Pesky Pests

Another year, another laughable harvest. Too much sun, too little rain, invasive weeds, you name it, we’re battling it. This time around, however, we got a whole new problem to deal with; Bugs. Big, squishy-looking, purple bugs that really creep me out. Nibbling away at the tender green leaves of the unripe eggplants, it seemed as if yet another summer’s planting would be doomed, eaten away before it had even finished growing. Thanks to the kind folk who heard my panicked cries on Flickr, however, help came just in the nick of time. Who knew that by simply planting a companion plant that those malicious pests would instantly give up the fight and relocate? It was magical, I tell you! One day they’re munching away without a care in the world, the next, not a single buggy body to be found.

Of course, things couldn’t just be that simple… Now, we have a whole new cast of characters to contend with…

Slugs!

The good news is that these guys are at least a bit less voracious, and the leaves seem to be slowly growing back, but there’s just no easy fix, huh?

I can only hope that they leave one or two eggplants for us!

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Lobster’s Revenge

I can’t imagine the life of a professional chef, suffering from a case of the Mondays. Thankfully, I’m not in this position and don’t see it happening any time soon, but just imagine it: Every day’s same thing. Orders come in, food gets cooked, people get fed. Surrounded by such monotony, day in and day out, it’s easy to see how any chef can become jaded by working the line. Even the most delicate and difficult tasks don’t quicken the heartbeat like they used to, and the food is nothing more than another thing, not a meal, not a work of art, and certainly not something that was once growing or alive. The distance and apathy this creates can wreak havoc in the kitchen, especially when even the task at hand doesn’t hold any meaning for the chef.

Such was the downfall of the Uncaring Chef. Swaggering about without a thought worth two cents, he only goes through the motions instead of paying attention to every new order. Lobster was on the menu, and while he found the giant bugs more creepy than intimidating, far be it from him to break the routine and make a fuss over dispatching them. Hastily dropping the live crustacean into a pot, the Uncaring Chef turned his back on the lobster’s painful death, and moved on to more pertinent issues, such as puffing on cigarettes and cursing like a sailor.

But little did he know, the lobster had not met its untimely demise after all- In his rush, the Uncaring Chef had forgotten to put a lid on the pot, and that sea critter was not happy at all about being par-cooked. Crawling out of harm’s way, it wasn’t long before the lobster found much more effective implements than his already sharp claws…

Lying in wait for the Careless Chef to return, this lucky creature would make sure he didn’t meet the same fate as those others already served as the daily special. No, that chef had better be careful… The tables have finally begun to turn.

A Column of Kittens

Space is at a premium in my shoe box of a dorm room. Barely larger than your average closet, I can pretty much touch each wall without leaving my bed- And believe me, I have very short arms! Mercifully, it is a single room intended for only one occupant, so it’s not as if I’m tripping over another person in these already cramped quarters. By the same token, it’s awkward to invite friends over when you pretty much need to sit back-to-back in order to be comfortable. The smallest of my companions are sometimes inconvenienced as well, but to my great delight, it seems as if some have adapted beautifully to the less than optimal conditions.

Peeking out from behind a row of text books and novels, three clever kitties took it upon themselves to conserve space on my bulging bookshelf. Stacked up in a tower of rectangular plush bodies, I was worried that they might be uncomfortable, or even worse, be at risk to topple over. After much reassurance and a day or two without incidence, they found that they actually preferred this arrangement, happily balancing close to each other. And with all the room that they’re saving me, who am I to argue!

Available at MochiMochi Land, you can now knit a set of compact cats for yourself. No matter how spatially compromised your home is, they’re sure to fit in perfectly!

Island of Misfit Toys

…Or really, island of misfit pictures. Hopefully none of you have been there too often, as it’s a terribly sad place, where all the blurry, over-exposed, and badly framed photographs go to die. Having sworn up and down that none of my own captures would ever find their way into that forsaken place, my heart sank all the way down to my small intestine when I discovered just that nestled into my very own hard drive. Sequestered in a quiet corner of my computer, there they lay for well over a year, waiting hopefully for their turn to be featured on the blog. I’m saddened to say that now it’s just too late; They’re no longer up to my personal standards, and to foist such amateurish work upon you, my dear readers, would make me feel like a rip-off artist. Any story that accompanied such poor illustrations would be instantly cheapened, so bear with me through this post while I simply clean out the plushies in my closet.

Second photo ops are not an option, as all of these toys have moved on to other homes, but I’d like to take a moment just to remember them, and give a few of these photos their moment in the sun.

Sheldon

Pug and Chihuahua

Cat Keyboard Buddy

Simple Lion

Growing, Growing, Gone!

Gardening is certainly not my forte, as some of you might remember from previous “harvests.” Despite the overwhelming evidence that I should just leave those poor seeds alone and let someone with a green thumb take over, I just can’t seem to help myself, and have taken on yet another sprouting project even before the snow could stop falling from a wintry sky. Right from the start, I’ve broken the rules; Never start planting before the ground is at least 40 degrees! so many guides shout with conviction. Rebellious by nature, those words of warning didn’t even phase me, especially if I could sidestep the issue altogether by planting indoors. With this new approach, it must certainly be easier to monitor temperatures, waterings, and control the pests all at once, and so my little herb garden was started. Containing oregano, chives, parsley, and basil, it was really more of an exercise in plant-care than a real attempt at producing anything edible. So into fresh dirt those dry little seeds went, and the oblong planter nestled perfectly onto the narrow window sill.

That was 5 weeks ago today, and if you happened to be watching the periodic updates I’ve been posting on Flickr, then you would already know that those tiny kernels did indeed take root and sprout, pushing their way up through the dirt to greet the sunlight warming them. I can scarcely believe it- They’re so green, so lush, so… Alive! I’ve never been able to grow anything quite so vibrant before! Blossoming not into flowers but into something of a second family, seeing them sitting there patiently every time I return from classes is like a greeting from a loyal friend. Now they’re more than just little herbs to me, and I’ve taken even greater care to ensure their survival.

By no means does that imply it’s been smooth sailing all along. Just when the success of this gardening venture seemed like a sure thing, the foliage growing greener and lusher by the day, a shocking turn of events thoroughly shook my confidence. A few days ago, I had a little scare when I discovered clumps of greenery missing, some leaves with teethmarks still intact. Bewildered by what could be causing an infestation in my sheltered little dorm room, I guarded my helpless herbs from further attack, waiting to see what malevolent creature would wish to mow down my precious garden. No way was I about to let some unknown eater claim all of my hard work as their dinner!

Well it didn’t take long for the perpetrator to reveal himself- In no time at all, out from behind my bedside table came a yellow blur, dashing towards the plants! Quickly I sprang into action and confronted this… Monster?!

Heart pounding at first glance, fearful of a new and potentially dangerous creature, I couldn’t comprehend what on earth this hungry little guy was until I took a deep breath and a step back…

That’s right, my pest, my horrible and careless destroyer was actually a tiny giraffe, a peaceful herbivore- Not so unlike myself! I thought with surprise. The poor guy, I’m sure he was simply starving by now thanks to this prolonged winter, and still no greenery in sight. Still, that didn’t mean I was about to surrender my hard-earned herb garden! Instead, coaxing the frightened critter away from my sprouts, I dug into my fridge and offered up some leafy kale as a peace offering. Timidly nibbling about the edges at first, he soon warmed this alternative meal, and a new friendship was born. So long as I hit the salad bar everyday and bring him back the leftovers, he’s more than happy to stick around- But leave the herbs!

Bubble Bath Therapy

“Work” seems to have become synonymous with life these days, and it’s hard to deny that both the business and academic world are both moving at a break-neck pace. Everyone can identify with the frustration that there are too few hours in a day, and that “to-do” list that continues to grow faster than kudzu, no matter how many things are actually accomplished. At the tail end of those busy, stressful days when it’s nothing short of a miracle to have survived the pressure without cracking one bit, it’s usually the most that I can do to just dump my exhausted body into bed, lest I end up shattering at the last minute. Of course, with so many thoughts swirling around my burned-out brain, the sleep that follows is never restful, and then the following day is only that much more difficult to face. Seeking some way to unwind a bit to prevent that whirlwind of ideas from stealing away my sleep, I recently decided to turn away from the inviting bedroom, and instead toward… The bathroom.

That’s right, the old childhood joy of a bubble bath can also do wonders for the weary worker. Engulfed in warm, soothing water, it’s almost as if the stresses that would haunt me day and night are popping just like the bubbles before my eyes. Tucked in under that blanket of sweet-smelling foam, it’s like a dress rehearsal for the main act of somnolence, preparation and practice before trying the real thing. Strange as that may sound, I suppose I really had forgotten how best to drift into dreams at night, and this drill is a welcome reminder.

Rinsed clean of the endless stream of critical thoughts, constant worries, and nagging assignments, I emerge from this first bed of water, ready to stumble into the other one of fabric. As I stumble off to find my resting place, sleep has already begun to steal away at my consciousness. Taking one final glance back at the simple fixture that has set my mind at ease so effortlessly, I could swear that it was actually smiling at me.

But perhaps that was just a dream.

[The pattern for “Tubby” will be available on MochiMochi Land very soon, so stay tuned!]