Sunday, August 30, 2015

August Kaliedoscope

A yellow swallowtail butterfly in a clump of Joe Pye weed.

Photos loaded, the Audubon Field Guide to Wildflowers consulted, words and phrases chasing themselves, but not sorting into coherent sentences, let alone witty paragraphs to record the 
month nearly ended.

We have continued to paint, achieving a cooperative effort whereby Jim uses a roller on an extension pole to apply a first sweeping coat of color, while I perch on the step ladder to 'cut in' along the ceiling edge, trace around doors and windows, or [easing my knees with a foam 'kneeler'] crawl along to paint above baseboards--in the rooms where these were previously installed. 
I usually go through the next day to 'touch up' with a second light rolling of paint where needed.

I have been slowed down a bit by a sore throat/laryngitis which nagged at me for about 10 days.  My voice still has a tendency to croak. 

On Thursday I opened the drawers which hold my 'good' table linens and discovered that traces of  pale powdery mold had invaded even there. I understand that we are not alone in combating this annoyance in a season of high humidity and pervasive damp. 

I have swabbed book covers, leather shoes and jackets, the edges of leather chairs, peered at the underside of table leaves, in this battle which seems to be a common aspect of life in the 'south.'

The drawers of the linen chest have been scrubbed set out to dry on the porch, the linens laundered, pegged out on the lines, put through a tumble in the dryer for good measure.
I've not had time to iron them, nor fold them back into the drawers.
I have read of 'airing cupboards' in English houses--perhaps I need such a space.

For much of the past week we have picked our way around displaced furniture in the living area and back hall.
Jim has applied a plaster 'texture' which must dry for a day before it can be lightly sanded, primed, and then painted. By doing it in sections, I can be applying primer while he goes on to another expanse of wall. 
On the third day [does this sound like a creation story?]  we can do our painting routine.

I had cherished the idea of installing paintable beadboard wainscoting. Jim looked the situation over and declared that beadboard couldn't be neatly fitted without removing all window and door trim and baseboards--which put paid to my vision.
We applied the darker paint--a golden olive--to the lower area of the walls and the lighter paint above .  Jim then created a narrow 'chair rail' of clear pine.  The lighter paint is off-white with a delicate tint of yellow/green such as one sees at the heart of a creamy-white flower.
I pondered over some 2 dozen paint samples of each color before I found the two which will compliment my curtain fabric. 
[Eventually there will be photos.]

Jim also constructed a medicine cabinet for the downstairs bath, utilizing the sliding mirrored doors from a quite ugly one which had been left here in a bedroom.

It should be noted that [finally!] this week we closed on the sale of the Bedford stone house which we bought and refurbished last summer.
The details of the sale spun out over three months due to the incompetence of the lending agency which the buyer used. We signed four extensions to the sales contract.
Buyers, sellers, and the two realtors involved, began to despair that the closing of the 
sale would take place. 
The new owners are obviously a couple who will take good care of the property, and are already talking with enthusiasm of the garden they will plant next year.
So, relief on that score after many times of downing paint brushes to rush to town and sign forms.

On Friday morning I sat in my rocking chair, a shoe dangling from one hand and declared to Jim that I hadn't the heart to paint yet another wall.
We decided we had earned a day off!
With two newly painted bedrooms to furnish I have wanted to find pieces which would serve as bedside tables. 
I suggested that a trip to Peddlers' Mall would be a pleasant outing.
I hoped to visit another area consignment shop as well;  that one had a 'closed for vacation' card on the door.
Peddlers' Mall, like any such indoor flea market, may feature anything from the sort of woebegone wares which I term 'early house trailer trash' to nice vintage bits and pieces. There are several larger stalls that I visit first.
In the one closest to the entrance I pounced on a vintage washstand which had been artfully refinished in a deep plum color with the top painted in a 'crackle finish' to resemble marble.  While I could have done without the faux marble look, I was taken with the freehand decoration of green vine and delicate white blossoms which traces the edges of the drawers.
The washstand came home with us as did a less distinguished but useful piece--an end table which had been painted flat black and 'distressed'--a bit rough and ready, but sturdy and will not look out of place to hold a bedside lamp and other essentials.
My last find was a quilt rack, plain and sturdy, painted a pale grey. 
I will repaint it in flat black or my favorite dark red.  At $9 it was a bargain!
A treat of ice cream and homeward we came.
I informed Jim that I am a woman easy to please in terms of shopping trips!

Today Jim has applied texture to the remaining stretch of hallway at the front of the house.
That leaves only the wall behind my desk which extends along in back of the woodstove. 
Upstairs the small room designated as my sewing room needs wiring and painting.
Perhaps most tiresome will be the painting of the kitchen ceiling.
We rejoice that the end of painting in this house is at hand.

I have gone on rather tediously about these matters, mostly because I need to look back and see that the swift passing of August has had purpose and accomplishment as well as 
frustrations and weariness.

The sun has shone more often than not.
There are wildflowers to enjoy as I walk along the lane.
The hummingbirds still buzz around the feeder at the end of the porch--although they are less vociferous than earlier.
Mornings are misty and cool.
Soon there may be time to enjoy this home, to sit back and admire the results of our labors.

Both the black and the yellow swallowtails are in abundance here, hovering over the wild plants flowering along the hedgerows and the edge of the stream.

Several of these distinctively marked blooms appear in the tangle of wild morning glory which drapes the lowers branches of the willows near the brook.

Many of the swallowtails are tattered and faded.

After a slow start in the over-whelming heat of early summer, the butterfly bush has asserted itself with panicles of fragrant bloom.

A brilliant cosmos from last summer's saved seed.

The common pink cosmos--pretty against the rough grey of railroad ties that form a retaining wall at the foot of the garden.

This brilliant one is from a new packet of seed.

Achillea in a brilliant red which fades to a gentler hue.

Tickseed [?] 

I don't have an identity for this daisy-flowered weed which billows at the edge of the now dry brook.

Dwarf Michaelmas daisies hurriedly thrust into the edge of the herb plot last October.

The rugosa by the concrete landing below the side porch.

Lavender and sage are holding their own in the gravel-mulched bed which Anna Miller prepared.

One of Anna's cockscombs favored by a Painted Lady.

Willis [of course] who appears whenever I work or prowl about outdoors. 


  1. Dear, dear Sharon ~ I thoroughly enjoyed reading this post and seeing the photos of blooms, 'flying flowers', and of course, sweet Willis.

    You two have really had a productive August and pretty soon all of this hard work will be behind you and you can enjoy this winter making this house your 'home sweet home'.

    I look forward to pictures of your home and of all of your projects.

    Have a great week ~ Love & hugs ~ FlowerLady

    1. Rainey, You know from experience that a good deal of labor goes into renovating and keeping up a home.
      I hope we can adjust to having the house finally settled! The garden work will be delayed for another spring--something to look forward to.

  2. WOW ! I am really impressed. Doing physical labor in August heat is yeoman's work, indeed. Loved seeing the swallow tails on the Joe Pye Weed. I have been nurturing a small patch of JPW here in our Vermont meadow and this year my efforts have been rewarded. Unlike you, my cosmos have been a dismal failure this year but the cleome and nicotiana have saved the day! The dahlias are in full flower!! Just think soon your labors will be over and you'll be enjoying a cozy winter at you gorgeous farm !!!

    1. Mundi; Joe Pye weed, boneset and purple vervain grew in abundance in the meadows and swampy places near our former Vermont home, Those, along with goldenrod, were the last wildflowers of late summer/autumn. Oh, and the roadside asters--I'm having a nostalgia moment!
      My sister in VT raises lovely dahlias--I should try some here.

  3. Well, give yourselves a pat on the back for all that hard work - you truly deserved that day off and a productive stroll around Peddlar's Mall.

    I love the sound of your colour scheme which is sounding like wild flowers and umbellifer centres. Your Mall bargains will look very at home and I love the sound of the hand painted border.

    Butterflies are scarce again this year (all drowned I dare say in August) and I am envious of your huge Swallowtails. What pretty flowers you have about the place and I expect you have added to them for next year.

    Did the book arrive safely? You've probably said - and I've probably asked - but I have a 3.30 a.m. brain still with me as it's been a Malvern day today.

    1. Jennie; i was remiss in acknowledging the arrival of Poldark--remedied with a quick email to you. I read a few pages while waiting in the car for Jim on Friday--I'm under the Poldark spell again!
      The roadsides are alive with swallowtails this summer, but I have not seen the endangered monarchs.

  4. Glad you got your other house sold, that's always such a worry. You have worked so hard I know it's going to be beautiful, can't wait for pictures.

    1. Janet; The delays in the house sale have been beyond belief--if any of us conducted 'business' as the mortgage lender has done we wouldn't be here. The nerves of the buyers were in shreds with the delays and demands. They mentioned it was a good thing they were not given to 'drink.'

  5. Oh to see a Swallowtail in the wild! We only have one colony here in the UK, in Norfolk which is several hours drive away for me. Painted Ladies we do get. Lovely pictures :o)

  6. CT; Swallowtails are common here--both the yellow and the black. We have seen an unusual abundance of them this summer. Each time we go out with the car we notice swallowtails flying into the windshield--suicide, of course.

  7. Enjoyed this post, and empathized with the labour of painting, - at the same time admiring your colour scheme. I had never really thought about 'airing' cupboards, living in this dry semi-desert land, but can see the need for them in high humidity country. I hope your linens recover....

    1. Hildred; I think your climate is very similar to Wyoming where we lived for 12 years. There was certainly no humidity on even the hottest summer days.
      I have really enjoyed choosing the paint colors for this house--I think they will wear well. The linens are in a basket awaiting ironing and a rather wary return to the dresser drawers.