Monday, March 30, 2009

Lambs and Dogs

March is gradually, very stingily, promising springlike weather. The breezes that have been assaulting us, accompanied by freezing temperatures are better than all-out winter, but not by much. I don't she'll go out like a lamb tomorrow. Still, gardening weather can't be far off!

Dogs are on my brain. I'm neglecting the blogosphere until tomorrow when my canine class ends. I have quite a bit of loose ends to tie up in my class before I can sit down at a keyboard and string words together with some degree of art. I hope to catch up with other blogs too.

There are not enough hours in the day...

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Black Crescents

Otherwise known as dirty fingernails. My usual Spring fashion look, sadly.

Anyway, remember when we took this tree down.

The tree that was primarily responsible for bracing our fence (along help from the occasional extra tire, a two-by-four and some branches from a defunct pussywillow).

The fence that then promptly blew over on a not so mild Spring day.

But which gave us more room to grub out the roots which we wisely let the professionals stump-grind.

We were left with a nice hole that Kharma appreciated until we filled it in with lovely humus and some compost.

Whoa, how did I get caught up in such painful garden memories?! Might have something to do with spending the morning trying to dig a hole for my yew bush. Times like this I wonder how in the world did the pioneers clear their fields? They didn't have stump-grinders. I guess they had oxen and chains and strong twelve-year-old sons with more energy than sense. Where are those oxen when you need'em?

The fence re-do eliminated my dwarf Alberta spruce, the sole evergreen in the yard. I'd fallen in love with the softness of yews earlier and it gave me the opportunity to introduce a pair into the yard. I've learned not to buy plants impulsively (ha! who am I kidding?) when I own a mature landscape. Because I've killed many plants by simply not having a place to put them right away and I feel guilty every time.

But now the entire section which used to be occupied by our pin oak and shade plants is bare, absolutely naked of plants. It's a blank slate and I love every inch of possibilities.

The first yew hole was easy to dig, the second turned out to be a knot of lateral oak roots hiding right where I wanted to plant. I excavated the soil, grabbed my leather gloves and the axe, and filled a box with wood chips. One long sweaty morning and several dirty fingernails later, I succeeded in a hole big enough to plant one measly little five-gallon bush.

Anyway, the yews are planted, along with one miniature rosebush. It's a first small step toward summer greenery. And tonight we have a gentle rain pitter-pattering on our new landscaping. Maybe I'll get to see how the yews look with a little powdery snow on them tomorrow.

Friday, March 20, 2009


Happy First Day of...

Teensy-weensy leaves on my new lilac.
Actually mowed the back lawn (the easier to find dog piles).
Full-size daffodils blooming.
Also pink hyacinths unfolded while I wasn't looking.
Fruit tree buds get bigger and bigger every day.
Crocus progression: yellow, purple stripes, white (we're at white).
Actually warm--can short sleeves be far in my future?
Is Spring Fever an actual illness?
Blue sweet violets.
I can get the baby goats in the pasture to come to me by saying Maaaaa to them.
Kids (human) playing outside after school.
Sunglare at dinner--I might want to replace the mini-blinds that I threw out.
Or I could continue to let my sweetie suffer.
Female parakeets (I'm bird-sitting) love the newly-pruned apple branches.
Getting ready to plant spuds--added sand to the bed.
Tree pollen is not my friend, she said as she blew her nose and her tear duct exploded instead.
Snow is predicted on the valley floor by tomorrow night.
An entire post without one single photo.

It's how many days till Spring Break?

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Lesson Learned

We've had a recipe-to-try on hold for a week or so. Roasted Pepper & Crab Soup--doesn't that sound delicious? We thought so.

Had the crab (frozen imitation crabmeat, but, hey, it was free...), got the red bell peppers, the half-and-half, then discovered that we didn't have potatoes. Finally got the potatoes before any of the other ingredients rotted, so tonight was soup night.

First, we roasted the bell peppers and peeled them. After three years of roasting and peeling Hatch Valley chiles to feed my yen for New Mexican cuisine, I am a pepper-preparing expert, and this was simple in comparison. We peeled and diced the potatoes. We measured the spices and the light cream. We defrosted the crab. We began to combine and heat the ingredients. (I use the term "we" loosely here--Erkie-pie provided the recipe from, I provided the muscle. )

Before adding the flaked crabmeat, the recipe directed us to put the heated soup in the blender and puree the vegetables.

Yeah, that was my reaction too. The volcanic lentil lava episode made me cautious about blenders and hot soup.

I grabbed the strainer instead, separated the veggies from the hot liquid and pureed them by themselves. I added them back to the hot liquid, tossed in the crab and voila! A feast.

Hot sourdough bread was the perfect accompaniment. I have no idea how many calories I've ingested, and I don't really want to know, but my tummy is very happy. Compared to lentil, crab soup doesn't make a very exciting blog post, but my kitchen and my pants are a lot cleaner.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Hot Lentil Stew

Do Not Try This At Home

Did you know that lentil soup, if it has too much water in it, looks like something served to orphans in Victorian England. I decided to make it look thicker by ladling it into my blender and whirring it around.

Did you know that lentil soup is hot? It really holds the heat well, even if it's been sitting on the stove (burner off) for thirty minutes or so.

Did you know that blenders and volcanoes have a lot in common? They both erupt when filled with a lot liquid.

Did you know that lentil soup looks a whole lot like someone blew chunks? It looks like barf whether spilled on the counter, all over newly-laundered black denim pants, or in hair.

It seemed like a good idea at the time.

Friday, March 06, 2009

Simple Tip But...

I proudly carried seven pounds of magazine clippings downstairs this morning and dumped them in the garbage can. They are ALL scanned! Yep, thirty years of articles (mostly from Sunset Magazine) about landscaping and vegetable gardens and flowers and seeds and travel and arbors and home renovation and beaches and fruit trees.

We were trapped lived in Southern California at the time, upgrading our first home inside and out, and I poured over every issue for ideas. We escaped moved to Nevada with quite a bit of sweat equity and boxes of magazines. Eventually I found time to rip out my favorite articles and stored them away in just one box.

Amazingly, most of those articles were still interesting to me when it came time to digitize them. I guess classic design endures and plants stay pretty much the same, which is good, but it meant a LOT of scanning. How much? Well, I've spent every evening for two weeks at the computer desk.

Don't feel too sorry for me though. Number one, it meant I wasn't downstairs (downstairs=kitchen=food and I have NO willpower). And number two, I've had fun with Playlist, YouTube, my fellow bloggers, and webcams while the scanner was quietly whirring in the background.

Simplifying isn't quick, but it's satisfying. I can see the glorious dark oak desk instead of a pile of ragged paper. Sheer bliss.

There's no rest for the packrat though. I only got halfway through our vinyl LP's this summer and I'm thinking that our guest room would look a lot spiffier without the albums and turntable stored in the corners...

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Cold Toes

My walk to work this snowy March morning:

I didn't include one of the creek running higher than normal--mostly because my jump across wasn't very coordinated. The landing was wet and sharp. Result: a band-aid and sloshy hiking boots.