Friday, April 29, 2016

Rootbound No More

Yesterday was repotting day for the plants that overwintered in the window seat area in the kitchen.

I started with the two hanging baskets of spider plants, which have to be done every spring.  They were so rootbound that even the baby plants were starting to produce their own plantlets.  I carried both baskets out to the grass behind the garage (so I didn't have to clean up the dirty mess) and dumped the first pot into an old recycling bin.  As I suspected, the bottom of the soil was covered with a tangle of tuberous roots.

Spider plants are almost impossible to kill, so after removing the tiny bit of extra soil with my hands I used a steak knife I cut the bottom roots off, then cut between each plant and pulled them apart.  When I was done my two stuffed pots had turned into three pots, and there were still two plants left over.

I didn't have any more pots of the proper size, so I decided to stick the extras directly in the ground next to the compost pile.  They'll either grow or not, and either way won't survive the winder

Thursday, April 28, 2016


You may remember that for the past few months I've been in charge of maintaining an organization's website.  I've had a little bit of a learning curve, but on the whole I've been pleasantly surprised with how easy it is.  Members of the organization email me things they want added to the site and I take care of it.  I've been able to complete most requests within a day or so. 

Today I received the organization's newsletter in the mail.  I opened it up and started reading. On the first page a representative was reporting on some upcoming business.  Then (when I was least expecting it) in the middle of the third paragraph the representative mentioned me by name, indicating she'd asked me to add some forms to the website.  She had, but that was weeks ago, and just a general question  about if it was possible to do.  There was no follow up on the topic.  I guess in her mind the task was done.

Needless to say, the task had NOT been done, so I immediately hustled over to my computer and tried to find her email that included the forms. There was almost a dozen messages on several different topics (and double that if you included the responses that had gone back and forth).  I felt pressured to get the things uploaded ASAP in case someone was looking for them.   It took almost five minutes to find the correct email and download her attachments.  Then another five minutes to save them to my computer, upload them to the organization website, and double check to make sure I'd linked the correct files before I hit the Publish button.

I hope I was the only one who noticed the error.  I'm still trying to make a good impression in this job.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Radiant And Red-Faced

This morning after breakfast I trimmed some bushes in the front yard, then did some weeding in the back.  I knew a storm front was coming in this afternoon (and a chance of rain every day for the next week), so even though the grass was mowed last Friday I decided to cut it again.  The temperature was about 80 degrees, but the humidity in the air made it feel hotter than that. I had to do the lawn in two sessions with a water break in between.

When I got done my clothes were sweat-soaked, and I was badly in need of a shower. Then lunch.  After all my needs were taken care of I decided to treat myself to a little pampering. Yesterday I received a box from a virtual acquaintance.  The box was filled with samples from Plush Luxe, an all-natural skin care line. I pulled out a sample of the masque, mixed it with water per the directions, and applied it to my face and neck. Based on the masque's smell it included oatmeal, so I knew that fifteen minutes later my skin would feel great.

I was just spreading on the last of the masque when I heard a polite knock at the front door. Too late, I realized the garage door was still open from my grass cutting so the person had to know someone was home.  I opened the door just enough to peek out and saw a technician for the lawn care company standing on the porch. He did a double-take when he saw me, but quickly recovered and told me he was there to apply the latest round of fertilizer to the grass. Thinking quickly, I fibbed and told him I might have come into contact with some poison ivy and was using the oatmeal as an antidote.  He said he knew what poison ivy felt like and wished me good luck.

After I closed the door I set a timer and relaxed while the masque worked its magic.  When the time was up and I rinsed it off with warm water my face and neck felt clean and refreshed.  I was ready to move on with the rest of my day.

Five years ago today: Wildwood Walk

Sunday, April 24, 2016


Ever have one of those days where you just can't motivate yourself?  Today was like that for me.  I woke up groggy, and muddled through my morning obligations.  Mid-afternoon I decided to take a short nap. It didn't help; if anything it left me even groggier.  I decided to take that as a sign and spend the rest of the day recharging my batteries.  I  puttered in the yard until it got too dark, then came inside and made myself comfortable on the couch with my computer.  I have an email folder that's filled with random activities to try some day.  When I looked through it tonight one of the ideas jumped out and said " Pick Me!" 

How did it know that the other day I cleaned out a drawer and found a couple of cable ties, which I set on the kitchen island for the cats to play with?  The cats had a lot of fun pushing the ties off the island and batting them all over the kitchen. Now it was time for me to have some fun with them.  Thanks to the information on Wikihow, I learned how to How to Open A Cable Tie.

I'm not sure when I'd ever use the skill in real life, but as an experiment it was pretty interesting. The steps (as borrowed directly from the website):
  • Pick up the cable tie and look into the little white box. You will see a plastic tongue inside there that hooks into the rack and prevents it from pulling loose. 
  • Take the needle and stick it in between the tongue and the rack. This separates the tongue from the rack.
  • Pull the end of the cable tie back with your one hand whilst keeping the needle in place with your other. In other words, you're widening the loop while overriding the cable ties closing system at the same time.
  • Pull the end completely out of the little white box and pull the needle out as well. Now, don't get it accidentally stuck in there again!
      I closed and opened one of the ties twice.  When I was done I put the back on the island for the cats again.  Why should I be the only one having fun?

      Friday, April 22, 2016

      Don't Criticize The Competition!

      My assignment for the past several days was to have some home improvement companies come and give me estimates to have some work done around the house, then compare and contrast the bids. It was an interesting project, although now that it's done my head is reeling from all the variables. Which materials and installation procedures were the best? Which company had the most effective sales presentation and the best warranty?

      During each estimate the representative would ask me who else I was getting information from. Just for fun I'd throw out a name and then watch what would happen. Of course each told me they were the best on the market, then go on to say "I don't want to say bad things about a competitor, but..." Then they'd do just that. Either the competition's product was poorly-made and/or expensive, or their installers wouldn't work as efficiently.

      They all sounded like a bunch of playground bullies. I didn't have the heart to tell them I was tuning them out as soon as they started. Eventually they'd wind down and get back to business and get me the information I was looking for. 

      Five years ago today: "The Green Thing"

      Wednesday, April 20, 2016

      Spring Clean Your Life

      I'd go out on a limb and guess that everyone is familiar with the concept of spring cleaning your house. Today during my Internet wanderings I learned about the concept of spring cleaning your life.  The idea intrigued me, and as I did more research I found out that spring cleaning your life is a Thing.   You can spruce up your body, mind, career, workout, schedule, love life, and relationships.  You name it, it can be neatened up.

      As I went about my day I pondered what areas of my life could use some freshening up, and came up with a Life Spring Cleaning Plan. I'm going to work on:

      --Tackling the projects (each represented by a pile of papers) that are scattered across the kitchen island

      --Unsubscribing to all the junk messages that clutter up my email

      --Saying no to some of the requests for my time

      --Organizing my computer files and email folders

      --Contacting a couple of friends I haven't talked to in a while

      --Shaking up some of my routines and being less predictable

      Care to join me in a good deep life cleaning?

      Sunday, April 17, 2016

      In Fashion? Me?

      I stopped following fashion trends a couple of decades ago. When I'm at the mall I might ooh and aah over each new season's shop windows, but more than likely when I'm looking at those new styles I'm wearing a pair of comfortable boot cut jeans (which look better on my middle-aged body than the current "it" style of straight and skinny) and a t-shirt or polo (long or short sleeved, depending on the weather). Dressing up means swapping out the jeans for a pair of corduroys or khakis or a very casual skirt.  The only exception are my gym clothes, which tend to be unfashionable loose fitting capris and t-shirts.

      Last week when I was in Target I walked by a display in the women's department, then stopped and did a double take. The mannequin was sporting shorts with a normal rise.  What a novel idea!  I've lost track of how many years I've tried on (and put back on the rack) low rise bottoms that did not flatter my midsection.  Could it be possible that fashion trends were coming my way? 

      The temperature warmed up today.  After lunch I opened up my bottom dresser drawer and chose one of my collection of basic cotton and denim shorts.  I would have worn them anyway, but I'd like to think I got fashion brownie points for having something I could buy in the store.

      Five years ago today: Yard Work-As Viewed From Heaven

      Friday, April 15, 2016

      Pop Goes The Egg

      This morning I was making a spinach salad to take with me in the car for lunch. After adding mushrooms, celery, and colored peppers to the spinach I decided that an egg would be taste good in there, too. The problem was that I didn't have any hard cooked eggs.

      Because I have low standards, I decided to cook a scrambled an egg in the microwave and chop it up for the salad. After spraying a custard cup with Pam, I slid an egg into the cup, mixed it well, and set it in the microwave to cook. Because I was in a hurry, I forgot to cover the cup like I usually do. Once it was cooking I turned my attention back to chopping vegetables until I heard a loud 'pop'.

      The egg had exploded, sending pieces all over the oven interior. It also threw itself out of the custard cup and onto the oven turntable..

      Time for a microwave cleanup

      Wednesday, April 13, 2016

      Out With The Bad

      Over the past 18 months Hubby Tony and I have gradually improved our diets at home, replacing many of the convenience foods in our pantry, refrigerator, and freezer with more minimally processed foods.  At this point the kitchen isn't completely prepackaged food free, but it's much better than it used to be.

      Tonight for dinner I was making a shepherd's pie topped with sweet potatoes. However, when I saw that half of one of the two sweet potatoes was moldy I had to think about other options.  I rooted around and found a bag of tater tots way in the back of the freezer.  Weighing the options, I decided to modify my recipe.  Instead of a layered dish, I decided to dice and boil the sweet potatoes, mix them in with the other ingredients, then bulk up the whole thing with some crumbled tots. 

      I don't remember when I bought the bag, but when I opened it up many of the little chunks of processed potatoes were covered with ice.  Forging ahead anyway, I dumped about a third of the bag in a colander, gave them a quick rinse to melt the ice, and rolled them in a towel to dry them off.  When I got done the towel, the colander, and my hands were all covered with grease.  That's what made them taste so good!

      The tots thawed on the counter while I chopped and cooked the sweet potatoes. When I tried to crumble them I found out that most had a bad case of freezer burn and were completely solid.  I tossed them, along with the rest of the bag.  Good riddance. 

      Five years ago today: Poem In Your Pocket

      Monday, April 11, 2016

      Zen Masters (In honor of National Pet Day)

      “I have lived with several Zen masters -- all of them cats.”
      Eckhart Tolle, The Power of Now: A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment

      Five years ago today: Pay It Forward

      Sunday, April 10, 2016

      Pondering A Predicament

      Today we bought airplane tickets for a family adventure at the end of May.  We were coordinating five different schedules, and it was hard to find a date that worked for everyone.  Finally we narrowed it down to one of two weekends.  The first was better for everyone-except for me. I already had a commitment.  Last month someone asked me to be part of a speaking panel at an event she was chairing.  I had said yes.

      What should I do?   The woman who's organizing the event is a really nice person, and I didn't want to be a jerk.  Should family come first, though?  After mulling over the pros and cons of all the different scenarios I came to the decision I would back out of my commitment.  The event is still almost two months away, and there will be time to find someone else to take my place.

      Next I had to decide the best way to break the news.  In person probably would have been more professional, but since I wouldn't see the woman until the end of the week I decided to call her.  When she picked up the phone we chatted for a few minutes, then I broke the news and explained the reasons I needed to back out.

      She was gracious and said she understood.  I hope she meant it.

      Five years ago today: The Bank Account Of Life

      Friday, April 8, 2016

      Day Lily Determination

      I've got several large patches of orange day lilies in the back yard and on the side of the house.  They've all come from the original small clump I planted when we moved into this house 24 years ago. The clump kept expanding, so every couple of years I'd dig up a piece and move it somewhere else.

      I like the plants, because they're colorful, hardy, and bloom for a long time but they're also impossible to kill. A couple of weeks ago I noticed some green lily leaves growing among the rocks under the deck.  The rocks are piled several inches deep, and there's a weed barrier under the rocks.  Somehow, though, the lilies found a way.

      As much as I admired their fortitude, the sprouts had to go.  One day when the ground was nice and soft after a rainfall I moved the rocks from around each sprout, then used a garden trowel to dig down and remove the small invaders.  Most of them came out easily, but two broke off just beneath ground level, leaving their tuberous roots behind.

      As I was finishing the job it  started sprinkling again.  I know I should have continued to dig deeper and completely remove the complete roots, but I didn't feel like getting wet.  Instead just I tamped the soil back down and piled the rocks back on top.

      Any bets on how long it will take until I have to repeat the job again?

      Thursday, April 7, 2016

      It's Not What You Think!

      Back and forth...back and forth.  In and and out.  A little to the right...a little to the left.  She could feel the sweat on her forehead, between her breasts and trickling down the small of her back.

      She was getting near to the end.  He was in ecstasy with a huge smile on his face as his wife moved... Forwards then backwards...forward then backward... Again...and again!

      Her heart was pounding now...Her face was flushed...She groaned...softly at first, then began to groan louder.

      Finally, totally exhausted, she let out a piercing scream, "OK, you smug twit, so I can't parallel park. You do it!"

      Five years ago today: For The Birds

      Tuesday, April 5, 2016

      A Wright Adventure

      Before Hubby Tony and I wrapped up our latest Phoenix adventure we fit in one last activity.  Along with Son Tony, we visited Taliesin West, Frank Lloyd Wright's winter home and school from 1937 until he died in 1959.  Today the compound houses the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation and the main campus of the Frank Lloyd Wright School of Architecture.

      I've only been to a handful of Wright houses, but this one was much larger and extra impressive.

      Our 90 minute tour took us into the living quarters, including the the bedrooms of Wright and his wife, the living room, office and theater, as well as the walkways, terraces,and gardens connecting all the buildings.  In many of the rooms we got a chance to sit on the surprisingly comfortable furniture while our tour guide talked about the history of the property.  The structure were built over a period of twenty years of local rocks and sand (by Wright's apprentices, which he called "boys" no matter what sex they were), and really blended into the natural surroundings.  Rooms were build with lots of windows to let in natural light, and the roof was designed to hang past the walls to keep direct sun rays out.

      When the tour was over we got a chance to browse through the gift shop, where I selected a silver Christmas ornament as a memento of our visit.  After the tour Son Tony took us to the airport.  We grabbed our suitcases out of the trunk, gave him one last hug, and walked into the terminal as he drove away to go to work.  It was time for all of us to started going back to reality.

      Five years ago today: One Day Without Shoes

      Sunday, April 3, 2016

      Buy Me Some Peanuts And Cracker Jacks

      Or maybe a Chicago-style hot dog, since one of the adventures on our trip to Phoenix was to attend a Cubs Spring Training game.

      Son Tony has lived in the Phoenix area for almost six years.  When Hubby Tony and I visit in the spring we usually attend a game at one of the 10 stadiums that comprise the Major League Baseball Cactus League.  This year was Sloan Park in Mesa.

      There's always been a friendly rivalry between St. Louis Cardinals fans and Cubs fans, which also extended to Arizona. When a vendor saw Son Tony's Cardinal cap he jokingly said "I'll even sell beer to Cards fans".   The opposing team for the day was the Oakland Athletics, and the crowd was a mixture of people who had come to support one of the two teams on the field and people like us who were just there for the experience.

      It was a beautiful day to be outside...sunny and 70 degrees, with a slight breeze now and then.  The Cubs won 9-5, but we weren't around to see the end of the game.  Because of our schedule we left early to meet a friend of Son Tony's at a Korean restaurant, where I had the best spicy noodles I'd ever tasted.

      Served on a bed of greens and topped with carrots

      Five years ago today: Out, Damn'd Spot!

      Saturday, April 2, 2016

      April Second

      According to Wikipedia, April 2 is a pretty memorable day.

      Juan Ponce de Leon saw Florida for the first time in 1513.  The United States Mint was established in 1792 with the passage of the Coinage Act.  The "Electric Theatre", the first full-time movie theater in the United States, opened in Los Angeles in 1902.  In 1982 Argentina invaded the Falkland Islands, which was the beginning of the Falklands War.

      People were born:  Hans Christian Anderson in 1805, Walter Chrysler in 1875, Marvin Gaye in 1939, and Dr. Demento in 1941.

      Pope John Paul II died in 2005

      Today is also the observance of World Autism Awareness Day and International Children's Book Day.

      Nowhere on the page, though, does it talk about the milestone most important to me....thirty years ago today when Son Brian came into the world.  Happy Birthday, Brian!

      Friday, April 1, 2016

      It's All O.K.

      The second day of our Phoenix trip found us getting up before the sun to head out on a road trip. Our destination was Tombstone, a historic city acclaimed in film, television, and music.

      The trip there took about three hours.  First we headed east through the Phoenix metropolitan area, turned to the south and went through Tucson, then got off the interstate and drove for another half hour.  Along the way the scenery changed from desert scrub to trees.  Just outside of Tucson we passed a huge pecan orchard that stretched on both sides of the Interstate, and as we got close to our destination we saw several roadside stands offering nuts.

      When we arrived in Tombstone we parked the car and set out on foot to explore.  The historic district covers sixteen blocks.  Half of them had boardwalks lined with stores, saloons, and places to eat.  We purchased tickets for the O.K. Corral shootout, which also included admission to a newspaper museum and an orientation film.

      The gunfight reenactment was entertaining, and the actors did a good job of weaving in the history of the bad blood between the lawmen and the cowboys.  The climax came when both sides started shooting.  At the end three of the cowboys were dead and two lawmen were wounded.   Of course, everyone jumped up, and the actors posed for photos with audience members as we filed out.  During the film I learned that in the late 1800s, Tombstone was the center of the largest silver district in Arizona.  Eventually the mines penetrated the water table.  They started pumping it out, but in 1886 a fire destroyed the pumps. The city nearly became a ghost town, saved only because it was the county seat.

      We had lunch at a restored saloon, browsed through a couple of stores, then decided to head back.  Tombstone is only 30 miles from the U.S.–Mexico border.  On the way home we had to go through a checkpoint. A dog sniffed around the trunk area, and an agent looked to see who was in the car before we were waved through.

      Five years ago today: Best Of The Fools