Huey in the yard.