Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Toy Temptation

The Kindle 2 is out.

I have to say, it definitely intrigues me... But, for now, I think it is more of a toy fantasy than a useful tool.

I use the library a ton, and buy what books I can used. The books I generally buy new are knitting or other craft books (as references), and then I like being able to copy them for take-along projects or write on the pages, etc.

I could see it being useful for someone like Daniel, who tends to buy a lot of new books and read them once before moving on.

To make it useful for someone like me, I would love a feature such as some sort of subscription fee you would pay to your local library system. I would gladly give Seattle Public Library $X / month to support them and have access to books on the e-book device... I guess that is somewhat the same model that the Microsoft Zune supports; you pay a subscription rate to listen to a bunch of music and get to keep a set number of songs per month, or you could pay for additional ones, etc.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

A Meme

I found this totally random meme from the Velvet Cerebellum blog, but I thought it was cute, so here we go.


Talk about your partner...

What are your middle names?

My middle name is Marie, his is Christopher. He uses his middle initial in most email correspondance (as part of his address). I tend to not use my middle initial unless required.

How long have you been together?

2+ years, since December 2006

How long did you know each other before you started dating?

El Zilcho. He found my ad on Craigslist.

Who asked whom out?

He responded to my ad, but I actually asked him out; my friend was having a dress-up party and he came over for that. Turned out the party was actually the next day, which we found out after driving to my friend's apartment and seeing her not in a frock, but in pajamas... but he came back (again!) for the real party!

How old are each of you?

I am 27, he is also 27, but just barely. :) We're about 7.5 months apart in age.

Whose siblings do you see the most?

Hm, I think we're about even on this one. Although I think we've seen my brother a few times more than his siblings. I have one brother and one sister; they are both married and both live in Maryland. My brother is out on tour a lot as a musician, so he has come to us a few times in Washington. We also saw my siblings when we both went to Maryland when Daniel was interviewing with some Navy department. I have seen his brother and sister in law twice, and his sister once (at his brother's wedding). Although, now I talk to his sister in law a lot! :) (Hi, Dawn!)

Which situation is the hardest on you as a couple?

Being apart. When he lived in Washington, we were separated by an hour ferry ride plus travel time to and from the ferry. Saturday, he is leaving for Japan for at least 18 mos. On the upside, it is a direct flight west from Seattle to Tokyo... and we have the Interwebs, Skype, and other means of communication, so that is neat.

Did you go to the same school?

No. Although my brother went to the University of North Texas, which is relatively close to where he grew up. I think his sister went to UNT, too, if I remember correctly.

Are you from the same home town?

Not even close! He is from a suburb of Dallas, and I am from a suburban / rural town: Tulare, CA.

Who is smarter?

Hm, will my pride allow me to say he is smarter? Probably not! :) We are both certified engineers (or is that certifiable?). He is very logical and concrete. I can pull that off when absolutely necessary, but I prefer to be more free-wheeling and creative.

Who is the most sensitive?

I would say he is. He can read me much more easily than I can read him, although I can mostly tell what is going on behind his somewhat stoic exterior.

Where do you eat out most as a couple?

We probably end up in pubs the most, but we love to eat out, which is odd because I love to cook. I'd say it's between Japanese, Mexican, and pubs / diners.

Where is the furthest you two have traveled together as a couple?

We've been to both ends of the US - San Diego & DC, together (though we didn't fly together either time). We also went to Victoria, BC with his parents two summers ago.

Who has the craziest exes?

I probably dated more people than he has (in fact, I am pretty certain of it), but all of mine were casual "OK, I'm bored, let's not call each other any more" type of dates. I don't think either of us has any crazy exes.

Who has the worst temper?

I probably flare up more easily, but I also stop being mad fairly quickly, too. He very rarely gets mad, but it is pretty obvious when it happens, although the good news is that he settles down quickly, too. :)

Who does the cooking?

It depends who's house we're at. Although it took a while for us to start really cooking for each other. He works more than I do, so if we were eating in at his house, I might start cooking by default so it's ready when he gets home.

Who is the neat-freak?

Me! I am horrible. I stacked his coins in the hotel room we're in! :) I think it's because I live in such a tiny space, that if one thing is out of place, I go insane. I am very particular about how clean it is, which I am sure makes him laugh because he always tells me how much particulate matter is on my hard floor at home. :)

Who is more stubborn?

I don't know! ... Probably him. If I can see a good reason why I should acquiesce to something, like, oh, I'm totally wrong on a subject, I will usually bend.

Who hogs the bed?

Him! He also is good at stealing the sheets or sleeping pad when we're camping. Mostly he waits to hog the bed till I get out of it, though.

Who wakes up earlier?

I do, as a matter of course. For sure I wake up earlier on weekends, but I usually knit or read or amuse myself till he rises. I also start work at 6 AM, so I am out and about pretty early on weekdays, too. He sleeps in if he can help it.

Where was your first date?

We had dinner at this Trinidadian restaurant in the University district. It's quite good! They had just opened a couple of weeks before, and I had read the review in The Stranger and thought it sounded tasty. We also saw my pilates teacher at the restaurant on our first date. :)

Who is more jealous?

I don't think either of us is jealous. If he is, he never showed it. I am, weirdly, friends with many guys I dated, but it's just platonic. His best friend is this girl named Kathy, and I guess I was briefly, minutely jealous when I figured that out, but now that I've met her, I love her, too, so it's all good! :)

How long did it take to get serious?

We dated on the weekends for a while, and I think it took a few months before I caught him calling me his girlfriend to someone, something I'd never heard anyone refer to me as! It took me a while to introduce him as my boyfriend... I wasn't used to saying that word, either! :) So I think that did it for me. Then we briefly broke up about a year after we started dating, and that week when I thought I was single again sucked miserably for me... I am scared because we'll be apart for a while coming up, but I am confident we have a strong relationship, too.

Who eats more?

I think he'll eat more at one sitting, but I will constantly graze through the day, and I think that bothers him because it just looks like I'm indiscriminately eating all the damn time. My stomach feels much better when I can eat small amounts throughout the day, punctuated by relatively small meals.

Who does the laundry?

Mostly me, but I am thankful he knows how to do laundry! (Except I don't know if I trust him to wash all my clothes that can't go in the "normal" warm water loads and have to be hung to dry...)

Who's better with the computer?

I'm fairly good, but I will concede and admit that he is definitely better with the computer, solving issues and whatnot. He built one a couple of years ago for himself, and the one thing I still chuckle at is that he bought the Windows OS without asking one of our Microsoft engineer friends first.

Who drives when you are together?

It depends where we are. Usually I would drive in Seattle because we would have access to my car. In San Diego, he's been driving because it's his rental car, although I need to go today and have a nail extricated from a tire!

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

San Diego

I shall have to wait to post pictures, but I am in San Diego till the 21st.

I decided to come down and stay with Daniel on the Pt. Loma submarine base, until he had to leave for Japan. Plus, it's San Diego, and no sense staying in cold and blustery Seattle when I could be sunning myself on the cheap! :) The view here is incomparable. Our hotel room is roughly 20 feet from the Pacific ocean, and the table where I work is next to the window facing the ocean. I have gotten to see such awesome things while sitting here - many F-18's, an E/A-18 Growler, helicopters, a submarine being tugged out of harbor, the USS Ronald Reagan aircraft carrier shipping out, a couple of Destroyers coming through, and a daily parade of old-time Spanish sailing ships, ferries out to Coronado Island, and private sailboats. The Reagan had incredibly loud speakers - they were giving out instructions to the crew, and I could hear them from probably a couple hundred feet away! I guess when the boat is several hundred feet long, you need good P/A systems.

My manager was great and agreed to let me telecommute from down here. Which shouldn't be a problem, anyhow. Our whole group does it, and it saves us from having to take extraneous vacation when in fact we'd be lolling around for 9 hours a day, anyhow. Plus, I can't get back on the base without Daniel's ID, so there is very little reason for me to leave base while he is gone at training.

I got in late last Thursday, and after we both finished work on Friday, we went jogging up on top of a hill near Cabrillo state park (I think that's what it's called). It's also near a military cemetary. We considered jogging through the cemetary, but as a funeral was just wrapping up, we thought better of it and went around the top of the hill. I think I actually jogged for about a mile, total - Daniel thinks we covered about 2 miles. He was right about one thing - having an iPod does take your mind off of how much running sucks. And it was a nice way to see the landscape, although it is hard to stop and really inspect neat looking plants. I got a great view of Miramar NAS' airstrip while we were out there.

We came back to our room, showered, and went out for dinner with my friend Meghan. It's interesting, because I never was really friends with Meghan while we were in college; only after we graduated did we start talking (well, emailing) more. I kind of regret not getting to know her better before, but eh...we have time now! :) She got herself a G35 a year or two ago, and just got a house near San Diego. Yay!

Saturday we slept in, and met up with my friends Dave and Rich at the San Diego Zoo. It was freakin' cold! I ended up in a t-shirt, vest, and Daniel's zip-up sweatshirt hoodie. He actually bought a neat hoodie with a gorilla face on it at the Zoo. Dave and Rich drove down from San Luis Obispo to hang out with us, and then after the zoo, they departed for a romantic dinner and dessert somewhere off in downtown. We parked ourselves at the mall in the Gaslamp quarter, and walked around looking for dinner. We finally ended up at a place called Las Hadas (which, if I remember correctly, means "The Fairies"), and had some nice Mexican food, including a couple of free appetizers! (My favorite were the corn fritters with honey butter, but the layered bean dip was great, too). Then we went home because we were tired and my feet were sore. On the way, we saw many couples dressed up and out on the town for Valentine's day.

Sunday, we got to sleep in (again), and eventually we tottered out to have lunch. I then requested to be taken to a local yarn store called The Sheperdess, and was promptly disappointed with her selection. I expected more individuality, but maybe spinning isn't all that popular here in San Diego. She had some hand-dyed rovings, but most of them were from Ashland Bay, which is fine, but I wonder if the stockist spins because whoever had made the prepackaged lengths of roving had cut them, instead of pulling them to let the fibers stay whole. Sacrilege! Also, she had plenty of hand-dyed yarns, but some of the prices were truly outrageous. I think she was selling Curious Creek for $50 a skein... of merino. And the yardage was probably based on 100 g. But, it is her store, and she can do whatever she wants. They also had a small selection of beads available.

After that, we went to the Fashion Valley mall and had a horrendous experience trying to park. I'd forgotten what that was like. Thankfully, Daniel rented a Chevy Aveo, so we could fit almost anywhere. We wandered around the mall, and I ended up getting Daniel a shaving set at The Art of The Shave (or "The Art of Shaving"?) store. It is something I could see my brother getting into. They found a way to pamper men and make them take some time and use nice tools for a regular grooming chore. I broke down and bought a shaving brush and some cream for women. Supposedly the pot of shaving cream will last me 6-8 mos, which, if true, would definitely justify the cost. And the brushes are supposed to last at least 2 years. Plus, the "women's cream" used Rose Absolute oil in it - mmm! (Although, if I buy from there again, I would probably choose the Lemon scent). I was definitely glad to be able to get something for Daniel that I think he will enjoy in the long haul - his beard area feels softer when he finishes shaving - I think the oil and the lather are doing their job!

After we got home from the mall Sunday, we went to dinner at Solare, which was a nice Italian restaurant... I think. Our waiter looked like Antonio Banderas. Daniel ordered squid-ink ravioli, which were beautiful and stuffed with fish and broccoli. I ordered sausage-stuffed potato dumplings (big gnocchi) in butter and sage. Those were tasty! Afterwards, we walked to Cold Stone, and then drove back home.

Monday the weather turned and we were treated to lots of rain, wind, and cloudy skies. We mainly stayed in the hotel room and read, although we went out for lunch at a local Mexican place, and then my uncle Bob and aunt Carol invited us over for dinner. I haven't seen them in at least 7 years, probably more. The last time I saw them was when my sister ran the San Diego Rock & Roll Marathon... it was good to see family. I joked with Daniel that we were probably going to be served spaghetti and garlic bread (i.e. things I can't really eat)... what was on the table? ... Lasagna and bread. :) And a salad, thankfully.

Last night, Daniel got off training a little later than I anticipated, so we headed to the on-base gym. I ended up finding a little Crossfit-friendly corner, complete with kettlebells, jump ropes, medicine balls, and even an actual free barbell. I was doing a lot of other exercises prior to finding the corner, mostly using dumbbells to do overhead moves, and I did a few deadlifts on a weird machine that was *almost* free weights... it caged-in the barbell so that, theoretically, you wouldn't hurt yourself if you dumped the weight. There was also a machine that simulated using a barbell, but man that was too weird for me. Since there were no actual racks on which to place the barbell, I ended up using the kettlebells for swings, cleans, and jerks, and did a little work with the medicine ball. The best part was that guests are only charged $3 per use of the gym! (My first time in was free!).

Tonight, we are headed off to the Taylor guitar factory. My friend Peter is an (possibly the sole) engineer there, and he offered to give us a private tour! After that, I think we are headed to a local microbrewery for dinner. :)

Hopefully we'll get to work out tomorrow night, and then Friday, Daniel gets off around noon, so there will be some time to play before we both ship out Saturday. :-( I am going to miss him so much, so I am trying to make the most of the few days we have together here! Luckily, I am grateful for so many great friends in the Seattle area! I hope to keep myself plenty busy!

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Keeping Busy

Since today is Sunday, it is often a crafting, quiet day for me. Made more so today by the fact that Daniel is really, truly gone from Washington state for the next 18+ months. I already can't stand it, but I told him that the sooner he leaves, the sooner he gets back home.

I got home from buying groceries, and I decided to update on what has been going on.

The sleeve for my Wisteria sweater is coming along nicely. I started the cabling rows already. I think I have like 36 or so left to finish this sleeve... it goes quickly, too, since there are only three repeats per round!

I washed the Gotland fleece again. It was a pain dealing with something that was still so greasy, plus the fleece had absorbed some of the horrible deck coating odor that had permeated the house last week. ( I love that I got a note on my door telling me that the odor was "not harmful". Bull-Honkey!!!)

And, to sweeten the pot, I got the most wonderful care package from Kim! A fun dyed-fiber sampler, and lots of fun merino-blend rovings (I think there is a seacell blend as well as a cashmere blend in there!) and some raw merino and Icelandic fibers!

And now I am going to attend to my soup. I just took some boiled chicken thighs out of the pot to cool, and I am going to chop up some veggies - celery, carrots, onion, garlic, lemongrass, baby bok choi, jalapeno, rutabaga!!! :)

Daniel's in San Diego

I dropped Daniel off at the airport this morning. He left for San Diego. I know I'll see him in 4 days, since I am flying down there on Thursday after work, but I am still sad he is gone.

Tori organized a group dinner on Friday night to wish him Bon Voyage. We went to Lalibela, an Ethiopian restaurant. It's been a while since I've eaten Ethiopian food, but man it's tasty. Lots of interesting spices! We got three giant combo platters, so 10 people had more than enough food for the princely sum of $93 (without alcohol). The platters that held the food had to be at least 24" in diameter. If you have never eaten Ethiopian food, there are no utensils, but your food comes with a basket of injera, a spongy flat bread reminiscent of a giant crepe or pancake. You tear off pieces of the injera and use it to scoop up the food. Our combo platters also had a piece of injera covering the bottom of the plates, presumably as a sponge for the foods.

Kris and Randy were set to join us, but according to later reports, they ended up at ... another Ethiopian restaurant a block away from us!

After dinner, we caravaned out to a nearby Baskin Robbins, and I actually had ice cream (sigh). Although it was entertaining to watch some of the boys take pride in their 890 calorie (really!) desserts. I can't believe B-R actually has a sundae dessert that is over 1500 calories...


Here is a shot of Daniel wearing one of the woven tabletops on his head:

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Sunday Dinner

Earlier today, I made it to the Ballard Farmer's Market.

In case you happen to not live in Seattle, various neighborhoods around the city have farmer's markets at different times during the week, so I suppose if you were really dedicated, you could go buy fresh-off-the-farm produce about 5 or 6 days a week! (Of course, some of the neighborhoods don't run the markets year-round). Ballard, however, runs 52 weeks a year. And it's within walking distance of my condo, which is even better.

I picked up some carrots, Brussels sprouts, celeriac (celery root), sunchokes, potatoes, and a bottle of hard apple cider. Let me tell you, if you have never had freshly picked carrots, you are in for a treat - they are super sweet and crunchy!

I had also picked up some sausage and other vegetables, including peeled cippolini onions, at Trader Joe's the day before.

My grand vision was to make a large pot of soup or stew, using the sausage.

So, I heated up some olive oil, and cut up some carrots, the celeriac, the cippolini onions, sunchokes, potatoes, and some turnips that I had in the fridge from last week's farmer's market. I also mashed some garlic cloves and threw them in. I tried to make all the cut vegetables approximately the same size. I then cut up the sausage I had purchased at TJ's, and in it went. The package of sausage suggested cooking them in beer, so I grabbed the last bottle of my winter ale from Pyramid brewery, and tossed that in, then added water to coat. A couple of pinches of salt and some ground pepper, a couple of bay leaves, and I let the soup simmer away.

Here's a shot of the soup it in it's raw state. (I would like to note that the dutch oven Daniel bought me is one of the most awesome gifts ever; I have used it a ton already!)

After it was done, I let it cool and stored most of it, as well as giving myself a portion for lunch tomorrow. Then I served myself a bowl for dinner.

You know what? ... It's bitter. I think it was the turnips, or maybe the beer (it was a tad hoppy). I kind of wish I knew of a way to take out the bitter flavor. It's not horrible, and in fact you can overlook it when you are eating the solids without the broth, but it's there.

Anyway, this is a learning experience for me. I don't think I will add turnips (or maybe not so many) next time, or maybe roast them before I add them in. And I usually use a much lighter beer, like a hefeweisen, which is created to be less bitter, so that might have something to do with it.

I briefly thought about adding something sweet to take away the bitterness, but that would be such an odd flavor that I decided against it.

Any ideas or suggestions?