August 26, 2014

Life as a dog parent

So. Two months later…an update on doggie ownership.

To start things out, I just want to say that whenever I feel really crummy about something that June does, I read this post and it never fails to cheer me up. Because Allie gets it – dog ownership. How it’s insane and also rewarding.

As I mentioned, June started out being very shy and submissive. After about two weeks, she warmed up to life with us and started showing more of her sparkling personality.

First, the bad:

  • She doesn’t like the existence of other dogs. At first, I thought this was limited to smaller dogs – she got a bit snippy with a neighbor’s dachshund while I was walking her one night. However, it didn’t bug us too much. She had interacted with bigger dogs and done really well. I don’t know if she was just scared out of her doggie mind for the first few weeks, but suddenly, she was a maniac to deal with in crowds with other dogs. She still retained her hatred of tiny yappers, and she also decided that bigger dogs needed to be sniffed/corralled/bullied. This made for a very embarrassing first trip to the dog park in which she would randomly bark/growl/lunge at any and every other dog and then whine pitifully when we held her back. Yeah. Thankfully, some friends of ours have a lab mix that’s just a bit bigger than her who offered to let June have a sort of “play date” and work out some of her craziness around other canines. There was some growling/snippiness at first, but then eventually June calmed down and they ended up playing with each other for a solid hour. It was reassuring to find out that our dog is not inherently doomed to behave like a mad woman around other pets. Since said play date, she’s been a bit better. Now I think she looks at other dogs as potential playmates and tries to initiate a wrestling match.
  • She looses her mind around critters. We noticed this from the get-go; the abundance of squirrels in our neighborhood had the potential to turn her from a well-behaved pup into a mindless killing machine. It’s only gotten more entertaining. The first real time it became a problem was the Saturday morning that she ran a muck through the neighbor’s backyard, bolted to the front, and proceeded to chase some bunny/squirrel/chipmunk through our entire block with gleeful abandon while I stumbled after her in my pajamas, profoundly grateful that we don’t live on a busy street.  She jumps at tree trunks. She pulls on her leash so hard that she ends up standing on her hind legs and hopping like some strange, awkward rabbit. She even tried chasing a deer while I was running with her. A deer. Seriously, what was she thinking she would do if she caught the thing?! Once, while driving on a dirt road on our last vacation, she saw a chipmunk cross in front of the car. She jumped from the backseat onto the dashboard. Good thing we were crawling along at 5mph.  
  • She pulls like a sled dog whenever we walk her. Which would be awesome if she was one. But she’s not. And I mean, I get it. She’s 32 pounds of muscle, energy, and independence. Imagine if you were bred to roam the wilds of Australia without much direction and keep unruly cattle at bay. You probably wouldn’t want to heel nicely either. Thankfully, we did discover a method for keeping her in check. Basically, we keep the leash short and take long steps in front of her. This usually calms her down and gets her to stay right alongside of us. Now if only she would do that naturally instead of lunging forward from one tree to the next at six in the morning when I’m trying to stop and pick up her poop…
  • She gets chewy. Nothing terrible. She hasn’t demolished any shoes or valuables or anything. But she does have her days where, for whatever reason, she gets anxious or bored and goes after something. The most willing victims have been the couch pillows. She likes to knock them on the floor when we’re not home and play with them. She ended up tearing up the covers I made for the ones on the white couch. We do our best to leave her with plenty of chew toys, and now we’ve taken to putting the couch pillows out of her reach when we’re gone during the day. For the most part, this works.

So, all of that aside, owning a dog is really, really wonderful. Here are some of the awesome things about it:

  • She loves people. Even if other dogs aren’t her thing, nothing makes her happier than being in a big group and getting lots of attention/pets. She’s very calm, doesn’t jump, doesn’t lick compulsively, and never shows the least bit of aggression.
  • She’s a fantastic running partner. Even though gets easily distracted by any poor rodent in the general vicinity, her endurance amazes us. She never lags or falls behind. On the contrary, she’s usually the one setting the pace. It’s so nice to have a little friend along with me when I go out for a jog.
  • Car rides aren’t an issue for her. On the contrary, she loves them. We took a long road trip around Lake Michigan recently and she did great. If we walk by the car and have a door open, she jumps into the backseat on her own. And she does this while we’re driving, which is highly entertaining:
  • She’s a great camping dog. She sleeps at our feet in the tent and hang out around the campfire without any issues. I think she actually prefers camping – it makes her feel more like a “wild dog” being outside all of the time. She also does this cute thing where she digs a little hole for herself in the dirt and curls up in it:
  • She’s a canoe champion:
  • We know our neighbors better because we’re out walking her all the time. Seriously, if you want to meet the people that live around you, get a dog. I feel like we’ve connected so much more with the folks in our neighborhood because everyone wants to meet our dog. For the most part, I think it breaks down barriers. People view you in a warmer light when you’re out with your pup. The kids all know June by name and come over in our yard to say “Hi” whenever they see her. It’s great.
  • She’s so excited to be with us. Her little tail stump goes crazy whenever we walk in the door, or when we wake up to take her for a walk. It’s such a good feeling, knowing that your pet is always there to greet you and roll around ecstatically no matter what kind of a day you’ve had or what kind of a person you’ve been in that day. She keeps us company if we don’t feel good or if we’re tired or sad. She hangs out in the yard while we work in the gardens. She sleeps at the foot of our bed every night. It gives you a whole multitude of warm feels to have such a sweet little friend hanging out around your house all the time. Totally makes up for any of her craziness.

Thanks for being our friend and putting up with all of our weird antics, June Bug. Hopefully we’ll have many more years of car rides, camping, jogs, and canoe trips.

June 23, 2014

You’re goin’ to Jackson? Go comb your hair!

This post really has nothing to do with hair combing or the city of Jackson…but, to make the title a bit more relevant, here is an interesting factoid about our household: neither human resident brushes their hair on a regular basis. I have dreadlocks and Boo keeps his remaining hair cut short. Once in awhile, I use a boar-bristle brush to distribute oils through my bangs in between washings, but the cat and the newest addition (already born) addition to our family are getting more combing and brushing than the two of us are.

In other words, we finally got a doggie friend for Clarice. At least that’s what we keep telling ourselves; in reality, we got a doggie friend for Boo and I that the cat is only mildly interested in. Meet June Carter:

June Bug #littledoginthebigcity

She’s a one-year-old Australian Cattle Dog, adopted from the Ozaukee County Humane Society Saturday afternoon. As with most endeavors we take on, we’ve (umm, Jason) spent quite a bit of time laying the groundwork for bringing a new resident into the homestead. We read some dog training books. We made sure a neighbor was available to let her out on days where we’re gone longer than the normal working hours. We researched a few different breeds. And then came the fun part – we started looking!

We knew three things: we wanted to adopt from a shelter, we couldn’t do a puppy at this point in our lives, and we wanted a dog that was “mostly” a working dog – shepherds/collies were our top picks. I say mostly because adopting from a shelter means that there’s a very good chance that you’ll get a mixed bag, which we were fine with.

In terms of breed, we felt that working dogs were a good middle-of-the-road way to go. They’re loyal, smart, built for running and endurance, but don’t have the crazy amounts of energy like setters or labs. I am not a drooling/wiggling/constant peeing/general obnoxiousness fan, though Jason might have been a bit more tolerant of that type of behavior.

We stopped by the Milwaukee branch of the Humane Society once a week for about a month and didn’t really see anything that appealed to us. We DID see quite a few pit bulls/pit bull mixes, which is pretty sad. Some of them looked like genuinely sweet dogs. I think that if this hadn’t been our first dog and if we didn’t have a baby on the way, we might have considered adopting one. Maybe somewhere down the road. It’s a shame that they’ve gotten such a bad reputation and been branded as something that they don’t have to be – pit bulls, with the right training and a good household, can be just as good a dog as any other breeds.

Anyway, we didn’t have big plans for the past weekend, so we decided to make the most of our Saturday and visit a few neighboring shelters. The Ozaukee County branch had a whole new batch of puppies, some that were older (10-11 months) and fit out breed preferences. The one that we had our eyes on in particular – an 11-month old Shepherd pup- had just been adopted right before we came. We ended up seeing two dogs to start out with. We had a few more on the list, but basically fell in love with the first one we met, and ended up taking her home, giving her a red bandana, and renaming her June. We’re big fans folk music fans, and June was our first choice for a girl. If we have adopted a boy, we would have called him Woody Guthrie.

Nap time. #littledoginthebigcity

(On a funny note, the second dog was an older puppy who, upon entering the meet-and-greet-area, went insane, peed everywhere, jumped in said pee, rolled in said pee, and sent me to the bathroom with wash off my hands and sandals. Jason liked her energy. I thought she was cute, but the constant peeing was too much.)

I think we initially envisioned ourselves getting a larger dog (more like a German Shepherd size), but while we don’t typically make a quick decision like we did, neither of us regret going with the first dog we met. June is amazing. She was a stray from Kentucky, and came without a tail or much information. However, all she wanted to do when we met was nuzzle up to us. No drooling, no compulsive peeing, no jumping, no general mayhem. She’s actually very, very submissive; we’ve already learned that the best route for training her is lots of positive reinforcement as she ends up cowering and shaking when we speak sternly to her or try to guide her physically. Poor girl, who knows what her life was like as a stray.

Squirrel! #littledoginthebigcity

She was just spayed the day before we adopted her, so we’ve been keeping her exercise down to walks around the neighborhood. BUT – when she’s all healed up in a week or so, we’re both really excited to RUN with her! We’ve jogged a few laps in the yard, and as is her instinct as a herding dog, she stays right by our side like a champ. We don’t even need to leash her at home – she thinks of people as her “herd” and doesn’t let us get more than a few feet away. Of course, we leash her on walks just in case she gets curious and goes too close to the road. Cattle dogs are also said to make very good hiking partners because of their high endurance. We’ve yet to introduce her to water, but we’re also hoping she’ll make a good canoe dog.

She’s met most of our neighbors, including the toddler across the street and their lab/shepherd mix, and so far she gets along really well with everyone. Which makes us feel even better about our choice – we’re hoping that introducing her to the Smithling when it comes along will be a piece of cake. Another “sheep” for the herd, you might say ;)

Of course, she’s not without some flaws. Like I mentioned, she has some shy, cowering behaviors that I think will take some time to get over as she gets more comfortable with us. She wouldn’t eat or drink much for the first day, and it takes her awhile to do her duty outside because she gets anxious. Boo tried roughhousing with her the other afternoon, and it didn’t go well. She got so scared that she piddled a little. She’s done that a few times since then when she’s very nervous, but nothing I’m too concerned about.

Also, she has NO interest whatsoever in toys. We picked up a Kong, a bone, and some tennis balls and even the bone isn’t appealing to her. So, our mission, aside from helping her feel more comfortable with us, is to teach her to fetch. Because working dogs are so intelligent, they need some sort of mental stimulation in addition to physical exercise to keep them happy. Maybe if we fill her Kong with the right kind of treats, she’ll show some interest in it and even chase after it.

And for those of you who were curious about how Clarice took to her new housemate…she’s doing way better than we thought. They’re not friends, by any means, but they’re not enemies. Clarice spends a lot of time in the same room as June, just watching her. On occasion, she’ll creep up to her and take a sniff, as if she’s still trying to figure out what this other creature is. Mostly, she just flops on the ground and looks at us resentfully, as if she can’t believe we brought another animal into HER house.

June couldn’t really care less about the cat, which is a relief. I was a little worried that a herding dog might chase the cat around the house and make her life miserable, but she hasn’t done anything like that yet.

So, to close out this absurdly long post about our new canine, I’ll leave you with two interesting/funny pieces of information:

  1. Australian Cattle Dogs are a result of drovers breeding their herd dogs with dingoes back in the late nineteenth century. The ones with the all grey-and-white coloring are referred to as “Blue Heelers” due to the bluish tinge of their fur. June has a little patch of this on her chest :)
  2. In the absence of having a tail, June shakes her entire rear end when she’s excited about something. It’s so, so cute.

 

June 2, 2014

We made a thing

It’s no secret that Boo and I like to create stuff together. We’ve made gardens, cabbage frames, woodworking projects, lots and lots of meals…

But this one probably tops them all.

So, now you all know why I’ve been a little quiet these past few months. When I’m not working, trying to get everything planted, or editing my story, I’m trying to get good sleep and figure out what still tastes good to me and what doesn’t. Thankfully, my first trimester is a thing of the past. I’m 15 weeks along and feeling much better. Now, if only I get the weeds in my garden under control…

I’ll be posting some thoughts on the craziness of pregnancy and motherhood over at my other blog, so check them out if you’re interested.

Here’s to a crazy new adventure for us!

 

May 20, 2014

Fresh Spinach…finally!

Remember this?

Yeah. I do. I tried planting another round of greens in the fall but winter came so soon that they never got very big. So, aside from a bag of spinach from my dad’s garden, I never got a fresh salad last year.

This spring, I noticed that the spinach I planted in the fall had somehow lasted through the winter and was growing quite well. After a few weeks of sporadic warm weather, it looked like this:

I picked one of the two rows and we ate fresh salads all week! After last year’s disastrous attempts at growing greens, I was ecstatic.

As if that wasn’t enough, I had gone fishing with my dad the weekend before and had a couple pounds of walleye fillets that we ate with the salad. I also made fried potatoes – obviously, those were store bought.

It’s great that two things I really enjoy doing – fishing and gardening – produced such a delicious meal. Mmm. I would eat this every night, if I could.

April 30, 2014

Goodbye, Beige

You would think that with our never-ending winter, we would have started work on painting the hallways of our house sooner…but no, we waited until the past month to finally get around to it. Well, better late than never.

Because nothing makes me happier than covering up dingy neutrals with BRIGHT white.

The downstairs hallways by our bathroom, the stairway, and the upstairs hallway that connects our sewing room and our guest room was painted in a nice, neutral beige. I really didn’t mind the color that much, except that it clashed with the more “primary” look of the rest of the house and it was starting to get stained and gross.

We attacked the downstairs hallway first and had a minor battle with each other over the color of the doors. Jason wanted all brown, I wanted all blue. This was our compromise:

We finally made time to paint our downstairs hallway. I can't believe how much better it looks. Also, my husband is the trim whisperer. Seriously, he never ever uses tape and the lines come out perfect every time.

Once we saw how good it looked, we resolved to do the rest. It took us a few weekends to finally finish – I just put the upstairs hallway back together Thursday night. There was quite a bit of crappy wood trim up there that needed to be sanded and primed before we could paint it.

Finally painting the upstairs hallway. That blue door blows my mind.

The next big hold-up was trying to track down one of those special ladders that would allow us to reach the high ceilings of our stairway. Jason finally rigged up a contraption with our wooden folding ladder, his steel extension ladder, and some four-by-four posts. Needless to say, I let him do all of the painting that involved standing on the posts ;).

Getting there...

Now, I love me some bright white, but once we got in on all of the walls we both felt that it was a little overwhelming. We decided to continue with the green from our living room on the right wall of the stairway, and I’m so glad that we did! I love how clean and crisp it looks with the white.

GREEN in our stairway! I love it.

Then, it was just adding the last few coats to the upstairs hallway. We continued with the brown and blue trim, and did the half-wall in green chalkboard paint. Once I have some spare daylight hours I’ll take pictures of the finished product.

Getting there...just a couple more coats on the baseboards and a coat of chalkboard paint on the green half wall.

Even though painting is quite a bit of work, I’m always amazed at what a difference it makes. We’ve painted almost every room in our house, with the exception of the basement, bathroom, and kitchen. The bathroom and kitchen we might remodel at some point, so we’re leaving those two alone for now. The basement would be fun to paint, but it’s really not a priority at the time. Maybe someday. I’m a fan of warm reds in basements, so maybe we’ll go that route when we get around to it.

 

April 28, 2014

A little dirt

While I’d love to be able to say that spring has finally arrived in Wisconsin…the best I can do right now is say that the snow finally melted ;). And, if we’re lucky and the sun is out, Boo and I can manage to emerge from our back door and get some yard work done. Because, you know. Summer will come, someday. I’d like to have some seeds in the ground for when it actually does arrive!

Sitting on the porch swing waiting for my dirt to arrive!

A photo posted by hannajosmith (@hannajosmith) on

This year, I’ve made the choice to cut back on a few extra spring activities – I will not be assisting with managing the community garden, and I’ll be working less weekends at the flower nursery. I decided to do this because I really wanted to focus on getting our edible garden dug, laid out, and amended. If you recall, last year we started breaking sod for the ultimate garden plan. Winter came up so quickly that we only got a little over halfway before the ground froze.

All winter, I re-evaluated the success of my first full gardening year. I had decent harvests in some areas, mediocre in others, and downright terrible in the rest. I knew that with so much new garden, the soil would be lacking the texture and nutrients that it needed. Milwaukee soil is notoriously heavy and depleted – growing a carrot in newly broken garden is pretty much impossible.

So, I decided that the best plan would be to bite the bullet and pay to have some good soil hauled in. I shopped around, had a hard time finding a place that would deliver, and finally was able to track down 4 yards of topsoil/compost blend for a reasonable price. I wanted to get it on the garden before I started planting, and I wanted to start planting, so we had to hurry up! I scheduled the delivery for Saturday.

Friday night, Jason went out to till under the winter cover crops, only to find out that the throttle on my little monster wouldn’t engage. Bummer. He took it in right away the next morning to a local repair shop, and they think that the gear box is worn out. Even though the engine is still in great condition, replacing the gear box would cost more money than the tiller is worth. I guess that’s the risk when you buy used. We ended up renting a newer model for a couple of hours so we could get the dirt worked up. Jason had some indoor projects to take care of and so I put on my rubber boots and tore it up.

Happiness is a freshly tilled garden #spring #littlehomeinthebigcity

A photo posted by hannajosmith (@hannajosmith) on

I finished just before the topsoil was scheduled to arrive. While on the phone with the delivery company, we got our second tough piece of news for the day: they weren’t comfortable driving across the lawn because of the risk of getting stuck. They would have to dump all of the soil in the driveway and then it would be up to Jason and I to haul it in wheelbarrow loads back to the garden. Well, it’s a good thing we’re both young and healthy….

When I started hauling the first, I realized that it would make more sense to actually section off the shape of the gardens, including the center feature for my strawberry patch. That way, I wouldn’t be putting down my precious topsoil on areas that would be pathways.

Progress on the ultimate garden plan. Middle section will be y strawberry patch! #littlehomeinthebigcity

A photo posted by hannajosmith (@hannajosmith) on

Jason had mapped out the dimensions of the gardens last fall, based off of the design I had in mind. Using his blueprints, I scrounged up whatever stones I could find around our property and framed in the center bed. Then, I started filling in the other sections with topsoil. Long term, we’ll edge them with pavers bricks or field stone. We don’t have much in the way of spare rocks in our area, other than the little ones that get dug up when we break sod, so we’ll have to keep our eyes open for discarded stone piles when we’re driving.

You guuuuys. My dream garden is really happening!

A photo posted by hannajosmith (@hannajosmith) on

Jason came out and helped me after I finished the first big triangle and the center garden. Things went much, much faster after that – he can fill the wheelbarrow with twice as much dirt as I can! I also moved the cabbage frame, for the time being. I was having problems with it being against the neighbor’s fence because the weeds would grow up in between her fence and the frame, and I could never get at them. Obviously, once we build a real fence around the whole garden, I won’t need the frame at all.

It’s still very “half-finished”, but I’m already in love with it. It’s so amazing to see my dream garden actually coming to life. We still have about a yard and a half of topsoil under the tarp in our driveway, and we’re hoping that it will be enough to fill in the rest of the sections once we get the sod lifted.

Before the sun set, I planted my potatoes. I didn’t add the amendments to the raised bed – the soil in there is actually looking really good this year. I filled the whole thing with potatoes – six pounds total. It’s a mix of red and whites, all of them ready for harvest at different stages. I intend to feed us potatoes all of next winter.

The next day, once the rain stopped, I put on a few layers and ran outside to seed some of my early crops – peas, carrots, beets, chard, arugula, spinach, and radishes. I’ve hard a hard time with most of these varieties due to our heavy, lean soil, but I’m hoping that this year will be different. I would really enjoy a skillet of sauteed beets or a huge salad with fresh peas and radishes. Now, if only it would warm up in Wisconsin…they’re predicting highs in the mid-forties all of next week. Welcome to May!

P.S. Sorry about my weird Instagram embedding. I’m having a hard time getting my photos to link from my Flickr account, which is how I normally embed them. They keep showing up too small.

January 17, 2014

Remember when?

I used to actually blog?

The ironic part is that I’ve been editing a novel instead of writing a blog. Yes, the writer doesn’t have time for writing.

I would like to get better about it, especially now that I’m ramping up for the 2014 garden season. Soon, I’ll have to place my seed order and then it really won’t be long before I start my onions.

Suffice to say, this has been a pretty intense winter so far! The snow started back in November:

Guess I should have taken the laundry off of the clothesline. Anyway, it just kept going. At first, we liked it – we were excited to have a white Christmas for once! Usually, the snow doesn’t stick until the lake cools down – about mid-January.

Jason’s probably shoveled more snow in the past two months than he did all of last winter. Suffice to say, it gets old after awhile. Case in point:

This was after a very cold run that we took in Brown Deer Park on Christmas Eve. The moisture from his breath/sweat froze right on him. This just might be the cover of our Christmas card next year…

Along those lines, we had a lovely holiday.

Being a part of a home church is more like having another family to be around. It’s a beautiful mix of being very festive and also very wholesome. We did a Christmas Eve-Eve service at our house on the 23rd, with just a handful of people who could make it. Awkward bumbling through Christmas carols and discussions about the stark contrast of the over-commercialized, over-purified versions of celebrating that time of year vs. the reality of the Messiah being born to an unwed, pregnant teenager ensued.

 

For our December service project, we gathered together (in a snowstorm) to assemble sandwiches and make cookies for a local men’s shelter. This is what happens when you have graphic designers frosting cookies:

Overall, there was much baking and merry-making to be had.

However, we were both relieved when the holidays were finished. As much as we love our family and friends, as introverts it gets to be really exhausting to run around from house to house and have so much stimulation. If I was at your house at some point over the Christmas/New Year period, please don’t be offended – chances are that I had a wonderful time. But, I have to be real and admit that too much activity wears me out, especially when it’s almost three weeks of it.

Which mostly brings us up to date. We’re now enjoying a fairly quiet January, getting a kick out of the birds that hang out in our Forsythia bush all day and the cat who will stop at nothing to keep tabs on them:

Jason bought me a gallon of safflower seeds for the bird feeders as a Christmas gift because apparently, the squirrels don’t like it. So far, it’s worked! We’ve seen lots of birds at the feeders and no greedy squirrels:

Other than wildlife viewing and editing, I’m drawing silly pictures, working on applications for going back to school (what? Yes. More on that later) and making giant pots of soup. Jason is finally getting comfortable enough with his table saw to use it, and is planning on purchasing the wood for building a workbench this weekend. We have some weekend trips planned to various Wisconsin locales, and at some point we intend to paint the hallway.

And now that we’re all caught up, let’s hope that I blog on a more regular basis and don’t have to bombard you all with these types of posts…

In other words, happy winter from Milwaukee!

Christmas Card-3

 

October 26, 2013

Service – Home church style


The above image is a photo of a stained glass window in Glasgow Cathedral. There was a whole series of windows based off this passage in Matthew 25. It was the most beautiful part of the cathedral, in my opinion.

We keep things pretty informal in our House Church, but one of our three values is service. As such, we try to dedicate at least one night every couple of months to a service project. We’ve cleaned out an inner city ministry space, served a meal at a men’s homeless shelter, done a food sort at Hunger Task Force, assembled backpacks full of Christmas gifts for foster kids, and I even enlisted everyone to help do some maintenance on the community garden last spring.

Because our group has grown over the past year to almost 20 people, we have decided to break off into smaller groups twice a month for more intimate discussion times. The other two weeks, we all meet together for service, a potluck, or Communion/prayer/worship. We re-did our schedule a little bit earlier this fall and decided to try doing service once a month instead of bi-monthly.  I love this about our house church, but we do have a little bit of difficulty finding projects on a Monday night that can accommodate up to 17 or 18 people.

One of our members had an awesome idea that was perfect for our group. She recently had an uncle that went to prison, and she suggested that we all write letters to him for her to send out one at a time so he would have something to look forward to for awhile. This felt like a very tactile way to live out some of the principles of Matthew 25. We decided to do that, and then write additional letters to friends or family that we’d been thinking of recently.

So we invited everyone up to the North side of the city, put the kettle on for tea, and set up stations all over our house for letter writing. It was a blast. It was really cool to walk through my house and in almost every room find a group of people writing letters to someone in prison. Having this community means so much to Jason and I, and we often feel like some of our favorite times together are when we serve as a group.

October 24, 2013

I’m digging, I’m searching right through that luggage…

I for sure just referenced a rap song in my title.

Anyway, gosh, where have we been? In Milwaukee, mostly. Playing disk golf and enjoying piling our friends into our cozy house on the weekends. Watching a couple from our house church get married and then getting our groove on at the reception. Because the church that dances together stays together, right?

I’ve also been feeling pretty inspired to write. Obviously, not blog posts. But I’ve parked myself on the couch or at Colecterra* pretty much any chance that I have some free time because, well, I’m writing a novel. That feels weird to say. I don’t really have any intent of submitting it for publishing, but for me to even undertake such a huge project is kind of empowering. I’ve written 12 chapters. And honestly, I could write 12 more. It’s gotten to be that engaging for me.

We have another HUGE project that’s taking up all of our free daylight hours:

That’s right, the vegetable garden is growing! Boo mapped out the dimensions of it and helped me create a final design. I’ll scan it and post it here at some point, but to give you some idea of what it will look like, we’re going to create a large rectangle at the ground level. It will expand from the eastern edge of the existing raised bed to the compost bin and have a circular feature in the center. I’d like it to be a multi-level thing, with strawberries on the bottom tier, pollinator-attracting flowers in the middle, and some sort of trellis or spire on the top. Or maybe a blueberry bush. For right now, I’m just going to work on cultivating the strawberries along the border of the circular garden, leaving the middle open for future building up. The remaining garden will have pathways laid out diagonally. Essentially, I’ll have four large triangles for vegetables.

I’m still debating about it, but I may use the existing raised bed exclusively as an herb garden. Again, I’d like it to have a few different levels and look like more than just a big box. Also, some herbs can spread too easily and will need to be contained in their own separate boxes anyway. We’ll see!

Eventually, we’re going to fence the whole thing in to keep out the hungry bunnies. This will also allow us to build in some garden benches and trellises.

In the meantime, we are quite busy DIGGING! It’s hard work! Boo’s been doing most of the sod-breaking because he wants to dig down deeper and move the sod to some bare spots we have near the house. We joke that he’s working at Jason’s Sod Farm. Anyway, digging that deep requires lifting heavier shovelfuls and I’m just too scrawny!

So, I’ve been keeping busy by cleaning out the old plants and then going through the whole thing with my trusty rototiller. After everything is cleared out, I’m going to seed most of the garden in winter cover crops.

It’s  big chore, and we very well don’t get everything done before the ground freezes. We still have to rake/mulch leaves, clean the gutters, and wash the windows before it gets too cold, and we only have so many hours of daylight. But I’m already so amazed at how big the garden has become. I can’t wait to see the whole thing in action!

*Our local coffee chain, Alterra, recently changed their name to Colectivo. While I respect their reasons for doing it, I’m not personally a big fan of the new name. So, to rebel a little bit, I often refer to it as Colecterra or Altivo.

October 4, 2013

The Quest for Clean – Paper Trail

Because I never really had settled into a “permanent” home, I always had some stuff that I stored at my parent’s house. Most of these things were boxes of notebooks from Jr. High and High School, or research papers from college. I brought a couple back with me over the summer and looked through them. What I found was a lot of really dramatic, poorly-written poetry from ages 15-18, taking up space in spiral-bound notebooks.

Now, I personally believe it’s important to keep some record of these things. They’re a reflection of who I was at that point in life. As awful and embarrassing as some of that stuff is, I wouldn’t want it to disappear from the planet forever.

So, I made a decision that I’m really pleased with: scan all of those pages, and then shred and compost the actual physical notebooks. No physical space taken up, and plus I get some carbon for my compost pile out of the deal! I’ll be doing the same with my college papers. Again, they’re something that I want to be able to access but not necessarily something I need to have taking up space in my home.

The one thing that I’m fine keeping “in the flesh” are my journals. I kept a journal all through high school, and still do at times. I often put thought into purchasing a journal, and I actually like to be able to hold them in my hands and re-read them. Those are sort of scattered all over at this point, and I’d really like to have them all together in one dedicated spot.

What about you? What do you do with your papers?

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