Friday, June 29, 2007

Auntie Spider Girl

Here's a picture of me and my cat, trying to get some reading done.

One of my dear friends recently complained that I'm not blogging enough--how will she keep track of what I've been up to lately?!

Maybe I've been reading too much? (I've only gone through five or six books in the last two weeks, so that can't be it...) :)

Anyway, I thought I'd make a mini post of some random things to catch her (everybody) up to date.

1. I am a new Auntie! Jeff's sister had her baby three weeks early, and we are off to Victoria see our new niece tomorrow. Her name is Avery.

While in Victoria I'll also get to see the new house Tai and Chris are renting--I've been advised to bring my gardening shears so perhaps it will be a working weekend...

2. Adam and Kira visited me and snapped up twelve pots of the windflowers on offer from two posts back. Bless 'em! I need the room in my garden. I have planted all the new dianthus and lavender that my mom treated me to--the dianthus plants have names like Rasberry Swirl and Strawberry Sorbet , makes me hungry just reading the tags.

Kira also informed me (after consulting her GPS) that I have three geo cache sites within 500 metres of my house. Treasure, of sorts. Intriguing, no?

3. I have given my notice at the Dentist Job. Now that I'm back from Italy (and don't have to supplement my income for the purposes of spending it on gelato and knock-off Prada purses), I feel no need for having two jobs. I am forseeing soft and warm summer evenings where I'd much rather be out grubbing in the garden than rinsing off bloody pliers.

4. And after I gave my notice, I serendipitously learned that I was getting a raise at my daycare job. It's the first real one in eleven years (I didn't count the 5 cent and 10 cent raises respectively) so I just about fell off the chair I was sitting on when I heard.

I had to leave that staff meeting early to get to one of my last shifts at the dentist, and I let our new administrator know that I had to be going to my other job by seven.

He said: "Why did the daycare worker cross the road?"

Me: Why?

Him: "To get to her second job."

I was all prepared to laugh politely and then think bitter twisted thoughts about being underpaid, but then he gave me the good news.

Well, I'm still underpaid most likely, but I'm happier in the moment.

Okay, I blogged! Now back to my book! (Don't worry, Mom, I'm almost finished with 1000 days in Tuscany. You know, the problem is I read more than one at a time....

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Mii and My Wii

Don't you just love it when you get a new toy?

Oh, I wouldn't have one except we fell prey to the siren call of the impulse purchase after an afternoon spent at Kim's house, playing with her Wii.

I didn't even really know what a Wii was until she explained over cups of tea why her arms and shoulders were so tired and sore that day. She had been boxing on her Wii, you see.

""I'll show you ", she said. "But first I have to draw my blinds, or people walking by on the street will think I'm crazy".

A Wii (pronounced "wee" as in 'very small' or 'I have to go') is a gaming system that exercises more than your thumbs. You actually have to move around and expend real energy to play. My friend held a small remote strapped to her wrist in one hand and another smaller one in her other hand. She started up the Wii Boxing game and then demonstrated how it all worked by punching the heck out of the little cartoon guy on her TV screen.

She swung, she punched, she ducked, she danced back and forth on her living-room floor. She glared fiercely at her animated opponent, and then finally gave him the 'ol KO. He was down for the count!

It looked so fun Jeff and I had to try. There we were: insanely punching the air with all our hearts, and having a blast.

We played virtual tennis too, swinging the Wii remote like a tennis racket. And bowling too!
(As in life, I wasn't very talented at tennis and bowling, but I rocked at boxing! ) (Oh, and there's golf and baseball too..)

So now, three days later I have a Wii system of my own--its great exercise, really! And yes, you do sort of look silly hopping about in your living-room, but apparently it's rather a popular game, and it's only me who's never heard of it. I've been missing out. :)

A few people on the internet have actually posted their own Wii "Weight Loss Experiments" and had some success. The YouTube movie I post here is a compilation of footage put together by one of the guys who lost weight by playing with the Wii gaming system for half an hour a day for a month or so.

It so totally beats eating carrot sticks! I actually get out of breath playing this thing, and my triceps don't know what hit them. (Ah, I am so totally trying to justify blowing more money on video games...)

Come to my house and I'll let you play! :)

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Alive-o Again..and in the Garden

Well, I've coughed and honked my way through a dilly of a cold these last few days. I'm rather sick of it actually.

At least it didn't stop me from getting in the garden. I've spent hours out there this week.

A good thing too--it needed attention after almost a month of getting along on its own while I was in Italy. Everything exploded into bloom while I was gone. Remind me not to go away in the spring too often--its too pretty to miss!

The foxgloves and peonies and campanulas are in full bloom. But the red-leafed shrubbery in fromt of my kitchen window badly needs a haircut.

My favourite rose at the end of my driveway...sometimes a golden colour, sometimes almost pink, sometimes orange. A delicious smell too. I wish I knew what it was called.

Alas, the leafy green ground-cover and pink-flowered geraniums in the background of this photo are deceptively pretty and have to go. I have started a weeding/giveaway campaign to rid myself of these over-enthusiastic lovelies because they are choking other plants out. They are bishop's weed and Geranium 'Claridge Druce' respectively. I started to read up on them once I realized I was entertaining murderous thoughts about them.

I learned: Bishop's weed is a fast-growing ground-cover and lovely if you need to cover large area, but its very invasive and hard to get rid of-- it was popular in Victorian times as a border plant; according to the article I read there are plots of land abandoned a century ago where the only evidence there was once a garden are the thriving mounds of bishop's weed.

As for the geranium called 'Claridge Druce' (I was glad to find its name as I have so much of it), it is a very popular and hardy species, but if you live in the Pacific Northwest(which I do), its will go forth and multiply like a bunny. Okay, more like a weed I suppose.

It's so pretty I hate to pull it out...but my mind is made up. Mom, if you want more, bring me some pots. You can have as much as you like. Kim, Nell, anybody else?

Ah, more pictures of flowers in my garden.....

You know, while I was away I encouraged friends like Kim to come over and share my perennials.
Please! Take some! :The cry of the perennial plant gardener with too many plants.
Anyway, I came back from Rome, scanned my garden, and concluded nobody had taken me up on my offer....but they had!
My friend Kim said she came over THREE times (with helpers) to cart away plants for her newly-acquire flower garden space. Sure enough, I can spot the evidence of that in her yard.
But I missed nary a one.
The offer is still open: this week Spider Girl's Special Garden Give-Away is Japanese anenome, aka wind-flowers. They are pictured below....

I have scads of them! Scads, I tell you!

They are gorgeous, but they are not actually in bloom yet (these are from last year's crop). When they are, they will put on quite a long-blooming show. But until then they make a sea of foliage and I simply have too many for one yard.

Any takers?

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Whoosh. Kablooie. Sigh.

That's the sound of the pouring rain cancelling my garage sale this morning. I can hear the weatherman's quiet mocking laughter for (firstly) believing his forecast earlier in the week that Saturday would be cool and sunny, and then for furthermore doubting him last night when he started saying that an enormous rainstorm would dump on my plans this morning. I was out in the garden late last evening and it was a gorgeous warm evening at that.
BAH! That's the sound of me cursing weathermen in general, and the fact that I'm down six dollars in garage sale advertisement fees.
Yes, and this weekend is also the time for the Denman Home & Garden Tour---those poor, poor gardeners who worked so hard to get their gardens in shape for it! I feel so bad for them!
I procrastinated on buying a ticket this time because I like to go with someone and everybody I asked was otherwise occupied this weekend. I guess that's the bright side: I'm down six dollars from the news ad, but I didn't buy the fifteen dollar tour ticket. Hmmm......that means *furrowed brow*, I'm up nine bucks.
Sigh. Not enough to cheer me up because....
KABLOOIE! KABLOOIE! *honk snort cough* That's the sound of Spider Girl waking up with a horrible sore throat and cold this morning.
And what's more I had a garage sale anxiety dream last night. Yes, that's a sign of my inner mental workings.
I dreamed that I slept in late on my garage sale day and when I woke up I heard irate voices outside wondering where I was. I leapt out of bed and ran out on my balcony, and there were all these people in my yard carrying various posessions of mine around in their arms that were NOT part of the garage sale. I tried to call down to them but my voice was so hoarse I couldn't talk (that part of the dream was prophetic anyhow).
I ran out willy-nilly in my pajamas and decided to sell the stuff anyway they were holding to them anyways, just to placate the crowd. In the dream I made pots of money, but it wasn't a very fun time.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007


I'm so happy about something I've just heard today.

And I'm just bursting to tell the news, but I guess I have to wait until the person (people) involved shares the news first.

Yes, I'm in a state of happy frustration.....

So instead of telling you what's up, I'm going to post this picture of a bride and groom I saw in Rome. I think it tells a story, but I'll never truly know what it is.

They were young, elegant, obviously very much in love, and smooching in front of a panini, pizza & gelato stand.

Why were they getting their wedding photography done here? Did they own the stand? Was this the stand where they shared a slice of pizza on their first date? Did they have an insatial craving for gelato as soon as they spoke their vows?

I don't know.

But it begs the the people I'm so happy for today have a craving for gelato too?

Monday, June 11, 2007

Isabella's Garden

In the north of Italy, floating like a jewel in Lago Maggiore, there is an island called Isola Bella.

Long ago it was a barren, rocky place, but in the mid seventeenth century, a Borromean count decided to make it into a place of beauty, dedicating the island to his wife, the Countess Isabella.

An enormous amount of soil was brought in, an airy summer palace was built, and a many-tiered garden of baroque splendour was created.

It may be a little over the top... I mean, you have to appreciate a certain amount of rococo statuary...but it's truly one of the most beautiful places I know.

I was so happy to be able to visit this island for a second time.

Now I must leave off writing this post and go out into my own garden for a spot of weeding. Heh, my own garden is not quite as baroque and manicured, I can assure you.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Bite Your Hand Off

Let's all line up and see if the ancient grumpy pagan face will bite our hands off!

Yes, I admit it, it was my idea.

One afternoon in Rome, I dragged my friends to see the Bocca della Verita, the Mouth of Truth, which hangs in the portico of a small church, Santa Maria in Cosmedin.

The legend, dating back to medieval times at least, tells us that the Bocca della Verita will bite the hands off of anyone who dares to tell a lie while putting their hand in the gaping stone mouth.

Imagine having something like that in a courtroom! Depending on how superstitious you are, it seems this might work at least as well as swearing on a stack of bibles.

Alas, the old tales also tell how the Mouth of Truth was discovered to be somewhat unreliable--some bonafide fib-tellers managed to keep all their limbs intact after long as they worded things carefully:

It is said that the rich wife of a Roman noble was accused of adultery.

The woman denied the accusations, but her husband wanted to put her to the test by making her hand inside the stone mouth. Knowing perfectly well that she was lying, the woman used a very clever strategy.

In front of a group of curious bystanders who had gathered around the Mouth of Truth, the man who was actually her lover embraced her and kissed her. She pretended that she didn't know him and accused him of being a madman and the crowd chased him away.

When she put her hand into the mouth, the woman declared that she had never kissed any other man apart from her husband and the poor madman who had just kissed her. In this way she was certain that she hadn't lied and her hand was saved...

The Bocca is very old, dating back to 100 BC or so, and nobody seems to know its true origins. Some say it is merely a sinister-looking drain cover, or perhaps part of an old Roman fountain, but other archealogical evidence suggests that it is more likely that it came from a pagan temple, perhaps representing Oceanus, the god of the sea. One wonders what it is doing on the grounds of a Christian church... (hmmm..although it does funnel in people to see the remains of St. Valentine rather effectively as you have to pass through the church to exit...)

If you've ever seen the movie Roman Holiday , you will probably remember the scene when Gregory Peck's character pretends his hand has just been bitten off by the Mouth of Truth. Audrey Hepburn's startled scream was apparently not acting. His little prank was not part of the script. :)

Well, the Mouth of Truth didn't seem particularly hungry the day we visited (not a nibble on me), but despite its good mood my friend Tai wasn't taking any chances.

"I'm not putting my hand in there !" she announced, shaking her head and grinning .

And she didn't. Put her hand in the Mouth, that is.

But she did put her hand up its Nose.

Sunday, June 03, 2007

I Was Tagged, You See

While I was away in Italy, Hope and Dagoth tagged me. It's nice to come home from vacation and find out you're IT. :)

The meme? To list 5 reasons why I blog about the things I blog on my blog. Here goes:

1. I'm a photo-taking fiend. Even when I'm not in total-tourist-spinning-around-in-circles mode, my camera is never far from my hands. My blog gives me an excellent place to show off all my pictures that would never otherwise see the light of day--sadly, there's only so many people in daily life you can show the photos of your cat/garden/bellydance party after all.

Imagine my happiness at this excuse to post some pictures from Venice, for instance.

Venice made me think fantastical thoughts. Venice made me want to try on masks. It made me long to don an elaborate costume and attend a fancy-dress ball.

I settled for borrowing Tai's headscarf and sunglasses and pretending I was Audrey Hepburn.

2. I love to write. I've written since I was a child--half-finished stories, dream journals, some truly dreadful but somehow still amusing poetry (I was a big fan of the rhyming couplet), trip diaries, whole binders of notes composed to friends in math class. I have shelves full of notebooks that contain all sorts of dribs and drabs that will no doubt be useful when I'm famous for something and write my memoirs of eighth grade.

Blogging is a continuation of those notebooks. A little of this, a little of that. My blog is never terribly focused, and that's quite alright with me.

3. I love for people to read what I write. The wonderful thing about blogging is that there is the potential that anyone and everyone in the world to read what I'm writing. There's a vast random audience of people from Canada to Timbuktu that might be reading this. Not that there are more than a handful of people that actually see any given post, but I love the potential that my words are out there in the world.

4. I like to feel connected to people. I'm somebody who likes to strike up conversations with total strangers. If I meet you in a grocery store line-up and you have an interesting tattoo, I'll most likely ask you about it. If I don't, I'll be kicking myself later.

There are so many great people out there in the world, and there's no way that I can meet you all in person. How frustrating! But through blogging, I can interact with people outside my own little world--people with different beliefs and cultures and hobbies and music and senses of humour. And sometimes people who are the same. That's nice too.

The point is, if I didn't post this and that on my blog, then I'd never have known about them. And, what's more! they would have never known about me! Ah, can't let THAT happen!

5. I blog about the things I do because it helps me stay in touch. What a way to sustain friendships when you live far away from one another! Plays I've seen, songs in my head, the news story that flabbergasted me: I have to let them know. And it works both ways, of course.

I love reading about the little things my friends are thinking about or doing or even the last crazy thing they found on YouTube. I love the minutiae of their lives because I'm rather fond of them, and besides I'm often one of the main characters.

And it helps me keep in touch with people like my brother. I found out he rolled his truck through his blog. I found out he was a fencing enthusiast. I found out he's into geo-caching. I love seeing pictures of his garden online. (I already knew he collected toasters though...)

Saturday, June 02, 2007

Back From Italy...

I'm back from Italy!

I'd love to go on about it, but alas my inner clock is all screwed up and nine o'clock feels like my new bed-time until the jet lag wears off.

So I leave you with two photos from my trip to symbolize my drifting mental state at the moment: sleepy poppies in a lane in Siena, and a picture taken from the plane of a wee Italian island floating in the Mediterranean crowned with a little cloud.