Summer’s Dryness

That part of summer has arrived when rain is irregular, the sun is strong, there are patches of brown grass in the yard, and the chewing insects are eating the leaves and petals in the wildflower garden. I do still have the section of silt-textured dirt along the south side of the house to turn over and mix with the spent coffee grounds and peat moss to add organic materials. Right now, there are none, and nothing grows there but in a few spots where I tried adding the coffee grounds some months ago. And then it was evident that I needed to do more with it.

So, I have reserved most of the 1/4 lb. package of annual blue wild flax seed, which I will try to get planted, assuming I prepare that stretch of dirt. In previous years the stuff reseeded and bloomed into November on its own in the old plot. I think it is not too late, getting it into the dirt at the beginning of August, here in North Dakota.

In the meanwhile, some photographs from the past two to four days of the California Poppies.

 

A tired week

The week has been too warm and too humid, with attending off-and-on rain showers. I’ve turned the desktop computer on (but not the printer) and will not unplug everything again until/unless there is a thunderstorm in the immediate area.

In the meanwhile, the puppies and I have gotten outside occasionally for short time periods to walk around and remember that we are mobile creatures, all of us. I am happy for the Tough camera that I bought (Olympus), which is droppable and waterproof. Yes, the wet is that wet.

Coming Inside, Now

The Scampers and I leave tracks from the back step into the living room until the sun’s been out long enough to dry the grass in the back yard.

Things are … scattered at this point, disorganized and relatively low key, but comfortable.

Here are some of the photographs from the last time that the Scampers and I went outside. Not that long ago.

 

The end of the week and gardening

The reports of the Nile Virus on the news broadcasts sounded daunting. Since I can’t use insect repellents or insecticides, I may be spending more time indoors than I had planned on, timing my gardening around pest-free conditions. I expect that may involve being out on a breezy, dry day in long skirts/long-sleeve shirt and work gloves. I still have to improve the soil along the front and sides of the house, where nothing grows, now, but for the tulips in the spring. I’ve the “aged” used coffee grounds and the peat moss. I have only to dig out half a foot of soil all the way around (in sections), mix the barren dirt with the additives, and smooth it out, again. Then I can water the soil and tamp down the seeds. I’ve only the annual flax seeds, and only two ounces of those, and so I may have to order more for summer and autumn blooming.

The new garden is in shade more than I’d planned on, by the backyard fence. It catches tree and house shadows before 9:00 a.m. and late in the afternoon until dark. So, I must pick wildflower mixtures next year that fit better with that.

Gardening and such

Last week got a bit hectic, comings and goings, rain, errands to run, and stuff to do. I do now have more flowers in my garden. Most of them are yellow and orange (sweet clover, dandelions, wallflowers and California poppies). I can now see tiny wild flax stems emerging, and I’m looking forward to some flowers developing within the next month or so.

These last four photographs are from Sunday’s backyard outing with the Scampers.

With the warmer weather, my energy level has gone down. Fortunately, so have the pollen levels. The tree pollen that bothers me is now out of season. I think I’m good, now, until ragweed becomes prevalent. (No trips to the ER, this spring!)

I have purchased copies of the poster-size photo montages that were created for my parents’ memorial services and hope to get frames for them. Not all to be hung up around the house, but finding a place to hang one at a time and rotate through the seven of them. I have looked through the book Writing to Heal the Soul. I decided that writing an occasional poem is/has been adequate and happens spontaneously…I think I’m good.

a pair of blue wild flax flowers from last year's garden
Blue Wild Flax

Retrospective July 2015

Now that the old garden is no more, and seeds for fall planting have been ordered from American Meadows, I am sitting in the front room with my computer, reviewing the flower photos from 2015. The above pictures are from 24 July 2015.

Al bought low fencing which, combined with the taller stuff from the previous garden, appears to be keeping the dogs out. The ground is turned and waiting for seeds and final raking before winter sets in.

The day is cloudy, gloomy with a forecast of rain. I have finished reading Modesitt’s Solar Express, again. Another of the “reread often” selection. Must remember to order a paper version, so that if the digital library ever fails, I will have an outgassed edition to hand.

Next up is Crosstalk by Connie Willis.

Gloomy Monday

I got some puppy pictures, this morning, also, but must wait on them until I finally have breakfast lunch.

Progress – New Garden

The new garden plot is now in place. It is four feet by twelve feet, which means that I should be able to weed it comfortably. I am considering ordering seed packets for fall planting of wildflowers. We have already had frost/freezing weather here along the Red River. I must find out if I have missed any deadlines and what planting conditions should be, given the early cold, this autumn.

Four Feet by Twelve

We got the concrete slab poured for Al’s workshop, and the skid-steer driver, seeing Al digging the plot with his shovel and fork, volunteered to remove the sod for him. The equipment is now out of our yard, and the fence is in place, so that the Scampers can have free run of the yard.

Next came days of rain and mud tracked into the house. Thaddeus (the buff and cream Scamper) had massive clumps of mud dried into the hair on his feet and legs and between his toes. He had his first half-bath experience, last night, to wet and wash out all the dirt. He was not impressed by the operation.

Myself, I am still processing my mother’s going into the nursing home under hospice care. The brother next to me in birth order is certain that she will not make it to the end of the year. Me? I would not venture a guess without hearing a doctor’s evaluation. My father is doing well at home; family live in the same town, and so there is someone to visit every day.

The other re-organizations are still up in the air, here at home. We have yet to put the waterbed back together in the basement bedroom, where the egress window was installed over a year ago. I still need to throw out or otherwise dispose of perhaps a thousand paper books and take down more shelving, so that there will be room to move. In the meanwhile, I am still sleeping in my recliner, which I have been doing since I retired. My office has turned into a bed-sitting room. I have box upon box of papers and miscellanea to go through and toss.

We have had quite a number of heavy rains, spread out over days and shorter, and there has been no seepage into the basement. It appears that banking around the house, replacement of the rain gutters, and adding a new downspout have handled the problem. We are talking about adding more dirt, next summer, just up around the house and in some low spots. The fourth (westernmost) cotoneaster shrubs did not survive, and so Al finally sawed off all of the remaining branches and dug up the roots, this past week. The other three clusters are doing well, and so we still have shade along the south side of the yard. When Al gets his workshop built, next year, we will have shelter along the north side of the back yard from the winter winds.

The currently former wildflower bed has been trampled down, run over and munched on by the Scampers. I will be surprised if much has survived of the wild flax flowers. I did save some seeds in an envelope for the new garden plot, once it’s raked smooth. I also will try to find some to purchase via mail order. I am considering re-adding vegetables to the list of seeds. I have enjoyed the cucumbers from the family across the back fence, but I do miss the zucchini and summer squashes.

I continue in my attempts to lengthen my time on the exercise bike. Some setbacks, but I continue in my efforts. Also, while I am not managing to play the piano every day, I am getting to it perhaps three or four times a week, and I can tell that the dexterity is coming back. I do need to re-learn the written notes, rather than just trusting that my fingers will find the correct keys.

Ah, well!

The House and Garden(s)

The garden in which the blue wild flax grow has not yet been tended to, but the other gardens, which bordered the house and garage, are covered in up to half a foot of new topsoil, covering the areas where sidewalks have been removed and where the ground has sunk. As well, we filled in the area where a large poplar was removed (over 10 years ago, I think) and roots have eventually rotted away.

In the few days since the dirt was scattered, the bindweed has emerged and started to cover the area where the poplar was. My husband suggested hopefully that if we put down enough grass seed, it would crowd out the weeds. Since the weeds have been crowding out the established grass for the past ten years or more (and the poison ivy is proliferating at a frightening rate, not to mention the tall and flat thistles that now require my wearing my moccasins when entering the back of the yard, near the fence line.

This afternoon, I scattered grass seed on the west side of the house in anticipation of rains this afternoon and this evening. I also replanted the chive bulbs that I had to dig up so that a new step could be poured at the back door. The cluster was very fat, and so I separated the bulbs and planted them along the house for several feet on both sides of the new step. The two wild violets that the worker saved for me have been replanted in the same area from which they were removed. When I was done planting, I took a couple containers of water from the dehumidifier in the basement to wet down the soil.

I still have a stack of what I assume are iris rhizomes. I’ve read the description of characteristics to look for when dividing and replanting rhizomes, and I don’t understand them. (I must look for photographs.) I expect that I have another week in which to divide and plant them, since they’re lying in their dirt in the garden’s shade.

I have taken very few photographs since the work on the house and yard was completed, mid-afternoon on Wednesday, even of the wild flax. On Thursday we had to get up, because work was needed on the car, which we had put off so that I would not be left alone and in charge of decision making while the work here was being completed. We did go off for a grilled salmon dinner at a local restaurant (for a bit less than we have been spending on beef); it has been a long while since we have eaten fish. It was very good.

Since then, in between chores, I have been sleeping. Al got a tension rod at the neighborhood hardware store, so we now have a colored bed sheet covering the new double windows in the kitchen. I like the egress window in the basement, but we will need at least one step up to it in the basement and a wooden ladder of some sort to exit the window well into the back yard.  We have a pressure pole for that, but I haven’t gotten out the tape measure and fabrics box to find something that will do for a window blind. I know that my beach towel won’t work, but there must be a piece somewhere. My first thought is to check the remnants counter at the nearest fabrics store. It wouldn’t take too long to bind up the edges and attach loops. It’s been so long since I’ve sewn anything that I might also have to buy needles and new thread. (I have straight pins, but only embroidery and cross-stitch threads and needles.)

Another “celebration” of sorts! Now that we are nearing the end of the gruesome chores (window treatments, watering grass, seeding gardens, sealing wooden frames and windows so I can re-enter the kitchen safely, etc.), we have goodies! Al bought three Raspberry Pi computers and memory cards, and he is going to help me learn how to set up the operating system and such on mine. I splurged and ordered the $35 model. When I am awake again, I will enjoy reading more about the capabilities and limitations.

The way I have my IdeaCentre set up, all I will have to do is transfer my USB hub from the desktop to the Pi, and I could have mouse, keyboard, monitor, CD drive, and/or printer connected. I am not certain whether any of my external hard drives can be used on it as is for external storage, since I’m already using them for backups on the other computers.

Samantha (cocker spaniel) has discovered that I am awake. She’s suggested that we explore luncheon possibilities. She is still missing Nathan, the man who did most of the work on the house repairs. He always took time to pet and play with her when I brought her outside on her leash. I don’t know how long it will be before she quits looking for him whenever she goes outside.

I may or may not get another set of photo art pieces uploaded here before I fall asleep again. The wild flax hadn’t totally faded away by the time I got outside during Friday’s afternoon.

Blue Wild Flax Flowers – Saturday

We still have smoky haze in the air, presumably from the wildfires to the north and west of us. The diffuse light made for better photographs than I’ve gotten some days.

All of the flower beds are stripped and buried under new dirt, now. In the near future, I will have to clear the vegetable/salad garden where the wild flax now grow. The bunnies are now long gone to other people’s back yards, and among the volunteer plants in the salad garden, I see several poison ivy plants. Not a good thing.

In for the long haul

The contractors have begun work, here, by preparing the ground for placing the egress window. Right beneath my bed-sitting room window. The dog and I took a nap, this afternoon, and managed to ignore them.

The weather has not been favorable for wild flax flowers. Too cold at night, perhaps. There are lots of seed pods, however, and I noticed that a number of new plants are already coming up. Tomorrow I must dig out my chives and replant them in the garden somewhere.

The dirt that is being dug out is part good growing dirt, and part clay…which is not. I am certain that I will have to replant everything around the house when they’re done.

May have to resort to container planting.

New adventures?

 

Friday in the Garden


The weather was too hot and humid for photography, and so I ventured out just a few times with Samantha, the first time at about 8:30. I slept a lot. I think that I made two more visits to the back yard before the flower petals had all dropped. The temperature was at 95°F when we returned home from grocery shopping late in the afternoon. By then, there were no flowers at all.

 

This weather calls to mind our September of two years ago, when I became unable to breathe because of the heat and almost ended up in the hospital, again. This year, I am staying inside and enjoying the new central air system that we had installed, that year. It keeps the temperature at an even 72°F all year round, making it much easier to breathe, most of the time.

At the back of the yard, along the fence and in the mostly shade, the lawn grass has been totally replaced by thistles that grow close to the ground and spread out their leaves in a circular pattern. I have seen no flowers on them. I believe that whenever the lawn is mowed without first removing the thistles, each piece that remains tries to grow into a new thistle, until there is barely room for new ones to find a place. I plan to boil some water, add vinegar, and pour it over a section of the thistles to see if it will kill both plant and roots.