Wow, what a productive week I've had.
Actually, there isn't a lot to say about the work-week, since it's not terribly fascinating to describe. Just leave it at the fact that I fixed many bugs this week, and am hot on the trail of a rather insidious bug that's bedeviled a few people in small-but-annoying ways. Moreover, it looks like I can leverage my big project from January to implement several similar features in a matter of hours (if not minutes), which seems like a good sign that I did it right. Yay!
The real excitement was this weekend. Yesterday Debbi and I went up to San Francisco to go shopping. My main goal was to buy some new sandals. My Birkenstocks - which I bought the summer of 1998 - have just about given up the ghost and badly needed replacing. My friend John pretty much swears by Mephistos, which are imported from France, but are not so easy to find. (I could get them on the net, but I wanted to actually try them on.) Through sheer luck, I found a store in SF called The Walking Company which has a variety of their sandals, but I passed on them back in November because I knew I wouldn't be wearing sandals for several months.
Well, our weather has gotten up in the 70s here lately, so it was time to buy some new sandals, so off we went. Unfortunately, it turns out that the style I wanted has been discontinued! Gah!
However, the staff at the store seems to really know their stuff, and the fellow I dealt with suggested another style, so he brought out a couple pair, I tried them on, and liked them enough to buy them. Better yet, they, too, have been discontinued, so I got them on sale at about 25% off! (He said Mephisto tend to cycle their styles every thre or four years.) So I came away happy after all, and they've proven to be pretty comfortable in the day since. I feel like I have the straps buckled a bit tightly, but my feet aren't getting clammy on the bottom, and I figure the leather will loosen up a bit with some wear. So I'll see how things go this week and loosen them a bit if they're not feeling more comfortable.
That was the highlight as far as I was concerned, but we also had lunch at Lori's Diner, a 50s-style diner which pulls out all the stops to seem like a period place, and which has quite a large menu. The hamburgers seemed a bit small to me, but the milkshakes were quite good (and huge! Debbi and I probably could have split one).
After lunch we both headed to the bathrooms in the diner, and Debbi said to me, "Meet you in a minute". I responded, "I will wait for you out here..." and I was about to say "my dear", but instead (probably due to reading too much Bill Bryson this past week) I said "my dove" as I headed into the men's room. Debbi stopped and said, "Dove???" I'm not given to using terms of endearment, and when I do it's often with a tinge of irony or sarcasm ("Yes, dear"), so she was rather taken aback by that. We spent most of the weekend laughing about it at various moments!
We went by Nordstrom's, since Debbi had a gift certificate for it, and also through Illuminations and the Disney Store. Then we negotiated some truly awful SF traffic (due to road construction and dunderheaded drivers) and went to Borderlands Books where I found several used books I've been looking for, including Charles de Lint's Trader (the best of the three I've read by him, by far). We also had aspirations to go to Haight Street, but parking just wasn't happening there, so instead we came home, I cooked some pasta and Debbi fried up some sausage, and we had dinner and spent a couple of hours at Borrone.
Today was no less lively. I don't think I've mentioned that a couple of fish in my pond died over the last couple of weeks: One orange goldfish, and a smaller black fish (a minnow, I guess). The previous owner told me he'd never spent much time doing the little fiddly things with the pond that the book I bought suggests I do, and I suspect that it might be catching up to the thing. (For instance, there's probably a bunch of sediment at the bottom that could use cleaning out.)
Anyway, I'm still trying to figure out just how best to take care of my yard, but I figure the following chores seem to be in order:
So I made pretty good progress at much of this. I need to figure out which and how many of the larger pond plants to thin out, and I bought bricks but haven't raised the tree yet. On the plus side, the pond is looking nicer (perkier?) after a couple of hours of pumping, and I transplanted a lovely flowering plant that Lisa and Michel gave me for my housewarming into a larger pot. So at least I'm making some progress.
- Remove some of the plants from the pond, especially some of the fast-breeding surface plants like duckweed.
- Run the pump more often, and circulate some hose water into the pond, especially at the far back end, which doesn't get much circulation.
- Examine the pump and replace the filter if necessary (and it probably is necessary; remember, I don't really have any idea when this stuff was last serviced).
- Water the drop-down planter more often. There's a "drip" hose embedded in it now, whose efficacy I'm uncertain of. It might need to be replaced, at least, or replaced with a completely different watering method at most.
- Put my dwarf orange tree's container up on bricks to allow it better drainage.
- Find a way of dealing with the snails, which have been chewing on some of the orange tree's leaves.
Best of all, I confirmed that other fish in the pond are still alive and happily swimming around! Yay! Maybe when I've done a little more work on it I'll buy a couple more orange goldfish to enliven the thing.
Taking care of the yard isn't like decorating my study or furnishing my house. It's not so much that I don't have the time, as that I'm not sure what I need to do, or what I want to do. I feel like I spent a bunch of time today just walking around looking at things, and trying to decide what to do about it, or whether I needed to do anything at all! It's not really disturbing or frustrating, don't get me wrong; it's just a slow learning process. I'll figure it all out eventually.
Tonight was movie night. I wanted to catch the showing of Cary Grant's (perhaps) first truly hit film, Topper (1937), which I remember seeing when I was a kid and enjoying, but didn't remember much about. Grant and Constance Bennett play (respectively) George and Marion Kerby, high-flying socialites whose lives are a stark contrast to bank president Topper (Roland Young). Topper feels penned in by his job and his wife (Billie Berke), but doesn't have the will to break out of his prison. When the Kerbys are killed, their ghosts - seemingly consigned to the Earth until they do a good deed - decide to help Topper find joy in his life, which they do through a series of misadventures.
A screwball comedy, Young is to be applauded for his outstanding performance, mumbling his way through his befuddled character's lines and often interacting with nothing at all, as the Kerbys are often invisible! It's a lighthearted film with a simple message, though at this point a viewer is perhaps a little too distracted wondering how they handled the Kerbys' ghostly nature with the technology of the time, but overall it's a fun little piece with a lot of charm.
This film was paired with The Toast of New York (1937), in which Grant plays Nick Boyd, partner to Jim Fisk (Edward Arnold), the nominal protagonist. Fisk and Boyd are entrepreneurs during and after the Civil War, and after making and losing a fortune during the war (their manager put all their money into Confederate bonds), Fisk is determined to make good again. He manages to swindle ferry magnate Daniel Drew (Donald Meek) out of first his ferries, and then out of the Erie Railroad, and then locks horns with Cornelius Vanderbilt (!) on Wall Street as he tries to leverage the Erie into a larger fortune, and then corner the gold market. Along the way Fisk falls in love with aspiring actress Josie Mansfield (Frances Farmer, and her astonishingly deep voice), for whose love he begins to behave in ways that his partners find doubtful.
I kind of wonder if this film was loosely based on real people, perhaps someone who acquired the Erie Railroad and tried to corner the gold market in the 1860s, since those things seem plausible (though portrayed in an over-the-top manner here), but the film otherwise is a strange hodgepodge of "self-made man" yarns and the Josie storyline. Fisk gradually moves from being sympathetic to being something of a nut, while Boyd moves from being something of a nonentity to being sympathetic. Drew starts off as a nominally reprehensible businessman, and ends up being a rather pathetic character whom everyone takes advantage of, and his eventual ouster from the film seems unceremonious. Toast seems to lack a moral compass, punishing characters arbitrarily.
In the end, it's a screwy and amusing film, and I've certainly seen worse, but it's not top-flight material.
And in closing, let me just way: Woo-hoo! Baseball spring training games have begin! Yayyy!