The Multi-Tasker: Resuming DIVERGENT

Very exciting doings in self’s life:  yesterday, she had just dropped off her car at the mechanic (It failed the smog test, boo) and was finally sitting down to dinner when she heard — or rather, felt — this awful hard thing pop out of her mouth.  She looked in dismay at her hand:  she was holding a tooth.  A tooth!  A tooth!  A tooth!  And she hasn’t even finished paying for two implants she had done a year ago!

She called the dentist and the dentist said, Can you come over right now?  And self said:  I can’t.  My car’s in the shop.

Make no mistake, the part of her mouth that once held the wayward tooth hurts.  Throbs.  Self wonders if she can survive the weekend.  She decides to douse herself with vodka.  No, brandy!  Good thing she just came from Costco and bought a huge bottle of brandy for $13.99!  That was very forward-thinking, self!

Dr. Oz is on TV. Which makes self feel twinges of guilt for not trying harder to look for her high-cholesterol medication.  She thought she packed it in the bag for Seattle, but when she arrived at her destination, it wasn’t anywhere. Then she got so distracted, she never bothered ordering a refill, so it’s about two weeks since she’s taken anything. And yesterday, when she saw her doctor, she told him she was going to be in Ireland in May, and he said she should have her cholesterol checked before she leaves, and then self remembered that if she doesn’t resume her medication, her cholesterol will be high.  So she told the doctor she’d get back on the medication, and stay on it, and then — after a month, say — she’d have the blood test.  And he just looked at her and self could practically read his mind:  I am so tired of this woman.

Anyhoo, Dr. Oz is on TV, and self was perusing the Clarkesworld Magazine website because, as dear blog readers well know, science fiction is her new “thing.”

Oh, there have been scattered forays here and there:  her ZYZZYVA story, “Extinction,” and her New Orleans Review story, “Thing.”  Her “Isa” story on Eunoia Review.  But lately, she’s been having sustained bouts of science fiction writing, and she loves it.  Loves it, loves it, loves it.  In her stories, her characters can be green or blue, scaly or moss-covered, six-eyed or blobb-y.  They don’t need to be attractive in the human sense.  In fact, they’re mostly physically repellent.  What does this mean.

SPOILER ALERT!

She’s also reading Divergent (at a snail’s pace).  There was some nail-biting tension in Chapter 5, because Beatrice slashed her hand and let the blood drip over — not glass, not earth, not water — is there anything else?  Self, you dolt!  You’d better go back over the chapter and read from the beginning!

Beatrice’s blood falls on coals.

Coals.

Which means she has chosen —  self draws a blank.

She has to read into Chapter Six to learn that “coals” represent Dauntless.

Just before it is her turn to choose, Beatrice goes over her decision to remain in her parents’ faction, Abnegation (which means she will have to help her parents clean up after everyone else has left the room, how exciting):  “I can see it now . . .  I watch myself grow into a woman in Abnegation robes . . .  volunteering on the weekends, the peace of routine, the quiet nights spent in front of the fireplace, the certainty that I will be safe, and if not good enough, better than I am now.”

Self was just beginning to think how someone in Abnegation would be an extremely boring character to stick with for a 500-page novel when, of course!  She chooses something else.

It’s just like the moment when Katniss decides to shoot an arrow straight up into the force field dome, instead of into Finnick’s gorgeous face!  Totally unexpected and —  AARRGH!

Anyhoo, our plucky Beatrice chooses the Dauntless faction, and pretty soon we learn that she is so much shorter than everyone else in Dauntless because she can’t see past their shoulders.  Good thing the factions don’t have a height requirement.

But perhaps that’s precisely Veronica Roth’s point:  Short people can be dauntless, too!  Height, after all, is not a requirement for bravery!  Yay!  There’s still hope for self, who The Man opined is two inches shorter now than she was when he first met her, in grad school (She did ask her doctor about this, BTW, and it only seemed to exacerbate his exasperation.  Basically, his response was:  “Do your care?” Self’s response:  “Only if it means I’m getting hunchbacked!” At which the doctor just shook his head.)

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

What She’s Reading, New Year’s Eve (2013)

Henry M. Stanley:

“The ascent of the ridge was rugged and steep, thorns of the prickliest nature punished us severely, the acacia horrida was here more horrid than usual, the gums stretched out their branches, and entangled the loads, the mimosa with its umbrella-like top served to shade us from the sun, but impeded a rapid advance.  Steep outcrops of syenite and granite, worn smooth by many feet, had to be climbed over, rugged terraces of earth and rock had to be ascended, and distant shots resounding through the forest added to the alarm and general discontent, and had I not been immediately behind my caravan, watchful of every maneuver, my Wanyamwezi had deserted to a man.”

—  How I Found Livingstone in Central Africa, Chapter VII (“Through Marenga Mkali, Ugogo, and Uyanzi, to Unyanyembe”)

Why does self keep thinking of THE ARENA?  Is it Stanley or Peeta/Katniss traversing those rocks and . . .

Self, get a grip!

Ding Dong!  When is that Times Square ball really going to start coming down?  And is Miley part of the show?  And why did Britney Spears almost fall out of her dress during a concert in Vegas?  And what is this new animated show that uses the voices of Armie Hammer and Teri Hatcher?  And why is Jessica Lange so funny when she sings Banana Fana in that American Horror Story episode?  And how come self only seems to watch The Good Wife when she is in Bacolod? And why can The Man never manage to help self find a single episode of Sherlock Holmes, the one with Benedict Cumberbatch?  And will Peter Jackson ever find a new project that doesn’t involve dwarves, hobbits, elves, or orcs (not that self minds, really)?  And will Charlie Hunnam have cause to regret that he backed out of Fifty Shades of Grey because it interfered with the schedule, he said, of Sons of Anarchy?  And what will J-Law look like in 20 years?  And will self still be alive then?  And won’t it be depressing to see J-Law middle-aged? (It most definitely will).

Self never made it to the post office today, but she did make it to Costco (for that most important sleep aid, Benadryl).  There were many unruly carts going this way and that.  People, self felt like saying, what good does it do to rush about like that, when in the end you will still have to wait in line at the checkout?  But, the holidays seem to bring out the most aggressive Costco shoppers, self knows not why.  Well, at least self managed to replenish her supply of Martinelli’s Sparkling Cider!

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

First Post-Venice Costco Run

Ah, Costco.  It is such a crucial part of self’s life.  Even though she has a wee family, which at the moment consists only of The Man and self, she insists on her right to make Coscto runs and purchase those huge packages of paper towels and bath tissue.  Today, she ended up buying a lot of foodstuff, in addition, of course, to her trusty Benadryl (Incidentally, why did Costco stop carrying the 148-pill bottles of Benadryl?  It is so inconvenient for self to have to cut up all those pills from the foil backing.  It takes her so much time, time which would have been better spent reading her book!).  She bought chicken thighs and a 25-lb. bag of Blue Ribbon long grain rice, and headless Tiger Prawns.

Speaking of Costco chicken, the chicken tenderloins she cooked today had absolutely no taste, and self had to drench in Ponzu sauce.  What kind of chicken has NO TASTE?  Even after being marinated?

Self is still reading Little Heathens:  High Spirits and Hard Times on an Iowa Farm During the Great Depression.  Even though this is a very short book (just under 300 pages), and self began reading it almost a week ago, she is still only a third of the way through.

Self is on a chapter called “Medicine.”  In this chapter, we learn that living on an Iowa farm exposes one to injuries of all types, injuries such as:

cuts from axes and knives

stone bruises caused by bare feet on rocks

oozing scrapes

splinters

blood poisoning

pinkeye/ chicken pox/ measles/ mumps

warts

And, here, the author, Mildred Armstrong Kalish, describes a remedy for cuts:

We just went to the barn or the corncrib, found a spiderweb, and wrapped the stretchy filament around the wound.  It stopped the bleeding and the pain, and was thought to have antiseptic qualities.  Generally, healing occurred without further attention.

The only thing that self doesn’t like about this book is that she has no idea how much time is passing —  how old is the narrator when she applies her first spiderweb remedy?  How often did she or her family have to resort to the Vaseline, lard, baking soda, boric acid, salt, camphor, and other homespun remedies for mishaps such as stepping on a nail or on some broken glass?

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

Post-Philippines Day 2

Today self went to Costco and purchased garbanzo beans.

Why?  Because that was on an old grocery list she doesn’t even remember writing, but which she dredged up from her desk drawer yesterday.  She has no idea what she wanted the garbanzo beans for.  A Mexican chipotle dish?  To mix with salad greens?

She also bought Benadryl, which she uses to help tame her insomnia.  And Salonpas, for an extremely stiff neck.

She drove hubby to the office —  thankfully, not at his usual departure time of 5 a.m.  But she did wake up early anyway:  the dogs were whining to be fed.

She’s begun reading back issues of Vanity Fair.  There are four issues still wrapped in plastic:  November and December 2010, and January and February 2011.  The March 2011 (the annual Hollywood issue, this one with Ryan Reynolds, Jake Gyllenhaal, Anne Hathaway, and James Franco on the cover) arrived just today.  In the October 2010 issue, the one with Lindsay Lohan on the cover, which she was halfway through when she left in January, she learns that “The Killers” front man, Brandon Flowers, has issued a solo album.  She skips all the usual chit-chat about new perfume launches and “in” restaurants.

This morning, self saw that a tree in the yard of the neighbor directly across the street is absolutely covered in white blooms, and that the yellow Rabble Rouser rose bush by her front door is also blooming.  It feels like spring.

She tried, for the third or fourth time, to reach Dearest Mum.  As usual, she was out.  She’s been sleeping at Jun’s, the maid said.

Aside from this, there is no news about either the Philippines or Bacolod:  it’s as though the people self spent so much time with,  just a week ago, have simply vanished —  poof!  No Big House, No Ida, No L’Fisher Chalet, No Manang Elenita or Manong Genray or Manang Marilou or Mae.  No Lacson Street with the red Chinese lanterns.  No Ecology townhouses.  No Zack.

Oh, wait, there is something:  this nasty nasty cough, a last, stubborn souvenir of her trip.  A mere tickle at the back of her throat during her last days in Manila, it bloomed, finally, on the plane home.  Yesterday, when she spent most of her time driving hubby all over the place, it smote her down and kept her up half the night.

Oh Gods of Sleep, please let self have some rest tonight.  So that she can awaken bright-eyed and bushy-tailed and ready for work tomorrow.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

Zeitgeist, Redwood City, October 2010

Hubby is cleaning the tub.

Is that not a wondrous spouse, someone who cares so much about tidiness and cleanliness?

Self is one lucky woman.

So, where have we arrived at, in the month of Halloween, only a few months left before Christmas (and Costco already full of Christmas card displays and what not)?

Self did get to catch one of the debates:  the one between Jerry Brown and Meg Whitman.  And, on the basis of that debate, she has decided to vote for Jerry Brown.  She can’t honestly bring herself to vote for a woman who has rarely, herself, ever voted.  And who thinks one day spent on the border is enough of a backgrounder on the immigration issues that beset this state.

Hubby was leaning towards Meg, but self told him he better not.  We are both registered Democrats, how can we vote against our own party?

Besides, Brown is looking very spry for his age.

Gracie has a list when she walks.  Self returned from New York, and the poor li’l crit was lame.  Self glared suspiciously at hubby, and he swore he had nothing to do with it.  She just presented with a lame leg as if by magic.  And self took Gracie to her regular groomer, and the groomer felt around and said that she didn’t think Gracie had a broken joint or anything like that.

But she is definitely not herself:  panting excessively, etc.

Both of self’s beagles are old.

Costco had no lines.

Where is this state going?

Are people just going to keep getting meaner and meaner?

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

What We Did Today, the 2nd Saturday of March 2010

We saw “Green Zone” in the downtown Century 20. Self wanted to see “Brooklyn’s Finest,” as that movie garnered a B from Eric Snider, and “Green Zone” only got a C+. But as self wished to forestall putting hubby in a bad mood for the rest of the weekend (seeing as how his start-up is about to go belly-up), she gave in (again), and we saw “Green Zone.”

Self fell asleep! Amazing! In spite of the almost relentless use of the famous Greengrass shaky-cam technique! And the topical (Iraq) subject matter!

But, you see, the topic of the missing WMDs had been touched on already (and much more cleverly) in “The Ghost Writer.” And self has already eperienced the ne plus ultra of Iraq movies in “The Hurt Locker.” So she does agree with Eric Snider’s C+ rating of “Green Zone.”

Then we did our usual meandering around Redwood City. First, Costco. Since this was hubby’s first time in Costco in years, he was extraordinarily interested in everything. So, even though, when we entered, there were non-existent lines, by the time we had wandered through the electronics section and the housewares section and the frozen foods section and the vitamins section, the lines had gotten quite a bit longer. Also, there was a six-quart crockpot in self’s cart.

Now, what would self need a six-quart crockpot for? Especially as she is only cooking for herself and hubby, never entertains any visitors (Even when Dearest Mum visits, she prefers to stay with aunt in Daly City), and besides is supposed to be on a diet? Self knows not, but the crockpot did make it through the check-out line, as did a pack of eight porkchops, a huge bottle of J & B whiskey (only $19.99!), and three chubs of butter.

Then hubby insisted on stopping for coffee at Peet’s on Broadway (No weekend is complete, in hubby’s mind, unless he can imbibe white chocolate moccha at Peet’s on a Saturday or Sunday afternoon), and self wandered over to German House to look at bottles of German mustard and sauerkraut, and just as she finished paying for a Ritter White Chocolate Bar with Whole Hazelnuts (Yummy yummy!), hubby popped up with his coffee, and together we walked to a gallery and looked at some beautiful paintings of the foothills and the Half Moon Bay Reservoir, and the painter himself happened to be right there, sitting at his easel, so we chatted, and self told the artist that she loved the rough brush strokes he used for his bushes.

Then we went home. And self was quite itchy to start planting something, so she decided to begin with an azalea “Red Ruffles.” And while she dug the hole, hubby decided to walk the li’l crits. And soon it became clear that our neighbors across the street were having some type of family gathering, for many people dressed in nice pantsuits were walking up their driveway, bearing trays of cake and bottles of wine. And the weather was absolutely gorgeous, which made up considerably for yesterday’s misery.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers, stay tuned.

Currently Reading: Alexandra Fuller

It is three days before Christmas. Self is settled on the couch, reading Alexandra Fuller’s memoir of growing up in Rhodesia/Zimbabwe, Don’t Let’s Go to the Dogs Tonight. This is a wonderful, exceedingly wonderful book. Self could lose herself in it all day.

It is cold. So cold that both li’l crits have their noses buried deep into their pillows.

Son says he is staying until right after New Year’s (Self prays he doesn’t change his mind!) Even if son did nothing but sleep at home, self would be happy, but last night he had dinner at home. Self was seized with energy and prepared a whole rack of marinated grilled pork spare ribs but noticed that son was eating with somewhat Read the rest of this entry »

Only Five More Days!

Angel (Made in the Philippines)

Read the rest of this entry »

Book Recommendations From (Gulp) Costco?!

Self aimlessly pawing through her pile of stuff this morning.  She got five hours sleep, which is great.  Somewhere near the top of her pile is the June 2009 issue of the Costco magazine, which lately self has found to make for some pretty interesting reading.

Here, for instance, are some of the “Book Buyer’s Picks”:

Shogun, by James Clavell (!!@):  in new release, with an updated cover.  Self was crazy about this book in high school.  So was Dear Departed Dad.  For some reason, he identified with Buntaro, the ugly samurai who is married to the beautiful and cultured Mariko.

The Strain, by Guillermo del Toro and Chuck Hogan:  Self wonders if the co-author listed as “Guillermo del Toro” is the same guy who directed the “Hellboy” movies?  Well, she loved those.  Let’s give this book a gander.  The plot is described thus:  ” …  an airplane lands at JFK, goes black and later all of the passengers are found dead with no physical evidence of the cause.”  Self thinks there are some vague and ambiguous passages in the above, as she isn’t sure what “goes black” :  the plane?  JFK?  Whatever.  Self loves to go for “dark” in fiction.  Sold!

America’s Best Lost Recipes:  121 Heirloom Recipes Too Good to Forget, from the editors at Cook’s Country Magazine:  “I took one look at the picture of the grand prize-winning Peach Puzzle and knew this was a cookbook unlike any other.”  Contains recipes for such exotica as Corn Dodgers, Summer Squash Soufflé, and Poor Boy Stroganoff.  Sold!

There is also a section in the magazine for “DVD Buyer’s Picks.”  And here they are:

  • Gran Torino:  supposedly Clint’s last movie
  • Inkheart:  starring Brendan Fraser.  ‘Nuff said.
  • Defiance:  David Denby of The New Yorker absolutely loved this one.  And Netflix doesn’t say when self will be able to get her hands on it.
  • The Pink Panther 2:  “Classic antics abound.”

Stay tuned, dear blog readers, stay tuned.

Campbell’s Easy Chicken Pot Pie

Last night, self made menudo (Using Memories of Philippine Kitchens, but substituting canned tomatoes for the fresh called for in recipe —  apologies oh esteemed chefs Amy Besa and Romy Dorotan!) and the result was pretty good, if self says so herself.

The night before, self made a pasta dish out of fettucine noodles, fresh tomatoes, fresh Italian parsley, fresh oregano (from her garden) and dollops of olive oil and sea salt.  Dee-lish!

So now self is trying to plan what to cook for tonight, and also for Saturday, when her Half Moon Bay Gourmet Club meets, and she has to think of something that goes with champagne, crostini, cream of asparagus soup, and scallops.  She was going to bring pasta, but at the last minute found a recipe for creamy clam chowder that looks good, and maybe people will not mind having two soups on the menu . . .

But for tonight, self consulted http://www.campbellkitchen.com, and from there clicked on Savings Center, and from there clicked on “Best Budget-Friendly Meals,” and let her mind rove over Swanson Hearty Lasagna Soup, and Campbell’s Easy Chicken Pot Pie, and . . .

Easy Chicken Pot Pie!  Did self not catch sight of several frozen ready-to-serve chicken pot pies in the freezer at Costco, just the other week?  Perfect!  Now all self has to do is mosey over to the Mountain View Costco!

Stay tuned, dear blog readers, stay tuned.

*   *   *

3:13 p.m. :  Self has returned from Costco.  There she found a most delectable looking item in the frozen foods section:  No, Read the rest of this entry »

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