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This is my own little soapbox. Disclaimer: It is not written by someone you think you know, but by her evil twin. Absolutely nothing said here is true. Everything, including the last statement, is a complete work of fiction. This blog is completely b

Updated: 2018-03-06T07:49:23.374-06:00


You Win Some, You Lose Some


Turns out if you put a whole bunch of full yard waste bins around a stump, they'll take the stump as yard waste too. (I was kind of getting fond of that stump... there goes the idle plan to buy a fire pit and have a yule-log style bonfire. Oh well... I don't need a fire pit.)

At least, the hook didn't fall out of the crack between when I hung it up and when I went inside. We'll see if it's still hanging tomorrow. (This is my second or third attempt at reattaching the hook, which is why I'm somewhat pessimistic. Each time I try a different method, though, so perhaps I'll come across one that holds.)

I think the brown stripe of epoxy adds a touch of "this snail has *lived*" attitude. I'm not sure why the epoxy turned brown, but it's kind of fun.

*sigh*... it fell while I was tying it to the basket. After I glue it *again* (bright side: I found more of the tiny pieces this time, since it was lighter out, so I'll be able to fill in one gap that didn't fill with epoxy), I'll move the hanging basket to the lawn before trying to tie the snail on.

I noticed some allium in my neighbour's yard waste bin that hadn't been collected (she's got a bunch, so I don't know if the "weeding" was on purpose or accidental), so I took the bulbs to plant in my garden (I don't have any), and two of the flowers looked nice so I stuck them in a vase.



Monday (Canada Day) was *hot*. Bursts of gardening were interspersed with relaxing under my new patio umbrella, watching the birds:A sampling of the birds I saw (photos cropped quite a bit):Lady Goldfinch:Mr Goldfinch:Yes, they all like the side farthest away from me. It could be because it's closer to the branch perches, more private, and out of the sun... but I still say they're hiding from my camera. Mr Goldfinch is particularly skittish... I suppose he has to be, being that brightly coloured. It would be like having an "eat me" sign.Goofy sparrow:(I missed a funny shot later, where a sparrow was sliding around on Mr Hoot's head... Mr Goldfinch was also, amazingly, on the side of the feeder facing me... but, of course, my camera wasn't within reach that time.)Lady sparrow?(It turns out the sparrows enjoy the finch feeder too.)Crow passing through:There was a nuthatch, but I wasn't able to get a photo of him. Little red squirrel yelled at me occasionally too.Here's a "before" shot of the garden under the spruce:And here's a (mostly) "after" (I planted a few more creeping thyme plants after this):Changes: I sawed off two dead limbs, removed the ugly bit of chain link fence, potted up an impatient cutting a neighbour gave me last fall (I didn't kill it! Yay!), planted more hostas, a blue monkshood, and my impulse-buy marigolds (filler while I wait for the perennials to fill in). I also did a bit of weeding, and thinned out some of the volunteer sunflowers, but I need to thin the main patch as well. The trash can lid is acting as a bird bath until I get something nicer. (I'm thinking of making a concrete rhubarb leaf one!) I tried to get some diatomaceous earth for the mosquito larvae, but no one in Canadian Tire and Home Depot had a clue what I was talking about. I'll have to go to a real garden center.But the big story... are you ready?!? I dug the vegetable garden!!! It was... uh... kind of dark by the time I finished:And I only dug it once (except for where I put the watermelon seedling, that got a quick second dig to mix in some peat moss), so I'll have to do another digging of it next weekend... but *finally*! Of course, the part by the fence acting as a perennial holding pen also needs proper digging, given that I just did barely enough to plop the plants in last fall before the snow hit... but I can't do that until I've moved the perennials. Here's the same photo taken today when the sun was up:Oh... and closing the back gate knocked my snail out of the flower pot again, and this time he flew to pieces:Since it's kind of hard to glue and assemble at the same time, and he's hollow, I decided to try an experiment: I taped the pieces together, making sure to cover any holes, then drizzled epoxy down the main drainage hole. If it doesn't stick together when I take the tape off, I'll glue it again. Once Humpty Dumpty is together again, I'll *tie* him to the basket with some invisible thread. (He doesn't hook on very securely.)[...]



I started off today with a quick trip to Home Depot and Canadian Tire. I returned the blueberry that had died (probably at least partially my fault, although the other blueberry is doing fine), and bought four tomato cages (since there was a very good chance I'd manage to plant those four tomatoes sitting on my patio), a stake, a trowel (actually, a set that included a trowel, cultivator, weeder and kneeling pad, since it wasn't much more than an individual trowel) because my other trowel seems to have wandered off, a patio umbrella (to put in the stand my uncle gave me), plus this adorable little mushroom toad house:I doubt it will ever have a toad, but it's cute even if it doesn't. (In moister areas, do toads actually hang out in these?)Here's my much-neglected front garden:I've been neglecting it since the weeds aren't terribly noticeable, and I really want to get the vegetable gardens done while there's still time to put things in. (Yes, it's probably too late for this year, but please don't burst my bubble.)I did tie up the weigela since I now had a stake. Before:After:It probably needs to be pruned or something too... but not until after it finishes blooming. A least now it's less likely to be abused by my lawn-mowing neighbour.Yay, dirt and plants in the raised bed:It's probably *way* over-crowded, but... well... better there than on the patio! I put in four cherry tomatoes, a strawberry that was in the "holding area" (I think this is where I want it), my birdhouse gourd (I doubt I'll actually get gourds, it's pretty late), plus four things that are either onions or leeks... I think three of one type and one of the other, but I can't remember which is which. (Note to self: label things better.) I figure the tomatoes will grow up while the gourd grows horizontally, and I'll just make sure the gourd doesn't smother the strawberry. The onions/leeks, well, I have a bunch started, they're also vertical, and maybe they'll keep some bugs off the other plants.Argh, the elm has some sort of leaf miner:I found this bizarre larva dude when I pulled off the infected elm leaves:Hmmm... googling... this might actually be a ladybug pupae! Cool! (I'll have to rescue it from the yard waste bin tomorrow... I think it's on top, so it should be easy.)I discovered that one of the plants my neighbor had been mowing was indeed a flower (I stopped him by putting some log stepping stones in front to protect it)... it appears to be some kind of white harebell:(It's kind of hard to spot amongst the anemone here, which is also white.)And, why not, here's an "after" shot of the rhubarb I hacked away at yesterday:I was in the garden for less than two hours today, between sleeping late, shopping, and family dinner.Oh well... good thing I still have Monday! :D[...]

How my garden grows...?


...Like a jungle, if you're talking about weeds.In an effort to not get dehydrated, instead of just taking a large water bottle outside for my Saturday gardening efforts, I also took an entire pitcher of water, plus some iced tea mix:(There's something about Good Host Iced Tea that goes together with working outside on a hot day. Plus I accidentally bought a second tin last summer without realizing I had a nearly-untouched tin at home, so I have a lot of the stuff. And I figured it would help stave off the shaky feeling I sometimes get after working outside in the heat for a while.) How did it go? I finished off both the water bottle *and* the pitcher, and had a dry mouth and very little urge to use the loo when I came inside six hours later. Perhaps I should have had two pitchers...Anyway, here's some random photos of my garden:Plums are growing:(And tiny ones are falling off... I should probably look into what cross-pollinates with a Pembina plum.) Some of the plums are marked:Maybe dad's right, and it is the squirrels eating them, rather than racoons.Some branches on the plum weren't looking very happy, so I pruned them off. I'm rather disturbed by this:That does *not* look like a happy branch! What is the culprit? Two possible suspects are these things that look like scale insects:And something that caused the wounds on the branch:I'll have to do some research...I just like this photo of the flowers on my green onions:They're both similar to and different from the flowers on my chives.I can't wait until my garlic is ready:I'm so excited!!! Mmmm... garlic I grew myself! I'm going to need to plant much more, though... I'd really love to be able to harvest enough to last me a year (assuming I can get it to keep that long) plus have cloves to plant for the next year. I'm working towards that!I actually did make real progress on the vegetable gardens:This is the second raised bed to be set into dirt, and by the time I went in on Saturday evening, it was half full of dirt, as you can see here. From another angle:I left space between it and the walks on two sides because I figured it would be nice to have a bit of room to play with when I lay the bricks properly, and I'd like to get the driveway done properly sometime, and don't want the raised bed to get in the way. I may have cut it a bit close as it is... I suppose I'll find out later.I decided on Saturday that I have gardening ADD. When I suggested this to a neighbour, he said it was called "having too much to do". Perhaps. I went out on Saturday with the express plan of digging the vegetable gardens and filling raised beds. What I actually did:- pulled random weeds in various places- watered plants waiting to be planted plus the hanging basket in the back- turned the compost in the composter that I have going- decided the compost was looking pretty good, and so mucked with the dirt beneath the second composter so that it sat a bit more level so I could start using it- put the remainder of last fall's leaves in the second composter- moved the extra irises that were still alive to where the leaves had been (and put the dead & rotting bits in the composter)- threw out the remaining scraps of carpet being used as weed barrier- pruned a few branches on the plum- pruned a few plum suckers and volunteer Manitoba maples (I'll worry about the roots later... this will at least stunt them)- moved the second suet bird feeder from the plum tree to the much more popular location in the spruce (the one there is empty again, and I think I'll wait until fall before buying refills again... although the sparrows were enjoying the suet on Sunday)- pulled the rhubarb leaves (plus stalks) that were covering the walkway or had been beaten up by the rain- sat and watched the goldfinch- set and half filled a raised bedNotice how low on the list the raised bed is? >_< I did double-dig (well, at least quickly) under the raised bed to remove as many weed roots as I could. There was a bit of a hu[...]

Cross Stitch


I want to make these chickens:
Aren't they awesome? (Turns out the lady hosting one of Saturday night's parties is also a crafter.)

Garden Update: Jungle Edition


Uh... I still have a bunch of stuff waiting to be planted, and one of the blueberries (blown over in this photo) doesn't look so good:(I need to check if the Home Depot warranty on plants covers neglect by idiot homeowners.)"Before" shots:Here you can see five more plants waiting to be planted (one of which got planted Saturday, so that I could use the pot to give a volunteer raspberry seedling beside it to the neighbour), volunteer sunflower seedlings that need thinning, and weeds are popping up. I pulled the tops off a few of the weeds, but I need to go back and dig out the roots.Egad, it's a jungle back there! Black raspberries are going crazy (as you can see, they still haven't been transplanted from beside the house to beside the fence), plus thistles, grass, and Manitoba maple saplings I need to dig out.My one planted raised bed has things growing:Of course, I have no idea what anything is with this "toss seeds in randomly" method. I may need to plant a few labelled rows just for identification purposes. I'm hoping things will get a bit more evident later.More jungle:Onions (walking and green) doing well, some garlic looking very promising, and others look like I'll be able to spot them when I dig them up later this summer. (Some of the garlic was started from seed, and so takes a bit longer.) Unfortunately, the weeds are also looking very lush.My field of dandelions is looking less fluffy:(My apologies to those downwind. I *will* get to these, I promise.)This weekend's goal:Dispose of this section of carpet, dig the soil underneath plus adjacent weedy bits to remove weed roots, dig again to turn in coco earth, then plant.Progress accomplished:Found a mouse while turning the compost (did I mention I have gardening ADD?):Since "killing it in my gloved hands" seemed a bit cruel, I decided to take it to the cemetery to see if it might find somewhere over there it liked living enough that it didn't come back. However, since I didn't want to squish it on the way there, it managed to wriggle free when I was only halfway there, about two houses over. Oh well... maybe it'll like my neighbour's yard better than mine? (Sorry, neighbour.)Removing the biggest piece of carpet and the railroad tie, I found a rather large ant colony:Hopefully turning the earth will be sufficient to convince them to move elsewhere. Otherwise I'll try that thing where you boil up some rhubarb leaves... I've got lots of those. (Speaking of which, a number of them got *pounded* in today's rain... several were nothing but the ribs. My neighbour said that water was gushing from that corner of the downspout... checking the state of that section of eaves is on my list.)And, speaking of eaves...When I went out to dig the dirt on Saturday, it was cloudy, so I didn't bother with sunscreen. However, by the time I was ready to dig, the sun was out in full force, and a cream I'm using right now has me a bit sensitive, so I decided to tackle the eaves on this stretch of the garage, since it was shady there.There was some good looking humus up there... and I got impressively filthy!I also took a quick trip to the front yard to lop off the very large sour cherry sucker I found growing up through the weigela.I'm sure glad that I didn't prune out the parts that looked winter-killed (actually the weigela, just slower to leaf out) and leave the parts that looked good (the sour cherry sucker) early this spring! I need to get a sturdy stake and tie up the weigela... it has a definite lean to the south that I'd like to correct.Then I had to go in and clean up for two parties I was attending Saturday night.Sunday it was cloudy but not raining when I got up. By the time I ate breakfast there was a light drizzle. I decided it wasn't raining hard enough to stop me from *finally* digging the garden, so I put on my grub clothes and went outside. It was a bit heavier than a drizzle when I got out, and rapidly progressed to a[...]

Photos from last weekend


I de-wormed my father on father's day:
He was a kind of cool-looking caterpillar, so I put him on my dandelions, with the hopes of getting both a nice butterfly and fewer dandelions. (Okay, so I didn't think he'd do much damage for the latter, but every little bit helps, right?) Well, technically, it fell off my arm while I was taking pictures, but on the dandelions where I was going to put it anyway.

When I came inside and googled, I found out the caterpillar is a forest tent caterpillar. Argh. Well, if I spot it again, I will squish it. :P

Much nicer intruder:
My neighbour's clematis (seen here with bee), pokes through the fence and brightens up my garden too. :)

Garden Update 2: Sunday


Before I get to the "Saturday after" / "Sunday before" shots, here's one that is both before and after, since I haven't done anything here yet either:Uh oh... I *really* need to get to those dandelions in the driveway!!!Okay, here's how things finished up Saturday night:Wow, this is really starting to look like a garden!:I am *so* pleased with how this is coming along! I invited two neighbours in to see the progress, plus my parents and uncle! :)Pallet mostly deconstructed, second raised garden bed half built:Coco earth still soggy, but I think all the hard lumps are finally gone now:(Whoops, I didn't get as far as digging this into the vegetable area... ack!)After grocery shopping and before family dinner, I made some more progress.While cutting up the boards from the side of the house to use for raised beds, I found this odd ladybug:It has yellow circles around its black spots! It's sort of hard to see with the sawdust on it, so I brushed some off:Of course, brushing off the sawdust caused it to produce the stinky yellow liquid, so I didn't brush all of it off, just a bit where I wouldn't have to touch the yellow stuff.Here's how far I got with the pallet before the battery gave out on my cordless saw:... *almost* enough posts cut for the third raised bed! (Actually, enough if you count that one in the pile of wood that was a spare from before, but I didn't notice that one while I was cutting. Plus I just wanted to finish cutting that board.)I did get the second raised bed finished (although not set in the ground or filled) before dinner:After dinner I finished constructing the third raised bed (also neither set nor filled), plus I dug the invasive creeping bellflower out of one spot of the south garden (no before or after shots) and planted some iris there instead. (Siberian iris is kind of invasive, but it is slow, reasonably easy to eradicate when you want it gone, and it's *tough*. The south garden against the house is a pretty brutal spot... alternately shaded, and sunny/hot, plus dry because it's beneath the eaves.) Oh, and at some point I planted another of the plants that was sitting in its pot on top of the dirt in the north garden.[...]

Garden Update 1: Saturday errands and "before" shots


The problem with taking "before" shots and then working until dark means that you still don't feel like you have anything worth posting. I took some photos Sunday that work for "after" for Saturday (& "before" for Sunday), but putting all the photos in one post will make it too long. So I'm going to break it up anyway. Oh well.Errands:1. I made it to the place that is only open until 1:00 pm on Saturdays, and picked up four furnace filters for the house so that I wouldn't need to go back any time soon. (The filters are ~$18 each... so, not cheap, but four wouldn't break the bank.) The filters are four inches thick, and I wasn't sure where else to buy them. I found the invoice for this place as the place they had come from before... it normally only sells to contractors (the furnace guy made the purchase last time), but the clerk figured it was okay to sell me filters, so I didn't have to beg. (Yay!)2. I bought an inexpensive bike to ride to work:I have a lovely bike, but it cost my brother around $1000, and neither locking it up outside all day nor carrying it up several flights of stairs seemed like a good option for me. Given that I'll be buying tickets (after this month, which I already have a bus pass for) for days when it rains (if I've just caused it to be a rainy summer, I'm sorry), as long as this one doesn't get stolen before September, I'm ahead of the game financially. If, however, it gets stolen in the first week, I'll go back to riding the bus. ;) (I really do need to get more exercise, though... for some reason, my body doesn't seem to consider gardening to be sufficient exercise.)3. I went to Shelmerdine's to buy a birch tree. Wow. That place is really overwhelming the first time you visit! It's like the garden center equivalent of Ikea. It's massive. It has *everything* (well, the classy stuff, at least... you'd need to go elsewhere for tacky garden gnomes). Except they were sold out of the small birch trees, and I didn't want to pay $125 for a big one. I guess I'll be transplanting one from the lake after all. I did buy an adorable little brass-looking plastic fairy that perches on the edge of a flower pot, or on the adorable miniature garden furniture they sell, like the stuff pictured here.4. Since T&T Seeds was right next door and I knew they had the Kozy-coats (not needed any more this year, but I'll have them now for next year), I stopped in there. I didn't stop at getting just the Kozy-coats, though... I also bought some coco earth, three ceramic mushrooms (two tiny, one larger than the tiny ones but the smallest of the three coordinating ones that were probably meant to be bought to make a grouping), a ceramic snail that dangles from a pot edge, a shovel (looks sturdy, similar to one I was thinking of getting from Lee Valley, but about the same price as the Lee Valley one, which is half the price of the Shelmerdine's one), and a watermelon seedling. T&T Seeds is much smaller and less impressive than Shelmerdine's, but I ended up spending *way* more. Weird. Oh, and T&T Seeds has tacky gnomes, if that's your style. ;)Snail:Two of the mushrooms:Watermelon seedling:(Seen here with my "birdhouse gourd" seedling.)The coco earth was supposed to be four bricks that could be expanded separately, but I couldn't separate them until I got the whole thing wet. Here's half of the whole thing (two bricks) after getting a bit wet:And here's the soupy mess expanding:I ended up putting all four bricks in the water anyway, since I had guessed how much water I would need for all of it once I couldn't separate them, and it was *quite* soupy with only the two. (The packaging did specify how much water to use, but my wheelbarrow doesn't come with measurements on the side like a measuring cup. ;) )Garden "before" photos:Here's the pallet before I broke it down:The current st[...]



You know you have a problem with homeless drunks in your office building when your router reminds you of a king can of beer.

I was chastised today (well, not really) for not specifying what router I ended up getting. I got a D-Link Whole Home Router 1000 with Smart Beam and amplifi. Why this particular one?
1. It was originally priced at $110, marked down to $70. (It appears to be an older model... the newer one having a "cloud" feature... I prefer to save $40 and have sunnier weather. ;) )
2. It claimed to be suitable for large houses, and the cheaper routers claimed to only be for small houses.
3. I was really tired of being without wireless, and I was having lunch with a friend in Grant Park Mall, which has a Radio Shack (aka "The Source" or something like that)... not known for being a place with good deals, but I was going for convenience here. The Linksys models that claimed to be for large houses were more expensive (my previous router was a Linksys), and there weren't any Asus routers (a brand a co-worker recommended).
4. The king can shape didn't have any external moveable antenna, which made me think perhaps it would be harder for me to break them. ;)
5. And, for the totally stupid reason (that didn't really affect my decision) that "smart beam (TM)" and "amplifi (TM)" make me feel like doing "jazz hands".

Territorial Sparrow


I appear to have a territorial sparrow for a neighbour.
(Yes, I know that window needs cleaning. I'll get the extension ladder out once the gardens are planted and weeded.)
At first he was battling the sparrow that lives in the reflection of the stairway window, now he's moved on to the one that lives in the reflection of my office/library window. (Well, it will be my office/library. I still need to clear out the rest of the junk left behind by my brother and dad.) I hope he doesn't wear himself out too much... those reflection sparrows are tough nuts to crack. However, if you fly away and leave them alone, you'll find they are polite enough to do the same.

Wednesday/Thursday Garden Update


His holiness, Sourpuss the first, went to the great Home Depot on Empress on Wednesday. Taking his place is Sourpuss the second, who is not being allowed anywhere near where my neighbour might decide to use a whipper-snipper:
He was the last one in stock at that Home Depot, so hopefully he doesn't decide to become holey too! (I still haven't heard anything from my lawn-mowing neighbour, but I'm assuming he's the culprit.)

While at Home Depot, I couldn't resist looking at the plants. I brought home two blueberry plants ("Northland" and "North Sky", if I remember correctly), two more hostas, and another dianthus.

Thursday I found the time to water my raised bed, the plants waiting to be planted and the hanging basket without the special liner, set three of the "stepping stumps" into the dirt, and planted seven of my thirty creeping thyme seedlings (which I then watered again):
By then it was getting rather dark, so I went in, had a shower, and had a late dinner.

I wasn't going to set up my new wireless router... but I couldn't resist peeking in the box. One thing led to another, and, way past when I *should* have been asleep, I returned to being blissfully wireless. (It wasn't really the router's fault... it was getting home late, followed by gardening, then a shower, then washing dishes that needed hand-washing, then eating dinner... etc.)

The Hanging Gardens of...

2013-06-04T22:05:51.353-05:00 yeah, okay, not impressive enough to have a name. ;)

Last weekend I got my three hanging baskets assembled, and tonight I hung them. I had left them in a somewhat sheltered spot because we were still getting threats of frost Saturday and Sunday nights, but I think we're good now. (I also planted the tomato seedling my dad gave me... I'm sorry if I bring down the wrath of Murphy on everyone!) I only had one spot for a hanging basket from last year, so I had to put up two more hooks. One went by the gate between the back yard and side yard:
Uh... not really the look I was going for!
Better! I had hoped for it to hang a bit higher, and with the hook not half-covered up by the ugly board, but, oh well. Maybe later I'll futz with the chains to get them shorter and move the hook back lower. For now, this will do.

The other new hook went up on the other side of the porch door:
Yes, I realize the one on the right is hanging slightly higher than the one on the left, but I set the one on the left so that it would bump the window frame rather than glass, and that's how much chain was left over after I took the spare off the left. It's close enough. Yes, I could raise the one on the left, but, if anything, I'd prefer to lower the right, and that's not an option at the moment. (Hmmm... I wonder if I have more chain like that somewhere inside...)

Oooo... I do believe this is starting to look "garden-ish":
I may yet manage something I can be proud of this summer!

You know, it'll be sad if I have to move out if dad and I can't agree on a price, or I can't afford the one we do agree on. *sigh*

Garden Update


Something is a messy eater:At first I thought something was chewing the wood, but it turns out its stuff fallen from the suet feeder above. I'm blaming the squirrels.I got a bunch of free bricks from Freecycle. I figured my station wagon would be great for transporting them... I forgot about the weight. Low rider:I need to do a better job of laying them, but this got them out of my car:Yay, I no longer have to slog through sticky mud to get to my compost area! (Well, the main ones were by the walk already, this is more for the leaf-composting / overflow area.)Argh! Sourpuss has another reason to be grouchy:I suspect my neighbour who mows my lawn (in exchange for parking his camper at my dad's place) must have hit him with the weed whacker. I'm annoyed for two reasons: 1. that the lawn ornament is so fragile, and 2. that my neighbour doesn't seem to care what kind of job he does with the lawn. (He mows my flowers at the edge of the bed too.) *sigh* I'm going to see if I can get it replaced... even if my neighbour did hit it with the weed whacker, I would have hoped it would hold up better!I've added a third kind of bird feeder to my yard:Now, in addition to sunflower seeds an suet, I also have a thistle/niger seed feeder! I hope I get to see some finches feeding from it. :) (And I hope the squirrels leave this one alone... I don't think they like niger seed much.)Why is it always the right-hand of the pair of gloves that wears out?I've been keeping the left gloves, hoping I can make a pair, but it's always the right that gets holes, or gets lost, etc. :PWoo hoo! One bed built, filled, and planted (except for the tomato, which will go in next weekend... frost expected again tonight):Now to build and fill five to seven more... and till and plant the rest of the vegetable garden... and ditto for the north side garden which will have flowers and berries... and weed, cover, and mulch the area under the plum tree.. and divide the perennials in the front bed, and dig in organic matter there... and pull the weeds in the front beds, south side beds, and driveway... *sigh*... so much work to do, so little time to do it![...]

The Tree is dead! Long live the Tree!


(Okay, so I don't have the heir to the tree yet, but the old one is *out*!!!)So, Wednesday I put up the chain I bought and reattached the come-along (since I didn't want to borrow the neighbour's chain for too long). It turns out that those "quick links" come with the "do not use where failure could be catastrophic" warning for a reason:Pathetic quality control! Good thing I had bought some spares, although they turned out to be *just* fat enough that I had to find links that were slightly D-shaped to put them through.Also shown in the above photo... the *awesome* loop I put on my (well, long-term borrowed from mom and Bob) garden shears, to replace the one long-since lost. Okay, so it's not that awesome... but it does the job well, and the soldering job isn't horrible. ;)Wednesday I dug around the root ball a bit more:disentangled Dad's junk from the creeping virginia here:(except the boards, which will become raised beds if dad doesn't get them first) and put it with the other junk here:and put up some wires and tied up most of the raspberries beside the garage:(I didn't get them all because I ran out of the string I had outside, and the sun had set by that point. I still need to get to the last few.)Mom came over on Friday and did a bit more digging. (My mom is awesome.)Saturday, I dug some more, while mom took apart one of the pallets for me:After using the chainsaw some more, the tree was still standing, but we had managed to accomplish a noticeable lean with pressure applied by the come-along:(The chainsaw cut great at first, after my neighbour had sharpened it for me, but then it went back to producing sawdust. *sigh*.) I was feeling a bit shaky by then, and mom needed to go anyway, so I had some yoghurt before getting back to work.I tried getting the soil out from around the roots still left, but the soil was solid clay. So I took the nails out of my pallet boards and made a raised bed:I got it half-way filled with dirt before I *had* to stop for dinner.Sunday we brought out the big guns to work on the tree: my neighbour and his son. Not only did they get the tree down:(dad's bucket of brick bits bit the dust after a square hit from the tree):but they also cut the trunk into rounds for me, which I plan to use as stepping "stones":(actual stepping stones being rather pricey, once you factor in how many I want... this way I can just buy a few here and there as these rot. Although I probably won't have enough and will still need to buy some now.)Go figure, the stump portion fell back into the hole, so I'll need to heave it out later:(I've told another neighbour who likes to have bonfires that they can have it, so maybe it'll disappear on its own...)Now to put the dirt back in the hole, dig in organic matter, and get stuff *planted*!!! Yay!!![...]

Chainsaw Massacre


I brought out the big guns today for my battle with the dead spruce:(Ugh... I really need to lose some weight!)To avoid dulling the chainsaw, I dug around and under a number of roots before starting up the chainsaw. (Mom helped a bit... I had asked her over in case I had an accident with the chainsaw, but she helped move dirt too. She had hurt her back the other day, though, so she stuck to stuff that wouldn't aggravate her back.)Then, with some assistance from mom (it seemed to take three hands plus a foot), I got the chainsaw started, then started again after I didn't keep enough pressure on the trigger to prevent it from stalling. Then I went at the roots. The result:Sawing took longer than I thought it would. I think I wasn't applying enough pressure... I think I was expecting the saw to kind of drive itself in, like other power saws seem to do.After cutting through the roots (I think I cut two small ones with the axe while I was digging, then five thick ones with the chainsaw), I attached the come-along again, and had a go at pulling the tree over:Mom thinks she might have seen it budge minutely. I'm not sure it did.Since it was going to take me a while to dig around more roots, mom decided I could do that on my own while she got in out of the rain. (It started spitting as soon as I went outside to get started, but didn't get heavy enough to stop until later.)Before she left, mom used a shovel we found in the garage to put my piles of leaves and pinecones from sweeping the patio Thursday evening in the yard waste bins:(She filled two bins. The pink one I put dead raspberry canes in, then shovelled a bit more of what I had swept up in the back lane.)I didn't really feel like doing more digging today (especially since it had started drizzling a bit harder), so, after cutting out the dead raspberry canes, I moved dad's junk from an area I want to put my raised vegetable beds to a corner of the patio:It's kind of a bummer to put that big ugly pile on the patio when I had just gotten it pretty good looking, but there wasn't really a better place for it. I put the biggest propane tank on the driveway side of the garage, but I didn't really want to put the other stuff there... I want to be able to park there, and it would mean carrying it farther. (It was a shorter distance for the big tank to the driveway, because I was dragging it across the ground and around the piles of dirt, rather than tossing it over top of the piles of dirt.)Look! No junk:(Some suckers I need to deal with, and not exactly level... but it's a start.)My garlic and onions (green and walking) are doing well:It looks like most of the perennials survived the winter too. (There's a couple I'm not sure about yet.)Ow. I *hurt*. Oh well... at least I feel like I made progress today, even if it's not enough. It's nice that they're now recommending we wait until some time in June to plant live plants (it's okay to seed now, though)... but I only have access to the chainsaw until next weekend, after which it is returning to the lake. Plus I want to get my raised beds started with lettuce, peas, and other "likes it cool" seeds. Argh.[...]



I noticed a white spot on my suet bird feeder. Had something gone moldy?
Nope... turns out a plum branch was caught in the feeder!
I wonder how that happened? (Branch freed now, and feeder moved over slightly so that hopefully this won't happen again.)



When I looked out my kitchen window today, I discovered that Mr Hoot had tipped over. Given how round he is, I doubt it was the wind. Was it a squirrel? A cat? Or does Mr Hoot like to party a bit too much on a Saturday night? (At least he's quiet about it.)

Home Sweet Gnome


I wanted a gnome for my junkyard-turning-garden. The White Rabbit is adorable, and I love him, but he is not a gnome.

I saw a promising-looking fellow in last week's Rona flyer, but he was sold out at the one I visited, and the other garden statuary didn't fit what I was going for. (There was a nice gargoyle, but I think it was $40, and so I decided to wait for an end-of-season sale for that one, assuming I remember and there's one left.)

Today I popped into Home Depot for a thatching rake (which they didn't have), and checked out the garden centre while I was there. I found some great groundcover plants (three kinds of creeping thyme, a moss similar to the one I bought last year but a different colour, and a saxifrage), and a gnome!

Meet my new gnome, who needs a suitably Germanic name that I will hopefully manage to remember:

While in the garden statuary area, I couldn't resist Sourpuss and Mr Hoot:
Sourpuss (aka Grumpy aka Grouchy) is sitting in the mud under the plum tree where nothing (yet?) grows. Mr Hoot is near the same spruce as The White Rabbit. The gnome is currently in the same general area as The White Rabbit and Mr Hoot, but I suspect he'll be moving to the vegetable garden area when that area is ready.

Don't worry... I don't plan to clutter the yard with statuary. I will hopefully manage to keep it at a relatively tasteful level. I'm not currently looking for any more, although some "perfect" pieces might still wander home with me.

Two things I would still like to get for the garden are a niger-seed bird feeder, and one or two wall decorations for the fence on the south side of the yard. (One in the main garden/yard area, and, if I get a second wall decoration, then it would go in the vegetable/back area.) Plus all the plants and raised beds, of course, but those will take time.

Garden Update: Me vs the Dead Tree


Before I get to the tree, here's a photo of the adorable little ceramic bunny I bought for my garden:And I'm glad I cleared the dead leaves from the day lilies before the art show... here they are now:I still need to dig up the weed roots, but that'll come... eventually.Okay, here's the tree:You may (or may not) remember that I started digging it up last year, and managed to get a number of roots exposed before the snow flew. Well, the snow is now gone, the roots are still exposed, and the tree is still standing.With the assumption that the dead tree with it's roots partially exposed will be less well anchored than the live tree that is thicker, I attached the come-along to both of them (once I found some chain), and started winching.Not even a hint of budging. So I hacked at the roots some more, and removed more dirt.Dang, that's a thick root. And spongey wood is hard to chop. I eventually did get through that root, and chopped through some others too.Still didn't budge. This is going to take significantly more effort. (And I can already tell that I'm going to *feel* today's effort tomorrow.)I winched that come-along so tight, I bent a link on the chain I borrowed from mom:Whoops.Cheeky little chickadee!While I was winching & chopping, I moved the bird feeder over so that it wasn't in the way. When I was done for the day, I topped it up and hung it back up, but before I had removed the come-along and chains. As I was working at the chain (whose openable link was reluctant to unscrew), I heard the buzzing of wings as something flew to the feeder. I paused for a second, then looked up to see a chickadee, no more than a foot from my face. It flew off, but returned a moment later once I wasn't looking at it again. So I stepped back a pace, and took out my camera... and got the above shot.I also sat and enjoyed the sunshine for an hour, and listened to the birds (and a ... leaf blower?). It was a nice day, but it feels like I didn't accomplish anything despite all of my effort.Next weekend I'll work on the raised vegetable beds, so that I'll at least feel like I've accomplished something. :P[...]




Very close to done:

Mega-Update Post


I have been crazy-busy, but in a good way. Here's a brief summary:1. Last weekend I had a Thursday evening to Sunday afternoon retreat with a spinners and weavers retreat. The weather was more winter than spring, but we had a *fantastic* time! One of my "so awesome, I don't know how I deserve her" friends (who wasn't even able to attend the retreat this year) surprised me with a *gorgeous* batt from Wild Wind Naturals. I petted it and showed it to everyone, but forgot to take a photo before I started spinning. I did remember to take a photo of the yarn (not posted), and the final result, finished while I was at the retreat:That pom-pom is made from the extra locks tucked between the ribbon and the batt as decoration. At the retreat, we decided it was a "Canadian fascinator"...: "Canadian", because it's on a tuque, not a useless little hat! ;)2. Monday at art I finished painting my "Bird in a Gilded Cage", but haven't added the last few (non-painted) finishing touches:Then I worked some more on my starfish:Wow... not too much more and I'll be finished this too!3. Thursday evening I was at a workshop (two evenings, one Saturday) on making bent-shaft canoe paddles. Here's some of the instructor's paddles he brought to show us:We got as far as preparing the jig and gluing the strips of wood for the shaft:Mine is in the foreground of this photo. It's made from walnut, ash, pine, and maple.4. Today I did a bit of spring tidying of the garden, clearing a bunch of old growth on the perennials... four wheelbarrows full, if I remember correctly. I discovered another thing to add to my to-do list... install a window well for this window, whose sill has half rotted away:I forgot "before" shots, but remembered "after" shots:*Much* better, although it will need digging-up of weed taproots, dividing plants, moving them around, adding organic matter... but, it'll hold for a bit now. In the photo below, the pile on the left is mostly the stuff I removed from the garden, plus some partially-composted leaves from last fall's pile layered in to help the process:(I also turned the pile of leaves from last fall, and shovelled some snow so that I could get the wheelbarrow here. After I took this photo, I tossed some snow on this pile... I figure the moisture will help the composting, and anything that gets absorbed by this pile won't be adding to the mud in my parking spot. :PThis cat really likes hunting for mice in dad's junk pile, but I don't think it likes me very much:[...]



This photo was taken Sunday:
As you can see, the table-glacier is melting... but more snow is falling. *sigh*

In preparation for the spring art show, I've finished the nostalgia-themed piece I'm donating to the raffle:
(proceeds go to Alzheimer's Society), and have made progress on a related piece that will be for sale in my section:

New Paintings Started


I have paintings that I haven't finished, but that didn't stop me from starting two new ones tonight:
...but I have an excuse. The upcoming art show has a theme of "nostalgia", and I asked folks on freecycle for records for this idea. It would be a shame for people to give me records to paint, and then not get them done in time for the art show, right?

The dog will be a dalmatian, and I got the inspiration from the fire hydrant on the label. The canary is inspired by one of the songs on its record: "Bird In A Gilded Cage". (The gilded cage bars are coming. I'm only going to paint them behind the bird, though.)

I still need to clean the chalk sketch marks off both. I want to let the paint dry really well first.

I feel a little bad at how pleased I am with myself... but it's also nice too, because I'm happy. It's nice to be happy!

Random collection of photos from the past week


Cool icicle! Uh... dang... that probably means that corner needs the gutter join caulked too. (I should probably just plan to do all of them when I take care of the worst spot.)The snowbank I decided to not shovel through last weekend:(Given that it took me three hours to do everything else, probably a good decision.)The corner with the gutter problem I've known about the longest:A section of rotten wood needs replacing, plus there's the fact that the drip leaves a dangerous icy patch on the sidewalk to the back yard. (I wonder why dad didn't fix this when the house was repainted a couple of years ago? That would have been the best time to have done it, and I'm pretty sure it was a problem then too. Another reason not to hire a student to paint the house... there's more to painting than just slapping on paint!)More problematic gutter:This connects to the part in front of the kitchen window that was dripping last summer that dad "fixed" (not sure what the fix was), but that part is also looking... wonky. I'm not sure if I should consider replacing this whole stretch, or if this icicle is inevitable, given that a big patch of the upper roof drains to this spot, and there's probably a good chance that the lower gutter, spending more time in the shade, probably fills with ice. Well, I'll get up there with a ladder this summer and have a look... maybe see if cleaning and caulking does enough to hold it for a bit longer.Hee, I think I have a mini-table glacier:Taking a short walk off a shorter table?I needed to clear my head on Thursday (too much bashing my head against the same frustrating bug), so I took a walk around the neighbourhood near work. At least my house doesn't have this big of a problem:Graffiti, but cute graffiti:Now *this* is a big chunk of ice:(And that is *not* my house, thankfully!)This weekend I took a workshop on making Shaker boxes, and made these three awesome boxes:While I was putting the finishing on them, I finally got around to putting the finish on my turned piece too. They'll all need another coat or two, but at least I got one on![...]