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Jewell Tedder McGinnis, Oct. 14, 1914 - Nov. 10, 2017 [Nov. 10th, 2017|09:43 pm]
Beemer
So my mom did come out on Wednesday of last week, and we met up at Grandma's that afternoon and had a good and long visit with her. We got there shortly after my aunt and uncle had left, and said goodbye shortly after my cousin showed up a couple hours later. The nurse said it was the most animated she'd seen Grandma in a couple weeks.

That was kind of her swan song; after that she spent most of each day sleeping. (My Aunt Barb kept me updated with reports to pass along to my siblings.) She would get agitated at night, though she wasn't in any pain and was able to stay in home hospice care rather than being moved to a hospital. She wasn't able to verbalize much and wasn't really aware enough to take much comfort from visitors.

She rallied a bit on Wednesday, and had a meaningful visit that evening with Bo & Barb, their daughter Tammy, and my uncle Dave. They read some scriptures and sang and she had a peaceful night that night.

Grandma passed away a bit before noon today.

Barb asked us to come join them at Grandma's house for dinner tonight, so Jerry and I went over there late this afternoon. I took lots of pictures of her house, inside and out, to preserve it in my mind. I'm also going to send them to family so people can make requests for any especially beloved items that they would like to have. They sent me home with a pile of photos and some pieces of art that came from my mom or my dad or Mom's grandma. I also took the flower clippers that Grandma always used to trim the stems on the flowers I would bring her, as well as a couple flower vases, since bringing her flowers is an important element of my memories of all our visits together.

I'm sad, of course, but she lived for more than 103 years and was well-loved, which is hard to beat. And she was able to spent the end of her life at home, like she wanted. My grandfather built their home in 1954, and she lived in it for 63 years. I expect that when the sell the property, it will probably be torn down, which is also sad. It's a very old-fashioned style of home, and even if there were a buyer who wanted to live in it as-is, it's pretty likely that it's not up to code in a number of ways. But he built that house for her, and she knew every bit of it, inside and out. It was hers, and if it does get demolished, that will mean that it was only ever hers, and never anyone else's, which is kind of beautiful.

I will miss her very much.
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Grandma, weather, work [Oct. 31st, 2017|09:53 pm]
Beemer
So my grandmother is fading and will probably pass soon. It's sad and I will miss her, but she turned 103 on the 14th, and that's a pretty good run. I went to visit her a week later, and she had definitely declined since the last time I saw her. She clearly doesn't have much energy left, although she perked up after I'd been there for a bit.

She was having trouble getting back and forth from the family room to her bedroom, so they put a hospital bed in the family room for her, and has nurses staying with her every night. My aunt called me today to let me know that she's declined a little further, and that if anyone wanted to come visit in the next few days, that would be good, so my mom is going to drive out tomorrow to pay her a visit. I'll join her if I can get away from work, and if not I'll go visit her the next day and bring her flowers one last time. (I've been bringing her flowers every time I visit for the last decade or so, and I'm very thankful to my stepdad for suggesting it, because it means a lot to her.)

So that's kind of a bummer, although it's hardly a surprise. I will always be grateful that she was able to come to our wedding.

The weather has been drastic lately. It was in the mid-70s on Sunday, and then yesterday the high was 37. All the plants outside work were coated in ice. Today it warmed back up to the mid-50s, and at first I wasn't sure that would be warm enough for us to get any trick-or-treaters, but they started coming in packs after it got dark and we got enough to clear us out of candy. There were a lot of princesses in sweaters. We had another short but strong cold front sweep through last week or the week before -- we notice them because the change in pressure makes Monkey creaky.

I finally got to see Bob & Jeff's new house at their housewarming on Saturday. The space is very interesting, because there are no hallways, it's just rooms that open onto one another. Bob's estimate is that it was originally a little bungalow that got added onto about 5 times. Douglas came over to our place on Sunday night for dinner and a visit.

Work has been pretty good. I finally got my analysis machinery all built and on Thursday, I met with Melissa and we looked at a bunch of the metrics I cranked out and she was able to see a bunch of patterns that suggested things to look into at a process level. Which is good! That's the first level of this fancy analysis cascade that we said we'd use in the great big grant we got, and it actually works! We did science and it worked! And it's also the thing that I said I'd talk about at AGU, which is coming up distressingly fast on the calendar, so at least I don't have to try to talk about nothing.
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Pretty Routine [Oct. 15th, 2017|10:43 pm]
Beemer
So I last posted a week and a half ago and didn't even mention that the evening before we has Cris & Steve and Brandon & Gene over. We played Wise & Otherwise, and a round of 7 Wonders, and a few of the Jackbox games, and a good time was had by all.

Then last Saturday we went to Mary's for food and socialization along with Kate, Sarah, and Mary's nephew. We played a round of Citadels and one of Ticket to Ride. Mary made a bunch of tasty dishes and Sarah cooked a turkey breast and it was all excellent.

On Sunday afternoon we went to Tim & Stacy's, but we couldn't stay too long because my parents came into town to drop off a car for Leslie. We had dinner with them and Dave & Michelle (et al) at Cheddar's. Mom & Larry spent the night in our guest room and took off early the next day. I was planning to work from home because a big snowstorm was forecast, but it didn't accumulate on the roads, so I ended up going in to the office after all. Oh, and I remembered that it would be a smart idea to sweep dead leaves off the patio and clean out the gutters before the first big snow! So I felt all adult about getting that done on Sunday afternoon.

I made up for it by staying home on Wednesday after my dentist appointment. I had the other half of my deep cleaning, plus got a cracked filling replaced, and the after-effects of the anesthetic just knocked me on my ass. I actually napped for a couple hours after I got home. Felt human enough to go to my Board meeting that evening, which featured a very long group discussion with the Chief of Police, which was heartening (especially given how unpleasant the news is all the time these days). There's always room for improvement, but the impression I got is that things are generally on the right track and if there are any changes wanting to be made, they're small matters of implementation, not big course changes. (I should mention that if I ever post about the Inclusivity Board online, I am of course just presenting my own personal opinion, not speaking on behalf of the board. So there's your obligatory disclaimer.)

Went to Games Night at Chris's on Thursday, and otherwise there's not much else been going on. We did nothing at all social this weekend, just grocery shopping and chores. Didn't get all the things on my list done, but dealt with a bunch of them, including a number of "oh I need to remember to do that" items. I made low-carb jambalaya (substituting grated cauliflower for rice), which turned out pretty tasty. I also opened up a can of tomato paste and portioned the whole thing out into little 1 tablespoon dollops that I froze, instead of using a couple tablespoons and having the rest of it go bad in the fridge! So that feels like an accomplishment. Oh, and last weekend Mom brought a shoebox of tomatoes. I sliced up a couple of them and at them raw, and then made shakshouka out of the rest of them to use them up before they spoiled.

I got all of my tedious chores at work done (typing up QC details to hand off to my student, quarterly report for one of the grants, answering emails that require long essays to respond to properly) and was able to get a good start on building out the last chunk of my analysis framework, so I ended both this week and last feeling pretty good about my progress. Which is good, since I suspect that before I know it it'll be time to start prepping for presentation at conferences, and I'll need to have some results to actually prepare...
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Turkish Walnut Chicken and Mustardy Coleslaw [Oct. 5th, 2017|11:01 pm]
Beemer
I'm annoyed with myself for having low productivity at work and yet also staying late. The problem is that I'm working on a project (tallying up formatting fixes to hand off to my student) that is tedious and chore-like, requires attention to detail, and involves a number of steps that take several minutes for the computer to crunch through. So once I get step five out of eleventy running I go off to do something else while I'm waiting, except it can't be anything that requires thought or I'll lose track of what I'm doing, so I dink around on Facebook or play a little game or something and then when it's time to switch back I've lost all my momentum and have to re-motivate myself. Oh, and half the time when I get one step further in the whole process, I find a new thing to fix and then I need to start all over again to make sure I'm not missing anything.

So I came home this evening feeling all antsy and decided to try cooking something new to see if that would help. I think it did.

I got a full set of TIME-LIFE "Foods of the World" books from my Mom, and now and again I pull one out to skim through at bedtime. The Middle Eastern Cooking book has a Turkish recipe for chicken with walnut sauce which looked intriguing, so I thought I'd give that a try. (I also threw together a batch of mustardy coleslaw while I was waiting for the stock to cook down using a recipe I improvised a few weeks ago and liked enough to write down.) The chicken turned out well, and I think I will make it again. It's tasty, different, pretty simple to make, and not overly carb-tastic. I think it'd make a good potluck dish.

Circassian ChickenCollapse )


Mustardy ColeslawCollapse )
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Dentistry, retreating, small-scale socialization [Oct. 2nd, 2017|11:01 pm]
Beemer
This morning I went to the dentist and got a deep cleaning on the left half of my mouth. Which is what I get for having skipped going to the dentist for about a decade. (Happily, before then I started flossing daily, because I discovered that the tape-style dental floss actually fits between my cramped teeth, so I don't have any cavities or anything.) It wasn't all that bad, honestly, except that one of the anesthetics they use has epinephrine in it as a vasodilator, and it gets into my system and makes me all anxious during the procedure and then I have a big come-down afterwards. Ugh.

It's honestly kind of a toss-up as to whether it was better or worse than the early start for the departmental retreat on Monday & Tuesday of last week. Because "show up at Chautauqua at 7:45 to start at 8" means leaving the house by 7 to ensure I'm there on time, which means getting up at 5 to be actually functional enough to drive by then, and 5 am is a very unpleasant time to be awake. (And my brain still wasn't fully booted up until about 10 both days.) But aside from that, I think it was a pretty good retreat and we got useful organizational things done. Certainly it was more useful than some such events I've been to. Along with fairly standard things like "proactively incubate opportunities" and "plan a tech adoption strategy", one interesting goal that emerged was "appreciate day-to-day accomplishments," which I think is a really healthy thing for an organization to want to do. As I pointed out when we were discussing it, Jerry and I have gotten into the habit of thanking one another for doing household chores, and I think that actively noticing and appreciating one another's contributions -- even (especially!) when they're the things each of us does all the time and is expected to deal with -- does a whole awful lot for building domestic harmony.

What else. Went to Trevor's on Saturday afternoon to play games. We played a co-ompetitive superhero game called "Heroes Wanted", which was a very weird combination of silly random character design with super-crunchy action-management gameplay. I managed to get a deeply sub-optimal character build and got trounced. Had a good time visiting and gaming, but I don't think I would recommend the game.

The weekend before that I had a nice visit with Grandma. Otherwise the last two weekends have been just a lot of downtime, which is a nice change of pace.

And we had Jonathan over for dinner (peanut-broccoli-tofu stirfry) and games (Mystery of the Abbey plus some trying out the VR system) on the Tuesday before that, which was lovely and delightful. Yay for small-scale socializing!
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Ratatouille [Oct. 1st, 2017|03:09 pm]
Beemer
At the (last of the season) farmer's market yesterday, I picked up a bag of red peppers and little yellow UFO squash and mini eggplants and big ripe tomatoes and thought, how convenient! I think I have the ingredients for ratatouille here and they're all in season at the same time-- oh right.

Because of course ratatouille is one of those dishes that was clearly born of somebody trying to deal with an overabundant garden. (Like making pesto to use up all the basil.) If you survey a bunch of different recipes, as I am wont to do, you can easily see the bones of the ur-recipe, which is just to chop up all the veggies you have too much of and saute them together with whatever herbs you typically use for everything, et voila, it's dinner.

So that's what I did, except I didn't feel like standing at the stove forever, so I roasted them instead. At 350, in two batches of two baking sheets each, since I had so much. (4-6 of each of the main veggies, plus three small onions.) All indications are that it is going to be excellent. (It's in the fridge waiting to be dinner later, but everyone agrees it's much better the next day anyway.)

I'm not sure exactly how long I cooked everything; I think a key technique is to open the oven every five minutes to check progress and, more importantly, let all the steam out. That way the veggies actually start to brown. So just do that until they start to look done.
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The Big Day (part 2) [Sep. 28th, 2017|10:27 pm]
Beemer
Miss Manners (who is a very insightful observer of human culture) notes that getting married involves three entirely separable components. There's the legal piece of entering into a lawful union, which is all about filling out whatever paperwork is required by your jurisdiction properly. There's the religious piece of partaking in the rite of holy matrimony, which, if you do it, is between you and your church. And then there's the social piece of having a wedding, which is providing an opportunity for your community to come together to celebrate your marriage. This is why the wedding reception is a big deal.

Also, it's a party! Hopefully a good party.

So after the wedding proper was done, we segued immediately into the reception. There was no recessional, since it was all happening right there, so instead we made a big announcement about what would happen when, since we were sufficiently off-script that it would be foolish to expect the guests to operate on their default assumptions.

We started off with group photos. Neither of us wanted to hire a photographer to take an unending series of glamour shots of all possible permutations of the bridal party, but it's nice to get pictures of various family groups when they're all in one place (and TEPs always self-organize a big "family photo" at weddings anyway), so we decided that we'd do a small number of big group photos of the different branches of our friends and family, and that way we'd get pictures of all our wedding guests, too! So one for TEPs & other MIT folks, one for all the bears, one for each side of our families, and so on. We gave Kevin the grooman task of organizing the photos, but he also brought his camera and took a bunch of pictures, too, which was terribly kind. He very sensibly suggested that we bring a ladder, since it's easier to get big group pictures from a little bit of a height.

The sensible time to do pictures is right after the ceremony, because that's when everyone is already there and still looking their best, but we also didn't want to bore people with waiting, so we had the event services folks start serving snacks and beverages right away.

Speaking of refreshments, we were really impressed with the spread that the Event Services people put out. Our input was actually pretty limited; Nancy gave us a number of options to pick from, and we just said "we want the smoked salmon platter, of course," (because that's a thing they regularly do at receptions, and it's very nice) "and then how about the cheese platter, the veggie crudites, and something with pickles and olives and stuff like that." That's literally as detailed as it got. And what we actually got was, like, manchego with fig jam and capocolla with whole grain mustard and sliced pork terrine and marinated mushrooms all kinds of amazing things like that. So that was pretty nice.

As for drinks, we got water and lemonade and iced tea as part of the catering, and then Jerry went to the liquor store at the bottom of the hill and ordered a bunch of wine and beer and cider based on their recommendations. (Per the venue rules, we weren't allowed to serve hard liquor or mixed drinks, so we didn't spend a bajillion moneys on that, oh darn.) We got enough for everybody to have like 3 or 4 drinks over the course of the afternoon, and we ended up returning about a third of it unopened for a refund. Score!

So anyway, after lots of yelling loudly to get different groups of people to all come scrunch together for pictures, we did a receiving line. Traditionally, you have a receiving line because you have a bunch of guests going from the church where the wedding was to some other location where the reception is being held, and a big line forms as the hosts of the event (the bride's family) welcome all the guests individually, because that's the polite thing to do. This is one of the areas where we went off-script and the default setup didn't really make sense, because we hosted it ourselves, and there was no arriving. But we decided to have a receiving line anyway, because from a practical standpoint, the other advantage of the receiving line is that it's the only guaranteed point when the guests are guaranteed to be able to say hello to the happy couple.

So what we did was picked a spot (standing on the grass, in the shade) to stand for about an hour and a half and told people this was when they got to come say hello to us. That might seem like a long time, but 200 adult guests x 30 seconds each = an hour and 40 minutes. So yeah. But, since we wanted our guests to have more of a good time than standing in a line for an hour, we told them to have at the refreshments while they were waiting and to head over whenever the line was short and just to enjoy themselves otherwise. This worked brilliantly. The two of us spent the time saying "omigod it's so good to see you we're so glad you were able to come!" over and over, but everybody else got to mingle and catch up with friends. Hooray! We tasked Jason H. with bringing us some smoked salmon and nibbly things and with keeping us continually supplied with water, which was another piece of Very Good Advice we were given. We would have died of dehydration otherwise.

Many many hugs and greetings later, we threw flowers. And by "threw" I mean "launched from a catapult"...
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Cooking (and such) [Sep. 18th, 2017|12:10 am]
Beemer
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I'm working on a post about the wedding reception, but I did a bunch of cooking this weekend.

Yesterday, after some weapons training in the morning, I got over to the Westminster Farmer's Market (72nd & Sheridan) and discovered that they have a stand from a farm that will let you fill a big bag with whatever produce you want for $10. AND that they take cash, check, or credit card! Hooray for little credit card readers that plug into a smartphone! (I only wish I'd thought to ask before I spent 15 minutes looking for the phantom 7-11 across the street that supposedly one had a credit union ATM in it but no longer exists.) That plus regular grocery shopping netted me a bunch of things to cook.

I got a bunch of mini eggplants, which I roasted and turned into traditional Romanian eggplant salad (salata de vinete, I guess?). It's more of a puree or dip. Unusual flavor profile. Tasty, but not sure it's worth the substantial amount of work involved. It might want less flavorful olive oil than I used.

I also got a bunch of little cucumbers, which I did the Indian treatment of (since it's quick and easy) and we took them and the eggplant dip to Tim's birthday party this afternoon. We helped put together a table for their backyard, and spent a long time blowing bubbles for the dogs to chase and eat. (Their pitbull would have chased them until she keeled over. So cute!)

I was thinking about doing something with the tomatoes, but instead I've just been eating them sliced with salt.

I got a great big head of purple cabbage to make into quick sauerkraut to make the sauerkraut-and-bratwurst casserole thing. A bunch of little apples went in there, too. I only used half of it for kraut (and burned a little onto the bottom of the pan, boo), so tonight I used the rest of it for Indian slaw. More popping mustard seeds in hot oil, yay!

I thought there was something else, but maybe it was just cooking myself breakfast this weekend.

Other stuff: Games Night Thursday; we played a cooperative WWI survival game called "The Grizzled" and managed to not die. Also a super-fast new version of Race for the Galaxy, which I liked. (I can't play the regular game non-virtually anymore, because about 70% of the time on turn 2 I can tell I'm going to lose...)

Municipal board meeting Wednesday. I have concluded that what I can best contribute to the group is detail-oriented impetus to actually get shit done rather than just talking about things forever and ever. I remember back in grad school hanging out with folks at the Ranch, and we'd decide that, yeah, food should probably happen, and then an unbounded discussion about where to get dinner would begin until either Karen or I (or sometimes both of us) would yell "Everybody get up! We're going! We're going now! Stand up! We are leaving the house to get food!" to get everybody moving. So now I get to do the same thing but for forming committees.

Roleplaying-focused Unmunchkin last Sunday, followed by a big dinner with Chris & Todd & friends downtown at Sam's #3. (They were in town to celebrate their anniversary, yay!)

Also, I trimmed off the muttonchops, so now I just have an underlip tuft and a long, long mustache. Walgreen's started selling Pinaud mustache wax again, so I have been waxing it every day. We'll see how long it lasts before I get fed up with it. Monkey trimmed off the wizard beard and is back to just the friendly muttonchops.
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The Big Day (part 1) [Sep. 6th, 2017|07:02 pm]
Beemer
So, we had a wedding! It feels like it happened ages ago, but the calendar tells me it's only been ten days.

I know most folks who read this journal were there, but I figure it's worth setting down some details for posterity (and for future-me, who often forgets the details).

The WeddingCollapse )

And then Bryree pronounced us officially married, and we kissed. And everyone applauded. And it was very nice. And now I have a husband! :D

Okay, that turned out really long and it's bedtime, so this will have to be part 1. Next time I'll write about the reception!
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Visitors & Houseguests [Aug. 29th, 2017|09:24 pm]
Beemer
We got married! That will be a big long post I don't have the mana for right now, so instead I will recap visiting with other folks around the event itself.

So, many moons ago when we announced our wedding, Spider called us up and asked if she could come out a few days early and help out with wedding preparations in the lead-up to the big day. ("High-level minioning," she called it.) Not being fools, we of course said yes, that would be lovely. She got in on Wednesday, and after she was settled into her hotel, she came over for dinner (Chipotle) and visiting and a lot of being charmed by our kitties. She extracted a to-do list and various items to be wrangled from us and minioned away.

After doing a bunch of wedding stuff on Thursday morning (sorting music into playlists, updating the master plan, deciding grooman (grooms-humans) ordering), I managed to get into work on Thursday for about half a day, much of which was spent printing wedding stuff out. I zipped home around 4-ish, after Troy and Ron arrived at our house. They came to attend our wedding and stayed in our guest room. It might seem like overload (or madness) to have houseguests at the same time as the wedding, but it was actually quite nice to have them here. They're very low-maintenance friends with whom we can do lots of companionable quiet hanging out, and it was good to have extra people around who were not totally focused on WEDDING. Plus we were able to do things like tasking them with picking out dessert (fruit, sorbet, and non-dairy ice cream) suitable for people who can't eat cake, and bringing along things we had left at home. And they cooked breakfast for us on Friday & Saturday.

Friday was wedding prep like mad, dealing with the last things on our lists, frantically writing up and printing things out, and then at 4:30 all three-plus dozen of our groomans, parents, and their extras showed up at NCAR and we had the rehearsal. And pretty much everything was finished! At some point that evening, I realized: that was the hard part. All of our hard work was now finished, we had handed it off to our trusted friends, and now all we had to do was show up, look pretty, and say "I do". (The next day, as we were getting all gussied-up, Jerry and I remarked to one another that it was a little unnerving the scope of the event that we had put into motion and that we had now completely ceded all control of.) We had dinner (44 people!) at Yak & Yeti, which everyone enjoyed and complimented us on. (And which was quite affordable, considering.)

Saturday was the wedding! It went excellently. Heading out for dinner afterwards, Troy & Ron asked if they could take us out someplace nice and we said "not tonight!" because we were totally exhausted. We had Smashburger again since it's an easy gluten- and dairy-free (for them) / low-carb (for me) option that could be ordered with no functioning braincells left.

Sunday morning Jerry and I went to dim sum at Star Kitchen with nearly a full horde of TEPs (Bats Sarah Bird Death Rawhide Quincy Ronco Seppo Bradley Probe Becca Sophie Antee Jean et al.). We took up two tables and stuffed ourselves. Rebar & Christie also dropped by to say hello, hooray! Afterwards we brought the minivan full of wedding stuff home, then took Troy & Ron to the Butterfly Pavilion. The nature trails out behind the building are a good place to see prairie dogs up close, which are something I always forget that visitors will enjoy. Also there was a lot of downtime and recovery and just hanging out, which was lovely and delightful.

Yesterday we finished off their vacation time with a trip to Red Rocks, which reminded me just how pretty a venue it is and that I need to go see a show there again sometime. We ran into Kate there, who was also showing out of town visitors the sights! We dropped by Jason H's place while we were down on that end of town to pick up leftover cake (less than a dozen slices!). That afternoon we went up to Puzzah at the Flatirons Crossing mall and did an alien-abduction themed escape room! It was fun, although I would characterize it as more of a puzzle room than an escape room. It has an automated soundtrack that guides you through a sequence of puzzles and adjusts their difficulty - but also sorta penalizes you, time-wise, by interrupting with clues and instructions. We beat it with about 7 minutes to spare and got through ALL the bonus puzzles, so we felt fairly accomplished. They treated us to dinner at Sushi Yume, finally getting that nice dinner in. All in all, a really wonderful set of visits above and beyond the main event.
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