Tag 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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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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Garden end days

(I’m sick over this election bullshit and low maddening hum of misogyny like a high voltage wire stretching over the continent here, so let’s stick with some light “lunching ladies” garden talk for now…)

The garden broke me this year – there wasn’t a single plant (except the hot peppers) that wasn’t hit with disease, multiple diseases, and pests – even the fresh dirt in the new raised beds now harbors various evils.

garden-end-eflin-thing

There was some balance – some of the new pests attracted some new predators – but not enough, and/or not in time and I’m going to have to be even more proactive next year with using more or other organic interventions.

garden-end-mantis

The fall crops mostly failed from no rain and continued heat through September, but a few sprouts are gamely hanging on, and the poor embattled (nearly zombie) tomatoes are desperately trying to ripen their very last fruit.

garden-end-army-worm

We had a few more butternuts than last year, but not enough for the work we put into them to keep them alive, and my experiments with letting some volunteer plants grow failed miserably since they were a month or more behind and maturing at the height of pest season.

garden-end-squash

Google took new satellite images of our town and our garden can be seen from space! Near space, that is, and luckily it was captured after a fresh batch of straw in the aisles and before the plants got big, so there’s good contrast.

garden-end-satellite

The new garlic is now in, and the old garlic is already half consumed – unfortunately we’re definitely not going to make it until next year’s crop.

garden-end-canned

And the canning is finally wrapped up – just tomatoes in various consistencies, jalapeno salsa, and a tiny batch of overly sweet hot pepper jelly. The rest of the bounty is tucked away in the new chest freezer. I experimented with blanching or not with a few things, so we’ll see what worked best, and anything too mushy to eat is heartily consumed by the canine, so it’s not a total loss.

Now starts the month or two of raking and shredding leaves…

(And a heads up that I agreed to put “a subtle message” urging Americans to register to vote in my posts, so if you see it, it should be there, and please vote unless you like Trump or any of the other election-throwing candidates, then please stay home.)

 

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Randomly at the start of another July…

I’ve got 19 posts started – all waiting for images, things to be found and photographed, projects to get underway or completed, or thoughts to round out or solidify.

Ongoing, but sometimes intermittent, wrist pain has substantially curtailed my knitting, and brain fog has kept me from working on a couple of sweaters that are both at the point of needing close attention to the pattern and/or modifications and deviations… But I’ll knock out a few rows on the thick socks, and regular socks, and wash cloths from time to time.

july-socks

It’s looking less and less likely that I’ll participate in the Tour de Fleece this year – the last few were failures anyway and the room I keep my wheel is hot as balls. But I started a little bit of spinning a month ago – one or two of you might recognize the significance of the colors – but now I’m not sure I’ll finish more than a bobbin or two – it was a flash-in-the-pan idea for bringing in a little cash, but I’m not feeling it on various levels anymore, and again humidity and wool don’t mix.

july-spin

The last month was pie/cake/italian ricotta tart season for both of us and that was a happy diversion.

july-tart

(Sadly, these weren’t our own blueberries – we’ll need another couple of years for a pie’s worth.)

july-pie

And with that came a new tablet with an okay enough camera for Instagram participation, so join me there – it may or may not relate to things here, and will likely have an excess of garden pics…

Of which will also be here – the garden is getting the lion’s share of my otherwise making something time for better or worse – some of it squishing bastard cucumber beetles, some of it trying to keep up with picking the bounty – most of it good times.

july-beets

(Unfortunately the spring carrots didn’t take well, so our beets will have to be paired up with another farm’s carrots for some tasty fresh juice.)

july-peas

I threw in some peas for shits and giggles expecting them to get scorched too soon, but now I wish I’d planted more…

july-garlic

N’s garlic crop has been good overall – he tried 5 or 6 different varieties with mixed results.

july-garlic in basement

The basement utility room now smells lovely, or like a giant head of garlic (and we’ll consume all of it well before next year’s appears).

july-beans

I love good old trustworthy basic (Provider) green beans. My worst gardens have always produced enough of them to land at least some extra in the freezer – but we won’t be pickling and canning anymore ever again – I absolutely abhor a mushy bean.

july-bean rash

I also hate that picking them always gives me a rash and I’m at times too lazy to go back in the house for a long-sleeved shirt before doing so…

july-catbird

There are a few more friendly catbirds keeping me company in the garden this year – let’s hope that they’re taking care of some of the peskier bugs and not just warming up for a potential fruit harvest.

And I’m slowly assessing and cleaning and repairing my old sewing machines – turns out one was a different model than I’d thought which doesn’t mean much except that I can’t use it for parts after all but the condition is good after all too, I’m attempting to turn another into a hand crank, and one or two others might leave the herd.

I’ve got a bit of a garment sewing fever building, so let’s see if anything comes of it…

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Early harvests

I’m having a hard time to adjusting to being sans job this time around. The last time it happened, I had to hurry up and deal with the sale of our old house and all of the packing up, storing, and moving to the next state over, so too much was going on to really feel the break. But this time, I’ve been getting up and going into my home office every day since we’ve lived here and I can’t shake the feeling that I’m slacking off if I’m not sitting at my desk. Though if I sit at my desk and try to do something mildly constructive like write a bit about fiber or put up some ebay listings, I’ll easily forget my train of thought. Or the dog starts to act nutty…

harvest - not a pastry

Or I’ll wander off for a snack and see a paper bag in the kitchen and think maybe I have a forgotten tasty sandwich or chocolate croissant ready to surprise and delight me with deliciousness but then remember it was just some random bit of home improvement I picked up at the hardware store a few hours previously…

But I’m trying to find a new rhythm and hopefully in another week or so things will lean to normal. (Though I started writing this over a week ago, so maybe I’d better hope for another few weeks or so…)

harvest garden full

The garden is finally fully planted and/or germinated. The only total failure so far was fennel, and I’m in a current aphid war in one tomato bed, but not the other, yet.

(The neighbors also just rebuilt their retaining wall near the property line – thanks neighbor, well done!)

May’s dirt is a time of impatience then sudden chaos – one day I’m thinning baby greens…

harvest - fresh greens

And enjoying their first meal-sized portion after N’s culinary intervention:

harvest - greens pasta

And then in a few days, we have a sudden, aggressive bounty of lusty, verdant young adults…

harvest rapini

And we’ll be crowded with green, barely able to keep up, but reluctant to share, for weeks (fingers crossed).

Gardening and unruly dog handling have left my wrists sore, so I’ve done little to no knitting, spinning, and sewing. (Worrying about the dog chewing up or swallowing fiber tools has also curtailed my activities – I can’t leave anything lying about at the ready as I’m wont to do.) But I hit the thrift one last time in the early spring to gather up some yarn-harvestable sweaters before they disappeared for the season.

harvest - bag o sweaters

One was a lovely olive wool/cashmere? blend – I already misplaced the label as that is one of the things I often leave out while unraveling. But I think this might become a Paris Toujours instead of the brown cashmere I’d planned, though I’ve a hundred yards or so less of the olive. This yarn begs for something garter-stitch-squishy though (and I’m thinking of a poncho-like thing in the brown instead… maybe.)

harvest olive yarn

And another was a printed cotton/rayon cardigan. I’d been wanting to play with a printed knit that would turn into variegated yarn, but I hadn’t finished the thought as to what I’d do with it. The kinks remained after washing – likely because of the rayon? but that doesn’t matter too much, since I’ll likely double or triple it with something else or itself. And I can’t accurately count the yardage to save my life…

harvest - printed yarn

The others are wool and wool or cotton blends – I went out of my comfort zone a bit in order to get some interesting yarns and have some wool-free options if I ever get around to selling things (either the harvested yarn or something made from it). And several of these were less than ideal since they were cardigans with cut and stitched buttonholes, so one panel is left on several that will need to be sewn into something, or if I’m desperate, I could still harvest a dozen or so yards between the holes.

(Of course I still have dozens of other sweaters waiting to be unraveled as well, but those are still packed up – much easier to just find new ones…)

 

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A change other than the seasons…

I showed up here after I lost my job the first time around.

But that turned out to be only temporary, and I got it back first by half time, and then full – happily telecommuting all the while – and things started moving forward and building up steam and for the last few months I was preparing to uproot my (our) life all over again to return to the city we call home though neither of us was born there, and we’d literally just gotten around to unpacking here…

dead robin*

But then I didn’t get the job, “my” job that I’ve been wedded to for nearly 15 years.

Complaining about the reason why would make me an asshole, and I am not one.

(At least in this circumstance.)

So now I’ve got to start all over again, without tearing at my breast screaming injustice, and wallowing too much in what I’ve loved and lost – it was a divorce, not a death, so I can’t grieve and move on – I have to deal with teary phone calls, people choosing sides regardless of my desire for them not to, colleagues and constituents asking me about things the new “wife” doesn’t know (and won’t for some time), and trying to explain to future employers in guarded language and lies that technically aren’t, why I “left” my last job.

dead grape hyacinths

But there is also a bit of relief – things have been maddeningly up in the air since last November, and many more things were delayed (like the garden) since we thought we were going to have to hurry up and sell the house. But now much of that has turned into anxiety as I scramble to get things back in order for life here while cutting the strings with finality from our old home city and fully completing our move here with all of the administrative annoyances – closing and opening bank accounts, no longer paying taxes in places I no longer live but still worked, changing health plans again (nooooo!!!!), and closing vastly underfunded retirement plans, etc., etc., etc.

It’s almost as if we have moved again, only without the back pain.

garden 16 start

(But our backs are screaming in pain due to rushed garden improvements – some new raised beds, blueberry bushes! a gooseberry bush! rhubarb!, and some decorative landscaping.)

And though I’d been searching for stable work and attempted and failed to go back to school while I was underemployed a few years ago, I thought that things would eventually turn around and I’d have the option of going back at some point in the next few years, but that point came much sooner than expected and with very unexpected results. Now, the job search and/or figuring out the next thing has a greater sense of urgency (though thanks to N we’re not going to starve or loose the house in the meantime) and I have even less desire to pound the pavement and jump back into the morass of shitty politics of my specialty in my field, yet I’m too many years away from other areas in the field so I’m no longer competitive in other specialties I’ve had in the past…

(And it was a happy fluke that I was able to telecommute for nearly four years too – that usually isn’t an option at all in my work – I’ve grown to really enjoy working from home and the thought of a several hours a day commute makes me nearly physically ill.)

dead squirrel*

The taste in my mouth right now is awfully bitter – the widest stretches of the world of art only ever serve the rich and their whims and needless needs, and it is a class in which I will never be comfortable, welcomed, or wish to bow to – so I don’t see much point in continuing a career in temples of poor dead people’s stuff.

I’d like to work in something far more fundamental or necessarily – life and death, food and shelter…

But I don’t particularly enjoy children on a regular basis, I haven’t the stomach for other’s bodily fluids, and waiting tables and construction require stamina and strength that I don’t have much of these days.

So I have no fucking clue which color of parachute I’d prefer now…

dead robin burial

(But I know I’m still coming at this from a place of relative privilege, so all in all, as usual, things could be so much worse.)

*And I’ve no idea how or why this robin ended up tits up in our garden, or this squirrel began melting into the yard (though the troublesome feral cats are likely to blame for him) but N gave them both proper burials underneath a bird-favorite bush that has become the boneyard for small wild things.

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