• In addition to my weekly music lessons and composition assignments, I’ve been reading music theory books and websites, listening to recordings, and watching various music-related YouTube videos. I mentioned some things I’d seen online to my teacher, and he said, “You consume a lot of media, don’t you?” I don’t normally group music and literature in the “media” category, and I don’t (usually) spend much time on social media or the news anymore, so I had considered my overall media consumption to be down. But he’s right. I do still consume a lot of media, and I probably should cut back, at least on the ones that I use my eyes for.
  • Speaking of media, I have an idea for a novel. Since I never finished any of my previous attempts, and because I’m out of practice writing, I’m not feeling much inclined to start on a new one. But the idea is tempting….
  • I only just took down the Christmas tree last week. The tree was up for over two months. That might have been the longest stretch ever, though I’m not sure, because there was at least one other year that the tree stayed up well into February. All I know is that it’s symptomatic of a persistent bad mood. I’m hoping that the spring season will perk me up some.
  • Speaking of spring, the daffodils are starting to come up, and it’s lovely to see green returning to the world.
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  • I started learning how to write music in canon, and it’s sort of amazing. It’s a perpetual music machine. You can cap it off, but the potential is always there to go on and on and on, forever, into musical infinity.
  • Regarding that $3,000 medical bill, I told the hospital, “Bill me a reasonable amount and I’ll pay it.” They replied, “The price is the price.” So I told them to go pound sand. There have been many exorbitant medical bills that have taken me by surprise over the years, including my recent MRI. In America, healthcare always costs more than it should, and health insurance never covers as much as it ought. I’ve paid every bill up to this point, though, as ridiculously inflated as some of them were, because I could rationalize paying a lot of money for procedures that I knew to be expensive. But I cannot justify paying ten times the normal rate for a routine doctor visit. That’s a bait and switch, and I refuse to be taken advantage of that way.
  • Doing the Letter Boxed puzzle at The New York Times, the app told me that “bitchy” is not a word. Ha-ha. We know otherwise!
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Finally, Air Frying!

I had been eying a toaster oven/air fryer since before Christmas. I put it on my Christmas list, hoping my parents might spring for it. Alas, they did not.

So I started thinking about buying it for myself. I was struggling to justify it, though. We didn’t need more appliances, and we certainly didn’t need to spend more money. But then my husband and I were at Macy’s, where the oven was in stock, and I was able to get a discount by selling my soul to the Macy’s credit card gods. I simply could not resist.

We waited to use the oven until we got the credit card bill and saw that the discount had been applied (the discount wasn’t listed on the receipt, because Macy’s does things strangely). Tonight we tried the oven’s air fryer function for the first time. We made chicken fajitas, and they came out really good. My husband has already picked out several other recipes to try. If nothing else, at least the new oven got us cooking some new dishes, and I’m looking forward to them.

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A Pat on the Back

Yesterday I got word from my boss that a solver had specifically mentioned the puzzle that I invented. They said, “I hope there’ll be more of these, as it was thoroughly enjoyable to solve.” Yay!

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My husband has been working on the stairs in preparation for carpeting them. He screwed down the treads so that they barely squeak now, if at all. That’s great. I mean, who wants squeaky stairs? But those squeaks were a head’s-up that someone was moving up or down the stairs. You always knew when someone was approaching. Now they can sneak up on you and surprise the snot out of you. Less squeak, more eek!

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Practically Perfect

Where the Mountain Meets the Moon by Grace Lin, A+

The plot: Young Minli runs away from home to find the Old Man of the Moon so that she can ask him how to change her family’s fortune for the better.

My impression: The narrative is beautifully structured–a series of stories within stories–and utterly charming. The only thing that bothered me a tiny bit while reading was not knowing if the stories were traditional or made up by the author. But, at the end, there is an “Behind the Story” chapter in which the author answered that very question! There may be no such thing as a perfect book, but Where the Mountain Meets the Moon comes as close as to make no difference.

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It’s All in the Decorations

Back when the kids were really young, I was hoping to be able to turn my office into a sort of magical place for them. I ran out of steam (and money) and gave up on the dream. I had never mentioned that to Livia, so I was pleased when she recently said to me, “You know, your office used to seem like a magical place to me when I was younger….” It was the books, she explained. Duh. The books are magical. I knew that. I just hadn’t realized that they could imbue the whole room with magic. Good thing I used so many of them in my decorating scheme! ๐Ÿ˜‰

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  • I’ve had my skin turn red from using Band-Aids before, which I attributed mostly to the trauma of removing them, but yesterday I had a telltale allergic reaction to one. I developed hives underneath the adhesive parts of the bandage. I hope it’s not a latex allergy. That would be troublesome.
  • It snowed yesterday, briefly, and for the first time this season, I let the snow draw me outside. The snowfall was over by the time I got out, sadly, but I took a walk anyway and enjoyed the wintry scenery. Now that my knee is feeling better, I can walk for exercise, and I’ve been walking at least a few times per week.
  • Last night the kids and I finished watching the Percy Jackson series on Disney+. We all enjoyed it and are hoping for a second season. Often we snack on popcorn when watching TV together, but we somehow ran out of popcorn (mon dieu!). So we snacked on SweeTARTS Ropes instead. Those things are so tasty. We are all addicted now. (Blame my hubby. He brought them home and got us hooked on them.)
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Said Is Simplest

Cleaning off my desk, I found a printout with the title “Said is Dead.” It’s a list of words that can be used as speech identifiers in place of “said.” As a writer, I think it’s a handy list. But I also think said is simplest and that going out of your way to avoid it is silly.

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Four Truths

I found a printout on my desk that listed these “Four Truths.”

  1. We can’t finish what we don’t start.
  2. The only way to the end is through.
  3. It’s important to celebrate our accomplishments.
  4. We must forgive ourselves for that which we have simply not done yet.

My thanks to the originator, though I do not know who it is.

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