A Little Gardening, A little Crafting

Once more, I’ve been to the garden quite a few times and missed taking the camera.  The photos here are two weeks old, so there is now even a larger profusion of blooms, plants are bigger, and I’m settling in for the garden season weeding.


The small AFAC garden is planted and now has sizable cucumber and squash seedlings as well as radishes, lettuce, and cilantro. I’ll put in peppers when the lettuce is done.

It has been raining a lot here, often on the weekend.  I stopped by the garden yesterday in light rain just to check on some plants and see whether some seeds I planted have come up.  Things looked good.


I weeded the large outside garden and have planted flower seeds. One of the small blueberries from last year had survived. And the asparagus is doing pretty well.

It is possible the rabbits are eating my okra seedlings.  I have chased them out of nearby gardens a number of times and the okra plants have been slow to emerge, or they have been eaten as sprouts by evil lagomorphs.  It’s early enough that I can replant and cover them if necessary.


This little blueberry bush is in the outside garden now. It is self-pollinating and a variety called Perpetua, which means it may fruit in both spring and fall.

I love this time of year when everything is popping out of the ground and I get my first vegetables and greens and my first vase of cut flowers.  At this point, I always think there’s enough room in the garden for everything.  Then the plants get to full size, and it’s always bigger than I allowed for somehow. But all that lushness just makes me think the world has been set aright.  And everyone needs to think this at some point every day.


The Columbine (Aquilegea to the Contented Crafter) have been fabulous.

I’ve also been making little felt mice.  They are very nice mice from a free pattern by Ann Wood. There is a little sailboat as well, which I may also make for hanging up.  We’ll see.


Here they are, having a gabfest.

Earlier this year, I also made this little bee for a friend’s birthday.  I think I got the pattern from the Snail of Happiness, but am not sure which post!  In any event, I really enjoyed giving the bee translucent wings.  And my friend, who got the bee because she is that busy, really liked it.



I also finally purchased a sewing machine.  I had been wanting one for alterations and to make things, but did some extensive research to find a small one that will last.  So far I am happy with the Janome Model 19.  I hope to do more work using it–small quilts, bags, t-shirts and maybe some crafts.  We’ll see.


I did so much research. So far so good with this one, but I’m still learning it. It has a nice instruction book.

But I’m back to reading and gardening and a little bit of writing here and there.  I am trying to have a sensible, slow-paced life, at least intermittently!  I’ve also been helping a friend decide how to deal with her tiny back garden.  It looks as though we may be able to turn it from a weed patch into a nice little oasis. I was surprised at how many plants I could suggest for different purposes.  We’ll see how it goes.


These plants have settled in and are doing well, in spite of being pounded by cold rain for days on end!

Meanwhile, Happy Mother’s Day to those of you celebrating it today!  Have a good week!


So many things are up–the squash for one–or bigger, and the irises were spectacular. Next blog, I’ll try to have more current photos!

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Spring Is Springing

I have been a very bad blogger since my last post–neither visiting nor writing.  I apologize and will try to catch up on all the news, soon.  It’s a beautiful Easter Day here today, and I’m resting after making starters for the dinner I’m going to later and cleaning up the kitchen.  A cup of tea wouldn’t go amiss right now…


Not the kind of rabbit that eats my seedlings!

Yesterday I worked long and hard in the garden.  You may remember that I work three gardens.  One is for me; the other two, a small garden inside our fence and a larger space outside it, are for the Plot Against Hunger.  I only have pictures today of my own garden.  For some reason, I keep forgetting to take a camera or forgetting to take pictures when I do have it.


The oregano is thriving and I cut some to put in pasta…

I planted the small garden a couple weeks ago with some head lettuces, radishes, carrots, cilantro, zucchini and summer squash.  Everything, except the dilatory carrots, is up.


I cut some of this to go with the oregano in the pasta–along with a little olive oil, some nuts, and some Romano cheese. I love that meal!

The large garden was another story.  You may remember last year, that the larkspur were glorious in it.  And they gloriously seeded.  I spent much of yesterday pulling out larkspur.  The asparagus I planted have come back, and next year, I expect we will have an asparagus harvest.  Yesterday, while weeding (larkspurring?), I discovered that one of the small blueberry bushes I planted last year had survived.  I cleared out nicely around it and will nurse it this year.


These were an amazing sight, gloriously thick on the ground.

My plan for the large garden is berries.  Since it is so open to depredation by passers-by, I thought I would put in permanent, perennial plants, and the sort of thing that you have to take some time to steal an amount worth eating from.  Outside that, I’m going to keep planting a flower border.  I’m considering strawberries, but frankly, I’m not keen on picking those.  The blackberry has done very well in the garden and was well-picked last year by me and passers-by.  The berries were delicious eaten right off the canes, which is probably why they were so well-picked!


The garlic won’t be ready for another couple months, but if it were, it would be going in that pasta dish as well.

So in the next few weeks, I’ll finish off clearing the large garden, purchase some berry plants and canes, get a flower border started and then settle into the work of weeding and harvesting.  I’m looking forward to seeing how things grow this year, and having cut flowers in the house again!


The irises will be in their purple glory soon.

Happy Easter and best wishes for the coming week.

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Foiling the Evil Rabbit

Last week I spent time in the garden weeding it for planting.  There weren’t many weeds, because I cleaned up well last fall and laid down a good layer of compost.  But it took me a while, crawling around, making little piles of weeds, and helped me think about planting this year.


Some people have been active cleaning up and planting and some haven’t. My garden neighbor Mike has been in his plot and has plans for vegetables and flower borders.

Over the winter, I thought about how to shelter plants from rabbits and looked in gardening catalogues for more covers like the one I have been using for several seasons now.  I decided buying more could be considered either 1) costly or 2) an investment.


This one, which I’ve used upright over a single plant or in a small row, like this, has been really handy. And it’s attractive.  Also, there would likely be no parsley now without it.

As I thought further I realized that the little shapes were for small plantings, like the one sheltering my parsley, or individual plants.  Last year the cloth cover on my growing tunnel saw its last season and I had saved the hoops, thinking I could get new cloth.  Then it occurred to me that I could use them as supports for chicken wire.  I bought a roll of the stuff for $14 and spent $20 more on a pair of good wire cutters. I was still under what I would have spent on the number of pretty chicken wire cloches and short row covers I calculated I would need.


These little blue flowers are an invasive weed, but I saw honey bees on them last week, so I left a few.

So yesterday I went back to build some chicken wire covers for a whole row.  One of the first things I did was manage my expectations.  They would be functional, but not nearly as charming as the covers I could buy.  I gave the garden a good hoeing and then got to work looping my wire hoops through the chicken wire lengths.  At first I had thought I would weave the hoops through, but working with actual chicken wire made me realize the folly of this.  I looped through in one place at the center of the wire.


Luckily I have heavy gloves and my tetanus shot is up to date. This was the first, longer row in process.

By the time I had created a short and long row, I needed to get the seed packets I had chosen out and figure out what I was going to plant.  I put some unsheltered arugula in near the parsley.  The rabbits often don’t eat it if it’s peppery, but I’m taking a risk.  Then I chose some beets, carrots and radishes to put under the chicken wire.


I sorted seeds by early and late spring plantings in February.

Then, overnight it rained. Perfect.


I had to use hardware cloth staples to tack down the wire in a few places. I’m using the plastic jugs as growing domes for tomato and eggplant seeds. We’ll see how things work. I have more chicken wire left so there will likely be more shelters for lettuces and other things the rabbits like…

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A 90th Birthday Party

Well, what a winter it has been.  And not because of weather.  There was the pneumonia in December and the government shutdown in January.  Then in February all hell broke loose.  My brother had a heart attack that resulted in quadruple bypass surgery.  The day after he got home from the hospital, my mother fell in the bathroom and fractured her femur, resulting in a hip replacement and a stint in rehab.  Good grief.


I was beginning to feel as though I should hide behind a tree, as well

I had been planning to visit for my mother’s 90th birthday on March 11.  My nephew was also looking to celebrate her birthday, persuaded my niece to come from New York City, and enlisted his mother in acquiring and making food.  He brought his family down to central Illinois from north of Milwaukee.


I flew in on a Friday and Mom wasn’t out of the rehab center yet, but that allowed me to go spring her along with my niece.  I had thought we’d get her out in time to settle in a bit, but the party was already starting when we brought her home.


Vicky really laid on the luncheon.


There is always something interesting on the fridge.

It lasted into the evening and then started again at breakfast on Sunday.


Mom, with her grandson and youngest great grandchild.

We had not all been together at once as a family in quite some time. And for some of the newer family members, we had not been together ever.  It was nice to catch up with my nephew’s wife Beth, and she and Elisa were catching up as well, with a blur of children around them.


My mother was surrounded by great grandchildren for the opening of her gifts.


And she got to enjoy having all of us around including some of the youngest members of the family.


My brother was looking pretty darn happy to have all those grandkids running around, too.


Some of the grandkids felt others had taken their chairs.


Elisa did a lot of communing with her nieces.


There was multi-tasking, and


we did manage to take one big family picture because Elisa knew how to use the timer on my iPad.


The food was fabulous, and of course, there was enough to nosh on for a couple days.  We’re hoping we can get together like this again, but maybe without health issues preceding it.


I’m itching to get into the garden.  It was a lovely day today and I had lunch with my friend Paul, then we went to Dumbarton Oaks.  The snowdrops were out, but not the flowering quince, though it’s budding.  The Yoshino cherries look to be about two weeks away. Spring will come, and more family visits, as well as gardening.


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Winter Makes a Statement

Winter rode in on a moving front of changing weather mid-week.  Forecasters had been talking about snow and moving the forecasted amounts up and down with the weather models.  They settled on 4-8 inches yesterday.


It’s likely hit 6 inches by now, but looks like a lot more snow…

It started to snow yesterday afternoon, slowly and gently.  Usually a winter storm that drops significant snow comes up the coast like a hurricane would in the summer, bringing high winds as well.  Not so this time.


Another weather pattern that seems to be changing is that storms coming from the west used to drop most of their snow in the mountains.  Alas, the new pattern seems to be of storms coming across the southern plains and the south and then slowly veering north a bit.  I think somehow they maintain their moisture.


I think it’s pretty heavy and wet.

It has snowed through most of the day, sometimes harder than others, and is picking up again with more and faster falling flakes.

I walked around just to see how the roads were and who was out–and to take pictures.  There were lots of kids at the sledding hill.  I didn’t take photos because I didn’t know any of the parents.


It’s hanging out in leafless bushes (these are euonymous, or burning bush) as well as on evergreens.

The nearby businesses were clearing their walks and parking lot with snow blowers


I think this is actually supposed to finish the blown walks, but I know little about snow equipment…

and little John Deere snow plows.


I still get a kick out of these because they look like toys and great fun…

Time to settle in and enjoy with cocoa and marshmallows.


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River Walk

Since recovering from pneumonia, I’ve been getting my strength back with various exercises and walking.  On Sunday, one of the few sunny days we’ve had in ages, my friend Carolyn and I took a walk down to the Key Bridge and across into Georgetown.


It looks almost wild here. Almost. All you have to do is look a little to the east…

The Georgetown waterfront has been under development for some time.  It used to have a few boathouses and a lot industrial warehouses and storage, as well as the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal.  Now there’s a park along the river and it’s a really nice walk.


And there’s the Watergate, the Kennedy Center, and the Washington Monument peering over them. Some architecture critic said that the Watergate was a wedding cake and the Kennedy Center was the box it came in…

I wanted to check out the skating rink at Washington Harbor.  A friend of mine had taken a group of Girl Scouts there before Christmas and I didn’t even know there was a rink there.  It was in use on Sunday, but woe to those who fell:  there was a lot of melt and large puddles.  I like skating on cheesy ice, but not when you’re running through little ponds.  It’s supposed to get cold and maybe even snow this weekend.  That would make for good skating.


Or look a little to the west and you get the Rosslyn skyline. In the 19th century, Rosslyn was full of bars and bordellos.

The thing I like about walking the river is that I know it from rowing and kayaking and looking at it from the shore is a different view.  And there are always things to see.  We spotted a Black Crowned Night Heron resting in a thicket. I had to look up what it was, though another bystander said he thought it was a “night heron.”  So there are surprises, if you’re alert.


I was transfixed by this. Carolyn was momentarily appalled when I stopped, thinking I was going to look at the tourist paintings stacked up in front of it. Nope. And no, I didn’t take a picture of them…

We were also surprised by an art installation on the plaza.  It was made of piping, clamps, and nylon cord, some of which was stretchy like a bungee cord, but smaller.  It was colorful and sort of like walking through alleys between buildings.


Carolyn takes a gander through the alleyway…

I speculated that it was lighted at night by solar cell.  There were devices in each structure that looked like they could be storing up daylight for nighttime use.


And I take a look at the view out…

We had a look at the rink, did a little people watching, and headed back.  The sun was already getting lower in the sky.  It was nice to be out, stretching my legs.  Carolyn, who wears a device of some sort (is it an Apple Watch?) said we’d walked nearly 6 miles.  Now if I can just keep it up…


Back across the beautiful bridge we went…

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All Is Calm

It’s a  dreary day with lowering clouds and a look of snow. To the south, there is a winter storm that’s crossed 2000 miles and is heading for the Atlantic.  Here in northern Virginia, we aren’t expected even to get flurries.  But we’ve got that wintry look.


What’s more wintry than this? Well, snow would be, I guess, but …

I’ve been lazing around my house since November 28 with a case of pneumonia.  Today, I take the last of my antibiotics and tomorrow I have an appointment with the doctor to see whether my lungs have cleared well. As pneumonia goes (I am unfortunately well-experienced with it), it hasn’t been bad, especially the coughing, which has been efficient and (drumroll) largely during the day.  I’ve been sleeping  like a stone.


Leeks and red sorrel together in a dormant garden.

I’ve been getting great meals from friends, too.  And boy has that helped!  The thing with pneumonia is that you don’t feel bad after the initial slam-down, but boy is it hard to do much but lie on the couch.  I realized I was on the upswing when I had the energy to open a can of refried beans and cook some rice.


These figs, on a sheltered south wall, won’t be anyone’s meal…

Today, I’m thinking about bringing out my Christmas decorations.  I don’t have a lot, so it shouldn’t be too strenuous.  I will likely be snugging in locally for the holiday, as travel after pneumonia is too strenuous, and way too many people seem to think flying while sick is a good idea.  Well it is, if you want to make the maximum number of people sick … otherwise, not so much.


Ah, citrus! Gracious fruit of the winter.

So I’m reformulating Christmas for myself at the moment, and continuing to relax.  I may write my cards today.  I’ve already got them stacked in order for addressing.  One thing I’ve enjoyed, being home with little to do, is being able to visit everyone’s blog fairly regularly.  You folks are productive and entertaining and educational!


I thought these were the loveliest little blast of color. I Imagine them calling to birds, “Here we are!”

To prove it, just this week, I got a book of Cynthia Jobin’s poems in the mail, pulled together and edited by John Looker, published by Bennison Books. It’s a lovely edition.  Cynthia’s blog was like a master class in poetry and its forms, and the conversation in comments was wonderful.  I’m glad there’s another edition of her work to savor. It’s available from…yup, Amazon, so order it if you’re inclined and many thanks to John.


I had to hold the cover down, since it’s already standing open from reading.

I hope you have a good week! See you in the blogosphere.


And because I’ve been reading Derrick Knight’s blog, I’m pretty sure this is a clematis–I offer it in memory of Cynthia and in thanks to John for his work.


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