Wednesday, June 27, 2007


I bought two columnar apple trees and was very unhappy to discover a month after I planted them one of them was infested, infested with aphids. They were all over the upper leaves and the ants were happily traveling up and down the trees doing their ant/aphid symbiosis thing. It's funny because the trees are right next to each other and the other one had about two aphids on it. This makes me worry about the general health of my tree, because I've read that insects will attack the weaker of the species and leave the stronger alone.

There they are, doing their aphid work. On the upside, though, doesn't my camera take nice up-close pictures? I continually marvel at its power, even though it is such a tiny thing.

I read that aphids don't like garlic, so I put an entire head of garlic in my food processor, added some water, pulverized the garlic in the water and then let it sit for about an hour. I then strained out the garlic and poured the water into a spray bottle. In the lower right corner you can see the top of the spray bottle, as well as the plastic spoon that came in handy later.

I sprayed the garlic water everywhere on that tree. And the healthy one next to it. I covered those aphids in garlic water. The aphids didn't really do anything. With a pesticide, they would have all died at once, but these aphids seemed to just sit there, drenched in garlic water. So I took the garlic itself and piled it around the tree.

I still had garlic, and figuring that it wouldn't hurt anything anyway, piled it on the leaves on top of the aphids. I wanted to send a strong (yet not fatal) message, that those aphids needed to move on.
The next day the aphids were still there. I gave up on non-violent hinting and started scraping them off with a spoon and dousing the leaf in garlic water. I did this for about three days, then got distracted and sort of forgot about the aphid problem. About a week later I looked and the aphids were gone. All gone. No ants walking up and down the tree, no aphids on the tree, no nothing. I'm not sure if the garlic thing worked, or the aphids grew up and flew away, but they aren't there anymore and the tree is growing. Yay garlic! And inattention!

Matt's Birthday

Matt's birthday arrived and he had to work. When I got home, I put up the Harry Potter birthday banner I got at the K/1 Flea Market, cooked dinner, set out the presents I had hidden away and talked to all his family members who are in the Central and Eastern Time Zones who called to wish him a happy birthday. Then I waited around.

Mmmmmm. Birthday Dinner. Pan-fried Cajun Tofu served with rice and a variety of vegetables.

When Matt got home, he ate his dinner and opened his presents.

Yay! RoboRally! His geek dream has come true!

Ohhh. Money! Such a largess!

Ah! Spiderman puzzle. (Also procured at the K/1 Flea Market)

Mmmmmmm. Raleigh Mennonite Cooking. What will he make me from this?

Then he channelled Harry Potter for three portraits.
Harry Potter--care free, with a dash of Bond, James Bond.

Harry Potter--fighting the dark forces

Harry Potter--with strong wand action.
I almost forgot to give him his birthday cake. What else but a Royale with Cheese from Pix?

Saturday, June 23, 2007


I got a bonus at work last week and I splurged on a hammock. It arrived four days after ordering it and Matt and I hung it that very night. I am excited to spend a lot of time this summer swinging in my hammock. Luckily, I have a week off coming up so I can really break it in.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

June 9: Housewarming

We had a great idea for our housewarming party. We would show a movie outside. Our back yard is totally set up for it: You hang a sheet from the bottom of the upper balcony, set up a LCD projector (borrowed from school) and invite people to have a seat. It was such a good idea.
Friday night, Matt and I hung the sheet, got the computer, projector and speakers all hooked up together and turned everything on. It worked! There was much joy. This was going to be so cool.

Saturday dawned gray and overcast. I hoped it would burn off once the day got going. Instead it started to spit rain. Spitting turned into sprinkling, which turned into showers, which turned into constant rain for several hours. It was chilly, too. We took down the sheet, threw it in the dryer and rehung it in the living room. Sigh. Everyone enjoyed the movie, but Ghostbusters would have been that much better watched outside under the stars.

The Food. Notice the unusual items pressed into serving dish status

Bill Murray! In our Living Room!

Our Audience

Project: Black Shelf Finished!

Shelf: $35.00
Spray paint:
2 cans of primer, ?$3.00
5 cans of black, ?$3.00
Hardware: ?$10.00

Items bought to be used on other projects:
Scraper: ~$3.00
Sandpaper: ~$ 2.00

Total money spent (estimated, as I don’t really want to have the real figure sitting in front of me): $61.00
Total hours (estimate): 5-6

Started project: End of March
Ended project: End of May

Blow by blow:
I found the shelf in a used office furniture supply place. It was tall and I needed shelving, so I bought it. It was also gray and a bit wobbly. My brother said that getting repainting it and putting new hardware on it would make it all spiffy. He loves a project, too. We loaded it into his truck (in a driving rain which started 3 minutes after I bought the shelf) and brought it over to the apartment.

I took out all the nuts and bolts and bought a complete new set because some bolts were missing and the current ones were a bit the worse for wear.

Then scraping and sanding ensued. The sanding roughed up things quite nicely. I then sprayed the primer coat. That didn’t quite work out as intended because I ran out of primer; one can wasn’t enough. Also, when spray painting out of doors, the wind kept blowing the spray paint away. It didn’t help that I was in a wind tunnel area of my building. I couldn’t help feeling smug that while there were marks on the cement where our neighbor had spray painted without putting down a drop cloth, I had a drop cloth.

Out of paint, I put the project on hold for several weeks while I bought more primer and extra cans of black paint, moved, did a bunch of other stuff, got back on task.

My drop cloth expired in the move. It was plastic and I think I used it for a trash bag the first trash pickup before they dropped off our trash can. I continued on with the sheet I made for Matt when he ran the marathon in 2005. The marathon route went right past the Fortress of Solitude so I made a sheet that said, “Matt, who needs toenails?” and hung it up as a surprise after I dropped him off. After the initial favorable reaction, the sheet hung around balled up under our bed. What are you supposed to do with a sheet with paint on it? It turns out you use it as a drop cloth when your plastic drop cloth gets used as an improvised trash bag.

I was happy to be able to paint in the pantry of our new house, for I knew there would be no wind in that room with no windows. This initial satisfaction gave way to horror as I realized that after I had sprayed a bunch of black paint, there was a very thin coating of black particles on my new floor. Horrors! However, it did wipe off fairly easily. When I painted a bunch of shelves in one day though, the paint overwhelmed the drop cloth and some soaked through to the floor. So I have bits of black on the floor. I’m sure I will find something to clean that up, but in the meantime, I am pretending it is dirt.

The project moved out back to the patio where I managed to get a bit of black spray paint on the door frame, just to keep my marking record steady. Finally, I was through with the painting part, although I almost had to make another trip to the hardware store. The last can was running out and I still had a bit to go. “Screw painting this perfectly,” I thought, “I’m going to make this can last until the end. There is no way I am not finishing painting today.” And so the last bit, which is the front, has the least paint on it.

Once everything was dry Matt and I assembled the shelves with the shiny new nuts and bolts and then tightened everything down.

Voila! New black shelf.

I learned in the project never to use spray paint unless you want to spend a lot of money. I originally bought two cans, but after I ran out of primer, I bought one more. I think I ended up buying two more. So five cans at $3.00 a pop. I could have easily bought black normal paint. Also, my shelf incorporates both black MATTE paint and Black SHINY paint. It wasn't too clear which was which and in my three trips to the hardware store, I managed to buy both kinds. Sigh.

And I’m not a finisher. I start out all fastidious, but after a point I want things done. I did this project with 15 minutes here and there and it took forever. I’m going to do my darndest in future projects to schedule large blocks of time.

Oh, but wait until you see the new black shelf against the beautiful paint I’ve chosen for the pantry….

June 9: The Grand Floral Parade....zzzzzzzzz

I love a parade. I especially love the Rose Festival Parades. I like taping off my space--there was a big controversy this year about this practice--and arriving early and seeing the street theater that is the time before the parade. I love the floats and the rodeo queens and, of course, the marching bands. I love waving to the people on the floats and clapping for everything , and standing for the flag as it comes by.

Matt however, is not at all thrilled by parades. He tolerates them, and will go, but they aren't high on his priority list.

This year the MAunts were away for the biggest parade of all--the 100th annual Grand Floral Parade. To bribe Matt to go, I bought tickets to sit in Memorial Coliseum. We would be watching the parade indoors, dry and with reserved seats. The tickets were spendy, but I figured a splurge on the 100th year wouldn't hurt.

I gotta say, watching a parade inside a sports arena is rather boring. First of all, it was cold. The air conditioning was turned waaaaay up. Secondly, we were very far away from the action. I should have brought binoculars. This far away, I couldn't call out the rodeo queen's names and have them wave to me, I couldn't check out details on the flag corps costumes and if I waved, no one would wave back at me. It was like watching the parade on TV, but without the annoying commercials.
We left early and I came home and napped. I learned my lesson. Next year I am back to duct tape and arriving early.

Matt pretending that he likes parades

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

June 2. Starlight Run

You've seen the pictures. Now read the text.

Matt and three of his friends from school decided to run in the Starlight Run. This is a 5K fun run that happens before the Starlight Parade, one of the three parades during the Rose Festival. The run takes place on the parade route and many runners wear costumes. It is an incredibly fun run, both to run (because of the thousands of people cheering you on) and to watch (because some of the costumes are incredibly cool and some of the runners in better shape wear skimpy things that cause inadvertent nudity while they are running.)

They thought of a lot of potential costumes, but settled on Little Bo Peep and her sheep. Costumes were made and turned out quite well. They even took place in the costume contest before the parade, though sadly did not win.

I went along as an athletic supporter and photo taker. I enjoyed watching all the runners come in and, in true Portland Fashion, saw many people I know. My favorite costume was the guy who was the Portland Tram. He was amazing and deserved to win airfare for two to wherever Southwest flies. Happily the judges agreed and he won first prize in the individual contest. Third prize was Waldo, of Where's Waldo fame.

Afterwards, Team Sheep took a long Max ride back to the car and ate some pizza.

June 2. Aunt Pat's Birthday

My oldest Aunt turned 65 today. She celebrated by inviting many relatives and friends. My Grandmother was the oldest of 15 children, so my mother has 41 first cousins. Many of them were present at the party as were some of my Aunt's friends.

The BroMAunts (Brother, Mother & Aunts) prepped all week for this party. Food was made, the yard was straightened, chairs were arranged all over the place. I brought strawberries and took pictures.

Matt and Chris put up a dart board and played darts. They even enticed some of the younger kids to play.

It was quite lovely.

June 2. Strawberries

Crap. It's the middle of the month and we haven't really posted anything. It's because we've been busy. Onward to the past.

I got up early to pick strawberries on June 2. I do this every year at the Pumpkin Patch on Sauvie Island. It's a pretty quick drive, especially now that we live in North Portland and can just go over the St. John's Bridge. Usually I have helpers, mostly my Mom and Jan, but this year Mom was getting ready for the party and I didn't get around to asking Jan.

I picked two flats in an hour and ran out of time, so I ended up buying a third flat.

What did I do with all those strawberries?

Two pints went to the neighbors

Half a flat got stemmed and taken over to my Aunt's 65th Birthday Party

Half a flat got stemmed and individually frozen

One and a half flats got stemmed, sliced, sugared and frozen

The rest were eaten by Matt and myself.

The berries were exceptionally good this year. It was at the very start of the season and we had some hot weather so they were very sweet.

The next day, however, my hamstrings were exceptionally sore.

Oregon Strawberries. Just another reason I love living here.

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

More Starlight Run Pix