Saturday, June 23, 2007

Bloomin' mazus!

Checking on my flowers this afternoon, I was surprised to see that some of the new mazus I put in a few weeks ago have tiny new blooms! I've been pleased to see that, perhaps because it's been unusually mild so far this year, they've all managed to avoid "transplant shock" despite getting planted so late in the season that they were almost solidly rootbound. However, even though some of them still had a few very late blooms on them when I bought them, I never expected new blooms in late June on a plant that typically blooms in April! One more unexpected pleasure to add to the list - several days so perfect I could have the windows open for 2 or 3 days running, seeing that last year's mazus are starting to take hold (though they aren't spreading very quickly at all), and now the new mazus not only aren't protesting their transplant, but are putting out new blooms.

The other things I put in last week with the tiller are also busy establishing themselves. The cayenne seems to have discouraged whatever was knocking over the potted portulaca, and the portulaca in the ground look like they're going to do well once they get over being rootbound. The mountain laurel and royal fern seem to be settling nicely into their new spots, and the rambling fern is already starting to to do just that - it's already put out a few new fronds, and has laid down several of the older ones so they can start spreading.

I've never tried to grow ferns before, so I'm enjoying the process. Next week I'm going back out to the cabin, so I'll get to see how the ferns out there are doing. That rambler was also starting to spread; can't wait to see how that's worked out, and how the other types of ferns are doing. Not to mention how the euonymus and pachysandra are doing, and whether there's anything left at all of those lilies-of-the-valley I planted.

Can anyone explain to me...

With the weather so brilliantly mild the past few days (low humidity and temps only in the 80s), I've had the front door and all the windows open. The ice cream trucks are on their summer rounds and their little recorded music "mixes" have been drifting in my open windows. What I'd like to know is, why on earth are they playing Christmas carols in the middle of summer?!? I'm not talking "Frosty the Snowman" either; they're playing "Silent Night" and "God Rest ye Merry, Gentlemen"!

TW's now a "single-digit midget"!

In other words, he's down to 9 days and a wake-up before he gets on that homeward-bound plane! YEE-HA!!!!

Friday, June 22, 2007

Going places

My new passport finally arrived yesterday, 14 weeks to the day after I mailed off my old, expired passport and my renewal application and less than a month before I'll need it. I thought applying in March for a passport for a July trip would be plenty of time; now I'm really glad I told them my travel dates were in June, not July!

Now that I have that taken care of, I'm starting to get excited about our trip to Montreal. We've got our plane tickets and B&B reservations, and now I've got my passport. (TW's is still good for another few years.) TW gets home in only a week and a half, whereupon I start 3 weeks of time off work - YEE-HA! We'll be bopping around a bit - some time at the cabin, our trip to Montreal, a day trip or two, even staying home to work on whichever home improvement project he decides to tackle first - but at last we'll finally be together, instead of two continents apart!

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Nice surprise

Management had an impromptu "awards ceremony" in the office this afternoon to announce the names of those who were getting promoted this year. One was a surprise, even to the awardee; he admitted himself that when they told him, he was completely taken aback, as he'd gotten his current GS grade just 3 or 4 years ago. He was already flourishing the Exec parking permit to which his new grade entitles him; we were joking that for most people going to that grade, the reserved parking permit is more important than the money.

Once the promo announcements were made, they started calling up people who'd gotten a cash award, of which I was one! Turned out management had scraped together a team award for those of us who were regulars on the "weekends and holidays" rota. Not a huge amount by the time they divvied it up, but enough that, as I e-mailed TW, I can easily afford to take him to the Ritz for dinner to celebrate his birthday, and can even afford to spring for coffee & dessert. ;)

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Still decorating

Stopped by the fancy-schmancy "home design" sibling to one of the 2 big home improvement chains today. I was looking for a pair of 18" double towel bars for the new bathroom at the cabin; no luck. You want 24"? You've got your choice of at least 4 different finishes, in a huge array of styles. But 18"? They had single towel bars only, no doubles. So when I got home, I searched on the computer and within half an hour had a pair of 18" doubles (discontinued, so they were half price) and a matching toilet paper holder. Lordy, I love shopping on line - you can find anything!

If I'm really lucky, they'll arrive by next Thursday, so I can take 'em out to the cabin and get them installed next weekend. My dream is to get all the blinds (excuse me, "cellular shades") up in the new bedroom, hang the towel bars in both downstairs bathrooms, and get them all "dressed" with towels so they'll all look a bit more lived-in and less like the contractors just left.

And if I get to my sewing machine now, maybe I can run up the sheers for the front & back foyer doors. We already have the curtain rods for the doors & sidelights; just need the curtains.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Feeling crabby

Reasons I feel entitled to wallow in grumpiness today:
- One of our senior folks moved to another office and his replacement is gonna need some time to get up to speed on the project and her new managerial duties. Another of our senior folks is out of town on extended leave, helping his brothers wrap up their dad's estate. Which means that those of us still in the office have to cover for them. See me do my "one-armed paperhanger" dance...
- Maybe it's just the temporary uptick in the workload, but at the moment I'm not too crazy about my job. It's nice to be someone whose opinion is valued, but some days I just want everyone to leave me alone so I can get one thing finished without interruption.
- The idiots on the road in this area seem to get worse and worse. Just on the way home tonight, I had at least 3 people fly around me on the right before I could move right myself to get out of their way and get them off my bumper. Then there was the twit who anticipated a green and made his left turn early, and the one who was out in the middle of the intersection waiting to make his left, then, when his light turned red, decided no, he was gonna go straight instead.
- Got home to find that some blasted neighborhood critter (probably a cat, though I have no proof) had once again knocked over one of the flowerpots I just put on the front steps 2 days ago. (The same flower pot got dumped last night, too.) I generously cayenned the steps and the area around the steps; we'll see if it does any good.
- TW is due to come home 2 weeks from tomorrow! Now that it's finally close enough to be worth counting down, all the weight of missing him is coming back in a rush and the house seems a whole lot quieter than usual.

Sunday, June 17, 2007


My mini-tiller came a couple of weeks ago, but first I had to get another wrench to put it together (we only had one of the requisite size, but needed two), then yesterday I finally carved out a bit of time to put it together. Once I did, though, I put it to use immediately. I worked a couple of bags of topsoil into a corner of the yard that's on a short but steep slope and planted the last of the portulaca I bought a while back. (And replanted a few crocus bulbs that got thrown to the surface in the process.) I'm hoping they'll serve as a nice ground cover until next spring, when I can get some creeping phlox for that spot to keep it from washing away and generally looking barren.

I wasn't able to do the patch on the north side of the house where I want to plant the mountain laurel and 2 ferns; my tiller's electric and I didn't have quite enough extension cord to reach. But that's easily remedied - I picked up a 50' (neon green!) extension cord after church and now just have to decide if I want to run out there right after lunch and get to work, or wait until later in the afternoon or maybe even after dinner, when the temperature is no longer in the 90s. It'll be a tough call - I'm itching to get those plants into the ground and that side of the house is well shaded...

Thursday, June 14, 2007


I've been thinking hard about getting back into middle eastern dance, looking for classes (tons of beginner classes in my area, very few advanced ones, most of them either too far or on a schedule I can't manage), started browsing this one site and found THIS DRESS! I love the color, the "appliques" (those are squillions of beads & sequins, individually sewn on by hand), the swingy sleeves. I'd be happier with a dress that wasn't quite so fitted along the thighs (how can you travel in a hobble skirt?), but oh, what elegant lines! Wonder how close to a mortgage payment the price tag is?

I never fell in love w/ my wedding dress. As I told the woman who fitted it for me, it was "just a costume" (yes, those were my exact words), to be worn for a single performance. But this! This I'd definitely wear again, on the flimsiest excuse. And the way it's designed, I could even wear it to a fancy gala or black-tie affair; I just wouldn't stand like the model. :D And if I could get it in kelly green or royal blue, say, with gold instead of silver, my gold jewelry would look absolutely stunning with it.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Social Sunday

Last Sunday I ended up at the local diner for dinner. A friend & I had very tentative plans, but when I hadn't heard from him by 6:30, I decided I was too hungry to wait. I'm used to seeing someone I know there, but this was unusual - of 4 booths I passed on the way to where they seated me, I knew people in 3 of them!

Well, just as I finished ordering, D called to say he was on his way. So we got caught up a bit, and he mentioned that a mutual friend was sitting on the other side of the diner with his partner. When they finished, P came over to say hello, then C joined us, and we all sat and talked for at least another half an hour. And since they're all professional musicians and performers, it was much more fun than the book I'd brought to read while I ate.

Purple fuzzies in the grass

Last weekend I was washing all the flannel sheets before putting them away for the summer (it had finally gotten hot enough that I just had to dig out the percales) and decided I might as well wash the washable-wool blanket too. Man, you never saw so much navy-blue fuzz! Forget dust bunnies, these were fuzz rhinos or elephants or something, and that was just in the washer. What really surprised me was the relatively little amount of fuzz I pulled out of the dryer's lint filter afterwards. When I went out to water my flowers later, though, I learned where all that lint livestock had gone - there was about a 2-foot radius around the outside dryer vent that was full of huge hunks of purplish-blue lint.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Binge gardening - update

Got out to the cabin again this weekend to see how all my plantings were doing after fending for themselves for a couple of weeks. Turns out they're doing pretty well, especially considering how little rain we got those 2 weeks. The euonymus isn't thriving, but it hasn't died, or even gotten dried-up-looking, so I'm satisfied. The poor lilies-of-the-valley seem to have ended up as deer snacks. Of the 20 pots' worth I planted, I could locate perhaps half a dozen, of which nearly all had been stripped to bare, pathetic little stalks.

The biggest success was probably the pachysandra; all of it seems to be looking as happy as when I put it in 2 weeks ago, and it seems to be very definitely not merely deer-resistant but deer-proof! How do I know? One patch of pachysandra ended up on the edge of a deer trail. Part of the patch looked rather trampled yesterday, and one of the untrampled plants had a bite or two out of it. But only a bite or two. Conjures up a mental image of a deer strolling past, deciding to sample this new plant, then deciding it wasn't tasty enough to warrant another bite.

The surprise, for me, was the ferns. Having never planted any before, or even had them in my yard (the ones growing wild near the cabin don't count), I was completely ignorant of how they propagate. I noticed that a few of my ferns had broken-looking fronds lying on the ground. When I went to pick one up, I met with resistance. Remembering the little spores I've often noticed on the undersides of fern fronds, I'm guessing the grounded fronds will soon sprout new ones. They're multi-talented, though; at least some varieties, including the ostrich ferns I bought, propagate from runner roots (if that's the right term). And I noticed that all my ferns - all 4 kinds - have new little fronds in various stages of uncurling. I'm delighted to see that they're already starting to spread, which is exactly what I hoped from them.

The two mint plants I brought out looked very lush and healthy in their nice, big pots. They'll provide some very nice flavoring the next time we fix iced tea, even if spearmint doesn't do a thing against ants.

The weekend wasn't a complete success - in addition to the eaten lilies-of-the-valley, the gypsy moth caterpillars had made a HUGE mess, and I couldn't hang the new towel bars because the driver drill had plenty of driver bits, but only 2, too-large drill bits. However, the weather was gorgeous, I managed to finish swapping the flannel sheets for percale on the beds, and I determined that the new antique store in town really is an antique store, not a junk shop or craft store.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

It's a beautiful day in the neighborhood.

Sunny, mild (mid-70s), dry, gentle breezes, the birds singing their little hearts out, no annoying insects - if this ain't a perfect day, I don't know what is. So perfect, in fact, that when I got home from work, I left the front door open and started opening windows to let in some of those nice little breezes. (It's safe to open all the windows now that tree pollen season is well behind us.) Tomorrow's highs are supposed to be in the mid- to upper 80s, and Friday is supposed to get well into the 90s, so I'm enjoying this gorgeous weather while it lasts.

I also, finally, swept out the front of the living room, shook out the entryway rug, and even swept the front steps, walk and sidewalk. Any excuse to be out in the lovely weather. If only I had my tiller...

I stopped to pick up some bags of topsoil on the way home, along with a pair of 4" pots of very healthy-looking mint. I think it's spearmint, judging from the smell. The little plastic label was almost as little help as no label at all; instead of a proper identification of the plant, all it says is "assorted herbs"! But they're definitely mint, and nice & bushy and lushly green. I'll take them out to the cabin with me this weekend to go into the two big pots I took out last year. The mint I had planted in them died when the contractor moved them to the back deck before starting demolition. Said demolition included the section of deck that connected the back deck to the house, essentially stranding anything left there (the 2 pots of mint, which withered & died; the BBQ grill; the deck swing).

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

First sign of summer

Saw my first lightning bugs last night! Forget pool openings or the first 90-degree days; for me the first sign of summer is lightning bugs.

Not that hot today - we had some pretty torrential rains move through yesterday evening which cooled things down quite a bit. Only in the 80s today, and it's supposed to get down into the 50s tonight - I look forward to sleeping w/ the bedroom windows open, now that tree pollen season is well behind us for the year.

I think I'm gonna hafta bookmark The Onion

There on one of the blogs I read was a link to an Onion article that's funny if you've ever done (or attended) any kind of "updated" or "concept" show, but especially if you've done or seen updated or concept Shakespeare.

I may have to break down and bookmark the Onion's site. I see they have an article on the latest Harry Potter book, too...

Monday, June 04, 2007

Hi, Mom!

I was telling Mom last weekend about my unplanned gardening binge out at the cabin. She wasn't familiar with many of the plants I mentioned (e.g., the fern varieties), so I e-mailed her links to pictures of everything, along w/ the link to my blog. I think I have a new reader, as Mom mentioned the blog the next time we talked.

Hi, Mom! (waving)