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I think I've mentioned before that G signed up for an Open University ecology course as being the cheapest way to gain access to an academic library. Also, new course!
Anyway, it involves practical work and we've already visited sand dunes, done the experiment where we had to take the temperature of the soil under oak trees and the next thing was an experiment to determine soil composition and record temperatures at the surface and two different depths.

Fortunately we were able to do this at the bottom of our own garden, so we dug a narrow hole, set up the digital thermometers with their probes in the soil at the prescribed depths and with the gadget itself sheltered from any possible rain by a bucket lying on its side. Then the temperature readings had to be taken at regular intervals for the next 24 hours. Because G is not good at mornings, I volunteered to do the early ones, though I drew the line at 6.00 a.m. and compromised on 6.45 a.m., which is only a little earlier than my normal getting up time.

So that's how I came to be standing at the bottom of our garden at the height of the dawn chorus...

This is a still photo of the trees on what we call "The Swamp" with the sound file of the bird song. (Length just over a minute)

Dawn chorus

There are a lot of trees beyond our garden. Though it was an open field when we moved in, because the land floods and can't really be used for anything, it's just been left to go wild. As a result, there are a lot of birds. This is only the start of the dawn chorus, it will get louder and more intense as the weeks pass and we go through the breeding season until we get to around May, then it dwindles away again. I may try to do another similar recording when the bird song is at its peak.

Anyway, back to the soils. G had to calculate water content, air content and also to see how much sand, silt and clay was in each sample. For this you simply shake up a sample of the soil in water to which a generous squirt of washing up liquid has been added. You then leave the jar to settle for 2 days. This was the result...

Comparing soil samples

The sample on the left is from higher up the garden. The one on the right is from the lowest part that floods several times a year. The layers (from the bottom upwards) are: sand, silt, clay.

I was surprised at how sandy our soil is in the main part of the garden. I'd thought it was a clay soil. It's also interesting how the left sample has a clear division between sand and silt, with just a thin layer of clay on the top whilst the sample on the right has sand at the bottom and silt on top, but the dividing line between the two is difficult to determine.

So that was what I learned yesterday. Today I learned how to import a sound file made on my phone into Audacity (it needed an extra file I had to download from the web) and also how to make a simple video from a still photo and a sound file. One has to keep the brain active as one gets older. :)
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We had intended to go out today. The plan was to call in at Porthmadog, drop G's watches off at the jewellers to have a new battery fitted in one and a new strap for the other, then we'd go off to look at some locations for the geology book before returning via Porthmadog to pick up the watches on the way home. Unfortunately, the mist and/or cloud is down so low that we can't even seen the nearest hills, so today will be a Getting Stuff Done Indoors day instead.

Current Mood: cheerful cheerful

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7/52 for the group 2017 Weekly Alphabet Challenge

This week's theme was: G is for Game

If you're a fan of the BBC Radio 4 sitcom "Cabin Pressure", you will already be familiar with the game of "Yellow car". For those of you who aren't, here are the rules explained by John Finnemore in character as Arthur Shappey.

Basically, if you see a yellow car, you say, "Yellow car!". That's it. There are no points and no one wins. And once you start playing, you can never stop....

Yellow Car

Current Mood: amused amused

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I'm feeling really tired today. Getting older means that a busy productive day results in an energy slump the following day. However, I've already done two productive things by helping G set up his soil temperature experiment for an Open University course he's doing. As long as I manage one more thing today on top of the usual dailies, that will be a win!

The soil experiment involved field work. Well, it was sort of field work as it involved digging a small hole at the bottom of the garden to bury some digital thermometer probes. Now we have to monitor soil temperature over a 24-hour period. G will do the midnight reading and I'll do the 6 a.m. one. OK, 7 a.m. I'm not getting up that early.

Tomorrow there will be weighing of soil and determining water and air content.

Current Mood: cheerful cheerful

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I have done several productive things today. One of them was successfully setting up the Amazon Firestick so we now have more choice of TV channels than before. Another productive thing was changing the house insurance to a much cheaper one and I also managed to book a two night stay in a small hotel in Brecon. Our son had given us a voucher for a hotel stay, but it was proving rather difficult finding somewhere that wasn't already booked up. Being a voucher, it had rather a lot of conditions as to when and where it could be used, but a short break in Brecon next month will be very nice.
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Recently, smallest granddaughter requested a blanket for her favourite doll. I thought I'd make a smaller version of the one I made for her when she was a baby and I've just finished crocheting all the squares. I've joined them using the join-as-you-go method, but whichever method I used, there would still have been an awful lot of loose ends! This is the snag of doing multi-coloured crochet or making items from squares or other motifs.

See what I mean?

All those ends!

You often see people saying that you should weave them in as you go along, but here's why I don't.

For Christmas 2015, I decided to crochet some Christmas stockings for the grandchildren. The idea was that they would have money for their main present but I would give them some sweets and small toys in a stocking so they would have something to open and enjoy on Christmas day. I embarked on the three stockings, but after getting this far, I realised that they were coming out far too big.

All those ends!

See all those ends?! Now, if I'd woven them in as I went, I would have just have had to throw those part finished stockings away because when I weave in an end, it stays weaved! I know that from bitter experience. A few years ago I was trying to make something out of African flower motifs and I'd followed the advice to weave in ends as soon as I finished and joined each motif. Unfortunately, I eventually realised that I didn't like the way the project was working out and I decided to frog it and rescue the yarn to use for something else. It was a complete pain trying to find and unpick the ends and I wasted quite a lot of yarn.

This time, however, the unravelling was easy and the yarn, along with other random bits from my stash, ended up as small tea cosies which I use every day.

Small tea cosies

To be honest, I don't find it too bad tidying up the ends all in one go. I usually find an interesting drama on the BBC iPlayer and once you get into it, end-weaving can be quite relaxing.

Here are the three small Christmas stockings I made. It was quite easy to modify the original pattern to make them smaller.

Small Christmas stockings

I did finish one large one. Here it is for comparison. It would have taken an awful lot of chocolate and treats to fill it and my son and daughter would not have been pleased if I'd given their children so much sweet stuff!

Large & small Christmas stockings
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6/52 for the group 2017 Weekly Alphabet Challenge

This week's theme was: F is for Fright

Celebs post photos of themselves on social media looking cutely dishevelled after getting out of bed.

I look a fright until I've had a cup of tea and combed my hair!

En déshabillé

(This photo was inspired by Celeste Barber, an Australian comedian who tries to replicate the poses adopted by pop stars and minor celebrities, with hilarious results. Here's an example of her photos.)

Current Mood: amused amused

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Regarding my new challenge to aim to do at least three Productive Things each day, I'd done two by lunchtime. En route to see my elderly friends, I popped in to talk to the insurance broker about changing our house insurance to a cheaper company. I also took and processed a photo for this week's alphabet challenge. Next to do is sort out stuff for the day out in Abergavenny to see our daughter and granddaughter and to attend stephanieburgis's book launch.

[Some time later...]

I am feeling really tired now, but another two Productive Things got done. Slight change of plan for tomorrow because G unexpectedly decided to book us into a posh hotel for tomorrow night. That's good because it means less driving tomorrow as I only have to drive to Abergavenny and we can drive home on Sunday. Also hotel breakfast! It has, however, rather messed up my meal plans, but with a bit of juggling, no food will be wasted.

Current Mood: busy busy

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The days are getting a little brighter as we progress through February and each day I feel a little more alert and energetic. This of course means that I look around the house and go, "AAAAAaaaaarrrrrgh!" at the clutter and dust revealed by the occasional ray of sunshine, but I'm trying a new way of encouraging myself to actually Do The Things off my To-Do list instead of getting by on just enough Habitica Dailies so I don't kill my avatar.

One of the things I particularly like about Habitica is the challenge system. Like most people, I'm more likely to do things if there's an element of accountability, so making a challenge for other people to join makes me more motivated to actually do the tasks myself.
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5/52 for the group 2017 Weekly Alphabet Challenge

This week's topic was: E is for Evergreen

Ivy is not only evergreen but it's unusual in having its flowers in winter and its berries in spring.

Ivy berries

Current Mood: accomplished accomplished

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