Monday, December 26, 2011

I Like Red

Color is such a wonderful mysterious thing.  We speculate around the dinner table about the possibility that other colors exist, but we can't see them.  And because we can't see them they are unimagineable.  Would our brains even be able to recognize a new color?  Could we learn to?  Does the color spectrum really show *all* the colors?  What could a new color be like?

Ken read a book last year about cochineal, the rare little bugs it comes from, how difficult it is to produce, etc.  The Perfect Red.  I haven't read it yet, although I plan to.  This year a book came out about indigo, called (surprisingly enough) "Indigo".  It's written like a travel memoir.  The author's personal history and background establish a connection with the history of indigo.  She develops a fascination with indigo, its use, and its ties to the spiritual life of people who produce it.  So she sets off to find out more about it in Africa.  I've already zipped through nearly half the book.  It's been a good read so far, although not as detailed as I expected.

My sister has another book about color that she's going to let me borrow.  Evidently it's about a whole range of colors, like vermillion, etc, and where they come from.

I don't know if it's related to the cold weather and shorter days, but this winter I've really developed an attraction for the color red.  I'm not into just any old red though.  It's got to be at the cooler end of the spectrum, and really saturated.  I like variations too - like this Madelinetosh yarn I found recently, called "Tart".

 In October I started crocheting a scarf for my mother, for Christmas, out of a beautiful red yarn I found.  The color name was "Chili Pepper".  It took months to finish, so for hours and hours over two and a half months I was staring at this wonderful deep red colored yarn in my hands.  I think it sank into my brain, because over these last few months my eye is much more attracted to red things over anything else.  We now have a new red fleece blanket, red and white flannel sheets.  I also have red slippers, and at least three new red sweaters or tops.  I saw some red patterned socks in Target the other day.  It was hard to resist getting them, but I did.  It may seem like it, but this isn't about the things themselves.  There's something about the color that my eyes just like resting on.  That red blanket feels warmer to me because it's red.  I feel better in red.  Not sure why.

I'm guessing as the days lengthen I'll be looking for good indigo blues.  Real indigo isn't commonly used as a commercial blue dye now days.  I know you can still get it, but probably not at your local fabric or clothing store.  So I'm not sure if I'll find anything in real indigo blue.  But it will be interesting to look.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

That Christmasy Feeling

We put up the tree today.  It always takes a little furniture-juggling in our living room, but things will settle after a few days.  I still haven't finished the Christmas cards, but I hope to this week.  At least I've got the family presents that go in the mail ready to send tomorrow.  I hope they'll get there on time, but if not it will just extend Christmas a bit longer.

Ken and the Bru played for the Contra-dance last night.  I went along too, and was able to dance the whole night.  So nice to do that without foot pain.  I think the plantar fasciitis is gone, for now anyway.  There were about 15 couples, and most of them stayed through the evening.  A fair amount of new people too - even younger ones.  Let's hope they all keep coming to dance.  The contra-dance group could use some energetic youngters.

I went to the Boise Farmer's Market on Saturday, hoping to find some interesting gifts.  But it was pretty small, and nothing really grabbed me.  I did buy Nepalese dumplings from the Momo Dumplings guys, and some croissants from Cafe de Paris.  Yum!  I'm pretty well done with my gift list anyway.  Just stocking-stuffers to do now, and I've already found a few things for those.

It's going to be a very busy week, work-wise.  Lots to get done before I go on vacation.  It's probably a good thing there's no dance class tomorrow night.  I hope I can do it all and finish on time.

I'm going to start my first pair of crocheted socks while I'm off.  I'll really have to pay attention to swatching correctly if I want them to fit at all!  I'm still not convinced about crocheted socks, but these are stitched vertically rather than in rounds down from cuff to toe, so theoretically they'll be stretchier.  Guess we'll see!  I'll put up pictures on Ravelry if you want to follow my progress.

Merry Christmas and Joyful Solstice to all.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

No Snow Yet

It's been a very cold and dry November and now December.  Some La Nina year this is!  I'm hoping for a change next week.  It would be nice to have at least a dusting of snow by Christmas.

This was our dance class Christmas party on Monday.  So many people wore variations of red and black - and all unplanned!  Everyone brought really wonderful goodies.  It was a nice evening.

I'm really looking forward to having the week off between Christmas and New Year.  Work has been incredibly stressful for the past three months.  The new contract our company signed this year has spelled out what we need to acheive in our production statistics, and they're higher than ever - close to 100%, with bigger penalties for missing deadlines, mistakes, etc.  Although these metrics are supposed to be company-wide numbers, we investigators are being held to them individually.  Any failure to meet the numbers means our jobs are in danger.  So all the investigators I know live in constant fear of missing deadlines and appearing on management radar for corrective action.  As in - you have 30 days to bring your numbers up or you could be terminated.

For me this means that on any given day I must keep working until I've finished what's due that day, no matter what my personal engagements may be in the evening.  So far I've had to re-schedule hair cuts, dental appointments, and miss out on some of Ken's gigs.  I've not yet had to miss dance class when I'm scheduled to teach, but it almost happened once and could happen at any time.  Most Mondays I'm working until the very last minute, gulping down some dinner and walking out the door.  I try to think about what I'm teaching on Sunday nights, but most of my weekends I'm either catching up on chores and projects I couldn't do during the week, or just vegging out, happy to not have to *think* about anything for a while.

This is not the job it used to be.  There are lots of changes coming for 2012 and we don't yet know how that's going to affect us.  It could be good, but more likely it will just make our working lives even more unpleasant than they already are.  I know what you're thinking, and you're right.  But it's not the best economic climate for that kind of thing, so....

Otherwise, things are going as well as can be expected.  Except for the lack of snow, the run up to Christmas has been good.  I finished making the present for my Mom and found something good for Dad.  So now I just need to get those in the mail.  I have the Christmas cards - I just need to start writing and sending them!!  We want to put the tree up this weekend too.  Ken and I have a wreath project planned as well.  We have all the bits for it, we just need to get busy and put it together.  I'll put up a picture when it's done.

Thursday, November 24, 2011


Had my sister, niece, and Ken's kids over for dinner today.  Ken made a wonderful turkey, I did the pies, Brenda brought our family's stuffing, yams, and an apple crisp, and of course we had all the other things.  It was nice to see everyone.  We've all been really busy.  I haven't seen Victoria, Beau, Brenda or Jasmine for months.

Guess I'm tired.  Not a lot to say, just some pictures.  Ken's wonderful turkey, and my "Christmas" cactus in bloom.  It seems to be a month off.

Work has been really busy.  But I got to drive up to Donnelly last Monday.  They had snow on the ground up there already.  It was a long drive but at least it was pretty.  This is snow falling over Cascade Lake (reservoir).  And the Payette River next to Crouch-Lowman highway.  What a difference from how high it was all this summer.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

The Disappearing Chicken Mystery

Our five chickens are gone.  They disappeared two weeks ago, while I was at Asilomar and Ken was out for the evening.  At least that's when we think it happened.  Ken got home late and didn't go out to check on them until early afternoon.

The wire fence is about 4-4.5 feet tall.  We have fencing panels laid on the ground all around it to deter wild animals from digging under.  These hens don't perch in the tree at night like the old flock did.  The silly things don't even use their hutch.  They sleep on a pile of brush in the middle of the open area.  Sitting ducks for predators, so to speak.

After our last experience with 13 dead chickens lying all around the pen after a dog got in, we're pretty certain it wasn't a dog.  But we're not sure it was a wild animal either.  We're not so far into the country that it would be a wolf or a mountain lion, or even a coyote.  Far more likely to be a possum, fox, skunk or badger.  But there was no digging.  No scuffed or scraped areas to show something jumping over the fence.  No sign of forced entry - except one place where the top of the fence was bent over and there are two convenient logs to step on if you want to get over the fence.  Of course, a human could easily unfasten the gate.  It's just 10 feet along on that side of the pen.

The other evidence was feathers.  Lots and lots of feathers.  There were five little circles of larger feathers, as if something had pounced on each hen to take it away.  And lots of under-feathers along the inside of the fence, as if something had chased them around before catching them.  Either that or the wind had blown those feathers away from the other five spots.

There was one place along the outer edge of the fence that looked to me as if footsteps had bent the grass down, and there was a long narrow track of bent grass near the bent place in the fence, like a bicycle had sat there for a while.  It was frosty that night, and the bent grass in the track was more damaged than the grass around it.

You've probably guessed where I'm going with this.  We think it was a human.  Possibly one of our neighbors.  Ken has talked to the people around us, and there are stories of other problems with livestock that don't seem like accidents.  So we reported it to the sheriff deputy who took our report last year when the dog killed our previous hens.  We don't think he'll be out there solving the crime, but we hope it might add something to an accumulation of other incidents.  A bit worrying to think there's someone living nearby who appears to enjoy hurting animals.

So our egg surplus is gradually going away.  I "only" have about six dozen still in the fridge.  We'll be buying eggs at the store by New Years I'm guessing.

We're still considering if we even want to get more chickens this Spring.  We'd have to do something differently for them.  Something to keep them inside at night.  But if you make it so you have to go out twice a day to open or shut the hutch on them, it gets pretty hard to get away for an overnight trip.  It's a puzzle.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Asilomar Dance Weekend & Jury Duty

Carol and I had a great time at Asilomar last weekend.  We flew down Friday morning and spent the middle of the day walking around Cannery Row in Monterey.  We had a nice lunch right over the water, and poked into various shops.  I found a nice Indian cotton hankerchief to cover my neck against sunburn.  I'm not used to having short hair yet.  We looked for t-shirts but didn't see any that really grabbed us.

We arrived at Asilomar around 4-ish and checked in.  We were in Forest this year, rather than Woodside.  It's near Woodside, but much quieter.  Before dinner we went to the Asilomar Gift shop and looked at things.  It was so strange!  The sizes for t-shirts and sweatshirts were waaay off!  It was like being in an alternate universe.  I did buy a zip hoodie, but I got the extra-large, as it was the one that fit.  We both tried on things in our normal sizes and they just did not fit.  Unfortunately we had the same experience with the Asilomar dance workshop shirts.  The sizes were not even close.  My ladies large polo shirt fits much more like a fitted medium.  Hopefully it won't shrink and I can occasionally wear it for dance class. :-(

The weekend starts with Friday's dinner at 6pm, when you see all the dance friends you haven't seen for months - or even since last year.  Then there's a welcome dance and ceilidh.  Saturday was non-stop.  Classes in the morning and afternoon, a quick run to the shop for dance CDs, the Teacher's Reception before dinner, and then the Ball.  The music was by Reel of Seven.  They were recording for a new CD.  I must keep an eye out for it - the music was wonderful.  One of the highlights of my evening was getting through a dance I hadn't done for ages, Swiss Lassie, with Lyle Ramshaw.  Thank-you Lyle for giving the right non-verbal cues when I needed them!  We had a great time.  All day the weather was cooler than usual, but very convenient.  It mostly rained while we were in classes or meals, and not when people were most likely to be outside.

At the afterparty a whole bunch of musicians showed up and they just played tune after tune.  I was really tired, so I went to bed long before most people.

The next morning was the combined class.  This is the chance for many people to dance with folks they didn't get to at the Ball.  I had at least three people tell me they hadn't recognized me right away because my hair is so different.  The teachers taught some fun dances that I want to teach to my class, among them Dunedin Quadrille, Carleton Jig, and Miss Florence Adams from Bk 38.  After lunch we were done.  The workshop just flew by!  Carol and I went down to the beach to soak our feet, hunt for shells, and take photos.  It was a much sunnier day than Saturday, as the storm had blown through by then.

We drove back to San Jose airport and flew home.  Arrived by 10:30-ish.  A looong day on only six hours sleep!

The very next morning I had to report for Jury Duty to the courthouse.  After going through the lawyer's questions they re-arranged our seating order and I was the 4th person after the first 15.  After a wait for the lawyers to decide who to challenge, they called out our numbers.  I was put into a jury!!  By this time it was about 1pm and we were told to have lunch then report back as the trial was going to begin that day!  We were surprised it was so fast.

The verdict came in yesterday (Wednesday) afternoon, so I can tell you it was a murder trial.  We were to decided between 2nd degree murder or Voluntary Manslaughter.  They expected the trial to run until next week, so they kept all 15 of us in the courtroom.  We took lots of notes as all of the witnesses for the Prosecution were called up.  It's similar but not the same as what you see on TV.  There were lots of times we were sent out while things went on that we were not supposed to hear, and the Defense attorney did not ask nearly as many questions as I expected.  There was only one witness for the Defense - the Defendant himself.  His word against six others who were there, and all the technical experts.

I won't go into the whole thing here, but it was a very interesting story.  A bit like solving a murder mystery.  And of course we jurors were not allowed to discuss anything until we went into deliberations at the end.  Which was very hard for all of us, as you're just dying to talk about it!  But!!  Just before we were sent into deliberations they drew three numbers for the Alternate jurors.  The Alternates would not deliberate unless one of the regular jurors got sick or had an emergency.  And I was chosen as an Alternate!  ARgh!!!  So I couldn't even talk about the case with my fellow jurors!  I had to wait by the phone until the Bailiff called to either have me come take someone's place or tell me the verdict.

They went into deliberations on Wednesday afternoon and the Bailiff called Thursday to tell me the verdict was Guilty for 2nd degree murder.  I think there was some room to consider Voluntary Manslaughter, but in the end I agreed with them.  It was probably the right call.  Through-out our experience we had an absolutely great Bailiff, Ken.  He was cheerful, helpful, answered all our questions and made the process clear.  And the judge was also very good.  He explained things to us patiently, tried to move things along efficiently, and did not sit upon his dignity.  So in the end I had a good experience and I'd do it again.  But since I've now been on a jury, I won't get called again for 2 years.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

First Saffron Crocus Blooms!

I put the Saffron Crocus bulbs in *before* last fall, but they didn't flower.  Finally they have!  Well, at least one of them has.  I don't know what I'd do, cooking-wise, with just three threads of saffon, so I'm leaving them for now.  There are four more bulbs down there that haven't flowered, so I'm hoping they will soon.

Otherwise, fall is coming on apace.  It's now officially dark when I get up at 6:30.  I hate getting up in the dark, so I am still working on the actual "getting up" part.  I'm more likely to turn off the alarm and sleep for another 40 minutes.  Not 30.  For whatever reason I usually wake up on my own at 7:10am.

But this week I have promised myself I will get up on time and get Ken and me out to the Rec Center to work out.  We've been lazy about it for a few weeks now.  Think I've lost a few pounds anyway, but I need to get back in shape.

Did some early Xmas shopping today.  There were some really good sales, so I took advantage.  Still lots more to do, but I've started.  I also saw some red sweater-knit with furry trim slippers at Penneys that are now on my own Christmas wish list.

The tulip bulbs I ordered in summer arrived this week.  So I now have a big job ahead of me.  I need to weed out the bed where I want to plant and get them in the ground.  It may take a few weekends but that's ok.  Tulips are better left until early November anyway.  These are some really fun yellowy-orange ones: Orange Princess, Cairo, and Silverstream.  I'm going to plant them all together.  I got these from Brent & Becky's Bulbs.  They have a wonderful variety of things.

Anyway, it'll be fun deciding where to put them all.

I also bought some Ipheion uniflorum "Jessie".  Not sure where I'll put those.  They're supposed to naturalize well in lawns, but I don't think we have the kind of lawn most people think of for bulb naturalizing :).  Hopefully in Spring we're going to have someone look at the sprinklers and get them working again.  Once that's done my gardening life will become much easier!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

First Big Crochet Item Leaves Home

Well, the baby blanket is off with Ken to band rehearsal, headed for its new owner.  I made it of washable merino yarn, but that's not the same as washing cotton or something.  You can wash it in the machine, but just tossing it in the dryer like a towel is not recommended.  So I hope it's not too much of a pain for a new mom to take care of.  Little as I like the less expensive acrylic yarns, they do have the advantage of washing and drying easily for babies.

So, the blankie leaves home.  I hope it gives joy.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Trailing of the Sheep

Carol, Cheri, Ken and I went up to Hailey on Saturday to see the Folklife Festival that's part of their Trailing of the Sheep weekend.  We watched sheep being sheared, looked at fiber, yarn, felt, finished fiber-art items, and all the various implements you can use to work with fiber.  There was sheep's milk cheese and merguez sausage to sample.  There were also Peruvian, Polish and Basque groups singing and dancing.  And we ate lamb!  Yum.  Brandi and Kelly were there too, so there were a whole gang of us Scottish dancers wandering around.

I bought some hand cream and a skein of Blue-faced Leicester sock-weight yarn.  Soooo soft!  I'm not sure what I'll do with it yet.  I have a crochet sock pattern that has you stitch the rows long-ways (from toe to cuff-top), which makes the sock stretchier, as crochet isn't a naturally stretchy as knitting.  I've already got some less-expensive variegated red sock yarn that I was going to try the pattern with.  I think I'll rehearse the pattern with that, and if I like it I might use the BFL yarn.  Blue-faced Leicester sheep wool has a longer but curly fiber that is very soft.  The long fibers mean it's less prickly (good for socks) and, if you're a beginning spinner, it's easier to spin.

In fact Cheri bought a drop spindle and some BFL roving at the event, and wants to give spinning a try.  So far I have no desire to spin.  I'm still working on getting better at crochet.  But who knows - maybe I can eventually take advantage of all these spinners around me ;).

Anyway, we had fun on Saturday.  And Ken was our hero for driving up there and back, and putting up with all the shopping and chatter. :)

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Busy Busy Fall

We passed the halfway point last week and we're sliding down the steep part of the sine wave - the days are getting noticeably shorter.  It's harder and harder for me to get up in the mornings.  I hate getting up in the dark.  I can't tell what time it is at this time of year.  I may have to get myself some kind of clock with a glowing face, so I can just glance over and see what time it is.  Then fall back to sleep :).

We've had a really busy September, with the Highland Games performance, Museum Comes to Life the next weekend, the dance workshop I'm preparing for, the whole termite treatment going on, and dance classes starting up again on the 19th.  Plus, my dancers were kind enough to let me practice on them for two extra nights, so I could make all the teaching mistakes early and hopefully correct myself for the workshop.  Which is this coming weekend - ack!

Work has also been very busy this month.  I don't talk about my work very much.  Most of my friends know what I do and they don't ask about it.  It's pretty nice to have a job where I can make my own hours and work out of my home.  However, the past year has been more demanding on us worker-bees than usual, and this month has been a particular trial for me.  September is the end of the federal fiscal year for our business, so we are under greater pressure to finish work *on time*, and to do *more* of it (increases revenue for the year, don'tcha know).

So, more work and more volunteer activities with a public embarassment aspect to them add up to more stress than I prefer.  Most things have worked out well so far, thank goodness.  I hope to continue that trend.

I'm progressing with my crochet.  Still not as accurate as I'd like to be with neat, even stitches and a good finish, but I'm learning more skills.  I just started a scarf this month using motifs that you join as you go.  It's going to be lighter and more delicate than I expected (yarn choice is another thing I'm learning by doing), but I think it's going to be pretty.  I love the colors, and the motif itself is really pretty.

I find it to be a good stress-reliever.  Not nearly as physically active as Aikido (which I miss dreadfully), but it does take your mind off of other things.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Camping near Stanley

Hubby and I finally got out camping the weekend before last.  It was the same weekend in September that Brenda and I went camping in 2001, the weekend it snowed overnight at Alturas Lake.  We drove up to Stanley and found a campsite at Alturas lake, then drove into the Boulder-White Clouds on 4th of July Creek road for 10 miles to the trailhead.  Nothing like 10 miles of dirt road to make you appreciate asphalt.  How the heck did our ancestors manage it?

Anyway, the hike from 4th of July Creek trailhead started at 8700 feet.  We didn't realize it was quite so high at the time.  I do pretty well in altitude.  I got out of breath faster than I expected, but I didn't feel particularly tired or oppressed with breathing difficulties.  Ken had a little more trouble.  The little canyon the creek runs through appears to get more water than the surrounding area.  It was really green and there were all kinds of wildflowers growing along the trail, and many smaller streams coming down to join the main creek.  It was only about an hour's hike up to 4th of July lake at 9,200-ish feet.  It was partly cloudy, so the colors seemed more intense and green.  There were lots of gentians in flower, as well as some other things I'll have to look up.

We hung out for a while taking pictures, then headed down.  It was about 3pm, so between the walk back and the drive out, it was after 5pm by the time we got to our campsite.  We immediately began heating up dinner, opened our bottle of wine, and watched the sunset dinner show over Alturas lake. :)

We brought 2 wool blankets to throw over our sleeping bags, but I was still cold.  I was glad I hadn't brought the dog along - he would have been pretty cold.  So we probably didn't sleep as well as we could have, but I was just pleased to be out there.  We just didn't get enough camping opportunities this summer.

On Sunday we drove up the dirt access road part-tway to Yellowbelly Lake in the Sawtooths.  It was even worse than the 4th of July road - LOTs more ruts and big rocks.  We had to stop halfway along because it got too rough for our little car.  But then we were stuck with a hot dusty hike along a cobblestone road surrounded by trees with no view until we got to the lake.  Nothing like the day before.  The lake is nice, and there's good hiking beyond it, but if you want to do this hike, bring a 4-wheel drive vehicle so you can reach the lake itself.  There's just a little bit of parking at the end of the road near the lake.

Anyway, it was fun and I was happy just to be out there.  And it didn't snow!

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Last Day of August

This summer has flown by.  I feel as if I missed the whole month of July, even though I did get to do a few fun things while on detail.  But being away that long meant my garden was not as big as it normally would be, has more weeds in it than usual, and our opportunities for going camping were cut in half.  As it is now, we'll be lucky to get out one weekend in September.  I'd really like to, but I'd also really like to do a good job teaching at the workshop.  And now that hubby is teaching math classes at CWI, his free time is reduced as well.

So we're busier than ever.  But I'd still like to get out there.  I woke up in the middle of the night this weekend thinking I was out in the mountains in a tent.  It might have been a dream I was having.  But it made me realize how much I really want to spend a few days up there, away from all the stupid stuff down here.

The raspberries are doing well, but the grasshoppers are really bad this year.  Guess it's the high water winter we just had.  I'd like to have more of that area fenced off, so we could let the chickens loose in there.  They could take care of a lot of those bugs.  I'm not sure what else to do, except poison it all this winter or maybe in the spring.  This organic gardening thing isn't working out too well this year.

Work will continue to be crazy until the end of September.  So I'll be lucky to write anything here more than once every few weeks.  Hope the rest of your summer is fun.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

End of Summer in Sight

It's going to be really hot this week - the last blast of summer before Fall takes over, I think.  You can already see the days getting shorter.  And with the sun's angle moving north, the heat doesn't hang on into the late afternoon like it did just a month ago.  So we're getting night temps down into the 50's some nights.

The end of September is the end of the Fiscal Year.  So work is a real push from now til then.  And somehow in the midst of all of that overtime, I have to plan a whole day's worth of workshop lessons.  Two dances chosen, 6-8 more to go.  I really have to spend some time next weekend working on it.

So not much mental energy left for blogging, I'm afraid. At least my back is feeling a lot better.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011


I strained my back on Saturday.  It wasn't even doing something cool!  I was just bending forward and *zing*, total lower back spasm.  It seemed to go away at first, but by two hours later it hurt pretty bad.  I spent most of Sunday lying down or moving very slowly.  So on Monday I went to the Dr.  They confirmed it was muscular, not sciatica or anything to do with the bulging disc in my lumbar vertebrae.  So now I'm icing, and on pain meds and muscle relaxants to get it under control.  On Friday I'll go see a physical therapist and hopefully he'll be able to recommend a few things.

I remember having back aches and tendonitis for months at a time in my 20's from dancing four-five days a week.  And yet it didn't slow me down much.  This is different.  Weird how as you get older your tolerance for aches and pains decreases.  And of course, due to the wear and tear, those aches and pains tend to stick around much longer than they did at 24.  At least my plantar fasciitis has really calmed down.  Probably because I haven't been able to exercise much for the past month and a half.  Hubby and I were just getting back to walking and doing the weights last week, and then this happens.  Hopefully I can get back to it by next week, or I'll be a total blob at the dance weekend I'm teaching in early October.  I need to get back some of my muscle tone for that.

Anyway, garden-wise, this has not been a great year.  Too many weeds enjoying the increased rainfall.  I really have to clear out the veg garden once everything has finished.  The raspberries are starting to produce more this week, but I'm having more problems with bugs eating them than I have in the past.  Lots of grasshoppers around.  Seems like the minute a berry turns red something is chewing on it.  So I'm tending to pick them a bit early, just to get whole fruit.

The lone tomato has fruit on it, but it's still green.  And the quail are eating the climbing beans as soon as they've formed.  I'll be lucky to get any beans at all.  I should net them I guess.  sigh.  At least I've got some blueberries this year.  Not a lot, but they're doing well.  So hopefully next year will be even better.

Oh well, sometimes you just have one of those years.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Rafting the Canyon on the Payette

Last weekend we did a full-day raft trip with Cascade Raft  & Kayak on the Payette river, class 3 and 4 rapids.  Wonderful!  I don't think Ken had been on a trip like that before.  I did a half-day trip on the Kicking Horse in the Canadian Rockies in 1993 that I think was about the same level, but on glacier water.  So very cold and a cloudy turquoise color.  And it could just be my inexperienced memory of it, but there was something about the character of the river bed on the Kicking Horse that made the swells of the rapids very tall, especially along the sides when the river went through a steep narrow ravine.  Seems like some of the swells were taller than my head.

Anyway, this was a longer trip with the most challenging rapids I've been on since then.  It started early in the day and the water is higher than normal for this time of year, so we wore wetsuits.  I thought I'd be hot, but I was very happy for the wetsuit for the whole day.  I almost didn't notice the huge waves of cold water falling over me. ;)  We had a great time.  I fully expected one of us might fall into the water, but we didn't.  We were one of three boats doing the run that day, and I think people fell out on one of the other boats.

Driving up into the mountains for the raft trip really put me into the mood for camping - the trees, the pine-scented air.  I'm hoping we can go for a weekend sometime before the end of August.  I'd really like to get up into the Sawtooths before it snows - unlike last year!

Otherwise, summer seems to be zipping by.  I can't believe it's August already.  It's just starting to get reliably into the 90's most days.  My raspberries are a bit behind, but they're just starting to really ripen.  By the end of next week I should be getting a few cups a day.  It has not been a good gardening year for me, mostly due to being away for all of July and a week in June.  So we only have one tomato plant, four pepper plants, some climbing beans and rainbow chard.  There's plenty of chard, but I have yet to harvest anything else.  I'm hoping the peppers do well.  They're the Italian kind that you roast.  It's really nice to have those in the freezer over the winter.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011


street in Bisbee
I did go to Bisbee last weekend.  It was fun.  I did the underground tour of the Copper Queen Mine, looked through the museum, walked up and down the streets, and had lunch at a mexican place.  I enjoyed going to Tombstone, but I think I prefered Bisbee.  There's lots of shopping there too - mostly expensive turquoise.  Too much for my budget but still fun to look at.  I've discovered I prefer spiderweb turquoise.  I'll have to see if I can find a good picture.  It's really pretty.

On the day before I left, I went to the historic old fort on Fort Huachuca.  They still have many of the old original buildings, the parade ground, and a small museum, built in the late 1800's.  Reminded me a lot of the buildings on Fort Harrison in Indy.  Similar architecture.  But such a different climate!

The Copper Queen mine entrance
The internet support for the hotel finally fixed my internet connection last Monday, so I was able to work normally the last week.  Flew home on Friday, and even my suitcase made back on the same day!

Saturday, after I worked in the garden a bit, cleaned house, did laundry and unpacked, we went to see Steve Martin and the Steep Canyon Rangers at Eagle River Pavilion.  Basically one of those huge outdoor trailer stages set on a lawn.  There was a section of chairs near the stage, then an open area of grass for the cheaper seats.  Unfortunately for the band, the organizers had angled the trailer-stage badly, so the setting sun shone on them from their left.  It was hot and it meant the instruments were hard to keep in tune.  Unfortunately for us, the lawn seating area actually angled slightly backwards.  So not only was it hard to see over all the people in chairs, we were actually lower than we should have been.  The band was great, and I was thrilled to see Steve Martin live, but I do NOT recommend the venue.

down in the mine
On Sunday we went to see the new Harry Potter movie.  It was fun. I thought they did a good job ending the series.  I'd even see it again.  Then on Monday I did some shopping.  I have work clothes that need replacing and there were some great end-of-season sales.  It was nice to have three days of free time to get used to being at home again and catch up on my sleep.
old Fort Huachuca

the fort museum
This coming weekend we're going white-water rafting.  It's the trip I bought at the IRU silent auction in November.  I'm pretty sure it's a different part of the Payette than we've been on before, but we'll see.  It'll be nice just to get outside and enjoy.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Weekend at Last

Thursday and Friday were two incredibly frustrating days.  The hotel's internet has been trouble free for three weeks.  But on Thursday it started slowing waaaaay down.  My work computer is required to be hard-wired to the internet with a cable.  I can't use wi-fi.  Usually this is a more secure connection.  But suddenly I couldn't do anything.  I wasn't able to send or receive email and I couldn't log into any of the admin programs, like my timesheet.

Finally on Friday I called the hotel's internet help desk.  The first guy I talked to checked things and found there was a faulty switch on the machines for the wired internet.  The wi-fi was fine.  He wasn't able to immediately fix it, but he said he would.  I had to leave, so I took off, hoping that when I got back things would be back to normal...

Five phone calls and six hours later, things were still not working.  I finally gave up waiting and went to dinner.  I am hoping today that I can at least do my timesheet for the week, but I just haven't had the will to try yet.  After so much stress for the last two days, I'm just going to relax this morning and figure out the internet connection later.

I don't really like living in a hotel, but there is something to be said for watching cable tv from bed w/ my coffee and computer near to hand.  Tomorrow I'm thinking of driving to Bisbee.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Two Weeks to Go

Still here in Sierra Vista for another two weeks.  The past week was in the low or mid 90s.  Still hot, but not unbearable.  I try to do my fieldwork early so I can get home by early afternoon and avoid the worst of the heat.  That also tends to avoid the thunderstorms that have been blowing in nearly every afternoon.  We don't always get rain, but when it does rain it really pours.  There's nothing like driving around town running in and out of places through what feels solid walls of water, or jumping four-foot wide gutters.

Not much going on besides work, so I don't have much to say.  I've been renting DVDs from Hastings on the weekends, just to have something to do that isn't shopping.  The mall here is pretty small, but there's a Dillards, so it's still dangerous.  This weekend I watched the new Star Trek movie, and the new Liam Neeson one, Unknown.  It was good, had a nice twist at the end, but I'm just as glad I rented it rather than going to a movie theater. There are other movies I'd rather spend that money on.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Settling In for the Month

Here I am in Sierra Vista, AZ, until July 22.  One week down, 21 days to go.

It's hot here.  It's averaged about 100F every day.  Sometimes there'll be a thunderstorm to cool things down into the high 70's, but not always.  They're pretty fun to watch though - lots of lightning.  Who knew this part of Arizona has a monsoon season.  The average rainfall here is highest in July and August, about 3".  Weird.

I've been working lots of overtime, but tomorrow I hope to drive out to Tombstone for a little sightseeing.  Today I went to the local farmers market, then did some grocery shopping.  I found a little cafetiere (coffee press) that makes one nice big mug of coffee.  So now I can make it as strong as I want and I don't have to keep going to Starbucks for a caffeine fix.  I may not drink as much as most coffee addicts, but I do get headaches if I go without for more than a day.  It's nice to have some real food after basically living on cereal and microwave dinners for most of the week.

I did find a few Korea restaurants in town though.  On Thursday evening I bought stir-fried squid and vegetables in chili sauce. I forget the Korean name for it.  It was one of my favorite lunches in South Korea.  They also make gim-bap.

I've driven up to Tucson and back at least twice this week.  When I first got here the landscape just looked dried up and barren.  But as I get used to it I see more and more.  Palo Verde trees, barrel cactus, prickly pear, saguaro, and lots of century plants.  There's other things as well but I haven't figured out what they are yet.  I've noticed that after I turn off I-10 and head south towards Sierra Vista, the cactus tends to peter out.  I'm guessing it's the increasing altitude, as SV is over 4600 feet.  The photo is the mountains to the west of town, as seen from Hwy 90.

I had to go to the western edge of south Tucson for one interview, on Mission Rd.  It's very near the Saguaro National monument.  Those were the first saguaro I'd seen outside of the landscaping at Tucson airport.  They're pretty impressive.  I'm hoping to see some up close before I go home.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Electronics Excess

There's nothing like packing for a month-long trip to make you realize how much stuff you think you need for daily life.  Clothes, shoes, toiletries, books, and the most recent "stuff" category - electronic gadgets.  Because it's a work trip, I have the added joy of traveling with an addtional computer and cellphone.  So, two phones, two computers, a camera, and an e-reader, plus all the cables, adapters and chargers.  It's ridiculous.  I resisted getting a cellphone until 2004 and now I have two of the bloody things.

I've been looking at the weather forecast in Sierra Vista for the coming week.  Tomorrow is supposed to be around 100F, but the rest of the week is "only" in the mid to upper 90's, with possible thunderstorms at the weekend.  Cooler than Phoenix anyway.  I think the higher altitude helps a bit.  It should be somewhat similar to Idaho in August, which I've managed to live through before, so I guess I can do it again.  But that heat means more laundry to do.  One of the more annoying aspects of staying in a hotel for a month is running up and down to the laundry and back.  I wish I could have got into the extended-stay apartments at the Marriott, but they were full.  Lots of Feds in that part of the state right now.  Probably the fires.  The latest I've seen is that the fire near town is now 75% contained.

The cottage garden area is doing very well, and other areas are kinda iffy.  I think I need to improve the soil in the beds across from our kitchen windows.  This is the delphinium, a siberian iris, and the phlomis tuberosa about two weeks ago, just after some rain.

 This is my parents' garden in California.  I spent a week here with them while Ken was at a violin-making workshop in Claremont.  It's funny how I used to think of So Cal as so dry and dreary.  Compated to Idaho in the summer it's paradise.

Here we are at the Eagle Renaissance Faire on June 18.  We did two performances.  The second one in falling rain.  How much more Scottish could it be - going to a summer event in the rain? :)
These are the Maltese Cross in my veg garden coming into full bloom a few weeks ago.  There's even more of them now.  They're at least four feet tall this year.  I might try the Chelsea Chop on them next year.  Or maybe cut back only 50% of the stems.  Might prevent some of the flopping problem I've had this year.

I did a 50% chop on the catmint and it's doing fine.  The un-chopped stems are in flower now, and the cut ones will come into bloom later.  The other exciting thing in this bed is that the new Itoh peony (you can just see it's leaves behind the pink geranium near the bottom) has a flower bud on it.  I hope I can get Ken to send me a picture if it flowers while I'm gone.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Happy Solstice

First day of summer.  And so far one of the warmest.  I guess I'm glad to have a chance to get used to warmer weather before heading south next week.

Yep, that's right.  I'm being sent on a work detail to southern Arizona for a month.  I leave Monday for Sierra Vista.  Not exactly thrilled about it, but I plan to work hard and make the four weeks go fast.  And I have the Steve Martin & the Steep Canyon Rangers concert to look forward to the day after I get home.

I've managed to export and then import the posts from my former to this new account.  So hopefully everything is as it should be.  I've also deleted the old blogs.  I haven't imported the Scottish Country dance posts yet, but I will.  I just deleted the Korea blog, since I only had two posts.  Should be easy enough to start over when I have more time.

The weeds are growing ever higher, but the cottage garden area is doing really well this year.  I took pictures a few days ago but haven't had time to upload them onto my computer.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Long Weekend

Rainy and cold yesterday, but the orange iris have started to open. I like these the best. They're such an interesting color.

We did *not* feel like doing things outside. Today started out sunny, but it's clouding over and getting windy. So another spring-stormy day. Supposedly it will be warmer and sunny tomorrow. We'll see. I have a lot to do outside, if it's not raining! I'd like to finally get the swiss chard planted out, and pot-on my seedling tomatoes. At least all the plants already out there are enjoying the rain. The pots on our deck are doing well. I've got some photos to put up but I'll have to add them to this post later.

I also have tomato seeds I should plant, late as it is. I got "Orange Paruche" from Park Seeds. They sounded yummy, so I'm hoping I can get some to grow this year.

It's nice to have three days off at last. I have to do some typing for work, but I can spend a couple hours on that and still have plenty of free time. I've made some good progress on my crochet projects, finally got around to stewing most of the rhubarb in the the fridge, and hard-boiled some eggs. I'm going to make a fruit crumble either this evening or tomorrow morning, using those black currants from Sue. I also hope to make some lemon curd.

Thursday, May 19, 2011


Yikes. I was just out in the veg garden area, pulling rhubarb. It rained all last weekend, which pretty much stopped my plans of digging over the veg patch, pulling weeds and putting in the seedlings. And now it's a complete jungle back there! I'm too embarrassed to put up a picture of it. I hope one of the guys will mow this weekend. The supposed "orchard" grass is really two-foot high cheat-grass and other weeds. At least my pots on the deck are doing well. I really like the monkey flower. The patterning is fascinating, and each one is different. The newest pot has a yellow marguerite daisy and cherry-red million bells. It hasn't really taken off yet, but it's on the verge.

At least the rhubarb is doing well. Whatever variety this is, it's heroic. The stalks are huge. The raspberries are coming along nicely, getting tall and bushy. I'm looking forward to lots of berries this summer.

We have egg build-up again. With six hens it can be challenging to use all the eggs. There's more than five dozen in the fridge. I've been taking a couple dozen to dance classes on Mondays, to give away. The Bru is rehearsing at our house tonight, so that's another two dozen gone, along with some rhubarb. We get things in return, so it all works out. Last week one of the other dancers brought me two quart bags of frozen black currants from her bushes. Yummy! I haven't decided what to do with them yet. I might try another oatmeal crumble.

The tall yellow and blue iris came into bloom this week. The orange ones are a bit later. These iris came from one of the yet-to-be-renovated beds in back of the house, so I'm guessing they're from the 1960's or 70's, when that part of the house was built. The yellow ones don't last well in rain.

Otherwise, there's plenty to do out there! There's so much I wanted to do earlier in the season but the weather didn't let me. Sure hope it doesn't rain this weekend as well. I really have to get the seedlings planted out or I might as well give up on them and buy plants at the farm supply.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Rainety Rain

This is our lilac. It's really bloomed well this year. I managed to prune it at the right time last season, and that appears to have made a difference.

Well, I was wrong about that storm not bringing much rain. It's been raining since yesterday afternoon. So we're getting a good soaking after all. And rather than planting out seedlings, hubby and I went to see a movie, "Source Code". I thought it was good! You get very engaged in trying to figure out the problem along with the main character. I read a review beforehand that said you really need to pay attention to every detail - and at the end I realized I had *still* missed things. So if you see it, pay attention to everything, even the stuff that looks like visual nonsense. I won't say more than that.

The seedlings really need to be put out soon, but the weather is delaying things. I could pot on the tomatoes without putting them outside. I've found it doesn't make a lot of difference here if I put them out mid-May or early June. The important thing is building up a good root system. The small ones soon catch up to the bigger ones when they're out in the sun. So I move them into slightly larger pots after they've reached six inches tall, and plant them deeply. Then they develop more roots along the buried stem. This year I'll probably put them outside by the 31st. I just need a good weekend to work on the veg plot beforehand!

We've decided to call the cat Sofia Underfoot. She's named after a Scottish tune, but this "surname" is incredibly apt, and it has a nice Tolkein-ish sound to it. I'm trying to get a picture as an example.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Garden Pictures

A few more shots of the cottage garden bed, with the tall bearded iris coming into bloom. So far the new plants are surviving well. The blue-eyed grass and poppy seem pretty happy. I just need to keep them watered well. The rudbeckia is very sensitive to being dry, so I check it every day. I remember the other one being like that its first year.

I managed to clip and wash the dog today. We found a tick on his ear flap. It must have just fastened on because it was near normal size. So we have to keep an eye out for ticks now. Sigh. I was pretty happy to not worry about ticks here. I guess if it's going to be wetter, we'll have to deal with it.

I have GIANT pole bean plants taking over the window. I'm hoping I'll be able to plant them out tomorrow, if it's not storming. Along with the tomato start I bought and the baby swiss chard. I have seedling tomatoes as well, but they aren't big enough to put out.

There's a thunder storm blowing in. It's been threatening all day but it may finally be going to do something. Hard to tell, since it's just windy and cloudy. We decided to water anyway, since you can't count on a good amount of water from these Spring storms.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Dwarf Iris in Bloom!

My dwarf iris exploded on Friday. Yesterday, after a few days of rain and sun, they were really going strong.

I gave myself a Mother's Day present on Saturday. Went to the nursery and got a few things I've been wishing for. Two sisyrincum idahoense (blue-eyed grass), papaver orientale 'Beauty of Livermere', a Rustic Dwarves rudbeckia, and a clematis integrifolia (bush clematis).

I've been wishing for that oriental poppy for a while now. The other one has survived out there, so I hope this one will be happy too. Had to cut back the grey groundcover to make room for it. Not much danger of losing that plant.

I'm excited about the bush clematis. It's hiding in between the yarrow and the yellow euphorbia. I don't know if it will flower this year, but hopefully it'll survive and do well next year. I planted the new Itoh peony out there last weekend, between the yellow and blue plant markers. No sign of life yet, which is a bit worrying.

I've had some trouble keeping things going in the front of this bed, but I'm pretty happy with the catnip. It seems to be liking it there. And the evening primrose keeps going, even though it tends to get overshadowed by the sedum next door. The new poppy will come up in spring and die back by mid-summer, so the real challenge will be keeping the groundcover from overwhelming it. That's one of the reasons I took this picture, so I can remember where it is. I should probably take a better shot, since this one doesn't show everything as well as I'd like.