Archive for the ‘Family’ Category

Gardening for Physicists! Part 1

June 13, 2011

Just recently, I moved.  I know, it’s a thing that most adults do once they reach a certain age.  What’s interesting about this move was I moved from a decent sized apartment near my school to a house near the beach.  I never thought in my life that I actually would live on the beach.  I mean, on the beach if I became homeless, but I can see the beach from my window right now.  And even though it’s San Francisco, the sun is shining.
That brilliant shining sun makes me think of something:  I want a garden.  I have my own front yard, so I want to do something with it.  Now, as previously stated, I live in San Francisco by the beach, so the soil in the front yard is fairly sandy.  I called my grandfather for assistance, because he’s a former farm boy from Minnesota, and he really did help a ton.  He mentioned I should grow peas or lettuce or swiss chard, because those tend to thrive better in the cold, and it rarely gets above the 70’s this close to the water.  I have a couple options for growing these plants.  I can either plant them in the ground in this 10×10 plot in front of the house, or plant them in pots.  There’s pluses and minuses to both situations.  In the ground would be, superficially, cheaper than going out and buying the pots on top of the plants and seeds and stuff.   Unfortunately, the house has quite the snail problem.  I thought that the feral cats would help clear that up for some reason, but no.  Grandpa Ole said to use pesticides, but I had hoped to grow the vegetables as chemical free as possible.  (The scientist inside me laughs at that statement.  All things in life are due to chemical reactions.  Chemicals are not just those powders that we buy in the stores to kill pests, they’re in the soil, in the air and part of the water.  Everything has chemical reactions, so growing chemical free is impossible.  Sorry, science joke for me.)  That’s where the pots come in, but I don’t know how well they’d prevent the snails from feasting upon the fresh fruits of my labor.


My current plan is to do what I do best: read.  I found a couple different articles in Sunset magazine online and there’s also Make magazine, and I live near enough to a library to bike down sometime.  I know what you’re thinking, I’ve gone native.  And the answer to that question is no.  The actual reason is the whole guiding factor behind this whole endeavour, besides the thrill of making something useful and beautiful.  I also want to have the pride of knowing that I grew something.  Period.  I’m not widely known for my green thumb, although I did have one hell of an herb garden growing up.

Basically, it all comes down to the fact that I’m cheap as hell.


Well, I’ll keep you posted!


Possibly the Weirdest Thing to Inherit Ever

September 11, 2010

For how traditional my family is, we’re pretty strange.  And by traditional, I mean we have a lot of traditions.  Which are weird.  For example, we have three Christmas celebrations.  My father is of Austrian, so we celebrate St. Nicholas Day.  In Austria when my great-great-grandparents, Christmas has more emphasis on the part of the word that says MASS, so people wouldn’t open presents on the actual day because they’d be in church all day.  Therefore, my family would do the whole shoe thing every year, and we still do.  The other extra celebration was based on my mother’s Scandinavian heritage.  Santa Lucia day is when the eldest daughter in the family feeds the rest of the family breakfast in bed.  As a youngest child, I didn’t really have any qualms with this.  Another thing we do around Christmas time that’s kind of morbid is we visit the family plot in Oakland to see the graves of my grandfather and brother.  On the way, we stop by Fenton’s, which if doesn’t sound familiar, watch Up.  Now.

That’s only a set of seasonal traditions.  We also have the need for green Jell-O at all “high holy days” and the Chicken Dance at weddings and, the ultimate, LEMON BASEBALL.  I think this one might of started when my mother got her MBA and we had a wicked back-log of lemons from the tree, so we took them down to the local open field and knocked the living tar out of them with baseball bats.  The best part, besides creating a citrus explosion, is everyone who participates comes home smelling lemony fresh.  We do this mostly at large family gatherings, like my sister’s wedding or my brother’s memorial service.  I think of it as a way to make a situation that could be really depressing into a moment of exhilaration and celebration.  We are not celebrating the fact that someone’s dead, but that they lived and affected our lives. At that point, I take a break in mourning and laugh and be joyful that I knew them and that I have to opportunity to continue their legacy.  Believe me, in relation to my brother, my hypothetical kids are going to know who Uncle Willy was.

Which brings me to this weekend.  I just lost my grandmother, and this weekend is the funeral.  My entire family is in town and going through old photos and sorting through my grandmother’s mementos.  If something jumps out to us, it’s ours.  It’s not sacrilegious.  We don’t chose these things because we think it’s worth something, but because it means something to us.  Or because, in my case, I want to keep a certain odd tradition going.

I think my parents were eco-friendly before it was cool.  My mother’s and father’s wedding rings are totally on the current trend of recycled gold in jewelery.  My mother’s ring is made of my both my grandfathers’ dental gold (their fillings), my dad’s old wedding ring and one he found in the Russian River.  Dad’s was just dental gold.  The diamond in Mom’s engagement ring was from my grandmother’s original wedding set.  There was very little eco-impact due to my parents’ wedding rings, and I think it’s a pretty cool idea.  Something close to each of their fathers is in their rings, namely from inside their mouths.  They also brought in objects from places that were important to them, and took an old bond and made it new.

Anyway, we were going through Grandma’s old safe that has her gold bouillon and silver bars, which I lusted over in the hopes that they could pay for part of my Master’s, if that should come up.  The girls were all picking out jewelery, and I found some nice rings and a pocket watch, and then we found it.  It was my grandfather’s bridge and dental fillings and some of his teeth with more fillings.  Well, guess who’s one of the only unmarried girls in the family?  Yeah, it’s me so I got my grandfather’s teeth.  I inherited a dental bridge and I had to hold it in my hand for a minute and I have never been more squicked in my life.  And this is coming from a girl who religiously wears her retainer every night, just for that continually nerdy feeling I get from having metal in my mouth.  Oh, and I want perfect teeth, but that’s just a happy side effect.

I’m glad to keep the tradition going, even if I had to hold my grandfather’s teeth.  Honestly, though, he passed away when I was three years old, so I didn’t get to know him too well.  Even if I look a lot like him and have his smile and apparently act a bit like him, I don’t feel close to him.  I guess if I had something of his close to me at all times, I’d feel like I had a part of him with me, even if it’s his teeth.  Ew.


That was  fairly discombobulated post, but was fun to right.  Off I go now to eat donuts!  HOTCHAHA!