Monday, August 31, 2015

Whole Lot of Sniffin' Going On

The folks in our rent house have two charming dogs -- Jerry 

and Khaleesi.

Our dogs are enchanted with them and take every opportunity to visit.

Each visit requires extensive research as to what the others have been doing since the previous encounter.

Wouldn't you love to know what they say to each other?

Friday, August 28, 2015

Brutal Pottering

The weather has been glorious the past few days so it seemed like a good time to go out and attack some potted plants with a knife.

We have several large evergreens that stay out in pots year round and they have been in need of re-potting for some years now. They're quite hardy and pretty forgiving of under- or over-watering but they have begin to look a little ratty so the time had come for desperate measures.

I began by sliding them out of their plastic pots. I can't plant them directly in the clay pots because freezing and expansion in the winter would eventually break the pots. And I don't want to step up to a larger size. So I root prune, hacking wedges out all around the root ball. I also slice off some of the bottom of the root ball. All this brutality will stimulate root growth and allow me to add some fresh compost to the pot.

While I'm at it, I prune away any dead twigs or branches, as well as generally tidying up the look of the shrub. It's not bonsai, by any stretch of the imagination but its a really nice, meditative exercise.

When I've returned the plant to its pot, added in lots of nice composted manure (a commodity we have plenty of,) and soaked it with water, I imagine that the plant is wiggling it toes and breathing a sigh of relief. It almost seems that the needles are already taking on a deeper shade of green.

This poor houseplant (draecaena marginata) has grown its roots all around the pot. Extreme measures are called for, even to get it out of the pot. A little work with the pruning shears gets rid of this mess.

You can see how root bound the poor thing is . . . more knife work is indicated.

A few more days of this pleasant, messy work should have all my potted plants in fine fettle and ready for winter. The fine weather makes it a genuine pleasure.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Blogging into the Sunset

Last week I received the following email:

The Communication Studies department at Northwestern University is recruiting adults over the age of 65 with their own blogs who have created posts within the last year to participate in an interview study. Blogs can be using text, pictures, audio, or video. Examples of blogs include Tumblr, Wordpress, YouTube, or iTunes podcasts. We were recommended to your blog, Vicki Lane Mysteries, by the author of the Vagabonde blog ( and think you would be a great fit.

In the interviews, we will ask you about how you communicate with other people on your blog, how you started it, and what motivates you to continue blogging.

The interview will last no more than one hour and will take place at a location of your convenience (in your home or on the Northwestern Evanston campus) OR on a medium of your convenience (phone or video call). You must speak English. We will audio record the interview so we can remember the things you say.

You will be paid $15 (in cash for in-person interviews or by Amazon gift card for remote interviews) for your participation.

If interested in this research opportunity, please contact Robin Brewer at 847-467-3760 or by e-mail 

Well, why not, I thought. Easily done and then there's the $15 gift certificate. Plus, ever since college when I volunteered for various psychological studies in return for extra credit, I've always liked taking part in studies --  I like trying to figure out what the study is attempting to achieve.

 I did one where I was wired up and received tiny electric shocks to my fingers at random intervals. I never did figure that one out but the guy administering the test said he was surprised I was so calm, what with being a sorority girl. (disclaimer:I was wearing my Kappa Delta pin but I was probably one of the least enthusiastic sorority girls at the U of Florida.)

So on Monday I did the interview which lasted about 40 minutes -- There were lots of questions:why do I blog? how did I get started? what keeps me going? (two things -- I've never been good at journaling and the blog provides me a bit of a record of what I've been doing. The other thing is those of you who say they look forward to my blog as a part of their morning ritual.) And lots of questions about whether friends and family read my blog.

As the questions continued, I kept wondering -- why are they doing this study? Finally I asked -- Is this leading to some sort of initiative for introducing senior citizens to blogging? 

Because if it is, I think it's an excellent idea -- a way to remain part of the larger world, as well as exercising one's mental acuity and digital dexterity. Bravo, Northwestern! 

My interviewer (Robin) asked if I would like to recommend other bloggers of a certain age and I said I would. Then I realized the delicacy of the situation -- I'm not sure how old my blog friends are -- I'm pretty sure some are 65 and up. But I don't want to assume anything.

So, if you are interested (or lured by the munificent stipend) and you fit the criteria in the letter at the beginning, get in touch with Robin. I asked her if she was interested in non-USA folks -- and she said yes, as long as they speak English.

Tell her Vicki sent you.