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On something dangerously close to a whim, this weekend I started a container garden. I usually try to have a few plants about the place, but I've never had the room (or the light) for anything serious, and between the big window, little patio and the enormous yard, they were kind of begging for it. So as of yesterday we've got thyme and basil, pepper and tomato and lettuce, and lavender and a couple of other pollinator-friendly flowers dressing up the place. And strawberries. Bless the strawberries and cross your fingers.

And today of course it's raining. But whatevs. It seems to make them happy.

In the course of snooping around, I discovered an absolutely dear little greenhouse only about a mile from me, called Ballantyne Gardens. The proprietors are sweethearts, and the place is a vegetative treasure house of half-concealed water features, shiny baubles and unusual plant offerings hung, tucked, and draped into every available space. And not only do they have big, gorgeous baby plants and beautiful landscaping, but they also have a dog, a cat, and pet chickens. The dog is a pile of big-eyed shaggy love, the cat is imperious, and the chickens are timidly curious until you flash them food.
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Last night I sat out back and watched the fireflies put on their show. The back yard looked like the night sky had fallen in.

Also, GOOD NEWS EVERYONE! I've got the go-ahead on a great apartment! Now I must file the paperwork for all the background checks and verifications so they can reassure themselves that I am in fact me and not a shape-shifting alien predator who plans to eat all their other tenants. Wish me luck, because if they find out the truth I could be in trouble! ;)


Jun. 7th, 2010 03:53 pm
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Octocam at Hatfield Marine Science Center Visitor Center

Check out the octopus at OSU! If you don't see him immediately, be patient. He putters around his tank, and comes around periodically.
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It's been a hard, stress-making week, and it's not over yet, and next week will be even worse. What I need is some soothing perspective, and there's nothing to produce that quite so well as space! So I hereby declare that today is for space pictures!

Photos of Mars from the Spirit Rover -- real actual honest-to-god photographs of another planet! I geek out just thinking about it.

Winners of the Discover astro-photography contest -- achieved through a combination of backyard telescopes, cameras, and remarkable patience. These photos remind me what an amazing, impossible, beautiful place the universe is.

Japanese astronaut Soichi Noguchi's space photography -- Soichi is currently serving aboard the International Space Station, from which he tweets his photography of the Earth. It's kind of him to share, and amazing that we have the technology to do this these days.
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Melting before it hits the ground, but it's freakin' snowing! We're only halfway through October. Wow, this may be quite a winter.

In other news, Absent Willow Review has asked permission to use my "Winter Goblin" in an issue of their magazine. Absent Willow is produced by the guy who does Tripping the Muse, so it's a reputable publication and rather exciting. :)

ETA: Wow, remember how I said it was melting before it hit the ground? Well, not so much now. Reports say that we may have up to 12 inches by tomorrow. All hail 4WD and leftover ice melt!
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Warning: don't click if you're bat-phobic! But if you can handle it, these are gorgeous shots of the fuzzy little guys catching a drink on the wing.

Stunning shots of thirsty bats swooping to lick water from garden pond | Mail Online
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You know how bread gets stale when you leave it out because the air sucks the moisture out of it. Well, lately it's been so humid that I left a package of hard cookies open overnight last night, and they actually became moister and more chewy.
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Holy crap! We've got a major thunderstorm blowing through, and I just saw a funnel cloud trying to form! It got ripped apart before it could get very far--I'm not really worried about tornadoes--but that was amazing!
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A grackle stuck under my eaves woke me up an hour and a half early with its scrabbling. Poor thing climbed in somehow and couldn't find its way back out. I could hear it running back and forth and scratching at spots where it was trying to escape. Its flockmates kept crowding around to contribute moral support, but of course they couldn't do anything except peer helplessly at the situation.

I felt so bad that I couldn't get back to sleep. I lay there for an hour and a half trying to think of a way to help it, until it finally managed to escape on its own. It fluttered down and clung to my window screen briefly before it flew away to join its friends.
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If you haven't heard yet, <a href="">there's a nor'easter due to hit us from sometime Sunday through Tuesday</a>.  The severity isn't certain yet; depends on the track it takes.  Snowfall amounts of 12 to 22 inches are being bandied about for the northeast at this time, with potential blizzard conditions Tuesday.  It's expected to affect everybody from Georgia on north, from Ohio eastward.  Snowmelt flooding in areas that get this as rain is expected.

Since every weather site I've checked pretty much agrees on all these details at this time, I do in fact believe them.  So lay in the rock salt and shovels and batten down the hatches, my eastern US friends.  February's expected to be "exciting."
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It's SNOWING! And it's STICKING! Huzzah! *does the dance of snow*

That's all I've got. Cheers!


Oct. 28th, 2008 02:53 pm
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Oh yeah, baby, here comes the weather! You know it's going to be an interesting winter when we start getting hit with these in October.

It's probably insane of me, and anybody living on the Atlantic coast of the US will quite rightfully slap me silly, but I love these suckers. They fascinate me. A cross between a hurricane and a blizzard, nor'easters are one of the world's great storm systems. There's something tremendously old-fashioned about them. Storms like this get into your head, shape the way of life of an entire region. It wasn't so long ago that most of the people in this region were farmers or fishermen, not out of living memory that whole towns could get snowed in all winter with no reliable contact to the outside world, and when one hits, it reminds you that you're not as far as you like to think from those times. Even in this day and age, a nor'easter has the power to shut down New York City for three days and reduce people living in perfectly civilized locations to strapping on skis to make a grocery run. I grew up keeping snow shoes in the attic in case we got snowed in for a week and had to hike to get supplies. We needed them twice that I can remember. After '93, my uncle got rid of them because he preferred skis, and enough neighbors had invested in snowmobiles that getting around in six feet of snow wasn't such an issue.

I know it's not exactly good to be cut off like that. People still need to get places, and travel becomes dangerous. Some people need access to electricity and emergency services to live. But I guess I feel like it can be good for the soul. We get so caught up in modern life; it's good to be reminded now and then that there are higher laws than the ones we like to make up for ourselves. Sometimes we can simplify life if we remember that.
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It's the measurement around the bust. As in, BREASTS. Yes, those bits that men traditionally can't stop looking at. So since they're so deeply engrossed with them, how is it that apparently no sizing chart on the face of the planet actually takes them into account?

MEN. PAY ATTENTION. I'm fairly sure this is your fault.

Last week, I decided I had a bit of money left over from vacation and what I really needed was some summer shirts. Tank tops, that kind of thing, you know. Unwilling to pay more than $10 for a simple freaking tank top and unable to find any decent deals on them locally, I decided to indulge in a bit of internet shopping.

I was informed repeatedly that if I have a 34 inch bust, a 26 inch waist, and a 36 inch hip, then I am a size 4 to 6 and therefore A Small. In fact, I have 39 inch hips, a 28 inch waist, and if you assume that the bust is indeed meant to be measured around the breasts (where, you know, all the fitting people tell you it's supposed to be measured), then something like a 38 inch bust. My band size (that's the torso below the breasts) is 36 inches. And yet, I do indeed wear a 4 to 6 and the small size does indeed fit me. The medium size, which I was helpfully informed that my measurements (sans breasts) fit neatly into, hangs off me.

And then today when I was shopping for a motorcycle jacket, I went through all this again. Should I be looking at smalls? Mediums? A man's small, which according to the sizing charts might fit me better anyway? Do males dwell in some magical Land of Rational Measurements where I dare to trust their sizing charts? I can't just go someplace where I can try motorcycle jackets on, because there is no such place. Physical real-life storefronts don't believe that anyone smaller than a 5'6" barbarian queen could possibly ever want to ride a motorcycle, and they stock accordingly.

Do people suddenly somehow forget when designing clothing that women have parts that need to be taken into account? Do they think we're supposed to be measuring someplace else, or are they confused because all their models are anemic flat-chested boy-girls? Did they just kip the sizing charts from pre-teen boys and say, "Well enough then?" Or have fashionistas become convinced in their starved, perpetually blood sugar-crashing state that "bust" means we're supposed to be measuring the circumference of the nearest plaster cast of Cicero's head? I just want to know what the hell is going on!
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I HATES THEM. On my way to work this morning I had to dodge a barrage of nasty little buggers dangling from trees and trying to swing into my face. BLARGH. There are very few things in this world that I truly loathe, especially among things that're counted among the living (even though window wasps must die due to a critical incompatibility of lifestyles), but if all the gypsy moths would just up and die, I would not be displeased.

In other news, gosh & golly I'm stupid today! It's not unusual for me to forget to do things...but today I'm forgetting that I did do things. I ran around in panicked circles because I needed my insurance card for my car inspection! Only to discover I'd sensibly put it in the glove box a few weeks ago. Then when I got to work, I realized I was out of tea, so I quickly called my roommate to ask her to bring it in to work with her. But she couldn't find it, so I gave my bag another check and discovered I'd brought it after all. Knowing me far too well, she just sighed at me.

*sigh* And apparently my car will cost me a further $460 of repairs needed for my inspection to be approved. I'm going to try not to think about how much money I've put into my car this year so far.

To aid me in that, I give!

Kedrihm'Val--the last of my steampunk Star Wars: my character, the primitive Force Adept. He gets to be the stereotypical mystical savage that the civilized types have stuffed into appropriate clothing. :) What? There's always one in the stories!

Honestly, I'm so glad I did the steampunk Star Wars stuff. It was a lot of fun--highly amusing to those of us who actually play in that game--and I got a big kick out of how well the characters conform to the archetypes we're familiar with from Victorian literature. Well, neo-Victorian, really. But still, it was a good time.

Dr. Tillingtast bust--I've done a lot of stark lineart lately of the sort meant for coloring, so I felt the urge to do something a bit more pencilicious. A portrait of a fictional character, Dr. Tillingtast the evil Son of Ether.

Costuming practice--I see some artists who have an absolutely amazing facility with outfits for their characters. Comparatively, mine tend to come off as pretty bland. Well, if I want to get better, the only thing to do is practice practice practice! Also, I'm kind of pleased with her face as I have a habit of making my characters rather boringly Caucasian and that's definitely a rut I want to get out of. Why bury myself in a narrow range of facial features and skin tones when there are so many more possibilities out there?
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Orphaned owls rescued by rehabilitators.

OH GAWD IT'S SO CUTE. Also, owls! Nifty news article.
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I liked this. It's an editorial article from Discover Online. It gathers a lot of thoughts on psychology and science and religion and sociology, and ends up making a lot of sense to me.

Jaron's World: Peace through God

The tangled dance of science, violence, hope, and strange beliefs. )
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My god, I'd forgotten how glorious it feels to have a stable, working computer. Put my beastie together on Saturday. It went online for the first time at 4 am. In point of fact, the build went smooth as glass. The only rough spot I had was when I flipped the switch to the power supply and nothing happened...and then I remembered that I have to actually hit the power button. *cough*

The inside is gratuitously pimped out. The case has room for FIVE fans, so I figured I'd put in at least two, and since they were the same price as your boring basic black model, I sprung for two that glow blue when the computer's on. XD The outside, meanwhile, is why I bought the parts for the new PC in June, but hadn't put them together till this weekend. Got a cheap case from Rosewill, and when I received it, the front end had broken off. Oh, it still *worked,* but it had no way to attach to the rest of the computer. I talked to NewEgg, and they spent about a month dithering on sending me a replacement (for the record, that's the only time I've ever heard of NewEgg failing). I finally gave up, and figured I'd come up with my own solution. Frankly, the way the case was supposed to attach sucked anyway. You have to remove it to install drives, but the only way to get it off would be with a tactical nuke.

For the moment, it's being held on by masking tape, but I'll probably go buy some velcro from the local Dollar Store in a couple of days. Alternatively, my sister suggested I could mod the case with cabinet hinges. The case looks kinda mean to begin with, like it's going to kick your dog if you mess with it. So I'm debating this: I could spring for something matte-black and badass, or maybe something all chrome and sharp points.

Anyway, in the meantime, it runs beautifully.

In other news, on a day this damp, grey, and contemplative, music like this is either the perfect accompaniment or else will result in banging your head off your desk just to remind yourself that you can still feel sensation. I haven't decided which yet.

Ah, but I love weather like this. I do. I love the smell of it. I love watching the rain come down and form halos in the streetlamps that shouldn't be on at this time of day. I love the way a kind of contented lethargy comes over me and I just want to sit down and introspect over a nice hot cup of tea. Rain like this inspires me to draw. I want to make pictures of people lingering on wet streets with headlights washing over them, or leaning beneath the eaves with water spilling down a foot away.

The irony being that I have no practice at drawing water.

PS: for those of you who fear global warming, worry no more. Penn State has turned up the A/C to the point where I'm pretty sure it should offset any climate change in the positive direction. Frigging HELL it's cold in here!
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Got another work project to finish by deadline (that being Wednesday), and only four hours a day to do it in, plus the picture which is also due Wednesday, and my home computer is not reliable enough to trust in (yes, I'm working on it at work, shush).

After those two things are done, I should be back to more-or-less normal operations (except, y'know, only at my desk half the time; God, I <i>love</i> universities and their reluctance to censor or block websites!).  This is mostly a heads-up to those of you who'd otherwise be chatting with me.

The newspaper-counting is going okay.  No more surprises such as the last one so far.  On the other hand, I did open up a package and get a faceful of mold.  Set my head on fire and nearly had me gagging.  You know the kind of thing where your throat doesn't swell closed, but it kind of feels like your sinuses do?  And then you start coughing like you've got a hairball while your eyes tear up like somebody just punched you in the nose...yeah.  That.

 I half-expected to be crippled with allergies the next day, but I seem to have avoided the worst.   That thing was awful, though.  I tapped the pages and clouds of dust rose up from them (not all mold; some of it was just antique dirt).   It'll be hell on whomever ends up actually working on that volume.  Not only will they have to deal with the fungus, but all those pages need to be cleaned before they can be microfilmed...  Boss-lady's looking to borrow a paper vacuum from our conservationist.  We've got to do <i>something<i>, because if more volumes in that series are that kind of mess, we'll be doing this till Doomsday.

And apparently more than one volume is mold-infested, though most of them are marked (I'd avoided another with "mold" written on the wrapping; thought this one would be safe, heh).  Not sure what we'll do about that; I'm allergic to mold (not deathly allergic, don't worry; this is the day or so of bleary-eyed, snuffling, self-pitying misery kind of allergy) and the other guy who usually does the counting is mildly asthmatic.  I'd tackle him to the ground before I let him touch that thing (and he might try, because he's that kind of guy).

Anyway, just another sampling of the fun and creative work we do at an academic library.  I'll admit, it's kind of entertaining.  It's a challenge, at least, to figure out how to deal with things like this.

Took my sister to see Transformers, and she enjoyed it as much as I did.  Giant robots fighting!  Military hardware!  Optimus Prime's voice!  Give us a sequel with less humans and more destruction! 

Yeah.  Her motto:  "A movie doesn't have to be good, so long as it's entertaining." :D

And on the way to work, I heard a bird singing this piercing song:  WooooOOOP!  WooooOOOP!  Werp-werp-werp-werp-werp-werp tew tew!

Do you recognize it?  It's a car alarm!  I couldn't get a look at the bird, but apparently he's a killer mimic
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This weekend, it being Father's Day and all, I went up to visit my dad for a grand day of fishing. It was quite the adventure!

First we had to actually get to the river, which was easier said than done, let me tell you. We hiked about a mile each way along the railroad tracks, looking for a way over the bank, but everything was either pitched too steep to climb down, or else clogged by brush and scrap. Finally, we followed a powerline cut that led us true, except that we had to wade through a whole flood plain's worth of grass as tall as I am. Kept an eye out for copperheads, but generally snakes aren't a problem if they can tell you're coming. It's not like we were hard to miss.

Anyway, we got down to the river where a creek empties out into it, hopping along the rocks, slogged through the water, fished with was wonderful, actually. I don't get to tromp through the wood and stuff enough anymore. I've missed it deeply. We saw herons and a family of ducks, and our one chance to catch any respectable fish was thwarted by some guys charging through in a power boat. But the point was not so much to catch anything as it was to have fun and get familiar with the area again.

So, I'm fishing with a lure, which I don't usually do (I prefer live bait). This thing's an orange critter with about ten thousand hooks on it, so I spend more time unraveling the damn thing than I do casting. It gets caught on everything--the line, rocks, river weed, itself. After untangling it yet again, I flick back to cast...and it gets caught on the pole, sproings off and stabs a hook straight through my ear. Right about halfway up, just where the cartiledge begins.

May I say, ow.

Actually, I've had my ears pierced, and this was a very similar sensation. Except that the hook had a barb on it, which turned the whole scenario suddenly more complicated. After pondering it briefly, Dad cut the spine off with his wire cutters (which, OW) and then I pulled the damn thing out. After that, I just sat and sulked/enjoyed the sunshine for a while.

Eventually, Dad decided he'd like to hike up along the creek and see if there was any better fishing to be done. I get stuck in sucking mud (after which I warned him that if he led me into sucking mud again, I would create a scene--this is humor), and then nearly fall in where the stream bank rose and turned into mud. This is a good thing. If you fish or enjoy generally wandering across the landscape, then you know that it would've been a letdown to come back without being covered in mud to the hips.

We had a crisis when we hit the railroad bridge, though. Dad wanted to follow the bank up beyond it, except there wasn't really way way to get past the bridge, what with the way it'd been laid. But we'd sort of backed ourselves into a corner by clambering over the rocks to get there. Turning back was a risky proposition. I ended up having to ninja/mountain goat my way around and over the bridge to find a way back up to the railroad tracks. It all felt very daring and death-defying, though if it'd been anyone else, the risk of pitching oneself off would've been minimal. As it was, I had to help Dad haul himself up (he's not as spry as I am) and then, rather than climb up the dangerous gravel bank with the 20-foot precipice at the bottom or clamber over a series of fallen branches like a circus acrobat, it turned out that the side of the concrete abutment had been conveniently built like a little staircase that we could trot up and over easy as you please.

So we hiked the mile or so back to Dad's house, triumphant, fishless, and covered in mud, and I've scheduled a tetanus shot for this afternoon because, um, I haven't had one since I went off to college. I am, shockingly, allergy-free after parading around in more weeds and grass than I can shake a stick at.

Dad emailed my sister when we got back, telling her only that I "got a fishhook in the ear and he had to cut it out." It would primer for the story, he said. I knew she'd freak out. And indeed, when I got home, she was spastic with thoughts of my gruesomely maimed ear. When I waved it off, she decided I meant that Dad had been making it all up (he occasionally does things like that), so I had to show her the puncture wound and explain that, no, I really had got a fishhook in the ear but it wasn't the crisis she'd been envisioning.

Once it heals up, I am tempted to mark the site of my Wound of Honor(TM) with an earring (done by a legitimate piercing shop, not a, uh, fishhook). Or possibly it'll scar in nifty fashion and I can point it out to future generations with dire warnings about fishing lures. Seriously, though, probably not. You can barely even see the wound from the front.

So, danger, blood, and feats of derring-do. All told, the best weekend I've had in ages. I feel like I had a whole week off! Hopefully we can do it again next month.
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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 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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October 2015

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