Friday, August 29, 2008

Why?

Someone asked me last night why I just write about what I do, instead of why I do it. So here goes. I didn't start a blog so I could preach, just so I could talk about the things that I enjoy, but I do talk about my garden quite a bit, so it's probably worth explaining the goals I have for my garden and why I have them.

I have always loved gardening, when I was a little girl I spent every weekend with my grandmother and we would always work in her yard. When I got to college, I realized that was something I wanted to continue, so I focused on the available botany courses. It was a small school, so my degree is in Biology. My Master's is in Environmental Science because it was convenient to the research I wanted to do, which was also plant-related. Basically I like knowing what stuff is and what it is related to, I wish taxonomy wasn't going out of style because I love being able to look at an article that talks about Bearberry as a good drought-tolerant plant and know that they mean Arctostaphylos uva-ursi. But that is not where the jobs are. I have been working in a soils lab for the last two years, and today I have an interview in a different soils lab to see if it would be a better place for me to be. Who knew? I want to get back to plants eventually, but this is just a job. That's why I have a garden.

I also have a garden so I can do something about the problems I see in the world. Not on a huge dramatic scale, but on a scale where I feel like I am making a little bit of a difference, in my own small way. I am trying to bring bees and wildlife to my backyard. I am even starting to contemplate talking to my neighbors about the chemicals they use on their lawns (lots of them have kids, or pets) because I would like to have less chemicals in the environment where I am spending more and more time. A big part of this is because of the bees. Bee populations worldwide are dropping rapidly, and we have no clue how dependent we are on them as pollinators. My bees are not agressive, I leave them alone and they leave me alone, but SO many plant species are dependent on them for reproduction. Basically, without pollination, there would be no plants, which means no animal life ON EARTH. And bees are a huge part of that. Non-native honeybees (a good invader) are suffering from a decline known as Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD):

"In the winter of 2006-2007, beekeepers began reporting losses of 30-90% of their hives, with similar declines evident in feral populations. Among the factors known to be involved are competition from aggressive Africanized bees (the so-called "killer bees"), parasitic varroa and traccheal mites, Israeli acute paralysis virus (IAPV), widespread insecticide use, and habitat destruction. Honeybees pollinate more than 130 crop plants alone in the United States, and are credited with adding more than $15 billion annually to crop values, so their sudden and dramatic decline is a very serious issue likely to cause serious repercussions in crop values and the price of food around the world." From here.


So I am trying to bring bees back to my garden. I love my garden, and so far, so do the bees. I have lavender, catmint, salvia, common, purple and Mexican sage, penstemon, coreopsis, centranthus and rosemary, (among others), all of which are supposed to be attractive to bees. And so far they are. But I want MORE. So after I get back from my trip out of town this weekend, I have a shopping list for shrubs to go with the new batch of bee-friendly perennials I just ordered (hence the pictures). I have been ripping out a big patch of ivy along the path in the backyard, and the pictures you see here are of what is going to be going in where the ivy was.The big shrubs will be more smoke bush and viburnum (berries to attract birds) as well as a couple of big Russian sages (also for the bees). I'm starting to get to the part of the yard I can see from my kitchen window so I am excited about having it not be a pile of leaves and ivy any more. I can't wait to get back from my trip (and I haven't even left yet)! So I will stop for now so I can go pack and get ready for my interview. But I really just want to be in my garden!

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Too cool! English accents around the world.



The Texas one makes me think of Jodie Foster. The California/Seattle ones make me think of me. I want to know what she really sounds like, since I don't think that Hepburn at the end is it.

from here.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Belated Weekend Update (but with pictures!)

What a busy last few days!

Thursday night was the Beck show, the opener was a guy called Devendra Barnhardt (sp?) so I wandered around outside and talked to people, and Beck put on a good show. Unfortunately, it was at a casino, so it ended early (all casino shows end early so you can go gamble more). It was fun, but I think seeing him once was enough. He did quite a bit of stuff off of his new album, and I really liked it, but he only did one song from my favorite album :(

Friday my parents came to town and we had a graduation party for me! It was awesome, so fun and not super crazy but I got to talk to everybody and most of my committee came and one of my coworkers brought a bottle of her own wine and it was the best wine I have had in a long time! I got given a potted plant, AND a gift card to the nice nursery to spend on more plants, AND my main advisor gave me a gift card for my favorite bookstore! It's perfect, because my future plans mainly include spending time reading, and working in the garden. Also, "helpful brother-in-law", whom you may remember from past posts, has an even more helpful brother, who was not able to make it to the party. He 's the one who helped cart all the gravel in my backyard to make the patio... anyways, he sent along a congrats-type card with an IOU for four hours of yard work. That is HUGE! That covers a lot of digging that I was not looking forward to doing...

Saturday I took my parents to the car museum (surprisingly cool!) and then we went to my nephew's birthday party at the park. And that was plenty.

Sunday I had a church gig with my quintet and my parents came and sat at the back and listened, and then we met my sister and Matt and helpful b-i-l at the hotel my parents were staying at for a super nice lunch. They had to hit the road after that but it was nice to hang out (and lunch was spectacular)!

And... another project is almost done! My laundry room is painted, and the shelf is hung. It's a bit high, but we're tall so the future owners can deal with it. Here's the shelf with a weird washed-out shot of the paint color. I have a poster for that left-hand wall waiting for a frame.Here's a better shot of the opposite wall, with my pretty fruit label and useful drying rack, and the leaves for the dining room table, which need a better home now that my laundry room is all purty.
And here's the final project: a new coat of paint, and new handles and hinges for this big, dumb, ugly cabinet. It is too useful, so it would be a bit unreasonable to rip it out just for being ugly. So clean white paint and nice shiny modern hardware is the last step. And a better spot for the vacuum, too.
Meanwhile, the backyard is going gangbusters! My beans could have used taller teepees, they are falling off, but they are starting to bloom so I am excited! Not that I know what they are, they were from helpful b-i-l again, so he might have to ID them if I ever get some bean pods. Or I will just be eating some interesting chili soon. On the bottom left there is barely visible the bed of rocks that I am very much looking forward to having help digging from helpful b-i-l's giant burly brother. Here you can see where I have been working on the bed. I ripped out about half of the ivy so far, and most of the rose bush. There are still some roots to get, and the rest of the ivy, but it is good dirt and not too rocky so I will be able to get some more shrubbery in there when it cools off a bit more. And farther out past the rest of the ivy, you can see the other half of my backyard - the neglected empty desert, with a bit of flagstone, and some more digging to be done... I want to plant some lower-water stuff out here so I don't have to keep running hoses all over, and hopefully some stuff that will attract more birds. It's a work in progress.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Palate Cleanser

There is only so long I could stare at that ABBA picture at the top of my page. Thus: Talking Heads/David Byrne with the Tosca Strings. Not a guilty pleasure, this one. No guilt whatsoever. Everyone should go see this guy if he's in your town. One of the best live shows I've seen, and that was before I knew much Talking Heads, he just puts on that good of a show. As in, possibly up there with David Bowie and Paul Simon.



Is that a better meme? Best live performance you've ever seen? I guess I skew towards older pop musicians when it comes to what I will fork over the cash for. Although, tomorrow night is the Beck show, that should be interesting, it will be the only concert I've been to all summer, and we'll see how my favorite little Scientologist stacks up...



Number one in Syria!

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Who Do You Love? The Guilty Pleasures Meme:

Music: apparently McCain and I are alone on this one - ABBA. Does EVERYBODY else have negative associations for them (a la Neil Diamond, apparently)? Not me, I love love love 'em.Food: well, I guess you could call it food... Cheetos. I know, I am all rah-rah Farmer's Market and local food, making my own bread and all sorts of stuff, but Cheetos are my chemical dependency of choice.

Movies: Love Actually (or Bridget Jones, pretty much any drivel with Hugh Grant or Colin Firth. It's the uber-rom-com genre specifically, I guess, because I don't feel guilty over anything Jane Austen).TV: Ugly Betty. I have no shame over Dr. Who and Torchwood, but any show with Posh as a guest star has got to be slightly embarrassing.Books: cheesy sci-fi and fantasy. I'm getting better, I don't buy these any more, I wait until the library gets them - Terry Pratchett and Mercedes Lackey are a couple of good examples of the stuff I don't want to get caught reading in public (I call them bathtub books, because I can read a whole one in a single good bubble bath session).

I'm going to tag Wende, Lorijo, and Mella on this one (and Zack and Cheryl, if you're around). I figure the Canadians are just too good for this - I assume they have no guilty pleasures ;)

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Full of win

It's a project day! Matt is gone for the day so I have a. a batch of tomatoes drying in the oven, b. two coats of paint on the laundry room (pleasant medium greeny-brown, drying a little dark but looking nice), and c. strange jazz on the stereo.

Then I suddenly realize, Matt is gone, and I am the only one home.

So now I'm blasting ABBA.

Like I said, full of win. Maybe it's that little bit of Swedish heritage, when I was a kid I loved Ace of Base, and now I have grown up a bit I have found the real deal. I am a total music snob about so many genres, but there is a big blind spot right deep in my soul, and it is shaped like ABBA.



Friday, August 15, 2008

Question time

Question 1 - I need some fluff to read. Not too fluffy, but fiction, and fun. I just read all of the Thursday Next novels and enjoyed them. I'm reading Barbara Kingsolver's Animal, Vegetable, Miracle again right now and still debating the merits of attempting to make my own cheese. I need to read less practical stuff for a while. Suggestions?

Question 2 - Matt is gone this weekend and I am about to go all Martha on my laundry room's ass. So should I a. use up the spare can of baby blue paint and make it all crisp and clean and blue (the trim is already white) and ignore the brown and green tones in the rug, or b. suck it up and go buy a can of cream/light brown and make it nice and warm to go with the tones in the rug. It's basically free vs. matching. And I worry that using the blue will just make me want to replace the rug (which is more expensive than buying just a can of paint). Either way it will be nicer than it is now, and not take very long (it's a tiny room), but still, I can't decide! Help!

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Frustration (I feel old)

Confession: I am a sucker for Project Runway.

However, what is bothering me now should be pretty minor. One of the "kid" contestants (therefore, about 3 years younger than me), claimed that he had no idea what Tim was talking about when Tim was explaining that his outfit looked too Sergeant Pepper. And people are saying this is no big deal, he's young and the Beatles are all dead or irrelevant in our modern age.
Seriously? John Lennon died before I was born and I still know what kind of effect he and the others had on modern music. SO much of modern music would not even exist without the Beatles and George Martin. Sgt. Pepper has been named the greatest album of all time (on some lists, not all, but still my point stands) and the Beatles have sold more albums in the USA than any other artist. Who is letting these kids grow up with no knowledge of what came before them? Do they think that Da Vinci was the guy from that crappy Tom Hanks movie? I feel old.

From Wikipedia:

The Beatles' constant demands to create new sounds on every new recording, combined with George Martin's arranging abilities and the studio expertise of EMI staff engineers such as Norman Smith, Ken Townsend and Geoff Emerick, all played significant parts in the innovative sounds of the albums Rubber Soul (1965), Revolver (1966) and Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band (1967).

The Beatles continued to absorb influences long after their initial success, often finding new musical and lyrical avenues by listening to their contemporaries. Other contemporary influences included the Byrds and the Beach Boys, whose album Pet Sounds was a favourite of McCartney's.[106] Beatles producer George Martin stated that "Without Pet Sounds, Sgt. Pepper wouldn't have happened... Pepper was an attempt to equal Pet Sounds."[107] After Sgt. Pepper was released, Beach Boys' leader Brian Wilson was so despondent that he went to bed for months.[108] Lennon also named Elvis Presley as a spark that interested himself in music:

It was Elvis who really got me buying records. I thought that early stuff of his was great. The Bill Haley era passed me by, in a way. When his records came on the wireless, my mother used to hear them, but they didn’t do anything for me. It was Elvis who got me hooked on beat music. When I heard 'Heartbreak Hotel', I thought ‘this is it’ and I started to grow sideboards and all that gear...."[109]

Along with studio tricks such as sound effects, unconventional microphone placements, tape loops, double tracking and vari-speed recording, The Beatles began to augment their recordings with instruments that were unconventional for rock music at the time. These included string and brass ensembles as well as Indian instruments such as the sitar in "Norwegian Wood (This Bird Has Flown)" and the swarmandel in "Strawberry Fields Forever".[110] They also used early electronic instruments such as the Mellotron, with which McCartney supplied the flute voices on the intro to "Strawberry Fields Forever",[111] and the clavioline, an electronic keyboard that created the unusual oboe-like sound on "Baby You're a Rich Man".[112]

Beginning with the use of a string quartet (arranged by George Martin with input from McCartney) on "Yesterday" in 1965, The Beatles pioneered a modern form of art song, exemplified by the double-quartet string arrangement on "Eleanor Rigby" (1966), "Here, There and Everywhere" (1966) and "She's Leaving Home" (1967). A televised performance of Bach's Brandenburg Concerto No. 2 directly inspired McCartney's use of a piccolo trumpet on the arrangement of "Penny Lane".[113] The Beatles moved towards psychedelia with "Rain" and "Tomorrow Never Knows" from 1966, and "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds", "Strawberry Fields Forever" and "I Am the Walrus" from 1967.

Me again - if you have never listened to Past Masters: Volume 2, I highly recommend you go check out "Rain", it is an amazing track. Pardon me, I need to go crank some "Abbey Road" now.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

What a great article

http://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyle/2008/aug/12/women.nicolecooke

This is such a refreshing read - women in the media are so often objectified or merely ignored, that the Olympic coverage is a pleasure to view. Nobody is asking what they're wearing, what matters is their achievements and hard work. Awesome.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

more celebrating, in a small way

I rode to the Farmer's Market this morning on Matt's bike (helpful brother-in-law still has mine). They were having a sale on crookneck squash, $5 for all you can fit in a bag. So I rode home somewhat lopsidedly. And made zucchini bread and zucchini fritters, but all with yellow squash. Then I weighed what I have left - I've still got 6.6 lbs. of squash. Silly me. But what a deal! My sister may get some zucchini bread this afternoon. And some squash. I love cooking. Especially when I am not doing it while putting off my thesis!

Last night we did a little more mild celebrating (a friend was having an ugly tie party). And my tie was the ugliest there (Matt wouldn't wear it). Very festive, it was covered in a holly and berries pattern and went horribly with my otherwise cute outfit. It was a blast. Most of the girls didn't wear ties so the host had to go find ties for them. But not me ;)

Anyone got more good zucchini/squash recipes?

And this p.m. a friend is coming by to look at our broken and also insanely installed A/C unit. Hopefully he can give us some useful advice, although it seems like the heat has kind of broken for a while. Low 90's I can deal with. But when the CA fires were really bad we were getting a lot of smoke and the news kept telling people to stay indoors with the windows closed and the A/C on, and we couldn't. And it sucked. So hopefully he can help us out, or at least tell us who to call. Just in case.

Then we are going to a second-run showing of Kung Fu Panda. Yes, yes we are.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

All sorts of stuff: I'm done, and on a spree.

So I did it. I turned it in. All of it. That means it's over. While I listen to Matt in the other room practicing guitar and the news telling him about all the programs getting cut at UNR since there is no budget and the new Dean is all sorts of charming expletives, all I can say is

"glad I'm outta there"

and all he can say is

"Hell yes"

I did my research at an affiliated but much superior institution, and UNR facilitated that, but I am so glad I don't have to go back there. It's getting bigger and more useless and non-functional by the minute. But that doesn't matter to me anymore. I even took back my overdue library books (ooo, I really wanted to keep Grassland Dynamics) and paid my fines so my record should be nice and clean. I have to call back next week and make sure everything went through, otherwise I am officially gradjamated as of next Friday. Ta Dah!

So maybe I went on a little bender. I am having issues with the boringness of my wardrobe. And I am realizing that I now have time to read for pleasure again. So it started with this.I have been coveting this on the website for weeks. The neckline detail is tiny studs. Not bad for Banana Republic, I say. I just came back from a week away realizing I wore basically the same thing every day, and while there is something to be said for consistency, I bored myself. Sometimes interesting accessories just aren't enough. This looks much more interesting in person, I promise.
This I just liked. I just have no idea how to add interest to my wardrobe. I am stocked with basics in nice colors and neutrals, and they are boring. I am big and broad-shouldered so I shy away from ruffles and prints and, I am now realizing, basically any visual interest at all. That's why I have been going for bigger jewelry. The other day I was thinking, hmm, this outfit needs a big chunky belt. That thought has never crossed my mind in my life. I hate belts. They are uncomfortable and if my pants fall off without them then I need different pants. But this was a capital-b Boring outfit and a belt would have added some visual interest. Maybe I just need to cut back on reading fashion blogs for a while.Not to be read after dark with my overactive imagination. A classic of the genre, which is apparently horror, and not sci-fi as I originally thought. It also includes a bunch of other short stories besides the one they made the movies out of. It may or may not be a keeper, I usually like lighter stuff but this just sounded compelling for some reason.And this was on the used shelf for six bucks. How could I say no? Although I guess there's about three more so I need to get organized and hit the library for those, I'm almost done with this one.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

I made it!

Driving for 7 hours alone is never fun. Maybe for 2 hours it is relaxing alone time or something when one can sing at the top of one's lungs to Van Halen or the Ditty Bops (depending on one's mood). But after about 4 it is misery, even going through Lassen National Park. The reprieve comes around hour 6, when the end is in sight. I may or may not post a full update about my week later, it won't really make sense to anyone but Cheryl. Instead, this is for lsaspacey -