You are currently browsing the monthly archive for May 2010.

peas! butter lettuce! cucumbers, tomatoes, green peppers and eggplant!

and those silly morning glories that I thought would never sprout…did. I may even have to thin them this week…Wow! Seeds, dirt, water, and sun make green sprouts. Amazing! (I also think that sticks and string that produce socks, sweaters, and baby blankets is nothing short of amazing, too. Am I easily amazed? Perhaps. Your problem with this is…?) I even found the ones that I planted in the back yard are poking their noses above the soil line. Wow!

I heard of bale gardening from Suzie B and decided it sounded fun, so I took the left-over bale of straw from the front yard grass seeding and followed the online instructions for preparing it for gardening use. Basically that means you soak it every day and don’t let it dry out. When you do that around here, you are assured of a bumper crop of

mushrooms.

But that is where I planned to plant the tomatoes so Jakie couldn’t steal them before I could harvest them. I hoped to put zucchini’s there as well, but it seems that I purchased no zucchini plants. Humph! The tomato stands aloof and alone.

As the first day of the holiday weekend wore on, I slowed down, but persevered.

I cleaned the doggie pool, pouring the wash water onto thirsty grass as well as the new garden area. Duncan was the first to romp in it; Dixie followed through and off they went in a dancing chase through the yard. What a lovely romp!

This has been a Spring of awesomeness…the best in a very long, long time. There were a couple days of outrageous summer sun and temperatures sprinkled in the seas of blue skies and temperate temperatures. The greenery abounds and dances across all landscapes. I love it!

Balancing Acts…
For every fruitful day of productivity on the home front, I now pay for it with a day of *not*. Sometimes it is muscle strain and pain when I forget to pace the work properly; other times a capricious migraine takes over, leaving me exhausted in its wake. This weekend I suffered a tummy-related trauma that allowed me out to sing at Sunday service (fortunately there was only one scheduled instead of two) but became too incapacitating to allow anything else… including SnB! I spent the rest of the day in bed and on the couch nestled with an herbal heating pad. As the light of day faded, so did the tummy trouble. Blech!

On the positive side, I finally got to see the latest ‘Sherlock Holmes’ and it was great!

Life lives on… a product of the past, and shaped by hopeful futures. My life may not matter much beyond my lifetime, but while I am here, Life matters a great deal to *me* and, I hope, to those I love.

All living things die eventually. I prefer that they do so in obvious cycles like winter coming after spring, and old age after a long and productive life. The span of life, however, is very elastic and often unpredictable.

Sometimes it is like a brief puff of breath… dragonflies, houseflies, kittens becoming cats, and children grown in the blink of an eye…

Sometimes it is for-EV-er like the stoneware dishes you hate but they were an ugly-to-you gift so you wish they would break so you could replace them but… they hardly ever do. Waiting for a child to be *really* toilet trained. Or the nightmarish wait for lab results.

Sometimes it is unexpectedly sudden… a car crash, an out-of-the blue virus, or maybe a sudden aneurysm.

Maybe you know it is coming because your illness is no longer treatable. How do you live with waiting to die? How do your loved ones cope with your implacable death sentence?

I trust in what comes after. I say that with no sentence swooping over my head. Would I feel different if I knew the time of my demise? (Not doom. Death is not doom.) At the moment, I am sure I would feel angry because I’m not finished. I have plans! I hope I would keep living out those plans to the very last minute. Not dead yet, and do not treat me as if I am!

The popular movie ‘The Bucket List’ got a lot of people thinking about what they wanted to accomplish in life, and what experiences they hoped to have. Like the dreams of childhood (when I grow up I wanna be/do/go…) revisited, our sense of mortality re-focused what is truly important to us.

I call young people (children and teens, mostly) ‘the immortals’ because they take such risks, laughing at the possibility of pain, misadventure, and mortality. That only happens to ‘other’ people. Not them. The concept that mortality is a fact of life at any age seems a joke. Their peers do not die. And if an older relative dies, well… they’re old. They should expect it.

Right. Tell that to a grief-stricken spouse when their partner of many years learns that the hideous headaches are signs of a brain tumor. The right arm they took for granted is unexpectedly in peril and may not see another birthday. The cherished, most important, taken-for-granted, life partner may be very ill. They may die. How to cope?

Most cope by doing whatever they can to make every day the best day possible, and never ever leave their loved one in doubt how past actions, efforts, and the memories shared are so very important. In a way, it is like living a Bucket List. In the end, all a Bucket List is is who and what we love.

So… what can I do to assist you in completing your Bucket List? You are on mine, you see…

I love dictionary.com to expand my word knowledge, but it isn’t the only place I learn new words. Business jargon is a rich resource of odd terminology. A new one to me in Microsoft-speak is “dogfooding”, which is the act of using a product or service internally so that its developers can experience it the same way that customers will.

Yeah, like they actually do that at Microsoft!

If I were a dog, I would think this is a veiled insult. Of course, if I *were* a dog and you handed me the same treat you eat, I wouldn’t give two hoots whether you gave one to yourself as well, as long as I had my own.

But… imagine if the whole world did that. No more ‘do what I say, not what I do’ confusion! Parents would actually have to follow the rules they expect their children to follow. Teachers would be held to the same code of ethics and courtesy they demand of their students. Police officers would have to abide by the same rules of conduct that they are charged to uphold. People of Faith (regardless of their religion) would be charged to practice what they preach.

Oh my!

Just for today, I dare you to practice dogfooding!

The bricks have all been laid and the last of the debris long gone. Our-new-best-friend-Dave outdid himself in bringing to fruition a glimmer of a plan that was years in the making. Final pictures waited for…

Grass seed was next on the list, and I casually mentioned that we might want to get some straw to protect the lawn from becoming a very large bird feeding station. I was assured that would be unnecessary because the bird problem really wasn’t that bad. The day after DH spread the grass seed, however, torrential rains set in. Our-new-best-friend-Dave and DH went on frantic searches for straw to hold the seed in place. They found some, and spread it in the increasingly heavy rain.

And then… sun and rain did their magic…

Ahem… there is grass *and* other green stuff that, when mowed, looks just the same as grass, so we are happy. There is a thick welt of grass growing at the street edge, runoff from the torrential rains when the seed was first spread, but that’s okay.

I planted some Morning Glory seeds by the new lamp post and they are actually growing! My experience with them has been that they start slow and then suddenly go garbanzo beans in late summer. The best set was from a nursery a few years back. They grew up the light pole and even began to cover the light at the top of it. Why didn’t they dry up from the heat of the lamp? Don’t know. Don’t really care!

The final step involves solar pathway lights. They were on sale at Home Depot so we got a case of them. Now we can’t seem to decide or agree where they should go. To the left of the walkway? The right? Near the steps? To the street? Stay tuned for exciting developments!

Parking in the driveway again is so nice! I don’t need to move my car for SEW to get his bike out of the garage. I can open my car doors and not hit a wall. No more new damage/chips to my door paint! Huzzah!

Thank you, Dave. Your work on our front lawn brought a lot of foot traffic by our house, and we got to talk with new-to-us neighbors as well as familiar ones. We enjoyed compliments and kudos from passers-by and you got a bit of extra work out of it from neighbors looking for tweaks and upgrades to their own landscaping hardscapes.

During allergy seasons (increasingly longer portions of time here in the northeast), clouds of pollen drift thither and yon through the landscapes, sliding under doorways, slipping in through window cracks, gusting through puppy doors (and on puppy fur), and generally laying claim to the interior with layer upon layer of pale yellow-greenish silt.

I don’t wipe up dust as much as I sweep pollen about, creating fresh billows to gack my airways. I can see literal clouds of pollen sloughing off pine boughs and other tree forms. When I lived in New Jersey (aka ‘the Garden State’), I had minor seasonal allergies, and most of those were floral-based. Up here, the prolific tree pollen is significantly more potent as well as more varied. Frankly, the minor floral competition is drowned out in comparison.

The benefits of living as long as I have (and I am now the oldest I have *ever* been) means a greater reliance on cosmetics to face the public. Applying a daily ‘face’ becomes a challenge during the high pollen times because a sneeze will erupt when it will, whether you are applying lip liner, eye-liner, or mascara. It isn’t as easy to erase a make-up application error as it is to rub out a pencil mistake. In the case of mascera, you may as well completely remove what you have just applied and start over. Red eyes stream a clean track through your foundation down to your chin. Mascara lashings echo on your cheeks. Cool water used to sooth the eye, smudges what isn’t run off with leaky eye juice.

One day last week I had to start over *three* times. I was almost ready to face the world naked (sans make-up). But only almost. Even at my age, vanity rules hair and make-up. I do not wear high heels anymore. I compromise on pumps. Comfort trumps vanity.

There are grammar police out there cringing. Oh well…

I don’t just work at work and knit endless knits and purls without actually finishing things. I have completed two pairs of socks in the past month. The unfinished items are… still unfinished, but look!  Socks!
temperance socks
This was a toe-up pattern freely available on Ravelry. I agree that once I completed a cycle and a half, not only did I have the pattern memorized, I was able to see where I was at a glance after I put it down, and picked it up again. This is a *good thing* (as Martha would say). This pair used the popular Regia Stretch Yarn in my stash. So far I see them as good summer socks, but the stretch part seems over-rated.

And more!
socks
Again, Charlene Schurch does it again. I love this book! It is not just possible, but EASY to convert a top-down pattern to a toe-up sock pattern. Since I have discerned a problem in my calculations regarding heel-to-toe length, leg length, and yarn supply, this is a very *good thing* (yes, more Martha… we have little else in common, but this we agree on—good is “good”).

Match it with my favorite bamboo sock yarn (Regia Bamboo) and you get a great pair of socks!

Following a great idea shared by my mother, I took my paperback pattern books to Kinko’s to have them spiral bound. I paid for the cut to remove the perfect binding, and a whopping $4 per book to have them spiral bound. Now the books lay open flat. On the negative side, I have lost the spine information, so I have to pull them out a bit to determine which book it is. I can live with that.

I may have already mentioned this, but I really, REALLY like having pattern books open flat.

We were going to be adventurous. Open a new window! Open a new door! Try something we had never tried before!

“Bertucci’s has a new spring menu that sounds good.”

“Nope—I want something more adventurous than that. Not Italian. We eat Italian all the time. I like fish but I’m not in the mood for seafood. We eat at the Vietnamese place almost every time I visit. How about that restaurant your friend mentioned? Ole, was it? I see they have a tapas platter. It’s not far.”

“Hours?” I replied, in the shorthand language known to all families. No need for a complete sentence when a single word will do.

“Oh… they aren’t open on Sundays.”

“Bummer. Well, how about a Cuban or Mexican restaurant? There are several different ethnic restaurants around here and in the next town over. How about Cafe Madrid? It has tapas, too.”

“Also not open on Sunday.”

“La Boniche?”

“Same.”

On through the listing of ethnic fine dining (read: dress nice, not fast-food) available in and around home, the answers were the same. We only saw Italian, Seafood, and Chinese/eastern restaurants that were open on Sundays. We looked through the phone book and online to locate something that met our adventurous spirits. We spent over an hour looking…

How frustrating! A simple celebratory meal shouldn’t take so bleepin’ much effort—particularly one we weren’t even cooking ourselves!

<sigh>

In the end, we ended up where we began. The wait was only 15 minutes, not the 25 cited. Bertucci’s new spring menu was very nice, indeed.

Happy birthday, Susan.

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