Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Garden notes

A few days ago I finally planted the ornamentals that I bought as a Mothers Day gift from my sons and dear husband. I love feasting my eyes and other senses after they're planted, but that requires planting to happen! Here's a description of what I've done so far. I'd post photos, but it's been very breezy and that makes for lousy flower photos, sorry.

The big pot at the front step in bright shade now hosts two neglected poinsettias that I expect to fully leaf out again, with the following planted around it (counterclockwise from the back): two variegated caladium (one green on white, the other pink on green), a pink impatiens, a red geranium, a red impatiens. Planted in the center is the spreading chocolate mint Son2 LOVES, with tendrils wandering among the other plants. A nice mix for just outside the dining room window at the front step, with frequent opportunity to bruise a chocolate mint leaf and breathe that wonderful scent...

Out at the sunny front garden bed at the end of the entry walkway where it curves to the driveway, the perennial gaillaria have been blooming their happy yellow heads off, and the rust-and-yellow Mexican hat and Indian paintbrush have recently joined the party. The daylilies (both yellow and burgundy-with-yellow-throat) have plenty of leaves but are not yet putting up buds; they'll come along later. Same with the perennial I keep forgetting, which has leafed out and will at some point make arching twigs full of semi-daisy-like yellow flowers 'til nearly frost.

To this mix I added RED and DEEP ORANGE! In the middle I plunked down some lantana in a red-orange-yellow mix. Close to the driveway I planted a rust-to-orange-to-yellow strawflower. At the other end of the bed, near the Indian paintbrush, I'm going to set a big pot full of tomatoes, herbs, and rust-and-yellow marigolds. Beyond the Indian paintbrush I'm putting another similar big pot. At its foot there are seedlings of gaillardia and Mexican hat, so behind those I planted bright red amaranth (the straight cockscomb) and deep red coleus with skinny green edges.

I don't normally go for oranges and yellows, but if they're clear colors and red-orange and burgundy, with lots of green leaves, I do like it a lot against our gray brick house. And I LOVE Mexican hat, for some crazy reason. I'm always looking for clumps along the roadsides.

I still want to dig up and toss some of the unhappy evergreen plants along the walkway and replace them with a bench set on pavers. But right now I need to plant those pots with herbs, marigold, and tomatoes, and figure out where to situate the third pot, of bell peppers and herbs. Hmm. I love to tend the growing things, especially along the front walkway area, which is very nice in the mornings and evenings -- but I've got to get everything planted before the heat cranks up in a day or two! At that point, I think I'll have my morning coffee on my walkway, seated in a plastic chair, as I did last year. So nice...

Saturday, May 13, 2006

She knits! I was starting to wonder.

I've been knitting dishcloths for months now. For almost that long I've been stuck at "thinking" points with my sock projects that are "on the needles," so in that state of stuck-ness I made lots of dishcloths. Finally I was able to demote my ratty old cloths to the rag bag, but I'm getting tired of dishcloths and stuck-ness. I now celebrate! because I knit several complicated rows on a sock during Son1's baseball game Thursday night. It also kept my mind off the cold evening breeze and my cold fingers. Yay! Woohoo!

About knitting "thinking" points and the state of being stuck:

The ruffled pink little-kid socks require me to manipulate a tiny two-stitch cable, and I have to refresh my finger-memory on that new-to-me skill. I have NOT had the brain flexibility lately to manage that. Last week I finally tossed a couple of toothpicks in that project bag 'cause they're the same size (diameter) but a LOT SHORTER THAN my sock needles! I hope that will make knitting that little sock on five needles plus a cable needle less like massaging a porcupine and will get me back to it. The 'cable' needle I liberated from that project is needed for my Harry Potter socks for Son1.

I started the Harry Potter socks nearly a year ago. I stalled at the toe of sock-the-first last fall; I knit cuff-down, so that sock was nearly done. Some months ago I had the bright idea of parking the toe of sock-the-first on dental floss so I can knit the final length to match growing-Son1's feet when sock-the-second is also at the toe. Then I started the cuff of sock-the-second. I stalled again about 10 rows later when I needed to chart out P-O-T-T-E-R and a loose checkerboard pattern to go around the cuff. (The first sock has H-A-R-R-Y.) I did the charting during a MOMS Club Sit-n-Stitch a couple of weeks ago and tucked the slip of paper into the project bag (ever so fancy: a zip-top plastic bag that fits in my purse).

With my complete-again set of needles at the ready, I started the P-O-T-T-E-R charted section at Thursday's baseball game. It's only five rows, and I got three done (did the third row twice, of course). Did I mention that this is two-color knitting? It doesn't look bad, and I'm now excited to finish the charted last two rows and get on to the rest of the leg. Woohoo! I am about to have semi-easy sock knitting in my purse again, hurrah! Gee golly, have I ever missed that.

My only worry, and it's a fairly big one, is that Son1 has probably grown out of these socks by now. Not length-wise -- I have that snazzy plan to finish both toes nearly simultaneously -- but in terms of whether the cuff will stretch over his heel. I think the only way out of that difficulty is to knit a second HP pair to fit him, by this fall. The current HP pair will fit me, but his feet are growing in every direction, not just length, sigh. Good thing I've now worked out all of the details. Hmm.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Feelin' fine

How is it that I can be cheerful while reading Collapse: How societies choose to fail or succeed, by Jared Diamond (on CD in the car, and the occasional dip into the book itself at home) AND The Long Emergency: Surviving the converging catastrophes of the 21st century, by James Kunstler?

A few weeks ago I could hardly read two pages of The Long Emergency because it was about major, permanent world-changing doom-and-gloom starting RIGHT NOW. I skipped the middle section and got right to his gloomy predictions of life Beyond Oil. Now I'm back to the middle -- I've read the geopolitical assessment, and the alternative energies assessment. Now I'm in the midst of the climate change and other 'converging catastrophes' section... and I'm feeling a lot better for some reason. Even as I'm planning to borrow and read The Two-Mile Time Machine about the North Atlantic oceanic current that seems to start and stop climate changes, and is doing so right now.

It's odd. I'm just saying.

On the other hand, I have a sore throat, am deadly tired, and have a runny nose, sneezes, and sniffles. Zinc and vitamin C should help, but resting is a bit tough as this is a busy MONTH. Hmmm. Yay for the rain, though. Wish I had rain barrels to save it in for the plants.