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a weekend of (home) work

vjs_winter trees
What I've been reading:

Dark Destiny by MJ Putney (third in the series) YA Alternate History Fantasy Romance. This is a good series! Excellent characters in both time settings with good female characters at all levels. Nicely worked out system of magic, with the added fillip that the aristocracy looks down on the practice, creating troubles for their children who are born with the talent.

The Angel of Darkness by Caleb Carr. Long mystery set in New York, late 1800s. Good to start but getting dicey. Too much foreshadowing (doom! woe! bad things are about to happen!), and it's all a bit creepy. Nice sociological commentary on women's role in society, and the warping result of forcing people to be something they are not.

What I've been cooking:

Grilled Chicken Souvlaki, recipe from Cooks Illustrated. Brine, then marinade, for tender chicken with bright lemon flavor. Found I was completely out of oregano for the marinade. Who runs out of oregano? Substituted some Greek seasoning from Penzey's that my sister gave me. It worked out fine.

There is no better breakfast than bacon from the farmer's market and a ripe red heirloom tomato brushed with basil and salt, topped with a little mayo, and whole grain toast. Yum.

I have half a dozen ripe peaches....what shall I do with them?

What I've been listening to:

Finished Guardian of the Horizon by Elizabeth Peters. Started Lion in the Valley but miss the verbal styling of Barbara Rosenblat exceedingly. Googled Ms. Rosenblat and found she's in Orange is the New Black! Plan to start listening to Sharyn McCrumb's Ballad of Frankie Silver next. The Ballad series is pretty good as I recall.

What I've been doing:

Teaching #1 to drive. (There are no words. #whiteknuckles)

Getting back to working out regularly.

Resuming archiving old fic at AO3. I've been uploading them alphabetically. I hit a run of old, old stories today, including the first one I ever wrote and the first one I ever posted at LJ and the first one I ever posted to No Shadows Fall. AO3 went glitchy on me...it lists me as having 103 works posted, then listed works 1-102. One just isn't there, except in the totals. Shall I re-post or is it lost in some line of bits somewhere and will show up eventually? I wanted to get through the 'L's today but ran out of time.
I'm rather hoping archiving will revive the creative impulse. So far I'm just startled at how much I've written, and alternately appalled and pleased by the content.

What I've been watching:

Endeavour
is very good this season. I hope the new DVR works tonight. I'm disliking Longmire though. It's so bleak, and I hate Walt/Vic, and why doesn't anyone notice Branch is totally cracking up? I want this storyline done, and Henry back to his old self. 'It's another beautiful day at the Red Pony Bar and Continual Soiree.' There are t-shirts, did you know? Perception has been excellent. I love the framing device of Daniel's lectures to his Psych class, so metaphysical and metaphorical and on point. I missed this week's Adventure Time. *sad face*

Looking forward to the last season of Poirot.

The Killing is getting too bleak as well, although I still like all the characters and want to know what happens to them, as well as who killed Rosie Larsen. I was both relieved and cried real tears when Linden sent her teenage son Jack off to live with his father. A real Solomon's choice--she couldn't care for him properly and knew it, but it broke her heart, and mine, to see him go. It's not that I want a song-and-dance episode but it's unremitting. Doesn't help that it's set in Seattle and rain, rain, rain.

Watched an X-Files today, Season 7, Chimera. Started the next one but it had a lot of talking and #2 was persistently interruptive. Gave it up for later.

What have you all been up to?

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just a few words

ghibli_heart books
I don't even know if I can come up with five things.

1. My back is getting progressively worse. Time to call my erstwhile doctor and get an appointment in a week or so to see the nurse practioner (either the seemingly good one or the awful one I saw last time.) I keep skipping their recommendations which makes me reluctant to call.

2. Deciding whether it hurts too much to go to work. Not much doing today; mainly paperwork and annoying emails. Hmm.

3. My reporting back to camp director on bullying incidents has actually wrought some change or at least after-incident repercussions. Yay?

4. This week's Rizzoli and Isles was actually good in places. It was fun watching since it was recorded during thunderstorms and periodic brief power outages. I had three or four pieces on the DVR to patch together and I did miss bits. Did Maura kiss the new boyfriend? Damn that lightning! I think they have decided to focus on secondary characters. Suzy in Forensics is awesome and I'm enjoying Frankie's hangdog snark. No more mooning over Maura, please! Korsak is always wonderful. I want to meet his life coach. Mamma Angela is not wonderful but she had some good moments in this one. I wonder if AH really is pregnant and will take some time off? I don't pay much attention to the actors' lives. Or maybe it's just a case of 'aww, women love baby stories. let's go with it.' I gather Jane did get pregnant in the book series. Wonder how they handled it there? No Casey this episode. They really need to resolve that though I can't see how they can do it well.

5. If you like audiobooks and Amelia Peabody I can heartily recommend the HarperCollins recordings by Barbara Rosenblatt. She does everyone's voices, all different, with their respective accents from British to Egyptian to American, and all believable. It's a tour de force dramatic reading and terrifically engaging.

A-n-n-nd it's time to decide on work. The coin is hanging in the air....

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vjs_winter trees
While I rack my brain trying to think of iconic female characters from the 2000s-2010s for[personal profile] ruuger , have a book review.

The audio version of a book is a different experience than reading a book. For one thing it's hard to turn back the page and re-read something you missed (although the 15 sec retreat/advance buttons are nice in Overdrive).

Recently I finished listening to Madeleine L'Engle's And Both Were Young, a coming-of-age novel set in post-WWII Europe at a girl's school. Phillipa Hunter is the daughter of Philip Hunter, an artist who is traveling to illustrate a book about the lost children of the war. Her mother was killed in a car accident that left her with a limp and a badly injured knee. A friend of her father's, a woman who is seemingly interested in her father, recommends a boarding school for Phillipa. The day before they leave for the school, Phillipa meets a boy named Paul Laurent, on the shore of Lake Geneva outside the Chateu of Chillon.

Phillipa is initially miserable in school, but after she is given a lecture by her favorite teacher, Mademoiselle Percival about trying harder to fit in, she finds a talent for caricature and skiing help her learn to like school. Her friendship with Paul Laurent also deepens when he turns up to be staying near the school with his father, who is writing a book, while his mother, a singer, is on tour.

I liked the book. I liked Phillipa, very much. I've always liked school stories. There were nice subplots about the central importance of memory, about the difficulty of being German after WWII, about scams involving adopted refugee children. But the bulk of the story is about Phillipa. L'Engle does her usual marvelous job with her unappreciated, unhappy adolescent girl character. Paul is a little less realistic to my mind but then we don't see as much of him.

So Phillipa was bullied in school. Or was she? I'm beginning to think that my ideas about bullying are all screwed up.She was given an unflattering nickname that she hated. She was left out of everything, teased, and ridiculed. Her favorite teacher tells her that her own attitude is bringing on the teasing, that you have to expect the other girls to react that way, that she sulks when teased even when she knows the other girls are only joking. This little diatribe brought me up short. The idea that the girls are naturally going to tease, and that Phillipa's reactions are what is driving their actions, was fairly repugnant to me. I've been dealing with bullying of my younger son, a natural target in many ways. I've been working on keeping myself as his confidant, providing a safe space for him to unload; so he has someone to talk to, and also so I know what's going on. But part of me thinks he has to learn to deal with these guys. I was thinking maybe Madame Percival was right. Maybe kids are just naturally cruel and attracted to the weak and sensitive among us. Maybe what I should be cultivating in #2 is a thick skin and ability to laugh back at them.

I wish other people wanted to cultivate kindness and acceptance of others' foibles in their kids.

The second half of the book didn't ring as true to me, although it was a nice happy ending with most of the problems worked out, but not all of them. Sigh. Wish I hadn't gotten thrown off by that part of the storyline.



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R&I recap, pregnancy on teevee

warehouse_hg_brown
I'm caught up with Rizzoli and Isles and am frankly growing less and less enamoured with the pregnancy storyline. Why behind the cut.

Spoilers and ruminationsCollapse )

Pregnancy is seldom handled well on television. Unless you have a show about family, family doesn't seem to fit into episodic television very well.

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the paper of record

vjs_winter trees
I subscribe to the New York Times. I used to subscribe to the Washington Post and I need to do so again if only for the yuks. And the local news. Since all local news is gone bye-bye now.

Here's three articles/opinion pieces that raised an eyebrow yesterday (and early this morning since sleep escapes me).

Room for Debate: Should You Send Your Children to Summer Camp

Amusing tale of the Haves discussing their options. I particularly liked the part about the shared family vacation. It's like reading about the Revolutionary War; just that timely and relevant.

(I have camp guilt. And I do believe in the power of boredom. Maybe next year I'll let them just veg around the house. Or stare at a screen until their eyes start to bleed. Or not.)

The Long Wait to See a Doctor

After all that discussion prior to passage of the Affordable Care Act, about how bad other countries wait times were, and how lucky we were not to live Over There, someone thought to poll Americans on their experience with doctor wait times...

And who knew? They are really long!

(Everyone knew. At least, everyone I knew, knew. I also liked the shopping for your doctor articles. After wading through the pages of docs on your insurance company list--weeding out those who no longer accept that insurance and are not accepting new patients through innumerable phone calls, there is maybe one left. Or two if you're very lucky. Choice!)

College Debt and Home Buying

After many articles about whether there might be a connection between massive student loan debt and young people not buying their first home, or delaying the purchase, data and many graphs show.... there's no connection!

(Have not closely examined these stats. They seem suspect.)

The article comes up with a truly novel idea. Maybe not having a job, or having a job that pay too little to afford a house...affects buying a house? It's crazy, I know.

All the news that's fit to print.
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day off

vjs_winter trees
I am going to join the dog on the deck (he's sun-snoozing) and finish the YA novel I've been reading. The Clockwork Scarab: Sherlock Holmes' niece and Bram Stoker's sister join forces in the service of Queen and Country. Under the supervision of Irene Adler, agent of Princess Alexandra, they work together to solve a mystery involving opium, women's rights, and the Egyptian goddess Sekhmet. It's not as good as it sounds, though it's not bad. Also steampunk AU, did I mention that? And time travel? Plot's bit busy. I could have done without the Teen Romance aspects. Better kissing in fanfic.

I worked a full day Sunday and a couple of hours on Saturday and an hour this morning from home. So illegal compensatory day off it is.

Read, go to the gym, take a long (uninterrupted shower), invent a casserole, and read some more. There may, or may not, be ice cream.

I'm starting to feel the urge to write again, but it all comes out as Hobby Lobby/birth control rants. I need a new fandom, or a jolt from an old one.

Watching The Killing on Netflix. Somewhat disturbed at how many episodes there are. I hope they move on to another murder at some point because otherwise the length is pretty daunting. But it's compelling and I really like the main detective character, Mireille Enos is great. I'd check the synopses but the Internet is rife with spoilers for older shows. Darn it.

Listening to The Adventures of Captain Hatteras by Jules Verne on Librivox, as well as And Both Were Young by Madeleine L'Engle on Nook via Overdrive. Not at the same time! The L'Engle book I read ages ago and have forgotten almost completely. Little bits of plot swim up into my consciousness before they happen but I can't distinguish between memory and forecasting from foreshadowing. I've been jolted by some aspects of the plot and may write it out in a review. But I want to finish it first.


Allons-y! To the deck!


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They know not what they do

b5_natoth 1
When I was a little girl I had a friend named Kathy. Kathy lived in a big white house with a neat green yard. She went to the big stone church on the other side of the larger town for which our little town was a bedroom community. I was on-and-off religious as a child and particularly as a teen. I got saved I don't know how many times...it never seemed to take. My parents and paternal grandparents were members of the Masonic order, and the Eastern Star (the ladies auxiliary). These were odd clubs with a religious and historical base. Lots of liturgy and ritual. I love rituals. Everyone was very proud when I became a Rainbow Girl. Kathy was observant, as we described it in those days, which meant going to church semi-regularly on Sunday and all the holidays and attending Sunday School or the Youth Group depending on age. So was I. I asked her if she'd like to be a Rainbow Girl. She thought it would be interesting, even fun.

The adults were taken aback when I asked if she could come, if I could sponsor her for membership. No, they said. You can't. Why not? I was puzzled at first, not upset. She wouldn't be comfortable. She wouldn't be able to take the vows because of the Pope. Who's the Pope, I remember asking. They have to swear allegiance to the Pope, before everyone and everything else, even before God. Who's they, I asked. People like them, they said. The Catholics.

Kathy and I drifted apart after I told her, with extreme discomfort, that she wasn't welcome in our little club. I never felt the same about Rainbow girls after that, although I stayed involved, mainly to please my grandmother, rising in the ranks if never achieving top dog status.There were other collisions of faith with values; a friend who was Episcopalian coming to our church group and being declared 'not our type'; the youth counselor who played Beatles singles backwards to show the Devil's influence; the old friend of my father who led an evangelical congregation that spoke in  tongues, both uncomfortable and fascinating; being hounded for the $0.50 a week tithe my church didn't receive when I was having a crisis of faith; the college friend who broke up with a black boyfriend when God wrote in flaming letters on her bedroom wall that it was a no-go; my stridently atheist ex who ridiculed religion in all its varieties, in the face of our religious friends; an employee who argued there was no morality without religion while believing I was not religious; R (initially) losing out on a job because he wasn't a Christian.

Through it all I retained some respect for those who believe, even as my own faith has faltered and failed. I knew some true Christians, ones who lived the life, or did their best. I try to keep them in mind, and the better precepts of the book they claim to follow, through these trying times.

"I like your Christ. I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ."
Mahatma Gandhi

I'm tired of being told I must respect the values of people who have no respect whatsoever for my values, who deny I even have any values.

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sorry for the silence

vjs_winter trees
Things are v. bad at work. At least they are giving me lots of leeway to get things working again, but memories of my last layoff haunt me.

At least the visit home stopped the stabbing pain I was getting from grinding my teeth. #silverlinings

Shall I tell you how much I disliked How to Train a Dragon 2? So much I read news articles on my phone at the theater. Which is very rude and distracting, I know.

Dragon SpoilersCollapse )

I don't have the energy to do much of anything, and my fears and worries are manifesting as severe crankiness. So I read and sleep and drag myself to work and try not to bite off people's heads. I may be venting a bit in this space.

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random holiday is random

vjs_winter trees
And it's not even a holiday. I'm at my parents with #2, taking a break from the unremittingly horror that is work (I am beginning to write the monologue the off-screen villain will recite as he feeds me into the meat-grinder of potential unemployment) to consult with my parents over house sales, mortgages, moving expenses (U-Haul is such a viable option...does my father realize how old his children are? We'll all be moaning over our backs and knees as we pack collectibles.)
And wondering if the house will even be looked at, much less sell. I partly came to present alternate options (rent it out? keep it but winter in Florida?) and because a) I'm not at work and b) both my parents are deaf/going deaf and can no longer communicate over the phone.
But still it's been a nice couple of days.
Because Not Work.

#1 called me yesterday to tell me all about a bike accident where he and the bike did a 360 degree flip through the air, landing him flat on his back from a height, resulting only in a gash on his knee that stopped bleeding after a couple of hours (!) All I could think was 'were you wearing your helmet?' And 'doesn't this fall into the category of things you hide from your parents'? I love that we still talk at his advanced teen age but I could have done without hearing that. Especially at a distance where I can do nothing about it. Except squeak 'were you wearing your helmet!?' Like a $25 piece of plastic is a magic talisman of protection against all things.

We go back tomorrow, then it's the start of summer camp and summer job and summer schedule.

I finally watched the last ever episodes of Warehouse 13 and almost wish they hadn't bothered. The last one was kinda nice except I'm not a WH13 shipper of anyone. Well, maybe Myka/HG a little. I hated all the SyFy 'Say Good-Bye to Your Favorite Show!' internet promo stuff cause it's THEIR FAULT and they were acting like it was some kind of random unfortunate event.

I watched The Fall on Netflix because Gillian Anderson, who is an awesome blonde though I prefer her ginger. That show didn't end, did it? Is there more coming? Cause it just sort of stopped.

I'm not caught up on Longmire's new season yet. But it's so depressing. Wallander in Wyoming.

Did a re-watch of the last season of Primeval which I enjoyed much more since I wasn't spending all my time resenting the new characters who are now old friends who are missed.

The DVR is catching Rizzoli and Perception and will start recording Endeavour and I frankly don't care much. I'm still blazing through e-mysteries but slowing. The number of books on the Nook is piling up, and a few of the library books from Overdrive have returned themselves unread.

I think the summer doldrums arrived early this year.







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