April 2017

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Like much of the East Coast, we are under a winter storm warning for tomorrow. Our supervisory union is already dismissing early tomorrow, to avoid the brunt of the blizzard-like conditions in the afternoon. We've already used four snow days this year, and people are starting to wig out over how late into the summer students will go to school. (It's a normal date to start summer vacation in Maryland, so it doesn't feel onerous to me.) I think the SU is trying to avoid using another snow day tomorrow when there is already a good chance that schools will be closed Wednesday.

As night fell, I schlepped the compost bucket down to the bin behind the barn. I have to admit that this is chore that I actively neglect because it's quite a slog in the snow, and prying open the partly frozen compost bin isn't fun either. But I knew that with two feet of snow on the ground, I'd want to do it even less. The sky was a flat white and the air utterly still, like the Earth was holding its breath. It was actually eerie how quiet it was and the way the trees stood like they were painted on the sky.

Bobby and I also hauled up seven bags of pellets from the barn. (Next year, we will clear out the shed alongside our house enough to hold all of our pellets; our yard is just steep enough to make carrying bags of pellets up from the barn a real pain in the ass, made worse when the snow is deep, which it is not right now.)

On a completely different note, we started our first indoor seeds a week ago and came home today to the first frail tomato stem curling out of the soil. We also ordered chicks on Saturday: ten pullets, five broilers, and three turkeys. Spring is taking hold, no matter how tenuous, blizzard notwithstanding.

Thingsish

Mar. 1st, 2015 08:20 pm
dawn_felagund: Lamppost in the winter snow. (winter lamppost)
It is presently icing/sleeting outside and has been for now going on 12 hours. Schools are already delayed two hours tomorrow morning with "morning reevaluation," which means that they're at least considering closing altogether. I can always use a snow day; I always have stuff to do. I finished the short article based on my Mythmoot presentation and turned it in yesterday; today was the SWG newsletter; tomorrow could be revising and turning in my article on the SWG for the Signum University Eagle. That would put me in a really good place. So ... *crosses fingers*

It's March One, so ... B2MeM! I think probably everyone here who is Tolkienish has heard about it, but if you have not, check it out. It's a great event this year, which I can say without feeling like I'm tooting my own horn since I am not running it this year and had almost nothing to do with planning it: a marketplace format, where participants "sell" and "buy" prompts using imaginary coin. There are many, many excellent prompts. As a mod, I get an email for every comment left on mod posts, and I was reading all of the prompts as they came in but stopped because I was wanting to buy everything that came in.

I went to register for my last class before the thesis (Romantic and Industrial Revolutions) on Friday, and it doesn't start till April, so I have another month off from for-credit coursework. This means that I should be able to get a big jump on my reading. It will probably mean that I dick around with B2MeM, thesis research, and other fannish things instead. I should at least download the syllabus so that I can at least pretend I'm going to do something with it.

Because there's nothing better to do on an "ice day" than play with green, living things, I showed some love to my houseplants today, and Bobby and I started the year's tomato and pepper seeds. My succulents are all throwing off baby plants since I've been doing better with fertilizing them properly; I need to re-pot these and then find new homes for them. Otherwise I'll be like the Duggars of succulents; I already have several baby aloe plants that I was supposed to give away years ago. I just get attached and don't want to give them away.

All in all, this was a pretty dull weekend, but productive. I'd love to extend it to a third day!

Good Stuff :)

Jul. 6th, 2014 06:30 pm
dawn_felagund: (yavanna earth)
I want to apologize first to my flist for that long, uncut vacation post with pictures yesterday! (At least I didn't curse too much ...) I initially posted to DW, as I always do, to crosspost to LJ. I messed up the LJ-cut, went back to edit and fix it, and instead of editing the LJ post, DW crossposted a second copy of the entry, which meant that the first one sans LJ cut was left up with my realizing it. Sorry, y'all.

This weekend has had some remarkably good stuff, despite the fact that I'm back from vacation and staring at impending work tomorrow. (I probably wouldn't mind going back to work if we had one more day without the students, but when they give us our summer schedules and shove us out the door on the last day of school, that doesn't leave much time to plan when we walk back into the building again at the same time as the students, and there are things I will not get done because of it. I spent most of today on planning, but some things I just have to be in the building to do.)

First of all, we confirmed today that our bee swarm did indeed successfully move into the hive that Bobby hastily constructed for them, so getting stung on the nose was worth it. We now have two honeybee colonies. \0/

This is the wonderful time of the year when it is possible to find fresh and local pretty much anything you want to eat. The garden is crazy-productive this year; we front-loaded a lot of effort this year into properly preparing the soil and mulching while the plants were small, and the payoffs look like they are going to be huge. Bobby picked our first tomatoes today, and we have reached the point where we are leaving zucchini on the vine because we've picked so many. (The one bad point: We have squash bugs again this year. Ugh. Picking eggs off the plants and squooshing larvae and adults every day is not a chore I look forward to. If you've never dug around in squash leaves, they are very prickly; my arms are quite marked up right now.) Bobby harvested our garlic yesterday, and we had our biggest harvest ever. Our bramble fruits are doing ridiculously well; we harvested almost a quart of blackberries today, and Bobby has made jam with entirely our own berries for the first time ever. Everything is doing really, really well. I need to take and post pictures.

Last night, I went back to the gym after a two-week hiatus. Two weeks ago, I must have twinged my knee--I'd increased my weights on that night--and the next day, while sitting for a long time working with my leg twisted under me, I stood up to discover that my knee really hurt. I ended up missing almost a week of dance and gym, and our vacation followed immediately on the heels of it. I was not looking forward to going back last night, after two weeks of indolence and almost a week of eating horribly down the ocean. But I actually managed the same level I was doing before my two-week hiatus (600 calories in 45 minutes on the elliptical). My legs felt crazy when I was done, but I did it.
Welp, it's been a busy past few weekends, hence my relative silence here. Bobby and I have been spending most of our time outside, getting ready for planting season. Everything was crunched into April and the first few weeks of May (versus beginning in March) since we were under a blanket of snow for just about all of March. And last year, what with Bobby taking his Outdoor Emergency Care class for ski patrol and me physically unable to do much beyond moan and groan, we slacked off on things like weeding, so we have extra to do this year, since one thing weeds do very well is make more weeds and survive conditions that kills just about everything else living. (The latter attested by the number of plants we lost this winter: both blueberries, a holly bush, both rose trees, and the arborvitae, of course. We also have broadleaf evergreen shrub that is trying hard to live with some modest success after all the foliage on it dying this winter. But the dandelions are doing great! :)

Anyway, Mother's Day is the traditional planting day in central Maryland for tender plants, so true to tradition, we started to put our plants into the ground a week ago, which means that this week has been a lot of weeding, planting, fertilizing, mulching; weeding, planting, fertilizing, mulching; and so on. But everything is now in the ground and doing great.

I wish I could say the same for our bees. Bee-Talk Cut for Those Who Prefer to Avoid Bee-Talk :) )

We've also been busy socially, seeing friends on the weekend (sometimes accidentally! We went out for Indian on Friday, and I usually email our friends Tristan and Don to see if they want to meet us over there, but we decided to go so late that I didn't this time. But when we arrived, who had arrived only just shortly before us? So we got permission to combine our tables.) Last night, we hosted dinner for our parents as a belated Mother's Day dinner. We had a green salad, teriyaki chicken (asparagus quesadilla for me!), Bobby's incredible "island rice," grilled asparagus seasoned with that ubiquitous Maryland seasoning of Old Bay, and tres leche cake for dessert, topped with fresh strawberries and mango. Bobby made piña coladas and got the moms pretty soused. I was supposed to make strawberry ice cream, but every place we checked this weekend was sold out of local strawberries (Bobby had bought his for the cake earlier in the week), so I had to do vanilla instead.

We are dogsitting for our friend Dawn this weekend, so in addition to our two big dogs, we have her big black dog Duffy. And my inlaws, of course, brought their Great Pyrenees Bella, so the house was overrun with dogs. Big dogs.

More & Pictures below the Cut )
In other words, the backyard smells like poop. Presumably (hopefully?) that is because one of the neighboring farmers chose today's lovely weather for fertilizing the fields.

Yesterday, Bobby and I rode our bikes along the southern portion of the North Central Railroad trail. We rode over 14 miles (22.5 km), which sounds more impressive than it is, since the NCR trail, by virtue of being a rail trail, is pretty flat. We had never really ridden to the south before--I think we may have walked a short distance once--but found it really enjoyable, with lots of crossings of the Gunpowder River and high ridges. Bobby packed us a picnic lunch, which we ate on a grassy plot alongside the river: egg salad sandwiches on his homemade rye bread (the egg salad made delicious by the addition of his sweet pickle relish), blueberry chevre with crackers, a giant Mutsu apple that we shared, and snap pea snacks (which if you've never had are awesome). He even packed a small jug of "fruit salad": our favorite local shiraz. Good man! :D

We rode NCR about a year ago. Oh the difference a year makes. I was in such pain through the whole of it last year. Even getting on and off of my bike was hard. It hurt. Everything hurt. EVERYTHING. (I'm not exaggerating. It hurt to turn over in bed. It hurt to lay down; it hurt to move.) I constantly find myself thinking about what life was like a year ago and being so fecking grateful to be well again.

The trail, especially the southernmost part, was pretty crowded. I witnessed a head-on collision between a woman and a preteen girl; the woman was trying to pass some people walking--and the trail is not that wide!--it is as wide as would be needed for railroad tracks!--and appeared to swerve right in front of the girl. The woman messed up her bike and claimed to be fine and not upset but then implied blame of the girl by parting with a, "Just be careful next time!" while the poor, stricken girl looked at her father and insisted in a whisper, "She turned right in front of me!" I was directly behind the woman so I got to witness all of this excitement, whispered commentary included. The woman was already covered in grass, which led me to believe that was not her first fall of the day? (She'd come up silently to pass on my left at one point without signaling and startled me, so responsibility didn't seem to be a strong point.) Wow.

Today (the last day of spring break ... waaah ...) was potter-around-the-house day. Bobby is undertaking multiple masonry projects; he has already done a flagstone path in front of the house to match the tiled steps he did last year, he is expanding the front garden beds (to further our quest to have virtually no front lawn to mow; seriously, grass lawns are such a ridiculous waste of space!), and he is doing brick walls around the kitchen gardens in the back. My contributions are more meager: I turned the compost, dug the soil in half of the vegetable garden, and fertilized our newer evergreen shrubs. And I took pictures of some of the flowers in the yard. Whoopdedoo. Click the jump if you're interested.

Lots of Flowers, One of Phil )
Every few days, I think, "I should write in my journal about that!" but then never actually do. Although I'm not taking any classes right now, it's a busy time of the year in the House of Felagund, and I've been staying very loyal to my gym schedule. And I've been busy at work, with a large senior class this year and all of them in some form of jeopardy (usually related to HSAs), plus the after-school program. And trying to get the B2MeM ebook together. Anyway, I've been photographing things, so I'll at least share my photos and some updates will likely straggle along with those photos.

Pictures below the Cut ... )
[personal profile] village_of_geckos and her boyfriend left this morning after visiting since Monday afternoon. What a great time we had! I miss them already! Monday, we basically chilled and went to Arooga's for dinner. Tuesday was our big day: We spent the day in Gettysburg, which is about 45 minutes northwest of us, and had a firepit at night. We went through the museum, hoofed all over the battlefield and town, had dinner and beer at a local microbrewery, and climbed the tower on Culp's Hill. Last night, we had a massive cookout and crab feast with my parents. In between, we managed to solve all of the world's problems and catch up from the past three years since we saw each other last in Ireland.

I just sent off my first unit of lesson plans to my principal, so that's water under the bridge, although I'll still probably be working on materials (especially graphics, since my work laptop doesn't have Photoshop) over the next few days. I'm hoping to get ahead and stay ahead. I'd like to be able to show up at work on Monday and print out the materials for the next two weeks. How awesome that would be.

I've been "writing"--mentally, of course--quite a bit lately. Original and fanfic. I'm not quite to the point of putting anything to paper, although I'm considering just diving into the AMC prequel, t'hell with being prepared. After all, I didn't prepare at all to write AMC; might as well keep with the spirit, eh? I have a couple of chapters on the prequel from years ago. I'm trying to discipline myself into making room for my own time again. What a concept! I've backed off a bit from certain commitments I've taken on in the past few years, given up entirely on some and moved others lower on my list of priorities.

Speaking of AMC, Bobby is reading it. I am still not sure that was a good idea; it is very long, and he's still never made it all the way through The Silmarillion. I've been told it stands on its own quite well; I suppose this will be the test of that. Last I checked, he was at the end of Chapter Four and was--like most people who read AMC--liking Carnistir the best. He told me that he liked it, but he would.

I have registered for my fall grad school classes. I'm starting later this year, which I hope will help and give me a chance to get lesson plans and materials created well in advance of when they're needed. I'm taking two classes: Antiquity and the Middle Ages, and the History of Religion. The first class is an eight-weeker; another good thing, as I'll only have one class for half of the semester and will still earn six credits.

Okay, now for some random pictures, mostly butterflies, a coupla sunflowers, and one random Phil.

Pictures of Stuff )
Pictures and account from the ocean are forthcoming! Tomorrow, I hope.

The first of the summer harvest is coming in. We got our first eggplant (from a variety of plant called Littlefingers--so, naturally, we've named the plant Petyr Baelish), lots of peas, and seemingly endless greens. The first tomatoes and peppers are getting ready to ripen, the popcorn's getting tall, and we have our first female squash blossom.

And we have beets.

Bobby made a separate root vegetable garden this year. We haven't grown beets in the past for the simple reason of not having enough room for them when we have several good local sources for them. This year, we had the room so ...

Now we have beets.

Seriously, the one looks like those giant turnips you used to throw at the enemies in Mario Bros. 2 for the NES. Only it's a beet, of course.

I've no idea how a beet this large will taste. Some veggies go down in quality if they get too big. Luckily, our harvest included plenty of normal-sized beets as well.

Bobby posted these pictures on Facebook too, where he notes that these were grown organically, so no chemical fertilizers: just a springtime application of blood meal, compost, and grass clipping mulch.

Crazy-Big Beets! )
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Back when we had The Great Flood this past fall, my study became one of the places where things were put because there was nowhere else to put them. Our house is not huge--just big enough for the two of us--and losing the basement meant losing half of our living space, so we had stuff crammed everywhere. The study is already repurposed occasionally for things like storing tender potted plants in the winter and starting seeds in the spring (Bobby moved this setup to the basement this spring, thank goodness) so that makes things more chaotic. And it's not exactly as though I've had founts of free time this winter to get things in order. Plus--I have to give credit where it's due--I'm not exactly a neat person; I'm prone to collecting a dozen books for a project I'm researching and scattering them around myself and never bothering to put them back when I'm done with them, even if "back" is just on the shelf over my desk. Minute, multi-colored trees also shudder at the sound of my name because the organization of my life is almost entirely predicated on colorful sticky notes. I don't throw these away either when I'm done with them, so they litter the tops of the books piled around me.

Last week, I came into the study to turn on the computer, and I heard a creaking-groaning sound from the bookshelf in the corner and looked over to discover that it was buckling! It was just a cheap thing from Target and held some pretty heavy volumes--a lot of textbooks and literature anthologies--and it was buckling to one side and would have been a disaster, had it actually collapsed, given the mess in the study plus the addition of a couple hundred ponderous books. Bobby and I, thankfully, managed to get all the books off on time and stacked in what few square feet of floor space remained.

This Saturday, we tackled cleaning the study. It was not only disorganized but quite dirty: two humans, two hairy dogs, and a woodstove make quite a dirty mess. Bobby said he was starting to worry that it was becoming a health hazard. It took us most of the afternoon, but we got it cleared out and cleaned out. I found stuff like our power converter that we couldn't find when we looked for it before our trip to England. There are actually cleared surfaces just begging to be covered with BOOKS! and enough floor that I could do a pretty elaborate dance if I wanted to. I think this was the last frontier after The Great Flood, and it is now conquered. I still need to tackle my file drawer, but that task pre-dated The Great Flood.

Right now, I so love my tidy, unchaotic study that I can't imagine letting it get messy again, but I always say that. Maybe I can hold out this time. Maybe I'll reread this post occasionally as a reminder to take a few minutes each week to at least recycle/compost old papers and put away the books I've taken down from the shelves.

Meanwhile, it is that wonderful time of the year for fresh, local--including homegrown--food. We have lettuces, carrots, and green onions from our garden. For the first time ever, our peach and apple trees look like they're going to produce fruit (although probably too small to be edible, since the apple tree only grew taller than me last year and the peach tree still only comes to shoulder-height); both have the most adorable tiny fruits growing on them. Bobby's been outdoing himself in terms of meals; last night, he made garlic almond asparagus and roasted root veggies that included Jerusalem artichokes, carrots from the garden, and onions. Then he made chocolate-iced brownies for a snack during Game of Thrones. *dies from bliss* We're planting Jerusalem artichokes this year for the first time, as well as adding tarragon and cumin to the herb garden.
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In the ever-unfolding garden adventures in the House of Felagund, this afternoon, I was outside cutting herbs to make croutons when I noticed some very suspicious-looking bugs congregating on a cucumber. Our cucumber plant is all but dead; I'm not sure what killed it, but since we have both squash bugs and cucumber beetles in the garden right now, there are plenty of suspects. Anyway, creepy-looking bugs + dead plant = probably not good.

I went into the house and brought out a glass jar and collected the bugs in it so that I could show Bobby and positively identify them.

They are very, very ugly. They have bright red bodies and spindly black legs. They have a proboscis that tucks under their body and, in some cases, is longer than their body. Given that they resemble squash bugs--but red--and have a long sucker attachment, I figured I had the cucumber culprit nailed and that the chickens would be enjoyed some red creepy-looking bugs tonight.

But I was wrong! So wrong! My investigations tonight revealed that they are wheel bug larvae: not only harmless but actually beneficial insects because they kill all sorts of bad things in the garden. (No word on whether or not squash bugs are among their victims.) Here they are on the University of Florida's entomology website.

While scouting the garden for squash bugs tonight, I found a few more of the wheel bugs. Suspecting them to be pests, I killed them. I now feel very badly about that. :( Needless to say, my dozen or so jarred wheel bug larvae are now enjoying their freedom in the garden, on the squash plant where we've had the biggest squash bug problem. >:^)
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Cut Because Most People Could Give a Hoot about Squash Bugs )