I came home kind of late tonight.

When I went to grab the metal cat bowls I use for the kittens' wet food, I noticed that the plastic bases they nest in were a bit dirty and picked them up to wash as well.

Inner metal bowls and plastic outer holders get washed. I put down the wet food in the naked metal bowls while the plastic holders dry off in the rack for a while longer.  

While the kittens are still nomming their dinners, I retreat to my bedroom and close the door.

When I come out again for more than a quick bathroom trip, the metal bowls are gone.

Now, when the bowls are not in their bases, they are lightweight and can be nudged around pretty easily. However, I have a very small one bedroom apartment. 

So I check under every piece of furniture in the rooms they had access to. I check behind doors and furniture and anything else. I check between things and on top of things. I check under the throw pillows on the couch, even though that's ridiculous.

I check the trash, the recycling bag, the sink, the stovetop, and inside the fridge, just in case I wandered around on autopilot and put them somewhere without thinking about it. (I really, really didn't, but I check on the off chance that I am actually losing my mind.) 

People, these bowls are GONE.

What the hell???

________________

7/19 ETA:  Mystery solved -- hiding in plain sight! 
 
They wound up INSIDE the identical metal bowls for their dry food (which don't move around as much since they were properly nested in their outer plastic holders). 
 
Still no idea whether they were put there by me or the cats.
 


Selected Poems, by William Carlos Williams: Holy shit, it has to be noted—and I did not do this on purpose—but it took me five years exactly to read this book. I started reading it on July 11, 2012, and finished it on July 11, 2017.

That's exactly how slow going it was.

To my disappointment, not everything William Carlos Williams wrote is as accessible as "The Red Wheelbarrow" and "This is Just to Say," two of his most famous poems. Instead, there's a mix of transparent and opaque.

And then there's Paterson, which he's also known for, a five-volume epic poem that here is presented in extracts, taking up about forty pages instead of its usual three hundred, and seems to be about a grasshopper, a park, geography, some text from a medical journal, a personal letter, and a history lesson. I don't know if it would have made more sense if I had read it in its entirety, but I'm not interested in finding out.

Williams liked to experiment with white space and sentence fragments—he's a contemporary of e e cummings and T. S. Eliot—but his white space lacks the energy and enthusiasm of cummings, or, later, of Lawrence Ferlinghetti. Mostly it just looks jumbled, or unnecessarily spread out, staggered like the teeth of a zipper. The chopped up, incomplete sentences were coarse and seemed to impede meaning rather than free it. I didn't feel like I was discovering or feeling something; I felt like I was tripping over it.

For such a long volume, my notes with my favorite poems and lines don't even take up a whole index card, and I was definitely experiencing William Carlos Williams fatigue by the end. The book collects selected poems from 1914 to 1962, and I found Charles Tomlinson's introduction to be wordy and almost breathless in tone but informative about Williams and his poetry style, though more useful after I'd read the book than before.

My favorite discovery has to be the complete Pictures from Brueghel series. I'd read parts of it before, but didn't realize there was more to it. It's ten poems based on works by Brueghel the Elder, who I encounter quite often in poetry. There's something about his paintings that draws poets to him. It's probably the level of detail, all the little stories going on in these huge lush landscapes full of color and people and animals. The poems I've read have all evoked such clear images, even if I'm unfamiliar with the paintings themselves, and Williams's work is no exception. Though, as always, in order to enjoy Williams's "Landscape with the Fall of Icarus" to its fullest, you benefit by knowing the joke behind Brueghel's "Landscape with the Fall of Icarus" and the tiny splash Icarus makes down in the corner of the painting where no one is even looking. Just his leg sticking out of the water. Williams captures the humor and sadness of that image, still giving it only slightly more attention than Brueghel did.

It seems I like Williams best when he's being simple and transparent. His complicated, fractured works don't appeal to me as much, and it feels like this collection is more geared toward the latter. But could be it only felt like it.

Contains: rape, classism, and racist language and attitudes.
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([personal profile] darkoshi Jul. 18th, 2017 11:39 pm)
Walking back from my lunch break, I passed a group of 7 crows cawing and flitting between trees.

Next, I came across a group of vultures standing together in a group on the grass. At first glance, they looked like black crows too. I tried not to look at them very directly, as doing so generally scares them away. But I got out my cell phone and took a furtive photo.



A few of the vultures flew upwards and bumped into the side of the building behind them before landing back on the ground. Huh? A couple more did the same thing, and I wondered what were they doing. Then I realized... they were all younglings, and were frightened of me and trying to fly up onto the top of the building. But their flying skills aren't good enough yet to fly straight up 20 feet like that. I walked away, not to scare them further, poor things.

It reminded me of a day last week when I walked right past a single young vulture that was sitting on a railing, not even noticing it until the last moment, as I had just walked out of the building into the sunshine.


A few days ago I was reading about vines... ah yes, to see if my mom was correct that letting them grow up the pine tree trunks can hurt the trees. While doing that, I found out the name of one of the vines that grows in my yard: Virginia Creeper. It has little suckers on its tendrils that helps it climb, and 5 leaflets in each compound leaf.

Earlier today while walking, I saw a similar looking plant with leaflets of 3... and remembered that rhyme, "leaves of three, let them be". I wondered if it was poison ivy. It looks so innocuous; I walk by it nearly every day. In lieu of touching the leaves to find out, I did a web search on my cell phone to find some images of poison ivy, and sure enough, that is what it was. Now I know what it looks like. For the moment, anyway.


china_shop: Fraser's not so sure about that (Fraser Oh-I'm-not-so-sure-about-that)
([personal profile] china_shop Jul. 19th, 2017 04:43 pm)
Invented by [personal profile] lunabee34: Tell me about the episode (or book chapter) that never appeared in one of your fandoms but should have.


White Collar: Neal is knocked unconscious during a case, cue Prohibition-era noir episode with singing, saxophones and threesome subtext, a la Moonlighting's "The Dream Sequence Always Rings Twice."

White Collar: Peter and Neal are captured and held in a confined space. Very confined. El, Mozzie and June work together to rescue them (with Diana and Clinton helping in the background).

Battle Creek: All of season 2.

Agent Carter: All of season 3.

Captain America: A Falcon movie, with the breezy tone of Ant-Man and Spider-Man. Basically, I want (more of) a Sam/Steve romcom. ;-P
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resonant: Brian from The Breakfast Club: Demented and sad, but social (Default)
([personal profile] resonant Jul. 18th, 2017 08:12 pm)
[personal profile] lunabee34 says: "Tell me about the episode (or book chapter) that never appeared in one of your fandoms but should have."

Star Trek TNG: "The Price" is such a god-awful episode that when it leaves those two Ferengi in their shuttlecraft stranded in the Delta Quadrant and doesn't bother to tell us what became of them, that's not even the worst of its crimes. (The worst of its crimes is probably what Crusher and Troi wear to do aerobics.) Anyhow, yes, the Ferengi were acting like jerks, but they didn't deserve to die the kind of death that you'd die stranded in a shuttlecraft 30,000 light-years from home. I think either they should reappear as part of the Borg collective, or the Voyager crew should find them.

Due South: More Ray&Ray. Doesn't everyone want more Ray&Ray? Make RayK go to meet a new informant and discover that it's the Bookman.

The Princess Bride 2: the story of how Buttercup wound up being the Dread Pirate Roberts.
kass: glasses of pink wine (rose)
([personal profile] kass Jul. 18th, 2017 08:01 pm)
1. Beautiful summer skies.

2. A glass of pink wine. (See icon.)

3. Lunch with someone I dearly love. \o/!

4. The entertainment value of watching my son play his first game of Magic: the Gathering today.

5. The prospect of an evening of Great British Bake-Off with [personal profile] sanj once I put Mr. Kid to bed, huzzah.
- There's a group of people who detest it on principle. Asked to define it, they create a definition that basically sorts everything into two categories: Things I Hate, Which Therefore Belong To the Genre I Hate, and Things I Like, Which Obviously Do Not Belong To the Genre I Hate. (Ask a classic rock fan who hates country about Crosby, Stills, & Nash. Or a classic sci-fi fan who hates fantasy about Pern.)

- Traditionally, about a third of it was worthless due to sentimentality.

- More recently, another third of it is worthless because capitalism endlessly churns it out in identical shiny plastic pieces.

- When it's bad, there's nothing worse.

- When it's good, it captures the human spirit so well that it brings tears to your eyes.
dira: Bucky Barnes/The Winter Soldier (Default)
([personal profile] dira Jul. 17th, 2017 01:39 am)
Still not great, but better than last week! 

WIPs currently active: 5

Words written this week: 3,259

WIPs that got no words this week: 0

WIPs that did get words this week:

Codename: Aluminum Bastard (aka broken dick epic): 104, still inching along. I probably just need to hit a scene break soon, but then I’m going to have to figure out what happens next, so…?

Born in the Blood: 821, and it is distinctly possible that every one of them is terrible, but I haven’t figured out how to make them less terrible so for now I’m just going with it.

Dragon!Bucky/tribute!Steve and Learning to Be a Good Citizen: 490, including realizing that I needed to insert an entire chapter before where I initially started writing. 

All Eternals Deck #2: 598, possibly all getting deleted when I redo the beginning because i figured out that I was doing it wrong…

Slavefic #6: 1,246, DIRELY in need of a POV change. Soon. Yes. 

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china_shop: Neal, Peter and Elizabeth smiling (Default)
([personal profile] china_shop Jul. 17th, 2017 12:19 pm)
I wrote a few drabble treats for the Multifandom Drabble Exchange:

1. Shining how we want - Steve Rogers/Sam Wilson, Shortest fake relationship ever.

2. Back it up and do it again - Neal Caffrey/Clinton Jones, The first time was a ruse.

3. Does it almost feel like you've been here before - time traveller/time traveller, The portal whines alarmingly.


And I've read lots of great ones (there went my morning!), but this is my favourite so far:

Pets by [archiveofourown.org profile] lirin - Neal & Satchmo, How can anybody be exasperated around a dog like this?


ION, yay new Doctor!
Gluten-Free Sweet Treats: Cakes, Brownies, Cookies and More, by Emma Goss-Custard: First, this book is British and, as an American, parts of it made no sense to me. The "gluten-free storecupboard" section at the back goes through various ingredients and where to find them but failed to address my many questions. Mixed spice? Stem ginger in syrup? Damsons?? Turns out those're plums. I know this because I can use Google, but I had to go out of my way for it, and I feel like I'd have to go out of my way to find many of these ingredients, which is an obstacle. The other problem is cultural. I'm never going to make spotted dick because the name makes me want to gag.

Still, the cookbook is adorable and has many good qualities, and there are even a few recipes I'd like to try, but at a certain point I gave up because too many of the ingredients aren't things I keep around. Lyle's Golden Syrup and Lemon Oil amongst them. I continued to flip through and look at the nice pictures, but with less of an expectation I'd find something I could make out of my cupboard.

The good news is that every recipe stands on its own. The book doesn't require a custom flour blend. It uses a lot of polenta, ground nuts and seeds, and very little rice flour. It doesn't address flour substitutions, though. There's an emphasis on fresh fruits, as well as different levels of cream (clotted, double, fraîche). Weirdly a lot of the chocolate recipes call for dark and milk chocolate. Not something I see a lot.

The book itself has cute graphics and a colorful layout. I love that each recipe has an info box that tells the size/number of items it makes, baking time, and if/where/how long it can be stored. The introduction to each recipe sometimes suggests flavor variations but only rarely describes the taste and texture of the item. Add that to the fact it only has colored pictures for a third of the recipes, and that means I only have the ingredient list to go by when judging what the final product is going to be like, and in gluten-free baking it's basically impossible to guess the outcome of throwing together a bunch of nut flours and cornstarch. The British call cornstarch "cornflour" by the way. No way that can end badly.

The recipes give amounts in volume and weight (ounces and grams), and there's a helpful index and an abbreviated introduction to gluten-free baking.

Not something I'm going to come back to, but might be a great cookbook if you're gluten-free and in the UK or have gastronomical ties to the region.
Yesterday I finished Dal Ja's Spring with my teacher, and Imaginary Cat, which was a solo watch.

Dal Ja's Spring was charming, slightly dated and, as is the way with noona romances, eventually managed to side-step the heavy pressure on the woman to get married. (Its ending was reminiscent of several other noona romances I've seen, actually, which makes me wonder how influential it was.) It had some lovely friendships and was kind to even the less sympathetic characters. It did drag slightly toward the end, but the main reason I won't be rewatching is technical: glitchy files and out-of-sync subtitles in some episodes, which I could work around but it's a pain.

Imaginary Cat was a short, 8-episode thing about an aspiring web cartoonist and his beloved cat (we could hear the cat's thoughts; he couldn't), which should have been charming but was mostly dull. The story beats were clunky, cartooning is not particularly interesting to watch, and spoiler ). If it hadn't been so short, I would have given up about halfway through, but my completionist tendencies drove me on.

Next up, Chief Kim (with my teacher) and Weightlifting Fairy Kim Bok Joo (on my own).


In offline not-really-news, today has been wonderful. After three days of unrelenting sleety-rainy gales, today there was surprise sunshine, and our favourite outdoor public pool (heated) was open this morning so the boy and I swam in the gently steaming water, and it felt like an adventure, especially after being bundled in multiple layers of merino for so long. The concrete pool surrounds were freezing under my bare toes, but once I got in it was lovely and I had a lane to myself.

Then we had brunch at Floriditas and shared a brioche. Life is good.
And Then There Were None, by Agatha Christie: From Christie's author's note: "I wrote the book after a tremendous amount of planning, and I was pleased with what I had made of it. It was clear, straightforward, baffling, and yet had a perfectly reasonable explanation; in fact it had to have an epilogue in order to explain it."

It was so perfectly explainable that she had to add an extra bit to the story to explain it. Yes, that makes perfect sense. I often find my own writing to be so straightforward it requires an epilogue to explain.

This is only my second Agatha Christie book, and the only thing I remember about the first one is that it had a million characters and maybe some Siamese cats? I figured this one would at least have fewer characters. I read it because I recently finished Yukito Ayatsuji's The Decagon House Murders, which references this book in both the text and the premise, and I wanted to see how closely the two were related. Ayatsuji borrows a lot from Christie, and adds his own interesting twist on the murderer.

As for Christie, I didn't care much about the characters, and the writing is awkward thanks to a disjointed dialogue style that depends heavily on adverbs, like:

She said grimly:

"This woman was poisoned. Possibly by a toxic amount of -ly adverbs."

He said doubtfully:

"Surely that's not possible?"

She said grimlyer:

"Oh, it's totally possible."

And, as previously complained, the mystery had to be explained in an epilogue. Which isn't how I like my mysteries to be solved.

Contains: antisemitism, colonialism, racism.
Note to self: If you want to put pasta into that soup or stew that you're cooking, first pre-boil the pasta. Don't put dry pasta into the soup. Even if it may have worked well in the past, now you'll likely end up with it stuck and burnt to the bottom of the pot.

Remember the orzo incident? It's not only orzo. It's the macaroni too. (But what about noodly noodles? Surely they wouldn't sink and stick?)
runpunkrun: dana scully reading jose chung's From Outer Space, text: read (reading)
([personal profile] runpunkrun Jul. 13th, 2017 02:53 pm)
Tor.com has this eBook of the Month Club where every month they give away an ebook for a week, and then for the rest of the month there are discussion posts and whatnot. Because it's Tor, the books are always DRM-free, and you can get them in mobi or epub—though only if you live in the US or Canada; sorry, everyone else.

This month, Tor's giving away Kushiel's Dart, by Jacqueline Carey, and I know fandom's got a thing about this series, so I'm passing it along. I think the only reason I know about it in the first place is because of fandom and the crossover/fusion fics that borrow its premise. Which, to quote from that Fanlore article, is:
The books take place in an alternate-Europe during the Renaissance; the primary setting is a country called Terre d'Ange, which is a France-analogue. Its people practice an invented religion whose primary tenet is "Love as thou wilt" - as a result all forms of lovemaking are sacred, and in canon most characters are assumed to be bisexual and there are multiple examples of relationships involving BDSM and polyamory.
So go sign up if this sounds like your sort of thing. You'll get Tor's newsletter, but I honestly enjoy having it pop up in my inbox. Tor.com has interesting articles about science fiction and fantasy, and really great free short fiction, and the newsletter gives you little blurbs about them maybe once a week.

Legal stuff: Kushiel's Dart will be available from July 13th-19th. Download before 11:59 PM ET July 19th, 2017.
runpunkrun: dana scully reading jose chung's From Outer Space, text: read (reading)
([personal profile] runpunkrun Jul. 13th, 2017 01:37 pm)
Gluten-Free Cookies: From Shortbreads to Snickerdoodles, Brownies to Biscotti: 50 Recipes for Cookies You Crave, by Luane Kohnke: Did I take a star off this rating (on Goodreads) because the author used the phrase "yummy-in-the-tummy" (in quotation marks no less?!) in one of the introductions to a recipe? No, but I wanted to. I wanted to so much.

Instead, I will ignore that, and focus on the positives, because there are so many of them. To start with: This book does not require a custom flour mix! Each recipe tells you exactly what you need to make it. The measurements are by volume only, though, which I find to be a bummer in gluten-free cooking. I'm going to try the ginger molasses cookies first, and maybe fool around with converting the measurements to weight using an online calculator or chart. If I can find two that agree.

Most of these cookies are made with brown rice flour and almond flour, along with tapioca and potato starch. The recipes call for xanthan gum, but Kohnke says you can substitute guar gum straight across, which goes against everything I've read, but I guess you can experiment with that if it's your thing. Some of the cookies call for vegetable shortening, which I don't cook with, but I've had good results using ghee or clarified butter in place of Crisco, so I'll try that here. The book has an introduction that goes over ingredients, cooking techniques, and tools for those people who are just starting out, but it doesn't get into substitutions much so you're on your own there. And while these recipes don't require a custom flour blend, they are based on Kohnke's own mix. She says you can use it in your favorite wheat flour-based recipes, too, and provides a handy chart to convert a cup of wheat flour to a cup of her blend with all the individual ingredients listed, so you still don't have to mix up a batch of it and have it hanging around.

The recipes cover a lot of the basics: chocolate chip, gingerbread, jam thumbprint, oatmeal, snickerdoodle, shortbread, biscotti, flourless peanut butter. There are sections on kids' cookies (for kids and/or to make with kids), bar cookies and brownies, holiday cookies, and meringues. One of these things is not like the others.

Each recipe has an introduction that describes the cookie's flavor and texture, and at the bottom it tells you how to store them and how long they'll last. There are lovely color photos for each cookie, and a useful index that is sorted by recipe and ingredients. So you can look for "ginger molasses cookie" or "molasses" and find it in both places. This is definitely a book I'll come back to.
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([personal profile] darkoshi Jul. 12th, 2017 11:05 pm)
Our electric company has a program where you can either buy or rent solar panels which are set up out in the countryside (rather than on your roof). They take care of all the setup and maintenance. As I want to support clean renewable energy, it sounds like a great thing for me to do. But after reading the details about the program, I have a nagging feeling that it sounds too good to be true.

Especially the part in the FAQ about renting panels, which says "Monthly credits are expected to be greater than monthly fees providing for instant saving."
I wonder if the panels provide more power when they are new, so that to begin with, the credits might exceed the fees, but in later years the reverse would be true?

Do any of you have experience, or know someone with experience, in these type of programs?

The electric company also has a rooftop solar program. Each customer can only participate in one of the programs, not both. I've seen several houses with solar panels on their roofs. My house would likely be a good candidate for that too, as it gets a good amount of sunshine. But the idea of putting solar panels on my roof worries me in that
- the panels would interfere with getting the shingles replaced, whenever the shingles eventually need to be replaced (although maybe they lengthen the life of the shingles underneath them, as the shingles would be less exposed?)
- if someone needs to walk on my roof for something (cleaning gutters, fixing leaks, trimming tree branches), the panels would be in the way
- if not installed well, they might cause roof leaks?
darkoshi: (Default)
([personal profile] darkoshi Jul. 12th, 2017 10:46 pm)
I've discovered something that's even better than the dried olives I mentioned here: those same dried olives eaten together with salted cashews! Who would have thought that eating something oily and salty together with something else oily and salty would be a thing? Maybe that's the appeal of cheese and olive appetizer plates.

On a side-note, I had tried some unsalted dried olives, and they were one of the most unpalatable things ever. What a difference some salt can make.
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The Gentleman's Guide to Vice and Virtue, by Mackenzi Lee: Henry "Monty" Montague is off to the continent for his Grand Tour with his best friend Percy and, unfortunately, Monty's little sister and a chaperone. But Monty's dad, The Duke of Whatever, is totally fed up with Monty's rake-like behavior and sets down some strict rules Monty has to follow if he wants to learn how to run the estate when he comes back. Uh, spoiler, he doesn't he follow them.

Elsewhere, I described this as a romp, and I stand by it. It's rompy. It's queer. Monty seemingly goes all ways, and in fact reminds me a lot of some James T. Kirks I've encountered in fanfic—rough childhood, convinced of his own awesomeness (as a defense mechanism), will kiss anything with a mouth, and totally, deeply in love with his best friend who has dark skin and can't eat with the family when company comes. This metaphor is breaking down, but Percy is mixed race, and while Monty might be totally oblivious to what this means for Percy, Percy is more than aware of it, and even if Monty doesn't notice, the story does, which I appreciated a lot.

I couldn't help but like Monty even though he's a self-absorbed little shit. He's loveable and slappable in equal measure. Percy adores him, so there has to be something about him we didn't get to see since we apparently meet him at his worst. In keeping with this, Monty's quest was totally dumb, and if he'd listened to ANYONE even ONCE in his LIFE then NONE of this would have HAPPENED, but then you don't have a book, or a guy who can learn from his mistakes. Which I'm not sure he ever does, but whatever. He cries a lot, too, which I dig.

Good hurt/comfort, friends-to-lovers with lots of sweet snuggling and intimate non-sexual contact, in addition to some brief sexual contact. And a kick-ass sister. Fun, super queer, and a happy (if unrealistic) ending.

Contains: violence, child abuse, suicidal thoughts, racism, homophobia, upsetting attitudes towards chronic illness/disability.
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([personal profile] darkoshi Jul. 11th, 2017 10:51 pm)
amusing realization: I don't know them well enough for it to be appropriate to say "Hi there, stranger!" to them.
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