Something interesting happened in the life of the leek I sliced for soup tonight.
It’s the time of year when I pore over the log of books I’ve read since last January. I will definitely be adding to my cumulative list of favorites:
The Year of the Dog, an autobiographical novel by Grace Lin (2006), and by extension its sequels The Year of the Rat (2007) and Dumpling Days (2012). The author is within a few years of my age, and it really brought back the feel of a 1970s childhood in a mostly-white town. (With a perspective outside the white-kid one I had.)
One of the lovely things about this series is that the main character and her best friend are based on the author and real-life friend Alvina Ling, now an editor of kids’ books! They are still friends and even have a podcast together where they catch up on each other’s lives and talk about current topics in kidlit. I like to have it on while I’m doing routine work stuff– a very satisfying parasocial relationship.
I also read a couple of Grace Lin’s picture books this year, including one with a Year of the Dog connection that I won’t spoil, but haven’t yet read Where the Mountain Meets the Moon and its sequels. I’d like to do that in 2022.
1. What is your favorite carnival ride?
I’ve never been on a carnival ride I didn’t like, except for the sad time I accidentally chose a carousel horse that didn’t go up and down. For a favorite ride, I’d pick something swooping that also gives a good visual of the carnival for bright nostalgic feelings– like the swings that circle and get more horizontal as they go faster, or the octopus ride.
2. What is your favorite thing to do outside?
Weather permitting, play in a river deep enough to float in but shallow enough to get my feet under me, on a hot sunny day. Birdwatching and looking at trees, clouds (if any), and rocks are also an important part of this experience. Ideally includes reading and napping on the bank between dips.
3. What is your favorite household chore?
The best part of laundry is snapping and folding the clean pillowcases.
The best part of doing dishes is washing plates.
The best part of sweeping is the porch steps.
4. What is something that you always have with you?
5. If you could visit any single city in the world (that you have not visited before), where would you go?
Tokyo! I am fully expecting overwhelm and perhaps liking another Japanese city or town better once I’ve been there. But Tokyo is likely to be where I succeed at a basic human interaction, train trip, or convenience store purchase in Japan, and that will be heady indeed.
I recommend Deluxe Yurt #17 at Umpqua Lighthouse State Park. The picnic table overlooks a small lake.
The foghorn at the lighthouse up the road sounds every 30 seconds or so. “Deluxe” means there is a bathroom! with a shower! and fridge and microwave and dvd player and also a little electric “barbecue” on the porch that dings like a toaster oven. As always, I seriously wondered by the time we left for vacation whether all the packing and arrangements were worth it: there’s something about bringing all your own bedding and kitchen gear that is just a LOT. But as always, I concluded afterward, yes, worth it.
My vacation reading was David Yoon’s Version Zero, which started out great and held my attention but disappointed by the end, and Robin Stevens’ A Spoonful of Murder— the Wells & Wong mystery I’d been saving, which did not disappoint. When I got home I had an urge to reread Betsy’s Wedding, and got it from the library. I prioritize these rereading cravings like they’re some kind of nutrient deficiency. All better now.
Trying to shift my schedule a little earlier and go for a walk in the morning. Yesterday: a real garden bed. Sang gently tried turning the bed knobs, just in case, but no go.
Today’s walk was rainy; I listened to Detransition, Baby. Although they’re not the main attraction, there are slapstick moments that slay me. I’m going to listen to more tonight while I cook lunches for the week.
Yesterday morning I got my first Covid-19 vaccine dose at the local Walgreens. The setup was not a well-oiled machine like the mass vaccination site as described by sanguinity; it was the regular Walgreens pharmacy experience with a few extra folding chairs at the ends of the aisles. After my shot there was no 15-minute holding pen– I was told to walk around the store for 15 minutes before taking off. I read terrible greeting cards and bought some leftover peeps at 50% off. I’ve had no side effects except a sore arm like I get after a flu shot. It’s all very ordinary for being so extraordinary.
Rabbit rabbit! No actual rabbits pictured; this is my customary photo of our nearest neighborhood park on New Year’s Day. Cloudy and mild today.
Last night Sanguinity and I went out to the street at midnight to look at some of the fireworks we were hearing in the blocks around us. Then I could hear Canada geese overhead too. I hope they were able to resettle quickly.
One of the reasons I resist New Year’s resolutions is that I tend that way anyway and am in the middle of a bunch of campaigns:
- WaniKani to learn Japanese kanji and vocabulary, using spaced repetition “flashcards.” I know about 200 kanji now, and am on level 14 of 60. I got overwhelmed awhile ago and started over, and am just now passing the point where I stopped before. I will celebrate with sushi for sanguinity and me when I reach level 15.
- Also Duolingo for Japanese, at a very slow pace but daily.
- The Million Mile Ultra Run, still working on the 10,000 mile fun run. I am currently in 64th place among active participants, with 6699 miles.
- I just started doing pushups, increasing at 10 percent each week. A very slow ramp-up since I started with two pushups. I’ve decided to handle fractions by declaring ten pushups from my knees equivalent to one from my toes.
- Still tracking books I have read, and aiming for at least 50% BIPOC authors.
- You know, blogging, on the advertised “more than monthly” schedule. :D
So adding anything because it’s January 1st, no.
We were all set for New Year’s Day good-luck food, but as it turns out the can of black-eyed peas had a 2012 expiration date and the collard greens were yellow at the top. Is this symbolic? Is the fact that we ate them and they were fine?
Now for a full weekend after this quiet holiday. Luxury.
The Twelve Days of Christmas is usually a lie I tell myself as I fail at thinking of presents and posting cards and packages and decorating and baking so that everything is in place no later than the morning of December 25th. As things slip, I go, “Christmas is really twelve days, I can send New Years cards instead,” et cetera, but then actually as of the 26th it’s over and I uncomfortably forget what I haven’t done. I hate feeling behind, and Christmas is pretty much a month of feeling behind, starting in late November.
This year I’m conducting the experiment of treating the twelve days of Christmas like it’s for real. The post office is running late anyway, and I have way more days off work after (the first day of) Christmas than before it. Today is the sixth day of Christmas. Christmas is half over, half yet to go. I’m writing “Merry Christmas!” to people (who celebrate Christmas) without waffling about sorry-it’s-late. I unwrapped my chocolate orange after dinner tonight. (Granted, I have it now because I forgot I had it on the first day of Christmas.) Mostly, I’m trying to operate in that holiday sense of time where you can do pointless fun things and there’s no list, or at least not a fixed and urgent one. We’re still in a pandemic and I think officially supposed to be gentle with ourselves when possible? so it seems like a good time to try it.
This is harder on days I’m working, did you ever notice that jobs really cut into one’s free time? but we’ll see how it goes. I’m also enjoying New Year’s being just a slightly differently flavored couple of days in the middle of Christmas, stripped of all that anxious resolution to start something off right.
This Texas Monthly piece from April has been on my mind. It reminded me of the older women I’ve known who have their hair done for years and years by the same person, or who have their routines and never use the shower or the whirlpool bath or whatever at their own houses. I feel fondness and respect for this lady’s generosity in sharing a small adventure.
(ETA: just reread the scene in Ramona and Her Father about Mrs. Swink and the tin can stilts. Same energy!)
More recently, the Yuletide collection opened! My favorite fic from the kidlit canon so far is this one:
The Queen’s Lover [authors are still anonymous]
Fandom: The President’s Daughter series, by Ellen Emerson White
F/F, General Audiences [I would rate it Teen], Beth Shulman / Meghan Powers, Best Friends, Falling in Love
The tough-as-nails dialogue expressing unshakeable love while remaining extremely cool is spot. on.
On a day when minds are on the big picture, let me tell you the best tiny thing I’ve started doing: standing up in the middle of the room when putting my shoes on or taking them off.
I read this tip on a physical therapy site and regret to say I can’t figure out which one, to give credit.
Especially with my pair of Hokas that has unstretchy collars and must be tied and untied every time, I get a few seconds of back relaxation and hamstring stretch reaching down to the laces, and a few seconds of balance practice standing on one foot at a time while getting the other foot in or out of the shoe.
I did say tiny thing! But it’s several times a day and takes essentially no extra time or motivation. In my current physical state (sound but sedentary) it’s working for me.