Monday, August 30, 2010

This'n that - green addition

People are starting to get used to my roof, I think.  They don't stare as they go by anymore.  Today a couple that I often see on the walking trails asked me about my roof, and said that they love it.   Right away, they zoned in on what I considered to be the selling points... it helps to insulate the house, it isn't made with petroleum products, and it'll last as long as the house does.

I've been kind of leery about discussing the roof with any of the neighbours, after all the complaints that were made to the city; but was relieved to know that this couple wasn't involved in that.  Actually, from the questions that they asked me, I get the impression that they're thinking of doing the same on their house.  I hope they do.

As an aside, they pointed out that I paid significantly less than the cost of a new vehicle for this roof.  The vast majority of people around here replace their trucks and SUV's every 4-5 years for a cool $40+K.    Knowing the modest car that I drive (and that I plan to continue driving it for many years to come) somehow made me feel more justified.  Given the choice between this or a gas guzzler; I'll happily take the new roof.

I suspect that my garden is ready to harvest, but I'm not sure.  I've never grown many vegetables, so I'm afraid of pulling them up too soon.  The peas were a flop.  Tomatoes did much better than last year's puny crop, but not a tonne. Out of three plants, I've got about 10 tomatoes.  Carrot greens are only a 3-4 inches high, so I suspect that they didn't do so well.  Beets, on the other hand, did very well.  I suspect I'll be eating fresh beets well into the new year.

I found a new store in town that specializes in humanely raised, organic meats.  The owners actually drive around to local farms, check the living conditions, select which animals they want, and transport them directly to be butchered.  (I prefer to pretend that that last part doesn't happen.)    I've been a vegetarian off and on for years.  I would prefer to be a non-meat eater, but never seem to manage it.  I will say, though, that having found this store makes me feel a lot better about the meat that I do eat.  Plus, today I had free range organic chicken for dinner.  You'll never be able to convince me that isn't better than the stuff you get at a regular grocery store.

I'm thinking of joining the No Poo movement.  This is not about constipation, as the name would imply.  This is a movement towards making your own shampoo at home, and avoiding all the chemicals, packaging and expense of buying it for 8-20 dollars a bottle.

Some say that you can use a mixture as simple as 1 cup of water/1 tbsp of baking soda.  Other recipes involve  making a tea from various herbs, and mixing it with distilled water and castile soap (or vegetable glycerin).  I'm tempted to try this out, and keep reading about the how healthy your hair will be as a result.  What's holding me back is that there's apparently an adjustment period for a few weeks until your scalp adjusts, during which your hair will seem quite greasy.  I'm not too keen on going through the greasy phase.

I also found a recipe for making my own toothpaste.  Somehow, that seems like less of leap of faith, and may actually be the next step.  Then again, a choice between bad breath and greasy hair, I think I'd prefer the greasy hair.  If I wait a few months, I can hide the grease under a toque.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

For the Zadge

The Zadge from Blue Skies and Yellow Dogs suggested that I try out yesterday's shots in black and white, so I did.  I would have posted them in the comments section of that blog entry, but I don't know how.

Also, I sometimes like sepia more than black and white, so I tried that too.  And I fiddled some too.



Black and White

Good call from the Zadge.  Black and white does have a way of exaggerating the details.

It also makes me think that maybe I should start fiddling with pictures before I post them.  Although, the truth is, I think I may be too intrinsically lazy to do that with any sort of regularity.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Big dog

I have a big dog.  She's tall, and she's got really long legs.  Being the conscientious dog owner that I am, I went out and got her the biggest dog bed I could find, so that she could stretch out and get comfortable.


Monday, August 23, 2010

Sticker Shock, Withdrawal and Cake

Over the last few years, I've taken down all of the mirrored closet doors in my house.  Most have been replaced with pine doors, but there is one small closet that needs a bi-fold door.  I wasn't able to find a bi-fold that matches the other doors in the house at the Mecca (AKA Home Depot) so today I started a search at the other home reno type stores.  At my first stop, I found a very nice lady who said that she could order what I needed in, if I'd be willing to wait 6-8 weeks.  The only catch was the price.  

The doors that I've already installed in the closets were $80 each, and bi-folds are smaller.  I was hoping that I might be able to get one for $60, maybe $75 because it needs to be special ordered.  Turns out, I was a wee bit off.  For a knotty pine bi-fold door, they wanted... wait for it.....  $360.  For a clear pine (no knots - this is what my other doors are made of) bi-fold door, the price came in at a cool $420.

For a closet door!

I guess I'll keep shopping around and looking for other options.  In the meantime, a shower curtain and rod is sounding pretty good.

The no caffeine, no aspartame efforts continue.  The withdrawal symptoms are gone, but I'm still battling a 20 year habit.  I miss pop but I am feeling better.  Saturday was the first day in a really long time that there was no swelling in my feet or ankles.  I celebrated this by wearing a pair of shoes that I'd bought a few months ago and hadn't ever been able to fit into.  I wore them to walk the dogs... maybe about 10 blocks.  They felt fine, but there were some serious blisters when I got home.  Now, the swelling in my feet is (mostly) gone; but I still can't wear shoes until the blisters heal.   It's like showing a kid candy, and telling them they can't have it.

I brought a cake into work today.  I'd made a number of substitutions and guessed at a few quantities in the recipe, so I wasn't feeling entirely confident about it.   I asked two of the guys to do a taste test before I put it out for the masses.  They've both eaten my successful baking efforts many times in the past, so they know my cooking.  I didn't think they'd mind - I kind of feel like they owe me - but one of them (let's call him Bob) refused.  When the other said it was OK rather noncommittally,  I took the chance and put the cake in the kitchen.  I also left a sign that said that if the cake was awful, Bob made it.   When he found the sign a few hours later, he threatened libel.  

I should note here that the cake is gone, and that many other reports came in that it was good.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Look it Up Cake

I have a fridge full of still-good-but-getting-kind-of-old food, so I decided to make a cake.  I have a recipe for orange blueberry cake that I haven't made for some time, and thought I'd give it a go.  The only problem was, my scale is metric and the recipe was in imperial.

I don't know how much 1 oz of cream cheese is, so I had to look up the conversion of oz to gram and weighed it.  Then I didn't believe how little 1 oz is (I though it'd be at least half a block) so I added some more.

The next step is to add eggs then alternating yogurt and the flour mixture.  Again... no idea how much 8 oz of yogurt is.  I'd forgotten the earlier conversion was, so I looked that up again.    Then I couldn't multiply 28.34 by eight in my head, so I went back to the computer to figure that out.

I measured that out, and then I'll be darned if I could find the baking powder.  I know I've got some; but it's nowhere to be found.  So I looked up how to make it myself and did that.  (It turns out, making baking powder is incredibly easy, and since the homemade version contains no aluminum, I suspect that I'll be doing this from now on.)  See below for instructions

Then, if you could believe it, I realized that when I copied out this recipe a few years ago, I'd forgotten to write down how much baking soda to use.  I had to look up other cake recipes to make a guess at that too.

My last problem was with my nifty new citrus juicer.  Since I tend to use fresh lemon or lime juice at least a few times a week, I splurged a while back for a really great juicer that strains the juice as you go, and measures it when you're done.  Except, it measures in ml instead of cups, and I needed a 1/4 cup.  I had to look that up too.

Finally, I had all my ingredients measured out and ready to go.  The cake's done now, and is looking and smelling great.  The only problem is, I realized after all that prep work that the yogurt I was using contained Splenda.  I'm not eating Splenda anymore because it doesn't sit right with me.

I guess that means that I'll be bringing it into the office tomorrow, but first I'll have to find a guinea pig to try the first piece.  After all that guess work, I'm not so sure it'll turn out.

Orange Blueberry Cake
AKA, in my case, Lemon Blueberry Cake because I didn't have oranges or orange yogurt

2 cups of sugar
1/2 cup softened butter
1 oz (28.34 grams) of softened cream cheese
4 eggs
3 cups of flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda (an educated guess)
8oz (226.8 gram) orange yogurt -I used lemon yogurt
1/4 cup orange juice - I used lemon juice
2 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 cups fresh or frozen blueberries.

  • Preheat oven to 325F
  • Grease and flour bundt pan, set aside
  • Combine sugar, butter and cream cheese, beat 3 minutes until well blended
  • Add eggs, one at a time
  • In separate bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda.  Gradually add flour mixture to butter mixture alternately with yogurt.  Being and end with flour mixture.
  • Stir in orange (lemon) juice and vanilla
  • fold in blueberries (if you're using frozen blueberries, they should still be frozen when you mix them in, or your cake will turn purple).
  • pour into prepared pan.  back for 65-75 minutes
When the cake was out of the pan but still warm, I drizzled it with a glaze that I'd made of 2 part white sugar, 1 part fresh lemon juice.  (One lemon makes about 1/2 a cup of glaze)

Homemade baking powder
1 part baking soda
1 part corn starch
2 parts cream of tartar

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Holy Smokes

There are some very serious fires burning in British Columbia right now, and we're feeling it here in Alberta.    For the last few days, the sky was somewhat hazy, but today we've been inundated with smoke.   It smells like a camp fire inside and out, and the major cities have issued air quality warnings (which is a rarity around here.)

I took this picture shortly after I got home from work tonight.

We've got a pretty impressive lightning and rain storm going on now that it took us all by surprise.  We didn't see it coming because we couldn't see the clouds blowing in.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Spare Beds

I don't have company very often, but I love it when I do.  I like to make guest feel welcome and comfortable, but I don't always have a place to put them.

I've currently got two queen beds: the one in my room, and the one in the spare room.  Since my guests tend to come in families of four or as multiple singletons, it seems like I always end up short a bed.  While I don't mind asking kids to rough it, I have a personal rule about asking anybody over 30 to ride the couch or sleep on the floor.  What that usually means is that I end up sleeping on the 20 year old futon that put my sister and I through university and has seen better days.   It's rock hard, and nobody over 10 can get any sense of good sleep while using it.

So, I've been thinking of getting something for my computer room, which is too small for anything larger than a twin.  (Not including the nooks and crannies, it's 7 1/2' by 9 1/2'.)  In a perfect world, I'd find a daybed that could be tarted up to look like a sofa of sorts.  If I had the money, I'd go with this:

Considering that I don't usually have company more often than a couple of nights a few times a year, do you think that'd be crazy?

Somehow, the idea of a new futon or a blow up bed just doesn't compare.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Tuesday Brain Dump

  • I'm doing my regular job this week, plus covering for two others.  Today another coworker called in sick.   My brain is fried.
  • The more I get to know my new neighbour, the more I like him.  Although, I'm worried that if I say that anymore, he'll think I'm putting the moves on him.  He's the perfect combination of friendly and mind-your-own-business.  Plus, he's landscaping his yard and removing the half-done rental suite in his basement.  I hope he stays for a long, long time.
  • I gave myself a homemade pedicure today, which involved using my Dremel.  I discovered this method when I started using the Dremel to file Tula's toenails.  I was worried that I might hurt her if I went too short, so I tried it on myself.  I discovered that not only does it not hurt, it works like a hot damn to get rid of calluses.
  • Speaking of feet, I have had an ongoing problem with swelling in mine for a while.  I don't want to bore you with all the details, but suffice to say that any and all shoes are painful.  The good news is that a week ago, my dad may have hit upon a solution. I'm already seeing improvement, and I'm starting to hope that I will once again be able to fit them into these beauties, which I haven't been able to wear in almost a year.

Hey, I'm a child of the 80's.  I can't help that pointed toes and skinny heels call my name.
  • With work being crazy and it being gardening season, I had to sweep a small area of the floor clean to take that picture.  I blame the dogs for the mess.  They wander as they eat, and they leave kibble crumbs everywhere.  I'm considering investing in a roomba.  Or a food-oriented dog.
  • The solution that my dad may have found is a report that says aspartame can cause excess fluid buildup in some people.    I wasn't convinced but decided to give it a shot.  I'm a week in, and the change is quite drastic.  
  • However, I'm really, really sick of water.  If you don't drink pop, coffee, tea or alcohol, there really aren't many options.  I know water's healthy, but it's boring as all heck. 

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Speaking up

Do you speak up when you see another person or an animal being mistreated?  I think a lot of us want to, but it's not easy.

A friend was recently telling me about a study she read, where they set up situations with paid actors and kept track of how people responded to other's mistreatment.  They set up the study so that obese people, seemingly disabled people, children and then senior citizens were yelled at and taunted loudly in public.  Nobody spoke up for any of them, except for the seniors; and in that case almost everybody spoke up to defend them.

Maybe we're too non-confrontational, or maybe we're afraid.  Maybe we just don't care anymore.  (I hope that's not true.)  Whatever the reason, we're not getting involved.

That's true for me.  I am very uncomfortable with confrontation, and I'm hyper aware of imposing myself on others.  I wouldn't want to misinterpret a situation, and then say something inappropriate.  Most of the time, I'll stay quiet rather than step in where I'm not welcome.  Except when animals are involved.  For animals, I'll usually get involved.

I came upon a small dog that had been left in a vehicle in a parking lot today.  I was torn between deciding if it was too hot (24C, 75F) to safely leave a dog in the car or not.    It was barking nonstop and bouncing around the truck, so I decided that it wasn't likely to be in distress.  I talked about it with another lady who was there and worried about the dog, and together we decided that I'd call if the dog was still there when I came out of the store.

Ten minutes later, as I was checking out, I could see that the truck was still there in the parking lot.  I mentioned it and my concern for the dog to the cashier, and she said that staff is not supposed to get involved.

I went out to the truck again.  The dog wasn't barking anymore, but was still standing on the back seat.  I decided (hoped) that it must be OK if it was still standing.  However, the windows were too dark for me to see if the dog was panting or drooling.

I left.  I didn't want to deal with the confrontation, and I didn't want to assume the worst of the owners.   Maybe they'd had the air conditioning going on full blast until they left the truck, and maybe they'd be back momentarily.   Maybe it wasn't any of my business.  Maybe they'd yell at me if I did say something.  Plus,  I didn't have my cell with me.

So, I carried on.  I drove to the next store, and as I did so, it occurred to me that I was pretty hot.  My sun roof had been open the whole time, but the windows were closed.  It occurred to me that if I was that hot in the few moments that it took to get to the next store, the dog would be even hotter.  I decided that when I got to the next store, I'd ask to use the phone and call for help.

The next store was closed.    I couldn't do nothing, so I went back to the big box store.  Sure enough the truck and the dog were still there.  I wrote down the license plate number and went to customer service.  I explained that the dog had been there at least 15 minutes, and that it's too hot outside to leave dogs in cars.  She asked if the windows were open, and I told her just a crack.  I also told her how hot my car was, and that my sun roof had been open.  She agreed to call for help.  I asked her again.  "So if I leave this with you, you'll call?"  Yes, she said.  I reminded her that the SPCA is closed on Sundays, and that she'd have to call the police.  She said she'd call.

Figuring that I'd done all that I could do, I left.  As I left, I heard through my now-open windows as the owner of the truck was paged on the overhead.

Now I'm worried.  What if the owners didn't respond?  What if they scoffed at my concerns and went back to their shopping?  Would customer service then call the police as I'd asked?  How long would they wait?

It's been a couple of hours since I've left the store, and I'm still worried about that dog.  I'm not sure what I could have done differently, but I wish I'd done more.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Approach at your own risk.

On Tuesday night, I decided that NOW is the time to cut aspartame from my diet.  I know that aspartame is bad for you.  I know that it's got no redeeming qualities, and there's no reason why I should include it in my diet.  Except.  It comes in diet coke, and I me some love diet coke.

I thought of switching from diet coke to regular coke, but I don't like it.  I could probably become accustomed to it, the way I grew to like skim milk instead of 2%, but there's no real benefit to regular coke either.  And, it has 16tsp of sugar in each can.  I don't need that much sugar.

So, not being a coffee or tea drinker, it seems that I have suddenly cut caffeine from my diet.  Cold Turkey.  Now.  Today is day three, and it hasn't been easy. Headaches, the shakes and crankiness... it's all there.

I was hoping that the withdrawal would only last a week, but a kindly coworker told me that two weeks is probably more accurate.  Great. ... But it's still gotta be done.  In the meantime,though, it seems as though everybody in the collective world has joined together and decided that now is the time to Piss Me Off.

I wish they'd stop that.

...Somebody hand me a diet coke.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Almost A Month in the Making...

Carma over at Carma Sez posted a list of 25 things about herself and invited her readers to do the same.  I'm not sure if I can come up with 25, but I thought I'd start out and see how long this takes.  (I started on July 14.)

  1. I don't drink alcohol.   I can't tell you why, but I knew by my early teens that I wouldn't. This is not because of moral objections, health restrictions or a personal stand; it's just not something that I have any desire to do.  
  2. I don't drink coffee either.  I love the smell of it, hate the taste.
  3. When I was a baby, I learned how to stand and walk much earlier than most by grabbing onto my family's  Old English Sheepdog's hair and pulling myself up.  She used to happily stand still and support me while I found my balance. Although she died while I was so young that I don't remember her, I suspect she's why I've always had a deep-seated love for animals, and that breed in particular.
  4. I was born a natural lefty.  My parents took things out of my left hand and put them into my right until my right hand became more dominant.  Now I'm mostly a righty, but I'm more capable with my left hand than the average person.
  5. I have no piercings or tattoos.
  6. I think my favorite sound is the sound of a pop can being opened.  
  7. The sight of Tallulah going up the stairs slowly (ie - one step at a time) cracks me up, especially if I'm behind her.   The sound, the rhythm, the wiggle... it's awesome.  Sadly, she usually sprints to the top at the speed of light.
  8. I have a piebald birthmark that covers 2/3 of my left leg.  It used to be really red and obvious, but thankfully it has lightened a lot as I've aged.
  9. I can't tell my left from my right. 
  10. I'm toxically allergic to fish and seafood.  Even the smell makes it difficult for me to breath.  
  11. I usually crack open a diet coke by 9:00am.    Although, the early start doesn't necessarily mean that I drink copious amounts of it.  I try to limit myself to one or two a day.
  12. I unintentionally use $5 words when stating the obvious or speaking sarcastically.  
  13. I prefer winter over summer; but fall is my favorite season because it doesn't have mosquitoes.  I hate mosquitoes, more than I could possibly express in one blog entry.
  14. I love to watch storms.  The more rain and hail there is, the more I like to watch.
  15. I have never eaten a chicken wing, and have no intention of doing so.
  16. Even though I work in IT, I'm a bit of a luddite, in that don't feel much need to keep up with technology.  My cell is powered off 99% of the time and only carried for security.  I don't have an IPod or MP3 player.  I only have one tv, and I don't have a DVD or blueray player.  
  17. I have a reputation for being a really good cook.  The truth is that I don't think I'm particularly skilled in the kitchen; it's just that I can recognize good recipes when I see them.  I've got an excellent collection of great recipes.    That, and I cook from scratch using fresh ingredients.
  18. I am continually disappointed in most sit down restaurant foods.   
  19. I don't think I'll ever live in a home without pets.  A house without animals is empty to me.
  20. I have a personal rule about not having more than 50 "friends" on Facebook.  I think that people who have 300+ Facebook friends are deluding themselves.
  21. I am horribly uncomfortable in crowds, even large groups of friends or family.
  22. Despite this, it has become apparent through work that I am evidently quite skilled at facilitating meetings.  Although it's not in my job description, it has somehow come about that I've been named the chair of almost all of the meetings in which I participate.
  23. I credit this skill to the two years in which I participated in Toastmasters.  
  24. That, and the fact that I'm a control freak.
  25. My dad's Mensa.  I'm not.

Monday, August 9, 2010


It's hot outside, and somebody doesn't like it.  He parked himself beside the fan as soon as I came home and turned it on.

... and he's still there a couple of hours later...

I think it's safe to say that he's fairly aptly named.

Sunday, August 8, 2010


I don't think of my pets as siblings.  I think of them as part of my family; because to me family consists of pets.  This doesn't mean that I think any less of the pets; just that - to me - they aren't siblings.

They're living beings that share the same house.  They coexist.  They probably have a better relationship with each other than they do with the pets next door or around the corner; but they aren't siblings.

Winter and Cotton are a perfect example of this.  One of the primary reasons why I got Cotton was because I couldn't have any more cats and I worried that Winter would be lonely. (Winter was exposed to the FIP virus, which can be deadly to cats.)  They bonded right away, and were almost inseparable in their early years.  In my mind, Cotton became Winter's dog, and Winter is Cotton's cat.   But I've never referred to them as brothers.

Until today.

I was in the kitchen cooking, and I suddenly heard Cotton growling.  At first I didn't pay it much attention, but when he continued on, I went to investigate.  Cotton had gone off to one of the smaller crates for some quiet, and the cat had apparently followed him.

Not only was he standing on top of the crate peering down, he was periodically bopping the top of it to be sure to make his presence known.

It occurred to me then that, siblings or not, I can't think of anything more big brotherly than the way that Winter taunts his little dog.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

The New Neighbours

Having new neighbours scares me.  I'm not very tolerant of other people's noise or messes, so I'm always afraid of what I'm in for while living in close proximity to new people, until I can get a sense of them.   Regardless of how bad the previous neighbours have been, at least I know what to expect from them and have learned to work around it.  It's the unknown that scares me.  For the most part, I've been really lucky with my neighbours around here; but the ones that have been bad have been legendarily bad.  Around here, people seem to reach for extremes in being really good, down-home folk, or being absolutely miserable to be around.

The evil neighbours moved out while I was in Grande Prairie, and their replacements arrived shortly after I came home.

The jury's still out on the replacements, but so far they seem promising.  They're relatively quiet, and stay to themselves.  They seem to understand that even though their back deck overlooks my yard, they should pretend that they don't see me when I'm out there.  That's a good thing.  I can't say that I like the fact that the whole neighbourhood smells like fabric softener when they do their laundry, but that's an improvement over having to smell the evil neighbours' weekly feast of sour cabbage.  

Even better, I see that they've already removed the trees that the evil neighbour planted on the property line.  Those trees were poplars (very invasive) and planted inches away from my fence.  If they were allowed to grow there much longer, they'd have destroyed my fence. I've been asking the evil neighbour to get rid of them since they were planted, with no response; but the new guy took them out on his own right away.

Overall, I think it might be safe for me to breath that sigh of relief... the new neighbour seems to be a keeper.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Things parents don't think of.

Mosquitoes are really bad around here lately.  Our record rainfall has resulted in mosquito heaven, and they're so bad that people are avoiding to be outside.  The other day, I went out in long pants, a long sleeved shirt, socks and shoes; and I still came in with welts all over my arms, legs and ankles.  It makes me want to stay inside.  It makes me wish for fall.  Oddly, it makes me think of golf.

My parents are golfers.  My mom in particular is really good, and plays every day (sometimes a few times a day).   I suppose it makes sense that they'd want me to golf too, but it wasn't really my thing.  I'd go out for the obligatory games a couple of times every week.  I'd take 3 hours to golf 9 holes, and I was miserable the whole time.  Why, you might ask? Well, I'll tell you.

Our golf course - the one for which my parents bought me a membership; and by golly, if they were going to buy me a membership, I'd use it - is a very established course, full of mature trees and lush greenery.  It is situated inside of a bend in the river.  It's one of those swanky courses, where only members are welcome, where dress codes are enforced and where juniors are only allowed to golf in the evenings.

I'll translate that for you:  our parents sent us out under the guise of whacking a ball around the course twice a week, when really our main purpose out there was to act as bate during the mosquitoes' prime hunting hours.

I'd go out there, hit the ball 12-15 times a hole, spend the whole time trashing around, swing my club at the clouds of mosquitoes and do the 'got bit again' jig.  It's no wonder I never developed any skills on the course.  I was too busy out there, fighting for my life.

Note to the 'rents: the violin lessons were a much better idea.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Early Summer Gardens

The gardens aren't in great shape this year.  We've had a record amount of rain, and being waterlogged has stunted the growth of or killed a lot of the plants.

Today, I battled the (also record breaking) mosquito population to go out and deal with the weeds.  The weeds seem to be doing a much better job of surviving our monsoons than my plants.  Even the marigolds, which are usually almost indestructible,  have shriveled up and died.

There is, however, one garden that has done OK.  It's on the south west side of the house, and is sheltered from most of the rain.  It's the only garden that isn't practically under water.  A portion of it is dedicated to my favorite annuals (sweet peas, cosmos and lavatera carnations because the cat ate my lavatera seeds.)

Check out those cosmos.  I wish I'd kept the seed packages, because I somehow ended up with huge mutant cosmos.  Last week, there were some that were bigger than my hand.

A little further along is a section of veggies.  Normally, I mix veggie plants into the flowers, but this year I had a space that needed to be filled.  Conveniently, my dad had finished planting his veggie garden, and I swiped his leftover seeds.  As a result, I now have a veggie patch that is growing beets, carrots, onions and (somewhat struggling) green peas along the back.

There are also peonies, stonecrop and a juniper in there too.  The veggies are just place holders until those grow to their full size.

Speaking of growing into it's full size, I have had a love affair with one William Baffin for the last three summers.  Somebody recommended him to me a number of years ago, and while it took a few years to meet potential, he's all that and a bag of chips now.  William Baffin is a rose bush, and it produces masses of dark pink roses for up to a month.

I've got a bush planted on either side of the gate into the dog pen, and they're starting to get too big for their britches.  Every year, when the blooms finally start to fade, I whack William back to half size so that the entrance to the pen is cleared.  Every year, it grows back - plus some.  This year, it grew with such vigor that it started to crowd out some surrounding plants.  When they didn't get out of the way, the roses started to fade.  Finally, I had to make the choice between William and my other plants, and William won.

You can see bottom left where the fight for space is starting to show.

The baby's breath is going to the big compost heap in the sky.  It's a great filler plant, so I would have liked to transplant it; but its taproot doesn't take well to being moved.

Tomorrow, I tackle the yarrow that's winning the space battle on the right hand side of the gate.  I love this variety of yarrow, so I'll have to find space for it somewhere else... probably the front yard.  It just can't stay where it is.