Monthly Archives: April 2016

Projects Done and in the Works

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Please forgive photo quality – these were taken with my iPad.

We had some glorious weather last week. It inspired iDJ into garden-helper mode. Not that I couldn’t have done this myself, but to be honest: I obtained the materials and had ideas of what to use them for, then stalled out.

They might not look like much yet, but he made trellises out of wood laths for us. These laths were packing material for something that came in to us at work, and I grabbed them whenever I could. Thought I’d use them for the fire, but they don’t burn well with the fire-door open (spit and spark so not safe for cats trying to bask). Then I wanted to make trellises out of them, but my attempt at using recycled twine failed last year. The cheapo staple gun we bought wasn’t up to the job either. So nails it was, and I’ve little patience with nails. Thankfully he does! One of the many ways we make a good partnership. 


The mostly-assembled trellises, along the wall we intend to screw em into. Three will be two-high, with an extra lath in between, and then a high one inbetween for plant-spread.

Once he had made them, we remembered that we had also bought garden-specific paint. We had ideas of painting other things, not trellises. The paint was 3 for the price of 2…we only needed one but couldn’t resist the fun colours. So! I’ve now painted them in yellow and green. No pictures yet. Next time I’ll paint before assembly; laths are way easier than grids. We still have to cut the larger bits of wood (also recycled: in-box supports for the oven we bought in 2006 and finally installed last year) that will space them nicely out from the wall (these laths are less than a centimetre thick). Then I paint the cut ends, and we drill and whatnot. His job. 

Then we plant! He already bought three new clematis. They were on sale…he loves clematis.

I just have to pressure-wash the wall (and the shed, and the house). It’s okay, I love love love pressure-washing. So satisfying! 

We also did this:


My new, and substantially smaller, strawberry patch. One of the first things we did when we bought the house was to plant strawberries at the base of this shed-wall. I never upgraded them and they became elderly and no longer produced. My fault, I hate killing plants. Then he got me raspberries. I like them a hell of a lot more than strawberries! So last year I dug out and murdered all my old strawberries. I also stuck some bearded iris in there,  because I was running out of room and ideas for where else to put them (left of pic: we will get blooms this year and I’m so excited).

I was strawberry-less. Then…we went to a garden centre we’d not been to before. In October. I asked about the three little lonely leftover pots of strawberries, and surprisingly found myself gifted with them along with our purchases. Don’t know about you, but I have to love a place that hates to waste or kill plants as much as I do. Unfortunately, there wasn’t a good place for them anymore! This is the sunniest place in the garden so they had to go here, but how? 

I wanted terracotta strawberry pots, but cut in half for wall-mounting. No such thing could we find. These planters hopefully will do the trick. Out of reach of most slugs (and I dosed them with pellets), liberally topped up with more old Christmas tree needles, and screwed into the wall! I hope they are happy there. And that the corvids don’t figure out it they are a nice and safe buffet.

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I Did Garden Stuff Today! 

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Some of my country was frosty today. I even heard rumours of snow. But not here! Today (between hail showers) we had lovely sun and not too much wind.

Of course, I was out in the garden as much as possible. We even had the grass mowed; first go of the year, thanks to iDJ’s wonderful uncles and their gas mower. They even took away the clippings, which was very welcome to me, as my compost bin is full to the top.

Digging out some of that black gold is a job for another day. Maybe tomorrow, if it stays nice.

I used the hail-shower time today to start some seeds, finally. More gazania, more rudbeckia, and trying yet again with the coleus and zinnia that have failed to germinate year after year. Just for the hell of it, I am also trying lilac seed I collected off of a friend’s tree, ancient broad beans, and pumpkin seeds that I saved from the past Halloween. These are in homemade mini-greenhouses on the best windowsill (sorry, cats). More Gerbera daisies, and some funny fuzzy sunflowers called ‘teddy bear’ that hubby found, liked, and bought for me. He does love his sunflowers. Also something called ‘honesty’ which I don’t have high hopes for, but hey; you never know.

I trimmed a lot of tiny bits of dead wood from my three blueberry bushes, and put a layer of needles from last year’s Christmas tree on top of the soil. Supposedly they are good for acid-loving plants. I still have most of a bucket of needles left over, too. Want some? They are premium: mostly dog-hair & random-strands-of-tinsel free. 

  
Glad to see the best of my three blueberry bushes is making flowers, too – by next weekend I should have some happy bees sampling them.

I also gave some needles to the azalea my mother-in-law got me two (?) years ago. It’s not been a very happy plant, and tries to flower in November for some damn reason, but this spring it seems to be settling in and realising that it has to live here.

  
Not the healthiest looking thing, is it? Weird furry leaves, too – can’t blame that on the dog. At least is it blooming at the right time, finally.

The clematis is going gangbusters. I’ve not given them any attention whatsoever. I’d say some of this is at least 12ft (3.66meters) high. 

  
I think I am going to (try to) kill the grey willow they climb on, and use its corpse as a trellis for way cooler plants. The birds love this tree as there aren’t many other trees nearby. I had plans…but my lilac from seed is now six or seven years old and still only a foot tall. It won’t do. Then again, if it wasn’t in a pot…

  
Raspberries are making flower buds, too! And spreading out into the grass like weeds. Dammit.

  
The tallest one there is six foot (nearly two meters). It is entirely new growth from last year, so all of this will make fruit. I’m going to be up to my eyes (literally) in raspberries.

  
New lilies from last year are coming up fast!

  
As are the old red-and-black ones that have been in this pot way too long now. Going to have to do some heavy culling and sharing this winter.

  
Dammed slugs have eaten the entire tops off of my yellow lilies. Hence all the blue pellets you see in all these pictures. Sorry but not sorry – I do poison the little sumbitches. I have thousands in my garden, and no chickens or hedgehogs to help.

  
Another thing the slugs have been at: the nicotiana I grew from seed last year. They did fuck-all in 2015, but overwintered well and are now getting big. 

But. There was an awful lot of leaf-litter gathered under those big leaves: from the sweet pea that you can see on the far right (it’s not any variety that makes sense), and random plant-rubbish blowing into the drive. So it was slug-heaven under those nics until today. I cut off most of the raggedy leaves before taking this pic, and obviously was liberal with the slug pellets. 

And don’t you love the ivy? I love the ivy. I didn’t plant it. I didn’t have to: its Ireland. My neighbor, however, hates it. It’s technically his wall, too. Oops. All I know is that I don’t have to paint that part because leaves.

  
Something the slugs don’t eat: garlic. I really thought I’d gotten it all last year – I harvested about a kilo. Clearly, I missed these. Still: slug pellets because they are eating the hell out of the two native primrose I stuck in this planter (which aren’t doing much but getting eaten, at the moment).

  
Lavender is coming into bloom! Had a bumblebee around today seeing if these were ripe. 

  My columbine (aquilegia) went from basic leaves to this in a week. Caught me off-guard. I haven’t even been around with the peter’s special yet. Tomorrow…
  
Last-meet Katy! She’s a flamer, but don’t hold it against her. Been an indoor plant for about a year now, and so top-heavy it isn’t funny. She’s a kalanchoe that I think I got for about 30 cents when she was done blooming. Shame that people just don’t have the patience to care for a living thing when it isn’t ‘pretty’. I’m glad I do – repotted once, needs it again, and she is quite the stunner. 

Reblog: Gory Story Time!

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I don’t think I’ve ever reblogged one of my own posts before. But some unknow person was perusing my blog today, and found this. After a re-read, I’m pretty happy with it and want to share it again.

Hardly anyone reads the old crap, right? And yeah, I’m tagging this as humour for the wayI wrote it, and that fact I survived to laugh about it. 

Content warning – lots of blood, and possibly sexual misconduct by a doctor.

This story is about the first time (that I know of) that I almost died.

“When I was 16, I kept getting colds and bronchitis all the time. It got annoying. So my parents and I talked it over and decided that I should finally have my tonsils out. I was sort of old for the surgery, but I have been a lot less prone to that sort of illness since having them out.

I don’t remember much about the surgery itself. I know they made me take my shirt off, and I clearly recall my surgeon saying to the others in the room as he moved the sheet down (why!?!?) to expose my chest, that I was “very mature.” That bothered me for years. I was ashamed to even speak about it. It felt like visual group rape. I’ve often wondered: did he/they give me a suggestion to not talk about it when I was all the way under the anaesthetic? Because after I told someone the first time, it got easier until it didn’t bother me any more.

What will bother me until the day I die is that not that he was a bit scuzzy and inappropriate, but that he cut too far down on the right side. Really, really far down. I have a pocket between my tongue and what should be throat-meat, but isn’t. Quite often, food that is small and hard gets stuck in there (peanuts and popcorn shells are the worst) and the only way to get it out is to fish it out with my index finger or suck it out while making vile-sounding slurping snotty noises. Thanks, doc.

I haven’t even gotten into the disgusting part yet. Honestly, it gets worse!

We were given a slip of paper with post-operation instructions. It said: ‘about a week after your surgery, the incision may open up and bleed. This is nothing to worry about if the amount of blood is a teacup or less.’

What the leaflet failed to mention is what to do if it was more than a teacup.

I have a mental picture of when it started: a combination of my actual view and a sort of distanced movie of where I was and what I was doing. I was outside, at the end of our driveway, right by one of the odd, light grey, cinderblock-and-concrete-stucco pillars that lined the road in front of our house. There was a small popcorn tree behind me, and I was facing toward our red-clay driveway. I was talking to one of the two beautiful, white long-haired cats that ‘belonged’ to a neighbour (my grandmother adopted one later, the other was a tom and went feral). I leaned over to pet the kitty, who had trotted across the street to see me, and suddenly I had a strange tickle in my throat.

I opened my mouth to talk to the kitty and blood sprayed on to the driveway.

I can no longer recall if I ran right inside, or gave myself a moment or two to figure out what was going on. I’m not prone to panic, and blood has never bothered me, so I’m guessing I didn’t scream for mom and run inside immediately. When I did go in, we found the leaflet and read it. One of us grabbed a smallish coffee cup (no tiny teacups in our house) and when I had filled that up, mom brought out a massive, three-quart, square Tupperware container from the cupboard. The very same one my sister and I had puked into for years when we were small and very sick. It was so deep there was little chance of splash-back, you see. Mom was practical like that.

Even better, this thing had measurements on the inside of the bowl so we could see just how much blood I was losing. The measurements were in quarts. We dumped in the coffee cup-full of blood, in the interest of accuracy. It had jelled already – perhaps due to the properties of saliva, perhaps that’s what blood does anyway – and it slopped into the bowl, keeping the shape of the cup. That was when I first realised that what was going on wasn’t “normal.”

The spray was at the very back of my throat (probably coming from the right where Dr. Inappropriate had cut too deep; it directed to the left). My mouth was constantly full, and I swallowed quite a lot without meaning to. That didn’t bother me, either. What did bother me is when it finally stopped, and I discovered that I had clots of blood everywhere inside my mouth – the worst were stuck in the top surfaces of my teeth the way potato chips do sometimes. I had to pick them out with my tongue, and swallow or spit.

The bleeding had stopped, so I grabbed the relevant Encyclopaedia Brittanica off the shelf to see how much blood someone of my age and size should have inside them. I’d lost almost a quart, according to the awesome Tupperware bowl. Brittanica said I should have about 4 quarts (a quart being about 950ml). Current Googling gives me a lower number.

In any case I was fine, it had stopped, no panic, and we’d all learned something interesting.

Then a short while later it opened up again. We rang the doctor, and he said to go to the hospital. I kept spitting into the container – good data for the hospital, right? Before we left, it had stopped again. I had closer to two quarts in the bowl, and I now knew that wasn’t a safe amount.

It was a small Florida town, and we had a (new at the time) hospital in town so the drive was short. I was fine, cheerful and chipper as I could be, and the bleeding had stopped again for the longest time yet. They decided I should to to another hospital in the next town over, and have Dr Inappropriate cauterise the area to stop the bleeding. They put me into an ambulance.

They strapped me down, as they do in ambulances apparently (this was my first and only experience inside of one). I started bleeding again on the way. I was tied down on my back, spraying blood at the back of my throat, not even able to talk because I would choke, and unable to sit up and spit it out. I always thought from movies that when a kid was in an ambulance a parent was allowed inside, too? Stupid movies. I remember feeling a bit of panic at that point, waving my arms as much as I could under the straps and gurgling for help. I swallowed a lot more blood before they let me up and I could spit. Into my mother’s bowl, still keeping track. I know I had lost over 2 quarts by then – over half my blood supply in a jellied square mass on my lap. That’s not counting the amount that I had swallowed.

By the way: ‘human’ vampires are bullshit. I know, for a fact, from this experience, that the human body can not digest fresh human blood. I will never forget what it looked and smelled like coming out the other end.

I might have gone a bit light-headed by the time I’d arrived at the other hospital for the cauterisation. I don’t remember anything else.

I know that my mom was irritated that she never got her awesome Tupperware bowl back, though.”

The Best Thing…

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…about sharing bad news with friends is how they listen, commiserate, and then make jokes or be silly to make you smile.

Friends are precious beyond measure.

I’m not sure if I’ll share my bad news here or not – it’s life changing for my small family and a major shock. If you are a friend, email me and I’ll tell you.

In the meantime, here are my boys. Showing another way of being friends and one looking out for the other.

  

Ex-Flowers

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I need a kick in the pants to get me into this year’s gardening! Part of getting started is talking about it here, which I haven’t done yet this year. Yikes.

Himself and I have only just now realised neither of us took one single picture of the snowdrops. I could swear I did! He could swear I did, too. Maybe I did with the ‘real camera’? I’m sorry, but I can’t be bothered to go get the memory card right now. Damn thing is filled with a billion pictures (that neither of us have looked at) of our town’s Paddy’s Day parade. So; no 2016 snowdrops. 

Next up was the crocus, which I kinda half-arsedly stuck in the grass patch out front a few years back. They come up half-arsedly, too. 

   
   
End of February, these are. Kinda almost past the time they were blooming, too. 

Next were my miniature daffs.

  

I also have tiny purple iris in this pot – so at least it keeps going for a while with blooms!

  
Whoops – this was in December! Forget what the hell this is. Got it super cheap, along with the beautiful black grass. Tulips are planted (transplanted) below these, and coming up now.

  
Not our garden. But hubby took this and I love it. I’m sure he did some photo-whatever-magic, too – the colours are just a bit to bright, aren’t they?

  
Lastly – our wee daffodil patch in the darkest, wettest corner of the garden. I’ve never bought a daffodil bulb – these all came from our lovely next door neighbors who know I’m a sucker for anything green and will plant anything! Over the years they have spread quite a bit, and they do make us happy this time of year. 

For an awkward corner I sure have managed to fill it. Three rose bushes are under this tree: the white one is an ugly huge beast but I love it and have trouble convincing myself to cut it back. The crocosimia live here, too, and you can see a bit of clematis coming up through the truly awful grey willow I allowed to move in. (Confession- I accidentally grew it from wild seed, didn’t know what it was, and moved it there) It’s massive, the other neighbor hates it, and lawsy me but it makes a mess in Autumn! The little birds and the clematis love it, however, so I haven’t had the heart to try to murder it. I wanted a lilac there! Oh well. Any tips on how to kill it, but leave the structure behind so I can put my new wisteria there? Yes, I do know I’m asking for major trouble with the wisteria.

No Riding!

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Someone had a bit of fun at work today. Being as it is April 1, it could have been anyone!

The target? Our recent health and safety rule to disallow using pallet trucks as skateboards in the warehouse. It is a bummer as skating around was so much fun! Oh well. We understand all the reasons why, and are being good about it.

Signs went up. I really want to know where the image came from! 

Doesn’t the image make it look fun? (It is!)

But, um, it’s Ireland, and the word ride is used in…a unique way here. Suffice to say, you don’t offer someone a ride in your car. You offer them a lift. Otherwise the snickering drowns out the rest of your sentence. 

Sex. It means having sex. Nearly always. I think you can still say ‘ride’ and not mean sex if you are talking about a vehicle with two wheels, like a push-bike, or a motorcycle, or a scooter (and didn’t I go all Irish there, with push-bike? It’s a damn bicycle).

In any case, a pallet truck technically has five or six wheels, so riding one puts it clearly into the giggle-zone. Maybe it’s because I’m a blow-in and was laughed at way too often in my first few years here; but after a decade here the new signs always give me a niggle of a giggle (a blow-in is someone from somewhere else, it might be the next county over, or the other side of the planet. It’s an affectionate term, but also reminds us blow-ins that we will never be local, ever).

So…back to the point and less of the Irish version of English: someone had fun with one of the signs. Can’t imagine who it was.

  
Now, the “artist” could have gone with a more suggestive drawing, but decided to be more subtle instead.

Happy April 1!