Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Sorting My Worldly Goods

My elderly Siamese, Eggnog, sprawls despondantly by
a stack of books destined for the county library.

During the 12 Wyoming years of moving from one house to another as J. built and then sold them, I did a
fair amount of editing my belongings. I parted with stacks of Victoria magazines which went back to the first published issues.  I took them along with quilting magazines to the local library which had a large rack for give-away publications.
I sifted through the flotsam and jetsom which most of us seem to accumulate. Some items went to the Neat Repeats, some were consigned to the dump run.
Still, I arrived here with way more "stuff" than can be nicely accomodated in this small cottage.
I have spent frustrated hours during the last years pawing in various cartons and storage bins, searching for something I supposed I needed: muffin tins, sewing supplies, books--always another book which I wanted for reference or re-reading.

J. spent many weeks renovating and upgrading the cottage. New flooring went down in all but two rooms; the old kitchen was torn apart and new cabinetry and appliances installed. He turned a desolate basement area into a handsome family room complete with tiled floor and a wood-burning stove.
I heard vague references to book shelves.  Custom built, designed to take best advantage of the space, adequate to house my books and perhaps some decorative "collectables" as well.
Perhaps the book shelves were never very high on the list of priorities.
J. readily and competantly delves into big jobs such as building a house from the ground up.
Fiddly things like book shelves don't really inspire him, especially when there is outdoor work to be done.

I have hoped that suitable and affordable bookcases would appear--none have come through the local auction barn.  The furniture store where I bought my desk has a few--towering, heavy [pricey] things better suited to a barrister's office than a simple cottage.
I've considered hiring one of the local Amish carpenters--there are some expert ones--and some who, I've heard, don't take as much care.
But--hire a carpenter when I 'm married to one?

It is questionable whether I could ever corral all my books!
I live with books on the bedside stand, books beside my rocking chair, books in heaps around my desk.
Books follow me to the dining table, travel with me in the car or truck.
Gardening books; quilting books; kitchen planning books; books of essays; series of mysteries; large glossy books replete with photos of impossibly tidy gardens; Books on crafting--how to make everything from a wreath of dried herbs and botanicals to directions for a stenciled floor cloth!
In the interest of sanity and space, some of these books have to go away!

The battered childhood books will stay. Old favorite novels are revisited every few years during those times when the cold winds blow [either literally or figuratively] and I need the comfort of the familiar.
Well worn volumes by nature writers and essayists are old friends who must not be displaced.
I have haunted second hand book stores for years. I regularly place orders with alibris.
I can't imagine giving up real books in exchange for a kindle.
I started my book sorting several weeks ago.
The librarian snatched eagerly at the stack of house design and decorating tomes
 which we piled on her desk.
Today I gathered up great armloads of books, ferried them down to the family room--DUMPED them on the day bed and in cascading heaps on the floor--surrounding my one, totally inadequate, bookcase.

Some of the books were in cartons in the big cupboard which J. made at the end of the basement hallway.
While digging grimly through cartons of books I was derailed into cartons of carefully wrapped collectables--mostly the cat figurines which I have gathered since childhood. Some have sentimental value, little tokens from friends or family over the years.  Many such already sit happily gathering dust throughout the house.
Above are some of the tiny treasures unearthed today--ones that for various reasons, will remain with me.

Here are others which have been dusted and set aside for consideration.

Perhaps I have ADD [?] I started with books, was side-tracked to cat trifles and china bits, returned to surveying the books.  Here is an assortment gathered more or less untidily near a living room chair.

A staggering of books old and new in one of the fireplace cupboards.

Willis, who found his way in through the basement door, decided I am beyond help.
He watched for awhile from his slanted amber eyes, then flopped down in my shabby armchair in the family room.

Sorting and parting with things is nearly as tiring as weeding the garden!
I have to persevere as the family room is now a disaster zone with books in heaps and tipples.
Lawd, have mercy!

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

G. and M. Have Been Hanging Pictures!

Whenever I visit  G and M's "new" house I am invited [exhorted] to see the
latest decorating efforts.
When I stopped to collect G. this morning, a picture hanging frenzy was in full swing.
[M. is extremely meticulous about such things, armed with ruler as well as with hammer.]
This is a corner of the dining room.
I'm losing track of which bits and pieces G. has owned for years and which have been cannily acquired
in the past two months of haunting auctions and yard sales.
[This is very fertile country for collectors.]


A clock and a framed piece of crewel-work hang over a vintage cake carrier.
The scruffy blue chair was in this house when we bought it; I relegated it to the basement--where G. discovered it and pounced.
G. wants to remove the door that you see--it leads into the kitchen and is rather in the way of that nice corner nook.

This stunning bird print is one of several very handsome numbered prints which M. spotted at a big yard sale.
The fruit plaques have been around a while longer.

G. was given these vintage lady prints, unframed, years ago by a wealthy woman for
whom she did private care.
Yardsale frames were emptied of some worthless prints and used to finally display the ladies.
The curtains are ones I made for my sitting/sewing room in the last of our Wyoming houses--sadly they don't fit in my present house--so they have moved to G.'s house.
{Can you tell that we really enjoy repurposing things?]


The photo doesn't do this piece of cross-stitch full justice.
Another auction find.

G. created a display of vintage aprons and potholders to hang over the door that leads from the
kitchen to the basement laundry/storage area.

I should have turned on a light for this photo.
The blue-green shelf is one that J. made years ago.
The lamp and its fringe-y shade are a vintage find.

There is a story behind this elephant.
I have a smaller elephant doorstop which came from the home that belonged to my grandparents and g-grandparents.  My elephant has a crack down the center [apparently cast in two pieces.]  From my earliest childhood memory the elephant wore a red cloth bandage.
Although G's creature is unscathed, he wears a bandage in the family tradition.

We can't decide if T-baby is pleased with all this house decorating or if he is miffed by the uproar.
Here he is plopped on a vintage trunk, surrounded by pictures and books,
supervising the arrangement of his domain.

I Refused to Garden Today!

Weather in Kentucky has been a case of extremes this spring/summer.
An early spell of warm jump-started gardens, then May regressed into a sulk of chilly rain.
Early June brought temps in the 90's [F] humidity and a scarcity of moisture.
Flowers in the borders grew tall and lank--grass and weeds came up around them and I could only watch--first as the ground was too soggy to work, then became too dry. During such windows of opportunity as occurred, I put the needs of the vegetable garden first.
It rained for perhaps an hour on Sunday morning; enough rain to create mud in the edges of garden rows.
Yesterday [Monday] was a perfect day to weed. Grass and such pulled easily from moist ground and an overcast sky meant that I could work outside for hours without danger of keeling over from heat and sun.
I picked two collanders of green beans and weeded the bean rows as I picked.
I then turned my attentions to the strawberry patch. Runners set new plants very heavily early in the spring making the foliage very dense in some places.  I was able to clean out an area where the new runners are smaller, did some hand grubbing in the heavier planting.  I need to get back in there with my 3-pronged tool to pull out a sort of creeping clover that has invaded.

Siberian catmint has grown to towering heights--this clump was sheared last week.

I came inside long enough to cook some of the green beans to serve with left-over potato salad, sliced cucumbers in vinegar and sliced tomatoes.

I spent the next 3 or 4 hours in the two perennial strips, working until nearly full dark.
Weeding is easier this year.  Last season we contended with newly turned ground and decaying sod.
There are still clumps of an invasive heavily rooted grass finding their way in.  Most of the grass underneath the roses and larger perennials is a soft, shallow rooted stuff.
As you see above, the lovely poppies are about past their short blooming season.  The lower leaves have turned crisp and brown.  I'm so hoping that the seeds mature and dry in the pods without a wet spell to cause mildew. I have two plants of lupine rooted in--spoils from Gina's splurge at the Amish auction.
I planted lupines--from seed and from well-rooted plants--in my Vermont garden--it never flourished.

I scattered zinnia seed saved from last years garden in several bare spots. I think it will make a fine showing within a few weeks, filling in gaps.

Today's pink peony poppy.

There will be a day or two more to enjoy the shaggy dark red poppies.
Note how the stems have twisted as they endured wind and rain.

A bumble bee enjoys the monarda lambada--this was started from seed last year.
There are two colors. mauve and a pink.
It likes to invade.

A small single petaled poppy.
The rugosa rose behind the poppy is Blanc Double de Coubert--one of my favorites.  I'm concerned by the yellowed leaves on this and on another rugosa.  I'm hoping that with the space around them opened up they will become greener.  I think some TLC is in order.

Willis the helpful cat sniffs at a leaning poppy stalk.

The look of innocence.
Willis is the stringiest, shabbiest looking cat imaginable.
He is de-wormed regularly.
He is served good quality food.
He is just scruffy!

When my day of weeding ended in last night's twilight I was incredibly grubby: I wore my favorite gardening jeans--a pair with blown-out ragged knees.  Thus my knees were muddy.
I had worn sandals and my feet were a disgrace. My hands are stiff today and I've been trying to restore my nails to some kind of decency.
My aging bones ache!
I announced to J. that I wasn't gardening; I declared that I didn't intend to clean house---or do laundry---or bake.  He had recruited Devin to help with a project and suggested I go to town and do the banking.
I collected Gina and we had a lovely girl's day out.
We hit Goodwill--where G. found several sets of lace curtains which will be fine in her house, until I am sufficiently energized to deal with curtain making.
She found picture frames [which she will spray paint for a cottage-y look] for some of her presently unframed bits of artwork.
I found a pair of denim knee-length pants and another pair in brown linen, as well as a denim jacket.
[I love these finds--high-end brand names, $3.00 the pair and if I get paint or mud on them no big deal!]
We drove to the town square to do the banking--and feeling wildly adventurous, I led G. into a shop crammed with an assortment of vintage wares, primitive reproductions, textiles, china, etc.
I began to think that I would have to drag her ou!
Hunger prevailed: "Aren't we near the cafe that makes those wonderful sandwiches?"
"Right next door," I replied, "And I'm headed there!"
We had a fine lunch [G. treated], picked up a few neccesities at Wal Mart [Dreadful Place!] then stopped at our friend Marla's Casey House Antiques on our way home.
The above photo is of just one display there.
Marla's collectibles deserve a whole post of their own.
So---home, to find that J. had managed to make himself a sandwich, to find that the kitchen was untidy and needed attention. 
I dealt with that, then out to wander around the flower garden assessing the results of yesterday's labors--seeing work work still to be done--but not today!
[I did buy a treasure at the shop in town--but I'm not ready to show it off yet!]

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Settling In

Two weeks ago today our daughter and her family began the process of moving their worldly goods from our garage to their newly purchased home a mere country mile along the road.
Matt and Devin have ferried furniture and boxes [oh, the boxes and bins!] carefully by the pickup load.
The house was not left as clean as it should have been, so Gina has spent exhausting hours scrubbing every cupboard and surface, scouring the bathtub/shower/sinks and the fridge  before unpacking.
M. gives up at a sensible hour and finds a place to sleep, while G. and D.--the confirmed night owls--shove furniture, paw through boxes, and contemplate alternate arrangements into the wee hours.
G. has a great flair for decorating.  Each time we stop by I am called to witness a cunning nook of furnishings and accessories--only to find by the next visit that it has been changed!
The cottage sits well back from the road in the deep shade of maples.  Walnut and chestnut trees rim the back yard.  The former owner did some rather formal landscaping around the house: hollies; knock-out roses, juniper, ornamental grasses and daylilies. G. is torn between the neccesity of settling the house and spending time weeding in the plantings and considering where she will set out her hoarded perennials.


The lilies in the landscaped areas include the common orange daylily which the former owner transplanted from a huge spread of them just along the road; I recognize Stella d'Oro and a lovely citron-shaded one which I beleive is Hyperion.
This charmer opened this week--the double trinity of petals is distinctive
and the "monkey face" makes us smile.

The south-facing covered porch is perhaps G.'s favorite spot--a real selling point when they viewed the home.
She has arranged "the wicker" so happily acquired at a yard sale; potted plants are placed to advantage.
The lineup of perennials at the edge of the porch are awaiting the planned garden spot. Preparing that is on Matt's list!

Viewing the porch from the side toward the back yard.
You can see the Hyperion lilies at the left edge of the photo.

Jinka, the idiosyncratic white cat, peers over her shoulder, ever alert to the possibility of T-Baby charging from the shrubbery.

G. didn't feel quite ready for a full house tour, but the kitchen is cleaned, sorted, and in working order.
As you can see, it is a galley arrangement.  The oak cabinetry was made by a local craftsman and is well done. G. prefers white painted cabinets and woodwork so the predominance of dark-stained oak in this house is taking some mental adjustment.  When feeling stressed and cross through-out the moving process she threatens to buy gallons of white gloss paint and slather it over the oak.
None of us are taking the threat seriously!
The little window tucked at the end of the counter looks out to the north.  Eventually the proposed flower garden will be situated in a splash of sunlight and will be visible through this window.
Tarbaby the Cat has decided that he likes to parade the length of the countertop and station himself at the window to watch "birdies."
[G. declares that he NEVER walked on counters until he peeked in the windows during his two month stay with us and saw our resident felines making free with counters and table-tops. A likely tale!]

It was overcast yesterday when I took these hasty photos of the dining room so this corner doesn't show to good advantage. G. collects vintage trunks, two of which are stacked in front of the window. Her 'Wardian case' holds potted gerbera daisies.

A close up of the window arrangement with a bamboo stand to the right.

M. purchased this sturdy oak hutch several years ago at an auction in Lander, WY. G. wasn't sure she liked it then, but is pleased to find that it matches the oak cabinetry of this house and is a fine gathering spot for
some of her cherished vintage pantryware and linens.
I think she has a flair for eye-catching arrangements--surely worthy of any glossy decorating magazine!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Another Garden Morning

Doesn't this look like a ruffly pink petticoat with a green over-skirt?

Each morning I look at the fresh poppy blooms bursting from their green husks--and I am reminded
of the beautiful and voluptous Dolly Parton whose charms seem about to erupt from her gowns!

This stand of purple coneflower was started from direct seeding last spring.

I transplanted a clump of butterflyweed [asclepias] from the pasture last July. It is being consumed by stripey caterpillars--the price to be paid for the beauty of Monarch butterflies in the garden.

A wildly frilled poppy--I think these are my favorites.

Although many flowers in the border are past their best and others have sprawled before the rain and wind,
still this view enchants me. I took the photo while on my knees weeding.

Seed-sown dianthus nestled in a tangle of mint.

A sprig of trumpet vine shines in the morning sun.

These zinnias grew from seed that fell to the ground last summer.
I enjoyed my plantation of zinnias last season, but didn't find room to include many of them this year.

A clump of elderflower near the clothesline.
I can't think why Mr. Rogers, the former resident here, planted garlic in such odd places.
It co-mingles with the elders, pops up near the peonies, surprises me leaning out of the shady tangle near the carport.  There is even a stalk of it in the box hedge!

Mr. Rogers created this raised bed at the rear of the garage when his late wife could no longer stoop to tend  flowers.  Last year it was a jungle of clambering morning glory, thickets of Sweet Annie. Roots of Johnson grass thick as my fingers run through the soil. 
I cleaned it out with Matt's help and planted sunflowers.
It would seem that cultivating brought up a few million more morning glories and the thick stalks of grass continue to thrust up. The bed is too deep to weed except by climbing in.
I rather despair of making anything workable here.

Willis raced from one end of the raised bed to the other, charging through sunflower stalks, pouncing on my hands.  When I gave up and left the sunflowers to their own devices, he flung himself into the poppies--which are too delicate for his robust attentions.

Hoping to discourage Willis I moved on to weed around the mint and pinks.

Willis flung himself down in the gravel of the driveway, so obviously abused!

Grubbing in the mint which threatens to throttle the Double Knock-Out Roses, I noticed this shiny black spider scuttling away.

As she floundered through the uprooted grass I noticed the red hour-glass shape on her underside.
What was it I had heard about spiders with that marking?
The information eluded me.
The spider remained in the clump of grass while I fetched the camera.

I have been thoroughly chastised by the males of the family, by my dear friend in Wyoming and by the editor of the local on-line magazine--for messing with a Black Widow Spider.
Apparently the thing to do is to mash them on sight!
Still--she wasn't being aggressive and I think I prefer a spider sighting to a snake any morning!