Archives for category: in the dooryard

The good:

It appears I successfully transplanted a crocus bed.

The bad:

The irises that I planted in the old crocus bed were tricked by our early spring/gotcha snow combination and they remain sad and frostbitten.  Sure, I can grow 50/$1 crocus bulbs from a discount store but irises originally from my grandmother’s garden? Those I kill.

The ugly:

I call this the Redneck Trampoline. They played on it for about half an hour.

(In case you live in the area and are thinking, “Wait, my crocuses went by two weeks ago…” I will begrudgingly admit that I took these picture two weeks ago and then got a bit…distracted. And forgot to post. The irises aren’t looking much better, though, so it all still holds true.)


We don’t get many hurricanes up here, really. Every few years something will sideswipe us, but it’s not something I spend much time fretting about. Hurricanes: not really my gig.

However, we certainly are used to other kinds of storms.  We lose power regularly, usually a few times every winter and once or so in the summer.  When we built our house, we planned for the occasional, extended power loss.  Our stove and oven are gas and easily lit with a match.  Our woodstove, while not mighty, will heat the house to a comfortable level if necessary.  We always have food on hand that can be easily heated on the stove and our coffeemaker is a simple stovetop espresso maker.  Sadly, our water comes from a well and the water pump doesn’t work without electricity, but we keep a few gallons stashed away for an emergency source. We keep a good pile of books, games, and puzzles at the ready.  Although we’ve never had to, I estimate we could hunker down without power for a week fairly comfortably, if necessary.  We’d smell a bit, but we’d otherwise be fine.

All this to say that our preparations for Hurricane Irene looked like this: buy milk, pick up loose stuff in the yard, run a few more gallons of water.

And, most importantly, following a lesson learned after a very unfortunate morning without power last winter, we pre-ground the coffee.

Bring it, Irene.

Now that we are past a weekend, let me fill you in on what happened the weekend before that.  Then maybe next Monday, I will write a post about what we did this last weekend. That way you will always be approximately 8 days behind on my life.  I’m pretty sure is how this blogging thing works, right?

Anyway.  The past weekend before this last weekend (must work on that descriptive, I think), we harvested one of our potato boxes.  This is the second year that we’ve done potato boxes, which, theoretically, are a method of growing many, many potatoes in a small space.  Last year, we filled the boxes with straw, which didn’t work at all.  We got potatoes in the first layer, but all those other boards just disguised really tall potato plants and a lot of damp straw.  This year we decided to fill the boxes with dirt and try again. And, so, the past weekend before the last weekend, we decided to dig out one of the boxes.

First, you remove the boards from the box:

Does that build enough suspense? Are we all properly invested in this drama?

Good, because that’s the only picture I took of the process.

That’s fine, though, because the process goes something like this: remove boards, dig potatoes.

I like digging potatoes.  I like digging potatoes so much that after taking that picture I put down the camera, shoved everybody out of the way, and plunged my hands down in there to see what I could find. I came to my senses about 20 minutes later as I was examining the dirt wedged under my fingernails and remembering: oh, yes. I own garden gloves.

This type of thing is why I don’t bother with manicures.

But it was worth it, because  I found this:

It had some friends.  This many friends:

Can you see my feet in the background there? That’s about when I was frowning down at the potato box and thinking: that’s it?

Annabel’s asking the same question.  We are usually of one mind about this sort of thing.

It’s not a bad haul, I suppose, and if I remember correctly it’s better than we did last year.  But I look at this and I think: one meal.  We’re a family of four. That’s one meal.  If we take our time eating it, that’s 45 minutes of food.  If we average 45 minutes to eat a meal, three times a day, 365 days a year, that’s 49,275 minutes of eating I need to somehow fill.  And I just spent two months growing 45 teensy little minutes of that.

If we were dependent on me actually gardening to feed my family, that’s 45 minutes of food and 49,230 minutes of not-food.  I’m pretty sure this is not a successful food to not-food ratio.

I don’t know how pioneer folk did it.  I don’t know how my ancestors did it.  I’d like to pretend that, if push came to shove, I’d have the ability to keep my family alive via my wits and hard work.

And I could. For 45 minutes.

Well, we’ve got that other potato box.  And a few pumpkins growing out on the vines.  Some beans.  Green tomatoes ready to ripen if the blight doesn’t get us.

Maybe 225 minutes of food.

And 49,050 minutes of starvation. If it’s not a Leap Year.

It’s a start, I suppose.

Note to self: next year, three potato boxes is clearly the way to go.

Also, maybe I’ll try to shoot a moose. Or two.

About a month ago, someone in our neighborhood lost their cat.

This is not an unusual occurrence in our area.  We see flyers posted constantly about lost cats.  And here’s why there are so many flyers: if you have an outside cat in my neighborhood, it’s going to get eaten.


It’s just a matter of time.  Between the rampaging coyotes, sneaky fishers, and mighty eagles, there isn’t a cat big enough, mean enough, or clever enough to make it too long in our woods.  This is why every time I see one of those blasted flyers (“Missing: yellow long-haired cat. Goes by Sparky. Likes Fancy Feast.”) I am forced to launch into my tirade about how the people who leave their cats outside even though the cat will, eventually, meet its fate in the belly of some local beast are awful people who don’t deserve to have pets if they can’t even be bothered to clean a litter box now and then. And how can they even pretend to feel badly about it, pretend that they miss their cat and would like it back, when they let it get eaten in the first place? They are awful, awful people and I wish  many itchy skin diseases upon all of them.

And that’s how I feel about that.

And that’s how I felt about the flyer that was tucked into our door one afternoon announcing that a small black cat (“a little shy but friendly”) had gone missing soon after its owners moved into the area.  I did my little rant, I made a quick wish that it was a fast trip down the coyote gullet, and I threw the flyer into the trash.

A few days ago, I came home from work and Michael said, “Remember that flyer someone left in our door about a missing cat?”

Of course, those lazy good-for-nothing horrible pet owners. Why?

“Was it a small black cat? A male?”

Yes, Why, did you see it?

“Yeah, out back.  Looked a little thin and scraggly.”

Did you pick him up?  Did you call them?

“How could I call them? You threw away the flyer.”

Now I didn’t lose the cat. I didn’t refuse to catch the cat. And yet somehow? I am the one who feels guilty in this situation.

I hate these people and their little lost cats.

For a few years in my 20s, I lived in Washington, DC.  I never expected to stay there forever, so I didn’t put down too many roots but I enjoyed the city for what it was.  There was plenty to enjoy.  Free museums, numerous entry-level jobs, lots of people of a similar age in search of the best happy hour deals, and, best of all, a real spring.

Maine doesn’t typically have a spring, where “spring” equals an actual span of time lasting for more than two days, so I was pretty blown away by March in a more southerly place.  DC has glorious springs.  Days upon weeks upon months of gradually unfolding green, flowers, and, of course, cherry blossoms.  Oh, cherry blossoms.  I loved the cherry blossoms.  I would leave my office at 5, take the Metro down to the Mall, and walk all the way around the Tidal Basin, breathing it all in before heading home.  If it was a particularly nice cherry blossom season, I would perform this little ritual daily.  March in DC was really a season of miracles.

There are no cherry blossoms in Maine.  There is no real spring in Maine.  There’s winter, and there’s mud, and then it’s summer.  After a few years of March desperation–that vague sense of doom and dread and conviction that the whole world will be brown forever–I began to see the value in adding a little color to this time of year.

So I planted some crocuses.  Which I do not in any way mean to suggest are equivalent to cherry blossoms, but as crocuses are really the only thing that grows in Maine in March, it’s the best I can do.

Anyway, it’s all working out splendidly.

Check out my crocus bed:

Isn’t that springy?

Just for comparison purposes, here’s a shot of the cherry blossoms:

Photo borrowed from Radio Rover on Flickr.

Downright uncanny how I have recreated that atmosphere, isn’t it?

Here’s another angle of my handiwork:

I like how the splash of color offered by the kayak and the “don’t hit this, plow guy” stick really make everything pop.

In short: there is no spring. Spring is a lie.  I will never see flowers again.

Also, if you are a friend of mine still living in DC?  Please go smell the cherry blossoms for me.

We have no idea what we are doing.

But that certainly has never stopped us before.

Last weekend was a busy one by my standards.  Of course, the highlight of most of my weekends is a trip to the dump and the library, so my standards are pretty low.  However, I am willing to bet that even highflying folks like yourselves would have been pooped out after a weekend like this one.


Sam’s birthday!  The lead up to Sam’s birthday involved lots of conversations with Annabel that went something like this:

A: Is Sam going to have a pink birthday?
Me: No, I don’t think so.
A: A blue birthday?
Me: Um…
A: Or maybe a green birthday?
Me: You know that birthdays don’t have to be a specific color, right?
A: I think he would like a yellow birthday.
Me: *sigh*

Annabel helped me make the carrot cake for the party and as we were grating up the carrots in the Cuisinart she suddenly yelled, “Yay! Sam’s having an ORANGE birthday!”

Well, that would have been a good idea.  Sadly, I saved the making of the cake for a snow day, which meant I was restricted in my choice of ingredients to what I already had on hand.  And I didn’t have cream cheese for a proper cream cheese frosting on hand.  So instead I made a caramel icing which tasted great but meant that Sam actually had a, um, brown birthday.

With red lettering.

This is not the most attractive birthday cake I’ve ever seen.

Sam cared about its appearance about as much as you’d expect any one-year old to care.

Which is to say, he didn’t care at all.



On Friday night I went to a Woman Party.  I have no pictures of the Woman Party because I think the first rule of the Woman Party is that you don’t talk about what happened at the Woman Party.  And you certainly don’t offer up pictures.  So you’ll have to use your imagination about the Woman Party, only don’t use too much imagination because I’m not that kind of girl.


On Saturday we went to the dump and the library.  Just for a refreshing change of pace.  Oh, and also to the local chili cook-off where I entered an enormous batch of my Triple Bean Chipotle chili into the vegetarian competition.

I didn’t win, which is not at all shocking considering my recipe was developed by throwing a bunch of stuff into  a pot, but it was a little embarrassing considering there were only five vegetarian entrants.  But it was a good time and it got me and my 1972 era crock pot out of the house so I’m pretending that counts as a win.


We went sledding.

No further commentary needed.

And then we watched the Super Bowl.

No further commentary needed on that either.

Except to say that our “All the Crap You Can Eat” Super Bowl tradition was such a success that I was actually forced to remove my rings for comfort reasons on Monday.

See?  Not only was it a busy weekend, it just kept on giving.

We had another snow day today.  Another foot or so.  Who knows how much, really?  Why keep track once the snowbanks are taller than you and the dog disappears in the drifts?  The snow is higher than a medium-sized black mutt.  That’s how much snow we got.

We are making progress on the snow day front, however. I think I’ve finally figured out the best way to handle the situation.

Excellent.  That’s much better.  I seem to have hit on something here.

Oh yes.  This is working out just fine.

PS: No Snow Day Cookies today.  We did, however, bake a cake for a Certain Someone who is turning one year old tomorrow.

on top of a Toyota Corolla.

on either side of a chicken path.

on top of a picnic table.

with a crazy dog playing in it.

with a small child standing in front of it.

with a road running through it.

And now you know.

This right here is reason enough to have two kids.

They want to wish you a happy new year, since I’m too lazy for that, too.