Tuesday, April 8, 2014

We had another beautiful day, though not so warm that I could go shirtless.  Not that I would anyway.  We do have neighbors.  But I actually kept on my t-shirt AND my sweatshirt; that's what I meant by not being able to go shirtless.  I couldn't go sweat-shirtless.

I had all sorts of work to do for my job, but today it was work I could do at home, so I did a lot of that, but then I messed around a little bit outside as well.  I worked on cleaning some of the beds up.  Of course, I chose one of the windiest days to do it, but no matter: I still took about four loads of leaves and general garden deadness to the compost pile. I also gave myself a wonderful opportunity for problem solving.  We have a heavy rubber-like liner for the bed of the Gator.  Well, today I found out that it will eventually slide right on out of the back if you try to raise the bed up to dump weeds.  If I had not been alone, I would have had someone take pictures of me trying to wrestle that bad boy back into the back of the Gator.  But then, if I had not been alone, I would have had someone to help me get it back into the bed.  Which I did not, and I did not.  Not for not trying, though.  I even tried some elaborate set-up with a twine rope, but it didn't work.  No matter.  Hubby will be home from hunting tomorrow night, and he can either get it himself or help me get it.  (It's heavy, but not that heavy.  It's too wide, so it's just awkward enough that I just couldn't get it hoisted back in by myself.)  I should have taken pictures, but I didn't.  It's still resting on the compost pile.

I have mounds of sedum in a few different places, and I found some more coming up in one of the beds.  Poor stuff … it was trying to break through a pile of leaves that had blown in and compacted around the parent plant through the fall and winter.  This is the bed that I did most of the clean-up on today because I needed to plant some daffodils.

Here's a zoomed out view so you can see the mess I let build up around the plant:

That wee bit in the middle right side of this picture is what is in the picture above it.

So I raked bunches of compost fuel, as I like to call garden refuse, and this is what this bed ended up looking like. You can see where I've already planted a few daffodils (three).

Okay, three down, and 48 to go!  The three are "Summer Cheer" from Michigan Bulb and the rest of them are Professor Einstein and Double Mix, just bags I'd picked up last fall, maybe at Lowe's.  Anyway, it should end up looking pretty cheerful in a few weeks.  I'm keeping my fingers crossed!

And the after picture doesn't look much different, of course.  Not yet. Just wait til those bad boys come up and bloom.  I tried the scatter method, where you toss out the bulbs and plant them where they land.  It's supposed to look more natural.  From what my 'scattering' results looked like, there's nothing natural at all about my ability to toss bulbs.  Some of them even flew out of the bed.  I did try to make sure there was basically a row of bulbs at the front of the little retaining wall, just to satisfy my husband's need for order.  The rest is chaos, which is reflective of me.  

The biggest problem I have with planting bulbs that bloom in spring is that I don't like the foliage hanging around later in the season, and it's not good to cut it off, since it feeds the bulbs.  But last year I had this area planted with some tall phlox in back and mounds of wave petunias rambling all over the rest of the area.  I think if I do the same thing this year, the spent daffodil foliage will disappear into the petunias.

Even though it doesn't look like I got a lot done, I consider getting 51 bulbs planted quite an accomplishment.  I do tend to try to do too much gardening at once, so I'm going to set a goal for myself this spring and summer of not trying to get too much done each day.  That's right.  My goal is to be lazier than usual.  Think I'll go stretch out on the couch.

Monday, April 7, 2014

New Beginnings!

Okay, this is the first official post of my new blog, and I'm not sure where to start. Maybe I should have paid closer attention to other blogs to see how the 'real people' have done it.  Maybe, as a former English teacher, I should write it as a five paragraph essay, or at least outline what my blog will be about.  But then, if I were to do that, I would not have allowed myself to end the previous sentence with a preposition, nor would I have begun this one with a coordinating conjunction.  Perhaps I should just explain what I intend to include in my blog postings.  Wouldn't that limit me, though?  Can't have that.

I can start, though.  I can explain why the heck I'm doing this and post some photos.

A few years ago, I had the privilege of organizing the 2011 Illinois Reading Council Conference.  As an attempt to promote the conference, I set the goal for myself of reading every book written by every author I'd invited to speak.  That was before I realized how many books Jane Yolen had actually written.  Big mistake.  But it was fun trying.  I kept a blog as part of the attempt at promotion and had a really good time writing the posts.  Once the conference as over, though, there was no more real need for the blog.

Every spring or summer since that time, it strikes me that I should begin another blog, primarily about gardening.  Then I remember that I'm really bad at gardening, even though it's so enjoyable.  So I think maybe I should continue to write about the books I read.  That just doesn't seem like enough, and it takes me a long time to read a book, because even though I read every night, I don't have a lot of time.  I also want to share favorite recipes.  And junk I make.  And junk I buy.  No special reason: just a different way to record my life, I guess, for the time when I probably won't remember who I am.  Maybe at that point someone will read my blog posts back to me and catch a glint of recognition in my wizened, old eye.  Maybe I'll do this so that some young whippersnapper in the future can have something to feel good about.  I'll go with that.

Did I also mention that I don't take very good photos but I'm going to sprinkle them liberally throughout this blog anyway?  Yup.

Here's one I took the other day to send to my husband's cousin, just to show him what I was doing at the time:

The patio, some wine, and a great book.  That's what I was trying to show him.  The broken down, wooden baby chair just happened to be in the way, and I didn't want to take the time to move it.  The baby chair spent the winter on the patio table - I can't remember why, but I think it had something to do with getting it out of the garden and planning on putting it further away later, like in the shed or some place.  Didn't happen, did it?  We had a rough winter, and I'm a weakling who just couldn't force herself to take care of that bit of business.  t needed something to practice on with vice clamps and wood glue, so there you go!  A new spring project.

The old, wooden baby chair actually gets positioned in the Grandma Garden in the summer, next to some Baby's Breath plants.  Squirrels love to play on it, too.

We planted the Grandma Garden several years ago (as in maybe ten?) because we were able to dig up some of the original lilies, irises, and peonies from my husband's grandmother's house.  I decided it might be a cool idea to plant things there that would have been growing in old fashioned gardens that our grandmothers might have had.  Last year I moved the garden to a sunnier spot and added several more plants, including tall phlox, cannas, roses, daisies, and something else that I can't remember at the moment.  I sure hope it comes back up this summer so I can figure it out!

Here are some pictures of what was peeking up last weekend:


One of the sedums, I think, and a reminder of why I should really clean up the garden beds in the fall.  What a mess!

Something we dug up in the timber and transplanted - no clue what it is!

One more thing before I close out this first posting.  Last week I finished reading an amazing book that had me in stitches:  Let's Pretend This Never Happened, by the Bloggess Jenny Lawson.  If you have a warm spot in your heart for unusual upbringings and can at least snicker inwardly when you read the word 'vagina,' this book is for you.
 If, on the other hand, you cringe when you read the word 'vagina' and try not to look directly at it, forget it.  Well, no, maybe you really should read this book.  It might loosen you up.  (But it does have a lot of the f-word in it, so bypass it if that offends you.)  Seriously, I finished reading it right before we made our annual fifteen-minute trek to the local Lake Fork Community Sale for a diet breakfast of pancakes and sausage or biscuits and gravy, and I found myself poking around in piles and on the hay rack wagons laden with so much detritus of people's lives.  What was I looking for, and how was it related to that book?  Taxidermy.  Stuffed lizards wearing monkey suits.  Chickens.  Creepy rabbits.  Anything formerly living and preserved for eternity.  Read the book.  You'll understand.

So here's to the 'new beginning' that is this blog and some of the new beginnings coming up outside, and to a new book for you to read!