Today’s travel plans are suspended due to sleet and forecasted freezing rain; not sure if they’ll resume this weekend or next. For now sanguinity and I are cozy at home, still with electricity (yay), and with a rare feeling of leisure. We started a jigsaw puzzle last night.
Since Sang and I didn’t have to go to work today, our morning walk was a few miles at Powell Butte. The best things were
- thimbleberries, a few of them ripe!
- hearing a mourning dove. I grew up hearing mourning doves in Colorado and am intensely nostalgic about them. Now I hear the collared doves that came first to my Colorado hometown and eventually to Portland; it’s good to know the mourning doves are still around.
I’m in the early stages of two library books and I don’t know which one will take:
- The Last Mapmaker, by Christina Soontornvat. I was loving the writing and the short chapters, but got interrupted reading it, and just picked it up again. I also really like the cover (illustration by Christina Chung):
- A Second Chance, by Linda Byler, who I understand is one of the only authors of Amish romances who is Amish herself? This one has renewed 49 times at the library and 50 renewals is the limit, so I need to get to it or give it up. So far it’s good and the main character is doing lots of housecleaning, which I love to read about.
I hope your summer lives are sweet.
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.
Twelve Days of Christmas, an Experiment
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.
January 1, 2020
Traditional new year’s photo of the park:
It may not look as inspiring as it has other years, featuring neither snow nor sunshine, but after the nasty cold that consumed a week of my life, I was happy to get out on a walk and see it.
I pulled together my 2019 reading list yesterday, and my favorites were all kidlit:
- Louise Erdrich’s Birchbark House series
- Robin Stevens’ Jolly Foul Play, fourth of the Wells & Wong mysteries and my favorite so far (but I’m not caught up yet)
- Sal & Gabi Break the Universe by Carlos Hernandez
- Tess of the Road by Rachel Hartman. I liked Seraphina and Shadowscale fine, but thought this was a big step up in writing and emotional complexity.
- The Parker Inheritance by Varian Johnson
- Mao and Me by Jiang Hong Chen, translated from French by Claudia Zoe Bedrick.
I read Mao and Me again, last night and this morning. It’s a picture-book memoir of the Cultural Revolution, seen through the eyes of a boy age 3 – 13. I love the art, with lots of black ink and several images together on a page.
But most of all I love how somehow amidst the big events and big emotions there is room to sit there quietly beside the author with it all. The ending is part of this:
For a number of years now I have lived abroad, but I return to China regularly to see my family. My parents have not moved. The city of my childhood has changed a lot, yet my apartment building has stayed the same and the tree in the courtyard is still there.
I don’t know if this has explained it at all, but I’m not that much of a picture book person and I haven’t been able to bring myself to take this one back to the library. (I mean, I will. There are limits on renewals. So I will, eventually, buy a copy and take this one back.)
I concluded that the alphabet is laminated and staff mark it up… but for awhile I pictured people shelving until all the letters looked weird and they forgot the alphabet and needed a cheat sheet.
Happy Labor Day! Being a little bit active in the AAUP is one of the few things I’ve done that’s felt usefully political in the Trump years—when elected representatives seem unlikely to keep or change their positions in response to my phone calls, and donations seem like a miniscule drop in the political-money ocean. Last week I sat in as an observer during bargaining; the union believes things go better when as many of the people actually affected as possible are in the room, even silently. (Even reading a book or typing away on a laptop. Donuts were also involved.)
We do interest based bargaining, so for the entire hour I was there, they were at step one of seven, framing the problem to be talked about. It’s easy to see why bargaining starts in the summer even though the contract’s not up til the end of November.
Not all chapters of AAUP are negotiating collective bargaining agreements; I enjoyed this account of guerrilla organizing by adjuncts in my hometown.
Unusual that two pieces in one week would make me think anew about dashes—
em dash compared to a semicolon in this one, as in
I thought hanging out would be great—a chance to finally see the city, just like Aunt Lillian wanted.
I thought hanging out would be great; it would be a chance to finally see the city, just like Aunt Lillian wanted.
And here, an en dash for a relation that isn’t numbers or dates or place names, like author–editor relationship or either–or, and how it differs from a hyphenated adjectival construction:
Amir was an Asian–British scholar and something of a polyglot.
Amir was an Asian-British scholar and something of a polyglot.
In the first example, with an EN DASH, Amir’s Asianness and Britishness have equal weighting. In the second, with the HYPHEN, ‘Asian’ is modifying ‘British’ and carries less weight.
Things to keep an eye out for in the wild, anyway.
Sanguinity and I flew to Colorado for my mom’s 80th birthday. Mom was unwrapping some stored picture frames and found my tiger towel, and my sister’s elephant towel! They were gifts from my aunt, but I don’t remember that– in my memory I always had this towel, or at least since I was an infant with the towel that had a pocket in the corner to make a hood. Tiger and elephant hung in the bathroom.
That’s all there is to this story. I’m excited. My towel and I, reunited!
On our anniversary last Monday, I worked in the daytime and Sang taught in the evening. It was Thursday that we finally got around to walking down the street to the Delta Cafe to celebrate.
I love the Delta’s cocktail menu. This time the lavender-and-vanilla Pink Lady called to me. I ordered it without considering whether it went well with deep-fried catfish bites and okra. It did not. I didn’t care.
The music was 100% Aretha Franklin.
We had a tipsy, romantic walk back to the house. The air was clearing out after several days of wildfire smoke. At home a new episode of Elementary was waiting for us.
Last day of spring break
Campus errands took me past a belated Holi dance party today.
On the way back, another plaza was strewn with Wilderness First Aid practice subjects, each with two or three people trying to revive them. I tried to take a photo of that too, but it Failed to Save. :-O
I’m putting the last touches on my 2017 book list– there were too many books for which I jotted down only the titles before they went back to the library. Now I’m adding in dates, noting whatever impressions of them remain in my head, and finding their place in the list. Next year, I mean this year, I’m going to try a spreadsheet so it’s easier to put in order.
The first book I finished reading in 2018 is Mitali Perkins’ You Bring the Distant Near.
The writing is so assured– the characters seem real, like we’re just dipping in as the three generations live their lives. The resolutions do mostly involve romance, in a way that makes me wonder if Perkins is a Jane Austen fan. (Or maybe it’s just that Sanguinity and I watched the 1995 Sense and Sensibility last night while we waited for the new year.)
It’s been a peaceful holiday season. Christmas was with Sanguinity’s parents, which feels traditional now– eating cookies and reading Yuletide fic on the sofa-bed upstairs while televised football filters up from below. My favorite kidlit-fic this Yuletide is “Completion”, by oxfordRoulette (2106 words). It’s about Lirael from Garth Nix’s Old Kingdom series; it has domesticity and refuge, two of my favorite themes. It’s post-canon, so I did miss the Dog.
It’s been a season of good food, too– I made fudge, and Sang gave me a tofu cookbook and made ma po tofu for us. The sun has been shining. I think I’m ready for 2018. Best hopes and wishes for us all!