kate_nepveu: headshot of German Shepherd mix dog against snow (Emmy)

Went to a wedding this weekend of a couple who have the best how-they-met story I know. Shortly after my friend met her now-husband, she told the story of how she was going on a cruise for a cousin's wedding, and was asked to room with a friend of the family: yeah, it would be awkward to room with a strange guy, but it wasn't a fixup, they just couldn't get the numbers to even up any other way, and did she mind? Well, they hit it off immediately, and as I said, ended up married.

Found at the wedding that this was not actually the whole story. The cousin's now-wife had dreamed that they'd put the two of them into a room on the cruise together and they'd fall in love and get married—despite the fact that they'd never met, lived on opposite sides of the country, and so forth. And they did, and they did. (I presume, but do not know, that the whole story was not told until after they got engaged, because talk about pressure!)

(And wow am I failing to do this justice, thanks to that whole sleep-deprivation thing. Insert funny faces and hand-waving liberally for effect.)

In other news, construction has started here at Chateau Steelypips. In three days, the garage walls have been stripped down to the studs, the front and side doors have been removed, and something-or-other has been done to the floor. (Chad's been taking daily pictures, which will go up on Flickr eventually.) They may be cutting out the door into the living room as soon as Wednesday, which initially seemed early to me considering that the project is projected to take about four weeks, but I guess you'd want to do all the structural stuff first. Yay, library!

(Two funny things about the construction. First, the contractor discovered that local code for new construction includes an egress window in each room (possibly, each ground floor room, but we're not sure). Said window must be fifty-seven inches tall—which is a door, basically, except that we really didn't want an exterior door in that room (taking space away from the bookshelves!). We decided to put two big windows in the front, stuck together, and maybe get Chad a desk instead of a table so that passers-by aren't looking at his knees . . .

(Second, when the contractor stopped by to drop off the permit, he asked Chad, "Have you ever dealt with the town building inspectors?" Chad said he hadn't, because our only prior permit was all done on paper. The contractor said, in tones of amazement, "They're so nice." Which is not at all where we expected that conversation to go.)

And Chad has another dog physics dialogue up, this time about relative motion, in which Emmy demands, "Why do they call relativity 'relativity?' Why not something cooler, like Superfast Timeslowing Squirrelcatching Dynamics?" It is premature of me to hope that relativity can be the sequel to Bunnies Made of Cheese: The Book, but I'm hoping anyway. (No official title or publication date yet; we'll certainly let you all know as soon as we do.)

Finally, U.S. folks: From now through May 19, you can join the National Marrow Donor Program Registry for free (apparently the cost of tissue typing is not always covered). Registering doesn't commit you to do anything and involves just a cheek swab. Non-whites are especially needed, but I hope everyone will consider it.

kate_nepveu: sleeping cat carved in brown wood (Default)

Accomplished this week: met with a CPA about our taxes. She seemed greatly pained at the news that Chad's book advance didn't have taxes withheld and doesn't come with a lot of deductible expenses, but we assured her that we knew we were facing a big bill no matter what deductions she found. Inspired by mucking about in our bills, I did up a tentative budget, while Chad continued his heroic work toward decluttering the garage and basement. Also, FutureBaby stuff )

A few links:

The dog is so sound asleep that her head just slid down off her paws and *thunked* on the floor. I hate to wake her for her last trip outside, but I'd like to try for a similar state soon . . .

kate_nepveu: sleeping cat carved in brown wood (Default)

Besides picking carpet for the new library and making appointments for HVAC maintenance and tax preparation (exciting, I know), the concrete parts of last week were mostly FutureBaby stuff (daycare visits with religious digression; echocardiogram) )

All these ultrasounds do make me wonder how difficult it was to get medical ultrasounds started, because many of what the doctors and techs call really clear pictures are, to me, grainy blurry blobs. Obviously medical science knew a good deal about anatomy, but it would have no way of telling how any given heart was constructed and thus what, precisely, an ultrasound of said heart was showing—right? And the 2D view of a 3D thing is so odd, especially when the depth changes with a little shift of the wand . . . anyway, learning how to read ultrasounds must've been an interesting process.

* * *

Between the workshop earlier in the month and the brief I drafted after I got back, I've been thinking more than usual about my writing process. There's generally a point when everything suddenly falls into place and the whole case crystallizes into a couple of sentences—which almost always comes later than I'd like [*], but from there, writing is easy (or, at least, no longer like pulling teeth).

Thing is, I think of this as "breaking the back of the case," which I picked up unconsciously from David Henry Hwang's afterword to M. Butterfly. Which is a pretty nasty metaphor, and not that accurate for me either, but it seems to have stuck. Do you all have different metaphors? Does this happen to you when you're writing nonfiction? Fiction?

[*] I wish I could consciously monitor this process, and could therefore determine how much of the time leading up to this moment is actually needed and how much is just plain old procrastination. I'm planning to experiment with consciously shifting my focus from one thing to another, to see if my backbrain will process things in parallel.

* * *

Since I was in the office on Sunday, I took pictures, because I find people's work spaces interesting (also I never got around to posting the ones I took earlier and things have changed slightly since):

eight pictures and more detail than reasonable )

Anyone else want to post pictures of their workspaces?

* * *

Finally, a few links:

Oh, okay, really finally: we got forty minutes into Samurai X: Trust and Betrayal on Saturday night before turning it off. Even if we'd realized that it was an OVA edited into a movie, rather than a series, it was violent and choppy and just not what we were in the mood for after a nice dinner to celebrate the good news about FutureBaby.

kate_nepveu: sleeping cat carved in brown wood (Default)

We spent Tuesday through Friday in D.C.; I was there for a workshop (which was great), and Chad came with to make it a bit of a vacation. He wrote up the cultural part of the trip over at his blog—visiting the Sackler & Freer Museums, wandering the mall, and going to the Zoo. He also has a picture of the imperturbable mandarin ducks, and will be posting a few more. (When I have time, I'll go through my museum pictures and the rest of the zoo pictures and put them up, but I took a lot, so it won't be for a while. That's really the revolutionary thing about digital cameras, I think, the number of pictures you can take conveniently.)

Anyway, great trip, even though my brain refused to get out of post-vacation mode yesterday when I could really have used it.

In other news, we've picked a contractor to turn our garage into a library/office, thereby allowing us to use the current spare bedroom as a nursery and Chad's current office as a new spare bedroom. Floor-to-ceiling bookcases on two walls! And I've been feeling fetal movement for the last couple weeks, which is reassuring though occasionally weird—I never expected anything that feels like a water cooler sounds when it's refilling: "blurp, blurp." We have daycare visits and a fetal echocardiogram scheduled for this week.

Some more discussion sparked by those culturally-appropriating fake memoirs: [livejournal.com profile] rachelmanija on Memoir, Fiction, and Truth, and [livejournal.com profile] rushthatspeaks on Memoir and Honesty.

And some more links behind the cut, mostly food and cute:

links dump )

kate_nepveu: sleeping cat carved in brown wood (Default)

You know, there were definitely a lot of positive things about 2007, but my instinctive reaction to the end of the year is "good riddance." I think it's because of the start (family and personal health issues, difficulties at work) and the end (personal health issues regressing, winter blehs), on the primacy/recency principles.

Anyway. In 2007 Chad sold his book, to our great excitement and bogglement. We took short trips to Boston, New York City, and Michigan (no-content comment), and long trips to St. John and to Japan. We went to Boskone, Worldcon, and World Fantasy Con. I went to Readercon.

We saw more live performances than I'd remembered: Richard Thompson; Buffalo Tom; Amos Lee, Elvis Costello, and Bob Dylan; Steven Wright; and Bruce Springsteen.

We bought an exercise bike. I discovered del.icio.us and developed grandiose plans for its use. I became an aunt.

I went warm and then cold on Heroes and Fables; fell in love with Princess Tutu; and didn't read as much as I wanted, though that's not cause-and-effect. Of the new-to-me stuff on the booklog, these were the most notable, exciting, or enjoyable:

(Shaun Tan's The Arrival would be on this list but I keep failing to have enough brains to do it justice.)

I went another year without finishing The Tale of Genji, though I read up to the transitional end-of-book chapters while in St. John.

And I wrote a heck of a lot here, as shown by these posts with the most comments (anything over 40, for these purposes; sorted by month not number because they clump):

much-commented posts )

Books, movies, tv, race, and reader-participation entries. Sounds representative enough of the year on LJ.

kate_nepveu: small black cartoon creature with unevenly-sized eyes and thin smile; effect is meant to be friendly but odd (slightly crazed)

Leading up to the holidays, I spent much more time than I expecting putting together the Japan albums for my grandparents, so went into all the travel feeling rushed and unprepared. Fortunately, we visited our respective parents on consecutive weekend, not back to back as we did last year, so there was a little time for breath-catching in-between.

Also to recuperate, because Christmas Eve dinner was attended by twenty-nine people. Crowded and noisy hardly begins to describe it. But, for all that it was trying for introverts, it was still fun. The high point was the newest adult standing up and singing the Polish national anthem, which new guests tend to be told is a requirement but no-one has ever done. She brought down the house and wins everything forever.

She also knitted us these cephalopods ("from spun awesome", as Chad said):

picture of knitted squid, octopus )

who would be fabulous even if their tentacles weren't posable.

We got lots of welcome, useful, and unexpected things, but not many of them lend themselves to pictures—I mean, we really needed a roasting pan after the liquid turkey episode, but do you all need to see it? No. So just one more picture, of this . . . guy . . . who I'm using as a holder of my business cards, from Chad's sister (whose partner did the knitting and singing):

picture of cardholder guy )

Isn't he great? Indescribable, but great.

(I took a bunch of other pictures of my office at the same time, and will post them eventually.)

Anyway, twenty-nine people on Christmas Eve, early dinner on Christmas Day and then the drive home, Chad's folks up for dinner on Boxing Day, collapse for a day, then drive out to my parents' on Friday night ahead of a small storm. We had a nice quiet visit and, at the family party on Sunday, got lots of advice on home improvement stuff (we're contemplating converting the garage into a library/office. Built-in floor-to-ceiling bookcases, baby!). Came home on Monday to find eight inches of new snow on the driveway, which the dog sitter had valiantly waded through. After naps, we went to a neighborhood New Year's party, at which I bowled a 189 on their new Wii. New Year's Day I basically sat around in a stupor of screwed-up sleep cycles and watched more snow fall.

Then we had a couple of bitterly cold days, which meant that the snow slid off the garage roof veeeeery slowly, as seen on Friday afternoon:

two pictures of our garage glacier )

It warmed up this weekend, and I ran more errands than I should have (among other things, replacing my iPod—sweet music, mine again!) and watched more football ditto (go, Giants!). And since I am badly abusing parentheses, I think it's time to go do something else.

kate_nepveu: ocelet in profile, lying on shelf with head hanging slightly over edge (my daemon)

We bought and put up our tree today. It seemed to have a few thick branches and a lot of thin ones, which made distributing the ornaments a challenge, but it looks nice. Chad's talking about doing another "science on the tree" series, so watch this space. Or his, I suppose.

Last night, we went to see The Golden Compass. Short version: I agree with most reviewers who say that the look of the film and the actress playing Lyra are great, but the pace is too fast. (As various people have said, this is a big-budget movie based on a fantasy novel coming out from New Line in December. It's allowed to be more than two hours.) I will add that the shortened pace leads to some anvilicious exposition, which I haven't seen any reviewers say, but they're probably not allowed to say "anvilicious" in print reviews. Enjoyable, but kind of exhausting.

Spoilery version: )

We got a mostly dire batch of trailers, though The Spiderwick Chronicles continues to look promising, and Inkheart might be good—Andy Serkis in a main role. (I haven't read the book yet. Either of the books, actually, though Spiderwick isn't high on my list.)

And now, a selection of links, starting with two about His Dark Materials, then more entertainment, politics, and seasonal stuff (holidays and otherwise).

links )

kate_nepveu: stained-glass depiction of autumn foliage (autumn)

We hosted Thanksgiving dinner this year on Saturday, for logistical reasons. I actually quite liked this, because it gave me extra prep time without having to take a vacation day (since I rather used a lot of vacation time this summer . . . ). The net effect is more relaxing.

So on Thursday, we cleaned and cooked, admiring our spacious new fridge (delivered Wednesday) all the while: it's the same volume as the old one, but much more efficiently arranged. Then we had some very nice steaks with caramelized sugar (online recipe). We also discovered that omitting the onions leads to the leftover sauce more or less instantly solidifying on the serving plate. It was impressive and amused me inordinately: I giggled all through the lengthy process of prying the candy off the plate with my fingers and a thin-bladed knife.

Then we had Thanksgiving on Saturday.

Menu, cranberry relish recipe, and lessons for next time )

And a selection of links (11 this time):

links dump )

Finally, does anyone have any good anti-static tips? My new winter coat generates so much static that my earphones crackle when the wire rests against it. And I hate the smell of Static Guard.

kate_nepveu: sleeping cat carved in brown wood (Default)

A busy and fun week.

As I already said, there was the Springsteen concert, which was fabulous. Chad wrote that they didn't leave anything in the locker room, which is a good way of putting it. The encore exemplifies this: it started with "Girls in Their Summer Clothes," a new song with a sing-along chorus, and then "Thunder Road," and then the house lights came up for "Born to Run," which I expected was the end . . . but then there was "Dancing in the Dark," still with the house lights up, so I figured that was the end . . . but no, there was still one more, "American Land." The crowd was completely into it, belting along with the obscure "4th of July, Asbury Park (Sandy)" as much as the newer stuff or the classics, which increased the fun. I gave myself a coughing fit two-thirds of the way through "Born to Run" and came home exhausted and exhilarated.

Setlists: at the official site, with links to lyrics ("Thunder Road" has a lot of words), and at a fansite (search "restored calliope" for a picture of what puzzled me, too, at the opening). And the local paper's review.

Friday we had dinner with a classmate of Chad's, Ethan Zuckerman, and Rachel Barenblat, the Velveteen Rabbi—who has the best blog name and tagline: "When can I run and play with the real rabbis?" Great food, great conversation, and we'll have to go over to their neck of the woods sometime.

And my sister-in-law passed the California bar! Go, her! (56.1% pass rate overall, and 69.0% for first-time takers. Yikes—the equivalents for NY the year I took it was 67.5% and 76.5%.)

Saturday we had remarkably good home-repairs and -improvement luck, including the purchase of a bigger fridge that can be delivered before Thanksgiving. And then we watched the movie Stranger than Fiction, which I really enjoyed. Harold Crick is an IRS auditor with no life, who suddenly begins hearing a voice narrating his actions. Which is itself upsetting, but then the voice casually mentions his imminent death.

I asked Chad to NetFlix this because someone at the Worldcon Metafiction panel said that meta was the whole point, which is true. I've seen some reviews saying that the love story is the heart of the movie, which I just don't get: I found it flat, predictable, and unconvincing. (Ditto Queen Latifah's character, alas.) But I liked the meta, and the sad look on Harold Crick's face (Will Ferrell—no, don't run away, really!), and the slightly magic-realist flavor of it all. Recommended.

So, a really good entertainment week, as it also included Shaun Tan's The Arrival, a booklog gush about which is forthcoming, and new Saiyuki Gaiden (resulting in a few new icons). Though I didn't manage to finish the last WFC panel report, on Tolkien as a horror writer. (I do intend to; it's mostly done.)

Oh, and those of you who've read Grant's Daughter of the Game: I've gotten as far as chapter five, and I'm not particularly invested in any of the characters, plus I'm finding the prose slightly hard to fall in through. Should I bother with the rest of it?

kate_nepveu: sleeping cat carved in brown wood (Default)

On one hand, it is pleasing to have one's workspace (physical and virtual) so well-customized that everything is exactly where it should be and one can proceed effortlessly. On the other, it's a real bitch to discover just how much one depends on all those customizations, such as when one is displaced from one's office because one's computer has died. Fortunately it was only for a day and a half.

We were in Massachusetts this weekend to celebrate my grandfather's 80th birthday. Chad made himself a great hit with the small child in attendance by laboriously untying one of the helium balloons—not so much with the helium voice, which just made J. go o_o at the weird, but with blowing up the balloon (itself very exciting!) and then letting it go so it flew around the room. Even better was when he gave J. the blown-up balloon so he could let go of it. Such happiness.

Now I am contemplating whether to watch Heroes (on one hand, answers! on the other, don't want to be cranky) and listening to the cold rain come down outside, snug and smug in the knowledge that we've already walked the dog.

A collection of links: cut for length )

kate_nepveu: sleeping cat carved in brown wood (Default)

We saw comedian Stephen Wright perform here in Albany two weeks ago. Since I bought our tickets at the last minute, we ended up in orchestra seats, fifth row, which made more of a difference than I would have expected. (The man does, actually, smile on occasion.) The structure of the show alternated between strings of apparently-random one-liners ("A friend of mine has a trophy wife . . . but apparently it wasn't first place."), and longer stories with one-liners hung on them as ornamentation, such as a long surreal tale that started with his parrot making long-distance calls and ended with a truck full of seatbelts crashing into a police car. We enjoyed ourselves, and I may look into some of his recorded performances.

In general household news, we got the inside of our new windows painted . . . something like four years after they were installed. And this week, I got a bad haircut—that people keep telling me they like, which makes it even more annoying!—and had our shower literally fall apart on me, the slide bar coming off the wall. But there was also a lot of house stuff accomplished and good food and the Giants & Patriots winning, so on the whole I'm feeling pretty good to end the week.

A selection of recent-ish delicious links:

Read more... )

Finally, the first disc of the anime Now and Then, Here and There turns remarkably unpleasant and stupid after a, well, unremarkable opening episode. This is something recommended to Chad, not me, but absent convincing reasons to the contrary, I won't be watching any more even if Chad Netflixs the other two discs.

kate_nepveu: sleeping cat carved in brown wood (Default)

I had a bit of excitement, last week, when I turned my computer on . . . and found it caught in an endless reboot cycle because it couldn't load the OS. Fortunately, I had 1) the bootable CD that came with the computer, 2) the sure and certain knowledge that all of my data was backed up, and 3) relaxation techniques to keep me from wrecking my shoulders, jaw, and stomach while I determined that it was a software, not hardware, problem (some file in the boot sector had gotten corrupted).

Back up your data!

We bought an exercise bike a week ago. It uses magnets for resistance and so is remarkably quiet. So far, so good; I'm going to have to be very diligent about my stretches (hip bursitis), but otherwise no complaints. Oh, and very diligent about keeping the foolish dog away from it: I clonked her good right on the flat of her nose with the pedal, the first time I was pedaling away.


  • My Neighbor Totoro is a charming, odd, low-key, family movie that deserves the label. I recommend it. Also, have some icons.
  • We saw Amos Lee, Elvis Costello, and Bob Dylan in concert last night.

    Unfortunately we missed all but the last couple of Lee's songs, but he was quite good and got a satisfyingly warm reception from the crowd. He closed with his best-known song, "Keep It Loose, Keep It Tight," and I think he may have played "Shout Out Loud" too, which you can hear at his website.

    Costello was doing the very solo thing, him and a guitar. He came out and banged right into "(The Angels Wanna Wear My) Red Shoes," and did several songs before doing any stage patter at all. Good stuff, very energetic and entertaining, also notably smooth at getting the audience to sing without explicitly asking for it.

    Dylan was touring with a band. I am not terribly familiar with his music, especially his recent stuff, so I can sum up my reaction in eight words: I like my pop music to have words.

    Seriously, except for the occasional line, he might as well have been singing in Swedish. And I know he's capable of enunciating, because he did do it once in a while, and because he was great when we saw him in 1999. I ended up zoning out for much of the set, trying to relax in the uncomfortable seats. Fortunately, I was fully awakened by the last song, "All Along the Watchtower" Hendrix-style.

    For the perspective of a Dylan fan, see Chad's report.

  • Episode 51 of Bleach has an amazing number of characters and not much forward movement. (It was on Adult Swim while I was doing stretches after the concert.)


  • Donate $30 to DonorsChoose and buy Chad's blog.
  • Someone came to my booklog and put "i am searching for a spell to reverse timeto july29,2007" (sic) into the "search" box.
  • Neighborhood fauna spotted recently: a fox, fireflies, bats, and frantically-active squirrels.
  • Useful LJ bookmarklets, including one that will change pages to your style—even ones in "format=light".
  • del.icio.us is my new obsession. I'm planning to use it for con report roundups, and to that end, added this year's Boskone links as a trial run. Any comments on the tagging or anything else? (Chad suggested tagging by panelist as well, but I'm uncertain about that; people often don't show or are added at the last minute, and not all panel reports will reflect that. However, if people would really like it, it can be done.)

    (Also, for the auto-posting, I need to hide the tag lists with CSS or otherwise format them so they don't overwhelm the links (see what I mean?).)

kate_nepveu: sleeping cat carved in brown wood (Default)

We've been home from Japan for two weeks, now. I had an absurd amount of work upon my return (some of that is my fault; I should have known better). I also had jet lag by proxy, as it took Chad about a week to readjust. (My body clock seems to still be very flexible, for which I am grateful.) But we're pretty well caught up on sleep and work now and back in the routine.

In the anecdotal evidence file, I seemed to be coming down with a cold on the Monday we got back. I immediately started taking zinc and did not develop a full-blown cold. Perhaps it was just an abrupt reaction to local allergens, not a cold, but regardless, I'm grateful, because I really did not have time to be sick.

Random other things:

kate_nepveu: sleeping cat carved in brown wood (Default)

I can't believe we're leaving for Japan on Saturday. And are leaving here on Friday.

 . . . I only have thirteen or fourteen chapters of Genji left and yet I still don't think I'm going to manage to finish it before we leave.

Anyway. The week that was:

Dear new massage person,

When I say, "I have bursitis in both hips, and just got a cortisone shot in the right one," do not lean really hard on a tight spot in my right hip, because that? Was the inflammed bursae, and now the cortisone shot might as well never have happened.

Yours in never coming back,

She Who Will Limp Her Way Around Japan

Two movies in one weekend, which is pratically unprecedented for us. Besides Bourne, previously discussed here, we saw Stardust on Sunday with [livejournal.com profile] yhlee. It was pretty enjoyable: de Niro's role was, I thought, a misstep that verged on offensive, and there were a few places in the story that had been Hollywooded up, but those flaws didn't taint the entire thing. I refuse to compare it to The Princess Bride, however, because I've been watching The Princess Bride for almost all of my movie-watching life and I simply can't be objective about it.

(I really need try and make an icon of The Grandfather saying, "Yes, you're very smart. Now shut up," and possibly one of "She does not get eaten by the eels at this time." But not tonight.)

Pretty much everything else was International Blog Against Racism Week (my posts, all posts), which was enlightening and frustrating and heartening and maddening and oh so very time-consuming. My deepest thanks to everyone who took time to explain, who listened, who asked clarifying questions, and who otherwise helped make it a little easier to talk about racism. I had a lot of things to say this year, partly because I'd stored them up, waiting for the relative protection of being one of a school of fish; but I'm working on needing that less.

And on that note, I highly recommend damali ayo's I Can Fix It: Racism (PDF), which lists five things you can do to fix racism (via [livejournal.com profile] coffeeandink's post recommending three basic online resources; see also her recommendations of five books).

kate_nepveu: sleeping cat carved in brown wood (Default)

I have the post-vacation blahs in a big way, not helped by an upset digestive system (bad airline food? reaction to Northeast allergens? just not wanting to be here? who knows!) and a serious lack of sleep. Have very briefly skimmed over reading list and marked a rather large quantity of things "read" on Bloglines.

Feeling overwhelmed at the idea of leaving for Japan in less than two weeks. I still have fourteen chapters of Genji to read, not to mention learning more than five Japanese words, and half-a-dozen doctor's appointments, and all this laundry, and, generallly, everything that needs to be done for us to leave the country for three weeks.

Speaking of Japan & Worldcon: has anyone else filled out a program questionnaire & not gotten a schedule? There's at least one other con e-mail I've not gotten that Chad has, and so I'm worried that I'm not getting e-mail for some reason. (The other possibility is that they've decided they don't need me after all, which is fine, but I'd really like to know.)

Further to traveling: can anyone recommend a simple, preferably shareware, e-mail program for the Palm TX? Versamail apparently refuses to send anything longer than 4KB of text, which rather puts a damper on my post-by-e-mail plan for Japan.

I have this whole list of posts I wanted to write for International Blog Against Racism Week, and failed to write any of them while on vacation (and to finish Genji, and to read new-to-me John M. Ford books in preparation for a proposed Worldcon panel, and and and . . . ). I don't know whether I'll have the guts to write them and post them outside of IBARW (I was telling Chad, it's like being in a school of fish: it feels like there's less chance of trolls coming and eating you). But I did read Covering and will post about it, so that will be something.

But now, I am going to go buy food for the family and a camera for me. Yay, blatant consumerism as a mood lifter, or something.

kate_nepveu: sleeping cat carved in brown wood (Default)

Yesterday we returned from St. John in the U.S. Virgin Islands, where we spent a wonderful week with Chad's family. Trip report follows, cut for length. Pictures are forthcoming, but the first is up on Chad's blog.

Generally )

Snorkeling )

Walking Around )

Restaurants )

Travel Notes )

Thanks again to Chad's parents, who gave us this trip as a gift.

kate_nepveu: sleeping cat carved in brown wood (Default)

Last weekend we spent in Michigan with friends of Chad's from college, which was low-key fun: much grilled food, and hanging out by the Lake, and so forth. This weekend can be summed up in three letters:

Dear Local Independent Bookstore,

I was planning to support you by purchasing Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows at your establishment. However, when I arrived at your store at 9:30 a.m. and found that you didn't open until 10:00, I said to myself, "If I go to the Borders across the street, I could be home by 10:00."

And so I was.

Very truly yours,

A missed customer

* * *

Dear bathing suit manufacturers,

Thank you for finally realizing that it's often much easier to find a comfortable and well-fitting bathing suit if one can mix and match tops and bottoms. Now that you've made lots of non-bikinis available in two pieces, I actually finished my Quest for Spare Bathing Suits in a good mood.



* * *

Dear Eddie Bauer,

No company that sends me as many catalogs as you do has any business carrying "store-only" items. You could have sold four or five pairs of shorts today, instead of just the one that the local store had in my size.

Very truly yours,

A mildly peeved customer

The shorts were going to be for Japan, but Chad suggested that maybe they wouldn't be appropriate, because he didn't recall seeing a lot of people wearing them and felt that the general custom was a little dressier. Thoughts, anyone? (I was thinking shorts because (1) it's going to be hot and (2) I'd like to wear sneakers rather than sandals, and my personal dress code does not include sneakers with skirts.)

kate_nepveu: sleeping cat carved in brown wood (Default)

The most important news first: I'm an aunt! Six weeks earlier than expected, but the daughter of my brother and his wife appears to be doing well regardless.

Much cookout food the last two weeks. We held one here last weekend, at which the dog ate a piece of pineapple (from the ground) and half a piece of bread (from the hand of a small child, who would wave it in front of her face); people ate all of the mac and cheese, again (I keep thinking it's not a summer food and being proven wrong); people ate [livejournal.com profile] orzelc's spiedes and [livejournal.com profile] lbmango's over-bourboned pies; and I ate way too much baklava and contemplated learning how to make it myself. Yesterday we went to a cookout hosted by someone at work, at which the food was quite good but not nearly as interesting as my coming within twenty feet of a doe. Oh, and in-between we had deep-fried mozzarella sandwiches, among other tapas-y things, at Cella Bistro. If you live in this area you really need to be eating there.

And as Chad already said, we saw Richard Thompson perform live and electric last night. Impressive show, even though I don't like Thompson nearly as well as Chad does.

In non-weekend news, I have finally started working on learning a bit of Japanese, and can recommend the audio lessons at JapanesePod101.com (the audio is free; extra material requires membership, though you can sign up for a free trial). I find it a lot more appealing than my half-remembered college language lessons, and am planning to work my way through the "Survival Phrases" series. Someone here may well have recommended this, so thanks.

So, learning survival Japanese, doing a lot of Worldcon reading, eating a lot of cookout food. There was a disc of Princess Tutu in there too, but that's a separate post. And as always, I feel like I'm forgetting something, but if I am, how important could it have been?

kate_nepveu: sleeping cat carved in brown wood (Default)

A friend got married in Massachusetts yesterday, so we drove out Friday night. Had dinner at a Japanese steakhouse, where we saw the amusing teppanyaki trick of stacking onion rings, pouring oil in the middle, and lighting it on fire: "Mount Fuji!" I'm quite sure that it's a tourist thing, but the kids in the restaurant loved it.

It was a daytime wedding, which allowed us to drive straight back here so that Chad could go to Union's graduation at 9 o'clock this morning. Long day, and neither Chad's knee (which he banged up playing basketball on Friday before we left) or my various health issues thanked us for it, but we're managing well enough now. Especially after I napped this afternoon—had one of those days where everything was unsatisfactory until then. I just wish I could tell in advance when a nap's going to help and when it's going to make things worse . . .

Oh, and a question for you, readers: the wedding provided an example of the inappropriate, non-ironic, wedding reception song, namely Beck's "Lost Cause". (Though that's not as bad as being broken up with by someone handing you that CD, as happened to someone there.) I still think that Tina Turner's "What's Love Got to Do With It" is the worst I've heard, though, as there's no way you can avoid realizing how inappropriate it is; at least "Lost Cause" is pretty and requires an effort to focus on the lyrics.

So, what inappropriate and non-ironic songs have you heard at wedding receptions? If there are enough really bad ones, maybe I'll do a runoff poll . . .

kate_nepveu: stained-glass depiction of autumn foliage (Tiffany)

I don't really know how long it's been since I've done a life update, and so I will probably forget a boatload of stuff. On the other hand, if I've forgotten it, it probably wasn't that important.

Probably the most consequential news is my jaw. medical stuff, cut for length )

In other news, a friend from high school is getting married, so I've been back to Massachusetts for the shower & a bachelorette day (lunch and a spa visit. A facial is nice and all, but a massage—on a heated table—that's just bliss). If only I'd waited another week to write this, I could add the wedding to the list . . .

A while ago (err, end of April, which does put a lower limit on how long it's been since I did one of these), I was in NYC for work on a Friday, so we stayed over an extra night on our dime. We had a very lovely dinner with the Nielsen Haydens, and visited the Met on the way out. The new Greek and Roman galleries were more interesting than I expected, mostly thanks to the neat Roman wall paintings. The exhibit on Louis Comfort Tiffany's country estate has concluded, but I recommend seeing Venice and the Islamic World before it closes on July 8, because it was really excellent, full of informative and gorgeous stuff.

And I was absurdly happy to see that there was another offering of pennies at the same Ganesha statute as the last time I was there.

Anyway, the visit made me realize that I wanted a camera of my own. We have a quite good one, but it's too big for me to just toss in my purse when I go to museums, and there were a lot of things I'd have taken pictures of if I could. I have one picked out, but I'm not going to say what it is to discourage Chad from just buying it for my birthday. => (I think it's too expensive for a single-person gift and am somewhat uncouthly wanting money as gifts instead, which I can then aggregate into said camera.)

As for more recent stuff, I'm kind of behind on a lot of stuff I need to do this summer. There's reading all the Hugo [*] and Campbell nominees before it's time to vote, and re-reading the Harry Potter series before the seventh book comes out, and learning at least a little Japanese ("But I don't wanna, that's work," my subconscious whines), and getting all the logistics squared away (like what we're doing about the dog . . . ).

[*] Does anyone else use Palm's eReader and want the short fiction as nice marked-up files, complete with italics etc.? Minus the two stories only released as PDFs, that is.

And (not that it will help with getting stuff done) there will be Readercon. Woo!

Finally because I am getting tired, we saw Ocean's Thirteen today. Much better than the second, not as good as the first because oblique spoiler )

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