Thursday, June 28, 2007

Not exactly negative entropy, but we'll take what we can get

This makes me curiously happy. I've been thinking about environmental and economic collapse too much lately.


Yay for the storm last night. That's a smaller yay on average than it would be, since it blew over four of my tomato stakes and also a couple of supports in the Hutterite bean patch (I thought they didn't need support, but some of them seem to, so I stuck a leftover stake or two in there). My pants are now dirty from righting them while they were wet with dew and splashed with mud, but oh well--I sit behind a desk most of the day anyway.

I spent most of yesterday babysitting my niece, Addie, at her house. (Seems weird to say that rather than "her parents' house," but it's hers, too.) First alone, since Eric had school, and then when he got there he took over. Which was fine--I enjoyed her very much, but she wanted to be held constantly and as I told him, I was getting a crick in my spine from holding her and walking around (she wanted that, too; just being held wasn't enough). He told me, "You look prettier with a baby." He was the one to feed her, which put her to sleep, and though we agreed we'd get a different sort of rocking chair when we have a baby (theirs was uncomfortable), he hardly wanted to let her go for me to put in the crib. Diagnosis: severe baby-craziness.

Afterward we talked about what we'd do for daycare once we had one of our own--Addie's parents work different shifts, so someone's always home to take care of her, except when one of them has to work late like last night. Eric seemed pretty unhappy at the prospect of daycare. I'm not, as much, but I'd be happy not to have to do it if that were possible. We could potentially impose on Addie's parents, maybe in exchange for weekend care or money or something else, or some similar arrangement, but we don't have any such convenient schedule as they do; to keep our kid at home before school age hits, one of us would have to quit or work from home. And, at least currently, I make almost fifty percent more than he does (and more next year because of a policy change at work that increases the minimum pay in my bracket to more than my current salary), so it wouldn't be me--unless I could provide some of the missing income by working at home. We know Eric could, by tutoring and such. Me? No such employable skills, since nobody will pay enough for a quilt to make it worthwhile.

In other news, my office plant is slowly dying, probably because it doesn't get any natural light. Sigh. Maybe I'll get an ivy. Or a mint. They grow in anything, right? (If nothing else, I could get some bindweed. I'm sure that would grow here. And the flowers are supposed to be fairly pretty.)

Oh, and I read Jen's post on making rice milk, which prompted me to look up making soy milk. Soy beans are supposed to be easy to grow…maybe I should look into it. I'd have to convince Eric to drink it first, though.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Dinner from the garden

I was good and did a little work in the garden--tied up the tomatoes (who knew I had so many green tomatoes down there?), weeded, picked the last of the peas. And my dinner. This is what I walked in the house with:

The basil tops came with me because I noticed the plants were trying to flower. (Time for more pesto before that happens, I think. What else can I use basil in, in big quantities?) Those peas are the last of the peas. (The box is fruit strips from Target--kind of expensive per calorie, but organic, healthy, and very good.) The two carrots I pulled to see how big they were, and the zucchini is my first of the summer. The onions came in because, well, the rest of dinner was from the garden, so they might as well be too.

I sliced the zucchini thinly and chopped the rest. (Notice my nice new bamboo cutting board? Belated wedding gift from Phoebe. I love it with a fiercely burning love.) The onions went into hot olive oil, then the zucchini, then the green onions and basil. Some salt and pepper, not too much salt because of my bad experience with the Swiss chard.

It actually made more food than this; I was hungry, and I forgot to take a picture right away. The zucchini was about six ounces, incidentally. There are two more, not quite ready, but very close. Next time I might try shredding them with potatoes and carrots and making veggie pancakes. Or breading and frying them. The Gold Rush zucchini apparently isn't as prolific as some zucchini types, but the taste is good and it's certainly showing a willingness to supply me with all the zucchini I care to eat, so I'd better be thinking about recipes.

Recap, of sorts

No posts for a week, huh? Bad me. That's the problem with more than one blog, plus worknotes. Possibly also with having someone at home to talk things over with. Today, we have been married for a month, legally. I don't feel married. I don't really feel unmarried either.

We have our joint checking account now, and we're both slowly switching over automatic deposits and withdrawals. I'm feeling a little reluctant to do so--partly because it requires effort and I'm lazy, partly because I've never shared an account before (except with my parents when I was very young, which doesn't count). I think it's a good thing, but still, it's different.

We talked about potential middle names for a daughter over the weekend. (No, we have no concrete reason for discussing this, but doesn't every non-childfree-by-choice couple do it?) He likes Amethyst a lot, and we tried to decide if we could get away with that--certainly more easily than as a first name, but still. I'm in favor of Trouble, personally.

I finished my quilt at 12:30 Saturday morning, and went to the baby shower in Dayton at 12 PM the same day. One of my old coworkers crochets, and she said to me at some point, "I stayed up until midnight working on my baby afghan for today." I said, "I stayed up until 12:30." She said, "Well, I finished at 10 this morning," and I said, "You win." The quilt was well received--so was the afghan--and I maintain my record of baby quilts that look completely unlike the rest of the nursery, even when I know the theme. Also there was pomegranate punch, pomegranate juice mixed with Sprite, and it was very good.

I should have done a bunch of gardening stuff over the weekend and didn't, but luckily plants know how to grow without me. I should have two zucchini to harvest, plus the last of the peas and--still--a whole bunch of lettuce. (I knew half a row would be enough. We don't eat enough salad.) Marigolds and nasturtiums (so pretty! so gangly!) are blooming all over the garden, which is nice--also one potato flower. Eric said, "I hadn't realized potatoes have flowers. I guess I should have, since they're plants and plants flower." A lot of this gardening stuff is going to surprise him. I can't wait for the first cucumber to give to him--not to mention the first tomato to keep for me.

Now it's a new week and I have some cleaning to do, a few last thank-you notes to send out (yes, I know it's been a month), some vegetables to eat, and some time to think about what comes next. It's nice.

Sunday, June 17, 2007


This is what my side yard currently looks like:

I'm killing the grass to put in an herb (and greens) garden this fall/next spring. I tried clear plastic in the vegetables garden and it didn't work, but I did it in the fall; I'm thinking the opaque plastic in early summer will be much better, especially since I bought this stuff under the label "landscaping plastic." Unless it's meant to work like the stupid landscaping fabric the previous owners put all over my yard, but whatever. For the next few months, I'll be growing plastic in my yard.

I have four basil plants (aside from the globe basil that I planted with the tomatoes pretty much to help the tomatoes grow and to see what they look like--they're quite pretty, actually) and tonight I made homemade pesto with my pasta for dinner. It was wonderful. Next time I'll use less parmesan and slightly less garlic than the recipe (straight out of my Better Homes & Gardens cookbook) called for, but it was fantastic anyway. Eric was slightly repelled by the bright neon green that it became, but I loved it. I'm definitely doing this again. And soon, because I have another serving in the fridge and my plants hardly look like I took any leaves at all.

I'm behind on the quilt I'm making for Phoebe's baby shower. This is partly because we had a baptism to attend today (we weren't told about it until late last night, or at least I wasn't told and if Eric was he forgot) and partly because we did a lot of shopping and then napping yesterday. Still, behind. At least I've gotten the worst parts over with.

James's exploratory surgery was Thursday. It was inconclusive. Apparently they did an EU endoscopy and it told them that James's pancreas is damaged and inflamed (you think?) and to get any real information they'll have to go in through the duodenum. So he'll be doing that in a few weeks.

The mothers are going to Germany for a few weeks and we've been tasked with feeding the fish, watering the plants, and paying the bills. Eric's sister is taking the dogs, because they don't want to leave the dogs alone all day and night for three weeks and they're well aware that I don't allow dogs in my house. I feel a little bad about it, but not a lot, frankly. They know about my allergies and that I don't want dog hair and spittle and urine all over my floors and furniture, and in fact neither does Eric. He kind of wants a dog, but he definitely doesn't want to have to clean up after one.

Oh, and they gave me a flat-screen monitor! For my birthday. They never gave me a present then (in April) and I didn't think much of it, but apparently they had planned to give me this but had never actually gone out and purchased it. It's partly because Brenda had once mentioned that when she was done transferring the information from her old computer to her new one, she might give me her old flat-screen monitor, since both had it; but she never did. I didn't worry about it, but apparently she did. It pleases me all the more because a flat-screen monitor was on my list of things I covet but don't rate above having that money in savings.

This week, we're finishing the thank-you notes (I'm working on them now, and typing this to rest my writing hand), calling for quotes on the driveway, and cleaning the windows. Did I mention my family wrote all over my windows with a paint pen? Yeah. A girl came to our house the other night asking for donations to TEENS of the Future or something and commented on it, giggling. Oh, and finish the quilt.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

The great thing

Eric is, of course, a computer geek. The computer, the library, and his D&D group cover his major hobbies. The library is very well furnished, especially considering we had almost no overlap in books (we'd have more if he hadn't lost some to his ex-wife) but plenty of overlap in reading taste so there are dozens and dozens of books he would almost certainly like but hasn't read on our shelves. (And we keep adding to it anyway. Also, I read Brother to Dragons, Companion to Owls last night. It's excellent. Why is Jane Lindskold not better known?) The D&D only requires the occasional infusion of a $30 book on magical items or a $10 bag of dice and the weekly $5 for pizza for the gaming night.

The computer, though, that's a different story. When I moved up here in late 2005, we decided that I needed a new computer (mine was purchased in 1999 and wasn't the highest-end model even then) and since he wanted an upgrade, he'd get some new things and pass his old, but still considerably better, things to me. (I did get a new motherboard and hard drive.) I'm perfectly satisfied with my computer, except for the annoying recent development that it won't shut down properly. He, however, feels he needs a new one.

I think it started because his mom got a new computer, slightly faster than his. But the truth is, he likes new computers the way some men like new cars. (At least this obsession is cheaper.) His computer works perfectly well for gaming and Illustrator and such, he admits. But he wants a better one.

So we've agreed that he can order a computer from Falcon Northwest, which does custom-made, very fast computers. He can get all the fastest, coolest gadgets he wants (within reason). This will be his combined Christmas and (next) birthday gift, and he doesn’t get another new computer for three years. The plan is to order it around Christmas, since we'd like to save a little more money first, but I might let him order it early depending on how other things go.

[Tangent: we got a joint checking account last weekend and Edith warned us not to give up our separate accounts. "You've got to have separate mad money," she said. "That way Eric can buy his computer and Jenny can buy her spinning wheel without the other person having to approve it. You have to have your own money. When kids come mad money gets to be a real issue." I was surprised, and annoyed, because (1) we already bought the wheel and we've agreed to this plan for the computer (which will be five or six times more expensive than the wheel), and (2) this was pretty clearly a projection from her own failed marriage with a man who, she's said more than once, got mad when she spent money but didn't hesitate to spend it himself. We've already been operating on our own rules for big purchases: if it's over about $100, or for joint use, consult the other person first, unless it's something like $150 worth of work clothes at a sale or something equally common-sense.

Further tangent: we discussed my desire to put stone paths into the vegetable garden and into the new herb garden I'm going to be developing out of the side yard lawn for next year, and I was trying to think of cheaper alternatives. "Just get the stones," he said. "They'll be much nicer and, what, $100 isn't really that much."

"How about $400?" I countered, since I don't know exactly how much they would cost yet.

He only hesitated a little. "Or $400." Apparently he really doesn't want to mow the grass. But I thought it was interesting that he's willing to pay more than I am for something I want. I think he was surprised when I agreed to the Falcon Northwest thing, too.]

His birthday is coming up in a month, and I'll be getting him a present, though nothing particularly flashy. Fortunately I know a couple of things he wants. But I was thinking that the really great thing about this arrangement about his computer is that I don't have to worry about what to buy him as a present for an entire year. (This is not to say I won't think about it--or that I won't get him something small anyway. But I don't have to.)

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

I wonder if all shy people hate horror movies; or, what I think about at work.

I was going upstairs to talk to someone about a problem I have at work (a technical problem, that is) and reflecting as I have before that this job, plus the one before, has been excellent for me and my shyness. I always hated calling strangers, or talking to people about technical problems like this; my heart would pound and my face would get warm, and it was awful. But lately I haven't been getting that feeling. I pick up the phone to call some client I've never spoken with and for whom I may well not have any answers, and I wait for that reaction, and it doesn't come. It's very strange. I'm still a little reluctant to do things like that, but I no longer dread it.

So I started thinking about why it went away, and then why it started in the first place. What happened in my early childhood to make me shy? I could imagine that perhaps as a child I was afraid of new things and new people, and got that reaction of dread whenever I had to encounter them, and my fear of that dread led to a fear of the things that caused the dread, and made me averse to new people. (Shyness goes way further than that…but let's keep things simple.) But in that case why isn't everyone shy? Some people positively love strangers. Did those extroverts never experience fear of new people, or did they simply get over it rather than experiencing aversion to it? And if so, do they enjoy fear more than shy people--say, at the movies?

Friday, June 08, 2007

Microscopic examination

I went looking for the reason why the first flower on a cucurbit (cucumber, squash, melon) is always male. Here, I found out, and also found the most beautiful photos and microscopy of a squash blossom ever. Maybe not ever. I've never seen other microscopy images of squash blossoms. Anyway, gorgeous and cool, and they made me happy. I'm very much in a garden state of mind these days. Some quilting. No writing, other than daily journal entries. Does this make me a non-writer? Fickle? In hiatus? Or just lazy?

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

I guess I'm doing all right

I weeded last night, listening to Steely Dan--so my neighbors told me--play at the Toledo Zoo. We're half a block away, and so when the zoo has their summer concerts we can sit outside, or open the windows, and listen. Once my fingers were blackened and most of the bindweed/wild morning glory had been pulled up, I went inside. For a time I sat on the couch, reading and eating salt and vinegar potato chips with the window open, but it was cold (last time for a while, I imagine--I appreciated it) and starting to rain, and the music was curiously sporadic, so I closed up the window--and, um, had some of the leftover ice cream from the wedding. Potato chips and ice cream. I also had a healthy dinner, honest.

Speaking of which, I've been using to record my meals every day, and discovering that I don't get enough calories before I leave work. That explains why I'm always so hungry when I get home, and snack too much as a result. So I'm going to try bringing more food for the mornings. I started doing this to see whether I need to concentrate on any nutrients in particular, but I’m getting an additional benefit from it, which is nice since it's a bit of a pain putting in every food I eat.

I'm working on Phoebe's baby quilt, and behind on it, but I expected that. Tonight we're finally going to start on thank-you letters--not to mention cleaning up the kitchen. We're trying to decide what to do with an "ABCs of Marriage" plaque we got from some family friends of Eric's. We're both pretty "eh" about it, but it was a nice thought from a couple who don't have a lot of money to spare. Honestly I'd just as soon use the frame for something else, but I'm waiting for Eric's decision, and Eric--as is common--either doesn't have an opinion or doesn't want to make a decision. I'm going to be one of those wives who decide everything, I can just tell.

The first ten days of married life have been fine. Mostly it doesn't feel different from before, but then in a couple of tiny ways it does--and the first time I said "my husband" to a stranger seriously weirded me out. (It was at my coworker-friend C's wedding, just a week after mine, and to which I brought two Tide pens which she happily did not need. I need to pick up my wedding dress from the cleaners today and see whether hers, which we ran dry at the wedding, saved the dress or not.) Some of the checks we received as gifts are made out to "Mr. and Mrs. [him]," which kind of worries me--Eric says the banks are pretty undestanding about this, though. And if not, well, it's not like we need the money; they're gifts, after all. Overall, life right now is pretty good.

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Why I've been Googling gastroenterology

"I haven't told Dad this yet," my brother said over the phone tonight. "But I will. And then I'll ask him to help me explain it to Mom."

He's been having stomach pain and general malaise for a while. He went to the doctor and they determined that the problem was his pancreas, because it was completely inflamed. They tried drugs, they tried an MRI, nothing's worked and the only thing they've figured out is that there's a big mass in his pancreas. So he's having a biopsy next month.

"There are only three things it could be," he said. "A kidney stone, a benign tumor, or a malignant tumor. They said that if it's one of the last two they'll schedule surgery for me that same week."

He said a couple times that it was "nothing to worry about," but he also said, "If you guys have any ideas, let me know. Though I've done some Googling and I think the doctors are right." Apparently his doctor is consulting his entire group because they can't figure out what's going on and he really shouldn't be having the symptoms he's having.

At the end of our conversation he said, "Love you, sis." He hasn't said that to me in years and years. He asked me to check up on him, and I said I would--I've been feeling guilty lately because he always calls me before I call him, so I would anyway, but now I'm going to be extra-careful to talk to him often. And if he does end up needing surgery, I'll fly out to see him. And then I'll kick his ass, because that's what big sisters do.