Monday, October 19, 2009

Furlough's over - it's a wrap!

So, the furlough is up. Went back on the clock today. Had a ton of email to wade through and still need to get re-oriented around what's been done and what's waiting for me to do something.

I had started to picture my furlough as time spent wrapped up in the cocoon of craft ideas, herb harvests, books, and my slightly-OCD to-read pile rotation. I was nestled in home life - talking mostly to the cats, a bit to J. I got out a little bit, but just for fleeting moments.

I loved it. The contemplative side of me did, anyway. And yet I felt isolated, lonely, a bit too, without my friends to hang with or other people to talk to.

I geared up for my re-entrance. I steamed a bunch of clothes to have stuff ready. I was going to barrel in on Monday am, kick butt, and make everyone so happy I was no longer gone.

*snort* yeah, right. J wanted to leave early, I didn't get the chance I wanted to write this post, and the whole morning went off wrong. I was worried about those pants w/ this shirt, so resorted to just jeans and a nice shirt, but the vestiges of my cold decided to play w/ my body temp - I wavered between chilly and sweating most of the day and so remained wrapped in my hoodie. There were several moments when, yes (I have no shame), I actually got tangled up in my own hair. The triumphant nerd who trips on the door mantle on her entrance. MAN. Shall I try again tomorrow?

It's alright. I'll just write it off that I lost coordination on furlough. Everyone knows to milk it for a few days...

Book #21 -A Scanner Darkly: A graphic novel based on the novel by Philip K. Dick. Hmmm. Trippy. And yet, while you assume the plot is somewhat known, it's as roundabout as a drug-addled debate. I did not like the depiction of the scramble-suits, but concept makes stuff interesting.

Oh, PS - So I read the essay on Sylvie and it got somewhat more interesting, but not worth re-reading. Sometimes I think people just read too much into things.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Furlough - the middle

My DSL has been spotty all week so I'm going to try to crank this out before it goes down again, but no promises.

Wednesday night I went to the Beer & Chocolate Tasting event at Tap and Mallet - a local pub that carries a wide variety of beer - and many dark ones. As a lover of "beer you can chew", the beer/ chocolate combo is quite natural to me - I love several chocolate stouts - hmmm can't think of one gone wrong so I guess I love any chocolate stout you put in front of me. I was surprised by the reaction of some people - lips curled, their body weight shifted away as if I had said something horrid. If it had been lemonade & chocolate - I learned in high school that combo is wretched, then I'd understand.
Anyways, the chocolate was exquisite - the dark beers in the pairings were quite nice (I skipped the paler beers - not my style and why spoil it?)

Thursday, I harvested the sage and most of the chives (one bunch was forgotten). This was such an odd year for the garden. Too much rain and cold to produce a lot berry-wise, flowers died fast in all the wet, too. But now I go out there and see that others took the opportunity to totally take everything over. Lemon balm is popping up where it never had before. Strawberries have infiltrated far further into the heart of the flower bed than I ever expected. Lots of clearing to do this fall/ next spring and then I'll have to keep a tighter reign next year.

Speaking of sage. I have tons. And it lasts - plus it is very rare to use more than 1 tbsp max in any meal. I have two large spice containers full of processed sage, 2 clementine boxes of dried sage to process, and a large shopping bag full of the latest. Have to think of a craft project that uses this stuff or else everyone gets a keg of it for Christmas. Thoughts?

Book #18 - Diary by Chuck Palahniuk. Pretty good. I want Sonny to read it. Some of the commentary on art school was great, though some of it got a bit long. One of those - "I would totally have seen it coming and bailed before they got me" - type books.

Book #19 - Straken by Terry Brooks. You guys know I love these books. They follow a pretty clearcut formula - a kid who doesn't think he/she is so special winds up being the only one who can save the land via the magic they didn't know they had. But it pulls you in deep real fast and you become immersed in it. The character development is great. In almost every book of these series, a character dies or comes close to dying and I cry. You wind up caring that much. Linked to the Word and the Void series in a way I haven't got to yet, the Shannara books tend to be more complex, with more plot lines running, but all well done.

Book #20 - Sylvie by Gerard de Nerval. I'm reading On Literature by Eco right now - a collection of essays & lectures. One is on this book - he opens it by gushing about how it "bowled him over" and talking about the love both he and Proust had for the short piece. He also highly recommended reading it before reading his essay. I'm thinking it's one of those stories (like "The Yellow Wallpaper" or "Turn of the Screw") that you really have to read in a critical setting - like a class or partnered with a critical evaluation to get anything out of. I read it and felt "meh". Do have to say, first book I've read on Google Books via my Touch - pretty cool that.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Furlough starts

I'm off this week, but it's my furlough, which means I have no ties to whatever company it was that they thought I worked at anyway. I came into the week with plans to get a specific set of tasks done. They may still, but it's been slow going. Mostly because I'm fighting a cold and physically need to slow myself down sometimes. I'm trying to listen to the signals so that it won't take me out entirely, and in hopes that I'll recover faster.

I may have just needed a recharge anyway.

I'm reading a lot. Cooking about the same, though I'd like to do more - may make some bread today. The basil and mint have been harvested - and if this sun persists for at least 1/2 hr more, I'll take in the chives and sage today. (I have a pic of my monster basil but the network hates me today, so that will have to be part of another blog post.) The piles in my study are slowly ... well getting more organized anyway.

Speaking of food - I had promised to post this: Devil's Food Pancakes
1 1/4c flour
1c sugar
1/2c cocoa powder
1/2tsp baking soda
1/8tsp salt
2 eggs
1 yolk
3/4c buttermilk
1/4c vegetable oil (or sub in applesauce for a tasty lo-fat version)
1tsp vanilla

Combine flour, sugar, cocoa, soda, and salt. Whisk in eggs, yolk, buttermilk, oil, & vanilla until well blended.
Drop onto griddle & cook like typical pancakes.

And, as I read, I'm accumulating a (neat) pile of books to post about. Here's a few:

Book #16 - The Secret Books of Venus I and II by Tanith Lee. Meh. I got pulled in enough that they read pretty fast, but I didn't really care. I thought the religious "fervor" elements of primary characters in the Second book quite annoying and almost all of the epilogue to that one could have been done without to save it from cheese-ball classification.

Book #17 - Lord Minimus: The extraordinary life of Britain's smallest man by Nick Page. Fascinating tale of Jeffrey Hudson, at 18 inches tall a sufferer of growth hormone deficiencies. Unfortunately, while there are many remarkable events in Jeffrey's life that are significant enough to provide the records for Page to build his tale, Jeffrey is often just a sidenote and there's not a ton of rich information. You could say that makes even a bit more the everyman-who-fell-into-the grand-life, I guess. Just wish he kept a diary or wrote letters or something. As Jeffrey was a member of Charles I's court (or more specifically Queen Henrietta Maria's), also a good primer on a time in British history that I hadn't read much about.

Monday, October 12, 2009

A quick Method promo

So, Jenny gave me a sample pack of Method cleaning products a while back. It had:
  • Hand wash
  • Dish soap
  • General purpose cleaner
  • Wood cleaner

Awesome stuff! We normally use the dish soap to wash hands in the kitchen, which always dries my skin on my palms, fingertips. The Method handwash was quite refreshing because it left a clean feeling - not greasy, but not dried out either.
First, I started using the wood cleaner to clean the shelf above our kitchen stove. The kind of spot that has sticky dust and a lot of it. The wood cleaner worked wonders. As I was up there, I looked at the walls above the shelf, and broke out the General spray. And I went a bit nuts, scrubbing all the walls. It worked great and they hadn't been tackled ... in a long time.

All in all, my kitchen is much cleaner thanks to the sample pack....