Friday, March 30, 2012

Nude Legs: The Practical and Feminist Views

Let me be up front with you about a topic many don't discuss: leg shaving. I will never shave my legs again if I can help it (unless I really want the feel of smooth legs again sometime, but it's not likely I'll ever want it that badly).

First, apologies to my mom. She tried so hard to make me a lady, and here I am, all hairy legged and burping at the table with my sisters. Love ya, Mom!

My sister's friend asked one day why I don't shave. My short response was that it's too time-consuming and sexist for me to bother with. Here's the long answer, in two parts.

Practical Reasons

I have always been really bad at shaving. My shins and knees are so angular that I have myriad scars from various careless experiences. Last time I shaved, I ended up with a scar two inches long. I'm not a fan of risking injury like that on a daily basis.

Because I'm so terrible at shaving, it takes me twenty minutes or more to make the whole of my legs naked. I'd rather be reading. Or writing. Or... you know, pretty much anything. Spending twenty minutes on something just to end up with bloody legs (and the inevitable patches of hair that I missed) does not sound like my idea of a good time.

Razors are also an expensive thing. When you have long legs that you don't shave often, razors get blunted pretty quickly, and I don't care to spend $20 a month to make my legs smooth when I don't even show them off most days. Often, I'm dressed weird enough that people wouldn't notice my legs anway.

Okay, so that was for a costume party. But you get the idea. Spousal Unit looks at my legs, and anyone else who might catch a glimpse of their hairy wonder? Don't care what they think. Let 'em stare and whisper.

Which brings me to my last point: this is the guy I married. He doesn't care if I don't shave. I am lucky.

Feminist Reasons

From what I can gather, shaving mainly came about when American clothing styles got skimpier. For some reason, we decided to be embarrassed about all the completely natural hair on our bodies (maybe because advertisers made us more self-aware, as they've been doing for far too long now).

I've never been a fan of doing something just because someone else tells me I should. For me, there are no good, practical reasons to shave on a daily (or even weekly) basis, so I'm not going to do it. The status quo can shove it. Beauty standards are something I've never adhered to, and I don't care to. We live in a society that has started using negative sizing (triple zero jeans exist!) and believes that the more disproportionate and unnatural you look, the more beautiful you are.

Men are allowed to grow hair wherever they want; why shouldn't we? Of course, I don't want to overlook the fact that men are often required to have "neatly trimmed" facial hair at work if they wear beards. But the fact is, they can grow beards if they want, and no one says a thing about it. Woman with hairy legs? Ew, get out of the way.

There's some ridiculous, unstated notion that if you don't shave your legs, you're less feminine. Why? And if you're less feminine, are you more masculine, or just sexless? I still have all the right parts; shaving does not miraculously make me a feminine Wunderkind.

That said, you don't have to not shave to be a feminist, as some people are wont to think. I was a feminist long before I completely gave up on my leg hair. You want to have smooth legs? Go for it. I think so long as you're not doing it because someone else says you ought to, you're totally in the clear. Just remember the following question: Do I think this is beautiful, or does someone else? It's hard to distinguish sometimes, but it's a question worth asking.

Screw advertising. Screw beauty standards. Every woman creates her own kind of beautiful.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

My Favorite Zeppelin

I've deliberated long and hard over what my favorite Led Zeppelin song is, and I think I've at least reached a conclusion: I love Kashmir.

I love the orchestration, first and foremost. There is a sense of going places, merely through the repeated progression of notes in the strings, ascending until the end of a verse, where the full orchestra comes in and notes descend together.

Robert Plant's vocals are, of course, another key element of the song and, along with them, the lyrics. always has some hilarious interpretations posted by random people on the interwebs, and Kashmir is no exception; everyone on the site is arguing whether this song is about Africa or Tolkien, and also whether P. Diddy wrote it. (It's about the desert, and P. Diddy raps over the orchestration in his song Come With Me. Sorry, elf fans and crazy people.)

Anyways, the lyrics vie with the orchestration for the most beautiful part of the song. I think they're poetry:

Oh, pilot of the storm who leaves no trace, like thoughts inside a dream
Heed the path that led me to that place, yellow desert stream
My Shangri-La beneath the summer moon, I will return again
Sure as the dust that floats high in June, when movin' through Kashmir.

In a discussion of best Zeppelin songs, there are many to be mentioned. Stairway to Heaven, Heartbreaker, and When the Levee Breaks are usually in the discussion. (Though when I asked Spousal Unit his favorite, he said, "Trick question. Led Zeppelin's music library is all one song." It could well be; this is akin to picking top Beatles songs.) This top ten list puts When the Levee Breaks first, and then forgets to add number 10. Another list also puts When the Levee Breaks at the top, while Kashmir ranks fourth, behind Stairway.

My true favorite may change over time, but for now, I view Kashmir as their most well-rounded tune - lyrically, musically, and in the emotion behind it, too.

And to close, another of my favorite zeppelin moments.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Myriad Letters, and a Few Reactions

One of my favorite new sites is Dear Blank Please Blank. It allows people to fill in the blanks, writing short, hilarious/serious letters to various people, things, or places. For example:

I can totally relate to the person who posted this. My sister will still hoist the cat into the air - no prompting whatsoever - and start singing The Lion King's opening theme, while poor Cinnamon looks down on his kingdom, ears splayed back and terrified of his sudden removal from the ground. (In some ways, I think he's gotten used to her doing this and is just thinking, Really? Again? You just did this five minutes ago.)

Other favorites of mine are Twilight commentary.

Some posts are trying so hard to be funny that they're just offensive.

I have several responses I'd like to post in regard to this last one. Such as...

Dear boys who post sexist things on the Internet,

Please shut up. Your attempts to set women's rights back fifty years are not funny. I'd say maybe you should be in government instead, with all the other idiots, but they don't need the help.

Sincerely, someone intelligent

Or how about...

Dear boy,

You're making a bad name for your sex. Let the real men through.

Sincerely, a real woman

Unfortunately, people who post that kind of thing usually have listening issues too. 

Monday, March 26, 2012

Dichotomy of Sunsets

Sometimes I'm amazed that two different pictures can be from the same sunset.

These were taken at the same place, less than five minutes apart. But the sun's color and the position of the clouds make them seem like entirely different things. The top one still speaks of daylight - when the sun is still that shade, you know you have time to accomplish something yet. The day isn't over, and the clouds are reassuring bubbles.

But in the second one, the sun's changing color is a harbinger of evening. It's the color of ducks coming in for the evening, and packing up the picnic until another day has come. The clouds have darkened, and seem to bring a taste of evening with them. They're no longer fluffy and optimistic; they're a shadowy blanket, advancing a little at a time on the brightness that was day.

In that way, you can almost have two sunsets at once.

Friday, March 23, 2012

A Letter to the Internets


Dear Internet,

I'm really tired of you playing hard to get.

You've gotten predictable that way. In the mornings, you're like, "Yeah, I'm for realz here for u!" and then in the evening, your tune has changed to, "Well, I dunno."

At least learn some grammar if you're going to start hating on me. I will not hesitate to bitch-slap you with a dictionary. The Oxford English Dictionary. All 20 volumes.

I don't know what to do with you anymore. Yes, I'm still interested in pursuing this. But every time you get flaky on me, you start talking about "commitment" and "contracts" and "installation fees." Hell, commitment is expensive. You think I want that?

Your little game of cat and laser pointer has gotten old. I know what you're trying to do: you want me to finally admit how much I need you and give in to my anger. You want me to turn to the Dark Side and hope I'll sign my life away to you, resulting in long-term indebtedness, relinquishment of our first born, and the implosion of my home planet.

Okay, maybe it wouldn't be that bad. But we're talking about commitment, here. Scary stuff.

Maybe I'd be less afraid of committing if I knew you weren't going to turn and run at the first sign of construction equipment outside, or at the first sign of absolutely nothing at all. Plus, I'm not all that interested in the way your little signal tower is always flashing anyone in the room.

You could at least keep it in your pants.

Your potential "hook-up,"

P.S. If I had cats, they probably wouldn't like you either.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Cute 'Splosion

Brace yourself: it's time for cute. If you're not interested in cute, too bad. It is HERE.

cute animals - Just a Peck 

These owlets look like a mini circus. The one in the middle just accidentally walked into the left guy's beak and is like O HAI I IZ WALKIN HEER. The guy on the right is the one who is secretly evil and plotting their demise, but it's only because he was neglected as a child. Daily Squee (a division of I Can Haz Cheezburger) is full of delightful nonsense like this.

Speaking of I Can Haz Cheezburger...

funny dog pictures - I Has A Hotdog: Enerjee Dipleetid

Cake Wrecks has several posts devoted exclusively to cute cakes. This panda is still one of my favorites.

Cake Wrecks

They have more cute stuff here, and here, and here.

Korknisse are my new favorite knitted/crocheted thing.


They are little gnomes made from wine corks, an excellent Christmas decoration or an everyday surprise. The photo above came PieKnits, which features a little story about these two adorable creations.

Last but not least...

Baby sloths takin' a bath! Their little noises will make you melt.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Mission Impossible: Teapot Edition

Spousal Unit and I are getting antsy about choosing and buying a teapot, so we at last have a savings plan underway. This will be part of goal #11 for me: getting a tea set. The pots we're interested in are rather expensive, so if I only get the pot before my birthday, I'll count that as a goal accomplished, as it's the larger part anyway.

Our plan goes like this: when we save money on something (such as the $10 we saved on groceries last week via coupons), it will go into our savings jar for the teapot. We will not, of course, count up every penny saved, but when it's a significant amount, the cash (or a piece of paper with a number on it) will go into the jar.

By itself, that may save enough for a teapot in a few months - I'm pretty frugal. But as I mentioned, we're really eager for this. So we've added another stipulation: we'll add $5 to the jar for each person when friends or family come to visit us.

Considering that Spousal Unit's family is coming this week, mine is coming next, and a friend is visiting the week after that, I think we'll reach our goal pretty quickly.

I suppose we could just go out and buy the teapot, and then be thrifty in the coming months to compensate. But this method accomplishes several things: we're working up excitement, we'll feel more accomplished in the end, and it gives us time to argue over which designs we prefer.

We see eye-to-eye on so many important things: politics, what makes a marriage work, and cheese improving every meal. But ask us to pick out a movie together or hang something in that blank space on the wall, and we accomplish nothing.

I think that's how it will be with this teapot, so we'll need all the time we can get to agree on one.

A couple of weeks ago, we examined some designs and privately picked our favorites; none of them matched. (We know we want cast iron, so that helps.) Spousal Unit liked the teapot with the elephants.

I liked the one with the monkey (of course).

While Spousal Unit's idea holds more water (literally), I like the symbology of my idea better. Monkeys represent quick wit, energy, and creative genius; elephants represent might, kindness, wisdom, and patience. (Okay, so maybe the symbolism of the elephant is better for a tea party, but the monkey appeals to my writing side.)

Other ideas include the imperial dragon (power, strength, good fortune, happiness, immortality)...

...and the stars and mountains (dreams, imagination, steadfastness).

Whatever we end up choosing, it will take a while to decide. In the meantime, I'll ponder while drinking tea from a coffee mug with a guitar-playing cow.

It tastes delicious just the same.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Release the Quackin'

Technically, it is at last spring. The last week or so has felt like a fast forward to July, but at least the mornings still have a little bite and the grass is dewy. One or two trees outside are budding, confused by the odd winter and odder rush of heat that came after. The lakes have melted; ducks and robins aplenty are pooping happily all over the parks again.

And, with the sun setting later in the day, I can take glorious sunset pictures again.

One week ago today, I planted an amaryllis bulb my brother-in-law gave me for Christmas. It's already in full bloom, with two more buds waiting to be unleashed.

Fall and winter are always in competition for my favorite season. Usually, fall wins out, but spring is so invigorating that I always reconsider it on arrival. (It eventually loses out because of bugs and impending heat.) This is our first full spring back in the Midwest, and part of me is surprised at all the green appearing, almost as if I didn't expect anything to turn green.

Around this time, when the air turns blustery, I think of a favorite poem: Days That the Wind Takes Over, by Karla Kuskin.

Days that the wind takes over
Blowing through the gardens
Blowing birds out of the street trees
Blowing cats around corners
Blowing my hair out
Blowing my heart apart
Blowing high in my head
Like the sea sound caught in a shell.
One child put her thin arms around the wind
And they went off together.
Later the wind came back

P.S. I am not ashamed of my pun in the title of this post. I'm proud of it, even.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Crossing the Big Puddle

Next year, Spousal Unit and I - along with a big group of family - are hopefully going to Germany. The stipulation here is, of course, being able to save enough money to go. But I'm already daydreaming of going back to the place I visited ten years ago with a student exchange group.

I want to take Spousal Unit to Königsee, a lake as blue as the Carribean, but in the midst of mountains. The lake is such a vibrant blue-green because of mineral runoff from the mountains, and St. Bartholomew's Chapel is an unusual but delightful beauty in this little niche, too.

Mere minutes away is the Eagle's Nest, which was Nazi headquarters during World War II and Hitler's home. Now, it's a cafe, serving hot chocolate and a beautiful view to tourists. When I was there in high school, I had fun bounding all over the mountain like a hyperactive teenage goat.

There are also tours of the former bunker underground, with an extensive elevator trip to get there. (I do have my own pictures of these places from back in the day, but they're from before I went digital. Someday I'll scan them and share them with you.)

Spousal Unit wants to go to Paris with me, where he lived for a semester in college. We both want to go to the Louvre, of course, and Spousal Unit wants to drag me around Luxembourg Palace. He told me he spent half a day walking around the gardens alone - and he didn't see all of them, let alone the interior of the palace. Unlike many, I really enjoy paying the little extra for a guided tour, because you learn so much more about a place than you would otherwise.

We both want to visit Norway too, for the sake of our heritage (mine biological, his marital). I have no idea yet where we'd go, but I have a few friends who've spent time there who can give suggestions, such as the fjords.

How much can we see in two weeks? I'm excited to find out - and we don't even know if we're going yet.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Books I Don't Want: Of Pirates and Pears

I'm here to talk to you about a serious threat to men everywhere: pirate romances.

Clearly, someone who went from vikings to pirates for her romance ideas only has worse things in store for men everywhere. Maybe it's the eyepatch that's speaking to me here, but it seems Connie Mason is only waiting for it to become a trend in the bedroom. Then she'll use pirate/viking magic to give them a reason for needing the eyepatch all the time.

Also, pirates and vikings? Pretty much the same thing.

Alright, so far as we can see, this guy doesn't have an eyepatch. But what the heck are these two doing on the same ship? The Pirate and the Puritan? That's really the best Howe had in her arsenal: a pirate named El Diablo who is "notoriously sexy"? Sorry, if that was his only pirating skill, I have a feeling he'd be dead. And why is she wearing a tablecloth?

Now, ladies and gents, may I present...

...Fabio. Yes, that Fabio. Who wrote three books with the same title. Though apparently, rogues wear more clothing than either vikings or pirates. Must be out of concern for their sterling reputations. The pirate version of Fabio, we can see, does not need a sword, unlike the others. Rippling abs are the only weapons he needs; his astoundingly massive pecs help to hypnotize his victims into surrender. The viking's armbands are there to keep his biceps from exploding. Seriously, it just looks like he took an air pump to them and they might pop at a needle's touch.

The pirate's huge belt buckle says all we need to know about the rest of him. (Hint: it's another version of having a really big truck.)

And last but not least... The Pirate Bride.

Yes, men everywhere beware. No man could hold her... because she would rather shoot him first. The title has me a bit confused too - is she being wed to a pirate, or is she the pirate? Regardless, who the hell wears a corset on a pirate ship? You know the second you climb on board that you'll need to run or climb or do something... um, strenuous... at some point in the voyage. Let this be a lesson, ladies: if you're going pirating, leave the corset at home.

I'd like to direct you now to this lady's necklace, and everything above it. Have you ever seen anything more terribly photoshopped in your life? So much bronzer! So many unnatural angles! But I forgot: we haven't been going for the "natural" look in at least 50 years.

"Natural" is the new magic, unfortunately: nonexistent, according to advertizers.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Looking for Beauty in a Word

I'm really missing my books lately, especially the poetry ones. Hopefully we'll be reunited soon, but in the meantime, I plan to find some of the poets I don't have yet. Reading more poetry is, believe it or not, a step in working on my novel, to make my prose more lyrical. (All of these poets and more can be found on the Poetry Foundation's website.)

Robert Hass is one of these. He's known as a poetry translator, along with writing his own poems. If you think poetry translation is just a matter of knowing another language, think again. When a word can have several different meanings, how do you choose which one is just right? How do you keep the feel of a poem when it translates with such different sounds? It's a difficult thing, which Hass does well. Several years ago, I went to a reading of his in Chicago, and he was delightful. I'm not looking for a specific book of his; anything will do.

Another poet I'm seeking is W.S. Merwin, author of The Shadow of Spring, which won a Pulitzer in 2009.

A bit from his poem "A Purgatory":

"...once more the eye
reveals the empty river
feathers on all the paths
the despairing fields
the house in which every word
faces a wall...

...and the eye must burn again and again
through each of its lost moments
until it sees"

I love Merwin's simple beauty - the way he takes a single moment and stretches it into many by describing things so vividly, so thoroughly, that the reader can taste them. He, like Hass, is also a poetry translator, but Merwin is better known for his original works.

Wisława Szymborska, a Polish poet who just passed away recently, wrote poems with irony and an air of question in them - questioning whether we actually know what we know. In the poem Dreams, the narrator says those who write dream interpretations don't actually know anything - but sometimes they're right anyway. She won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1996, and I think she was pretty adorable, even in her later years.

File:Wislawa Szymborska Cracow Poland October23 2009 Fot Mariusz Kubik 01.jpg

I'm also seeking Hafez (or Hafiz, depending on who's translating). He's a Persian poet from the 14th century, and I only know one line of his: "Ever since happiness heard your name, it has been running through the streets trying to find you." I have a recent interest in Middle Eastern poetry in general - though much is lost through translation, well-translated poems can really convey the beauty of a language, and I heard somewhere that Persian and Arabic poetry are the most beautiful ever. That's an experiment I want to undertake. As well as I can, anyway. I have no plans to learn a new language anytime soon.

Monday, March 12, 2012

And Then I Ran Screaming From the Store. I Wish.

This customer I'm about to describe to you was real. (Presumably, she's still real, but no longer a customer.) I have not made any of this up. As my friend Nan says, "You can't make this shit up."

At the bookstore yesterday, we had an event, during which we turned off the store music and spoke quietly so as not to interrupt or disturb the authors as they spoke. Some people are just oblivious to these clues; this customer was one of them. I dub her Oblivia.

She wasn't shouting, but she definitely spoke much louder than most people I know, and she was one of those who just liked to talk.

Sometimes, customers don't like to ask for suggestions, for whatever reason. Instead, they just start telling you everything about themselves, and everything they've ever read, hoping you'll pick up on the clues with your incredible mind-reading abilities. Sometimes it works, but customers, please understand: we are not psychics. Most of us don't even want to be, which is why we're at a bookstore and not Lady Moondancer's Fortune Funhouse.

So. Oblivia started telling me all the genres she's ever read. The first ones were mystery and history, so I handed her a book that combined both: The Devil in the White City, by Erik Larson. (Mostly, I was hoping a book in her hand would make her be quieter, but that didn't really work. I should have stuffed it in her mouth.)

I told her the title and she kind of gaped at me. "This book is about the devil?" she asked, shocked that such a book would exist, and that I would hand it to her.

No, I explained, this book is about the 1893 Chicago World's Fair and a serial killer who claimed many victims there.

"Chicago? You mean, Chicago Chicago?"

At about this point, I started saying many things in my head that I would never, ever say outloud to a complete stranger. Things like, No, I mean Chicago, California. This is the Midwest; what Chicago do you think I mean?

She asked me to write down the book for her, since she wouldn't have money till tomorrow. I offered to put the book on hold, and she said no, just write it down. In the indie book world, that translates to I'm not going to support your store; I plan to buy this book from the Evil Empire in the hopes of putting you out of business. Great.

After Oblivia had looked at the book for a while, she pulled me away from my work to say, "I can't believe there were serial killers back then!"

Wow. You're something special, aren't you? "Yep," I replied. "Murder has pretty much existed since humans have."

"Well," Oblivia responded, "I hate that stuff. I'm a Christian."

Atheists hate murder, too, I desperately wanted to say. So do Wiccans and the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster.

She continued. "But I guess murder's been going on since Adam and Eve. I hate crime. You know, I'm a tourist from California, and I was going to go to Oregon, but then I heard they had a murder there. That occult group murdered someone! I was so sad to see that group is here, too."

Huh? Occult group?

"The occult group," she further described. "The one with all the tents set up."

I skipped over the part where she seemed to think Oregon had only ever had one murder. My eyes widened. I kind of wanted a big slab of concrete to bang my head against. "You mean... Occupy Madison?"

"Yeah! That's the one," she said.

So. Oblivia is wandering around, thinking the Occupy movement - the one focused on equality and the radical notion that the rich should pay taxes - has something to do with magic and godlessness. She thinks that they're single-handedly responsible - the entire Occupy movement - for one murder in Oregon.

People like that make me think I work in a psych ward rather than a bookstore.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Indiana Shoe and the Last Nerve

I hate shoe shopping.

In that, I'm rather unlike many of my friends. I don't care to have a lot of cute shoes, so long as they don't make me want to die when I wear them. I hate having to go out into the wild world of department stores and boxes of misery and people trying to clothe their feet (which are the second worst thing; armpits are the first).

But sometimes it's a necessity. All I need is a good pair of walking shoes, so I can get to work without totally destroying my back. Here's what I found instead yesterday.

Kohl's (slogan: now that's more like shit) is a nightmare to shop. I had to work for them in college; why would I have thought otherwise? Yes, sometimes they have good sales. But is it worth trading your eternal soul for? Their aisles are a claustrophobic nightmare, like walking into a cave that gets deeper and darker, and who knows if you'll ever see the light of day again, and here comes a giant Indiana-Jones boulder, so your only choice is to run away as fast as you can so the other customer can push through with that obnoxious cart.

I may or may not have seen bats. (And by that, I mean I didn't, but it wouldn't have surprised me.)

They don't even have a section labeled "women's walking shoes." Instead, they have running and toning. What the ungodly hell are toning shoes, you might ask? They're designed to make you feel like you're on stilts rather than shoes, with a peg of some sort poking up into your heel. Also, they work specific muscle groups while you wear them. Doesn't walking give you enough exercise? I just want to get to work, with a reasonably small amount of death in my back.

I was terribly confused by this, already itching to leave, and hadn't even found the women's walking shoes yet. Here's what I found in the men's section:
  • Running
  • Trail running
  • Basketball (Thanks for making me think of armpits, guys.)
  • Fashion athletic
  • Athletic sandals. (Get over yourselves; they're effing sandals.)
I understand the common but idiotic perception that men exercise more than women do, and should therefore receive more attention in the athletic department. But do they really need a specific section for trail running shoes rather than women's walking shoes?

By the time I found them (against the wall, unlabeled, and only two pairs in my gargantuan size that weren't Nikes, which I refuse to buy), I was ready to strangle someone.

And then I did.

Just kidding. I left instead. And went to two more stores, one of which asked me if there was a difference between walking and running shoes (that was Dick's). The other had no tennis shoes at all (that was Target).

At the end of the day, I went home with nothing. My conclusion to all of this is that junkies and winos need to stop leaving needles and broken glass all over, because I just want to go barefoot.

Junkies and winos: thanks in advance for the extra effort.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

W.C. Williams Imitation

William Carlos Williams is one of my favorite poets. One writing exercise I like to do involves mimicking my favorite writers, so I wrote this poem, based on W.C.W.'s poem of the same name, which involves fewer governments and more plums.

This is Just to Say

I have disbanded
the government
of which you were
so fond

and which
you probably
not to change.

Forgive me;
it was horrible,
so rotten
and so vile.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

More Photos From the Garden

And now, more pictures from yesterday's garden post. Because I need a day to recover from all the work I did on my novel yesterday. (I love that I need that.)

Monday, March 5, 2012

Olbrich Gardens and the Lung That Wasn't

Yesterday, Spousal Unit and I visited Olbrich Botanical Gardens. They have a year-round tropical greenhouse (a.k.a. the conservatory), full of gorgeous birds and flowers.

When we first arrived,  my camera fogged up from all the warmth and moisture. The birds, a volunteer explained to us, were particularly friendly yesterday, allowing people to come much closer than usual.

Look carefully in this one for the quail's beak and eye. When Spousal Unit and I first saw them, they were darting through the undergrowth, and we thought they were kiwi birds. But no, they were quails. And I don't understand how someone could eat something that adorable.

The coolest birds were definitely the waxbills, who were working on a nest near the orchids, high up in a corner.

We sat while they flew around, building their nest, and they didn't mind our presence at all. They were so cool to watch that I had trouble getting a picture with Spousal Unit.

Obviously, there were also lots of plants in the conservatory, too. Things like the corpse flower...

...which looks like neither a corpse nor a flower. Botanists, what's up with the names?

Now this looks like a flower.

After exploring the conservatory, we ventured out into the cold, snowy grounds which make a verdant kingdom in the spring and summer.

Conversation between me and Spousal Unit:

Me: Is that a turtle? ...or a lung?
Spousal Unit: It's a leaf.
Me: It totally looks like a lung.
Spousal Unit: Why would there be a sculpture of a lung in a garden?
Me: ...
Spousal Unit: It's a leaf.

Silly Spousal Unit. We all know it's a lung.

The best part of the outdoor gardens (which are full of sculptures less confusing than the lung) was the pavillion.

All the pieces were hand-built in Thailand, shipped over, and assembled on-site by the builders. Get this: there are no nails or screws in this thing. None.

As one of my new favorite TV characters is fond of saying, I want to go to there.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Everything I Touch Gets Ruined.

I had an awesome post for you today, full of things I'm excited about lately. I wrote paragraph after paragraph, detailing the awesomeness.

Usually, this stupid site will save my progress as I go. But every now and then, the internet is a little silly (read: Class A dunce) and terrible things happen. Like I try to add a picture before I realize nothing has saved. And another window will open, which isn't really another window and blocks me from working on anything I've written thus far. So the page continues pretending to open the picture uploader, while the words I've written are barely visible on the other side, and I know I will lose all of them.

Stupid internet. Stupid Blogger.

So, rather than rewriting exactly what I just wrote (because now I am not only discouraged, but late), I will enumerate the things that make me excited, when I'm not too busy being pissed at my blog host.

1. Circle M Farm - Spousal Unit and I are getting a share of vegetables for the summer - a 2-foot box every other week, and we're paying it off by working at the farm. Animals, dirt, and handspun yarn, far away from the city. Also, maybe bacon.

2. Vegetarian Times - I made two recipes from this magazine recently: Grilled Eggplant Involtini and Golden Thai Curry with Green Beans. I love their creativity and simplicity, which still provides challenges.

3. My new haircut: a reverse bob. $9, including tip.

4. When my weekend happens (this week, it's Sunday and Monday), I get to alphabetize our movies. Get to. I love alphabetizing and organizing stuff like that. That was our last visible box to unpack - our closet is still full of cardboard, but at least things we can see are starting to come together. Hooray for that.

And here's hoping I can post this without losing the whole damn thing again.
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