sarahmichelef: (Default)
Last week C said to me, offhandedly, "we're going berry picking on Sunday if you want to come" and I said sure, thinking you know... an hour, maybe two, bring some berries home, and then later we could go play minigolf like TRex had decided we needed to for Father's day.  (Because Froggy does, you see.)

I forgot who we were going with. C had said that they were picking at 11 so I called her to find out the details at about 10. She said, "We're leaving in 15 minutes." I asked, "Where in the hell are we going that it's going to take 45 minutes to get there?" The answer, it turned out, was Coulter Farms in Lockport. Rather than her trying to give us directions, we decided just to meet at their house and follow them.  The plan was that B was going to meet all of us there having gotten there on his bike (the long way... because it may be far but it's not 60 miles from here to Lockport!)  It ended up being us, C&B and the kids, 2 sets of their friends (4 parents & 3 kids) and B's sister and her husband. We picked (and ate) oodles of strawberries and sugar snap peas, and ate nearly as many as we picked I think (like you do). And then we rode the tractor to another set of fields and picked and ate some more. All told I think we were at the farm for 2 or 2 1/2 hours.

berry girls

And then it was decided that we needed lunch, so we followed C again, this time to
Brickyard BBQ
in Lewiston, were fortunately there was seating on the patio because the five kids who were there were going a little crazy running around. We were there until about 3:30... TRex fell asleep in the car on the way home and M and I took advantage of the chance to get some major trimming of trees and shrubs done (including him up on the garage roof cutting back the neighbor's maple tree that was serving as an ant superhighway). And then we had salads for dinner, which included both strawberries and sugar snap peas. Of course.

sarahmichelef: (Default)
We put in our gardens yesterday. We'd broken up most of the soil with the hand tiller over the past week and then hit Lowe's yesterday morning to pick out plants. We already had tomatoes and a couple of sad bell peppers that we'd started in the frankengreenhouse to transfer over to the veggie patch.

Shoshanna's GardenTRex declared ages ago that she wanted polka-dot plants - we had some in our annual bed last year and they fried because we didn't realize how much shade the neighbors' pine had given the back yard until it was gone. Hers is much more shady, though, so they should do fine there. She wanted pansies again but we couldn't find any, so we put in some impatiens (which I cannot find a useful link for) and some orange marigolds along the very front where they'll get the most sun. The white blooming groundcover is montana sandwort that we put in 2 years ago... the second one (which was in the opposite corner) died after the first season; that one is going to take over the whole bed eventually, which is fine - it's very pretty.

My annual bed has red petunias and yellow/orange celosia which I will insist on calling "fire plants" because that's what the blooms look like to me. Those alternate around the edge... I am completely haphazard in my plant selection and placement, and yet it always comes out OK. I really do just go into the garden store, buy whatever appeals to me on that day, and go with it. So I was going to fill out the rest with marigolds but then we had more good tomato seedlings than we had room for in the veggie garden (which has 4 tomato seedlings with marigold friends, a hell of a lot of huge garlic, the two bell pepper plants that sprouted successfully, and I put in 3 zucchini seeds yesterday) so now there are marigolds and 2 tomato plants back there as well. Did I mention that the center of this bed is daffodils and some other late-blooming perennial whose name I can never remember?

We are for sure expanding the vegetable patch for next year, probably to include some herbs. M is quite obsessed with growing chives. We just didn't want to bite off too much this year.

Getting Rollin'In other news, we bought M a new bike and TRex a tagalong bike yesterday. She was terrified of it at first, but now all she wants to do is tool around the neighborhood on her trailer bike.  Her legs are JUST BARELY long enough to reach the pedals - it's a 20" wheel and the charts all claim that those are for kids 48" and taller, which she soooo is not (to say nothing of most of her height being in her torso).  But she can hang on and pedal when we need her to help get moving from a dead stop, so it's all good.
sarahmichelef: (Default)
We put up tomato and bell pepper seeds in peat pots this weekend. With DST coming so early, or living room is now VERY sunny in the afternoons, so they will get plenty of light in there. Our house is decidedly NOT 70-80 degrees, though. Clearly they needed a way of trapping heat. Enter... the FrankenGreenhouse! I call it Franken-Greenhouse Mom gets credit for saying "You could use saran wrap to make a small greenhouse"; M gets credit for thinking of using wire hangers for the frame, and I implemented those ideas.  It's a large plant tray (you know, the kind you put under a pot) with five stretched wire hangers attached to the side with duct tape.  Then I laid lengths of plastic wrap over the whole thing, sticking it to the bottom of the tray with duct tape and convincing it to stick to itself around the sides and top.  There's one panel that's easy to peel off to get in there to water the pots.

Stay tuned... if it's actually working, we should start seeing sprouts in about a week!

sarahmichelef: (Default)
Our perennials are confuuuuuuuused.  They didn't get the memo that the low tonight is in the single digits and it's not supposed to break freezing until Wednesday of this week; they're starting to come up.  I have seen shoots of crocus and daffodil - and it's not just old plantings, or the ones that tried to come up a second time this fall, either - some ones that are coming up are bulbs that I put in new this year.  The garlic that is anchoring our vegetable garden hasn't started, though.  Hopefully they will weather what remains of the winter all right.

(Speaking of - can anybody believe that Daylight Savings Time starts NEXT WEEK?)
sarahmichelef: (crazy)
 I thought of it as we backed out the driveway this morning.

So... the spring after the October Surprise Storm (remember the one that knocked out our power for a week?) the city came through and took out the big tall tree that was on the west side of the house (in the easement, therefore their problem).  At the time (spring 2006), we got a notice that they would come through to grind the stump... sometime.

Fast forward one year, to spring 2007.  The stump is still there, looking shrubby because the tree is trying as hard as it can to come back.  We refuse to do anything with it because it's the city's responsibility, and really, it's a good landmark to tell people trying to find the house.  The neighbors across the street lost their big pine tree in February and at some point the city comes by and removes that stump.  I ask Lolly and she says that she called the city and reminded them about it.  Shortly after that, oodles of stump-grinding equipment comes through the neighborhood, little flags are put up marking the various wires and pipes underground, and all the stumps disappear except 

So M calls the city.  The mayor has set up this special phone number that you're supposed to call about things like this (or potholes - he claims that all potholes will be filled w/in 24 hours of being reported) and that's what he called.  And nothing happened for about a month.  Then, late last week it must have been, there was fresh paint around some of the flags.

And then, Wednesday, we came home and there was no more stump.  NO MORE STUMP!  They spread grass seed but there's been no watering of it.  We were kind of thinking we might turn it into a perennial bed, or at least part of it.  We probably will put in some bulbs there this fall, if we get time.
sarahmichelef: (Default)
I have a big list in my notebook of things I want to blog about, but I keep not doing it.  So instead I'll tell you about what we've been doing in the house & the garden.

We are still trying to chase down the mystery leak from the upstairs shower.  The plumber (new plumber, who is SO through an cautious and determined to figure out what in the heck is going on) thinks he's got all the plumbing-related problems licked, so now we have to do everything we can to keep water from getting out of the tub, because we're quite certain that it's getting down through the floor somewhere, probably right in the little corner where the wall, floor, and tub meet.  He suggested a bigger shower curtain and I decided we should also add a splash guard.  So yesterday we acquired TWO 72"x72" shower curtains and hung them both with 50% curtain overlap (and, clever me, the seam between them facing the back of the tub) and added the splash guard.  Haven't tested it yet because the adhesive on the guard needed 24 hours to cure before use and I'm not inclined to skimp on that, given the consequences.  If this solves the problem, Pat the Plumber will send someone back to close up the hole in the study ceiling and then we'll have to paint it.

We're also getting ready to winterize the house.  Last weekend when we went to buy Seal 'N Peel at Lowe's they looked at us like we were crazy, as if no such thing had ever existed.  Tried Home Depot this weekend, similar reaction.  We decided to try at Valu as well and lo and behold, despite them looking at us and going, "removable caulk?  I've never seen any such thing", we found it (it's a different brand, but the same stuff).  So yay, we bought three tubes and that should do us for the winter, and if not - we know where to get it.

Last weekend we did a bunch of mulching as well as ripping out of M's and my annual garden.  Last weekend and this, TRex and I put in a bunch of crocuses along the border in M's and my garden (we ultimately want it to be all perennials) and in a couple of other places, as well as pulling out a mess of weeds under the shrubberies in the backyard and mulching under there.  Then today when TRex really REALLY wanted to dig and was very mad when we wouldn't let her dig up all the crocus bulbs that we had just put in.  So we moved on to the next project: beginning to break ground for the vegetable garden we're putting in next spring.  Currently TRex wants to plant bell peppers, tomatoes, and cucumbers.  We'll see what we actually do and how much produce we actually get come spring.  M broke the sod for the outline of a plot about 6'x3' in the side yard, and then extracted about 1/3 of the sod from the interior of it.  TRex and I crumbled dirt out of the grass roots and then later moved the cut sod to the side of the house where we need some back-fill.  Later this afternoon, while I was making dinner, TRex and M spent quite a bit of time playing pirates and digging for buried treasure in there, so the 1/3 of it where the sod is broken has been well churned up.  The plan is to finish breaking up the sod over the next while and then dig in some compost and put in some garlic around the edges this fall.
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It is threatening to be fall here... needing a light jacket in the mornings; today I have on woolen trousers and long sleeves and I have not been swelteringly hot (though it was too warm for my awesome baby-blue trenchcoat by the time I left the gym at 10 am).  Somehow I manage to be surprised twice a year to re-discover that the winter->spring and summer -> fall transitions are my favorite "seasons".

We have a bunch of projects going on around the house. 
  • The bleeping leak in the second floor bathroom came back AGAIN and we threw our hands up and called a new plumber.  He took a look and discovered that there's a blown gasket on the drain overflow thingy at the very least - they're coming to cut up the ceiling, take a closer look, and fix it tomorrow.  That means that tonight M and I will be moving the bulk of the resident electronics (printer, my iBook, his old laptop, the video camera) to safer ground tonight and probably also the books that are scattered all over the place.  This is in anticipation of re-arranging the room in a way that will make it a less-private guest room but a better-functioning study (including, possibly, a networked printer, yay!).  And, sorry houseguests, but our daily use trumps your occasional use.
  • We are doing a very thorough weeding and mulching of all of the garden spaces.  On Labor Day, I planted a bunch of crocuses and 15 hyacinths for next spring.
  • Last night I did the final sanding on the drywall repair in the laundry room/future playroom and we have paint chips hanging on the wall in there so we can assess color choices.  If TRex had her way it would be a very mardi-gras room; the carpet is a kind of neutral green (more or less this color) and she does want it to be purple.  We are going to oblige her in that wish, but she is not getting the deepest purple on the paint chips like she wants.  I think it might be fun to do an accent wall in one of the slightly deeper shades, but I'm not sure M will be down with that.  Even if I do, it will be something of darkness number 2 on the card.  I am gravitating towards the cooler purple tones due to the green carpet.
I had other things I wanted to say but I forget them now.  Oh well.  Back to thinking about how bloggers define "private".
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Still Alive

May. 6th, 2008 02:58 pm
sarahmichelef: (Default)
In bullet list form...
  • Spent 7 to 7.5 hours yesterday cleaning the house.  Am only about half done.  But ZOMG the bathrooms are extra-shiny and we have clean sheets & mattress pads and I even rotated our mattress all by myself.
  • Super Sekrit Projekt going well, very amusing to me.  More to come upon its completion.
  • Put in plastic garden border this weekend.  TRex LOOOOVES worms.  Loves them, is very gentle with them, moves them from the dirt we just dug up to our perennial bed and then covers them with more dirt.
  • That 100 bulbs for ten bucks box I bought at Aldi?  Totally worth it.  Hopefully this weekend will be lovely so we can do some planting.
  • CF light bulbs are cheaper at Aldi than at Target.  PSA and all that.
  • TRex has eczema, not some other bizarro rash, so yay.  Also, 35 pounds according to the ped's scale.
  • Swimming gets less annoying every time I do it.  But oh, freestyle kills me ded.  And I do need different goggles... no matter what I do, the minute I start to freestyle they fill right up.  And I was very averse to pool water in my eyes even before I wore contacts.
  • I think it says something about my fitness level that I'm planning to go for a "short" run today.  Y'know, only a mile and a half.  But, woe, my iPod is out of battery-juice and I didn't have the cable in my bag, so I will be running with ENVIRONMENTAL NOIZE!
  • Final exam Thursday.  Have spent most of today doing the administrative nonsense that goes with it.  Now administrative nonsense is all done.
  • Hooray for webcams and skype, they mean I get to actually SEE Sam instead of just typing at her.
  • Per the cleaning spree... I have two things warring within me.  Thing 1: being thrifty/eco-conscious and not throwing things away willynilly.  Thing 2: decluttering, which means occasionally throwing away things that might have been repurposed.
My miscellanea gun, she is out of bullets.  In conclusion, I give you a macro in search of a picture.
My mind, you haz blowed it.
sarahmichelef: (Default)

What a difference six hours makes
(Same daffodil, shot six hours apart today.)
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M's parents were here...  lots of playing outside because it was BEAUTIFUL.  Our bulbs that we planted in the fall are sprouting like crazy, and we discovered that the ones we didn't get time to plant in the fall were sprouting in their box so I spent half an hour or 45 minutes this afternoon getting them in the ground - either they'll grow or they won't, but either way it's no loss - if they grow, great, if not, oh well.  Our back garden is FULL of earthworms - which TRex thought were very cool (in the fall she wasn't sure what to make of them) and she even sang "the worm song" to one of them.  Tomorrow it's supposed to be lovely again so I will be running outside, yay!
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Let's see...  Went to Yom Kippur services (kids' services) yesterday and generally lazed around the house otherwise (TRex rejected watching The Little Mermaid in favor of Cinderella for the 700th time).  M did the full 24 hour (more like 25 or 26 - about 3 too long for his body - by the time we had dinner, actually) fast, I did about 9 hours.  [profile] rapierlady and Bill came over to break the fast and we all had a pleasant meal.

Friday afternoon and today we all spent a bit of time gardening - I picked up a big box of mixed bulbs during the week and we put in some drumsticks, tulips, and grape hyacinth in the front yard on Friday, and an arrangement of drumsticks and daffodils in the backyard this afternoon.  TRex is a very good bulb-planting assistant - she loves to drop in the bulbs and then cover them over.  She keeps asking us, "Is it spring yet?" and we explain that no, it's fall now and then comes winter and after that is spring and that's when these flowers will come up.  The area where we were planting today was ... challenging.  It had been under weed-control paper and hadn't had anything planted in it for I don't know how long.  The dirt was very, very packed and quite rocky.  We mixed in some bagged garden mix to help it out.

I was down another pound this week, so yay.  And I'm madly analyzing early data for the AoIR paper - the goal is for Mark and I to each have a rough draft of our sections by Tuesday.  So I'm analyzing and then will be writing.  And I think the gym isn't going to happen tomorrow in the interest of getting that done, since I won't have much time on Tuesday.  TRex turns THREE on Tuesday.  Good lord, how did THAT happen?

Back to the data.
sarahmichelef: (Default)
Well, we ended up going with the trash-can-compost-bin method, and acquired the thing today.  For an outlay of under $20 and half an hour in Lowe's, we now have a compost bin.  A compost bin that's already a quarter full!  Hopefully stuff will start decomposing fast.  TRex is very excited about the "fruit salad" that we're making for the plants (we explained to her that we can take the trash and turn it into dirt for the plants - the fruit salad connection was all her) and was mad when we couldn't put it on them right away.  I explained to her that it's springtime food for the plants.  "Is it springtime now?"  "No, sweetie, it's fall.  After fall comes winter, and after that it will be spring."

And cooking tonight... old stand-bys.  Humble Vegetable Casserole (from The Enchanted Broccoli Forest) and Lentils Ole.  Tomorrow I'll be grilling up chicken for peanut sesame noodles.  Dinner was yummy, too - bean burritos, corn, and green beans.  TRex was my sous-chef for the green beans - I had her put them into the pot as I trimmed them.  (Hooray for jobs to give the kid so she doesn't whine that you're not paying enough attention to her!)
sarahmichelef: (Default)
It's become more and more obvious to me over the past several years that I simply adore the transitional seasons.  The first day that you drive around with the windows down, the first day when you walk out in the morning and can feel that little bite in the air.  THAT morning was this morning... it was 53 degrees when we left the house, just cool enough to want a light jacket, and the air felt ... clean.

As I drove downtown to take TRex to school, there was a CRAZY cloudbank over the lake and the river (to the south and to the west).  I suppose I will eventually get used to the strange weather patterns that the lake causes, but it hasn't happened yet.

And so my mind moves to fall things.  We're going to take some or all of the coleus out of TRex's garden and pot it.  I REALLY want to get the compost pile at least constructed this fall - I have a mental plan for it but need to buy the lumber and hardware and secure the loan of a circular saw (I'm quite certain SOMEONE in the Barony will have one that they'll be willing to let me use for a weekend).  Though the idea of just using a big trash can with a locking lid, at least until we have more garden, is sounding better and better, so maybe we'll just do that.  Instant gratification and all that.
sarahmichelef: (Default)
It has been dry, dry, dry here all summer.  Our grass is brown and miserable - the gardens are happy, but only because of dliigent watering instigated by TRex (because what toddler DOESN'T love to water?).  When we've had rain, it's been a bit here, a bit there.  We are strongly resistant to watering the lawn because it's such a waste of water - so we've probably only given it a good soaking 3 or 4 times over the last 2 months.  A couple of more localized ones when we did double-duty with kid entertainment and watering.

Today, though, it's RAINING.  Not drizzling, not the odd thunderstorm that puts on a big show but doesn't drop much in the way of precip.  It's been at LEAST drizzling all day, with a couple of periods of good, hard rain thrown in for good measure.  The lawns will be happy.  And maybe some of the Japanese beetles will drown for good measure.

In other news, but not enough to warrant its own post, it takes for bloody EVER to iron 11 yards of 60" fabric.  Just sayin'.
sarahmichelef: (Default)
I was talking to M on the phone a bit ago and happened to wander by the living room window.  I counted easily a dozen japanese beetles on the shrubberies.  TRex and I will be heading out to buy beetle pheromone when she wakes up from her nap, oh yes we will.
sarahmichelef: (Default)
We gave the shrubberies a haircut.  A really serious haircut.  The ornamental cherry is about 2/3 of its former self, and much less scraggly and uneven; M pulled down the vines that were climbing the house and did a bunch of other pruning.  Bound up the big sticks and stashed them next to the house.  M also almost finished pulling out the violets that were threatening to take over the pachysandra on the side of the house.  I saved a handful and have them in a cup in water in hopes of rooting them and turning them into a houseplant.

 I also want to do some research on taking cuttings of rhodedendrons.  We have one in the back yard that's not doing well and I'd like to maybe move it or get a cutting started to put one in someplace else.  (Oooh... there's a shrub by the back porch that's dying & needs to be taken out... maybe we could put a rhody there!)

Our astilbe are going like crazy, and will be blooming within the week.  And the swamp plants (we can't remember what they're called) are at least as big as they got last year - a good 2', maybe 2 1/2 (they're about 4' at maturity).  TRex's garden is going like crazy, too.  The coleus are doing really well; the gerberas are done but still pretty and green, and the begonias are begonia-like.
sarahmichelef: (Default)
We are going to be such homeowners this weekend... We have big plans.  Here we go...
  • Sand & paint front stoop
  • (maybe) sand & stain front door
  • Plant TRex's garden (I am SO looking forward to that part)
  • Hook & eye on bathroom door
  • Mow lawn (needs it desperately - but will have to wait 'til Sunday 'cause I dropped what little weed-n-feed we had left yesterday evening and we want to let it work)
Tonight we (mostly M, actually) fixed the doorknob to the downstairs bathroom - the lock was finicky and we kept having to unlock it from the outside since TRex's favorite game right now is slamming doors in our faces.  So we swapped out the plate (where the lock was) and tightened up the knob so it will actually, y'know, work.  But now that there's no lock, we need a way to keep it shut, hence the hook & eye.
sarahmichelef: (OMG!)
And it's because I post really random lists of things.
  1. WalkAmerica was brilliant.  [profile] marajade648 flew in to walk with us, as I've mentioned previously, which was awesome.  Friday night her plane was 2 hours late so it was after 1 am before I got to bed.  Saturday the weather was gross so we went out for breakfast and then generally hung around the house.  Oh, and we went to a new Indian restaurant for dinner.  I thought the chana masala was lovely; M and marajade were less impressed with the dosa fillings.  TRex happily munched on a veggie burger and some of my rice.
  2. I have sent in TRex's preschool registration for the fall.  Eep!
  3. I am sitting on the porch in the sunshine.  I love this.
  4. Our summer is already looking crazy, so crazy that we're having a hard time figuring out a weekend that we can go to M's parents'.  How is that even possible?  Already on the calendar (starting with Memorial Day weekend):
    • A trip to Ghent for M
    • A trip to San Diego for M
    • Me teaching Internet & Society
    • My parents coming to visit (overlapping with the Ghent trip)
    • SCA events: Aethelmearc 10 Year, Brass Ring Thing, and Baronial Championships.  And Pennsic, of course.
    • [profile] greydora coming to visit over 4th of July.
    • My parents getting a cabin on Lake Chautauqua for the second week in July.
    • TRex going to Camp Grandma while we're at Pennsic.
  5. I am applying for a doctoral colloquium / workshoppy thing for AoIR.  I am pleased to discover that I can crib the vast majority of the  application statement (which is the entirety of the application) from my dissertation prospectus.
  6. We got notice from the city that they will be taking down one of the trees in our easement.  Don't know for sure which one, though.
  7. Hope to plant TRex's garden this weekend.  A couple of weeks ago she asked me for her very own garden to "plant my own plants" and "water wif my own watering can" and we're going to oblige her on this request.  She's already very proud of the cleared spot where we're going to put the plants.  I need to do a bit of research on what will work well in that area.
  8. We were quite sure that the plants we put in last spring had not suvived the October storm.  Happily, we were wrong, and 3/4 of them are coming back very strongly.  Also, our cherry tree is in full bloom.
  9. The plumbing problem that we had in November came back.  It's fixed now, hopefully permanently.  Soon, you will get to hear about our adventures in patching drywall.  With luck, this will result in neither homicide nor divorce.
  10. I feel like once I've got nine items in a list, I need to add SOMETHING to get it to a nice round number.  So this last one is utterly devoid of content.


Jul. 16th, 2006 09:41 pm
sarahmichelef: (OMG!)
We went out and bought a Japanese beetle trap Friday evening. That thing WORKS. We were SWARMED by beetles as soon as we opened the bait. SWARMED. The bag is now about half full - many of the critters are still alive in there. This afternoon I stood and counted SEVEN beetles fall into the trap in approximately thirty seconds.

So gross.

But it's gonna save our shrubs.


Jul. 11th, 2006 01:40 pm
sarahmichelef: (Default)
originally uploaded by sarahmichelef.
Poor shrubberies... they've been attacked by Japanese beetles. Must acquire traps to get rid of them.


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