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It wasn't productive....

Last weekend I had a huge list of things I wanted and needed to get done.  Apparently, I should have followed my instincts on Saturday morning and sat to knit all day.  Instead, I tried to be productive.  I had a box and a half of pears that needed peeled and cored.  They should probably be canned at some point but my goal was to get them into gallon ziplocks and into the freezer before they became mush.  The fruit flies were very active around those boxes so I knew I was cutting it close on the timing.

Before sitting down to work on the pears, though, I needed to get a few things done outside.  The garden desperately needed weeding and I needed to pull the garlic and onions since their tops had already died back.  This was mostly accomplished without incident.  I have four rosebushes that have mostly returned to the root stock this year, much to my disappointment.  These are long established roses so I needed to dig them out.  Did I mention, well established?  I tried digging one out with a shovel and managed to break the shovel handle before the rose bush even budged.  So...I opted out of that task for the weekend.  I did deadhead the much neglected bushes before I headed inside for the day. Put a shovel on the list of tools that need replacing.  I know you can replace handles but my dad recommended replacing the entire tool since I have old hand me down's from their garden shed.  He replaced the pitch fork for me earlier this year. (I think it was also easier for him than trying to do the replacement).

So, I headed inside to tackle the pears and I figured I'd make up some applesauce from the apples in the freezer while I was doing so.  I set up my cutting station and placed my towel down to avoid drips, then put the bucket beside me on the floor.  I threw three gallon bags of apples in a large sauce pan and put it on medium high to heat.  Then, I dug in; it was about 11:30.  I worked diligently, getting up every so often to stir the apples. Mid-afternoon, I nicked my fingers on the knife and decided maybe I should address the applesauce for a while.    I'd put three gallon bags in the freezer already but there still appeared to be a mountain of pears.  So I transfered my attention to the apples, removing them from the heat and running them through the foodmill.  I noticed that some had stuck to the bottom and figured I needed to turn it down a little bit for the next batch.  The food mill was necessary because with the last batch, I discovered that we hadn't been very careful in our pealing and coring so that I was pulling stems and peals out of the sauce with nearly every bite.  Besides, we hadn't pealed the frozen apples so I needed a way to remove the peals anyway.  I had the jars all filled and ready to go in the canner when I realized I'd forgotten to spice it, although I'd added a little sugar.  I decided it wasn't necessary and put the first batch in the canner for the required 20 minutes.  It took two batches since the 3 bags makes about 12-13 pints of sauce.  Canning, fortunately, is fairly fool proof if you follow the simple rules-Use the appropriate amount of canning time and wipe the rims off before putting the lids on.  I threw three more bags of apples into the pot and then I went back to the pears. Oh, the pears...forever and ever I peeled and cored and still the boxes seemed full.  I finally cleaned out the half box of pears. Unfortunately, I noticed a smoky smell in the air and realized that I'd scorched the applesauce.  I tasted and tested but nothing I did was going to remove the scorched taste in those apples.

I felt really discouraged.  I decided to clean up my mess and decide what to do from there.  The garbage disposal in the kitchen sink clogged with some apple skins and the rotating part needed to be manually manipulated to remove what was stuck.  I've done it many times, so I stuck my hand in and manually turned  the crank and relieved the bind.  No big deal. But then my brain and my right hand disconnected from the reality of the left hand and flipped the switch before my left hand was out of the disposal. OUCH!  Wow! That really hurt!  Imagine a hammer hitting your fingers multiple times in rapid succession. But fortunately, nothing was broken, not even the skin.  However, three fingers were numb for almost an hour afterwards. That was it.  I was done.

I called mom to see if she had any ideas about the apples but nothing came to mind.  With a frustrated sob, I dumped the entire batch onto the compost pile.

There were still pears.  They would have to wait.  I was mad and frustrated and just simply DONE!  It was 7:30.  I'd been working on pears and apples for 8 hours with very little, it seemed, to show for it.  I could have cried.  (I might have, a little)

Sunday, when I looked into the pear box, the seemingly endless illusion resolved and I saw that, indeed there was probably only a half of a box left.  I'd hoped that Marian and Trudi could help me with the rest on Tuesday but they had other plans.

On Tuesday, I was so cranky and moody that I just stayed home after work.  I, the person who never runs unless it is an emergency, decided to jog in place for 20 minutes to try to exorcise whatever emotional demon was making my day miserable.  I set the WiiFit to free jog and began.  It was obvious nearly immediately that this was going to be a large challenge but I managed to make it through.  Then I worked through some balancing exercises, ending with the candle meditation exercise.  I felt significantly better then and sat down to finish the rest of the pears.  (Although, I am still feeling the strain in my calves from that experience)

The irony of the entire exercise is....I don't need pears.  But all of my freezers are now stuffed to the gills with pears.  In fact, this canning season has made it obvious to me that I need a larger chest freezer.  That is an issue I may address tomorrow, although I cringe at the thought of the cost. A spare refrigerator would also be nice but I can't justify that.  I will have to clean out the garage a bit in order to put a larger freezer in there.  It's not crowded, it just needs reorganized.

I have three air conditioning units in there that need to be rehomed or recycled now that I have the heat pump (If anyone local is interested...or anyone who is coming for coronet that wants to take one or more with them.  I don't even really care about getting money for them). To the best of my knowledge they all work just fine although, cosmetically they are not all so pretty.  Two of them are fairly large and were capable of cooling most of the house between the two.

Otherwise, this week has been  fairly ordinary.  Mom and I are planning a hike for tomorrow. We are still exploring the Ridgeline trail.  This time we are going to start on the 52nd and Willamette trailhead and hike to the Dillard West trailhead and then back. It should be about 6 miles round trip. (Map)  We've done the hike from 52nd and Willamette almost to the turn to go up Spencer's butte.  It was the turn we didn't find when we expected to so I have a little trepidation but I'm thinking we just didn't go far enough.  We aren't going to hike up the Butte this time.

There are still chores to be done but nothing is sitting in the living room collecting fruit flies.

Swan Island Dahlia Festival...

It's a rare occurance, but recently my mother asked me to take a day off to spend with her.  It's really rare! She believes in being a conscientious employee and I applaud that.  However, it also makes me take notice when she actually asks me for a day.  So, I gladly took August 25th off and went with her, and Dad, to the Swan Island Dahlia Festival.

My mother has a huge dahlia garden (probably 30' x 30') and many of those came from Swan Island Dahlias (Which is not, incidentally, on Swan Island any more but in Canby).  If you don't know, dahlias can be a lot of work.  The tubers should be dug up each winter, marked, and stored correctly to last through the winter.  Storing them correctly is still a work in progress and Mom loses several tubers a year because they rot.  Then in the spring or summer they have to be divided, planted, and if necessary, support stakes should be added.  We've occasionally teased mom about her stake garden. It's not uncommon for mom to have plants that reach 6-8 feet tall.  She is going to try pruning them this year to see if that helps keep them a little smaller and requiring less support.  Dahlias come in many varieties.  Most people are familiar with the multi-layered petal "Formal Decorative" or "Informal Decorative" varieties:

but the Collarette variety is the most natural form of the the flower- if you were to plant dahlia seeds, 90% or more would come up as collarettes.

I find myself most often attracted to the Collarette, Water Lilly,and, Semi cactus varieties.  Dahlia blooms can also be as big as 12 inches (Plate size) or as small as 1.5 inches.  I like the blooms in the 2-6 inch varieties (collarette, minature, and BB size blooms).

We learn something new about dahlias every year and Swan Island is a good supporter for growers. It's also a beautiful place to be when the dahlias are in bloom and the 25th of August was part of the Dahlia Festival on the farm. There are rows upon rows of dahlias, each variety in long rows side by side.

They also have the experimental garden open so that buyers can see what might be coming up next year and an inside display of cut (and labeled) flowers.

I love dahlias but they require soil and  a lot of work and so I haven't planted any except a few in pots this year. They can also be a little spendy.  The tubers run from $4.95 each to $24.95 each (new varieties) depending upon demand and availablity.  However I may have lost my mind and purchased a lot of tubers that I will have to make a place for next year (see behind the cut or below).  I'm thinking I'll intersperse them in the rose garden since it is in a sunny and unshaded location.  It's still going to take a lot of work because, there is still all that volcanic rock about 12 inches down and that will have to be removed anywhere that I intend to plant them.  Obviously, it's more cost effective to buy the cheaper tubers and wait for the more expensive ones to come down in price. Or to trade with family, which Mom and I will be doing.
These are the ones I purchasedCollapse )

You can see all of my pictures from that Monday in this album (No Facebook account required).  I have my work cut out for me but it will be worth it...won't it?



Saturday I ran to Detering Orchards and purchased 75 lbs of peaches during their Peach Daze event.  The 25 lb boxes worked out to be about $1.10/lb.

Last night, Trudi, Marian, and I tackled canning them. I set up a single burner camp stove on the porch for additional burner space.  It wasn't terribly effective- it worked but took quite a while to get up to temperature between loads.

Marian worked on scalding the peaches.

Trudi and I pealed and sliced them.  Trudi was better at the slicing so I pealed and pitted while she sliced and then I stuffed the jars.  It was really messy work.  The peaches were juicy and the juice ran off the plastic table covering on to the floor (or rather the towel I'd put down on the floor to help mop up the mess).  It covered the table and ultimately, I don't think there were many places in the kitchen that weren't sticky with peach juice.

When we had all the jars stuffed with peaches and a batch in each of two canners,  we went and sat in the hot tub for a while.  That was the first of our "Goldilocks" events for the night- when we finished, I had only two empty pint jars remaining in the house.

When the timer rang after 25 minutes, we went back to filling jars with light syrup (0.5:2).  The second Goldilocks event of the night was realizing the propane canister had run out just as the timer had finished on the water bath. We were obviously all tired, so they needed to head home.  Before they left, they put syrup in all the jars so all I had to do was put them in the water bath.  That was our third Goldilocks event-The last jar used the last of the syrup to fill it to the top.

I think they headed home about 10:00 pm.
I finished the last water bath at 1:00 am.  There are 67 pints and all but two of them sealed over night.  I thought a peach crisp sounded good and now I have two jars to use that way tonight.  Everything in the kitchen is still sticky, although I did run a mop over the worst of the floor last night.  I left the dishes until this morning and I'll need to hand wash the canners and larger bowl tonight.  I am pleased with the results and super happy to have canned peaches again- I ran out this year and the store canned peaches are horrid.

Saturday hike...

Mom and I decided to take a challenge hike on Saturday. We chose the Ridgeline trail and to start at the Blanton trail head, and hike to where it intersects with the Spencer's Butte summit trail.  We figured it would be about 6.4 miles and up hill and dale- in other words, a challenge.

We left the house about 8:15 to try to avoid the heat of the day.  The Blanton trailhead was a little difficult to find but also not terribly crowded. It was beautiful on the trail, which is sandwiched between upscale neighborhoods with only an occasional glimpse of a nearby house.
PicturesCollapse )

We never did find the intersection with the Butte trail but we think it must have been a bit farther than the map indicated.  We turned around at 3.3 miles because we didn't want to go much farther than 6.6 miles.  Looking at the topographic map, I think it was still a little ways farther.  Because of the terrain the trial managed to be uphill both ways.
When we finished, my FitBit said we'd taken 15,386 steps, climbed 101 flights of stairs, and burned 573 calories  (I don't trust the calorie counter because it changes from minute to minute).  It took two hours 48 minutes and 46 seconds to travel 6.5 miles.
That is the longest hike I've ever taken.  It's longer than the hike we took in Yellowstone.  The Yellowstone hike may have been more of a challenging climb but I can tell that I'm improving with each hike.

A little progress...

After my last post, I had a conversation with the dean and he's perfectly ok with waiting for his data.  Mostly he wants me thinking about the kinds of data we should be collecting each year to develop charts and graphs of progress.  This conversation morphed into a different conversation about my position.  My former boss was the Associate Dean of Research and Operations.  I took over the operations portion of his job when he left (I'd been doing a lot of it as his assistant already).  The dean commented on this and I said, yes, I was doing operations but because I don't have a PhD, I'm not eligible for an Associate Dean position.  He paused and said (to the effect of), "you know, we've been having this conversation in the Provosts Counsel about Assistant Deans.  It used to be that these were considered to be positions that would eventually lead to a deanship but that's not at all how they are used any more.  So we've been considering how we could use this title more effectively and how the requirements might be different.  I could really see you and XXX, and YYY in those positions and it would help address the authority issue."  You could have knocked me over with a feather.  Of course, I'm not holding my breath in anyway but it was nice to think that he would consider it.

The person doing our accreditation report is not so accommodating.  Every time I though about work over the weekend, I started to have a panic attack.  So I really tried hard not to think about it.  Monday, by mid afternoon, I had three additional data requests from her with the same Friday deadline.  I tried talking to her about it and she was adamant that she had to have it by Friday. (Of course this is because she's going on vacation, not because the report is due that day)  I sorted through all the requests she's sent and got a good feel for the information that was still lacking. Then fumbled around a little more trying to collect faculty demographics and qualification information.  Finally, I concluded that I just don't have that information available to me and called HR and institutional research.  Institutional research confirmed that it was impossible to get that information out of our current systems...they've been trying to figure it out for years.  My heart sank until I heard, "but.." This was followed by an explanation that they had just finished putting together a database so he might be able to help me out.  I told him I needed it by Friday and he said he thought he could do that.  Bless him!  I had the data yesterday afternoon.  I still have manipulation of the data to do.  After my conversation with IR on Monday, I sent an email out Tuesday morning outlining the items she'd asked me to pull together and explaining where I was with each task and any obstacles that could affect my ability to get the information to her by Friday. I CC'd the dean and associate dean since they were CC'd on the original requests.  I also asked that she let me know if I'd missed anything.  There has been a huge flurry of emails and I could easily have missed something. If I have, she hasn't figured it out.  At this point, I'm waiting for one more piece of information from IR but I am ready to submit the information I have left to give her when I receive that.  I am not optimistic that the report she is submitting is even adequate let alone outstanding.  However, I've been surprised before.

In other topics: I've been trying to walk more since getting my FitBit One for my birthday.  When it's hot, I have no stamina for exercise, unfortunately, so these weeks that are in the 90's are just not getting much play exercise wise.  I go home, collapse on the couch and sometimes just go to bed after an ice cream dinner.  I know ice cream is not low carb or low sugar but it's all I want to eat when it's hot. (Low sugar ice cream is sweetened with alcohol sugar which makes me miserable so it's not an option).  However, since June 22nd I've walked more than 50 miles according to the FitBit.   I got out on Saturday and zigzagged through town to find a 4.65 mile walk.  I was aiming for 5 miles but didn't put enough zigs in my zags apparently.  I have another idea for a walk that may make the 5 mile mark.  I'm trying to work my way up to 10 miles by Next year at this time.  I did 4 miles the weekend before.  Mom and I are looking at a walk/easy hike on Saturday that is in the 5 mile range.

There has been some gardening and some sewing but I'll show that to you later. I hope you all have a good day.

*sigh* Sure...I'll get right on that...

On the cat
So, the dean sees that I'm looking at FTE and term-to-term hires and sends me a spreadsheet- "can you fill in the numbers for my spreadsheet too?"  They are not remotely the same thing.  He's looking for the entire college, not just licensure programs. He wants to know costs and student credit hours.  I'll have to start all over again to add his request in. I'm trying very hard not to swear!

*sigh* If only they would listen to me!

We are due for our 7 year accreditation review.  Anyone who has been through this, knows it is a huge, Huge, HUGE, report with tons of data gathering required before the report can be written.  This isn't my first rodeo.  This is my second and during the first I was part of a three man team responsible for the entire thing.  This is to establish that I KNOW what I'm talking about.

Someone new is doing the report this year.  Someone who has told me that she "doesn't need my help."   Someone who should know better!  I started getting nervous two years ago.  18 months ago I suggested that we probably needed to start collating the data.  I was told there was plenty of time.  12 months ago, I nudged again and was ignored.  6 months ago, the same thing.  The report is now due in 6 weeks.  The coordinator is just now really looking at it.  AND she's just now realizing that it's MUCH bigger than she thought.

What she doesn't realize is that there isn't a simple way to pull up all of the data and hand it to her.  First of all, our licensure programs are spread across three campuses and 4 colleges.  I have access to the information from our college and campus.  I can estimate to some extent but I can't get accurate numbers from the other units.  Secondly, we had a major reorganization in the last 7 years and the data is spewed across the data systems in three different ways depending upon how the college was organized at the time.  Thirdly, the university isn't really organized to make licensure reporting easy.  Our licensure students aren't flagged in any way.  Licensure classes aren't noted in any way.  So to pull data on students or classes, I have to physically look at almost every class or student in our college to determine if they are in a licensure program.  I have some shortcuts due to some organizational strategies that I've implemented in my time here but it still takes me quite a bit of time.

For example:  She needs a report of the FTE of term-to-term faculty hired to work in licensure programs, by program.  My only way of procuring this information is to pull a list of all of the classes we've offered using the TCE prefix in the last 7 years.  Then I have to go through and mark each class according to the program and add the FTE amount that we use per credit hour.  I have to look up any faculty member that seems to have a fixed term appointment or that I know changed from term-to-term to fixed term sometime in the last few years to find out at which date they no longer count as term-to-term. Then I can sum up the FTE to get the FTE in each program...that we offer, not the other units.  Then I have to go back and figure out the numbers of faculty according to rank.  Something I can do because I know the faculty but I don't think I can just pull a report.  I might check though because there is a new reporting system that just came online at the beginning of Summer term.

That is addressing one or two questions of the dozens we are likely to have.  In fact I have a list of such questions already that is a full page long...and she doesn't need my help you know </sarcasm>.

Another question she had today was if she could get a list of scholarly activities that the faculty have been involved in for the last 7 years....nope, we don't have it.  You'll have to pull it from the faculty themselves- most of whom are on summer break.

Equally as frustrating is that these request come with no parameters... Ok you need to know how many faculty we have.  Over what time period?  Is this a snap shot or a cumulative collection of the last 7 years?  Every question she asks I'm having to send back a request for parameters.

Oye, my capacity for "stupid" is diminishing rapidly.

Feeling invisible....

I spent the greater part of An Tir West War feeling invisible.  I tried to assess why this was, and solicit input to see if it is something I am doing or if it's just coincidence.  The best feedback I got was "You are so quiet and still- even when you are knitting, it's very small movements- that you just blend into the background and we forget you are there."

Well, I'm not sure how to do differently.  I don't like being loud and in fact I would have said that I talk too much.  I learned from a young age in such a boisterous extended family that I couldn't really make my voice heard over all the other vibrant voices; so unless it was really important, I didn't bother to try.  I will make my voice heard if it is important, and people tend to listen when I do.

I am often still.  The things I enjoy doing require stillness and small movements- embroidery and knitting, for example.  I also have a back injury that, although I endeavor to try to be active and resilient, appreciates stillness.  I grew up in a house without a television and where quietness and stillness was valued.  I still value those things and find myself completely overwhelmed in a noisy crowd.   In a group, if I am still and quiet, I can observe a lot of things about a lot of people.  I read body language and hear important details.  I learn more about people by being quiet than I ever do by talking.

I'm not unhappy with the fact that I am quiet and still.  I like that about me but I am struggling with being invisible.  Being invisible means that people are indifferent to your presence.  Indifference, not hate, is the opposite of love.  Feeling unloved and unlovable, is devastating to me. No protests from you here- this isn't about making you feel guilty and I'm not really looking for validation that people love me.  Words to that effect, don't mean anything if there is no action to back them up.  The reality is that it's no one's JOB to make sure I'm included, but if no one cares if I'm there or not...why should I bother to be there.  I seem to leave every SCA event recently feeling unwanted and uncared for and since, right now, I can't pin down exactly how to pursue what I'm passionate about, (or even what that is sometimes) I go to events because I love the people.  If the people don't care that I'm there, what is the point?

As I am thinking on this, I decided to re look at my Love Languages.  They have changed a bit as I get older and perhaps more practical.  My results, aren't all that surprising, (although I do love giving and receiving gifts):

9 Acts of Service
8 Quality Time
8 Words of Affirmation
4 Physical Touch
1 Receiving Gifts
Read about the first threeCollapse )

So, where does that leave me.  I guess, I'll experiment.  Maybe I need to hang out with different people.  Maybe I need to work harder to find a way to do the things that make me excited.  I'll try immersing myself in a project.  I'll try putting myself out there more.  Someone suggested that I see if the Princess needs help with retinue since I know that's something I'm good at and enjoy. My choice right now is to see if I can do something to improve my own feelings.  If it doesn't work, then maybe down the road, the SCA won't be my choice any more but I want to do everything I can first to see if I can make it work for me.

My 40th birthday!

Last Saturday was my 40th birthday.  To celebrate, my parents and I went to the coast.
We spent about 4.5 hours at the Oregon Coast Aquarium in Newport.  I have lots of pictures but haven't downloaded the camera.  However, the octopus put on a good show after my camera battery died and I was shooting on my iPhone.

After the aquarium, we travelled south down the coast to Cape Perpetua where mom and I hiked down the St. Perpetua trail.  It would have been more of a challenge to go up but we got confused about where the trail started and went to the top instead.  It was a beautiful day.

There were flowers too...maybe in another post.  I had lots of pictures.


This is Simon and when he wants his cuddles, he wants them NOW.  He has been known to hurl himself up my body with the expectation that I will catch him and give him love.  He also has the slight disgusting but totally sweet habit of grooming me- my face and neck mostly, sometimes ears (EWW).
These pictures were taken on my birthday and he didn't want to let me get dressed until he had his snuggles.


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