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When I moved into this house a couple years ago, my landlord said I could do whatever I wanted to the yard and garden (as long as I didn't piss off the neighborhood). I appreciated this leeway, because the landlord's idea of gardening is to lay out vast plots of mulch, dotted with a few hostas marching in a rigid row. It looked like the 'landscaping' at a bank parking lot, not like a place where anyone lived.

You may recall my battles with the mulch as well, since his landscaping guy (my landlord always has a guy for everything) seemed to think mulch should be laid down 8 inches deep. It was not simply retaining a bit of moisture for the plants, but was growing mold and mushrooms, and basically killing the plants. I shoveled that mulch down to two inches in depth, sharing ten wheelbarrow-loads with a neighbor around the corner, who in return gave me some plants she wanted to thin out of her garden. I moved the hostas to other, shadier parts of the yard last fall. Last week that same neighbor gave me two more wheelbarrows full of plants. Thanks to her and other neighbors (none of whom appreciate the mulch-and-hosta thing), as well as my inability to resist bargain tables at the local nurseries, I've instituted a lot more variety, color, and fun into the garden -- though it's lacking in any kind of design. But it's pleasing to watch things grow, even if they are not useful things like vegetables.

Here's some of what was going on in May:Collapse )



-- Grade, grade, grade
-- Conference proposal, so as not to abandon flange5 (requires much reading, and probably abandoning that idea since it surely won't pan out like I hope it will -- and then coming up with new-old stuff last minute)
-- Grade
-- Spring syllabi
-- Grade
-- Lydia and Bunny -- I read, but responding is not in my capability. I'm thinking, though!
-- Interviews? Hope for a better future?
-- make sure other account doesn't expire -- post that stuff!
-- NazoDi and Western excess
-- Mabo's magic touch
-- Read, read, read
-- domestic travel, but still exhausting
-- Haircut, laundry, domestic organization
-- time travel

Is this too much to hope for in the next month?


Such an improvement!

I don't know if Nino is supposed to be a dentist or a waiter in this outfit -- or maybe a dentist with a second job who mixes uniforms -- but I love the hair.

Ears and a bit of forehead = five years younger and infinitely less skeezy and unkempt-looking!

I also like Sho's jacket and bolo tie here. What?

And I hear they're all cycling all over Tokyo lately. Arashi, so awesome!

So, in other news, it turns out that kittens, while excellent at being adorable, are not so good at opening doors when one is locked out.

The other night I motivated myself to leave the house again in the evening to do laundry, so I loaded up all my laundromat needs and scurried out the pre-locked door as fast as I could to be sure adventurous Naoto wouldn't run out into the dark and rainy night. I was successful in beating him out the door, but not so successful in grabbing my keys off the counter. And while I had gotten an extra key made and a magnetic box to stash it somewhere outside, I had never quite gotten around to actually stashing it.

So I put my laundry in the car so it wouldn't get rained on and wandered around the house. In a burst of foolish security precautions, I had locked all the front windows -- normally good, since they are absurdly easy to open from the outside (this is how I've broken into the house on other locking-out occasions). The front door was unlocked because the lock was rendered nonfunctional by humidity (finally fixed today), but I had locked the storm door just so I wouldn't feel like anyone could just walk into my house. The storm door lock is surprisingly good, though I probably could have kicked it in if the across-the-street neighbor weren't sitting on the front porch having a very loud phone conversation. So I walked back around.

My landlord lives next door, but was not home, so I called (one of those times having a cell phone is useful!). Except he didn't answer his cell phone, which left me still standing in the rain outside the back door with kittens looking out the kitchen window at me, wondering why I wouldn't come back in and adore and/or feed them.

Ah hah! I was pretty sure that the window over the kitchen sink, where those very kittens were sitting, was still unlocked. This window, unfortunately, is more than five feet above the ground and probably not even 18 inches wide. But the kittens weren't doing much to help, and I wasn't going to break a window when there was still a chance I could get in the unlocked window. So I hauled over the trash can and climbed up, balancing gingerly while the plastic caved in under me. I pushed the screen up and managed to slide up the window and start to hoist myself up, both arms in first like a diver to narrow my shoulders.

And of course Naoto took the opportunity to leap out and race into the darkness. He is so unhelpful! I figured there was no point in chasing him when I had no way to put him inside the house again securely, so I continued to try to maneuver myself through the tiny window.

Well, I got partway in. Imagine, if you will:

Except Pooh seems to have something to put his feet on -- mine were dangling at least four feet above the ground. I hung there for a bit, thinking of Pooh and how I probably could have gotten through this window easily a year ago before my hated job made my ass so much bigger than it used to be. And about where Naoto had gone off to and whether I'd ever find him. *sniffle*

Naru came over and licked my nose. And then bit it, since that's sort of her thing. Well, it was mildly motivating, so I grabbed the edge of the sink and used all my pathetic upper-body strength to scrape my recently expansive hips through the narrow window and giving myself some awesome bruises down my belly and sides in the process. I even managed not to fall into the dirty dishes or break any of the clean ones in the drainer.

Keys collected, window re-screened and closed, I went out with a flashlight to hunt for Naoto, who was happily rolling in a pile of wet leaves at the back of the yard. (This was actually a little frightening, since he's kind of the same color as the leaves, and here I was in the dark trying to tell whether this thrashing pile of leaves was my cat or whether there was a raccoon or a skunk or a monster in there.)

And then I did my fucking laundry, which didn't seem worthwhile since all the laundromats around here seem so dirty. Speaking of which, does anyone know whether Rent-a-Center is a scam? I don't want to buy a washing machine in the hope that I'll be moving next summer, but laundromats do not make me feel clean.


I didn't buy any of their expensive yarn

So I am lame about forgetting my camera when I go to photogenic places -- hence no pictures from the harrowing field trip to the American Shakespeare Center in Virginia. I also forgot my camera last weekend when my college friend who lives two hours away expressed an urge to visit the "Open Barn" event at a llama farm outside her town.

Yes, a llama farm. These people have a huge herd of llamas, from which they make yarn, I guess. Well.

Fortunately, other people send the pictures they take...Collapse )

For a limited time only...

Tomorrow at the crack of dawn I am dropping my kitties at the vet so Naoto's fluffy little balls can get cut off and Naru can have a bit of abdominal surgery. Naru still seems really tiny -- Naoto's a lot bigger and heavier -- so it seems wrong to subject her to this, but the vet says they are the proper age for spaying and neutering, and I need to have them fixed at the same time so Naoto will feel less like rough-housing when Naru needs to recover. Poor little things. I shall spend the weekend trying to keep him from jostling her, I guess. RIP, Naoto's balls.

Big excitement, huh?


So stupidly awesome.

It is really kind of silly how many times I just watched that Pocky CM. But really, how many ridiculously fabulous things can they pack into one CM?

And "Tabetai!" I laughed like a loon. I am clearly sleep-deprived.

Back to grading. Have I mentioned how much I love that students don't use the opportunity when I give them class time to revise their homework after we've learned something new? Maybe I should watch the CM after every paper so I can re-cheer myself.
I decided that when I’m not working this summer, I should try to catch up on dramas. Like, from scratch. And maybe because it’s June, I went for a super-old Nino drama, Akimahende! (1998), which I'm not exactly recommending (but maybe I was just in a bad mood all week? Maybe this actually is a decent drama?). The exclamation point is part of the title, not my enthusiasm.

The title is the main character’s favorite Kansai catch-phrase and means something like an all-purpose ‘you shouldn’t do that!’ She uses it a lot because she’s constantly scolding someone about their behavior. And while the family may think she's the housekeeper, she's got a secret!

And Nino’s like fifteen. For real.Collapse )


I am so juvenile...

Diabolical plans?

Since it seems like the only legitimate thing to do with my life at this point is to become a crazy cat lady, I have acquired two crazy cats. One of my actually decent students (she’s thirty and therefore places a bit more value on her education than the kids who never particularly liked school in the first pace but just don’t know what else to do with themselves – not the right reasons to go to college!) hooked me up. Her sister in Tennessee has a house full of unneutered cats, and one had kittens in April, bringing the population up to fourteen. !!! I get a little frustrated with people who let their pets get knocked up all the time or run around fathering offspring everywhere. According to student, sibling pets in this household have produced offspring – ew!

Well, my kittens are littermates who pretty certainly were fathered by a neighbor cat, since he’s the only orange one in the general area. But there is clearly some inbreeding in their family tree, because they are polydactylic cats, sometimes called Hemingway cats, since apparently Ernest Hemingway liked six-toed cats. Wikipedia tells me that these extra-toed cats were also valued as ships’ cats, since their extra toes make them agile climbers and hunters – they almost have opposable thumbs. Crazy.

Because I am a dork, I have named them dorky names that no one can pronounce. (It’s really odd to me that people have such a hard time mimicking the sounds of unfamiliar words – I don’t remember having trouble with this ever, though I am incapable of doing stuff like rolling my Rs. But vowels are fine.)

Anyway, Naoto and Naruse, who spend a lot of their time chasing and stalking each other around the house.

KITTEN picspam!Collapse )


One of my colleagues was diagnosed with Vitamin D deficiency. That's how gloomy it is around here.