Wednesday, June 29, 2011


Yup, today's my 46th birthday, and I'm happy to be here. If you are on FB, one's birthday is an all-day ego-massage of people dropping by to  write happy birthday wishes on your wall. It's only 5:45 am here and it's already started. Good fun.

It's mostly a regular day: work, get Mr W from camp, then go to Spin class. We're going out for a drink after class, so that should be fun.

It's been kind of warm this week, but not unusually so. Being Colorado, it's got that high-desert aspect of cooling down nicely at night, so if I close my windows in the morning and open them at night, that seems to work. I got home yesterday, and it was 99 outside, and 77 in my house. Not bad for no A/C. I'd consider a whole house fan, but don't think I'm going to need A/C any time soon. Not every house is like mine, though. A friend has a two-story that even a whole house fan can't keep cool.

I need to take some garden pictures! I will tonight. I have hit the wall in terms of Bindweed (Convolvulus arvensis) in my yard. After mulching the front half of my yard, up where the raised beds are, it's making a big push to grow all over the mulch. For the first month, I pulled 'em, and will continue to pull the ones that pop up amongst my vegetables, but I have started spraying the stuff on the ground, thinking that maybe I can weaken it and knock it back so I can go back to pulling. Bindweed has this big mothership of a rootstock that can send out runners all over one's yard. Impressive, and it's too bad the stuff doesn't have a commercial use.

In other news, I spoke with former long-distance partner CB last night. It was good to catch up, and although there are no relationship prospects for us, I still value his friendship. For some reason, it also felt to me like I needed to speak with him before embarking on this next potential thing with BW. For what. To make sure he wasn't going to pick up and move here, I guess! And not only is he not, he's in a relationship himself that he wants to explore, so it was yet more closure that I seem to have needed at this point in time.

Mr W, Sally and I are hitting the road! We are packing up the van - wait, it is I who will pack up the van - and heading out on July 5th toward the land of 10K lakes. We're going through Nebraska, for two reasons: one, I waited too long and couldn't make a camping reservation in the Black Hills of SD, and, two, I love driving through the Iowa prairie. We're going to do two long days of driving each way, and spend 4 nights at my brother and SIL's place outside of the Twin Cities. Lots to get done before that, but I'm starting to get excited. I've got 40 hours of vacation saved up, and could take the money, but want to do this more. Simple as that.

Monday, June 27, 2011


This weekend went pretty fast! I was supposed to go hiking with a group on Saturday, but decided I should stay home and work on job applications, which I did. I got three of them done, and found a couple more to apply for. One that I did submit an app for is with the National Park Service, in town (I am lucky that so many agencies have a presence here) for a term (so up to four years, kind of like a contract position, except it's with the feds) position as a Writer/Editor. Again, they wanted someone who could take scientific information and make sure non-science stakeholders understood it.  It'd be what I'm making now, and I'd take it in a heartbeat.

The application process for these fed jobs largely consist of submitting a resume and then ranking where I am in terms of experience for about 25 statements that have to do with qualifications for the job (all the answers are the same, ranging from "I don't have any experience in this" to "I am considered an expert in this"). If one can judge by the number of questions answered that say "I've done this as a regular part of a job", I'm well-qualified. The position is open for two weeks, so we'll see what happens. No guarantees that this job isn't already taken by a preferred candidate.

But Sunday Sal and I did go hiking, got a pretty early start, and had a nice six mile hike on a trail called Hewlett Gulch. Above is Sal on the hot part, and then the trail goes back down into the gulch and there are lots of water crossings (which she just loves).

There used to be a couple of homesteads in the area, and near them were these very showy poppies. I'm pretty sure they're not native, but they were quite a nice surprise among the grasses and shrubs.

In other news, last week I reactivated my OKCupid account, under the auspices of copying the profile in case I'd go back on Match again. If you reactivate, the profile is up for at least a week. I wasn't doing much searching, but figured I'd let it ride for a week and then take it down. You know how this is going to go, don't you?

On my witty and charming profile (or the attempt made therein), I mention how writing haiku is one way that I think it'd be clever to communicate. I've had mostly non-responses to this, but occasionally someone sends something that rhymes but isn't a haiku, or just is a few lines of something. But Friday night, I received a real haiku. How fun. We traded a bunch of emails Saturday, and then met for coffee yesterday evening. I like him, and we're planning on getting together again after we're both back from being out of town. He shall be known as BW.

Out of town!! Yes, I'm planning on taking repeating the MN road trip with Mr W and Sally. We'd leave in about a week. Post on that forthcoming. Summer!!

Friday, June 24, 2011

Dog Park Angst

As I was getting out of my car at the dog park yesterday, I noticed a scuffle between some dogs that are regulars there. Two pit bulls, one little stinker of a something-small mix who tries to mount everything in site and regularly incites trouble, and a black Lab mix. Sally and I walked in, and within a few minutes, it had blown up into an actual fight, where one of the Pit Bulls had the Lab mix by the neck and wouldn't let go. It bit the Lab mix's owner, and everyone was quite upset about it. Sal wanted to investigate (funny how dogs are compelled to do that), but I held her back.

But no one yelled, and there weren't any human scuffles. One of the dog park regular regulars, who is a psychologist/counselor by trade went back and forth between the two camps, and by the time I left they seemed to be working it out. One of the Pit's owners had been concerned that her youngish (about a year old) dog was becoming sort of aggressive. It's too bad, because it seemed to me like she was really working with the dog, and he listened to her at the dog park (like when he takes Sally's ball).

This gives me pause about the breed, I'm sorry to say. Those two Pits are nice dogs. I can attest to both of them being kind of clumsy, but friendly (one of them has a name that indicates his lack of coordination at high speeds). However, it was like a switch got flipped, and no one can predict when or how exactly it would happen. And when the switch was flipped, that dog went into some other mode. The owner of the Lab mix had to hit the Pit repeatedly over the head with one of those retractable leashes to get it to release, and then it bit him. It's scary.

Thursday, June 23, 2011


No posts lately. It's been a busy week, and I guess that's a good thing. I've got someone in for training this week at work, and I've been working on job apps. My garden has largely recovered from the hail, and I'll post some pictures soon.

No news on the search for job or mate, but the searches optimistically continue.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Kinda Cool

It seems the weather's been unsettled here lately. Nothing too crazy (besides that hail a couple of weeks ago) but some rain and wind. We've had one bout of showers today, and it looks like there will be another rumbling through this evening. Did I put buckets over my tomatoes? You bet I did.

As a result of the changeable weather it's been kind of cool, so I thought this would be a good time to fire up the oven and get some cooking done. I don't have air conditioning, so I tend to not turn the oven on when it's hot outside. This worked out great and I cooked/made all the stuff above. I love Whole Foods pizza dough...

Isn't it funny how tasty the food photographers make food look? This is all yummy stuff, but my pizzas look pale, my brownies look like a tire, and the chili is just kind of blah. Oh well, you get the picture. Mr W and I also made strawberry freezer jam today, which is in the containers. It's pretty darn sweet, but was my first time doing it, so next time we'll back off. Can anyone weigh in on the nutrient content of freezer jelly vs. canned? It seems the nutrients in the cooked kind would be less, since the berries in the freezer kind are frozen fresh. I might can some strawberry jam, but with just me and Mr W eating it, I also might just wait and do the cooked peach jam like I did last year. That jam, the first thing I ever canned, was such a triumph in terms of being able to open the last jar a couple of weeks ago and have the satisfaction of having made the stuff.

It's been an interesting weekend as far as parenting goes. It seems like all Mr W wants to do is to play on the computer these days. We've gone around a few times this weekend about how he needs to develop other interests (I feel like a broken record) that he likes to do besides the computer. He gets touchy, I get annoyed, blah, blah, blah. How does one get their kid interested in a new hobby? He knows that I'd pay for him to take lessons in almost anything, but he doesn't want to try anything.

And yet, yesterday and today, we went out and did what I call "nature stuff". It's the activity I do when I'm out of ideas and need to punt. Yesterday, we packed a picnic and rode our bikes down to the park by the river. The river is flowing really fast, and it was cool to see it (from a safe distance). We ate our dinner at the park, and visited with the horses that are part of the city's nearby demonstration farm. We then rode downtown to see marimba players and met up with one of the ladies from the dog park, who knew the players and bought ice cream for Mr W (and me too!). It was a really good day.

Then today, we went north to Soapstone Prairie, which is this very cool short-grass prairie (or is it Short Grass Prairie?) that the city owns (even though it's an hour north of town). There's an archeological dig ongoing there, and we caught the tail end of a guided talk about it. Did a little bit of hiking, too. After we got back into town, he helped me cook, we went to the dog park, it was a good day. Maybe I shouldn't worry so much about it, but he needs to get together with his buddies more and I'll need to keep trying to help him find something he likes to do that doesn't have a screen involved.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Eye Contact

I catch myself doing it sometimes.

When I'm not feeling like I'm at the top of my game, I will tend to not look people in the eye quite so much. I don't think it's painfully obvious, and it's in situations like at a checkout, where it just seems easier to concentrate on getting my card swiped and PIN punched and getting my stuff to make way for the next person in line.

Yesterday, Mr W and I went downtown to get ice cream (a standard summer evening endeavor around here) and we were in line at the ice cream shop. I was doing it, looking at the menu board, looking into my wallet, and finally, when it was time to hand my card over, I looked at the scoop jockey and she was smiling and friendly and I thought, "Geez, is it too much to function as a kind person here?" No, it's not. I have been getting a little self-absorbed with the stuff going on and it is often that I have to remind myself to get back to the business of living this life.

So now that it's at the front of my mind again, I'm going to look folks in the eye, and smile when our paths cross. It's OK that my inclination at the moment is to kind of turn inward, but this is a really good exercise to stay focused on the present.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011


It's been hard for me to be in the moment lately. A couple of days ago, I left groceries in the trunk of my car overnight. I didn't realize this until I went to find the bread I bought and it wasn't there. There have been a few other forehead-smackers like this, and I know it's because I'm pretty focused on the job thing. Like it or not, that's in the front of my mind at the moment.

"Living in the moment" sounds like a squishy sort of New-Age term, except when one misplaces their car registration, or forgets to mail a bill, or forgets to bring that van to pick up the kid because he brought his bike, which he had at his dad's house. It's as though there's only so much space inside my head, and it can be taken up by looking for a job, or it can be taken up by the day to day things that need to be done, but not both at the same time.

I'm not really worried, per se. I still feel like something will come up before I have to move, or lose my house, or something extreme like that. I know (in my head anyway) that I've got skills (I've seen them on the resume and all) and that somewhere, there will be an organization that can use me and I it. My SIL pointed me to the blog of a mutual acquaintance whose family's financial situation is a lot more dire, and it in turn humbles and scares me, and then I think, "what if?".

This is what I mean by "Zoom". I've mentioned this before, oscillating between "it's going to be fine, don't waste your time worrying" and "I need to find something NOW" is a bit of a ride sometimes. So it goes. One thing I think I have managed to do reasonably well is to hand it all over at the end of the day. I've gotten good at realizing that when I'm going to bed, I can't do anything else about my situation at that moment. As a result, I fall asleep pretty easily. But I've been waking up early, so the system isn't perfect.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Phone Interveiw

Just had the phone interview. Sounds like an interesting position, and the company sounds like it's growing, and there's is room to advance, which is something I'd really like to be able to do. I'd make pretty much what I'm making now, and would like need to move closer to Denver. I'll know if I get a face to face interview by early next week. I think I did a pretty good job, considering I haven't been interviewed for five years. The HR person was very nice.

It was a strange feeling, waiting for the phone to ring. I've spent all this time preparing, looking for job postings, writing cover letters and tweaking my resume. It was a funny feeling that that should somehow be enough, and I thought, "wow, now I've got to talk about all this stuff as well". As though it's really finally underway, if that makes sense.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Hike: Youngs Gulch 6-12-11

Sally and I went for a hike yesterday, to one of our favorite spots, Youngs Gulch. There are probably 12-15 small river crossings on the way up to the top, and my Sal revels in each one. We started at 10:30, but it was still a little too hot for me. We'll start earlier next time. Above is Sal with a bunch of blue Delphinium.

Lots of Rocky Mountain Columbine on the trail. Showy and beautiful.

Scouring Rush (Equisetum). I think it's so cool how specialist plants are really abundant where they find the right conditions.

Shooting Star (Dodecatheon sp.). Small and unusual.

These are some lovely Calypso orchids. Each one is about five inches tall, so a common name is Fairy Slipper.

Me and Sal.

In other news, I got word yesterday that I'll have a phone interview this week for a researcher position in Denver. I forgot to save the job announcement, so I had to ask the HR person to send it to me again. I feel like a dufus, but it's a good lesson. Also, another in-town Biologist job got posted. This is the position that called for resumes ahead of the official posting, and I got to send mine directly to the person who would be my supervisor. I think it would be a great fit, and will enthusiastically throw my hat into the ring.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Gone to Hail

We had a big hail storm last night. This Delphinium is one survivor. I really thought it would be among the first to go, but it looks OK. We get these storms every few years it seems. Three years ago (before I had a vegetable garden and therefore didn't care as much), we had several hail storms early in the season and there were hardly any fresh local tomatoes to be had that year.

A view of my peas, raspberries in the bottom left. Not sure if the peas will recover.

There was still hail built up along north and west faces this morning.

Last night out my back door.

 Last night out my front door.

Intrepid rhubarb. This plant has been pasted several times by hail and has always bounced back. I guess that means a second crop of rhubarb...

 Pulverized peas and lettuce.

Soggy slop formerly known as red leaf lettuce.

I did one picture-taking round this morning, and need to look more closely to see what might pull through and what's lost. Most of the tomatoes are gone, green beans are OK. More pictures later.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

So Social

With the job search, I'm of course paying some attention to the things I WANT to do, the things I wouldn't mind being paid for. Unfortunately, I'm pretty sure gardening and knitting are off the table, and I think it would suck the joy out of each to have to do them under a deadline anyway.

I have, however, been paying attention to my Facebook account. I've been on FB for about three years now, and have (re)connected with various friend from my past and present. Overall, for me, it's been a good experience, although I've heard stories about how delving into the past doesn't always have positive results.

One thing I've noticed is that more and more organizations have a FB presence. I have ended up not using FB to keep up with celebrities, politicians or rock stars, but to keep up with friends, and groups and organizations that I'm interested in. I also use it to help me plan my weekend, and activities for me and Mr W. In this regard, I think I'm using it more like Twitter, and it works for me.

I keep up on the Kew Gardens in the UK, my city updates things like road closures due to traffic or our flowing-ever-higher river, local bookstores, garden companies, science blogs, journalists I like, the list goes on and on. I've had to prune and edit some things back, such as NPR's feed, because I already look at their website several times a day.

But I like how this aspect of social media has worked for me. One of the duties of a job I'm applying for is to maintain the organization's presence on FB and Twitter, and I've been studying how other organizations do that. It can be very effective/informative, and I've seen examples of both too much and not enough presence. Interesting.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Some thoughts on job hunting

I have looked at a lot of job descriptions over the last three months. I started by looking to do a new job that is like my old job. It seems that mid-level-type people like myself aren't in demand, so much as entry-level and senior-level positions. This is OK. This has forced me to look around to see what else fits my skills.

I can tell you that when I use search terms that seem to describe what I'm looking for, what comes up are.... IT and medical jobs, overwhelmingly so. I search "laboratory", "research", "science and communication", "outreach", "research analyst", "science education", stuff like that. Searching "genetics" pulls up the EOE statement on many jobs, so it turns out that isn't very useful.

IT and medical. Can I just say at this point, that I have looked up to the sky several times, where presumably, my mom is up in the heavens, and said, "OK! You were right! If I had gone into nursing, instead of being put off by the thought of having to empty peoples' bedpans, I'd have no trouble finding a job right now. You were right!" She never pushed terribly hard (it wasn't her style) but my parents did suggest nursing as a career path for its stability, flexibility, good pay, etc.

I'm a little bummed out that many of the jobs that sound interesting to me are an hour's commute away, but that's how it goes. I was hesitant at first to apply for such jobs, but have worked up a little momentum so that I've got my resume and letter done, and I like how they represent my skills and experience. I just need to tweak them for each position. I think it is one of those things that I just have to keep seeing what's out there, and one of these times it's going to click. Or stick. Or whatever. Sounds a bit like finding a mate.

Anyway, I've applied for a couple of federal government positions in town, and have given up on the Biologist one that I thought would really be a good fit and opportunity. It's too bad, but I feel better knowing I did give it my best shot there. I've made the first cut for a regulatory-type job in town, which also had a lot of "read and interpret findings", writing and that kind of thing, so we'll see how that goes.

One job did come up yesterday, in Boulder, that I am excited about. It's for a Citizen Science Coordinator. It combines the academic (they want someone with a Botany degree), with the public outreach and using social media technology aspects that I'm looking for. I have no idea what this job would pay, but I'm very interested. Fingers crossed.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

I need to get a life

Ta-da!! Six cubic yards of mulch, distributed.

I feel like I've been toiling at yard work for many weeks now. It looks great, though, and I'm, as my dad used to say, "rounding third" on this project. I'm not sure where my head's been, but there sure was a lot of work to do to get the place looking like I wanted to be here. Almost all of my immediate neighbors have mentioned how nice the place looks. I'm sure they mean it as an innocent compliment, but it makes me cringe a little, thinking that it must have impressed them how badly the place looked before.

Well, no matter. This spruce-up will hold for a while. I'll need to pay attention to the weeds, which seem to do fine despite the dry climate here. I had just the right amount of mulch. I used as much as I wanted, and didn't feel the need to skimp at all. It was warmer today, and I could definitely feel it. I'm a bit dehydrated, and need to tank up on water tonight. 

This is part of what's left to do. As part of an odd sort of what in retrospect I can only figure was emotional restitution, my x installed this fence for me after I moved in, under the auspices of making it safer for the dog (which had been our dog). Anyway, it's been great to have a fenced yard for Sally, and it already looks better with the white paint.

I put Mr W on this task of starting to paint the fence, and you'd think I had asked for one of his kidneys. I even paid him for his time, and he complained and did shoddy work. *sigh* I got annoyed, as I was trying to haul carts of mulch and show him how to paint. He's gone to his dad's house for a couple of hours for a party for the x's mom's birthday, so the break is good. When he gets back, we'll have a discussion about expectations, and pitching in. I suppose it's a kid thing, but he sort of resets himself so he almost always acts surprised, and a little affronted, that I'd ask him to do work around the house. I'm going to tell him to just assume he's going to have to give me 1-2 hours of work each weekend he's here. Then he should expect it. 

But you know what? I liked painting. There's no hauling of heavy stuff, bending over to distribute it, throwing it into a cart with manure fork (I love my manure fork, btw. It's perfect for mulch). I could see myself going out and doing a bit in the evenings. Instant gratification.

And here was one of the areas that got mulch today. The other was the alley-side garden, which ended up not looking all that much different, but looks better. I'll make a third raised bed from those timbers, but not until next year. Those are my snap peas making their way up the trellis, and the raspberries in the corner are quite happy. I've got a bunch of tomato plants in the closest bed. I'm planning on putting up tomatoes aplenty this year, and this is the start. I had bought some flowers for the garden on the other side of the house, and on a whim decided to put them in the big blue pot. I think they look great there. Serendipitous.

Thursday, June 2, 2011


I'm not big into astrology. However, I see the value for me in being reminded about what it means to lead an examined life. I do check in with Free Will Astrology from time to time,  and this week he quotes a quote:

"Adversity has the effect of eliciting talents that in times of prosperity would have lain dormant."

It got me thinking, and seeing my situation from a new angle. The job search continues to be really slow, and it seems that most of the jobs I apply for are in Denver or Boulder (an hour's commute away). The thought of fitting in 2.5 hours of commute time fills me with despair. On the other hand, what if it's a cool job? What if they let me telecommute a couple of days a week? What if the money is good, I learn new things, and it's got that "for the greater good" aspect? What if it lets me keep my house, and the life I'm otherwise used to living? Well, then I guess it's OK.

Besides that, though, I thought about this in-between time. This waiting time. This period of my life when I'm (broken record here) without a partner (saying "husband" sounds needy, "boyfriend" sounds like we're all in high school), and looking at being without a job. My thought was something like, "This is it. Living life is what you're doing right now. And you can be waiting for the next big thing to fall into place, or you can recognize that most of life is this in-between stuff when there is at least a little bit of flux." It got me back to the moment, and I'm trying hard now to focus more on the now. I've thought about, once the love and the job thing are resolved, how I will look back and see how I handled it. I want to be able to look back and feel like I did what I could, and lived life in the meantime.

Oh, and one more lesson, this morning, as the dog paces around, wanting to get into my room, but can't because my big boy 10 year old son is sleeping in there. The lesson is, don't play too much Plants vs. Zombies. There actually isn't a lot of violence, and the zombies are cartoonish and not all that scary. However, Mr. "I'm not scared" called out at 12:35 am, "Mom, I'm scared because of the Zombie game". OK, you get one night of refuge, but tonight you're on your own.