A Tangled Challenge


Now that I’ve been at home for almost two months looking for new fun museum jobs (and volunteering at happy museums too!), I’ve started to go a little stir crazy.  Yes, I’m still writing my NaNoWriYearISwearIWillFinishIt novel, and working on some new exciting Etsy projects (more on that in an upcoming post), but I’m looking for a bit more to do.  

After going to see Frozen (amazing, btw!), Hubby and I have been blasting Disney music throughout the apartment.  As “When Will My Life Begin?” from Tangled came on, Hubby turned to me and pondered, “I wonder if you could actually do all of the things Rapunzel does in a day?  It would certainly keep you busy!”  Interesting concept.  Let’s take a look at everything Rapunzel accomplishes in a day:

“When Will My Life Begin?”

7 AM, the usual morning lineup:
Start on the chores and sweep ’til the floor’s all clean
Polish and wax, do laundry, and mop and shine up
Sweep again, and by then it’s like 7:15.

And so I’ll read a book
Or maybe two or three
I’ll add a few new paintings to my gallery
I’ll play guitar and knit
And cook and basically
Just wonder when will my life begin?

Then after lunch it’s puzzles and darts and baking
Paper mache, a bit of ballet and chess
Pottery and ventriloquy, candle making
Then I’ll stretch, maybe sketch, take a climb,
Sew a dress!

And I’ll reread the books
If I have time to spare
I’ll paint the walls some more,
I’m sure there’s room somewhere.
And then I’ll brush and brush,
and brush and brush my hair
Stuck in the same place I’ve always been.

And I’ll keep wonderin’ and wonderin’
And wonderin’ and wonderin’
When will my life begin?

And tomorrow night,
Lights will appear
Just like they do on my birthday each year.
What is it like
Out there where they glow?
Now that I’m older,
Mother might just
Let me go …

Whew!  That is a lot of stuff!  But you know what?  Why not!  I’ll have to reorganize a few things (downstairs neighbors probably won’t like the laundry going at 7am), and maybe substitute in a couple of things too, but this sounds like fun!  Ironically, tomorrow is my birthday, but as it’s already in the afternoon today, I’ll have to save my Rapunzel day for later this week.  Okay, I’m getting pumped for this.  I’ll post pictures and updates afterwards!
Challenge accepted!

Torchwood (or, the moment I realized I shared the stage with the real Captain Jack Harkness)

I’ve been continuing my quest to become as geeky as possible (I have a ways to go, but I’m enjoying my journey), and as such I’m finally watching Doctor Who and Torchwood. As I have never seen either one, I’m watching them chronologically with each other (i.e. stopping after “Blink” to watch season 1 of Torchwood, then picking up with “Utopia”, and so forth). I’m quite enjoying it so far. I’m up to Season 4 of Doctor Who, and David Tennant is my current favorite doctor. Still waiting to find my favorite companion. Rose is good, I wasn’t a big fan of Martha. I know future companions are other people’s favorites, so we’ll see! I’ve managed to stay rather spoiler-free of future events, aside from knowing when the Doctor regenerates.

minor spoilers ahead…

Back to Torchwood. I definitely enjoy the more adult concepts, and it’s a much darker show. As I wrap up Season 1, I am excited to see how the characters will develop, and if there’s more interaction with the Doctor Who characters. I had a super-OMG moment when I was watching the second to last episode of the season, “Captain Jack Harkness.” In the episode, we meet the real Captain Jack Harkness. As the character came on the screen, I knew I recognized him, but my little brain just couldn’t place him. When I looked it up, I gasped to see that it was Matt Rippy of The Reduced Shakespeare Company. Now, I adore the RSC, and make it a point to go to any of their shows whenever they’re in town. Basically, they take serious topics, like Shakespeare, American History or Sports, and condense them into a play full of hilarity as performed by three guys. Check them out at www.reducedshakespeare.com My favorite show of theirs is their first show, The Complete Works of Shakespeare (abridged). It’s all 47 of Shakespeare’s plays in 97 minutes, including the sonnets as well (actually, Act II is primarily Hamlet). We performed it in high school (with more than the required 3 actors), and I was hooked ever since. I’ve seen them perform in London, DC (several times), Virginia and Washington. During the Hamlet portion of the show, they break the Ophelia character down into her id, ego and superego using audience participation, which all culminates with one female audience member being pulled on stage to stand in a pool of red light and scream. This had been my dream to do for years (I’m a dork, I know), and in 2010 it finally came true. Hubby and I drove from DC down to Reston, Virginia to see the RSC perform, and I knew we had front row seats, so I was keeping my fingers crossed. I saw the actors eying me throughout the show, and I was ecstatic when one of them pulled me onstage to be Ophelia. Who pulled me onstage, you ask? None other than Matt Rippy. He was awesome (gorgeous blue eyes!) and kept asking me quietly if I was comfortable. I gave him a thumbs up and when my time came, I gave my scream my all. You could hear a pin drop in the theatre. Best. Night. Ever. It made the holiday letter that year. And now it has more meaning now that I know that he is the real Captain Jack Harkness. Swoon.

The Legend of Darmok and Jalad

Preface: I wrote this story a couple of years ago, but I’ve dragged it out to share with you fine folks. I wanted to tell some of the original myths that the sayings the Tamarians (from the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode “Darmok”) use come from. I couldn’t fit all of the sayings in the story, so there may be a sequel at some point, but for now: enjoy!

The Legend of Darmok and Jalad

Part One: To Tanagra

Darmok of Kanza and Jalad of the Kituay decided to go to Tanagra one day, for it was said to be the most beautiful island on the planet of Shantil Three. They set out on their quest on a bright, though cold, sunny morning, the blue sun shining on their bald heads. They knew that it would take several weeks to get to Tanagra, trekking though forest, desert and over an ocean, but they weren’t in any particular hurry.

As they dawdled along, Jalad sang a happy trekking song. Suddenly, Darmok shushed him, hearing something in the distance. Darmok and Jalad moved quietly toward the source of the sound. Through the trees, they saw a giant in a clearing. The giant was cowering against a cliff, shielding his face from a coven of crows who were flying around, trying to peck at his eyes. In the rocks of the cliff sat hundreds of nests, some carrying eggs, others with shrieking baby birds. As they examined the situation more deeply, Darmok and Jalad noticed that the hem of the giant’s tunic was stuck in a crevice in the cliff, so the crows believed their nests were in danger. Jalad glanced at Darmok and, with a silent nod, unsheathed his dagger and moved across the clearing as Darmok strode around the other side of the clearing, his own dagger in hand. They swiftly simultaneously attacked the giant’s tunic, cutting the fabric away from the face of the cliff. The giant stumbled away, waving his hands around his head to rid himself of the last of the crows. At the edge of the clearing, he slowly lowered his weary arms and blinked his eyes in the bright sunlight. Suddenly, he cried out, “Sokath, my eyes uncovered!” Finally, the giant, Sokath, lumbered into the trees, smiling, and Darmok and Jalad continued on their way to Tanagra.

The two intrepid travelers next came to a walled city under siege. The city called Shaka was under attack by the warlord Uzani. He was a crafty warlord who was notorious for his skills at strategy. As Uzani’s army marched on Shaka, warriors with large catapults hurled boulders at the city walls and pounded on the gates with log rams. As the large doors started to splinter, the warriors of Shaka ran out to meet the army, leaving the women, children and elderly inside the walls of the city. The warriors of Shaka were alone against their enemy, when suddenly fresh hordes of Uzani’s soldiers ran from the trees, encircling the poor warriors. Shaka’s warriors were slaughtered by Uzani’s strategy, which he titled “fists open and closed.” One of the fallen warriors, Kiazi, as he was losing consciousness from loss of blood, could hear his children’s cries from the city, and knew that their faces were wet with tears. Before the sun had moved far in the sky, the city walls started to crumble and teeter. Finally, with a loud crash, the walls failed and tumbled down one after another. “Shaka!” Uzani’s warriors shouted, “And the walls fell.” Darmok and Jalad skirted around the edge of the doomed city of Shaka, not wanting to attract the notice of the plundering warriors.

After several weeks of traveling, Darmok and Jalad finally reached an ocean. They looked at each other, puzzled about how to cross it. Suddenly, they heard a loud rumble. They turned around in time to find the giant Sokath crashing through the forest, crows at his eyes again. He had his head buried in his hands, crying out, “Sokath, my eyes closed!” as he scattered snapped trees in his wake. Darmok and Jalad looked at each other and shrugged, then set to dragging the snapped tree trunks to the beach and tied them together with vines. As the season was turning warm, Jalad volunteered his cloak to become a small sail. They placed their raft, which they named Mirab, in the ocean and were relieved to see that it floated. After three days of drinking rainwater and eating marine life that they caught, they saw a glimpse of land in the distance. Their hopes high, the two intrepid travelers paddled hard to reach Tanagra before sundown, for Darmok and Jalad were on the ocean, Tanagra was on the ocean, and soon Darmok and Jalad would be at Tanagra.

Part Two: At Tanagra

Tanagra was a lush island, filled with large foliage and fronds, as well as tiny annoying biting insects. As Darmok and Jalad explored Tanagra, they came to realize that there were few, if any, large animals on the island. There were birds and rodents aplenty, but nothing larger than the mythical Klingon targ. They found a small waterfall to camp near at dusk and settled down for the night. In the middle of the night, Darmok woke with a start, hearing a strange noise. He looked around, noticing that the second moon was rising in the east. He rolled over and started; Jalad was not there! Darmok noticed that there were scuff marks around the area where Jalad had been sleeping. It looked like he had been dragged away, leaving a broken dagger behind. Darmok sheathed Jalad’s dagger alongside his own and followed the tracks along the slow-moving river to a cave. As the sky lightened in the east, Darmok steeled himself and entered the cave.

The cave was a dark, musty, murky place. The light from the rising sun only penetrated a little ways into the cave, but Darmok had excellent night vision. As he slowly walked through the caverns, Darmok, though frightened, tried to slow his breathing and quiet his heart in order to listen for any sounds of Jalad. After what felt like an eternity, he finally heard soft scuffing coming from the cavern to his left. There lay Jalad, an oozing wound on his head. Darmok fell to his knees and cradled Jalad’s head in his lap. “The Beast at Tanagra,” Jalad whispered, and Darmok understood. There was a monster on this island, and it had found its next prey. Darmok hoisted Jalad up and swung his arm over his shoulder, supporting his friend as they started to slowly hobble towards the exit. Their spirits rose as they saw sunlight streaming through the entrance of the cave. Darmok thought he heard a stirring behind him, but was unsure over the sounds of their stumbling. The two partners made it back to the waterfall without incident.

Darmok lay his companion gently down on his bedroll. Jalad was barely conscious, his eyelids fluttering. Darmok tried to stop the flow of blood gushing from Jalad’s head, but it was too much too fast. Suddenly, Jalad’s eyes flew open! “The Beast at Tanagra!” he cried out. Darmok instinctively ducked and rolled to one side. He felt the breeze as something just missed the back of his neck. He whirled and saw the Beast. It was monstrous: taller than Darmok by at least three heads and over twice as wide. Along with its six-inch knife-like claws on all four fingers on each hand and a maw-full of razor-sharp teeth, it also had spiked horns covering its head. Darmok noticed that some of the horns already had white blood on them. Jalad’s blood. The Beast lunged again and Darmok dove for the river. He plunged into the cold water and surfaced, gasping. The Beast was striding powerfully into the river after him. Darmok wanted to keep the Beast as far away from Jalad as he could. He felt around as he made his way to the far bank and came up with some small stones. Clutching his dagger in one hand, Darmok threw the stones with all of his strength, hitting the Beast in the chest, but the Beast did not seem to notice. As the Beast neared, it lunged for a third time. Darmok swung his dagger and struck the horns on the Beasts head. The Beast lurched, knocking Darmok’s dagger from his hand. Darmok grasped Jalad’s broken dagger with his last hopes. He plunged the shattered blade towards the Beast and embedded it deeply in the Beast’s eye. The Beast howled and clambered down the river, leaving Darmok to struggle back across the river to Jalad. He looked down into Jalad’s eyes, but saw that his friend was gone.

Part Three: After Tanagra

Knowing that the Beast was still alive on the island, wounded and angry, Darmok rushed to leave Tanagra. He refused to leave Jalad’s body there where the Beast could get to it, so he lay Jalad on his own cloak and dragged him to the coast. He placed Jalad on the raft Mirab and cast off. Darmok left Tanagra with sails unfurled, fleeing from the Beast and the horrors that occurred there. He buried Jalad at sea, keeping only his spirit talismans. Darmok fell asleep on Mirab and dreamed. He dreamed of a desert-like land, hot with scraggly trees. There was a Tamarian there, along with a bald man with oddly smooth pink skin. He heard the bald man speak of creatures called Gilgamesh and Enkidu at Uruk. Though Darmok did not know this metaphor, he found the bald man’s story soothing. It helped to ease his troubled mind and he dreamed more easily, for Darmok was alone on the ocean, floating through the night.

Obligatory Red Wedding Post *SPOILERS AHEAD*


Ahem.  Now that the spoilerific warning is out of the way, we can begin.  Hubby and I have been catching up on watching Game of Thrones these last few months.  Now, I was in the process of reading books 1-4 before watching any of the series, so I knew what was going to happen, in general.  Hubby, on the other hand, has never read the books nor paid attention to io9 or other website concerning spoilers, so he has been blissfully in the dark about the plot and who all gets killed.

It took a little while for Hubby to get into Game of Thones, which I can totally understand. It took every ounce of my being to not grab the remote and pound on the ‘pause’ button to explain how so-and-so are related and what this-and-that means. Be cool I thought, Let him find out for himself. As the seasons progressed, Hubby got more into the show. He started voicing concern for the characters and wondering who was going to live or die. I bit my tongue throughout and gave vague answers.

But I knew what was coming. The Rains of Castamere. I felt like it was 2005 and opening day of Serenity all over again. That day, I didn’t have any classes, so I went by myself to the 10am showing. And cried. Like a baby. Y’all know which scenes I’m talking about. Then, later that afternoon, then-boyfriend Hubby and I went to go see it (the only time I’ve ever seen a movie twice in one day in the theatre). By the time those scenes came up, I was shaking and tearing up in anticipation. Anywho, back to GoT: Knowing that this was the Red Wedding episode, I stealthily stashed a box of tissues next to the couch and clutched a pillow to my chest. I don’t think I let a peep out until the end of the episode, when Hubby turned to me incredulously, asking if the Red Wedding was true. I said yes, Mama Stark and Baby Stark (as we called them–yes, we know Rickon and Bran are younger, but Catelyn and Robb were always together, so those were their nicknames) are dead, along with Papa Stark from season 1.

Long story short, we’ve survived the Red Wedding. As Hubby reads this blog, I can’t comment on what will happen in the future, as Season 4 picks up with the second half of A Storm of Swords. Needless to say, I’m excited to see how future events play out!

Lunar Insignia

Lunar Insignia

This is my entry for Marissa Meyer’s “The Lunar Chronicles” Lunar Insignia contest. I wanted a simple design with some symbolic elements. After reading the Lunar History, I decided that the base of the insignia should be a lunar eclipse to signify that the Lunars are coming out from being eclipsed by Earthen society and are now their own republic. I created a language for the Lunars based on molecular DNA because that is what sets them apart from Earthens. The motto at the bottom of the insignia reads “Eclipsed No More”.

Check out Marissa’s amazing futuristic retellings of fairy tales at http://www.marissameyer.com/books. I cannot wait for Cress, the third book in the Lunar Chronicles series!

Summer 2013: Revenge of the Fleas, Part 2–Mothra Attacks!

Now that the fleas from Part 1 of this post are “all gone, all dead and gone” (Cat Ballou quote there for those who missed it), we turn the attention of our tale to the museum world.

As I have mentioned before, I work at a local history museum that recently completed a move of all of its artifacts from three locations to one new one. During the move, I began to work heavily with our textile collection, including packing and unpacking clothing that was stored hanging on racks with a piece of muslin thrown over them. After finding serious amounts of bug “debris” under the clothing, we decided to freeze the costumes (at least 60 racks-worth, not including a lot of boxes and rolled textiles). Freezing is good for killing creepy crawly things, but then there is the long task of going through each garment and checking for pests and vacuuming them. This is going to take us quite a while to accomplish. My goal is to at least finish vacuuming all of the rugs before I leave the museum when my contract expires at the end of November.

Needless to say, we have been doing our utmost to prevent pests from entering the collections storage space. However, as I’ve been freezing smaller boxes in our freezer (it has a sign specifying it is for “IPM Use Only” (that’s Integrated Pest Management), so no frozen food allowed), this post-it caused my heart to stop for a moment:

This note was found on a plastic bag *ACK!* with a gorgeous red 1930s dress inside of it. After consulting our records, it seemed that someone had left that note on the bag and dumped it on the shelf for over ten years *DOUBLE ACK!* So when the two weeks of freezing were up, I was obviously rather trepidatious to look over the dress to see what kind of monster was lying dead inside of it. After careful examination, I found…nothing. Absolutely nothing. No bugs, no pests, no casings, not even holes in the dress. Though I was relieved, I was actually a bit disappointed as well after all of that setup. However, the worst was yet to come.

In general, pests are not our friends in the museum world, but some are worse than others. For example, while we (especially I) don’t like spiders, they don’t eat the artifacts, and in fact will eat the other bugs that do eat the artifacts. Carpet beetles and moths (specifically they’re respective larvae) are much more of an issue, as they are voracious eaters of woven materials. We have found many carpet beetle casings in our vacuuming escapades, but nothing remotely alive (or recently dead). So it came as a complete surprise one afternoon when I was putting hats on a shelf and looked down to find a moth sitting calmly next to a hat. I knew I didn’t want to squish the intruder; rather, I wanted to capture it alive to question it on how it made it through all of our security checkpoints and if it had brought any friends with it. Well, no, not really, but I did want to be able to identify the species so we could set out the appropriate moth traps. A roll of packing tape and a box of labels proved to be an adequate moth containment system. I quickly found my coworkers and explained the situation. This was the general reaction:

In the end, we ended up killing Mothra, who tried valiantly to escape from his packing tape and box entrapment. The next two days were spent fervently repacking hundreds upon hundreds of hats (which I had just finished unpacking) because they had not undergone the freezing process.

Long story short, we’ve seen a couple of moths since the initial Mothra incident, usually about once a month. It’s strange, because not all of them have been ones that are considered to be textile pests; rather they are the typical large grey ones you find outside at night. One unexpected bonus for me is that I’ve become the go-to pest identification person. I’m getting good at telling the difference between a webbing clothes moth and a casemaking clothes moth. This has been quite an interesting experience, and only time will tell if all of our hard work in prevention and containment in pest management will pay off.

Summer 2013: Revenge of the Fleas, Part 1

For the past several months, I’ve been keeping a running list on my iPhone of things to blog about. Some of them don’t make sense any more (“Think of the leftovers”?). However, at the very top of the list is a single word: Fleas.

I seriously hope I’m not jinxing myself by writing this, but here goes. You may recall last October that we had a bit of a flea problem in our furry-pet-free apartment. We managed to eliminate them last year, though we never came to a definite conclusion as to where they came from. Fast forward to May 2013. I wake up one day and notice bites on my legs. Not again! I moan. However, this time it’s a little different. I seem to be getting bit when I’m on the couch or out on the deck, rather that in other parts of the apartment (Hubby was actually getting bit as well this time too). Odd. I got extremely frustrated, to the point of writing a song about the experience, set to the tune of I Dreamed A Dream from Les Miserables for I was miserable (Author’s note: this was written very late one night while hyped up on Benadryl. No attempts at editing or rhyming has been made. You have been warned.):

I dreamed a dream there were no fleas
That my skin was smooth and silky
I dreamed the fleas were never here
Cause they breed like tiny tribbles

But the fleas come at night
With their mandibles sharp as knives
As they tear my flesh apart
As they turn my legs to itchiness

I don’t have any dogs of any breed
Or cats or rats or hamsters
I only have frogs and snails and fish
So where do the fleas exist?!?

I had a dream my life would be
So different from this hell I’m living
So different from this life of fleas
Now fleas have killed my dreams

Thank you. Thank you very much.

Let’s backtrack a month. In April, we had another pair (or the same pair from last year, we’re not sure) of house finches build a nest in our hanging fuchsia plant on our deck. By the time we noticed the nest, they had already started laying eggs, so we let them continue. After they were done and the fledglings had flown the coop, we put up netting around the plant. While the fledglings were cute and all, it was a major nuisance to have them there dive-bombing at us whenever we stepped outside. We couldn’t use our deck at all, no grilling, nothing. And the 4am cheeping feedings were disrupting our sleep cycles. Hence the netting to prevent future bird couples from using the fuchsia. Or so we thought. House finches are smart birds! They managed to find the seams in the netting and made their way in and started building a new nest. Oy! I gave the birds a stern talking to and told them to pretend a hurricane just happened and blew their plant away as I got rid of their empty nest and brought the plant indoors for a few weeks.

Okay, back to May. Hubby said he thought he saw some bugs around the fuchsia on the floor of the living room. After a conversation with my Aunt, I came to realize that we had bird fleas, which can live in nests. Ah hah! That explained why they were in the living room and on the deck. After thoroughly scouring the apartment with flea spray a couple of times (ours is a peppermint/nutmeg spray that makes everything smell like Christmas), we are finally flea-free for the time being.

Lesson learned: don’t bring plants that had nests in them inside!

Oh, and that giant dog from upstairs that I still believe was the source of the fleas last year? It just moved out 🙂