Wednesday, June 30, 2004

Kick Connecticut Out of New England

There's a reason my wife, a native New Englander, considers southwestern Connecticut part of the Greater New Jerk Area (that's New York-New Jersey-Connecticut), and here's further proof that those NYC suburbanites who live in Connecticut are not part of New England: According to a Quinnipiac University poll, Connecticut baseball fans prefer the Hated Yankees to the Beloved BoSox 43%-33%. Mets fans made up 9% of the state. (Via Daily Kos)

Okay, maybe I'm being a bit harsh: A little googling finds that the since the same poll was done last year, Yankees fandom seems to be slipping in Connecticut. In 2003 (according to a 2003 Norwich Bulletin article), it was 47%-33% percent Yankees vs. Red Sox. The question is what happened to that other 4%? Did the designated hitter rule spur them to join the Mets bandwagon?

No Frickin' Idea What We're Doing ...

Even though people have been having babies since the dawn of time (how else do you explain that we're all here now), this is so freaky and exciting and terrifying and mystifying. I never ended up getting the crib the other day: Even though Evelin and though we'd decided on one, it turns out we still don't know.

Last night, we went to Babies "Я" Us to try to resolve the crib question and ended up wandering through the store looking at lots of different things (and using the little registry scanner gun, which was fun) but not buying a crib. I think Evelin was having fun, but I'm definitely feeling overwhelmed: little washcloths, bibs, sheets ... there're so many things!

In the same vein as having no idea what they're doing, what is with all the errors from the Red Sox? Considering that Lowe's sinkerball wasn't flying the way it should, the Hated Yankees may have won last night anyway, but three errors last night helped keep the Sox off their game.

Looking over the stats, only the Detroit Tigers have a worse record thus far in terms of number of errors committed thus far in the season. Detroit has 69 as of last night; Boston has 65; in the National League, the Mets and Atlanta Braves are tied at the top with 65 errors each.

Of Boston's 65 errors, ten came over the course of the past seven days, and 23 of them came since 1 June.

Along with the errors, R--- just pointed out to me that the Red Sox have given up the most unearned runs of any team in the major leagues -- 58 thus far. The next highest are Arizona with 49 and, in the American League, Kansas City with 46.

One nice moment in the Bronx last night, however: Dick Cheney received a Bronx cheer when his face appeared on the Jumbotron during the 7th inning stretch. (Via Daily Kos)

Tuesday, June 29, 2004

Sleepless Nights

I don't know if it's a matter of I'm catching a cold, worried about how we're going to deal with a baby, thinking about the BoSox being 5.5 games back as they head to the Bronx or what, but I haven't been sleeping well the past two nights.

Very early Monday morning, I snuck out of bed so as to keep my tossing from disturbing Evelin; early this morning, I stayed in bed, but was restless for quite a while. It may take some extra caffeine to keep me going today.

I stayed up a bit late last night. Normally, I would be watching the end of a Red Sox game on MLB's Gameday, but the Sox had the night off, so I was watching the Canadian election results come in. It was interesting to see the differences in The Globe and Mail and CBC riding counts, but I really liked how they would track things in terms of elected or leading in each riding on a party basis. Since U.S. Congressional elections are based around the individuals and not the parties (and because the emphasis is on the top-of-the-ticket candidates), it probably wouldn't occur to the networks to track things this way, but it might make people think more about the entire government instead of just the presidency.

Anyway, it'll be interesting to see how Paul Martin (Liberal) and Jack Layton (NDP) work things out to form a minority, and whether or not they can peel off one or more Bloc Québécois MPs to get the 155th vote they need to govern.

Monday, June 28, 2004

Paint Goes Everywhere

Okay, the guest/media room -- henceforth to be known as "the green room" -- is complete and we have a lot more room in our bedroom, the nursery (a.k.a, "the red room"), and the living room.

Friday night, after seeing Fahrenheit 9/11, I peeled off the tape, causing a few tears where the paint adhered more to the tape than the wall. It wasn't too bad, but it did mean some further touchups were needed.

Instead of focusing on the walls right away, however, I did a little touch up painting on the ceiling, which lead to the only disaster of the job. Stepping off the stool I was using to reach the ceiling, I put a foot down on the radio and took a spill -- and I was holding a half-full gallon of bright white ceiling paint. Luckily, the paint ended up on the floor and my torso and not the walls; so there was a mess, but nothing too bad.

Saturday, I scraped and sanded the baseboards, doors, and molding. A lot of old paint (and I'm sure lead dust) came off the doors: some of it in big sheets of latex. A few hours (and two coats of paint) later, the woodwork was done. After a quick touch up at the top of the wall where the tape had torn the paint the previous night, I could call the job 99% finished.

While I'd been inside, Evelin staked the rest of the tomatoes, planted some more corn, and took care of general maintenance on the garden beds.

To celebrate, Evelin I and I went out to Woodlands for some South Indian vegetarian cuisine, and we topped off the meal with some ice cream.

Sunday was fairly busy with a lot of small tasks.

First it was off to the landfill to drop off a bunch of old, half-empty paint cans the previous owners had left in the basement and/or that we had leftover from previous projects. The county has a household hazardous waste drop-off point there that's open on Sunday mornings.

Then I had to deal with the grass/ögas, which was way overdue for a cut. I also trimmed some trees, did some weeding, and tried to wrestle the pickerelweed back into a pot. (One of the two pickerelweeds had outgrown its pot and was flopping over on top of the dwarf lotus.)

After that, it was off to the zoo to watch the pandas for a few hours. I arrived early because on a nice day it can be impossible to find parking near the zoo, which gave me a chance to walk through and see things. The new Kid’s Farm is pretty cute, and construction on Asia Trail has a fairly large part of the zoo torn up. The first phase isn't due to be finished until 2006, so it's going to be a while before the main entrance to the zoo really looks like a zoo again.

I was early enough to catch the "Wings of America" presentation by the American Eagle Foundation. They basically brought out a bunch of raptors -- from owls and kestrels to hawks and eagles -- to give people a chance to see them up close and personal. After last weekend, I was really keen to see the red-tailed hawk. They actually let him fly over the audience and I was near the release point for him, which was really cool.

After the zoo, it was another stop at the hardware store for new electrical hardware. The old, beige sockets and light switch didn't work with the new paint, so I had to replace everything with white hardware and plates.

Throughout the day, between other tasks, I helped Evelin move the big pieces of furniture out of the various places we'd been storing it and back into the green room. The old iron bed came out of the red room and is now being stored in various places (the mattress is under our bed, the springs are in the basement, and the head and footboards are in my closet). The Ikea chair from early in June went up to the red room and is now in place. As soon as I finish this entry, I'm off to Babies "Я" Us to see if they have the crib we want in stock.

Saturday, June 26, 2004

Fahrenheit 9/11 and a Quick Trip to Haiti

I made it to Fahrenheit 9/11 last night. It was definitely powerful and moving, although I do think Moore overplayed his hand a little bit in the first third of the film while trying to demonize the Saudis and soft-pedaling Saddam Hussein. Despite that, it did a nice job of connecting lots of dots between various members of the Administration and how they have benefited from the War in Iraq with all sorts of side digressions including an excellent analysis of how the Bush Administration has fear of a future terrorist attack to manipulate public opinion. Plus there are a lot of moments of humor woven in amidst the abuses of power and horrors of war: Moore using an ice-cream truck to read the USA Patriot Act to members of Congress, for example.

[ADDENDUM: has a good review that outlines what Fahrenheit 9/11 does well without glossing over the places where Moore wanders from his strongest themes.]

It was a slow day (I'm long spaced between issues for the first time in a long time), so I cut out of the office around 2:00 p.m., which gave me plenty of time to get to the P&G Old Greenbelt cinema, a old independent movie theatre. A severe thunderstorm was hitting as I parked, so I had to make a dash in the rain to get a place in the very long line. I was a little worried the showing might sell out, but I was able to get in. It looked like the 5:00 showing -- which started at about 5:15 so that they could get everyone in -- didn't sell out, but the theatre was quite full; the line for the 7:30 showing was even longer than the 5:00, so it could well have sold out.

Before heading over to Greenbelt, however, I stopped at the Smithsonian Folklife Festival. This year's festival hasn't excited me as much as previous years, but since I drive by it every morning and afternoon, I still was tempted to stop.

The three cultures on display for 2004 are Nuestra Música, Mid-Atlantic Water Ways, and Haiti. As the names imply, Nuestra Música focuses on music from across Latin America and Haiti is all about Haiti. Mid-Atlantic Waterways is a little more nebulous, focusing on life along the shore, bays, sounds, and other waterways from Long Island down to the Outer Banks.

There are a few Nuestra Música performances that might be interesting, but none are calling to me like the Scottish performers from last year, and the Mid-Atlantic Water Ways are interesting, but, again, I don't feel as compelled to go as other years. (This could be due, in part, to our proximity to the area in question.)

Haiti, however, did look interesting. I originally was hoping to catch a discussion about Krèyol, but when I got to the Krik Krak tent, the schedule had changed. So I wandered around a bit and stumbled upon an interesting exhibit about the Citadelle Henry, a mountaintop fortress built to guard against French attempts to retake the country after the rebellion.

Also interesting were some of the exhibits on Vodou and the Haitian artwork, including some metal working like the screen my parents gave us for Christmas last year.

Friday, June 25, 2004

Painting, Baby, Garden

I got a second coat of paint up on the walls last night and things look pretty good this morning. Hopefully I can manage to get the tape off the walls without doing too much damage or creating the need for too much in the way of touch-up painting.

The old paint on the baseboards and other bits of trim and molding seems to have really adhered to the painters tape. I'm not sure if that’s a good thing (makes the scraping/sanding easier) or a bad thing (can't put off painting the trim).

Either way, that room should be back to livable normal by the end of the weekend, barring unforeseen complications.

It also looks like Evelin has official reached the third trimester. She's 26 weeks today, but she was so tired yesterday evening. I got home and she was already napping on the couch, and she slept almost the entire time I was painting.

From what I understand the first and third trimesters are really exhausting, and Evelin was pretty rundown during the first trimester so I can only imagine how many naps she's going to want/need between now and the first of October.

And a quick aside about the garden. We have a few shoots coming up for the corn, but nowhere near as much as we planted. Probably, squirrels found the kernels in the bed or something. I think we'll have to try planting some more this weekend.

I forgot to mention that a few weeks ago, when ripped out the last of the peas and planted the corn, we also pulled up some of our garlic. The inchelium red was looking dead above ground, which signaled it was time to pull up the cloves and to set them up for drying. I noticed yesterday that the next few rows (music and Georgian crystal, I think) are starting to wilt over, too, so we may be pulling them up this weekend.

Beyond the garden, I think this weekend will be calmer than last. The grass/ogräs needs cutting and the garden (vegetables and the flowerbeds) needs some work. Plus I have panda watch on Sunday.

The only other thing is that I am going to try to see Fahrenheit 9/11 tonight. I like Michael Moore's advocacy style of documentary filmmaking, and I'd love to see it beat White Chicks at the box office, although that's unlikely considering that Fahrenheit 9/11 is only opening on 868 screens (compared to 2,726 for White Chicks). Still if it cracks the top five, that would be impressive.

My Inner Child

My inner child is ten years old today

My inner child is ten years old!

The adult world is pretty irrelevant to me. Whether
I'm off on my bicycle (or pony) exploring, lost
in a good book, or giggling with my best
friend, I live in a world apart, one full of
adventure and wonder and other stuff adults
don't understand.

How Old is Your Inner Child?
brought to you by Quizilla

I don't know if this means I'll be better able to relate to a child as he/she goes through adolescence or if it means I'll be an instigator of trouble... (via The Yin Blog, although I'm sure I saw this quiz when Enjanerd posted it back in December, too).

Thursday, June 24, 2004

Happy Blogday to Me ...

One year ago today, I signed up with Blogger and Blog*Spot and began "Lifechanges ... Delayed."

Evelin and I were on a break from trying to conceive, and I thought the blog form would be good for me both to help get out of my head some of the things we had been going through with infertility, miscarriage, etc., and the general "stuck" feeling life was taking as we were trying unsuccessfully to have a child.

Flash forward 366 days (and 353 posts), and things are looking a bit different. Evelin is close to entering the third trimester (tomorrow will be 26 weeks) and the reality of becoming a parent is getting frighteningly tangible.

So there it is, one year later, and lifechanges are on their way ...

Why Blog?

A blogday seems like a good reason to explore why someone would blog, or at least why someone would start blogging.

I had poked around at blogs some, read some friend's blogs, and even toyed with the idea of starting one a few weeks earlier, but something about 24 June 2003 got me to stop thinking and to start typing. Maybe it was reading Anita's And Baby Makes Seven (her 24 June 2003 entry about mint and the garden got me to comment, but I don't know that that specific entry got me to start blogging). I dunno, for my BlogTree I listed Anita, Johan, and Marta as the bloggers who sparked "Lifechanges ... Delayed," so they're the ones to thank (or blame).

Other Stuff

Painting: There's more space to cover on the walls than the ceiling, but, for the most part, it's easier painting the walls. Tuesday night, we picked up two gallons of Behr Restful paint with an eggshell base, and last night I put most of the first gallon on the walls. It looks good; I think we could have gone a little darker or greener, but Evelin really likes it. Tonight I'll do a second coat (there are a few places where the paint isn't completely even), and Friday I should be able to start untaping everything and fixing the spot or two where the roller bumped the ceiling.

Nursery: Once the paint is all dry, we can move the furniture currently piled up in the nursery back into the guest/media room (I can work around that when I do the trim and molding), which means we also get to start rearranging things for the nursery. The old twin bed in that room will need to be dismantled, and probably stashed under our bed, I'll bring up the new Ikea chair from downstairs, and then we need to get a crib. And I guess I have to sand and paint the garage sale dresser.

Wednesday, June 23, 2004

Baby Owner's Manual

I haven't been reading all the pregnancy books Evelin has, largely because the entire process doesn't effect me as directly at it does her. I've skimmed most of them, but she's been reading them cover to cover.

This week, I started picking up some "your baby's first year" books. These I figure I need to read. Monday night, I went through the first six or eight weeks of Your Baby's First Year Week by Week by Glade B. Curtis and Judith Schuler and came away with a strong sense that we are doomed.

Last night, I read through most of The Baby Owner's Manual: Operating Instructions, Trouble-Shooting Tips, and Advice on First-Year Maintenance by Louis Borgenicht and Joe Borgenicht. In most cases, I don't like to succumb to male stereotypes, but the entire idea of approaching baby care the same way you approach setting up a stereo, configuring a new computer, or programming a VCR was comforting to me (and not just because I'm quite comfortable approaching such tasks without using the manual). Plus the schematics in the book are hilarious. (Amazon lets you look inside the book: It's worth a peek.)

Tuesday, June 22, 2004

Word on the Bird

I just talked to the wildlife sanctuary that took in the hawk Evelin and I caught on Sunday, and it looks like the little guy is doing well. According to the rehabilitator, the hawk is very young and very thin, and they are working to fatten him* up a bit.

Like the animal control officer who picked up the hawk, the rehabilitator said she thought the bird was a red-tailed hawk (Buteo jamaicensis), but she couldn't be 100% sure. She did say he was very young, and that he didn't know how to hunt yet.

The goal is to get him strong enough to go to a federal bird rehabilitator in Southern Maryland, where he can be taught how to hunt and, hopefully, be released back to the wild. The rehabilitator he is with now works primarily with mammals, but she said our hawk was the second fledgling raptor she had taken in this year.

*I still don't know if the hawk is male or female, I'm using "he," "him," etc., as nongendered pronouns.

Can Kangaroos Play Aussie Rules?

According to the latest (June 2004) FIFA/Coca-Cola World Rankings, the Thai national football squad is tied with the Slovak Republic national side for 61st place, but if scrimmaging against elephants is part of the typical football training regimen in Thailand, then they may break into the top 50 in no time. Or maybe not. (Via The Yin Blog.)

Joking aside, Thailand is hosting the U-19 Women's World Championship in November.

Monday, June 21, 2004

Quite a Weekend

From a bit of cooking to some travel to a raptor rescue to baby shopping (or at least pre-shopping), it was a weekend chock-full-a stuff.

Friday: Dinner and a Movie

I knocked off from work on Friday around 1 p.m. Work is slack for the first time in a couple of years right now. Part of that is because my new assistant editor has been doing a fantastic job, shoveling through a lot of copy very quickly and efficiently, and part is because we've build up a good-sized pile of overset material so there's little pressure to build up more copy at the moment, especially since we're heading into the August issue, which is usually thin because of summer holidays in Europe.

I cleaned out the gutters, which were a bit clogged around the downspouts, but mostly with leaves. There were a lot of dead cicadas up there, but not as bad as I'd feared. I also took care of three loads of laundry, finished reading When Boston Won the World Series, and took a short nap.

Evelin and I had a quiet night in. I made a fresh pasta sauce (zucchini, onion, garlic, tomato, rehydrated porcini, a bit of red wine, and herbes de Provence), and we watched 50 First Dates. The sauce/veggies turned out pretty tasty, although I think the porcini were lost among the other flavors; next time, I think I'd either skip the porcini or keep them, skip the tomatoes and use a white wine. The movie was really cute and sweet.

Saturday: Road Trip!

For about a week, I have been telling Evelin to save this weekend because I was going to surprise her with something. To tell the truth, I wasn't sure exactly what we were going to do, but it worked out.

The only thing I had planned was the Pennsylvania Lavender Festival. Last weekend, I saw a sign for the festival and knowing how much Evelin likes lavender, I figured she'd enjoy the festival. We left the house around 8:00 a.m. and were at Willow Pond Farm by 9:30 or so.

It was a nice, sunny day and not too hot, which was nice for wandering through the small lavender fields and other gardens. We also took in a short lecture about organic gardening techniques and looked through all the plants they had for sale.

After about two hours, Evelin was ready to go, but we still had a day to kill. Earlier in the morning, I'd looked through our Lonely Planet New York guidebook (Pennsylvania and New Jersey are lumped into the New York guide) and noticed the section on Johnstown.

When I was a kid, I had a book about disasters, and among the tales of Pompeii and the Hindenburg was the Johnstown Flood. We had lots of floods in Louisiana while I was growing up, but the problem was always rising water, not a torrent from a broken dam. I don't remember whether or not the Johnstown Flood concerned me too much as a kid, but I do remember reading about it.

Anyway, it looked like we were about two hours from Johnstown, and Evelin was game, so we headed off to the Flood Museum. A good part of the drive was along Route 30, the Lincoln Highway, and included some fantastic scenery.

Johnstown itself was a nice, quiet former mill town in a beautiful valley at the confluence of the Little Conemaugh and Stoney Creek rivers. Those same features -- the valley and the rivers -- were what lead to the dead of more than 2,200 people when an upriver dam broke causing the flood of 1889.

The Johnstown Flood Museum did a nice job of presenting the horror of the flood with a big diorama, artifacts, an Oscar-winning short documentary (The Johnstown Flood), and a multimedia slideshow mixing 3-D stereograph postcards with survivor's stories.

Admission to the museum included admission to the Pasquerilla Heritage Discovery Center, which gives an overview of the immigrant experience in the region (and, by extension, across the United States). It was a multimedia "experience" of a museum and some bits worked better than others, but overall I liked it. (Evelin found it too noisy and too cold.)

While driving through town, we passed along all three sides of Point Stadium (former home of the Johnstown Red Sox, a BoSox Class AA affiliate in 1961, and now home to the AAABA Johnstown Grays and the annual AAABA annual tournament), which looked like a nice little ballpark, and we thought about taking the Inclined Plane funicular railway, but the pub at the top was closed and Evelin (and the baby) needed food.

We drove around for a while looking for some place to grab a bite, but ended up at Sal’s Pizza across from the Heritage Discovery Center. It looked like a hole in the wall, but the pizza was very nice and fortified us for the drive back to D.C.

I think we will have to head back out to that part of Pennsylvania. We didn't get to see a lot of things that look pretty cool, including the Allegheny Portage Railroad NHS.

Sunday: Raptor Rescue

This is the day that turned out a bit odd. Things started off normally enough. I walked up to 7-Eleven for my morning Diet Coke and the Sunday editions of The Washington Post and The (Baltimore) Sun. I found a penny on the ground, but that's not too odd.

Evelin gave me a really cute Father's Day card she made that showed me reading to the baby via a paper towel tube. She is super crafty!

Later in the morning, Evelin ran out to the car to get the to-do list she'd worked on during the drive back from Johnstown. I was inside reading the paper and heard her calling for me to quickly come outside.

There, sitting on the fence, was a young hawk being dive-bombed by a couple of blue jays. The hawk was looking rather calm as the jays kept sweeping over him, but as I came outside, he flew off across the street.

The hawk was obviously young -- he had bits of down/fluff still on his head -- and he couldn't really fly very well. He landed in a neighbor's yard where the jays kept up their torment. As Evelin and I wondered what we should do, a cardinal and a robin joined in with the jays to harass the hawk.

I ran inside to google "raptor rescue" and to check the phonebook for animal rescue numbers. Evelin stayed outside to keep an eye on the bird. By the time I came back out, the bird had flown further down the street (entangling himself in a chain-link fence at one point) and he was standing in the gutter while Evelin stood far enough away to keep the jays from attacking.

I called the raptor rescue number I found online and wasn't able to reach anyone, so I tried animal control. They said they'd send someone out.

As Evelin and I stood around keeping an eye on the hawk (and the jays), a car turned the corner, startling the hawk and he flew into the side of a nearby house. The hawk seemed to be stunned and was hanging by one claw upside-down from a shutter on the house. Evelin ran back to our house to get a blanket, and I approached the bird, trying to see if we could catch him. When the blanket arrived, I tried to figure out how to get the bird into the blanket when he suddenly dropped into the azaleas below.

Poking through the bushes, I could see that the bird was upright and looking okay. Since the jays couldn't see him anymore, they left and we figured we should just wait until animal control arrived.

After a half hour or so, I went to check on the bird. He was still under the azaleas but I must have startled him because he flew out into the street again.

Evelin stopped a car that was coming down the street and the bird hopped up onto the sidewalk. As Evelin distracted him from the front, I came up behind the hawk with a towel (the blanket was too big, so I'd traded it for a towel) and dropped it over him. The towel helped calm the hawk and I was able to pin his wings, pick him up and carry him home to await animal control.

Sitting on the fence, the hawk had looked fairly large, but in my hands he seemed much smaller. His head and talons were wrapped in the towel, but I could feel the occasional movement, so I'm sure he was trying to figure out how to get away.

Not too long after the capture, animal control arrived and transferred the hawk from our towel to a carrier for transport to a wildlife rehabilitator. He wasn't sure, but the officer said he thought the bird was an immature red-tailed hawk (Buteo jamaicensis); he was also worried that it might have a hurt neck (which could have come from getting tangled in the fence or smacking into the house, and I hope not from my rescue attempt) and/or wing.

He did say, however, that we had gone about capturing the bird the right way, which was good to hear since the only other wild bird rescue I've been involved with was a crow with a hurt wing. The crow was much easier to catch, but we used a similar trick of covering him with a towel.

Now what a fledgling red-tailed hawk was doing in our neighborhood, we're not sure. Maybe he was blown out of a nest during the storm a few days ago and had gradually made his way to our neighborhood, or perhaps there are some hawks in the big old trees up the hill. I've never noticed any near us before, and I've only seen squirrel dreys and smaller bird nests in the trees when the oaks drop their leaves for winter.

After the excitement was over, Evelin and I headed out to the farmers market, but when I went to lock the door, the deadbolt broke. I'm not sure what happened, but my key just kept spinning and the lock wouldn't engage.

So, instead of the farmers market, I made a trip to Home Depot.

Given the age and nature of our house, however, this would be no simple matter of buy a new lock. I could have replaced just the deadbolt, but I wanted to swap out the handle lock too, but it is placed much further into the door than is standard these days. The deadbolt is about 2.5 inches from the doorjamb to the center of the lock; the handle lock is about 5 inches. Home Depot had no handle locks for such a configuration.

After running home, getting the old lock, and opening a few packages at Home Depot, I hit upon a solution. I found a handle lock with a similar mechanism and decided to use the old bolt with the new handle. It took a little doing to make it work, but we now have new locks for the front door (and, for the first time since we moved to this house, the handle lock is actually effective).

After clean up from that project was done, Evelin and I headed out to Babies "Я" Us to test-drive some car seats, strollers, and other baby gear. Evelin has been going through Baby Bargains trying to get an idea of what we need to buy and what we should register for, but we needed to touch some of these things to figure out what we liked.

This was a good idea. Among other things, it got us straightened out about strollers -- we're now planning to go for a Chicco or Combi umbrella stroller, instead of jogging stroller or a big off-roading stroller that will be difficult for Evelin to wrestle out of the trunk.

After about two hours in the store, we grabbed an early dinner at Hard Times Cafe (all of the sudden, I developed a craving for vegetarian chili, five-way, over spaghetti). It was good and filling, but I think they've slipped a bit as the chain has grown. They seem to have stopped giving you cornbread before the meal arrives, and the chili was a little less plentiful than I remember.

After a bit of time at home composing this entry (and Evelin quickly calling back a HypoBirthing teacher to see when classes start), Evelin and I were back out to enjoy the clear night sky at the University of Maryland Observatory open house.

We got there a few minutes late, but still caught most of the lecture about the Space Interferometry Mission (SIM), and we got really good looks at Jupiter and four of its moons and the double-double star Epsilon Lyr, as well as fuzzier looks at M 13 (Hercules globular cluster) and M 81 (Bode's galaxy).

Friday, June 18, 2004

Have You Cleaned Your Gutters Today? (Redux)

As I mentioned back in August, I originally planned to title my blog "Have You Cleaned Your Gutters Today?" because of a little problem we had last June with gutters over spilling, running down the windows and intruding under the windowsill to flood our bedroom.

Last night, after a nice dinner at Jaleo with J--- and her new boyfriend, we got home to find that the massive thunderstorms of the afternoon/evening caused a similar flooding.

There was a nice puddle on our bedroom floor, a small one downstairs (thankfully the curtains sopped up the water, keeping it from reaching the new chair and ottoman, which are sitting near the window still in their boxes), and a big puddle in the room I'm slowly painting. The plastic drop cloths on the floor should have helped things in there, except the room was bigger than the drop cloth, so I have a seam that water was able to get under. There was one puddle atop the drop cloth and another below. We had to dry up the upper puddle and then pull up the plastic to dry the floor.

I went around and closed all the storm windows, which is no panacea, but I think it will help. We have to go ahead and replace the old bad icky stupid windows some time soon.

I last cleaned the gutters at the end of April, after all the oak silks fell. In a normal year, I shouldn't have to climb back on the roof to clean things out until the leaves are falling in autumn, but I'm guessing the gutters are now full of dead cicadas or something. I have a feeling cleaning the gutters is going to be a grosser-than-usual task this time.

Thinking of the cicadas, it's been over two weeks since I've seen a live one. When we went hiking last weekend, we could still hear cicadas, but at home and work and in general around D.C. the noise seems to be gone. The only evidence of them (beyond what ever is in my gutters) are the little dead bodies and wing bits on the ground and lots of dead bits in trees throughout the region.

The cicadas seem to insert their eggs about a foot from the end of a branch, killing the top of each twig/branch leaving lots of patches of brown on otherwise healthy trees. The storms last night brought down a bunch of these dead bits last night, but there are plenty more still in the trees.

Thursday, June 17, 2004

Baseball in D.C.

Okay, the BoSox have now dropped two games to a team that, even with the two wins, has the second-worst record in baseball. The Rockies are 23 and 41 (.359); only the Montréal Expos are in worse shape at 20 and 43 (.317). And now the hated Yankees are 5.5 games up in the AL East. Sure, if it was time to be worrying about the wild card race, Boston would still be the top contender, but I'd rather we didn't have to count on that.

It's a 3:05 p.m. (UTC-5:00) start time today, so I guess I'll get to try to keep up with the action via Gameday this afternoon.

Thinking of the Expos, a co-worker, R---, and I were talking about the attempts to get them moved south to D.C. the other day and I'm of two minds. On the one hand, it would be really nice to be able to jump on Metro instead of having to drive up to Baltimore (MARC trains don't provide any special service for Orioles games) to see a ball game, but the Expos are a National League team. It would only be an odd interleague matchup that would bring the BoSox to D.C.

R--- suggested that the NL and AL swap Toronto and Montréal so that the Blue Jays could end up in the National League and D.C. could have an American League team, but I think that would made a D.C. (or Northern Virginia) team even less likely. As it stands, Peter Angelos is already worried about a drop in attendance if D.C. baseball fans get a more local team.

In the end, it probably wouldn't have much impact. If I wanted to go to a game just to go to a game, D.C. would probably be easier to get to (assuming the ballpark is Metro accessible; if the team ends up in far outside of the Beltway in Northern Virginia, say out by Dulles, then it would probably be easier to get to Baltimore), but to see games and teams that matter to me, I would probably still have to go to Baltimore.

Still, the mock ups proposed by the Washington Baseball Club do look sweet ...

Wednesday, June 16, 2004

Blueberries, Baby & Bloomsday

It's nice to step out of the house and to grab a handful of blueberries right off the bush first thing in the morning. It makes the commute a little bit better.

I ran into a little problem with painting the window wells last night. Actually it was during the clean up. I'd finished the quart of Behr primer I found in the basement priming the walls and ceiling of the room, so I grabbed the next remnant quart when I decided to prep the window wells. It turned out to be Kilz. In and of itself this is no big deal, but when I started cleaning up the brush, the water that normally washes the paint away was doing nothing; in fact, it seemed to be getting stickier.

I called Evelin down to the basement and got her to read the paint can -- oil paint. Luckily we still had a can of mineral spirits on hand, so I was able to clean things up, but for a minute I thought I was going to learn a valuable lesson about randomly grabbing old cans of paint from the basement ...

Everything else seems to be going well. The baby is kicking a lot . I read (using the paper towel tube to stomach method) the Richard Scarry story "The Polite Elephant." That got a few good kicks.

Monday night, I read the baby a story about Angus the policeman who loved to tell people to "stop" but then he wouldn't stop playing his bagpipes and they exploded. That got a lot of kicks, but Evelin thinks it was because I was translating the story into Scots on the fly and the accent may have been a bit scary.

And for the Joyce fans out there: Happy Bloomsday!

Tuesday, June 15, 2004

Something to Ponder

Why is it that although the roller seems dry and no more paint will come off the roller and on to the ceiling or wall, when you go to wash the roller it seems to be bleeding out a quart of paint? Is there some secret well within the roller that hordes paint for future evil purposes?

The ceiling is done. Tonight I think I'll prime the window wells and give the ceiling extra time to dry before taping the edges. After that ... I guess we need to buy some wall paint.

Monday, June 14, 2004

Quick Update

I've been futzing with work things and stuff today, so only time for a quick update:

Weekend: The cherry pie Saturday night was awesome, not that there were any doubts. Evelin used our "personal" pie dishes, making two small pies for the freezer and a third that we ate. I am of two minds about this: 1) we have pie in the freezer; 2) hey, I want more pie!

Sunday, we had an early lunch with an online friend of Evelin's who was driving through the D.C. area with her family on the way to Florida. She was going through an IVF cycle the same time we were last November with equally ineffective results. We ended up at Franklin's and had a nice meal and visit, but a bit on the short side as they were aiming to make it to South Carolina by nightfall and traffic north of D.C. had been much worse than they'd expected.

Garden: Sunday afternoon, we did a little work in the garden, ripping the last of the peas out of the ground and planting corn. Seeds of Change Triple Play sweet corn were the only corn seeds the food co-op had (I stopped in for some milk on my way back from the farmers market), so we'll see how the tri-color tastes in sometime in August.

We also took the netting off the goldrush apple tree. The cicada menace seems to be past for the most part. There are a few live ones still around, but the singing is almost gone and 99% of those I see now are dead (and often half-eaten).

Bread Pudding: The reason I picked up milk (and an extra dozen eggs) is that Evelin wanted to clear some things out of our freeze. Back around Easter, Evelin made penia* -- a traditional Italian sweet anise bread shaped like a doll -- but wasn't too happy with this year's results. Thinking it would make a good bread pudding, however, she froze the three dolls and yesterday decided to test the theory.

We talked a while about what could go into the pudding and Evelin ended up making four versions. A big plain one with no additions and three personal-sized ones: one with raisins, one with Craisins, and one with golden raisins and dried cherries. I can attest to the tastiness of the raisin (although I think macerating the raisins in rum would have been a nice touch) and plain versions. The others have yet to be tasted.

The Da Vinci Code: The rest of the day was a hodgepodge of napping, taking a walk to find out where the go-go music was coming from (there was a very big graduation party about two blocks away), getting Father's Day cards, and reading The Da Vinci Code. I won't pretend it was great art, but the book was a good enough read to keep me up until almost 1:00 a.m. finishing it.

Today: Today was back to work, slipping away for an hour to donate blood. I haven't donated since January (I just kind of lost track of time) and I got a call late last week saying the hospital needed O- blood for the neonatal unit. Plus, by donating now, I'll be able to donate again a few weeks before the baby's due date; hopefully there won't be any need to, but it's good to know that I won't be a pint low if Evelin or the baby needed any blood.

Tonight, I need to paint the ceiling in the guest/media room. Yes, I ignored it all weekend. However, we think we found the paint that'll work for the walls, so once the ceiling is done, I'll only have the walls and trim to ignore ...

*Penia is the spelling that's come down through her family, but the pronunciation is bi:n jə. I'm not sure of the exact dialect/idiolect Evelin's grandmother's family would have spoken, but googling penia doesn't turn up the recipe or anything like it.

Saturday, June 12, 2004

Wandering About

It took us until nearly 10:00 a.m. to get out of the house, but Evelin and I managed to squeeze in a pretty full range of activities today.

We started off heading north to Catoctin Mountain Park. We actually didn't cross into the national park, however, instead staying in Cunningham Falls State Park to hike 1.25 miles and 1,562 feet to the top of Cat Rock.

I like Cat Rock: it's a nice quick hike, easy to get to, with a good view. Back in 1996, before I moved up to Northampton, I made a special point of making a predawn hike to the top to see the sun rise. If I'd been thinking about it, I'd have gone up Chimney Rock instead; I would have seen the sun come up over the mountain instead of over my shoulder.

On the way down the mountain, we stopped at Pryor's Orchard. They had signs up about sweet cherries, but when we got there we found out they do pick-your-own, too. Evelin and I were given a bit steel bucket and then trudged up the hill into the orchard. It didn't take long to fill the bucket about a third of the way up (which we figured would be enough for a pie with a few leftovers for snacking). Back in the barn where the cherries were weighed, I also picked up a bottle of McCutcheon's sparkling scuppernong ("zesty champagne-like flavor without the alcohol").

After the orchard, I held Evelin to her promise of a hike and a zoo, and we went to the Catoctin Wildlife Preserve and Zoo. We've driven past it many, many times and -- to tell the truth -- it always looks a bit like an old-school roadside attraction. Inside, however, it wasn't too bad. They do sell "zoo food" and allow visitors to feed some of the animals, which meant some of the Barbary sheep, fallow deer, and other animals looked way fat, but the grounds are nice and naturalistic. Some of the enclosures, however, were a bit on the depressing side (especially the grizzly bear enclosure) and I did see some stereotypic behavior (mostly pacing from the grizzly). Despite that, it's a fairly wide-ranging collection, including some animals I don't think I've seen elsewhere, most notably dingoes (Canis lupus dingo*).

After the zoo, we took backroads home, making a short stop at Hoffman's Home Made Ice Cream in Westminster.

Tonight, it'll be cherry pie for dessert and loubieh bi zayt (green beans in olive oil) for dinner.

*Apparently, there's some debate as to whether dingoes should be classified as Canis lupus dingo or as Canis familiaris dingo. (See the dingo page at Lioncrusher's Domain and scroll down to "Taxonomic Note.")

Friday, June 11, 2004

As If There Were Any Question ...

Dogs are smarter than most people think:And thinking of dogs, there was a super sweet 7-week-old pointer in line behind us at the MVA yesterday; but the MVA staff made her stay outside with one of her people while the other got her license renewed.

Happy Birthday to Me

Yesterday, I became demographically undesirable by aging my way out of the 18-34 male demo ...

It was a pretty good birthday. Evelin and I started off with an early morning appointment at the midwife. The baby's heartbeat is strong as ever and everything looks good. I liked this midwife a better than the first one (mostly because she didn't parrot Atkins diet pseudoscience to Evelin when talking about eating habits). We also talked a bit about birthing classes; Evelin and I need to hurry up and figure out what program we want to go with -- Bradley, Lamaze, Birthing from Within, Hypnobirthing, whatever -- but I'm not sure we're any closer to figuring it out ...

After that, we stood in line for a while at the Motor Vehicle Administration to get new drivers licenses and then went home to cut the grass/ogräs. The fun part of the day came later when we went to see Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (definitely the best movie in the series thus far, although none of the movies have been as good as the books), followed by dinner at Ardeo. Sadly, the chef didn't do a tasting menu last night, but I still had a very nice cheese tortellini with asparagus and porcini mushrooms in a mushroom broth, which went very well with a glass of the nice Alsatian pinot blanc. The starter was a spinach salad with some excellent Stilton and dessert was a chocolate fondant cake with espresso ice cream. Evelin had the same salad (sans the Stilton) and a hamburger with incredible fries.
  • Happy Birthday in a lot of languages (Roman alphabet, no diacritical marks)

  • Happy Birthday in fewer languages but better use of scripts and diacritical marks (mostly Unicode)

  • Happy Birthday uses local scripts, but graphics, not Unicode

Wednesday, June 09, 2004

Baby Likes Baseball ...

... either that or the baby is tired of hearing me say "No-mah."

Last night, instead of reading through a paper-towel tube to the baby, I recapped how the BoSox beat San Diego and that Pedro Martínez pitched eight scoreless innings giving up just two hits (not to mention Keith Foulke's fine job in the ninth). This brought about some good kicking, especially when I mentioned Johnny Damon's RBI double (the only score of the night) and that Jason Varitek stole a base.

However, that was just the appetizer. The baby really started kicking when I said that Trot Nixion started his rehab assignment with the Saratoga Red Sox, getting an RBI single at his first at bat. Although the SaraSox split the doubleheader against the Fort Meyers Miracle, Trot went 2 for 3 in the first game with a double and a run scored in addition to his first-inning RBI. (Trot stayed on the bench for the second game.)

The biggest kick of all, however, came when I said that Nomar Garciaparra was the lead-off batter for the PawSox that night. I hadn't seen any scores at that point so I didn't have to dim the baby's enthusiasm by reporting that the PawSox lost to the Louisville Bats, but repeatedly saying "No-mah" really got some excitement going. It looks like No-mah is going to stay with the PawSox for at least one more game, which will give him a chance to bring those hitting stats up (so far he's hit .278 at Pawtucket).

This baby is so going to be ready for the World Series.

Tuesday, June 08, 2004

Paint Under My Nails

Last night Evelin accused me of nesting. Actually, she accused me of either nesting or trying to keep her from nesting. In her estimation (and I don't necessarily disagree with her), I seem to start long overdue big projects that usually involve fixing plaster and painting when she's pregnant and I'm overly protective and insisting that she cannot help.

The last such project was fixing plaster and repainting the bathroom a year or so ago (pre-blog), and it coincided with an IUI cycle, if I recall correctly. This time it is the guest/media room.

I guess it is partially nesting. I don't think I'd want the fumes and dust around once the baby arrives and the room has needed to be done for a long time. Plus, once this is finished, we'll have some place to put non-baby-appropriate that's currently in the nursery-to-be room.

The other odd thing is that I'm more likely to get work done in the evening after work than on the weekend. I'm not sure why that is; maybe I'm carrying over a work-oriented mindset into the evening (or the sanding and hammering helps work out work-based frustrations) and the weekend I'd rather just be a lump (or mow the grass).

In either case, over the weekend, the most I did was sift through the old paint cans in the basement to see what we had and what we needed to get. I found one full can of primer/sealer and last night that went up on the walls and ceiling. Tonight I think I'll do a second coat of the primer on the ceiling, which will make it ready for painting Wednesday night. And we have about a half can of white ceiling paint in the basement, too, so that should take care of that.

Later in the week, we'll need to decide what shade of paint matches our idea of mossy green and then get that for the walls.

Monday, June 07, 2004

Stage II Gardening

We're moving into the second stage of the garden. Yesterday, Evelin ripped out most of the peas and put in the tomatoes. We might have gotten a few more days worth of peas, but with 90°F days predicted for mid/late this week they were going to be on their last legs. Plus, the tomatoes really need to get out of the pots and into the ground.

After harvesting the last pods, two beds worth of peas were ripped out and 24 tomato plants (about half cherry tomatoes and half bigger tomatoes) were put in. Between the rows, Evelin planted Genovese and sweet basil. She also potted the Micro Tom tomato and Tangerine Dream pepper we got on Saturday, and add the strawberry plants to the patch out front.

The third bed of peas are still in place at least until Evelin gets some corn seeds/seedlings promised by a coworker. We think we can fit a couple of ears into that bed, which should give us a small harvest. Evelin's father grows corn each year, but we've never tried it at our house.

Elsewhere, the okra is looking good and there were some more raspberries to nibble on Sunday. I want to cook my daylily bud and pasta recipe this week, but I'll have to act quickly ...Thee buds are all turning to flowers (which are tasty, but don't hold up well when sautéed).

Other Things

Zoo: Since it was a pretty nice day, I got to the zoo early to make sure I could find a parking place and would have time to walk from where ever I parked to the Panda House before my shift started. The bears themselves were good, and in passing through the zoo, I got to see the new giant Pacific octopus (OctopuDublinni) anGeoffreyoy, the new Rothschild's giraffes.

Furniture: Ikea delivered the chair yesterday, but were about an hour later than the four-hour window we were given for delivery. When I got home from the zoo, Evelin had a letter drafted demanding a refund of our delivery fee as they had failed to meet the specified time.

Saturday, June 05, 2004

Ikea, Cows, and Cacao

Evelin and I just got back from the USDA Beltsville Agricultural Research Center (BARC) Public Field Day. The first time we went to Field Day, we were passing BARC, noticed big tents and decided to stop; this time, Evelin found a flyer last weekend at the National Arboretum.

Field Day is geared towards kids, but I tend to like educational outreach things like that a lot and the give away seedlings, so Evelin wanted to go too. Basically, it's an opportunity to get people to think about where their food comes from and to raise awareness about the important science USDA is conducting.

We walked through the two big tents, checking out the various exhibit booths and picked up a bunch of brochures and fact sheets, as well as a bunch of plants: a Micro Tom yellow tomato, a Tangerine Dream sweet banana pepper, two strawberries, and, most exciting, two cacao trees. The cacao are about six inches tall and will take a while to grow up to the point where they might produce fruit, but we'll have to manually pollinate the flowers. Also, they have to grow inside in pots given our climate.

Among the other booths were a taste-a-cicada stand (with cicada prepared three ways: chocolate covered, deep fried and sautéed -- we passed), how to grow edible mushrooms in your basement, exhibits on improving food packaging and fighting lyme disease carrying ticks, and got some tips on transporting koi (incase we want to try to bring some fish down to my brother in Atlanta; his garden pond was raided by a heron last year).

After visiting all the exhibits in the tents, we boarded the bus to go to BARC East to visit the dairy barn and to see more cows. I also got to pet a five-week old calf and a couple of six-day old piglets.

Before Field Day, we stopped by Ikea to see what sorts of chairs and baby furniture they had. Evelin's been thinking for a few weeks about a glider, easy chair, or something similar for after the baby comes. The yard-sale recliner we bought a few weeks ago isn't comfortable enough for her, and she'll need some place comfortable for breastfeeding.

We've looked at Ikea for chairs before and never really found what we wanted, but this time Evelin right away found a chair -- Ektorp -- that was comfortable and likeable. We ended up getting the chair and matching ottoman -- Bromma -- both with white – Blekinge -- denim slipcovers. We know white may be a mistake, but it was the cheapest option, is washable, and if we have to replace them with a better color down the line, c'est la vie.

The rest of the day, I think, will be a bit lazy. We rented two movies -- Lawrence of Arabia and Clash of the Titans -- and will probably just take it easy and enjoy a drizzly day inside. I should start priming the guest room, but I don't want to paint without being able to have the windows open so that the fumes don't bother Evelin too much.

Friday, June 04, 2004

Neither Numismatist, Nor Philatelist

Although I have a bunch of cool foreign stamps and coins that I've accumulated over the years, and Evelin and I have been caching away one or two of each of the state quarters as they come out, I would not consider myself a numismatist or a philatelist by any means.

However, I have noticed that Lewis and Clark are getting a lot of attention on stamps and coins for the bicentennial of the start of their expedition.

Not only was the expedition on the Missouri quarter, but the Post Office has an expedition stamp and a "Prestige Booklet" with portraits of Meriwether Lewis and William Clark. And this is on top of the Louisiana Purchase stamp issued last year.

And then there are the 2004 nickels with the Louisiana Purchase/Peace Medal design for the spring and the Keelboat design for the autumn.

<grumpy old man voice>I remember when I was a kid and the only special coins we got were the Bicentennial quarter and any old wheat pennies left in circulation. If you were lucky, you might find an Indian-head cent, a buffalo nickel or maybe a Mercury dime, but usually all the funny looking coins were Canadian -- which was still kind of cool when they showed up in Louisiana.</grumpy old man voice>

[ASIDE: I stopped by the website of Sid Griffin, formerly of the Long Ryders, to see if he had a copy of "Looking for Lewis and Clark" [ MP3 snippet | lyrics ] posted or anything and the hot news section says that an 18-track best of the Long Ryders CD is due for release on 10 June. I am so psyched.]

Oh, and if you are a U.S. citizen, be sure to contact your senators and urge them to support H.R. 2993 as referred to the Senate (especially if they're on the Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs). As D.C. Vote notes in a press release from when H.R. 2993 passed the House, the resolution needs the approval of two-thirds of the Senate to get D.C. and the territories added to the 50 states quarter program. Yes, there are much more pressing issues out there, but it still irks me how easily the non-state status of D.C. is overlooked by most of the rest of the country.

Wednesday, June 02, 2004

It's Six (Six!) Entries in One

It's been a little while (causing my Blogshares price to drop), so today I'll offer up a very, very long entry, but subdivided for easier reading:

The Past Few Days

Memorial Day Weekend was dominated by Evelin's parents visiting. They arrived Thursday night in time for us all to go to an O's game. Friday, while I was at work, Evelin and her mother toured the Decatur House and a few other sites downtown and her father spent the day with this brother riding motorcycles out to parts of Western Maryland. That evening, we all met up at Evelin's uncle's house for a barbeque.

Saturday, I took some alone time to cut the grass/ogräs/cicadas, and then we went to Rockville for the Hometown Holidays festival. M---, my mother-in-law, wanted to look through the Rockville Art Festival booths. We also took a walk over to nearby St. Mary's Catholic Church to visit the grave of F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald.

That afternoon, while R--- took a nap and ran up to The Home Depot, Evelin, M--- and I went off to the National Arboretum to feed the koi and to visit the National Bonsai and Penjing Museum. That evening, we all went out to Samantha's (which has shot right to the top of my and Evelin's favorite places to eat).

Sunday, the in-laws left by mid-morning, giving Evelin and me time to run to the farmers market for some tomatoes, apples, scallions and fresh eggs, and then it was off to watch the pandas, and then to have a friend over for dinner, which was pretty simple, but tasty -- grilled corn and a stir-fry of snow peas fresh from the garden, mushrooms, carrots, and garlic tops drizzled with sesame oil and tamari. For dessert, Evelin made some blueberry white-chip cookies: It's a very yummy cookie Evelin devised with white chocolate chips and Trader Joe's dried blueberries instead of regular chocolate chips. They're sweet and delicious.

Monday was fairly sedate, mostly because I was feeling stressed from work and all the socializing of late (my mother two weekends back, the trip up to Massachusetts one weekend back, in-laws and friends this past weekend). After cleaning up the house a bit and clearing all the furniture out of the guest/media room in preparation for painting, Evelin and I spent most of the day watching Colonial House, which we'd taped when it first aired. Unfortunately, the cassette could only hold 6 hours of programming, so we've seen the cape merchant start to straighten everything out, but the final two hours are lost to us ... and they aren't airing in June, so we'll probably have to wait until the autumn pledge drives to find out how it ends.

I did poke around the Colonial House website a bit and I love that the dogs -- Henry and Chloë -- are given full profile pages, just like all the rest of the participants. It would have been nice, however, to find out more about the Native American thoughts on the project. John Bear Mitchell has one page about the project, but I would have liked a little more from the Passamaquoddy and Penobscot perspective. (To be fair, it looks like the next episode does have more with the visit by the Wampanoag.)

Tuesday was back to work -- the start of production week and I'm still rushing to keep my new staff member busy. She's very efficient and a quick worker, which is making me have to think further ahead that I had been able to when M--- was splitting her time between my magazine and another one.


Sunday was the first time since Easter that I have watched the pandas. I missed the entire breeding season, but I guess we'll have a pregnancy/pseudopregnancy watch in a few months.

I asked B---, the keeper, if the bears had been eating cicadas, and she said there haven't been any signs of it. She also said that there weren't that many cicadas in the zoo (or at least in the panda yard) this time, so it could be a lack of opportunity rather than interest. But the next time she came into the camera room from the yard, a cicada had attached itself to her shirt, so maybe there are more out there than have been noticed ... or Tian Tian is eating them as soon as they crawl out of the ground.

The other pandas in town are the Pandamania sculptures. Evelin and her mom saw a few on Friday, and I've run into a few more on my commute and elsewhere in town, but we haven't mounted a comprehensive expedition to see them yet. (The Pandamania website has finally posted an index to all the bear sites, but there's no PDF map/gallery like was done for Birds I View, which is a shame.

The Sunday Washington Post ran a slightly dismissive article about whether or not these sorts of projects can be called "art." They surely aren't high art, but I think the <quote>serious artists<unquote> criticizing the project overplay their complaints a bit. Yes, these projects do take up money that could go toward more permanent pieces of art that might challenge the viewer more, but excitement that these installations generate can help interest people in the idea of art more and might help generate raise interest and awareness in the importance of public funding for arts projects.


With our schedule clear of house guests for the immediate future, I can finally get back to the plans for painting the guest/media room. I started spackling a few weeks ago. On Monday, we moved all the furniture out of the room. The nursery, already unorganized and crowded with baby clothes and other stuff, is now hosting an extra chair and few other things; the upstairs hallway gained a bookcase; and our bedroom is now home to the TV and couch -- I can't get into the bottom three drawers of my dresser.

I also spent a bit of time patching the hole in the baseboard where the previous owner had the cable TV connection come into the wall and chiseling out a bit of a beam in the ceiling and planing the door so that the pull-down stairs to the attic would close more securely. It's about a half-inch better, but I think part of the mechanism is bent, keeping it from closing 100% flat. I may add somesort of weather stripping around the edge to create a better seal, but that will be after everything is painted.

Last night, I sanded down all the excess spackle and all the other surfaces, creating quite a mess that I had to clean up. That was followed by spraying the small cracks in the plaster ceiling with a crack-stopping coating. Basically, it is a aerosol-projected rubber treatment designed to help prevent small cracks from reappearing over time. After it's painted, the rubber should stretch if a crack reappears without the paint breaking -- at least that's the theory. We'll find out in a few years, I guess.

Tonight, I plan to tape up the woodwork and outlets, put down plastic drop clothes, and vacuum the dust out of the ceiling fan and then bag it for the painting. (I probably should take the fan down, but it is well balanced right now and I'd rather deal with painting around it than trying to have to rebalance it after everything else is finished.

The plan is to paint the ceiling white and the walls somesort of mossy green. The woodwork will probably be white, too, but we only started talking about that this morning. (The green walls, however, have been in the plans since we moved in; it will work well with the futon, and we both like the color.) It did have the though this morning of a shade of blue for the ceiling and a tree-bark brown for the woodwork to give the room a real forest-like look, but I don't think Evelin would go for that. Plus, it's a kind of dumb idea.


Things are going well in the garden. The blueberries and some of the raspberries seem to be setting pretty heavily, so depending upon when they all ripen we may be able to do more than just grab a berry or three to snack on every other day, which is what I've been doing with the strawberries. We did get to taste our first three raspberries last night, and they were very good.

The peas have finally started coming fast and furious. We made a stir-fry Sunday night with them and Evelin and I have been taking small bags full to work for munching throughout the day. We've had some cool days mixed in with the heat of May, so maybe they'll last a bit longer than initially expected, which is good even if it means we'll be later in getting the tomatoes into the ground. Evelin's also thinking about a few stalks of corn for one of the beds currently home to peas.

We topped the garlic on Sunday morning, so I am getting to work those into my cooking this week. I essentially treat them like scallions; the give a nice mild garlic flavor when cooked, but remain crisp. They can be a bit strong when raw, however. Some of the stalks look like they're starting to wither, which is what we want them to do before harvest; others are still going strong, but we weren't expecting to dig the cloves up until July or so.

The okra is sprouting nicely in the sideyard, and the scarlet runner beans (which are both edible and ornamental) are starting to crawl up the lamppost and fences where we planted them.

Cicadas & Dragonflies

The die-off of the cicadas seems to have started. They are still audible, but the peak singing seems to have past and most of the ones I'm finding on the ground are dead nowadays. And I've noticed a bit of a decaying cicada smell in some places. The next step will be the eggs hatching and cicada grubs falling to the ground to bury themselves for another 17 years.

But as the cicadas fade, the dragonflies are appearing. We've spotted several around the pond already this year, including a female blue dasher (Pachydiplax longipennis) and a male great blue skimmer (Libellula vibrans) that I took pictures of for

The Baby

Last, but certainly not least, is the baby. There's been some pretty active kicking (maybe due to the blueberry white-chip cookies) some nights, and I actually could feel some of it. Other than that, things are going well. Our next appointment with the midwife is on 10 June and between now and then we're all just taking things easy.

Evelin and I have been talking names some more. We have one we both like, but it feels more like a nickname than a name (and the name it is contracted from is not appealing), so we're still poking around. On Monday, I spent some time reading out family names from both sides of our family tree and a few possibilities popped up, including one surname that might make an interesting prénom or middle name.

I'm also reading bedtime books (using a paper towel tube to focus my voice toward Evelin's belly). Farmer Duck by Martin Waddell and Helen Oxenbury seems to be a favorite (it got some good kicking), so we've been reading that a lot. Last night, however, we tried Sandra Boyton's Barnyard Dance.

Other (Baseball) Stuff

Okay, I know I said six (six!) entries in one, but take this as a little lagniappe.
  • BoSox: Bah. One game back isn't great, but it's only just June. I'm planning to have a little Red Sox onesie or something similar ready for the baby in time for the World Series.

  • Foul Ball: I read Jim Bouton's Foul Ball over the weekend. Given that it's very much his side of the story, I have to take some of the charges with a grain of salt, but it was a great, fast read. And I am very, very happy that Wahconah Park is finally ending up in his and his partners' hands.

  • Baseball and Cycling: Hit for the Cycle is tracking one man's season-long plan to cycle across the country (twice!) to see games at all 30 Major League Baseball ballpark. He started in Atlanta in April at a preseason game between the BoSox and the Braves and will end in September for the last (regular season) game between the Red Sox and the Hated Yankees in Boston. He's also trying to raise $125,000 for the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute though the Pan-Mass Challenge. (via Boston Sports Media Watch)