Tag Archives: Spring

Yard and garden late spring 2018 notes

This time of the year is all about the pulling and planting. Not much making stuff happens because my appendages need rest and my finger skin has extra cuts and splinters. I’m equal parts ready and willing to be outside and feeling better from the vitamin D blast, and feeling enraged and bound to all of the fecund green things out of control (and then really out of control if neglected for a day or two).

This is the fourth year battling Chinese wisteria, Japanese knotweed, lesser celandine (pretty much lost the battle with that one), garlic mustard, creeping charlie, other unknown vines and weeds, and the native poison ivy. Things are starting to get under control – everything is still coming up everywhere, but it can mostly be pinched off. I’ve moved on to the bigger things, and identified Japanese barberry (now gone), Russian olive (needs to be gone, but something needs to replace it), and a Callery pear that is well within my sites, but it’s probably too big to take down ourselves now (want to put a redbud in its place).

N made some window boxes deemed “adorable” by a passer-by (they are – just the icing on the cottage cake) and the magnolia had a bombastic bloom this year. The massive perennial planting of 2017 is coming back to life – except for  most of the hyssop…? Not sure what happened there, but a second massive perennial planting has happened…

N has also foraged some very excellent chicken of the woods mushrooms, and I finally played with the wild violets that are all over the yard. My violet syrup doesn’t taste like much – more of just a simple syrup with a slight vegetal tone – and the flowers don’t have much of an aroma, so either I needed to pick them another time, or our violets suck? But the syrup is handy for experiments in fruity popsicles that have started happening thanks to a brief hot spell (now it is cool and rainy and woolly and definitely not popsicle weather again).

Ghost stairs. #construction #ghoststairs #ladder

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There’s also a big house project happening – one that’s almost done, but foiled by the rainy weather

And then there’s the veg.

The garden is planted and growing (the beets, carrots, and inexplicably the bok choy failed to germinate well, but so far I’ve had better luck with carrots in the fall. The new additional grow light (cheap led strips hung in between the florescents) made a lot of tomato plants happen.

Despite what I thought was a decent 2 week hardening off period, all suffered transplant shock and a bit of sun scald, but all have come back from it. I put them out slightly early too, but I’d already transplanted them once into bigger pots and there wasn’t room for even bigger pots – there were around 50 plants, and the leftovers went to the neighbors. I definitely started the squash to early, and some didn’t survive transplanting, but starting them indoors isn’t entirely necessary, but I’m trying to get ahead of the bugs. And something is eating the pepper plants, so I might have to buy a few…

And now we’ve got asparagus beetles – our little asparagus row is over half dead thanks to last year’s false spring – we’ve gotten a couple of side dish and garnish’s worth of spears, and the skinny ones left all have damage from the little fuckers – now everything out there has a pest or disease to nom it down to nothing and maybe kinda makes me think a little about how life would be easier with just a lawn. Most of the neighbors have just a lawn with a tree here and there, and maybe they are the smart, or at least relaxed and not in pain, ones…

But fuck lawns, they taste terrible.

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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…

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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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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Hats n’at

fragile

The mood around here is still fragile as is the bulb for our UV water filter that thankfully arrived unscathed despite the mail carrier’s disregard of descriptions…

(Tick one more learned home routine maintenance task off the list and have an extra cookie for not paying a ridiculously inflated service fee… And pray to the water company that one day soon they’ll put in lines up here…)

early spring

Despite over two feet of snow and ice and more snow and gallons of rain within the last month, Spring has been determined and strong…

turnsquare-thickstripe

The hats are nearly all done – and all done with Cascade 220 superwash scraps, a yarn which I’ll no longer buy now that it is manufactured in China, but I’ve yet to find a suitable replacement – something soft, comes in a array of colors, washable, and reasonably priced…

redbubble-bag

And lest you forget my Redbubble shop (I did) but after over a year, I finally sold one floor sander sticker and was reminded of it. But I won’t get paid for said sticker until I earn at least $20. Curious about the quality of their products, I finally ordered my own tote in the veggie weenie series (it’s the medium size 16″ x 16″).

redbubble-bag detail

And it’s a good thing – not great, but useful and much better quality than those 99 cent weird fabric-ish grocery bags, though not as sturdy as canvas, but very lightweight. It’s a woven poly lined in a poly that at first glance I thought was cotton… The photo is somewhat soft and abstracted this large, but perhaps less titillating for it which could be good if easily embarrassed, but then again, it’s just a carrot for chrissakes. They’re made in USA, but I don’t know the fabric origin, nor much of anything about the company, so I’m not going to crow about it too much. But I like it for carrying packages to the post office and it’s held up well so far.

I’ll probably shut this shop down in a bit though – kinda pointless to keep it up since it was mostly a gag to begin with…

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Continuing randomly…

Those premature daffodils finally fell to some conquering beauties.

spring-daffodils

I’ve been puttering about the yard, finally paying attention to what is what out there and making plans to move some things around and add more. My research on native deer-resistant plants is just beginning, but I’ve got a decent list so far – at least for this year. The big project is expanding the vegetable garden 4-5 times the size it is now and installing a beefy deer fence… More on that later, I’m sure (after my arms recover from post hole digging, even though N is doing most of it).

My studio/workspace is still a partially unpacked mess, but I’ve run out of storage room, and once I start working on things, it will probably always look like a partially unpacked mess. But I need to clear a table to cut out a few simple patterns for summer clothes I intend to make but likely the seasons will change again before I get around to that…

spring-frogged mohair

I wanted some mohair to add to an upcoming knitting project, so I found it in this boxy 1980s bright beauty at a thrift store last year.

Remind me to never, ever, harvest mohair (at least this particular mohair mix) again. I’ve only finished the sleeves, which I think will be enough – especially since I took it an asinine step further and separated the plys to make even more… But perhaps the leftover body parts can be sewn into an enormous baby chick.

Speaking of baby chicks, I keep seeing them in the farm stores and I’ve got some serious baby rabies of the poultry strain…

But not this year – too many things to continue to get in shape and major fortifications would need to be made for some hens – I’m looking at you, you beautiful but murderous fox (and the hawks and raccoon and cats).

spring-shug or shawl

I finished that old shale (or feather and fan, but that’s wrong, right?) thing. It was supposed to be a dramatic drapey wide shawl – something that could be whipped around and trailed behind – but I ran out of yarn. It was harvested from an old mohair blend sweater (this one was easy to rip) and an old Shetland one, so there was zero chance of obtaining more, and I wasn’t interested in adding another color, though as I write this, perhaps I will consider adding something more blended with the Shetland at either end…? But more likely, I will turn this into a shrug – somewhat still dramatic with wide scalloped sleeves and a back at a reasonable length – I hate cropped shrugs, at least on me. The problem is, I was planning on selling this, I don’t like the color on me and don’t have the appropriate flowing navy or brown or black outfit with which to pair it. But it fits my weird ape-armed curvy but lanky body, and for many, the sleeves would be too long…. So perhaps I’ll try blocking it wider rather than longer, but I wanted the scalloped ends to pop out more…

spring-scraps

And even though I ran out of yarn for the length I wanted, the fiber gods smiled down on me for allowing the finishing to happen with the appropriate number of repeats and bind-off with only 6 inches of yarn to spare… that’s satisfaction.

cashmere-skein

I finished spinning that beautiful New Mexico cashmere.

But this picture is a lying liar about its tumultuous youth.

Yes, it is beautiful now, finally, but…

spring-kinky cashmere

…things got a bit kinky for a bit…

I wanted a rustic, bumpy, somewhat thick and thin single. But I still, always, over spin singles. So I had to run it through again to take out twist. But short staple + too thin parts = break, break, breaks!

In the end, it is good – goodly soft – but thin, something from cobweb to light fingering. I haven’t decided on a good pattern for it yet – I want a neck thing, preferably something simple and relatively dense, meaning not much lace if any… Might end up with a simple garter something or other… It’s about 650 yards if anyone has any suggestions?

spring-grape hyacinth

In the meantime, I dig and dig and dig and now weed too, and get awfully distracted making wreaths out of pruned wisteria vine… I can’t wait for it to bloom to find out if we’ve got the native stuff or the evil import…

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Randomly, as the season begins to change…

 daffydills

We’ve got a rogue patch of overachieving daffodils that bloomed weeks before their cousins.

And immediately it becomes spring.

Our bodies are still confused about the seasons…

turkey devonshire

Still craving heavy winter food – like the disgusting-looking, but oh-so-delicious turkey devonshire sandwich – better with smoked turkey and yes, you can make cheese sauce with soy milk, and of course, lots of cheese, and I’m not one to believe bacon makes everything better, but in this case, it does…

jeni's

But also finally feeling warm enough to eat ice cream…

last of the 2014 salsa

But disappointed because last year’s home-canned tomatillo salsa ran out way before we can make more…

New tin

Still not quite willing to give up indoor activities like thrifting – especially when I can add a new tin to my collection

lamppad

Or a crocheted thing to protect newly finished furniture

Little quilt

And sewing little things because my physical space and current brain can’t handle anything much bigger…

Morandiesque

And continuing to unpack and arrange long stored things (Morandi, anyone?)…

whitewash not

And dragging my heels in deep about finishing the basement…

I experimented with whitewashing the ugly paneling, but only succeeded in making it uglier.

More painting, again? Now, so soon after all the rest…?

Noooooo……………

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More things that aren’t what I thought they were or what they started out to be…

I seem to be on an uneasy roll wherein I can no longer trust anything…

Including the season…

grackles

Clouds of grackles and redwing blackbirds have been stopping over in the yard, and the hyacinths began to pop up – it’s been grey but warming.

fresh snow

Then more of this – more than I thought was coming (but it didn’t last long).

mesh yarn

We’ve been talking about dressing more safely/noticeably when walking on the road to a little trail head nearby and considered buying some of those neon vests construction workers and police officers wear, but then I saw a bag of neon yarn at the big box and thought I could whip up some sort of vest/cowl/bib thing that could be more fabulous than the plastic vest.

Only it turned out to be mesh yarn… So I can make scruffly safety boas instead?

lovely flannel

And I ordered what I hoped was the last bit of fabric for curtains for the near future and on impulse added a few yards of a lovely colored plaid flannel to my “cart.”  I’d been thinking about making some loose tunic-like shirts in plaid… Only it ended up being this incredibly thick, luscious stuff without the drape of cheapass flannel… What now? PJ bottoms, pillow cases…? Or do I need to sew an actual shirt that fits well and has buttonholes? I don’t feel like paying that much attention to detail now, but this stuff deserves something nice.

selbu pancake

I like berets – I have thin hair and berets don’t smash the top front down, so I whipped up a Selbu Modern because it is called a beret.  But in the pattern pictures it looks like a floppy hat – whatever those are called – floppy berets? The kind of hat good for dreadlocks or stuffing thick hair?  But it looked like some people blocked theirs to look more like a tam sort of beret. But no, even after some intense blocking mine is floppy… it’s fine, I like floppy hats, but I already have enough hair-smashing hats, and still need another that isn’t – especially this time of year.

Little shelf-before

So I turned to some predictable projects. I picked up this sad little shelf/nightstand/table thing at a thriftstore recently. It had a terrible hack plywood shelf and a crackled paint that may have been intentional, or may have been the result of a fire, or may be evidence of something evil and toxic and brain-robbing. But I love old stuff. And I love that it was $7.00. And I love small light furniture that is still wood and yet it takes little effort to move around.

Little shelf-during

So I stripped and stripped and stripped (the furniture) and took out the crap shelf, debated about putting in a better one but didn’t, and painted the whole shebang.

Little shelf-done

I’m still not sure where it’s going to go, and the aqua works in some rooms and not others (I just mixed up some old sample paints) but I’m happy with it – and happy to feel a bit less off-kilter again.

little shelf-in situ

For now, it’s here.

Can you spot the other thing with the Selbu Modern pattern?

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