Thursday, July 31, 2014

It's hot again

We're in the middle of another hot spell. It's been over 95 for what seems like a thousand years. Feh. Isabella went home, so it's just us two humans, six dogs, six rabbits, five big animals, three chickens and a festoon of guineas.

It's too hot to sit at the computer. I may go sit in the kiddie pool.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

A self-indulgent weekend

I got absolutely nothing done around the place this weekend. It was great. My back is wrecked, the hall is full of boxes and the garden is dry.

We spent Saturday at Part 2 of the estate sale. Awesome, it was. We came home with old books and patterns, fabric and lace, nails and hardware and cool rusty bits. C. scored this big piece of silk in a bright Art Deco pattern.

I spent Sunday organizing and tidying the studio. On Monday I took my lovely empty worktable and messed it all up with wooden boxes and metal bits and red things, and actually started an assemblage. It felt great. It isn't done and I'm not sure I like it, but it's a start. What great fun.

And Isabella is here for the week, while her people are vacationing in Montana. What a sweet dog.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

What is eating our garden?

What the hell! Are small children creeping into the garden and stealing green tomatoes?

Apparently it's deer. They have a flat plate instead of teeth on top, but nice little teeth on the bottom, and this is the bite print of some deer's bottom jaw.

Friday, July 25, 2014

We have power!

And water!

We've been without both since freak wind storm blew through Wednesday afternoon, sending power poles and huge pine trees falling and snapping in two. Highway 2 was closed down, trailers in the big mobile home park at Riverside were smashed and bisected, metal roofing was ripped and curled upward. The storm hit hard – howling wind, whipping trees, big fat hail – and then silence. It had moved on to the next unlucky spot. Weird. Like a tornado, except that we don't have tornados here. A faux 'nado, then.

We were lucky and suffered no damage. Our big brick building squats on the lee side of a gentle hill. So we hauled water in the car and read by flashlight and kerosene lamp. I hauled our frozen food to town and Em's empty freezer. I blacked vegetables and boiled water on the propane grill. The neighborhood was full of the purr of generators and chainsaws.

It is wonderful to have our conveniences back, though. Running water, flushing water, hot water. The pink electric stove from 1959. Netflix on the TV. The internet!

If Part 2 of that amazing estate sale wasn't set for tomorrow, I'd stay home and surf and cook and bake and shower and flush all day.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Catching up

Well, the weather finally cooled off a bit. Saturday we went to a brilliant estate sale run by our favorite estate-sale people, and we staggered home five hours later, tired and grubby, with some amazing things and four hammers. (The way I lose tools, I need four more hammers.) The car was crammed full, and our new-to-us 1950s lawn chaise (that folds down into a double bed) was strapped on top. Some wag mentioned The Beverly Hillbillies, but that's not at all appropriate. Granny was not riding on the lawn chair on the roof. She was driving.

I could post photos of our finds, like the tin ceiling tiles or the perfect 10-gallon crock, but then you'd hate me because I have such cool stuff.

Sunday we unloaded the car and played with our new things. And tended the garden and waited on the many animals. We had deer damage in the garden again – about half of the pole beans were gnawed off and the non-heading broccoli might as well be called non-leafing broccoli, as only stalks are left. I upped the trailer-park quotient in the garden-fence department, adding more cord and plastic flags, and scattering old printing plates on the paths. They're thin aluminum, and make a lot of noise when stepped on. It isn't pretty, but I don't care.

Monday I had to work, and came home tired. And unloaded the last of the stuff in the car.

Today after work I bumped out the fence in the big-animal pasture. C. has been bringing them all kinds of garden greens and tasty weeds, but the goats wanted more. I could tell because Mo escaped twice and Pants got his horned head stuck in the fence twice. Pants cries when it happens, and the sheep come find me and tell me about it ("Bleahhhhh. Muhhhhhhhh.") I rush out and finagle his big old head and horns and poor soft throat back through the hole, and he looks at me for a while with his creepy yellow slit eyes and then clops casually off, pretending nothing happened. It's scary, though – if a coyote or loose dog found him first it would be grisly.

So now they have plenty to eat and new ground to explore, and unless the goats find a weak spot in the new fence, they'll be good for a while. There is even a nice big mossy rock to play King of the Hill on.

C. made the dogs something green for dinner, and I sampled it and liked it and shared it with them. It was sort of a quiche or pilaf thing made of greens and eggs and rice and such, baked in the microwave. I had ketchup on mine.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

The ides of July

The garden is producing lots of food these days. C. picks huge bowls of greens for the rabbits twice a day, and keeps kale and such rotating through the dehydrators for winter "hay." She makes a huge salad for people everyday, too. (I have a little. Crunch, crunch. Not crazy about salad.) We've had more spuds, some good-sized and weirdly knobby. More snap peas are going into the freezer, and we shelled a bunch of regular peas last night. The tomato plants are full of green fruit, and the beans are blooming furiously. There's garlic drying somewhere. C. is a fine gardener.

The heat wave is supposed to ease off tomorrow. Looking forward to it.

There are a bunch of forest fires near Leavenworth, in central Washington, and the skies here are grey and smokey. Air quality has gone down to "unhealthy," so I'm staying inside. I've got five boxes of books. I'll pick peas tomorrow, when the sky clears.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Hot hot hot

 Em came up yesterday to take C. huckleberrying. "Our" spot was pretty picked out, but they found enough for a pie. I'm looking forward to that pie.

I was feeling sorry for the chickens, who have been confined to their house and yard since the garden went in. (We let the guineas out to forage in the evenings, but the chickens are too destructive.) Their house is hot, and their yard is pretty bare. So I took some fencing and grafted a 4x10-foot shady, grassy space onto the run. They like it and hang out there. I can move it around to fresh grass, too. I'm hoping it's located on a major grasshopper trail.

Azul was hot, too, so Em turned the hose on him. He loved that, and turned around so she could get all sides. Then he sat in a puddle.

It's miserably hot. I tied up some tomatoes, then came in and cooled off. Then put the soaker hoses around the rows, and came in and cooled off.  Good thing we have five new boxes of books.

Friday, July 11, 2014

More books

The Friends of the Deer Park Library had one of their summer book sales, and we were there. Great folks, great deal. They get donations of all kinds of books, fill up a boat-storage place, and sell them for a donation. We donated two boxes of books, and took away five boxes of new fiction (including science fiction and mystery), craft and how-to books and some Fine Gardening magazines. They sort the books out on big tables by subject matter, and there is usually a pleasant fellow to help load. One customer brought a wagon to haul his books; I'm going to do that next time.

It's a great way to discover new (to me) writers like Will Self and Alexander McCall Smith and Milton Burton, and keep up with familiar ones. The only downside (other than needing to build more bookshelves) is that the authors don't get any of our money. Just like using the library, I suppose.

It's been hot all week here, and is supposed to continue so (100 degrees forecast for Sunday!). I plan to read through the middle of the each day of my four-day weekend. And maybe nap. Anything but get sunstroke in the garden.

The moon is big and yellow, and a breeze is blowing from the dairy farm over the hill.

Thank you for this award

Our garden has a toad. What an honor. I am proud. C. found him while grubbing for grubs. He was making little peep noises, then dug into the dirt to hide. He's just about impossible to spot unless he puts his eye bumps up – looks just like a lumpy rock, of which we have plenty. He's about four inches across, a nice big juvenile Western male toad, I think.

We put a saucer of water out, in case he wants a drink or a bath or to skip tiny stones.

You know you've got a good garden when you get a toad.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Grubfest 2014

For the chickens, anyway. C. found hundreds more beetle grubs today in the upper garden bed and offered them to the chickens. The 13 birds scarfed over a quart of them.


C. found a nest of these grubs in a garden bed. These are tenlined June beetle larva, and they spend two to four years feeding on plant roots before becoming adult beetles.

There's a whole litter of them in one spot.

This is the bug they become.

The adults do little damage and are kind of cool, flying at lights at night and hissing at people. But the grubs are destructive so they'll go to the chickens. Sorry.

The other infestation we discovered yesterday is cheatgrass, or drooping brome grass. It's this reddish, loose-headed grass that is a plague on the West. We hate it because the sharp seed heads work their way into the flesh of the dogs. We went out to pull the little patch C. had found, and stuff it carefully into bags to burn. That's when we saw this: another patch. And another. It's all through the orchard, gone to seed, pointy and unpleasant, and too far along to stop. I guess we'll try to control it by mowing next spring before the seeds mature.

C. cut some lavender to dry.

And, below left, Jazz, the barbarian princess, has redone her hair into the yeti scraggle she favors. C. put a binder clip in so she could actually see and eat. Disreputable, I know. Right, her sweet face that she doesn't want anyone to see.

Saturday, July 5, 2014

July weekend

Thursday, the third. We had our first full meal out of the garden - creamed shelled and snap peas, and new potatoes. Delicious. And a crispy salad with homemade croutons.

Two of the guinea hens are setting on nests. They've gotten brutal about defending those two eggs – I have a couple of holes in my right arm from pecks from the puffed-up enraged creatures. They puff their feathers out and hold their wings out and come right at me, as intense and creepy as Gary Oldman in Dracula. (Only smaller, and polka-dotted.)

Friday, the fourth. I moved fencing a bit and let the big animals work on the grass and knapweed in a corner of the orchard. Hauled four loads of bedding from the barn to the garden for mulch. Em and Richard came up and fed us salmon and cheesecake in honor of my 56th birthday. Then they tied tomato plants and hauled sawdust for the dog yard. We know how to party around here. There were fireworks, I think, over toward Reflection Lake, but we couldn't see anything over the trees.

KiSong behind the tiger saw, cutting out the 2x4s and sheetrock that make up the
insulated inner wall added by a remodeler about a decade ago. 

Saturday. Worked on my studio window. KiSong came up and helped cut the inner wall out, exposing the hugeness of the opening. Eight feet tall, in a room with 12-foot-ceilings!We're doing the north end of the window, leaving the other half for later this summer so I'll have half a studio to work in right away. I worked on getting the remaining windows ready to install – replaced four panes and puttied 10. Messy damn job. Earl kept trying to sneak in and eat the dabs of excess window putty off the floor.

Early still has a rash inside his legs. We think it's from running around in the knapweed in the fields. We gave him another bath in the kiddie pool out by the guinea yard.

Sunday. Plan to get the windows in and do a whole lot of clean up. And move a little fencing...