Not much going on yet, other than the usual spring cleanup. (I'm usually finished by now, but I kept waiting for things to die back . . . ) John is progressing on the new shed—frame is up, rafters next. (I think. I'm not a builder.) Otherwise, the big excitement lately has been going to Wal-Mart (I know, I know) to buy new underwear and a couple of curtain rods.
There are all sorts of crocuses, coming up in places I've not seen them before; John says Cynthia planted them before she left, and they just haven't bloomed until this year. Perhaps the Jacobean lily by the grapevine will bloom this year? Or have the voles eaten it, too? I have one bed cleaned, and have discovered that the thrift is already blooming, and that my flowering almond and something else (spirea? the tag disappeared over the winter), both bought last year, are full of buds. The iris we transplanted last year are looking good. Dayllilies are coming up; so, alas, is garlic mustard. I wonder if we can eat it?
Oh, and a bear came by the other night; he demolished several birdfeeders and carried off the suet feeders. We think it was the smallish one who appeared one night last fall, scarfing up sunflower seeds on the side porch, but rather unfortunately he was there before I got up so I didn't see him. Or her. Whatever. (Bear season—One of John's friends at Ingles walks to and from work, down toward the library; she saw a mother and two cubs the other night on her way home.) Some feeders have been put out again (though I am bringing in the suet at night, just in case; he probably doesn't much like finch feed) and the others are in a box by John's chair, waiting for new handles (must get wire, next trip to the hardware).
The geese are beginning to fly north. The wrens are nesting, somewhere (I suspect on the front porch, sigh); they're flying back and forth with wads of nesting stuff. The hawks are courting, though I have only heard and not seen them so far. The squirrels are still chasing each other about, but I think the ladies have retired to their nests and this is only the squirrel equivalent of locker-room towel snapping.
Plant something: Once again, not yet. Seeds are coming in, though. Bought woodland bulbs to plant in the shady part of the garden. Need to go to Charlie-and-Betty's to pick up several reserved flats of pansies, and possibly some lamiastrum (sp?) to go with the now-identified plant Mom gave me last year. (Someone gave it to her and she didn't remember what it was; it had lived happily in a pot on her porch for a couple of years. I saw some with a tag on it when we went to look at pansies, and I want some more plants! It's decorative and hardy, and doesn't appear to be a vole appetizer.) Chives and garlic chives that have existed unhappily on the kitchen windowsill (north exposure, mostly good for spiderplants) over the winter are now deciding that spring is here, or at least very close, and have begun to grow again. The nettle patch is coming to life, which means I need to get out and move the ones that are still in the old patch (not in a good location. My bad.) and only minutely prickly.
Harvest something: Many, many eggs. Currently 18 dozen in refrigerator (in a week's time), two dozen in kitchen waiting to be boiled, two more dozen in bucket from last night. Garlic is coming up; soon I can harvest tips to go in stirfrys.
Preserve something: More jam. Sharon at Foreign Affairs (Pacific Rim foods) gave us a bushel, more or less, of lemongrass and another of Thai hot peppers. John cleaned and boiled the lemongrass to give us . . . juice? nectar? . . . whatever it's called, there are half a dozen quarts of it canned and waiting to be added to things. We spent the better part of two days destemming hot peppers (and frequently washing hands, and mostly remembering not to touch any body parts without said handwashing), and then John made some dipping sauce, some hot jam, and some pepper jelly, and there is still a bowl of peppers in vinegar in the refrigerator . . . and the stems and bits, plus a couple of handfuls that were too far along to use, went to the chickens (who jumped gleefully and promptly devoured them, stems and all). Made a batch of apple butter with the last of the apples.
Waste not: The usual feeding of scraps to the chickens, and using assorted saved cardboard boxes as firestarting materials, along with trash mail. See above heading for peppers/lemongrass—she was getting ready to dumpster these. John is reusing some old lumber for the new storage shed; we've had to buy most of it, but he has a few boards, a panel that will make a door, and a bunch of odds and ends of nails left from other projects.
Want Not: Picked up four pairs of military-surplus pants for John; they're wool blend twill and only need hemming up. Good dress pants, for those few occasions he needs some. Along with the suit coat and dress pants from Goodwill last month, these will live in the closet in a suit bag with cedar chips. (Now, if I can only find an inexpensive black dress . . . we are, after all, reaching the age when periodic attendance at funerals is inevitable.) I an converting an old Indian gauze skirt (elephants!) which has a huge, unmendable hole in one of the panels into a set of curtains. There's so much fabric I just cut out the panel with the hole, cut off the elastic, and still have significant pieces left. This will cover a window that doesn't open but does get afternoon sun, at least before the fig leafs out, and I will enjoy looking at it. Still working on John's mother's house: he reclaimed a recliner, and passed another on to a friend, along with her dining room table and chairs.
Eat the Food: Eggs and more eggs. Oven roasted pot roast (James Beard—3-4 pound piece of beef chuck, bottom round, etc. Top with onion soup mix [this is a 60s cookbook] and sliced tomato, wrap in foil and set in a pyrex dish. Cook at 300 degrees for five hours or so. I use Penzeys fines herbes or spice mix of some sort, onions, and dried tomatoes preserved in oil.); we don't eat this so much except in winter, when it's good to keep the chill off the [north-facing] kitchen. Pot roast sandwiches, with mustard and onions on homemade bread.
Build community systems: Not this week, though I am planning to take a dozen eggs when I go to the yarn shop this afternoon . . .
Skill up: Working on my knitting . . . have produced a striped hat with no jogs! and a colorwork headband, on which the bindoff was really awful and I couldn't figure out why. I studied on it for a couple of days and then the light dawned: knit and purl ribbing bound off in only knit does not work. I suppose this qualifies me for "older and wiser now".
Health Notes (my own addition): Blood sugar up this week, I suspect due to allergies, which have made their appearance with warm weather. (Do not attempt to part me from my Kleenex!) No walking last week, due to (1) yardwork, (2) arthritic knees, again with warm weather and every-other-day rain, and (3) catching up the ironing, which required most of one afternoon. My knees function normally, more or less, if I take enough aspirin, but . . . so there's aspirin for when I need it (i.e., trips to huge stores with concrete floors), and the rocking chair and knitting when I can stop every half hour to rest them. I really hate having to cater to an aging body, but what's the alternative? Anyway, feeling pretty good otherwise!
The old ladies approve this chair . . . and John only thinks it's his.