Monthly Archives: July 2012

Kitty lasers!

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I’m yet again a bit at loose ends mentally, I can’t seem to focus for long. So here’s the boys playing in their newest toy – a giant box. I don’t know what magical properties this box has that makes the guy’s eyes light up so – unless pure kitty joy is now somehow able to be caught on ‘film.’

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An attempt at artsy photography.

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The other day, I picked up two pair of my shoes from where I had randomly left them after removing them from my feet. I put them on the stairs so I could take them up and put them away the next time I needed to go up. Cuz I’m lazy like that.

One fell and landed rather appealingly inside another. I was a little drunk, probably, and thought the scene looked sorta cool, so I went and got my iPhone to try some Hipstamatic pics.

Actually I know I was a little drunk because I couldn’t remember my favourite settings of lens, film, flash – and I’ve never bothered to save the groupings like best. Because I’m also lazy like that. So I tried this:

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And that wasn’t right because I hate the stupid date-stamp. Maybe it’s cute if you were born in 1990, but 1982 is a year that I remember and it didn’t look like that.
So I tried this:

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This is the one iDJ likes. But no, it wasn’t exactly what I was going for. So I tried again with a third group of settings…

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…and apparently I had been standing there playing with camera settings too long, because I got photobomed by Lokii.

Raised beds made from Chinese shipping pallets

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Ever try to type with a Siamese perched on the back of your neck? It’s a challenge. So much so that it took me three tries to type ‘with’ just then. Lokii’s in Super-Love-Me-Mode, despite being held and cuddled and snorgled to the point that I had to pick hair out of my mouth.

It’s just never enough with these guys, sometimes. Oh, what a hardship.

But, I wanted to talk about my new raised beds, or big planters, or whatever the hell they are, so I’ll just hunch over a little more and ignore the claws that occasionally dig in to my back.

iDJ works at a company that gets products in from overseas. Sometimes they come in really useful boxes. We currently use a former shipping crate as a coal/briquette bunker, for instance. I stained it mahogany to match the door to our shed and our garden bench. It’s a bit rotten now, but still more ecofriendly than some ugly plastic yoke. And we can always burn it for heat when it totally collapses, of course.

Anyhoo, lately he got it into his head that some of these crates would make good raised beds. He talked about the idea for a few weeks, a lot, as he is wont to do (oh iPad, you just let me down, trying to put an apostrophe in wont). One day I came home from work and found this:

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Three. Three! huge crates in my back garden. And not a lot of room for even one. Two are deep and match, and one is shallower. Where was I meant to put them? What was I meant to do? And how the hell did he get them home when he rides a bicycle to work and I have the car? Which even if he’d somehow spirited it away from my job and back again before I noticed, is a freakin’ Mini Cooper that is barely larger than one of these things?

Right, so – smile and nod, and leave them there to kill the grass for a few weeks while I figure it out. The usual! He gets the ideas, but I’m the handy-man around here. And I wasn’t ready for an invasion of timber.

Ah, worse – possibly chemically-treated timber. Nasty chems to kill any potentially imported insects. I heard about a slug as long as your arm that showed up in his warehouse. And I’ve seen pics of some dammed big spiders, too. Not that I mind them, of course – but big slugs can just DIE. The chemicals were a potential problem. We wanted to (iDJ wanted me to, that is) grow carrots, in particular, in one of the deep boxes. Would we be at risk of poisoning ourselves? The consensus was that a few weeks in the rain would wash most of it away. And lawd knows, we have enough rain around here.

Last weekend I finally had my plan, and a donated roll of the stuff you line planters with. So we set about measuring, cutting, and stapling liners into two of the three boxes. The third box is now holding the many, many bags of coal that have been slumped at the side of the house since winter.

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Half-way done with the second one. By then my back was screaming and I finally had this brainstorm; ‘Hey, we should stop and take pictures! So I can go sit down for a few!’

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All done! But now we needed dirt, and a lot of it. This is the shallower box and it got the remainder of what I dug out of the compost bin, along with some native soil picked clean of most rocks, and then a topping of two different store-bought bagged potting composts.

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Shallow box; named box 1 in my head, full of pretty, pristine soil!

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The Stupid Girl box, so named in my head because of my thinking about this post by Sledpress the whole time I slowly, not-back-breakingly, dumped in 3.5 bags of compacted potting soil and broke it up by hand. I love fresh clean slug-free soil without rocks. It’s fun to play in, and smells good, and I know there’s no accidental seeds like in my own compost, or bits of glass, plastic, mould, and huge chunks of wood like in one of the store-bought brands we purchased recently – oh yes, they are getting a nasty email very soon.

So! What to plant, when summer here is nearly over?

Sorry, everyone…

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My brain is even more all-over-the-shop than usual… I am so behind on reading everyone else’s blogs and even responding to my own comments. Hoping to get my shit together sometime soonish. I feel…discombobulated.

And again I’m dead impressed that my iPad knows a word like discombobulated. It is smarter than most humans I deal with on a daily basis… Like the TWO people last week who tried to email me. While on the phone with them I said that I needed something in writing; in an email, and I heard, ‘ok, so… http://www.blahblah…’ NO!!! HOW DO YOU NOT KNOW THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A WEBSITE AND EMAIL IN 2012?!?!

Maybe I’m just too work-stressed…

New Beer!

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Here’s a really new beer! Not just new to me, but new new new – not sure if you have it in the States yet!

Guinness Black Lager? Why, what, how?

To me, it tastes like a home-brewed stout. Not as heavy as a bottled, carbonated, stout made by a big company, say, like Diageo. Not much head, and not much bitter after taste like a true stout, either. It was very smooth, and one definitely tasted like having another. If we’d had more than four on hand, it might have been a hard morning the next day!

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Pretty. Even the packaging looks frosty cold and ready to drink.

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See, not a stout’s creamy head at all. I’d have it again, when I’m off my low-carb diet again. It’s still pretty decent for you compared to most lager with 11 carbs and 135 calories a bottle, even if a bit mild in strength if you’re a good alky like me: 4.5 percent. A little stronger than Guinness stout, which the net tells me is 125 calories and 10 carbs but only 4%.

Try it if you can!

What Did I do to Deserve This?!?

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Ah, Sunday. I’m out back, reading and slowly doing garden stuff. Slowly so I don’t hurt myself again like I did yesterday. I’m in shorts and a tank top – ‘vest’ for my UK and Irish friends – and I’m freezing.

Why?
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Because I have this behind me,

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And this to my right,

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And this to my left,

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But I have this directly overhead and in front of me, blocking my precious sunshine.

I musta done something terrible to piss off the weather-gods today…

A Little bit of Button

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Babies are hard to draw! They are missing all the wrinkles and lines that us auld folk have, and so a picture can only be a few simple lines that gives the faintest suggestion of who they are. Maybe that’s on purpose – at just a few weeks old, a baby is not yet who it will be.

Another reason to be proud of our lines; they tell a story of personality and experience. There are our crooked smiles, our frowns. A lifetime of physical efforts writ upon our faces, our hands, and even our knees.

Or maybe I’m just making excuses for why I haven’t put up any drawings of Button yet! I’ve been working on one for a while. I wanted to do something that just wasn’t working. The joy of digital art is that I can save and share what I have now, and play with it again at any time. Just in case I figure out how to do what I see in my head, of course.

So, this is, indeed, simple. Just a few lines and a little shading. Socks took a photo when her Super Lady was just a few days old, and I loved it so much I had to create something from it.

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Sorry about the HUGE watermark. I get a lot of Google Image searches and I don’t like the idea that my work is being stolen. If you really like this, I’d be glad to email a copy without the watermark.

And of course, Socks will get an extra-special version 🙂

Endless shades of Grey

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This is too good not to share with you all:

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If you get the reference, you’ll know why this is so very perfect! This is even more special to me because it was designed by my friend CanuckHound for the greyhound rescue she volunteers for here in Ireland, H.U.G.

Greys are treated terribly around the world, and Ireland has more than it’s share of unwanted greyhounds. Believe me, these dogs are just big, elegant cats. Sleep 99% of the time, run around like a crazy thing for a few minutes, and back to sleep again. Quiet, not big shedders, the worst you can say about a grey is that their teeth need a lot of maintenance and they need big, floofy pillows (or your couch!) to sleep on.

If ever a rescue dog is an option for you, please consider a retired or unwanted (sometimes they never have raced) greyhound!

And if you love the advertisement as much as I do, please share! H.U.G. will even email you a copy.

Spinal flux, Irish BBQ, and the Fourth from a distance

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Happy Fourth! I’m sitting outside, gagging on the smell of citronella-torch smoke, wiping rain off my iPad screen, but certainly enjoying the occasional wafts of heavenly scent coming from our Weber grill.

I’m beginning to wonder if I should have imported my husband to America, instead of exporting myself to Ireland. He goes craaazeee for American holidays. We don’t have a big US flag, just a tiny one onna stick, but we do have two flag bandannas. One of which is hanging in our front window:

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With, of course, Neko the American Akita standing guard under it.

The Fourth wouldn’t be complete without a barbecue. We are back on the low-carb diet (not because of the scale, but because our clothes weren’t fitting any more – been off the diet since April, whoops) so tonight is a meat-feast. Craft butcher sausages from our local butcher, ribs from him also, and best of all, beer-butt chicken. Here’s the scene before cooking:

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Chicken is rubbed inside and out with butter, olive oil, lemon, and my mixture of spices from our garden: sage, thyme, garlic, basil and oregano. And, of course, there’s a can of beer shoved up it’s arse. Or what used to be its arse… Oh and the tuna-can has wood chips in, for smoking. Nom!

We’ve never made the chicken before. Never had a grill big enough until he came home one day with his much-lusted-after Weber. I can’t wait to try it! It takes a while, and hubby made a huge mess during prep. Better be worth it…

So… We both took the day off today, because today happened to be the day I got to talk to someone about the results of my MRI. Finally. Been ages since this journey into WTF is wrong with my back started.

And as it turns out, not very much. I do have one disc that is dried up and cracked and so is squishing out through the crack and bulging a bit. To the right. My nerve issues are nearly all on my left side. Doc couldn’t see any reason that the bulge on the right would be pressing on a nerve on the left. So, surgery was 100% ruled out. Nothing to operate on. He did offer what I had been told were ‘shots’ but actually is an epidural. I agreed, even though I have no idea what they might be pumping into my spinal fluid, and it probably won’t help. If it does, then they know a nerve is indeed being squarshed and that’s a valuable bit of knowledge, to me. Because if the nerve isn’t being pinched at the spine, just what the hell is the issue? Cuz my leg burrrns. Or aches like it is bruised, or itches in a way that can’t be scratched.

But I can live with the leg being wonky. I can’t live with this backache. I can’t do anything! I’m only 40, not too chubby, and like doing things with my hands. When I can’t even do the things I have to do, like the damn dishes, without needing to go sit down for a while, what chance do I have for doing fun things like vacuuming the car? And YES, dammit, that is fun, sort of – I love me a clean car, and I’m in the bitch more than anyone else these days.

Oooooh the sun just came out! I can taste it! Seriously, I can open my mouth and feel the sun on my tongue and oh, I need the sunshine. My current music (hubby testing songs for tomorrow’s radio show, with a USA theme, surprised?) is The Pogues, The Body of an American – “I’m a free-born man of the USA” first heard by me on The Wire. Apparently it’s a wake song; if so – play it for me when I go, please?

Back to the back. Needle in 4-6 weeks, and probably another day off of work. Be interesting to see what result, if any, I get. In the meantime they said my issue appears to be muscular. My lower spine has very little curve to it. Doc said this is because the muscles are supposed to pull tight and make the curve, but mine are weak and haven’t been doing the job. I asked about any options to strengthen the muscles that might be provided by the HSE – none. So Pilates on my iPad it is then, I guess. I can’t afford classes with someone to show me how to do it right – even though I have never done regulated exercises and I doubt I do them right. Only time I ever tried anything close was the Haidong Kumdo and that is what really, really fucked my back up! Even with an instructor. Imagine what I can do to myself, by myself!

Right, just had a looong pause while taking the chicken off the grill. I love crispy skin – the only fatty thing I eat and like – only if crispy! Had to run in and peel the chook, because if you leave the skin on the bird it goes soggy. I have to say the crispness is a bit lacking, so I scraped off the oooky fatty bits and we’ll put the skin back on the grill for a bit, because the ribs and sausages aren’t quite done yet. Last photo before I went inside:

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Had a little taste of the chicken. WOW. Oh yeah, baby.

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Nothing in there for dogs, sorry Neko!