Alaska!

17 Jul 2016 10:33 am
feuervogel: photo of the statue of Victory and her chariot on the Brandenburg Gate (Default)
We had a great trip to Alaska. All flights were uneventful, and we successfully got on the boat at the appointed time. The scopolamine patch worked, and I learned that "wash the area after removal" doesn't mean "scrub it hard with a soapy rag," because that made a nasty, red, itchy spot that made it hard to place patch 3 (you alternate sides).

The weather was gorgeous most of the time--unusually sunny and warm. It was super cold when we had a small craft trip to look up close at a glacier, but that's to be expected.

And wildlife! So much wildlife. We were awakened by the leader at like 6:15 the first day because there were whales off the bow, so I bundled up for wind and cold and grabbed my camera and went out to see whales. There were whales like every morning. There were also brown bears with cubs, which were awesome. And we saw sea lions, sea otters, river otters, seals, puffins, and about a million bald eagles. Other people saw porpoises, but I missed them. Oh, and RAVENS. Lots of ravens.

Here are the photos I took with my phone. I took a bunch on the real camera, which has a wrist strap and optical zoom, mostly when we were in a small boat super close to the water. (I drop my phone a lot.) I need to pick the best from those and add them. Sometime...

We started in Juneau, visited Mendenhall Glacier, got on the boat, then went through the inside passage to Dawes Glacier, Petersburg, Elfin Cove, Glacier Bay NP, some Narrows, and other places, and ended in Sitka. They gave us a little map, and I drew the route on it. They had a laminated one they drew on every day.
feuervogel: (group hug)
We didn't get to SF as planned very late Monday night because our plane had a maintenance flag, which resulted in a 2-hour delay. We could have gone home and rebooked for a Tuesday AM flight, but going to Atlanta (and staying in a hotel on Delta's dime) meant we could get an earlier flight to SF. So we did that.

Tuesday we went to lunch with Mo & Enne, and we went shoe shopping, where I tried on the Vivs at the Fluevog shop, and now I really hope Santa brings me some shoe money. Then we BARTed over to Oakland, got dinner with Robynne & Starchy, then I tried on about a million bras at Robynne's shop (bought one). After that, we thought about going out to a tiki bar, but sitting down felt really good, so we had mixed drinks at home instead. I had a de la Louisienne, which is rye, Benedictine, vermouth, and Peychaud's. It was pretty awesome.

Wednesday I met several of my VP classmates for lunch, which was nice. I hadn't seen any of them since VP, and I missed them. I miss talking about writer stuff. After that, we went back to R's for our stuff, then took BART to a station where Ben's parents picked us up & dropped us off at our B&B. Dinner was at a Vietnamese place called Tamarine. I had a squash & sweet potato curry which was lovely.

Thursday we didn't do much until dinner, which was around 3:30 or 4. Ben's brother & his wife (and her parents--this was a packed house) made dinner. Ben's mom had Christmas, which was a bit excessive IMO. (Too many presents. Too many stocking stuffers. I don't need more Stuff! I need LESS!)

Friday we went for a walk at a nature preserve in Mountain View then had lunch. Ben and I went to Adam, Alexander, and Rachel's. We played a round of Sentinels of the Universe (where we ALMOST WON but the environment killed us a lot) then went up to Vynce's to hang out and play more games.

Our trip home was entirely uneventful.

Luna is sick and not really getting better. She doesn't have much of an appetite, and trying to convince her to eat is difficult. She's lost more weight since we were gone. She still loves Cheetos, though. IDK. CATS.
feuervogel: photo of the statue of Victory and her chariot on the Brandenburg Gate (Default)
The trip out to Orcas Island was arduous. I got up around 4 am to shower and get the last of my things packed and do physiotherapy before heading off to RDU for our 8:25 am flight to Atlanta. We got to the park & ride lot around 6:15, then arrived at the terminal with plenty of time to spare, considering the dearth of people lined up for security.

I slept most of the way to Atlanta, where our connecting gate was right beside our arrival gate. Yay! I rewrote my grad school statement of purpose and revised a short story on the flight to Seattle. (I also took a nap.)

We landed in Seattle at 1:25 local time, and we met up with one of the bride's friends who needed a ride to the resort. (There was a tight shuttle connection.) So we picked up the car, stopped at Taco Bell, and drove a little over 2 hours to Anacortes to get the ferry, which departed at 7:20 pm. (We waited about an hour iirc. An aunt and uncle were there, and one of the groom's childhood friends showed up, so we had a merry little party.) Then the ferry took an hour to get to the island, after which we drove to the opposite side of the horseshoe-shaped island, arriving on site around 9 pm local time. I had to drag Ben away from the people hanging out & chatting with his brother and such. We finally got to sleep around 10. That was a fucking long day.

So anyway, Doe Bay resort is nice, in a really pretty spot, and not too far from some state parks where you can do various levels of adventure walking. We had a little more time to spend at Obstruction Pass than Moran, though the view from Mt Constitution was pretty rad. We got to spend some time with one of Ben's cousins, her husband, and their (12-year-old!) daughter. And some other cousins who have no children. And aunts and uncles and friends of the happy couple and all that kind of thing.

Because of ferry timing, we couldn't stay past midday Sunday, following a brunch that lasted two hours and made me feel very hobbit-like. So we drove down to Seattle and stayed in a hotel near the airport, then had dinner with some Carolina friends who live out there now.

Our flight back east left at like 8:15 am, and various forces conspired against us getting food at anything resembling reasonable prices. The US Open was over, so the line for security was absurd, and we stood in it for the better part of an hour, so by the time we made our gate, we could pee and fill our water bottles, and that was about it. Which forced us to spend $obscene on the pay-as-you-go in-flight food. Then we had to do the same on the ground in Atlanta, because this time, our connection was 2 concourses away. Fun!

If you're in my G+ circles, you should be able to see this album.

And now I'm home until July 9, when I go off to Readercon. After that, my next travel isn't until Labor Day weekend (Dragoncon).

Hi, bye

17 Jun 2015 01:32 pm
feuervogel: photo of the statue of Victory and her chariot on the Brandenburg Gate (Default)
Finished sorting all the things from Shatterdome ATL 2 (jaeger boogaloo) and repacking things for Ben's brother's wedding, for which we will be traveling longer than it takes to get to Europe yet not leaving the country.

The wedding is on Orcas Island, which is a 2-hour ferry from somewhere in the Seattle area, and the ferry station is a 2-3 hour drive from the airport. Then we have to get from the ferry to the resort. I seriously do not understand how anyone can live on a remote-ass place like that. I feel isolated in my semi-suburban town on the edge of a moderate metropolitan area.

So we're leaving here at 8:25 am and getting to Seattle at 1:25 pm local, then our ferry leaves at 7:20 or something. At least we'll have time to pick up some food for lunch-dinner when we get there. We only need to be at the ferry port 90 minutes beforehand.

What I have left to do today is clean the cats' water fountain and paint my nails. Then I need to pack my toiletries and other carry-on things in the morning.

Also, I registered for class at UNC this fall, where I'm taking Russian 101. Whee! I can get 2 semesters in before I start at UGA (if I'm accepted). ... I need to work on my application materials, but I'll do that after I get back from the wedding.
feuervogel: photo of the statue of Victory and her chariot on the Brandenburg Gate (Default)
Whoops.

Uh, let's see. I rewrote the fucking novel again, and it's off at beta readers'. One already got it back to me, but I'm not looking at comments until next month. I'm Not Dealing With It right now so I can do other things.

I'm about 3/4 of the way through the beginning conversation class. Some of my students are more comfortable with unknown words and global reading than others, so what I need to do is figure out how to convince them that knowing every single word isn't important, so they should look for keywords.

Another teacher suggested having them highlight all the things they do recognize, then looking up a limited number of unknown words, so they a) focus on how much they already know and b) don't get hung up on every single word.

It's about time to gauge interest in the next class, so we'll see if I have another class coming up. Though it'll get into summer and the travel season, and I'm going to have to miss half of June anyway... I don't know how that works here.

Convention planning continues apace. The Shatterdome has a full complement of artists for artists alley, but we're always looking for a few good panelists.

Uh, what else? There's a huge mess surrounding this year's Hugo awards, and I don't feel like writing about it here.

I'm still trying to make a #&%!^*%# sale of short fiction. I've gotten some helpful personal rejections (and some total forms), but apparently I'm not hitting the right editor at the right time. I'm thinking about making them into an ebook and selling them on amazon and ebooks.com and smashwords, either individually or as a collection. IDK.

My sister's baby is 2 months old. She thinks she looks like baby pictures of me. All I can tell is that it is a small human with a round, bald head. I am nervous about going home to visit, because there may be expectations of cooing and holding.
feuervogel: (beautiful family)
My mother is more excited about my sister's new baby (Clara Rose, born just before midnight last night) than about me getting a doctoral degree.

To be fair, she is also more excited about my sister's new baby than my sister's college degree or any of her achievements in theater.

Not that that makes it a whole lot better, really. It just makes it less about me and more about my mom only valuing baby baby baby.
feuervogel: (beautiful family)
My mom's family has a get-together every year around Christmas. This time it was combined with a baby shower for my sister, who's due in February.

Ben and I drove up on Friday and stayed with my aunt and uncle who were hosting the party. They were having friends over that night, so we hung out with their friends and drank fancy tequila and played pinball. This one was my favorite.

Saturday we went out to play Ingress a bit (get some unique hacks, at any rate, and captured a couple). It was a lovely nostalgic walk from the house I lived in from ages 10-16 to downtown. We walked past the creek I played in, the covered bridge, my high school, even my elementary school. My home town has a lot more fancy stuff than it used to, more ethnic restaurants and even an Islamic center, but I couldn't live there again, ever.

Mom came to her brother's house that afternoon, and I showed her pictures from Berlin, then we ate dinner and sat around talking a while, playing more pinball and Scattergories. And drinking. (Except mom, she doesn't drink.) Mom got kinda mad when I was doing well, "She's thinking outside the box!" Um, that's kind of how you win at Scattergories...

(She wouldn't accept Slavic Studies as a college major starting with S (because she'd never heard of it), but she didn't protest Proto-Indo-European as a language starting with P. It was the first one that popped into my head, I swear.)

My sister's shower was more about mom than my sister. She's wanted a grandchild since I got married almost 15 years ago, and now my sister is finally doing her duty as a grandchild dispenser. There were a loooot of presents, and mom made my aunt make cupcakes and set up more snacks downstairs where the shower was (which nobody ate because there was ample food from the potluck...) and there were games (which my sister hadn't even wanted really). My sister looked uncomfortable at the quantity of presents.

My sister liked the blanket I crocheted her, so I'm happy with that. Grandma made the baby a quilt. A bunch of people chipped in to get some sort of cloth diaper system (apparently they're "systems" now), which was about 10 packages.

There was a lot of gender normativity flying around, plus all the squeeing over baby booties (I don't get it). Stuff with adorable baby animals on, OK. She got a onesie with a penguin or something, which is pretty cute. But booties? idgi.

After everyone left, we helped clean up then watched a bunch of HGTV shows (which mostly made me want to punch the people buying the houses).

My uncle turned his grandfather's home movies into DVDs (by aiming a digital camera at the screen while running the projector), so we watched some of that (this was before the party). One of them was the European vacation he took around the time my grandpa's brother was stationed in Germany again (according to grandpa, this was around 1975 because Jack left in 76.) My uncle didn't know where all he went, and there aren't really labels or anything, so we're watching and trying to guess where they are. Switzerland because of a flag, then the Alps, then some more stuff, and then there's the Kaiser Wilhelm Gedächtniskirche. So I told him I needed a copy of it, and he said he'd make me one.

He also told me that his grandfather/my great-grandfather went back to Germany in the late 30s to visit family and was detained on his way out, for reasons that are unclear. One of his relatives (a cousin, possibly) smoothed things over and got him released. He was apparently an officer in the SS. (This isn't terribly surprising.)
feuervogel: (beautiful family)
I wrote a post about emotional performativity on tumblr, inspired by interactions with Ben's parents this weekend.
feuervogel: photo of the statue of Victory and her chariot on the Brandenburg Gate (Default)
Thanks, everyone, for your input on the blanket situation! My mom says I can go ahead and pick something out, because blankets are always needed. She can send me a pattern she used for my cousin's baby if I want. I'm going to hit Joann's tomorrow and take coupons.

I had my first German class today. I don't have a book to give the student yet, but a teaching copy arrived, so that'll help me anyway. He asked about meeting twice a week, and I was like um. Because I start a regular class in early October, and there's also a high school student who's going to be taking private classes (possibly for TWO YEARS). So with all that and finishing the certification, I don't really have time. But once I finish the certificate, maybe. He's really motivated, at least. I pointed him at Duolingo for practice, since it's popular and has both web and mobile versions, but the early exercises are beyond the "Hello my name is" we did today.
feuervogel: (beautiful family)
My sister is pregnant. I want to crochet her (baby) a blanket.

I emailed my mom to ask if that's something she'd like, and mom replies that I should email sis a picture of the pattern and let her decide if she wants it and pick a color.

Isn't that the opposite of a gift? I'd planned to go to the store and pick out a pattern from a book and some yarn, or get yarn that has a pattern on the label. I want to make something very neutral gendered: no pink or blue, no patterns (hearts or flowers). I saw a book of afghan crochet (the kind of crochet that's like single-hook knitting) baby blankets, and I liked one of the patterns in it.

Honestly, now I don't even want to bother.

Anyway, internets, am I wrong for being upset that I should let a gift be dictated?

/whine

26 Dec 2013 03:20 pm
feuervogel: photo of the statue of Victory and her chariot on the Brandenburg Gate (Default)
Spending time around Ben's family always reminds me how working class I am. I hate it.

I see pictures of the 2-week trip to Hawaii they took when Ben was about 13 and his brother was 6, where his mom talked to their teachers to let them be taken out of school for an extra week and they had to keep a diary of what they did and what they learned. And the trip to Australia before Ben's brother was born.

I hear stories about various summer educational experiences they had, what they learned at camp, how they were encouraged in pursuit of knowledge. Everything with her is educational. His parents critiqued a ride at Disney World because it wasn't "accurate." THAT WASN'T THE POINT ffs.

All it does is remind me that I had a shitty life as a working class piece of shit, whose only encouragement toward education came from her teachers; whose own fucking mother refused to allow her into the gifted & talented program (with the explanation, when I asked her later why, that "you would be made fun of in G&T." I wish I were joking.); whose mother didn't understand why she wanted to go to college; who never received support for building a career or even fucking KNEW that support was available.

I honestly believed that you had to do everything on your own, without asking for help--because no one ever told me you COULD ask for help. Mentoring was as foreign an idea as living on Pluto.

Now that I'm working to become a teacher, she tells me "go out and make contacts" as if it's some magical incantation, or something that you ~just know~ how to do.

She asked about the friends Ben and I are staying with in Berlin for 2 days before everyone else shows up, how I knew them, and whether they were "good, upstanding, employed" types of people; you know, trustworthy. (Also she said "my mother would be nervous" about staying with "strangers" from the internet; I think that's her roundabout way of saying that *she's* nervous.) So I had to justify to her why one of them doesn't work but is regardless trustworthy. I didn't mention that they're both women and are dating/engaged.

Equating trustworthy with employed is seriously bullshit. I'm not gainfully employed. I said that later, and she said, "But you have a plan." My "plan" is to keep writing and maybe someday someone will like something I write enough to give me money for it. Then she said about the teaching, which isn't really a good plan, because there's not really much call for it around here.

(This is where "build a network of contacts" came in, you see.) She said I should "just" contact people at the university to ask if there are students who need tutoring. (College students get tutors? Seriously? Also, that's what grad students are for, not some Jane Shmoe.) I should also "just" ask around and make contacts.

I get more frustrated every time I interact with his parents (though I've gotten to the point with his father that I just roll my eyes and swear a lot when he starts being "every statement you make in a discussion over the dinner table must be 100% accurate and I will pick at the points that aren't 100% accurate and attack your statements" ffs dinner table discussions aren't peer-reviewed papers; they're off the cuff).

I try talking about this with Ben, but he just sits there and sort of grunts. Or says nothing while I wait for him to hold up his side of the conversation. Which is doubly frustrating.

But he doesn't understand at all the point I'm trying to make, which is that class markers are learned culture, and you can't lose them. I tried analogizing it to moving to another country and being able to adapt to the local customs and manners but still being an American* at heart, but even that didn't work. He didn't seem to grasp the difference between internal and external.

*The analogy I flailed to, at midnight when thoroughly exhausted yet unable to sleep, used Workingclass Land and Middleclass Land.

*flail* Argh. All I can do at this point is just get up and leave when discussions of things that bring out my inner ragemonster happen.
feuervogel: (beautiful family)
My mom's mom. (Dad's mom sends me shitty right-wing email forwards.)

She always says, "We don't do much, so there's no news," then launches into a page of news. This time it was that she's got macular degeneration (she's 84), my sister and her BF are moving in together, my cousin is in AA (I didn't know that was a problem he had...), and something else I forget.

It's basically a random assortment of things going on with a random number of people descended from her. I wonder if we assembled grandma's letters to all the cousins (if she sends them to anyone other than me) if we'd end up with a more or less complete picture of H family life.

Apparently my sister is OK with moving back out of DC into MD (and greatly increasing her work-travel time and expense) to live with her BF and occasionally his kids. (He has joint custody with his ex.) All I can think is "better her than me."
feuervogel: photo of the statue of Victory and her chariot on the Brandenburg Gate (Default)
Spending some sister time until I go to Bethesda to meet someone for lunch.

I ran into Richard in the train station, and it turned out he was going up to DC with a couple friends for one of their bachelor parties. So I sat with them on the train, which means I didn't get as much reading done as I wanted to, but I'll have plenty of time Monday.

Agora was good. I tried Imam bayildi, a stuffed eggplant dish I've been wanting to try to a long time, and I had falafel. Yay falafel. It was perfect, actually, crisp outside, soft inside, and green from herbs. I love falafel.

Apparently the Safeway on 17th and Corcoran is called the Soviet Safeway. It seems to have earned the nickname.

I slept on a tiny loveseat, and it was actually fairly comfortable.

My sister is reading Marvel 1602, which I find amusing. She's also stopping to google everything, from Wanda to King James, which I also find amusing.
feuervogel: (black haru)
So I'm going to DC this weekend, and I'm staying with my sister Friday and Saturday nights. We're trying to work out what to do for dinner Saturday. (Friday we're going to Agora for Turkish food, which sounds awesome.)

I suggest the lazy-ass pasta bake and throwing in some Quorn (chunks or grounds) for extra filling properties. She says "BF is a real meat-eater..." and I'm just like "if he's that inflexible, I'm happy to go out again."

So she replies with this "you threw a tantrum when you were younger and couldn't eat in restaurants, and we prefer to eat real meat. You don't like meat, I'm just trying to cover all our preferences."

First off, our grandmother decided it was a good idea to take a vegetarian to Steak and Ale. The only options that weren't meat were starches (baked potatoes) and sides (spinach, etc). Not exactly what I call dinner! Second off, it's not a "preference." If I eat meat, I have gastrointestinal distress. I found this out by accidentally eating ground beef a few years ago. (I was really hungry and brain-fried from an all-day tai chi workshop.)

Third off, is it that fucking hard to not eat meat just ONE fucking time? Seriously?

Fucking asshole meat-eaters. This is why I hate you.

Stuff

22 May 2013 09:42 am
feuervogel: (michel)
I made a to-do list last night because I feel like my ability to mentally organize things is gone. I keep meaning to do things and then either forgetting them or falling into the hole of facebook flash games.

I was feeling consistently awful and low-level migrainey for a few days a couple weeks ago, so I went into my doctor's office, and they took thyroid levels. They said I needed to go down on my T3 because my TSH is too low. So I've been taking 10 mcg instead of 15 for about 2 weeks now, and I don't feel all that great. No migraines or anything, just lack of motivation, dry eyes, mouth, and skin, and low energy. I can't focus worth a damn, either. (And because of my neurologist's verbot on caffeine, I can't just make some black tea and make some focus, either.)

It could be that 15 mcg is too much, but 10 isn't enough. Unfortunately, the medication comes in 5 mcg unscored tablets. Though it also comes in 25s, and 12.5 might work out. Except for reasons completely unknown to me, because I've never had 90-day supplies called in before, the nurse authorized 90 days with 3 refills on my last T3 rx, while doing 30 days with 3 refills on the Synthroid, because I don't even fucking know. Maybe she goofed and read the #90 as 90 days, but #90 and #270 are a lot different.

So I have a metric shit ton of 5 mcg liothyronine tablets (at 2 a day, they will last me 135 days, or approximately 4.5 months), and I refuse to pay for a new prescription when I already paid 3 months' copays for the bottle I have. So if my doctor agrees at my physical next Thursday, I'll see about either taking 2.5 every day or adding a third in the afternoon. Or going to an endocrinologist, maybe.

I have this writing idea that I've been letting float around in my mind for a while, and I finally had some insight into it last night. So I made some rough notes around which the idea can coalesce while I work on other things.

I'm going up to DC next weekend (via Amtrak) to see the US and German men's soccer teams play at RFK stadium. I am excite. I'm staying with my sister Fri & Sat, then going to the game and staying with Ben's brother Sunday, then coming home Monday.

I need to write a letter (in German) to a language school and ask if I can do a practicum there and if they meet the criteria set forth in my course description. I don't really want to do it, but I need to. Ideally, I'd do the practicum in winter when airfare is cheapest, but I don't know ... well, there are a lot of things I don't know, like whether they'll even accept non-native speakers as praktikanten or whether they'll have openings in winter or how far in advance I even need to make arrangements. Argh. (I am fairly certain that there are no practica that meet the course criteria in the US unless you are majoring in education and doing your student teaching. There is an alternative to the practicum, which is 120 hours of teaching experience, which would take me far too long to acquire, if I could even get a job without a certificate and experience.)

Anyway. Stuff. I need to get started on my to-do list before I lost the entire morning to faffing about. This has already taken over half an hour to write, in part because I got distracted and wandered away for a few minutes several times.
feuervogel: photo of the statue of Victory and her chariot on the Brandenburg Gate (Default)
the mouse will do pretty much the same thing she'd do anyway. :/

While Ben is off at his college reunion in California, I've been looking for things to do to break the monotony. Being self-employed (technically, after all) and not really ever going out of the house means that when Ben's not here, I literally don't see any other human beings unless I go out.

Thursday night I had sword class, which was normal, and that was fun. Friday I went out to see Iron Man 3 with a friend. Saturday I did my usual grocery shopping and stuff, and it was LA's birthday party, but it didn't start until 10 pm, and after falling asleep on the couch in the middle of the afternoon, I didn't think going out was a good plan. So I did homework and read.

Today I checked out the new Mystery Brewing Public House. It's small, about the same capacity as the Wooden Nickel, and it's quiet (thus far). A couple people were playing some complicated board+card+token game, and there's a game table of some sort (kind of like air hockey? I didn't investigate too closely). My kung-fu-older-siblings (if it were a Japanese art, I'd call them sempai, but I don't know the Chinese word) James and Violet joined me, and we talked about life, cats, tai chi, life, stuff, beer... It was fun. I hadn't ever seen them outside of the context of class or some school-related thing before, so it was nice getting to talk about things other than "am I doing this right?"

Tomorrow I'll do my usual work day things, which is play stupid facebook games for a while then start writing, and I'll pick Ben up at the airport at the appointed time.

This is actually the most successful I've been at not going slowly mad while Ben's out of town yet. I'm an extravert; I need people. If I'm alone too long, I start retreating into myself and not wanting to go out, which makes things worse. So this time, I made plans (though today's plans were tentative), and it worked. Yay.
feuervogel: (writing)
Long Hidden is taking submissions. Various people on facebook have already refused to talk me out of writing a story about the Silesian Weavers' Revolt (1844). I'm already kind of busy, between this online course and writing a novel, and I really don't need to start another project that involves extensive research.

Though this line of thought has already inspired a derailment into genealogical research, because the place my great-grandfather was born, and probably his parents and grandparents, because 150 years ago people didn't move as much, was one of the towns involved in said weavers' revolt.

(And [personal profile] heavenscalyx has given me pointers and dug up some stuff for me because she's awesome like that. All I could find was the record of Bertha, & Max's emigration (via Bremen, point of entry Baltimore, ship's name Köln) in 1908. (I already knew 1908 and that they settled in Lock Haven, PA, since that's where Grandpa's from. And for some reason, I can't pull August's.)

Bertha's occupation was listed as Textilarbeiter. She was probably a weaver. Something heavenscalyx found was that August was a silk weaver.

There were also siblings listed: Herman (1877-1959), Paul O (1882-1939).

If I knew people's maiden names, this would help. (I think my uncle Kurt has the most information of anyone in the family, so I should bug him. But he never answers his email.) *flail*

This is what I do when I should be writing.
feuervogel: photo of the statue of Victory and her chariot on the Brandenburg Gate (Default)
Our forsythia is starting to flower. The rosemary is flowering, but that doesn't mean anything. The rosemary flowers in December. I need to cut away last year's mum so this year's has space to grow, but I want to wait until it stops freezing overnight. I need to prune the rosemary and many of the other giant herbs in the side garden, but I am an indifferent gardener at best.

We've had sun, lots of sun, lately. It was a cloudy, rainy winter this year, unusually so.

My birthday was fun. I had a party Saturday with a bunch of friends, and I made muhammara (awesome), what I am dubbing the Rage Torte, because it didn't work right (tasted good anyway), and chocolate chip cookie cupcakes with cookie dough frosting and a cookie on top. Yeah, it was awesome. We stayed up way too late, especially because it was spring forward, so I spent Sunday all zombiefied and feeling hungover, even if I wasn't.

Ben's parents are coming here this weekend. His mom is giving a talk at NC A&T in Greensboro tomorrow (she's flying out today), then his dad is flying out tomorrow, and we're spending the weekend doing Family Bonding Time, including a birthday dinner at Panciuto (where we pretty much only go when his parents are buying). We have a con staff meeting tomorrow evening, but I told Ben we're leaving by 8 pm because of other obligations (it's scheduled to start at 6:30, probably won't actually start until 7, and will likely run until 9. Half the people leave by 8 anyway, because of other obligations.)

His mom likes gardens and things, but with the colder winter, she is resigned to there not being much out yet, so we'll just go hiking or something Saturday, and Sunday maybe indoors stuff (since it's supposed to be cooler and have a higher chance of rain.) Dunno. Stuff.

I got the box of study materials from the Goethe Institute on Monday. The box weighed 11 kg (24.2 lbs.) I had to rearrange the shelves so I could put them on the more stable one. Which means I had to move all the old pharmacy school texts that were there, and now they're in the newly cleaned space in the 4th room, which means I should just get another bookshelf to put in here. Recycling a book I paid $100 for is ... painful.

Though I found a pair of really nice Minami Ozaki prints that I could ebay.
feuervogel: (enemy birds)
Sometimes I wonder what I'd be like if I'd been born to parents who believed in the value of education.

Sometimes I wonder what I'd be like if I'd been born to parents who knew what to do with a gifted child.

Sometimes I wonder what I'd be like if I'd been born into the middle class, not the working class.

If I hadn't had the main notion of "I need to study something that will help me get a job that pays well," maybe I'd have gone into German 20 years ago.

But I also wouldn't have had the experiences that led me to have a passion for identity, belonging, liminality, and all that.

Sometimes I wonder what I'd be like if I'd gotten good advice as a kid, if I hadn't learned at an early age that mom wasn't useful for advice, if I hadn't labored under the idea that I had to figure everything out for myself because I didn't know there were people who *could* help you out.

Sometimes I wonder what I'd be like if I'd been raised by someone who understood geeky kids, who understood that her kid's social needs are different than her own, who didn't think I was lying when I told her that smoking in the car made me cough really badly.

Sometimes I wonder what I'd be like if I'd actually gone into something I had a passion for 20 years ago, rather than doing the working-poor kid's thing and following the money.
feuervogel: photo of the statue of Victory and her chariot on the Brandenburg Gate (Default)
Ben's folks took us to Sanibel Island for Thanksgiving. His mom is really into shells, so we walked on all the beaches collecting all the shells. We also went to the wildlife refuge to look at/for birds.

It was fun, though being on their food timetable, and not being able to carry enough water to be properly hydrated, was kind of a problem. We had Christmas while at the beach, and I got 4 more books (2 on soccer, 2 on WW1). Ben's brother's girlfriend's mom is a potter, and she made us cat bowls with their names on them. They're pretty, and now the catsitters will have an easier time identifying which bowl goes with which cat.

I woke up with a migraine Tuesday morning, before we were supposed to fly back. It's possible that the portobello mushroom sandwich I had at dinner was marinated in red wine, though it's also possible that my body was simply saying, "Fuck you." It does that sometimes.

So now I have a question I need to ask people when I order things: what's in the marinade? Is there any red wine in it?

Worse, this may mean that I can't drink Glühwein at all anymore :( Controlled experiments are required.
feuervogel: photo of the statue of Victory and her chariot on the Brandenburg Gate (Default)
Thanks to a conversation on twitter, I know I'm not the only person who feels this way; I'm just wondering how common it is.

I'm completely croggled that people casually assume or casually state that they'll be getting some sort of inheritance when their parents die. I've never assumed I'd get anything other than debt to pay off or possessions to sell off when my parents die. At least my mom's house is almost paid for; no idea about dad's. (And another comment on twitter reminds me that someone's got to pay for the funerals...)

To copy and paste someone's comment to a friend's post (completely without attribution and with some paraphrasing/editing), this is what sparked this line of thought:

There's also a sense of "it's spending down the inheritance either way; this way's just time-shifted". I trust my parents to have a good sense of their financial planning and what they intended to leave me, and if they happen to want to transfer some of that to me now rather than later, that's fine.

My mom doesn't buy me stuff. She stopped even sending me money at Christmas and my birthday a few years ago. She had to do two major home repairs last summer (ac/heat and water heater both died at the same time), and her tight budget got even tighter. I honestly don't know if she has a retirement savings plan, or if the United Methodist Church even offers one for their secretaries, or even if they did, if she'd have enough income to be able to split off a hundred bucks here or there to save up. (She's a blasted SECRETARY. For a CHURCH. If she makes more than 30k (or equivalent for the DC-Metro area), I'd be astonished.) The only thing I expect to receive from her is the treadle-powered Singer, which is what I told her I wanted when she asked when she made her will. If I'm still in this country, anyway. (It would be really cool if I could figure out how to get it to work, because it has feet useful for old-fashioned clothesmaking, like piping.)

Dad does buy me stuff sometimes, usually alcoholic beverages on the rare occasions we see each other. I have no idea what his financial situation is like. I assume not very good, because he's never been good at saving, and he's an owner-operator (that is, truck driver). I don't think you get 401(k)s with those jobs. He's got his truck and his house, which together could fetch probably half a million*, though I don't know what of that his girlfriend co-owns.

*Truck resale value depends on the age of the truck, mileage on the engine, and how fancy the sleeper area is. His has a huge bed (2 bunks, I think), a kitchenette, and a lav with shower.

Anyway, it just boggles my mind that people casually mention things like inheritance. Is it just me? Is it a product of my working class upbringing?
feuervogel: (beautiful family)
Ben's parents are coming here Friday morning and leaving Sunday afternoon. They want to take us out somewhere nice for dinner one night in honor of my birthday, so we're going to Panciuto Friday night. I love it, but we never go there, because it's SO EXPENSIVE. Totally worth it, but you won't get out for less than $50/person. Ish. Saturday night we're going to Guglhupf for dinner, because I like it, and we've never actually gone for dinner. (Sadly, the bakery is closed by then, so we can't pick up delicious German baked goods.) Sunday we're trying the brunch at the new Italian place in town.

Which leaves two lunches and a breakfast. We're going to Duke Gardens one day (probably Saturday) and ?? the other day (if it's raining, something inside, I guess.) We'd like to try Bull City Burgers & Brew, which isn't very far from Duke Gardens. Ben's mom suggested Med Deli for lunch one day, and wandering around downtown CH I guess? Though that could suck in the rain. (The forecast is 60 and scattered rain showers on Friday, sunny and 70 on Saturday. That may change.) We'll see, I guess.

Saturday morning is when we usually do our grocery shopping, and we go to the coffee shop, farmers market, and store, then home. I have no idea if his parents will want to tag along for that process; I can see them joining us for pastries and decaffeinated beverages and maybe the farmers market, but grocery shopping isn't very interesting. The store will probably be closed on Sunday, since it's Easter. I don't know. We'll see. We could go Friday morning before they get here, since Ben's probably not going to work. No idea.

His mom will want to go directly to the airport after brunch (we have a reservation for 11, and their flight is at 3:50 pm). She'll hear no talk about RDU being small and rarely crowded; apparently she always gets to airport 2+ hours in advance. I would get so bored and also irritated at having to cut my vacation short or get up stupidly early or whatever. Now, sometimes you have to, like Las Vegas, but not all the time. It's not like it's affecting me on this trip anyway, so whatever.

(Also, I'll be obsessively checking my phone for score updates Saturday morning, because my fucking team's in 17th place out of 18, and in danger of relegation again, and goddammit we need to bloody WIN. And it's an English week, so there's another match on Tuesday, which we also need to WIN. GAH. I hate football. Being a sports fan sucks.)

I'm home.

3 Jan 2012 03:10 pm
feuervogel: photo of the statue of Victory and her chariot on the Brandenburg Gate (Default)
I have a cat on my lap, one in the loft above my head, and two on the floor of my room. Not sure where the last one is.

I didn't kill Ben's dad.

Ben sorted through a lot of things in the closet of his parents' house. They've lived in this 100-year-old, 5-bedroom, 3.5-bath house with attic and basement for 30 years, and as far as I can tell, no one's been forced to get rid of anything. (Apparently his mom forced his dad to get rid of his papers dating prior to 1990? And there are shelves in the basement that make Phil's look uncluttered. And stable.)

So, he found his stuff from his trip to Japan in college, including his pictures which are on SLIDES (who made SLIDES in 1997??), the Hanshin Tigers cheering bats, a really nice silk handkerchief, and a bunch of Super Famicom games that he forgot he even had. He also found his Transformers.

Into the garbage or to a yard-sale/sort later pile went tons of tchotchkes and trinkets and assorted small junk. Noisemakers, those tubes with the rolls of paper that unroll when you blow in them, finger traps, etc.

He's going to have to make some hard decisions if Operation: Move to Berlin happens.

I moved twice (that I remember; my first move was age 2) growing up. Once after 4th grade, into a house of similar size with a basement & large walk-up attic, then again after 10th grade, into a slightly smaller house (and a much smaller bedroom) with a crawlspace attic and no basement. We had to get rid of things. Yeah, mom kept the dolls and things Grandma brought back from her travels around the world, but if it wasn't something with immediate use or sentimental value, we pretty much got rid of it. Then when she moved from the last house I lived in out to WV to live with her husband, she had me go through what I still had there and either take it home with me or send it to Goodwill/the church yard sale.

I'd like to downsize & de-clutter my life. (I really need to just price out and list the mass of books I have to sell.) Ben's mom likes is obsessed with stocking stuffers. Sometimes they're useful: food, coasters, ornaments, whatever. And this year, they're sponsoring a snow leopard at the STL Zoo in my name, so I got a stuffed snow leopard & a certificate & stuff in my stocking. Sometimes it's things like bouncy balls that light up when you bounce them. The latter comprised a large portion of what Ben got rid of over the weekend.

But I don't want to ask his mom to stop doing something she likes doing (and is really excited about) in order to simplify my life. I feel guilty about getting rid of things people gave me, and I have the constant money-angst that someone who grew up working poor has: they spent their hard-earned money on this thing for me, I can't just throw it out/give it to Goodwill.

Shipping a lot of boxes of junk, along with furniture & such, overseas, and living in an apartment half the size of our house with essentially a big locker in the basement *if we're lucky* doesn't work well with "keep accumulating and accumulating and never get rid of anything."

Travel

31 Dec 2011 11:41 am
feuervogel: photo of the statue of Victory and her chariot on the Brandenburg Gate (Default)
I'm in St Louis. I haven't killed Ben's dad yet.

I had a glass of Glenlivet 18 at the Melting Pot last night. I had to drink it quickly because everyone else was like LET'S GO LET'S GO LET'S GO. That was not a good idea. It was pretty good, though.

Today will be going outside and walking, tomorrow will be Christmas and Ben sorting through his stuff stored in closets.
feuervogel: photo of the statue of Victory and her chariot on the Brandenburg Gate (Default)
Wednesday morning, I drove up to Maryland for Thanksgiving. I stayed with my grandparents for multiple reasons: 1) my mom's guest bed is dreadfully uncomfortable, 2) her house is smoky and gives me migraines, 3) Grandpa's 87 and Grandma's 82.

They live in a retirement/assisted living apartment complex. They're in one of the retirement buildings. If they need to, they can move into the more assisted sections of the facility. They've been there 13 years, and they love it. Their apartment is cute, 2 bedrooms, 2 baths, living/dining room, tiny kitchen (there's a cafeteria on site).

Anyway, the drive up Wednesday was fine, if windy and periodically cloudy. I discovered that popping my sunroof decreases the sideways motion when the wind comes up hard. I didn't hit any traffic until Fredericksburg, though it persisted the whole way to 270. 495 wasn't as bad as 95. I got to NoVa around 2:30 or 3, then I made it to my grandparents' around 4:30. So a tad over 7 hours including 3 stops.

We went out to an Italian restaurant for dinner, then I showed them all my travel photos. We started with last summer's European vacation, then I paged quickly through the Berlin Xmas trip and Japan. Grandma said I travel a lot. As often as possible!

She gave me a bunch of stuff from Bath & Body Works, which always has a perfumey smell to it. Ah well. I also got socks. Grandma likes putting together little bags for us, and they've usually got shower stuff, socks, jewelry, etc in them. So I said, "yay, socks!" and she asked if I wanted more. She apparently just buys socks at the store when she sees them, and she sticks them in a drawer to either give to people or replace her socks when they wear out. So, anyway, I ended up with a dozen new pairs of cute socks. She also gave me a fleece vest, a sweater, and a velvety hoodie. And a copy of The Kite Runner. And a brooch that was her aunt's.

I also ended up with 2 bags of Nestle chips (1 milk, 1 semi-sweet) and a slice each of cranberry and chocolate pecan pie. (Let me tell you, chocolate pecan pie is fucking AMAZING. I bet it would be awesome with hazelnuts instead. Nutella pie? Hell yes.) Every year at Thanksgiving, Grandpa makes three pies: one either pumpkin or pecan, and two cranberry pies. He takes the pumpkin/pecan and one cranberry to mom's for dinner, and the other cranberry he eats for breakfast for the next week. Mom will eat the leftover cranberry pie for breakfast, too.

Thursday morning before we drove out to mom's, I sat with my laptop and wrote some more of my spy story. It's up to 2000 words, and I just finished the second entry (the one that was partway through in the last locked post). I'll see about doing more on that tomorrow. Today I've been catching up on teh intarwebs and doing laundry. Tomorrow I need to clean the bathroom, but that won't take all day.

I took mom most of a jar of sauerkraut from the farmers market. It's really nice, fairly mild stuff. Ben & I can always buy another jar, and I want to try it with caraway. Because I bet that would make it more awesome. Mom enjoyed it, and so did the grandparents. For years, I thought I was a bad German because I hated sauerkraut. As it turns out, I just hate the kind of sauerkraut that comes from bags in the supermarket.

My grandfather grew up in a German immigrant community in Pennsylvania. His father, who was born in Silesia (now Poland), had a friend whose house they'd go to that always smelled funky. They made their own sauerkraut in their basement.

So mom, G&G, my sister, and I all hung out at mom's for a while. Bin brought a quiche and some veggies for roasting (squash, beets, potatoes, carrots), I brought stuff for the sweet potato casserole which went over so well with Ben's folks last year (and equally well with mine this year; I xeroxed the recipe for Gram), and mom had everything else (except Gramps' pies). "Everything else" was a turkey, corn, green beans, rolls, cornbread stuffing, appetizers, and gravy. The only things I couldn't eat were the turkey and gravy (made with beef fat). Mom actually read the labels on the stuffing packages and determined that the Pepperidge Farms one was OK, but the Stove Top one had chicken something in it. Go mom? She just didn't read the gravy closely enough. (Which is fine; I'm not big on gravy as it is.)

We ate a bunch of food; everyone loved the potatoes. We sat around and talked while waiting for there to be room for dessert. All of us but mom talked politics and world news; thankfully no one there is knee-jerk Republican. Let me assure you that discussing things with my family is less stressful than with Ben's dad, because they don't treat living room conversations like they're Socratic inquisitions.

The grandparents are registered independent, which in MD (and NC) means you can vote in either primary. They think the current crop of GOP presidential candidates are really out there. I have no idea how I got to be the way I am--engaged with politics, interested in knowing about the world and seeing the world--growing up with my mother. She's completely uninterested in current events, news, politics, or traveling. I can't imagine being so completely isolated and insulated.

After dinner, grandma brought out this envelope from the Maryland Anatomy Board and asked if we had any objections to them donating their bodies to science. I think that's pretty awesome, even if it's a somewhat morbid Thanksgiving dinner topic.

Grandpa drove us back to their place, which was a little scary. (I mentioned that he's 87, right?) We talked a bit more before getting more sleep.

Friday morning, Grandpa made scrambled eggs, and I put mine on toast because I like them that way, dammit. We talked a bit more before I had to leave. I only hit a little traffic on 495 in Virginia, near the Woodbridge/Manassas exit. I left a little after 9 and pulled into my garage at 2:30, including 2 or 3 stops. Not hitting NoVa traffic makes a big difference. (Well, on the way up, there was more traffic on 27, and more cars at the stop lights, and I hit very little traffic on 27 on the way back.)

It was a lot of driving for a short trip, but, like going up for the 4th of July party, it was worth it. I'm not really close to my family as a whole, but Gram and Grampa have always been there. They're the reason I had clothes in high school.

If we had functional mass transit in this country, I'd go up more often.
feuervogel: photo of the statue of Victory and her chariot on the Brandenburg Gate (Default)
Off to visit the family.
feuervogel: photo of the statue of Victory and her chariot on the Brandenburg Gate (Default)
- call grandparents about what we're doing for dinner tomorrow
- email mom about more planning stuff

- pack [clothes picked out, toiletries not ready yet; don't forget phone charger]
- email vet re Isis' blood sugar
- bake sweet potatoes & get 2 cups mashed to take up [start at 4:30 so only have to heat oven once]
- make gingersnap crumb topping
- make next/final attempt at alternate history spy story
- writers group @ 7
- get directions to grandparents' house

I think that's everything I need to do today... I've got all the refrigerated stuff I need to take up sorted in the fridge, and I'll put it in a cooler in the morning.

I'm not really looking forward to a 6-hour drive by myself tomorrow (and another on Friday), but my grandparents aren't getting any younger.
feuervogel: photo of the statue of Victory and her chariot on the Brandenburg Gate (Default)
Ben & I drove down Friday, picked his family up at the airport, and checked in to the Lion and Rose, the B&B we stayed at when we went there for our anniversary a couple years ago. The breakfast is still awesome. Saturday we had eggs scrambled with veggies in a wheat shell, Sunday was blueberry pancakes with bourbon-pecan syrup, and Monday was a variant of eggs Benedict (with foccacia, spinach, ham for the meat-eaters, a poached egg, and a Hollandaise-like sauce made with goat cheese). Yeah, it was awesome. If you go to Asheville, look it up.

After we got settled in, we went to Nine Mile for dinner, which is just up the street from the B&B. It's Jamaican-pasta fusion. I had a tuna dish with perfectly-seared tuna and a coconut curry sauce; Ben got a dish called Soon Come, which was cheese tortellini with pineapple, apples, bananas, and currants in a cinnamon syrup. It was awesome. We split a piece of their Chocolate Spliff Cake, which included black pepper in the cake and had a lemon-thyme cream filling. It was awesome, and I wonder if it got the name because they were high when they thought of it. After that, we went back and Ben opened his birthday presents from his family, and we drank port and talked. (They have port and sherry you can drink.)

Before I talk about Saturday, I need to mention the cold front that just came through the state. Thursday it was 80 degrees. Friday's high was 60, and it was windy as hell.

So, Saturday morning we went hiking in the Blue Ridge. We walked up Craggy Gardens. When we parked, the car's thermometer told us it was 32 degrees, and it snowed a little bit. The trail was in a cloud, except a brief moment at the end when it cleared just enough to see the view for a few minutes. There was hoarfrost on the ground, and the grasses looked like they'd been covered in ice. It was pretty miserable. I packed for cold, but not for wind. We went back to the B&B, changed, and went downtown to see the sights (and eat food). We planned to go to the French Broad Chocolate Lounge, but we got sidetracked by a crepes shop. Then we walked up Haywood, stopped in Malaprop's, and eventually made it to the chocolate lounge, after which we went to the Grove Arcade, then back into town a bit. Ben's parents went to Sante (a wine bar and used book shop) while we went to the Chocolate Fetish (and where Beth dropped off our free Biltmore tickets). We were heading to meet them and got sidetracked by a game shop which had just reopened after renovation. We picked up Trans Europa (a game about building railroads) for half price: $15. Dinner was at Laughing Seed. Their vegan sloppy joe is amazing, and the red cabbage sauerkraut is pretty good, too.

Sunday was the Biltmore. We toured the house, walked through the gardens, saw the smithy and woodworking shop, and this time we went to the winery. Ben & I aren't wine drinkers, but his parents are. Then we went to dinner with Beth at Tupelo Honey (and didn't get seated until after 8 because the 6-person tables were filled with people who just kept hanging out after they finished eating; so they sat us at two neighboring 3-person tables instead). Peach-ginger cornbread ftw. I ordered a side veggie combo with sweet potato fries, tofu, and the cornbread, all of which was awesome. (I was tempted by a tuna dish, but I had my monthly-ish tuna on Friday.)

Monday we drove back, and [personal profile] ranyart and [personal profile] picklish went out to the Wooden Nickel with me, Ben, and his brother. His brother can't come into our house because he's highly allergic to cats, so he stayed at a nearby hotel. The other 4 of us hung out and talked. It didn't feel like I hadn't seen them in a year since they moved to California; it felt like any of the dozens of nights we all just hung out at our house and talked (sometimes with alcohol, sometimes not). They'd planned to stay here Saturday after the beer festival as well, and they're probably coming Friday night because their other plans may be falling through. So we get to see them a lot, which is awesome.

Now I'm trying to get back into my usual routine, and it's hard. I finished building the 00 Raiser yesterday afternoon, so I don't have that distraction. I need to schedule a couple appointments today and call in Claire's refill. I need to finish revisions on The Novel, though I haven't figured out how to change the things I need to fix yet. Joy.

Stuff

21 Sep 2011 04:42 pm
feuervogel: (hetalia germany with beer)
It's raining right now, quietly. I've been hearing this light rustling through my open window for a while now.

Isis has been sick lately. feline digestion ) At least we hadn't given her her insulin already, like the first time. Checked her blood sugar, and it was 407. She got a second feeding and her shot. She was limping really badly yesterday, so I called the vet and asked it we could give her some tramadol we had left from a different cat's dental cleaning. Isis doesn't fall for the hairball gel trick, so I had to give her some more food (on her already-wonky blood sugar). She was all stoned the rest of the day. Today, after 2 doses of fish oil, she's less limpy, which is good. And her blood sugar was only 200 this morning, which is a lot more normal.

I'm working on the synopsis of Iron and Rust. This draft is going to be 6-7 pages, and if I want to send it as the Kickstarter reward submission packet review thing, I have to get it down to 5. I may go through and extend it to 10 pages at some point, then also cut it down to 2 pages and 1 page, since those are the common requested synopsis lengths, and a girl ought to be prepared.

Then again, I have a few dropped plot threads I need to tie off and a few "more tension!" moments to fix, so I'll be changing it anyway. May as well wait until I've done all that to fix it up nice.

I changed my thyroid medicine again. I dropped down to 10 mcg of T3 after noticing I was really irritable and that my tinnitus was back. (Irritatingly, it happens for both high and low thyroid for me. Makes it a fun guessing game.) Since I've recently gone up on my T4, which is converted to T3, it's possible I was getting a little high on that end. I'm still having tinnitus for much of the day, but it's gone when I wake up. I'll give it a few more days to balance out (it needs about a week to reach steady state). I should probably call my dr and let her know I adjusted my meds. I may go down further if this tinnitus doesn't abate. I'll know pretty quickly if it's too low, because I get The Nausea. I lasted about a week when we dropped my T3 last month before feeling awful.

I'm doing things with people this weekend! I'll be missing the second half of Werder Bremen: Hertha BSC on Sunday, but I can download it if I have to. Twitter can keep me posted.

And next weekend, we're going to Asheville with Ben's parents and brother. We're staying in the same B&B Ben & I stayed at for our anniversary 2 years ago. There will be hiking (yay -_-) and the Biltmore and food and (hopefully) Beth (who is awesome & giving us comp tickets, so we only have to buy 1)! Our usual catsitter has a second job at the vet school hospital, and the backup one locally had problems with Isis (who growled and clawed and pissed and shat). The usual sitter hasn't gotten back to us, either, which is frustrating, because she's the only one Isis doesn't hate. Probably because she shows no fear of the crazy evil tortie.

We may have to do separate vacations for the foreseeable future if this keeps up. Especially at holidays. (And, joy, I really want to go to my mom's house by myself! It's so much fun!) I could ask if mom & co want to come here for Thanksgiving, but she doesn't drive that far, Grandpa shouldn't drive that far anymore (he's 87, and his artificial hip hitches if he sits too long), and my sister works retail, so she has to work that Friday. Which pretty much means it's always me going to them. We already have plans (but no plane tickets) for New Year's in St Louis, and I may end up begging off. The new catsitter charged us extra last time because she had to bring a helper and spent a lot of time dealing with the evil hissing beast (and wore WELDING GLOVES to give her shot), and at $15 a visit, 2 visits a day, times two for the helper/trouble charge, those 4 days away become 8 in catsitting fees. With me not getting any hours at all, we can't afford the extra charges. (And subsequent vet bills because Isis' blood sugar is whacked out due to stress and she gets sick again.)

It doesn't really help that I don't like Family Togetherness Time (tm).
feuervogel: photo of the statue of Victory and her chariot on the Brandenburg Gate (Default)
I actually got back Tuesday night, but the prospect of wading through a week's worth of RSS feeds and flist was daunting, so I played Gundam instead. Then yesterday I caught up on the reading part and played Gundam. Today I'm actually updating this thing then playing Gundam.
this is long )
The Amtrak adventure, like the road trip adventure, is not one I'm looking to repeat. As much as I resent security theater and distrust the calibration of the pornoscanners (and their safety), flying takes a mere 2-3 hours (plus travel to & from the airport), and can be done on the same day. 16 hours each way is inefficient. If we had modern train service, real high-speed service like in Europe, the Durham-DC route would be 2 hours (per the Economist article I linked months ago), and DC-Boston 3, with the price to match, no doubt. (So flying would still probably be less expensive and shorter, but not by a significant amount once you factor in travel to & from the airport.) It was nice to see my sister, since I don't get to very often, but even so.

Next year should be fun!

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