Friday, April 22, 2011

Happy Earth Day

Photo courtesy of Paul's Place
She contemplated the dripping rain outside her windows. Most everyone else is complaining. "Why must it keep raining?" "I want to enjoy Earth Day outside in the sun, not indoors hiding from the rain." "Surely I can't visit the park in weather like this." Why, they might melt, of course. It seems to her that these complainers, these know-nothings, can't appreciate Earth Day if they only worship a sunny, comfortable 60 degree day. No mosquitoes silently, threateningly gliding near, sweat dripping down the small of one's back. No bitter chill to the air, cutting through five layers of wool and down, instantly numbing los dedos.

A perfect Earth Day is one such as this ~ rivers swollen, potholes hidden inside puddles, and leaves dripping like gutters. That brilliant green so unique to spring popping each tiny branch. The ground, the dirt, the mud, the earth smells rich and thick and dark and ready for growth. The world is cleansed from the pall of winter. It seems a shame to hide inside and miss the start of the show.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

"The fair weather gardener, who will do nothing except when..."

"...the wind and weather and everything else are favorable, is never master of his craft." ~Henry Ellacombe

This quote reminds me of the times during freezing rain in autumn when I'm digging in mud to plant bulbs for spring; of the blistering heat while I dug up sod in order to build our landscape wall, so much sweat dripping from my face that I couldn't see.  And every pedestrian stopping to ask me what I'm doing. Or my hands frozen and chapped while painting the fence in 35 degree weather, the absolute lowest temperature possible. More pedestrians stop to tell me the yard looks nice but they're worried that someone will wreck into my fence. They hope it doesn't happen! But nonetheless, insist they are worried.   ????  

I'm still slowly chipping away at a few blog changes. I've had to take a small break from my intensive Photoshop exploration while we work on refinishing some of our wooden floors, I make a few Easter/Passover gifts, and get the yard ship-shape. And I've been working my ass off at the gym (no snickering) so that adds to the exhaustion and my tendency to fall asleep on the couch. But meanwhile, I have many pictures of projects, past and ongoing, that I can share with you. I mean, c''re bored without me, right?

 I tried to take a few photos of my basement plant room a couple of weeks ago, but apparently they all came out blurry. Except for this one. So you can't see that I have two tables (the one pictured being 8ft long), and some plants stacked on boxes and on the floor. Plants everywhere. Some doing well, some not growing much, and some dead. But I bought a grow light to try and keep my plants alive over the winter. I can't put any houseplants in the main house because the cats will chew them to death and then hurl everywhere.

This arrangement has worked surprisingly well, as long as I remember to water them (the biggest reason my plants die). Particularly since the basement can't be reached from inside the house. Yes, that's right, I must go outside to get into the basement. It sucks especially for laundry, mostly during winter and when it rains. The previous owners took out the stairs to put in a closet on the first floor. I don't want to lose my butler's pantry. So until we build the addition, we must go outside! Oh, and we fenced the yard in last year so I have to go through an extra gate (while carrying laundry basket) and unlock basement door. Oh wait! AND we just had to add a PADLOCK to that gate because the neighbor kids decided a fence wasn't enough to keep them from cutting through the yard (which I caught them in the act of doing). So now I have to have the key for the padlock to unlock and remove it, open the gate, and use a different key to open the basement door.

In crappy weather, this routine does not encourage me to visit the basement. I have enough clothing to last me months. Seriously. And that makes it just that much harder to water the plants. But it has worked out well so far; so much so that a few of those pots on the end have newly planted seeds that will hopefully be bluebells, catnip, and some other flowers for hanging baskets come spring. Why should I buy ten million of them in May when I can grow them myself? Well, that's not a definite. But hey, I'll attempt anything once. My favorite hanging basket plant is million bells (calibrachoa) but you can't buy seeds for them. So I will definitely be buying those baskets in May.

We went to the Phipps Conservatory this past weekend and I love their spring flower show. I probably should be living somewhere like England and have far more money than I do. I love huge gardens with landscape mazes, very clean architectural type areas alongside crazy wildflower ones, and birds, birds, birds. I would love a pond with a small footbridge and colorful fish. A decorative iron bench tucked under a weeping cherry tree. I know, I'm so fanciful. Can I have a greenhouse, too? And of course, this would all be located behind my manor house/castle. With gates that lead to the forest. Or maybe an ocean cliff. Ever read The Secret Garden? THAT sums it up. I'll keep dreaming. Here in this picture, I am demonstrating to Hubby what our backyard should look like.

Little by little, I will turn my yard and home exterior into a landscape dream. With easy maintenance plants of course! These blue hydrangeas were at Phipps and they are my favorite. I love hydrangeas. Really, my favorite flowers are all spring flowers: tulips, daffodils, hydrangeas, etc. My little hydrangea bush that I planted last year seems to be coming alive, albeit slowly. I planted it very late last year and after a bitterly cold winter, I wasn't sure it survived. My hibiscus tree did not. I thought it was the hardy version until I stumbled upon the tag among my potting plants. I will have to purchase a much hardier small tree to occupy the beautiful pot I bought last year.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

"He that can have patience, can have what he will." ~Benjamin Franklin

Photo courtesy of
So it's taking me a bit longer than I expected to make some changes around here. First, I played around with Picasa and I thought that would accomplish the effect I wanted. It didn't. Then I started getting into GIMP because it would support the files I needed. But just in the nick of time, hubby came through and I now have a whole series of Adobe products which include Photoshop CS5. Exciting! But daunting! I haven't used it since, oh, my senior art class in 2002 and I didn't really know how to then either! So it might take a few more days. In the mean time, I changed my work computer background image to this adorable little guy! Happy spring!

Friday, April 8, 2011

"They say that time changes things..."

"...but you actually have to change them yourself." ~Andy Warhol

To coincide with spring's arrival, I have a few changes coming to my blog. A big, noticeable one will be evident sometime this weekend. I have a lot of ideas percolating in my head so I don't want to give it away. Another change that you may notice soon is my attempt to post more. Traditionally, I enjoy writing lengthy posts and sometimes this makes it harder for me to post more often, even though I have plenty of ideas. Therefore, beginning sometime next week, I will be embarking on a Blog Blitz (I don't know if this idea already exists out there but I am commandeering it). If you've even read just a couple of my posts, you'll see that I do (as advertised) write about many subjects. Some are personal, some are work-related, craft-related, food, etc. But I think this fails to cover the sheer number of ideas that are popping into my head fairly consistently as well as the numerous on-going projects I have. This Blog Blitz is going to showcase as many of those ideas and projects as possible. In smaller, separate posts. Sounds crazy, I know. And a little bit like spam. But enjoyable spam. Or at least I think so! This also rather serves as a "to-do" list for me. I am still very good about completing projects but I need deadlines. I LOVE deadlines. I work so much better when I have an end in sight from the beginning. And you, my readers, will hold me accountable.

So get your reading glasses all shined up and ready to follow my every move next week. I'm also in the spring changes mood and have finally started hitting the gym again, which helps my mood considerably. I'm still doing yoga at home since my favorite class was changed and I'm trying to fix my left knee. My left leg is weaker than my right leg (possibly also from my sacroiliitis) and I think that's been causing my knee pain when I run or overuse it. Since the doctors couldn't come up with anything, I've been strengthening it on my own and it seems to be helping. I would love to be able to run the 10k Great Race in Pittsburgh in September. But I'll think first goal is a half mile without pain!