Monday, June 28, 2010

Get going

Here's a picture of B with our camping set up Saturday. Those are wet wetsuits hanging on the white truck, B's 16' raft, and my campervan tucked in the back. We did manage to fit inside the confines of the campsite. We rafted on Saturday and Sunday - Saturday just the two of us, and Sunday with another passenger, a dog and the dog's owner in a kayak. Sally, for her own good on this first trip, went to dog camp for the night.

It was a blast. The river is just right for a newbie like myself, and I got just enough of a thrill out of it that I'd like to both do this again, and explore the possibility of learning how to use a kayak. B made sure to tell me the safety stuff: if you get thrown out of the boat, try to grab onto it and get back in as soon as possible, if not, point your feet downstream, etc. The thought of getting tossed out of the raft in a rapid (i.e. "going for a swim") scared me, even though I was wearing a wetsuit, booties, spray jacket, helmet and life jacket. They have a saying about whenever you go out on the river, "you're just between swims". Sort of a metaphor for life, too.

It feels so good to be out DOING stuff. Taking advantage of the outdoor stuff Colorado has to offer. Sure, my lawn should have been cut a few days ago, but I think it's a fair tradeoff. It's cooler in the mountains, and it's been hot down here in town. I'm so jazzed to be hanging out with B, who (in addition to his other great qualities) does outdoorsy stuff as a matter of course, and by virtue of that, gives me the opportunity to try some new stuff. And he got the stove on the campervan working - what's not to like?

In other news, my brother called and gave me dates that would be good for us to visit them in MN. I need to talk to my boss, but am going to try to take that trip the week after next. First big trip with Graycie. I thought we might try to swing a little south and visit the tallgrass prairie in Kansas. By the map, it's only a couple of hours out of the way. I need to get the cruise control fixed before we go.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Who helps who

Last Sunday, I paid a visit to Boyles Family Farms to pick up a couple of chickens I ordered and also to volunteer a couple of hours because they had experienced some flooding and were behind schedule a little. Claire and Matt's farm is one of the newer CSAs (Community Supported Agriculture) in the area.

Why am I not a member of this CSA? Well, I had thought about signing up, and in the end, it's too much food for just me, especially when I'm growing food in my garden this year. That sounds lame. I also suffer from something vegetable-related that makes me lose my taste for anything that I HAVE to eat so it won't go to waste. That's lame as well, but it is true. I talked about splitting a share with a co-worker and I think we'll do that next year (I think it's too late for this year).

Nevertheless, I want to support them somehow. I've signed on to buy eggs if they have enough, and will also make arrangements to get out there a few more times to see if I can help out. On Sunday, I helped transplant zinnias. It's a three-person job, and it just so happened that me being a left-handed person was an advantage because it's set up for one of the two transplanters to load plants with her left hand. I felt so useful. That's what I mean by who helps who here. Feeling useful was motivation to do it again, AND I ended up getting one of the chickens for free for helping out (thanks, Claire!).

And can I just say that I love the idea of having a flower farm? You can keep your livestock and your vegetables. If I farmed, I'd grow small fruits and cut flowers. I was excited to hear Claire say that there is actually a market for cut flowers around here. Not that I'm rushing out to do this, but it does my heart good that people are willing to pay for something I think would be satisfying to grow, and that I feel adds a bit of nature and beauty to our lives (sorry, that's a little sappy).

Thursday, June 24, 2010

It was one of those days

Over the last two days at work I have:
- Emptied communal trash
- Made communal buffer
- Changed the toner cartridge for the communal printer
- Ordered communal lab equipment
- Mixed up more communal mosquito food

I suppose it's human nature to wait for someone else to do some of these things....

Wednesday, June 23, 2010


We got the word the other day that the contracts had been renewed for all of us contractors in my group at work. Although it's not entirely unexpected, it comes as a relief this time of year to get the go-ahead for another year. Initially, when I was learning to live on my own after the divorce, getting renewed represented security. I had some debt, and knowing I had a job for the next year eased my stress considerably about paying it down.

My boss is really good about advancing us along the step increases that regular federal employees get, so I was happy to hear that I will get a raise this year. Just so happens that it will almost cover that new van payment. *Poof* it's gone. That's OK. More than OK.

I just finished up one project and am gearing up to do the next. I'm training a summer worker to do the first part of what I do, and it's been interesting. She's primarily a field biologist, and getting her up to speed on doing the lab stuff makes me remember how many steps there are to each thing. As in, how many places there are to screw up if you're just starting out! But she's sharp, and will be up to speed soon. I love how stuff like this often ends up being useful to the person down the road. It'll add to her skill set as a biologist and that's good for a college student.

So, I'm content at work. I've let go for the moment the notion that the goal is to get a full time teaching position. I might pursue it some day, but for now I need to stay in the same town as my kid's dad and get Mr W raised and launched. After he goes off to school, it's anyone's guess, but for now, I'm here and that's good and enough.

Monday, June 21, 2010

It's been HOW long?

We took Graycie out for our inaugural camping trip on Saturday. I did some house stuff - got rid of an old pile of mulch that had been sitting at the entrance to my garage for at least two years, which had been then overlain with rose canes cut from this year's pruning and old wood from Mr W's old sand box - what a mess and now it's outta here. Thanks, lawn waste recycling place, Hageman's I love you! Because of this and getting ready, we didn't get on the road until about 5 pm. We camped at Jack's Gulch, up the Poudre Canyon and in the Roosevelt National Forest.

Above, is Mr W having dessert in the van. Below is Sally the next morning, after I had gotten up and had to start the van for heat because it was pretty chilly (and because I could, I suppose). The best I can say for Sally at this point is that she's got a bit to learn about being a camp dog, namely not barking at each and every person that walks by. Mr W is under the red sleeping bag somewhere. I love darn near everything about this van, but the bed was really uncomfortable for me. I'm hoping that getting my head and shoulders elevated with an extra pillow will help, but my back hurt the next morning.

We bought some firewood from the campground hosts and had a fire. This is exactly where and how I was sitting when the thought occurred to me: "How long has it BEEN since I've been camping?" It was a common and routine thing for me for my teenage years and most of my adult years, but sitting there, I could only remember camping with Mr W and our old dog Ursa back in 2005. Five years?! Really?

And I realized that I didn't camp for the whole time I was in the long distance relationship, and really not for the time between that and the divorce. So strange. This trip was wacky because of getting used to the new van, but the feeling of camping and saying hi to your neighbors and enjoying a fire and the scenery, that was all comfortable and familiar.

So, I'm back. It never ceases to amaze me how our actions eventually come around to how/where our heads are.

Especially when this kind of scenery is a two minute walk from the campsite.

Friday, June 18, 2010


Here is Miss Sally and my new van! She, Mr W and I will go camping Saturday night somewhere close. I think it will be a matter of driving up to the area, and seeing what's open, as the reservation system wants one to make the reservation 4 days or more in advance.

Here's my raised beds this morning. The large green presence in the lower right corner was labeled as "Broccoli" - can anyone confirm my suspicion that these are Brussels sprouts? I need to head to the nursery this weekend to fill in just a couple of spots, and then I think I'm done. This has been my first year growing greens, and I wish I had planted more.

And, finally, my own personal hybrid zone! I studied native plant hybridization when I was in school, and, while these Penstemmon aren't native, they have hybridized and are slowly taking over the front garden, which I will gladly allow. The previous owners of my house planted them, and I think started with a dark blue, a pink, and a white on the other side that's out of the picture. Now there are plants with a range of pinks and purples - it's cool to see how it changes a little each year.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010


I am going to pick up my new hippie campervan this afternoon. B has generously offered to drive me to Boulder to get it. It still needs the A/C recharged, and there was some flange or whatzit that it needs that he could order, but it would have to come from Washington state and wasn't urgent, so I'm holding off on that. Otherwise he did all the stuff to make it trip worthy.

I'm bummed out about making a car payment again, but it's been 11 years since I've had to do so, so I can't complain too much! And, as these things sometimes go, my Civic needs some work done. The muffler is going, and there's some noise when I make a turn. I bought a muffler from Midas several years ago, and they have that lifetime guarantee. When I get this one replaced, it will be the 4th or 5th one they've given me for free. One would think they would just make a better product that didn't have to be replaced so often. Mine have needed to be replaced every 3 years or so.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010


These were the spare flowers left over from the spike I cut and put in a vase. The vase is wrong for the flowers, so I like this arrangement better. We've had a lot of rain over the last few days, so the spikes were leaning and had to be cut. I could grow boatloads of Delphinium - it's so striking. I think I shall buy a few more plants.

I need to get out and take some more pictures, as things are starting to take off. The popcorn and giant sunflowers we planted from seed are growing and need to be thinned. Last year the squirrels took most of them as seeds, so it was tough to get them established.

But the cantaloupe is still a little scrawny thing and I might have to give up on my idea of growing my own. I should hit the nurseries this weekend and see if they've got any starts left.

Sunday, June 13, 2010


I was talking the other day to B, the person I recently started dating. He remarked how he was on to see how much longer his subscription ran for and saw that someone in New York, someone with a 25 acre homestead, had looked at his profile. I laughed because he figured out quickly that I was showing him off to Jordan when I visited her last weekend. I hadn't been checking the site recently, and was happy to hear he hadn't been either. So far so good in that regard, fingers crossed and all that - I enjoy his company a lot.

Well, this made me think I should check my subscription status, because those nice folks at Match will renew one's subscription automatically for you if you don't cancel within the time frame of your current subscription. You know, because they are out for your best interests and want to help. Anyway, I log on and my subscription was set to expire that day. Yea! Good timing. So I canceled it.

It's funny how it felt like a significant step. "I'm not re-upping with Match because I want to see how things go with this new person". I admit that in this last round of dating, since I got out of the long distance relationship, I met a couple of people and found myself continuing to peruse the site. This time, I didn't feel compelled to keep checking and I think that's a good sign.

In other news, we have had RAIN! It's Sunday morning, and it's been rainy with little breaks since Friday night. Mr W and I are supposed to go to a Rockies game today, and I don't know if that's going to happen. The weeds made a big push for dominance while I was gone, and I continue to be amazed at how the bindweed can grow through over a foot of dirt and pop out the top of my raised beds. Those are easy to pull, though, and the wet soil has made weeding less of a big deal than it sometimes is.

And finally, a blog friend, Claire over at Little Farm.Growing has had a heck of a spring on their small farm, between hailstorms and a recent flash flooding event. If you can, go over and say hi. They have had a tough time of it and could use the support.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Estes Park Sheep and Wool

Mr W, friend Deanna and I went to the wet woolliness that was the Estes Park Sheep and Wool Market. It was a dreary day, rainy and muddy, but we were prepared and had a good day. Above is a llama, and it and the other llamas were curious and pleasant and fun to visit.

We watched a sheep dog demo, but there was a lot more talking than demo-ing, so we left early.

There was a nice kids' tent, and here's a picture of Mr W making rope out of 12 strands of yarn with a gizmo that twists them together. We watched lots of spinning and weaving demos as well.

And there were vendors! Yes, indeed. Many (but not too many) vendors, with lots of stuff for sale. These are some nice ones.

And here is my purchase for the day, 5 skeins (400 yds. each) of sport weight yarn. Love the colorways with subtle variegation. These are in grey, sort of a slatey blue/green, and a dark magenta. I think I'll make socks with most of it. I'm in a stage where I'm using sport weight instead of fingering weight for socks. It goes so much faster!

Thursday, June 10, 2010


Who made these flight reservations?! Whose idea was it to have an almost-three-hour layover in Chicago?

I guess at the time, I didn't want to have to be in Syracuse (an hour's drive from Ithaca) at 6am to catch the earlier flight. Oh well. I paid for internet access on the way out, so it's paid for while I wait for my flight to Denver. I noticed on the Departures board that there was an earlier flight to Denver that had been delayed, otherwise it wouldn't have still been there. I did wander over and they already had 10 people on standby, so that didn't fly (ha ha). It's an hour and 15 minute drive then from Denver to FC, so that puts me home around 7 pm my time.

It was a good trip. As these things go, there was a lot of information presented, and I'll need to go back and look at my notes, and look up some of the resources in order to do some of the many things the presenters did at the workshop.

And it was a little odd, but at the same time comfortable and familiar to be back among academics. There was a time that I thought the ideal job was to have a faculty position at a four year college somewhere, but I've realized a couple of years ago that this is not my professional path. I still feel like I'm not entirely sure what I want to be when I grow up, but also that that is OK.

I called the mechanic who was (I thought) working on my new campervan while I was out of town these last 10 days. Turns out he "just started" working on it, and it won't be ready until sometime next week. "Call on Wednesday" he said. I've decided I've got nothing to gain by being nasty about it to him, so I'm going to call him Monday, and be sweet as sugar while I tell him how very much I'd like to be able to go down there that Wednesday and take it home.

Finally, if I if all goes well, I'll roll into town and enjoy dinner with, and made by, B.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

So far, so good

My stay here in Ithaca is winding down. This is a picture of a lupine that I took a week (!) ago.

Since the workshop started on Sunday, I haven't done any hiking in the woods, but I've walked the hills around town before dinner. The workshop has us in front of a computer most of the day, and tomorrow's the last day. I do feel like I've learned things that will be helpful at work, so that's good.

However, I am READY to go home. It's been a really good trip, but I miss my kid, I miss my dog, I miss my garden and I miss my house. I talked to B today and he said he rode past my house recently and it hadn't burned down - always good to hear. I miss him, too.

And, my new campervan is supposed to be ready by Friday!! I'm working out the details of getting down to Boulder to pick it up, but should have it for the weekend. Mr W and I might have to take an overnight just to suss out (I love that expression) things that it needs.

In a way, I feel like my summer hasn't really started yet. Lots of stuff to do, and I'm looking forward to taking several small trips over the next couple of months. This weekend is the Estes Park Wool Market, and Mr W and I are going to a Rockies game Sunday. Yup, life is good.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Ithaca and Beyond

It's been a good couple of days. I had dinner tonight from the famous Moosewood Restaurant. The picture above is the gift shop - where they sold t-shirts and cookbooks. It was really good food, a burrito with spicy sweet potato filling and fruit salsa - yum!
And I was jazzed to be able to visit my friend Jordan's place. The photo above shows part of her wood pile and her mobile chicken coop. She had a mission for us: find the corners of her 25 acre property, spray paint the corner survey posts, and post "Private Property" signs at those spots as well. We did a fair bit of bush wacking, but it was a lot of fun to poke around in the woods for a couple of hours. The Black Flies weren't as bad as they could have been, so that was good.
The salamanders were out and about. The black arrows show three little red efts, which are juvenile Eastern Newts. It's so dry in Colorado; I don't know if I've seen salamanders there.

And here's me with a foot on one of the corner survey markers. There are a LOT of rocks in the soil in this part of the world.

I was at the first day of the workshop today. They're using a programming language called R, that I guess is like anything else that's new. I'm spending a lot of time slogging through the tutorial. It's interesting, but feels like the "invest now benefit later" sort of thing that it is.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Little Things

I spent most of the day listening to talks at the conference, which were by and large really interesting. I went out on foot to get some dinner, and saw these two pieces in a shop. Aren't they great? I'm not much (at all) into miniatures, but the proportions on these are so perfect. If it's hard to tell how big these little things are, the tallest one is probably 2 inches tall.

Now, I must post this and get to work on some stuff for the workshop that is the second part of my trip.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Ithaca - Day 2

Let me just say I was struck, all day, by the difference that lots of precipitation makes. I didn't have to check in for the conference until this evening, so I spent part of the day exploring. Here's a typical shot of the woods - so green!
I visited Sapsucker Woods, which is hallowed ground if you've ever been a bird watcher. I've been one off and on, and since I was there mid-morning and not during migration, there wasn't all that much out and about. That's OK, it was a nice and very peaceful walk.
Here's a Jack-in-the-Pulpit. There were two kinds there, one that was all green and then these with the red stripes. Most of the other spring ephemerals were done. I saw lots of Trillium leaves, and spent flowers, but no good blooms.
I went to Treman State Park as well, and here's a view of one of the several sets of stairs I walked on my little hike. Quite a bit of elevation gain in a short space, and I was glad I had the advantage of coming from CO.
And finally, this little fellow was resting in one of the rock walls at the top of a hill. It was a good day.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

First Day in Ithaca

I'm in Ithaca, NY for several days to attend a conference, and squeeze in a visit to my old friend Jordan. That didn't come out right - we've been friends since we were about 15, how about that?

In a funny coincidence, my new friend B went to college here, and was reminiscing about how the weather if often SO GRAY. But it was amazingly beautiful today as I drove from Syracuse to Ithaca. I'm going to Sapsucker Woods tomorrow morning before the conference starts. It's part of the famous (to people who birdwatch, anyway) Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology.

I also walked around downtown tonight, and came across this storefront. It was closed so I don't know what kind of store it is, but aren't those bottles fun?