Wednesday, February 24, 2016

A Visiting Friend

Our friend Annette is in town this week for family obligations. Jeff and I met her at Elaine's house. The last time we were all together was when we visited Annette in Baltimore two-and-a-half years ago.

 We hung out, drank some wine and talked. Jeff brought some mango sriracha hummus and crackers, and Elaine made stuffed mushrooms. Later we ordered pizza.

I realized that I've seen Annette--who lives five hours away--more recently than I've seen Elaine--who lives 15 minutes away. There's something weird about that. 

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

A Week (Plus) in the Life

Yesterday marked two months since Spike died. We're still mourning and missing him. I went on a bit of a crying jag the other night after listening to Always and Forever. I used to sing that to Spike.

Last week we had a home visit from a representative from BONES. We've been approved to adopt a beagle; we just have to wait for the right one. We're not quite ready ourselves, but wanted to start the process.

Jeff and I went hiking at Devil's Den on Saturday, when temperatures reached 50 degrees. We used to go there often; one summer we hiked the entire 20 miles of trails. But no dogs are allowed, so we haven't been there in about 15 years. It felt great to be hiking again. The only downside was that the trails were muddier than I expected.

I did a decent amount of work on a long term project that I've been procrastinating about. I was confident about getting the first part finished before I have a meeting about it next week. Then I blew it off this weekend--a perfect time to get some work done. Sigh.

I've been in a bit of a cooking mode lately. We had been in a bit of a dinner menu rut. I found a recipe that sounded great. Lemon Basil Shrimp Risotto. It was my first time making risotto--it was pretty labor intensive and we kept talking about the risotto problems on Top Chef. Unfortunately, we were disappointed. It didn't taste as good as we expected. The previous day I made steak with romesco sauce--that was delicious, and a flank steak chili yesterday. Jeff is thinking of making coq au vin next weekend. I guess the cooking mode is catching. Next weekend we're also going to dinner at a dog park friend's place. She's an excellent cook, and it will be fun to see the gang again.

Spring training has started. In a few weeks, we may catch a game or two on TV. It's funny to hear the Mets referred to as the National League Champions. It wasn't a dream after all.

Sunday, February 14, 2016

The Books on My Nightstand: The Next Generation

In the past month, I skimmed through two books-now they're off the nightstand.

Uppity Women of Ancient Times and Uppity Women of the Renaissance--both by Vicki Leon. Both books offer short bios of 200 women. I figured the short bios would be good "reading before bedtime" choices.

I picked up Ancient Times first. My first reaction was that I hated it. One of the chapters referenced "A Sassy Slave or Two." That bugged. Sassy isn't a good option for a slave. Sassy will get a slave killed. The blurbs on the back of the books describe witty, street-smart prose and laugh-out-loud humor.

I decided I should give the books more of a chance. I skimmed both of them. A few entries were interesting. But overall, I hated the witty, street-smart prose: I found it unwitty and too forced. I never laughed out loud. A good idea, but poor execution--references to KMart, really?

Henry VIII The King and His Court by Alison Weir. This is not exactly a page-turner. It's more of a master list of Henry's palaces, tapestries, duties of his lords. This is another book I'm skimming more than reading, but it's a great resource.

Mary Queen of Scots by Antonia Fraser. I've wanted to read a biography of Mary since I saw the movie of the same name. At one point I bought a book but it only detailed Mary's life in captivity in England. This book is a classic.

Red The History of the Redhead by Jacky Collins Harvey. This was a Christmas gift; I had previously read a description of the book and was intrigued. I hope it meets my expectations.

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. Covey. My neighbor gave me this book a few years ago. Her daughter had given it to her, but she already had a copy. I put this book on the pile out of a sense of duty more than a desire to read it. We'll have to see what happens.

Friday, February 5, 2016

Friday Thoughts

This has been a transitional kind of week. Four of my tutoring students are taking the ACT tomorrow. They got a lucky break because it snowed this morning--enough to cancel the local schools, but the roads were cleared by the afternoon--the test will go on as planned. I had just written about a similar scenario a few weeks ago. I hope my students were able to take advantage of this extra time to prepare.

The other day I looked at my calendar and got a little nervous. I only had three students continuing after Saturday. Then I got two new students. One is a student who I tutored last summer for the ACT. This time, he wants to try the SAT. It's a good sign.

Another good sign: I got approval for a raise request.  I don't know the amount of the increase yet. I'll be surprised if I get my full request, but an increase is definitely good news.