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Right, so I've rambled about them enough times. Have some actual pictures of my parrots! Bathing! When they're cutest!

Lucky, bathing in a salad bowl:
From My Parrots


Lucky considers biting the camera:
From My Parrots


Two minute video of Jamaica, also bathing in the salad bowl:


She flapped her wings at me until I paid attention to her, and then mimed bathing until I caught on that she wanted the salad bowl.
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*LOSES MIND OVER THE TINY PARROTY CUTENESS*

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There's not much better in life than finding a nice surprise where you were expecting a bad one. These're from the "Britain's Got Talent" show, which...yes, apparently it really does. Really, really does.

Susan Boyle, I Dreamed a Dream: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9lp0IWv8QZY

Paul Potts, Nessun Dorma: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DelJrP3P7tA

Connie Talbot, Somewhere Over the Rainbow (she's six years old!): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QWNoiVrJDsE

Connie Talbot, Ave Maria (still six! Some things in life just really aren't fair): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iy3XJ9yDfD8
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(CNN) -- Acts of kindness will help pull the nation through its economic crisis, according to the woman who came to the rescue of a homeless Floridian who publicly appealed to President Obama.

Chene Thompson, the wife of state Rep. Nicholas Thompson, R-Fort Myers, is letting Henrietta Hughes and her son stay in a house she owns in nearby La Belle rent free until they get back on their feet.

Kindness will help economy, homeless woman's rescuer says - CNN.com




You know, where I grew up, we didn't have money to pay people to do most of the things that needed doing. The cemetery needed mowing, the school needed carpentry and plumbing work done, the town park and pool always needed maintenance of one sort or another...and we were a tiny rural town, 300 people, and it could be challenging to find money to keep the roads and sewage maintained, let alone all the other odds and ends.

Our town ran on volunteer work and odd jobs. My grandfather did the carpentry for the whole school system, gratis. One of the school kids mowed the cemetery once a week for $20 a pop. A group of people stayed in contact with the poorest families in town to make sure they had enough to eat and their kids could get to school.

I suspect that this is how most of the country has always functioned. Most communities could never afford to just throw money at our problems. Those of us who could afford to do so, either with time or money, helped out the rest of us, and it didn't make us significantly poorer so long as people were willing to cooperate, but it enriched everyone's quality of life. But these days it seems like it's not worth doing if you can't get paid for it.

...Maybe that's not quite fair. It's more like, in a lot of cases you can't afford to do it if you can't get paid for it. If your work doesn't bring in money, then you go find work that does, because you have to afford your own grocery bills.

I've come to believe that this is one of the issues that's led to our current economy (or lack thereof). When you can't afford to do things that need to get done, you find the money somewhere, whether you're a college student paying your rent with your credit card or a township going into debt to keep the municipal buildings standing. There has to be a better way to do this. We all have resources that are valueless to us, but someone somewhere needs them desperately. A vacant house. $50 you'd spend on junk you don't need anyway. A bored Saturday afternoon and the skills to knit a blanket or build a bookshelf for the grade school. A breadmaker and a $1.50 bag of flour that'd let you contribute to the local soup kitchen on the cheap. Enough leftovers from dinner that you could invite over one of your poor college friends who'll have to charge a meal to their credit card otherwise.
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Orphaned owls rescued by rehabilitators.

OH GAWD IT'S SO CUTE. Also, owls! Nifty news article.
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Ordered some stuff from Adagio Teas, which is an exceptional little tea website. I particularly like their sample tins, which let you try out different kinds of tea for about $3-$5. If anyone on my f-list has never tried Adagio and is inclined to give them a try, give me your email and I'll send you a $5 promotional gift certificate. Adagio gives a seemingly unlimited supply of these things to customers, which I suppose is an excellent way to lure in new blood.

I have the most awesome walk to work. It's about half a mile through a nice neighborhood, along tree-lined boulevards, and small, weird things constantly happen to me. I suspect I could turn this into a slice-of-life LJ if I just described them when they happened. They're not big, impressive things; just small, entertaining things that remind you how good and funny life can be.

There was, for instance, the day I walked past a peregrine falcon perched on a fence post about three feet away from me. He just stared at everyone who looked at him, head held high and arrogant, not the least bit intimidated. I suspect he might've been calculating how best to get to the eyes if any of us got too close, like a little secret agent.
Another day, when a shrub laughed at me, I turned my head to find a blue jay watching me with mischievous eyes. "Hahahahaha!" he went. "Hahahahaha!" I laughed back at him. "Hahahahaha!" he said again. He seemed very entertained. Silly blue jays.
Then there are always the crows. Crows are crazy, intelligent birds. You can tell by watching them that they're aware of themselves and the world around them. They have great presence of mind. I often see them hopping around in the road, strutting proudly off to the side if the car looks disinclined to slow down, or yelling at any human audacious enough to walk beneath their trees (they start looking sheepish if you stare at them and tell them how goofy they are; oh yes, they know).
One yard along the way is chock-full of dandelions and violets at this time of year...except that the violets aren't all normal. Some of them are these lovely white things, shading toward that beautiful deep indigo toward their hearts. They look like little stars fallen to earth. Every year, I notice the white violets have spread a little further.
There's a little pug dog that belongs to a girl living in one of the houses. This dog gets out sometimes, and no fewer than three times have I rescued the little sweetheart after finding her roaming around a few blocks down the street. Once, recognizing me, she ran up and hid behind my leg. And then I often pass various folks from the neighborhood, out jogging or whatever. I've come to know who lives where along these streets by walking to work for the past couple of years.
Sometimes, when it snows, the plows don't get out right away, so we have long unbroken sweeps of white blanketing everything. At these times, I feel as though I'm walking through the past, 80 years ago when people still rode in sleighs rather than cars (I shall have pictures of this phenomenon, if I ever remember to take my camera to the developer).

Many small beauties and adventures, all in the half mile to work.

Today, walking to work, I noticed that one fence post at the corner of a street has a shadow that points in a different direction than all the others. My first thought (after "What the heck?" of course) was that a reflection might be doing it. If the sun reflects brightly enough off windows or something, it can cause a secondary shadow. But no dice. I poked the post, looked around it, to see if it was leaning in a different direction, or if it was an effect of a warp in the concrete sidewalk...no dice there either. It's simply a shadow that points in a different direction than all the rest. Isn't that bizarre?

Continuing into religous/spiritual babble that'll just annoy some of you Seriously, I'm warning you. It would annoy me if someone else inflicted me with it. )
Okay, the mushy embarrassing crap is over now. :)
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Happy birthday, [livejournal.com profile] technovixen. I don't remember these things often, but considering how wonderful you are about celebrating everyone else, you deserve it!
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In a week that's been the kind of week where you half-expect to find that someone's died (and, lo and behold, someone did--my great aunt Marie. That's three, by the way. Have you ever heard the old saw about deaths always coming in threes? It's always been true for me. A couple of weeks ago, another uncle died. He'd married in and then divorced again, years ago. I didn't know him. I can't remember if I've ever even met him in person, but I know he was a good man, and I feel for my cousins), it's the little things that keep you going.

I was walking home the other day in a misty sort of rain, and spotted a goldfinch fluttering about on the half-wilted wildflowers that line the roadside. A little burst of color in an exceptionally grey day (I mean, really, REALLY grey. REALLY grey), I watched him for so long that I missed the traffic signal. Eh, so what? He was cute, and beautiful, and watching him, I realized that he was bathing in the rain collected on the petals. Bathing birds are so funny. They fluff up, and roll around, and chirp in ways that don't at all resemble their normal calls.

Last night, after panicking in [livejournal.com profile] gregor_asmadi's LJ in (hopefully) amusing fashion, I got my paycheck and went out to claim copies of the Star Wars movies for my very own. Expecting to spend something on the order of $95, I instead found a collected tin for $70...and what's more, the guy at the counter, for whatever reason, rang me in at $10 less than that. I pointed it out to him, but he shrugged and said, with a twinkle in his eye, "I guess you get a discount, then." No idea whether there's some limited-time discount, or if he liked my looks, or was just gracious about making a mistake. Nearly $40 off is a small grace that I'm willing to accept.

Now, Great Aunt Marie. She was my grandmother's sister, and that is the thing that concerns me most at the moment. Her husband, and then her sister in, oh, about two months? Egad. Anyway. I haven't known Marie well in many years, though she used to be around quite often when I was young. I remember enough, though, to miss her, and I know it's much worse for my mom's generation, to whom she was like a second mother. Aunt Marie was a beautiful lady, elegant, well-spoken, and sweet as honey. She hadn't been healthy in some time. In and out of the hospital for various reasons over the last few years, it was a question as to whether she or Grandpa would be the first to go.

But I am very grateful about one thing. Several months ago...was it this year, or last year?...my Aunt Carolyn (Mom's sister) came to me and asked if there was any way we could get a little family reunion going, because Grandma really missed Aunt Marie. It'd been years since they'd last seen each other in person. She showed me one of the letters they'd written--don't remember if it was Grandma's or Marie's, now--that said something to the effect of, "I don't know if we'll ever see each other again in this world, or if we'll next meet in Heaven." It was written in that anachronistic, almost fatalistic way that you see sometimes from people in an older generation. So...well, what could I do but make sure it happened? I called some people, and a month or so later, everyone got together here in State College (a halfway point between their homes; important, because Grandpa and Aunt Marie weren't in a shape to travel long) for a day-long reunion. I'm very glad for that.

So. You needn't worry about me. I'm not shattered or anything. It just seems to be a melancholy sort of week...in case the tone of this post didn't make that obvious. :) The point of all this has more to do with the funny way things work sometimes.

PS: Computers are EVIL!!!!! If I didn't think I'd chip a tooth, I'd freaking gnaw my roommate's computer into plastic dust and metal shards. Oh, it's fixed, now. I had to send the damned thing out, and what'd they do? Unplugged things, plugged 'em back in the same way, and...oh, look! I just spent $60 on a problem that apparently didn't exist! RARGH. It didn't work when I tried it.

Okay. Over that now. Did I say a melancholy week? Perhaps we should revise it as "complex." It has been a "complex" week. With quotation marks. Have a great weekend, kiddies!
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My intention was to squee over the lovely day my friends helped me have, not make you guys feel bad! I'm very sorry. I've learned my lesson. In the future, I will mention these things before they happen, and patiently accept the fussing. :D

All of you have made the weekend even brighter. It's amazing what a difference it makes just to know that there are awesome people out there who wish you the best. Thank you!

Also, as a peace offering, here's one of my favorite Evanescence songs, from their hard-to-find Origin album. Since it's out of print, they've given permission for people to download the songs from it. Most of them don't catch my fancy all that much, but this was particularly nice. Where Will You Go (mp3)
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I just finished with what may very well be the finest meal I've ever cooked. I figuered that since I had the day off, I should do dinner, so I went to the grocery store to pick up some fresh steaks and vegetables. Grilled the steaks (well, seared and then popped in the oven to finish, since we don't have a real grill), roasted the veggies with some olive oil and then melted provolone over top, and damn if it didn't come out as well as almost any meal I've had at most restaurants. It even looked pretty. All those cooking shows I've been watching apparently paid off. Wasn't perfect--the meat could've stood to be a bit more rare--but it tops anything I've ever cooked except maybe a couple of my best lasagnas.

Thank you to everyone who wished me a happy birthday, and I hope you all have splendid weekends!

Finally, before I go to bed for the night, artwork!

Boomtongue is a thingit from the Iron Kingdoms setting called a Trollkin. They're related to trolls, obviously. But, uh, while he should thusly not look human, I'm not sure he looks weird in quite the right way. Eh, well, he's the second non-human critter I've ever drawn. I'll learn.

Aha! His chest is too small, that's what's been bugging me.

I kinda like this one. Another for the list of 'things that I need to color.'
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Woke up at 11:30, spent some time on the computer, and when I'm done typing this, I think I'll go take a nice long hot bath because i'm the only person home and it means I'm not monopolizing the bathroom.

Monday is Labor Day.  I requested today off from work because that gives me a whomping four-day weekend, which I've been feeling the burn for for some time.  Tomorrow (and possibly this evening, if we can talk the ST into running something), we RP.  Sunday and Monday, my sister and I will sit down and watch the episodes of Carnivale that I signed out from the library.  I'll stay up disgustingly late every night, mucking with music and drawings.  It'll be good.

Yesterday was my birthday.  My friends and family rock!  We went out to a very nice restaurant in the area that specializes in Creole (mmm, alligator), and then I found they had pooled their money to buy me a honking great mp3 player.   So, now I'm contently splashing about with it.

Well.  Semi-contentedly.  When I reformatted my computer recently, the iTunes reinstall summarily imiported my music library without my knowing consent, and reorganized all 8 gigs of my music collection.  That's extremely annoying. I'm having to put things back the way I want it, and it's taking forever. Windows Media Player, meanwhile, is just its normally beastly self, but I have to use it because so far I haven't figured out how to get the MP3 player to just let me drag and drop into the device. Ah well. I blame iTunes. If it hadn't gone and done this to me, I wouldn't be having these problems now. See, nothing good comes out of Apple.

(I'm aware that some of you are Apple-users. Take that for a tongue-in-cheek statement. :) ).

That's it, really. This is a very self-absorbed and insubstantial post. I just wanted to make it because life is good today and I like nattering on about goodness.
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Bed, Bath and Beyond is my new nemesis.

Yesterday morning, I had a dream that Penn State had decided to raise funds by instituting a sort of gourmet bake sale. They redesigned one floor of the library to be all plush carpet, rich wooden panelling and expensive armchairs upholestered in red jaquard, and they installed several cases of the sort you'd expect to display your finest china in. These, they filled with baked goods. Now, most of the baked goods came from some poncy gourmet baker, and cost accordingly, but they were also soliciting pastry donations from staff. Having a yen to do some baking, I agreed to submit my apple cake and biscotti. Even in the dream, I didn't think this made much sense. I mean...how were they expecting to keep all this refrigerator-needy food on the floor of a library? Wouldn't it have been more appropriate to host such a cafe in, I don't know, a building where wealthy donors actually go?

I woke up wanting to bake.

What?

Biscotti came quickly to mind, due to some recent conversations. But to do that, I needed some things. So far, I've been unable to find a way to bake biscotti without creating the mother of all messes, so I figured I'd buy a pastry cloth or silicone table cover or something. On top of that, I was tired of putting up with our old crappy cookie sheets that've been abused and ruined. So, off I went to Bed, Bath, and Beyond.

Now, when I walked in I saw that they were having a feature sale on floor lamps. Indeed, I thought, we've needed one of those for the corner of the living room ever since my old one died. Oh, and look at the very reasonable prices on quality bedding! I've really only got one decent set of summer bedsheets left, and these are...ohhh, so soft (seriously, check out the Beechwood jersey bedsheets. My god). And...well, I did want a new set of headphones, and these aren't expensive, oh, and a flour sifter would be really useful, since I do bake a lot of bread, and...

I put back the very pretty-smelling candle and the hand-juicer, resisted the impulse to pick up the futon cover (which we do sorely need, as our only current one is dry-clean only, and that's not a safe arrangement in a house where I live), and merely made note of the underbed storage boxes, fluffy mattress cover, mixing bowls, towel sets, and oh-lord-it's-so-comfy chair, which we have nowhere to put even though it's incredibly affordable.

I stayed the hell away from the pots, pans, and utensils. Those're way too expensive for impulse-purchasing, but it would merely have been painful to look at the beautiful cookware that couldn't come home with me.

The biscotti turned out nicely, but while the pastry cloth did help me avoid a mess on top of the table, it didn't really make the biscotti-making process any cleaner. Just moved it to a different surface (granted, one that's machine-washable). I can't figure out how to get the biscotti dough to be anything but a viscous, runny, superglue-like mass without dumping in two cups more flour than the recipe calls for.

Grandpa

Jun. 25th, 2006 03:44 pm
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Grandpa died last night. The service is Tuesday. Grandma is holding up well. We all are, really. Everything is very normal, in fact, though the world seems like a slightly different place without him. It's funny how that works.

The weirdest part is how...natural it feels. Grandpa lived the kind of life that I think we all know we should live, but so few of us ever do. So this...this is more closure than loss. It's gentle, kind of graceful, with that bittersweet feeling that comes with all the big changes in life. That's not to say that I'm not crying as I write this, of course. We'll all miss him terribly, but it's okay.

And to think I'm off to Origins on Thursday. This'll be a hell of a rollercoaster week. I'm determined to enjoy myself. I know he'd be disappointed if I didn't.

I just wish you all could've known him. I wish my journalist friend and I could've written that book of interviews with him that we always wanted to do. I never got to tell him he was my hero. I hope he knew. Maybe he can hear me now.
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Indonesian volunteers helping rebuild post-Katrina.

Apparently, some of the Indonesians whom the US helped after the tsunami and earthquakes have decided to reciprocate by coming to the US to help the Gulf Coast. It's a sweet story about human kindness, and two cultures gently learning about (and from!) one another.

In a world where nations set themselves at one another's throats lately, and hatred seems to be the order of the day, tiny little movements like this can send disproportionate echoes across the globe. Here's hoping these voices can make themselves heard.
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I wear my hair waist-long, and lately I've been having obnoxious problems with split ends and things. After fighting with it for about a month, I had an epiphany: there's probably stuff on the internet about haircare! Gadzooks. :)

Off I went to do some research, and then I thought: hey, I know some folks on my f-list are interested in homeopathy (I found quite a few recipes for homemade shampoos, conditioners, and clarifiers), and I'm sure at least a few of you have hair too, so maybe you'll find this useful (or at least interesting).

I know you're very manly and all, guys, but it might not hurt to take a look around, mostly because 1: you can win points with a woman by suggesting helpful tips to her, and 2: nice hair on men is seriously sexy. I'm not very girly as a rule, myself, so I promise there's stuff in here that doesn't involve hours of fussing. Hair etiquette for men, by the way, offers pointers for men on treating a woman's hair well.

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Yesterday we had a nice ice storm (well,it was icky at the time), which today is making everything shimmer in the sunlight.  Also, we've been getting snow on and off ever since.  So I am a happy winter-monster.  Shiny!  Pretty!
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[livejournal.com profile] jl_williams shames me. I've been following this for days, and I should've posted the information I've gathered here right away.

InstaPundit.com offers links to many organizations providing hurricane relief. Many of these sites take donations online.

CNN offers numbers to call for relief organizations. While you are discouraged from simply heading south and plunging in, you can discuss the possibility of offering your time and services to the Red Cross or other organizations, who badly need volunteers to help set up shelters, pass out food, and see to peoples' health and safety.

If you have donations of food, water, clothing, blankets, and other necessities, call the Salvation Army, your local church, Red Cross post, or armed forces ROTC, and ask them what would be the best way to send it along. Dropping it off probably isn't the way to go (I stand corrected from what I said earlier, as someone pointed out my mistake).

Many people across the country are offering up their extra rooms, apartments, homes, or places to stay to refugees. If you have space you're interested in sharing, or even renting for a small amount (one woman is charging a dollar a month for a family to use her spare bedroom), then one place to post such openings is Craigslist. At this time, many of the refugees have no way to know that such places are being offered. If you're in touch with someone from the devastated areas, then let them know, and tell them to spread the word. These people need to know that there are places for them to go.

Please, link to this entry, copy/paste this information, or do whatever you think will help get the word out. There are also many, many other online resources, and I'm sure that others have accumulated far more information than I have here.
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And a Happy New Year!

Since I guess a lot of you are heading out soon, and I for one will be away from any reliable computer after tomorrow. May you have a safe trip and a great holiday!
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My sister gave me an early Christmas present: a CD called A Very Scary Solstice, and it's all Christmas songs that have been re-worded according to HP Lovecraft's stories.

Here are the lyrics to 'The Shoggoth Song' (like the Dreidel Song, except you're spinning a shape-shifting brain-sucking cosmic monster):

I had a little shoggoth
I conjured up one day.
I used an elder sigil
So shoggoth and I play.

Shoggoth, shoggoth, shoggoth
With mouths and pseudopods.
Shoggoth, shoggoth, shoggoth,
Foul creature of the gods.

One day while we were playing
My monstrous pal broke free.
I'd dropped the elder sigil,
Lil' Shoggy turned on me.

Shoggoth, shoggoth, shoggoth
He ripped me to a shred.
Shoggoth, shoggoth, shoggoth
We played and now I'm dead.

Other examples include 'I Saw Mommy Kissing Yog-Sothoth,' 'It's the Most Horrible Time of the Year,' and 'It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Fish-men.'

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