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broodings from the burrow

May 31, 2020

saturday sky
posted by soe 1:11 am

Dappled Dupont Sky

The sky was lovely early this morning.

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May 30, 2020

phase 1 weekend plans
posted by soe 1:28 am

D.C. began loosening restrictions today, which includes things like opening parks, but not playgrounds; letting restaurants seat people at a distance outside, but not in; and asking people to observe a “stay at home lite” life.

As such, Rudi and I took a drive uptown for takeout pizza and a quick trip to the grocery store this evening, which is pretty much what we’ve done every third Friday since mid-April.

I have to spend some time working this weekend, but here’s what else I’m hoping to do:

  • Read in the park.
  • Take more beer to the garden slugs. They are hard partiers, despite knowing the consequences. Harvest things while I’m there and consider planting beans.
  • Pull together some library materials to take back later this week, since branch libraries are slowly going to allow curbside pickup.
  • Watch the rocket launch.
  • Really put winter away, since I didn’t follow through on that last weekend and since this week highlighted the need for tshirts over sweaters.
  • Make crackers. Apparently that’s one of the things I can do with my sourdough.
  • Bike down to Constitution Garden to see the ducklings.
  • Drink daiquiris.
  • Do laundry. I should probably launder the reusable bags we have that can be washed. Plus I need cleans masks again.
  • Get a takeaway drink from one of the local restaurants that have been shuttered for months.

What are you hoping to do this final weekend of May?

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May 29, 2020

perfume, surprise guac, and fundraiser
posted by soe 1:11 am


Three beautiful things from my past week:

1. The honeysuckle was on point last weekend. I don’t know if, like birdsong, it’s just normal and we’re better able to perceive it because of less pollution or if it is, in fact, a great year for it. Either way, though, and the scent just filled the air.

2. Rudi picked up an avocado at the store while out this afternoon, so we got to have guacamole for a post-work treat.

3. My new tshirt arrived at the of the week. It was a fundraiser for World Central Kitchen, José Andrés’ charity that feeds people in disaster-stricken areas, and features a heart wearing a face mask.

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

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May 28, 2020

reading in the park to resume soon
posted by soe 1:04 am

Irises at the Park

Glory be! D.C.’s parks are likely going to reopen on Friday. I took this shot as I passed by our park recently. I’m sad I wasn’t able to hang out there during iris season, but obviously public safety is more important than my desire to spend time in pretty places.

If I can get my act together to actually shut my computer down at 3 when the “office” “closes” on Friday, I am absolutely going to take a book up to the park and sit up there and read. (Work is super busy with personnel transitions this week and next and lots of deadlines coming up or overdue, so it may be closer to 5, but still…) I will probably take one of our portable chairs with me, because I don’t really want to touch shared surfaces any more than necessary, but I am going to be outside!

Phase 1 of reopening also allows people to get haircuts, but not pedicures. I’m not really sure what the specific difference is there, but I’m not going for either anytime soon.

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May 27, 2020

into the stacks 2020: february, part 2
posted by soe 1:48 am

Summertime is coming, which means it’s a good time to get caught up on sharing the books I read earlier in the year. At the beginning of the month, I told you about two of the novels I read back in February. Here are the other three:

The Paper Magician, by Charlie Holmberg

Ceony has just graduated top in her class at Tagis Praff School for the Magically Inclined, with a plan to work magic in metallurgy, the most illustrious of the human-manipulated types of magic. But she was informed at the last minute that due to a critical shortage of apprentices, she was being assigned to the least glamorous type of magic — paper. And since after you’ve been bonded to your “element,” you won’t be able to perform magic in any other field, Ceony is understandably sulky. She’d dreamt of ornate metalworks and was going to be stuck enchanting legal contracts for the rest of her life.

But her new master, Magician Emery Thane, surprises her. His cottage, seemingly run-down from the street, boasts an abundance of paper flowers in the garden. His butler is an articulated skeleton made of paper. And he introduces her to the power of origami and the written word — both of which can be imbued by their crafter with powerful magic, as well we readers know.

Several months into her apprenticeship, however, an evil practitioner of the dark magics appears at their dining room table, robbing Magician Thane of something remarkably precious and life-giving, and forcing Ceony to channel all the magic she has learned to stay the damage, pursue the villain, and confront the darkness in her master’s past — and whether she can embrace her future with her whole heart — before time runs out.

The book is the first in a series, and I enjoyed it quite a bit. The story bogs down a bit and can be uneven at times as the author attempts to keep up with the twists and layers of story she’s telling, but I think it works in the end. I’ll definitely seek out the second in the series, and recommend it to those who enjoy a little romance mixed into their fantasy, but don’t mind it when their story veers down a dark path for a while.

Pages: 222. Library copy.

We Met in December, by Rosie Curtis

In this cute rom-com of a book, unrepentant romantic Jess has just landed a dream job at a London publisher and is moving into one of the bedrooms in the Notting Hill brownstone her best college friend just inherited. Also sharing their house are a glamorous lawyer, a chef, and Alex, a former lawyer turned nursing student, whom Jess crushes on madly at first sight. She tries to ignore her feelings — they’d all agreed to no relationships when they’d moved in, after all — only to find them hurt when she discovers another of their housemates sneaking out of Alex’s room one night.

But Alex is mostly a nice guy, and he and Jess become friends as he invites her to get to know her new hometown by going on walks together. He finds her a fun friend, but he’s got an ex-wife and a misbegotten fling to add complication to his life.

The story, which takes place over the course of a year and which bounces between Jess’ and Alex’s narratives, has a lot going on. Jess has a beloved grandma and a kooky, neglectful mom and two childhood BFFs — a footloose actress and a more uptight friend with a fiance and a life plan. It always gives the story a new path to explore, but it also definitely makes it a less taut tale. And while it may have two narrators, it decidedly remains Jess’ story first and foremost.

If you want a fluffy will-they, won’t they story in a great setting that could very well be made into an equally sweet made-for-tv Christmas movie in a year or two, this is definitely the book for you.

Pages: 390. Library copy.

Girl with Gun, by Amy Stewart

In the first of a series of historical fiction about one of America’s first female deputy sheriffs and her family, Constance, Norma, and Fleurette Kopp find themselves on the wrong end of a car-wagon crash with the weaselly manager of the local silk mill. This leads to a cascading series of events that include threats from gangsters, a stolen baby, an undercover assignment in New York, newspaper attention, a friendship with a reform-minded local sheriff, and a court case — all in pursuit of a $50 wagon repair. Through it all Constance Kopp keeps her head and strong sense of justice and mostly manages to keep curmudgeonly Norma and dramatic Fleurette safe. But these three sisters will never again be able to remain anonymous and hidden away on their New Jersey farm.

If you like stories of women who come into their own, who find an inner strength they didn’t know they had, and who end up kicking ass and taking names and the added bonus of knowing it’s based on a real person, this is the book for you. I’m eager to track down the second book in the series once libraries are open again, and I hope that Amazon continues to develop the series/movie they optioned from it.

Pages: 408 pages. Personal copy.

February Totals

Books finished: 5
Pages read: 1372

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May 26, 2020

memorial day weekending
posted by soe 1:44 am


Ours was a quiet, but nice, weekend. There were bike rides and walks and wildlife sightings. I ate peas from the garden and waffles from my sourdough starter.

I splurged on peonies at the farmers market, as well as more predictable purchases. They made my soul sing.

We finished our Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone listen, and I will wrap up reading Chasing Vermeer after I post this.

We did laundry (we were out of masks again) and repaired a piece of furniture my grandfather built me.

I talked with my folks and with my BFF, Karen. Rudi’s friend, Rachel, dropped off some homemade lemon curd, and we chatted briefly outside — only my second in-person interaction with our friends in months.

And we were scofflaws and took our beach chairs to the traffic circle at the end of our street this evening and soaked up the sun for a little while. It’s my first time sitting outside since March (city parks are closed for lounging and I live in an apartment below ground), and it was glorious. I don’t even care how many bug bites I got. There is a possibility that D.C. will enter into Phase 1 of pandemic recovery as early as Friday, in which case I can soon return to lounging — at a distance from my neighbors — in the park without skirting the law (the traffic circle is technically federal property, and they’re a little murkier about legalities of such green spaces).

I hope you all had a pleasant weekend, too, or as pleasant as possible. Stay safe and stay apart!

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