Sunday, August 30, 2015

Vacation Week

Due to lots of house painting, repairs, and family gatherings, I missed my usual update this past week. Rather than try to rush an update now, I will simply say that I will be back on Wednesday or Thursday of this week. 

There will be lots of moving activity over the next few weeks, so expect another house update or two, as well as getting to know our new neighborhood. Ypsilanti is an active place with lots to do! I hope you enjoy exploring it with me. :)


Thursday, August 20, 2015

Our Return to the Toledo Zoo and Aquarium

About three years ago, my now fiance Greg and then roommate Kimmy all went to the Toledo Zoo and Aquarium. Yup, that's a zoo and aquarium all in one! Though the zoo part is admittedly much bigger than the aquarium part, the new expanded aquarium, which re-opened this year (we visited on the last day of its being open in 2012, coincidentally), has all kinds of sea, lake, and river life from all over the globe, and a hands-on pool where you can - gently and respectfully! - pet certain creatures. San Francisco's Aquarium of the Bay has a similar area where I once pet a shark! The pool in Toledo was surrounded by so many excited children, that Greg and I didn't bother waiting for it. Maybe some other time.

The aquarium is great, and not just because of all the cool stuff, like the pitch dark room with a wall of glowing eyes looking right at you. (!!) Actually, they're called Flashlight Fish and their eyes aren't what's glowing, it's the area right below their eyes, even though it does look like they are blinking at you. But no! That's not all! The aquarium is a great way to escape the heat for a bit. In 2012, we went in October, so the weather was on the cool side. Not so in August. So not only was the aquarium fun, but a needed break.

Up near the front of the zoo, Greg and I particularly enjoyed seeing the "deadly, deadly" cassowary, natives of New Guinea and Australia. We learned about the cassowary from an episode of House Hunters International. They're shy, but territorial, and possess a dagger-like claw on each foot that can cause serious damage by kicking, but has only resulted in one documented human death.

Toledo also has penguins, though I have to say the penguin enclosure is on the small side and not as impressive (or, admittedly, as smelly) as the penguinarium at the Detroit Zoo, which I remember reading a couple years ago is supposed to get a major face-lift and upgrade. The polar bear is cooler at the Detroit Zoo, as well, because there is a tube that goes under the water and you can look up at the animals swimming. We saw plenty of seals and the polar bear at Toledo, though, and there is a submerged viewing wall.

Near to the penguins, we found a Dippin' Dots stand. Greg had never had Dippin' Dots in his life, so I decided we had to get some, not because they're so great, but because when its so easy to try something you've never had before, why not do it? Greg was also able to finally pose sitting astride the tiger statue, something he wanted to do last time, but there were too many small children having their pictures taken to compete with. (It's a Dio reference that highly amuses him.)

I am hoping that next year, my brother, sister-in-law, and their kids can join us at the Toledo Zoo. Greg had a dream this time that they met us there, and I choose to take this as prophecy. (Though in the dream, only some of them were there, and I hope that everyone comes.) It's a bit of a drive from Kalamazoo, but it's also an adventure. Adventure!

Thursday, August 13, 2015

DIYpsi Summer 2015

This past weekend was the summer edition of DIYpsi! (There's another one just before the winter holidays that I am told is a great place to pick up unique gifts.) It's a pretty well-known craft fair here, possibly the biggest in A2/Ypsi (though I think it would be bigger if they didn't hold it at a brewery and allowed in people under 21). And I'd never been for the same reason I miss on most things in life: I was working. Also, events like this tend to close early, like around 6, the time I would be arriving if I opened that day. Saturdays, I always open. Lately, I've actually had most Sundays off, but this particular Sunday I had picked up a shift which took Sunday out of the picture. 

I was excited when I learned that Saturday's DIYpsi was going until 8pm. Finally, I'd get to attend this infamous local indie art fair! I know a lot of people who have sold there and I've been encouraged to get a table myself. (It sounds like fun, but I don't have enough stuff to sell at the moment, and I'm not sure I'd do well enough to make it worth it. Maybe if Greg made some things and we split a table.) 

When I got to the Corner Brewery, I found parking right away on the street. Cars are coming and going so frequently that I can't imagine parking is too big of a deal. The line to order food, however, was another story. I ended up buying a few scones from Jen Gossett of Fairytale Baked Goods, who Greg and I had met a few weeks before in the Downtown Ypsilanti Farmers Market. She remembered me! Her scones are delicious - both savory and sweet - and the fairy tale theme is just fun. I hope to see her in the market again soon. (Scones are good for a wedding reception, right...?)

There are all manner of things at DIYpsi. I saw lots of vegan soaps and lotions, beard balm and homemade brass beard combs, jewelry, robot heads (some that lit up), paintings, clothing, and crocheted and knitted and plushie fun things! I ended up just buying a housewarming present for a friend who reads my blog so I can't say what it is. But it's adorable, appropriate, and was handmade by another uber talented and fun friend of mine, Celena Lopez aka Diosa de la Luna. I also gathered up a bunch of business cards to investigate later when I inevitably need more people to interview for my Journal column. 

Since Greg couldn't go with me on Saturday, he went on Sunday and had his own adventure of beer and ice cream. He was sorely tempted to get one of the light-up robot heads, but it was too expensive for us right now. Hopefully when the December event rolls around we can have some time off together to go and hunt for nifty holiday gifts! 

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

From the Coffee Shop: Black Diesel Coffee in Ann Arbor

Nothing ever goes well. Or, more precisely, when one thing, or even a few things go well - splendidly well! - other things go very, very poorly. This weekend was abysmally full. I fought through, found a way to have some fun even, but only because I didn't realize what was being overlooked. Happiness comes at the cost of ignorance. 

So here I am, sitting in Black Diesel Coffee in Ann Arbor, remembering all of the things that I should have also accomplished this weekend, but didn't because they were crowded out by other things, some dire, some pleasant (but mostly the dire). And I can't do anything about it. I am thinking of moving seats, not because the counter is crowded, or the man next to me is loudly slurping his coffee, but because my belt keeps getting caught on the chair every time I straighten up. It is really very annoying and not helping my frustration. 

I've always been mistrustful of good moods. When things go well, it is only a set up for a terrible fall. Despite the stress this past weekend, I felt like I was on top of things, tenuous as that grasp was. I should have known better. I should have known I was missing something. Several somethings. Most are related to one of my hourly jobs, which, because it's hourly, I can't just pop into and clean things up whenever I want to. (I'm told there are legal reasons.) I have to wait until my shift starts, or close enough to when my shift starts so that the wielder of the paychecks doesn't go "Why am I paying you for an unscheduled extra hour (or more)?" 

It is also true that when things matter, like when I am sitting in for someone on a specific, slightly complicated task, things will go wrong. Computers will crash, the internet will stall, or - this is the best - the website I need to complete said task will go down. Also, the store will flood with customers, delaying two precious hours to complete said slightly complicated task in addition to technology fail. So on a short list of things to get done, I complete one. In six hours. I don't even get the chance to double-check the list because once that one task is done, it's on to another set of tasks that, at this point, take priority. 

If these things only affected me, it wouldn't be so bad. It's when they domino into other people and affect their tasks that frustrates me. Where to balance? Where to focus the effort? When to say, "Sorry, but this takes priority over that." What I accomplished definitely took priority over what I didn't, but it was, to quote Mr. Knightley, badly done and I don't like when things are badly done.

A strong scent of coffee has wafted my way. I can't decide if I like it or not. Today was not a coffee day, it was a chai latte day. I'm here killing time (and gnashing my teeth) between getting my hair cut and going into work. The chai is not as sweet as most chai lattes. I was forewarned by the barista that this is so and she suggested a drop of honey to make it taste more like people are used to. Honey is not my favorite sweetener, so I decided to try the chai first. I liked it fine, so I decided against adding honey.

Now the baristas and a customer are talking about Gishwhes, which some friends of mine are participating in. They're staging a picture for something, but I'm not sure what. I don't know what the tasks are. I don't have time to participate. I don't even have time to take a vacation, which I desperately need. 

I've been getting about 3 days off per month this summer because everyone else is taking vacations and they need someone to cover for them. Greg took his vacation without me, which is increasingly pathetic and depressing the more I think about it. I haven't even gone swimming, one of my favorite activities that I look forward to every year. No time. Gotta work. I actually have a whopping 5 days off in August, but it's mostly because I specifically requested them off due to obligations I have on those days (so are they really days off...?). 

I know I keep saying that I want to cut down on jobs so as to have more time to devote to writing, getting published, and life (yup, in that order), but I think 2016 will be the year. I will be in better financial shape than previously (our house is cheaper than our apartment) for starters. I really like my coworkers, though. We'll just have to also resolve to hang out more outside of work! In the meantime, I think I'll skip ahead in the time off request books and snag a few weekends this fall and winter.

Coffee shop air conditioning is proving too much for me. I think it's time to grab a sandwich and head into work early. Toodles!