Thursday, October 27, 2011

Battening down is hard when you're working....

But I get Friday off, and that may help a little. I'm feeling quite behind in what I had hoped to accomplish by now in the garden. However, tomorrow it will rain, so I am going to finish some work in the house so I can get outdoors on Saturday, which, so far at least, promises to be fine.
     We have a plan to import some red osier dogwood from elsewhere to our own personal messy ditch.

It's a strange thing, red osier dogwood grows in many, many places in PEI but not in our little corner of Queens County. I was down to Georgetown yesterday, and came back on the 48 Road, and, even through some pretty heavy showers I couldn't help but notice a LOT of red osier dogwood, looking magenta, leafless and beautiful. I want that! We may go to Tryon for it, or back to the 48 Road. Depends. There's none nearer, for sure.
We are having work done on the house, which is necessitating a lot of clearing out of undisturbed cubby and hidey-holes. We're getting more insulation blown into the attic, and this means that all the stuff we stashed up there (when the house was much smaller and we didn't have a storage room with a DOOR) - kids' books, paintings, our books (mainly textbooks), bits of fabric, school stuff, business papers many years older that 7 - all of this is coming down to the living floor and being gone through. Much is being chucked out. But the process is messy.
   We are having the roof re-shingled as well, but luckily the roofer has to do the cleaning up THERE! But I should put protective pots over my perennials in the flower beds near the house, because I don't think these guys care much about flowers. If it doesn't rain too much, perhaps I can get out there tomorrow and at least do that.
    Then there're the kitchen cupboards. We have cleared out the top shelves on the upper cabinets, discovering a lot of tupperware and the like which hasn't been used in years. I'm making up a bag of the stuff which might be of use to someone, and it will go off to the Diabetes Association when it's filled. I do hope that the new cupboards will have more useable storage space. I'm banking pretty heavily on the pantry unit being a good place to stash a lot of those use-now-and-again things like the slow cooker and the wok. And the china platters and so on.
    One bonus thing in the attic stuff was a box of yarns, mostly teeny bits of mohair which I threw out, but also about 6 balls of Kroy Sock and Sweater yarn in a nice manly dark grey, as well as burgundy (3), blue (1) and white (1). It must be from long ago, because the price tags indicate that they cost under $2 each, and were purchased in Souris at the pharmacy. There's a bit of ribbing knit, and some of the colours are wound onto bobbins....was I thinking of making some hideous intarsia sweater? Thank goodness the 80s are over. I can now use the yarn for socks!
    We put half of the fire wood in on Monday after supper, and as soon as we have a couple of dry days again the rest will follow. It's been chilly, but not enough to justify lighting the furnace just yet. We don't need the steady heat, just a blast of the oil at suppertime and another in the morning. It was 2 degrees this morning!
     Once the roof is re-shingled we are getting a solar hot water panel installed. This will necessitate us replacing our 1993 oil-fired hot water heater with an electric one (for back-up). The Co. has priced a 60-litre heater for us - our present one is 30 litres. We think this is excessive, as we've never run out of hot water with the 30. As I keep doing laundry in cold water, I wonder what difference it will make to have an unlimited supply of hot. Doesn't hot water washing wear out one's clothes faster? Or is that all down to the old-fashioned top-loading washer?
       In my plan to finish Bathroom #3, I want to put in a stacked washer & dryer (front-loaders) and I've been worried that they will take up a lot of room - I'm going to build them a little closet with a regular door, as we have several doors that we haven't needed yet. There are three 30-inch ones, and one 35-inch one. I have been steeling myself to use the big one, as the washers and dryers I've been looking at are all HUGE - over 30 inches wide, and we'll need to be able to get them out of there if (or rather WHEN) they go wrong. (And many of them are grey! What kind of foolish is that? Isn't doing laundry depressing enough, without that?)
     However, in Halifax on the weekend we saw smaller ones - still front-loaders, but 24-inches, not these wash-17-pairs-of-jeans at once behemoths. And of course we don't need huge ones, so this makes me easier in my mind and I can finally go ahead and build the laundry closet, and get on with installing the bathtub, etc. I have hopes that our kitchen-cupboard man might be able to do us a vanity for the bathroom, and then we'll be all set.
     We were unsuccessful in finding any granite tiles for the counter top in Halifax - there were plenty of choices if you wanted black or grey, or a bright Barbie-pink, but nothing DECENT at all. Nothing with the bit of subtle colour that matches what we have - oak floor and cabinets, stained a mission brown, dark green walls and rust-red finish. How difficult can that be?  We really aren't that fussy - we just want to have the counters a lighter colour as the rest of the room is so dark.
     And we almost bought some bamboo flooring, but realized, when we got it on the cart in the store, that there was NO WAY that these four 6.5-foot packages were going to fit in our CAR! There are times when only a truck will do.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Battening Down the Garden

Blooming things have been coming to an end, but it's still a busy time as I collect some seeds, and divide some perennials which are getting overgrown. The Rudbeckia Cherry Brandy has been a star, and I especially like the ones with double petals. None in the accompanying photo, however.

I was lucky enough to find a couple of things I have really wanted at the Island Pride Nursery on the 70-Mile Yard Sale - an astrantia (the white one) and a Helebore. I also got an anemone Hupehensis called September Charm, and a primrose, which had a burgundy bloom when I got it, but which has been blooming white since. I think there are actually three plants in the pot, two white and a burgundy. I want to divide them before putting them in the ground. Or maybe just in a pot to keep close by.
I have planted all but the primrose in extant flower beds, with the hellebore just to the left of the path to the door, as I want to see it close up when it blooms. I spent my last week of freedom re-doing the path, including pulling away the old steps, levering up the patio stones, and digging out the weeds in the sand underneath. Then I filled in and levelled with small gravel, replaced the patio stones (the 4 big ones - 24-inch square), filled in the spaces with the gravel, and then cut and installed the stringers for three shallow steps. We had bought white cedar 2X4X8's for the treads at Arsenault's Mill and we cut them up - deciding that we wanted the steps five feet long, not four, which meant we were 3 2X4's short. We eventually bought more at Home Depot, but they don't match - they are red cedar instead of white, and they are planed, so they are a bit smaller than the Arsenault ones. Ah well. They will last forever at least. And I have quite a few 3-foot bits of 2X4 that I can use to make garden furniture. No more pine for that purpose - they rot in no time!

We had a dreadful week of wind and rain, and then a lovely return to summer for the Thanksgiving weekend. We went down to Little Harbour for cranberries on the Saturday. It was quite wet under foot in spots, but there were cranberries a-plenty.  Some of them weren't very ripe. We are taking care to sort and clean, and maybe ripen, them right away this time. Last year they were put in the room over the garage at Christmas-time, and were forgotten. They ended up freezing and rotting. This year's batch is going into the freezer when they colour up a bit more.
We also dug up some cranberry plants, and on Sunday I planted them into my newly-dug cranberry bog. There were only 10 plants in all, and only a couple of them had any amount of roots attached, so I'm not expecting too much. I had filled the pit with peat moss, and then I covered it with white pine needles. Some sand on the top, to hold the whole thing down, will be the next step. I am tempted to check out the cranberry plants at the back of Reggie's farm - I haven't been back there for years, but there used to be cranberries there in a boggy bit, and they may dig up more easily than the ones growing on the dunes in Little Harbour.
I have planted a pound of our garlic, which is Music, and another type which I had bought at the garlic place in Caledonia - I think it's Carpathia. The pine cones are to keep the cats from digging in the bed and disturbing the cloves, while they are getting their roots established.
Our Yellow Delicious apple tree has an amazing amount of fruit on it - I've made apple-and-ground-cherry crisp three times now, got people out to pick a bag of apples each at Thanksgiving dinner on Monday, and still the tree is covered. I must bring some in to work. I wish tomatoes had been so good, but the blight took them off fairly quickly. Even the 6 plants I kept in the greenhouse have it. They are at least still producing ripe tomatoes, especially cherry ones, but the ones outdoors are well and truly frost-bitten. The ground-cherries have been touched as well, but there are a lot of ripe and unripe cherries left - I will have to cover them as there is a frost warning for tonight.
I have been working on a pair of Selbu Mittens - the Selbu pattern is for a hat, but I thought the mittens would be more useful immediately. I am using some Knitpicks undyed merino-and-silk and a Kroy sock in a nice mott-ley turquoise which will work well with my fall suede jacket. I wore the jacket today for the first time, so I'd better get busy. Mitten weather could strike at any time.