Wednesday, July 23, 2008


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So, I had all these posts started a while back before work got really bad, so you're getting some "historical treats" now.... I have a stitch weekend coming up (huzzah! No work on Friday!), so expect a brief silence followed (hopefully soon) by lots of eye candy.

About two weeks after I started working full-time again, I had a sense of deja-vu. It had nothing to do with long hours or eating takeout for every meal or feeling like cleaning and laundry were an endless cycle squeezed into spare moments. It had to do with shopping. Working full-time and not having any time for hobbies, for some reason, makes me want to buy stuff. Real bad.

It started innocently old Roomba was dying a slow, pitiful death, and now I don't have time to fiddle with it or dust-mop myself. Plus, I had walked past a Brookstone a few weeks before and heard the dulcet purr of the new model (as compared to the unwieldy screech mine was making) much quieter than previous models. So, I headed to Linens 'n' Things with my 20% off coupon, and procured Dusty II:

But the hankering for new gadgets did not stop there. I have a coworker who is a compulsive hummer. This person will hum tunes, or tunelessly, or mutter, "OhhhHHHhhh..." throughout the day and it drives me BATTY. I have been unable to come up with a tactful way to address this, so, as any logical person would decide, I must have an iPod instead. Once my heart was set on the blue nano (sooo cute!), I discovered blue was only available in the expensive high-capacity version. *sigh* A few days later, came to my rescue with a refurbed one even cheaper than the silver-only smaller model. I've included items for scale so that everyone should be able to grasp its wee cuteness:

And the best thing? Oh, yeah, it's right there on the screen...I can now watch LOST video podcasts!! I must also point out that above the teensy iPod is a weensy bamboo crochet hook I procured at Knitch. Perfect for slipping in the sock-on-the-go bag. And it was only 2 smackers!!

The other big purchase was a recliner. Now, I never thought that Michael's design sensibilities would ever allow a recliner into our home until he was a few decades older and comfort considerations overrode his aesthetic objections. Me, I didn't care too much either way, having lived with a dad who was seldom out of his big ugly chair. Before I met Michael I wouldn't have thought it possible that a man could exist without a recliner. Anyway, we went to ADAC's annual sample sale (home of the $50 dupioni silk comforter and shams from last year) and scored this awesome leather recliner that actually manages clean lines in the midst of its insane comfort:

Finally, I give you the frog:

This purchase did not require a major investment, but I love the way he looks with our alebrijes. He comes fresh from causing an uproar at the Atlanta Downtown Tour of Lofts and Lifestyles street market. The sweet old Southern gentleman presiding over the booth that had frogs, frogs, and more frogs (along with a couple of grasshoppers) explained all about how to gently drag the stick (pictured in the frog's mouth) over the ridges on his back to mimic a croaking sound. There were BIG frogs that sound like bullfrogs, medium frogs (like this guy) that sound like garden frogs and tiny frogs that sound like tree frogs.

Michael and I were fascinated and spent a long time choosing the tone and paint job we liked best. We would have probably gone for a bullfrog if there'd been a paint job that spoke to us like this one. Anyway, in the midst of our testing, and retesting, this guy stops about 10 feet away on my right cocks his head and says, "If you do that one more time, I'm going to have to take it away."

Excuse me?

I give him my standard response to awkward social situations, which is to smile, giggle, and ignore him as I continue with what I was doing. He says again, "I am serious. That is really annoying. That frog is, like, getting on my nerves. It is like...." Here he pauses for a moment, rolls his eyes back, and his head begins to shake as if he has his phone on vibrate and for some reason has strapped it to his head. It's a little disturbing, to say the least.

Did I mention we were at an outdoor market? A public, outdoor market? Dude...walk away if you don't like it. He continues ranting for a couple minutes more, as I stare at him, waiting for him to just walk away already. Being that the artist who made the frog is standing right there, crazed homeless guy is being, like, really rude in what he's saying.

Sorry. I should be fair. He was not necessarily homeless. He could have been one of those guys that pretends to be homeless so he can scam a couple bucks toward the beer fund until the next pay day. (Yes, this has actually happened. You learn things when you live downtown.)

Anyway, he finally moves on, but not two minutes later, a guy comes right up to my shoulder and says practically in my ear, "If that were in my house, that would look like a really great chew toy for my dog."

My defensive giggle doesn't even kick in as I stare at him, aghast. Instead, he giggles manically towards his other stylish friends and mercifully continues on his way. I turn to the artist (who is now looking distinctly annoyed despite his good manners and restraint) and say, "Well, there's at least two people here that I wouldn't invite to my house!"

Every Stimulus has a Reaction....

Monday, July 21, 2008

Ornamental June

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I never did a report on my stitching for Ornamental June (stitching on ornaments from Just Cross Stitch Ornament issues). I did finish one ornament, Poinsettia by Britty Kitty from the 2007 issue (for this year's exchange):

I hope to have it "ornamentified" before the exchange on Friday!! I can't believe how dark the red for this is (it's Cinders by GAST). It's nearly black!

I also worked on a Wee Works ornament...I can't remember the name, but it's stitched on three cards of Tokens and Trifles Bon Bon cards. I'm on the first one... *sigh* I don't have that much progress to show from last month, but I've designated it my travel project for the month, since it includes red and white.

I finally finished my surprise ornament for the exchange, also (it's even ornamentified!)...but I can't show it to you until after the exchange!! I'm rather pleased with how it turned out, and it represents a "first" for me, so I can't wait to show it off!

What month is it again??

Friday, July 18, 2008

The Chronicles of WALL-E: Speed Panda and the Iron Skull

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One thing I love about summer is summer movie season. So far this season, we've seen
  • Ironman
  • Speed Racer
  • The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian
  • Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull
  • Kung-Fu Panda
  • WALL-E

Given this list, I would have expected to enjoy WALL-E, Indiana Jones and Prince Caspian the most, and Ironman and Kung-Fu Panda the least. In truth, it was almost the opposite. Notice, I said enjoy. This does not mean Kung-Fu Panda is a "better" movie than, say, Prince Caspian. We're talking enjoyment. And hopefully, that's what you'll get from my mini-reviews....

Iron Man

I had no desire to see this movie. Although I'm a minor superhero fan, I didn't grow up reading DC and Marvel comic books, so I didn't really know Ironman's story. I could have picked him out of a lineup (even a lineup that included other superheroes...because, you know, otherwise the suit would have been a dead giveaway) and that's about it. Couldn't have told you his "real" name. Couldn't have made a single guess at his origin story. Couldn't have drawn one line to him on the "match the superhero to the supervillain" worksheet. But after a couple good reviews from people I trust, who have rather disparate movie tastes, I became fascinated. How could both these people like this movie?? Well, I'm here to tell you, it is good. Just as good as they'd said. Robert Downey, Jr., is brilliant as Tony Stark. Gwyneth is brilliant as well (although we'll just leave her character name out of it. Pur-lease, who comes up with these???) SFX: great. Story: great. The only major objectionable content is a reporter who badgers Tony about his scruples and turns out to have none of her own. But as it plays to his character arc, and sets up such a fabulous scene for Gwyneth, it gets a pass. Just know if you're taking a teenage boy, you might need to have a brief eye-covering in there. It's incredibly violent. But I think I was most gratified that nowhere in the movie did Ironman say, "Can't we all just get along?" It was clear that, no, they couldn't. So by golly, let's defend the innocent against the guys with big guns rather than blather on at them with words they can't hear, anyway, for the rat-a-tat-tat of their machine guns. I loved it.

Speed Racer

I heard one reviewer say that watching this movie was like being hit in the head with a pack of Starburst. Sugar fiend that I am, I loved it. I enjoyed the cartoon (though I was not a superfan), and I was hoping the Wachowski brothers would create a great look for it. I think they succeeded. The race sequences were brilliantly conceived. At first, I was taken aback by the fact that it wasn't "regular" racing...the tracks are more like roller coaster tracks, and a "jump" button on the cars is standard. But then I realized that they needed to "plus" the racing experience, and this was a great and fun way to do it. The movie has some very funny moments, and it's all about family, so what's not to like? Not to mention Matthew Fox in leather...and doing can you say "no" to that??

The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian

I liked about half of this movie. Not the first half, nor the last half, nor the half in the middle. I liked the half that stuck to the book plot. The half I didn't like was where Peter was going through the same exact character journey he went through in the first movie ("Gee, I have to lead a bunch of people! Maybe I'll be a total jerk about it! Well, that didn't work too well....") and Susan was succumbing to hormones. Once again, my favorite character ended up being Edmund. I can't wait to see what Skandar does when he's older...hopefully he does some good films and doesn't become too "arty" like Dan Radcliffe ("Eq! Eq!") The interaction between the brothers was priceless. My least favorite part of the movie (and this will only be a spoiler if you've recently read the book) was when they introduced a plot point that C.s. Lewis has Reepicheep suggest as a viable option, merely to show Reepicheep's chivalry-over-reality character trait. "Hey, a mouse suggested this campaign that's doomed to fail! Let's put that in the movie!" Reepicheep, on the other hand, though not perfect to my vision, was great.

Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull

I've now seen this twice, since we took Michael's dad for Father's Day. I enjoyed it much more the second time around, although the plot holes gaped wider. The good: Harrison Ford cannot help but be charming as Indy, and Shia LaBeouf is great. He's fast becoming one of my favorite young actors, probably because of his subtle grasp of comedy. Also good: The best introduction to "what time period are we in again?" ever. The bad: Remember, according to Spielberg & Lucas, Indy is an archaeologist who hunts down artifacts with a supernatural bent. I often forget that last part and think only of adventures. But you're a little more slapped in the face with it in this movie. Turn brain off and try not to make sense of it, 'cause the sense ain't there for you to find. The ugly: An homage to Tarzan, or just random swinging through the trees with monkeys? You decide.

Kung-Fu Panda

By all rights of taste, I should not be a Jack Black fan. But yet, I am. The man makes me laugh. Now, granted, I have not seen most of his movies. But School of Rock? That's the funny, dude. And the funny continues in this movie. JB is at his comic timing best, and the supporting cast is awesome, though seriously under-used. I didn't even realize Viper was voiced by Lucy Liu until the end credits! Which, by the way, are worth staying for. They're not as flat-out awesome as the opening credits, which rock in stereo, but still worth it. I went to see this movie based on good reviews, since I am not, in general, a DreamWorks Animation fan. They tend to do things on the cheap, and it shows. Kung-Fu Panda is an exception to that rule, though. The character animation is probably the best they've done. And, you are in for possibly the best fake-out moment in all of cinema. Seriously.


This was probably my most-anticipated movie so far...even more than Caspian or Indy. I mean, is there any way I wouldn't enjoy a Pixar movie? I laughed my head off during the short at the beginning and settled in for the main event. The graphics blew me away. I remember during previous movies periodically telling myself, "This is CG!!" During this first half of this one, it was more like I completely forgot about it and there were a couple distinct moments where something made me remember. It was a good way. The movie was engrossing, but afterwards, I felt vaguely uncomfortable. I LOVED the story, but I wasn't sure if an insidious environmental agenda was being pressed on me. Kind of "An Inconvenient Robot"...until I read this interview with Andrew Stanton, the director (WARNING: this article contains spoilers!). Without being spoilericious: If all your needs were fulfilled, what would happen to your relationships with others? Environmentalism shoved down my throat? No, thanks. Caring more about others than your own selfish desires? Now there's a message I can get behind.

More excitement than you can shake a Pixy Stick at.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Decked out

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The next morning after we saw the first hibiscus bloom, we awoke to this:

Fortunately, that was, as you can see, in the daylight. No more neighbor troubles at this time. She has been home, but she's been quiet! Thank you for all the well wishes and commiserations.

I was most disturbed when Michael told me he saw a cat in our neighbor's window! Actually, I think it looked more like this. Our 4th of July party briefly considered a cat rescue mission.

I wish I'd put my hand in one of these pictures...the flowers are HUGE! The only downside to these beauties is that they only last a day, and by the evening, having endured a warm wind all day, their petals are flowing with the breeze like the skirts of a swaying dancer. These are actually Swamp Hibiscus...although the name sounds awful, it just means that while they love bright, direct sun (a must for our deck), they drink water like fish! They even love to be planted directly in water.

But you want to see the rest of the deck! Here's the view from our deck door:

We got the great pots at No Mas! Productions and thought they were a perfect size. Then we went to Pike Nursery. We had talked to a lady there who has done lots of urban decks, and she had advised us to pick pots first. Unfortunately, she wasn't around when we first got there. Another lady tried to help us, but she kept telling us that our pots were too small for everything we wanted. When we would finally pick out something that would "fit", we'd say, "Well, what else can we add?" And she'd say, "Oh, no...that's going to take up the whole pot. Your pot is really not that big." OK, lady, we get that, but what about the store display of container gardening we're standing by that has three plants this size in a smaller pot than ours??? We couldn't make her understand. Fortunately, she finally left us alone (out of frustration, I think), and our original helper showed up. It only took her about 10 minutes to help us pick all these plants! And you should have heard her telling me to "mush" the Creeping Jenny in with the hibiscus! The other lady would have fainted! She was definitely all about the was more important that the plants be happy than us, LOL!!
Closeup of the first pot...

...and some of its residents. This is an Egyptian Starflower (or pentus), just in front of Quicksilver (or Silver Shield). It's insane how much the Quicksilver has grown since this picture!

These are the fan flowers, behind which you can just make out the Mexican Heather. It has doubled in size since this picture, but it's still dwarfed by the other plants, which have just taken off! I'll have to move it to a different pot next year. Um, if it's an annual. Excuse my "new gardener" ignorance, but I can't even remember what's an annual at this point!

Moving from here around the deck towards the hibiscus...which, by the way, is skirted by Creeping Jenny and its wonderful electric greenery...

We encounter one of our more "succulent" pots. At least, the Ice Plant (with the pink flowers) and the euphorbia splurge are. We thought the Medusa Rush was as well...but...we've lost a lot of it because we didn't give it enough water. I should have recognized it as being similar to the grass that used to grow around the lake where I grew up. There are two pots like this, and two of the hibiscus...

...but the sixth pot is a little different. While it does contain some Quicksilver and fan flowers, instead of another Egyptian Starflower, it has some Angelonia instead. I love the Angelonia, and it's been blooming constantly!!

And look what else "grew" while I've been away!

These are the Pomatomus socks (or Hippopotamus socks, as DF Jill calls them...because I could never pronounce them right!), knit it Knit Picks Dancing (sadly, discontinued). If I had them to do over again, I'd probably add a half a repeat to the leg length. I did only two instead of three, because with my short legs I thought they'd be too long. They're knit top down, though, so I couldn't try them out except by holding them up to my leg. They really stretch wider/shorter when you put them on, though, so I might have been OK with three repeats. The pattern didn't make "sense" to me until the first repeat of the second sock. Before that, it was a super-tedious chart-reading exercise. After, it was like, Duh! These are definitely not beginner socks, but they could be accomplished by anyone who's knit a pair before. After all, they're my second pair. =)

I came, I planted, I knit. The deck looks exactly like a tropical paradise now. Well, not exactly.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Lost Weekend

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This was meant to be a post showing all my pretty deck plants. It was meant to have been posted last Sunday, after chores were done Saturday, the 4th was all planned for, and I was rested and relaxed. Instead, I give you the following epic saga:

Friday night, 1am - Heather and Michael trundle off to bed, exhausted from the week but looking forward to getting a lot of rest and a weekend of many chores, followed by much relaxation.

2:43am - Heather is rocketed out of a deep sleep by music from the neighbor (who shares a wall, and who we have attemped repeatedly to meet). You know how when you're asleep, and a noise starts, and it sort of gradually works its way into your dream until you eventually wake up? This is not one of those times. The sound level is vaguely what you'd experience if you went into the bathroom of one of those clubs where you cannot actually talk to anyone because the music is so loud.

2:49am - Michael is woken by Heather. He's a much sounder sleeper.

3:20am - Consciousness and gross disbelief have finally reached the level where action is incumbent. Michael goes downstairs to try and find something to bang on the wall with that will 1) be loud enough to be heard above the cacophony and 2) not damage the wall in the process.

3:31am - Heather decides banging on her door would be a better idea and dons clothing.

3:32am - Michael presents his belief that he is not capable of calm, lucid, and, especially, calm discourse with the neighbor.

3:33am - Heather bangs on the neighbor's door. Repeatedly.

3:35am - Between banging, Heather hears a smoke detector beeping as if its battery needs to be changed. This is unsurprising, since it's about 4 in the morning. Heather considers the possibility that the neighbor is hearing impaired to a great degree.

3:43am - Michael goes upstairs to check out the changed sound level. From the deck on the 4th story, he yells that although the music is still clearly audible outside, it is "better" inside. Heather goes inside.

3:45am - Heather stuffs earplugs in both ears and tries not to hear the music.

4:01am - Heather decides that she really can still hear the music and is too worked up to sleep, so she goes downstairs to play Mass Effect.

4:12am - Michael joins Heather. Many discussions about the sanity/rudeness/evilness of the neighbor ensue. At some point, it is decided that Peter Gabriel is, in fact, the devil, due to the appearance of dancing dead chickens in the "Sledgehammer" video. Later, it is unclear why this conclusion seemed so inevitable, but the stigma remains. The neighbor comes to be known as "one of Peter Gabriel's minions." Many scathing letters to the neighbor are mentally composed. Revenge schemes are plotted and abandoned as unethical/illegal/immoral and just plain unChristian.

6:30am - The sun is starting to come up. Heather's headache has reached epic proportions and the music seems to have mellowed, so sleep is attempted again.

10:30am - Heather's parents call to confirm they're all going to "Oklahoma!" at the Fox Theatre.

10:51am - Heather attemps lucid conversation with her father. This was always going to go badly.

11:11am - Heather's mother calls back and sympathizes like an actual person.

11:42am - Showering happens. Heather successfully fails to drown.

Let me sum up the rest of the day here...all we got done was eating and picking up a FedEx package (which was a feat in itself, and turned out to be the wrong thing for the second time) before Heather's parents arrived for dinner and the show. We pick things up after we've gotten to bed at about 12:30...

Saturday night, 3:30am - Music. The volume is slightly less than last night, but still on the order of club bathroom. Heather goes to bang on the door again, not bothering to wake Michael.

3:40am - Heather is still banging. Volume is unchanged. Michael yells from the deck for her to come upstairs and he will hammer on the wall.

3:52am - Michael holds an IKEA table leg against the wall with a piece of cardboard in between. He hammers on the leg in interesting rhythmic patterns.

3:53am - Michael destroys the table leg. Fortunately, the table was only $12.

3:55am - The volume decreases to the point where earplugs block 50% of the songs. Actual sleep doesn't occur for probably another 45 minutes. Peter Gabriel is cursed.

The day unwinds in a headachy haze. We knock (nicely) on the neighbor's door about 7pm to try to talk to her. She does not answer. We compose a letter where Michael identifies many songs played during the nights and sorts the volumes she has produced at various times into two categories he calls, "LOUD" and "CRAZY LOUD". We slip it through her mail slot. A few attempts at cleaning are made.

This brings us to Sunday night.

10:30pm - Music starts.

11:30pm - We head to bed.

Monday,12:41am - As the music continues, Michael wields the table leg and hammer again.

12:47am - The volume decreases. Sleep is attempted.

12:53am - It's still too loud, even with the earplugs in. In lieu of weeping, Heather bangs on the table leg in an incessant fast staccato.

12:59am - Music decreases in volume to "earplug level".

Monday morning we slip another note in her door saying that things are better, but still very audible. We request a 10pm cutoff for that night, since Heather has a stupidly early meeting Tuesday morning and we are very sleep deprived.

Monday night, the music is slightly below earplug level. Prior to installation of earplugs, exhaustion takes over.

During the day Monday, Michael does some research. He discovers that Atlanta's sound ordinance specifies "nighttime hours" as 9:01pm-7am the next morning. The sound level should be less than 35dB at the shared wall. We consider purchasing a sound meter. We slip a note in her door thanking her for keeping the music below "earplug level".

Now, here is where it gets good. Tuesday, Michael calls our architect and finds out that she is a renter (hurray!) and tells him what's been happening. He's very apologetic and suggests we call "Fred" (not his real name), who was the financial partner for our duplex, and is therefore her landlord. Michael gets in touch with "Fred", who tells Michael that our neighbor text messaged him saying, "What's up with my neighbors...they keep banging on the wall and leaving me notes. Maybe this isn't the place for me." He suggests to Michael that if we find a tenant who will pay the $2K/month rent (that's more than our mortgage!!!), he can maybe have her evicted. LOL! Michael tells him that we just want to talk to her and "Fred" seems very relieved. "Fred" also drops the news that our neighbor runs a club in Cabbagetown. Michael does some research and finds that most clubs in Ctown close at 2:30am. Heather is somewhat relieved that the neighbor's occupation is actually legal, as "bartender" was the most legal and...kindest...option she could previously come up with.

You're thinking, "WHY DON'T YOU CALL THE POLICE!?!!??" But, you know, we may have to live with her for a while, and that's no way to start a relationship. Maybe banging on the wall isn't, either, but she didn't leave us with a whole lot of choices.

Last night was blissfully quiet. Heather's sure we're on a list somewhere as being "difficult".

Our neighbor plays her music really, Really, REALLY loud. She runs a club, so her eardrums are likely leathery thickend slabs of skin that can only be vibrated by a sheer force of nature. And Heather has no idea why she has descended to writing in third person.

Old Geek-outs