Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Weekend scenes

// The chicks first taste of green acres.

// Pete's reaction: Why... those are... absolutely the most appetizing things I've ever seen! He swiped, he mewed, he looked wistful and then put-out with us, and finally went off to stalk starlings.

// With aphids comes... ladybugs. Bright ruby jewels among the pea vines.

// We're eating salad in shades of lime, kelly, burgundy, and rose. This is the first week where meal planning has shifted from, "Oh, maybe I'll have broccoli by the end of the week, so I'll pencil in a stir fry..." to "HOLY GOD how do I use all this goodness up?" Garden ingredients will be in every dinner this week, that is certain, and probably also some lunches and breakfasts too. Fried egg over lettuce. Black beans and feta over lettuce. Bulgur over lettuce. Pancakes over lettuce?

// Patrick and I sat outside with the chicks, the Pete, a guitar and a couple of beers for a solid two hours yesterday evening. I have a hard time planting myself in a chair to relax when there's so many weeds to pull, but 80% humidity and two beers helps.

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Friday, May 25, 2012


Left to right: Loretta, Patsy, Dolly, Tammy.

My neighbor Bruce stood at my back kitchen door with a peeping cardboard box, and knocked, and suddenly the time was at hand. I thanked him, took the box, and busied myself with newspaper and a heat lamp, chick starter and water mixed with a little corn syrup. I'd been preparing for this a long time.

Like, my whole life? I'm so happy the day is here.

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Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Garden update

How exactly did it happen that I let nearly two months pass without taking an updated shot of the garden? It would go like this: Stand at window. Frown. See something amiss-- bluejays in the lettuces, sun-scalded seedlings, frost-damaged asparagus-- and run downstairs immediately to do something about it. Now that we're past hard freezes, and many of the seedlings are out of infancy, I can relax a little. Another frost may come, and bugs and weeds surely will too, but for now we have a pretty garden we're eating out of, the raspberries have buds, the asparagus is growing into a forest, and all is well.

I've been filling in the beds around the bricked area with corrugated cardboard, food scraps, and hay, which has had the predictable though undesirable consequence of luring every black feathered being in Otsego county to the neighborhood. Patrick counted five crows the other day, coming home from work. Sigh. Once all the beds are full and covered, of course, the smorgasbord for crows will end, and I'll go back to feeling like Spring Street's golden girl, not Crazy Crow Lady.

The mess in the bottom left corner is a failed attempt at sheet mulching, whereby I attempted to smother a bishop's weed infestation with homasote and corrugated cardboard... and the damn stuff came charging right through. So, now I need to clear off the homasote and cardboard, and dig... a lot... and extirpate the noxious stuff. To the left of that messy area, out of view, is the shed roof. There's a hickory seedling nearby, and two currant bushes, and a highbush cranberry, and to the right of the "pathway", a syringa shrub. All around, once I evict the bishop's weed, I'm going to plant yarrow and mint and oregano and thistle, and everything that loves full sun and attracts beneficial insects. The "insectary." 

Things are really coming along out there.

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Monday, May 21, 2012

Shed on the move

We began at ten o'clock Sunday morning. We had bigger pipes, bigger chain, and an F-150. We were well-prepared, and determined to succeed. Unlike last time. Within fifteen minutes, it budged. Huzzah! We had the curious and helpful assistance of our kind and indecipherable neighbor Dick.

Slowly slowly, it creaked along the rollers. Those new four-inch pipes turned out to be the key. (Side note: anyone want to buy a lot of pock-marked 4" PVC pipe?)

Once we hit the driveway, she was a-cruisin'.

The tow chain pulled off some rotted wood trim and siding-- oops-- so she's looking a little banged up in this picture. A trip to the lumber yard is planned this week.

As we neared the final resting place, I summoned Jody from across the street, not wanting him to feel left out on all the fun. As we swung the shed around there were a few instances where the two old guys pushed on one corner while Patrick and I pushed on the other, and the shed slid like it was on skates.

Once it was over the site, we jacked it up and put the blocks in place.

And that was that. Amazing. Now to clean it out, spruce it up, and make it into a potting shed. I'm going to put a cold frame around its left side, and plant all manner of flowers and herbs around its right side, and flank its doorway with something gorgeous... maybe hollyhocks, maybe baptista, maybe ninebark... and it's going to be the downright prettiest potting shed that ever lived. Or close, at least.

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Wednesday, May 16, 2012


We have shelves! These babies have been in the plans since the beginning, and it's so very nice to see them here at last.

My dad came late last week, bringing his magical mystery van of tools and hardware and shelf-parts. I love my dad. He used to be a boy scout, and his old den leader would surely be proud today, for my father is nothing if not Prepared.

As he turned our living room into a pop-up woodshop for the afternoon, I worked on my laptop in the other room, emerging periodically to rub my hands together and cackle with glee. Looky looky looky.

This week, I'm working on painting the thing (it arrived primed), and then I will be looking forward very muchly to filling it with books and pretty things. I might even have to log some hours antiquing, with the very reasonable excuse that our annual house party is coming up and, well, we can't have an empty shelf now, can we?


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Monday, May 14, 2012

Seven women, one big city

It was a weekend full of unexpected awesome. I had no idea that the hotel would be this chic. That it came with its very own rooftop bar, and that the nightclub off the lobby would make a fine place to lounge pre-dinner. I'm rural now; it's easy to forget that things like Lucite chairs and cupcake bars and subway beatboxers exist in the normal world. I didn't expect to realize that I'd been missing New York, somehow, for the many years I've been away. 

I had no idea how much I would appreciate unplugging myself from my laptop and my blue-million ongoing house and garden projects. I sat at that rooftop bar and nursed my nine dollar beer and had absolutely nothing to do and it was wonderful.

The bride-to-be looked about as cute as I'd ever seen her, through all our ten years of knowing each other. Her face was lit with absolute bliss at every turn of the evening, because the whole entire thing was one exciting secret we'd managed to keep from her for months.

After a belly dancing class, and some time on the roof, we changed and headed out for dinner. Something about being one of seven women on an escalator...

... and in a subway car. I loved the camaraderie. I loved the outfits, and the shoes. I loved that even though some of us didn't know each other well, or even at all, the whole evening came together perfectly.

But Alexis's happy face was my favorite part of all.

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Monday, May 7, 2012

This weekend

This weekend, I...

// Watched as we tried, and failed, to budge the shed from its spot under the hickory trees.
// Learned a lot about friction, and leverage, and the breaking point of nylon rope.
// Made a mental note to keep the garage doors closed during the day, lest the swallows take up residence inside.
// Admired the chives budding out around my fruit trees, which are also budding out.
// Repaired the back fence, and made it all the way across the gap. Almost.
// Weeded with my left hand, and held the phone to my ear with my right, all through a glorious Sunday morning chat with my mom.
// Ate from the cold frame a lot.
// Used the back steps as dining room morning, noon, and night.
// Fantasized a little more intently about the future greenhouse, cold frame, and potting shed-in-the-works...

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Friday, May 4, 2012

A new vignette

I struggled with what to blog about today, and then I looked back through my posts for the past couple of weeks, and realized I was falling into an inevitable pattern: garden, garden, cat, garden, chicken, flowers, trees, garden, garden. Garden: close up; garden: from the upstairs window; garden: looking north; garden: looking west. You can tell my mind has been a bit one-track lately. The waffle-stomped clods of garden dirt on the dining room floor tell the same story. 

And so, instead of rushing outside to take more pictures of garden, flowers, and chicken, I photographed this little vignette I put together a few weeks back. I'd stepped into an antiques store a few days prior, and skipped out with the white rectangular planter and the little metal dish, and when I decided I was tired of my aqua McCoy planters-- which had sat atop the Hoosier cabinet since pre-move-in-- I gave my new friends a spot in the sun, alongside the seltzer bottle, pitcher, and basket I've owned for some time. The McCoy collection moved into the dining room.

This coming week will be a busy one for me: I'm going to stuff all my work into four days, before waking up Friday morning to drive to the city, where, on Saturday, seven women will converge for a rip-roaring bachelorette party. The Museum of Natural History, and also a belly-dancing class, are planned. There's also a pot-luck to cook for, and our dogged siding-removal project, which is proceeding in earnest. I'm not sure how often I'll be able to check in here, but I will do my level best. Expect more garden pictures.

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Wednesday, May 2, 2012

May Day evening

In quiet moments, I can feel myself being pulled into May. It's a heady green siren song: month of lilacs and last frost, of tomato plants in the ground and the first warm thunderstorm. On the 16th, we celebrate exactly a year as Gilbertsvillians. Last year, May was such a blur of unpacking and hauling and digging and scrubbing and schlepping, I think it passed me over completely without a single quiet moment.

Not so, this year. The early spring means I've already accomplished so much of what was on my bucket list for the whole summer. The shrubs are planted. The garden is begun. That means it's ok to sit on the back steps with a cup of tea for an hour before I start my writing day; it's ok to stroll around the yard with Pete and Diesel, to take pleasure in all the little sounds and smells and sights of being in this place in this season.

We visit the blueberry bushes, which are budding. We visit the apple and cherry trees, which are leafing out. The hard work of last season is there in the details, and now I have the time to see them and be content.

Pete meanders over to say hi to Genevieve, who puffs herself out and charges the fence, intimidating as any eighth grade quarterback. Pete gallops off. There is still a lot ahead in this heady year: planting an "insectory" garden between the driveway and the vegetable garden, to bring beneficial insects in to carry off my cabbage loopers. Planting comfrey and daffodils and more chives and lupines in the orchard, which will, in theory, work together in perfect harmony with the apple trees, and cut down on the need to mow. But right now, I'm most looking forward to our four little yellow puffballs, slated to arrive about mid-month. Chicks! 

Oh, May. Oh good month. 

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