Sunday, October 4, 2009

Newport Aquarium

These are the best of my test photos using my new (to me) Canon camera, taken at the Newport Aquarium. I'm a bit embarrassed that I didn't note any specific information about these marvelous creatures beyond the obvious...

The jellyfish tanks were the most magical of all - I could watch them flutter and waft around all day.

Saturday, April 18, 2009


Several weeks ago I found the cutest little Yorkshire terrier in Chambesy, after dropping off my friend Dana at her home. He seemed to be lost, no tags on him. So I scooped him up (he was more than happy to come along!), thinking I'd leave him at the nearest police station and they'd find his owner by scanning his implanted ID chip.

Wrong. There are no police in Chambesy; the nearest are in Versoix, about 6 km away. I drove to Versoix and pulled up to the police station which looked entirely dark. Got to the door with the dog, to read that the station is open Mon-Fri from 4 to 6 pm only. This is Switzerland, after all. So the dog had to come home with me, until I could figure out what to do. At least the Co-op supermarket next door was still open, and I grabbed a small sack of kibbles.

He was remarkably camera shy for such an outgoing little pup (taken with cell phone - my Nikon's battery was dead):

He was so well mannered, too (at least compared to Entei, my late Labrador), so dainty and polite, though a little too doggie-smelling. He weighed next to nothing. I rigged a makeshift leash and took him for a couple brief walkies. I called him "Skippy", after a little joke my son and I shared the previous weekend, and fantasized about being able to keep him...

I did draw the line at letting him sleep in my bed, though - jumping down would have been a kamikazi leap for the little thing, and I didn't want to find puddles or other disasters in my bed the next morning. Plus, he needed a bath before any prolonged snuggling. Don't know where he ended up sleeping, but he was quiet all night.

The next morning, I took Skippy for a brief walk before heading to the office for the day. No way could he come to work with me. I shut him in the kitchen with food and water, leaving the door to the balcony open (hoping for the best). Skippy was yapping his adorable little head off as I got in the elevator of my apartment building. Uh oh. I silently apologized to my neighbors while descending to the garage. My fantasies about the joys of keeping him were fading rapidly.

I made up a little poster at work with his photos. Dana helped translate it into French, and printed off a dozen copies to post around Chambesy over the weekend. I decided to take Skippy to the SPA (animal protection) on Saturday to be scanned in case he had an ID chip.

Later that evening, right after I dropped Dana off, I saw a woman walking some kind of tiny little dog. I stopped, rolled down my window, and showing her the poster we'd made, asked if she knew anyone with a Yorkie. As luck would have it, she pointed to a house the other side of the street, saying that a Yorkie lived there.

I parked, got out, went up to the aforementioned house, and rang the bell. A woman with a very sad expression opened the door. I held up the poster, and she brightened immediately. Yes, it was her dog! What a relief for both of us.

We agreed she would follow me in her car to my apartment. When we got there, while handing Skippy to his owner, I told her she should really get a tag for him in case he got lost again. She said that his left ear was tattooed with his ID number (which I never noticed), as if that was enough. Hmmmm. Well, she was the one who had endured a sleepless night worrying about him, when he could have been returned that same day if he'd had a tag. Not to mention if I hadn't chanced upon that woman walking her tiny dog on the street, several more days could have passed before Skippy got back home.

It was with a twinge of regret that I patted ol' Skip goodbye, and watched his mistress drive off with him. I forgot to ask what she called him. Yet I was glad for the experience, which showed me that I'm not ready yet to have the responsibilities of a pet again. Someday, but not right now.

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Shabby Chic (?)

Just finished abusing this cute little table, "shabby chic"-style. My goal was to give the $10 flea market find a new look without spending any more money on the project. Since I have other pieces in my living room that are light neutral distressed tones, I wanted something coordinating.

But.... I only had white paint, and all the how-tos I consulted recommended two colors of paint to layer in coats. I decided on a bruised mushroom color. If you're chic, you call it taupe, which is French for "bruised mushroom". (Actually, une taupe is a mole, the little burrowing beast). Ahem. A trip to the DIY store yielded two mini pots of paint (half-price!) which, when mixed, I hoped would produce the desired shade. They did, with a lot of white added in.  There went 4 francs. Ooops.

I sanded the old finish down to what I hoped was an acceptable level, since I have not ever had good luck with stripping and am scared of the toxic chemicals involved. Not to mention their cost - lots more than the table price. So sanding would have to do. Then I painted it with one coat of primer for "difficult surfaces" (hoping to counteract any deficiencies in my sanding job). Two coats of bruised mushroom came next.

Already the table looked vastly better, but it was still a bit boring. Time for the white paint. The pros all recommend using glazes, but as far as I can tell, paint glaze does not exist here in Switzerland. So I just watered down the white paint a bit, and applied a thin coat. Ack! What streaks! After about 5 minutes, though, I decided maybe it would be OK. Repainting is always an option. I let it all dry a week.

Today, I got the sandpaper and steel wool, and set to work. I sanded the edges non-uniformly, where wear would occur over a long period, and even some of the surfaces on the legs where they protrude the most. Then I sanded the flat surfaces to tone down the streakiness and create "worn" patches. Et voila! A coat of paste wax, et c'est fini!