May 17, 2009 at 4:30 pm (About Me, Hobbies) (, , )

So, I finished planting all of my new plants, and arranged them on my patio in a way that I hope will give them all enough sun (or enough shade, as the case may be).  But gardening is very tiring work!

Anyway, I put my spider plant in a new pot:

It looks a little sad, because Im a bad houseplant mommy.

It looks a little sad, because I'm a bad houseplant mommy.

It’s a rather lovely little pot, that I even got on sale!  I’m hoping the gravel I put in the bottom will keep it draining well.

And here is a picture of my “work in progress” that I took this afternoon before getting started:

Its too bad I dont get more of that lovely sunlight on my patio!

It's too bad I don't get more of that lovely sunlight on my patio!

It prominently features my lovely little nandina (in the bronze pot).  The red leaves at the top are the new growth.  I’ll have to figure out if this plant requires pruning before the summer is over.

And here, we have a lovely little jumble of plants waiting to be put into containers:

Such nice colors, arent they?

Such nice colors, aren't they?

Those are impatients (the white/pink and the purple flowers), lobelia (the blue flowers), and diascia (the trailing pink flowers).

And I also have some fuchsia hybrids and a plant that I couldn’t for the life of me identify (it lost it’s little label):

This is only about half the planter.

This is only about half the planter.

I’ve also got a shrub that’s called Hebe.  It’ll eventually have pink flowers (although I have no idea if it has bloomed already or not this year), but for now it’s just rather leafy:

Its pretty small right now, but Im hoping it will get bigger soon.

It's pretty small right now, but I'm hoping it will get bigger soon.

And finally, I have some lovely gerbera daisies that I’m really hoping don’t die on me.  They’re a bit of a risk, since they can be fussy, but they sure are pretty:

Here is my orange-ish one...

Here is my orange-ish one...

...and my red one.

...and my red one.

So, there we have it!  I’ll leave you with a shot of my cute little patio garden:

Also included is my extra bag of soil - I was so close to guessing the right amount!

Also included is my extra bag of soil - I was so close to guessing the right amount!


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Discipline? What’s that?

May 17, 2009 at 2:07 pm (About Me) (, , )

It’s a lovely spring/summer day here today.  I think it’s supposed to get up near 80 ultimately, although I’d be quite happy if it stayed at 70 or 75.  But even so, it’s a perfect day for gardening.  I was just out planting some things, and am taking a break before I go out and plant some more.  Container gardening on a patio that gets very little sun is terribly frustrating sometimes, but I have to admit that it is rather nice to have the whole set up 15 feet from my living room couch.

It’s got me thinking, though, about one of my most common personality traits.  I’m really very bad at following through with things.  I have lots of big ideas about all sorts of things, but most of them never make it past the idea stage.  Even some things that do, I don’t finish.

It’s not a trait I particularly like about myself.  It’s just not very nice to think about all the things I want to do, and remember all the things I haven’t done.  I don’t do this out of laziness, since a lot of the things I want to do and never finish are pretty sedentary activities (like movies – I am so bad at actually finishing movies).  I sometimes half wonder if I have a very mild form of ADD that, because I can function in society without any external assistance, isn’t really a disorder.  Because the reason I don’t end up following through on ideas is that I just have so many of them, and the one I’m currently working on is always the least interesting of them all.

And the other part of the problem is that I just have so many interests.  It’s not exactly true that I’m interested in everything, but it’s not actually as much of an exaggeration as it might seem.  Still, there are only so many waking hours in each day, and I have to devote a whole lot of them to working.  I’d probably have more time to devote to useful pursuits if I didn’t genuinely enjoy goofing off, too.  It’s a luxury that I intend to hang on to as long as I can, because this is the first time in my life when I’ve truly been able to do that on a regular basis (and I know that won’t last if I have kids).

Despite all that, I’m taking it as a good sign that this whole gardening project has managed to keep my interest long enough for me to actually buy plants, and plant them.  I’m not done with the planting part (mostly because it’s hard work, and I enjoy it more if I take breaks each time I finish with a container), but I’ll finish it today.  I think what I really need to do is learn to tailor all of my interests to this known and seemingly intractable personality trait.  Maybe I’ll never be the best at most of what I do, but that doesn’t really matter as long as I’m good enough to please myself.

So basically, I think the reason I might actually manage this gardening thing is that I’ll spend the bulk of my free time this weekend putting plants into containers…but then all I really have to do most of the time is keep them watered.

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May 12, 2009 at 9:08 am (Uncategorized) (, )

I’ve been thinking a lot about gardening just recently.  It’s the time of year to start planting most things, since it’s finally stopped freezing at night periodically.  Oregon weather can be kind of amusing, because everyone put away heavy winter coats weeks ago, but our growing season is really only just now starting.

Either way, I’ve got a major handicap when it comes to my gardening aspirations.  My poor little patio gets basically no sunlight.  It faces east, which would be an excellent source of light…except that there’s a big tree (an evergreen, no less) right in front of the apartment.  I can’t even really grow houseplants, because my apartment is always sort of dim.  I’ll appreciate all the shade this summer (since it’ll keep the whole apartment cooler), but it’s awfully frustrating right now.

So I’ve got a lovely little Nandina (of the dwarf “heavenly bamboo” variety) in a container on my patio right now.  I planted it last fall, and agonized all winter about whether or not the plant was going to make it.  Fortunately for me, Nandinas are pretty hardy plants, and they’re not picky about how much light they get (although they are more showy in full sun).  I’m also lucky that the edges of my patio do get exposed to rain, so I don’t actually have to water this plant.

Even so, it concerned me that it remained exactly the same size as when I bought it all winter.  I was almost convinced it was just going to give up and die on me over the summer, but I noticed a little bit of new growth yesterday.  Yay!  So I may be a bad houseplant mommy (RIP, poor little ficus), but at least I’m not a horrible gardener all around.

Either way, my relative success with the Nandina has encouraged me to find another shade-tolerant or shade-loving plant that I can grow outside on my patio.  I’ve got an empty pot (thanks to the dead ficus), and I’m thinking I may try to find a fuchsia that will do well in the shade.  I think there are varieties that do, and the plants have such lovely flowers.

I also may try to find a strawberry pot and grow some shade-tolerant herbs in it.  I’ve really wanted to try my hand at growing some herbs for awhile, but a lot of them really need a lot of sunlight.  So I’ll have to see if I can find any herbs that would do well in shade…even better if I’d actually use them!

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May 11, 2009 at 8:50 pm (Uncategorized) ()

I logged into Livejournal for the first time in quite awhile tonight.  I’d sort of forgotten about it for awhile, and then was avoiding it because I couldn’t possibly have caught up.

Apparently, the last time I posted was 11 weeks ago.  So basically, when I started this blog, I accidentally quit Livejournal.

It makes me a little bit sad that nobody noticed.

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*wades back into politics*

May 8, 2009 at 10:52 am (Economy, Politics) (, , , , , , , , )

Okay, I’ve kind of been ignoring the news just lately (which is part of the reason I haven’t been posting).  It’s very hard to read news about financial ruin when your own personal financial situation isn’t especially secure.

However, I think I can stomach it for now, and it’s good to stay informed when possible.

So, how about that stress test?  I will freely admit that I didn’t read the second half of the article, because at some point, financial news makes my eyes cross (and that’s even when the financial news isn’t bad or worrisome).  But I did read Paul Krugman today.  He is, as usual, being a little bit doom-and-gloom, but at least he’s easier to read.

What I find interesting on this topic is that the stress test itself, as Krugman says, tells us very little (and certainly not much that’s actually reassuring).  Where I don’t agree with Krugman is why President Obama is approaching the situation in just this way.  Krugman seems to think that any incentive for changing the financial landscape is fading, and that the Obama Administration is mostly just deciding not to be dramatic here.

But seriously, Obama is Machiavellian.  He is incredibly smart, and able to use that to manipulate situations to fit his desires and goals.  I actually think there’s a very good possibility that he’s going to let all of the banks have a fair shot at getting out of this pickle without major changes precisely because he thinks they won’t be able to do it.  They’ve got less than a month to tell the government how they’re going to raise the extra capital needed to pass the stress test.  So what happens if some or all of them can’t figure out how to do it?  Obama can swoop in and say the government needs to make sweeping changes, because we gave the banks a chance and they couldn’t come up with a solution.

If people complain at that point, Obama can argue that he gave the banks a very fair shot – the estimate of their shortfall in capital was extremely, generously in their favor.  So if they couldn’t even come up with that, then how could they possibly weather the more serious shortfall that many people think is likely?

I hope that’s what he’s doing, anyway.  Otherwise, Paul Krugman’s gloomy outlook is probably right.  I’m just going to hold on to my hope that Obama is smart enough to use momentum he gets for free…but that he’s also charismatic enough to create his own momentum when he needs it.

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Happy birthday to me!

May 4, 2009 at 8:50 am (About Me)

Man, I haven’t posted in ages.  I’ve been fairly wrapped up in other things for the past couple of weeks.  Then Amiel got sick (and then I got sick), but now I think everything has settled down a little, and I may actually have something to say someday soon. 🙂

Amiel and I went and saw Spamalot over the weekend.  It was a traveling Broadway production, and I have to say, it was very enjoyable.  I wasn’t completely sure it was going to be my thing, but it was pretty funny.  Either way, it was for Amiel’s birthday, and he probably enjoyed it more with me than he would have going by himself.

It’s actually kind of funny at times, having a birthday so close to Amiel’s.  Mine is today, and his is next Monday, so the most natural thing for us is to celebrate them jointly.  It seems a bit silly for him to give me a present, and then for me to turn around and give him one.  Ditto for things like going out to dinner or making a big production out of just one birthday at a time.  It ends up being a lot more fun if we just combine everything (presents, celebrations, etc.), since we’d be celebrating together in any case.

Although Amiel did buy me flowers yesterday.  I saw some roses that were a really lovely shade of orange (sort of a pinkish orange, if that makes sense), so Amiel bought them for me.  One thing I’ve been happy to discover is that roses that have multiple blossoms per stem tend to be cheaper than the regular long-stemmed kind.  What’s even better is that you get more blossoms, and I like that kind of rose better anyway (in part because the flowers are a little bit smaller).

Anyway, it’s the weirdest thing, but I just can’t drum up very much enthusiasm at all for my birthday.  It could be because it’s on a Monday, and enthusiasm is often rather elusive on Mondays as a general thing.  It’s also possibly because Amiel and I were both feeling a little sick this weekend, which meant that I couldn’t really hang out with anyone but him.  What’s interesting to me, though, is that I’m not really bothered by my lack of enthusiasm.  24 isn’t exactly an exciting year, and I feel like I’m past the point where I should really expect anything else than the standard good wishes from my nearest and dearest.  And, lucky for me, all of my nearest and dearest remembered. 🙂

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April 28, 2009 at 8:13 am (Uncategorized)

I feel like crap today.  It’s mostly because I have a headache (and it’s very likely the same headache I had yesterday morning).  I’d hoped that drinking some extra water this morning would help, but no dice.  I should have just taken Aleve and been done with it.

Plus, it’s raining, kind of.  Not really raining, so it’s not really worth using an umbrella, but it’s enough rain that I arrived at work rather damp.  Even knowing that we probably need this rain doesn’t make me any more inclined to be happy about it.

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Rick Perry really needs to just shut up.

April 17, 2009 at 10:05 am (Politics, This Makes No Sense) (, , , , , , , , , , , , )

Okay, I was first going to call this post “Texas, please stop embarrassing me,” but I realized that the state of Texas is actually an inanimate object that, as far as I am aware, has never done anything to hurt anybody.

But that’s not to say certain Texans *coughRickPerrycough* aren’t capable of embarrassing all the other Texans on a Texan-sized scale.  Everything is bigger in Texas – including Rick Perry’s hair, his lack of rational thought, and his lack of common sense.

I really wish that somebody would just sit him down and explain that he was only re-elected as governor because Texas law doesn’t require run-offs.  He seems to have missed the fact that, though he did get more votes than anyone else, 61% of the people voting in that election didn’t vote for him.  He also seems to have missed the fact that a significant portion of those anti-Perry voters were Republicans (Carole Keeton Strayhorn, a Republican running as an independent, got 18% of the vote).

So when Rick Perry starts implying, in public, with reporters around, that Texas can secede from the Union (and that maybe it should), he’s embarrassing the state of Texas and all Texans on a monumental scale.  Texas is not a sovereign nation.  The Republic of Texas willingly joined the United States back in 1846 because the 10 year experiment with nationhood left it bankrupt and unhappy.  And the state willingly re-joined the Union after the Civil War because of the ass-whipping the Union delivered to the Confederacy.  I have to say, it sure takes a pair to beg for annexation in 1846, and then thumb your nose and secede 15 years later because that same country that annexed you is expecting you to follow its laws.  I really hope the irony of that is not lost on people.

I also really feel the need to point out, since this goes along with the stupidity of Rick Perry at the moment, that the so-called “tea bagging” movement is highly contradictory and hypocritical (and very inappropriately named).  As far as I can tell, people are protesting high taxes (the rates of which were voted on by a Republican Congress serving under George Bush), among other things.  They are also blaming all of it on Obama, who hasn’t even finished his first 100 days in office.  Because somehow, the economic crisis, size of government, and current rate of taxation (all of which happened before the 2008 election, as well as the Inauguration in January) is President Obama’s fault.

There also appears to be a lot of criticism towards the current government, coupled with statements of patriotism.  Do these people not remember the past 8 years?  Apparently, from 2000-2008, criticizing the government made you a bad American, treasonous, or actually a terrorist.  I may joke about people saying “Why do you hate America?” in response to any legitimate criticism, but that’s what it felt like they were saying.  But now, since the damned liberals are “the man,” criticizing the government to the point of advocating secession is somehow patriotic (and it’s not just Perry who has gone that far).  Because it is just so incredibly patriotic to declare your sovereignty from the entity you claim to be loyal to.

Seriously, I think that being critical of our politicians and other officials is about as American as it’s possible to get.  But there is a point at which it becomes rather counterproductive and, dare I say it, un-American.  Criticizing them because you believe in the system and want your officials to do better (or leave office so someone else can do better) is one thing.  Criticizing them because you’d like to withdraw your loyalty and give it to another entity is something else entirely.

I also feel the need to point out that this “tea bagging” movement is something that was entirely engineered by established conservative pundits, politicians, and think-tanks.  It’s not a real grass-roots movement, because it wasn’t brought about because of ordinary private citizens (or even smaller scale politicians).  This movement is much more properly labeled Astroturf.

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April 15, 2009 at 9:00 am (Travel) (, , , , , )

I’m having a hard time with the fact that it’s only Wednesday.  It’s sad, because I had two vacations just recently, but I feel like I need another one.  Only this time, I need a vacation that involves nothing more complicated than me sitting around my apartment and amusing myself in whatever way strikes my fancy.

Going to Houston was great, but I didn’t really have all that much down time.  I planned it that way on purpose, because there was kind of a lot that I wanted to do, and a lot of people I wanted to see.  I wouldn’t have been able to make the most of my time there if I’d planned on having time to do nothing.  But, of course, when I got home again, I had missed out on my weekend, and still had all the chores I wasn’t able to do over the weekend (plus the chores around unpacking).

And, in hindsight, it was maybe not the very best decision to plan a trip home to Houston that would have me getting back home just four days before Amiel’s parents visited.  I hate having visitors when I feel like my life isn’t quite in my control, and it always takes me at least a week after a trip anywhere to feel like I’ve got it all in hand.  So I spent a bit more time scrambling in that week than I otherwise would have.

But their visit was nice, and I enjoyed it.  We were able to go out to the coast, to Depoe Bay, and that was fun.  I’d never been up the coast that far north, and it was really quite gorgeous.  On our way up, we drove mostly up the coast on 101, and I think everyone but me was really surprised by the scenery.  But the Pacific coastline they are all used to is nothing like the Pacific coastline in Oregon.

We also stopped in this little town called Waldport that’s a little ways south of Newport and Depoe Bay.  I thought it was a cute little town, and had I been on my own, I might have wanted to poke around a bit.  There was a flea market I’d totally have gone into if I’d been by myself, too.  Flea markets usually sell junk, but I love looking through them anyway.  We stopped to eat at a restaurant there that looked to be half pizza parlor, half fish and chips stand, with Japanese bento boxes thrown in for good measure.  It’s sometimes almost comical the lengths that restaurants in Oregon will take “fusion food” – I suppose I can be thankful that there wasn’t any fish and chips in ramen type meals.

Anyway, we were all pretty hungry at that point, so I think all of us would have been just fine with “adequate” food.  It was a lovely surprise to find out that the fish and chips, at least, were actually pretty good.  Amiel and his parents all had halibut as their fish.  I tried a bit of Amiel’s, and it was tasty (I’m a fan of halibut, and it’s particularly good in Oregon).  I decided to get popcorn shrimp, and they were absolutely delicious.  Shrimp in Oregon can be a sort of hit-or-miss kind of thing.  Anything at least as big as your pinky finger was probably from somewhere else and frozen.  The little “shrimp meat” is sometimes good, and sometimes rather indifferent.  The popcorn shrimp I had at this restaurant was small enough that it could have been fresh, and I think is the best tasting shrimp I’ve had in Oregon.

The drive home from Depoe Bay was another story entirely.  Since it was just Amiel and I at that point, we decided to take a faster route that left the coast at Newport.  Since it was insanely windy that day, we were thrilled to be getting away from the coast that quickly.  It’s really too bad it was so windy, because the road we took was quite picturesque and winding…but the wind made it rather challenging to drive on.  I think Amiel and I may try to go back that way sometime this summer, and hopefully it won’t be quite so windy.

And, of course, when we got home, we had to go to the store and get ready for the week.  So I find myself, on Wednesday morning, desperately wishing for the weekend.  Fortunately, the only thing I have to do this weekend is get a new tire on my car, and that shouldn’t take more than an hour, hopefully.

So, that was the past week or so in a nutshell.

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April 8, 2009 at 9:14 am (About Me) (, )

Sometimes, after you’ve just been sort of cruising along for awhile, not having to deal with anything out of the ordinary or anything unusual, life seems to just sort of hit you with a whole lot of things at once.  They’re not always bad (and in fact, sometimes they are good), but it can be surprising.  The past week has really been like that for me.  I can think of half a dozen different posts I could write just about the last 7 days.

For now, I think I’ll just stick to writing about Houston.  The strangest thing is that everything there was so incredibly familiar.  I knew it would be familiar, because I grew up there and haven’t honestly been gone that long, but it felt as though I’d never left.  The only way I could tell that I’d been gone for a year and a half was that my memory of street names was a little fuzzy at times.  But otherwise?  I could have just been returning from a short vacation.

I just never expected the familiarity and, really, the comfort of it all to hit me so hard.  I immediately remembered all the reasons why I’d wanted to go back, as well as most of the reasons I was happy to be away.  That’s what made me think so strongly that “this is home” – I wasn’t just remembering the positives so suddenly.

Even with all of that swirling around in my head, I’m extremely glad I was able to visit.  I was able to see nearly all the people I wanted to, and eat in most of the restaurants I’d been missing. 🙂  I had a lot of really good conversations with some people, and they’ve given me a lot to think about.  I’ve been reminded of just how much I appreciate some people, and just how much I think I’m needed by others.

My flight home was a little rocky, but only because the whole trip started out late, which meant that my close connection became even closer, and my bag didn’t make it on the same flight as me.  Fortunately, it arrived in Portland several hours after I did, and I’m supposed to get it via FedEx this morning.

But the most amazing thing about this whole trip is that I don’t know that I realized just how…torn I am between where I live now and where I grew up.  Because that instant familiarity I had with Houston?  I had it when I got home, too.  Even though I was gone for nearly a week, it was as if I’d never left.  I slipped right back in to my life here with barely a stutter.

How is it that one person can feel so strongly about two places?  And yet, they don’t actually compete with each other.  I feel equally strongly about Oregon and Houston, but it’s still different.  Houston is and always will be the home of my childhood, and I’ll always feel a very close affinity with it for that reason alone.  Oregon is the place where I’ve settled into my adult self.  And I’ve been and will continue to be happy here.  I think I’ll always want to be able to visit both places, for the people and just for the places themselves.

But it struck me that I’d really better get used to this feeling, because it’s only going to amplify as I get older.  Because of the circumstances of my life, I will not be able to settle anywhere permanently for awhile, unless I just get really lucky.  I will almost certainly spend my 20s being relatively nomadic.  Unless I just refuse to put down roots in all the places I live, pieces of my life will always have an indelible association with the location where they happened.  Certain times of my life will always be wrapped up in where I was living at the time.  I know this is completely normal, but I don’t know that I really understood exactly what that meant until now.

Fortunately, the idea of all that doesn’t scare me as much as it once might have.  I’ve proven to myself that I can make a home in a new place that I’ve never been to before, and that I can be happy with it.  It’s frequently hard, and it often sucks, but I’m doing it.  Surprisingly, I actually look forward to doing it again.  If anyone had told me I’d say that 5 years ago, I’d have called them crazy.  But even knowing that it will be hard and it will often suck, I still look forward to the experience.  Maybe it’s false optimism, but I think I sometimes need to be forced out of my comfort zone.  I know that every time I ever have been in my life, it’s been good for me and I’ve ended up liking myself that much better.

And you know, if being happy is living truly without regrets (and not just saying that because you wish you could), then I am.  When I look back at my life so far, the times when I have been the most dissatisfied and unhappy are those times when I wished I could have done things differently.  The times when I have been the most comfortable in my own skin, and the most happy, are when I think I did everything just exactly right.  At the moment, if I were to have a chance to live the past couple of years again, I don’t think I’d change a single thing.

Who’d have thought that one small vacation could teach me so much?

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