A green thumb? Let’s hope so

All winter long, we’ve let this small garden plot in front of our house just sit there, empty. Over time, the weeds went to town. Let’s just say that I was starting to get mildly embarrassed at the sight of tall dandelion-like weeds starkly standing out against the white walls of the front of our home.

A couple weeks ago, Andrew and I finally got around to getting rid of the miniature forest of spindly and unpleasant looking weeds. And for those couple weeks, that little plot of dirt sat and sat. It was crying out to me, plant something here! Something pretty and cheerful!

garden time, pt.7

Now, let me tell you, I don’t consider myself a gardener. I wouldn’t say that I have a black thumb, but rather I have yet to have enough experience to find out if I’m a green thumb in the garden.

This past weekend, Andrew was kind enough to take me to the garden section at Home Depot and stand by as I hemmed and hawed by every single flower and small greenery there. Like I mentioned, I don’t have much experience in the garden. Don’t you just stick something in the ground, water it, and it’ll grow? Wait, are you saying I really have to look at the tag and find out what kind of sun exposure this plant can take? And how far to plant them away from each other?

Okay, I’m exaggerating. I knew about those things I just mentioned. But experience? I hardly have any of it.

garden time, pt.1

After leaving with a very small fortune of flowers, herbs that I wanted to get started for this summer, some extra seeds, and a couple of watering cans, we arrived at home and unloaded the goods. The following day, Monday, I had the afternoon off. (Yes, I should’ve been studying for boards, but…) I then spent it planting flowers, planting two Romanian tomato plants that I’d sprouted, and ended it with some transferring and planting of the herbs that we had bought.

garden time, pt.5

garden time, pt.4

The flower garden out front looks cute yet a little sparse thus far. But hey, if I followed the tags and planted them at the proper widths, hopefully they’ll fill out in a couple months. As for the tomatoes, Andrew and I are tomato fiends–we just can’t get enough of fresh tomatoes. And the herbs? Ah, fresh herbs… When I go out to look at them, run my fingers along their leaves to catch their scent, I try to see if I can spot any growth spurts (fyi: none thus far) and am suddenly inspired: to cook something savory with rosemary, to make soup seasoned with thyme, to toss together a pasta with sweet basil, to make fried rice with thai basil, to flavor Indonesian dishes with lemon grass.

rosemary in the sun

garden time, pt.3

We also have a couple parsley plants that are starting up their second year in our garden. There’s also this crazy patch of sage that has grown where I got impatient and threw the entire packet of seeds into the dirt. Not to mention the green onions–they’re monster-sized! Who knew that all you had to do was throw green onions from the store into the dirt and they’d grow on their own? (Don’t take that throwing part quite literally.)

garden time, pt.6

You know, I’m realizing that as I’m writing this, I suppose I do have a little bit of experience in the garden. I guess what I’m really trepidatious about is the flower garden. I haven’t had experience with growing flowers before. Biennials, perennials, bulbs…aren’t they all just flowers? How do I know if I’m over watering or not? Will they stay alive? What about during our inland California summers that are occasionally similar to something akin to the heat I can imagine coming from hell?

I think what’s bothering me the most is that the success you can have with flowers has nothing to do with a tangible product like vegetables and herbs that you can hold in your hand, cook with, eat. Rather, it has more to do with achieving inner satisfaction with just a mere little flower bed.

garden time, pt.9

They sure are lovely, though. I hope I find out that I have a green thumb with flowers after all.

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How life rolls on

The past couple of days have been interesting. Well, really, not too interesting. It’s more like a sequence of normal events that happen in life. It’s just that since my life is generally predictable (school, study, eat, sleep, repeat), it made yesterday’s little highs and lows feel greater than they probably actually were.

A classmate and I studied and studied and studied so hard this weekend for a pharmacology midterm that we had yesterday, Monday. What a harrowing subject! So many drugs, so many different ways that they work, how they interact with one another… If anything, this class has garnered more respect toward pharmacists in my eyes.

We had our midterm exam yesterday morning. The first 16 questions or so took up so much brain power that I wasn’t sure if I could make it through all 80 questions and keep my sanity if the rest were any similar. Thankfully they weren’t. After flying through the exam in less than a hour, I ran out the door to head home.

I was excited to get done with the test because, well, it would be done and that my classmate and I were going catch the last day of the snowboarding season down here in southern Cali. I jumped on my bike and sped the less than five minutes ride home. Part way into the ride, there’s this tree that I pass that has a bee hive in it. Well, considering large number of bees that are always flying around the tree, I’m assuming so. Since I’ve only been stung once before and, with the slightly-greater-than-the-average-person allergic reactions that I have, am always worried about a possible anaphylactic reaction from a second sting that can spell death in minutes, I’m very careful when I pass that tree. Thus said, I hit the brakes and rode by the tree and through the bees slow enough for them to avoid me.

Almost a short block away from home and with snowboarding on the mind, I was suddenly aware of an immediate and intense pinpoint of pain on my neck, strong enough to bring tears to my eyes and make me slam on the breaks. I came to a complete halt. In my shock, I quickly realized that I had just been stung by a bee. With adrenaline and fear pumping through my body and the knowledge that a bug is attached to me at the neck, I ripped the fuzzy little creature off in absolute disgust. I knew the stinger was still in my neck; it hurt so bad. Since there was no one around to reach me fast enough in case I actually did have a serious allergic reaction, I did the only thing I could think of at the time and rode the rest of the way home.

Turning on to our street, I almost careened into a moving van coming in my direction. When I was rolling up our driveway, I was hoping and praying that nothing would happen to me. I shakily dropped my bike, eventually opened the door, dropped my bag, hurried to the bathroom and fumbled through the medicine cabinet for tweezers and a small mirror. I knew the lighting wasn’t the best in there, so I quickly headed for the backyard and direct sunlight. To my horror, I saw half a bee butt sticking out of my neck. (Seriously, it was gross. Gross, gross, gross.) Once again instantly disgusted, I slowly pulled out what I could of the stinger and hurriedly wiped it off on the grass.

bee sting, day 1bee sting, day 2
L & R: The evening after pulling out the stinger and what it looked like the next day.

Since at least a full minute had passed by this time, I figured I was going to be okay after all, thank the Lord. With still shaky hands, I called my husband for any advice for taking care of a bee sting. You’re probably wondering what kind of American childhood I had where I could avoid ever being stung and not knowing what to do. I was a careful child, so what? After liberally applying a baking soda paste to my neck and nursing it for the next hour, I slowly got my stuff together for snowboarding. Oh heck yeah, I wasn’t going to let a dumb little bee sting that, well, scared me silly hold me back from having some fun!

When Jen arrived, I jumped in her car and off we went to find some slushy snow. We reached the highway that would head up the mountain only to find that it was closed. What were we going to do? After another call to my husband, we found an alternate and longer route for getting up the mountain. Nothing was going to stop us from getting to the snow.

Southern California has had a pretty darn good and long snow season this year, something that doesn’t happen regularly down here. Earlier this season, Jen and I became even more addicted to snowboarding and jumped on a deal for the local slopes that would let us board what was left of this season and all the next. So far, we haven’t had a good chance to go this season at all. After finding out that today was the last day of the season and that we knew we would have finished a difficult midterm, we wanted to at least fulfill the promises of our pass and make it up there that day.

last day of the season

last day of the season

After getting our season passes, we hopped on the lift. The bottom of the hill looked pretty sad with distinct brown patches on the side. Halfway up though, we realized there was a lot more snow than we thought we’d see.

jen boarding, pt.1jen boarding, pt.2

jen boarding, pt.4jen boarding, pt.6

The snow was soft and slushy yet a lot more fun that we thought it would be. Even though I took quite an impressive tumble on the second run (and thankfully no one saw it), I’m pretty sure it wouldn’t have hurt even if I hadn’t been wearing my helmet. I did have to take it off after that, though–I somehow managed to get a large amount of snow in it and wanted to empty it out. After a great third run, we decided to call it quits: they were going to close the slopes in a half hour and we had at least reached our goal of using our passes for both seasons.

After I got home, there was nothing pressing to do. Well, except to take the doggie on a walk:

walking the dog, pt.1

walking the dog, pt.4

Oh, and I stopped and saw some pretty flowers along the way:

pink flower redux

yellow flower redux

At the end of the day, everything was back to normal again. Well, except for my neck which now itches like crazy. I guess it’s just been a while since I’ve had such an up and down again kind of day, except on the slightly smaller scale like a kiddie roller coaster. As interesting as yesterday was, it was nice to have a day to live life and just roll with the punches.

Though I’d appreciate nothing stronger than that for a little while, please.

Pheet Photos

When I have a camera in my hands, I invariably end up taking a picture of my feet. It doesn’t matter whether I’m wearing shoes, sandals, or nothing at all, I just do. I’m not a weirdo that has some sort of creepy fetish for feet (ew). On the other hand, I’m not exactly sure why.

Can I merely say that I just happen to like my feet? Personally, I think they’re kind of cute.

lava flow + feet

race day

20090921_10

20090919_06

20090922_06

See? I can’t help it! I always end up with a picture or two of my feet. It doesn’t matter whose camera is in my hands, it just happens.

Little Blackbird, Fly

Have you ever heard of the twin lens reflex camera, blackbird, fly?  Yeah, I hadn’t either. Until my brother gave me one.

blackbird, fly camera, pt.2blackbird, fly camera, pt.

Pretty, huh? What makes it affordable is that it’s completely made out of plastic (except maybe a lens or two). Also, it uses 3mm film, something that’s still easy to find today even within our advanced digital camera age.

blackbird, fly introCheck out the site for more information.

I love it’s concept and how it looks. Especially the reflex viewfinder mirrors:

blackbird, fly camera, pt.4
blackbird, fly camera, pt.5

I don’t really have much to say for this post…other than that I should get out and take more pictures with this sweet little camera.

bbf - backyard treesbbf - weed in garden

bbf - summer sun on carbbf - backyard tree

Yellow After The Rain

After it poured down rain this past Saturday, I happened to look out the window and was rewarded with this golden view:

yellow after the rain

During my second year of undergraduate college work, I was (somehow) given the privilege of free percussion lessons. Before you offhandedly dismiss percussion as being easy and consisting of merely banging on something and making lots of loud noise, I’d like to convince you otherwise.

  1. Playing percussion means you need to have rhythm, understand rhythm, have the ability to count and count and count in rhythm.
  2. You are given a pair of sticks or mallets and are supposed to bodily demonstrate said rhythm with them.
  3. You can’t just play at any ol’ volume you want, you need to play what is dictated to you.
  4. If you end up playing a keyboard instrument (i.e xylophone, marimba, vibraphone), you have to make the mallets hit specific parts of it, not just anywhere you want.  Well, really, this applies to any percussion instrument you play, even a triangle.
  5. Lastly, if you end up playing a keyboard instrument with two mallets per hand, that is four mallets total, then you’re in a whole ‘nother ball game.  (Apparently you can play with three per hand, too.)

Anyway, I digress.

The latter, 4-mallet playing, is what I was learning how to do on a marimba.  One of the first solo pieces I was ever given to learn is considered a beginner standard in the percussion industry, Yellow After The Rain.  It was challenging to play, had cool sounding chords and effects, lots of neat rolling with the mallets, etc.  I played it time and time again.

Yet, somehow, I never quite understood where the name came from.

Now, I do:

yellow after the rain

Every now and then, it actually is yellow after the rain. Beautiful.