March 31, 2009

Coming to you from a new laptop, Verve.

My dear 2004 Macintosh iBook's screen permanently went black last week. Apparently this is due to the wire that is located in the hinge of the laptop from harddrive to screen getting worn out (I'm told they've beefed this up). I named the computer Pelusa (spanish for 'fluff' or 'lint'--named after a cat I met in Nicaragua the summer before I got my lappy), and she's been a trusty, daily help for >4 yrs. I took her to school every day with me and took notes in class for 8 hrs/day, opening and closing the screen every hour as we had a short break. I video-chatted with Ben back home while we had a long-distance relationship. I brought her to my dance classes as my music player, and I dropped her at least once a year. She stood up to my rough, demanding schedule very very well, I think.
I had her jerry-rigged to a desktop monitor so that I'd still be able to check email, etc this past week.
(that's her in the background, jerry rigged)
But NOW...duhn duhn duhn...I have a brand new 2009 MacBook! (Thank you Dad & Kate!! This is an amazing, amazing, well appreciated gesture!) I have just finished transferring all my files today, and am using it 'for real' for the first time. My music and pictures which were previously on 2 separate external hard drives) now fit compactly on this laptop (we actually exchanged one of the external harddrives which was very large for the workings of this laptop--thanks Ben!). I have a built-in iSight for skyping and ichatting. It's a bit smaller and definitely slimmer and lighter than my iBook. It's way fast. The screen is perfect--no dings yet! All cool features.
I have decided to name this new device Verve. Kind of in celebration/anticipation of the good things to come, and the energy I aim to keep in creating a good life for myself.
I will miss the old stickers I had on Pelusa.

I never remember why I put the "I luv your smile" sticker there, but the bellydancer is self-evident, and I thought the "sometimes it's nice to stop and think" sticker that I got in Japan was silly and made allusions to my nerdy side. The bottle cats and dressed up cats...well...that's just me.

I saw this clever sticker, but it's not quite me:

I'm sure I'll find the right sticker(s) soon enough.

Thank you, Pelusa, for many years of good use. Welcome, Verve!

March 26, 2009

Circling back

Ben and I went looking at some other apartments today, hoping to lower our rent and/or improve our lack of amenities. We came away with the knowledge that we have the best priced decently nice apartment around. To pay less, we'd end up in the student ghetto where I have spent plenty of years already. I'm in no hurry to return. To get what we have or better, we'd end up paying $100-400/month more.
So we don't have off-street parking for both of our two cars, therefore we occasionally get towed when we can't find a legal space to park w/in 1/2 mile (wish we only had one car, but they're not worth selling or trading in...we're running these into the ground). We don't have a washer or dryer, so we have to barge in on our moms to do laundry (which is a bit embarrassing at almost 30 yrs old). Our kitchen is terribly designed and we have no counter space. We don't have a yard to plant in. Our landlord is a lazy drunk, so fix-it jobs take months (or sometimes 1.5 yrs).
However, we do have a pretty nice sized place. It has lots of windows, and is up on the 3rd floor, facing away from the street, so we feel like we have a good deal of privacy. We have central heat and air, which turns out to be way more efficient and cheap compared with our friends who don't have central air. We have a gas fireplace in the winter, and we're located very centrally downtown.
I mean, ideally, we'd be able to spend the extra cash to have some amenities and peace of mind, but all in all, we have it as good as we can get right now. Sometimes I have to go through the motions of trying to change things to remind myself why I am where I am.
Despite not having a yard, though, I planted 4 window boxes and put them on the front stoop. I'm pretty excited about them. I hope they work.

[fuzzy picture of Parsnip in front of my little seedlings before I transplanted them into their window boxes]

March 23, 2009

Pouncing Parsnip

Every night at bedtime, our kitty, Parsnip, becomes like this fox:

leaping straight up in the air to pounce on a foot or hand under the duvet. She loves this game. And we love watching her be so focused, doing what she's programmed to do!

March 21, 2009


I don't know how much credence I give to 'healing gemstones'. However, for the past couple days, I've been drawn to wear my druzy crystal ring (which has dulled quite a bit in color since my house fire--it's just a sparkly grey now). I looked up what healing aspects druzy are supposed to empart, and this is what I found:

Good stone to use when starting something new; great tool for working with self-exploration: helps you find your footing and keeps you on the path, one experience at a time. Represents patience and trust in your growth process. Turns down volume of excess assertiveness.

It's well timed. I've been feeling very impatient, lost, and hyper-assertive this week, with opportunities on the horizon.

March 5, 2009

Unexpected fences

How about these two large-scale space division pieces of art that use everyday objects as inspiration?
Lace fence, going into production soon.

Umbrella fabric wall. Colorful! [unknown source]

March 4, 2009

Mountain Climbing (hiking)

I'm feeling puny today (ugh, seems like every other year I get sick right before spring...) so I'm making up for it by talking about something that I couldn't have done on a puny day.
I've never done any technical mountain climbing (while some of the gear may be the same, rock climbing and mountain climbing are totally different sports), I have walked to the top of two mountains. I thought this picture was interesting because it shows these specific two mountains superimposed over Everest (which I never hope to mount).

Ben Nevis is the highest point in the British Isles. I hiked up it one day when I was 16, with my friend Kaelan. When we got to the skree (loose rock), I was sure we were near the top (it was too foggy to see the top). Turns out most of Ben Nevis is skree. As some people came down the mountain, they told us that if we hurried, the cafe up top would still be open and we could enjoy a nice cup of hot chocolate. We were SO EXCITED by that prospect, and kept up the hiking til we got to the icy, foggy, cold, grey top. There was, of course, no cafe--we'd been easily-duped American tourists. So we passed on the joke to some unsuspecting tourists on our way down.
It took us all day to hike up and walk down Ben Nevis. I remember thinking that I would never like to do any more mountaineering because of how cold and boring it was. One step forward, half a step back on the skree. It seemed thankless and totally meaningless.
When the opportunity to hike up Kilimanjaro came 5 years later, I was pretty blase toward the idea. However, my parents convinced me that it would be a great thing to do as a family. So the three of us, plus 5 others from the study abroad semester I'd just finished, tackled it together with our sherpas. We spent 6 days: 3 days up, one day acclimating to the height, one more day to tackle the summit, and a day down. And I was thoroughly impressed with how worthwhile and amazing the experience was. Each day we traveled through another biome, with all sorts of Dr. Seuss-esque creatures and plants. Rainforest, strange fields, mooreland, skree, ice (click on each of those for a picture...). The last push was really really intense: waking up freezing and short of breath at midnight to layer 4 (was it 5?) pairs of pants multitudes of top layers, gaiters, mittens, water bottle inside all the layers so it wouldn't freeze, and then a quick bowl of hot broth and out the door to take painfully slow steps up the switchback to the top. As slow as the steps were (4-5 seconds between each step), we were all still really laboring. When Dad began singing his Kudzu Warrior song out loud in the dark, someone in front of me turned to me and asked how he possibly could have the breath to do it? I remember at one point thinking "I have to sit down, I can't go any further." Just at that moment, our guide shone his flashlight ahead (maybe 15 more vertical feet of scrambling) to show us how close we were to the rim! So I didn't sit down, and instead kept going. Once we were on the rim, we had another 1-2 hrs of hiking along glacier ice til we summited. The sun was rising as we walked along the ice. It was very surreal, being above the clouds, so cold, so tired, so motivated to keep going, but wanting nothing more than to stop. At the summit, we snapped a few quick pictures, lamented the fact that there was cloudcover screwing up our view of Africa below, and started back down. My knees have been forever messed up from that day of descent. We were told "Pole pole" (slowly! Slowly!) the whole way up, but no one admonished my quick running down hill in order to save my knees. (Damn.)
I have no plans to hike/climb another mountain, but sometimes I wonder if I ever will again.
These pictures are from our kili climb: