You might as well blog

I should probably turn this into a “very local news” post. That’s a step up from random bullets.

Celebrity sighting: here is Glendower looking beautiful. Well, he always looks beautiful. Here he is posing for the papparazzi:

Health and beauty: it’s random bullets, I mean very local news, because I have forgotten how to sleep (again), and I’m too tired to do much of anything. I do all the right things and still can’t fall asleep till after midnight. Sometimes I manage to sleep in, so I do wind up rested, but then the day goes to hell because the schedule is off. Sometimes I get up at dawn so I can get some exercise while it’s still just hot (as opposed to unbearably hot), and then the day goes to hell because I’m too tired to think straight (like today). But! I have had a real haircut since I last blogged. That is, in a salon, cut by someone who is not me. It came out too short, but it’s hair, it will grow.

Politics, feline: they all seem to be getting along acceptably well lately, but Reina is reluctant to eat in her usual spot, atop a chair, and wants to be on a bookshelf or under a table. I am not sure whether her paranoia is due to other cats, humans, or just Secret Messages From The Spirit World telling her this is what she has to do now.

Politics, human: we’re going to a family wedding soon. I think most of the people on non-speaks will be present. My side still doesn’t know the reason for the non-speaking. The main culprit says “if you don’t know, I don’t have anything to say to you,” so . . . yeah, that’s helpful. I doubt we’ll learn anything on this occasion. Secretly I hope for a flaming row that might clear the air, but I expect everyone will stiff-upper-lip it and just manage to be on the other side of the room from each other.

Fashion: I am going to wear a Lands’ End poly-rayon sheath dress to the wedding (outdoors!), and probably boil (did I mention outdoors, and unbearably hot, see under health), because when I got out my linen-blend Ann Taylor shift dress that is my Summer Wedding Guest go-to, it looked terrible, even after I steamed it. The fabric puckered, the bust darts are in the wrong place (I guess I’ve sagged with age? Or just gotten pickier about fit? Let’s say I’m pickier, I like that better), the color is unflattering now that my hair is much greyer than the last time I wore it. My back-up dress is a rayon floral that is pretty but wrinkles if you look at it, and I have had it with looking hopelessly crumpled. I’m giving those two away. The Lands’ End dress fits, is a reasonable color, and doesn’t wrinkle. It’s unremarkable and appropriate. Maybe I’ll carry a fan as an accessory.

Economy: because I am a person much affected by salary compression, I got a raise. Yay! Because my salary is computed on a nine-month contract, but I get paid over twelve months, I’m not sure how much money I’m actually getting. Boo! I suppose if I spent awhile on the uni website I could figure out how many pay periods they think there are in my contract, and apply the appropriate multiplier. But see above about fatigue. I may just wait till next year’s W-2 is available and see what my annual salary is then. But raises are good. Thank you, union negotiators.

Agriculture: I’ve fallen off the Six on Saturday wagon, but here’s a report minus pictures. Chard, collards, and cilantro are doing fabulously. The bok choi bolted ten minutes after I planted it. For a couple of weeks I kept pinching off flowers and hoping it would pull itself together, but today I gave up and pulled it out. I harvested enough leaves to put in a stir fry. Still in pots, I have another tomato (a freebie from a neighbor), more chard seedlings (rescued from a sale table), and some sage and basil. Another dozen plants can totally fit in the space where the six bok choi were, yes? There is a strawberry plant vining its way out from under the mint. It has put out three flowers and set one fruit. I’m not sure if it’s a real strawberry or one of those mini groundcover things, and I expect a bird will get to the fruit before I find out, but I’m letting it alone just in case. Also, the peony finally bloomed. It is now nearly done and needs to be dead-headed, but here’s one picture; look how pretty:

Decorating: I painted my study. It is now a pale, attractive color and seems larger and more welcoming, now that it is not institutional green. There is a spot over the closet that I need to re-touch, because the paint advertised as one-coat coverage isn’t, quite. Next up, the bathroom . . . after I finish moving books back into my study.

Books: I read Rachel Neumeier’s The Sphere of the Winds, and enjoyed it, but it’s a little too much like the first one, somehow. But if The Floating Islands floated your boat, the sequel is the sort of thing you’ll like. I loved Katherine Addison’s The Goblin Emperor, and I’m excited that a sequel is coming soon. I re-read Elizabeth Fair’s six novels, starting with Bramton Wick, and enjoyed them just as much as the first time. If you like Barbara Pym, you’d like E. Fair. You may gather that I like books where not too much happens. I like to explore other worlds without feeling harrowed.

The sports section got lost, and the writing reporter failed to turn in copy on deadline. Anyway, this is plenty long enough already. Have a good weekend!

Book nerd

I own a lot of books. My spreadsheet shows over 1100 books in my scholarly collection, and I suspect there are a few that have escaped the spreadsheet.

I don’t keep track of the fiction, as there’s a certain amount of flux in that collection. Some favorites have been with me for most of my life, while other books come in, get read, and then given away again.

Because I have so many books, I keep the scholarly collection ordered by Library of Congress call numbers. Roughly. Due to various moves, sometimes they’re only sorted by letter(s) and then maybe by period: DA is English history, and I can usually tell by the title whether they’re 13th, 14th, or 15th century. I have ambitions to get them all properly organized, so in my spreadsheet I try to give each its proper call number.

This is easy for books published in the US, which generally print an LC number on the publication page. It’s still easy for UK and European books that are owned by major US libraries that use the LC system, or which belong to some UK libraries that have adopted the LC system for convenience (IIRC, the Oxford History Faculty does this).

Then there are the truly obscure books, published by minor presses in the UK, owned only by repository UK libraries and various German libraries, none of which use LC numbers. This is where I get into the Library of Congress site and start downloading PDFs explaining their system, so that I can assign an appropriate number in my spreadsheet.

Why do I do this? (A) I need some sort of system, and (B) most of the libraries I use are on LC, so (C) it’s convenient to be able to look for books among their usual friends, no matter where I am.

I actually love getting into the LC’s PDFs and figuring out how to catalog my weird books. It’s so cool that the LC provides information about their system to anybody who wants it. I may have only one book in the CB category, but I know that is its proper area.

Curses, late again

However, since the Six on Saturday meme keeps me showing up at least once a week (usually), I’ll go ahead and post the pictures I took yesterday (I got that far), and then they’ll be here for reference purposes. Maybe next week I can get back to the proper schedule.

1, the peonies are about ready to pop:

2, the irises are eyeing their moment:

3, the bleeding hearts are more profuse:

4, this flash of blue caught my eye in the grass; I guess we have baby robins somewhere:

5, more of the shade garden:

6, the vegetable plot, and more things I need to plant, mostly in it (but one is a pincushion flower, and I’m thinking about where it should go; and another is a spearmint that I bought by mistake, when I was reaching for oregano, and I don’t want it; anyone want a spearmint seedling?):

The people who showed up on time were over at the Propagator’s place.

Six on . . . Sunday starts with S

I was all set to post this yesterday, and then got distracted by a lovely e-mail from Lady Maud. The magnolia is over, the bulb flowers nearly gone, and the peonies are up but still not revealing their colo(u)r. So here’s what I have:

1, in the shade garden I have bleeding hearts (and a dandelion that I should dig out):

2, there are also forget-me-nots and a flower whose name I know intermittently but can’t think of at the moment, maybe starts with a B? The flowers are pink.

3, the lilac is a standard-issue lavender, not blooming so profusely as I would hope:

4, moving around the side of the house, the Japanese maple glows in burgundy (and the grass badly needs cutting):

5, two views of clematis, the fall bloomer that grows up the grapevine that shades the deck, and the summer bloomer with tiny flowers, round the corner:

6, the last daffodil, surrounded by hostas and day lilies (and more dandelions):

Six on Saturday is hosted by The Propagator. His post will be up all week, so you can go see the links of people who were on time!

The very local news

It’s a little more focused than random bullets.

Politics: Basement Cat and Reina generally observe their détente, except when mealtimes are approaching and Basement Cat would like to eat his feelings only there is nothing to eat yet because the hoo-man servants have fallen down on the job. Then he stalks Reina and she growls at him and this gets the attention of the neglectful hoo-mans.

Crime, indoors: minor vandalism from Basement Cat, mainly chewing on things the hoo-mans would prefer him not to chew.

Crime, outdoors: some weeks ago, I found the corpse of a rabbit on the side steps to the deck. Since it was less than intact but not dismembered, I theorized that either a coyote had been interrupted or a bird of prey had managed to kill it but could not carry it away. I dug a grave and buried the rabbit. Today I found that the grave had been exhumed. This time, I definitely blame coyotes.

Economy: tax documents dropped off at the accountant. Income normal. Unusual expenses: new roof, new washer and dryer. Contemplated expenses: power lawnmower, re-surfacing of driveway, paint for two or three rooms.

Agriculture: bought a selection of Swiss chard, collards, pak choi, and herbs yesterday, to be planted in the vegetable plot.

World of work: Although a few student papers came in early, I have been ignoring them and taking the weekend off. Grading will resume tomorrow. It feels very strange not to have huge amounts of class prep to do.

Lifestyle, decorating: studying paint chips for bathroom, guest room, my study. I keep thinking light turquoise or pale green might be nice in my study, but looking at samples on the wall, I feel that it would be like trying to work inside a tube of toothpaste. There’s a super pale blue that I like, now, but it might seem too cold in winter. I also like a “chalky purple” that to me looks like a super pale mauve: could I live with it long term, or would it wear on me as the pink bedroom I chose at 10 wore on my 13-year-old self? I’d love a pale, glossy lemon yellow, but yellows are so hard to get right.

Lifestyle, cooking: instead of just grating carrots on top of greens and adding herbs, mayo, and dressing, I grated four carrots in the food processor and added chopped fresh dill, lime juice, mayo, dressing, and salt, and let it marinate for a few hours. Sir John and a visiting friend had seconds, and there was still enough for me the next day. I think I should mix up a batch of the stuff once or twice a week, and save the daily effort.

Society: a friend I met at a wedding some years back (on the trip that inspired these reflections about tea and coffee) came to visit from a couple of states over, celebrating the fullness of our vaccinations. She and I walked around the neighborhood, critiquing the architecture, then we had dinner à trois and talked about architecture, books, and pets.

Weather: clear, sunny, cool, with warmer temps predicted for the next couple of days. A good time to get my veg planted, if my ribs permit digging.

Health, human: I am fully vaccinated. Sir John has had one shot. I pulled some muscles around my ribs a few weeks ago, and have been resting them ever since. Improvement is noticeable. Some of my other aches and pains have also cleared up, including my wonky hip, which only started hurting again when I carried books home from the library about half a mile away. I think I might need less yoga and more strength work.

Health, feline: Glendower has had a lot of hairballs recently, despite brushing and Laxatone. He has a re-check for his IBD coming up this week, so we’ll see what the vet suggests.

Sports: Reina demands that I wave the fevver toy every night before I go to bed, so she can chase it. Sir John is cycling regularly. I am cautiously walking a mile or two per day and hoping my ribs and hip won’t object.

Books: my visiting friend reminded me of the Agatha Raisin series, and I found I was about four books behind, so I went and got the most recent ones from the local library. They are even lighter-weight than most of the “light fiction by British women writing between the wars” that makes up a lot of my leisure reading, but that’s fine for end-of-term brain candy.

Things I did today

Drank black tea as well as green.

Reviewed and commented on a graduate student’s outline.

Looked over an undergraduate paper draft that changed very little since the last version.

Grappled with late classical Latin.

Struggled with ugly medieval Latin.

Read about 20 pages of a Middle English text.

E-mailed with a colleague about an awards ceremony.

E-mailed with a friend about our honors students.

Met briefly with my (currently non-)writing group to talk about summer plans.

Climbed a ladder to inspect our new roof.

Cooked rice and fish.

Walked around the block.

Unpacked the stereo plus the cushions and old sheets that lined the boxes.

Agreed to write a recommendation letter.

Done!

I’ve finished grading . . . for last semester.

Yes, the students who took incompletes actually finished them. Yay for them!

I still have several sets of grading to do before I’m done with this term.

Basement Cat at it again

It’s been a long time since Basement Cat’s evil youth. These days, he seems to have left his life of crime behind him. But I fear he’s starting up again.

This morning I’ve had both texts and e-mail from Angie’s List suggesting that I get Black Cat Remodeling to bid my project. Given our housemates, I am highly suspicious that Angie’s List has been hacked.

The bid I expect: “We’ll have Basement Cat chew through that, and then we’ll claw here till we break through. Then there will be a big hole we can hide in. Make sure the cupboards have doors we can open, and that the window latches are cat-operable. Finish? What do you mean, finish? There’ll be a nice thick layer of cat hair over the top, that’s the finish. In black, of course. We don’t do color options here at Black Cat remodeling. We shed in any color so long as it’s black.”

Strange discovery

Recently I saw a real-estate ad for a house in my home town, and went online to check it out. Lovely pictures. Only . . . where was it? I should have walked by it dozens of times, but couldn’t recall seeing it. Google street view showed me the house that I remembered for that address, but the pictures didn’t match that house. Finally drilling down in Google maps showed the lots on that hillside, and I realized that the house for sale was on a flag lot (which term, coincidentally, I learned last week from a post at a garden blog). I have been past the corner, dozens of times, but it never occurred to me to wander down a stranger’s driveway to see if there was a second house back there.

It was like those dreams in which you discover an extra room in your house. Only there really is a house I didn’t know about. What else don’t I know about my old neighborhood?

Six on Saturday: better every day

I’m cheating a bit, and giving you four pictures of magnolias as my #1. I took a picture every day this week, but the ones on cloudy days didn’t turn out as well as these. The first is from Sunday, the last from yesterday:

Okay, 2 is the current state of the clump of sedums that has been a regular feature. I’ve cleared off some of the dead foliage, but haven’t got round to removing it from the bed, so you can see a bit of it at the edge:

3, two sets of grape hyacinths. The first is under the bird bath (note the fallen magnolia petal); the second lets you see quite a bit of the shade garden, in the front of the house, including one of the columbines returning:

4 is the lilac bush, very leafy now:

5 is tulips, not sure what color yet. There are two big clumps in the side yard, under a pine tree and screened by day lilies and whatnot; I’ve been wondering if squirrels moved them there, because it seems like an odd place for them. There are a couple of other areas in the garden where I see tulip leaves, but just a leaf or three, no buds.

6, the iris are coming up. Again, I look forward to finding out what color they will be.

Someday I may get around to posting something that isn’t Six on Saturday. In the meantime, at least this keeps me showing up once a week! The host is Jon at The Propagator. His post for this week reminds me that I should go see if the clematis is sprouting. The peonies have sent up shoots, which may feature next week. See above re: finding out about colors! I don’t want to plant anything new till I know what colors are already here.