Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Color Week: Orange

Quiet morning at the house, after a trying night and the descent of frost as promised. We covered the garden for it, but we'll see what we find under there when it's warm enough to look...

Tomorrow is red/pink...

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Color Week: Yellow

Tuesday Tuesday! Freakin’ chilly here this morning. Mountain weather, I tell you, you just never know. They are still nattering about frost tonight.

I realized that with all the Chicken Excitement and Spring Garden Action, I haven’t said much about books or other fun stuff. So just in case you think I forgot how to read, I finally read this, because I was tired of saying that I hadn’t. Ugh. I get in trouble for saying mean things about books sometimes (note to authors: don’t vanity google if you can’t hang with the snarks) so I have chilled out in that department a little, but let’s just say that I nodded in agreement when I read the NYT review that described the writing as “serviceable.” To which I would add predictable. Also read this, which I definitely enjoyed even though it was not super detailed. He just visits a bunch of different kinds of farms all over the place. Man, note to self: fruit farming sounds hard. Very inspiring though. Film-wise, lately we are back to the classics, after several strikes in the new releases department. Strangers on a Train was this weekend, and oh man, that carousel scene is absolutely amazing. My favorite so far though, was Cat on a Hot Tin Roof. So. Damn. Good.

Ok, on to the real matter at hand: lovely Leya’s Color Week continues, and today is yellow…tulip above from the front yard.

My plea for mulch resulted in this gorgeous bale of straw – the garden is so much brighter with this all tucked in the rows.

Some of you have seen this picture before, but I got to drive this truck last year at B’s birthday party and now I wish it was all mine!

Speaking of the man, here we are just before heading out to a wedding this weekend. I have to confess, I was extremely skeptical of this shirt when he tried it on. But when he puts it on I swear the cheer factor goes through the roof wherever we go and now I am all about the yellow shirt.

Tomorrow, pinks and reds…

Monday, April 28, 2008

Color Week: Green

Good morning kiddos. Rainy rainy rainy here…rain the day after planting is such good fortune. The new neighbors were holding court in their driveway at 6, probably unaware that our heads were about five feet from them. I am no good at getting back to sleep these days, a gift from my Mum and my Gran before her. Ladies, I bet we are all up at the same ungodly hour more than we know. Plus I heard on the radio that it might frost tomorrow night! No. Way. I will wail and gnash teeth, I really will. Actually, everything will be just fine except my Runner Beans Round Two. Which, I should state for the record especially after being chastised on the telephone by certain persons, are a very early, cold loving kind of runner bean. But not frost loving. Maybe I will cover them each with a yogurt container. They are much smaller than the casualties were last time, which I think is good as there is less fleshy leaf to get nipped.

But enough of all that! The lovely Leya is having a color week, and after watching the fun in years past, I decided to join in. Today is green, green, green, the favorite in this girl’s book. The photo above is our last bowl of winter greens picked just before cleaning out the beds yesterday. Well, we left the spinach, but everything else is kaput.

Are these green or blue? I don't know, but that's why I love them. French lentils, the perfect lentil if you ask me.

Nasturtium volunteer.

One of our first wedding gifts, from Aunt Kelli and Uncle Matt. We love it and them to the moon and back.

The compost pile, after cleaning almost everything out of the garden yesterday. I was really hanging onto this stuff because I wanted to be able to feed it to the chickens, but I really needed the garden back. So far the girls are just beginning to get interested in greens; at first they just tromped right over them and I was like “Honey, the kids are not eating their vegetables.” But yesterday I threw in some spinach and bok choy and lettuce thinnings and they ate about half of it. Anyway, suffice to say that when they are all grown up there will be a lot less green going into the compost bin, but for now there it is all gorgeous right before it heads back to dirt.

Happy Monday all. Stay tuned, tomorrow’s color is yellow.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

From Zero to One Hundred

Yesterday morning I went out to cruise the garden with a cup of tea, and low and behold the damn leeks were up. I direct seeded two kinds about two weeks ago, and I say damn for a reason; after seeding them, I started hunting around for information about growing leeks from seed outside, and the news was not great. A lot of "not worth it" and "chancy" and "long germination time" and evidently you're supposed to put the seeds in the fridge first and oh, it was doom and gloom. So I panicked. And I ordered leek starts. It's true that we don't work this garden entirely out of a desire to save money, but it's certainly part of it, and I will confess that here and there when plonking down money for a truckload of mushroom compost or a wheelbarrow, I've thought to myself, "Think how much we'll save on produce!" And by this I mean leeks. This girl loves her some leeks, and blasted if they aren't expensive, especially in the winter. So the thought of not having any leeks to show after our first summer garden was too much to bear, and I sucked it up and bought $10 worth of starts. Which, despite the description indicating that it would be 60 starts, turns out to be about three times that many. They arrived yesterday afternoon, so at about 3:30 in the afternoon we were the proud owners of 40 leek seedlings already in the ground and 180 leek starts in a box. So, yeah, we have about 100 leeks out there now, and we're calling it quits there. The rest of the box will go to good homes down the street and across town.

The whole snafu did result in B. extending all three garden beds by another four feet though, which is pretty much better than Christmas to me because now I am pretty sure we can fit everything in, including the tomatillos and cukes and peppers and enough tomatoes to maybe do some canning, which I am even more eager to do after reading this article - I knew about the plastic bottles but had no clue about the cans. I really need to get my Gran or my Mum to teach me how to use my pressure cooker so that I can make beans that have evolved out of the rock family and into the digestible family.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Backyard Bender

Hey hey out there. Long work week around these parts, but headed to a wedding tonight and tomorrow B. and I have a date to hike in the Arboretum, ‘cause every spring thing is blooming like crazy, like our columbines above and below.

Lesse. The garden is growing along, although much slower than our first garden last fall. I am guessing that this is because the soil has not been warmed all summer, thus providing a super toasty germination temperature, not to mention the whack everything took when things got nippy a few week ago. We also need some mulch, as I ran shy of straw and my beds are drying out too much during the day. B. started some leaf mulch for me, but since it’s mostly oak and pretty fresh I am not sure if it is mulch suitable. Anyone? I have been reading a lot about soil lately, which is kind of late since everything is planted, but I have big plans for next time the beds turn.

Speaking of mulch, B. recently did one of his numbers on the back yard. I swear that guy just kind of goes on these benders out there. First he trimmed the hell out of the pines that run along the side of our backyard. We have talked a lot about wishing those pines would dig themselves up and walk over to someone else’s yard as they are super tall and very gangly and their long lower branches were just starting to take prisoners back there (think here of lilacs cowering in fear). Not anymore though, I just up and came home one day and our yard seemed twice as big. Fantastic, and now we are going to run the chickens down this side of the yard. Not content to stop there, B. wrangled a retractable clothesline for me, which made my damn day. Few feelings as lame as turning on a big honkin’ dryer when it’s a beautiful day outside. Plus, hanging wet laundry and folding dry laundry fall into the category of house tasks that I enjoy. Last but not least, B. created our very own mulch yard behind the garage. Take a look:

So, er, in case it isn’t immediately obvious: from left to right: hot compost, ready to use compost (we have a lot of that since we bought several cubic yards for the garden last fall, but B. is going to make me another bed and most of it will go there), chopped up and beginning to break down leaf mulch, and all the other leaves that dropped off of the huge black oak we share with a neighbor, which we will eventually chop up and add to the third bin. Pretty pro, no? One of the things that I love most about our garden is that neither one of us would have gotten our act together without the other. We kind of trade the enthusiasm baton around, if you know what I mean. I am much more of a get out there every day and examine every little thing kind of gal (I pick Cabbage Looper eggs almost every day, I know the neighbors think I am a freak out there with my face about a foot away from the seedlings), but B. is totally the guy who will dig you five gaping holes for new blueberry plants the very second they arrive in the mail (plus, he thins and prunes, which I suck at). Pretty damn swell. In fact, here is some proof of his superior thinning/pruning, a big glass of blueberry blossoms, which I KNOW we have to pick off in order to promote root growth but I still hate to do it!!!

Lastly, holy cow, the chicks are growing every day. Their tiny little wings are popping out and they are getting puffier and puffier, and they have not stopped being hilarious for one second. Lessee, they finally discovered the roosting stick B. put in, so now they hop on there, sit for a second, and kind of hop/fly off. Reminds me of how my childhood best friend Rachel and I would jump off the front porch while holding an umbrella for, er, hours. They have also all discovered the Turbo Charge, as B. calls it, where they run really fast and then flap their wings some and then usually crash into each other. Awesome. The best though, was last night when B. went out into the garden and gathered up a bunch of mealy bugs and started tossing a few into the box. First, they were all very much like, “what the…?” and would all gather really close to it and then suddenly all run away from it like they had decided that it was Just Too Scary. After a lot of this, one of the Barred Plymouth Rocks finally went in for the kill. And oh my god, panic prevailed after she finally got the sucker in her mouth. All the chicks suddenly wanted some of what she had, and they chased her around and around until she finally dropped it in the corner and gobbled it up. But when another one arrived, same thing, everyone thinks the bug is scary, our brave girl finally grabs it, they chase her, etc. I think she ate about 10 mealy bugs, although I think the Buff Orpington and the Rhode Island Red might have gotten one by the end. The entertainment just does not stop.

Hey, this is really long and I’m not sure if anyone is even reading at this point, but I have started trying to research making our own chicken feed. Since we don’t have the room to grow our own grain, we will need to buy it, and from what I can tell, organic feed grain is definitely cheaper than organic humans-are-gonna eat this grain but I am not sure where to get it… Anybody out there tried this before?

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Watching Chick TV

Ahhhhhh! Holy crap, these chicks are hi-larious. Like side splitting, make your face sore kind of hilarious. The postmaster called me midday yesterday, a whole day earlier than we had any right to expect them, and my absolutely fantastic co-worker sent me out the door with a flap of her hand that very moment (love you Liza!), so these ladies were probably less than 24 hours in transit. I wandered through the main mail sorting facility for Western North Carolina (um, woah, I love places like that, hello conveyor belt) until I found Wayne, who disappeared somewhere and returned walking Very Slowly as if carrying either a Time Bomb or the Queen’s Jewels. Seriously, he was so gentle and careful with the box, I was so touched that between him and the sound of eight little peepers in this tiny white box, I very nearly cried right then and there. Man, were they peeping. You can right away tell the difference between an annoyed peep and a super duper freaked out peep, and I was relieved that it was mostly annoyed peeps coming from the box. We zoomed home and I sort of prepared myself for the worst before I opened the box – one, I have opened a cat carrier after flying a cat from the east coast to the west coast (you could not pay me to do that again) and two, the folks we bought our chicks from warn you that sometimes they don’t all make the journey. Yay for pleasant surprises. All eight of them looked great, and they were not pasted up, thank you very much. One by one I picked them up and gave them the once over, and plunked them down in the toasty chick box. I swear, right away they have personalities. There are two dopey ones – I watched one of them do an accidental summersault as it fell asleep – there is one that likes to suddenly rush from one side of the box to the other, there’s one who keeps pecking the side of the box; you get the idea. You can tell that they are already figuring out who gets to boss who around, pretty funny. They are oddly independent of one another for a while and then all of a sudden it is Time for Everyone to Have a Drink of Water. No way that this is funny to read, but trust me, super funny to watch.

I am reminded that chicks only get less cute, like a lot of animals I guess, so we are absolutely soaking up the cuteness while it lasts. I’ve met a lot of chickens that are very skittish, and I am hopeful that by spending a lot of time with the chicks they will be less so. Right now we are not handling them a lot because you can tell that it stresses them out and after such a big trip they need some recoup time. If we put our hands in really slowly, they’ll wander up and hop on for a ride.

In case anyone else out there is after some chicks, I’m just saying that the folks at My Pet Chicken are absolutely awesome. They are one of the few places that don’t have a 25 chick minimum, and their customer service is totally hands on and friendly. Plus they have this great chicken tool that helps you figure out what breeds will work for your climate and any other things you think you need, like hens that will get broody or blue eggs or whatever. All that AND their website reads like someone smart and funny wrote it, bonus! Anyway, we ordered five different kinds of chicks and we are pretty sure that we know who is who.

Umm, I have other things to say but right now we are All Chicks All the Time so it will have to wait.

The whole crew. That's a lot of chick butts there, I know. It feels a little weird to have them inside when it's so dang nice out, but with no Mama Hen to keep them warm we have to keep them cozy some other way. Soon though!

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Chicks in the Mail

Hey Ho. T-minus something very small until chick arrival. Woohoo. Last night we set everything up and made sure that the lamp would keep the box warm enough, etc. We are now just waiting for the phone call from our friendly Postmaster, who himself seemed very excited that we were getting chicks.

Speaking of making friends due to livestock: did anyone read this article? Michael Pollan’s latest New York Times piece. I read The Botany of Desire several years ago but I’ve only leafed through his books since then. The Botany of Desire is definitely a natural history page turner, a fantastically researched book, but I did not find myself at all moved by his overall assertion that plants use us much like we use them, and, well, for some reason I found myself kind of annoyed by his authorial voice or whatever you want to call it; a feeling that has stayed with me through most of his op-ed stuff even while I am totally cheering on whatever he’s writing about. This piece is more of the same – of course I am really into the idea that people should try growing their own foods. Everything he lays out at the end has been true for us: growing your own food is cheaper, you get great exercise, your neighbors come over and chat you up, the food you grow tastes better, you feel a connection to nature that is in a totally different league from being a weekend hiker, and people get inspired by seeing someone else walking out of the garden in December with a huge bowl of greens (our neighbor on the right borrowed the tiller we rented last summer and put in her own small front yard plot and the people who just bought the house next to us confided that they were worried about putting their garden in their front yard until they found a house next door to someone who had already shocked the neighbors). I think it’s his discussion of virtue in this piece that is annoying me (that, and the concept of the “evil Chinese twin” undoing all his virtuous acts – hello, this is not how we need to be talking about this issue). Different definitions of virtue talk about an “admirable or commendable quality” or a “conformity to a standard or law of right.” The admiration thing sort of suggests that there is an external audience aspect to virtue (annoying) and the law of right certainly suggests that with virtue comes the strong potential for implicit judgment (also annoying). This particular kind of annoying is possibly familiar to someone who has spent time in circles of people who are Very Vegetarian or Vehemently Vegan or Ardent Bicycle Commuters or what have you. All I can say is that for some people, being in the presence of “virtue” makes them want to join up and get some of their very own virtue, and for others (er, that would be me), it makes them itchy and scratchy and very inclined to eat bacon and ice cream. Obviously, there are limits to everyone’s contrary streak, but I guess what I’m talking about is the social aspect of these decisions, and how easy it is to get all jazzed on your own personal decisions about how to live lightly on this earth and not realize that you might have moved from enthusiasm for your own decision into lameness about other people’s decisions. I don’t know. If someone asked me what the main reason was for why I was hellbent to have a garden, I would tell them that it was because I just love spending time with plants and dirt. The chance to observe the life cycle of a plant is just so cool to me, and to be the caretaker of that cycle is something that just makes me feel fantastic. I know that this great feeling I have about it is definitely related to the “virtue” of local gardening, no doubt. But there are other ecologically responsible things I could be doing that I don’t, for various reasons, one surely being that for me, those things don’t hit me where the garden thing does. Anyway. God, can you tell that it’s been years since I’ve written a paper? This is totally a C paper. Yeesh. I guess I am saying that in the personal sphere you catch more bees with honey, by going about executing your personal decisions with more of an attitude of fun and love and enthusiasm, virtue shmirtue. Right. Anyway, I know he was writing about lots of other things, and damn, this issue is very complicated (the thing about walking making you hungry so you eat more killed me), but, well, this is my post about why his writing sometimes bugs me, so there.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

I Love Mail and Farm News

Heya hi. Can I just start this post by saying how much I love mail? And how lucky I am to get a lot of it? First, getting the wedding rsvps is a hoot. It’s kind of like an amateur psychology experiment – send the exact same thing out to 70 people you know with three lines for writing on and plenty of room for doodling and then peer in your mailbox for daily fun (so far only one brave couple has defaced (read: drawn saddles on) the chickens, and just for anyone else out there reading this who has yet to send theirs back: more!). Secondly, my sartorial friend forever just landed a box on my front porch with like six potential wedding day dresses. I was a tiny bit sad when I put them on in front of the hallway mirror that she wasn’t there to, you know, zip me up and tell me which ones made my butt look big, but a girl cannot help but enjoy twirling around in handpicked goodies. And then my sweet mama ordered these awesome books for us, in anticipation of the crew of lady chicks set to arrive here in less than a week:

We are now busy learning a lot of chicken trivia. Did you know that they don’t sweat? But that they breathe a lot, more than any other animal when size is accounted for? Or where chicken earlobes are located? Invite us over for dinner, there’s more where that came from! When we heard how long it was actually going to take for our chicks to arrive, we had to kind of chill on the chicken excitement. But with supposedly less than a week to go, we are back at it.

Lastly, true to threat, it really did frost last night. Let me just prepare you: there were casualties. Some appeared to be frost related, and others looked like they were smooshed by the frost blanket we put over the beds for protection – along with low temperatures it has been extremely windy, so the blankets did a fair amount of damage in its own windswept way. Anyway, we had real farmer friends over for dinner this weekend, and one of them told me that if you aren’t losing some crop to frost, you aren’t planting early enough. Well, we are set in that department. First, the troopers:

Forellenschluss, an Austrian heirloom lettuce with deep speckles. Fit as a fiddle this morning, how pretty, no?

Red Russian Kale. We are still eating our winter crop of this and I swear it is tougher than nails.

The Painted Lady Runner Beans. Oh girls, I am so sorry. You got all dressed up and lovely and then this. It’s all my fault, your beany selves were just so pretty I could not wait. I planted two rows of these in different spots, and one faired far worse than the other. I sadly pulled out the really bad looking row, and started to pull the second slightly better looking row and just couldn’t do it. I swear, my plant empathy is a serious disorder. So I replanted the first row with a new handful of beans and told the second row, in a really firm voice, “You have a week to recoup or it’s into the compost with you too.” I will keep you posted, I know you are all weeping right along with me. Here is a pretty amazing picture though – I could not believe how big the bean body had gotten down there in the dirt:

Ok. All for now, be well out there.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Weekends at Our House

Hey out there. Monday Monday. How were the weekends? See above for some of ours, my vantage point from behind the banjo, just after this breakfast:

Blueberry waffles with raspberry sauce and yogurt. Oh lordy. A yummy breakfast and morning tunes make for a happy girl.

Been reading this, almost finished but not nearly sure where it’s going even so. Watched this. Don’t laugh! B. had never seen it, and even though I am now 20 years older than I was the first time I saw it, it still rocks and you can’t tell me any different. Ben did point out that the film has a totally bizarre and extremely disorienting combination of oldies hits and really bad eighties tracks. It's literally "Hey Hey Baby" to "She's Like the Wind" in under 60 seconds. Woah.

Looks like we’re in for a dogwood winter around here after all. It can’t possibly be as bad as last year, when it came after a super early very warm spring, but I’m still worried about our blueberry bushes and the lilac buds and such. We got out the old frost blankets and covered the garden beds and some of the flowers that can’t be moved but a lot of stuff is just gonna have to grin and bear it. We were planning on picking off most of the blueberry blossoms anyway, and frankly I suck and pruning and thinning so maybe Jack Frost will just do the dirty deed for me. Anyhoo. I hope everyone has a fantastic week out there.

The delphinium now.

Baby bok choy and spinach.

One of the many bulbs that I cruelly planted in very sandy soil. I will dig you up and move you, I promise!


Here are the Painted Lady Runner Beans now.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Moving Time

Well, after years of blogging here I have finally moved the blog to its own home. Miss Rachel is going to be the sole Bees Knees gal starting soon so it seemed time. I moved a small amount of the old content over; mostly just the posts with pictures I couldn’t bear to delete. Some of the recipes didn’t have very good photos so they didn’t make it, but now that we have summer light I will again attempt to conquer Food Photography Without a Flash. Not for the faint of heart.

Anyhoo. Don’t anyone fret out there about Rae and me – we are still fast friends, but the two sides of the country thing just kind of got the best of us. Keep buying up her cute clothes, ok?

It’s been so beautiful in Asheville that we hardly know what to do with ourselves. So much is blooming and sweet smelling, I am a rubbernecker for big flowering trees, I hope I don’t smash anything before spring turns to summer. This morning I dug trenches and planted our leeks. I am direct seeding them and supposedly they are finicky, so wish me luck. I think I spend a small fortune on leeks every year, so I am really excited to grow them. We are almost out of room in the garden though! We have seeded almost the whole thing and still need to find room for peppers, tomatoes, and cucumbers. I might have to give up on making pickles this year…

Above and below are some photos of our wedding invitations; I figure that by now they have gotten where they were going. It’s been so fun to get rsvps back in the mail. I love mail!

Newsy News

April 2008

Monday Monday Monday. How were the weekends out there? We had a rainy Saturday around here, but we adventured anyway (I drove a scooter!), and then Sunday was beautiful and sunny and lovely and long.

I realized the other day that I am in serious danger of being this kind of garden dork:

Friend: “Hey, how are you?”
Me: “The peas are up!”
Friend: “Umm, neat, er, so what did you do this weekend?”
Me: “I looked at my peas! Hey, and all the greens and beans we planted are up too!”

So, umm, rather than telling you how excited I am that the garden is taking off all over again, I’ll just not and share some weekend pictures.

Perennial Batchelor Button – the honeybees from down the street love this one.

The backyard is a dandelion carpet.

Beet risotto from the fall beets that are still out there in the garden.

Curtains. F-ing curtains. The truth is that I suck at sewing. I am inclined to be a perfectionist sometimes, but I know just about enough about sewing to turn my sewing machine on. Bad combo. I do a lot of cursing and sighing. A lot. Every time I make something, I think, “That’s it! I’m never making ____ ever again!” But then B. will paint the bedroom thus necessitating the removal of the ancient and dust encrusted plastic blinds, and I will spend a few weeks confirming that all prefab curtains are ugly and then I will hunt for fabric and then the fabric will come and sit there staring at me threateningly and then finally, weeks and weeks later I will sit my butt down at the sewing machine and proceed to spit nails. Anyway, these are two sided curtains, in an attempt to block the streetlight outside and likewise spiff up the street view. Now that it’s all said and done, I am pretty happy with them.

Lastly, here are photos of what the painted lady beans are doing now. They are the pretty beans in my hands below. I know I am a sappy geek, but I think it’s the neatest thing ever that one can hold a big old hard bean in your hand one day, and a week and a half later have a bean plant in your garden.

Oh, wait, really the last thing: I made this banana cake this weekend, without the caramel topping and with chopped ginger and chocolate and I will never make banana bread again! The cake was so tasty and moist and light and it doesn’t have any more butter in it than most banana bread recipes (ok, maybe a little more, but butter is your friend, seriously).

That’s it. Really this time. Be well out there.

Spring, Springer, Springest

March 2008

Well friends, I made a serious tactical error this weekend. All I meant to get was bean and pea inoculant. Which I did get. Along with a huge delphinium, two columbine, a perennial bachelor button, an enormous mountain lupine… You get the drift. It was sunny and super warm and the garden store was just flush with gorgeous plants. So I splurged and then I spent Saturday planting and potting, only to check the weather Sunday night and see that we were in for two nights of 26 degree weather. Sorry little columbines! Fortunately, B. is unfailingly can-do about pretty much anything involving our world of flora, and my guy got out there and covered all my pots and the planter box with a frost blanket and our garden plastic (which I had just put away for the season, thank you very much). Word from the old farmer that lives next door to a friend is that this was the last cold push, here we come spring. Good thing because I spent Sunday seeding about a third of the garden.

Painted lady runner beans. Delphinium in the background.

Grape hyacinths, volunteering in the backyard.

Spring pink.

Blueberry buds. All five bushes are stretching their legs.

Chicken Coop Tales

March 2008

Hullo out there. Happy Spring, all.

Speaking of chickens, we still don’t have ours. They are on backorder, if you can believe that. They are telling us another week and half. It’s killing us! Oh well, it still feels pretty chilly here, and these baby chicks will not have a mama to sit on ‘em and keep them warm, so perhaps the delay is for the best.

In the meantime: a few days after Rachel’s weddings, one of her friends sent me an email saying that she had something for me. It was very mysterious. I think she used the words “horribly terrific” and she said that she thought of me right away when she saw it. Everyone knows that I am a total pushover for packages in the mail, so I could hardly wait to see what the surprise was. Well, I tell you, I wouldn’t have been able to guess this if you’d given me 50 shots. Inside the package was an enormous rubber chicken purse. Yep, rubber chicken purse, you heard me the first time. I nearly died laughing. These kinds of things are love or hate. And I freakin’ love this chicken purse.

But the story is not over. For a while the chicken just sort of moved around the house in various comical locations. And then, you know, life happens and as far as I knew the chicken was hanging on the back of B’s study door. And then I looked out the window, prepared to cast the empty chicken coop a look of longing and prepared to sigh my “damn I wish the chicks would get here” sigh, and there was the chicken, in the coop. Just sitting there all chicken like. See for yourself:

Thanks for the package Shanna, you knocked my socks off!

Bowls and Paper and Peas

March 2008

Hey again out there. Lordy, I have felt so busy lately, but in a really good way. Spring is practically humming under my feet. We are peering at our blueberry bushes (we have tiny, tiny leaves on our early fruiting kind!) and putting the early peas in and saying goodbye to old broccoli plants. I am crazy about this end of the time change, all that daylight left after getting home from work! I am a girl who fades when the sun goes down, especially when it’s cold, but give me daylight and warmer temperatures and I will garden and prune and cook and read and ride bikes and play tunes and and…

Lessee. Here are some pictures of a bowl I made a few weeks ago. Let me tell you, pottery is about getting used to disaster. And the unexpected. I think I made three bowls that I actually liked, and the rest should be used for target practice. Yeesh.

In other excitement around the house, B. and I made our wedding invitations this weekend. We borrowed a Gocco printer from a friend of a friend and turned the study into a mini print shop. Gocco printers are something I had only read about, and I thought that I wanted one but wasn’t sure if it was going to be the sort of thing that just sounded really neat but I never got around to doing (like, ahem, knitting, which I really do enjoy but never ever seem to have time for). Now that I have laid my hands on a Gocco, I am in love. Totally nifty, kind of like a silkscreen for little paper projects. Plus, as it turns out, B. is an excellent drawer of things. Which is especially fabulous because I am not. I wish I saved the piece of paper with my “I think it should look like this” drawing on it, because it would surely make you giggle to see my sketch next to the finished project. Anyway, too many people who read this thing are going to get one and I don’t want to spoil the surprise so I’m not putting a close-up here until they are off to their destinations. But here are some production shots: