Been a long vacation . . .

So to speak. I decided I might crank up the blog again after quite a long hiatus. Although there’s not been too much doing in the last couple of years.

Much. I Finally got going once more on Colossus: The Bathroom Project which has been (literally!) ten years in the making. I’ve also started in on the final largeish bit of the flower gardens hardscaping I want to do, that being the patio planned for in front of the decks. I’ve created two flower garden extensions, one to the Copse, and one to the Deck Border. Both of them are a bit on the bare side at the moment I’m afraid as I slowly find my way forward to flowers and shrubs that will do decently well and fit the mostly non-existent plan. The Copse and Deck Border drip irrigation has been re-done although now they need extending, and I’ve just started building replacement, and hopefully the last raised bed boxes for the veg garden. I haven’t even had a veg garden for the last couple of years which, as it turns out is probably a good thing as I was laid up for half of last summer (2017) with gout. I seem to have that sorted now though and am trying to make up for lost time.

No more bees, unfortunately. One hive just didn’t have the population it needed to stay warm in a severe spring cold snap, and we really aren’t sure what killed the other one although we suspect that they had too much population when that same cold snap hit and not enough resources when we, as novice beekeepers weren’t paying as much attention as we should’ve been.

We are talking about re-opening and putting the old drilled well back into service so that we will not be caught out if we have a repeat of the severe drought of autumn 2016 when there was no rain for almost two and a half months. That’s unheard of for here.




Twenty-five, and counting . . .

Two weeks ago Sunny and I celebrated our 25th wedding anniversary. At first we’d planned to go out, but came to the conclusion that we probably wouldn’t enjoy going out all that much and it was going to be very expensive, especially taking into consideration that  neither one of us really has any “going out” clothes. I’d sort of wanted to buy a nice, dressy outfit, but we’re also both dieting (successfully, I might add) and I really didn’t want to get something that was only going to fit for a month or so.

I did indulge myself by investing in some bits and bobs for the table, silverplate chargers, a vintage double damask actual linen tablecloth off of Etsy and napkins which are an amazing match off of eBay. Considering the price of new linen tablecloths seem to be in the hundreds of dollars range, I think the $35 spent for the tablecloth and the $12 for the napkins a real bargain. And I get to use them again. Try as I might, I couldn’t find any plates that would go nicely with what was turning out to be a very formal table, so had to make do with the Mikasa Arabella. It didn’t look quite right with the sterling and crystal, being more of a casual quality of dinnerware, but the King crab legs and Sirloin Strip tasted just fine off of them :-). And the table still looked nice. Mr. Carson would be appalled though, the dinner fork is crooked ;-).

The sterling is a pattern I’ve been trying to collect for years, since I graduated High School to be precise as the very first piece was a fork given to me by my Aunt Jennie as a graduation present in 1975. It was years before I was even able to identify the pattern as of course there was no internet in those days. Finally a friendly antiques dealer was able to pinpoint it as Reed & Barton’s “Les Six Fleurs“, first produced in 1901, the year of Queen Victoria’s death and Edward’s ascendance to the throne of Great Britain. Being an antique pattern well over a hundred years old, they can be very difficult to find – and also expensive. I call this my one vice. It could be worse, I could have a closet full of clothes. At least this stuff is hard to find. It keeps me honest.

The crystal is Waterford of the pattern “Powerscourt.” Something else I’ve been collecting one . . . piece . . . at a . . . time. Mom always said I had champagne tastes and a beer pocketbook. I’ve really just now gotten to the point where I can set two place settings. The next goal is to have four place settings, then I can have company!

I have, at last, and purely by accident, found a dinnerware pattern that I’m happy with for formal place settings. There was a Craigslist entry for 4 place settings of Noritake Shenandoah for $400. I was curious as to what the heck was so special about it that this lady wanted an astronomical price for it so I looked it up. Turns out she was apparently just clueless. The real value of a place setting is somewhere in the $50-60 range. However when I saw the photos of it, it looked like it was exactly what I was looking for. True, it wasn’t Royal Doulton or Limoges, but Noritake has a good reputation and is an old company. This particular pattern is a delicate floral, opulent without being over the top, and with that “old fashioned” flavor which I love. Of course it’s a discontinued pattern so now I’m  collecting those as well.

The Start of Another Year

looking aheadSo much to do this year, I don’t know if it will all get done, but I’m optimistic that at least some of it will. The table in the Pub seems to have become my planning table. The Pub catches the morning light and is very pleasant at this time of day; a nice spot to have a hot cup of tea or coffee, or just to watch the birds at the feeders in the back off the deck.

We brought the seed starter stand inside this past weekend, and I got the Brussel’s sprouts, the broccoli, and the cabbage planted in the starter trays on the 31st, or the 1st to all intents and purposes. Some weeks back I started a hardcopy gardening binder, something to refer to on the spur of the moment without having to go chasing down a gadget, or worrying about said gadget being harmed by potting soil, water, or just general mayhem as I go through the gardening process. One of the things I’ve put in it is an actual calendar of when I want to plant my various seeds so that I actually got something started when I wanted to this time! I just have to remember that it’s there for my instant reference.

seed_traysThe seed trays are on a heating mat as a source of bottom heat. I hope to upgrade to a “real” seedling mat at some future point, but this method has done me for a couple of years now. This was an inexpensive mat, one without an internal timer on it (it would hardly do for the heat to go off after a couple of hours,) and one marked as “water resistant”.  The lights are on for 14 hours give or take; they’re on a mechanical type timer which isn’t quite as accurate as an electronic one, but simpler to program and able to take more abuse in the long run. The seed starting medium this year is a bit different, an “organic” mix by Burpee’s that I picked up at Lowe’s. Rather than being peat based (a non-renewable resource,) it’s coir based. The only real difference that I’ve noticed so far is that it seems to dry out more quickly than the peat type. It’s also more expensive, I suspect because it is to all intents and purposes a by-product to the coconut industry and I can’t imagine that the the coconut industry is actually that large. Except for its tendency to dry out more quickly I like it overall; it has a nice texture.

Brand new baby broccoli, just peeking out.

Brand new baby broccoli, just peeking out.

The broccoli (Burpee’s variety ‘di Cicco’) is happy anyway, it’s already popping up after only a few days!  I was a bit careless sowing these seeds; normally I’ll only sow two, or at most three seeds per cell. It’s a bit persnickety when they’re so small, but it is doable and when they’re so expensive much more economical rather than flinging them hither and yon. If the seed is stored somewhere away from heat and moisture they will be viable for many years. That’s a lot better than spending $4 or $5 a packet every year which is what some of the hybrid varieties end up costing. The most I spent on any one variety this year was for the Brussel’s sprouts ‘Dimitri Hybrid‘ at $3.95 for 25 seeds. The only reason I opted for those is that it is advertised as “easy to grow” and the last time I tried to grow sprouts they didn’t perform.

All gone . . .

Six months worth of posts and garden records – pffffttttt!!! – just like that. I suppose if I had really buckled down to it, I might have figured out how to clean all the hack code out of the WordPress account, but I don’t have the patience, or the inclination, or the time really. So here we go, starting from the beginning again.

But this time you can be d*mned sure I’ll be doing frequent backups.