Love

"What would humans be without love? RARE, said Death." ~ Terry Pratchett

Happy Valentine’s Day to you all!

[Quote from Sourcery, by Terry Pratchett, 1988]

(Side note for those who don’t know: Pratchett’s Death always speaks in ALL CAPS.)

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Thankful Thursday 1-5-17

Well, welcome to 2017. In some ways, it’s crazy to be here – 2017 already! I mean, I have a science-fiction book, The Door Into Summer, written in 1957, set in 1970, by Robert Heinlein, in which a man winds up in the far distant and surely fantastic future of 2000. Wherein they have cured the common cold and perfected cryogenics “cold sleep.” How far they thought we should have come by now. Heinlein was right about video calling and house-cleaning robots being commonplace in this time, though. (It’s a good light book, you should read it.) There was a point when 2017 was almost unthinkably far in the future and now it’s here.

But, in other ways, it’s just another year. The days keep marching on, one after another, and the laundry continues not to wash itself. The to-do list expands and shrinks, the weather follows the usual cycle, the pile of “books-to-be-read” is slowly converted into piles of “good enough to keep” and “books-to-rehome;” many things are the same as always.

Children, especially young ones, do tend to change rapidly, though. Which I was reminded of over the week between Christmas and New Years, since I went to visit two of my brothers and their families in the northeast. Much of my list of things to be Thankful for this Thursday reflects that trip and those bright moments caught from the fast-moving streams of their lives. I am Thankful:

  • for safe travels (there and back again… I watched the end of The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King while waiting for midnight on New Year’s Eve, which ends with dear Sam saying “Well, I’m back.”)
  • that, miserable as colds are, I caught mine off the cutest little germ sharer ever – and when she asked me to cuddle up and read to her, you know I wasn’t turning that girl down, stuffy nose or no
  • for the hilarity of watching my oldest nephew S’s contortions with the controller while playing their new MarioKart game – and the fun of playing against my brother, which I haven’t done in years 🙂
  • for enjoying multiple rounds of Go Fish with S – and watching him beat his mother in the Minions Memory game they’d just gotten
  • for a late-night snack of delicious grilled venison backstrap
  • for the way my middle niece C’s face lights up when she gets to hold her favorite chicken (named Bunny, of course 🙂 )

    Decorated gingerbread house with two gingerbread men

    12/31/16

  • for phone calls and picture texts to loop in faraway grandparents
  • for the grin my youngest niece K’s way of saying that perennial childhood orange pasta favorite induces (“mac mac chee!”) 😀 – and the cute little ham she turns into when she gets her hands on a cell phone
  • for the joy of listening to my oldest niece E read aloud to her cousin (the same niece proceeded to beat me at Battle Ship a couple days later – it was a good game)
  • for the fun of assembling a gingerbread house with E (pictured) – I was the icing glue applicator and opinion-giver and she was the candy applicator and design specialist (the blue and white pattern on the roof was her idea. She did the gingerbread men and the front yard all by herself.)
  • for parents thoughtful enough to buy me blackout curtains (in a pretty demure blue) for Christmas, since the maintenance crew upgraded the street lights outside my room to bright LED bulbs

Mac’n’cheese and chickens named Bunny and childhood games will not last; time rolls on and the years turn and children grow. But I am glad I got to be a part of these things for a little while, to add a bright note at the end of my 2016.

I know there are a lot of things going on in the world and a lot happened this past year, on scales large and small; this is not intended to be a typical New Year’s post. For the past several years, I have rung in the New Year with paper and pen and ink, trying to wrap up the year with a nice bow – or at least provide a summary. Some years I’ve been more successful than others, but this is not that. This is just a little slice of happiness, a double-handful of things to be Thankful for, moments I’d like to remember as the days slip into years. Thanks for sharing them with me by reading – and welcome to 2017.

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Thankful Thursday 12-15-16

I had the joy of introducing some co-workers to Dominick the Italian Christmas Donkey today. 🙂 It was preceded by singing vigorously along with “I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas,” since M brought her Bluetooth speaker to make her phone loud enough for the whole kitchen to hear. 🙂 I thoroughly enjoyed myself (we did all agree, though, that “The Christmas Shoes” is just an awful song – not quality-wise, but in being way too heart-wrenching and sad for Christmas.) [Links to YouTube videos with songs and lyrics. If you don’t know the songs, you should definitely check them out – at least the first two. I’m not responsible for anything that gets stuck in your head, though. 🙂 ]

We’ve had quite the swing of temperatures in the last few weeks, but it is indeed “Starting to Feel a Lot Like Christmas.” Perhaps it was that feeling, perhaps it was putting a reminder notification on my phone, but whatever the reason, I have finally managed to sit down and write a Thankful Thursday post. Some of the things below are from bits of Thankful lists I’ve collected over the past two months, some I wrote down just this week. Since it’s been so long, I’m going over my “usual” goal of six items; I figured no one would mind (if I’ve got any readers left with such an inconsistent posting frequency.)

This week, and weeks past, I have been and am thankful:

  • for the ice machine at work – I use it a lot: filling the ice dispenser out front, putting ice in the iced tea, filling the recessed spot in the serving line where the dished up fruit will go, etc. Ironically, I had this on the start of a list from weeks ago, and then on Monday this week, the ice machine went down. It was out of commission for nearly 48 hours by the time the tech got to it – and I got to see something I’ve never seen in my seventeen months at this job: the bottom of the waist-high ice machine bin. Thankfully, it is now functioning correctly, and after running all afternoon (and probably half the night) the bin was beautifully full this morning.
  • for the drain under said ice machine to kick the cubes that jump during the bucket-filling process
  • for a house with no leaks – especially during the storm two months ago with thunder so loud it woke me up at five am
  • for the toddler who gave me a smile when, after a mild scare, she latched onto the nearest set of legs – which did not belong to who she thought they did 🙂
  • for safe transoceanic travel for my parents
  • for aloe for the thumb I burned on the garlic bread pan
  • for a heated mug to warm chilled fingers (with a variety of things in it doing the heating)
  • for chocolate chocolate chip cookies made with Andes Mint chips 😀 (oh, yes, they’re just as delicious as you think)
  • for silly Christmas songs, because they make me smile 😉

So, what about you? Do you know any hilarious Christmas songs? How do you feel about “The Christmas Shoes”? Or mint chocolate chip cookies, for that matter? Do you have anything you’re Thankful for that you’d like to share?

Thanks for reading this far – if I don’t manage to post again before then, have a Merry Christmas!

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Bananagrams Solo

So, I did this for the first time last night:

11/15/16

11/15/16 (click to see larger)

[Learn more about the game Bananagrams here.]
It took me just under an hour and a half to use all the tiles on my own. I started with 21, as per the rules for Bananagrams Solo at the bottom of the little rules sheet, and never took two new tiles without having used all my letters (though I did let myself get away with “hi” twice.)

“Pixie” was the first word – I thought it an ingenious enough use of X that I kept it. I had “flume” for a while, which I liked enough to move and keep when the lower left quadrant got rearranged to accommodate both Zs, but in the end the F was needed elsewhere and the rest of the letters got re-homed. “Fife” was the first word I had to break out the digital dictionary for. I knew it was something besides Sheriff Andy Taylor’s Deputy, but I couldn’t remember what (it’s a small musical instrument.) That one got broken up as well; possibly one of the Fs went to “flume.”

“Prejudice” started out as “ice,” then “juice,” then I had P, R, and E looking for a home, so I stole a D from somewhere and made a nice long word. 🙂 That U in the middle was useful for using up stray consonants until a bigger word needed them (i.e. “hut” or “rub” or…). I’m proud of “lilting,” though I think it’s ironic for it to be followed by “thugs.”

I wound up with no repeated words in the final and only one two letter word that isn’t in a “knot.” Those were rule variations I decided on halfway through when I saw how the puzzle was going. That did make using my last draw a bit more of a challenge, but I scrounged an R from somewhere and “area” became the final word. [EDIT: argh, there is a repeat! Can you find it?]

It was quite satisfying to sit back and look at the finished product and I enjoyed my word-nerd self. 🙂 Maybe next time I’ll have to try for no two letter words in the final at all…

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Thankful Thursday 9-8-16

So, the Olympics happened. 🙂 I actually got a notebook and journaled most nights as I was watching, just for fun. I have a notebook from the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics – which I actually haven’t read most of since the day I wrote it. I did find it on a recent trip to my storage unit, so I’m planning to read it soon. Maybe I’ll read the two notebooks together…

In the back of some other notebook somewhere in storage I’ve got some notes on the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics and I’ve got some loose leaf/ scrap paper notes on the 2012 London Summer Olympics, also somewhere (again, neither of which I’ve re-read, but it might be fun to consolidate them all into an Olympics Collection someday.) Which is what gave me the idea to get a dedicated notebook for Sochi, which was fun to do. I enjoy playing with the words and trying to capture the feelings as they happen. I didn’t want to pay for a new notebook for Rio, so this time the Olympics are in with some other stuff – the 2016 Oscars, a conference I went to, “things to know” about where I was house-siting, etc. Perhaps I’ll go through it and pull out some of the good bits to put here, just for kicks.

Anyway, that was a lot of fun, a lot of intense, awesome moments (I enjoyed texting with my sister-in-law C during live swimming one night, too, and sharing the intensity. 🙂 ) But they are over and life has rolled on – it’s been quite different for those who came home with medals (and what an incredible haul Team USA had!), but pretty much the same for the rest of us. In the mundanity of this past week, there have still been a variety of things to be thankful for. In no particular order, I am thankful:

  • for finding my little tin box from Christmas tucked away in the pantry where I’d put it when cleaning off counters a few months ago and forgotten it. Not for the box itself, necessarily, but because it still has a half dozen mint truffle chocolates in it. 🙂
  • for the satisfaction of checking things off a to-do list (am I the only one who will add something I’ve done that wasn’t on the list, just so I can cross it off?)
  • for these cool flowers, a trio of which have popped up in our flower bed after the rain woke them up a few weeks ago. The picture is a top down shot, so you can’t see that there’s no leaves (those in the picture are from irises also in the bed), there’s just a bulb that hides underground and then sends up one long green stalk that explodes like a floral firework on the end.

    Multi-headed red flower with long thin bits sticking out

    09/06/16

  • for the way a new book smells (used/old books smell good too, but quite different) – which, this time, is combined with the pleasure of having used a good coupon well. I got Suzanne Collins’ Hunger Games in Spanish (Los Juegos Del Hambre) for 40% off thanks to a Labor Day coupon. I already have the entire trilogy in English (and have seen all four movies) and decided that picking a story I’m already familiar with would be a good idea for my first attempt at a full length novel in another language.
  • for Google Translate, even with the faults inherent to machine translation, for looking up the words in Los Juegos Del Hambre that I don’t know. It’s a bit brain-stretchy so far, but good – and certainly good for expanding my vocabulary list. 🙂
  • for that Chipotle Tabasco sauce we got for free a while back – because I just added a slug of it to some slightly boring salsa that I ran through the blender (to reduce chunks) and now the salsa is awesome. 🙂

On a completely different note, the Rio Paralympics had their opening ceremony yesterday. But they are only being broadcast on one of NBC’s networks, which I don’t get with the bunny ears. They are saying it’s a step up in coverage, since the London Paralympics apparently were barely covered at all here, but it’s still nothing like the attention the Olympics get, which is unfair. It is supposedly available online, so I may see if I can find some to watch there. Do any of you, readers, follow the Paralympics?

Okay, my laundry has just finished in the dryer, so I’d better quit rambling and go. As always, though, please feel free to share anything you’ve been thankful for this week or in recent weeks. More thankfulness is always better. 🙂

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Thankful Thursday 8-12-16

The Olympics! Ack! 😀

We have bunny ears for the TV, so I only get what’s broadcast on the main NBC channel, and since I work during the day, I only watch Prime Time. I actually even stopped watching the news, because the anchor said something the other day about “we’re not going to give you any results that haven’t already been widely reported …” and then proceeded to tell me who won the women’s gymnastics team gold, which I hadn’t seen yet. 😛

How about that Michael Phelps, though, huh? Just like everyone else, when he showed up at the Olympic trials, I wondered if he really still had it. Sometimes people keep going when they should quit. He’s been incredible, though. And when you think about the fact that he’s to the point where he’s setting records for “oldest swimmer to __”, it gets even crazier.

Ok, back to the point of this post, things to be thankful for. This week, I am thankful:

  • for people talented enough to be in the Olympics, which makes it fun to watchRio_2016_logo
  • that I am not one of them – it takes a lot of hard work to get there, which I have no urge to put in. Plus, there’s what happened those road race cyclists on Days 1 & 2 – no thank you.
  • that I can even watch these Olympics in the comfort of my own home. For Sochi 2014, the bunny ears I bought got me nothing but PBS because I was too far from the big cities, so I wound up getting my TV anyplace I could scavenge it: the landlady of the apartment complex, the work out room in the basement of the company guest house, the sports bar down the street (which, incidentally, had delicious strawberry smoothies, I discovered.)
  • for the fun of having other people at work who watch too, so we can discuss the craziness
  • for the chance that we might break our 100 degree (38 C) days streak tomorrow or the next day
  • and that there might even be rain

There’s a bit more swimming – two more finals for Michael Phelps (plus, y’know, lots of other people 😛 ) – and the individual events in gymnastics, which should be fun. But tonight the track and field starts – and tomorrow, Usain Bolt. 😀

Watching it this way means I’m only getting what NBC has chosen to put in Prime Time, so I haven’t seen any of the soccer games or the rugby (though I heard about Fiji and the rugby sevens 🙂 ) or the golf (sorry, Dad) or the equestrian. I may look them up online at some point, but the problem with doing that is then I risk seeing results for something I want to see that was taped during the day that they’ll be showing in the evening (like gymnastics.) Besides, Prime Time fits nicely between dinner and bed, with not too much room for other things (don’t worry Mom, I’ve been doing the dishes on commercials. 🙂 )

Anyway, enough rambling for the week. What about you, Olympics fan, or no? Do you have a sport you’re following closely? Anything not having to do with international sporting competition you’re thankful for this week? 🙂 Please, share!

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