Posts By: Lizzy

May 11

The Fates Were On My Side (i.e., Climbing Dragon’s Tooth)

Life 1

I’ve been hearing about this trail and place called Dragon’s Tooth for months. As soon as we moved here and people even thought they heard I liked the outdoors, they would tell me that I had to hike Dragon’s Tooth. Everyone – from elderly people to college students. So I looked it up, it looked awesome, a little more difficult than anything I had hiked before (growing up in a very flat part of Ohio and with parents who weren’t so much into the outdoorsy stuff).

I’d been waiting for months for the weather and my days off to cooperate. Today I was on call, but I just had a good feeling so I bounced into the library at 8 something this morning and asked my husband if he wanted to go hiking. “Er…well, sure.” So I packed, waited the appropriate length of time to see if I would have to go to work…and then off we went.

Let me just say, no one specifically mentioned the fact that there’s a .6 mile rock scramble for the last part of the trail. Or that much of the trail is at something like a 30-40 degree angle. Errrr. But, we made it!It felt so good to actually get out and go somewhere, do something. The trees and rocks were beautiful, as was the view at the top. I need to do this more often. A lot more often. Often enough I won’t be stiff as a board afterwards. 😛

 

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May 08

Catching Up

Life 3

Uh, yeah. Not going so well, thanks to a two week stretch of work. However, Thursday is my light at the end of the tunnel when I will hopefully get caught up on a lot of things, some of which should have been done weeks ago.

Not the least of which is my horrifyingly overgrown garden. Sigh.

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Apr 01

Unexpected Arrival

Life, Musings 1

Spring is here. It’s nearly a month early, according to long time residents, but it’s very definitely here. The crocuses and daffodils are all long gone, and the tulips are either at their peak or on their way out, depending on where exactly in town they’re blooming. Spring is and always has been MY season. While I enjoy all the seasons, and especially feeling them change, spring just embodies my outlook on life – ever the eternal optimist. After all, how is Spring supposed to know that Winter won’t decide to return for a final, killing frost that will wipe out all her lovely leaves and flowers? She really doesn’t. So she gambles, and hopes, and tries, and even if Winter does return…she tries again. And she always succeeds – in some measure, if not the way she originally intended.

I am concerned about the early spring and the long-term effects, but right now I’m choosing to enjoy it rather than worry over it. This isn’t the first year it’s happened – the USDA has even released a new map of hardiness zones, with all of the zones moved northward and a couple new ones added in the south. Such a change is a bit frightening…but I’m trying not to overthink it. Mother Nature has survived for thousands of years (not going to think about all the extinct animals and plants right at this moment), hopefully some climate change won’t permanently cripple her.

This is a very bad picture of the lovely tulip bed at the entrance to our apartment complex. I didn’t realize at the time that I really should have walked a lot closer.

The view from up the hill there is also quite lovely. I wish I had more pictures of some of the bulb gardens scattered around Roanoke, but alas – I was usually just driving by when I saw them. One day I’ll have my own huge, sprawling flower beds filled with masses of riotously colored tulips and hyacinths – something that can express without words the glee and joy that fill my entire being at this time of year.

American Eastern Redbud Tree (Cercis canadensis)

American Eastern Redbud Tree (Cercis canadensis) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The redbuds along the highway (and a few in town) are out. They’re especially lighting up the Route 81 between Roanoke and Christiansburg right now. The hills themselves are just now turning a sweet spring green. Last week they were just ever-so-slightly showing green through the winter brown. It’s amazing how fast they’ve changed. Green is everywhere. Green, green, green. There’s a reason it’s my favorite color.

There are oodles and oodles of these thorny bushes all around the edges of the apartment complex, in the areas that don’t get mowed. I’m hoping they’re raspberries or blackberries, and that they don’t spray them.

The air has that lovely over-winter quality to it now too. Even when it’s raining, which it has been, a lot. Oh, I finally bought an umbrella, much to my husband’s chagrin. It has polka dots. I’ve been able to enjoy standing outside without getting my face wet, breathing in the damp earthy smell that is a spring rain. It’s so very, very different from the bone-chilling rains of early winter. It’s a promise of growth, of new starts, of washing all the old away and welcoming in the new.

Book update for this past week:

21.  Shades of Milk and Honey, by Mary Robinette Kowal (the lady who initiated the February Month of Mail Challenge).

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Mar 25

Reading Update

Books/Writing 1

Just a quick update on the books I’ve finished – I have about 6 started at the moment!

19.  Composting Inside and Out, by Stephanie Davies.

20.  The Heirloom Life Gardener, by Jere and Emilee Gettle.

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Mar 20

Garden Design

Life, Musings 0

I had been giving my garden a lot of thought in the past couple of weeks, despite not being able to visit it again (!). When I did finally manage to stop by on Sunday after work, in the rain, I discovered another community garden member had made good on his offer to till my little plot for me. After my own attempts to turn one half of it, I nearly cried with happiness that I wouldn’t have to subject my sadly atrophied muscles to such treatment again. Now I’ve been pondering how best to lay out the plants, some of which should go in as soon as possible like the lettuce, broccoli, peas, and spinach.

(Image from here…and I find it interesting that the poster was making the same point I am, essentially.)

This is the typical and traditional way to lay out a garden. Personally, I find looking at rows a bit boring and occasionally discouraging. Maybe I’m still having flashbacks to Mom’s looooooong garden rows and standing at one end of the bean row bemoaning how long it would take me to pick down to the other end and then back up the other side. At any rate, I was considering alternatives. Small square patches, like a checkerboard? Diagonal rows? Flowerbed style? Then while searching for solstice celebration ideas, I found an article on making an elemental garden. While the purpose of my garden is food and beauty in that order, the circle design just resonated with me – one of those “Aha! That’s it!” moments we all get now and then.

(image from here)

Now my garden isn’t nearly as big as that one (or the diagram below), so I think I will just make it a circle, divide it into quadrants, and call it good. Not sure yet if I will still have “rows” coming from the center of the circle out or if I’ll plant each quadrant in more of a flowerbed style. I think I’ll put a birdbath in the center, since while birds can sometimes be pests I know I’ll want them for the bug-picking abilities later in the spring and summer. The triangles left in the corners of the garden bed will be for extra flowers or herbs. No garden of mine would be complete without at least one specimen of my favorite summer flower – sunflowers. There is something just so very special about sunflowers to me. They’re always so happy, they make me smile, they’re homely yet beautiful, and provide so much to nature. I don’t think I’ll be planting the 12-foot giants Mom sent me seed for, since they would shade the whole garden, but I have a few other kinds that will definitely go in somewhere.

I’m so excited about this. Beyond excited. When I hit on the idea I was literally jumping up and down. Who would have thought gardening would be so exciting?

(image from here)

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Mar 05

End of the Month of Mail!

Life, Random 1

Here are the last few days of mail I sent for the Month of Mail Challenge. I enjoyed it and will do it again!

February 27: a letter to a penpal in Canada.

February 28: Postcrossing card US-1564063.

February 29: a thank you note for a birthday gift.

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Mar 03

Food for the Mind

Books/Writing, Life, Musings 0

I had a revelation this week. It’s something every reader has probably joked about from time to time, but this week I realized…it’s true.

When I get a little money, I buy books. If there is any left, I buy food. ~ Erasmus

I was unable to resist the temptation of a sale and a coupon from Barnes and Noble, and finally bought one of the more expensive books I’d been wanting. Yes, it came out of my grocery budget. I can eat beans and rice, I don’t notice what bland food I’m eating much when I have my nose in a book anyway.

Blood and Mistletoe: the History of the Druids in Britain

I’ve been fascinated by ancient Britain for some time now, no doubt influenced by a lot of the popular myths and images floating around due to various books and movies. I’m hoping this book will help give me a more realistic and hopefully accurate view of some of the traditions of that time period. I’ve been trying to understand the practices of the modern forms of “green” religions, and am continually put off when books or blogs claim to be following paths laid down thousands of years ago…when, at least by my understanding, their religious practices originated a few hundred years ago. Yes, they might have been inspired by a culture from millenia ago, but since there are so few written records of that time, they aren’t truly practicing the same thing. Just a pet peeve of mine, one I’m trying to become a little more educated about.

Unfortunately, due to some sad circumstance, my 2-day shipping has turned into 3 and the book will not arrive until Monday (instead of today), when I will not have time to read it. Le sigh.

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Feb 29

Garden Progress

Life 1

I’m beginning to think that gardening might not be as cost-effective as previously thought. By the time I finished digging half of the allotted plot today, I was twice as hungry as normal and still am. 😛 My body had also apparently forgotten it possessed certain muscles, which are now screaming in protest of a few hours spent digging in weed-matted earth.

Yeah. Half-way finished. I was hoping to get it all done today, but when almost 3 hours yielded half and my body becoming less and less willing to move…I threw on the bone meal and composted manure (due to a soil test revealing a pH balanced but nearly depleted soil – see pic) and called it a day. In some places the weeds are so thick it’s like trying to dig through sod. Hopefully this next weekend will be nice enough I’ll be able to do the other half and re-dig the half I did today.

Yeah, the other side is still a tangled, nasty mess.

I received my Botanical Interests order this week. It wasn’t much, a few new kinds of peppers and tomatoes, and several medicinal herbs. The shipping was super fast, always a plus. 🙂 I’m really excited to try some more heirloom type vegetables and flowers. I had never paid that much attention to the heirloom designation, though thanks to my mom’s garden experiments was well aware of the dangers of attempting to save seed from hybrids. 😉 This week I may order a few more herb seeds from Horizon Herbs. Still thinking about it. I’m not sure if I want to do that, or try to get my hands on some already dried so I can start experimenting with various concoctions. Hehe.

In other news…the lavender actually sprouted! So did the parsley that I had given up on. I’m a little bit stoked. Only a picture of the lavender for now, which looks very spindly and a little yellow. I think some fertilize is in order, but I need to figure out what I want to use for organic fertilizer.

(post written Sunday)

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Feb 27

Week of Mail, Reading AND Garden Progress

Books/Writing, Life 1

Phew. I’ve had a crazy busy week, but my normal energy levels seem to have returned. Now if I could just get rid of that pesky need for sleep. I’ll get back to you when I figure that one out.

I only missed one day of mail this week. I have to admit I’ll be glad to wave goodbye to sending mail every. single. day. I love sending and receiving mail, but I think I’m more of an every other or every third day person. Hehe. It’s been awesome fun though, and I’ll post my last February mail pics later this week. Excuse so many cell phone pics for this week, I was in a hurry for most of these.

February 21: Letter to a penpal in Finland.

February 23: Note to my grandma. Yes, I really like these cards. 😉

February 24: Postcard to a friend. Pic added later, because I think she sometimes reads my blog.

February 25: Note to my cousin in Colorado. We don’t talk much, but I always have a blast when we get to hang out together.

As far as books, I finished 3 this week! One felt like a bad movie, 3-4 hours of my life gone that I would like to have back (ok, maybe not quite that bad), but the others were very good!

15.  Small-Plot, High-Yield Gardening, by Sal Gilbertie and Larry Sheehan. Totally going on my wish list for gardening books, great reference.

16.  Rattle His Bones, by Carola Dunn. Oh, dear god. This series was recommended by a friend and while I really wanted to like it, I just couldn’t. “Cuddlesome curves” did it in for me. No. Just no. In all seriousness, the style of writing just really annoyed me, for some reason.

17. The Lost Gardens, by Anthony Eglin. I really enjoyed this one. It’s styled like an English cozy. My one problem was that in his attempts to explain some aspect of gardening to his readers Eglin completely changes both verb tense and point of view at several points of the book, which was very jarring and annoying. I’ll still go back and read the rest of the books in the series, though.

This post is getting a bit long, so I’ll save the gardening bit for another day. It warrants a post to itself anyway.

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Feb 22

Third Week of Mail

Books/Writing, Life 1

Last week, I got a little behind with mailing things. I was still trying to recover from being sick, and working at the same time. So I ended up sending one letter, a batch of Postcrossing cards, and a thank-you. Sort of lame, but I did send at least one piece of mail for every day, just not on the specified days.

Also, there is no 75 Books in 2012 update for last week because I didn’t get to finish anything! 🙁

February 13: Mondays seem to be my day for mailing pink envelopes.

February 14-17: All the postcards.

February 19: Thank-you note to my mom, who I’ve been pestering the heck out of the last few weeks with all my gardening questions.

Not sure if I’ll get to finish any books this week or not, just had a 13+ hour day yesterday and am working Monday-Saturday this week. Yay for overtime! But then my body is screaming at me. I can’t complain though, after we arrived back at the Roanoke donor center at 10 pm last night, some of the girls had to be back at 6:30 am this morning. At least I got to sleep in before going to work today!

Also, we finally got some snow! It was so beautiful while it lasted. I have some pictures I’ll attempt to share soon.

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