It is always good to know who or what you want to be when you grow up. I have a goal in mind. I want to be
Granny is a witch from Terry Pratchett’s Discworld series. She is in her 70s in most of the books. I love older female protagonists in books. When people refer to her coven structure they refer to the traditional set up of Maiden, Mother, and The Other One because no one is going to call her a crone to her face.
She is such a powerful witch that she rarely has to do any magic at all. All she has to do is give people a Look and they do what she wants. Because of this, some people accuse her of not having any powers at all. They don’t continue that nonsense for long. She believes in “headology” as much as magic.
She has some amazing abilities. She can Borrow. That involves letting your spirit go into the minds of passing animals to see what they see. When she does this she leaves her body in bed with a sign that says, “I ate’nt dead” so there is no confusion. She can also talk to bees. She plays a mean hand of cards too if she has to.
Granny Weatherwax appeared for the last time in The Shepherd’s Crown. Terry Pratchett was dying of Alzheimer’s Disease when he wrote that book. He wrote about her death as a way to talk to his loyal readers about his death. She dies peacefully (because DEATH doesn’t sneak up on witches) but it was gut wrenching to read. There is a point after she is buried where all the animals that she had Borrowed over the years come out of the woods to look at her grave. I sobbed through the whole thing. In typical Terry Pratchett manner he put all this at the very beginning of the book to make people move past it and get on with the story. Granny is life goals and death goals.
If you’ve never read the books, you really should. They are both hysterically funny and deeply profound – sometimes in the same sentence. To hear about Granny, start with Wyrd Sisters.
They don’t take that long to make. The hardest part is looking at all the fabric I’m wasting because they aren’t square. I’m the kind of person who always has to try to maximize fabric (or wrapping paper) use. Just blatantly cutting a curve hurts my soul.
I posted a picture of my mask on my Instagram story.
I instantly got hit up to make some for other people. A former coworker has a sister who is immunocompromised in a few different ways. The sister works in a nursing home where they have no protective equipment. How could I say no to that? I whipped up four (2 for the sister and 2 for my friend and her husband). I think I’m going to make a few more for us since they need to be washed after every outing.
First of all, I’ll admit that I totally can’t spell that word at all. I have to Google it every time.
I’ve always wanted to be an entrepreneur. I’ve wanted to have my own business. The problem is that I don’t really have the personality for it. I don’t like to put myself forward and say, “Here I am! This is what I’m doing! Pay attention to me!” I’m embarrassed to approach people I know to let them know I am doing something out of the ordinary.
I’m trying to get past that though. In the past year I’ve been using Arbonne products. I really like them. They have nutrition products and skin care/makeup products. I’ve decided to be a consultant. It was hard to even type that. I wanted to explain my decision more to make it make sense. But why should I? I want to do this so I am.
I had one virtual party. I’d like to do more. I just need to find some people who would like to invite some friends to hang out online for about an hour. If you are interested let me know.
This weekend I set up a Facebook group for people to find out about products. If you want to hang out and learn stuff check it out here.
See, was that so hard? All I have to do is tell people about it.
One of my quilting works in progress is a pattern called De la prominade. It is from Quilt Fusion. I don’t usually buy a lot of patterns but I loved this one from the moment I saw it.
You trace the pattern pieces – the hundreds of pattern pieces per block – onto fusible web, cut them out, and then assemble them like the picture. When you are satisfied you iron them in place.
Here are the blocks I have done so far:
The center carousel
The top center horses
The bottom center swans
The left side horse
That panel is pieced but not quilted yet. Each panel is layered on a piece of batting and all the pieces are sewn down around all the edges. Later they will all be sewn together and a backing sewn in place. It is much easier to quilt this as you go than trying to maneuver the whole thing.
I’ve been neglecting this one for a while. I have a place picked out to hang it. I even painted the room a soft grey to accent this. The husband doesn’t believe that it will ever be finished. Someday…
There is a C-word that would be the obvious thing to write about at this time in history but I’m not having it. Instead I’m going to write about my Creativity Hat.
I got this hat to use as part of my White Rabbit costume one Halloween. This hat is so comfortable. It is made of some kind of velvety fabric over a soft foam that gives it structure. It gives me bunny ears. Who doesn’t want bunny ears? I loved it so much that it seemed a shame to only be able to wear it the one day.
It was sitting in my sewing room (where all random stuff ends up) on a day when I was cold. I put it on and decided then and there that I was going to wear it whenever I wanted. The Creativity Hat was born.
The husband has proper respect for the hat. If he wanders into the sewing room and sees me wearing the hat he knows that he might be interrupting serious work.
I know I’m not the only person on Earth right now whose brain has spiraled down this rabbit hole:
“Well, that’s it. This is the end of civilization as we know it. Better learn some useful skills. I better do a refresher course on how to bake bread.”
I know I’m not the only one because after I had this mental breakdown I went to the store and all the yeast was sold out. I had to order a huge amount on Amazon because that was all that was available. (“Better look up the directions on how to harvest wild yeast and maintain a culture.” Check.)
Back in the day I had a copy of Artisan Bread in 5 minutes a day. I made bread for a while. I can’t find my book now though. So I grabbed a couple of ebooks in the series from the library. I also ordered a hardcover copy of Healthy Bread in 5 minutes a day. (“Your ebooks are going to be inaccessible after the apocalype.” Thanks, panic brain. “It is a very large and heavy book. Perfect for smacking zombies upside the head if it comes to that.”)
If you aren’t familiar with these books, the idea is that you make a dough that can stay in the refrigerator for a while. (“Like you are going to have a refrigerator.” Shut up, brain!) When you want to bake a loaf you use a portion of your stored dough, mix in any flavorings you might want, shape as desired, and bake. Five minutes is a bit of a stretch because there is rising time that needs to be taken into account but it is a simple, no-knead system.
These are the books that I read. They all have the same beginning steps for the basic doughs. I didn’t have any whole wheat flour at home so I used the basic white bread recipe from The New Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day to start.
I mixed up a batch and let it set to start to rise. I always get excited when that actually works. I have bad luck with yeast. Eventually it rose enough to fill the bowl.
Good Lord! This has been the longest month of all time. I was talking to coworkers who have been off on various self-isolations. One said she was on day 12. I swear I thought I hadn’t seen her in about a month. Every day is lasting weeks. Anyway, for an update on my status in all this see yesterday’s post.
I read all the books this month. Seriously. In retrospect I can see I was trying hard to distract my brain. Once I stopped going to work my reading dropped off a cliff.
I present the biggest reading month (actually 3 weeks) ever:
I read this series. I loved it. Great world building and relationships between characters. Go read it.
I read this series. This really should have been three books but she cut the story up whenever there was a cliffhanger. I wouldn’t have read the whole thing if it wasn’t on Kindle Unlimited.
I read another series. This one was really good. I 100% recommend.
I reread a favorite series and then realized that there is a new novel out. I’m saving that.
I read a few books in other series I like.
I also managed to read a few standalone books.
I started some new series.
That’s a total of 30 books. What????
The books I read were:
Set in the U.S. and fantasy lands.
From My Shelf
I’m adding a section to encourage me to read books that I’ve had sitting around for a long time.
What book didn’t you see above? Yeah, the one I absolutely promised I was going to read in March.
I started it. I just got distracted. Will work on this.
We tried. We really did. Veterinarians are considered essential in this outbreak. We stopped people from coming inside (and it was lovely!). We washed our hands. OMG, did we wash our hands. I normally wash my hands at least 40-50 times a day depending on how many patients I see. Now we were adding in extra handwashing. My hands hurt. The backs of my hands burned when I would run water on them. That’s how you know you were doing a lot of handwashing. We were wearing masks. We were disinfecting. My staff self-destructed of non-corona illnesses. They went to the hospital where they may have been exposed to corona so they had to self-isolate. We were down to what we thought was the absolute minimum and then we lost more. Seriously, I’ve never seen so many sick people in my life.
I kept up with the news on the outbreak and the news on what we could do as a small business to help my practice owner. I’d get mad because we were staying open and risking our health and people were mostly coming in because they were bored at home. Toe nail trims galore. Dogs who had ear infections for a month but now the owner was home with the smelly dog 24/7 so it became an emergency.
I’d come home and strip in the basement. My clothes went right into the wash. I went immediately upstairs and jumped into the shower to decontaminate like I’d been fighting a nuclear reactor meltdown. I have a medically fragile husband. I don’t need to bring this home.
Then I’d get to listen to the husband who had been listening to economic news all day long have a complete meltdown about what is going to happen to the economy. I finally told him that I couldn’t take it. I’d handle the health news. He was on his own for economic. I don’t normally have a problem with stress but this was getting to me.
Then a coworker was coughing. No fever. That’s it. Sent her home. She went to the doctor and they think it was corona. They don’t know because she is young and not hospitalized so they can’t test her. Are we exposed? No idea. Call the health department. Do we close? They tell us they can’t advise us without her having a test. THERE ARE NO TESTS. We decide to self-isolate. (I’m about 100% sure she was not exposed at work.)
I was close to burn out already. I didn’t get a vacation to decompress last year. I went to Florida this January but it was a continuing education conference so I was in class 8 hours a day for 5 days and I took two coworkers with me. Not exactly a calm and quiet vacation. My patience level with humans was shot.
Oh yeah, let’s add in that I had to euthanize my dog on the day we closed. And I had to do it with minimal crying because my snot is potentially infective to my husband who is holding her. Yeah, I’m mentally and emotionally done.
Ok, deep breath.
I napped a good portion of the first day. I stopped looking at the news stories. I have decided to live in my little bubble of happiness. I’m 99.99% sure that my house is free of coronavirus, unless it is inside me. If it is, it is. There’s nothing I can do at this point. Honestly, if it got to me through all that handwashing then I tip my hat to it. It wins. So far I am fine.
I’ve quit looking at Twitter. I love Twitter but it all virus stories right now. I’m going to mute “coronavirus” and “COVID-19” and see if I can still see the happy stuff on my timeline.
I’m going on walks around my neighborhood. So is everyone else but we are keeping a respectful distance from each other. I’ve never seen this many people on my walks before. I had two long walks today.
I’m sewing. I’m being totally fickle about what I sew. Yesterday it was a quilt for a wedding that has already been postponed due to the virus. No rush. Today I worked on my hand-piecing quilt.
I really haven’t read. You’ll be shocked when you see how many books I’ve read this month. They were all used to decompress my brain after coming home after work.
I’m going to put up my hammock and chill. I’m going to nap. I haven’t had two weeks off since I was between jobs in 2017. Before that it was a few weeks in 1997.
The world is burning but right now I can’t do a damn thing about it. So my priority for the next few weeks is to stay healthy and rebuild my mental and emotional stability. I’ll let you know how it goes.
We said goodbye to Freckles yesterday. It was a hard but necessary decision.
We adopted her on December 1, 2009 from English Springer Spaniel Rescue. She was 5 years old. She had been in a kill shelter in Toledo. From her life long hatred of and fool behavior in cages, I’m sure she was a complete nut job in the shelter. She wasn’t a full Springer but the rescue pulled her out anyway. DNA testing showed her to be 33% Springer, 33% beagle with some Brittany, Dalmatian, and Pomeranian thrown in the mix. (I still think the Pomeranian DNA was from the ghost of Snowball spitting on the sample.)
If she was truly 5 then she was 15.5 when she died. She could have been older. It was hard to say.
She was getting very frail and very senile. She had to be reminded often of how to work doors. We have french doors onto our deck. She would go outside and then stand at the door that has never opened and get mad that I wasn’t letting her in. I’d have to physically guide her through the open door to get back inside. She’d go to find her food and end up on the wrong side of the doorway that her food was beside. She’d be sort of in the right spot but with a wall in between her and her food. But she was still able to run through the house when it was breakfast time. Then she’d sleep all the day to recover.
She couldn’t do stairs anymore or get on the couch. Her world kept getting smaller as we blocked off areas where she might fall. She went off dog food about a year ago and was getting special cooked food flown in from San Francisco.
Rules didn’t apply anymore.
She did this when she could still get on furniture and I was eating. Why not walk across the end tables? Cats do.
It will be weird here without hearing her nails clicking down the hall.
We are getting this picture printed out to hang in the hall.
I didn’t think I’d ever say this but I’m actually really impressed with our Republican state administration. They came out early and hard on coronavirus and shut everything down. So what does that look like here?
Seriously. The vet clinic is still open. We closed our waiting room. People could check in and then go to their cars until we came to get them. That started on Monday. By yesterday we were in a bit of a race to see what clinic employee had a complete mental breakdown first. I guess in our minds we were going to be here to treat sick animals. What are we seeing?
Toe nail trims
I’m not even kidding. On Monday we saw over 90% new people with animals who haven’t been to the vet in years. Why does this animal suddenly need a vaccine when they haven’t had one in the last 5 years? I swear, people are just bored and looking for something to do.
Yesterday was just ridiculous. What part of STAY HOME don’t people understand? We actually had people in the exam room when they got a text that they had been exposed to a person who is symptomatic for coronavirus infection. I AM DONE. I’m not super worried about myself but the husband is medically delicate.
On the way home last night I passed an ice cream stand that was open for the season starting Monday. There were about 10 cars in the parking lot and a freaking line for ice cream with a side of community spread of coronavirus.
This morning I ordered the doors to the clinic locked. Now, if the animal isn’t sick we send someone to the car to get the history and the pet and bring it inside. Owners aren’t welcome. If the animal is sick and there is going to have to be a lot of conversation, they can come in.
I’ve always washed my hands a lot because we see so many patients but I’m being extra, extra thorough now. The back of my hands are burning because of the scrubbing no matter how much lotion I add.
This morning, Ohio banned all elective surgeries to conserve gloves. We only do surgeries once a week. We had an extensive waiting list waiting to get scheduled for May dates. Now we are calling everyone scheduled to say it is all off. Mostly they are leaving messages but we did have one person start yelling that she was just going to spay her dog at home herself. Good luck with that ma’am. Bye Bye.
So, how are all your self imposed social distancing efforts going? Is it horrible that I’m quite enjoying myself? I feel like I’ve been training to stay away from humans my whole life. I’m still going to have to go to work for the time being but I’m not going to be surprised if Ohio ends up getting mandatory quarantine soon.
A few days ago I signed up for a free month of Kindle Unlimited. About this same time I saw a Tweet recommending Lily Archer’s books. They were on Kindle Unlimited and now I’ve read 8 in the last two days.
Yes, there are a lot of abs in these stories. These actually should be two or three books but they are broken up to have cliffhanger endings. That really annoys me but with Kindle Unlimited I could just keep reading. I probably wouldn’t have if I had to buy each book separately because I would have felt like I was being ripped off.
I’ve also been binging this author.
I finished this whole series. Actually, I finished it up to the last book that isn’t out yet. VERY frustrating but she has other series out that I’m about to start.
Michael Pollan, known for his best-selling nonfiction audio, including The Omnivores Dilemma and How to Change Your Mind, conceived and wrote Caffeine: How Caffeine Created the Modern World as an Audible Original. In this controversial and exciting listen, Pollan explores caffeine's power as the most-used drug in the world - and the only one we give to children (in soda pop) as a treat.
Pollan takes us on a journey through the history of the drug, which was first discovered in a small part of East Africa and within a century became an addiction affecting most of the human species. Caffeine, it turns out, has changed the course of human history - won and lost wars, changed politics, dominated economies. What's more, the author shows that the Industrial Revolution would have been impossible without it. The science of how the drug has evolved to addict us is no less fascinating. And caffeine has done all these things while hiding in plain sight! Percolated with Michael Pollan's unique ability to entertain, inform, and perform, Caffeine is essential listening in a world where an estimated two billion cups of coffee are consumed every day.
This is a fairly short Audible original audiobook written and read by Michael Pollan. Of course I had to listen to it!
It starts off with the author lamenting that to truly understand the affects of caffeine he had to go off of it for a while. He procrastinated for a long time and then quit his fairly mild caffeine habit cold turkey. This led him to believe that the whole idea of writing about caffeine was stupid and also that he would never write again. He spiraled a bit until his brain got used to this new reality.
I’ve never really been a person who absolutely needed caffeine to function. I’ve always felt like it didn’t have a lot of affect on me. Maybe I’m wrong about that. It turns out even small doses can make major impacts on sleep quality. I’m a good sleeper but who knows if I’m getting the best sleep I could be getting?
This audiobook covers a lot of ground in a short time. There is the history of coffee and tea, the science of caffeine’s affects on the brain, and the affects of caffeine on Western civilization. Did switching from beer to coffee drive the move out of the Middle Ages in Britain once everyone traded being mildly drunk all the time for being buzzed on caffeine?
If you’re a Michael Pollan fan, this is a good addition to your library.
Since I’ve been being quite a blogging slacker lately, I’ve decided to sign up for the Blogging from A to Z Challenge in April.
“What’s that?” you ask.
Well, it is simple. On April 1 you post about anything that starts with A. Write another post for each letter of the alphabet all through the month. There is a master list so you can visit everyone else doing this too.
You can write about anything you want and you have enough time to think up something for each letter if you start thinking about it now. Find out more at A to Z Challenge.
I’ve actually been getting some quality audiobook time in more than reading books.
This is the fourth book in the Innkeeper Chronicle series. You need to have an idea what went on in the first ones to listen to this one. They are all very good though. I’m a sucker for a sentient house in a story.
I’m also a sucker for “human stumbles into the magical world around her” stories. This is the beginning of a series that I can see myself binging even though I have a bunch of other books appearing on my iPad from the library that I need to get to.
It has been a while since I’ve found a new urban fantasy author that I liked.
The slacking continues. I found myself reading a bunch of books that required THINKING so I wasn’t rushing through them like popcorn. Then I didn’t even get through all of the thinking books so I only have a few finishes this month.
I was trying to focus on only Black authors for February but then library holds came in and other shiny things happened. Here are the books by Black authors I read.
My other books
The books I read were:
Set in Morocco, Egypt, and the U.S.
What were my favorites?
From My Shelf
I’m adding a section to encourage me to read books that I’ve had sitting around for a long time.
Yeah, um, moving along, nothing to see here.
Ok, I’m getting up from the computer right now and picking a book off the shelf.
I bought this book when I was giving out books as prizes for Foodies Read. The cover was damaged though so I didn’t give it away. It has been sitting on my shelf ever since. It is now on my nightstand. I WILL read it by the end of March.
Roses of Marrakech is a breath-taking romantic fiction, set between 1944 and 2016. The story
follows 36-year-old primary school teacher, Ivy Fielding, who suffers from a lack of self-esteem due
to a facial birthmark. Her great-aunt Rose, who has always been her main source of emotional
support, has just died, leaving her a bequest as well as her Lavenham cottage to Ivy and her mother.
Ivy discovers tragedies in her family’s past while reading her late great-aunt’s diary, and this inspires
her to fulfil a childhood dream and she jets off to Marrakech for the summer holidays.
Set against the backdrop of wartime Suffolk and the present-day spice-scented souks of Morocco,
Ivy follows a trail of discovery that will change her life and those around her, forever.
But when uncomfortable secrets of the past begin to surface, can she find the courage to confront
them, or is it easier to walk away?
This is an engaging fiction novel that tells stories in two different timelines. The first is the story of Ivy, an elementary school teacher who decides to take a trip to Morocco that she has always said that she’ll do “someday.” Her great-aunt recently died and while cleaning out her house Ivy comes across a diary where her aunt has recorded detail of her life that Ivy did not know about including the lives of her sisters and a romance with an American GI during World War II.
The author did a good job of making the trip to Morocco come alive. She gives a lot of details about walking around through the different sections of the city. It makes you want to go and experience it yourself.
I thought that the past timeline was fairly predictable but it was still well written and entertaining.
I wasn’t as fond of the decisions that were made at the end of the story.
Overall this is a good story about the consequences of secrets in a family.
Rachel gained a BA (Hons) in French/English at Liverpool Hope University and an MA in Modern Languages Research at Lancaster University before training to be a journalist. She now lives in Lancaster and teaches French in a primary school. She has enjoyed writing stories since she was a child and coming runner up in a Sunday Express story competition gave her the confidence to write her first novel, Roses of Marrakech.
Whenever I go on holiday, I always take my notebook with me. Visiting Morocco and Lavenham a few years ago, I made notes of my impressions of the places I visited and began writing the book when I returned”, comments Rachel. “In the book, Ivy’s struggles with coming to terms with her birthmark are based on my own experiences with cerebral palsy, whilst the characters, Violet and Eleanor are based on my great-aunts who both died of TB in the late 1920s”.
“Sixteen-year-old Portia White is used to being overlooked—after all, her twin sister Alex is a literal genius.
But when Portia holds an Egyptian scarab beetle during history class, she takes center stage in a way she never expected: she faints. Upon waking, she is stronger, faster, and braver than before. And when she accidentally touches the scarab again?
She wakes up in ancient Egypt—her sister and an unwitting freshman in tow.”
I wanted to like this one more than I did. It can be hard for me to get invested in YA fantasy books. I finished it and I’m still not super clear on exact why everything was happening.
“Trinity Jordan leads a quiet, normal life: working from home for the Hive, a multifunctional government research center, and recovering from the incident that sent her into a tailspin. But the life she’s trying to rebuild is plagued by mishaps when Li Wei, her neighbor’s super sexy and super strange nephew, moves in and turns things upside down. Li Wei’s behavior is downright odd—and the attraction building between them is even more so. When an emergency pulls his aunt away from the apartment complex, Trinity decides to keep an eye on him…and slowly discovers that nothing is what it seems. For one thing, Li Wei isn’t just the hot guy next door—he’s the hot A.I. next door. In fact, he’s so advanced that he blurs the line between man and machine. It’s up to Trinity to help him achieve his objective of learning to be human, but danger is mounting as they figure out whether he’s capable of the most illogical human behavior of all…falling in love.”
This was a good one. I don’t usually listen to romance on audio. I like to skip the sex parts and that’s harder to do but this was only available on Audible. I’d recommend this one anyway though. Great worldbuilding in a near future world.
I have so many books out from the library right now. I went a bit overboard requesting things for Blackathon. I never learn how to pace myself.