Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Another photo or two :)

First Icelandic poppy of the year. I loved it so much that I went out the next day and bought two more plants.

Pink! I planted this one just last year!
Have I mentioned yet that I LOVE tulips?


Monday, May 30, 2005

another glorious weekend :)

Saturday - Spent some time with friends doing quasi-Norse things. Vandy allowed me access to her dyestuffs and we tried logwood, bloodrot, and dandelion flowers. I provided fleece and the patience to keep watch on the fires. :)

Logwood - tint of purple, Bloodrot - tint of orange/coffee, and dandelions - tint of yellow. Vandy says if we'd put more time into prep, we would have gotten better colours.

Also spent some time crushing rock ore with the hubby so the boys can smelt iron the way the Vikings did in a few weeks.

Sunday - We got home late the night before so this was a lazy day wandering around getting a few things done here and there.

Monday, which is of course today - I took the day off because I have to get rid of some extra vacation time before the end of June and because the gardens needs me. Or I need the gardens, whichever. :)

Today I finished cutting the lawn for the first time. It's somewhat delayed because of weather and breaking down of lawn mower. Weeded the garden, fertilized the garden. Did the dishes, did some laundry. Went shopping, bought some clothes.

Am I the only woman who feels insulted by the sizing methodolgy being used these days? I consider myself a thoroughly average sized woman, and when I can't fit into an extra large shirt - because it's too small - I'm insulted. And occassionally downright incensed. Do they use 10 year old girls to base the sizing on or what?

Hmmm...ranting. Right then, well, that's it.


Thursday, May 26, 2005

photo blog

Some of the things currently in bloom in my garden:

Muscari, or grape hyacinth.

The daffodils are almost finished but I caught this one on film.

I just this morning had this identified by a coworker who has much more experience in the garden then myself. It's a Japanese Quince.

The Leopardsbane is just starting to bloom.

This strange species pops up everywhere in the yard, but only when we are outside with it, and always seems to come attached with a dog alert and focussed nearby.

Another one just identified this morning as an Anemone. Apparently the underwater creatures have cousins above ground as well - who knew?

Ivy on the house.

This beatiful red and white tulip is one of the new bulbs that I planted last year. It foliage (not seen in the pic) has a white edging to it.

One of the varieties of Primose.

This trio just lost it's petals yesterday, but you can see it captured forever this past weekend. I am very very fond of tulips, after all.

Karen :)

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

weekend in the garden

First let me say - Whew!

We may have bitten off more then we could chew.

  • made shelves for the shed using floor boards for the porch that we ripped up earlier this spring, but first he had to remove all the old nails.
  • converted the hoses so that there is an additional shut off valve closer to where the hose will be used, both front and back of the house.
  • helped me with the movement of newspapers and mulch to next year's new garden bed surrounding the 'tree lane' of the yard.
  • converted the gravel around the elderberry and grape to fresh top soil
  • adjusted the seperation between the elderberry/grape garden and the new patio area that we have yet to get started on
  • cleaned up the mess that we'd been making of the patio area
  • mixed some of the clay soil we'd been getting out of the newly dug up areas with peat moss and fed it back into the garden areas
  • bought more top soil and added it into the new gardens
  • moved the large cement paver under the old porch from one space to another in order to
  • finish off the borders of one of the new garden areas
  • tried to fix the router but failed, and opted for a warrantied replacement, due to arrive on wednesday
  • reconfigured the laptop to dial out instead as a temporary measure
  • fixed the leak in the kitchen drain, again
  • finished the planting of the garlic in the vegetable garden when I took a fit of hysteria on the weeds
  • successfully managed both not to laugh at the blubbering girl who'd just had too much work in the great outdoors and managed to comfort her somehow.
  • dragged the excessive amounts of loose cement bricks and whatnot that the old owners had been hiding under the porch out to the driveway.

Neil still needs to:
  • finish the planting in the new mulching garden area because I don't really want to plant it til next year, but he does, so he has plants assigned
  • finish the shed shelves
  • fix the bathtub tab and crumbling tiles
  • get teflon tape for one of the new outdoor hose taps that is leaking.
  • clean up the mess that he helped to make in the driveway

  • dug up grass (and large amounts of creeping charlie) in nice, neat little squares and threw it over the fence into the driveway
  • added more topsoil to this new garden area
  • planted all of the new herbs from Richters, except the Madder
  • planted all but the garlic in the vegetable garden - rhubarb, tomatos, peppers, peas, beans, carrots (may not work out because the ground is fairly compacted), and corn
  • put those cute little tomato cages over the new tomato and pepper plants
  • washed the dishes
  • added annuals between the new herbs, and around the elderberry and grape
  • yelled at the dog a few times when he ran right through the new herb garden and fledging plants
  • gave up and bought some ugly little white fencing to discourage the dog - he's too pretty to yell at
  • planted a few new perennials in the front garden
  • weeded both of the front gardens of dandelions and forget-me-nots
  • tried not to scream but merely to weed when I encountered yet more, and more, forget-me-nots in the middle of the lawn
  • watered in all the new plants
  • snorted at the Region's new watering bylaws because it still allows people to wash their car (which we don't do) and fill their swimming pools (which we don't have) but god forbid that we water on the day not assigned to us - so okay, I can forego the sprinkler which I admittedly have forgotten sometimes to turn off, but damned if I'm going haul buckets out instead of the hose - and how do they think I'm going to fill said bucket anyway? Let them try to fine me.
  • planted a variety of new bulbs
  • tried to mow the grass but failed when the lawnmower gave up the ghost
  • newspapered and mulched one of the new garden areas

Karen still to do:
  • finish planting the annuals
  • finish digging up grass in one of the new garden areas
  • dig up overcrowded tulips that aren't flowering this year
  • put the 'weed and feed' stuff on the lawn
  • get the lawnmower fixed so I can mow the lawn
  • clean up the mess I made of the driveway

Let me say again, just for the record: Whew!


Friday, May 20, 2005

Mixed reviews

On the Political Front:

Yeah! We don't have to have two freaking elections wasting our tax dollars in the same year. Now maybe Stephen Harper will sit down and shut up.

On Conservative MLA Tony Abbott:

Apparently, the man apologized (both publicly and privately) for his remarks about Belinda Stronach. Kudos to the man for 'fessing up to his own rudeness.

On the Garden :)

I took bunches more pictures last night and I promise I'll have some of them up soon.

I also sprayed the veggie garden with a total wipe-out to kill all the weeds, prepatory to planting this weekend. The product says it has no soil action whatsoever, so there's no need to wait for a long time before planting seeds.

I think next year 'though I'll lay down newspapers and mulch in the fall, so the spring weeds can't pop up at all. It seems like a much more environmentally friendly thing to do.

We can't really rototil in that garden since the 100+ year old maple's roots run throughout that area.

I am itching to plant! And the grass sorely needs to be cut. We've been so busy lately, and the weather temperatures have been sucky until recently, that I haven't had much chance to do the planting. But now it's the official last frost date weekend and I'm raring to go!

I asked Neil to remind me next year not to buy so many plants so far ahead of time, and the poor lad just choked on his snort of laughter. :)


behaviour - a word I just stuck in to find out which language the spell checker is presuming we all speak. American, apparently. I should have known.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005


All I need to do is to quit my job for a little while, and then I'd have the time I need to spend in the garden.

Unfortunately, that's not very likely.

The hubby took me to the nursery last night to buy some annuals. He wanted to get them before all the crowds on the long weekend. It's as likely a story as any. :) I think he just likes to feed my habit. I can see his delighted smile when he watches me finding some new pretty thing to ooh and ahh over.

Unfortunately, I think the crowds had already largely gotten to this nursery - two of the annuals that I wanted were already gone, and they were out of coco baskets in the size I need.

Now on another topic - Belinda Stronach quitting the Conservative Party? It's about damned time. In my opinion, she never belonged there.

But don't get me started on the misogyny being displayed by our so-called civil servants in their varying reactions so far. My favourite is (and I paraphrase in absence of a documented quote) "she's just a little rich girl whoring herself out to the Liberals". This from fundamentalist christian Alberta MLA Tony Abbott. One might tend to think that he'd have more respect for women, as his church at least pretends to espouse.

Diminishing, demeaning, rude and crude. Hmmm...it looks like I got started.

Never mind, that's why I garden. It reduces my blood pressure.


Tuesday, May 17, 2005

gardening is hard work!

I took the day off yesterday to work in my garden. Neil got on a train at 6:30am to go to Toronto for a conference. Since I wanted the car for the day, I had to drop him off there. At that ungodly hour of the morning, on a day off.

But the good news is, that I had another bag of forget-me-nots ready for the garbage pick-up before 8:30am.

Don't get me wrong, they are a beautiful, intense little blue flower in full bloom. But as a species, they are also extremely invasive, and prolific little pains in the ass that when out of flower, can completely choke the life out of a garden. Sometimes gardening is about making hard choices and being mean to otherwise pretty little things.

Speaking of obnoxiously invasive species of plants... I bought some woad at my day trip to Richters. I understand it's invasive and persistent to the point of being declared a noxious weed (illegal to grow) in some parts of North America. But it's history as a source of blue dye that needs to be fermented in stale urine (for the ammonia) just can't be beat. :) So I could be pulling my hair out in a few years over it's invasion of my garden, but we'll see. In the meantime, I should get a few interesting dye baths out of it - stay tuned.

Anyway, back to the day. I also dug up the remaining concrete porch support but had to wait for the Man to return from Toronto in the evening to lift it.

I also dug up all the crocuses from their current location - the plan there is to relocate randomly throughout the yard, add to the front garden, and give away to friends.

And edged all of one of the new garden spaces, and the veggie garden.

In between throwing the ball a billion and one times for the dog. I swear that creature was on some kind of Energizer-bunny battery....he just kept going and going. The routine went something like this - throw the ball, put the shovel in the ground and heave, throw the ball, bend down to pick up the grass and bang it off, throw the ball, heave the grass in the wheelbarrow, throw the damned ball, start all over again, where banging the dirt off the underside of the grass was occassionally relieved by picking crocus bulbs out, throwing the ball, and heaving the bulbs into nearby bucket.

If it had been a stick that fascinated him, I might have gotten a break once in awhile for a bout of chewing on it.

Maybe that's why I'm falling asleep at my desk today - the ball throwing. Not the massive amounts of digging, mind you - it's the ball throwing that's done me in.


Saturday, May 14, 2005

dandelions are evil

Got a late start doing anything productive today because the new laptop is so much fun to play with and it's sucky weather outside. But eventually, I did the dishes, started the first of many loads of laundry and heaved myself outside.

Started out towards the woody area of the yard to bury some trillium bulbs, but got distracted by the forget-me-nots growing in the middle of the grass. I did eventually get the bulbs planted, but also ended up pulling mass amounts of forget-me-nots and dandelions. All in all, nearly two garbage bags of weeds.


Friday, May 13, 2005

Bunch o'Paragraphs

This bunch of paragraphs will be brought to you by Karen's scattered, and occasionally too-busy life.

Let's see now, backing up in time.... on wednesday, Neil and I took the afternoon off of our respective jobs and went up to Richters, just north and west of Toronto.
I bought a rather large supply of baby herb plants, including calendula, st.john's wort, creeping speedwell, arnica, motherwort, woad, weld, madder, goldenseal, wormwood, blue spice basil, golden hops, and.... this is where my memory runs out. The herbs are at home, and I'm not at the moment.

Suffice to say I hope I have enough garden space for it all.

Not that I know how to use medicinal herbs particularily, but I would like to learn someday. In the meantime, I can grow them.

We've been dog-sitting for Neil's mom, and we dropped Shelley off that evening as well. I became quite fond of Shelley while she was visiting and I miss her.

That spinning wheel in the background is some small proof that I actually do have a Fiber hobby. I've been feeling guilty about not fitting it in recently, so for the past couple of evenings, I've tried my hand at plying my first skein on a drop spindle. I'm not sure if I've done it correctly - the S spin and Z spin things give me a headache, but both skeins look good. I need to do more in order to use them in a naalbinding project.

The idea of ever having enough handspun for a weaving project just blows my mind. I just don't have the time to do that much spinning. However did the Norse women manage?

On thursday....we both went back to work, and then in the evening, I spent too much money on other gardening supplies, while Neil played baseball with his company. Or rather, he tried to, but instead partially blew out a knee and is limping around today. *sigh* Men.

And that brings us to today. I'm sniffling with the beginnings of a cold. The frost of the last few nights may not be getting to my plants, but it is apparently getting to me. Neil's back in his office, limping around on the last day of software release. I told him to use the phone to chase people today instead of running around the building to chase people. Software development management - it's apparently something like trying to herd cats.

Neil's off to play with the Ontario Artisan Blacksmith's Association tomorrow, to record the building and successful (we hope, let's keep the fingers crossed) use of a Norse-age iron smelter. I'm going to stay home, nurse my cold, feel miserable for myself, and maniacally plant things. Or mulch things. Or something.

If the temperature doesn't warm up, or if it rains, I might have to do some spinning instead. *gasp*


Tuesday, May 10, 2005


Spring has been springing out in my little part of the world and we finally have tulips! Okay, so we've already had daffodils and crocuses, but I like the tulips the best.

This yellow one is my favourite so far, but there was another one, not quite fully open yet that appears to be pink. I'm looking forward to seeing it tonight when we get home.

Also caught this pic of my dog, Leif, a couple of days ago. It's too silly not to share. :)


Monday, May 9, 2005

The Weather

I don't know whether to say 'damn the weather', or 'wow, dig that weather'. Seriously, I'm mixed up.

Enviroment Canada's WeatherOffice says we're due for frost on thursday evening (low of 0°C). Which really fucks with the plants I planted yesterday and have every intention of planting tonight.

But holy cow, is it ever great right now, and it was fantastic! over the weekend.

Yesterday, Neil expanded the gardens once again, by digging up some grass. I helped a bit, but was really wiped most of the day. Then we planted a few of the hardier purchases.

It doesn't sound like we did a lot, but it sure feels / looks like we did!

I've got to get the camera out and start taking pics of the progress.

This wednesday, we've both taken the afternoon off so we can visit Richters on the way back to his mom's house to return the dog that we've been taking care of for the last week while she's out of town. I'm going to miss Shelly, she's such a shy sweetheart.

Richters is going to be a dangerous place for me to visit. I've already got a growing list of herbs and flowers and books that I'd like to buy there. The big question is... even with all this new garden space, where am I going to plant it all?

Clearly, the Fiber hobby is taking a back seat to the Gardening hobby at the moment.


Saturday, May 7, 2005

Tired now.

Glass bead-making, being a puppy 'mum', thinking about being a real mum, reading, gardening, and of course, blogging. The other hobbies I mentioned yesterday, in case anyone cares, or is actually reading this blog.

I'm tired right now. It's a saturday and we woke up to the alarm. Which is in itself an Evil Thing. But it was for a good cause. We met my parents, and wandered around this nearby town that turns itself into one gigantic yard sale for the day. Many new plants were bought. Much wandering around looking at junk occurred.

And then there was this brand spanking new and gigantic greenhouse that had it's grand opening on the same day, in the same town.


But then I took my parents off to a new (to them) store that specializes in airplane paraphenalia. My dad worked on the Avro Arrow project. He was in heaven, but all he bought was a baseball cap with the Arrow logo on it.

Then we wandered off to the Surplus store next door. Mind numbing amounts of more junk.

And then they wanted to help me weed! Not that I'm complaining much, but at this point, I just wanted to sit down for awhile. Still we got some of it done, and I learned the difference between a violet and creeping charlie.

I've been in heavy vegetable mode ever since they left. Funny how two 60+ year olds can have more energy then their daughter. I miss them.


Friday, May 6, 2005

The Nerve!

My hubby actually had the nerve to suggest to me that if I'm so interested in finding other Fiber Blogs, and if I'm going to have Fiber in my Blog subtitle, that perhaps I should occasionally blog about doing Fiber things. Can you imagine?

Hrumph. ;)

Okay, so here's the scoop. I have a warp-weighted loom gathering dust in the kitchen. That's a picture of me actually using it, as I finish up my previous project, in my profile. It's gathering dust lately because I can't stand the project that's on it now. It's a 2/2 twill, and the sheds don't open very easily.

In rare masochistic moments, I dust it off and weave for a few minute before I remember again why I find it so annoying. In the meantime, it's a good addition to Living History demonstrations. It's so much fun to not wear my glasses (because Vikings didn't have them ya know) and peer at the weaving from 3 inches away. It took me years to try wearing contacts during the demos and then I couldn't understand why I had resisted for so long.

I also crotchet, and naalbind. Naalbinding is loosely described as 'single-needle knitting' but I find it much more similar to crotcheting. Naalbinding is another one of those Viking Era historical textile things, like the weaving on a warp-weighted loom, except that it's much much easier to do. :)

I can crotchet in my sleep, I think. I've been doing it for almost 30 years at this point.

I also spin, on a drop spindle, reasonably well. It can be quite zen-like at times. I'm still learning how to spin on a spinning wheel. I haven't gotten the hang of it yet. I find that the wheel moves across the floor (maybe if I put a rug under it) and I can either draft or tread, but not both at the same time without all my body parts getting confused.

And just this past February, I went to visit a nice lady in Kingston and learned more about shearing Icelandic sheep. I also learned that the so-called "Ban on Canadian beef" by the US is actually a ban on all ruminants (ie. animals who graze for food), and this is also hurting the sheep industry. This news incensed me greatly, since the sheep industry already has a hard enough time of it, especially if their primary focus is the wool, and not the meat.

It almost makes me want to hate the American government. Oh, that's right. I already do. George Bush and his ilk are evil, pure and simple. And half(ish) the population voted them back into office in November.

Ah well, there's still the other half, whom I'm sure are good and decent folk. Or at least I keep hoping anyway.

But back to fiber. :)

I discovered a new blog yesterday - Yarn Obsession - and this lady has a meter on her blog that measures what percentage each of her projects is done. It was very amusing. But I'd have to do mine over a time scale as well to do the loom justice. I'm a little over a third of the way done, but in August, the current project will have been on the loom for over two years.

Why I've bought 5 new sheep's worth of raw fleece since then. :)

And finally, I also do natural dyeing. This can be a very addictive past-time! My hubby bought me some indigo and madder (and more fleece) at Christmas and I promptly set about stinking up the house with dye baths. Mental note: get pics of the dye results.

But it's not entirely over yet! There's more! This year, I've started seedlings of Woad, Madder, Weld, Dyer's Broom and Alkanet so I can learn how to make my own dyestuffs from the plant. I already have Golden Marguerite in the garden from last year, and I just recently learned that I can get interesting results from two of my garden nemesises - dandelion and creeping charlie.

Now, that's just the Fiber hobbies... I actually have other interests once in awhile as well. In short, too many hobbies, not enough time!


Wednesday, May 4, 2005

More on the Top Five!

More of the increasingly-ineptly-named ;) Top Five!

The best places to be on the planet (as yet discovered):

1. My house. :) Picture taken last year in mid-summer last year.

2. My gardens. :) Picture taken in late spring last year.

3. Michigan Womyn's Music Festival

Okay, so I'm not a world traveller yet.

Two reasons why Treheima* is such a good place to be.
1. Leif (aka "Leif the Licky")

2. Ginger (that's my warping she's in the middle of playing with)

*Treheima - bastardized old Norse word for "tree home" or "house with lots of trees". It's the name of our house. See our home website (in the links) for more.


Tuesday, May 3, 2005

Top Five

For no particular reason, and in no particular order, I present: The Top Five lists.

Top Five SciFi/Fantasy Authors (all of whom have several books each, most of which I've read):
1. Gael Baudino (before she lost faith)
2. Mercedes Lackey (pure mind-candy)
3. Joan Slonczewski (because she's not mind-candy)
4. Patricia Kennealy-Morrison (currently missing in action)
5. Rosemary Edghill (for her faith)

Favourite Feminist Writer by far:
1. Kay Leigh Hagan

There's only one in this category, and she's currrently missing in action as well. Is it that unrealistic of me to expect good writers to keep writing and publishing?

Favourite Relatively Obscure Folk Music:
1. Heather Bishop
2. Ferron
3. Jennifer Berezan
4. Rhiannon
5. Lucie Blue Tremblay
6. Holly Near
7. Sweet Honey in the Rock
8. Chris Williamson

Couldn't stop at five. :)

Favourite Mainstream Rock:
1. Tori Amos
2. Melissa Etheridge
3. Indigo Girls
4. Sarah McLachlan
5. Tegan and Sara

Favourite Relatively Obscure Rock:
1. Dead Kennedys
2. Four Non-Blondes (probably defunct)
3. Concrete Blonde (now defunct)
4. Two Nice Girls (also defunct)
5. Lydia Lunch

More tomorrow.


Monday, May 2, 2005

Good news!

The government isn't Evil, only devious.

Turns out I almost missed something on my taxes and where I thought I'd end up owing them too much money, I get a small refund instead. :)

Of course, if they didn't make the damned forms so complicated...

Life is good.


Taxes and weather

Let's just say that the government is Evil, and that the Weather Network betrayed me once again. Although I suppose they did tell the truth in one sense - there was no frost last night. Hail, yes. Frost, no.


Sunday, May 1, 2005

Garden fun!

Things the hubby and I achieved this weekend:
  • We dug up one of the freaking huge cement posts that anchored the porch we destroyed two weeks ago.

  • We lay down newspapers and mulch over some of the grass we want to kill to create new garden space. Neil says "yet more garden space for Karen's obsession".

  • Neil began work on the shelving system for the shed.

  • We more or less finished the dog house ("per the stupid ass SPCA regulations" says the man on the couch"). It'll need some insulation for winter but it's good for the summer.

  • The dog house doubles as a potting bench. :)

  • I trimmed the sage bush and parsley.

  • Threw the ball a few million times for the puppy. :)

  • Tried out the new digital camera we bought yesterday, but have yet to upload the pictures.

Now all I need to do is finish my taxes for the year.