Monday, October 29, 2012

What's hidden is revealed

In my neighborhood, once the leaves fall, nests are revealed: squirrel nests, bird nests, sometimes even a hornet nest or two. This is the first time I have seen a honeybee nest.

I guess this is how honeybees build hives when there is no beekeeper.

I tried doing some online research about these honeybee nests, but most of the hits were either about how to remove the nest (as in "pest control") or how the honeybee population is being decimated. Two ends of the spectrum.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Knit on!

Now that the garden and yard are taking less of my time, I can turn toward some of the knitting projects that have been languishing.


No knitting at work, though

Sweater (which is actually a pastel blue-green, not the washed out ecru in this photo):


Same sweater, in situ (all it needs now are buttons):

Now we are two!

Seaming this sweater just about did me in, but now that I am on a seaming roll, I hope to complete several more sweaters that are basically done - except for the seaming. *sigh*

Saturday, October 27, 2012

No mo' mow?

We've been enjoying some "Indian summer" here this past week - high temps in the 70's. I took advantage of the warmth to lay out the hoses, the better to coil them up, my dear. Thursday evening I mowed the backyard, Friday evening the front (AND trimmed the front with my new electric trimmer). My hope is that these mowings will be the last of the season.

The dearth of birds has finally eased. A few robins have discovered the pokeberry, a female cardinal has joined the male, I hear blue jays in the trees, I see red wing blackbirds at the feeder, more finches too, AND I spotted a pair of cedar wax wings at the bird bath, first time I have ever seen them in my yard. Oh, and a titmouse. Can winter be far behind?

But first, we must finish with autumn.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

No more knitting

Or so says my new line manager. Apparently, it bothers her to see me sitting at my desk, headphones on, plugged into a virtual meeting room, and knitting. It is okay if I sit there and twiddle my thumbs. It is okay if I stand and stare out the window. I could probably even get away with a short nap as long as I didn't snore or drool. But knitting? NO.

This change is going to impact my sock knitting, and hence my xmas gifting. Grrr.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

This has been done for a while, too

I finished knitting this curtain panel on April 29, but it took me until September 29 to block it.

Yesterday I finally hung it in the kitchen window, to block the afternoon sun without blocking the view.

A-a-a-and it is too narrow. How did that happen?!?

Pattern: Bubbly Curtain, by Kay Gardiner and Ann Shayne
Yarn: Louet Euroflax Sport Weight
Needles: US5
Modifications: I THOUGHT I was making it to fit my kitchen window, but apparently NOT.

I'm not sure what, if anything, I am going to do with this thing. I don't have enough yarn for a second panel (I know, I could buy more), but maybe I'll make the garter stitch borders wider? Suggestions?

Friday, October 19, 2012

I can see clearly now

Besides all the other age-related health issues that have nagged me this year, my eyes decided they needed some attention, too. Thank goodness for vision insurance, which my employer provides FREE OF CHARGE. (The work itself is a giant snore, but I cannot complain about the benefits.)

I hate picking out frames because I have no fashion sense whatsoever and have to rely on the optician to find the one pair that will look halfway decent on me. This time I think he did good.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Some successes

Coleus on front porch.

This coleus was so great that I am attempting to root a cutting so that next spring I can root eight cuttings and thereby bypass actually having to purchase it again. It's not that I want to short change the local nurseries, but with my kind of luck, they won't have it.

(I just looked at its tag. The name is Coleus Velvet and it is supposed to be a DWARF plant, growing only 12" tall. As my great uncle Ditlev used to say, HA!)

Strawberries, although they are NOT everbearing. Jung Seeds, I'm talking to you!

As recommended by Square Foot Gardening, I ordered everbearing plants and crammed them into one 4'x4' bed. The first hint that these were not everbearing was the shear abundance of runners. The second hint was the total lack of a second crop. It will be interesting to see what happens next spring: a humongous crop or, due to the crowding, nothing.

(There is a third option. I grew fennel in the bed next door and not knowing any better, let it go to seed. Too late, it leaned over the strawberry bed, dropping seeds that, as I understand it NOW, will grow willy nilly everywhere. So next year my strawberry bed may become a fennel bed.)

Asparagus. I think I'll be able to harvest some next year.

Also per Square Foot Gardening, I stuffed this bed with asparagus roots, which grew and spread and grew some more. (You can barely make out the pink flamingo in the near right corner.) I tried to corral the plants with an old rickety stretch of mini-picket fencing. Next year I will have to replace that with something more sturdy. And rabbit-proof.


I'm a slow compost kind of person: I pile all my yard waste into these tired old bins, then dig out the compost the following spring. This year I layered some extra manure into the piles, and the piles cooked down to half their size in a few weeks. Lesson learned.

Other successes: first year for raspberries (also from Jung - wonder what variety they will turn out to be), grown-from-my-own-slips sweet potatoes, garlic (except for the one soft neck). The three redbud trees survived that heavy spring frost and no longer look like sticks. The herbs I planted grew like gangbusters, then went to waste as I was too tired from watering to make use of the chives and basil and dill.

I planted sunflowers here and there around the yard (note to self: do NOT plant them by the patio where they block the view). While listening to The Spendid Table the other day, I heard the interviewees describe being served sunflower seeds (in Japan? China?) - the whole sunflower head was laid on the table and the guests picked out the seeds themselves. Today I found a couple of heads seemingly unscathed by bird or chipmunk and brought them in, for my own dining pleasure.

Bon appetit!

Thursday, October 11, 2012

One down, 31 to go

Last week, while eating a bologna sandwich, I bit down on something hard (a piece of bone maybe?) and broke off about 25% of one wisdom tooth. (Yes, I have - or had - all my wisdom teeth, have room for more. Yes, I have a big mouth.) My dentist is biased against wisdom teeth, probably from seeing what problems they may cause, and recommended having this one extracted. So this afternoon, out it came. One more milestone on the path to the gravestone.

Even though I was to have a local instead of general anesthesia, my SO accompanied me. While sitting in the oral surgeon's waiting room, I wondered out loud what they used to do to pull teeth. "Whiskey and a pair of pliers," SO answered. Well, I'm here to tell you that the modern technique is not much different, except you are sober.

I asked the doctor how long the procedure would take, and he said, "It could take 60 seconds, it could take ten minutes." I girded myself for the latter, but fortunately it was only a minute or two, despite my jaw bone being "like marble". The total visit time was about an hour, though, filled with form signing, waiting for the doctor, waiting to become numb, waiting for the bleeding to stop (or at least slow down), and paying the bill. I don't know what this procedure costs where you live, but here it was $135, minus 5% for paying it all at once. This city could probably be a medical tourist destination.

Ordinarily, I rarely go to the doctor, but this year I have spent a lot of time with medical professionals of one sort or another. Dentistry is my favorite: they promote self-care, most problems are easily solved, and you don't have to take your cloths off.

Monday, October 8, 2012

It's autumn

There is a single male cardinal who hangs around the patio, complaining bitterly because he cannot get to the sunflower seeds when the heads are hanging low. I've seen my "pet" chipmunk climb the stalks, but I'm not sure he can get at the seeds, either. Once the seeds ripen up a bit more, I will pull up the plants and lay the heads on the patio table.

Now for the newbies: under the bird feeders, one New England aster 'Purple Dome' and two clumps of Little Bluestem 'Blue Heaven', plus a transplanted leggy pink aster whose identity will remain forever a mystery, 'Wild Romance'.

Arbor Farms sends me a gift card each year for my birthday, entitling me to a free perennial. This year I chose the New England aster.

And because the unwritten rule of freebies requires that I check out the rest of the plants, I also selected the Little Blue Stem. And because there were only two left, I had to take them both or they would have been lonely.

I had considered moving the bird feeders over the rhubarb patch, but decided birds pooping on something I eat did not sound very appetizing. I let some pokeweed grow behind the rhubarb, and those plants are loaded with ripening berries. Too bad the robins abandoned my yard months ago.

Too bad I did not get a photo of the 'Clara Curtis' painted daisy in their prime, as every fall they take over this bed on the south side of the house. I have plans for the bed next year: remove the mildewed peonies, the erratic climbing rose, the iris that won't bloom; move the lilies and day lilies; and plant a drought-resistant prairie plant collection. I'm sure some of the 'Clara Curtis' will survive.

I don't have much luck with chrysanthemum, but the ones I planted last year are just incredible.

Well, two of them are. The third one did not make it through the winter.

The 'Autumn Joy' sedum started in this bed, got moved around a bit, found their way back last year, and look very thankful to be home again. Keeping them watered during droughts makes a difference, I guess. That is 'Dragon's Blood' sedum growing below it.

This was my first year growing pineapple sage. The plants did great, but by the time they bloomed, the hummingbirds were long gone.

I also did not realize pineapple sage was an annual when I purchased it. If I grow it next year, I will locate it in a sunnier spot, in hopes of earlier bloom.

Crocosmia is not supposed to bloom in the fall, but weird weather sometimes causes weird plant behavior.

Although we have had a couple of frosts already, they have not been severe enough to kill much. Yet. I harvested the sweet potatoes this weekend (good crop!) and am putting the rest of the vegetable garden to bed for the season. I just need to remember to plant the garlic in November.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

These have been done for a while

I knit an entire pair of socks from the Yarn Harlot's basic sock recipe, without looking at the instructions once! So theoretically, I could be stuck somewhere but as long as I had some sock yarn and needles, I could knit socks. I don't know why this seemed important to me at one time, but there you have it.

Pattern: Sock Recipe, by Stephanie Pearl-McPhee
Yarn: Austermann Step, in colorway 0025
Needles: US1
Modifications: None to speak of

I am working on another pair of plain ol' socks, my go-to portable project. Just turned the heels and am working my way down the gussets. My goal is to complete this pair, plus two more by xmas.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Simplify, simplify

Welcome to my new three-in-one blog! I apologize in advance to those knitters who do not want to read about gardening and those gardeners who do not care about knitting and to both knitters and gardeners who think my personal essays provide way too much information. But! It's my blog! And I can write what I want to! I hope you will hang around, at least for a while, to see if you like this new approach. Thanks!