Friday, June 27, 2008

RIP Carmen

She fought the good fight, but just didn't have it in her to go on any longer. She passed away almost 8 years to the day that I brought her home as a speckled kitten from the Baltimore SPCA. Her last night was a good one, though--she napped on the sofa while J and I hung out with her. Not a bad way to spend your last day.
We don't have a definitive diagnosis, but J and I think she had feline hepatic lipidosis. If treated it has a 20-30% fatality rate, but if untreated (as with Carmen, we just didn't know she had it), it has a 90% fatality rate. So please, if your furry feline stops eating and isn't herself, make sure you have her liver enzymes checked out so you can keep her longer than we had our "evil mew".
This is how we'll remember her. In your face all the way!

Moonlight tour of DC

I highly recommend this way of seeing DC by trolley tour. We had a fabulous time. Thanks to Mr. Map, our tour guide (and DC native).

One of 19 soldier statues at the Korean War memorial. They all look like they're on patrol, and represent different stages of the conflict. It was a very moving sight.
The wall at the Korean War memorial. Instead of listing names like they do at the Vietnam memorial, there are faces of people who served in Korea etched into the granite. Especially at night, they look like they're floating.
The Iwo Jima memorial
We spent some time at the FDR memorial, and I can't wait to go back. It's arranged into 4 outdoor rooms, each representing one of FDR's terms in office. One focuses on the Great Depression, one on the work programs his administration instituted, one on WWII, and one on his death and legacy. There were quotes from his speeches on the walls.
A representation of the fireside chats

Bread lines, indicative of the Great Depression
As you leave the FDR memorial, this is what you see across the river.

The Lincoln Memorial. I'm almost 40 and this is the first time I ever visited.
Honest Abe himself

Saturday, June 21, 2008

DC visit, Part II

Carmen is on the mend, so I feel comfortable getting back to our DC trip. Thanks for the good wishes for her rapid recovery.

Today's installment is the gem and mineral exhibit at the Smithsonian Natural History Museum. Mom's favorite ;) First up, the minerals:

A sandstone concretion. Basically tiny quartz crystals congealed and cemented together bits of sand, to make this really cool natural sculpture. I'd love to have this in my living room.

A meteorite. It was discovered by someone in the 1700s in Arizona, and they used bits of it as an anvil. They didn't realize until the 1850s that it came from outer space.

And now for some gems:

My birthstone, the topaz. All 23,000 carats.

Topaz, part deux. This one was cut into a 1000+ facet globe. Kinda like a disco ball...

A ruby and diamond bracelet. Something tells me Mom wouldn't mind this for her birthday.

Sapphires galore.

The piece de resistance, the Hope diamond. Thanks Dad for being tall enough to get this picture! There was quite a crowd there. Isn't this beautiful?

We finished off by checking out the crystal ball. My dad was goofing around with the little girl on the other side. She was upside down in the crystal ball!

Friday, June 20, 2008

Carmen is sick

Poor bug has been under the weather all week, and stopped eating today. We decided tonight that someone should see her, so we just got back from the emergency vet. She's settling in for an evening of IV fluids and lots of bloodwork. Send good thoughts that she's fat and happy and home with us soon so she can torment Hobbes some more.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

DC trip, Part I

I mentioned I was going to see the parents as they visited my coast last weekend. We spent Saturday in DC, and saw a lot! In order to keep this manageable, I'm breaking up the day into bite-sized pieces. Today's installment: the bugs at the Smithsonian Natural History Museum.
The museum on a hot June day. The banners are advertising their butterfly exhibit. More on that soon!
A nectar-sipping bug with a tongue 4 times its body length. Even my dad was impressed. And he doesn't get that excited about bugs.
Butterflies! My dad said he used to collect some like the yellow one you see here. They had some neat information on the evolution of butterflies, and a really cool fossil moth.
After the butterfly exhibit, we dropped by the Orkin Insect Zoo--truly my favorite part of the museum. There are all kinds of creepy crawlers, from spiders to water bugs to--more butterflies! We saw one coming out of its coccoon.
One of the gazillion tarantulas they had in the exhibit. This one has orange knees! There was a bird-eating tarantula, and one with pink toes.
Look carefully and you'll see a log covered in giant cockroaches. Something I wouldn't want to find in my kitchen at midnight. Say it with me--ewww....
Next installment: the mineral and gem exhibit!

Friday, June 13, 2008

A week of firsts

First spinach. OK, so it's very young spinach, but it's growing fast!

First rose. The red ones should pop next week.

First strawberry. OK, the 3rd strawberry. We ate the first 2 before I could locate the camera. And I know it looks like a raspberry. But it isn't. I promise.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

White stuff in June

Nope. I don't mean snow. I mean hail. Big hail.

I apologize for the sideways video. I haven't figured out this newfangled "technology" stuff. If anyone has any suggestions on how to make it look like something other than horizontal hail, I'm all ears!

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Heading to our nation's capital

I called my mom last week to get her schedule for the Great Parental Sojourn of June 2008. They're hitting multiple states in the next couple of weeks, and I wanted to know which one they'd be in, just for kicks. Turns out, they're going to be in Alexandria, VA over Father's Day weekend. Since that's not so far away from here, and the next time we see them won't be until Thanksgiving, I'm taking a trip down south. I'm really looking forward to it. Too bad Mom left Dad's Father's Day present (from me and the rest of the kids) at home.

I contemplated taking the train down, to save some $ and not burn so much fuel. But heck, it costs over $200 for Amtrak vs about $60 for my gas-sipping Civic. This is why we'll continue to drive our cars...

My gardens, the early years

This is the raised garden bed I built. But my husband made it sturdy enough that we could actually move it from the garage to its final resting place.

These are the 9 bags of dirt I put into the garden bed. Plus a bag of mulch. All by myself!

Ta da! The finished product, surrounded by netting. Good for keeping out most critters around here.

Beans! I'm so excited.

A blurry picture of mesclun and spinach. No, I don't know which is which. Because I didn't label my sectors (that sounds very Star Trek to me for some reason). I'm sure I'll figure it out.

Onions in front, strawberries in back.

Some pretty weeds--I mean, wildflowers--in our yard.

Buds on the rose already.

The result of throwing herb seeds into my weed-strewn window box. I see some tarragon...

Monday, June 2, 2008

Beans for the summer!

I may or may not have mentioned that I was building a raised garden bed to grow some produce this year. My wonderful husband helped me put it all together, I added the dirt and seeds, and waited for something to happen. I also double-wrapped it in netting, because we have critters of various sizes that would love to eat new shoots of anything this time of year. I kept trying not to check it on a daily basis, because nothing is more disappointing that seeing a box full of dirt.

Then I bought some strawberries, and had something green to look at. And the spinach and mesclun started sprouting. I wondered about the beans.

Well, wonder no more. Seemingly overnight, I have at least a half-dozen bean plants, and they're tall enough that I'll probably need to stake them tomorrow morning. I'm SO excited!

For this summer, we should have a good harvest of basil, onion (2 varieties), spinach, mesclun, strawberries, and 2 varieties of string beans.

I'll take pictures tomorrow morning. At 6am. As I'm watering my plant babies. *yawn*