On soldering on

Once upon a time, I soldered something together in school. At some point between then and now I made some stained glass windows and some small Tiffany style pieces. That kind of involves soldering, but with a huge soldering iron and a reel of lead/tin you could probably knock someone out with.
Since then, my life has been almost entirely solder-free, with any necessary soldering being done by other people.

Turns out becoming the owner of a raspberry pi involves not only learning how to speak ‘programming’ (;)), but also how to melt tiny things together.

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My colleague offered to lend me a soldering iron which was very kind of him, but I decided, on reflection, that maybe soldering =/= soldering. Plumbing and pi-ing seem to be on different ends of a scale, or at least far enough apart to need to step back a bit to see both at the same time.

I went to look at new ones in DIY shops, but even the ones marked ‘suitable for electronics’ seemed huge compared to the pins I needed to connect.

In the end, my brother bought me one online.

This one is a bit longer and fatter than a biro, is fairly lightweight and has a set of changeable tips, almost, but not quite, as tiny as the pins that need soldering!
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A couple of days’ mental build up, and a couple of hours later, I am proud (ish) to present (dum-dum-dah!) the results of my first electronic soldering:

It’s not a work of art, and it won’t win any prizes, but the pins are all attached to the board, and are recognisably separate from each other and not all melted together. I consider that a success..

Having let it all cool down, I inspected my labours… It seems I melted the plastic casing enough to push a few of the pins through towards the other side :(.

Here’s hoping it won’t matter! πŸ™‚

On discovering a baby

Look!

Ok, you might need some help if you don’t know what you’re looking for..

Isn’t it awesome?! 4 of the 7 miniature schrimp I bought a month ago were ‘pregnant’. At some point I noticed that they were no longer carrying their eggs, but there was no sign of the babies anywhere.

Until now.

I was beginning to wonder if they’d hatched at all.

Now I’m looking forward to watching the babies grow up πŸ™‚ I say babies, so far I’ve only seen one, but I figure if one’s survived, the chances of a few of the other 400 or so surviving are pretty high. Higher than the chance of me seeing them in 350 litres of well-planted aquarium. Especially when they don’t start off particularly colourfully.

On aphids (and making a mess in the kitchen)

On the grounds that I still don’t feel like doing all the things I ought to be doing, I stopped at a garden centre on my way home from work and bought another bag of compost..

..which I then proceeded to spread all over the kitchen floor. (It’s cold outside, and I need to wash the floor anyway).

All things considered, it was a productive evening.

I rescued this:

out of its tiny pot. (For some reason it was also in a cage, I hope it won’t attack me now I’ve let it out).

Then I rescued this:

out of its even tinier pot:

I transferred the chrysanthemums out of their pots and into the last 3 balcony boxes and a tub (and snuck hyacinth bulbs in between them). The flowers have pretty much gone over, but they might as well have a proper home to be over in.

Then I found pots for my hibiscus cuttings which have been rooting (in a jar of water) since about March:

And then, because I was on a roll, I dealt with the aphid infestation:

I’ve never seen them go quite as crazy as that before. The poor plant’s seen much better days.

I gave it a major haircut and washed all the visible bugs off. Probably have to wash it every day for a while.. Looks a bit happier now though. I’ll have to get a spray bottle too.

I still have several to pot on, but I’ve run out of decent sized pots so they’ll have to wait.

I’m so glad I have my own kitchen! πŸ™‚

I’ll add pictures of yesterday’s plants tomorrow.

On making a mess in the dark

I started planting my balcony boxes almost a month ago. Various things kept getting in the way, and I kept wishing I could get out and finish them.

Today, I left work earlier than usual and decided to ignore most of the things I should have been doing, and instead spent the evening playing in the dirt.

Since someone messed with the clocks, it’s dark by 5, but luckily I have a light on my balcony.

I ran out of compost, almost exactly at the same time as I ran out of boxes (if you don’t count the 3 waiting to be started).

I also ran out of warmth quite a long time before that, so I was glad of the excuse to go in for a hot shower! Autumn is cold and damp πŸ™

Tomorrow I will pick up a couple more sacks of compost – for the last boxes, and for the new houseplant arrivals.

This is the state I left it in:

Edit – the morning after:

The balcony was covered in plastic grass when I moved in.

It’s now covered in plastic grass and wet compost.

πŸ™‚ joy

Does anyone have any good ideas for getting the compost out, besides washing it? My balcony is right over the front door – it has to be a resident friendly idea

(And yes, this is probably why people buy those huge potting mats…)

On lacking trust

This morning I bought 10 chocolate catfish. They are small and dark brown and incredibly cute.

The saleslady at the fish market said they’d grow to approximately 4-5cm long – perfect for my tank. I had no signal in the salesroom, so I couldn’t check anything online. I bought the fish, based purely on sight and the assurance of the saleslady.

When I reached civilization (;)) I googled them. Apparently there’s no such thing. I tried various other searches and decided they must be a dark brown version of Corydoras Aeneus. They grow to 8cm long. That’s almost double what I was expecting. I’m awful at playing catch (to get them out of an aquarium), especially when there’s lots of plants to hide in, so I aim not to have to try. That means I have to decide where they’re going in advance and that is dangerously close to planning.

I don’t plan.

After a long time of faffing about, googling and trying to make a decision, I took the fish to xDB’s, and put them into his tank with my other babies. He’s doing a great job of looking after them for me.

After I got home, fishless, I found a website selling a breed of dark brown catfish which supposedly reach an adult length of 5-6cm. 

Maybe the saleslady is right after all. Maybe I can pick my fish up in a couple of months and know they’ll be ok to live with my other fish.

But what if they really will get that big, what if she just wanted to sell them? I guess it worked – I bought them…
I’m not sure whether I lack trust or have too much.

On peppers in November

(posted on the 1st, but somehow got stuck in the works)

One of my customers brought me a chili-pepper plant today. He wanted to thank me for getting his glass stuff finished so quickly. I didn’t actually have very much to do with his glass, my colleague did 95% of the work, but I do appreciate the pepper. (And obviously my 5% was the most important 5% ;))

Look at how pretty it is!

Talking of peppers, someone told me it’s November today… Apparently that means something to some people..

On reaching for the ordinary and finding nothing but stars ?

I have an airbed. It’s huge, and it leaks. Just a bit, but so that there is a considerable dent when I wake up. I pump it up before I go to bed in the evening and all is good.

This morning I decided to stay in bed after I woke up. I am a lady of leisure after all [..the exams]. I got up, turned the pump on, then off and heard an ominous hissing. I thought the plug wasn’t in properly, but there was no problem there. Then I noticed the hole.

It wasn’t a very big hole, but it was a noisy hole, and it was having a big impact. When I covered it with my finger the hissing stopped. When I took my finger away, I could watch my bedclothes sinking towards the floor.

I went on a hunt for sellotape.

What I found was a page of sticky stars.

Now I can lie in bed, knowing I’m protected by the stars πŸ™‚

On keys (and castles)

According to a worn out proverb/saying/phrase, an Englishman’s home is his castle.

This English girl has a new Castle πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚

I don’t have a moat, or even a pond*,Β but I do have a balcony (and a cellar). And 60 square metres of floor all to myself. (Wheeeeeeee!)

I signed the papers on Tuesday, got the keys on Friday, and have been gradually collecting furniture to put in it. (That’s a future post in it’s own right).

Not your typical castle door, I’ll have to get some decent black hinges organised πŸ™‚

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I haven’t moved yet. The landlord has a few things he needs to change/mend/work on first, and since I had 2 exams at the weekend (yet another future post) and still need to sort out an electricity company, and wash the floor, and pick up some more shelves and a bed, and move all of my things, I can’t see that it’s a problem. After 3 1/2 years (or 4 depending on how you’re counting) I reckon a week here or there is mostly irrelevant.

*Β another post – there are so many things to write out of my head…

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Hallo luffly peoples, I am going to try catching up on all your posts and comments and what-have-yous soon. Life’s a bit crazy at the moment, but I’m planning to have a more relaxed summer πŸ™‚

On finding the cage door

Postcard:
“Take the time to do the things that make you happy”
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I picked up this postcard because of the message in the middle. I didn’t notice (don’t ask me how) that it was covered with pictures of keys and an open cage.

I am one step closer to opening my own cage, so it seems appropriate.

On green cards, chocolate and a small flashing light

That very short list just about covers the things I’m living for at the moment.

The stacks of carefully written green and blue cards prove I’m revising, the chocolate provides motivation to carry on writing, and the small flashing light makes me smile as it blinks to tell me someone’s written to me.

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On planting my lunch

A seed fell out of my lunch yesterday:

It had already started growing, so I planted it. (People without access to compost and plant pots in their lunch break are obviously missing out πŸ˜‰ *)

Even if I don’t really have room for an apple tree in my garden, I figured it should have a chance to do its thing. And there are always other people with bigger gardens if it ever gets too big for a tub.

Then I opened the other seed cavities and found two more ready-germinated seeds, so I planted them too.

In a couple of years I’ll need a volunteer who’s willing to host my orchard :).
* I only do as of yesterday morning – my tomato plants were shooting up without enough light to make them strong. The office at work faces mostly south, which is often a pain, but is probably good for the tomatoes…