3/25/24

Puppy time

The puppy (she who remains nameless) is growing and becoming more independent.  Last week, I worked out a schedule of playing with her for a while, then letting her curl up in my lap for a nap while I worked.  This week, we will be working on that nap being in her crate, near me, but not on me.  And, we're working on her chewing things that are not our fingers and toes.  Goodness but those little teeth are sharp.  This is her enjoying time in the chair next to my desk, but that's Bella's chair, so the puppy didn't get to stay there long.  

She stiI've enjoyed making up names for her, like Wilhelmina's handbag and pink and purple people eater and Rufus.  When Rob took her to the vet on Friday, they entered the name "new puppy" so Rob didn't have to make a snap decision.  Right now, Bailey is a top contender.  I like Ruby too.  And, I really like Spot, but I don't think many people name their dogs like that anymore.  

Spring is really taking off in the garden.  I forget what it's like every spring when everything is coming up and starting to bloom.  This Broom is really going to be spectacular this year.  It's in a tall narrow pot, so is like a huge flower arrangement in a vase.  As long as it doesn't get top heavy and start falling over in the wind, I think it's in the perfect pot.  


And, the first Gerber Daisy has bloomed.  This plant has tried to bloom every time it warmed up over the winter, and each time, the flower got bit back by the cold.  But, now it's getting a chance to shine.  I moved all my Gerber's this year to be nearer this one.  They were in the wrong spots and struggling in the summer heat, so I've moved them to a place where they'll get some really good sun, but in the late afternoon, when it's really baking out there, they'll be in some shade.  


And, the little ground covers are going nuts.  Lots of little purple violets and ajuga blooms.  


The Mock Orange is winding up for it's show.  I really wish this bloomed longer than a couple weeks.  


My 12 year old car is having an engine problem for the first time.  It's bad timing, but honestly, I can't complain about it.  It's been a great car and has only been in the shop a couple of times.  I feel very lucky.  And, I'm lucky that I have a job where I can take time off to sit in the dealer's auto shop lobby for a day with a good book.  It will be nice to get away from it all and just waste some time.  

Potty training.  That really describes it all right now.  She's too young to expect her to really learn it, but she seems to be getting the message and we're letting her out so often that she's doing it in the right place most of the time, and being praised like she just invented air.  But, I will be glad when I can walk across the house in sock feet again.  

Everybody have a great week!  And may all the poop in your life be where it's supposed to be, and if it's not, then easy to clean up.

Lane



3/18/24

That episode where Rob got a puppy

 Good Lord what have we done?  Now we're saying things like "please don't do that in the house" and "how did you even get that in your mouth?"  


She's 2 months old and weighs 3 lbs.  And, she's all energy and the sound of a herd of cattle when she runs across the house.  And, everything goes in her mouth.  

She's never been alone.  

The first night, she cried about 20 minutes and then another 20 when we got up in the middle of the night.  And, I thought 'piece of cake'.  Last night, she cried and yowled and howled and barked and whined for 3 1/2 hours.  At 11, Rob asked what I thought we should do and I suggested we sleep on the couches.  So, we did.  Yes, a 3# puppy ran us out of our bed.  We should be ashamed, but at least we got a half night's sleep.  Tonight, I'm going to be sure to be prepared for a more pleasant night if I"m on the couch again.  

Bella is doing pretty well with it.  She's establishing boundaries and perimeters (probably better than we are).  She's never had a dog to play with  She was growing up in Syd's room when we brought Mable in.  This is a new experience for my 14 year old, stuck in her routines, "I vant to be alone" drama-chiweenie.  When she wants to play, they play.  When she wants to be left alone, she ain't playin.  

Rob seems to be pretty happy about it all.  He's very patient, except when it came to not being able to sleep in his own bed.  This is how I caught them napping yesterday.  I nearly died of adorable.


Okay, that's enough about me.  There was no yard work, no sewing, no knitting, no nothing except playing with a puppy and cleaning up after a puppy and buying things for a puppy.  And, she's lost interest in her chew toy, so now I'm back on babysitting duty.  Because I can't take my eyes off her or she'll be pulling Rob's scarf off the chair and running across the house with it.  Or chewing through an electrical cord.  Or worse.  

Be well.  Have a great week.  Don't chew that wire!!  

Lane



3/11/24

Growth and taxes

Weeks seem like they pass so quickly now and some weeks, it feels like nothing really happens although it really did...it just wasn't interesting.  I filed our taxes.  We had to pay this year for the first time in either of our lives due to a small error at Rob's company.   Not much.  Just enough to break our record of never having to pay at the end of the year.   My doctor is leaving the company and I had to find a new one.  I've been putting it off but then I saw that one of my prescriptions was about to expire, so had to get that done.  Telemed is nice, but I need a relationship with a doctor I can shake hands with and look in the eye.  I also scheduled an appt with a dermatologist.  Living in TX, it's way past time that I saw one.  And I had to go to the office one day.  Other than adding a restaurant to the list of places Rob and I would enjoy, it was a very nothing day.  

I spent as much time as I could in the garden.  The fertilizer last week really did the trick.  Everything is popping out of the ground and trying to get to the sun.  It's white season right now.  I don't grow a lot of white flowers.  Most plants with white flowers don't do well in the heat, so all my white flowers are at the beginning of the season.  It starts with the white iris.  


And, the white spirea.  This spirea was trimmed into an almost perfect sphere and then it bloomed and the weight of the flowers changed the shape.  Oh, well.  It should go back to a sphere when this is done.  

The white mock oranges are getting ready to explode next.  

I even got this one early yellow iris.  This iris bloomed in the fall when it shouldn't and now it's at it again.  Odd.

And, I worked on Rob's shirt.  Mary, I'm not sure how many shirts I"ve made.  I've been making shirts since before I decided to learn how.  These are the first two shirts I remember making.  I was very excited to give it a try.  They're made out of quilting cotton so were very heavy.   If you've been quilting since the 90's, you probably recognize the prints.  They were newly released when I got them.  The shirts were not good enough to wear out, but they were good enough to wear around the house and in the garden.  They're showing their years now and I doubt I could get them to button around me anymore, but I still have every shirt I made, except the ones I made for friends and the ones I really didn't like and cut into quilt scraps.  

I made progress on Rob's shirt.  I just need to hem the sleeves and do buttons and buttonholes.  I got a new button foot for the Bernina so am not dreading that they way I do so often.  I've tried a variety of feet to sew on a button with varying levels of success.  I'm looking forward to trying the real thing.  

Everybody have a great week.  In the midst of doing the things that have to be done, be sure to find time to do something just for fun.  

Lane




3/4/24

Spring chores

Spring is early this year.  I'm afraid that's a harbinger of a hot summer.  It's also meant that there's a lot to do in the garden and not a lot of time to get it done because all the perennials are off to a leaping start.  Yesterday I fed and watered, so no telling what will be happening out there next weekend.  

This is a French Broom.  I saw one at a neighbor's house and it was beautiful!  They had it in a large barrel at the end of their driveway.  I picked up a small one and stuck it in a tall pot and it did really well.  The neighbors left theirs out over winter and I'm not sure it's coming back.  I put mine in the greenhouse where it doubled in size over the winter and now it's started to bloom.  Not a lot.  It likes it HOT!  But, it's an early start.  It should bloom for a good part of summer.  While it doesn't look like there's a lot happening in the background, there is.  


I have a few early violets.  These will be in full bloom in a few weeks and they'll last all spring.  My Mom gave me a few many years ago and I've let them grow as a ground cover.  They do very well and don't mind a little sun.  But, they'd also like to take over the place and I've learned not to let them take hold in a flower pot because once they take hold, they're hard to get rid of.  

And, the grape hyacinths are getting started.  Just a few stalks now, but the rest look ready to go.  And, they've multiplied into many more plants than the little bag of bulbs I bought.  This is another plant that I don't think would like the heat, but they do fine during summer and stay green all year round.  


The white iris are getting started.  These are usually the first blooms of the year, but even they're confused by the early spring.  This is the only stand that has flowers open.  I have these all over the garden.  They're not very tall, so they shrink into the background during summer, but I enjoy having the early flowers all around.  


This orchid is putting on a really good show, so wanted to share it.  I love the green flower with the brown center.  I saw this one and loved it.  I don't know if they're particularly fragile or not, but I've killed a couplel.  Hopefully, this one will be the one that lasts.  


I don't think I give my orchids enough light.  They bloom in winter when the trees have lost their leaves.  I'm thinking of taking a couple out to the greenhouse for spring.  I don't think they'd like it out there during summer, but spring outside should be nice for them.  

I started a shirt for Rob.  I got it cut out and the front and back together on Saturday.  I've made the collar and am ready to attach it and the collar stand.  This one has extra size in the arm and I"m interested to see how Rob likes it.  

I needed to go to the new office last week.  The day was built up as a building tour and getting to know the new facility.  There are no assigned desks, so it's a free for all.  They offer monitors but no keyboards or mice or any other office supply.  Fortunately, I have a "desk in a bag" that I carry.  It has everything I need to get the job done and I bought a small keyboard yesterday so I don't have to keep the laptop open (I like having two monitors, but the laptop makes three and that's too much to keep up with.). I had been to a meeting where they showed us the floor plan.  I knew more about the facility than the manager that was leading the tour and when the managers would start to dilly-dally around, I'd move the tour forward to the next fascinating destination.  And, as is traditional in my team, the 5 guys who all have private offices kept having impromptu meetings in the cubicle farm where the rest of us work.  It's like they can't possibly meet in one of those large offices with extra chairs and a window view, so they have to meet in the middle of people that are trying to get something done.  I guess that will never change.  I still don't plan to spend any more time in office than they make me.  And, if they try to make me too much, I'll mention maybe moving my retirement date up a little.  That should bring a stop to that.  

You know I love to share the thoughts of others that are pithier than me.  I loved this one.  

And this one.

Everybody have a great week!  If your state votes on Super Tuesday, I hope you voted early and don't have to stand in line or that you make it out to vote.  It may not feel important because we've been cornered into making an awful choice because of an ancient man's fragile ego, but it's still important because there are other races down ballot from there where we need to make our voices heard before the false-christian nationalists try to take us all out unless we bend a knee to their racism, homophobia and bigotry.  

Lane


2/26/24

Spring

It's spring in Texas and I'm taking full advantage of it because it won't last long.  We worked in the yard both mornings until we couldn't anymore.  I got almost all the dead stuff out of the garden and it's bagged up and on the street.  I also started the composter again with leaves and food scraps and started moving plants out of the greenhouses and gave everything a really good watering.  I've trimmed off any growth that died over winter and it's all looking great!  So far, the only thing I've lost is a little cactus that was too close to the roof in the greenhouse and froze.  At least that's what I think happened to it...  Either way, it didn't make it and everybody else did, so I must have done something right.

I got a little overambitious on Saturday, cutting things back, raking out dead leaves, and yesterday, it was time to bundle and get it ready for the street.  I'm all about making a mess and worrying about the cleanup later.  I did the same thing in the kitchen yesterday, too.

Yesterday afternoon, I baked bread and made a cake.  We enjoy our fresh baked goods.  The recipe made two loaves of bread, so I'll freeze one for next week.  We love home baked bread with our dinner and I'll slice off a couple slices, wrap them in foil and put them in the oven with whatever I'm cooking and it's like it just came out of the oven.  The cake is orange flavored and I found the recipe in a vintage cookbook.  It was supposed to be baked in a 9" tube, but that's too much cake for us, so I put it in a 6" tube and two 6" layers and still had enough for a 6" bundt pan.  I kept the bundt out and we will eat it first, then I'll pull out one of the others and frost it with a different frosting or a drizzle and it will be like a different cake.  

The bread is French bread.  I didn't realize that the first couple of times I made it, but last Sunday, I baked Julia Child's recipe for French bread and realized that the new recipe is just a much (MUCH!) easier version of that.  The kitchenaid does most of the work and you don't build a firm gluten cloak for the crust so it isn't as tough, but that's fine.  Julia's recipe ended up making a great crust, but there was a large air bubble in both loaves, just under the crust and the easy version doesn't end up that way.  And, Julia's recipe took all day. and had multiple long rises.  The new recipe took 3 hours with two shorter rises.  

Saturday, I left the lights on in the greenhouse and looked out after dark.  It looked so nice that I had to take a picture.


I've been inspired to make a shirt for Rob.  He asked for more room in the shoulder and sleeve for this one, more like the cut of a Hawaiian shirt than a fitted shirt.  I needed to muslin that and it took a couple tries, but I think I've got it.  He tried on several shirts that he likes the fit of, and I noticed where he pulled at them and I gave him extra size in all those spots.  I've started taking it apart so I can trace the new pattern pieces and get started.  The muslin will go in the bag with his pattern so the next time I need to make an adjustment, I'll have a muslin already started.  

I saw this and it really spoke to me.  Thought I'd share it.  

Everybody have a great week!  My office has moved to a new location and I need to go in this morning to take a tour.  They want it to be an all day event, with lunch and a walk around the walking trails, but who got time for that?  I'll be there long enough for teacher to take roll call, then I'm headed back home to the peace and quiet where I can actually get some work done.  

Be well!  Lane



2/19/24

A busy couple of weeks

Being without glasses is weird.  I've worn glasses since the 80s.  I need a pair of readers for really small print, but otherwise, I'm getting used to seeing myself in the mirror without glasses.  I had a birthday last week and I can see all those years laid out around my eyes.  At least my creases and wrinkles are from smiling and laughing and not from brooding.  I'll need glasses again at some point, but I'm going to enjoy this time of clear sight as long as it lasts.  

Over the two weeks, I spent a lot of time knitting and cooking.  I made this scarf out of a really chunky yarn and huge needles.  It was easy to see, even during that week when my eyes were out of sync and I couldn't see much.  




I made beef bourguignon.  About the most I ever try to do is feed Rob leftovers once, but when he saw the leftovers after that, he asked for it again.  I made half a recipe that was supposed to feed 4-6 and we ate 6 meals from it with some boiled potatoes.  I needed the potatoes to cut down on the richness.  If the potatoes had been cooked in the wine with the meat and carrots, I think it would have been too much.  This way, it was perfect!


I also made myself a delicious birthday cake; strawberry with 7 minute frosting.  Does anybody else ever make 7 minute frosting anymore?  It's the perfect accompaniment to a flavorful cake.  It's like frosting it with marshmallow or something.


It wasn't all good stuff tho.  We lost our old cat.  Sugarfoot was almost 20 and it was his time.  
Here he is, torturing Mable with a bath.  Don't let this pic fool you.  They were big time rivals for Rob's attention.


Work is good, but I wish I'd taken more time off.  I have the time and I had an excuse and I should have used it.  Instead, I rushed back to work and gave myself a couple of headaches the week between the surgeries and I should have given myself more time.  But, I guess that's more time I can take off in the spring, when I really want to be outside.  

Everybody have a great week!  Couple of gifs that I thought were fun.



Lane


2/13/24

As seen in real life

Both  cataract surgeries are over.  All went well and I"m in that stage where I'm doing drops all day.  First surprise was color.  Blue is sooooo blue and white is very, very bright.  As a quilter, that's going to help!  

Working last week was as challenging as I expected.  Sometimes I had one eye closed or covered and sometimes, I had the other.  I probably wasn't very productive, but I was able to get some stuff done.  

Today, my eyes are working in tandem again and I can see/read everything but small print on computer and phone screens and I have a pair of readers that I'll use until I'm fully healed for the that.  After that, I'm supposed to be slightly nearsighted.  We will see.  

Everybody said cataract surgery was no big deal.  And, they were right.  It's not how I'd choose to spend a Sunday afternoon, but as medical procedures go, it wasn't bad.  Oh, and I've finally learned to put in eye drops, which I've always been terrible at.

Everybody have a great week!  

Lane

1/29/24

Dinner bell

Lately, it's been all about the food.  We already ate good, but I've been trying to up my game a little.  I'm a cook that can go in the kitchen, pull out a bunch of ingredients and make something that will be delicious about 90% of the time.  I know how things taste and I can imagine how they'll taste together.  I am less efficient at following recipes.  

I've been trying to learn to follow recipes in Julia Child's cookbooks with results that are...meh.  I've thrown out two genoise cakes and while we've eaten most of the rest, it's just been kind of struggling through it.  And, for some reason, I burn my hand about half the time because I'm paying too much attention to the recipe and not enough to the equipment.  So, I'm stepping back a bit and trying other cookbooks.  

Cooking is a distraction, and I'm throwing my whole self into it, so I spent yesterday in the kitchen.  I made the cake that ended up being the texture of cornbread.  But, I also made a delicious chicken stew that I served over mashed potatoes.  


And, I braised a leek.  We didn't grow up with leeks, but I've been experimenting, putting them in different things like potato soup and sautéing them with a sliced mushroom to fill an omelette.  Yesterday, I found this braised leek recipe with a pancetta dressing.  Who knew that's what a cooked leek tasted like.  It was just a one off thing to see if we'd like it, not part of a meal, but I ate the whole thing as an afternoon snack.


And, I made a pot of sauce with chicken sausage.  Not sure how that's going to be.  It was very greasy when I tasted it, so am hoping I can scoop some of that off now that it's been in the fridge.  The sausage has been delicious on pizza, so this is just an experiment to see how it goes.  


Last week, Rob's 2006 F150 hit it's first repair that exceeded the value of the vehicle, so he'd been shopping diligently for a new truck.  Saturday morning, he stumbled up on an ad for one that was almost too good to be true.  We went and looked at it as soon as the dealership opened and brought it home with us.  I can tell he's very excited and has been playing with it like a kid with a Christmas toy.  Every so often, I realize I don't know where he is and he comes in to tell me some new thing he's discovered about it.  





I'm going to be out for a couple weeks.  I'm having my eyes done...not for beauty, but for utility.  I'm having cataract surgery next Monday and the Monday after.  The one thing that no one has been able to tell me is how I'm supposed to work between visits when my eyeglass prescription doesn't work anymore. That's going to be an adventure.  Everyone says this is going to be a big nothing, and I am trusting in that and am not really even nervous about it.  I can hardly see now, so anything is going to be an improvement.  Unfortunately, due to a secondary eye condition, I can't get the Cadillac of lenses that would keep me from needing glasses.

Everybody have a great couple of weeks!  I wanted to leave you with this thought from Adam Rippon.  


Lane

1/22/24

Turn up the heat!

I'll be right up front, nothing happened last week except trying to stay warm.  I was "under the weather" (not quite sick, but not quite feeling up to par).  Fortunately, I'd spent last Sunday making soup and chili and other delicious warm foods, so I didn't need to get much done except clean up after us and Rob helped with that.  Fortunately, there wasn't any precipitation with this hard freeze, so we weren't shut in.  

Monday was a holiday.  It's new for my company to offer MLK day and I forgot and worked half a day.  At noon, I was like why am I not getting any emails?  Then I checked and no one appeared to be logged in, so I double checked my connection to make sure I was logged in...and then I went to check and sure enough, holiday.  So, I got the afternoon off and spent it knitting on a sweater I'm making.  Tuesday, I worked, but it was 15 degrees that morning with a high in the mid 20's and I convinced Rob to take some of that paid time off he's been hoarding.  By Wednesday afternoon, it was all over and we had sun Weds afternoon, all day Thursday and Friday morning.  Then it was cloudy and while it was cold, it stayed above freezing.  

Both greenhouses did great!  I had bluetooth thermometers in both, so didn't have to open them to make sure it was warm inside.  After the first night, I added some weight around the perimeter of the portable greenhouse to keep the wind from blowing under the flaps that sit on the ground and that kept it several degrees higher the next night.  When I opened it on Thursday for some sun, everyone was happy.  So happy that a tomato was ripening.  


Through the whole thing, Bella stayed warm and curled up in her bed.  She's been having a little trouble with her mobility.  She's not as quick to get up after being still for a few hours and she doesn't run much and jumping up on the furniture was getting harder.  The vet suggested Librela.  It's a monthly injection, which will be a pain, but the night of the first injection, she started doing things she hadn't done in 6 months, like jump off the sofa, run across the room and take a flying leap onto the chair and another leap to her favorite perch to observe me from...it's so nice to be someone's everything.  She doesn't want me to touch or cuddle her, but she doesn't want me out of her line of sight either.  Weird little dog.

While it was so cold, I really didn't waste...I mean wisely spend much time cleaning house, so Saturday morning, I made up for it.  While I was doing that, Rob pulled out his lego to do some maintenance and to add a new piece he'd assembled during his extra time off.  I got to see them and he has some very detailed pieces.  This is the Simpson's house.

And, the RV.


And, some of the other pieces.  The light blue truck and horse trailer in the back are the new pieces.

And, the cabin he says we'll live in one day.

The lego from my childhood has grown up to be a very expensive and complicated adult amusement.  Rob can spend hours working on a piece.  

Sydney asked me for a secret recipe the other day, one that's not written down.  I gave it to her, but secrets have a price.  

Everybody have a great week!  The weather says everyone in the US is going to have warmer weather this week.  I hope it's nice and safe and warm wherever you are.  

Lane

1/15/24

Baby, it's cold outside!

All is good here.  Hope it is where you are as well.  The temperatures I'm seeing in the news  leave few us us truly comfortable...or safe.  Climate change is coming for us all.  

In Austin, anytime it drops below freezing, people head to the grocery to fill their pantries for Armageddon.  It's crazy how so many freak out.  We did our regular grocery run yesterday and ran into shelves like this all over the store.  It didn't really affect us.  I was able to find everything we needed by sometimes buying a different brand or size, but I still don't get this urgent need to hoard food for a freeze.  


There wasn't much to do yesterday, so I cooked.  I made a batch of homemade croutons out of old bread, a big pot of beef/vegetable soup, a pot of chili, chicken korma, a batch of oatmeal/chocolate cookies, and bread.  Even if we lose power, we will eat good.  


Saturday, we covered the greenhouses.  I had to adjust the greenhouse cozy to fit a larger greenhouse this year, so I did that early Saturday morning and by mid afternoon, we had my two covered as well as Rob's.  We were in goodwill one day and I found a nice quilted bedspread with a poly batting for $8.  I decided my time to make quilts for the larger greenhouse was worth more than that, so we were buying them when it was warm and no one else was thinking about it.  The last few times we've been in goodwill, there were no warm blankets.  This morning, both my greenhouses are at 36*F.  That's not very warm, but it's above freezing and the plants should be alright.  I opened the small one yesterday to check on it and I swear, it was warmer in there than the digital thermometer said it was, so I'm not really worried.  Also, the humidity in there is 80%.  If it was that cold, that water would have condensed and fallen to the ground and the humidity would drop, so I remain hopeful that the tropicals will be fine.



We went out for dinner on Saturday night.  Nothing fancy, just some Chinese at a favorite place but it was just us with no distractions and that's always nice.  On the way home, we saw the most magnificent sunset as the cold air moved in.  It was like the sky was on fire.  


I have a Christmas cactus that's late.  Someone suggested that maybe the cactus was on time and Christmas was early.  I like that idea.  


The plants are packed in that greenhouse, but with the bigger portable greenhouse, there's a path that goes all the way to the back.  Last year when it was freezing, I could not have gotten to the back if I'd tried.  


Last week, I identified an opportunity at work.  We have a small issue that only affects a few customers, but is annying and costs us a good bit of money every year.  It's too small to get the company's attention for a fix, but it needs a consistent process because everybody that bumps into it takes a different approach to solving it.  I pointed that out to my manager and instead of sending out an email under his name to ask if his peers agreed that we needed a solution, he forwarded my email.  That felt good.  And, the reply emails that started with some version of "I agree with Lane..." really felt good.  Now, I just gotta think of a way to solve it...oops!  Don't offer what you don't have, I guess.

I saw this and thought it was funny enough to share.  


Everybody have a great week!  Hunker down and stay warm like Bella is.  Spring will come...eventually, but we might have to chant "I believe in spring, I believe in spring..."  If we believe enough, spring will come.  


Lane