Monday, June 30, 2008

Composting

I've started composting in a rather haphazard fashion. I have a tiny little compost pile tucked between the currant bushes and the golden rod in the back "wild" corner of my yard. I'm less interested in producing rich soil and more interested in decreasing my trash production. So far it's been mostly strawberry hulls, egg shells, tea bags, and some grass clippings (not from the lawn mower- those get mulched into the lawn- these are from some trimming I did by hand).

I like to visit Compost This to check on various things. They advise smashing the egg shells into little bits because they compost so slowly. Oops. Maybe I should jump up and down on my little pile to crush the ones I've already put out there? I try not to waste food, but there is invariably a few things that still must go in the trash. According to Compost This, the heels of my bread should not go in the compost pile, nor should the bit of uneaten pasta not worth saving. Although maybe the squirrels would like to snack on the bread, and would that really be a bad thing?

Sunday, June 29, 2008

My parents have green thumbs




These are only a fraction of the many flowering plants in my parents' yard. Every year they plant hundreds of impatiens, in addition to the multitude of perennials. I always admire their gardens but don't like to think about all the weeding they must require. I lucked out the other day when I was over there and found tons of perfectly ripe wild strawberries, including handfuls of blond ones. One more thing to add to the list of "things I want to plant in my yard."

Some of my hostas are in bud and my coral bells are always flowering. One of the geraniums that survived the winter in dormancy in the garage has sent up its first flower of the summer. My lovely farmer's market lilies from last summer are just about to pop. I need to get more of those too; they are so neat and compact, with gorgeous flowers.

FF was prodded into removing the blade from the lawn mower to take to work and sharpen. Hopefully, he can get to it tomorrow because my grass is starting to look a tad shaggy. The blade was so dull that it was pushing the grass over instead of cutting it. Must be all the stumps I've caught with it over the years. Maybe mowing will go faster with it sharpened? One can always hope...
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Friday, June 27, 2008

My dogs are my kids so talk about them I will.

The dog wrangling gets easier with each walk. I can hold both leashes in one hand most of the time now. I broke down and bought a new harness for Mr. Dog after searching the house high and low. I'm sure his old one will surface now that I've bought another. The new one is nicer than the old and makes for a more comfortable walk. He pulls relentlessly at the leash the whole time, but at least with a harness there's less pressure on his throat and therefore less in the way of choking sounds. As he pulls forward, Esme is often trailing behind as she attempts to pick up another rock or stick to carry in her mouth. They both have missions (his is full speed ahead, while hers is not), and it is my mission to keep them moving at an even keel. They also have completely different reactions to other dogs as they approach. Esme slams on her brakes and digs in her heels. Mr. Dog claws at the pavement like a hamster in a wheel as he attempts to get closer, faster, now! Depending on the size and number of approaching dogs (and the degree of control their owners seem to exert), I may pick up Esme so that I can more easily move us past. She has the same reaction at loud noises or kids on bikes.

I wish I could remember more of what Mr. Dog was like as a little puppy. Was he as much of a dingbat as she is? Will she get smarter with age? She has moments now of looking less like a chubby puppy and more like a small dog.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Perhaps my score was affected by lack of children?

0

As a 1930s wife, I am
Very Poor (Failure)

Take the test!

I took it as if I hypothetically had a husband. I'm guessing even if I had both husband and children I would still be a bad 30s wife.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Too much of a good thing

Sometimes I feel sorry for myself. Sad about being alone, even when I know it is my choice. Most of the time, though, I love being alone. Most of the time I am happy that it's just me and the dogs.

It was so nice to come home to a quiet house tonight. There was no one being petty and mean, no one calling me names when they think I'm out of earshot. I may not have a single person that puts me first in this world, but I also don't have a house full of people that put me down.

Sometimes there's nothing wrong with being alone. Nothing at all.

Soaping Up

Momma Val asked for an update on the soapnut experiment. You'll remember that SmellyAnn sent me some LaundryTree soapnuts a while back. They come with a little cloth bag that you put the soapnuts in and close with a drawstring. I've used them three times and have had no problems with the bag opening. They leave a faint fresh scent and no residue (or nut chunks). My only issue with them is actually an issue with myself. I tend to do almost all of my laundry in cold water, but soapnuts only work in warm (or hot) water. If you want to use cold water, you need to boil them in water first and essentially make your own detergent. Considering I can't be bothered to cook myself dinner, I don't see myself cooking my own laundry detergent. So if you do most of your laundry on warm, these may be the thing for you.

Recently I read about switching to bar soap on Going Green. I'd never thought of the environmental impact of using hand soap before, so this was an enlightening post for me. I do buy liquid soap in big refill bottles, which is better than if I'd been buying dispensers each time. But it's been bugging me ever since I read BurbanMom's post. So yesterday at the farmer's market, I picked up a bar of locally made gardener's soap. It has little bits of cornmeal in it to act as a scrubbing agent. I put it next to my kitchen sink, and now I'm hooked. My hands feel so clean! I'll definitely be getting a bar for the bathroom too.

The real challenge will be in the shower. I am a shower gel user. I've been using those (plastic) shower poofs for 15 years and I love them. My pores have a tendency to clog easily, and the poofs are very effective at removing dead skin. But the poofs have a fairly short shelf life and need regular replacement. When my last poof was on its last legs, I replaced it with a cloth version. The cotton poof doesn't work in the same way. It takes longer to maneuver, but it exfoliates just as well (or better). I just don't think using a bar of soap would have the same exfoliating effect, and that's not something I'm willing to sacrifice.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Sunday, June 15, 1997

sunny, warm
breakfast
beach w/ Forrest, read WoodsWoman III
ravens calling
K & K arrived around 12:15
chatting & catching up
back down to the beach
shoreline w/ K & Forrest
dead crayfish
freshly emerged damsel fly & shell
something bit me - Jen says pumpkin seed
tiger swallowtail
swimming with Forrest, K & K
dinner
classroom - crazy moths on outside wall near light
barred owls calling
"who cooks for you, who cooks for you all?"

This is an excerpt from a nature journal I kept for class during my summer session as an undergrad at Small Green School. I pulled it out of storage to use in a lesson plan I'm developing for my current class. This particular entry was pretty bare bones, but I decided to share it on account of the date. There was a watercolor sketch of the crayfish included.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Garden update sans photos

The peonies and irises are done. The flowers from the black locusts (Robinia pseudoacacia) are a thing of the past, but the catalpa (Catalpa speciosa) is in full bloom. Too bad the flowers are so high up that I don't really get to appreciate them. I can and do appreciate the sweet syringa (Philadelphus coronarius) whose flowers have just opened in the last few days. It grows beneath my bedroom window, and I like to imagine I can catch hints of it while I sleep. Actually, I swear I can smell it right now.

I can't believe June is half over. I've spent so little time working in the yard. It makes me sad, but maybe I'll have more time next summer. Sigh.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Barf bag, anyone?

I think I put the nail in the coffin today as far as riding the bus goes. I was one stop from hurling all over the floor. Every turn, every bump, every pothole, every stop sign, every slight move seemed designed to make me ill. I could taste it, I could feel it coming. I squeezed my eyes shut and concentrated on making it to my stop. Then I rushed down the bus steps and walked as slowly as possible, breathing deeply of the fresh air. The nausea didn't fade for at least the first hour of class.

I was so traumatized that I refused to ride the bus back to my office after class. Instead I tightened the shoulder straps on my backpack, buckled the waist and chest straps and put up my hair. I would walk it! The flat parts were mostly pleasant with occasional shade, but when I turned to start up the big, long hill the shade vanished. I was sweating profusely, and I could feel my face turn into the tomato it usually reserves for lawn mowing. Black pants in the bright sun weren't helping. I plugged on, stopping only once to take a quick swig of water.

I finally got to my building and was thankful for the AC, something I usually dislike. Forty minutes, door-to-door, walking at a pretty good clip. I'm not sure walking it twice a day in summer is practical, especially since my July class is held several blocks further down the hill. I got blisters on both feet, as I was wearing my Tevas for only the second time this season. And I can't promise I didn't smell during my afternoon meeting.

At least I don't have to worry about it for tomorrow, but it will take a lot to convince me to get back on that bus.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

I must've been insane.

When did I think I might fit in a walk, let alone three per week? For tomorrow I have a 3-5 page paper to write and 60 pages of blah to read. I know it doesn't sound that bad, but remember... full-time job!

The shuttle bus was much smoother the second time around, but all it took was 3 minutes of attempting to read to bring me to the verge of throwing up. What a waste of time I desperately need. I know, you're wondering what I'm doing blogging if I'm so short on time. Well, I just needed a break from that entirely boring third article. Clearly I won't be making it to articles 4 and 5 tonight.

Also, is it dangerous for my dogs to be eating vast amounts of blanket fuzz? Because it's just about the only thing keeping them semi-entertained.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Back in the Saddle Again

I'm having trouble getting back into the swing of class. It's summertime! My brain is putting up a strong resistance to this folly, and who can blame it? Four and half hours of class every day is a lot. And frankly, it's been pretty dull so far. The readings are also less than stimulating. In fact, the best thing so far is seeing my classmates again and the addition of one who hails from my alma mater. We've been reminiscing and bouncing names of old friends around, although we probably never had many (if any) classes together. She focused on the physiological side of things, whereas I prefer all things plant.

I took the campus shuttle yesterday for the first time. The driver was very friendly and answered my "newbie" questions. I forgot to ask the all-important question regarding the pick-up location on main campus, as the normal locale is behind construction cones and barrels. Hopefully, I can figure it out before tomorrow's return trip (due to a work-related scenario I did not ride the bus today). The stupid shuttle only runs every 40 minutes during the summer, so I will be missing more work than I would prefer. The shuttle is a good first step towards taking the bus to work, although I am still having major issues with the additional hour and half to two hours a day that the bus would require. Think of the poor pups!

I've been working on a paper, but I think I shall call it a night.

Friday, June 06, 2008

Boom!

My peonies opened yesterday. Gorgeous pale pink flowers that I never grow tired of seeing. I also have three shades of irises in full bloom.

In the wee hours of the morning I was rudely awakened by booming thunder, flashing lightening, and pounding rain. I thought for sure my peonies would be smashed to bits in the mud, but they were holding their own when I took the dogs out. Some of the irises didn't fare so well.

Nor did I, for that matter. The power went out, and I overslept by an hour. I skipped my morning tea and have had a throbbing, stabbing headache all day. No amount of drugs has helped, nor has the caffeine in the cola I had with lunch. The tea I had planned on consuming upon my arrival at work was nixed after I realized the funky smell in my office was coming from the moldy hot cocoa. The big sniff I took of the mug contents practically burned my nose hairs.

Esme will certainly not approve of my desire to lie on the couch with my eyes closed. I'm sure she'll be much more interested in chewing on my nose or chin. Why did I bother buying all those dog toys?

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

I haven't done bullets in a while.

  • Class starts Monday. Freedom is in short supply in these parts.
  • Esme's ears are now fully erect. They only flop over a little when she sleeps. Mr. Dog's ears never flop, in fact you'd need duct tape to restrain them.
  • She is still absolutely insane. That old saying about letting sleeping dogs lie has taken on new meaning. I'll have had her 4 weeks tomorrow. How many more years before she calms down?!
  • I watched the first half of The Andromeda Strain Sunday night. It was not a good choice for me to watch when I was home alone after dark, before trying to sleep. I haven't been able to watch the second half yet. I read the book several decades ago. Perhaps I am more whimpy now?
  • Last night I happened upon the first three episodes of Start Trek: Enterprise. I never got into that series when it came out, but I'm hooked now. Of course, finding the rest of it in sequential order could take effort. You're not all shocked that I love Star Trek are you? I was a big time TNG fan.
  • I haven't been able to do any gardening or yard work. I haven't quite found the necessary balance with regards to Esme and well, the rest of my life. Vacuuming has also gone by the wayside.
  • Needless to say, I am concerned how I'll manage my schoolwork and what has already been described as intensive reading assignments. I guess four weeks wasn't quite long enough to assimilate her into my life.
  • I haven't managed my goal of four walks per week either, so with class starting I guess I will admit defeat and lower the goal back down to three.
  • I've also been suffering from some sort of food crisis. I don't like to cook, and I don't like to spend money on food. I will go to the store and buy the bare minimums and then be desperately unhappy the next time I want to eat. I end up eating chips & salsa for dinner. Or croutons. Directly from the bag. I don't know what the solution is.
  • I decided to try not wearing mascara to work today. And you know what? The world did not end. I may be on to something here.