Wednesday, April 15, 2009

...And Eat it Too!

Apparently my buddy Sasaki decided she needed to make a cake with something cute on it.  She'd never done it before.

This is what happened next:

Keep in mind that this is her FIRST cake with art on it.

If I had tried to do this, it would not look like that.  It wouldn't even look like a cake.
It's a good thing SOME of us have talent!

Friday, April 10, 2009

Geography--like, WHY?

OK.  I'm probably going to expose myself as a HUGE ignoramus here, but I really see no point in having a Geography department and major at a university.

Honestly.  You study geography up through 8th grade or whatever and you know where countries are and things--but like, that's not enough?  You have to MAJOR in knowing where countries are?

I work as a TA, and our lab shares space with the Geography TAs among others and I was sitting in my office hours today listening to some pompous young male person go on and on about the weather conditions in the British isles and how you don't get snow and ice there and how in the winter it just rains and doesn't get below 40 and blah blah blah.  So I stuck my head in.  "Actually, you do." I said, and then some other random bit of information and the male person gave me this glare and then said "That's why I said 'very often'," and proceeded to ignore me.  So I went back to my chair--humiliated.  A whole other group of people had heard the exchange--and you know what?  


He's NOT.  

Why do I know I'm right?  Because I spent HOURS shivering in a tent in below freezing circumstances in JULY in SOUTHERN WALES, which is one of the vacation hot-spots of the British isles, and it wasn't just some freak weather pattern.  It was the norm.

So my opinion of Geography and its usefulness has taken yet another plunge.

The TA then continued to talk, spewing all sorts of stuff about different places, throwing out the words "Nation-state" and things like that the same way a athlete would flex his muscles.

Pardon my french, but what the Hell does a geography student know about nation-states?  Leave that to the political scientist, the historians and the anthropologists, hon, and go get a REAL major.

/end embittered rant

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Why I Don't Listen to the Radio Anymore, or, Pink Fish are De Rigeour for Handbags This Season

I made the mistake of turning on the radio on my way home from the grocery store tonight.  I don't listen to the radio very often, and when I do it's usually talk radio (one way to tell you're getting old--political talk radio is actually INTERESTING), but tonight I was in the mood for music and I didn't have my iPod with me to plug in to the cassette deck.  Anyway, there was only No Doubt on my favourite station, which I happen to hate with a passion, and then really unremarkable things on the succeeding stations, even the oldies.  

Side note--have any of you noticed that 94.1 (which has previously been where I go for Beatles, Crosby Stills and Nash and the Monkees) has started playing 80's music?  Does anyone else find that a little...disturbing?

Anyway.  Radio.  I ended up on a "HOT NEW MUSIC" station which sometimes plays some fun stuff and settled in to listen--they'd just gotten in the "HOT NEW MUSIC" of the week and were talking about how great it was.  "It's called 'My Flow is so Tight'," the announcer said enthusiastically, which caused me to blink more than a little, but I listened on.  It started like approximately 85 billion other hip-hop/"R&B" "songs" with some beat that's all base.  The beat kept going, adding a little this and a little that--and then a distorted voice came in with the moving and memorable line:

"My flow is so tight, the beat is so sick, Chris Brown should get his butt* kicked."

Total mystification.  

There was no way I could turn it off at that point--I HAD to find out who this Chris Brown person was and why he needed this indignity perpetrated upon his hinder end.  Surely the song would explain it, right?  So I persevered and l kept listening.  

I discovered that it's apparently perfectly acceptable to repeat the same inane line over and over and over while just adding more looped bits to your "sick beat" and then call the resulting piece of musical detritus a "song".  I was getting nowhere with Chris Brown, so I changed the channel.  Still nothing--I listened for a little bit to someone who wanted to sell me a book of "Secret Remedies T-H-E-Y Don't Want You to Know About!" and a few other things, then began to scroll through the stations again.  Finally arriving again at the station with the "HOT NEW MUSIC", I discovered to my horror that it was still going.  And the singer--er, speaker, whatever--was still repeating the same line!  It had to have been at LEAST five minutes.

So I turned the radio off.

Pink fish are an absolute MUST this season.  Why?  Because I am weird enough to like to use different coloured pens to take notes in my classes.  That alone isn't so bad--it the combination of weird colours and my snobbish attachment to liquid ink pens which has proved my ultimate downfall.

Somehow my violet pen came open in the little purse I bought in Japan.  Honestly, the thing is falling apart and has already been through an encounter with a leaky Drano-bottle (and Maceys tried to make it right, bless their hearts, but I had to admit that the purse had only cost me eight dollars, when REALLY it was worth far, far more than that.  You can't put a price on a piece of Japan).  But there on the outside were several large and malignant purple stains, visible despite the fact that the fabric is dark green.  It's also got these adorable little quilted-look fish on it in light colours on the background--darling, just darling.  I'd buy bolts and bolts of the fabric if I could find it.  Anyway--I decided that it would probably not be too bad to wash the excess ink out and just deal with a few dark spots on my purse.

A word of warning: purple ink is extremely pervasive--kind of like a bad mother-in-law.  It gets in all the cracks, runs all over the place and changes whatever is around it to match itself.  I spent probably 20 minutes at the sink soaping and rinsing and scrubbing and rubbing and succeeded in making the water that I was rinsing down the sink a lovely electric pink colour--but that was an improvement from dark violet.    By the end I was getting rather satisfied with myself and how easily the ink was coming out--until I noticed, to my horror, that all the little pale fish are now a rather distressing shade of pink.

This could be worse.

But I don't WANT pink fish.  So I set the bag to soak in diluted colour-safe bleach (And how is THAT supposed to help, I ask you?  Colour is colour!) and only got a little more pink water for my troubles.

My purse has now been soaking in a bowl in the sink for a little over eight hours, and still my cheerful little Japanese fish look like they've had a run in with a bad 80's anime.  Tomorrow I will call my aunt, who is the guru of all things fabric and see if I can do something to preserve the dignity of me and my Japanese hand bag.

Post script--

KHII: Backfired? by *Chajiko on deviantART

*I have inserted a relatively socially acceptable term here in lieu of the one used by the "artist".

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

But a Moment

It is remarkable to me how little effort it takes to love the people who came before us. The promise of Elijah—that our hearts will turn to our fathers—it is so close. So strangely close, and so captivating once grasped.

I do graveyard research. As an archaeologist it’s kind of a pet hobby of mine—something I wish I could turn into my thesis or dissertation, but there are very few people in the world to whom I could defend my research.

Anyway. Right now I am building a database of certain monuments found in a quiet sea-side churchyard in southern Wales. It’s tailored to the focus of my research, but when I’ve done with that I am going to add in all the detail I can to my tables of names and relationships, and then I am going to post it online for genealogists to use. It’s the least I can do.

There are far, far worse places to spend the quiet sleep of waiting.

It is startling, though, to realize how very alive these people were. And how the joy and sorrow and pain and hope they felt can come welling up from the past with so very little effort on our parts.

This stone isn’t much to look at. But if you read it carefully, you’ll see that the mother died at 34 after seeing first her 12 year old eldest son die at sea—and then losing her next son at 15, also into the depths of the ocean. This happened all the time. Ships went down, people were lost—children died of fevers and people had to move on—somehow.

It wasn’t until I read the final entry on the stone, cramped into the very bottom space as it was that the full import of this monument hit me. The husband—who called his wife “beloved” and who had buried two sons and that same wife had lived to be 80. Somehow, he had survived the travails of ocean and mortality to die at an old age, while the people he obviously loved so much were long, long gone.

I find myself weeping for this man—long since dust. Someone who may not even have spoken my language—but someone who shares the beautiful, blinding humanity that is our greatest blessing and our greatest handicap.

I don’t know if these people have any living relations or if their family died with those two loved sons. But they are as real and precious to me as my own blood, and I feel responsibility—reaching over a century of time and six thousand miles of ocean.

After all, he was someone’s father.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009


I don’t have any pictures of Jacques.

I never thought to take any and now I wish I had.

Jacques is a shield bug--family Acanthosmatidae in the order Hemiptera, if I am not mistaken (thank you Wikipedia, no matter how much I mock thee...). He lived behind my door in my bedroom for two years. Why? I have no idea. Maybe he liked the company, maybe he had a wife and kids in the model Wright Brothers airplane box that has been back there for almost longer than I remember.

At any rate, he and I have been room mates for a long time. I have grown very fond of him, actually. Shield bugs are really amazing little guys—they belong to the same family as fire bugs and assassin bugs, but lack the ubiquity of the former and the nasty temperament of the the latter. I have never known a shield bug to bite, sting or stink places up--or to turn up in your bed, shower, shoes and clothing drawers.

Not my picture--copywrited to someone else, I am so very sorry. But—this looks almost exactly like my Jacques!


I was saying good night to mum and dad the other night and stopped in the hall to give my aussie (dog) a good scratching. You know how, sometimes, when you’re stepping on something and you can just barely feel that it doesn’t feel right? Well, I had that niggling sort of feeling but wasn’t paying attention. After a few seconds, though, it dawned on me that I was standing on something. Now, the scary thing in my house is that it could have been anything from a harmless insect to an extremely venomous spider.

Like, ew. Not my picture either. Unfortunately it's hard to tell whether or not this is the relatively harmless Giant House Spider who keeps your house FREE of Hobos, or if this is the Hobo itself, the sort that you really, REALLY don't want to find in your bed. They both spin the same webs, read the same trashy romances and go through guys like crazy.

This is not because we are unclean people, but rather because we live near a river and have insects roughly the size of tennis balls.

You do the math.

At any rate, I had instinctively not put my weight fully on that foot, AND it was under my disgustingly high arch, so whatever was under there was more covered than actually stepped on. I snatched my foot away and scooted my dog back--and saw to my horror that it was Jacques. He was lying on his back, his little legs curled up.

“JACQUES,” I shrieked, both alarming and confusing my parents. I got down and put my face to the floor. “JACQUES!” he had not been crushed, I was glad to see. In fact, he looked FINE aside from the fact that he had, so to speak, assumed the position. I gently prodded him and--he moved. In protest, it seemed, but he wasn’t dead yet! I flipped him over gently and he took a few steps--and flipped back over and curled his legs up. He wouldn’t get up, he wouldn’t crawl into my hand.

I was near tears by this point.

My mom had come onto the scene and had taken stock of things by this point and got down next to me in her pajamas. She somehow coaxed Jacques into her hands--don’t ask me, I think it’s a mom thing. Maybe I can figure it out someday--and he seemed to revive some. She handed him over to me, and he immediately took a nose-dive off my hands to the hard floor.

Cliff jumping, anyone?

Mom took him in hand again and kept him this time. I felt quite the louse, but was determined to know what was wrong. “Maybe he needs water!” I was frantic. But you know, little bugs DO need water. Watch the firebugs in your bathroom sometime--the drink from those tiny beaded droplets with their long probosci. Mom followed me into my room, where I dribbled some water on her hands. Jacques did NOT like that. He was not thirsty, thank you very much, and made no bones of letting us know as he scrambled to get away from the couple of drops that fell into mom’s palm.

Unfortunately, that’s the limit of my knowledge for insect first aid. Mom put him in my hands again, and this time he seemed inclined to hang on. I took him carefully into her room, where she and dad keep live plants year-round, to see if he’d rather be in there. He was really lively by this point, acting quite as if he hadn’t scared me half out of my skin by playing dead in an expanse of hard wood floor. After about five minutes I coaxed him onto a long thin leaf of a spider plant (named so NOT because it houses spiders, but because of the arachnid-shaped runners it puts out to make more of itself) where he actually seemed quite content.

Not my picture either. A running theme? Maaaaybe. This is almost exactly like our plant.

Exhausted by the excitement, we all went to bed.

I have not seen Jacques since. He may have transferred his affections to my mother, he may have made a bid for frozen freedom out the window, or he may still be happily clinging to the plant, out of sight. At any rate, at least I did NOT step on Jacques.

On a slightly more serious note:

To all of you who took the time to comment on my last blog entry--thank you. I am honoured to be the recipient of your thoughts and considerations. I’m hoping to respond to you all individually, and I am actually going to print the entry and all of the replies out and put them in my journal. I won’t risk losing such precious words of wisdom and love to the black-hole of the internet.

And on a slightly less serious note: Here’s the latest art. Some serious, some not so much, some simply bizarre. And if any of you have odd jobs that need to be done that might involve this mighty pen of mine--let me know, will you? I’m thinking I might have to resort to eating my notes and using my textbooks for warmth since my car took it into its head (engine?) to blow up.

I'll give anyone who's interested details on these--goodness knows I love to brag about my characters.

This Death Cannot Be by *Chajiko on deviantART

Kylee and Mace Gift by *Chajiko on deviantART

Proud of this one. Like, way.

The Mistress's Apprentice by *Chajiko on deviantART


Thursday, January 1, 2009

I'm An Adult, So...

I'm an adult, so...

I want you to fill in the blank. So many things can go there depending on your place in life.
Many of the young people I know who are teetering on the cusp of adulthood would finish with something to the effect of "I can do what I like." For other people it's things like "I shouldn't have to do that." or "it's my responsibility.".

For me? For me it's coming down to "I should be able to deal with this." or something to that effect.
I feel like I have no right to talk about these kinds of things because I only recently have become an adult (if I really am one. I have severe doubts sometimes). I have no children, I live with my parents, I have a job and an education and comparatively few things to think about that should keep me awake at night, staring into the darkness and wondering what on earth I'm going to do.

But—I feel like life is one giant game of dodgeball, and there's really not a lot of space between missiles, never mind the fact that there's usually at least seven or eight coming at you at once.

Work, school, callings, money, responsibility—

grief, confusion, worry, JOY—hunger, weakness—guilt, guilt guilt—gratitude, inadequacy, hope.

How many of these emotions did I feel in their infant stage in my childhood? I didn't know that growing up would cause them to flower so terribly.

So many things happen. So many things change and this Margaret weeps for things that will never be the same, things that seem like they have lost too many pieces to ever be whole again. We are so close to the Divine in moments of pure joy and grief and hope. I want to savour them, I want to grasp them in my fingers until I understand their shape and know their parts. But instead I set them aside to be considered later because I have to go to work or because my body realizes it's been 20 hours since I last slept. Or because the dishes need to be done or the dog needs out or my room is finally so ugly I cannot bear to walk into it.

Sometimes I set them aside because they are too blinding, too poignant and piquant. It is too much work to be the child of a God so perfect, so powerful, so loving in a life that leaves no time for stillness. I think I create my own chaos. I am not a peaceful person.

Where there is nothing to gnaw and worry, I will chew on myself—like an animal in a trap—until I have something ragged at which to and tear and over which to weep. Isn't there enough sorrow in the world without making my own? At least I can deal with my own sorrow. I can't fix India. I can't give parents back to orphaned children or restore the miscarried child of a grieving woman. All I can do is vacuum and try to be kind and do my best not to wound the people who love me best.

I'm an adult, so I should be able to deal with this.