Little Dorrit

My Dicken’s read in June (I’m late with the review). I liked it a lot, rather to my surprise, as the Dickens I read before that, Dombey and Son, wasn’t to my taste and I’d feared that I’d become fed up with Dickens. Happily, not so! I can recommend Little Dorrit, it was a fun and at times even thrilling read. Gotta love the sticky end that overtook the evil guy – not that I’ll reveal it. As always, I’m putting the review under a cut, to avoid spoilers.

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Jazz

By Toni Morrison. I read this novel in June and then reread most of it again in July, because it is just so complex and rich that I couldn’t write a review after just one read. My review contains spoilers, so I’m putting it under the cut. As all the previous novels by Morrison, I loved this one too. I strongly recommend it, it’s very engaging and lively.

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Mid-Year Book Recap

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On booktube there’s a meme called “Mid-Year Book Freakout Tag” where booktubers answer some questions about their reading in the first six months of the year and then tag other booktubers to also make a video answering the same questions. Now, obviously I’m neither a booktuber nor have I been tagged, but I felt like doing a blog entry on this tag. Except that I’m not calling it a “freak out” as there’s no reason for freaking out. Calling it a “recap” instead. So, here goes:

  1. Best book you’ve read so far in 2020?
    Beloved, by Toni Morrison. It was a reread, but I hadn’t picked it up for a good number of years. I loved it, as I did when I last read it. All her novels that I’ve read this year are ones that I first read while I was at university, although I wasn’t required to read all for class. I picked them up for pleasure. Paradise, the novel I’m going to read in July, will be the last one of those rereads. In 2003, when Love came out, I was one year into working full-time and I’d kind of stopped reading literary fiction and just read genre fiction, like mystery novels, fantasy, or sci-fi (also a lot of fan-fiction online). I started reading classics and literary fiction again in 2018 when I did a buddy-read of Richardson’s Clarissa with a friend. 2020 is the first year that I’ve set myself reading goals. It’s an interesting experience, and I like it, but will tweak the process of goal setting for next year. So, Love will be the first Morrison novel that I haven’t already read. I’m really looking forward to it and the other three novels of hers that I haven’t read yet.
  2. Best sequel you’ve read so far in 2020?
    Network Effect, by Martha Wells. This is book five of the Murderbot Diaries and it is just great. I love the murderbot’s struggles with its humanity and its interaction with its friends. And the plot was thrilling, as usual in the series.
  3. New release you haven’t read yet, but want to?
    The Other Bennet Sister, by Janice Hadlow. This book is hyped on booktube and I think I’d really like it. It’s the story of Mary, the middle Bennet Sister in Pride and Prejudice. I love Jane Austen, and it would be lovely to revisit the world of this novel. I hope to read it sometime later this year, maybe during my October vacation or otherwise over Christmas.
  4. Most anticipated release for the second half of the year?
    Piranesi, by Susanna Clarke. I found out last year that this book was scheduled for release this September and I was thrilled, because I’d recently finished her huge novel Jonathon Strange & Mr Norrel. I got this book as a hardcover for my birthday from Partner when it first came out and then didn’t finish it for years because I somehow couldn’t get into it. But last year I started it again and loved it. I’m not sure if this new novel is set in the same magic universe, but I’m thrilled about it in any case.
  5. Biggest disappointment?
    I haven’t had a book-related disappointment yet. I’m just a little disappointed that Piranesi is a lot shorter than Jonathon Strange & Mr Norrel, but maybe it will be the perfect length.
  6. Biggest surprise?
    I’m really surprised at how much I like reading Dickens. I kind of dared myself to read all his novels this year (except the one that I already read last December, Our Mutual Friend) but I secretly feared that they’d be a slog. They are not. Except for one (Dombey and Son) I liked all of them just fine. I may even like Dombey and Son if I ever reread it. It did have some memorable scenes.
    I’m also surprised that I really like short stories. I used to avoid them, because I prefer (or thought I did) immersing myself in long novels, the longer the better. I’m glad I challenged myself to read a short story a day. I think I’ll keep up this habit.
  7. Favourite new author, either debut or new to you?
    Ali Smith. She’s (of course) not a debut author, but I really love her short stories and they were new to me. I’ve read all her collections this year.
  8. Newest fictional crush?
    I’m too old for crushes on fictional characters and I haven’t had any that I can remember. I very much admire Spock, of the classic Star Trek series (the character, not the actor). When I have to make a decision about something difficult, I often ask myself “What would Spock do?”. Kind of crazy. But I wouldn’t call that having a crush on him.
    OK, come to think of it, maybe I had a crush on Snape. And when I was a teenager, I was absolutely taken by the dragons in Anne McCaffrey’s Pern novels.
  9. Newest favourite character?
    None, I like a lot of characters in the books I read, but I can’t say that one sticks out. It’s more a whole world of a novel kind of thing that I like, not so much focusing on a single character.
  10. Book that made you cry?
    Network Effect. The murderbot has some very emotional moments that can make me tear up.
  11. Book that made you happy?
    All of them. I need books. If I’m not reading for a few days, I’m unhappy and get grouchy. I need quiet reading time to recuperate from everything else in my life.
  12. Most beautiful book you’ve bought so far this year?
    The Tale of Genji, by Murasaki Shikibu. I got myself the Penguin Classics Deluxe Edition. It’s lovely and I’m planning to start reading it after I’ve finished War and Peace.
  13. What books do you need to read by the end of the year?
    Don’t need to read any but would like to complete my reading goals for this year, especially to read all of Dickens’ and Morrison’s novels. I’m optimistic that I’ll make it, as so far, I’m on track.

Keep safe, world

June Reading

Here’s my (rather belated) reading report for June:

Ongoing projects:

  • Leo Tolstoy, War and Peace
    138 pages, my quota for June – still liking it.
  • Robert Burton, The Anatomy of Melancholy
    Total fail again. It’s not really an issue, as it is an optional goal, so I don’t really care about not getting ahead.

Poetry:

Helen Gardner (ed.) The New Oxford Book of English Verse
Almost finished. It’s a super anthology – I’ve stuck a lot of post-its to mark poems I liked and poets whose works I want to follow up on and read more of. I’ll be finished with the collection in July.

  • Short stories:
    Flannery O’Connor, The Complete Stories
    I started this short story collection in May and finished it in June. They were memorable, but very dark. I found them depressing.
  • Dorothy L. Sayers, Lord Peter Wimsey: The Complete Short Stories
    I picked this collection up, because I really love the Lord Peter Wimsey novels. I thought I’d read most of the short stories before but found that actually most of them were new to me. It was a nice change after the O’Connor stories.
  • Byatt, A.S., The Oxford Book of English Short Stories
    I selected this collection, because I liked the Oxford poetry anthology and thought that the short stories would be good as well. I’ve read a handful and they are great.

Non-Fiction:

I didn’t read any non-fiction in June, but I’m still on track with my goals, because I’d only planned on reading one non-fiction book every two month and I’ve already read more than that in the first half of this year.

Graphic novel:

James Robinson: Starman Omnibus 1
This is a collection that I’ve owned for a few years but haven’t read all the volumes. I’ve just found out that the two volumes missing from my collection are out-of-print. What a pain – I’d wanted to read the entire collection. The missing volumes are available second hand but are rather expensive. Collector’s items, I guess.

Novels:

  • Charles Dickens, Little Dorrit
    I liked this novel a lot better than last month’s Dickens. Will write a longer review about it.
  • Toni Morrison, Jazz
    Will also write a separate review. It was very good.
  • Sherry Thomas, The Hollow of Fear
    A Sherlock Holmes pastiche, where both Holmes and Watson are women, solving crimes in the Victorian Age. Very good fun. This is the third in the series and you should read the other two as the latest one does refer to things that occurred in the earlier installment. There’s another one already published and one upcoming and I’ll eventually read them too.
  • Katherine Addison, The Angel of Crows
    This is another very enjoyable Holmes pastiche, where Holmes is an Angel and Watson a kind of werewolf. It’s absolutely good fun if you like fantasy mixed with detection tales. I hope that this is the first of a series.
  • Anthony Trollope, Can You Forgive Her
    This is the first of the Parliamentary or Palliser series. I came across a book review of the last book in the series, which intrigued me, but I thought it would be better to start with the beginning. I’m finding Trollope a good change from Dickens. I started this book in June and finished in July. Will write a review but can definitively recommend it.

I reached my goals this month. Had a good reading month and can recommend all the books I read, even the Flannery O’Connor short stories that I didn’t much like. They were still kind of good in a disturbing way. I may revisit them sometime. I love Holmes pastiches and was delighted by my discovery of the Addison novel (I discovered it through a blog I follow).

2020_07_22

Selected Occurrences

Last week I just didn’t get around to blogging, so here’s a round-up of some of the things that happened:

Nothing particularly out of the ordinary happened at work except that I took Thursday afternoon off and worked on Friday morning instead. Thursday afternoon Mum and I drove to Bavaria with Curious Dog, for our week at the old family house. Strangely enough, on that short work morning, when I didn’t have much time to do anything, I received about four complicated work mails when normally my work mails are straightforward. But I managed to get most things done by noon. During the trip to Bavaria in the afternoon it rained all the time (actually, it rained all day). Visibility on the Autobahn was quite poor, what with all the spray from the lorries. Traffic was fairly heavy and there were some delays at roadworks. Both of the diversions we had last time due to road works on the country roads were still in place, so it took more than three hours to get here.

When we arrived, we found that the neighbours were in the process of putting a tile edging on our side of an outside staircase. They look good on their side, but not that great on ours. We don’t mind that they tile their staircase, but not on the vertical side that makes up our wall. They also wanted to take down part of our fence and treat and paint it, which isn’t necessary, because our fence consist of durable weathered wooden boards. If you paint those, you have to keep re-painting them every few years. Also, not as good for the environment. So, we had to tell them that they couldn’t do it. But I bet if we hadn’t arrived in time to catch them at it, they would just have gone ahead and done it. Like that time, they painted our old garage; not just the wall facing their house, but also the front. I hope that’s the last thing they try to change. They’ve done a very nice job on the fixer-upper house they bought a couple of years ago and they are much nicer (no comparison) to the previous owners, but they are rather all-consuming. If you give them your little finger, they’ll take your whole hand (that’s a saying in German, meaning “give them an inch and they’ll take a mile”). I wouldn’t be surprised if they went ahead and did the fence anyway when we are gone again, but that would seriously annoy us, so I hope they don’t. Mum did tell them quite firmly that they should leave our stuff alone and they did agree to it. They’ve now gone off on a trip in their small caravan without any goodbye, so I guess they are a bit miffed.

Friday morning, I spent working until 1 p.m. and then did a grocery run. That took me to mid-afternoon and afterwards I was knackered and only up to a bit of surfing Booktube before taking Curious Dog on his afternoon walk. After dinner until 9ish, I sorted through the old books stashed on the shelves of my bedroom. Some of them were from my childhood, some from my parents, and some even from my grandmother. I collected three baskets of paperbacks to recycle, as on Saturday the local sports club was collecting paper for recycling to earn some money for the club. They do that two or three times a year, but hadn’t done it yet this year, because of Corona. We always bundle up months’ worth of magazines and newspapers but hadn’t got rid of any book that way before. As I didn’t have enough twine or cardboard boxes to bundle up the paperbacks, I brought them to the collection point myself in some plastic boxes, where they were thrown into the container (I took the boxes back home). There’s lots more old paperback that I will consign to the same fate. Hardbacks, which we’ve also got plenty that we don’t want anymore, I’m going to donate to Caritas. They’ve got a collection point near the next big city which is not too far away. I’m keeping only those books that I may want to read again. I’ve got tons of books also in my house, which I also want to sort by “to be kept” versus “to be recycled or donated”. I never thought I’d do that with books, but my last move was so harrowing with all these books to pack up and lug up and down stairs that I’ve become a lot less sentimental about them. I’m going to restrict my physical book-buying in favour of e-books. I do that already, but I’m going to put some more thought into it. Some books I find are easier to read using a physical copy, but some are just fine in electronic format. Best thing about e-books is that you can enlarge the print. It’s also good for reading at night in bed, as I don’t need an extra light that annoy Partner when he’s trying to sleep.

That was Friday. On Saturday, I walked with Curious Dog, took the paperbacks to the sports club container, took gardening rubbish to the municipal collection point, went to the post office (just a very small branch office in a local flower shop), and picked up some bread and buns at the small village grocery. Then I spent the rest of the day reading The Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson. I’m taking part in a Booktube read along of his Stormlight Archives, as there is a new volume of the series coming out in November. I haven’t read this series before and find it very enjoyable. Fabulously complex world-building, engaging characters and interesting plot. Looking forward to reading the other two volumes and the new one when it is published. And maybe others set in the same fictional universe.

Sunday, I finished The Way of Kings lazing in bed in the morning and walked with Curious Dog fairly late, when it was already quite warm. As he always does a lot of excited barking when I take him out, I usually start our Sunday morning walks at later than 9:00 a.m. to avoid annoying the neighbours who may want to sleep in. Though I do think the neighbours here in our Bavarian village don’t really care. Later that day, I did some cursory reading of short stories, some meditation and I created the mind maps for the books that I still want to review. I’ve got a bit of a backlog. I found that I couldn’t remember Toni Morrison’s Jazz very well, so I’m going to read it again this week so I can do a good review and a proper mind map. That’s what happens if I wait too long after I’ve finished a novel, especially novels with complex structures like those of Morrison – I forget the details.

2020_07_21

Monday was a dreadful workday. I had two meetings in the morning, together 1.5 hours and then four back-to-back meetings in the afternoon, one hour each. So, 5.5 hours of meetings in an 8 hour day. Gruesome. Didn’t get around to doing anything except reply to emails and do my morning quality checks.

Late in the afternoon, Curious Dog and I went to dog school. It was, as always, at the animal shelter in the woods a couple of villages away. They have a very nice big shady area in the woods, with meadows and shady trees. It’s a no-kill shelter (I don’t think there are kill shelters in Germany, fortunately). Anyway, the dog school takes place in a large woody meadow and Curious Dog had fun playing with a Rhodesian Ridgeback bitch. He was very distracted by her and didn’t concentrate much on what we were supposed to do, but it wasn’t as bad as some sessions. Sort of middling. I asked the trainer what to do about him not wanting to go on walks with Partner. She said that there’s probably some kind of communication issue between Curious Dog and Partner and that I should not go on walks with him at all anymore, so that he’s basically forced to go with Partner if he wants to go at all. Don’t think that’s very likely to happen. Partner won’t like it, it disrupts our work-life balance, and Curious Dog is awfully stubborn. He’ll probably not go at all and then he’ll be totally bored and hyper in the evenings. Still, we might try it for a couple of days. Just let him out into the yard and not take him on walks at all if he won’t go with Partner. Why is CD such a complicated dog? This never happened with any of my family’s dogs. They’d go on walks with anyone in the family.

My work notebook is still misbehaving and not installing updates. I’m getting seriously annoyed with the support calls. I’m going to schedule one more call and if that doesn’t solve the issue, I’m going to ask for a new one.

Work today was much better than yesterday, with only a couple of meetings. Such a relief. I hate days with more than two or three meetings. The best days are those with only one meeting.

It’s been quite hot since Sunday, but still below 30°C, so I’m still pleased with the way the summer has been so far. Tonight, after dinner, I’m hoping to do some gardening (if I’m not too lazy). Well, gardening is too grand a word. I need to mow the lawn, cut around the edges, and cut the really high patches at least partly by hand. The one thing about rain in the summer is that everything grows like crazy. In the last couple of years, the lawn was basically dried grass and brown soil all summer and didn’t need any cutting or mowing. This summer, it’s growing wildly, and something has to be done each time we are here. But I still prefer working in the garden to sweltering in a dry, boiling, 30+°C summer.

Keep safe, world.

Monday Miscellanea

Although Friday is my day off work, I got up early and took Curious Dog for his morning walk, up the hill and down through the woods. It was very pleasant. Sunny weather, not too hot.

2020_07_13

As the technician from my internet provider was supposed to come to my house in the afternoon to enable my new higher speed internet, I wanted to clean my house in the morning. I vacuumed the staircase from the top down into the cellar, three staircases (it’s an open staircase, and all the dust and dirt always drop down into the stair well which is inconvenient). I vacuumed the cellar, opened the little window high up in the cellar wall to air it out (as per the Corona instructions). Then I vacuumed the ground floor and especially behind the little cabinet on which the router lives, where all the cables disappear into the wall. Very dusty it was too. Hadn’t cleaned behind there for months. Then I washed the floor and cleaned the downstairs bathroom and changed the dog’s bedding – all things I was going to do anyway but wanted to get out of the way before the technician came. By the time I was finished, it was early in the afternoon and I was tired out.

Well, it was nice that I was done early with almost all of my weekend chores, but the technician never turned up. Instead, I got a call from the internet provider telling me that their customer service made a mistake in rescheduling the appointment (which anyway only needed to be rescheduled because they had initially sent my new router to the wrong address) and that the technician couldn’t come. Well great! I made a new appointment for July 31 and then got a confirmation email that the new appointment was on August 3. Don’t ask! I didn’t call back because I was fed up. Let’s hope everything works out on August 3. This entire endeavor has been an exercise in frustration. Their customer service stinks.

I spent the rest of Friday afternoon surfing, as I was too fed up and tired for anything involving more brain power. Later on, I took CD for his afternoon walk and cooked the evening meal. By the way, the pak choi I’d cooked on Thursday was just so-so. I liked the green part of the leaves, but the white part was kind of stringy. I didn’t enjoy that too much. Next time, I’ll cut that part into smaller pieces, maybe that will help. Friday, I made salt potatoes with chicory salad and fried tofu. Simple but delicious.

Saturday was a very pleasant and relaxed day – the fruits of my labours from the day before. I should do most of my housework on Fridays more often. Curious Dog and I did our early morning walk, which was lovely, and then I did a quick grocery shopping trip to pick up some bread from the bakery and some other odds and ends. Then I spent most of the day reading. I finished Martin Chuzzlewit – which was not the best Dickens I’ve yet read but picked up in the second half. After my walk with Curious Dog, I made a broccoli cream soup (and reserved some of the broccoli for CD, who really loves it). Instead of cream, I used my soy-oat milk, which works very well as long as you add the milk when the soup is almost done and then don’t let it boil. If the soup boils, the consistency becomes weird (although it still tastes good). We had the rest of the soup on Sunday for lunch.

Sunday, I started in a dawdling way, hanging around surfing again after the morning dog walk, but shortly before lunch I pulled myself together and started sorting and cleaning part of the huge bookshelf in the office. I sorted all our German crime novels (which mostly belong to Partner, because I read mainly English books) and some of the literature books. It was about one third of the bookshelf. When we moved, two years ago, we just shoved the books onto the shelves fairly unsorted. The rest of the shelves contain non-fiction, Children’s lit, and biographies. Also, comics, graphic novels, and magazines. The resorted shelves look very nice and tidy. I’ll do the rest of the shelves some other time. I really got a lot of stuff done on the weekend.

When Partner returned in the afternoon, I made pancakes. Partner recently got a new non-stick pan and since then making pancakes is great fun. Hardly any oil is needed, and they don’t stick at all. A very good buy.

Later, in the evening, my cousin called and gave us an update on her life and studies. She’s thinking of maybe visiting us if she can borrow her granddad’s car as she doesn’t want to use the train because of Corona. We’ll see what the Corona situation is like in August or September. If it’s advisable or not. We’d love to have her, though.

Monday at work has been a bit of a drag. Lots of boring meetings and not as much work done as I hoped. At least one of the most annoying meetings tomorrow has been cancelled, so tomorrow has a chance of turning out much better. Curious Dog was a nitwit and wouldn’t walk with Partner at all in the morning. Went out with him at lunch, but only for a short time, as it’s too hot in the middle of the day.

Partner baked a lovely little cake for afternoon coffee. With redcurrants that he bought from his garden at his place. My raspberries are also ripening, but they are not enough to bake a cake with. I hope not too many will be ripe next week, when we will be away. It would be a shame.

I tried to get an appointment today to get the winter tires off my car and the summer ones on. Pretty late, since I like to get the winter ones back on in October. Well, I only got an appointment for July 27 (first, on the phone I got one for Wednesday, but then they sent me a confirmation for October by mistake). I’m currently having a lot of bad luck with customer service – very odd. I’d hoped for one this week, but it didn’t work out. Apparently, lots of other people also haven’t yet had their tires changed. Usually I do this by mid-May, but this year Corona has disrupted my schedule. I also need an appointment for the annual maintenance, but I will call about that one tomorrow.

Keep safe, world.

Pick of the Week

Thursday is the pick of the week for me, because it is the last day of my working week, since I don’t work on Fridays. It’s better than the weekend itself, because of the anticipation. One has a view of the weekend to come, full of potential. The weekend itself sometimes doesn’t live up to it’s potential. I usually have lots of plans and only manage to actually do some (or most) of them, mostly because I’m often too lazy to do some of the more elaborate plans. But then, there’s always the next weekend and sometimes it is nice to just let one’s soul dangle. Die Seele baumeln lassen – “letting one’s soul dangle” is a German expression for spending a leisurely time doing nothing. I’m a bit of an expert at it with the caveat that I sometimes get a guilty feeling, which kind of wrecks the experience. Usually I manage to keep my conscience quiet or I postpone my bad conscience until it is too late to do anything about it. It’s best, of course, to find a congenial balance between doing things and lazing around. As always, I will strive again to find this balance this weekend.

Yesterday I went grocery shopping and found some cherries at the supermarket on sale. Hoping that they would be delicious, I bought two lots. A very good buy. We’ve already eaten the first lot and are on the second. I’m contemplating another trip to the supermarket to pick up some more. I absolutely adore cherries and these ones are very good.

Otherwise yesterday was an uneventful day, except that we tried a new dish at night. Well, Partner tried it and when he ran into problems, he enlisted my aid. Together, we managed it. It was grated zucchini and carrot patties fried in a non-stick pan. The first lot stayed limp and floppy and kept falling apart. The recipe wasn’t very detailed and through trial and error we found out that the patties needed more flour than Partner had initially added. Once we added more flour, the patties turned out very nicely. We had them with a cucumber-yoghurt dip and some sambal made with coconut flakes, tomato, and spring onions. I do believe, though, that the fried patties were a bit rich for dinner. They would have been easier on the digestion at lunch. I think they disrupted my sleep. I’m not really that fond of fried food, even when it is delicious, because I feel that fried stuff is unhealthy. The patties were a lot of work and took ages to fry, so I don’t think we’ll be having them often.

2020_07_09

Today Partner has left for his place for the weekend which sometimes makes me feel a bit sad. I do like being by myself, but I have enough time by myself when I’m in Bavaria with Mum and Curious Dog. Although I’m never actually by myself since Mum is always with me. I kind of miss being completely alone, because I like being alone. Not that is it a hardship being with Mum. It’s just different and took some getting used to. I’m glad we have a good relationship. Partner, I strongly suspect, also likes being on his own. We are both very affectionate when we are reunited after an absence and I think, on the whole, it does our relationship good. We don’t get fed up with each other.

Yesterday, after all the tribulations I described in some of my last post, my new router arrived. It looks very sleek and modern compared to my old one. The technician is coming tomorrow afternoon to enable the higher speed internet. I have to clean my little entry hall where my router is located and also the stairs and stairwell in the cellar in the morning, so as not to be embarrassed by all the dog hair and other dirt that has accumulated during the week in the hall and for more than one week in the cellar. I don’t clean the cellar very often. I hope the activation of the new internet access will go without a hitch.

As Partner is away, I’m cooking tonight. I’m making pak choi with mushrooms and pasta. Haven’t made pak choi before, so I hope it turns out well. It looks quite similar to some sorts of Swiss chard. It’s not often available in my supermarket so when I saw it yesterday, I decided to try it out.

Work today was not very eventful. No meetings and nothing out of the ordinary. I did some work on my documents, but not as much as I had planned. Still, it’s a start and there’s still enough time left until the next deadline. I’ll continue next week with renewed enthusiasm, I guess. The support colleague will be back in the office next week and I hope we’ll manage to fix my notebook. It’s a pain that it keeps trying to install the missing update without success.

It was very loud in my home office today before lunch. Two houses down my street someone was demolishing a brick garage with a power shovel. I initially thought it was the road construction already advanced to our turn-off. It wasn’t too bad with the windows shut, but I like having my windows open in summer. If the coming roadworks will cause this amount of noise, it will be horrid, especially since they won’t be finished in one morning. But we had roadworks when we moved here and I don’t remember them being so bad, so maybe we’ll be spared.

Keep safe, world.

Tuesday Tidbits

Partner made pancakes for our afternoon coffee break. We had them with jelly or maple syrup, and they were delicious. Partner is the best – he’s the one that does most of the baking in our household. And the cooking during the week (and a lot on the weekend, too). I’m amazed that he doesn’t get sick of baking or cooking. I quite like cooking on the weekends and when Partner is away, but I don’t very often bake. If it were left to me, we’d probably only have baked goods a couple of times a month instead of almost every day.

Today has been rather a drag at work. There was a call early in the morning where I had to remind my colleagues about some deadlines coming up next months. The was a bit of a tool problem with our content management systems which is slowly being fixed. There were some other meetings, nothing very interesting. I myself need to get started updating some documents, but have postponed it tomorrow, as I couldn’t face it today. I did get some preliminary tasks done, to set up everything for a good start tomorrow morning. And then I dealt with some other stuff in my email inbox.

In the morning, I took some time for my weekly grocery shopping trip, but only managed to get to the drugstore, not to the supermarket. The drug store has some interesting food stuff in addition to the usual drugstore goods and I go there about once a month to pick up things that the supermarket doesn’t stock. It’s in the next small town over from mine and this morning there was something going on on the road. A fire truck and some other municipal vehicles parked on the road; I couldn’t see what was up. I could to the drugstore by the usual way but had to take a detour back. The detour took me in the opposite direction from my usual supermarket and I didn’t feel like going to a different one. I wouldn’t have found my usual groceries quickly in a different supermarket and, owning to Corona, I didn’t feel like taking longer than need be. So, I postponed the supermarket trip until tomorrow. We still have enough produce to last until tomorrow.

Curious Dog was again stubborn and wouldn’t go for his morning walk with Partner while I was in the house. When I left on my shopping trip, he graciously consented to go for his walk. Pretty annoying for Partner, and also stupid, because they should really go straight after breakfast, before it gets too hot. It wasn’t a big problem today, because it is still cool and pleasant outside, but it will be a problem when it gets hotter. Maybe I will have to take a quick trip round the block each morning (on foot, of course) for Partner to be able to take CD on his walk. But that sounds totally nutty. Maybe CD will just have to do without his walk if he is going to be a nitwit about it. Partner is currently planning to spend the weekend at his place in North Rhine-Westphalia and then CD will get his walks with me in the morning (I take the late afternoon walk anyway).

The weather is still quite to my taste. Not above 25°C, cloudy and sunny. The next three days are supposed to be somewhat rainy, so no heatwave in sight. When I remember 2018, when we had 30+°C from May to September, I am really pleased with this summer. Apart from Corona, of course. I recently saw a graphic in an internet article showing that the ground water level under much of Germany is still much lower than it was before 2018. I am glad for this relatively mild summer. Also thankful for every drop of rain – it was too dry already in May in the eastern parts of Germany so I’m doubtful that the missing water will be filled up this year, unless there’s a wet autumn and winter. Grain is already being harvested hereabouts and as far as I can see, it looks OK. But I haven’t really got a clue. But anyway, the occasional rain doesn’t seem to have harmed it.

Keep safe, world.

2020_07_07

Monday Miscellanea

The weekend has passed too fast as usual. Such a pity that it is already over and that my alarm clock this morning threw me out of bed to another work week. But still, so glad and grateful that my job seems stable in these uncertain times.

I had some problems with my internet provider last week and on the weekend. First, they contact me to ask if I would like to upgrade my internet plan. With an eye on home office continuing until the end of the year and thereafter hopefully much more frequently than before the Corona crisis, I let myself be persuaded. So far so good. During this first call, I asked them at least five times to confirm that they would send the new router that I need for the upgraded plan (my old one is too old for it) to my current address and not my old one. The one I moved away from two years ago. So, of course they said no problem, blah blah blah. Then I get a notification that the parcel is on its way to the old address! So, I call again, and I get this helpful person on the customer service hotline who tells me, no problem, the parcel’s not been sent yet (weird when I already had the notification that it had been sent), it will be sent to the correct address and it will arrive on Friday or Saturday. So, what didn’t arrive? My new router. So, I call the hotline again on Sunday. Now they are going to send the router again to my current address. I moved the appointment with the technician to Friday (instead of today). There’s no point in having a technician activate my new internet if the old router can’t deal with it and the new one is lost on the way. At least they agreed not to charge the shipping costs. Not that the costs are a big deal, but it’s the principle. First, they botch things up twice after I expressly told them that they still kept my old address in their database for some inconceivable reason and then they think it is a kind gesture to waive the postage? Very odd. I was kind and polite on the phone each time, because you always talk to a new person and can’t rant at them for something that’s not their fault (and anyway, I don’t rant at people). They probably have lots of people complaining all day. Not a job I would be happy with. But it was still annoying. Amazing incompetence. I was almost persuaded to cancel the upgrade.

Curious Dog has been strange too. He doesn’t want to go for his walks in the morning and at lunch with my partner. All weekend he preferred not to go at all. And today he also refused to go out after breakfast. He wants to go with me. He’s too fixated on me and thinks if I’m home, I should go with him. Once on Sunday Partner and I went in the morning with him together, but otherwise, he’s got to go with Partner, it’s our division of labour. Partner is quite miffed about being the second-choice person. No wonder, I would be too. Curious Dog otherwise has no problem with Partner, plays with him, begs treats off him, sleeps under his desk. It’s very odd. Hope he gets over it. But in two weeks, when we are back in Bavaria, it’ll be only me and he’ll get to walk with me all day and then the next week when we’re back here, the rigmarole will start again. He never used to do this, but then up until the Corona lockdown, I’m was out all day and not available for walks except in the evening. This is a weird secondary Corona effect.

On our Sunday morning walk, we saw 15+ (!) storks in a meadow by the river that had recently been mowed. At least 15 storks at once, wow. I took a photo, but I’m afraid that you can only see the storks as little white spots against the green meadow. They were too far away for my smartphone camera.

2020_07_06

Tomorrow, the main road in my town is being blocked for construction which will probably take until far into the autumn to be done. The traffic is being rerouted through our neighborhood. Our road will be turned into a dead end (at least the traffic will not be routed through it). We’ll have the construction noise from one direction and the traffic noise from the other side. And it might become difficult to cross the road when we take CD on his walk, with all the traffic. I will be glad when the construction is done.
My work notebook continues to try to install the same update and still keeps failing. The support colleague is unavailable this week, so it’ll drag on at least until next week and who knows when the problem will be fixed. In the meantime, the installation of the update starts at least once each day. A bit of a nuisance.

I spent a lot of time reading Martin Chuzzlewit on the weekend. I’ve managed about half of it (rather hoped I’d get through the entire thing, but that didn’t work out). It won’t be one of my favourite Dickens novels, as at least 80% of the characters in the novel are unlikable and the rest, apart for one supporting character, are nice but somewhat stupid. The kind of stupidity that can’t see that they are being patronized and taken advantage of although anyone else (never mind the reader) can see that quite clearly. One of the protagonists travels to America to make his fortune. Dickens seems to have been quite critical of America at the point when he wrote this novel. Some of his criticism could have been coined with Donald Trump in mind. That’s both kind of funny and kind of horrific, seeing that the novel was written more than 150 years ago.

Other than reading, I did a bit of house-cleaning. Mainly the bathroom. Partner vacuumed up the dirt and dog hairs strewn throughout the living areas and I guess I’ll do a more thorough clean up this week or weekend. We were too lazy to do more. I did some meditation, but managed only 30 minutes per day instead of the 45 I would like to do.

We cooked mushroom-wine risotto on Friday, had a home-made pizza on Saturday, and potato salad with tempeh on Sunday. All very nice. Partner also made his absolutely delicious vegan tiramisu (made with silken tofu and coconut milk) which we enjoyed on Sunday and today.

The weather was (and is) kind of nice, not too hot, though it did go up to 28°C on Sunday. Very windy and a few drops of rain in the night. Today it’s still rather windy and quite cool. Very nice for dog walks, so very annoying that CD didn’t want to go with Partner for his morning walk. On our afternoon walk, we met a friend of his (a Rhodesian Ridgeback bitch) and they played together very nicely. It was cool enough to go walking at 5 p.m., we didn’t have to wait until after dinner.

Keep safe, world.

Beloved

By Toni Morrison. I read this novel already in May (it was a reread, actually) and loved it. It’s one of my favourite novels of all time. Why? Because of the humanity of it. The resiliency of the human spirit in the face of unspeakable horror and tragedy. The healing power of love and understanding. It is a great novel showing the awful effects that slavery has on humans, both on the slaves, whose lives are warped and destroyed, and on the masters, who become monstrous.

If you haven’t read it, it is really worthwhile. It will open your eyes, especially to the pernicious idea that some apologetics of slavery propound even today that “it wasn’t all bad”. It was all bad. The repercussions are still felt today, as you can see every day on the news. The novel also shows that slavery can be overcome, through love, understanding, real community. That’s why I love it so much. Despite all the horror it depicts, it also allows for hope.

2020_07_03a

There are spoilers under the cut.

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