green-ish thumb

I think it’s pretty obvious that I like flowers. I also like vegetables, and I love the idea of a garden. I have tried a few times to turn the back corner of our property into a vegetable garden, without success. Despite the fact that this is Southern California, the elevation (4000 feet) at which we live makes for harsh conditions in the garden.

Our last frost date is Memorial Day, so that means there are few vegetables that I can plant outdoors before June. One year, I waited patiently for that last weekend in May, and then filled my 4′ x 8′ raised bed with just as many plants as I could. And then we have several frosty nights well into June, which reduced most everything to a black, shriveled mess.

Undeterred, the next year I tried again, although I was less ambitious, and didn’t plant quite as much. Each day I faithfully watered my little vegetables, and every day it seemed like there were fewer plants. The soil itself seemed undisturbed, but a plant that I swore had been there the day before was suddenly missing. A closer inspection revealed very faint animal tracks, probably a rabbit or squirrel. Whatever it was, it made tidy work of eating my tender plants right down to the ground and letting nothing go to waste. Whatever little beast it was, it eventually ate everything.

This year, I had to move the geese out to that back garden pen, because they were beating up on my chickens, so there will be no attempt at a vegetable garden this year. Instead I’ve decided to focus on container gardening, and so far, I am enjoying much better results.

container garden

So far there has been only one casualty. I originally had a purple and white lisianthus in the middle pot, above. The day after I repotted it, the whole thing just keeled over. I have no idea why. I thought I’d try to return it, so I removed it back to the pot it came in, and it perked up a little. I don’t know if it will recover completely, but I guess it liked it’s cramped plastic pot better than my pretty, roomy, distressed terra cotta pot. I replaced it with this geranium, and I actually like this whole arrangement so much better.

geranium

I love the tiny flowers, and the silvery grey-green foliage.

I know it’s all about the porch all the time around here, but I’m so happy with how it is coming together, and it is where I spend most of my time when I am home. All my pots of herbs and flowers and succulents are what make it feel so lush and special to me, and shockingly, nearly everything seems happy and is growing.

down the porch

I got really ambitious and even added a dwarf kumquat, which will move inside this fall. I am going to try really hard to keep it alive. And the Silver Falls hanging just above is one of my favorite things. It’s just in the ugly plastic pot it came it, so I need to find something pretty to put it in. Luckily, the plant covers most of the pot, so I hardly notice it.

Pulley is hanging out in my new seating area. I want to make a cover for the cushions on the love seat, and a new slipcover for the ottoman, so I’m not going to bore you with too many pictures of that area. I hope to have a really dramatic before and after post once I get that stuff done.

side table

I found that it really started looking homey out here when I added a few things to my bright yellow side table.

Despite giving up on the raised bed for now, we do have a few nice things happening elsewhere on our property. Mr. Heylucy has been planting trees every weekend, hoping to replace some of the shade we lost when our oak trees died. We discovered that a previously unknown bush is actually an elder berry shrub. It doesn’t seem to mind our climate, and has become enormous this last year. I don’t know why we never noticed that it had berries on it before. I may have to try making some elderberry syrup later this summer, and bottle it up to treat winter colds.

elderberries1I put in a few tomatoes by the chicken pen, and they are growing and starting to bloom, so I’m hopeful that we’ll get at least enough to enjoy in salads. Someday I want a giant tomato patch so I’ll have enough to can and make sauce to last all winter. I have two big pots near the back door. I stuck a few strawberries in one, and the two little dogs thought it would be great fun to jump in and dig it all up. I haven’t even had the heart to clean up the soil they spewed all over the walk way. Nobody got any treats that night, I can tell you.

fairy garden-to-beNext up: a fairy garden in a box! Pulley says, “yay, something else for me to play with on the porch!”

sir pulleyLook at that face! I love the little water droplets on his whiskers. His favorite thing to do is bring sticks on to the porch and then chew them up and leave all the little bits for me to sweep up. It is not my favorite thing.

 

 

 

 

Read More

the next phase

I am fully committed to my porch project, and making a lot of progress. Even though I have a lot more that I want to do, it’s now my favorite spot to hang out. I can eat out there, sit and knit, read, or even take a nap.

I finished two pillows and have a couple more pillow forms waiting for covers. I played with batik again, and again, it was a lot of fun. This time I went bright with pink and orange dye. I originally added the orange to the pink dye bath when I was finished with it, hoping for more of a coral color. Obviously, I should have added less orange for that to happen. I’m fine with the bright tangerine, though.

pillowsI just used a paint brush and beeswax on drop cloth fabric, like last time, but I think if I do this again, I’ll invest in this special tool to see if it gives me a little more control. I just keep calling this sort of imperfect outcome ‘organic,’ to legitimize all the gloppiness of it.

I love the texture of the drop cloth for these pillows, which will be outdoors much of the time. The cushion covers are simply two squares of the dyed fabric with an invisible zipper in the bottom seam, so they’ll be easy to remove and wash.

pink pillow

I know, I need to paint my rocking chair. It’s an old, cheap one from Wal-Mart that Mr. Heylucy surprised me with one day, years and years ago, so I can’t complain. Painting it is on the to-do list, but it’s at the bottom for now.

Completely unrelated to all this, I made a little rosemary wreath after work the other day, just for fun. I have two giant rosemary bushes in serious need of pruning, so I cut enough sprigs for this project. And you can’t even tell, the bushes are still spilling over the walkway. I could probably make a couple dozen wreaths from those monsters.

rosemary wreath

Here’s a quick how-to, in case you want to make one yourself (it’s super easy and fun!): cut lots and lots of rosemary sprigs. Strip the leaves from the bottom few inches, and bunch three or so together and wrap with floral wire (I have a paddle of very thin, green wire, so it’s easy to wrap). Don’t cut your wire. Gather together another bunch, again striping the leaves from the bottom, and overlap the first bunch, wrapping the two bunches together and continuing down the stems of the second bunch. Keep repeating with new bunches until you have a string of rosemary long enough to shape into a circle. Wrap the last bunch to the first bunch. If you have a lot of wire showing, you can just add more sprigs here and there with short bits of wire to cover it up. And that’s it! Hang up your wreath and admire your handiwork, and marvel that it just took a few minutes to make. If it’s a bit wonky, just call it ‘organic.’

And going back to the porch, here’s a gratuitous picture of Pulley, who likes hanging out there as well.

pulley on the porch

 

 

 

 

Read More

dogs in hats

 

I promise this isn’t going to become a pugs-in-clothes blog, but now and then I am going to be compelled to make things for Pulley to wear. I particularly have a thing for dogs in hats, as evidenced by several pins on my ‘best friends’ board (which I recommend that you peruse when you are stressed or sad, it is my cure when I’m having a bad day), also there is this board, which is not mine, but will also cheer you right up.

Back to Pulley. There is a certain sci-fi show which had a tragically short run, but if you are a knitter and watched the show, you will remember a very distinctive hat. Apparently, there are now licensing issues, so I won’t mention the name of the show or the character that wore this most excellent article of clothing. I will just let this photo of Pulley speak for itself.

pulley in a shiny hat

 

He wears it with such dignity. The pattern formula was courtesy of Stacy from Boondock Studios.

Read More

chester pulley

It’s been a rather sad/happy time in our little animal kingdom. I’ll start with the happy.

A few weeks ago, on a Friday, I came home from work and found an extra dog in our yard. A little, anxious pug stood just inside the gate, wagging his little corkscrew tail. Our neighbors up the street have a pug, and she had been to visit before when the gate was open, so I just thought it was her and went to get a leash to take our visitor home. I came inside and told Mr. HeyLucy about the dog and he volunteered to walk up the street. He soon returned, with the dog in his arms. Apparently pugs are not fans of long walks.

pulley

It turned out that all nearby pugs were present and accounted for, and he had even gone as far as the sheriff’s station to see if anyone had reported a missing dog. At this point, we started to realize just how puzzling the situation was. The little guy (it turns out he was a boy, not a girl) had a collar and the ring where a tag must have once hung was empty, but undamaged. Our property is completely fenced, and every little gap is sealed so Pixel can’t get out, so there was no place where a dog weighing twice as much could have squeezed through. Our fence along the front is only four feet, and faces the main road through town, so someone could have easily lifted him over and left him. Our neighbors on either side have taller fences, so our yard is obviously the best option if you were to need to lift an animal over a fence.

Of course we had to bring him in and feed him, and determined that we’d take him to our vet to be scanned for a microchip, since the nearest animal shelter is at least 30 miles away. Also, he was so sweet, we just couldn’t imagine putting him through the trauma of a shelter stay. Surely someone was looking for him and we’d see a Lost Dog sign on one of the bulletin boards around town.

pulley

The next morning I took him to the vet, and they found no sign of a microchip. Our town is small, and there are several notice boards where people post Lost Pet flyers. We checked every single one, and no one had put up any signs, desperately looking for a pug. I went to the diner and told all the regulars about him, which is a good way to get word out in a small town. We checked craigslist and fidofinders, and there were no lost pugs anywhere in the entire county. We kept checking for the next ten days or so, and even now, no one is looking for a pug. By about day three we figured we needed to call him something besides “hey dog,” and after extensive name testing, we settled on Pulley (Chester Pulley, to be exact, but we mostly just say Pulley).

pulley

So now, a month later, he’s microchipped and tagged and neutered, and this is his home. He defends the yard ferociously, just like the other dogs. He and Pixel have become fast friends, and wrestle and tumble all around the house. He’s somewhere between a year and 18 months old. The best we can figure, someone brought their dog out to the country to get rid of it. I can’t imagine willingly giving up any of my pets, so I think that they must have been pretty desperate to leave him behind. I hope they know that he has a good home now, and that we will take good care of him. I hope they don’t mind that I will be dressing him up and taking pictures. There’s something about a pug, I just think he needs a dapper wardrobe, and he’s so photogenic. I’m starting off small, with just a bow tie I made the other night. I never thought I was a pug person, but his aggressively happy nature and smooshy face have won me over.

pulley

Now the sad news, which I will be brief with, because it’s been pretty tough. Our beloved Bear, who was nearly twelve years old, became very sick last week. By Monday, we knew this wasn’t just a stomach bug, or something he ate (and he ate all sorts of disgusting things on a regular basis, usually small critters which he pretty much swallowed whole), and we took him to the vet. He had cancer. It was everywhere and he was suffering, so we knew we had to say good-bye.

bear & the chickens

We both held on to him, and told him what a good dog he’s been, our gentle giant, and the alpha dog of our little pack. We told him to go find Reggie, and I hope they are back together again, running and playing like they used to. He taught Winston everything he knew, and while it took him awhile to warm up to Pixel, he learned to tolerate that little puppy who adored him. Every morning, first thing, Pixel would run to find Bear in the living room, and just lick and lick his nose, wagging his whole body with joy at his big Bear.

bear & pixel

Bear was camera-shy, and always acted so goofy when I pointed the camera at him, so I don’t have tons of photos of him. He was beautiful, he was my blonde twin and I loved his velvet face. He will be missed.

bearIt’s so funny that Pulley appeared just before we had to lose Bear. He is pretty much the polar opposite, but it has helped so much to have him here. It feels a little empty when I pull up to our gate at night when I get home from work, and there is only Winston to greet me, but then I go in the house and am mauled by this funny little smooshed face, and that empty space doesn’t hurt quite as much.

 

Read More
%d bloggers like this: