I’m taking a break from my software development books to explore some steampunk. I started with the pre-steampunk Steam Man of the Prairies. It was a decent adventure story.
After that I whipped through Mortal Engines by Philip Reeve. I really liked it, so I’ll continue with the series. At this rate it might be after I get back home. Vacations tend to distract me from my audiobooks. Anyway, Mortal Engines has the same kind of comfortable and inviting writing style I find in a lot of popular YA series I read. I’m not sure if YA authors do that on purpose or what, but it makes the stories easy to settle into. I like the idea of placing a steampunk world in the far future. It opens interesting possibilities, which Reeve takes advantage of. And toward the end, the story kept me guessing, and the final events left me curious how the rest of the series will follow up on them. 5/5.
Tuesday after work I had an adventure picking up the refill of my meds. They were on back-order with my pharmacy’s supplier, and I was leaving Thursday, so the pharmacist sent me to another one half an hour away. Meanwhile, I’d run into an old friend from church on the way into the store, so we talked while I worked out the refill mess. Then I gave him a ride home, talked some more, and picked up dinner on the way down to pick up my meds. By then it was around 10 pm. But the refill run was successful.
Thursday I left for Texas to visit my family. The trip down went smoothly except that the airport ride service I booked got my schedule wrong. They thought my ride was at 2 pm, which was an hour after my flight. Fortunately I only waited 10 minutes before calling to check on the ride. They sent a car soon after, and they gave me the ride for free. I still tipped the driver. I’ve used this service before, and I still think it’s a good one overall, but this incident makes me think I should look for one with a more automated booking system, especially since this one does their credit card transactions with PDFs over email, which makes me uneasy.
I was pretty tired on the flight, so I slept some, did a little work on my Christmas project, and sat in a daze the rest of the time. It made the flight pass pretty quickly. Also on the flight was a group of 15 kids from a Ukrainian orphan school. I sat next to the teacher and overheard her talking with some other passengers. If I’d been less tired, maybe I would have asked her about it. Judging from the “Welcome Dima” sign some people were holding at the baggage claim, I’m guessing the kids were spending Christmas with host families.
Since my family’s Christmas vacations last about a week, the traditions we’ve developed encompass more than just Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. For the most part our time together consists of meals at restaurants, a church service or two, and hanging around the house in-between those events. But there are a few other specific things I expect to happen.
Several of them took place on Friday. We had our family grocery shopping trip, which started last year and could easily become a tradition. Our mom consults us on the meals and, more importantly, desserts we want to have around Christmas, and then she divides the list, and we each take a department. This time I got the frozen foods. Dividing-and-conquering may or may not make the shopping faster.
Another tradition that happened on Friday was the Christmas tree decorating. This one begins with rotating and moving the large quilting table that has a permanent residence in the living room so there’s space in the corner for the tree. Our dad sets that up and brings out the large containers of Christmas decorations, and then with Christmas music in the background, my siblings and I sift through the ornaments and hang a bunch of them on the tree. This year’s music was from another of the Victorian playlists I’ve been listening to. I think we all got tired of the bar songs.
Once rotated, the quilting table becomes the puzzle table. That potential tradition started last year too. Last year’s puzzle was 1000 pieces and took a long time, a picturesque rural neighborhood Christmas scene. This year’s is 500 pieces of a densely illustrated map of Texas.
Saturday featured a couple of meal traditions. In the morning we had brunch at a breakfast place we visit every year. I had my usual French toast, which to be fair I get at practically any restaurant I have breakfast.
Dinner was our tamale tradition. We have homemade tamales my mom buys from a parent at the school she used to work at.
Ah, my Christmas project. Another annual tradition, my creative gift labels. It’s on track to be done late Christmas Eve, as usual, when I’d hoped to be finished two weeks before my vacation. Oh well, maybe next year will be the year I beat fate. At least I’ve learned to expect the late night, so I can basically take it in stride.