Cutest baby in the universe has a mild sinus infection and is thus disrupting parental schedules like whoa. (Seven-month developmental post coming, honest.)
(Chad has news about his book forthcoming, which is why.)
And I'm not feeling so great myself, but I have a brief that absolutely positively has to be written by Monday, so, whee, off I go!
The dog has just pulled off the table and eaten one prenatal vitamin, one calcium pill, and two fiber tablets. (Either she didn't like the first calcium pill or I got to her before she could eat the second one.)
In the past she's eaten Rolaids softchews—which she loved so much that afterwards she'd go after empty wrappers—which I could sort-of understand because they are at least flavored, but all of these were hard non-chewables and therefore unflavored.
Dogs are weird.
On one hand, it's almost reassuring to try on maternity jeans that are so long that I could use them as footie pajamas, because at least it's clear that they are meant to be altered, rather than the manufacturers having peculiar ideas about the length of women's legs.
On the other hand, I should not have to have jeans altered just because I'm pregnant! Especially not when it's Saturday and I'm going out of town Tuesday morning.
And now, having wasted most of my afternoon on this, I'm going off to do some work. Whee.
(To make up for whining: have some new Emmy pictures, in the last half or so of this set.)
While I work and suffer from the Wintertime Blues [*] and unusual prose sensitivity [**], Chad discusses our book shelves; poses a cheery hypothetical on love and death in preparation for teaching "Story of Your Life" (spoilers); and posts a more detailed explanation of the pregnancy health issues. And the dog hunts squeaky toys in the snow.
[*] John Hiatt (last.fm). Particularly:
There's no spring
There was never any spring
Spring's a long gone thing
There won't ever be a spring no more
Since my favorite line, "Three hours of daylight and all of them gray / the suicide prevention group has all run away," is no longer quite applicable.
Oh, and while I'm linking to music, have some pretty harmonies from a lesser-known alt-country/folk rock band called the Jayhawks who came up on shuffle recently:
- "Save It for a Rainy Day" (YouTube)
- "Stumbling Through the Dark" (YouTube)
- "I'd Run Away" (last.fm)
- "Blue" (YouTube) (also covered by The Thorns (last.fm))
- live version of "Tailspin" with the Sadies (artist website)
- short, poor-quality live snippet of the very pretty "All the Right Reasons" (YouTube)
[**] Decided not to attempt Acacia because the retrospective omniscient was grating on me. I hardly ever care about this stuff, what is my deal lately? Not that I have time to be reading now.
Emmy is a German Shepherd mix, the mix being something small, floppy-eared, and no more a water dog than a German is. She is also crate-trained, and her crate (which is much too big for her) sits immediately to the right of the back door. Chad has a picture, complete with mangled literary reference.
This morning, a summer thunderstorm was pouring down rain when we got up. I let her out back, in case she needed to go to the bathroom that badly. She didn't, I let her in—and she went directly into her crate and curled up in a little ball at the very very back.
I asked her a magic question ("Are you hungry?", which usually gets her running from anywhere in the house) and put down her breakfast. She stayed curled up in a little ball at the very very back of her crate. I tossed a treat in her bowl, and she came out to eat. When she finished eating—right back in her crate.
I made my own breakfast before our morning walk, instead of after, hoping the storm would pass. Normally she'd be around my feet as I buttered my toast, hoping I'd drop some; lying at my feet while I ate, hoping I'd drop some; and snuffling for crumbs on my chair after I finished. (She likes toast.) Today, she stayed curled up in a little ball at the very very back of her crate.
I coaxed her out by talking to her, rubbed her ears, and told her that she was a good dog and the rain had stopped. (It had. I wouldn't lie to her.) She wagged her tail and snuffled for toast crumbs . . . until she saw me getting my rain gear. Then she went and sat behind the farthest corner of the dining room table. When I asked her another magic question—"Do you want to go for a walk?"—she went directly into her crate and curled up in a little ball at the very very back.
I tried to coax her out again. She wagged her tail just a little and rolled slightly onto her side—either to show her belly, or to make it harder for me to get at her collar, I'm not sure. What she did not do, was move.
I sighed. I checked the window to confirm that the rain really had stopped. Then I crawled into the crate and clipped the leash onto her collar.
Once I did that, she reluctantly got up and suffered herself to be taken outdoors. And we had a very nice walk.
But boy, does she hate the rain.
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 orzelc's spiedes and 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?
This was another difficult week, between work and personal stuff. The snow in the middle of the week (Chad has two posts of pictures) both made things better and worse, because while I took Wednesday off, the roads in Albany were annoyingly bad the next two days.
The dog also had mixed feelings about the snow: it makes things smell fascinating, but she has to do full-out leaps to get through two feet of powder. There was a sharp path through part of the patio, where Chad turned around the snowblower, and I tried to get a picture of Emmy stretching her neck up to see over, to be captioned "Hey! What happened to my backyard?"—but as soon as I opened the door, she bolted for inside. Chad broke some yard paths just before we left for Boskone, and we came home to a happy dog and notes from the dog-sitter about how much Emmy enjoyed playing with her squeaky tennis ball in the snow.
Boskone reports starting tomorrow; meanwhile, what else is good with cream cheese frosting besides carrot cake? My mother suggests it as a filling between two oatmeal raisin cookies; other ideas?
My brother got married this weekend; I wish him all the best in his new family. Other bits about the weekend:
- We learned that Chad's new car does very well in the snow, even if other drivers don't.
- It's been a long time since I've spent that much time in a facility that permits smoking (which reminds me, our jackets are still in the dryer).
- And I still really hate it when a man remarks on my physical attractiveness to Chad, while I am standing right there.
(Chad has the perfect response, which is to say, "And she's smarter than me, too." Unfortunately, it tends to go completely over the heads of the idiots making the comment; also, it would work better if I could suppress my ritual denial of the statement, since I don't believe it's true, even though Chad insists on it regularly. In this case, though, I don't mind that he says it.)
In other non-news, everyone loves our dog Emmy. Background: we'd wondered for some time if the cleaning people let her out of her crate while they were here, because we'd sometimes find her crate only partly latched after. Sometime last month, Chad came home and found one of the regular cleaning people still here, so he asked. The guy said yes, sometime he let the dog out; she'd lie down outside the upstairs bathroom and keep him company while he cleaned. Which is very cute.
Anyway, this week Chad came home and found a bone in the dog's crate. A new bone, one we hadn't given her. While we did have a couple bones of this type in the kitchen, I am reasonably sure that the cleaner didn't take one of those: which means that one of the cleaning people went out and bought our dog a bone as a present. She is so good that near-strangers buy her stuff!
In literary news, Chad and I had this conversation over dinner:
KATE: . . . and I left Jack and Stephen in a very dangerous situation in my audiobook, but since it's only halfway through the book, I'm pretty sure they don't die.
CHAD: And also since it's book, what, thirteen of twenty?
KATE: Well, yeah.
CHAD: Unless they spend the rest of the series as zombies. Which might explain their popularity with sf fans.
Which is an AU challenge if I ever heard one (see also: "Francis Crawford of Lymond, the (Zombie) Master of Culter" (spoilers for Dorothy Dunnett's The Game of Kings)).
Finally, in my universe there was only the Puppy Bowl today and no other Bowl anything. Do not make comments to the contrary.
bassfingers describes Rabbit Hole Day (in honor of Lewis Carroll's birthday) thusly: "write about the strange new world you have found yourself in for the day . . . . Are your pets talking back at you now?"
Chad was away last weekend on a debauch, and I took the opportunity to eat a lunch buffet at an Indian restaurant. I had lentil doughnuts (medhu vada, judging by the menu; surprisingly good), and something unindentifiable that was very much like a crepe with a dollop of mashed vegetable curry in the middle, and grilled stuff, and naan, and rice kheer (nice thing about a buffet, I could take just a taste), and then I rolled myself back home to lie in the backyard and read.
On the way to the restaurant, I saw two striking things: a wild turkey winging its way across the road directly in front of me—they seem even bigger than they actually are (which is not inconsiderable) for being so ungainly; and a truck that had replaced the knob below the license plate with a chrome skull, with red LED eyes that lit up when the brake lights did.
Chad got home around 2 a.m. Sunday (delayed flight), and of course the dog woke up when he came in, but she went back to sleep surprisingly quickly; I actually laid awake for about twenty minutes expecting to hear her start crying after him. Chad's theory is that she thought it was a dream, which would explain why she was so amazingly excited when I let her into the bedroom the next morning. She frequently orbits the living room and dining room, running full-tilt in as wide a loop as possible; but when her orbit expands to include the bedroom and the stairs (and she is not good with stairs), well, that's an excited doggie. It was ridiculously cute in a way that probably only other dog owners appreciate.
Chad's folks were up for dinner Friday night. It started inauspiciously, when I opened up the cabinet for plates and saw a house centipede scuttle away in that freakishly quick way that they do. Everyone else helped hunt it down, as I quietly quaked in the other room with the dog; Chad's dad gets credit for finally killing it. However, Chad assures me that this time, my freakout was justified, as the thing was huge, as big as his thumb.
On a more serious note, I was sorry to hear that a great-aunt of Chad's had passed away; though not surprised, since it had been about a year since she was given three months to live. I understand it was a good year, but she was a cool person and will be missed.
After that, though, dinner went fine. We were puzzled to learn of the existence of fat-free half-and-half, which Chad had grabbed unknowingly for the fettucine alfredo; I wouldn't have thought such a thing possible.
We went to the library book sale today, just on a whim, and found ourselves faced with a swarm of literary locusts. It was their bag sale—$2 for a brown paper grocery bag, which you could fill up as you liked—and people were filling those things up like there was no tomorrow. It was kind of heartening, in a way, that so many people wanted books! but it was also frantic and rather claustrophobia-inducing.
We picked up a few random things, and also two hardcover copies of John M. Ford's The Last Hot Time—they had four, which made me sad, so we rescued two of them. sloanesomething, you need one of these; do I have your address somewhere? The other free to whoever asks first.
And then we read in the backyard some more, and I booklogged a bit crankily, and watched an intense episode of Homicide ("A Doll's Eyes"), and now it's time for bed.
It's nice of you to want to feed the wildlife. May I suggest that if that's your actual desire, that you leave out, oh, I don't know, bird seed? Or, if you must leave out people food like Pringles, goldfish crackers, shortbread cookies, corn chips, or the six inch hunk of French bread that my dog ate half of because I couldn't get it all out of her mouth, could you please leave it out of her leash's reach?
Because either she gets mad that I drag her away from the food, or she eats it and then gets sick. And if she throws up this bread she just ate, I am marching down the street and getting you to clean it up.
Very truly yours,
A Deeply Annoyed Dog Owner
My car went in the shop for two days this week (replace all the tires, repair a mis-aligned headlight), and I rented a car from the dealership. On the phone, they told me that they'd give me a Corolla, which was fine since my car is a 2003 Prius, in other words small, and a big car would be awkward.
Instead of a Corolla, they gave me . . . a Scion xB. I think the xB stands for "extra boxy." It looks like someone took a minivan and smushed it down with a rectangular compressor. An unspeakably dorky car—and I swear its dorkiness is an idiot magnet, since people tried to accelerate past me in lanes that were ending in ten feet, stepped out in front of me while I had the green light, all kinds of moronic behavior. (It was extremely sluggish accelerating up to highway speeds, between about 40 and 50 mph, but those weren't the times when people were acting like idiots around me.)
I was very glad to get my cute little car back.
This weekend we did Christmas at my parents' house, driving out Friday night. Saturday morning we saw Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, and in the afternoon and evening I cooked two meat pies and a batch of baked mac & cheese, while listening to football on the living room TV. A good football day, as the Pats shut out the Buccaneers (who are good, unlike the Bills—but I still don't want to hear people talk about them as Super Bowl contenders) and the Giants beat the Chiefs with a record-setting performance from Tiki Barber. The movie was fine, given what it had to work with, and I do think the kids' acting has improved still more; but Hermione's dress was weird, Cedric had really big eyebrows (is this a British notion of attractiveness? Harry has the same thing going), and the ending could have stood thirty seconds' more exposition. The third is probably going to remain the best for the fresh quirky visuals and tight story.
Today my dad's side of the family came down, which was good because it's been a while since I've seen them for a holiday (and it's been years since I saw my step-cousin S.). My baby first-cousin-once-removed is very serious looking but was thrilled by the gift of a "Sit and Spin" toy, so that was very cute. And my parents' dog Truman did his usual crowd-pleasing performance of shredding wrapping paper as people opened their gifts. Then we sleepily drove off, made it safe home to our happy dog (who has already put a hole in the super-tough toy that my parents got her), and got stuff put away. It's going to be another long week at work, I'm afraid, but I'll try to get some Genji in, finish that monster Rent post, and so forth.
I found these dog pictures on my hard drive tonight and uploaded them.
- Two big (350KB) of Emmy in happier times, a.k.a. when we had sun: facing the camera, from the side.
- Demonstrating her mastery of "flop", our version of "play dead" (200KB).
- Most likely watching Chad cook, with the "just one chip?" look on her face (94 KB).
- It's tiring, rucking your pillows all the way across the room while Chad is away (89 KB).
After working relatively late on Wednesday, we headed to Chad's parents to spend the holiday. (Spreading holiday celebrations over two weekends is hard on the dog, but driving ten hours in one weekend is harder on us.) Had a traditional Thanksgiving dinner with Chad's parents and grandmother; some neighbors came over for dessert later. Spent a while working on the 1500-piece jigsaw Christmas puzzle that gets brought every year out on Thanksgiving, thoroughly kinking my neck in the process—not so smart. (I poked at it a bit from time to time after, with somewhat bad effects on my shoulders at the end, but I couldn't stop then!)
On Friday, Chad and I made the rounds of local bookstores, and to my sadness I discovered that it is, in fact, possible to have too many books. The Book Barn of the Finger Lakes is literally a barn; its upstairs (where the genre fiction is) is very poorly lit and not heated at all, and books are double-shelved, piled on top of each other, and stacked precariously all over the place. I could feel myself developing a fine case of claustrophobia to go with the despair that there might be the One Book I needed somewhere in all that, but it was too cold/dark/crowded for me to find it.
It would probably be a lovely place to visit in the spring or fall, possibly with the addition of a flashlight. (Not really the place to look for bargains, though.)
Acquisitions: Gambit by Rex Stout for rysmiel, one of Dunnett's mysteries (I have two from the middle, now, and really should read one of them to make sure I like them before I acquire more), and The Cardinal of the Kremlin as urged by booklog commenters.
After lunch, we stopped in at the Fat Cat in Johnson City, which is still a worthy sf store though it's focusing more on gaming and space for gaming (I can't speak to the quality of their comics selection). In a new development, the Fat Cat now has—cats. Acquisition: the second Exordium book, Ruler of Naught, to find a good home for, either as part of a set that I'm collecting or separately (the books are upstairs and I can't be bothered just now to go check whether I already had a spare of it).
Which reminds me—a query to my readers with PDAs: how and why do you use them, and what are the pros and cons? I see that prices for intro-level units are approaching something I'd pay, and depending on the size and weight I might be interested, but I don't know if I'd really update it any more than the paper notebook and calendar I carry around. Thoughts?
Saturday we went sledding (Chad suggested it, and I think from his tone of voice I was expected to vigorously object to the idea). It wasn't great sledding snow, being powdery and not that deep, but we had a lot of fun. Chad's father's dog, a stocky and energetic Lab, had a great time running down the hill just in front of us (well, Chad did run into him once). Pictures, about 200KB each: Kate and dog, Chad and dog.
Today we left in the morning after Chad helped his dad hang a door. Came home to a happy, well-cared-for Emmy (relieving the non-rational part of my brain, as one of my many anxiety dreams this weekend consisted of the dog sitter not coming all weekend), and now I'm watching the Patriots game (down 16-3 to the Chiefs, it's not looking so good) while Chad dozes on the couch. After the game I'll take the dog for a walk and then go restock on groceries, do laundry, all that fun kind of stuff.