Quick Knit iPhone Cover

Soon after Christmas, I upgraded from a Blackberry Curve to an iPhone 4s.  That’s a big upgrade–and I am so happy.  I can’t afford the iPhone 5, however nice it might be;  besides, compared to a Blackberry Curve, this is new fangled, high-tech stuff.  Since I have been using a school issued iPad and MacBook Air, the transition was a piece of cake, and I already had a full arsenal of apps in my iCloud.

What I didn’t have was a case.  After doing a Facebook survey regarding insurance, most of the response said skip it, but get a good case.  A friend said I could try an Otterbox Defender before I bought, but before she could get that to me, I needed something quick to keep the phone from getting scratched in my purse.  What to do in such a predicament?  Knit one, of course.  So I did…on the drive to and from Costco (about 30 minutes).  And while it is a little crooked, the bulky yarn does a good job protecting it.1490_10151205931395886_731099881_n

Isn’t it cute?  I love that I learned how to knit.  I find myself examining the pattern of anything I see knit…especially scarves and hats.  I will see something, and think (with a silent scoff), “Why buy that?  I could knit it…”  My husband does the same thing whenever we see anything nice made out of wood:  “We don’t need to buy that; I could build it.”

You, too?

I feel a bit silly even providing a pattern for this…if I could make it up, so could any novice knitter, I think.

But here it is anyway:  Quick and Easy Mobile Phone Case

I have since purchased my own Otterbox Defender.  I love everything about the case but the air bubbles between the screens.  I’ve googled solutions without success.  I may actually cut the protector screen off and use another film protector…or just go back to my knit cozy.

It’s the Time of the Season…to Start Planning my Garden!

Does this happen to all gardeners?  After Christmas, a switch turned on somewhere in my crowded head and now I find myself obssessively planning my garden and my yard.

We are building a garage/shop (“we” meaning my husband) and I just realized that due to “new” shade, I will probably have to move my raspberries.  So if I move my raspberries, I won’t have as much room for my tomatoes and peppers.  Of course, I can’t do anything but think about it–the ground is frozen, and the future tomato/peppers/raspberry area is currently seeing heavy construction use.

This will be my third year growing the rest of my food in our town’s new Community Garden.  It is an amazing opportunity to raise veggies–the soil is nearly rock-free, which is hard to find in my neighborhood. In my yard, I can’t stick a dandelion fork in the ground without hitting a rock.


Wall O’Waters

The first year, I harvested one 12×12 plot.  Last year, I worked  one and a half plots.  This year I’m going for three plots.     I am a relatively new gardener, but I have already learned a lot.  I learned that in NW Montana, Wall O’Waters are necessary around tomatoes, cucumbers and peppers LONG into June…I learned that there is a reason for the spacing information about tomatoes.  I learned that cabbage worms are gross and a menace (and hard to get out of broccoli).  I’ve learned that you can never grow enough basil.

I’ve learned that cornmeal seems to be a good deterrent for the ants in my strawberries.

I use a garden planning software called GrowVeg.com, mostly because I need something to do while I wait out the long Montana winter.   I have been having much too much fun organizing and designing my garden layout.  This year, we will be growing our potatoes in the Community Garden.  We’ve tried to grow them in the yard, but there just isn’t enough sun…and, of course, we have a crazy Murphy the Newfie who knows where the potatoes are planted.  We are going to try corn this year.  Cukes, zukes and other squash will get their “own” plot.  I spend a lot of time mentally designing bigger and better vegetable supports.


Tinsley House

Last summer my family took a trip on the Montana Dinosaur Trail.  At Bozeman’s Museum of the Rockies, we toured the Tinsley House, which is a living history farm.  All of the garden cultivars are heirloom, some even 100 years old.  But what I loved most were the handmade tomato cages.  I tried to talk my youngest into making some to sell at our local Farmer’s Market, but he doesn’t seem terribly interested.


Tomato Cages

I’m also excited for the Community Garden at large.  We are going through some changes, but I think good things are in store.  In the fall we planted our first raised bed of garlic, and this spring we will make another of onions, to be divided among plot holders.  We will set up a green house early, so people can start their seeds.  We will add some raspberry canes, build a raised herb garden, and plant some strawberries and some blueberry bushes.   The new local brewery, Desert Mountain Brewing and Draughthouse plans to grow hops along the north fence.  Eventually we would like to add a gazebo.

I would love to get high school students to design and paint the side of the storage shed.  I am also going to enlist the high school Key Club in helping to plant, maintain and harvest the Food Bank plot.


The Community Garden

Alas, all I can really do right now is dream.  I need to wait another 3 months before I can start seeds, and another 5 months before I can start really getting my hands dirty.  Until then, I will just imagine the amazing food that will be grown in the 2013 garden!


Murphy when she was just an itty-bitty Newfie at the Museum of the Rockies

Inauguration Dances

I love these two.  Don’t they look amazing together?  Skip ahead to 2:22 for the dance.

And I know I’m gushing, but I love Joe and Jill Biden, too.

I’m a sucker for this stuff.  I love the momentousness of the occasion–the historical meaning and tradition of the inauguration, the weight and promise of the speeches and invocations, the glimpses of  past presidents–total government geek.

Our Crazy Newfie

The year we were married, my husband and I started sharing our home with two dogs, Simon and Smudge.  They were brother and sister, but looked nothing alike.  Simon was what we called the “Montana Black Dog”–a black lab mix with a white beard, white tipped tail, and white feet.  Smudge was also part black lab, but looked like her father who was a Catahoula Leopard Dog.  A what?  Exactly.  The state dog of Louisiana, apparently.  Our friend always called her a Saskahootchie Marmot Hound, so we did too.

523903_10150639896990886_789234520_n        IMG_0001 (2)

Anyway–to get back to the story, Simon and Smudge were generally great dogs, even though after the age of three, Smudge could not tolerate being around any other dogs except Simon and her mother Osa.  They never really had much interest in the boys, though–Smudge always looked confused as to why they were still in her house day after day.  She died a few years ago at the age of 11, suddenly, from a cancerous tumor bursting in her abdomen; it was, of course, very sad.


RIP Smudgerella


Her brother Simon received something of a new lease on life, though.

Finally he could go out in public again, to places where we hadn’t been able to take Smudgie.  He hung out with us in the front yard, went on road trips, went to River’s Edge Park–it was great.

Then last year, when it became clear that he was losing weight, Simon was diagnosed with cancer of the liver.  We babied him in his last months, but when it became obvious that he was miserable, we made the decision to release him from his pain.  It wasn’t an easy decision–why should we get to determine his last day alive?  Still–it was the right one.  When he was given his sedative, it was the first time in months that he seemed comfortable.  Still chokes me up to think about it.  I’m sure, selfishly, we kept him around longer than he wanted to be here.


RIP Old Simon Graybeard

The house was so empty.  And clean.  And empty.  I had long said that our next dog would be medium sized, with a light colored fur.  Our next dog wouldn’t drool or get nose prints all over the picture windows.  We ended up with…a Newfoundland.

555098_10150960599925886_1128409307_nIf you know anything about Newfies, you know they are gigantic, usually dark furred,   slobbery drool-y messes.  When we picked Murphy up, she could rest on one of my fore-arms.  Now, at eight months, she is a full head taller than me when I am sitting on the ground next to her.

Having a Newfoundland is an experience.  She is still a puppy, and acts like it, but she is a nearly 90 pound puppy.  We took her to obedience classes, and she knows her commands, but  looks at us like we are idiots if we expect her to do anything without treats in our hands.  My picture windows look like they have been finger-painted.  She regularly wipes her drool all over everyone’s arms and laps.  She mumbles when she gets in trouble, like a teenager talking under his breath when being sent to his room.  We can (mostly) get her to lie down when we are eating dinner, but she stomps her paw when we haven’t paid enough attention to her.  She walks well, as long as she is wearing her fancy pink Gentle Leader (that little device saved us!) and she knows how to ring a bell to go outside.IMG_0025

We have a few items to work on, though.  She still jumps, is still mouthy, and pounds on our picture windows when she wants to come inside.  And she barks–she takes to the perimeter of our fenced yard and barks at anything and everything.  We don’t keep her outside–that is where she prefers to be.  She will come in for a while to play, but invariably she rings the bell to go outside to hang out on her Coolaroo elevated bed.


Murphy on her Coolaroo

We adore her.  I’m not convinced that she will become the giant, mellow gentle beast she is purported to be, but I suppose it could happen.  We love her anyway.

Does anyone else have Newfie experience?  Did you have a crazy Newf who eventually settled down?  Any tips from Newfie veterans?