Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Work It!

So today I got my first paycheck since October. It was a relief. The job is not my favorite, I am epically overqualified but until I find something that uses all my skills it is sure better than nothing. I get to go to malls and offices and model homes and all different places like that and take care of the plants. We bring new orchids when the old ones are done blooming and make sure everything is pretty and healthy and shiny. So I get to drive to all different places and meet new people every day and be active and busy and walking around a lot. And now I don't have to apply to the cheesy $10/hour Part Time Administrative Assistant jobs just so I can feel like I am making an effort. I am making an effort, so I can just apply to cool lab jobs and eventually I will find the right one.

But I don't love getting up at 6:15 every morning when Matt gets to sleep in. Waah. He also may have talked himself into a job at a super fancy boutique local guitar shop. I don't know how he does it, he just has a knack. I need to get him to work some of his mojo on my lab cover letters.

Also, here are some pretty pictures from my last Friday at Filoli with my mom before I rejoined the working world. It was apparently my day for peachy flowers. Isn't that last zinnia amazing with the color gradient? I couldn't do justice to most of the dahlias and roses but I am sure getting tempted to plant some! I am mostly all low-water and pro-natives but they sure are purty. Such inner turmoil!

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Recommendation Roundup

So I have been collecting recommendations for authors on the lines of Dorothy Sayers and Josephine Tey. Last week I went to the library and got a stack of books for my trip. So here is the short version:

Ngaio Marsh - Final Curtain
I had never heard of her stuff, and I really enjoyed this one. Very thorough on the characterization and there were fun and sympathetic characters while the plot wasn't totally implausible. I will be looking for more of her stuff. It may not be representative, as the first half is told from the perspective of the Detective-Inspector's wife and I don't know if she ever shows up again, but she is a particularly enjoyable character.

Margery Allingham - Black Plumes
This was the darkest in tone and there was a complete dearth of sympathetic characters. It was a little dated, but my real problem was there were just too many miserable, uninteresting or unbelievable people and I thought the twist at the end was a little too out-of-the-blue. I may try a different one before I write her off completely, but so far I have to say she may just not be my style. 

Patricia Wentworth - The Ivory Dagger
I am trying not to hold it against her that in her first book that I grabbed, the butler did it. But there were well-drawn characters and an interesting story and I liked the combo of Miss Silver and Inspector Abbott. It is a little fluffier than the others and everyone ends up happily ever after (other than the murderer, and the murder-ee) but not too twee to be enjoyable.

Alan Bradley - The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie
Flavia de Luce started out as an irritating character, but she has definitely grown on me. As a modern comparison to these older writers, this stood up well. It is similar in tone, and the overly descriptive writing sometimes gets wearing, but the characters are written well enough for me to give the next book a shot.

And now my mom wants to give me some Simenon. We'll see how he stacks up. 

Also, as a logophile, I am trying to arrest the decline of my vocabulary as I get farther away from all of my English classes. Here are the new words I collected from the most recent batch:

rubicund - of a reddish color; ruddy; rosy

epergne - a large table centerpiece consisting of a frame with extended arms or branches supporting holders, as for flowers, fruit, or sweetmeats

verjuice - the acid juice of unripe grapes, apples, or crab apples, formerly much used in making sauces, etc.

tumulus - the mound of earth placed over a tomb

All definitions from here. Not the most useful batch this time, but enjoyable all the same. And spellcheck hates them all.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

So Far, So Good

We went back to Reno this week. It was interesting. We called the renter and left him a message telling him we were coming by the house the next day. This is reasonable as the lease only requires 24 hours notice. Then apparently he sat on his phone and called me with his butt, as I was treated to part of a conversation between him and one of his kids explaining that someone had better be there, and if nobody was there we were likely to open the doors of their rooms and see the litter box.

There is no cat on the lease.

Then he actually called me and we had a nice chat about the state of the garden and the sprinklers. We told him we wanted to come check on the yard etc. and Matt wanted to change the air filter in the A/C and the water filter under the kitchen sink. He was gone camping all weekend with the dog, but conveniently, there would be a kid there.

So we go.

The house is pristine. You couldn't tell there was a dog living there, let alone a cat. It looks like they shampooed the carpets that week. In fact, it looks like they just moved in and WE shampooed the carpets last week.

Keep in mind, this is a single dad with two sons, a dog and a theoretical cat. And our cream-colored carpet. And they have been living there since April.

I think we scored in the renter department. It's so nice when something goes really really right. Also, they seem to be aware of what is going on in the garden. There looked like there had been a hurried cleanup but when he said on the phone that the sprinklers were all working, he knew what he was talking about. And there was a weird wet spring with a lot of late snow and most of the plants survived (which is awesome, considering we turned the sprinklers on in April too). So I did some pruning and cleanup so they wouldn't have to, and so if they did they could tell the weeds from the ground covers.

But the doors to the kids rooms were both shut. I think we will cross our fingers and try to keep away from the gift horse's mouth for now.
Also, somebody made Ikea instructions on how to build your own TARDIS. I love it.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

And I Don't Even Like Nirvana

Some people say electric cellos are cheating. I say, as long as they don't have pedals and effects, I am still in. Also, shaggy lead cello dude? You are adorable.

Normally I hate cover bands. But I love me some cello rock, apparently. That Welcome to the Jungle vid cracks me up.

And just for some cred. This is also gorgeous. And not a pop song. At least, not from this century.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Rereading Elderly British Mystery Novels Is Good For The Vocabulary

pertinacity - persistence

intransigent - uncompromising, inflexible

infra dig - below one's dignity

compunction - guilt, moral scruple felt after doing something bad

callow - inexperienced, immature

serried - crowded or pressed together, esp. in rows

The last two I was shaky on but the first four I flat out went and looked up. I had a much better vocabulary when I was in school. Somehow Dorothy Sayers and Josephine Tey go together well. Some research shows that they were born three years apart and Sayers only had a couple of years head start on the mystery novel writing game, I wonder why I always assumed Tey was of a later era? Maybe Lord Peter will just never be a modern character to me. It may also be his trappings of old-fashioned English aristocracy. There is nothing old-fashioned about Inspector Grant, and I am almost as fond of him as I am of Lord Peter.

Any other fun brainy mystery-writing ladies I should be reading? Also, is it interesting or just a sign of their times that both of these ladies had male protagonists to solve their mysteries? Barring Miss Climpson, of course.