Monday, October 31, 2011
Snow damage, minimalThe snow is still around....I'm majorly bummed. *LOL* I really was hoping it would disappear yesterday (Sunday), but here it is Monday am and it's still here. I know, I know...I'm whining, but this area really doesn't get winter weather until January, so this is a ...well, major bummer.
We were lucky; no power outages. My forsythia arch has collapsed in the middle; I'll need to find a way to brace that back up into a curve. Quite a few very large branches were torn off the silver maples in the woods, most with green leaves still attached. I had to saw a couple of them up just to get them un-wedged from where they fell. All fallen/cut branches go up to the brush fence in the wildlife area...that's a hike up the hill.
The clumps of ornamental Pampas grass are flattened, but that's no great loss. I think my pot of geraniums at the base of the steps and possibly the pot of amaryllis bulbs in the shelter of the back deck may be toast.... I might be able to salvage the amaryllis.
The dahlias look ...well...dead. Flat and mushy black. So much for my noble intention of getting them all tagged for color and height before I cut them back, dig them out, and store them for winter. It will be a crap shoot next year what color anything is.
I got my red beets out, but didn't lift my sweet potatoes, so I'm hoping they'll be ok. I was going to dig them up yesterday, but decided to wait...the soil is too wet.
Overall though, no real damage...the bean tower went over in the veg garden, but that actually saved me the trouble. *LOL* And you know...Mother Nature knows her game. With the branches down in the woods, there's a lot more light coming in and that can't be a bad thing. The snow and freezing temps have wiped out a lot of bugs; my brussel sprouts should have a good growth spurt if it warms up and now there's no cabbage worms to chew on them.
The mother hen and her 3 baby chicks weathered the storm just fine! She's keeping them warm and cozy up in the henhouse, and I have extra deep straw bedding on the floor. I hesitate to totally winterize the henhouse just yet, in case the temps go up again (which they very likely will).
I don't know if I mentioned this (for fear of appearing completely insane) but I rescued 3 baby field mice from the cats about 1 month ago and dropper fed them until they were big tough grown up mice *HA*. They're living in an aquarium on the kitchen counter. They're a hoot to watch. The only problem is...er...well...one got loose. I think he's living under the stove. I am going to have to get a small have-a-heart trap to catch him, and I think then maybe all three will have to move to new quarters up in the henhouse. They'll do great up there. I usually stack up a lot of flowerpots for winter in the henhouse, and come spring, they're like little mousie condos, with nests in every pot.
Still not much work coming in and I am getting anxious. I have a sinking feeling that my niece and her husband's private dramas may have impacted the quality of work coming out of the office and now I'm going to have to mend a lot of fences to get the business back on a good footing with clients. So far, no news of the niece's missing husband. He was in rehab; he was discharged; he went to friends; he left and that's it. She's beside herself, and I do feel very very sorry for her...but there's a very small part of me that says "she knew what she was getting into" so I will help her all I can, but I refuse to be dragged into this mess any further.
Saturday, October 29, 2011
THIS is ridiculousTHIS...THIS is ridiculous. We're forecast to get 6-10 inches of heavy wet snow today. IN OCTOBER. I tended to scoff yesterday, when the news started to get around, but I'm a believer now. It's 10:30 a.m. and it's coming down like crazy. Not just big flakes, but heavy fast snowfall. I thought maybe...maybe...the ground is too warm to let it accumulate, but na-uh. It's piling up fast now. My biggest concern, living in an all-electric house, is power outages. Most of the trees are still fully leafed-out and if this snow sticks, we're going to see branches breaking everywhere. I've taken what precautions I can....filled up containers with water, made sure all dishes are washed, filled up 3 thermos jugs with boiling water... We have a well, so power outages mean no water as well as no heat. I'm just praying the wind doesnt' start up. If there's no wind, maybe there won't be an outage.
Yesterday was busy. Early in the morning (which was sunny and beautiful btw) I cleaned, edged, and turned over 3 more beds in the veg garden. Looks very nice; went fairly quickly. The part that is going to slow me down is the back fence, where the black raspberries have come over. I need to snip back all those arching canes and get that weeded out. I really wanted to get the bean tower down and the circular bed cleaned, edged, and turned today, but with all this snow, that's out. *sigh* At least the snow is supposed to end tonight and the temps to go into the 40s tomorrow, so it shouldn't last (it better not, or I'm filing a complaint somewhere!!). R helped me and we harvested the small patch of red beets, which I'm hoping to at least boil and slip later today.
Later in the day, after the snow warnings came out, I brought in all my houseplants and the bbq grill. I think now that I've had a moment to consider, bringing in the grill may have been a mistake. If the power does go out, I'll have to drag it back outside if we're going to cook anything. (I really regret not following through on my plan to have that little rescued woodstove installed in the office while R was in the hospital. I hesitated, for fear that he'd be upset when he got home and found it there, but now I wish I had just gone ahead and done it. Then at least I'd have a heat source and a little cooking place too, if the power goes out.)
The 2 HUGE Boston ferns that T gifted me with are taking up most of the room in the office *LOL*. I offered one each to B and E and I think they will take them off my hands. I may take a small cutting from each pot and nurse them along over winter so that I have ferns for the front porch next spring. But these big ones...I know what will happen. My cats will have their way with them and kill them dead; that or the dry air over winter will. At any rate, they're too big.
I have no idea when I'll ever get all those spring bulbs planted...I had planned to do that this weekend. Dratted snow.
Thursday, October 27, 2011
House helpSpent most of yesterday (until 2:30 p.m.) at B.'s rental house, trying to get it into better shape. We got the windows washed, some trim painted, and some curtains hung, plus scouring and cleaning. It looks MARGINALLY better. At least nothing cost much, which is the whole idea. I think if B would spring for a gallon of gloss white trim paint and just go ahead and paint everything that remotely resembles trim bright white, it would do wonders. But she is getting really fed up with the house and doesn't want to do the work. I may offer to paint for her; she said she'll pay $10/hour. It would be something to do to earn garden money!
I got home later than expected and R was not happy about it. He is well enough so that he's up and around and doing little things....he was tinkering with his old Buick, and then he actually painted the trim around the kitchen door, which is great! But I had to laugh...when I told him what I'd been doing, he said "I figured you were with B. She's so Needy." This from a man who still has to have help putting on his socks and shoes *HA*.
Spent the later part of the day, until dusk, in the veg garden. Got the first two beds cleared, edged, turned over, and got the path between them weeded and raked level. The first bed is edged with boards, so it looked OK, but the second doesn't have any edging, so I had to snap a string along it to get the edge nice and crisp and straight again. After the summer growing season, it was a bit "blurry."
I also snapped a string from the existing brick path up to the corner and edged the ends of those beds. I'd like to get out there and do at least another 2 beds today, but the weather is iffy. It might be too wet.
In clearing the first two beds, I got a nice amount of "finder" potatoes (those spuds that get left behind in the first-pass of harvesting, or those that come up wild), four huge heads of cabbage, a few stray onions that got left behind. I decided to make a big pot of Harvest Soup with these ingredients, plus some tomato sauceleft over from last week's pasta, and some beef bouillon. It smells wonderful! I always add a bit of vinegar to cabbage type soup, it just seems to bring out the flavor better. I think I'll toss in a red beet or two and some beef today and make it into borscht. Mmmmm...topped with some homemade yogurt and fresh dill from the garden, that should be a good meal for a wet, dark October day.
Deciding to make permanent beds and paths in the veg garden was the best decision I've made in years. I only regret not doing it much sooner. Everything seems so much neater (despite the fact that the weeds went wild in August), and it's a blessing to have actual paths to walk on, instead of just "ruts" through the planted areas. Plus, I don't feel compelled to have to dig up the entire huge area...which is what I've been doing for 25 years and it is not easy! I can concentrate on improving just the planting beds.
I've still got a big stack of recycled bricks waiting to go down to extend the front path, at the east end of the veg garden. Once I get the beds at that end cleaned up, I think (weather permitting), I'll tackle that as my next "project." That way, any dirt I need to dig out to make a bed for the path can go directly onto the already weeded and turned beds.
I have a feeling that the year is closing in on me. I always tell myself I have until the end of November to get things done in the garden, and I always forget that it's not just snow and freezing temps that can end my garden work, it's the rain. There are a few things I can do even if it is raining (get that rabbit hutch reconfigured for chickens, make screen doors for the henhouse, etc.), but the pressing need to get things into and out of the ground is starting to gnaw at me. I really thought I'd have more shrubs and trees planted along the south border by now, but that got bogged down when I realized I don't have the mulch I need to finish the job. I'm going to have to get back to that....hopefully, neighbors will start dropping off leaves this week and next, and I can just use those as mulch.
Tuesday, October 25, 2011
It must be the solar ejection*LOL* I had a GREAT day yesterday! I havent felt so energized in a long while. Today I found out that there was a coronal mass ejection from the sun yesterday. That must explain it!
Very busy yesterday and again today. Yesterday, I got the finished bush beans out of the garden, harvested the last of the broccoli, cauliflower, peppers. Dug up the bush bean bed for winter. (I like to lightly turn the soil before it "goes down" for winter. We have very heavy clay and this seems to help the tilth. I think it allows any leaf mulch and manure that I spread over it to percolate down better during the freeze/thaw cycles of winter.)
B. called, having a mini-breakdown. She has a very sick kitty that she' wanted me to take a look at, plus she's having trouble renting out one of her houses. So she wanted me to look at it and give her an honest opinion of the place. The kitty we decided to nurse as best we could; the vets just are NOT helping this cat and the cost is getting terrible. So....we decided the cat will be on a home-cooked all meat diet for a while, we gave her antihistamines, and we made her a nice secluded place in a heated outbuilding, away from cats, dogs and fleas. The cat has TERRIBLE allergies I think...she's a mess. We'll see. At this point, I don't see how we can make it worse. Very sad.
As for the house....it's a nice little place, but old and dingy and a bit worn. I can see why she's having trouble renting it. Everybody wants everything spanking new and sparkly; nobody wants to "make do" anymore, especially young people. Anyways, my suggestion was that we concentrate on sprucing up the entrance way (an enclosed porch that is VERY dark and dreary). So, we brainstormed a bit and we're going to work on it tomorrow...mostly a lot of white paint, some curtains, new floor tiles, and a built in coat rack. I suggested also putting some shiny knobs on the dark wood kitchen cabinets (they don't have hardware) and maybe some white baseboard trim in the bedroom (which is painted a dreary shade of blue that neither of us likes). It's definitely a "fixer upper" but what it has going for it is that it's convenient to town and shopping, it has a big yard, off street parking, and she allows pets. So tomorrow I'll be working up there.
Today, took one of my cats (Mitzy) to the vet for dental; I'll be picking her up in an hour. Washed AND waxed the truck this morning...R. usually does the waxing, but he's still out of commission. I'd like to get to those dratted red beets today, but I'm not sure if I'll time. I still need to get to the supermarket for supper (chicken "something")....
Oh, and I collected some seeds from a "wild" morning glory that always always comes back every year, growing along the road beside one of our neighbor's corn fields. It's a beautiful deep rose pink color; I'm hoping to grow it here and maybe gift the seeds around to get it established elsewhere. I don't think it's actually a perennial, just that it self-seeds reliably. I have no idea if it's some sort of heirloom either; all these years, and I never really bothered to collect seeds or research it...
Monday, October 24, 2011
Lots doneI made the awful decision and got rid of the Trub. As I suspected, it really wasn't doing well after all the rough handling, so I *gulp* cut it apart and tossed it. All that work... Oh well. It had to come out...if I'd just cut it down, it would have kept resprouting and causing more headaches.
However....getting rid of it left a blank canvas and once the bloody deed was done, I felt liberated. *lol* I dug up an even bigger area of new garden bed, extending the existing entry bed so that it wraps around and joins the Topiary Bed, making one HUGE more or less circular planting bed. Popped in 5 tiny boxwoods in the Topiary Bed, a very small dogwood in the center for a focal point.
Divided into two nice clumps some heirloom iris (those little yellow and brown ones), planted Black Eyed Susans, santolina, yarrow, etc. ....little pots that have been in the veg garden nursery bed since last year. Most of the plants were so big they'd burst their pots. At least with all this work and planting, I've got a good bit of the veg garden cleared of those dratted pots. My friend B said she'll take the 3 or 4 small silver maple trees that I've still got in pots down there. Once those baby trees are out, that will really free up some space and maybe I can have an orderly vegetable garden again next year. The real problem will be getting that unknown "wild fig" type tree out of there. I started two small root cuttings 2 years ago, with the intention of growing them to about 4 feet and selling them at the plant sale. Well, the plant sale never happened this past spring and now I've got 2 monster trees filling up the corner of the veg garden.
I think (Trub episode firmly in mind) I will cut them down and just dig out and replant the root clumps up on the top of the property where I need a fast growing, dense screen. I know for a fact that they will resprout from their roots and I really do NOT want to try moving those things intact. I'm still recuperating from the Trub incident.
Almost forgot! Those 5 eggs I bought at the Chicken Fair on October 1? THREE BABY CHICKS! I was so tickled! The mother hen was acting a little strangely yesterday afternoon, so I thought I better check on her (she's been quietly sitting on that nest all month). She puffed up and started yelling at me as soon as I stepped into the henhouse so I knew something was up...and there were 3 babies! I doubt that the other 2 eggs will hatch, but I'm giving it a few more days just to be sure. These little ones are purebred Dominque chickens, so I'm looking forward to seeing them in their full adult plumage (if they survive).
Very depressing news from the family. My brother called yesterday, very angry and upset (both rare states for him). Apparently he and some family and friends have been finally (FINALLY) putting 2 and 2 together about my brother's son, D. D has been "borrowing" money from everybody for about a year now, thousands all together, and nothing to show for it. I think it's pretty obvious that the poor boy is using drugs again, but nobody wants to see or admit that. Well, I guess it finally became clear to his father (my brother B.) yesterday and I heard all about it. All I could do was say "I understand. I understand." B has been a through a lot with that family of his. I wish I could help, but I've done all I can do. (D lives in a house I bought for him and his wife and 3 kids....they were supposed to pay me a small rent every month but I rarely see a dime.) Sometimes I am sorry that we live so far away from both our families, but then, when I think of the weirdness that is always going on, I'm glad to be removed from it.
Wednesday, October 19, 2011
Azalea is movedI decided to go ahead and move that "cemetary" azalea into its permanent location (or final resting place as the case may be *ahem*) in front of the house. That went amazingly well. It popped right out of the nursery bed, settled in nicely, and is exactly the right size. It looks as if it's been growing there for years. It's about 4 feet tall, 4 feet wide. I woodchipped the area around it and except for some disturbed dirt here and there, I don't think it's very obvious where the "Trub warfare" occurred. Today, I need to re-plant a clump of iris that were moved in the Trub episode. I might also try planting some False Solomon's Seal there. I have a very small plant of it and I'd like to give it a better place.
(The reason I call this azalea the "cemetary" azalea is because I dug it out of a nearby very old cemetery that is in the process of renovation. The groundskeepers marked all the overgrown shrubs they wanted removed and anyone who wanted them could dig them out. My friend E and I got 3 azaleas and some small boxwoods...we dug them all up in July, at the height of a heatwave and drought, but everything survived. I'd like to go back and see if anything else is still left...they had some beautiful old weiglas.)
Tuesday, October 18, 2011
Follow upYesterday (Monday), R and I drove to Hershey Medical for his post-op followup. The surgeon is very pleased and everything looks good. We were a bit worried because in the past few days his ankles have swollen again. They were swollen when he came home from the hospital, then it went away, then it came back. The doctor said not to worry, it would go away on its own, probly caused by all the medications that R. is still taking.
The doctor also said he never wanted to see either of us again....*YAY!!* One of the few times that line is actually welcome!
Sooo...today is a "day off" from medical stuff, then tomorrow I take R. to the oral surgeon to get his stitches out. THEN on Thurs we need to go up to C.burg to check out the Cardiac Rehab he must get. Sometimes it feels as if it never ends.
I've got "office projects" to work on today. I did manage to get the crater in the front yard filled in...I think I'll tackle transplanting the azalea later in the week.
As for the Trub...hmmmm.....I'm not sure. It just doesn't turn me on. I may be prejudiced, seeing as how it tried to murder me, but I'm not sure I like it where it is. I may have to admit defeat and get rid of it. I don't know. I waffle.
Our weather has been absolutely stellar....crisp nights, clear sunny days, not too hot, the leaves are starting to turn. I'm hoping to somehow sneak a trip up to J.town to visit family soon, but it's a 2.5 hour drive one way so I need a full day free...and that's something I don't seem to have lately.
(And congrats to Bob on his recent surgery! I'm glad he's found a loving home!)
Sunday, October 16, 2011
It very nearly killed meIt's a wonder I can even type this. Yesterday morning, I went up to the New Garden to finish clearing out the new Topiary Bed. As if digging out the grass wasn't bad enough, I hit rock. Not bits o stone. ROCK. Ledge. Two enormous pillow-shaped rocks that looked like they probably went down to the bowels of the Earth. I was going to just forget it and change my plans, but my cat Sam, who acts as Supervisor in all things garden, gave me a severe talking to and made me try to pry out at least some of the rock. Surprisingly, a few big chunks did come up. Then a few more. Then one really big one. The two "pillows" are still there, but at least there's space to plant now.
Immensely buoyed by my success with rock removal, I decided what the heck, I'll tackle removing the shrub from the foundation planting and move it to the Topiary Bed.
First, when I actually got to the foundation planting that shrub was a lot bigger than I thought it would be. Sort of more like "tree" than "shrub." Henceforth referred to here as a TRUB. Undaunted, I told myself these things have shallow roots, it won't be that hard to dig it out. (I move a much smaller one last year...piece of cake.)
Two hours of heavy excavation later, with a hole the size of a WWII bomb crater the damned Trub was still firmly rooted and not moving. Not even thinking about moving. Took a break, got a heartening pep talk from both Sam and husband R....along the lines of Knute Rockney, you understand. "Grrrr! Let's go move that Trub! Grrr!!!"
Two more hours later and I had the Trub leaning over and pretty well loosened in the hole. And that's when I realized the root ball was so enormous I couldn't budge it. And that all my digging had now raised up this rim of earth around the crater so that not only would I have to pull out the root ball, I'd have to LIFT it over the edge.
A sane woman would have stopped there. Forgot about moving the Trub. Shed a few tears, made a few pathetic calls to neighbors and given up. Made soup and coffee for the burly he-men with chain saws who would come and dismantle the Trub. ("Silly woman, thought she could actually MOVE this thing *snort*!")
Ah. But obviously sanity and I have parted ways. Called it a day, then started in on it again this morning.
I'll cut to the chase. That $***@@*!!> $@@* *@!! Trub is MOVED. It's planted (precariously) way up on the hill in the New Garden. I had to cut away half of the limbs and a good bit of the roots to make it light enough (and I use the word "light" ironically) to drag it out of the hole. Once I got it out of the hole, and onto the grass, it just laid there and refused to budge...again. Just too darned heavy for me to drag. That's when Sam suggested I lay down sheets of plywood and skid it along on them. It worked! I don't know where that cat comes up with them!
But my god it was terrible! Probably the hardest, worst job I've ever done. It took me HOURS to slowly heave and inch and prod and pull that dratted thing UP the hill, then over, then into its planting hole.
And that's when I realized that, heavy as it was, I couldn't raise it into place.
Not to fear! I got a rope, tied the Trub to the old apple tree, and with the aid of a stiff wind from the west (*ha*) managed to manhandle it upright.
And that's when I realized that, when you dig out a lot of rocks? There's no dirt left to fill the hole.
So, I managed to dig out a lot of dirt from all around the bed and heap it up over the roots and then I stuck a couple of concrete blocks on top to sort of weight it down and left it tied to the Apple tree.
Then I stumbled into the house, took a hot shower, had a cup of tea (which I couldn't lift to my lips, my arms were so tired) and fell asleep at the kitchen table.
I now have two craters (one at the front of the house, the other surrounding the newly "planted" Trub) to fill in. Sheet of plywood scattered all over the yard. Various tools and implements of destruction tossed willy-nilly about the place. Articles of clothing hanging on twigs (it got awful hot heaving that thing up the hill). I think that between rotten logs, compost, wood chips, and seven buckets of dirt I have standing around, I can give the crater around the Trub a good start at filling, then I guess I'll have to drive up to Pine Hill and get as big a pickup load of compost as I can haul to finish backfilling.
As for the foundation planting hole, I'm hoping that I can replace a lot of the dirt and then put in that big azalea and hopefully that won't leave too big a depression. Who am I kidding? It will take another truckload of fill to level that off.
As for me, the best thing I can say is I have the limited use of my arms again. I was actually able to lift the coffee mug to my lips just now without it shaking. *LOL* What I'm going to be like tomorrow when I get out of bed, however, is anyone's guess.
And after all this...you just wait. That damned Trub will up and die on me. *HA*
Friday, October 14, 2011
BizarreBizarre weather is the only word for it. Today, my neighbor's azalea is in bloom. Yes. I know. In October. It's no surprise though; the weather has been like May the past few days, warm, humid, intermittent showers. Last night we had a good old-fashioned spring thunderstorm...only it's October. I would not be surprised to see tulips next *lol*.
Still raining today, so I think the gardening is still on hold. Going to try to paint another section of basement wall today.
Thursday, October 13, 2011
Beware the Ides of OctoberI know, I know. It's crazy, it's superstitious...but everytime I make a major decision on this date, it ends up turning out bad, even if it seems good at the time. I think it has something to do with the fact that this is my Mother-in-law's *shudder* birthday. So today, I lay low, keep my head down, keep my mouth shut, and try to avoid the Harpies of Fate. *LOL*
Mixed bag of news from friends/family. My cousin won $24,000 in the lottery!! He owes me a beer...I'm not sure what for, but he owes me. *lol* Another cousin found out that her severe leg pain is not a "bad hip" but is a pinched nerve; she took two sessions of physical therapy and feels lots better. That's the good news. The bad news is that my niece's husband is still in rehab and says he doesn't think he wants to go back home. I find this very depressing; I'm afraid the poor kid is so overwhelmed with everything going on in his life (in addition to the drug addiction) that he can't face it. This leaves my niece holding the bag, and I really don't know what she's going to do. I want to help, but at this point, nobody seems sure what to do.
E. and I went to the recycling center to drop off a lot of trash. It's a sin and a shame what people throw away. While we were unloading her trash, we watched one man throw a beautiful lamp, a fine computer desk, and two folding stools into the compactor! E. asked the man if she could have the stools and he said "Sure, they're perfect! They're just dirty!" So she took them. And we had to wonder, if that's the case, why on earth would you be PAYING to dump them, when Goodwill or other charities would take them for FREE?? As we were leaving, a woman was dumping a beautiful set of children's furniture, all white and pink.... Some poor family would have loved to have that! I think E. and I are going to petition the township to set aside a small roofed over area for things like that, so that people could leave good items for others to pick up. We (E. and I) are both FreeCycle members, but apparently a lot of people just don't know (or care) about FreeCycle. It's depressing.
Nothing done in the garden today. Everytime I tried to get out the door, R. had another thing he wanted my help with. Today, he's trying to learn to download music. As if I know! My computer is a glorified typewriter...that's about it. *LOL*
Wednesday, October 12, 2011
Starting the Topiary bed
I was able to plant out two lilacs (Syringa sp.) along the South Border this morning, a potted up one from the veg garden (one more of those dratted pots gone!), and one from under the apple tree. That lilac has been languishing under the shade of the apple tree for years, and I've been meaning to dig it out for years. Today was the day.
Now it is in a full sun spot and it ought to do much better.
I cleaned up the tall grass around the little mimosa...it's doing very well. Especially considering it was a "throw away"...my husband dug it out from where it had sprouted beside the walkway and I just dug a quick hole and buried the root. It sprouted right back and now it's growing very well. This was its first year in that spot, so I expect that with a little mulch and manure in the spring, next summer should see it really take off.
Then I decided to tackle that new Topiary Bed I have been meaning to put in the New Garden. I marked off a triangular area, then stood back, considered, and decided it was all wrong. Finally ended up extending the existing south bed in a wide more-or-less circular area. This looks much better. It follows the natural "lay" of the land up there, and it will allow for a nice pathway. The grass was too tall and too wet to mow with the lawnmower, so I sickled it all down by hand. THEN I dug the edge out, and then started digging out the grass. I think I got about 2/3 of the way when the rain chased me in.
I considered just digging out the edges and then just wherever I put the topiary shrubs, but then thought better of it. That grass is TOUGH. I know what would happen; I'd end up trampling the shrubs and cutting their roots trying to get the grass out, so I took the slower and harder path of digging out the whole bed first. (It's pointless to try to mulch that grass to death too....). I'm hoping to get the rest of the bed dug out by Saturday at the latest (weather permitting), and then I've got to dig out that euonymous from the front foundation planting and move it up there. THEN the azalea that's in the nursery bed in the veg garden goes in the foundation planting hole. Those are both really BIG shrubs so it's a challenge to move them. Then I've got a potted yew and some baby boxwood for the topiary bed as well. It's going to be a lot of digging and hauling!
E. wants me to help her haul some old paneling and trash up to the recycling center tomorrow. We're hoping to then go on up to Pine Hill and possibly get a truck load of wood chips for her landscaping.
I really need to move those heaps of grass clippings that the neighbors have been leaving for me by the road. I know I've got a smelly slimy mess going there...
Tuesday, October 11, 2011
Can you smell that smell?You know, maybe I'm just a nut case, but I'm starting to get really turned off by the scents that manufacturers add to EVERYTHING. Yesterday, I was outside, enjoying the smell of my freshly mowed lawn and the Michaelmas Daisies (Wow! Like honey and do the bees ever love them.) and my neighbor must have just tossed a load of laundry into the dryer. The wind shifted and I was overwhelmed by the smell of !!!DRYER SHEET!! Yuck. Since when did "Mountain Freshness" smell like very cheap perfume? All those chemical odors can't be good for us. I don't use them: No dryer for one thing...all my laundry smells like fresh air and sunshine..in other words, like nothing at all. I use unscented laundry detergent and dishwashing liquid, and if I could find it, I'd use unscented shampoo too! No "air fresheners". Since when did the smell of good cooking become an "odor"? Nothing smells better than fried onions! No wonder kids today are so goofy.... Oh, and I love that commercial where the lady comes home all frazzled from a day at work, inhales her air freshener and hallucinates that she's in a tropical forest! *LOL* Whoa. Cheap high, man. When we were bad teenagers, if only we knew..... *LOL*
Speaking of Michaelmas Daisies....They grow wild around here. So much so that when we first moved here, they were a weed. I had to mow and burn them for a couple of years because they were everywhere. Now I have a lot of them growing wild in the nature area, but a few choice clumps in the flower borders. I really love them...just these big soft white clouds of honey-scented flowers, alive with bees. And they bloom at the same time as my deep purple New England asters and the wild Goldenrod, so that's a beautiful show, especially this year with those huge dahilas in the foreground.
OK, better stop talking and get some work done around this joint.
Monday, October 10, 2011
Do the Dance of Joy to the Grape GodsIt is FINISHED! After 5 long years of second-guessing, procrastination, sheer terror, and insecurity, that dratted grape arbor is DONE. It may need a little tweaking, a little this and that, but by god, as far as I'm concerned the thing is DONE and all it needs now is a couple of vines growing over it.
Whew! What a project. I wont bore with the past details, but over the past 3 days, I sawed, hammered, measured twice, cut twice (how? HOW? does 14 3/4 inches CHANGE???), wept, heaved, stapled, and snipped wire like a ...well, I was going to say "pro" but professional builders probably don't weep in frustration. *lol*
After I got the wooden frame up onto the uprights (that was hard work! two 11 foot lengths of 2x6 and two 9 foot lengths of 2x6...everyone told me it's a two person job, but I used two step ladders and sort of "walked" the boards up....still very hard for my skinny arms, but I did it), and nailed everything down, I uncovered two rolled up lengths of old "sheep fencing" (farm fence) from up in the pasture. Hauled them down, slung them up and over the frame (which is about 6 feet in the air) and then nailed the fencing to the frame to form a sort of open wire gridwork for the vines to climb on/through. Wrestling with wire fencing like that was like wrestling with a python.
Once that was done, I took away the temporary supports, cleaned up the area and viola (*lol* as my really bad high school french teacher would say): Done.
Even without the vines, it's a great space. I spent an hour up there yesterday late afternoon and all the cats gathered with me. There's just enough of a defined, sheltered feel to it to make it seem like you're sitting "in" or "under" something, but it's so open and airy that you can enjoy the breeze and the sunshine. I was thinking that, until the vines cover it, I could even drape a piece of shade cloth over the top during the hottest weather to make it shady and cool.
Today, R. goes back to the oral surgeon to have that bump (mucocele) removed. We are NOT looking forward to this. I hope he's able to eat all right afterwards...at this stage in his surgical recovery he really needs to eat. If he's in a lot of pain, I guess I'll get some Ensure for him to drink for a few days. Planning on poached chicken, gravy, and mashed tonight for supper...easy to eat.
Very foggy this morning, so I'm expecting another clear sunny day. I'd like to get back to the "slash and plant" on the South Border, so I think I'll finish up a few things here in the office, then get out there with a shovel.
Picked a nice "mess" of beans from the scarlet runner, about 2-3 quarts. The pods are enormous. I really thought they were past being useful, but an elderly friend of mine told me that if I "zipped" them to remove the worst of the strings, cut them into 1 inch pieces, and cooked them thoroughly, they would be not only edible, but delicious. She was right! Apparently, these big flat podded beans are not like regular green beans. She gave me a recipe for what she calls "Leather Ears" (LOVE that name).
It's ham chunks cooked with the beans, and with big triangular pieces of homemade noodle. She says to make the noodles fairly thick, so there's some "bite" to them. I'm going to try it later this week.
Thursday, October 6, 2011
More progress on South BorderI spent most of the day in the office, then R had a dentist's appointment in the afternoon. Poor guy. As if heart surgery wasn't enough, now he's developed a mucocele on his bottom lip...it's a swelling filled with fluid, sort of like a blister, but not painful. The dentist has referred him to an oral surgeon, we go there today to have it evaluated for removal. Which, of course, now that R has a replacement heart valve, means that this is dangerous and he has to take antibiotics before anything "invasive" is done in his mouth. He's been in a foul mood ever since the dentist yesterday and I don't blame him (although it was kind of nice to have him so sweet and pliant during that first week back from the hospital, due to heavy-duty painkillers and the lingering effects of anesthesia...I know. I'm terrible....*l*)
But I did manage to get back to my "slash and plant" efforts on the upper South Border for an hour in the evening. I cut down a fairly big area of wild roses and weeds; those roses are nasty. Such thorns! But worth it in June; they smell like heaven. I've left them growing on the fence line. I'm hoping later to plant some lilacs along the border, that I have in the nursery.
The last of the big old apple trees is really beyond hope now up in the New Garden, so I think I'll have B.'s husband Terry cut it down for me. It's loss will change the entire perspective of that part of the garden, but I have a small Mimosa coming up nearby. I checked the view from the Mimosa and it's as good as it was from the Apple tree, so I think I'll simply move the bench to under the Mimosa and go from there. Fortunately, Mimosa grow fast here so I should have a tree big enough to sit under in another couple of years, especially if I mulch and coddle it a bit.
If I have time today, I really should layout and at least cut the tall grass down on a Topiary Bed up in the New Garden. I'd like to move the nameless shrub from the foundation plantings up there. Then move the "cemetary" azalea into the foundation bed. There's so much to do! I wish my lawnmower would become a Transformer with all sorts of garden implements attached to its arms....wouldn't THAT be cool!?
MUST pick the rest of the beans today. I have a feeling we're going to have a frost soon.
Wednesday, October 5, 2011
Foggy morningVery foggy this morning; fog predicts good weather in the fall, so I'm looking forward to another stellar day. I think I'll pop the couch and armchair covers in the wash this morning; I really need to make some time to take that big comforter and pillows to the laundromat to wash them...they won't fit in my machine.
Things are good here; slow, and I'm still not used to that. But I'm trying *lol*! I had the oddest experience last night; just as I was falling asleep, I felt as if something "peeled away" from me....it's very hard to describe. It's as if there was a huge piece of Scotch tape in/inside me that gently lifted itself away from me. I fell deeply asleep and when I woke up, I felt better mentally than I have in a while. I wonder if this was the accumulation of worry and anxiety that has been plaguing me ever since we found out about R.'s heart condition?
I have decided that worry is pointless and I am not going to indulge in it anymore (as much as possible). When I think back over how many days, weeks, months I spent in stomach clenching anxiety over deadlines, jobs, illness (real and imagined), bad weather, bills, etc. ...all that time is wasted. Wasted because, in the end, even when something bad did happen, it wasn't nearly as bad as the worry. The world did not end; I was not held up to ridicule and defeat. (Ok, there was that time that everybody laughed at me because I put the bacon in the drawer and the scissors in the fridge... So sue me.)
My garden is my best anti-anxiety medication. Instead of a pill, I pull weeds. I force myself to deep breathe, to look around and really SEE what is out there (when I'm anxious, I tend to get tunnel vision). I make myself smile. I do something nice for someone else, like fill the bird feeder or clean out the birdbath or stake up a rose bush.
When I was a little girl, my mom once told me "when you feel overwhelmed, take off your glasses." She, of a generation whose women did not work outside the home, was referring mostly to housework. But she was right: Take off your glasses. Stop looking at everything with honed-in laser vision, seeing everything that's wrong. Try looking at your world through a slightly blurry lens...the weeds aren't THAT bad, the dust isn't THAT thick, the frayed rug really looks rather charming, and my husband's hair seems as thick as ever.
So, today, I think I'll take off my glasses, go pull some weeds, and relax.
Tuesday, October 4, 2011
Finally, some sunshine!Very foggy early this morning, but now it has cleared off to be a fine looking day. I've been up in the South Border since 8 a.m., whacking down tall grass and weeds and pruning back Japanese honeysuckle on the fence line. I managed to get ONE shrub planted, a tall Burning Bush. I was surprised and very pleased to see that two small forsythia that I planted up there early in the spring are not only surviving, but thriving. They've doubled in size and are doing very well.
I laid down some old carpeting as "base mulch" around a few of the established small trees and shrubs...I wish I had enough for the whole border but that's impossible. I am going to move some of those piles of stinky grass clippings someone left at the corner of our property up there, to cover the carpeting. If I can get enough, I'll cover that with wood chips. The problem is trying to smother out that terrible grass up there...coarse, spreading, I'm not sure what it is, but it's very tough and hard to kill.
I'm in taking a break and some breakfast, but I'm going to go back out and tackle the next section, which is very clogged with brush and weeds. I'd like to clear that down, then plant a couple of lilacs and possibly a hawthorn tree. It's times like these I wish I had Harry Potter's wand and could make all that grass disappear!
Harvested two small cauliflower (easy, PAgirl, easy.. *lol*) and some broccoli yesterday evening. Enough for two meals; one with pork chops last night, the other later in the week. B. brought me two quarts of homemade applesauce; her timing was exquisite...what a nice side for pork chops!
Too nice to be inside! Gotta run!
Monday, October 3, 2011
Summer to Winter, giving Fall a MissWell, we seem to have gone from summer (high of 84 early last week) to winter (low of 40 on Saturday) and given autumn a miss this year. It's been an odd year, with intense heat, humidity, and drought in June/July bracketed with cold and/or wet weather in March-April-May and now again in August-September. I keep hoping for those blue skies, golden green days of October. Hasn't happened yet.
Despite a fairly persistent rain yesterday, I did manage to get something done outside. I finally moved those 6 big buckets of black compost from Pine Hill up to the Top Border. I made three small piles and figured I'd let the hens do the spreading for me. They love to scratch and throw dirt/mulch everywhere; let them put it to good use!
Then I disconnected and pulled in all my hoses; the hoses were too stiff to coil, so I left them lying wherever the "sun" could reach them and hopefully someday they'll get warm enough that I can coil them up. I am NEVER again buying "bargain" hoses. My gosh, what a waste of money. The two "light duty" hoses I got last year are made of some sort of stiff plastic that cracks and kinks instead of curving. Bah. I'll use them until they break, then replace them with good hoses. In fact...hmmm...this might be something for Santa to bring me this year!
I'm also very under-impressed with these new plastic "collar" thingys they put on the female ends of hoses to make them easier to screw together. I assume the thick collar is supposed to make it easier to grasp. Well, it doesn't and furthermore, when attaching the hose to a divider, it doesn't leave enough room to turn the collar...I must have managed to get it ON the divider with a struggle, but yesterday trying to get it OFF I pinched that little bit of thin skin between thumb and first finger between the brass divider and the plastic collar. Let me tell you, that HURT. I wonder if I can break the collar off without damaging the hose?
I've decided that I have got to prioritize garden projects better. I really need to concentrate on getting more of the "bones" of the garden in NOW, and leave the "dressing" to later. For example, I've been working hard the past 2 years expanding my flower beds in several areas, while ignoring the fact that the top of the South Border and the empty spots in the Pine Row need to be cleared and planted with shrubs and trees. Those shrubs and trees will take a lot longer to grow than perennial flowers...I should have got them in 2 years ago and they'd be sizeable now. Drat!
I'm hoping to tackle the weedy corner at the start of that upper South Border today. I'll get the tall grass/weeds hacked down, lay down cardboard and grass clippings and see what I can plant. It promises to be a very wet and muddy day.
R. continues to improve. He's still weak after his cardiac surgery, but that's to be expected. Today, we're going to try taking a short walk, down the deck steps, across the lawn, to the little pond and the woods at the bottom of the property and back. There are benches down by the pond to sit and rest. I know that he's getting very irritated with his own weakness, and I'm afraid so he doesn't try to do too much too soon. Yesterday, I had to raise holy hell with him for climbing up a step ladder to turn off the a.c. vents in the living room.
We have news of my niece's missing husband. Apparently, he's been staying with friends in a nearby city and they have convinced him to get serious help for his drug addiction. He's in a rehab facility and will be there for at least 60 days (I have no idea how this is being paid for). So, my niece is relieved that he's alive and getting help. I talked with her yesterday and we got to the bottom of some recent "mysteries" that I've been wondering about. I'm too annoyed with them both to even discuss this right now, but suffice it to say they no longer have access to the business email account.
Saturday, October 1, 2011
Chicken Swap!The weathermen promised a bright sunny dry Saturday. I woke up to dripping rain and cold temperatures. *sigh* Nevertheless. I drove myself south to the Maryland Poultry Swap (otherwise known as the Chicken Swap). This was my first time and despite the rain, cold, and mud, I really enjoyed it! (My friend K never showed.) I decided to look at it as if I were an English lady; put on the wellies and the head scarf (in Best QEII tradition, minus that purse!), and go walkies. There were about 20 vendors there, with an assortment of different types of chickens, turkeys, fowl, rabbits and goats. The rabbits looked so adorable I had to keep muttering "Sixteen cats, sixteen cats, sixteen cats" to keep myself from plunking down $$$ and taking one home.
I really really want to start keeping bantams! Some of them are spectacular; I saw a Japanese variety that is mostly white with long black tails. Some "mille fleurs" that really are about every color that a chicken comes in. The silkies are amazing...
However, until I get the hen house and run into better order, that will have to wait. I am not set up for miniature chickens ("Sixteen cats, sixteen cats, sixteen cats," etc.) I DID however buy 5 fertile eggs for a regular sized chicken breed known as Dominiques. The young lady who sold me the eggs could not guarantee their fertility so she only charged me $3. (It was one of those laughable purely American situations in which we haggled: "I want $3.50 for the 5 eggs," she said. "Oh, no, let me give you $5," I said. "No, please... Just make it $3!" *LOL* )
I have a Buff Orpington hen who is broody right now (she is sitting on a nest of eggs, but none of those are fertile because I don't keep a rooster), and I want to see if the Dominique eggs will hatch for her. It's a crap shoot; I could get five baby chicks, I could get nothing, I could get a couple or a few. It will be fun to see what happens. I know it's a bit late in the year for babies, but if the weather gets really cold and there are chicks, I'll move them into the basement.
After I left (with my 5 eggs tucked warmly into an egg box on the dashboard and the defroster going), I drove back part of the way along some swoopy curvy back roads heading north for the Mason-Dixon. On one deserted stretch, I spied some light lavender colored asters growing abundantly along the road, so I stopped and yanked (*screech, yoink!*) a small clump for my garden. I am an inveterate plant thief... (Oh, relax. Only roadside stuff and only if there's lots of it. Your rare gardenias and rose bushes are safe! *grin*)
So, all in all, a very good morning...five crapshoot eggs and a little root of purple aster for the garden!
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