Stuff and Nonsense


February 2020 Reads

The Light Brigade by Kameron Hurley
In a war between the corporate states of earth and the humans of Mars, armies of the poor are recruited and modified to transform into "light" which allows them to be beamed to the frontlines. Then one infantryman finds herself returning from missions with experiences very different from those of her platoon ...

The Light Brigade raised some interesting ideas about late-stage capitalism, fake news, fear, and individuality, but their treatment was frequently heavy-handed. Still, a highly readable combination of violence and philosophy.

We Who Are About To... by Joanna Russ [hoopla digital]
Eight space travelers become stranded on an uncharted planet. Seven survivors fantasize about colonizing the planet, creating their own society complete with babies. However, our narrator is quick to realize survival is not possible for any of them and that the only real choice is death. This certainty alienates the other survivors, who are simply not prepared to hear it, setting in motion a dangerous conflict.

We Who Are About To... is a well-written, ultimately satisfying tale which raises interesting questions about paternalism, imperialism, autonomy, and dying.

The Bird House by Kelly Simmons
Nonlinear story of elderly widow Ann Biddle, the secrets of her past, and their impact on her present relationships.

Ann was an absolute firecracker and I enjoyed her developing relationship with her young granddaughter. The nonlinear narrative was a good choice and held my attention effectively. However, Ann's dementia felt unreal -- like a poor attempt to inject additional drama. Overall, a melancholy read about aging, secrets, and intrafamilial struggles.


2020 Connecticut Flower & Garden Show

The Connecticut Flower and Garden Show in Hartford is something I look forward to every February. Even though I don't attend every show, the photos it generates are a godsend in the middle of winter blahness. Over three acres of beautifully landscaped gardens, horticultural displays, and vendors transform the Connecticut Convention Center into a gardener's paradise. The themed gardens are just so much gardeninspo, filling my head with fantasies about my new yard.

If all that's not enough for you, the show also offers a daily series of talks and workshops. As large crowds in enclosed spaces tends to trigger my anxieties (working on it), I used the talks as an opportunity to create a little breathing space for myself.

I attended three talks:

Grow a Pollinator Garden with award winning, nationally recognized garden writer Charlie Nardozzi

Every Yard Matters: How to Create a Healthy Monarch Butterfly Habitat at Home with Diane St. John of Natureworks Garden Center

Wild Flowers with Owen McLaughlin, landscape architect and founder of

And purchased three books from the UCONN Hartford campus bookstore's gardening and local interest display:

New England Bird Lover's Garden: Attracting Birds With Plants and Flowers by Randi Minetor

Northeastern Birds Backyard Guide by Bill Thompson III

Native Plants for New England Gardens by Mark Richardson and Dan Jaffe

Do you see a theme?


Dream Kitchen, Where Are You

I said: I enjoy cooking and need a functional kitchen that is also classically attractive. Preferably with smoky blue cabinets and lots of easy-to-reach under counter storage.

What I meant: I enjoy cooking and have very exacting ideas about what a functional and accessible kitchen means to me, but will not be able to articulate them to your satisfaction.

What the kitchen designer heard: My customer desires an on-trend kitchen with lots of storage.

I think we're mostly at cross-purposes, the kitchen designer and I. She's set on creating an Instagram Top Post-worthy kitchen for me with beautiful cabinets and cunning storage. I want a kitchen with cunning storage that allows me to use a step stool 95% less often. She has created a kitchen that is the unique style center of the home. I want a kitchen that is the heart of the home.

We've been back and forth with the design and, while it's slowly moving in the right direction, I'm not sure it's ever going to get to dream kitchen status. I ... want to let my designer go? I am now one of those people who not only hire kitchen designers, but fire them as well? I'm a diva?

Anyway, this is the most current design with all of my changes made to it. Click to embiggen.