naturedance: crafting joy (crafting joy)

I have to spend time in the open air with green growing things. Wild spaces tend my soul.


I love tending plants, and I love visiting gardens, parks and farmers markets.


I’m a member of The Nature Conservancy, The Sequoia Natural History Association, and Descanso Gardens.



I also enjoy visiting the Angeles National Forest, Los Angeles County Arboretum and the Huntington Gardens.


my garden


I’m currently living in an apartment with only the opportunity for indoor houseplants (Christmas cacti, at the moment, though I’d like to have a spider plant as soon as I figure out the best way to hang the pot from my ceiling) and a small container garden on the balcony.



At various times, I’ve grown herbs and flowers there…




  • spearmint

  • rosemary

  • chives

  • succulents

  • chrysanthemums

  • geraniums and a Martha Washington (aka regal pelargonium)

  • daffodils, tulips, irises and other assorted spring bulbs



I have also tried growing the following, but parts of the balcony get too hot and one year a nasty whitefly infestation took over…



  • oregano

  • basil

  • dill

  • parsley

  • different pepper varieties

  • different tomato varieties



farmers markets


The next best thing to growing food yourself is shopping for it at a local farmers market.



my dream-garden


In the garden of my imagination, I have a yard filled with beautiful plants, flowers, herbs, fruits, vegetables, trees… I count the following online suppliers among the wishbooks of my dreams… (but before I order anything in reality, I’d check out a forum like The Garden Watchdog to make sure there’s no recent history of trouble with the companies order processing or products!)


naturedance: this is me reading Walden (me reading Walden)
Twelve steps of job and life transitioning )

And a few more things...

Remember to breathe.

Take time to meditate.

Smile.

Be happy.

Live. Laugh. Love.
naturedance: my foot, in my boot, on Mount Rainier (cascade)
Somehow I missed the memo that today was going to be Adele's Apartment Impersonates The Titanic Day.

*rolls eyes*

None of my belongings have been water-damaged, but that's only because I've been decluttering and sorting things into well-labeled tubs, which were relatively easy to move, and I spent quite a chunk of last night and this morning moving things around and setting up fans/towels/plastic tarping. But my desk area that passes for a home office is now in three different places in the apartment (including half of the dining room table, where my PC is set up so I could finish working on and print my homework project that was due tonight) and all of the stuff I had in that corner and along both the east and south walls of my bedroom (and that's a lot of stuff) has been relocated.

Three different maintenance people have been by to look at the wet spots and dripping and seeping in my bedroom, and out on the roof, and another batch are coming tomorrow (my wonderful roommate will be dealing with them). The "repairs" that were done toward the end of the last rainy season made things worse. The first little showers of the season a few weeks ago didn't get in, but we had a right proper deluge today and well, I had a right proper deluge today. A more serious storm would have had soggy chunks of the ceiling losing cohesion, I'm sure, because two portions look close to doing so now; this was a sizeable storm but only lasted a night and a day... SoCal rainstorm season will put down much more than that in the coming months.

There's lots of water trying to come in all over the ceiling, and just as worrying, there are lines and spots at different heights on the east and south walls and they're getting bulgey and soggified as the water comes through(ewwww), and even a bit is dampening one spot near the top of the west wall close to the central air vent. The downstairs neighbors apparently had water actually coming in, too, in a couple places; it must have travelled down through the walls and made either their walls or ceiling soggy enough to allow the water through. The whole place smells funny and feels chill and damp, but I've got fans and I know how to use 'em.

Don't worry, Mom, we'll get it all taken care of, and I'll tear the leasing office a new one if they don't get this fixed and fixed right this time.

Girl scouts are always prepared, etc etc yadda yadda yadda. Yes, I do have plastic tarping on hand and plastic tablecloths and I can reconfigure my entire living space in roughly a day and a half. But it sure would have been nice not to have had to. Especially right now.

In other news, I think I did OK on the midterm tonight. It's very strange to sit down and take a true/false and multichoice test and then turn it in and then... leave. I don't think I've done that in fourteen years or so. Very, very strange.

Between the deluge in the apartment and the impending reorg at work... well, one wouldn't want life to be dull, would one? Just call me Molly Brown. :-)
naturedance: my foot, in my boot, on Mount Rainier (path less traveled)
Sometimes cocooning is necessary and good.

Work may be insanely busy, but the past few months I've ended up doing herculean sprints and then crashing, and that's not a good long-term survival strategy for what's turned out to be a marathon machine room move. Pace yourself, woman!
naturedance: my foot, in my boot, on Mount Rainier (reflective)
And I came up with a list of books that my home wouldn't feel like my home without. I also had a couple lists of memorable books from my childhood and young adulthood that I often find myself telling people about, so I finally put all of my little lists together someplace where I won't lose it (and I can point people to easily)... it's now up on my page about homemaking.

While I was puttering around a bit with my website putting that up, I also added pages for gardening and knitting.

I love the web.
naturedance: crafting joy (crafting joy)
The Burbank farmers market was fabulous again this week. Between work stress, car stress and headaches this week, I really needed the brisk morning breeze and the sunshine and the flowering trees along my walk, and all sorts of fresh goodies to haul home. Puttering around in the kitchen helped de-stress me some, too.

Made a wonderful chicken soup yesterday, and am experimenting more with making homemade stock... every time we roast a chicken from Trader Joes, we've been boiling the meat left on the bones and then freezing the stock for use later. We did this last Thanksgiving, Yule and Christmas (yes, we ate a lot of chicken!) and have been working our way through the stash of frozen stock, so when we roasted two small birds last week, it was time to make more broth.

I tried making vegetable stock last weekend, too... The Joy Of Cooking has instructions for everything. Yesterday I tried making celery stock for the first time since there was a really good deal on huge tall bunches of celery at the market and they were too tall to store in the fridge unless I trimmed the tops off... it smelled up the kitchen nicely as it was cooking down.

In other news, I moved the rainbow maker from the living room window to my bedroom window this morning, and it's currently driving my cat batty. She's chasing the rainbows and I haven't seen her this active in a long, long time. I hope she doesn't give herself a coronary or anything...

*pounce!* *batbatbatswatbatbatbat!* *boundboundPOUNCE!*

Hon, if you're going to jump onto the bed, you have to actually, you know, jump all the way. Changing your mind mid-jump means your rump doesn't get up to the level of the mattress and then you land ungracefully, dear...

*stalkstalkstalkBOUNDboundPOUNCE!* *batbatbatbatbatbatbat*

OK, now she's just flopped on the rug, with her nose and eyes and ears swiveling all over the place... well, her tail's still going a bit batty, but she looks OK. Every now and then she glares at me accusingly as if to say, "You let a whole flock of these unsmellable unhearable butterflies in here for me to chase, and now I can't grab hold of any of them!"
naturedance: crafting joy (crafting joy)
I adore the Montrose farmers market that happens on Sundays, and when I used to live close enough to walk there, that was a lovely outing. I've still been driving to it sometimes because the fresh veggies and organic foods there usually taste better than the stuff in the major chain grocery stores (Ralphs, Vons, Pavillions, Albertsons) and are usually cheaper than the stuff in the fancy organic grocery stores (Wild Oats, Whole Foods, Trader Joes).

Plus what's better than wandering around in the fresh air and sunshine looking at fresh flowers and sun-kissed honey jars and homemade herby soaps and sweet crunchy fruit and crisp hearty vegetables that are in season?

Yeah, I love it.

And it turns out that there's a farmers market right here in Burbank. The location is wrong on that listing, by the way; it's really at 3rd and Orange, in the S-shaped parking area between the Fire & Police Headquarters, City Hall and the Courthouse.

By the way? The www.downtown-burbank.com website really sucks. It's not that the design is completely unusable... but it's frames, which makes it difficult to point people to specific pages or bookmark them, and the bigger problem is that there's apparently no data at all in the Events section. I mean seriously, there's nothing going on in the city? Bull. My Burbank Water & Power bill has inserts every month with all sorts of municipal information, public events, deadlines for wood shake roofs to be replaced with something less flammable, elections... the next election is April 12th. There's an Earth Day celebration on April 16th at two locations in town. There's a "torchiere trade-in" in May where you can trade in halogen torchieres for fluorescent ones if you're a BW&P customer. And their insert about the farmers market is how I found out about it.

I think I'll email the downtown-burbank site maintainers and ask why they haven't partnered with the utility company to get this information online that the BW&P folks are already getting out to people on recycled paper. Hmph! Inefficiency! Must fix!! :-)

AHA! Turns out the real website is at http://www.downtown-burbank.org/ and the Events page there is up to date. Yay!

In any case, the farmers market yesterday was fabulous. I stocked up on sage, orangeblossom and wildflower honey, picked up some cheap tasty onions and some marvelous strawberries, and brought home a spearmint plant and a rosemary plant to restart the herb garden on the porch. Plus it was wonderful just wandering around outside.
naturedance: my foot, in my boot, on Mount Rainier (winter wonderland)
The magnolias and clivias have been blossoming on campus lately, and they're beautiful.

Living in an apartment complex with a hot tub is marvelous, especially when I remember to actually spend time soaking stress away in it.

Really good salad is a wonderful thing. So is hot chai tea.
naturedance: my foot, in my boot, on Mount Rainier (autumn bountiful harvest)
Been meaning to update here more often, but...

...if wishes were horses then beggars would ride, or something like that, right?

Had a lovely holiday weekend. We roasted four whole chickens over the past four days, made five different kinds of stuffing, and had a total of three Thanksgiving dinners that couldn't be beat, not counting the leftovers noshing. I listened to Alice's Restaurant. We had friends over. We boiled the remains of the roasted chickens and made homemade soup stock to stash in the freezer. We took down our autumn, Samhain, Halloween and Thanksgiving decorations, and began putting up our winter, Yule, and Christmas decorations. I saved more holiday music from my CDs into my home 'puter, and moved the subwoofer and one set of speakers from my bedroom to the living room, so now I can pipe playlists there, which is especially good since my stereo out there is on its last legs. The stereo up in the loft still works nicely, of course, but there's something to be said for programming a playlist of many, many hours of custom-mixed music, you know? I love the holiday music I have on CD...

I started getting organized for The Holiday Card-Mailing Adventure of 2004. I'm really glad I keep buying cards in January every year... I have a sizeable stash of them, though it's taken me a few months to figure out where I'd squirreled them all away this time, since 2003 was pretty much utter chaos, the few years before that weren't all that much better, and moving last April just let the disorganization reign a while longer.

Which reminds me... if you suspect that I may have lost your current address, or never had it to begin with, please email me at adele @ shakal.org so I have a chance at keeping my rolodex thing up to date!

I actually went to Fry's early in the morning on Black Friday because one of the friends we had visiting this weekend is very good with computer hardware installation and repair, and I needed a few specific bits for the project I needed her help with. It wasn't bad... well, I had fun, anyway. It was a chill, foggy morning, and Fry's opened at 6am. I got there at 6:30 and spent about 45 minutes waiting in line to get into the store, a half hour finding what I wanted, and another 45 minutes waiting to check out. I thanked every retail worker I bumped into for working that day. In retrospect, I should have worn my santa hat. That would have been even more fun! Then I stopped at Trader Joe's to replenish provisions for one of the feasts, and picked up a lovely and lovely-smelling wreath for which I still need to get an over-door hanger. But it smells really great!

I started working on my wishlist for this year, since Thanksgiving is the time my parents and I always did that when I was younger. I'm almost done with it; I'll probably post it tomorrow.

I spent some time on my projects-and-purchases gift list for others, too. Wow, do I need to do a lot of crocheting this month...

I spent some time going through three boxes of computer-related clutter in my room, though I'm still working on the Great Decluttering and Simplification of 2004. I did a bit of work, too, because I didn't get to all of the items on last week's to-do list for work, and deadlines are looming.

Oh, that's right... I didn't mention my latest effort to get organized at work here! I've been feeling really, really swamped lately, and last week, after being inspired by [livejournal.com profile] yesthattom's time management tutorial at LISA, I took all of the random lists and scraps of paper and random things I've been worrying about for work lately, and made a big list of all of it. Then I shuffled things around according to importance and deadlines and broke it up into weekly lists from last week until the end of December, and monthly lists for all of next year. Yes, I was carrying around an index of some stuff I need to do next year in my head! Yeesh. No wonder I've been feeling miserable.

Anyway, it turns out to be eight pages when I print out the HTML file. But that's OK. At least it's not rattling around in my skull making me miserable. I printed it out and chopped it up into the weekly and monthly lists and stuck it up on my bulletin board at my desk, and kept last week's list on the desk right beneath my monitor. I got almost everything on last week's list done (except for the items I took home this weekend), which was rather shocking, actually. So now I'm just finishing the things I took home and did some of this weekend, and then starting in on this week's list.

I used to do this sort of thing all the time. I don't know when or why I fell out of the habit, but I'm going to do the 21-day habit-forming thing and get back on the wagon.

After all, there's a saying in Dad's family: "Hitch your wagon to a star, bust your butt and there you are!"

I had apple-cranberry pie for breakfast, and now I have hot chai tea, which smells and tastes wonderful, I'm listening to Vivaldi's Four Seasons, and I know exactly what I need to get done at work today.

It's a good morning!
naturedance: my foot, in my boot, on Mount Rainier (Default)
Lately I've just not been feeling rested, even though I've been (trying to) sleep enough. I've had too many things chasing each other around in my brain, I guess. But things sort of crested last week and I've finally started making headway on the half-started and half-finished things I've been wanting done at home, and I took some time for myself and for fun, and I'm feeling a bit better.

Clearing physical clutter that has been bothering me for a while seems to have the effect of clearing mental clutter in the process.

And a wonderful, refreshing trip to Descanso Gardens didn't hurt, either. :-) Roommate and I had done a quick trip the weekend before last, but we'd gotten a late start that day and the garden was one of the final items on our list, so we only had about twenty minutes before closing. This weekend we went to the gardens in the late morning and early afternoon, and had plenty of time to wander around. It's wonderful to get out into the fresh air, surrounded by growing things, seeing the seasons turning right in front of you, stopping to smell the roses and watch the koi.

After that, we stopped at Min's Kitchen for the best Thai food anywhere. :-)

I had been thinking about going down into LA, but since it was already nearly evening and we were both stuffed full of really, really good Thai food, we decided to finish my errand to the outdoorsy store, and then forage at the local independent grocer instead. We brought home all sorts of goodies, including some wonderful Granny Smith's to make pie of.

On Sunday I wandered over to get my hair trimmed, and ended up getting sidetracked afterwards browsing in Cost Plus and brought home a few bags of goodies. I have to say that their Pumpkin Ale is one of the stranger beers I've tasted, but it's good. After that, we walked over to Market City Caffe for really, really, really good ravioli, and we watched little trick-or-treaters go past on the sidewalk.

The clocks changed this weekend, which is always disorienting for me. I grew up in the middle of Indiana, where the clocks never change, ever. I usually drag my way through the entire week or two after the change feeling like I've got jet lag, without the fun of even going anywhere.

I've been waking just before dawn the past few days, and watching the sky lighten and the sun begin to rise. It's a nice feeling, even if on Saturday I needed to nap midmorning before we could run our errands. I've really made a dent in the decluttering and organizing I've been needing to work on since we moved in April. I lost count of the number of times I scampered out to the living room saying, "Hey, look what I found! I knew it was buried in there somewhere!"

My new mantra is "I do not need to keep decades-old phone bills to prove that I exist." Yay for pitchfits!

Tonight it's a stop at the bookstore, and then to Target for a new muffin pan on the way home, and then some baking if I have the energy, and then last-minute research on local politics and the last of the California Propositions. I'm planning on voting first thing tomorrow morning.

Voter Registration Information
Voter Information
Election and Voter Information
The Official Voter Information Guide (Principal and Supplemental) for the CA November 2, 2004 Election
California propositions

League of Women Voters's site for Democracy.net Election 2004: Candidates and Information lets you type in your zip code for information about your specific candidates and ballot measures.

Democracy For America
naturedance: my foot, in my boot, on Mount Rainier (Default)
My orange mollies had more babies on Friday night and Saturday morning. And there were even more on Sunday afternoon. I spent quite a bit of time slowly chasing the little fry around with my net, so I could scoop the little rascals over into the nursery side of the tank before their parents or aunts and uncles decided that they might look like lunch.

Anyone local want to adopt some lovely orange mollies? The previous few birthings are now inchlong teenagers, starting to chase each other around the nursery...

I made a lovely pork roast dinner layered in the crockpot on Saturday:

quartered red taters
small carrots
sliced onions
sliced celery
cup or two of water
pork roast
dash of soy sauce
dried garlic flakes
paprika
lemon pepper
sliced lemon
orangeblossom honey

Mmmmmm. The vegetables turned out wonderfully, and the roast was nicely moist. The sauce tasted wonderful over herbed breads from Berolina's Bakery in Montrose... Roommate and I stopped at the bakery and then Descanso Gardens on Saturday afternoon. We found rosemary bread, black olive bread, sun-dried tomato bread, and potato-dill bread, I think... a mixed bag of little tiny loaves and two big ones has the flavors a bit jumbled in my mind.

On Sunday I made a really huge pot of bean soup:

small white beans
yellow dried peas
brown rice
water
tomato puree
sliced celery
halved small carrots
chopped onion
dried garlic flakes
basil
paprika
chili powder
dash of thyme
two cubes of chicken bouillon
two cubes of beef bouillon

Served with herbed bread cubes sprinkled liberally on top. Mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm.

Since it's supposed to rain again tomorrow and Wednesday, having comforting cocoon food to come home to, without doing any further work other than reheating and slicing up some more of the bread... well, it should be pretty obvious by now that I adore southern California autumn.

Oh! I almost forgot to mention! My daffodils and what I suspect are some of the wild and/or varietal tulips have started coming up in my rectangular pots on the front walkway! These are rather mysterious bulbs that I've tucked into those pots, a few different kinds each year for the past four or five years, so it's anyone's guess at this point what has survived and what hasn't. I just keep tucking a few more bulbs in the bare spots each year, and the pots are very cheery near the front door with some annuals in amongst the bulbs the rest of the year. The irises are putting up new leaves, the remaining mum from last year has sent up one new little stem of leaves, the pansies I put in a few weeks ago are loving the location and the rain and cool nights from last week, the succulent pot is going gangbusters, and the geraniums are doing great, although I lost one stem of the Martha Washington in the rainstorm's runoff from the roof. That reminds me, I need to shift those pots around before the next rains.

The back balcony "kitchen garden" isn't doing so well. The remaining couple of tomato plants are just... reedy and stringy. I'm thinking I may just chuck them. The peppers are still plagued by whiteflies, but it's not as bad as it was. I should spray them again. The lemon grass is doing great, the chives are still in the happy process of coming back from certain death, the basil keeps trying to get reedy and flower, the thyme died back in the last heat wave of August but after I trimmed back the dead stuff it has started to put up new little leaves, and the spearmint took a hit during that same heat wave but is coming back. I picked up rosemary and pink rosemary and dill this weekend; I hope to transplant them into nice big pots tonight.
naturedance: my foot, in my boot, on Mount Rainier (Default)
Very foggy this morning. Guess autumn is here!

Bless chicken broth with brown rice, cinnamon oatmeal with big plump raisins, hot Tang (I make it really, really strong), and basic pasta and tomato sauce. And microwaveable hot packs, and cold packs I keep stashed in the freezer. Also Naked Juice's Immunity line of drinks. I've been indulging in those from the Broad Cafe almost every workday morning, either the Power-C or the Well-Being, which is my favorite so far of all their drinks I've tried. It really made a difference this year. I've had more energy and been less sick, even though I worked just about every new student event on the schedule and have roughly a zillion projects going on.

These wonderful students returning to classes (and staff and faculty returning from vacation) are not just the future of Caltech and of science, they're also disease vectors. ;-) Doesn't matter which cold they bring with them when they return to campus from wherever they've been... I always manifest it in sinusitis.

But I am feeling sooooooooooo much better today.

My cat is doing better, too. I've learned how to give her insulin injections and she's already slightly more active and just... perkier. She was pretty chatty this morning for the first time in a week and a half, and her visits to the litterbox are decreasing to a more sensible level. I've got to remember to stop and pick up more litter on the way home this afternoon.

Here is a good online guide for folks whose pets have just been diagnosed with diabetes. For the record, I've spent the following so far on Oci's diagnosis and treatment:

$32 vet office visit
$17 urinalysis
$82 complete blood work panel (apparently her liver and kidneys are working a little too hard, but the creatinine and other indicator levels should come down as we get her blood sugar under control - glucose levels were above 500... I find it humorous that she, too, has high cholesterol)
$40 bottle of insulin, should last us for 2 months
$ 4 10-pack of syringes, should last us a little over a month

- about a week busy at work and worrying about when I'd be able to get her in to see the vet
- a weekend fretting once I spent a day at home and realized how lethargic she'd gotten and how much water she was drinking
- a day being a bit overwhelmed once the diagnosis was made from the urine test but before the bloodwork results were in so we could start figuring out what insulin levels to start her on
- two trips to the vet office

I adore my vets' office. Parkview Pet Clinic in Glendale is great, and both of the vets there are marvelous. The needles are really tiny, and if these first three times are any indication, Oci barely even feels it when I give her an injection. When I was dozing yesterday she hopped up on the bed to just check on me, the first time she's done that in a while. I'm so glad she's feeling better. If she needs insulin for the rest of her life, that's OK. Some cats are diabetic for a while and somehow recover from it; others stay diabetic for years.

I love my little critter dearly... but even Mom agrees that one of Oci's middle names has to be Troublesome. Ocelette Troublesome Shakal. )

Yep.
naturedance: my foot, in my boot, on Mount Rainier (Default)
I've finally gotten around to updating my crochet projects page, and uploading a few photos of some of the more recently completed projects.

Wow. Counting the lap-sized throws and the baby blankets, as soon as I finish the edging on the one I'm currently working on... I've made fifteen afghans.

*boggles*

Of course, I have enough yarn for goodness knows how many more in my storage tubs just waiting for my time and my Q-hook...

I spent some time tidying up the front and back container gardens today. Put in some pansies in the front, and an ivy geranium with blossoms the color of a really good merlot or cabernet. Geraniums seem to really like our front walkway; this one's the fifth one I've put there now, and they're all thriving. The succulents are doing great, and the irises seem to be doing OK. The marigolds never recovered from the leaf miner bastard bugs, so I pulled them out of there. They looked depressing. The tomato plant I had out front got overheated a few days and just didn't recover, but I count that experiment as a success. I might want to get another one of those half-grown plants again rather than the little seedlings I tried on the back patio... as soon as I eradicate the whiteflies on the back patio. Little bastards.

Yes, the back garden is still plagued by whiteflies. I need to pay more attention to that... if I were keeping a more regular eye on it, they might not be getting the upper hand. The antibacterial soap spray and the spray water bottle seem to actually work, but I have to do them on a regular schedule and I haven't been. Work craziness...

The basil and oregano are getting kind of spindley, but the mint is doing OK and some of the pepper plants are doing better than others. The tomato plants really need more level moderation of watering than I've been able to provide, but two of them are hanging in there. The chives that I had thought were dead may be making a comeback, and the lemongrass is doing great. The biggest problem other than the insect infestation seems to be construction dust from the building going in diagonally across the street from us; I'm going to be very glad when that settles down.

On Saturday Roommate and I made various excursions to thread and yarn shops in the area.
- Elegance Designer Yarns in Pasadena - website
- Skein in Pasadena
- Michaels in Pasadena
- Quilt 'n' Things in Montrose
- Needle in a Haystack in Montrose
- The Patchwork Penguin in Tujunga
- Michaels in Burbank

None of them are quite like The Needlecraft Cottage down in San Diego, nor are they quite like Sheep Street Fibers (website) in Morgantown, Indiana. Hey, that reminds me... next time I'm in Indianapolis I want to poke my nose into the Massachusetts Avenue Knit Shop.

And then there's always the catalogs, which seem to arrive just when willpower to resist their siren song is waning... Patternworks and and Lion Brand Yarns and Keepsake Needlearts can be rather addictive.

Ahhhh, projects.
naturedance: my foot, in my boot, on Mount Rainier (Default)
I got a bit of inspiration last Tuesday, and asked Roommate to celebrate autumn with me...

Harvest Moon Soup

Sizzled in the bottom of a Really Big Soup Pot:
chopped leek
garlic
dash of olive oil

Then added:
small bit of water
onion flakes
chopped carrots

The moon was rising yellow in the dark clear sky over the mountains east of us as we were chopping.

Steamed in the microwave in a covered casserole after being lopped in half and cleaned of seeds:
one harlequin winter squash

Dumped into the Really Big Soup Pot after the onion flakes looked happily hydrated:
tomato puree
water
handfuls of baby orange lentils
big dash of paprika
dash of coarse ground black pepper
dash of dried basil
dash of celery flakes
tiny dash of savory
tiny dash of thyme
two bay leaves
chicken bullion to taste

While the pot was working its way to a good boil, I scooped the cooked squash out of its skin and popped it into the blender with a bit of water to puree. Then I added that to the pot and let it simmer for a bit.

Sliced into rectangles and cubes and presented in a really big bowl:
potato-rosemary bread
sun-dried tomato bread
another random herby bread that had looked good when I'd stopped at Berolina's on the way home

The thick, hearty soup didn't look like it had quite as many colors as I'd wanted, so I added frozen vegetables (mostly corn and peas), and brought that back to a quick boil only briefly so the peas didn't lose their bright color.

We served it in our huge soup bowls using the bread cubes for garnish and dunking, with Martinelli's apple-cranberry in sparkling wine glasses. By the time we sat down to eat the moon was shiny and bright, and clouds were moving in, looking beautiful and mysterious. It was a marvelous cozy evening at home, and around midnight I wrote...

Autumn sweeps in
a silent wind high above
dancing past the clouded moon.


Here's to autumn!
naturedance: my foot, in my boot, on Mount Rainier (together with earth usgs)
[livejournal.com profile] sclerotic_rings linked to Astrobiology's article about the asteroid Toutatis, which will pass within four Earth-to-Moon distances of Earth on Wednesday. Cool stuff if you've got a telescope or set of binoculars handy.

And the harvest moon is tonight. Last night I caught a moonbeam shining into our living room. The moon was just beautiful. I should find my binoculars before dusk tonight.

Folks over in the [livejournal.com profile] geology community are talking about recent and ongoing earthquakes up at Mount St. Helens. They've linked to a Yahoo! News article with some pretty pictures, and the USGS Earthquake Hazards site has a special bulletin about recent activity, and the USGS Volcano Hazards site is also full of interesting stuff.

On the political front, [livejournal.com profile] yesthattom excerpts from The Unfeeling President, an article by E.L. Doctorow.

And now, some tea, because I'm having trouble getting vertical this morning. It's been steeping while I've been catching up on my LJ reading. MMmmm, Fiji, from Infusions of Tea, with orange honey from Bill's Bees. Mmmmmmmmm...

Last night I read the first section of a book of Robert Frost's poetry my Mom gave me. A few of the poems in A Boy's Will (published in 1913) really resonate with me. I think I'll be posting some of them here. I woke up this morning with fragments of John Greenleaf Whittier's In School-Days running through my mind, too.
naturedance: my foot, in my boot, on Mount Rainier (path less traveled)
I'd picked Dad up from the airport on that Saturday, and he took Janis and I to brunch at the Market City Caffe which is walking distance from our place, which had a live string quartet serenading. Turns out they do that every Sunday, and we're going to have to do that more often!

Monday morning we packed the car, left Burbank around 10am and headed north, taking the 5 to the 99 to the 198. We stopped for Subway lunch and last-minute camping gear in Visalia, and when I tried to start the car outside of the Big 5, there was a loud BANG and a puff of smoke drifted out from under the hood of the car. Turns out that the battery caps had blown off and the battery was dead, dead, dead, but AAA has a battery replacement service running in Visalia which had us up and running again in less than 40 minutes. Yay for AAA, a cell phone with a good battery, and a Visa card!

We'd seen dust devils in the farmland plains along the 99, and the rolling hillside country along the 198 is just beautiful. I need to look up the history of Lemon Cove, because those little towns along there look really interesting. I want to know their stories, and the story of the little brick Edison Power building we passed. There was a bed and breakfast along there, too.

We entered Sequoia National Park by way of the Ash Mountain entrance on the 198, and stopped at the Foothills Visitor Center. Dad was still kind of deciding whether he was going to start his hike at Mineral King or at Lodgepole, but we'd be camping at Lodgepole and he needed to pick up his hiking permit from the ranger station there, so after spending some money for some lovely goodies at the visitor center (I need to write about the goodies separately... books and music and a membership in the Sequoia Natural History Association), we drove on along the beautiful winding mountain road to Lodgepole.

Sequoia and Kings Canyon Interactive Map

We checked in and got our introduction to bear-boxing all food and anything with a scent from the rangers, and then set up our tents in a lovely little campsite and heated up canned stew for dinner. Nothing beats hot stew for watching the sun set and the stars come out between mountain trees, especially accompanied by hot spiced cider. Rather than fussing with any of my camp stoves, we brought some of those canned heat things which worked like a charm. Until I have time to properly service my camp stoves and test them, I'm going to use the canned heat thingies for overnight carcamping trips.

I love my tent, by the way. Dad and I bought it a few years back after our trip to Rainbow Basin in the spring of 2000. We'd used my old tent that Dad had gotten for me used, and frankly, it had seen better days. I'd used it through college and it was getting tired. It flapped horribly in the wind, and it smelled funny. On our way back into LA from Rainbow Basin we stopped at REI and bought my new tent.

It's by Mountain Hardware, and the model is called something like "room with a view" -- it supposedly sleeps three rather friendly people in mummy-style sleeping bags, and it has a skylight. The skylight is screen in the tent, and clear plastic in the rainfly, so you can see the moon and the stars and the trees above you even after you've tucked yourself in at night. And there are plenty of little pockets for stashing your glasses where you can reach them. Even better than that, though, is how easy it is to set up, and how little noise it makes in the wind.

It's wonderful to fall asleep to the sound of light wind through trees and the rush of a mountain stream nearby, with starlight twinkling at you.

(With that image in mind, I think I'm going to sleep now. I'll type more later.)
naturedance: my foot, in my boot, on Mount Rainier (skyward)
I find myself wanting to record this somewhere where I and others can see it. I'm not really sure why. *shrug*

How I spent my summer )

And suddenly it's September 5th.

I need to eat right and take my vitamins and otherwise prepare for the sinus infection which I know will slam into me soon. It happens every time the students come back from everywhere on the planet and bring back new bugs to campus... I get a sinus infection. Doesn't matter if everyone else has a stomach bug, bronchitis, or whatever; for me, whatever the bugs are, I get a sinus infection. I've learned to mitigate the effects over the years. I've written down what works and what doesn't, and I need to take my own advice... I did know what I was talking about when I wrote it down! And I hate being sick, because it means I don't get to do things. Being sick is unplanned downtime, and it sucks. Exhausting myself or overexerting myself sometimes results in unplanned downtime, too, and that sucks... when I remember to schedule some downtime for myself, I'm a much happier camper. I go out of balance, like anyone does, and have to re-center myself occasionally, but it sneaks up on me unawares sometimes and that's annoying. I'm getting better about it, but I think it's an ongoing process.

Sometimes I feel like an axle, or a linchpin, or a nucleus. I have all these things spinning around me in irregular and sometimes amazing orbits, and as long as I can keep my own gyroscope balanced, as long as I can keep my own forces evening each other out, all of those things zooming around me can keep doing all their amazing things. In some ways, I go out of balance without all those orbits going on around me. But if I falter, if the center doesn't hold, all sorts of hell break loose all at once. And because I expect myself to be so capable, able to keep so many juggling balls in the air at once, when things go wrong, it's a whole lot of things that go wrong, and it feels like even more because of my own expectations.

It's funny. People at work probably only see me as a perfectionistic hermit sometimes. I don't show them even half of the orbits going on around me, and I don't want to share any more than that. My home life and my work life need to be separated in some ways for me to be me. A lot of my co-workers and former co-workers seem to have an extensive social life with people they know from work, and I used to participate in that somewhat. I'd like to a little bit now, but I can't seem to find a balance point; I topple into that social scene completely, or topple out of it completely. Still other co-workers don't socialize together outside of work, and I think that choice also colors how they are seen in the professional setting. I'm going to have to think about that some more over the coming months, I suspect.

I've been doing more writing lately. Trips do that to me, and nature-related ones especially. I've been less decisive than usual about sharing my personal writings online, and I think I'm finally just going to post things and have done with it. If you think my poetry sucks, just skim right by it, OK?

But first, I must foray out to the Montrose Farmers Market. Mmmm.
naturedance: my foot, in my boot, on Mount Rainier (path less traveled)
I really intended to be updating the left sidebar of shakal.org more frequently to recommend and/or review music, books, movies or whatever has captured my attention. That hasn't worked out... partially because making the little images to go with the reviews takes time at my home computer. I've decided to change that sidebar tonight, and to use LJ's memories function and posting utility so I can blather more frequently about what I'm watching, reading, listening to...

Since it's easy to make LJ entries from anywhere, I'll be combining my good things efforts in this journal with the recommendations sidebar on the website from now on.

I went back through my posts in this journal to the very beginning, in October 2002 (I do have a fireplace now, by the way, although it's gas logs rather than for wood!), and memoried the posts having to do with recommended books, music, places, poetry, restaurants, and videos.

And I just have to mention another good thing... AAA membership is a real godsend. I know how to fix most minor problems with my wonderful car, but being able to un-strand one's self with two simple plastic cards (AAA and Visa) and a (cell)phone call when one's car battery has gone kaBOOM in a parking lot in the middle of an utterly unfamiliar town is just wonderful. No stress, no hassle, and I was back on the road in forty minutes.
naturedance: my foot, in my boot, on Mount Rainier (Default)
Work was a bit crazy this week, especially Tuesday and Wednesday, because our lead sysadmin/developer is on vacation. It was (so far) better than this time last year, but Tuesday was really disheartening and my pessimism reared up. Last year was so, so bad. This year (so far) has just been busy. It takes me and one of the other sysadmins an hour or two to figure out things that the vacationing sysadmin could probably do in fifteen minutes, you know? But at least we're figuring things out. And the documentation is better now than it has been in the past. I've been working late to keep up with my own tasks, but I've stayed mostly on top of them. Just means I'm tired, and real life stuff has had to be put on hold because I'm at work, or too exhausted when I get home. I suppose if I were a different person I'd just let the work stuff slide...

That reminds me, I need to doublecheck that all of the documentation for what I do at work is up to date before I take some long weekends over the next few months.

Last weekend I put in a container garden on our balcony. I already had flowers and succulents on our front walk, and I cleaned them up and weeded them and topped off the pots with good potting soil. The marigolds look nice, a good counterpoint to the older Martha Washington and the other geraniums.

The balcony garden has cilantro, chives, lemon grass, spearmint, basil, oregano, something like nine or ten different kinds of peppers, and four pots of tomatoes. I cheated a bit and bought one big plant with green tomatoes already half-ripe.

Starting so late in the season seems strange, but the plants seem to be doing OK. The big plant was looking unhappy on Thursday evening, so I moved it to the front walk temporarily so it could get more sun. I think the east-facing balcony will get enough sun during normal days, but most days this week were overcast in the mornings, so they didn't get enough light. I think it's happier now. If the days are clearer, I'll move it back to the balcony.

Mom and Dad sent me an article link a bit ago... Dietary Supplements Relieve Migraines. Because some of my headaches are "simply" allergy and/or sinus headaches, and some are allergy-or-sinus-triggered migraines, I'm still figuring out what helps best. Natural foods, enough exercise, enough rest and not too much stress seems to be the best prescription for everything...

Roommate and I enjoyed the first harvest from our balcony garden last night at dinner... fresh chives and spearmint garnish for our onion/mushroom/beef broth soup. Quite tasty!

Hmmm... what else is going on? Lots, of course.. oh, Wil's new book Just A Geek is out!! :-) Yay!

Also, I spotted this on my friendslist thanks to [livejournal.com profile] sigje: her friend [livejournal.com profile] adaintum is doing the San Francisco Avon Walk For Breast Cancer. Even if you can't donate right now, you can leave an encouraging comment for her here.
naturedance: my foot, in my boot, on Mount Rainier (bright dreams nasa)
Lots of errand-running and tidying and more settling-in at the apartment to do, but... ahhhhhhhh...

I'm still annoyed somewhat with my allergies, but other than really dry eyes, and a headache first thing when I wake up until I've been vertical for a bit, the Claritin has them under control. And I'm not uncontrollably drowsy now. Yay.

The mollies had another little batch of baby fish, but two of them didn't make it. Cripes. I cleaned the tank's glass and filter and they all look much happier. I need to do a full water change real soon now, and start marking them on the calendar so I can remember to do them regularly since the move craziness is settling.

Reminder to self about work: the last oddments of the two user access charts, for groups and for shells, must be done ASAP. I came close, but didn't quite finish them last week. And then I need to finish the mindterm docs, rather than having them abysmally half-done.

I keep telling myself that I'm making headway, but it's easy to forget progress when items drop off a lengthy to-do list -- out of sight, out of mind.

Oh, while I'm thinking about it... congratulations to the Cassini-Huygens team! This is just so darned awesome... http://saturn.jpl.nasa.gov/

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