Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Night Gardening

I've been busy. Kind of stressed out from work obligations and because I'm just generally prone to angst. But I've been mostly happy.

I lost my wallet yesterday. I had it when I got on the bus (I'm sure of this because it has my bus pass in it), but when I fished for it a minute after leaving the bus, I didn't have it. I was sleepy and it probably slipped out of my bag without me realizing it. I've contacted the transit authority lost and found and plan to do so again tomorrow in case it turns up today, and I cancelled my credit card and bank card and applied for a new license. My wallet also contained a fully stamped buy-nine-coffees-get-one-free card from the coffee shop where we have our lab meetings, and today's meeting was going to feature my free coffee. My labmates encouraged me to ask for a free coffee anyway, so I did, and they gave it to me! It helps that this particular coffee place bases itself on bringing people together in a spirit of cooperation and love. So if that means giving someone a free coffee, so be it. I refrained from ordering a large, but still felt guilty about asking for a medium rather than a small. A medium is what I need to get me through my day.

I'm considering adopting a new hobby: night gardening! I started working in the yard in the late afternoon today and had so much energy (thanks to the free coffee) that I continued working until after dark. It reminded me of when I was a kid and we would play outside well after the sun went down, and everything would take on a mysterious, almost magical quality. I swear I could run faster in the dark. At least it seemed so.

The only drawback to night gardening is that you can't see what you're doing. Otherwise, it's great. Very calming.

One of my gardening projects was to remedy the birdfeeder situation. The birds throw all the seed on the ground, and have, on occasion, used up a whole half-gallon of seed in one day. According to my googling, this happens when you use a seed mix; most birds focus on one type of seed, often black sunflower, which has the highest fat content of the typical bird seeds. My seed mix contained approximately 0.0000003% black sunflower. So the sparrows would sweep the seeds everywhere with their beaks, aptly imitating the SNL dance club skit featuring the song "What Is Love", and the seed would fly around like reflected light from a disco ball. "Baby don't hurt me. Don't hurt me. No more." Do you wanna dance? With me? No? Okay cool.

The suggested way to prevent this waste is to only put one type of seed into the feeder, and have two or more feeders, each with one type, so there is some variety and you don't exclude any birds, such as those that can't open the shells. This is more expensive than a seed mix but considering how much is wasted with the mix, it might cost about the same over time, with the bonus that you don't get a pile of seeds under the feeder, unless you have really stupid birds in your area.

I was not aware of the full extend of the problem until I attempted to sweep up the seeds. I thought the birds and squirrels hopping around on the ground were doing a good job of cleaning up, but I was wrong. The seeds were 4-5 inches deep and spread 3-4 feet around the feeder, inside plants, around rocks, and in the grass, and from surface to the deepest part went fresh wasted seed and sunflower shells, not-so-fresh seed, gray clumped seed, seed that had taken root and grown into a cute little grass, seed that was almost fully composted, and seed that was incorporated into a black wet substance that might have been mold. Just a huge mess. It was piled high and deep into the mystery plant with pink flowers that I blogged about a while back (that turned out to be apple blossom yarrow, incidentally). It was difficult getting the seeds out of the plant and I'm worried that I might have damaged it. Fortunately, I don't really like that plant. Anyway, I used a broom, a rake, and a trowel in turns until I filled up half of a lawn bag with seeds in various stages of decomposition. I'm not sure what to do with all of it; it's not allowed in the regular trash, since I think it qualifies as yard waste, and I don't think it belongs in the yard waste composting lot that we take our leaves and clippings to when the container gets full, since it's a strange material. I'll figure it out.

Another project I engaged in after dark was making a birdbath using a plant stand, plastic tray, bungee cords, sea glass, rocks and beads. I'll post a picture when I can. I'm thoroughly pleased with how it turned out, but all that matters is that the birds like it. If I were a bird, I would like it. If it gets any use I might make another one using one of our stumps-on-wheels.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008


Here's the kitchen floor with what was referred to on the swatch as "Blue Hue" but what turned turned out to be "White Fright".

No, that is not an abyss, it's the floor. We went through the swatches again and picked a color called "Stillness".

It looks lighter in the photo than in reality. Honestly, I thought it would be darker, but I'm still happy with it. We just finished coating it with polyurethane and we might put another coat of that down. I plan to add a 5' by 8' rug, probably sisal, and some accessories to bring in both paint colors. Compared to the original baby-poop brown, this is much less depressing, more light and airy, and almost beachy. But I don't want a beach theme. I live in Minnesota.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Mistakes in Paint and Film

Just thought I'd check in. We painted the kitchen floor white this past weekend. I don't even want to take a picture. It was supposed to be light blue but it turned out looking decidedly white. I've seen white kitchen floors in the magazines but this is a cold bluish white, and it's already got dirt smudges and scuff marks on it, and it's supposed to be porch and floor paint. The paint matches the swatch, but somehow the swatch is blue and the floor is white. I just don't get it.

I was going to put a large area rug over it but Stanley wants to try again with a darker blue. I'm mildly discouraged and I don't want to have to go through the whole Home Depot paint dance again. My concern is that even if we put down the right blue, perhaps blue is the wrong choice. If you recall, the walls are green. It seems like a mistake but it just might work, you know? It was surprisingly easy and quick to put down primer and floor paint, so one more coat will be a snap. I guess. I just hope it looks a little better, and less sad and blinding. That's all I want.

We're watching the film Love in the Time of Cholera and it sucks real bad, don't bother.

But in general things are great. The day lilies and hostas (hosta?) are starting to bloom, and so are the zucchini. We've got lots of tomatoes trying to ripen in the shade and having a hard time. No hummingbirds at all but the ants are enjoying the feeder. OH the blackberry vodka isn't too bad, kind of sweet, rather drinkable, and as it turns out, it's actually black raspberry vodka. So if we added sugar, we would have Chambord.

Wow, what a bad film.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Today's Theme: Black

I finally got around to my Paint It Black project. All of the items are yard sale finds. The two lamp bases were originally white; I plan to put them in the bedroom. When I bought the bench last year, it was emerald green with the original white showing through the brush strokes; I think it was supposed to look shabby chic, but it was more like shabby shitty, plus it had other random paint drips on it since we used it to reach the tops of the walls when we did our move-in painting. I'm thinking perhaps the bedroom for the bench, but if that doesn't work there are a million other places I could put it. And the barstools will go in the kitchen. I ran out of paint in the middle of the second stool. I thought two cans would be enough for everything.

We have blackberries growing behind the garage, and the first ones ripened a couple of days ago. Based on the way they cluster, and their size, I think they might be wild blackberries as opposed to the garden variety. HA! Garden variety! I'm punny. The center one always ripens first. Aren't they cute? They taste pretty good.

We get about 5 or 6 berries per day; not enough to make jam or a pie, unless we freeze them, and then what's the point of having fresh berries? So we thought of how we could use them, and I suggested, we could throw them on a salad. Weeee, fun. Then Stanley had a better idea: make blackberry-infused vodka.

I love the color. We're going to throw in more berries as we get them. It should be ready in about a week, at which time we'll filter out the berries and chill it. I'll let you know how it tastes.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Garden Update, etc.

Here is what the front garden currently looks like. A mystery fern-like plant (under the birdfeeder) with a gorgeous blossom that stinks and attracts some type of small fly. Also, a lily with some type of fireworks name that I can't remember, and some other random flowers. And as always, a prominent gas meter.

On the left side of the house, Stanley's zucchini is doing well:

We had a nice time visiting the in-laws in Texas for the 4th of July weekend. The Spupspe nephews and niece are a year older than the last time we saw them and I could definitely tell the difference. More talking, less screaming, more sharing, good kids. It wasn't too hot, maybe low 90s, but still hotter than I'm used to. Here in MN it's in the 80s and muggy. People are complaining about the "heat" but they need to be more specific. There is actually a cool breeze, but it's muggy, causing one to sweat. That's different from "heat". "Heat" is on the 2nd floor of our house, which we have stopped using because it's too uncomfortable. The basement is nice and cool. The main floor is warm but not unbearable. We did turn on the central AC yesterday for the first time. I wanted to see if we could go the whole summer without it, but Stanley was too warm so I didn't argue too much.

Hope you guys in CA can get some fresh air somewhere. Try the coast? Ocean breeze? Maybe not?

I'll try to write more often. I've got a lot of house projects on hold until I get more time, which I will then blog about.

Must get some "real" work done today.