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


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.


Tuesday, October 23, 2012


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


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


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... :-)