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annuala: ('ello)
This has been a week for gardening. I've spent probably close to seven hours all told out there since Sunday, which is way more than I usually put in during the run of a week. Edging has been reset, seeds and bulbs have been planted, soil has been enriched, weeds pulled, grass trimmed. It all actually looks rather nice.

The bad news regards my tulips. They've not bloomed, and they don't look to be doing so at all this year. The foliage right now looks as it does after the bloom period. I don't know what I've done wrong. Usually, they come up, bloom, and everything is fine. The daffodils have been spectacular; ditto the hyacinths. But the tulips have just... died. I'm not sure if that has anything to do with the division work I did last fall. I hope not. I mean, the leaves did come up, there are just no blooms and no prospect of blooms.

But that's the only truly bad news. The beebalm is coming along wonderfully, even more strongly than in years past; the same, surprisingly, goes for the columbine, which I thought was finally done. I'm going to see if I can divide those plants this year.

I only have two bluebells. I had a half-dozen last year. I suspect it's the cats. Even if it's not, I suspect them. The bluebells haven't bloomed yet, either, but they look more promising.

I put liatris bulbs where the bachelor's buttons were last year, and some in with the daylilies. We'll see how they come along. Liatris were supposed to go in where the daylilies are, but Vesey's sent me the wrong bulbs. Whatever. The lilies are nice.

Speaking of lilies, the ones by the north side of the house are coming along nicely. They don't seem to have been terribly affected by the division work I did on them, apart from there being rather more of them now. I expect they'll bloom nicely come July.

The lilac looks absolutely amazing. No flowers yet--I probably won't see my first lilac flowers until next year or the year after. But it's as tall as Julieanne, so coming on to four feet, I'd say, and just bristling with leaves.

The rhododendron is once again bigger than it was last year, and it has sprouted two babies by the roots. It'll be another week or two before it blooms, but I'm sure it'll be as spectacular as always.

The herb garden has a new addition. I planted some mint, at long last. I understand it has a tendency to take over. I'll just let it battle it out with the current champion, marjoram. Holy Hannah, that stuff can grow! It's pushing out the thyme. The lavender isn't affected by it (at least not yet), because the thyme stands between it and the marjoram. What's affected my lavender has been my own stupidity. Earlier this spring, I thought the tangle of dead branches looked unsightly, so I trimmed it back. Big mistake. Apparently, lavender is more like a shrub in that the leaves and such go dead, but the woody bits are actually alive all winter, just dormant. *facepalm* I do have little bits of green popping out on it now, but I've probably put its growth back a year or two.

The Rosebush from Hell (TM) is thriving, of course, and I've yet to trim it into submission. I need to get hold of a pair of hedge trimmers to really tackle it, but I'm thinking that if I don't, I'll just go at it with my little bypass pruners. The Rosa Mundi bush... well, it got mowed over last fall. I have no idea if it's going to come back, but I'm tending the little nub of wood as if I expect it will. Fingers crossed.

I did a lot of work on the hydrangea last fall and this spring. I've trimmed off most of the lower branches, so now it looks more like a tree and less like a mound of leaves. Underneath there is a huge bare patch--well, it's bare now that I've dug out all the weeds. I put black earth and composted sheep manure in there to condition the soil, and then scattered seeds throughout. I bought a mix of seeds that are supposed to attract butterflies, a combination of annuals, perennials, and biennials. I can't wait to see how this turns out.

The hostas are up and looking good. The astilbes seem to have spread; I may have to move the hostas from that bed, if it looks like the astilbes are going to choke them out. I put lily-of-the-valley under the sundeck as well, but the soil there is just so much clay. I added composted sheep manure today, so we'll see what comes of that. I hope they take; I'd love some of those lovely little flowers in the garden.

But the jewels of the garden this year--at least so far--promise to be the peonies. They're finally, after three years, going to flower! I can't say how excited I am about this. This is what gardening is all about: patience. Gardeners have to be patient. Not every plant does its thing the first or even the second year after planting. Peonies take a few years to really set their roots down; same with lilacs. But once they're in, they're in for life. As soon as they bloom, I promise there will be photos. Oh, yes, there will be photos!


May. 14th, 2012 01:33 pm
annuala: (Default)
Another day off, another two and a half hours in the garden. Ow. But I've managed to get all the prep work for next weekend done. All I need now is the compost and such... oh, and the plants. Yeah, remember how I'd started a bunch of seeds way back in March? They're all dead. Every single one. I only had about nine of the little peat pots sprout, and now every single seedling is dead. Including my much-desired tomato plants. *sighs* No idea what went wrong. Probably it was keeping them in the bedroom that did it; there's likely not enough sun there. But they simply couldn't stay in the living room with all those children.

However, I have dug out every single weed I could find as best I could. Can I just say that burdocks are the most vile things ever? They're impossible to dig out once they've set roots. I would dig down by one, and dig, and dig... hit a rock... dig the rock out... keep digging for the root... it never ended! I swear, burdock roots go straight through the molten core of the planet and spawn other burdock plants on the other side.

And if anyone is ever looking for a foolproof way to keep cats out of the flower beds, here's my tip: bamboo kebob skewers. Plunk them in the soil, pointy end up, fairly close together. Cats can't get round them.

I'm also repurposing some old concrete blocks from Dad's old shop's foundation into planters. My cousin showed me photos via Facebook. You take three blocks, the sort that look like a blocky number 8, put two at right angles to each other and the third on top of the angle itself. It's actually reasonably attractive, especially once you get plants in. And unlike the wooden planters we've had for years, the concrete isn't going to rot. I need to level off the ground where I'm putting them, though, so they don't tip and injure a small child. The planters will be set up where the wooden ones are now, by the steps leading up to the sundeck, and should be fairly well out of the way there, so the kids won't stumble over them or crack their heads or anything.

I can say that right now, my daffodils and hyacinths are blooming and making the bees very happy. The tulips are slow to come on, but by the end of the month, they should be blooming too. I'm not holding out much hope for the bluebells, though. I've managed to spot only two plants coming up. I blame the rotten cats; I didn't realize the buggers were getting in under the viburnums and... well, using my bluebell bed as an outdoor privy. Had I, there'd have been a bamboo palisade there long since.
annuala: (Default)
I believe I may be one of the last people on the planet (or at least the blogosphere) to see The Avengers. I went to a matinee this afternoon, thoroughly prepared to be thrilled to my toes and blown away to boot. And I was not disappointed. )

So now I'm waiting for Iron Man 3, Thor 2, and Captain America 2. And I really, really want Hawkeye and Black Widow to have their own movie. I do have a thing for a man with a bow and a quiver-full of arrows. ;-)
annuala: (Default)
It's late April, and the garden has begun to bloom. The daphne actually started blooming in late March, and its purple blooms are being pushed aside by the green leaves coming out now. The crocuses were up, and doing well, until we had three days of torrential rain over the weekend. It's been terribly dry, and we needed the rain, but it was the difference between using a sprinkler and using a bucket: the crocuses were flattened. The early-blooming daffodils, the little Jetfire ones, are on the verge of opening up; another day or two ought to do it, especially if we get more sun. (It's been another rainy day today, though.)

Right now, though, the glory of the garden is... well, glory-of-the-snow:



Glory-of-the-snow II
annuala: (cowpats)
This is what I woke up to this morning:

Beware the Ides of March

This is the result of what's called "Shelagh's Brush" in these parts, a snowfall, or more often, a snowstorm, on or about St. Patrick's Day.

And to think, just three days ago, I was swooning over daffodil shoots. :-/
annuala: (Default)
Spring. It's more than a week away from the vernal equinox, but there are signs... I saw half a dozen robins yesterday, and several more today... four deer on a neighbouring lawn... and these:



New tulip bed

The top one is daffodil shoots, while the other two are tulip shoots. Hard to see, I know--if you go over to the original Flickr posting, you can see the notes I put in to mark them. :-)
annuala: (10thdoctor)
Yesterday, I finally got round to making a cosy for the little teapot my cousin had given me a couple of years ago for Christmas. I love the pot, but haven't used it regularly because it's such a nuisance to wrap a tea-towel around it. And because of my almost legendary inertia when it comes to certain projects, it's taken this long to go from idly thinking, "I should make a tea-cosy for that pot," to actually buying fabric and taking measurements.

I borrowed my cousin's sewing machine, a nice portable dealie. (I don't sew enough to make it worth my while to invest in a machine.) And I sat down to do it. The process took longer than I'd thought, since I'd forgotten rather a lot about sewing since the last time I sat down at a machine, but I managed somehow. The results, alas, aren't exactly... well, symmetrical.

Slightly wonky tea-cosy

I also took the leftover fabric and made another item I'd been thinking a lot about: a slipcover for my e-reader case. The case itself protects the e-reader; the slipcover just prettier.


I'm thinking that the next one I make will have "Don't Panic" appliqued or stitched onto the front...
annuala: (Default)
I love the route of my morning walk. Every other house seems to have a dog in the yard.

First, there's my cousin and his wife across the road. Their two mixed-breeds, Sadie and Bentley, are usually in the yard when I start out (and when I finish). I'm not sure which is which--we've never been formally introduced. I have a feeling that Bentley is the brown-and-white collie-looking one that barks the most, and Sadie is the golden-brown retriever-looking one. I like to think they're barking hello at me, but I'm not sure.

The next house down on the west side of the road has a black Labrador. This morning she (I know it's a bitch, because I heard her owner shouting to her once, but I can't recall her name) was chasing an orange road-hockey ball in the yard. The whole attitude was, "OMG, OMG, gotta get the ball, gotta get the BALL," which is, frankly, a general Labrador trait. But it made me smile to see her go.

Two houses down, still on the west side, there's a pair of Rottweilers, an adult and a half-grown pup. Usually I see the adult, if the dogs are out at all. That's the one that barks at me, in a very Rottie way: "I see you, I smell you, stay away!" Rottweilers are a protective breed, very attached to their handlers and usually gentle with them, but they don't like strangers. I know this, so I deliberately ignore the barking and simply keep on the road. I don't speed up; sometimes I slow down, but never look at the dog.

Next door to that is a house with a piebald mixed breed--she looks like she might have some border collie in her. She's the one that tried to follow me home once. I think they've got one of those underground fencing units now, because she doesn't try to follow me, just barks like crazy in the yard. There's also a pair of pugs, one of which ran across the road one morning to greet me. It assaulted my ankles and my knees trying to say hello. I was more worried about it being squashed by traffic, which was fortunately non-existent at the time.

Now, four houses down, on the easterly side of the road, just where I make my turn to come home, there's a new family in an old farmhouse. And one day last week, I was coming along and saw two--TWO--mastiffs in the yard, with their owner. One, a bitch, came gallumphing up the road to meet me. Now, the sight of this creature roughly the size of a Shetland pony with the build of a slimline tank coming at one might turn some people's knees to jelly and/or encourage them to run in the opposite direction. Not so for me. The bitch's whole attitude was, "Hey! Hi, howareyoutoday? Friends??" I was more worried about being slobbered on than being bitten or knocked down. In fact, I said to her, "Go on home, ya great slobbery thing, ya!", laughing as I said it. She did, actually. Then she came back, and I gave her a scritch behind the ears before sending her home again. And yes, there was some slobber on my sleeve afterward. Sadly, I haven't seen the dogs since.

A friend of mine, witnessing an unsecured dog come up to me on a Halifax street, declared that dogs all knew I was their kind of person. I suspect he was right.
annuala: (cowpats)
-15C/5F + no heat in the car + stopping to put the recyclables in the blue bins = a frozen and sobbing me this morning.
annuala: (marleysghost)
A New Year's meme! Stolen from [personal profile] lady_mishegas and [personal profile] semibold

b>1. What did you do in 2011 that you'd never done before?

Erm... baked cookies with a three-year-old. I've never done that before.

2. Did you keep your new years' resolutions, and will you make more for next year?

I don't do resolutions. Sometimes I have a theme... last year was the Year of Learning to Cook. And I did.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?

Umm... well, my cousin Stephen's wife Adrienne gave birth to their second boy, Travis. I don't know if that counts as close, since I rarely see anyone from that side of the family.

4. Did anyone close to you die?

Not really close, no one in my family, but in my wider circle of friends, the group at rec.arts.mystery lost our wonderful Vicki.

5. What countries did you visit?

The UK. Well, technically, England, since I didn't go to Wales or Scotland.

6. What would you like to have in 2012 that you lacked in 2011?

Considering that I have a roof over my head, food in my belly, people who love me, money enough to keep my bills paid (pretty much), I'd have to say I lacked very little last year. Maybe more quiet time, more sleep--you can never go wrong with more sleep.

7. What date(s) from 2011 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?

25 May--the day I finally met [personal profile] mitchy! Oh, and saw David Tennant and Catherine Tate in Much Ado About Nothing.

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?

Learning to cook. I've always been a baker, but I've never been much of a cook, though I can boil an egg. I've taken over making supper most evenings.

9. What was your biggest failure?

To lose the weight I gained over Christmas 2010. It was only a few pounds, but it stuck like glue!

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?

I had a persistent inflammation in the cartilage of my chest wall, which was by turns frightening and irritating. Every day was a trial of pain. Not serious pain, as I'm sure there are plenty of people out there who suffer worse every day, but just constant. And until about April, nearly a year after the inflammation first started, I'd no idea what the root cause was. When my doctor's locum suggested I might have a herniated disk in my neck, and I started taking care of my neck, it all cleared up!

11. What was the best thing you bought?

A wire-free bra. That's related to the whole inflammation thing. I discovered that any pressure on my sternum, which is all cartilage, after all, made me feel as if I couldn't breathe properly. I tried a wire-free T-shirt bra, and there was little or no pressure on my sternum--bliss! I keep hoping I'll be able to get back into the underwire bras, just because I have so darn many of them (from the Year of Interesting Underwear), but it's not looking likely.

12. Whose behavior merited celebration?

Everyone who stood up for human rights everywhere.

13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?

Big Oil. Big Business.

14. Where did most of your money go?

To pay bills, buy food, stuff like that.

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?

Well, at first, the new Duran Duran album... but then I listened to it, and was disappointed. And then there was the prospect of seeing Duran Duran when I was in England... but then Simon LeBon got laryngitis (totally not his fault!) and the shows were cancelled. But on a par with that, there was meeting [personal profile] mitchy, whom I've known online for years but had never met in real life. And then we did. And it was lovely! And next time I go to the UK, there will be more meeting, I'm sure. :-) Oh, and there was that thing about the play with David Tennant. ;-)

16. What song will always remind you of 2011?

"I Don't Get By" by The Sheepdogs. It was always on the radio, it seems.

17. Compared to this time last year, are you:
i. happier or sadder? Roughly the same, I think. I tend towards happy most of the time.
ii. thinner or fatter? Sadly, fatter. I didn't quite get rid of last year's Christmas weight, and I've added to it over the holidays.
iii. richer or poorer? My car insurance went down, but I bought health insurance, so my overall payments went up. My student loan payments went down, but I'm paying the same anyway. My internet bill went up. We got a satellite dish, and I pay into that. Gasoline is always going up. Food costs more. I'd say I'm poorer.

18. What do you wish you'd done more of?

Playing with my niece when she wanted me to. I try to, but sometimes I just can't. She'll want me to play when I've just come back from a walk, and I'm sweaty and in need of a shower, for example.

19. What do you wish you'd done less of?

Grumbling. I have a tendency, though I'm a happy person, to grumble about Things that Are Not Right. It really doesn't do anyone any good, unless that grumbling actually leads to change.

20. How did you spend Christmas and New Year's Eve?

Christmas morning was presents and a pancake breakfast with everyone. Christmas evening was dinner at my brother Dave's; after dinner involved me, my niece, and a jigsaw puzzle. New Year's Eve saw me work from 11 till 4:30, then come home. We didn't really have supper; I had some crackers and cheese when I got in, then we had some Chinese style appetizers and wings later. Mom & Mark watched The Day After Tomorrow; I saw a bit, then sloped off to watch the "William Shatner's Weird or What?" marathon on History. Someone drunk-dialled us at a little after midnight. That's all the excitement we had.

21. Who did you spend the most time on the phone with?

Probably Mom.

22. Did you fall in love in 2011?

I did! His name is Temeraire. He's a Chinese Imperial dragon. Very charming in a dragony sort of way, and utterly adorable.

23. How many one-night stands?

None, unless you count that thing with David Tennant.

24. What's your favorite TV program?

Oh, dear. Since getting the satellite TV, I've become an addict. I've discovered "Burn Notice" and "Warehouse 13". I've continued my love affair with a certain 900-year-old Gallifreyan. I still love "Castle" and "Hawaii Five-0". And I've fallen in love with "Once Upon a Time" and "Grimm".

I watch way more TV than I need to now...

25. Do you hate anyone now that you didn't hate this time last year?

Life's too short for hate.

26. What was the best book you read in 2011?

Downpour by Kat Richardson. I've been loving the Greywalker series for some time, and it just keeps getting better.

Honourable mention: Ghost Story by Jim Butcher.

27. What was your greatest musical discovery?

Err... Mumford and Sons.

28. What did you want and get?

Sorry, I don't have an answer to this one.

29. What did you want and not get?

See above. I'm pretty content. :-)

30. What was your favorite film of this year?

I know I didn't see any at the cinema... never did seem to be able to find the time. And everything that seemed interesting came out in 3D. I'm not paying extra for that "experience," thanks very much. If I see Sherlock Holmes: Game of Shadows, it won't be till sometime this month. I guess I'll pick Thor, because I liked it better than Captain America: The First Avenger, both of which I saw on DVD.

31. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?

I was 41, and... I don't remember. I'm pretty sure I worked. Oh, [profile] elfsausage made me a photo story on LiveJournal. That was nice. :-)

32. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?

I don't know--I had a pretty good year. Maybe if my friends had had a better 2011, that would have made things more satisfying.

33. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2011?

My what?

34. What kept you sane?

The meds. Absolutely. ;-) No, I'll go with my yoga practise. That kept me from going off my nut during the insanity of work, for sure.

35. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?

Alex O'Loughlin. Come on, look at those eyes, that face... those pecs, those abs... *drools* I think it's in his contract that he has to take his shirt off every second episode of "Hawaii Five-0," and if it isn't, it should be. (Yes, I'm that shallow.)

36. What political issue stirred you the most?

Apart from the Occupy movement? Nothing, really. We had an election here, and now we're stuck with a majority Conservative government in Ottawa, so I'm not best pleased.

37. Who did you miss?

My brother Jason and his wife Zan.

38. Who was the best new person you met?

I would have to say [profile] elfsausage's friend Rachel, and Rachel's husband Dave. I met them when I was in England, at the British Museum. They're both very lovely people. :-)

39. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2011:

Keep calm and carry on. There's really nothing you can achieve by getting all fussed about things.

40. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year:

Sorry, can't think of a one.
annuala: (xmas)
Due to technical difficulties (we lost internet access yesterday morning), I was unable to brighten your Christmas day with this:

I have a bonus treat, too. We had a family brunch yesterday with my brother, SIL, and niece. Last night, it was dinner at their place. And as some do, we're having family over for Boxing Day. It was going to be a potluck dinner, but it's become a finger-food-and-nibblies sort of affair. Nothing wrong with that! But if you've had your fill of family for the season, here's a seasonal tune from Elvis Costello:

annuala: (countdown)
I was brought up Catholic. I spent countless Sunday mornings in church and attending Sunday school (technically called Catechism, even though since Vatican II, the Catechism has rather gone by the wayside). I have to admit, even though I'm sort of lapsed, I still feel the pull to Mass on Christmas Eve. And Christmas Eve Mass always--in whatever church I was in--included this song. It still calls up indefinable emotions for me.

annuala: (countdown)
Right, into the home stretch. Here's a traditional carol that I once had to sing as part of a choir. (Yes, strangely enough, I was part of a choir once, long ago. Can't credit it now.) This version is sung by the great Pavarotti. I dare you not to have tears in your eyes and/or feel uplifted by this.

annuala: (countdown)
The forecast is calling for snow tomorrow, a couple of inches. Naturally, that means I won't be driving. Sadly, that will be hard on both parties: me, because I won't be able to sneak a nap in the afternoon (I'll be short on sleep that night), and my brother, because he'll have to stay till 11 PM in order to drive me home. But I'll try to be positive. After all, who doesn't like a white Christmas? And hey, Kim Stockwood here can almost (almost!) make me feel good about snow:

annuala: (Default)
Hobbit trailer!

annuala: (countdown)
A blessed Yule to you, if you celebrate the solstice, as the Norse (and Germans, and others) did. For indeed, 'tis the longest night of the year. It's already getting dark here, and it's not even 3:30 PM yet! (Though I suspect that might have a little something to do with the rain.) In honour of this holy night, an offering from the choir of King's College, Cambridge, "O Holy Night."

(Yes, I know it's a different holy night, but let's just go with it.)
annuala: (countdown)
Oooh, here we are, just five more sleeps till Christmas... or in my case, four and a half sleeps (I won't be getting much sleep Friday night, on account of a) working late and b) working early the next day).

On my frigid walk this morning, I was listening to a Christmas mix CD that I'd made some years ago and wondering how I'd make up to [personal profile] jenni411 for "Dominick the Donkey" yesterday. And then the next track on the CD was the following. [personal profile] jenni411, I know there's nothing particularly Christmassy about Pachelbel's Canon in D, but somehow Trans-Siberian Orchestra make it work.

annuala: (countdown)
Sorry I missed out yesterday. I got up late, having had a late night beforehand, and I had to be at work for 11:45, so between breakfast & my shower, I didn't have a chance to go online. But I'll make it up today with two videos.

I'm in a sort of silly mood, so here are a couple of silly ones. First, the inimitable Louis Armstrong with "'Zat You, Santa Claus?"

And here's another, possibly not as well known: Lou Monte's "Dominick the Donkey"

annuala: (countdown)
Nuts! I love 'em! I remember Dad always buying a bag of mixed nuts in the shell at Christmastime, and all of us having a go at them. Dad ate the most, I think, but I'm sure I was a close second. And what do you need to get at nuts in the shell? A nutcracker, of course!

annuala: (countdown)
A couple of Facebook friends posted a version of this involving the Muppets, which put me in mind of the "proper" version. It's always been one of my favourite carols, though I tend to prefer an all-bells version.


annuala: (Default)

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