Sunday, November 28, 2010

Greenhouse Baby Steps

If you've been following the GREENHOUSE SAGA, here is the latest installment.  What started as a fun idea and took forever for me to make a decision has turned into a thorn in my side. I am about ready to name the company I bought it from and say very bad things about them but I want the thing to at least be standing up before I totally slam them.

After the grave disappointment of not have all 10 ground posts the day we started, I was elated when the customer service lady told me that it would be no problem to ship the remaining 3 posts and the other thing we were missing.  She said they'd come UPS, free of charge.  I'm already worked up over the shipping charges since we had to go get some of it, but that's for another day.  I've been in touch with my buddy Kirk who doesnt' really seem to get how mad I am about the shipping and handling fees, and I'm going to keep telling him I am unsatsified and he'll keep ignoring me and someone will eventually give up.  It is not likely to be me.

However, k-ster decided today to put in the final 3 ground posts and then see what he could get done.  It's cold, but maybe it will go smoothly and be fun.  It's very sunny and warm if you have on enough dark clothes.  So, while I was out, he went to work.  Until only TWO of the 3 ground posts were in the box!!!!  It said 3 on the invoice, the lady's email said 3.  How hard is it to count????  So once again, we are stuck.  Yet another good weather day lost for this project.

After lots of sighing and saying mean things and me calling Kirk to leave a message about my fury, we decided we can at least set up the 5 rafters which frame the whole thing.  They can't stand up yet, but we played with one so we can see how it will look.  Then we assembled the 5 of them on the ground, so they are ready to go as soon as the damned ground post arrives.

They went together so quickly and smoothly that it really does give me hope that any idiot we can do this without incident.  It's one of those things that looks like it can go together really easily but then you get into the heart of it and you need to have a phD in engineering.  Hopefully this is not the case.  It kind of seems like the IKEA of the farm buildings world.

Speaking of farms, on the way to my sister a-ster's house, we passed much farmland and I can't tell you how many greenhouses and plastic tarped buidlings we saw.  This really seems to be the way of the building future. 

I have some fun tidbits from my Thanksgiving 4 day trip that I will share this week, so stay tuned.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Thanksgiving in A Few Answers

Can't come up with my own ideas today, so I'm taking Joyce's idea from here and doing Wednesday Hodgepodge--Thanksgiving Edition

1. If you had known what they knew then, would you have boarded the Mayflower?
I 'm not sure what this means.  If it means that I knew the king wasn't making life easy and it was time to leave, then I think I would have left if everyone I knew was going with me.  Or a lot of people that I knew, at least.  But I would have had to REALLY, REALLY, REALLY hate it because leaving home for good isn't really something I do.  And as you will soon see, I'm not a boat person.  And knowing what I know now about the soundness of the Mayflower and its propensity for leaking, as well as stinking to high heaven with people smelling and being sick, I know I would not have been able to do it.  Have you ever been to Plymouth, MA to see the replica?  It is so much tinier than you could ever imagine.  Really.  The history books, and our elementary teachers lead us to believe it was a cruise ship, by 1600s standards, but it was very small.
2. How far have you traveled on a boat and how do you feel about boats in general?
From the boat trips I can remember, I think the farthest I might have gone on a boat is about 19 miles.  That's from England to France on a ferry.  There is a time that I might have gone on some kind of ferry with my family because I have a vague notion of our motorhome being on one level while we were on another, but I can't remember where we were.  Which is weird because...

I have a strong aversion to boats.  I have lived all of my life, except the college years, less than 1/4 mile from the ocean.  I sailed beetlcat boats in a small, protected bay and loved it.  But that's it.  I have never been on a cruise and don't ever plan to go on one.  I have been held hostage a couple of times by my father on his boat and haven't loved it.  I don't trust the ocean.  I have never been seasick but I also don't trust my stomach, so that adds to my dislike of boats.  K-ster and I were talking about where to spread my ashes, and I told him if he thinks he will take me to do things when I'm dead that I would never do when I was alive, I will remain in hell for eternity.  No sprinkling of my ashes over the sea, please!  And no bungee jumping or anything else that I refuse to do now. 
3. What traditions have you kept, acquired thru marriage, and/or tossed? If you're single what are some of your family's favorite Thanksgiving traditions?

For many, many Thanksgivings, we were in Florida.  So  many times did we spend Thanksgiving in shorts, I actually resented the few times that I wasn't in Florida and had to actually freeze.  Like the time when I was in high school and we had a blizzard on Thanksgiving and the football game had to be cancelled.  Although, that was kind of fun because did assinine things in the snow before being sent home.  As adults, we have gone to Florida every two years, or so, but with plane tickets costing too many limbs, and passengers being total assholes during that time, the appeal has been lost, and we've done it less and less.  I guess, the traditions that I have are that I always have turkey, and depending on where I am and who is cooking, the rest is up for grabs.  My least favorite meal was the year that my grandmother and I were home for Thanksgiving, while everyone else was in Florida, and she thought it would be great to make turkey soup.  But she didn't put in the bullion.  So we had hot water with turkey in it.  Mmmmm. 

One Thanksgiving tradition that sort of popped up during the college years, was for 2 sets of aunts and uncles, and sometimes their kids and sometimes their kids, to meet us all in Florida on one of those every two years.  The day itself was always a frenzy, sometimes full of laughter, sometimes full of wishing for more laughter.  That night, we would always go somewhere, usually to some part of Disney that let us in for free and had pretty lights and stuff.  And usually, the following day was Blizzard Beach or Typhoon Lagoon. 

Thank you to all of the airlines who got together to SCREW the common folk out of every penny they have and, as though that were not enough, to also JAM them together like cattle in planes and be MEAN so that these Thanksgiving memories become fewer and farther between.  Giving thanks, right this minute.

4. What time is dinner and how many will be round your table? And what is the one side dish you cannot do without on Thanksgiving day?

This was a new one for us.  We decided not to fly, teaching the airlines a lesson or two, and drove to my sister a-ster's house.  They just moved into this house in July, you might remember my tales of the visit to help her move, so this was their first Thanksgiving in this house.  Normally, Thanksgiving dinner has been served around 1pm, whether at my mother's house or k-ster's.  We knew this would be later because the Patriots were playing the Lions and everyone but me cared.  So, it was like 5:30pm when we actually ate.  There were just the 4 of us.  And enough food to feed the block.  She made some dishes that were new for us, like green bean casserole, brussels sprouts, s-ster's favorite stuffing, another stuffing, her own cranberry sauce, and then the standards.  One side dish I cannot live without on Thanksgiving is cranberry sauce.  Make it yourself, pop it out of a can, I don't care, but don't try to have Thanksgiving with me without it.
5. Have you ever used a fire extinguisher?

Nope.  I accidentally made one go off by dropping it, but it was outside and I was OK with the mess.  K-ster was not so happy because it belonged in his truck. I was so impressed that he was so careful he actually had a fire extinguisher in his truck!
6. Tell about a situation that caused you dreadful trepidation and feet dragging, only to realize later it was a true blessing.

There are so many, from ridiculous to extreme, I don't know where I would even begin.  I could drag my feet over a trip to the bathroom, so I really have nothing special and juicy that comes to mind.  I would say that leaving in January for a 5 month stint in France during my sophomore year caused me a lot of trepidation.  But I now teach French and refer back to that experience almost daily, so who knew?

7. Baked, sweet, mashed, hash browned or french fried...which one's your favorite? I

Baked if you have sour cream for me.
Sweet if the only other choice is mashed white potatoes.

8. Insert your own random thought here.

I don't believe in Black Friday and getting up at some ridiculous hour to go stand in line and risk the life being stomped out of me, but I just received an email about a particular item being on sale at a ridiculous amount online at 12:01am and k-ster has mentioned numerous times that he wants this.  Beginning at midnight, I can supposedly get it at like 25% its normal cost.  So I'm going to give it a whirl.  I'm staying up for 10 more minutes just so I can do this.  And no, k-ster, this is not one of those high ticket items you always talk about, don't get too excited.  But it might keep you occupied when you have your foot up.
Now go link with Joyce and do your own Hodgepodge.

Monday, November 22, 2010

I'm Going to Hire A Maid

But not for the reason you might think.  I don't care about anyone cleaning my house.  BEcause if you  have a maid who comes to clean, you have to actually get your stuff picked up so she can come and clean.  And if I'm going to clean for my maid, then what's the point?

And I don't want a maid who will take care of putting things away for me.  That really just means hiding my things.  I already have someone in the house who likes to "clean" by just moving stuff but that really just makes my things disappear and when I need them, they aren't where they are supposed to by.  And this causes much frustration because it's always when I'm in a hurry and the thing I need isn't where it needs to be!

Here's the only thing I want.  I want a maid who will make my bed with clean sheets every single day.  There is something about sleeping on a sheets that are not yet used that makes me sleep so well and makes me just so happy. 

In addition to being able to make a fresh new bed every day, this maid will also have to wash the sheets and hang them on the line so they dry in the sun.  If it is not a sunny day, she will need to figure out how to make that happen.  She will not be putting these sheets in the dryer, under ANY circumstances.  They will crisp because they were line dried in the sun.

And she will be a she because I don't believe in male maids.  Tony Danza notwithstanding.  I am a chauvinist and will demand that my maid is a woman.  I haven't decided if she will wear a uniform.  If so, it will be very dowdy so as not to attract any attention to  herself.  Since she will not do anything but wash sheets and put them on the bed, she will not need to carry around the quintessential feather duster.  By the way, isn't a feather duster technically something that dusts feathers?  In my brain, that's what that sounds like.  Just like a vacuum cleaner sounds like something that would clean the vacuum.  But I digress.

Oh, and there is no pay or room or board for this maid.

Apply at your own risk.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Feel Good Friday, On a Saturday

I know, I know, it's Saturday night and I'm just getting around to posting my FGF. But I'm at a conference and the internet wasn't cooperating last night. And my feet fell right off because I walked them to death, so I couldn't go back to the lobby and post last night.

So, I headed out to the Big City yesterday morning, on the bus, and when I got here at 9:30, my room was actually ready.  I was amazed.  I figured I'd be dragging my clothes around with me at the conference all day.  That means I could have brought a better suitcase than the one that looks like a small purse that I cram everything into.  I'm getting good at that.  This has been an interesting conference, with some great highlights. 

In no particular order, here they are.

1.  I arrived at the Marriott not only to find my room ready, but cute.  That's right, a corner-type room with 2, that's right, TWO windows.  There's a king size bed and a chair that I love.  It's kind of small, but that's Ok because it's bright and clean.  And has a great view.
Yes, that's a city, with ugly building, but I see a river and whenever I get a view of the water, I think it's a pretty good view.  And it was a really crisp day, so it looked pretty.  Even k-ster said it was a nice view when he joined me today.

2.  There happens to be a hockey game tonight and since it happens right here in the Big City, I suggested that k-ster tell his brother that he wants to go to this game and then he can stay tonight with me.  His brother said that was a great idea and then forgot and sold his tickets.  But somehow managed to get some high faluting better seats, so k-ster is tickled.  And instead of driving home at 11, he can come back to the hotel.  And now I can attend the conference on Sunday, which I was not planning to do if I drove back and forth each day.  And it looks like there are 2 sessions I will go to tomorrow.

3.  For lunch yesterday, I was RAV-EN-OUS, and so was everyone else.  Rather than stand in line for hours and miss a session, I went to a session hungry but then didn't have to wait long when I got out.  The place is called Tossed and I assume it's some franchise.  But it looks bright and clean and had things I wanted. 
Yeah, like this salad. I know, I was kind of grossed out that fingers came with it, but the other assorted items in it made it the best things I could put in my mouth.  They put the equivalent of like 2 salads in it, complete with golden raisins, sunflower seeds and a lot of veggies.  I didn't even need dressing.  It was one of those half a sandwich and salad deals.  Pricey but quiet lovely.  So much, that I did it again tonight.  It didn't hit the spot quite as much tonight because I wasn't as starved, but it was enjoyable anyway.

4.  There was a cocktail reception for some travel company, one which I never intend to use, but it was free and it was at the top of a high building and it afforded views like these.

Bright lights, big city.  I'm such a country pumpkin.  I mean bumpkin.  There was some decent food there, and the main reason I went, some prizes being given away.  Sadly, I did not win a prize.  In fact, I did not win any prizes this weekend, though I was so certain yesterday that I was winning a Kindle, I actually went back to the booth to wait for them to draw the raffle.  They are very nice people and I going to put in a plug for them right here.It's an online language learning site and there's a free portion and a subscription portion.  What I saw of it was really cool and they explained that for free, you can get pretty far with it.  They have a lot of languages offered.  When I find the time, ha ha, I am going to do more with it.  They gave me a mug, ceramic since we all know the dangers of the old plastic cups and mugs, but it says not dishwasher safe, so how much safer is it????  Oh, but this is Feel Good Friday and the girl probably wouldn't like that I am griping, so I will move on. 

5.  This picture just makes me smile.  They have this ornament theme all around the conference center and hotels and the mall that's in it.  They have these gold ornaments everywhere, even hanging from the ceiling and they are kind of whimsical.  Christmas is coming and I love looking at things that make me think of Christmas.  There is something about being in the Big City during the holidays that makes me feel very festive.

Now go visit the girl and link up your own Feel Good Friday.  And come back to me tomorrow for a lesson on why foreign language teachers are just so damned queer!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

I Think I'm Stuck

After my greenhouse tales over the weekend, I seem to be stuck for topics.  I'm waiting for the delivery of the other 3 posts and another set of missing parts, so nothing can be done with the greenhouse. 

I seem to be exceptionally busy this week.  I really don't know how I can have weeks with so little to do and weeks that are so ridiculous I can barely get out of beds in the morning.  That might be why I haven't had time to write a post this week.

But then I read Kathy over at The Junk Drawer and her post is to tell her about something we are good at.  This made me really stop and think.  Hmmm.  I am exceptionally busy.  I keep myself busy by doing a lot of things.  Many of which I am good at.  I teach French, I teach at the gym, I teach crocheting classes at the moment, I volunteer, I ride, and I keep a house most of the time.  But am I really good at any of that stuff?  Or can I do it, so I do.  That's a really good question.

So, I got to thinking.  What is something that I know I can do?  Something that other people ask me how to do?  Something that gives me reliable results time and again?  Something that I really love to do?  And the answer that kept coming up was growing things.  This shouldn't surprise you because you know I'm putting up a greenhouse.  I've posted many a post about gardening or plants or food that I grow.  I've explained that I bring in summer flowering plants to keep at school over the winter.   It cheers up the entrance and allows me to not buy new plants every summer.  Yes, it's all about the frugality, isn't it??

But I can surely say, I am good at growing things.  I have had a garden for so many years, I've lost track.  I remember when my father had a garden, just one year, I guess, in what was once the corral. I assume there was lots of good manure left in there.  I remember that it was big (but I was like 4) and looking at  the field where it was, it must have been big.  I vividly remember corn stalks that were high enough and dense enough that I felt like it was a forest.  And I VIVIDLY remember taking an ear of corn, pulling back the husk and seeing WORMS and freaking out.  I still freak out over bugs in the garden, but it's a silent screaming that makes me head for the nearest stone to smash them to bits.  But I do believe I screamed out loud and threw the ear on the ground and maybe ran away.  I also remember being allowed to bring in carrot tops for the rabbit at nursery school and they came from that garden.  I also remember having a meal at my grandparents' house and my grandmother saying that everything on the table came from my father's garden.  And I piped up that I didn't think he grew any hams that year.  This has come to haunt me and 30 years later, whenever we have a ham meal at their house, my father has to say "we didn't plant any hams this year."  Old habits die hard in the sparkling household.

My mother has always grown houseplants.  I remember a very creepy plant that she had once that had "flowers" that grew off the end of the stems that looks like gold fish.  But they were creepy, not cool like you might think.  they had what looked like open mouths at the end and I felt like they were sucking air.  And she has always had the typical philodendrons and ivies.  She has them everywhere.  African violets grow really well in a certain window she has.  So, when I went off to college, I brought some plants, because that's what you do in a living space.  You have plants.  But when you have to fly home for the summer, finding someone to babysit them is kind of a pain.  And now I have them from one end of the house to the others.  k-ster says I put them in stupid places, so they get annoying.  I don't know, I just like them.  It's kind of an obsession.  And once I learned that you can snip off pieces and propagate them- oh boy.

The first time I had a garden, I was probably 9.  We had had chickens for many years and finally, they all had been killed by wild animals, so my father gave up.  The chicken coop seemed like the perfect place because it was already fenced in and there was a ton of chicken crap everywhere.  Somewhere, I read about composting.  Yes, at the tender age of 9 or so, I understood the reason to compost.  And I thought it was the coolest thing ever(still do).  So, I planted stuff.  And it grew.  And I distinctly remember actually growing peppers and I was so tickled that I grew my own pepper that I took it inside, got a knife and cut myself trying to cut it.  But, I didn't have to get stitches, so that was OK.

It seems like a number of years went by before I gardened again and I am not sure why.  In college, I started gardening in the summer, but many of the fruits of my labor came after I went back to school and no one bothered to harvest anything.  My sister had a garden one year too. 

I started gardening with a vengeance when I got out of college. And I haven't stopped.  And now I am obsessed enough that I will have a greenhouse to continue to addiction.  I now garden, not just for pleasure, but for the purpose of actually eating what I grow.  I now see that I was "doing organic" when I was 9.  Long before anyone talked about it.  I was doing what made sense.  Using compost on what I grew.  I am now a raving lunatic who fears all chemicals and will not let a known pesticide anywhere near my food, if I can help it.  Not even organic pesticides.  Not even organic fertilizer.  Nothing but my own stuff in my compost and then that compost back on the ground.  I often wonder:  if I am putting all of my vegetable scraps into the compost, and those vegetables come from the grocery and are not organic, am I just poisoning the entire operation?  These and many other dark thoughts trouble me often.

I stopped buying conventionally grown seedlings because it occurred to me one year that if they have fertilizers and pesticides from birth, then how are they creating safe vegetables?  But then that begs the question, why am I using non organic seeds?  Don't they harbor the DNA that the pesticides and fertilizers already altered on the parent plant?  And is anything truly organic if bees go from flower to flower and coule bring pesticide from one flower to an organic flower?  Really, this is just a big mess in my head.  So I take the baby steps that I can take.  I control what I can.  And worry about all the rest when I'm not supposed to worry.

So, my harebrained plan is to have a greenhouse so I can start things earlier, have greater quantities of them and keep them longer.  For a few years, I have been really successful at starting seedlings indoors.  But, this operation is in my living room, so space is limited.  And once they get to a certain height, plants can't just keep bending toward the light from the windows or they get all spindly and can't support themselves.  So then, it becomes a race to get them out in the morning and back in at night.  My fantasy is that a greenhouse will take care of all of this.  I can grow many more seedlings and won't have to run them around or keep turning them.  But, I am refusing to heat it this first year.  Madness, they tell me.  You can't have a greenhouse in New England and not heat it.  Umm, have you met me?  I think I can rig up something.  I picture lots of black to absorb the heat. 

Where was I?  Oh, yes, I grow things and I grow them well.  People marvel at the plants I have in my classroom, my house and outside during the summer.  They often ask me how I....  So I tell them what I do.  But I always tell them that I break all of the rules of gardening, so maybe my advice won't work for them.  I never do what you are supposed to do with broccoli and here it is November and I'm still harvesting broccoli.  And I have to hold back so I don't get on my soapbox about pesticides and fertilizers and compost and talking to the plants.  I just wish other people understood just how much it means to me to have things grow.  And we shouldn't talk about the irony of having to cut down a tree in order to put up my greenhouse.

To sum it up, if I knew I could truly earn a living as a farmer, I would do it in a second.  If I knew that I would have heath insurance, a steady income, and the space I needed, that would be my ideal life.  But a farmer's life is never sure (and neither is anyone else's but theirs rely so heavily on so many things) that I would just worry myself into oblivion and that wouldn't do anyone a damned bit of good.

Well, for someone who was stuck, there seems to be an awful lot of text on this page!

So, what do you do well?  What do you love to do?  What do people ask you to show them how to do?  What talents are you proud to say you have?  What would you do for the rest of your life if you knew you had financial security?

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Greenhouse Gasp

It all came to a screeching halt when we found we are missing 3 ground posts.  Absolutely crucial to the entire thing since they are what the rest of the greenhouse sits on.  I am very disappointed because we won't be able to work on it for the next 2 weekends.  It gets dark so early we can't do anything after work.  UGH.  And there's another part missing.  And conveniently, my rep is on vacation this week, so I will have to involve another person.  I am soooooooo annoyed.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Greenhouses and Geometry

If you're following the Greenhouse Bonanza, here I go again and it's still day 1! You may remember, we started the day with k-ster leveling things out and then he left to get a grading rake and I announced that I had been telling him the wrong size.  And he had just found the "formula" for figuring how to make sure the rectangle is square(as in squared off,not how to make a rectangle become a square).  I would like to state, for the record, that geometry was truly one of my worst classes ever.  Mr. Laroche was weird, he had a things sticking out from his belly button(which I guess was a hernia) and it would always bump into the overhead projector and I was afraid it might explode.  No matter what I did, I just did not get geometry.  I was convinced I understood and then I didn't.  That was the only time I got an F on a midterm.  And I might have gotten a D as a term grade in that class.  I forget.  I really wanted to do well but I just was not able to visualize it!!

So, when he returned, we set out to once again make sure it was square, but with the proper measurements this time.  And the "formula" wasn't working for our size.  In the guide for any idiot instructions, it says to use this special "formula".  So, I caved and went to get the calculator.  And then I couldn't figure out the damned "formula".  So you know I just had to call my father, who I knew would give me a ration of shit but would know this special "formula".

"I can't do math"
"Why not?"
"Well, we're trying to figure out why the diagonals aren't matching when we try to make sure the greenhouse base is square and the "formula" isn't working, or I'm not sure how to use it"
"Jesus Christ, after 7 years of school (umm, thanks Dad, it was 4 of college and 2 of grad school.  I might not be able to do math, but I do know 4+2 is 6) you think you'd know how to do basic math!"
"I have a masters in reading, not geometry and I only took statistics in college!!  I can tell you the probability of my rate of success with this thing as long as you put the chips into the urn."
"So what do I do?"
Lots of talk about sqaures and square roots.
"Ok, I have it, so I'll..."
"I'll be right over"
"NO, we aren't using string like we should and ....."

Oh but the lesson didn't end there, ladies and gentlemen.  He did do a marvelous thing in the dirt, showing us how we could have done it without using a calculator and how to do it in the future.  But again, he just couldn't stop there.  Now, we had to talk about serious math.  What's a cubioc foot?  Cubic yard?  Let's figure it out.  Now let's convert from squared to cubic and then some.  And then let's just suppose and make up other numbers that have nothing to do with our measurements, but let's just suppose.  Numbers were flying, mistakes were made, someone said hypotenuse, I said other absurd things having to do with numbers and k-ster just stood there smirking while I kept asking "Why aren't you saying anything???" and my father was giving me the test of a lifetime.  I can do fast math in my head,  but I cannot figure out which math to do.  If I know what I'm doing, such as saving 25% on shoes, I can figure it like a savant.  But if I'm not sure which "formula" to use, it's all over.

After showing off the stellar education I got at Vanderbilt University (I wasn't a MATH MAJOR, people!!) my father then decided to pull out the big guns and to see how level the surface was.  It might have been because I said something about level.  I thought k-ster would go through the roof but he was actually glad.  What, you see 2 transoms there?  That's because one is battery powered with a laser.  BUt the battery was dead.  So the old fashioned one had to come out.  And it was more level than I expected.  So, he really didn't want to get involved with this, but after showcasing my mathematical genius, he probably figured if he didn't help these 2 imbeciles to at least get started on the right foot, this greenhouse might be the death of all of us.  Plus, I think he secretly wants a greenhouse of his own. 

And the special "formula"?  None other than a squared plus b squared equals c squared.  And he insists it's basic math, not geometry.  Potatoes, tomatoes, when you speak of the hypotenuse, it's geometry.  I will say that I now get that special concept and if Mr. Laroche had dragged us outside and made us DO the Pythagoreum theorem, I know I would have had a much better understanding.

All of this reminds me of the time, years ago,  we went to get a "yard" of mulch.  I asked "what happens if the yard you're doing is bigger than the last one you did?  How do you know how much mulch to get?"  I thought a "yard" of mulch meant it was enough to cover your yard.  Oh the guffawing that produced.  And if you don't know, it's a cubic yard, the size that many bulldozer buckets are just so they can scoop it up and charge you per yard.

Linking here:
Finding the Funny

Greenhouse Bonanza Part 1

Well, it's here. The greenhouse has arrived. In two parts, though. First, we had to go pick up a part of the shipment because no one would be here to get it. And 2nd, k-ster had to go to work an hour late so he would be here when the 2nd part arrived because it was too big to go in the truck. While I'd like to call my rep and start yelling about shipping, he's conveniently on vacation for a week. Anyway. Here's what we have.

This will become the back side.  All corrugated polycarbonate.  I'm worried that the damaged box may be a bad sign.
And this is all of the "stuff" like the drop down sides and the turning mechanism, the many bolts and things and the air blower that keeps the top inflated.
And all of the tubes and posts.  It really is just a big lego set. Any idiot can do it, right?

So, this is the before picture.  This used to be where the chicken house sat.  Until it blew down a few years ago.  You can see the clothesline.  I love to hang out my clothes.  Now I will have to find somewhere new.  Sigh.  But I'll have a greenhouse!  I think I might hang clothes in there this winter.  k-ster doesn't know that yet.
Had to cut down a tree, but I'm OK with that.  It was diseased anyway.  Thank goodness we have  John Deere or this would not be able to happen.  They tell you any idiot person can do this, but really, if you don't have a machine of some sort, you will be screwed.  Even in the directions, they show guys using a people lift and forklift to put it up.
So, k-ster had to level it out a bit.  And now it's level, but the drop off seems to be greater.  Now, see those wooden stakes there?  Marking out the layout?  They are marking a 12 x 14 greenhouse. But GUESS WHAT???? It's not a 12 x 14 greenhouse.  It's 14 x 16!  Oh am I in trouble for that.  I got it in my head that it was 12 x 14 and that's what I've been saying.  After spending a long time getting it square, we were looking at something in the directions and I said "Hmm, why does it say 14 x 16?"  Uh oh.  So, k-ster has gone off to get a grading rake and I'll have to help him move the stakes to get it right.  I kept saying I thought there must be some formula for getting it square, but he kept fiddling with the stakes.  There is a formula.  It's good old geometry.  But the numbers weren't working conveniently for 12 x 14.  They will work beautifully for 14 x 16 though.  D-U-H.  And I have a masters in reading. And he loves instances like this when he can say "I can't believe you have the master in reading and you can't read!"  And then I say things like "I can't believe you built houses and laid patios and dont' know how the formula for making things square."  Ahh tit for tat. 

It is truly a perfect day to tackle this mess.  But he's gone off to get a rake and I'm riding soon because time for riding is rare now that we live in the artic with dark at noon, so I don't know what progress we will make today.  I hope tomorrow is just as perfect.  There's nothing worse than trying to put up a greenhouse when it's cold and windy.  Not that I've ever done it, I just know that warm and nice is far better for attitudes!

Friday, November 12, 2010

Feel Good Friday

And here we go again! Thank you to thegirlnextdoorgrowsup for hosting Feel Good Friday!

1. My friend j-ster and her husband and their son came for supper on Wednesday. I don't do that a lot, so it was fun. Baby j-ster is just over a year, the time when I start to like babies, and he's very funny. Running around like crazy. Easily entertained by a piece of lint. At one point during supper, I looked over and he was fawning all over me and then gave me the most bizarre smile like he was flirting. It was pretty funny.

2. My greenhouse arrived and we picked up part of it yesterday. The rest was delivered today. Now to assemble it. Wow. It might just be ready by about...June.

3. Due to the visit from j-ster, my house is fairly clean and I like that. I love a clean house. I just don't love finding the time to bother. It's nice to be able to sit on surfaces meant for sitting, instead of moving things off of them to be able to sit down.

4. I FINALLY got my birthday cake. I'm not a cake fan, especially when they are store bought. But there is a Devil's Food Chocolate Cake(I capitalized all of the words because they deserve it- it's THAT good) recipe in my good old, handy, Better Home and Gardens cookbook. No fancipants need apply. A few years ago, k-ster decided to make it. O.M.G. no, better. O.M.F.G. I dont' know what he puts in it. But I might sell my soul for some. And then the homemade frosting? I'm almost unable to speak as I fondly recall the deliciousness. Somehow, we never had any cake for my birthday this year. So I told him it was his job to make it for supper the other night. He did not fail. Wow. It is just sooooooo damned good.

5. And it's been a while since Tucker has made it onto a FGF post, but I rode yesterday and he was great. Or maybe I'm getting more great so the rides are great. I thought he'd be awful because it's been raining all week and he was only ridden once. Nope, he was a gem. Check out the Just Horsing Around page and see my new pictures I've put up.

So that's it. Now go visit the girl and link up your own Feel Good Friday!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Must Get the Word Out

After much deliberation and promising me that he won't go to Dunkin Donuts anymore, k-ster and I bought a Keurig coffee maker. His requirement is that he gets to use cups like they use at Dunkin' Donuts, not a travel mug. After I did all of the math, it really is cheaper for him to buy cups and lids and the Kcups to brew the coffee. Really. It seems like it would be even, but it really is cheaper.

So we bought it and got an ass kicking deal. $69.99 for the B70 model which is supposed to be $169.99. Thank you Bed Bath and Beyond for their 20% off coupon and Discover for the crazy gift cards that you get when you cash in your points.

And did you know that you can buy Kcups that are hot chocolate? WHOOOO HOOOO. Until I read the ingredients. I am a pure sugar person. No saccharin, aspartame (aka Nutrasweet), sucralose (aka Splenda) or acesulfame potassium (aka Sweet One) for me. No way. Aspartame gives me an outrageous headache. And tastes bitter. Sucralose tastes very wrong to me and makes k-ster have to head for the bathroom(and NOTHING does that to him). And we all know that saccharin may cause cancer in laboratory mice (didn't we learn this from our packs of Trident we chewed?). And I link acesulfame potassium with sucralose because they often appear on stage together.

So, you guessed it. They have artificial sweeteners in the hot chocolate Kcups. I have only checked on two of them, Green Mountain and Cafe something or other. But if they both have it, then how could the rest not? I suppose that it has to do with fitting all of the ingredients in the little Kcups and they can't fit actual sugar but can fit the other things that are "just as sweet" but only take up half the space.

I'm not scientist and I don't even play one in the classroom(I do play many roles in the classroom but French never calls for me to be a scientist). I have many theories, too many to ever test, about food and fake additives. But when it's a fake additive that I can actually taste, then it doesn't belong there. Sure, you think it's all in my head. I see the label, so I know to taste it. SURPRISE but that is not the case. I remember when Nutrasweet first came out and my mother bought Jello pudding with it. I made a bowl and it just tasted awful. So I threw it away and thought it was bad. But then I made another one later and had the same problem. Just yesterday, a teacher who knows I love chocolate gave me a chocolate yogurt with some fruity flavor on top. It was good. Until I swallowed and the aftertaste hit. And I kept tasting the metallic, sweet yuckiness. I asked if it had Splenda and she said "what's that?" So I explained. She brought in the carton the next day and yep, sucralose AND acesuflame. K-ster's aunt made a carrot cake (which I love) all with Splenda. One bite and I knew instantly and she was so proud when I told her I thought I could taste it. NONONONONONONO. I never buy anything sugar free or light because 99% of the time they have these fake sugars in them.

The saddest part is that some of you are reading this and have no clue what's in your cabinet. You're wondering if your food has real sugar, corn syrup(which, is it really so bad?), fake sugar or truly, no sweetener at all. And you're giving it to your kids. And maybe they have weird stomach aches that you think might just be kids being kids and fussing about fake ailments. GO. Get thee to they labels. Read and weep. And then throw the damned things away.

And see if you can find me some Kcup hot chocolate that doesn't have the fake stuff. I'm dying for it!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

I Don't Love My Dyson

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I finally caved and bought a Dyson. I had my other El Cheapo vacuum for 14 years. It worked well. Very well, actually. And then one day, it started wheezing. And then another day it started shrieking. And then one day, I thought I had gone deaf because it was so shrill, so I decided to let it R.I.P.

Being thrifty, I saved and saved my Discover card rewards so I could use the points toward Sears gift cards. Discover has it going on. You use 20 dollar points for a $25 gift card. How can you do wrong??? So, after much buying and saving with my Discover card, I had a good number of Sears gift cards to buy the ridiculously priced Dyson.

It said it was so powerful. It said it was the "animal" version which would take up animal hair from 3 floors below. It said it was so modern and so strategically designed. And it had that ball which seemed really cool. And best of all, no more bags.

So, I brought it home and used it. Meh. It wasn't so powerful. I didn't such up dirt from my great grandmother's time, as I thought I might. I don't think it has much more power than the old one did right before it died. And it makes me do ergonomically inappropriate things. Because of that damned ball, it's like jelly in my hand and I find myself contorting into painful positions with my wrists, simply because I can. Not sure that's very smart, Mr Dyson.

And then I hurt myself for the first time. I went to pull up the extender hose so I could suck up something and when I pushed it back down into its magic hole, I pinched my fingers. It really hurt and I was really mad. It seems like something anyone could easily do. Not so smart, Mr. Dyson. So I've learned to be very careful about using the hose.

Then I hurt myself for the 2nd time. It turns out, that when you want to use the hose, though it pulls out quite far, you must have someone either hold down the vacuum itself while you go hose away, or you must maneuver yourself into yet another contortion to anchor it with one leg, or behind your legs, and you reach forward with the hose. My toes learned this lesson very painfully.

And yesterday, I hurt myself for the 3rd time. Thus the picture above. Right, that tiny little bit of a blood blister. From pushing in the crevice tool and getting the skin pinched as I was trying to shove it in. Again, Mr. Dyson, not so smart. Am I really supposed to worry this much about hurting myself with a vacuum???? A $500 vacuum which I paid nowhere near that amount for????

I can't say I am at all happy with the damned thing. The only thing I love about it right now is that I can empty the container each time. But even that isn't so wonderful. For example, if my trash is anywhere near mid to halfway full, I can't open the hatch on the container unless I hold the container higher over my trash which then gets dust everywhere. And then, with the amount of cat hair (from one stinkin'cat!) and human hair(from 2 stinkin' humans!) that gets sucked up, it often just hangs out and I have to pull it to get the big furball out.

Mr. Dyson, I am not pleased right now. When I will love this machine?

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Blog Contest #2

Get over to the girl and link up for

I do love a contest and I love to win things. Here's my latest favorite post. Not because I think it's well written, but because the circumstances make me snicker every time. And marvel at the way things work.

So, drink the kool-aid and link up your own favorite post and maybe you'll win! Oh, then that means I wouldn't win. Hmmm, moral dilemma.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Feel Good Friday

Here is it once again, brought to you by thegirlnextdoorgrowsup.  Here are my feel good moments and thoughts for the week, in no particular order.

1.  One of my  French "twins" as I call her(I have 2), sent my students and my classroom this marvelous thing.  She is a French woman who teaches English to French middle school students in France.  We do many of the same things with our students in the opposite languages, and it's really cool to chat with her about how we teach.  We are having our students do penpals and it's been a big hit so far.  On her school's website, she put this badge and I thought it was cool.  The next thing I knew, this plaque arrived in the mail!  You can see her blog here and it's all in English so you can actually read it!

2.  I got all of my potted plants into school the night before we had a frost that killed just about everything else.  Except my chard and broccoli.   The chard is totally standing at attention, ready to grow some more until more frost comes and kills it.  The plants all look nice at the entrance to school and they love the sun that they get there all year.  I'm so thrifty, I just can't throw summer plants away, so I have geraniums and impatiens that have been around for years.  See the bottom of this post to see the geraniums that's I've been growing for more years that I can remember!

3.   The district will pay for the registration for a conference I am going to in 2 weeks. This is great because I just decided to spend 2 nights in the city at a Marriott to the tune of a million dollars.  K-ster will join me one of the nights after a hockey game.  I always feel like you get the most out of a conference when you stay right there.  And I looked everywhere but decided to stay in the radius of the conference which means a swankier hotel, but I like that.  So the district won't pay for swankiness, but I can get the registration paid for.  That's like 1/2 of a night of swank.

4.  I am participating in a really cool event called Mutual Muses and I am an "artist" who created a quilt that a poet will now write about.  Last night, we had the kick off.  I got a poem that I now have to respond to with a quilt.  Someone got a picture of the quilt I already made and will write a poem inspired by it.  It's really neat what comes from this.  Most of the art is paint or photo but there are some textiles.  I laugh to think I'm an "artist".  It's kind of like when I did liquor promotions and was called a "model".  I should just run around with quotes permanently over my head.  Someone somewhere is probably telling someone that I am a "French teacher".

5.  My friend n-ster from college is moving back to the east coast.  She moved from the east coast to the west coast the same month my sister moved from west to east.  Now n-ster is moving back to where she was and my sister isn't too far from there, so I have 2 excuses to visit the area.

6.  This one had me rolling on the floor this morning.  "I'm so pretty, I will have to drive."  I read the craziest thing this morning.  It said that when a guy has a pretty girl in the car, he is likely to speed because of the testosterone boost that he gets by being with her.  So, to play it safe, the pretty girl should drive.  I told k-ster and he thought that was funny too.  Then I mumbled how I'll have to be sure to tell all the guys that drive me around that I'll have to drive because I'm so pretty, they might do something stupid, being that they are men and can't control their hormones.  He asked who all of these guys are.  I wonder too.  But that would have been AWESOME to know in college.  "Sorry, I'll drive, I'm the pretty one."!

And that's it.  It's random and made me feel good.  Now visit the girl and tell us your Friday feel goods!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

A Terrbile, Cold Death

Well, I knew it would happen.  I saw the signs but chose to ignore them.  I kept thinking maybe this time, it would last longer.  But then, 2 nights ago, it happened.  The evidence was everywhere the next morning. I could see it.  I could smell it.  Most of all, I could feel it.  There was no escaping it.  This was what waited for me yesterday morning.
Summer died 2 nights ago.  A rotten, frigid death.  It's November, so I have no reason to be sad.  I enjoyed far too much of the warm weather, even getting into the 70s last week.  But Mr. Frost came and decorated EVERYTHING overnight, to the point that I had to take a picture because it just looks so fake.  Every leaf was outlined just so.  Every surface had a layer of frost.  The grass was crunchy.

But I'm greedy.  I like it warm but not hot.  I like wearing what I want and not being hot. I like not needing the heat on in the house or at school.   I like running out to The General to get something and not freezing.  I like walking out to get the paper and not seeing my breath.  I like wearing just a top, no jacket, hat or gloves.  I like that my green beans grew right until November this year.

And then to just be a real bitch, Mother Nature made it 50 degrees all day yesterday and all night.  It's 50 right now.  All the green peppers froze and most are inedible ( I KNOW, I am not supposed to have green peppers growing so late in the fall, but they were doing so well!) So, she just tantalized us with frigid air for one night, ruined it all.  But we're all scared.  We are all dressing like it's the arctic.  The heat is on everywhere.  

And I must suffer in this cocoon of too-high-heat and too-warm-clothes, never finding a happy medium until May.  I choose to live in New England, so I have no reason to fuss.  I do love to see the snow and a good snow day is a whole lot of fun.  But all of the cold leading up to it, the dreary days, the wet mud coming into the house is not a whole lot of fun.

As for Daylight Savings, while I hate that I will have to turn on my lights at 5pm next week, I am sure tired of getting up in the dark, so it will be a relief.  I read the other day that sun isn't up until 7:11 and I thought that was crazy but it's really true.  So after Sunday, I'll get up in daylight, but can't ride after 4pm.  That's the biggest tragedy of them all!  This school thing really cuts into my riding time when winter comes!

What do you to do combat the winter blahs? 

Monday, November 1, 2010

Buttons and Bows and a Fab Contest

I think I can, I think I can, I think I can.  I'm going to have a contest.  I'm very excited about it and you will be too.  But I want a button that people can grab.  I understand the need for the code to be there.  I understand how to go grab other people's buttons.  I understand how to go to flickr and get the code to put so someone can see a picture.  But I can't seem to understand how to create my own button, with its own code, to put on my blog.  I've asked around and did some googling and I've been directed to photobucket, photoshop and someone who would make one for me for a fee.

Because I am thrifty, I promised myself and my wallet that blogging would not cost me any money.  So I really want to do it myself.  But on my handy laptop that I won, I don't have photoshop.  I went to photobucket and don't see that it's too different from flickr so I think I must be able to do it on flickr, where I already have an account.

My question for those who are so much smarter than I am, is how do I create a cool button that doesn't have a photograph on it?  I don't want a picture, I want a fun icon, or maybe just text for this first one.   Photobucket seems to think I want to put a photograph on it.  Photoshop would cost money as would a person who can make me one.  I found some tutorials online but I must be defective or just really impatient.

So, if you want to find out what this contest is about, we have to find me a way to make a fun button for free!  Steer me in the right direction, people!!