Sunday, June 22, 2008

Happy 10th Anniversary to Us

Where were we ten years ago today?


1. Where and when did you meet your husband?

In Katsutadai, Japan in March 1996. We were working at the same language school and I arrived there about six months before he did. We met on his first day on the job.

2. What was the first thing you said to your husband?

"Oh, you're tall!" There was a wall between the teacher's work area and the student wait area. I was at my desk and I heard someone milling around in the wait area. Classes wouldn't start for a few hours, so I was a little surprised to hear someone. I came around the corner to see who it was an nearly ran into him. And for reference, Andrew is 6'1" and I am 4'11".

3. Where was your first date?

After a lot of flirting we finally went into Tokyo to see "The Truth About Cats and Dogs."

4. Where was your first kiss?

In my apartment. After yet another long summer night of just talking, I pulled him to me, laid one on him, then promptly ran into the other room.

5. Did you have a long or short engagement/courtship?

Relatively short. We started dating at the end of the summer in 1996, and we were engaged the following May. We had to get married before we left Japan to facilitate the green card process, so we were married in September 1997. We didn't have our wedding until we returned to North America the following June 1998.

6. Where did you get engaged?Engagement ring

In Andrew's apartment. I remember it being a very humid night. He came home from work, dropped down to both knees and asked me to marry him. My response? "Of course." Incidentally, he did not have a ring with him and I ended up picking out my own engagement ring because he would get light-headed at the prices in the jewelry stores. I didn't want a diamond and was very happy to find this emerald.

7. Where did you get married?

Married? At Sakura City Hall in Sakura City, Chiba. Wedded? At Clayburn Chapel in British Columbia.

8. Any disasters during the special day?

The marriage was a done deal by this point, but what was getting on my nerves was that we were to have an outdoor reception and it rained nearly every day leading up to the wedding. I spent so much time glaring at the Weather Channel. But the day turned out beautifully with a bright blue sky. I also managed to spill chocolate milkshake on my on my wedding gown. You can't take me anywhere - not even my own wedding!

9. Most special moment of your wedding day?

In my head it was just a shiny happy day. My Gramma Pogue was still alive, and it wasn't long after this that she got very sick and died. One of my fondest memories of the day is Robbie, my parents' cairn terrier, sneaking scraps from the guests. He also had been sick and didn't live another year.


10. The song from your first dance?

We didn't have a dance.

11. If you were to do your wedding over, what would you change?

I wish I would have had my sisters as my bridesmaids as well as my friends.


I had to scan all these photos in because they were all taken way before I ever had a digital camera. I found one picture Andrew had taken of me not long after we first started dating:

Jo in Japan

Damn, I was cute 11 years ago!

'Cause We Are All About The Science

Ahoy there, me mateys!

Last weekend, Andrew, Willow, and I went into Philadelphia to see the Pirates Exhibit at the Franklin Institute. We had wanted to save on gas and take the SEPTA train into Philly, but the afternoon before the SEPTA police went on strike, and trust me - you don't want to riding SEPTA without the police on board.

Unfortunately, cameras were verboten in the exhibit itself (and I am completely peeved at the people who were flaunting that rule and taking pictures anyway) so the pictures I took outside the museum will have to suffice. I love how they laid the pirate's map on the steps of the Franklin Institute. They did something similar with the King Tut exhibit last year and it has a neat visual effect. If you are on the steps looking down, you can't see the map at all.

Here's a pic of the huge Ben Franklin statue inside. We saw the Ben Franklin re-enactor while in the museum and Willow said he winked at her. I said, "Well, Ben always did have a thing for the ladies..."

A few days later I accompanied Willow and her summer camp to the Maryland Science Center in Baltimore. I have to say, Baltimore is one of my favourite places to visit within driving distance of our house. It reminds me so much of Victoria, BC - and I have had so much fun there the last two years going to Stitches East with my girlfriends. Just look at the harbour:

Even before we entered the museum itself there were people out front conducting experiments for the kids... like how to burn things with a magnifying glass:

Yeah... maybe that isn't such a hot idea (Ha ha!)

It was interesting to see these two science museums within such a short time period so I could compare the two. Andrew is a bit hurt at how impressed I was at the Maryland Science Center - it had a lot more hands-on areas for the kids, like this one where Willow is uncovering dinosaur bones:

And a close-up of the T-Rex skeleton:

I especially liked the kinetics lab at the Maryland Science Center - and let's face it - Baltimore has beaten Philly's location hands down. Less than five minutes away from the Maryland Science Center you have a submarine to explore, the Baltimore Aquarium, and an 18th century ship to board. I'm a winner either way - we purchased a family membership at the Franklin Institute, and due to a lovely reciprocal relationship to other science museums, it gets us into the Maryland Science Center free as well!

And a trip to any science museum wouldn't be complete without a child's introduction to the most scientific candy of all, Pop Rocks:

Her verdict? Tasty, but unnerving.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Thursday Book Report: The Host

It was the eye that did me in.

Prior to reading The Host, I had never read anything by Stephenie Meyer before - which is odd in itself because it seems her young adult books are right up my alley. I get regular emails from a few different online booksellers telling me of upcoming books I might like based on my prior purchases - and this was one of the books suggested. And as I said - I was intrigued by the eye.

The Host tells the story of our world and people - both of which have become inhabited by aliens who call themselves 'souls.' It doesn't mean much - according to Wanderer, the narrator, they choose different names for themselves on each world they are on. The souls didn't come to Earth to subjugate us or enslave us - but merely to experience us. They have inhabited nine different planets so far, and have experienced such lives as underwater trees, bears, flowers, and something on a nasty Fire Planet that no one wants to go back to. The story starts off with this 'invasion' being a done deal; most humans have been implanted with a silvery being as its symbiont - and the only way you would know they have been implanted is by a small scar on the neck and a mirrored cast to their eyes.

There has been very little resistance. Those 'wild humans' who have managed to evade the Seekers (the souls' version of police) have it difficult because as the pacific nature of the souls and their superior medical knowledge spread, they did away with currency and our modern medicine. The souls started off small - people were converted during dinner parties. One survivor remarks that the unimplanted people didn't start noticing that something was going on until the news stopped leading with 'bleeding' stories. When a person is inhabited, their personality, will, conscience - what have you - is suppressed and the soul dwells peacefully in the person's life.

In theory, anyway.

Wanderer has been implanted into Melanie, a young woman whose body was rehabilitated after trying to commit suicide while on the run from Seekers. Melanie has a strong will - she managed to elude the souls for a few years and it is only when she breaks into an city to rescue another unimplanted person that she is discovered. The Seekers are eager to learn what Melanie knows - they think she will be able to lead them to pockets of human resistance. Wanderer has been warned that turbulent people make difficult transitions - but Wanderer herself is a bit of a celebrity - she has lived nine lives all on different planets and doesn't feel she will have a problem with Melanie. But Melanie manages to exert her own personality and will despite Wanderer's experience and soon Melanie and Wanderer find themselves on the run from the Seekers.

I'm going to leave the story description there - but I want to say I *loved* the book. I started reading last Saturday morning and read it all the way through until 1:51am Sunday morning (all 619 pages of it)! It was touching to see what Wanderer and Melanie learned of one another, and to have hope for what kind of world this could be. And as pacifistic as the souls' entry into our world was, it was made even more terrifying that it was not a violent, bloody clash of armies. By the time we realized what was going on, it was simply too late.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Take Five Tuesday

I'm a lazy blogger today - I found this at Take5 Tuesday:

5 of your favorite cookies (or cookie recipes):
- Nanaimo Bars
- Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies (not with raisins!)
- Peanut Butter Cookies with Peanut Butter Chips
- Sugar Cookies
- Lemon Bars

5 things you’re afraid of:
- Snakes
- Spiders
- Slugs
- Being alone at night
- Flying over deep water

5 things you would like to learn:
- To knit socks toe-up
- To speak Japanese better (I am so out of practice)
- To cook a great stir-fry
- To drive on the freeway without getting anxious
- How to do more creative things on my blog

5 things you wanted to accomplish at the beginning of the year, but you haven’t yet done (if you have 5):
- Knit a sweater for Willow
- Read 100 books for the year (I'm trucking along)
- Lose weight (trucking along with that, too)
- Get the fan installed in the bathroom and re-paint it
- Get rid of some bushes on our property (I hate boxwood!)

5 of your favorite things to do during the summer:
- Read books in the lovely air-conditioning
- Gardening
- Taking day trips
- Watching summer storms
- Barbeque (yes, I'm spelling it like a Canadian!)

Friday, June 13, 2008

Hair Yesterday, Gone Today

I just couldn't take it anymore. See this picture of me and Bezzie? She looks cute. Me, not so much with that lion's mane. I have been growing my hair out for a long time - since Willow was less than a year old... but honestly, I don't enjoy it. It looks great when it is wet and I have just put gel on it... but then it grows in volume throughout the day.

So... now? It looks like this:

Willow and Jo

Here's a better view (my arms are short and I could only get the camera so far away from our heads in that last shot). Now do you see how curly my hair is? Any doubt where Willow gets hers from?

New hairdo

Willow asked me to take this picture of her and her bear. I snuck the bonsai in.

Willow and Bonsai

Here is a better picture of the bonsai. We gave this to my FIL for Christmas two years ago and I think maybe this is the first year it has bloomed.

Bonsai azalea

And while we are discussing azaleas, here is a nifty striped on from the garden. I'm really not sure what causes the random stripe (because not all blooms have it), but it looks cool:

Striped Azalea

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Mosaic of Me

Stolen from Stuck on Socks:

1. Hemeji-jo - UNESCO World Heritage, 2. "what do you mean you don't eat meat? oh, that's ok, i'll make you lamb", 3. ~~ At Dusk ~~, 4. A big bloody Samoan storm that turned gay!, 5. Paul Rudd is Dreamy, 6. Mojito Power, 7. Great Point Lighthouse - Nantucket, MA, 8. strawberry rhubarb crisp, 9. Doctor and Child, 10. bookshelf, 11. Busy Bee at Lunch, 12. Jochibi!

a. Type your answer to each of the questions below into Flickr Search.
b. Using only the first page, pick an image.
c. Copy and paste each of the URLs for the images into fd’s mosaic maker.

The Questions:

1. What is your first name?
2. What is your favorite food?
3. What high school did you go to?
4. What is your favorite color?
5. Who is your celebrity crush?
6. Favorite drink?
7. Dream vacation?
8. Favorite dessert?
9. What you want to be when you grow up?
10. What do you love most in life?
11. One word to describe you.
12. Your flickr name.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

A Pretty Flower to Tide You Over

Still too hot to do much of anything. I am not a summer person. Hell, it isn't even summer yet and I feel constantly wilted. And right now I am feeling extremely cheated that we didn't even get a good snowstorm this winter. My yard and garden are getting over-run and it is too muggy for me to go weeding. Bitch, bitch, bitch.

Yup, that's about it right now.

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Sunday Night Wrap Up


It's late on a Sunday night, but my Dad is hassling me about not updating my blog. My apologies - it has been a busy week between Willow finishing Kindergarten, the suffocating heat, work events, and everything else. And I didn't even get my book report up last week and trust me, I had a good one. I will catch up - I just need a few more hours in the day.

On Thursday afternoon I travelled to Philadelphia on a work-sponsored event to see the Phillies play the Cincinnati Reds. We won! I'm excited about this because the games I end up seeing tend to be at the other end of the spectrum. This was the first time I have ever sat on the third base line, and I can't say I care for it.

I like looking up at the score board and it was nearly impossible from the angle I was sitting at. I had to crank my head to the left, and even then the stupid yellow fair/foul pole blocked the strike count:

Apparently it was the shortest Phillies game on record - a little less than two hours. We got to see some cool plays - like the Reds' left fielder who dropped Jimmy Rollins' pop fly - that was only about 20 feet in front of us. After so many years of softball, I could hear in my head what my coach would have said if that had been me - "TWO HANDS!"

I've also been doing some gardening - we have started to pick strawberries - those we get to before the slugs, in any case. People have been telling me to put down a tray of beer to drown the slugs, but I don't have a container small and shallow enough (remember, my strawberries are in planters).

Here are a few I picked for Willow this morning. Excuse my dirty window sill - I need to get out there with some Lysol. And yes, dirt and all - my MIL tells me you don't wash them if you want them to ripen some more off the plant.

We have also had swimming lessons - and Willow has passed from Advanced Eel to Ray in the swim program. This will be her last session in the preschool swim classes - once she turns six she moves up into the Youth group and that worries me a bit because she is small and the Youth class can have kids from 6 - 13. She ran into this problem before when she moved up to a more advanced class - the kids were so much bigger than her that they were swimming circles around her.

She loves being in the water, however - and I keep telling her that practice makes perfect. She is too much like me at times, though - she wants it to be perfect now.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Finished Object Wednesday

Woo-hoo! Turtlegirl socks!

Turtlegirl socks

Last summer Cristi sent me two skeins of Knitpicks socks yarn after I admired it in her Ravelry socks (multiple shades of green - what's not to like?!?!) - and so I christen these 'Turtlegirl Socks' - and I can't wait to wear them in the fall once it becomes sock weather once again. As lovely as these are, I can't imagine wearing socks right now - it is supposed to be in the high 90s this coming weekend. I think we are going to break down and turn on the airconditioner - we have held off this far. Bezzie is snickering at me, I know. I can take the cold but I just wilt in the heat.

Yesterday was Willow's last day of Kindergarten. This year... I don't know what to say - how did it get to be June? She has a few days of fun with her friends and then summer camp starts up on Monday. The Kindgarten classes had their big musical extravaganza on Monday, and I took this picture as the kids wove in and out of the audience doing this Rooster song:


I love how she just looks so happy - she is going to miss school. And yes, her hair does that all by itself.

Sunday, June 01, 2008

Sunday Breakfast Buns

Don't these look lovely?

Here's a close-up for you:

My Mom used to make these Breakfast Buns when I was a child and I loved them - I can't even fathom how many I ate over the years. When I was a teenager I learned to make them on my own and then no one's waistline was safe! You can find the recipe at the Five Roses website. It wouldn't let me hone in on the exact recipe - so click on the recipes link at the top of the page and do a search for 'quick breads' then 'breakfast rolls.' I made two changes to the recipe - I left out the first three ingredients because I like my rolls plain, and instead of a normal muffin tin where they would grow tall, I put them in my large muffin tin so they would spread out a bit more. I think I like these better than even cinnamon rolls - the baking powder dough and sugar/cinnamon mix is so much more appealing to me. They warm up nicely, too - put a little butter on top and pop them in the microwave for 20 - 30 seconds. And the best part? These tasty morsels are ready in less than 30 minutes.