Monday, June 29, 2020

Now this is a garden blog: Front yard wildflowers

We have what one might call a "project yard."

We live in the woods, on land with lots of pine trees and seriously depleted, rocky, sandy soil. My husband has taken on the project of growing food-producing plants (fruit trees, raspberries, blueberries, tomatoes, asparagus, herbs) to supplement our lavish CSA.

I've taken on the project of beautification.

I'm not a particularly patient, knowledgeable, or experienced gardener, so my method mostly involves planting things that are supposed to be really hardy, seeing what survives, and then buying more of the same. Sometimes I plant stuff too close together (hello, catmint!), and sometimes the heights or colors don't make much sense. But whatever; my theory is that, like my dissertation did, this garden will come together somehow and eventually be complete.

Luckily, the previous owner planted enormous beds of wildflowers, which I love and which dramatically reduce the amount of work that the yard needs.

So for today's post, I'm going to show you some pictures of the front yard over the last 6 weeks--sort of a time-lapse of its blooming.

April 10, with rainbow: Looking out the front door of our house

April 16: Neighbor's forsythia, snow, nothing much in our yard

May 9, for Pete's sake: some green in our garden; forsythia still going strong

May 21: May apples and day lilies are up

June 10: Lots of tall green business and things are starting to bloom in our yard. Neighbor's rhododendron in full swing. View is from to the left of the front door.

June 14: Looking back from the driveway towards the house.

June 21: Daisies getting ready to bloom. I don't know what the little brightly colored flowers are, but they're everywhere and gorgeous. (Close-up to follow in subsequent post.) View is looking left from the front porch.

June 28: Daisies!

June 29: Much-needed rain and the tiger lilies. That's my kid in the tiger-lily-colored shirt.

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Monthly Greening: Shampoo and conditioner

As a sort of New Year's Resolution, I thought that I would try adopting one new effort at living in a more environmentally conscious way every month.

We already do a good bit--we compost; we heat with wood almost exclusively (and live in a very heavily forested area, where this is in fact sustainable); nearly all of our vegetables and many of our fruits come either from our own garden or our year-round CSA; etc. But I'm always interested in trying new ways of living a little more lightly--and am also always conscious, of course, of the many ways in which we do tread heavily on the earth (the necessity of owning two cars and driving to work, traveling by air a few times a year, usw.).

But no effort is wasted, right?

Anyway, it makes more sense, it seems to me, to share these efforts, in the hopes that one or two other people might pick them up and that they'll have a bigger impact than if I'm just doing them alone (or coercing my family into joining me).

January was a bit of a bust, though. I still blame the flu for that. I did finally buy a laundry-drying rack so that we can air out small loads by the fire instead of using the drier (and one of this summer's adaptations will be finally put up a clothesline! I loved the clothesline at our old house).

And I'm coming in rather under the wire for February, I realize. But I did try out something new today!

As of today, I'm experimenting with (and hopefully adopting) A Good (Enough) Woman's baking-soda-shampoo and apple-cider-vinegar-conditioner technique. In short: a tea/tablespoonful of baking soda in about a cup of water, dumped over the head as shampoo; and the vinegar for conditioner. That's it! She also recommends using a little baking soda for a facial cleanser, which I'm trying, too (I can't really justify what I've been spending on facial cleansers, given that I'm not sure that they do anything).

So far, so good: my hair feels clean and soft and doesn't have too much of a vinegar smell. And now I need to think of something for March! (Any suggestions?)

Sunday, December 31, 2017

Macabre musings on New Year's Eve

Ever since becoming a grown-up--by which I mean, since turning 35; or, more acutely, since turning 40; and, even more acutely, since the despair induced by the 2016 elections--I've been pretty un-keen on the turning of the year. The passing of time. The reminders of age, transience, and mortality. I look at my hilarious brilliant five-and-a-half-year-old son, and I can't bear to think of him growing too old, too soon, you know? And--more to the point--I can't bear to think of myself grown old-old, the world failing through the travails of global climate change, und so weiter und so weiter etc.


I mean, yes, death. Not much fun to contemplate. In the end I do think that it's the work of life to come to terms with death, something that seems more urgent yearly, if not daily. This is the call, for me, to practice, to meditate, to deepen. I don't do it much; certainly not enough. Every year, it's a resolution. Every year, it fails. Will this one succeed?

Because otherwise, the passage of time yields little to fear--at least, if experience is the measure. I'm really happy with where my life is. I have a lovely little family. I love my job, and it looks like I might secure tenure this year (so far, so good). I love where I live. I have a wonderful yoga studio that's also a kind of spiritual sanctuary for me. (And there's church, of course, where my husband pastors, which makes it a little bit unusual and peculiar, but that's generally good, too.) I'm increasingly physically fit (although my weight has gone up! Wtf? Vowing not to worry about this, too. Muscle mass, I tell myself). My son is thriving, and more astonishing by the day.

So the years have been kind, very kind. And really, I wouldn't go back in time, certainly not to the fun-but-also-weirdly-horrible 20s, or the better-but-professionally-frustrating 30s. And the political situation? It has the feel of something that must be confronted, and pushed through. May we come out stronger in the end.

Death is its own thing. I'm working on it.

Happy new year, everyone.

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

I Love Gracious Writers

So this is pretty fantastic:

Yesterday afternoon, I was preparing to teach the first day of a new book in my big lecture class (we started it today). And so I popped over to the author's website. It says that she lives in this particular half of my state.

Huh, I thought. I wonder if she's nearby?

A White Pages search revealed that yes, she is very nearby! Like a 15-minute drive away!

So I wrote her an email, which I had to revise about 35 times to make it sound sufficiently respectful and not pushy; I wound up with something like, "I would love to invite you to speak to my class next year, when I teach the book again. (I realize that it's probably far too late to invite you for this year, but, if you're free in the next week and a half, we would love to have you.)"

Yes, I went for the cowardly parenthetical. I almost added another parenthetical explaining and apologizing for the first parenthetical, but I stopped myself. Thankfully. Hyper-self-conscious meta-writing is sorta my thing, but sometimes it just isn't appropriate.

And she wrote back! And asked for dates and times!

And now she's coming to my class next Wednesday!

How cool is that? Bonus cool: That's one less day I have to prep! Plus my TA is lecturing on Monday! So basically I'm done lecturing for the semester, a whole week early!!

Monday, November 20, 2017

I Have Become Obsessed with NaNoWriMo

And that's pretty much all that I've been doing this month.

The end.

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Music for the ages

I first saw this on Flavia's blog, back when we were all writing rather more regularly. It's absolutely necessary today, as Reformation Sunday and the 500th anniversary of the theses is upon us. Actually, no, it's just necessary because it's so outrageously well done; no occasion necessary.

I got 95 theses and the pope ain't one

Saturday, October 28, 2017

"It's not even fair"

--The words of my five-year-old upon the cancellation of this morning's playdate, which was to afford me and TM both 3 hours of uninterrupted work time.

Sure isn't. But the sitter is sick; no one is culpable. We'll go to a playground with his friend, maybe. But ohhh, what a boon those three hours would have been. Two blog posts down--in February--I complained about a dissertation that I was reading. Well, the final draft is in, and it's almost 300 pages long--mostly single-spaced, at that. I started it yesterday, and it's not bad in substance so far, but it's going to take me an absurdly long time to get through it, and...I don't wanna.

So...maybe I'm not so sorry about losing the time, after all?