Monday, November 26, 2012

Adventures in Painting

Paint some closer mid-ground grasses (avoiding the challenging front ones).

Paint the edges black to clean them up (avoiding the challenging front grasses).

Eat some potato chips I found hiding on the front counter (avoiding the challenging front grasses).

Suck it up and start painting the challenging grasses.

Paint, paint, paint... no, that's not right.

Paint, paint, paint... no, that's not working either.

Paint, paint, paint... AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!!!!! PAINT! WHY WON'T YOU DO WHAT I WANT YOU TOO?!?!???? AAAaaaa PAINT aaaa JAB aaaa SCRAPE aa SCRAPE aaaaaa PAINT aaaa SCRAPE aaaaaaaa.......... um.... hm... *maybe* that's not horrible.


I'm undecided on the success of tonight's efforts. I still need to work on those front grasses, plus that lonely patch of taller grass in the mid-ground.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Bird Feeder

I got a bird feeder on Freecycle last week, and picked up some black oil sunflower seeds to fill it the same night. Peeking at it in the morning, I noticed some chickadees checking it out once, but they didn't fully land on it. However, the seeds *were* going down, so it must have been making something happy. (The seeds fall through a bit, but there were more gone from the feeder than could be explained by what I saw below.)

I was chatting with my neighbour yesterday, and he commented that a squirrel was eating my seeds.
Yup. Apparently (s)he is. Cute little red guy!

My neighbour wasn't sure if I was the type that would get upset by squirrels eating my seeds. Given that he doesn't clear it out in an hour like the squirrels in NC did (you can see it's only gone down a bit since Wednesday when I hung it up), I don't think I'm bothered. Squirrels need to eat too, and are adorable. I do hope the birds get some too, though!

The only seed the store had was Scotts... I sure hope it isn't the stuff with the toxic chemicals. :( (It did have a warning not to feed to pets, which concerns me.) If I see organic or other brands, I'll pick up those when I see them to use in the future.

Monday, November 19, 2012


Tonight at art I continued working on my painting:
I worked on the grasses in the background, the reeds in the mid-ground, and added some bare, wispy purple-brown trees. And showed a club member how to do stuff (including burning photos onto CDs) on his laptop. I didn't write down the instructions, though, so if he doesn't play around, he won't remember and I'll have to teach him again. That's okay, though. I don't mind.

When I paint the egret, I'm going to move it up a bit so that it's in front of the dark green trees.

I still need to do some more on the reeds in the mid-ground, and add the ones in the foreground. Plus the egret, of course. I might be able to finish next painting night.

As a reminder, this is the photo that is the inspiration for this painting:

Sunday, November 11, 2012

It Snowed

Okay, so I guess you *can* tell that I shovelled last night:
...but only in a "technicality" kind of way.

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas:
Too bad I don't have my Christmas lights up. (Dad said I could have the ones that were left behind in the porch.)

Several observations:
1. Gardening is done for the year. (Whether I want it to be or not.)
2. Dad's junk looks prettier covered with snow.
3. Looks like I won't have to start paying for the place until at least spring.

The snow weighed down the branches:
I had had all the branches trimmed so that I could walk underneath. I knocked off as much snow as I could.

Looks like I'm not going to be driving anywhere for a bit:
...since even if I shovel the car out, I'd probably have to shovel the back lane too, since the guy across the lane tossed a bunch of his snow over the fence and onto the lane. There's a limit to what I can force my car through.

I wonder if I'll be going to art tomorrow night? (I have too much stuff to lug on the bus.)

Silly dictionary... I had to teach it how to spell both plowed (as in "I can't go to art unless the back lane gets plowed", which I used in an e-mail) and shovelled, used here. *sigh* Must be created by a non-farming city bunch living where it's too warm for snow.

The chickadees in the back yard are adorable. When I stopped to watch them, one flew to a branch about two feet (less?) from my nose and checked me out! I didn't get any photos, because reaching into my pocket made them fly away. They're also checking out the bird house! (I saw at least two stick their heads in, but neither went fully in.) Perhaps they can also use it to weather out some nasty storms. (I sure hope the wasp spray residue is gone! It was back in August that it got sprayed... next summer, after the birds move out, I think I'll bag it from August until snow hits, just so the wasps don't decide to *start* nesting in it.)

Monday, November 05, 2012

Update: Yard & Art

All of the non-iris perennials are now in dirt, and so have a hope of surviving the winter:
I got a bunch of the bulbs planted too, but have *lots* more. (I planted some back here, and some in the front garden around the peony.) I was tempted to toss the bulbs where I dug to expose the tree roots and just scrape the soil back in place, but I couldn't stand the thought of going *backwards*.

Ahhh, much better:
No more perennials here, swept, plus shifted dad's junk elsewhere. I need to wash the table (I think dad's leaving it, and it's useful), but still, a vast improvement.

I turned the leaf pile (then added the three piles from the front, but after I took the photo), trimmed some low-hanging branches from the spruce (I found a number of pine needles in my hair on Saturday), and trimmed the shrubby thing that I've decided to leave where it is. (It's pretty shaded there for vegetables, plus there's probably lots of roots from the spruce tree.)

I put up the birdhouse:
(Hopefully the wasp spray residue won't cause the birds any problems... does anyone know anything about that?)

All this, plus I went to art tonight, and worked some more on my painting:

House (Garden) Update: Saturday

After sleeping late, I spent most of Saturday in the garden. (Thankfully the ground hasn't frozen yet.)

I started off by raking leaves:
(Only one pile got moved to the back, I still need to do the other three.) And more leaves:
(This also had a similarly sized pile to the front, but I took the photo after adding the pile to the compost.) Plus I raked some leaves in the back lane, but that raking I did after dark. (I also need to clean up those piles.)

It occurred to me the broken concrete slabs could be useful:
The sidewalk is wonky and somewhat wobbly, but functional. It'll do for now. (Dad had left the slabs behind because I said they'd be useful for making a base for my water barrels, but all except one were broken into pieces smaller than the base of my water barrels. *sigh* I had made the comment previously when there were more slabs, not all of which were broken. I'm not sure if these were broken when he left them, or if they broke when they were sitting stacked.)

I added more leaves and the frozen jack-o-lanterns to the compost bin. I tried braking up the pumpkins by smashing them on the slabs, but frozen pumpkins are tough buggers. So I decided to hack at them with my hoe:
I felt kind of like an axe murderer.

I cleaned out the birdhouse in preparation for putting it back up. Looks like there was actually a bird nesting in it previously!
(It had been up a while ago at my mom's, then in the garage for a bit, then stuck in the garden but too low... then this fall the wasps decided to build a nest in it. Once I remember to fetch the right size screws from the workshop, it'll go up in my yard, so that it'll be ready when the birds come checking things out in the spring!)

I also swept up some of the areas of the patio. (Observation: damp dirt is hard to sweep.) The parts without dad's junk are looking pretty awesome right now. :)

Then, as it started to get dark, I started doing what I had gone out to do: plant perennials. It was *very* dark by the time I stopped, but I managed to plant ten perennials (including two clumps of irises from the trash can full of them and the day lily). Most got planted in a "holding" spot in what will one day be a vegetable garden:
The day lily and two iris clumps got planted over by the trees:

Perennials still waiting to be planted:
Six, plus tons of irises, and lots of bulbs (mostly tulips, some asiatic lilies, and there might be some daffodils in there too).

Sunday was spent shopping (bra, Christmas, etc) plus dinner with the family. I have Monday off (more banked time), and so will be back out there again. I *will* get those perennials planted!!! (And then I'll switch to "inside the house" jobs next weekend.)

Wheelbarrow Adventures

It seems my wheelbarrow was getting bored with life around here, and it decided to go on an adventure. I was oblivious enough that I didn't notice until it came back on Saturday. I was quite surprised to come around the corner of the house and find it on the front lawn, instead of inside the porch where I had left it.

I could tell that someone had used it, as it had different coloured dirt inside it, plus the sticker on the bottom was now mostly missing:
(I hadn't moved anything white and powdery in it.)

It also came with the following note taped to the handle:
Sorry about the mix up. A friend grabbed your wheel barrow by mistake. I hope it wasn't too much trouble/inconvenience - just pieced the story together today. Thanks again.
- Matt
Please accept this small apology. $20.
The note was wrapped around a business card and a $20 bill.

It's rather shocking to discover your practically-brand-new wheelbarrow had been missing (thinking back, I recall looking at things on my way through the porch that should have been *behind* the wheelbarrow), but no real harm was done, and it was back by the time I needed it again.

I decided to donate the $20 to the neighbourhood group that bands the elms in the neighbourhood.

Why Not?

When my uncle was over, we looked through a few of the boxes he had given me, to see if his gloves had ended up in them. We didn't find the gloves. I did discover, though, that there was one of those jars of paint that paint stores sell to let you try out a colour. I suspect my uncle had bought it to use as touch-up paint at the condo he had been renting. I had no idea what I'd do with it.

Thursday night, as I was getting ready for bed, I got a nosebleed. While waiting for the nosebleed to finish, I decided to slap the paint on the wall of the spare bedroom. I figured "why not?", since I was having trouble deciding which colour to paint it. It's last paint job had been a purple so pale that it played tricks with your eyes. The sample jar was what I would call "apartment cream"... as in the colour that landlords use when they get tired of white. I figured it might give me a better background to decide what paint chip I liked best. (Or, if I decided I liked it, I could use the info on the top to buy more.) I was rather impressed how far I managed to paint with that cup full. I didn't bother with a roller, but just used my brush.

In this photo you can see some paint chips I'm considering, a painting by my uncle that I'm thinking of using for inspiration for the room, the 70s carpet that will be staying for now, the bedding that will be on the bed (given to me by mom and Bob, who upgraded to a queen sized bed from a double bed, and so now can't use it), the headboard for the bed, and a lamp with shade that will also be in the room.

I think I managed to do about half a wall! (I had to move the bed in order to use up the paint.) The paint colour isn't bad... I'm thinking of going a touch darker, to get a better contrast with the white trim. It has been very helpful, though.


I managed to carve three jack-o-lanterns for Halloween, although the kids started coming around before I managed to finish them all:
I had hoped to be more adventuresome, but, due to lack of time (and the fact that the skinniest knife I had was still rather unwieldy), I ended up going relatively traditional. Oh well... fun carving, seeds for toasting, and slime for the compost heap.

Annoying: the coating on one of my cookie sheets stuck to the pumpkin seeds, so that batch is half-ruined. (I'm eating them myself, examining each before I eat it. The good batch I took in to work to share.)

Also on Halloween: my uncle and his fiancee came over. I showed her two paintings I had forgotten to show her before... and they ended up buying them before the night was over. I'm back to not owning any of my own silk paintings, besides the one piece I did when I was learning silk painting, but it uses the design that came with the kit. Time to make another silk painting, I think!

Last Weekend, Part 3: Sunday at the Art Show

I spent Sunday at the art show with my mom, helping her in her booth. (Well, when I wasn't wandering around looking at all the art, that is.)

I didn't take many photos on Sunday, but did get a photo of this great sweater:

I passed the sign for the men's washroom on the way to the break room:
How cool! Much better than the "it's a guy because it isn't wearing a triangular skirt" sign! After seeing this, I *had* to find the ladies washroom. I was *very* disappointed to find that the ladies sign wasn't nearly so cool:
Maybe the ladies sign had been stolen?

I bought a piece of art at the show... a great little muskox carving:
He's now gracing my mantle.

House (Garden) Update: Last Weekend, Part 2

Seeing the snow on the ground really brought home how much more I would have liked to have done before winter hit.

How the yard and garden looked last Saturday:

I started to shovel this, but then decided that sweeping was more appropriate. There was some ice underneath. I chipped away a bit, and then decided I needed to get grit or salt for the winter, to avoid potential lawsuits.

The sour cherry finally decided it was time to drop its leaves:

*sigh*... I wanted to divide the perennials in this garden... move some to the back, and spread these out a bit. They're too crowded:
Or, if not that, at least clean up the old growth so that I don't have to do it when it's all moldy in the spring.

Another spot that needs the tops chopped off:
Plus dividing, digging up the weed roots, etc.

The plum had also finally dropped its leaves, however, it did it *before* (or during?) the snow:

Perennials that need planting:

Dang tree where I want to put the perennials, still standing:
(I've been busy.)

Blackberries that need training, plus a weedy area I need to deal with:

Trash can full of irises, plus a day lily from the front garden, just plopped on *top* of the ground.
(I've got enough so that if this one doesn't survive, it's not the end of the world. I had been planning to plant it behind the fence in the back lane, until I discovered there was only an inch of dirt there before I hit a concrete block... and decided to leave the concrete block where it was.)

The "back forty" (I think I picked up calling it that from Crazy Aunt Purl) that needs to be worked into a proper vegetable garden bed:

Oooo... cool stuff:
The compost bin has dropped a foot. Not sure if that's just settling, or if there's composing going on. (Hoping for the latter, but it may be the former.) After this photo, I stirred it and added more leaves. It dropped another foot since then, and so it got another stir, plus leaves and jack-o-lantern pieces. But I'm getting ahead of myself.

What did I end up accomplishing last Saturday?

I raked the leaves in the front lawn:
(Raking leaves on snow is odd.) I didn't try to do a really good job, just went for the areas that had more leaves... I wasn't interested in clearing all the snow, after all. ;)

I pruned the plum tree:
I cut off the really low branch that bothered me, trimmed any branches I found that were crossing or broken, plus some that were too high up.

I also shifted some concrete blocks that were annoying because they made my parking spot shorter:
(They're on both the left and right sides of this photo... this is the "after" shot, taken the next day because it had gotten too dark for decent photos. They had been immediately in front of my car's bumper, stacked just tall enough that the bottom of my bumper would hit them.)

I stuck my garden lights in random locations where the ground was soft:
(I'll spread them out and put them in better places next year... for now, they're not cluttering up the inside of the house.)

And, after it was dark (doh!), I got three perennials planted:

There was no gardening on Sunday... I helped mom at her art show that day.

House (Garden) Update: Last Weekend

A week ago Friday I was somewhat concerned about how gardening was going to work out that weekend, given that my yard looked like this on Friday morning:

Saturday morning, I needed to run an errand before I started gardening: I needed to fetch my bank card from the bank whose ATM I left it in the weekend prior... dang thing was probably the farthest possible branch from my home. (It was, however, convenient on my way home from the retreat.) And no, they wouldn't let my mom pick it up for me, despite the fact that she would be driving past it nearly every day that week. *sigh*

On my way home, I stopped in at the Old House Revival Company to look for a cover for a cold air return in my house. The original cast iron cover had broken at some point, and my dad had replaced it with three plastic ones:
These ones did *not* feel like they should be stood on, particularly the one in the middle. In preparation for shopping, in addition to taking measurements, I also took photos of the other covers in the house. Plain one in the front entryway:
Another one in the living room:
(Yes, that's an electrical outlet down there, no I don't know why it's there.) Third floor cover:
(Yes, all of these are slightly out of focus... my apologies. Low light, and I had switched off "high ISO" on the recommendation of someone else. "high ISO" is now back on.)

I found one that was either the right size or a smidge small, but it was cracked in several places and missing a corner, plus was quite rusty. There were several that were a smidge too big, with this one being the smallest and best condition:
Success! Not only that, but I found some *really* pretty covers for the wall cold air returns that have been swallowing my belongings ever since I was a child:
(Yeah, I need to remove the bits of paint, but other than that they're in perfect condition.) I spent a small fortune on these three covers, but I *like* them, they're appropriate for the house, functional, and not badly priced compared to some of the prices I've seen on the web. (Plus, this way there's no shipping of a heavy metal object!)

Up next: "before" photos.