Wednesday, April 5th, 2017 09:46 pm
bearshorty: (Default)
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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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.
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It's Labor Day weekend(3 day weekend) and I'm spending about 7 hours at home before traveling again. Tanya and I went to my parents this past week and just got back at 9am. And around 4pm, Bear, Tanya and I will travel to his parents' house in Long Island to stay until Monday. And then Tuesday morning, Tanya and I will go back to my parents for one more week. I just have to keep careful track of packing and what goes where.

My first day of teaching is this coming Thursday, September 8. But this past Thursday, September 1, I had my teacher orientation. It was just an hour and a half to catch up on new policies and anything new, and to get back into the teaching mindset. So I feel school has already started (and my first ever day of school was Sept 1, 1986 when I went to 1st grade - the first year Soviet school started taking students at 6 years old. I can't believe it was 30 years ago). On the morning of Sept 1, I worked on my syllabi, figured out the schedule (on Thanksgiving week, due to schedule changes I will have to teach Monday and Tuesday, but I didn't want my students to write a draft in a day, so I shifted things around), picked my reading sequences, picked my first day writing sample for the students to do, and set up the class internet site. And since then I re-read the first reading and my brain is now trying to come up with a new assignment question. It's quite nice to reorient my brain back to teaching - I do love my job very much and I'm looking forward to meeting my students on Thursday. I also like teaching Basic Composition and Fall semester in general. It's a little less work too, with no mandatory comments of drafts 1 and 4 and with first two papers only 4 pages long.

The other thing I've been dealing with is the board application for the co-op apartment we are buying. The mortgage commitment finally came through last week, after a very long time, because the bank was taking its sweet time to investigate the building. When that came through I just had to get bank checks and the last documents regarding the bank commitment for the board application (the rest of the board application was ready a month ago). But then the mortgage broker and the attorney were giving me the run-around about the Recognition Agreement, one of the documents. The attorney' secretary told me after a day that they never give that original document until the board interview and to apply without it, even though I told her it was on the list of required doc. She was all, "well, you are buying for the first time, and they do this a lot, and they know better." I got together with my apartment broker, got her all the rest of the documents and checks, and the broker turned it in. Of course, on Tuesday, we got an email that we did need that document in addition to a few others relating to an estate sale (although the attorney's office told me it was not an estate sale since the daughter who is selling is a joint owner). And I needed to pay more fees since apparently the board application was outdated and there had to be more fees (apparently it was updated May 2015, and yet we got the application from their website just this summer). Anyway, this time mortgage broker did speak to the bank's attorneys, and next Tuesday we should finally get the Recognition Agreement. And I got more bank checks and all the other documents they asked for from the attorney. I just was to get this done. It's annoying. It's just taking forever.

In more fun things, I finished "Stranger Things", which I really enjoyed. I'm glad there will be a second season. And I'm really liking "Ancillary Justice" - I'm about half way through. Grimm announced that the next season is the last - 13 episodes, and I'm ok with that. I think the show ran its course but it's good that they know it's the last season and can wrap everything up. I just want Monroe and Rosalee super happy at the end.
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I had a very busy last few weeks with grading Paper 2, Midterm and doing Folder Review. I finally had some free nights this week from Monday to Wednesday, which I spent catching up on some TV (and doing just a little bit of work in answering student email and preparing Warning rosters). It was very nice to have that bit of a break. I get a new batch of papers in an hour and I will get to spend my Spring Break grading, so I made sure to relax a little.

The weather has been very warm and spring like in the last few days as well, so Tanya and I have been spending more time than usual at the playground. The playground is suddenly overflowing with kids too, which is nicer for me since I can chat with other parents/babysitters. Tanya loves to observes other kids but she is a little weary when one comes too close to her and tries to touch her jacket or hat. She would look at me and make the funniest, bewildered expression and try to take little steps back.

She's been coughing occasionally for the last week. Not a lot and there is no fever. Her voice gets a bit hoarse sometimes but it doesn't last. It doesn't seem to bother her at all. But it's her first real cough so it makes me a little nervous. I've been giving her some warm tea. Something is sitting in the back of my throat to, but not either getting worse or better. It's just there. It's a little strange.

On Monday night, on my first real night off in two weeks, I just sat on the couch and watched the finale of Downton Abbey. I read the spoilers so I knew what would happen, but watching it made me emotional anyway. It was just lovely and I will miss this show. I'm glad everyone got a happy ending, more or less.

Another show I really enjoyed in the last few weeks was Fuller House. I think critics missed the mark on why so many people actually liked it. I absolutely loved it. Yes, it's nostalgic and part of childhood, which is appealing, but the show is good and funny on its own merits. Show don't need to be edgy. When I first came to America and my English wasn't the best yet, one of the first shows we watched on our new TV was "Full House". It was DJ's prom episode. The only thing we could understand was "I love you". But my mom and grandmother and I all liked watching it. I saw most of the show when I was 13 and 14 in reruns and real time, and I learned English with it. I liked the kids and characters, and Stephanie was around my age.

It's a little strange to be the same age as the girls now and be a mother too and watch this new generation show. Now I find the baby cute. But I also really like the adults these girls turned out to be. Kimmy is hilarious. I didn't really get her as a kid but she's one of my favorites. And most of all I'm enjoying all the female friendships and relationships and the atmosphere of support. It's just nice to have a show that's nice. And it is pretty funny, despite the laugh track. SPOILERS I'm really happy that the two guys DJ's story focused on were both good guys. And I would be happy with either of them. Both are decent, just different. I'm also glad Stephanie made that speech that it doesn't ultimately matter and that DJ just admitted she wasn't ready and it was fine. I like that the guys became friends as well. It was just such a mature way to handle this type of storyline.

Speaking of TV, the last two episodes of Grimm were on fire. SPOILERS. I'm glad the story picked up the keys again and it feels like they will wrap up that dangling thread. But most of all, my heart just adored the dinner party at the loft with all of them hanging out and all the Monroe and Nick friendship conversations both on the rooftop and in the car in Germany. Nick actually confides in Monroe and they are best friends and I want to hug them both. Their friendship is what got me to stick around after the pilot and I just love it.

Surprisingly, I find that I don't mind Nick and Adeline development. Before the season started when I heard the rumors, I was firmly against it. But the writers won me over but the development of the last ten episodes and by clearly showing that first, both characters are different, have changed, and these are unusual circumstances for both so there is comfort level in that, and second, the show and characters themselves are acknowledging their tumultuous past through flashbacks and conversations. Nick himself doesn't know what to make of it but they do have a kid together and that makes a difference for him. So I'm not opposed to this. I don't really care that much. For some reason, I'm not much of a shipper for this show, other than Monroe and Rosalee, whom I adore. The mayor plot is still weird, but hopefully it will tie into the storyline soon.
bearshorty: (Default)
This week, which started so dramatically with the snow and the commute from hell ended up being pretty good overall.

I got rough drafts on Thursday so I've been commenting on those (and they are mostly terrible since it's the first draft of the first paper but promising). But I also managed to get a good chunk done this weekend so I'm not too overwhelmed with work.

I even managed to watch "Supernatural" and "Grimm", finish a book, clean and cook, which feels luxurious for a grading week. I liked both shows this week too. Supernatural has been on the roll this season and Grimm had characters communicating with each other and being upfront and apparently I dig that.

And I finished my book: the 9th Tomek book. I want to make a separate book post of everything I read im January, but overall it's not my favorite of the series but the second half picks up well.

I cooked beef stroganoff in my slow cooker yesterday, which went overy egg noodles. I love the slow cooker, just throw everything in, fast and easy. I used cream cheese and fresh mushrooms too. It was much tastier on the second day. A keeper recipe.

Today, I actually went into the city to have brunch with my friend Janna. Going out is such a treat for me lately because I'm either at home with Tanya or at work. I don't get out much lately. But Bear was good to watch her (although nap time was a struggle) and I got some freedom time. Janna is eight months pregnant with her second daughter, so she wanted some time to get away too. We had a lovely brunch. I had chicken and waffles, which was weird but really works. Yum. And I had a coctail too. And I commented on rough drafts on the subway and got some uninterrupted work done.

There is a new Remus/Sirius fest and I'm really tempted to sign up. I love the people and the community. But yesterday, I took a realistic stock of the free time that I have and I realized that I really can't during the semester. I've had a good and productive January, I'm happy with meeting goals I set for myself this year. I have limited free time and I want to read, write and catch up on my few shows. So I will pass but with some regret. I will join RS Games again, though. That I must.
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This week was the last week of the semester so it was a bit hectic. I needed to finish grading all papers and final exams by Friday afternoon. The students finished their final exam on Thursday afternoon. Since I was staying at my parents since Wednesday though, my Dad drove me to work and I had all Thursday to do a lot. My brain stopped working after grading 10 papers (it takes about 30 minutes per paper with all the comments) but luckily the finals didn't require brains. They are Pass/Fail with no comments needed. By the end of the day Thursday, I only had three papers left and of my smart A students, so I knocked them off by Friday morning and still had time to go to the playground with Tanya.

And the final handover of grades went well. I successfully argued with my director for higher grades for two of my students and everyone passed. And the students were mostly happy when they came to pick up their folders with their final grade on Friday afternoon. I do love seeing them improve over the course of the semester and they end up realizing how much they did need the class - it is a required class for them, so many resist.

On top of all the grading, Bear and I took Tanya to her pediatrician on Wednesday for one more vaccine shot. Now she just needs a booster flu shot in a months and a Hepatitis A shot at some point next year. And that's it for a while. Yay. We brought some toys with us and a book and she did pretty well. She still hates being weighted and measured and shots, of course, but there was less fuss than last time.

She is such a girl. Her new favorite game is to go to the closet where all my necklaces are hanging on the jewelry organizer. She wants to be lifted up so she could reach them and then I point to various ones and she says either "no" or "da" (yes in Russian). She tries some on or wants me to try them and this can go on for a while. Occasionally she goes in my closet where her fancy birthday dress is and wants to wear that for a bit. And she loves scarves and hats.

In less than pleasant news, in this hectic work week where I did not need more stress, we had to pull out of the apartment contract. Our realtor called on Tuesday afternoon, wanting us to switch mortgage brokers. Then not even two hours later he called again to say that he spoke to the president of the board and that the board doesn't want to let my Dad and I be co-owners since it would go against their occupancy rules (even though my parents have a house and have no intention in leaving it).

When we first came to see the place, he reassured us that our situation would not be a problem, that the board makes exceptions all the time, that the president is his friend and all. My parents were giving us half the downpayment so we wanted to co-own. My Dad also has a high income. The board wouldn't let just Bear and I get it because our income is not high enough for them - I work part-time since it makes the most financial sense right now with a baby and I don't have to pay for childcare this way, and how can I give definitive proof that I will have a full time job soon? No one can guarantee their job. Anyway, that judgment on us based solely on income pissed me off more than anything. The bank had no issue giving us a mortgage with our current combined salary, I have a very high credit score, we have a lot of savings, no debt, we rarely eat out, we don't buy alcohol, we don't qualify for any assistance programs, we can do more on our salary than people who make twice as much - but that really doesn't count here. I wrote the realtor a lengthy email on Friday because he should have checked with the board before we signed the contract and wasted these three weeks in putting together all the documents. Argh. He did write back to apologize but it did cause us a lot of stress. We got our deposit back (I checked with the lawyer and even put a stop on the check, just in case) and the lawyer reimbursed half of his fee so I at least didn't lose any money.

It was nice to have a weekend with no grading looming over it. On Saturday I cleaned the bathroom, finally ordered photos for my photo album and went to the dentist to finish with the crown. I order photos once a year - I like having a physical album and I get to look through all the pictures and pick the best ones that represent the year. Then I order it in December because of all the holiday discounts.

And this morning I went to the Chinese supermarket to get Jasmine rice and Udon noodles and a did a couple of more chores. Then I came home and made spinach pie.

I had a box of spinach in my freezer for a while and I was determined to used it and not to waste it. I looked up a bunch of recipes online and picked this recipe . I bought the puff pastry dough yesterday on the walk back from the dentist. I added mushrooms to the onion saute and didn't use garlic. My Parmesan cheese was a bit old so I used some smoked cheese. It came out well - Bear already ate like half of it - but next time I will use less salt and I will roll the pastry more to really cover the middle of the top more tightly.

And in the evening we drove to Brighton Beach so I could go get Tanya some Russian books for New Year presents and also some puzzle blocks. I got a book of fables and a learning book for learning concepts like "up/down" "left/right" etc. Bear already taught her "on/off" when turning the lights on or off. In the car today, she saw me in glasses (I don't always wear them when I'm not at work or not watching TV or computer) and said "ochki off" (glasses off). So she's getting it! It was nice to get out and go somewhere all together.

TV for the week )
bearshorty: (Default)
Happy Hanukkah to all who celebrate!

We lit the electric candles today (didn't want to risk actual fire around a toddler), listened to Hanukkah songs on the radio party the classical station had, and I made potato pancakes or draniki (it's a Belorussian word for potato pancakes or latkes, one of the few Belorussian words I still use). They were pretty delicious. Draniki with sour cream is one of my favorite foods. I don't make them a lot - grating is annoying - but I sure love to eat them. Tanya had one today too, although she mostly wanted to lick the sour cream off.

I finish my semester on Friday, so this week will be pretty busy as I need to finish all the grading. My students are writing a two day final exam and I already put together the question, so I will just have to sit there and grade. I should have graded more this weekend - I only managed a few papers - but my mind was just not cooperating. I'm hoping to have about 5 or 6 done tomorrow. Maybe even up to 8.

Last week went by pretty fast. We put together the mortgage application on Thursday - I spent all Thursday morning photocopying. So many documents. The Board Application next month will be even more paperwork. On Saturday, my parents, Tanya and I went to visit the apartment we are buying again to take some measurements for the possible renovations. There are just so many hoops to jump that I'm not getting excited or planning until we get approved by the board but my parents want to pick a lot of stuff now like possible appliances and tile. The board might decide we don't make enough or something and turn us down, although we have no problem paying our rent now, and the new amount will be pretty much the same. Because our Realtor lives in the building and know the president of the board, it will probably be fine, but still I don't want to overthink it. I was very good about contacting people for references as soon as I printed the board requirements - I usually get anxiety when I have to ask and put it off, but not this time. Yay.

I wrote my fanfic story for RS Small Gifts - right on time for my extension, so I do feel I had a productive week overall.

I did get to watch a bit of TV last week. I watched first three episodes of Jessica Jones, and episodes of Supergirl , Supernatural and Grimm .


Jessica Jones S1E1-3 )

Supergirl S1E5-6 )

Supernatural S11E8 )

Grimm S1E5 )

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November 24th seems to be an auspicious day for me. I should buy a lottery ticket tomorrow. I had to look it up to see if the dates matched up and they did. Bear first told me he loved me on November 24, 1998 - I just remembered it as Tuesday before Thanksgiving. Then 15 years later, on November 24, 2013, I took a pregnancy test and discovered we were having Tanya. And tomorrow, we are putting money down to buy our first place - a two bedroom apartment. It is not guaranteed - the place is in a co-op, so we will need board approval and we still need to get approved for a mortgage - but if everything goes according to plan we can move by the spring (after lots of renovations first). So very adult of us.

My Mom had this wild plan to get the house across the street from them. But we would need to make a lot more to afford that place - it has a studio to rent out but we can't just depend on a tenant to cover the bills. Looking at that place and thinking about it though just reaffirmed the decision to get an apartment for now. And the place we looked at before but turned down, decided the accept our lower offer, so I called today and set everything up.

I had a very busy weekend because I had to finish grading (and go to the dentist for my crown replacement. I get anxiety going to the dentist so I'm glad that's done for now). Now I'm all done with grading this set and have a free holiday week ahead of me. Yay. We came over my parents' place yesterday to see that house and Tanya and I stayed, while Bear went home. My Dad drove me to work today and picked me up. Tomorrow we are going back home and then on Wednesday morning, we are leaving for Bear's parents for Thanksgiving. Lots of travel. We also went to visit my grandparents on Sunday morning - so pretty busy.

But I am really looking forward to just relaxing, enjoying the holiday, working on my story for RS Small gifts, and maybe finding time to cross stitch. I'm also making inroads in the Hamilton biography - it was pretty gripping reading about how the states voted to accept the Constitution. I know what should happen but I'm really enjoying the details and realizing just how contentious and uncertain early American history was.

TV: Reviews with spoilers
Supergirl S1E4 )

Supernatural S11E7 )

Grimm S5E4 )
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RS Games are now over with the author reveals so I can now talk about the stories I wrote and post them elsewhere - and share them here. And yes, "stories", plural because I ended up doing a pitch hit in the middle of October. I realized only a few days that both stories end up letting Remus escape his lycanthropy - huh, I guess I had a theme.

The first story, Moon Dog , was inspired by the Moonlight Sonata by Beethoven. I played it while writing the story and one of the commenters said the rhythm of the words reflected it, which was quite accidental on my part. In the story, Sirius the Star hears music and comes to Earth to meet the beautiful musician (Remus).

My pitch hit ended up being a Space AU. It is called Sailing Far Beyond the Air . It is very short, less than 2000 words, because I only had a few days to put it together but I might end up exploring the idea later. Sirius grew up on the colonies of Mars where most pureblood families live (I basically adopted canon to sci-fi) He finds Earth very confining - so the story explores Sirius' ideas of freedom and imprisonment (which fit the prompt I used). It is character study really, with Remus playing a small role in the end.

My favorite story of the Games was a Muggle AU called No Longer Easy On the Eyes by [ profile] nerak_rose. It has Teddy and Harry and a wonderful slow burn of a relationship between Remus and Sirius. It is long 26K but I couldn't stop reading and it didn't really feel that long at all. I just got caught up by the wonderful storytelling.

And now I need to write my story for RS Small Gifts - I'm feeling some self imposed pressure, since my last two stories for that fest are by far my most popular ones (judging by AO3). I also want the recipient to be happy with it. But I think my idea is good enough. I'm going to incorporate Russian New Year holiday traditions in it so that should be fun.


A few days ago I finished the 4th book (out of 7) in the Accursed Kings series by Maurice Druon The Royal Succession . It a historical fiction that is about the succession to Regency and then the Crown of Philippe V of France who ruled from 1316 to 1322. I really love this series. The prose flows so easily and the historical details feels researched and accurate enough (although dramatized accordingly). He often included details like types of dresses the royalty wore or what was pillaged in a castle based on actual 14th century accounts.

Sometimes, I can't read historical fiction if the characters are too far from how I imagined them from studying the history (I'm a medieval historian by training, specializing in 14th century England). But this series works so well for me. In this book, there is a plot involving the poisoning of a baby - and that was very hard to read - too graphic. Now that I'm a mother it is certainly hard to read about terrible things happening to kids (and Yahoo keeps putting gruesome things involving children when I go on it, despite many times I click on the button to remove those kinds of stories.)

So the series continues to be great and next up is Isabella, wife of Edward II. I'm really glad this series is finally getting a good English paperback treatment with Books 6 and 7 coming out soon.

TV: Grimm
Grimm S5E3 )

Cross stitching
My friend Janna is having a baby girl at the end of February so I decided to make a small birth record counted cross stitch for the baby. I picked a 5X7 design of a toy train with animals - it is nice and colorful and a project small enough to be manageable. I haven't cross stitched for 15 months - last thing I did was Tanya's birth record, so it was so nice just to do a little bit today. And I love projects with bright colors.

Today, I just wrapped the fabric in masking tape and found the center. Then I did two strands in orange for the giraffe. I made a mistake, which I thankfully caught before I finished the first strand; the fabric needed to be in landscape but I started doing portrait automatically. Good thing I realized it and was able to pull the stitches and start over again on the proper side.
Catching a mistake in time.
bearshorty: (Default)
We just got back from visiting Marianna and her family today. Marianna's birthday was on October 7th and we all finally got our schedule aligned. We didn't do anything complicated. Bear, Tanya and I drove to Queens to Marianna's place and Yeva came too a bit later. We told her 1pm, so she showed up by 3:30pm. Real time was about 2pm. We played a little inside with Galya, who is 4, and Idalia, who is 15 months - two days younger than Tanya. And then around 4pm we walked to this Himalayan/Nepalese restaurant, which was a lot like Asian fusion.

The food was good and there weren't a lot of people there so we didn't have to worry about toddler/little kids disrupting other diners. And all the kids were pretty well behaved. Tanya actually was willing to eat and had lots of rice, some tofu from miso soup, and a steamed chicken dumpling. She's been really picky lately about eating - it's a struggle to get her to eat sometimes, so it was nice for her to participate. And I got some time to eat too. We had some chicken and beef dumplings for the table, and bok choi, and I got miso soup, their special bread and crispy noodles with chicken. The noodles were ok, but their dumplings were very delicious.

Last week was stressful. We were thinking lately of buying an apartment instead of renting, with some help from my parents. Last Saturday (on Halloween) one realtor called to show us a two bedroom in his co-op. The size was OK and the kitchen was a good size, but the place would have needed so much renovation. Practically everything. We thought back and forth all week, weighting pros and cons and ultimately decided against it since the flip tax (what you pay into the co-op if you sell) was too big and there is no sublet there either - so if something happened it would not be easy to sell. In the last three years, real estate prices went up - but we will just have to keep looking. One good thing from all the stress of thinking about everything, I called my landlord office to find out if we could break our lease if we had too and they are pretty easy going about it. So, a lot of being an adult this week.

On Halloween, we also dressed up at home - Tanya was the cutest cat, I was a witch (my usual get-up) and Bear was Freddy Kruger. We also played some Halloween music on the radio which Tanya was grooving to. She is too young to trick and treat yet, but I'm looking forward to that in a few years. (I don't share pics on social media but I have no problem emailing them to people on my friends list - so if anyone wants pics, just ask)

I caught up on Grimm S5E2 yesterday and this morning. Grimm S5E2 )
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For the first time in over a month I have a weekend (Thur night to Mon morning) free from grading. After grading Paper 3, commenting on Rough Draft 4 and grading Paper 4, I handed everything back and won't need to grade until Monday when I get the final Paper 5. Well, I do have a couple of Paper 4th next week from students who fudged formatting and I gave them some wiggleroom on the important Paper 4, but still it was very nice to just sit with my laptop last night and watch the latest "Supernatural" episode instead of grading by flashlight.

It does get a bit tedious grading 40 papers of the same variety because only maybe 4 people would say something original. Thesis looks pretty much the same in the rest of the class. Original thought and looking at authors critically is hard - it is much easier just to parrot back the argument of the authors without questioning. Also students were pissing me off by messing with margins. Seriously, you submit your paper online too - I am capable of pulling up your online copy and checking your formatting. I read gazillion papers, I can tell when it's Times Roman 13 instead of 12. Also, when I say that I will hold extra office hours from 2 to 5, which I really don't have to do, don't email me to ask if you can set up an appointment for 1:45. I do love teaching and I love seeing my students really learn something over the course of the semester - most can now organize their paper and there are a lot of Bs - but sometimes I just want to shake my head.

I signed up for final Folder Review today, which will be the official end of the semester for me when I submit all the grades. I'll be done on May 11th. Very excited. I can focus on the job hunt more then. I can come back to teach in the fall, they want me back and I'm already on the schedule - but I really do need a full time job with a shorter commute.

Job hunting is such a frustrating process. More so since every online "helpful" article pretty much says that only 10% get the job from online job adds, the rest from networking and referral. I am terrible at networking. I did set up a LinkedIn profile but I still need to figure out how to use that better. I want to switch fields too, so that seems also almost impossible. I know I need to be positive and keep searching but the whole process does not feel that optimistic. At least, I would be able to give it more of a fair shot once the semester is over.

One more personal front, I finally managed to go to my hairdresser to get my hair colored with highlights and get a haircut. In my family early gray is common and I was tired of my graying roots. I didn't color my hair until I was 32 but now I do it periodically. I keep as close to my natural brown color as I can. And when I get my haircut, the hairdresser does a blow out and my hair looks nice and straight and normal sized for a few days and not giant and unruly. (I have lots and lots of big poofy hair and I rarely have patience to style it. I usually just pull it up into a bun. And for a few days after a haircut, I wear my hair loose).

Also, as of a week ago, I finally stepped on the scale after a few months, and I'm back at my pre-pregnancy weight! I don't have to get a new wardrobe at all and that feels good because I hate clothes shopping. I don't usually care much about the scale or my weight, just as long as my pants still fit.

When I was looking up mondegreen on Wikipedia when writing my last post, I realized that I always misheard Alanis Morrissette's "You Oughta Know" song. Instead of "cross I bear" I always heard "cross-eyed bear," like I genuinely thought the guy gave her a bear and it held sentimental meaning she is reminding him off.

On a more silly news in TV and book world:


The idea of a Full House sequel on Netflix makes me happy. I know that show is super corny and ridiculous at times but the very first episode of American TV I saw when we came to New York (we immigrated 22 years ago yesterday! on April 23rd)and bought a TV was the episode where Steve took DJ to his prom. We didn't really understand much dialogue in the episode but we did understand "I love you". And that show was one of the first shows I watched here - I learned English from it. So I will watch the sequel for sure.

Grimm continues to have a nice season. I'm not sure if I like the Evil Juliette story overall nor her downward spiral, but I do like that she has her own storyline and she's allowed to feel things about it and not let men to tell her how she should respond to the upheaval in her life. It is certainly better than her non-presence in the first season. And as long as the show gives me happy married Monroe and Rosalee, I'm happy. I think Trouble and Nick's Mom will come back in the finale, so I'm looking forward to that. Not sure what is going on with Renald at all.

Supernatural in the last few episode started to gain momentum again. I even liked Rowena in the last episode and she was getting annoying before. And it was wonderful to see Bobby and now Benny again. And Charlie always rocks. I'm looking forward to the cliffhanger of the finale. I do think Crowley will die this time for real.


Among my intense grading spree and limited time, I did manage to finish Oliver Sacks' An Anthropologist on Mars I liked it less than The Minds' Eye but it still had a lot of interesting moments and made me think a lot. It is a book of seven case studies that make the reader think of self and how we construct it and what happens if our brain works differently. The seven case studies were: colorblind painter, guy stuck in the 60s due to tumor and inability to form memories but who likes and responds to music, a person who was able to see practically for the very first time in his life, a surgeon with Tourette's, a painter whose brain made him remember and relive his childhood hometown in vivid obsessive detail, an autistic savant, and a woman with Asperger's.

As with many other work by Sacks it just makes you think about your own brain and construction of the world and what it means to see in color, form memories, see, be emotional and it lets you get into the mind of people who don't respond 'normally.' Its creepy, scary and fascinating. My favorite chapter was about a man named Virgil who was blind since very early childhood and after the age of 40 gained the ability to see for pretty much the first time in his life. It wasn't magic - bandages off and you understand the world. It was really hard to figure out what he was seeing because the brain needs to learn to interpret shapes and distances etc. He was well adjusted blind and now with vision he felt he had more of a disability while learning to use it. Like correlating and identifying shapes visually. It is just interesting to realize the whole process behind seeing that we don't even realize because we just take those brain connections for granted.
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I'm in the midst of Paper 1 grading from which I hope to emerge on Thursday, so all my spare time goes to that. I have 43 papers total plus maybe 1 student who still hasn't turned his in. At 30 min per paper and brain being exhausted by really bad papers, it takes me a while to grade and comment. I have 8 papers to finish by class time tomorrow and 21 to grade by Thursday. The average grade is a C so far, which is common for the Paper 1 of the Spring semester. They do get better as I keep reminding myself. Part of the reason I really like teaching Expository Writing is because the students really do learn and we can see progress unfold.

I did get a nice day off yesterday. Tanya, Bear and I went to Long Island to visit Bear's parents for the day. They've been clamoring for Tanya to visit since they haven't seen her since Christmas and they are a bit old and in pain to travel. With all this winter weather it is a bit tricky but yesterday wasn't Arctic cold and the snow only started in the evening when we came back.

Best part of driving for at least an hour - Tanya got to nap! And she just had one nap to do in between. And for her it was like being in a brand new place since she probably forgot the house in 7 weeks.

It was a lovely low-key visit with nice food and desert. Grandma Regina got to feed Tanya some oatmeal and Grandpa Bill got to play with her and take pictures. Best way to spend Valentine's Day.

When we got home and Tanya actually slept from 7:30 to her 11 o'clock feed with no problem, I caught up on 'Grimm'. (Unlike on Friday when she did not let me watch 'Glee' by waking up at 9 and refusing to settle. Argh.)

I am really enjoying 'Grimm' this season, and of course there is a cliffhanger until March 20th. I'm actually enjoying Juliette storyline, go figure.

Today, while my parents came to babysit, Bear and I braved the freezing, freezing cold (16F), to walk 15 min to the tax accountant to do our taxes. Good thing about having a baby last year (well other than baby, who is awesome despite all the sleep deprevation)- child tax credit. Yay. Glad that is done.
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I officially went back to work last Thursday. It is part-time, 2 classes, two days a week. I'm definitely over the commute - I want to find something closer. I have to get up at 5:30 to pump before I even start getting ready to leave - I don't need much to actually leave the house: get dressed, brush teeth and hair, put tea in thermos and go. I get a bagel with cream cheese on the way and I do very limited make-up. Still 5:30 is a bit early. And two plus hours one way gets tedious despite the fact that I can do work on the train. Especially when I get up several times a night to change a diaper and feed a baby, waking up early is not fun. And the next day after I went back to work, Tanya started waking up at night a little more again - she was getting better at sleep but I guess she wants to check that I'm still there.

She also refused the bottle and would only eat from a spoon. I think we solved that problem a bit today - I replaced the bottle nipple with a larger size. Hopefully, tomorrow she will eat better. She fills up at night so she can afford to go on strike during the day. My Mom is already here, staying overnight. She is staying until Thursday actually because of the expected snowstorm. Joy.

New thing this weekend - Bear and I started feeding Tanya veggies from a jar. Menu yesterday and today was organic squash. Tanya loves it. She is an adventurous one, just ate it up and didn't spit it out or anything. So now she gets solids twice a day. Cereal of some kind: oatmeal, rice, buckwheat or quinoa at 11am and veggie or fruit at 3pm. We'll see how it goes.

Now for more fun stuff: TV and books.

TV (I watched this week)

1. Supernatural S10E10: I actually watched this week's episode live for a change. I like the whole dark Dean. I can't stand Metatron and I was hoping Dean would kill him but no such luck. He is just so swarmy. Rowena is a fun manipulator and I'm curious where that storyline is going. I like the season so far.

2. Glee S6E4 It's funny that the reaction to this episode is so different depending on the audience and if you get the joke. The comments on mainstream reviews on EW or TVline hate the episode because they think the writers are coming up with ridiculous plots. The fandom on Tumblr was just loving it. I was giggling like a silly person throughout the episode trying to keep it down so as not to wake up the baby. I thought it was hysterical. There was a lot of meta and I don't think we are supposed to take this show seriously at all anyway. Definitely an episode of joy. Who can't love a bear cub? And there was a nice Klaine scene - and that shrine of Sue was just awesome. Love the season so far.

3. Grimm S4E10 This season is on the roll too. Nice and suspenseful episode where everyone got to be a badass and kill some evil dudes. While I knew the Monroe would survive, there was still tension and really nice scenes. Both Rosalee and Juliette got to be in the power walk and neither sat on the sidelines. I like Juliette's storyline so far of turning into a Hexenbeast - at least she is not pregnant - but I hope she doesn't hide it from Nick. And isn't the solution here is too simple - Nick can get rid of her powers like he did with Adeline. I am glad that Wu was finally brought in - I like it when characters on the show actually communicate with each other and work together.


Well, one book really. I barely have time to read as it is. I'm reading Tim Wu's The Master Switch: The Rise and Fall of Information Empires . One of the chapters is included in our textbook for the writing program and I loved reading it. I'm going to teach it later in the semester. But the chapter intrigued me enough that I wanted to read the whole book. I went online, and in a few minutes borrowed the book on my Kindle from the library. Technology is awesome.

Tim Wu is a proponent of the net neutrality and of the open communication system (decentralized, cooperative) as opposed to the closed system (monopoly, centralized control of information). In this book he traces the communication technologies of the twentieth century and sees a Cycle that starts with an open system which closes on monopolies and then get opened again. While he acknowledges that monopolies that strive for public good can bring in some good in research, etc, he believes that ultimately closed systems stifle research and progress because monopolies refuse to develop, and actually repress, new technologies that can potentially topple them (like radio did with FM radio and the television). He also traces the role of government because information empires at its height have to be supported by the state. For him, information should never be in a closed system because while corporations are about profit, what's at stake is free speech. He traces the telephone, radio, movie, television, cable and internet from their inventions to present day. It is certainly an interesting read. He is writing for general audience and his explanations of how each technology works is very clear and awesome. Part history book, part theory, part advocacy for net neutrality it is enjoyable.
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I finished The Martian tonight. Final verdict - good read. The detailed science gets a bit too much sometimes but it does add to realism. And I liked shifting POVs - that actually worked. Nice easy read that feeds into my excitement and interest in space program. (I loved my visit to Kennedy Space Center in 2008).

I also watched the new episode of "Grimm" while Tanya napped on me. Well, I didn't finish all the episode yet because it started buffering on Hulu - but it was tense so far and I can't wait to finish it to see what happens. One tense scene with Juliette and Rosalee shocked me that I was begging for it to be a dream sequence. Wow, Grimm. Kudos for that. For the show that started as a big boys club, the women grew so much as characters and are awesome. It is also the show where I enjoy the canon pairings very much and root for all.

Today, Marianna and family and Yeva came over. Originally, the plan was to go to Queens to Marianna's apartment but she felt it was too messy and asked on Friday if they could come over instead. It's fine - less traveling and disruption for us, but it also meant the get together was later. I always show up o
n time since I hate being late. But for Marianna, and especially, Yeva, time is very relative. Luckily, I adjust my internal clock two hours in expecting them so I don't get cranky. I knew lunch would really be dinner. We ordered Thai food from this place nearby I discovered online. It was very tasty. I wanted Thai food for so long - go Drunken Noodles.

Ida and Tanya match well on skills, as they should, being only two days apart. Tanya is definitely more of an observer and more serious baby. Ida is a happy baby who smiles a bit more and babbles more. They liked looking at each other. Tanya knows how to use a sippy cup, rolls more and sleeps better at night, Ida can sit a bit longer leaning forward and has two teeth already. Tanys is very scheduled (because I need organization and schedule from feeding to naps to bedtime), Ida doesn't have one (because Marianna is more relaxed). Both of us are happy that way and I love that we can offer each other tips and advice from our different parenting styles. Galya was a very social 3 year old too. So full house today and so great to see everyone.

Yesterday's "Glee" episode made me nostalgic for "Jagged Little Pill" album, so I put my tape (yes, tape) of it on while I was making chocolate chip muffins for the guests this morning. I love that CD. I got it from a boyfriend for my 17th birthday, and didn't really listen to it then. But when I was 18 and a half and a friend was visiting and wanted to play it, I discovered that I love most of the songs from it when they play on the radio. So from then on, I listened to that album a lot. (Weird fact - I see a dog when I look at that cover looking straight, instead of a face looking up)
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Another low key day. Last night a library borrow request of "The Cuckoo's Calling" - the mystery novel written by J.K. Rowling under a pseudonym - came through. So I downloaded it on my Kindle and been reading it last night and today. It's really good - I'm enjoying the humor in it and the mystery and the characters are pretty interesting too. I'm about 20% in right now.

I caught up on "Grimm" today - which had Russians in the middle of the story, which is always funny to me.

Bear came home in late afternoon and we had a game night today. We mostly played "Connect 4" and magnetic darts but we did get "Zombies!!!" table game for Christmas that we are going to try out soon. I'm not in the mood for it tonight but I am looking forward to it. (I rock "connect 4" but Bear actually managed to win one game today - which is great too. I won 3 and we tied 1) We also have a game called "Pandemic" which is a game where all the players need to cooperate to win or lose together - I really like that. We are slowly building a nice collection of games.
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Thursday is one day where I don't have to go in to work. Usually it means that I have a lot of grading to do at home but most Thursdays I just take a day off to decompress and grade on the weekends. I need to grade five papers at some point today but right now I'm just relaxing. I had a doctor's check-up appointment today and while I took a bus there, I walked home (It's about 30 minutes walk). That was very nice; I miss walking just because.

So I wanted to cover the TV shows of this Fall season. I am looking forward to January with "Downton Abbey" "Sherlock" "Teen Wolf" and "Community" but for now there are my shows this fall.

TV Shows Fall 2013 )

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Tuesday, May 21st, 2013 10:13 pm
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I finally got on the exercise bike this morning after a few month of not having time. I'm going to try to be more proactive this summer about it.

Yeva went to Sierra Leone this week on a humanitarian mission, which is pretty awesome, if a little nerve wracking for us at home. She is graduating with the Masters in Nursing next week and today she needed to get her cap and gown. Since she is in Africa, she got me a notarized letter so I could go do that for her. I took a couple of buses and a subway and filled out a bunch of forms.

It was such a summer outside. I love it. I finally got to wear my summer shoes and my green khaki pants. On the way back, I tried getting ice-cream at McDonalds, but they were out, so I stopped by at Yogurt City for some expensive frozen yogurt. It was most of my dinner. But totally worth it.

I finished watching Season 5 of "West Wing" today. I like that show but there are times were it gets a bit...not tedious... but I can tell when they are setting up a plot and it is just so put upon. And end and beginning of the season of particular get to be too much. I do like the characters but it will not be a show I will rewatch. I am looking forward to the next two seasons but it is getting tiring for me.

I forgot that today was SYTYCD night and only tuned in for the last hour. At least it is just auditions episode. This show always feels like summer to me and I just love it.

Tonight was also season finale of Grimm. spoilers for Grimm )
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Over the last three weeks I haven’t been blogging. Mostly it was moving and setting up new internet and run down to the wedding, the wedding itself, first week of classes at Local College and figuring out transportation and the mini-honeymoon Bear and I spent in New Hope, PA for the last two days. So it has been a pretty busy three weeks. But now we’re home in our apartment and I will blog much more regularly as I settle into the new routine.

The wedding last Sunday went well – all according to plan, which was nice. I love my dress – it was so lovely and Bear looked very handsome in his suit. In the morning, Mama and I went to Brooklyn to the hair dresser and then the make-up girl came to my house. Bear and Jeremy, his best men, came around 1:30, had lunch, changed and then we all went to Fort Wadsworth, right by Verrazano Bridge to take pictures of fabulous views. (By Russian tradition, the groom needs to go to bride’s house to pick her up). Yeva met us there since as usual she was running late.

After all the pictures we drove to the restaurant. All the guests came on time and we had our ceremony at 6:30 with a priest and a rabbi. Everyone seemed to have a good time. There was a lot of alcohol and Bear’s friends were really into Belarussian champagne (we also gave alcohol as parting gifts). There was a show in the restaurant and dancing too. Bear and I danced in the private room before we did the main restaurant floor to cheesy music and green fog – it was such a fun cheesy moment. And we had our cake with wedding bears on top. We actually took the bottom half home – the chocolate layer (the top layer was walnut) – and Bear took most of it into work and we’ve been eating the rest all week. So much delicious cake. And after the restaurant, Bear and I drove a short way to our new apartment.

wedding pictures )

After fourteen years together, getting married doesn’t actually feel all the different. It is a little weird to call him my husband but other than that even living together doesn’t feel that new, although it sort of is. Mostly, I’m just happy we could spend more time together but so far, it is not that different.

For our mini-moon, we went to New Hope for a few days (we want to go to Grand Canyon in January for the actual honeymoon). I needed to go into work on Thursday for my Writing Program orientation but that was on the way to the vacation. We stayed in a very nice B&B and we actually got a lot done in two and a half days. We walked around the town and shopped a bit (I love a magnet that says “A monkey can do my job but he would demand better pay”), went canoeing, had a giant milkshake, watched fireworks, went on a 1920s style train ride and went to all three Washington Crossing National Park sights. And had nice food too.

We almost done setting up the apartment – we still need a couch and different bar stools but it is coming together. Bear bought an exercise bike – so now I have no excuse but to work out at home. I will try to get into a more productive routine now that I have to set a new routine. And teaching has started and I will need to figure out a new commute too. But it is good – I do like the change.

I haven’t been reading that much actual books this summer but I did finish “Infidel” by Aayan Hirsi Ali – which I liked but found a bit problematic at times since I do believe in multiculturalism more than the author does. Now I’m reading “Tinker, Taylor, Soldier, Spy” by John le Carre (I want to see the movie and I know practically nothing about it.

As for TV, I’m loving the second season of “Grimm” and I watched Season 1 of “Teen Wolf” on Netflix, which I enjoyed. I will catch up with second season online too. I can’t watch SYTYCD here since I don’t have cable, just the internet but I do catch up on dances the next day, so there is that. This Fall TV Season I have the least number of TV shows to watch in the longest time and I’m really OK with that.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Monday, May 14th, 2012 11:00 pm
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For the first time in maybe half a year I actually watched Monday’s TV live. First “How I met Your Mother (HIMYM)” and then “House.”

I have been keeping up with “HIMYM” online but I was mostly bored with it and in the first half of this evening’s episode I switched to HBO and Harry Potter during the commercial and didn’t care to go back. The show seems to mostly stay in place and it is just not interesting anymore. I don’t think I’m coming back for it next season.

I need to catch up to about 4 episodes of ‘House’ and I don’t really care. I do like House and Wilson interaction in the latest storyline but that is about it – the rest, the patients just leave me indifferent. I will watch the finale, of course, and I will probably catch up to the episodes I missed by having them run in the background while I’m doing something else but I’m glad the show is ending. It used to be a must watch for me but I really stopped caring.

In fact, this TV season has the lowest number of shows that I follow or that I watch live. There are only three that I watch as they actually air and that I get excited about: Glee, Community and Grimm. I’m still surprised by how much I got into Glee this year after two years of indifference and occasional watching. Community is the funniest comedy around and Grimm is my favorite new show and I adore it to pieces and it just keeps getting better and better.

Modern Family and Grey’s Anatomy are shows I like that I usually watch online after they air. HIMYM is the show I do watch online but reluctantly. And House I kind of watch online now, but not really. I gave up on Bones in April when I realized that I just didn’t care anymore and I don’t miss it at all. But that’s it.

At least summer is coming up with the crack that is True Blood, SYTYCD and Burn Notice. I’m done with Leverage and I don’t even remember other shows. I haven’t even finished last four episodes of Dexter Season 6. (And I will watch Borgias all at once on Demand probably).


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