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Jude the Obscure by Thomas Hardy

Every year I try to read one Thomas Hardy book. I feel like I missed reading his classic books at school and after watching Mayor of Casterbridge mini-series a few years ago, and then reading the book, I thought I should read more of him. I can get most of the books for free on my Kindle too. (I also share a birthday with Hardy, which always amuses me). I am usually surprised by his characters and his points of view and there is enjoyment in his plots, even if there is a lot of coincidence at times.

Jude the Obscure is the fourth book of his I read (after Mayor of Casterbridge, Far from the Madding Crowd, and Tess of the d'Umbervilles) and it might be my least favorite, mostly because more characters were somewhat annoying. Especially Sue- she was just terribly annoying -why are two characters so in love with her. Incidentally, this book is the only Hardy book my Dad read when he was in school in Soviet Union. And I can see why - and why this book was so controversial for its time, with its ideas of institution of marriage. A lot of problems like social consequences of divorce would not be big problems today. But a lot of problems would also not happen if the characters themselves were not so silly at times. Sue was also probably asexual and would have been a lot happier if she was born in modern times. This book also had a fairly dramatic turning point, not often found in books with the dead kids, which was pretty dreadful to read, especially as you sort of suspect it is coming. (being pregnant when reading that section was not helpful). So, I can see why this book is a classic but it was not my favorite of Hardy's.

Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman

After I read Gaiman's American Gods in 2010 I really wanted to read up on Norse Mythology. I knew some of the gods but I wasn't as familiar with that mythology unlike the Greco-Roman one. So a couple of months later in 2010 I borrowed The North Myths by Kevin Crossley-Holland from the library and read that. I enjoyed the book - the language was more formal there but I felt I learned a lot.

Neil Gaiman's book is in more popular language, and I think it will be fantastic for Tanya and baby sister when they get older. I did enjoy it, despite being familiar with the stories, it was a nice refresher. And I found the writing very funny, especially anything related to Thor and his dialogue. Gaiman is also fond of Loki - so Loki comes out as an interesting character. There wasn't a lot of Odin in this one. Definitely an amusing book. But for some reason it took me a while to read it - I enjoyed it when I was reading it but didn't feel as compelled to keep reading.

Among Others by Jo Walton

I read this book pretty fast - love the ability to read on my commute. I do have a goal of reading more Hugo winning books (and more female sci-fi/fantasy authors) so this was certainly one book I heard good things about and wanted to check out. And I did like the book but it did not feel like a fantasy book at all. Among Others )

Overall, good book that I'm glad I read but I'm not sure if it will be a favorite or how much more of Jo Walton I want to read.

The Man in the High Castle by Philip K. Dick

I was going to do a book post on Tuesday once I finished Walton, but I kept putting it off. So by the time I got to writing up the post, I finished another book - go commute and some free time yesterday. I gave this book to my Dad for his birthday with an intent to read it myself, so I ended up reading an actual physical book.

The Man in the High Castle )

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Sunday, May 21st, 2017 10:02 pm
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We had guests today - a sort of housewarming. Janna and her 3.5 year old daughter Jo came, and Yeva, and Marianna, Adama and their 3 kids (Galya - almost 6, Ida - same age as Tanya at 2 years and almost 10 months, and Mozen - 7 months). So we had a full house.

In the morning, I made soup and cutlets for Tanya and then attempted a Swiss Roll, while Bear and Tanya were at the playground. I really should keep off my feet, this week with the hot weather my ankles got really swollen, but I really wanted to try baking it. The cream cheese frosting was delicious but the first sponge didn't quite work because the recipe really called for a bigger pan and it wasn't as thin as it should have been, so it needed longer oven time and got a bit ruined (It does taste good but I really couldn't salvage it for guests, we will eat it ourselves). I made a simpler one and it wasn't bad - Marianna really liked it, but really not my best. I will need to try again later. We did have a watermelon for desert too, which was a hit, and grape tomatoes and cheese and crackers for appetizers. And we ordered Uzbek food again, which was super tasty. So lack of proper desert wasn't terrible and everyone had a great time.

Tanya resisted her nap today and only napped for an hour - she was pretty cranky when I woke her up but she really needed to have her snack before the guests started showing up after 4pm. The kids had a blast playing with each other and all the toys. And it was great to catch up with everyone, although hosting and some kid supervising meant a little less time with my friends than I liked.

We also had the unpleasantness with our downstairs neighbor. They complained about Tanya running around twice before - which is ridiculous. We do have carpets but in this building the sound travels. We have elephants above who play flute music late at night sometimes - we don't complain. A two year old is going to run around and play and be loud. They got spoiled with an old lady living above them for years. And their downstairs neighbors complain about them too, when my Mom asked the babysitter who works there. But I just knew today would be trouble with 4 little girls running around and playing. But they are kids and they should be able to play for 4 hours from 4pm to 8pm on a Sunday - not that late. So one of the neighbors from downstairs came to complain around 5:30 maybe. Then around dinner time they were banging on their ceiling in the kitchen too to express their displeasure. Then she came again to our door around 8pm, basically saying we should have some respect and that I did tell her the guests would be leaving around 7 etc. Excuse me, she would tell me when I should have company. We never have anyone over! This time it was Bear and Adama who got into it with her. Adama did get a little heated with her on our behalf (he felt bad about it later, but he was upset at how unreasonable this is and he knows we are not particularly confrontational people and are too polite.) Bear is just afraid that the neighbor might complain that she was threatened by a big black man who got in her face. Adama didn't touch her in any way but they were standing close to each other and it got a little heated. I had to pull him away there a bit, mostly because I don't like confrontation. So that marred the party a bit but it was still great to see everyone and I was glad to see all the girls interact. Tanya really needs more playdates; she doesn't get to play like that much, as she is mostly around adults, and I think it was great for her.

I have one more week of work before my leave, which can't come soon enough. It is not that easy to commute at 36-37 weeks. There still isn't much to do at work, but this week should be a little busier since one of the directors, Gail, needs to finish off all the contracts this week and she will give me some work to do, she promised. She's been taking me to meetings too - which is good to observe to get a hang of things. And one of the best parts of going to work is all the food around there. I got Thai food for lunch on Tuesday - rice and massaman chicken curry and eggplant veggie thing - and there was so much delicious food that I didn't even eat dinner later.

This last week was also unusual in that I had some time to myself. On Monday, Bear took Tanya to Long Island to visit his parents for a day and they only came home around 10pm (way past her bedtime, she was staggering a bit there). She was so excited to go that morning that as I was leaving for work I saw her standing in the hallway by the door with just her panties and her undershirt, holding two of her toys, wearing her sneakers, which she just put on, since she was all ready to go to see Baba Regina and pet the cats. It was very funny. And then on Tuesday morning, Bear drove her to my parents' house where she stayed until Thursday. On Wednesday, my Mom took her to the zoo. And I got almost three days entirely to myself, which hasn't happened since Tanya was born really. I mostly just lay in bed and watched TV - I caught up on Season 2 of "Sense8" which I enjoyed. And I read too - book post coming next week with 3 books. It was definitely great.

Monday, May 8, 2017

Monday, May 8th, 2017 09:20 pm
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Today was my first day at the new job. It was mostly boring because I don't really have anything to do yet. I left the house a bit early at 7:20 so I could recharge the Metrocard and give myself extra time to walk to the subway. The commute is an hour or so with the walking (subway is about 12 minutes away from my place and about 5-10 minutes from the Manhattan station), so I had plenty of time before I had to be in HR at 9am to enjoy the views of the river. Before I left, I had time to eat breakfast and make Tanya her breakfast and feed her, so it felt rather nice not having to rush out of the door at 6:20.

From 9am to about 11am there was orientation at Human Resources department. They gave us a give blue giant folder with all the booklets and policies and forms to fill out like Pension fund and direct deposit and health insurance info - the works. A few people came to talk to us about the forms and how payroll would work. We got our IDs too. And then around 11 I got to go to my new department. I got my own desk and an IT guy came to reset my password. It is a pretty big desk in an open cubicle area. I met a bunch of people I will be working with. I remember maybe half the names but I will figure that out as I go along. I also go a bunch of office supplies, which felt like first day of school a bit.

Mostly I just sat there. The boss D had a lot of meetings today - he stopped by to welcome me but didn't have time for much more. Hopefully tomorrow. Another person who is sort of in charge too, gave me a couple of manuals so I could at least take a look at how procurement works and some of their reports. She was basically not sure if they should train me to do reports now, since I'm going on leave in the few weeks. I have no idea how much work I will have in the next months - but I do hope I will get something to do. I went out to enjoy the view and nice weather for lunch and I did get a building pass. I need to relax and bit and take it easy, and stop being so eager to prove myself. It will come.

The commute back was pretty easy and not too crowded. I got back at 6pm, and ran into Bear and Tanya on the way to the playground. So I came home and made some pasta and a turkey burger for dinner. Then fed them when they got back home at 7. I'm exhausted. Not from mental work, obviously, but it is very hard physically with with commute and sitting in the office and being 8 months pregnant. But it is something I will just have to do. I just paid some bills on the computer and will probably with read a little or watch Sense8 and just go to bed.

Yesterday, I actually managed to watch a whole movie in one sitting while Tanya napped. I saw "Bad Moms" which is silly and ridiculous in a lot of ways with a lot of jokes that are not my sense of humor but it still managed to make me tear up - I blame hormones. And I liked that the villain in the end wasn't just one note character. Of course, I loved the interviews with the actresses and their moms at the end and in special feature the most, of all things.

Saturday, May 6, 2017

Saturday, May 6th, 2017 12:38 pm
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On Thursday and Friday it was just Tanya and me. Thursday was much warmer so we went to the bigger playground in the morning and to the school one in the afternoon. She actually liked sitting there a bit and watching kids play basketball. It wasn't too bad as long days with a toddler can go - at least she actually listened to me when it was time to leave the playground and I didn't have to drag her off, as often happens. Yesterday (Friday) it was raining all day so we were just home. I cooked her soup and cutlets, but mostly we were playing. And in the evening we Skype Bear at his work. She had nice long 2.5 hour naps too, so I could watching a bit of TV as my books are not inspiring me to read too much.

And there is a lot of TV to catch up on. I still need to watch "Supernatural" but mainly I just find watching The Great British Baking Show on Netflix very relaxing as I don't need to think at all. (And I do get inspired from it - I made custard for the first time). Sense8 also started yesterday, so I will make my way through that - for now much slower than Season 1. Bear got me "Bad Moms" on DVD so at some point I need to actually watch it.

I did watch a movie a few weeks ago - over two days with Bear as a date we watched "Moana" which I loved very much. Medusa came to visit me from Massachusetts from April 17th to 20th. And it was so fabulous to see her. It's been three years and it was great to just pick up on our usual dynamic. (I just wish I could go in the city with her, but the playground is as far as I will walk lately) She got me hostess gifts, although that was totally unnecessary - but I got Moana as a DVD and as a CD, Neil Gaiman's "Norse Mythology" and "13 Clocks" book. So Bear and I finally watched "Moana" - I've seen select scenes and songs, courtesy of YouTube since Tanya watched it, but as a whole movie it worked very well.

Oh, and one thing I wanted to mention from the past months. A while ago I wrote to this researcher in England who studies aphantasia. He emailed a month or two ago that a writer and a filmmaker from New York were looking to interview some people with aphantasia and if I minded if he would pass my email on to them. I didn't mind. So last months they contacted me and we sat up a Skype interview last Saturday. It was quite fun to talk to them about it since I find different perceptions of the world pretty interesting. They are writing a character with aphantasia and wanted to understand the details a bit. One thing I found interesting was when I mentioned that I don't taste if I just think about food, I need to actually be eating something to taste. And they asked about how craving works with me. I do crave things but probably not to some intensity. I haven't had any pregnancy cravings, really - just anti-cravings (I don't like the idea of eating beef for some reason).

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Wednesday, May 3rd, 2017 09:05 pm
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The semester is officially over. I spent Saturday, Sunday, Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday morning grading 43 papers. Plus on Monday, in the last class, I gave the final exam and graded 43 of those. But today I had my Folder Review, turned my grades in, held final office hour where I returned the folders and grades to mostly happy students and then I was done with teaching.

I didn't sleep well last night - but then I never do lately, having to go pee a lot. Late pregnancy is not too fun. I got up close to 6am (and so did Tanya for some reason). My parents were staying over to make it easier for my Mom to watch Tanya and for my Dad to drive me to University for the last time. We left by 6:15, after I made my bagel with cream cheese, got dressed and packed my lunch. I was at school by 7am and my Dad helped me lug the suitcase and a big bag full of student folders to the nice couch by the offices. Offices weren't open yet but that couch is extra comfy. So I finished the last of the papers - I left 3 good ones to the end. Then once the offices opened, I got help carrying my folders downstairs to the writing centers, printed three final exams that I still had to grade and finished sorting everything, right in time for my folder review at 10. As usual it went pretty smoothly. I then only had to do my electronic grade book and hold that final office hour.

Larry, one of my colleagues stopped by, and kept me company a little. We chat about books and music so it was very nice just to hang as some of my students tickled through to pick up their folders. He also wanted a chance to say goodbye properly as did many others. I got lots of hugs today. I will miss people I worked with for sure. And the teaching. But it was time to move on - they could only offer a part-time gig, and while it was ok for a while, I really do need full time work and more money.

After the folder review I went and got myself a reward brownie, chatted to Emily, another co-worker, for a bit and then caught up on "Flash" on the office computer and just hung around until 4 when my Dad came to pick me up after his work.

Now I'm just very tired from a long day, even if half of it was mostly sitting around. Since my body is busy making a human, it is pretty tiring just to sit too. But now I have 4 days with no work at all before I start my new job on Monday. I do have full two days ahead alone with Tanya though, so that would be exhausting, I'm sure. But at least no more grading. I can read (Gaiman's Norse Mythology and Jude the Obscure), watch some TV (Baking Show, Supergirl and Supernatural and Sense8 is starting soon) and finally catch up on my blog a bit. I've been reading all the entries but barely had time to comment, much less post, so I will probably do more of that over the next few days.
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I don't read short stories that much or collections of short stories. I think it is because you need to reset your brain fairly often for another world building and I just prefer longer things. There are a couple of authors I love who excel at short stories - Isaac Asimov and Neil Gaiman come to mind. But otherwise I stick to novels. I did put Ted Chiang on hold in the library, however, because I wanted to read the short story the movie "Arrival" was based on. I haven't seen the movie yet but I plan to and I usually like to read the source material before watching a movie.

So I got the book on my Kindle from the library, read the story and figured I might as well read the whole book to add it to my book count. Plus a lot of his work is pretty renowned and I'm trying to read more sci-fi. (I put together an Excel file with all the books that won a Hugo, highlighted ones I've read and will use it to read more sci-fi books).

I'm mixed on this collection. There were stories I really enjoyed, a few I was "meh" on and a couple I just hated. But I'm glad I read it - some concepts were fairly good. I really liked his language on most of the stories - very easy to read and inviting (except in the stories I hated with tended to get pretentious to match the character but it didn't work for me). I'm going to break it down story by story for some brief notes.

stories and my reactions )
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It has been 24 years today since we immigrated to the US from Belarus. We traveled in just one day - a very, very long day with the time change and getting up at 2am - but still it was better that 6 months some people had to do just a few years before. My parents, three of my grandparents and I took a four hour plane to Shannon, Ireland (my first plane ride ever), then spent four hours at the airport and then took a 6 hour plane to New York, where after going through an interview by immigration officials we got to meet my uncle at the gate who drove us to our new apartment in Brooklyn. Two of my grandparents (his parents) were in a different apartment. In honor of the day, my Dad and I would always get a little cake or something to celebrate, so today my parents, who came over so Bear and my Dad could drive to pick up our new air conditioner, got a cake too and some other tasty treats.

It is so nice outside - not super warm but getting warmer with clear light blue skies. I spent the morning at the playground with Tanya, first my myself and then Bear came and then my parents too. Just a nice relaxing day before I get the last batch of papers tomorrow and get ready to finish teaching.

I want to catch up a little bit on the last few weeks so I though I'll write about our holidays first. We celebrate both Passover and Easter so we had a full schedule last weekend.

First Seder )

Our big celebration has been the friend one that I've been organizing for at least the last twelve years on the Saturday of the Passover week. This year it was just Marianna and her family and us and we went to Queens to Marianna's place since she has a big table and we usually gather there. It was Janna's birthday so she had plans and Yeva didn't really want to come since she didn't want to cook or hang out with so many kids (Galya is 5, Tanya and Ida are 2.5 and Mozen is 6 months). So I just split the shopping list between us and Bear got pretty much everything the night before.

My Dad was supposed to get kosher for Passover desert at Costco that week (I don't eat anything with flour or rice or oatmeal or corn on Passover) but it was all cleared out already, so I asked Bear to get me bittersweet chocolate chips and on Saturday morning I made flourless chocolate cake. I had some Dutch cocoa powder from Aruba from which I usually make hot chocolate, so I used that, and it gave it a good flavor. It was my first time making it but it came out alright and everything seemed to like it at the party. All the kids, except the baby, had some and liked it so that's a good sign. (I've been watching "The Great British Bake Off on Netflix lately, so baking feels a bit strange, if that is the right word.)

On Saturday, I had to go to the doctor's appointment at 11:30. My parents were supposed to come over to watch Tanya while Bear and I went, but my Mom couldn't, only my Dad drove over to take me which Bear fed Tanya and got her ready. Everything went well, I got a cute sonogram photos to show everyone, came home, ate lunch, got everyone packed (we were going straight to Bear's parents after so I needed to pack overnight stuff) and off we went.

Passover at Marianna's )

Easter )

Grimm

Wednesday, April 5th, 2017 09:46 pm
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Grimm was the little show that could. I watched it from the very beginning as the trailer was interesting and it was from creators of Angel. My Dad and I checked out the first episode together and both continued to watch it although not at the same time once I moved. The show got me from the very first episode with Monroe and Nick and their friendship was such a highlight of the show. I think I wanted to ship them in the beginning but then Rosalee showed up and it was Monroe/Rosalee all the way for me - I adore them to pieces and I love Rosalee in general, such a great character. I also really liked that it was a police show that followed police procedure and was often very detailed in it - and that it morphed into a show of friends who all worked together. I really enjoy it when characters stop keeping secrets, talk to each other and start to work together.

I didn't really like Adelind in the beginning and wasn't really feeling the idea of her and Nick getting together at all after what she did to him. But once the storyline started happening I did go with it and I felt Adalind really did grow as a person and by the end of it I was fine with that relationship. So the show did do a good job convincing me about that relationship. Nick and Juliette were certainly over once she burned the trailer and contributed to his mother's death, so it was great the show didn't really go for the triangle. And Juliette/Eve really came into her own with her powers, and especially in the 6th season - I started to like her again. And I loved Trubel - so the show did built its female characters after a slow start.

By season 5 I did think it was time for it to end - it was getting a bit of a chore to watch, so I was happy with the last season 13 episode order to finish it properly. I really enjoyed this season though and I will miss this show now that it is done. I will miss the characters and their dynamic. At least the show was definitely finished well. Still, I will miss it.

I watched the final three episodes - one on Sunday, and the last two on Monday - and it was a great way to finish watching it. I found the penultimate episode particularly well done and intense.

spoilers from here )
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I should really catch up before another week runs away from me.

Mon, March 13 - Sun, March 19
Spring Break: taxes, snow, sleep training, etc )

Mon, March 20-Sat, March 25
Since I slacked off on grading last week, I was paying for it this week. I have until Wednesday to catch up. Most days are pretty ordinary. Bear is home every night this week, so more cooking but also nice since he takes over the time between dinner and bed and I can take a break. I made spinach lasagna today, which came out really well- love the new oven.

Last week, Tanya has discovered my box of CDs, and since then I organized them in a tower. But she loves putting a CD into the CD player in the living room, turning it on herself and dancing to it. Mostly she goes for pretty covers and wants the same CD over and over. For a while it was Lady Gaga, then she wanted some K's Choice, Rasputina and James Marsters because those three were homemade in colorful CD cases. And Jason Mraz. And just recently she took my "Dr Horrible" CD from the shelf (which has a few random songs on it too since it was a CD backup from my downloads) and she's been turning that on a lot. (She thinks that her stuffed toys Dr. Dog and Froggy are singing on it, since when I told her it was called Dr. Horrible, she associated it with her toy Dr. Dog).
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Happy Purim! I made the hamentashen cookies today, 38 of then, in three batches. I made the dough in the morning and put it in the fridge and then made them in the new oven after Tanya's nap so she could help me. She and Bear buttered the tray and she had fun trying to roll the dough and made little balls out of leftover dough. And she liked eating the cookies, although not the jam part. I used fig jam and black raspberry jam this year that my Mom got in Home Goods. Before dinner, Tanya asked for another cookie and I told her she can have some after she eats her dinner. So she ate her meatball and a little cauliflower and pasta and drank her milk. Then I gave her the cookie, she sniffed it and realized she wasn't hungry anymore so she told me to eat it. :) I wish I had the self-control of a two year old about food sometimes.

My Mom was supposed to come yesterday to make it with me since she wanted to try my oven too, but she got a cold. Didn't come today either. My Dad just stopped by on the way to visiting his parents (they are still in the recap place but my grandma is finally going home next week. My grandfather had a bit of a set back and had to go to the hospital again for another foot surgery, but he is better now and back at rehab place). So this weekend was the first weekend in a while that is was pretty much just Bear, Tanya and me and it was very nice and domestic. We are getting used to the new place for sure - it is feeling much more homey now.

It is cold outside, so we were home all day yesterday (Bear did go to the store to get chicken, mushrooms and eggs for me and I just went to check the mail downstairs), but today they did go to the playground in the late afternoon. Good thing too as it tired her out and she went to sleep ok at the new Daylight time (I'm sure her bath helped too). I'm not a big fan of the time change, mostly because I'm already lacking on sleep, and I always worry about Tanya adjusting, but she seems pretty fine. She is still waking up at night calling for me, so sometimes I need to sit with her a while, so I have been a bit groggy. It depends on the night. Yesterday wasn't too bad; she let me go after 15 minutes or so. The worst was Friday to Saturday, where she would not let me leave from 2:30 to 4:30, and even woke Bear up. I know it will take some time and at least she is sleeping on her own, but man, I feel that co-sleeping was definitely the right call for us for a while.

Over the last week I cooked some in the new kitchen, mostly soups and meatballs for Tanya, and a little for me like potatoes and a turkey burger. But on Saturday I finally did a meal for all of us, with pasta, brussel sprouts/mushroom/onion stir fry and chicken. And I baked today. So I'm starting to feel this kitchen now - making it mine. The oven is really nice, it warms up quickly and the cookies came out nice and soft and lovely. The third batch did try to escape a bit with the jam, but it was still delicious. I don't care about aesthetic of it too much, just tastiness.

I've been catching up on TV - I caught up on most of the Grimm, and Supernatural and Flash and Supergirl. I'm glad Supernatural is not back until the end of March though and Victoria is done. There is just a little too much to watch. I'd rather be reading lately and have been enjoying "The Goblin Emperor" when I have the time. Next week is Spring Break, so I don't have to go in to work, but I have a lot of papers to grade. And Bear is going to leave tomorrow night (Monday) until Saturday (his work has meeting season where he needs to stay late there and makes more sense for him to stay at his parents, which is much closer to work. In return, he has Mondays off, and he watches Tanya when I work. And he gets free dinners at work. And brings me back brunch food for Sundays). He was supposed to go on Tuesday late morning, but we will have a giant snowstorm apparently, so he will leave a little earlier. That way he can also shovel snow for his parents.

The old apartment management was surprisingly efficient and already sent up our security deposit back. yay. Tomorrow we will go to our accountant and do our taxes. And now, a little more book and early bedtime to catch up on some sleep. Tanya's night soothing is already preparing me for the baby :)

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Wednesday, March 8th, 2017 12:42 pm
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Happy International Women's Day! When I was a kid in Soviet Union, it was a national holiday with a day off school and I would get presents. The presents stopped when we moved to the US. I can't take off work today, since I work part-time and also I really need to keep to our semester schedule, but it is a nice thought.

I had a big grading deadline on Monday, with Folder Review in the morning (where I meet with my supervisor and have to have all Paper 2 graded), but most importantly, I needed to get all the grading done so I can give it back to my students to keep on track. They are turning in Paper 3 today, so they needed my comments from the previous paper. I also had midterms to grade, but those were not as essential, and also go much faster, so I did one section for Monday and the other I finished today. So this weekend I was pretty much grading and grading and grading and being in a stressful grumpy mood. But I got it all done, so yay. Next week is spring break, so I get some extra time to work on Paper 3.

I finished midterms this morning, and had the time to wash my hair, and give myself a pedicure and manicure, so now I feel like a proper person.

I had a minor cold since Friday, so made me a little cranky. Mainly my nose was running and by Monday the cold was making my upper teeth, upper throat and left ear hurt a little. But it feels almost ok now, so I'm taking it as a win. So many people were really sick this winter than this cold feels like it was a lucky break. And I was really happy, actually, that it wasn't allergies (since we just moved it was a concern, but definitely a cold).

On Saturday, Bear and I went to my OB-GYN for my pregnancy check-up. After this, I will go every two weeks as I'm entering my third trimester. Everything with the baby looked good. She's two pounds one ounce already. She doesn't seem to want to move around as much as Tanya did - only when she's uncomfortable or in the car or when I'm at work, so she's probably (hopefully) a lazier, less spirited baby. She is a good size baby so far, although I'm gaining less weight than I did with my first pregnancy.

The only concern now that does worry me a little is low placenta. The ultrasound tech and the doctor told me this at the anatomy scan at 21 weeks and they said it will probably move and not to worry. At this scan at 26 weeks, it hasn't moved. It is still low - the tech called it marginal. So it's not placenta plevia, at least not right now, and there is still 10 weeks for it to move up. And in most cases, it will. But it is there and makes me a little nervous. I mean, if I will need to have a C-section, I will have one, it is not the end of the world. Mostly, I don't want to go on bedrest, or at least not until the semester is over and I want this baby to go to term. Again, this is all speculation right now, everything is in flux and, according to the mighty internet, in most cases, the placenta should move up and I would be able to have a natural birth. It is is problem in my .5% of cases only. We'll see. It's just making me a little nervous.
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Blog for Feb 24 – Mar 2

We’ve moved! I don't have the Internet until Thursday, March 2nd, so I'm just going to type and update in a Word document, and then post when it is finally installed. I do have some 4G data, so I'm not completely cut off and can read blogs and news, but I am trying to be a little conservative with it.

Friday, Feb 24 )

Weekend )

Monday and bureaucracy )

Tuesday, Feb 28 was a low key day. I did finish "A Wrinkle in Time" which I didn't really like. I don’t know why – I think the plot was a little silly/weird and some religious undertones made me uncomfortable. Maybe I would have liked it as a child.

Wed, March 1st – Tanya slept through the night without bugging anyone – yay. I graded midterms in the morning and then went outside with her for a bit. Got potato filled samsa for work today from local supermarket – yummy. Kitchen guy finally showed up to finish the kitchen today, so when I got home from work, my Mom already organized the kitchen well.

Bear sold my Buffy Season 8 comic books on EBay! He's on the selling streak this week as our little Panda washer from the old apartment sold too, and he shipped it already.

And now we got internet installed and I need to grade because I have a big work deadline on Monday. Good to be able to just go online. And I just downloaded "The Goblin Emperor" from the library so there is distraction too.
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This weekend was a little weird, in a good way. I had no grading to do, which is nice for a semester weekend (I'm getting lots of papers tomorrow, so I really should enjoy this break before the craziness of next week). But I was a little at a loss on how to spend my day. Good problem to have! I did embrace the laziness and watched some TV (I'm loving "Victoria" - sexy in a lot of ways and just gets to me) and read some books and cleaned the bathroom and cooked and spent some time with Bear and Tanya.

I finally finished reading Neuromancer by William Gibson. I started it a few weeks ago but I just didn't care enough for it to read more than a chapter at a time, sometimes less. I just read more at the end, just to finally finish it. It is so very 80s, which was a little fun, and I read it and followed the plot perfectly fine but I just found myself indifferent. It was fine and I can understand why it was an influential book but my mind was pretty detached reading it. I didn't care for any of the characters. For some reason, I find lately that a lot of classic sci-fi is underwhelming me. I didn't hate it, I just didn't care. This year has been a little weird in books so far. I hope it picks up.

The King's Ransom by Sharon Kay Penman, on the other hand, is definitely sustaining my interest. I have a paperback copy, because I have copies of all her books, so I am limited on when I can read it. It's not easy to lug it with me on commute as it is almost 700 small print pages and a bit hefty, and I can't read it in the evening, in the dark, but I've been snatching lots of time this weekend. It was fun to follow Richard the Lionheart's adventures trying to sneak through Italy and Austria. I'm only on p.150 so far - still a lot of the book to go. This book will take me awhile too but at least I'm excited to read it. I do love her writing, even with "smile not reaching the eyes" appearing 10 times in 10 pages, and I adore historical accuracy. Richard is not my favorite king, but she is doing a good job making me understand him.

In the afternoon, all of us went to the playground together, which is a rare occasion. Tanya tried to protest - she just wanted to go with Papa and kept yelling at me to stay home or stay, but she calmed down after I talked to her that Mama wanted to breathe some air too and I won't get in a way of fun with Papa. (She likes to play with us one at a time, most of the time). I did leave them behind for a bit to go to Dunken Donuts to get a Boston Creme Donut for myself and a blueberry muffin for Bear (and Tanya too to share), and then we just hung out. It was cold but not overly so and it was nice just to be. I headed back around 5 to go cook dinner and by then Tanya didn't want me to go. :)

I went home to make a cottage pie, which for me usually means layer of ground turkey with onion and oregano, then layer of peas and corn and then layer of mashed potatoes, all baked in the oven. Nice and delicious, and good for two days, since we just eat it very fast.

I was feeling good all day, but as I got up at 6:45pm to go warm up dinner for Tanya and for us to eat, I started feeling very weak. I could barely stand and felt like I could just collapse. I wasn't dizzy, just weak. It was probably low blood pressure, it's already been low 100/60 every time I go for a check up. So I warmed up Tanya's food, had Bear feed her this time, ate my dinner quickly and went to lie down. I did get up to make myself Earl Gray tea to get a little caffeine in, drank more water, and had a little caviar that my Dad got for me (I don't generally eat it a lot, but it is good for the baby). I stayed in bed once I got Tanya to bed and I felt better today, on Sunday. It's not the first time I got weak, but it's never fun. At least this was the weekend and I didn't have to worry about work. I really need to drink more water during the day. And today I ordered some beef kebab at the Nargis restaurant (it's Uzbek/Russian place) and Bear went to pick it up on his way after grocery shopping. I probably need more iron but this baby is not a big fan of beef. But the kebab was so so tasty. Very soft.

Today was nice and relaxing too - I went for a walk this morning to get milk and to the Chinese bakery. And I just wanted to get some energy. Watched "Grimm" (loved the victim saving herself). Read a lot. Did some cross stitch. I even made the flyer to sell the two bar stools with backs that we won't need anymore after we move. I really do need to appreciate the quiet weekends.
bearshorty: (Default)
First a meme taken from pretty much everyone:

2016 Meme )

Today is the first day of the new semester for me, so I'm at work. My Dad dropped off my Mom very early (6:20am) and drove me to work. He will pick me up at 5 today. I already printed everything I needed to print from Syllabi to first day Writing Samples to my rosters, so now I just have time to kill. My classes are from 1:40 to 4:40 this semester (an hour 20 minutes for each class) and I technically have office hours from 12:30 to 1:30. So I'm now I'm just catching up on books and emails and blogs and commenting.

Before the offices opened and I could print and use a computer, I was looking forward to sitting on the new comfy couches close to the offices. But they replaced them with these modern looking armchairs, which are not nearly as comfortable! Sometimes, new things are not better.

I also wrote an official "intent to move" letter to our apartment's management company. They have no problem in our breaking our lease, as long as they get 30 days notice. They won't have any issues renting the place and for a higher rent pretty quickly. So we will officially move on February 28. Renovations are going well so far, and they should be done by mid February hopefully. As long as they are done enough for us to move our furniture, that should be fine. I definitely don't want to be paying double rent after February.

I watched the first episode of "Victoria" on Monday, which I really enjoyed. This is not a surpise as I generally like historical dramas and English TV series. And while I was neurtal on Jenna Colman on Doctor Who, I do like her in this role. And yesterday, I brought myself to watch the final episode of "Sherlock" for Season 4. I was a bit bored with it and a lot of the plot didn't make sense. I wish they just had a normal mystery and not a convoluted conspiracy/family soap opera drama. I did like where it all ended and I'm happy if it is the end of the show. If it's not, I hope they get back to fun mysteries again.

Something I want to write down so I don't forget later: this last week, Tanya started playing by pretending to be a character and assigning us roles. She is Cookie Monster, Bear is Elmo (somethimes its vice versa) and I'm the Cat in the Hat. It's pretty cute and an interesting stage in her play development.
bearshorty: (Default)
Last two days were rainy so we were pretty much stuck indoors. I only left for about 10 minutes today to go to the post office to drop off some letters (rent and next semester's contract). Good thing was that Bear had these two days off - yesterday was a holiday and he took today off because the floors were getting delivered to the new apartment and he was needed to carry them inside - he even got a hand cart at work. He, with some help from my Dad, ended up carrying most of the boxes anyway. Bear loves it - it was like a workout for him. Nice thing for me was that he was home in the early morning and in late afternoon. Tanya tends to play with him more when he is home, so I get free time to cook and just be a little. And it was just so nice being home all together, very low key.

Bear put away the tree and holiday lights yesterday and packed a whole box full of our games. I packed a box of books today. We are not moving until the end of February but we are starting to pack because there is just so much. I'm going to have many many boxes just of books. And once my semester starts in two weeks I will not have much time. We just need to get more boxes.

I did a lot of cooking even with the leftover holiday food. Yesterday, I made kotlety (fried meatball type) from beef and baked yams yesterday. And today I'm making baked ziti and split pea soup with beef. The apartment smells wonderful right now.

Over the last two days I also backed up 2016 blog to a Word document (I crosspost to Dreamwidth and LJ, but I want a copy that is not on the internet). And I watched 2 TV shows and read a book. So fairly good two days.

For a long time I wanted to read Christopher Isherwood's A Single Man . I loved the movie, although the movie mislead me a little bit on the intent of the main character, which colored this read a bit. And I had the book on Amazon Wish List for a while. Finally, I actually ordered it. But for a year Amazon couldn't find a copy for me. I cancelled that order. Last year I discovered that the Brooklyn Public Library now had it as a ebook. I put it on my library wish list. And last week I put the book on hold, thinking it might take a while. But on January 1st I got a notice that I can now borrow it. I did and read it in less than 48 hours. It was not a long book but it was also compelling. I didn't want to put it down. I forgot how beautifully Isherwood writes. His prose is just delicious. And, of course, since I teach in a college, I found the whole section of George teaching his English class just perfection. Isherwood really captures perfectly the class dynamics and student mentality. That section was sublime - really funny and just right. I really want to have a copy of this book because, while I rarely reread, I already want to reread this one. I loved this book so much.

I also watched two TV shows: Sherlock S4E1 and the latest Doctor Who Christmas special, which my Dad got for me.

Sherlock S4E1: The Six Thatchers )

Doctor Who 2016 Christmas Special )
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What I like about January 1 is that is tends to be a nice and quiet day, usually quite relaxing, like a breath you take before a new year starts.

We drove over to my parents' yesterday in the morning for the New Year celebrations. We always celebrate at home as it is a family holiday for us. We Skyped with relatives in Minsk and in California to wish them Happy New Year and just to chat and chilled a bit. Around 5:30 we all dressed up, mostly in red and pink colors, for the upcoming Rooster year, (except Bear who was a black rooster), and took lots of annual photos around the New Year fir tree. Then we had our holiday dinner. So much yummy food! My Mom made the usual olivier salad and pod-shuba (beets with herring), crab salad, fish liver salad and beets/plums/nuts salad. She also made regular veggie salad and cabbage/egg pie. And for main course there was meat french style (meat covered with potatoes and dried apricots). And there were open faced sandwiches with salmon and also with caviar. And bread, of course. So much food! (and lots of leftovers for today). In the past, I wasn't always a big fan for beets and herring classic, but I'm really into it lately.

After this giant meal, we did bedtime for Tanya and I put her to bed. I was pretty much falling asleep with her but my Dad made sure to get me up by 10:30pm to sneak out of the bedroom so I could come downstairs and have some desert - they got fruit tart cake, and there was zefir (marshmallows in chocolate), and dried fruit, with tea, of course.

Then we mostly watched TV and hung out until midnight and watched the ball drop while drinking some sparkling juice. Then I just went to bed, I was very tired. But, of course, I couldn't easily fall asleep once I was in bed and the night was a bit restless. Still, it was a good calm new years, full of deliciousness and family time, just the way I like it.

In the morning, Tanya slept in until 7:30am, but then we all got up, got dressed and went downstairs to the New Year tree to open presents that Ded Moroz (Russian Santa) left for Tanya (and a couple for Bear and I) under the tree. Tanya got 4 books (2 from me - Crocodile Gena in Russian and one of the Elephant and Piggie books in English, and 2 from my parents - both in English - 5 minute Princess Stories and When the Tiger Came to Tea). And she got a little magnet fishing game, which is also a puzzle, and a nice tea set with toy dishes, cups, tea pot, forks and spoons. She is playing with all her new toys. I got Bear a Deadpool graphic novel he wanted (we split our presents to each other in two - some for Christmas and some for New Year) and my parents got him an Amazon gift certificate. I got "Star Trek Beyond" from Bear and the last Leonard Cohen CD and a book by Stefan Zweig from my parents. I was very happy with my presents. I'm listening to Leonard Cohen right now - which is a little bittersweet.

Around 9:30am, Bear, Tanya and I went to the playground. The weather was beautiful today, not too cold, and sunny. Tanya went on her little tricycle, which she actually pedaled by herself a little bit today. It felt like the whole world was still asleep. There was no one about and very little cars on the road. We had the playground to ourselves. Well, and the three squirrels who kept chasing each other. I had fun watching them. There was also a field full of geese right outside the playground - we watched them walk around a bit in the little puddle. They had black necks and white faces with black beaks and white bellies. Tanya really liked watched them. It was just very relaxing to spend time together, chase Tanya a little around and go down a few slides. It was only when we were about to leave after 11 when someone else came. New Year is definitely a nice quite day.

I even got a little nap in when Tanya went for a nap and read my book too. I'm reading "It's hard to Be a God" now and the main character's attitude to the culture he's studying is driving me a little crazy. I go from liking the book to slowing down in wanting to read it because of the whole "civilized" attitude of the protagonist. Reading Strugaski brothers is always strange though.

We came home after all the naps, I unpacked (including all the holiday food my Mom passed along, yum), paid the January bills (at least for this apartment, still have to do the new one), and just catching up online a bit. Overall, a nice day.

I don't do New Year resolutions but I guess I want to try to be more present and not waste too much time online. And read and write, of course.

I'm not very concerned about LJ issues, I don't write anything that should matter to any government, and I have been cross posting from Dreamwidth for years - in fact it remains my face. But if anyone wants to add me on DW for back-up, I have the same username .

My Remus/Sirius Small Gifts story was posted a week or so go. It's called Christmas in July. If you are curious you can read it here.

And finally my Book List 2017 is here with books I would like to read this year.
bearshorty: (Default)
31 best moment of the month ([personal profile] zhelana)

Not being too nauseous anymore tops the list! As is the ability to often stay up past 9!

But in seriousness, the holiday season for sure - with potato pancakes for the whole family on Hanukkah and celebrating Christmas and today really looking forward to New Year tonight with photos and big holiday meal and new year.

Also end of the semester was very nice and welcome. So was an unexpected job interview in mid-December and a letter that my job appeal for a city job (the appeal which I sent in in June) was finally granted and I will be placed on the list.

And I had a dinner with Yeva in a Turkish place, and a visit to Marianna to meet her baby son Mozen and eat Himalayan food - both very nice times.

And so is Tanya singing "V Lesy Rodilas Yelochka" (In the forest there was born a fir tree) - a traditional New Year Russian song, at the top of her lungs everytime we pass the Christmas tree in the lobby of our building.
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30.favorite books read this year (and why) ([identity profile] hamsterwoman.livejournal.com)

I read 35 books this year, which is a very good book count for me. This included a very long Jonathan Strange so I'm very happy with reading this year. Next year I expect to read much less, especially after June with the new baby, so I'm savoring it now.

Here is My Book List for 2016 .

I liked all the books on my list - mostly because I don't read books that I don't like. But I do like them in different ways. I read really good quality sci-fi this year with Ancillary Justice and The Fifth Season and I hope to continue to read more female authors, especially sci-fi female authors next year. I'm going to make my new book list tomorrow for books I hope to read in 2017. But those books, while really good in quality are not necessarily my favorite. Favorite books tend to hit emotional buttons a little more.

My favorite book this year is probably His Majesty's Dragon by Naomi Novik - it felt like a cross between Horatio Hornblower and dragons and it perfectly suited me. I liked the two sequels I read so far too, but the first book takes precedence since it was the book where I went "ooh, I want to read this series. This is written for me"

Another fun book on the favorite list was Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell. I read it really fast and I just really enjoyed it. And it felt like a depiction of the world I knew, although I didn't get into fanfic until my mid-20s and didn't start writing until I was 30. But I can relate to coming of age stuff too.

All the Light We Cannot See was really wonderful. Really evocative and well written - a new way to see WWII, which is unusual.

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child was a lot of fun too. Mostly I just enjoyed being back in Harry Potter world, despite recognizing the drawbacks of the play and why many might not like it.

I loved Musicophilia by Oliver Sacks but my favorite non-fiction goes to Hamilton: The Revolution - the libretto of the musical. It was really interesting to read how the musical came together and about members of the cast and crew.

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