Spring sprinted through town with glorious sunshine and a couple weeks of blustery, windy days, and then was gone, now leaving sun-baked summer in its wake. I was getting freaked out by the whoosh of wings past my head every time I walked out the back door until I looked above the patio light and noticed that we had houseguests:
A fun way to start off the season! I’ve since learned to be a little less brusque in my exits out that door, although those poor parent birds probably have shattered nerves by this point. Being spring, it’s been a time for Stuffs! While plan-wise, I mentally bit off more than I can chew, I have to say that in terms of actual doing things, I’m still keeping it reasonable for the moment.
In the garden.
I sowed my salad greens and peas (new this year? snow peas!), finally potted some of my extremely, way too early starts (seriously, February? what was I thinking?!) and starting some new ones using the shiny new soil blockers The Boy gave me (!) way back in April.
The lemon and pickling cukes are by far the strongest starts (do they look to you like they’re ready to flower?!) and the cukes I started in soil blocks are also coming along very nicely. (I’ll try to post a proper review another time, but thus far on the soil blockers? I’m a fan!) After losing only one of a small army of tomatoes, I’m a little concerned that — though healthy — they don’t seem to be growing bigger. I worry that should I plant them out (with all the greenhouse time my seedlings have been getting, I’m pretty confident they’ll transition well to full sun) they’ll promptly be razed to the ground by whatever vermin mowed down aforementioned peas, greens and also beans that I’d sowed. (Gah!)
Just to keep myself in a good mood though, aren’t beans fun, in their weirdness?
As much as it irks me to start peas and beans indoors (it’s just ridiculous!) I am strongly considering it for next year because for three years now, I’ve had to sow everything twice due to The Eaters. This year in particular I am frustrated because I planted garlic “dividers” in my beds: every square has protective “walls” of garlic surrounding it! Why are there any rodentia in the bed at all?! If I had larger starts to plant out, maybe the vermin wouldn’t destroy them so thoroughly once they’re out and in the ground. The soil blockers website seems to state that the 2″ cubes work well for peas and beans so next spring I guess we’ll find out! (Possible alternate strategy: make sure that I have some good size marigolds going before planting them. Aside from warding away insects, rumour has it that rabbits dislike them and even if they don’t… maybe the abundance of marigold leaves will entice them to leave my veggies alone?)
For the “micro” soil block cubes, I’m not sure what I was thinking when the day after I’d made them I decided that they were drying out and soaked them… needless to say, that did not help their structural integrity. After a couple days of careful observation (so exciting when they sprout!), the plant roots do in fact kind of bind the soil together but… starting beets in the micros was not a wise move. I have plans to churn out a few more batches for herbs in the near future.
So, although all the spring-sown stuff has been viciously chomped down, the garlic is looking very cheery (if a little messy, as a “divider” plant). I love seeing so much green so early in the garden, when everything else is either still in a pot in the greenhouse (love!) or trying desperately not to be eaten by the squirrels or rabbits or whatever it is that keeps razing all my early peas/beans/salad greens to the ground (grr!). I sowed some beets and carrots directly into the garden over the weekend, so we’ll see how those hold up when they sprout too.
I finally got around to digging up the sad, much-neglected corner of the yard where, had I had my way, our compost pile would have lived. As it is, after a whole lot of weeding, digging, sawing, digging, cursing, digging and application of cow poop, there are now raspberries instead. (Yes, The Boy, you were right. I can cope with using the city’s compost services instead of creating my own. Also: were I to choose again, I’d put our compost bin on the north side of the house.) I don’t dare hope for fruit this year: at this point, I’m just hoping those poor little canes survive. Checking online today, I note that The Internets tells me that I’ve planted them way too close together, but I’m not actually expecting a 100% survival rate (is that horrible?) so I’m not too worried. I have two canes each of Fall Gold (yellow raspberries!), Herencia (generic red), and Brandywine (which I am retardedly excited about: it’s a raspberry-blackberry cross).
Also: a second rain barrel. The Boy found a nifty widget that basically just forms a spout in the existing eavestrough without truncating it, to pour into the barrel. I am excited not only that I’ll have twice as much rain for when the summer heat hits, but that I’ll have a rain barrel that’s actually on the same side of the house as the garden. W00t!
Still to do? Hoe in a bunch more poop in the herb bed (currently inhabited by extremely stubborn chives) and get the potatoes planted. I am targeting a new area, given how nicely the spuds last year turned the dirt on the north side, where I will instead be planting cilantro and whatever else I can get to grow there. Also: gradually get my seedlings in their beds and growing. Possibly eat some of my now-potted rhubarb.
The rhubarb had started life in a state of great neglect on the north side of the house, but being informed by The Boy in late March that their home was to be taken over for Other Stuff, about a month ago, I potted up the two plants, hauled them down to the sunny south side of the house and watched them thrive. I’d been keeping them in the greenhouse at first, but after about a week, I decided they’d be better off in the cool and the rain. Two days later, all of their leaves were snapped by the tantruming wind, I had a crisis of guilt, and then two weeks later, fresh growth has replaced those leaves and one of the plants appears to be flowering. (Does rhubarb bolt? It’s the only thing I can think of for that.)
I am blue; carnage.
After a fun outing to go see The Cabin in the Woods *, I lost my wallet. I was surprised by how un-stressed out I was about the whole thing, even when I found myself unable to buy groceries the weekend following (what? “cash”? What’s that?), thus prompting me to head back home, announce to The Boy that I was, until my replacement cards arrived in the mail, a Kept Woman, and could he please come with me to do the errands. To be honest, the only thing I’m truly mourning is the loss of my beloved, old-school health card: the kind that predates the province’s move to photo-ID cards requiring that you line up in one of their offices every 5 years to take a new picture. O my health card: 31 years you’d been by my side! Albeit fractured and peeling at the end, you were a faithful, rarely-needed companion. You’ll be missed.
* About the movie: yes, it’s a horror movie. No, I’m normally not into horror flicks. I was, however, sold on this one (by Poker, my go-to horror and indie music connoisseur) with the following two comments:
- Joss Whedon is one of the writers.
- It’s the most creative horror flick Poker had seen because are you not paying attention? Go read number 1 again.
I don’t know that I can say I thoroughly enjoyed it, because there were definitely scary, eek-inducing moments (see also: horror) but… I am glad that I went. It was certainly not your formula horror movie, although it does include nods to many of the stereotypes of the genre, in a loving, rib-poking kind of way. I think, if I had to sum up, I would say that I loved this movie as much as it is possible for me to love a horror movie. Since that doesn’t help you, though, some other thoughts on the experience:
- That Thor kid seriously came across as The Next Brad Pitt in this one. Even The Boy thought so. (I felt he was a lot like Brad in Mr. and Mrs. Smith, here.)
- There are no “creepy killer leaping out of a darkened closet with a knife” moments, which are what I really dislike about horror movies. I like suspense, I’m totally down with Dark Thematic Elements, I even have high gore tolerance, I just don’t like the jumpy, screamy bits. And Joss thankfully kept them to a minimum.
- Yes, the movie starts with 5 teenagers headed out for a cabin in the woods. Where the movie goes from there however, is completely new — I promise you that.
- The characters are generally likeable. We’re not talking Oscar-winning character development here, but they are definitely more fleshed-out than the norm.
- There’s humour. Not just the goofy, camp sort of “hey, let’s make fun of the horror movie genre!” kind (although there is a bit of that) but actual, honestly funny parts. This last, I think, is what actually saved the movie for me, because whenever I was getting super-tense and wide-eyed, trying to ready myself for the next scary bit, the laughing managed to relax and loosen me up enough that I could actually enjoy it. (Ahem. Without screaming into The Boy’s ear and drawing blood by gripping his arm with my talons. Not that I’m a giant sissy or anything.)
Can’t really do much more of a review without spoiling it (and I refuse to do that), but again: highly recommended.
I am a fan of the wood-burning fireplace. Lucky girl, I have one such thing in my living room. Since before moving in, The Boy had tried to convince me to go with a natural gas insert (more efficient! cleaner! less of a pain in the ass!) but being that I have many a childhood memory of burning marshmallows through a grate whilst warming my chilly little toes on the hearth tiles, all to a backdrop of that amazing woodsmoke smell, it was a no-go.
Sadly, our house contained not so much a “fireplace” as a “giant heat-sucking channel to the skies which also feeds smoke right back into the house”. We had the chimney cleaned and inspected, we sought advice, we made pleas and ritual sacrifices to Hestia. (“We” in that last being royal. And the rest being metaphorical. Of course. Ahem.) Anyway, so after over a year of hemming and hawing, and paging through brochures and flyers and trying the patience of many a salesman, we made the leap, and bought a wood-burning insert. Basically, a woodstove that lives tucked into your fireplace, with fans to blow the heat more readily into your house. I’ve named her Hester.
Obviously there was no point souping up the fireplace if we weren’t going to pretty up the 70s brick chimney too right? (Have you noticed that we’re a bit perfectionistic, The Boy and I?) So we spent weeks ogling stones and samples, and arguing about light in the room, and eventually got that done too and now? I love it. I love how much brighter it makes the room, and how it allows us the dark bookshelves we wanted without overpowering the room with Blackness. I love the wood-smokey smell (just a tinge!) in the evenings, and the sharp, stark smell of it in the air outside our house. I love the glass door that lets us stare, eyes unfocused, into the flames, with none of the sparks or embers to clean up on our brand-new (much prettier!) hearth. I love the gentle heat (not the face-searing blast of the open fire) and the slower burn.
Naturally we couldn’t have a Serious Wood-burning Stove Thing in the house without a Serious Woodrack To Hold Burnables, so this past weekend, The Boy hopped to and built one. It now lives on the north side of the house (yes, where the rhubarb used to be) and every time I walk past it I smile to think of the fall and winter coming when we’ll no doubt be working Hester a good deal harder than the couple drizzly nights just past that were just cold enough for The Boy to declare it “cold enough for a fire!”
I just need to find a tiny kettle now, small enough to set on top of that lip of stove. Or maybe just a metal pitcher I can use to keep hot chocolate warm and close to hand. So many wonderful things kicking off this Growing year!