Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Gardening update: The thrill of watching things grow


As I write this on Tuesday night, it’s falling into the 30s outside. There’s a freeze warning, with temperatures expected to be in the 20s by morning.
I didn’t get home from the newspaper office until 9:30. Then I went outside to help Larry put a tarp and other protection around our tender plants.
The little green shoots are so pretty.

Radishes and onions in an open part of the raised bed.

On Saturday, April 5, I planted a variety of vegetables, including two kinds of lettuce, two kinds of onions, radishes, carrots, broccoli, and cucumbers.
Larry did the watering during the following week because work kept me inside much of the time.
On Saturday, I checked on the progress of the plants and watered them.
I was so excited to see the little bits of green popping up.

Radishes on Saturday.

Little onions on Saturday.
Lettuce on Saturday.

I know many of you have gardened for years, but it has been a long time since I’ve enjoyed the wonder of planting a seed and seeing something grow from it. It’s a thrill.

Sunday morning, I watered again and thought I noticed a little more growth.
Monday evening, things needed water, but I knew that the forecast was calling for heavy rain overnight Monday into Tuesday. So I just checked on the progress.
And boy, did I see progress. The radishes had grown significantly, and there were more onions popping up.

Radishes on Monday.
Onions on Monday.

Enough lettuce had grown to see the rows that I had laid out.

Lettuce on Monday.

On Saturday, I feared for my broccoli and cucumbers. But by Monday, little shoots were popping up.



Now if they can just withstand any freezing.

Do you like to see new plants popping up out of the soil? What’s your favorite vegetable to grow?

Note: I am still a bit frustrated with my new computer. Bear with me if this page doesn't look like normal!

Monday, April 14, 2014

Challenges with new technology

Hello, dear readers! I hope you are doing well. I have missed you while I’ve been on something of a sabbatical, at least a computer sabbatical.

As I told you last Monday, Larry and I got new computers, pushed into action because of the end of support for Windows XP.
  My new laptop arrived on Wednesday, and I’ve been navigating around Windows 8.1, not always with a smile upon my face.

 I like learning new things. New computers have never frightened me. I’ve managed to learn a lot of new programs over the years.
  My journey started in 1985 when one of my professors during my first semester of graduate studies in English mandated that we learn a word processing program.
  There was a Mac lab in the library, so I decided to learn on the Mac. I sat down with a book and the computer in front of me and taught myself. I’ve been mostly teaching myself ever since on whatever system I found I had to work with.
  I’m learning Windows 8.1, but I’m not finding it particularly intuitive learning. I’m having to search and search for things, including programs I just downloaded.

 I’ve also found that some of my computer accessories are woefully out of date. My camera software downloaded just fine. But for my printer and even my wireless mouse, I had to download updated software from the Internet.
  My Canon scanner is so old, there isn’t any software to download anymore. My go-to program to process my photos is attached to that scanner. So when I need to scan something, or if I want to use that photo processing program, I have to use my old PC.

All my photos are stored on the old PC, too. I will transfer some of them, but for now, I’m keeping most photos on the old PC, which is set up on my desk for easy reach.

 Larry’s new computer won’t be delivered until April 22. So when he needs to get online, he has been using mine.
  I have to admit I’ll be glad when his laptop arrives.
  Larry and I are totally different on the computer. He likes to understand every facet of things and the whys and hows. He likes finding shortcuts and different ways of doing things. He ends up knowing a computer inside and out.
  Me? I just want to get my jobs done.
  We have agreed that it’s not a good idea for one of us to be on the computer with the other one sitting close by watching.
  Of course, these problems and frustrations I’ve had are minor. I am thankful that I have a computer to have problems with. I’m thankful for good Internet connection. I’m thankful for the help Larry has given me when I’ve gotten stuck.
  And I’m thankful for you, dear readers, for sticking with me while I got settled with my new technology.

I’ll be back Wednesday. I have things to share, including how the garden is doing and my experiments with food choices.

 Do you like learning new technology?


Monday, April 7, 2014

The gardening has started

We now have a garden.
On Friday morning, we drove with the trailer to a local business and bought top soil for the raised bed in our backyard.

Besides the soil, we bought seeds. And I got a couple of pair of new gardening gloves.
Back at home, we looked at the big pile of dirt—about three cubic yards of it—and started shoveling.

We filled bucket after bucket and slowly but surely filled up the bed, including the two end spaces.

My gloves helped to protect my hands while shoveling, but they got pretty dirty because I also used them to spread the dirt and dissolve the big clods of soil.

Our muscles were quite sore after all the shoveling, bending and lifting, but we were excited to finally have the makings of a garden.
And it felt so good to be outside and be busy with physically hard but soul-satisfying work.

On Saturday, I planted sweet onions, red onions, two kinds of lettuce, carrots, broccoli, cucumbers, and radishes. As it grows warmer, we’ll plant some other vegetables.

I’m looking forward to seeing what grows and what doesn’t. We’re keeping records so we can learn about what works and what doesn’t.
What we’re really looking forward to the taste of fresh lettuce and onions and other good things.


On another note, I am going to have to take a short break from blogging because of computer issues.
Both Larry and I fell behind in operating systems, and it reaches a critical point on April 8.
Long story short, we ordered new computers. Mine is supposed to arrive on Wednesday.
Until I set it up and gain an understanding of the new operating system, I won’t be able to be online for blogging as easily as I was. So I will probably be absent until at least the end of this week.
I will try to keep up with other blogs as much as possible with my phone, but it’s harder to leave comments using the phone.
Just know that I’m thinking about you and will be back as soon as possible.

Friday, April 4, 2014

It’s gardening time

Last summer, Larry built a raised bed for a garden in our backyard. He fenced most of it in to try to keep deer and other eaters of vegetables from getting all the food.
Then the raised bed sat and waited for spring to come.

Leaves gathered in the fencing during the fall.

Snow surrounded it during parts of the winter, making it look lonely.

But finally warm weather has come and stayed long enough to ready the bed for dirt and seeds. Today we’ll be busy beginning the work that I hope will lead to a nice harvest later this year.
By Monday, we’ll probably have sore muscles. But I’m looking forward to being outside and getting my hands in some dirt.

What will you be spending your weekend doing?

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

A study of periwinkle

Signs of spring have been slow to come in Central Virginia. But on Monday, I found a reminder of the season.

Beside our house, a rock wall was installed in the bank by a previous owner. Someone somewhere along the line planted periwinkle around it.
Every spring, I look forward to the lavender petals.

I liked the following description, written by Alex Niemiera, from the website of the Virginia Cooperative Extension: “The plant produces 1-inch blue-violet flowers in early spring that are noticeable upon close inspection.” Yes, I did have to look closely on Monday to see if the blooms had put in an appearance.

What have you studied outdoors lately?

Monday, March 31, 2014

In the battle against fatigue: Diet

I’ve written lately about my battle with fatigue: a sometimes overwhelming tiredness that I feel that lends itself to lack of motivation and procrastination.

Besides tiredness, I have also been experiencing the following on a regular basis:
*bouts of diarrhea
*terrible heartburn, especially when I eat bread, chicken, or potatoes
*skin irritations

As I said in Friday’s post, my doctor and I discussed my problems with fatigue, and one of the things he suggested was to change the timing of my depression medication.

Another thing we discussed was my diet. I asked him how much validity he put in the idea that one’s diet could affect one’s mental health.
He said he had patients who had changed their diets—mostly giving up wheat and other sources of gluten—who had experienced positive results. In conjunction with medication and/or other treatments, he believed certain changes in diet might help.

I don’t believe in throwing out whole categories of food unless a person has real medical issues. For example, according to the website of the National Institutes of Health,  people who have celiac disease cannot consume gluten because they have an immunereaction to gluten, a protein in wheat, barley and rye.

I don’t have celiac disease. And I don’t have symptoms that are anywhere nearly as bad as those with celiac disease.
But I’ve wondered if I may be sensitive to gluten.
Perhaps it’s really a matter of too many simple carbohydrates. Maybe it’s a problem with wheat.
I already know that milk irritates my digestive system. Cheese and Greek yogurt don’t. I’m allergic to tree nuts.

I decided to try eliminating, as much as I can, gluten from my diet for a week or two to see how I react. It won’t hurt. If I feel better, then I can add back some foods gradually and get a clearer idea of whether or not food is affecting how I feel.

I had no gluten (that I know of) Sunday. For breakfast, I had a cup of Greek yogurt.
For lunch, we ate at our favorite Mexican restaurant. I had beef fajitas and ate just the meat and vegetables and a little of the beans. I didn’t eat the tortillas.
For dinner, I had the salad pictured above: Romaine lettuce, carrots, red kidney beans, apples, and pickled beets. After I took the photo, I added cheddar cheese and some tuna salad that Larry had made. I also added balsamic vinaigrette dressing after making sure it didn’t contain wheat.

No heartburn. No digestive issues. It’s too early to tell about the tiredness.

I am motivated to try this. Saturday was a bad day for me digestively. I knew what had caused at least of the problem: I had eaten some doughnuts.
As I lay down to rest, I decided that I’d had enough of feeling so bad. I needed to find out how to help myself.
Right now my plan is to stay away from gluten and to follow the new medication timing.

Have you ever found that a certain food, or group of foods, negatively affect how you feel?

Friday, March 28, 2014

Chase Bird, basketball and a haircut: Random 5 Friday

Happy Friday! I hope you’re doing well, dear readers, on this last Friday in March. Is it just me, or does this year seem to be flying by already?
One of the best things about Friday is being able to join Nancy at A Rural Journal for Random 5 Friday. I hope you will visit Nancy HERE and find other bloggers who are sharing their randoms.

Chase Bird relaxing on Larry's lap.

Chase Bird seems to be feeling better. It’s not that he had been sick. But he seemed subdued and was licking his fur a lot, enough to leave some bare spots.
He wouldn’t eat the hypoallergenic food, so taking that route to see if he had a food allergy didn’t pan out.
We are sticking to a few tried and true foods that don’t upset his stomach.
Larry and I have both noticed that he seems to be licking less. Fur is growing back in.
And he is playing more. I love to see (and hear) him galloping around chasing a stuffed mouse or other toy. He likes us to throw the toy out ahead of him so he can chase it and catch it.
I hope he has settled into his new life enough to feel less stressed. He is such a sweet boy.

Chase Bird snoozing.

Can you stand me writing about basketball a little more? Virginia plays Michigan State tonight in the NCAA college basketball Sweet 16. Michigan State will be a formidable foe, but I am hoping Virginia will win. Go ‘Hoos!

I got a haircut on Thursday. Larry had an appointment, and we see the same stylist. We were going to Lynchburg together—I had a doctor’s appointment—and I suddenly got an urge to do something with the shaggy mop I had been sporting. So I called up Jenny, who said she could fit me in.
She just trimmed it and cut some layers around my face. I want to keep it long enough to put up and braid.
She made it look so much better. I wish she could show up at my house every morning and style my hair for me.
I took a couple of selfies to try to show you the newer look, but they didn’t turn out well enough to share. I’ll blame it on the cell phone.

A random photo of Larry walking along the Staunton River in early February.

My doctor’s appointment was at 12:15. The doctor called me back at 1:15.
When I arrived, I was told he was running behind about 40 minutes. Could I wait? Yes, I told them. I came too far not to wait.
It takes me 45 minutes to drive to his office. That’s not terrible, but it’s in an out-of-the-way part of Lynchburg and the traffic to get there can be heavy.
He was running more than 40 minutes behind, obviously, but my irritation was outweighed by the fact that he’s a terrific doctor.
But I set my next appointment in the morning. I’ll be his second appointment of the day. He can’t be too far behind by then.

My doctor and I discussed several options to try to combat my tiredness. One of them is to take my depression medicine in the evenings instead of the mornings.
Seems simple enough, and I’m anxious to see if I notice a difference.
I usually take my medicine right after I get up in the morning. But an hour or two after I get up, I have been experiencing such fatigue that I feel like I could go right back to bed. I’ve wondered if it was the medicine, since I take a higher than usual dose.
I also don’t sleep well at night. I wake up every one or two hours.
So I hope to see good results from this small change. I’ll be working on some other changes, too, that I hope to share about soon.

Have a wonderful weekend!