Monday, February 28, 2011

Goodbye to February

Goodbye February. I must say I am not sorry to see you go. Between snow, vertigo, and cold, this February has been a down period for me. Though there have been high points at well, and I am trying to focus on the positive so we shall talk about those.

(1) My upper level ecology class is really gelling as a group - it's a great group of students and I am so happy to be teaching them.

(2) The crew out at the Nature Sanctuary where I live have been wonderful in keeping my drive and sidewalk snow free.

(3) Yesterday was really cool - the ground still covered in snow, making the lightening from the thunderstorm seem 3x as brilliant.

(4) Nathan bringing me a wing-back chair from the theater department so I can sit with my head resting in my office while having vertigo.

(5) Archery Started Back Up. WOOOOO HOOOOO!!! This makes me so so happy.

(6) Anne picking me up and taking me home from work when vertigo kept me from driving.

(7) My colleague Paul - got me lunch, helped me find the live traps to trap the mice, offered me rides when I needed them.

(8) A successful first Arts and Sciences meeting at my house for SCA.

(9) Family who love me.

(10) Middle Eastern Dance Class

(11) The most beautiful sunset tonight - omg the colors were GORGEOUS

(12) Janelle - who brought me candy for Valentine's Day and let me hang out with her over the weekend

(13) Mea and Don - who came over for sewing one night when I had vertigo and made me dinner.

(14) Mea - who always can save my sewing mistakes. So far anyway.

(15) Seeing possums in my yard

(16) Having facebook friends who will chat with me when I am lonely.

(17) My grad school friends who do the same

(18) Chocolate Ice Cream

(19) Peace and quiet and no one to get angry if I leave wet towels on the floor or put the eggs on the wrong shelf in the frig.

(20) Seeing my SCA friends at the Clothier's Event

(21) Learning cool and amazing things at Clothier's

(25) Don - who helped me out when my Radiator busted.

(26) A surprise email from an old friend.

(27) Being able to go to the store tonight and run errands. I feel like a real human being again!

 (28) The promise of spring seen in the swelling of the buds on the red maple trees.

So see - that averages out to one good thing a day. Spring is around the corner. Life is good, and I think it is about to get better.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Dead Nettle (Laminum purpureum)

There has a been a distinct lack of plant talk on this blog. Time to fix that. Like most of us, I am desperately waiting for spring to come. More so today, as I am looking over the 6 inches or so of snow we got yesterday. It is a very pretty snow, being the first wet, sticky snow we have had. All of the tress and such are encrusted with the snow. I'll try to get some photos of that later. 

As I am longing for spring, I thought I would post about this cute little flower - the dead nettle (Lamium purpureum). Now if you are one of those people who worship in the cult of the lawn, and prefer the boring monoculture of a single grass species in a vain attempt to mimic a golf course, this plant is probably right up there for you with dandelions as a hated plant.*
But for me - I love this little plant. With it's cordate (heart-shaped) leaves and it's little lavender colored flowers that peak through the awnings created by the leaves. For those of us in the Midwest US, tt is one of the earlier blooming flowers in your yard, along with its sister henbit  (Lamium amplexicaule). Henbit has darker green, rounder leaves with deeper purple flowers. Sometimes you will see, early in the spring, a crop field that is covered in purple. It is these guys that are responsible for that effect. 
Both species are members of the Mint Family (Lamiaceae). Like all members of the mint family, they have zygomorphic flowers (i.e. bilateral symmetry), square stems, and opposite leaves. These two species are unusual in that they lack any strong odor like most members of the mint family. Many of our favorite herbs are in the mint family: oregano, basil, thyme marjarom, and of course peppermint, spearmint, chocolate mint, pineapple mint and all the other mints. 

Below is a little montage of photos I took a couple of years ago of Dead Nettle.

* I have very strong opinions about the waste of resources (especially water) and the amount of poisons that are put into lawns to create something completely artificial. Is it really worth poisoning the environment to have a monoculture of grass? And why is it that the monoculture of grass is the ideal for a yard? Why do we have this cult of lawn in America?

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

The Mongols are coming! The Mongols are coming!

Well, they came and went.

About a month ago now, I went to an SCA event called  Mongol Invasion. It was a small event, but fun as it included indoor Archery, the first Archery I had shot at an event since Toys for Tots back in November. As a bonus I got see my friend Angie from college, who happened to live about 4 blocks from the event site. She was very generous in letting Leif, Truetvin, and I invade her house and stay her a couple of nights. She was a gracious hostess and made the most wonderful breakfast and dinner. She ended up coming to the event with her two boys and I hope they had a good time.

Leif was very kind in teaching the boys how to shoot.

As I mentioned above, the archery was indoors and we had to use blunts on our arrows to hit knock down targets from about 20 yards, maybe it was 15 yards I don't remember.

It was the first time I shot my bow in competition. I did not, however shoot my new arrows. Apparently knock down targets are harder on arrows than normal targets. I also finally got a some pictures of my blue dress.

There was also a incident with my blunts getting lost (yeah, I had put them in my purse for safe-keeping but I maintain they were in a different dimensional plane when I looked there for them), but thankfully there were a lot of great people there who let me borrow arrows.

I shot pretty well, for someone who only picked up a bow for the first time back in July. In most of the rounds, whoever shot there targets down first won. I would hit the first couple and then get nervous and lose focus, so I need to work on speed rounds and focusing.

All in all it was a fun day and I meet a lot of new wonderful people. I am especially thankful to Thomas, who when picking teams picked me first, which was a relief as I was certain, being the least experienced archer there, I would be the last kid on the playground.

Thanks to the Shire of Oakheart for sponsoring such a fun event. Can't wait for the archery events to start up in earnest. Leif, not surprisingly, won, though he had some tough competition.

Below are some other random images from the day. 

A happy post

I decided that I needed a happy post on my blog,  but I dont have time for something long and involved. So here is a photo of my favorite mug. While it is not something I would buy today, I have had this since I was a kid and it makes me happy. I LOVED unicorns when I was a girl. 

Sunday, February 20, 2011

@#$^%#**@#($**@ or

 this vertigo really sucks. I have been trying really really hard to do things so that I don't feel isolated and lonely. First I was defeated by the snow. Then my car needed a new radiator. Snow is gone and radiator is fixed. Warm weather this weekend and I am stuck unable to do anything cause of this effing vertigo. I even went the the Doctor, who told me what I already knew, and while he gave me some prescriptions, they have yet to do anything but make me sleepy.

Here is a list of the things I was going to do this weekend that I have been unable to do:
(1) Breakfast and sword-fighting practice (at least one hour)
(2) A recruiting event with some of the best and brightest prospective students who are interested in coming to my school
(3) A sleep-over, trip-planning, sewing extravaganza at my friend Hanne's

and now it is looking like Archery practice is a no go. And not just any archery practice, but the FIRST of the YEAR! I have been itching to get back out on the archery field (or in the barn as the case may be).

This of course doesn't include the other things I must/want to do - clean, get these tests graded, get prepared for class on Monday.

I am trying really really hard to not feel like the universe is out to get me. I am trying really really hard to tell myself that a lot of people have is a lot worse than I do (and I know that they do). I am trying really really hard to have a positive attitude. And I am really really failing. Ok maybe not failing, maybe I would give myself a D+.
It's just, I feel like I have been stuck in 2nd gear for years and can't get out, no matter what I do. And I have done a lot in the last year to try and get unstuck.  Any suggestions?

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Handmade Shoes

One thing for me about being in the SCA is the fun of dressing up in clothes that you don't normally get to wear. A well dressed SCA-ian (which I am working on) pays attention to the small details like the accessories. 

My friends have been wonderful, in that they have encouraged me to make things as "period" as I would like, without being snarky about the fact that I have only been involved in this since July and so don't have the perfect costume. Course I don't think they would be snarky anyway.

My friend Truetvin Engelfinger (hope I spelled that right) is a very skilled leatherworker who decided that I needed some period shoes. So we worked out a trade, he made me some shoes and I made him some mittens. I love the shoes he made for me, the soft black leather, the straps around my ankles, and the pointy toes. And every time I put them on, I am just ridiculously delighted by the shiny gold buckle against that matte black leather. 

I mean how many girls have hand-made (they are all hand-stitched) shoes, cut to fit their foot exactly? They are so comfortable and a delight to wear.

Thanks again Truetvin! I just hope you enjoys the mittens as much as I have enjoyed the shoes.

Here is a photo of the mittens - they are convertible mittens with a sun embroidered on them - the sun being part of his heraldic device.

This was a "warm-up" run for another trade: stranded-color work gloves in exchange for some boots.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Valentine's Day

Last night I was really dreading today, my first Valentine's Day without a significant other. I was prepared to be cynical and morbid all day long. But then something happened. Someone posted a silly meme on Facebook (because really, there aren't any other kinds are there?) about changing your profile picture to one of you and your significant other. And friend after friend did so. So what did I do? I changed mine to the picture of me shooting archery. Why? Because it represents my new life and I began to realized, I am really blessed. I have a lot of great people around me who love, support and care about me.

And so today - I celebrate you all.

My Family

My Dear Long-Time Friends

and My New Friends

I hope you are all having a wonderful day and can celebrate those people who are good in your life. Thank you all for being part of my life and for all of the love and support you have shown me.

p.s. please don't be offended if you didn't make it in my photos, it is not at all an indication of my feelings for you, but rather of my time limitations and the photos I had handy on my computer.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Busy, busy

Still alive, just busy and tired of winter. I survived the blizzard, had my radiator hose blow on me and this morning discovered that it is just a mouse, and not a rodent of unusual size scurrying around my place at night. I am embarrassed to say I screamed when I first saw it, but in my defense, I just woke up. It was awfully cute. So now on top of everything else, I need to deal with the mouse.

School is just a bit overwhelming right now, especially considering the low energy I get with winter. Looking forward to the energy boost I always get as spring comes, the temperatures warm, and life awakens.

I have photos from two SCA events and the blizzard. I have some sewing and crafty things to show.

Sigh, but I guess tonight I will be dealing with the mouse in my cupboard. Anyone have a cat I can borrow?

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Month's end - January

Random Pictures from January that didn't get published.
Starting February off with a Blizzard. I am very excited. It will be my first Blizzard ever. Though, I think I left my camera at school :(. This is a pretty widespread storm - hope all my friends and family stay safe and warm.