Vulcan’s Peak

Archive for the 'home' category

Catching up

January 14, 2009 4:56 pm

Well, a happy new year to you all!  Pug and I were fortunate in that we were able to spend a nice long time at home over the holidays and got to spend time with many of you!  (…she says, having only a vague idea of who might actually be reading this.)  And having been sufficiently poked about having not posted here since Halloween, here we go again!

It’s sunny and gorgeous here in the lovely southwest — cool enough to pull out jackets and maybe some sweaters, but warm enough to enjoy the outdoors.  This is great.  I love cute jackets.

Since late September, I’ve had a freelance writing/editing gig going with a company that produces vacation planning materials.  I’m still hoping for a local, full-time publishing niche to open up, but having this for the time being is very nice.  It keeps me from sitting here bored, it keeps me from getting rusty, and of course the pay is appreciated as well.

Wedding planning is moving along smoothly.  In addition to the ceremony location and the reception location, we now also have a minister and a pair of classical guitarists to play at the ceremony.  I have my dress, shoes, and veil in my closet, and Poke even has her bridesmaid dress.  (We settled on a shade of burgundy that the dressmaker decided to call “wine.”  It’s pretty.)  Next up are tux rentals and invitations, and after that, we’ll get to flowers and cake.

Pug and I are continuing our leisurely re-watch of the ever genius Babylon 5, in which we’re ready to start season 3.  We’ve also been watching the season 1 DVDs of The Big Bang Theory, which were a Christmas gift — his parents’ way of insisting that he really would enjoy it (and, of course, he does).  And one of these days I’m going to get him caught up on the current season of How I Met Your Mother.  I’m not usually much for sitcoms, but those two I like a lot.

Speaking of which, I have been “moonlighting on another blog,” as Courtney sneakily pointed out on my last post.  Courtney, my Boston roommate, has been keeping a TV review blog called Raked for about a year and a half, and I sometimes get in on the fun through ridiculously long comments on the Heroes posts and guest-blogging about How I Met Your Mother.  We enjoy it, and apparently other people out there read it too!  Amazing. I don’t use the same handles I use here, but you’d recognize me.

On the literary front, once I finished the pile of various vampire books, I moved into a category of “other people’s extra copies” — many thanks to the generosity of my friends!  I finally went back to Dune, which I  started (barely) months ago, read on the plane at Christmas time, and finally finished shortly after getting back.  It’s a neat book and I enjoyed it a great deal, but the story didn’t really start to move for me until Stilgar and his group find Paul and Jessica in the desert.  From there to the end, I was hooked.   I would ask those of you who’ve read the book, though: is it just my preference for micro over macro, or did you find Herbert’s descriptions of hand-to-hand combat more effective than his large battle scenes?  It was clear to me from the first description of training exercises in the early chapters that Herbert could write a duel, and I thought the later, higher stakes ones were captivating. Regardless, I enjoyed the subtle machinations throughout, and was very impressed by the …unique-ness of the world Herbert created.

After Dune, I flew through The Eyre Affair, a book-lover’s sci-fi mystery madness, if there ever was one!  Set in the England of an alternate universe in which the Crimean War has lasted over 130 years and French revisionists seem to be altering not just the history but the actual past, a woman named Thursday Next works for a branch of detectives who solve literary crimes and briefly gets trapped inside the story of Jane Eyre.  Hilariously good fun! I figured out the parallel between an aspect of Thursday’s life and of Jane’s well before Thursday did, which I enjoyed.  Perhaps the only weak spot in the book is that the bad guys (an unsophisticated term, but utterly appropriate) are far less intersting than the good guys.

My next read is Bleak House, by Dickens, because January seems the right time of year to read it.  (I intended to last year, but there was the whole grad school plus full-time job madness going on at the time.)  I picked up a second-hand copy a couple of years ago and it’s been calling to me to read it…  I haven’t read any Dickens except for picking up A Tale of Two Cities in high school (I’ve never even actually read A Christmas Carol) so it’s high time I started filling in some of those gaps.


January 10, 2008 12:05 am

Things I thought about doing this evening, but didn’t:
-Doing laundry.
-Cooking something new for dinner to provide a break from the leftovers from last weekend. (Don’t get me wrong, I adore leftovers and plan for them. But variety ain’t a bad thing either…)
-Finishing The Grand Tour by Patricia C. Wrede and Caroline Stevermer. Sequel to a book subtitled The Enchanted Chocolate Pot, so you see where the attraction is. At least in part — Wrede is singlehandedly responsible for some of my best-loved (and most often lent out) books in middle and high school (like these and this and this one and its sequel and even this one, which I borrowed from Elf and later found a used bookstore copy).
-Finishing two letters (Only managed one.)

Events I’ve planned to blog about in the last month, but didn’t:
-The writer’s strike.
-The rally in Harvard Square for the writers’ strike, which I didn’t take time off work to go to, but my roommate did and got to meet Joss Whedon. Actually, I did too, briefly, because he was signing stuff at a little sci-fi bookstore after the rally and was still there when I got off work. It was pretty awesome.
The Golden Compass and the brouhaha that the Christian right managed to create around it. I highly recommend the book, by the way, very highly. The movie is a pleasant enough way to spend a couple of hours but is not an acceptable substitute.
-Mitt Romney’s speech about why his religion shouldn’t matter to his presidential campaign. I didn’t see the speech, I just read about it and meant to read a transcript, but haven’t. If he continues to look like a contender, I’ll get around to it eventually. He worries me, and I can’t put my finger on why, except to be flip and say that he looks like the evil Mayor from season 3 of Buffy. (Source. Not my cleverness; though I think the whole list is hilarious.)
Alex and the Ironic Gentleman by Adrienne Kress. A fun and funny YA adventure — and its author was one of three who were fantastically nice about letting me ask them questions for a paper I was writing on author blogs. Definitely another recommended read.

Enjoyable things that happened while I was home for Christmas:
-Two lovely Christmas dinners in one day.
-Going ice skating.
-Laughing at my brothers’ oddly decorated gingerbread cookies (One that stands out is a bell that B. frosted in white and spelled out “E.A. Poe” on the top in little chocolate sprinkles. (“Hear the sledges with the bells, silver bells, silver bells, what a world of merriment their melody foretells…” Yes, the poem gets darker; it is Poe.))
-Getting to hang out with Liz before her move and see Elf in the new digs.
-Teasing Mom for calling it a “white Christmas” when it hailed on Christmas morning.
-Beating my brothers at ping pong. Sometimes.
-Getting to show off my beautiful ring…did I mention that we got engaged?

Dedicated to the friendly folks at B. Dalton

July 24, 2007 12:34 am

Why yes, I was at a bookstore at midnight last Friday. (Again.) How did you guess?

My dad and I had been planning to find a release party of some kind since I decided when I was going to come home this summer, so the only question (and not one we were quick to answer) was which bookstore to go to. We learned that B. Dalton in the mall would open at midnight only to sell the book; that all Books-a-Millionses were opening at 9p.m. with various festivities, etc. So we picked a Books-a-Million in town. At the last minute, Middle Brother decided he wanted to come too, and Youngest Brother suddenly caved in to peer pressure. We all caved a little more when my mother (who was not going) suggested that we should go in costume. I hadn’t been planning to, but we pulled out gowns from a couple of college graduations (mine and my cousin’s) and the accessories from a Harry Potter costume Mom made for one of the boys sometime in the last decade. We looked quite fetching.

HP7midnight1.jpg Youngest Brother’s choice of headgear reflects his personality and the back of his shirt has a Dumbledore quote about how music is a magic greater than anything taught at Hogwarts.

Show me more… »

I think mice are nice…but not today

June 6, 2007 9:24 am

Well, it’s been an eventful morning… and it’s not even ten-thirty.

I opened my door this morning after getting dressed and found a mouse staring back at me from about three feet away. I closed the door again.

This is the part where I look like a wuss. I don’t mind rodents outside; I don’t even mind the mice that sometimes scurry around the subway tracks. My brothers used to have gerbils, for crying out loud, and I held them all the time. Poke had a mouse for a weekend once and I held him, too. But this morning, I let an animal smaller than the palm of my hand barricade me in my room for about twenty minutes while I worked up the courage to go do something about it. And yes, when I cracked the door open at the end of that, the mouse was still sitting there.

By that time, I could hear my roommate and her boyfriend getting up and I was starting to run late myself, so I picked up my trash can (sans trashbag). The mouse was finally starting to move into the living room. This was doubly good: it wasn’t coming toward my room, and I could see that it was limping. When the gerbils got out at home, they were tough to catch, being fast and skittery. And then at least we didn’t mind picking them up.

The mouse had headed for the card table and cowered, making it, in the end, fairly easy for me to plonk the trash can over him. Jack slid a flattened paper bag under it and we carried bag, can, and mouse outside and released it. Probably going to be cat food pretty fast, but I’m inclined to cheer on the cat.

I saw one of our friendly maintenance guys while I was outside, and he said he would come by while I’m home during the day tomorrow — he was talking about traps; I want to figure out how it got in and plug whatever holes we might have (and I know there are a couple around the radiators). We’ve never seen mice in the apartment before and we haven’t noticed droppings or anything, so I’m more interested in prevention. Besides, as my roommate pointed out, if we woke up and found a mouse in a trap, we’d be pretty squeamish about that, too. (Unless it were something like a bucket trap…which might not be a bad idea. This version drowns the mouse — ew, wet mouse corpse to dispose of — but I think I’ve seen a version like that without the water, so you just have the mouse waiting for you at the bottom of the five-gallon bucket, and you go deposit him Somewhere Else. Pretty sure your average mousie couldn’t climb out of that big a bucket. And if so, get a ten-gallon bucket?)

At home, sometimes we’ll get little nocturnal lizards that slip in an open door when you come home at night and then hide in the house for days. Those are a beast to catch because if you don’t aim your tupperware (or whatever you’re trying to catch it in) quite right, the tail pops right off and you’ve got a writhing tail stuck to the wall. Ew, ew, ew. The mouse was lame, but he was all in one piece.

As a fun little coda, the word of the day from (yes, I’m a nerd and I get those e-mails) is abulia, which apparently means “a loss of volition or the ability to make decisions” (new one to me). Picture me peeking around the door and shuddering at a poor, helpless, lame, little mouse.

Fire up the iron horse, boys!

January 9, 2007 1:41 am

Liz, Elf and I had a tremendous giggle-fest at the movies tonight. Who wouldn’t want a t-rex skeleton that thinks it’s a puppy? So cute!!

Night at the Museum was great fun as long as they kept to the museum. There was a minimal amount of stock background involving the main character’s kid, disapproving ex-wife, and ex-wife’s dorky but dependable new husband that could have been pulled out of The Santa Clause (for example), only plus cell phones. But inside the museum, our hero must appease Attilla the Hun, not get eaten by the lions, babysit the fire-obsessed cavemen, and deal with the manifest (though miniature) destinies of both U.S. frontiersmen and a Roman legion. And check for his keys, because the monkey has probably made off with them again. Robin Williams makes a surprisingly good Teddy Roosevelt, who quickly becomes an important ally. TR’s puppy-love crush on Sacagawea is a cute gag, as is the fact that Lewis and Clark are so intent in arguing over their map that they seem not to notice that they’re locked in a glass case with a beautiful woman.

Show me more… »

for Carmen

October 8, 2006 4:03 pm

(since I/we seem to have scarred her in the last post)

Go read today’s Get Fuzzy.

Up to the penultimate panel, I found it only amusing. But Bucky’s parting shot has me in hysterics!

Mendel was a monk. Mendel was a monk-monk. Just a regular monk. Later, he was an administrative monk.

For those who haven’t heard the story, that bit of classic eloquence entered the world courtesy of a biology instructor whose (supposedly) bimonthly lectures were supposed to earn our IB Biology class college credit, courtesy of Troy State University. He was utterly worthless and I cannot express how thankful we were that he only graced us with his presence on very rare occaisions.

However, Carmen had the presence of mind to write down certain gems as he lectured as a means of keeping her sanity, and “Mendel was a monk,” is the one I will never forget.

Late summer laundry list

August 27, 2006 9:34 pm

I’ve been back home for almost a week now. In that time, I have:

  • read two books.
  • eaten seven dinners with the family.
  • gone to the doctor, nominally for a check-up, but really just because I needed him to sign a form saying I’ve had my shots and can go to school. Wound up getting a tetnus booster which must have k.o.’ed my immune system enough that I caught whatever stomach bug is going around, because of which I have…
  • spent one night (Wed.) talking to Ralph on the porcelain telephone, so then I…
  • spent two days (Thurs. and Fri.) recuperating.

I have also:

  • seen one move (Being There with Peter Sellers, which is very funny once you get through all the exposition).
  • gone to Montgomery with my dad, my aunt, and my cousin to see an Alabama Shakespeare Company production of Chekhov’s The Three Sisters, which was nicely done, despite being peopled by depressed Russians.
  • and moved the boxes I stored at Grandma’s for the summer back to the living room in preparation of my move north next weekend. Actually departure plans are somewhat dependant on whether Ernesto comes to call at the same time.

Weekend at home

July 30, 2006 12:27 am

Saw Pirates of the Caribbean 2 this evening. Admirably pirate-y, but could have been more tightly edited. A fun, fantastical romp, but I didn’t love it the way I do the first one. Actually, I really want a crack at re-editing it…

The Magic Castle Disney icon that comes up before the movie troubled me this evening. I remember when Disney was all about magic and goodness and the only movies worth watching were made by Disney (except for The Land Before Time; surely a fluke). Somewhere in growing up – roughly around Pocahontas or The Hunchback of Notre Dame – “Disni-fied” became a pejorative. I think Hunchback showed me more about formula and structure than I realized at the time. I couldn’t find the pacing that I associated with Disney, based largely on Beauty and the Beast, Aladin, and maybe The Lion King. You have the introductory number, the big song and dance, the villian’s big number, the love song, etc., etc., and they’re all very singable. I don’t remember a single song from Hunchback. I also remember crowing afterwards that I had known all along that Esmerelda couldn’t really die – not in a Disney movie! I think that was the last animated Disney I saw in the theatre.

Dad and I had been reading about the founding of Jamestown the summer that Pocahontas came out. I didn’t see it until much later, on video, but I remember comparing things I heard and read about the movie to what we had just read in National Geographic, and saw Disney grasping at straws. And while I find the presentation of noble Indians and money-grubbing, exploitative white settlers preferrable to older stereotypes of savages and civilizing Europeans, the characters are still very flat. At least the Seven Dwarves had personalities!…though I would argue Snow White does not. Nostalgia, it seems, has become so weighted.

Speaking of old things trumping new ones, I’m a bit frustrated that no one seems to make combination mixer/blenders anymore. I know people who adore their KitchenAid stand mixers, but it just seems such a waste to have to store that monster of a mixer AND a stand-alone blender. And really – how often would you use both at once? Seems more efficient to use the same motor to operate both. What was so disasterous about my mother’s mixer that it has completely disappeared from the market? No fair! I want one!…at least, eventually. For now, I have a hand mixer of my grandma’s that must be from the sixties or seventies, to guess from the color scheme.

edit: well, maybe someone does: the Bosch Universal Mixer-Blender.

Butterflies, Bones, and Bluegrass. Also, Unitarians.

July 13, 2006 4:26 pm

The title line refers to last Saturday.

Pug and I spent the afternoon at the Florida Museum of Natural History, which turned out to be considerably bigger and cooler
than I expected. One of their big attractions is a large butterfly
enclosure, very nice, and we managed to be there during their butterfly release at 2pm. Since there are so many species, they just don’t have all the right plants that the various butterflies want to lay their eggs on, so nearly all of them are bought from “butterfly farms” and shipped to the museum as chrysalises, and a cageful of new butterflies are released into the main enclosure every few days.

Show me more… »

Summer movies

July 3, 2006 8:34 pm

What? Have I suddenly overcome my family’s seemingly chronic case of being cinema-challenged? Well, only if you don’t expect me to be up-to-date.

In the last, oh, year or so, my dad has joined the ranks of Netflicks customers (you know, the annoying red Flash ads?). I forgive them the ads, actually — for one, I don’t see them on my machine because Adblock gives me power over my world — but also because the service seems to be very prompt and well organized.

At any rate, there is always a movie around or one on the way these days, so we feel we are becoming most educated. (Or at least we might get a few Jeopardy questions — another current addiction.) The June line-up has included Mel Brooks, crossdressing, solitaire, apes, rockets, and genetic profiling.

Show me more… »