A sunset photo

March 31, 2007

Gorgeous loveliness at the end of the street, courtesy of Kevin and his digital camera...

Oooh! I love all of the clouds on the horizon, pretending to be mountains. It kept looking like the Olympics were poking through, and then you'd look again only to realize the clouds had shifted into new positions.


The New Sometimes Commute

March 29, 2007

I love this picture. Seattle's winter weather starts to grate, sometimes. The clouds are so deep, the light is so grey -- it's just a leaden landscape. The mountains are hidden, and it's dark too early to see the huge pine trees on the side of the road on the way home. But then they moved daylight savings time up this year, and I've been able to see the summer coming a few wonderful weeks early -- we have warm weather and light evenings, so I've started ditching the car and walking home from work. The way home is easy and lovely -- four miles, nearly all downhill. Reversing in the morning is a little tougher. :-)

It figures, though that the day I bring the camera, the typical thick winter gray would return. Here's the view from the 405 pedestrian overpass at eight in the morning. It's a straight uphill walk from the lake, and then you climb up a two- or three-storey ramp to get to this point, so it's just way, way above everything. The clouds are practically at eye-level. You can just barely see the Olympic mountains peeking through at the horizon to the right of the pine trees. Gorgeous. The favour of a glimpse of the mountains is worth the gray to me.

From way up high on the ramp, I also got to see the upper limbs of the massive tree alongside it. The branches were budding, but the impressive sight was that they are covered with a thick moss. When you consider that this tree is totally open to the sky in four directions, it really throws into relief what a dark, wet climate this is during the winter months.

The walk is interesting. Rather than 520 or the back way that's recently been slow due to construction, the "road" looked like this.

The public trail cuts in between backyard fences, and for a long portion, it cuts past all of the horse pastures in Bridle Trails. The path is a bit muddy, and so the hoof prints are very easy to pick out. I haven't come across any riders yet, just the tracks.

A pretty pink project

March 25, 2007

Ages ago in Boston, I bought three colors of cotton classic. At the time I was thinking a scarf, but with only 324 yards, and my preference for wide scarves, it just didn't seem like enough. By the time I'd done the math, I could no longer find the colors, and so they've been sitting, wound and waiting for new ideas.

After seeing some lovely entrelac, I decided to give fingerless gloves a shot. I've been playing all weekend. My first try was torn out because I hadn't understood the need for even numbers of stitches in the squares. (If the squares are odd, you'd have to cut the yarn at the end of each square instead of at the end of each row. Got it.) My second try was way too large. And my third try, while lovely, will be ripped after pictures because these would be gloves for monster hands. They're about 9" in diameter, and they need to be 7". While I'm starting over anyway, I'm mulling over casting on in the round. I would still have to have knit and purl sides, I think, but it would eliminate the side triangles and the seam.

Here's take three, nestled in amidst the blooming periwinkle. :-)

And while I love that picture, the colors weren't accurate, so here's a sunny closeup. The medium pink is a dusty rose (not lavendar), and the light color is a pearly pink.


The yarn clashes

I'd been all excited about using the extra ball of Rowan Cotton Glace from the baby sweater to make a pair of Fetching gloves. I showed up at knitting on Wednesday with the pattern, the yarn, and the needles (a minor victory in organization). But, I was promptly foiled when I tried to find the end of the yarn to cast on. Someone had snipped off about ten sections, each between a few inches and a few feet long, and then painstakingly re-wrapped the snipped bits and tucked the ends back into the middle. So aggravating.

So, since the pattern appears to call for just about every inch (and since I felt sort of ripped off), I went back to the yarn store to exchange the ball for new yarn. I was expecting a battle despite the receipt, but they were great about the exchange -- sweet!

So here's the new ball, basking in the sun (yay!!), next to my frilly tulips.



March 20, 2007

All of a sudden, on Saint Patricks day, I realized that I'd hit the decreases for my second sock. Crazy! Here's (finally!) a good shot of the color, with one row to go.

And a shot of the picot edge, lace ribbing, and the interlocking double diamond lace:

So, I finished, sewed in the ends, and dunked them. Since I don't have sock blockers, here they are blocking on a towel:

I'm convinced that I should have used size 0 needles instead of 2s. I'd gone down a size from the recommended 3s, but it really wasn't enough. Not only is the fabric loose, but they are quite large. They look like they would fit well over my slippers, instead of under them. I'll have to assess once they're dry. Is it possible to shrink things knit with sock yarn?


Not exactly what we had in mind...

March 18, 2007

We've been all stymied trying to find a wedding band for Kevin -- everything in the stores is very, for lack of a better word, complicated. Mixes of metals, braids, leopard-print, diamonds... The "just a plain ring" concept turns out to be hard to find. Anyone have Seattle-area recommendations?

Because otherwise, we're resorting to this: the internet, and post-it notes cut down to size...


More Tank Adventures

March 16, 2007

Something has been irritating our purple zoos for about two months now. They haven't opened at all since then, and I have no idea what might be wrong. It doesn't look like anything's eating them, and they're getting good current and light. So, chemical warfare with another coral? (Like maybe the amazing blue acro right up top? It's been growing like mad recently. Or maybe the torch coral? We moved the leather away, but that didn't seem to make any difference.) It's so frustrating not to have the slightest idea what the problem is, especially where all of the other zoos are all happy and open.

In other tank mysteries, we've been finding bits of mystery crabs in our tank all week. The tally had been two pincers and a leg, and then I found a whole crab! Geez!

The last time anything new was added to our tank was over a year ago -- the ricordia was a "new job" purchase in January 2006, but it didn't come on a rock. Best guess, this crab has been in our tank for at least a year and a half. How crazy.

The front view is even more ridiculous. How enormous is that claw?

My question is how many more of these guys we have in there. Given the multiple claws pulled out in the last week, it seems like we're not in the clear.

The red-speckled leg is another mystery, as it doesn't match any of the known inhabitants. I'm hoping that maybe it was a blue hermit crab, and all of the blue faded? If not, we have another huge dude in there somewhere, running around on seven legs.


So little

March 11, 2007

I hadn't posted the finished sweater because I wanted to gift it first. The recipient put on a growth spurt, and passed four pounds, so I was pretty certain it would no longer fit. I almost didn't even both to gift it, assuming it would now be too small, so I was a bit shocked when the parents exclaimed that it would still be so big on her. Seems pretty teeny to me!

Given a do-over, I would have used acrylic instead of cotton, or found a floppier cotton. This is more structured than cuddly -- not quite what I was hoping for. The yarn is Rowan's Cotton Glace (color #747), and while it was great to knit with, it's just too sturdy for an item this teeny. Good to know.

I'm also pretty iffy on the button. My original thought was to use velcro, but I felt like it would destroy the sweater in the wash. I had a hard time finding guidance for knitting preemie clothes online, but one recommendation that seemed to recur was to use 1/2" round buttons, since they're easiest for the NICU nurses to quickly manipulate. The same site advised against metal closures, since they can get hot under the lights. This button fits those guidelines, matches the ribbon, and is a bit cute with the flowers, but it just isn't growing on me. Such an "almost-but-not-quite" ending.

A bright note: Since this only took 4/5ths of the first ball of yarn I bought, I'm thinking of making a pretty, spring pair of these dudes with the leftovers!

First Grilling of the Season

March 10, 2007

Must be (almost!) spring!

Crocus watch

March 09, 2007

On the way to the airport for my Boston/Providence trip, I put Kevin on crocus watch. The flowers hadn't opened yet, and I just knew that they were yellow inside, and I didn't want *both* of us to miss them.

He had been out on the back deck dutifully taking pictures every morning before work, and they still hadn't opened. Then on Wednesday morning there was pelting rain, and by the time I got home from the airport at 4:00, this was the sight that met me.

Oh, no! The exciting news is that apparently I had more than one set of bulbs in there! I have no idea where the while pair came from (though I have vague recollections of an unsuccessful attempt at forcing crocuses in year one. Perhaps they got good growing vibes this year? Kevin said that they hadn't been there seven hours earlier, and his photos confirm it. I love crocuses.

In other outdoor plant news, the mini daffodils are still blooming like mad, and keep shooting up more buds. They're wonderful.

And of the birthday plants that Kevin gave me last year (they got lost a bit in the excitement of the ring that showed up five minutes later), several of them made it through our unusually harsh winter and have been sending up shoots. One of the most exciting to me is the periwinkle. (aka Vinca Minor, and I've also heard it called myrtle. I've been reading more about it -- doesn't the Variegata sound gorgeous? And the Sterling Silver?) We had a bunch on the edge of the woods by our house when I was growing up that would bloom around Mothers Day. It's very popular here, and blooms just as the clouds are starting to lose their intensity. And not only did mine come back, but there are buds everywhere!


Trips and Weddings

March 08, 2007

Brown had a career fair and with a week to go, Microsoft sent out a call for alums who could attend (ie, who could get sign off from their teams and their significant others on such short notice). With the prospect of a trip to Providence, I sent out empassioned emails to both crowds, and was added as an excited member of the group. I was upfront: Brown is always great (and my brother is a senior!), and aiding the college recruiting program is a high priority. But (!), this trip also meant that I finally got to (1) see relatives who I haven't seen since we announced our engagement and was not expecting to see until the wedding week, and (2) got to see all of the professional wedding people who I haven't seen since we announced our engagement and was not expecting to see until the wedding week.

We're getting married in less than three months outside of Boston, we live in Seattle, and our parents and siblings all live out of state. The chance to get to talk to the florist, caterer/reception hall, cake people, and most of all the minister was so, so wonderful. I haven't droned on in this blog about wedding prep, though it's been a constant diversion since August. Most of the decisions and plans have been very intimidating to me. In a "Forge On!" frame of mind, we've actually gotten a lot done, but the whole process has stretched me far beyond my typical self-image and comfort areas. I've had a hard time envisioning the day.

So, again, I was so delighted to be flown back to MA/RI. They'll let you fly early if you pick up the non-work expenses, so I red-eyed out on Friday evening on the inimitable JetBlue. In what I assumed was a ploy to win people back, they had rental car deals where you could rent for 3 days for just over $50 including tax. Wow! It a sleep-dazed state, I arrived at the lot full of SUVs and PT Cruisers, and signed on for my car. I wasn't expecting a lean machine, but none-the-less was properly impressed at the caliber of vehicle I was assigned. The entire thing weighed about 200 pounds, and looked like someone had just chopped the back of a normal sedan off, and paper-macheed it shut. On the plus side, it was light, so it got great gas mileage.

Saturday, I drove from Logan to Concord (my aunt let me stay with her, and, blessedly, shower), Concord to Milton, Milton to Northboro, and back to Concord, which was almost 200 miles on very little sleep. Since my commute to work is just under five miles, this impressed me.

Here's the little BzzmBzzm rental outside the cake place.

Like the snow? :-) And look how teeny those tires are! Craziness!

The good news is that now I'm all on a cloud of how lovely all of this will be. I can finally picture it. It will have to be a future post, but wow. :-)


South Station

March 07, 2007

My senior year at Brown, I was dating Kevin at MIT. Aside from the emails and IMs and phone calls that are the crutch of any long-ish distance relationship, we saw each other most weekends. He had a car, and I had the Boston commuter rail and the T. On my weekends, I'd go flying out of TA hours on Friday, back to the dorm, pack a bag, and run down the hill to the train, which I always made with about a second to spare.

Coming home was equally hectic, since I'd always wait till the last minute (are you sensing a trend?), leave Kevin's house late, and then put my faith in a faster-than-possible walk and an on-time red-line train, before racing through the South Station construction to get on the train down to Providence. When I graduated and had cause to take the commuter rail, I always left from Back Bay, so I haven't been in South Station since. It was fun to see it finished (though I missed the person selling flowers next to the huge expanse of plywood downstairs). Some places just stand as pillars of your past. Even better, just as I showed up, it started snowing. The sky was still all sunny, and the flakes were huge. If you look in the upper right corner of the picture you can see them against the brick.

I love Seattle, and it's always felt like home to me, but every now and then I just deeply miss belonging in Boston. It was good to be home.

More coral updates

March 02, 2007

Kevin and I have been amazed at the growth we've been seeing in our SPS corals in the last few months. Nothing has changed -- we've been dosing kalkwasser at the same rate, and our lights, if anything, have grown dimmer, but they look so happy.

Here's the blue acro.

All of the blue, with brown mouths, that's showing up in the photo is new growth. How amazing, hmm? The bleached white portion after the storm has grown back, and the guy just keeps growing -- I'm shocked each day how much longer he's become.

(Below, you can see all of the closed purple zoos. We have no idea what the problem is, but they haven't opened in weeks. It's a colony of about 70, so the issue is major, but tweaking flow, light, and nearby corals doesn't seem to have any effect. We're at a loss.)

The pink monti is equally impressive. He's growing out as well as up. (You can see a piece that broke off in the lower left, and the yellow montipora plate coral in the background) The light pink portions at the tips are the newest growth.

I manage to hit into him all the time and snap off limbs when I'm cleaning the tank. This 3" frag was one result, but he's been growning well since.

Tank update

March 01, 2007

My favourite rock in the tank is covered in purple coraline algae, orange zoos, sunflower zoos, and the gorgeous ricordia I bought when I got my new job, and which has since spread like mad.

When we originally bought the orange zoos, they came with a big (1 1/2") brown and white striped starfish. Starfishes can spread asexually, and at this point we have well over 25 in our tank. They're light-shy, and so you rarely see their bodies. Random legs sticking out of holes in the rock or from behind a coral are a much more common sight. Here's a photo with Clack and a hermit crab for scale (the crab's shell is 3/4"). And at the edge of the rock, you can see brown and white legs waving in the current.

But usually the starfish are hard to see. I came home to find out that had three legs emerging from one hole, and a fourth from another, at the front of the ricordia rock.

How neat.