Oof. 14 hours after leaving the house this morning, I am standing at the counter to eat my dinner, while prepping coffee for tomorrow and chatting with kiddos about Homecoming, choreography, and marching band. Not every day is like this, thank heaven, but this is why I am not on LJ often enough anymore. Times will change...hope this is all here later. :)
Many things are challenging, and many things are going well. Miss you monsters and hope to figure out some sort of occasional access again soon!
I was in a meeting, 2:30-3:15p today. When I got back to my desk, there was a voicemail from Security Person downstairs, saying I had some visitors with a delivery for me. Uh. I wasn't expecting anybody or anything today, but went down right away to see what was up. Naturally, the visitors weren't there anymore, but 2nd shift Security Person didn't know what it was about, so he called 1st shift Security Person to check.
Two people had come by with PIES FOR ME.
I...just...WOW. No idea who would be bringing me pie or why. The pie fairies said they'd come back on Monday, so it's going to kill me all weekend, wondering WTF SURPRISE PIES. I authorized the Security People to sign for the pies, if the fairies would allow it, because pies shouldn't be left hanging like that, you know?
So mystery. Much boggle. PIE.
The next level of that goal is on the list now: let people take more pictures of me, and share those too. It's no secret that I hate having my picture taken. Sure, it's distressing that I look more and more like my father every year, but I've never been under the illusion that I'm a great beauty. It really boils down to being ferociously uncomfortable with being on display, either in life or in pictures. (Somehow, performing is different. I don't understand why.) But then I read a story somebody posted about somebody else on Facebook, and my family agreed with the premise: if something horrible and final were to happen to me, they wouldn't have any pictures of me. at. all.
I've always worked hard to participate in the lives of my kids...to be present and active. So now I'm going to let the visual chronicles of that match the memories. The goal is to really make sure to share at least one photo of me each month of the next 1001 days (give or take), whether it's the much-maligned selfie, a picture I don't run away from, or whatever. ( Here's January 2014: )
It was odd to realize, finally, that he also assisted the Tolkien family in editing The Silmarillion after the big guy had passed away. I remember agrnmn saying he'd never been able to finish it, which was odd because he *loved* Tolkien. I, on the other hand, never could handle reading Tolkien (so sue me), so maybe I'll like this other book. Food for thought.
I'm still waiting for that Elizabeth Moon book to come in on ILL, and I think I'll look for a few other of David Weber's. You know, for BALANCE.
This one is an "alien invasion science fiction novel," of the sort wherein Earthlings kick ass because humans are so much more tenacious and inventive than the silly aliens assumed we'd be...almost a Mary Sue thing, but on an planetary scale. Full of weapons geekery -- like, maybe 12% of the words could be all "blah, blah, blah" if you don't care all that much about *which* machine gun sight will work best in a given situation. All the women were competent; all the men were caring husbands and fathers, etc. There started to be some interesting discussion from the invader species' xenobiologist regarding human psychology, but then that character died. Bummer. Also, the ending came out of nowhere, and not in that great plot management sort of way. Here's what it was like: we used to have D&D game that included chaos magic, in which the DM would roll a d100 to determine kind of random event happened as a consequence of successful (or unsuccessful) chaos magician's actions. Plotwise, this ending reminded me of the time a piano fell out of the sky on top of a villain's head. Still a super-enjoyable writing style even if he uses foreshadowing like an M1A1. (Highly mobile, designed for modern armored ground warfare, the M1 is well armed and heavily armored. Notable features include the use of a powerful gas turbine engine [multi-fuel capable, usually fueled with JP8 jet fuel], the adoption of sophisticated composite armor, and separate ammunition storage in a blow-out compartment for crew safety. Weighing nearly 68 short tons [almost 62 metric tons], it is one of the heaviest main battle tanks in service. See what I did there?) I will look for other Weber books. I wonder if the WTF Ending is a thing for him. News at eleven.
Engaging the Enemy, Elizabeth Moon
Alas, this seems to be third in a series; if not a series, it's at least the third book in a general world/storyline crafted such that one has to read the preceding books to really understand. Which...you know, that's okay. Books that use lots of paragraphs recapping what happened before can be dull, but perhaps there's a happy medium between "let's review, kids" and "you're on your own." I don't know why I didn't pick up on that before I checked it out of the library, but I gave up after about 40 pages. Nobody has time for that noise. I think I'll like the characters and the general story, but there just wasn't any point in struggling to read this one right now. I'll seek out the first and start there.
Emboldened by this victory, I decided to engage the troops in making a first batch of toffee. KiraDeara was very excited about using the candy thermometer; I was impressed by what happens when you heat up four sticks of butter, two cups of sugar, and some vanilla. One of the college kids got home last night and asked if we were making caramel. I think the difference is that caramel uses brown sugar instead? Might look that up later. Anyway. The toffee chilled overnight and taste testers inform me this morning that it's AWESOME. Yay! When I bust up this batch into pieces later tonight, I'll have a better idea of how many batches we'll need to make for gifting and how many metric tons of butter that will take. (We try to include 6-8 servings of each item in the baskets.) I also need to figure out today *how many* gift assortments we're giving out this year. Because math.
I think I'm going to delay making cranberry bread until my shoulder is doing better, because I don't know if I can delegate that baking to anybody else. The cranberry bread is MINE, you know? We'll see.
I don't want to do a parade of tiny hats again -- and, really, how could I top that? -- but I've gotten some interesting ideas for ways to "dress up" the lids. The older girls are pretty much in charge of their own buddy gifts, so that cuts down the volume of cocoa jars and buddy gifts by about 30%, thank goodness.
The boys aren't terribly interested in doing buddy gifts this year. The younger girls want to make infinity scarves for a handful of friends each, which seems manageable, particularly since we're talking about fabric rather than yarn. For the cookie assortments we package up as family gifts (to other families), the kids wanted to switch up the plan. We'll be doing a different selection this year -- marshmallow fudge, no-flour peanut butter cookies with chocolate kisses on top, toffee, and cinnamon-roasted almonds. YUM.
I'm thinking I want to be packaging things with brown paper, maybe stamped with metallic ink snowflakes, trimmed with twine (jute), and some jingle bells. Hm. Not sure how it got to be December 7th all of a sudden, and of course I'll be doing this without much use of my right arm. So we'll see how that vision takes shape.
We started one batch of "straight mead," and one batch with a white grape juice "kicker" in the mix. Both one-gallon jugs are burbling away on the kitchen counter. I'll be glad to move those down to the basement over the weekend, where I will fret less about accidentally knocking them over. Not sure if we'll start another two batches this weekend or not. It's a surprisingly affordable hobby, given that we've got the jugs and most of the other supplies in the house already.
Two months from now, we'll [verb] the contents of the bigger jugs into smaller bottles, and then test one of the smaller bottles every month or so for up to a year. Hard to say precisely when it'll be done, but we'll take notes along the way so we can duplicate anything particularly awesome and share with friends in the future. SCIENCE!
This wasn't on my 101 in 1001 list, but it really should have been. I'm pleased enough that I might add it just so I can check it off.
( This got longer than I thought. )
Update: Since I am a sovereign being, I elected to skip the costume contest. SO HAPPY.
Oh, VURD: What would you challenge me with?
There's a pretty huge range of things I could put on the list, from outrageous to common-sense...expensive to free...frightening to enlightening...
( Before. )
( After. )
A note for katzenfrau: I let the girls start carving pumpkins yesterday afternoon, and supervised as they toasted the seeds. They were also 100% in charge of getting out Halloween decorations. I am pleased with this arrangement. I don't have to do any of it, but it still gets done and they had a blast.
Today, my arms ache like crazy and I can hardly move my hands. YAY! One more weekend of cutting things back, putting bulbs in the ground, and putting things into storage for winter should do the trick outside for the season. Unless I figure out how to tackle power-washing and re-staining the backyard fence before it gets too cold. Hrm.
We also laid the concrete pavers for the fire pit I got for my birthday, and had a fire (complete with s'mores) on Saturday night. Looking to put new lengths of wood in the old benches so we'll have some permanent seating out there, too. That will be groovy. But the big news is that I finally have my rain barrels! Yes, we're installing them in the wrong season and will have to winterize them soon, but I'm delighted that, after years of wanting them, I finally have one (with another positioned for overflow). We've been reluctant to plant much of anything in the back yard because it's so hard to get water back there, and now that problem is solved.
This coming weekend, I'll get to trimming back some shrubberies and dead-heading all the annuals/perennials that are past their time. And start scoping out sources of straw bales for what will be our back yard vegetable garden next year. Nothing horribly ambitious -- just, you know, onions and tomatoes and basics like that -- but still nice progress. By the time the bales have outlived themselves, we'll know what we want to do for a more permanent garden layout back there. At least, that's the idea. :)
I had my hopes pinned on doing a TON of yard work this weekend. Nothing glamorous...just lots of clean-up tasks like the final trimming of shrubberies and maybe marking off some area for a raised bed we'll build over the winter, but plenty to occupy most of the weekend. And now -- in addition to feeling like I'm coming down with something -- it's looking like the weather won't cooperate, either.
Starving today, and wanting to wrap up in flannel for napping likewhoa. Plus CAKE. Not sure if it's hormones, the weather, or an impending cold, but WOW is this ever hard to fight. Maybe making some rum cake from the recipe I finally found from my mom would be medicinal? Yeah, that's the ticket. Glad we have chicken soup in the house.