Sunday, April 25, 2010


I ran 5 miles this morning on a multi-use trail here in Meadville, Ernst Trail.  I had been in a funk and was mainly running and thinking about pointless things that were making me feel even worse and grumpier.  I ran and ran... I passed only 2 guys, but it was nearly raining and threatening storms, so I don't really blame people for staying in.  I like running in the damp green-ness of spring, personally, but whatever floats your boat.

Anyway, I was moderately enjoying the scenery, the birds, the streams, the moss, the trees, the creek, and was on my way back (at about mile 4), and there he was!  An orange brightness on the middle of the path!  A red EFT
(This is not the one I saw, I generally don't run with my camera)

I picked him up, ooed over him for a moment or three, safety transported him to the side of the trail where he wouldn't come to harm by an oblivious walker or biker, and continued on my run, delighted.  I do really have a thing for reptiles and amphibians.  I wanted to be a herpetologist when I was little.  Really.  Don't ask my husband about our one futile late May bike ride on a different trail where I had to stop every 15-20 feet to remove every red eft in harms way that I saw on the trail.  We didn't make his estimated time, that's for sure.

 The rest of my run consisted, instead of me being gloomy about current events, being excited at the prospect of perhaps creating some kind of habitat in my back yard for red-efts and the Eastern Newt in general.  Or maybe a breeding program.  Or at least a minimal terrarium in the living room.  The possibilities are endless!  About a half mile before my run was finished, I found and moved yet one more red eft.  I love rainy spring days!  I love life!  I love EFTS!!

I felt productive when I got home, and after a few rain showers, got outside and removed an invasive weed species (wild garlic mustard - ack!) from an area of my garden that it was taking over, and weeded and sorted through my front garden a bit too.  I now feel better and will go re-heat the tea that I made 3 hours ago and just remembered is sitting on the counter!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Vet appointments and mysterious county parks

So yesterday was Zoe's vaccine update appointment.  She generally is very good about going to the vet, but she also knows it means her toenails will get painfully trimmed.  I used to trim them myself, but after having the vet do it once... she will not let me touch her feet without pulling, crying, and sometimes angrily curling her lip in ferociousness.  We got all her shots done, with baby in tow. 

"Zoe up high to the sky!" The boy exclaims as Zoe is raised up on the platform.  "Zoe Medicine."  He says as the Veterinarian gives her her shots.  I think the vet was as impressed by the baby's good behavior as Zoe's.  They then took Zoe away to trim her nails.  She cried and yelped in the next room, which breaks my heart, but she recovers from pretty fast.  And at least she's not grumpy at me.  I got her a doggy rawhide doughnut, which didn't interest her much on the way home, but once we got here, she carried it around, attempting to hide it.

I didn't let her take it outside.  But I did later find her standing on the couch hiding it under the throw pillows. 
Today I packed the kiddo and the pup in the car to look for a park where I will be running my next 5k in a couple weeks.  Two Mile Run County park, near Franklin.  I seriously never knew this place existed.  It's not near any really main roads, and it's just kind of a lake in a valley.  I felt like when I drove up to this place today it just kinda poofed into existence.  Except for the shoddy playground equipment.  Shoddy in a perfectly acceptable way.  Well worn.
This place has camping areas, paddle boats, swimming, hiking, horseback riding(though I'm pretty sure you have to provide your own horse), mountain biking trail, and a ton of picnic pavilions.  And I NEVER KNEW!  I will be hiking/running this place soon.
View down to the beach from one of the picnic pavilion/playground areas.
He played in and out of this "house" for quite a while when zoe and I were resting.  There was a freak 3-minute rain shower where we had to pelt into the car, but then we came out and played some more.
Hey you!
Who can resist this sandy type dirt for playing in.
This is my crow friend who comes to the trees outside our home office window everyday when I'm at the computer, spends a few minutes breaking twigs off the tree, flies off to build a nest, then comes back and does it again.  I caught a picture... but really a still photo doesn't do justice to the antics of this bird.  I guess he/she wants flexible twigs, not the flimsy ones from the ground.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Run run run.

It's been a weekend and early week full of running around.  Mostly literally.  I ran a 5k on Saturday in Erie, at Presque Isle, then hiked 2.5 miles on Sunday (in the rain), then yesterday I ran 3 miles over lunch, put some rocks into the lawn in the afternoon, and this morning I was up and running early, doing about 2 miles on the treadmill.  I'm trying to find a better routine to settle into, so I know I can find some time to run/exercise during the day without worrying about disrupting the baby or the hubby or the dog.  Since my $10 garage sale jogging stroller died, my options are decidedly more limited.
The new stepping stone walk I'm working on putting in between the raised beds.  I think i want to get about 5-7 more stones.  That might be tomorrow's project.
This child needs a haircut.  I just trimmed the dog, so when he wakes up from his nap, look out.
This morning's hike.  Everything is budding and blooming.
Wood anemones.
Damp landscape from Sunday's hike.  Pretty beat today, but might still try to get over and buy some more pavers for my walk, or might strip wallpaper... or might nap!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010


They are my favorite flower.  I've found them growing wild in the wet-land parts of the Erie National Wildlife Refuge, but I've finally gotten a bunch of them to make a comfy home in the edge of my lawn near the compost pile.  They look lovely this year, and are spreading like mad, which is exactly what I wanted.  I wanted to have them in my wedding bouquet... but it was august.  I've since found them still in bloom in the swampiest areas of ENWR in August... but hindsight is better than foresight, as they say... Anyway, I'll enjoy the tiny blue blooms for as long as they'll last in my yard...
Also made the rounds to the raised beds, and I have tiny lettuce sprouts starting!
The sprouts are from a mesclun mix I tossed around part of the bed... Mmm soon we will have mixed greens.  My other lettuce is sprouting as well, but no sign of the spinach.  I'm hoping to see them peeping any day now.  I will get the other lettuce planted this weekend probably, and transplant some of my seedlings that are starting to get a bit leggy.  I've been shuttling them in and out every day and night trying to harden them off, and I think they're pretty much there.  They probably just want to spread out their roots at this point.
The Bleeding Heart I got from my mom last fall is doing wonderfully.  I didn't think it would be blooming this soon, but the protected area in the ivy bed seems to be perfect for it.  I'm not sure how long it will bloom for, but i'm thinking of splitting it at the end of the season and putting a couple more around in the back yard for a more forest-garden feel, near my ferns and Ivy back there.
I have no idea what this is.  If anyone knows, tell me.  I bought it at a garage sale last year and it's doing great as well.   But again, no clue.
This is a flowering shrub in the front yard.   Again, no idea.  But very pretty.  I'm happy with how this photo came out as well.
And finally, a new baking toy came for me today!
Mmmm graduated sized cookie/biscut cutters.  I know.  EXCITING.  I can't wait to make all sorts of variously circular things with these.... The wonders will never CEASE!

Another Place I need to make sure I get to...

This place calls to me.  Antelope Valley Poppy Reserve.  Found these images online.
I would be just like Dorothy and her friends in the Wizard of Oz, and run through the field until I got too sleepy and just... lay down and let myself be covered in orange poppies and sleep... sleep... sleep...

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Frustration with macro and powerwashing.

I really would like a macro lens for my camera.  Or something that makes my camera take ok macro shots without me spending $500 plus dollars that I currently have sunk into other projects (like the repainting of our house, but more on that later).
This one came out... ok.  But my 300-zoom lens would NOT for the life of it focus on the purple grape hyacinth.  It's that fuzzy purple thing in the corner.

This one isn't in the realm of macro that I would like.  Someday.  Someday I will conquer this macro thing!  When I have more money and time to invest.  But!  The painters came to my house today.  And power-washed EVERYTHING!  The house is now minus a bunch of chipping paint, and smells clean and also damp.  And somewhat bleachy.  I hope they didn't use bleach near the plants.  At least it'll keep the bugs off.
Nice and torn up and almost ready for a fresh coat of paint.  Woo!  The guys said the house needs to dry for a while, so hopefully painting will start next week.  Hoping to get out for a nice walk with the baby and the dog tomorrow and get some more flower photos in.  Some of those spring flowers are ephemeral, and there are some I want to photograph before they're gone.

Friday, April 9, 2010


Yes.  In April.  You get used to this sort of thing.  I don't mind it, really.  I'd much rather snow than frost.
And the snow looks so pretty against all my flowers that are coming up.  I can't believe my bleeding heart is flowering so soon.  But it's pretty... I should go check my Forget-me-nots later.

Also, a couple of guys in my house are going to be really happy.  The younger one more so, but the older one too.  Because they get to play with this!
We bought the baby a train table, after looking into if it would be more economical to build one ourselves, or just get one.  This was inexpensive and went together in about 2 minutes.  Literally.  It's the Kid Craft Train Table, ordered from Amazon, and the table top itself is reversible.  It's solid green on one side and has a road and trees and water on the other.  The baby is smitten.
I think this will keep him occupied until he can't stand up anymore... Now I just need to decide if I'm going to move the room around at all to give him more space to maneuver...

Thursday, April 8, 2010

More Odd Shoes

So today I really got into my spring cleaning.  I cleaned and dusted the entire downstairs.  And I washed the floors.  With the help of THESE!
Hubby got these for me a few years ago. Not because I love to clean, but because I love the movie Amelie, and these floor-scrubbing mop shoes make me think of the movie when the mother is cleaning the floor with her feet.  I love that movie.  And I love these slippers.  They make me not get foot prints on the floors I'm scrubbing, and I can get some muscular leg-action in for those hard to clean spots.  They're crazy, but they really work!  Oh, and the bottoms come off so you can just pop them in the washing machine.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

To swing set, or not to swing set....

So my husband and I were recently gifted some money, with a request; buy the baby a swing set.  Now both my husband and I are in conflict about such a purchase.

Growing up, I had a swing set.  It was metal, and it was set up in kind of an ]--[-- pattern, with monkeybars, a slide, a couple of swings, rings and a bar. I think that was our second swing set, but I was too little to remember the first.  Anyway, my brother and I played on that swing set until it was dangerous.  Until the slide rusted off, and the thing rocked on the cement block foundation the metal legs were sunk into.  I remember spitting colored spit down the slide when we were eating candy or jawbreakers, inflicting all kinds of torments to stuffed animals, and learning to swing.

But we also lived in the country.  My parents would take us to other playgrounds at schools or in town, but more or less, we were confined to entertaining ourselves on our acre of land, or in the fields and farms surrounding it, which I think was a blessing.  We made up so many games that I think (at least in me, if you met my brother, I don't know what you'd think) built character.

So we live in "town."  We have 2 playgrounds within fairly easy walking distance, with nice swings, monkey bars, sandboxes, those horrible spring animals that I have nightmares about from when I was a child, and much more.  Will I promote some kind of idea that one should stay isolated and insular in ones' own yard by purchasing our own swing set?  Or will it bring me a sort of reprieve to get things done in the yard while the baby is playing happily on his own swing set?  Should I buy something very simple, just a slide and a couple of swings, or go with some elaborate (and expensive) wooden jungle gym so my child will be the envy of his friends?  What if we move? 

I know, I'm probably making this more complicated than it needs to be, but I like making an event of going to the playground with him, or meeting hubby at work then walking to one of the playgrounds.  He gets to interact with other kids he wouldn't normally be with, and play on things he doesn't get to much.

Anyone else have experience, opinions on the swing-set dilemma?

Let us start planting!

With spring moving right along at a speedy pace, I got out to Home Depot to get a bit more supplemental dirt to add to my beds, and get some of my lettuce started.  The baby helped me spread the dirt evenly before I planted the seeds.
He's such a good helper.  What a great day to be outside too. The flowering shrubs behind us were spreading a lovely scent over the backyard. 
 Spinach, Mescalin mix, and Lettuce in.  Wet the dirt down a bit to help the seeds start and keep the dirt from blowing away.  I decided, once the leafy greens were in, I'd wash the new car.
There's just something about washing a new car... getting to know how it looks and where the trouble spots might be... anyway... I got a lot done this morning, and am pretty happy.  May try for a run with the baby in the jogging stroller if the thunderstorms hold off today.

Monday, April 5, 2010


Finally got two truckloads of dirt for my raised bed today, thanks to my stepdad letting me borrow the truck. Woo!  Also, with the wonderful warm weather, everything is getting green!  Martin's Mulch in Cambridge Springs is where I picked up my loads of dirt.  The guy there was very nice (and easy on the eyes).
Now I just need to get some plants in there.
Zoe enjoying the warm weather.  And a stick.
Forsythia in bloom.
Grape Hyacinths coming up.
And a bunny!!  More planting tomorrow!

Friday, April 2, 2010

In which I build another raised bed.

So.  Last year I built a raised bed.  It came out great.  My stepdad helped a bunch and we used wood we found behind the shed that may have previously been a swingset or climbing wall or something... who knows.  Anyway, it took most of a day, a lot of hassle with digging and leveling and came out beautiful and I had zillions of tomatoes and squash and zucchini and cucumbers and it was good.

This year,  I found a link a while ago for making another raised bed.  I was determined I could do it myself.  The link is here.  I really love the Pioneer Woman's website... but anyway, the raised bed.  I dragged the baby with me to the nearby Home Depot.  I ventured inside with my list.  Found the correct length screws with the help of a sales guy (which I promptly put back and found the same size on a shelf above that didn't cost 3 more because they were green).  Did not find the right drill bit size with the chagrined help of another sales person (I told him I thought I had one at home so he wouldn't feel bad).  Then I ventured into the timber area.

There is a lot of different kinds of wood.  I know I needed 2x6s, 4 that were 8 feet long, and 4 that were 4 feet long.  That meant 6 2x6s, two of which were cut in half.  (I'm very good at math! ok not really).  So i found a guy, who picked out some boards and cut two of them and I loaded the others onto one of those weird long carts and with the baby's help got it out to the new car, which I had driven purely for the purpose to test out the shoving big things into it capacity.

 It worked.  
I hauled all the supplies out to the back yard while the baby followed me around, driving his trucks around.  We ate lunch, then I started.

 Not too shabby if I do say so myself.  I did learn a few things.
One - it is really hard to screw things in horizontally while you're alone.  Especially with a power drill.
Two - it is very easy to strip screw-driving bits, causing one to have to hand screw every !@#$* screw in by hand, resulting in blistered fingers.
Three - drill bits are VERY VERY hot after drilling into wood.
Four - look at the wood before you buy it to see how badly warped or bowed it is.
Five - Always, Always have a cute helper.
He kept telling me, "Good job, Mommy!"  Which really I think, made a difference in the quality of the final item.

So tomorrow, dirt so I can soon get my lettuce planted.  Whee!  Now off to find dinner.  I am starved after that workout.