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2015_04_01-09Because the streets are still snow covered and footing treacherous, both mom and I stayed in our respective homes and welcomed in the New Year safely and sanely, she watching bowl games, I lying in my nice warm bed reading while the fat boy (see left) crammed his bulk into my armpit in a state of quivering alertness because of the brief fusillade of fireworks.

Starting tomorrow the highs are supposed to be up in the 40’s F (4-8 C) and hopefully most of the snow will melt before it snows again on Tuesday (!).  There during last week when it was so bitterly cold I turned my thermostat up to 67F (19.4C) but I turned it back down  to 65F (18.3C) Thursday once the nighttime temperatures got back up into the 20’sF (-6-4 C). My electric bill is going to be higher than giraffe’s ears.

We got off light here in the Flatlands during Winter Storm Goliath.  The news videos of the flooding and tornado damage are heartbreaking.  My mom and I have been confined to our homes by the snow and freezing weather.  Our minor inconvenience stacks up as miniscule potatoes compared to what millions of Americans are going through right now.  At least we have a roof over our heads and heat.  Thousands of people here in the US have lost pretty much everything, including loved ones, to either tornadoes or flooding or a combination of the two. Hundreds have lost their lives. We’re at the edge of Tornado Alley here, and when I look at the scenes of tornado damage in Garland and across the deep south, I can’t help but think how easily it could have been me and mine with our lives in pieces.

2015_12_28-02Snow is still shin to knee deep in places.  Nobody has done any shoveling.  In the picture at right, there are steps down to the sidewalk under there somewhere.  CJ and Jane got 10 inches of snow up in Spokane, WA.  My cousin JP and his wife live in New Mexico.  They’ve had snow, but then they’re used to it and have the equipment to deal with it.  His daughter and her husband and daughter are living in Tacoma, WA, at the moment, and they’ve gotten snow. We’ve not had any power outages here, but there have been some in other places. We don’t really have the equipment here to deal with this much snow, and the drivers here are idiots who don’t even know how to drive in rain, never mind snow.  I will have to get out Monday to get the money order to pay my rent.  Getting out of the apartment complex area may be problematic, but I’m not that far from main roads and they should be pretty clear.

2015_12_31-04 2015_12_31-03In the knitting news, I haven’t done much.  Still have half a dress to finish, and haven’t even started the booties and bonnet that go with.  I do have an afghan started in a white and pale lavender variegated yarn, but no pics of it since I’ve only gotten about an inch done.  The buttons at the waistline of the dress are just laid on top for now.  It has three buttons up the back which will be flat buttons, as these daisy buttons, although they are cuter than all get out,  have shanks and it would be very uncomfortable for the baby to have to lie on them.  I will put one on the bonnet to fasten the bonnet chinstrap.

At left is my fan and feather neck scarf.  It works the same way as this one that I gave to my mom, except it’s done in a variation of fan and feather stitch. I think this one is going to my cousin EYJ.

If it’s going to snow Tuesday, I think I’ll stay home from knitting group — assuming they even have it.  A fair percentage of the ladies in the group are in their late 60’s or older, several of them have mobility issues and/or are rather frail and have no business getting out in such weather.

Mostly what I’ve been doing in the last couple of days is reading.  I’m well into a reread of C. S. HarrisSebastian St. Cyr books (there are 10 out so far).  They are murder mysteries set in Regency England. Jane Austen meets Agatha Christie. She has a Ph.D. in European history and she’s done her homework to make the books very period acurate as well as being really good reads.  The newest book in the series comes out March 1. Her characters are complex and well-rounded. People who like Regency romances would like them, as well as historical murder mystery fans, but they’re accessible enough that anybody who enjoys a good read could pick one up and get hooked on them.

A new Foreigner book comes out in April.  That’ll be the next reread (18 books).  A new Liaden book also comes out this spring.  In the meantime, I’m pretty into the Vorkosigan books of Lois McMaster Bujold. There’s a bunch of them, and I’ve only read a couple of them.  I’m a fairly voracious reader.  The total for 2015 stands at 151 books, new and rereads.  I’ve already got one book on 2016’s list, although it was started Thursday, and I’m about halfway into another one.

2015_12_31-01-As I’ve mentioned, budgetary constraints mean I usually acquire my reading fodder as used books through Amazon.com.  I’ve found some interesting bookmarks in these “preowned” books: Actual bookmarks, scraps of paper with doodles or writing, and in the last Sebastian St. Cyr book I read, a blank customs declaration.  I’ve quite a little collection  I need to make some more paper bookmarks.  I like to do them on desktop publishing software, print them out on card stock and then “laminate” them with clear packing tape. They hold up pretty good.  I like to put writing on them, like:

“Fairy tales are more than true: not because they tell us that dragons exist, but because they tell us that dragons can be beaten.”  ― Neil Gaiman, Coraline.

and:

There are two important things to remember about surrealism: Frogs, power tools and the Lincoln Memorial

and:

Blessed are the flexible, for they will not be bent out of shape.

and that wonderful Emily Dickinson quote:

“Hope” is the thing with feathers
That perches in the soul –
And sings the tune without the words –
And never stops – at all –

I need to do a batch of book markers and then mail them to friends and family.  Most of my friends and family need book marks.  That’s a comforting thought.  What this world needs is more readers.  That’s one of the reasons I send books to my little (she’s 12!) first cousin twice removed (FCTR) who lives in Tacoma (see above).  She loves to read and I love to egg her on.

I never send her anything I haven’t already read. (Alas, some of my most favorite are not age-appropriate for a 12-year-old either because they get a bit too juicy, or because they deal with ideas and concepts that need more life experience than a 12-year-old can come up with, or because they deal with stuff that’s a little too dark, too intense or too close to the bone.)  However, I have been making a conscious effort to send her age-appropriate books which have female protagonists who have agency.

All the books I read growing up had male protagonists and reinforced “mainstream” gender stereotypes because that’s all there was to read. I didn’t care for the sorts of books women and girls were supposed to like (mostly because they were usually pretty silly, girly — reinforced gender stereotypes — and mostly the heroines had no real agency), but the only people who wrote the kind of stuff I liked to read, with only one exception, were middle-aged white heterosexual men (until Samuel Delaney came along), and all the protagonists were male, because only boys were supposed to like science fiction and fantasy, and they wouldn’t buy books with female protagonists.  It wasn’t until I was an adult and encountered C. J. Cherryh‘s, Tanith Lee’s and Anne McCaffrey’s works that I encountered female protagonists with agency.  (I can’t wait until my little FCTR is old enough for some of Cherryh’s and McCaffrey’s stuff.)

There’s a lot more gender diversity around now than there was even in the 1980’s. In fact there’s a lot more diversity of all kinds now — gender, race and sexuality, which is good.  Science fiction and fantasy make up a really big “what if” sandbox, one that has plenty of room to speculate, extrapolate, and explore ideas and concepts that cannot be addressed in “mainstream” fiction.  If any sandbox has room enough for everybody to play in, it’s this one.

Abrupt change of topic.  Just now, the fat boy, who is sleeping between my knees, stirred briefly to do a little foot grooming.  There is a lot of static electricity about because of the dry heat of the furnace, and cat hair got static-clung on his nose.  He snuffed and snorked and shook his head (and banged it on the underside of the desk), and tried to rub it off, and made it worse.  Poor guy.  I had to grab a tissue, grab his head, and “manually” remove it. Regular programming has now resumed and he is back in napland — but not for long.  Someone has been drinking hot tea all afternoon and needs to get up.

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