Clumsy

The sidewalks in front of the federal buildings in the section of DC I was in are made of square tiles, probably about a foot across. I am sure they were perfectly fine when they were first put down, but as is always the case with things laid on the ground, the tiles have started to come up a bit, here and there.

Over the past few days, I’ve watched other people catch their toes on the edges of some of the worst of the tiles, and stumble.

As I am a naturally clumsy person, it was only a matter of time before the tiles took me out. Today was that day. Except I didn’t just stumble, unfortunately. I pitched completely forward, landing hard on my hands and one knee. No one who knows me in real life is remotely surprised by this, I am sure.

So today’s been a bit of an interesting day. My shoulders ache from the force of catching myself before doing the full face-plant, and my knee has been throbbing pretty much non-stop. I suspect in a day or so I’m going to have some lovely bruises blooming on that one knee. But hey, at least this time I will know what caused them, unlike most of the times when I notice a bump or a scratch and can’t figure out what happened, which is normally the case.

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View

The view from my hotel window (Washington DC).

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Kids

The hotel in which I’m staying is surrounded by bakeries. Seriously, it seems as if you cannot go a block without passing at least two of them, on each side of the street. I can only assume that people in the government building district must eat a LOT of pastries. Perhaps this explains a lot of things.

Anyway. I’ve taken to lurking in the one nearest the hotel each morning, nursing the largest coffee I can get my hands on, while nibbling on a pastry of my own, and sometimes also knitting (the knitting takes place after the pastry is consumed, of course, as it would be unwise to mix the two of those activities). I’ve found the perfect place to lurk – in a tiny little alcove in the back that enables me to both eavesdrop on the other bakery customers, and also people-watch out the huge windows to the street outside.

This morning my favorite conversation was between a small curly-haired child and his father. I’m not sure what age the boy was, as I’m horrid at estimating that sort of thing, but I am going to guess less than 10. Anyway, it was clear that his class was going to be visiting the White House, because he was asking his dad a lot of questions. He had a lot of concerns, like whether or not they would actually get to see the President, and whether or not the President had boys or girls (girls, his dad told him. Are you sure? he asked, quite insistent that he’d seen a picture of the President with some little boys. Quite sure, the dad replied. The little boy seemed a be put out by this, which I found very amsuing). The most pressing question, however, was what if he had to go to the bathroom while he was there. They will let you use their bathroom, his dad reassured him. This seemed to get the little guy very excited – the possibility of getting to pee in the same place as the president.

And this is the awesome thing about little kids. They can always find a way to get excited about the most mundane of things.

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Year

One year ago today we went to a friend’s house to pick up some temporary house guests: a very dainty momma cat and her six one-week-old kittens.

It was a crazy, adorable, energetic few months as the babies transitioned from teeny little fuzzlumps to busy, bright-eyed kittens, and as the momma transitioned from a nervous, scared little stray to a sweet little thing who discovered that laps are good, and people are nice, and scritches are the best thing ever.

Ruby is still pretty dainty, although she has filled out a little, without kittens sucking her dry. Rupert is her very best friend (whether he knows it or not), and it has been interesting to watch her gradually mimic him. She talks now, quietly, but the same squawk as Rupert. She is still wary – of us and of strangers – but if he is there, she is markedly braver and more social.

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She gets along with everyone but Ingrid (but then Ingrid has issues with everyone). It has been so fun to see her settle in.

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Raw

I know I’ve mentioned before how much I really, really like The Great British Bake Off. So you can imagine how excited I was when I discovered that there’s other versions out there – including one for Australia. Consequently, Richard and I have been making our way through the old seasons (all whopping two of them).

Tonight we were watching an episode while eating dinner (leftover curry chicken from the crockpot in case you were wondering), and one of the challenges was brownies. Mmm. Brownies, I thought. A bunch of Richard’s writer friends were supposed to be coming over for a meeting, so I figured I’d whip up a batch.

I poked around on the internet (where I normally go any time I get a yen to bake something) and found a recipe for brownies swirled with a peanut butter filling that seemed quite promising, and headed off to the kitchen to whip them up. Everything seemed to go fine during the mixing phase – nothing about the recipe sounded ‘off’ and the better certainly looked fine – but alas, it all went down hill after that.

The recipe said to bake them for 20 minutes. I checked after 20 minutes. The edges were firming up but the center was a big wobbly mess. I put them back in for another 5 minutes. And then another. And then another 10. Nope. Still wobbly. Still not cooking.

After about an hour and a half of checking them, popping them back in, and so on, I finally gave up. No brownies for the meeting. Later on Richard and I tried them. The edges were baked, and had that perfect crackle top you want from a brownie, atop a nice chewy middle, but roughly two inches from the edge, it all just went wrong. There’s moist, chewy brownies, and then there’s just raw dough, and these teetered far too close to the latter for me. Raw cookie dough can be tasty, but raw brownie batter – no. Just, no.

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Lurking

This is how Ingrid spends a majority of her day.

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Cats are so weird.

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Distance

The round trip distance to and from the campus for today’s facilities walk through: 240 miles.

The portion of the trip that went through the eternal construction zone that is highway 99: 95%.

The number of steps my Fitbit says I took today, what with hiking from the parking lot to the campus, walking through every single corridor possible in several of the classroom and research buildings, and hiking all the way *back* to the parking lot: over 12,000.

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Bag

A year or so ago, I got a bag. It is one of those canvas bags, of the type you get as swag at a convention. The thing that made this bag stand out, however, is the fact that it had a zipper. And in a house full of yarn-eating cats, the ability to keep yarn in a cat-safe zone is important. So I turned it into a knitting bag, and kept it in a cubby in the coffee table, so I could keep my project-in-progress protected.

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The problem, however, is that I am not the only one who loved this bag. I noticed it had a distressing tendency to ‘fall’ off the table, and get dragged around on the floor.

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It also, somehow, acquired a disturbingly large amount of cat hair.

So eventually, I gave up. Clearly this was not meant to be my bag. I took all my knitting stuff out, and replaced it with some old paper and a wadded up towel.

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It is a very popular bag. It’s just not mine any more.

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Petrichor

The rain came again, finally, in fits and starts, barely more than a drizzle. I’m not sure it is even worth calling it rain, instead of, perhaps, a light misting. But it was moisture, nonetheless and the air was heavy with the smell of it’s coming all day on Friday, and the skies were grey and dreary. Yesterday the air was damp and drizzly and today the streets are wet and the trees still dripping, and when I opened the windows this morning I could close my eyes and smell the aftermath.

It will be summer soon enough. For now, it is nice to still get a little taste, here and there, that it is not always hot and dry in California.

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Usual

The little ‘maintenance required’ light popped up on my car’s dashboard on Wednesday, too late to do anything about it before I had the long drive down to Merced and back, but I knew I couldn’t put it off very long, as there are more long drives in my future. So this morning we dropped my car off at the mechanic’s and then headed home and spent an hour or two giving the upper half of the house a much-needed cleaning. We ran half a dozen loads of laundry – all the bedding and towels in the house – and Richard beat back the rather alarming number of dust bunnies while I tackled the bathroom and the kitchen. And then we ate leftover cookies for lunch and poked around on our computers and waited for the car to be done.

The mechanic called to let me know the car needed a new air filter and new windshield wipers – both of which I either already knew, or assumed would be the case, but added in that it also needed new front brakes. And I realized huh, I cannot recall the last time I had to replace those. But I am closing in on 150,000 miles on the odometer so new brakes makes sense (it’s a 12-year-old car). And I am glad to have had them replaced, before they became an issue. Especially considering those aforementioned long drives we’ll be doing this summer.

After this afternoon, I can add another to that list. My sisters and I have made our final plans for this year’s annual Sisters Only Weekend, and this year we’ll be off to Ashland, Oregon, for the Shakespeare Festival, and it makes far more sense for at least my older sister and I to drive there instead of fly. We’re all looking forward to it.

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