Saturday, April 26, 2008

Cold and Dark and Windy and Cold

The forsythia are - still - blooming, which is good because I was really worried last night's severe thunderstorm would knock all the blooms off the bushes before we'd even got to enjoy them properly. Today the wind is just whipping through, with threats of possible snow tonight. Rick is off to that Illinois U-Pull-It junkyard for another load of Cellica parts, and is dressed in t-shirt, sweatshirt, fleece-lined pants and double-walled hat. He says he doesn't need a jacket because he's a "Wisconsin Man." (Say it with a flourish.)

Meanwhile, Tasha is at a March of Dimes walkathon down by the lake, and is probably freezing her tuchus off. I'm supposed to pick her up in an hour so we can go prom dress shopping - and she'll still probably want to pick something out that's strapless and has no insulation value at all.

And I was going to plant Dalia bulbs today, but I think I'll make some hot chocolate instead and work on a certain wool knitting project . . .

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Another one of my bright ideas

I've been talking off and on for years with different folks at church about doing some note cards with an image of the church. Most recently, we were trying to come up with a new and different fundraiser for a retired member who has no insurance and just had an emergency triple bypass. The idea was to try to get a dawn photo of the church, with the forsythia bushes in front bursting into bloom and the golden morning light streaming out from behind (east) of the church. Sounds pretty, right?

Well, my forsythia bushes at home are now blooming (as you saw in the previous post), so I headed over to choir practice a bit early last night to check out the possibilities. And the short answer is, it ain't gonna work. The winter windbreak - which is not ugly, but does clutter the lines of the building - is still up, even though I was told it was coming down "any time now." Worse, the forsythia bushes out front must have gotten damaged by roof ice or something, because they have an abysmally meager amount of blooms and generally look neglected and abused. And worst of all, apparently this week was chosen to pull a bunch of siding off the area right above those bushes to fix some roof leaks. Now, I appreciate Tyvek as much as the next person, but I didn't really want to feature it in the photo.
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So I crawled around in the front yard, playing with the evening light and the way the burgundy leaf buds on the trees played off the burgundy roof of the building, and I took this:

I'll pick up a print this afternoon, to see what the color looks like in "real life." But what do you think? Assuming decent production values and professional packaging, would you pay $6 for five note cards and envelopes, especially if you knew that all proceeds would benefit the "First Congregational UCC Uninsured/Underinsured Member Fund"?
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(For those who aren't familiar with the building and are wondering, the forsythia, wind break, and missing siding are all hiding around the corner on the left side, obscured by the branches of that strategically placed tree.)

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

The Breakfast Club

During the summer I day-range my poultry. That is to say, I let the birds out in the morning, and they wander the yard and woods for the day, and we have trained each other to meet again at the coop around dusk so I can fill the feed dish and shut the door against predators. (This has occasionally been a rather fluid agreement - every year I have to re-train the younger hens to this concept, and back when I had ducks they were downright obstinate about the whole thing.)

Anyway, last spring one morning I let the girls out as usual - and a wild turkey hen walked up behind me, calmly walked into the coop and started helping herself to breakfast. She didn't have much fear of me (and none of the chickens), and had kind of a "Ladies who Lunch" attitude about the whole thing. This went on for several weeks, and she even started spending her nights roosting on top of the coop. We called her Clarice, with the implication that she might be good with Fava Beans and a nice Chianti. I found out she was spending her "off" nights at the coop of my poultry-keeping neighbor down the road, whose children had christened her "Mrs. Turken." But in late spring something called her away - could have been a tom, could have been a truck - and we didn't see her any more. (I think. Wild turkey hens are not what you'd describe as individually distinctive.)

Fast forward to this morning, and who to my wondering eyes should appear but Clarice. She nodded politely to the chickens, but seemed especially interested in following me around to see if I had anything special for her.

I think it was Ben Franklin who advocated for the Wild Turkey to be our national bird, rather than the Bald Eagle (whom Brother Dan refers to as our "National Scavenger"). No question - those wild turkeys are smart.

Oh, and one more thing: here is a photo of the reincarnated southern edge of the septic garden. Up until last year, it would have been full of early-blooming lipstick tulips by now; but my favorite rooster decided last summer to dig a dust bath in there while I was at work. I've done my best to replant it, and hopefully the miniature roses and prickly mulch will discourage the birds from doing it again. Just the same, I thought I'd better have a "before" picture in place. Keep your fingers crossed.

Monday, April 21, 2008

I feel better

I made pretty good progress on the Tree of Life shawl on Saturday, while watching two very strange movies. (Fur with Robert Downey Jr. and Nicole Kidman, and The Fountain with Hugh Jackman and Rachel Weisz. The Fountain was weird and convoluted but pretty; Fur was just plain weird.) Just the same, I'm starting to think that I'm not going to make my deadline with the shawl. Therefore, by all rights I should have reached full on panic mode by Sunday afternoon, and spent the remainder of that day huddled in front of the TV with my needles.

But it was absolutely gorgeous out. Wells Fargo's sign said it was 75°F, which I have decided to believe even if Community Bank's sign next door was only claiming 65°F. The sun was out, the garden centers were open, and I wanted some color in my life! (I swear to God, I was only in K-Mart for toiletries - but the pansy's were calling to me!) So I planted three hanging baskets, the two tubs on the north side of the house, and the whisky barrel in the garden over the septic tank. (The barrel covers the lid, and we have lots of fun every 3 years moving it when the County requires us to pump out our tank. But in the mean time, it camouflages the situation nicely.) Oh, and I managed to gather and burn all those sale fliers and pizza boxes and other miscellaneous stuff that always manages to blow away over the course of the winter and get stuck in the brush on the edge of our woods. And I cut back all the dead stalks and gathered up all the dead leaves and such from last years blooms, along with other garden-cleaning duties. I do wonder why there was a exhaust gasket in my rose bed - but I guess that's the price of sharing a yard with a motorhead. In the winter, he gets to put cars on engine blocks in the front yard if he feels it necessary; but our rule is that all his motor stuff must be cleaned up by the time my flowers bloom, and must be stored neatly behind the house or somewhere else that doesn't block the view of the garden by the road.

So, yeah, I should be in a blind knitting panic just now. But I got to get dirt under my nails yesterday, and plant pretty things, and maybe even sunburn the back of my neck a little bit. And I may be starting to accept that the Tree of Life shawl is going to be late. And today it's supposed to be even warmer, if a little misty. And I'm wearing a floaty summer dress and sandals to work, and franky, I feel pretty content.