Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Jury servcie

[ETA photos]

What I like:

  • The new(er) one day, one trial system

  • I always learn something new

  • Fulfilling a civic duty

  • Seeing our legal system at work, firsthand

  • Two 15-minute breaks; 90 minute lunches

  • Being able to take the bus to the courthouse

  • That the system works!

What I dislike:

  • Waiting to be called to selection panel

  • Harsh flourescent lighting

  • Being treated like I'm stupid by attorneys

  • Unreasonable fellow jurors (more a frustration than a dislike per se)

  • Not being able to knit

  • How time-consuming the process of the law is

I like jury service.  I don't really get those people who really hate it (though I can certainly understand if their employer doesn't pay) and do their utmost to get out of it.  I'm more likely than not to remain on a panel, simply because -- in my opinion -- my life experiences are not so dramatic or traumatic to have led me to form any biases, at least in the cases with which I've been involved.  So I sit where I sit, answer the questions, and don't try to fight it.

Because I wasn't able to bring knitting needles into the courthouse, I brought a book instead.  Which made me remember: I adore reading!  I got through about 60 pages of Ann Patchett's Bel Canto.   I'm glad to have rekindled my flame for the written word, but, rather ironically, at the end of the day, I'm not so sure I want to finish reading this particular book.  After thinking about what I'd read, it dawned on me that 100 or so pages into the book, I am not particulary engaged with any single character, nor am I very interested to discover what happens at the end.  Do I carry on and finish what I started, or do I read something that may be more enjoyable?  Or do I just go back to knitting?!

kouraku   daikokuya

In addition to the reading, my further treat was a nice lunch for each of the days I served.  I went in to Little Tokyo twice for ramen, which was perfect because the days were cooler and overcast.  On the first day I went to Kouraku -- haven't been there in a really long time.  Then, on Friday, I went to Daikokuya, and added a small beer to my order!  The superior bowl of ramen I had confirmed why I no longer go to Kouraku.  (It's a bit more expensive, but the portion is a bit bigger, too.  And the taste is vastly better.)  I also discovered that there is another Daikokuya in Monterey Park, so it's on my list of places to go. Yesterday, my last day, I went to Philippe's in Chinatown.  My French-dipped turkey sandwich was okay, but, as famous as it is, I didn't think Philippe's was all that.  I also discovered that I don't like walking around Chinatown: it's really old, and a little stinky...But I was glad to be out and about for an hour and a half in the middle of the day.

As much as I don't mind the actual service, there's a staleness about being in a courtroom all day, and a sense of having been plucked from real life.  After three days, I'm happy to be back at work and my routine.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Carefree in the capitol

We'd planned our trip to D.C. months ago because DC's vacation time is less flexible than mine.  So there was no real time to be tired from all the packing and moving out.  Before last month's end we were eastbound, to the capitol.

What an exciting descent! 

incomingdc   dcfromabove

jfkhallnationsWe arrived in the early evening and Metro'd over to Foggy Bottom, from whence it was a 3-minute walk to M2's apartment.  When M2 told me she lived right by the famous Watergate hotel, I didn't think she meant right across the street.  After a home-cooked dinner (so nice after a long day of traveling!), M2 said, "You guys wanna walk over to the Kennedy Center?  It's just five minutes away, and one of my favorite places," she added, encouragingly.  So we went.  Actually, hopped across a couple of streets.  The lights were on, but there were hardly any people about; it felt like we had the whole building to ourselves!  We pointed out various flags at the Hall of States and Hall of Nations, went up to the roof and saw the nighttime skyline, and even glimpsed the Thomas Jefferson memorial in the distance.  Not a bad first night!

DC lived in D.C. for almost five years, so our trip was a homecoming for him -- he didn't have to think twice about which Metro to take and where the stations were located.  He even gave me an old Metro pass, so transportation was a breeze.  (The D.C. Metro stations are really, really clean.  "Of course," says DC, "this is our nation's capitol!"  But I was a little bit disappointed that they all look the same and don't reflect the stop's attractions or history.  I'd rather have a clean station, though, so no real complaints. (^o^))  It was nice to have a guide who, moreover, pointed out the places where he once worked, studied, ate -- lived.  I enjoyed the trip down memory lane with him... but we were there to make new memories, too!

What really made this our trip was that we both got to meet up with our old friends, and in doing so, make new ones.  In addition to hanging out with M2, I got to see my old roommate, who I've not seen in two and a half years.  I also got to see a church friend who relocated after getting married a couple of months ago.  DC got to see his former classmates and co-workers.  And, through one of them, we scored a tour of the Senate side of the Capitol through the personal office of Senator Collins of Maine.  While on our way to her office, we saw Senator Kerry walking down the hall (shoulda snapped a photo)!  And later on, during our tour, DC recognized another senator (whose name escapes me).  We even got to ride the little underground trains between the buildings.  It made me feel very political.

It just so happened that the only week DC was able to travel was the week of the National Cherry Blossom festival.  My brother, after his first visit to D.C., recommended it at this time of year as an alternative to Japan.  At the time I was a little put off because the reason I go to Japan is more for the people than the petals.  Yet when I arrived to see them abloom in all corners and not just designated parks, I understood what my brother meant.  Though the sakura are truly breathtaking in Japan, I am equally fond of the ones in D.C. for the simple fact that they're interspersed among our national monuments.  A perfect, lovely crossing of cultures for me!



It was a bit grey and sometimes windy on the days we were out and about.  And although the threat of wet weather remained, the air got warmer as the week progressed.  My goal was to walk the National Mall from the Washington Monument all the way to the Lincoln.  That's a lot of steps!  But each one was totally worth it.  This sounds totally cheesy, but I felt so much happiness and pride to be among the great forefathers, leaders and important times in America's history.  And I soaked up all the quotes engraved on walls and surfaces.  Somewhat surprisingly (to me), my favorites were some of the war memorials.  We went to the WWII, Vietnam, and Korean ones.  Incredibly moving.  Especially seeing veterans reminiscing and honoring, and young schoolchildren exploring and learning. 

wwiimonument  washmonument

natlgalleryFriday -- which M2 took off to hang out with us -- started off cloudy and grey, so we decided to visit the National Gallery.  But when we emerged from the Metro station we were met with vivid, blue skies!  It was almost a shame to go indoors, but we did to browse Dutch landscapes, lots of Monets and even a couple of Cezannes, and a very interesting exhibit on Robert Frank's The Americans.  The weather stayed lovely through lunch, which we had in Chinatown (signs in Chinese, but nary a Chinese restaurant in sight!).

Our last full day in the D.C. area brought us to Stafford, Virginia, where we had lunch with some new friends.  Our rental car ended up being a little red Chevy Cobalt -- funny in that it was so not us!  After a lovely afternoon we had some time to stop off in Quantico to visit the National Museum of the Marine Corps.  Among other things, I got to see a display of standard issue items that each Marine gets at boot camp, try picking up a backpack full of gear, and see interactive displays of rankings and insignias. 

usmcmuseum   legoiwojima

There was even a Lego version of the Iwo Jima flag raising!  It was another extremely proud moment; I felt a bit better able to understand my younger brother -- who has deployed twice to Iraq and whose contract with the Marines ends this June -- and truly appreciate and honor so many men's and women's sacrifice and service to our country.

What an awesome trip!  In some ways I am jealous of the young students who get to go to Washington, D.C. for a social studies trip; indeed I think it should be required of all students!  But at the same time, had I gone as a junior higher, I woulnd't have appreciated it as I have this trip.  I am glad I got to see the capitol at my own pace and at my own understanding.  And I look forward to coming again!

Friday, April 17, 2009

Progress: kitchen

After the initial furniture placement (which I'm already reconsidering), my unpacking priority has been the kitchen. This has involved wipe-downs and once-overs, as well as lining shelves and surfaces, before taking anything out of boxes.

It's always fun for me to start organizing from scratch. I am trying to make the most of the space available in what is a slightly awkward cooking area.

One challenge is the dearth of counter space. I've decided to keep the dishrack under the sink when not in use, but I don't know how that will work long term. Although it will give me more counterspace, it might also mean that dishes start piling up in the sink when I'm cooking (I usually like to wash all the prep stuff as I go).

The color scheme also irks me, just because it's not the best paint job, and the colors aren't really my style. I would much prefer a neutral palette that I can add bursts of color to. In this particular kitchen, I think all white cabinets would open up the space. Or, for a bit of dimension, a less dramatic color would be more fitting than the red -- perhaps the grayish color in the dining nook. I thought about removing the cabinet doors, but fear that exposed goods may make it look more cluttered. Still thinking about this.

There's a lot of open space above the cabinets, and I'd like to do something here -- but not fill it up with *stuff*. I put my spider plant up there by the window, but it actually started to yellow and die!

I really enjoy the nook/booth, though. For one thing, it removes the necessity for a dining set (my old one is at My Supernova's now). It adds a bit of prep space, too. I am thinking of a collage on the wall, maybe my smaller Japanese ones? Or finding an antique mirror? I'll definitely need padding for the bench, as well. Am thinking something red, maybe striped, to coordinate with the kitchen.

Things are happening, peeps! The other day I finished lining the cupboard and unloaded all my glassware. I think most things are where I need them to be, intuitively and for maximum efficiency.  All that's left is for my gas to be (re)connected, which should happen sometime today.  Huzzah!

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Embrace the space

Despite the ill-timedness of being out of town just in between moving out and in, and the sometimes-shock of coming home to a place that is not yet home, I am learning to adjust. Fortuitously, it is the middle of Apartment Therapy's Spring 2009 Home Cure, as well as its Smallest Coolest home contest. Which means as I unpack and settle in I can find inspiration by peeking into other people's homes.

Having been a fan of AT for years now and having seen what wonders people can do with different spaces, I have often thought that I can live in under 500 square feet. But when I saw what 500 square feet looked like in person, I knew I couldn't. Of course, layout was an important, make-or-break factor. I went to see the cutest Craftsman studio cottage (the kind where it's three of the same units on either side of a driveway or courtyard), which was lovely on the outside and had the added benefits of no shared walls and room for gardening. But when I went inside, I found a closet that was more like a mini-room, half the size of the main living/sleeping area! The kitchen was so narrow that the fridge had to be relegated to the dining area, adding awkwardness to an already small space. Had the it been more of an open plan, the entire 450 s.f. studio would have had much more potential. If the layout reflects the time period, I really wonder how peeps back in the day lived!

I looked at a couple of studios, too, about 350 s.f. Good grief! Even unfurnished, I felt claustrophobic in them. And I knew that there's no way all my stuff would fit in there. Then I see beautiful, functional living spaces on AT that are less than that, and I am in utter awe. Then, I am humbled.

And then, I proceed to feel guilty about all the space I take up. Now that my things are getting put in their places and there aren't boxes taking up most of the floor, I am finding that there is a lot of room in my apartment -- which increases my guilt-- and that I probably could do with a smaller (and cheaper) place.



I could go crazy thinking and overthinking. But then I realized (all over again): the lease is signed, this place is mine, and -- darn it! -- I am going to enjoy it and make the most of it! So I will do as my post title says and Embrace the Space.  OffIgo!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Taxing times

My life of late can be described in one word: transitioning.  But I thought that -- since I'm doing so much of it anyway these days -- I'd unpack that a bit more for ya.  Which is to say, I've mostly been:

  • packing (to move and to travel)

  • moving (boxes and boxes to DC's garage)

  • cleaning (with toothbrush and cotton swabs, too)

  • traveling (tons of walking and photo-ing -- post coming soon)

  • unpacking (it's not so much stuff after all!)

  • arranging furniture (still not entirely sure about it)

  • knitting (and frogging...)

  • laundry (loads more to do!)

  • weeding (my respite)

  • lining shelves (love the grip stuff)

And most recently, sending off my taxes (and cutting a fat check).  It's never a fun time of year for me.  But it's overanddone, huzzah and *exhale*. 

Well then.  Back to my list of actvities.  I hope you're not too taxed these days.

Monday, April 13, 2009

FO: Camo socks for Dad

Just a few rows of ribbing, binding off, and weaving in.  And still, these didn't get finished on time.  And now my parents are out of town, so my dad won't be getting these until even later.  *sigh*  Oh well.

An interesting thing, though.  I turned the sock inside-out to weave in the ends, and discovered that I quite like the look of it that way!  Check it out (the one on the right):


The difference is subtle, but very textural.  Here's another shot, which shoes the soles:


What do you think?  I like both!  I'm going to tell my dad he can wear them either way.  Knowing him, though, I suspect he'll opt for the traditional stockinette side showing.  Well, he can do as he pleases. They're his socks, after all!

Re: the yarn.  This was my first time knitting with Lorna's Laces Shepherd Sock yarn, and I really enjoyed it!  There were no knots or snargles.  The yarn is not sproingy like Koigu, Cherry Tree Hill, or ShiBui, but feels smoother than Regia or Opal.  It's defninitely a yarn I'd use again (and again), and not just for socks!

These still need to be blocked, and I promise they will be before my parents' return from their travels. 

Happy (belated) birthday, Dad!

Friday, April 10, 2009


DC and I have come up with a moving system whereby he takes the boxes from the car and up the stairs, and I move them from there down the L-shaped hallway into the apartment.  It's a pretty good system, and we've got it down pat after two or three carloads. 

carload   carunloaded

Yet, we're both working, and because his schedule's more irregular than mine, he can't always help me during the week.   He's left the garage door opener for me on his late evenings, and I've managed on my own (with the help of the dolly). When I can fill the front passenger seat with my *stuff*, fold the seats down and push those boxes all the way in, I must say I'm pretty impressed at how much can fit into one carload. See for yourself!

These are two separate loads. I wanted to show you how it all looks in my car (with *stuff* in the front seat, as well as in the rear passenger foot areas!) and what it looks like all laid out. I was particularly pleased with the load pictured on the right, which includes -- at least -- all my larger art pieces (against the wall), all my books (two boxes and two bacpacks), three comforter-bags-full of yarn, two boxes of stationery, one plastic crate-full of fabric, four smaller boxes of glassware, my sewing box, typewriter, and tools. *phew!* And it took me exactly an hour from my arrival at the garage to depositing everything in my new living room. *flexes*

Now, to actually unpack...

Tuesday, April 7, 2009


Living near my parents is a mixed blessing when it comes to *stuff*. On the one hand, I have extra storage space to put all the things I don't need but don't want thrown out. And as I come to need any item (or just want it around), it's a matter of a 15-minute drive to retrieve it. Over the years it's been more of the latter than the former. So you can see that, on the other hand, occasional car trips--a vacuum cleaner here and a few books and albums there--really add up to a lot of *stuff * over the years!

Packing to move was a real process. I brought smaller, more manageable boxes home from work. Somehow, I thought all my *stuff *would fit in a half dozen of them. Then my stationery alone took up two! So I brought home more boxes. And then more, just in case. And I used them all (about 24? or more?). And I brought home the dolly.

somestuffDC -- and, at least twice, his parents -- helped me move the packed boxes from my apartment to the purgatory of his garage. A longer process because it involved stairs. Man, I wish I'd taken a picture of everything that got put there; altogether, I'd say that all my *stuff* is the size of a sedan. (DC would say that's an underestimate. Che!)

When we got back from D.C. on Sunday, we stopped off at his place and picked up only the basics of toiletries and clothes for the work week. He's actually encouraged me to take my time and go through everything, to eliminate the *stuff* I don't need instead of truckin' it over to my new place. I think that's pretty good advice.

And I admit: I don't need the box full of empty Japanese confections boxes (but they're so pretty, and I can wrap my knitted gifts in them, and it's so wasteful to throw them out!), and I should work on hemming and repurposing the pile of old clothes, and the yarn does need to get knitting into something.... And there's other *stuff* that I don't use on a daily (or monthly, or yearly) basis, but that I don't want to get rid of. Albums and scrapbooks. Handwritten letters. Really nice dishes and vases purchased abroad (and painstakingly taken back home). Do I make space for them in my apartment and lug them around with me each time I move? Do I leave them at my parents' place? Do I "go digital" (scan, save to external hard drive, and toss)? Or do I get rid of things I am not using At. This. Moment. and be forced to buy again and perhaps more expensively when I need them again?

What do you, or would you, do?