Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Good Partners

Things got intense around here yesterday. Rob and I decided to sit down at the table and flesh out our travel itinerary. Both laptops were brought to the task --I typed away on a Word document to write out where we were going and how we were planning on getting there and how many days it would take and how many nights we would need a hotel room vs. the cottage and flat, and when we could catch a train, and when we could pick up a car rental, and how many days we'd spend in each place. After a bit I had 50 million browser tabs open: British Rail train tables, Airbnb for Staffordshire and Edinburgh lodgings, Travelocity for flight schedules, Enterprise UK to try to get an estimate of how much it would cost to do a single-direction car rental vs. dropping off in the same city as pick-up, and the one for how long it takes to travel to the Sun and back at the speed of a bullet. It was out of control. Rob's laptop was opened to Google maps, as we located each potential rental and tried to combine the best location for day-trips with accommodations we could afford (and looked comfortable. And had laundry facilities. And a shower.)

Over two hours later, we had finally settled on a cottage in Staffordshire, which can only be rented from Monday to Monday. As we were attempting to book the cottage, I tried to calculate what day we'd have to fly in to London in order to recover from jet lag enough to get a train to Birmingham where we'd pick up the rental car and drive to the cottage. All of this depended, of course, on which flight we chose --do we fly during the day or overnight?

We were booking the cottage on Rob's laptop, and we got all the way to the page where you paid, and the site wouldn't finish the payment for the reservation. It just got stuck. At the same time I was trying to book our flight, which seemed like a great deal until I went to choose seats and found that we wouldn't be able to sit together --not even two of us (not acceptable when flying with a minor). 

Luckily, at that moment, Rob opened a new browser tab and, just as I said "will you google Rockford and travel agents?" his fingers were already tapping away with the same query in the search bar.

We sat back, totally stressed, anxious, and overwhelmed from our experience. We both laughed and said "let's have someone else figure this out." Now that is a good partnership.

Last night I dreamed that I had cancer. Some doctor was describing it to Rob, very dispassionately, and it was a really bad cancer, near my brain. I looked in the mirror, and saw myself, and I'd lost all my hair already. I woke up so incredibly sad --and then I was so incredibly grateful that it wasn't true. I think my subconscious was trying to tell me that a vacation to Britain isn't actually the worst thing that could happen to a person. But boy, for a couple of hours yesterday evening it sure felt that way.

So, we'll be seeing a travel agent Friday, and dump the whole complex thing in her/his hands. Thank god.

In the meantime, around here, this bloomed:
I didn't even know that hens & chick had flowers, so it was a nice surprise. I ordered and planted these this winter, and they've settled right in, in a south-facing window.
(Just ignore that ugly grill outside the window.)
I'm going to put them outside for the summer, but they've been a nice bright spot inside for the winter.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015


Spring is continuing to inch forward. 

This is a protected corner, and the warmth of the house always has this corner blooming early.  I love this mix of yellow, blue, and purple. I wish it was more filled in, but there are other things coming up in the middle for later in the season.

Liquid Fence has done a good job of protecting this clump of Glory of the Snow, which is actually quite far from the house. I got out there and sprayed early enough this year to stop the annual munching of the bunnies :-)

This is shaping up to be a nice normal spring, with mild temperatures and showers here and there. Good for the gardens :-)

Thursday, April 2, 2015


~For finding a great person to hire to mulch these acres.

~For warmer temperatures and melted snow.

~For the peaceful, apparently painless, falling-asleep-and-never-waking, passing of Gwen, the world's best cat.
~For Emma's boyfriend being a nice boy with whom she seems to have a real connection.

~For new growth pushing up through the still-cold soil.

~For music.

~For a fabulous conversation and coffee with a colleague that reinvigorates me professionally.

~For that periodic night of decent sleep.

~For a job I love to go to every day.

~For two smoothly-operating hips as I clean up the spring gardens. 


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 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


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.