Working on the yard (and the yard is fighting back)

I have a spreadsheet in which I keep a daily record of some basic diet and exercise stats. This allows me to report that I’ve put in 44 solid hours of yard work since April 11th–22 of them in the last seven days. I’m pooped.

I also have poison ivy. :-( Poison ivy, which is a plague in Pepperell (maybe because of the river?) invaded my property about fifteen years ago, and according to experts, has become more virulent in general due to the increased levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. I tend to get poison ivy when I’m doing a lot of cutting and clearing on my property because I’m often doing that in the spring and fall when the plant isn’t visible, and/or I’m getting into spots where I didn’t know it had spread. Also, it’s especially obvious this time that I get a reaction mostly when my skin is scratched or irritated and then exposed to the poison ivy sap. I’ve been clearing lots of brush, and some of it has turned out to be blackberry brambles, and I’ve been hauling huge armfuls of it to the brush pile (a lazy man’s load, as they say!), and wherever the brambles “got” me when I was grabbing all that brush (inside arms, torso, sides of my neck), that’s where the poison ivy rash has broken out. Yes, I’m wearing long sleeves and a new pair of extra-heavy gloves, but what I actually need is a hazmat suit–or at least something impervious to thorns, but they go right through the leather gloves. It’s actually not that serious an outbreak–almost no oozing, which is the worst thing with poison ivy. It’s mostly just hives, and itchy. Fooey.

It’s my own darn fault, of course, because I’m continuing the gargantuan task I first started last spring, of clearing out places on my property that had been shamefully neglected for years and years and were in disgraceful shape. I’ve now completely cleared out a big space next to the west side of my house, and honestly, I’d be embarrassed to tell you some of what I found in there, and how much time and backbreaking hard work it took to clean it up! Now the whole space is absolutely smooth, and empty, right down to bare ground. But I know there was poison ivy growing in there, although I hadn’t seen any live plants for a couple of years. The dead leaves can be toxic for quite a while.

The black flies are out, too, but they’re only a serious nuisance if it’s humid and the air is very still. I have a beekeeper’s hat with netting that I can wear if the bugs really get to be problematical. I’m moving around enough to stay ahead of them, most of the time.

Yesterday (Monday, that is), I got up a bit early, did the laundry, hung it on the line, and did four and half hours of yard work. I came in, changed, and went to the grocery store for more trash bag stickers and an empty box. I came home, quickly had supper, and went to Pepperell’s Annual Town Meeting. We finished the entire agenda by 10:23 p.m., which must be some kind of record–I can’t remember when Annual Town Meeting failed to run for at least two nights! But that means I didn’t have to go back tonight, and I’m not complaining about that. I came home from Town Meeting, prepped for New Moon ritual, and did New Moon ritual at 2:00 a.m. Then I got everything ready for the biweekly trip to the transfer station with the trash and recyclables, and that always involves some cleaning, changing the bunny cage and litter boxes, and so on.

Today (Tuesday), I got up even earlier, made two trips to the transfer station with the usual stuff plus three very full, heavy bags and a large box full of trash and recyclables I cleaned out of the patch by the house (don’t ask. Just don’t. I’m so embarrassed at myself). Then I ran a couple of errands, including to the hardware store to buy a new bypass lopper (don’t ask. Seriously. *snarl* My tools fear me). The weather was much nicer than originally forecast, and I thought I’d get more done today…but I just couldn’t. I had no energy and no motivation. It might be partly ritual wine hangover, partly the histamine reaction to the poison ivy making my immune system all wanky, partly the fact that I’m sleeping like crap…but I was outside for an hour this afternoon and decided my body was telling me to take a break. I did complete a couple of small tasks so I didn’t just feel like a quitter.

One of my neighbors offered to cut up a fallen tree that was right on our property line. I came out on Sunday afternoon and there were the neatly sawn logs, all stacked by the brush pile. The chainsaw didn’t even disturb my sleep and my bedroom is about 30 feet from that corner! That was just incredibly nice of the neighbor (the same one who complimented me on how good my yard looked a couple of weeks ago) and I’ll have to take them some homemade cookies or something.

A few weeks back I dug all those fern roots out of a large space in front of the house and put down grass seed. The grass seed just sat there until it got warm and then it simply burst out into grass. It’s growing like mad now. The peas and spinach I planted in back are all up and growing, and I have more to plant. The seeds I planted indoors are all up and growing, including the peppers I replanted, although weirdly, only half of the second planting came up. Peppers don’t seem to like me. :-( I’m going to have to mow what passes for my “lawn” within a few more days! The white and yellow daffodils are blooming (they’re always later than the yellow ones), the violets and dandelions are opening, the flowering crabs are getting ready to bloom. The wild strawberries are going crazy on the east side of the house. I’m going to trellis up the black raspberries and blackberries to make them easier to harvest–I’m trimming all the saplings I’m cutting to make poles and stakes for the garden plants, and I have a pile of them already. I just need to rototill and prep the vegetable garden, and till the compost pile into it. I believe our “last frost” date is May 15 and I’ll probably wait until Memorial Day to plant, since the cold weather has really been hanging on this spring.

And I swear to the gods, the first poison ivy leaf I see, I’m going out there and pouring battery acid on it. Arrrggh! Although, goats eat it. I want goats! And chickens! (This place in Winchendon I mentioned in a previous post has two full acres and a barn…) As far as I can tell, the Draconian outdoor watering ban is no longer in effect. I have no idea what the status is of the town well that was closed down because of contamination last year. But the town website only gives the even-odd numbered day rule that’s always in effect. I can still save gray water for the garden just to feel good about myself. :-)

I just got three proofs for Applewood (the hardcover with dust jacket and paperback from Lightning Source–those are distributed by Ingram–and the paperback edition from CreateSpace for Amazon sales), and the ARCs for Marco. Now I need to order the short runs for Applewood and send the out review ARCs for Marco. I need to send my authors their quarterly reports. I’m finishing the layouts for Anne Fraser‘s two collections and then those ARCs will be sent out.

The Longer the Fall got a great review from Bitten By Books! That was so nice to see, because I’ve been sweating out the Massachusetts Center for the Book awards, which were just announced last Thursday, and The Longer the Fall did not make the cut. I didn’t really expect it to, but I’m still disappointed. *sigh* At least it will be included in the “book census,” which already has Mortal Touch with the 2007 titles. These are all books either by Massachusetts authors or dealing with Massachusetts as a setting or theme.

I’ll be observing true Beltane this Thursday, May 5 (8:41 p.m. UTC). It’s so funny, there’s some kind of “national Day of Prayer” that day…on the true Beltane cross-quarter! How…appropriate! :-) It’s also the Eta Aquarids meteor showers…so of course, it’s forecast to be pouring rain.

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Didn’t someone mention spring?

*grump* I’m in a bad mood. You know how it is–a million little things, and they all pile up.

I’ve been having a very annoying time with this journal, or more accurately, with this domain it’s on, vyrdolak.com. I have four domains hosted on GoDaddy, each of them with a WordPress blog of its own, and none of the others are causing me any of these problems. It’s not my files or blog–the server times out searching for the domain. I’ve been on the phone with GoDaddy twice and sent them emails, and apparently there’s something glitchy with the server hosting the domain. It keeps being fixed and then going down again–I never know whether the domain is going to be there or not at any given time! I’m really starting to feel like vyrdolak.com is jinxed!

The weather is driving me nuts. It’s been doing nothing but rain–except when it doesn’t. Today, all the forecasts said rain and thunderstorms, and the sun came out! This is frustrating because I want to be doing more yard work and I can’t plan anything, not even one day ahead. Today, it was just too wet for what I want to be doing. I’m pulling up ground ivy and clearing leaves, brush and debris, and it poured rain just before dawn, so I’d have gotten soaked raking, digging and picking up stuff. I hope to get out there tomorrow. But I didn’t get nearly as much done in the yards this past week as I did the week before. I did manage to clear out more ground ivy and a big messy overgrown pile of crap that had been sitting at the head of the driveway for years–and that included digging out big clumps of roots with the mattock. I haven’t gotten out the chainsaw yet–that comes next!

It looks like the peas are finally coming up, and the spinach, I think. The seeds I started indoors are all up and growing except the peppers, of which there is nary a sign. I’m giving them up for a bad job and replanting them. They can’t go into the garden until June so there’s still time. I was pleased to find a number of iris coming up when I got the ivy-choked old flower beds completely cleared. I didn’t see any iris blooms last year and I thought all the rhizomes had died off, but nope! They’re still truckin’. Iris are among my favorite flowers. The grass, everywhere, very suddenly turned deep, dark green this week, the forsythia and daffodils are blooming, and there are sprouts poking up from the bee balm.

I have swarms of birds in my yards and at the feeders–bluebirds, cardinals, goldfinches, robins, several other kinds of finches, chickadees, woodpeckers, juncos…they empty the feeder in a day. I haven’t seen this many birds for years, and I had very few over the winter. I thought I’d have fewer birds because I’m cutting down so much of their habitat, but the better the yard looks, the more birds are attracted to it. Interesting. I’m curious as to where the bluebirds are nesting, because they’re in the yard all the time, so it must be close by. They love the suet.

I took my Samsung camcorder to a camera and video repair shop in Arlington on February 9, and it’s still in limbo. The camcorder is a model that records to a mini-DVD, and the DVD cover jammed. That was the only thing wrong with it: the camcorder itself functioned perfectly. It even recorded to, played back and “finalized” the DVD just fine. But I couldn’t get the DVD cover to open, no matter what I did. A couple of days after I dropped it off, the repair shop called to say they needed to replace the latch mechanism, and they gave me an estimate, which I approved, even though it was pretty high.

Well, on March 30, after they’d had the camcorder for six weeks, I called to see what was happening. At that time, they checked with their “technician,” who apparently doesn’t work in-house or full-time, and then called me to say that he’d had to order a part and it would probably be “another week or two.”

As of tomorrow, it’s been another four weeks or two. So I called again today, and was told they’d have to check with the technician, who won’t be in until Thursday, and see what the status is. But, honestly? It’s now been three months, and I just want to pay them their minimum for looking at it, tell them to keep the damn thing and buy a new one. The only thing holding me up is that I want the mini-DVD that’s stuck in it. The DVD has several hours of perfectly good, “finalized” video on it that I recorded at the 2008 IPNE conference, which IPNE would like to have. In my present mood, I just feel like smashing the camcorder open with a hammer to get the DVD, I’m about that aggravated. It cost me $250 on some big special sale price up at Target, originally–the MSRP was about $80 more than that–and I don’t think I got 12 hours of use out of it. Of course, the DVD cover jammed about three months after the warranty ran out. But if the technician has waited twelve weeks for a simple, mechanical replacement part from Samsung, I strongly suspect that part is never going to arrive.

I will most definitely never, EVER buy another product from Samsung, let me tell you!

Last Tuesday was Dad’s birthday. I asked him several times if he wanted anything for a gift, or if he wanted to do something, and he just couldn’t come up with anything. I suggested a couple of things I knew he wanted but he claimed they were too expensive. Finally he asked me to make him some of this bean soup he really enjoys. So I spent most of Monday cooking: the soup, and then little key lime meringue tarts, because he loves key lime pie. I also made him a birthday card with a still from Fringe (he’s a mega-fan of Fringe). On Tuesday afternoon I went up to the lake with the food. We hung out and watched The King’s Speech on pay-per-view. Dad didn’t think he was interested in that and he ended up liking it a lot. I don’t know what he expected; I actually thought he’d probably like it (and I was right) but he said he thought it would be “maudlin.” FTR, it’s not. :-)

Then on Sunday, I had an Unnecessary Dad Scare, whereby my sister called me from Chicago saying that she’d been trying to reach Dad all day and he wasn’t answering either of his phones. Dad can be very annoying that way; he kind of lives in his own little world and it doesn’t occur to him that anyone would worry about him–he’s fine, why on earth would someone worry? He gets lots of spam calls on his land line so he won’t answer that, he wants people to call his cell phone, and then he doesn’t hear the cell or didn’t turn it on or the battery has run out. *sigh* Anyway, I told my sister I hadn’t spoken to Dad for a couple of days, and she said maybe she’d try him later, and casually segued to, “so, how are you?” And I’m just stammering, “uh, well, fine, I guess…” because all I can think about is why Dad isn’t answering his phone, and I want to get off the call with my sister and try to call Dad!

So my sister signed off, and I tried both of Dad’s numbers, and got no answer. I’d just started a batch of bread, but now I was all panicky. So I put the bread in to rise, jumped in my car and drove all the way up to Dad’s (a 24-mile, 40-minute drive) to check on him, thinking the whole way that he probably just got tired and went to bed early and everything was okay–but what if it wasn’t? And of course, what happened is that I just woke Dad up. :-( I called my sister (who was actually on her way to the airport, taking the red-eye to Europe for her job!) and let her know Dad was okay, and went back home. So that was my Easter Sunday! But if I hadn’t checked on Dad, I’d have spent the next 18 hours worrying about him. The bread, by the way, turned out perfectly.

But all that had me thinking more than ever about moving up closer to Dad. I keep getting updates about properties in Winchendon that I’ve flagged, from Zillow.com, and I just got another email about one I really may go take a look at. Because of this, I’m holding off on some of the gardening ideas I had last year, like putting in some Concord grapes or fruit trees, because there’s no point if I’m going to move. One stumbling block I’d been having was the lack of Verizon DSL in that area, because I really, really hate to have to sign up with (hack, ptooey!) Comcast. But I just discovered that I can get high-speed Internet via DirecTV, so that obstacle is now resolved. I also dislike the prospect of moving to Winchendon, because Winchendon is an armpit. But then, there are lots of affordable properties in Winchendon, and nothing in the abutting communities close to Dad, precisely because Winchendon is an armpit. Pepperell isn’t the world’s classiest burg, by a long shot, but Winchendon’s town politics make Mississippi look progressive.

I’ve been all disoriented this week, anyway, because Monday was a state holiday (Patriots Day), I spent two days on Dad’s birthday, which bumped my Tuesday chores and the transfer station run a day ahead to Wednesday, and then Sunday was yet another holiday. This might help explain why I was unreasonably outraged by the DVD of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part I, which I started for cycling last night: it begins with seventeen fucking minutes of ads that you can’t skip past–not trailers for movies, but stupid video games and a long puff piece about the new theme park. That was NOT what I wanted to be cycling to and I was pissed! I’m definitely complaining to Blockbuster–and I won’t be buying this DVD! I’m enjoying the movie itself, now that I’m finally getting to see some of it. I was starting to wonder if there was a movie on the damn DVD at all! The previous two cycling movies were The Voyage of the Dawn Treader and Tron: Legacy, and I was disappointed by both of them.

Gods, I am so ready for spring!!!! But I’m laying out the ARC cover for Marco and it’s almost ready to upload. And Applewood comes out on May 15!

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Continuing with spring work, without the actual spring

In the past seven days, I’ve logged sixteen and half hours working outside in my yards. I’ve been out every day except Wednesday, when it poured rain. That seems like a lot, somehow.

On Friday, I moved two very large piles of brush and wood left from all the cutting I did last summer and fall, both the monster bush that I didn’t quite get all of, and the slightly smaller version of the monster bush in front of the house, which I did–along with a few smaller saplings and branches. I had a pile of pieces cut to fireplace length about three feet tall–it got big enough that I didn’t want to put more pieces on it, so there was a smaller pile of cut pieces in another spot. And there was a huge pile of brush, all the fluffy green branches from the big bushes that weren’t good for firewood.

I moved all the brush over to the far east edge of my property, which is wooded and kind of serves as a giant compost pile *wry smile*. There’s a real compost pile that gets put on the gardens, but I just make these enormous piles of brush over there and they slowly decompose over several years’ time. (My property is fertile, seriously. Stuff just grows here like a sonuvagun, it’s mind boggling.) It took many, many trips with armfuls of brush for that, and then I stacked all the cut pieces, and that took many trips.

Now I’m working on pulling up ground ivy and cutting or digging out (or both!) various brush, bushes, saplings, and whatevers. I was disappointed yesterday because I wanted to work a lot longer, but it was so effing cold!!! I am so sick of freezing my ass off, really! Someone tell Mother Nature to check her spam filters, because She clearly did not get the email that said WINTER IS OVER! This big rain storm was on the way, and I wanted to work until it started raining, but it was about 40 degrees and windy, and I just couldn’t stand it longer than about two hours. *sigh*

Today one of my neighbors called over to say hi. He said my yard looked good! I have two reactions to this:

1. Someone actually notices all my hard work! Validation! :-)

2. My neighbors are watching me. :(

Okay, it’s not like I don’t watch what they do, is it? *g* Says the person who just blogged about the big branch in another neighbor’s front yard, heh. (Still there, too. If I catch one of them outside, I’ll ask if I can have it for firewood. Think they’ll say yes? :-) ) Today I kept on working even though a little rain pattered down, and when the setting sun broke through clouds, I saw a rainbow.

The neighbors’ kitty (still different neighbors than the afore-mentioned) will be crushed that I moved all the brush and cut wood, because she’s been staking out those piles a lot. Obviously there have been some critters sheltering under them. I’ve noticed something interesting: the bark has been neatly eaten off the small pieces of hardwood (mostly sugar maple), and even the stumps left standing. I’ve never seen that before. Something small did it, because there aren’t obvious tooth marks. It sure has been a hard winter.

The only seeds that have sprouted so far are the Brussels sprouts, which weren’t the first ones to be planted. Of the indoor seeds, they’re the most tolerant of cool temperatures, though. When I got the seeds up at Farmer’s Exchange last Monday, I asked about the lack of spinach seeds. The cashier said they were sold out–and they were sold out of chicks, too. The boxes were there but without any chicks. I asked if a lot more people seemed to be gardening and starting chicks this year, and the cashier gave an emphatic affirmative. “It’s like the 70s all over again,” I said, and she agreed–and she would know. I better not wait too long to get the onion sets and seed potatoes!

Aside from all that…with no yard work on Wednesday, I did cycling, and I needed a video. I discovered that I could watch the new version of Upstairs Downstairs online. I watched the original back in the 70s, most of the episodes more than once, and I liked it a lot. So I cycled to the first episode of the new version, and then watched the last fifteen minutes or so after I was done…and I got all choked up. Suffice it to say that I like it!

I finished going through the second edits of Marco, and now I’m deciding on fonts and decorative elements for the book block. I chaired a Readercon meeting today. I spent about an hour on the phone with GoDaddy tech support last night because I couldn’t access this journal! GoDaddy tech support is really great, but we were all stumped by this one. The only theory they could come up with was that the server this blog was on had been hit by a DDoS attack last week, and my IP might have gotten caught in a block. The tech support guy moved my account to another server and that solved the problem. But, gods…I am so done with these DDoS attacks. You know what I think should be done to each and every one of the mindless losers who are responsible for these? Did you see the ending of Braveheart? ‘Nuff said. And if they need a volunteer to act as torturer, I’m first in line. Heck, I’ll pay for the privilege! I did Full Moon ritual tonight, but no moon is visible, it’s overcast.

Tomorrow, I hope I’ll be able to get more done outside. It’s supposed to be cold and unsettled all this week. Do you think we’ll even have spring, or just suddenly jump into summer? (It’s happened before!)

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Can you dig it?

I’ve really been working hard out in the yards this week. Whew. I actually think I’m ahead of a lot of my neighbors. I’ve seen a few people raking, especially those with south-facing property whose bulbs were starting to come up, and commercial companies out here and there. But one of my neighbors still has a big fallen tree branch in the middle of his front yard. Of course, one week ago today, there was still a bit of snow on the ground.

My experience has been that when spring gets a late start, everything seems to accelerate a bit to catch up, so I didn’t want to wait. On top of that, I did huge amounts of work last spring (and now I wish I’d taken “before” photos, because you simply wouldn’t recognize the place. But I was too embarrassed, especially by the state of the now-greenhouse-to-be. I look at it now and I can’t believe it, myself). I then goofed off for six weeks, to the detriment of the garden, got going again at the end of July and continued doing huge amounts of work right up until December, when it finally was just plain too cold. I’ve been on my tip-toes waiting until I could pick up where I left off.

On Monday and Tuesday, I raked all the front yard and part of the back yard and cut some saplings, brush and branches down toward the street. I pulled Tarpzilla off the garden patch in front, raked off the garden patch, spread Tarpzilla (he’s about 20 by 30 feet, this is one honking tarp) out on the driveway, swept him off, folded him up and put him in the greenhouse.

I spent a whole afternoon digging these horrendous fern root clumps one by one out of the patch in the east side front of the house with a mattock. These things are each about the size of a small tire and weigh more than that. I’ve wanted to dig them out for years and it was just too daunting a job. With great malicious glee I’ve used them to fill in the deep ruts in my dirt driveway so I can run over them with my car every time I go out (ha). When they were finally all out, I raked the bare dirt and put down grass seed. The house faces north and and it’s too shady to plant anything useful there. Several years ago, I cut down all the overgrown ugly bushes on the west front of the house and seeded the large bare spot left behind, and it’s all grass now. I wanted to get the grass seed in just before it rained, and I made it!

In 2009, when I had the tarps down in the front yard to kill the grass and create the space for the vegetable patch, I also had some tarps down on a sunny spot in the back yard for the same objective. But I never got around to cultivating that patch last summer. I decided I’d do that this year, because I want to try some early crops. Wednesday it poured rain, and today it was beautiful. I went out this afternoon and hand-dug a vegetable patch in the back yard with the mattock. I love my mattock. :-) My only regret about this spot is that there were a lot of naturalized crocuses there. But since they’re all flowering (and therefore highly visible), I transplanted them all to another location. I made a patch about 8 feet square, and I put in peas and spinach. Then I did more raking, and started working on clearing back the ground ivy that’s taking over the back yard. I cleared an entire flower bed that has two kinds of day lilies, narcissus and black raspberries, and was totally choked with ground ivy.

It’s only April 15, and I’ve already planted tomatoes, bell peppers, Brussels sprouts (found the seeds!), basil and dill (freebie seeds from the Triscuit box) indoors, and sugar snap peas and spinach outside! (Now watch. I’m going to look out some nice day and see the woodchuck eating the peas and spinach–if not a deer!)

When I haven’t been gardening, I’ve been working on BLUM’s next four releases. I’m querying reviewers and offering ARCs of Applewood, and completing the ebook editions and print book cover templates for that. I’ve sent off Anne Fraser’s two collections to an experienced editor for a read-through. When they come back, I’ll do the layout and get them ready to send out in galleys. I’m finishing the final edits for Marco (reading every word of it aloud, which is rather entertaining) and I’ll be sending the author the galley proof in just another couple of days. Meanwhile, I’m continuing to read books and watch documentaries as part of the research for All the Shadows of the Rainbow, and the next step is a detailed plot outline. I’ve never written a novel that way before, but this one is tied so closely into real-life events, I really need a tight timeline.

I’ve been buying ebooks for my research, both Kindle books and through Google, which had a title that wasn’t available for Kindle. I’ve read free ebooks on Pig (my netbook) before, but now I’ve finally progressed to actually buying them. It’s a different experience reading non-fiction books on Pig, because he’s on the wireless network. So, whenever I want to check a reference or look something up in the middle of reading, I just click over to a browser window and do it. On the other hand, I can’t put sticky notes into the ebooks when I come across something important.

I once again have blue hair. It needs several applications to build up a depth of color before I can really decide if I like it, but it’s okay so far. It must really be spring! :-) My car needs a new inspection sticker this month, and I need not to forget to take it in.

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Ruminations on the cusp of spring

The spring peepers were finally in full-throated cry yesterday. I started hearing them faintly on Monday, but it was still getting too cold at night for them. This is the latest I can ever remember them finally being out and singing for real. What a contrast to last spring, when everything was running about 10 days early! This year, everything is late. A few crocuses have just appeared in my back yard in the last couple of days, and a cluster of daffodil sprouts are up, but signs of life in my yard are still scant. The grass is yellow and matted flat, and there’s still just a bit of snow in the north shadow of the house.

Waxing Moon in Cancer, I’m starting seeds today! I went down into the crawl space, which is so nice and tidy after all my hard work in the fall clearing it out, and got out seed trays and bags of seed starting mix. I don’t even need to buy anything, except the seeds–tomatoes, bell peppers and basil. I have a few egg cartons that will serve perfectly to make up for the few extra “six-pack” tray fillers I need. I’ve just been annoyed that none of the seed displays I’ve checked so far have had Brussels sprouts seeds. Broccoli, yes, but not Brussies. Of course, last year’s Brussies did nothing but hide under the marigolds, which throve, but didn’t stop some pest from chewing on the Brussels sprouts plants. I’m still hoping that I might get better results by starting them early–and not neglecting the garden for six weeks like I did last year. :-(

As far as I know, the outside watering ban has not been rescinded. I’m planning to collect gray water, and check with Town Hall to see if I can get a waiver for fruit and vegetables. I’ve never watered the lawn, ever! I don’t even wash my car! I use outside water for food plants and that is all!

It’s funny how fast memory fades. Just two months ago, the snow banks on either side of my driveway were higher than my head, by a couple of feet. I’d never seen the snow so high outside the kitchen windows, in 21 years. The level snow pack was so deep, it was higher than the old trash can in back, and I didn’t see any deer tracks in my yards–they couldn’t get through the snow. Now it’s all gone, and I’m thinking about raking the yards and tilling the garden. I’d like to plant peas, but it’s already a bit late for them, and nothing is ready (I do have a couple of containers I could try putting them in).

The persistance of the cold weather does not bode well for this year’s growing season. Last year, we had the Endless Summer. I was still doing yard work outside into the first week of December! Now we’re having the Endless Winter. It just doesn’t want to give up. I’m dreading the onset of air conditioners even more than usual. (Gods, do I loathe air conditioning! I freeze all winter and the second it gets warm, everyone turns on the refrigeration! Sometimes I wonder if the Zombie Apocalypse really has happened, and people need to keep themselves well chilled or parts will start dropping off.)

The cats and I are all on diets. Vincent–he’s a huge fluffy faux-Maine-Coon-Cat–had gotten so obese, it wasn’t funny. I’d switched to all dry food, and free feeding, rather than giving them three meals a day and shutting up Vincent so he wouldn’t wolf down his food and then run to shove one of the daintier eaters away from his/her dish and hoover down that. For a while, that seemed to be working okay, because they didn’t inhale the dry food like they do the canned type. Magda and Giles just don’t overeat. Giles, being a boy, is built more sturdily than his sylph of a sister, but neither of them has a spare ounce anywhere. But Cerridwen was growing a round little tummy, and when she sat, she’d changed from a nice steampunk silhouette to more of a Southern belle hooped out as wide as she can go. And Vincent…OMG. It was just sad, how fat he got. It kind of crept up on me. I think he was eating a lot more when it got colder.

So now Vincent gets fed by himself, and all the dishes are picked up before I let him out–and he’s getting Iams weight management food, on top of that. We’re into the second bag of Iams, and he’s slimmed down noticeably, but he has a ways to go. I’ve been tightening my own belt at the same time, and I’ve lost about five pounds since February 22. I’m sliding down steadily, but I’d be doing better if I had someone to lock me up for meals–and stop me from buying cake slices at the grocery store bakery when I’m having a frustrating day. :-( But I’ve definitely stopped and reversed the creep upwards from last year. And of course, I’m working out harder than ever.

The Eastern bluebirds are hanging around. I’m amazed! I think I’m finally going to do my blue hair color again, and try out this new brand, Special Effects. The astrological transits are favorable for it. :-) The last time I went for a haircut, the salon was under new management and my stylist had quit! One of the new stylists gave me the best haircut I’d had in ages. I warned her that I’ll be going back to the blue hair. She didn’t seem fazed by it!

The spring peepers were finally in full-throated cry yesterday. I started hearing them faintly on Monday, but it was still getting too cold at night for them. This is the latest I can ever remember them finally being out and singing for real. What a contrast to last spring, when everything was running about 10 days early! This year, everything is late. A few crocuses have just appeared in my back yard in the last couple of days, and a cluster of daffodil sprouts are up, but signs of life in my yard are still scant. The grass is yellow and matted flat.

Waxing Moon in Cancer, I’m starting seeds today! I went down into the crawl space, which is so nice and tidy after all my hard work in the fall clearing it out, and got trays and bags of seed starting mix. I don’t even need to buy anything, except the seeds–tomatoes, bell peppers and basil. I have a few egg cartons that will serve perfectly to make up for the few extra “six-pack” tray fillers I need. I’ve just been annoyed that none of the seed displays I’ve checked so far have Brussels sprouts seeds. Broccoli, yes, but not Brussies. Of course, last year’s Brussies did nothing but hide under the marigolds, which throve, but didn’t stop some pest from chewing on the Brussels sprouts plants. I’m still hoping that I might get better results by starting them early–and not neglecting the garden for six weeks like I did last year. :-(

As far as I know, the outside watering ban has not been rescinded. I’m planning to collect gray water, and check with Town Hall to see if I can get a waiver for fruit and vegetables. I’ve never watered the lawn, ever! I don’t even wash my car! I use outside water for food plants and that is all!

It’s funny how fast memory fades. Just two months ago, the snow banks on either side of my driveway were higher than my head, by a couple of feet. I’d never seen the snow so high outside the kitchen windows, in 21 years. The level snow pack was so deep, it was higher than the old trash can in back, and I didn’t see any deer tracks in my yards, they couldn’t get through the snow. Now it’s all gone, and I’m thinking about raking the yards and tilling the garden. I’d like to plant peas, but it’s already a bit late for them, and nothing is ready (I do have a couple of containers I could try putting them in).

The persistance of the cold weather does not bode well for this year’s growing season. Last year, we had the Endless Summer. I was still doing yard work outside into the first week of December! Now we’re having the Endless Winter. It just doesn’t want to give up. I’m dreading the onset of air conditioners even more than usual. (Gods, do I loathe air conditioning! I freeze all winter and the second it gets warm, everyone turns on the refrigeration! Sometimes I wonder if the Zombie Apocalypse really has happened, and people need to keep themselves well chilled or parts will start dropping off.)

The cats and I are all on diets. Vincent–he’s a huge fluffy faux-Maine-Coon-Cat–had gotten so obese, it wasn’t funny. I’d switched to all dry food, and free feeding, rather than giving them three meals a day and shutting up Vincent so he wouldn’t wolf down his food and then run to shove one of the daintier eaters away from his/her dish and hoover down that. For a while, that seemed to be working okay, because they didn’t inhale the dry food like they do the canned type. Magda and Giles just don’t overeat. Giles, being a boy, is built more sturdily than his sylph of a sister, but neither of them has a spare ounce anywhere. But Cerridwen was growing a round little tummy, and when she sat, she’d changed from a nice steampunk silhouette to more of a Southern belle hooped out as wide as she can go. And Vincent…OMG. It was just sad, how fat he got. It kind of crept up on me. I think he was eating a lot more when it got colder.

So now Vincent gets fed by himself, and all the dishes are picked up before I let him out–and he’s getting Iams weight management food, on top of that. We’re into the second bag of Iams, and he’s slimmed down noticeably, but he has a ways to go. I’ve been tightening my own belt at the same time, and I’ve lost about five pounds since February. I’m sliding down steadily, but I’d be doing better if I had someone to lock me up for meals–and stop me from buying cake slices at the grocery store bakery when I’m having a frustrating day. :-( But I’ve definitely stopped and reversed the creep upwards from last year. And of course, I’m working out harder than ever.

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My tweets

  • Fri, 18:59: RT @HappyAbout: “Football incorporates the two worst elements of American society: violence punctuated by committee meetings.” – George Will
  • Fri, 19:03: It’s been so long since I opened a can, I couldn’t remember what my can opener looks like! Had to stop & think before I could find it!
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My tweets

  • Wed, 12:55: Out for 2nd day of cleanup–looks like lot of sleet fell so it’s going to be rough going. Safe bet that my groundhog did not see shadow. :)
  • Wed, 12:57: EVERYTHING closed for this one. Library closed. My BANK is closed. Grateful for direct deposit. I already have my state tax refund. :-D
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Waiting for the weather-bomb to drop…


Here it comes!!!!!!!



The STORM of the
CENTURY!
WINTER OF ’11!
MONTH!

WEEK!




This is what they’re currently saying we’ll have by Thursday morning, in two back-to-back storms. It’s going to snow all day tomorrow, break for a couple of hours and then snow all day and night on Wednesday. Just for reference, I’m just above the dot of the “i” in “Leominster” on that map. I’m going to be snowed in and shoveling for three days. :-( And I don’t know where I’m going to put all the snow, I really don’t!

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Seriously thinking of exporting this journal to a hosted WordPress blog, canceling my paid account and saying so long to LiveJournal for good. It’s way past time, seems like.

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My tweets

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