Category Archives: Gardening



It is another gorgeous evening.  The sun has set and the temperature is warm and pleasant.  The mourning doves are making their last song of the day and the frogs have picked up the chorus.  The other night, I saw my first bat of the season.  That was wonderful.  The barn swallows haven’t yet returned.  While I am concerned about that, I am still hopeful.  Our official “last average frost” date is May 7th.  Maybe the swallows know that the bugs aren’t really out yet.  I am inclined to trust them and have some faith.

The semester is, thankfully, wrapping up.  As usual, it is hard to see the end of the term.  So many students make the choice between school and their jobs.  Their jobs always win.  School rarely does.  As a result, school performance is impacted.  You can’t earn an A when you don’t turn in assignments, come to class, study or take exams.  It is grueling to witness, but I am not the type of instructor that calls the student on the phone or drops by their home to find out why they didn’t come to class.  I accept that they are adults and let them make their choices, however lamentable those decisions turn out to be.

In the past few days, Philip and I have been busy outside.  We have started the foundation for a stick house beneath the white pines.  It is round and, as it turns out, accommodates the new teepee that Grandma E. sent today.  Nearby, we began digging the outline for the sunflower house.  I did a quick inventory and have decided that we could use more sunflower seeds, but we will do our best.  Around the magnolia, we tilled a large circle.  We are going to make plantings as if it’s a big clock.  I was thinking of placing tomatoes at the 3, 6, 9 and 12 positions.  We have started to transplant the daylily plants from the back of the house to the front.  The part of the area north of the mailbox has been completed; the area south of the mailbox still needs to be done.  We also transplanted several comfrey plants and situated them beneath the fruit trees.  It will help them thrive.  Mother’s Day is this Sunday and I am hoping for a non-rainy day.  A cloudy day is not a problem–in fact, it would be preferable–since I intend to have 2 helpers with me for the day getting the yard all arranged, planted and organized.  It is a very big hope.

The kitchen is a tad messy and there are things to do.  I will sign off now and then attempt to take care of them.

Have a good night.


Fools Check In


Fools Check In

A mower.
We had decided on a mower.
Push or riding?
Are you kidding?
Definitely riding.

Which one to get?

Big mower at fancy shop
With aloof sales guy:
5-year warranty
Bagger included.
Will bring it to your house
All repairs done at the shop.

Not as big mower at rough-and-tumble shop
With folksy sales guy:
5-year, 3-year, 1-year warranty
You drive it home.
You break it,
Good luck fixing it.

$500 is a lot of money.
$500 is a lot of tree seedlings and berry bushes.
Think of the berry bushes…mmmmm

SOLD to the folksy guy
With peanut shells in his boot treads.

P.S.  The bagger is extra.  About $500.

Frogs, Garden Updates & Michael Pollan


Lots of exciting things happening outside.  It seems they have kept me from my blog.

First piece of exciting news:

Last week, I heard the song of the frog chorus!  It was still cold outside.  Philip and I were bundled up in coats and hats and warm boots.  But, we still heard them.  Later, we went on a walk in our neighbor’s wetland area to try to see some.  But, they are well hidden and we didn’t want to be too disruptive.

Second piece of exciting news:

Some onion seedlings are in the ground and we just planted the broccoli seedlings, too!  Amazingly, the beets are sprouting despite a shocking lack of rain (though I did see that there is some in the forecast for the weekend.)

Third piece of exciting news:

The daffodil greens are poking out and we may see some lovely yellow heads soon!

Many things still to accomplish:

– Finish pruning (Here’s something I just learned tonight: don’t prune peaches until well after their sap has started to flow.  Also, when you prune apple trees, make sure the space between your branches is big enough to accommodate a robin soaring through.)

– Finish combining the compost piles

– Finish cleaning out the dead plants from last fall

– Till areas for Philip’s play garden and, of course, the back garden

Reading Michael Pollan’s The Botany of Desire.  Here are some things I didn’t know before:

– If you plant apple seeds, the sprouted seed will not grow into a plant like its parent.  It will become something else entirely.  So will all of its siblings.  FASCINATING!

– Getting a prize apple out of a John Chapman apple tree was like winning the lottery or striking oil for pioneer families.

– There was a tulip craze in Holland from 1634 to 1637 (called Tulipmania) that, in my mind, resembled the and housing market bubbles.

I have just started his section on marijuana.  So far, it’s too early to tell you much.  Will share other tidbits as I discover them.

Have a good evening!

Dirt under nails


The season of dirt under nails has begun.
Next up: green stains on the skin,
Lashed fingers from grasses.

Time to excavate the garden clothes
From the heap in the closet
And stow them by the muck boots.

Winter coats need washing.
The fleece will stay around
Busy spring, both inside the house and out.

Daffodils are on their way
The daylilies and irises, too.
Tulips, I hope, will surprise me soon.

The onions are sprouting
And getting prepared
To settle in and swell.

The chard of many colors
Will soon be tossed in the soil
And I wish it well.

An overflowing, edible yard.
It’s my dream from year to year.
Maybe 2014 will be the time for lots of harvest cheer!

(Writer’s note: it’s a draft!  Sorry!)

Causes to celebrate


Many of today’s events are cause for celebration (for me, anyway).

1) Philip had a great (he listened, had fun) dance class.

2) We picked up 47 books at the local library and found out that Mo Willems has a book out (That is Not a Good Idea) that we didn’t know existed.  The awesome librarian who helped us borrow our stack of books put it on hold for us.  So nice!

3) We dug in the raised beds and planted 3 of them with the following:

Nantes carrots

Cincinnati Market Radishes, Plum Purple Radishes

Bok Choy Tatsoi

Bloomsdale Spinach

I was reminded today how much I love raised beds.  It is wonderful to be able to stick these in the soil and wait for them to grow while the rest of the ground is still working on thawing.

4) Philip and I spent the afternoon in the garden and I am looking forward to spending even more time weeding and clearing out the detritus from the winter tomorrow afternoon.  The forecast looks promising (read: WARM WEATHER!).

5) Even though the dog pooped on the floor, he pooped on a rug that was able to be picked up and the poop just plopped into the toilet, expediting the cleaning process.  Hey, I know, not a commonly listed reason to smile, but I am going to embrace the silver lining here.  He’s an older dog; I am more comfortable being sympathetic than angry.

6) Received a letter about an application I had submitted a while ago; it was not a rejection (though it was a formality, i.e., “your application is incomplete,” they could have just rejected me because of my incomplete application, so…I’m going to call it a win).

Other highlights from the past week:

  • Finished Sedaris’ Let’s Explore Diabetes with Owls.  Enjoyed it.  If you are interested in some relatively light reading, I recommend it.  Some of his monologues, which are integrated among the essays, may throw you off a bit because he is not writing as himself, but as characters he’s created.  They are not particularly light-hearted, just so you know.
  • Finished Jonathan Gottschall’s The Storytelling Animal.  We loved it.  Even if you only have a small amount of time to read, pick up this book.  It helps reassure people who daydream (it’s normal) and reminds us that we are all trying to be the protagonist in our own life stories (so, yeah, sometimes, our view of our lives is a bit skewed in that direction).  Lots of amusing commentary and food for thought.  Well worth the read.
  • Started reading John Paul Rathbone’s The Sugar King of Havana: The Rise and Fall of Julio Lobo, Cuba’s Last Tycoon.  So far, I am learning a lot and the writing is approachable.  Will keep you posted on progress.

It’s getting late.  Time to call it a night.

Here’s hoping your Saturday gives you causes for celebration, too.  Good night.

Gulliver’s Travels


Philip and I are reading, bit by bit, Gulliver’s Travels by Jonathan Swift.  It is slow going.  Even though there is something inherently exciting about an average man landing on an island of little people and being restrained by them, the narrative gets a bit choppy when Mom (that’s me) gets to stop every few words and define the new word that’s been introduced.  Today, as we moved through chapter 2, here are a few I tried to explain as we read during lunch:

beeves: “that means cattle for beef”
fobs: “those are tiny pockets” (incidentally, I also learned that a fob can be a chain for a pocket watch.)
palisadoes: “that means…well, I don’t know what it means, but we’ll look it up” (turns out it means “palisade,” or high fences to protect an area)
impudence: “that means being kind of rude”
clemency: “or being kind to people that aren’t nice to you instead of punishing them or getting mad at them”
prodigious: “really big”
dispatched: “get rid of, like a villain or an enemy”
demesne: “someone’s area or territory”

I am considering NOT explaining the words until he asks, “what does ______ mean?”  But, the linguaphile in me may not be able to resist! We shall see.

Seedlings are all doing well.  The forecast says SNOW tomorrow, so I don’t think I will be out there planting anything hardy in the next day or so.  Will just have to wait until the weekend.  Patience.  Must have patience.

…I will add “have patience” to the list of ways to help change the world and then sign off.  Good night!

Beautiful day


This afternoon, Philip and I excavated a T. Rex dinosaur from a kit his grandma had sent him while enjoying the sunshine outside on our back porch.  The chisel in the kit and the other tool with the curved rubbery tip broke while we were hacking away at the material.  So, I pulled a hoof pick from the barn and it worked just fine.  Eventually, we eschewed all scientific caution and care and began dropping the clay brick of goodies on the concrete.  Worked like a charm.  After about twenty minutes with that approach, we were ready to assemble our dinosaur.  It led to Philip telling “The Amazing Dinosaur” story (his title) to me as he played.  It involved, among other things, a “rampaging robot,” “big rocks,” a “rocketship spaceship” and “a water slide.”  Fine entertainment.

After Bruce returned home from work, I went for a 30-minute run.  I admit that I could not have done much more.  I will need to work hard to regain my former fitness.  It is slow going so far.

Garden projects are underway.  Here are some tips in case you aren’t sure what to do this time of year:

1) Haul away all the detritus (dead leaves, grasses, etc.) and put the mounds/handfuls/cart fulls in your compost pile.

2) Turn over your compost pile if you’re able.  It may still be frozen.  If you don’t have a compost pile, pick a spot that’s in the shade and likely to be damp and build one.

3) Start setting up fencing for your beans, peas and squash if you’re planting any of those.

4) Plot out your garden(s) to determine where you will plant what.  Remember to rotate!

5) Clean out your old beds and, if you used containers, dump the dirt from those into your compost pile, too.  It’s important to freshen things up each year.

Here’s my personal favorite.  When you’re just feeling tired and the sun is just right, close your eyes, tilt your head back and take a deep breath.  Then, smile.  It’s a beautiful day.