Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Home Sweet Home

My dear sister texted me yesterday asking if I had any recent pictures to post of the house. Coincidentally, the fun thing is that on my day off last Wednesday I really enjoyed being home in the morning to see the sun come in through the windows. I was sitting enjoying my cereal and feeling so fortunate and thankful to have a home right now in these difficult economical times. The talk radio that I listen to has no happy news these days and every day I feel so sad for people's loss of jobs and homes. So that morning while pushing out the negative and thinking about my blessings, I wanted to capture the moment for myself by taking a couple pictures of my favorite rooms in the house as the sun was streaming in. Here's our kitchen with dinner in the crock pot on the island.

And the bathroom, which I don't think has changed since last I posted pictures (other than a few new plants around the fountain). Oddly, my bathroom is my sanctuary when I want to relax. The water trickling in the urn (big brown thing in the center) is pure relaxation.. all I do is add water to the tub, hop in with a good book and enjoy the sun streaming in. This is the only room that has any decor other than furniture. We are on the 30 year plan!

I will add more pictures later of some of the other rooms that have furniture (some rooms are still empty) in case you are interested.

Friday, November 21, 2008

A Day Off

I took a spontaneous vacation day on Wednesday, inspired by a business class offered in Columbia, South Carolina. I got the day off, signed up for the 3 hour class and made a day of it. It was not a day filled with excitement around every corner and adventure up every hill, but it was a really nice day. Even though it was a day off, I didn't seem able to sleep past the usual wake up time of 5:30 so I got up and helped Paul get to work, did some spinning, watched a movie, cleaned up the kitchen and had a leisurely breakfast while reading a chapter of "These Three Remain," which I'm reading for the third time. I did a heap load of stuff before leaving the house at 9:30 and then decided to take the back road ways to Columbia, staying off the freeway for as much as possible. What a pretty drive!

The various buildings of the school were scattered among beautiful southern style homes.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Eastern North Carolina's Fall Fields

I was in Greenville of North Carolina for the past two weeks working, and I really enjoyed the scenery. Farmland and fields abound, and this was the first time I have seen cotton fields! This field was probably ready to be harvested, as all surrounding ones have already been de-cottonized. I couldn't believe that natural cotton was truly that white straight from the plant. I had the idea that it would need to be bleached to get the white T-shirt look.

I found a piece of cotton on the side of the road, as it is blown all over the place, and brought it home as a souvenir. Wouldn't it be fun to spin into yarn and knit a pair of socks? Only, the one pod is probably enough to do one finger of one glove! Spinning cotton is a different experience than spinning wool or alpaca. The fibers are so short. I have spun dyed cotton to make a hat, but it's one of those projects I haven't finished..

This is the cotton field from a distance. See the thicker patch near the treeline?
And here we are at a vacant field that I just thought was lovely in its own right. The trees, I am told by my work buddy, Jerry, are the infamous sweet gum trees. He says they make great shade, although he doesn't have one in his yard. He says he enjoys them from the safe distance of his neighbor's yard.
We decided to let Mavis the Sweet Gum stay planted in our yard through to the spring, and then we will transplant her again and put her along the back of our property line where the gum balls won't intrude on anyone's yard.
Meanwhile, Paul has arrived home safely from England, and it sounds like his mother is continuing to improve, thankfully. We are going to rest and take it easy this weekend.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

The Sweater (I) and The Sweater II Update

I'm picking Paul up from the airport this afternoon. He has been in England visiting his mum who has not been doing too well health-wise. He has had an exhausting few weeks (as has his mum) and so I've been busy this weekend working on ways to spoil him: apple pie is made and in the fridge ready to be baked this evening, his car is cleaned and vacuumed, the house is clean (a miracle), pot roast is in the crockpot, and so we should have no chores to do when he gets home.

Speaking of Paul, A few weeks ago I mentioned that the back of The Sweater II was almost finished. Well here it is! I had been working on it a few rows each night for the past week and last night I measued and it was the correct length: 26.5". Inspired from getting a big section done, I immediately cast on the stitches to start the first sleeve. I only wish I could get this done for Paul before winter is over. With spinning the yarn almost as fast as I'm knitting it, it seems like it could be possible, but with lots of experience in having unrealistic goals for my crafts, I know this will not come to pass!
Last night I was rummaging around for my circular needles to use on the sleeves for the Sweater II, and I realized that they were still attached to The Sweater (I)! So I thought, might as well get this one finished since all I had to do was bind off the stitches. If you recall, this sweater was supposed to be for Paul and then a valuable lesson was learned. When knitting patterns, don't measure the chest size and knit according to that exact measurement. Add a few inches for ease. So this, The Sweater fits him like a glove, but fits me more like how it should. Hence, The Sweater II was born.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Hotellin It

I was sitting at the desk in my hotel room the other night and looking at the assortment of things I had going on. Yep, life on the road with long working hours is about making use of the available time and multi-tasking. I was working on coloring jellybeans for my nursery age sunday school class while watching a movie I had from Netflix and shoveling leftover pumpkin cheesecake from Olive Garden (super tasty) with a protractor I had in my backpack (forgot to ask for a fork). Meanwhile, while the movie was playing, my computer was uploading my work email and timesheet. I had my knitting off to the side in case I had time for The Sweater II before getting to bed at a decent time.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Unhappy Truths Continued

More woe to my already woeful story of the unhappy discovery of Mavis the Maple's true identity as a sweet gum tree. Tonight I set myself to the task of discovering more about sweet gums, to enlighten myself and my readers who have "watched" Mavis grow up on my blog this past year. The news is not good, my friends, but here you have it from a website forum where people are posting their comments and asking for help regarding their sweet gum trees. I found this to be extremely enlightening, if not downright funny at times, but also sad if I do choose to keep Mavis planted in our yard. These are all quotes from the forum on website http://www.thriftyfun.com/tf86353601.tip.html :

"People, these trees are troublesome and dangerous, I had to rebuild the garage years ago because one approx. 30 inches in diameter fell across it, limbs, leaves, balls, are constantly falling. From what I have seen and heard these trees are very weak, lots of times breaking off 20 and 30 feet up with just a little wind. Anyhow, just want to rant a little because I so disliked those trees."

"For all you that don't like sweet gum trees, get some goats, mine have cleaned up every tree they could munch on and none come back because the goats eat as soon as anything on them sprouts. No problem here!"

"HELP!I had two VERY large sweetgums cut down in my backyard and now I have hundreds if not literally THOUSANDS of small sweetgum trees popping up EVERYWHERE around my house. I just run them over with the lawnmower and sure enough in 1 week they are everywhere again... What can I do/spray to get rid of all of these trees and keep what grass I do have? Please help!"

"My 9 year experience with a twenty year old sweet gum tree is: 1) the spikey balls are good for nothing, except building muscles raking the never ending supply, 2) it will raise the floor of your garage an 1 1/2" in the course of a couple of months and evidently crack it, 3) the branches, at any age, will easily snap in a wind storm - and aim for your roof, 4) the wood burns well, but only after it dries for three years, AND, 5) unless you dig all the roots out once you've fallen the tree and dug out the stump, you will continue to have sweet gum starts all over your world FOR YEARS. Good luck!"

"Reading through all these postings, I didn't see anyone mention the feature of this tree that I enjoy the most - crush some leaves in your hand and they produce a smell like turpentine. I don't like gathering up the thousands of "spiny balls" either, but I do enjoy the shade provided by the one tree we have in our front yard. Hey - I haven't gotten the flu in several years! maybe inhaling the "fumes" from the crushed leaves has something to do with it? Caution: some folks (such as my wife) may experience negative effects from this practice, but I really enjoy it!"

"Dear sweet gum club,I too have many sweet gum trees. Has anyone seen the wireball contraption that rolls on the ground picking up the balls as it is pushed?"

"The first year we lived in this house with the gumball trees our bull terrior got two infections in between her toes from those spikey little devils. Be careful with your pets."

"I would love to know how to effectively even rake up these gumballs. My hubby tried to "vacuum" them with a leaf blower. Not good! We could spend weeks raking and not make a dent!"

"Does ANYONE have a solution to our population explosion of gumballs?
Shockingly, not only do these huge, towering trees spit spiked balls all over our lot, but this spring, OVERNIGHT, it dumped some sort of leafy-type pods --- thousands, millions of them --- covering the patio and surrounding area. WORSE, these pods almost immediately ROT and STINK, almost like manure! As if that weren't enough, they then shed pollen, which creates an even further mess! What could people be thinking of when they plant these things? We live in Atlanta, so everything that thrives elsewhere thrives even more here!"

"I have come up with one use for the "porcupine balls" as i call them. i put them in the bottom of my potted plants (annuals) instead of rocks, for drainage. at the end of the season, i just dump the whole thing in the compost pile & dont have to dig out the rocks! i have also heard of making table top Christmas trees out of them, but havent tried it myself."

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Unhappy Truths

The big event of fall season here on the east coast, is naturally, the fall leaf color debates. One popular phrase is "Since it has been unseasonably dry this year, the colors won't be very vivid." Others say, "The height of color can only be seen in the mountains, but wait another week or so before you make the trip." Some say, "You better go this weekend or miss the display entirely!" Everyone has some tidbit of information to add about the leaf coloration and when and where to see the best display.

What better time to be outside doing field work? None that I can think of. And lucky me, I've been out for 3 weeks already and have enjoyed every bit of it (when I've been smart enough to dress warm enough).

But amidst the leaf excitement, last week I was in the field with my boss who happens to be a (self-proclaimed) expert on deciduous trees. I didn't know this because he's a geologist not a biologist. But get him outside and he's pointing out hickory trees here and maples there and live oaks yonder. So we were sitting and sampling a well and admiring the surrounding tree coloration when I saw a tree that looked the spitting image of Mavis the Maple who Paul and I have fondly raised from the wee size of 6" tall. I proudly stated, "I have a maple tree just like that one." He smirked and said, putting on his Agent C cap, "Actually it's real identity is a sweet gum tree." I didn't dare tell him that I have even named my sweet gum tree "Mavis the Maple." I just concealed my disappointment and said, "oh."

Meanwhile, Mavis the Makeshift Maple is enjoying her new home, transplanted in our backyard a few weeks ago. She has decided not to change colors yet, and it's probably because she's suffering from an identity crisis.