09 June 2006

Rust, varnish and mud.

Note: My extended family has recently broadened their internet horizons and since at least one of my uncles (Hi, Uncle Jerry!) likes to know what we're up to, I've pointed them here. This shouldn't change what I post about, but you may find that I put in more explanation than usual to keep things clear.

Things might seem quiet lately, but only because I've been trying to work in the garden and start working on some home improvement stuff lately, so I've not had much progress in knitting bits to report. *shrug* I'm still working on the Flaming Candle Scarf during my morning commute and I have the front of the Brioche Bodice about half complete, so there might be more interesting things to see in a few days.

In the yard, things are growing fast. The yellow flowers that I think are a variety of coneflower are doing well and very pretty. The phlox hasn't started blooming yet, but the plants are getting to about the right height to start kicking out flowers. I have one lonely little orange lily stuck in the midst of the yellow flowers that's just bloomed the last day or two and I'm trying to decide if I should snip it and bring it inside to enjoy.

(All pictures are clickable thumbnails; clicking on the picture will open a larger verison of it.)

There's a mystery flower popping up in the front lawn direcly underneath the bushes. It's beautiful, but I have no idea what it is other than to speculate based on leaf-shape that it's related to a bleeding heart. The flower looks more like a fuschia to me, but they aren't supposed to grow "wild" here. Part of why I want to identify it is so I can figure out how to transplant it before we pull those bushes out or it will probably get pulled out with the bushes when they go.

The roses have also started blooming, both the bright pink bush in the front and the light pink old fashioned ones in the back.

The bush in the front seems to have become infested with "rust", though, as has the big bush that I haven't identified yet, so we picked up some fungicide today to try to make it go away. I have to wait to spray though because it's threatening rain this afternoon.

The apple trees also appeared to have some sort of disease issue, but I looked it up on the Extension website and they said that it wasn't something treatable, but also wasn't something that was likely to cause permanent damage to the trees. We might not get as much fruit this year, but since we don't actually harvest the apples to eat anyway, I'm not worried about it. They did advise, however, that we clear the deadfalls away completely at the end of the year to prevent this from coming back.

I planted the 4 O'Clocks and cukes in the interior bed and they seem to be surviving and maybe starting to thrive. The tomatoes were not as successful in the side bed. I think there's a rather large colony of ants that managed to eat all the little baby tomato leaves in the course of two days. So in addition to the fungicide, we also picked up ant spikes to try to kill the colony. Once I'm not seeing active signs of ants in that bed, I'll plant more seedlings (I didn't plant all the first one I started because I worried that something might happen to the first set).

Inside, I've started stripping varnish off the window in the dining room. The orange stripping stuff we got works very well and is pretty easy, so that's been kind of a fun project. I'm hoping to finish the window today and maybe start on the door frame between the dining room and the kitchen. The stripper says it works on paint and varnish and I would *LOVE* to get the nasty pale teal paint off the woodwork in the kitchen. It that goes well, the upstairs bathroom will be next, even though it's "out of order".

So far the stripped wood is beautiful. There enough of the color of the varnish soaked into the wood itself that it's still dark even after a light sanding, but with all the old varnish stripped, you can actually see the wood grain. We may just sand it down and put a coat of polyeurethene over it instead of reapplying varnish.

I haven't set up the pottery wheel yet, mostly because I'm still trying to devise a way to bring it to WW (which is a camping event for the SCA in Black River Falls) to set up at Artisan's Row, which I'm coordinating this year. I'd love to have the wheel there for folks to try, along with some handbuilding stuff (assuming I can get Mark to spend some time on the Row doing handbuilding since it's really not my area of expertise), but it's rather cumbersome and we already load the car *full* to get our regular equipment there. There's a possibility that we could make two trips, but that just seems extravagant, especially with gas prices where they are. But I'm not resigned to leaving it home yet, either, so it's still in the garage awaiting a decision (it will eventually live in the basement, but since WW is so close, I didn't want to carry it down there just to have to carry it back up in a couple weeks if I can find a way to get it there).

I need to do more beating of the bushes to get artisan's for the Row, too. It sounds like we have a strong Dyer's Corner contingent. I've also heard from an armorer, but I'm not sure if he will end up on the Row or over in Smith's Corner, and one of the Shires is taking on scribal stuff. There's a couple folks who've expressed interest in music, which I think would rock - imagine spending a day working on a project with a group of live musicians playing period (or period-esque) instruments in the background! - so I hope that pans out.

I'm a bit surprised not to have any carvers, cooks, or spinners/weavers/knitters yet, so I think I'll drop a line to a couple guilds and see if I can get any takers. It seems that groups centered around a common theme will be more feasible, so I'm trying to promote that idea while still making sure it's clear that individual artisan's are more than welcome. I'm not inclined to stress over it overmuch, though. At least some stuff will happen, so that's a good start.

In other more or less random news, our white Taurus died this week. The transmission went out on Jack while he was driving up the big hill on the way home. The car is 12 years old, so it's not really worth putting more money into it to fix it. Fortunately, we commute together so we don't *need* to replace it immediately. We're doing some research and so far we think we'd like to try to get a used Pontiac Vibe, though we're also planning to test drive a PT Cruiser to see what we think. Our second car just needs to get decent gas mileage (we don't need something we can load up for events and the like because the grey Taurus works just fine for that), but we can't afford to buy a new one, so we're keeping an eye out for good deals.

Jali also had her annual check up this morning, complete with Distemper and Rabies shots. She's getting old, so the vet essentially confirmed that some of the things we've started seeing in the last year - cataracts, trouble with her back legs - are just signs of aging and not anything acute we need to be worried about. He gave us some glucosamine treats for her that they've had good success with in helping with arthritic joints in dogs and suggested we use a special dental formulated food to keep tartar from building up and possibly causing infections, so we have a small bag of that to try out.

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