A journey through my mind. Which is sometimes fabulous. Often not.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Goodbye, Ah-Gong

It's been a rough re-entry from our weekend mini-vacation from San Diego. We had a wonderful time exploring the city and having good meals. I ate a whole dungeness crab by myself for lunch (well, Rick helped with 3 legs or so).

First off, let me just say that last night, we got news that my paternal grandfather had passed away on Saturday. He had been quite ill. About a year ago, he had three surgeries in two weeks, which included having a pacemaker put in. After many months in the hospital, he was moved to a nursing home. A few months after that, he was moved back home permanently with a live-in nurse to help out. I visited him at Christmas time and he seemed to be much better than the previous visits, albeit thinner and got tired quicker.

The news came as a bit of a shock, even though he had been very ill. Although, frankly (and with guilt), I had not thought of him for many months. And perhaps that is why the following story is told with such uncertainty.

On Saturday afternoon, Rick and I took a walk along the beach and visited the pier on Shelter Island. There was a small bait and tackle office as well as an "education" room where shells and marine life were displayed. There were a few cases of dried butterflies and insects; they were mostly fantastically colored species that simultaneously caused you to cringe from the gross factor as well as enticed you to come closer for a better look. It was fascinating and horrifying. We walked back to the hotel, and while crossing the parking lot, something dark caught my eye, and I cast my eyes downward. I saw this giant, black, beetle-roach-looking-thing monching on some crap on the ground. "Ewww!!" I cried. And stifled the reflex to stomp on it. Live, and let live, right?

Back in the room, just minutes later, I pulled the bedspread down off the bed to get ready for a nap. I looked over at Rick, who had stopped what he was doing to point at the side of the bed, and said, "LOOK..."! I walked over, looked, and screamed like a bloody monster. Sitting there quietly on the inner part of the bedspread was the same, giant beetle-roach-looking thing that we had just seen outside. It was very big, very black, and very shiny. I panicked and ran around in circles before running to the sink area and getting the hotel's ice bucket. On my way, I shouted over my shoulder to Rick, "Call downstairs!"

Now, up until then, the hotel staff had been more than the usual nice, at least for us. They had greeted us promptly at the front desk, and housekeeping had directed us to the right wing as soon as they saw us looking around the hallway for our room. When Rick called the front desk to alert them to our situation, the man there had said, "What would you like us to do?" and because we've never had to deal with a bug infestation ever in our hotel rooms, Rick didn't know what to say. Umm, come get it?! The man asked if we'd like our sheets changed and we said yes.

We caught the beetle without much incident although when it fell off the covers, I screamed again before Rick somehow managed to corral it into the ice bucket. The room phone rang and it was the front desk man, asking if we'd caught or killed the bug, and that his manager would like to see it, so if we would please hand it to the staff that would be changing our sheets. I think this guy was new or just not particularly experienced as the other staff employees we'd dealt with.

Our sheets were changed by the on-call housekeeping staff. They were friendly, yet because they were simply the ones on-call and not the regular 12pm - 4pm crew that changes the sheets daily, they didn't seem to know what to do. But also because we were just standing there, watching them. Well anyways, I decided that instead of giving our evidence to them that we would take the critter ourselves to the front desk.

As we walked down the stairs with Rick clutching the ice bucket tightly in his hands, I saw that the manager was at the front desk. I somehow easily identified him as the manager because of the tell-tale glasses, moustache, and business clothing instead of the other staff's uniforms. We walked up to the counter, and Rick joked, "It's a fine specimen." Rick and I weren't angry or really taking this whole thing seriously, we were just shocked and creeped out, but we didn't make a scene or throw a fit. We just wanted to let them know and have the situation handled, and we didn't have any demands or motivation to make other guests worry. The manager, on the other hand, was quite inhumorous, which of course, was as he should be. He took the ice bucket, peered in, and said, "OH MY GOD." And apologized profusely and said that his housekeeping staff is usually very thorough. He looked up our room info and comp-ed our night. We thanked him and went back to our room, where we sat quietly and alert for the rest of the evening until dinner time.

The following morning, Sunday, after a wonderful complimentary breakfast buffet downstairs, we went back to our room to pack up to check-out by noon. It was already at least 80 degrees and our room was warming up from the sun streaming through the sliding doors off the balcony. We packed while we watched TV. At 10:30am, while we were both sitting on the bed with stuff laid out but eyes glued to the tv, we both saw something move and together whipped our eyes over to the movement. This time, along the carpet near the sliding door, yet another beetle was taking a stroll across the sunlight.

Rick and I looked at each other and said, "You've got to be kidding me." This time, without any screaming or any shock, I grabbed a small glass cup and Rick scooped it up easily. We sighed and just looked at each other. Should we call downstairs again? Should we let it go? We decided that we might as well take it down and tell them that it had happened again.

The Sunday morning front desk staff consisted of two women who shrieked when they saw the contents of our tissue-covered glass cup. They covered their mouths and opened their eyes wide, and one of them said, "Oh my gosh, I can't look at it, it's so disgusting," and took the cup to the back. She also mentioned that being a resident of San Diego who lives just a few blocks away, she's never seen any bug like this before. When Rick mentioned that this was our second bug, they said, "In the same room? We heard about the one yesterday." Which actually really impressed me, because that just shows how in-tune the management is with their staff. They looked up our room and said that the night manager had indeed comp-ed our room for last night, and we told them we would be checking out in an hour. We left them with good humor, so good and understanding that I started to wonder if they'd think we planted the beetle ourselves just to get a free night.

I should probably describe this beetle to give you a better picture of what we were dealing with. I didn't take any pictures, unfortunately, so I'm going on what I remember of this bug. I spent the morning looking in beetle databases to figure out what the heck we saw. I think all three were the same species, although I can't say for sure.

I narrowed it down to two types, but don't know the exact species. The Carabidae Calasoma genus of Ground Beetles or the Eliode Teenebrionida Darkling Beetle. Here are pictures of each (and yes, it's enough to make you vomit, unless you're totally into insects).

Our beetle was about 1.25 inches in length. Yep, one fat sucker. And when you see this big black thing on super white bed sheets, it really elicits screams of terror.

So last night, when I got the news about the passing of my grandfather, I began to think. After 10 minutes of the usual thoughts and emotions when you hear about a death, a distant memory popped into my head. Years ago, when my mother lost a long-time friend to cancer, before she'd gotten the news of his death, she'd been "harrassed" by a fly. It was in her home, in her car, at her parents' house. I'll have to get the details from her about the fly, but I distinctly remember her telling us that she believed the fly was her friend, coming by to tell her goodbye. And after the fly finally went away, she heard that her friend had died.

I don't know whether or not this beetle was my grandfather coming by to say goodbye. Or if he wanted something of me, or wanted to tell me something, or if he was approving or disapproving of anything. I mean, do spirits come to you in disgusting insect forms? Does it mean anything if the visitor is a cute ladybug, a buzzing wasp, or a beetle?

Analyzing the facts, I do choose to believe that the beetle was my grandfather. The situation is just too bizarre to be thought out rationally. We tore that room apart, looking for holes and crevices that perhaps the beetle had come out from. Nothing. The fact that no one else in the hotel complained about a beetle sighting in their room. The fact that no staff member had ever seen this type of insect in their area before. The fact that our room was on the second floor, away from any shrubs or gardens, and that if this beetle was a Ground Beetle that has no wings and is nocturnal, that we shouldn't have seen it on the second floor walking about and active during the daytime. The fact that we had seen the beetle three times. Possibly even in the cases on the pier, too, but I didn't pay that much attention to the details. Common bugs all look the same if you're not a bug-ologist or even remotely interested in these creatures.

So today, I'm still wondering what it is I'm supposed to do. I don't know if the beetle species itself is important. I don't know if it was just a bug big enough for us to see and not smoosh. I don't know how I'm supposed to interpret any of this information. I don't know if the appearance of the beetle is a good sign or a bad sign. But I do know that I want to say goodbye to my grandfather, whom I call Ah-Gong. And if he can forgive me for my indiscretions, I would be very humble. I apologize for not visiting more often during his older years, and have no excuses. Goodbye, Ah-Gong.

Monday, April 21, 2008

An entry from the Dictionary of Bella Grace

Minnie Bihon - /MIN-nee BEE-hohn/. n. Origins: Philippines and US. Evolution of and pun on Filipino noodle dish, Miki Bihon, and Disney character used to describe a particularly cute baby named Isabella. See fig. 1. Also Monkey Bihon, Monster Bihon, Hungry Bihon, Naughty Bihon. Created by Momma Hsiny, authored and documented by Auntie Mingy.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Is it time yet? Can I send them??

So this past weekend, while out at a birthday party in the scorching heat of April, I found out that one of Rick's aunts reads my blog (hi Auntie Lola!). Now the pressure's on to post good and interesting stuff and not just ramblings of my unkempt mind. Sort of. ;)

My envelopes and embosser arrived today! I was so excited that I ripped the boxes open and started punching away and assembling. I've only made about 20 STDs, and half of them (the first half) I decided are substandard compared to the rest. So I don't think I'll be sending them out. Too bad. Such a waste of good paper. They're off center and the punched holes are too close. Anyone will tell me they're fine and to send them out anyway. So maybe I will. To those who might not notice. ;)

The embosser is my new favorite toy. Because it's customized, the envelopes look like we've had them professionally printed. Now if I could just master my handwriting skills... I've already addressed a few of the envelopes in a very fine point brown pen (this includes you, Auntie Lola). To those people, I apologize for my awful penmanship. As for the rest of them lucky ones, they'll be getting clear, computer-labeled envelopes. :) Then they'll really look professional. AHAHA!

The envelopes aren't as good as I had hoped, but they'll do. The color is pretty close to the right shade of sage, and when you order this kind of stuff online, it's hit or miss with the quality and color you expect.

I'll be sending out the STDs soon enough. I realize (again) that we're not even 365 days and counting yet - no need to rush the STDs. I hope to patiently hang on to them until July or August. *sigh* But it will give me some more time to hum and haw over whether or not to send out the slightly retarded STDs that people will just throw away anyways.

List of reminders for this month:

April 19 - Kathleen's bday party
April 25 - 27 - San Diego! Every year, Rick and I plan a mini-vacation the last week of April; a weekend getaway to celebrate our anniversary (April 30). And this year, it's a very special weekend because our wedding date will be exactly one year from then. :) Kind of a pre-wedding anniversary / last trip of our boyfriend-girlfriend relationship. And it's all coincidental because we booked our trip before we booked our wedding date.

There should be more reminders. But I can't remember them. Darn.

Gotta finish my homework before we go down to SD. Which means I should finish week 2 early this week and start on week 3 by Saturday.

Pictures of Isabella to come soon. Actually, I can post this one that I really like. This was taken just a few hours after she was born. Of course, she's already grown a foot and a couple of pounds, but she still kind of looks the same. ;)

I'll post a REALLY cute picture of her as soon as I get my brother in law to send it to me. It's totally frickin hilarious!

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

STD time...

No, I don't mean it's time to visit the doctor. It's time to post about Save The Date cards!!!! In wedding lingo, they're called STDs.

It's about time that I post some pictures about my crafting. I've made a couple of grocery totes, but no posts or pictures. So now that I'm on to paper crafting and will take a long time doing each set, here's the first of many wedding-related posts to come.

So I've had a lot of ideas on how to make my STDs. With all the DIY sites and projects as well as commercially printed ones, I ended up with something quite classic. And easy to do. I went through a bunch of ideas and formats, and although the ones I ended up making weren't my finalized ideals, they're much simpler and easier to make.

Here we go. My pictures aren't that great...
In progress...

My STDs consisted of a brown textured cardstock layer, then a printed sage green floral scrapbook page layer, then a printed layer of vellum, all tied together with a brown bow. Oh, and I attached a magnet on the back. :)

Here's what it looks like underneath:

I originally used tracing paper, which printed beautifully, but after cutting it down to size, about 4" x 6", the paper curled up at the edges so I had to go buy a pack of vellum instead. I wanted to create the look of the vellum without using vellum because it's so much pricier. My book of Strathmore tracing paper was less than $4. The pack of vellum for 50 sheets was $17.

And the final thing (with the vellum turned slightly because of how it's placed):

Strathmore textured brown 80lb. cover, 19 x 25 (cut 5 x 7 pieces)
Anna Griffin sage floral scrapbook paper 12 x 12 (cut 4 x 6 pieces)
Translucent vellum by WorldWin, inkjet printable 8.5 x 11 (print in 4 quarters)
Brown satin ribbon
Magnet strip (4 foot roll)

Cost per STD:
Brown paper $0.12
Sage floral paper $0.042
Vellum: $0.085
Brown ribbon: $0.01
Magnet: $0.11
Sage green envelope with felt finish, 70lb weight (coming in the mail from Envelope Mall) @ $12.95 per 100 = $0.129

So grand total cost for one STD: $0.496, which rounded up, is 50 CENTS!!!

I paid retail for the brown textured cardstock, the vellum, and the magnets. But the floral paper and brown ribbon were on sale at Michael's (you know, those 4 for $1 type sales!). The green envelopes were the most expensive because of the heavy felt finish, but also because they're size A7 (5 x 7) and no office supply store carries these special sizes.

It still takes me a while to create each STD because I'm just picky and meticulous about the sizes being just right, and making sure I cut straight with the rotary wheel and paper cutter is tedious and time consuming. But I have so much time, I'm relishing making each one perfect!!!!