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.

An Invasion of Arachnids

Last week, I killed three spiders in my bedroom and another yesterday. It is now a bedtime routine: I put on my nightshirt, turn on the TV, and prepare for an hour or so of entertainment. Then a familiar shadow moving on the wall or the doorframe, just enough to draw my attention.

Blammo! with a shoe or a tissue box.

I killed a black marauder (not its name; I don’t know what they are) in the bathroom. It was enjoying a siesta on the paper roll when I reached over… That one ended up going on a flume ride.

A delicate cellar spider died in the shower under mysterious circumstances. (Note: “Mysterious circumstances” connotes “a full-blast faucet and a squeamish bather’s feet.”)

Today I surveyed the garden – the delicata are coming along nicely, but the tomatoes are lazy. Afterwards, I hopped in the car to do some errands. And banded garden spider was hitching a ride on my thigh.

Immediately I jumped out of the car and started doing the Get-Off-of-Me Dance, complete with brushing my pantleg and yelling “Get off me!” (Which is rather silly, because spiders don’t understand English; they speak Italian sotto voce, naturally.) The spider bungee-corded into the grass.

After regaining my composure, I opened the car-door and began sliding behind the wheel…. The unwanted passenger had cleverly moved to the inner side of my pantleg.

Gah!

(Flashback: Biggest Brother mercilessly refusing to kill spiders for me. I thought he was Being Mean. In hindsight, he was like the drill sergeant forcing the new recruits to toughen up and face the enemy head-on. It was For My Own Good.)

I think it’s time for chemical warfare. After all, I can sympathize with spiders craving a bath and a nice place to sleep. But hijacking my car? No.

Saturday Night Check-in

Writing: Meh. I spent a lot of time sorting files, looking for handwritten notes on the next chapter. I have  a LOOOOTTTTT of notes. As a result, only about 1500 original words this week.

Work: Two weeks after the contractual end of the year, The Factory finally closed for two months. I’ll be heading back early. The second week of August is a training session in, ironically, Kagan Cooperative Learning.  So far, the CDC guidelines for reopening schools don’t allow students to be facing each other and advises that social distancing be maintained in the classroom.

Garden: A single radish plant has supplied me with three harvests of seedpods. The first squash blossoms have appeared – on the plants grown from the last-minute seeds carelessly tossed into a sinkhole, naturally. A dearth of landscape fabric forced me to use cardboard boxes as weed-block around the shed, which looks terrible but can’t be helped.

La Casa de Tontería: Inside, the house looks like a cyclone hit. I returned the last box of work material to The Factory, except for two boxes of reading materials I purchased to supplement a class. This weekend, I’m tidying and deep-cleaning – a real chore.

Mindful Spending: I was privately messaged about this, but a blog-answer is best. I stopped posting monthly updates because the Shutdown changed the cost and availability of everything. Not to mention a new category of expenses appeared: working-from-home. I begin July anew.

 

 

Radishes in bloom

Yes, I’m well-aware that before going to seed, garden plants bloom. I battle the rhubarb every year, breaking off five to eight fist-sized blossoms before they can open. And the chives, like other alliums, boast spheres that attract bees.

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Rhubarb flower

But I had no idea that red radishes have pretty flowers. Looky! Two of the salvaged salad leftovers are going to seed. When I told a real-life gardener, she said the flowers were edible and the seedpods before they get “woody.” But I’m going to enjoy them as they are.

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DIY Writer’s Retreat: Not as Planned

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The first zucchini sprouts

Before I planted vegetables (and a melon!) in my garden, I planned. Some plants, like radishes, required containers to prevent ground-pests worming their way in. Others, like squash (and melon!) needed room to sprawl.

Unfortunately, I had forgotten a seed-packet of zucchini which I bought last year.  After I planted it, I had a leftover of a different breed.*  There were no more open,  sunlit spaces with clearance all around… Continue reading

Volunteer Columbines

It’s hard to believe that theses beauties came from one scrawny plant that sprang out of the daylilies a friend brought me. And I nearly “weeded” it out!

In the background is two-thirds the front of La Casa de Tontería. The windows are my “office” (blinds drawn) and the guestroom. To the left is the short porch which runs the length of the living room and entryway.

Spring Unfurls

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The maple buds began unfurling Saturday morning and reached this stage by midday.

On Saturday, for the first time since the shutdown, I had visitors. A former student and her husband bought a house that has a “blank canvas” landscape. Having daffodils to spare, I dug some up (plus chives, the incongruous grape hyacinth* and yellow crocuses).

I was expecting her in the afternoon. I was NOT expecting her mother nor her sister, both of whom became my dear friends during a school trip to Madrid and Paris.

It was a delightful ambush!

For their part, the youngest girl was surprised to find I lived in that house. She said, “My friends and I used to drive past here on the way to their house, and I always thought it was the cutest little house.”  Sometime post-shutdown, she wants a tour.

Because they are a family of green thumbs, the talk was lively and bounced from topic to topic.** The garden is a work very much in progress, so it was fun to have other eyes notice things both good (radish sprouts) and bad (glass and cement patches left by the shed construction crew).


*aka muscari – thank you, Brenda, for the information.

** At one point, there was a disagreement over how to handle snakes one finds in the garden. One of the girls pulled out her phone to show me a photographic proof that, yes, she knew the correct way to hold a garter snake.

The Volunteer

When I first moved into La Casa de Tontería (aka The House of Nonsense), my parents gave me bulbs from their own garden in the north. Most didn’t make it.

Squirrels dug up and ate some. The bearded iris couldn’t thrive in different soil. My beautiful milk-chocolate tulips grew scraggly and dwindled to one, which disappeared under the transplanted hostas.

The dahlias were a horror story. I wintered them inside as usual, but when I tried to replant them, they were mushy and crawling with white, half-worm, half-millipede things.

And then there are the grape hyacinths. They grew along the wall just outside the front door of my childhood home. Every spring their purple crowns would rise through the blah landscape and their long, narrow leaves curled like ribbon.

They didn’t die off after the move to La Casa de Tontería, but they turned cranky like a relative who refuses to be satisfied with any accommodations. Put them in a garden: meh. Transplant them to a pot: fine, if we must.

I let them go and planted other things, only to discover they love the lawn.

The jerks.

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ADDENDUM: A former student came to get some of my over-multiplying daffodils and chives. I offered her it and she accepted.