bloggy stuff, coffee pot posts, critters, More gardening, Reading, Wildflowers

Good Friday 2021

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^^^My favorite flowers are multiplying well.

I dislike this new WP block editing mess. I have fooled around with pressing different buttons and got the text editor bar to appear, but I’m not sure that I could find it again. It is under Options/Visual Editor/Block and I unclicked all the buttons except Classic. Now I can’t find that again. Good luck, friends, who also relied on the classic editor, that is the best hint that I can give you. I suppose that I will figure it out eventually. I switched the Tapestry Weavers South site over to WordPress because I liked the interface here, grrr. Now, at a time when I am stressed out over having to learn too many new software platforms at work, WordPress throws its hat in the stress ring. Anyway, I guess it was inevitable and I will get used to it.

Mama always planted her garden on Good Friday. I planned to plant a few lettuce and borage seeds today, nothing major, but we had a hard freeze early this morning and will have another tonight, so I’m going to wait. They will go into the containers in the front so that I can protect them from being eaten by critters.

Here are some of my favorite flowers from the front garden: bloodroot, grape hyacinth, and dandelion. There are lots of Lenten roses also, but I am not so fond of them anymore. They reseed like crazy and I think that I’m going to have to dig up a lot of them.

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The groundhog is definitely back and I haven’t seen Robbie Rabbit lately. I would not be surprised if Robbie became dinner for a fox family, since there have been many red fox sightings in the neighborhood. Robbie was never very careful.

Sandy had his muscle biopsy yesterday and he is sleeping right now. I imagine by now the numbing medication that the surgeon put into the incision has worn off and I haven’t spoken to him yet this morning. He has a two inch incision that they closed with waterproof super glue! We are amused that his surgeon’s name is Dr. Martin. I hope that we get some answers from this and that it is not super expensive, since there was anesthesia involved. Sandy was in fine spirits yesterday, very alert on leaving the hospital, and focused on eating, as usual. He is taking some good pain meds, but he doesn’t like to take meds. I mean, if this condition turns out to be toxicity from taking statins for years, who could blame him. However, he is still convinced that it is all due to his shingles. I am anxious to get the results of the biopsy.

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^^^I want this shrub. It was blooming at the hospital.

A big front came through and blew a lot of the cherry blossoms into drifts. Last weekend, with the help of our neighbors, we got the Honda Fit battery charged up and running. I am going to clean the inside soon and see if I can get the musty smell out of the carpet with enzyme shampoo.

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See that brick wall? That is where I plant my lettuce. The old bird cage keeps the birds and squirrels out. When we get the steps rebuilt, I guess that will need to be rebuilt as well. It certainly needs a good cleaning and paint job, but I will wait. You can see how close the houses are in this neighborhood. My neighbor is back from Tanzania and his wife and son will be back from Thailand very soon. They are good neighbors and it is fun to watch his son play.

In the meantime, we received our 2020 tax refund and it included the $600 stimulus for both of us. We are still waiting for the big 2019 tax refund and the latest stimulus checks. I went ahead and booked the rest of my flight and saw that I could get a decent deal on the same flights for Sandy, and then went ahead and bought him tickets too.

I think that I’ll save this chat about the trip to Ireland for a separate post. It’s exciting.

Reading: “Holy Fools” by Joanne Harris. So far I am intrigued by it.

Back Forty, Coronavirus Chronicles, More gardening, Solar energy

Sunday morning coffee pot post

I’m finishing up my coffee before I go for a social distanced walk with a friend.

The Covid-19 news just keeps getting worse. Looks like we will have to be isolated for a very long time, mainly because of a bunch of yahoos that think they’re invincible and we are disposable. At least I can work from home or isolate in my office, although I don’t think that I will want to use the bathroom after classes begin. My prediction is that there will be a much worse second wave at the end of summer and classes will go online again. We haven’t hit the peak of the first wave here yet.

It’s tiresome, to say the least.

In other news, we have highs in the 80s now so I planted my tomatoes, etc. The Romas and squash don’t look so happy. The Better Boys and volunteer tomatoes (I hope that they are Cherokee Purple) are doing fine. Knock wood – even though the peppermint and feverfew are a pain to deal with, they seems to be keeping the groundhogs at bay so far. I took before photos that I hope will improve later:

The front hugelkultur/herb garden is looking good. Still need to plant my basil. I did not hear from the guy who I hoped to hire to help me in the garden. It is very frustrating trying to hire help and there is so much that I need help with because of tendinitis. I wonder if we will have to abandon this home for a condo or townhouse eventually. I hope not. Sandy can’t handle it all even if he was willing. (Rant deleted.)

First radish is always mine.

Positive note: For the first time in several months we produced more solar energy than we consumed. I changed most of our light bulbs to LEDs and I’ve been drying most of my clothes on racks instead of using the dryer and washing dishes by hand instead of using the dishwasher.

Sourdough was not as much of a success this week, and of course I had offered a loaf to my next-door neighbor before it came out of the oven. I jinxed it. Halving the recipe seems to make it more manageable. Next time I will let it rise longer. It didn’t rise in the oven at all.

I received my order from Dick Blick yesterday with LOTS of small cradled wood panels. My neighbor across the street who is an accomplished artist said that I could participate in his studio sale in the Fall. We’ll see if that happens, but it did light a fire in me. He has always been meh about my fiber art but he was enthusiastic about my collages. So even though I sound depressed right now I am actually kind of excited. I am going to bring a work table onto the porch and gesso some panels today.

Not much reading happening since I finished Bridge of Sighs. It’s hard to get going on a new book and I don’t want anything very depressing. I’m reading The Juniper Tree, a compilation of Grimm fairy tales illustrated by Maurice Sendak right now. Wonderful illustrations – I am tempted to cut some pages out and frame them.

TV – Ozark and Doc Martin right now. Sandy binged through Ozark. I just can’t watch TV for that long, so I’m at the end of the first season. At first I didn’t think that I could watch it but I powered through and became hooked on the plot and the excellent writing. Doc Martin for Cornwall and comic relief, although the soundtrack is making me crazy by sticking in my head.

From my walk with Susanne last Sunday:

Also, it was our 33rd anniversary yesterday. Hard to believe! So many travel memories from this time of year too. Vacillating between feeling sad and enjoying the photos.

coffee pot posts, collage, Coronavirus Chronicles, More gardening, Slow Food

Saturday Coffee Pot Post

In which I can drink coffee in the afternoon, thank you very much.

The official word is that I will be teleworking from home at least until May 22. I can still go to my office if I really need to, but my employer’s policy is for me to work at home. Right now I don’t see any reason to go in unless I absolutely have to scan something or I lose Internet connection.

I broke through some of my lethargy this week. Susanne and I took a walk last Sunday and I planted “beautiful beans” in the UNCG plot, a local heirloom crowder pea that Pat Bush gave me a couple of years ago that I planted and saved last year. I picked the last of the Rouge d’Hiver lettuce that didn’t begin to bolt in the warm weather.

Gave up on the seed starting totally. Everything is dead now. So I supported a local farmer, John Handler at Weatherhand Farms, and bought Roma, Better Boy, pepper, squash, eggplant, and snapdragon plants from the Greensboro Farmers Curb Market drive through market this morning. They are under the grow light inside for a few days until this polar vortex clears out. Also bought a pound of shrimp from George (NC Seafood) so there will be good eatin’ tonight.

Greg gave me some milkweed seed balls and I planted them on Wednesday in the herb/flower garden in the front.

I finally baked two large sourdough bread loaves from Carol’s starter and it turned out great! It didn’t kill my hands and wrists to knead it either. Next time I will divide this into four small loaves so I can give some away. I don’t have a big enough bowl to make more at one time.

I finished two matching face coverings for Sandy and I. This one has a filter inside and I can breathe through it, or maybe my allergies have gotten a lot better. (See top photo.) Now that I am comfortable with this I will make a few more and definitely play with my sewing machine more. Make some of the pleated styles.

The thing that really picked me up was the day I returned to these collages and finished them. Then I ordered a bunch of wood panels and mats from Dick Blick, along with some acrylic glazing liquid and Yes paste, which Crystal Neubauer recommends for an adhesive that doesn’t make the collage paper curl up, which is my biggest problem. Between her workshop and Melinda Tidwell’s workshop, which I did as a remote group with Triangle Book Arts, I am learning a lot about collage, and also gaining more confidence about not necessarily following the “rules.” Crystal refers to her style as intuitive collage, and I relate to that much more strongly. I am looking forward to mounting some of these collages and making a couple of gallery pages for this site in the next few months.

I cut up “Illustrated Question Box” and made it smaller. Pulled the story together.

The other one is called “100 Doses One Dollar” and I did most of it at the beginning of March. It directly relates to the Covid-19 pandemic and our country’s response to it. The saving grace, I think, was adding three small shark’s teeth that I found at North Topsail Beach several years ago. They look a little like hearts, don’t they? They are deceptive.

Oh, I am angry. Make no mistake about it. But I am moving into acceptance about the things we must do to survive the pandemic, with anger about the people who are misleading citizens, profiteering, destroying our constitutional checks and balances, suppressing votes, and literally killing. There must be anger, and action, and resistance against domestic terrorism and this fascist authoritarian regime.

More gardening, Slow Food

Gardening documentation

Hey, there are few pick-me-ups better than harvesting food that you planted yourself. I forgot that I had planted Rouge D’Hiver lettuce (a good winter lettuce variety) at the UNCG community garden plot in November. I haven’t been back until today because of depression and physical pain. I didn’t take my camera because it needed a charge, but look what I found, and a lot of it! Enough that it needed thinning badly so I pulled up whole plants and gave a couple to my new next-door neighbor.

I need to jot down what I planted or I will surely forget. I set up my wire frames in the plot where the bean poles were last year (thanks, UNCG student garden club for cleaning that up for me!) Down the middle I planted Purple Trionfo Violetto pole beans from Pinetree. These are five years old so we’ll see if they germinate. On both long sides of the plot, Green Arrow shelling peas from Southern Exposure Seed Exchange. These are three years old. On each short end, Rainbow Swiss chard, also three years old from SESE. Along the edges, Scarlet Nantes carrots, again three years old from SESE. Apparently I got a little out of control buying seeds in 2017. 2019 borage seeds from Pinetree on the side of the lettuce patch where the fire ants live. :O

When I go back, I’ll put some newspaper and new soil over a small patch next to the lettuce and fertilize the whole thing with some organic stuff I have around here somewhere.

Time for lunch, yum!

butterbeans, More gardening

Community Garden Plots

The one in front has a fire ant nest where those inherited day lilies are and about a dozen Henderson bush lima bean plants, as well as one okra, one tomato of forgotten variety, and one eggplant. I’ll be planting something here soon. Maybe more okra to go with the big butterbean harvest I hope to get from those towering bean poles in the background. I picked a double handful and hope to get enough extra to freeze for the winter. Lima beans don’t flower when it is very hot, and I got a late start on planting these. We finally had a break in the heat so I hope to get a good fall harvest.

(When I refer to butterbeans, I mean small lima beans, preferably green. Not the big brown mealy ones I’ve seen referred to as butterbeans, ugh. It’s a regional thing, I guess.)

Back Forty, coffee pot posts, critters, More gardening, Permaculture

Sunday morning coffee pot post

The garden is beginning to rot. So much rain! I weeded out a lot of ageratum and tomato plants that were done late Friday afternoon, and harvested basil for freezing in an ice cube tray yesterday. I found a few little potatoes in the planter. This yield was a bit disappointing but it was free, other than the bags of potting soil and compost I used. I will plant some more in it and see what happens.

So much of life now is a matter of wait and see what happens. I have always been a bit of a control freak, a trait that I have worked very hard to change for the last twenty years. Much of my art has changed as I have let go this and that “rule” or convention. My gardening is unconventional by most standards but controlled when you compare it to enthusiastic permaculturist standards.

Permaculture requires observation and reaction to the space and natural forces working within that space. My approach to the groundhog problem was to plant things that the groundhogs don’t like, such as alliums and smelly plants like peppermint and feverfew around the edges. They didn’t care for the ageratum either. Either it worked pretty well or somebody else took care of the problem. We’ve always had rabbits, but they don’t do that much damage.

I don’t think the high temperature got above 70 yesterday. That was how far the temps plunged with this last line of storms. It is still cool today so I am going to my UNCG garden plots and clean out the rest of the one that I am giving up. I will take some newspapers and a bag of good soil/compost to get the plot where I pulled out the cucumbers ready for fall planting. I hope that there will be some butterbeans ready to pick.

It doesn’t need to be said that everyone who is paying attention to the news is horrified right now. I haven’t taken a complete news break but I have avoided the hole. It helps to remember what I can and cannot control.

It is SO NICE to turn off the AC and hang out on the front porch with the cats again. I think that I will do that for a while first while I finish my coffee pot.

Why is my cat eating cobwebs? Seriously. I guess I will need to clean out here a bit too before Mr. Brilliant gets a spider bite in his mouth.

Back Forty, butterbeans, fiber art, Greensboro North Carolina, More gardening, Rebel stitching

Here we go again

(Note: I forgot to click Publish when I wrote this on Monday night.)

The week before fall semester classes begin is always a huge adjustment. It feels like going from 0 to 60 suddenly. Gone are the quiet days with few people on the hallway. Now I get to meet about 30 new people and do some public speaking. I’ve come to think of this as my “Sanity Box,” a little box of magic that I can take out during a lunch or other break and just hem squares or stitch them together. No major thought is going into this. Just doing.

A lot of veggies and figs have to be dealt with also. I am much better this year than I have been most Augusts. I attribute this to adding fish oil and vitamin D to my daily supplements. My therapist had suggested the fish oil, and I was vitamin D deficient for a long time. I feel better physically and mentally, although I still tire very quickly. The muggy heat doesn’t help. Yesterday evening I picked tomatoes, cucumbers, squash, eggplants, and figs, then cooked for a couple of hours. I still have a lot of cucumbers and figs to do something with. I don’t want to get out the canning equipment – it just seems like too much for too little, and I am not a huge pickle or jelly fan – but I don’t want them to go to waste. This weekend I put some cucumber slices in with my tomatoes and peppers in the electric dehydrator. They came out wispy and delicate, like soft thin leaves. I might experiment with this more. Sandy and I are planning a repeat of making fig newtons this weekend. Last year he made some good ones, but he baked them on the wrong kind of pan. The filling was great, though.

The butterbeans are overwhelming at the UNCG garden. Very tall and thickly planted. There was a lot of Japanese beetle damage at first but I outplanted them, I think. Hardly any beans, though. I think that the intense heat wave in July stopped them from flowering. I hope they will produce soon so I can get some bean in the freezer before a heavy frost happens. I pulled up most of the eggplants and the lemon cucumber vines. I was tired of them and the eggplants were buried by the bermuda grass and peppermint that I lost control of very early on. Once the Roma tomatoes and one zephyr squash plant are done, which should be before the end of the month, I am abandoning that plot. However, I do think that the grass and mint may have helped hold in moisture during the dry spell when I was traveling.

Sandy and I walked downtown on First Friday, heard music with friends on Saturday, and went to the Greensboro Science Center and out to dinner with a dear out-of-town friend on Sunday. So we had a busy social time. This poodle at Gate City Yarns agrees that Sandy is great and tried to lick him clean.

Lord, I just want to sleep and play in the studio. Daydreaming about going to Ireland. All the books I want to read. Weaving with cloth strips keeps nagging at me to come back to it. There are not enough hours in the day to do everything I want to do. How do people get bored at home?

Back Forty, More gardening, Permaculture

Back Forty Update

I have been absent from the blog lately. April seems so frantic at work that when I get home I want to read a book or garden or do something creative with my hands or just sit on the porch, where we have lost the wifi signal. I definitely don’t want to sit in front of a computer screen. I don’t even want to watch TV or movies, although we have been watching Outlander and American Gods this month.

Tomatoes and peppers and flowers are coming up in the greenhouse. I planted the leeks, onions, garlic, and chives last week. Bobbe gave me some walking onions and hardneck garlic so I will have three kinds of garlic and two kinds of onions.

I don’t usually get any fruits from my garden but I continue to try. The birds get all the blueberries as soon as they turn red (bush on left). We have to race the ants for the figs, but usually we are able to get some (bush on right). In between, I have planted a raspberry cane and two elderberry bushes. The seckel pear tree will probably get cut down this year, since it has some kind of disease and squirrels got all the pears before they were ripe anyway. If nothing else, I do feed the wildlife around here, even if it is unintentional.

For next year I am going to plant a lot more asparagus. I let this little bunch that survived the transfer from Wharton St. go to seed. The groundhogs don’t seem interested, so that means it gets a large space in next year’s plan.

Also in this photo: lots of foxgloves, feverfew, and peppermint. Again, this garden has been planned around what the groundhogs left alone last year. There are also evening primrose, one hollyhock, echinacea, and coreopsis.

The pineberries that I transferred from Wharton St. last spring have gone stone cold crazy multiplying. There is some catnip on the corner that gets lots of visits from the neighborhood felines.

As you can see in the background of these photos, lots of work is going on next door. They moved the garage back and closed it in, and now they are adding a room on the back of the house. We are going to put some of the many tomato seedlings, both volunteered and greenhouse raised, in the area next to the fence. I’m pretty sure that the neighbors nuked their side of the fence with herbicide so we will have to see how this goes.

One good thing that came from the construction next door is that I was able to retrieve enough old bricks from their digging to build up my front hugelkultur bed another layer. Great, because the area in the front used to contain potted veggies and the ground beneath that is hard rubble. I planted a lot of mint in the most shallow layer. Chives went on the bottom too. They aren’t happy, but they will probably perk up. Just planted basil, borage, arnica, sunflowers, snapdragon, and milkweed seeds in the past couple of weeks. Some of these seeds were saved and I am just giving them a chance. My friend Anne gave me some clay balls with coriander and curry seeds embedded in them so they’re in there. This should look great by the time we get back from our vacation in May.

The front shade garden is starting to look great! Funny story – a few weeks ago I overheard a friend of ours recommend someone to my husband who “would clean up all this and make it look real nice.” HA! I didn’t say anything.

Concentrating on the sunny side of the front garden now. Planted a eucalyptus here and a bunch of peppermint on the strip between my stone walk and the neighbor’s lawn on the other side of our house. This strip is actually on their kind of the property line. I plan to put potted pepper plants there too. I dug up a lot of the herbs from this side and transferred them to the hugelkultur bed, so it has room to grow.


I leave you with this shot from their neighbor’s yard in the front. These bluebells were spared from the tilling and planting of their new grass, mainly because I don’t think that they know this strip is on their side of the line.

At some point I may talk about something other than gardening, but I haven’t finished yet. I’ll leave it for later.

More gardening, Wildflowers, Wonderfulness

Spring sprung: Flowers that multiply

Bloodroots are nearing the end of their blooming season. This is one that started with one clump of roots ages ago that I’ve divided and moved around. It multiplies beautifully and provides flowers at a time when little else blooms. They will grow in shade or sun.

This variegated solomon’s seal is perfect for this soggy spot where rainwater runs out of the gutter. A purchase of three plants about ten years ago now fills in an otherwise difficult shady wet spot in my front yard. The flower spikes and foliage is gorgeous. It is just now emerging from winter’s sleep.

Another successful planting from three perennial bulbs of grape hyacinth that I bought around ten years ago. It was getting stepped on and so I dug up the three clumps, divided the bulbs, and replanted along the sidewalk.

I’ve never been able to get a 100% positive ID on this flower, but you see it naturalized in many of the older yards around here, and it is my favorite sign of spring. I think that it is in the scilla family. One “natural” gardening website actually suggested eradicating it and said that she sprayed it with Roundup to no avail. Good for you, little squills. You show ’em who’s boss. (And NEVER EVER use Roundup, and don’t use the word “natural” if you do.) UPDATE: Identification made by Nancy in the comments: Ipheion uniflorum, AKA Spring starflower. Thank you!!!


All these are in the front garden that I’ve been developing over the past decade. Hellebores, hostas, foxgloves, and comfrey take up most of the rest of it.

Back Forty, butterbeans, More gardening, Permaculture, Slow Food

Back Forty Update

Lots of flowers are growing in this new hugelkultur bed in the front at the end of my driveway, along with lots of volunteer “mouse melons,” tiny watermelon-like fruits that taste like cucumbers. I’m using them as a ground cover – did not plant them. I believe that is a Juliet tomato there that I didn’t have room for anywhere else so I just popped it in there. It might be a Roma. There’s not any fertilizer in this bed. There is mint and parsley and feverfew and calendula. I’ve pulled out the ageratum in this photo. For next year’s bloom there is hollyhock and evening primrose, and the garden balsam blooming now which should reseed freely.

So many cherry tomatoes! And a few Roma tomatoes, although quite a few have blossom end rot despite me putting Epsom salts in the planting holes. Maybe I forgot on that particular one. We have had so much rain and it has been muggy hot, so the new garden bed in the back is lush. I gather tomatoes every day and I try to pick them just as they start to ripen to keep them from splitting, and so that they don’t tempt hungry birds and critters. The ground cherries don’t make it indoors. I eat them on the spot.

^^^Ageratum grows everywhere, and I like to keep some to bloom for the bees in the fall, but it’s one of those plants that is selfish and wants all the land for itself. Now that I’ve pulled out most of the ageratum, this bed is devoted to herbs this year. There are three kinds of basil, mint, feverfew, tarragon, borage, and parsley (which was overwhelmed by the ageratum and did not grow well this year). In between there are a couple of dozen foxglove seedlings that volunteered from last year, and a few rudbeckia that survived the groundhog attack by hiding in the ageratum. The celery and kale did not survive the critter attack. The motion sensor spraying device there is out of business, and didn’t work except on humans. There are a few lamb’s quarters left in there that I eat for greens. Next spring this bed will look awesome with foxglove flowers and the bees will love it. Herbs will be shifted somewhere else next year.


^^^If I get any candy roaster squash from these vines (I see the harbinger of doom in the back of the photo) they will be huge, like pumpkins but oblong. Right now they seem hellbent on Back Forty domination. No squash in sight so far, just flowers.


^^^Butterbean Survivor – there are a few bean vines that survived the groundhog feast, and some of the damaged ones are trying to play catch-up. I’m picking beans now, but only enough to add to other dishes.

^^^”Rudbeckia Survivor – The groundhogs think that these flowers are very tasty so I’m proud of this tough little survivor that made it to full bloom.