Thursday, November 10, 2022

Whiplash Season

 Was it just a few days ago that our sugar maple and redbud were gloriously golden?  That a few late roses were still vibrant?  That I was contemplating a long bike ride?

Well, six inches of snow and lows in the teens will change things quickly.  Lilypad Pond has its first skim of ice on it.  Every shrub and tree branch bowed in homage after twelve hours of constant drifting snow loaded their still-unshed leaves.

The pup got the zoomies as she discovered the wonders of snow.  She is trying to figure out why she can no longer wade in the pond. And I'm pretty sure most of the country could hear her shrill, almost hysterical, barking when I attempted to shovel snow. At seven months, Lila tolerates the Roomba, the broom, the leaf rake and the lawn mower.  The snow shovel is a work in progress!

I've not adjusted to the time change either, exacerbated by a quick trip south to Arizona where the sun was shining cheerfully at 6:30 a.m.  

I'm trying to focus on the positive aspects of snow, ice and cold.  Hmmm....

   Precipitation means water for the garden. 

   Ice on the pond means Lila won't be wading regularly and dirtily.

   Storm prep got me winterizing the yard a little earlier than usual.

   My warm kitchen will be a welcome by-product of oven use.

   I get to scoop frozen dogsicles instead of the other variety. 

   Outdoor activity burns more calories in the cold.

 Hey, Summer--green lawns, long days--I'll miss you!  Autumn, you were absolutely gorgeous this year. Sorry that Winter moved in so quickly.  Springtime, I'll be here waiting for you!


Friday, April 08, 2022

Good news, bad news

 A rodent of some sort took up residence in our garage this winter.  

Bad news for the wiring on our car. Bad news for a new bag of dog food. Bad news for the duffle holding my kayak gear. Bad news for all the boxes and magazines that were in his path. Bad news that urine stains cement.  Bad news that I don't know if this was a deer mouse or not.  Bad news that our mousetraps somehow didn't catch the little bugger.

Good news that this post won't have any photos (really good, trust me).  Good news that Spring gifted us with weather balmy enough the working in the garage was pleasant.  Good news that bleach exists to disinfect possible hantavirus particles.  Good news that the Great Garage Purge of 2022 means that I'm averaging eight thousand steps a day and toting heavy boxes.  Good news that I was already exercising so I'm not knackered.

Bad news was the flaming hissy fit of epic proportions on my part during Day One  Good news was that on Day Two I unearthed a Tale of Two Bad Mice by Beatrice Potter in a pile of stored books and was able to smile and realize that attitude is everything!

So, hurray for a freshly reorganized garage with lots less stuff in it.  Now I'm just hoping that my sweetie is in the same relentless purging mood when he goes through "his" pile of stuff!

Saturday, March 12, 2022

Something in the Air

 It's fresh.  

It's invigorating.  

It sounds lovely.

Let me check again.

Yep.  I think springtime is on the horizon!


Each day sunshine is warmer than it was the day before.  The top layer of soil has thawed into that delight fluff appreciated by gardeners.  Most plants are still brown and dormant, but the miniature daffodils and iris have bloomed. The rose canes are displaying red-tinged bits that promise actual green leaves in the near future. Even the sky is bluer. Best of all, each morning starts with birdsong.

Yes, there are still plenty of freezing temps ahead.  And frigid blasts of wind.  Also, snowstorms (at least I hope so, since another year of drought and wildfire is heartily to be avoided).  

But it can't be long before the new donut peach has blossoms again. And this year I will proactively protect those anticipated fruits from the varmints who made them disappear last year.

For now, I'm still ensconced in my favorite armchair while working on 2022 Christmas cross-stitch ornaments while sunshine floods our bedroom this time of year.  My garden will soon be  luring me outside where I'll be happily immersed in endless chores.  Pruning and raking and planting, oh my!

Monday, November 15, 2021

Thoughts from a girl with a leaf rake

I raked leaves today.  The sound a leaf rake makes is characteristic of autumn to me.  A metallic scratchiness as I gathered cherry leaves that fell today onto our brick patio.  Quieter on the lawn as I raked a random collection of leaves into a pile. When I switched from my metal rake to a slim rake with plastic tines as I attempted to clear apple leaves that have begun falling into the raspberry bed, it was so quiet that I could hear other leaves falling in the yard and a few swirls of leaves as the breeze moved them along paths predetermined by physics.  No power needed to fuel my rake beyond a few calories I could easily spare.  No blast of noise to be heard a block away.   

I raked leaves today.  Not for the first time this season.  These leaves are destined to be mulched and added to our compost pile.  All that energy wasn't going into body bags headed into the landfill.  These leaves were my yearly "brown" treasure to balance the "green" contribution to compost. Yeah, there were some bags that went curbside last week when the compost bin seemed full.  But a week and a soaking rainstorm has settled it enough that I can see there's room for more.  These leaves will become a rich, dark, organic addition spread throughout the yard next spring.  Magically, these apparently dead leaves will be transformed into white peonies, pink roses, tender lettuce, tart cherry tomatoes and fried zucchini slices. I don't have to do anything but put them in a pile.  Worms and bacteria will do the rest. 

I raked leaves today.  They weren't as pretty as the glowing orange leaves from the sugar maple so lovely that I took reference photos of them for a future watercolor painting.  The simple forms of the yellow-gold cherry leaves couldn't compete with the huge heart-shaped leaves from the redbud.  But there was one oak leaf easily as large as my footprint that steadfastedly refused to be added to any pile.  It was a nondescript simple unlovely brown escapee that seemed destined to reside in its own world quite separate from the smaller hawthorn and apple leaves. I was good with that.  The simple truth is that there will be more leaves to be raked.  I will have other chances to get every. single. leaf.  But not yet.  My garden looks like autumn, leaves nestling in nooks between rocks that will be challenging to clear, a few late-blooming mums.  And roses! and petunias! and a purple alyssum seedling that chose November in which to bloom. An odd mix of spring, summer and fall jumbled together.  Maybe it's okay to be a little ragged and a tad unkempt and a bit out-of-step as we prepare ourselves for challenges ahead. Maybe it's supposed to be that way.

I raked leaves today.  I was cold enough to need my heather-blue knit vest indoors, but I was glowingly warm from a bit of exercise on a mild sunny day outdoors.  Better yet, I felt relaxed and happy.  Mother Nature and I were in harmony.  We'd collaborated.  She dropped the leaves so  I could rake them into piles.  She stopped the photosynthesis so I could enjoy the colors hidden in the leaves since springtime.  She offered lessons on change, on mindfulness, on responsibility and I absorbed them.  

I raked leaves today.  It was a good day.

Monday, May 03, 2021

Dolls and More Dolls, Episode 2

It is a truth universally acknowledged that one thing leads to another. (Yes, I'm a Jane Austen fan and especially fond of Pride and Prejudice!)

Michelle and the Rosebud live two states away from me and I was worried that the doll clothes I was eager to sew wouldn't fit properly.  So, of course, I needed a "model" to try on the clothes.  I chose a knock-off doll, inexpensive and available.  

Meet Annabelle Kate. She has the sweetest expression.  I just love her!

She's adorable dressed for Easter here, but looks can be deceiving. 

Her Yacht Club dress, those cute slingback sandals and the Easter basket filled with Peeps probably distracted you.

The horrid truth is that she has the worst hair in the world.  It would be impossible for any little girl to comb her trainwreck of a coiffure.  All I could do was braid the disparate lengths into two thick braids, add red ribbons and call it good.  Well, not good, but the best possible.  And she stayed that way for four long years.  

Until I discovered the infinite wonder of doll wigs on Etsy.  When it arrived, I cut Annabelle Kate's hair.  It was such an improvement that I should have given her a trim years ago!

She looks much happier now with her new, very brushable, silky hair. 

Annabelle Kate wasn't the last doll to arrive at Meadowsweet Cottage.  You knew that was coming, right?

When the Rosebud visited and we played with Annabelle Kate (pre-makeover) and Michelle, the difference between American Girl doll hair and the knockoff doll hair was sadly even more apparent. I've always loved the look of a shorter-haired American Girl doll. And sure enough, I found a great buy on eBay.  If you think she looks like Kit Kittredge, you'd be right.  She even came with some of Kit's meet outfit and her book, which was a bonus.

I renamed her Mabel Gabriella--Bree, for short. Although I admit I sometimes think of her as "Kit".  It just means that the dolls need to play together more so I get used to calling her Bree. 

There's something special about owning such a great doll.  I'm not knocking the knock-offs, but she's made so well. Her hair is so silky and easy to comb and style.  She sits and stands beautifully.  I kinda love her!



Sunday, May 02, 2021

Dolls and More Dolls, Episode 1

I like dolls.  

 Baby dolls, Raggedy Ann dolls, Amish dolls, Barbie dolls. Dolls from the store and home-crafted dolls. These two lovelies were made by my grandma in the 1960s.  She made them for all her grandchildren and we got to choose which one to keep.  At family reunions, the Raggedies come too! Can you tell two blondies picked these?  Mine just coincidentally happens to have brown hair and blue eyes.


But my current favorites have to be American Girl dolls.  I blame it on my grand-daughter.  We bought the Samantha doll at Costco for a decent price and that was her birthday present at five.  I don't think I'll ever forget her ecstatic reaction when she opened her gift!  Priceless!

I was aware of Pleasant Company and their product--dolls from various historical periods that came with appropriate clothing and accessories and a storybook of their adventures.  I didn't know that they eventually became part of Mattel. Or that there were knockoffs (which meant that little girls from less-advantaged families could enjoy imaginative doll play also.

But once Samantha, renamed Michelle, became part of the family, I wanted to sew for her--sort of a family tradition.  And I discovered doll patterns. That meant all those little scraps of cute fabrics that I couldn't bear to toss suddenly were the right size for my projects.  Do you know how dangerous it can be when literally any material can legitimately be saved?  A stash can expand exponentially!


For better or worse, I discovered Pixie Faire, an online shop with the cutest designs ever! Great designers like Liberty Jane, Eden Ave Couture, Forever 18, Miche Designs--I could go on and on. Basic American Girl clothes from tee shirts to mini-skirts.  Fun accessories like bunny slippers and Halloween costumes.  Furniture from bunkbeds to sofas. So I started getting their free patterns then ordering new ones.  Four years later I haven't stopped sewing and crafting for Samantha/Michelle! 

In Episode 2, one thing leads to another...

Thursday, April 22, 2021

Do You Have A Favorite Spring Perennial Combo?

Every year, these two buddies bloom at the same time--candytuft and bluebells.  They welcome folks as they approach our front door.  It's such a sweet combination, made even dearer as some of the bluebells have become lavender-violet bluebells.

I started with four candytuft plants from four-inch pots many years ago, and now they and their progeny grace our entire front yard.  The bluebells have been equally prolific and I've shared their tiny bulblets with anyone who wants them.  Especially since I've begun to rein these ebullient beauties back a bit.  I mean, it would be nice to find a vacant square inch where I could plant summer color, like petunias.

As the growing season progresses, more flowers will bloom here to welcome visitors.  Columbine, roses, sweet peas, violets, lilies, clematis--and a few annuals will make their appearance during the summer's heat.  I'm hoping to add zinnias to the usual petunias this summer.  

My new heated seed-starter mat is like a magic carpet when it comes to germination.  Our growing season in the high desert is so very short, that anything which will give me a head start is valuable.  It deserves its own blog post!  (Note to self!)