Monthly Archives: April 2015

Spring Madness Continues: Weeds Vs. Me

 

The waterfall view, Mom’s garden, spring 2015

 
My own garden is tiny as I mentioned in Spring Mad Dash. If you add up all the strips of yard I have the total maybe 1200 square feet. The process of weeding and spring cleanup is a joy.  Before the spring growth surge & after, I used it as a rest break from working in the studio.

But I’m struggling to enjoy the weeding process at Mom’s. Her gardens are larger than mine. At least 4000 square feet and every square inch needs to be weeded.  Not just the easy weeds, she’s got THOUSANDS of tree or vine seedlings.  (I took a few pictures as evidence, but they just aren’t photogenic. It just looks like a large patch of green.) I also missed a few from last fall. The survivors are now a foot taller than the shrub or boulder it was originally hiding under.  Forget about pulling them out by hand. Now it’s a shovel, digging deep narrow holes and a 5 minute tug of war.  So I can’t procrastinate on the thousands. One or two battle of wills is all I can manage. I have resorted to chemicals on one, after spending 30 minutes trying to dig it out. But it isn’t a good option with the surrounding shrubs, waterfall and strong winds. One year, she had a gardener do it. They just break or cut those at ground level, leaving me with a bigger, stronger, nastier root to battle next season.  Those are the ones I have to resort to chemical warfare. So, more professional gardeners are aggravating than doing it all myself. 

Needless to say, this gives me way too much time to think or ruminate about stuff. Grumbling about the situation doesn’t make it more enjoyable. Trying to identify the bird songs helps. Next time I’ll bring earbuds for podcast listening

Or the concept of being a process vs product knitter. Does the same concept apply to gardening?  

If so, then I’d be giving up on Mom’s garden right now.  Too bad I can throw it into a closet. I don’t know what part of THIS gardening process can be considered enjoyable. Do you?  Do you have any tips or tricks to keep going when you’re ready to give up? Knitting or gardening or otherwise?

The only thing I have right now is the old carrot and stick. The only carrot is the end results (a beautiful peaceful garden for Mom to enjoy everyday), the stick is knowing how much worse it will be if I don’t get it done now. The stick is motivating me to keep going. 

I have been playing little mind games of small goal setting (work up to that cherry tree before lunch), or alternating between tackling that two foot monster with easy oxalis , or alternating weeding with picking up branches.  That’s worked so far. But I’ve got at least 5 more full days of weeding ahead of me. 

Last fall we mulched our yard with pine straw. Worked like a charm for keeping the weeds to a minimum (cut my work load from 5 hours to 2) and prevented the rainwater coming off the roof from splashing mud onto the house. Regular mulch failed to the job. So I convinced Mom to use pine straw as a ground cover. I have spread out 28 bales over the areas I finished weeding. I’m guessing I’ll need another 15 bales to finish the back. This should save me some labor in the future. 

I am aching and sore*, spots of poison ivy rash, and for a week, stopped by mother robin and rain. She is nesting in the pine tree (I’m standing right by the tree as I photographed the garden). When I come near her tree, she dashes out and squawks at me from the safety of the pecan tree. She could abandon this nest, if I bother her too much. So weeding will have to wait until the eggs have hatched. Then she’ll be busy hunting earthworms for the hatchlings. 

The results are worth all the work. I did finish all the sections we view most. 

 

Mom’s garden, spring 2015 Robin’s nest is in the pine in the left foreground

  

Mom’s garden, spring 2015 finished weeding

 

*I might be sore for a very different reason. Namely a trip to Stitches South market. Next post. Oh my….

Road Trip: Washington, D.C.

This was going to be titled ‘inside the beltway.’  Instead, if you don’t know what it means, here’s a short explanation at Wikipedia

I’d prefer to chat about being a tourist in our capital.  It’s obvious who works there (dressed for serious business with biggest leather tote bags) and the rest of us in good walking shoes, comfortable clothes and backpacks. I liked being comfortable. 

Discoveries on this trip: 

Sunrise on the Washington monument

  • Sunrise and sunset colors the Washington monument.
  • Something is always being renovated, this time, the capital building and the National Mall grounds. No pictures of ugly chain link fencing. 
  • Something is always being built. This time, it is a new museum, African American History and Cultural. 
  • I heard so many more languages than American English.  Are internationals more interested in our museums and historic landmarks than we are?  Or maybe it’s because I didn’t go to bigger Smithsonian museums. 
  • I always go to the Sackler and Freer Galleries to see old favorites and new exhibits. This will probably be the last time I get to see an old favorite, Whistler’s Peacock Room. (Exhibit ends January 2016.) This time, beautiful intricate Islamic Calligraphy.  
  • And finally, my new favorite place is the courtyard at the National Portrait Gallery. I love the undulating roof and the water ‘fall’ floor.  One of the few peaceful places in DC. 

National Portrait Gallery courtyard

Thanks for stopping by.  

Chat with you later. 

Spring Mad Dash

I feel like the starter gun has just been shoot and I’m in a race to get EVERYTHING done before the sweltering heat and humidity of summer arrives for good.  I’m still learning to live in the south.  The hard lesson is not to procrastinate on any outdoor to-do list tasks. Suck it up and get it done.  (It was much easier this year because Hubby took some vacation days.)

Done:

Three double windows, front and patio doors were upgraded and replaced, hopefully so they don’t need refinishing every other spring.  Waited several years before making the investment. So glad we finally did. The difference in temperature and noise is significant. 

New front doors being installed. Definely not a DYI project.

Add:

The old front doors are waiting for some interior decorating DIY. I’m hoping to silver leaf the windows for a giant hall mirror. 

Along with painting the entry and dining room. It’s a symptom of upgrade creep. New doors shows off old scuffed walls. 

Done:

Added motion sensor outdoor lights to the darkest walkways. 

Since not all windows were replaced, we just refinished six.  They will need a third cost of paint as soon as the rain stops. The rest of the windows will have to wait until the fall.  

Note to self: next house should be single story!  Or maybe in the next few years we’ll replace the remaining pair of upstairs windows. 

 

white bleeding hearts & solomon’s seal

 

Done:

A few early spring flowers get me out in the yard.  Hummmm…maybe I should plant more spring flowers that are not white.  Rain wakes up all seeds, e.g., lots of weeds. And I want to get them before they get bigger or start to seed. Already too late for one kind of weed that is spring loaded.  As soon as I touched it, seeds shoot out in all directions.  

Note to self: gets these guys before they flower!  

Splurged at the annual plant sale on ferns for the shade garden and stonecrop for the sunny yard.  Who knew a zero lot house would have such different microclimates?

I am very grateful that we did not buy a house with a large garden. Now that I’ve attacked the weeds that survived last winter and any new seedlings, maintainence will hopefully be just an hour or so a week. 

It feels so good to checked that off my to-do list. 

Add:

One last big project still on the garden to-do list. Dig out the wild ginger. It’s too aggressive and taking over other plants. Beautiful plant, nicely scented, but it’s behaving like mint or bamboo. It’s becoming a pest. 

Add:

Next week, I’ll be tackling Mom’s yard, much bigger than mine.  But it’s a delicate to work in her yard, lots of song birds come to the waterfall. Bluebirds, finches, mockingbirds, cardinals, sparrows, squirrels and rabbits. Last year we counted 4 nests (robins & mockingbird). 

Last day in the nest, 2014

Chat with you next week. 

Post script:  a few blogs are starting to post about spring cleaning. I’ll add more as I see them. 

Caring for your garden tools From Get Rich Slowly

A gardening podcast: A Way To Garden


Changes to the 2015 Knitting Bucket List

Link to original bucket list.

The change all starts with Dark Matter Knits podcast, episode 23. She shows a new hat design for men called ‘Aftershave.’ 

 I had to show it to my hubby. He LIKED IT! (four years of watching me knit and hubby has not wanted ANY knit wear.  I had to jump on this.)

I now have a whole new category of knitting projects. Hats for hubby! 

 Of course, we went immediately to the Local Yarn Shop to pick up this last winter’s hats worth of soft wool!

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Now four lovely hats are swished in the center console of his car.  Worn once or twice.  They are too hot and itchy. They are not super wash, so forget about donating them. Maybe I’ll let them shrink a bit for my use. Hmmmm….

Dashed hope for a new knitting category…scratch THAT off my bucket list. 

Second change, scratching off one of the big projects, the Debbie McIver Swirl jacket. 

I have to book. I have the yarn. I have narrowed it down to two but couldn’t make that final decision. Couldn’t make that commitment leap.  

Than I see that Bliss Yarns in Brentwood Tennessee will have a trunk show at the same time I’m in the area. Woo Hoo! Thank you Bliss Yarns!  Hubby took pictures so I could pick out the one I wanted. Instead, I was the frumpiest old lady you’ve ever seen.  Hope and dreams of a long hours of knitting AND a beautiful flattering jacket dashed. Tragedy and disappointment averted. But even so my heart sank. Reality is no fun. 

Evidence: two of the five jackets. 

   

As a consolation and encouraged by hubby, I did some stash enhancement at the shop. I was caught off guard by hubby’s enabling. He’s way more dangerous than knitting friends!

My bucket list summer knitting is self-restricted to cotton, linen, socks. I got all three categories. Snagged the current rage, Regia’s Arne & Carlos for self-patterned socks.  Euroflax has a new lace weight linen (on the spool). Juniper Moon Zooey is a cotton-linen blend in natural. Plus something purple.  

blurry image, still learning to use the camera: newly acquired at Bliss Yarns

So my bucket list expanded, contracted, deflated, and has settled into something reasonable. 

Chat with you next week. 

Obligatory Apology for Blog Silence

I need to end the silence or forever more be too embarrassed to ever blog again. It’s time to suck it up and end the silence AND the embarrassment.

I don’t know if you want an explanation for four months of silence.  Some of it is interesting, like the road trips and studio time, the rest was spent sitting at the computer with a year of receipts.  I won’t bore you with details of the multiple start overs with spreadsheets.  Besides, this is still a blog about the creative process, not ‘creative’ bookkeeping. 

I did listen and watch lots of podcasts and CreativeLive streaming about start-ups, entrepreneurs, and othe business stuff.  Those traits and characteristics of preserverence, focus, single mindedness, driven, blab blab blab. Who was I kidding? ,,,,I…one of the few who ‘make it’.  Really???  

In my mind, blogging and the Etsy shop had been melded together. My mistake. They really are two different but related things started in 2014. 

Is blogging worthwhile? Yes.  It’s been enjoyable and painful at the same time.  I enjoy blogging.  I enjoy sharing insights and observations. Just not multiple times a week and not the computer hours to produce a post. It took me a day and a half. (People lied when they said it would get easier and faster.) I think some of this has been resolved with the new smart phone. And I’m not going to strive for perfection. But reserve the right to go bad and edit a post. (Which I am doing right now). 

Where do I want to take the Slanted Stitches business?  I still don’t know the answer to this. I really do enjoy the design process. I enjoy it when I see my bags being used. I love hearing from many of you.  I love learning new things in the process.  Production will be limited. Just assume I am always striving to improve products. 

How bad are my numbers for the first year? Technically, not bad. I made a profit, not including my labor. I discovered I was over zealous about fabric stashing/inventory that is embarrassing. And DIY the bookkeeping setup was a bad idea. I just bought Quickbooks. Please solve all my numbers problems for me?!?!  I’ll see the accountant in a few weeks.

Enough of that…..

What were the fun parts of the last four months?

Fortunately knitting is portable. Lots of knitting has happened, enough for a separate post.

Finished Knitting Projects in 2015

So far this year, I have been to Washington DC, Kentucky, Portsmouth & Boston and Florida.  I did posts pictures on Instagram.  I will try to be better at posting them here as well. A bit more learning curve for editing photographs on a smart phone. 

Washington , DC composite

Inbetween trips, I have been at the sewing machine.  The first attempt of a new handbag was a total failure. The second bag was a modification of a purchased pattern. More successful.  But frustrating to use.  The last three versions are being road tested by knit friends as I write.  I’m going to assume a few more versions in the near future. 

Bag prototypes.

I’m going to declare this first post by smart phone a success!