Sunday, October 25, 2020

Halloween goats to the rescue

Pic of the Week

Look.  At.  These.  Goats!

What's going on?

Spent most of the week in Portland!  It's always so fun to get up there and visit the ol' Woodside clan.  Goats and puzzles and plenty of time to lounge and read and recoup.  Uncle Dan tried to recruit me to work on the goat farm, and honestly I don't hate the idea...

I also got to hang out with a good friend of mine for a day. We had a blast eating too many pastries, watching movies and TV, and enjoying to cool weather.  Lots of laughs and carbs and Australian accents.  

Traveling wasn't too bad.  Everything felt relatively safe and clean.  Alaska Airlines doesn't allow anyone to fly who isn't wearing a mask, which was nice.  

Not much else going on around these parts.  Welcoming the cooler weather, tutoring the children, getting into the spirit of the season with all things pumpkin. 

What I'm watching

This was pretty good!  In a lot of ways it's just a classic remake of the original, but with some fun updates.  There are even some clever nods to the original.  I enjoyed it. 

What I'm puzzling

Monster Banquet from the Vermont Christmas Puzzle Company. 550 pieces.  Aunt Sibby is also a puzzler extraordinaire, so we worked on this one while I was in town.  

Sunday, October 18, 2020

It's a bug's life.

Pic of the Week

Just some friends I found around the house this week.  Top picture is a redback jumping spider who was chilling on my scooter yesterday morning.  He was a big guy, but they're harmless.  That caterpillar is a young tomato hornworm.  He - along with 6 of his friends - was chillin' on my tomato plant.  They've been wreaking some havoc there, so I had to forcibly remove them.  I'd like to give my little plant a chance to produce some actual tomatoes *fingers crossed*.  I also saw a smaller jumping spider chowing on a smaller caterpillar at the park earlier in the week too.  The circle of life.

What's going on?

Welp, I somehow managed to lose my other wireless earbud.  They lasted two months. This is why I bought the cheap ones.  *sigh*

Y'all, the season is upon us!  We're more than halfway through October and I carved my first jack-o-lantern in...a couple of years, I think.  It was fun!  And I think he turned out real cute:

Exciting events from this week:

I bought a paddle board!  I've rented a paddle board a few times, and every time I think, "I really enjoy this.  I should get myself a paddle board."  So I did.  Found a relatively inexpensive one from Costco and went for it.  I took it out for a spin on Friday and it was a dream.  I'm so happy about it.  :)

I signed up to start working the Democratic Voter Information hotline.  It's a hotline that's just there to provide information about where/when/how to vote. I worked one very slow shift, so I haven't really been able to answer any voter questions yet, but it still feels good to be participating in the democratic process in a helpful way. 

What I'm watching

I binged this show in 2 days.  It's so good.  Just a heads up that there's some language, but the show is so full of goodness, and kindess, and forgiveness, and it's so uplifting and heartwarming and just GOOD.  The world needs more shows like this.  If you have access to Apple TV, watch it.

Sunday, October 11, 2020

In which I make my feelings about The President clear

Pic of the Week

Just a little crafting with the roommates.  Our cheesecloth ghosts didn't turn out exactly how we imagined, but they ended up being pretty cute.  Their names are Wilbur, Judith, and Eugene.

What's going on?

We had a few days of really nice weather as a respite from the heat and it's been so lovely.  But the forecast is looking rather warm for the next little stretch.  *sigh*

Last weekend on a whim, I decided to go paddle boarding and remembered how much I really enjoy it, so I went on the Costco website and bought myself a paddle board.  The next morning I strapped it to my scooter (it's an inflatable one) and headed down to the beach.  About halfway there, it fell off my scooter, but was still attached by the bungee chords, and scraped along the asphalt for a short bit.  Put a nice hole in it before I even got a chance to use it.  Luckily Costco has a pretty wide-open return policy.  My new new paddle board should arrive this week.  *double sigh*

THEN I lost one of my wireless ear buds.  It fell out of its case in my front room and I cannot for the life of me figure out where it went.  *triple sigh*

Tutoring continues to go well.  I feel lucky I have skills and work that give me some income during the continued lockdown.  And most of my kids are really great kids.  I do have one who is a bit of a Negative Nancy, which is kind of sad to see in an 11-yr-old, but alas.  

I watched the Vice Presidential debate on Wednesday, though heaven knows why.  I already know who I'm voting for and it really did nothing but raise my blood pressure as we all yelled at the TV.  

Also, a friend shared this with me from a Facebook friend of hers, and while I'm not 100% sure where all of you stand with regards to the current administration, I wanted to respond just in case any of you were confused or unclear about my feelings on the state of our nation:
You see Trump’s arrogance, I see Trump’s confidence. You see Trump’s nationalism, I see Trump’s patriotism. You hear Trump’s unsophisticated words, I hear Trump’s honesty. You see Trump’s racism, I see Trump’s words being misconstrued and twisted by the media daily to fit their narrative. You see Trump as a Republican, I see Trump as a Patriot. You see Trump as a dictator, I see Trump as a leader. You see Trump as an Authoritarian, I see Trump as the only one willing to fight for our freedoms. You see Trump as childish, I see Trump as a fighter, unwilling to cave in to the lies. You see Trump as an unpolished politician, I see Trump as a breath of fresh air. You think Trump hates immigrants, I know Trump is married to an immigrant. You see Trump putting an end to immigration in America, I see Trump welcoming immigrants to America LEGALLY. You see Trump’s cages at the border, I see Obama’s cages at the border. You see Trump with a struggling economy, I see Trump with an amazing economy until the Democrats shut it down. You see the violence in the streets and call it “Trump’s America”, I see the violence in the streets of Democratic run cities who are refusing Trump’s help and call it “Liberal America.” You want someone more Presidential, I’m happy we have someone who finally doesn’t just talk the talk but actually walks the walk. You and I? We see things very differently.
My response?  I am saddened that you haven't learned to spot the difference between confidence (I am good at what I do) and arrogance (I am better than everyone else at what I do).  It's a subtle, but important difference, and Trump unabashedly crosses that line.  
I am saddened that you see nationalism and think it's patriotism.  I also love my country, but not at the expense of people I think "shouldn't be here." 
I don't know how you can tell if or when Trump is being honest.  I'll grant you that it probably happens. Even an broken clock is right twice a day.  But with more than 20,000 documented lies, it's more likely that anything he says is false.  
Trump's racism is equally well-documented, and you don't need the "mainstream media", as you call it, to tell you that.  And let's be clear: ignoring racism, or dismissing it, or sweeping it under the rug is a racist act as violent as any lynching, and 1,000 times more dangerous because of how innocuous it seems.  
Honestly?  I don't see Trump as a Republican.  I have too much respect for the Republicans I know to lump him in with them.  I see him as a politician of convenience.  
Trump is objectively not a dictator or an authoritarian.  Our government is set up so that we don't, and can't have a dictator.  But he cozies up to dictators and certainly has authoritarian leanings and tendencies. He has given us little doubt that he would behave as a dictator if he could.  Mercifully there are checks and balances in place so that he can't.   
I work with children and have for the better part of two decades and I can say unequivocally that Trump is childish.  The very behaviors he displays while being "a fighter, unwilling to cave to the lies," are the behaviors that when children display them, we chastise and correct them.  I and my colleagues are desperately trying - at your behest - to train those behaviors out of America's children.  
Using the phrase "a breath of fresh air" is incredibly ironic given Trump's views and policies on the environment and the measurably negative effect they're having.
When it comes to immigrants, being married to one doesn't preclude you from hating them. Trump has unabashedly shown his contempt for immigrants who are from countries or groups that he deems unworthy. And regardless of when or why the cages at the border appeared, there are children in those cages who have been separated from their families because of the Trump administration.  Passing the buck doesn't solve the problem. I am all for legal immigration because our nation was built by immigrants.  Immigrants are part of what makes America so amazing.  And we should honestly be making it easier for immigrants to live and work here and contribute to our society.  
It's true that before the pandemic rocked the foundations of our society, the economy was doing well.  But the fall of the economy has nothing to do with political parties.  It has to do with individual Americans making decisions to keep their families safe - on both sides of the aisle.  And our economy would probably be back on the upswing more than it is - thus scoring a major victory for the President in this election season - but for his complete and utter ineptitude in handling it - as essentially the entire medical and scientific community will attest to.  
Violence in the streets is not happening exclusively in cities led by Democrats.  I do not condone violence in any form.  But if we ignore and condemn the violence without looking at what's causing it - and no, the cause is not "the radical left," anger and violence are simply manifestations of fear and pain - we're missing the point.  Regardless of how you view the violence taking place, the reality is it's happening on Trump's watch, and largely because of his rhetoric.  
And you're right.  I do want someone more presidential.  Someone who uses the language of unity instead of division.  Someone who inspires confidence instead of fear and confusion.  Someone who lifts people up instead of tearing them down.  Someone who respects our global allies.  Someone who unequivocally and speedily condemns hatred in all its forms. And the thing is, there are people across the political spectrum who can do those things.  There are decent, good, hard-working Republicans you could have chosen, but instead you've chosen to rally behind an infantile bully. 
But mostly I continue to be completely flabbergasted by the fact that Christians overwhelmingly support - and not just support, but celebrate and revere - a man who in no conceivable or objective way displays, demonstrates, or embodies any quality that Christ taught us to value.  He mocks the disabled, degrades and belittles women, lashes out at perceived slights, lies, cheats, insults, brags, boasts, and divides. You've sold your birthright for a mess of pottage.
So yes, we do see things very differently, and more than anything, it makes me so incredibly sad that you see a web of lies and propaganda, but somehow don't realize that you're the one that's caught in it.

What I'm watching

I generally DO NOT like scary things.  I don't like the feeling of being scared.  Not into it.  But somehow my roommate convinced me to watch this with her.  I'm doing okay, because we sort of laugh a lot, but it's still scarier than I care for.  However, I will say that this show is incredibly well-done.  It's visually beautiful, the cinematography is top-notch, the acting is incredible, and the story is interesting. Also, as the story is revealed, it gets a little less scary - which is nice.  If you're in the mood for something festive for the season, and don't mind a little scare, this is a pretty good pick.  I've also watched Young Frankenstein, The Ghost and Mr. Chicken, and Sleepy Hollow - more fun seasonal picks. 

What I'm reading

This is essentially just a short story.  After reading it, I thought, "How on Earth did this become such an enduring part of our culture?" The author literally spends more time describing the food at a banquet than he does the actual encounter with the Headless Horseman.  But it's always fun to read an original story like this.  Highly recommended if you want a quick read for a spooky evening.  

What I'm listening to

This episode explores the idea of really listening and experience the world from someone else's point of view.  I think it's an essential conversation for our times.

What I'm puzzling

Another great thrift store find. :)

Sunday, September 27, 2020

Make him an offer he can't refuse...

Pic of the Week

Rooftop chill with a friend.  What a view.

What's going on?

I watched The Social Dilemma (highly recommend) and decided to take a break from Facebook for a minute.  I logged out on all my devices and honestly didn't really miss it.  I logged back in to check something one day and could feel my blood pressure rising within about 2 minutes, so I think I won't be checking in there much moving forward, and definitely not before the election is over.  It's too contentious with no reason.  Ya know? 

I have quite a load of tutoring students these days.  About half of them are in-person, but the company I work for has put safety guidelines in place, so if families decide to do in-person tutoring, it has to be in a shaded outdoor space and both the students and tutors are required to wear masks.  It's actually quite nice and the families I tutor for have some amazing views in their backyards.

I went to the hardware store this week to pick up some pliers so I could switch out my very old shower head, and while I was there decided to pick up a pot for a plant, but the garden center didn't have any terra cotta pots.  None.  What?  That's right.  NONE.  So weird.  Also, an animal of some kind had pooped in a tray of ground cover.  What a trip to the store.

This week in jobs I'd never imagine having - I went to an observation for what amounts to an extension of my standardized patient job, it's just that these exams are more invasive - teaching students how to give a proper testicular and prostate exam.  Such fun!  Pay's good though.

What I'm reading

Lots of moving tribues to RGB (while also fuming at the blatant hypocrisy of the Republican party in fast-tracking a replacement.  And I just keep thinking, "Hey Christians, ya know who Jesus didn't have any words for?  Gay people.  You know who he had a lot of words for?  Rich people and hypocrites." *sigh*)

What I'm watching

My roomies made a plan to watch this one as they'd never seen it, so I joined them.  I saw this one a few years ago, but didn't actually remember a lot about it.  Interesting film.  We also looked up lots of fun trivia about it.  For example, Marlon Brando wanted Don Corleone to look like a bulldog, so he stuffed his cheeks with cotton wool for his audition and then during filming he wore a mouthpiece that is now on display at a museum in Queens.

Sunday, September 20, 2020

Smoky eyes

Pic of the Week

Battle wounds from a fairly epic meltdown of a 7-yr-old this week.  Comes with the territory, I suppose.

What's going on?

We can breathe! Air quality seems to be back to normal.  I was in Utah over the weekend missed the worst of it, but there were still a couple of smoky days when I got back.  Glad things are clearing up.

Been a pretty normal week. Work, food, new cat in the apartment (not mine, but he's pretty cute).  Not doing much other than that these days what with the Pandemic and all.

Terribly saddened by the news of RGB's passing.  Her life and legacy are truly inspiring. 

This week's post is pretty light.  Not a lot going on around here.  

What I'm reading

This is a troubling look at history from the viewpoint of the people who were marginalized, enslaved, massacred, etc.  Important stuff to know, though.

Sunday, September 13, 2020

Audiobooks on road trips

Pic of the Week

Stopped for lunch in Barstow and the Arby's was only open for drive-through orders, so I had to go to the gas station next door to use the bathroom.  This was on the bathroom door and made me laugh.

What's going on?

Happy Labor Day!!!  I was going to go hiking, but when I arrived at the trail head a somewhat surly park ranger informed me that all of the trails in the area were closed due to the heat (it was, like, 80 degrees that day, but had been in the triple digits over the weekend).  Any other hike would have been at least an hour drive away and not guaranteed to be open, so I went home and washed my car instead. 

Not much else going on this week.  Work, farmer's market, getting back into an exercise routine, etc. I drove to Utah this weekend for a niece's baptism and had a grand old time.  It was really nice to get out of LA since the entire west coast is currently under a dark cloud of ash and smoke.  Not looking forward to driving back into that.  Looks like it should clear up a bit by Wednesday, though.

I got my hair cut while in Utah. (Thanks Brianna!).  My hair's been growing out for about a year and a half and it just felt like time to go short again.  Changes all around.

What I'm watching

Apparently there's some controversy around this one. The lead actress, Liu Yifei, apparently supports police brutality and oppression in Hong Kong.  Part of the film was also filmed in the region of China where the government is detaining and oppressing ethnic Muslims.  So, not great PR for this film.  But I watched it before I knew all of that.  I've heard some mixed things about the movie, but overall I really enjoyed it.  

What I'm reading

A look at mass incarceration in America.  It seems like if you read this and aren't completely infuriated, you need to check yourself and read it again.

Also saw this gem on Facebook and thought it was quite thought-provoking:

My kids are watching "Les Miserables" tonight and I can't help but think there are a lot of people who love this story and would absolutely hate everything about it if it were set in modern day.
A convict imprisoned for minor theft highlights the plight of the poor and the inequities of the justice system. A single-minded police officer whose insistence on the letter of the law creates injustice.
An impoverished woman whose #metoo moment ends with her disbelieved, cast away from society, further impoverished and forced into prostitution, where she is taken advantage of and ultimately wrung out until dead by upper class johns and the justice system.
These injustices lead to an ultimately failed riot by young people, that is nevertheless held up as an exemplar of the Kingdom of God that is coming.
Even the minor villains are small business owners who are working hard to achieve riches at the expense of the people around them.
And in all of this, the heroes, the only people who provide any help to one another:
* An ex-convict on the run from the law
* a lying churchman who extends grace
* a young rioter
* a prostitute and her child
* a homeless child (also murdered by state violence)
All of this in an unapologetically spiritual, inherently Christian story in which every prayer is answered save one: Javert's prayer that the convict be placed behind bars again.
And the thief is not transformed by prison, which makes him only more desperate, more dangerous. He is not transformed by justice. He becomes a better man, a functioning part of society because of mercy, and because he is invited into the community of faith. Love, faith, kindness, mercy. Justice and rule of law bring only injustice and death in this story.
I wonder in that world if each of us would be cast in the role of villain or hero. Food for thought.

Sunday, September 6, 2020

Am I nesting?

Pic of the Week

Teaching the kid I nanny how to do boondoggle.  The tradition continues.

What's going on?

I am officially moved in to a new apartment!  And I'm thrilled about it.  My room is cozy, my roommates are chill, and my kitchen is huge.  Also I have a bathtub now.  Albeit a tiny one.
Honestly, this week has been all about settling in.  Unpacking, organizing, hanging stuff on the walls, finding places for all my crap, cleaning, cooking, and enjoying the new digs. It's been nice to have a project to occupy my hours and keep me busy.  I'm basically done, so now it's just time to sit back and enjoy.

What I'm watching

Some language in this one, but the writing and the acting are incredible.  I'm not a huge Reese Witherspoon fan in general, but I think she's great in this.  

What I'm cooking

Peaches and Cream Puff Pastries.  My good friend Tara sent me these on Instagram and I decided to go for it.  I was NOT disappointed.  They turned out so tasty, and they were very easy to make.  Highly recommend.