Saturday, September 27, 2008

I went to Brooklyn last weekend, and shot this video of my cutie-patootie niece, who is four and two-thirds years old.

I don't know how YouTube's compression system manages to make everything I upload look so incredibly terrible.

I haven't posted all week because my right arm is in burny pain pretty much all of the time -- from my neck to my fingers. RSI, probably, but who really knows? I am 99% sure my doctor will tell me to take ibuprofen and take it easy, and I'm already doing that, so I've been avoiding wasting my time and money. I've been trying to use my arm as little as possible, so no more typing for me at the moment.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Butterfly update! My little transformed friend has flown the coop! On Tuesday, CJ called me to tell me that the butterfly had hatched (sometime in the late morning). He sent me a cell phone picture and took a shot with my camera:
Just born monarch

When I got home, the butterfly was standing on the bottom of the pitcher, looking either tired or near death:
Sad monarch

After the light had been on for a few minutes, he got very lively and ended up near the top of the pitcher, hanging off a twig I'd put in there. Much better.
The next morning it was time to set him free. I brought the pitcher outside and made him get on my fingers.
Why, hello there
He reluctantly got onto the morning glory vine I offered him, and then he just sat. It was too cold to fly (they need it to be 60 degrees out or warmer, says the internets) so he just hung out.

Butterfly on a vine
I kept trying to get a photo of him with his wings open, but he just sat there. And every time I'd give up, he'd open his wings for a moment. We eventually figured out that he opened his wings in response to my hand going up and down close to his back, so I gently waved my hand behind him, and got this:
Monarch, wings open
By the time I got home from work that day, it was gone, of course. I hope it started flying due south as soon as the sunlight hit it.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Sunday morning I went and did a little work in the garden, and when I was pulling out one of my dead tomato plants, I found a chrysalis attached to one of the fabric strips. I brought it home and looked it up online, and sure enough, it's a monarch butterfly! I have never found a chrysalis before, ever. So I am pretty excited about watching this thing hatch. Of course, the actual hatching part takes just a minute, and it usually happens in the morning, so it's unlikely I'll witness it -- but I will see a brand-new butterfly! I loosely tied the fabric strip to a pencil, and placed the pencil over the mouth of a big glass pitcher. I covered the top with a round potholder so the future butterfly can get air but not escape until I've gotten it outside.
Anyway, I have a couple of photos. The first one is from yesterday. Note the little gold specks -- they look like actual gold, all metallic and shit. Crazy.

monarch chrysalis, day 1

I love that color of green.
Today, after work, I noticed that the chrysalis is already becoming transparent, and you can see the wings a bit:

monarch chrysalis, day 2

Pretty neat.

Friday, September 12, 2008

A few quick things: The cats are getting along well, though there are still minor hissy fights pretty much every day. One of my cats has recently tested positive for a whole mess of allergies, and since removing her from all of the allergins would require suspending her in a vacuum in deep space, I'm going to be starting allergy shots in a week or so. Daily allergy shots. Shots that will make it quite difficult for me to leave home, since I'll have to pay someone to give her the shots while I'm away. The daily shots will go on for four months before we even know if they're working. Then, I think, I get to taper off the shots until she's only getting one every three weeks or so. For the rest of her life. This is with a cat who freaks out at getting a drop of Revolution between her shoulder blades. Pray for me.

And the mattress seems to have relaxed a bit, or maybe we're just used to it -- either way, our bed is nice and cozy now.

I have no doubt that my tomatoes perished at the hands of the septoria leaf spot menace mentioned by a commenter. I probably got a third of the amount of tomatoes I harvested last year. And this septoria crap leaves its evil spores all over the soil, so in order to grow tomatoes in my plot again, I'm going to have to build a raised bed and bring in clean soil from somewhere else. With the money it'll cost me I might be better off buying heirloom tomatoes at the farmers' market. Maybe.

Tomorrow I am sworn in as president of an old-fashioned social association of which I have been to exactly one meeting (and that meeting was for electing people to serve as president, clerk, treasurer, etc.). I've been asked to say a few words about our vision for the association for the next year. I think I'll start with, "my presidency came about as the result of being the slowest one to say 'not it!' at the nominations meeting. [pause for applause] And I promise to continue to keep this association limping along as it has been for years despite the apathy and general laziness of its long-time members!" Then comes the cheering, "Barracuda" played over the sound system, and balloon drop.

Not really. We (me and my vice president, who is actually the Karl Rove and Dick Cheney of my Bush -- in that she has the ideas and the gumption, and I just stand in front of her and give out orders) are hopefully going to do some cool things. Things which you, local reader, may even want to attend. That's our plan, anyway.

Monday, September 01, 2008

Hi people! I just (yesterday) turned 36 years old. It's like I'm twelve, but thrice! I had a groovy weekend on Cape Cod, staying at a low-rent motel in Provincetown. Well, not IN P-town proper, but a nice 2 mile walk from the action. Our hotel was also just across the street from a bay beach, so we could go and wander around on the sand during low tide. I didn't choose the place -- my friends made reservations for 2 rooms for their bandmates, and only ended up needing one. So me and CJ went instead. We hung out with them a lot, and did some things on our own -- it was a fun way to vacation. When I left I got all sad that my friends wouldn't be right next door to me anymore. (Because I am 12, remember?) (The sadness could also be attributed to it being my birthday, and for the end of the last trip of the summer.)
Anyway, on the Cape we ate some great food, did a lot of walking, ate some more, walked through the dunes to the ocean, waded in the icy Atlantic, fondled some hermit crabs in the wild, sighted a seal, watched plovers plove, and saw our friends' bands play. On Saturday, CJ and I had a fancy meal in Wellfleet, and got soft-serve in P-town afterwards; he stuck a candle in my cone and sang Happy Birthday to me on the street. My actual birthday was the day we needed to drive home, but we managed to cram in a visit to the seashore, the three-county-fair, and the new episode of Mad Men, so I was happy. I even got some presents: A faux-Creuset dutch oven, a ridiculous stuffed patchwork cat, an excellent ski jacket from the 1980s (found online), The Warriors (an old PS2 game), a how-to-sew-knits book, pinking shears, and a gift certificate to the art supply store. And I have a couple more gifts to come, so I pretty much scored big time.
Here's what we watched at the fair last night, while eating fresh-from-the-oil french fries:

Updates on other matters: My garden has had some issues this year. My tomato plants have contracted some kind of nasty disease that attacks the leaves and makes them yellow, then brown spotted, then entirely crispy and dead. I am still harvesting tomatoes, but not nearly as many as last year. My eggplant are also very disappointing; I have four pieces of fruit total on two plants and none have yet gotten big enough to pick. My bean tepee is out of control, however; my freezer is almost full of blanched, bagged green beans. I am also happy with my zucchini yield (from one plant!), green bell peppers, and basil, which had a very slow start. My zinnias look great, the result of my first seed-saving experiment from last year. I'm growing other fresh herbs (the usual rosemary, parsley, and thyme, but also tarragon and shiso) but I, um, haven't so much been eating those.

And our mattress is much harder than the one we tried in the store. We (and by "we" I mean CJ) went back and talked to the salesguy, who determined that our mattress is formulated slightly differently than the one they have, so they would take ours back, no charge, for another model (store credit only, in other words). We were also assured that the mattress should loosen up over time (and that walking on it would help -- leading CJ to spend 45 minutes pacing on the bed one day), so we finally decided to keep it. It is big (my first queen-sized bed!) and despite having no boxspring and the most basic platform bed possible, feels super tall. I like the size and feel "meh" about the height, so I'm happy enough.