Category Archives: gardening

Mid July

The garden continues to be a verdant but demanding mistress, and she is the cause of my summertime wrist issues – rather pulling her weeds and picking her bugs – so I still haven’t finished the fiery molten traffic cone full of ketchup and mustard superhero roadkill shawl, but I’m nearly there. I’m at the almost yarn chicken stage – I think I could eek out 2 more rows and the bind-off with yarn to spare, but I want a stress-free time of it, so maybe I’ll just head in for the bind-off tonight…

I’m in a bit of a making funk – there are things I want to finish, things I want to make, and things I’m still thinking about – but time is short, body parts hurt, I don’t want the stress of fitting things or fighting with my sewing machines (several of which are in tension time-outs again), and unless it serves an immediate purpose, it feels too much like wasted time and pain.

I’m also no closer to figuring out how I feel about “art” and the less practical of the “crafts.” I lost my faith in all of it hard, and though I feel like I’m slightly softening, I still can’t make peace with it or figure out how it fits (or doesn’t) in my life. And history – I’m most attracted to old shit and dead people, but I don’t know what it is I feel about it and its stuff anymore – hopefully my collecting urge is permanently curtailed… I’m more interested in the past than the future, but that is another story.

N was bringing home old Sears catalogs from the library for a bit over the winter and it was a little frustrating as the past/present lines began to blur – I’d have a fabric pattern stuck in my head and couldn’t remember if it was old, or new, or new from an old one… So I took a few pictures, but annoyingly didn’t note the years, so hopefully I won’t be sued for copyright for sharing an adorable print of puppies in baskets from the late ’50s or maybe very early ’60s…

I’ve been off and on flirting with miniatures for the last several years too. I’ve got a little vintage/antique bath set I picked up a few years ago at an antique mall that I’ve seen since we moved, but haven’t found lately…

And I’ll be damned – it made an appearance here already a few years ago when we were apartment-dwelling…

And I’ve now got my dad-made childhood dollhouse with me since last Thanksgiving – I’m debating about fixing it up – rehabbing in miniature, or leave it in mock ruins.

These two rooms are the only left with wallpaper – the rest are just beige painted blanks – I think mice took up residence in it for a bit and chewed up the rest of the paper.

It was stored in a garage for at least 20 years, but the structure is sound, and the furnishings were stored elsewhere, so those are fine, though I’m missing the bathroom bits – I probably took them years ago because apparently I’ve got a thing for mouse-sized toilets and tubs. But there are several of my kid-made things in there too – mostly rugs I wove (rather shittily as seen in the kitchen above) on the little loom I still have.

So that’s on my mind too – some sort of regression to avoid the present, perhaps – but this tiny house has some awfully bare floors…

 

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Early July

I always think of the 4th of July as mid-summer, though it technically isn’t, but it’s a time to for me to take stock and get a bit more organized (I only just switched the seasons around in my closet). I’ve got the itch to purge and sell more shit though not yet the time to shoot and list it. But some things are slowing down, and I’m sitting here with hopefully the last half a numb head I’ll have for a while.

But my eyelid is numb too and I’m just going to ramble a bit with IG pics and notes.

The garden had a later, slower start – some of it due to the weather, some it due to me, some of it due to some (unknown animal) thievery while we were away. So some things needed a second and third planting, but the cooler temps and decent rainfall made things fairly easy overall so far.

Last year’s blueberries all fruited, and though they’re still just at stand-at-the-bush eating quantities, I’m thrilled about them, though we must erect some better bird netting for next year. And the gooseberry gave up enough to actually consider recipes. A few weeks ago it started to drop underripe fruit (some sort of stress, might have been a hot spell) so I whipped up a little batch of jam with it, the only three stalks of still-young rhubarb I could safely pick, and some strawberries for sweetness.

The main load became ice pops (blended with almond milk) and are damn refreshing.

The only lettuce that germinated was buttercrunch – which is okay since it’s my favorite – but it’s getting older now and I neglected to save a good spot to start the warm-season varieties (or just more buttercrunch), so I squeezed in a covered lane next to some fennel that’s doing well at the moment too. We had some near-death and replanting and rebound with the basil which is a good thing because we never seem to have enough. And all squashes are younger than we’d like, but persevering – one butternut volunteer I let go for shits in one of the compost bins is especially bombastic and has some toddler fruits, so fingers crossed…

And then I was ignoring the beans – those are usually my failsafes, but got hit hard from slugs? this year but survived, but I thought needed more time.

But they didn’t. And a batch is already in the freezer. Lesson learned from previous years to put up what can be now, and eat up now what can’t. At least to some degree – fresh green beans are not to be ignored completely. But we had several quarts of older (larger) greens (kale and chard mostly) that languished in the freezer since we knew they’d need to be cooked down and seasoned well, and I should be out there now picking the fresh young stuff for January’s dishes. And let’s not forget the tomatoes, onions, shallots, kale, chard, beets – all of those are doing well – and the peppers (jalepeno and cayenne) had a rough start but seem to be rebounding, but the garlic had a rough time – we’ll still have a decent harvest – but we need to figure out why it wasn’t robust – perhaps the late winter heat spell followed by the cool damp start to summer was to blame.

N’s new landscaping has brought noticeably more pollinators to the yard which is lovely to see (both the bees and the new flowers) and I’m still fighting the poison ivy – it’s getting better but will still need monthly vigilance and gloves. N also got one of those motion-activated sprinklers that is hopefully pissing off the feral cats enough to stay away as well as the deer, but so far the deer don’t seem to mind (or know when it’s off).

We’ve managed to squeeze in a few beach days.

And the flaming molten lava safety cone of ketchup and mustard smeared on asphalt is a perfect beach knitting project. I still don’t know if I like it, but I am committed to finishing it, and hopefully soon.

And it should be time soon to forage for invasive wineberries here… and then to think about and plan a bit better for autumn’s plantings…

And to soon reunite with an old unfinished knit.

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Crazy 8s

My manic knitting episode didn’t last long – it was triggered by the need to pack a week’s worth of projects for a trip up to the White Mountains with a rainy forcast – but all new attempts were thwarted, so I’m back to being monogamish to what’s on the needles now.

I started the Amiga a few days before we left thinking it was possible that I could be done and wearing it by July. I used US 9 needles to get a better drape (some of the others I’ve seen on ravelry with this yarn look a bit thick or stiff) but the 9s ended up being a bit too loose.

(Bamboo needles for stitch holding purposes only – just knitting one row of this cotton blend on to them took me down for the rest of the day.)

But then I couldn’t find my 8 tips. I knew with certainty that I didn’t have a current project on 8s, and couldn’t remember the last time I’d used them, and I was pretty certain I’d never used my 8 tips at all… So that project didn’t make the cut.

So I packed a small paper pieced quilt, a thrift unraveler, and 4 knits – only 1 of which was new and not yet on the needles.

On the first rainy day, I stared a cabled reflective hat for N.

Though I remembered to pack a few sizes of needles, I forgot that the old dpn packs have only 4 needles, not 5, so I started it on 3 US 8 needles, but kept dropping stitches off the tips and it was driving me bats – I added a fourth US 7 needle to the mix but by then I’d screwed up a cable too and had had enough. I thought if I re-started it on the full set of 7 dpns top-down and knit it plain I’d whiz through it and he might be able to wear it on the trip, but it was too tight on the 7s, and again, I don’t like bamboo needles unless the yarn is super slick, and I prefer doing the main part of hats on circulars and didn’t have them packed with me (and the 8 tips were still awol anyway).

So I knit, and knit, and knit on that firey sontag.

And amazingly, my hands & wrists were okay with marathon sessions, so I condensed what was likely 2 months of my painful knitting rate into a week.

My favorite color change was this brief moment of pink-grey – reminded me of things from my past, not specific and not necessarily happy, but familiar – I’m inexplicably drawn to dirty pinkish these last few years…

I took just a few breaks – one to prep a thrift cashmere tank for unraveling, and the other to shoot and reacquaint myself with the Paulie cardigan, perhaps even knock out a few rows.

I tried it on the skunk, and only after I shot it did I realize…

skunk paulie had the 8s.

Why?

I’m knitting this sweater on 2s. I’m guessing I needed said 2s (yes, for this hat likely) and put the 8s on to save the stitches knowing I’d never used the 8s and it wasn’t likely I would.  So even if I’d planned to work on it while away, I couldn’t have.

But I had one last back-up – the Paris Toujours I started in the mountains last summer.

I love it, but I didn’t work on it, but I will – I’d like to be wearing it by early fall (or perhaps I’ll knit on it during another mountain trip then).

But there was some great weather too and I managed to get on the trails a little bit – my good knee is now my bad knee and I’m dealing with pain and the clumbsiness of favoring the other, formerly bad side now – it’s still bad, but not as bad as the newly bad – I’m just grinding down on bones now, no longer receiving the sharp bite of torn cartiledge.

We did a few short woods trails, a lovely pond, and a pretty impressive waterfall.

But taking it easy was the biggest accomplishment.

And Rocco was the most relaxed we’d ever seen him at the cabin – no road in sight, nor people, or animals – he only barked twice at some hummingbirds and a scent – either bear or turkey – not a single full tantrum/rage/freakout the whole week – until spying a bichon frise 50 yards away at a rest stop on the way home.

I got some quality time with the foliage – forget-me-nots, mosses & lichens, ferns – in the few acres around the cabin.

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I like moss. #moss

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(Yeah, most of that is lichen).

And ate some of it (from a food co-op, not foraged) cooked up by N and other spring tasties too…

As well as sweets (and of course pancakes) I usually only buy up there.

We’re home to the heat and finally productive, but needy garden (though some asshole ate half the onions and squash plants), and my wrist hurts again, so the knitting has sloooooowed down once more.

 

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Maymeanderings

I’ve got a few posts about small side projects in the hopper, things that I was futzing around with before the bathroom project hit, and now the garden and yard have hit, and hit hard, and once again my wrist isn’t happy and the projects still have yet to be photographed and/or cleared of their winter cobwebs and/or condemned to life or death…

My brain still has some cobwebs though – I’ve hit the anniversary of shit hitting the fan last year and I can’t say I’ve quite come out the other side yet – I still don’t know what I want for a career again and/or the right (or right enough) work for me – I know more about what I like and don’t, but those are just luxuries and I don’t get to be choosy.

My meantime work is renewed for another term though so at least I’m keeping afloat.

But afloat is also adrift, but I can’t go down that hole just now…

I’ve had a dumb week of former employer/COBRA/health insurance/fuck-ups and appointments cancelled and re-scheduled woes – things that take up time – time I thought I would have a bit of again now that the plumber isn’t here all day on my day off every week.

*****

N and the dog brought home some glorious morels from their dawn walk the other day.

I was over the moon – hillbilly gold. I miss my childhood home and land,  but not the people, or the area in general, or the state mostly as a whole, but these make me a tiny bit homesick (and they’re the only thing I saute in butter). We threw their soaking liquid in the yard hoping a stray spore or two might take hold.

(If only I could find a Paw Paw patch here too…)

My winter/early spring online used clothing sales did pretty well – thankfully I don’t usually unravel my thrift sweaters until I’ve got a project about to hit the needles, so I can sell off the excess ones that are still in decent shape – and I don’t love unraveling the thin cashmeres anyway. What’s left of the vintage wool clothes and whatnot should fit in just one tub for the fall when I’ll try to sell it again or just re-donate. Up next is more random shit – vintage dishes mostly – things that don’t do so well, but I just can’t give away without trying…

But I have half a closet free in my studio/sewing room now, and it’s the first visible progress in a bit – much of my organizing and purging is invisible – trashing the dried-out paints in a box of paints still leaves you with a box of paints, only all usable and at the ready now…

I’ve got to do some repairs and lots of painting to do in the utility room in the basement next – just the walls though, not the cabinets yet – but hopefully that should take no more than 3 days.

And I’ve got a quick gift knit on the needles to revive my tiling-sore fingers and remind my wrist what its place ought to be.

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In the meantime

Spring is well underway without me.

The garden is far more behind than I wanted it to be (the late blizzard snowed in my very early plans), but last autumn’s late spinach that didn’t do much then, came back in green glory, so I’m quite pleased about that. The garlic is doing its thing and the rhubarb, gooseberry, asparagus, and blueberries all have leaves, blossoms (where applicable), and new growth. I need to look into more of these sorts of perennial edibles – I love establish and maintain gardening more than plant and re-plant and tear out at the end of the season gardening… not too much of a veg option though? But more fruit and herby things at least.

(The poor magnolia has its glorious blossoms frozen off, so sadly we didn’t get a show this year.)

The seeds that started indoors did disappoint somewhat – the peppers and tomatoes likely just didn’t have enough/right kind of light (or attention), but the squash are robust and will hopefully be the strong beasts they need to be to fight the beetles and borers. Other veg and herbs are puttering along, and I’ll try some more herbs and flowers next.

I’d like to get rid of at least 40% of our lawn – the priorities being the most annoying places to mow or whack, and first up is a little hill on the west side of the house. I’ve been ridding it of Chinese wisteria, and left a bit in one place to train and braid (and it has started to grow together) but it still wants total domination, so it will go, and hopefully the little hill will accept a couple of fig trees and a mess of woody herbs that the deer won’t touch.

N finished breaking up all of the front sidewalks to nowhere and dug some expanded beds. Those now have a mess of perennials we somehow managed to finally plant, and in a few weeks or so we’ll be able to dig up all of the bulbs (mostly hyacinth – achoo!) that have clumped together and on top of one another and re-distribute them better and throughout the yard.

And the bathroom?

We’re finally on the other side – the plumber is here now for his (fingers crossed) final visit and I’ve got a mess of grout sealing and paint touch-ups to do later today.

(And I’ll probably get some new towels and a rug since our “nice” ones don’t really look it anymore, and some others may have gotten encrusted with mortar and caulk schmears…)

I was a bit cocky about the floor – I thought it would be easier than the walls, and in some ways it is, but there are some seriously wrong joints despite a meticulous layout. And I was tired, and I’d had an aural migraine, and I just wanted to get it done, but for something basically permanent in your house, you need to take care and have a better attitude…

And of course I’d finished the grouting before noticing a defect on one of the tiles – a black hex in the wrong row – I was going to leave it for character, but it was in a prominent spot for viewing while on the john, so I pried it up and re-set it.

The whole room has enough “character” as it is…

 

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End of March

Things are still busy and will be for the next few weeks, month, some period of time that will perhaps never let up.

The premature spring followed by the belated winter has messed with my head, but the extended daylight makes things a bit more correct again.

A small herd of deer has taken a fancy to the yard.

The dog absolutely does not fancy them.

He starts a new class for complicated dogs next week – fingers crossed he’ll soon learn to cope with other four-legged, or rather, all, creatures soon.

Fiber-wise, I’m still finishing up several things and resisting the temptation to start anything new.

I’ve started the garden seeds, and N has started to break up the concrete walks to nowhere in the yard.

It’s sucky work, but he’s an ace with a sledgehammer and we’re saving a good chunk of money on the deconstruction.

We need a helluva lot of plants – ones not delectable to deer – but I’m happy to reduce the lawn as much as possible.

The bathroom reno is finally starting, well, scheduled.

After looking at hundreds of tiles, various solid shower wall options, and green resilient flooring, we settled in our comfort zone – all tile, tiles we’ve used before, ones that are very affordable, and fit into the vintage cottage vibe going on in the house already.

First we have a bit of an emergency with  having to replace the basement sewer line though… a rather shitty situation.

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What Phil* had to say

It’s a bit disorienting to be in February and have only been through an extended mud season – mud from rain, not snow (except for a tiny bit). I don’t mind a mild winter per se, but the ticks haven’t died (have I already bitched about the ticks still hanging on – on the dog – this winter?) and I’m sure the garden’s not-frozen foes are planning their evil attacks…

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Go back to sleep! #january #itsnotspringyet

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But there is still ample time for a blizzard or two, so I’ll shut the hell up.

Thanks to N with his speedy PVC erection skills, we’re good to go with seed starting this year – just need the electrician to add a plug, and a few more supplies.

feb-grow

The signs of spring are urging us to eat up last summer’s bounty – we’ve barely touched the frozen veg, but we’re down to just one butternut, and the last of the juicy peak of season blueberries made their way into a pie.

None of my current knitting projects wrapped up by the end of January, so they’ll be finished when they are – soon, likely, for the socks, and I have to really force myself on the sweater – I need the needles from it though (to start another likely long-suffering, but less painful to knit sweater) so that might be the needed kick to the finish line.

I put the hand crank on the Singer red eye.

feb-crank

And it will hopefully be awesome – now, not so much – the machine is far more gummed up than I thought and the movement is sluggish (I think I last used it in 1999? and it’s been in and out of basements and storage units) – and I have to learn a bit more about disassembling parts and well-greasing and whatnot. “Fixing” old sewing machines for me has just been a good wipe down, oiling, and replacing a missing part or two, so it’s time I get a few more mechanical skills on that front – and at some point, I’d like to be able to restore the finish and whatnot, but maybe not – I want to use these machines, not look at them being pretty.

*as in Punxsutawney.

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