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As a non-regular reminder, this journal is friend-locked. I also have a few filters even if you are already on my friends list. Some of these are opt-in. Specifically there is a spiritual one and a Krayzen/gaming one that I do not inflict on the people generally.

Art Postcards List

I will be giving away approximately index card sized pieces of art. If you are interested in one in the future there are details on my craft blog post.

First day hiking

I am not one for resolutions, but I do like the idea of "begin as you mean to go on" for both the new year and all other beginnings.

As such I plan on doing some hiking on January 1st, since work obligingly gives it to me off. If you are interested in this as well let me know. I am happy to plan an excursion, as I am going either way.

Much love to Majes and Jasra

Things continue to speed by. Last weekend we had the culmination of a lot of work leading up to [personal profile] majes and [personal profile] jasra's relationship shindig/reception. Similar to [personal profile] salvbard's and my one, they had gone to a Justice of the Peace first (which we were honored to witness). They reception was a simple ritual, gathered family and friends, with party after.

Before the wedding [personal profile] salvbard and I helped prep the two sites for the reception and party respectively. This meant some lovely gardening time as well as house prep. I also was able to help with some last minute costuming needs when [personal profile] majes' hat arrived with the wrong color band and things needed to be pressed.

Before the ritual each said a brief speech. [personal profile] jasra seemed very nervous as she started, but quickly found her groove as her words were full of love and truth and history, which are all mighty, strengthening things. [personal profile] majes' words were eloquent and relaxed in his love and comfort with the love and acceptance between them. In both cases I really felt the space they had both built for [personal profile] salvbard and I into both their lives and this celebration of their love for each other. This was both explicit acknowledgement in their words as well as the fact that it was important to them both to have is be visibly a part, when we would also have been OK being the quiet force that just made it happen for them if they preferred.

[personal profile] salvbard and I were asked to be part of the ritual in addition to helping with the event in general. He started the fire at the center of the labyrinth, and I had collected well wishes from guests, which I handed them to be read aloud. There were many lovely wishes, which is maybe to be expected from such an amazing community.

The party seemed to go well, although I retreated after making sure [personal profile] majes and [personal profile] jasra weren't going to get all caught up in hosting duties. [personal profile] salvbard also helped me make a fall sangria that [personal profile] jasra had found and was interested in. (I never actually had any or really much else to drink that evening. If you tried it let me know your thoughts. Make again?)

It was a lovely day, which I was glad to have been part of. So high time to record my recollections before I forget more.

Birthday Reflections

So I hadn't written a whole lot about it, because I was going through a lot of stuff with my grandmother's decline and subsequent death at the time, but there was lots of awesome and thoughtful stuff surrounding my birthday.

The Friday before my birthday, I took the day off and wandered the city on my own. I spent a lot of time downtown, in particular in the Boston Commons. I did some drawing of the large fountain near Park Street Station and listened to young musicians. I lay on a blanket on the grass, enjoying the weather and the movement of people. I did some knitting and wandered down Newbury Street to get some birthday yarn. (Windsor Button I miss you!) In general it was a day devoted to whimsy and art, which a thing that needs to be indulged in periodically.

Then that evening [personal profile] majes as always is a fantastic companion for that sort of culinary adventure. Our waiter was adorable and easy to communicate what we were thinking of to get suggestions. Other highlights included a particularly well balanced beet salad with goat cheese (a favorite in general but this was particularly well done) and lemon poppy seed bread with lemon sorbet, basil meringue, and sour cherries. ([personal profile] regyt , the sour cherries made me think of you!) I don't even care for meringues in general, so I was surprised that they were really good. Lemony things are a favorite anyways, but still the whole thing was outstanding. Oh and apple-pie-in-a-glass! I have no idea anymore what I ended up getting as a desert wine, but it was phenomenal. That description makes it sound cloyingly sweet, which it was not at all. There were definite qualities of apple and spices that made it reminiscent of apple pie, with just enough sweetness to smooth things out and not be considered a dry wine.

The day of my birthday was also a planned beach outing for R's birthday. When [personal profile] majes and I arrived early to the beach it was empty, and it is my favorite part of the day on the beach anyways. The quiet with mostly just the sounds of the water was restful, and I delighted in the reflections on the water. It was good that we had arrived early though, as the beach began to fill up long before the rest of the crew showed up. [livejournal.com profile] ifuonlyknew arrived with curly_chick & T. T & J brought their kids. And G & A were there with the girls. There was a very good turn out, and I got to meet and talk at some length to several new people. (And hey if you know the username of anyone I saw that day, let me know!)

Also on my birthday proper the whole family (with the delightful Popple) went out for Thai at Sweet Ginger, which I wasn't familiar with in Somerville. Popple got the spiciest thing ever and tried to smoke out the entire restaurant. We were not to be deterred though, and opening the door helped the stressed HVAC system cope with the problem. (Love you Popple!) Not only was I appreciative of tasty Thai food, but also I appreciated everyone's consideration of the fact that I really like to financially support places in my home city. Then afterwards we headed to the movies, where we saw Monsters University with G with her girls as well. Fun!

I received thoughtful cards from [livejournal.com profile] jasra and [livejournal.com profile] ifuonlyknew.

And of course I got to go on a waterfall rappelling adventure with [livejournal.com profile] salvbard

There was lots of amazing experiences with people I care about, AND I got to turn a prime number.

Waterfall Rapelling in NH

Last year my big adventure that I wanted to do for my birthday was to go whitewater rafting. And I loved the idea of continuing that trend with another adventure, although I had not specifically thought about it needing to be water related as well.

So last weekend salvbard and I went waterfall rappelling with Northeast Mountaineering at Ripley Falls. Originally crazybone has planned to go with us, but unfortunately they had such an unexpected response to their promotion that they filled very quickly. The date we were able to grab was sadly in conflict with one of shows the radio plays he was in.

Despite the disappointment that he was unable to join us, it was an amazing day. It is a lovely trip in general, although there was some frustration in finding the bunkhouse. (Apparently most GPS and even Google maps get very confused about their location. In the future a better location to look for is Storyland as they are just a minute down the road.

This adventure is classed as beginner, which I think was reasonable. There is a moderate hike in to the falls from the parking lot, which I was grateful for to warm up muscles that were stiff from sitting in the car for so long. 

We had three guides with us and 6 rappellers. They say that generally they only go up to 8 at a time unless it is one group altogether, to avoid people having to stand around as much. (Rappeling was done one at a time with another line for assisting if necessary.) One of the guides was fairly new (the intern) but she explained things really well. And one of the two guys in particular seemed very experiences. Waiting at the top of the falls we talked a lot about travel and the places he has been/hiked/climbed. His next trip was for a mountain near the Nepal/Tibet boarder.

I have never rappelled before, although salvbard has. (He was correspondingly more graceful and had more control.) I was gratified though that I had decent endurance, and the hand and upper body strength I have acquired from pole dancing class was useful. There was one spot that was hard for everyone just because it was a slightly longer drop down than could be done in even a large step, but honestly once you got past that (it was near the beginning) it was very straightforward. I think even if you were not as active as I am though, you could absolutely do this as an experience. Level of strength and activity just makes it easier and with less soreness the next day(s).

Unfortunately my shoe-wear was not as good as I had hoped. I hadn't fully realized how bad my sandals (which are nominally waterproof) were once they got soaked. Specifically the Velcro on the back of the heel did not want to stay closed once it was really wet. So I was a little shaken after the first descent.

In the end though, I did do another run, which went a little more smoothly than the first. I think this was mostly due to a little bit of experience and knowing more what to expect, but they were done two slightly different ways. The first run was done with the assist line being done from the top, and the second (and third in salvbard 's case) was from the bottom. As they were just ready to assist if needed, this was more of a difference simply because the ropes were threaded differently, and so the assist line was a little more out of your way on the later climb.

All and all, this was a really cool experience, and I was glad to have done it. Doing so with the waterfall in particular made it a little crazy and exciting. I would do it with a waterfall again, but I am glad that this was not a particularly difficult rappel, as the waterfall added interest enough. It did get me more interested in regular rappelling (and conversely climbing although we didn't do any) than I think I would have been otherwise though.

Cut Flowers

Generally I do not care for cut flowers. They make me sort of sad, but I appreciate the idea. Today I found a daisy blossom with a short stem lying in the middle of the sidewalk, and I did not want to leave it to wilt unappreciated and trampled. So I tucked it behind my ear and brought it to work with me.

Live flowers are like reminders of hope and promise of fruition to come. Cut flowers seem more like appreciating the good and beautiful things before they are gone. Both are important messages, but apparently we are going with the latter today.
Hey locals (and people of the community who have locals who would be willing to get these from me), my awesome sister provided me with several pairs of Vibram Fivefingers shoes. I have no idea the particular shoe styles as I admit they mostly look the same to my untrained eye. I have pairs available in size 42, 43 or 44 if anyone is interested. I am posting this elsewhere as well. Feel free to express interest even if it seems like someone else did first. I am happy to have contingency plans if they don't get picked up right away. I want these out of my kitchen.


Gardening Preseason

We are well into the gardening preseason. Which is to say that I am hard at work with planning, but it is still too early to plant yet.

In terms of what is already in the ground:
Daffodils, hyacinths, and tulips are up but not budding yet. At least in my yard they have a few more weeks unless they are forced by unseasonably warm weather. None of the more delicate leafed perennials are out yet as it is too early. The garlic is unreasonably cheerful and thriving, and the chives are doing well.

I find my thoughts hanging on the fact that I want to get out and prune, which I could start to do anyways. Last year I wished I had more vigorously pruned back the roses, and that I could do sooner than later. The fruit trees are just starting to have close budded blossoms. The plum trees have to wait all the way past blooming to the first formation of leaves, but the other fruit trees can be a little earlier (but not yet).

The wisteria will need some loving chopping back but I am not sure when to start that. I should do some research.

Things i need to remember:
The asiatic lillies in the back yard need to be transplanted, as they are not getting quite enough sun and were spindly as a result of last year's move. The potato tower might be good to disassemble back to it's stage one state. I need to check the heather for any new growth this spring as I am not sure it survived our neighbors very thoughtful salting of the sidewalk. Tomatoes and peppers must move this year to give that bed a break. I should think about what would be good next in rotation there.

Any body interested in sharing?
I want to remulch the tiny corner bed with the lilacs and hosta. It is only like a 2.5' by 2.5' bed though, so I don't need a whole bag.

This year I would like to make some infrastructure changes to the altar garden, including adding a small flat shelf for offerings. I am not sure on whether the logistics of that will mean moving the wigeila or just trimming them back a bunch as they are overgrown from not doing so last year. And i need some good ideas for things to put on the top tier, which was empty last year.

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Something about winter always makes me want to create things. I am not talking about Giftmas presents, actually this feeling tends to kick in once the weather gets really cold which is generally too late for that. Something about the hibernating months just makes me want to be still with creative effort. It is a time to dream about what could be.

To that end, I have started doing the Illustration Friday prompts over on my craft blog. I feel super fortunate to have found a compatriot to join me in this venture and to help keep me accountable. If you have any interest in joining us, then the more the merrier. Please make sure to let me know where you post your art if you end up doing so, so that I can make sure I keep up with your posts.

I already posted my response to the first prompt of the year, so feel free to take a wander over if you feel so inclined.

The theme for this week is "edge" which is so deliciously full of potential. I feel like I copped out on this one a bit, but hey art!

Places I Slept 2012

I have always sort of loved this meme:

Denver, CO
The Forks, ME
Berlin, MA
Boston, MA
Malden, MA
Mount Washington, MA
Plymouth, MA
Somerville, MA
Hudson, NY
Slippery Rock, PA
Austin, TX
Irving, TX
McKinney, TX

This year's list is a little longer than I remembered somehow, but I have lots of fond memories associated with each of these places. There was a bit more travel and adventure than many years and yet lots of places I felt safe and loved.


Picture day technology

So the paperwork came home last night for Chiquita's picture day at school. Apparently this year all pictures are being done in front of a green screen. So the default backgrounds this year are (classic) blue or "outdoors."

Bizarre! It makes me strangely nostalgic for the shooting star background. You know back in the day when there were a bunch of pull-shade-like backgrounds. Since it is all green screen anyways, shouldn't I also get the option to inflict my nostalgia on my child?

(No I wouldn't really. She is freaked out enough that the picture from this year will be on her high school ID for the next 4 years.)

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Sep. 23rd, 2012

Sunday lunch: beet and goat cheese arugula salad
Sunday: chicken drumsticks, rice, and farm share veggies
Monday: eggplant bolognese
Tuesday: ham steaks, colcannon, steamed carrots
Wednesday: minestrone soup
Thursday: - game -
Friday: - up to salvbard and jasra

Everyday Kidling Magic

At the bus stop this morning there was a little girl who was delighting in the fact that she could both see her reflection in the glass bus stop wall as well as see through it. She told her mom "I am in the trash!" with great delight and a touch of the enticingly forbidden. I was really impressed by her mom too, encouraging her to think but not pushing in a direction: parental love and support at its most unassuming.

They got on the bus with me, the same bus I take all the time. There the little girl shyly greeted a man in a suit and tie whom she didn't know. He later joined in on the discussion she and her mom were having about possibly getting a treat at Dunkin Donuts before school (preschool from her age). Then a hardworn middle aged woman joined in with just a few words.

The little girl waved to everyone (both involved in the conversation and not) when it was time for her and her mom to go, and she received many waves in return.

It would be fair to think that this all by itself was magic enough, and you would not be wrong. But then something even more magical happened: all those closed adults on their morning commute who had opened just a little for a sparkling little girl, they stayed open.

They discussed the best local bakeries and pastry shops. They compared notes on different aspects of their lives, and it gained momentum. Several more adults joined in the conversation, including the bus driver. And as we arrived at our destination I heard an exchange of names between some unlikely pairs. "Hi Daryl, it was very nice to meet you."

All these adults rediscovering themselves and sharing despite the superficial differences of background, appearance, and affluence and finding a way to break out of their insulative commute bubbles in order to do so: magic indeed.

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Jasra bday wishes

Clearly this post isn't late, it is just part of a greater plan to extend an extended birthday even further.

Happy birthday jasra!

I hope the coming year allows for contentment. (It is not overrated!) May your work logistics work out in a way you are happier with, such that you get to spend more time with the community you had been developing there. And may those you work with both professionally and on a volunteer basis appreciated the time and skills you regularly bring to bear to help them. I wish for you constructive criticism, cooperative working, and a free flow of the information you need when you optimally need it.

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Life has been full of pre-semester insanity, but fortunately I know that ifuonlyknew has become an inspiration of "start where you are, try to let go of your fear of your imperfections, and just do what you can." I am not only speaking of her pursuing dance, although it is perhaps the most obvious. This year has been full of these demonstrations from her personal to her professional life. And the thing that makes it that much more impressive is that it *hasn't* been easy. She has worked damn hard at this lesson, and I have nothing but pride in her successes, which have already taken her so far.

Happy belated birthday ifuonlyknew!

I wish a year of enough laughter to remind you how sweet life is, enough tears to wash away the hurts, and just enough outlets for your self-expression that you feel inspired by them rather than overwhelmed. May you have the satisfaction with your career that you desire, and may your home be a place that is a refuge and comfort to you when you need it.

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Back-to-School Shopping

By the time all is said and done, the Chiquita will have managed to go back-to-school shopping four times for this year. Crazy!

The first trip was arguably the least productive (supplies-wise at least) yet the most important. She went with some friends from the MoS summer photography class. Since this summer we have been developing her ability to get around on public transportation by herself, this was a huge independence milestone. The girls got there by themselves, got lunch, did some shopping and then each went home to their respective locations within the timeframe they had let their parental units know about. She came back glowing and self-confident.

The second trip was with me on Friday. This was sort of back-to-school shopping for both of us, as I am starting a more management-type position with the undergraduates and needed more professional stuff. I had front loaded my work-week, so I was able to take a half day with her. She delighted in the idea of lunch out in the city and shopping. We had lunch in Chinatown and then walked over to Downtown Crossing.

I teased her that she had run through all of my shopping energy after the first store, in which she made us do 3 separate trips each to the dressing rooms. She scoffed and suggested espresso. We managed to get through a couple more stores and to collect a good set of staple items each, and then we split up for different directions on the subway. It still seems a little odd that I can do that!

Saturday jasra took her out for what Chiquita described as "girl time." In addition to shopping, they got their nails done, which she delighted in showing me. She was also quite pleased with her shopping finds, including (not to be discussed with boys clearly) undergarments. She was very pleased with this since her last trip was to be with her dad, and she was not going to go with him for that under any circumstances. In fact she may have done a horrified gasp and overly loud whispered warning when bras were even mentioned when her dad was in the house (not even the room).

So as mentioned, the final trip is going to be with her dad early this week. Between him having some weird ideas* about getting clothes for her and her self-consciousness, she will likely get most office supplies and maybe a few shirts and pairs of pants.

Fortunately she is quite happy with all the shopping opportunities. I am just grateful to have them spread around. I am not into the shopping thing. jasra may be a saint to have managed four hours.

*Last year he decided that she had to get pants that were a several sizes too big so that she would grow into them. This is not a terrible idea at first, but at this point she is just about my height and unlike when she was in child sizes, the number value doesn't really tell you much about length. So despite her trying to explain to him, he bought her several pairs of pants she still can't wear. And given she may be just about done with growing, will be unlikely to be able to wear unless she suddenly gains a bunch of weight and hems them (where it is necessary and possible).

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Meals for the week of 8/20

Sunday lunch: Hummus en Fuego, Balsamic Bruschetta
*made ahead for lunches: quinoa w/ kale
Monday: Creamy Vegan Potato Leek Soup
Tuesday: Carrot Almond Salad (with green beans instead of asparagus), Lemony Chickpea Stirfry
Wednesday: cherry tomato couscous
Thursday: game night!
Friday: Spring Pasta with summer vegetables instead :)

Garden Control

Last weekend jasra came over to help salvbard and I tackle the jungle that had taken over during Pennsic. Not only did we get a ton of weeding done in the raised beds and front yard, but we also pruned back some of the larger perennials and herbs that were taking over. Score for jasra's coworkers!

Besides yard clean up, we also did some improvements for the front yard that I have been wanting for a while. We added some late blooming flowers since I didn't have many: black-eyed susans, coneflower, Russian sage, and yellow poppies. In addition to the welcome color, I am really glad to have reestablished some nectar-flow.

The final major accomplishment was finally putting down a slate path between the beds. Hopefully this will help clean up the look of it some and minimize the amount of weeding needed to keep it passable. For added bonus it completes the last part of the property boundary walk I have been working on at the suggestion of catya.

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Last week Chiquita had a week long set of photography classes at the Museum of Science. She actually has been fairly interested in photography for a number of years, and I have fond recollections of salvbard and she sitting side by side, focused.

The beginning of the week did not get great reviews, which was a bit harder for me as I was still at Pennsic. She didn't like the icebreaker games, and felt like they didn't get through much material. I clearly have no idea who majes was referring to that he felt she sounded like with her cries of "this feels like a waste of my time" as one of the worst judgements she could make of it.

She dismisses their attempts at drawing in the ideas of subatomic particles as explanation of what the light was doing. ("Well photons are the basis of the light you you for photography" I tried. "But I don't need to know about protons or neutrons. You need light for photography, that is all I need to know!")

They made pin hole cameras though, which she thought was pretty cool. And apparently she was fairly taken with an explanation of why a tree was like a pin hole camera, which she seemed to think was quite clever.

By the second day though she had made firmer friendships with the likely candidates I had heard about the day before. She made plans to hang out with her new friends outside of photography class and carried them out with our awareness. I was actually quite pleased by how good she was about keeping me in the loop about her plans and whereabouts so that I didn't worry.

There was good discussion about composition and the mathematical ratios that strike the eye as pleasing. I heard a lot of "did you know..." on the subjects of the golden ratio and Fibonacci sequences.

And the thing that I thought she would be interested in most was a big hit: the dark room. She may have already made some declarative statements on what she thought parts of the basement should be repurposed for. She also has some slightly untrue ideas about what we have at work for materials. But she will figure it out.

I had been wondering if she might have been happier in a more art centric program, but the whole experience seems to have gone over well in the end. I think we will likely be looking for another photography class for next year (possibly elsewhere just for variety).

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