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Triumph of the Mundane

Slow blogging at its finest

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garden

Dandelion Blivet – or – I Can Handle the Truth, I Just Don’t Like the Maths

dandelion blivet

A highly technical military term (wink, wink), as my father explained it to me, a blivet is ten pounds of crap in a five-pound bag.

This weekend produced a close-to-real-life example: I took that leetle beety plastic pot out front to hold all the dandelions I’d dig up. Surely there weren’t many so early in the spring. . .

To loosen the nasty weed’s grip on the good earth — the over-wintered ones had roots the diameter of small carrots and I’m not talking baby carrots — I used the Japanese all-purpose garden knife available exclusively, in the 1990’s, from Smith and Hawken. Now available fine big-box stores everywhere.

And pardon the Britishism, too much Masterpiece Theater, but the blivet wasn’t the maths that were getting to me. The truth is, by trading a large chunk of my time for money these days, only so much of anything gets done. This weekend, the dandelions. Not enough time to do a proper weeding. Other items on the weekend to-do list loom large and the hours vaporize quickly. A time blivet of sorts — how much to cram into a too-short timeframe.

The dandelions, however, don’t care one whit about my schedule. And I’m gonna need a bigger bucket.

Comparison Chopping or I Love the Smell of Lavender in the Afternoon

spring-lavender-17

Working again means certain things will be put aside for another day. But other things, such as trimming the lavender, are time sensitive. An unseasonably warm Sunday afternoon seemed the opportune moment.

I was all set for a quiet, zen-like moment when the buzzsaw hubs showed up. As noted last year, spending time, plant by plant, to trim thoughtfully results in a nicely undulating hedge of robust blooms. Blunt cuts without careful deep trimming soon leads to lower bloom production and stifled plants.

The hubs has a different approach. There is he was, like that cigar-chomping officer in Apocalypse Now, mowing down the lavender bushes into the shape of large mushroom caps. And I’m hearing Vikings and Beekeepers (it’s playing at the 8-min. mark), a famous piece used in the movie and the SCTV sketch, playing in my head. And yes, that’s how I refer to that music; the real name doesn’t stick. Which reminded me to pick my battles. Carefully. And laugh.

So I worked closest to the sidewalk because those plants produce the best blooms. And I quit the task much earlier than planned. Sure enough, he gave up soon after. I’ll go back and finsih the overall trimming, and do some delicate trimming on the newly rounded plants once the warm weather really sets in and the hubs’ attention is absorbed in getting the vegetable garden planted. Patience. Oooommmmm.

 

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Time for a Cool Change

Frighteningly unseasonable weather well into November meant the green pepper plants kept producing until just a few days ago. Experience warns the appearance of great bounty precedes a painful-down-to-the-soul crash; it’s a false joy.

green-peppers

But waste is pointless, so stuffed green peppers for several days it is. With a side of impending doom.

And then on to new and other things.

Recently I came across the website of a fabulously named restaurant in Land, Oregon: Viking Soul Food. As a midlander, the Northwestern United States does not come to mind when thinking Nordic. But it is, and there you are.

My thoughts were already pointed due north. A year of Nordic cooking, perhaps. Yes, a year of Scandinavian cooking has a better ring to it. However my half-Swedish cousin rarely fails to remind that Finland, from whence my side of the family comes, is not technically part of Scandinavia, ergo it’s erroneous to claim the heritage. That’s why I hang with the German cousins.

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Tomato Fail Times Two

Tomato 2

This year’s tomato harvest is dismal. Pathetic even.

Last year the output was smaller than usual so we figured it was time for a new plan. Probably that blight thing, so give up on planting tomatoes in the garden for a year. Try pots on the deck. Fresh tomatoes just steps from the back door. Not so much. Mostly dry, hot summer punctuated by periods of deluge. Plants either too dry (even watering multiple times a day) or too wet.

What to do about spaghetti sauce!

Costco to the rescue!

Tomato 1

This has to be the solution, right?

Then The Splendid Table re-posts a story on canned tomatoes. Clearly, I’ve been dupped by a PR scam. But I’m certainly not going to throw away this jumbo can of tomatoes.

Maybe a little extra vodka in the Pasta alla Vecchia Bettola will cover any shortcomings. And maybe put some of that vodka in a glass rather than in the sauce. . .

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Honey Wasp Don’t Care

Honey wasp

See anything interesting, anything at all? No? Good!

Here in the Land of the Frugal, mulch goes down when the price drops. And the end-of-season price on cedar mulch meant it was time to load up.

So the hubs starts spreading the stuff in the front garden when he feels a sharp pain on his nose. Just about center of this pic is where the honey wasp nest was and the mulching stopped. He got stung, and it wasn’t fun.

The event made him pretty wary because it took three weeks of asking about next steps before a can of wasp destroyer was purchased. Even then, you-know-who had her hand on the nozzle while he pointed where to aim.

Now all’s quiet on the eastern front (yard).

 

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The Kludge Report – Honey Locust Don’t Care Part II

Well, the tab for ‘free’ firewood from the neighbor’s downed honey locustis about $150.

When the small electric log splitter, some hand tools, and a lot of elbow grease didn’t make any headway on turning those logs into firewood, the hubs headed to Northern Tool. (By the by, is there a name any more flannel than that? Probably not.)

Anyway, he came home with a hand-powered 10-ton splitter. And this is is what happened.

Honey locust 4

Lots of creaks and snaps. Flipped the log over, more creaks and snaps. No split.

Then we looked at the splitter. New personal best: Broke a piece of new equipment in under an hour. The creaks and snaps were the frame saying Hey you two idiots, STOP. Bent that puppy good. The wheels rolled no more.

At this point (or perhaps sooner. . .), the battle has become personal and the hubs heads to Lowe’s, comes home with some angle iron, and some nuts and bolts. Heads to the basement. Lots of loud sawing, banging, and whatnot. And this is what happened.

Honey locust 7

Behold the newly reinforced log splitter. Frame whacked back into shape, too.

honey locust 6

Again with the creaking and snapping. But at this point, what the hell. It works or it don’t; no point in babying the thing.

Honey locust 5

Houston, we have liftoff! Whew. A little ‘finessing’ required as the frame inhibits the split on larger logs.

But that’s a small price to pay.

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Honey Locust Don’t Care

When the neighbors up the street felled a honey locust, they offered us the remains. We quickly accepted and trundled the logs to the wood pile in our backyard. Free heat!

Honey locust 2

The honey locust is a hardwood tree. A very hard wood. The hubs spent several hours splitting a few logs.

Honey locust 3

Several instruments both sharp and blunt were employed.

No such thing as free heat.

Making Do – The Spring Edition

Spring kludge 1

Spring into summer is kludging season for the hubs. A few years back, he and the neighbor created a spectacular pool-heating system kludge. Yards of garden hose winding aimlessly behind an array of old glass doors and windows, the whole thing baking in the sun so tepid water would (eventually) flow into their pool. It was a sight to behold, and damn if there is no photographic record. In my mind’s eye it was a glorious Rube Goldbergesque contraption. I’m certain notable lawn damage occurred and there was a minor injury. Or two.

This year’s project is suitably mundane: Divert the rainwater around the garden. Bonus: Helps keep out the rabbits. He cut a handful of old composite boards (stacked behind the deck for years, years I tell you) to a narrower width to cover more territory. The math of figuring out how much territory the boards would cover proved that an illustrator and a writer should never be in charge of such things. Thank goodness there wasn’t a time limit on that problem and we’re good with a tape measure. Only minor marital squabbling took place, mostly when ear protection was on and the saw was running.

And thank goodness there was enough board to go around.

Visions of Kerosene

Weeds

I’m not a violent person, but when provoked my thoughts can go to a nasty place.

This year’s weed crop has driven me to mental extremes. These crawly weeds generally don’t take hold until June, but they’ve swept across the dry creek already thanks to an early spring. At least three times I’ve tackled the onslaught already. It’s hard to get hold of the slimy green b?#$rds with gloves on, so my bare-handed efforts have left me with shredded fingernails. The gloves stay handy to tackle the larger prickly invaders.

Weeds2

Each time I approach the task with a shoulder-to-the-wheel attitude. One hour of hard time today and another tomorrow. Fifteen minutes in and I’m tempering thoughts of why we try to be “environmentally friendly” and don’t just spray Round Up all over, everywhere, all the time. Half an hour in and I’m contemplating the cost efficiency of a flame thrower. Do those use kerosene?

As the end of the hour comes closer, the look in my eye is frightening the dogs and the neighbors have taken their children inside. My mental picture is me dressed in olive drab, viewing the scene through aviator sunglasses, and piloting a drone filled with napalm over the whole area — chin jutting out, chomping on a stogie, grinning and laughing. The 1812 Overture plays in the background. (Odd how I swap out details in my head to avoid the possibility of perceived copyright infringement. . . )

Then I stand up and walk away with a bin full of weeds. Tomorrow we shall meet again on the battlefield. Sigh. Or maybe the day after; the weeds will still be there.

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