Saturday, February 16, 2019

The Weather Outside

Weather is one of my favorite pastimes.  Thinking about it, talking about it, incorporating it into every aspect of my life.  It's everywhere.  It's everything. 

One of my favorite weather hobbies is to scroll through the forecasts on my phone.  I have a handful of favorite places that I like to compare my own weather to.  I recently took some screen shots of my phone to illustrate.  Let us go on a journey together, to experience the different weather of various parts of the world. 

First, my home. I left out the name of my town even though I'm pretty sure I've mentioned it in my blog already but just in case you were considering stalking me-- DON'T.  But let's just say I live in the northern half of Utah.  

                              Northern Town, UT's weather looks like this right now:                                                      

It's been cold, like in the 20's and then teens at night. Right now it's 29 and getting warmer. I believe the high today is listed as 41 which is balmy for this time of year and I'll take it. Plus, our 4,500 feet of elevation makes us almost an actual mile closer to the sun and you can feel it and it's awesome. In the winter in sea-level New York, I was always like, "what is.. 'suhn'?"   Not only did it always lie low, always obstructed, but it felt like merely an image projected onto the sky, not a real, living breathing ball of gas emanating anything whatsoever. Speaking of, naturally I have NY's weather on my app. Let's scroll:

Midday right now with some freezing rain. Gross.  Even though deserts miss the rain, I do not.  I am really happy for "moisture" as they say around here-- let's just call it precipitation, everyone-- because last year felt like living in a dried up pit full of ash and broken dreams. But rain in the winter is such a bummer.  I'm surprised New York hasn't gotten more snow, actually. My friends keep me updated saying they've received a little here and there, but nothing like the usual unleashing.  It's still early though. Stay tuned. (You know I will)

If I get to feeling a little bummed out about the winter, I might scroll to Yellowknife, in the Northwest Territories, Canada, a location I picked on the map that looked like a place the universe forgot but where people still live. (pop: 20,000) Check it:


Oh happy day, Thursday soars to zero! This is actually quite mild compared to what it's been the past few weeks. Highs in the -20's + (this is getting confusing). But again-- HIGHS.   I mean what is that even like?? So I feel better after I visit Yellowknife. I'll take my hot sun and above zero temps. 

In an attempt to lean in to winter, I like to visit Hammerfest, a municipality in Finnmark County (now that's a little confusing) on the tippy top of Norway.  I like this one because it's just snowing all the time and I imagine it being just a winter wonderland in all the best ways. I think to myself, if I'm going to go do winter, I might choose Hammerfest. 


Sometimes I think about where some family members are living and lovingly feel a little jealous hate for them in Oceanside, CA, where the temperature fluctuates (-- I actually first spelled that with an 'x'! How embarrassing, ha ha) by 10 degrees max. Ok, more like 30 but still. The highs for the year in the 80's and lows in the 50's?  What a dream.



And of course, I can get a little more embittered and i may spitefully journey to another warm winter spot, like Phoenix, AZ, classically miserable in the summer and suddenly everyone's dream vacay in the winter:

While living in NY I once visited Phoenix friends in March and it was sooo weird.  I felt like I'd jumped through a time portal, missing a very important part of seasonal progression.  Where did spring go?? Did i actually sleep through winter and miss it??  Still, it's weird but also wonderful.  I need more winter trips in my life. I mean, 71? What? Just, what.

Next we do a complete flip of seasons, travel through a real life portal to another dimension and land in Sydney, Australia, which is smack dab in the middle of summer. Which is crazy. "Aaah, February.. it's so hot...mate."  is what I imagine locals saying.    

It's nighttime there right now, of course, and the days are actually quite temperate.  Perhaps it's not reached its peak heat point? Or maybe it's that Sydney's on the coast?  So recently I scoured the country looking for a more outback-y kind of locale for something more extreme to add to my collection. That brought me to Alice Springs, in the Northern Territory of Australia, but more or less in the center:

Now that's more like it.  Hot beating sun, bone dry and full of scorpions and scary outback animals.  I ask myself, well, Jen? Which would you rather have? your weather now? Or death hot Alice Springs where you'd be fighting off killer spiders and begging for a cloud.

Speaking of death, I also have included in my weather repertoire Death Valley which I believe is officially the hottest place in the planet.  Well it might be, but not right now.  Looking real good right now, Death Valley.  Again: road trip, anyone?

Oh, I just did some research (googling) and discovered the title of hottest place actually goes to Al Aziziyah, Libya with a recorded high temp of 136.4 degrees in 1922.  Maybe I should add that spot to my weather collection? I think I might. I've got nothing from Africa.

And then, finally, at the end of my journey, when I feel like I'll probably not actually visit anywhere temperaturally significant, I console myself by saying, what Jen, you want to go to Tahiti? You don't want to go to Tahiti. Look, it just rains all the time. It's in its rainy season. Gross. Better stay where you are.


The End.

Wednesday, February 06, 2019

Wintriest Winter

This winter has been the wintriest I think we've experienced since moving to Utah 4.5 years ago (let's pause a second to let that number sink in). We've had some recent snow-on-snow-on-snow business going on and it's a little bit crazy.  New York winters traumatized me in a way I know no other place will.  I was recently at a gathering with friends and as we exited, one friend in particular and i paused to chat some more in some inclement weather.  Another friend remarked on our devotion to friendship as we stood in the rain to converse. The friend I was engaging is from Oregon aka "land of rains all the time" (I think that's on the license plates)  and said this was her favorite kind of weather and she could just live in it all day.  This other friend then asked me, "Jen, were winters just so magical in New York? Did you just love it?"  And the way she said it, so dreamy and full of whimsy and love and hope compelled me to respond harshly-- "Are you KIDDING ME? Winters in NY are a veritable HELL!" and then went on an emotional tirade, as is custom by anyone who's experienced a NY winter:

"The unavoidable cold itself is soul-destroying. But the snow! Multiple times it snowed over two feet in a single storm. And that's not including the subsequent storms in days after! We were literally marooned and couldn't even leave our apartment! The subways and schedules were utterly demolished, multiplying and compounding everyone's commute. Walking out in it was a nightmare, as the sidewalks were unwalkable, un-strollable, and as it slightly melted, with literal feet-wide dirty slush rivers to hurdle or ford and you had no other option."  Anyway, I'm pretty sure by this point she had already politely sauntered away and gotten into her car but I probably had a few more [paragraphs of] words to say about it.

  Even though this has been the snowiest winter in years--I'll say it one more time--it pales in comparison to a single NY winter. PALES. Alright. So. That said... I am not hating all of this snow(!) This morning we woke up to a real life blizzarding white-out.  Drifts blown high, the wind still gusting with great vigor, streets un-plowed. Some areas of snow 3 feet deep, others not 2 inches.  And as anti-snow as I have been in my life, I actually enjoy snow driving. Though I'll take any kind of excitement, frankly. I grew up maneuvering in snow and I think my experience driving in New York, alone + in NY snow has made me believe I am snow-driving invincible. If I can do that, I can do an-y-thing.  School there was canceled regularly but I knew we would not be so lucky here.

 "Get in the car, Julian, and we'll see what happens!" I gleefully said this morning as we left to brace for the storm to get to school. On the way, treading new paths, we slid a little bit to and a little bit fro. The wind hurling snow darts into our view from every direction. Stupid other drivers not turning on their lights. It was exciting and I thanked the good heavens above for our sturdy large vehicle with high ground clearance {prayer hands}.  As I returned from drop-off I saw another neighbor struggling in vain to shovel out his small car with his son belted inside it.  So, having made the journey successfully and, as usual, feeling like I can CONQUER ANYTHING,  I took his son to school as well.  And then I went to help shovel the neighbor who gave up and pushed the car back into the drive.

So we've received a lot of snow and shockingly, I don't hate it.  It makes winter and having to endure it actually mean something. I can still go out in it if I want and I have things to occupy and it makes the cozying in factor increase exponentially.  Now, it's still early February and, as I read on a meme recently, "January was a rough year, but we made it,"  but right now I'm ok and this is a thing to be celebrated.  In addition to the snow (I can't believe I'm saying that), I'm going to go ahead and list the reasons why it's ok:

1. I bought a sun lamp.  Or, I bought Sean a sun lamp that I stole. I set it down next to me in my favorite chair and I force myself to just sit and read with faux-rays beating down on me for at least 30 min and I swear it works like magic.  I walk away cheerier and more bright-eyed and energized.  What a thing. So it's magic or a freakishly strong placebo effect; I don't care. 

2. My Hunger Games reading has really carried me through. Next I read Ella Enchanted which I thought would be uninteresting fluff and was totally mistaken.  It is the most charming little read I've come across in a long time, which was most welcome as the book I read before HG was What Alice Forgot which i pretty much give half a star to.  Maybe it's that I had to rush to read it in time for the book club but I really get annoyed when I feel forced to read something I'm not enjoying.  What a chore! People liked this book. I did not.  But yay for other books.

3. Yoga. Yoooogaaahhh.  My yoga classes are saving my life right now.  I love yoga so much and getting out a couple times a week to re-center and re-estabish that good ol' mind/body connection has done wonders for my mental health.  It is pure therapy and I think I've noticed some progress in my strength, range of motion, and flexibility! (Say that last part like it's suddenly a commercial for it, like I'm advertising for yoga) Really though, it's thuh best and I am so grateful.

4. The hygge is alive and well.  With book-reading, two cats, several pairs of fuzzy socks and blankets and tea to last a lifetime, we are doing well.  We recently conceded to get a Wii (like, the old school one, and I'm betting that's as far as we'll go) and Sean and Julian and I play that regularly.  It's totally fun and makes us feel like we're exercising, which is what people were saying about it 15 years ago. 

5. As a bonus item, we recently got Julian a punching bag and hung it downstairs. Ha ha ha.  Yup.  Little kid needs some kind of energy release. It is awesome and I'm trying to think of ways to incorporate it more as a way for him to cope with stress.  "Oh, time to punch it out?"  "Better go punch it out."  But he's good at it, punches seriously hard, and I kind of want to rent it out to neighbors or something.

So happy--dare I say HAPPY-- winter to us all!

Also, here are two videos for you.  One is Julian using his punching bag with me singing Eye of the Tiger (as one must) and the other is of a duck skating on a frozen pond.  On frozen duck pond. 

Monday, February 04, 2019

Daily Interactions

One of the things I really enjoy about my life is the kinds of conversations I have with those immediately close to me.  I would find it very challenging if I were living with someone who I felt was kind of a dud, conversationally or otherwise.  Fortunately my housemates are very engaging and intelligent and provide entertaining conversations on the daily.  Here are just a few examples of late:

I was sitting next to Sean observing the names of people on a written program.
JEN: I think I prefer that spelling of Stuart, vs. Stewart.

SEAN: *considers* It doesn't have the word "wart" in it...

JEN: Yes. Or "stew." S-t-u is a just a fun spelling, like any word that ends in "u." 
SEAN: *nods in agreement*


This morning I told Julian his sense of humor was coming along nicely and congratulated him as my young protege.  He was telling me a story Sean told me last night about what Julian said when the cat was digging in the pantry.  She does this a lot and we finally had the smarts to move the kitty treats up on a higher shelf out of sight.  Also in the pantry is my beloved candy, Chimes ginger chews.  I have officially made it to Old Lady.  I looove this candy. It satisfies my need for chewy/gummi candy without any of the ill effects of sugar, with added health benefits and deliciousness of ginger. It's a win win win and, once again, I love them.  I am always offering them to people with a wicked inner chuckle because people are usually flummoxed at first and then, after trying, do not usually respond favorably.  I used to hate ginger candy myself, but I kept trying it until one day I crossed over into Old and here we are.  Anyway, I sort of enjoy watching them try it. It's like offering black licorice, knowing most people will hate it and hoping one or two will consent to trying it (but will probably hate it).  p.s. black licorice is no longer the worst for me. It's not the best but it's not the worst, and that's huge.

Here is a pic of my favorite Chimes, just in case you were curious:

Aaaanyway, apparently Julian looked over and noticed the kitten had gotten into the pantry again and was attempting to wrestle open a bag of something. Julian exclaimed, "Ha! Joke's on her, she got into the Chimes!"   Which, though I probably gave too much backstory, just made me laugh and feel so proud.  I mean, "joke's on her"?   I'm so pleased at what he's learned so far in his life.  The other day we went snow shoeing and he was throwing out words like "clambering" and, well, again, just so proud.


Another funny Julianism just killed me.  It was a busy school morning and we were rushing to get things together. He had to bring some items for a school project but I wasn't sure on the specificities so I said, "oh well, i hope it works. If it doesn't, tell your teacher to be more specific."  Julian declared he would, in fact, tell her and i said, "No, don't! You keep telling her things and make me sound like the bad guy."    (for example, he told his teacher: "My mom's mad we don't do more crafts!" I mean i did say that but I wasn't really mad, obviously)   Julian said:

"I like doing that. I like saying things that make Dad look like the bad guy, too.  Yesterday at Walmart we saw someone holding something that Dad wanted to purchase and I said loudly, 'Just take it out of his hands, like you did with that old lady that one time.'"    Ha ha ha ha ha ha what the hey??  Just dying.  So clever.


Tonight after dinner I burped SUPER loud.  It was abrupt and appalling and funny. I feigned shock and embarrassment and apologized profusely as if it wasn't intentional in the slightest, which put Julian into a state of utter glee. The interaction went like this:

JULIAN: Encore! Encore! Bravo!

JEN: You should say "brava," because I'm a lady.

SEAN, quietly: Are you though?



Tuesday, January 29, 2019

Millions of [pictures of] Cats

There is a childhood favorite book of mine called Millions of Cats.  It's the weirdest, quirkiest book and I love it. The drawings are black and white and it's about an old man and woman who are lonely so the woman sends her husband to go find them a kittycat. He sets off and naturally comes to a field of, and here's the repeated phrase in the book, "cats here, cats there. Cats and kittens everywhere. Hundreds of cats, thousands of cats, millions and billions and trillions of cats!"  And he needs to figure out which one to choose which is of course really difficult. I won't spoil it for you what ends up happening but let's just say it gets weird.

This has been a commonly repeated phrase of late, what with our addition of second kitty.  The baby puff has been growing and getting used to things and I really wanted to document the progression of her relationship with Big Cat, whom we've dubbed Big Fat due to the acquisition of his winter coat and blubber.  Kitten is curled up on my lap as I type so it's extra appropriate doing this now. In fact, here's a picture of this:

look at my gumby arm! Or Stretch Armstrong...

Little Marshmallow has continued to be a cuddly sweetie and has her own quirks. For example: 

1. We keep kitty treats in the pantry. I often give them out once a day, usually later on. The big cat meows and wants them but doesn't seem to know where they come from.  Kitten? Definitely knows.  She spends several minutes of her day lying on her back reeeeeaching as far as she can under the door for those treats.  Big Cat has never thought of this and still doesn't.  I'm starting to think he's kind of dim? But it's funny to see the Tiny who actually got her paws on a bag once and i found her wrestling around with it, paws wrapped around in an aggressively loving embrace. But she doesn't quit and always has a plan.  

2.  I'm annoyed I don't have a picture of this but we have a chair downstairs with a blanket over it. It's called the "cat chair" because we allow the cats to use it to scratch.  It's pretty gross and haggard but we can't get rid of it because it folds out into a bed and it's so nice and wide and low to the ground and it's the perfect sick bed, frankly, for when Julian has the pukes. It's also not uncomfortable.  I can sequester or quarantine him away from other furniture and areas of the house and he can easily roll off it and barf as needed. I don't know why I'm sharing this except to reveal that this is apparently an important quality for me.  Every household needs a good sick bed?  Yes, I think this is true.

I forgot what I was even saying. Ok, so the chair has a blanket over it and her favorite place to nap is UNDER the blanket on the chair. Ha ha! So we have to be extra careful not to sit on it bc there might be a kitty.  So funny to see that little lump though. 

So let's talk about the two cats.  Currently their relationship is thus:
  • They are much more comfortable with each other.
  • They enjoy each other, though mostly for entertainment and chasing purposes. The bigger cat is like a grumpy teenage brother who will concede to play for a few minutes every day and might even enjoy and appreciate it, in spite of himself.  Often i have to break up fights between them and find him clamped down around the little one's neck or her just pinned underneath the enormous girth of him. The moment I spot them and reprimand, they dart away from each other light lightning, only to reconverge seconds later. 
  • She tries to be affectionate with him which he tolerates for a couple seconds, which is consistent with the rest of us.  He mostly likes his own space, though he does like to chill out near us.
  • I still haven't figured out mealtime stuff since she is too distracted to just eat her food. She'll either quit immediately or eat what he's eating. And he'll always eat whatever she hasn't finished increasing his girth even more by the day. That cat is the fattest.  He got out one night over Christmas and came home seriously injured, apparently having gotten mixed up with the wrong crowd.  He had a wound in his shoulder and was out for days. And, he had a limp for at least a week or two.  So the lack of exercise + extra food is making one fat cat. But the limp has made it so Little can get away sometimes.
Here are some pictures that need to be documented for posterity. 

Look- they are twins:

Kitten just loved our tree. She always wore a thick coat of flocking she'd spread throughout the house which made for fun times for us.  But i couldn't say no to her climbing the tree. Even if i wanted to, i couldn't.

 This photo i took early on when they were still super dicey and suspicious of one another.  So it felt significant at the time. They are always battling for top spot in the cat tree.

Cat lap

Cat selfie

More cat lap, looking quite demure:

Cat in arms {sob}: 

She's always curious and tries to start up a chat which he tries to ignore.   I don't see you, I do not see you. 

Julian loves the kitten because why wouldn't he.

 Almost touching!

One time either she was there first or I was, but one of us came up to the other and we shared the chair and she loved it so much that she actually seeks it out now whenever someone's there.  She'll come up to you and look at you as if to say, "share the chair?" It's the best.

More of this please. 

Their tails are touching(!)
  Here we are on the steps Christmas morn with our stockings.  Also there's a cat in the pic so I thought that was appropriate. Also I'm loving Julian's Christmas pants which he's worn since he was like 4 and he only pulls them out Christmas Eve.

And a pic of the Christmas morning tree.  By the way, I was right. Julian was right. It is about the presents. We had such a great Christmas this year.  It didn't feel like too much but we each got some great stuff. And since i've been recording what i got for Christmas since I was a youth, I'll record it here. Julian got a new bike, new legos, a Wii (at long last), books and fun games and toys. I got an old timey typewriter (yay!) and a new OVEN(!!!)  I'm a real mom now. The first time I've ever really felt like one. Because I am so frigging excited about that oven. Sean got kitchen gadgets and a new fancy pot which is so fun because i've finally found a gift that makes him giddy as a kid on Christmas morn. He also got an herb garden that sprouts from pods so uses no soil, and uses a sun lamp which is great because the sun exposure in our house isn't great for growing things.  They've sprouted already and are on their way and it's fresh herbs for us!

Here is Smalls trying to snuggle to no avail.  Big Cat bit on her ear for about a minute before he jumped down and lay on the rug in front of the chair.

Paw-over-face sleeping kills me. 

Can anyone tell me where the vents are located in the kitchen? I'm having the hardest time figuring out where they could possibly be. If i just had a clue of some kind. Anything at all.
look at that chubster.

I love creating perches and hoping upon hope that the cats will like them.   How about this, Kitty? Anything for you, Kitty. Do you like that, Kitty? Here let me raise the blinds.

Aaaanyway.  There, got out all the pics. I feel better now.

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

The Ladies of Hunger Games

Often when I watch a movie, I imagine what it would be like if I were to experience such a thing. What if it was me? What would that actually look like? feel like? be like?  And I might sort out some logistics, fitting it into my current lifestyle. OR, I insert myself into the setting I see, without any prior context other than who I am. And when I begin asking myself what it might be like to go through this experience/ordeal/adventure/nightmare (whatever the genre), my thoughts naturally and inevitably lead me to ask, "What would it have been like to go through this... on my period? Would I have been able to plan for that and toss supplies into my bag before we spontaneously had to leave on this emergency escape trip?  What if my period starts mid-adventure? Can i get supplies? Is there a drugstore nearby??"  

It's also sort of the equivalent of Tina Fey's character in Date Night when she says to her husband played by Steve Carell, something like, "Just remember, everything you're doing, I'm doing--in heels!"  Like non-heel-wearing, it's just a reminder to be grateful for non-menstruation.  It's been 25 years I've had to endure "the curse"  and I can tell you, a person doesn't really "get used to it,"  and there's not a non-period day that goes by where I don't say a special prayer of thanks, and I'm not kidding.  Every woman on this green earth will back me up and immediately sympathize with anyone on their period at any given moment.

But back to movies.  I read the Hunger Games trilogy this month and it was awesome.  It just gets better and better.  When I finished I was left feeling like I'd gone on a journey with people I came to really know and care about, the resolution felt satisfying though with some questions unanswered, which i like, the story itself was complex and intricate, highly detailed and real. Suzanne Collins really nailed the requirements to successfully write a sci-fi story. She created a whole world and a problem that beautifully and also frighteningly balanced the line between plausible and implausible.  Sean and I have begun the movies and I'm still thinking about the books so much that I told him I'd probably just start reading him the books when we're done with the movies (which he enjoys, but can't ask me to do). And the cycle will continue for the rest of my life.

While watching the movies, of course my thoughts inevitably led me to... "OMG, what if Katniss was on her period in the arena??"  And I pause for a moment to picture that nightmare-on-nightmare.   Therefore, to pay tribute (heh) to her and other female characters in films and also women across the globe, I thought I'd provide a little slideshow of )en's thoughts whilst watching Hunger Games, with perhaps a couple bonus movies:


Ugh, as if fighting kids to the death wasn't bad enough. Hunger, thirst, fatigue, fireballs at your face, dirt, burns, being soaking wet. UGH.  She's such a hero.  I mean, I guess she could try to communicate her need for supplies to Haymitch from sponsors? How unbelievably awkward, in front of the whole country. That'd be a hefty price to pay to prioritize period supplies. Water? Or tampons? That's a tough call.

And then that got me thinking:


Even if it was the Careers--still, ugh.  No one deserves that. 

Do you think tampons were in the cornucopia? {thinking face


Or in Foxface's backpack of something she desperately needed? I wouldn't be surprised.

I just read something that said at any given moment, one out of four females are on their period which means 25% of the girl tributes would be menstruating in the arena.  Now, I made this picture before I learned of this statistic so add one more:

Probably more, too, since the games lasted weeks apparently, and some of these girls made it a good long time.

And then of course that got me thinking about the second Games in Catching Fire:


Actually if she doesn't have supplies this probably works in her favor.  But still-- hot, sweaty, humid, fighting, scared, monkeys, hungry. None of it's good. I guess she could have hung out in the blood rain quadrant and no one would be none the wiser.  Ugh.

Anyway, as you can see I think about this quite a lot. Hopefully you will too now, and whenever you're watching a movie you'll say to your friend, "now imagine her doing all of that on her period!"

I tried to think of other movies where it would also be pretty much the worst.  First I came up with Jurassic Park:

"which is worse" was meant to have a question mark after it, but maybe it shouldn't? maybe it shouldn't.

 Also, all of this is reminding me of this video.
I thought about Hermione in Harry Potter, specifically movie 7 where they're constantly on the run, living in the woods for weeks and months. Does the magical tent have supplies? Can Hermione apparate into town real quick to grab some stuff?  But then i was like, DUH-- no, there's probably a spell to eliminate periods altogether, perhaps when it's extra inconvenient: 


p.s. Sean said the title of this sounds like a calendar. Hahaha, dangit.