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