Sunday, March 29, 2009


Well, at least it's trying to spring. Today was sunny and warm-ish so I began to attack the (soon to be) garden plot in earnest. I was advised to use a pitchfork to uproot all the grass and weeds and to turn over all the soil in the garden space. Rototiller will simply cut all the grass and weed roots into tiny pieces so they can make many many more plants. So today I bought a pitchfork and did it American Gothic style. This worked much better than the shovel - hard work but not insurmountable. I have dug up about 1' perimeter around the whole garden. My neighbor will be coming over to work on it with me tomorrow, weather permitting. I will go and get some kind of plastic or wood, a good 8" tall, to edge the garden and thereby prevent grass from encroaching.

All this time, my downstairs room has been mostly unused. This weekend I decided to actually do something with it. I cleared out all the stuff I had been storing in there, cleaned the baseboards, windowsills, and ceiling (yuck), and patched all the little holes in the wall. The "contractor beige" had to go as well. It doesn't bother me as much in the larger rooms but in the small rooms that color is pretty icky and oppressive. So, today I primed the room. Tomorrow I will go and pick out paint - some shade of light blue. The top six choices (all Sherwin Williams): Blissful Blue, Raindrop, Meander Blue, Respite, Cay, and Stream. Other than a lamp, a small table, and some large pillows to sit on, I do not want any permanent furniture in there. I will probably use it as some kind of multi purpose room: for dancing, yoga, meditation, studio photo work, etc. so it does not make sense to have a ton of stuff in there. When we have guests it will be our guest room, but since we hardly ever have guests it seems silly to have a bed in there all the time.

I am excited to have a pretty blue room! I am looking forward to decorating it with the remainder of my glass dangly balls, some big blue pillows, and cool art. I have this really old window that I got as salvage from an old barn. It's been sitting, unused, for almost 2 years. I want to clean it up a bit and maybe print some photos onto acetate and lay them over the glass. I am reluctant to do much to change the appearance of the windowframe - it is pretty cool as it is - but I like the idea of creating little scenes through the actual windows.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

The Great Outdoors

aka our yard.

Mary Jo and I looked around the yard to figure out what plants live here, what kind of care they need, and what other plants or landscapey goodness might be wanted. We have a couple of small rosebushes, which we cut back pretty severely. The one along the south fence by the sidewalk looks like it might thrive; the one right by the house looks pretty dead. We shall see if anything sprouts from either of them. The camellia on the south side of the house is blooming! Some of the first blooms were somewhat damaged from the snow, but still pretty. The camellia on the west side near the living room window has big fat buds and just a few blossoms. We cut the hydrangea way back. MJ assures me that all plants love to be pruned and are much bushier and happier when vigorously cut, preferably after the bloom and preferably at the notches or bud points. She went to town on the big suckers coming out of all of our trees. Suckers = branches or new trees growing from the base of a tree. There are tons of bulbs coming up all over the place, mostly near the hydrangea and all along the south fence. There are several small patches of crocuses (croci?) which are cheery and lovely.

The vegetable garden will be a 10 x 10' plot against the back wall of our property, positioned so that it should get direct sunlight from mid-day onward. I started to dig there and oh my God do I have my work cut out for me! There's all this long grass, and apparently I may need a thatch rake to clear it out. That may make digging somewhat easier but really, digging up all those roots is no picnic either. I may start referring to the garden as the Gulag. The dirt looks mostly pretty good - rich and dark and damp and filled with worms. It's kind of rocky about a foot or two from the wall. I might have to plant something there that grows OK in poor soil. I will be getting some soil for the garden and maybe making a raised bed if time, energy and money permit. Every so often when I am driving out in the country I see these hand lettered signs by the side of the road offering Free Dirt. This could be a good option but I would have to make sure that the dirt was actually appropriate for gardening - not sandy, not contaminated or filled with weird plant roots and stuff.

Today I potted a couple of my houseplants - the spider plant that Jenna gave me and the aloe I bought last week. I also planted some mint and basil seeds in my other two pots. I saved loads of those small plastic plant containers that last year's snapdragons came in and will use them to start green onions, Cosmos, some more basil, and last years snapdragons' seeds. I am going to try one basil plant in the house and try a few out in the garden. The plants are pretty, and I got a variety that is supposed to be good for making pesto. Once I actually have a garden bed and the weather is a little warmer I will plant the rest of the seeds: lettuce, zucchini, cucumber, pole beans and cilantro - and will plant the green onion and the basil starts.

The only other significant garden thing I will take on this year is to make something out of the north front lawn, to the left of the walkway as you are walking up to the house. The lawn there is particularly mangy and unhappy. I might get some fill dirt to fill in the holes in the lawn, and then do the upper portion with wildflower seeds and the lower portion with grass seed. If I can get a bunch of Free Dirt I might spread it all over the rest of the lawn to fill in holes and re-seed the entire lawn. Also, I want to do something nice with the area between and around the three trees on the north lawn. It would be kind of cool to make it its own separate area and cultivate moss all over the ground with little stepping stones, or maybe cultivate some other kind of ground cover, and get a nice sitting stone so you can lean against a tree and read when the weather's nice. Or, alternately, I might just use mulch.

As I write this I realize what a large and potentially time consuming project this yard might prove to be, not to mention mowing the lawn which is a whole other ongoing thing! hmmmm. Now that it's daylight savings time (woohoo!) I can spend some time digging in the Gulag Garden every day after work. Hopefully by the time I am ready to plant seeds I will have the damn thing ready for them.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Nueva Lox

M & P Bultman came to down last weekend, and it was project time!

MommaJo and Juno spent time planning and scheming on garden ideas, and trimming back our wild winter foliage. It will be interesting to see how things sprout and spring forth as they are showing signs of getting ready to do. Soon now. . . a few weeks even, and that beautiful explody spring feeling will be everywhere even if its still grey and rainy and a trifle dismal for us humans. The leaves love the lushness.

Doc BeBop dusted off the pencil and the chisel and went to town helping me with doors and locks. We cut out an old door frame and came up lucky with a pre-hung steel door just barely fitting in our cinderblock basement opening. The old basement door got repurposed as an insulating block twixt kitchen and mudroom, and the external side door got a matching lock from the set as well.

After a few more trips to the hardware store than initially intended we wrapped things up with successes on all fronts. I have a few i's to dot and t's to cross to finish up
but all in all the project went well. A few more masonry bits were melted to slag than probably needed to be, but it was a learning process.

I got a sawzall and a sweet set of spade bits in the process so the arsenal grows as a result.