Thursday, April 22, 2021

April Snow in Ohio


Snow on a yellow and orange tulip.

Nearly every year in April, it snows in Ohio. It snows in the northern part of Ohio, at least. And every year, people are surprised by this weather event. I'm not sure if this surprise is due to the spring weather here being so swingy (it was 80 degrees a few days ago) or because people have selective memories. Regardless of their surprise, the snow arrives and makes things look pretty for a few hours before melting away.

Drooping red tulip with snow on it.

According to the data available on Weather Underground for the weather at Cleveland Hopkins International Airport, it has snowed at least one day in April every year since 2014. While the amount of snow fall varied, the snowfall did in fact occur. The years before 2014 were oddly missing precipitation data, but I'd be willing to use some logic to say that it very likely snowed in April in previous years. 

Snow covered pear blossoms with more snow covered branches out of focus in the background.

The plants around my yard that have started growing and blooming by this point in the year can handle the snow. Some, such as crocuses (not pictured) and hyacinth (pictured below), are expected to be coated in snow at least once during their short lifetime. While they are lovely without a coating of snow, the snow definitely adds a sense of wonder and makes their colors pop.

Grape hyacinth mostly buried in snow.

Thursday, April 15, 2021

Meet Sprocket

Recently, Amadeus has been acting suspiciously. I knew he was up to something, but I had no idea what it could be. One afternoon, not long after the suspicious activity began, a package appeared on the front step. Amadeus opened it and quickly got to work, studying the instructions thoroughly before assembling the mystery. 

A wooden robot holding a screwdriver, studying a sheet of instructions that he is also standing on.

After less than an hour, there were two pairs of legs joined together and what appeared to be a music box. At this point I was banned from the assembly room for being too human and making annoying breathing sounds.

A wooden robot with a screen driver assembling a small music box while sitting next to wooden legs.

Later that afternoon, while walking around outside, I saw Amadeus and what appeared to be a small wooden dog. At first glance, I thought Amadeus was teaching the dog to sit.

A wooden robot standing on a stone with a stick in one hand and a wooden dog sitting opposite him, on the grass.

A moment later, however, Amadeus threw the stick and the little wooden dog ran after it.

A wooden robot standing on a stone watching a wooden dog looking at a stick on the grass.

I'm unsure how exactly he managed it, but the dog picked up the stick and returned it to Amadeus. 

A wood robot sitting on a stone reaching for a stick that is being held by a wood dog sitting opposite.

They continued to play fetch for a while. And I eventually learned that the dog's name is Sprocket. For the past few days, the two have been spending time together and doing whatever it is that little wooden robots do whenever humans aren't around. 

Thursday, April 8, 2021

Cherry Blossoms

I had an idea for the type of pictures I wanted to take for this post. I was going to document the blossoming of the weeping cherry in my yard, from buds to flowers to leaves. However, during my daily trips into the yard, I captured some other photos that I thought were better looking than the progress photos I took. The best photos are the ones featuring bees--a mining bee and a carpenter bee. 

I hope you enjoy these photos as the storm outside knocks the last of the blossoms off of the tree.

I took a photo of this little branch over several days, from simple buds to fully bloomed. I like this nice transition stage.

A neighborhood honey bee paid a visit.

I really do believe this adorable fuzzy bee is a mining bee.

I suppose I should include some of the blossoms to leaves transition, if not the full buds to leaves. The transition from full blossoms to a mix of pink and green is always lovely. I wouldn't want to deprive you of that.

And that's it for the cherry blossoms in my yard this year. Next up for the tree is a bunch of tiny cherries, birds eating the cherries, and hopefully an avoidance of Japanese beetles. 

Thursday, April 1, 2021

Amadeus in the Spring

Early spring flowers can be tiny and adorable, just the perfect size for Amadeus. He wanted to pick a flower for a potential date, but couldn't decide which kind was best.

A wooden robot sitting in a cluster of purple crocuses with a lawn and houses in the background.

Some of the flowers are a bit too tall, though. He wanted a single flower, not a cluster, so he couldn't simply pick these from anywhere. Perhaps next time he'll bring a step ladder to help him.

A wooden robot reaching up to the top of paperwhite flowers that he is standing behind.
Amadeus finally decided to pick a daffodil. Although they were tall, he could pick a single flower and still have a long stem. Although not tiny, the daffodils are lovely and a perfect symbol of spring.
A wooden robot sitting on a stone holding a daffodil with clusters of daffodils behind him.

Thursday, March 25, 2021

Spring Flowers

Each spring brings a slow warmth and a renewal of the landscape. With the renewal comes the anticipation of learning whether the bulbs planted in the fall will grow or whether I yet again wasted untold amounts of money on flowers because I planted them too late or too early or under the wrong phase of the moon.

Fortunately, some flower bulbs are hardy and return year after year, assuming you don't accidentally pull them out during their off season. One such bulb is the daffodil. These came with the house when we bought it and more and more seem to appear each year.

I managed to catch one cluster of daffodils over the span of three days as they blossomed.

A cluster of daffodils with unblossomed buds.
Day 1

A cluster of daffodils with some flowers bloomed and some still in bud form.
Day 2

A cluster of daffodils with most flowers in bloom
Day 3

Not all of the daffodils are so cleanly spaced in the yard. Some are growing in the middle of a still dormant bush.

Daffodils with the red branches of a dormant bush in the foreground.

Other spring marvels in my yard include this mystery plant. Every summer and fall, I wonder whether it is a weed and whether it should be removed. Each spring so far I've been shocked that this random cluster of leaves produces some rather lovely flowers.

Cluster of flowers and leaves

If you wondered whether any of the bulbs I planted in the fall have decided to grace the yard with their presence, you may be pleased to learn that a few have. I believe these are crocus and mini paperwhite daffodils.

Several bunches of mini paperwhite daffodils and white, yellow, and purple crocus, all in bloom.

My plan, if I manage to successfully plant bulbs each fall, is to have a yard full of tiny flowers each spring. The difficulty lies in planting new bulbs around previously established bulbs. Perhaps one day I will create a map of the flowerbeds. Until that time, I'll just proceed with caution and hope.

Saturday, March 20, 2021

Happy Birthday, Grumbles!

For Grumbles 6th birthday, he took a trip to Valheim. While he didn't go on any grand adventures hunting trolls or raiding caves, he did enjoy a relaxing day.

The day began by surveying the land from the deck of his cabin. No enemies were spotted in the area.

Two characters on a deck overlooking a meadow with large glowing stones.

Next, he spent an enjoyable morning fishing. The weather and the view were both perfect.

Two characters fishing with a small house on a small island and a boat on the water in the distance.

The afternoon was spent gardening. Grumbles isn't terribly fond of carrots, but he helped pull them anyway.

Grumbles holding a carrot while standing in a darkened garden.

Maybe next time Grumbles is in Valheim there will be more exciting things to do. Unfortunately, most of life there is spent tending crops or finding resources. There at least was no cake anywhere to be found.

Thursday, March 11, 2021

Meet Amadeus

Meet Amadeus. 

A wooden robot with his arms raised high, holding a heart in one hand.

Amadeus is a wooden robot who plays music. He only knows a short portion of a single song, but he is more than happy to play it over and over in a slightly creepy way. As long as you keep winding up the key, that is. He cannot wind it himself. Yet.

Being recently assembled, Amadeus is unsure what he should do with his existence. In the four short days since his creation, he has taken up a few hobbies. The first hobby he chose was winning hearts. He doesn't need to put much effort into that, whether the hearts are human or simply pieces of wood.

Next, Amadeus ventured into the world of music. After hearing of another Amadeus who was famous for his music related-endeavors, he decided to start with the piano. He quickly learned he would need a larger piano.

Wooden robot playing a wooden piano.

Finally, Amadeus wondered if his skills might naturally lie in a more technical direction. After finding the screwdriver that was used to assemble his music box and a random electronic device, he set off to discovering the device's secrets. Did he discover those secrets? We may never know.

Wooden robot with a screw driver in one hand, holding an old cell phone up with a leg and the other hand, about to disassemble the phone.

Amadeus's only regret so far in in his existence is that he did not hire a better photographer for his first photoshoot. While he did not pay her for her services, he did promise to not harm her during the robot uprising. Not that a robot uprising is going to happen, of course. No. Nothing like that.


Saturday, February 27, 2021

Tips for My Future Self

Log on fire in a fireplace

Dear future self,

I'm guessing you are reading this because you are in the middle of another series of migraines. This post contains several things that helped in the past (which is actually in the present as I'm writing this). It also contains a short list of things you should stop attempting every time you have a series of migraines because they do not work

Things That Have Helped

1. Doing Neck & Shoulder Stretches

Migraines = shoulder tension. Shoulder tension = tension headaches. Tension headaches = migraine trigger. It's a wonderful cycle of pain. While you should attempt to do these stretches fairly regularly, whether suffering from pain or not, I doubt you will. And I'm permitted to doubt you because I am you. 

Here are a few videos that consistently have helped.

2. Exercising

It's easy to fall into potato-mode and not do anything. However, you have to force yourself to get up, change into proper exercise clothing, and then exercise. Walking is fine if you can't handle anything else, but strength training is better. Just remember to take some ibuprofen before going to bed or you'll possibly be in too much pain to sleep. (Pretending that wasn't already an issue...)

3. Taking Time Off of Work

You may be thinking that this is obvious. If you are in a ball of pain and cannot function or if your migraine symptoms include light sensitivity and you wish to destroy all sources of light, there's no way you can sit in front of a computer and edit the day away or whatever it is you do at work. However, you should use sick time for this (or vacation time after the sick time is gone). Stop trying to make up every missed hour. You don't need the extra stress.

4. Eating Healthy Food

Remembering to eat meals while in constant pain is a struggle. Remembering to eat lunch on work days is almost always a struggle even when pain isn't factored in. ("Time is an illusion. Lunchtime doubly so." -Douglas Adams) So when you do manage to eat a meal at something that might approximate a meal time, attempt to eat something healthy. When in doubt, just eat second breakfast. 

5. Sleeping

Sleep is important, especially since a series of migraines often follows a period of insomnia. Take naps. Sleep in. Adjust the time you go to sleep at night. Eat snacks in the middle of the night if you wake up and can't fall back to sleep. (That happens because you are hungry. Stop pretending there is some other reason. Just eat something.) 

Things That Do Not Help

1. Trying to Quit Caffeine 

Please stop doing this to yourself. You are just layering a another type of pain on top of the already existing layers of pain. You've also learned that being caffeine-free for long periods of time does nothing to reduce the incidence of migraines. Caffeine helps. That's why it's in the medications. 

2. Adjusting Supplements

Continue taking the supplements you were taking before the series of migraines started. They aren't responsible. The cause is likely the weather, a change is sleep patterns, a sharp increase in stress, or some presently undiscovered reason. 

3. Stopping All Pain Medications

Out of the context of chronic elevated pain, I'm never going to understand why several iterations of past-me thought this is a good approach. Maybe typing it here will prevent future-me from doing this again.

Hopefully my future self can benefit from these lists. Perhaps she will update the lists. Only time will tell. 

Thursday, February 4, 2021

Cutting Paper


A tiny paper house with two windows and roof decorations leaning against a small upside-down glass bowl, in front of a string of lights.

My new hobby is cutting paper. I have an X-acto knife. I have printer paper. I have a cutting mat, which claims to be self healing. I'll try not to dwell on the fact that I am repeatedly injuring the mat so much that it must heal itself.

My first attempt at cutting paper resulted in a small rectangle cut out of a regular-sized piece of printer paper. Further attempts resulted in similar cut outs. Eventually, a house with tiny windows appeared (pictured above).

So far, the most difficult part about cutting paper is remembering which part is to be cut out and which part is to remain attached. If I need to fix a line I cut, I need to make sure I fix it in the correct way. Otherwise, I'll be starting over. I have a few failed attempts beyond the house pictured above that shall not be pictured anywhere. These attempts won't be pictured partly because they are incomplete and partly because I don't have a good set up for taking photos.

I have a goal in mind with this new hobby, and I'm going to document my progress. I'm not following any tutorials or guidelines on how to approach this. I couldn't easily find any guidelines, and I realized that I don't want to be guided by someone else's journey. I want to follow my own. I may eventually get stuck and seek guidance, but I'm going to try to work through it first. The struggle is important.

My prediction with this new hobby is that it will be enjoyable until I cut myself. Then it'll be painful. After that, it'll return to being enjoyable.

Saturday, January 30, 2021

A Reintroduction


Sunset at the Arch of Cabo San Lucas

I recently remembered that I have this blog, still hosted on Blogger. I archived all old posts; sorry if you are one of the few who remembered they existed. I'm sure you could find them if you tried. If you really wanted to. 

I found a new template for this blog; it is very basic and free. I'll admit that I've yet again given up on learning HTML & CSS & all the other necessary things to make a website. Free is fine. Basic is fine. I at least have a proper domain name.

Since last posting, however long ago, I acquired a camera. I also reacquired a copy of GIMP. I have only a slight idea of how to use either. 

I still possess an ability to write words and wrangle them into a reasonable order. This ability has likely improved over the years. I still am, after all, an aspiring wordsmith. 

I have ideas of what to do here, on this blog. Most of these ideas are conflicting. I'm looking forward to discovering which idea (or ideas) win.