Tuesday, May 31, 2011


This is just something interesting that I've seen and wanted to share. The blog for the website Knitty has a section for yarn spinners (as opposed to bike Spinners...). A contributor named Jillian has been spinning different types of wool recommended by a book about rare breeds of sheep.

I don't have a desire to spin wool into yarn, but her weekly forays into the different types of wool out there has been very interesting to me. Above is something called Romeldale. Here's a link to her post from today, from which you can see the previous weeks' trials. 

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Blubarb and More Yardwork - Updated! Now with more Mulch

A blog that I follow regularly, A Home Grown Journal, recently had a recipe for a Rhubarb Crisp that was just the thing I was looking for. I happened to succumb to an impulse purchase of blueberries the other day, so I used half rhubarb from the plant that grows outside my back door, and half blueberries. Thus Blubarb. My rhubarb wasn't the screaming red that I've seen in the store, but the Crisp tastes really good. I brought it to a party tonight, and brought one piece home to eat. I might make another, as there's plenty of rhubarb yet.

Here's the finished product. I might fool around a bit with the topping. I like more topping, but there's already a stick of butter in there as it is, so maybe I could tweak something. It was yummy. Thanks, Mama Pea!

This is certainly the Spring of yardwork around here. Here's today's project. I'm certain it's because it has been a wet and cool spring, and the weather's been conducive to working outside without wilting (that's without ME wilting, not the plants). It's a good thing, too, because my yard looked bad, and I like how it's shaping up.

Here's the before. See all the plants along the sidewalk? They're some kind of violet, and have been slowly taking over this bed. So much so that when I went to dig them out, I found their roots had permeated the cedar edging there, so I had to remove a stretch of it and replace it. I thought all of the nice Penstemmon had died in the dry winter, but found a few hangers on that I moved around so they were distributed nicely. I also divided one of the ornamental grasses, which you can't see in the picture, as well as trimmed the larger ornamental grass that is quite happy where it is.

I then scraped most of the pea gravel out, and replaced it with mulch. Let me just say this so the world knows: I hate pea gravel. Weed city. I did dump and spread it on the alley side of the garden alongside my house, and am sure it's packed with weed seeds. But I had the bright idea to cover it with black plastic for a few weeks so it kills the weeds. Hopefully that will work.

And here's where I stopped today. I need to buy a couple more plants for this area, and just a wee bit more edging, then mulch some more. Mulch, mulch, mulch. I still have quite a bit to go, and it looks like I've got enough to do all the areas that need it. It's funny, the "after" picture doesn't look all that different, but in person, it's a big improvement! It's raining (again!) and hopefully will clear so I can finish this tomorrow.

Update - 5-29-11
OK, here it is. I forgot to buy another roll of edging, so there's a 2' gap down at the other end, but this job is pretty much donesville. I'm very happy with how it turned out. I know there will be stray weeds, but now I can keep on top of it a lot easier. I know, there's one stray violet at the edge of the sidewalk. I thought the better of pulling it, as doing that pulled up the edging in other places. I'm going to spray this one.

Now I need to paint the porch, paint the fence a nice bright white, and I think I'm done for a while. It's supposed to finally start getting warmer, and I'm already happy I got this done before that happens.

I shake my head when I think about how this got to look so ratty. I think it's related to the idea that, according to The Plan, I wasn't supposed to still be in this house this long. I was supposed to be married to some great guy and we'd be well into our new life together by now (six years from when my x and I split). I know that great guy thing is going to happen one of these days, but now at least my house doesn't look like I'm waiting anymore, and I like that.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

More House Doings to Do

The garden is doing well, under Sally's careful supervision. I've since put the green fencing around most of the raised beds to keep her from snacking.

Memorial Day Weekend is coming up, and there's a good chance that the weather will be nice enough to do more work around the yard. I'm not sure what switched, but I feel the urge to get a few more things done before I can let myself go camping this summer. The list isn't long, but there are a few things yet that I need to do to make the place look presentable.

One thing that's always bugged me about the front of my house is the pea gravel that the previous owners put down around some pieces of flagstone to create a path that leads to the little porch and front door. If Blogger lets me upload a second picture here, I'll show it. OK, no luck yet. What I dislike about it is the extent to which the weeds just proliferate there. It looks terrible, and I end up spraying the weeds, which I don't want to do. So one of my projects for the weekend is to rake the gravel up, wash it off a bit (hopefully getting any hitchhiking weed seeds off) and putting it on the alley side of the 4 x 4 timbers I lined the alley garden with.

There we go, I was able to upload the photo. You can see the weeds around the flagstone pieces above. There's not all that much gravel there, but I'll replace it with mulch, and then pull out some of the volunteer plants that have proliferated in that semi-circular area where the dead ornamental grass is. Then I'll plant a few more plants (thinking about a bunch of Blue Flax, which grows wild around here). I lost my awesome Penstemmons over the dry winter, which made their own little hybrid zone that was fun to watch each year.

I'm rambling, sorry. I need to also paint that little porch thing, which is down to the bare wood on the horizontal part. I think I'll paint it with something that shows that it's wood (as opposed to outright paint), and then am planning to paint the picket fence white at some point in the near future. Then, I'm good to get out and do some camping.

I've got a couple of social things to do as well, which is good. I got invited to a party by a woman in my Spin class, who happens to live just a couple of blocks away from me. They are big into the local music scene, so they'll have actual live entertainment by people I've heard of (coooool). Then I'm going to get together with my friend J in Denver, who has just had her oldest graduate from high school and is busy busy and we need to catch up.

I sent P, the person I met while hiking, an email saying that I was done. I told him it was the distance (he lives an hour away), which it was, but I'm afraid I didn't feel a click with him either. At least initially, we'd only be able to get together every other weekend - twice a month - and it made me realize I need to look closer to home. Who knows what will happen, but it feels more right to try to find someone I can have lunch with during the week, and see on the weeknights I have free. So, the search continues, and it will happen when it happens. With the job stuff occupying my mind, it doesn't seem so urgent.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Nice Job

I'm just back from the colonoscopy. The prep was a bit difficult this time - took a long time to kick in, and that's all I'll say about that. Dear friend D got me there and back, and I'm so grateful. I got the all clear from the doc: "normal colon, no polyps, nice job". That last part makes me giggle a bit. There were so many people involved in this process, no wonder health care costs are so expensive. I probably talked to 12 people today. But they all were nice and professional, and I wondered about if I would have made a good anesthesiologist. It sounded like she had a cool job.

I'm relieved that the results were normal, and I don't have to do this again for five years, which is a good thing. The rest of my day entails a nap, some knitting and the usual dog park.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Saturday River Clean up

We have a great Natural Resources Department in my city. The county is no slouch either, and there are regular nature-y events scheduled with each. Yesterday, there was a trash pick up scheduled along a section of the Poudre River.

Mr W was less than enthused, but we rode our bikes the few blocks down to the park, got our trash bags and walked toward the river. I settled in to pick up the pieces of a broken bottle, while Mr W started climbing on the branches of a willow tree. All of the sudden he shouts, "There's a coyote!" Sure enough, I saw just the tail of something, tearing toward a field. Coooooool, we agreed. And he knew what it was (not dog, fox or wolf).

A bit later, I was picking up some old clothes (why people leave clothing by the river and don't come back for it, I don't know) and there was a little garter snake curled up inside. Mr W wanted (with his gloves on) to hold it, which I thought was great, so we spent a few minutes looking at it, going over why it had characteristics of a non-poisonous snake and then let it go. It was just the right size to not get creeped out by.

For a kid whose stated preference is to stay inside and play video games, this was a nice reminder that he does like doing the nature thing. I like that the park is just a few blocks from here, and will try to remember to get down there more regularly this summer.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Green and an F.O.

We've been getting rain for the last couple of days, so everything is very green. Here's the intrepid rhubarb plant that grows just outside my back door. I thought I had gotten all the flowering stalks cut off, but this one peeped out. Looks like this will be the "do something with rhubarb" weekend.

My best laid plans for raspberry containment have already been overcome, as you can see they are escaping out to the left. I'll need to reassess and try something else for the upper part as well. But it's nice to think we'll have fresh razzleberries. I wonder if any will make it inside.

This is why I love perennials. The Delphinium (on the left) started greening up weeks ago, and it's the big, bold kind with spikes of dark blue flowers. Looks like it's time to thin the Iris (again!), and the rose in the back looks respectable after I finally cut the dead canes off last weekend.

Here's my boughten lettuce starts, planted around the beginning of April. I believe I'll have a salad tonight. I sewed the snap peas heavily, and there are a couple of the wimpy broccoli seedlings I started inside. The look better every day.

And last but not least, here's my Cadence! A Finished Object (F.O.) that is done but not blocked. the lace pattern at the top will lay flat and pop a lot more when I've blocked it, they tell me. I wish I had made it just a little longer, but I will see if I can get another inch out of it when I block it, and I could pick up stitches and add a couple more inches of ribbing at the bottom because I've got plenty of yarn. This was done in Cascade Ecowool Plus, and two of their massive (400+ yard) skeins were more than enough for this sweater, made in a large (38? maybe a 40 inch bust), and I have about half a skein left, so this took about 600 yards. A real bargain.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

The Garden Season Gets Up To Speed

When we get rain here in CO, it's usually met with exclamations of "We need it!" and no one gets too bent out of shape. If it's actually raining, you'll see many people without an umbrella or a raincoat because there's usually a good chance that it won't rain. But we've had a couple of rainy days, and are forecasted to have a couple more for the rest of the week.

So you can appreciate my sense of satisfaction that I got vegetable plants and seeds in yesterday. What? No pictures? I know, I'll get out there this morning and get some. Our frost date is May 15th, so things should be fine. Out of the things I started by seed, I only planted a half-dozen broccoli starts. I don't know what happened, but things never thrived. Potting soil, peat pots, fluorescent light, heat mat, then real sun, it still wasn't enough. But they didn't damp off, and they are technically still alive, so maybe it's a nutrient thing. Anyone want to weigh in?

In other news, I've scheduled my once-every-five-years colonoscopy for next Tuesday. As the sibling of a person who had colon cancer, this will be a regular (well, every five years) thing. Friend D is able to get me home, and I'm so appreciative. It will be good to know. I think about how my sister had a tumor growing in her colon for years, and it went undetected because she was 'too young' to get colon cancer. Get your screenings, people.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Thank you very mulch

Today was a long, but good, work day. I installed edging, which has needed to be done for a while now. I also ordered six yards of mulch, and got about half of it put down. It is amazing how much better things look. I'd been looking for the right edging to put along the sidewalk and ended up using cedar shingles/tiles (they probably have a better name...). Below on the left are two landscape timbers I tried last weekend. The sidewalk has bumps on the sides of it, so I couldn't snug the timber against the sidewalk and it looked bad.

On the right are 4 x 4 timbers that Mr W and I placed a couple of weeks ago. These make a right turn and head down the alley. It was an easy project, as I just scraped the soil a bit, placed the timber, and we pounded in 1' pieces of rebar to hold it in place.

Left side edging done. As these things go, it wasn't as challenging as I thought it would be. We had two days of rain (which happens a handful of times a year), and the soil was easy to work.

I'm a little embarrassed to show the degree to which the weeds had gotten away from me here.

I pulled some of the weeds, and cut the trench.

Lots of newspaper for weed control.

Yeah, there's no comparison, is there?

I then put mulch over the existing mulch on the tree lawn, which was a big improvement. Hopefully I put down enough to discourage weeds. I also trimmed the suckers on the two Serviceberry trees. Time well spent. I hate it when it feels to me like I'm not keeping up with this part of owning a home and being part of a neighborhood. Voila!!

As I worked, Mr W's math teacher happened to walk by. I didn't know she lived in the neighborhood, and I introduced myself and we chatted for a bit. Remember when you thought the teachers ceased to exist outside of school? 

In other news, I met one of my new neighbors! The husband of a youngish couple. I didn't see any evidence of kids. For some reason, they haven't taken down the For Sale sign yet.  But their stuff is inside. Odd.

Friday, May 13, 2011

As heard on This American Life

Ira Glass just said the unemployment rate for people with PhD's is 2%. That made my evening!!

I'm laying low tonight, and going to get to bed early so I can have a really productive day tomorrow. I'm installing edging in my yard, and getting 6 cubic yards of mulch delivered that will make the yard and garden beds look nice. I'm surrendering more of my yard to mulch, so will lay down wet newspaper before I put the mulch down.

I'm going to plant some plants I've bought, too, and I've got about 4" left of the second sleeve of my Cadence sweater. That will get done this weekend.

But now, I'm going to get off the computer so I can read for a while.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Party's Over

The pity party, that is.

Maybe it's being able to get the thoughts written down here, or maybe it's actively trying to see what other people are going through. Either way, I'm good. I've got my perspective back, and although I haven't 'let it go' all the way (still have a pinkie-hold on it - maybe two fingers) I'm closer to doing so.

I applied for another job today, and that helps as well. I find that (OK, please excuse the obviousness of what I'm going to say) if I keep busy, especially doing things that make me happy, that goes a long way in maintaining the right attitude.

K? K.

Double Whammy

I admit, I'm having a tough time of it lately. I'll freely acknowledge upfront that the important stuff in my life is in place. I have my health, my kid is also healthy, I'm able to make the mortgage payments on my home, and I have a job for the next 5 1/2 months.

I find, though, that the job search and the partner search have worked to compound my anxiety about both, and I'm working to let that go. I've thought about what that means, "letting it go" and how I am not good at it. At all. In one way, letting go means to just drop it, to leave it behind, and be done with it. In another way, letting it go means that it will "go", somewhere, on its own, so letting it go connotes giving up control, although you are still interested in the outcome. If you've read this blog at all, you can probably surmise that I have trouble with both meanings. It's hard for me to get to that place where I feel like I've done enough and can set the thing on autopilot and get on with life.

I listened to this yesterday, it's a podcast of the OnBeing radio program, and the host interviewed Sylvia Boorstein, who is both Jewish and a Buddhist scholar and teacher. It helped. It's like I know what I need to do, I need to "just" stop worrying. I'm having trouble finding a path to get there. I'm pretty sure I will find it, but this is a difficult thing.

Friday, May 6, 2011

MoDa 2011

For a long time, I have viewed Mother's Day with mixed emotions. My own mom, Judy, died in 1993, so after a couple years of very sad Mother's Days, the day has been one where I didn't have much to do. Fast forward to when I became a mom, and up until about a year ago, Mr W's cluelessness has made nothing happen on the day.

I guess that's an advantage of a two-parent household. The other parent can prod the child to get something or make a card, whereas I'm not going to press my kid into paying homage. Well, not too much. He's finally big enough that I can extract some yard work out of him "as your gift to me for Mother's Day" and he's game.

For some reason, this year feels a little different. I feel that I can celebrate my mom without getting too sad, and also celebrate being a mom. On Facebook, a bunch of friends have changed their profile picture to a picture of their moms, and I've followed suit. I posted this shot of her, taken when I was 2, which would make her about 29. She looks awesomely fabulous.

I'm not sure where the feeling of different comes from. I've been around and around with myself for the last few months, worrying about the job search, and worrying about the partner search, and I'm trying hard to focus on the moment and all of the things are right. Plus all of the things that aren't wrong, if that makes any sense. Trying to let go of the things I don't have much control over. After living on my own for six years now, it's not in my nature to do that. It's so hard, but yet I feel like if I don't find a balance between feeling like I'm doing my part, and letting things take their course, I'm going to be very stressed out.

So maybe the positive feelings on this MoDa 2011 are from me getting a little more comfortable with my place in the world right now. That sounds hokey to me, too. Well, nevertheless, may you and yours celebrate Mother's Day if that's your thing. Looks like it's going to be a nice weekend here.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Knock Knock

I live in a safe neighborhood. I know my neighbors by name, and I feel safe here. Having a big dog who barks when people come to the door helps too. I've thought about adding more/better locks to my doors, but haven't done it yet.

I was in bed last night and had turned the light off around 10:45. I should mention that my bedroom is at the very front of the house, perhaps 10 feet from the sidewalk, and very close to the front door. I frequently hear soft voices of people walking by in the summer, and it's not a big deal.

At 11:03 last night, someone knocked on my door. Not hard, but knocked, and I could hear a male voice talking. I might not have heard it if my room was in the back of the house. The dog of course starts barking (good girl!) and I have this visceral reaction, where my heart starts pounding in my chest as I think about what I'm going to do if they force their way into my home. They also have flashlights, or headlamps, and I can see the light pass by my window several times. They knock a second time, the dog barks, and my heart starts pounding again. I work up the nerve to peek out the side window, not the front, and can see the light from the flashlight.

I wait, never even considering answering the door, and they go away after what seems like 10 minutes or so. Could it have been that long? I don't remember looking at the clock again. I laid back down and had a restless night's sleep.

What happened? I'm guessing it was a case of mistaken house identity, as there are several parallel streets in this area, all with old houses, and maybe they got the address mixed up. This put quite a scare in me, though, and I felt really vulnerable. Mr W was here too. But they didn't really want to get in, otherwise they could have. I've got a big pane of glass on the porch door, and a big old window on the porch that could both be broken if someone wanted in badly enough.

Hmmm. Maybe I'll go door shopping this weekend. I'm very happy with how the dog did her job, though. Good dog, Sally!

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Another this and that

The work to do at work is piling up. It struck me as sort of an odd juxtaposition that people are expected to work harder after getting notice that they are losing their jobs. I'm doing it, I will do it, and I was pondering what my motivation was. One would think there'd be a motivation to coast. But I feel like I am a professional, I feel like I owe it to my boss, I feel like if I can do this last push, that I can look back and know that I did my best in that job.

So, I've got four manuscripts to write in six months, along with data analysis for two, and some lab work... It is a busy time. Life in Cubeville is not always conducive to the flow of writing, so I'm going to see if I can work from home some when it's time to do a lot of that. Depends on the day, but the sounds and smells can be a distraction.

It's almost time to plant vegetables. Almost. I think I'll set out my seedling tray because it's supposed to be nice today. They really limped along this year. Didn't die, which I take as progress over last year, but failed to thrive for the amount of care I thought I gave them. I've seen several blog posts about people planting things in zip lock bags, maybe I'll try that next year. Thankfully, I can punt and get what I need at the garden store, but still would like to see if I could get my determinate tomatoes to grow. They are pathetic little things still.

I took the van in yesterday for several smallish repairs. I like that I have the kind of relationship with them that when the weakening back hatch pistons made it so the hatch bumped the mechanic on the head, they replaced them. I happily paid. Not sure we've worked out the hot engine thing, but we'll see. They fixed a couple of leaks, and I'm happy to report that my transmission fluid is as clean as you'll find anywhere now. The mechanic also showed me how the second battery works. A previous owner put a second battery in, plus a couple of cigarette lighter outlets, and although I could see the wiring, I couldn't tell what was hooked up to the second battery. Turns out it's always on, directly hooked up to the main battery, which is charged by the alternator. He suggested, and I agree, that they could put a switch in that can cut the power between the batteries, so that I could use the power of the second battery only, and not worry about having enough power to start the van at the end of the trip.

So, I'm thinking about where we'll go this summer, and that's fun. I thought maybe the Wildflower Festival in Crested Butte, or maybe the Black Hills before school is out. Perhaps a trip out to see my brother, and I have a pipe dream of driving this thing to the Pacific Ocean, but it will likely remain a dream.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Shopping Bag Experiment

I got a couple of fabric shopping bags from a friend the other day. Shortly after, I was at the garden center, looking at potato grow bags, for which the garden place wanted $15 apiece. I didn't buy any, and then yesterday, had the idea of using these, because they are the same material. I tried a black plastic grow bag for potatoes last year, but they got too wet and rotted. 

I put a bit of soil in the bottom, after I took out the flat plastic piece, and put the seed potatoes on top. The one on the far right is itself an experiment, being one sprouted, organic Yukon Gold potato from Whole Foods that got away from me. I covered them, and will water them with the soaker hose, which needs to be repaired before I can use it.

In other news, I had coffee and lunch with P yesterday. I admit I don't feel a spark yet, but he's nice, and we have a fair bit in common.

Like visiting an old friend

Sally and I went for a nice hike this afternoon. The weather's been kind of cool, and as a result my desire for yard work has been ho-hum. I did get one thing done, which I'm going to put in another short post, plus odds and ends like fixing the hinge on the gate in the yard that's been falling apart for the last (*cough*) couple of years.

This lovely little plant is P. bellii. I studied it in school, so I feel like it's an old friend in a way. It's pretty specific in terms of its habitat, loving shaley soil that seems inhospitable to many plants, so it's kind of rare. There's a population of it where we hiked, and it's just coming into flower. I should have put something in for scale, but the whole thing is about 5" across.

I've noticed a difference hiking this year, since I started doing Spin classes last fall. I have more energy when I hike; it's easier. That's a good feeling. The dog loves to hike, and it's good to get her out as well.