Archive for the ‘daily life’ Category
I am 37 years old today.
I don’t feel 37, but I don’t know how old I feel either. If you are only as old as you feel, how do you know how old you feel? Rhetorical question…
Anyway, I am not at work today. I have a personal policy of never going to work on my birthday unless it is completely unavoidable, and this policy has never steered me wrong. (I have tomorrow off as well, since it didn’t make much sense to take a Thursday off and then go back in to the office just for Friday.)
John and I celebrated my birthday by going out to dinner last night at The Oakwood Club, which is another one of Dayton’s classic supper clubs/steakhouses. It was extremely good. When comparing it to The Pine Club (as was inevitable) I think that it works out to a draw. The atmosphere at both places was excellent – lots of burgundy leather and dark wood. No clear winners there. The food at The Pine Club is slightly better … or maybe that is just because we both love their bone-in rib-eye so much and The Oakwood Club didn’t even have rib-eye on the menu. However, The Oakwood Club gets the edge in the convenience factor, as they actually take reservations and credit cards, while The Pine Club still (at this point in the 21st century) accepts neither.
John also made me a pineapple upside-down cake. We had that for dessert (along with pineapple martinis) for dessert when we got back from the restaurant.
My plans for today are pretty simple… I do have a few things on my to-do list… an errand or two I must run, and an appointment to get my hair cut. But I am also going to go out to the arboretum with my camera. And then spend a substantial chunk of time on the back deck with a book.
That’s a pretty full schedule. So I suppose that I had best get on with it.
One of the things that John and I got for Christmas was three of the Terry Pratchett “Diskworld” books. I tore through them pretty quickly since, even at 250+ pages each they were not exactly difficult reads. And now (because I can be crazy/obsessive like that) I feel compelled to read all of the Diskworld books. In order. Since there are (according to Wikipedia) 39 of them, this could take some time.
I am already four books into the project (not counting the three that were presents…I have not yet decided if I will reread them or not when I reach their places in the series). I had not previously read the very early DIskworld books, and I find it really interesting that I can tell, in these books where he is still finding his voice as a writer, that Terry Pratchett was hugely influenced by Douglas Adams.
This is not the first time that I got onto a reading jag like this. When I got into my mid-century detective kick, I read all of the Nero Wolf books (in order) and tried my best to do the same with Agatha Christie’s Hercule Poirot books (mostly in order). And currently I am listening to the audiobook versions of Ian Flemming’s James Bond books while I work out. In, of course, order.
The warm spell was short-lived, and the temperature is now back in the 20s and 30s, and I am back in jeans and sweaters instead of shorts and tshirts.
All reports and rumors of global warming and climate change are obviously a liberal conspiracy. (<sarcasm>)
We now return you to your regularly scheduled winter.
Well, the 2-and-a-half-week long winter is over with, and it is now 62 degrees. It rained all yesterday and this morning, and the last of the snow from the Boxing Day storm is now gone excepts for bits of dirty white scum on the sides of the road.
I remember last March when it was in the 90s, and I wonder if that will happen again this year.
It just feels wrong to be wandering around barefoot and in shirtsleeves in the middle of January.
So… time now for the 2013 to-do list.
I can’t keep doing the thing where I correlate the number of items on my list to the number of the year anymore. It is just going to be too unwieldy. So I think that I will go with 9. 9 seems like a nice, manageable number. I would like to stack the odds in my favor a bit here since some of the list items are on the large side, and I would like to be able to make better headway on this year’s list than I did on last year’s.
- Finish the project where I photograph, identify and catalog my collection of china and glassware
- Recode AQalloys. I haven’t done a thing with Brian and Kevin’s company site since I set it up several years ago, and it could really use an overhaul. Not necessarily a design overhaul, but I really should get in and tinker around under the hood a bit. Modernize the code, make it responsive, stuff like that.
- Design and code work on this site. The perpetual project….
- Garden 5.0. We got the Burpee Seed Catalog in the mail yesterday, and I got all excited about the different varieties of tomatoes, peppers, and everything else that we can plant in the spring. I think that we will put in an order and try to start the garden from seeds again. (Reserving the right to just chuck it all and go to Home Depot and Loews to get seedlings if the whole “starting everything from seeds” plan goes sideways again.)
- Get this house in order. We do a pretty good job with maintenance and upkeep, but there are a couple of repair and upgrade projects that I think that we ought to knock out. The downstairs bathroom needs some work, there are a lot of patches of drywall that need to be patched up (mostly on corners that get knocked into), paint that needs to be re-touched, and other little things of that nature. And there are some bigger projects… for instance, I think that this is the summer where we need to do something (replace? clean? repair?) about the siding.
- Artwork update. I haven’t refreshed the photos that we have hanging in the house in years. I should replace some of the older photos with more recent ones, and I also need to re-frame some of the paintings from my Grandfather. Maybe I should think about getting a digital picture frame?
- Downsize. This goes along with the perpetual project to weed out the library. Really. We have a lot of stuff. We don’t need all of it, and the closets and storage spaces are bursting. We need to get rid of some of it.
- Get organized. A subset of the downsizing item, actually. If we have less stuff, then it will be easier to organize logically, store, and then find (and use) when we need it. Do we really need two junk drawers in the kitchen alone? I think not. Lets do something about that.
- Learn how to cook Indian food, especially curries. John and I both like Indian cuisine, and yet (other then a couple of semi-successful experiments) have not tried making it ourselves. How hard can it be? Other than the really long and intimidating lists of spices that every dish requires, of course…
And with everything else, I shall simply keep on keeping on: exercising, photography, reading, fencing, relaxing, playing with the cats, spending time with John, staying in touch with family and friends, visiting family and friends, and just enjoying life.
Laissez les bons temps rouler!
Happy New Year!
I have had a pretty good thing going the past couple of years with a retrospective on the year that just came to a close via a look-see on how I did with my year-long, high-level to-do list. So I see no reason to not continue with that trend.
Let’s begin, shall we?
1. Keep on with the exercising, but mix it up a little more.
I did so-so with this. Mostly I just kept up with the keeping up… kept doing the same-old-same old, with the addition of adding in long, hilly walks (while listening to books-on-tape… I am currently going through the Bond series by Ian Flemming). I never managed to work in any focus on weight training, however.
2. Garden 4.0
Again, so-so. The parts of the garden where we had the plants that we traditionally do very well with – tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, herbs – did very well indeed. The zucchini all died again, so I don’t think that we will mess around with them any more, and the peas and beans didn’t do all that well either.
3. Weed the library
Haha! Well, we started. John and I both find it very difficult to let go of books. We went through the books in the library bookshelves, and sorted those out into “keep” and “find a new home for” (aka “take to half-price books”) sections… but we haven’t gotten any further than that yet. Like I said… we never meet a book we didn’t like.
4. Crock pot cooking
This went well! There are a lot (not very surprising) of great sources for crock pot recipes online, and we have gotten to have several favorite recipes that are now a permanent part of our go-to dinner selections. And we keep trying new ones…. in fact, I have two new crock-pot recipes that I plan on trying out this week.
5. Improve my communication
I think that I did pretty well here. There were a couple of points where things started to fall behind a bit, but overall, I think that I did all right with staying in touch with folks.
6. I am not very crafty, and I often admire John his ability to just make things. So I am going to work on just making things also… maybe I will give knitting a try again, maybe I will get back to making Ukranian eggs. At the very least I will finish that embroidery project that I started at the beginning of last summer!
Fail! Well, I finished the embroidery project. And I realized that at heart I am just not a very crafty person, and I think that I am just fine with that.
7. Update this site
I updated the underlying code, but not the overall design. I still like the current design just fine.
8. Photograph, identify, and catalog all of the china and glassware in my collection
Ehhh… started this, but still haven’t finished it.
9. Kick up my photography a notch in general
Did a couple of (online) classes and also went to a very interesting workshop on working creatively with light by a couple of National Geographic photographers. But didn’t end up doing much beyond that, really.
10. Get authorized for (heavy weapons) combat archery. Between that and the fencing, I figure that I will be able to ironman (i.e. participate in all point battles that I am eligible for) at Pennsic this summer.
Win! I am now a combat archer, and can now participate in heavy weapons melees by shooting people (safely) in the head. And I did Ironman at Pennsic this past summer. Which was both a lot of fun and very very tiring. Fencing tournaments in the morning, and then straight into gearing up for heavy tournaments in the afternoon with scant time for a lunch break in between was exhausting.
11. Work on German longsword techniques outside of official fencing practices
Other than cutting practice (occasionally) in the back yard, I didn’t really get much done here. There are only so many hours in a day. I did end up co-teaching a class at KWAR (Known World Academy of the Rapier) with John back in November, but it wasn’t focused on longsword.
12. Mobile design and development
This site now has a responsive layout (try it out and see! Take a look at it in different browser sizes and even on your smartphone.) and I have been doing a lot with responsive design and mobile development projects at work, so I this that I will count this as a success as well.
So this year was a pretty mixed bag as far as the overall goals went. Some I did really well on, some only so-so, and some I completely bombed out on. That’s okay, there is always 2013,
We have already passed through the nice, Indian summer portion of fall (temperatures in the upper 70s here last week) and now are firmly in the cold, rainy, and miserable portion of fall. I spent a lot of the last couple of weeks traveling for work, so I didn’t even get to enjoy the nice bits of fall.
Today has been so gloomy and overcast that it has felt like it was early evening since about 11am. In other words, it has been a good day to stay indoors and do chores.
The weekend before last, John and I retired the garden for the year. Despite the fact that there were still green tomatoes on the vine and some of the vegetables were still trying gamely to product flowers, we had had several frosts. And frosts equal the effective end of the growing and ripening system. We removed the irrigation system of weeper hoses and coiled them up in the shed for next year. Ditto the tomato cages. Those were pulled up, cleaned off, folded neatly, and stacked in a corner of the shed. All of the vegetables and herbs, with the exception of the rosemary (which is an evergreen) and the sage (which is also used to colder climates) were pulled up and chopped into the soil, to provide fertilizer for next year. A couple of rounds of fallen leaves have also been shopped up (via the lawnmower) and layered over the fallow garden as well.
We even ripped out and dug up the blackberry and raspberry vines. Those were pretty much a failed experiment. We never got enough berries off of them to make them worthwhile (the birds saw to that) and they were so aggressive that it was a constant battle to keep them from overgrowing the vegetables.
I also brought my houseplants back inside, which I honestly should have done weeks ago. The two Christmas cacti are just fine, but the African violets were pretty frost nipped. One of them has died, but the other might still be able to recover from its extended sojourn out of doors.
The weekend before that (so three weeks ago) we were up in Cleveland visiting with my parents, and celebrating my brother’s newly-minted PhD degree. The parts was a very enjoyable all-day buffet while friends and family came and went. By now my brother has probably moved out to California to join our other two brothers while he looks for a job in industry. (He has no desire to do a post-doc or to stay in academia, and I cannot say that I blame him.)
Right now, I kind of wish that I were out on the west coast as well. Sunny skies, warmer temperatures, and better weather than here.
For a while now, for over two years in fact, John has been getting up at 5am, lacing up his shoes, grabbing his MP3 player (loaded with audio books) and going for an early-morning walk around our neighborhood for exercise.
At 5am, when the alarm goes off and John gets up, I roll over and hit the snooze button for another half-hour. I don’t get up until around 5:30-5:40, when I pad downstairs and put the kettle on so that morning coffee is ready when John gets home from his walk.
I admire John’s ability to get up early and do a workout. I have tried morning workouts before, and never felt like I was getting as much out of them as I get from afternoon or evening workouts. The difference between us is that John views workouts as a great way to energize for the day’s work, and I view them as a great way to de-stress after the day’s work.
Besides, if we both were into morning workouts, who would make the coffee?
Recently I have started to pick up John’s walking routine. On days when I work from home a brisk 4 mile (give or take) walk-jog up and down ad around the hills of the neighborhood is a great way to spend the lunch break. And on days when I can’t get into the gym at the office (ah, the luxury of a well appointed on-site gym, even if it is a small one) because of meetings or deadlines, it is nice to ramble around the neighborhood to unwind.
Unlike John, I have never been able to easily get into audio books, my MP3 player is loaded with RadioLab episodes instead.
Things that I have seen…
The duck family at the (ever shrinking, because of the drought) pond at the park down the street, who always seem to expect food, even though I have never fed them.
A tiny peach tree, overloaded with rapidly ripening peaches, and bearing a hand-lettered sigh that reads “Please don’t pick my fruit without asking first.”
A mailbox that is so overrun by trumpet vines that I have no idea how (or even if) the mailman is able to make deliveries.
The Very Friendly Cat (not sure if it is a stray or not… it seems well fed, but has no collar) at the bottom of the hill who usually strolls over for a little petting.
The woman who walks her two dogs on about the same schedule I walk. I have seen her most times that I go out. One of the dogs is a small, white, fluffy, Bichon-style model. The other is huge, and must have Great Dane or Mastiff somewhere in its background mix. The noteworthy detail about the trio is that they all wear matching sunglasses.
I like being able to get a completely different view of my neighborhood by walking through it, then I get by driving.
First, the good news. The flowering Japanese cherry tree that we planted in the front of the house to replace the crab apple tree is finally budding and putting out leaves and flowers. Hooray! For the longest time after we planted it, it just sat there, looking like a dead stick and stubbornly doing nothing, even as all of the other trees in the neighborhood grew leaves and flowered. It is a slow starter, but at leave it is still alive.
If only the vegetable seedlings that we intended to use in the garden this year were doing so well.
We had the brilliant idea several months ago that we should start seeds and then use those for planting the vegetable garden. We would save money (as buying the seedlings from Home Depot or Lowes is not cheap) and we would be assured of being able to get exactly what kind of vegetables we wanted. So we ordered a bunch of seeds, John built a super-cool germination area (that looks remarkably like a chemical hood) in the basement, and we put the seed in the little starter trays and waited.
We didn’t have to wait too long. They started out so well. After a little while it became pretty obvious that there wasn’t enough room in the starter trays for them, and that they would need to be re-potted in order to give them more room.
Easter weekend, it was nicer and warm and sunny, so we decided to re-pot everything on the back deck, and also plant some of the little seedlings right away and see how they would do.
They didn’t do so well. Everything that we re-potted and planted died. And almost everything that we re-potted and took back inside died also. The only exceptions were two ancho chili seedlings and three zucchini seedlings. I guess that the re-potting was just too much of a shock to their root systems.
Lesson learned. We may try starting seeds again next year, but we will start them out in the large biodegradable pots instead of in the too-small plastic trays.
This year we will once again be going to Home Depot for seedlings. We will probably try re-planting the garden in another week or two.
I have never been one of those flexible kids. Those cheerleader types. The ones who can turn a perfect cartwheel, handspring, or backflip. Who can drop down into the splits and then roll up effortlessly into a headstand.
The splits will probably remain forever out of my reach.
However. After three years of yoga, at the age of almost-36, I can finally do a headstand.
And I don’t even need a wall behind me, ‘just in case’.