Friday, December 8, 2017

7ToF: lots to catch up on

Someday I will take a good pic of her, but it is not this day

1. Well, first of all, we have a new family member. She is a shelter kitty named Wynnie, short for Eowyn, and she is a year-and-a-half old. I love having a cat, so this makes me very happy. The mice were getting out of hand over the summer, and we're counting on Miss Wynnie to be a huntress. She's still a little skittish, but she's warming up to us. Now we just have to solve the sibling rivalry with our dog Sadie and we'll be good.

2. In our ongoing battle with the neighborhood foxes, we are losing. Badly. We're down to four chickens at the moment, which brings us to a total of seven that the foxes have carted off this year. It's impossible to hate them-- they're just doing what comes naturally. But I have to admit I shake my head when I see them around the neighborhood because you have never seen such healthy, well-fed foxes.

3. I went back to work, and for the most part, I love it. Only three days a week, which is perfect for right now. Our local hospital is transitioning to a new electronic medical records system, so my co-workers and I comb through old records looking for dates of procedures, etc that need to be transferred to the new system. It sounds boring, I know, but it can be surprisingly absorbing to read through people's medical records. Also, I love getting paid, and this is the best hourly rate I've made since we moved here (although still not quite as much as I was making in NC before we moved here twenty-five years ago).

4. I've been singing in a community choir this year. I've sung in choirs all my life, but usually church choirs. This choir, Valley Voices, works off a semester schedule, so we practice for three-ish months and then have a concert. There are no intermediate concerts, just one big one at the end (well, actually two, because we perform Saturday night and Sunday afternoon). The downside is that we were practicing Christmas music back in September when I was definitely not in the mood. The upside is that we can tackle difficult music because we have enough time to work on it. The concerts are this weekend and I'm looking forward to them. If you're local, look us up on Facebook.

(I know some of you are never going to appreciate superhero movies, and if that's you, skip the rest of this and see you next week, because not one, not two, but THREE of my things this week are about superhero movies.) 

5. The Thor-Loki movies are definitely my favorites of the so-called Marvel universe, so in preparation for Thor: Ragnarok we went back and watched the first two Thor movies and the first two Avenger movies. The first Thor movie and the first Avenger movie were better than I remembered, and the second of each was worse than I remembered. There are two reasons I love the Thor movies: Idris Elba and Tom Hiddleston. I'm not usually one to root for the bad guy, but Tom Hiddleston is just so good as Loki.

6. Then we finally went to see Thor: Ragnarok. I assiduously avoided spoilers and reviews (having been told by a friend to do so), so we went in without knowing what it was about--although I did know that Ragnarok is the Norse version of the apocalypse, more or less. I had no idea that Cate Blanchett was in it, for example. So the best part was that it kept surprising me. The second Avengers was kind of a yawner, honestly, especially when it's the fourth Marvel movie you've watched in a week, so it was a bit of a relief that Ragnarok was so much fun. The humor was good, but maybe a bit overdone. And I do wonder how they're going to play the changes they made to Hulk's character in future movies. But other than that, I loved it. I didn't miss Natalie Portman (to my surprise). In fact, if it weren't that I was a bit disappointed by the ending, I'd say they knocked it out of the park. SLIGHT SPOILER COMING-- skip ahead now if you want-- I really thought Thor was going to step aside at the end and let Valkyrie take the throne. That would have made it just about perfect. I don't know anything about the original comics, though, so maybe that's just too far out there.

7.  It occurred to me that Ragnarok is actually a pretty decent movie about post-colonialism (colonialism being a catch-all term for the period in world history when all the major powers believed they had a God-given right to rape and pillage indigenous societies as they spread their empires). When Hela talks about how the wealth of Asgard is based on destroying cultures throughout the nine realms, she's saying words that could be said by the rulers of Spain or England or Portugal, or the United States if you look at it from the perspective of the Indians. This could be an entire series of posts, but maybe I'll stop there since I'm not nearly smart enough for that. But it definitely adds a layer of self-awareness to this movie that wasn't there in the others. So, bottom line: all thumbs up from our house.

Have a great weekend. I'm headed to Texas next week to spend some time with my mom who had surgery this past week, so you probably won't hear anything from me for awhile.

Two years ago on To Square a Circle: Re-Thinking Self Care. Four years ago on Aunt BeaN's Third Blog: Odds and Ends, because it's too cold to do anything else. (I'm shamelessly stealing this idea to link to old posts from Modern Mrs Darcy.)

Friday, December 1, 2017

moderates in the middle

(The original version of this post was written back in May and has been in my drafts folder waiting for me to decide if I want to start blogging again. Maybe I do.)

I will be forever grateful that I was not blogging during the end of the election season last year, or during the first few months of the new administration. I've heard the same from other bloggers-- absolutely the last thing most of us want is to wade into the fray, but how can you not talk about it? It feels like ignoring the largest elephant ever in a teeny tiny room if you don't talk about it, but what in the world do I have to say that hasn't already been said?

I'm starting to think the real political divide in this country isn't between liberals and conservatives, it's between moderates and extremists. By moderates I mean those of us on either side who want to stop yelling at each other and get on with the business of life and governing. Those of us who would be happy to compromise on some issues in order to get something done, those of us who care less about ideals than living in a functional world. We've been completely drowned out by the people with the finger pointing and the hyper sensitivity and the insistence that our way is The Right Way.

I suspect that moderate Democrats have more in common with moderate Republicans than they do with the extremists in their own party. But there are only about eight moderates left in the entire country, so we don't have much of a voice.

I'm not happy about Trump. I've disliked him since he was a preening, self-important playboy back in the 90s, before he had political ambitions, when he was already insulting women at every turn. I didn't vote for him, I wouldn't vote for him now if I had the chance to do it over, and I don't think he's doing a good job.

But I do have a great deal of respect for responsible, intelligent conservatism, especially the fiscal conservatives who are socially progressive. All the yelling and the outrage and the fury-- it's just feeding the problem, if you ask me, which of course you didn't. I suspect that when Fox News or Breitbart get the liberals riled up, they just sit back and smile. See? Toldja they were just a bunch of hysterical, whining babies. We must be doing something right if we're pissing them off.

We're not convincing them that they're wrong, we're just proving their point about how uncooperative liberals are. I've talked to conservatives who are unhappy with Trump, but I haven't talked to a single one who wishes they'd voted for Hilary. We are not changing their minds. If our goal is to start winning elections, we've got to win some of them over, and it's not going to happen unless we stop having such a short fuse and instantly leaping to criticize the smallest move the Republicans make.

I remember once back when Dean and I were in marriage counseling, we kept re-defining the same problems, reiterating how we disagreed, re-analyzing what the issues were. At one point the counselor said, OK, you're always going to disagree about this. At some point, if you're not getting a divorce, you've got to just move on.

Yeah. We're all still here, living in this country. At some point, we've got to just move on.

So I'm just going along, doing my thing, protesting in ways that seem helpful to me, expressing my opinion as calmly as I can, and biding my time until the next time I have a chance to vote. Sometimes when faced with homophobia or misogyny or racism, we have to plant our feet and not back down (like Charlottesville, and there are a whole lot of Republicans who agree). But Charlottesville aside, we also need to be careful we're not fanning the flames.

I've seen moderates get shredded on Twitter and elsewhere for being naive and unaware of how difficult our problems are. So maybe I am, but six months after I originally wrote this post, this is still how I feel, and moderates get to have freedom of speech, too.

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

I'll Have the Lime Juice, or 15 Things About Traveling in Cambodia

We've just returned from two weeks in Cambodia, and helpful sort that I am, I thought I'd type out some info for others planning a trip. This is the stuff I wish I'd known about vacationing in Cambodia. We flew into Siem Reap and divided our time between there and Battambang, so we did not visit Phnom Penh or the beaches.

1. To state the obvious: oh my word is it hot and humid, and there's not always A/C. Of course if you live in South Florida this probably will not bother you, but we are wimpy northerners. We were like limp rags by late afternoon. We were there in early November, which is the beginning of the dry season, but we did have some rain. It was way too hot to wear a rain jacket (I carted one halfway around the globe and could easily have done without), but I did appreciate my rain/sun hat.

2. Not to be missed: Angkor Wat, of course. The Angkor National History Museum in Siem Reap. The night market in Siem Reap (also open during the day, it's just fun to go at night). The bats in Battambang-- over a million bats fly out of their cave at sunset every single night. Go mid-afternoon if you want to hike up the hill to the Buddhist temple and the disturbing memorial to the Cambodian killing fields. (The famous bamboo railroad in Battambang was closed for renovations when we were there.)

3. Go to Angkor Wat early in your trip. We went on our very last day and I wish we'd gone earlier. By the last day, we were tired, and our attention had shifted to the details of our travel. It's always an amazing place no matter when you go, but you'll probably have more energy to appreciate it early on.

4. Also, Angkor Wat is crowded. Far more crowded than we were expecting, with dozens of busloads of (mostly Asian) tourists. Entry is $37/person (plus the cost of your tuk tuk), which to our Disney-jaded American eyes is a perfectly reasonable fee for a global treasure, but there was some grumbling from those who had been when it was cheaper.  "Angkor Wat" describes a temple complex spread over 40 km, not just the iconic main building, so your visit can last anywhere from a half-day to several days. My favorite was the Banyon Temple at Angkor Thom, Dean's favorite was Ta Prohm.

5. Cambodians are friendly, capable people. They are quite poor by American standards, but not at all pitiful or downtrodden. They are doing just fine. Also, there were very few beggars (in two weeks, I saw maybe five), and there is very little homelessness.

6. Not even Cambodians drink the tap water, so be careful about that. Most hotels provide bottled water in your room, and more can be purchased cheaply in the lobby or at almost any store you pass. Most restaurants serve filtered water, or you can order bottled water, but we did not eat any salad or uncooked vegetables, which were probably washed in tap water, on the advice of our hosts.

7. I was not sorry I had a half-roll of toilet paper in a ziplock stashed in the bottom of my backpack. Ditto for having a bandana handy for hand drying.

8. There is wifi at many restaurants and cafes, and our hotel had great wifi (better than our wifi at home). There was cell service pretty much everywhere. I got a Cambodian SIM card (which gives you a Cambodian phone number, and disables your stateside number for the duration) and a code for 100 minutes of use, and my phone functioned pretty much like it does at home. If you don't get a SIM card your phone will probably only work when you have wifi. We used What's App when we were connected to wireless to stay in touch with our kids.

9. By American standards, traffic is a chaotic mess-- lanes are fluid, stop signs are just there for decoration, the traffic patterns at major intersections are often confusing. But that's to our eyes. After you've been there awhile, you realize there is a graceful, dance-like flow to the traffic. Cambodians are friendly, patient drivers, rarely topping 35 mph, often smiling with good humor when they have to adjust course around you.

10. Cambodians mostly drive "motos," small motorcyles, sometimes piling an adult or two and a couple of kids on board. Tuk Tuks, the open air taxis favored by tourists, are powered by motos. We loved the tuk tuks, not least because you get a nice breeze on a hot, humid day. Riding a tuk tuk rarely costs more than a couple of dollars.

11.  Clothing: Cambodians have enough experience with tourists that they aren't going to gripe at you about your clothing (although they may turn you away from entering a temple if your shoulders or knees are bare--as they do at Angkor Wat). There were plenty of tourists, especially in Siem Reap, wearing shorts and tank tops.

But if you want to show a bit of cultural sensitivity and dress the way the Cambodians dress, Cambodian women seem to usually wear ankle-length leggings or skinny jeans and a long top or a shorter one with a longer shirt over. Moderate scoop necklines are OK but I didn't see any cleavage, bare shoulders, or bare midriffs at all in the two weeks we were there, and only very rarely bare knees. Even when seated, women's knees are covered (usually by leggings). Cambodian men mostly wear pants, but there were enough men wearing knee-length shorts that they seem acceptable. No tank tops, though (among men or women).

12. Whenever you have the chance, order the "lime juice"-- made-while-you-wait iced limeade. It is fabulous, especially when you are hot, sticky, and tired. In Siem Reap it was sometimes called "Cambodian lemonade" or similar, but in Battambang, it was just called lime juice, and they had it in most restaurants.

13. By the end of your stay, you will start thinking it is highway robbery to pay more than $10 for a meal. The food is an unbelievable bargain. One time, five of us had dinner with entrees, a couple of side dishes, five beers and a glass of wine for $21 (total, for all five of us). Green curry chicken is pretty reliable, as is "lok lak," beef in a mild sauce served over rice with a fried egg. And you can always order fried rice or spring rolls if nothing else appeals. Tipping is not common, you usually just round up or leave an extra dollar or two. We were told that in some (most?) places, tip money doesn't go to the wait staff, it goes to the owner.

14. In both Siem Reap and Battambang, it's common to pay with American dollars. If you need change, you'll usually get it in Cambodian reals. The going rate is 1,000 reals = a quarter. It doesn't hurt to bring a stack of $1 and $5 bills, although banks will change your larger bills if you need it. Some places in Siem Reap would take credit cards (including the larger merchants in the Old Market), but the only place we could pay with credit cards in Battambang was the hotel.

15. Thank you is "ar-koon," or "al-cone," or "ar-gun." Everyone seems to pronounce it slightly differently, but everyone also really appreciates that you tried. The "r" sound is almost an "l", the "k" sound is almost a "g", and the "oo" sound is almost a short "u". Start with "ar-koon" and see how it goes.

And an extra, which doesn't really have anything to do with Cambodia but it was news to me: how come I never knew about activated charcoal before? I read about it in the Rough Guide to Cambodia, so I grabbed a bottle at WalMart before we left, and it is miraculous. You take a capsule or two when you have an upset stomach and half an hour later you feel waaaaay better. I'm not sure if it would work if you had full-on food poisoning, but if you've just eaten something that disagrees with you, it's great.

I hope you get to go. We had a great trip, Cambodia is a lovely country.

Monday, September 12, 2016

you have to start small, like oak trees.

I love a good road trip, always have. One of the main reasons I love them is because you have time to think. We've been so busy for the past few months that I got behind on my thinking. So when the opportunity came to drive to Seattle last week to retrieve PellMel, I jumped at the chance. Really, she could have driven herself, but I wanted to do it. Two of my dearest friends live in Seattle, for one thing, and there's all that time in the car.

It was a lot of fun. PellMel and I had a great time bopping around downtown Seattle, we had some great food, we had lots of fun with our friends Laurel and Kami. But also, thankfully, I had lots of time to think.

And you know what I realized? Almost like a voice said it in my head: I am done blogging.

I think I've known it for awhile, but I'm a stubborn person, and I didn't want to be a quitter. This blog has never really taken off, and I didn't want to give up on it.

My previous, more successful blog was fairly anonymous, but this one is not. And one of the things that happens when you tell people you have a blog is that you start getting feedback. Most people are completely uninterested--in fact, they look slightly panicked when you tell them you have a blog, because you might expect them to actually read the thing. And then there are the few, my beloved readers--you--who are supportive, and make it all worthwhile.

But there is also a third group, whose voices sometimes sound loudest in my head, who react with criticism or disdain, or who are so stunned and surprised that it's a little insulting, or who can't understand why I think anyone would want to read something I'd written. Or the woman who said with great warmth and kindness, "I remember when I used to have time to do things like that." She didn't pat me on the head, so there's that.

And those responses made me stubborn. Even though I've wanted to quit several times over the past few months, I didn't want to prove the negative people right. I didn't want this blog to fail. So I kept going.

Finally, when I had the time to think these past few days, I realized that I can't let the naysayers make my decision for me. If I'm done, I'm done. Maybe after more than a dozen years of blogging (my first post was in December of 2003), it's time to move on.

So *hiccup* this might be my last real post (see postscript below). It's possible this is a temporary decision, but at the moment, I'm pretty sure it will be permanent. I had three or four posts planned for the next couple of weeks, but once the idea of stopping took hold, it seemed kind of pointless to continue. 

I am forever grateful to those of you who have followed along. Hugs and love and happy trails.

p.s. There may be one more post after this one--when I have time to put it together-- with links to the posts from this blog that I think are worth reading, sort of like an index, but it won't have anything new. So if you're subscribed, you can safely unsubscribe without missing anything.

p.p.s. the post title is from the end of The Wee Free Men by Terry Pratchett. It seemed better to end by looking forward.

Friday, September 2, 2016

7ToF: the bird has flown the coop

1. I was a sobbing mess while we were packing up MadMax's stuff. It was ridiculous. Even for a devoted mom, it was excessive. I managed to do it mostly in private and not in front of poor Max, but still. I put the T in INTJ, you know. I hate emotional messiness. Ugh.

2. But you know what? The actual drop-off wasn't that bad-- I mean, in terms of me holding it together. There's so much excitement, and the school he chose did a great job of making 3,000+ freshmen and their families feel welcomed and cared for. Once he gets things figured out he's going to be fine. And I'm positive that he's going to miss his dog more than he misses us.

3. Now that we're back home, I think I'm having an easier time adjusting than Dean is. Dean and MadMax share many of the same interests, so he lost one of his best buds. On the other hand, I'm discovering that having MadMax out of the house means that there's considerably less laundry, and "his" bathroom (the only bathroom on the main floor of our house) stays clean. Not that I cleaned it all that often, mind you, but I don't have to walk in there after an adult has used it and realize that I let an unarmed, unwarned innocent go into an oversized petri dish. I think I'm already through the worst of it. Plus, we text just about every day and he's already called once. We'll be fine.

4. Random observation of the week: Chickens don't like bell peppers. Who knew?

5. I don't think I have any male readers at the moment so let's talk shopping. Is there anything worse than bra shopping? (as I type that, I realize that yes, there is, and it's swimsuit shopping. But bra shopping is still pretty bad.) With all my weight gain and loss and gain and loss over the past few years, my bras have been through the wringer. I've had bra expanders and gotten rid of them and adjusted them up and down. My bras--all of which were at least six years old, and some more like eight--were in tatters. But still I resisted, because UGH.

6. Then I saw a flyer from our local dept store about their annual INTIMATES sale, and practically on impulse I found myself pulling into their parking lot. I'm not gonna lie, it was still awful. There is no amount of intimate engineering, shall we say, that is going to make me look good nekkid, and there's no avoiding looking at yourself in the mirror while you're trying on bras. I tried on at least half a dozen before I found one I liked. But I persevered, and I ended up with three. Finally bra makers must be actually listening to what women want, because once I waded through the ones I didn't like to get to the ones I did, these are the most comfortable bras I've ever worn. If you haven't bought new bras recently, give it a go.

7. I bought the book Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can't Stop Talking (by Susan Cain) not long after it came out, just to be supportive since I am a pretty major introvert. But I never got around to reading it because I thought I knew everything I need to know about being an introvert. But then I heard the author speak on a podcast (more about that nother time), and decided I should actually read what she had to say. I am loving it. I don't always agree with her, but overall it has been one helpful insight after another. I'm probably the last introvert to read this book, but if you are and you haven't, you definitely should. Great book, fascinating stuff.

SO now that I've done FIVE "seven things" posts in a row, I will try to do something else next time. But probably not next week since I'm going to Seattle. Woot! Road trip!! If you've heard a terrific audiobook recently, let me know!

Friday, August 19, 2016

7ToF: Summer reading report 2016, plus one

1. You Don't Have to Say You Love Me by Serra Manning. This British chick lit novel is just about the perfect beach read. Neve has spent the three years since the love of her life left for a job in the US losing weight, exercising, and getting her life in order. But she hasn't figured out how to be in a relationship yet, so she figures maybe she better practice before her prince Charming returns. The practicing ends up being better than what she thought was the real thing, no surprise there. I loved, loved, loved this book for 99% of it. It's funny and well-written and Neve is great. But I hated the ending more than I can say. Neve has lost well over a hundred pounds, and she's down to a size 14. She's happy and healthy and even her worst enemy tells her she looks great. So you think part of her epiphany at the end is going to be that she's awesome just the way she is. But nope, in a teary tantrum on the last few pages, she insists that by God she is going to lose that last bit of weight and get down to some mythical size that she doesn't need. I was so disappointed it almost ruined the book for me, but since you've been warned, you can just enjoy the first 99% and ignore the ending. Great read. Even with the disappointing ending, this is still a don't-miss summer read.

2. Out of the Deep I Cry by Julia Spencer-Fleming, third in the Clare Fergusson-Russ VanAlstyne series. The first book in this series (In the Bleak Midwinter) was a bit flawed, but intriguing enough that I kept picking up later books in the series when I would see them on sale or in used book stores. Then I finally got around to reading the second one, and it was remarkably disappointing. Clare, a former army helicopter pilot turned Episcopal priest, breaks a confidence in a spectacularly public way, and also she was turning into one of those annoying characters who is always right. If I hadn't already bought the other books, I probably would never have read another. I finally picked up the third one this summer and was suitably surprised. A man walks out of his house and doesn't return. Figuring out the details turns up a mystery that's gone unsolved for decades. It's a bit tricky keeping track of the dates-- the story is told in flashbacks-- but interesting mystery and Clare turns out to be not quite so irritatingly perfect in this one.

3. The Husband's Secret by Liane Moriarty. This book has over 17,000 ratings on Amazon, and I kept hearing about it. But even though I bought it a couple of years ago when the Kindle version was on sale, I never managed to get around to reading it until a couple of weeks ago. It's a curious book. Her writing style made me nuts-- frenetic, is the only way I can think to describe it, like a voluble, nervous, chatty acquaintance who can't stop talking ninety-to-nothing when you run into her at a coffee shop. There are three storylines: uptight but happily married Cecilia, who discovers that her husband has a secret (hence, you know, the title of the book); Tess, whose husband falls in love with her cousin and best friend; and Rachel, whose daughter was murdered years ago and who is haunted by the unsolved mystery of her death. However much I disliked her writing style, Moriarty is a great storyteller, and handles the complicated inter-weaving of the three stories with ease. Difficult to put down. I'm not sure I'd say I like it, but there are a number of intriguing moral dilemmas raised. I kept thinking about it for days after I put it down. Worth reading. Would be a great book club book with lots to discuss.

4. Remember I told you awhile ago that I'm usually reading a literary fiction, a genre fiction, and a non-fiction at any one time? My non-fiction book for this summer was The Making of the Atomic Bomb by Richard Rhodes. It took me several months to finish it, because the science was fairly dense, but I felt like I should understand it, so I would wade through the details. I finally started skimming over the complicated science stuff and enjoyed it much more after that. I do get the basic idea, and Dean explained a couple of other things I was mystified by, so even though I don't get every nuance of all the iterations of things they tried before they found something that worked, I think I got the message. What intrigued me was all the non-science stuff-- the stories of the interactions of the scientists and the rivalries and the history of how it all unfolded with the looming war in Europe. Well worth reading, and probably most of you would do better with the science parts than I did.

5. Let It Breathe by Tawna Fenske. Something else I told you awhile back-- I couldn't remember the last time I'd read a really good romance novel. Fenske's latest is. Really good, I mean. Reese and Clay were part of a trio of best friends in college, until Reese married (and then divorced) the third guy, and Clay went off to sober up. They've got some past issues to work through, and some current complications, but overall this was just the right mix of fun, funny, and serious. Great beach or plane read. The only false note for me was that I found her supposedly-perfect parents to be nauseating and irritating rather than enviable. But that's only a minor part of the story, this one is definitely worth reading.

6. Kitchens of the Great Midwest by J. Ryan Stradal. Something about the cover of this one caught my eye at the library and I grabbed it. But I almost put it down after the first three pages. Oh, no, I thought. I'm not reading another foodie novel where ever-more perfect taste is exhibited in inflated language about food and every chapter has a recipe. But by the end of the first chapter, something had hooked me and I kept going. Kitchens is really a series of short stories, all revolving around Eva Thorvald, a pure soul and gifted chef. Only one story has Eva as the main character, she is just another character of varying importance in the others. There is a touch of magical realism (an unborn child communicates with his mother via text messages, for example), a lot of beautifully worded sentences, occasional sharp bursts of humor, and an interesting mix of criticism-of/homage-to foodie culture. Eva has become a little too perfect by the end, and one of the stories (the one about Pat) didn't really find its heart until two thirds of the way through, but other than that, there's not a false note anywhere. Loved it. Highly recommended.

7. So I could make this a perfect seven, but even though I read another half dozen books this summer, none of them seem worth reporting here. So I will tell you we went to see the new Star Trek movie last night. We are long time Star Trek fans-- we bonded over watching ST reruns in the dorm TV room back in the 80s-- and we have loved the new movies with Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, and Carl Urban as Kirk, Spock, and Bones. This one was fun and had some great moments--and it more than accomplished its purpose of distracting us from a hot, grumpy August night. At one point we were laughing so hard that we were probably irritating the heck out of our neighbors. But the thing is, I'm not sure we were meant to be laughing. This one isn't nearly up to the standards of the first two. If you're a Trek fan, you're long used to the uneven quality of the different iterations, so no problem there. I wouldn't have missed it for the world, and we'll probably get it when it comes out on DVD and watch it again, but I have to admit I was a bit disappointed-- a disappointment that was very nearly redeemed by several classic ST moments.

That's it. Have a great weekend. The great college drop-off is next week and I have a few other things going on, so I probably won't post again until after Labor Day, but you never know.

Friday, August 12, 2016

7ToF: Two in a row, but there's lots to catch up on

1. I really did mean to post this earlier in the week, but I'm in my biannual Olympics coma and only the bare basics are getting done around here. and oh my word: they cry, I cry. Ally at the end of her floor routine, Simone when she finally got her winning score, Michael Phelps during the national anthem for his TWENTY-SIXTH medal, I feel like I've spent the last several days wiping away tears.

2. You know how the women gymnasts used to be these cute, pony-tailed little things bopping around the events? I loved to watch them, but they were mainly just cute. Not any more. Did you see them? They were incredible! Those are some formidable athletes. They do things that make my jaw drop. Wow. Even the jaded boys at my house have been impressed.

3. The other reason I didn't get this post done earlier is that I tweaked my neck, and that means migraines. I was doing so much better-- I filled my monthly Maxalt prescription in January, and then didn't fill it again until right before we left on our trip in June-- which (was) astonishingly, amazingly wonderful. Now I've had six migraines in the last ten days. Thank God for excellent pharmaceuticals. (It's better already.)

4. Remember I told you how miraculous it was that we had seven free-range chickens and a fox living practically next door? Yeah. Well, we now have six chickens and the miracle is over. If it hadn't been for our brave neighbor who came over and intervened, we'd be down a lot more than one chicken. The remaining ladies are already back to free-ranging. They seemed content to be shut in the coop for a day or two, but after that, they quite emphatically wanted to roam free again. It's been about a month and we're still holding at six chickens. We'll see.

5. Favorite website of the week: reuseit.com.  If you haven't been to Reuseit yet, it has everything you can think of that is reusable-- shopping bags, lunch boxes, dust cloths, paper towel replacements, water bottles, bento boxes, everything. I've mainly used it for their tan canvas shopping bags, which hold about as much as four of those plastic grocery store bags and last forever. I've had my original set for years now and I just keep buying more. Also love Baggu bags, which roll up small enough to keep in my purse, and come in great designs.

6. The Great Chocolate Chip Cookie Debate: are you a chocolate chocolate chip cookie lover? or a cookie chocolate chip cookie lover? (or neither, I suppose, but if that's the case you can go on to the next Thing.) Some people think that the cookie part of a chocolate chip cookie is just there to convey as much chocolate as possible to your mouth. I personally like lots of cookie and not so much chocolate. I think I'm in the minority, because most current recipes are designed around getting more chips and bigger chips into your cookie, but I quickly get to chocolate overload in a cookie. I've started making mine with mini- chips so they don't overwhelm the dough, but that's not quite right either. I suppose I'll have to take one for the team and continue to experiment until I get the perfect recipe. And then I will let you know.

See, these are the things I can lose sleep over. And you wondered why I haven't been posting.

7. We had VBS at our church this week, so I (don't laugh) signed up to help with crafts. Which is like those Lindsey Vonn commercials where a winter Olympian is trying to do the summer sports. I am not crafty. But no one else had volunteered, and I can organize and buy things at Michael's, so I figured it would work out. And it did. Oh my Lord, we had the greatest group of kids. They took our half-assed craft ideas and ran with them. Yesterday we had a competition to see which group of kids could create the longest paper chain-- you know, those loops of paper connected together, like pre-schoolers make at Christmas (it was loosely connected to that day's story). I thought they were going to be bored to death, but they were ALL IN. One of the leaders was counting down the time at the end and you would have thought they were racing to build the ark before the rain started. It was so much fun. The winning chain was about 40 feet long.

7a. Excellent lyric from new Miranda Lambert song: If you need me, I'll be where my reputation don't precede me.... Hmmmm, maybe you have to hear the song. That didn't translate so well.

7b. And I haven't even told you about going to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter yet!! The downside of not posting all summer is that there's too much to tell you. Bottom line: if you love Harry Potter, you really should go sometime, it was fabulous and butter beer (non-alcoholic) is just as good as you hoped it would be. This could be an entire post, but I'm not sure if anyone's interested. Let me know. One thing: we bought the "front of the line pass" so we could cut to the front of the line, which was obscenely expensive and --I'm telling you-- not worth the money. (It seemed like a good idea at the time.) If you get your ticket online, you can enter the park an hour early, and since HP is only a small part of the park, you can be done and out of there before it gets crowded. Before 11 a.m., there were no lines longer than about 15 minutes. I loved it, but I did not love the crowds in the afternoon. Go early and leave early.

And there's more. But this is already far too long and I suspect you have other things to do than sit and read my drivel. Eventually I will get caught up (summer reading report next week) and then I do have some interesting things to discuss. That part might not start until after we get MadMax off and we are officially empty nesters. Have a great weekend.