Wednesday, June 08, 2022

The Warmer Part of 2022

Is getting older just accumulating more and more forms of outrage? When my mother was dying, the BP oil spill and Chilean coal miners stuck underground were both stories that captivated the world. I remember her saying - or perhaps writing down and I read it later - that she felt as if maybe she was leaving the world before it all got much, much worse. I must admit I notice all the BIG BAD in the greater world, but my day-to-day is still fairly peaceful. I know there are all sorts of things I could do to be a slightly more active participant in terms of at least attempting to find better balance in the world - most of these things are donating to righteous causes, and I wholly admit I am not doing all that much. As is in evidence through these photographs, which, as always, are not in a strictly chronological order. 

For reasons beyond my understanding, my neighbor recently lost use of land he had been leasing for his horses. So he moved five horses and at least ten head of cattle into the parcel of land closest to my own. I even helped (a little) with making sure they went into that parcel of land and didn't just gallop away down the road never to be seen again. Now I get to see them far more closely and often than in the past. I've been given permission to go into the pasture with them, but I often just go up to the shared fenceline when I see them. I bought some past-their-prime apples at the grocery store and bring them with me in an attempt to better befriend them. They like the apples, but it's way too early for them to like me. These photos were taken earlier this week. 

This horse's mustache is just wonderful. 
This past weekend I joined my friend A. and her family at the Blue Ridge Music Center and got to see a contingent of Winston Salem chamber orchestra players cover popular songs, and then Dori Freeman (who is a local artist getting some national attention as of late) play her own set before then being joined by the classical musicians. I found it a very strange choice to have the amphitheater built so that the sun was not setting behind it, but it was still a good sunset if you just turned around. 
Recent lamb burger with not authentic tzatziki (no herbs just garlic, cucumber, salt and yogurt) and tomatoes. 
Back to the music night. 

Baby Birdie deigning in sleep to a little leg spooning. 
After a lot of delay due to two different neighbor men not coming through with their assurances that they could till up my garden, I bit the bullet and bought my own rear tine tiller. Put it together all by myself, and it started on the first pull. The late purchase order and delivery meant that I had to put a first bunch of transplants into ground I shovel turned by hand, and I've been kind of scrambling to get everything else in place. I've never played DnD but I think this year's garden energy is chaotic evil. I'm just slap dash putting things in the ground. Tomatoes aren't planted as deeply as they should be; I have no compost to amend the soil: my lay-out is totally not logical; the folks I previously was able to buy watermelon and okra starts from went out of business; two of the cucumber plants (silver slicers) I planted already look like they aren't going to make it. But I have already put in a whole heck of a lot of zinnia seeds in a few different places, and one whole package of pole bean seeds. And there are some sunflower seeds that probably won't amount to much. The three eggplants already are being eaten alive by little black beetles. I have yet to find the best way to prevent my paths from becoming overgrown with weeds, so I'm using landscape fabric liberally, which I think any real gardener would be appalled by due to the laziness as well as the waste of money. I'm hoping this upcoming farmer's market  will have a couple more plants for me to buy. So far it's a mostly tomato/pepper garden. I decided I wouldn't try brussels sprouts again because they, too, were especially ravaged by bugs, no matter how much neem or diatamaceous earth I sprayed/dusted. In any case, here I am, slightly triumphant, after my second round of tilling (did a third one before I started planting). 
I totally dug up the funny, slightly too wet and weirdly clay-y and sometimes stinky iris bed that was so overgrown and choked up that only three or four irises would bloom - I got close to if not more than 100 rhizomes once I dug everything up. In addition to replanting some of the iris, I also planted two new rose plants, some peonies (which hopefully will thrive in later years), a lot of gladilouses. day lilies and asiatic lilies, aquiligia (which I don't think has properly rooted and thus the brown spot where I haven't mulched). The chickens are getting at my last nerve with their scratching up of the area. They're even worse in the garden - my fishing line fence line doesn't dissuade them. I spent a portion of today putting up better netting...but then ran out. 
I'm having quite a number of family members (12) come visit later in the summer. They won't all stay in the house as that is pretty much impossible, but I do imagine that we'll be doing a lot of home hanging out, so I bought some additional porch furniture so we can all have seats. I also unfurled the new shade-thing we installed last year (after I broke the previous one). 
Sunset evening time in the summer is really just a magic time. The nearby cattle or horses makes it even more delightful. 
This peony plant was here when I bought the place, and it would always produce buds...that would not bloom. And yet this year they did! It's the only peony that isn't the white/pink color, which is pretty exciting. I think maybe they bloomed because we had A LOT of rain the week before? Who knows. I'm grateful to meet them. 
Like, really, it doesn't get old to have views like this on a daily basis. 
I'd long suspected that there was a patio hiding underneath grass where this...trellis(?), but it was only in the last month or so that I bothered confirming the suspicion. You'll see  'before/during' photographs lower down. What I should have done is just been happy I found it. But I listened a baker friend from long ago commented on Facebook that if I didn't want grass to just regrow, I should take it all apart and do things better. At first I scoffed at the idea, thinking of the work and logistics involved, but then in a moment of blind hubris and overconfidence, I thought I COULD do it. Guess what!
I can't! Somehow now there aren't enough stones to cover the area, even though there were enough stones originally! I have some thoughts about the 'why' of this, and plan on taking all the stones back up, laying down some kind of gravel, then sand, then stones and then more sand. But I am still too demoralized by the day I realized I should never have tried to do this in the first place. It may be one million years before this is resolved. 
But at least there are still horses to say hello to. 
Another fun discovery of the spring/summer, which I should have understood two years ago but better late than never, is that black snakes love to hang around in the rafters of my small barn. To say I was surprised the first time I looked up and saw a snake peering down at me would be an understatement, but now I frequently go out there just to look up and see what I can see. 
Different view of redone flower garden? I'm going to put one of those kind of tacky reflective ball tings where the stone is. When I was a kid my mother and I would drive from our home in Maryland to visit her family in Ohio. My mother was a creature of habit in many ways, so the trip usually involved the same exact stops, year after year after year. And two of those stops were at pottery outlets in Zanesville, Ohio, and I was always most fascinated by the reflective balls on cement pedestals. And now I have decided the next time I visit Ohio, I'm going to go to those same stores and buy myself one. The end. 
Sexy machine.
Rafter snake!
Hippo very annoyed with me that I'm making her sit in front of a faint rainbow. Can dogs see rainbows I wonder?
The hummingbirds arrived and were quite active. Then disappeared for a couple of weeks (I've deduced they've been nesting?). But are beginning to come back around. I need to change out the old nectar for new so they won't think of my place as the dirty dive bar of hummingbird watering holes. 
I saw four snapping turtles in 24 hours. Two of which were inside my house yard fence. I poked one until it went away (or at least got out of my and the dogs' eyesight). I scooped another one up with a snow shovel and unceremoniously dropped it outside my fence. The other was trying to get into my yard via my neighbor's land, but I am pretty sure it couldn't possibly get through the fence. And the last one was just walking in the middle of the road a half mile from my house. Snapping turtles are like venomous snakes: I know they exist in my environment, but I'd very much like to believe they don't actually live in my yard. 
Rainbow with Roses of Sharon?
Egret by the beaver dam. 
This. I should have just left it like this. 
Mr. Ass and his fiancee were traveling to Asheville and stopped by for a very quick dinner and overnight visit. I was happy to see them and get to give them a very whirlwind tour of the property. Their visit coincided with one last cold spell before temperatures more consistently went up. Hopefully they'll come back another time when the fireflies are out (as they are now) and you don't have to bundle up to sit outside. 
Flower bed once I dug everything up but before I put everything in. 
Irises my father dug up in Sewanee, which I planted in 2020, bloomed for the first time this year. 
Before the patio was uncovered at all. 
So bundled. So chilly.
Peonies before the storm that concluded with a rainbow. 
Gawgeous. This apple tree blooms so beautifully but then doesn't make any apples. 
I'm still doing my shitty little paintings. Sometimes I like to try and paint photographs of things on fire.
First professionally done hair cut in 3 years. Still dyeing it at home and splattering my bathroom with permanent splotches of purple or red. 
Rainbow from afar. 
Before I started digging up all the irises. 
Early morning misty, frosty times.
The few crocuses I plant that manage not to be eaten by rabbits or chickens. 
Walked down to the beaver dam on a beautiful day. At this point their den is pretty far away from the dam itself. I don't go down there at the right time (dusk) to see them active nearly as often as I should. 
The dogs losing their minds about a squirrel in a tree. 
I found a business that would help me with a few land projects in early March. They retrenched the stream/creek/branch that flows into the pond. So far its path is mostly holding, though there are some caveats to that.
I didn't have them fence the pasture because their rates were higher than the other fencing folks, but I did have them fence in a section of land closer to the house that I'll use as a ram or pig enclosure. Now that everything has come back to life and greened up, it's a mess in there, so it might even make sense to get a goat or two to clean it all up. I should have had them bush hog it even more and then seed the whole thing so it'd be more grass and less...goldenrod and other such things?
I've also been doing a series of palette cleansers where I try to paint a Clearly Canadian bottle. None of the attempts are great, but I liked that this one turned out...a little sexy? If you see the legs, you see the legs...if you don't, you don't know why I would describe this as sexy.
Another fire, but one I decided to get real surreal with. 
The dudes who did the work had some fun toys. This one would mulch small trees down to the ground and into wood chips. 
House rose plant is doing well. I cut back the black walnut still trying to grow from its stump.
And I guess that concludes a bunch of photographs from 2022 thus far. While I have almost no hope for a successful or productive garden this year, I am still excited about summer. Though I must admit I'm finding myself seeking shade more often than seeking to soak up sun. I haven't gone on as many walks around the property in the last few months as I should, but I don't have any particularly good excuse. Well, for a couple of weeks one of my knees decided it was no longer happy being a functioning knee, so that may be part of the problem. But now it mostly is a regular knee again, so I should get motivated and get walking! Will I? Probably! But not as much as I should! Huzzah!