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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Project Complete: Reindeer Glasses-Holder

This project grew from disparate things:

  1. Paint pens from a going-out-of-business sale
  2. A badly-painted “freebie” Christmas decoration
  3. An online ad for an outrageously-priced eyeglasses holder
  4. Recurring incidents of “lost” or knocked-around glasses

     

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    Christmas decoration (after removing plastic wreath from neck).

Despite lumps of epoxy and nicks in the paint, it had promise. Its weighted legs meant it wasn’t going to fall over when I bumped the nightstand, and its well-felted feet meant no worries about setting it on furniture. 

It was a perfect project for brain-frying quarantine, particularly during the dreary days of flooding rain. I  laid out junkmail flyers on the table next to my daily workspace. Between bouts of staring at the screen,  I played around with the paint pens.

It took me roughly four weeks to finish. 

Voila! A deer for all seasons. 

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.

Covid Cooking

My friends, M’e the Fashionista in particular, have been sharing recipes to try during the stay-at-home order. Unfortunately, they tend to have unavailable ingredients like flour and cream.

My recent foray into the grocery store consisted of buying eggs and searching the discount meat bin. Finding a package of beer brats for $2.24 means I have something tasty to add to the usual frozen vegetables (zucchini, green beans, and peppers, usually).*

Mostly I make do with whatever is in the cupboard, whether it’s canned salmon or a jar of pickled peppers. My current favorite dessert combines the following ingredients:

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First, make the instant oatmeal, and then add pumpkin and chopped nuts to taste. Easy peasy.


* Yes, I’m still following the plan of The Year of Mindful Spending. It’s ironic that I’ve spent more on books since the shutdown – children’s books for The Young Humans, most of whom had never read Treasure Island, Call of the Wild, or other classics.

Rockin’ Robin

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This mutant robin has territory on a main drag in the nearby town. Because the roads are mostly traffic-free, I managed to snap its picture after several attempts. Its condition is leucism, a lack of pigment in feathers.

North American robins – aka Turdus migratorius aka Wandering pooper* – have returned en masse to Michigan.  They boldly hop across the deck while I’m lunching, They investigate the sod I’ve overturned – while I’m in the middle of planting hostas. They scold me as I refill the birdbath.

Of course, they make up for it by being harbingers of warmer weather. They also sing, “chuckle” and chirp: three sounds for the price of one!

They will, no doubt, return to their milder manners after they’ve finished fighting each other over territory and started building nests.

Or I am doomed to be bossed around by birdbrains!


*Not the real translation of the Latin scientific name, although it CERTAINLY is “in the vulgar.”

The Garden Beckons…

There is a sinkhole in the backyard, a spot where the previous owners removed a dead oak. I used to pour sand into the holes that formed as the roots rotted beneath the sod.

Later I paid a tree-cutter to take down a gnarly young oak and grind down the stump. Now its subterranean decay creates a natural cistern. Last autumn, I poured out a nearly-full bag of soil into it and spread grass seeds over top.

The grass hasn’t appeared yet, but the nutrient-rich soil brought out dormant crocuses: bright yellow and waxy purple. Even if it snows again, these hardy harbingers of spring are here.

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“I’m back! Spring is here!”

The Accidental Stockpiler

One of my brothers joked about people stockpiling toilet paper because of coronavirus. It’s absurd because TP is produced in the US and Canada, not overseas. It’s even less understandable than buying up all the dust masks in the land.

I laughed, then I thought about it: how much toilet paper do I have?  Chain pharmacies offer me limited-time discounts and use-as-cash coupons. Whenever they do,  I buy staples like laundry soap, bleach, toothpaste….

Also, when the regional Kmart went out of business this fall and I had to use my “points,” I bought a package…. or was it two?

Well, I checked. I have three unopened 12-roll packs in the linen closet!

Good grief.