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.
Here are some things I read, watched, or bought this week.
These are some of the things I read online this week:
Being Better to Your Fat Friend This Thanksgiving from Medium. It can be hard to be fat on a day when people are being dipshits about food and weight. I’m lucky that this year, most of my friend network has shared things about how exercise is not punishment for eating and the like.
Amazon Alternatives: not so much a read as a list or a guide. This site has gathered ethical alternatives to Amazon and arranged them all by category. It’s a great resource if you’re trying to cut Amazon out of your life.
What If we Called It the ‘Flax Age’ Instead of the ‘Iron Age’ from LiteraryHub. What if we defined civilization based on the textiles we produced instead of the fancy rocks we made? What if we valued women’s labor? A fascinating perspective (and the author of this article wrote a book on the subject, which I’ve obviously put on hold at the library).
A Brief History of the Crock Pot from Smithsonian Magazine. Just when you thought you couldn’t appreciate the slow cooker more than you already do, here’s a whole article about it. I was interested to learn that it was inspired by Jews finding ways to cook ahead to avoid working on the Sabbath.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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
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.
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).
Here are some things I read and bought this week.
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.
The Cost of Leaving an Abusive Relationship via the California Sunday Magazine. As I said last week, men are fucking jackals. This article is about two women trying to leave abusive relationships and the cost of doing so.
Millennials have dinner parties, they just don’t call them that via Vox. Maybe Millennials killed dinner parties but maybe we just reinvented them and made them enjoyable?? Did you ever think about that? This describes my generation getting together for dinner and hanging with friends but not under the stodgy guise of the dinner party. This made me think of our cookbook club and how it’s super informal and just a way to hang out and eat with friends.
#RitasQuilt via Twitter. Okay this is a twitter thread, not an article, but it’s really cool and I want to share it. The original poster found squares for a huge, hand-embroidered quilt at an estate sale and now has people all over the country helping finish it. Sometimes the internet is great.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Here are some things I read, watched, or bought this week.
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.
America’s origin myth, and its reputation at risk, from The Guardian. I, like many, had been taught that the name “America” comes from an error in transmission of the name “Amerigo,” but The Guardian says it’s actually from what the Icelanders were calling the landmass, “Markland.” Now we know something.
Witches are Having their Hour, from the New York Times. The Times talks to a modern-day witch about why witchiness is so popular among the youth these days. It’s quite an interesting perspective.
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.
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.
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
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!
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.
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.
Here are some things I read or watched this week.
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.
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.
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!
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!
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.
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?
Here are some things I read, watched, or bought this week.
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.”
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.
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
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.”
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.
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.
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.
It’s finally fall! It was stupidly hot for most of this week but at least there are shorter days upon us. I don’t know exactly why I revel in this season so much—perhaps it’s an oppositional joy that comes from being a Californian.
I put up my Halloween decorations, such as they are. I made this bunting last year so now I have the joy of reusing it. Kirk noted that it’s early for Halloween decor, but it makes me happy and it’s decorative gourd season, so no one can stop me.
Here are some things I read, had anxiety about, listened to, or bought this week.
Last weekend I read Margaret Atwood’s new novel, The Testaments, which is a sequel to the more-popular-than-ever Handmaid’s Tale. As I read, I considered why Atwood would return to this story. In the past, she’s been pretty adamant about letting the work speak for itself and not saying definitively what “happened” at the novel’s end. The Testaments explores how and why an ordinary person might buy into a totalitarian regime that she is theoretically opposed to. One of the novel’s viewpoints is that of Aunt Lydia, regime loyalist and, from the view of The Handmaid’s Tale, oppressor. However, Aunt Lydia sees herself as a survivor, someone playing the long game to topple the regime. She carefully accumulates kompromat on the men in charge and tries to give the young “aunts” in her care enough knowledge to join the game. She does what she can to spare women pain, but limited by the society she’s a hostage to, this lesser torment is, well, still torment.
Through The Testaments, Atwood is both giving us hope and asking us a question. Hope because, as readers of The Handmaid’s Tale know, Gilead doesn’t last forever. The original story is framed as part of a presentation at an academic symposium, as is The Testaments. Even if our government is terrible, we know it can’t last forever. The question Atwood asks is, effectively: what would you do? Would you be an Aunt Lydia, working the system but contributing to overall suffering and legitimizing the regime in the meantime? Would you be an activist? A collaborator? These questions aren’t theoretical at this point, given the bullshit times we’re living in. Plenty of people have said things to the effect of, if you’ve ever wondered what you would have done during the Holocaust, it’s probably what you’re doing now. To me, The Testaments is making the same declaration. What would you do in Gilead? What would you do if your government were separating families? Separating children from their mothers? What are you doing now?
I’ve been talking about this so much that I decided it should have its own heading, at least sometimes. The big news in climate this week was, of course, Greta Thunberg addressing the United Nations. She is so raw and it’s agonizing. Her frustration resonated with me because it’s how I feel too. I sympathize with her though, and all the young activists that are sure to follow, because she just wants to go about her life. She doesn’t want to be an activist (who among us does?), but she is doing the most to wake people up to the immensity of global warming.
Of course, rather than engage with how incredibly grave global warming is, a lot of men on the internet have derided Thunberg for not being cute, cheerful, or any of the other “virtues” that are expected of women and girls. Fellow feminist killjoy Jessica Valenti captures these ideas neatly, along with similar recent incidents, in her article The Niceness Trap on Medium. Valenti has a knack for summing up why men are often trash, stating “There is a reason men resort to calling women ‘nasty’ or suggest we’re unpleasant when we try to hold them to account: They believe it’s a conversation ender. If we’re not sufficiently pleasing or deferential, we’re not really worthy of listening to.”
In climate … hope, I suppose, Kate Wagner, author of the ever-hilarious McMansion Hell blog, writes in A Green New Home about how a Green New Deal could impact our living spaces. This is an interesting perspective on climate change because we tend to think about transit and institutional changes, but less what a climate-friendly home might look like. I’m sharing this article to remind us (and myself) that change isn’t always bad. Some really innovative changes could come out of how we respond to the climate crisis—assuming we do it in time.
In a similar vein, I came across this Ask Polly entry on The Cut from a reader who is paralyzed by climate change. I won’t summarize it here, but I will say that the response is definitely worth reading.
What do you listen to when you need to calm down? A while ago, I started a Spotify playlist for myself called Anxiety Jams to fill with music that is just songs that help me take a deep breath, feel like I’m not alone, or make me laugh. This song, You Will Return by Quantic, really makes me feel good for reasons I can’t explain and I finally remembered to add it to the playlist after it came up on my shuffle the other day.
I bought a bag-full of candy to soothe my soul on Tuesday. I had to do an extra day of working in the office so on the way I bought some treats from Andy’s Candy Apothecary. I don’t know what to tell you other than their candy is delicious and you should go there. I bought a bag of pretzel chocolate caramels and a bag of peanut butter chocolate caramels. No regrets.
Making Things and Doing Stuff
In my Icelandic class this week, we had a discussion about books and reading. We’ve been working on the passive voice and part of my homework was to write about a book. So we got to talking and I told her I keep a list of what I read every year and I’m already over 50 books this year. She was shocked. She wanted to know how I have time to read so much amid all the other things I do. I told her, ég á ekki börn (I don’t have kids). I usually introduce this section bemoaning the dearth of things made and stuff did, but this week, I’ll let this anecdote speak for itself.
Are you dying for a pickle update? I was, so I convinced Kirk to try the pickles. He tried the pepporchinis first and said he wasn’t sure if he liked them or not (despite this uncertainty, he ate five). He sampled them again later and told me that, in fact, he did not like them and that they would perhaps be improved by using less vinegar. However, the pickles themselves were a success. He said they were really good and he would like me to make them again. He encouraged me to try one, despite my total hatred of pickles, and I did, much to my regret. I nibbled one brined nub, tried really hard to finish what I started, then admitted defeat and spat it into the sink. I cleansed my palette with a fat piece of bread with butter. Pickles are disgusting.
Don’t worry, reader, I also made foods for myself. I made a pizza on Sunday night and topped it with pesto, mozzarella, ricotta, and cashews. It was delicious. I also tried to welcome cooler temperatures on Thursday night by making chili in the crock pot, which I neglected to take a picture of. I made another batch of granola in the crock pot too and got a little container for it so it doesn’t take up valuable food storage real estate from my regular tupperware rotation.
Knitting and Crafts
I finished my hooded caplet today and I’m excited about it. It’s not completely done—I still need to block it and get some kind of fastener for the caplet—but the knitting is done and that is the hard part. This was my first go at cable knitting and I am looking forward to doing more. Behold!
Next on the knitting docket is … the same thing! My mom requested that I make one for her so I’m going to get started. Holiday knitting season is now happening.
It has been another busy week here between the onslaught of proposals (boooo, work), roller derby, my mom visiting, and the minutia daily life. I’m able to cope with work being full by focusing on my upcoming trip to Peru. On Monday, we went to get vaccinations and a flu shot in advance of traveling. My doctor recommended hepatitis A and B vaccines, typhoid, and rabies, but I skipped the rabies shot because really. I also got some pills for altitude sickness and food poisoning that I hope I won’t need to use.
Here are some things I read or bought this week.
I looked at my reading log earlier this week and realized I hadn’t finished any books yet this month. Then I went on to finish three books this week. I’d had three non-fiction books going at once—no wonder I hadn’t finished anything. I just wrapped up Braiding Sweetgrass, House of Trump House of Putin, and Bring the War Home. I know I have already talked a bit about the first two here on the blog, but not yet about Bring the War Home, which discusses the white supremacist movement beginning around the Vietnam War through to the Oklahoma City Bombing in the 1990s. The author, Kathleen Belew, charts the development of the white power movement and how it was organized, both in spirit and function, around experience in and dissatisfaction with the Vietnam War. It was a lot of information but really interesting to see that these white power activists have been using the same methods and talking points for decades. Belew concludes that more recent acts of white power terrorism, like those committed by Dylan Roof, were inspired by the movement that grew out of the post-Vietnam era. She states that, because we haven’t been able to understand and reflect on these actions as a true movement, we’re stuck with many of the same problems now that we had through the 1970s to the 1990s. This book has been a worthy entry in my ongoing practice of reading for the revolution.
This week’s internet reading:
You watch TV. Your TV watches back. via the Washington Post. Televisions, like every other piece of technology in the modern world, are privacy nightmares. One interesting thing I learned from this article was that you can say no to the TV tracking options that you’re prompted to opt-in to when you set up the machine for the first time. I had kind of assumed that if you say “no,” the TV won’t work. I think I’m not alone in this, yet the TV industry interprets our agreement as understanding.
Why Nothing Works Anymore via The Atlantic. Ian Bogost asks what the purpose is of technology, like automatically flushing toilets, that vexes us. He concludes it serves its own purposes, not ours.
Also via The Atlantic, The Challenge of Margaret Atwood. Atwood has a new book out and this is a cool article about her and her work. Plus she mentions people associating riding a bicycle with being a socialist, which made me laugh because I joke about that a lot.
When my mom was here, we decided to take a lap around one of the seasonal Halloween stores. I wasn’t that impressed by most of it, mostly because I hate cheap stuff (#RichWhiteWomanFantasy), but I couldn’t pass up this ridiculous dish towel featuring Death on a unicycle. We also hit the local yarn store, Knitique, because I told my mom I would knit her a gift and she could pick out the yarn. I bought new glasses this week too, which I am quite excited about. I’m ready for a new look. Plus I bought new sport glasses for derby that should provide me with more peripheral vision. True luxury.
I got my monthly chocolate subscription from Raaka Chocolate this week and the photos generated a lot of interest on my instagram. I started subscribing a few months ago, but this month’s box has been the best so far. It included a tahini swirl and a chocolate halva bar, which were so tasty. Highly recommended if you need more chocolate in your life. I like the predictability of it because it helps me avoid randomly buying treats as often because I know I’ll have something good in the future.
Making Things and Doing Stuff
My mom came to visit me last weekend so we tried to show her a good time. We started her trip with lunch at The Rind, Sacramento’s foremost cheese-based restaurant. You can see her in this photo getting hype over the cheese plate we ordered. We also hit up Leatherby’s because we love ice cream. On Saturday, we did a little shopping, going to the yarn store and running some errands. Saturday night mom came to watch me play roller derby! Of course she wore one of my shirts which resulted in a lot of positive attention. Mom was planning to stay until Monday, but she got sick and left on Sunday instead. I still took Monday off work though because I’m a rebel.
Parent visits aside, I made the mistake this afternoon of riding to the library at the same time that every student in Elk Grove gets out of school. I thought I was early enough to enjoy the solitude of my weekly bike ride, but alas, the streets were thronged with unruly youths. If work hadn’t been so busy this week, I wouldn’t have had this problem. I had to spend the morning re-outlining a proposal because someone apparently has no idea how an outline works. At times like these, I never know if I’m a judgmental asshole or if everyone is really bad at things. My dad says I’m arrogant and sometimes I believe him. Although I think that today I’m in the right.
We had our second home team game of the season last Saturday and Team Blue Steel faced off against Team Yellow. We coordinated a couple of silly jams, which ended up being quite fun. Those of us who hadn’t played home teams before are still experimenting with what we can do and I’m glad we’re trying things out. Blue Steel got close to winning, but didn’t quite make it. However, I learned after the game that somehow we lost 10 minutes of game time from the period clock. If we had played another 10 minutes, we would have won! It’s hard not to be offended but there’s nothing to be done about it. I know in my heart that we won the game.
Kirk harvested our onions from the backyard garden for me. I must say I expected something a little … bigger. This has been an experimental year in the garden. Now we know that onions are not going to work that well (at least during the summer) .
We went to the farmers market on Sunday since there was no morning derby practice. I picked up a pretty big load of vegetables and didn’t even spend twenty dollars. Sometimes the farmers market really pays off. We saw a few vendors selling cucumbers for pickling, so we bought some and I pickled that. This is not my first pickling experiment, but I am still not sure of the results of the first one. I pickled pepporchinis last month, but Kirk has yet to sample them. I’m interested to see how the pickles come out, not because I want to eat them (gross) but to find out if I’m good at pickling things.
Finally, here’s some cat photos for your nerves. Huey desperately wants to spend more time on the futon in the guest bedroom. Unfortunately for her, I have since put the bedding away and shut her out. Her life is very hard.