I Got My Flu Shot on Saturday

And my arm’s still a little sore. I didn’t have any side effects, though, so there’s that.

I only have had side effects to a flu shot a couple of times. However, COVID boosters usually leave me flat on my hind end, so I figured that scheduling my flu shot for a day when I had the next day off would be a good thing.

And since I didn’t have a reaction, I got to run errands on Sunday. I took an extra copy of Broken (In the Best Possible Way), by Jenny Lawson (Germane Amazon Link!), to a friend.* Then I went to the HEB Central Market and got a loaf of olive bread. Then I went to Michaels and ordered a shadow box made for my fan and invitation from Phoenix’s wedding so that I could display them.

So that got one book out of my house and provided containment for two mementos. I will have this house looking like a home goods catalog yet. Or maybe not.

*How’d I end up with an extra copy? I bought one from Powell’s to participate in the virtual book tour for the book. Phoenix is a fan of Jenny’s writing, so I wanted to get a personalized autographed copy for her for her birthday, but they weren’t taking orders for personalized copies at the time. So I bought a regular autographed copy just in case, but ended up not needing it because they started taking orders again in time for her birthday.

Decluttering Project

I’m finding a *lot* of clutter. Our garbage bags have been full of stuff.

I’m finding a lot of stuff that I think have some kind of sentimental value.

Tonight, I found a lot of beads from when I tried to make a bit of money making jewelry. I made the jewelry, but I never was able to figure out how to sell it. Maybe that should be my next project?

I also found several kids’ books that I remember loving, most notably The Ghost Next Door, by Wylly Folk St. John and Down a Dark Hall, by Lois Duncan (Germane Amazon Links!).

I think that I was reading Down a Dark Hall when I scared myself as a young teenager. It was the first time I was left alone at night and I heard something that sounded like a glass jar rolling across the floor coming up the vent. I was terrified but I went downstairs to see what had made that noise. I never did figure it out, and, anyhow, it must have been a noise from inside the furnace. Right?

I also dug up a new box of what looks like Thomas’s old paperwork and things. I’ll probably go through that one next.

IDEK What’s Going on With the Weather

So we had that nice respite and a bit of rain. With the dip back into the high 90s (35-37 degrees Celsius), my summer Seasonal Affective Disorder abated enough for me to realize that that’s what’s been going on. Yay!

We’re back into the low 100s again (38+ degrees Celsius) and now Texas’s electric grid is all messed up. Yay.

The last two days, we came very close indeed to needing to have rolling blackouts to alleviate the stress on the grid. The website has five statuses for the grid — green means everything is good, yellow is a request to reduce electric use, orange is a firmer request to reduce usage, red is “I really mean it — reduce your usage,” and black is “too late — we’re going to make you reduce your usage by instituting rolling blackouts.”

We went into the yellow both yesterday and today.

Why is this happening? Because Texas insists on having its own grid, so when our wind farms aren’t producing enough electricity, we, well, don’t have enough electricity to go around. We can’t borrow electricity from other states that have more.

They’re predicting more of the same on Saturday and Sunday.

Well, you know what I don’t need electricity for (at least in daytime — unless my power bank batteries are charged up and I can keep my phone charged through the blackout)? Reading! And for today’s Gratuitous Amazon Link, I should have the first (and maybe the only?) Rick Riordan book that I didn’t find to be a page-turner, The Mark of Athena. In The Mark of Athena, Percy’s group finally reaches Rome (and I love Rome!). I think the problem is that Riordan bit off too much here. After two books rotating among three characters, suddenly we have six characters’ points-of-view to balance. It’s still a great book, don’t get me wrong, and it’s kind of necessary to get to the next book in the series, but I think I’m going to post something else as my Gratuitous Amazon Link.

And that something will be The Sunset Route: Freight Trains, Forgiveness, and Freedom on the Rails in the American West, by Carrot Quinn. Quinn grew up in a difficult situation. Her mother was mentally ill and she was then adopted by her grandparents who were, by her account, not a whole lot better. After that, Quinn hit the road. One thing led to another, and she ended up as what used to be called a “hobo” — riding the rails illegally and taking odd jobs.

August 2023 Weather

Apparently my summer SAD is kicking my butt.

We got quite a bit of rain yesterday and then a bit more today, and the temperature is currently under 90° (32.2° Celsius). I don’t have a lot more energy, but I do have a bit more perspective.

It’s weird because I’ve been able to keep my summer SAD down to a minimum in past years by getting lots of outdoor time during the months leading up to the hottest part of the year. This year, however, with a houseful of dogs and everything that happened this spring. And this year, we didn’t really have a run up to the hot weather to help me acclimate. It seemed that we went from the high 80s to the low 100s without much time in between.

On the good side, though, we got quite a bit of rain yesterday. A bit of thunder, too. Usually when it rains at work, the parking lot will be dry by the time I leave. But yesterday there were still puddles out there. Puddles! Actual puddles!

I can’t get over it.

Today’s Gratuitous Amazon Link is The Son of Neptune, the second book in Rick Riordan’s Heroes of Olympus series. Remember how Percy was missing in The Lost Hero? Well, we’ve found him. As the book opens, Percy, who has amnesia, is in Northern California making his way to a camp for the descendants of gods. Will he make it? Of course. Will he make new friends? Certainly. Will he make new enemies? Undoubtedly. Will there be a travelogue portion of the book? You betcha.

I love Rick Riordan’s books.

2023 Reading, So Far

I’m really kind of despairing right now. In 2022, I read 77 books. Now, granted, 35 of those were Ranma 1/2 (Germane Amazon Link!), but still

I’m at 21 books right now. I’m reading my August 2023 book club book, Congratulations, the Best Is Over! by R. Eric Thomas (Another Germane Amazon Link!) right now, so that’ll make it 22. Whoopee!

My September, October, November, and December book club books will bring it to 26. Meanwhile, there are, like, 10 more books in my TBR pile, and my ongoing decluttering-my-book-collection-by-rereading-everything project (that really needs a shorter name!) is taking the time it takes.

Will I meet the 42 non-Ranma books that I read in 2022 with less than half of the year left? I can’t wait to find out.

Mediterranean Diet, Part II

Note: This is not medical advice. I’m talking here about my own personal and family medical history and research I have done into it. Even if your own personal and family history is identical to mine, it cannot work out exactly like mine has.

As I have done more research into the Mediterranean diet, I have found more and more potential benefit for my own health beyond heart health. For example, I have mild arthritis in my hands.

And guess what? The Mediterranean diet seems to lower all of these nifty inflammatory markers in studies. So maybe this will help keep inflammation in my hands down.

And since it lowers inflammatory markers, guess what other health issue I have that involves inflammation? Asthma. And things I’ve been reading say that diets high in anti-inflammatory foods, like the Mediterranean diet, seem to lower asthma symptoms.

Now, admittedly, I’m not perfect at my adherence to the diet. I have a sweet tooth, for example, and so I do finish my day with a few single-serving pieces of dark chocolate candy, like Reese’s Thins.

But my breakfast is cheese and fruit, my lunch is . . . more cheese and fruit (usually with cashews, as well). My dinner is increasingly becoming cheese, vegetables, and lean meat. So I’m not doing too badly.

I researched having my Amazon Link be germane in the form of trying to sell you a bag of Reese’s Thins, but apparently you have to be a member of Amazon Prime to get them. So here’s a Gratuitous Amazon Link: The Lost Hero, the first book in the Heroes of Olympus series by Rick Riordan. Two heroes are kind of the titular “lost hero” here. I suspect that Riordan probably meant Percy Jackson, who has disappeared, but this book follows Jason, who has no memory of anything prior to a school field trip to the Grand Canyon. So, even though we know where he is, Jason is also, in his own way, a lost hero.

My Adventures with the Mediterranean Diet

So far, my heart is in good shape, near as we can tell.

However, my maternal grandmother died of heart disease at 58 (I am currently 56). Her sister died of heart disease at 59. They both also smoked, as has every maternal relative I’ve ever had that has had heart disease. So maybe that particular problem will miss me.

However, I also had cardiotoxic chemotherapy in 2001/2002. So maybe it won’t miss me. It’s been 20 years, which, I guess so far, so good.

At any rate, when I approached 50, I decided to start researching heart-healthy diets and, based on my own taste in food, there was one clear winner — the Mediterranean diet. I mean, lean protein, fresh produce, and cheese? What’s not to love?

One thing has led to another and *finally* I’m committing to this. I’ve subscribed to Emeals and generally I pick one meal a week to cook from scratch (usually there are enough leftovers to make one or two more dinners from it). My meal earlier this week was just a Greek salad with romaine lettuce. Delicious, but not much cooking.

Tonight, I took my second stab at that TikTok tomato and feta pasta. I just sort of half-assed it this time and it came out with too many tomatoes and not nearly enough pasta. If I ever take a third try, I’ll use a smaller baking dish for the sauce and make about twice as much pasta. I love pasta, but I don’t like that much in the way of sauce.

I work the late-ish shift tomorrow, so I don’t know if I’ll have the energy to cook. Maybe I’ll just make another salad.

For today’s Gratuitous Amazon Link, we’ll go back to one of my favorite writers, Ally Carter, with the first book in her Embassy Row series, All Fall Down. Grace Blakely has been through a lot. Her mother died in what everyone tells her was an accidental fire. She was there that night, however, and she knows her mother was murdered. After getting out of a mental health facility, she has been sent to live with her maternal grandfather on Embassy Row of the small Mediterranean nation of Adria.

I don’t think I’ve ever read the third book in this series. I’d better get on that.

Science Time. Sort of.

Since deciding that science and medicine would make good content for this blog until I can get my act together to start visiting parks and things again, I’ve been paralyzed with indecision.

I mean, science and medicine are such broad topics, you know?

Okay. The RSV vaccine.

Respiratory syncytial virus (“RSV”) is a pretty common virus that causes coldlike or flulike symptoms — runny nose, decreased appetite, sneezing, fever, and so on. The only thing is that RSV can be really dangerous in infants and in older adults.

They’ve finally developed a vaccine for RSV, which the CDC recommends for adults over 60. The only thing is that it is also only approved for people over 60. With my asthma, you’d think that the vaccine would be recommended for me, but no dice.

My pharmacist actually asked if I was going to get it. I’m still only 56, so I have four years to go. Well, maybe they’ll recommend it for adults with asthma before then. You never know.

Today’s Gratuitous Amazon Link is The Seeing Stone, book 1 of the Arthur Trilogy, by Kevin Crossley-Holland. Arthur is a young teen boy living in the borderlands by Wales in the 12th Century. A family friend named Merlin gives young Arthur a “seeing stone.” When Arthur looks into the stone, he sees the story of King Arthur unfolding before his eyes. When Thomas and I were in the UK, we stopped at a bookstore on our way to the airport. I bought the first four Harry Potter books and this one. All things considered, this one has aged much better.

Science Time! Probably . . .

I need a subject for today’s blog post, and since top of my mind is how it’s too hot to go anywhere new to write about, let’s talk about a study that I swear I read years ago.

Now, I have very detailed dreams, so I don’t know if I actually read this article or not. I remember talking to my mom about it, but that might have been a dream, too.

Basically, they planted 100 trees in a 100-square-foot (100 square meters?) space and measured the effect on the temperature in the area, and the temperature was actually cooler above the trees.

The conversation I remember having with my mom was that she remembered how nice and cool the street she used to live on was. It was lined with trees and never got hot, even in the hottest part of the summer.

Since this was Chicago, it only got above 90 (32.2 Celsius) occasionally. I don’t know how much of a dent it’d make in our 100+ (37.78 Celsius) heat this summer, but it certainly couldn’t hurt.

I have found information on a Japanese botanist named Akira Miyawaki who wanted to restore native forests to Japan and, thus, to the rest of the world. I’ll have to dig through his writing and see if maybe his work is what I’m remembering.

Gratuitous Amazon Link time! Today we have Caddie Woodlawn, by Carol Ryrie Brink. Brink was the granddaughter of the real Caddie, whose last name was actually Woodhouse. Caddie Woodlawn is the story of Caddie, a tomboy, and her adventures in what was at the time the Northwest of the United States and nowadays is the state of Wisconsin.


Until July 28, 2o23, the last time I was inside a movie theater was 2019. But everything I had heard about Barbie made me just know that I had to see it.

So I dug my hot pink clam-diggers out of the back of my closet, bought a Barbie t-shirt from Amazon (Germane Amazon Link!), ordered two new pairs of black sandals, grabbed my kid and went to the movies!

Now, by now you’ve heard everything about the movie. Or seen the movie. Whichever.

I knew that I was in for a good time. Well, I hoped. All of the negative reviews made it sound amazing. “The feminist agenda will kill us all”? Sign me right up for that.

I mean, really. The movie is science fiction. Barbieland is a parallel world to the “real world.” A portal has opened between the two because “Stereotypical Barbie” (Margot Robbie)’s owner is having an existential crisis. Barbie has to go into the “real world” to resolve the crisis and seal the portal. That’s science fiction.

Barbie (all of them) are strong female characters. I love me some strong female characters, whether that’s Nancy Drew, Anne Shirley, Mary Lennox, Wonder Woman, or whoever.

One of my pharmacists said that he didn’t think I’d be interested in “that sort of thing” when I told him how much I loved Barbie. Science fiction? Strong female characters? A pink acid trip that feels like being slapped by a lot of confusingly attractive people? What’s not to love?