ksmith: (coffee cup)
Everything has imported from LJ according to DW, so I am here now. I won't be crossposting over there, and am working up the nerve to delete what's left behind. Feels strange, because I was there for so long.

An unseasonably warm weekend--high 60s yesterday and 70s today. Grass is greening fast. I spread the corn gluten fertilizer/weed suppressant yesterday, and am hoping that I see some improvement in the creeping Charlie control in the backyard. It's going to take a few years to hit the 80% control level that organic stuff usually reaches, but this is Year 2 and so I am hoping.

First daffodils opened today. They'll pick up as the crocuses wind down. It's supposed to drop back to the 50s for a few days, but I don't really mind. As long as the trend is up.
ksmith: (Default)

Decluttering–it’s all the rage, the subject of classes, TV shows, and bestselling books. I have lost track of the number of times I pledged to once and for all dispatch all the books I will never read, clothes I will never wear, old financial records I don’t need to save anymore. The odd piece of furniture, old tools, handbags and costume jewelry and general household detritus.

But, for all I wish I could regain control of my space, I always seem to fall short of the mark. Toward the end of last year, I had made some dents, cleaning out a couple of bookcases, organizing the armoire in my bedroom, and freeing up drawer space in the spare bedroom. In the process, I found things I had forgotten I had. For instance, the half-dozen pairs of sunglasses, including a very nice pair of Smiths that have to be at least 25 years old. I bought them because hey, we have the same name. Also, the frames are purple. I love purple.

I know that one rule of thumb for this process is that if you haven’t used or worn something in the previous year or two, you should get rid of it. I can’t always agree with that. Sometimes you do lose track of things that you really liked or that went out of style and then came back in, which is my way of saying that I will be keeping the sunglasses.

That said, the one thing that has always stopped these clean-out sessions in their tracks wasn’t that I didn’t want to get rid of things after all, but  that I didn’t know how best to get rid of them. I don’t want to deal with the hassle of a garage sale, and simply tossing the stuff in the trash is wasteful and in the case of some electronics and household chemicals, ill-advised if not illegal. So I talked to friends, then poked around online, and found that I have more options than I thought. Not all of them are free, but they’re out there.

The Give Back Box is a free service that allows you to use an old Amazon shipping box or other cardboard box to send clothing or household goods to Goodwill. The US Internal Revenue Service Publication 526, Charitable Contributions and Publication 561, Determining the Value of Donated Property, contain guidelines for defining charitable contributions and in general how to estimate value. Goodwill has also put together guidelines for calculating the worth of donated items. In addition, this Donation Calculator references valuations from several charities (the online spreadsheet showed up in Firefox, but not in Safari). Some Habitat for Humanity websites also have guidelines for estimating the value of donations of appliances, building materials, and tools.

For me, that means spreadsheets and photographs for tax purposes. Yea, spreadsheets.

When it comes to clothing, I always forget about resale/consignment shops, which are a good option for my old office clothes and dressy coats I haven’t worn in years.

Old VCR tapes are currently one of the banes of my existence. Some resale shops may take the old movies, but I doubt they would want the scores of History Channel WWII programs that my dad recorded. Companies like GreenDisk can recycle the tapes, along with electronics such as laptops etc, though the service is not free. Local municipal agencies–in my case, the Solid Waste Agency of Lake County, accept all sorts of household waste, including chemical and electronic. My local OfficeMax accepted an old printer of mine for recycling, and they also give credit for returned ink cartridges if you make in-store purchases. Check the website for details.

Lots of places accept donated books. My local library. Goodwill. A number of online charities.

So, with some work, I hope to  finally, FINALLY, get rid of the junk. I will try to recycle most of the things I no longer want, and minimize the garbage destined for the landfill.

How about you? I know there are any number of recycling and donation options I’ve missed, so if you have favorites, please do post them.

Mirrored from .

ksmith: (Default)

I’ve felt pulled in all directions these last few weeks. I start one thing, and three others clamor for attention. So the goals for next few weeks are to settle down, focus on writing, finish dealing with the leaves, add a few more batches of soup/stew/something to the deep freeze…

…and that’s too many things to plan. I know I should focus on work and let the chores fall where they may. It’s the never-ending battle between the immediate sense of accomplishment I feel when I do something around the house and the mix of emotions related to writing: accomplishment, but also aggravation, that feeling of wandering lost in the woods because one word after the other–what’s up with that?

Meatloaf is simpler.


My reissued light fantasy stories, Continuing Education and 8 rms., full bsmt., are now available at Amazon as well as BookView Café.


Upcoming contest! From 7-14 November, you can enter for a chance to win ebooks of GIDEON and over 30 other thrillers AND a Kindle Fire. I will post the link as soon as the contest goes live.


No hard freeze yet in far NE Illinois, which means I still have flowers. The mums have faded and the hibiscus are losing their leaves. But the begonias in the planter are still plugging along despite nights in the 40s and squirrels digging holes in the soft dirt.

Autumn Begonias

Autumn Begonias

It’s nice to see shots of pink and white and leafy greenery amid all the warm shades, the yellow, orange and brown. I’m going to miss them when they’re gone.


‘Tis the season, so pumpkin spice is everywhere. I’m not a fan of the flavor in coffee and tea, but I do like pumpkin pie. So when I found a recipe for baked oatmeal with pumpkin, I decided to give it a shot. I used regular milk instead of almond milk, whole wheat flour instead of white whole wheat, added extra spices, and used pecans instead of walnuts. Imagine not-too-sweet pumpkin pie. A good way to start a chilly day. Definitely a keeper.

 

Mirrored from .

ksmith: (Default)

Next week. Where has the year gone, I ask you?

The final schedule is out, and I have one panel and a reading.

Friday 6 Nov: Broadway 2 • 12:00
Reading: I will be reading some selections from JERICHO.

Mass Autographing Session :

8:30pm City Center 2A and City Center 2B
Open to signers at 8:00
Open to all at 8:30

And on Saturday the 7th, my panel:

2:00•City Center 2A : Fantasy and Detective Fiction — A Natural Fit?

After that, on Sunday 8 Nov at 6pm, I’ll be appearing with a host of other writers at Flights of Fantasy Books and Games. Julie Czerneda! Anne Bishop! Garth Nix! Many more! Then that will be it for travel for 2015.

Here at the ol’ homestead, I am watching the leaves fall and trying to work up the nerve to assemble the leaf grinder/mulcher that I bought earlier this month. No more raking the leaves to the curb for the city to pick up, said I. Instead, I shall grind them and use them to mulch the shrubbery in preparation for the winter ahead.

We’ll see how it goes. Last  year, I mulched some of the leaves with the mower, but there were just too many and I wound up disposing of well over half, along with all the damned needles that fell like rain from the Scots pine in the front yard. This year, it all gets ground up. I’ll leave the ground pine needles under the pine and spruce trees, and save the leaves for the shrubs. Oak leaves–of which I have so so many–are acidic according to all I’ve read, so the hydrangeas and hibiscus should like that.

 

 

Mirrored from Kristine Smith.

ksmith: (Default)

There will be no raised bed garden this summer.

I first installed it back in 2009. The first few tomato crops were incredible–I had 6-7 plants, and spent most every weekend from early August through early fall making marinara or tomato casserole or salads with fresh basil (I grew that, too). When the chill weather came, I picked the greenies and stuck them in paper bags to ripen, and had fresh tomatoes into December.

I added compost to the soil and added fresh soil every so often, but for whatever reason–weather, poor choice in plants–the harvests fell off. Last summer’s was the worst–it was so cool that even the farmstands struggled. I managed a couple handfuls of cherry tomatoes and some mesclun. Part of me missed the buckets and buckets of harvest, but part of me didn’t care. It had stopped being fun.

I gave the plastic framing to the chimney repair guy, who had a friend who was planning a raised bed garden. That left the dirt, two squared-off mounds of tightly-packed topsoil. Today, I shoveled it into the wheelbarrow and dumped it around the plants near the deck. Over the next few weeks or months or however long it takes, I’ll trim the area with the edger and add more soil and mulch until it looks neat and proper. I have spirea and hibiscus growing there now, and would like to add a few more things. Some of the daffodils in the front yard are putting forth nothing but greenery, which means the bulbs have birthed bulblets that are sucking away the strength; I’ll separate those and stick some near the deck. Look for some shorter shrubs that flower. I am thinking about moving the birdbath garden to the sideyard outside the fence given that the seed that falls to the ground has attracted skunk for the last few years and Gaby has never met a skunk that she didn’t want to harass, the results of which you can guess. If I do that, I can move the astilbes that are growing there now to new homes near the deck….

That will be the outdoor project for the year. Get the backyard in shape.

Mirrored from Kristine Smith.

Still here

Sep. 10th, 2014 09:29 pm
ksmith: (gimme a break)

Summer has zipped by. I’ve been having work done around the house–deck repaired and stained, dishwasher installed. Thought I’d catch a break for a bit, but the handyman called this evening–he has an opening, so he’ll be by tomorrow to fix one of the walls in the bathroom and repair some tile. So I cleaned out the cabinet that is going to be removed, then vacuumed because doesn’t everyone clean before workmen come to the house?

Oh well. It upsets the day, but it has to get done.

Nothing to report on the reissue of CODE etc as ebooks. Struggling with some short works–I start them, and think, who would want to read this? It’s been done before. The thing is, just about everything has been done before–I could write a one-sentence synopsis and likely be able to think of several already-published stories that fit it. And they would all be different. Because it isn’t the idea, it’s the execution.

If I keep telling myself this, I might come to believe it.

Mirrored from Kristine Smith.

ksmith: (me)

Damn, but it’s been a while.

Almost a year since I retired from the day job, and I don’t miss it a bit. I’ve been dealing with house repairs, though not as quickly as I would like. The worst job, going through all the worldly goods and disposing of what I no longer want or need, has been a slow go. I did get rid of a mess o’ unwanted weed killer, non-organic lawn care stuff, and acrylic paint a couple of months ago, but clothes, books, collectibles, furniture and assorted junk remain unsorted. Last summer I said I would do it during the winter, and during the winter I said I would attack it in the spring. Now, July is winding down. I did schedule some decks repairs–the guy who started the work last fall never finished and wouldn’t return my calls, so I needed to find someone else. That contractor will also be doing some work on my cupboards so I can finally get a dishwasher installed, which will be cause for much excitement in the realm.

As for the junk, it will get sorted. It has to. But I’m not looking forward to it.

Seven years today since my mom passed. I am not an anniversary/memorial person as a rule, for whatever that says about me. But today I had to do a lot of running around in the area around the hospital where mom was treated and the hospice in which she passed, and it got to me. Memories of driving from hospital to hospital to pick up records or to restaurants to pick up treats that she said she wanted and then wouldn’t eat–the spirit was willing, but the appetite was no longer there.

A restless day.

No updates concerning Jani e-bbok conversions. I thought I had something set up, but that may have fallen through. I may need to simply buckle down and do it myself.

Currently playing in the background is an old episode of Rick Steve’s Europe. Tuscany and Umbria. So gorgeous.

Someday….

Mirrored from Kristine Smith.

Emerging

Jan. 7th, 2014 12:04 pm
ksmith: (snowsuit)

Yeah, it was cold. Snow blew and drifted and crackled underfoot. The wind bit. The house creaked. No exciting frost quakes, just loss of cable internet for most of Monday. Given what other folks went through–stranded on roadways, in train stations, etc–not going to complain. Well, not much. I did get cranky as the day wore on and the lack of instant news/stock market/publishing gossip got under my skin. I fear I am an addict.

I struggled to assuage the longing by baking brownies. Pondered a wip. Started reading Over Sea Under Stone by Susan Cooper, an older YA series that folks online had been raving about as a classic winter reread. I’m halfway through and have put the rest of the books in the series–5 in all–on hold at the library because yeah, the story is pretty good.

But hey, the warm-up has begun! -3F currently, but the wind has died. Saw a squirrel for the first time since Sunday, gnawing on the fresh suet block. A few hardy birds had gathered throughout the onslaught–the usual crew of jays, cardinals and juncos and even a pigeon or two–but more today, because HEAT WAVE!

I was worried about the car, since the garage is detached/uninsulated/unheated. But air temp in there is routinely 10 degrees warmer than the outdoors no matter what. That meant it was close to 10F in there this morning, which in turn translated to yes, the car started and I was able to get out of the house for the first time in 4 days. That lightened the general mood considerably.

Hope everyone affected by the polar vortex–that is so the name of my next band–is staying warm. I’m looking forward to spring, but there is still so much winter left to live through.

Mirrored from Kristine Smith.

ksmith: (gimme a break)

Over three weeks since my last post.

Busy, been, yes. Fall yard clean-up. Some major electrical work in the house. Meeting with an attorney to work on estate planning. A storm last weekend knocked out power for 15 hours, which allowed me the joy of an overflow sump pump cistern, fallen branches, and worry about the contents of the fridge. I dried things off, raked things up, and kept things cold. All good.

Took care of what I pray will be the last session with a rake for 2013. What I thought would be no more than an hour spent picking up branches turned into 3 hours and 15 lawn bags of branches, honey locust leaves, and pine needles. The honey locust leaves and needles are a bitch to rake–the leaves are small enough to sink in between the leaves of grass, while the needles weave through and get tangled. I could rake the same spot over and over, and still bring up needles and leaves.

I cut bushy bits off the fallen pine branches and tucked them into the planter–they’ll make a nice surround for the little Christmas tree I’ll be sticking in there later this week. Yup, ’twill be time to put up the lights and decorations. I don’t do many–a couple of trees made of coils of lights. Some wreaths. Simple, in anticipation of the fact that they will be taken down sometime in early January.

Cold, cold morning, cold enough to dig out the base layer for the morning walk. Gaby carries her base layer with her, and was quite content.

The Dr Who Weekend is playing in the background. The top 11 Matt Smith eps. I’d enjoy them more if they didn’t break in for commercials every four minutes. And if they hadn’t trimmed the eps in order to fit in said commercials. I’ve seen some of these episodes waaay too many times. I know which lines have been cut; some of them were from favorite scenes. Irritating, like favorite songs with phonograph record skips.

Time for coffee.

In closing, a couple of recent pics. Herself, post-grooming session, with bows, neckerchief, and a forlorn expression:

You did this to me.

You did this to me.

Yet another fall photo. Golden maple leaves:

Autumn gold

Mirrored from Kristine Smith.

Apples

Oct. 31st, 2013 11:02 am
ksmith: (gold leaf)

Lots of apples.

Last week, one of my neighbors gave me a shopping bag full of apples from their tree. 17 pounds worth.

Yesterday, I dealt with them. A couple quarts of applesauce. Apple crisp. Today, apple nut bread.

I recommend the crisp recipe. I did substitute white whole wheat flour for the all-purpose when making the crumbs, and added a couple tablespoons of wheat germ as well. The crumbs may have turned out a little dry as a result, but they do have a nice, nutty flavor.

Lots of cooking over the last week. Autumn food, Jacques Pepin’s tuna w/ pasta (best tuna casserole ever, imo, and yes, I add the raisins), butternut squash soup and maple-brined pork loin roast (result: a very juicy roast that tasted a bit like ham).

House stuff took up a lot of my time. The basement guys came and fixed the window wells and filled All The Cracks. I cleared lava rock from a patch next to the deck, and planted some shrubs. Raked leaves. Set up appointments for more estimates.

Downloaded Gimp, which is freeware photo manipulation software. I’ve heard that it’s difficult to learn, but I would like to use it and try my hand at ebook covers for some short stories. I can understand paying to have a novel cover made, but it’s a little more difficult to justify the expense for a short story. I’ll see how well I do. If it proves a disaster, I’ll look into alternative coverage.

Raining now. Cool, dreary autumn. Trees that were still mostly green seem to have changed over the last two days–maples are either vermilion or a gorgeous deep gold, like butterscotch. Oaks aren’t as flashy, all tarnished brass.

Some folks have already put up their Christmas decorations. That just staggers me. Not ready for that at all.

Mirrored from Kristine Smith.

ksmith: (me)

Ash trees going gold. Some reddening of the maples. Still a lot of green to be seen, but that may change over the next week given that nighttime lows will hit the 30s (F).

Raining. After a dry late summer, when my tomatoes and basil could have used it. Now, it means soggy leaves and a last-ditch growth spurt for the lawn. I’ll be mowing in November, I swear, especially if any type of warm spell follows all this rain.

House stuff continues. Completion of deck work has been delayed because of the weather. If worse comes to worse, we can wait until spring to finish, but I would love to get it done this year if possible. Come on, warm spell!

Did schedule basement guys for next week. This will be a major deal–issues not as serious as I thought, repairs straightforward (knock wood), and a warranty that transfers to whomever buys the place.

Next steps? I need to clear some junk out of the basement so the guys have an easier time getting to the walls. Right now, I’m at the point where if I think too much about all that needs doing, I feel overwhelmed, so. Baby steps. Clear the easy throwaways out of the basement. Clear out the closets–many are the pairs of old running shoes that could go to the recycle. There’s a healthy chunk of officewear that could go to a resale shop. A friend suggested an estate sale, which could eliminate a whole lotta stuff in one go.

Please, no one suggest ebay or yard sales. No time for the first and not enough patience for either.

I’ve discovered Pinterest, where I’m pinning ideas for the kitchen and bath. So far, I’ve avoided sinking too much time into it, though I can see how it can become a consumer of said time.

I’m also working my way through the Welcome to Night Vale podcast backlog. I think I’m only a year behind at this point. But I do know not to stare at the hooded figures in the Dog Park.

Do not enter the Dog Park.

Mirrored from Kristine Smith.

ksmith: (me)

Couldn’t manage this sort of photo, but I did have a couple of 4.5-Mountain-Days (Jefferson was a little hazy, but Rainier, Adams, St Helens, and Hood were all new penny bright).

Mirrored from Kristine Smith.

ksmith: (me)

Spent a week in the Portland Oregon area. Visited good friends. Did some research. Experienced the joy of driving twisty, winding roads. Really twisty. And winding. After a drive, my right leg ached from tension and brake-hitting.

This time, I actually visited scenic vistas.

Cannon Beach and Ecola State Park:

A view of Haystack Rock from Ecola State Park

A view of Haystack Rock from Ecola State Park

NB: Haystack Rock is that vaguely conical rock way in the back, on the far right of the photo. The other haystack-looking rocks are mere impostors.

The Columbia River Gorge (view from Crown Point Vista House):

View of the Columbia from the Crown Point Vista House

View of the Columbia from the Crown Point Vista House

Multnomah Falls:

A gorgeous day at the Falls

A gorgeous day at the Falls

Had lunch at Elephants Deli.

It was good to get away.

Came home yesterday–saw the Great Plains snowfall from the plane, and found 2.5 inches of wet stuff in the backyard rain gauge. Also found a very clean deck–the deck guy had powerwashed it on Monday. Tomorrow, he repairs what needs repairing. He thinks he’ll be able to coat/seal on Friday.

Also tomorrow, plumber installs new water heater. Meanwhile, I am planning the decluttering. It’s going to be All House All The Time for the foreseeable future.

Before I left, I picked the last of the tomatoes. Most were pretty green, so I bagged them and stuck them in the closet to ripen. Checked the bags yesterday and found about half were ready to go, so today I roasted them with garlic and balsamic vinegar. Had some for lunch with rigatoni, goat cheese and arugula. So. Good.

Busy days ahead.

Mirrored from Kristine Smith.

ksmith: (utensils)

Don’t ask me where in hell the year has gone, because I don’t know.

Gaby is at playcare today, running with the pack (cue Bad Company). I was going to clean, but wound up doing laundry and baking instead. Neighbor-with-fruit-trees gave me a basket of white and yellow peaches, and while they tasted fine fresh, there were so many that I didn’t want to risk them going off, so I made a cobbler.

Sidebar to say that my absolute favorite Donna Noble line comes during her wedding, when her friend Nerys (sp?), who does give off a Bitch Vibe, complains that Donna made her wear peach. “But you are a peach,” Donna replies. “Fair of skin. Stone inside. Going off.”

Anyway. I had been planning to make the usual Bisquick cobbles, but I tripped over this recipe online and decided to give it a go. Blanched and peeled the peaches using the tomato method–which I guess is the peach method, too–by cutting an X on the bottom of each peach, then sticking them in boiling water for a minute or so, then shoveling them into a bowl of ice water. Let them cool for a few, then peel. Skin came off nice as you please:

skinned peaches

Peeled and sectioned the peaches:

Prepped peaches

Poured the melted butter and lightly mixed batter into a 13×9-inch baking dish. Added a few drops of Fiori di Sicilia to the batter because it really freshens the taste:

Butter batter

Brought the peaches to a boil with vanilla, cinnamon, sugar, and a few teaspoons of Grand Marnier, just to see if it would make a diff:

cooked peaches

Baked for about 45 minutes at 375F:

We have achieved cobbler!

House smelled great while it baked. Haven’t tried it yet–fruit and spices taste better after sitting a few hours, for all the recipes tell you to eat fresh/warm from the oven. I’ll have some tonight, with coffee.

Mirrored from Kristine Smith.

ksmith: (gold leaf)

I will be offline for most of the next week. Nothing wrong. Just busy.

First hint of autumn in the air today. A cool front moved through yesterday, dropping nighttime temps to the lo 60s. I had left the bedroom windows open all day and into the night, and actually needed the comforter. Nice sleeping weather. The morning proved so cool that I wore long pants for Gaby’s walk, which was a good move because on the way down the street to the bike trail, I stepped on a hickory nut Just Right, and wiped out. Just some road burn on left elbow and right hand. Also a scraped left knee, which would have been much uglier if I hadn’t been wearing the rip-stop cargo pants.

I can’t believe it’s September already. The lawn is still green, but the growth has slowed to practically nothing. Tomatoes are still ripening. Acorns etc have been falling like crazy, and the squirrels are gathering them and digging holes everywhere. I have a slew of canned pumpkin in the pantry, and I’m tempted to make some pumpkin soup. I know you should ideally use fresh roasted pumpkin, but I have to do something with the stuff and I love butternut squash soup so I figure I should like pumpkin soup, too.

Autumn used to be my favorite season. Now it’s late spring/early summer, but I do still have a weakness for crisp mornings and such. Hate the shorter days, though. The wet windy chill, and knowledge that soon there will be snow. Not ready for summer to end.

Mirrored from Kristine Smith.

ksmith: (hawk)

…of a squirrel, that barely missed becoming breakfast for a hawk.

Morning walk with Gaby. We had just entered the park when I saw the swoop-and-flurry. Squirrel dashing across open space and walkway toward safety of tree while hawk pursued and squirrel’s buddy brought up the rear, chattering and in general trying to disrupt the proceedings. It worked–hawk had to veer off to avoid hitting the tree, and the squirrel buddies dashed up into the safety of the dense leaves. They were still chittering when Gaby and I passed.

Made a circuit of the park and neighborhood. Spotted the hawk on the way back. It landed in a large oak and tried to settle in, but a couple of smaller birds drove it off and forced it to a different branch. Looked as though it hadn’t found breakfast yet. Rough morning.

It’s hotter than I thought it would be, and muggy. Showered after we got home. Straightened the kitchen. Time to work now.

Talked to neighbor on the way back. He had promised me fresh peaches a couple of months ago–today he said they’re getting close.

A fresh peach. Yanno, I don’t think I’ve ever had one. If he gives me enough, I may look up a tart recipe. Maybe chutney. Then of course, there are the ripe ones that you eat whilst standing over the sink because they’re so damn juicy.

In other news, Gaby got skunked the other night. That makes three times this summer. The groomer said that it’s been the Summer of the Skunk–she’s had 7-8 deskunkings in the last two weeks.

This skunk was eating the bird seed that had fallen out of the feeder. It didn’t return last night, so I am hoping that all the ruckus of being barked at and chased off will make it think twice about coming back. Depends how hungry it gets, I suppose.

Mirrored from Kristine Smith.

ksmith: (me)

Finally cool enough to sit outside. The next few days are expected to be blistering, so no playcare for Gaby. I don’t want her running around in 85F+, and she doesn’t like heat anyway so it’s all good.

Passed the small pond during the morning’s walk in the park–the regular park, not the preserve–and saw that the singleton snow goose was still part of the flock of Canadas that inhabits the place. Glad to see it was still around, even though it makes me a little sad that it’s not with other snow geese. How did it wind up here? Did it lose its way? Get injured? Was it abandoned as a gosling and adopted? Oh well, it seems fine–it was swimming in the midst of the Canadas and feeding, just like one of the gang, so it looks like it’s well-integrated.

Going to stay outside until I see Venus, and keep an eye out for bats. They’ve been scarce lately, I think because of the lack of rain and subsequent mosquito shortage. I’m sure there are other bugs for them to eat, but they must not be around here. Lately if I see one or two over the course of 15 minutes, I’m doing well.

Mirrored from Kristine Smith.

ksmith: (me)

I know–I’ve been scarce. Going to be scarcer. September should be better.

Trees and shrubs have been trimmed, by me and by actual pros with wood chippers and stump-grinders and such. Amazing how quickly two men and a wood chipper can get rid of a tree’s worth of, well, tree. This they did yesterday, at about 715am. Hella way to wake up, but I had to get up anyway, and by the time I got dressed they were gone. The backyard looks bigger and sunnier. Next month, I will have some repair work done on the deck, do some mulching and planting.

Tomatoes have been ripening. Yesterday, chopped up a few Black Crim and the single ripe Kellogg’s Breakfast–a pretty pale orange color–with a cucumber and a red onion. Sweet vinegar dressing–cider vinegar, sugar, salt/pepper, and a dash of olive oil. Had it last night with broiled salmon and couscous. Lovely summer dish.

Finally had some rain yesterday after two-three weeks without. Only a few tenths of an inch, but some wind came along for the ride and this morning city crews were out picking up fallen branches. A tree had fallen across the bike trail, so Gaby and I got to do a little up and over. But we’ve had our walk. Now she’s outside keeping the yard save from Invader Squirrel and his partners in crime. I’m inside, in the cool & dry, getting ready to work.

Below, the begonias in the front yard planter. They’re lovely now, full and bright–the photo doesn’t do them justice, but I wanted to post it anyway because.

Begonias

Mirrored from Kristine Smith.

ksmith: (chainsaw)

Hello, blog. It’s been a while.

Well, a week. Almost.

Perfect weather today. 70-something, low humidity, sunny as hell. The backyard needed mowing, so after breakfast and the usual long walk with Herself the Elf, I set to it. Got to the spot around the admittedly-overgrown birdbath garden. Tried to push the mower underneath the overhanging branches of the prairie fire crabapple, and something in me just snapped. I shut off the mower, dug the serious long-handled branch clippers out the garage, and took down a few thin branches.

Then I said, oh hell with it, and got the chainsaw.

Did some major surgery on the poor unsuspecting prairie fire, cutting away a couple of semi-major branches and overhangs and trimming it into the more tree-like shape I wanted it to have. Stared in amazement at how much bigger that amount of trimmage made the backyard appear, and how much more sunlight hit the surrounding lawn. Cut down the nearby sand cherry, which had grown lopsided and developed some sort of disease that led to leaf loss. Trimmed the other sand cherry, then stopped when I realized how much yard waste I now needed to get rid of. I had a choice–I could spend the better part of the next two days cutting it up and stuffing it into lawn bags, or I could cut the branches into somewhat longer lengths and leave them piled on the curb for the city to collect. Problem is, the city collects on an irregular basis–the lawn beneath the piles could be dead by the time said piles were picked up. And I really didn’t have two days to spend cutting up branches.

So, I went with option 3–I called the usual tree trimmer guy, who will grind the stumps, dispose of the brush, and do some additional trimming besides–some of the oaks need a little work, and the sand cherry I trimmed isn’t really worth saving so that will be removed completely. After all that is done, I should finally be at the point where I can handle whatever else needs to be done in the landscaping department, she said hopefully.

September is going to be a stone bitch of a cleaning month. I should just have the junk hauler leave a dumpster in the driveway.

Thinking about work over the next few months, both house-related and not so much. I would like to revamp the website. Write a Jani novella, and a couple other short things for actual submission to markets. I also want to paint the kitchen cabinets, and maybe the bedrooms, but before that I need to toss/sell/donate as much as I possibly can. I see no reason other than sentiment why I can’t get rid of at least half my clothes. The Great Decluttering of 2013.

Finally saw a hummer this afternoon. I have plenty of hanging baskets with brightly-colored petunias, but it was the late lamented Rose of Sharon tree that really attracted them. Now that it’s gone, I doubt I will see as many little tweets as I used to. Plenty of dragonflies, though, some of which are the size of hummingbirds.

Mirrored from Kristine Smith.

ksmith: (red_wine)

One of those mornings when you could just walk forever. After all the heat we muddled through, now we’ve got coolth. 60s today. Maybe 70F tomorrow. A nice change of pace, but strange. With the heavy cloud and stiff breeze angling off the lake, it feels more like early fall than midsummer.

Looong walk this morning through the state park with the Gabster, around a small lake and up to the shore of the big one. Lake Michigan was active thanks to the breeze, but not choppy–I could see a few sailboats in the distance. The fields and marshy areas were well and truly filled with wildflowers, grasses, shrubs. Saw many birds. Some geese on the small lake. A few deer.

Gaby loves morning walks. After we got home, she let fly with a bout of the Zooms, dashing around in circles and leaping off the deck.

Grocery shopping accomplished. Lunch consisted of sliced turkey on a whole-grain roll with white cheddar, roasted red pepper. Warmed it in the oven to melt the cheese, then topped it with sharp mustard and lettuce. Had it with some Trader Joe’s cheddar & horseradish potato chips, which had a nice, strong bite. Once again, was forced to admit that most of the time, I make a much better sandwich than anything I could get in a deli. It’s just basic assembling the bits, nothing special. But the ingredients are pretty much the same as those from a deli, and I can tweak whatever I want.

I’d like to think I’m getting cheap in my old age, but then a sharp pair of earrings pops up online, and so much for the money I saved making my own sandwiches.

First tomatoes harvested, a trio of the Juliet grape. I think I picked them too early–they were sweet, but a little firm and lacking depth. I think I’ll leave the rest of the red ones on the vine for a few more days.

In other news…well, I have to admit that I am behind in movie watching. Way behind. Waaaay behind. Just saw Skyfall a few weeks ago. Haven’t seen Iron Man 3, or the Avengers. So I pretty much read what everyone else posted online and figured that I’d get around to it eventually. Read all the fuss about Tom Hiddleston as Loki. Thought he looked cool in the costume. Saw the Comicon video that’s been making the rounds. Xfinity On Demand doesn’t have The Avengers yet, but it did have Thor, so I watched it last night.

Okay. I get the fuss over Loki. I totally get it.

Last week at the day job coming up. 2 and a half more days….

Mirrored from Kristine Smith.

April 2017

S M T W T F S
      1
23 4567 8
9101112131415
16171819202122
23242526272829
30      

Syndicate

RSS Atom

Most Popular Tags

Style Credit

Expand Cut Tags

No cut tags
Page generated Jul. 25th, 2017 04:32 pm
Powered by Dreamwidth Studios