Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Garden :: Grows!

 Beans, yellow squash, zucchini, pumpkins, strawberries....

Not pictured: tomatoes, spinach, kale...all growing just out of the line of sight from these photos.

Gardening for me is at once a leap of faith, confirmation of the physical laws of the universe, irrefutable botanical science, and yet a completely magical and mysterious process.

The fact that each of these things was a seed, mere potential, not four weeks ago? Plus the fact that these have grown by no less than 35% in the few days since I took these pictures, standing barefoot in my backyard?  This plus that equal awe, every single time. It never gets old.

On Father's Day we had dinner at my mom's house. Standing in her garden, troubleshooting tomato death, marveling at her beans and the way the hummingbird sage starts I propogated from the native  beauty in my front yard are now so huge they need to be transplanted...AGAIN...I could very nearly feel the thread that connects me to her through the roots of those plants, and then through her, connecting both of us to my grandmother.

One thing I'm pretty sure Grandma Dot never asked my mother to do, however, is hop into a 50 gallon garbage bin and jump up and down on it (holding onto the eave of the garage for balance) to make room for a final bag of garbage. That crazy is so patently Mother that I couldn't help but remember the time she had dad's gray bomber truck loaded sky high with pruned branches from, among other things, a dozen rose bushes ambling around her property. When she ask me and my brother to hop in the back to "pack it in", my brother raised his eyebrows at me and shook his head ever so slightly. Thank you, no he seemed to be saying. 

He's been in every kind of pickle imaginable because of that woman, so I didn't question turn, I thought to myself.  I climbed on the edge of the truck bed using the wheel hubs as a makeshift step ladder and scooted toward the cab. With one hand on the top of the truck, and my left foot planted on the edge of the bed, I toed my right foot around until I found my footing and I lept onto the top of the branches. It was no less than a 40 inch vertical leap, and I can't remember exactly what I was thinking when I fell through the tower of branches, cracking and snapping my way as I plunged hip deep into the thorny wood that scratched and gouged first my ankles, then my knees, and finally my thighs...but I'm pretty sure it was something like GODDIZZLE.

My brother shook his head and gave me a (not unkind) I told you so look before my mom started nagging at me that I need to do more I hadn't packed it in  enough and there's plenty of room just start jumping. So I did what I can only hope my own kids do one day...I started jumping.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Crafty :: Quilt

 I'm finishing up the binding on the quilt I'm making. It's sewn in long strips first, alternating squares and rectangles. I'm following the process from Randy's Quilt Along Series, in which I made this quilt, originally. I needed a much bigger blanket, so I followed the same process but made much larger squares and rectangles. The original is 3.5 x 3.5 inch squares with 3.5 x 7.5 inch rectangles. This one is 4.5 x 4.5 inch squares with 4.5 x 10.5 inch rectangles.

Squares and rectangles alternate along in each row, then the rows are placed, replaced, and placed yet again, until it's fairly pleasing and random to the eye. Harder than you might think. Just saying. And because I managed to sew rectangle to rectangle at least three times, I kept the seam ripper quite handy. In this case, it worked out because it helped me make a last minute decision that makes my quilt pattern even more random. Good job, screwin' up.

Once I had the rows in place, and I was quite certain how I wanted them, I used a small piece of painters tape and marked each row, 1 to 20. Which was WAY MORE AWESOME than what I normally do (keep a stack, in order, which never works and I always get turned around and forget which way I was working from).

This system, so you know, is super fantastic. I thought so that first night, when I quickly pinned and sewed the first three rows Bob's your uncle!

I even thought so the next morning, when I woke and pinned and sewed number four to number one  and number seven to number 3. It's a great system. It works if you work it. But, if you are like me, keep that seam ripper nearby. It's my number one must-have tool when sewing. If you think I'm kidding? Needle and thread are numbers 2 and 3, respectively.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012


This year in the garden, I planted seeds instead of starts. I got a late start, too, as most seeds went in over Memorial Day weekend. But whatever! I'm a Thug Gardener, so I am not afraid.
 Pole beans were the last to sprout. I thought maybe they never would. Not that they were outside the 10-14 day germination printed on the package....but tomatoes 
and beans definitely both took their time.

Unlike these warriors. They sprouted in neat rows not four days after I put the seeds in the boxes. This is the first year I've planted greens, and I'm super excited about it all. This is kale, spinach, lettuce, and a fancy mix too. I was telling a couple people this story, so now I guess I can tell you. These two boxes are in partial shade during the day. I was standing around trying to decide if I should dig out the dirt and move them into one of the walkways, away from the shade-giving butterfly bush, so I could plant pole beans in them. At the exact moment I was contemplating this labor-intensive move, I was also lamenting that these seeds I bought (for the kale, spinach, and lettuces) all preferred cooler climes. The box I was considering them in (below, and in full sun for the whole day) was going to be way too hot for them. I thought maybe I'd wait a cycle, and plant them in the shade of the  squashes that would also go in this box.

I guess it took me 25 minutes or so to figure out what you, undoubtedly, already have....and that's how it came to be that the shade-loving greens went into the shady boxes and the sun-loving beans went into the sunny box. 

Mensa called later that day.
Summer squash, zucchini, and lots of pumpkins, plus three rows of pole beans. Everything is happy and growing well. In fact I need to thin them all now, though that wasn't clear when this picture was taken.
A whole plot of cucumbers. Again, everything grew, so I'll need to thin these out. There are five or six growing on each mound, and it's supposed to be 2 or 3, I guess. There are two varieties of cucumbers here...pickling and I think Armenian. I planted a whole box of tomatoes too. I've never regretted having too many cucumbers and too many tomatoes. The neighbors all know they can come into the backyard and take their fill of any and all, so it has never been a problem.

And of course the strawberries are still growing and spreading.

Hopefully, between report cards, quilting, and the end of the school year chaos, I will have a chance to show the front yard herb garden that I've started. Also planted from seeds, also making my heart sing. Oh spring! I love you.

Friday, June 1, 2012

"I'm Order, You're Chaos" ~ Erik to Me, Everyday

 I bought this book, because Tommy is entering middle school next year (the hell?) and he goes to Montessori schools, which means he's in charge of his own learning and project management, to a large extent. We've been all over him about his (blackhole of a) backpack, his (missing) baseball equipment, his (disgusting) desk, and his general (perplexing) lack of time management.
Son, really, I mean, what is wrong with you?

 But then I did some cooking.

And I "cleaned" my backyard.

And I thought to myself....I don't know, maybe I do know what is wrong him.

Great book, by the way.