Thursday, September 30, 2010

What are the chances?

I work in a lab, and have a contract position that (so they tell me) goes until the end of July next year. It was a bit tentative back in April and May when they didn’t know quite how the budget was going to go. People are breathing easier, but said the same thing will happen next year. My sense is that we will all sink or swim together. Cutting us contractors won’t solve their money problems. I think.

I like what I do and am grateful to have a job in these difficult economic times. There aren’t many drawbacks. One big one, though, is that there’s nowhere to move in terms of responsibility. In my position, I won’t supervise anyone, I likely won’t move up a pay grade, and I’ll also likely always be a contractor instead of a “real” employee.

There are a couple of things that my education and experience would qualify me to do. As anyone who has read my ramblings for a while knows, I really would like to secure a full time teaching position at a community college. I’d also like to work with plants again (my degree is in Botany), and work doing the population genetics stuff with native plants like I did in school.

What are the chances that openings for both of these jobs would be announced this week? Pretty slim, I would guess, but in the last couple of days, the Denver Botanic Garden has announced a position that would involve research and conservation. Also, another campus (about 45 minutes – 1 hour away) of the community college I taught at last school year is hiring a full time General Biology instructor.

Wow. I don’t want to commute, and I don’t want to move, but by golly, I want to know if I’d qualify enough for these positions to at least get an interview. So I’ll apply and we’ll see what happens.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010


I don't really believe in horoscopes, but I do like to visit Rob Brezney's site every once in a while and read what he's got to say. I don't know, I guess it gives me a little food for thought. Sometimes there's nothing relevant in them, but this week's was dead on. Here it is verbatim:

Let's say I was the director of a grade school play that included outdoor scenes, and you were a student trying out for a part. My inclination would be to offer you the role of the big oak tree, which would be on stage for much of the show but have no spoken lines to deliver. Would you accept my invitation with enthusiasm, and play the part with panache? I realize that on the surface, it may not seem like your performance would be of central importance. But as director I'd hope to be able to draw out of you a vibrant commitment to being steady and rooted. I'd rely on you to provide the strong, reassuring background that would encourage the actors in the foreground to express themselves freely.

Steady and rooted, that's me. Sometimes it's hard to know when to make some noise.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Crisp crisp crisp

Mr. W and Sally and I went camping last night. We went up to Jack's Gulch again, where I've been two times already this summer. As far as camping spots go, it's now one of my favorites, although many of the trees in the picture below have been marked with pink paint, which I think means they are targeted for removal because of the beetle epidemic. Too bad, it's a really nice spot and it will look a lot different come spring.

You may have heard about several wildfires we've had lately in Colorado. As we drove up the Poudre Canyon, we saw the Smokey the Bear sign that indicates fire danger and it said "extreme". Most of the vegetation on the ground was crisp. They still allowed fires in the fire rings, and Mr W and I gathered and burned buckets of pine needles - they went up really fast. He also enjoyed dousing the fire when it was time to go to bed.

The weather is still kind of warm here for fall, but the evenings are crisp. It felt good to sit around a fire and look up at the stars while wearing a jacket.

Mr W pulled out his old Brio wooden train stuff, as he lost access to his DS for not doing his homework. He spent several hours of our camping time up in the second bunk building stuff. He hadn't played with it for a couple of years, since we sold off all his Thomas the Tank Engine stuff and put the Brio in the basement.

The last crisp I experienced was a truly phenomenal Jonagold apple we bought from Whole Foods. Possibly the best apple I've ever had. My mouth is watering as I write this, and I'm glad we bought 6 of them! In more apple-related goodness, my neighbor, the one who is doing a fix and flip on the house next door, picked bags and bags of apples from their tree and gave me a bag. Isn't that nice? I want to make some apple crisp with them, but they are also just good to eat as is.

Friday, September 24, 2010

On a lighter note

I think it's finally time to get a bunch of ripe tomatoes from the garden. It looked that way before I went to work yesterday, but Mr W and I didn't come home for good until about 7:15, and it was dusk by then. So I'll head out this morning before work with my scissors and basket and see how many there are to be had.

It's been a long time coming! Tomatoes around town largely got wiped out last year in a series of hail storms, and this year have been slow to ripen. We yearn for a good tomato! I felt so optimistic about my chances of canning some of my tomatoes that I bought more canning jars yesterday.

I put two of my tomatoes in cages and one around a metal spiral this year, and will not do any of that again. The spiral is worthless, although visually interesting, and the cages don't really do the job either. I think I will do larger tubes of some kind of large-holed mesh that are sturdier. I look forward to that time after Christmas when people start feeling the urge to start planning their gardens again.

And if I get the urge to grow this many tomato plants again, will someone remind me please how much room things take up when they get mature? Things are very crowded out there!

In the meantime, I've got house stuff to do. My gutters need to be cleaned out before it gets cold, and I have vowed to myself that I will finish painting the trim on the house, as well as paint the front porch this fall yet.

Maybe it will happen Sunday, as Mr W and I are going to leave Saturday morning to take the campervan out for the night. If I'm going to be paying for the van I need to use it, not let it sit in the driveway. It's relatively easy to throw our stuff in and go for a night, and that's exactly what I need it to be.

Thursday, September 23, 2010


I think I've mentioned before that I'm a podcast junkie. My lab is kind of noisy with the whirs and whooshes of the various pieces of equipment, so it's good to have headphones. Lately, I've been listening to The Dr. Joy Browne show, where Dr. Joy, a psychologist, helps people who call in with all sorts of issues. I don't know what the appeal is, but it's fun to listen to.

Anyway, the other day, there was a caller whose mother had died a few months earlier, and she was also going through a divorce. Her question was how to get her siblings (she was the baby) to spend more time with her and help her through her situation.

This is where the issue of self-parenting came in. At some point, maybe when your parents are still alive, maybe when they aren't, everyone has to learn to have a voice that says things like, "yes, you should do this", "that's not good for you", "get out and have some fun", etc. People who as adults rely on others to tell them these things are in for a struggle.

My mom died 17 years ago today. I was driving to work the other day, calculated the number of years since 1993, and said out loud "Wow, 17 years. Wow, 17 years!" Twice, just like that. With this bit on self-parenting in my mind still, I mulled over my situation. Not to belabor the point, but looking back, mom's passing, having my marriage end because the x had "fallen out of love" and then having my sister die as well, has given me ample opportunity to learn how to self-parent, even though I didn't call it that at the time.

I find that I feel better if I don't dwell on these things, and instead choose to look forward. My mom did a fine job raising us, even if she departed too early. She would be proud of what all four kids have made of themselves. It's a testament to she and dad (who is still around, back in OH) that they helped launch four well-adjusted successful adults into the world.

Monday, September 20, 2010

4th grade angst and yarn karma

As the weekend wound down yesterday, and Mr W and I were on our way back home from a nice trip to Denver's science museum, he informed me that he brought home three of the school's minor-infraction incident reports that I had to sign. He deliberately waited until the end of the weekend of course, because he knew he'd lose computer and TV time as punishment.

What were his crimes? Well, first, he called a classmate a dork. Second, he continued to talk in the hallway after being told by his teacher not to five times. Third, and this one gets to the root of why he did indeed lose his screen time for the next week, he not only didn't do his homework, but also went on to recess when he was supposed to stay in and do the homework.

I can forgive the dork comment, that's pretty standard 4th grade stuff. And the talking is not so bad either. The actual problem is that he doesn't want to do all the homework. It's not that he doesn't understand the material, and when he finally stops kvetching he gets through it pretty quickly. To date, he has tried several things to get out of doing his homework. He's "forgotten that he had it", couldn't find it, and, my personal favorite for sheer ballsiness: he erased the note describing the assignment from his planner while I waited for him to show me what he had to do.

Eventually, he'll adjust to the new routine. We've talked before about how his "job" is to do well in school, and that he gets to do the other stuff he likes to do as a result of doing well in school. I don't think he's lazy, he just doesn't see the point of the endless stream or worksheets. I agree, to a point. It bums him out considerably, but I told him that this is training for the next umpteen years of school ahead of him.

The good thing about this kind of punishment, is that it mellows him out. He doesn't get unlimited time for his video games; he's got to earn time by reading, so it's kind of self-regulating that way. Still, he gets squirrelly if he has too much screen time, and maybe this break will help him reset his view of having to do homework.

And yarn karma! I've been working on a pair of socks and underestimated the amount of yarn I'd need. I bought it from the yarn shop up the street about 6 months ago. Usually this would mean that I'd have no hope of getting another ball because they wouldn't have any more, but Mr W and I stopped in on Saturday, and they did have another ball. Too bad these will now be $30 socks, a little rich for my blood, but they'll be nice when they're done.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Bodhisattva in metro

If you've got a few minutes and want to feel good about humanity for a while, this is a charming video. I hadn't heard the term Bodhisattva before I saw it. Good stuff.

Stick with it for the first 2 and half minutes, it'll be worth it.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

From the grave

I don't recommend it. Last night, when I should've had my computer put away and been making coffee in preparation for going to bed, I instead found myself deleting old emails. They sure do pile up.

On a whim, I clicked on "oldest" in my gmail. There I saw mostly junk, but I also saw several emails from my sister. It was the strangest feeling, because all emails are kind of equivalent, you read one, you read another, and unless you look at the date, you don't know where that person is right at the moment you're reading.

It broke my heart. The few I read were from about 4-6 months before she died, and they spoke of the possibility of getting into clinical trials, and she didn't want to leave home to do it, but the doctors had thrown everything at cancer that they had. She shortly after got too sick to travel, and never made it into any trials.

Ugh, this weighs on me. Hindsight is the cliched 20/20, but knowing what I know now, I wish I had taken a couple of weeks off from work and just spent the time with her. No second chances. Or are there? As I finally got ready for bed, sniffling, tired and feeling sorry for myself, I thought of my former MIL, who isn't dying, but is certainly getting old, and a little forgetful, and has been in and out of the hospital lately.

I visited with her a couple of days ago, for the first time in a few months. Life gets busy, and she "doesn't want to be a bother", so it can slip off my radar. I'm going to try (again) to keep up the contact. It seems she's entering a stage where visits and trips out for lunch and shopping will do her good.

Monday, September 13, 2010


I'm still slogging through my Passiflora vest, which I will finish about the time it's OK to wear it with a long sleeved t-shirt underneath it. That's OK, I'm just not a fast knitter. This fact doesn't keep me from sometimes buying a sweater's worth of yarn with the high hopes of turning it into a nice sweater. I've got 10 balls of Pastaza that I bought last year and would like to turn into a sweater this year. I've posted some of the contenders here. The links are to the pattern info in Ravelry. Above is Ravenscar.

This is Acer, which I still really like. Pretty and practical.

This is called the Green Button Cardigan.

This is the Shalom cardigan.

And, finally, the Springfling cardigan. I like the open feel of this one.

At this point, this is a wish list. I need to finish that darn vest (which I think I will be happy with), and a pair of socks, and then I can think about which of these nice sweaters I'd like to knit.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Feeling a little reflective

Last week I had a dream where I was getting ready to graduate (from something). I walked from the holding area towards where the ceremony was going to be and saw my dad and his SO (significant other - I'm not a fan of "girlfriend" for senior citizens), signing in for something. When I got there, it was my mom and dad, and I was overcome by seeing them there together. My mom died in 1993, btw. I was crying with joy in the dream and that was enough to wake me up.

This kind of thing makes me think about where I've been, and where I'm going, and usually indicates that things have calmed down a bit and I'm wondering if I should be "doing something" (here's my pendulum analogy post). Is it time to take up guitar lessons? Learn Portuguese? Finish painting the trim on my house? Yes on that last one.

Anyway, this reflection stuff made me remember that at the end of the month, I will have been in my house for 5 years. This may not sound like a long time, but it's the longest I've lived anywhere since moving out of my parents house in 1984. What does it mean? I don't know. The first couple of years after the divorce were rather tumultuous and it seemed to take me a while to learn how to be single again. And a part time single parent.

Shortly before I ended the long distance relationship I was in for a couple of years, I joked with my friend D that the relationship was beneficial because it taught me to be on my own. She pointed out how absolutely ridiculous that is, and I think that was the thing that gave me the final push to end things.

So at the moment, I'm pleased with being in my 105 year old bungalow, in a cool old part of town. Pleased as heck with B and am excited and optimistic to see where that goes. Thankful for the healthy kid, sweet dog, good job, and good health. The usual stuff that gets checked off for these things.

I came across this book "The Four Agreements" by Ruiz the other day. I haven't read the book itself, but here are its four ideas:

1. Do your best.
2. Don't take anything personally.
3. Don't make assumptions.
4. Be impeccable with your word.

I've been working on #'s 2 and 3 of late, and it does get me out of overreacting to things.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Weekend Recap Labor Day 2010

I had a great time backpacking with B and Sally this weekend. I was anxious about being able to keep up, but B cut me a whole lotta slack, and I did just fine. He had all his stuff packed when he picked me up, so he carried a much heavier pack (i.e. all the food and the tent as well). Sally carried her own food in a doggie pack, and did great. We hiked about 1.5 miles in, set up camp and then went on a big hike on Saturday. A big hike. We were up around 11,000' and it was spectacular. Sadly, I did not bring my camera in an attempt to cut weight, but I think it would be worth it.

Sally's had to rest up a bit after such an adventure!

I spent Labor Day at home with Mr W, so his dad could go fishing. I had wanted to get some trim painting done on the house, but it was pretty breezy all day, so I cooked instead. I used up all the zucchini I had, and made some zucchini bread and zucchini lasagna. Cooking always seems to take more time than I think it will, but it was fun and both things taste good.

Above is a photo of my raised beds yesterday, and you can see why I've been motivated to use up my zucchini. It's the dominant thing in the beds, and has done very well. My grape tomatoes are fading for some reason, but put out a lot of good fruit. I'm still having ripening issues with the other two tomatoes I planted, and have only gotten a handful from each.

Hanging in front of the bed on the left is the one cantaloupe I think might make it this year. It's got brown netting on it already, and it's a race between me and the squirrels at this point to see who gets it first. I'm tickled to get this far with melons and will definitely plant some next year.

One of the nurseries in town has a 50% off sale on all their plants on Labor Day, so I picked up a couple of things yesterday. Above is a mum, which I'm always intending to get (like I'm always intending to plant lots of tulips and never seem to), but until yesterday had not. I was surprised how much mums remind me of my sister, who always had a few around.

Finally, I bought an apple tree! Yup, this is a Fireside apple. I think I'm going to plant the tree pretty much where it is in the picture and fill this whole area with mulch next spring. There's a big Golden Delicious tree next door which should act as the pollen source. It's having a bumper year, and I need to talk to the owner of the house (which is for sale) and make sure it's OK for me to harvest some. It's funny how I've seen several people stop and test the apples, assuming since the house is vacant that it's OK to help themselves. Sort of like the tree is community property.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Garden Report September 2

I have failed miserably in regularly posting pictures of my garden, and since it's dark at the moment, this task will wait another day. Those raised beds I constructed early on have done everything I've wanted them to do and I'm very happy with them. I thought I'd make some notes here about how things are and what to remember for next year.

I didn't water quite enough. I had the timer on to water every other day for 15 minutes through soaker hoses. While everything looks fine, the soil is now like concrete, and my tomatoes I think are smaller for it. I doubled the time a couple of weeks ago and we'll see if that makes a difference. Sometimes we get a light frost in September, I'd bet we don't this year. But you never know.

It was a so-so year for tomatoes. I've gotten lots of grape tomatoes, which I've eaten mostly while I've picked them, but have cooked a little with them as well. My fancy heirloom tomato has been all talk and no action, with two so-so tomatoes and now lots of green ones still. Unless there is a big convergence of ripening, I'll have to mark this season's tomatoes with a C-.

Zucchini takes up a lot of room. I'm OK with it spilling over the sides of the raised bed, but it crowded out the herbs I planted, as well as the peppers. It's done very well, though, and I'll plant it again. I won't plant the little round light green ones again, though. They're cute, but I didn't do much with them.

This underscores a problem I have. No A/C, and thus my oven rarely gets turned on in the summer. I need to adapt more recipes to my toaster oven, which touts itself as a convection oven as well.

Plant more lettuce. I bought lettuce starts in the spring, at $2 a plant, and thought I was being ripped off. Then I had lots of salads in a short amount of time, and thought it was money well spent. I will plant 6 plants next year instead of 3.

Plant bigger carrots. I planted these little petite ones that aren't worth the real estate. They don't taste very good either. My peas limped along and I'll start those sooner. I planted some the other day and maybe I'll get some fall peas, although a squirrel nipped off one plant entirely.

I'm happy I splurged and bought a tumble composter. It's actually doing its thing relatively quickly, and I'd like to make a bunch of compost to add to the raised beds and the other garden next year.

Plant more melons. I have one intrepid cantaloupe that started late and may or may not ripen by the first frost. I love cantaloupe, and so does Mr W, so we'll devote more space to those next year. I had wanted them to climb the trellis I put up, and should probably get a bigger trellis for that. Or, I guess I can just let them run out of the box as well.

More thoughts in the next post. And some pictures, too.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Doing things I haven't done for a while

I've done a fair bit of camping and hiking. When I got divorced, I kind of turned my back on it for a while. Add to this the long distance relationship (be a parent, work, work, travel for the relationship, work, repeat) for a couple of years, and this summer has felt like I'm revisiting old enjoyable, familiar things, as opposed to trying new stuff outright. It's largely due to dating someone for whom this stuff is second nature, and I'm at the same time thrilled to be out doing stuff, and a little trepidacious about being able to keep up.

That fear is largely unfounded, though. I'm OK with the fact that I'm slow on a bike and when hiking. It's not a race.

This weekend? Backpacking.

It's great that our local REI store rents these backpacks. It's a women's model, and the one I tried on in the store felt good (when it was empty!). My mind is busy thinking about what I should bring.
Two items I did go ahead and purchase are a new sleeping pad and one of these chair-makers. My old pad is heavy and good for car camping. My lower back is twingey now and then, and I thought that having some back support when we're done hiking for the day would be a good thing. Many would see the 11 oz. as unnecessary, but I want to increase my chances of having a good time and not worrying about my back.

Sally gets to come, so I'll probably borrow a dog pack from B and see if we can have her carry her own food and blanket. It's only fair.

images from