Sunday, November 30, 2014

My Report Card

At the beginning of November I posted a list of projects I wanted to accomplish during the month. So, now it's time for show and tell…

1. Prepare gardens for winter.     Incomplete. But, it isn't 'cause I didn't do something!! The only thing that remains unfinished is turning the vegetable garden, and putting a fence around the tulips. I decided wracking my elbow wasn't worth it.  Grade: C

2. Create!     In progress. I have completed gifts for one son and the MIL. I prepared the gourds for painting.  (Oh, how I wish I could put pictures up of the gifts I made… but I know at least one recipient checks out my blog now and then!)    Grade: C+

3. Complete the sweater I began knitting for my grand niece.    Still knitting! I did make some progress, but I still have a sleeve and a half and trim. Grade D

4. Enjoy Dad.   I get an A+ in this. Well, maybe a B. I hauled out some items and visited almost every day. I made a cushion holder for the gel cushion he uses in his wheel chair, to keep it from slipping forward, and I made a side-support for the wheel chair, since he tends to list to the left, his weaker side. I found some 'tools' at several different 2nd hand shops (did you know that the word 'toy' came from the word 'tool'?). Dad constructs with MegaBlocks and tinkers with an Italian gear toy. I also found a nifty architect toy tool, where he can design houses. It's a bit beyond him, but he does use it now and then. I also found a knobby ball that, with prompting, helps him exercise his left hand. My favorite thing, however, is the "console" I made for him. Perhaps this should raise my grade for creating! What do you think?

It keeps him busy!

5. Make basement habitable.  I painted. I vacuumed. I sorted and moved stuff. I put together the missing can lights and put new bulbs in. I put up pictures. I 'scored', finding two bed spreads at the Salvation Army on 1/2 price day… $5 each! I converted an extra cabinet door into a hat/coat hanger.  I remade the dresser into the vanity for the bath… AND, I cleaned the toilet! Ta-daaa! I haven't bothered to clean it since we moved in, and who knows when it was last cleaned before we purchased the house! Then, I messed it all up again in doing my sewing projects. I still need to move the exercise equipment between the two day beds. I couldn't manage that on my own, but now that Mr. Dreamy is home….   Final Grade: B-

(Mr. Dreamy helped me get the counter/sink on the dresser
when he got back this afternoon!)

6. Finish making quilled Christmas cards.

Well, I made a few. My quilling supplies were with Mr. Dreamy in Florida, so at this point all I could do is put together the cards, and use the few quilled prototypes I made before we left on our trip this fall to finish a few. Actually, after all this effort, I'm not sure I care for them. Oh well, it's better than sending nothing!  Grade: C

So, I didn't fail. I did put a lot of effort into everything. I simply had a problem finishing what I started. Uh, oh. I've heard comments about that throughout my life! 

As much as I groused about creating a list, I did like the idea of having specific things to focus on as the month progressed. Would I have accomplished as much without having created and posted the list? Probably, as there are a number of things I did accomplish that weren't even on the list.  

So, what about December?  

I think I'll forego an actual "to-do" list as almost all of it revolves around preparing the house for the holidays and for guests, and everything that goes along with that (cleaning, organizing, planning menus and getting food, gifts, etc) All I know is that Christmas will be here before I know it… and I have a lot of things to accomplish!

How about you? What are your "must do's" for the coming month?

Saturday, November 29, 2014

A New Leaf on Life

I'm sorry, I couldn't resist the play on words.
But, I really do have a new leaf.
See it here?!

I have two phalaenopsis orchids.  It is hard to resist buying them at Costco or Trader Joe's. They are so beautiful, but generally, once they have finished blossoming I can't do a thing with them, except throw them out. This year, knowing we'd be traveling and house plants would not receive even my terrible standard of care, we installed them in this handy dandy greenhouse my son gave us a few years ago. 

It seems they like the humid environment. Duh! They live in the jungle, you know!! Besides the new leaf, the other phalaenopsis put up lots of roots… and a new flower shoot. It turns out it was drowning in an inappropriate pot with no drainage. I guess the flower stalk was a last chance bid to share its genes in this world! I repotted it, in orchid bark, in an orchid pot, and put it back in the greenhouse. It will probably die, now!

However, the reason I chose to select the picture above is so you can see the background. See the gapped-tooth grin in the stone on our fireplace? When we moved in a lot of the rock had fallen off. We never found the one(s) that went front and center. But, now….

My painted styrofoam looks pretty good, don't ya think?! I'm not certain what I'll do when we turn the fireplace on. Perhaps it will have to be like dentures that have to be taken out at certain times!

Here is another example of a new leaf on life…

This cruddy, old dresser was exactly the right size to be reborn as a vanity for the sink we pulled out of the bathroom in the basement. 
I took the top off. Cut the drawers and cut the back for the pipes and drain.

I realized the vanity was going to be really short. 
So I added some height.

 After a few coats of paint…
and some details…

It's finished! 
And look, it has leaves, too!

Now I just need to wait for Mr. Dreamy to come home to help me hoist the sink on top!
Oh, and yeah, I have to decide what to do about knobs for the drawer fronts.

We have had some gorgeous sunrises and sunsets.  Last night, as I was leaving my Dad's building, I was hit, smacked in the face, by this sunset. The cerulean/turquoise blue of the sky was almost blinding. The brilliance doesn't quite translate over to the picture. But, coming outside to this just takes ones breath away… and certainly gives one a new leaf lease on life!

I hope you can enjoy a new 'leaf' on life, too!

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Wacky Weather

Six feet of snow near Buffalo, then 60* a week later…
Torrential rains that are forecast to bring 3" of rain near Seattle…
Tornado warnings in the southeast...

Crazy weather!

Our weather is unsettled, too.

We don't know what season it is!
We had snow...

Then it melted.
We had mini "blizzards" when we weren't supposed to have snow.
Even the dogs didn't want to go out!
Gypsy doesn't like the snowballs in her feet.
Tucker shakes the snow off his coat.

Yesterday we had ominous skies.

The clouds on the horizon turned out to be snow squalls.
The weather whooshed in…
bringing rain and graupel pelting down…
driven by a strong wind.
Snow began swirling in the wind.

As fast as it came…
It left.
On its way to pelt those living south of me!

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Tucker Talks: The Good and the Bad

What an exciting week this has been....but it had humaniliating moments, too.
I had several chances to herd those big animals that the lady who feeds me calls "damn deer". One morning I had three of them all bunched together in my back yard.  We were having so much fun! Then, they decided to leave and they jumped the fence. I called to them, "Come back!" I called over and over but they bounded away. Then one morning there were four of them just over the fence. How frustrating. I told hem to come on in and play. They wouldn't. Then I said, if you won't come here, then go away. Skedaddle. They wouldn't. They just looked at me with their freaky big eyes, put their heads down and continued eating. This morning there were four in my front yard. Right there, beyond the sidewalk. You can see where the snow is all mushed up by their pointy little feet. I can't get to the front yard to herd hem, but I made a fuss and they left, slowly. Oh, how I wish I coulda been out there to show them where to go...and how fast they should get there!

One day that lady that feeds me went out. When she came back she had two brand new beds for me and Gypsy. Wow! They are clean, and fluffy and it will take me a while to break mine in and get my hair threaded into that fluffy stuff, and get it so it smells like the yard, and like me. I have my work cut out!

Then, the most terrible, humaniliating thing happened. That lady took me out and into a place that wasn't where the lady with shots is, and wasn't the place where they have all kinds of yummy smelling things and where they give me a treat when that lady buys something. This place was different. It smelled like dogs...but it also smelled....clean. The lady who feeds me left me there. I can't begin to describe the terrible things that were done to me. But....oh, this is so hard to share, but, look what they did to me. Just look! I am so glad I don't have to be walked at a campground where all the dogs could see me. I look like some sort of freaky poodle or something. You can almost see my hiney hole! Geesh, I hope my hair grows back soon!

Oh, I did show that lady who feeds me how I felt. Even though I couldn't bring "half the tree" into the house in my hind end, as she told the man at that smelly place, I did get those pretty white feet all dirty! Hah! You can take me out and get me all cleaned up, but I'll undo it any way I can!

Friday, November 21, 2014

Learning Left

One of my big fears has come to pass - I have not been able to play pickleball due to an injury. Picture me looking very sad… and mad, too! I injured my elbow at the end of August. Oh, well, I thought, I have two months of traveling, so I can give the elbow a rest. The elbow did get a bit better… but not enough. And, as soon as I returned home and began doing physical things around the house, the pain intensified. I have lateral epicondylitis, commonly referred to as tennis elbow.

Healing can take over four months. The last time I developed tennis elbow it took a year to recover. But, I refuse to wait that long to play pickleball! I enjoy the sport too much to hang it up. So, what's a person to do? Well… since I can't use my right arm, and since I was given two arms, I'll just learn to play with my left. Insane, huh? I guess that's what addictions do - they make people do crazy things! I have been pleasantly surprised at how quickly I have adapted to left handed play. I manage to get over 50% of my shots in bounds, and each time I play I find that I can return more shots. Serving is still a bit of a challenge, and all of my shots are wimpier. But… I get to play, and for that, I am thankful!
My Doctor prescribed anti-inflammatory medication and physical therapy. The medication has worked wonders in relieving a lot of the pain. I am performing the PT exercises religiously. And some day, my arm will be as good as better than new. But, until that time, I'll continue to work toward becoming a leftie!

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Power of Ten

In the past weeks I have been doing some blog hopping, catching up on some of my blog friends. Fundy Blue put up a post on her blog, Standing Into Danger, about, "The Power of Ten". When I was reading it, I almost felt like "hitting myself up side the head" as they say in the south.

In her blog, Fundy Blue explained that her cousin Pat had told her, "Give me ten minutes, just ten minutes and I'll get something done." What a positive outlook. I love it. There are so many times when I am stalled in my life, when I won't, or don't move forward, because whatever I am facing seems too big, too complicated or just too much of a hassle to deal with, and I get lost in listless lethargy (or sit down and waste untold hours perusing stupid stuff on the computer!)

If, instead, I adopt "The Power of Ten",  I could attack those issues by dedicating ten minutes to move forward. Just ten minutes. Ten teeny tiny, lousy, little minutes. One measly percent of my time awake each day.  Just what I need to get kick-started on so many things (did you see my November list?!) and then I know I'll find myself rolling forward and the ensuing sense of accomplishment will carry me on.

Thanks, Pat, and Fundy, for helping me work on being more productive!

Given the "Power of Ten", what might you accomplish today?

Sunday, November 16, 2014

There's More Than One Way

I'm stubborn. If I set my heart on something… I will make it happen, come Hell or high water! I guess you could also say I lack patience!

Yesterday afternoon I decided that I would like a cup of Chai Latte. I have a Keurig coffee maker and I have creamy Chai Latte K-cups. Yum! That chai would hit the spot. I put the package in the machine and received the following message:

What?! You are kidding me. I checked the K-cup, it said, "Keurig" on it. I tried again and received the same message. So… since the company provided a number, I called, and talked with the official "Oops" folks at Keurig. (I'm not kidding! When you call the number you get a recording that says, "Thank you for calling the Keurig Oops line….")

It seems that Keurig has ramped things up a bit. They have made their new machines smart enough to 'read' whether the user has an official "Keurig" K-cup, or some other brand. The packaging of their K-cups has been changed. New products have a white or light purple ring around the lid. If the K-cup does not have the ring, the coffee maker won't make the coffee. It's as simple as that!

Or is it?

Don't tell Dreaming she can't have her Chai and slurp it, too!!!

There's more than one way to skin a cat!!

I do need to say that Keurig has been wonderful to me over the years. We bought our first machine in 2010. It is still making wonderful coffee. However, it is on the motor home, and so is Mr. Dreamy…. in Alabama. So, if I wanted coffee, and to eliminate the need of lugging the Keurig back and forth (always the last thing on the coach and the first thing back in the house) we decided to get another. When I called the "Oops" line, I was offered a coupon that I could use when I made my first order of products online.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

The Weatherman Didn't Lie

I know that Meteorologists have lots of new and improved technology at their fingertips to help them predict the weather. I'm sure computers have made a huge impact on the art of prediction.

But so many times it seems that Mother Nature wants to be ornery and the weather guys just don't get it right. This week was not one of those times. This time the weather guys were 'spot on'!

The prediction for Monday was that the cold weather 
would move into our area around noon. 
It did!

They predicted that we would get 1" - 2" of snow. 
We did!

The weather reports indicated that we would wake to 
temperatures below 0.
Right, again!

(Pay no attention to the time, 3:40 or the date, 9/29.)
The battery that handles this information is not working.
(I'd make a lousy weather guy!)
The correct time: 8:00 AM
The correct date: 11/12/14

I'm hunkered down for the day. 
I have lots of projects I can work on (remember my November List?!)

I made a tent for the plants in the garage.
They are at 50 degrees with the help of an oil heater.

The dogs are holding vigil at the door,
taking brief jaunts outside to chase errant bunnies.

I wonder about the bunnies, the birds and the beasts.
How do they feel about the weather?
At what temperature do they feel the cold?
Do they grumble about the snow?

The local news is campaigning to inform listeners about
bringing pets inside.
This was picture was posted on Facebook by KOAA news.
Evidently the police are on their way to check on the dog,
and educate the owners.
Poor pup...

Follow-up: A comment on the Facebook post by KOAA news reported that the owners were visited by the police and have let the dog inside. I hope they keep him in.

Monday, November 10, 2014

The Arctic Express

They say if you don't like the weather in Colorado, wait 5 minutes. A bit of hyperbole, perhaps, but with temperatures plummeting 20 degrees in 30 minutes today, it isn't that far from the truth!

Here is a sequence of photos taken over four hours by Chris Nie, a student at CU Boulder.

It was 56 outside when I left the house this morning. 
It was 34 three hours later. 
It is 13 12 10 now, with some light snow.

Now, that's cold!

I think I'll hibernate!

Sunday, November 9, 2014


I unearthed all of the remaining root crop vegetables in our garden. I have 2 gallon bags of beets, a collection of fairly small carrots that had tried to grow under the squash that encroached on their space, and a turnip.

A turnip?

I didn't plant turnips!

Regardless, it will be tasty!

I also cut most of the Silverbeet Swiss chard,
also known as Rainbow Swiss chard.
Isn't it beautiful?

The colors make me smile.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Make Hay While the Sun Shines

I'm not gonna be making hay, but I want to take advantage of our nice weather over the next two days to get a few chores finished outside. I can leave my basement projects for now. The basement will be dry, even if not very warm, once the  arctic chill hits us.

So, today I want to dig up my Dahlia tubers. I wasn't successful in over-wintering them last year, but as the old adage goes, if at once you don't succeed….  
I think my problem is finding a place that will stay between 40-50 degrees. I tried a corner of the basement last year - probably too warm for the tubers. I'll try the garage this year, although I am not holding out too much hope. The garage door has southern facing windows so it can sometimes get toasty in there, and, if we have an extended period of cold, I think it might dip to freezing. But, I love my Dahlias, so it is worth a try. 

I have some kale, beets and carrots in the garden to harvest. The beets may not be in the best of shape as we did have some freezing weather, but I'll see if they may be salvageable. Worst case scenario, I can harvest the lower portion of the beet and enjoy the yummy beet salad I made while we were on our trip!

The last thing I want to get accomplished is to put Christmas lights on at least one tree. It is ever so much nicer to wrestle lights and scratchy tree branches when the sun is shining and your hands aren't freezing, than wait for more seasonable weather to put you in the mood!

Those are my marching orders for the day. What plans do you have for this weekend?

Friday, November 7, 2014

Oh, Lord… Gourds!

We Dreamers never touched the gourds. 
They sat in our garage, 
in the very same bag in which they were packed when we bought them.

It is time to get to work and do something with them!

The skin on the gourd has to be taken off.
The very thin, 
very stubborn,

There are two ways to accomplish this.
Too bad, but they all involve
"elbow grease"!

The traditional way is to soak the gourds for about 24 hours.

Have you every tried to cover an air filled object in water?

Underneath my tipsy tower, in the light grey bucket,
there are about a half dozen gourds soaking in water. 
(It would have been much easier if I still had the tops to all of the buckets!)

Another option is to float the gourd in water
and drape a wet towel over it.

The gourds can be buried in wet potting soil for 1 -2 days.
The soil must surround the gourd, but many gourds
can be layered in one bucket.

The soil must be moist, but not sopping. 
If you figure out how to do that, let me know!
Even though I used my garden moisture indicator,
my first attempt left some gourds nestled in dry soil.
My next batch bordered on 'sopping'!

Regardless, both methods softened the paper-thin skin.

A dry gourd,
A gourd after soaking,
A gourd with the skin removed.

Here is where the elbow-grease comes in.
The wet gourd must be scoured to remove the softened skin.

Scouring round gourds is not for the feint of heart.
It will leave your fingernails in tatters
and your knuckles just might have their own
thin layer of skin removed!

I used steel wool and a stainless steel pot scrubber.
I also thought a small steel brush 
(if I could find one around the house)
might have been helpful, 
especially for tight areas around the stem.
(Scrub the stem, too.)

After all of the skin is removed, the gourds need to dry, but not in the sun as this could cause the gourds to crack. The gourds soaked in soil may have absorbed more water than those receiving the water treatment. It is recommended that you drill a small hole in the gourd to help it dry completely.

Here are some of my gourds, 
standing pretty and clean, 
all in one line.
What next? I try to decide.
At least drying buys me some time!

 Information about cleaning gourds came from the Wuertz Farm Web site

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