Monday, April 29, 2019

Taking Stock, Indoors and Out

Mayapple grows in clumps along the wooded edge of the ravine.

Springtime, seemingly so tardy in arrival this year, has come into her own. 
Neglecting to record each day in photos and words gives me the sense of changes occurring too rapidly.  The frothy petals of the dogwood have fallen, the redbud bloom is likewise now a memory.

The trees across the lane are fully in leaf, filling the ravine with varying shades of green.
When I find a moment to sit on the east porch, it is only the sudden shaking of a leafy branch that reveals the presence of the squirrels who nest in the treetops. 
If I watch closely sometimes I can see the flick of a fluffy tail as the squirrel leaps from one slender branch to another or scurries down the tree trunk.
The cats sitting on the porch with me often spy the squirrels before I do.

I was disappointed in my photos of the mayapple. The blossoms hide under the 'umbrellas' of the leaves; trying to hold aside leaves and twigs while keeping the camera steady wasn't successful.
I hadn't seen mayapple in bloom during other years.  I suspect the flowers are short-lived. These showed some rain damage, but still a delight to discover.

This mossy rock is lodged near the mayapples.

I strolled down to the burned house site to enjoy the last blooms on the magnolia planted by former owners.
The twisted metal and debris from the burned house was trucked away by a man recommended by our SIL. With the trash gone, Jim used the backhoe to fill in the old foundation with dirt removed from our building site.
The mess left by the former owners has meant more work for Jim, but the results are good.

Walking back to our new house along the edge of the woods that border the north property line, I discovered these plants. The shamrock shape of the leaves suggests an oxalis--but I haven't taken time to research. I'm thinking some of the plants might be moved to create a ground cover nearer our house.

The [somewhat] cleared edge of the wooded ravine to the north.
There is a wide field above the house, but like so much of the landscape here, ridges border the lower part of the property narrowing the open space.

The wind blew on Friday, rippling the long grass in the field, pushing clouds across the sky, creating moving swaths of sunlight and shadow through out the afternoon.

The weather was uneasy on Saturday--the wind had a cold edge.
During the night rain pounded down.

Our neighbor keeps a 'giant jack' whose services are in demand for those who wish to raise mules.
This mare was brought to board and give birth here.
I enjoyed seeing her and her long-eared foal each time we drove past the barn.

I had an errand at the corner store which borders an Amish property.
The attendance at the little schoolhouse has swelled to over two dozen students with the recent influx of Amish families to the neighborhood.
Friday was the final day of the school term, celebrated with a picnic and a ball game to which parents and siblings of the students were invited.
I was intrigued by the gathering and since my camera was in the car, I attempted one discreet zoom shot.

Plants in my makeshift garden are thriving.
I gloat over my five Camelot foxgloves--raised last year from a $3 packet of seed.
Plants of this size, only in the 'lavender' shade, are being sold at Lowes for $15 per pot.
Thus far, two of mine are lavender, two are a deep rose; buds on the 5th plant aren't showing color, but I expect it to be lavender--perhaps the default color.
Today a rummage in the storage trailer finally yielded the packets of saved seeds for which I have been searching.
The seeds from my perennial foxglove [digitalis mertonensis] are labeled 2014, indicating they were gathered from my first Kentucky garden.
The seeds may be too old to be viable, but I have scattered some in a tray of potting mix.

All eight clumps of peonies moved from the farm are in bud.
When I lifted them from the ground there to pot up and move, some bits of the roots broke off--as peony roots will. Not wanting to discard anything that might grow, I tucked the broken bits into the earth--I may have mixed blooms in some clumps as a result.

There are changes in the house as well as in the landscape.
Our SIL, Matt, offered to create our kitchen countertops at his workplace.
I chose a high-end laminate [having decided that solid surfacing was too pricey even at cost.]
Matt notified us last Monday afternoon that the tops were finished and we drove into town with truck and trailer to bring them home.
Matt showed us some of the machinery and work stations at the shop where he works. The tools of the trade perhaps were more meaningful to Howard and Jim than to me, but I was impressed .

Eventually there will be open shelves fitted in the wall corner between sink and stove.
It is an encouragement to see the kitchen nearing completion. It is also incentive for me to finish sorting the pantry and organizing the lower kitchen cupboards.
I haven't taken photos of the work in progress in the lower level of the house.
Jim laid the flooring in the large guest room today.  He and Howard have been creating door and window trim and baseboards from their lumber stash.
The downstairs bathroom is ready for paint and finishing.

Soon the remainder of our furniture and goods stored these many months in the trailer can be brought inside.
I have the greatroom curtains to hem, and today made a successful bid for some coveted Waverly fabric that appeared on ebay.
I consider it a serendipitous purchase as I acquired some of the same fabric nearly 20 years ago when making curtains for our first home in Wyoming. 
With the matching fabric I can now repurpose something previously created and enjoyed.

We are busy, often tired, but there is great satisfaction as we build, decorate and garden, making a home place.

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

A Sense of Renewal

A Mennonite farmstead in the South Fork area.

Spring, arriving slowly and capriciously, found me with a serious lack of energy. There were the lingering physical effects of having hoicked too many heavy boxes while trying to sort through the storage trailer. As well, I felt rather over-whelmed by the need to organize my new house, plan landscaping, make curtains. Rather than accomplishing these tasks I was mostly running in place.

In idle moments I perused nursery/seed catalogs, marking an unreasonable number of plants and seed packets of interest. A realistic look at the mounds of raw dirt to be moved and graded around the house kept me from going online to place orders.
The morning of April 9th unfolded with a blue sky and sunshine. Breakfast and minimal housekeeping finished, I announced to the men that I was heading for my favorite greenhouse/nursery in the South Fork community.

The South Fork area is home to an assortment of Mennonite and Amish groups; the shops and businesses offered by these families are unique.
Life there moves at a slower, 'old-fashioned' pace.
Narrow roads wind up steep ridges, plunge in dizzying bends to run beside small hill farms.
Driving at a cautious speed I enjoy taking my time; around any curve in the road one may encounter a horse and buggy, an iron-wheeled farm tractor, school children on bicycles, dogs, chickens, geese.

Inside the greenhouse the air was warm and steamy. alive with the mingled scents of growing things. 
As I began a slow exploration I felt a change coming over me. Tight muscles began to relax. The megrims of the long winter were banished.

It was too early in the season to buy veg or bedding plants, but after some deliberation I chose three small tuberous begonias, some packets of flower seeds.
I lingered to gently touch and sniff rosemary, lavender, sage, thyme, as I headed outside to the area devoted to shrubs and perennials.
I noted David Austin roses, pots of bee balm, columbine.

Ahead of me on the concrete walk, I saw them--hybrid magnolias.
I have been coveting these, in particular those from the "Little Girl" series.
Online sources listed them in a price range from $40-$70.
Leaning over the group of small trees I noted they were all 'Jane' magnolias--and priced at $18.99 each!  I could barely restrain a whoop of triumph!
I chose two, then galloped to the sales area to ask the young man in charge if he would bring them in for me.
[A concession to the weeks of strained muscles--ordinarily I would have set off lugging them myself!]
With the magnolias safely reserved, I then selected three small 'landscape roses'--with yellow blooms--and a dwarf butterfly bush.

I had considered browsing some of the other shops in the area, but with my purchases stowed in the back of the Honda, I was ready to return home.
Down the winding road, I paused at the intersection long enough to admire another small homestead.

At home I unloaded my treasures, settling the tubs along the east side of the house where the knock-out roses have been living since being presented for my March birthday.

Although both magnolias are labeled 'Jane' one has lighter flowers.

Landscape roses.

'Jane' awaiting planting.

Clematis moved from the farm. 

Poppies self-sown in the tubs of lilies which summered last year on the farmhouse porch.

I'm hoping this dianthus is the heirloom 'Old Vermont.' I moved it from the farm.  The online nursery where I purchased it 2 years ago no longer offers this variety.

Lemon balm spent the winter tucked alongside a shrub rose.

Foxglove 'Camelot.' I have five of these, nurtured from seed last year.
The garden center at Lowes Home Improvement is offering the pale lavender Camelot at $15 per plant!

Peonies survived the move and are flourishing.

The roses and one of the magnolias after a week in place--looking a bit lost in the expanse of raw dirt.
Jim used the backhoe to dig the deep holes and we got them settled in time to be pounded with a weekend of rain.

Today the plants have been mulched.
A mere two weeks have brought changes as spring rushes on. 
The redbud and dogwood have faded, new leaves are screening our view to the south.
Gardening and house finishing continue.
I am pacing myself, realizing that my goals need to be realistic, tempered to time and energy.

Monday, April 15, 2019

April: Reliably Unpredictable

April: Days when the sun rides a bright blue sky; tiny insects buzz through warm afternoons; birds are frantically busy with nesting materials, responding to the primeval need to insure yet another generation of their kind.

Fresh grass springs up replacing the drab brown spears of a long winter.

 Redbud has burst forth with an intensity of color that surpasses former seasons.

Dogwood blooms against a background of redbud and the tender new leaves of tulip poplars.
Both redbud and dogwood are insignificant once their brief time of bloom has passed, slender brittle trees that nearly disappear as more stalwart species spread their canopies of leaves.

The blossoms of redbud creep along branches and twigs.

There have been slow misty mornings giving way to mid day warmth that has prompted us to turn on the car's A/C while running errands. 
Fiery sunsets fade into gentle dusk.

A cloud-filled morning sky.

Sunday morning, after a restless night, I woke before daylight, hearing the pop of distant thunder.  Wind moaned beneath the window pane I had left pushed open a mere inch.
A rising wind brought spatters of rain, a soft arrhythmic thrumming on the metal roof.
I listened for a bit, decided sleep wasn't likely an option.
I showered, pulled on jeans, added a shabby flannel shirt over a long-sleeved, paint-daubed top.
The greatroom was dim, as though the fog outside had seeped through the walls, wrapping itself around furniture, obscuring the view out the windows. 

The cats made their usual rush to the door, but hesitated on the threshold, wary of rain and wind.
Jim made a fire in the woodstove while I rattled about despondently in the kitchen.
Settled at his laptop, mug of steaming coffee at hand, he surveyed the doplar weather map, reported on damaging storms that had roared through areas south of us.

Late in the forenoon the sun came out. 
Clouds, billowing white, but grey edged, charged across a brilliantly blue sky, driven before a steadily rising wind. 
Rain had blown onto the east porch, the west porch was dry.
On the lower walk-out porch, potted plants set along the edge were mud splattered.

The boy cats ventured outside, wallowed through wet pasture grass, plodded back through mud instead of taking to the graveled area.
The air was warm, mildly humid.

During the afternoon Jim decided a trip to Lowes Home Improvement was necessary; dry wall 'mud' was needed, electrical and plumbing bits, a sink for the downstairs bath.
Jim chose a leisurely route that lead through small hamlets, past farms. 
Tree branches tossed in the persistent wind; seed heads, pollen, flower petals sailed through the air.
The digital read-out on the car's dashboard held at 83 F.
Back in the car after an hour and a half in the store, we noted the temperature had fallen to 66 F.

Evening brought a decided chill; wind howled through the treetops. Items not securely battened down tumbled across the dooryard. 
I brought tender plants into the sunroom, moved others to shelter against the wall of the east porch.

Howard, coming back from a foray to his camper in the gusty twilight, informed us that a chunk of the fire-deadened tree near the buried remains of the old cellar hole, had fallen--luckily rolling down the side of the ravine instead of pitching toward the campers.

It was late when I went to my bedroom.  I opened the west-facing window a bit for fresh air, turned out the light. The wind beat against the glass, hummed, moaned, the sound rising to an unsettling clamor. Sighing, I turned on the bedside lamp, stood for a second or two feeling cold air bite through my nightgown, then closed the window, fetched a book to read.
The wind blew itself out toward morning leaving us with a crisply cool bright day.  We've kept the wood fire smoldering against the chill.

The remainder of the largest dead tree--it needs to come down, but an awkward place to attempt a removal.

Afternoon sun highlighting 'Jane' magnolia.

Now, in early evening, sun is streaming through the west windows.
The cats have chosen cozy spots in Jim's bedroom.
The west porch is too chilly to sit there in spite of the sun.
Capricious April is at the halfway mark. We may have cold rain, T storms, blazing sun, high winds or balmy breezes.
 April perhaps more than any other month, is a season of variables and constant changes.

Teasel and Charlie have found spots to nap in the sun.

Nellie has chosen to sprawl on the bed.

Wednesday, April 3, 2019

Lunch on the Porch

I had errands in town today and brought home the makings of sandwiches for lunch;
a roast chicken from the deli, a loaf of French bread, lettuce, tomatoes.
The men have worked during the past week to complete the porches which flank the sun room.
Jim moved chairs and a small table out to the finished east porch while I put sandwiches together.
There was a light breeze and a spill of sunshine.
The cats wandered out to join us, a bit wary of this new space.

The posts and rails are fashioned of tulip polar, harvested here on the property.

Jim shaping the ends of the posts with a grinding wheel
Howard used a draw shave to peel the bark and has also done much of the scribing and fitting of the posts.

With the upper porches finished, the lower porch area can now be tided, the soffit put up, and eventually a clothesline. 

A view of the south-east porch.

The piles of peeled bark represent hours of work to prepare the posts and railings.
One can buy posts and railings premade from the lumber supply--wrought iron, composite wood, pressure treated wood already formed into the components to create a deck or porch.
We knew we preferred the handmade rustic effect, and there is a certain satisfaction in using materials harvested on our own land.

We lingered over this first simple meal on the porch.
I moved my rocker into the rectangle of sun by the corner railing, cherished my mug of honey-sweetened tea.
We had to remind ourselves that there was much left to do and it was time to get back to work!

Monday, April 1, 2019

April: A New Month

The buds of  'Jane' magnolia showed their first hint of color on March 18.
I've seen similar small shrubby trees in yards around town since moving to Kentucky, but in ignorance of their identity referred to them as 'tulip trees' referencing the shape of the opening blooms. Blog friend, Mundi, recognized the variety when I posted a photo of a late blossom or two soon after we purchased our property.

The tree is sited near the original house here which burned to the ground [mysteriously] during the tenancy of former owners.
'Jane' is a bit lop-sided due to fire-damaged branches which Howard pruned for me in the autumn.

The flowers continued to open during the breezy blue-sky days of mid-March.

'Jane's petals strewed on the ground after a night of wind and chilly rain.

March was ushered toward her end on Saturday evening when driving rain blew in.
Thunder rumbled, branches tossed.  It wasn't a threatening wind, but the sound kept me awake for more than an hour, yet when I woke toward morning a few stars rode the night sky.

One of the comforts of having 'my own room' is my choice to keep the curtains open at night.
During the nights when the super moon was waxing toward fullness I found joy in waking to a spill of moonlight across my pillows.
Jim prefers the curtains closed, and usually he wants 'lights out' an hour or more before I'm inclined toward bedtime.
Our arrangement of adjoining bedrooms is working well--and the cats are pleased to have a choice between two occupied beds.

I continue to unpack and attempt to organize household goods, although at a much slower pace than I anticipated. 
I've spent [wasted] hours rummaging in the depths of the storage trailer--usually on a 'mission' for a particular wanted item.
I have shoved at pieces of furniture, heaved boxes and bins  about, much to my detriment.
I have lugged up armloads of belongings from the camper trailer adding them to small desolate heaps of items which haven't yet found a place.
Until the lower level rooms are finished, there is a sense of temporary arrangement.
Eventually, I suspect we will have an excess of furniture to give away.
Yesterday afternoon I persevered and sorted three boxes of toiletries and such that had been 'dumped' in the bathroom.
At the farmhouse I kept two bathrooms fully stocked with toiletries, towels, an extra hair dryer. 
There is now a surplus of all such things awaiting the second bath in the lower level.

Extra sheets, blankets and quilts are stacked on closet shelves or still folded away in rubbermade bins.
Going through my collection of quilts it has occurred to me that I need to use and enjoy them!
Accordingly I spread my bed with a fresh quilt in springtime colors. 

This is what happens to quilts in this house.

The flip side of enjoying my quilts is recognizing they must be frequently laundered--and thus will 'wear out!'

Our neighbor/renter when we owned the Amish farm is a skilled plantsman.
He summers amaryllis bulbs in his garden in rich compost, brings them inside in the fall.
Most of them rebloom.
This lovely amaryllis was a gift from Dawn two Christmases ago.
Thanks to Fred's nurturing I can enjoy it again.
It is living in the sunroom which has been cool enough to prolong the bloom.

The men are concentrating on finishing the porches which flank the sunroom.
Soffit has been stained and put in place, discouraging the wrens who were planning to nest in the eaves.
Today in the trees visible from the porch--and through the great room windows--we have watched a pileated woodpecker going about his business.
I've encountered a pair of bluebirds flitting about as I walked up the lane to the mailbox.

The support posts and railings are being fashioned from trees cut on the property.
The bark is laboriously removed with a draw-shave, then the timbers are shaped to fit.
It is a pleasure to be in the new house.
I have to remind myself that the hours of each day--to say nothing of my stamina--are not sufficient for me to do all that I see needing done to make the settling in process complete.
I've unearthed some favorite books [in the last box I heaved out of the stack!]
and I'm allowing myself some [nearly] guilt-free time to collapse into a rocking chair, with books, mug of tea and whatever cat wishes to keep me company.
Eventually the work will all get done--or I will decide some of the tasks aren't really necessary.