The Madness–It Begins Again

How could I forget in three short weeks what it was like living in a construction zone?

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The dining room. Not really a before picture, because J. the contractor has removed the carpet, put drywall on the ceiling, washed down the bare walls and floor, and put primer paint on the walls. The paneling boards there on one side are to see if I want to narrow the opening, which would give me more wall space. Its such a huge opening, but on the other hand, its a small house… (feel free to opine on this topic!) You can see the tiny kitchen through there–we are discussing various options for expanding the kitchen…

Anyway, living in a construction zone. It just changes your day. I have left the house twice IN MY GYM CLOTHES and never made it to the gym. I was too tired, or had too many other chores to run (Lowes, I’m looking at you.) I’m trying to be content with all the “functional exercise” I’m getting. And nary a stitch has been taken on the sewing machine. I am hopeful to sit down and sew today. I picked up the studio yesterday and cut out some strips from a set of colors I had put together. Just to make some funky little log cabin blocks.

I’m doing bits and pieces of work in the garden. Yesterday I stopped at the nursery and bought a Fuji apple tree! Its hard to resist a good tree. This tree had a beautiful shape, and for $26, well, that just seems like a good deal. Sallye (the nursery owner) said I will get fruit in five years. Guess I’ll be staying here a while longer!

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While I was outside, I looked up. The English Lilac has gone crazy this year! Usually there are not that many blooms on it, because its always had too much shade. Maybe it got so tall that I couldn’t reach to prune it, or it is getting more sun, but I’ve never had this many blooms on it.

 

In this picture you can see the whole lilac, and also the construction staging area outside.

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And some close-ups of the lilacs. What a lovely scent they have!

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DSCN1142(Same lilac, one picture shot in the evening, and one in the morning!) Its a little early, but I will wish you all a good weekend!

 

 

Garden Celebration

I just got done doing my taxes online. Does anyone else find this to be as nervewracking as I do? When I had finally jumped through the final hoop, double checked all my answers and numbers, and hit SEND, I felt like celebrating. Thank goodness I wasn’t at all hungry. I celebrated by sending an email to a friend, and then went out in the garden to look it over. We’ve had rain for days (NOT THAT THERE’S ANYTHING WRONG WITH THAT!!) It was fun to look for new surprises out there.

Look what was hiding:

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My New York Lily of the Valley! So small and delicate. Two more are coming up just where I planted them last year. Thank you again, my New York gardening friend!

I’ve loved maidenhair ferns all my life. And bought plenty of them over the years, with not much success. This is a new variety, which is supposed to be hardy to 10F, so we’ll see if its still here next year.

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And I bought a pink bleeding heart.

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I thought I had one, but the only one growing is a white one.

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This is a really beautiful Japanese maple. It comes out this delicate color in the spring. But its not in exactly the right location. And it might be one that does better in the ground. Slowly, I am transplanting some of the Japanese maples into the ground. It wouldn’t hurt to move the wood pallet behind it…

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Close-up:

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The tulips really have been pretty this year. Usually, it seems to me that it is too hot by the time they bloom, and they just get all floppy and wilty looking.

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Had to practically stand on my head to get this pic of the first bloom on the flowering cherry tree!

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And this little Japanese maple is doing very well in its new location in the ground. That is one of the ones I grew from a seedling from my original JM. See all that empty ground in front of it? Looks like a good place for a new flower bed, doesn’t it???

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Now that’s a good way to celebrate without food!

 

Before and After–Me and My Garden

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I ran across some old “fat” photos of me, and (squee!!) I figured out how to scan them. As I looked at one of them, I realized that it was a “before” picture of me AND my garden. It was probably taken within the first couple of years that I lived here, so that would have been about 1988. That’s me at 34 years old, and the start of my garden. I planted a couple of petunias in a wooden box. They actually did very well. The same wooden box was where I planted my little maple tree. That little maple tree grew and grew in that little wooden box until it couldn’t grow any more. And that is what precipitated the whole garden project! The big pine tree trunk behind me in that picture also grew and grew, until it had to be taken down. Its stump is in the middle of the raised bed now. Those are my dogs I had when I moved here, Charlie the Standard Poodle, and Muppet, my little Lhasa Apso. (The storage shed in the background had a tree fall on its roof, and it was removed shortly after that.)

This bed is built right where I was sitting in the first picture. The big maple tree is the one that started the whole project. It is doing so well this year.

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Here’s a view of the other beds this morning, with recent improvements by MLG (Master Landscaping Guy.)

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And me? Fortunately, instead of growing and growing, I stayed that same size for a very long time. And then I got smaller.

DSCN0716Me and that little maple tree–we’ve weathered a lot over the years. But we’re still standing.

Fun in the Garden

I went out to the garden to take a picture of one flower (I thought, ooh, gotta share this one with Lori,) and then found the “close up” option on my camera. I’m having fun playing with this new camera. If only I would read the instruction manual, I bet it’d REALLY be fun…

Here’s the flower I wanted to share. Its a Shasta Daisy, but so much more fun than the Shasta Daisies we had growing up. I got two of these plants to put in the corner garden where the tomatoes are currently residing. They are supposed to be deer resistant. We’ll see about that…

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Next up, pansies. Aren’t pansies just marvelous? They look like they’ve been painted by someone. Well, as a matter of fact, they HAVE been painted by Someone!

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I replanted the little plot outside the front door. The pansies will be so cheerful in the spring!

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This is the first year I’ve kept a fuchsia alive for the whole growing season! It is enjoying the cooler weather of fall. Unfortunately, it won’t so much enjoy the frost we get in winter…

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And the coleus, that had just about died at the end of summer, has made a re-appearance!

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Nice color combo, don’t you think?

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I am anxious to re-plant other areas of the garden (I have 150 bulbs to plant!!) but I just can’t bring myself to take these annuals out yet.

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This plant was a big surprise. It was just a few sticks when I bought it in the spring. It has gotten quite huge, and is a prolific bloomer through all three seasons. Its called a Flowering Maple (Chinese Bell Flower).

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There was a bee buzzing around the salvia. I had fun trying to get a good picture. Not quite as proficient as Lori with her close-up shots!

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Its a beautiful color though. I think this is a plant that will come back. I have really enjoyed its beauty this year.

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And more shots of my favorite lantana.

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And this little plant has just steadily produced blooms all summer. It seems to be enjoying the cooler weather too.

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And that’s the garden report for this weekend. I have some little plants to get in the ground, including some snow peas (yumm!) but I have to wait for some of the other plants to die so I will have room for them. That sounds rude, doesn’t it? But that’s life.

I have lots more to say about diet and food and aging and life, but I am having a hard time making myself take the time to write. How do you all do it?

I’m Still Here

I’m still here. I haven’t gone anywhere. I haven’t changed how I’m eating healthy or exercising daily (some people are prone to say that if a blogger disappears they have fallen “off the wagon.”)

I’m just busy with a single project and a looming deadline. I have lots of interesting bloggie thoughts floating around in my brain, but evidently not enough brain power left to form them into a cohesive blog post. Hopefully they’ll still be around in a week or two.

The Biennial convention for rug hookers is being held in Long Beach this year. It is a big deal for rug hookers, and I am really excited to go to it. In addition, my one rug hooking friend is coming out from Indiana and going with me. Isn’t it fun to find new friends? I am not a very outgoing person, especially in a workshop situation, but Mary Lynn and I hit it off at Cambria one year, and we’ve developed a nice friendship over the past few years. Its fun to have someone to ‘talk shop’ with. You might not know it, but there’s not a glut of rug hookers in the area LOL.

Anyway, here’s the almost completed rug. I’ve been working on it non-stop for a week, including some 8 hour hook-a-thons (all hooking terms added for your amusement.) I’ll write a little more about it on my quilt blog, if you want to hear more. I’ll try to post a completed picture of it before I leave.

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And I’m just gonna do one of them random picture posts so I can talk about this ‘n’ that without thinking too much.

On aging gracefully and acceptance of that fact: sometimes I see my hands and I think “where did they come from?” And then I remember–I have my grandma’s hands. She was kind and loving, and she always had her handwork with her, even when she was in her 90′s.  She is who I aspire to be like .

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Garden shot:

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Finally! My first echinacea that Sophie did not eat:

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Still life:

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After the bath:

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An excellent low calorie dip idea! Mix greek yogurt, SF marmalade, and mustard or honey mustard. I LOVE it on my Sunday evening rutabaga fries!

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The pugs’ bedroom (my kitchen):

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My first big tomato!!

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I’ll be back in a week or so, hopefully with a brain intact and rug hooking out of my system for a while!

Week’s End Report

As I said in my last entry (BTW, thanks for all your thoughtful comments on aging gracefully, I will write on that subject again soon…) MLG was over this week. While I was splitting that wood, he was working on a different project. I had mentioned that my tomatoes were so tall that they kept falling over, and I had run out of fence to tie them up to. Look what he did:

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I think its just a masterpiece! Its like a woven bamboo cage for tomatoes.

Can you see all the little tomatoes in various stages of ripening? Every day I go out and pick a few. I have quite a stash or cherry tomatoes now!

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Ooh ooh ooh. Speaking of tomatoes, here’s my very first BIG tomato. I ate it with some balsamic vinegar, some basil FROM MY GARDEN, and some fresh mozzarella. Mmmm mmmm mmmm!

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My big tomatoes are Brandywine, which are usually very large, but also typically misshapen, and have these splits in them. They still taste the best to me!

MLG also worked on another “problem area”. This area (behind the bench) has always been where I dump leftover stuff from the garden. When we put the beds in, it also became the empty pot place. MLG cleaned everything out, raked it, and even put down that layer of leftover wood shavings to make it neat. The dogs think the wood shavings are second only to carpet for peeing on…

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I put that little bench with my “bonsai” trees there a while ago. Now that the area is cleared out, I will move a couple of the Japanese maples over. I think they will get just the right amount of shade and sunshine there. You can see that I have a cattle gate there. Its not pretty, but I’m reluctant to put anything else in its place. It has been very handy when we needed to have a truck actually drive into the yard to deliver stuff. And beyond that is the old chicken coop. It is an eyesore. In good time, it will be taken down too…

 

A new visitor to the garden:

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I’ve also been making steady progress on my rug. I’ll get one area done, and then get stuck, and have to get opinions from various people, and then I can progress onto the next section. Thanks to Shelley, I was able to get the night sky done!

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And some close-ups:

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The stars:

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Last week I got on a real cooking jag, so this week I’ve reaped the benefits of that. My dinners have taken about 5 minutes to fix! I got a BUNCH of tomatoes that weren’t perfect from the farmstand for $1. I just cooked them a bit, and used half to make a chunky batch of my favorite spaghetti sauce, and the other half to make some delicious taco soup. I made a batch of Georgie’s Morning Glory Muffins, and they are almost too good (their subtitle is Zucchini Carrot Apple Banana Muffins–that tells you how good they are!) 100 calories makes them just right to have with a low cal dinner, or I can have two of them for my breakfast.

I’ve been back in the pool several times this week, but its been for 20 or 30 minutes. That’s just right for now.

I guess that’s all the news that’s fit to print around here. Happy Holiday weekend to everyone. In case I forget to mention it on Monday, our AIM posts will be postponed a week due to the first Monday falling on a holiday. Be sure to watch for it–we’ve picked a fun topic this month.

Almost Spa Week

Well, I had declared to myself and a few friends that this was going to be a spa week. But then I found out it was National Clean Up the Clutter Week. So that is going to be the focus of this week. I am planning to still give exercise a priority this week, but at least part of it will be “functional exercise.” The relaxing, luxurious part of spa week is going to have to wait. Its a lot more fun to relax when your house has been de-cluttered, anyway. I think I’ll blame this change of heart on Shelley and her Amazing Organized Closet!

Actually, I think I changed my mind when I spent a good part of Saturday cleaning all my deck furniture and hauling it BY MYSELF back up onto the deck. Can you hear the self-pity in that sentence? Anyway, it took a lot longer and a lot more energy than I had expected. And then seeing the results of something clean and de-cluttered has spurred me on to work on a couple of other areas in my house this week.

Here’s the deck, with its new green stain on it–MLG did a masterful job of repairing and sanding and staining it. I do love the color. And I just can’t describe how fun it is to walk across the deck knowing that it is safe and secure.

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Ever since I wrote my “Realtime in the Swimming Pool” post, I have been making steady progress on my goal to swim 2.4 miles. I regularly swim 100 lengths, with 40-60 length swims in between. 2.4 miles is 153 lengths. My plan is to swim this next weekend. I will decide what day to do it on depending on how I am feeling, and how busy the pool is. But you can be sure that it will be followed up with a cupcake to celebrate!!

So this week I plan to alternate days on the bike and weights, with swimming. I’ll walk a little. But Noah’s not into the walking too much (thank goodness,) and I do not enjoy walking in August. It is almost unbearably dusty around here in August.

My weight loss is so slow that its …well, I can’t think of a descriptor. Its just slow. I fluctuate between being impatient, thinking its not worth mentioning because its “re-loss,” and being unbearably proud and happy that I have been able to accomplish this. I have lost 22 pounds since last November. Just about 2 1/2 pounds a month.

My knees do feel better. I am sure the weight loss is the most significant factor. I also have kept up with my physical therapy exercises. If I slack off on them, I definitely notice it. In addition, I am taking vitamin B-12. I don’t know if it helps or if its just superstition. But I’m not gonna stop taking it. I still have pain with pretty much every step I take, but its very bearable. I had a couple of really bad days in June. So bad that I consulted my friend who has extensive personal experience with arthritis, and is also studying nutrition. Lynn reminded me that weather changes and pressure changes are one of the main culprits in arthritis flare-ups. And it just so happened that we had had a very weird weather change the days before that happened. Thanks, Lynn!

After that, I started keeping an arthritis calendar. I write down the exercise I do, the calories I consume, and if I have eaten anything different or unusual, like wheat or sugar, or just over-eating. And I write down when I have increased pain. Ever since I started it, though, I have been feeling fit as a fiddle, pretty much every day! There was only one day I was a little more stiff than usual, and that was another day we had a change from unusually cool weather to super hot weather.

Well, this got a little long-winded. Here’s some garden shots to end this on a high note.

My marigold “bouquets”:

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A new pot with that lime green plant (they really do well for me, so I like them) and a pink zinnia. I’m hoping it will grow and fill out the pot. We’re working on a “layered pink look” in the garden…

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And a fuchsia. Because I am silly and I grew up in the Bay Area where fuchsias grew like weeds. They like cool weather. But I can dream, can’t I?

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The Garden View

The other morning I opened the front door, and was just so thankful that I have such a pretty garden view right now. I thought I’d share it with you.

The view to the left:

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The view straight ahead:

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And over a little farther to the right:

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(Mr. Monk still enjoys sniffing around a little bit.)

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He doesn’t mind at all when I yell to “get out of there.” He can’t hear that well.

Each of these marigold plants looks like a bouquet!

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Close-up:

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Here’s what I was trying to show you–these green plants (sweet potato vine?) grow so quickly that they just dwarf the lantanas. But up close I can still enjoy them!

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A new old garden ornament. I’ve had this guy for years. I forgot to move him outside this summer:

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“Mom, blogging is BORRRRING!!!”

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Look at these huge fluffy sunflowers! I bought them at the farmer’s market.

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And the latest project at Casa Debby? Repairing the deck. All those new boards were where the boards were missing or rotted through! I should have taken a before picture. MLG is multi-talented! He did this job too! Tomorrow he will stain it. And we talked about an even bigger, more exciting project! I’ll let you know if that actually starts happening.

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At the same time as MLG was power-washing the deck, the electrician showed up! He replaced some burned out plugs, and next week he will put in some new fixtures that are long over-due. I am going to get track-lighting in the dining room-turned studio. It will be wonderful to have good lighting in there. Gotta tell you, with these two guys working simultaneously on the house, I SOOOOOOO wanted to stress eat. All I ate was an extra gummy calcium. Pretty good, huh?

And that’s how its going around here. Have a nice weekend everybody!