Monday, 27 June 2016

Book Review--Compost

Today we're gonna get low-down and dirty... with compost.

I have a great imagination.  And in my imaginary world, I grow beautiful plants and flowers and have a fantastic garden.  I have plants with leaves of all colors, flowers that range in size from miniscule dots of color to huge splashes of pigmentation that fill the view.  I have red tomatoes and strawberries, lovely cucumbers and green beans and even grand heads of lettuce, nodding in approval.

Yeah, my garden is lush Wonderland.

Reality is more like:


To HOPELESS (thanks pups)

But, I do persevere.  Which has led me to read several things about gardening and growing things.  I'm always willing to try to green up my thumb (currently it appears to be hairy--I can keep mammals alive; the kids and dogs are thriving).  So, while it may appear to be a random choice, my pursuit of gardening excellence got me interested in all aspects, including:

Composting is not a necessary component of successful gardening but I do find it interesting. Maybe that's the scientist in me coming out again.

Successful composting can be beneficial to your garden by introducing wonderful nutrients and weed-fighting capabilities. I had no idea of the range of types of compost that you can cultivate all with differing times of completion.  Compost: The natural way to make food for your garden by Ken Thompson laid all of the details out in an understandable way.

As we've established, I'm a bit of a geek in more than one area so it won't surprise you to note that I got excited over two different and distinct aspects of this book.

One was the technical information which was thoroughly accurate and based on sound scientific principles and research but was absolutely understandable and readable.  This did not read like a dry, intellectual tome--it was easy to read but I felt confident in the accuracy of the information presented.

The other thing I enjoyed was the visual layout of the book.  I found the page and font colors and the photographs very appealing.  It please my sense of aesthetic as I delved into the depths of a compost pile.  Odd dichotomy but it worked well.

If you are an avid gardener, ecology enthusiast or even just a curious amateur scientist you'll enjoy digging into the details of composting.

Monday, 20 June 2016

It's all in the follow-through

I spent a recent Saturday doing something to expand my sense of adventure.  While a large part of the motivation is because I want my kids to be more adventurous than I am (lead by example, right?), I've started to enjoy this particular aspect.

I've been learning to shoot a gun!  Guns were not a norm in our household growing up and I had only ever really seen one up close when my brother got issued his.  I was incredibly nervous about the whole idea but I had some good friends who were trained, confident, and very patient while they taught me.  Given the extent of my hesitation and my penchant for researching, however, you won't be surprised to hear that I wanted a bit more formal instruction.  Enter in that Saturday.

Friend, sister and me!
My sister, friend and I attended the NRA-sponsored "Women on Target" class at the local gun range.  This was a wonderful class and I was very happy about the format, the information given and the instructors present.  Thanks to all who participated!

But it was during a portion of the classroom time that made me think.  To ponder.  To muse... (o.k. I'll stop) about an aspect of life that is critically important but often overlooked or marginalized.

The follow-through.

Our instructor was pointing out the importance of following through with each shot so that your anticipation of the next shot doesn't interfere with your aim.  A slow, steady trigger pull and keeping your hands and arms steady throughout the whole motion.  This, in turn, reminded me of all the years Dad spent coaching me in softball (just slow pitch recreational but fun, nonetheless).  My throwing needed a follow-through to make sure it went where I wanted it to go.  My hitting needed a follow-through so the ball wouldn't end up in the dugout.

You can have the best aim but you need the follow-through to carry it out.

The same went for my sporadic tennis lessons over the years.  Forehand, backhand, serve, everything needed the plan, the execution and the all-important follow-through.  Could I tell if I wasn't following through correctly?  I did make many trips outside the fence to pick up the ball I'd launched, that's for sure.

But sitting there, in the classroom in a completely unrelated activity at a very different time of my life, it occurred to me that so many activities require a follow-through motion because it's vital for anything.  Everything!  Not just sports and activities but in any area and stage of life.  Business plans need follow-through to stay afloat and be successful.  Parents need follow-through so make sure their kids know the importance of repercussions (not the same thing as punishment).

 Have you ever tried to work or live with someone who had no follow-through?  Plans that don't come to fruition are frustrating with no execution.  Apologies are eventually hollow with no change in action.  Promises made that are never kept.  All of these things require follow-through to keep life progressing in a healthy manner.

These days, I only have to worry about my own follow-through and teaching my kids the importance of it, too.  I try to temper my enthusiasm and optimism for plans with the reality of my time, energy level and finances.  That's not to say I never do anything or promise anything it's just that I do it with much consideration and the personal requirement that I follow-through.  I don't think there's an objective way to measure success in life but for me it's knowing that what I mean what I say and I do what I promise so that my kids are rarely disappointed by things within my control.

As for this point in my life I, to be re-evaluated periodically, my follow-through is to be consistent, honest with myself, and content with my decisions. For the next stage my follow-through may look different but I will make sure I know what it is and stick with it.

Saturday, 4 June 2016

Adult Summer Reading

Whew, a week into the Adult Summer Reading Program and I can finally take a deep breath!

The Alamogordo Public Library has a fantastic children's Summer Reading Program every year, headed up by our awesome Youth Services Librarian (here's her blog, there is always something going on there).  But, from what I understand, the adult side has been much more sporadic and low-key.

Being the go-getter that I am (read: proposer of idealistic and insane programs), I thought it would be a great addition to library programming to have a Summer Reading Program (SRP) for adults.  I had done Winter Book Bingo this past year based on a program done by the Seattle Public Library (I gave them credit on the back) and it was really well-received so I thought it would be good to follow it up during the summer.

Wow, I almost bit off more than I can chew.  BUT, with support and encouragement from Ami (Youth Services Librarian referenced earlier), full permission from the Library Manager, and financial help from the Alamogordo Friends of the Public Library, I have managed to put together a great (I'd be modest except there have been many adjectives like this describing the program so I don't want to denigrate my adoring public's opinion) program based on the Collaborative Summer Library Program package.

Which is right up my alley because I try to be fit. Now, we're taking a broad interpretation of the concept of fitness; it's not just exercise and eating right it's also taking the time to relax, meditate, do something fun, anything that benefits your well-being. (and, yes, that includes coloring!)

What we have cued up for the program include:

Silent Book Club:  Read (or listen to) any book of your choice and fill out a Book Review Sheet.  The review sheets are added to a poster so everyone can take a look at what's popular and maybe try a new title.  Each time you return a review sheet, you get a raffle ticket for the general prize bucket.  There are no limits on how many books you can read, sheets you can fill out, or raffle tickets you can earn!

How to Food: This is a series of 3 classes on menu planning, grocery shopping and food prep.  Each class session you attend will net you a ticket!

Fitness Fest: We are hosting a fitness fest for area organizations and businesses to encourage every aspect of a safe and healthy lifestyle. If you visit at least 5 informational table and get your punch card marked, you'll get another ticket for a chance at a prize!

And the biggest portion of the program, which also requires the most effort, is the

Million Steps Challenge!

Health professionals recommend that we get at least 10,000 steps a day, which indicates a healthy level of activity. This, in turn, lends itself to better general health and longevity.  I made three tiers to the challenge:
Primary Challenge: the basic goal of 10,000 steps a day for the summer
Focus Challenge: if you are already active, bump yourself up to about 12,500 steps a day
Top Tier Challenge: really get yourself active and try for 15,000 steps a day which will get you all the way to 1,000,000 steps by the end of the summer reading program.

I even made a fun log book and conversion chart for alternate activities.  You can make all of your activities count as "steps" using the conversions so your biking, swimming, gardening and cooking can all increase the number of steps, and consequently your activity level, each day.

With the overwhelming positive response and the gratifyingly large number of participants, I'm already planning on what to do next year!

If you're in the Alamogordo area, come in and sign up!  Don't let the kids have all the fun.  And if you are further afoot, check your local library to see what kind of program they have.  If there's nothing available put in a request and then check in back here and we'll work out a long-distance something for your own enjoyment!