Saturday, March 31, 2012

Re-purposing Water Bottles

I admire inventive and creative minds.  People who solve problems creatively always impress me and the other day my assistant impressed me with this great idea:  a plastic bottle watering can.

For her up-coming gardening display at the library, she wanted to have some living examples of gardening and so she purchased some soil, some peat pots and some marigold seeds.  She chose marigolds because they sprout quickly – 7 to 10 days – and she wanted to have some green in the display from the outset. 

The newly planted marigolds were placed on trays and set in on the window sills in the staff room where they can soak up the sun as they burst from their seed pods and form into plants.  For the first two days, my assistant took them one-by-one over to the sink to be watered.  This got old fast and she decided there had to be a better way of watering the small pots without making a mess.  We water the big plants in the library with a juice jug.  It was just too big for the job. 

She considered going to the store and purchasing a small watering can.  What’s a couple of dollars when it means an awesome display? 

Librarians are nothing if not frugal.  From the first day of their employment the word budget is woven into everything they do often accompanied by the words tight or restrictions.  Want and need are clearly defined.  My assistant realized that a small watering can for a temporary project fell quite definitively into the category of want.  And so she got creative!

She took a 500 ml water bottle out of the recycling bin and, using a push pin, poked holes in a circular pattern near the top of it.  She then filled it with water, put the top back on and proceeded – successfully! – to water the marigolds in their little peat pots by squeezing the water out through the holes.  It was the perfect no-cost solution! 

Use a push pin to poke holes near the top of the bottle.
I decided to try to make my own, larger version of this practical little invention.  I took a 2 litre pop bottle and poked holes into it like my assistant had done with the smaller water bottle.  It works great! 

This cheap project takes mere seconds to complete and can be totally customized.   Use a small bottle for smaller plants and a larger bottle for larger plants.  Changing the pattern of the holes will also change the spray area.  Adjusting the pressure with which you squeeze the bottle will accommodate different plants’ different needs. I suggest that you make a few in different sizes and see what works best for you.  The rejects can still be recycled! 

Squeeze the water out in a gentle spray.
I’m so looking forward to my assistant’s gardening display, which will include a sample and instructions for making her plastic bottle watering can as well as the future marigolds.  When the time comes to change the display, we will give the marigolds to the kids that attend Story Time as gifts of appreciation for coming to our program.  We may even show them how to make their own watering bottle so they can continue to take care of the flowers.  

Stay tuned for the book spinner garden - coming soon!

Saturday, March 10, 2012

The Flu Comes to Alegria

It all started last Tuesday…  Well, it all probably started with the Big Bang, but I think a more recent launching point is more appropriate… So, last Tuesday morning I awoke to a slight crick in my neck.  This is nothing to get alarmed about as cricks in the neck have plagued me since I was injured on a trampoline 35 years ago.  I put it down as a reminder of youthful stupidity and carried on with my week.
On Wednesday, I felt like I was developing a slow leak in my energy reserves.  Again, I didn’t think much of it, really.  I mentally kicked myself for slacking off on my exercising and told myself that I would get back into the routine on Thursday.

On Thursday, I was a tad sluggish getting out of bed.  Instead of getting up and getting moving, I lolled about for an extra half an hour, trying to snuggle with Oliver, who wasn’t very snuggly and just wanted me to get up and feed him.
By the end of the day, I was worn out.  I managed to assist my daughter in setting up a bookkeeping spreadsheet for her business in the evening, but as soon as she left, I flopped into bed.  Now I was beginning to wonder what was up.  When I woke up at midnight with my book lying on my chest, I noticed that the crick was worse.  Oh, dear.
Friday dawned with a promise of spring in the air.  But I couldn’t have cared less.  My neck was aching badly and I just wanted to crawl back into bed and stay there.
This is not like me!  Not at all!  I’m typically up and moving between six and six-thirty a.m.  My normal routine is to don my workout clothes and set up my lap top in front of my Gazelle from which I watch some sitcom on Netflix.  The purpose of the sitcom is to time myself on the Gazelle and add some entertainment value.  After I’m done on the Gazelle, I stretch for a few minutes and then clean Oliver’s litter box.  (While I’m there, I might as well get it over with.)  Back upstairs I hop into the shower, get dressed, settle in at the table to check my e-mail and have a bite to eat before packing my lunch and heading off to work.  If at all possible, I walk to work.
This past week I’ve barely been able to keep my eyes open passed 9 p.m.  I’ve been slightly grumpy and sensitive.  I’ve had no energy.

I was looking forward to having company on Friday evening in spite of the low energy.  When my company called to say that they were unable to make it over because they were suffering from a terrible cold, I was a bit bummed, but I understood.  Perhaps it was all for the best.  I really wasn’t feeling all that great either.  We promised to connect again post-rhinovirus and I decided to get into my pyjamas and just have a quiet evening on the sofa.

Then it happened!

Without warning it felt like the temperature in the house had dropped to zero.  I was shivering and the crick in my neck spread out through my whole body attacking my joints with stabbing pain.  My guts started to gurgle and then roil and then I prepared myself for a Vesuvian eruption of the rejected repast I had partaken of earlier.
Vomiting is not among my favourite activities.  In fact, I have not vomited since I was in labour with my oldest daughter over 29 years ago and it is my determined intention never to do so again.  But still, I was prepared!  I set a bowl down on the foot stool next to the sofa, added a sweater, warm socks, a blankie and a heated magic bag and focused on not puking.

Of course, we all know that when a true flu bug hits, it’s going to come out one end or the other.  I will spare you the details.  Suffice it to say that I managed not to throw up and almost as soon as I didn’t throw up, I fell asleep on the couch.  It was 8:30.

At ten o’clock I was woken up by Oliver, whose deep concern for my wellbeing – after all my behaviour was quite out of the norm – caused him to drop one of his toy mice on my face, a sure way of getting my attention.  I looked at him and groaned.  He pawed at the mouse, hopeful for a game of fetch.  I groaned again and tossed the sodden thing across the room.  That bought me about three seconds to crawl out from under the blanket and sit up.
Having accomplished sitting up, I endeavored to heave my aching, shivering body off the couch and shuffle off to bed, still wearing the sweater, the socks and cocooned in the blanket.  I attempted to read a page or two of my book, but that was out of the question.  Two sentences in, I gave up and turned out the light. 

The next thing I knew it was 9 a.m. 

Every joint in my body is screaming with pain, including my knuckles.  Typing this missive is not going well or fast.  My guts are still gurgling, but the roiling has subsided and I’m relatively sure that if I stick to sipping water and nibbling on soda crackers I’ll be fine in a day or two.
So much for working on my spare room this weekend!  The thought of scraping the last of the wall paper (I’m so close, too!) and beginning the filling and sanding portion of the project is simply beyond my ability at the moment.  I’m going to have a shower and get dressed and head down town though.  There are a few errands that need to be attended to and Oliver simply cannot be depended on to see them through.
Thank goodness this doesn’t happen very often.  I can’t remember the last time I had the flu.  Every couple of years I get a doozy of a cold, but the flu is extremely rare.  I’ve felt under the weather now and then – achy and low on energy – but not like this.  This is so not fun! 

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Ten Random Things About Me

This blog was inspired by my daughter, who posted a blog with the same title last week.  So I have challenged myself to come up with ten tidbits about myself to share with you.  Here we go…

1.    1.  I HATE to travel.  I am a consummate homebody and pseudo-hermit.  I have no desire to sleep in strange beds or eat strange foods.  If I want to see something in the world I Google it – photos work for me.  Although, I must admit, I would like to see the Canadian Maritimes and spend a few days with my grandkids in Drumheller. 

2.    2. I HATE being too warm.  Turn down the heat.  Put a sweater on if you’re cold!  Seriously, you can keep the tropics; I’ll happily stay in the Great White North.

3.    3. I LOVE to knit.  I love to design my own patterns and one day I hope to publish a book of original patterns.  I have a particular love for designing and making socks.  The more colourful and funky the better.

4.    4. I HATE driving.  I could happily cut up my license and never sit behind the wheel of a vehicle again.  While it is a handy skill to have and I can almost enjoy it when it’s really cold out, I actually prefer to walk whenever I can – or be chauffeured.

5.    5. I’m an extremely fussy eater.  I do not possess an adventurous palate in any way.  Seafood, especially, is something I avoid, though I do like the popcorn shrimp at Joey’s Only. 

6.    6. Last year I bought my own house.  It’s fabulous and I am having an absolute blast personalizing it.  Last summer I built a 40’ labyrinth in my back yard and this winter I painted a 9’ X 4’ mural on my living room wall.  I’m currently attempting to renovate my spare bedroom and am in the process – the very slow process – of scraping two layers of wall paper over which someone painted off the walls.  I’m pretty sure those walls will be textured! 

7.    7.  I am a bit of a taphophile, meaning that I love wondering around cemeteries.  I am documenting the Houston Municipal Cemetery and have photographed about ¾ of the graves so far.  When I’m forced to travel, the first thing I look for is the local cemetery. 

8.    8.  I have two grandchildren.  Being a grandmother is awesome.  There’s room in my life for many more, but I’m not holding my breath.  The two I have are incredible little people and I wish I was closer to them so we could spend more time together.

9.    9.   I have a cat named Oliver.  His name means olive tree and I chose it because the olive branch is a symbol of peace.  Contrary to his name, however, life with Oliver is not always very peaceful. But it’s very cool that he plays fetch!

10. 10.  My formal education consists of a GED certificate and my YIT 500 hour diploma.  A handful of other certificates grace a binder in my office for things like Reflexologist and Medicine Wheel Facilitator, but my primary education has been in the school of life.  I give myself a high C+/low B- as far as grades go.  But my greatest achievement – a solid A+ - is for my three amazing daughters.  They make everything worthwhile.

      Well, that’s it!  You can check out my daughter’s blog ( and compare!