Thursday, May 31, 2012

304/365

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Fire drill muster point. Better May than November.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

303/365

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Chiro appointment.

Second floor.

No need for an elevator,
I'd like to take the stairs,
thanks.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

302/365

302/365 by gina.blank

Yes, I know it's not a novel technique, but I'm feeling photo-lazy, and it's the first time I've used it.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Sunday, May 27, 2012

300/365

I am selective about the causes I choose to support. Not because I don't care about the array of issues affecting people in this world, or believe in the good that so many people are trying to do; but because, if I got on board with every single one of them, I would be exhausted and broke. So I choose the issues close to home. Issues, injustices, or maladies that have either affected my life personally, and/or that affect the life of someone close to me.


 
 

This morning, I walked for 10km, raising funds and awareness for MS. I have some knowledge of MS, based on the facts and experiences my friend affected by the disease has shared. Today I learned some new facts about MS that I hadn't known before:

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  • Canadians have one of the highest rates of multiple sclerosis in the world.
  • MS is the most common neurological disease affecting young adults in Canada.
  • Every day, three more people in Canada are diagnosed with MS.
  • Women are more than three times as likely to develop MS as men.
  • MS can cause loss of balance, impaired speech, extreme fatigue, double vision and paralysis.
  • MS was first identified and described by a French neurologist, Dr. Jean-Martin Charcot, in 1868.
  • The cause of MS is unknown, but researchers are closer to finding the answer.

These facts were all posted on little signs along the walking trail. After reading them, I found myself--as a young Canadian female--extra grateful for my health. It also reminded of what a rock star my friend really is.


As with the other passions close to my heart, it excites me that the possibility of researchers and experts finding a cure could be just on the cusp of the future. Forget walking--there will be happy dances all around.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

299/365

Last year, I enjoyed gardening and lawn care, I think mostly because it was exciting to do those things for the first time. Sure, I value growing my own food, and the eco-friendliness of maintaining a lawn and garden. Still, I think I enjoyed it mostly for the novelty factor. I grew vegetables and mowed the lawn, sure, but I didn't plant anything new, I didn't remove anything that I didn't want. I didn't really change anything from the way it had been given to me when I bought the place. I was content to just let pop up whatever popped up, and maintain it as it was.

This summer has already been quite different--and it's not even June.

I am absolutely in love with gardening, lawn care, and my back yard.* Despite recent weeding stories, I am having a ton of fun out there on every sunny day. I like mowing the lawn; I like watering my flower and vegetable boxes; I like seeing the new plants poke their heads out from the dirt; and now that I have my new weed puller, I kind of even like yanking dandelions (kind of). Goodness knows I love jumping in my hammock after it's all said and done.

I still haven't performed any radical changes to my yard/garden, but I have made some little tweaks to get things just the way I've decided I like them. At the end of the summer last year, I pulled away the red, crescent-shaped cement bricks that formed a half-circle flower-bed against the side of my house. I'm not fond of the industrial-looking bricks, and I put a couple flower boxes in the space instead (either this summer or next--I haven't decided yet--I also want to change those same bricks that form my fire pit to smaller, more stone-like ones). I changed the layout of my vegetables this year; I'm planting most of them in squares rather than in rows. In the next week or two, I will pull the clumped and clustered tulip bulbs from the ground so that I can rearrange them to my liking next spring. And this afternoon, I tidied up the dirt beds around my trees.

I have two maples in my front yard. Not your traditional maple--you don't generally see those out here in Alberta. These two are fairly small--they must have only been planted a year or two before I bought the house. Around the bottom of their skinny trunks is a ring of black plastic, forming a circle around each tree, which at one point had looked distinct from the lawn, but in the last two years, has overgrown with the surrounding grass. I decided I wanted to remedy that. Out again with the trowel.

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Turns out there was a mix of dirt and rock bed underneath the grass. I sifted out most of the rocks--I didn't want them--and added some more dirt. Around one tree, I planted cosmos, and around the other, marigolds. That ought to pretty things up a little... and keep the grass better at bay.

My intention was only to mow the lawn and pull some more dandelions today before revelling in the hammock. Instead, I mowed, weeded, dug, and planted before finally switching gears, simply because I was thoroughly enjoying all the gardening I was doing!

As an introvert, I find this seems to be a fantastic activity to allow the brain to process... anything. As I had particularly a lot on my mind this afternoon, I think it's another reason I was so content to continue getting dirt under my nails before wanting to move on to my book and my hammock. Still, way more satisfying to spend time thinking amidst the flora under warm sunshine than amongst greasy dishes at the kitchen sink.

It's forecasted to be sunny tomorrow... what else needs doing in the yard?



* Yes, Mother--I did just say that.

Friday, May 25, 2012

298/365

298/365 by gina.blank
At Ikea.

Spending other people's money.

And getting paid to do so.

Awesome.

297/365

297/365 by gina.blank
The weeding continues...

After my massive post the other day on all things dandelion, a friend texted me with a potential solution. She stated that I just had to get the Fiskars telescopic weed puller at Canadian Tire (especially as they were currently on sale).

So I did.

The mechanism is simple: plunge metal claws into the earth, and as  you pull it back out of the ground, it brings the weed with it, root and all.

Previously, the system was dig, pop, pull, toss.
Now, that has changed to stab, lean, pull, eject.

Does it get the whole root? Not usually.
Does it get more root than I was getting with my trowel? OH, yes!
Does it still leave holes? Yes.
Are they smaller holes than before? YES.
Does it save my hands and my back? Yes.
Does it uproot double the number of dandelions in half the time? YES.

So, is it a perfect system? No. Though, when it comes to dandelions, I'm starting to think such a thing doesn't exist. Still, it's a better system than what I was previously doing. And as I start to run into more and more people who have uncontrollable dandelions in their yard--where last year there were none--I'm starting to think this might be the most feasible option this summer.

How many weeds could a weed puller pull...

296/365

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It's on a direct path between my garage and my back door. Of course I'm going to jump in it.

Besides, I have red argyle rain boots;
your point is invalid.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

295/365

Fun project on a rainy day.
(See the finished product here!)

295/365 by gina.blank

Monday, May 21, 2012

Getting to the Root of Things OR 294/365

Though overcast and breezy, it was nevertheless warm outside today, so I decided to continue tackling the weeds in my back yard that are threatening to overtake it. It is a process in lawn care and home maintenance that I am learning the hard way this year.

Getting to the Root of Things OR 294/365 by gina.blank
I am digging out dandelions one by one with a trowel, because I cannot think of a more effective solution at this point that is not going to cost me the earth. Music makes any work more enjoyable, so I plugged in my portable stereo outside and got to it.

What a process.

There seem to be three types of dandelion clusters in my yard: the brown, dead and wilted ones that I covered in weed killer earlier this week; the bright yellow ones that I missed; and the green, leafy, yet-to-be ones that are trying camouflage with the grass. I went around unearthing all three kinds in a pretty even ratio. The live ones are the ones that are most obvious, and will repopulate if I don't get them. The sprouting ones will take their place if they aren't tackled. And the dead ones--you'd think I wouldn't have to worry about them. But, while some withered and died nicely, others went down with a fight. In the stress of knowing their end was near, they went from yellow to fluffy, and are threatening to start this whole mess over again for next year if I don't dig them out.

Good grief.

My process is imperfect. I cannot get my trowel deep enough to pull the weeds and bring the entire root with me. I managed to get ONE dandelion cluster with its entire root. And it was only satisfying for a moment before I realized the cluster had two main roots, and the other one had broken off like all the others. ...Do you see how long that root is?! I am generally pulling these dandelions with 1/3 the amount of root--if that. Then I cover the hole with dirt and sprinkle over it with lawn seed, in the hopes of growing enough new grass overtop to choke out future weeds. But if I'm leaving that length of root behind, am I even doing any good? Visually, on the surface, it looks better. But only time will tell how well I've actually taken care of what's underneath. Some of those roots are really thick.

My friend, also into gardening, posts Garden Lessons on her blog, as a result of the experiences she and her mother have on their community vegetable garden plot. Now I get how she manages to formulate such rich blog material. From spending hours on her knees with a trowel, that's how.* I had a lot of thinking time as I dug holes today. Which was actually not so bad, because a) I'm an introvert, and b) I've had a couple of brain-heavy weeks worth mulling over. But in and amongst my mental processing, I also found myself thinking metaphorically of roots.

It is often said that when you are trying to get rid of something, or change something, you need to get to the root of the issue--the root cause of what's going on. In my line of work, we often talk about this in regards to children's behaviour. It's not enough to give a sticker for a good job, or tell a child what he/she needs to be doing. You need to find the source of the behaviour: what is motivating that child to communicate this way? Only when you figure that out can you start to provide the right environment for behavioural change.

A few of my closest friends are dietitians. They talk about weight management the same way. It's not enough to just jump on a treadmill or eat less. You need to find out the source of the weight gain: what are the physiological, psychological, or emotional underpinnings of the way a person takes in food and lives actively (or doesn't)? Only when you figure that out can you provide the patient with a game plan to improve their health and weight.

Spiritually, we talk about getting to the root of sin. It's not enough for someone who's into porn to have a password put onto his computer, or for an alcoholic to simply get rid of all the liquor in the house. Unless you look at the underlying wound or spiritual lies driving those behaviours (and then submit those to Jesus), he/she is likely to fall into old patterns.

Get to the root. Deal with the root. Remove the root.

So... dandelions. I am not getting to the root of them. I sort of am--I'm doing better than just ripping the flowers out by the stems. But I'm still breaking the root far from the bottom. ....Is that enough? Is it enough to sever the root, or do I need to pull it out of the earth entirely to be successful? I just want to know, are my efforts worth it? Are these f*ing dandelions going to grow back?!

After three hours, I set down my trowel. I am no where close to being done, but I am done for today. My hands sting. My back aches. My skin is gritty with dirt. I'd like to spend some time reading in my hammock. I feel like I worked hard and deserve it. Simultaneously, I look at the state of my yard, and feel like I deserve nothing 'till every last dandelion is gone. But I don't beat myself up too much. I know I let my yard get like this. It is going to take a while to clean it up. And then the poor lawn has to heal. ...I also remind myself of what the lawn looked like two days ago, and figure my efforts can't be entirely in vain.

Getting to the root of an issue is actually fairly simple compared to the process of change that must follow. That's what takes the time and energy. And depending on how deep those roots go determines the magnitude of effort that must go into restoring what was damaged, whether that's our body, our soul, or our back yard.

I'm doing the best I can.


Also on the plus side, as I made my way to the hammock, I glanced over into the garden and noticed... the spinach has popped up. Clearly, I'm tending some things properly.









* With some wise words, even, on weeds and roots.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

293/365

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Kicking off an excellent meal at the Three Boars Eatery with a Rose Lemonade.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

I'm Sure There's a Metaphor in This Somewhere OR 292/365

Speckled. Last week, that described the array of dandelions in my back yard. Speckled. So, I went to Rona and purchased weed killer, and dutifully attacked the majority of culprits with three spray-bottles full of the stuff (about 2 1/2L altogether). Just as the bottle advertised, the leaves started to shrivel and turn brown where I had sprayed.

So when I glanced out the window as I was preparing brunch for myself today, I was taken aback at the state of my yard. Speckled had been replaced with riddled.

SERIOUSLY?!

I didn't really want to go outside today. Today was supposed to be a purely lazy Saturday. But it was not long after brunch that I found myself in my pyjamas and gardening gloves, manually removing dandelion masses from my yard. To look at the yard, one would think my effort was minimal, futile, or both.

292/365 by gina.blankI missed the boat as far as spring lawn care goes--aeration, fertilization, etc. I know I could have prevented much weed growth had I maximized the health of my lawn's grass production in the first place. I had already realized the consequences of my [mis]-actions as I was standing in the seasonal aisle determining which brand of weed-killer and which brand of lawn-seed to buy. Nevertheless, I thought I had already witnessed the dandelion "explosion", and I know I underestimated the manual labour involved.

First, I looked at the 750ml spray bottle I had used previously, and thought, "screw that." Carefully adhering to the concentrate-to-water ratio, I filled up my watering can instead with four litres of the stuff and outright showered it over the new dandelions. I did that three times to cover the majority of the yard.

Then, with my trowel, I decided to deal with some of the weakened dandelion plants I had sprayed earlier in the week. I dug the trowel deep into the earth. Lifting the dandelion cluster then produced a "pop" sound as the root broke somewhere under the dirt.* I pulled the dirt/grass/weed clump out of the earth, shook off the excess dirt, then tossed the weed into a pile I was starting in the driveway. Dig, pop, pull, toss; repeat.

I knew I would not have the energy or ambition to attack the whole yard today. As it was, I dug up roughly twenty dandelion clusters from the earth. My lawn looks like a disaster. Green grass covered in yellow dandelions, dead brown weed clusters, and now twenty small holes gouged out of the section of lawn closest to the house. I sprinkled grass seed over each hole, and can only hope that new grass will grow there in enough abundance to choke out any new weeds that try to take over its place.

I think I'm a little bit screwed. But nevertheless, I think I might try to attack a dozen clusters or so each [sunny] day till they're gone. I grew up with pristine green lawns. This was never supposed to be my back yard.

On the plus side, the ants in the hill that I infused with Raid last week have been successfully exterminated.... that's gotta count for something, right?



* That's right--I didn't manage to get the full root from a single dandelion plant. Ask how impressed that makes me.

291/365

291/365 by gina.blank

It's Friday; let your hair down a little.*




* Clearly I did--I didn't even Photoshop out the zits on my forehead!

290/365

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Catchin' up on some office reading over my morning coffee.

(Though, shortly after this was taken, I was spillin' coffee over my morning reading.)

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

289/365

289/365 by gina.blank





Die, dandelion.



And all your little friends, too.

288/365*

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Statistically, Tuesday is the most productive work day of the week.

Let's see how this works out today.



* This photo has also been submitted to the aday.org photography project.

287/365

287/365 by gina.blank

Nothing marks the transition of seasons like an eczema flare-up.*




* And by the looks of my hand, dry skin all around. Ah, Alberta!

Sunday, May 13, 2012

286/365

Hello, again, sunshine :)

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Saturday, May 12, 2012

285/365

Oh, perfect Saturdays. I have spoken of you many a time on my blog. You are the perfect mix of introverted self time and activity with friends. You are usually sunny and warm, and you never start before 10am.* You are wonderful, and I love it when I am blessed with you.

Today was a perfect Saturday. And I don't think I've really had a perfect Saturday in the course of this photography project. There have been a few really great Saturdays (and even a couple of lazy Saturdays), but there's a subtle qualitative difference between a great Saturday and a perfect Saturday.

285/365 "A" by gina.blank
...to soil!
I thought my photo for today was going to be easy. The garden went in today: green beans, yellow beans, carrots, dill, lettuce, spinach, snap peas, pumpkin, and zucchini. I've already taken pictures of the seeds and the sprouts, and now they're going into the ground. How could that not be my blog photo for today?

285/365 "B" by gina.blank
But then, after the garden was done, CR and JM came over and we celebrated the warm sunshine with a bike ride through the River Valley. I didn't bring my camera, but CR did. And she took some lovely photos. My first bike ride of the season! How could that not be my blog photo for today?

And THEN, just when I think I've already got a tough decision to make, I find myself in my hammock. I've been in there a few times after work this week, but always for under ten minutes--just long enough to scrape up some of the last bit of sunshine that I missed while sitting in my office all day long. Today I spent over 45 minutes in the thing, reading a good book, and watching my cat try to navigate this new piece of furniture. My first real back yard hammock experience. How could that not be my blog photo for today?

285/365 "C" by gina.blank

So... I'm cheating (hey, it's my project, I can do that). Today, I have three photos. In their own way, they each represent life, blessing, relationship, warmth, happiness, goodness, peace, and love.

Yes, a perfect Saturday indeed.



* Okay, just once, but it was worth it.

Friday, May 11, 2012

284/365

Two days of gusty windiness have finally died down.

This is not the photo I was originally going for at all, but I sure do love those sunbeams.

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Thursday, May 10, 2012

283/365

283/365 by gina.blank
Precisely.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

282/365

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No, no, no.

I said tulips.


Tu-lips.

281/365

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Any day I'm eating lunch at work and not in my car is a good day. And any day I'm eating lunch outside at work and not in my car is an excellent day.

Monday, May 7, 2012

280/365

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Ah!

279/365

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Not sure if I am edging the lawn, or just destroying it...

Saturday, May 5, 2012

278/365

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Hmm... :)

277/365

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Setting up for a fundraising photo shoot. 


We needed a child to test model, but she wasn't about to let us take pictures with our cameras unless she got a camera, too.

276/365

276/365 by gina.blank


Wednesday, May 2, 2012

275/365

275/365 by gina.blank
This may become my new thinking spot.


The playroom has kinda become my baby, and I am often reflecting and evaluating how we utilize the space.

In 275 days, this is probably the first photo were I am completely, 100% unaware that I was having my picture taken.

Clearly, I was deep in thought.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

274/365

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"May the sun shine warm upon your face..."