Sunday, May 31, 2020

If not you, who?

My dearest family and friends who are oh so white and delightsome, I can't do anything fluffy this week.  I just can't.  All I can say is please listen to voices that don't sound like yours.  Listen to stories that don't follow the same path as yours.  Listen to people who don't look like you.  Listen.  And parents, make sure your kids are seeing that gender, body type, and skin color have nothing to do with interests, aptitudes, and possibilities.  Read them books with diverse protagonists.  Let them watch shows with diverse casts.  Let them see men and women in all jobs and in positions of authority.  Make that the norm for them. Until next week, here's some information to get you started on that, or help you continue.  If you have ideas, or thoughts, or other resources, please feel free to share.

75 Things White People Can Do For Racial Justice

10 Books About Race To Read Instead Of Asking A Person Of Color To Explain Things To You

Coretta Scott King book awards


Southern Poverty Law Center

13th on Netflix.  Documentary about the unintended consequences of the the 13th ammendment.

When They See Us on Netflix.  The story of 5 young men who were wrongfully convicted of a rape in Central Park and spent years in prison because of it. 

Trevor Noah speaks very eloquently about the events of this week:

Jane Elliot: "Why are you so willing to accept it or to allow it to happen to others?"  This is perhaps the most salient question we can ask ourselves right now.  Dig deep, my friends.  We have to do better.

Sunday, May 24, 2020

What's that smell?

Pic of the week 

Cue funky smell in the kitchen.  I cleaned out the fridge, the garbage can, the disposal, my ears, all to no avail.  We finally tracked the smell to underneath the fridge.  There's a little collection tray under there that catches condensation runoff from the cooling coils.  Usually it just catches water which then evaporates off and no one is the wiser.  But sometimes stuff starts growing in there and it can smell...not good. In a stunning example of bad design, on this particular model of refrigerator, that tray is not removable, and is nearly inaccessible.  See that hole there?  That's essentially the only way to get at the tray.  On top of that, if you want to remove that metal plate to give yourself a little more room, that essentially requires disassembling the entire front of the refrigerator. And you can't see it from the picture, but once you actually get through that hole, there's only about an inch and a half of space between the top of the lip of the tray and the bottom of the refrigerator.  So I had to attach a piece of string to a rag and shove it through that hole with a Swiffer handle, then kind of wipe it around the best I could to try and clean out the gunk. (The string was there because the tray actually extends back a ways, and I wasn't sure I would be able to get the rag out with just the Swiffer handle.)  Then I soaked the rag in some alcohol and tried to wipe it down the best I could.  It was quite an adventure, but it seems to have worked. I ended the ordeal by writing a somewhat strongly-worded letter to Frigidaire.  Hopefully we won't have to deal with this again.

What's going on?

Things are starting to slowly and cautiously open back up around here.  The park by my house with the giant set of stairs that I like to run on is still closed, but the beaches are all open.  I went running on the beach yesterday and it felt great, and my calves are SO sore today.  There were lots of people out there surfing, and SO MANY people had their dogs - which is incredibly annoying because most of the beaches in LA - this one included - are not dog friendly.  And apparently no one realized there isn't an asterisk on that law that makes it non-applicable during a pandemic.  And I realize I sound like a curmudgeon when I say that, but frankly I don't care.  You decided to get a dog, so you don't get to come to this beach.  There's a dog-friendly beach 30 minutes away.  Don't be lazy. I don't want to have to watch where I step because some slothead (thanks for that gem, Grandpa Great) didn't pick up after his dog.

Rant over.

Things I miss: Watching a movie in the theater, hugging friends, going to a play, performing on stage, wandering along a crowded boardwalk, going to the grocery store for only 2 things, making plans.

Things I'm grateful for: Still having work, my stockpile of puzzles, the chance to eat better because I'm almost exclusively cooking at home, the plethora of shows available online, virtual movie nights with friends, beautiful weather, close parks, fudge brownie m&ms.

What I'm watching

She-Ra!!!  This is a Netflix reboot and it's so fun!  The transformation sequence from Adora to She-Ra is over the top and ridiculous and everything one could dream of.  It's a show about sparkles and glitter and rainbows and friendship, but also gets a little bit real.  Check it out.

What I'm reading

This was an interesting read.  It's sort of an alternative England in maybe the 1600/1700s or so.  The dominant religion has a concept called a "sin eater" who is a woman that eats foods at your funeral to take your sins from you when you die.  Though the book centers more on a kind of political plot.  Good, breezy read.  I finished it in a couple of days.  I also think it's so interesting to read things that have a strong religious component and see parallels in my own life and beliefs.   

What I'm listening to

This is one of my favorite podcasts and they're currently doing exclusively COVID-related content.  They look at the science behind it all to give you the best information/advice with experts and citations and balanced information.  This week's episode, Coronavirus: The Mask Wars,  is about masks.  Apparently the science is spotty at best about whether masks are helpful.  But I think the main takeaway is this: wear a mask, but act like you're not, i.e. wash your hands, stay at least 6 feet back, etc.  Also, check out this article that I found informative and helpful.  Mostly it just made me feel okay about not wearing a mask when I go running or cycling.

What I'm cooking

I haven't had this stuff in YEARS, but randomly got a hankering and thought I'd buy some.  Turns out it's pretty difficult to find.  But I broke down and bought a pack of four boxes online.  Worth it.

Sunday, May 17, 2020


Pic of the week 

Just some lighthearted Instagram filter fun.

What's going on?

Two different spiders - though oddly the same species - invaded my life this week: 

This is known as the audacious jumping spider (Phiddipus Audax). I did not take this picture. One appeared on the bread in my shopping cart at the grocery store (not inside the bread, just on the package, then proceeded to adventure around the shopping cart.  Luckily he didn't disappear and I was able to transfer him to a bush outside once I paid for my groceries.) The other fell on my head at the park. I am not necessarily overly-friendly toward spiders, but they also don't really scare me.  I'm happy to pick them up on a piece of paper and help them find a more convenient spot to hunt that isn't my bedroom, or a shopping cart, or my head.  Adventures!

The mayor of LA has officially extended our stay-at-home order until the end of July - at the earliest.  *sigh* I miss hanging out with friends.  What a summer it will be. 
I decided while I'm hunkering down at home that it would actually be a really good time to get back on the better nutrition train.  A lot of my personal problem with eating healthy is that I'm often out and about, so I eat out a lot, and I also like to stop in at my favorite treat places while I'm toodling about.  But since I'm mostly just at home, it's actually a lot easier to plan and eat more healthy stuff - for me.  I know this is a stressful time for a lot of people and not the best to add trying to watch what you eat, but for me it's been great!  I'm eating TONS more vegetables than I used to and I feel great!  Sunday is my cheat day and I've noticed that when I indulge in a lot of sugar on Sundays, my body isn't the happiest.  What do you know?!  I'm gonna enjoy those brownies though.

What I'm watching

This is a beautifully done series on Amazon.  It's based on series of sci-fi paintings by Simon Stรฅlenhag.  It messes with time, consciousness, alternate universes, etc.  Heads up that the pace is pretty slow, but I actually found that kind of refreshing. It's not the most amazing series ever created, but I think it explores some interesting ideas around life and humanity in a fun alternate setting. Also, the teacher in the series is a friend of mine!

What I'm reading

This is cute.  It's a collection of stories from a girl about the neighborhood she lives in.  It kind of feels like narrative poetry.  There's not really a cohesive through-line, but you get a sense of her life and family through the short snippets she shares. 

What I'm puzzling

2,000 pieces!  Many of which are just blue.  This is gonna be a fun one.  It takes up 80% of my huge desk.  ๐Ÿ˜๐Ÿ˜๐Ÿ˜

What I'm cooking

Fried Rice!  I discovered making fried rice at a home a year or so ago. For some reason it had never occurred to me to make it at home before then, but it's so easy!  And the great thing about it is that it's so versatile.  You don't have to just throw in peas and cubed carrots.  You can use literally any vegetables you have lying around!  I also used wild rice instead of white, so it was a bit healthier.  Veggies this time around were some yellow squash, mushrooms, cauliflower, fennel, and broccoli.  I sometimes throw in shrimp, if you're a meat-eater you can obviously throw in some beef or chicken.  I've also used carrots, potatoes, tomatoes, peppers, beets, radishes, sweet potatoes, butternut squash, the possibilities are really endless.

Sunday, May 10, 2020

Happy Mother's Day

Pic of the week 

California's famous poppy super bloom is happening right now!  I drove up to see them for myself.  It's the end of the bloom season, and many of the weeds have grown pretty tall, and the actual poppy reserve is closed, and it was VERY windy the day I went so the poppies were closed (they don't do well in the wind), so it was less-than-overwhelming, but I could see how it would be quite breathtaking.  It was still a really nice drive up through the mountains.

What's going on?

Happy Mothers Day to all the moms!  This year I am especially grateful for the incredible women in my life who continue to support, love, and inspire me.  I firmly believe it takes a village to raise a child.  A couple of years ago I went to see some Shakespeare in the Park here in LA.  Halfway through the show, the power went out and the stage went dark.  The actors bravely soldiered on in the darkness.  Suddenly everyone in the audience started pulling out their phones and turning on their flashlights.  Each light on its own didn't do much to help, but the combination of hundreds of lights was enough to light up the stage.  It was a beautiful and moving moment. My mom's bright influence on my life is obviously immeasurable, but so are the influences of each smaller point of light - especially since my mom is gone.  So many women continue to light up my life and help make me a better person. Thanks and love to all of you.

What I'm watching

The news around Ahmaud Aubrey's shooting.  I know a lot of people who roll their eyes at every mention of racism in America, as if it doesn't exist.  And while overtly racist actions are certainly rarer than they used to be, systemic and institutional racism - subconscious though they may be - are still rampant.  This is a perfect example.  If two black men had shot a white jogger in their neighborhood for these same reasons, they would have been arrested almost immediately.  It took four months to arrest these men and it only happened after concerted social media pressure.  Likewise, if a bunch of black people had occupied state capitols carrying guns, white people would be clutching their pearls and crying foul.  Y'all, I just want my friends to feel as safe.  We've got work to do.  You can start by going here to learn about your own implicit bias, and how it subconsciously affects how you view and interact with people.  It's pretty eye-opening.  Also, read my book rec from last week: The Warmth of Other Suns.

What I'm reading

All of these articles about the Plandemic "documentary".  It is saddening and frightening how many people I know who are giving credence to a baseless conspiracy theory.  The virus is real, and it is dangerous.  Stay home.  Wash your hands.

What I'm puzzling

This is a fun one!  It's called "Authorful puns" and contains such gems as 'Putting Out Fires' by Rex Stinguish, and 'How to Get Groovy' by Buster Moove.  It's apparently out of stock everywhere, so you may have to wait if you want to get this one for yourself.

Sunday, May 3, 2020

And suddenly it's May

Pic of the week 

It's a bit hard to make out in this picture, but what you're looking at is a bioluminescent wave.  Every once in a while we get a bloom of bioluminescent plankton here on the Southern California coast (I'm not entirely sure how often it happens, but I've lived here almost 10 years and this is the first time I've seen it).  They light up as a defense mechanism, so when a big waves crash, cue the fireworks.  Not every wave was bright blue, but when they lit up, it was honestly magical.  Adding it to my list of most beautiful things I've ever seen.  If you ever get a chance, I'd highly recommend it.  It was also nice to just get out for a little while, even though the beach and boardwalk paths were technically closed, *most* people were pretty good about keeping their distance. Here's a video of some dolphins swimming in the water just south of here and lighting it up.

What's going on?

Another week in quarantine.  Not much new to report.  I've been watching a lot of TV, continuing to sew masks, and puzzling it up!  I discovered that there is a perfect pair of trees in the park by my house where I can hang my hammock for some reading and nap time.

What I'm watching

This is the sequel to The Last Airbender and is honestly just as good as the original series. 

What I'm reading

Several people have recommended this to me and I finally got my hands on a copy. I'm only a few pages in, but this already feels like it should be required reading for every American. It's the story of the migration of black people from the south to cities in the north and west from 1916-about 1970.  Such an interesting perspective shift. 

What I'm puzzling

Birthday present from Andrew.  Gotta love that Eric Dowdle.  

What I'm cooking

Two-ingredient cookies! I'm leaning into the fact that I'm mostly eating at home and that what I eat is something I can control in this time of uncertainty, so I'm trying to be a little healthier about it.  I've done enough reading and experimenting with different nutritional plans over the years to know that giving up treats is not something that's sustainable for me.  I like treats too much.  And I'm talking REAL treats - rich bread puddings and gooey cookies and melt-in-your-mouth brownies, not stevia/almond flour substitutes.  BUT that doesn't mean I need a Levain Cookie every day, ya know?  These were a passable alternative to enjoy after dinner without breaking the calorie bank.  I read a few different recipes, but the general consensus seems to be:

1 large overripe banana mashed
1 cup of oats (most recipes recommend quick oats, but I used old-fashioned and they worked just fine)  

Mix it all up and bake at 350 for about 12 minutes.  And that's literally it!

Of course, these are just a base cookie and you could really add a million different things.  I threw in some cinnamon, vanilla, and some sugar-free chocolate chips I had laying around from when I was doing keto.  Next time I think I'll add some nuts and dried cherries.  ๐Ÿ˜‹