Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

I Must Have Been Gone a Long Time….

May 14, 2013

because my garden is sooo overgrown and kind of broken. Well, after getting very busy, an ice storm or two, and the drought, and the heat and the drought and the heat. I must be crazy to try to garden again, and even crazier to try to make enough time to keep track of things here. Enough waffle, here’s what I did at the weekend:

Cleared out an area around the mailbox. Its roughly 250′ from the house so its a challenge to water, but I want a cheerful welcome when I come home and go get the mail. Besides, the mail box is kind of fugly so maybe a few flowers will distract attention from it.  Here’s my bare dirt and the first plants:

Mailbox Bed 052013

I have Indian Feather (pink), Lantana (pink/yellow), Mexican Marigold (yellow), Achillea (yellow), and Russian Sage (purple).  I added three bags of purchased dirt plus a wheelbarrow full of my own compost and now I’m laying out a soaker hose. (Wish me luck!)

 

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Third Resolution

November 23, 2010

SunsetNov2010

Now where was I?  First resolution is to get TKGA Masters Handknitting level I in the mail by year end, then continue to prioritize my knitting projects (you know, rather than starting projects and never finishing any?)  Second resolution is to take more care with my health, in particular my mental well-being.  My third resolution is to put my money house in order. 

I’m pretty sure that a dose of financial planning plus sustainable changes in my spending habits will not only help me achieve my long-term goals, but will contribute to my well-being in the short-term thereby contributing towards resolution #2 (double-dipping the benefits doubles my motivation!)

So what are my long-term goals?  I’d like to have enough resources to live in the home of my choosing and to not worry unduly about basics like eating and healthcare (I’m sure I have plenty of company).  Simple enough, except that if the track record for my family is anything to go by, my retirement fund will have to last me a loooong time – I anticipate checking out at 96 years old.  So I will try to continue generating an income after I retire from my corporate career:  I want to spend more time on my love of knitting, design and travel, and I want my supplemental retirement income to be generated from self-employed income.  The tricky part with this is, I may need funds upfront to invest in my business.  I guess my savings plan will need to consist of a source of income for my daily basics plus a fund to establish my business. 

For short-term financial sensibleness I did the usual listing of income and expenses, checked my insurance policies, and looked glumly over my 401K & Roth IRA and examined my credit card statements.  This has been an expensive year with multiple deductibles to pay for (hail storm in the Spring); a substantial contribution towards repairing the road we share with neighbours; son’s college tuition; and lowered income (tenant couldn’t pay the rent, husband’s reduced hours).  We do not have a fixed income, and we certainly do not have fixed outgoings!  I created a budget of sorts, but just to check that we don’t actually have to spend more than we earn, just to cover the essentials.  I decided to stop buying anything I do not need until credit card balance is zero and there’s enough in the bank to cover the amount I’m likely to put on the credit card by the time I get the next statement.

Well, the good news is that in just six weeks of being on a spending diet, I got the credit card paid off.  Now I want to get our emergency cushion up, but I decided that from this point forward, I get a spending allowance for something I do not need right now to survive.  This month, I gave  myself $150.  I blew half that on yarn (thanks to Slackford Studios for having a sale on one of my favourite treats) and the other half went towards reorganizing the kitchen.

I’ll be back with the results of the kitchen reorg and knitting progress soon, in the meantime, can’t close out without any pics at all, took this yesterday; perfect radishes and tasty arugula from my Fall garden:

Radishes

Democracy Worked For Me!

August 12, 2010

I swear I intended for my next post to be all about at least one of the knitwear designs I’ve been working on….but while I’ve been waiting for a finished project (or at least a good swatch), daylight, and my camera battery to charge, I recieved a notice of an application to rezone the land next to mine from agricultural, to light industrial.

Nine years ago, I designed our home, and we built it on five acres of land that was formerly pasture.  This is our dream home, we have peace and space as we are surrounded by agricultural land – the nearest neighbour is also on five acres.  There’s a five acre-wide strip of vacant land zoned agricultural between us and several light industrial lots that are lined up on the next main road.  This strip of land is higher than ours, so it acts as an excellent buffer for noise and hides the ugly stuff completely:

Sunset10262009

OK, its not the best picture, but this is the sunset I look forward to seeing out of my kitchen window most evenings. You see those bushes and trees? That’s our property line, and this is the line that someone wanted to extend their ugly metal workshops to. I should add, that recently, their neighbouring property was bought by a trucking company that extended their parking up to my neighbour’s fence line – we soon learned how far noise and light pollution travel out here.

I went online to see what I could do in response to this zone application notice, and was dismayed to find a report written by city planning, recommending approval of the application – no one asked me! Then I noticed that the trucking company never got their land rezoned….they’re not compliant!

Today, I nervously waited for several hours for my turn to speak. I was concerned about that report – it really stung that someone would recommend rezoning without checking with any of the local residents. Eventually, I stood before our City Planning Commission, and pleaded my case. I described the impact of the trucking company on my enjoyment of my yard, and my fear of being flooded if they paved the land that is higher than mine. When the board picked up on the fact that they were out of compliance with their zoning, I explained that I’d just used their website to research my own notice, figured that half of the trucking company’s operations were being conducted on agricultural land, and used their online tool to file a zone violation complaint. (I do believe a couple of committee members chuckled at that).

The application was DENIED and to top it off, the chairman of the commission ordered that someone “go out and check on those trucks because they are out of compliance!”

Tonight, I celebrate with a decent glass of wine and, what I hope will be one of my few remaining chances to drink in the sun setting over a bunch of parked trucks.

Living Pantry

July 31, 2010

Growing food is turning out to be very satisfying to me.  Its one of the few activities that my man and I both enjoy and can share (for two people that have been crazy in love for 22 years, we are remarkably incompatible).  I decided that watering by hand would allow me time to see what is ripe n ready for harvest (as in I held the hose rather than hooking up a sprinkler; I’m not lugging a watering can across acres of yard!)   I also got to see how picturesque produce can be up close:

Our first pear…..Pear

Toms We have lots of tomatoes (OK, potential tomatoes)

Summer squash flowers are beautifulSquash

Okra Okra plants would fit in any flower bed

Spider

Eeewie!  I’m ‘fraidy-cat when it comes to nature’s little helpers! 

This one is way too big for my liking, but son thinks she’s handsome.

May 3rd Anniversary

May 3, 2010

Anyone from Oklahoma knows what happened on May 3rd 1999, that was “the big one”.  The F5 tornado (My tornado) that destroyed most of my neighbourhood and thousands of other homes.  I have a lot to be thankful for, and this anniversary is a good time to pause and remember.

Moms Scanned Pic

I’ve never, never heard anything as loud as that tornado, its nothing like a freight train!  I felt the noise with every hair on my body; the noise hurt more than the debris falling on me as the tornado moved on to devour other neighbourhoods.

I’ve never been so grateful to be alive, so grateful that my son and husband were unharmed.

I’ve never been so unconcerned about my house and the possessions inside it.

I admit, I’ve never wished so hard that my album of baby pictures would somehow show up (it didn’t).

I’ve never been more proud than when my husband presented me keys to an apartment that he secured as soon as the leasing office opened.

I never knew before that my community, coworkers and friends would reach out and support me, although I’m not from round here; not a regular at any of their churches; not so needy since we had good insurance – they made me feel like I belong.

Moms Scanned Pic 2

So here we are, eleven years later.  We built the house we were planning, on the land we’d just paid for right before the tornado came….. only the plans were modified to include a storm shelter.  Nowadays, we know that in the event of a disaster, communication may be difficult, and knowing that everyone is OK, is priceless.  We occasionally review our “disaster plan”:

  • Keep a current copy of important documents (such as birth-certificates, drivers licenses & passports) in the storm shelter, plus a copy of prior year tax returns.
  • Keep a change of clothes & shoes for each member of the household in the storm shelter.
  • Keep clutter out of the storm shelter.
  • Keep an eye on the weather, and at least half a tank of gas the auto.
  • Remember to check where the safest place would be in the event of a tornado coming, when at work, shopping, visiting a friend…..
  • Agree who to call and leave an “I’m OK” message with that is some distance away from home.
  • Agree where you will go to in the event that there isn’t a house to go home to.

Water & food are not in my plan – I’m likely to grab a bottle of wine & chunk of cheese plus my latest knitting project & the weather radio if I feel its necessary to take shelter in the storm closet.  But after a tornado has passed, I’m within walking distance of clean water and a place to stay for the night.  Should such an incredible thing happen to me and my family again, I may need to walk a couple of miles while I sort out my thoughts.

Two Days at Sea with Lily Chin

March 30, 2010

Two more days of classes and chats with Lily Chin – including Japanese short rows:

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Who doesn’t like to learn a new technique? Can’t wait to try this on socks or shoulders. By the end of our two days at sea, we’ve measured every body part, decided who has a waist, sketched our body shapes, and adopted the term “Lily-Swatch” (its big).

This is my 11th day away from home – I figured that by now, if going on a long cruise was a poor choice, I’d know. Turns out that I quite like cruising, and my cabin-mate was an excellent choice…we’re very compatible travellers :o)

On our way to Korea, we spot an island that is a popular vacation destination for Koreans:

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Don’t ask me why I was so comfortable on board the day we docked at Inchon, Korea, but I just wanted to chill out. I nibbled & knitted in the buffet until pretty much all the passengers had gone ashore. Then I took a swim, a sauna, a soak in the hot tub. I broke out the Christmas Cake I smuggled on board, and we had a mighty fine afternoon tea plus a couple of hands of cribbage. I may have missed Seoul, but I had a good day.