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It's blue sky all the way to the horizon, and still in the 70s at noon. I find I have a new spring in my step and am actually able to walk up and down stairs instead of hauling myself by the handrail (or letting myself down easy, hanging onto the handrail). The new exercise regimen or the weather, I don't know which.

A perfect day to ride up to Temple University to retrieve the glasses that a colleague absent-mindedly picked up and put in his pocket, thinking they were his reading glasses.

It's also a perfect day to pick up a bushel of tomatoes at the farmer's market, if Mr. Beiler found some for me at the right price point.

The Civil War folks have agreed that a quick tweak to a couple of pages will suffice, with a modest rebuild in Dreamweaver to follow and a switch to a CMS once we have a smidge of money to throw at a consultant. I am thinking about hiring someone to coach me through a Drupal install. Teach me to fish, and all...
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One flower on the second scape of 'gervase' is collapsing. (It's the one I pollinated...) The pollinated ovary on the first scape continues to swell. Its stem is green and fat -- the stems of the other three are shriveling and turning brown. I begin to believe we have achieved pollination, but I've seen false pregnancies on Hippeastrum before.

The parsley seedlings looked light-starved, so I took them out back.

Most of the marjoram has bounced back from its transplanting.

And also -- last night sitting at the computer I found myself feeling most uncomfy. So I looked at the thermometer. It was 78F. And the room was muggy because it's full of plants. Eeeuw. I am *so* not ready to put on the air conditioning.

Weather

Mar. 13th, 2010 09:13 am
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We are having another Nor'easter, but because the temperature is well above freezing we are having rain. Our weather folk are wondering whether how bad the flooding will be if we get the threatened maximum of 5" of rain. I myself am imagining what 5" of rain would have looked like as snowfall and am very grateful that it's rain.

After this weekend we are promised a week of partly/mostly sunny with temps in the 50s and 60. A great week for yard work.

I have Real Work to do today as penance for having edited photos when I should have been tending to my Day Job last week. I am also six photos away from my 10,000th upload to Flickr and am thinking it should be something special. Dodo's Nopalxochia, perhaps, or mine, or some other really spectacular shot from the Flower Show. If I stuck with the ones in sequence, it would be a perfectly fine but not spectacular Haworthia. That's not fair -- it's probably spectacular to Haworthia enthusiasts. Thought must be given.

Despite the warmer temps outside, the Nor'easter has made it chilly in my office -- right now it's 56F. So I'm bundled up just like in the depths of winter as the damp wind howls outside. We're having some leakage problems. This rain is overwhelming our gutters' ability to cope.

EDIT: Later I'll want to remember, so it's good to write this stuff down. Last night I potted up four rooted cuttings of basil 'pesto perpetuo' in 3 oz plastic cups. The day before yesterday (which would be March 11) I potted up six rooted coleus cuttings in one 6" pot -- three of 'the flume' and three of a fantasy-leaved variety that I believe is 'burning bush.' I also took four cuttings of the rather leggy purple tradescantia and took the marjoram seedlings downstairs to put them under lights. I've been peeking at the impatiens impatiently, but realized today that they were sown less than a week ago. How time flies.
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2010-02-15_18flowershowPhoto, right: Union general George McClellan (who doesn't deserve this placement on the City Hall apron as much as General Meade does) with Flower Show banner

I was up at (*groan*) 5:00, naturally. But I didn't do the dry run of grooming etc. -- it was enough to know that I could have been out the door at 5:30 if I had wanted to.

It's snowing again -- oh, goody. I need to check my post office box, so I think I may ride the bus there and walk home.

On the plant report, some of the fancier coleus are starting to show signs of distress. Even under grow-lights, 'the flume' developed stem rot -- as did the 'kiwi fern' in a hanging planter in the sitting room. I noticed them after they had wilted but before they completely collapsed, so I took cuttings and rehydrated them. There appear to be fungus gnats in the basement again, too, grr. Pyrethins and NEEM oil are probably called for. That BT stuff didn't seem to make a dent in them.

Oh, and here's a Flower Show backstory that warms my heart: plant rescue!

http://www.nj.com/gloucester/index.ssf?/base/news-5/1266212410226410.xml&coll=8
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Up at 6:00. Dressed, groomed and partially caffeinated by 6:20. On a day that the roads are dry and I can bike, that will be good enough. For days on the bus I need to be out the door by 6:00 if I want any floor time before my tour.

They're threatening us with snow today/tomorrow, but not too much. Three inches, they're saying, maybe less. *Yawn.* The snow isn't supposed to start till late this afternoon, so I should be able to fit in the other part of the training -- time on my feet -- before the white stuff starts to fall.

UPDATE: I bought a bus pass, too the 17 bus to 5th and Market, and walked home in a very leisurely fashion, taking pictures as I went. It took me almost 2 hours to do a little under three miles including my various detours off the straight path, but there were a lot of stops. And the last mile went *very* slowly because my knees were complaining.

Now I'm home and waiting for the ibuprofen to kick in, drinking coffee and watching the lazy snowflakes flutter from a leaden sky.
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City schools and offices closed today (Thursday.
City schools and offices closed tomorrow (Friday.
Our street is plowed by still snow-covered.

The Scamp caught a mouse this morning -- Roy watched him toy with it. An hour later he was still toying with it and the poor thing wasn't dead yet. Shortly thereafter, the Scamp got tired of the game, dispatched the mouse, and went off to eat his cat food. The mighty hunter!

The bud on my hippeastrum 'exotica' is starting to get nice and fat; the stalk is only about 4" long. 'Gervase' is taking his own sweet time.

There are many more green and gravid-looking swellings on my Nopalxochia. I'm becoming more hopeful by the day.

I have found a cure for the winter blues. Call up Pandora to some nice station (I've fine tuned a "classical and romantic" station that I think well of). In another tab, call up one of the Flickr Flower Show groups. Here are two, both already set for "slide show":

2009: http://www.flickr.com/groups/964183@N22/pool/show/
2008: http://www.flickr.com/groups/584926@N20/pool/show/

Use the little doodad in the lower right to expand the show to full-screen.

Sit back, enjoy the pretty pictures and the lovely music. Knit. Smile.
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Our 5-6 inches devolved into a giant pile of slush when it ended in mixed rain and sleet. Roy shoveled that mess off our sidewalks in a fast hurry and laid down more salt. Act II is supposed to be the potentially wallopping Nor'easter. Everything in Philadelphia is cancelled -- even the Union League is closed, except for the bar/cafe on limited hours.

I'm keeping the thermostat down (we've lowered our heating bills by about 35% this year) and keeping warm by thinking about the Flower Show. Oh, and working on my Day Job, of course...
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Snowpocalypse: The Sequel is supposed to start in a couple of hours. We're ready: new Netflix video, lots of milk, bread, eggs, and bourbon, an oven stuffer roaster defrosting and 2 lbs of pink beans all cooked up and ready to be turned into tasty entrees and/or little frozen cubes. We have 20 lb of salt, 30 lb of birdseed, and two shovels.

The Nopalxochia has five definite flower buds -- two in a row on one leaf! -- and several interesting looking swellings on other leaves. This is very exciting!

I've spent a chunk of this afternoon working on the Flower Show tour guide wiki. When it's a little further long I'll post a link behind a f-lock. It's all supposed to be a big secret but I can't for the life of me tell why...
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2010-02-06birdfeeder2

The official total for the weekend's snowfall was 28.5 inches at Philadelphia International Airport.

I believe I see two more buds about to happen on the Nopalxochia, in addition to the three previously identified. Not exactly copious bloom, but I'll take what I can get.

Roy did all the shoveling yesterday, so I did all the cooking. We had bulgur-as-oatmeal plus eggs for breakfast; a homemade chicken soup with orzo and vegetables for lunch; and pork, red beans, and rice for dinner. The pork came from the Asian supermarket -- ground pork at $.99 lb. I cooked up all 2 pounds of it, as well as the five little green peppers, one huge onion, and half a bunch of celery. I divided the meat and Holy Trinity into three portions, froze two, and used the third for dinner last night. We'll get a dinner and a lunch out of it -- pretty good stretching of 9-10 oz of cooked pork.

Next time I want to have beans and rice it's going to be an easy fix. Defrost the stuff, make the roux, combine ingredients, season, and pop in the oven.
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It's raining pitchforks and hammer-handles and the temperature is 60F. Way too hot. It's 64F in my office and feels like a heat wave.

The new hippeastrums are both showing growth. Even if they don't bloom this year (although there's no reason they shouldn't), at least they're alive. Almost all the adolescents downstairs are showing new growth, as are all the adults. Well, the mother bulb of one of them isn't doing anything, but both of its offsets are.

Still no signs of pansy seedlings.

Last fall I was tapped to be a site visitor for the Philadelphia Cultural Fund, and over the past week I have visited the Eastern State Penitentiary, the Fairmount Park Historic Preservation Trust, and Laurel Hill (the mansion, not the cemetery). I'm very impressed with the way that all three of them are meeting their very different challenges. The Laurel Hill gang really resonates with me, though -- except for a part-time secretary, they're all volunteer. They maintain a historic house, raise funds for "minor" repairs (such as $10K for new gutters and other roof work, which in my book is no minor repair), hold public events and educational programs.
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091218_02scampAverage snowfall in Philadelphia, each winter: 19 inches
Snowfall yesterday: 23 inches

Well, that would explain why we are overwhelmed.
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At press time last night, this snowstorm had dropped 22.9 inches at Philadelphia International Airport, eight miles southwest of me. There is no snow shovel in the house. Roy -- who is in Chattanooga -- broke the last one last season and never replaced it. So I will have to shovel away this record snowfall with a coal shovel that weighs more than a sledge hammer.

*Grumble*

Boy am I glad I laid down that base coat of salt.

Snow day

Dec. 19th, 2009 10:00 am
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It's so much quieter in the city when it's snowing, I guess because there are fewer vehicles on the road, or because the snow muffles the sound so that it doesn't carry as far.

We're predicted to get anywhere between 10-20 inches. I already had bread and milk when I ventured out to buy that turkey yesterday afternoon, and I have five pounds of coffee, so I'm set.

Being as Roy is in Chattanooga, I can run the thermostat down, which I did: to 58F. The thermometer in my office reads 54, and I'm happy to be wearing a hat. Fleece shawl and laprobe are nice, and I've added a fleece bathrobe. What the heck -- there's no one here to see me.

Last night I watched Sherlock Holmes on my computer. This is nice. Perhaps I will bring my knitting upstairs.

Update: I can't find the snow shovel and Mr. lbphilly is out of town. So I did the first shoveling (very necessary in order to get de-icer down on the sidewalk to make later shoveling easier) with a coal scuttle that must weigh 20 pounds all by its lonesome. Add some heavy snow to it and oh brother.

The Scamp went out and came back in pretty quick before I shoveled. After I shoveled he conceived the notion that he could go hide under the bushes and ambush the sparrows as they fed on the ground under the feeder. Perhaps he though there would be no snow under the feeder... after about ten minutes he'd had enough and wailed like a banshee to be let back in.

I think more Sherlock Holmes on Netflix may be called for. Perhaps the Hound of the Baskervilles...
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It is 59F in my home office, and the north-northwest window is, how shall we say, not fully air-tight.

In consequence, I am wearing

A tank top as an undershirt
A turtleneck
A fuzzy sweater
A fleece shawl
A pair of leggings
A pair of sweatpants
A pair of socks
A pair of fleece-lined suede clogs
And over all, one fat terrycloth bib apron
And I'm using a fleece throw, doubled over, as a lap robe

That leaves only my hands and face out, and my hair is covering my ears. But my hands don't like the temperature very much. Over on Facebook I posted a link to these nifty wristwarmers which, it appears, should keep a good bit of my hands covered. Besides, I am ovewhelmed with Teh Cute of them. I have sport-weight yarn and the appropriate size needles around the house. Let's see -- shall I use the kelly green or the baby white? Choices, choices.

Wunderground says it will be in the upper 20s with a 15 mph wind by 7:00 when I will need to bike over to the Union League to give a tour. That's sure to be pleasant. (Actually, the tour will be fun. The bike ride home, with the wind in my face, probably would be significantly improved by the wearing of a balaclava.)
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Still Life with Pumpkin MugHere in Philadelphia the prevailing winds are out of the west and don't affect me much in my third-floor home office. But I have two good-sized windows in my 11 x 10 office -- one faces north and one faces east-northeast. When a nor'easter comes roaring down from wherever nor'easters come from, the wind moans and shakes the panes of the old windows in their sashes and bullies its way through the cracks.

This is the second nor'easter I've noticed since the weather cooled, and I am suspecting that this is a portent of a cold wet winter. The last one dropped three inches of rain, which would have been 30" of snow. I wonder how this one will be -- my informal rain gauge isn't out there.

I am glad to be indoors today, wearing several layers of clothing and a lap robe and eating hot soup for lunch. Tomorrow is supposed to be the rainiest and windiest day, though, and I must venture forth.

Nor'easter

Oct. 17th, 2009 02:17 pm
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This is the third day of our rainy Nor'easter, and I'm ready for a glimpse of the sun. We almost had one a couple of hours ago --there were some weak shadows -- but it passed quickly and now it's raining again. It's a toasty 57 degrees in my office. I'm surprised I don't feel chilly, even with a fleece shawl and lap-robe.

There's almost three inches of water in a bucket I left out back. Good thing it's not fifteen degrees colder or there would be 30" of snow to be shoveled.

Today has been a Great Day of Stew Beef. This morning Roy cubed, floured, and browned more than seven pounds of beef roast that had been in the freezer for about as long as it ought to. I've turned half of it into a very rich stew that we will have over rice today, with potatoes tomorrow, and the balance frozen for lunches. The other half is becoming a rich soup/stew hybrid with hulled barley and other vegeteables. It too will become many many frozen lunches.

It's a wonderful dark damp day for a nap. Instead, I think I'll make another pot of coffee.
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We had one hot spell early on (in May, I think), but it's been pretty reasonable this summer so far. I don't believe it's gone into the 90s more than once or twice. Yesterday, by mid-afternoon, it was 76 in the shade and low humidity. I kept the central air conditioner off and the windows and exhaust fans on. My little third floor office still gets pretty hot, which the machines don't like, so I kept the room air conditioner on.

This is very nice; I hope it keeps up.
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It went down to the low 40s (F) last night. I hope my amaryllis come through all right. It would be a shame to have three years' worth of experiments brought to an abrupt halt by one cold night.

Yesterday I got out of bed and almost collapsed because of a searing pain in my right knee. I did manage to hobble to the places I needed to go, but it was very scary. The searing pain abated over the course of the day (and the consumption of many ibuprofen), but this morning it is very stiff and a bit swollen.

The sharp pain is low and on the inside, with another muscular strain thing high and on the outside.

Interestingly, I was able to ride my bike -- about five miles, total, to go to my various errands -- with only minimal discomfort. Then I had to hobble from my bike inside to my meetings. I contemplated the possible surreality of biking here and there and then using a cane to get around on foot.

This is the worst episode of knee misbehavior that I have ever had.

Rain

May. 6th, 2009 10:30 pm
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It's raining heavily right now. This makes one solid week of rain. I've really had enough. But we're stuck with it till Sunday, or so say Weather Underground.

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