Celebrating The Birthday Girl

Yesterday was my mom’s 95th birthday, and she celebrated in her favorite way, with cake, good food, and a warm circle of friends.  Three couples, the K’s, the S’s and the B’s threw quite a bash for her at the K’s house.

Ever since my dad passed the day before her 90th birthday, birthdays have been a bittersweet occasion for my mom.  This one was no exception.  Sunday was the fifth anniversary of his passing.

My mom was delighted and flattered that the S’s, K’s and B’s would host a party for her, but a little trepidacious too.  The other two times that the K’s had hosted birthday parties for her at their house — her 80th and her 90th, we had had good ol’ West Texas gullywashers.   Monday dawned bright and clear, and we hoped that “third time was charmed” and we would have good weather.  Wouldn’t you know it, about two hours before the party, it rained, but then it quit.  Then once the party got started, this happened:

CK had a table set up just inside the door with a guest book for everyone to sign, a basket for any cards, and a framed invitation.  My mom had asked that there be no gifts.  (She got a couple anyway!)I thought it was a nice touch to have guests add their own personal anecdotes as to how my mom had touched their lives.  My mom is one of those lucky people who never meets a stranger and she has been such an integral part of her church and those organizations she belongs to.  Not surprisingly, her circle of friends is large and warm.

The S’s, the K’s and the B’s, the party’s hosts before the festive spread. — And of course there was cake!






It was lucious — I should be that rich!

We all sang “Happy Birthday” to the birthday girl.  That’s CK at her side.

The party was well attended despite the contrary weather and a good time was had by all!

Down The Rabbit Hole

As in Alice falling down the rabbit hole to Wonderland.  Except that the rabbit hole I keep falling down is YouTube.   Did you know there is a video game in which you choose which of a selection of baby dinosaurs you want to be and then have to find food and evade predators until you grow to be an adult?  It’s based on the prehistoric ecosystem of the Hell Creek formation and many scientists who study the flora and fauna of that era consulted on the game.  From what little I’ve seen of it, the CGI is better than the various Jurassic Park films, and a good deal more scientifically accurate.  If I had a kid, that would be the kind of video games I’d want them to play instead of those ghastly shoot-em-up games or kill-them-before-they-kill-us zombie/monster games.   I may have to get a trial download for PC just to see the graphics.

I’m telling you, rummaging about on YouTube turns up some of the most interesting things — like video of ROV exploration of the deep oceans, or those great BBC English history videos, or some lady using a pattern from the 1940’s to make a dress, or twenty years of Time Team, or people building their own houses/homesteads, how-to videos that teach you how to do practically everything,  videos  about every hand craft you can imagine, videos about every hobby you can imagine.

Just this evening, I stumbled onto the channel of a Russian woman who is evidently a naturalist of some kind who cares for (rehabilitates?) birds of prey, mostly owls.  She has an eagle owl, some smaller owls, as well as frogs, lizards, millipedes, and a cat.  Some of her videos have titles or brief explanations in English, but they’re all narrated in Russian.

I studied Russian for 18 months once upon a time, and I’m fascinated by the sound of it.  It’s been a while, but I still recognized words and phrases.  More and more comes back the longer I listen to it.   Every language has its unique sounds, its unique rhythm and meter.  Russian has oddly shaped vowels interspersed with snarls and globs of consonants (the word for “hello” has 8 consonants and only 4 vowels — здравствуйте –zdravstvuite.)  Whereas the English alphabet is derived from the Roman alphabet, the Russian alphabet is derived from the Greek alphabet, and it has more letters than ours.  Russians only need four letters to spell “borscht”  – борщ  – that last letter is pronounced “shch.” The word for “bird” is птица  (ptitsa) and both the “p” and the “t” are pronounced.  It’s an infected language like Latin, with cases and endings, and a truly mind-bending system of verbs.  It has no articles (“a/an” or “the”) and the verb “to be” has no present tense.

. . . Anyway, in one of the videos, she and three of her besties went to a lake in the country so that one of them could take a baby otter swimming.   (Baby otters are not instinctive swimmers.  They have to be taught.)  — it was on a leash the whole time.  Despite the surrounding vegetation being green, the lake water was so cold she had to put a wet suit on to go in swimming with it.  One of her other besties is a veterinarian, and there was a video about her examining two birds (with some really state of the art equipment!) — a fairly good sized owl and some sort of hawk or falcon.  The cat (named “Murloc”)  walks on a leash, too.

My hair is finally beginning to get some length to it.  It’s long enough to just barely touch the top of my shoulder and the hair across my forehead is down past my nose, i.e., if I want to see, I have to part my hair in some fashion to get it out of my eyes (the medical term for it is “growing out your bangs syndrome” and it’s a PITA).  For some strange reason, I started parting it on the right.  Then last week, I had a “DUH!” moment.

I have anisometropia, which is to say, the vision in my right eye (20/400) is very much worse than the vision in my left eye (20/40).   I have excellent vision in my right eye until about 2 feet from my head, at which point it quickly deteriorates to “what chart?”.  My left eye has fairly normal vision and I can function quite well without glasses — except I can’t drive without them. I usually read without glasses — and with just my right eye.  (The left eye just tunes out.)  Most of the time, I don’t wear my glasses in the house unless I’m at the computer or watching TV.

So, “duh!” if I part my hair on the right and don’t put a clip in it, the hair falls down over my good eye.  (It only took about three weeks for me to realize this!)  So now I’m parting my hair on the left, so if I don’t have a clip on it, the hair falls down over my right eye, which can’t see the furniture anyway.  This situation will eventually resolve itself when the front part of my hair finally gets long enough that I can pull it all back into a pony tail.  In the meantime, we are dealing with less-than-satisfactory interim solutions.   And barrettes.

My mom called a while ago and during our chitting and chatting, she informed me that she just found out that my first cousin once removed’s husband (who is in the Air Force) just made brigadier general.   She is the daughter of the cousin who drives in from New Mexico to take my mom and me to lunch ever so often., and her daughter (removed x2) is the one I send all the books to.

My “office” (and computer) is in the spare bedroom, which is carpeted.  I have most of a sheet of 3/4-inch plywood on the floor under my desk and chair with one of those heavy plastic chair mats screwed to it because not only does my chair have wheels, so does my desk.  I don’t have speakers hooked up to my desktop computer.  I have an extension cord plugged into the speaker port on the computer which is taped to the underside of the desk with packing tape with the business end just under the front edge of my desk.  I plug my ear buds into the extension cord jack.  This set-up is a hold over from my medical transcription days when I was required to use headphones for transcription because of HIPAA  privacy regulations regarding patient confidentiality.   I have a pair of speakers, but I don’t use them.  I’m just so used to putting on headphones/earbuds when I sit down at the computer.  I noticed the other day that if I I have my earbuds in and shuffle my feet across that plastic mat, I get a double earful of static electricity.  Gets your attention, I can tell you!

Gah, I hate scammers and telemarketers!!!  I’ve had four (!!!) calls just during the time I’ve been typing on this blog post.  They call to tell me they are about to deduct $299 from my bank account for some subscription unless I call their toll free number.  They call pretending to be somebody from Microsoft telling me that the license on my copy of Windows is about to expire.  They call about problems with my (nonexistent) credit card.  They call me about a problem with my social security account.*  Unfortunately, the brand of cordless phone I have on my land line doesn’t have the number blocking feature like my cell does and at any given time, about half my voicemails are from stupid scammers or telemarketers.

*Don't people realize that if the IRS, or the Social Security Administration, or any other governmental body has a problem with you, they are not going to call you on the phone? They are going to write you a letter about it and snail-mail it to you.


Some September Coolth At Last

That massive sigh of relief you heard just now was the Flatlands headed into a week of highs in the 80’s F/26+C.  This is the first time our highs have been below 90 F/32.2 C in weeks and weeks.  You will also hear my budget breathing a sigh of relief as well.  My electric bill last month was almost three times what it is in the dead of winter (gas heat), and that’s with my AC thermostat set on 80 F/26.6 C.  My mom keeps telling me it’s all the fans I run that’s driving up my electric bill, but when the AC is not on, my electric meter is barely moving.  The minute my AC kicks on, the meter starts spinning like a top.  Here’s the facts, mom:

"Whereas a 2.5-ton central air conditioner (1201-1500 sq ft) uses about 3,500 watts an hour and a window A/C unit typically uses between 500 to 1,500 watts an hour, a ceiling fan uses only 15 to 95 watts an hour depending on its size and speed."

I had been craving tuna salad with elbow macaroni for a while now, but it has been just too durn hot to cook a pot of pasta.  I’d had a package of elbows sitting out on the counter for a week waiting for the spirit to move me, and finally at about 10 p.m. Saturday night, I was moved to get out my pasta pot and cooked the whole package.  (I’ll eat the rest plain, just tossed in a drizzle of olive oil.)

The bowl I usually use when I make a batch of tuna salad is just big enough.  But when I add pasta, I have to apportion the ingredients into two bowls.   I use two cans of tuna, plus a small can of sweet peas, chop a small white onion and a couple of kosher dill spears, plus a small can of sliced black olives.  A small can of diced carrots adds some color, but I didn’t have any.  I use regular old mayonnaise to dress it.  I’ve been scarfing it down by the bowlful.

I’ve started putting the sleeves on that little baby top I’ve been making.  It already has a matching hat and I’m going to make a matching pair of booties for it once I get the sleeves done.  The original pattern doesn’t call for sleeves, but they’re easy enough to add.  Instead of binding off the sleeves, you just take those stitches off onto a piece of scrap yarn, then pick them up later.

Of course, now that my US6/4.0 mm 9-inch circular needles have been freed up, I’ve started another project, the “Kinzie Baby Top” also by Marianna Mel.   She has a gazillion free patterns for really cute baby things on Ravelry.  I think I’m going to put long sleeves on it too, but I think I’m going to do them just plain stockinette for a long sleeve tee under a short sleeve top kind of effect.

I’ve been reading the Lord John books by Diana Gabaldon, she of Outlander fame.  Lord John Grey is a secondary but key character in the Outlander books who proved so popular with fans that he got some spin-off books of his own.    I’ve read all of them but one, but that one’s in the budget for this month.  The Lord John books make reference to events in the Outlander books, and that’s frustrating to me because I want to know all the things about him!  I like her style of writing, and she tells a rouser of a tale.  I’ve about decided to suck it up and start reading all the Outlander books including rereading the Lord John books as they fall into the overall Outlander chronology. It’s going to be a question of timing, though.  Those Outlander books are freaking door stops!  If you haven’t read any of Gabaldon’s books and want to dip your toe in to test the water, try one of the Lord John books.  The novels are only about 80,000 words or less, the novellas are much shorter, as opposed to 300,000 words on average for the Outlander books.   Like I said, real door stops.  And there’s 8 of them.

Books Read in 2019

135. *Wickedly Dangerous, Blake, Deborah
134. *Seonag and the Seawolves, MacGriogar, M. Evan (short story)
133. *Lord John and the Plague of Zombies, Gabaldon, Diana
132. *Lord John and the Brotherhood of the Blade, Gabaldon, Diana
131. *Lord John and the Custom of the Army, Gabaldon, Diana
130. *Lord John and the Hand of Devils, Gabaldon, Diana
129. *Lord John and the Private Matter, Gabaldon, Diana
128. *Wolfsong, Klune, T. J.
127. *Unnatural Issue, Lackey, Mercedes
126. *Reserved for the Cat, Lackey, Mercedes
125. *The Wizard of London, Lackey, Mercedes
124. *Phoenix and Ashes, Lackey, Mercedes
123. *The Gates of Sleep, Lackey, Mercedes
122. *The Fire Rose, Lackey, Mercedes
121. *Reticence, Carriger, Gail
120. *Competence, Carriger, Gail (re-read)
119. *Imprudence, Carriger, Gail (re-read)
118. *Prudence, Carriger, Gail (re-read)
117. *Poison or Protect, Carriger, Gail (re-read)
116. *Mrs. O’Leary’s Boarding House: Aliens Only, Halsey, W. F.
115. *The Color of Magic, Pratchett, Terry (re-read)
114. Coraline, Gaiman, Neil (reread)
113. Northwest Smith, Moore, C. L.
112. Transcription, Atkinson, Kate
111. *Hither, Page, Sebastian, Cat
110. The Fifth Gender, Carriger, G. L.
109. The Wild Wood, de Lint, Charles (re-read)
108. Tales From The Inner City, Tan, Shawn
107. Good Omens, Pratchett, Terry and Gaiman, Neil (re-read)
106. *The Lightning Struck Heart, Klune, T. J.
105. *Today I Am Carey, Shoemaker, Martin L.
104. *The Corinthian, Heyer, Georgette
103. *Wanted, A Gentleman, Charles, K. J.
102. Tales From Outer Suburbia, Tan, Shaun
101. *The Man With Two Left Feet And Other Stories, Wodehouse, P. G.
100. The Arrival, Tan, Shaun (graphic novel)
99. *Hell or High Water, Cochet, Charlie
98. *Manners and Mutiny, Carriger, Gail
97. *Waistcoats and Weaponry, Carriger, Gail
96. *Curtsies and Conspiracies, Carriger, Gail
95. *Salt Magic, Skin Magic, Welch, Lee
94. *Enemies with Benefits, Martin, Annika and Chambers, Joanna
93. *Lark and Wren, Lackey, Mercedes
92. *Tribute Act, Chambers, Joanna
91. *Brat Farrar, Tey, Josephine
90. Fortune’s Favor, Lee, Sharon and Miller, Steve (novella)
89. *The Soldier’s Scoundrel, Sebastian, Cat
88. *The Lawrence Browne Affair, Sebastian, Cat
87. *The Ruin of a Rake, Sebastian, Cat
86. Shout of Honor, Lee, Sharon and Miller, Steve (novella)
85. The Little Paris Bookshop, George, Nina
84. *Brilliant Devices, Adina, Shelly
83. *Magnificent Devices, Adina, Shelly
82. *Her Own Devices, Adina, Shelly
81. *Lady of Devices, Adina, Shelly
80. *Romancing the Inventor, Carriger, Gail
79. *Cast In Honor, Sagara, Michelle
78. *Cast In Flame, Sagara, Michelle
77. *Cast In Sorrow, Sagara, Michelle
76. *A Gentleman Never Keeps Score, Sebastian, Cat
75. *Cast In Peril, Sagara, Michelle
74. *Cast In Ruin, Sagara, Michelle
73. *The Damnation Affair, Saintcrow, Lillith
72. *The Ripper Affair, Saintcrow, Lillith
71 *The Red Plague Affair, Saintcrow, Lillith
70. *The Iron Wyrm Affair, Saintcrow, Lillith
69. *The Underwater Ballroom Society, Burgis, Stephanie, editor
68. *Cast in Chaos, Sagara, Michelle
67. *It Takes Two to Tumble, Sebastian, Cat
66. *Cast in Silence, Sagara, Michelle
65. *Unnatural, Chambers, Joanna (re-read)
64. *Seasons Pass, Chambers, Joanna (reread)
63. *Enlightened, Chambers, Joanna (re-read)
62. *Beguiled, Chambers, Joanna (re-read)
61. *Provoked, Chambers, Joanna (re-read)
60. *Merry and Bright, Chambers, Joanna
59. *The Ruin of Gabriel Ashley, Chambers, Joanna
58. *Once Burned, Frost, Jeaniene
57. *Night Shift, Harris, Charlaine
56. *Day Shift, Harris, Charlaine
55. *Midnight Crossroad, Harris, Charlaine
55. *Cast in Fury, Sagara, Michelle
54. *Any Old Diamonds, Charles, K. J.
53. *Tea With the Black Dragon, MacAvoy, R. A.
52. *The Omega Objection, Carriger, G. L. (re-read)
51. *Summage Solution, Carriger, G. L. (re-read)
50. *Marine Biology, Carriger, G. L. (re-read)
49. *Threshold, Hawk, Jordan L.
48. *Widdershins, Hawk, Jordan L.
47. *Band Sinister, Charles, K. J.
46. *The Hollow of Fear, Thomas, Sherry
45. *A Conspiracy in Belgravia, Thomas, Sherry
44. *A Study in Scarlet Women, Thomas, Sherry
43. *Poison or Protect, Carriger, Gail
42. *Cast in Secret, Sagara, Michelle
41. *Cast in Moonlight, Sagara, Michelle
40. *Think of England, Charles, K. J.
39 *A Case of Possession, Charles, K. J.(reread)
38. *The Magpie Lord, Charles, K. J. (reread)
37. *A Gentleman’s Position, Charles, K. J.
36. *A Seditious Affair, Charles, K. J.
35. *Cast in Courtlight, Sagara, Michelle
34. *Cast in Shadow, Sagara, Michelle
33. *Inside Job, Willis, Connie
32. *The Tea Master and the Detective, de Bodard, Aliette
31. *Waiting on a Bright Moon, Yang, Jy.
30. *A Fashionable Indulgence, Charles, K. J.
29. *The Curious Case of the Werewolf That Wasn’t, Carriger, Gail (reread)
28. *The Parasol Protectorate: Timeless, Carriger, Gail (reread)
27. *The Parasol Protectorate: Heartless, Carriger, Gail (reread)
26. *The Parasol Protectorate: Changeless, Carriger, Gail (reread)
25. *The Parasol Protectorate: Blameless, Carriger, Gail (reread)
24. *The Parasol Protectorate: Soulless, Carriger, Gail (reread)
23. *How To Marry A Werewolf, Carriger, Gail (reread)
22. *Romancing the Werewolf, Carriger, Gail (reread)
21. *Competence (The Custard Protocol, Book 3), Carriger, Gail
20. *Imprudence (The Custard Protocol, Book 2), Carriger, Gail (reread)
19. *Prudence (The Custard Protocol, Book 1), Carriger, Gail (reread)
18. *An Unnatural Heir, Charles, K. J.
17. *His Consort, Calmes, Mary
16. *An Unnatural Vice, Charles, K. J.
15. *An Unseen Attraction, Charles, K. J.
14. Chanur’s Legacy, Cherry, C. J. (re-re-read)
13. *An Enlightenment Story: Unnatural, Chambers, Joanna
12: *An Enlightenment Story: Seasons Pass, Chambers, Joanna
11. *Enlightenment Series: Enlightened, Chambers, Joanna
10. *Enlightenment Series: Beguiled, Chambers, Joanna
9. *Enlightenment Series: Provoked, Chambers, Joanna
8. Chanur’s Homecoming, Cherryhh, C. J. (re-re-reread)
7. Chanur’s Venture, Cherryh, C. J. (re-re-reread)
6. The Kif Strike Back, Cherryh, C. J. (re-re-reread)
5. The Pride of Chanur, Cherryh, C. J. (re-re-reread)
4. Alliance Rising, Cherryh, C. J.
3. *Introducing Mr. Winterbourne, Chambers, Joanna
2. *Mr. Winterbourne’s Christmas, Chambers, Joanna
1. Merchanter’s Luck, Cherryh, C. J. (re-reread)

* Ebook