Saturday, May 28, 2011

Kermit, it ain't

The question was raised a bit ago, what a "frog" is in reference to flowers and flower arranging. And, although the short answer would simply be that it's something used to make sure that flowers stay where you put them in a vase, I thought a photographic essay might be more interesting.

So here you go...

Some frogs are double-layer discs with holes in them. Ours is a very retro one that my mom got for Christopher. It has a ceramic base, and a bunch of spikes that come out of it which you mount the flowers in.

Oh... Sorry... I promised photos, didn't I?

The frog, itself

which gets put into a flat bowl/vase

and once it's centered and the flowers are ready

you put the firm-stemmed flowers from your garden into it

and adjust them a bit,

and they turn out like this. (Especially if they are put into a Loso bowl.)

Friday, May 27, 2011

Friday Food - The Garden

While we're in Montreal, we've got someone house- and dog-sitting for us. Mostly, she's helping us out with the pooch, but I've asked her to take a pass at watering some of the garden from time to time.

I'm desperately hoping that everything that I put in the ground about 2 weeks ago - and which got massively rained on last weekend - makes it.

I'm especially worried about my tomatoes, beans, peppers, and herbs. As you may remember, last year I had one tomato plant which produced one single tomato. Granted, it was the best BLT I've had in ages, but it was kind of sad to just have one tomato. (For a refresher about that, go here.)

This year, I have 5 tomato plants, which are supposed to be producing a rainbow of colors. But, on Tuesday before we left, I looked and saw that 2 of them looked a little sad. The other 3 looked great. But... without a little help while we're gone, I'm a little nervous.

And I won't even go into any discussion of the zinnias...

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Travel Tuesday - Packing

Vacation is FINALLY here, as of the time this afternoon that the clock at work clicked up to 5:00. And you KNOW that I was on my way out the door before the clock hit 5:01.

I made one last glance to make sure that the 12 pages of basic To-Dos that I had left for the person subbing in for me was on the desk (that covers about 1/3 of my job), and I headed home.

Got home tonight and started figuring out packing. Christopher and I decided that we're going to go with carry-ons only. Which is more of a problem when you have size 12 shoes that you need to pack. But I think I got everything in where it needs to go.

Of course, the best thing about heading to visit relatives in Montreal is that we know where the shops are, so if anything is forgotten at home (aside from a Passport), we know where to get it.

Now we just have to clean the house (so that it's good for the person taking care of the pup for us while we're gone), finish some laundry, and... oh, yeah... try to get some sleep tonight.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Quick Catch-Up

a) From what we can tell, the Rapture did not happen. Or, if it did, at least it wasn't followed by the rolling earthquakes and world-wide destruction. And apparently none of my circle of friends were taken. At least from what we can tell so far.

b) Late last night, while ignoring the budget, jobs, and all sorts of actual major issues, the MN State House of Representatives approved a measure putting the state gay marriage ban amendment to a statewide vote on the 2012 election ballot. Proponents insist it's not about discrimination. I'm not sure how they rationalize that.

c) Minneapolis has had major rain the past couple of days, followed by storms today, which even spawned a tornado in northern Minneapolis. (Seriously - something like 3.5 miles worth of damage and destruction. It's kind of wild to see the images.)

d) Our yard - while luckily completely free of major storm damage - is waterlogged and really sad looking. Hopefully the sun will come out in a few days and everything will perk back up.

e) We found out, yesterday, that all of the work we've been doing with the pup's ears has been working. We were informed by our vet that her ears are "normal" - we were probably more excited by that than the vet expected.

I think that's all of the updates that you've all been waiting for. Let me know if I missed anything.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

To Rapture or Not To Rapture

Okay... You've probably heard all of the hype that some crackpot is pushing about the Rapture happening at 6pm, today. Lord knows that I heard about it over and over and over and over at work over the past few days.

What I find interesting is the number of people who say they don't care, but then are talking about it as if it's a done deal of some kind. Of course, I find that - even more fun - most people have no idea what The Rapture is supposed to be about. There's this weird mix of "It's the end of the world..." and "Everyone who is chosen disappears and we all get to trash the joint."

When I mention things like the "fact" that one of the early versions of the story say that only 10,000 people are supposed to be Raptured (after all, when these tales were starting that was a LOT of people), or the "fact" that - after whoever is going goes - the rest of us just go on about our lives for 1,000 years.

Of course, the crackpot who is pushing this current one (7 minutes from now and counting), says that 200 million people will be taken. The rest of us are supposed to be plagued by rolling earthquakes and destruction. I guess it's good when you can pick or choose your doomsday stories...?

Then there's the whole Biblical point of the idea that we are never to know the time of the next coming, etc. Which would make the whole 6pm-on-the-dot thing kind of an issue.

Either way, I figure I've got another 1,000 years to go. Which is good, because if the world ends 4 days before my first vacation in 2 years, I'd be seriously pissed.

2 minutes to go...

If any of you get (or got) Raptured, I guess my average daily readership will go down. But, yeah, good for you.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Overwhelmed, In An Underwhelming Sort Of Way

Do you ever have days when you're just feeling so overwhelmed that you want to completely unplug? Where deleting your entire inbox sounds like fun, and unplugging every piece of electronics in the house sounds like the best idea in town?

Right now, I have 62 emails in my "not-quite-spam" inbox (16 are unread) which I'm ignoring, and 114 emails in my regular inbox (22 are marked as unread) which I really want to respond to, but have no idea how I can do it. I've also got 7 messages on Facebook that I ought to respond to in the near future.

There are outstanding, semi-open-ended, invitations out in the ether for at least two post-work happy hours, one short road-trip, and - I think - about 4 or 5 dinners.

I've got updates which I received electronically that need to be transferred to my physical address book, two short pieces I need to write up for work, and a load of laundry that I need to fold and put away.

Oh, and I forgot to buy popcorn salt (yes, there's a difference) on the way home from work, today.

So, what did I do this evening? I had dinner with Christopher, then watched a really bad movie in the basement while he watched a much better (I'm pretty sure, at least) movie upstairs.

Writing this posting has taken me about 2 hours, because I keep feeling like I ought to be doing something else.

And I've finally figured out what that something is:

I'm going to bed.

Tomorrow is Friday. Maybe that, in and of itself, will be the incentive I need to clear some of the brain clutter.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Travel Tuesday -- Almost

One week from tonight, Christopher and I will be in the throes of packing. This will be my first actual vacation in about 2 years.

I'm already counting down. At work I've started figuring out who will be covering for me (which means, of course, explaining to someone all of the things that no one realizes I do).

And I've been deciding what to pack. And I got some Canadian money, yesterday.

And I'm stocking up on sinus meds, Dramamine, and under-three-ounce bottles of all of the things I need to take along.

Now all I have to do is survive the next seven days...

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Doesn't My Family Count?

On the news tonight, I've heard about the millions of dollars that are being proposed to be spent on a new Minnesota Vikings stadium. The letter which was sent to all of the state's legislators - and I'm sure read by every single one of them - was sent by the Vikings's owner and his family.

I've heard about the health issues of various sports heroes. We're hearing about the support they're receiving from their families, and the sports leagues are offering their condolences to the players' families.

I've heard about the 2011 fishing opener. And I've gotten to see the stories about families going out together, representing the state as a whole.

It's great that all of these people have families to rely on. Families that their employers, their fans, their hospitals, their legislators, their insurance companies, and their boat ownership titles all consider right and legal.

Online, the news has been different.

Online, people I know are discussing the fact that there's a rally at the MN Statehouse on Monday to try to get the MN State House of Representatives to NOT send forward a proposed state constitutional amendment which would ban gay marriage. Nevermind that the state already has a law banning gay marriage, the Republican-heavy State Senate passed a version of this amendment last week. Apparently they're worried that the law isn't strong enough to truly stop gay marriage from happening. They apparently don't want the stupidity of the past to be able to be overturned by smarter heads in the future. (Because bigotry and hatred is a "good" legacy to leave behind?)

Why does marriage matter? Because, without it, if Christopher or I end up in the hospital, the hospital could legally keep us from seeing each other. Legally, if one of us dies suddenly, the state can take absolutely everything we have and leave the other with nothing. Legally, we are basically unable to do any of the things which were in the news today because - legally - we're not a family.

Lobbyists are spending millions of dollars to get the state legislature to focus on this. They're ignoring larger issues which could actually make the state a better place (like balancing the budget, or working on creating new jobs). In fact, the state House did, today, pass a law allowing the use of "deadly force" to protect yourself - with a registered firearm - in not only your home (that's already on the books), but also in your garage, your car, your tent, or your hotel room.

Apparently giving people the right to kill the maid when she accidentally enters your hotel room is a good thing, while giving Christopher and me the right to a marriage and equal rights and protection under the law is bad?

Where is the right and smart and ethical in that?

Friday, May 13, 2011


I wasn't able to blog last night because Blogger was "read-only" for a time. Which means that some of the things I wanted to say completely went out of my brain, but some of them stuck around. Why don't we see what's there?

1) Yesterday was my parents' 55th wedding anniversary. (Everyone say "hi" to my folks!) Which is kind of cool. They celebrated by taking themselves out to lunch and a movie on Wednesday, then simply spending the day at home, yesterday. I kinda love that that's how they celebrated - low key, just for them.

2) Our yard has started to look spring-y. The tulips are blooming. The irises have started bursting open - enough so that I brought some in tonight. (Yes, Mom, we're using the frog.) I even fertilized the yard tonight since it's supposed to rain tomorrow.

3) In a nod to Friday Food, Christopher and I went out with cousin-friends to dinner last night. We ate at the Uptown Cafeteria. The food was fine, the waitress was incredible. We had a really good time, as we always do when the four of us get together. That's a good feeling.

4) On Tuesday, we had our first tornado warning of the year, complete with 2.5" hail. I was recording "Glee" at the time, and I figured that I probably missed the final 15 minutes of it due to the weather updates breaking in. When I went to watch it, I was surprised that they - the local Fox affiliate - didn't break in. I kept watching and watching, thinking we were about to see - finally - two of the guys dance together at their prom. THAT is when the weather bulletin broke in. I know that they said that it was because the weather was urgent, but I have to admit that I'm leery of that - after all, other networks had broken in MUCH earlier, and some waited until just as their shows' credits started to run. Breaking in at 7:58, just as Kurt was confronting the bully (and apparently danced with Blaine - although I didn't see that), seems a bit suspect. After all, it was FoxTV...

5) I made it through the work week. Some weeks that is worth mentioning.

6) Christopher and I have all of our reservations made for our trip to Montreal at the end of the month. REALLY looking forward to time away, and now that we have a dog-sitter lined up, it's even better.

And, well, that's about it for tonight.

Sorry I missed you last night. I'll be semi-sequestered all day tomorrow working on some editing, so it might be Sunday before I get back. (Wish me luck.)

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Wednesday... What to say?

Some days I'm all set with a focus of what to say when I sit down to write a blog posting. Some days it flows easily and I find myself feeling happy and pithy when I'm done. Some days I simply pause the TV for a couple minutes, write, proofread, and post and go one with my evening.

This is not one of those days.

Here are the three things currently running through my mind:

1) I'm still hurting from my volunteer shift at the Plant Sale last weekend. Not nearly as much as I was on Sunday, not nearly as little as I had hoped I would be hurting by now. Apparently something I tweaked must have contact with a nerve, because my right big toe is currently tingling. Summary: I fear I am getting old this week. Could also be: I fear, this week, I am getting old. Or: This week, I fear I am getting old. Kind of an "all of the above" situation.

2) We had flurries a week ago Monday. Last night we had tornado warnings and 2.5" hail on a day that topped out in the upper 80-degree range. The dog is not doing well with the temperature swing on her walks. Neither are the rest of us. In an attempt to cool off the house (it's 10 degrees cooler outside), I opened some windows. Now it's cooler, but stickier. Summary: Spring kinda sucks this year.

3) The Republican-led Minnesota State Senate approved a measure which would put an amendment to the state constitution onto the ballot (I think in 2012?) making Gay Marriage un-constitutional in the state. It's already against the law in the state, which means that politicians and political action committees in favor of this are going to be spending millions of dollars on campaigns to make - in essence - no changes. (Isn't there a better use for that money?) This on the same week when Minneapolis has just been called one of the "hippest" and "gayest" (two different polls, yet oddly connected) cities in the country. The measure now moves to the State House, where it is expected to pass easily, putting it on the ballot and causing all sorts of rancor and dischord for the next few years. Not sure how that puts us into the "hip and gay" rankings. Summary: Perhaps as I'm looking for a new job, I should be looking elsewhere.

Now I'm going to pour myself a glass of milk (to help my bones and muscles heal), sit in front of the fan, and try to figure out how it is that Iowa is more gay-friendly than Minnesota.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Movie Monday - Prom

Did you even know there is a movie out right now called "Prom"?

I knew about it because the trailer showed up at something else I was watching on my weekly movie night, and we looked at each other and said "Wanna go to 'prom' with me?" So we did.

And, you know, it was pretty much what we expected it to be: another movie about high school students from different sides of the tracks being forced to play nice and ending up going to prom together. (No. That's not a spoiler. And, if it is, then you really need to get out more.)

The surprises came, though, from all of the other characters in the movie. The girl who decides to fall for the nerd. The guy who finally gets to dance. The nerd's best friend (and his mom), who understand. They are the ones who make the movie worth sitting through. Which, I guess, is kind of the same as high school. It's seldom the "leading characters" who make high school a good place to be. It's the average quirky folks who sit on the sidelines.

Overall rating: B. It had good intentions and good ideas. We didn't expect much from it and we got what we expected. But it had more potential than that.

Sidenote: You know you're getting old when, as the cast is scrolling on the screen before the movie, the only names you recognize are the ones of the actors playing parents and teachers. Welcome to my world.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Saturday - Recuperation

Yep. I did my shopping on Thursday, so I had to do my volunteer shift at the Friends' School Plant Sale on Friday night. (Reminder: The Plant Sale runs through tomorrow at the State Fairgrounds - with major discounts as the day wears on.)

Last year when I did the same job ("straightening the trees and shrubs") - which is an outdoor job - it was about 40 degrees and rainy. This year, it was close to 70 degrees and dry. Very nice change. I was looking forward to spending the evening outside simply organizing the flora.

But, you see, last year there were a bunch of us all doing the same job. We had probably at least 4 people all tidying the outdoor area, and when we were done we had done such a good job that they told us to go home early (at 10pm, instead of 11pm when the shift was supposed to end).

This year, there were... well... let me count... zero other people doing the same job I was doing. And, yet, before I got to the end of my area, I was asked to go inside and help unload a massive truckload of Clematis plants that had come in. After which I was back out in the Arborvitae. Having completely finished that area, I was asked to go inside and help tidy the flats (trays with between 12 and 24 small pots each) of plants.

Last time we did that, the "tidying" meant organizing all of the plants in the flats so that they would easier to inventory. This time, it meant moving the flats of plants from the upper shelves to the lower shelves, so that when new stock came in this morning it would be easier for it to be restocked.

If you're paying attention, you know the following things:

1) I'm 6 feet tall.
2) I'm in decent, but not great, shape and don't do a lot of stretching exercises on a daily basis.
3) Trees, shrubs, and flats - most of which have recently been watered - are kind of heavy.
4) Repetitive motion over the course of 3 hours - especially when you're working a range of motion your body isn't made for - is not good.

And, yes, I said 3 hours, not 4.25 hours, which I technically should have been there for. When my back and knees started to scream at me around 9:30, I kept working. But by around 10 - when I'd finished another task and would have had to go ask someone for a new assignment - I gave up and left.

I took a bunch of Ibuprofen last night before bed. And again this morning. This evening, when Christopher and I were out to dinner with friends, I stood up to go use the restroom, and found that my knees almost didn't work. Tonight, I'm asking Christopher to put some stinky muscle cream on my back before bed. I may simply slather it all over every joint in my body.

Needless to say, planting the greenery currently housed in our screen porch is going to have to wait a few days.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Thursday... Shopping...

Well... Not actually shopping, but post-shopping.

I worked and re-worked my plant sale "wish list" while I was at work today, and re-printed the list before I left.

Then I came home, killed a little time and watched TV with Christopher, and headed for the Friends School Plant Sale Volunteer Pre-sale. It was, honestly, the first time I've ever been to the sale to shop. I've been there to set up, I've been there to straighten trees, but I've never been there to shop.

I wasn't entirely sure what to expect. I headed over there to arrive around 8pm, because I had heard that when the Pre-sale starts at 7 there is usually a line and... well... chaos.

I took with me a big plastic storage bin so that I wouldn't have to deal with cardboard flats or a shopping cart. I figured I would carry the bin and fill it, and then quit shopping when it was full.

Of course, the lure of the shopping carts was too strong, so I put the bin into the cart and then started shopping. I had already mapped out my path, so I went straight to work and had checked everything off my list in about half an hour. I deleted a couple of things as I went, and added a couple of things as well. (The four-pack that includes Basil, Oregano, Thyme, and Sage all for $3 was too good to pass up.)

And, yes, I went a little too far. But only a very little. The plants didn't all fit in one layer in the bin, so I put some in the cart. Not wanting to deal with leaving the cart and bringing up my car, I was able to lightly stack them all into the bin for the walk back to my car. Looking it over, I figured I did pretty well. Not too many... Not too few... Just about right.

At least I wasn't one of the people with a three-tier hand-made cart full of plants. Or the people standing in the middle of the aisles with no clue what they were doing. Or the people pushing a shopping cart and pulling a wagon. Or the couples with exhausted-looking kids - each with a flat filled with plants.

When I got home, Christopher came out to see what I had brought with me, and we did some re-tallying. It's kind of an amazing amount of stuff, considering the relatively small cost. I can completely understand why people make this their yearly gardening plan.

(If you're in the Twin Cities, the Friends School Plant Sale runs Friday through Sunday. You can find details about the sale - including pricing and plant photos - at: Oh, and I'll be volunteering in the Trees and Shrubs from 6:45pm on on Friday night.)

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Wednesday... Planning...

Tomorrow night I will be attending the Friends School of Minnesota's Plant Sale Pre-sale. It's an event only open to those people who volunteer to work at the actual Plant Sale - which is the major yearly fundraiser for the school.

A couple (maybe three?) years ago, I found out about this and how much people love to go to the Pre-sale, and so I volunteered so that I could give Christopher's mom the pass to go shop at the Pre-sale. (One of the main perks of the Pre-sale is that you're able to shop for all the things that might sell out. One of the drawbacks is that the place is packed, and only people with a pass are allowed in - which means that you don't get to have anyone there to help haul.)

This year, I found out that Christopher's mom - who shops for rather a lot of plants - finds the Pre-sale kind of a bother because of the crowds and the crush and the fact that people kept sending long lists with her. But I had already made up my mind to volunteer this year, so that meant I already had the Pre-sale pass. And so I decided it was time to dive in and see what happens.

I've been making my list (and checking it twice) for the past few days. I've been adding plants to it and taking plants off of it and multiplying them and debating what I can and can't carry. And what I do and don't want to plant in the next week or so.

Of course, no matter how much planning I do, it could all change when I'm in the heat of the moment tomorrow running around and picking up plants and putting them in my shopping cart.

I'm kind of looking forward to finding out what I bring home tomorrow night.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Movie Monday - The Bad Guy

Do you remember when there were movies where there was one, singular "Bad Guy"?

It was always "The Bad Guy" versus "The Good Guy." And even though The Good Guy always had back-up who took over when he fell, The Bad Guy's backers always scattered as soon as he was down.

In the westerns, when the sheriff shot The Bad Guy, the rest of the posse would ride away, never to be heard from again.

In the fairy tales, when the prince slew The Bad Guy (frequently in the guise of a dragon), no minions rose up to take over - they all disappeared into the shadows so that the prince and his princess could live happily ever after.

In the silent movies, The Bad Guy who had taken all of the damsel in distress's money was given his comeuppance by The Good Guy, sent out of town on the rails, and everything faded to black with a kiss.

The problem is that even in the movies life isn't viewed that way any more. Now, when you kill the Good-Guy-eating alien, there's a whole nest waiting to invade the planet in the sequel. When the zombies (which, honestly, having no conscience probably can't be considered Good or Bad) come after you, you know that there's always the chance one more will show up after you kill "the last" one. It turns out that Darth Vader wasn't the only "Darth" on the block. And the Wicked Witch of the East had an equally wicked sister.

So, as I've been watching the news of the past 24 hours, I've found that I'm not as happy as a lot of the crowds on TV. I'm kind of relieved that this chapter might be over, but I haven't felt like singing and dancing in the streets like the newscasters are showing us. Although, I'm also not going to say that we're bad people for doing it - even the Munchkins rejoiced when the house fell out of the sky - at least for a little while.

It's just not as easy for me to say "The Bad Guy is dead - we're all perfectly safe, now," as it seems to be for some of those people. I can't say The Bad Guy was the only Bad in the world, any easier than I can say that The Good Guy doesn't have help, either.

I'm one of those people waiting for the sequel.

Here's hoping it's a romantic comedy, and not an espionage-suspense-thriller.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Maybe I'm Coming Down With Something

I'm torn between two feelings this evening.

On the one hand, I think I'm probably just tired and not looking forward to the coming work week. I mean... we all know how much I love the work week, right? But this week I've also got something happening almost every night through NEXT Sunday - thinking about which makes me a little "pre-exhausted." And I kind of think that Christopher and I may have gotten mild food poisoning on Friday night because we both felt pretty awful on Saturday (and even missed a concert which we had tickets for). But we recovered pretty well and had friends over for brunch today and had a relaxing afternoon and so I ought to be feeling fine. Except for that whole "Damn. It's Sunday night, already" feeling, obviously.

On the other hand, it was freakin' cold out, today. Our high was somewhere around 39 degrees. On the first of May. When it's supposed to be in the mid-60s. When I took the dog out for a walk this morning, I had the feeling we were walking up along the North Shore in October, instead of in Minneapolis in May. It was chilly and kind of damp and the wind was howling - and although I knew it was chilly out, I was *so* not dressed for that kind of cold. When I took her out this afternoon, I bundled up in a heavier coat and a scarf and - yet - I think I might have caught a chill this morning which it was too late to stave off this afternoon.

So, here it is, bedtime on Sunday night, and I'm stuck between two thoughts: Maybe I'm coming down with something or maybe I'm just feeling very psychosomatically icky.

I should probably take some extra Vitamin C before bed, just in case. After all, even though I'm not thrilled with the work week, the "life week" needs to be prepared for.