Winterizing La Casa de Tontería

Yesterday it snowed. Not the fluffy, stick-to-the-ground snow. Not even the fluffy, melt-immediately snow. It came down in tiny crystals that rattled in the fallen leaves.

The cold weather meant no one was burning leaves. It was a perfect time to bag up leaves and pick up sticks. I hauled four bags and, with a bungee cord and a steady hand on the trunk, the fallen maple limb to the yard-waste drop-off.

When I said I’d be back with more, the man who runs the site warned me, “Don’t stay out too long. You’ll get soaked.” He’s a local who’s seen more than a few winters.

Sure enough, the snow changed to a thick mix of rain and sleet. By the time I put away the tools, I was drenched. It felt good to change into dry, thick layers and lunch on hot soup.

I made a mental list of accomplishments. The outdoor furniture has been stored. The compost can and the garbage bin have both been moved to their easy-to-reach winter spots. The snow shovel is in the front closet.

But the outdoor faucets need capping. Would suet or seed be better? Both? And this morning, when I stepped onto the cool floor, I remembered: close the crawlspace vents!

Real snow is coming Wednesday or Thursday.

SIDENOTE: The natural gas company sent its monthly report. La Casa de Tontería (aka The House of Nonsense) used 28% less energy (19 therm) than the 100 most efficient homes (26 therm) and much less than comparable houses (43 therm).


Changeable Autumn

If you don’t like the weather, wait five minutes. – saying attributed to various famous people

This week was so cold, the furnace kept turning on. (It’s set at 14 Celsius, 58 Fahrenheit.) My hometown, north and inland, had its first snowstorm. Here at La Casa de Tontería (aka The House of Nonsense), this weekend’s temperature will be in the low 70s (21-22C).

Statue of Little Girl, near Belle River. Even on an overcast day, it’s beautiful.

I love this time of year. It smells and sounds different. The sunlight has become more golden than green as the leaves have changed and fallen. I open the windows more often than in the summer because the temperature, as Goldilocks would say, is “just right.” *

Little Boy statue, not far away. He’s surrounded by variegated-leaf hosta.

*Except in the afternoon on beautiful and warm weekends, when various people burn leaves until the smoke hangs heavy over the entire neighborhood. This is a local custom which I do not understand.

Autumnal Greetings!

Thank you to all you readers who have stuck around despite my long absence. Just a brief update while I wrangle some photos onto my laptop and *fingers crossed* put them into a post this week.

In no particular order, here is current state of affairs:

  • My parents are still alive and doing fairly well. My mother’s cancer, defeated in several places, showed up in another. This week she had a trial run of a treatment that the oncologist will perform later this month.
  • La Casa de Tontería (aka The House of Nonsense) generated its usual seasonal to-do List for me. However, the abandoned next-door house added a variety of garbage- and tree-related tasks. (Note: It’s abandoned, not condemned. When it comes to housing, the Authorities are mucho ruido y pocas nueces. A lot of noise and few nuts.)
  • The Young Human Factory has returned to normal. Really. I keep waiting for emotional breakdowns, fisticuffs in the hallway, or a state-mandated return to masks. But so far, so good.
  • After reaching the halfway mark of my final draft, I realized boy-protagonist has a story-driving need unmentioned in the beginning chapters. Real writers say that one should note the change and continue as if it’s already been made. However, I’m a dilletante or possibly a luddite.

Going Old-School: Meal-planning

The first harvest from my lawn

I finally used dandelions in place of store-bought greens. It came about the usual way: An online discussion of gardens segued to cooking and then to family recipes using whatever is on hand. (Or underfoot.)

Wild leeks, burdock, and easily-identified safe mushrooms are unavailable in my region. But dandelions? There’s a PLETHORA of those.

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Evening Squirrels

A second batch of “babies” have left their mother’s care, but not each other. They gather, play, and snuggle in my yard. They found an old drey in the maple; at least three of them had an instinct to improve it with thatch from my lawn. They don’t all fit, but even biggest one has chosen overnight spots on nearby limbs.

Spring Cleaning and Clearing

The garden is slowly, slowly coming along. Weeds, especially creeping charlie, loved the excessive rain last summer. I peeled back some of the fabric in the back yard, simply because the mulch was riddled with weeds.

I have moved 1/3 of the daylilies from the dark plot between the oaks to the back garden near the chain-link fence. I broke up the shade-loving sedum from two of the small pots and moved them to openings between the trees.

This weekend, I bought a new electric mower.

I liked my previous mower, a Toro with a Briggs & Stratton motor. It was multifunctional and started easily. However, it filled half the shed and was too heavy to easily maneuver up/down the step. Last weekend, Big Bro and my youngest nephew picked it up.

I tried the new mower. Wow! It’s so quiet and the bagger works even better than the old one.

Garden Update

It’s snowing. Detroit Metro expected 2-3 inches by midnight. I’m glad it didn’t arrive until after Thanksgiving.

It’s the sort of snow that is compact and just wet enough to stick to blades of grass and outdoor furniture. Concrete and asphalt retain enough heat to stay clear.

Today was allotted for putting away the porch furniture, which I did.

Planting the crocus bulbs in front yard went well; the backyard, no. I thought the guy on the parallel street would stay indoors instead of burning yet more leaves.

He started a burn-pile next to the road and went back inside. Smoke all over my backyard; those crocuses went into the porch-pot with the mums. Here’s hoping it will be a pretty display in the spring.

With the layer of snow and wilted leaves, all the flaws of the garden become clear: Sinkholes, mole-mounds, and invasive plants that were hidden by invited guests. I’ve sure got a lot of work for 2022!

Fall Already?

For the last two weeks, the maple in the back yard has been dropping leaves. It’s accelerating now. Sadly, I can’t see the colors through the greenery below, but the fallen leaves are spectacularly red and yellow this year.

Peak color is two weeks off, by my reckoning, but storms are coming later this week. Saturday was warm, sunny, and breezy – in other words, a perfect autumn day.

Decked out for Fall.

I ran errands in the morning and swung by Marine City, where I spent a couple hours just enjoying the sights. My favorite coffee shop has already started serving pumpkin spice latte (with nondairy creamer!). It was a nice treat made sweeter by meeting an older couple who chatted with me outdoors for a while.

Afterwards, I came home and tore up the garden.

The neighborhood varmints ate half my zucchini. Literally. They ate the bottom half and left the tops to rot on the vine. Imagine reaching to pick a beautiful squash and feeling it squish between your fingers because inside the skin is nothing but rotten mush. Curse you, cute but destructive rodents! I picked whatever was intact, no matter the size or color.

The delicata, a winter squash, had withered from the roots outward, giving no more nourishment. Normally I’d leave them out to harden, but I couldn’t chance the squirrels. The cherry tomatoes were various shades of green, but gardening friends assured me that if I put them in a paper bag and let them sit, they’ll ripen in a few days.

I spent several hours pulling vines, pulling weeds they’d been hiding, and cutting off the remains of flowering plants. Everything was stuffed into three bags for the community compost.

This week I’ll do the more onerous tasks: transplanting flowers, digging up and resetting pavers, and landscaping the now-empty ground around the shed.