Saturday, December 29, 2012

The December 2012 Sweater Bonanza


I buy most of my clothes at thrift stores and garage sales. Not underthings, but the overthings. Sweaters, shirts, pants, sometimes shoes. If it doesn't work for me after I bring it home (although I do try most things on), I release it back into circulation by putting it in the donation pile. I admit I have bought a couple of things I thought might look good on me because they were really cheap. I seem to forget that olive is not my color. I tend to wear cardigans to work a lot during the winter. The lab is really warm sometimes and we have to wear lab coats and gloves, so it's nice to easily take off a layer when I'm in there.

I have to be in the right frame of mind for shopping this way, because one does have to sort through a lot of unacceptable things. But I look around online for clothing occasionally and can't quite bring myself to spend $50 on a pair of jeans. This is better for the planet anyway, and I do like the thrill of the hunt.

Someone mentioned that a thrift store in the next town south of here had good stuff, so I drove the 20 minutes and did some shopping there this morning.  They had a 50% off sale on items with certain tag colors, so I got most of my items for half price.

And did I find some items! Holy moly, I hit the sweater bonanza. Above you can see the SEVEN sweaters I bought after I soaked them in a gentle no-rinse soap and have laid them out to dry in my basement. Everything does seem to have a certain smell to it from the thrift store and I like to give everything a wash before I wear it. It's funny, four of the sweaters are from Christopher and Banks, a store whose clothing I associate with teacher-wear. But I like the styles and the fit so it works for me.

I also found two tops, a pair of shoes and a pair of snow boots. The snow boots I think are snowboarding boots. I don't snowboard, but I think they will work just fine for $5, thank you.

How about you, do you shop second hand?


Thursday, December 27, 2012

Back to work



Mr W and I had a really nice Christmas. I feel a little bad that he doesn't get a strong traditional Christmas when he's with me, but we end up doing what we feel like doing. I suppose that's not a bad thing. This year we had a good meal on Christmas Eve (spaghetti) and Christmas Day (ham and roasted veggies), and those made yummy leftovers. We were supposed to drive to Denver to join friends at their traditional Polish feast, but it there was snow forecasted, and I didn't want to chance it in my old Civic. Instead we drove around town and saw some lights, coming home when the roads were getting a little treacherous from said snow.

We went to the Denver Botanic Gardens and saw the lights, which were fab, plus it wasn't too cold and we got in before the crowds. We went to a winter solstice service at my church in lieu of the Christmas Eve service and that was good. Reflective.

He got me up on Christmas at 6 am, and we had a nice time opening presents. My family sent several things for us and it was fun to open all the loot. SIL L got hardback books for each of the families made from the vacation pictures she took when they were out here in August. It's really cool to have hardcopies of the pictures, in a book - I know, sort of like the old days. Just about all my pictures are digital these days.

And when his dad came to get him yesterday, so Mr W could spend time there and celebrate Christmas with them, I fought back the melancholy, like I always do. I get used to having him around, and when he's not, I miss him. I can't to go back to how things were, so the only option is to move forward, and thinking that way helps. I've got plenty to do around here - thoughts of remodeling projects are sloshing around in my head...

I'm working W-F this week, and will take a couple of days off next week. Not too many people at work, but I've got plenty to do. I'm trying to get some background (via the primary literature) of the genetic work that's been done in insecticide resistance in the mosquitoes we work with. I find it really interesting, so that's good.

One of the people from the group of old-time musicians that plays together weekly is having a New Year's Eve party, and I will likely swing by there. I've decided to start saving for a new banjo. My dad sent a generous Christmas check and I've got some craft show proceeds that could go toward it. Twang, twang, twang.

Things are good.



Monday, December 17, 2012

One small New Year's resolution


I saw this idea and thought it would be right up my alley with regard to New Year's resolutions, which I don't tend to make. I'm put a jar, a stack of scrap paper, and a pen on my hutch and make the effort to write down when good things happen.

I'm not going to have too many rules on what qualifies, but want to have a jar full of stuff to look at at the end of next year. Sounds simple enough.

Things have been good here, busy like most everyone. I've rolled some kid essentials like boots, slippers and socks in Mr. W's Christmas present haul and I'm not ashamed to say that whatever arrives before Saturday (the day we'll do our Christmas) will be wrapped in festive paper and put under the tree.

He's getting one big gift from me this year, and a couple of small things. I wrapped this thing last night. I set the box that the gift came in into a larger box, and secured it with some styrofoam pieces that came as packaging for something else. Then I put four cans of black beans into the box, filled the rest with newspaper, and wrapped that. Ha! Now, to work on the scavenger hunt clues for him to find his gift. Yup, when the number of gifts is small, ya gotta make them work for it.


Image from here

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Coincidence


As part of what must be one of the most bizarre coincidences ever, I received yesterday this picture from my dog park friend M. He took it while visiting his mom in the central NY town where he's from.

This is the house my mom grew up in.

I'm still trying to grasp the chances of someone essentially random knowing my mom's family and the very house where she was raised. M didn't know my mom, but knew my grandpa (Oompa, we called him) who was a veterinarian and a well-regarded member of the community. His cousins lived across the street from my mom.

My mom's been gone for a long time now, so I need to grill my dad a bit and see what he remembers about the place. He only went up there a few times. 

Life's a strange thing sometimes. 

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Post-Big-Craft-Show Thoughts



I am relieved the big craft show is over and am looking forward to getting my house put back together and getting my kid out from behind the computer to make some cookies and put up the tree today. It was a large chunk of time to get ready and do this thing, and I wanted to get my thoughts down so I can come back later (maybe next year when it's time to sign up!) and read them.

What sold best was my watch parts bracelets and the bookmarks I make from buttons and clay tiles. As a last minute thing on the Wednesday before, I made about 15 bookmarks with my clay tiles only and sold all of those. All told, I sold about 50 bookmarks, 20 of the watch parts bracelets and about 10 button bracelets. People are looking for something different.

I sold small numbers of magnets, buttons, brooches, earrings, and ornaments. These were my lower-priced items that I figured would sell well because they were inexpensive, but it didn't go that way. The bookmarks were really cheap at $3 and it's hard to tell if I could have charged $5 and still sold as many, or people would have not bought them because they didn't look like they were worth that much. As far as time and materials went, $3 was fair as long as I didn't have to ship them.

People either liked my stuff or didn't and this was very interesting to me. Many looked as they went by and didn't slow down as they passed. Others stopped and I could tell my stuff connected with them and that was really neat to see. One woman wearing a bright blue and purple sweater stopped and looked at the button bracelets. I looked at which button bracelets I had out, and after she passed fished around in the box where the extras were and put out one that was purple blue and green. She came back around, zeroed in on that very bracelet and BOUGHT IT! I was very pleased and told her what I had done and she thanked me. That was pretty cool

I am lucky and fortunate to be in a position where I am not dependent on the sale of my stuff to put food on the table and pay my mortgage. So why am I doing it? It was fun to interact with people, and I get a kick out of having people like my stuff. It was also fun to see people I knew who stopped by because I was there, or happened to be passing through. Without thinking too hard about it, my goal should be to cover my expenses (including my time) and maybe just a little on top of that.

I was talking to the woman in the booth next to mine and she wasn't shy about telling me that I wasn't charging enough for my bracelets. More to the point that I wasn't charging for my time. I do spend a lot of time finding the right elements to buy, and that time is done and passed and I'm not sure how much time it was, but that was time spent making pieces that I made and will make. I guess I need to come up with some way to estimate that, and also to keep track of my time going forward.

With the money I have made at the three craft shows this year, Mr W and I are going to take a vacation. I believe we will go to Washington, DC some time in the late winter/early spring. He's just the right age for it and I'd like to go as well. I was talking to my dear SIL who turns 50 next year and she's organizing a long weekend in Las Vegas in April to celebrate. Looks like I'll have to make more bracelets to pay for that airfare as well.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Puff puff puff

It's been busy!! Not much time to write. I'm participating in a big craft show tonight and tomorrow and have spent the last couple of weeks' worth of free time getting ready for that. All is good, though, and I'm excited to see how my stuff is received.

Mr W had his first ever Band concert, and did fabulously. I'm so glad he plays percussion - I could actually hear him!

Work is super busy at the moment too. Hope things are good in your part of the world and I'm looking forward to catching up on blogs next week some time.

Linda

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

What are the chances

For reasons unbeknownst to me (I think it was a collaboration day at his school) Mr W was off yesterday. I had not arranged anything with his dad, so I took half a day off and worked half a day. I was busy doing bracelet stuff in the living room, which looks out to my yard as well as the neighbors' yard.

It was kind of noisy outside because the city was doing its leaf clean up, so there were street sweepers doing their thing, and tiny leaf bits being blown around. Around mid-morning, I'm standing behind Mr W, and he says, "Is that smoke?"

I jump the gun and say, "I don't think so. I think it's leaf dust". Then I look more, and it sure looks like there is smoke coming from the direction of the neighbor's compost pile. I had seen one of them go to the pile earlier, and had noted it because I had let the dog out and was thankful that she didn't bark at him. I head outside in my sweatpants and slippers, step up onto their approximately 8 x 8 ft. pile and it is indeed smoldering. In fact, it's burning a hole down into the pile a few inches.

I walk (briskly) back to my house, give them a call, and they're not home. The message was something like, "Um, this is Linda from next door. Your compost pile is smoking and I'm going to dump some water on it." And that's what I do. I dump two buckets' worth and that douses it.

This leaves me a little shaken. The pile is full of dry leaves, and sits on the property line, at the base of my wonderful (and about 50' tall) fir tree. It's between my neighbors' and my old wooden garages. It's entirely possible that the garages (maybe the tree?) could have caught fire. The corner of the roof of my garage is a few inches from my house.

The thing is, I am almost NEVER home at that hour. If I hadn't been there, things really could have turned out badly. They called later and left a message on the machine, obviously a little shaken at what could have happened and promising to check the ashes to their smallish outdoor fire pit much more carefully in the future. Those ashes sat all night, with lows in the 20's, and were still hot enough to burn leaves.

It's a head scratcher. I send sincere thanks to the circumstances that allowed me to notice.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

The Secret to My Success (sort of)

We are in the midst of a very laid back holiday weekend, the kid, the dog, and me. We've walked the dog for about an hour yesterday and today, so I sort of feel like that offsets the long periods of being sedentary. I'm also doing a small amount of cooking, housework and jewelry stuff, so am being reasonably productive. I'd feel weird if I got absolutely nothing done.

We went to my friends J and S's house for Thanksgiving this year and had a really nice time. We were picked up as Thanksgiving orphans there last year and I was glad when she extended the invite again because we had such a nice time. Another friend invited us to their family's gathering as well, and I feel lucky indeed that folks would think to include me and Mr W. I did something a little different and bought dinner rolls from a restaurant in town, and they were really good.

In the last week or so leading up to Thanksgiving, I caught myself starting to go down a line of thinking where I was just starting to despair because here I am, alone still, going into another holiday season. It's been almost 7 years now since the divorce was final, and there are times when I cannot believe I haven't found my mate, my guy, my match, my (dare I say it) soulmate.

And then the thought popped into my head to focus on the have and not on the want. As my kid and I both sit in my warm living room, using our respective laptops, having just had a nice meal, I feel blessed, lucky even, that I have a job and my health. Really, those two things make the rest of it possible. I feel that with a decent job and my health, the magnitude of my happiness rests squarely on my own shoulders. So the idea of taking note of what I have (mostly regarding intangibles, but being able to buy my kid a pair of shoes today as well) instead of the part of my life I want to be done and settled, has helped a lot. I feel more grateful than cheated.

I also talked on the phone with my dad and my younger brother and got caught up with their lives. It was good to hear they are both doing well, although my brother got laid off and like a lot of people is over qualified for a lot of the openings. I'm trying to draw him into selling his woodworking stuff on Etsy. You never know, right?

I'll probably do a separate post saying this, but I'm having a sale at my Etsy shop, 20% when you use the coupon code "Holiday".


Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Catalog deluge


Yes, for me this is a deluge of catalogs. It's funny, for several years it seemed I got a few, three or four for the whole Christmas season. In this age of heightened environmental awareness I was A-OK with not receiving many (any) catalogs. I figured that companies were cutting back on printed materials to save money. 

Ha! It does not appear, if the four catalogs each from LLBean and Landsend are any indication, that companies are doing anything of the sort. I must have gotten on some lists so I'm getting a bunch of new ones as well. 

I have them close to me so I can take a stab at looking at them, but I'm not so motivated at the moment. Truth is, my buying list is pretty short. Mr W wants one big thing (again), so he'll be easy to buy for, and I have a pretty good idea for the short list of nieces, nephews and parent that remain. Since I got them, though, I feel sort of obligated to try to look at them. Maybe tomorrow.



Sunday, November 18, 2012

Two small peeves

I do some of my grocery shopping at Whole Foods. I'm not a zealot when it comes to organic, but they try to use local farmers, and I like that. I also try to pay attention to the Dirty Dozen, the list of the most pesticide-contaminated produce, so I can buy those organic when possible. I also like their already-made pizza dough and we go through a lot of pizza here. On the other hand, I could have bought blueberries from Argentina yesterday if I want to, so it's not like everything there comes with a little halo around it.

Anyway, I was picking up a few things. Silly me, I was surprised to find so very many people there until I realized that they were shopping for Thanksgiving. I got in and out pretty quickly, and at the checkout, the clerk asked me, "Would you like to donate to the food bank to buy a meal for a family today?"

This pisses me off. In my opinion, it feels like they are guilting people into donating because we all feel like we're perceived as a little elitist for shopping there in the first place. Or am I reading too much into it? Do their superpowers only work on me?

I declined. And not because I'm selfish, but because I already donate cash to the food bank every month as part of my charitable giving. Do I tell the clerk that? What do they care, although do they look with distain at people who are so out of touch they can't even fork over a couple of bucks for the food bank? Maybe I should just smile and say, "I'm already a donor there." Probably. All those years of Catholic school makes the guilt triggers almost permanent...

Anyway, on to my second peeve. This one is not confined to WF, but to all store parking lots. What is it with people that they can't return their carts to the designated place? They they feel compelled to leave the cart between cars, or hoisted up on a curb? I don't know why this annoys me so. It probably has to do with my sense of fairness and not wanting to make extra work for other people. It happens everywhere, even at Target, where the cart corrals are easy to find and close. There is no resolving this, although I sometimes choose those carts if I'm on my way in.

Small things, really. But I feel better now :-)

Thursday, November 15, 2012

No mind readers

I am outraged, outraged, I tell you that my 17 year old car is starting to have problems. Well, not really, but there's a tiny part of me that is sad because this feels like the beginning of the end for my trusty 1995 Civic.

It's running fine, and starts up without protest. There's just little things that one would expect to fail on such an old vehicle that are starting to fail. The A/C stopped working last summer, for example. Recently, I was walking past the driver's side, rolling the trash can back to its spot by the garage, and my hip bumped the side mirror, breaking it such that it swivels now, and is pointing down. Sigh. A headlight went out this week, too.

17 years on the original two headlights. That is impressive, and I'm not really complaining that these relatively minor things are going wrong. They are a forecast of things to come and it's time to look for a new car.

I had thought about walking into a dealership and just getting exactly what I wanted. I've already decided to keep the Civic, as a second beater car and because it's not worth much. But common sense prevailed and I made an appointment with my wonderful mechanic to give the Civic a once-over and oil change it needs to get it in as good of shape as possible to buy me time to look for a car. The end of the year is supposed to be a good time to buy a car, right?

Having sold the van, and living by myself, taking the car in for service presents some mobility challenges. What I usually do is put my bike in the trunk, drive to the mechanic's (1/2 mile) and ride my bike home. Then I ride my bike to work the next day (3 miles), and also back to the mechanic's to get my car.

Yesterday, I was at my spinning class (the biking kind) thinking that I had to then go home and put the bike in the trunk, etc. Somehow, the idea popped into my head to say to the class, "Hey, I need a favor, could someone follow me to my mechanic's and give me a ride home?" Two people volunteered, and J, who lives up the street from me, gave me a ride.

No one would have known of my predicament if I hadn't spoken up, you know? I'm normally firmly in the mindset that I have to figure out a way to do these things on my own, but not always. She was glad to help, and I think people often are if you don't abuse the privilege.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Craft show recap


I did my first craft show last Saturday, and it went just fine. I sold about $150 worth of my stuff. Not as much as I had hoped, but not bad considering there were only 12 vendors. The set up was kind of odd, as my table was in a cluster of tables and the vendors were in the area inside the cluster, and it was cramped. I had Mr W with me, and I thought we'd be able to sit together and he'd help me, but there wasn't room for a second chair. He camped out in the kitchen of the gallery, and had his computer so was fine, although a little buggy at the end of the day.

I didn't forget to bring anything, I did the sales tax correctly, and people were very nice. I sold a little bit of each type of item I had, except the buttons. The thing I sold most of were the $3 book marks. The little bags I have to hold things are too small, so I need to order larger ones (yes, this post is also to remind me of things). Several people looked at my bracelets and said, "I've never seen anything like that". Thanks! 

I made the display boards from cupboard doors that I got at the place in town that sells salvaged doors, windows, etc. I might redo the holes, move them up and farther apart, so I can fit more on the boards. I went to an estate sale and got the matching napkins. I like the effect. I even ironed them! 

I admit I had some anxiety about doing a craft show (yes, I'm a little embarrassed at that sentence) that has since evaporated with me thinking, "what was I tweaked out about?" The anxiety is about not knowing how things will go. Simple uncertainty. It's good to have that every once in a while because it shows me that getting tweaked isn't worth the effort. 

One show down, two or three to go. I'm going to make some ornaments this weekend, but otherwise have enough stock to do the rest of the shows. 

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Take my leaves, please

I've lived in my little house for seven years now. Technically, I own two trees: a towering fir that sits behind my garage, and the little apple tree I planted a couple of years ago. Neither is big on fall leaf production. My neighbor has an oak tree on the property line, and I do have two serviceberries on the patch between the sidewalk and the street (we always called it the tree lawn).

Every fall, I revisit the dilema of raking. I don't particularly like to rake, and it seems to me that it makes sense to wait until almost all of the leaves are down to get started raking. This has the potential of annoying the neighbors, as fallen leaves blow to their property. I admit that there have been one or two years when the raking got away from me because a storm came in and blew the leaves away. I have only felt mild guilt at this.

There are renters on the corner that have done a major (as in 10-15 garbage bags' worth) raking job three (3!) times this fall. Their grass has looked immaculate after each effort. For about 2 days.

This year, the leaves on the tree lawn were definitely sitting there waiting to be raked, and I felt the obligation to get them up and out. I think what also made it easier to get out there and do it was that I purchased yard waste pick up from my trash company. So I filled up the bin, plus a couple of bags that will get put in the bin next week. I'll throw whatever's left into the compost pile in the back of my yard. There are a couple of places in town that will accept the leaves for composting for a very small charge.

My leaf duty is almost done for the year. The leaves that are left are contained in my fenced yard and aren't going anywhere, so I can get to those after the craft show this weekend.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

No, you can't have my hope

As the election season mercifully draws to a close today, I'm thinking about the sermon at church this past Sunday. It was about election ad fatigue and how it is not so very hard to get beaten down by the advertisements and feeling like a lot of bad stuff will happen if the other side wins.

This is a quote from the piece the sermon was based on:

"My husband will say on those occasions when the weight of the world is closing in and the evidence against hope mounts as I read the news, when I start confusing cynicism with pragmatism, and I sigh, “I’m so tired, I’m so discouraged”—he’ll say, in the kindest way: “What kind of entitled grandiosity of privilege is this, to think that you or I or anyone has the right to sever the bright thread of hope, the tradition of dedication to the common good and faith in the people’s power to imagine great change and great risks and then take them; the beautiful, proud history of work for human rights and freedom? We’re only here to pass it on,” he’ll say. “All you have to do is keep the fire burning for a little while, and pass it on. You have no right to put it out.” Not in so many words, but that’s about what Ross will say." 

I was kind of relieved to hear things put that way. May we not confuse cynicism with pragmatism.




Sunday, November 4, 2012

As promised



video

Here is a clip of my banjo instructor and I at the recital last night. It wasn't nearly as harrowing as I thought it could be. Glad I did it.

Friday, November 2, 2012

And next, we have Linda on the banjo


I have my first ever banjo recital tomorrow. I'm trying hard not to get tweaked out about it, because it doesn't mean anything, and I know the songs, and it's a more than friendly crowd, and most importantly, I WANT to have this experience. 

I'm doing two songs, Blackberry Blossom, which is sort of old-timey/bluegrass, and Cripple Creek (not the one by The Band...). They are songs I have played as practice for months and months, so I know them very well. It's funny how each time you play, though, it's a little different. 

The picture above is from a jam that my instructor had a couple of weeks ago. That's me and my banjo in a contemplative moment there on the right. Actually, I didn't know the song, and there was someone to my immediate left, so I was holding the banjo upright while I was waiting, to make a little more space. 

As an aside, can you see my shoes? I do most of my clothes shopping at the consignment store. It takes more time, but it's so much cheaper that it is largely worth it. It's hard to find shoes that work for me because I think if shoe are comfortable, people hang onto them. As a result there are a lot of 5" pumps for sale and, well, I just don't have occasion to wear such shoes. But I was perusing the racks the other day, and happened upon the mules you see in the photo. They are really pointy-toed, they have a 2" heel, and they look like cowboy boots, although they cover just a little more than what a regular tie-up shoe would. In other words, they are cool shoes that I probably would never buy. And they fit! And they were $18! So I had to have them. They are not walkin' shoes, but I loves them anyway. 

OK, back to the jam/recital. I'm glad my instructor hosts these jams, because they, like going to the Old Time jam downtown, are such good practice. In my mind, this music is meant to be played as part of a group. 

But she also hosts a cool recital once a year, at the local Grange. I remember when Mr W took piano lessons for a year, he had a recital and it was about what you'd expect. Kids in their good clothes playing the same piece of music over and over. No. This recital is more like a party, where there is food and drink and everyone has chosen what they will play. My instructor will play along with me, and sing the words to Cripple Creek. 

I'll see if I can get someone to shoot a video. It'll all be over in about 3 minutes. Then I'm having a glass of wine. 

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Yawn

Happy Day of the Dead! It was a good Halloween last night. It's not unusual at all for Halloween to be cold and snowy here, so the mild weather brought out a lot of trick or treaters. I live one house off of a major trick or treat destination, where people drive their kids in, park on the side streets like mine, and work up and down that avenue.

Given that my dear dog barks (as I'm pretty sure I want her to do) at everyone that comes to the door, I decided I'd sit outside with my laptop and candy bowl and hand out candy that way. That worked pretty well. The people I bought my house from (7 years ago!) stopped by, with the little girl whose birth prompted their move saying, "this is our old house!". How fun. They've got two kids now and we chatted for a bit. I love this house and its location and told them so.

I've been trying to get up earlier, given Mr W's middle school schedule, so my alarm is now set for 5:05 am. I most definitely do not pop out of bed rarin' to go, but don't use the snooze button and don't fall back to sleep while NPR is playing on my clock radio. This is going fairly well, and I'm trying to get to bed a little earlier so I get 7 hours or so.

All week, I've been sleeping for almost exactly 5 hours, then I wake up, use the facilities, and go back to bed for a couple more hours. Several times in the last couple of weeks, I've woken up at 3:08, or 3:13. I think it's wild that a body/mind can wake up at the same time fairly often.

Last night worked the same, but instead of just waking up after a dream ended, I was dreaming that I had my hand down near the edge of some covers on a bed, and a scorpion scuttled out, got on my hand and stung me! I could feel the stinger, like a needle, then it took it out. I was afraid to brush it away because I thought it would bite me, too. I think that's why I didn't brush it off. Note to self: scrape that little nasty thing off post-haste should you ever encounter one on your hand, OK?

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Some of my history via houseplants


I've been meaning to do a post on houseplants for a while now. A lot of people keep them in their homes, and I would wager that most people's houseplants were propagated as cuttings from other people's houseplants. I've thought about how cool it would be if we could look at them genetically, and see how swaths of people in certain areas all own what is essentially the same plant. 

Not to mention the connection that a person can feel because they have a plant that was given to them by a person who is no longer around, or is around and the plant just reminds us of them. 

For example, the original plant that the cutting in the middle came from, a Swedish Ivy, was given to my mom by a neighbor who passed away young. It must have been the early 1970's as we had just moved into the house where I grew up. I've got three versions of this plant in my house at the moment, and just started this one. I don't want to be the one who breaks the chain and lets the plant die, you know?

The plant on the left was part of an arrangement someone sent to the funeral home after my mom died. My SIL, who ironically is not a plant person, had the foresight to grab a cutting before the rest of the arrangement was tossed, and they propagated it in their home for a few years. I then took a cutting a few years ago. I've got a couple of these, too. I don't know what the name of it is, but it's a vine, and there is a tremendous plasticity in the leaf shape, depending on how much light it gets. Lots of light makes large (8" x 6") leaves. Not so much light makes smaller, rounder leaves. It's pretty cool. 

You'd recognize the plant on the right if you saw good examples of the leaves. They unfurl with cutouts on them, and they can be large (8-10" across). This one's also a vine. I just looked it up and it's a Split-leaf Philodendron. The Biology Department where I went to school has a large specimen of this plant, and when we started holding classes in a new building next door, the office ladies moved it to the end of a hallway. It was quite an effort, as various parts of it had to be supported either with sticks or from wires hung from the ceiling. Somewhere in the process, a leaf and a bit of stem broke off. Someone put it in a large lab flask, put some water in it, and there it sat in the lab where I taught as a grad student, for most of my last year of school. When I was nearly done with school, there this sat, one tired leaf in a swirling mass of roots. It was an orphan I need to rescue, and it likes its new home. Almost too much, the thing wants to be a really big plant. 

Every summer, I move to the front porch the half-dozen or so houseplants that are in my bedroom. Sometime in October, I move everyone back to my room, which happened this past weekend. I recently moved to a new office space that is direly in need of some green stuff, so in the usual cutting back to tidy up the plants, I made a few starts to eventually take to my office cube. I love how the process continues, that I can utilize these plants to make my new space prettier. And that they mean something to me.

I've also really liked having the starts on my window sill. I don't know, plants have always done that for me. I look for signs of root growth as I do the dishes. It's supposed to be warm for the rest of the week, so I might take one or two of these to work today while the weather's nice. I can then just bring a pot with a bag of soil once the roots are ready. 

Do you have any plants with a past? 



Saturday, October 27, 2012

Give it to me


With Sandy bearing down on the east coast of the US, I've been thinking about buying a generator. It seems to me like things could naturally go such that big storms get more common over time and it would be good to be ready for that.

Now, I know that many of you who read my blog come over from Mama Pea's or Susan's blogs, so you know your stuff about this sort of thing. What are your thoughts on this idea, and what should I look for in a generator? 

From the research I've done, it seems a 3000 watt one would be fine. Keeping the fridge on is tops, maybe a chest freezer in the future, too. I want to be able to have a couple of space heaters going or be able to run our room A/C unit. Then lights and computers :-)

I had another question along these same lines, but it escapes me at the moment. If you've got two cents' on this, let me know what you think.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Perspective




Over at Mr W's dad's house this past weekend, they euthanized their elderly dog, Reggie. Mr W and his step brother T knew what was going down, and T's grandpa took them both out for some fun at the go-kart place.

We talked about it, and Mr W said that he wished he was allowed to be there. I agreed, thinking that it's not easy, but there's not a good reason to keep that kind of thing from an 11 year old.

Something he said about the process, though, gave me pause. I'm starting to see more of this kind of thing, where he'll state opinions that are different (not in a bad way) from mine and I can see he's just coming at the issue from a different perspective. He was a bit incredulous that they paid someone to come to the house and euthanize Reggie. As if someone shouldn't profit from doing such an unsavory job, I think was where he was coming from.

I countered with the idea that what you want in those cases is a skilled professional to come in and give the dog a painless and dignified death. That it's totally worth calling in a professional to do the job.

Another instance was yesterday when we were walking the dog. In lieu of getting him signed up for an organized sport and wanting to keep him at least a little active, I make him come with me to walk the dog most days after school. This has been a good idea, as he's seeing the neighborhood, indeed, WE are seeing the neighborhood and I believe it helps us feel like it is ours. It's a neighborhood of old houses, many (most?) of which have been renovated and/or added onto. Also several places where they buy an old house, tear it down and build another. It gives us lots to talk about.

Anyway, we were crossing a street on our way out, and we waited for traffic to clear for a moment before scampering across. On the way back, we went to the crossing where they put up a stoplight specifically to let people cross. He pushed the button, the light turned red and we crossed. As usually happens, the light was red for a few seconds after we'd finished crossing. I mentioned I always feel a little guilty that I'm keeping people waiting when I could have just waited to cross. He said he felt powerful ("like a king") because he had the ability to make people wait for him. Funny.

There was another instance, but I can't remember it at the moment. He is racing headlong into tween-dom. They have a dance at this school Friday, and I'm encouraging him to go. I think he'd have fun, and they don't (thank goodness) need a date or anything like that. Sometime after I was in high school, someone got the idea that kids should be able to go to dances without an escort. Brilliant idea.

image

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Better



Another unrelated garden picture.  I've got two Dahlias that flowered at least a month early this year but did fine. They are very sensitive to frost and got zapped when it first started getting cold.

Thanks for the well wishes and advice, I think I've turned the corner, cold-wise. I had a properly-placed breathing strip on my nose last night and slept soundly. I think about how some people cope with chronic health issues and it makes my piddly cold seem so insignificant.

Case in point. Yesterday, my church sent an email saying how a church member died yesterday morning after riding his bike to work. Just gone. He was probably in his late 50's. I've been thinking about the abruptness of having someone die in that manner. No prolonged suffering, which is good. But it's an understatement to say no one is "ready" to go that way.

I've been spending the better parts of every weekend for the last couple of months making bracelets, brooches and buttons. Now that I signed on to do a craft fair in three weeks, I've been trying to get organized for that. Carding buttons, trying to get a few more pieces made, blah blah blah. It takes a tremendous amount of time and for what?

Things feel out of balance. I like to make these pieces. I truly get a kick out of putting something together from component parts that is pleasing to my eye. But it feels like I've been spending too much time on it lately. Someone asked me whether I had been out hiking lately, and I had to say that I have not been hiking ALL YEAR. That's not right.

I've told myself, too, that I'm not going to meet and nice and compatible guys while I'm gluing clay pieces together in my basement. Must leave house. There must be a balance out there that feels more right than this. I need to find it.


Monday, October 22, 2012

Roll down the window

I seem to recall it was this way with the last cold I had. After it was pretty much done and I felt OK, I felt stuffed up and still blew my nose a lot. The vestiges of the cold. I've been sleeping with a stick-on breathing strip (twas a genius who invented those) for the last few nights, and last night after I stuck it on, thought, "that's a little high" placement-wise, and I went to bed.

I had this dream, where I am in the back seat of a two-door car. That's a symbol of helplessness and vulnerability for me. I'm also in the middle. There's pounding from the trunk, and I know it's my kid and a friend who were fooling around and now they're locked in there. I begin to panic, and someone in the front pushes the button to put the driver's side window up. There's someone standing beside the car, and I'm trying to yell to them to unlock the trunk. I know somehow that if the window goes all the way up, I won't be able to breathe. I panic and wake up, my breathing strip having failed because I put it on wrong, and unable to breathe through my nose.

Yuck. I am so ready to be over this cold.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Carry on

I caught a head cold last weekend and it's still hanging on, making the rounds between throat, nose, head and chest. Blah blah blah. I'm not incapacitated, but sniffly and feeling a little puny. I've been thinking about when I was sick for the better part of February with a nastier bug, and am trying to get enough rest so it doesn't go there.

Anyway, it's been a good week. I sold about 14 bracelets this week, including one big order of seven that I will ship to the UK today. My insurance agent also bought two - how nice is that? I hand delivered those and refunded her shipping. I'm still feeling like I need to make more stuff for the craft show (my first craft show!) November 10th, so will try to get there in the next couple of weekends. I don't get much done during the week, craftwise.

My internet went out on Monday. My cable internet comes to my house from a line that runs above the alley beside my house, and it's low enough that if tall trucks come down the alley, it catches. My local phone line is right there as well, and that's gone out two or three times over the seven years I've lived here. This time that line was OK, but the cable went, but the guy came out on Wednesday and strung it up a little higher than before.

I'll leave you with a picture of my dog Sally and her Halloween costume from a couple of years ago. Truth be told, she wore it only for the few seconds it took to get the picture. She's not much of a costume wearer.




Saturday, October 13, 2012

I, the insured


OK, so the picture has nothing to do with this post, but it's sure a pretty color. This is one of the few that I grew from seed that flowered and did pretty well. It's still hard to believe that a little seed can produce something with such vibrant color. Most of the garden plants got whacked with the cold temps lately. Carrots and parsnips are still in the ground and I'll harvest those probably in a week or so. Despite (or maybe because of) my neglect besides watering them, I got three big round happy pumpkins from the alley garden this year. We'll carve two and I'm looking for a home for the third. Yes, I'll take pictures. :-)

I got a call a few weeks ago from my insurance agent saying she'd like to review my policy with me in person one of these days and that she had an opening for today. I agreed, although I thought it would be an attempt for them to charge me more for something somehow. I dislike it when I'm that cynical.

But since I sold the van this week (godspeed Graycie, on your way to the great state of Maine where you shall live), I needed to get the insurance for that canceled anyway. It was a very pleasant experience and we ended up adjusting a couple of things and I feel like I've got good coverage. I got a rider to my homeowner's policy for a few dollars a year that covers me in case the jewelry I make is stolen from a craft show or out of my car. It was cheap enough that I thought that'd be a good idea.

I got the amount of coverage reduced on my trusty Honda, as having them insure it for its replacement cost is kind of silly on a 17 year old vehicle. If it's totaled, I'll go ahead and get a different car. And I have been thinking about it. Since it's just me, Mr W and the dog, and I don't do much driving in the mountains, I've got the flexibility to get a small, fuel efficient car. But not too small. I need four doors.

So the current contenders include the Prius C, which I've had my eye on for a few years now and am happy is finally available. It's not cheap, though, they are about $21K. Gulp. Also in contention is the Fort Fiesta. Not as good of gas mileage, (but great for a non-hybrid) but several thousand dollars cheaper. Could an objective person tell me that that several thousand dollars will buy me more reliability? If so, I'd go with the Prius.  I also like the Honda Fit, and have liked that for a while, too. It also doesn't get as good of gas mileage as the Prius (nothing will that isn't a hybrid, of course). The Honda is at least (if not a little more) reliable as a Prius, and the price is probably close. I'd consider a used regular-sized Prius, too. Mull, mull, mull.

My banjo instructor is hosting a jam tonight, and I'm excited to attend. I haven't been going to the Tuesday night jam because I haven't been practicing as much as I should. But I'm making an effort to practice more and it's time to go back, if for no other reason that it's is in itself practice. Ooohh, circular. 

OK, off to it. Hope you all have a good weekend.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Zap


We had our first killing frost a few days ago, and these lovely Zinnias are no more. I had great luck with Zinnias this year. They liked it in the hot dry spots in my garden and I will (as I think I've mentioned before) plant more of them next year. These were starts from the plant nursery from sometime in June when starts were already 50% off, so it was a good deal. The sun was already low enough in the sky so that at mid-day, these were in partial shadow. 

In other news, Mr W and I came home yesterday to a Sally poop accident. Luckily it wasn't the kind where it is deposited far and wide around the house, but it was right on the wood floor in the living room. Now, my wood floor is old and worn - people tell me that the "look" is very in right now. I was very concerned, as I worked with a toothpick and then a piece of wire to extract poop from between the boards, that it was going to smell permanently. 

I sound like an advertisement, but I had a bottle of Nature's Miracle on hand and poured that between the boards and over the area and let it dry. It doesn't smell this morning, and I'll get down there and sniff the boards sometime today when I work up the courage to do so. I'm relieved, but Sal is still off, digestive-wise. I just let her out this morning and she's no better. I'll have to decide whether to stop in sometime today - probably should, and let her out. Do myself a favor.

And in other other news, it looks like I'll pick up the check for selling Graycie the campervan today. All's well that ends well and she goes to a good home. 



Saturday, October 6, 2012

Good news

Well, it looks like Graycie the camper van has been sold. About six weeks ago, I took it over to my mechanic's, where they have a selection of their own used vehicles as well as consignments like mine. It cost me 10% of the price, but he got more for it than I would have. I don't have a check in hand yet, as the final negotiations went into late yesterday afternoon, but if everything works as it's supposed to, the buyer put down a several hundred dollar deposit yesterday, I'll send the title Monday and then get a cashier's check for it after that. Or something like that. 

One of the reasons I thought the sales commission was totally worth it is that they are dealing with the details that I don't want to deal with. 


It's a big relief to get it sold, as in retrospect a second vehicle (especially an infrequently-used camper van) wasn't a luxury that I could easily afford. Live and learn. As these things seem to go, my trusty (and 17 year old) Honda Civic is starting to make a rattling noise in the back that suggests I need to put some money into it. I need to see if I can perhaps use the van for a day or two before it's actually sold so they can get my Honda shipshape before I go down to having only one car again. Timing. 

In other news, this morning I had my biggest sale ever on Etsy!! Someone bought eight (8!) of my button-clay tile bracelets. I'm still kind of waiting to see if she made a mistake and will cancel the order. Ha! I'm also wondering what she's going to do with them and if she's going to resell them. It would be nice to have an outlet where I can sell several at a time. It's a funny thing how I feel kind of validated because someone bought that many pieces. As though since someone else liked them that much to buy eight of them, I must be creating good stuff. 

Anyway, that's my good news today. It's shaping up to be another busy Saturday. They always are though, and it's what I make it, so I must want things this way. 

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Shuffle

I'm going to be moving from one office cube to another at the end of next week. A bunch of people, including the director and other people who have been there for years/decades are moving from office trailers to the building where I work and where the labs are. My boss is moving, and he asked if I'd take one of the computers that we use to do data analyses and have it moved to my new cube.

I said sure, and went over there yesterday to pack it up and get the all-important stickers on the parts so they will be moved to the right location. My boss was still packing his office, and his boss, who has the office next door, was also in and out packing his office. They had a ton of boxes, and both said how they have thrown out a lot of stuff as well.

As a side note, one of the things we sciencey types are supposed to do is to keep a library of sorts of journal articles relevant to our work. Used to be people kept folders upon folders of papers in file cabinets. These days, almost everything is available online. It makes for a lot of recycled paper when the time comes to move that stuff.

Anyway, as my boss and his boss (who I also really like) and I were chatting, it occurred to me that these two people are largely responsible for my being employed in a good job that I enjoy. These two people have gone to bat to keep me on when my contract comes up for renewal, and view what I do there as relevant. Yes, I try to do a good job, and that's probably part of why I'm still there, but still.

My boss's boss joked, "So, are you having Linda pack your office?" That struck both my boss and I as funny, as I don't think either of us would have considered it. He then said there were a couple of PI (Principal Investigators - someone in charge of a lab's work) who had done just that. I was grateful that I wasn't asked.

When the move happens, we're supposed to work from home, which for me means getting caught up on some much-needed reading on several things. It'll be a nice change.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Cookbook giveaway on Susan's site

Dear blog friend Susan over at e-i-e-i-omg! is doing a week of cookbook giveaways to celebrate here 500th blog post in a line of sassy and cogent blog posts. If by some chance you don't already visit over there (I feel like a lot of my traffic comes from her blog), then by all means go over there and say hi. You'll appreciate her words of wisdom.

Monday, October 1, 2012

It's 2 am, do you know if you have a spare 9V battery?

You'd think I'd learn. When I had Mr W's room fashioned out of the back porch of this old house, they put in two smoke detectors that are directly wired into the electricity of the house. Except that they both take 9V batteries too, and those batteries need to be periodically replaced.

I'm all for home safety, but this system has an uncanny ability to start its alarm beeps in the middle of the night. Like last night, for instance. At 2:15 am, I hear something that wakes me up with a start, but then hear nothing, so think it was my dream. At 3:15, I hear three short beeps coming from Mr W's end of the house and know what's going on.

I get up and rummage through the box that has spare batteries. I can report I've got a bunch of size D and size C, but no 9V. I thought that I might have to go to Wal Mart in the middle of the night to get a battery until I had the idea to take the battery out of the regular smoke alarm in my room and see if that had enough juice to last until I could get new batteries for everything.

Thanks goodness it worked. I sort of drifted in and out until it was time to get up, and I think everyone else slept OK after that. I'm putting it on my Google calendar to do this next September 1st. I've been in this house (as of yesterday) seven years now. You'd think I'd learn... :-)

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Organizing



I fear I have too many social media outlets, and none of them are getting the proper amount of attention. I get the most traffic with this blog, yet I'm only posting a couple of times a week.  I keep intending to make a schedule whereby every place that I want to post gets posted to regularly, but it hasn't happened yet.

The thinking was to divide my personal blog from the jewelry stuff, to avoid overwhelming either with non-pertinent information. Given how my posting seems to simply be divided between the two, maybe it's time to put it into one thing. I don't know, I'm thinking about it.

I suppose another question is what is working? My FB page for the jewelry stuff has over 300 followers, and I've gotten a couple of sales off of that. I enjoy it, too, especially reposting other people's cool and interesting photos.

I've got two Tumblr blogs, too. One that I repost cool sciencey art or science humor or science stories, and one for jewelry and upcycled things. Those get some traffic, but since the jewelry one is an offshoot of the same email account, I can't seem to do everything on that one that I want, like listing who I follow, which I'd like to do.

And Google. I think I dug myself this hole, but I have two gmail accounts and my blogger blog for the jewelry stuff isn't attached to my jewelry gmail account. Again, I can't do everything I'd like to do because of that. Oh, and Google plus is a whole other thing to be dealt with one of these days.

So I'd like to consolidate. After reading through this post, I've got a lot to do!

Friday, September 28, 2012

My cooking prayers answered


Regular readers of this little blog know I can't get it together (ever, really) to pass along recipes like some better-organized bloggers. But I was at the library yesterday, and found a whole book with several good recipes in it, so I thought I'd pass that along.

When I was younger, I can remember spending a lot of time in the library. I guess some of it was with my mom, and some by myself. I do remember having the luxury of time such that I could walk the aisles of nonfiction and pick out things that looked interesting. 

I brought Mr W to the library yesterday. It's slowly transitioning over, but he'll pick out 15 books he's read before if I let him do all the choosing, so I spend some time selecting books I think he'd like. We have found a lot of good ones like that, and say what you want about sequels, it is a really good way to get a kid to pick up a book and begin to read without too much fuss.

We found a bunch of good ones for him, then I went upstairs to the nonfiction stacks and did the walking around thing. I didn't feel like I was getting anything good, but I was wrong. The stew book (link is to see it on Amazon) has a BUNCH of straightforward recipes whose leftovers can be frozen, which is a high priority for me. Lots of cuisines, too. 

I also got a book on clay, one on casseroles, a Rick Steve's guide, "The Best of Europe", and a book on remodeling small houses. I guess I did pretty well at the library yesterday. Being able to wander around the stacks was a real treat.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Pilgrimage

Last night I watched the movie The Way, with Martin Sheen. It's about a straight-laced, follow-the-rules kind of guy who gets a call that his wandering adventuring son has died on his very first day of a pilgrimage that starts in France and goes through northern Spain to the sea called the Camino de Santiago (The Way of St. James). This link shows the route and has info.

Sheen's character flies to France to identify and claim the body, and decides on a whim to take the pilgrimage in his son's stead. The movie is about the people you meet along the way and how we make choices about how we live our lives. I really liked it and recommend it.


This is a picture I pulled off the internet (link below). Amazing scenery, with this pastoral-small European village feel - really nice. The movie has made me think a bit about folks who have the wanderlust in a big way, those that most definitely don't, and the rest of us in between.

I found myself thinking about my assumption that, sure, I'm in good enough shape to do an 800 km walk over the course of a month. Well, I think so. And thinking that I could do this kind of thing if I really wanted to is an assumption I carry with me that makes me feel better about not doing it. I've always figured I'd get to Europe someday. As I've mentioned before, it's something I don't want to do by myself; I'd like to go with the wonderful guy I hope to eventually meet. 

But I feel sort of this nagging feeling that I should be making contingency plans so I don't wait too long and miss the opportunity. This thought isn't necessarily new, but I figured I'd put it down on the blog. If I hit 50 (3 years from now) and still my match is taking his sweet time, I'm going to Europe for 2-3 weeks on my own. Saying that makes me feel better.

It's a big world out there, that like it or not we are part of. Ack. I'm a little embarrassed to say I've never been further out of the U.S. than Canada, and that was 20 years ago. Life kind of happens, you know? It's more in my nature to do things locally, I guess. I was chatting with someone the other day, saying how, when you own a home, you could work on home stuff during almost all of your free time and not be finished. Ergo you need to back off a bit sometime, yes?

Hmm. I need to cogitate on this a bit more.

image from here

Monday, September 17, 2012

Nice weekend


We had a really nice weekend up in the mountains. We stayed at the YMCA of the Rockies in Estes Park. When my family was here in August, we stayed at the YMCA in Winter Park, which was also really fun. Estes is closer to my house, and I'm looking forward to visiting again when it's snowy. 

We were on a retreat with the church I attend, and I liked how they didn't over-schedule us. There were several fun activities, including a "To Tell the Truth"- like game where people had weird or unlikely things happen to them and there were three people up there saying the same story. We had a relative of Evil Knieval in our midst. No lie.

I guess it's human nature, but there are people at church who I see often, but we never connect. I spoke to a few of those over the weekend, and it was a positive thing. I need to remember that it's totally worth the effort to make those connections. 

Friday, September 14, 2012

Just funny that way

So I'm at my banjo lesson yesterday, and I have practiced maybe 30 minutes the previous week. I almost always feel guilty when I don't practice enough, even though my instructor doesn't admonish me for it. But I feel like I get my money's worth more if I do practice, so that we can move along as I get better.

Anyway, I had sent her the music in a tabulature (not sure that the right word, my spellcheck is no help)  form for several song that are played at these jams I go to. She was playing this one when I arrived at my lesson.



This is called "Shove the Pig's Foot a Little Further Into the Fire". It is not a cooking song, it's a blacksmithing reference, which someone had to tell me because I am clueless about such things. Anyway, it's a really nice old timey tune and I'm really pleased she's learning it to teach to me.

We were playing a song together as practice, and as we went along, I did this thing that cracked her up and she said it was bizarre. In the good way (so she said...). But as we played, if I lost my place, I would sing in a dum-de-dum kind of way until my fingers could jump in and pick up the playing again. Kind of like the singing was a placeholder while I found a place to get back into the song. I figured everyone kind of did that, but apparently not. I later though that it's probably because I'm not relying on reading the music; I've memorized the song and so am not looking at the sheet music.

Anyway, it's an adventure.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

A bit of travel

I tell you, I am still getting used to sending my kid to school an hour earlier in the mornings. As we've gone to an every-other-week schedule, this is only my second go of it. I refuse to give up my 30 minutes of coffee-blogging-check websites time, so I'm getting up 15 minutes early and then have to just keep moving to get out the door by 7:10. But he has not been late yet, so we're good.

We are also getting used to how he spends his time after school. There's a lot of time between the end of school and bedtime, and it's a process determining how he should spend his time. I know, I know, when we grew up, no one had to schedule our time. But that darn computer would occupy all his time if I let it. Still *sigh*.

Anyway, we'll have a computer-free couple of days, as we're going to the church's retreat this weekend up in the mountains. I'm looking forward to hikes, knitting, playing board games and there are rumors that someone's going to be calling contra dances. We're sharing a room with Mr W's friend and his mom, so he is thrilled.

Should be fun.



I'll leave you with this picture of my ONE yellow pear tomato plant this year. As you can see, it had a great year - of vegetative growth. Yes, there are a couple of tomatoes even. But mostly leaves and stems. You can see the hose for scales (and the weeds, does that help?). I won't plant this kind of tomato again. I loved and actually used the grape tomatoes I've planted for the two previous years, so will go with those in the future.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Four cuke-a-lopes, one cantaloupe


Yes, I am aware that cucumbers and cantaloupe are both members of the same plant family. Yes, I realize that planting them close together means that a pollinator might go from one to the other. 

But, geez, I had no idea I could get cuke-a-lopes. Or Canta-bers, I suppose. At least I've gotten a couple of the regular round kind. Stay tuned for what these look and taste like when cut open. I'll let you know.

I did make jam yesterday and it tastes great!! I was limited by the amount of low-sugar pectin I had on hand, but still got plenty of little jars to give away. Yippee!

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Jam redux, pickles too


I blame it on the pectin box. Two weeks ago I bought some peaches and pickling cucumbers from the farmer's market and set to work making jam and refrigerator pickles. I kind of like making jam. My first attempt turned out really well and I had hoped to repeat my success, and even give some as gifts this year. I added ginger and cinnamon and really liked the flavor.

Fast forward to two weeks ago, and I've skinned and cut up the peaches using a reference I got off the internet. I look up how many cups of peaches and sugar to use and figure I should check the pectin box and go with that. I'm still astonished that the recipe was something like 3.75 cups peaches and 5 cups of sugar. I didn't have enough white sugar (which is probably why things went awry) so used brown for 2 cups of it.

The darn stuff never set up properly. The box said it might take a few days, so I opened a jar the other day, and the stuff is that kind of stretchy sort of gel. Ick. Out it goes under the banner of experience. I've got some low sugar pectin and will try again today. It was too gross to save, so I'm not going to save it.

I had bought some pickling mix to make refrigerator pickles. I bought it because it made only two quarts, which is plenty of pickles for this house for the three months pickles stay good. Easy to make, good flavor, but deemed too salty by Mr W, who is the main pickle eater in the house. Out they go, and I'll find a recipe where I can adjust the salt and use the dill I got from a friend's garden.

It's a learning process, isn't it? I'm thankful there isn't a lot riding on these mistakes. I suppose in the old days, both things would be eaten and I'd be thankful for them.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Finally


It has been forever and a day since I felt excited to start a knitting project, but maybe the cool nights really are the thing that triggers it in me. Also, I received a birth announcement from my dad's girlfriend's son and his wife (how to shortcut the name for that relationship?) for the birth of their daughter. This is the Lacy Julian Hat and I believe that link will only work if you are registered with Ravelry. Isn't it sweet? And more to the point with my knitting these days, doesn't it look like something that could be knit in a weekend? I'm thinking something in a very soft variegated color scheme, with a couple of my littlest handmade buttons sewn on. 

My local yarn shop is having a sale this weekend, too, so it all fits together nicely. Since I'm posting pictures, here's a recent bracelet.


Candy pinks. I'm getting a kick out of making these. I think I've said that about a hundred times, so I'll stop. 

What else. I was called in as a mediator (I say that tongue in cheek) to talk to Mr W over at his dad's house. Seems Mr W hasn't been turning in all of his assignments, and the school has a system where parents can check all of their kids' work. I noticed he was missing a couple of things, and texted his dad to make sure those got done. 

One of the things that has always irked me a bit about my ex is his impulsiveness. However, when he jumped right on the "the kid is off of TV and the computer until this is turned around", I found myself relieved that he acted so decisively. I wondered if I would have done the same thing. I may have waffled more and waited until the infraction was larger? But his dad did the right thing to get Mr W's attention. 

So we talked about getting organized, and the kid needs to bring home all of his homework, even if it is done already, so we can see it. I think we're all on the same page. Mr W walked me out to my car, and I thought it was really interesting coming from this ever-maturing 11 year old boy when he said, "I just thought that I needed to stand up to him for some of this stuff". He was implying (and I largely believe him and it will all get sorted out) that the grade viewer thing online wasn't complete and that he (Mr W) was correct on some of his points. Fair enough. I told him he still needed to pick his battles, and that things would go more smoothly with his dad if he was cooperative and helpful on the little things. 

Welcome to middle school.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Better

My ankle (or "cankle" as one dog park friend called it - calf + ankle looking) is much better. Thanks for the well wishes. I thought at the time it happened that it wasn't too serious and sure enough the swelling is down a lot. I might get a good-sized bruise out of it yet, which is always a conversation starter :-)

What else. We are making the transition to Mr W's middle school schedule reasonably well. I've been getting up 15 (just a puny 15) minutes earlier and I have felt it. Or so I think. After two weeks of it (on school days) I woke up last Friday a little before the alarm and took that as a good sign. However, I've also been in sort of a rut of waking up in the middle of the night and having trouble falling back to sleep. Nothing's wrong, I'm not anxious, I just can't fall back to sleep. It's frustrating, and hopefully will turn around soon.

Work is good. I handed in another manuscript to my boss so we can get that study published. It's a sometimes painful process, the editing and the back and forth about how things should be worded. He's nice about it, but it can be a long process. We've got two other authors this time around who will want to (and should) have input, but at least the ball is rolling. This means I can go back to the lab and do lab stuff, which is my favorite part of the job. Try this, try that, run samples, get data. I know it's not for everyone, but I do like it.

The bracelet stuff has taken a lot of my free time lately, and I'm still not sure how I feel about it. I need to promote the stuff, because just listing items on Etsy doesn't go very far. I use their within-site advertising, so if someone searches "button bracelet" my stuff will be at the top of the page, and that gets some views, but so far not many sales. So I'm beefing up my blog presence at my other blog, and trying to make those connections with people who make things out of polymer clay, mostly. They are by and large warm and friendly people and that makes it not so much like work. So much interesting stuff out there.

But it's hard to know when to stop with the checking and promoting and what works and what doesn't. I'm still not in a spot where I feel like my efforts translate into selling my stuff. So far that, and feedback about pictures that I post, are the signs of "success" in this for me. However, I do still get a kick out of making the stuff. I love it when a piece comes together and all the parts look good. I feel like I need to focus more on that, but would really like for this little hobby to at least pay for itself.

And for heaven's sake, don't take the above paragraph as a plea for you to please go over and buy something. Don't do that.

In the meantime, I have not played my banjo enough, and am making a concerted effort to practice more. I hate feeling guilty about not practicing, and really don't want that to be my motivation. I want to practice because I enjoy it.

I have had some insights about the garden this year that I will share in another post. Growing veggies didn't go quite as I had hoped this year. My tomato plant is monstrous, but with few fruits. The powdery mildew came early, and I probably, because I planted cukes near my cantaloupe, have some weird melon-cuke hybrids. The fruits between the two plants are more cylindrical than the first melons I  harvested. More on this later.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Ice, rest, elevate...and I forgot the last one

I got hit in the back of the knees at the dog park today and the front of my ankle was bent a little further than it wanted to go. A ballerina I am not! So it's sore, but I am not incapacitated, and it will hopefully be back to its old self in a couple of days. I've got some ice on it and actually have it elevated. For now.

That stuff happens so fast. I think everyone in our little group has been taken out by a dog at one point or another. More than once for some of us. Darn dogs.

It's funny how if someone goes down like that, it creates quite a kerfuffle with the dogs and many want to get right in there and see what's going on, my Sally included. The offending goofball of a dog (he absolutely earns that title in everyday life as well, well the goofball part) was utterly clueless about what he did. So funny. I can't be mad at a dog who has no clue.

My dog park peeps were totally awesome in making sure I was OK, and even made kindly pests of themselves to encourage me to at least run cold water on it from the spigot in the park. That felt pretty good, so I went home and got the ice. I appreciate their concern and will tell them again when I see them.

I made a bunch of new button-clay bracelets that I'll be posting on the Etsy site over the next few days and also on my other blog. It's very satisfying to make these. When it all comes together, I really like the effect.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

The new schedule

Mr W is one week with his dad, and one week with me. He has to be dropped off around 7:20 am and school gets out at 2:25. Ack. We are still in the adjustment phase, to be sure. It's really nice to get to work around 7:40, but the last couple of days we've been flying out of the house with me saying, "C'mon, we're gonna be late!!!" Yesterday we got stopped by a train for about 5 minutes, which was enough to make him just about late, but it was OK.

It'll be fine, but I am still getting used to getting up a little earlier so I can have my coffee and goof around on the computer for a while. Tonight is the back to school night and they have a 2.5 hour program where the parent goes through each of the kid's classes in order, for 8-10 minutes. I'm looking forward to it, but it's gonna be a long day and I'll need to schedule a strategically-timed caffeine infusion for about 2 pm.

What else. Oh, this and that. I made peach jam but it's not setting up yet. I followed the directions from the pectin box and it took so much sugar I'm kind of grossed out (3.75 cups fruit and 5 cups of sugar). I've got some low sugar pectin and will use that with the rest of the peaches this weekend. I ran out of sugar, otherwise I'd have pressed on. :-)

Work is a little monotonous. I'm rounding third on a paper that I'm writing, and would really like to be back in the lab WORKING as opposed to writing, so I'm getting a bit antsy. Almost done, though, and then I can get back there.

OK, I need to get going. Hope things are good in your world. I'm doing so many social media things between this blog and the bracelet stuff that I need to set up a posting schedule. Not there yet, but soon, and then I'll be here every other day, like I would like to be.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

More flower pictures


I bought a packet of burgundy sunflower seeds and one of them, after a slow start, has grown into a behemoth of a plant. Beautiful flowers, but the thing is probably 8' x 8'. The bees love it, and the flowers are a very pleasant dark red color.


Here's a view from the side of the plant. You can see the one flower that's facing the camera in the upper right 1/4 of the picture. It has more blooms now, and seems like it might tip over, but I think it'll be OK. Maybe next year I'll stake them out so they stay a little straighter. 

If you're interested in winning the bracelet of your choice from my Etsy site, here's a link to the blog post at my other blog that has the details. You can enter up until 9 pm Mountain Time Wednesday.