Monday, December 13, 2004

Photoshopped Rings (not from Middle Earth)

We picked up our wedding rings on Saturday. They're both in white gold, Matt's (on the left) has oxidation to bring out the design, and actually looks like a negative image of this picture. Mine is rhodium plated and shiny, so the design doesn't pop out quite so much, especially not as shown, with blue-flame effect photo shopping. I'm looking forward to see how mine weathers, as the rhodium wears off it'll get lots of character.

Most of the wedding planning stuff has now been taken care of. The bridesmaid's dresses have been picked and approved, I've picked my shoes and jewelery, Matt's ordered his kilt outfit, the main vendors have been confirmed too. Matt's immediate family are making travel plans (YAY) and now we're starting to get excited about the whole shebang, it's getting close and starting to feel real!

Friday, December 10, 2004

I Won't Let It Throw Me off Track...I Promise...

I just checked the group exercise schedule for the gym I attend, just to make sure the class I'm planning to go to has not been affected by winter break, and I was presented with a cute snowman jpeg holding a sign announcing NO CLASSES from this Saturday through to January 2nd.


I've only just managed to make that Monday evening class part of my regular routine and now I have to take a two week break! Dammit, now I'll have to actually work out with only myself as inspiration, not the teeny tiny wiry woman at the front of the classroom. So I guess it's time to work on using the simple home strength training routine I have stuck to the fridge. Maybe I should get that Yoga DVD back from my coworker as well.

This is the first time I've mentioned it, but since we got back from the UK I've been actively working on my food/exercise habits, in the hopes of tweaking my weight and bodyfat downwards and my energy levels upwards. I joined the dreaded Weight Watchers (I'm on the "core" plan in case anyone's wondering) and have lost just over 14lb so far, with a one month plateau in the middle where I gained and lost the same 2lb over and over again. That plateau ended when I realized that 30min chugging away on an elliptical may burn a few calories, but it wasn't doing anything to build muscle anywhere in my body, so it was a short term pennance for the odd extra cookie, not anything that would really affect my body composition in a lasting way. Now I'm attempting to practice what I preach; which is that for my body strength training is the way to go, and the rest follows. Notice the emphasis on the personal here. I've read enough weight loss blogs to know that any mention whatsoever of a fitness or weightloss strategy invites a lot of comments and controversy. I'm thinking about adding a section to my sidebar for the diet and weightloss specific sites I visit regularly...but I don't plan on becoming a weight loss blogger, at least it's not an active goal of mine.

Back to the main reason for this posting. The lack of organized exercise classes over Winter break. I will cope, even if it means recruiting Matt to be a cheerleader and make me do extra sets of whatever exercise I'm getting bored with after 5 reps. After three months of effort I'm definitely on track to keep this new health kick going, even if it's in fits and starts it feels good to be making progress again.

Monday, December 06, 2004

Organising Property Tax With A Champagne Hangover

This is not an activity I would usually recommend attempting with any kind of hangover, but if you're a procrastinating, important-document-losing, out-of-sight-out-of-mind person like end up going through your filing drawers at 6.45 in the morning wondering why the weather report on TV is so damn LOUD, and trying to figure out why reading numbers on a supplementary tax statement is such a huge feat of concentration.

That's when I realized I was hungover and reached for the coffee. (Starbucks' Holiday Blend is nowhere near as good as Peet's Holiday Blend by the way.)

Turning down the volume on the TV also helped. Then all I had to do was find out how much the mortgage company thought it had to pay, and compare that with our actual tax bill. Unfortunately the numbers didn't match, so Matt got a panicked voicemail to call me back and get the neccesary stuff to call and fix it.

Not the most auspicious start to the week. At least the hangover took a hike after coffee and breakfast kicked in.

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

Disappointed, But Not Surprised

That pretty much sums it up.

I did write more, but the internet decided to eat it. I may become re-inspired and return to write a similar post.

Yes, I am talking about the election results.

Tuesday, October 05, 2004


Today Matt and I have been together for 2-1/2 years (30 months, hence the "luni" part), we have also been in our condo for six months. Six Months! Already! Without an impending move looming on the horizon! We've broken our previous record for staying put in one apartment now, and it feels really nice knowing that *we* will choose when we move out of this place. So we can actually get attached and make improvements, which is what we've been doing this past 6 months already.

Last night we went to Rose Creek Cottage to sort out the menu for our wedding, and put the deposit down to confirm the caterer, so all we have left is the photographer and flowers. We also printed and began addressing save-the-date cards to send to the out of town guests so that they start planning travel in time to actually get here. I really hope Matt's family put in the effort to come, I know they'd enjoy being here.

Life feels very good right now, we've managed to go work out once a week since we got back, which isn't as good as twice or three times, but it's a hell of a lot better than the NEVER we were doing before. Matt and I are getting used to life as normal together, rather than life constantly preparing to move/packing/moving/unpacking. The only thing we're utterly failing to keep a handle on is getting our laundry put away, so the cats get to use it as a bed and get a head start on covering us with their hair.

Wednesday, September 29, 2004

Seven a.m. at Stone Henge

Stonehenge 179
Originally uploaded by Rosemary Grace.
Matt took this, along with 185 other pictures, he killed a fresh set of batteries!

We arrived just in time to see the sun rise over the mist lying across the countryside, and were treated to an amazingly varied atmosphere as the sun burned through the haze and started to cast shadows and tint the edges of the standing stones with warm light.

I expected it to be a place that gives you goosebumps, like some churches do, but the feeling was one of intense quiet. It wasn't silent, it was deeply peaceful and sheltered from the noise of the world surrounding it. It's an easy place to feel grounded in, I wish I lived close enough to visit on a festival and feel that peace wrapped around me. I'm sure it will be years before we get to go back, but we will get there again, and maybe spend more of our hour just drinking it in.

Monday, September 20, 2004

London, 2004: 2 Different Thugs...

London Eye
Originally uploaded by Rosemary Grace.
This is us on the London Eye, a giant ferris-wheel in the city centre that gives you an amazing view. That's early evening London in the background.

Almost everywhere you go in central London, you can see The Eye peeking over a building, which means that from The Eye you can see almost everywhere in central London. After Matt had pointed this out I kept imagining melodramatic whispers about the All Seeing Eye that followed us through our three days there.

Wednesday, September 01, 2004

London, 1965: 2 Thugs...

London, 1965
Originally uploaded by Rosemary Grace.
On the back of this photo I found a typwritten label: "2 thugs caught on their way out trying to pretend they live there. Note fab. flower box."

It's a snapshot of my parents first year of marriage, the little note gave it more personal value. My mother, a little younger than I am now, pointing out her fab window arrangement. She's wearing a blouse that I remember being part of the dress-up box when I was little. My Dad still has that sweater, or one remarkably like it.

I used to live half a mile up the road from the apartment where this was taken, I liked living near where my parents had started out their married life together. They have always been my favourite love story.

Tuesday, August 10, 2004


Originally uploaded by Rosemary Grace.
This is our Handfasting site, after we took down the paraphernalia we had marking out the circle.

This is a photograph of the "morning after", taken by Matt. I can see his love for all things foresty in this photograph, I can see his attachement to this particular patch of forest too.

This is a photograph of the place where I was involved in my first formal ritual. Where the wind stirred up and the crows started cawing along with Matt's reading of his Charge of the God. Where we gave our vows to each other and exchanged rings. Where we jumped the broom (without falling over). Where our friends gathered around and helped us celebrate the happiness we have found together.

Friday, July 30, 2004

Frost Is Now A Novelty

I took this in 2002 when I was home for Christmas. My dad planted this beech hedge and trained the individual bushes together so that the branches are now fused in places. In the summer the leaves are a glossy bright yellow green, and in autumn they turn to copper but stay attached thtough the winter.
Copper Beech
Originally uploaded by Rosemary Grace.

Monday, July 19, 2004

Needlewoman's Thumb

I spent the majority of the weekend sitting in my comfy chair next to the air conditioner, working on my first heirloom, the altar cloth for our handfasting. It's pretty simple: 39"x48" of silver silk organza with grey crystal beaded trim around the edges. It's attaching the beaded trim by hand that has taken me about 12 hours so far, and I still have over a foot of stitching left to do. Of course, for the first couple of hours I was hampered by getting my thread wrapped around the beads almost every stitch, eventually I developed a technique that kept the beading hanging out of the way while I stitched the ribbon onto the fabric. About halfway through I declared to Matt that it was going to be an heirloom, anything that takes that many hours to put together qualifies as heirloom material in my book. Especially if the hours are mine!

My dress was mailed on Friday, by Priority mail, which means I could get it today, or not until this Friday. I'll try not to get too itchy about it.


Wow, never mind, having left the post sit unfinished for most of the morning, my dress has already arrived! It's gorgeous, all that needs done is to lightly bleach the chemise to make it more ivory. I got another session of coworker drooling, just like when my headpiece arrived, it's one of the perks about having mostly female coworkers.

Tuesday, July 06, 2004


They weren't really trying before, because now Robbins Bros, together with American Express, have gone to a whole new level of screw-up. The refund went through on my card, but so did a brand new $641.11 CHARGE.

According to the manager I spoke to, the charge was applied to my account in error because my account number is really similar to the one they were supposed to charge. So now we can add "incapable of entering numbers correctly" to their resume of ineptitude. I'm waiting to see the false charge come off my account, in the meantime there's no question that I need to write to the Better Business Bureau. A company that sells big-ticket items like diamonds and designer jewelry needs to be able to avoid charging one customer for another's purchase. What if it had beeen a higher amount they tried to charge and it maxed out my card without me knowing?

I thought credit card companies double-checked the name and number combo to make sure the charge went to the right place, evidently all you need is a number. Yuck. This is making me think I really should get some sort of identity theft protection going.

Thursday, July 01, 2004

It's Official

Robbins Brother's sucks ass.

After screwing up the design on my ring when they resized it...Then screwing up the replacement and altering (read: screwing up) Matt's ring without permission to make the pair "match" in their screwed-up state...The final insult has been delivered. Or rather won't be delivered. Not on time at any rate. Fortunately I thought to ask if the order was progressing on time, and thought to ask it with a month to go, not a few days, because the order is not progressing on time, the order will come through on August 6th, a week too late.

So we're handing back the screwed up rings and taking our money elsewhere before Robbins Brothers causes either of us to have an aneurysm over our expensive and emotionally significant purchase. At this point, even if they did arrive in time, they'd only be a reminder of the irritation and stress we went through to obtain them, and that not only that, but how much we paid them to provide us with that stress over what should have been a simple big ticket purchase.

There's a gold/silversmith who makes rings and pendants with ogham script on them, which is sort of the old celtic answer to runes: an alphabet with magical symbolism assigned to each letter. We're hoping she has a pair in our sizes, his reading "Beloved Sun", mine reading "Fair Moon". Failing that, there's Costco for plain white gold bands, or Nordstrom for plain sterling silver ones, probably to be engraved.

I've been fighting a headache that started as soon as I hung up from talking to the Robbins Bros rep on the phone, which shows how much tension has built up regarding these rings. Hopefully after we go there tonight and get our refund, my shoulders will stop trying to imitate pissed off rocks. It will also be nice to see my finances suddenly look a little less thinly spread! Matt and I are both rather relieved to have the opportunity to seek a slightly cheaper option as well; the amount was managable, but it took a significant chunk out of our mentally assigned spending money for the trip in September.

Wednesday, June 30, 2004

Copywrite The Temple

I just noticed the addition of something called BlogBot, allowing windows users to upload photographs to their blogs. Now I want to make a blog for our trip to the UK so I can post photos while we're gone, photographs of Stonehenge! It's not allowed. Unless I go through whatever approval process they have to post photographs from the inside of the stone circle. I don't think I can be bothered.

It irked me at first that their rules on photography seem so strict, since it's an outdoor site I think of it as fair game for photographing, and then posting said photographs to my website. Then I started thinking about the possibility of my sister taking film or pictures and using them in her work, since she's an artist, I figure it's fair enough if she chooses to use images of Stonehenge to express herself. But what if Rolls Royce wanted to shoot a commercial with a big luxury car in the centre of Stonehenge? It would look pretty cool, but it would be like featuring the Vatican in a Ferrarri commercial. Or using images of Mecca to advertize a line of designer clothing. I suppose that's why they're so strict: it isn't just some ancient rocks, it's a sacred site. Originally sacred to a group of people who's origins we can barely trace, and we certainly have only a vague idea of what form their religion took, but it's a sacred site to people NOW, myself included.

I guess this rules out posing for goofy pictures to make it look like we're part of the prehistorical workforce, wearing twigs in our hair and sacrifing a goat. We'll have to take twice as many photos of us at Avebury Tor to compensate.

Monday, June 28, 2004

The Henge

Mum and I are starting to formulate more solid plans for the first few days that Matt and I will be in the UK this autumn. We arrive in London, and are going to be staying at an old apartment near St Paul's Cathedral, I can't remember if it's 17th or 18th century, but it's tiny and lopsided, and there's one tricky step halfway up the stairs that every family member has tripped on at some point. We've stayed there twice before as a family, once just after my 9th birthday, and once for my graduation/Dad's 60th birthday. We'll arrive Friday afternoon and make our own way to meet Mum and Dad at the place on Clothfair (that's the name of the street). By that point we'll be pretty tired from 24 hours or so of travel, we'll probably limit our exploration to a walk down to St Paul's to keep us awake until a decent British Summer Time bedtime.

The first full day in London I want to do a lot of walking around, to combat jetlag, and because walking around the centre of London is a great way to see all the different architectural styles and get a feel for the city. At some point we'll go see a play, whatever's on, interesting, and has standby seats available. There's the Brittish Museum, home of the Rosetta Stone and the Lewis Chess Men, among other things. I'd like to show Matt where I lived at some point, but it's not as important as seeing the more well known parts of London, after all, walking around the city was the part I liked most about living there. The day we leave London, we're going to go see the stone circle at Avebury, and then Stonehenge.

Until last week I thought we'd only be able to see Stonehenge from a distance, they limit access to the circle because of past vandalism, people trying to chip off bits as keepsakes, and I think there was even some grafitti at one point. However, looking through the English Heritage website I found that you can make an appointment to walk around inside the site itself, as long as you go either before regular opening hours, or after. So Mum is going to try to set us up with an appointment in the evening. I hope it works out, they're really cagey about letting people in, we have to list the photographic equipment we'll be using, and what we'll use the photographs for...if there's any intent to use the images for commercial purposes you have to clear it all with them before they let you in. As I said: cagey.

I'm very excited at the possibility of seeing the henge from the inside, and that we'll be able to work it in to Matt's first visit to the UK. My parents are being typically accomodating and generous, they're probably looking forward to another family tour of sites of interest, and they're starting to turn the original plan of just getting to Edinburgh and doing day trips from there into a whirlwind ancient history tour of the entire country.

Our Handfasting is in a month, we've finished the ceremony and collected most of the props, now we just need to orchestrate the more mundane aspects of carting food for 20 up to Idyllwild. My dress should be finished any day now, I'm waiting for an email from Peldyn to let me know it's on it's way. The rings...should arrive in the store in time. If they don't there will be hell to pay after they screwed up the resizing and forced us to put in a special order at the last possible moment. I'm trying not to think about the possiblilty of not getting them in time, since there's nothing I can really do about it.

I still can't believe we might get into Stonehenge! Hooray for researching things in advance.

Friday, June 18, 2004

Will The Bubbles In Carbonated Water Help Wake Me Up?

It's 7.19am and I have already set the 6-hour portion of my timecourse going. The timer will go off just after 1pm, which is fantastic, because it means that the 6-hour thing won't make me have to leave work late. I have set myself up to reap the benefits of getting in to work at 6.30. Now the sleepiness is starting to return.

The reason I got in so early is that Matt was woken up this morning at 4am with a stabbing pain in one eye. It sucks that he also gets migraines, that's one thing I'd be happy not to bond over, because I wouldn't wish migraines on anyone. Excedrin didn't work, and eventually he woke me up to say he was going to have to stay home from work, and what else could he do for the pain? Excedrin has never failed to work on me, so all I could think of was to add vicodin to the mix. Then I took 30 minutes to find the damn stuff. It was hiding behind a cold remedy. By the time the vicodin started to help him I realized it was 5.45, 15 minutes before my alarm usually goes off, so I got dressed. If I'd gone back to bed for a "few minutes" I would have fallen back asleep and been late for work, add a 6-hour treatment followed by collecting results....And I'd be rolling up at home sometime after the first few guests arrived for our party tonight. Rolling up wearing work clothes and feeling grungy, instead of welcoming them at the door in spiffy clothes with freshly washed shiny hair.

So. Matt's in bed nursing a migraine, and I'm feeling dozy at my desk, though the bubbles in my San Pellegrino really do seem to be waking me up a bit.

Now that it's almost 8, thanks to my zombified web surfing in the middle of posting, I'd better get going with the rest of today's work. Today is pretty busy, and will require time management, frankly it's exactly what I need. I've had too many days recently that involved 30 minutes hands-on work, 30 minutes of ordering/making phone calls, and then 7 hours of thumb twiddling.

Thursday, June 10, 2004

Day Off?

I'm toying with the idea of taking tomorrow off work, or most of tomorrow at any rate. This week is mostly thumb twiddling and setting up for a rush of work that will start the moment fresh reagents arrive...sometime next week, or maybe the week after if we're really unlucky. I'm determined that even if the reagents are going to arrive on a friday, I'll do the experiment asap, even if it means working on the weekend. I don't want the false delay that weekends provide to get in the way of getting these experiments started. As far as this week goes, I've already set my cells up to go over the weekend, they mght need looked at on Sunday. I have nothing lined up to do tomorrow.

A plan is formulating to fish out the paint chip we matched to the orange walls in our last apartment, go to Lowes and get basic supplies and a small can of the paint, and surprise Matt with a new look for our entryway. We've started to debate the possibility of doing another wall in the living room in a dark blue, which could either be lovely, or a complete disaster, depending on the exact shade we pick.

Oops, the reagents just came in. OK, now I get to calculate concentrations, figure out when I can get my shit together and probably act on my decision to creatively re-locate the weekend. I might get to get the experiment going earlier than I thought AND take tomorrow off to mess about in my apartment and paint a wall. Yay.

Thursday, June 03, 2004

Yoga = Good

I did a shoulder stand last night! I can't remember when I last achieved that, I can barely remember trying it. It was right at the end of class, so I was tired but very well warmed up. At another point I also got my foot above head level while stretching one leg out behind me and standing on the other leg. THAT was a real surprise.

I wasn't so surprised to find that my leg and arm strength is already depleted from lack of work, and I'm definitely not a bendy stretchy rubber band person when it comes to yoga. There were a few real rubber bands around me, and it surprised me greatly when I realized that though they were able to do all the more challenging variants when it came to strength or flexibility, I was one of few who could take on the extra balance challenges. I'm so used to being bad all around at any sort of physical challenge, it really helps me to know that I have some real strengths. I know yoga is not competitive, not about comparing yourself to others or "beating" them. The only reason I use them for comparison is that realizing I was one of three people in the room still holding the pose is the only way I knew I was managing anything special.

Today I'm pretty achey, I definitely got a full body workout, my lower back hurts a bit, but I'm pretty sure it's because it got stretched well last night, not actually an injury. I need to keep doing this yoga class, it challenges me a lot, but I still walk out surprised at how much I managed to keep up. There's something about the rhythm of it that enables me to warm up well and keep my body going for longer. It may be hereditary, my Mum did yoga for a long time, it may also be because she taught me a little when I was a kid and it seems familiar.

So now I have been to this class all of twice, and found it a very good thing both times, hopefully I will be able to KEEP going, without the months-long gap between attendances either. It won't kick start me into loosing weight, but I'm worrying about that less and less now, it's far more important to me to focus on feeling stronger and more flexible, I know from experience that my weight will go down a bit with that, especially if I keep working on tweaking my food habits.

Work has been slow paced this week, but in a welcome way: gearing up for being busy next week, not twiddling my thumbs and being bored. We have one big experiment to do which should finish off one project, and then another repeat of the interminable timecourse, which should...WORK this time. Meanwhile I'm learning more on the paper-writing end, which means more boring desk time and tired eyes, but it's stuff I need to be able to do if I'm going to move up the ladder in this field.

Wednesday, June 02, 2004

War Report

War came right when it was needed. I am referring to the SCA event War, not the variety that involves death and maiming and many other such unpleasantnesses.

The sunday before last, Matt and I went to Rennaissence Faire with John, who is officiating our Handfasting. I went despite waking up with a migraine that day, and though the day was enjoyable and my migraine didn't return in the middle of Faire, I spent the rest of the week paying for it. All week I was spaced out and mentally tired, physically achey and had trouble focusing my eyes. I felt, in short, like crap. Plus I had immense trouble sleeping. By the end of the week I was a tired whiny achey tense little bunny, enough that Matt wondered if I should skip War. Fortunately I knew that all I really needed was to recharge, and that War would enable me to quit worrying about a lot of trivial stuff, mostly switch off my brain, and wander about in garb looking at other people in garb. Especially now we have an air mattress so I can sleep without the ground leeching all the precious warmth from my body, that was the one remaining stress factor with camping.

I was really impressed that we managed to meet up with Bob and Laura after dark in a campground containing over a thousand people, even more impressed that we located a remenant of House Rittervald who recognised us and welcomed us to camp near them. We didn't get a spot in Sleepy Hollow, we were actually in an area known as Bedlam, which is supposedly one of the noisiest at night, but everyone from Bedlam went elsewhere to Party, so we weren't disturbed when we decided it was time for bed.

The first night we pitched our tent and Matt got into his new brecan feildhe. I was already wearing my new tunic, so I just kept that on: it was nice and warm. Before we were done setting up a drunk surfer dude dressed as a 12th century Finn came up and introduced himself and offered the four of us vodka. He was very proud of his costume, which he had made himself. He was also very drunk and knew a lot about spider venom. The rest of his group wandered over and all of a sudden we were having a little party. This is why War is so great, people wander, people chat, people share their booze and compliment each other's garb (and body parts, if they're feeling flirty).

On Saturday I got to see the work in progress on my Handfasting Dress, Peldyn had pinned it all together for a fitting and had some suggestions, such as making the skirt a little fuller, adding piping etc, she also offered me a damsk underskirt at cost. In the end I decided to add sleeves too, since the combination of a velvet gown with a damsk underskirt seems to call for something a little more dramatic than plain chemise-sleeves. The velvet is absolutely gorgeous, a lovely rich emerald green, and Peldyn had machine washed it with softener which made drape beautifully and feel more like silk velvet than cotton velvet. It's the shade of green I think of when people refer to Ireland as the "Emerald Isle", and that's exactly what I wanted. The sort of green you don't see often in California. Matt and I both grew up in green rolling hills, and it's something we both miss.

The rest of Saturday, the rest of War really, was spent alternating between hanging out at the campsite of some of our friends, and browsing the merchants. Matt and I spent far too much time at the booth of a particular swordmaker, drooling over a pair of handmade damascus short-swords with brass knotwork and Pictish beasties on the hilt and hand-tooled leather sheath. Something with that level of artistry and craftsmanship is the kind of sword I would be comfortable with displaying on my walls. A nice sword still isn't the most welcoming message if you ask me, but something that is clearly a work of art as well as a weapon is less of a statement of Nemo me impune lacessit, and more a statement of appreciation of the art of swordmaking.

I'm skipping over a lot, but it's all little details that sound pretty bland on their own. There was Mike wearing a jade green chiton with a cowboy hat (but the turquoise hat band co-ordinated perfectly with the chiton...). A philosophical discussion about comparitive religion in general and Buddhism in particular. Lori and Bob doing a Tang Soo Do blocking drill while drunk and managing not to break anything. Lots and lots of cold sake, too much cold sake for most of us in fact. A wonderful dutch-oven made chicken stew. More sake. A failed quest to find a satisfactory cold spiced tea (first they were out of chai mix, then they didn't know how to make it once they found some). A successful quest to find an athame for our handfasting, and a bonus find in the form of a solid silver rose pendant made by our favourite swordmaker. Another philosophical discusssion about child-rearding techniques, sparked by the repressive parenting techniques of the inhabitants of a neighboring tent.

Personal Greeter

We had the first meeting of the Homeowner's Association last night. It was really just an info session, the management company's representative explained how many "officers" we needed to elect, and handed out nomination forms. There will be another meeting next month to elect the officers and start tweaking the regulations that are already in place.

Matt and I have been worried about the "one house pet" rule since we found it in the HOA binder, now we're not worried. The rules we were given are just a starting point. The first task of the newly established HOA is to set rules about pets and common space, what people are and are not allowed to have on their little patios, blah blah. We've hung out with some of our neighbors already, and none of them have a problem with us having two pets, a lot of them say they wave to whichever cat is in the window as they go past. One woman said that one of our cats leaps up in the window to watch her walk past every single time she comes home, and that she felt as though the kitty's acting as her personal welcome-home committee. I like that idea, that Marble (we're pretty sure it's Marble) is making someone else in our complex feel more at home. The cats certainly make us feel more homey, I'm glad they're spreading the love out our windows too.

Wednesday, May 19, 2004

Remind Me

Why am I doing this again? Keeping this blog I mean. I'm not entirely sure where it fits in my life any more.

When I started keeping it I was in a big transitional phase between college and the working world. Not to mention being in personal crisis and involved in a few self destructive relationships. I needed a sounding board, a place to vent my thoughts and feelings; publishing those thoughts made me pay more attention what I was spewing into the keyboard. Made me think about what I was saying about myself, and about others. Not to mention making me attempt to pay attention to grammar and word choices. It was a therapeutic writing exercise combined with an attempt to get back into writing again.

There were things I needed to put "out there" just to stop them from knocking around inside my head and distracting me, and in the process of turning those fragmentary thoughts and emotions into the semblance of a cohesive paragraph I would be able to break down the images and line them up somewhat. I'd figure out why they were bugging me. Or at least figure out partly where they came from.

Even after I moved to San Diego, where I lived was no haven and I was actively pursuing a course of therapy for past hurts. There was a lot of re-ordering, reclassification and settling out going on in my head. The grand pie chart project of 2002. Now...I don't need a webspace to act as silent therapist any more. I can talk to Matt. I can talk to my friends. I can talk to my cats if I want to hear back advice no more complex than a squeak and a purr. I'm no longer wondering where the hell I went wrong, I know where I've gone wrong and I know where I took the right path after all.

Yet I keep posting. Laundry lists of what I did the past week. Poor me, I spent a ton on my car, and I'm not completely broke or really that upset, it's just life. My cats are cute, I love my fiance, weddings are expensive, we bought a condo, the cats are still cute and I'm getting to sound like a smug married with no real challenges or internal struggles. Even having facial surgery with very little warning turned out ok, it was hugely traumatic at the time, but I didn't write about it. Whenever I was lost in a reverie about what it could mean to me if I ended up with an ugly scar, I was not about to walk to my computer and start typing. My crises don't hit me when I'm sitting at my desk any more, they're not so overwhelming that they take over my brain until I channel them onto the page. They wait their turn until I'm lying in bed, at worst until I'm driving home (when I quickly shove the worst of them to the back until I'm not negotiating SoCal traffic).

I think the main reason I keep going is that I love being able to click on my archive and see what was going through my head exactly a year ago, or two years. The snippets are so random sometimes. I remember the incidents but can't believe they only happened a year ago, that I was in such an unhappy state so recently, or that this or that bothered me so much back then. The biggest example is how plagued I was by my past, and how I've learned to move on without blocking it completely and setting myself up for another big crash.

I like having a web presence. Of course I also fantasize about having a readership, but I'm pretty sure my "readership" consists solely of a few people who knew me at some point and are curious to see what's going on in my life. Just like I read a couple of blogs kept by people I no longer have contact with, but am curious to see how they're doing. I toy with the idea of a different blog to focus on my currently feeble attempts to knock myself off the fitness plateau, I toy with the idea of forbidding myself from posting anything but a decent bit of creative writing. I toy with the idea of paying more attention to the news and posting some semi intelligent comments on things that are important to me. I've had an offer to write a medical reporting column for an online magazine.

Online Magazine? You know...I should pursue that one. Then I won't be writing pointless crap about re-organizing my underwear drawer. I'll be writing potentially useful crap about recent medical fads and rumors.

Excuse me, I must go talk to a penguin about a new hobby.

Monday, May 17, 2004

If Mainlining Caffiene Doesn't Seem To Be Working

I guess I need to find a different technique to wake myself up. Or make this week a week of early nights to catch up on sleep. Or train the cats to desist from having a session of WWF kitty-wrestling on my legs in the middle of the night.

This is mostly to see if the comments function is working at all. Nothing of great import to report sir.

Friday, May 07, 2004

Price Adjustments and AAA-Emergencies

I followed one day of good and fun financial luck with a week that has left my wallet pleading for mercy.

Last Friday I discovered that the black linen dress I splurged on over a month ago (and still haven't worn) is now half price. After I finished feeling dumb for not waiting for it to go on sale I decided to take the dress, which is still in it's hanging bag and has the tags attached, to Ann Taylor and ask for a price adjustment. If they refused that I was going to return it and buy it again at the cheaper price. Fortunately for me the sales clerk decided to give me a price adjustment with only a mild admonishment for being outside the 14 day grace period. So I walked out of that store having bought earrings for Evie's birthday and STILL carrying a $42 credit on my store card. Yay.

Then I went into the sale section of Banana Republic and found a black velvet top with cream lace trim for a whopping $9.97. Leaving me up one birthday gift, one pretty frilly thing, and still $30 richer.

Matt and I then wandered around and decided how to spend the gift certificate our realtor gave us as a housewarming gift. We decided to use it for something we'd never splurge on with our own money: a good quality pepper grinder and sea-salt grinder. One came from Williams Sonoma, the other from Crate & Barrel, but it turns out they're made by the same company. The final decision on which ones to purchase came after traipsing back and forth a couple of times between the two stores to compare what they had. The gift certificate also covered a plate stand which will be used to hold up our wedding cake, and a box of Godiva for an extra treat.

The most fun shopping sprees are the ones where you walk home with an armload of goodies and are none the poorer.

Unfortunately, this week, to make up for last week's serendipitous money bonus, my car reared it's 12-year-old-84k-mileage status by snapping it's timing belt while I was going 65mph on the 52 West in rush hour...And had left my cell phone at work the night before. CHP rescued me by calling AAA on my behalf and I had them tow me to a repair place I know near work. It's possible my timing belt's decision to crap out saved me from a very expensive problem, one involving an exploding engine or busted head gasket, because I asked them to have a look at the coolant system while they were fixing the timing belt, and they discovered a nice big hole in the radiator and the complete absence of ANY coolant in the system. I knew it needed to be checked out, and had plans to do so...But might not have caught it before my car BLEW UP on me.

So I have a new timing belt, radiator and thermostat, and have been warned that my brake pads are at about 5-10% which means they need to be replaced in the next couple of weeks. My savings account is limping somewhat but it's all pretty routine stuff that any car of a similar age would need done. Pity it hit all at once, but my main feeling is one of having a lucky escape from more serious engine damage, and/or my brakes crapping out on me while driving.

Friday, April 16, 2004

Today's Piece of Wisdom

"Terrorism after all is a technique of conflict, not the conflict itself. And just as we can't uninvent nuclear weapons, we can't eliminate the idea of terrorism from the human psyche. It will always be there to tempt the disaffected, the extremist, the mentally disturbed and the power-mad. So from now on it will always be part of our lives. The idea of winning a war on terror is a political conceit of the unsophisticated mind." ~ Joan Bakewell, in The Guardian UK

Not only an unsophisticated conceit, but a complete distraction from tacking the real problems in the world.

Wednesday, April 14, 2004

I am very edgy today. I've been very edgy in general recently. I need some good exercise to tire me out and kill the edgyness. I also need some important financial security matters to quit being all up-in-the-air and not-dealt-with-yet.

Things like changing the title of our condo to joint tenancy between me and Matt, rather than just in his name. Things like homeowner's insurance, earthquake coverage, making sure all that covers expensive items like my computer, the keyboard, my wedding dress and his kilt...things like mortgage insurance, or life insurance, or SOMETHING that makes sure neither of us is up shit creek financially if the other dies.

I could really do with that all being sorted out so I can stop thinking about what it would be like if one of us died.

Friday, April 09, 2004

I know it was only this Monday that I last posted, but I feel as though Monday was a lot more than four days ago.

For one thing, I had surgery on Tuesday to remove the margins from around where my mole had been. They took out a narrow oval slice of skin about 1-1/2 inches long and 1/2 an inch wide, all the way down to the subcutaneous fat. It was worse than when I had something similar done to my scalp, probably because it was so close under my eye and I got a lovely black eye with lots of swelling. Both of which are mostly gone now, the black eye has developed through to a nice rich yellow colour, but my glasses hide the discoloured part pretty well.

Wednesday was a fairly busy day at work, not horribly so, but by about 4pm I was beat. My face hurt just from talking, because of the swelling on my cheek and the dressing over the wound pulling on the surrounding skin every time I moved my cheek. I caved and asked Dianne to give me a ride to my car, because I didn't fancy trudging up the hill and then going grocery shopping. When I got home I made banana bread and hung out with the kitties. My giant comfy chair is a great cat snuggling chair, they'll both jump up and sit with me there while I watch tv. Of course, the fact I was stirring a bowl full of butter and brown sugar was probably pretty attractive to them too, Marble tried to ooze towards the bowl a couple of times, but I eventually convinced her she was better off just sitting next to me with her chin on my arm, watching the butter get beaten with a wooden spoon.

By yesterday morning the swelling had decreased greatly, and I made it through the day without getting cramp in my cheek or wanting to curl up and eat a bottle of tylenol.

Work has been pretty hectic, we're doing a lot of new things and we just had our cell culture hood decontaminated and serviced which meant on top of the four of us working in here, we had two technicians working on the hood, which is in the narrowest througfare of the room. A tad stressful, but it's good to know the hood is good as new.

For some reason the insertion of the new filter has led to the lab smelling of grilled-cheese sandwiches. The ones made in the specialized waffle-iron like appliance that adds the smell of hot metal to the greasy cheese aroma. It's not just me, Dianne said it smelled like her granny's house, and her granny apparantly fried everything.

Monday, April 05, 2004


We are moved, completely and entirely. All of our possesions out of the old place and in the new place, though by no means organized in the new place. The only things left behind are a few errant hairballs that I couldn't chase down with the vacuum cleaner.

So, on the dawn of our second anniversary of meeting we woke up in the third apartment we've lived in together officially (as opposed to living together alternating between both our apartments), and our first home with a mortgage. Two years ago today, at this time of day, I didn't even know what he looked like. Today I woke up next to him, like I have been doing for the past year and a half, and curled up in a ball with him, trying to fend off the message of awakeness the alarm clock was bombarding us with. It seems things have moved very fast for us, but only because things are right. Everything that's happened for us has happened at the right time. Meeting, moving in together, deciding to get married, being forced out of our first place together into a teeny tiny little place with bucketloads of character, meeting our kitties, and finally getting into the housing all worked out for the best possible result: us, at two years, planning our wedding, with a stable place to live, two lovely furballs to keep us entertained, and a a lot more adventure to look forward to.

Tuesday, March 30, 2004

If My Lab Notebook And Journal Were Combined

Mon. 3-29 - Changed Human Brain Endothelial Cell (HBMEC) coverslips to minimal media. Handed on to Aline for PI treatment. Will stain with H2DCFDA for confocal imaging on 3-31.

Plated 24-well plate, with coverslips, of HT22 cells for Tat/Meth treatment and H2DCFDA stain.

Plated new 24-well plate (no coverslips) of HBMEC for Monica's repeat of Methamphetemine toxicity study. Will supervise treatment on 3-30.

Passed Human Umbilical Vein Endothelial Cells (HUVEC). Split one flask into three.

Drove to PetSmart. Purchased new litter tray (with odor-absorbing cover), litter-catching mat, rubber tray to go under water dish, and 8lb of IAMS light hairball control formula.

Took 52-E to 805-S to 163-S to Friar's Road. Visited The Container Store to purchase plastic shoeboxes, cedar blocks for clothes storage, a large container for cat food, and a pan-lid rack for the kitchen. Also obtained an acid-free archival quality box. Box will be used to store wedding dress, which is to be picked up sometime before 4-2.

Returned home, met with building manager to establish protocol for our early vacation of premesis, and transferring apartment to two post doctoral students from London.

Dinner was made by Matt, the popular combination of Trader Joe's Marinara, Hunt's Tomato Sauce, 95% lean ground beef, and various spices, poured over al dente pasta.

Tues. 3-30 - Blocked PGP test blots for 1hr @ room temp in 5% non-fat milk solution. Washed 4 times in PBS-T. Put in primary Ab solution at the following concentrations: 1:250, 1:500, 1:1000, 1:2500. Incubated overnight in cold room.

Walked to bank, withdrew $20 for gas money.

Returned to lab to eat lunch.

Wrote rather silly and rambling blog entry, in the process of which remembering what I have left to do today...followed by publishing and getting on with the day's work.

Thursday, March 25, 2004

Mole Update

The delayed closing of escrow wasn't the only thing causing me to freak out on Monday, I also had my stitches removed. I expected it to hurt a lot more than it did, based on my experience with the stitches in my scalp from last year's mole. Gah, I really hope this mole-removal thing doesn't become a springtime routine for me. Anyway, I was anticipating brief but significant pain, combined with the general freakiness of my face being messed with, plus the background worry of what the biopsy results would be.

Turns out it isn't melanoma (entire family breaths a sigh of relief), but a less malignant form of abnormality called Spitz Nevus. So it's a mixed bag, hooray for absence of melanoma, but since the cells were still abnormal, I have to have the margin excised. Which means more of my face being removed. A very melodramatic way of saying that they'll take out a slim oval surrounding the original excision site, leaving me with a line about twice as long as the one I have now.

I was not happy about this news at all. The wound on my face still looked pretty swollen at this point, and the indents left by the sutures were still very evident, all I could think of was walking around for the rest of my life with a highly visible zipper-like scar in the middle of my face. As if I don't have enough appearance issues already. My one big self reasurring point has always been that even if by body is ungainly, at least my face is ok, sometimes even more than ok, sometimes beautiful.

I have no way of knowing how much I was channeling all the surrounding tension into the issue of further surgery, probably quite a lot, but I cried most of the way home, and the only reason I didn't continue to cry much at home is that Matt calmed me down and made me feel better.

Tuesday, Mum called me in the middle of the day to say hi. It turns out Dad had called to update her when he got my email saying the mole wasn't cancerous, but they still wanted to remove the margin. It meant a lot to me that from that minimal information she knew it was worth calling to see if I was ok. She has a couple of small scars, one from a broken nose, one from thyroid surgery (on her neck), so I know she understands the worry of being marked.

Today I'm a lot less worried, the swelling has gone, and the stitch marks too, and all that's left is a red line about half an inch long. No zipper, no big pucker marks. If the result of the margin removal looks like this, only longer, I can cope. My dermatologist is clearly capable of lining up the edges properly when stitching up a hole. I'm not ecstatic about the prospect of a further piece of my cheek being removed of course, or about another week of looking after sutures followed by however long it takes to heal fully after the sutures are taken out. At least I feel fairly confident I'm not going to become an investor in copious amounts of cover-up, just a more regular sunscreen wearer.

Wednesday, March 24, 2004

Escrow Limbo

No luck on the obtaining of keys, we're waiting on the Veteran's Affairs appraiser, he has to go and appraise our condo before the VA will fully approve the loan. Four other units in the same development have already been approved by the VA, so we're not worried about being refused, just waiting for the wheels of that government agency to catch up with the lender and escrow company.

I spent most of Monday freaking out about all of our neatly laid plans being messed up. No moving out by the end of the month, no being moved before our anniversary, no camping trip and Handfasting site-scouting. Then I realized that it's only a week's delay and spent Tuesday morning rescheduling like a crazed secretary. Our neatly schemed move will still happen as we mapped it out, with box-moving and the arrival of the fridge through the week followed by the big stuff on Saturday, only it'll be the next Saturday. My previously arranged beauty appointment to de-stress after the move will now be a de-stress in preparation for the move. The camping trip is the only real casualty, and we'll make that up as soon as possible.

Yesterday the estimate was that the appraisal was going to happen on Friday, which means the report wouldn't be submitted till Monday or Tuesday, leading to keys being handed over exactly a week late on Tuesday or Wednesday...But he might just possibly do the inspection on Thursday. If he does, and if he submits his paperwork that day, not Friday, we could maybe have the keys this week.

We're not counting on it.

If we get the keys this weekend it will be a bonus chance to move some boxes in, we're not going to be waiting on edge to see if we can do the big move after all, we're on edge enough as it is.

So much for the keys, clicker, storage shed, fridge, new furniture and all that rot. To compensate for life's failure to deliver those wants, the fates gave me an ego boost in the form of a size 12, timeless little black dress that fits perfectly and makes me want to wear it with bare legs and strappy sandals. Not the LBD I linked to earlier, an even more classic one in linen, with no convenient web photo. You'll just have to take my word for it's fabulousness.

So instead of taking my Friday public holiday to move boxes from North Park to El Cajon, I'm taking my Friday public holiday and getting a one hour facial, followed by having my hair lowlighted brown. After a quick visit to the lab (because there is no such thing as a full day off unless you're going out of town), I shall don the timeless little black size twelve dress that fits me perfectly, put on makeup and strappy red heels, ignore the fact that I do not posses a Coach handbag and meet my sweetie for dinner to celebrate our second anniversary early and congratulate ourselves on almost being on the real estate ladder.

Poor Matt, being confronted with a new hair colour and a new dress to notice, all in one date.

Monday, March 22, 2004

There's No Place Like Home

I want the keys to our new condo.

I want the keys, my own gate clicker and a storage shed, already leased and in our posession.

I want the keys, gate clicker, storage shed, us to be moved in, the fridge to be already delivered and installed (and full), a lazy susan installed in the corner cabinet of the kitchen, a dark hardwood bar/display cabinet for the dining area, a big chunky coffee table and an air filter to capture the flying cat fur.

I want the keys, gate clicker, storage, fridge, lazy susan, new furniture, air filter, a timeless little black dress[>] that fits me perfectly, a coach purse[>] with the little daisy tag on it, a pair of heels [>] I will love forever, and a dinner date with my sweetie on which to wear aforementioned dress and shoes, carry said purse, and spend an evening being grownups celebrating two years together.

But I'd settle for the keys to our new condo.

Friday, March 19, 2004

There is an additional factor to me being in organizational overdrive, complete with the usual accompanying feelings of sleep deprivation and overcaffienation. This additional factor is sorting out someone to take over our current lease. I have agreement from a pair of post-docs from London that they will take the apartment starting the first week in April, but I also know they haven't bought their tickets from the UK yet, and probably won't arrive until the middle of April.

So now it's a question of them faxing me signed leases, and wiring me the 1st month's rent and security deposit. If they don't take over the apartment, we're responsible for rent until someone else rents it. That's $1100 a month extra that we just don't have. I don't think it will fall through, but it's something very serious that I'll feel a lot better about once it's signed, sealed and delivered.

The escrow paperwork is signed, sealed and delivered. However, there is now a problem with the mortgage paperwork. They got some of the assets and liabilities listed in the wrong columns, and since Matt not only has to sign the list, but a paper swearing all financial information to be complete and correct...He couldn't sign everything. This stuff needs to be completed and handed in either to the bank, or the escrow company, in time for them to complete all the processing by the close of business on Monday. Of course, if it isn't complete by then it's only a delay, not a disaster, but if there's too much of a delay, I won't be able to get the fridge delivered on Thursday, and we'll be fridgeless until the next Thursday.

In short, there are far too many things up in the air, many of them entangled in lovely complex little cascades of cause and effect with each other.

No wonder I'm having trouble getting to sleep.

Wednesday, March 17, 2004

It Never Rains But It Pours

The past three days have been rather eventful. On Monday I had a mole removed from my face, temporarily replaced with a charming pair of sutures, and hopefully in the long term only replaced with a faint scar. Tuesday, I had an appointment lined up for a facial, to treat myself before the move...In light of Monday's minor surgery I changed the facial to having my eyebrows shaped. Matt preferred them before. I'm still undecided.

This morning I had my annual eye exam, complete with the scary eyedrops that make everyone look like a dope fiend for the rest of the day by dilating the pupils. The eye doctor was impressed by how healed-looking my stitches look after only 48 hours. I hope this bodes well for minimal scarring.

I'm thinking of getting my hair dyed brown. No particular reason other than I think it would look nice.

Added into the mix is the fact that to close escrow on Tuesday next week, we actually need to have all of the paperwork signed and at the escrow office next Monday, or to be really sure, this Friday. Day after tomorrow in other words. We only got the forms from the mortgage company this morning, and some of the escrow paperwork remains to be deciphered. Even if Matt signs them all and they're mailed tomorrow, we're cutting it a bit close. This will probably mean me acting as courier, rather than trusting the local mail service to deliver it all in a day. The realities of "we're buying a condo" and "we're moving in less than a week" still have not sunk in enough for it to be exciting. I think I'm more in organizing mode, and I'll be excited once we're unpacking. Or maybe I'll be excited when I'm waiting, in our new condo, for the fridge to be delivered. Fridge ownership is an easier concept to grasp than home ownership it seems.

Thursday, March 11, 2004

I haven't babbled about the kitties much recently, they're still ridiculously cute, and getting more friendly too. Marble now seeks out lap time, complete with purring and kneeding of the paws, though she only gets snuggly in the bedroom or study, in the living room she sits off to one side and stares at us. This morning she was under the covers down by my feet, and I was petting her with my toes, mostly on her tummy. Every other cat I've owned would have responded to this by fighting with my feet, both because of tummy contact and the whole feisty under-the blankets thing. Marble stretched and started to purr, then used my ankle as a pillow. She also does this adorable flirty thing where she'll reach her tufty little paws up onto the arm of the futon or comfy chair while looking at you, and then squeak a little comedy meow for emphasis.

Talli has developed an addiction to greek yoghurt, so have Matt and I, but we don't end up with a face covered in yoghurt after cleaning out a bowl. We should probably train him to use a spoon, but it's far too amusing to see him with yoghurt all over his eyebrows. He's also an utter love bug, just like his sister. He's not the only cat I've known who likes to be carried about so that he can get a good view of the world without exerting himself, but he is the only cat I've known who actively likes to be hugged. If he's sitting in my lap he won't settle down until he has an arm draped accross him. He'll keep trampling in a circle and leaning up against my stomach until I give him a hug and leave my arm wrapped around him. He's got me well trained. He's also trained Matt to pick him up and carry him about the apartment tucked under one arm.

Yes I did say he's trained Matt. Cats are good at that sort of thing.

I'm looking forward to see what zooming pattern they adopt in our condo, they won't have such a long hallway to bound along, but they will have full carpet for better traction. They were getting pretty good at leaping from rug to rug to avoid the hardwood floor scrabbling, or launching themselves off the sides of walls and furniture when there wasn't a rug nearby.

Now I must stop extolling the virtues of the fabulous furballs and go learn a new fluorescent staining protocol.

Wednesday, March 10, 2004

Yesterday we met at Costco and ordered a refrigerator. I used the massive $7 cash back rebate from my Amex card to chip a tiny bit off the price, the free shipping rebate will help too. When it arrives after it's "4-6 week" journey through rebate limbo.

And Now For Something Completely Different

"I imagine insanity tastes like lemon drops."

"Lemon drops with chilli sauce: that's more insane."

"Different types of insanity would taste different, for some reason I want to say that my ex's brain would be more like rancid guacamole. Largely because of the wierd grey colour avocados go when they go bad."

"My brain is like watermelon: tasty, yet mainly made of water. And you have to spit the seeds out."

What does your brain taste like?

Tuesday, March 09, 2004

Now we have (finally) got the mortgage details from the lender, the condo thing is starting to feel a lot more real. I've thought of beginning the process of notifying the phone company, credit cards, bank etc. about the address change, as well as ordering a refrigerator in time to have it delivered in that first week...But without anything solid from the lender it felt that taking those steps would be premature.

Perhaps now I will finally start filling some of the boxes I've taken home for the move, and go down to the Core Facility to beg some more conveniently sized ones. I've found that the standard 18" cube of the Invitrogen boxes are perfect for hauling books and other worldly possessions. Nobody watching us move could be in any doubt that at least one person in our household works in a lab. Fortunately not too many of our boxes have biohazard symbols on them to frighten the general populous with.

Monday, March 01, 2004

We are in escrow!

Well, technically, Matt is in escrow, and I'm standing next to him holding on to the paperwork. We were told that we could close escrow as soon as March 18th, but are going to ask for a week after that. At this point the exact closing date only depends on when the lender can get us funded. Considering she still hasn't sent Matt the details of the two loans he gets to choose between...I have some doubt that we're really going to know the closing date until it actually happens.

Either way, it's time to start hoarding delivery boxes from work and packing up the things we don't need on a daily basis. Because it's going to be in the next month that we get the keys and start moving. This will really and truly be the last move for years. That way we'll return our average to one move a year or less, not four in one 12-month period.
I'm looking forward to having a bit more room. A place to have my sewing machine set up and my few craft supplies somewhat organized, not just part of the heap of boxes of things we have nowhere to store properly. Having counter space in the kitchen again, a coffee table in the living room and a real dining area for our personalized table and chairs. Two closets plus a linen cupboard, a dishwasher, space for a second dresser in the bedroom. A dresser of my own and being able to get out of the bed on my side will make it feel like a palatal bedroom. No more trampling poor Matt on my way to the bathroom.

The study will no longer contain the dining room table acting as a desk, and the bedside cabinets acting as printer stand and office-supply holders. Cooking will no longer require having an assistant to stand and hold things for me because there's nowhere to put them down momentarily while I stir!

However, I will miss waking up and seeing the dark wooden beams of the ceiling. I will miss coming home and looking up and knowing that the shack-like structure on top of that building is our little cottage apartment, secluded by it's height, with a view from the eastern mountains all the way around to the sunset. I doubt we'll ever live in a place with a 360 degree view again, though we may well have an equally nice outdoor space as the deck.

It's hard to say why we love this teeny apartment so much, in describing it it sounds poky and inconveniently crowded once all of our crap is in there. I suppose it's one of those place that you just have to see to understand it. Something about the combination of wooden floors and ceilings, the warm beige on the walls, the one corner of the hallway that's been painted burnt orange, the runner on the stairs with little llamas and northwestern doo-dads on it. The unused and unusable private elevator adds a touch of mystery, though I never let myself think too hard about my sister's conclusion that it must be haunted.

It's warm and welcoming, people have been happy there and the walls reflect that. It's the first place Matt and I felt homey in, our first apartment together was plagued by an alley full of screaming brats and even more screaming rap music, it never felt like a sanctuary. I hope the new place will be peaceful enough to feel like a sanctuary, being able to paint the walls will make it easier to personalize, we just have to hope for a minimum of the screaming brat/obnoxious rap music.

Wednesday, February 25, 2004

I feel so intelligent. I just sent an email to my senior boss in which I used the phrase "Gorbachev's role in the dissolution of the USSR", ok so I was actually telling him that an author I thought might have written on the subject hadn't published any non fiction on it after all. But still. Not just a pretty face. Or a boring scientist either.

Yesterday I placed an ad in the San Diego Reader for our apartment, to find someone to take over our lease, since we're going into escrow on Sunday. With a 30 day escrow, that means we'll be moving the first week of April. There have already been two calls about the ad.

This is giving me a small taste of what it might be like to be a landlord, it's really odd to be the one answering the phone to "I'm calling about the apartment in North Park...". I've had two major apartment searches recently, and now I'm on the other end of that phone call, answering questions about security deposits and pet rules. Matt and I have just removed ourselves from the world of apartment hunting and stepped into house-hunting. They're both pretty stressful frankly. I'm not sure I could say one is preferable to the other, except for the fact that house-hunting tends to be repeated less frequently.

Tuesday, February 24, 2004

I was in the middle of writing a post about the past week when I extremely cleverly quit my web browser application on a whim. Don't ask, suddenly the [command] [Q] called to me.

On Saturday we met with a realtor and were given a list of places to drive by and check out the areas.

Sunday (after 5 hours of whale-watching) we met the realtor at a condo in La Mesa and looked at the inside.

Monday we drafted and sent an offer to the seller.

Tuesday we twiddled our thumbs with much excitement and applied for financing.

Wednesday we got a counter-offer, looked at the condo a second time to be sure, drafted a response and sent it off.

Thursday noon I found out we don't qualify for the 100% loan with closing costs rolled in we'd been hoping for. Or the 100% loan where we pay closing. We qualified for a 3% down loan, which meant help would be needed.

Thursday 2pm I left for the conference in LA, after leaving a voicemail for Matt saying we didn't get the mortgage we'd hoped for so we couldn't buy unless we got a couple of grand from my parents asap.

Thursday 3pm Matt called me back, not a happy bunny, and told me that the seller would accept our offer if we could promise (in writing of course) to show him an approval letter from the bank on Monday, and show that we had the funds for down payment and closing costs in our possession by Thursday...

We had until 3pm Friday to respond.

If we responded "yes" and then were unable to show funds by the required day, the seller could kick us out of escrow and keep our $3000 deposit as a souvenir. If we failed to respond the condo would stay on the market and might sell before we had our financing all lined up and ready to go.

Noon Friday Matt and I both told our realtor we had to back off on this one and we all started breathing again.

As soon as we figured out it was a choice between risking our deposit and risking someone else buying the place before us, it was an easy decision. You'd be surprised how much there was ricocheting about in my head before I came to that realization. For a while it felt like no matter what we did we'd be risking our money, but that's exactly what the seller wanted. They wanted to lay on the pressure to hurry up the deal.

Right now, as I type, we're waiting to hear on a different place, this one in El Cajon. We've qualified with their lender (which means a nice big credit to help with closing costs), but nothing has been signed or put in writing yet and we're not in escrow, so chickens are not to be counted as yet.

By the way, Matt and I are trying to become homeowners, it's been in the works for a while, but last week it all of a sudden became an active search, last week we stopped looking and running numbers and started chasing around East County trying to make decisions and find something that works for us.

Tuesday, February 17, 2004

February is trying to make up for how fast January went by dragging it's feet and refusing to get into the upper teens. I can't believe it's only the 17th, it's only the 17th and I don't get paid until March 1st. The problem with getting paid monthly is sometimes payday can seem a really looong way away. Especially when paying off large purchases from the previous month.

Right now I'm playing with layers of text in photoshop, making a banner title for posters being presented at an HIV conference in LA on Friday, which will also be my first ever conference as a working scientist. Huzzah.

Thursday, February 12, 2004

I learned something new the other night. I learned that parmesan chicken pizza can survive being cooked for almost an hour, rather than the recommended 25 minutes, and still be edible. Crispy and a little flame-broiled in flavour, but entirely edible. Apart from the edge of the crust, which may as well have been made of wood.

Maybe having the kitchen timer built into the microwave isn't such a great innovation after all. With me in the study, it was far away enough that I didn't register the sound. I was also deeply absorbed in figuring out the budgeting feature on Quicken. Having tracked my spending for a year I figured that perhaps it would be a good idea to start setting spending (and not spending) goals, rather than just watching the pretty money trickle away.

I've made progress since last year, especially considering I just dealt with Christmas and the first of the wedding-related expenses without touching my savings. But I'm tired of looking back and realising how much I've spent by buying my lunch or dinner because I forgot to bring a sandwich or I'm too tired to cook, as long as we keep a stash of decent canned soup I can avoid the evening meal expense, and I just have to get more in the habit of sandwich making. It should be easy enough considering how addictive the curry flavour naan bread from Trader Joe's is. I need to locate a decent brand of tuna fish too.

I will become a grownup dammit! A grownup with a financial plan and a (bigger) savings account and all that good stuff.

Friday, February 06, 2004

There is something really disturbing to me about people who eat a great deal faster than I do, and especially if they eat a significant-sized meal and are hungry again within an hour, hungry enough to eat another meal.

I'm a wolverine, I have to take care to avoid inhaling my food, because I have learned that inhaling my food means I don't notice eating it and have no feeling of having enjoyed it...Therefore I want MORE food so I can enjoy that instead. It also takes a while for the stomach to realize it's' getting filled, so if you eat fast you're very likely to eat more than you need because you feel full well after you've eaten a filling quantity.

I spent the weekend with a friend who I remember as being pretty much perpetually "hungry", but I hadn't been up close and personal with his eating habits since I've learned a little restraint and appreciation of food for myself. The day that got me onto this rant involved getting up at 10am, breakfast was two (count 'em) chicken burgers and an order of fries a little after noon. By 4pm he said "I'm getting hungry, is there a place we can go get food soon?", so we swung by a Greek place about half an hour later and he got a gyro. I must add that this was after four hours of sitting in the computer room at my work, browsing the web and making phone calls, not four hours of walking around town or anything else involving significant exertion. Less than 45 minutes later he said "so are we going to go to that McDonald's you mentioned then?" and here I had been thinking the gyro had been in place of McDonald's...Silly me...The greasy beef sandwich had just been a SNACK!

We weren't, as it happened, near to a Ms Donald's at this point, but we were near an In'N'Out, so through the drive-through we went. As soon as we got home he chomped through the double-double, fries and strawberry milkshake in less than 5 minutes and started nursing his bucket of coca-cola. When I exclaimed at the speed with which he demolished the burger his explanation was that he didn't pay good money for food only to have it go cold before he'd finished it.

In case you are wondering, this guy is not obviously obese, he doesn't look like he eats this way. He looks like a slightly chunky man of 5'9" or so, with a bowling ball for a gut, but not so much of a bowling ball that a button down shirt is incapable of minimizing it. I cannot speak for the state of his arteries or attest to how his insulin system is holding up, I do know that his father has had adult onset diabetes for several years and has not altered his eating habits accordingly.

The day before the burgerama there was a large Chipotle burrito for lunch, which didn't fill him up, he "should have had two of them really". He supplemented the inadequate lunch with lots of chips. These burritos are dense, I have trouble finishing one, and I've got a pretty high capacity. Then 1/3 of a pizza that evening left him longing for a chocolate binge. The local 7/11 allowed him to fill his need with a dove ice cream bar and 3 bars of chocolate.

I was seriously freaked out by all this. I felt I had a binge-eater as a houseguest, that by transporting him to get his dinner I was enabling his self-damaging behavior, an accessory to his destruction of his own health. I worried about the state of his mind that he didn't see (or care) how healthy he's making himself.

His joyless gobbling bothers me because it's how I gained about 40lb over my last 6 months of university. I sought solace in comfort food and ate it all so fast that I could barely taste any of it, so I kept taking more and more. I already had some worrying health complications showing up from that by the time I graduated, I was lucky I nipped it in the bud before I did permanent damage. I've been there, I've eaten ridiculous amounts of junk, not quite so meat and grease heavy, but ice-cream and Belgian waffles in excess are still every bit as silly.

It bothers me because he's my friend and I can't see how such eating habits can ever be healthy, or indicate a healthy mental state. I don't want him to give himself diabetes, because if he can't curb his habits now, he certainly won't be able to curb them if he's diagnosed with something that requires a restricted diet. I don't want him to DIE. He's living like this guy [>] did as an experiment... And look what happened to him in just a month!

I'm not yet sure how much of my freakout is caused by concern for his health, and how much by the fear that if I'd spent much more time around those eating habits I might have gone back to them myself. I was disgusted because it reminded me of myself at my least happy and most self-destructive. I was afraid for him that he was hurting himself so much, but I was also mildly envious that he didn't spend parts of his day trying to map out intelligent food choices. He felt hungry and ate what he wanted, when he wanted. I can't do that, I choose not to. It doesn't mean that I don't sometimes I wish I could.

Wednesday, February 04, 2004

I am the most computer-literate person in the "girls' lab", which is to say that I have used both apples and PCs without feeling daunted by the differences, I know how to load virus scanning software, update it and run the virus scan, and if your stuff isn't printing I might be able to get it to print (usually by turning either the printer or your computer off and back on). I'm the woman who gets asked to fix random computer stuff because I evidently look like I know what I'm doing. Possibly because I have dated a computer science major, had two highly computer literate roommates and am living with a network systems instructor...So I recognize a lot of the jargon even if I can't really use it myself.

It's all an act though, because on Monday night I killed my home PC to the point of no return by downloading a Windows Update and installing it, then restarting my computer as it told me to do. This should not be a damaging process, the restart is just to complete the installation. Only it didn't restart, it shut down, tried to restart and then gave me a black screen with the message "NTLDR Missing Press any key to restart".

I pressed a key: NTLDR Missing Press any key to restart.

I pressed a different key:NTLDR Missing Press any key to restart.

I panicked. I pressed a third key repeatedly.

NTLDR Missing
Press any key to restart

NTLDR Missing
Press any key to restart

NTLDR Missing
Press any key to restart

NTLDR Missing
Press any key to restart

I tried the trusty [cntrl] [alt] [delete] , and it came back to the same black screen and the same message. At this point I decided it might be a good idea if I knew what the message meant, so I asked my friend Marc, who was visiting, he told me it's part of the boot drive, which is the part that starts up your computer and gets the operating system going, anything wrong with that part is not a good sign. We tried powering down, unplugging for a minute, and starting it back up again. No joy. We tried F8, F10, and F4, both holding them down and tapping them quickly while restarting. Still no joy.

I called HP support, unplugged all unnecessary peripherals from the box and tried the F10 tapping thing again. I was told that since that didn't work we would have to do a "destructive reload", which means wiping my hard drive and reloading windows and all the programs, but loosing whatever files I already had on the computer. Like the photographs we took on my birthday. Not acceptable. I asked some more technical questions to make it obvious I wasn't a complete tech-idiot and was told that I could physically remove the hard drive, take it to another desk top and slave it to that computer's hard drive to retrieve the files.

I called Bob, woke him up and spouted a lot of techie jargon at him, some of which I understood, essentially asking if I could open his box and plug my hard drive into it to save some files, and by the way did he want a free colour printer?

At this point Matt was already home and he decided he'd have a go at fixing the computer, which seemed pretty pointless since we'd tried everything already.

He had it running again inside about 40 seconds. All he did was remove the floppy disk from the disk drive and start the machine up again.


I had looked at the disk drive to see if there was something in it, and since the disk was black and label-less I hadn't seen it. I didn't think to push the eject button anyway. Just in case.

So...I may be the most computer literate person in my lab, but I think that's more indicative of the fact that my lab is in serious trouble if anything really does go wrong than it is of my computer-tech prowess.

Sunday, January 25, 2004

Self Image & Playing Dress-Up

I have always been a big one for the fun of playing dress-up, creating an alternative persona and donning appropriate attire for the role, even if that persona is merely an emphasis of a single aspect of myself. Nowadays this is usually the feeling I have when I take the time to put on makeup, the emphasis of my features making me a slightly exaggerated, hopefully better looking, version of myself: New Improved Rosie PLUS! With decreased blotchiness and 50% more eyelashes than ever before!

Before I discovered the joys of cosmetics most of my self transformations were achieved through clever manipulation of old net curtains. Our dressing up box contained a few discarded 1960s outfits of my mother's, ranging from smart dressy blouses to hippyish kaftans, one extremely ugly baby blue nylon negligee, and dozens of yards of heavy-weight chiffon which had adorned the windows of our house when my parents moved in.

Net curtain is a surprisingly versatile costuming medium, especially combined with a child's imagination. There was a lot of "I'm a roman senator!" of course, and some "I'm Cleopatra... Dressed like a roman senator!" I'm pretty sure the Greek and Roman pantheons factored in somewhere, along with the White Witch of Narnia, Glenda the Good Witch of Oz...And probably a great deal of randomly draping myself in white and declaring that the curtains represented Elizabeth I's famous gold gown, or Victoria's plain black mourning dress. They didn't have to accurately resemble anything, the point was to cover day to day garb and become something, someone different.

You'd think with such a preponderance of white frilly dress-up stuff surrounding me at an early age that I would have played the ultimate girlish fantasy role of "bride" many times in my early years, perfecting my mental image of myself as a virginal princess awaiting my shining knight. But I didn't.

Princess never factored in strongly as a fantasy role for me either, since in most fairy tales one achieves princess status by marrying a prince. I liked Cinderella more before she got the prince: she put up with a lot of crap and was still nice to the local wildlife, afterwards she was just "the princes bride". The Little Mermaid was absolutely stark staring crazy for giving up being a mermaid, just to be a mute wife to a stuck up ponce of a prince, not to mention the whole walking-on-knives thing she had to live with in the version I read. I mean come on! Mermaid... Swimming about like a dolphin, being one of the sexiest mythical creatures ever conceived, sitting on a rock combing your hair all day...Since when is being a half-crippled land bound princess better than that?

My sister planned a pretend wedding for me, marrying me off to the boy down the street when I was only three years old. I wore a many-layered net curtain skirt pulled up to my armpits in place of a dress, blue canvas mary-jane shoes with paper flowers glued on specially for the occasion, and a mantilla style veil of (you guessed it) net curtain. That was fun because it was an excuse to play, it was a party, plus it meant a great deal of attention for me and the little groom, nothing to do with the wedding part.

When I fantasized fairytale roles for myself I was a nymph of the woodland or river variety, I was Botticelli's Venus rising from the waves, I was Titania, a mermaid or selkie, a mortal child thrust into a magic world like Dorothy in Oz or Lucy in Narnia, sometimes Nancy Drew or a female version of Sherlock Holmes. What I'm getting at here is the absence of damsel in distress roles. I hated being cast as the girl tied to the railroad tracks when I played with the boys in my neighborhood.

Of course I had insecurities that I ignored with play, but I played at being a strong adventurous female to quell my fears, rather than dreaming of rescue from my emptiness by something tall dark and handsome. I was lonely, so I made up varied characters to fill that space, not some hunky husband.

Perhaps that is why the bridal boutiques I have visited have had such a surreal dressing up box feeling to me. All that white lace and netting reminds me more of flouncing around the upstairs bathroom declaring myself the child incarnation of several of the ancient gods (all rolled into one of course), of the dusty mothball smell of some old lady's misplaced attempt to prettify the windows of a Victorian house. It all seems like a hold-over from more than a century ago, when tight fitting bodices and full skirts were daily wear, the wedding dress was just a more special variation on the regular style.

I have been trying to take the attitude that this is an excuse to buy an unusually expensive outfit and dress much more ornately than usual, then I get caught up in the cultural expectations of ornately beaded bodices, chapel trains and schiffli lace and and I start to get the feeling that somehow my search for The Dress should be some sort of spiritual journey.

Everything I tried on until last Friday felt like a costume, even the one dress that was close to being a contender was more Scarlett O'Hara than it was Rosemary Grace...These confections did not elicit the mythical moment of wonder and high emotion supposedly brought on by donning a heavily structured gown of ivory satin and shimmering sequins: the moment when you first "feel like a bride". Maybe I don't know what this Bride Feeling [TM] is supposed to be. It's hard to get religious about an item of clothing that has been elevated to iconic status by the fashion industry as an excuse to squeeze at least a grand and a half out of every woman who wishes to make her wedding a big celebration.

Then I finally achieved the moment when you know you're wearing The Dress, and it was a simple as looking in the mirror and realizing that the size ten sample I had half-squeezed myself into looked like something I would wear in real life, that what stood out was me and not the dress. After all, that's what I wanted: to be pretty, and to be myself. Rosie Plus! Shiny Hair! Not-Shiny Forehead! 50% more eyelashes! Best foot forward for a day that celebrates how lucky I am to have found my life partner, how lucky we are to be together and happy.

Wednesday, January 07, 2004

I don't recommend having a massive dose of progesterone injected into your hip as a mood-lifter. I nearly burst into tears and hid under the bed this morning because I put too much milk in the bowls for our instant oatmeal and it was runny. The agony of runny oatmeal! Of course it wasn't the state of the oatmeal that upset me, it was the inference that I was incapable of a task as simple as making said oatmeal. The unfortunate side effect of hormonal birth control is that it gives me a week of feeling utterly stupid, and highly defensive about that stupidity.

Defensiveness seems to run in my family, I noticed this Christmas that my parents and sister and I are frequently to be heard saying "what, do you think I'm stupid?" or some other similar hackled response. Having noticed it I'm starting to head those thought trains off at the pass. Before they reach my mouth. It leads to lots of uneccesary aggro, we're such a drama free unit, it would be nice to be even more drama free.

Right now I need to get back to updating my notebook. I have to get myself organized before Dianne goes to Ethiopia for two weeks, leaving me in charge of the lab, and the high school student who arrives next week. I'm still getting used to being in a teacherly position, though luckily this time I won't be simultaneously teaching a high school student and a recent graduate, that makes it more tricky because they're at very different levels of understanding to start with.

Monday, January 05, 2004

So much to mention, very few things of vast importance, but then that's how my life has been going recently. There's very little big huge news, low drama levels, so I feel that anything I think of to write about here is terribly trivial and not essential to be mentioned...and end up writing nothing. While I still go to read the trivial details of other people on their blogs, so clearly trivia is what makes things interesting, details and minutiae. Hell, I even wrote a poem once about how life (and love) are made up of the seemingly trivial details.

Perhaps what I need to do is to pick my favorite detail and write about that, rather than listing off everything and watching it flatten like toothpaste as it's translated into text.

Marble has developed a false idol. Instead of dutifully worshipping us two humans as the givers of catnip toys, crunchy nutritionally balanced food, the occasional treat of a scrap of cheese, and a warm place to sleep, she spends her days gazing lovingly at one arm of the futon sofa. The arm that contains her One True Love: the feather wand. If I sit at that end of the sofa she will start pacing back and forth, stretching up to paw at the hinges, sitting up on her haunches like a meerkat so she can stare at me and make a little squeak that I can only assume is supposed to be a meow. I can be there for an hour or more, watching a movie, and every time I look at her she's still wide-eyed with anticipation and lets out a little peep to tell me to get a move on and give her some fun. She must have a built in sensor that can tell if the arm has been opened while she's of of sight, because if I open it to retrieve a remote control, or a lighter, Marble materializes right next to me, pulling herself up onto the seat of the sofa, ready to chomp on some feather and plastic. She's a crack addict with fuzzy paws and a round belly.

Which brings me conveniently to her newly acquired pot belly. That cat has gotten decidedly rotund since we adopted her. I'd worry, but she can still leap 3 feet in the air, flipping over sideways as she flies in pursuit of the elusive feather wand. When she's stretched out full length her tummy is clearly globular, accented by dainty little paws. When Talli stretches out he's just all leg and spine and a whole lot of hair. He is legs-and-fur, she is belly-and-fur. She can still out-leap him though, bouncing from floor to couch to chair and back again like a miniature hornless mountain goat, even without a feather to chase.