Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Still Library Blogging at Re:Generations

Last year I posted a recap of all the library related posts I've posted for Re:Generations. Re:Generations is was a committee of the Canadian Association of College and University Libraries (CACUL), which is was itself a division of the Canadian Library Association (CLA). Re:Gen's mandate is was to engage new and prospective (academic) librarians.

Currently, the CLA is in the midst of big changes, and divisions have been disbanded in favour of yet to be sorted out 'networks', and thus Re:Generations is currently in limbo. This is a shame because it was a great forum for new professional librarians to network, learn from each other, and generally make their voice known. A group of likeminded 'new' library professionals are currently generating ideas about how to remain active in the CLA and profession in general. I encourage you to read about what they are doing and get involved by checking out the Let's Do This wiki!

I've thoroughly enjoyed my time as a Re:Generations member. I started out as a student representative and when I graduated became a blogger. Over the past two years I met and worked with some great librarians from around the country, and I was able to share ideas with and learn from them. I'm not sure what the next year will bring for the blog/committee, or for my continued role with it. As such, I'm just appreciative of being involved with such a great group of people.

Here are my posts for 2010-2011:
Organizing a Conference
Pondering Internal Professional Development
Handouts: Necessity or Waste?
Outreach to High Schools
Thoughts on the 2010 Augustana Workshop
Teaching Tip: Make 'em Laugh!
Liaising with Faculty For Newbies

You can still read past posts at the Re:Generations blog, and bloggers will continue to post content until the final word comes down, so please do still check the blog! And don't forget to check out the Let's Do This wiki.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Balcony Garden: Two Weeks In & Not Dead Yet

I wasn't going to bore you by posting ad nauseam about my balcony garden but ohmygoodnesstuffisgrowing!

Yeah, I'm kinda excited the only thing I've killed so far appears to be the poor spider plant. This continues the trend of the demise of spider plants in my possession - I just can't keep those (normally idiot proof) plants alive! The orchid (a nortoriously difficult plant to grow) is growing just fine though and has two new flowers.

I am resisting the urge to drive to Home Depot to buy more. They are so pretty. Yes, I think I need more orchids!

The strawberries are growing more leaves but no more blossoms and I don't have baby strawberries yet. There appears to be no change to my blueberry bush but at least it's not dead yet. I'm going to be very impatient about the berries.

The swiss chard has grown a bit so I didn't kill it by repotting afterall. And my zucchini plant wasn't broken and didn't die - in fact it grew big new leaves!

Is it weird the new leaves look nothing like the old leaves? Should I be worried?

Mostly surprisingly is that my seeds actually grew. The beans shot up over about 4 days which worries me: I reckon they're going to take over the balcony railing which may/may not annoy the condo board manager (technically they own the balcony) and may/may not annoy the guy who has to fix my balcony later this summer (oops). The spinach is growing too, but it certainly doesn't look like spinach.

Not a waste of soil afterall. I hope nothing gets crowded out.

I got the most beautiful purple flowers from the most generous Grammy ever, and the other flower pot is growing nicely. Who knew I'd enjoy growing (useless) flowers?!

I wish I knew what kind they are... (*Update: they are African Daisys, also called Osteospermum)

The cat grass grew quickly, and Molly loves it. She's not a nibbler though, instead she pulls the entire shoot out of the pot, root and all, and eats it or drops it by the pot to shrivel. The pot is a mess, but once she's done with the current lot I'll just plant some more.


I really like the look of the green grass inside, and plan on getting more green house plants. I wonder if I should just grow grasses indoors; they're easy enough!

Saturday, June 04, 2011

Big Changes #3 - Growing a Green Thumb

Something strange happened after I decided to buy a condo. I started nesting*.

I started to enjoy watching all those home shows on tv.

I started reading gardening books.

For the record, all the plants I've tried to grow/keep alive for the past 3 decades have died. I know nothing about plants or planting. I never helped in the garden when I was a kid (or an adult really) because I was too busy reading books or doing homework and no one made me go outside to pull weeds or get dirty. My only gardening memories consist of visiting my aunt and uncle's farm to help pick potatoes (rather my parents picked potatoes and I fed the tops to the neighbours' horse), or picking raspberries at my aunt and uncle's cabin, or being driven to some random middle-of-nowhere spot in the Alberta bush and told to sit and wait and not fight with my sister while my parents picked blueberries or morel mushrooms. I do not have a green thumb. At all.

But ever since this whole condo buying thing became real I have a new dream - I want to grow a balcony garden.

First thing I did was read the condo documents I was forwarded to see if pots are allowed on my balcony. I needed permission for the cat, but there was no mention of anything to do with the balcony. I am a bit concerned about weight, so I scaled back my plans and only planted what was easy-ish and edible (rather, what I would actually like to eat - eg. I don't eat tomatoes).

Secondly, I poured over some books from the public library to decide what I could handle planting. I found a couple books by Gayla Trail called You Grow Girl and Grow Great Grub particularly awesome (so much so I ended up buying them after my books were due at the library). She made gardening simple and easy - after reading them I figure even I can do it! I made a plan of what I wanted to grow.

Next up was a trip to Kuhlmann's Greenhouse just north of Edmonton. My mom always went there so I'm just keeping up tradition. I picked up some vegetables that were already started, and a couple seed packets, plus some potting soil. They have a pot exchange, which is basically just a big bin full of used pots people have dropped off free for the taking, and I walked away with some great finds. I planted all of this the next day.

I should've stopped there, but I didn't. Go big or go home, right? My second family donated three big pots, another book, flowers, more vegetables and useful advice. I had to go to Home Depot to get more soil to fill the pots, and also picked up a house plant. One more trip to Kuhlmann's to pick up enough filler for all my pots and voila - one balcony garden!


My orchid. I bought my mom one for Mother's Day and almost kept it for myself, so I figured I should buy one of my own. This is one plant I fully expect to kill. I figure once the flowers are finished it's a gonner.

My colleague gave me a cutting of her office spider plant. Apparently they're good for cats to eat and almost impossible to kill. I don't think I let it root enough and planted it too deep. I think it's dying already.

Catgrass. This photo is two days old. It's already an 2 inches taller and green. If anything, this is the plant that will survive my incompetence.

I want to get more houseplant to brighten up my place, but I'm out of pots and soil so that'll have to wait. Suggestions for easy to keep alive (and nontoxic to cats) houseplants are most welcome!


Swiss chard. I've never eaten this ever. Actually, I don't think I've ever even seen it before. But my garden books said it's tasty and easy to grow. Sign me up! Although I think I already killed it when replanting.

This is hopefully going to be scarlett runner beans (which I've never eaten or seen before either) and spinach (which I make myself eat to be healthy). I'd already planted the beans when my friend said they'd grow 6ft, so I hope they trail around the balcony railing. Otherwise I'm in trouble. I'm not overly confident this pot will mature into anything beyond potting soil.

Herbs, which I hope to take inside after the summer. That's peppermint on top (not really to eat, just cus it smells nice and looks good in a pot), lavendar (also for no purpose whatsoever), and basil (which I've never cooked with but there's a first time for everything).

Strawberries!! I love wild strawberries. I will be upset if I kill these. I might try winter them in my parents basement.

Zucchini. My friend gave me a seed, but my mom reckons it's too late to start from seed and my colleague doubted the success rate of just one seed, so I bought this little one. When I was planting it I noticed the stem was broken - not sure if that was me or the greenhouse. I'm a bit worried about this plant. I reckon it wont produce anything. This may be my second pot of wasted soil.

My blueberry bush. My favourite fruits are bananas, blueberries and cantaloupe, and only one of those grows here. Ever since I got bitten by the green thumb bug I knew I wanted to try grow blueberries. I had to get a blueberry bush, just had to. It was a bit pricey and I know it's a hard bush to grow in the ground, nevermind in a pot, but I'm going to try. This is my baby, my favourite plant. If it dies I shall mourn. If it lives I'm going to try winter it in my parents basement.

So far so good. If I get a handful of blueberries out of it I'll consider it a success worth repeating!

Garlic chives, donated by friends. Easy, tasty, and pretty when I forget to cook with it and it goes to seed. I might see if I can keep this alive inside too.

I don't generally like flowers and think they are mostly unnecessary, but my friends gave me the pink ones and I bought the violas to fill up the pot. They're pretty actually. I doubt their shelf life but we'll enjoy them while they last.

Just so you know I don't actually expect any of this to grow. I've never gardened before, I fully expect to kill everything by drowning or drought. But that's ok, for once I think I'm actually happy with the process as opposed to the product. Some stuff with grow, some wont. I'll get to eat something I'm sure. The most important thing is I'm trying, and I'm having fun. And that makes it all worth it.

Molly particularly likes the blueberries. That's my girl!

* I consider nesting a symptom of being girly. It's just ahead of applying make up, buying clothes that aren't on sale, wearing heels, getting a pedicure, carrying an expensive brand name handbag, watching romantic comedies, walking down the aisle and having babies. I wont allow it because I am a fiercely independent spinster-cat-lady-curling-librarian. Also I am not normal.

Thursday, June 02, 2011

Big Changes #2 - Crazy Cat Lady

I'm a cat person. Sometimes those librarian stereotypes are true. A cat is the perfect accessory to the current spinster image I've got going on.

I grew up with a beautiful cat named Muffy who loved me and my family but hated everyone else. She was a pretty great cat, who slept at the end of my bed and stuck with me during those awkward teenage years. Unfortunately I had to get on with my life, and she died while I was away in the UK during the London years.

While I was in London, my flatmate decided to get us (me) a cat (mostly I think so I'd stick around another year to make her life miserable). We got Fergus, who had FIV (like HIV for cats), but who was so full of love. He was the perfect companion cat and I actually did some research to see what it would take to bring him back to Canada when I returned. However, being an FIV cat he did get sick and went downhill pretty fast, and he died a couple weeks before I flew home for good.

So ever since I can remember I had a cat - until recently. These past four years while I was going to school and searching for my dream library job I've been catless. I picked up quite a pet sitting reputation so I on occasion would look after other people's cats, but I knew as soon as I finally got my own place I would need to get a purring roommate.

One rainy day a week or so ago, I went to the Edmonton Humane Society. I'd never been there before and the new building is stunning! Many of the cats are kept in viewing rooms that you can walk right into to visit/play with the different kitties. Some cats and the kittens are still kept in cages, but you can take them out to hold them. There are also plenty of volunteers around to answer questions.

The first volunteer I stopped to ask a question happened to be the foster mom of the particular cat I had wanted! She (the volunteer) was super friendly and lovely, and told me a bit about that cute little grey and white cat with the big eyes, which confirmed my choice. Approximately 5 minutes after I walked in the door I had picked out my new roommate! It took another hour or so to go through the adoption process (video, interview, pay, exit medical, take cat home) before I left with a cat in a box.

Meet my new best friend, Molly!

She took no time at all to settle in and has so far been cuddly and loving and well behaved (mostly, we are having a bit of a litter box issue, but nothing that wont be fixed, at some point, hopefully...also how do you get a cat to stop jumping on the kitchen counter/table?). She's the most perfect addition to my new place. So here I am, sitting on my awesome blue couch in my new condo with world's cutest snuggle muffin purring away on my lap. Does life get any better?