Sunday, November 27, 2005

Another technological baby step

I had a nice bit of birthday money to spend so I actually bought an iPod today. Not the Nano; I wanted the additional storage. 30 GB is probably overkill, but given how much I want to load, I doubt it would take me long at all fill up the 2 or 4 GB available on a Nano. As for why I shelled out all that money, I figured it was a much more efficient way to take my music on the road with me than my Walkman, travel speakers, and a stack of audiocassettes. (Yes, I admit it - I even own LPs that I bought new, not from a thrift store.)

Now to figure out how to get this thing working. I'm impatient - I want to know how to use my new toys (the iPod, my digital camera, etc.) without having to go through the learning process. Not that I resent the owner's manual, I just resent the time it takes to figure out how to make my new toy do its tricks. Ah well, enough whining. As a former supervisor used to say, "Suck it up and drive on."

Thanksgiving in Florida

... just feels weird. 80 degrees and gorgeous on Thanksgiving Day? No, it's supposed to be cloudy, dreary, and maybe in the 40s. Actually, the weather was perfect just about the whole week we were there for Thanksgiving w/ my snowbird parents. The only hard part, of course, is leaving those balmy 80-degree temps to return to a clime easily 50 degrees colder! Brrrrrrr!

I'd been so preoccupied with other things that I'd never considered the possibility of seeing hurricane damage. My first reality check was as our plane was landing and I spotted an entire housing development with bright blue roofs. "How interesting and what a pretty, tropical color," I though to myself. This is Florida, after all, where the houses are often painted in bright colors - why should the roofs be any different? Then I noticed other onesie-twosie blue roofs, and the penny dropped fully when I saw partial blue roofs. In other words, I was seeing tarps covering damaged or destroyed roofs.

Once we landed, we hardly saw a single tree that hadn't lost at least some of its foliage; some had been stripped entirely, though not as many had been snapped off as I'd have thought, given all the wind damage. Broken or missing signs, piles of storm debris, boarded windows in many of the buildings, hand-lettered "Yes, we're open!" signs on otherwise empty-looking buildings - Wilma left not a block untouched, though a few buildings apparently survived relatively unscathed. What also surprised us was how long people had to wait to get power restored; waits of as long as 2 weeks weren't unusual!

All in all, it makes me realize just how very lucky we were to survive Hurricane Isabel a few years ago with only a 2-day power outage and some demolished bushes. It could have been much, much worse!

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Domestic is all well and good but...

Can't wait until things at work settle down so I can get back to auditioning, rehearsing and performing. As it is, all I have time for are domestic pursuits - playing in the mud, planting bulbs and pansies, making the occasional pot of soup, baking, and too little reading. I enjoy all these things, but they don't get me out of the house and connecting with others (sorry, giving the cashier my grocery coupons doesn't count). And while the larder's full and the laundry's getting done (and even folded!) fairly regularly, I've been feeling kinda boring. After all, no one cares that I'm caught up with laundry & grocery shopping, and most folks aren't really all that interested in my little spurts of gardening - it's not like I'm breeding rare, priceless orchids or anything else out of the ordinary.

More color

There's something to be said for waiting. The nursery had end-of-season pansies for only $1 each. I bought 10, all different, and planted them as soon as I got home, while there was still a little bit of rapidly-fading light. They're now occupying the bed Chief worked up on Sunday. Since the dirt was already enriched and worked over, it only took about 10 minutes to get all my pansies planted. Can't wait to see how they look in daylight...

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Spring color, part 2 of 2

Well, I ran out of bulb-planting time last week - only got the allium bulbs in. Today was absolutely gorgeous - sunny and in the 7os! Chief & I took advantage of the superlative weather to spend several hours out in the yard.

When I wasn't helping him with his projects, I dug holes - LOTS of them! - and finished planting all my bulbs. All 50 daffodils and all 90 crocuses! If you're fortunate enough to live somewhere with real dirt (black or brown, loamy, full of earthworms), this may not sound like so very much work. However, in our area that means digging all those holes in clay and working in some proper dirt and probably some bulb food, for insurance. I think most, if not all, of the Eastern Seaboard must sit on this red-orange clay. Makes great bricks, I suppose, but not something you want in your garden. You really have to put your back into it to dig up your garden and you absolutely have to work in some peat moss, humus, sand, real dirt, or other soil enricher (usually over at least 2 or 3 successive years), then hope for the best.

A few hours into it, I looked at how very many bulbs I still had to plant and thought "I'll have to finish this another time". But when I started planting on the side of the yard where we had the plumbing excavation back in August and realized the clay wasn't nearly as dense there, I started digging broader holes and putting several bulbs in them (one hole got at least a dozen crocus bulbs). So while I planted 140 bulbs, I did not dig 140 holes! However, I did expressly tell the Chief, "If I ever want to buy this many bulbs again, stop me!"

For his part, he dug up a flower bed, sifted the top few inches of dirt through a box filter he'd made himself to get rid of the rocks, roots, and other trash, then dumped the dirt back into the bed and worked in a 20-lb. bag of enriched dirt. This to get it ready for me to plant some color, so I'm off to the nursery later this week to get some pansies as stop-gap color. Come spring, though, that bed's earmarked for impatiens.

He also raked up nearly all of the last of the straw the excavators put down after the plumbing "adventure", bagged up the straw for the lawn trash pick-up, dug up a lot of the dirt and redistributed it (it's been settling very unevenly), put down lots of grass seed, and watered the lot.

Now we're joking about filling the tub with Ben-Gay and marinating our overworked muscles in it. Wonder just how stiff I'll be tomorrow...