Sunday, December 3, 2017

Goddamn PCs

We've been a bit silent here because we stupidly tried to save money and bought a PC instead of a Mac when our ancient MacBook died. After months of pure agony, we've decided we must bite the bullet and return to the Mac world, but we're waiting for those post-Christmas sales.

So here's the quick two-month update. Let's see if I can get this $(&%#! computer to post before it crashes yet again:

1. A beautiful fall here! The past 10 days have been sunny and 60s. The vegetable garden is still putting out greens, and the carrot harvest was spectacular, just in time for Thanksgiving.

2. Visitors abound! We had two sets of friends come in from Minnesota. We put Jackie and Chris to work on helping us build a stairway to the upstairs deck. The project got off to a slow start, but we should have it done soon. And Karen and Dino arrived during a cold snap, so they were spared hard labor and had to spend their weekend drinking beer and playing cards.

3. We took a quick trip to see Mason's family in Texas. While we were there, we built and installed a barn door, helped to clean out closets and ate at all of Mason's favorite haunts.

4. And when we returned home, we had a good stretch of dry weather, so we got all of the fall leaves raked and shredded. An acre's worth. Last year it took until March before we finished, so we're feeling very accomplished.

I don't dare try to push my luck any further. The next update will have to wait until we have that new iPad or MacBook in our hands. I'll add photos later, IF this $(&%#! computer lets me.

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Tired and Little To Show For It

A zinnia that somehow survived the deer and rabbits.
I'm too tired to write. The garden and yard have been kicking my ass, not to mention the summer-like temperatures that refuse to acknowledge that it's autumn. And tomorrow a 3,500-pound piece of rented machinery is arriving for three days of attempting to create ditches on both sides of our small road, which got wiped out nearly two years ago in the downpours of Christmas 2015. More on that adventure once we recover from it.

Below are just a couple snapshots. Nothing too exciting.

Beware the cucumelon. I planted three seeds and the damn things took over.  

We're still getting a few strawberries. They're small but super sweet.

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Summer's End

The carport got bigger. Gravel "flooring" still in the works.
The long days of August finally have loosened their hold on us; the humidity is easing and we are starting to think beyond the basics of water (for both ourselves and all of the plants), shade and forever longing for any breeze.

Just last week we celebrated in the shadow of the moon at midday. Our Flat Top cabin sat just on the southern border of totality, and we marked the occasion with good friends and an excessive amount of home-cooked food featuring all of the tomatoes, cucumbers and herbs from the garden. Oh, and all that garlic? It's won its place in my garden every year. I vow to never use doughy dry garlic again.

The Little Lime Hydrangea took a beating from the deer, but it's still a winner!
(There's a snake story behind that firewood pile, but I want Michiela to visit someday, so I won't share it.)
On the flower front, hardy lantana is my new best friend: resistant to both deer and rabbit, not to mention dry conditions. Let's see how it fares a winter, though. And a few zinnias finally rebounded from the wildlife feeding. It wouldn't be summer without zinnias.

Helenium: It's a winner for the fall garden.
While I've toiled in the garden, among both vegetables and shrubbery, Mason has continued to hammer away at the carport. (OK, he used screws, not nails, but I'm being poetic, damn it.) Initial plans to sell the 19-year-old Jeep Cherokee were met with male emotional resistance and thus, as soon as Mason finished the carport, he started the extension. 

Lime Zest sedum. Get it. Great texture!
While horrified by the Hurricane Harvey devastation, we are thankful for its spitting remains reviving all our living things. The fall seeds are in the ground -- broccoli, chard, kale, beets, lettuce and more. This rainfall is the perfect gift for them. As for us, we knock out a project every day (new horseshoe pit JUST installed!) and looking forward to a scheduled visit with Minnesota friends.

Mason chillin' on the porch. Yes, he's wearing shorts. They just happen to be tan.

Monday, July 3, 2017

More Rain, Less Progress

This was my first year growing garlic; it will cure for two months hanging from the porch rafters.

We have entered the phase of summer where we work for about 40 minutes, after which the humidity sits our asses back down to contemplate our life choices. Then we get back to work again, only to get rained out. Somewhere in there is eating lunch, catching up on New Yorker magazines, napping, then heading back out to sweat once again.

The gladiolas (that the deer or bunnies didn't eat).

Today's work started with weed management (always at the top of Nan's list). After a brief rest, Mason joined in to help hang the first of the garlic harvest from the porch rafters, where the bulbs will cure for a few months. Lunch was turkey, bacon and avocado sandwiches. And just as Mason was getting started on his portion of weed management and I was pruning the lavender, the late afternoon rain came calling.

Tomorrow's schedule? Lather, rinse, repeat.

My gardenia; let's see if I can keep it alive!

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Off-Street Parking

Nope, it's not the Bunkhouse. Not yet! First Mason tested his skills on a carport.

Mason loves a big project, and he had been thinking about this one all winter.

First, some background: Every time we drive into town, Mason is compulsively driven to pick off all the pine needles and forest debris that have collected on the car. It's as if he's a vampire and the pine needles are the sunflower seeds. (He also can't walk past my sneakers on the back porch without untying them for me. Yes, the man has issues, but sometimes, they work out in my favor.)

Mason knows he has issues, but he also knows he is sick of picking off pine needles. Then there's the matter of the occasional leaky sunroof on the Jeep. And the hail storms, did I mention those? And I should also mention his new (1988) pickup.

Anyway, he spent all winter dreaming of a carport, and this spring he pulled the trigger.

This was a big project. Multiple kinds of saws were needed. There were electrical wires to run. And most importantly, the big project involved "a first" -- the first time Mason has got to do something. In this case, it was building roof trusses.

But as you can see from the photo above, once you build the 20-foot trusses, then comes the tricky part: How to get them up -- and upright -- atop the 8-foot-tall frame of the new carport. All I can say is MacGyver's got nothing on Mason. Of course, MacGyver didn't have Sidekick Nan, who expended every ounce of aging shoulder muscle to help get those trusses up and in place. 

The carport is nearly done now. It's even got lights that we can flip on from the house (I've caught Mason turning them off and on at night, after he thought I'd gone to bed.) But I don't have a photo for you just yet. The final trim pieces aren't up. Soon, though.

But, if you're reading this, you've been very patient for a blog update. So I can at least deliver a few photos of other things.

Jackmanni clematis (you can kind of see carport roof in far background, between the cabin and the shed.)

Annabelle hydrangeas, and a basket of annuals atop a tree stump.
This lizard has taken to staging himself atop this piece of wood and surveying his/our domain.

This weeping Norway Spruce was about 2 feet tall when I bought it our first year here.
It's now pushing 7 feet! I've installed a little fence at its feet because
Nick keeps killing off the lowest growth by peeing on it. I love this tree. 


Tuesday, April 25, 2017

What's Blooming

Columbine, and yes, that's my bra on The Bear.
Mason, the prankster, was supposed to toss it in the trash for me.
My Shasta viburnum, a gift from a co-worker, bloomed for the first time this year!
Mayapple... A client gave me these from her yard. Love 'em!
Congo azaleas. Somehow they have survived the deer.
The PERFECT head of lettuce.
I adore conifers, especially when they're putting on new growth.
My Itoh peony; can't remember its name.

Friday, March 31, 2017


The first stalks out of the ground.
I could not overstate my excitement about the sight of asparagus stalks pushing up out of the dirt. How cool is that? I get to harvest just a few this spring; next year I get to harvest it all!! We also have spinach ready to eat, and the lettuce isn't too far behind, as is the arugula. Potatoes are in the ground, as are onion seeds, radishes, carrots and beets. And the floor in front of the sliding glass door upstairs is littered with flower seeds poking out of yogurt and strawberry containers, even out of cut-up paper towel rolls.

Yes, I'm addicted. I'm also getting my fix down at The Barn Nursery, where I'm back on weekends telling customers how to make the most of their yards.

Mason has been spending his days harassing the squirrels, who keep getting into our bird feeders. I've told the squirrels that the man is retired and has nothing better to do than to keep his slingshot aimed in their direction. Alas, they don't listen.

Mason is also about to get jiggy building a carport. The first round of wood has been purchased, so we're in it to win it. Stand by for progress pics.

The spinach is ready to pick, the lettuce is coming along,
and that's a year's worth of garlic in back.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Waiting Out Winter

Watercolor of our cabin by Mom, aka Geraldine Bauhaus Williams.
Sorry for the radio silence for a while there. We experienced a little problem with our online access, as in we ran out of data. Apparently we've been a little too glued to the news. We blame Trump. For so, so many things.

Luckily there has been little to report from our little corner of the forest. No, there's been no snow. In fact, there's hardly even been much winter.  Maybe to make up for that, my mom gave me a painting of our cabin nestled in snow. Lovely, isn't it? She stays very busy in her art room and at the local community center, where I occasionally will model (fully clothed) for a group of painters.

A painting of me by one of Mom's cohorts.
My little Meyer's lemon tree finally produced a nice crop. Please notice those long, clean fingernails. This only happens in winter, if it happens at all. And they're about to get clipped off, because I'm headed back to the Barn Nursery next weekend. I'll only be working two days a week for the spring season. We had just done our taxes when they called to see if I was interested in working again. Timing is everything.

My first homegrown Meyer lemon. Yes!!

Last week we started the Great Firewood Harvest for Winter 2017-18. We felled a 100-plus-foot oak. I should have made a video of it; it's so spectacular to see such a majestic, massive beast fall to the ground. I always weep for the tree. Mason only weeps the next day, when he can barely move after all that chainsaw work.

It looks like spring is right around the corner. The daffodils are threatening to bloom soon, and I'll be starting a bunch of seeds inside next week. I've got to get the seed potatoes ordered, and convince Mason that I need another trailer load of compost. Yes, the fever is spiking.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

What's He Doing Now?

The old Farmall Cub got some action last week.
"What's he doing now?" Trust me, I ask this all the time. Usually not so much in winter, but we had a good stretch of springlike weather here, and Mason launched into action.

The project? A carport. Why now, after six years of mountain living? Well, Mason would say he'd been thinking about building one for years now because he's sick of picking pine needles off the car windshields before every trip to town, but if you ask me, it might have something to do with his new beloved truck.

Winter, southern style, is supposed to return this weekend, so it may be a while before the carport project sees any more action, but if there's news, you'll here it here first. Oh, unless you're a Facebook friend, in which case you've heard about the pine tree he had to take down. The 70-foot-tall tree that he said wasn't going to hit the trailer when it fell.

He couldn't have hit it more dead center if he had tried.
 What have I been up to, besides giving Mason a hard time? Distributing shredded leaves about the yard -- a poor gardener's mulch. And reading (this month's recommendation: "The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle"). And complaining about a certain politician.

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Winter Doldrums

Semi-evergreen leaves of my new tree: a Mountain Gordlinia called Sweet Tea.

We struggle in winter. After the easy routine of breakfast, we falter. We walk from window to window, looking for inspiration for the day. We watch the birds pick through our seed offerings. We scan the woods for deer. We strain to see the sun, shuffle over to the battery gauge, then shuffle back to a window. I put down the smartphone after scanning every fresh recipe I find; Mason picks it up for every fresh Trump news he can rant about. We bump into one another nestling up to the woodstove. If it weren't for Nick demanding his twice-daily walks, we would likely go days without leaving the warmth of our little cabin.

We struggle in Winter, and it's hardly been winter here yet. Today we hit 61 degrees. It was a gray 61 degrees, but still, how can we complain? We mustered the energy to play outside for a few hours. I planted a new tree and replanted a mess of tangled irises that deer had yanked out of the dirt before realizing they weren't tasty. Mason changed the propane generator's spark plug; that thing eats spark plugs.

But after lunch, the sky turned grayer still, and we couldn't pull our ourselves outside again. We fell back into winter habits; we went upstairs to read. Then nap. Then procrastinate about going back outside.

We will regret it, because it's 60 degrees out. And the real cold is coming later this week. Snow may even fall. How far will we fall then? More books, more naps, more recipes and rants.  I'm not sure how much more we can take.

Last year, Spring started sometime in February. In between our shuffling, we keep that happy thought.