Sunday, March 30, 2014

Proof of my Very Bad Winter

NASA has a time lapse video of my actual winter right here, and you really should watch it to see how bad our winter really was. I had to resort to putting my finger on Cape Cod to remember where it is because it was so often obscured by winter storms. First World Problems I guess because we did not lose power, find ourselves unable to pay bills because of lost work days, or get in a winter accident. Still, we were not all that pleased with our winter wonderland.

My garden soil is thawed out enough for the chard to be coming up, and I have been able to dig up some carrots that overwintered in place. This week I think I may start planting peas and some lettuce to see what happens. I have lots of lettuce seed, so if I don't get an early crop I won't be too upset. I was supposed to have a yard clean up crew last week but SNOW. I am hoping for more action this week except for RAIN. I am patient, but some plants are breaking dormancy and need to be freed from debris. I've started clearing some of the leaves from the beds and piling them up for the yard crew to take away.  I did start a little pruning already to at least get the Montauk Daisies under control (or at least the illusion of control). They get rolling so early I don't like to wait. If I let them get tall they will flop over when they start to bloom in the fall. Besides they will take over the earth.

The dogs are bored stiff - I bought them little kongs today for a change of activity. Right after I gave Roxy hers she dropped it to be sure that Mitzi was not getting something better. She has realized that Mitzi is getting something every morning that she is not (a pill) and tries every morning to get to Mitzi's bowl to steal the "prize". As bad as her eyesight is I do not know how she always knows exactly where it is, but we have had some near misses. She's too clever by half.

While I wait for spring to get in gear I am still knitting with nothing finished to show for it even though lots of time is going into it. I'm reading garden magazines and websites, and every night I go to bed thinking and rethinking how my landscape project should progress. My latest crazy idea is to plant some asparagus. It may take a few years to get going but will need very little attention for a great payoff. Shana and I both love it. The only thing that makes me dubious is the depth of the trench asparagus requires. The place I want to plant it is really rocky and will be no fun at all to dig out. My other crazy idea is planting potatoes in a tub.

I am also hitting the thrift stores and junk shops with my favorites in mind: vintage craft books, pre 1972 Corning Ware cornflower pattern, vintage cast iron in usable condition, and vintage Pyrex. My latest find is probably from around 1974, a nice set of bowls in the Old Orchard pattern. I already have a set of brown Butterprint that I purchased new in the 70's plus a larger gold cinderella bowl in the Daisy pattern probably from the 60's; I got it for 50 cents at a garage sale around 2000. I've got my eye out for the square refrigerator bowls, but so far no luck in the shops. I'm counting on estate sales and garage sales during the summer to fill out some holes! I also pick up crocheted coasters when I find them because I am too lazy to make them myself. If I stick to just a few things I am looking for I can have a nice time digging around without filling the house to the rafters with junk. Shana thinks I already have enough junk. I suspect it's just not her style of junk because it seems there is always some kind of BBQ equipment we lack.

Monday, March 24, 2014

With Crossed Fingers

Traffic Jam
We are all waiting with crossed fingers and toes to know the path of (I hope) the last winter storm to menace the Cape. It looks to be a very substantial storm and may be a powerful nor'easter if the jet stream  does not push it far enough out to sea. At last meteorologists are starting to stand by some predictions, but the bad news is that as of this morning the predictions extend from 2" to 12" of snow for the Upper Cape with significant wind to go along with it.

Not only is more snow unwelcome but Shana is scheduled to fly out to visit her cousin Wednesday morning, and she will need to catch the bus to Boston Logan Airport at the very height of the storm. If Boston gets hard hit her flight will likely be cancelled. Due to some work obligations she had already had to reschedule her flight so this is turning everyone's plans on their ears. Not only that, but Shana is treating me to a yard cleanup this year and the landscaper is to work on our yard this week. If we have a foot of snow on the ground things will end up being put off another week (at least, because he may have other scheduled jobs next week). That puts off those garden projects I could start on a bit longer. The cold weather already has me behind on some things.

Once the storm passes us our temperatures will jump at last into the 50's and we will have seasonal temperatures. I can't wait!!!!! We are all sick of winter.

I'm still picking away at four knitting projects with nothing of substance to show. I've been reading a couple of Jane Austen novels and flew through The Goldfinch, which I thought was excellent but maybe hard to stomach because of some heavy drug use by major characters.

We were in Boston yesterday looking at a car for Shana. We settled on a used Honda FIT, which she will pick up when she comes back into town after her trip. After the longest winter in history with a 1997 convertible it was time to look at replacing the heroic old Chrysler. We've put about $3,000 into it in the last three years, which was cheaper than buying a newer car, but I think we are at the end of the line for things that will be fixable for amounts reasonable for a car of this age. Of course we went into town on Sunday when all the road work is done and it took us nearly an hour to go half a mile. I was too sick of traffic to consider driving around town with the GPS in the dark to find an exciting dinner so we blew out of town once the deal was settled and ate at a place near the highway in Hingham. A productive day, if a long one. Why is buying a car so exhausting? It's not like we have to arm wrestle anyone to get it done.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Using Your Head

My mother has spent a shocking amount of time telling me to use my head (as more than a hat rack!). Turns out there are more uses for my head than I knew!

Last year's beauty
 There are signs of spring appearing in my neighborhood, if I was bold enough to go out and see them. It was over fifty degrees the other day and I took the dogs out for a spin around the block. The house down the hill from me has iris breaking the surface already. I have not seen anything in my yard yet, mainly because I have not been outside to look. I refuse to step out there until it warms up! This is one of the main reasons that I do not ever plant the charming spring ephemerals that I see pictured all over the Internet this week. I won't see them. Also I do not do a big fall cleanup, which my grass doubtless resents but my flowers prefer. I leave the perennials until spring. The stalks protect the crowns and the birds eat the seeds. Some beneficial insects overwinter in the litter (less attractive ones do to, it's a mixed bag). This year Shana has given me the fabulous treat of a yard guy to come and do my cleanup. This is kind of a big deal and not only because it's tedious work. You can only take a certain amount of yard waste to the dump at a time, and you have to empty the bags. Very time consuming. I always save a lot of leaves for my composter and to add to my mulch during the season, but it's still several trips with a carload of bags. Then my birthday gift - a boulder (!) and masses of mulch. Cape Cod is a glacial moraine, so there are a lot of boulders about the place. I do not happen to have one in my yard though. I have a burning envy of people who have nice big ones in the middle of their yard - such an interesting focal point for a bed.  I have not yet decided where my boulder will live. Part of my choice must depend on the installation. I can't have heavy equipment running over my septic system of my irrigation. And it should be visible from the road so all can see my good fortune!

Saturday, March 08, 2014

Spring Teaser

We had a minute of spring today - a teaser. With sunny skies, little wind and temperatures in the 50's I took Roxy to the beach for a long walk. She has not been feeling well this week and I thought a little outing would do her good (nothing serious, just a tummy ache). We went down to South Cape Beach and took a walk down Dead Neck Trail to Waquoit Bay. We have had such awful weather and spring is so slow in coming this year that everyone and (literally) their dog was out to enjoy the beach and the trails. Roxy got to exchange greetings with quite a few dogs and have a little break from Mitzi, so her afternoon was a great success.  Mitzi will have the next "only dog" outing. I had forgotten that a snowy owl had been spotted at South Cape, so that was a nice surprise. I only saw it at a distance this time.

Tomorrow Shana and I are going to go to Mahoney's Garden Center to look at some shrubs and think about our landscaping plans for this year. She has a particular plant in mind to screen us from the road; I have another in mind for a screen at the back fence. We are also planning for a new flower bed near the front door. We are going to add some fencing later this spring for the dogs, which also gives me some new opportunities for landscaping. At the very least we will be looking at something green for a change! I have already purchased quite a few seeds for this year but my garden is still covered with snow. A few days above freezing have melted the remaining snow on the deck but my veggie patch is still covered up.

I put in a little knitting time on my Clapotis, which has finally progressed to the point where I start dropping stitches. I was right about the yarn; it is pooling like crazy. I think it will be all right though. Clapotis is diagonal, with decreases on one side and increases on the other through the center section. It breaks the pooling effect up a bit, and the dropped stitches break it up visually. In any event the yarn is so pretty and the colors so nice I am not that concerned. I know I will enjoy wearing it, and the alpaca yarn is a pleasure to knit with. When I am a little further along I will post a picture.

Wednesday, March 05, 2014

Now is the Winter of Our Discontent

...made tedious and tiresome by drama in my knitting group. Before I moved to Cape Cod I scoped out a knitting group listed on Meetup. It turned out to be a good fit for me because most of the members were new to the area and we were all looking for friends to share our hobby with. I have been, and am grateful to the group founder for setting up the group and introducing me to so many wonderful women. As often happens, some members have drifted out for their own reasons and some have left the area. Some have found knitting groups that suited their schedules, sensibilities or politics better. We settled in to a smaller group of faithful members until the trouble started. Now there is turmoil and stress. Some apparently innocent members have been summarily banished, and the rest of us are unsure of how to proceed.

I've been in this position before. It's not an unusual thing for groups of women. I've been the one to drop out of a groups that no longer fit my interests and just kept up with people through third party news (otherwise known as gossip!) or Facebook.  I've been marginal in many groups due to deficiencies in my own social skills (snarky sense of humor along with some difficulty picking up on social cues). I've been pushed out of a group I valued for reasons that did not make sense at the time and still don't.

I've given a lot of thought to how this happens, and based on my admittedly anecdotal evidence and somewhat skewed lens I believe what causes groups to blow up is inherent instability in one or more of the key members. There has to be mutual respect even if the group is so diverse that points of agreement or common experience are few. When most members are solid the group and the group is fairly evenly matched it stays together through crisis and members draw support as needed. When key members are unstable or overly needy the group  gets out of balance and spins out even if the internal friendships are of long duration. Few groups except the most casual (or the youngest) can survive a key member who likes drama. In couples groups instability within the couples will make the group crack even if that instability is unacknowledged or carefully hidden.

It's discouraging. I am sad, and although I love being part of a group every time I go through a group breakup I feel less inclined to commit to another. Whatever shape things take in future I will be knitting with friends. I will continue to hang out with the group members with whom I feel a close connection. I've joined up with an additional group which I enjoy but may not jump into with both feet in the circumstances. I love to knit with a group, and the encouragement of friends is priceless. When summer finally arrives I hope everyone's spirits rise and we can all enjoy ourselves.