Category Archives: around the house

around the house gardening

Flowers, wild and tame

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Not sure if I’ve ever mentioned my shady side yard before. I had it mulched a few years ago when it became obvious that the lawn would never fill in–too much shade from the ash and spruce and oak. The mulching proved expensive enough, but the cost of letting the landscaper fill in the area with plants was prohibitive, so I decided to do the best I could with what I had. I have added a couple of white hydrangeas; one is an Annabelle, but I’ve forgotten what the other is (ed. it’s a Limelight). Lots of hosta. Ferns and wild ginger donated by a friend​.

I’ve also let some native wildflowers encroach. Wild violet have started showing up along the edges. Wood anemones:

wood anemones

wood anemones



I’ve spotted trillium leaves, but no flowers. I hope they make it. I’ll welcome either purple or white, but I’ve seen the purple variety in the nearby woods and hope that’s what’s trying to grow.

Smooth Solomon’s seal have pretty much taken over the area around the gutter outlet. A member of the lily family. I used to pull them out every spring until I realized that 1) they were pretty, 2) they hid the gutter outlet, 3) they were free and 4) thriving.  So I let them go, and they have spread over the last two years:

Smooth Solomon's seal

Smooth Solomon’s seal

I added some non-natives as well. The astilbes are coming up gangbusters, but have yet to bloom. I also planted a couple of origami columbine**. The blue one didn’t survive the winter, but the red one did, and has put forth several blooms:

Origami columbine

Origami columbine

It’s nice to see a spot of color against all the green and white.

There’s still a large area of blank waiting to be filled in. I will probably stick with hosta, maybe a dozen or so planted in a ring. Another hydrangea in the middle? I will also let the wildflowers spread. They bring the woods close to the house.

**columbine are apparently native, but these are a hybrid variety

around the house gardening seasons

Yes, we have no tomatoes

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There will be no raised bed garden this summer.

I first installed it back in 2009. The first few tomato crops were incredible–I had 6-7 plants, and spent most every weekend from early August through early fall making marinara or tomato casserole or salads with fresh basil (I grew that, too). When the chill weather came, I picked the greenies and stuck them in paper bags to ripen, and had fresh tomatoes into December.

I added compost to the soil and added fresh soil every so often, but for whatever reason–weather, poor choice in plants–the harvests fell off. Last summer’s was the worst–it was so cool that even the farmstands struggled. I managed a couple handfuls of cherry tomatoes and some mesclun. Part of me missed the buckets and buckets of harvest, but part of me didn’t care. It had stopped being fun.

I gave the plastic framing to the chimney repair guy, who had a friend who was planning a raised bed garden. That left the dirt, two squared-off mounds of tightly-packed topsoil. Today, I shoveled it into the wheelbarrow and dumped it around the plants near the deck. Over the next few weeks or months or however long it takes, I’ll trim the area with the edger and add more soil and mulch until it looks neat and proper. I have spirea and hibiscus growing there now, and would like to add a few more things. Some of the daffodils in the front yard are putting forth nothing but greenery, which means the bulbs have birthed bulblets that are sucking away the strength; I’ll separate those and stick some near the deck. Look for some shorter shrubs that flower. I am thinking about moving the birdbath garden to the sideyard outside the fence given that the seed that falls to the ground has attracted skunk for the last few years and Gaby has never met a skunk that she didn’t want to harass, the results of which you can guess. If I do that, I can move the astilbes that are growing there now to new homes near the deck….

That will be the outdoor project for the year. Get the backyard in shape.

around the house writing

Still here

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Summer has zipped by. I’ve been having work done around the house–deck repaired and stained, dishwasher installed. Thought I’d catch a break for a bit, but the handyman called this evening–he has an opening, so he’ll be by tomorrow to fix one of the walls in the bathroom and repair some tile. So I cleaned out the cabinet that is going to be removed, then vacuumed because doesn’t everyone clean before workmen come to the house?

Oh well. It upsets the day, but it has to get done.

Nothing to report on the reissue of CODE etc as ebooks. Struggling with some short works–I start them, and think, who would want to read this? It’s been done before. The thing is, just about everything has been done before–I could write a one-sentence synopsis and likely be able to think of several already-published stories that fit it. And they would all be different. Because it isn’t the idea, it’s the execution.

If I keep telling myself this, I might come to believe it.

around the house life

Still kicking

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Damn, but it’s been a while.

Almost a year since I retired from the day job, and I don’t miss it a bit. I’ve been dealing with house repairs, though not as quickly as I would like. The worst job, going through all the worldly goods and disposing of what I no longer want or need, has been a slow go. I did get rid of a mess o’ unwanted weed killer, non-organic lawn care stuff, and acrylic paint a couple of months ago, but clothes, books, collectibles, furniture and assorted junk remain unsorted. Last summer I said I would do it during the winter, and during the winter I said I would attack it in the spring. Now, July is winding down. I did schedule some decks repairs–the guy who started the work last fall never finished and wouldn’t return my calls, so I needed to find someone else. That contractor will also be doing some work on my cupboards so I can finally get a dishwasher installed, which will be cause for much excitement in the realm.

As for the junk, it will get sorted. It has to. But I’m not looking forward to it.

Seven years today since my mom passed. I am not an anniversary/memorial person as a rule, for whatever that says about me. But today I had to do a lot of running around in the area around the hospital where mom was treated and the hospice in which she passed, and it got to me. Memories of driving from hospital to hospital to pick up records or to restaurants to pick up treats that she said she wanted and then wouldn’t eat–the spirit was willing, but the appetite was no longer there.

A restless day.

No updates concerning Jani e-bbok conversions. I thought I had something set up, but that may have fallen through. I may need to simply buckle down and do it myself.

Currently playing in the background is an old episode of Rick Steve’s Europe. Tuscany and Umbria. So gorgeous.


around the house

Been a while

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Over three weeks since my last post.

Busy, been, yes. Fall yard clean-up. Some major electrical work in the house. Meeting with an attorney to work on estate planning. A storm last weekend knocked out power for 15 hours, which allowed me the joy of an overflow sump pump cistern, fallen branches, and worry about the contents of the fridge. I dried things off, raked things up, and kept things cold. All good.

Took care of what I pray will be the last session with a rake for 2013. What I thought would be no more than an hour spent picking up branches turned into 3 hours and 15 lawn bags of branches, honey locust leaves, and pine needles. The honey locust leaves and needles are a bitch to rake–the leaves are small enough to sink in between the leaves of grass, while the needles weave through and get tangled. I could rake the same spot over and over, and still bring up needles and leaves.

I cut bushy bits off the fallen pine branches and tucked them into the planter–they’ll make a nice surround for the little Christmas tree I’ll be sticking in there later this week. Yup, ’twill be time to put up the lights and decorations. I don’t do many–a couple of trees made of coils of lights. Some wreaths. Simple, in anticipation of the fact that they will be taken down sometime in early January.

Cold, cold morning, cold enough to dig out the base layer for the morning walk. Gaby carries her base layer with her, and was quite content.

The Dr Who Weekend is playing in the background. The top 11 Matt Smith eps. I’d enjoy them more if they didn’t break in for commercials every four minutes. And if they hadn’t trimmed the eps in order to fit in said commercials. I’ve seen some of these episodes waaay too many times. I know which lines have been cut; some of them were from favorite scenes. Irritating, like favorite songs with phonograph record skips.

Time for coffee.

In closing, a couple of recent pics. Herself, post-grooming session, with bows, neckerchief, and a forlorn expression:

You did this to me.

You did this to me.

Yet another fall photo. Golden maple leaves:

Autumn gold