Five Good Things for 11/4/2015

Five things I encountered today that were interesting, educational, beautiful, edifying or that I otherwise found to be…well, good. None of these are promotions and I do not receive any benefit from sharing them. I just like them.

Well, the warm season is officially over where I live. We had an unusually mild fall, with nearly every day in the high sixties or seventies, but as of five minutes ago, the extended summer is officially over. I picked the last of the tomatoes just in time for tonight’s frost and I don’t expect to see 60 again until spring. How’s the fall weather treating you all?

79971) Possibly the best movie of 2015, Pixar’s Inside Out, came out on DVD/BluRay yesterday. It’s sweet, funny, and if you have a child or ever were a child, pretty much guaranteed to make you cry. I can’t think of another movie that really deal with the complex emotions of any person so well, much less one that focused on those of a tween girl in such an empowering way. A good movie and an important one. And if you’re wondering how the five basic emotions portrayed in the movie might combine to form more complex feelings, Vox has this handy chart!

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Five Good Things for 10/15/2015

Five things I encountered today that were interesting, educational, beautiful, edifying or that I otherwise found to be…well, good. None of these are promotions and I do not receive any benefit from sharing them. I just like them.

1) Hater Free Wednesdays. Are you a comic fan who hasn’t always felt welcome in comic book stores or other nerdy spaces because of your gender, race, or sexual orientation? Or even just because of your lack of hardcore comic-book knowledge? This is a great resource cataloging comic-book stores that are safe and welcoming for geeks of all kinds. It’s how I found my local store, Black Cat Comics, where I’ve always felt totally at ease (it helps that there’s a really cool chick who works there and is incredibly helpful and welcoming to n00bs). Hater Free Wednesdays also documents stores that people have been made to feel unsafe in. And if you’re looking for a gaming store, check out Hater Free Saturdays.

2) Magnets! I knew it. Thor’s Hammer is nothing more than mere mortal trickery, as proved by this man who made a replica Mjolnir that only he can lift.

3) Pasta carbonara is one of my favorite foods. and I especially love this recipe which includes jalapenos and sweet corn for a southwestern spin on the dish. It is a little tricky to make the first time, but not as scary as it sounds. If you follow these excellent directions you will do just fine. This recipe is best if you can buy or make fresh pasta for it. And of course, use high quality bacon!

800px-Fall-tree-branch-leaves-along-river_-_Virginia_-_ForestWander4) In love with autumn? Now’s a great time to take a hike and enjoy the colors. National Parks Traveler has a roundup of some of the best fall hikes in the National Parks. If you live near or will be traveling to one of these parks, check one out. In my neck of the woods, the Alpine Pond trail at Cedar Breaks National Monument is really something to see, and I have very fond memories of Acadia National Park in the fall as a child. Not near a park? The Weather Channel has maps of foliage all over the country so you can still go see the colors at their peak.

Bee-apis5) Who doesn’t love pollinators? Wait, you don’t? Then take a moment to think about pretty much everything you like to eat and also all flowers. Go ahead, I’ll wait…

Okay. You do love pollinators, right? I knew it! Unfortunately we’re in a bit of a pollinator crisis at the moment but we can all help. Check out The Pollinator Partnership for why pollinators are important and how you can help (and beautify your neighborhood at the same time). There are planting guides as well as other resources to help our bees, moths, butterflies, and hummingbirds do their jobs.

Five Good Things for 10/14/2105

Five things I encountered today that were interesting, educational, beautiful, edifying or that I otherwise found to be…well, good. None of these are promotions and I do not receive any benefit from sharing them. I just like them.

1) This is a great video where cosplayers talk about catcalling and harassment at conventions. I wish they had spoken to more men, because it’s not just a problem for women, but I’m glad they at least included one guy at the end there. Remember, cosplay is not consent. The only time you should be hollering at cosplayer is to tell them respectfully that you like their costume or to ask for a picture. And then only if it’s really loud at the con, otherwise just use a normal tone of voice.

2) Naps. The verdict is in, naps are good. As someone with a highly disrupted sleep pattern, without naps I would probably just been a constant, REM-deprived hallucinatory state. Still not convinced that naps rock? Here’s a list of super-smart folks who swore by them. Now, go take a nap!

14724346448277451713) Io9’s list of ten audiobooks that are worth it just for the voice performances just added majorly to my to-listen list. They probably could have done a whole article just on books read by Tom Hiddleston – I’d had no idea he’d read so many. I often fall asleep listening to an audiobook so this list (and Tom’s dulcet tones) will ensure I have the sweetest of dreams.

HD-fw2006_c_pearsour4) I love seasonal cocktails and pears are their peak right now. I’m not talking about a store-bought pear that goes from hard to mealy in 2.5 seconds, but a pear right from the grower that’s juicy and sweet and tastes like fall. Try this recipe for a pear sour. If you can get your hands on some red pears, they add a nice taste and a pop of color to the recipe.

I+Know+My+Value+Tank+-+Jordandene5) I need this Agent Carter inspired tank in my life, as soon as possible. Agent Carter might be my favorite show on air, and this quote in particular really resonated with me. In fact, I have plans one day to meet Hayley Atwell and ask her to write out the phrase in her handwriting and then get it as a tattoo. That’s not too creepy-stalkerish, right? Jordan Dene’s webstore is more than worth poking around as well, she’s got lots of geeky-quote inspired apparel, from Game of Thrones to the X-Files.

Five Good Things for 10/12/2015

Five things I encountered today that were interesting, educational, beautiful, edifying or that I otherwise found to be…well, good. None of these are promotions and I do not receive any benefit from sharing them. I just like them.

1)  The fact that we still celebrate Columbus Day is Not Good. Columbus wasn’t just your average racist, brutal, totalitarian European conquerer. He was all that with an extra side of nasty. But what is good is that more and more people and places are rejecting Columbus in favor of celebrating the indigenous peoples of the Americas, past and present. Talk you to your community and leaders and officials about making a change in how we celebrate this day.

2) These apple roses2015-03-13 119 p look delicious, a sure to impress dessert for any fall potluck. I saw a recipe for a whole pie made of these I’ve been threatening to try, but this looks like a more manageable recipe to start with. I might make these today. Since I’m off for Indigenous Peoples Day.

3) It’s still a little warm here, but there’s finally a crispness in the air and some color on the mountains. If you can’t get out, check out this slideshow from National Geographic of autumn in the United States of America.

14442828379354)  Star Wars sandcastles! Japan is celebrating The Force Awakens with some really amazing themed sandcastles. The site is in Japanese but the pictures are the important thing!

5) Today’s xkcd comic, seasonally appropriate.

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Oh, Fall’s Your Favorite Season? How Original.

This has nothing do with those damn                                    lattes.

It’s not fall yet. Fall starts on September 23rd. It’s on the calendar. In fact, it’s still pretty ungodly hot outside (and often inside). The days are still long. I don’t have to go back to school nor do I have kids who go back to school. Nothing of any substance has changed in my life since August.

And yet… something is different. Maybe it’s the first hint of color on the dried out hills. Maybe it’s something in the smell of the air or the way it’s suddenly breezier than it’s been in months. Maybe it’s the bounty at the farm market screaming of harvest season. Whatever it is, I’m starting to feel like fall.

It’s my favorite season and September is my favorite month. I don’t know why. I do love summer, and when I was a child I’d spend the summers with my parents on these epic 6-12 week long rambling vacations where we’d travel all over the country and camp and hike and swim. Those are some of my best memories. But there was something about coming home after being away so long, seeing friends again and having something resembling a routine (until I got bored of it again). Something about starting school again and feeling like there were so many possibilities of what I could learn and who I could be.

The author, preparing for winter.

Whatever the reason, as soon as September comes, something starts stirring inside me. Maybe it’s just a nesting instinct. Like a pika, I know winter is coming and I need to make my home secure and stock it with food and warmth so I can safely ride out the cold months. But it’s also a creative instinct. I often start writing or crafting again. Making things, preserving things, cleaning things. I often have more energy and I start dreaming big dreams about my life and what I want to do.

Last night I made and canned ten jars of salsa and twenty of plum jam, and have been drawing up lists of of even more: pickled cauliflower, tomato sauce, pear-lavender jam, rose hip jelly, elderberry syrup, beer, hard cider, sauerkraut… I’ve started work on one of my long-neglected novels again. I’ve started exercising regularly again. I want to sew something, bake something, clean something, paint something.

An early symptom of fall madness.
An early symptom of fall madness.

The first whiff of autumn is like catnip for my soul, a much needed burst of joy just as summer is winding down. It usually manages to carry me into the holidays, with Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas providing their own unique diversions. The problem is when the celebrations are over and we settle into the deep part of winter, when it’s cold and dark and our air quality is poor, so the sky and land both take on a grey quality and vigorous exercise is not recommended.

That is the time of year I should be being creative. Long evenings, plenty of time to write books and knit sweaters and redecorate the kitchen. I always say I’m going to, but then the seasonal depression kicks in and in reality I spend those three to four months curled up on the couch watching TV and eating potatoes. Everything feels difficult. Nothing feels worth the trouble. All my plans evaporate and I spent my days and nights just waiting for spring to get here.

Is this just a fundamental trait that I have that’s never going to change? Should I just accept that fall will always be my most optimistic, productive season and that winter will be a season of… Netflix? Or it something I can change somehow? Will I one day be able to roll the enthusiasm of autumn into building something real on those long winter nights, or am I always doomed to repeat my seasonal pattern?

It’s hard to say. I like to think that there’s something different this year. That this is the year, I’ll make a substantive change in my life and how I do things, something I can build upon for longer than just a few short months while the leaves are turning. It certainly feels different, but then it always does.

I don’t know if this is the year I’ll escape the trap of winter, or if I should even try. For now I’m just going try and take advantage of my current pre-autumnal euphoria and do what I can. There is fruit to dry and a garden to hoe and stories to write. While I still can.