Saturday, March 28, 2015

Things to do . . .

I really need to do our taxes! 

I just ordered these seeds, and it's way more fun than taxes:
I also purchased my tomato plants --I ordered three different grafted plants, and one Sungold cherry tomato, which is our garden snack. 
This is not my photo of Sungold, but it's a good one!
I have garden plans! It's about 15 degrees as I write this, but the weather guys are all promising 60 by the middle of the week. We have a raised bed that Emma insisted on planting with strawberries several years ago, but she's lost her focus on the garden (Which is fine at 14 --it's torn between her boyfriend, her guitar, and long walks with her camera. I'm not complaining: Currently there's no eye-rolling or attitude.)

But we never get any strawberries from that bed. The plants give only tiny berries, and the chipmunk and bird populations eat them long before we even see them. I'll probably leave a few plants in the bed, but I'm going to get some flowers growing in there this year. I own this trellis, but I've never used it yet! I got it as a gift while my hips were bad. I'm going to send the Black-Eyed Susan vine up this.
Also not my photo; courtesy of White Flower Farm.

The herbs I'm going to add to the tomato bed --there's room to slot them in. And I'm going to get more than just one container of potted flowers going this summer too. 

Now, if spring would only work its way north soon . . .

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Spring?

Spring may actually be coming. I'm trying not to get my hopes up too high, but it's actually been above freezing (during the day) for a week, I think.

Rose, of Prairie Rose's Garden, posted a March garden update, and after reading it I couldn't help but go outside to see if anything green was peeking out of our dirt yet. And lo and behold, it is!

This little patch of crocus is braving the weather.
This small clump of snowdrops is in a flower bed near the house.
I was just complaining, in my comment on Rose's blog, that my snow drops weren't spreading. I planted some in one of our woody areas, and it's been just the one clump for about 10 years. But just to prove me wrong, when I went out today it had spread!
Perhaps I just hadn't noticed the last couple of years, since I was having a lot of trouble doing any gardening. Just being out this afternoon and gardening with two working hips was a joy.

Inside I still have those mini tomato plants in the aero-garden. I have no idea if the little tomatoes they're producing have anything to do with my attempts at pollinating, but there are quite a lot of them forming!
So, the next step will be to see if they have any flavor :-)

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Life Markers

I'm taking off again tomorrow morning for Ann Arbor. I did check the weather this time, and it looks fine. 

Life has been busy here, even though the college had spring break. Since Emma's spring break isn't until the end of the month, I still had to get up and get her to school. Since I'd been sick, I felt like I'd gotten behind on prep, so Monday and Tuesday I just got up as usual and went in to my office to work after dropping her off. I got lots done, which is good since I'll be gone all weekend. I actually start a new online class on Monday, an 8-week version of my Geology of the Solar System class that's run specifically for a particular cohort of students getting some business Associates degree. 

I've been reading The End of College: Creating the Future of Learning and the University of Everywhere, and it's been fascinating. It's funny how something like that can reinvigorate you. I'll probably be writing another post specifically about that, because it hit on some things I'm pretty passionate about.

However, at the beginning of the week Rob and I had our 17th wedding anniversary, and celebrated by going out to dinner at our favorite restaurant. While we were waiting for our meal, Rob was trying to do something with the camera app on his phone, and Emma was helping. (She always knows more than we do about anything tech related.) I snapped this photo while she was helping him, and I really like it.

Another thing we had to do this week was take her 8th grade graduation picture. When I was a kid, graduating from 8th grade wasn't a thing, but it is now, and especially since this is her last year at this particular school. In past years they've done these at the school, and they've involved the kids bringing lots of stuff that's important to them to the school. This year they decided that the kids could submit photos (which makes sense, given how digital photography has made this all much easier), so Emma decided what she wanted in the photo (her favorite music, and our still-alive cat), and Rob took the photo. I think it turned out kind of nice :-)
I think it's funny how she chose my ancient iPod rather than her phone as the music player. She's been using it lately because her phone has very little storage. Did any of you have the original iPod, with that circular thing to navigate with? We've come a long way :-)

Monday, March 2, 2015

Exiled

Yesterday, Emma's boyfriend came over. While we trust Emma, we also believe that 14 year-olds need chaperones, so one of us stays in the area (they have to stay in public areas of the house). Cuddling on the couch is fine, but we all know that hormones are really good at making you do things you know you shouldn't --just ask any perimenopausal woman :-)

Since I have a cold, though, I spent the afternoon up in the beadroom bedroom, so I wouldn't spread my germs to the boy, and Rob played chaperone. 

I spent some time working on this, for my mom, pretending that it's spring.
It's not finished yet --I ran out of light, which is critical for 50-year-old eyes working with seed beads. I love the polymer clay flowers, made by Elaine of Too Aquarius --each one is hand painted and just slightly different. 

I'm going to try to think spring. I wonder if it will have any affect.

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Colds and Cold

Well, I have a cold, the result of traveling, mostly likely, so lets talk about something else.

Here are what the tomatoes in my aerogarden look like now:
I took a tiny paintbrush and moved from flower to flower, hoping to pollinate. However, at the end of my little flower journey, there was no obvious pollen on my paintbrush. So either it's too faint for me to see, or they don't need pollinating? We'll see. If this works, I'll get a good handful of little cherry tomatoes.

Given that March is entering as if it were January, those little tomatoes would be very welcome.

Like the last time I was sick, I'm using my computer to pass the time. This time I'm watching episodes from the first season of the original CSI. Back when we had to watch TV on a TV, I loved CSI. But now I realize I never actually saw the first season. New mysteries are a good way to keep me from thinking about my cold. Plus, it's really amusing to see how old the technology is :-)

We set a new record low last night of -16F. I think we've given our all to winter, and it needs to go away now. I hope you are all either enjoying warm sunshine, or have found some way to pass the time until we can break camp and get outside again.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

One Down

Well, one trip to Ann Arbor is done. Unfortunately, I didn't do a very good job of checking the weather before I left and I got caught in a lake-effect blizzard. Why people live where there is lake-effect snow I'll never understand!

By the time I hit Chicago, I saw electronic signs saying "Winter Storm Warning. I94 East closed at exit 29, St. Joseph."

By the time I crossed over from Indiana into Michigan, it was already snowing. (It made the slight drifting on I39 south, near the wind farm, seem minor, though it had caused me some anxiety an hour earlier.) By the time I hit exit 23, I was creeping along behind a semi at 10 mph, and I needed gas and food. So I held my breath and aimed for the exit. Even in the town it was total white-out conditions, but I came on a gas station and then a McDonalds. In the short time I was in the McDonalds, eating a truly awful burger, my car was covered in snow. Especially the back --it was just plastered on, like someone had sprayed it. I managed to clear my brake lights, and then tried to think of a way to get out of the storm.

I figured I needed to head east, so I found a town a bit east and set my Nav system to go there. I ended up on some tiny road heading east, again at 10 mph. Here was my view:
While the road was slippery, it was really the white-out conditions that were scary. You really couldn't see if you were going to run into someone. Eventually, I noticed I was on a road that had signs saying "Emergency I94". I thought maybe if I followed them, I'd end up rejoining I94 after the closure. 

I did rejoin I94 after a bit, and noticed as I was almost taken out by a semi, that I was rejoining it AT EXIT 29!! --exactly where they'd said it was closed. I thought I'd be directed off immediately, but it turned out it was all a joke, I guess --the highway wasn't actually closed. But it looked like this all the way to Battle Creek:
Yeah, not that different from that tiny road. It was not a fun drive. I have never in my life had to drive so slowly for such a long distance. The snow cleared up for a bit, but by the time I hit Jackson there was more. 

But (clearly) I did make it, and spent the next day cleaning and cooking for my sister. It was a nice visit, really, and I know my parents appreciated seeing me for breakfast and a glass of wine before bed.

The way home was much better, except for that exact same stretch of highway. They'd managed to clear a good bit of the snow, but the temperatures were so low that parts of the road iced over. There was an ice patch under every overpass (and why does that happen, anyway?), and a couple of places where everyone slowed way down --well, except, I suppose, for the cars that were in the ditch-- because the whole road had iced over. Once I got south of the lake, though, the temperature had gone up to 14, and I think the salting stuff must work by that temperature because there was no more ice.

So, I'm hoping to go again either this weekend or next. But I'm going to try to do a better job of checking the weather.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Green Growig Things

We got the Aerogarden set up again a month or so ago. I had some tomato seeds I'd purchased last year, and we stuck them in there --I really wasn't expecting them to grow, given how old the pods were, but hey, tomatoes are basically weeds, so they all sprouted right up.
This is what they look like now.
I'm actually very curious --these are supposed to bear cherry tomatoes. How do you suppose this is going to work without any pollinators? I guess we'll just have to wait and see. No flowers yet, but if I actually get any tomatoes from these plants, I'll be sure to take some photos.

I came home from work last week and found this note on the kitchen counter:
Eggs were made, and the child was fed. Who could resist that note? :-)