Friday, May 28, 2010

running late

I keep driving past homes with hydrangeas, gardenias, day lilies, crepe myrtles and other summer blooms.  But my yard is way behind schedule. I waited patiently for azaleas this year, after most others in the area had put out a show.  My roses usually bloom by Mother's Day, and the Knock Out rose made it, barely, but the old fashions by my front door were almost three weeks late.  
My day lilies have buds, my gardenia looks happy next to the compost pile and it has buds, (although I seem to have chosen a photograph with chewed up leaves.  Ignore that.) But where are the blooms? I don't remember having a color-lull in May ever before.  Right now the small roses by the front door are about all the color interest there is in my yard. 

I went outdoors just now to take photos of all the buds, and the lack of flowers in my gardens.  And, I lie.  There isn't much popping, but there is a lot there.

I found hydrangeas of all types, all still small bushes and therefore hidden behind azaleas and tea laurel.  (I'm having trouble turning pictures sideways here, so if these disorient you, it isn't your fault.  Blogger has some issues with formatting.) The first one, above, has never bloomed before.  I'm not sure if the color will punch it up to be more blue when it finishes opening, or if it will remain more of a light lavender. 

This next is an oakleaf hydrangea, then a lace cap.  Four types of hydrangeas I'd all but forgotten I owned!  I remember thinking that it felt odd to plant them in the depths of the front woodlands, but I also knew they could be tall bushes someday.  I'll prune a few other plants to let them shine through next spring.
After the hydrangeas, I took a peek at the sidewalk garden area.  Lots of buds.  I always have lots of purple coneflowers, but I took special care last year to catch the seeds of coneflowers, black eyed susans and shasta daisies.  I sprinkled them around the sidewalk area in hopes of increasing the number of plants this spring. I'm optimistic about the outcome. 

Between plants are the ground covers purple heart and lamb's ear.  I've also put out a coleus that coordinates nicely.  Purple, gold and white, up by the sidewalk and hopefully between the driveways.  That area needs help still.  There is nothing to photograph there yet.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

what is it?

Have I shown this before?  We found it in our backyard, years ago, with privet growing through it, making it impossible to remove.  We went on a privet rampage and the stump has finally rotted and released it's prey.  

We like it but we don't know what the item is.  Any ideas?  I've leaned it against the mailbox, one piece on each side.  My daylilies are growing around it now.

And, here is the *completed* wall!  Landscaping which requires no maintenance will follow.  I'll need to dig up many more natives from generous friends.  The twenty year old, strong and hard working neighbor has no summer job right now.  He is eager for money and worked two days to help me finish.  Now he's asking for more work and I'm complying.  The ivy at the top of the hill must go.  If we can get rid of it at the flat top, the playset could go up there and free up some yard.  Plus, the playset is the view out my dining room window, which isn't the best.

Friday, May 21, 2010

the adventures of mr. pickl and mr. sunglass

From the most recent days of writing in the daily kindergarten journal, by Bug:

Thursday, May 20, 2010


The note came home yesterday, from the kindergarten teacher:  "Please tell your child to keep their 'Silly Bandz' at home for the next two days.  They are beginning to become quite a source of argument, distraction, etc.  They will have the whole summer to enjoy them.  Thanks."

I'm hardly surprised.  Bug has been talking about them for several months, but it has only been the past two weeks or so that he has wanted to buy his own.  Free bands from friends had been enough to satisfy him before.

"What are Silly Bandz?" you ask. I should pause here to explain.  They are one of those things that make everyone say, "why didn't I invent this?"  Basically, they are rubber bands.  They come in different shapes (dinos, vehicles, sports) and different colors and the kids wear them on their wrists and trade them with each other.  In other words, the definition of 'silly band' is "cheap plastic trendy item".

Except not cheap.  Or perhaps, cheap to make but not cheap to purchase. A month ago I asked around a bit after I had not found any at Target, and discovered that one had to buy the bands at name brand toy stores.  That was not going to happen, so I ignored the trend.  Then I started to hear about knock-off brands available more easily.  On Tuesday we drove past the store that supposedly carried them and I offered to go in and allow Bug to buy some... with his own money.

This is exactly what an allowance is for- to buy crap that your mom doesn't think you need.  Pook has never spent his allowance on these sort of trends, preferring to accumulate money he can spend on huge, expensive Lego kits.  But Bug didn't hesitate to fork out $3.20 for 12 rubber bands in the shape of vehicles.  ("No one else has vehicles so they will all want to trade with me!")  He was very excited to wear them on Wednesday for Awards Day and for his class party.  He came home with five or six swaps and felt very successful and happy.

Since he also came home with the note asking that they not bring the bands back for the remainder of the school year (all two days) and since the only value in the bands was in the trading of the bands, a process that can only be accomplished with friends at school, this essentially ends Bug's Silly Band trend.  He had one day.  I'll ask in a few weeks and we'll see if he thinks this was a waste of his money.

Monday, May 17, 2010

ready or not, here it comes

I'm hiring help on my wall.  The neighbor's college-aged son is going to come earn some cash while digging for my wall.  I have a wonderful half wall right now and I am tired.  It looks great.  I was making great progress, but it is getting hot and humid and I know the bugs are lurking and about to come out.  And school is out on Friday.  So, I am hiring help.  I assume I will still have a lot of work to do on it- leveling with gravel and sand for each block and preparing for each step up.  And I'm not even sure I'm up for that.  But, I have a half wall!  Look!

(a close up of my root solution)

I  think our family was just tired today.  Bug decided he didn't feel well enough for school this morning.  He was sniffly and coughing, probably because his lame mother hasn't gotten a prescription for the meds he needs.  But I told him to rest in bed and he wasn't able to stay put.  Then he decided he did feel well enough for school after all.  I told his teacher to call if needed.  I don't know if he's sick or not.  We had a tiring weekend.

Pook's birthday party was Saturday morning.  The boys ran around in the back yard, through the ivy paths up and down the slope.  I baked the "chocolate cake with no frosting" as requested.  Thank you, Joy the Baker for a great recipe.  We sprinkled powdered sugar on the bundt cake and served it with strawberries and whipped cream to order.  The kids slayed a dragon (pinata) and gathered up candy and Stuff.  I actually purchased a bag of something called "Pinata Mix".  All "Made in China" and all useless cr&p -mixed with candies.  And they all loved it.  (And in the fall I will gather it again and donate it to some teacher's treasure chest.  And then my children will bring it back home as rewards for good work.  And then I will gather it up....)

After the birthday party was a playoff baseball game.  Bug's team won, which means we still aren't done with baseball. (I should be more excited, I know.)  After all that the boys went to some friends for a babysitting sleepover.  Sunday we tried to take it easy, but CD and I were going out and they had my parents babysitting.  Even with an early bedtime, it is still exciting to have grandparents babysitting.  All together, they were exhausted when the alarm went off this morning.

Pook's third grade is finishing up their study of economics (yes, really, in third grade) with a "market day".  The kids are each bringing something to sell (fake money) to the other classes.  The suggestions included drawings, pom-pom crafts and bookmarks.  Pook decided to make pizza breadsticks* with our bread machine. I suspect they will sell better than the pom-pom animals.  Meanwhile, my kindergartner will be a first grader in five days.  Both kids have awards ceremonies on Thursday so it looks like I will be there most of the day.  Friday is it. 

Summer is about here.  Wall or no wall.  Ready or not.  Here it comes.

Pizza Breadsticks
makes 1.5 lb
<1 c.water (save 1/4c to see if it is needed)
3 c. flour (all purpose)
1.5 t. salt
0.5 t. sugar
1.5 T. butter
1.5 T. dry milk
1.5 t. yeast
1/4 c. fresh oregano
1/4 c. chopped pepperoni
1/4 c. spaghetti or pizza sauce (jarred)
-Let the bread machine start, on dough setting and add water or flour until the dough ball is neither crumbly nor sticky.
-When dough finishes, cut or roll into sticks, sprinkle with parmesan and bake about 25 minutes.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Happy Birthday, Pook!

Have I ever told about the first morning I was home from the hospital with Pook?  He was born on Thursday, May 10, 2001. I woke in my own bed Sunday morning to the sounds of our new baby kicking and hungry.  (Most surely I woke every few hours, but those memories are best repressed.)  After taking him from the antique cradle which was next to our bed and feeding him, I placed him between CD and I.  He fell asleep again and I did not.  Instead I gazed upon my new family.  Three of us.  I considered getting the camera, but did not have the energy to get up.  Instead I decided to take a picture with my memory.  I had given him a birthday, but that morning was Mother's Day and he had given it to me.

We had a great weekend.  We'd had 90 degree temps last week, but it cooled down for the weekend and was glorious for all the outdoor activities.  Saturday was all about baseball.  The spring baseball festival was going on, then a game, then Bug's end-of-baseball season party.  The festival is always a big deal to the kids.  Lots of jumpy things, laser tag, a climbing wall.  CD bought five raffle tickets, $1 each, and put them in paper bags next to various fun items.  I did this last year for the first time and I won both a $100 Braves game package and an hour massage!  This year was equally exciting as we had a phone message when we came home informing us that we had won a day of bowling AND a telescope.  I guess the odds are pretty good!  (And, unless you are paying expenses, I cannot accompany you to Las Vegas.)  We then headed over to the swim party. The team got their tropheys (it's all about the trophy) and ate hot dogs and cake.  They swam, but not for long. 

Sunday I had hoped to sleep in.  Pook interpreted that as 7:15, since he'd already been up for an hour.  (Why is it so much harder to get them up on school days?)  I was given Mother's Day hugs before church.  After church we headed to a nearby arts festival with my parents.  The boys enjoyed looking around almost as much as we did.  I resisted purchasing things I didn't need and had no where to put.  I need more space for Stuff!  Shiny, Pretty Stuff!  I had hoped for a butter dish, but they weren't to be found.  This year seems to be the year of glass.  Stained glass, fused glass, glass beads and jewelry.  Lovely stuff, all of it.

CD and my father were great at organizing a fabulous Mother's Day dinner for my mom and I.  Pook chopped strawberries while my father baked buttery shortcakes.  The pair also assembled veggie skewers to grill. CD marinated shrimp and tossed potatoes in our favorite mustard and horseradish mixture.  Everything went on the grill (which did not significantly decrease the amount of dishes- but they did those too.)  I was given beautifully decorate cards and two coupon sets.  I plan to redeem my coupons for help with dinner, picking up of toys and laundry folding.  Pook's coupons have expiration dates so I will have to pay attention!