New dude: a shrimp!

April 28, 2007

I should have posted this two weeks ago. After about five months of a clown-only tank, we finally went to the fish store to pick up a new dude. We got him home and he hid behind the torch coral for the first four days. We finally stopped coddling him by feeding him where he was and started luring him out, and now he's taken up residence on the underside of the overflow box.

Every now and then he swings around and I can get a better shot. He's still a bit freaked by the flash, so I haven't persisted, even though these are still only moderate.

The clowns are intrigued. The old shrimp used to hang out with them, and this one is much smaller, which they seem to appreciate. However, he stays near the top of the tank, and they don't spend too much time at the surface unless they're eating. They've mustered the courage to get close enough for the shrimp to do a quick cleaning a few times. We ought to start feeding him lower and then maybe he'd start hanging out on the rocks where the fish could reach him?



April 26, 2007

The "new" chair in use!

Kevin accumulated a slew of comp time during the last few months, and has been using two weeks of it for a well-earned vacation before starting his new job. :-) It's nice to have him around.

I miss college

April 24, 2007

I was blog-cruising through knitter sites, clicked on an odd mini-banner link, and ended up at the "Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster" -- an pro-evolution site aimed at all of the hoopla in Kansas in 2005. (The pirate portion of the debate amused me. Yarr. Love the x-axis values.) The site has been kept up to date, and there was a post from exactly a month ago that had a video of a lecture on (the flaws of) Intelligent Design by a Brown professor, Kenneth Miller. It's almost two hours long (and the questions are as interesting as the lecture). If you want something to entertain you as you knit, I recommend it highly.

I have a terrible guilt complex when it comes to biology. The last course I took was as a freshman in high school. My sister graduated with a college degree in it; I'm marrying someone who earned a minor in it and earned his masters in a bio lab. I wish that I'd taken at the very least the freshman bio weed-out course (taught by the aforementioned Prof. Miller), so that I could at least pretend to keep up with either of them. But I didn't, and while I may know, thanks to Kevin, way more about maps of proteins than would be expected, I regretfully admit that most of my bio knowledge comes from news snippets and political debate.

The lecture captured on youtube is all interesting to me because it's personally timely -- Kenneth Miller is coming to town this weekend to talk to the alums. Neat! But I also wonder -- if his guest lectures are up on youtube, what else might be? It certainly deserves more investigation. I was listening to him talk, and remembered that this sort of mind-expansion was a twice daily luxury in college (not to mention the rest of the day, where socializing was equivalent to the Q&A session)... Brown was so interesting. I miss learning. There were so many perspectives in college, and so many experts (some real, some self-imagined). My view of the world deepened by the week, and I was always reading or hearing something that took what I knew and would spin it completely around. There were informed opinions from every side. Now, very few things upend all of my theories. New bits of information change my opinions marginally. I gravitate towards what I already know, and assume that I have a framework that new knowledge will mesh into. The stability is nice: a sign of independence/confidence/calm. Too bad that the lecture's made me think that it would be nice to be overwhelmed with totally new ideas again. :-)

p.s. I enjoyed the response to the final question in the video, given all of the recent Gonzales trials, etc. Uplifting.

p.p.s. I'm generally totally opposed to posts without pictures. So, here's what I knit while I listened to Kenneth Miller and pondered the post-college picture: a few rows of Fetching from knitty, using the extra ball of yarn from the premie sweater. :-)


Container gardening!

April 20, 2007

I did warn you that the last post was one of many. While my parents were here, we actually got to use the deck, and I remembered what a nice space it is. It didn't take too, too many days before the project bug bit, and I wheeled the bikes into the living room so that I could reclaim the space, bought planters, soil and dirt and went to work. :-)

I actually drew out a plan before I started, which was unusual given my normal gardening style, which generally consists of impulse purchases.

(The original plan was on a post-it, but I had airport time and so I made it more computerish.)

I have an entire planter of strawberries, instead of the single plant from last year. (You'll see a few crocus leaves, too.) I pinched off the first buds on the new plants, which is always hard to me, but I'm going to let them keep any that they put out going forward. There's already been a good spittle bug showing, but this year I know to pull them off right away.

Most of Kevin's planters from my birthday last year made it though the winter, but one completely died back. I bought geraniums, a mystery pretty pink thing, and pansies, and now it's a riot of color.

I bought two starts of lavender to go with my rapidly growing irises. They're teeny now, but I'm hoping with the big pots, they'll be happy.

I'd bought lavender the first summer we were out here, and it's looked more and more pathetic. This winter, I'd finally given it up for dead. I waiting to dig it out, though, and was so pleased when I was about to and instead discovered this!

Green? It lives!
The plants all look so pretty against the red tree. :-)


Fun Visitors

April 19, 2007

My dad just switched jobs, and within a fortnight of starting managed to get on a trip out to Seattle for a conference. Yeah! The last time that he and Mom were out here was October 2004, which is sort of mindboggling. I was midway through my half-year vacation, our fishtank was just set up with rocks, but no fish, Kevin was still five months away from the Mustang, and the apartment was laid out totally differently. Now, we're both two jobs down the line, we're mere weeks away from our wedding (shocking, but yay!), and everything's just settled. It was so fun to have them here.

The weather almost cooperated -- we had glimmers of mountains and a few hours of sun. Better than it could have been. We didn't do much of the touristy bit this trip. We spent a few hours on Saturday driving through the neighbourhoods that Kevin and I would consider buying in, which was good fun. We walked to the center of town for free cone day. My dad got fitted for his tux for the wedding, which made me grin. We'll look great for our walk together down the aisle. :-)

Here's Dad -- we enjoyed the sunlight in the room upstairs on Saturday, which shone through even though it was raining outside.

And here's Mom, taking a tour in the crinoline:

My dress was shipped from the shop in Florida so that I could get it fitted out here, and it arrived just a few days before my parents did. I can't get into it by myself -- too many layers of delicate fabric, not to mention the laces, zippers and buttons -- and so it was so fun to finally get to try it on.

New plants!

April 17, 2007

I got home late, after stopping for seedlings and new pots... More tomorrow, but here's the preview. :-)


The first of many garden posts

April 16, 2007

I've been totally gardening obsessed recently. Last summer, I sort of petered out, because I hoped we would buy a house and then I'd have a real yard to play with, and herb, vegetable and flower gardens galore. Assorted things (mostly timing with the wedding, really) have put a crimp in the house plans, so we're still renting. I love our apartment, so it's kind of hard to mind, but given that the front deck only gets 3 hours of morning light and the back gets the same in the afternoon, it makes gardening feel a little more challenging. Since my parents were coming, though, I decided to take the mini daffodils out of the big planter and put them in their own pot, and redo the spaces in the front planter.

The tall plant in the back is the evergreen Phormium Tenax (also called New Zealand Flax), which has been acting pathetic over the winter. I think it needs more light. More water makes it look even more dreadful, so I've been trying to dry it out. I planted a bright red geranium in the middle, and then in clockwise order around the outside, there's (new) bacopa, Elephant Ears (another evergreen, and still here from when I originally did the planter), the red snapdragons from last summer, some sort of variegated ivy that I've long lost the name of (another original), and new white impatiens that haven't flowered yet.

Moving to the next pot, I also have a $4 Easter Lily -- I bought it on sale after Easter Sunday, but it hadn't bloomed yet. There are 7 blooms sitting there, and I love the smell. So wonderful. The bottom leaves are a bit yellow and pathetic, but I think that was mostly due to over watering at the store. I've moved it to the back porch now, in hopes that it will get better light.

The daffodils are the last pot. They're all shaggy and floppy, but I don't begrudge them the space -- they're so green.

Clack from the back

April 15, 2007

He's almost impossible to photograph from this vantage point, because he finds the camera fascinating. Nonetheless, when I try to photograph his face, he obliges with his tail.


A tad overenthusiastic

April 14, 2007

The townhouse we live in has great, green landscaping. It's not really a reason that we chose it, but there are constantly people working outside and it tends to look quite pretty. It was so unfortunate, then, that the garden people chose the day before my parents arrived (for their first visit out here in two and a half years!!) to demolish the pretty tropical evergreens (maybe New Zealand Flax?), and to prune the poor pines within an inch of their lives. Here's the shocking view outside the front door:

And another shot of the destruction:

I'm afraid that it seems to be catching... the trees across the street have looked like this for a few weeks -- trimmed to a fifth of their prior glory.

Poor things.

New Cool Tools

April 13, 2007

No more fingers and using old seedling pots for shovels: I bought gardening tools!

I love the wood handles. Pretty and comfy.



April 12, 2007

Our wedding invitations finally arrived, and I'm smitten with them. My parents humoured my whims, and so Kevin and I chose dramatic three-layer invitations (a dark purple backing, a shimmery lavendar middle layer,and a cream top layer), with a ribbon, double envelopes, and shimmery lavendar envelope linings. They're everything I was hoping for.

Aside from the ribbons, and heavy paper, and the colors, one of my favourite parts in the reply card -- we centered the accepts/regrets on a single, symmetrical line. It's been making me happy for every envelope I've addressed.

Assembling the envelopes was daunting, especially since my etiquette books devote about 30 pages to correctness in this area. Woah. Instructions read along the lines of "The reply envelope is placed face down on the reception card. The reply card is slipped face up beneath the flap of the reply envelope." Challenging to my brain's visualization. Or, further, "The invitation and its enclosures are placed into the inside envelope with the base of the invitation at the bottom of the envelope and the engraving facing the back of the envelope. The invitation is then placed into the inside envelope with the fold toward the bottom of the envelope. Once stuffed, the inside envelopes are inserted into the outside envelopes. The front of the inside envelope faces the back of the outside envelope." My poor, feeble, verbally-challenged brain parses these as "the inside goes on the outside, facing forward, face down, and then turned". Obviously, these aren't quite marching orders.

So, you can imagine my deep relief when I found all of this in picture form. I just have to follow the directions for diagram three, and then we're all good to go. A huge relief. Thank you, internet.

Assembling and addressing all of them has made for a series of deeply enjoyable evenings. The invitations are so beautiful, and the paper is rich, I bought a great pen, and so the whole thing is a pleasure. Even better, each time I get to a new name on the list, I keep thinking that I should enclose a little extra note, just so that they know how much I hope they can come. A "You *really* matter to me -- I hope you can make it." It's just neat to realize how many people, and who, matter viscerally in my life, and our lives. Especially where so many of these people are on the east coast, and we're stuck out on the west coast, it's deeply satisfying to write their names on the page and hope that they'll be able to make it.

And then, the next morning, I have a batch to mail...

Did I mention how gorgeous the paper is? :-)


A new look

April 11, 2007

Too many nights in a row of wedding things, and last night I revolted and took up a totally unrelated project. :-)

After Kevin graduated, I was hanging out at his fraternity helping him get packed up. One of his fraternity brothers was packing his car and left an Ikea chair till last. It wouldn't fit, and I offered to buy it. At $25, it felt like quite the steal, and was the first piece of furniture for my first apartment. (Thanks, Metzger!!) After four years of college abuse, and four years since of sitting in the sunshine at my place, it's been looking a bit worse for wear.

In case you can't see in that photo, the formerly black cover is now a mottled mix of pink, grey, and charcoal. The stripes at the creases are substantially darker than the surrounding fabric.

It also looked chronically out of place next to our other furniture, especially the blue futon.

So a trip to Joann fabrics, where I found a $9 corduroy remnant, *just* big enough, that matched perfectly (what ARE the odds?!**), and a few hours later, I had a brand new chair!!

It looks so sophisticated and wonderful compared to the old one! :-) I reused all of the padding from the original, so I didn't have to go through the nonsense of cutting foam -- a major plus. Best of all, it not only coordinates with the futon, it really matches!!

The wood somehow even looks like it was meant to go! Pretty crazy cool.

I didn't use a pattern, just sort of lay the fabric down, matched things up, cut a bit and went to town with the sewing machine. I chose to have overlapping fabric in the back rather than dealing with zippers. I had to rip three seams (out of probably 25 or thirty), but that's better than my usual average. :-) The size is great, and I figured out how to square off all of the corners by refolding the fabric and seaming, which I feel particularly clever about.


**Unfortunately, I tried to turn one lucky find into a streak. The quest for bridal shoes was a bust, and I didn't even like anything in Crate & Barrel. Should have stopped while I was ahead.


Exhausted tulips

April 06, 2007

I came home from work today to find this vase of utterly exhausted tulips.

My favourite was the one that plunked its head down in the middle of the candle. :-) Sooo sleepy.

I cut them and gave them new water, and they look quite revived. :-)


Two Months To Go

April 02, 2007

We were a day shy of two months away from the wedding yesterday, and so Kevin made celebratory seafood.

Served with champagne -- yum. :-) I can't believe it's so close.