Thursday, May 29, 2008

Rail Trail to the North

Yesterday evening Birding Friend and I drove up to a rail trail. She'd been there in the past during the bird-a-thon and was anxious to get out one more time before starting a second job. I'm always open to finding new places to walk, especially if someone else is driving. It was a nice wide, flat, straight path that we walked for about three miles.

She pointed out bird calls and I showed her different ferns (cinnamon, interrupted, royal, and sensitive). I spied a muskrat just as it slipped into the water. The few ATVs we saw were driven at reasonable speeds by courteous individuals. It would be a nice spot to walk with the dogs or ride a bike, but with the high gas prices it's not exactly practical.

I am always wishing that we had a more extensive trail system in my area, so it brings me pleasure to find a rail trail somewhat nearby. To see if there are any near you, visit TrailLink.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Soapnuts

Yesterday's mail brought a nice little treat. Laundrytree's soapnuts sent to me by Smellyann. I haven't tried them yet because I only do one load a week of my clothes (the dog's get their own load). I can't wait to try them, but I wonder if I can still do the vinegar? I love the idea of not producing any waste and being able to compost the nuts after using them. So stayed tuned, and I'll let y'all know how I like them.

Thanks Smellyann!!!

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Sunny Saturday


Some of my poppies have popped. I think maybe if I stood next to them long enough I could catch them in the act of going from fuzzy buds to gorgeous open flowers.


The Solomon seals hide quietly in the deep shade behind my house. They do not announce their presence with the same zeal that the poppies do, but they are well worth the extra look.




The lily-of-the-valley are filling the backyard with a lovely light scent, but I was unable to capture them on film. I brought 4 flower stalks into the house for continued enjoyment of their fine scent. My grandmother had tiny vases that were perfect for a single small flower. I wish I had them now, as my lily-of-the-valley would look much better in those tiny blue and white vases than they do in the wine glass I put them in.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Other Forms of Recycling

Esme has been regressing. When I first got her she did not mess in her crate at all. But now she will pee even if she's only in there for 4 hours. As a result I have to change her towel/blanket twice a day. I don't like running the washing machine unless I have a full load, so I decided what I need is more doggie bedding. I posted a sign in the kitchen at work inviting people to bring me their old towels or baby blankets. I would like to avoid having to buy new items for this purpose.

The next day I found a plastic bag in my mailbox when I came in. I assumed it was for the doggies until I opened it up and found 3 articles of clothing and a note from my boss asking if I liked them. Her sister is as big a shopper as she is but had decided these items weren't practical for the Texas clime. Since they didn't work for my boss she brought them in for me to try. One is a lovely, soft, brown shawl-type sweater that I adore. I haven't tried the others on yet because I am so enamoured with this one.

No one has brought me any doggie bedding yet though. Perhaps they are reluctant to air their "dirty laundry" in front of a co-worker?

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

I Heart Walking

Last night after filling all 3 of my yard waste containers and dragging them to the curb, I took both dogs for a walk. I can see it will take some getting used to, but I am happy to report that I made it through the entire circuit of my normal half hour walk. It took quite a bit longer though, what with all the dog wrangling. Esme walked at least half of it, with me carrying her while we were on the busier streets and when crossing (she's prone to stopping for no apparent reason). It's such a relief to know that I can manage it with a little patience and attention to detail (and extra poop bags).

While on the subject of walking, it seems that people these days either are not aware that there are rules dictating which side of the road you should be walking on or just don't care. I am always careful to be walking or biking on the correct side, but from what I see most people in my neighborhood do whatever they please. Sometimes I am the only person walking on the correct side, which makes me appear to be the one in the wrong! So to review:
  1. When riding a bike, you ride WITH traffic.
  2. When walking, you FACE traffic.

Any questions?

Last summer, I set a goal for myself to walk a minimum of 3 times a week. This year I am upping that goal to 4 times a week, with the exception of when class is in session. All bets are off then.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

The wonders of vinegar

I continually mention how I draw inspiration from fellow bloggers. While reading These Days in French Life, I happened upon a post in which Riana sings the praises of vinegar. I was intrigued but not overly motivated until my host teacher shared with me an article about a science fair project about dirty laundry. I did some web surfing and bought some vinegar (yes, it's true, I did not even own any vinegar!) and started adding it to my laundry. My laundry smells good (no residual vinegar smells) and static cling has been much reduced. I don't use dryer sheets or fabric softener, so it's both economical and environmentally friendly. The killing of poop-bacteria is less tangible, but I'm sure it's helping that too. I do all of my laundry on cold, so I feel better adding the vinegar. Especially since I am regularly washing dog blankets and towels.

I may also try using vinegar to clean, but well, I'm not in any rush to take up cleaning. Ha!

Sunday, May 18, 2008

The Princess Pup

I know some of you may be wondering why I haven't been reading at home or taking the bus like I had plan. This is why:

I picked her up a little over a week ago. She weighed 2 lbs 7 oz and was 8 weeks old. She is a black & tan short-haired chihuahua. She did not come with papers and will most likely be in the 10-12 lb range as an adult (that is only a guess on my part; I can't wait to see how wrong I am!). She is playful and cuddly and quite a handful. It's all eyes on deck at all times to prevent irreparable damage to my coffee table, carpet, and anything else she takes a fancy to. The floor is strewn with chew toys, but they are much less interesting than books, papers, and furniture. Don't worry, I've done this before. I raised Mr. Dog since he was her age and he turned out fine. I can only hope she takes to training as well as he did.

So for those of you counting, I now own two dogs and a cat. I also provide shelter to a second cat, and it will be a happy day when he takes his leave. Since I have no spouse or children, I might as well have a lot of pets, right?

Friday, May 16, 2008

Freecycle

After reading about Momma Val's Freecyclin' experiences, I re-googled and discovered there is a Freecycle group in my region. I just joined the group, so now I may be looking at my clutter with a new eye. What can I give away?

I wish I'd known about this group when we were cleaning out my grandmother's house. I'm sure there would've been a few takers on some of the things that got thrown out. Oh well, live and learn and take inspiration from fellow bloggers. Right?!

A little bit about books

I've been desperately trying to read my Bookworm Challenge book during lunch at work. Unfortunately, I am constantly getting interrupted and have made little progress. I could close my office door, but I don't feel right about that since I am the go-to person for staff. I have other books I'd like to read before my next class, but at this rate I may not have a chance.

In other book news, I still need to say a few words about Comfort Food by Kate Jacobs. Although an easy and enjoyable read, I did not like it as much as her first novel, The Friday Night Knitting Club. This one is too light and fairy tale-esque. I like happy endings and all, but there needs to be a little sour to balance out the sweet. In this case, it just all worked out a little too unrealistically well. But if you are looking for a nice, light, summer read, Comfort Food might satisfy your chick lit cravings.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Generosity

One of my co-workers brought these plants in for me yesterday: a columbine (blue), two hostas, some bee balm, and a hardy mum. They were dug from her yard and her mother's yard with me in mind. I am thrilled!

I only got two of them planted last night (the two hostas) before I received a phone call from FF asking for help. The belt on his car had snapped, so I had to pick him up at the car parts store (he'd walked there from the gas station where his dead car awaited) and take him to get his tools from his work van. By the time I got back home it was dark. I guess that just gives me more time to think about proper placement. I'm prone to digging holes and plopping plants any old place. I should really consider the best place for the bee balm though because I think it spreads easily?

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Bookworm

When I announced my plans to walk and read as much as possible during my month off, BerryBird asked what I planned to read first. It's not so much what I planned to read first, as it is what I have returned to (hopefully) finally finish- Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children From Nature Deficit Disorder, by Richard Louv. I started it last fall and used it as a source in papers I've written the last two semesters. Even only halfway through, it has already helped me to conceptualize my teaching philosophy. It also makes me anxious to have my own children so that I can share my love of nature with them.

I am challenging myself to finish this book now, so I've signed up for Green Bean's Be a Bookworm Challenge. If you've already read Last Child, there are plenty of other good suggestions worth looking over on Green Bean Dreams. Check it out!

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

It does serve a purpose.

I just got back from a nice long lunch spent on "the beach*" catching up with two classmates from high school. One I haven't seen since we were both wearing caps and gowns, and the other who I've only seen once- at our 10 year reunion. We talked about wives and children and houses and careers. Oddly enough we're all at the same institution of higher learning, although each in a different degree course (JD, PhD, & MS). It was lovely catching up, and I genuinely hope to see them again, preferably without waiting another 14 years.

As it turns out, Facebook has benefits that extend above and beyond throwing sheep (which I enjoy).

*No, I did not just move to a seaside resort. The Beach is a nickname for a portion of a street near Hometown U. It used to be more grassy, but these days it tends toward the cement.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Done. For now.

I finished the last thing for this semester this morning. I expected to feel elated. I get a whole month off! Instead I feel dejected and over-wrought. A chocolate cake or a big ol' margarita would not be out of line.

The oral exam/exit interview/paper defense this morning was a bit rougher than I'd expected. I'd rather someone just give me a bad grade than sit there and tell me to my face how much I suck. It felt neither productive nor constructive. Clearly I'm too sensitive.

Now I have one month to go for walks, read books, and garden before it starts all over again.

Saturday, May 03, 2008

Old woman, I am.

This afternoon I joined my father and stepmother to go to an African violet show. Upon entering we were each given a slip of paper and pencil to vote for the people's choice award. We take such responsibility very seriously in my family. Up and down the rows we went, carefully examining all the gorgeous and unique specimens. The honor court was especially impressive. We finally made our selections, each independently choosing a different plant. After that we made our way to the sale table. I narrowed my favorites down to two, whereas my parents waffled endlessly. Finally, I paid for my one, Starry Night Blue, and left my parents to pick out theirs. The older woman making the sale offered me invaluable advice on caring for it. She told me how she'd only gotten into raising African violets a year ago. Now she has around 40 plants at home! She took me around to show me some of her plants, including two in the honor court. One of them was the one I had voted for!

Now I just hope I can keep my new plant alive and flowering. I have one old and very small African violet that hasn't flowered in years. The lady suggested that I replant it in a smaller pot to force flowering. My interest in African violets started during my sophomore year of college when I lived alone in a basement apartment. I finally succeeded in getting one to flower on my window sill. When I happily phoned my father to brag, he congratulated me on officially becoming an old woman.

Friday, May 02, 2008

Hopefully I won't throw up.

I keep saying that I take inspiration from other bloggers. Sometimes I need a nudge to help me try something new (like the natural sea sponge tampons that I love). Recently I read a post on Squirrel Chatter about public transportation. I decided to research options for taking the bus to work. Getting there appears to be no problem- lots of times and options for park-n-rides. But the rub seems to be the return trip to the 'burbs. The last bus leaving from near where I work heading to my home is at 5:09. And I'd have to catch a shuttle just to get near there. How is that supposed to work? Who plans these things?

I think that once my office shifts to "summer hours" I might be able to swing it. It will mean an hour spent on the bus each way. It's possible I may try it and hate it, but it seems like something worth attempting. I'd better pack a "barf bag" though, given that car sickness tends to run in the family. So stay tuned...