sprite writes
broodings from the burrow

February 16, 2019

mid-february long weekend to-do list
posted by soe 1:41 am

I’m not sure why I’m excited by a long weekend, since right now every day is a weekend for me, but still I am. Over the next three days I’m hoping to:

  • Go see Jasper Fforde, who is promoting his new book locally on Monday. One of my gifts yesterday was a gift card to that bookstore, so I will be getting a book signed, too.
  • Catch up with some former coworkers for drinks on Sunday when they come to town.
  • Hit the farmers market. I’ve had several salads this week, so I need some more greens.
  • Put our new mattress pad on the bed.
  • Write about books here.
  • Bake a cake. My birthday baking got bumped by more social activities, so I decided to postpone it until either Sunday or Monday, when Rudi will be back to help me eat it.
  • Phone my brother on Sunday to celebrate his birthday and a friend whose call I missed yesterday.
  • Head up to one of the city’s indie bookstores that is celebrating its grand re-opening tomorrow after changing hands.
  • Clean out the fridge.
  • Dig out the bread maker. I’ve been buying bread, but I have the means, time, and ingredients to make it myself, so I really should.
  • Complete a couple books. Akata Witch will likely get wrapped up, as may The Woman Who Smashed Codes.
  • Finish knitting the sixth strip on my shawl and figure out if I’m doing a seventh one or not.
  • Watch some dvds. I picked up Top Hat, The Thomas Crown Affair, and The Awful Truth at the library this afternoon.

How about you? What’s on your to-do (or to-not-do) list this weekend?

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February 15, 2019

45, dmv, and y
posted by soe 2:45 am

Donut Mess Around with My Birthday

Three beautiful things from my past week:

1. Today was a lovely birthday. Thank you to everyone who weighed in on how I should spend it and who wished me well! I spent the afternoon at the Library of Congress, walked several miles outside in pleasant weather, and ate a lot of delicious food. I heard from lots of loved ones and received some pretty spectacular gifts, including books and jewelry and clothing and music and food!

Birthday Cones

2. I needed a new driver’s license and the updated homeland security rules meant I had to go into the DMV in person to get one this time. I was in and out in less than an hour and had a pleasant chat with the woman helping me. I know lots of people have a tough time with their DMV, but I always find them expedient and courteous.

Birthday Cookies, Made with Love

3. We headed to the movies on Tuesday and caught The Lego Movie 2, which was sweet.

How about you? What’s been beautiful in your world lately?

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February 14, 2019

pre-birthday unraveling
posted by soe 1:57 am

Pre-Birthday Unraveling

Technically, it’s already my birthday, but no one else is up to know, so I’ve marked it with a midnight snack, some Netflix (the new She-Ra and the first Galentine’s Day episode from Parks & Recreation), and some knitting while listening to my audiobook of the moment, The Woman Who Smashed Codes, about Elizabeth Smith Friedman, who was the chief codebreaker in America in the U.S. leading up to and during World War II and who was then forgotten for more than half a century while her husband’s success (also as a renowned codebreaker) was lauded.

The shawl continues. It is optimistic, but not overly so, to think it could be done by next week, but six years of languishing on the needles certainly would not inspire anyone to place money on its completion. Certainly these three books will likely be done by then. Akata Witch is set in Nigeria and its young albino protagonist has recently discovered that she has magical powers. Insomnia is a series of musings about being awake overnight and touching on how while the condition is equated with a lack of sleep, it can also be full of creativity and thought and should perhaps be more celebrated than it is (but, also, she’s really tired). And Gmorning, Gnight! is a selection of Lin-Manuel Miranda’s pithy Twitter salutations illustrated by Johnny Sun. Much like short stories, I don’t have a lot of patience for either of these slender books when read at length, but enjoy them greatly when read for 10 pages or so at a time.

I have a bunch of other books I’d like to get to soon, including Angie Thomas’ sophomore novel, On the Come Up, and am looking forward to procuring Jasper Fforde’s new novel, Early Riser, at his booksigning on Monday. But in the meantime, these three books and my audiobook will do just fine.

Head over to As Kat Knits to see what other people are reading and crafting.

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February 13, 2019

seeking suggestions
posted by soe 1:53 am

My birthday is Thursday and I’m somewhat at a loss for how to mark the day. Rudi won’t be home until 5 or so, which means I have most of the daytime hours to amuse myself before he comes home to join me for pizza and ice cream and cake. Because I’m currently at home all day, simply not being at work is not really as special as it would normally be.

Ideally, I’d find something low-key, but not humdrum, to do with my day…

I could visit a bookstore.

I could wander around town collecting all the freebies I’ve been emailed about from various restaurants.

I could go to a museum — either a free one or one that costs money — or a historic site — Frederick Douglass’ house or the Belmont-Paul Women’s Equality National Monument are both high on my list of local sites I’ve never visited.

I could visit the Library of Congress, where they currently have a baseball exhibit.

I could go to the zoo or the Botanic Garden. (It’s supposed to be in the mid-50’s and dry, so the former isn’t a problem.)

I could spend time outside with a book or my knitting.

I could catch a film that Rudi doesn’t want to see (he wants to see all of them, though, so that’s probably not a great plan…)

I could see if you have any suggestions I haven’t thought of…

How would you spend your birthday?

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February 12, 2019

farewell, my very good boy
posted by soe 1:15 am

This isn’t new news, but it’s painful to contemplate, which means I haven’t wanted to write this post. But it seems unfair not to, so I’ll type through my tears and then maybe it will hurt less. Those of you who follow me on Twitter already saw this news and some of the rest of you had probably guessed based on my recent content.

Nearly three weeks ago, on January 25th, we became, for the first time in nearly 17 years, a family of three. Fifteen months after bidding goodbye to his sister, we had to say farewell to Jeremiah.

My Very Good Boy

The final details are largely irrelevant, except that we’d known he was fading from kidney disease, as have most of our cats, for a few weeks. He’d gotten quieter and had wanted more alone time curled up by the heater, but had continued to eat, if with some coaxing (he decided he didn’t like the special health food, and I eventually decided he could eat whatever he wanted) up to his final day, and never failed to come down to curl up with us to sleep. We were his people and in the end we did the kind thing, supported by our vet.

Jer's First Day Home

As I wrote when Posey died, we first met her and Jeremiah when they were kittens at a no-kill cat rescue in New Haven, Connecticut, one Saturday afternoon in the summer of 2002. We had become a family of three not long before then, and Della was clearly upset at being an only cat. We promised her a kitten, and blithely set out to bring home a companion for her. We were not planning on a pair, but fate had other ideas. On this particular afternoon, the cats in the shelter had all been vaccinated and were mostly dozy or reluctant to interact with more people. But this one small black and white short-haired kitten reached through the bars and grabbed our attention — and our hearts.

He and his fuzzier sister were the only two of their littermates left and the woman working at the time mentioned it was unusual for him to be the more outgoing; usually his sister was more personable. A week later we brought them both home with us. We didn’t even manage to sign the final paperwork before Jeremiah climbed up onto my shoulder and stuffed his nose in my ear to purr loudly and wetly at me that we were making the best decision of all of our lives.

Who can argue with that?

Jeremiah was inquisitive when we brought them home and, much to Della’s annoyance and disgust, he quickly found the plate of special food we’d given her to show her this was a celebration. I don’t think she forgave him for nearly a year for that.

Jer had big ears, long legs and tail, and a black mark under his nose that looked like a toothbrush moustache, particularly when he was small. I wanted to rename him Groucho to offset the more natural comparison to a German dictator, but technically the kittens were Rudi’s, and he was fine with the names the shelter had given them. As Jer grew into all of his characteristics, it turns out to have been a fine decision.

Jer and Me

While he did grow into everything, his tail did remain long. He didn’t need to chase after it in circles in order to tame it and he would would suck on it as a young cat — and then stick it in your ear while you were sleeping to get you to pay attention to him. As he grew older, he mostly abandoned that technique, but did like to wrap his tail around your head or your neck — and used it as a counterbalance for shoulder rides, which he loved.

Rudi & Jeremiah

While he was okay with visitors when he was small, he did not love company after we moved to D.C. We used to tell people who cat sit for us not to worry if they never saw him and our friend John once reported that he’d unintentionally managed to catch Jer partially off guard, causing Jer to sprint for the closet and miss his footing slightly, tumbling down like a Pachinko ball (he was fine). He once curled up under a tiny stool as we were packing to move, causing us to think he’d escaped and he hid on the shelf under the toilet tank the first time we had to have the phone company guy come in. His scarcity made him our most popular cat with friends, who yearned to catch a glance of him, rather than our more outgoing feline companions.

Sibling Portrait

A New Haven cat through and through, he loved pizza and garlicky tomato sauce. He was fine with other spices as well and was happy to clean out bowls that had contained tajines and other Middle Eastern or Asian dishes. He enjoyed ice cream and muffin crumbs and was particularly fond of puff pastry on the rare occasion that he got to sample crumbs of it. He had a rough tongue, but was a thorough licker, so you always knew he would be the final one at a bowl, long after the other cats had grown bored. He especially liked it if you would give him a spoon, so we sometimes left a little yogurt or ice cream on ours as a treat.


He was a smart cat and liked to communicate using mirrors. He fully understood how they worked and would respond to you if you were watching him in one. He was a chatty cat and we could hold long conversations with him where he would give various responses, fully holding up his end of a discussion. He did worry when you covered your face for too long and no matter how much of the rest of you he could see, eventually he had to go make sure you were okay.

Rudi and Jer

When we were a bigger family, his favorite place to sleep was curled up on pillows above my head. I’d reach under the pillows I was using and hold his paw or his tail or both and if I was slow to do so, he’d slap his tail down over my palm to indicate I should grab it or wrap it around my head if my hand wasn’t there. Once we became a smaller family, his favorite spot was between his two people, so much so that we jokingly referred to him as The Chaperone.

Jer and Rudi

He was the household comforter and if you were upset, he knew it and was right there. When he was younger, he wanted to be under your head, but as he got older, not wanting to hurt him, I’d convince him to curl around my head instead, like a hood. He’d stay there for hours, siphoning off your sadness to help you feel better.

Jer was a snuggly cat with his people and nearly always wanted to be on a lap or in your arms. Corey is doing his best, but mine feel very empty these days.

I See You

You aren’t supposed to have favorites amongst your animal companions, but I did anyway. Farewell, Jeremiah. You have always been my very good boy and I miss you so much.

Jeremiah and His Girl

Category: cats. There is/are 4 Comments.

February 11, 2019

winter night sensing
posted by soe 1:42 am

Valentine's Cocoa

I thought I’d share a sense (or five) of what’s going on in the Burrow tonight:

Tasting: Hot chocolate, which I just finished.

Hearing: The relative quiet after turning off my audiobook at the end of the chapter. Corey’s purrs. Rudi’s even breathing from the other room. The hum of the refrigerator. Cars passing by on wet roads.

Seeing: The pink glow of the fairy lights here in the living room. The glistening of the bushes above our window well reflecting the streetlight and the wintry mix. The coffee table, for the first time in a month. Piles of books to read.

Smelling: Not much. Very slightly, my deodorant, and, oddly, since none has been brewed since Thursday night, coffee. I must have stirred up the bag when I pulled out the cocoa canister earlier.

Feeling: The weight and warmth of Corey draped across my wrists. The softness of polar fleece pants. The slight ache in my head from the storm. Tired and ready for bed. Proud that because of that I will save my new-found curiosity about why “canister” has only one “n” rather than two until tomorrow.

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