nightdog_barks: (Oak Leaves)
Well, back to winter for us. Overcast, grey, dreary, damp, and cold. :-P

Was saddened to open up the Guardian today (it wasn't in the headlines of the Washington Post yet) and see that the great actor Bruno Ganz had passed away. Yes, Downfall was a great film, but I'll always remember him in Wings of Desire, as the angel who wanted to be human, with its gorgeous black-and-white cinematography and vision of public libraries as sacred spaces. I described it last year as exquisite and talky and enthralling and goofy, and I'd still go with that. :-)

I want it to be warm and sunny again. Sigh.
nightdog_barks: Actor Tom Mix dressed as a cowboy (Movie Poster -- Tom Mix)
Tuesday [July] 6 [1847] start 8 oclock. go 18 miles. camp on the bank of a stream from the platt river where the Indians had camped. we burnt their wickeups for wood. some waided the river to get wood. brought it over on their backs. the camp did not all get up last night neither have they to night. Smoots co have not been heard from since Monday. Grants co did not get up to night.

~ "The Diary of Patty Sessions, 1847," Covered Wagon Women: Diaries & Letters from the Western Trails, 1840-1849, page 168. I have added punctuation, month, and year.

You guys, this is a great book, but when I got to this part I actually SAID OUT LOUD, "But that didn't belong to you!" See? They came across a Native American camp, tore the shelters apart, and burned them for fuel. Now, yes, maybe the Indians had abandoned the camp and weren't coming back, but how could these settlers have known that? Omfg. :-(

Anyway. Here is something awesome -- a first print, first edition, SIGNED COPY of Walt Whitman's Leaves of Grass. Omfg again, but in a good way. His WORKING COPY. This is like ... a holy grail. :DDD
nightdog_barks: Cartoon illustration of a singing crow (Crow singing)
Seriously. It was almost 80 degrees here today (26.7 degrees Celsius). I went in the backyard and refilled all the bird feeders, including the thistle socks. I also switched out the small-seed feeder (which holds mostly millet, as opposed to sunflower seeds) from a BIG feeder to a smaller one, because really, most of the birds are way more interested in the black-oil sunflower seeds than they are in the millet. I also put out more dried corn on the cob for the squirrels. While I was doing all this, Layla helped by barking enthusiastically at a hawk circling overhead, and then at a group of four or five huge crows who flew by, cawing loudly and apparently curious to see what we were doing outside.

Finished Finn Murphy's The Long Haul: A Trucker's Tales of Life on the Road, and, although I liked the beginning, I did not like the book by the end. He may have been saying the right things about race and class in America, but that didn't make him any less of a jerk in my eyes, and I simply could not believe that at least one of his road stories had really happened. After that I read Robert Olen Butler's Tabloid Dreams: Stories, which I liked A LOT. Anyway, I am currently reading Covered Wagon Women: Diaries and Letters from the Western Trails, 1840-1849, edited by Kenneth L. Holmes, and omg it is FASCINATING. I mean, I worry about stuff like "Oh, should I go to the grocery store today or not," and the women writing these letters and diaries are like, "BORE MY EIGHTH CHILD BY THE RIVER AND THEN WENT BY FLATBOAT DOWN THE COLUMBIA AFTER MY HUSBAND DIED OF FEVER," and it is just holy shit these women were PILLARS OF STRENGTH. This volume is the first in a series published by the University of Nebraska, and I am looking forward to more.

Bought Bowlaway, Elizabeth McCracken's new novel, and Ben Aaronovitch's Lies Sleeping, both because I felt the need of some Retail Therapy after President Goat-boy's most recent idiotic shenanigans. National emergency my ass. What a dumpster fire. It will take generations to recover from the damage this shitbag and his enablers have done.

I don't even know sometimes, chiclets.
nightdog_barks: Illustration of a young girl wearing a cat mask bandit-style (Mask Girl)
Ye gods, what a profoundly dreary day. Cold and damp and grey, with a fine, thin mist drizzing the air. It's supposed to stay above freezing tonight, so I pulled the towels off the deck plants. Then I came back inside and turned the heat up.

I saw this on [personal profile] sholio's DW the other day and thought it was interesting -- it's a Trope Sorting Meme, and it made me laugh (in recognition) when I saw my results. Obvious attractions are obvious ...

1 Fairy Tale/Mythology AU
1 Daemons
1 Found Families
4 Enemies to Friends to Lovers
4 Hurt/Comfort
4 Friends to Lovers

The rest are under the cut ...  )

Dreamed last night that I had bought a necklace of some kind from the David Morgan store in Bothell, Washington (while I have been to Washington state, I've never been to Bothell). I was standing in the parking lot, trying to put it on, but I was having trouble fastening the clasp so I asked Mister Nightdog_barks to help me. There were three or four bald eagles nearby (like perching on the roofs of low buildings) watching. A young woman -- a clerk -- came out of the David Morgan store and started talking to me, but I was having trouble understanding her. Eventually I realized she wanted to know if I wanted to purchase an insurance policy for the necklace. I was trying to tell her "no" and still having trouble understanding her when the dream simply trailed off and ended, as dreams do. OK then, brain.
nightdog_barks: English robin on a white background (English robin)
Cold and bleak today -- the sun kept trying to come out, but now it's disappeared, seemingly for good. No sleet, as least as of yet, and it may stay south of us.

Did finish reading Dan Simmons' The Terror, and, while I did say it had its flaws, I also ended up ... loving it. I thought Simmons really did do justice to the historical story of the lost Franklin expedition. There were a few instances where the flashback-within-a-flashback technique didn't quite work for me, and a couple of places where Simmons insisted on rehashing events he didn't need to, but overall he does an AMAZING job of telling a difficult story, with some absolutely incredible set pieces (the "masked ball on the ice" just blew me away). So, yes. Two thumbs up, enthusiastically recommend. Would warn for contextually-appropriate gory death, violence, and sickness (scurvy omg), plus the kind of casual racism one would expect from certain characters.

Currently reading a nonfiction book by a writer named Finn Murphy, called The Long Haul: A Trucker's Tales of Life on the Road, which is exactly what it sounds like. I picked it up because we saw the author being interviewed by Paul Solman on PBS NewsHour a few weeks ago, and I thought it sounded interesting. And so far, it is! :D
nightdog_barks: (Oak Leaves)
At around 4 this morning, a line of thundershowers rolled through and brought a cold front, and now it is 36 degrees (2.2 Celsius). It's supposed to be 24 tonight. So back in the house come the citrus trees and the papaya. I also brought in the dwarf mulberry because it has a lot of baby green leaves. Everything else still on the deck will get covered -- I use plain old bath towels, and so far that's worked really well. It was in the 70s yesterday. I went to Lowe's to pick up some more dried corn cobs and they had young tomato plants for sale. :D

Meanwhile in Michigan -- icy ghost apples! Seriously, these are so beautiful.
nightdog_barks: (Green Tree)
Warm and cloudy. The dwarf mulberry and the bush cherry both have visible baby green leaf buds. O_o

Dreamed last night that I was back in my college dorm, only everyone was grown up and I couldn't remember anyone's name. Also the dormitory was clearly an office building. Hmmm.

More than halfway through Dan Simmons' The Terror now. This book has its flaws, but omg it is a great read.
nightdog_barks: (Puppy Toss)
It is the fourth day of February, and it is 81 degrees here, chiclets (27.2 Celsius). It's supposed to be 75 tomorrow and Wednesday, and then by the end of the week it drops into winter again. But for now this is A-OK by me. :D

Watched the movie Annihilation the other night. I did like it a whole lot more than I liked the book (I ... didn't like the book) but wow it is still a very strange ride.
nightdog_barks: Cartoon illustration of a dancing crow (Crow dancing)
You feel ... a lot like early spring! Cool but not cold outside, and omg so damp. Humidity is 83%, with a breeze out of the south. Lots of birds in the backyard, including two white-winged doves who appear to be eating the corn kernels the squirrels drop onto the ground. Just wish the sun would come out.

Currently reading Dan Simmons' The Terror, and so far (about seventy pages in) I am really liking it.
nightdog_barks: A double track leads through a field of snow into a dark forest (Path into snow)
You weren't too bad, I think, but I'm glad February is shorter.

Movie

Jan. 28th, 2019 10:46 pm
nightdog_barks: (Blindfolded Queen)
You know how sometimes you catch bits and pieces of a movie over a few months, and then you come in like halfway through and see some more, and then you come in halfway through and get to see the ending, and then FINALLY you get in at the beginning and watch it ALL THE WAY THROUGH and you're like holy shit I've been missing all this the whole time?

Dear Reader, that was me and The Prestige, the movie that the Nolan brothers (Jonathan and Christopher) made before they made Inception, and before one of them (Jonathan) created Person of Interest. This is one amazing movie. It is not a nice movie, not by any means, but good god it is worth watching. All the way through.
nightdog_barks: Illustration of sunflower by Ulisse Aldrovandi (Sunflower by Aldrovandi)
Really. It's clear and crisp and just warm enough to set the citrus trees back outside for the day and give them a good feeding and watering.

I did finish reading Michael Ondaatje's Warlight, and I liked it a lot. I will say that I loved the first half of the book, after Nathaniel's parents had left him in the care of the two dodgy characters, The Moth and The Darter. After all, how could I not love a story which begins, "In 1945 our parents went away and left us in the care of two men who may have been criminals."? I could've read a whole book devoted to this part of the story, just as I could've read a whole book, separate from Donna Tartt's The Goldfinch, about Theo and Boris in Las Vegas.

ANYWAY. I liked the second half of Warlight, with its search for the secret life of Nathaniel and Rachel's mother, and then I was surprised at the end of the book, because ... I don't know, I guess I just didn't expect it to go there, even though Ondaatje had foreshadowed it enough that previously I had actually thought "Hm, I hope Nathaniel is [REDACTED BECAUSE SPOILER]." Would still recommend, two thumbs up.

Wishing it was spring already.

Eclipse

Jan. 20th, 2019 11:22 pm
nightdog_barks: (Moon Boy)
Stepped out onto the deck with Layla. The moon is a disc of copper.

Torando

Jan. 19th, 2019 10:58 pm
nightdog_barks: (Red Devil)
On our local news tonight, the chyron on the TV screen informed us that a torando had hit in Alabama.

Not a tornado.

A TORANDO.

Points

Jan. 17th, 2019 06:24 pm
nightdog_barks: Cartoon illustration of a singing crow (Crow singing)
1) Went out on the deck yesterday to repot a small African violet I'd picked up for $2 from the clearance shelf at Lowe's, and while I was out there, I realized there was something wrong with the two little bird feeders I had hanging from our oak trees. When I looked more closely, I saw that squirrels (I assume it was squirrels) had STOLEN THE STEEL PERCHES. Luckily, they'd just thrown them on the ground, but. Four little U-shaped perches on each feeder, eight in total. I could only find seven, but Mister Nightdog found the last one today. They were all easily re-inserted, but ffs. THE BRAZEN LITTLE VANDALS. O_o

2) In the backyard again today and there was a huge crow high up in a tree in neighbor's yard, cawing. Layla saw it and started barking at it, then bounced across the yard, following it in flight as it flew away. I laughed and told her what a silly girl she was. She was so happy. What a goofball. :D

3) So sorry to see that poet Mary Oliver passed away today.

4) Currently reading Michael Ondaatje's new novel Warlight.

5) Here is a Mary Oliver poem:

Sleeping in the Forest

I thought the earth remembered me,
she took me back so tenderly,
arranging her dark skirts, her pockets
full of lichens and seeds.
I slept as never before, a stone on the river bed,
nothing between me and the white fire of the stars
but my thoughts, and they floated light as moths
among the branches of the perfect trees.
All night I heard the small kingdoms
breathing around me, the insects,
and the birds who do their work in the darkness.
All night I rose and fell, as if in water,
grappling with a luminous doom. By morning
I had vanished at least a dozen times
into something better.


Five things make a post.
nightdog_barks: (Glass Full of Rain)
Ugh, another dark and dreary day, no sign of the sun and unremittingly damp. :-P

Here's another very cool science story, this time from Haaretz. You guys remember 'Oumuamua from a couple of years ago? The cosmic object that came ambling through our solar system, and everybody said "Wtf?" Well, the head of Harvard University's astronomy department thinks it was a spaceship. Specifically, a solar sail.

"The current propulsion technology doesn’t offer us the possibility to chase after 'Oumuamua. The visitor comes for dinner, goes out into the street and disappears in the dark. It’s possible we will never know what it was looking for.”

It's a really interesting article. :D
nightdog_barks: Painting of a black swan on a gold background (Black swan)
An absolutely grim day today, dark and cold and drizzly. Lots of birds at the feeders, though, and the adorable little juncos on the ground. Also discovered a squirrel industriously tearing strips of paper off the big recyclable leaf bag on the deck and then running away with them, presumably to use as nest insulation. Brazen little thieves. LOL

Here is a wonderfully brain-bending article from Live Science, about a new theory formulated by scientists at the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics in Waterloo, Ontario, on the origin of the universe. Specifically, that a mirror image of our universe may have existed before the Big Bang.

But seen another way, both universes were created at the Big Bang and exploded simultaneously backward and forward in time. This dichotomy allows for some creative explanations to problems that have stumped physicists for years.

It's a fairly short read, and very interesting. :D
nightdog_barks: Image in gold and black of a beautiful queen looking to the left (Queen Zixi)
I had thought that with the departure of the holidays I would return to being in synch with the calendar, but apparently I have spent almost all day today confidently believing it is Thursday. :-P

Anyway. Saw a pine siskin and a little downy woodpecker at the feeders today (the woodpecker was on one of the suet baskets). Have been seeing lots of American goldfinches, but they are all non-breeding males and are not very ... golden.

I had occasion to mention this pic to a friend today, so I thought I'd repost it here (it was posted before from Photobucket, but with the Photobucket shenanigans it doesn't show up, so I've moved it to Imgur). Under the cut is Layla, from when she was eight weeks old. *g*

Baby Layla ...  )

Cheesecake!

Jan. 7th, 2019 04:33 pm
nightdog_barks: (Happy Pink Stove)
So yesterday we finally got ourselves together enough to make cheesecake! (Disclaimer: we cheated like big old cheating cheaters by using a store-bought crust.) But what matters is, we have cheesecake. This is the way we made it, with the "real recipe" under the cut ...

Easy Cheesecake!

1 deep-dish (9-inch) Keebler graham cracker pie crust
2 cups (two 8-oz. packages) cream cheese, room temperature
2 large eggs
2/3 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

Mix together the room-temperature cream cheese and sugar until smooth. Mix in the eggs and vanilla, again mixing until smooth. To avoid beating too much air into the batter, use a mixer set at low-medium speed. To avoid lumps, make sure the cream cheese is softened, and/or at room temperature.

Set the pie pan onto a foil-covered baking sheet, if desired; this makes it easier to transport in and out of the oven, and also protects the bottom of the crust from any potential scorching. Pour the filling into the crust.

Place the cheesecake in the oven. Bake it for 20 minutes, then add a crust shield; or shield the crust with strips of aluminum foil. Bake for an additional 10 minutes (for a total of about 30 minutes). A thin knife or toothpick inserted into the middle of the cake should come out clean.

Remove the cheesecake from the oven, and set it on a rack to cool. Once the cake is cool, refrigerate it, covered, until you're ready to serve it.

Serve cheesecake in wedges, with fresh fruit if desired. Store any leftovers in the refrigerator for several days; freeze for longer storage.

(Link to the real recipe from King Arthur Flour this is based on.)
nightdog_barks: (Bee Flower by Jilian Tamaki)
It's 67 ridiculous degrees outside (19.4 degrees Celsius), with a wind out of the south. Moved the citrus trees back onto the deck, where the bees promptly found the Meyer lemon blooms, and there are goldfinches on the thistle sock and Carolina chickadees on the feeder. Repotted a little aloe vera last night and a coffee tree this afternoon.

Cleaned off one of our end tables in the den yesterday, which doesn't sound like a lot but it was. Trying to do a little bit every day because good god we have acquired a lot of clutter. O_o

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What I'm Reading Now

Fiction
Bowlaway, by Elizabeth McCracken

Nonfiction
Covered Wagon Women: Diaries and Letters from the Western Trails, 1840-1849, by Kenneth L. Holmes

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