Alone...All Alone

Andrew has left me!!!

He's gone for four days to Los Angeles for a choir event. It's like a little trial run for when he moves there for good in just a matter of months. It wasn't so terrible this time, as I was so looking forward to just cleaning my house and having 4 days where I didn't have to come home and question whether I would find crumbs everywhere in the kitchen, or something that spilled all over the microwave, or jeans in a pile in a doorway (why does this happen ever anyway??), etc. It's just peaceful. For now.

But I know it's only for a few days. And I have plans every day. So it's easy to accept him leaving.

When he goes off to college though...nope....not easy. Not at all. Do people survive this whole "empty nest" syndrome when there is only one baby in the nest? And only one parent? There are unexplained deaths all the time in our country. Perhaps this is one of the explanations....

Just Another Manic Monday...

Manic in my blogging thoughts that is...It was actually a really calm Monday at work.

I've been slowly catching up on this latest season of The Biggest Loser. Are you watching? I haven't watched it for a couple years, but wow, the host, Alison Sweeney, has gotten mean!!! And I'm still really surprised that people think this is a healthy way to get healthy. Losing 15 pounds a week??  I just don't think the human body knows what to do with that. One guy lost 120 pounds in SEVEN weeks. Insane. Sure, the human body is not meant to handle an extra 2-300 pounds either, but losing THAT fast...seems dangerous. And p.s. - the new 20something trainers? Very irritating. And horrible actors.

How many chances do you give a restaurant to get your order done nicely before you give up on them? There's a thai restaurant directly on my way home and it's WAY convenient...but the last three times I've gone there - not up to standards. I've gotten over the fact that the owner, who is at the register 99% of the time, is not friendly in any way, no matter what I do/say to him. But to not give me enough peanut sauce to enjoy my peanut sauce dish? That's pretty unforgivable. This is the second time....I think I'm going to break up with him.

Speaking of second many chances do you give a teenager who forgets something on the counter once a month? This months neglected food: Leftover ham from easter dinner. ALL the leftover ham. The milk has fallen victim MANY times to this tragic event.

I've given up the idea of having a plasma tv (courtesy of my saved credit card points) and a connection to that new wonderful tv to my computer. It was getting to be such a process...and I'm not hating watching tv primarily on my 28inch computer monitor. I so rarely ever just sit and WATCH tv anyway - I have to be doing something else...lately, I've been crocheting a scarf. Right, in the summer - but I figured it might take me months to finish. However, I'm half done now! In a week!!! It's not straight...and it's not perfect but whatever. It's my first yarn project I'm going to actually finish since 1992.

We had the most beautiful day the other day. I walked to the grocery store, 1.7 miles, because I had made some delicious guacamole and forgot to buy chips. I took my camera along and found some pretty flowers on the walk. If I could just walk all over and take pictures for a living, I'd quit my job tomorrow.

Early Spring Gardening Fun!

I have been really behind on blogging about gardening - I fully intended to do a review of my class each week...and forgot. And now it's been awhile, the class is over, and I have to move on.....but I'll just say that the Comprehensive Organic Gardening class I took was AMAZING!! If you have a local tilth society, check them out-they have all kinds of classes to help you.
And now that I took my COG class, I am a certified organic gardener (or at least I received a certificate).

I'm hoping that the skills I learned in this class will help me grow food and save a few bucks on fresh veggies, but also to have food on our table that is free of chemicals, genetic modifications and as safe as possible. AND gardening is such great exercise. I'm actually surprised how much I am loving being out in my garden. I think it helps that I actually feel like I have a clue what I'm doing, whereas last year I was more like-let me throw some random seeds out in the dirt and maybe water it when I'm outside for something else.

One class was spent on seedlings and they showed us how to make biodegradable planters from newspaper! I had no idea you could do this, but I will be repeating in the very near future - why pay for planters ever??
You can use a tuna can and a tomato paste can to make these - I'll demonstrate later this month.
One of the things I've always wanted to do was grow from seed. It's cheaper than buying starts, but it does take up some space. It's exciting to watch your plants grow, but even more so when you know that you created it from a tiny seed. One of the key things I learned about growing from seed is that you want to grow strong roots - so I have a heating pad under the tray to keep the soil temperature raised a few degrees, and a desk lamp with a fluorescent light to act as my sunshine, since new seedlings like 8 hours of sun a day and there's just no way they will get that through my glass window (and we don't get 8 hours of sun in the Pacific NW right now anyway).
Note the yogurt containers - and here I've been throwing these away all this time??
We toured the farm where people rent garden spaces and saw a TON of different ways to plant. This one was one of my favorites:
They had round sectioned off areas for their garden plot. They are easy to grow specific things in each rounder and you can easily reach all the way across each bed, and there is plenty of walkway. The burlap bag covers are a great way to keep your soil warm - I've got them on my beds now-you should too!

Another interesting way to garden, if you don't have a lot of space to devote and don't want to have to do a lot of work-is hay bale gardening. You just add a fat layer of compost material on the top of a hale bale - and plant your seeds! DONE! The hay bale breaks down and you can either add another layer of compost and replant or use the leftover hay as compost for other areas. It's really interesting - fun for kids and if you don't want to have to squat down to garden all the time, this is great.
We saw purple broccoli growing in the children's garden that they had planted last fall! It grew all winter long and then was just getting closer to harvesting time. I'm definitely going to try over-winter gardening this year!
One plot had potato sections set up - you have this plastic material (no chemicals though!) that you just wrap around a blocked off plot, fill it with dirt, plant a couple potatoes and then leave it all summer. At the end of the summer, you just pull back the plastic material, the dirt falls out....and so do a gazillion potatoes!!! And you keep them in a cool dark place and enjoy all winter. LOVE this idea. I'm not doing it this year...maybe next though.

If you haven't started yet - you should be getting your garden ready!

Here's one of my beds - I didn't know I was supposed to cover the soil all winter, so unfortunately it has been exposed to the elements. It was full of a bunch of randomness, so I spent about 2 hours cleaning out the two beds and getting them a bit more ready.
Once you get your dirt cleaned up and broken up a bit (tilling isn't really necessary!) - you can add your fresh and wonderful organic compost:
Add a good 3-6 inches for a good layer. I kept mine in a lump in the middle as I'm not planning on planting anywhere near the edge of the raised bed. It was already in place when I moved in and I'm not sure if the wood is untreated/safe.

And then once I got the compost down, mixed in some organic veggie fertilizer, I covered it all up so it wouldn't be exposed to the elements. I used a hoop frame (cost about $15 for materials) for one bed and burlap bags for the other (free from the local coffee grinder!). The covers will keep the soil warmer by at least two degrees, maybe up to four! Four degrees will make a big difference to your seedlings!

I'm only gardening for harvest in half of the bed on the left. There's a small section to the right of the hoop frame that also has a burlap bag cover and I excluded it from the frame for a few reasons.
The areas where I'm not planning on harvesting food, I am planting flowers-to attract the pollinators, and peas, which do a great job of breaking up the soil with their root system and are very low maintenance. They will help provide nutrients to the soil area I'm not "using" so that when I do want to plant there at the end of summer, the soil will be healthy.

K, there you have it .... go start gardening!

Sundays In My City: Walk on the Wild Side

After a Saturday night games night where I ate about 17 pounds of homemade guacamole, and waking this morning to hear that there was going to be no rain for the first time in months, I decided I needed to hit the road and go for a nice, long walk. And because I'm lazy unmotivated, I knew that if I decided to just walk across town like I originally planned, I would just turn back what I needed was to be dropped off somewhere far from home and forced to walk home. Andrew was getting ready to leave for work so I joined him in his 12 minutes ride and ended up on my feet, far from home, as planned.

I just bought a new zoom lens for my camera, so I had to bring along my lovely canon, you never know when something fabulous will appear.

My walk was a little incline, a lot of decline, and a fair amount of flat walking. The total distance ended up being 3.699 miles, which was a great distance for a Sunday morning. If you ever walk for fun, you MUST check out Gmaps Pedometer. Very helpful! You can map every bit of your walk. Like when you have to cross over a freeway overpass and you walk towards it and then realize you are on the wrong side of the street from the sidewalk, so you have to backtrack and go back to the crosswalk.

The first thing I realized is that this was a really bad idea. There's about a mile long period on the path where there is no sidewalk and at one point, I was actually walking in a ditch because the traffic was just too much and I was creating a traffic hazard. When Andrew was learning to drive, we called this stretch of road: The Challenge Route. It's curvy, there's no shoulder, people go way too fast and at night, it's super dark. I should have remembered these issues....but I was just excited to get walkin'....until I was fearing for my life for a mile...but it made me walk faster, so I guess that's good.

Here's a pic from part of the road where there is a fair amount of shoulder, but shows how non-pedestrian-friendly this street is:
This mailbox is newer - there's an old broken one in the ditch behind it. If you're replacing your mailbox, why would you leave the old one?? No good.
I saw this monster moth fluttering at high speeds in the grass in front of me and took a sec to try out my new lens. I love how close I can get from so far!!

There's a small park off the main road where I found a field of these white flowers with three-petals. I don't think I've ever seen this kind before....they are probably something really rare. Maybe a new flower I just discovered...

This was the view once I left the scary no-sidewalk portion of the walk. Yay for sidewalks!
Note the house on the left and prepare for a rant.
That is the entrance to where the more affluent families live (including some of our professional basketball players), and they expanded the construction of houses right up to the road, where they built these monstrous houses that have no privacy and limited parking. They are HUGE houses built close together and right up on the edge of the street so there is no yard and they all seem to have an insane amount of windows...

According to Zillow, another favorite website, this particular house was listed for sale a few years ago for a million dollars. Seriously...a million dollars-for a house full of windows that is on a corner of a busy street and has about 20 feet from the neighboring house-which also has a ton of windows. So you have all this great potential for wonderful natural lighting, but if you open your blinds, your view is your neighbors living room/kitchen/bedrooms or a busy main road. Puke. Excessiveness without intelligence - a sad aspect of our society (and my newest favorite phrase).

Here's a closer view of the window dilemma:
Wouldn't this be great up on a hillside on a 4 acre plot of land that overlooks some natural wildlife? Perfect, right??

Anyway...walking on...

The high school was on my path and it has a long row of these beautiful pink trees that line the road:

I LOVE LOVE LOVE this porch. I love the pillars, with the half bricks, and I ultra-love the striped look. I drive by this house at least once a week and wish I could move this porch to my house. LOVE it.

I love moss. I know some people don't, and maybe there is a reason for it...but I love the look of it. When my parents came to visit one time, my dad was in the backyard and said to me: you can buy some moss killer for that area, you just sprinkle it on and it will kill it overnight. And I replied: do I need to kill it?? I like it. And he just laughed at me, so I'm not sure what the answer is - but until I find a reason why it's bad, I just enjoy it growing around the backyard tree. I passed by this retaining wall covered with moss - love it. Don't love how the picture turned out, but love the moss.

So that was my Sunday in my City - thanks for following along!

To explore other cities, click on the link below:

Unknown Mami

Walk MS 2011 - The Very Least We Can Do

Last Saturday, I participated in a 5K walk to bring awareness to the need for a cure for Multiple Sclerosis at the Portland MS Walk 2010. I think there were about 2,999 others with me who dedicated their Saturday morning to show their support. It's really an amazing feeling to come together with a group and have individuals who deal with a certain issue see that they are not alone.

My friend Alison coordinated our team: F$*% MS. Her dad has had MS for 20 years now, not a mild case of it, but a severe case which came on quickly after diagnosis. Alison talks about her dad and you would believe her that he has earned the title of Best Dad Of All Time Ever. Alison and her family have had many occasions in a cold and sterile hospital room where they were told to say goodbye to her dad - yet he held strong, and he's still here, still saying eff you MS, showing his love to his children and wife. He's still here - waiting for a cure.

We walked in his honor, and we walked to show our support to others who live with this really shitty illness, we walked to be strong for those out there who can't, we walked because not everyone gets the privilege to do so, we walked to make a point - that there is this debilitating disease in our society that affects so many, but gets too little attention. We need a cure for MS.

We walked as a team to say Eff You MS!! Our little team raised over $2000.00 to go towards finding a cure. I hope that something can be done in my lifetime to just make this go away...MS is useless and nasty. It affects too many, yet you don't hear about it as much as you should for all the lives it touches. Eff you MS...Eff you.

The weather held out for us - no rain in Oregon in April is a rarity. We had a great walk surrounded by wonderful people who came together for a common cause on a cloudy morning. We walked, not because we had to - but because we needed to.

Awesome drum & flag group that led us 4 blocks to the waterfront.
Taking over the city blocks!

Costumes were encouraged. Loved the caped crusaders!

Our mascot: the lovely Rosie

The royalty that walked - in honor of their mom. They had to carry their real crown in a little case, while wearing the fake ones.
Note the walkers covering the bridge path ahead of us!

And the walkers covering the bridge path behind us!

We walked for you, Billy Renz!!!

This made my heart hurt a little.
I wanted to hug this woman.

Team F$*% MS!

These guys didn't walk - but a lot of us stopped to watch the cuteness of the baby geese!!

The finish line!!! Lined with buzzers and clappers and a sea of green volunteer shirts - it was great to accomplish this on an otherwise quiet morning.

One final thought: EFF YOU MS.

If you'd like more information or want to donate towards a cure, check out the MS Society. And cross your fingers.

Weekend Wrap Up: Andrew Sings! We are Famous! Wild Animals All Around Me!

Andrew is in a men's choral group, an a Capella, doo-wap type, and they just had their first public performance at the high school spring choir concert.

I asked Andrew if he was doing a solo at the choir concert and he told me imagine my delight and surprise when I got there and found that he is singing lead on one of the choral groups two songs!! These songs are their feature songs, so will be the ones they sing at our local festivals, including one in front of 10,000 people in June!! And it's MY baby boy singing the lead on the first song!!!!! My heart aches with love for him. Check him out and see if your heart doesn't feel happier from hearing him sing. Keep in mind this is their first time, so they aren't 100% yet, but they are REALLY amazing!!!

I visited our local organic gardening store for some compost on Friday and was walking by a car that had a goat in the front seat. Nothing weird about that, right?
Friday night, we were the guests at the Portland Trailblazers game, and during the first timeout, they flashed some pics of us volunteering up on the jumbo tron and then the camera panned to us and we waved and smiled, and held up signs to promote volunteering. The announcer talked about our dedication to service and called us honored guests and thanked us for our service. The people around us thought it was cool that we were sitting near them - I think they were too intimidated to ask for autographs. The drunk girls in front of us thought it was great that they were also on the jumbo tron and screamed and jumped around a bit. I don't think they heard anything at all that was going on-they just looked up and saw the tops of their heads on the big picture and went nuts. They were fun.
It was a REALLY good game - we played the LA Lakers, and for some reason, Portland and Los Angeles are strong enemies in basketball so this was the best possible game we could have gone to, there was a lot of energy, a lot of emotion.
Being guests at the club level means FREE FOOD!!!! I have just a tiny bit of shame in saying that we came home with a handful of candy bars....the novelty of the free candy is hard to resist. Note that Andrew wore his USC shirt...not thinking about how USC is located in Los Angeles. Oops!

These are the signs we held up while on the jumbo tron. I take every opportunity possible to promote volunteering, but really, we were being honored for volunteering so it just made sense to share the message. You can't tell from the photo, but these signs took hours to make, professional quality really, and are in our teams colors-red & black.

This last week at my office, we have had a special visitor. Our office building is called 3CP, based off the address (please don't stalk me) and our friend is called the 3CP coyote. I walked out of the building and was about 6 feet from him, but my friend down the hall from me had him following her to her car the other day, within 2 feet of her! There are about 3 of them, but we have only seen one prominently this past week. He even has a twitter account!

Look close - here he is saying goodbye to me at the end of my day.
Taken from my car - you would think I would have put the window down, right?
This was a great weekend - I also had the MS Walk on Saturday morning, which I'll post about separate, and got some great gardening done. I read a book and had lots of down time to relax and just enjoy livin the good life!  Hope you all had a great one too!

Here, Take My Teeth for Your Collection

Somewhere in this house is a little wooden box with a sliding door. It fits in the palm of your hand and just looks like a piece of decorative wood, until you slide it open and you find....teeth. This is totally normal, right?

When Andrew was about six, our lovely cat Tasha had to have her molars pulled. We came home one day and found that one of her fangs was sideways, poking out, a bloody mess. So we rushed her to the vet and found that it was rotten and so was the other, so the vet pulled them both. Being a six-year old boy, Andrew thought these were really cool to see. So we kept them in this little wooden box, out of sight and out of mind.

And then when Andrew was about seven, I had my wisdom teeth pulled. I was very fortunate, given my high-anxiety of all things dental, and they all four just popped right out. Andrew told me beforehand that he wanted to see them, so I had the nurse put them in a little packet and I brought them home...and he put them in the box with Tasha's teeth.

We have a shark tooth that he was given at some point and something else...I'm not sure where the box is at present, or I would give you a better inventory.

Today - we have some new teeth for the collection.

Andrew's wisdom teeth were due to come out this month. He had an appt scheduled for Friday the 15th and he was irritated with me because he didn't want a Friday appt: "it will ruin my entire weekend!"  But then he got accepted to USC and they have a reception in our city for all local future-USC Trojans on the 16th and I felt that it wouldn't be best to potentially have him swollen and in pain when he meets his future classmates, so I moved it. To the next Friday.

And he was irritated with me again. He wanted me to make an appt for him on a Tuesday or Wednesday. But I refused...Friday it was going to be and that was that!

Until about 4am this morning when I was awoken by Andrew digging in my bathroom medicine cabinet looking for advil/ibuprofin for this horrible tooth pain he was having. We actually lost our bottle of ibuprofin about a month ago and since I suck at life sometimes, I never found it or bought another...and poor Andrew was left to suffer. I evenutally found some in my work bag-yay mom of the year-but there wasn't a lot of sleep happening this morning for poor achy Andrew.

So I called the dentist first thing, made him an appointment for after school...but then he didn't make it an hour into classes before he was texting me that he was in too much pain to wait. I was able to bump up the appointment to 1130. And at 1135, Andrew called and said they were going to take out his wisdom teeth right now.

And just like he wanted - he got his wisdom teeth pulled today-a Wednesday. AND just like his lucky mom - they popped right out and they called me to come get him 15 minutes after they started!!! We cashed in some serious karma points at the dentist!

They gave him some pain pills and I gave him one soon after we got home and had put something soft in his belly, but that was that. He's had no pain, he's not swollen -NOTHING. Which is great since he has a choir concert tomorrow night and his men's choral group is performing for the first time.

Could he be any luckier?? I don't know how....but I'm really thankful that he is!!!!

Hey...Remember My Birthday? Me Neither.

I realized the other day that I never posted my birthday follow up post to share my success story for my annual shampoo drive.

Last year was my first time having a drive for my birthday and I got 225 bottles to donate. This year, I set my goal at 200, and I got 192. And I am HAPPY with 192.

With the help of my wonderful friends and co-workers, I was able to donate 192 bottles of shampoo/conditioner/body wash to local needy families. Once upon a time, I was really desperately poor and I had the help of a number of people numerous times, and just receiving some household product that you otherwise have to buy is a really nice treat. It may have only saved me a couple bucks, but it's just NICE to get something that you otherwise would have to buy. So I helped about 90 families have a nice surprise for the month of March (when I delivered).

Do you have any idea what 192 bottles look like when you line them up around your house? No? Well, here you go - check out my home video that I made especially for you:

AND Happy Birthday to my Dad!

He lies three hours north and we werent' able to be with him, but I celebrated for him by prepping my garden bed, hosting a volunteer event, making a yummy dinner, and taking a hot bath. Happy Birthday Dad!


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