Flowers and paint

Azaleas back yard Iris Lamp Little flower Magnolia leaves Peony Pink Azaleas Pinks Roses Water drops Whites

I took photos several weeks ago after it rained. We’ve been in a slight drought since and my irises have all died. The rose bush along the garage wall has blooms all over, but most of them are wilting due to the extreme heat we’ve had lately. Z went and watered all the flowers yesterday. The peonies started blooming so I cut one and brought it inside before they wilt as well. That one bloom is in our living room and makes the entire room smell wonderful. I didn’t think a single flower could do that. I should go take more photos before my roses are all gone. There are even more flowers popping up in the back and I don’t know what they are, but they are pretty.

The photo of my living room above shows how bare it is. We still don’t have any furniture other than a rug and coffee table. We should be getting the sofa next week though. Z got an email notice it was shipped. Today I ordered a tv stand for my study and the sofa-bed I ordered for the study should hopefully arrive the week after the living room sofa.

We spent our holiday weekend completely busy – at least I was and that’s how I ended up getting horribly sick. I never know when to stop or slow down until an illness or injury halts me in my tracks. So today I called out from work to stay home. I’ve had a really bad sore throat and body aches since Monday night. Saturday we went to Ikea and ran errands. Sunday we painted the living room. It’s beautiful now. Seeing the pale grey on the walls made me incredibly happy and lifted my mood a lot. Even Z said the room looked brighter. However, now I’m torn between what color to do our bedroom. We painted the study and dining room the weekend before and I thought I wanted the bedroom to be the same color as the study. The color is called Reflection and it’s a very pale grey with a blue tint to it. In some light the blue is more apparent, but in the sun it’s clearly grey. The living room color, The Big Chill, is more of a basic pale grey and has no tint to it. I really like it and since the bedroom is above the living room I know we’ll get the same sort of light from that side of the house so maybe I’ll use the rest of Reflection for the guest room. We still need to paint the hallway because we stopped at the corner so it looks a bit awkward when you look towards the stairs. The yellow color goes up the stairs and even part of the ceiling that’s slanted. Z complained a lot on how we will paint that section. Anyway, after painting we assembled the shoe cabinet and got rid of the huge dark shelving unit we’d been using because the previous owners left it. On Monday we put up the Ikea curtain rods, or tracks I should say. It’s their new track system where you can mount it on the wall or ceiling and put rollers on a track to glide the curtains across, which is much easier than pulling them across a long rod. We patched up the holes in the walls from the old curtain rods that were left and mounted the track system to the ceiling. It’s so much cleaner looking and works really well. I spent the next 4 hours measuring, cutting, pinning and ironing all the curtains for the living room.

We’ll be taking a break from painting this weekend, but I really want to get the stairway and bedroom done soon. I also need to choose wall sconces for the bedroom. I looked at several online, but after a while I didn’t like anything because I looked at too many of them.

perfume garden

There’s lots of thunder outside, but little rain so far. I hope it storms because we need the rain. We’ve so many plants around our house. Since I got into perfume I’ve become a bit more knowledgable about plants and flowers. Our gardens have irises, lily of the valley, snow drops, tulips, hyacinths and some other very pretty smelling white flowers in the back I can’t identify. We’ve also got azalea bushes all over and all of them are huge puffs of purple and pink right now. The white dogwood tree in the front yard has already bloomed and dropped white petals all over the yard. The gardens are nice, but for some weird reason they are full of dead leaves and weeds. The dead leaves I can understand, but what baffles me is the amount of weeds. It’s like the previous home owners paid a ridiculous amount of money to have this elaborate garden set up only to not do anything at all for it. It’s obvious the weeds have been there for more than one season because when you have a yard that’s regularly pruned of them they wouldn’t look as bad as ours do right now. I need to make time to do that. Also, the yard itself is in poor condition. The grass is sparse and there’s a lot of weeds. It’ll probably be a couple years before our yard looks as nice as those surrounding ours. The neighbor’s yard is so lush and pretty. It’s kinda funny to have yard envy, but I kinda get it now. Zach has been mowing the lawn and put weed-and-feed down so we’ll see what happens.

I’m still waiting on my sofas to arrive. I have rugs and a coffee table, but nothing to sit on other than dining chairs. We have Zach’s leather sofa downstairs, but I really want to sit in the living room or have a place to nap.

We bought a new bed. Our old one was the only fabric item we took with us from the apartment, but even that was too full of smoke smell for us to tolerate. I washed everything on the the bed that I could but the smell just came back because it was in the mattress. So Z bought a new one and it’s inflating in the guest room for a couple days before we can use it. It’s a much bigger memory foam bed than our old one. Our old one is either 8 or 9 inches and this one is 12 so I hope it’s better. The one we have now – although only 5 years old  – already has that hump in the middle of it. My linen bed sheets I ordered a while back also arrived this past week. I love them. I’d always wanted linen sheets. I really like how soft and cozy they are. The cotton sheets we have are nice ones from Target that I think are 600 thread count, which is really good and they are a smooth kind of soft and also make some noise though because they are so smooth. The linen ones are more of a textured soft and don’t make any noise at all, which I like a lot.

We painted the dining room today. Half of it anyway. There’s a chair rail trim and we painted a dark teal color to there and will do the medium grey called Earl Grey tonight. Tomorrow we will work on my study, which is where I am now. Seeing the cool colors go up on the walls makes me incredibly happy. I’m really looking forward to getting the whole house painted. I’ll take some pictures of the garden and dining room soon.

Oh look, the site is working again.

I got my website working again and it only took buying a house to motivate me to do so. Apparently jetpack was the culprit so I’ve take care of that for now. It was really a very simple fix, which goes to show how horribly lazy I’ve become with this site. Oh well.

Anyhoo…. HOUSE. Z and I bought a house! It’s an adorable 2-story cape cod style with hardwood floors that creak in that old-house sort of way. It’s a little charming, but a bit annoying in the middle of the night. Forget the quiet, discreet walk to the bathroom. The people next door know what you are doing if the windows are open – the floors are that creaky. We will eventually get them fixed though and refinished. For now I’m in yellowed shellac hell. Shellac (from when this house was built in the 1950s) turned floors a sort of pee-yellow hue and while it is nice we have wood floors, I’d prefer not being reminded of dried pee on them. Eventually I will get around to refinishing the floors and using a polyurethane coating, which will keep the wood its natural color. I don’t plan on staining. That may be a year or two down the road. In the meantime – RUGS to the rescue! Also, it’s hella echo-y in here. We needs some fabrics.

So far the our furniture consists of the bed, our desks, a new media console for the huge tv in the Z-cave (aka basement), dining room chairs, and our custom made farmhouse dining table that was delivered today! I would show photos but like many other things in this house – I have no idea where the cable is for my camera to upload stuff to my computer. We now have rooms to put things in, but right now we can’t find anything because it’s in another room and not less than three feet from us like it was in the old apartment! Things don’t quite have their places yet, mostly because we don’t have the furniture for it or decided on a consistent spot for where things should live in this house. Getting ready for work on Monday was a nightmare! Neither of us had any idea where anything was located.

Huzzah! I texted Z to find out where the camera cable is and he said it’s in the box with ALL the cables. If you knew how many cables this man has you’d know why I whimpered. Luckily I didn’t have to dig too far to find it. So here are the mediocre photos! Yay!

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table 2

table 3 - 1

table 4 - 1

Sorry, small photos I know, but I feel like I’m having to learn how to ride a bike again between using the latest version of wordpress and the new iPhoto (renamed Photos). You also get an idea of the yellowed flooring that runs through the house in these. It will be a while before I have everything put together the way I want it. Oh and the walls will NOT be staying that color. There will be painting. LOTS of painting. That chandelier is not staying either.

I honestly don’t know what the best part of moving into this house is because there are so many things I’m shocked by still. Like parking less than ten feet from my door. I can go out and do things and come back and not spend half an hour looking for a parking spot! I don’t have to walk three blocks and put money into a machine (or drive 40 minutes to the ‘burbs) to do laundry! I have a garbage disposal! My commute to work is 10 minutes! We don’t run out of hot water between both of us showering and washing the dishes at night! These are all such trivial things that we’ve not lived with for so long Z and I are sorta bewildered. Many who read this may laugh and that’s fine. But these things are Big Deals to us. We lucked out that the former owners took really good care of the house and updated it a lot because they planned to make this their forever home. They paid a lot to make the updates and the quality shows. It makes me wonder what they would’ve continued to do to the house had they stayed here. The flooring had green carpet all over it when they bought it so the fact that they tore it up must have meant they wanted to do something with it. The basement improvement was HUGE. Basically, had this house been in the condition it was before the last owners had it – we would’ve walked away. We don’t mind doing little things to update it, but major things that would take an incredible amount of time and money weren’t options for us.

This weekend we’ll be on the hunt for more furniture and running around. I will say this: buying stuff for a house is expensive. It’s nice that we’ve saved up a lot of money, but geez it can disappear quickly.

Mt Ranier National Park (aka Endor)

In late spring Zach and I went to Oregon and Washington for our annual vacation. We rented a little cabin barely a mile outside of Mt Ranier Nat’l Park for the first half of the week and then stayed with friends of ours in Portland for the second half. It was a lot of fun and now I’m wondering if Mt. Rainer has usurped Grand Teton for my favorite nat’l park we’ve been to thus far.  We walked along several steep mountain trails and one of them had us both thinking, “Where are we? Endor? Where are the ewoks?” It was full of tall beautiful conifer trees and everyone knows those are my favorites so I was in hog heaven.

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Nockamixon State Park

Over the past several weeks I feel like I’ve barely had time to actually be still and do nothing, or something I specifically want to do. It’s been commuting, working and house hunting with a large dose of family activities thrown in due to a lot of autumn birthdays and my parents visiting from Florida.

So. I’m going to try and post photos from trips and things we’ve done. Some of these might be really old, but it’s easier for me to start with the most recent events, which was a trip to Nockamixon. I didn’t get nearly as many pretty autumn leaf photos this year and it’s made me a little sad, but I did see plenty of them during my commutes each day. In fact, there are several large oak trees in the parking lot area of where I work, so each day I walk through a bunch of fallen leaves and usually have to be careful so I don’t get hit by acorns being thrown on the ground by a lot of squirrels in the trees. Serious hard hat area right before the front door!

Anyway, here are the Nockamixon photos.

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Dusting off

I feel like I’m proverbially blowing the dust off this site. I’ve not posted in a very long time, although I have thought about doing so on and off. It’s interesting how time flies by and I notice changes well after they’ve taken place.

So, where to begin? Maybe it would be easier to bullet point this. Don’t take these as an order of events chronologically though. It’s just the first thing that pops into my head.

  • Zach and I got engaged just before our 10 year anniversary. I was completely surprised by it. He suggested we go hang out in Fairmount park, specifically Shofuso, the Japanese tea house. We wandered the house and sat on a stone bench in the garden near some bamboo when he proposed. I cried a teensy bit and he looked like he was going to. My ring is vintage from the 1940s and I really like how delicate it looks with the worn millegrain around the stones and sorta filigree design. I had to send it back for resizing because now it’s cold outside I realize it was a little too big and constantly rolling around my finger. I feel awkward without it.
  • I got a new job I completely love. I was miserable at the property management place and was shocked when I was laid off from there because I was working on average 4 hours overtime each week just to get everything finished. People there dumped all the stuff they didn’t want onto me and then I got yelled at for things not being done right. That was on top of being yelled at daily because the maintenance there was awful and the tenants were mostly awful too. But now I have a new job working for an SEO company. It’s a completely different atmosphere. Everyone is positive and lively and courteous. They always say “good morning” to each other and have lively conversations. My boss is a clown and he knows it. He always wears comic book tees of some sort, even under dress clothes when he has meetings. He also drops the F bomb at least 10 times a day, but 99% of the time it’s because he’s joking around about something. He always teases everyone there. It’s generally known you have to have a thick skin to work there because you’ll be raked over the coal like everyone else sooner or later. Be able to take it and dish it out, but it’s all in jest. No one is malicious or mean to each other there. I have benefits, a better salary, and lots of job perks. I feel very spoiled there now compared to how much work I did at the old job and went home almost in tears all the time b/c of how stressed I was. My new job has me pinching myself almost every day because I think, “I get paid to do this!?” It’s basic administrative work and I help out some people in the office with collecting info for end-of-month reports and I do writing assignments for clients. I write silly blog blurbs and end up having 5 or 6 of them published a month for our clients. That just reminded me of some I need to work on next week for the VP actually….
  • We have a new cat. That sounds odd, like I’m calling our cat some sort of appliance or something because he’s “new” but oh well. I don’t remember if I mentioned this here, but my old cat, Bijoux, died last November. Oh my goodness, as I type this I just looked at the date and realized it’s 3 days shy of when she had to be put down due to a burst tumor thing. Ugh. She was 16 years old though and didn’t do much. Anyway, in July Zach was getting antsy to have another pet. He loves dogs, but since we can’t have a dog he wanted to get another cat. We went to PAWS downtown and ended up adopting a brown/grey tabby. His name there was Caddy, but we changed it to Bento – like a Japanese bento box. Zach says it is technically Mr. Bento. I mostly call him shithead though because he is quite a little terrorizing monster. He was quiet and sweet at the shelter, but when we got him home it was a completely different story. He’s the most talkative cat in the entire world! Everyone loves how talkative he is – try living with it! You barely touch him and he does his little, “mmmrrrrrrr” sound. He’s very good with inflections too and it’s almost like being able to read his thoughts he has out loud with his little sounds. When he’s frustrated or annoyed his “mmmrrr” sound will be low or go from high to low, just like a person would do when cursing or making frustrated noises. Sometimes he’s melodramatic with his meows, mostly when he wants food. The routine in the mornings is for me to get up and go into the bathroom where he will stand outside and try crying in about 30 different meow voices to let me know he’s hangry, NOW! I can hear everything in the inflections from him pleading with soft little cries to loud whining ones to demanding short bursts to full on cat profanity. He’s also very hyper and even though we bought him nice toys he only likes the cheap stuff or household items. Remember when I used to crochet a lot? I have a basket full of crochet coasters and those are his favorite toys ever, aside from the string on a stick. He can flick the crochet coasters around with his paws and shoot them across the room where he’ll go running after them, tumble himself stupid into a wall, door, or furniture and then roll on the floor with it and do it all over again. He’s not the sharpest tool in the shed as the saying goes and does some pretty stupid stuff, but it’s cute and since we’ve gotten him we’ve laughed a lot more.
  • We are house hunting. Since my job is out in the suburbs I have to commute each day, which is really annoying. When I lived in Oklahoma years ago I loved driving. Now that I’m on the east coast I hate driving with a passion. My commute is draining on me though and since we want to get a house in the ‘burbs anyway Zach applied for lots of jobs and had a big interview last week. He was offered the job but the actual offer amount and details will come this week. So we both might be commuting soon. We may carpool in my car since it’ll save us both some sanity and money. But for the past two months we’ve been looking at houses and it’s a little depressing seeing what I want to be able to afford and knowing what we can afford. There have been a few I think Zach would jump on to place an offer, but something nagging me is telling me we can do better. Who knows. We don’t need a huge house, but I do want some extra room and at least 1.5 baths. Most houses out here are older ones, so it’s a matter of finding ones that have been somewhat renovated that have more amenities and more baths.
  • I’ve become a beauty/fragrance freak. I used to barely use anything on my skin when Zach and I were first dating. My skincare routine was minimal and so was my make up. Over the past year I’ve become something of a dragon lady though – compared to how I used to be I mean. I’m still nothing compared to the SAs at most department stores and Sephora, who scare me to be honest, but I do wear a lot more makeup than I used to and have amassed quite a collection of beauty products now. I have at least 3 different skin cleansers, 2 micellar waters, 3 serums, I don’t know how many moisturizers, and then there’s my “holy grail” toner which is the M.A.C. Lightful one and some acid peels and acid exfoliators. Maybe I’ll do a post later of all the ones I’ve tried. I also have a lot more nail polish. Chanel is my favorite because the colors are so rich. I think I have 8 from Chanel. But the biggest addiction of all is fragrance. I’ve got almost 100 sample vials of stuff I’ve ordered from various decant sites. That’s not even counting all the ones I’ve already drained. I started a tumblr site to do scent reviews. They are more like little musings though because I’m not a professional and can’t pick out individual notes half as well as other frag blog review sites I read. I love wearing scents though. I know several love BPAL, but that site scares me a bit. I’m sure the scents are gorgeous and amazing, but it seems so cultish that I’m a bit afraid to even bother with it. I found getting samples from Sephora the easiest when I started b/c they have a great sample policy. Sometimes I’ll bother Macy’s people for samples too, but I find most department store SAs to be stingy bitches.
  • I’m still watching lots of anime. I have subscriptions to Crunchyroll and Funimation and usually have 7 to 10 shows I watch in rotation each season. Usually new ones with an older one thrown in here and there so I can watch the older good ones and not be too far behind with good new shows. Zach bought me the first two volumes of Natsume Yuujinchou, which is Natsume’s Book of Friends in English. The anime is in my top 5 faves and the manga is just as funny and heart breaking good.

Bento is crying his little head off. He wants attention now. He’s been sleeping all afternoon and now meowing in his, “I’m so neglected and miserable!” tone as if we ignore him and treat him badly. Spoiled brat. Anyhoo, this ended up being a longer post than I thought, but I’ll throw on some images anyway.

Hope everyone is doing well. I do read my friend’s blogs and livejournal posts, even if I don’t post too often, but I think we all know that by now.

Bento ledge samples

Yearly trip to Solebury

Last weekend Z and I went to Solebury Orchards for our annual fix of fuits and veggies and cider doughnuts. We’ll of course go again soon for the apple picking season. Right now, it’s all about fresh peaches and blueberries. I decided to get some cherry tomatoes this time too. Cherry tomatoes pan cooked with oil and fresh garlic over pasta may be dinner tonight.

These photos were taken with my new-to-me camera, the Canon Rebel T2i. I’ve not used the camera too much since I got it, but I am amazed at the quality. I guess most anything would look good over my old Rebel XT though. I’m still trying to get used to the video function. I need to read the manual again about focusing while filming.

Running running running. I ran 12 miles this past week. I do need new shoes though. Deciding on what new running shoes seems to stress me out more than other clothes shopping. I suppose because I know that whatever shoes I choose will affect my performance to a degree so I don’t want to make a poor choice. Constantly reading reviews, but trying to keep in mind my specific running style (moderate pronator with knock knees and a transitional foot strike b/c I’m trying to move from heel to mid-foot strike) has my head spinning a little. Talking to a runner friend at the bar last night helped a bit. She’s much more familiar with the shoes than I am.

Animes seen lately: Gosick (cutesy Sherlock-esque mystery), Night Raid 1931 (getting very bored with this), Say I Love You (cutesy romantic), Gintama (hilarious), more Attack on Titan (completely addicted).

Animes: Fate/Zero, Chevalier D’eon, Chobits, Wolf’s Rain

Due to the extreme heat wave we’ve had over the past week I’ve been watching a lot of anime. Some I watched many  months ago and need to write up my thoughts about them before I forget completely. I won’t call these reviews because I’m not good at reviews. These are musings about the shows I’ve seen so SPOILERS ABOUND! If you haven’t seen the shows and want to, you may not want to read my spoilerific blathering. Now, I’ll start with the oldest one first…

Wolf’s Rain: This is an early Bones production so the animation quality was pretty good considering its age. The dub cast for this was also really good. Veteran Steve Blum did the voice of Darcia and Crispin Freeman voiced the character I found most amusing, Tsume. Notice how I didn’t say my favorite character – because I didn’t have any for this show. So the 26 episode plot takes place in the future when mankind dies out via the end of the world (because that’s how it does) and wolves will reign supreme because Paradise will open. Wolves are feared and hunted by humans so they evolved by taking human shapes to blend in with society and survive. Enter the coming together of a rag-tag group of wolves who all have different personalities and don’t get along with each other but feel the need to stick together to A. find some girl called the Flower Maiden and B. get to Paradise – wherever the hell that might be.  The most I remember of this show was liking the minor characters much better than the majors – if any at all because ALL of them were rather bleh and…. how utterly, awfully depressing this show was to watch. Seriously, this was the show of mega SADNEZ. I trudged through this series. I could only watch one, maybe two episodes at a time because it was so full of despair and misery it became too exhausting to watch. The dearth of happy or even upbeat moments kept it from being a lot better. Death abounds and characters die constantly. There’s no silver lining, no happy ending, no glimmer of hope, no tiny dot of light at the end of the tunnel to look forward to. Death, chaos, and then… rebirth…. ? … ended the show. All the characters come back in some alternate reality on a rainy day with subdued colors, making it all look slightly depressing despite meaning to be a moderate “life goes on” sort of ending. Only… not because it just makes life look really boring and rainy. The end. Um… yay? I could’ve cared less about the main character Kiba and I might incur a lynch mob for this (you know, if anyone actually read my blog), but I hated Toboe. He’s the young wolf cub/human of the group meant to be the naive but optimistic character who brings that one itty bitty teensy weensy strand of Hope to the show. Only he was too damn annoying to do even that. I don’t know if it was the voice actor or just the character itself that made me roll my eyes whenever he was on screen, but I was so annoyed by that character that his oh-so-sad demise, which was meant to be Really Powerful And Emotional had me feeling: yawn, ugh FINALLY. NEXT! Also, the main theme was very…. bleh. Some people love that opening song, but I couldn’t stand it. It sounded like some awful 80s monstrosity eerily similar to Journey.

Tsume, in all his emo punk rock pony tail glory.
Tsume, in all his emo punk rock pony tail glory.

Chobits: I was so frustrated by Wolf’s Sadnez I needed a pick me up – fast. I think I started watching Chobits the same day I ended WF. (Yep, WF was that bad.) WOW was Chobits ever a total 180. It felt a bit jarring going from a super depressing show to a super upbeat happy show. What was even more jarring was the fact that Crispin Freeman, the gruff and deep voice of Tsume (above) and so many other manly gruff heroes and deep voiced villains, was now…. an 18-ish year old boy?  Um… WHAT?

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And yet… it worked. It worked so amazingly well. Crispin Freeman as the voice of Hideki was amazing. He was grave and thoughtful and cheerful and even got a few good squeaks out in some hilariously terror stricken scenes of absurdity. He added the perfect amount of warmth and charm to Hideki’s character making him one of my favorites. Basically, I love Crispin Freeman. Anyway, so the show is about Hideki, a late teen country bumpkin, moving to the big city to attend cram school so he can get into college. He’s clueless about city life and especially things computer related. However, he’s surrounded by Persacoms. Persacoms are human looking robotic things people can purchase to do EVERYTHING for them. They can cook, clean, check email, answer phone calls, become sex toys and everything else you can think to program or teach them to do. Of course they cost a ba-jillion yen, which Hideki doesn’t have, but guess what! He finds one – IN THE TRASH. He gets his persacom working and the hilarity begins. Most persacoms have some sort of initial software giving them an idea of how to do basic stuffs, but Hideki’s persacom doesn’t know how to do ANYTHING and is a giant teenage girl sized infant that can only say “Chi”. Oh, and guess what Hideki names her? … Yeah. So Chi and Hideki have all sorts of daily adventures, but Chi has a secret – she might be an all powerful super Persacom called a Chobit. It’s mostly a slice-of-life episodic series until the end when Chi’s Chobits history gets more interesting and dark. In general, the series basically tells us  humanity will continue to crumble by being so dependent upon AI and robots/electronics/mechanical sciencey-things if we don’t watch out. Must we further disconnect ourselves? When will we stop and face the reality of how we never truly interact with each other anymore? Etc…. Although all that sounds like doom and gloom the series was absolutely hilarious. Hideki is a randy fellow so of course sex is on the brain quite often and his responses to things are laugh-out-loud-until-you-nearly-cry fantastic. Despite his anxiety about being able to afford porn magazines and feed himself and Chi, he’s still a very well grounded character with a strong moral backbone. Now the bad part: the show ended rather weakly. After all the preaching and teaching of people losing their sense of reality by being so dependent upon their persacoms, Hideki is faced with the choice of losing Chi and facing that reality head on – or keeping Chi and falling down the rabbit hole. In the end, I was a bit unnerved by the deus ex machina explanation for everything. However, the show is clearly set in a specific genre that’s well known in Japan – Magical Girlfriend. I might have the name wrong, but there is a genre of anime/manga where guys, whether deserving or not, get the amazing spectacular completely unrealistic girlfriend of their dreams. Chobits is one of those. Oh and a note about the opening song: Zach hated it. It’s very poppy and catchy with a chorus of what sounds like a bunch of 12 year old girls singing, “Doot-doo, Doot-doo, yeah, let me be with you.” I actually liked it a lot because it was so hilariously cute and matched the show very well.

There's even a stereotypical beach episode the Japanese love to make in EVERY SERIES.
There’s even a stereotypical beach episode the Japanese love to make in EVERY SERIES.

Chevalier D’eon: Charles-Geneviève-Louis-Auguste-André-Timothée d’Éon de Beaumont, or Chevalier d’eon, existed. He is in the history books. He was part of the secret du roi (secret agent police type unit that took orders directly from the king) during the reign of Louis XV. So what makes him interesting, other than being a secret agent and awesome swordsman at the time? He’s also known as one of the first people ever to be openly transgender. He spent the first part of his life as a man and the latter part of it dressing as a woman until his death. So, you’d think that an anime about this guy would be pretty darn cool, no? Actually… it wasn’t. The anime took a turn for the supernatural and told the story of D’eon de Beaumont in a rather ridiculous way. The secret du roi still exist in the show and D’eon is part of it. He investigates the mysterious murders of women when he finds out his own older sister was one of those murdered. He then goes on a mission with a few chivalry minded friends to find out who murdered his sister, and find out about the royal Psalms, which happen to be biblical verses naughty magician types use to make everyone else do their dirty work as silver ooze spitting zombies. I think they call them gargoyles in the show. How does the cross dressing come in? Oh, you know, D’eon becomes possessed by his dead sister Lia’s soul. Oh. Ok. *face*palm* Apparently Lia had more balls than her living brother because when she takes over her bro’s body, shit gets real. She kicks ass and takes names. When D’eon is in control of his own body, he mostly looks pathetic with a long pony tail and constantly questions himself. The plot got a bit muddled and confusing, but worse yet, it dragged on. There’s a lot of talking and little resolving going on. I don’t need every episode to be jam packed with action and awesome… but it helps. Lots of ideology speak, old ways versus new ways, and general discourse on whether or not kings are necessary when people no longer give two shits take up most of the series. It’s not bad per se, but there’s nothing that really grabbed my attention and made me want to continue watching. In fact, I took a month long break from it because I got so bored with it and for a while I thought of dropping it completely. It’s a rather poor way to commemorate the life of someone so interesting.

Dude looks like a lady.
Dude looks like a lady.

After D’eon de Boring I re-watched lots of old favorites like Kuroshitsuji, Fullmetal Alchemist and Natsume Yuujinchou. I also signed up for a subscription service so I can use an app on the Xbox to watch ALL the anime I want, when I want. Ok, maybe not ALL of it, but it’s got a decent selection. The only problem is the server, which has been pissing me off lately. It skips 20 second intervals in the shows and even boots me off mid episode and won’t let me back on to watch the rest of it. Dunno if I’ll stay with it, but I do have quite a queue of stuff to watch. One of the shows I did watch on it last week was….

Fate/Zero: This series has a lot of hype surrounding it. It was made as a prequel to the Fate Stay/Night series and was made after(?) the Stay/Night series. I’ve not seen the Stay/Night series and don’t really know that much about it. From what I read, Fate/Zero could be watched alone and I wouldn’t have too much of an issue, especially since it is meant to be a prequel. For a 26 episode series, it packs quite a punch. It’s got a huge cast and each character has his/her own agenda. 7 mages are chosen by the The Holy Grail to fight in the Holy Grail war, which takes place every 60 years. There are old mage families who believe the Grail should only belong to them because They Be Old Mages and of course Old means Best. Right? Anyway, you also have some fledgling mages and some that aren’t mages at all but just happen to be psycho enough for the Grail to want in the war… probably for entertainment purposes. Who knows. Ask the Grail. So the 7 mages are given 3 Command Spells and conjure up the Servant of their choosing. This servant is usually some heroic hero/heroine of yore from either legends or history. 7 mages controlling 7 servants (lancer, rider, archer, berserker, saber, caster, assassin) of kick-ass powers meant to beat each other up Battle Royale style all to get a hold of the Grail that will grant a wish to the Mage/Servant team that wins. Sound awesome? It was. Mostly. The animation was mind-blowing incredible. I don’t know what studio made it, but they must’ve broken the bank (or robbed it) a few times in order to make the show because the quality is just fantastic. If anything, the show is worth watching for the animation alone. The music is good as well. I really liked the ending song To The Beginning by Kalafina, who also wrote Lacrimosa, which was the ending song of Kuroshitsuji and is one of my favorites. The characters were all fascinating, even if I didn’t always agree with what they said. So many ideologies clashing together and fighting to find out which one will win made the show engaging. And then the ending sorta pooped all over all that awesome. I’m guessing because it’s meant to be a prequel, there could really be no true ending. But to take so much amazing and give it such a mediocre ending of mind fuckery was quite disappointing. The Grail is supposed to grant any wish, but apparently you can’t wish for it if you don’t have an understanding of a reality based on that wish? I think? I’m not quite certain I got it entirely and may need to watch the last few episodes again, or read some sort of cliff notes on it. But a wish was sorta granted and ended up going explodey and granting two wishes of two mages, but one wasn’t the kind of wish he meant, but the other was all – dude, I’ll take it. But that guy was dead beforehand…. and…. eh? Then life goes back to normal. Kinda. The …. end? Hmmm…

Servants up top. Corresponding mages below.

Currently I’m watching Attack on Titan, which is airing right now in Japan. I watched Fate/Zero with subs and must watch Attack on Titan with subs as well. I’m finding I really don’t mind it as much as I thought I would. Granted, I do miss out on some of the action because I’m reading text at the bottom of the screen, but that’s ok. Fate/Zero actually has a dub cast and I think is in the process of being dubbed now, so I’ll most likely watch it again with the dub cast, which I’ve heard is amazing (Crispin Freeman!). Anyway, Attack on Titan is just… WOW. I really hope this show gets a longer running than the typical 24-26 episodes that tend to be the norm these days. It’s so good I’m even tempted to find the manga it’s based on. More on that later.

Joshua Tree National Park

One of the “must see” stops for us on our vacation was Joshua Tree National Park. Before our trip, I was excited at the prospect of visiting yet another park and spending all day tromping about it.

Yeah….

And then the reality of tromping about in 113F weather put a drastic stop to my playful daydreams of what it would be like to visit there. I was still somewhat suffering from heat stroke the day before at The Living Desert, aka Heat Stroke Zoo. So taking long interesting hikes in a barren, rocky, and extremely hot landscape was a definitive NO. Z said, “Car tour!” and that’s pretty  much what it was.

Two of our friends, who also ventured all the way from Philly to CA for the wedding and shared our amazing rental house, were just as excited to see the park as we were. Having friends was a definite plus to the very short trip. They knew I wasn’t in the best of shape and made sure I wasn’t pushing myself too much. At the same time, I felt having them around kept my extreme grumpiness in regards to the heat down to a minimum. Listening to everyone talk about the freaky Joshua trees, try and make figures out of the weird rock formations, and generally share in the misery that was the hot desert made for a highly entertaining visit to the park.

And as you may have noticed from the photos, one of them tried to climb a Joshua tree. He thought the fuzzy outer of the tree would make it easier to grab onto and climb up. Not so much. Instead he slid down rather fast, declared Joshua trees as terrible things to climb, and then made jokes about his splinters for the rest of the day. We also had an amusing discussion on how everything in the desert actively tries to kill you. If it’s not the heat, then it’s the animals and even the plants. Because everything is pointy in the desert! Oh and did I mention I almost drank ALL of our water supply alone and if you don’t have your own water at the park you may as well consider yourself dead? Yeah, drinking fountains aren’t happening there. I remember when we left the visitor’s center the ranger mentioned there’s no places for water – AT ALL. And of course we decided to take a mile long hike. Genius!

Despite the horrendous heat and my perilous condition after the mile hike (I’m amazed I made it that long) we did manage to have a good time there. I would visit the park again – in the dead of winter. It was definitely worth seeing, but Z and I agreed we much prefer places with lots of lush greenery and water around us.

The Living Desert and heat stroke

San Diego weather constantly stayed in the mid to upper 60s – even at night. The 3-5 degree difference between night and day temperatures there confused the crap out of me. It was weird. What was even more bewildering was the fact that one can drive 2.5 hours away and experience a 40 degree difference. Palm Springs was HOT. Since it’s in the desert that makes sense, but I really was not prepared for it. Everyone says “Oh, but there’s no humidity!” Yeah ok, I get it. No humidity means it’s a bit easier to breathe and being in the shade is a teensy bit more tolerable that being in the sun but when the temperature rarely drops below 108 during the day it makes no difference. You’re still HOT and MISERABLE. It gets to a point where it just doesn’t matter. I was sweating just as much with no humidity there as I do here with humidity. The danger of sweating there is the fact that you get dehydrated VERY quickly and if you’re not careful, you end up like me – suffering from heat stroke.

Cue our day hiking about outside with very little shade, no water, and 108F weather…. at The Living Desert. The place was quite interesting, but I was so mind-numbingly miserable from the heat I didn’t really get as much out of it as I could’ve. I hardly took any photos of the animals there and mostly b-lined for any area with shade. Zach handled it better than I did and managed to get some more animal shots. I was so tired and hot lifting my camera to my face felt like The Worst Chore In The Entire Universe. That being said, I really did like the place and wish I could visit there again – in winter.  I was beat and ready to be done half hour before everyone else was so by the time they decided we should go my friends clearly saw I wasn’t doing well. I had to hold Zach’s hand as we walked in the parking lot to the car because I forewarned him, “I might pass out.”  I came very close to doing so, but managed to keep it together for the ride back to our rental house where I promptly drank water and slept.

As I write this Zach looks over my shoulder and says, “Writing about Heat Stroke Zoo?”  Yeah…..

For those interested in seeing Zach’s photos of our trip, look at his flickr set here.

Midway Aircraft Carrier

The morning of our last day in San Diego was spent at the Midway aircraft carrier museum. It’s an actual aircraft carrier that was in service from 1950 to the some time in the 1990s. It’s seen action in 3 wars (Korea, Vietnam, Gulf War) and is ENORMOUS. I was thoroughly impressed with the size of the ship, but at the same time I was a bit freaked out because people lived on that ship for months at a time and it was…. tiny inside. Everything was cramped and chock full of buttons, switches, levers and whatnots all over the place. The clearance of the place wasn’t much to Zach’s liking since he’s 6 feet tall and the height of most rooms was barely above that. He had to constantly duck his head and both of us took big steps to get through each doorway passage, which was a big metal oval. Several school children called the doorways “knee knockers” because if you weren’t careful and didn’t take a bit enough step you’d clearly knock the crap out of your knees.

Aside from the claustrophobic inducing interior, the whole ship was full of places for people to explore. You could sit in cock pits of planes, lay down on the bunks, and even scramble about the cargo area of planes on the flight deck. I was glad to be out on the flight deck after nearly two hours of being inside, which smelled very metallic. We had a guided tour for the area of the ship where the captain guided the ship. It was much smaller than the other area we were in, but  we found out it was even smaller than what we’d seen originally. Newer aircraft carriers are full of electronics and computers so to see so much analog style stuff put things into perspective quite a bit. We’re so used to electronic – everything these days that to have the skills and mindset to be on a big boat like that was quite awe inspiring.