Yes, it’s been two months of non-posting but there’s a LOT of news to catch up on. I’m also over on Facebook so you can catch me there as well.
A mixed bag. Because of health issues, our “garden on the corner” is somewhat behind on all crops but tomatoes. The peppers I started were doing well, but sometime during our vacation from 6/13-6/20 they disappeared! I’m thinking vermin of the furry variety, as we didn’t have the fence up yet. The good news is that (knock on wood) we’ve escaped the ravages of the tomato fungus that’s going around. I think it’s because we have well-supported plants which are not crowded, and all our tomato plants were started from seed – not a store-bought one in the crop. Paul is also spraying them with Daconil just to be safe. Normally we don’t spray but weather/cultural conditions this year have made it a necessity. The garlic came out really nice; I’ve used some of the smaller bulbs in sauce already – YUM!
One done, one 95% done. They came out very very nice! I am extremely pleased.
Blackspot galore! With the wet & cool conditions, yikes! Paul got out spraying and he will be spraying this week sometime.
The BMW 800ST:
It was beautiful. It fit. Paul liked it. I loved it. Didn’t get it, for a variety of reasons. But will keep something like it in mind for the future!
I hope this weekend is as much fun as it’s shaping up to be! To start with, the laundry/bath room has been christened! The cabinets are in, stuff has been put in them, and I used the funky transporter shower this morning. It was niiiiiiiiiiiiiiice…. Why did we go with that, you may ask? Sliding doors = no clearance required. Heh.
Tonight there’s the Star Trek movie. I purchased tickets so we’re ready to go. Now the only question is: do we walk or not?
Tomorrow is the Lilac Festival in Rochester, and after some time at that (weather cooperating) we’ll be off to Country Rode Motorwerks in Fairport to look at a factory-lowered BMW 800ST (sport-touring). Gotta remember the gear!
Then gardening and Mother’s Day on Sunday; a time to rest a bit you’d think. Nope. I’m cooking in the am and hosting in the pm. There must be time for Guild Wars in there somewhere…
A girl’s gotta have some, right? Guild Wars is my latest time-waster. Les helped me out a bit, but then again, he knows it pretty well. I’m (Shailya Varal, E/Mo) to Level 10 now but I’m in a bit a of rut, trying to find quests & stuff that aren’t too hard but hard enough…
I’m in the midst of redoing the entire Cooperative Extension Rose Garden. I say *I* because I haven’t had assistance from anyone in my group yet. I’ll continue to say *I* until that changes. I have had help from Paul but he’s Compost. Group that is.
I was out with my buddy Les the other night when he told me a story I had never heard before! Now, we’ve known each other about – get ready for this – 20 years now, so you’d think I’d have heard them all. But not this one! And, it was funny! So funny, I don’t think I can screw up the retelling of it. So here goes…
Before he went into the Army at 17 (in 1984), he worked at a local drive-in up in North Utica. Yes, you locals, it was the Schuyler (a/k/a Skyler) Drive-In. Shortly before its closing in the mid- to late-80s, the Skyler was (in)famous for showing XXX-rated movies. (Of course, I was too young to even try to get in.) So, he’s working the concession stand, getting ready for another drive-in night when the manager stops by. “Les,” he says, “I’m going to send you home with pay tonight, ok?” Les just shrugs and says, “Yeah, sure.” Turns out the drive-in had received a movie they weren’t, ah, expecting …
A BIG thank you to Mary Fanette for emailing them to me! Turns out my little Canon S30′s battery was dead and the charger MIA.
The HOT pepper seeds I ordered from Pepper Joe’s arrived in the mail today. I realize I’m a little behind with starting them, but we’ll baby the seedlings and keep them plenty warm to move them along nicely.
- Scotch Bonnet
- Thai Sun Pepper
- Golden Habanero Pepper
- and some freebies that were sent along
I’ll be starting them Wednesday, so keep your fingers crossed!
Another season of promise is upon us. A promise of a wonderful garden, with home-grown and -started tomatoes, peppers, annuals and perennials. A promise that I will actually get rid of my pack-rat tendencies and really clean up the house for spring. A promise that I will have help during this insane cleaning session. A promise I can get the house shaped up for future entertaining during the spring and summer months.
I’m still waiting on all of them, but like spring, hope springs eternal.
The San Marzano seeds have been started and right now I’ve got a bunch of seed starting flats in various places in my living room. Both the tomato and pepper seeds like temps of above 70F to germinate and they’re in the warmest place in the house. I think the Balsam Impatiens are already coming up, I’ll know more when I get home from work. The package says they’ll germinate in 3-7 days, and it’s about time. I’ll probably be pulling the seedling rack any day now and put that by our back patio doors. It’s about 65F in that area so once the tomato and pepper seeds start, I may put them over there.
I’ve washed just about everything in the house (aside from the pink room) in the new LG washer & dryer; it’s still fun to use! Does that make me an appliance geek? Or does that mean I need to tackle the pink room? Interestingly enough, I chose the pink color for that room before I saw the name: Enchantress. No kidding! I’ll get a pic of the paint can top.
This was by far, my most successful curling season ever. Now the pessimist in me says, “and may well be for a long time,” but I hope not. Upon reflection, I won (or was in) a final each month of the season. There was some burnout in January, but I think I know what that was and how to combat it for next year. As skip, the secret is: it’s all in the hats. Trust me.
October: I started the curling season with a win in the All-American, an event sponsored by the USWCA. I had been trying for that for nine years. And, I had to throw the winning takeout to do it! (Michelle MacEnroe, skip; Heather Swiercz, vice; Rachel Ryan/Brenda Card, second; Pam Jones, lead)
November: Paul and I then went to Philly with the Palazzolis where we won the Harvest Bonspiel. Probably my best overall curling performance of the year, if you looked at shooting percentages. Paul estimated I shot well over 85% the entire weekend.
December: As vice, won a club women’s league in the playoff game with an amazing call for a triple raise to the 4′, which the skip executed. (Nancy Owens,skip; Michelle MacEnroe, vice; Erin Clark, second; Pam Jones, lead)
January: This was a mixed bag. We (Michelle MacEnroe, skip; Laura Jacon, vice; Ylva Cortright, second; Liz Nolan, lead) got to the finals of the D event of the Empire State Bonspiel in Rochester but I blew three takeouts so we were runners-up. Yet we still got hardware AND a trophy: the Schenectady Stone! The next weekend, we (Bill Morehouse, skip; Donna Caleo, vice; Bob Risley, second; Michelle MacEnroe, lead; Paul MacEnroe, fifth) won the in-house Club Mixed Championship. Gotta love lead.
February: This was a biggie!! Kayuta Lake had its Winterfest the first weekend and as lead, won that event. Trust me, it’s incredibly silly and doesn’t really say a whole lot about how you curl, but it’s still a W! Went to the Norfolk Mixed over Valentine’s Day and won the B event as skip throwing third rocks (no matter what the GNCC record says). I don’t think we played any complete games except the one we lost. As lead for Utica 1, finished as runner up in the “B” finals in the Cobb Mixed Invitational.
March: Won the “C” event in our in-house ladies championship. One bad game put us in the “C”. Ah well. (Michelle MacEnroe, skip; Susan Williams, vice; Heather Shaw, second; Erika Bareiss, lead) On a side note, I did win my game of the closing in-house bonspiel – which is a “points” event – with 12 points. Paul won his first game with 11.75. (We lost the third game.) Before I say “neener,” I’ll remind myself of what Dave P. said to me once: apparently I had a better third in my game (Paul) than Paul had in his game (me).
April: Somehow won the “D” event at the Plainfield Bonsqueal, with some fantastic comebacks and team efforts! (Michelle MacEnroe, skip; Michael Swiercz, vice; Paul MacEnroe, second; Heather Swiercz, lead)
Just got back from the Plainfield CC’s “Bonsqueal” bonspiel, and holy cow! What a party! I haven’t seen anything like that since my college days. It’s more like a party where the curling is incidental. And this year, PCC had some bad luck within the last few weeks which rendered ice conditions to be – shall we say – less than perfect. Greb’s Gulch on sheet 1 comes to mind! More on sheet 1 later.
Plainfield is a 2 sheet club and they manage to cram 32 teams into this spiel. All games are 6 ends, except finals, which are 8 ends, so the games move along rather well overall. Even I managed to move my games along, but then again, the vice & I were on the same page 95% of the time.
Paul & I picked up Heather & Mike around 11:30am on Thursday and then I moved us along to South Plainfield in 4h 30m; we were at the hotel by 4:00pm. By 4:30 we were at the club with drinks in hands, priming ourselves for our first game at 5:15pm. I will be the first to say that we at the Utica CC are very spoiled when it comes to ice conditions. The ice crew – all of us, including our outside “consultants” – do a great job of trying to give participants the best curling conditions for every game. We also have an advantage in that we have more than 2 sheets of ice; this means there is at least one sheet which isn’t a “wall” sheet. Sheets next to an exterior wall need more care & attention for them to play nice.
Apparently there had been a problem with the compressors and dehumidifiers at PCC within the last three weeks. Plus, in a two sheet club, all the sheets are outside (“wall”) sheets. Fortunately for us, Mike (vice) plays with a very good men’s team and that experience really helped me with reading the ice and all the crazy angles we had to deal with. He also bailed us out a LOT. Of course, then I shot and screwed up ths situation again. Well … not so much, really. Our final record was 5-1, so I didn’t screw up that much. To sum up, the middle of the sheets – where sheet 1 met sheet 2 – was the top of “Mount Plainfield” and then sloped off to the wall on either side. Of course, each sheet had its own “personality” and after five games in a row on sheet 1, I knew it, respected it, and was strangely sad to say “good-bye” to it.
We won our first game, albeit a bit shakily, against a nice team from Chesapeake. Our second game was against Aaron Dubberley, ice guy from Plainfield. Ice guys know stuff, so you can be very sure I watched his broom placement like a hawk stooping on her prey. We did very well against his team but alas! It was the last easy victory we would have.
Our next game was against a composite team from Plainfield, Pittsburgh & Potomac. They taught us a lesson or two about sheet 1, which I think I learned for our next games. We were now in the D event, doomed to early morning draws. Did I mention most of us – especially Mike – do not like mornings? Heather’s the exception; she starts her work day around 5am or 6am so she was amazingly chipper. I think Mike had the right idea about the Tanguerays & OJ (English mimosa) in the morning. Once in the D, it was win or be done with curling. I don’t like to be done, as much as I detest 8am draws. So here we go in our 4th game, against a Schenectady team. I’m stressing, I’m not curling (or shooting) well, and we’re four down in the 5th end (out of 6 ends). We’re running out of time. All I have is a tap-up to the 4′ on the wall side where rocks will drift out to the wall with the wrong weight and/or broom. The rock to be tapped up is just touching the 12′, about 4′ off centerline. I remember letting the rock go and thinking, “Maybe … but too light. *&$%!!” Paul and Heather want to sweep but can’t, because they’ll screw up the line. I’m watching the rock and say, “Guess there aren’t any breaks for Shelley today,” and then the rock starts to curl back toward the target. Mike calls for a sweep and it looks good – but is it heavy enough? Paul doesn’t think so and starts kicking a couple rocks back in disgust (unusual for him). Ted (the other skip) says as he zips past me back to the other end of the sheet, “It’s close but I think it’s you.” I finally decide to really look and am shocked at what I see – it really could be us! Mike & the other vice can’t decide, so they measure, and yes! We made the shot! Down three in the 6th, without hammer, I decide to play on. Three, I can manage.
The end sets up. Ted has his lead throw into the 8′, teasing me with a target. Yeah, right. Heather throws up a corner, perhaps just touching, on the “uphill” side of the sheet. I had found if you got some rocks in there – on the uphill side, they were much harder to remove. Ted throws a few more rocks at that, and can’t remove it. Meanwhile, I’m putting up another corner guard, tapping the rock in the house around, and before you know it, I’m sitting a possible three (the third’s a measure). My first shot is a center guard, taking away any straight hits in the house and draw to the wall side – where at least one of my rocks is. He removes it. I tell Mike for my next shot, “This must be third shot, right here.” Top center, full 12′ is exactly where it needs to be for any chance at a win. We’re not sure of the third stone, but we think it’s us, but we’re not going to bet on it. That far out of the rings, it could be anyone’s rock. I deliver the rock, Paul and Heather sweep the heck out of it, and it’s perfect. Right to full 12′, dead center. I can’t believe it. I don’t think anyone did, especially me.
Now Ted’s got some runbacks, maybe even a double, but all he really needs to do is either: remove one of the definite counters OR get in there for second, even third rock. The first way is more likely to be a tie, the second, a win for him. He ends up removing our fourth counter with a very heavy takeout, leaving us lying three. Tie! Ties are determined by skip’s rocks, with sweeping. This is a bit of a gamble, and one I was sort of counting on. I had just thrown two soft shots, a guard and a draw to the top 12′. A draw to the button is only a bit more, but still close. He had just thrown two heavy takeouts (and every skip thinks this so I’m pretty sure he was thinking the same thing) and draw weight isn’t even close to that. My skip rock goes to full 8′. Not bad, but I could have thrown it better, as it lost its handle and ground to a halt early. His draw sails through the house to the hacks. Yay for us!
The D semi final is Sunday at 8am. Grrrr. We start off well, up three after two and then Michelle checked out for a bit. By the sixth, we were down three with hammer. Eerily familiar? I thought so. Mike thought so. We were laughing about it, apparently we liked being down by three in the sixth, we joked. Setup? Well – you saw what worked before. It worked even better the second time. In fact, the opposing skip went after the definitely NOT counting fourth stone (it was 5th, his yellow fourth counter was in the back 12′), hit the inside of it, pushed it towards the middle of sheets one and two to the edge of the 12′, still in full 12′; then his shooter rolled behind all our stones, and doubled himself out in the back, leaving us lying four. No need to shoot that last stone! Now I’m thinking I’m onto something here…
The finals? First of all, a change of venue for us, as we finally got to play on sheet 2! A very good game against another Schenectady team, even if tempers (on our side) were running a bit higher than normal. Mine wasn’t though, I was strangely relaxed and calm. Trust me, this is very unusual for me. I certainly wanted to win – who doesn’t – but I had a bizarre detachment happening, and what the heck? Let’s go with the flow! We won the toss for hammer (our first), and took two in the first. Paul burned the draw for three (I’m pretty sure it was good), but hey! It happens. Then we start giving up one’s. We took one in the fifth. And then the decision.
There’s a saying in curling that if you can’t take two with hammer, you should blank the end and try for your two in the next end. I’m not a nationals level skip by any means, and I usually don’t do that. I play very conservatively and take my one regardless. Mike and I discussed my last shot of the seventh. There was a chance to blank, and down one with hammer in the eighth is a very winnable scenario. (You saw what happened when I was down three!) But to blank, I had to be sure to hit the rock first and my takeouts were a bit shaky that game. Along with the squirrely center line of sheet 2 (too much weight and the wrong line, your rock will float away towards the wall and shall never be seen again; but then again it was the “straight” side, where you should – when possible – always do your takeouts from), it was a level of risk that I was only just comfortable with. But my instincts said, “Absolutely, this is correct,” and I listened. I delivered the rock, it looked good for the take, and then I heard his call, “Go for the blank?”
A bit of sweeping, and the blank happened perfectly. I don’t recall ever – as a skip – doing that so right. Now for the payoff: could I set up the end for two?
It started OK but turned rather quickly. Paul’s first rock pushed in Art’s center guard to the top 8′. (I gave Paul the wrong broom.) Then Art thought he should now try to clear my corners, but the wall side came back to bite him. Dan’s second rock floated just a bit, hit the outside of our corner guard and ran our rock onto his in the house, and then our rock spun a bit to sit in the top 4′, just wall side of center. Paul then threw a guard. Art tried to clear (I think once more), and then had Brian come in. I knew a better draw than the counter in the house was entirely possible, but I had to protect our shot before I could even think about two. And I knew that I would have to throw for the two most likely.
Brian’s rock was a little wide and heavy and somehow stayed straight and came to rest in the back 8′, just past the back 4′ on the sheet 1 side of the centerline. There it was! I knew that would be my two, somehow. I forget what Art’s first shot was, but mine was a missed takeout, coming off centerline. Shades of Rochester passed through my mind… but not again! His last shot was a draw, but it was only just shorter than Brian’s, giving me a nice big target … to draw down to. I almost protested Mike’s call but – I listened. No more takeouts, let’s go with what I do well. Heavy draw for the win.
Paul told me the split to throw – a 3.40 (from backline to hog) – and as I let it go, I knew it had a chance. The split was dead-on. I was even on the broom! But it stayed out there forever. Finally, finally, it began to move, and then … it slid towards the target rocks in the house like we expected. It tapped the second counter back a foot or so, and rolled in 3″ for the win.
So now I am mentally spent and physically mostly so. But it was a weekend well worth it, Heather & Mike were a blast. I only wish we could’ve got some blue crab to bring back with us!
I had an interesting epiphany yesterday. I was thinking back on the superhero fiction I wrote while in college (see it in the Fine Arts -> Prose section) and an obvious question popped to the surface: How would Medea and Enchantress ever meet up in the first place? Why would they have a common ground? Brock (the DM) started the gameplay in media res, and we were already a group on the beat. (Backstory? Who needs stinkin’ backstory? It’s for wimps…)
They’re both parts of me: Medea the fiery (in more ways than one); Enchantress the gentle and caring, intuitive. Medea’s the geek, strongly opinionated, thinks in terms of black and white (I’m right, you’re wrong), and a loner, a bit of an outcast. On the one hand, she doesn’t mind it so much, maybe even likes it, but still – it gets lonely. She’s smart and knows it, so she’ll take care of her problems by herself, thank you very much. Enchantress, while not gregraious, is polite and always has a kind word, willing to see a situation from the other point of view. She’s a friend you might sit with at lunchtime if you ran into her on the way there. You’d enjoy a chat with her on your way home from work on the bus/train. She’s shy – more along the line of reserved - but not withdrawn like Medea is. So what’s their motivation for meeting up?
It’s simpler than it seems: Medea obviously wouldn’t – it’s not in her nature. Enchantress would. She’s also more prone to the mystical (also the origin of her power), so there ya go. Ta da! Actually, I got here first and then the paragraph above evolved from that. Very freaky.
Now, the chicken or the egg question. Should your plot derive from the motivation of the characters, or should the motivation of the characters drive the plot? I’m just a little evil today, thank you!