Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Holiday Weekend Fun

Work, work, work--that was our fun. And it was fun. Or it felt good anyway. It made the reward beers at the end of the day taste great.

John got the garden DONE! No pictures of that here. I'd like it to grow in a bit first. You've all seen it in raw form plenty of times so I won't regale you with yet another picture of a bed of dirt and tell you that seeds are in it.

While John was busy with the garden and a whole lot of other things, I started on the Porch Project.
This is the side porch that will become a screened-in porch very soon. The first step was to clean out all the bittersweet vines that John had stored there. Have you ever tried picking up more than one long, twisty vine at a time? Yeah, it doesn't really work that way. One at a time, steady as she goes.

Next step was to fetch the old floorboards from John's workshop that were stored in our old barn. Then, cut them into 130 pieces, 22 inches long. Yay! I love a challenge!

Only ten more piles to go!
Next step was to store those boards on the porch so they don't get wet in the rain that the computer says we are getting, but that never seems to come.
And now I wait until the carpentry boss is available to help me use the brand new nail gun to install the boards around the bottom of the porch. I think it is going to be a noisy piece of equipment that will make me feel p o w e r f u l.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Lavender (salts) and Lace (doilies)

My mother-in-law, Mildred Menkedick, has given me a lot of pretty, useful things over the years. She knows that I like the old stuff and she hates to throw things out, so we make a good pair. Years ago, she gave me a mother-lode of hand embroidered linen dresser scarves and a passel of handmade doilies. I've never counted them, but I'd say there are twenty-five or more of these beautiful things.
A small sampling in their un-ironed glory:

I have used them for a variety of purposes over the years--I hung some dresser scarves over the screen doors of a pie safe in our old house--I scattered a bunch of the doilies down the middle of the dining table one year as a runner--and today I solved some curtain issues with them. I slung some short scarves over the rod between two curtain panels in the living room, and I made a weird combo that seems to work in the downstairs bathroom.
The side panels are made from leftover eyelet and they push aside to let light in.

When we were creating this house in our heads, I wanted a big window near the bathtub so that I could look out at a beautiful scene whilst relaxing in lavender salts. Well, I got the tub, I got the window, but the scene turns out to include the cars parked on the gravel in front of the wood pile and the bikes and some leftover gutter piping. Hmmm. Not exactly the scene I had in mind. Truly, I don't take baths in the middle of the day anyway, so what I really needed was an inspirational curtain to keep the moths and the owls from looking in at night. And that's what I got.

I love to think of the women who made these items, my "grandmother-in-law," and John's aunties looking at me from wherever they might be and feeling satisfied, maybe, that they are still serving a pretty purpose. Unless, of course, they disapprove of my unorthodox ways, in which case I guess I'll hear about it later. : )

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Well, dang

Something is in the air, or the teeth as it were. Poor Alice at Living the Rural Dream is temporarily grounded from her travels due to dental woes, and my friend Karen who was the "dear old friend" I mentioned in the last post never made it to visit me in Columbus due to...you guessed it, a bad tooth! I really missed seeing Karen, but I made hay in the city while I could, visiting my cute little grandbabies and having that cappuccino with my funny, sweet son. And yes, I made it to a thrift store and scored a couple of summer shirts, the best being an Ann Taylor Loft thingy for a buck fifty. I'll be fancy on the porch this summer after the work is all done for the day : )

Big strong husband has been working hard on the garden.
I helped him put the wire fence up before I left. Ain't no deer getting in our garden, man. The thing is over my head. We could only get it about six inches into the ground due to the hardness of the clay. At first I had wanted it sunk about a foot. The best laid plans, though, change when you hit the stupendous clay base around here. It makes you say, "Aw, &^*k it! That's good enough!" If any groundhogs make a go for it, I'll just shoot 'em. (only kidding.) Maggie at Mamma What The might be shaking her head at the relative permanence of the fence, since she advised me otherwise. However, I have felt it smart to let John do what he wants with this project, given that he's doing it. Not to mention that I'm kind of losing confidence that I will be able to grow much of anything around here except my pampered house plants. I planted up some nice containers last week with annuals that I bought from the FPC plant sale and do you know what? They FROZE in the FROST we had out here last week.

You would think I would know by now that it is a good ten degrees cooler out here in the country than it is in the city. I have felt the truth of it many times. Even the hottest summer days cool off to the point where you want a long sleeve blouse maybe to cover your arms if sitting on the porch after the sun's gone down. I guess I was just feeling entitled to frost-free nights given that we passed the Mother's Day mark. And if I had planted those pots in the city, I bet the coleus would still be perky and the tomato plants a beautiful dark green. Alas, they are looking pretty bad right now. Several tomato plants are goners. I pinched back the coleus and I think they might rally.

Anyway. I'm going to direct-seed most of the things I want to grow in the garden this year, simply because if I bought everything in plant form I would have to take out a small loan, and we all know how that's going these days. I sure hope it works. Next year, when I am sure that the garden is there, I can start the seeds early. This year, it's a wing and a prayer. Keeps life exciting, huh?

In the meantime, check out the Japanese iris (planted by the previous owner, and they need to be thinned) growing next to the old red barn. The color combination knocks me out. You can't get that red from a paint can. And the purple, well...

Monday, May 18, 2009

Of Misty Mornings & Pizzas Unique

So, I'm posting once a week these days. Is that so bad? Does that make me a horrible blogger? Don't hate me because I'm gestating. Gestating what, you ask? I don't know. I'm di-gesting pizza...
John and I work pretty much non-stop these days. It's fun and we like it, but around 6:00 p.m. it's John who always asks, "What were you thinking of making for dinner?" And I'm like, Dude, I don't know. What were you thinking of making? Of course, I am not as sarcastic on the outside as I am on the inside, so what I say out loud is: "Oh, gosh (*sigh), I dunno." And then we go about fending for ourselves in the kitchen, bumping into each other as we travel the triangle--refrigerator, sink, stove.

While John is a good cook when he wants to be, he is a master at what he calls "slop." It is bachelor food to the extreme. It always involves cream of mushroom soup, and usually includes lima beans and corn, though you can also substitute frozen spinach. Add to that mixture some sort of starch (oh, wait a minute, we already have starch...) like spaghetti or rice or whatever is leftover in the fridge. Now, throw in some protein for good measure, canned tuna will do nicely. Mix it all up and cook it until hot. Pour it on a plate and put copious amounts of pepper on it, along with some hot sauce, and Bon Appetit!

John made some slop for himself last night while I made the little Boboli pizza you see above. Look closely and you'll see that I stole some of his lima bean and corn mixture as a topping. Yes, folks, I've hit upon a new sensation: Succotash Pizza. I added sliced red onion and topped it with dilled Havarti and provolone cheese. I washed down with some cheap Merlot left over from John's buddies who visited the cabin last week and it was dee-licious!

Now, I can imagine that you can imagine why I didn't want any of John's slop. But, why, you might be asking, did John not opt for one of my little pizza sensations? Well, he says that pizza really does him in on the blood sugar reading he has to take every morning to track his diabetes. I've seen it happen enough times to believe him. What I can't believe is that his slop dinner doesn't do the same. Magically, it seems to agree with him. Oh well. More pizza for me.

I leave today for the big city (or, Columbus). I'm meeting a dear friend to spend a few days drinking cappuccinos and catching up. I'm going to see if I can hit a few thrift stores while there. I'll dutifully report any finds. Wish me luck!

Here is a picture of my "Dark and dusty, painted on the sky/ Misty taste of moonshine/ Teardrops in my eye" moment this morning upon awakening. (disregard the blob of whatever is in my camera and shows up on the upper left corner of all my sky pictures)

I'm tucking it in my mind's pocket (which is deep and has some lint) so I can pull it out and look at it when I wake up tomorrow in the shuttered bedroom of the apartment.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

We're in the Month of Bliss

The Ecological Calendar calls the three month spread of April, May and June Trill, Bliss and Bloom.

I think mid-May might be my favorite time of year. Even though I could go for higher highs temperature-wise, the freshness and tidiness of new green growth is so...hopeful, to use a cliche. Everything seems manageable in terms of growth, as if everything will stay petite and contained and lovely all year. It is a delicate tasting on the tip of the tongue--not the voracious gobbling of huge summer mouthfuls. The woods are exquisite. The leaves are all out, but still small, allowing a generous filtering of light to the forest floor where the undergrowth is demure. The meadows are green, grasses not yet gone to seed as they do surprisingly early in June. When the breeze blows, a tide of dark green billows across the hill. It is simply lovely and one is right and lucky to be outside when it happens, holding on to her hat with one hand and a camera, useless to capture the scene, in the other.

We are working outside, cutting up dead locust trees in the woods to use as fence posts, planting containers, painting windows (with the windows open) and staking and re-staking the horse barn site.

A twig-mimic caterpillar crawled up my arm in the woods. John flushed a field sparrow off its precariously placed nest in the grass. I walked the lower woods trail and heard and saw so many different birds busy with their lives. I slipped into "don't know mind" and enjoyed it all without any striving to name it.

The month of Bliss indeed.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Look at That Man Go

Ain't he somethin?

That was some hard packed clay soil, people. It is now ready for some fine tilling with the Troy-built, which, theoretically I should be able to handle.

I'm going to keep that husband of mine around, though. He is a super-nice guy and I like him.