Sunday, May 30, 2010

Losing weight, in the garden, with visitors

At last all my seedlings are in the ground (hooray!). Except the tomatoes (boo...). Against my better judgment, I again allowed Partner to persuade me to grow a few. This year I think we have five plants. He has promised to plant them himself. Somehow, taking care of a baby takes up all my time; I can only snatch five or ten minutes of gardening time a day. Meaning my seedlings have languished on the patio for the last two or three weeks, waiting for brief window of spare time. Pictured here are my runner beans and bamboo canes for their support, at the site of the old shed.

Flowers I'm growing (from seed, that is--I have a lot more perennials):
  • nicotiana
  • dahlias
  • zinnias
  • cosmos
Vegetables I'm growing:
  • potatoes (early and maincrop)
  • cabbage
  • carrots
  • celeriac
  • beets
  • rainbow chard
  • zuccini
  • tomatoes
  • beans (runner and broad)
  • broccoli
Since Franklin was born I have been actively trying to lose my pregnancy weight. A vigorous walk nearly every day, and I'm slowly working it off. I gained about 30 pounds by the end of my pregnancy, and last I weighed myself (a few weeks ago) I had lost 15 pounds. My maternity jeans are now a bit big on my hips and I can fit into at least one pair of my old slacks.

My sister and her friend are visiting us, but being teenagers, they come across as moody and unsociable. They've been here several days now, but don't make an appearance till after noon, and want to spend their days holed up with the computer. I think I'll have to be a bit more creative about tearing them away from the lures of facebook.

As it is, we'll be going to London for a few days this week. My last time in London, I was with a cousin and had a brilliant time getting completely lost every day. I can only hope these two are as congenial about not knowing where we're going.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

The finished cardigan and fluffy balls of cootness

Here is the finished knitted cardigan. I only hope it fits him when the weather turns cold.

Did I mention weather? This morning the dog and I set out at 8am for our walk because it's simply sweltered the past several days. My garden explodes with new season flowers (and weeds) and my early potato plants seem to triple in size every day. Even at such an early hour, our walk was uncomfortably warm: we're not a hot sunny country, rather a cool wet country. When we get a heat wave, it's sticky and humid.

I brought the camera on our walk; I saw something at the pond I've never seen before: a family of coots, complete with brand-new chickies. Cuteness!
Not sure if it's mama coot or daddy coot
but both were present
Click on the picture if you want to melt
at the cuteness

Wild iris at the ponds
One of my favorite paths

The other day I undid my shirt in preparation for breastfeeding and this tumbled down into my lap. I'm not sure where it originated from; either on or in my shirt or possibly in my hair, as I'd been gardening earlier--but wherever it came from, it certainly made me jump. I'd like to say it's a caterpillar, but it looks more like a maggot to me. Yuck!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Cushions, hats, and other industry

This past weekend I finished the dog bed I started back in December. I do have a picture of it, but it's downstairs and I can't be bothered right now. It has an inner cushion and a removable cover (with piping!--my first piping attempt, while not a roaring success, was at least not a dismal failure) for washing. I've been saving my fabric scraps, thread and yarn ends, holey socks, and dryer lint for several months; this is what it's stuffed with. As a result the cushion's heavier than if I'd used normal stuffing. This is a good thing: the dog can't pitch it out of her basket like she did with her former pillow. Hopefully she won't chew this one up too.

I also sewed a quick baseball cap for Franklin. We had one but lost it, and all his others are winter hats. I made it from cotton canvas, bias tape, and interfacing. Already he's had compliments from strangers. Actually, he gets a lot of compliments just for existing--I never realized how much people like babies, but when we're out together, I get approached by all sorts: women my age, grandmas, grandpas, dads, little kids... Anyhow, I liked making this hat so much I think I'll make another. The pattern is my own.

Busy bees that we are, Partner and I (mostly Partner) finally tore out the living room carpet. Half of it is now adorning our patio; the rest is cut into decent-sized strips, rolled up, and stacked in the garage. The plan is to use it over winter to keep the bare vegetable beds covered and weed-free. The now-exposed floorboards are actually pretty good looking, though they need scrubbing, sanding, and varnishing.

Just to prove that Franklin does indeed now sleep in his stroller while I garden, here's a picture. I just have to time my gardening activities for when he naps. Yesterday I took my books outside to study while he napped in the shade and was attacked by mad kamikaze aphids. It's impossible to brush them off without killing or horribly maiming them. But my garden is a better place without aphids, and if they commit suicide, all the better for me.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Lemon and red and nature

A few days ago I was just about to hop in the bath when Partner suddenly shouted "Blimey!" from the bedroom. I dashed over (in the nuddy, as they say), expecting another nightmare, but instead found him and Franklin hanging out the window (not literally) spellbound by nature's drama: a sparrowhawk had nabbed a fat pigeon on our lawn. I ran for the camera (still starkers); meanwhile the hawk flew its dinner to next door's garden. If you look closely, you'll see its orange eyes.

After the sunshine and warmth of April, May has disappointed. Apparently we are getting the average temperatures of February. No frost, luckily, but I'm not planting anything tender out just yet. I was tempted to plant out my nicotiana today--after all, it's nearly the middle of the month--but decided to wait just a little bit longer. My early potatoes have now sprouted (yay!); they were planted on Easter weekend, so I'm expecting to harvest them in the middle of June. Hopefully. I've never grown my own potatoes, though I assisted my dad with his when I was younger; he didn't grow early potatoes.

My rhododendron flowered! Frankly, I was expecting a bit more lemon and a bit less peach (the picture on the tag was decidedly lemony); no matter: it's a lovely color, and that bright yellow splash in the photo is a tulip. The tulips are in fact taller than the rhody.

I finished knitting the green and white baby cardigan and will take a picture of Franklin wearing it. I tried it on him, and though super-cute, it is a bit big. I'm kind of on a knitting spree now. I ordered some special yarn online and have started a new baby hoodie. Also in the works: a knitted red and black afghan. I'm hoping no one tells her this, but a very nice lady knitted me a lovely red cardigan a few years ago which I never really wore because it was HUGE. Seriously, it was big on Partner, and he's not exactly small-boned. I've begun unravelling it, and I can see the work she put into it--it's got beautifully intricate cables. I feel a little bit bad about it, but I will repurpose the yarn in my afghan. At least it's getting a new life.

Sunday, May 02, 2010

My music video!

Friends, I want to share with you a project that is very special to me: "Hopscotch" music video. I've worked on it for about a year: I first came up with the concept in the summer of 2008, and then filmed it that fall, and edited it over the course of the following year. It has been ready and waiting for quite some months now, but the music track is still not finished, sadly. However, I can't wait any longer for my sound engineer (he's had a lot of personal issues get in the way, so I don't blame him), and am posting it online now. If I ever get the final music mix, I'll upload that, but until then, please watch:

"Hopscotch" is an original song written by myself and my husband, and performed by members of my family during a Thanksgiving visit. On a previous visit, we had recorded film for a short movie which was to feature a pop song. Unfortunately, the film was unusable because of formatting problems and the project had to be abandoned. For the next visit, I envisioned writing and making a music video of that pop song from the first movie. I wasn't sure if my family would be on board (acting in a movie is one thing, but singing and dancing in a movie is completely different), but they threw themselves into it. It was a great experience and a fantastic way to spend time with the family. I'm only sad that two of my brothers were unavailable to appear in it.

I think it should become a family tradition that whenever we get together we make a film project; both times it brought us closer together and brings back wonderful memories. Here are some stills from the video:

On a different note: I've been keeping a personal blog of my experience as a parent, started back in July 2009 when I found out I was pregnant with Franklin, and have decided to make it public. I know most people won't find it that interesting unless they are closely related to me; I'm not that interested in blogs about other people's kids myself. However, I have enjoyed updating it and am happy to share it: