Good news, everyone! Here’s a new chapter of Return of the King for you – and it’s an exciting one! Stuff happens! Many thanks to everyone who emailed me some gentle reminders :) Those emails really help motivate me when I’m not feeling great.
“Great was the clash of their meeting.”
Here’s a bunch of random stuff that I want to share:
Zenmate — a free browser extension which can mask your location and encrypt your traffic. Say, for instance, you lived in the US but you were addicted to UK tv shows. You could, in theory, install Zenmate, tell it you’re in London, and watch the BBC’s iPlayer until your eyeballs bled. If you got tired of non-commercial British TV, you could also watch the ITV player and 4 on Demand and enjoy the not-quite-American commercials and freaky reality shows. And Downton Abbey, which has definitely jumped the shark but has such lovely costumes…
Star Trek sound effects: http://www.trekcore.com/audio/. A dizzying assortment just waiting to be made into ringtones and alarm sounds.
Fans of The Great British Bake Off — do you know about Stuck-In-A-Book’s hilarious snarky-but-affectionate episode recaps? Here’s a link to his recap for the finale of Series 5. http://stuck-in-a-book.blogspot.co.uk/2014/10/great-british-bake-off-series-five-final.html Dig around and read all the others. They’re priceless. I got to the point where I look forward to reading his recaps almost as much as watching the show.
(And congratulations to our Nancy! Well done, you!)
If, like me, you get your TV shows from various sources (including but not limited to Netflix and HBOGO), you might sometimes find it hard to remember which episodes you’ve seen, which shows are about to start, what airs on Thursday, etc. It’s a lot more complicated than back when we had three networks and all shows started in the exact same week of Fall. Have I got an online tool for you!!!
TV Calendar: http://www.pogdesign.co.uk/cat/
Make an account. Click “Settings” and adjust the timezone (important). Click the “Shows A-Z” button. Add your favorite shows, or shows that you haven’t seen yet but want to be reminded about. Scroll to the bottom for shows that aren’t currently airing (very handy for if you’re doing a re-watch of some old show and want to keep track of where you are). Now the front page will show your personal TV Calendar! Tick the box after you watch an episode and it’ll go dim. Green is the first ep of a new season, red is the last.
Never again will we forget which Only Connects and Colbert Reports we’ve seen! And we’ve been doing a re-watch of Boardwalk Empire from the beginning (well, re-watch for me, first time for Henry), so I’m ticking off the episodes as we go. Every show’s page has a complete list of episodes and, as you tick them off, it will even tell you how many hours of your life you’ve wasted watching that particular show. Sigh.
(Only Connect wasn’t in the list when I made my account, but I requested it via the twitter account and the guy added it! :)
I’ve been reading a German translation of Marian Keyes’s “Last Chance Saloon” (in German it’s “Pusteblume” (Dandelion) for some reason) on my Paperwhite Kindle. I installed a German-English dictionary a long time ago, but I just realized that if I press an unknown word my Kindle will look it up for me! Astonishingly helpful. After I’ve looked up a word, I highlight it — so I can glance back through later and see if I remember the new words. Some words are too slangy for the dictionary, so if I’m really mystified I highlight the whole sentence and hit “translate” — and google (I assume) figures it out for me — if not WELL, at least to the point where I know what on earth is going on. Remarkable.
I just realized that I’ve never posted my excellent pasta salad recipe. Here ya go:
ingredients from Trader Joe’s:
about 1 1/2 lbs pasta
1 can black olives (I cut them in half)
1 jar marinated artichoke hearts
1 bag sun-dried tomatoes
1 chopped fresh tomato (or two if they’re small, or a bunch of cherry tomatoes)
1/2 bag frozen peas
1/2 bag “melange a trois” frozen red, yellow, and green pepper strips, or a chopped fresh pepper
1 bottle Tuscan Italian Dressing
Rinse the frozen veggies in warm water to melt off any ice. Cook the pasta, drain, rinse, combine with everything in an enormous bowl. It probably tastes best if you let it sit in the fridge for a couple hours before you eat it but I can never wait that long.
You could probably add some fresh herbs if you have any, or pine nuts, or green olives, or anything that sounds good. Cold cooked greenbeans or asparagus might be nice. This was the first time I put in the artichoke hearts and peas. Those little marinated fresh mozzarella balls would probably be amazing.
Chapter five, yay!
I finally recorded Chapter 4 today, and also noticed that I never posted Chapter 3. So you get two at once!
Also, today is Bilbo and Frodo’s birthday.
And thank you to everyone who sent me kind messages while I was feeling down. I’m doing a bit better now.
Henry and I have transcribed my little Ernie and Bert song! (See previous post)
It was a lot of work, but we did it. I re-wrote the lyrics to be all from Bert’s point of view ’cause I’ll be playing it on my ukulele and singing it solo and I am much more of a Bert than an Ernie. Paperclips! Lentil soup! Yeah!
Click to download in .rtf format: But I Like You, chords and lyrics
Kudos to Henry for figuring out the Bb to Bbm business and the nifty Bb-Db-F-D7 sequence near the end.
You can play a Dm7 on “go and see the big hippopotamus” if you want — it sounds a bit better but it’s hard for me to reach on the uke.
Babysitting my little niece and watching a lot of classic Sesame Street. Today we watched an episode from 1983 (I was 14 in 1983, so it was after I stopped watching) and I saw an Ernie and Bert song that I’d never heard before! It’s so sweet.
“But I Like You”
If I can figure out the chords I’ll try to learn this on the uke.
I just read a book by Marian Keyes called “The Mystery of Mercy Close”. Funny, entertaining, good characters, satisfying ending. When I started reading, I didn’t know that the protagonist, Helen, suffered from depression and anxiety but I figured it out pretty fast. The author reveals it very slowly and I think the average reader might not pick up the clues quite so quickly, but to me it was obvious right away.
Helen’s thoughts felt eerily familiar.
At one point, late in the book after her condition has been revealed, she tells the reader about her therapist, Antonia, and it felt exactly, exactly, like the way I feel about my therapist, Jeff. Change the pronouns from “she” to “he” and it’s spot-on:
“She’d been nothing like I’d expected. She didn’t make me lie on a couch and ask me about my childhood, or my dreams. She didn’t bounce every question I asked her back at me by asking what I thought about it.
She was the one thing she wasn’t meant to be: she was my friend…. She was the one person I could be brutally honest with and she never judged me.
She’d say, “How are you, Helen?” and I’d answer, “I’ve been thinking of taking the bread knife and cutting out my stomach. If I could just cut out my guts, these feelings might go away.”
And she wouldn’t burst into tears. Or tell me I had to be strong. Or say that she’d be devastated if I died. Or ring one of my sisters and tell them I was a selfish, self-indulgent whinger.
I didn’t have to protect her from how horrific I felt. She’d seen it all before and she was unshakable….
She didn’t fix me. She didn’t provide reasons for why I wanted to die. But she pulled off the near-impossible job of offering me both detachment and compassion.
The detachment part — well, I was nothing to her, nobody. Twice a week I had an hour when I could slow down the terrible thoughts in my washing machine head and let my mouth say them and let my ears hear them and not have to worry about how it impacted on her.
But at the same time, I knew she cared about me … even though I was paying her … she was my true friend. She walked steadfastly alongside me through the rocky, smoke-black nightmare. She couldn’t keep me from tripping and stumbling, she couldn’t give me anything to stop the pain, but she encouraged me to keep going.
Not to put too fine a point on it, she’d kept me alive.”
I have actually said these words to people: “He kept me alive.”
Right now I’m in a better patch, which is good, although even better patches are scary because I never know when I’ll fall off the edge into a Bad Patch, but at least I know Jeff will be there if I do.
If you have depression (maybe you got here by googling “depression”), please find yourself an Antonia or a Jeff. Do whatever it takes. If your first therapist isn’t a good fit, keep looking until you find someone who feels right. And remember that no matter how bad you feel right now, you’ll feel better some day. You really will.
Series 5 of The Great British Bake Off starts in just one week, on Wednesday August 6th, and I am BEYOND excited!
It’s the most civilized, sweetest, most charming, most delightful competition show ever created. Everyone is so nice to everyone else and I never want anyone to leave but of course _someone_ has to go home every week. Sigh. That’s the worst part.
Oh, Paul and Mary and Mel and Sue and all the bakers, I’ll be seeing you soon. On your marks, get set, BAKE!
If, like me, you don’t live in the UK you’ll have to figure out some clever way to watch. It can be done if you’re resourceful…
(Hey BBC, pleasepleaseplease allow me to pay a subscription so I can watch your lovely intelligent programming more easily!)
A friend texted me today and asked if I wanted to go to the beach with him. Heck yes! (Even though the beach is really not my thing… all that sun and sand and heat and stuff. It’s not a very Kara-friendly environment. But it just sounded like fun.)
We took a little tent with us (his idea) which was an absolutely brilliant plan and one which made the whole beach thing so much more pleasant.
We played in the water for a while and it was just lovely. I haven’t been to the beach in years. In my memory the ocean here is almost always freezing, even in summer, but today the water was quite comfortable. Not exactly warm, mind you, but not freezing, and we got used to it quickly and then it didn’t feel cold anymore, just refreshing.
I got tired fairly quickly (the beach is no place for an oxygen concentrator) and all-of-a-sudden, the way I do, and retired to our shady little tent. It was so nice having a place to keep my backpack and book and glasses quite safely while I was in the water, and then absolutely wonderful to have a shelter where I could lie down and rest and read out of the wind and sun.
I put on tons and tons of sunscreen (twice) and managed to escape with only minor burning. It hurts, and I’m covered in aloe vera gel tonight, but it could have been so much worse.
I saw Richard Linklater’s new movie, “Boyhood” today. Wow. It’s a quiet, tender little movie that follows the life of a boy, Mason, from childhood to college. It was filmed in bits and pieces over twelve real-life years (with the same cast the whole time) so Mason grows and changes on film, as does his family. It’s a brilliant filmmaking technique and so beautifully done.
There are just a few clunky moments (Mason’s mom’s meltdown as he leaves for college, for one), but there are far, far more moments of utter perfection. A few that spring to mind are: showing off treasured possessions to back-in-town dad; the midnight Harry Potter book release (Henry and I attended the midnight release party for the final book so that really resonated); the hilarious “use protection” scene (Mason’s sister’s embarrassment is truly palpable); the father-son camping trip; the “woken up by sister’s roommate” scene.
On the whole it’s a real treasure. Go see it.
Had a lovely visit with my sister and her family, and now I am home. Traveling is _so exhausting_. But it was worth it to spend time with my dear little niece. She’s 13 months old and quite a character.
Since she is so interested in everyone’s iPhone (she loves to tap and swipe) I went looking for baby-friendly iOS software and found a game that’s just perfect for her: The Playmatic. Free, no ads, no banners, no pop-ups — just three sweet, simple little games. Fun things happen when you poke the screen! Little Niece caught on right away and, by the time my visit was over, she seemed to be enjoying the hardest game the most — the hot-air balloon game. The bubble game and the music game were also very popular. :)
I’m re-reading “The Hills at Home”. Such a great book.
I’ve been learning Melanie Safka’s adorable “Brand New Key” on my ukulele. I still suck, pretty much, and my uke technique is poor and I’m not a trained singer and I keep forgetting to breathe, but here’s a tolerable (if low-quality) recording that I think is kind of sweet. Sorry about the traffic and video-game noises in the background.
Fun fact: my voice is considerably lower than Melanie’s so I had to transpose the song down a fifth, into a BRAND NEW KEY, if you will. Musician joke. Groan.
In which we find out what’s up with Aragorn, Legolas, Gimli, Merry, and Eowyn.
Sorry, I mispronounced “Elrohir” a couple of times before I noticed the “r”.
The first chapter of The Return of the King is a long one, so I’ve split it in half. Here’s the first half!
Honestly, I was getting a little bit bored by Frodo’s journey so I’m glad to be back with some of the other characters now.
New video from Ok GO and it’s as good as you’d expect. Youtube won’t allow me to embed it, so just hit the link and go watch, and then watch again and again because there’s a lot to see. It’s a beautiful piece of performance art.
I hope someday we get to see a “making of” video!
Perhaps you have listened to and enjoyed my recording of C.S. Forester’s out-of-print children’s book “Poo-Poo and the Dragons”? Well! A commenter has just let me know that you can now purchase an ebook of “Poo-Poo and the Dragons” with the original illustrations! So if you enjoyed my recording, please support this publisher and buy your own copy of this wonderful classic.
(Yeah, I wish it had been reprinted in paper as well as digitally, but we have to take what we can get, eh?)
My sister and her husband and their almost-one-year-old drove all the way from the Bay Area to San Diego, stayed for two days, then drove back up to LA for the little one’s first birthday party at the in-laws’ house. It’s too tiring for me to make that journey for the party, so I’m extremely grateful to them for making the extra journey to see us SD folks!
We spent one day just hanging out and chatting and trying the make the baby EAT something, lol. She was very distracted by the cat (so soft and fascinating) and all the unfamiliar people. She has just learned to walk, so naturally she walked non-stop around and around and around the living room! And tried to eat the cat’s dry food whenever we stopped watching her for a split second. Yum? Sweet girl! Here she is in the cotton lace dress I knit for her:
The next day we went to the fair. First we looked at the big Beatles exhibit and posed on the life-size Abbey Road crosswalk:
Then we ate (Roxy!) and looked at the woodworking and the animals and the slicer-dicers and watched the Swifty Swine pig races. It was a long and tiring day, but very very fun!