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Portland: ancient unicorn burial ground
Once again, I have read far, far fewer books and pages than the winner: Steve Duin blog: The 2014 Reading Contest.

I keep submitting my list, not because I expect to win, but because knowing that I will shapes my reading a bit. I find I haven't finished a book in a week, because I've been spending time reading Twitter and such, and I decide to pick up my book. As I record the books I've read in Goodreads, I'm (a bit) more likely to add a few words of a review.



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An excerpt from "Deadbeat - Makes You Stronger" by Guy Adams

"Like the noble hero of literature, Bertram Wooster, we Harrises have a code: you never let a pal down. If they hurt him they would find that I was not altogether the affable chap I see fit to present to the world."

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Here you go: pictures and videos on Flicker

They are named Miles (ginger one) and Ivan (silver grey). Yes, named for the most excellent Lois McMaster Bujold characters. We bought a cat tree for them. We were amused to see that Ivan gets up the cat tree by hopping onto a nearby chair, and then up to the first platform. Miles leaps from the floor to snag his claws in the side of the lower level, then heaves himself up and over. Like their namesakes, much?

Miles was almost named Outboard, because he has an amazingly loud purr. Ivan's fur is astonishingly soft, and he goes limp when you pick him up, for major adorable, until he decides to bite you.

They were 2 months old, and each about 3.4 pounds when we brought them home from the Rescue shelter. They are now a little over 4 months old, and over 7 pounds. There has been much kitten chow.

They are a whirlwind of cute, and of destruction.
It was a bad day to be an iPhone cable
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I associated making applesauce to my mother's herculean efforts when I was a child. We had an apple tree in the back yard, so the quantity involved was large. I recall the weather as still hot and humid when they were ripe, so the kitchen was an especially steamy place, and full of laboring people. The cooked sauce was strained through a giant metal contraption, then poured into canning jars which in turn were boiled in a big vat to sterilize and seal.

Not something I want to do.

But, duh, you don't have to make mass quantities, or bottle it. At work, we've been getting CSA deliveries of apples. They aren't the commercial type, that have been waxed and stored in a special gas environment, and we don't have room in the fridge for them, so they start to wrinkle up and develop brown spots within a week. One of my coworkers peeled the ones going off, tossed them into a big pot (we have an actual stove in our tiny kitchen) with some water and sugar, and let them cook for awhile. Stirred occasionally. No straining, smashing, or bottling. And it was delicious.

At home Friday night, I did one of those periodic "what the hell is in this drawer in the fridge?" investigations*, and discovered far too many apples. Eureka! This morning I peeled 5 pounds, and put them into a pot with 1.5 teaspoons cinnamon, 1.5 cups water, juice of one lemon, couple grinds of nutmeg (I used this recipe for guidance). Brought to boil, then covered and turned down to a simmer. Stirred now and then. After awhile, I mashed them with a potato masher. Decided I wanted it just a bit smoother, and used the immersion blender**.

After it's cooled a bit more, I'll freeze some in small containers and put the rest in the fridge. I love applesauce on its own, but it's also delicious stirred into oatmeal.

home made applesauce

*I am proud to say that I didn't find anything in the produce drawer that had turned to slime. This is a first.
**Oh, how I love an immersion blender!

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A pre-order from Powell's, so it was kind of a surprise. I don't think Wooster is thrilled with the title:

I don"t think Wooster likes the title

Oh, not "Laura Anne Gilman" but her secret identity, L.A. Kornetsky.

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As a general rule, I'm not interested in attending Anthrocon*—but it's right here in town, and Ursula Vernon will be in the dealer room! I've followed her on Twitter and LJ for about 3 years now and adored her from afar. I may need to go. I could finally pick up Digger in book form, as I just don't seem to manage to read comics online.
If you haven't already read her fable (?) Toad Words, I really think you should. It's short

*Yes, is a furry con, and it happens every year in Pittsburgh. Pittsburgh is quirkier than you thought.

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I have found a good furniture consignment shop!

It is most annoying that you can buy disposable particle-board furniture for a few hundred dollars, or solid wood furniture starting at a few thousand. I do like to find something more in the middle of that range. I do check Craigslist, but have had very little luck with it. Bless their hearts, the local branch of the National Council of Jewish Women operate stores that sell donated/consigned clothing and furniture to raise money: "All of our retail establishments serve to fund our community service programs and advocacy efforts; specifically, our work toward improving women’s economic independence and security in our region."

I can't be sure what we need, in what size, until after the furniture is moved into the house. Our old house had built-in desks, and two china cabinets. We can manage without all the dishes for awhile, but I plan to have desks right away—and most likely from Ikea. I would like two nice bookcases to flank the fireplace in the living room (there are alcoves to fill), and a buffet to hold placemats and such in the dining room.

I noticed several enormous armoires/whatever for TVs. There was the phase when existing chests were modified to hold (tube) TVs. I bet now they're being modified to hold stuff again. The dining room has a rather big corner, and there was a handsome oak one with a triangular back that would do nicely for holding placemats, dishes and such once some shelves were added to it.

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The weather today was perfect—sunny, but only got to about 74 degrees, with a few puffy white clouds to make the sky look more blue. We drove around to the other entrance to Frick Park, where we'd be walking in the shade of trees, and went for a long ramble, finding some paths down into the ravine that we hadn't tried before.

Frick Park path in late May

Had a lazy lunch back at the apartment, and then headed to a Segway tour of downtown. Instead of taking the busy highway on our side of the river, we crossed the nearest bridge, and found our way along a two-lane highway that ran between the river and neighborhoods we hadn't seen before. The Segway tour place was in Station Square, a touristy development on the river, near the two Inclines (funiculars, if you're fancy). They spent about 30 minutes getting us each outfitted in helmets and somewhat competent on our Segways, and then we swooped out and over our first bridge.

Weaving between cones to get the hang of a Segway

Pro Tip: If a tour group goes by you on the sidewalk on Segways, stand clear, and stay out of the curb cut. Those people have only been on the thing for a short time, and are incompetent. You don't want to get hit in the ankles, or have someone fall on you.

We all managed, and it was really fun rolling through the city, listening the the guide through our earpieces. Such a pretty day!

Panorama of downtown Pittsburgh


I'm in love with PPG Place—the Pittsburgh Plate Glass buildings, one of which is a tall tower, and all of which have neogothic spires in the same shiny glass as the rest of the building. There's also the first Alcoa building, with a facade all in aluminum and windows that look oddly like the ones in an airplane. The craziest building in Pittsburgh has to be the Union Arcade, a.k.a. Union Trust Building. The top section looks like the decoration on a cathedral, and there are what looks like two small chapels on the roof. Our guide told us that it was built on the site of a cathedral, and a restriction on the deed required the resemblance to a church. According to Wikipedia, it is indeed built where a church had been, but the deed thing is an urban legend. Nonetheless, the tiny "churches" on the roof are the oddest thing I've ever seen.

Standing on a Segway for 2 hours is hard on your feet. Go ahead, stand up with your feet planted and don't move them for 2 hours. Well, we did take a 5 minute break halfway. When we were done, I graciously suggested that Ron probably didn't want to be on his feet in the kitchen making dinner, and he agreed heartily. We ate at the Nu Modern Jewish Bistro in Squirrel Hill. It opened last fall, and never looks busy when I walk by, but I can't imagine why, because the food is delicious. It is very meat-centric, but the Sabich is vegetarian and fantastic. It surpasses the late, great Gepetto's restaurant eggplant burger in Ashland.




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It's interesting looking at the similarities and differences between Portland and Pittsburgh neighborhoods. Our neighborhood, Squirrel Hill, is kinda like Hawthorne, in that you've got old houses and some apartments near a retail street. But the retail doesn't have the hippie vibe of Hawthorne. Hawthorne certainly lacks the Yeshiva element of Squirrel Hill! There's a regular grocery store, a bit on the small side, and the rest of the stores and restaurants are all quite small, and many look like they've been there a long time. There's also a library, which is lovely, and a used book store is scheduled to open in June. There used to be a Barnes & Noble location, but it closed, and is much mourned. It was in an uncharacteristically large, and new, building. Now the ground floor is a RiteAid, and the upstairs is an IBM Watson office. Despite the lack of the new book store, it's a really thorough little retail district. Restaurants, coffee shops, dry cleaners, a Post Office, yoga studios, specialty tea shop, toy store, computer game store, tabletop games store, hair salons and barbers, bakeries, ice cream & frozen yogurt spots, jewelry stores, a few clothing stores. One jewelry store & bakery are fancy, but the rest aren't.

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I just finished Jamie Ford's Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet. It was selected by one of my book groups. It was a bit too sentimental for me, and there were plot elements that jarred me as unrealistic. I did enjoy the portrait of Seattle in 1942, from the the point of view of a boy in Chinatown.

I finished Charles Stross' Saturn's Children. It's space opera, in a world where humans have died out and the robots have formed a society. Fun and interesting.

I saw this list of 25 Essential Graphic Novels and was pleased by the lack of heroes in spandex. I had read about half of them, and really liked almost all of those, so I decided to read the rest of the list. I was pleased to find that Pittsburgh's Carnegie Library had all the graphic novels on the list. This week I read:

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