I thought I'd share a video of one of my favorite artists, Adrienne Young, performing at Baker Creek Seeds last fall. This is one of her songs that I love.
Enjoy. And think about your Room to Grow.
Sunday, February 28, 2010
I am determined to have a great week this week. The sun was shining today and it was above freezing. The forecast for the week is for highs above freezing and sunshine. I LIKE that forecast! Maybe we'll start to see the grass.
V plans to help me this week to get my seed starting cabinet set up since I need to get my early stuff started ASAP. I've got cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, eggplant and some onions I want to get going. I may also start a few of my herbs although it is probably a bit early for them.
We are in the short stretch for closing on the house in town. Friday is the day. Then we can pay off two loans and make a few key purchases that we have been holding off. Our water heater has been making funny noises for a while and we're worried that it will quit on us. We are hoping to install a whole house, on-demand water heater that will be much more efficient than the old one. We also need to replace the old septic system which will be a priority. That has to happen before I can put in my herb beds so they don't get driven over by heavy earth moving equipment.
V and I have also been talking about building an addition onto the house. Well, actually more of a solarium/three seasons room on the South side. But we want it insulated well enough to have the kitchen open up onto it and we plan to put our fireplace or wood stove in it. The deck will then extend from that to wrap around the West and North sides of the current addition, creating an awning of a sort over the back door.
Ah, dreams of remodeling... like we don't have enough irons in the fire already!
This afternoon J15 performed in the 36th annual strings concert for the music school she attends. It was looong- two and a half hours long- but it is always fun. The orchestra that she plays in performed and then they have all the string groups- bass, cello, viola and violin perform sets of songs. They start with the most advanced players performing- then continue to add more and more students to the stage as the pieces get easier until they finally have all the students, even the tiny 4 and 5 year olds, on stage at once playing Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star.
We have events for the children on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday evenings and we are gearing up for K9's birthday on Saturday.
Like I said, this is going to be a great week. Much better than last week.
I'm hoping that it continues to thaw this week. I'm itching to get outside to work. We need to remove the fence that separates the yard from the meadow but will need to wait until the ground thaws a bit for that.
Friday, February 26, 2010
Ok, this week just needs to end!!!! Now, the furnace is out!
The children and I went ice skating this evening. It was school night at the local ice rink and it was the night for K9's school. So we got in for just the skate rental fee. It was fun although K9 got frustrated because he couldn't skate well. We wandered around the mall for a bit and then came home. I got in the house and headed into the bathroom. I wondered why it seemed so cold back there. So I came out and looked at the thermostat- 62 degrees. Now, we don't keep it overly warm in here but it's currently 15 outside with the temperature dropping.
V took a look at the furnace. It seems to be an ignition problem. We have gas and the fan works but it won't light. It clicks like it wants to light but it just doesn't. We have a call into the local HVAC guys that 1) are closest 2) service Carrier furnaces and 3) we worked with this summer when we had to move the air conditioning unit when we fixed the well. Unfortunately, it seems that one of their service guys hurt his back and is off work so they're short staffed. We're waiting for a call back from one of the remaining technicians. But there is no guarantee he'll make it here tonight. And, we'll probably pay through the nose for the service call.
Now maybe I'll get through to V why I have been pushing for a wood stove or fireplace for back-up heat. We've got the oil lamps lit and I'll probably try to bake something in the oven but I have to work tomorrow so I can't stay up terribly late tonight.
If things come in threes, hopefully this is our third for the week! I'm done.
We have heat!!
The technician from the original company never got back to us so we called someone else who was here in 20 minutes. Of course he had to drive all the way back to his office for a part- which luckily he had in stock (when he left he wasn't sure he had it so we were left with the prospect of no heat until Monday!)
So, as of 11:40 pm last night, and $376 later, we have heat. We really got nailed on the labor charges because we were paying "weekend/after hours" rates. But, what's a family to do?
But, on a bright side. V did say something to the effect of the importance of getting wood back up heat in the house. Victory! So, maybe it was worth it in other ways as well.
I'm over at Homemakers Who Work today with a post about my poor, abandoned quilts. I can hardly wait for the weather to warm up and for us to all feel well enough to start framing in the basement again. I'm really looking forward to having my own sewing room- even if it will also be a spare bedroom. Now I'm itching to dig out my quilting stuff almost as much as I'm itching to get in the garden.
Thursday, February 25, 2010
What a week it has been! First was my scary allergic reaction on Sunday night. Then, Monday evening, V was in severe pain again from this stupid sinus infection. I took off work Tuesday morning and drove him to the doctor (he couldn't keep his eyes open long enough to see to drive!) They scheduled him for a head CT which he had this morning. It turns out that he has cysts in both maxillary sinuses. The right one isn't symptomatic but the left one has been causing him trouble for weeks. He has now been referred to an ENT specialist but he doesn't have an appointment time yet. So, it continues....
We did have some excitement Tuesday afternoon. There was an accident right in front of the house and we had a totaled car end up in our driveway. Someone attempting to make a left turn across traffic was rear ended by someone else who wasn't paying attention and didn't slow down. Fortunately, no one was injured. But what's really scary is that it happened just minutes before I12 got home on the bus. It terrifies me to think of someone slamming into the back of one of the school busses (which happened near here last evening). Anyway, I go down to see if anyone is injured or if they need any help- and it turns out that the guy who was hit was one of the guys from the orchard that I had met at the workshop the other weekend. It seems that he lives with his mother just down the road that takes off east right across from our driveway. Talk about coincidence. He said that he had wondered about who had bought the property but didn't feel like it was appropriate to stop by. I told him that he didn't need to have an accident to stop by to see who lived here!
Then, there is the weather. We have been significantly below normal for this time of year. This morning it was -5 F! At the end of February! Brrr!! I am SO ready for winter to be over.
Tuesday, February 23, 2010
As you probably know, I write with a wonderful group of women over at Homemakers Who Work. We are having a reader poll to help us figure out what changes you, the reader, would like to see over there. As a reward for helping us out, there is a giveaway associated with it. All kinds of goodies. Head over and check it out.
Monday, February 22, 2010
I had a huge scare last night. I had an allergic reaction to something. A big allergic reaction. The having trouble breathing kind of allergic reaction. It started with breaking out in a rash in the inside of my mouth. The inside of my cheeks felt like sandpaper, covered with little bumps. Then it progressed to tightness in my chest and I started coughing a lot. I quickly took some antihistamines and dug out my old inhaler that I haven't used in a long time- only to discover that is is long expired. It did get to the point where I considered a trip to the emergency room through the snow- but luckily it didn't progress to that point.
I ended up staying home from work today, I'm feeling better but still just a bit off. The rash in my mouth finally went away by about lunchtime today.
Unfortunately, I have absolutely NO idea what triggered this. I wasn't around anything unusual and didn't eat anything that I haven't had in the past. One suspect: wasabi peas that I picked up at the store. I love those things but don't get them often. But they don't have any unusual ingredients in them that would cause me any concern. Another suspect would be that we had game hens for dinner rather than the usual chicken. But I can't imagine that this would be it. My final suspect is the broccoli that I picked up for dinner. The local store had huge heads of broccoli for $.99 that I just couldn't pass up. However, it was not organic and even though I washed it, I'm concerned that there was some pesticide residue on it. The only other times I have ever had respiratory symptoms from exposures has been with herbicides/pesticides. When we lived in the suburbs in Virginia, I used to wheeze every time the neighbors would weed and feed their yard or that the county would spray the local swamp for mosquitos. Every time I walk down the garden chemical aisle in the garden stores, I feel my chest tighten. But, all that said, I've never had trouble with non-organic produce before.
Now I'm feeling a bit paranoid, wondering what will happen next. Worried about what I'm putting in my body. I always thought I was doing a pretty good job but now I'm rethinking. If only I knew for sure what was the culprit....
Friday, February 19, 2010
I've been thinking of spring, in the midst of more snow falling tonight. I'm still planning and mentally rearranging my flower/herb garden to be that will be beside the, as yet, non-exsistent patio and seating area. I've been thinking about garden statues. I've never been able to have one when we were in town since it would have almost certainly gone missing quickly. I was thinking traditional, maybe a fairy or something like that. Then I saw THIS! I want one! Or, maybe this.
So maybe I'm not so traditional...
I'm so glad it's the weekend. I desperately need a break. Everyone else here has gone to bed. I'm unwinding with a drink, snuggled on the couch with a cat, my laptop and watching Aliens. How's that for relaxing? Drinking alone and watching an intense movie. Sounds like a recipe for trouble. But it's great. Normally V would sit up with me but he's still struggling with this blasted sinus infection. He's now finishing his 4th round of antibiotics and still having off and on pain. grr
Ooo, an alien just busted out of somebody's chest...gotta go.
Wednesday, February 17, 2010
Life has caught up with me this week. Things at work have been incredibly hectic with two staff members who have been out sick all week. When we have a max number of 4 staff at work on any given day- it makes it interesting- to say the least. Needless to say, I've been feeling exhausted and overwhelmed this week.
But I do have a few bits of good news that have brightened my day.
First- Debbie at Happy Days has given me an award!
Isn't she the sweetest thing! Let me tell you a little about Debbie. She is a regular commenter here and always has something sweet to say. She definitely brightens my day. She is a wonderful Mom and devoted Grandma and is always trying to learn new things.
I'm supposed to pass this on to other bloggers who make me smile. Now, there are lots of blogs I follow that make me smile but honestly, with the mush that is my brain right now, I can't pick five. Sorry. You all make me smile. Thanks.
Another bright spot of the day... I got an email from one of I11's teachers. At first, I had a bad feeling- wondering what was wrong- but she was writing to let us know how much she enjoys having him in class, telling us that he is polite, conscientious and a hard worker. WOW! I LIKE THAT! We don't usually hear good things about our children and it's nice to know we're doing a good job.
Hmm, another bright spot- my order of books from Amazon has shipped. I ordered the Edible Forest Gardens books for my classes I'm planning to take. But Yowza! They aren't cheap!! While I had free shipping, I also decided to order Gaia's Garden and Last Child in the Woods.
And the final and biggest bright spot of the day? We got word today that the closing for selling our house in town will be March 5th. Almost a month early and only two weeks away. Hurrah!!! That makes this the last month with a payment on one loan and only one more car payment before we can pay it off.
I'm glad there are only two more days left this week to work. And I'm REALLY glad I don't have to work this weekend. I need a break. I'll try to be better at posting regularly but I've just been a bit frazzled the past few days.
I hope you are all having a good week.
Sunday, February 14, 2010
Saturday, February 13, 2010
It was a chilly but quite informative morning! There were 10 people in the class this morning. I learned a tremendous amount and am SO glad I went. We spent a little over an hour in the barn (kind of heated- it was maybe 40 degrees in there) with a lecture on pruning basics.
My take home information.
Then, it was out into the orchard for some hands-on practice. We first watched as the pros pruned a tree, then we did another as a group with the class members making decisions that were okayed by the instructors. Finally, we divided into pairs and had a tree of our own, with the three instructors wandering through with suggestions or to answer questions. All in all, we spent about 2 hours out in the orchard.
Looking into the orchard.
Here we are, checking out one team's tree.
The instructor for the class is the owner of the orchard. He has only had it for about two years, taking it over from the original owner who was retiring. A lot of the trees in the orchard haven't been pruned in years so it was a great opportunity to get some practice. After tramping about for a while, we returned to the barn to continue the classroom part, this time talking about the differences in root stock, disease resistance and planting information. He had each of us tell our 'story' and why we were there and what our goals were. I did get some good advice. He advised me to cancel my order for the Granny Smith apple. I knew we were getting pretty far north for it since it has a really long growing season. He told me that it probably won't ever ripen to the point where it would taste good here. Good information to have. He did offer some suggestions for varieties and offered to order trees for the class from his supplier. So, I have two more trees on order. I'll have to call about my tree order that I placed and see if I can cancel my granny smith tree. I never got my blueberries ordered so maybe I'll apply that money to blueberries.
After I got home (not till 1:45) I put my knowledge to use. I did have an opportunity to ask the instructor about our apple 'bush' and got some suggestions. It will be a multi-year project to rehab this tree. I was told to never cut more than 1/3 of the wood mass of the tree per year. We got our the chainsaw and got to work.
We cut out a few trunks to open up the tree.
and generated a lot of brush.
Hmmm, don't you use apple wood for smoking?
I also strung some chicken wire around the base to keep the rabbits away. With the extended snow cover that we've had, they have really been going after the tree trunk. Since we exposed some new areas, we didn't want to give them the opportunity to completely girdle the tree.
All in all, it was a fabulous day. I made some good connections with people in the class and feel like maybe, just maybe, I can make more community connections still. And I definitely feel better about getting into fruit production mode.
That's what I'll have to wear this morning for the apple pruning workshop. This is what we woke up to this morning:
Single digit temps and freezing fog!
But it is so beautiful!
I'm trying to enjoy the beauty of this season and not be too impatient for Spring. Although, honestly, it can stop snowing any time now. But, there is snow forecast for tomorrow and Monday and it doesn't look like it will get out of the 20s for highs this coming week.
But I do have a bright spot to keep me going:
My poor old geranium is blooming.
I'll let you know how the workshop turns out. Tramping around in an orchard for several hours in the cold isn't necessarily my idea of fun. But I am excited about it.
Wednesday, February 10, 2010
I registered today for a weekend workshop in March. It's called Principles and Practices of Regenerative Design. It's part of the Seeds of Sustainability series by Backyard Abundance. The workshop is being taught by Dave Jacke, author of the two book series Edible Forest Gardens. It sounds like so much fun. I'm really looking forward to it. It is the precursor to the series of landscape design classes that they are offering. I'm a little frustrated though, The one class I am really interested in (and, of course, one of the ones they are only offering once!) is the weekend we will be out of town for my niece's wedding. It's the one on water management. grrrr. And you need to attend all the classes to get the certificate. I'll have to ask if they are going to offer it another time. I'm going to have to rearrange my weekend work schedule a couple of times to accommodate the classes but it shouldn't be a problem.
I also discovered that the orchard a few miles from us is offering an apple pruning seminar this Saturday morning. Now THAT is something I need to get to. It involves hands on time in the orchard. Sounds great, now if it would only warm up a little. The forecast for Saturday is a high in the lower 20's with a low in the morning in the mid teens. BRRRR. I'll have to wear my thick socks ;) They are also taking pre-orders for apple trees that will be available in April. Now, I know I just ordered a few apple trees- but these will be local- maybe just one more.... I didn't know that they sold trees- I hadn't heard of it before and I'm kind of excited. I'm going to have to take some pictures of our pathetic tree here and take them along with me to get some advice.
So, things are looking up on the education front for me- now to just finish all my continuing ed for my job. I'm also hoping to be able to start making a few more community connections.
Oh, and on the house sale front. When V and I went to shovel the sidewalk this afternoon after I got off work. There was a large pickup truck parked in the driveway at the house in town. It seems that it was the buyer. He was there working on refinishing the stairs. So we got to meet him and answer a few questions. It seems he really loves the house and we got a really good feeling that he will take good care of it. And the best news.... he already has a renter lined up and is planning to close the first week of March. Woo Hoo!!! Only a few more weeks to go. And that means only one more month of double loan payments. YES! The week has definitely taken an upward turn from Monday morning. (Thanks for all the sympathy- it helped) With the house selling, I can now afford to take the permaculture classes. I plan to set aside a bit of money for them. Even though they are spread out from March through October, at $100+ per class, it will add up.
Monday, February 8, 2010
Sunday, February 7, 2010
We had a lovely day at my parent's farm, celebrating my father's 84th birthday. My sister and her husband were here from Colorado and my brother and his wife drove down as well. The only one missing was my sister from Maryland, although we talked to her on the phone. They are still trying to dig out from 30 inches of snow. She sent some pictures of their deck with all the snow. IMPRESSIVE!
My aunt and uncle also stopped in for a bit. My Uncle Willis is Dad's last remaining sibling- he was the youngest of 7 children.
J15 played her violin during the morning church service at my parent's church. Everyone down there is always so appreciative when she plays. They have no one in the area who teaches strings so there aren't any other people who play violin anywhere nearby. But even more fun was the impromptu concert later in the afternoon. It seems that my BIL Dave has begun learning to play, although he is learning to fiddle rather than classical training. But still, they found a few things that they could both play. J15 has about 8 years of experience on him but he was able to play the melody lines and she was able to sight read some of the harmonies.
Definitely not perfect but still lots of fun.
And, of course, it is snowing again.... cue slightly hysterical laughter here......
Saturday, February 6, 2010
After sleeping for 13 hours straight, I woke this morning feeling better than I have all week. Still nowhere close to 100% but much better. To make it even better, the sun was shining and it was right about freezing. So the children and I took the dog for a walk. Then V and I took a walk together, just the two of us, talking about plans for the coming year. I remembered to take the camera along and snapped a few photos.
The stream is running. The grass is beginning to show through.
The little pool.
Actually, it's the old culvert under the highway. Rumor has it that it was constructed so the cattle could use it as a tunnel to pasture on the other side of the highway when this was a dairy farm. I'm not so sure about that- but the deer use it- we can tell by the tracks in the snow.
We have had snow cover for so long (since around Christmas!) that the rabbits are short on food. They have been hard at work on the apple. We were going to do major pruning on it this year anyway, they are just helping us decide which to remove. It sure looks like someone cut it off at the ground and it came up from the roots. Fortunately, the root stock was tasty. We noticed rabbit damage on all the shrubs in the yard as well. At least the blueberries and currants are well protected with wire cages. This just tells me that we will have to be very vigilant with our new trees that we will be planting this spring.
We are off tomorrow to my parent's farm. It is Dad's birthday tomorrow. My sister Julie is here from Colorado and J15 will be playing her violin at my parent's church tomorrow morning as a gift for my father.
I'm going to be starting a few more herbs soon, I think. I especially want to get my parsley started since it takes a while to germinate. We made a trip to the farm store this afternoon to pick up a new tie out line for Ticket (his old one got a serious kink in it and the cable is starting to rust and fray- I think someone drove over it when we had the sledding party). They had seeds there (of course) and I picked up some heirloom Four O'Clock seeds and some for purple coneflowers (Echinacea). I also picked up some seed for white patty pan squash. We had some from the farmer's market last year and they were so good. The kids nicknamed them UFO squash. I haven't grown much summer squash other than zucchini or yellow crookneck for a long time so these should be fun. I think that, other than a few herb plants, I'm done with seed procurement. Of course, I say that but whenever I see those colorful packets, they draw me toward them like a magnet..... It's like an addiction---JUST---ONE---MORE.....
Wednesday, February 3, 2010
Ugh. This cold/flu is really draining me. I finally went back to work today. I was still running a temp of 99.5 yesterday morning so I stayed home an extra day. Yeah, I know, 99.5 isn't a real fever, at least according to the schools. But my normal body temp is dyslexic. I'm usually closer to 96.8 than 98.6! So if I hit 99, I'm sick. Anyway, back to work today it was. And now I'm beat. It ended up being an incredibly busy, stressful day. First, I get an email from my boss reminding me that my annual PA is due and could he come observe me during my group this morning (great! I can barely talk- this should be good) I survived that- it actually went well.
Then, right after I finished that, the other senior therapist in today informed me that she had to leave because she got a call from her daycare that her twins were both sick. So, I picked up the two groups she was scheduled for today. Of the two other therapists in today, one leaves at 2:00 so was essentially unavailable for anything this afternoon and the other is our new therapist who is still orienting. She had a cognitive evaluation to do this afternoon that I had to supervise. So, I was essentially back to back with patients from 9:30 this morning until 3:45 this afternoon- no more than a 5 minute break between. Definitely NOT fun when I am still feeling like something the cat threw up on the carpet. After walking our new therapist through the documentation process for her eval, it was already 4:30. Now, I normally get off work at 4, walk downtown and catch the 4:30 bus to go home. And I hadn't even STARTED my own documentation for the day.
So, I called V to pick me up at 5:20. We didn't get home until after 5:30. Luckily J15 was cooking dinner already since I12 and I had to leave at 6:15 to go to choir and confirmation. I would have loved nothing more than to curl up on the couch but I had to help with his confirmation class. They are making quilts to send to Haiti as a service project and since there is only one other woman helping who knows how to quilt I was volunteered to help (oh, and can you bring your sewing machine... and supervise the student using it?) It wasn't too bad. Six junior high aged students- two sewing, two pressing, two pinning. Three adults, one of whom has no sewing knowledge at all. So Linda and I supervised, checked and re-pinned prior to sewing. I12 used my machine. He's actually pretty good at it and we produced some spectacular 16 inch square 4-patches.
Now, I'm home and babbling...or hadn't you noticed the babbling part. This is the first time I've had to unwind all day.
Oh, in house news- the buyers asked if they could refinish main staircase- at their expense. No problem there, it needs it and was one of those things that was on 'the list' that we never got around to. They evidently had a showing this afternoon for potential renters and our realtor also referred someone to them who is moving into town and needs to find housing within 30 days. So it sounds promising that we will be able to move the closing date up a month. March 1 for closing sounds MUCH better than April 1!! Since there are no banks involved we can do whatever we want (within reason). Really, they should be able to find renters quickly. It is a beautiful house, in a great location- near campus, near downtown, near the busline. I should leave them a diagram of the plantings in the yard as a selling point. Who wouldn't want an established herb garden!
Tuesday, February 2, 2010
A few pictures of the past few weeks that I've been meaning to post. Now is as good a time as any. Not much else to say.
Snow on the lantern.
From the last ice storm. YUCK
The Full Wolf Moon sets on Saturday morning.
Beautiful with the frost on the trees.
But I can't wait for Spring.
Monday, February 1, 2010
My children shared. I have been coughing and miserable both yesterday and today. Grrr.... You spend all that time teaching them to be nice and share and then what do they do? They listen to you! So I was home from work today. I slept until noon then sacked out on the couch with my laptop, seed catalogs and a notebook. I was drawing sketches for different areas of the yard. Part of my permaculture plan.
A couple of people indicated that permaculture was new to them. I'm definitely not an expert, that's why I want to take a few classes but here is a definition from Permaculture.org:
Permaculture is an ecological design system for sustainability in all aspects of human endeavor. It teaches us how build natural homes, grow our own food, restore diminished landscapes and ecosystems, catch rainwater, build communities and much more.
Or another one: (permanent agriculture) is the conscious design and maintenance of agriculturally productive ecosystems which have the diversity, stability, and resilience of natural ecosystems. It is the harmonious integration of landscape and people, providing their food, energy, shelter, and other material and non-material needs in a sustainable and ethical way.
As I see it, the idea is to use careful design to mimic the complexity of a natural system, encouraging diversity, interconnection and sustainability. Think of the typical suburban subdivision. Not much diversity, complexity or interconnection there. And it's not very sustainable. Now think of a forest. LOTS of diversity, plants and animals interconnected to support each other sustainably. One concept of permaculture is to design a "food forest" in our landscape.
Mostly today I was working on the design for the area that will be the herb and wildflower garden (mainly flowers that have tea and/or medicinal uses). This area will also eventually incorporate a patio area with seating and a space for our fire pit. I'm also planning to put in a trellis and was thinking about putting either scarlet runner beans or cucumbers on it this year. In doing some checking online about companion planting I learned something and now have a new flower to put on my list to plant. I learned that Four O'clocks, flowers that I grew when I was a child (I tried a sundial garden once) are fatally attractive to Japanese Beetles. It seems that the beetles find them irresistible and will fly to devour them. However, it also seems that there is something in the plant that kills the beetles. So they don't live to reproduce. Hmmm, considering how many beetles we had in the garden last year this sounds like an excellent addition. I'm thinking a few rows of these are in store. That, and they smell good.
And it's snowing here again. I believe I saw somewhere that we have now set a record for the longest number of days with continuous snow cover here. It feels like it. I am totally ready for spring. I'm itching to start little seeds but I know it's still to early. I'll have to satisfy myself with the little pot of chive seedlings on the windowsill. And my geraniums. We have a hanging basket of pink geraniums that we have had since the spring of 2008. We bring it in in the winter and put it out again in the spring. It has a bunch of flower buds shooting up. It had a couple of flowers last week and it was so nice to see something blooming.