Saturday, January 28, 2012

Saturday Link Roundup

I accumulate links and keep them just because I love them. So instead I am going to share them here.

This one is for SCB. It's adorable. Although most Julie Andrews-related things on the internet are adorable.

This one is for people with kids. Or people who know kids. Or people who are and/or were kids.

This is awesome even though I am not a Bon Jovi fan at all and I don't get terribly excited about Bon Iver either. This makes them both better:

This is a nerdy yet amazing photoshoot. Rachel Sussman traveled around the world to take pictures of the oldest living things, most of which are either trees or fungi. It makes me think of my favorite coffee table books, both of which I regularly want to cut up so I can hang the pictures on my wall. But I just can not be one of those people. So clearly, I need to travel to see some spectacular trees soon.

I just finished this fascinating book. The author was in his early twenties when he got a job working for the British government in one of their code departments, yes, One Of, there is a ton of infighting and he finally makes the point that when he is trying to help his field agents by getting their codes printed on easily hidden, easily destroyed-after-using silk, that for these agents being infiltrated into enemy territory, that for them it could literally be get them these good codes, or they will be taking their cyanide tablets to avoid being tortured for what they know. There is an ongoing alarming theme when he is convinced that the agents in Holland are all under German control because they are only sending perfectly coded messages (he has a whole crew of ladies devoted to breaking indecipherable messages because they have been sent under less-than-ideal conditions and the agents in Holland are the only ones that never send a miscoded message) and it turns out that every single agent they are dropping in is being captured on arrival and he has to keep sending messages to them just to keep the Germans from killing them all. And the whole book is like that. It starts slow but I ended up not being able to put it down because I wanted to know which of all of his coding inventions end up get used and if they help his agents and if they survive. So it is a long read and I may have glossed over some of the more detailed coding explanations but overall I highly recommend Between Silk And Cyanide by Leo Marks.

And apropos of that, I'm not positive Nancy Wake was in that book but she would have fit right in with some of the characters that Marks works with, like the astonishing Noor Inayat Khan.

And now I will stop with the links (for now). They were just piling up so I had to share with people who I think would be appreciative...

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Not Exactly Unexpected, But Biggish

So I may or may not have complained about the front yard on here in the past, there were two sad trees and a lot of lawn with no sprinklers. That we were failing to keep up with on the hand-watering during the summertime. And one hedge that I dug up and replanted with some agaves and random succulents. Still happy about that.:

Right now the trees in front of this are gone and we are waiting for a quote from a landscaping guy to come and rip the lawn out. He is also hopefully going to put in hardscaping and till in a big pile of soil amendments. We are hoping to add more paths since there isn't a giant tree dead center in the yard and that means you can walk through the middle of the yard now. And then we are hopefully going to add more trees. Not big trees, not sick trees, and not in stupid places, but yes more trees.

And welcome to California, I swear one of them is going to be an orange tree. Yes, succulents, agaves and an orange tree. There is a plan...but unfortunately all I have is a pdf scan of it now, so hopefully you can click to embiggen. The upper right corner is house and the lower right side is driveway, of course I forgot to label that. The existing paths are light grey and we want to add the dark grey bits. The stripes will be brick, also added to the old ones to make them semi-match. There will also be machines that rip out the existing lawn and till in a bunch of new soil. This is all the theoretical work that will get done if the quote is not unreasonable, and for which I most devoutly hope. Partly because bare-root fruit trees are on sale and it looks SO empty right now.

I am not trying to do anything exciting or artistic here, this is not my place and I just want something that will be solid and low-maintenance with lots of bees and butterflies. The landlord is prepared for a reasonable investment that will be an increase in the home's value in the long run. He's also seen me work and knows it will be cheaper if I do the planting and somebody else does the heavy stuff (realistic, that). I hope to include some sturdy plants like Mexican sage, California lilac and fuchsia and plenty more of those wacky succulents that I love so much. Along with some of the usual suspects like rosemary and lavender. I keep going back to this for inspiration and wishing succulents weren't so expensive. And debating with myself whether I could work in a few kangaroo paws... they did it here and I love it. I am wondering why all of my inspiration links are from Southern California gardens but I do have a full sunny western exposure here so I am going to go with it.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Things New Zealand Could Have Mentioned Sooner

Not much to report here right now, there are no Ngaio Marsh books available for the Kindle (sigh) but I am not allowed to take it to work anyways. This is the current lunchtime reading, a bit dry so far but perfect for 25 minutes a day. Then I get to read my Kindle when I get home. I just finished a series of short stories by modern authors trying to capture some of the magic of classic Sherlock Holmes mysteries. Some of them are fun, most of them are weird, a couple of them are quite excellent (the Lost World themed one was pretty hilarious in its weird way). I am considering investing the $6 in the whole set but unfortunately (the Kindle conundrum) I'm not sure if they're really keepers. The ones I read were fun but there is a reason I like to go to the library. Less commitment. And the library, so far, is pretty slow on the e-book front.

The only time I ever went to a Spike and Mike animation festival there were about three shorts that stuck with me. This one popped up again recently and I still love the combination of retro music and animation with total bonkers weirdness. I may post the other two yet.

Bonkers weirdness may yet be the theme of the week.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Happy New Year!

What Has Been Up
The party turned out really well, this is the first year we have run out of cider (but thankfully half of the guests brought wine so we made do). Some people were sick so we missed them but this is officially the first year when everyone who RSVPed actually showed up. Go figure.

I still haven't mailed holiday cards or peppermint bark. I figure at this point anything this late counts as a pleasant surprise. If it gets mailed out at all. Bleh. And I took the tree down tonight but I don't want to take down the rest of the decorations yet. I like them!

We spent Christmas without anybody's family and I know Matt missed the kiddoes in Reno but we didn't have enough vacation time to go see them. My sisters came down after Christmas so we mostly got our fill of their rugrats. It is interesting to see how they grow and change but a couple of them are still little nightmares to be around so it is a mixed bag.

I got a Kindle Touch for Christmas. It was a big surprise and quite a treat. And when I have a job that doesn't suck I will be buying books for it left and right. So right now it is classics like all the other cheap people who got Kindles for Christmas. My current favorite source is Project Gutenberg but I hope to selectively add some new stuff soon. Until then, it's Wilkie Collins and Jane Eyre (I have been told SO MANY TIMES to read that book). So far I am amazed that Masterpiece Theater has not gotten hold of Armadale yet.

Yesterday we went to meet Matt's parents on the boat and had a New Year's sail. It was a lovely day and there was plenty of wind so we had a grand outing. But it was sure cold! And then we slept on the boat and it was definitely not meant for tall people. I ended up crawling out of our little cubbyhole in the middle of the night and trying to sleep on the cushioned benches at the little kitchen table. So basically that whole night was awful and I need to go to bed around NOW.

And the job is still coasting along at Better Than Unemployment levels, but good lord do I hate being at work at 6 am (almost as much as I hate having a job that doesn't challenge me or require me to use my brain in any way). I am still waiting to hear from one real job and have found a couple more to apply to but the current job sucks up a lot of my energy that I would rather spend on job-hunting. Grr.

Projects For The New Year
Replace blinds in kitchen, drapes in living room. These are all antique and icky.
Find a rug for the bedroom? We have two small ones that make it much nicer but they slide!
Get rug pads for all area rugs small enough to slide. This is a must!
Clean out closets, possibly paint them? This has been something I have been avoiding since we moved in and I painted most of the house. They are pretty sad but also quite full and I need a better system for dealing with all of them!
Take more pictures for le blog.
Post more regularly now that work is less crappy and there might be more to talk about as the weather warms up and I do more stuff, theoretically.

I hope everybody had a wonderful holiday season and 2012 is a much better year for everybody than 2011 was! I am so over 2011!