Thursday, June 28, 2007

Ain't no sunshine

So, my garden is proving to be an interesting experience this summer. It was great fun to paint the boxes with Dad, and plant them on Mother's Day with both my parents. I love being able to see the boxes from my window, but the porch is proving to be an unsuitable place to sustain a garden.

Although the lettuce started sprouting up within two weeks, it has not lived up to that early promise. I guess I really don't have enough sun for it. The leaves aren't any bigger than those in the picture. I had to cut more than half a dozen to have lettuce on my burger!! A salad is pretty much out of the question. (But look at the cute little tags I painted!)

The pepper plant certainly looks healthy enough, which is deceiving. Don't be fooled!! It has lots of blossoms on it, that's true. But as soon as the flower falls off and the actual fruit starts growing in behind it, the whole thing FALLS OFF THE PLANT. It's happened three times already!! This does not bode well for my overall pepper harvest. All of the forks in the branches are turning black, which seems like a bad color for plants to be. Are there any pepper plant diseases I should know about??

The tomato plants are compensating for the lack of sun by growing three feet tall so they can reach the sun, which makes me think they're as determined as I am for them to actually amount to something. There are several clusters of tomatoes on the plant, and a lot of blossoms near the top. The plants (even though they're staked) blew over in the storms last week, so I tied them to the porch railing. Heh, just TRY to blow over now, stupid plants!! Good thing I have all that ribbon!

The carrots were planted in rows, but are all sprouting up in a big clusterfuck, and again don't seem to be growing very big. I've tried thinning them, but I don't know if it helped much. I guess I need to get more aggressive with them. The chives and tarragon are doing great, but of course how much of those can you really use at one time?

The cucumbers may end up being the stars of the garden!! I planted a row all along the back of one of the boxes, with a trellis behind them to climb, which they are doing quite happily. Now I just need to find some recipes that use cucumbers...pasta salads, anyone?

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

GoldieLou and the three dogs

Yesterday was one of those bad days at the office, and I was in need of some dog-time. BUT I don’t get out until 5:30, and that’s when dog-walking ends!! So I called the HSCC anyway, and to my delight, I could get there in time for “evening TLC” from 5:30-6pm!!

When I arrived they sent me right into Camp Take-me-home to visit with whichever dog I wanted.
I started with Jake, the one I had walked a couple weeks ago. But he seemed really tired, and didn't really seem to want company. Austin was barking and jumping around, so I went to see him, but he was a little too high-energy for me. He managed to wriggle out of his collar, and started running around the room...not good. I finally lured him back into his kennel room and got his collar back on, and decided I needed someone a little more low-key.

Then I found Annabelle. She’s a sweet little hound mix who couldn’t stop kissing me!! After a few minutes of licking my face, she settled down and snuggled up on my lap for some quality petting and head-scratching time until they had to kick me out at 6 for closing. I think I've found a new best friend. I told her I would do my best to get in my five hours of dog-walking so that I could take her home for a paw-jama party soon! She sealed the deal by licking my face again (at least, I assume that meant she approves).

What a perfect way to end the day – now that I know about evening TLC, I’m going to do it as often as possible.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Life takes...what, exactly?

I love the current "Life takes faster money; life takes Visa" campaign.

It's brightly-colored, visually pleasing, and fast-paced! There are new little things to notice each time! The music is peppy!

And at the same time, I hate it. It's reinforcing the idea that we always need to be moving faster, that human interaction is getting in our way. And frankly, I don't want to hear it.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

My new arrivals

Awww, everyone loves a new baby!

Their first night in their new home!!

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Lou's Bicycle

When the Burlington snow melted and the bike lanes were once again clear and visible, I decided it was time to try biking to work. I had even stronger motivation when my beloved little car had to go in for some work overnight. It took a little prodding (Ithaca beer), but Dougy reattached the front tire he had for some reason removed while my bike was housed in the guys' garage over the winter, and I was on my way! The rest is history...

There are lots of sites touting the many benefits of biking. Why do I do it? The most immediate benefit I get is improved mood. Biking to work is such a better start to the day than driving. It definitely takes a little more work (packing business clothes to change into, leaving early enough to be changed in time for morning production meetings), but that is more than outweighed by the boost it provides. There's also the smug satisfaction of it all...but I digress!

Second, there's that whole "environmentalist" thing. As you know, I love counting things, so I've kept track of how many miles of driving I've avoided. To date, I have biked 126.5 miles I would have otherwise had to drive. Each mile biked keeps about 3.75lbs of pollutants out of the atmosphere. That means I've avoided 474.38 POUNDS of air pollution.

Third there's the money factor. Gas prices are ridiculous. The less I have to fill up, the better. Originally my goal was to bike at least one day a week, but it's turning into a lot more - I biked every day last week! My new goal is to save an entire tank of gas (about 325mi) over the course of the summer.

Finally, there are the personal health benefits. Ski season kept me in pretty good shape all winter, but playing with puppies every other week is no suitable replacement workout plan. I've improved my commute time from 30min to 15, my slow stretches are less slow, hills offer less resistance, and I weave through traffic like a well-balanced pro (haha, that last one is a lie - but I'm better than I used to be).

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
My parents' house is 80 miles away in NH. Supposing I travel at an average 10mph, that's an 8-hour ride. Add water/food/bathroom breaks, that's 9-10 hours. Then I'd have to repeat the trip back the following day. Think I can do it??

GOAL: Bike from my house in Burlington to my parents' house in NH

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Paw-jama Party

Warmer weather has finally arrived in northern VT. With it comes an unexpected complication for me. Walking around Burlington has become like having that dream where everyone around me has what I want but can't have. I try not to be jealous of what seemingly every person I pass is proudly parading up and down Church Street. They've all got a best pal with a beautiful coat and a wet nose. I'm talking, of course, about dogs.

Dogs have become one of my new obsessions. I see them everywhere, but I just can't have one!! And with good reason. First of all, I live in a one-room apartment. Second, I don't exactly have an abundance of disposable income. Third, I work all day all week in a non-dog friendly office. But I must be satiated. So I found a way; I'm a problem-solver. I volunteer as a dog walker for the Humane Society of Chittenden County. It's less than a mile from my office, so when I can, I take my lunch hour to go play with the dogs.

The ultimate goal is to host a paw-jama party, aka foster a dog for a weekend. A party host is called in when a dog needs time away from the kennel, or the staff wants to see how a dog will react in a home setting. Or if a qualified host just wants a dog for the weekend, she can call and see if there's a dog available. I want to find a summer hiking buddy. But to become qualified, I first have to log in five hours of dog-walking.

This is Jake, we hung out together a week ago. It was a really hot day, so we didn't go too far. It was really more of a wander than a walk. So far I've got a grand total of 15min of dog-walking. Between the weather and my workload, I don't often take lunch breaks, so it's been kind of hard to bank much time. If all of my training time counted toward the 5hrs though, I'd be half done!

There are tons of volunteer opportunities at the Humane Society, from dog-walking to cat socialization to keeping a garden for the little critters. If you're in a similar dog love limbo as me, find your local chapter and volunteer your time! Probably the most mutually rewarding volunteering option out there.

Monday, June 4, 2007

"A Little Better" is a start

Check out this site -

Quite possibly the most fun site I've found in a while. It's a beautifully made marketing site for BP to promote their new-found environmental conscience. Too bad my phone doesn't support their free ringtones. At least I can have their screen savers, and play Gas Mania. Some of the copy gets a little redundant (we GET it, it's a little better!!), but overall, worth a read-through.

Also check out

There's a ton of information on BP's efforts to be more sustainable. They acknowledge the fact that this station (which really exists in Los Angeles at the corner of Olympic and Robertson) is not a miracle answer from the future, it's a station for today that's a little better than the status quo stations. Check out how each part of the station was constructed, keeping "green" in mind (although they ARE still pumping gasoline...). Solar energy, green roof, Low-VOC paint, 60% post-consumed aluminum to construct the sinks, windows made from post-consumer recycled glass. I guess I can concede that until we stop using cars, we might as well have sustainabily-constructed stations.

As well, they present us with "The Green Curve," a sustainability spectrum that we're all on somewhere. There's a quiz you can take, and several categorized lists (Work, Travel, Car, etc) of pointers to live a more sustainable lifestyle. It's really simple stuff, like using a mug at the office instead of a Styrofoam cup, telecommuting, carpooling, etc. Worth a look, if you're wondering where to start!!

Get rid of it!

I have a confession to make. Those of you who know me at all will find this as no surprise.

I love saving stuff.

I have stuff of all kinds that I've saved for YEARS - fabric, ribbon, school notes, clothes, children's games, concert tickets, magazines - this list could go on forever. You get the idea, I'm a packrat. I mean, you just never know when you're going to need that article in SKI Magazine from 3 years ago, or your junior prom gown, am I right? And to be fair, I have actually worn that dress for multiple occasions all through college. However, that's only one of the several formal gowns I have socked away, that I wore and loved for one night, and haven't touched since. And the odds of needing my busted-up old cell phone any time in the future? Pretty slim.

Enter Martha Stewart

As a media buyer, I get information all the time from publications wanting a piece of our ad budgets. Were you aware that Martha has a whole family of magazine titles under her belt? The list includeds of course the classic Martha Stewart Living, but also body+soul, Weddings Magazine, Everyday Food, and the newest addition, Blueprint. Somehow, I found myself on the Blueprint website. And somehow, I found the magical list, 100 Reasons To Get Rid of It.

Okay Martha, you crafty genius, I'll bite. Can you REALLY provide me with one hundred reasons to get rid of my prized collections and stock piles? Well I'm here to tell you YES. Yes she can.

This list is pretty fantastic. It's broken up into segments of 5-8 reasons/links with categories such as "Because You Have Too Much Stuff" ( true), "Because Someone Else Needs It" (that old cell phone? I donated it to Women Helping Battered Women here in VT. The dresses? Operation Fairy Dust. Also check out One Warm Coat and Dress for Success for those outgrown clothes), "Because It Will Make Your Life Better" (Around 23% of people pay late fees on bills they cannot find), "Because It's Old/Expired" (I had more bath products than any one person could ever use up, many of which were past their prime), and finally, "Just Because: What's the worst that can happen if you throw it out?"

These days, I love getting rid of stuff. Every time I visit my folks' house, I comb through and pick out more clothes, childhood games, etc to give away. Last week I posted our entire porcelain doll collection on eBay. These are things that are just cluttering up my space! I need to let go, I need to GET RID OF IT!!

Take a look at this list, when you have a second. I bet there are a few things in your closet that you could stand to get rid of, too.