Friday, April 30, 2010


The dwarf fruit trees set out about three weeks ago are showing leaves.

The Yellow Simplicity roses [ordered with a Jackson and Perkins gift certificate from a dear friend] have been a bit slow to break dormancy. This is the more vigorous of the two and has spent the week developing leafy shoots. The second one is less branched, but is showing encouraging signs of life.

We set up the huge lodgepole bed this week and in lieu of hooks in the bathroom I've been tossing my robe over the bedpost.  An errand took me into the bedroom at midmorning and I discovered Charlie nested in the trailing folds of the robe. 
And yes, there's still masking paper here and there along the baseboards.  The application of "Cinnamon Swirl" paint is temporarily abandoned while we work in the garden.
Plan B suggests that we will remove the interior shutters from their mountings, take them outside and give them a good scrubbing, then spray paint them using aerosol cans of white enamel.

Pebbles has shown some lameness in her right foreleg these past two days.  We've kept careful watch but there are no signs of the laminitis which has been a problem for her in the past.  She has been tearing around the pasture like a colt ever since she arrived in Kentucky.  J. thinks she may have slipped in the wet grass and pulled a muscle.  She delights in giving him her hoof to hold and inspect.
Her gimpiness didn't prevent her taking advantage today when J. let down the electric wire in front of the barn while he moved out his tractor.
"Where", I said a few minutes later, "has that horse gotten to?"
"Oh, I didn't put the wire back up!"
Sure enough, Pebbles had gone through the center aisle of the barn and out to the lush green field beyond.
J. went after her, put his belt around her neck and led her back.  She was not pleased and while he tinkered with the fence she marched back through.
This time I was directed to hold her until the fence was repositioned.
We think she is feeling much better today. She spent most of the day on her feet--eating grass--and although the limp is still evident, she gets where she has a mind to go!
It has been a day of gardening.  A day of wind and flower-scented sunshine. The tawny iris has started to open, but the only photo I took of it was blurred as the flower stem tossed in the breeze.
Some tomato plants set out, as well as cabbage, peppers and melons. Cucumber seed, cantaloupe seed and zuchinni planted in "hills." 
Two rows of Stuttgarter onions set out, two long rows of bush Blue Lake beans planted, and just before dark, four clumps of dianthus dis-interred from their nursery pots and set into the flower border to be.
I am tired; witless; pleased with my day.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Sun After Rain

There are numerous iris dotted about the dooryard in clumps.  I have wondered if all would blossom in the classic dark purple with lighter "falls."  The first to open [out by the clothesline] unfolded deep burgandy petals, still dewey.  Today there are two, fully open, and one in gingery shades ready to show off in a day or so. Anyone who remembers the woman who lived here for many years has mentioned her love of flowers. I like to imagine that she spent hours with a plant catalog making her selections. Perhaps the iris were ordered as an un-named mixed "collection."

Another look at the burgandy iris. I moved a clump of iris last Sunday in the rain, transplanting them to my new strip of flower bed.  They were in a bit of a planting that seemed awkwardly placed near the track that leads to the barns. They took the move well and one is budded.  The same weedy tangle presented a hollyhock.  I dug it up as well, though knowing that hollyhocks resent being uprooted and asked to re-establish. Sure enough, it sulked and flopped.  I pruned off the limp leaves and it is obligingly putting up new growth from the center.

One of the inherited peonies which promises to be pink.  Maybe the old variety Sarah Bernhardt?

Surely this one will be bright red!  This is the clump which J. unwittingly ran over with his truck while I screamed from the sidelines.

This little clump of feathers was lying on the wet grass near the  crab apple tree.  I didn't see a dead bird, though surely this is an unhealthy amount of feathers to lose and still fly away?

The clemetis continues to bloom all in a tumble at the bottom of the trellis. It wants tieing up so it can grow up the wires. That task is on the "to-do" list.

So many things "want done" all at once that I know a daily frustration at my own lack of efficiency.  J. has done wonders. The flooring is down in living room, dining area, hall, and master bedroom.  Together we finished the painting of the kitchen and dining room before he installed the kitchen cabinets. The accent wall in the living room was painted first of all.
I tackled the painting of the woodwork in the bedroom on Tuesday while J. finished the edges of the floor.
Oh dear.  The folding closet doors look nice as does the main door.  Even the baseboards look good, although "cutting in" along the edges with a highly contrasting paint color is a nightmare.
I set to work on the window casings and the cunning little interior shutters yesterday. I knew the shutters wouldn't be easy.  Several hours later I had to concede that it wasn't going well. Painting old window sashes is never as nice as finishing new ones.  Charlie the Cat [who isn't bright] jumped on a freshly painted window sill. The louvers of the shutters dripped and dribbled paint.  I developed a kink in my neck and aching shoulders and felt rather like throwing a tantrum. [Which would have taken more energy than I possessed!]
I woke this morning and cautiously peered at the paint--which is called "Cinnamon Swirl." It is meant to be a buffy-peachy color.  Some of the time it is.  With the eastern sun pouring in I managed to convince myself that it looks more like an over ripe cantalope--or maybe a melting orange popsicle.
I creaked out of bed and tip-toed to the kitchen, aching in every bone.
J. emerged when the scent of fresh coffee drifted down the hall.
I began to moan about the shutters. I took my mug of coffee and two heated back warmers and crippled to my lair in the corner of the loveseat.
J. remained non-committal re the shutters, but announced that "we" needed to "go see about fencing."
He furthermore decided we should go to the Lowes in Glasgow, KY rather than the one in Campbellsville where we have been buying supplies.
I believe the man has decided that it is judicious to remove both of us from the scene of our labors and take an "outing" every few days.
I grumbled a bit about going--shouldn't I stay home and GET SOMETHING DONE?
I went along--and the sunshine on green fields, the shrubbery and flowers in bloom in every dooryard were beautiful to see. [Although I do think that azaleas in screeching colors are a bit much!]
Having nothing to do while J. made his price comparisions on various fencing materials I wandered into the adjoining garden center.
I usually am not excited about the quality or variety of plants in such places, but found a good display of perennials in good condition--and on sale!
When J. reappeared I had loaded a cart with pots of nepeta [Walkers' Low] a dark red aquilegia and a bi-colored one in scarlet and honey yellow, several Cheddar Pinks, a red dianthus.
Before dark this evening all had been tucked into the ground, as well as several plants which had been languishing on the side porch while rain made it too muddy to plant.
The matter of the wretched shutters remains.  The problem of creaky old bones is here to stay.
But--the flower border is beginning to be a reality.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Paducah, Kentucky

Two drivers with horses and elegant carriages waited in the parking lot to drive visitors through the old, picturesque part of Paducah.

Paducah, Kentucky [named for the chief of the Indian tribe displaced from that area by white settlement] is located on the Illinois/Kentucky border near the confluence of the Ohio and Tennessee rivers and near where they empty into the great Mississippi River.
It is an old city with bricked streets, shade trees, planters crammed with flowers, intriguing small shops.
It is also a mecca for quilters.
Our neice, an excellent needlewoman, recently purchased a long-arm quilting machine and signed up for classes given at the annual quilt expo.
We made plans to take a day off from house renovating and drive the three hours to Paducah to meet SA and her husband, B.
J. and I had breakfast [late] at a Cracker Barrel Restaurant in Bowling Green, KY.
These are a chain of restaurants housed in distinctive buildings fronted with a wide porch full of hickory rocking chairs.  One enters through a gift shop and is then escorted to a table in a long room decorated with all manner of antique and vintage items.  Old portraits in ornate frames share space with collections of everything from colorful tobacco tins to washboards hung on the latticed walls and a fire burns in a huge stone fireplace.  The food is down-home style and excellent.
J. took this photo of me with SA and her husband--after we had trudged the streets for several hours.
Don't we look inspired?
I took this of SA as the two of us toured the quilt show and vendors' hall.
I taught her the basics of sewing when she was a teenager. She and her younger sister [whose work I showed in a December post] both do stunning hand applique.  SA is a busy nurse-practitioner in a dermatology clinic in TN. She says that hand sewing helps her to de-stress after long days at work.

One of the prize-winning quilts at the show.

A detail of the above quilt.  While I deplore the mess that mice can make [having so recently removed that huge mouse nest from beneath the old kitchen cabinets!] they are so "cute" as depicted in stitchery or art work. This one has a look of having stepped from a Beatrix Potter sketch.

Another ribbon winner.

I liked this one with its use of shaded Log Cabin variation blocks as a background for the bold appliqued sunflowers.

This quilt was made in softly colored woolens.  Click to enlarge the photo if you would like to see the hand embroidered details.

Stunning, but not something I would likely attempt. I suspect it may be an example of paper-piecing.

While SA and I "did" the quilt show and vendors' stalls, the men betook themselves to a Railroad Museum. We met late in the afternoon and found a coffee shop where we could buy lovely cold drinks. It was in an old building with pressed tin on the ceiling. The whole place smelled richly of freshly brewed coffee, green tea and fruit smoothies. The scent of pastry wafted from racks of tempting goodies.
Our last stop of the day was at Hancocks of Paducah.
This is a huge retailer of quilt fabrics, patterns and tools. Their "wishbook" is sent out to quilters all over the country and we tote it around as the ultimate source of delectable fabric.
Did I need more fabric?  NEED?
My stash of fabric has been packed away since January when we knew we would be moving. I can't open a closet door and gloat over shelves of beautiful stuff just waiting in color coordinated stacks for me to have a burst of creative energy.
SA is more sensible than I am when it comes to fabric purchases.  She selects a pattern or plans a project and then shops for what she needs.  I snatch at fabric that catches my eye or suggests possibilities. Working part time in a quilt shop for 5 or so years, I was part of the team that viewed new lines of fabric when the fabric reps came around.  For a number of years I made a habit of buying [with my shop discount] any that I loved of the selection on our shelves, then purchasing other patterns or colorways from the same line through catalogs or when I managed to sneak into a quilt shop on trips I made with J. for building materials.
SA and I had a wonderful hour at Hancocks.  We limited our selections to batiks, each of us delighting to spy a bolt which would coordinate with the stacks already in our shopping carts. What fun to pull out a bolt of a glowing sunset orange or a muted purple and trot over to SA's cart to see if it was one she could use. She in turn, chose several colors to coordinate with my choices.
Our long-suffering husbands sat outside happily grousing over politics and the lamentable state of the world.

How could I have resisted  batik fabric printed in a cat motif? And since it was in two colorways I decided that I needed some of each and then the other pieces to pick up the beautiful colors of the felines. The two books came from a shop which had tables and bins of surplus pattern books. They were at such a reduced price that I chose two--whether or not I ever make up one of the projects, the books will provide some pleasant dream time. 

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

A Working Kitchen !!

The view this morning.  J. struggles with plumbing, a task which he dislikes.  He had to work with some of the existing water lines and drain which is always harder. I spent much of my day cleaning up behind him.
A long afternoon saw the sink and range installed, the upper cabinets in place.  It is all very fiddly work.
The fabricators sent the wrong countertop--not the color/pattern which I ordered.  I was disappointed and for a bit we contemplated reordering.  This would mean a wait of anything from 2-6 weeks with the kitchen torn apart.
We sighed and decided to get on with it. The renovating phase of moving in is not fun and doesn't need to be prolonged.
We have new light fixtures to install and will eventually replace the floor covering. There are simple white ceramic door and drawer pulls to be screwed in place.
For now, I am delighted with the transformation.
This is the smallest kitchen I've had in many years and the challenge was to work within the existing configuration. I chose to have a large pots and pans cupboard to the right of the sink instead of a dishwasher.
I'm missing some of the cunning features I've had in larger kitchens, but the corner units are very clever things with pull out and fold out cubbies.
Note the shiny metal switch plates--more reflective surfaces in a space that tends to be a bit dark.
The first meals were cooked today on the new range. I"m considering how to make best use of the space and anticipate many hours of unpacking and sorting before I feel settled.
The glass doored cabinet is for my collection of teapots---handy to the gleaming red kettle which my son chose for me.
The wood is a lovely satiny maple.  The high wall cabinets really do fit over the fridge--the angle of the photo makes them look off-centered.  But the angle of the photos was critical.  You don't need to see the other side of the room nor yet the dining area.  Both are a welter of tools, boxes of canned and dry goods, displaced oddments.
Tomorrow we are giving ourselves a day out.
We will be meeting our neice and her husband in Padukay, KY to tour the old historic district.  We ladies will go to the quilt museum; the men can tag along or find their own amusement.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Surprises--Lovely, and Not So.....

During my many years of gardening in Vermont I began to covet a clematis.
Thinking that they were not reliably hardy in a place with such cold winters, I never risked my gardening budget to experiment with one.
When I discovered a vine clinging to a makeshift trellis against the brick pillar of the cottage porch, I suspected that I had inherited a clematis--this hunch being confirmed by helpful readers of my blog.

The clematis has been neglected for years and the younger branches are trailing at the base of the trellis waiting for me to tie them to the wires. In the back of my mind the greedy thought has niggled that at some point I might plant another variety with a different color of flower.

Trudging back up the drive this morning from the mailbox I came around the side of the porch and stopped, transfixed by this glowing lavender-blue blossom at the right side of the trellis.
I felt as though heaven smiled on me through the overcast skies, as though this little joy had been saved and presented just for me.

An unpleasant discovery yesterday was made when J. pulled the last of the old base kitchen cabinets from its place.   It wrenched loose with a screech of nails and a mutter of grumbles from J. ["What were they thinking of to nail cabinets to the floor and wall?"]
As he jerked the unit free, tipping it toward himself, what was under the cabinet was visible to me before he could see it.
"EEEEUUUW!  YUK!"  I ran for the broom while J. peered around the offending cupboard.
Closer inspection revealed the dead mouse lying along-side the heap of shredded newspaper. A nasty odor wafted from the pile.
For a fleeting second I considered sifting through the paper in search of a dated scrap, then with a shudder I whisked it into a trash box and hurried out to the burn area.
Teasel and Maisie were tip-toeing suspiciously around the spot when I returned to the kitchen.  Teasel's face wrinkled in that universal grimace of a cat who has inhaled something vile.
By the time I had scrubbed the old linoleum with a strong mixture of soap, scalding water and a liberal slosh of Clorox, my own nose was wrinkling, but at least I knew the floor was clean!
At odd moments I've imagined the labor of the mouse [or mice] who constructed this snuggery.
How long did it take to collect and shred such a mound of newspaper?
Did they work at night, stealing into the living room or perhaps onto the dining room table to collect the supply of paper?
Did the old man who lived here alone after his wife's death have any knowledge that he had such company?
After I cleaned, J. meticulously plugged and sealed any gaps and holes under the sink which would allow future entry to rodents.
The cats quit sniffing
The kitchen renovation continues.
At some point soon this little cottage will begin to look like home.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Planting and Pruning

One of the sales areas at Anna's Garden in Russell Springs, KY.

J. decided he needed a break from flooring for a few hours yesterday, so we headed to Russell Springs to buy perennials for my flower border.  My work mates and friends at the quilt shop in Wyoming had presented me with a card and gift of money designated for my new garden.  Needless to say, I spent that and then some!
J. wandered about in the vegetable hot house while I chose my flowers.  He couldn't resist bringing home 6 tomato plants even though it is still a bit possible for some cold weather. I was pleased to note that in addition to the standard tomato varieties some heirloom plants such as "Brandywine" are available.  Another year I will contrive to start my own tomatoes, peppers and melons---there are so many delicious things to grow which aren't available in garden centers.
The plants were all healthy and vigorous. I was a bit disappointed that only the most common perennials were offered, but they will create a good framework for the garden.

It was nearly dark last evening when I noticed that the clemetis had opened its buds. Not having grown one in New England I didn't know when to anticipate bloom. The flowers are creamy white with delicate green veining. More have opened since I took the photo this morning. The existing  trellis is rather makeshift, but it works and there is considerable new growth which needs to be gently tied up and encouraged to run up the wire.

I spent several hours last evening pruning and again this afternoon. Honeysuckle vine has nearly strangled everything it can get at. I have clipped, pulled, unwound and unraveled it from the nandina, from the spicey flowering shrubs and from a shrub whose name I don't yet know.  I read up on the proper pruning of nandina, and fear that I rather hacked at it, but it was desparately out of bounds.
I came in at teatime and collapsed with a favorite old English novel, struggled up to make a sort of supper and then went out in the dusk to gather my branches and bits and drag them to the burn area.
I used the heavy long-handled loppers, working above my head a good deal of the time and am definitely ready for bed.
The kitchen cabinetry and range are to be delivered tomorrow. The next few days should see a bedlam of boxes and displaced items.
I can't tear off the old kitchen wallpaper and finish applying the fresh pale yellow paint, until the old cabinets have been pulled out. J. can't put down the dining area floor until the new kitchen cabinets have found their rightful places.
J. tore up the ancient linoleum in the old laundry area this morning. The particle board beneath  was as disgusting as expected and will have to be replaced with fresh OSB.
He worked at the flooring for awhile, then retreated to the garden to mulch his little fruit trees and berry canes.
We are making progress even as we make messes.
All comments from the cheering section are greatly appreciated!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Old, But Still Working!

The "old mare", grey locks swinging in my face as I set out 75 strawberry plants this morning.  Thankfully, I didn't have to dig the holes for the plants.
This is good loamy soil, almost completely stone free.

J. having wielded the shovel, has been roaring about the yard on the lawn mower.
I need to get back out to plant three roses and some lily bulbs.
It would be nice if, after such strenuous labor, we came in and a good lunch had miraculously appeared.
The new kitchen cabinetry and range are due for delivery on Friday, so sometime next week should see the kitchen unpacked and sorted and normal meals resumed.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Old Grey Mare

J. slicing up lengths of carpet and backing ready to start laying down the pre-finished hardwood laminate we chose for flooring.  The living room has been in total disruption which distresses the cats. Bumbling about in the dark is not a good idea just now--unless one wants to walk smack into a stray bookcase or trip over a displaced chair.

J. no sooner started on the flooring project than we realized that frantic bird noises were issuing from the "column" at the end of the side porch.  A phoebe was determined to build a nest there in spite of my having made discouraging swipes with a broom.
Idiot bird fell down inside the hollow pillar.  J. jacked up the porch roof, removed the plate that partially covered the top of the column and the bird hastily exited.  It hasn't been back to resume nest building.
Meanwhile J. is tsk-tsking over the lack of sturdiness in the so-called column. The other end of the porch is supported by masonry.

Paint sample cards fascinate me and I collect them by the handful from building supply places.  So many tints and shades of every possible color--and such imaginative names.
I'm in process of painting the kitchen/dining area in the one labeled "homey cream."

J. painted an accent wall in the living room in the Laura Ashley Russet # 6.  [I was meant to be painting it, but he decided to "cut in" the edge of the ceiling for me, then I think he was enjoying spreading the color.]
The one quart we bought didn't cover the entire wall, so back to Lowes on Sunday for another qt.
J. took an alternate route to drive there [Campbellsville, the next town] and we enjoyed the beautiful spring scenery.

The order of nursery stock was delivered just after lunch today.
Paint rollers and flooring tools were set aside and we spent several hours in the garden.
My job was to sort the fruit trees and berry canes by varieties, lay them out by the appropriate holes and then hold the scrawny things in place while J. tenderly shoveled dirt around them.
This was overseen by Pebbles.  J. moved her pasture up past the old apple trees and set the electric fence to take in the lean-to portion of the nearer barn.
Pebbles stomped back and forth fussing for a good part of the day.  We think she is missing hob-nobbing over the fence with the cattle who are pastured on the adjoining farm. She is now too far removed from them to have neighborly chats.

As I have urged myself to keep up with the "things to do" list, as I have realized that I can no longer manage to paint spaces that are above my head, cannot in fact, get as much accomplished as I once did, I've found myself humming an old ditty.  Doleful words set to a jigging sort of tune.

The old grey mare she ain't what she used to be,
Ain't what she used to be,
Ain't what she used to be.
The old grey mare she ain't what she used to be, many long years ago.

It goes on--but you get the picture!

All fruit trees planted;  about six dozen berry canes in.
J. "turned" the space I requested for shrub roses and perennials and several extra strips for tomatoes and such.  In the morning we'll put in strawberry plants and my red "knock-out" roses.
 Meanwhile I creak and groan--and try not to recall that I decided in a moment of enthusiasm to paint all the bedroom woodwork in a lovely color called "Cinnamon Swirl."  The gallon of paint awaits my pleasure.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Dogwood Winter

Yesterday I chatted with the lady, who with her husband, owns the local seed and fertilizer business. I discovered she has a love for gardening and being familiar with our little farm she wondered if certain of the trees and shrubs were in bloom on our side of the hill.
I mentioned that dogwood was one of the trees new to me and she replied that an old local saying calls a cold spell after many warm spring days "dogwood winter."
Sure enough, we woke to a chilly morning of rain.
The rain is a timely blessing, watering our new-seeded hayfield and the early garden seeds.

It was one of those days when the world shimmers wetly in various shades of fresh new green, and listening closely one can hear things growing.
This tall shrub is just outside the sliding doors in the dining area. Perhaps when it blossoms I will recognize it.

We headed for Lowes Home Improvement to choose flooring to replace the elderly carpets throughout the house.  The Tom turkey was shepherding his harem toward the woods when J. stopped the car for a better view.  When I use the camera's zoom, I momentarily "lose" the object I want to capture.  The turkeys took advantage of this and my only photo is of the last hen in line and the Tom stomping behind with his tail feathers in display mode.

Since we hadn't taken Snort'n Nort'n, it took us two trips with the Rav 4 to bring home all the flooring. We thought to buy it for one room at a time, but discovered that the Pergo laminate we decided to use was on sale---so--back for the second load after lunch.
The cats felt they had been terribly neglected.  One of them had found a length of ribbon trailing from a carrier bag in my closet. A tug of war was staged for our enjoyment.
The striped mat is thrown down on the faded and grubby carpet--you can see why we are anxious to replace it.

At the north-west corner of the house two of these bushes are in bloom in spite of the cold snap. The wind was tossing the slender branches so that my photo blurred.
I'll get a better one tomorrow and hope for identification.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Around the Farm

One of the redbud trees in sunlit glory.
Some of the blossoms open right along the trunk or the branches as well as in the more familiar manner.

My darling old Eggnog has decided that the bow window is her favorite place. Its the only window with a sill wide enough to make a cat comfortable.  I cleaned the grime of years from the panes yesterday--inside and out while Eggie kept watch.

An old apple tree coming into bloom with the weathered barns in the background. Part of this tree's stump lies along the ground.
There were ancient apple trees on my Grampa's farm, remnents of the orchard which was a common feature of most well established farms.  I remember an apple tree whose trunk had developed a thick horizontal branch a few feet above the ground--a wonderful place to sit with a book or merely to survey my kingdom.

Winged pods on a maple.  J.M. who sold us the place, calls this a water maple.  J. thinks it is what we recognized in New England as a "soft maple" or "swamp maple."

I'm thinking this is an apple tree, but the blossoms are a deeper pink than I've ever seen.  They have the classic apple blossom scent.  The new leaves are so glossy and fresh.
A brisk wind ruffled the grass and sang through the newly leafed tree branches this morning as we sat on the porch with our coffee.
I was sad to see that most of the petals on the pear tree were drifting to the ground. I hope the bees have done their work and there will be pears in the fall.

I encountered this wooly bear near the garage and moved it carefully out of the way.
Moments later I watched a yellow swallowtail butterfly drift on the wind currents and disappear above the roof of the house.

The three redbuds at the foot of the long drive.
Power lines run overhead here, a distraction when taking photos. 
Some of the 40 pounds of seed potatoes which I cut yesterday. All but a few are now tucked in the ground.

J. spent Monday afternoon trundling back and forth to the seed and fertilizer plant nearby.  J.M. had soil samples taken last fall and J. took the resulting maps to the fertilizer man who blended the fertilizer for each plot.

Today we went back for seed. I was given the task of dipping out seed from each of several sacks and mixing it in the five gallon bucket.

J. borrowed an ingenious seeder from J.M. It hooks into the battery of the 4-wheeler, a lever is pulled and off one goes with the seed spraying out.  J. devised the "drag" to cover the seed from several boards and a fence panel.

With my contribution to the seeding finished I walked up to the edge of the woods which form the boundary, but didn't climb over the fence as it is festooned with what I believe to be poison oak. I think these wildlings are called May apple--I need to ressurect my book on eastern wildflowers.
Twice today I heard wild turkeys clucking and gobbling in the wood.
When we went after the seed a few minutes after first hearing them, I saw one toddling hastily up the next door pasture.