Saturday, March 31, 2012


Well, it's Saturday and I'm looking forward to lots of puttering about in the house and yard. The dog is snoring at my feet. Happy camper.

On tap today is cleaning out my garden beds. I thought I should leave last year's growth on so that if/when it snows again that the young plants would be protected. However, they've just gone ahead and poked right through, so I guess I'll clean things out today. I am thrilled (THRILLED, I tell you) to have made the decision to sign up to have the trash hauling company take away my compostable yard waste. Wahoo! I always seem to have stalks and woody stuff that simply accumulates instead of composting, and now I can get it outta here. I'll keep a compost pile for easy stuff like grass, leaves and kitchen scraps, but the other stuff will be gone.

I'm making good progress on painting my fence, so need to continue with that. The house needs some attention on the inside, and I need to go to the grocery and hardware stores. Just little chore things that aren't urgent and I like not having to absolutely get any of it finished.

Tonight I'm going to play music at my banjo instructor's place with other students and friends of hers. The last time I did this I had a lot of fun, so am looking forward to that.

Finally, I've been looking for a summer sweater project, and am thinking of this:

I'm thinking making mods so that I just do the drop stitch pattern all the way down the sweater, and not do the sleeves below the yoke, so it would be short-sleeved. I need to look through my stash to see if I've got enough of the right kind of yarn to do this. I'm thinking some kind of cotton blend, worsted weight. The pattern uses a strand of lace and a strand of sport weight.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

I'd dye my hair pink too

When my sister Kris was sick and going through chemo, I was amazed and impressed at how the families on her street rallied and brought them meals several nights a week for over a year.

Because of that, I signed up to be on my church's meal committee. When someone's got a condition where getting meals dropped off would help, the word goes out and we sign up through a website called Take Them A Meal. Easy peasy.

I admit it is awkward for me to deliver the food. I would much rather do a drop and dash than engage people in conversation, for some reason. I guess I feel like I'm not really coming over for a visit, I don't want to impose, I'm aware that they aren't feeling well and I don't want to force them to make small talk. It's been my experience that if they are home and up, the recipient invites me in and does make small talk. I guess if I felt too ill to chat, I wouldn't answer the door...

Anyway, I've been delivering a meal a week for a family for the last three weeks. The first two times, no one was home, but yesterday as I was putting the meal in the cooler on the front stoop, the mom/patient opened the door. I offered to bring the stuff in because it was heavy, and she thanked me. I had my prescription sunglasses on, which make me look like a biker chick, but that's another story, and she said, "I'm sorry, do I know you?" Yikes, strangers delivering food. I flipped my glasses up and said, "I'm Mr W's mom". Oh yes, I didn't recognize you.

When she answered the door, I noticed that she had cut her hair and dyed it shocking pink. I didn't ask, but I presume she'll lose it over the course of the chemo. I thought the pink was such a great idea. It lets her thumb her nose at the disease and the process, and acknowledges the hair falling out with a "bring it on" mentality. Her prognosis is good, and that's always good news. She's got a son Mr W's age.

On my drive back into town, I was grateful for the dose of perspective.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Kitchen designer

The kitchen designer came and looked at my kitchen yesterday. She asked how much I wanted to spend, and said that it was very doable. She took some measurements and will take them back to her office to draw up some ideas. It's a pretty small space, so I don't imagine that there will be big revelations, but there were a few things that I'd like to see drawn out (literally).

For one thing, the cabinets are original. This means they are shallow (18" deep from the wall instead of 24") and that the counters are about 4" lower than what is done today. We talked about getting more counter space by making the new cabinets turn the corners onto the presently bare walls, and I'm excited to see what that looks like. It sorts of feels like there will be a lot less space in the middle of the room, but that's fine.

I'll get a dishwasher, even if I don't use it much for just me. It will be nice to have it when I'm cooking several things and would otherwise have to stop and do dishes to make room for the next recipe. I don't particularly like my stove, so I'll probably get another. I like my fridge just fine, but I'm wondering if I should replace that as well to... what, start fresh with new appliances? The designer did say there are smaller fridges out there, and it does dominate the room, so maybe I'll check it out. I could live with keeping both stove and fridge if it comes to that.

Anyone want to weigh in on appliance colors? I do like how bright my kitchen is with its yellow cabinets and white appliances. Does anyone just love their stainless steel appliances?

I'm going to call the builder the designer recommended, and then talk to the builder that did Mr W's room when I first moved in and see what it's going to take to do both the kitchen and the deck. Cha-ching (in the money way, not really the 'wow I just got something great' way).

It struck me as I drove back to work yesterday that I can stay here if I want. That I'm meeting more and more people who are part of this neighborhood, part of the community here, and I am part of it too. It was sort of like the feeling when one rides without training wheels and thinks, "Hey, I'm doing it!"

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Getting the word out

This is my favorite of the last round of bracelets. I've gotten two of them photographed and up on my Etsy shop. It's funny, I really like the lighting for the pulled-back shot this time (not shown here), and it was because I set up the picture next to the grow lights. Well, the vase with the twigs happened to be sitting next to the grow lights, but whatever.

I went ahead and bought an ad on Facebook as well. I made a page on FB for Physaria Designs with some pictures and links to the Etsy site. FB has it set up so you can target who sees your ads, and I did really rudimentary selections of: women over 18, with interests like crafting, gardening, reading, etc. (gee, like me!). I pay something like 50 cents each time someone clicks on (or likes) my ad, and I set a limit of $5 a day for a week, just to see how it goes.

I think it's doing what I want it to do, which is get my Etsy shop out there for people to see. I set it up around 7 pm a couple of days ago, and there is a little flurry of "likes" that I get notified about via email that has happened after 7 pm. I think after that I "use up" my money.

This hasn't resulted in any sales yet, but I'll give it a couple of weeks and see what happens.

Monday, March 26, 2012

That's where I planted those bulbs

Most years, when it gets to be Spring, I'm annoyed with myself for not making the effort to plant bulbs the year before. But last year I finally bought some AND got them in the ground. Sometimes the second part is sort of tricky. I'm a fan of the clump of color, as opposed to spacing them out, which would require more digging than I'm usually willing to do. 

I was outside a couple of days ago and saw these had come up. My first thought was, "Oh, I forgot I had planted those." I wonder if the squirrels are so dense. I did remember planting tulips by the back door, and those are coming up nicely. The other surprise was going out to look at these yesterday and there were several daffodil leaves starting to poke up behind the iris. Oh yeah...

I watered everything but my grass yesterday. It's been really dry this month. March is usually a wet one around here. We were talking about it at the dog park yesterday, and a friend said that we're still at normal or a little above precipitation levels for the season. We got a couple of good dumps of snow early on, but it seems like a long time ago.

In other news, I've made an appointment with the kitchen designer for tomorrow afternoon and am pretty excited. Mr W had a friend sleep over Saturday night, and it reminded me of yet another thing I'd like to do to this house. My living room runs the most of the length house (25') and I've thought about getting a wall put up with (yet another) pocket door to make a living room which could sort of be a living room/rec room/guest room and then have the other side as the dining room, which would also have the doorway to the (to be built) deck. Sorry if this description is lacking. I'm still mulling over ideas, and they're coming out as blog posts.

This push to DO something to the house is exciting. It's also an admission that I'm OK being here for a while. 

Friday, March 23, 2012

Dog food

This is my beloved Sal, taken this morning. Sally the Doodle. She turned five last December, and has been a happy healthy dog. It's good for me in many ways, but I am grateful to have her here especially when Mr W's with his dad.

Anyway, I went to visit a friend yesterday who is housesitting at this really nice place a little north of town, on one of the few lakes in the area. There aren't any natural lakes around here; they're all for irrigation, so she said the water goes up and down throughout the season. Nice digs though. Her friend is in Hawaii for 4 months, so S and her husband P and their two dogs get to do some lakeside living for a bit.

She's had the misfortune of having two dogs die before their time in a pretty short time frame. She and P are fans of German shepherds, and after the second dog died, she decided to get a puppy from a reputable breeder. That puppy is about 11 months now, and my oh my, what a handsome guy. I should have taken his picture. He is a beautiful dog. We got to talking and she said she is feeding him a raw diet.

She started it when one of her other dogs had health problems that were eased by the diet, and she just kept going. The prep would be prohibitive for me (unless I could make two portions and turn around and cook Mr W's share....). Her distain for kibble was strong, and it's making me think I should at least look into whether changing to a higher quality kibble for Sally would be good for her health. The question is: is a better quality food (and can we measure that just by the sticker price?) beneficial for a healthy dog?

It's hard to say because she's already healthy, you know? And down the line, if she does get sick, it'd be difficult to attribute that to her diet. I don't buy the cheapest food on the shelf, but I do buy Iams for large breeds at Target. This was a conscious decision, after trying to buy a more expensive kibble at what we call "the dog food store" when she was a puppy and having them be out of the brand, twice in space of a few weeks. I didn't want to vary her food too much, so I decided to feed her something I could get easily all the time.

For her part, Sally's a good eater. Scarfs down whatever's in the bowl, so I'm sure she'd be on board with a menu change, should it come around. If anyone reading this would like to weigh in, please do.

In other news, I checked the want ad for Graycie the campervan and as of this morning it had gotten 355 views. Not bad.

Thursday, March 22, 2012


I got Graycie the campervan's classified ad (she wants to meet someone online) posted last night. One of the sites is called The Samba, and has all sorts of stuff for fans of old VWs. I checked this morning and it had 135 views in less than 12 hours. Not bad. It was free too. Take that, craigslist! Ha.

The impetus to finally do this is that I want the deck built off of my living room before my brother and his family come to visit in August. And, I'll have some money for such projects once the van is sold. However, thinking about the deck has started sort of a cascade of home improvement wonderings that I've been thinking about lately.

I am fortunate to live in a part of town where it is not uncommon at all to see people adding on to their houses because they don't want to leave the area. It's also getting more common to see a little old house for sale, then demolished to make way for a new (often ostentatiously larger, but not always) house. So I think it's safe to say that almost any improvements I make will increase the value of the house and I'll "get my money back".

So I've started to think about updating my kitchen. It's one of those spaces where things could be arranged better (doesn't everyone store their crockpots on the floor? It's temporary). You can see how the stove (without a hood, which I would like to have) sits at an angle to prevent the user from burning the cupboards above. Good design? I put that little table next to it when I rearranged my living room, and it is really nice to have a flat space next to the stove. It does tend to accumulate things, though. 

Anyway, if you look at the door to the bathroom, you can see there is nothing along the wall so that the door can fully open. I'm thinking of having someone make it into a pocket door, even if it has to be built a little bit away from the wall. Then I could have some more counter space and cabinets. 

That's one idea. I met someone through a friend who does kitchen design, and I'd like to have her come over and give me some ideas. I admire the ability to see the possibilities this way. The other thing that really does need to be done is to get new windows for the place. I've counted, there's only seven, so it shouldn't be too expensive. 

I've got my stack of This Old House magazines close by to get some ideas for the kitchen. I like simple styles and neutral colors for the cabinets, floor and countertops, but I've got a thing for those sheets of glass tile, so I'm pretty sure I'll have to do a backsplash with those. 

And that's as far as I've gotten. I'll have to get some kind of a home improvement loan, but the credit union can help with that. I think I've talked myself into feeling that it's a good investment. 

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Screen free Tuesday update

Well, first things first, these are my seed starts this year. I love the cooperation shown by all the stuff I planted. Some stuff hasn't come up yet, but a lot has, and some of that was from seed packs labeled "Packed for 2006". I mean they're seeds, what's a few years in the big scheme of things?

I especially liked how the zinnias came up in seemingly a matter of hours (it was probably 3 days) and are growing so fast one can almost watch it.  I still need to find a cover for the tray; I end up watering a lot and I'm sure the conditions could be a little more consistent if I did have a clear cover. I am thankful my kid likes broccoli. We were eating dinner (which included broccoli) and I showed him the sprouts. He said he knew that we ate the unopened flowers, but what would happen if you let the plant go? My scientist heart quickened.

I knew I had him for about 15 seconds, so I quickly explained what bolting was and told him we'd let one of these broccolis bolt in the garden this spring. "Cool". Yes it is.

Due to parenting schedule changes, I hadn't had Mr W for a couple of Tuesdays, so my screen-free Tuesday nights campaign had to start from scratch and included moping, tears, and outrage. They've got three (!) weeks of standardized testing that started yesterday, so he thought he deserved a reward. I held firm, and on the way home from the dog park he asked if we could go out after dinner and get ice cream. At that point I knew he had surrendered to his fate, and he was good company for the rest of the evening.

He wanted to see SFTs as a punishment, and I told him he could do that, although I considered them an opportunity for us to do something together. And for him to think of other things to do instead of defaulting to the screened things. I hope he eventually gets that. I think he will.

We did get ice cream, and went into the Culver's instead of using the drive through. I ran into a former student working the counter, and she acknowledged how she didn't do so good in the class, but was going back to school in the fall after taking a semester off. I told her I thought that was great, and later thought how very many things community college students often have going on in addition to school. I think all of the students I had in my classes worked, many of them had full time jobs. A lot had kids or other family obligations. So, bully for her. She's a smart cookie and can go into whatever she wants.

Monday, March 19, 2012

As close as it gets

I've got room for one seed starting tray, and it has its own light source that I made the frame for after seeing them advertised and saying, "I can probably do that". It's been so warm here (most everywhere, it seems) that it felt like I was slow getting anything started, although mid-March is exactly the time (two months before our frost date).

Most things I'll grow will be direct-sown, and I'll buy a few starts. But I wanted to feel like I was doing SOMETHING while it's 70+ degrees outside. So, after careful consideration, I started the following vegetable/fruit seeds:
Cantaloupe - two varieties, both supposedly early
Broccoli - two kinds
Lettuce - I usually buy starts, but we'll see how this goes

And then I thought I'd start some flower seeds and see how that goes:
Zinnias - two of the giant varieties
Monarda - got these at a talk, so I'm not sure if it's Bergamot or the red garden Monarda
Sweet peas - I thought I'd trail them up the old clothesline posts that are in the yard

Let's see, I started the seeds a few days ago, and the broccoli and zinnias are already sprouted. That's as close to instant gratification as it gets, IMO, and it makes me feel good to be growing this stuff.

In other news, I'm going to again make a push to sell Gracie the campervan. I took her to the shop because she was leaking in several places (poor thing) and was asked if I had let her sit most of the winter. Yes, because I was a little concerned she'd overheat or break down - irrational, I see now. My most wonderful mechanic gave her a clean bill of health, and she is ready to go. I've been driving her around more, and found the pictures I took last summer (when she was freshly vacuumed) that I'll use for a classified ad. I'm going to post it on one or two of the sites specifically for VW fans and I think that is the way to go. I have mixed feelings about selling the van, and if I could have it and not have to deal with the maintenance,  I would. But that part of it is a pain (as I knew it would be) and when I'm honest about it, I don't want to camp by myself right now. I spend enough time by myself, I don't want to take a trip to do it.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Proceeding after the procedure

I had a procedure done at the doctor's yesterday, and I guess it was about as I expected. Some discomfort, but no pain after she administered the local anesthetic. Phew! I hate that pain stuff. She was tops; I like this doctor a lot. She's been in the business for a long time, but still gives a hoot in a way that I don't think can be faked. 

Poor thing, the morning I was supposed to have this thing done back in February, she fell on the ice and as a result had to have shoulder surgery. She still had an immobilizer thing on, but could easily do the moves for the procedure. What a trooper! She even hugged me when we were done - how sweet.

I took the day off from work, and Mr W hung out at his dad's office for the time I was at the doctor, so I picked him up and we headed back to the house. Nothing hurt, but when the even low grade anxiety of a doctor's visit bleeds away, there's something else left there. I was a little tired, but didn't want to sleep. I realized about then that having to have this thing done had been weighing on me a little. Not because of any complications or big discoveries, but because it would be uncomfortable. 

So the release/relief of having it done flowed right into this creative stint where I got a lot done. I think no small part of it stems from feeling normally like I need to "get things done" and don't have time to play. So, I assembled some bracelets, and did some button photography. 

Ta-da! New bracelets that aren't quite finished yet.. I made these to be for smaller wrists, so will take off the last two glue pads (the second one from the bottom needs one more watch part that I need to glue on). I'll also replace the clasp with something nicer. 

These are a little different from the others in that I wanted to use two of the little glass cabochons for pops of color, four clay medallions, and no buttons. At some point this weekend, I'll get them photographed and up on the Etsy shop

I've been making lots of buttons, so it was time to get some of those photographed. I'm still goofing around with a display/packaging card for them, so went ahead and took pictures without the card. The photography part takes a long time. If I'm going to keep doing this, I need to get better image editing software. 

I hope at some point to get the buttons packaged and make a little sales pitch to either the yarn shop that I like, or the sewing store downtown. I'd like to have it all together (it, not me...) so that I have a little display stand that is stocked with buttons that I can show a store owner.

In other news, I got plans. I'm going to our St. Patrick's Day parade in a couple of hours, and am meeting friends from the dog park for lunch afterwards. Then tonight, there's a concert at the place I like to see music at (starts at 7:30, is coordinated by friends). No green beer for me, though. I was put on some meds that say "Do not drink alcohol", so I'll be sipping soda. There was a time when this would feel weird, but it's no biggie. The weather continues to be very spring like, so I'll try to get some yard work done as well. It's supposed to snow in a few days, consistent with it being Colorado.

Friday, March 16, 2012


I've got a doctor's appointment this morning. I'm getting a minor procedure done that's minor enough that I can drive myself to and from the appointment and expect to have a normal day. Once it's done, I shouldn't have to fuss with this issue again for a while, so that's good.

This appointment had been scheduled for a few weeks ago, but about 30 minutes before my appointment, the office called to say the Dr. had slipped on the ice and hurt her shoulder. Ouch.

I want to say this next part without seeming like I'm feeling sorry for myself. It just hit me that I do this kind of thing these days with minimal knowledge sharing, because I don't feel there's an appropriate person occupying the appropriate spot in my life. If this thing were serious, I'd feel compelled to tell a few people. As it is, it's minor, and it felt kind of odd that there was no one to tell.

The weather here has been great lately. I'm going to get out this weekend and plant some lettuce and broccoli in the raised beds. I've picked out the seeds I want to start inside, and am including some zinnias that will benefit from the early start. I love those big zinnias. So hardy, so persistent, so non-fussy.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

A legitimate question

We're still doing a modified parenting schedule this week, and it was nice to see Mr W when I picked him up yesterday. When I found him on the playground, he was happily climbing on one of the structures, by himself. I think as an only child (at least until his dad remarried last year) he's gotten good at entertaining himself. I noticed there were a couple of other kids his age around, but he said later that they were the kinds of kids that pick fights and try to blame others. I'd rather hang by myself, too.

As Mr W was getting ready for bed last night, he was doing his usual electron imitation. He's here, then he's there, "did you get your pajamas?" "no", "get a book" "OK". Here and there. My dad used to call my sister and I Wandering Bamboozlers when we did this. I was looking at something on the computer and he asks, "So, I know this is kind of a personal question, but why did you and my dad get divorced?"

This comes up every once in a while, and I always feel like I need to be honest, yet not divulge what isn't really his business at the moment. So I said something to the effect that it was because of problems grownups sometimes have, and that it was important for him to know that the decision to go ahead and get the divorce was a difficult one to make.

I also told him that it's so important to me to make sure he's got two parents that are committed to raising him, but I don't think it's ever even occurred to him that the situation could be otherwise. He takes it for granted. That's a good thing.

But being a kid, and having the attention span of a kid, I was getting ready to launch into more thoughts about his dad and I being there for him and how important that is to us, and he was already talking about something else.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Saved by technology

I looked forward yesterday to going to another old time music jam with the group that meets weekly. My previous experience had left me frustrated, and this time I was looking forward to my teacher attending the jam as well.

Earlier that day, I recalled how someone at another jam had a tablet computer with him, which I presume he used to look up information about the songs that were played. This made a little lightbulb light up over my head and I thought I'd bring my laptop to the jam so I could look up the chords. Then at the dog park, E suggested I just use my phone for the same purpose. Brilliant!

So I settled in at the jam, took out my phone, and saw a text from my teacher that she was unable to come to the jam because she was nursing a sick boyfriend. *sigh* I ordered a beer, started playing and it all worked out. Most of the core group knows the songs so well that all one of them has to do is start playing, and everyone knows what it is. Last night, they called out the name, I'd look up the song and try to follow along.

These people play pretty darn fast. But I don't want them to slow down, I need to be able to speed up my playing. As it was, I just strummed in time instead of doing the finger picking with my right hand, and concentrated on trying to do the chords. Most of the time, I am proud to say, I could follow visually where we were on the chord chart - which is saying a lot for me! I even made my hand make the right chords in the right order a few times - success!

I feel like I'm better prepared now to go to these things, and will have my trusty phone with me to help with the chords. There are over a hundred songs (easily) that they choose from, so I have no hope of getting them all learned immediately. This link is to a site with the chords, and I suggest you go there if you'd like a laugh because of the names of some of these songs. My personal favorite: "Squirrel Heads and Gravy".

And my teacher did show up eventually. She came without her banjo, which told me that she thought it was important to be there because I was there, even if it was for the tail end of the evening. I appreciate that. I offered my banjo to her to play for a couple of songs, and she got to play a bit.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Lighter fare

I had to share this picture, seen on my SIL's Facebook page that makes me smile. I don't think my dear Sally has been this tired, but she's young yet.

I like the mindset of someone who would think to do this...

Please read

March is colorectal cancer awareness month. Because my sister died much too young of colon cancer that likely went undetected for years before she felt sick enough to get it checkout out (and by then it was too late), I'm spreading the word that all eligible people should get screened. She was 43 when she was diagnosed, and our family history was too spotty (rumors that grandma had something removed from her colon years ago) to prompt us to get early screenings.

At the tender age of 46, I've had two colonoscopies, and both have found nothing amiss. Yes, the prep is unpleasant, but not painful. Don't plan any errands for this time. The first one I had about a month after Kris was diagnosed, which set me up for the every-five-years plan. The second one was normal as well, and this brings me a peace of mind because immediate family members of colon cancer victims are at a higher risk of developing the disease themselves.

The thing about colon cancer is that it is relatively easy (once you get the camera in there) to diagnose and treat IF it's caught early. That's why getting a colonoscopy is so important. This link is from a young woman who had symptoms for a few years before her cancer was discovered and treated. It contains the expected joke or two that involves the backside, just so you're ready. The CDC has a page as well that describes who should get screened and how it works.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

I pick fruit

If you're having icky weather in your part of the world, don't look at the forecast for the next week for Fort Collins. No one here is naive enough to think that we're done with snow for the season, but we're supposed to have several days of spring-like weather that makes my thoughts turn to this year's garden.

Two years ago, I got a couple of bookcases from work, knocked the backs off and made raised beds out of them. Overall, they have been a good choice for this project. Last year I reinforced the corners with wood screws, but missed on one corner, and that corner let go over the winter. Not a lot, but it needed to be shored up.

I am a big fan of rebar, metal poles 3/8" or 1/2" in diameter. I bought a bunch of 3' pieces to shore up the two beds. For the loose corner, I dug the soil away and then, in a move that must have looked less than poised, pushed on the side of the raised bed with my foot, and pounded two pieces of rebar to hold the vertical side of the raised bed in place. It worked fine, and I reinforced the other sides as well.

Last year I bought some landscape timbers to use for edging, and ended up not using them, so they sat for a while, and then I thought I'd make a third raised bed from them.

This is from last July, but shows one layer of timbers. I've got enough timbers for three layers, and I started putting that together yesterday. The weather was so nice that I was surprised to find the mulch still frozen on the lower left corner such that I couldn't really move it all yet. 

It's going to be a nice sized bed, and I've been thinking about what I should put there. I'm OK with narrowing the kinds of stuff I plant. I'm growing all the vegetables that Mr W and I will eat in the two existing beds, and I'm more than OK with buying veggies at the farmers market to supplement. We both love fresh fruit in the summertime, though, so I'm going to plant this third bed with strawberries. I'll also ramp up our cantaloupe plantings. You can see the raspberry patch between the two beds that's been nice to have, although not much of the fruit makes it into the house because we eat it as it's picked. The dog really likes raspberries too.

And since I like roses, I'm going to stick a new, to be determined variety of rose bush in there as well. I've got a bunch of compost that I can put on the bottom of this bed, and was talking to friends at the dog park who mentioned a couple of people with trucks that might help with soil hauling. 

I'm going to get the deck built off the living room (so help me), and will have it built so it's sturdy enough to support a grape vine for shade. With the apple tree, that'll be five kinds of fruit we'll grow ourselves in this so-so fruit growing part of the world. Now, if I could find the space for a cherry tree....

Friday, March 9, 2012


I'm still a podcast junkie. My favorites include Radiolab, NPR's Talk of the Nation (which has Science Friday), Harry Shearer's LeShow, a BBC Medical podcast called Medical Matters, a knitting one called Cast On, and a few others.

I was looking around for some new material and found the Freakonomics podcast. I love a show that can hold my attention for an entire hour. Their tagline is "The hidden side of everything". As in you might think you know that A leads to B which leads to C, but you may not have known that this thing affected B, so it very well could have been D, but was C instead.

And I, for one, find that kind of thing endlessly fascinating. I love hearing about the connections between seemingly unrelated things. The first show I listened to had to do with how people rate more expensive wines as tasting better, but if they don't know how much a bottle costs, the vast majority of people can't tell cheaper wine from expensive. Then it had a story of a restaurant where a woman was served a salad, and there was a dead mouse in it, and used that to illustrate how if companies take responsibility for crazy stuff like that, it not only allows the company to examine how it does things (as in there were probably five people who should have seen the mouse on its way to the table), it also makes people more loyal when the company owns up to their mistakes.

So interesting. Their blog has a bit on gas prices. Some folks want to blame the president for high gas prices, but the post today walks through how it's (not surprisingly) more complicated than that.

I'm a Meetup gal this weekend, and otherwise hope to do a bunch of bracelet/button stuff. I worked on getting a packaging card for the buttons yesterday, and it's almost there. Tweak and print, tweak and print. The Meetups include a parent's night out with the single parent group, board games with another group (something almost out of my comfort zone, but sounded fun), and lunch with a social group from my church. I'm blessed and lucky.

Oh, and I got the word yesterday that my contract will be extended for six months. My reaction was sort of "yes!" then "wait a minute". But I'll take it. If they are sure about the six months, it seems that they very well might find the funds to add a second six months. As it is, I'm good until the end of January 2013. I had a good talk with my boss yesterday, and I know he'll do what he can to keep me on. We talked about some future projects, and there's some new stuff in there that sounds really interesting to me.

Maybe I should buy a lottery ticket today.

Thursday, March 8, 2012


The school requires kids to get a booster of the Tdap vaccine when they turn 11. I made the appointment, and since he was with his dad, I called yesterday morning to tell him I'd pick him up from school and take him to the appointment. I could hear the disappointment in his voice. :-(

As we drove over to the doctor's office, he wasn't nonchalant, but seemed OK with it. We've talked about how his grandparents had polio when they were young, and how a jab protects a person by giving a shout to their immune system. A dress rehearsal as it were.

He gets up on the exam table and starts to get worried. The very nice nurse tells him to squeeze my hands with his. Ouch! Strong kid, but that's fine. And then she says, "OK, all done!" And he says, "Really?"

I love that. The good shot-givers get in and get out and it's over before the kid knows it. He even got to pick a prize from the prize bin.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Mine! All mine I tell you

I had coffee with a former coworker last week. He's got this great combination of creative and business experience that I found really helpful in terms of the bracelet thing. Especially the sales and marketing stuff. My dad was a salesperson, and I joke that I'm still permanently scarred (or so I like to think) from being forced to go door to door as a 5 year old to sell, of all things, packets of garden seeds. I didn't get it, or didn't have it, or something. Anyway, sales has never been my thing, so I'm impressed when I talk to people who do it well (i.e. in a way that doesn't feel slick or manipulative).

When I told him I wanted to name my little enterprise Physaria, after the name of the plant I studied in school, he was nice about it, but kind of said, "Wha?" Hard to spell, doesn't mean anything to most people. Ouch. But it did get me thinking about what else I could call it. I don't want to be restricted to bracelets, but it does feel like the polymer clay is something that I want to continue to explore. ("explore" - Ha! That sounds so artsy.)

And somehow, I started worrying a little about getting a domain name in case I ever want to sell things online outside of Etsy. Dreaming big, I guess. So I thought about it, and thought some more. And didn't come up with anything. Then, it was like a name was delivered to me. I can't remember the process of getting it, it was like it just popped into my head. Sent by muse, special delivery. Thanks, muse!

The name I came up with is Stamped Clay Designs. I went to a site and purchased the name as a dot com, and it's mine. All mine! Easy as laying down some money for it. The site had all sorts of other services in terms of email and web hosting, but I'm very far away from that at this point, so will just keep those in mind for future reference.

The other thing this friend did for me was to help with packaging. We originally met because he worked as a sales rep for a paper company, and I worked for a company that made artsy rubber stamps and we printed a bunch of stuff. He was able to get me some samples of really nice cover stock that will make the button cards look very professional. I hadn't really thought about that end of it. I was more concerned with what to print on the cards.

I hope to make progress on both the button cards and photographing stuff. I've got bunches of buttons that I need to photograph. Chicken and egg, but there will be time to work on it this weekend.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

I'm so exciting!

When Mr W was little, he'd say, "I'm so exciting!" when he meant "I'm so excited!". Well, I'm excited for sure because I got an email yesterday morning from my brother R in South Carolina. He asked if I'd be around for certain dates in August for them to come to CO to visit, as he found some really good airfare prices for the four of them.

I replied back immediately - yes!

For whatever reason, it's hard to get from there to Denver. Not sure why. The fare he found was a little more than half of what it usually is. A couple minutes later, he sends another email that he went ahead and bought the tickets. Yea!!

And just like that, I've got family coming out to visit in August. They want to go cabin camping for a few days, so we'll look into that. More pressing to me is how my little house will accommodate guests. My other brother and SIL might come too (haven't heard from them yet - fingers crossed that they can make those dates), so I might need to house six.

I was thinking about sleeping arrangements, and if I bunk on the floor in Mr W's room (which I don't mind in the least) I can give J and M my room, and R and L and the girls can be in the basement. I recently made a push to make it sort of a sitting room, so it's partway there. I need to think about how to best make them comfortable down there, but it's certainly doable.

I think the visit is a good excuse to finally push to get the deck built off the living room. I've been hemming and hawing over doing it, but it's time. We do a lot of hanging out for these visits, and it would be nice to have the extra space. I also just want it for me. Every year I've been here, I feel like I hide in my house in the summer because the yard is in full sun most of the day. I'm planning on having a deck with a pergola kind of roof and placed for shade cloth (and eventually grape vines). Morning coffee on the deck - ahhh.

In other news, I did chat with my banjo instructor about how I felt lost trying to keep up with the other players at the jam last week. Turns out she's teaching me a different style from what people out here play, which is more of a three finger style, and she's teaching me a two finger style. Ooohhh. So it turns out how I'm playing is complementary, but a little different than how they play. Well, that makes sense, and I feel better about it. She's going to come with me next week and showed me how to play a couple of the songs that B gave me that they play pretty frequently. I feel better about it.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Our fox

It was a good weekend. Due to schedule changes, I had Mr W two weekends in a row. His dad wanted to take a trip. My social schedule has been open enough *sigh* that it was no problem for me do this. As I understand it, I'll have the next two weekends kid-free. There was a time when that much solo kid duty made me a little crazy, but the kid is pretty low maintenance these days.

We saw The Lorax movie on Saturday and I liked it. I had read about rampant product placement, but I didn't see it. Funny how that works. I haven't been seized by the desire to buy anything out of the ordinary, but we'll see. The ending had both Mr W and I tearing up a bit. Awww.

Yesterday, I hauled him to a Percussion Ensemble concert at the university's performing arts center. Why they have these things at 2 pm on a Sunday I have no idea, but it worked for us and we went. It's kind of pricey, with adults at $12, but kids were $1 so it seems reasonable. A few years ago, the university bought the old high school, and added the performance hall and a couple of smaller theaters. It's so nice! The acoustics are such that when the faculty person came out to introduce each piece, his voice carried in this magical way, right up to our ears. They mostly played marimbas and vibraphones, with other accent sounds. Best of all, they let us come up on stage afterwards to look at the instruments and didn't mind if we banged on stuff a bit.

I did not know this, but the mallets are covered with yarn. I took a picture with my phone to document this crafty tie-in. I'm glad we made it to the concert. Mr W was pretty attentive, I think he at least grudgingly accepts that I like to do stuff to broaden our horizons.

Oh, but the fox. Our neighborhood has a fox, who slinks around and is wiley and fun to spot. S/he is pretty bold as well, and is regularly out during the day, running down the alleys and crossing streets. I was thinking how I have no qualms with our fox, as I don't have small animals that are outside. My neighbors keep chickens, but their coop is very secure. If I could just have that fox eat the last mouse that occasionally makes its presence known inside my house, that'd be great.

Anyway, this morning I was taking Sally out to do her business first thing, and saw the fox standing on the sidewalk in front of the neighbor's house. I don't know, it was probably 50' away. Sally sees the fox, and instead of going bananas and woofing all over the place, she gives a "hey, I see you" woof and goes and does her business. The fox, for its part, sits on the sidewalk. Just plants its furry behind on the concrete and watches us. I actually did laugh out loud at how comfortable the fox is with its habitat and its fellow canines.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Short list

I've never seen the movie, but I hear now and then about things that are on people's Bucket Lists. I'll say at the start that mine is incomplete, a work in progress. I used to think about it in terms of travel, but I think travel is only part of it. It's experiences that I could have without going far, too. Things I dare myself to do, or think I should try at least once. Skydiving isn't on the list.

Certainly traveling to Europe someday is on the list. I've pondered traveling by myself. At this point in my life, the desire to do it isn't stronger than the desire not to have to do it by myself. I spend enough time alone, I don't want to travel solo as well. So, Europe. Someday, with someone or a small group. I really want to see the castles, cathedrals and museums. 

But the thing that actually appeared in my mind recently as a BL item was going to a TED conference. From their website:

"Each year, the world's leading thinkers and doers gather for an event many describe as the highlight of their year. Attendees have called it "The ultimate brain spa" and "A 4-day journey into the future, in the company of those creating it."

This year's conference is going on now, and since their blog is in my feed, I've been seeing a steady stream of wonderfully inspiring talks. I'm not sure why it's so expensive, but the cost to go to a TED conference (they do a bunch of different types and themes) is somewhere between $2,000 and $7,500. Out of my range unless something happens, like me saving for a few years of it. Since they are tapped into technology, there are ways to view talks, and simulcasts and the like that cost much less money. But I'd like to have the experience someday of feeling the energy of being around so many creative people.


In other news, Mr W and I are planning on seeing The Lorax this weekend. It's funny, I thought he might think it too childish for himself, but he wants to see it. I remember when I worked doing nature education programs back in Ohio, we'd read the book often. It's message is still relevant now. Maybe more so. It's interesting how things go in cycles. We as a society tackle a problem, things are better, and then we collectively sort of forget what got us the problem in the first place and we start doing it again. Anyway, I've heard good things about the movie, and am wondering if it will have any motivational benefits for reminding kids about the benefits of a cleaner environment. As opposed to the corporate greed thing... ahh, don't get me started.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

That's my boy

My son, the wonderful Mr W, completed the church's middle school sexuality and relationships class last night. I'm really glad he went through it, and although it embarrasses him greatly to discuss the racier parts of what was covered, I feel secure knowing he was exposed to the ideas and the vocabulary. It's like a little investment in the health of his future relationships.

As part of the last session, parents were invited to join the kids (about 20 of them) for a round of trivia, parents vs. kids. There were several categories, and each category had a 100, a 200 and a 300 point question. I volunteered to answer a question, something on relationships. When I asked her to repeat the question, Mr W says, "Hey, be quiet, that's my mom". Several parents near me were heard to utter "Aww, that's sweet."

His turn to answer a question. He picks an anatomy question for 300. His question is something along the lines of "What is the name of the female sexual organ..." He immediately turns to consult with the girls (a gesture I am proud to see). He answers correctly with that word that can rhyme with "Dolores". I say, "That's my boy!"

The parents won, but not by much. It was a fun exercise and a chance for the parents to see the camaraderie among the kids as well.

In other kid news, the P.E. teacher is starting a track program for the kids after school once a week. That, along with the running club and the science club (I keep asking if they've gotten to blow things up, and have been thus far disappointed) means the kid is finally doing a couple of after school things and his brain won't deteriorate from only doing video games with his free time. Phew! I'm pretty jazzed about him running a couple of times a week, and need to curb my enthusiasm so I don't squash his.