Monday, May 30, 2011

In Which We Get A Lemon House

It all started with this: two lemon trees, a concrete wall, some mulch, and a cold frame.

It seemed so easy at the time. Stick them in the ground. Watch them grow. Harvest lemons - in the event that they fruited. What I didn't bank on was how much growing them - this not being your typical lemon growing climate - would obsess me.

Okay, maybe I did. I might not have recognized it at the time, but hindsight is always 20/20, isn't it?
So I planted the lemons, and left them. Then I started looking at the path to the cold frame from this angle. The cold frame is at the end on the left, that small blob of plastic. But the path was so very crooked. Bumpy. Hard to mow. Awkward when picking peas and beans from the arbour (on the right). I will flatten this path, I thought. I will lift the sod, remove some soil, then replace the sod. The path will be flat and smooth...

...and it will lead to a Lemon House.
Fast forward several months, some discussions with family members (some willing, some rather, hmmm, let's just say recalcitrant and leave it at that), and many many discarded ideas.

Here is the germ of the method we finally settled on - in the bed of that red pickup. An old glass door set into a wooden frame. The man on the left (AKA: Willing Father) built it; the man on the right (AKA: Recalcitrant Husband) assisted in getting it into this truck. He has no idea what he's in for, which is probably a good thing.
Ignorance really IS bliss in some cases.
Once we got the glass over to the back yard of our house, there was, this being a Male Building Event, much measuring and discussion.

Endless measuring and discussing, actually.

Which was when I noticed that Recalcitrant Husband was standing on my lemon tree.

Bad Recalcitrant Husband.

We have a brief break while I intervene in the Male Building Event. Recalcitrant Husband, for all his wonderful qualities, has a long and distressing history of standing on plants in the garden without any clue OR concern whatsoever. When apprised of his Plant Standing Transgressions he doesn't bat an eyelid, either. "Well, what's it doing there?" he says, sometimes rather rudely. "That's not a good place for a —" I point out that he's actually IN the garden, where plants are SUPPOSED to be, but he never quite grasps the irony of my remarks. So I must be vigilant.

Here we have Lemon trees with Protective Coatings.

They laughed when I did this. Recalcitrant Husband might even have rolled his eyes at Willing Father a little, but I remained firm: either the lemons have a cover throughout the entire Building Experience or I stand around barking out remarks like "YOUR FOOT IS ON THE LEMON TREE!" and "WATCH THAT LEMON TREE!" and "ACCKKKKKK! THE LEMON TREE IS GETTING SQUISHED!" and maybe even a little "GET YOUR FEET OFF THAT LEMON TREE."

Fortunately everyone saw the sense in keeping the covers on the lemon trees.
They then resumed their endless measuring and discussing.



Measuring some more.

Discussing some more.

Then there was this lot, who spent a lot of time goading other people into getting ice cream from the freezer and eating it. They look innocent enough, but don't be leaving them near your freezers any time soon, lemme tell you.

And then suddenly it was up. The glass was on, the posts were in place, the frame was straight, the supports were screwed in.

It all looked wonderful, from any angle.

But it was when I was taking this picture, ostensibly of the post and concrete block, that I noticed how, well, sunken the lemon trees were.

The lemons were sprawled on the ground, too. They'd been like that all winter.

Not a good look for a lemon, if you ask me.

So today I dug them up and set them on a base of soil and compost and manure. Built a little brick box around them.

Took another picture.

Stood back.



Then thought "Hmm, it needs a little something on the sides."

And there you have it: The Lemon House

Before & After

I love these poppies. I can't think why everyone doesn't grow them. They are soft and frilly and glorious on a sunny day.

Princess Victoria Louise

Saturday, May 28, 2011

It's Coming...

A clever little short for all you HP fans out there:

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

LEGO Wednesday

Some of us like building things out of LEGO. In fact, I'd go so far as to say that some of us are slightly obsessed with building things out of LEGO. Some of us can stay in our cave of a room for hours building Things That Go. So some of us thought we'd develop a new blog feature, in which we showcase the things that some of us are building (because some of us like being part of the bloggy world and are tired of hearing about all the clever things a certain sister is doing).

So, with that in mind, here is a video of an item a certain nine year old someone built the other day. And yes, we DO know that it's not Halloween. It's just that some of us really like Halloween.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Here Comes The Sun

When Dominic went outside this morning to open up the greenhouse and cold frame, he did it BEFORE breakfast, not long after, as we usually do.

Look - it's 7:15am and there something causing the Apricot Punch superbells (calibrachoa) to turn their heads.

Could it be — the sun?

I just planted this yesterday: besides the Apricot Punch I've got Trailing Lilac Mist and Coralberry Punch, with a little Snowstorm Giant Snowflake in there for trailing appeal. Sounds like a Webkinz game, doesn't it? I half expect to see a pink pony and a little furry hedgehog hitting yellow triangular stuffies around with sticks or something.

And what better to do after opening the greenhouse than to have a swing on the willow tree?

Such greenness after such a wet spring. Suddenly everything is lush and glowing again.

Happy green trio: hakonechloa macra 'Aureola,' the front porch Christmas tree and a destined-for-topiary box shrub.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Random Notes

— am enduring Hockey Playoffs. Need I say more?

— took a basic First Aid course with a number of Desperately Cool teenagers. Watched the highly animated instructor leap around and make funny jokes in front of a very tough audience (see note about D.C. teenagers). Eventually everyone warmed up and laughed instead of staring blankly (which, I am informed by reliable sources, is not intended to look blank - it's intended to look casual and hip and super cool). There was one tricky moment when he used me as a Fork Stabbing Model and wrapped my hand so tight it went purple, but that was just a minor blip on an otherwise charming afternoon.

— Woke FDPG up at 2:45 am on the morning of the Royal Wedding and sat through a couple of hours of wildly pleasant royal bonding time. Everything was so beautiful, so exciting, so sweet, so charming, and so very delightful that we both went back to bed around 5am, feeling as though our strenuous efforts to stay awake had been entirely worth it.

— watched the Neil Gaiman-penned episode of Doctor Who. Suranne Jones is very compelling, we all agreed. It was not wildly thrilling. It lacked something.

— watched the Survivor Finale. It was, thankfully, a foregone conclusion that ended as it should have done. Sometimes the Resentful Jury gets a little caught up in jealous subjectivism and votes for the Coattail Hanger-on instead of the Diabolical Mastermind, but this time no one could dispute the perfection of the game Boston Rob played. Well, that and the fact that the only other choices were Phillip, a nut-job of a man if there ever were one, and Natalie, a naive 19 year old "dancer" who clung to Rob like grim death in lieu of actually doing anything of her own volition. By the way, what's a "dancer"? What kind of dancing are we talking about: "dancing" or dancing? And where are we doing it? I remain mystified. The fact that Rob was exceedingly charismatic, tanned, and slim from weeks eating next to nothing added to the thrill of the game, giving FDPG and I the perfect end to the day. "Luckily I'm no ordinary man" is my new favourite phrase.

— previewed an Eminem CD for the teenager and decided that it was best on MY iPod and not his. "Explicit lyrics" is an understatement. One song did not make the cut. Eminem, I like you but that song was just plain gross. Irony my foot.

— watching Jekyll. Oh. My. Goodness. James Nesbitt. Lovely.

— bought a gorgeous new kind of lavender: Otto Quast.

— am gearing up for a Gardening Extravaganza Weekend. Can you spell H-O-L-I-D-A-Y?

I can!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Scenes From A Garden

Today it looked as though summer might actually be arriving. It was hot AND sunny at the same time. It was mildly disconcerting. This hasn't happened since, oh, hmm, let me think, well, since last summer. The greenhouse was like a sauna. We opened the window and the door and I plied the pots with water.

"You have the afternoon off!" I informed the kids, much to their dismay (Tuesday is a good day academically, around these parts). But I had left the garden to pine in weeds and shrubby things for far too long, so off I went, throwing a "go outside!" over my shoulder (aimed mostly at the Boy Who Is Obsessed With LEGO). Then I went off into the garden.

Dig. Edge. Fork.

Weed. Fill wheelbarrow many times. Feel old and feeble lugging wheelbarrow up and down hill to compost bin and so enlist services of teenager, who is lying on grass directly on the way to the compost. Which means that I have to opportunity of observing him regularly. He is pretending to be asleep. Luckily I am not the sort of person who is deterred by this sort of subterfuge. He labours for me good-humouredly, if somewhat reluctantly. Lugging wheelbarrows full of weeds around is not as alluring as, say, listening to music on his iPod and lying prone on the ground with a hoodie over his face in the sun.

I water the garden with fish fertilizer and spread bags of chicken manure over the freshly dug flower border. The smell attracts Oliver the Dog of Little Brain from down the road. Oliver attempts to roll in chicken manure, almost rolling over new calendula seedlings in the process.I smack Oliver on the bum with my garden fork and send him home.

Squish caterpillars on fruit trees. Examine for tent caterpillars. Spray more BT . Admire fruit trees. This year I seem to have a - knock on wood - better handle on my Irritating Chewing Insect On Fruit Tree issue. Last year I lost several crops to them. I also lost a nice crop of apples from this tree (see rock sign below for identification). I spray BT weekly now, and get into every crevice. It is, and here I apologize effusively to former garden centre employees, highly effective when used, umm, properly.

I admire the beans, onions, and purple sprouting broccoli, ignoring the fact that there should be a couple of rows of peas in there, if the interminable spring rain hadn't ROTTED them.


Sigh. The things us gardeners do.

Then, work having ended, I wandered around with a camera.

Columbines, as viewed by an ant.

An overwintering avocado. I discovered it when I was clearing out the greenhouse. I thought it was dead.

But it knew it wasn't.

And now look at it.

It's going to sit with the lemons. And the calamondin orange.

The fig. The fig. The fig.
(channel your inner Monty Python and say it the way you'd say The Larch)

I don't know what sort of fig it is, because someone in gave it to Richard when we lived in Vancouver, when it was still a tiny plant in a small pot. Now it's a large plant in a giant oak tub.

I learned how to prune it last year, from the fellow who sold me the lemon trees. It has made a huge difference in it's growing habits. It's no longer leggy and overgrown. Now it's compact and fruitful. Fruitful, get it?

Such a wit, aren't I.

A peach, just getting started.

Hmm, this reminds me of how very OLD I am.

Moving on....

One of the more fortuitous results of learning how to apply BT in the spring is having actual blossoms on the blueberry bushes.

As opposed to viewing their chewed carcasses, covered with caterpillar poo.

Don't you go wombling in the nettle bed, now...

Quick, who recognizes that quote?

So many spring flowers are purple. Here we have a purple clematis, sitting next to the purple lilac...

And that's it for the garden tour. Hope your day is sunny, where ever you are!

Must Have Been A Full Moon

First, I wore my shirt inside out all through the Chinese grocery today. I only discovered it when I went to replicate the trick the man in front of me at the checkout did for FDPG, to show Dominic (who had been busy looking for coins under all the tills and as such wasn't involved in the checkout antics but managed to find $2.74 in change). The joke, which was weird and inventive, involved sleeves and wrists and when I went to pull my sleeve down, to demonstrate, I discovered that the hem was unusually, well, hemmed. I've had this shirt for a while and I'd never seen the hem look quite like that, so I followed the hem up to the shoulder seam and noticed that the seam was outside the sleeve - a place it normally isn't. I glanced briefly at the front placard and it was only then - yes, call me slow - but it WAS only then that I realized that my nice white peasant top was INSIDE OUT.

I felt extremely idiotic. Even more than usual. I was still laughing rather immoderately when Max hopped into the car, after having put the cart away.

"What's so funny?" he demanded, in his demanding teenagerish way.

"MY TOP IS INSIDE OUT!" I shrieked, in between much hysteria. The twins were in the back, Dominic still wondering what was so funny about wearing a top inside out and FDPG, wondering WHEN I was going to get to that funny joke because she had SUCH a starring role in it.

"Why did you have to tell me that?" he said, much put out. "That is just so embarrassing, MAAWWM." This is his new way of referring to me: MAAWWM. I have no idea what the significance of his American pronunciation habit is but it's highly annoying so actually that might BE the only usual ripost is to call him MIX, pretending that I am in fact from New Zealand, which highly annoys him. Mature of us, I know.

Then, after dinner, I was walking around with my mug of tea, looking for something. I'd tell you what I was looking for but it would only make me look even MORE idiotic so I won't, but I will tell you that at one point I LOST my mug of tea. I spent another 10 minutes looking for it, then went and whined to Richard, who told me that I'd left it in the hallway cupboard. I went to the hallway cupboard, highly (and vocally) critical that I would leave a mug of tea in a cupboard, and gosh, but there it was. Sitting on the shelf amongst the tins.

"How did you know I'd left it there?" I asked Richard, my mind swimming with spy cams.

"I know your thought processes," he said, not taking his eyes off the newspaper.

So I decided to regale him with my Inside Out Top story. "Guess what I did at the Chinese grocery store today?"I asked him.

"You wore your top inside out," he said, still not taking his eyes off the newspaper.

He swears no one told him.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Monday, May 2, 2011

Voting Day: Part II

The twins and I have been working through this book for the past couple of weeks. It's called How To Build Your Own Country. Every time we went to the Teach Supply store I'd glance through it, then think "Nyah, I don't need to spend $18 when I can get them to read the newspaper and stuff."

Then one day I thought "Who am I kidding? Even I don't read some of that political drivel. Boooooring." So I bought the book.

And I'm glad that I did. It's been a very fun few weeks and we're still only half-way through. It's simple without being simplistic, and it directs you through the essentials: How To Stake Out Your Identity (name your country! find a population! design a flag! choose a motto!); Run The Country ( hold elections! write a constitution! make laws! Make money!); and finally, Meet The Neighbours (who's who? keep the peace!).

To begin with, we chose names for our new countries (you can't enter FDPG's room anymore without a Greenistan passport or a visitor visa). We made passports for them, using our own Canadian passports as a rough guide. Inside each passport we have a print-out of the national anthem, which some of us sang every day for the next week. We also had conventional passport information, where we learned that FDPG was born in Gallifrey (just like a certain Doctor) and that Dominic was in reality over 200 years old. We created a national flag. We also went to a babelfish site and turned English mottos into Latin. We even went here and made coats of arms (you can also go to this site and do much the same thing, but with less explanation). Fun fun fun.

Then today, because it's Election Day in our part of the world, we held a Mock Election. FDPG and Dominic were each allowed two candidates, of their own choosing, and they had to present a platform to Max and myself, after which we chose the least silly Webkin voted for our favourite. It ended, let's not hope presciently, in a coalition.

Here are some of their election promises:

I will plant more trees in places that are in need of trees!
I will improve everything that needs improving!
There will be no more horrible feedlots!
I will ban bad pesticides, fungicides, and insecticides!
If there's anything I've forgotten, call me!
Vote for me - it will be a happy land with gold bars, chocolate cakes, burgers and milk shakes!
It will be a land the world will never ever forget!
Grassland will turn out to be the nicest place on EARTH! No stinging nettles! (huh?)

Now we're off to the polls to vote. The twins like this bit because the polling station volunteers are always nice retired people who like to see kids at the polls, so they hand out cookies and stickers and stuff, and are generally very welcoming.

Check out this video for more information on the book. And may the best candidate win...

Voting Day: Part 1