edenfalling: stylized black-and-white line art of a sunset over water (Default)
Greetings from New Jersey!

I drove down from Ithaca this afternoon in order to kidnap my parents' dog, mwahahahaha!!!

Or, in less dramatic terms, to pick up Dottie so she won't have to spend the next two-plus weeks in a kennel while Mom and Dad are off gallivanting around Norway. (Dad is giving a paper at the 11th International Conference on the History of Chemistry in Trondheim -- his conference papers are often their nominal excuse for trips to interesting places -- but they will spend most of their time on general tourism stuff.)

We went out to dinner at Charlie Brown's, I have washed a bunch of laundry, and tomorrow I will head back north through A) rain, B) far too much roadwork, and C) god only knows how many families flooding into Ithaca to drop their kids off at Cornell for the start of classes on Monday the 21st.

And then I will have a temporary dog. Yay dog! :D
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1. Called Vicky Saturday evening and talked about various things for a hour or two.

2. Changed linens.

3. Bought Susan's birthday present. I started by going to the Farmer's Market down at Steamboat Landing, but they didn't have anything that really jumped out at me. So I drove up the west shore of the lake to American Winery and bought her three types of specialty fudge. I am mostly neutral on Americana's wines -- a few each year are pretty good, most are okay, a few are emphatically not to my taste -- but I have never yet disliked any of their fudge varieties, so. I got her Maple Bacon Chocolate, Amaretto Chocolate Swirl, and Dark Chocolate Covered Cherry. :)

more items under the cut )

21. Susan's birthday celebration! We met at the G family house around 7pm, where Cat and I admired Susan's kitten (Abbie, a gray tabby with white socks and a bit of tan around her ankles) and Susan opened our gifts.

Then we went to Yuki Hana, a local sushi place, for dinner. We got three items to share: unagi don, orange dragon rolls, and ume-shiso rolls; before the main course, Susan and I each had miso soup and Cat had the complimentary salad that came with the unagi don. We declined desert, but received a plate with three watermelon slices apparently just because, which was unexpected but tasty. I had to preemptively take a Benadryl because of raw avocado and cucumber, but it was totally worth it. :)

After dinner, we returned to the G family house and chatted for a while before Susan suggested we try some of the fudge I'd gotten her. Rev. and Mrs. G were invited to join in, and the general consensus was that fudge is good. (This is not a terribly controversial conclusion, I feel. *wry*) We enlisted Rev. G to take pictures of the three of us before Cat had to bail (since she needed to get some sleep before driving to Pennsic on Monday), and I am very glad we were able to get together like that. :D

22. Finished the beta draft of "Intervention" (my WIP Big Bang fic) and sent it to beta. \o/

23. Drove back to Ithaca. I should mention at this point that on both the drive down and the drive up, I was listening to a lecture series on tape: The Barbarian Empires of the Steppes, by Prof. Kenneth W. Harl of Tulane, which is part of the Great Courses series. There are 36 lectures in total, two per CD, and I have gotten through 17 of them. (I started on lecture 3, since Mom and I listened to some of them on a previous car trip and while I couldn't remember exactly where we left off, I knew it was past the first CD.)

I don't know why I never tried listening to nonfiction audiobooks or audio lectures on car trips before. (I specify nonfiction because I find fiction audiobooks intensely distracting; the voices never quite match what's in my head, and also the pacing tends to be indefinably wrong.) But listening to lectures while driving uses one problem to solve another in the most beautiful way. First, the lectures help me stay alert and focused on the road in a way that I otherwise find difficult -- caffeine is not infallible, and music gets samey after a while -- because I have to be paying attention to what the lecturer is saying, and relating it to previous lectures and my own general understanding of world history. Second, driving is a visual/kinesthetic task that eats up enough of my concentration that I actually CAN pay attention to the audio input, which is something I otherwise find nearly impossible and have had to resort to sewing projects or coloring books in order to listen to occasional podcasts that I decided were important enough to make the effort.

Anyway, I think I can get at least one more round trip to NJ and back out of this lecture series -- and then probably down to NJ again -- but after that I need to look into my local library's audio offerings, because I didn't get drifty even once on this trip, and I promise you it's not because I'd gotten any more sleep than usual. *wry*

...

And that is that, and I really have to remember to make these posts more often because covering ten days at once is ridiculous.
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The bus ride down was uneventful, and arrived only 5 minutes late despite leaving Ithaca ~20 minutes late and not making up any time between Ithaca and Binghamton. Dad was waiting for me, and our drive to Madison was likewise uneventful.

I did another NYS tax training mini-course this afternoon, and will shortly change into nicer clothes for Mr. M's memorial dinner, which will start at 6pm.

Probably I will not get any writing done tonight, but perhaps tomorrow -- I don't have anything scheduled besides Susan's concert in the evening. (Well, and presumably laundry, but that's not nearly as much of a production when I don't have to haul two weeks of clothes and linens to a laundromat all at once. *wry*)
edenfalling: stylized black-and-white line art of a sunset over water (Default)
Okay! My parents' plants have been watered; their mail has been collected, sorted, and in a few cases reposted to Minnesota for them to deal with; all my laundry is clean and folded; Susan and I hung out last night (pizza and the third Hobbit movie); I've eaten lunch; and my NFE works have all been edited one last time. I think it is time to head home to Ithaca.

So. Brush teeth, close windows, wash dishes, pull shades, set the lights in a different pattern from what I found when I arrived, pack my car, and hit the road.

*dusts hands, sets to work*
edenfalling: stylized black-and-white line art of a sunset over water (Default)
Friday morning I caught a bus down to NJ to see my parents and my friend Susan. I took a suitcase full of laundry, which was feasible because I had done laundry the previous Sunday and therefore didn't have all that many clothes and linens to bring, and I figured I might as well be lazy.

Mom and I had a minor adventure getting from Ridgewood to Madison -- moral of the story, do not drive on the Parkway in August when everyone and their dog is headed to the shore for the weekend; also, if you want to take an alternate route home so you can stop at church en route to drop some things off, look up some directions beforehand -- but we managed in the end, despite the inherent limitations of trying to read Google Maps off my tiny phone screen.

Friday night Susan and I ate out at Poor Herbies, which is a Madison institution; a fair number of people I knew in high school had their first jobs as Poor Herbies waitstaff. I got a calamari appetizer and a steamed broccoli side, which made a perfectly filling meal; Susan got a cheeseburger and fries. We considered ordering some hard root beer to see what on earth it tasted like, but decided against experimentation and just went back to her place. We then spent a few hours talking, walking her family dog, and watching the pilot episode of Warehouse 13 which is a show she really likes. I found it enjoyable, but it didn't particularly grab me. I might try episode two at some point and see if it clicks better, but I suspect inertia will nix that vaguely formulated intention. (It is not nearly solid enough to count as a plan.)

On Saturday I did nothing in particular, aside from walk Dottie in the early afternoon, write a tiny ficlet, and talk off and on with my parents. On Sunday Mom, Dad, and I went to a local Friendly's for breakfast, after which I finished packing and hit the road heading west and north. I brought back a LOT more stuff than I left with, even discounting the actual car. I have two bags of church recycling sale donations, five bags of books to donate to the Friends of the Library book sale, and a large cooler full of food because Mom was both trying to clear out her own refrigerator (since she and Dad won't be back until October) and indulging in some generalized "I can't find you a job but I can at least make sure you are FED!" stress relief.

Well, I'm not going to turn down free food. *wry*

Monday was my fourth day at my new job, henceforth dubbed the health garage -- this is a terrible pun-based joke which you will not understand because I'm not telling you the actual name of the organization -- and I think I am really starting to get the hang of things. I'm not expected to be on my own until next week, which is nice though I think I could probably manage as early as this Thursday if necessary. What I need to work on mostly is recognizing clients so I won't have to ask their names and look up all their information every time they come in, and just generally speeding up my progress through various tasks. Both will come with time and familiarity.

And that's what I've been doing, more or less.
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Quick weekend report:

The bus trip was uneventful, though it began oddly. See, the bus station bathrooms were closed (though at least the men's room was apparently functional??? some dude ignored the chunk of plywood blocking off that area and used it, anyway) so I had to go across the street to GreenStar, the local organic coop grocery store, to use their restroom before the bus arrived. But aside from that, everything went as scheduled.

The dinner party was very enjoyable. Susan was able to stay long enough to actually get some dinner rather than just hors d'oeuvres, and it was good to catch up on what Mr. and Mrs. M, and Mr. and Mrs. G (...I guess actually Rev. and Mrs. G, now?) have been doing.

On Saturday Susan and I met downtown to have lunch at Romanelli's pizzeria, and then saw a 1pm showing of Age of Ultron. I enjoyed the movie. It wasn't terribly deep, but I went in expecting two solid hours of entertainment and that is what I got.

more thoughts behind the cut -- beware of spoilers! )

In summary, I think Age of Ultron may end up being the Iron Man 2 of Avengers movies: a bit of a hot mess, partly because of middle-volume slump and partly because it's trying to cram in too much setup for other story threads, but still highly entertaining.

Anyway, moving on! I had an early-ish dinner at home with my parents, and then went on a slight adventure, otherwise known as "finding a church in Mendham," and then "finding parking." I was successful at both quests, though not without a couple setbacks. (In other words, one road had no street sign, and the church had no parking lot.) Then I listened to Susan's concert, which was a joint thing between the church choir she sings in and a subsection of a local chorus called the Masterwork Camerata. It was all sacred Christian music: a Gloria by Vivaldi; then three shorter pieces performed only by the Camerata group; then selections from The Messiah by Handel. The performances were good, and the church acoustics were wonderful.

On Sunday I went to church with my parents. It turned out to be the Coming of Age group's week to run the service -- that always leads to interesting results. In this case, we got a slideshow of a trip to Boston, several teens presenting short statements of their beliefs and general outlook on the world, teens presenting the results of trying to live out one of their beliefs for two weeks, and a lot of musical performances. Also bubble machines, because who doesn't love bubble machines?

And then I drove back to Ithaca, stopping several times en route to give Dottie a brief walk. The end. :-)
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Since I am not currently working, I can actually make a proper Thanksgiving visit this year instead of my usual drive-down-Wednesday, drive-back-Friday routine. I hit the road around 12:30pm, and arrived in Madison around 5:45pm. The delay was entirely due to traffic. Because tomorrow's weather forecast is so dire, I think a lot of people left a day early and so shortly after I crossed into NJ, I-80 stalled out like nobody's business. I inched along until exit 27, then bailed onto US-46 and then onto NJ-10... and fortunately I-287 south didn't back up until just after my exit in Morristown, so I arrived safely at my parents' house, stuck a load of laundry in the wash, and promptly crashed for a half hour nap.

I was going to go to Mom's evening yoga session, but she has a cold and I was exhausted, so we skipped that and simply had dinner a bit earlier than planned. Now she and Dad are watching Dancing with the Stars (well, it could be worse; they could be watching political talking head shows) while Vicky periodically texts us with updates on her bus trip's lack-of-progress from DC to NYC. Presumably she will arrive in the city sooner or later, at which point she'll catch a train back out to NJ. Public transport can be weirdly circuitous that way.

And that is pretty much that, at least for now. :-)

-----

ETA: Ugh, DWTS finished or took a commercial break and now they ARE listening to political talking heads. I don't even care whether I agree with the hosts' positions or not -- all those shows trade in outrage, and I do not handle outrage well at all. I have, in fact, spent significant portions of my life painstakingly teaching myself NOT to get outraged, because I handle anger so badly. I can channel it into physical violence, or I get the literal shakes until I can do meditative calming exercises. There are no other options. I cannot use it constructively. And I always feel like I've been internally bathing in acid afterward.

Basically, I would rather have norovirus again than listen to political talking heads, regardless of their ideological orientation. Yes, I mean that literally.

This can make visiting my parents rather awkward. Fortunately, they are used to me being antisocial and shutting myself up in my room. I just wish they kept the volume down so I wouldn't have to close my bedroom door and mess up the house's heat flow.
edenfalling: stylized black-and-white line art of a sunset over water (Default)
I stuck a bunch of citations into my essay, edited to add a couple more supporting points and thus raise the wordcount, created a little 'works cited' page, uploaded it, and confirmed that yes, I was submitting my assignment for grading. It is not what I consider great writing, but it does answer the topic, and it does so in the correct format: a thesis paragraph, some example paragraphs, and a conclusion paragraph. (In other words, tell them what you're going to tell them, tell them, and tell them what you told them. *wry*) Next time I will try to bring in some sources beyond the basic course textbooks, if only to give the illusion of more commitment. In truth, I happen to own several topic-relevant books for unrelated reasons. It shouldn't be hard to flick through and find a relevant passage or two.

The only outside book I used this time was my trusty copy of Writing Research Papers: A Complete Guide, 8th ed., by James D. Lester, because MLA citations, what even. I have always been grateful to my high school's English department for giving every incoming freshman a copy of that book. I never found it useful as a writing guide, but as a handbook for citation format? INVALUABLE.
edenfalling: stained-glass butterfly in a purple frame (butterfly)
I got on the road at 10:15am and arrived in Madison at 2:45pm, which is not the best time I've ever made, but not bad at all considering I had to walk Dottie at every stop and there were some construction delays around Binghamton and Scranton. Dottie was thrilled to be home, but shortly realized that my parents weren't here waiting for her. She then got onto the back porch, climbed onto a table, set her paws on the windowsill, and stared disconsolately toward the garage where their car mysteriously failed to appear. :-(

I have fed her, walked her, and played her own particular variation of "fetch" with her (the trick is that she won't bring the toy to you; it's as much a game of "tag" as anything), and she is now sitting on my lap as I'm typing these words, soaking up the comfort of human contact even if it's not the contact she really wants.

My parents' flight was delayed leaving London, so instead of landing shortly after 9pm, they are now forecast to land shortly after 10pm. They will call once they exit the plane, at which point I will get into the car and start driving. With a bit of luck, their time in customs and baggage claim will match my time in transit, and we will meet outside Terminal B. Failing that, I can just circle the airport and try again. *wry*

I have washed two loads of laundry, one of which is now dry and one of which is currently in the dryer. The third load -- all my linens, basically -- is in the wash. And a bunch of shirts and pants are hung up on drying racks or hangers and should be ready to pack tomorrow.

I believe the plan is for Mom, Dad, and me to go out for breakfast -- or maybe just do a sit-down meal with pancakes and bacon? A proper "family meal" of some sort, anyway. So Susan and I have agreed to meet for lunch at 1pm at the sushi place by the bowling alley, near the border between Madison and Chatham. I will avoid ordering anything with raw cucumber or avocado, and will bring a couple Benadryl in case I want to live dangerously and sample something from Susan's plate that I'm allergic to. (I do like sushi, but my raw vegetable allergies -- and particularly my avocado allergy -- restrict my options a LOT.)

And now I am going to kill time for four hours until I get a phone call summoning me to my chariot. :-)
edenfalling: colored line-art drawing of a three-scoop ice cream sundae (ice cream sundae)
Greetings from New Jersey!

I got a later start than I intended -- 10am rather than 9am, or ever 9:30am -- and then took a tiny nap at the Delaware Water Gap welcome center, so I didn't reach Madison until 2:30pm almost exactly. But the trip was smooth and I got here, which are the main points.

I took shameless advantage of my parents' washer and dryer, and then drove to Susan's house at 5pm, after which we went to her fitness center to use their outdoor pool. This was a little awkward for me, since my only good swimsuit is at the cabin in Minnesota (for obvious reasons), but I did have a bikini I purchased as an emergency swimsuit... oh, fifteen years ago, maybe? at a Target in Iowa when I realized I'd forgotten to bring my real swimsuit on vacation. And it still fits, though it is a lot lower-cut across the chest than I am really comfortable with. (That is why shortening its straps was one of my recent sewing tasks, btw.) We goofed around in the pool, then goofed around a bit more in a hot tub. I like hot tubs. :-)

After going home to shower and otherwise tidy up, we reconvened at Susan's house and headed off to Chili's for dinner. I had never actually been to a Chili's before, but they're the vaguely Southwestern equivalent of TGI Fridays, or Ruby Tuesday, or Applebees, or fill in any other generic American franchise sit-down meal restaurant, so I figured the food would be functional, which it was.

Cat met us there at about 9pm, since she was in Madison visiting her parents for the weekend. So it was a full-on reunion! She had already eaten dinner, but we split a slice of cheesecake three ways because why not. Then we headed back to Susan's place, chatted for a while, and watched an episode of Doctor Who ("Journey's End") on Netflix, since it neatly combines humor and explosions, and isn't terribly long.

You have to remember that our movie night tradition, back in high school and college, was Bad Action Movie Night -- we watched things like Highlander: Endgame, and Mortal Kombat: Annihilation ON PURPOSE. I am actually slightly shocked we landed on something as relatively high quality as Doctor Who. ;-)

In the morning I will pick up my parents' mail, because there is one particular bill that will be due before they come home from Minnesota, and which didn't arrive before they left on Monday. Susan and I may or may not do lunch, depending. And then I will drive back to Ithaca with a bunch of clean laundry, two-thirds of a bacon cheeseburger, and a case of Coke -- because hey, payment for services rendered!

And then on Tuesday, I fly to Minnesota myself.

(Unless, of course, I get a job. Then all bets are off. But I suspect I will be going to the island.)

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Elizabeth Culmer

August 2017

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