Friday, June 27, 2008

i can't see you, but i can hear you

It has been a long, hot day, during which I had planned to do several things in the garden and accomplished none of them. In fact, I think I accomplished less than none; I forgot to water one of the front window boxes, and they really need to be watered every other day at the least. Oops.

But I have been listening to a Pewee singing his heart out all day, and a Red-Eyed Vireo off in the distance. The vireos are one of my favourite singers, and one of the first bird songs I ever learned to identify on my own. Partially because they are so easy: "Here I am. ... Where are you? ... Here I am. ... Where are you?" and so on. And on. And on.

Tonight was another treat. I thought I heard them last night, too, but tonight I am definitely sure: the nighthawks are back. I love this bird with a passion. I have no idea why, exactly. But they are very special, and they are amazing fliers. I've seen them at dusk before around here, a couple of times last summer. Infrequently, but they're around. And they make a very distinctive buzz as they fly over after dark, and I heard it tonight. It feels, for some reason, like a gift.

Monday, June 23, 2008

roofer madness

Since we purchased the house, there has been a leak in the roof over the bedroom. More specifically, there has been a leak where the chimney and the roof meet. Any time it rained with any gusto at all, the wall right beside the bed would drip. The floor is hardwood, the baseboards are hardwood... and fishy and I are both allergic to mold. So as you can see, this isn't an ideal situation.

Last weekend... was it only last weekend? Yes. Well, we decided to take the chimney down. It's not used anyways, and capping it would be costly, and capping wouldn't fix the problem. Saturday was a lovely sunny day... and so we began.

By the end of the day Saturday we had pulled all the soggy drywall off the wall, taken the chimney down, and managed to start the patching. By the end of the day Sunday fishy had put a first layer of protection down. So from inside it looked like so:

And from outside, like so:

Would you believe that it rained ALL NIGHT on Sunday?

However, I am pleased to report that it actually leaked less, despite the fact that the roof was only partially finished, than it has since we moved in.

One week later, the patching is done. Doesn't it look awesome?

I wish I could take credit but I cannot. I know nothing about roofing. fishy, on the other hand, is now something of an expert, and he did a fantastic job. This section of the roof will never, ever leak. You can picture me touching wood just in case I jinxed us.

Now, you may have noticed that there was no insulation in the wall in the bedroom. Those of you who have houses will be nodding knowingly now, because it appears that one project seems to lead to another... and rather than moving back into the bedroom now that the roof is finished, we'll be insulating it first. And then I have some decorating plans to be carried out. And we're going to have to sand and polish the hardwood before we get everything back in there. So... well, we'll get it done by the end of the summer. Right?

Friday, June 20, 2008

the dames on show

I'm trying to avoid an essay that is already a day late. Let's have a look at what's blooming in the garden!

This is a very tall salvia in the backyard middle bed. Last year it blew over in a storm, but this year it's sturdy enough that I think it would take a heck of a wind to knock it down. I love this plant. I honestly could have just salvia in my garden and I would probably be happy.

The rose I tried to kill last summer has returned the favour by being covered with blooms this summer. It's a climber, and it is still suffering from aphid problems, but I decided that since it didn't die it gets to stay, and I even applied a nice coating of soapy water to kill off a bunch of the aphids last week. The colour of the flowers doesn't really go with anything else in the garden, of course, and it's one of those roses that has been patented: Paprika (Pat. 9537). Seriously. I wanted to kill it partially because of that. There's something a little too corporate about a rose that has to have the patent number appearing after its variety name.

But I can't blame the plant. It's not the plant's fault.

This peony is going to outgrow its alloted spot in the garden next year. I think I'll have to divide it next fall. It has a lovely fragrance, and it blooms like crazy. It requires no love. I love it anyways.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

an ode to the easy girls of the garden

I have always kind of had a thing against peonies and petunias. Not because they both start with "p" although that might have some subconscious thing to it. I have nothing against the letter "p"... I don't think.

No, it's because I've always thought them a little, well, whorish. You know, with the constant, profuse blooms in bright, showy colours. Flowers flaunting themselves in the garden. No subtlety! No secrets! Easy to care for, don't require much other than the occasional deadheading, and yet still showing themselves off to everyone who passes.

... ... Riiiiight.

So those things that always made me just the slightest bit disdainful of both peonies and petunias when I had no garden of my own?

I loves them. I loves them very much. I even planted petunias this year, and I really have a thing against them. But the little ones in my front window boxes are ... just, well, cute. And delightfully pretty. And exuberant, and joyful, and easy to care for. Such colourful payoff for so little work.

And the peonies. Oh my word, the peonies. They are flaunting like crazy. They have enormous, profuse, fragrant Flowers-with-a-capital-F. They are flopping all over the place. They are stunning. And the foliage! I never really appreciated the loveliness of the peony foliage before. It's dark green and rich and really interesting. It looks good! And it takes me nothing! And I have cut flowers in the house, and cut flowers to give away, and there are still more blooms coming.

Woe is me for ever disdaining the carefree peony and petunia. I humble myself before thee, cheerful dames of the flower garden.

Friday, June 13, 2008

progress update: garlic gone wild

News, news! We finally planted the front window boxes. And I was surprised one day to walk out onto the front porch and find myself endowed with surprise geraniums. I think Grandma and Grandpa were by and didn't realize I was home.

The tomatoes and peppers are loving all this hot weather, but I need to get the radishes out shortly before they kill the carrots. The cilantro seems to be hanging in there. The shallots are resentful, and disappearing quietly. I'd blame the rabbits but I think, for once, they're innocent.

The garlic has thrown up its flower heads; I have been advised that they don't necessarily have to come off, and if I do want to take them off, the stalks can be peeled and sliced and used as a mild garlic clove substitute in salads. I think I'll try that tonight, with romaine and radishes.

I will try to get some photos, but the camera is doing something strange where the light meter doesn't seem to be working. I think more correctly it's that I don't know how to work the light meter, so perhaps it's time for me to learn.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

feelin' hot hot hot

30 Celsius three days in a row! It's too much.

And I am beginning to realize that I am starting to use this blog as a forum for small talk... all about the weather, all the time. So I'll cut that out.

Good news! fishy and I picked up some plants to put into the front baskets, so I am going to plant those this evening. And I need to water the butterfly flowers, I just remembered that. Put Mr. Droopy back out into the yard to see the sun, which I think he will enjoy, and all the tomatoes and peppers are now planted.

So I think that means everything to be planted this year is in the ground, except for the basil and the brussels sprouts. The brussels sprouts I'll put in pots today, and the basil might just go straight out into the garden. It's hot enough for it, and it's an herb; I don't think anything will eat it.

Speaking of getting eaten, the lettuce I planted for a second time is looking awesome, so shortly I will have to take it down to one plant per pot, and then plant them in planters. I have lots of planters, so there's lots of place for lettuce. And basil, frankly. The place where I was going to put the basil may be used instead for beans. Or something. Who knows. I'm still fooling around with this stuff. It's all about the learning.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

sorry rain, I didn't mean it... please come back!

The lack of rain is starting to get to me. Did I think I was going to be saying this? No. However, I have had to water my poor shallot seedlings several times now to avoid them dying on me, and I was a little late for some of them.

I did plant the Roma tomatoes out into the garden today, and surrounded them with tomato cages, to keep them from going wild all over the place. They grow incredibly fast. I'll plant out the heirloom beefsteaks tomorrow, I think, and maybe even get some basil into the ground. That said, it shows no sign of warming up enough for basil any time soon, so I'm not sure what to do about that.

I'm also stuck on what to put in the front boxes. I need some very drought-tolerant annual, because I'm not going to water them every day in August (the lobelia was a bad choice last year) and I almost bought a fuchia, but I don't think they're very drought tolerant either. Maybe gazania or something. Or some sort of mixture. I just don't know. There are not a lot of annuals that I actually really like.

One thing I did pick up today that makes me happy is two big bags of mushroom compost. One for the veggie beds and one for the front yard. Well, a piece of the front yard, anyway. Since one bag will probably cover such a small part it won't make much difference.