Tuesday, July 31, 2007

90% project

A while back I clicked through links from other blogs and found this project.

While I'm not ready to commit to 90%, I am ready to commit to reducing my consumption as much as possible.

So, Mr. Gaia and I have been talking about getting me an electric scooter to use to commute to work (less than 4 miles round trip). I, of course, thought of something along the lines of a vespa (yes I know a vespa is not electric) (image courtesy of vespa):

Mr. Gaia, bless him, thought of something more like this (image courtesy of Amazon):

Please tell me that I am not shallow for thinking that think looks ridiculous for a grown woman. In business clothes. I swear, it looks like a razer scooter with larger wheels, a motor and a seat.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Rainy days

It's still raining daily. I have no idea what to think of all this rain. My yard is gorgeous, but it's overgrown because there's never a dry time to mow. On the other hand, my grapefruit tree looks better than ever. I'm regretting that I was too lazy to plant a summer garden.

It's been too wet for the kids to practice their soccer. So I'm sure they will get a disappointed lecture from their coach.

We've taken advantage of the time inside to finish reading Harry Potter aloud. And that's about it. I hope to get out the board games again. Hyperion is just having too much trouble staying still. No one wants to play a board game with him because you know he will upset the playing board midpoint in the game. Not to mention that there will be tantrums from him and Oceanus when they start to lose.

I've been knitting and thinking about discussing adding a category for nice yarn in our budget. It's hard to do that, though. Buying nice yarn would mean that my handknits would cost much more than I would pay for the ready made item.


So this is the tank top I decided to knit. I managed to get about 6 inches knit while listening to Mr. Gaia finish the last 200 pages of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. If that doesn't seem like much progress, well, that's because it isn't. I got caught up in the book too many time and ended up having to frog back the last row multiple times.

What sucks about it is that I really don't care for the yarn I'm using. It's red heart brand acrylic and scratchy as hell. I have no idea if I'll ever actually wear the darn thing.

Hyperion picked up a shell at the beach last time we were there. It was just a plain shell, but a hole had been drilled into it (probably by a murex). He asked me to make him a necklace with it. I collect these shells because I love the colors and the convenient hole makes me think I'll actually make jewelry with them. So far I've managed to continue to lose my stashes of them within days (yes, I finally decided on a central location and am not placing all of them there). Last night I went into my stash and found some waxed cord. I made a loop of the cord, pushed it through the hole and then the threaded the cord through the loop. Then I tied two knots in the cord - one strand was knotted OVER the other strand. Then that strand was knotted over the other. This makes a necklace that can be shortened or lengthened by pulling the knots closer to the shell. This all would, of course, be easier to explain with pics, but I don't have a working camera. A google search, however, turned up this tutorial which explains it very well.

He was happy with his new necklace for about 15 minutes and then he lost interest. Sigh.

But it is cool enough that I'm going to make more of them. So, it was a successful experiment in that respect.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Socially responsible investing

How to Save for College and Make a Difference Too

Seeing Retirement Investment Through Green-colored Glasses

Mr. Gaia and I have finally reached a point in our lives where we have a little extra money to invest.

Sure, we could make a much better return with less risk by going with a standard plan, but why not take a chance and help society?

This is something we are going to be researching over the next few months. We hope to have our research done and plans made in time to go ahead and fully fund an IRA or Roth IRA by the end of the year.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Knitting Suggestions?

Okay, Mr. Gaia likes my tank top fine (because it is somewhat low cut) but he says he wishes I'd wear something that isn't cut/knit straight across, a v neck or a scoop neck, he says.

So, here's what I want in a pattern:

1) v-neck
2) knit in the round with very minimal sewing
3) it needs to be shaped
4) works with multiple kinds of yarn (so it needs to have a fairly large guage)
5) is a pattern I'd want to repeat many, many times so I have a nice wardrobe of them
6) the straps need to be wide enough to cover bra straps.

Does anyone know of a (preferably free) pattern that might meet these requirements?


Sunday, July 22, 2007

I hate bedtimes

Okay, not really. Just right now. We got the new Harry Potter yesterday and true to plan, started reading it aloud, one chapter by me, one by Mr. Gaia. This is great, but we have to stop at the kids' bedtime and reading aloud does go somewhat slowly.

So, we've only read through chapter 11 and it's getting next to impossible to avoid spoilers.

It's been just over a year since we started reading Harry Potter. We took the first book with us on vacation last year and read them through since then. Thank God we didn't start sooner. I'd be chomping at the bit even more.

Saturday, July 21, 2007


I've been remiss and ignored comments. I didn't mean to, but I did. So, I'm going to respond to comments here.

Tanya Brown said...
Welcome back home. Now I want to see photos of the sea monkeys! In the comic book ads of my youth, the father sea monkeys were always puffing cigars while they read the newspaper, while the mother sea monkeys wore half aprons and were tidying the habitat. Let's hope that things have become more progressive since then!

I don't have pictures yet, but they are going, so that's really cool. We need to get a proper tank for them. What we got was a SeaMonkey nursery that included a cute little plastic tank like container.

But, they have a website with all the cool things you can buy and lots of great pictures.

rani said...
Lovely choices - I like the first one best, personally. As noted, my gauge problem made my socks into slippers! I know you can recalculate a pattern to fit your gauge, but it seemed too complicated at the time.

I liked the first one best too. I don't have a picture of the completed project though. I need to get Mr. Gaia busy with the camera.

Rod said...
I am the parent who said no more to TAKS testing. My 8 year old child moved with us to the USA and we duly entered him in a Texas public school. We researched the available schools and picked one with a good academic record. Second mistake. The record was achieved by teaching to the test and ONLY teaching to the TAKS test. Our son endured months of heartache, frustration and abuse at the hands of an inflexible system and staff forced to hothouse students in a manner totally against their training and instincts. There was no allowance for his lack of familiarity with the US (what are pecks and bushels?), and no support available other than additional hours of test taking.He is now in a private school, which is against my egalitarian principles, but provides an educational environment better in so many ways that it was the only acceptable option.I am aware that this option is not available to all, but so many children must be suffering under this frankly abusive system that I am surprised that I don't hear many more voices raised in protest. If there is a flag to rally round, please tell me - I am very willing to support change for the advantage of our children.RB

Rob, I don't know of any grassroots efforts, yet. I've heard rumors about schools refusing to accept government money so they can get rid of TAKS testing. Right now, they're just unconfirmed reports, so far as I know. But it is an idea for schools. The problem is that most schools need that government money.

There are an awful lot of parents really bothered by this, but none of us have managed to coalesce into a group able to really effect change.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

I was tagged

Stephanie tagged me.

The Rules:“Each person links to the person who tagged them. Then each person posts the rules before their list, then they list 8 things about themselves. At the end of the post, that person tags and links to 8 other people and then visits those peoples’ sites and comments letting them know that they have been tagged, and to come read the post, so they know what they have to do.”

8 things about me:

1) My mother made my wedding gown and has it stored at her home.

2) I was in FHA for 4 years in high school and still cannot sew.

3) I drink my iced tea really, really strong but my hot tea really, really weak. I don't drink tea in restaurants (even if it is sweetened) because it is too weak.

4) I used to eat raw turnips as a kid, but only if I had a bowl of vanilla ice cream at the same time.

5) I love TLC on TV and will watch it every chance I get.

6) My first cat was a siamese I named Jamie.

7) I have lots of freckles (even though I am not a natural red head).

8) I'm very sensitive about my yellow teeth (the result of tetracycline staining but probably made worse by my Dr. Pepper and tea addiction).

I can't think of who to tag. I think all my usual victims, errr, that is "friends" have done this one. If you haven't done it and need something to spark a post, let me know and I'll update my list.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Rain, Rain, Rain

It has rained most of the day. Rain, rain, rain.

When I stupidly step off of the concrete surfaces, I sink up to my ankles in mud and grass. Rain, rain, rain.

My grass grows taller and taller and the city hollers louder and louder. Rain, rain, rain.

My watermelon vine still only has the one fruit (that I've found*) but has managed to grow 15 feet long and up and over my 5' back fence. Rain! Rain! Rain!

My cannas are blooming for the first time since I moved them from Oklahoma City to South Texas. Rain! Rain! Rain!

My ginger and my plumeria are putting on lots of nice foliage. Rain! Rain! Rain!

If it stops raining, I'll go out and weed the hell out of my garden bed and plant tomatoes and peppers (surprisingly this is the right time here in South Texas). And maybe some okra (yummy!). At which point, it will stop raining at all.

*I say that I've found, because it has chosen to grow in the direction of the most overgrown parts of my flower beds. So actually looking for fruit will require really searching.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Summer Fun

So my kids are home from Camp Grandma and it's time for our own summer fun.

Except - I've done nothing with them so far. Part of that is because we just spent almost 2 weeks traveling together. Part of it is because they are little monsters right now as they try to make the adjustment to being back home. A HUGE part of it is that I'm just exhausted after I get off work because being on vacation means that I have a ton of catch up to do.

They've spent the last 2 days at the Boys and Girls Club while Mr. Gaia and I are at work. So far they've had a blast. Yesterday they saw what happened when you drop Mentos into Diet Coke. Today they had cinnamon toast.

I can't say enough good things about the Boys and Girls Club. They charge $5 for a year membership and during the summer they provide a free program (ours is 9:00-2:30) with a free lunch. This is open to anyone and even though we are not low income, they encourage us to participate (good thing since my kids are too young to leave home alone but there are not really any summer programs for kids in the area). We send money with the kids to buy snacks at the snack bar and make sure to participate in their fund raisers. Even sending snack money with them, we're spending less than we would for them to be in school (we send less than we had to spend for school lunch).

Hyperion needs to practice reading this summer. He reads very well, but he thinks he doesn't, so I need something for him to read to build up his confidence. Right now it's a search to find material he will enjoy reading.

He's enjoying his new pets - the ox beetles and sea monkeys. Right now I'm still the primary caregiver for the ox beetles, but that's mainly because the container they are in is very flimsy and not really sturdy enough for handling by a 7 year old. But he does watch them and make suggestions for their care. They love grapes, so they are not going to starve as I had been afraid. I think if I could find a nice simple book about either pet he would be willing to read it. I think. It's hard to say because so far he won't read the instruction books for his gameboy games, even when they would really help him to win, or even understand the game.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Selfishness on display

I do think that people are generally good and they generally mean well and given the chance, most people will do the right thing. Unfortunately, that's not always the case.

At Six Flags Fiesta Texas we had time for maybe two more rides before the park closed. So Oceanus and I got in line for a roller coaster (Poltergeist). The line should have been about 10-15 minutes long. However, there were a group of young twenties ahead of us. They yelled at a friend and 4 people joined them (cutting line). Okay, that sucks and it's wrong, but whatever. Then it happens again. And again. And 3 more times. All in all about 24 people ended up jumping the line in front of a lot of people. This added about 5-10 minutes to our wait. Goodbye to the chance to ride another ride. Surprisingly enough, no one confronted them about it. Some people grumbled about it, but no one lit into them.

At SeaWorld there was a woman saving a whole row of seats in the 4th row (really the best row in terms of being able to see well) for the last showing of Shamu. We got there about 30 minutes early and ended up in the 2nd row - not bad seats at all, we couldn't see as much on the surface of the water as we'd have liked, but still not bad. We never saw the rest of her party. Not when we got there, not later. Finally, they've chained off the openings and aren't letting anyone else in - but still she's saving these seats for people who have "gone to the bathroom". Clearly she was sent in to save seats while the rest of her party enjoyed rides, etc. Finally people started sitting in her saved seats. They had no where else to sit and no one else was being let in. She got very irate and apparently ended up cussing out a 14 year old girl (who to her credit immediately stood up for herself and said "Don't talk to me like that! You don't even know me!"). Last I heard, the woman was escorted out of the park.

I understand her frustration. She was put in a bad situation. Her party sent her in to save them seats and then selfishly didn't come to the show in a timely manner. She's stuck trying to save seats while people are sitting 4 in a spot that would normally fit 2 people (Hyperion ended up sitting on Mr. Gaia's lap) and I became more intimately acquainted with the strangers next to me than I really like - I was sitting closer to them than I do to my own family.

I think the SeaWorld folks really should have gotten involved much sooner. There was a guy walking in front of our area of seats and there's no reason why he didn't notice the escalating situation.

I do think that we were very lucky to only see these two situations. For the most part people were extremely friendly. I'm that weird person who starts up conversations with perfect strangers while waiting in line. No one gave me the hairy eyeball and shunned me. They all talked with me and told jokes and helped the time pass much more quickly.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Back from vacation

I feel like I've been gone forever. I so do not want to go back to work tomorrow - so I'm up at 12:40am. Sigh.

We did have a pretty good time. We saw all 6 parents (includes step parents) plus one set of the the grandparents (Mr. Gaia's). We went to Six Flags Fiesta Texas and to SeaWorld San Antonio. We saw Harry Potter 5 in IMAX 3D. We hiked up to Robbers' Cave.

We drove approximately 2000 miles. And managed to only have a minor instance of a traffic jam in Austin (where I also observed a man pleasuring himself up under an overpass).

In the 8 days we were in Oklahoma, it rained 6 times (at least). All of the rivers were swollen and the news was full of concerns about whether the dams would hold this unheard of amount of water. People who were boating for the 4th of July report tying their boats to light posts in parking lots.

My mother in law reports seeing egrets fishing in her lower pasture. I observed a ton of either snowy egrets or great white egrets (nothing to compare for size to be sure and I didn't observe bill color as closely as I should, concentrating instead on leg color to distinguish between snowy egrets and cattle egrets).

I only observed one red tailed hawk. I usually see them at least every mile in my home county, so I'm disturbed by this observation.

I saw my parents' alligator snapping turtle and their huge carp along with the catfish they are feeding in their pond.

I saw a few of the people I went to high school with. Those who are still living in my hometown have gained a lot of weight and look supremely unhappy. Those of us who have moved out have gained some weight and look more happy. Of course, this was one day so who knows what it is really like most of the time.

I took the ox beetles with me (I have two males now, still no female) and managed to keep them alive as we traveled from place to place.

I slept in 5 different beds while I was away and am so happy to be home in my own bed.

I finished my knit tank top. I actually finished it twice, the first time I tried it on before I added the straps and figured out that it might fit a 12yo. So I frogged it and redid it on larger needles (I did swatch it out, but I'm having some difficulty learning to purl in the continental method, so my swatch was really uneven). Now it fits nicely. I found ribbon in my mom's sewing cabinet (it's actually hem tape but it's shiny like ribbon and is the exact color I wanted).

I gained at least 5 pounds. So I have to really work hard the next few weeks to get my appetite back under control.

Monday, July 02, 2007


Well, I frogged my bag. It just wasn't going to work out. I couldn't figure out anything to put in the bottom to make it sturdy and have the right shape.

I decided instead to make this tank top. I'm making it in cream colored cotton. I need a cream colored shell to wear under a couple of sweaters plus I can wear it on its own. This is my second sweater and the first was an unmitigated disaster. So I hope this one works out much better.

I also like this tank top and this one looks really sexy.

My main problem is that my gauge is way too large for most sweaters. I'm using my smallest needles (size 2) so I don't know if I knit too loosely or if my yarn is just really heavy.

I hope I'll eventually have pics to post.