Spring in the New Garden

When we bought this little house it came with a garden. A big garden. A big, intimidating garden which used to be really well-tended and loved. I, on the other hand, have never gardened before and have no idea what I'm doing. This poor garden doesn't know what hit it.

So far I have spent a lot of time cleaning up; we have a maple tree in the backyard (oh, and another one in the front yard) and apparently the primary occupation of maple trees is to drop crap on you all year 'round: blossoms, maple keys, leaves. I can only assume that the maple syrup is by way of apology.

Blake's aunt J'Anne, the family gardener, was up a couple of weeks ago and we did a lot of work moving plants from the backyard to the front -- there are lots of plants near the back door where the deck will eventually be, and we are going to try and rescue as many of them as we can. We also weeded the front border, especially under the hedge. The hedge is doomed; I am going to get rid of it sometime in the next couple of years and plant something pretty in its place. But in the meantime it harbours a lot of crappy little weeds, and maple saplings. Stupid maple trees.

Since J'Anne was here I also added a bunch of hot pink impatiens to the front, mainly because Baba told me to. I think they will look nice once they fill out. They're cute now, but small.

In the back yard, I haven't done much; I am paralysed by the sheer size. I did plant a bunch of vegetables: zucchini, corn, sunflowers, and lettuce seeds, and squash, tomato, strawberry, basil, sage, lavender and mint plants. There are already what I thought were onions but I now suspect are garlic, as well as a huge patch of raspberries. So far I don't think anything that I have planted has, oh, say, grown at all, but Manuel's stuff (the previous owner) is doing fantastically. The previous owners had some serious green thumbs, considering that most of the garden gets at best partial sun. But then they were retired and by all accounts spent all their time gardening.

Other stuff that is growing from last year includes a glorious patch of ostrich ferns, some cosmos, violets, daylilies, a rose, bleeding heart, more ostrich ferns, sedum, daffodils, and some stuff which might be weeds. And lots of stuff which definitely is weeds; I have been preparing the ground on an as-needed basis, which means there are still lots of messy scrubby patches.

I am overwhelmed by the learning curve ahead of me; there seems to be so much you need to know to be a successful gardener. The nice thing, though, is that it's almost consequence-free. The worst that can happen is that I could buy a plant or some seeds and have them fail. No-one will be disappointed, no-one will get hurt, and I'll get to spend some time outside getting dirty.

Cordelia says...

Cordelia says "free four!" when there is something to be counted. "Free four babies!" "Free four cows!" She also knows six and eight. "Free four six eight!" That's when there are really a lot of whatever it is.

Cordelia says "Feen" for Delphine, and "Heeya" for Zaida, and "Dooya" for Cordelia.

Cordelia says "haavee" when something is hard, and "ow" when something hurts. If I am hurt she says "owwee Mommy" and then gives me a hug; she's very compassionate for a little person. She also likes to hug Delphine when she's sad, especially after they have had a fight.

Bike Week 2007.

Well, Bike Week 2007 has kicked off, and contrary to the first two years I took part, this year I actually got a pancake! Woo! My secret was sleeping in, so that I couldn't make it up to Yonge and Lawrence by 7:30, and instead heading straight to Yonge and Bloor for 8:00. On the downside, they didn't have any t-shirts larger than a medium, so I guess I'll need to lose a little weight before wearing the one I got. On the upside, I was totally at the front of the pack, and had a perfect view of Mayor Miller catching his front tire in something and going head-first over his handlebars! Very exciting, and he seemed to be fine, although he did have to trade his fancy new road bike in for an older mountain bike to complete the ride.

What else... It was a nice ride in, the pancakes and croissant were pretty much as I expected them to be. The coffee was pretty sweet, though. I also picked up an apple and a bottle of water, but I haven't had them yet, so I don't know how they are. (The apple is a really nice dark shade of red, though, so I'm looking forward to it.) This year's t-shirt is much prettier than the previous two years, I feel. I got a couple of extra bike maps, and have distributed them among the people in my office who cycle. Uh, I guess that's about it.

Oh, and I need to get the new Bike Week logo in svg somehow... I would use the other bike logo I've got, but it's used in the post right below this one, and that seems kind of repetitive.

Thoughts from a cyclist in the rain.

After a certain point, you don't really get any wetter.
Even though it's really cold, and I'm totally soaking, it's not a bad ride.
Wow, it takes a long time to stop. (I already knew this, and I'm going way slower than I normally would, but that doesn't make it any less true.)
I could probably do with a new pair of biking gloves.
The headband I stole from Amy is working wonderfully, though.
I hereby transfer all the karma I got from giving my tires to Bike Pirates to the nice person in the car (a Beemer, even!) who let me turn left into the cemetary front of them.
Although, thinking about it, I might not have that much karma left, since I'm biking on the sidewalk. (Up Mount Pleasant beside the Cemetary. In this weather, there's no way I would feel safe on the road, and there aren't any cross roads or pedestrians, so I'm probably way safer than I would normally be on the sidewalk.) Mr. Walker, a bike lane down Mount Pleasant would be most appreciated.


Delphine just had her fourth birthday! To celebrate, Blake took the day off work and we had a nice quiet day together. We all went to the bike shop and Delphine got herself a new green bicycle! It's very pretty and she rides with verve and confidence, mainly because they have numerous pedalled vehicles at daycare. She also got a Playmobil house, which seemed exorbitant but I hope it will amuse her and Cordelia for years to come. Playmobil stuff is so cool.

Those were the main presents; in addition to that bounty she got a puzzle, a Little Red Riding Hood Cape, a bunch of books, some markers and paints... all kinds of things. I almost never buy her any toys apart from at Christmas and birthdays, so she gets buried under an avalanche of stuff twice a year.

Later on Delphine's big day, Ursa and her mom and new baby brother came over, along with Baba and Zaida and Morgan and Erik. We all had pizza and cake (yellow cake with pink lemonade icing) and everyone seemed to have a nice time. I was torn between having a big party, which I really didn't want to do, and just having a family dinner which seemed too small and quiet. I think the extended family plus Ursa gathering that eventually happened (after a whole day of planning) was perfect.

We have taken Delphine out of daycare. It was a decision after its time, since daycare was just a big indulgence what with me not working and all. I am a little scared of the prospect of life without "days off"; I got a lot of mileage out of the just-Cordelia days, running errands and doing housework. But plenty of people somehow manage to run their households while raising all their children, so I am sure I will manage it too. Delphine will quite enjoy it, I think; for the last few weeks she has been saying she doesn't want to go to daycare, she just wants to stay home with me. Be careful what you wish for, child. I suspect she will be quite happy to go to Kindergarten in the fall.

Delphine and I are reading Ramona the Pest, an actual novel-type book with chapters and really very few pictures! It was recommended in a "Read to your Kids" book I just read, and I thought I would give it a whirl. I suspected Delphine would get sick of it after a page of two without pictures, but she sits patiently and listens, and wants to carry on to the next chapter ever night. I am very excited to read her a book I remember enjoying myself, a real proper book!


So. My back is screwed up, again, probably because I haven't been doing the stretches and things I am supposed to do, and generally haven't been doing any exercise at all, apart from the usual lugging of kids and light housekeeping and gardening. Apparently that isn't going to do the trick, though, so I am looking into starting Pilates with Morgan as soon as my back clears up.

For today, though, I am useless. Delphine has literally been watching TV all day. It's a bit of an experiment; will she ever get sick of watching TV? So far, no. Cordelia has been amusing herself in that babyish way just wandering around exploring toys and things. Babies are so easy.

I've been icing my back (mmm, icing) and taking ibuprofen all day, and it feels a bit better. Hopefully by tomorrow I will be fine, because tomorrow morning Delphine has her four-year-old annual checkup and I don't fancy limping down there with her and Cordelia in tow. Still and all, I'll manage one way or another. And now Miss Cordelia is awake, so I have to go retrieve her.


So, in an attempt to fix Katherine's bug, I've managed to move all the entries to a couple of days ago. I moved back the ones that were in my Bloglines cache, but I don't have the correct dates for prior ones, so I'm kind of hosed until I look in my backups. Unless any of you happen to have them in your caches, of course...

Also, yargh.

Almost Done! Really!

I have so much to blog about and not coincidentally no time to blog, but I am going to try and squeeze in a couple of things before Cordelia wakes up and we have to go pick up Delphine and take her to her hair appointment. Which really should be happening RIGHT NOW.

Anyway, the reno is done and yes I will post pictures. Well, almost done; we are missing a light fixture — we are reusing an original fixture and it is at the shop being refitted with modern, I don't know, bits and pieces — and we need faceplates on the outlets in the kitchen now that the tile is done. And a deck, we need a deck, although we might not be able to afford one. Otherwise it's done, though!

I'm really happy with how the kitchen looks; I think we really captured the feel of the fifties while still having a nice modern kitchen. I am especially pleased with how content the sink looks nestled on the retro Formica countertop.

Now all we need to do is unpack the kitchen! In order to make Delphine's birthday cake today I had to buy baking powder, flour, food colouring, sprinkles, and cake pans! All because I haven't managed to unpack anything yet.

Isn't that just the way of it...

I mentioned in the previous entry that I was missing Python's List Comprehensions. Well, I've gotten a little closer to having them. For some reason, LispMe doesn't come with a zip method, and you can only get map by importing a "Standard Library" memo. So, I had to write my own version of zip, and here it is, for anyone else who might find it useful.

(define (zip s1 s2)
  (if (or (null? s1) (null? s2)) '()
    (cons (list (car s1) (car s2))
      (z (cdr s1) (cdr s2)))))

Along with my halfway function, redefined to be (define (halfway x) (/ (+ (car x) (cadr x)) 2)), I can now write (map halfway (zip current-point next-point)) to get the point halfway between where I am, and where I am going to.

I also came to another realization. I was planning on defining a current-point, and using set! to update it to the new halfway point, but when I think about it, I don't really care what the current point is at any time other than processing, so there's no particular need to set it, and instead I should just pass it around as a parameter, making my iter function (and I just made up the name "iter function", based on the <a href= "http://mitpress.mit.edu/sicp/full-text/book/book-Z-H-10.html#%_sec_1.1.7"

sqrt-iter function in "Structure and Interpretation of Computer Programs") look something like this:

(define (triangle-iter start num-iters)
  (if (positive? num-iters)
    (begin (draw-point start)
      (map halfway (zip current-point next-point))
      (- num-iters 1)))))

Does that look appropriately Scheme-ish, do you think?

Birth Story

The birth story of Rosalind Yates Reed is great. It was a natural birth, and for a while there it sounds like it was a real pain in the ass, dragging on and on. But the point is that they got through it by trying a whole lot of different things, and they didn't go for any of the standard hospital interventions.

I'm having trouble expressing why this story made such an impression on me. I guess it's because the labour was long and hard, but they stuck to their principles and kept trying lots of different things to move the labour along. So often I get the message that you can only have a natural birth if your labour is easy and progresses well.