Some fun for the office

Now that I have a permanent (as these things go) office, I decided it was time for plants. Partly for the fun of planting seeds (which I don’t think I’ve done since elementary school) and partly for the positive energy of watching something grow and develop at work, I decided to plant herbs. I think I was having vague notions of metaphors for things that are useful, make the world happier, and grow larger by the day. Writing docs, especially at the very beginning, was very challenging, so the image of something gathering strength and sending out roots and shoots so that it could contribute desired products down the line was heartening. (The things you come up with on the commute to work, hmm?) I found cute green pots at Crate and Barrel, and stuck a 23W compact florescent daylight bulb in an office lamp since I don’t have a window, and off I went.

A week and a half later, here are the growing (left to right) mint, lavender, basil, chives, lemon balm and dill.

With luck, the basil will be a closer metaphor match than the lavender, which thus far hasn’t deigned to grace us with its presence.

The back seeds of basil were the first to show after only two days, and are going strong. There are six shoots, so I may have to weed them out. At the end of last week, when the second (front) batch of basil hadn’t shown yet, I smooshed the sides of the peat pack to loosen the soil. This sprout appeared sometime over the weekend. The chives are off and running, but already dry at the ends — does anyone know how to prevent that? And I’ve never grown lemon balm before, but I’m hoping it lives up to its name.

The growing packs are going to be planted tomorrow.

And, in a bit of serendipity, the day I chose to bring my camera to work, the mountains were out in force. Here are the snowy Olympics from the top of the street:

Victory over the Yoga Mat Bag

I am finally (finally!) done knitting the never-ending lace for the yoga bag. It really didn’t actually take forever, just 15 days, but I am deeply happy to be done with it. There’s something about knitting funtional things that sort of takes the fun out of it. Not that a sweater isn’t functional, but at least there isn’t a “fast as you can” deadline. The good news is that I love the way it turned out. The diagonal pattern is quite attractive, and I love the color of the yarn. I wrapped my yoga bag in plastic so that it could dry to fit — here it is blocking:

And here’s a closeup of the stitch pattern — I love the combination of bold and light diagonals:

I still need to make several feet of I-cord for straps, but I’m really looking forward to it as fluff-knitting after all the lace. :-)

A tank mystery

I can tell that this will be one of those pictures that makes more sense having seen it in person, but see the small pink thing growing on this rock?

I have no idea how it got there, but this is a baby (about 2mm across) pom pom xenia. We’ve had one since October, and it’s doing very well about a foot away, but I have no idea how this little one sprouted. The hands are still too small to pulse, but you can see the fronds growing by the day. I first noticed it about three weeks ago, and have been keeping an eye on it to see if it would turn out to be a pest. I’m delighted that it’s assuming xenia-like forms, though mystified how it came to be there. It’s like a little xenia acorn.

Another tang post

In a quest to get a better picture of the tang, I settled down by the tank and aimed just at the left corner. I figured that despite all the zooming around, I’d be able to get at least a shot every time he swung by. The first effort wasn’t that bad:

I had to share all the subsequent pictures over the next three or so minutes, though. Replete with motion-blur, confusing perspective, and sideways swimming, they give as close an impression of our new guy as I could manage without video:

(As always, click the photos for a larger version.)

Just when I was about to give up, he stopped and looked at me over the top of the pvc. Thanks to the reflection, it’s actually a decent shot.

This seems to be his favourite pose of late — peeking at us for a second, before zooming off again.

A New Tang!

As of yesterday afternoon, we have a new baby yellow tang! After weeks of no options, the fish store had six great tiny guys when I swung by yesterday. They were all small enough to still have the faint white juvenile tiger stripes and seemed really perky and attentive. Kevin had said that he trusted my judgment — we’ve been looking long enough and walked away enough times from too big, sick, or personality-less fish that he was happy to stay home and prep the quarantine tank. I ended up picking our guy because he was so playful, and kept swimming backwards and sideways under pieces of faux-coral. I got him home, fresh-water-dipped him, and let him loose in the quarantine tank.

He found the Nori and started working on it within seconds, which seemed like a good sign. Everything that I’ve read about tangs says that they’re constant grazers. The fact that he wasn’t too stressed to eat seemed really promising, especially after being caught in the fishstore, brought home in a bag, subjected to a net, and watched by two people in a new environment. A few hours later he’d made quite a dent and had a fat green belly. We have a lot of circulation in the tank, and he’s been playing in the current, letting it blow him around and then swimming back again — it’s almost like he’s surfing it. He’s been hanging out a bunch in the 1/4″ of clearance between the heater and the side of the tank (tangs are so narrow!), and in the curve of a plastic tie on one of our heaters. I was planning to cut it, but he likes it so much that we decided to leave it. He doesn’t have any signs of black spot, so with luck it will be a quick one month quarantine and then he can go meet the clowns and gramma!

A quarter of the way there.

I’ve been working on the Om Yoga Mat (careful, the link’s a pdf — free pattern) from Stitch ‘n Bitch Nation since Saturday. I found lion brand in a color that exactly matches my yoga mat, which is actually something of a pity. I would have rather had something a shade or two darker for contrast. Though, really, what are the odds that it would have been a perfect match, since I didn’t have my mat with me when I chose the yarn? Serendipity, I suppose. 80 stitches (a reputed 22″ length) would have been too short, so I’ve been working 88. I’m up to four inches so far (out of more-or-less 13. My yoga mat has been drying — apparently if you wash them, they get less slippery — so I haven’t rolled it up to find out exactly how much I have left to knit.)

The knitting itself is taking a long time, partly due to the long rows, partly due to the lace, and partly because I’ve been reading while working. (I finally read Wicked, by Gregory Maguire. I thought it was well written and a clever spin, and I’ve never liked the whole Oz thing. Now I want to go back to the Frank Baum series which I haven’t read since elementary school and find out how far he stretched the politics and morality.) Assuming I’m a third of the way through, it should be another week or so to finish. I’ll need to block and seam the lace, and knit two straps (I want to have two i-cord straps instead of a single flat one), so there’s still a ways to go.

Such pretty yarn

I’ve started my clapotis! The yarn is intensely gorgeous and I’m having fun watching it as it goes by. Can you see how shiny it is? (This is my first time knitting with a silk blend — wow.)

I’ve been purling the drop row, and twisting on both front and back, before and after the drop stitch, so it’s slow going, but so pretty I don’t mind.

The colors remind me of the month-old ricordia that I found at Blue Sierra:

and again, in the sunlight this time: