Category Archives: Rain

Summer Lovin’

I was riding my bike over to CSU campus. My mission was to deliver my boyfriends Kindle Fire to him at work. It’s about a 15-minute bike ride from our house along a bike path. I was suddenly struck by inspiration on this ride, like lightening… it was electrifying. My discovery was that I love summer. I mean I already knew that I love summer but I never knew exactly what it was about summer that I love.

 

I love riding my bike. There is nothing as freeing as riding a bike. The wind in my hair, my own two legs propelling me forward, a quick smile or a wave to those I pass along the way. Summer is the best time for bike rides, no ice, no rain, no gloves, no coat; only warm temperatures and sun on skin.

 


I love riding my bike close to the edge of the grass, where the sprinklers miss their target and droplets land on the sidewalk. It’s a refreshing burst in the heat of the afternoon when those droplets hit bare legs and arms. There’s nothing quite like that feeling.

I love the smell of a black as night, freshly re-paved parking lot baking in the sun. To me it smells slightly minty; I can’t describe it in any other way. Not the mint you smell in chewing gum or tea leaves, but it’s own unique kind of minty. And it’s so black you can almost see your reflection shining in it. The heat waves rise up from the tar, making everything look hazy. Some might say it’s so hot you could cook an egg on it. The air temperature above the pavement is noticeably warmer than anywhere else around you, and you let it embrace you as you race across.


I love the greenness of the environment. Everything seems to be pulsing with life, growing and changing. I stretch out over grass in the shade of a big elm tree staring up through the leaves at the patches of a blue sky. Fluffy white clouds pass overhead creating shapes and telling stories.

I love having an open schedule with full days I can devote to reading a book. Not a book required for my college education but one I choose to read for a different kind of education.

 
Pinterest (original source lost)


I love the heat bouncing off the sidewalk, the sweat running down my back, the tank tops and shorts, the sandals, the nighttime bonfires, the chilly showers after lunch, the pool days, my garden, picnics in the mountains, the smell of sunscreen, the frappuccinos, the flowers, the swim suits, etc. etc. etc.

Ah, the joys of summer. What’s your favorite season?

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Hanging Gutter Garden Part 2: Putting it Together

I know it has been over 3 months since Hanging Gutter Garden Part 1: Adventures in Home Depot. But I do have excuses. One excuse is that I lost my camera battery charger and I could not take pictures of my progress, another is that I’m lazy. But, just before the backpacking extravaganza (and after losing Reid’s camera in the Canyonlands) I broke down and purchased a new (expensive) charger (with LED charging screen and European outlet adapter).

Now that I have the means to take picture I figured it was about time to share my patio garden with you lovely people.

Maggie's Mind Mumbles//: Hanging Gutter Garden

As I said in this post, I wanted to create the hanging gutter garden like this one.

For mine I didn’t have the fancy pants hardware (or the fancy pants bank account). I used the gutter given to me by the gutter guys (A story told here). I also purchased a plastic gutter for $5 at Resource 2000, where they sell salvaged construction materials.

Maggie's Mind Mumbles//: Hanging Gutter Garden The finished product – metal gutter


Maggie's Mind Mumbles//: Hanging Gutter Garden Bottom Level = Lettuce


Maggie's Mind Mumbles//: Hanging Gutter Garden Middle Level = Radishes (recently harvested and replanted)


Maggie's Mind Mumbles//: Hanging Gutter Garden Top Level = Spinach (recently replanted due to struggling first crop)


Maggie's Mind Mumbles//: Hanging Gutter Garden The finished product – plastic gutter


Maggie's Mind Mumbles//: Hanging Gutter Garden All Levels = salad mix (sprouting)


The materials:

  • 1 gutter cut into three equal parts (process is almost identical no matter the material, I tried with both plastic and metal gutters)
  • 6 gutter caps – the plastic ones are quite nice and can be purchased at Home Depot, Metal are also nice but mine had to be bent to fit the gutter, which was quite a process.
  • 2 hooks – I chose some that screw into a drilled hole
  • 16’ of 1/8” steel cable cut into 6 equal lengths (or as much as you’ll need to fill your space, gutters should be at least 18” apart to allow adequate sun exposure and plant growth) – I bought this kit at walmart because I was there buying pots and it was the only cable they had. The kit actually came in handy as the clips (though not exactly what I was looking for) worked perfectly. As I worked I realized I needed 32” of cable for both my gutter gardens so I ended up having to go to Home Depot for a yard of steel cable.
  • 12 clips – 6 came in the kit mentioned above and there was another pack nearby without 3 clips (no cable) so I bought two of these packs.
  • 2 thimbles – these came in the kit mentioned above but they are also sold alone


Maggie's Mind Mumbles//: Hanging Gutter Garden
Above = clips, Below = thimble,
  • Wire Cutters – sharpened
  • Electric drill – with attachments for drilling holes large enough for the steel wire to go through and for tightening nuts on the clips

Step 1. Cut the gutters
The gutter man who gave it to me cut the metal gutter in uneven thirds; my dad then cut into equal length pieces. I sawed the plastic gutter into (almost) equal thirds (I did it all by myself thank you).

Step 2. Drill holes
My dad helped me drill two holes, large enough for the steel cable to fit through, across from each other on each end, and one hole at the center of the base on each end (6 holes per gutter section).

Step 3. Fit the end caps
This part was quite complicated for the metal gutter. The plastic gutter was simple, the caps fit perfectly. My Metal Gutter was not the exact shape of the cap. My dad used pliers to shape the end of the gutter to fit into the cap and a rubber mallet to force it in where it wasn’t exactly perfect. He did this for each of the 6 end caps and I am so grateful for that. If you buy your gutter where you buy your end cap this shouldn’t be a problem for you, mine came from different sources.

Step 4. Cut steel cable into 6 36” sections
We definitely over estimated the amount of steel cable to use. My dad and I were not at my apartment during the building process so we wanted to give ourselves some extra. You might not need so much extra slack when building your gutter garden. Be careful when cutting the wire, it tend to fray; very sharp wire cutters can help prevent fraying.

Step 5. Thread the steel cable
With one end shorter than the other thread the cable through the two holes at the top of the gutter. This can be quite difficult if the cable has frayed. Also be prepared to be poked with sharp metal; gloves are probably a good idea at this point.

Step 6. Secure the cable
Loosen the nuts on the clip and thread both ends of the cable through the clip. Pull the clip down on the cable where its not pulling to much but is tight. Finagle the cable so the short end only pokes out of the clip about an inch and tighten the nuts on the clip, a little on each nut so it tightens evenly. Repeat this process (step 5 and 6) for each gutter on each end (a total of 6 times)

Maggie's Mind Mumbles//: Hanging Gutter Garden

The Metal Gutter


Maggie's Mind Mumbles//: Hanging Gutter Garden

The Plastic Gutter


Step 7. Connect the pieces
Starting with the gutter section you want at the base of your garden thread the long end of the cable through the hole in the base of the middle gutter section. Attach a clip around this single end of cable and tighten. Make sure the clip is at the length you want. Do this on both ends, keeping the gutter level. Do the same thing with the middle gutter and the top gutter. Leave the top gutter for now.

Maggie's Mind Mumbles//: Hanging Gutter Garden The Metal Gutter


Maggie's Mind Mumbles//: Hanging Gutter Garden The Plastic Gutter


Step 8. Hanging the dang thing
This was another complicated step. The whole contraption is very heavy, awkward and dynamic. This stage was obviously done at my apartment with my boyfriends help to replace my dad. There is most definitely a better way than how we did this but I am the queen of doing things in the most complicated way. We measured the distance between cables, drilled holes for the screw hook and screwed them in. Then we hauled the apparatus up a step stool and one of our kitchen chairs between the two of us. I stabilized my end as he threaded a clip onto the cable then a thimble around the hook and tightened it. We kept the thing slightly above the railing so that when we screwed it down it would be tight. Mind you this took many, many, many, many, MANY tries because there were so many pieces to hold steady at a precise place, but we finally got it and 3 months later it looks fantastic.

Side note: The method above details how we hung the metal gutters. For the plastic gutters we screwed the bottom gutter onto the railing first, but we couldn’t get it tight enough at the top and it looks like it’s leaning forward since the hooks at the top and the screws at the base are not directly vertical. Therefore we developed the method above, which was also difficult but returned better results.

Maggie's Mind Mumbles//: Hanging Gutter Garden 
The Hook in the Ceiling


These gutters dry out VERY fast, especially in an arid climate like Colorado. I have struggled with wilting, browning, and flat out dying plants in these gutters since planting. I have discovered that on hot days I must water them twice: once in the morning and once in the evening, in order to keep them healthy. Someone in a more humid environment might not experience these problems.

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How did you like this post? Are you interested in making a gutter garden? Do you have questions about my process? Leave a comment.

Backpacking for Dummies: A Dummy’s Guide to Backpacking

This past weekend my family and I went on a backpacking trip.  The members of our travel party would include, myself, my father Charles, my boyfriend Reid, my sister Erica, my brother-in-law Dustin, Dustin’s brother AJ, and my Australian cousin Steven, all of us at varying levels of expertise.

My dad has been backpacking passionately for as long as I can remember and plays a bit of a game with his buddy Tim: they try to pack the lightest pack with only the necessities. Erica, Dustin and AJ had never been backpacking before, but were interested in trying it out, Steven has gone a number of times both in the U.S. and in Australia, Reid, whose dad is also a passionate backpacker, has gone backpacking since he was very young, and I have gone a few of times, always with my dad, inheriting the gear he replaced with a lighter option. This is our story.



From left to right: Dustin, Erica, AJ, Reid, Maggie, Steven
Missing: Charles the photographer


Backpacking for Dummies: A Dummy’s Guide to Backpacking

Preparation:

As any backpacker would know, a backpacking trip doesn’t start at the trailhead. It begins at home with the preparation.

Choosing a date for a backpacking trip can be a very complicated process. Factors to consider:

  • Is there a wedding?
  • When will your cousin be visiting from Australia?
  • Will your uncle be celebrating his 70th birthday?
  • Do you have work or school?
  • Are you also planning a trip along the Continental Divide?
  • What will you have to reschedule?

In addition to scheduling conflicts, especially when travelling in a large group, backpacking is a sport best enjoyed in warm, dry conditions. It is important to follow the weather reports and choose dates that will ensure a happy company.

The weather in Colorado has been consistently dry and hot for the entire summer thus far, hence the wildfires up and down the state and the creation of this photo. Source: Facebook friend’s wall

However, sometimes you will find that the warm and dry dates fall during conflicting events and you are left with the single cold and wet weekend for probably the entire summer.

After deciding on a date you must gather all of your gear.

  • Tent
  • Backpack
  • Stove and fuel
  • Lighter
  • Cooking pot and skillet (depending on what you plan to cook)
  • Utensils (don’t use your hands, we aren’t barbarians)
  • Bowl and/or plate (again… barbarians)
  • Mug (hot things are hot)
  • Water filter (unless you enjoy the effects of giardia)
  • Water holding device (bottle or bladder)
  • Sleeping bag
  • Camp chair (much nicer than the ground)
  • Sleeping pad (cuz the ground is hard and rocks are lumpy)
  • Hiking socks (prevent blisters)
  • Underwear (I really shouldn’t have to explaint this one)
  • Lightweight hiking shorts (move easily)
  • Non-cotton lightweight shirts (cotton tends to stay wet once it gets wet from sweat or rain)
  • Long underwear pants and shirt (cozy pajamas)
  • Fleece (for warmth, dries quickly)
  • Rain coat and pants (keeps you dry)
  • Hiking boots (broken in)
  • Lightweight camp shoes (to relax your feet in after hiking all day)
  • Hat (1 to protect against sun, another against cold)
  • Headlamp (it gets DARK at night and when nature calls you don’t want to stumble into the lake)
  • Trekking poles (nice for steep slopes)
  • Toothbrush and paste (for fresh minty breath)
  • Hair bands (to tie back your wild tresses)
  • Chapstick (cuz chapped lips sucks)
  • Sanitation wipes (such as Wet Ones)
  • Toilet paper (again with the explaining)
  • Sunscreen (sun burns and sleeping outside don’t mix)
  • Deep woods bugspray (bugs are annoying)
  • First-aid kit (in case of the worst happening)
  • Fishing pole and license (cuz it’s fun to catch your own dinner, but don’t count on it)
  • Camera with a charged battery (it sucks to get to 11,000 feet carrying your camera the whole way just to find that you can’t take any pictures of the beautiful wildflowers)
  • Rope and caribiner (for hanging food in the trees away from camp: bears)

Some things you might already have, you might have to borrow things from friends and family. The important thing is to make sure you have your basic needs covered, shelter and warmth. Sustenance, of course, is another basic need. You have everything you need to store water and to filter it for safe drinking. You also have food preparation and consuming equipment. Now you must decide what food items to bring.

This depends on how many days you will be backpacking, weight and comfort. It is best to go for light items that are filling for their weight. Some good options that I like to bring include:

  • Instant oatmeal packets
  • Applesauce
  • Granola bars
  • Ramen, macaroni and cheese, cous cous (anything with a dry grain that you just add water and flavoring)
  • Cashews, almonds, pistachios, etc.
  • Dried fruit such as raisins, or craisins
  • Dehydrated veggies
  • Candy bars especially chocolate
  • Trail mix
  • Instant coffee
  • Tea bags
  • Chicken or tuna in a foil pouch
  • Tortillas can be used to make PB&J roll-ups or quesadillas
  • Alcohol

There are many things you can bring and it takes practice to decide what you like best. These are just my personal favorites.

Communication:

It is very important to stay in contact with those who will be travelling with you. They are your support system and prior to the trip everyone should be on the same page as to where you are going, for how long, the hike distance, elevation etc. This can easily be done through email so long as you send emails to the correct address.

Finally all your preparation will be rewarded; the day of the trek has arrived. Have a big breakfast at IHOP and drive to your trailhead, because things are about to get real.

“Up up up up the stairs we go, until we come to the tunnel. And when they go in, there’s no coming out… all she gets is filthy orcses and they doesn’t taste very nice does they precious? No, not very nice at all my love.”
(Not really sure what’s with all the LOTR references, just go with it)
Source: http://www.councilofelrond.com/imagegallery/stairs-of-cirith-ungol/

The Climb:

It’s been said that your brain will quit a hundred times before your body will have to. The thing to remember with backpacking is that you must trick your brain. Encouraging it with phrases like, “We’re almost to the top,” or “You can carry yourself and 40 extra pounds up this steep section,” will help. Another thing to remember is that you can’t stop too often or for too long, your muscles will have to warm up every time you stop and it’s best to just keep going.

Finding Nemo reference, instead of LOTR, 🙂
Source: http://howimetyourfatherblog.blogspot.com/2010/10/keep-calm-and.html

I find that after about 20 minutes I get into the zone: the weight and constant pounding of my feet keeps me centered. Other may experience different findings. Whatever works for you, channel it. (Also make sure to eat snacks and drink LOTS of water)

A quick rest

Camping:

When you find an area that looks nice to camp (with a water source nearby), it’s best to set-up camp before doing anything else (except maybe following nature’s call, which I will not be getting into in this post. If you would like information on using the world as your toilet and leaving no trace please read the 5th subheading in this article.

Our campsite, set up just before the rain fell, lucky we brought that big heavy tarpaulin

To set up camp first, set up your tent (and a rain tarp, since the clouds will be rolling in at this point). After setting up the tent, pull out your sleeping pad and bag inside the tent to get fluffy and cozy before bed. Then as the first drops begin to fall on your head, put on your raincoat and pants and set up your camp chair. Duck under your rain tarp, hunker down, and try to laugh away the misfortune: play games, drink alcohol, DON’T check the time, and hope for some sun.

When the rain calms a bit and it’s safe to walk around in the tall wet grass snap a few pictures of the beauty that surrounds you.















It’s good to have some activities prepared between meals, to pass the time: day hikes, reading, drawing, photography, fishing, writing, talking, laughing, card playing, and sledding are all good ideas.





As the sun sets, find a good place to hike up to (careful of the slippery wet rocks) and enjoy the view.





When the tarp begins to collect water, engineering must come into play.

The Moose Destroyer

When all else fails and you are feeling lost in the wetness, make new friends.

Hemingway the Caterpillar (if he can survive the cold and wet, so can you)

After cooking and eating dinner, playing a few silly games about what you can take to the moon, and passing around a few communal beers it’s time for bed. Brush your teeth (with a bottle of Jack), strip off your wet clothing and snuggle into your sleeping bag as you listen to the creeks flowing all around you (don’t forget to use the natural toilet before getting in bed, it is the absolute worst thing to have to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night on a camping trip, especially when there are streams flowing in every directions and marshes just beyond the streams and tall wet grass everywhere you step).

In the morning you will wake up to the babbling brooks and songs of the birds (and your urgent need to urinate). You will hope that the sun is shining and poke your head out of the tent warily. You see that it is and your heart will flood with joy. You get dressed and let yourself fully out of the tent, joining your party under the big blue tarp. You start preparing your breakfast just as the sun shyly hides its face again behind the clouds.

You resign yourself to another chilly and cloudy day and the company decides to finish breakfast, pack up and head back down the mountain.

Hiking down:

Hopefully you remembered to clip your toenails before the trip because the constant jamming of your toenails into the front of your boots can be quite painful. Just ask those who have decided to have their toenails removed completely. Lacing your boots tightly around your ankles can help with the downhill hike.

Some people say hiking down is the hardest part, yes hiking up is more strenuous and breathing is much harder, but hiking down takes finesse and concentration. Constantly trying to stop your body’s potential energy from turning into kinetic energy is tough work, but still usually takes less time.





Then the whole trip is over. You can load your gear into the car, get in yourself and drive home (or to get some bagels and Taco Bell).

That is, of course, unless your boyfriend is chased down the mountain by a mountain line, which he fights off by punching it in the face, which is seen by pirates who think he is bad ass and want him in their troop, but first they have to initiate him by locking him in a mine in Idaho Springs, which he only escapes because Gandalf (LOTR reference again) shows up blinding them with his staff, and he crawls to safety through a tunnel which leads to the basement of Beaujo’s where he is picked up by his girlfriend and her dad, or so the story has been told.

Further (more practical) information on backpacking:

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What do you think of our experience? Do you like to backpack? Tell me about your past trips.