Doing what everyone else does (aka working on our laptops at a coffee shop)

Today is Veteran’s Day.  That means, among other things of course, that Tim and I both have this Tuesday off.  It feels like a free day – no weekend chores to run, no places to be, no obligations.  So what are we doing?  Sitting at Panera, working on our laptops, drinking coffee, and eating cinnamon scones.

I know it may sound silly, but “taking our laptops to the coffee shop to work” has always sounded like fun to me.  I mean, when I was getting my MBA and had tons of annoying group work, occasionally we would meet in coffee shops to work on projects.  It was so frustrating – trying to find room for books, notes, coffee, and laptops.  I thought it would be fun to go to a coffee shop and just work on my own personal stuff.  Yet, for some reason I’ve never done it!  But today is the day.

I have to say, like most things in life, it sounds much more romantic than it really is.  First of all, we drove to 2 Starbucks and one Dunn Brothers looking for a place that actually had room for Tim and me to sit down.  I don’t know if it’s because it’s Veteran’s Day and a lot of people are off of work, but every place was packed!!  I mean Starbucks has pretty good coffee, but it’s not THAT good.  It was super frustrating.  Thus, we ended up at Panera which has just OK coffee but amazing scones and more places to put cheeks in the seats.

And that brings me to this moment.  We finally made it.  What do I think?  Well, while it’s nice to get out of the house, I think I prefer my homemade aeropress coffee, our beautiful, homemade stand up kitchen table, and my cozy slippers.  Plus I don’t have to overhear annoying conversations about pivot tables and junk.  Bleh.

But maybe I am just testy today because I used a new hair gel, and my hair is annoyingly flat and gross today.  It’s my day off!  It should be gorgeous and full.  Damn hair.

So there you go.  This was a post about writing a post.  I do have interesting things to say, I swear!  Just not today. 🙂

Random bits about honey

As I mentioned last week, my last Conservation class was about honey.  Well, ostensibly, it was about sustainable agriculture.  But, it was really about honey.  Honey, I found out, is super interesting!  I cannot do the presentation justice, but here are a few interesting tidbits from Bill Crandall’s presentation.

  • Honey made from different flowers tastes different.
  • Most areas of the country like lighter honey, but our area prefers the taste of darker honey.
  • Bumble bee hives have 200 bees at their peak, and the queen overwinters in a compost pile.  She is the big bee you see in the spring.  She has to go out and gather her own food until the other bees get older.
  • A honeybee hive can be made up of 50 to 60 THOUSAND bees.
  • A bumble bee hive only has 4-5 days of honey for food; a honey bee hive can store enough honey for the whole winter.
  • If a plant suffers from a lack of pollination (which is accomplished by bees), the fruit can be lopsided, and the seeds will not be fully developed.
  • California needs 2.1 million hives for 1 month to fertilize the almond fields.  The bees get trucked in from Florida and Mexico for the month.
  • The trucks carrying the bees have to keep moving or the bees will suffocate.
  • The hives get moved 4-5 times/year to the different flowering monocultures (green deserts) around the country.  The movement is stressful on the bees.  This is ANOTHER reason why monocultures are so bad for our environment.  They are not sustainable.
  • Africanized bees have not yet figured out how to survive our winters.  They can take over a hive in the summer, however, because an africanized queen bee will emerge 4 hours earlier than a regular queen bee, and she will kill the other queen larvae.
  • The disapperance of hedge rows has been detrimental to the bee populuations.  This is where the bees used to live.
  • Honey bees are not indigenous to the US, but bumble bees are.
  • A queen lives 2-3 years, a drone lives 1.5 months, and a worker bee lives until she has 500 miles on her wings.
  • Bees stay warm in the winter by using their shiver muscles.  The move from the inside to the outstide of the hive, rotating around, so all the bees stay warm.  However, if it’s super cold, the bees will not move to a new area of the hive and can starve from lack of food.

It was a great presentation.  Bill treated us all with the cutest little bottle of honey (see pic in my Instagram feed on the right).  Very interesting stuff!

bAH!

Bah, I say!  Tonight I did absolutely nothing. Well, I tried to bake a chicken, but it was a “stew” chicken.  Which I guess means you shouldn’t try to bake it and then eat it.  It was the scrawniest-looking bird I’ve ever seen, and after it was baked, it didn’t look much better and tasted even worst.  Well, I couldn’t really get a good bite of it because it was the consistency of rubber.  It smelled delicious, but was bad in every other way.  So, I made that and then retired to the couch and Lost for the reminder of the evening.

I did nothing constructive.  I blame the greyness of the weather.  It’s the only reasonable explanation for my total lack of initiative.  Bah!  Bah, I say.

4.5 Day Weekend

Ah, weekends.  Long weekends.  They are the best.  I took off last Thursday at 11:30 and didn’t return until this morning.  We toyed with the idea of going somewhere and doing something with the extended time off, but we ended up staying pretty close to home and just chilling.

We went to Iowa City on Friday, ate some deeeeeelicious falafel from Oasis Falafel, got a couple of pints at Deadwood, looked at Dick Blick wistfully, as is my wont, and then came home.

We ate, we drank, I beat the pants off Tim at Scrabble. We made good food – good kimchi, good cookies, tasty pork roast, etc.  We watched some movies, slept in until 7 or 8 each day, went to the gym a few times.  Just enjoyed the time off and eachother, basically.

It’s so rare to be able to just spend time at home.  I always feel like we should be out DOING something.  Going somewhere, meeting people, making an effort.  Sometimes it’s just nice to veg out for a few days and enjoy our little house and our little dog.

When I came home for lunch today, I realized that I was a little homesick already.  Tim and I are already pretty dedicated homebodies, which is something we need to keep an eye on, but for 4.5 days, it was nice to just give in and be cozy.

Back in Bidness

As is my custom, I have gotten out of the custom of writing in my blog.  Again.  I’m not sure why.  We’ve had quite a bit of “action” lately.  The Beentz was here for a visit, Tim’s mom was here for a visit, I took a watercolor class at the Figge, I agonized over getting a smart phone and finally broke down and got one and then traded it in for the iPhone 4s, my mom bought me an awesome $15 standup desk from Salvation Army, we ran a 5K.  What else?  Hmm…  I found another school program I am interested in – Human Computer Interaction at Iowa State University.  Maybe I’ll do it?  That’s about the past month or two real quick-like.

On to the present, today we are cooking!  This morning I tried a roasted chickpea recipe from Fitness Magazine.  They probably would have turned out deliciously if I hadn’t over cooked them by at least 5 minutes.  The chickpeas that were not reduced to ash were actually pretty tasty.  I’ll have to try that recipe again.

Right now we are cooking up some delicious minestrone and acorn squash.  I made the absolute best chocolate chip cookies on Thursday, and I froze half the dough, so I might bake up some of those up tonight too.  Once the cold, windy weather sets in, I’m all for keeping the oven on all day.

Tim and I played a game of Carcassone, ate some Buffalo Wild Wings, and listened to some great music this afternoon.  Did some laundry, kissed Lucent on the head lots, dyed my hair dark brown.  Overall, it’s been a pretty excellent Sunday.  Here’s to me getting back on track with blogging and with healthy eating & exercise habits (which have been absolutely disgusting lately).

Take care, and don’t forget to the watch the Simpsons Halloween special tonight!!

Home Sick Today

I came down with a nasty cold yesterday – the kind of cold where you always need to have a tissue on hand because at any second, liquid snot will just start pouring out of your nose.  I mean pouring – like water pouring out of a faucet.  All the moisture from my nose vacated, so during the night I had to get up and put a moist washcloth over it to protect the fragile, exposed cartilage.  I need some mucus back up in there.

I went to work this morning because my nose seemed better and because at our office we have Paid Time Off (PTO) which means we don’t get sick days.  We just get days to use for whatever.  I, of course, have all of mine allocated to fun stuff like Benny & Nate visits, trips and what not.  But I had to break down and use some of my precious time today.  I took a brief 10-minute stroll with a co-worker this morning, and when I got back to my chair, the aches set in – all in my legs, my hands, my head.  In the span of 10 minutes I went from feeling poorly to feeling horrible.  So home I went.

After a nappy-poo I watched the first Firefly episode, then I tried to read The Dispossessed.  It’s a great book, but my fever-addled brain could make no sense of the words on the page, so I put it down and watched Good Will Hunting.

There is nothing like laying around all day, doing nothing, and then watching a movie about a genius to make one feel inadequate and as if one is not living up to one’s full potential.  I’m not sure it was the best movie to watch in my state.

But tomorrow is another day.  Hopefully I will be feeling better and will be able to accomplish something of use.

An Evening Stroll

Tim and I were in a quandary as to what to do last night.  We talked about going to the fair, but we didn’t feel like braving the crowds and the heat just for access to delicious, horrible junk food.  We talked about seeing a movie (Captain America or Rise of the Planet of the Apes, perhaps), but we missed the matinee cutoff and so were dissuaded by the expensive ticket prices.

Finally we decided to just leave the house and follow the wind.  Actually, there was no wind last night – just heat and humidity, so we followed the lights instead.  We drove past the fairgrounds, and everything and everyone we saw there convinced us that we did not want to go in.  Teenagers now, evidently, think that white booty shorts are the pinnacle of fashion and sexiness.  I saw outfits I have not seen on a walking, talking human being since watching “The Dukes of Hazard” after school 20 years ago.

Just writing that paragraph made me realize how my perspective has flipped.  I am at the age now where I can refer to something that happened 20 years ago and that something happened when I was a fully functional, remembering human being.  I am also complaining about the clothes of “young people.”  Well, to be honest, the clothes of slutty young people.  I’m sure I complained about that when I was “young person” myself.  I use quotation marks because “young person” is completely relative, both to the person saying it and the person hearing it.

I digress.  After driving past the fair, windows down and eyeballs boggled, we coasted downtown through some west-end neighborhoods bursting with non-Central Davenport personality.  We finally hit River Drive by Credit Island and followed 61 into downtown.

Davenport recently create a new park, Centennial Park, which is where the RAGBRAI riders deluged the Mississippi.  The City created a spray park, replete with garish shower heads that look like the sexual organs of plants and oddly shaped, very steep hills.  It’s actually a very cool, unique site.  The randomness of the hills and banks hides the spray park from a river view and provides some somewhat challenging hiking for kids.  The City even built, or is in the process of building (growing, I guess?), a meadow.  A real meadow.  Davenport has planted (or allowed to grow naturally – not sure which) prairies/meadows all along Duck Creek.  The intent is to keep pollutants out of the creek and to reduce the amount of mowing that needs to be done around the creek.  The meadows are absolutely beautiful.  Over the course of the spring and summer,  the flowers, grasses and colors change, providing something to distract your eye while you’re pounding the pavement or cycling past.  I am hoping that the meadow downtown turns out similarly.  It will be really beautiful down there eventually.

Next we strolled over the Veterens Memorial Park.  It’s not quite done yet; at this point it’s just some granite boxes, some lights, and 3 huge flag poles jutting into the sky.

Finally we headed over to the basketball courts/skate park, only to realize that the park is bifurcated by a fence north of the rail road tracks.  From what we could see in the night, visitors to the park cannot walk between the two park sections unless they head out to Marquette Street.  I don’t know why the park designers would set the park up this way.  Doesn’t make a lot of sense.

We strolled back to the car, admiring the lit-up Centennial Bridge and the sapphire sky.  What a beautiful evening.

I read an article in Women’s Health yesterday about happiness.  What I got from the article was that you can’t rely on the “big” moments in life to keep you happy – getting married, having kids, buying a house, etc.  These moments happen too infrequently, so those highs are followed by too long of a valley.  Humans have a remarkable ability to adapt, too, so we adjust to the new level of happiness quickly and fail to notice our transformed state.  The article recommended finding happiness in daily life – the evening stroll with your best friend, a baby frog chilling out in your flowers, the sleepy eyes on your warm chihuahua, a breeze that brings a scent of salty ocean. These moments happen every day, every hour, if you take the time to notice them.  Like so much in life, happiness is a matter of perspective.

The Frozen Marsh

I read an article in the QC Times last week about a local woman, Julie Malake, who is producing a book of photographs taken in Nahant Marsh, a reclaimed wetland on the outskirts of southwest Davenport.  Even though Tim has lived here his whole life, and I have lived here for a third of mine, we have never scouted the Marsh.   On Sunday we decided to change that. After bundling up in long johns, hats, neck gaiters and good socks, we grabbed the binoculars and camera and headed out.

If you are one of the people who, like me, enjoy the subtle variety of colors that be found in a primarily brown and white landscape, I highly recommend a walk through Nahant in the winter time.  If you look closely, you’ll see all sorts of beautiful shades of lavender, brown, blue, golden.

Here is a little photo tour of our excursion (if you click on the picture, it will open up to a larger size).

This is a the entrance to the park.  The visitors center does not have extensive hours, but during daylight, you can park the car at the entrance and walk the trails to your heart’s content.


This is a viewing shed perched on the edge of the wetlands.

After exploring the marsh, we drove to the mighty Mississippi and used the binoculars to spy on the pack of Eagles chillin’ in the trees across the river.  They were too far away to see clearly; when we looked through the binoculars we just saw dozens and dozens of splashes of white, popping out from the trees.

Next we headed to the lock and dam in Downtown Davenport, which is evidently a very popular eagle-watching hangout.  They feed on the fish below the dam.  It was wicked cold by this point, so we didn’t linger long.  I caught a picture of these ducks.  I love ducks, ever since we had a pet duck when we were kids.  Her name was Mildred, and she was best friends with our dog, Kanute.  She laid unfertilized eggs everywhere, so we had a nice supply of rotten eggs, which is a useful thing to have as children.  Ducks are so awesome.  Look as these two – they are so in love!  Quack Quack.

Cold # 2

I am being a whiny baby.  I have my second cold in as many weeks.  Don’t believe any collodial silver claims made by convincing health food store clerks.  It’s a crock!  I’ll send you a picture of my Rudolph nose as proof.

As a result of the aforementioned cold, I have been startingly unproductive today.  We went to the gym, ate lunch at 11th Street Precinct (where the Guinness is excellent), came home, took a nap, and then I watched 3 episodes of Veronica Mars, an episode of Doll House, and the beginning of the new Willy Wonka. It is a very, very strange movie, and I’m sure it will give me nightmares if I watch the whole thing.

Fortunately, I was much more productive yesterday.  We visited my parents in Monticello, and I ventured out among the drifts and got some really great shots.  I think my parents live on Hoth.

Lucky for us, it was nice and toasty warm inside.  We had a great day with Mom and Dad.  We even got them to play Settlers of Catan.  Mom tried to beat me, but I won!  Mwah ha ha!

Hopefully I’ll be more productive tomorrow.  Days off don’t grow on trees, and I really need to take advantage.

Haiku me!

I wrote 15 haikus this weekend and did 5 arts.  I will post pictures in a couple of weeks.  Hope you don’t die from suspense!