Friday Favs – August Begins

Happy Friday! I can’t believe it’s already August. Pumpkin spice everything is just around the corner!

Here’s what I’ve been loving this week:

 

1. Sabra has a new black bean dip that is so good! It’s not super spicy, just right.

I just ate it with tortilla chips, but I just realized how amazing it would be paired with a cheese quesadilla. I need to test this theory ASAP.

 

2. I’m getting a pretty noticeable flip flop tan line. I consider this a sign of a life well lived.

 

3. I got a new notebook! And it was 88 cents! Yassss. I’m still using the dragonfly one that’s been literally falling apart since like the third day of use, but I’m excited to switch to this one ASAP.

 

4. This article on Vulture was a fun read! Writers from Sex & the City plotted out what current-day episodes would look like, from goat yoga to #MeToo.

5. I don’t really have a #5 this week! I just finished invoicing writing clients, and I’m getting ready to head over to the thrift store where I work on Saturdays to pick up a couple of hours. Our electricity went out in the middle of the afternoon last Saturday, and it turned out that it was out for the entire town – stoplights and everything! So we wound up going home at 3:30 instead of 6:30. I’d normally just pick up extra writing work to make up for those missed hours, but it’s been a slow week for that, too! (Ok, TBH there’s been plenty available, but I’ve been sick and haven’t been able to talk myself into doing much.) A couple of hours is barely going to feel like work (hopefully), and then I get to come home and work on a post about the cave I visited earlier this week! And then soooo much sleep, because these antibiotics are kicking my butt.

Not the most exciting favorites this week unless you’re like me and get excited about hummus and a notebook.

Hope your weekend is lovely and filled with adventure!

 

Friday blog linkup

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Friday Favs -Goodbye, July

 

Happy Friday, friends! I’m late finishing this up (it’s almost 10 pm. on Friday, eep!) so I’m just jumping straight to my favorite things this week!

1. If ever a shirt was made for me, it’s this one:

Fount it at Kohls – it’s available online here and on sale for $10! They’re junior sizes but I’m broad shouldered and booby and the Large worked for me, so it’s not the usual teeny tiny juniors sizes.

 

2. Speaking of the meowers, they’ve been hard at work reviewing food sent to us by Chewy.com for their Chewy

Influencer Program. This week, they tried out the Victor Turkey & Salmon Dinner Canned Cat Food. I’d never heard of this brand before, but the can says they’ve been around since 1950. We got a 24-pack and most of the cats were fans. This is a pate, but it’s a little more moist than your average pate, which I think contributed to the cats liking it.

 

 

3. I spotted these on my last trip to the good Target in Springfield and grabbed them on a whim. I love Sweet Earth but it’s really hard to make a good frozen quesadilla. These are SO GOOD, though! The “meat” is vegan, but the quesadillas contain cheese so they’re actually just vegetarian. I made them on the stove instead of in the microwave, which I think made a big difference. (The package says they take 5 minutes but I definitely spent at least 10.) There are 4 other varieties but they all contain ingredients that just don’t appeal to me (SUPER bummed about the mushrooms in the Tuscan one!) I’m guessing they must be new? I’ve definitely never seen them before now, and I pay close attention to the healthy frozen stuff section.

 

4. When I got home from my thrift shop job last weekend, I set a bag of clothes I’d scored at work that day down for ONE SECOND and this happened:

 

This is why I can’t have nice things.

 

5. Best tweets this week:

 

 

Have a fantastic weekend!

 

Friday blog linkup

 

 

 

 

 

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Back to the Lake

If you follow me on Instagram, or even read my blog occasionally, you know I go down to the lake several nights a week to relax by the water. It’s only like a two-minute drive and it’s amazing for clearing my head. After a day behind the computer, the fresh air and long walks are magical.

Except, as you probably heard, last week my lake killed a bunch of people. (Link is to a recent CNN story, but there are a billion out there.)

I still have way more questions than answers about the whole thing. It seems like literally everything that could go wrong did.

The area where it happened is about a half hour drive from me, but only a few miles if you measure straight across the lake. Everyone in my town seemed to know the storm was coming. I woke up from a nap and saw the storm warning so I made a quick run to the store for cat food before it hit. I almost snapped a photo of the massive black clouds rolling on, since they were juxtaposed against glowing sun and fluffy white clouds. At the store, the radio was broadcasting the storm warning. A tourist asked if that was for our area. Yup. As I was leaving, another woman came into the store and told the cashier he should bring in the outdoor clearance items ASAP because a big storm was coming. I got home and fed the cats, and then had a call from my mom freaking out about this big storm coming in. Moral of this paragraph: It was a crazy storm and way more intense than expected in some areas, but everyone KNEW it was coming.

 

I’ve posted about these weird storms several times this summer.

 

A few minutes into it, I tried to check the radar on my phone but I have the worst internet everrrrr, so it wouldn’t load. After many tries I gave up and pulled up my county fire department’s Twitter – I can always tell how bad a storm is by how many incidents they’re responding to. Instead of the usual trees and power lines down, I saw this:

 

 

After sending that screencap to a friend with a  note that storms usually don’t freak me out but this one was a little eerie, I went over to their Facebook after the storm cleared up to see if there was more info, and saw that they had clarified that the Belle wasn’t involved. (And yes, if that sounds familiar, I just posted about the Branson Belle a few weeks ago.) After a bit, other Facebook users began posting that they heard one of the Duck boats was involved. It wasn’t long before the FD referred to it as a MCI – mass casualty event. (I clearly remember that because someone posted a reply saying that they hoped everyone was ok, and it took ALL of my willpower not to point out that if it was being called a MCI that um, no, NOT everyone was ok. By far.)

I’ve been through all kinds of feels this week because this literally hits so close to home. Not just geographically, but like, I do the hiking trail that passes through the Branson Belle parking lot fairly often, so I KNOW how close to the sinking site that there are boat ramps where they could have driven out. I have walked down them to the water. It’s close to home in the sense that I got a sudden, super strong headache when the air pressure changed as the storm hit, and it lasted from Thursday night until Sunday. It’s close to home in the sense that I was so, so, so thankful when all of the bodies were recovered not just for the obvious reason of closure for the families, but because I know that there was no way I could go back to sitting with my feet in the water when there was a literal possibility of someone washing up next to me.

This is probably an unpopular opinion, but I hated the “Branson Strong” images that started popping up on social media the next day, because I associate that kind of phrase with terrorist attacks. I was home in Orlando when Pulse happened. What happened on my lake was a horrible tragedy that almost definitely could have been prevented, but it is NOT the same as a single human choosing to devastate your entire city. They’re just entirely different kinds of awful.

Last night, though, I finally hit the point where I needed to go back. I NEED the fresh air and the sound of gentle waves and the little turtle heads popping up out of the water. Not taking those walks to decompress at the end of the day was really messing with my mental health. I’ve been waking up from lake nightmares unable to breathe.

 

 

I took my notebook and my bottled water with me as usual, but I ended up just sitting down by the water feeling all of the sadness until it started getting dark. I think I actually asked the lake, “Seventeen people?” at one point, as if I was accusing it, as if it was a beloved pet who had accidentally been incredibly destructive.

I went back tonight, walked around for awhile, sat by the water until it was almost dark again. It’s almost meditative.

 

 

For the record, I’m not trying to be like “Oh poor me, I lost my evening relaxation place” when a bunch of people lost their lives. I just wanted to share a bit of the weird way that an event like this affects people in the local area, even when they aren’t personally involved. It still *feels* personal. I feel absolutely horrible for the people who were on board the Branson Belle and watched it all happen. I can’t imagine seeing people in that kind of peril and knowing you can’t do anything to help. I feel bad for the teenage girl who survived who keeps being told in interviews that she’s meant for great things, because holy crap is that a lot of pressure to put on a young girl. I feel bad for the Belle employee who pulled at least two people from the water who didn’t make it. I can’t imagine how it haunts him. I feel bad for the hospital staff – I’ve been to that ER a few times and it’s always crazy. They’re so not equipped to deal with a sudden rush of people in critical condition, not to mention all of the extra press around.

I try not to get stuck in the loop of “What if?” What if ONE passenger had stood up when the water started getting choppy and put on a life vest, even though they’d been told they wouldn’t need them. Would others have followed? What if they had tried to head in two minutes sooner? (Under normal lake conditions, they could have made it to one of the boat ramps in 1-2 minutes max.) What if that family of 11 had gotten stuck in traffic and missed that particular boat? What if this had happened when I went on the Ducks as a kid? My mom is afraid of water and I remember her being nervous the whole time, so it was probably me who talked her into going. Is someone feeling guilty about dragging a nervous family member along on last week’s fateful trip? There are a million tiny details that can suck you into that rabbit hole of realizing how many decisions we make in a day that add up to big things.

Sorry that this is more of a stream of consciousness than a carefully crafted narrative, but my mind is still in a weird place.  I’d be curious to hear from you guys if you’ve ever been through something similar – the weird feeling when your community is shaken by something that doesn’t directly involve you?

Friday Favs – July

 

1. A recommendation for one of this guy’s Ted Talks came up in my YouTube feed, and after watching that I fell down a huge rabbit hole of watching all of his stuff. Most videos are about his replies to spam emails and the hilarious exchanges that ensue, but this one about his exchange with a roommate is my favorite so far:


 

2. I’m super weird about paying someone else to do a task I’m capable of doing myself, so learning how to do something new makes me happy. This week, the light bulb for my car’s rear turn signal went out. I stopped by WalMart to look at replacement bulbs and asked how much they’d charge to install one. It’s $5.50, so I almost had them go ahead and do it, but I decided to YouTube it first and I’m glad I did!

It was literally 1) Open Trunk 2) Unscrew a little twisty thing. 3) Twist the piece that holds the bulb to remove it. 4) Pull bulb out and stick new one in. 5) Put everything back into place. It’s totally something you can do in one minute. Um, unless you’re like me and don’t smush the bulb far enough into the socket the first time and you have to figure out how to recover from this:

(I put sticky tack on a pen to get it out. VICTORY.)

Anyway, I highly recommend doing a quick YouTube search before paying someone to do simple repairs! I’ve learned how to replace fuses, windshield wipers, and now bulbs. Sure, it’s only like $6 saved, but even if you do end up paying someone else to do it, it’s nice to know you can do it yourself if you want to.

 

3. I usually choose wet food to review for the #ChewyInfluencer program, but this month the Purina Beyond dry food caught my eye because it had freeze dried chicken pieces in it, and I knew my cats would be allllll over that!

 

 

We got the Wild Turkey & Lentil recipe, and Captain Kitten earned his keep for another month with this adorable tongue out photo. He really is my most talented model. (Yes, he got a new collar and yes, he will have it utterly destroyed within weeks. Again.)

 

As expected, the cats loved it! (Except Tennyson, who will almost NEVER eat dry food. Tiny weirdo.)

It’s made in the USA and the info says the turkey is farm-raised, but I do wonder if that actually means free-range or the usual poultry farm cages. It’s grain-free, and has no artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives, though, so thumbs up for that!

 

 

4. I found these on clearance at WalMart for 50 cents, and they’re SO GOOD. Finding foods rich in Omega-3’s is hard when you don’t eat fish. Of course, now I’m annoyed that the little packages are gone and all they have available are big $14 tubs of them. Still – yum!

 

5. The infamous “This is not a mailbox” at my local post office made a friend:

 

Hope your weekend is lovely!

 

Friday blog linkup

Show Us Your Books – July Edition

 

Happy Show Us Your Books link-up day! I’ve mostly been re-reading Harry Potter for the zillionth time these last few months, so my list is a little short. As usual, it’s of the “kinda weird nonfiction” genre. Just how I roll!

 

Gulp by Mary Roach

Goodreads * Amazon

Mary Roach’s books are always fun, fascinating, and a little gross. This one focuses on eating and digestion, and while its not my favorite of the author’s books so far (Stiff is easily the best, and I don’t remember much about Packing For Mars.), it was interesting enough and I enjoyed Roach’s clever wordplay that pops up throughout the text. I was bummed that the audiobook isn’t read by the author.

One of the first chapters is about pet food, which is obviously up my alley as a gold star cat lady. I was fascinated to learn that outdoor cats tend to be mousers or birders, but rarely both – they prefer one taste or the other.

This is one that Steph would refer to as “Passed the time just fine” – interesting enough, but not a must-read.

(Library Audiobook)

 

Spoiler Alert: You’re Gonna Die by Korttany Finn and Jacquie Purcell

Goodreads * Amazon

First of all, I find it kind of amusing that I read this while sick and drugged up by a ton of antibiotics. Spoiler alert: I survived.

This book is co-written by a Deputy Coroner and her writer friend, and was inspired by the coroner doing an AMA on a parenting forum. Thanks to that, it’s written as a Q & A, so it’s a good one to pick up when you only have short chunks of time for reading, since you can read one or two answers at a time without feeling like you’re losing track of a storyline.

Here are a few things I found especially interesting. (When I refer to “the author” below, I generally mean Jacquie, the coroner.)

*There is something known as the CSI Effect where jurors are now influenced by things they’ve “learned” from criminal drama shows, even though those aren’t very accurate. For instance, a lot of jurors now believe you need DNA evidence for a conviction because you see that in pretty much every crime show, but it’s really not necessary. They expect cases to be nicely packaged like they are on TV, so they’re hesitant to convict if all of the loose ends don’t tie up in a tidy bow, which just isn’t real life.

*The author worked to change a law in Virginia, which was pretty interesting. In most states, if someone dies long after an assault or abuse, the criminal charges can be changed to homicide. At the time, Virginia’s laws only allowed this to happen up to a year and a day after the original charges, but the author worked to get that limit removed.

I thought this was fascinating because it’s something I’ve never thought about at all. To be honest, I’m not sure how I feel about it. The man who inspired the case had been shot in the back almost 40 years prior, which caused him to become quadriplegic and require a respirator. He eventually died due to a kind of pneumonia that is caused by that respirator use. Since the cause of death was related to his injuries, she worked to have it changed to homicide. On one hand, that seems like SUCH a long time after the injury for the verdict to change. Assuming the shooter was like 20 at the time, he would’ve been 58 when the change occurred. On the other hand, it seems like an assault that damages someone’s quality of life to the extent this did should probably carry the same penalty as homicide, anyway. The topic has been tumbling around in my head since I read that section, though, so I thought I’d share.

*I never knew that jurors are sometimes brought in to determine cause of death (accident/natural/suicide/etc) when the coroner isn’t sure about how to call it.

*The author mentioned that when she has the body of a child in the morgue, she always leaves the lights on for them. I think we tend to think of people in death-heavy professions as being kind of numb to it all, so it was nice to read about her sweet gesture.

This book has an average of 4 stars on Goodreads and the Kindle version is currently only $1.99

 

The Power by Naomi Alderman

Goodreads * Amazon

My library hold on this finally came through, and I was excited to see what all of the buzz was about! The premise is that women suddenly develop the ability to shoot electric currents from their hands, and obviously that has a huge effect on the power dynamic between men and women. The whole book is a metaphor on several levels, and it’s such an interesting look at a lot of systemic things that we might not even notice.

The main part of the book is supposed to be a manuscript submitted by a male author long after this change happened. There are amusing notes from the author’s (female) mentor like (I’m paraphrasing) “It’s cute that you even included male police officers, but do you think the readers will just fetishize them?” One of my favorite passages in the main story is when a character turns on the TV and the female anchor is talking about economic predictions, and the male anchor just “laughs attractively” and says, “Now I don’t understand that kind of thing at all, but I’ll tell you what I do know about: apple bobbing!” (as they transition to a human interest story.)

I LOVED the first half of the book, but the latter half wasn’t as good – maybe due to plot, maybe due to the newness of the concept wearing off. This would be a great book club book, though, because it’s a lot of fun to discuss. I might even reread it eventually to see what else I catch in the text. (SO MANY METAPHORS). If you’ve read it, I’d love to hear your thoughts!

 

That’s it for me this month! Be sure to visit Life According to Steph and Jana Says to see what dozens of other bloggers have been reading lately!