of the hounds

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We collected some milkweed seeds, just as the pods were bursting. Elena and I, on one of our walks with the dogs. The dog walking trails just beyond our front door are wonderful, full of prairie grass, mature trees, lots of shrubbery, and a view of the river. Which means that the hounds are almost always on the scent of some creature; deer, racoon, skunk, rabbit, squirrel or mice. Some days, we are lucky enough to see a family of white-tail deer grazing in the distance, but usually we just hear rustling in the bushes. We absolutely love it. I used to insist on going back to the farm a couple times a year, just for my nature fix, but now I have my own, just down the street and around the corner.

I want to take the camera, I’ve been encouraged to take the camera; but it’s not easy getting a good photo of anything, especially when you’ve got fifty-five pounds worth of a basset who is not interested in that shot you want to get but very interested in that smell just about ten feet ahead. Not that I ever feel like the bassets are taking me for a walk, oh no, not me!

I took Odin to the vet yesterday, and I admit to having been nervous about the appointment. Loki had to come with, because he has never been left in the kennel or house alone, yet, and I was worried he would find that too upsetting. So, I had two bassets that I was trying to get out of the back hatch of the car, and herd into the vet clinic. In the end, it didn’t go too badly. I got to have Loki weighed, and he is now at a decent forty pound heft. I’m very happy, but it also means that if I have both dogs for a walk, I’m managing ninety-five pounds of active hounds!

But the arm workout is all worth it, because after, well, I get this…

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it’s barbershop pole purple

The spinning workshop was absolutely wonderful.

The only problem is…what to do with the yarn?

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I have always been baffled by thick and thin yarn. And, until I get much, much better, that’s exactly what I’m going to be knitting with hand spun yarn. I love seeing my knitting filled with consistent, even stitches. Rustic isn’t really in my vocabulary.

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The other problem could be that I picked purple. I do not love purple, and I’m going to have to reserve judgement until I knit it up. It’s going to be mittens, because mitts seem to get worn out the fastest, what with dog walking and all.

I am also going to switch up the bobbins for the second skein. I had too little twist while plying the skein on the first go round, so I’m going to use the larger bobbin end for the singles of the second skein. It could also be that I am plying two different types of wool. There is just so much more practice that I need, with the weight of yarn I seem to be spinning…but what to do with all the yarn I’ll end up making?

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blue skies

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Yesterday was beautiful out, and the day before that, and the day before that. Today, too…beautiful days to get my vegetable garden all cleared out, the harvest sorted and cleaned, and my tulips planted. Yellow, red and white. And I’m making borscht, grating the beets while wearing a white shirt. Not kidding, I just realized.

The photo issue seems to be resolved for now, but will require some interesting hoop-jumping. Thank goodness for Chadd, the facilitator of my everyday life!

It seems like it should be a crazy, intense day where I get everything done on my list; but truthfully, today and yesterday pretty much managed to be everything I needed. I still have a few more planted flower pots that I have to empty, and there is always, always laundry…but even at that, a load of wash dried on my new clothesline today. We had a small bonfire in the brand new firepit, and kept it small when we realized that it was a bit too windy for a fire. The s’mores were great, and the marshmallows golden; and after we raked the fire to coals, it started to rain. So we came inside, and Chadd built a fire in the fireplace.

I even practiced spinning on my spindle, in anticipation of my spinning wheel classes this weekend. A whole weekend of learning how to spin. I’m worried that I might like it too much, when I actually sit down in front of a wheel. Luckily, the machine is borrowed, so I can’t get addicted just yet!

More tomorrow; there always is. With photos.

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some days are more inspiring than others

Having three days off in a row was a first for me at this time of year.

Tuesday was lovely, weather-wise, and I spent some of it at the allotment, cleaning up for the October 15th deadline. It looks like there is still a lot out there, but it is mostly carrots and parsnips and cabbage. I took off the beans and peas, half of the cabbage, the cucumber plants, the zucchini and the squash. The tomatoes are off, and sitting in two small boxes outside on the summer kitchen. It was only a couple hours of work, but so much got done.

Wednesday was a gloomy day, and I used it to make baked chicken, cabbage borscht, apple cake, and brown beans. Three days worth of food, and leftovers, and chicken bones for soup to be made Saturday. Still planning on making chocolate chip zucchini muffins…that might happen after work today.

Thursday was a beautiful morning to walk the dogs, and an afternoon of paper-clearing, paper-work and finances. I hate paper. Thursday gave me a headache.

I’d love to get the tulips planted on Saturday. I’m sure Odin would love to help…

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it had to start somewhere

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This scrap of paper has been the blueprint for the backyard for months and months and months. All my little notations, all the numbers and all the backbone plantings spaced with carefully calculated circles. It feels like I’ve been staring at it forever.

Now that most everything has been planted, here come the details…so read along at the risk of being bored to tears, because OMG I have ONLY wanted this for so very, VERY long!!!

The apple tree (September Ruby) in the top left hand corner, that had always been in the plan. As was the Evan’s cherry (tree-form) beside it. Evan’s cherry is a nice, sour cherry, and as a small tree, would fit quite nicely into that space. And then I thought I would put a Crimson Passion cherry (shrub) beside that.

And that is the point where I realized that working at a garden centre does influence planting decisions, luckily for me.

Crimson Passion is the sweetest of the sour cherries, which would have been a good choice if I was strictly planting for fruit consumption. However, after sampling a Nanking cherry, I realized that although smaller, the fruit is tender and sweet. The cherries also have a very pretty way of growing along the branches, among the leaves. The shrub itself is also a better contrast to the Evan’s cherry, since it has smaller, more crinkly and almost lime coloured leaves. Fall colour also comes into consideration, because the Evan’s cherry will be a very pretty peachy-orange, while the Nanking will be yellow.

Along the back fence, I debated planting lilacs or saskatoons; but only for a moment. Saskatoons, of course, won, because I am (quite obviously now) obsessed with having a whole bunch of fruit producing shrubs. The other benefits to planting Saskatoon bushes is that a) they attract birds; b) they can grow in sun or shade; c) they will grow large enough to create a visual screen; d) they have a nice fall colour; e) fresh fruit for eating or jam making.

In front of the saskatoons, also feeding my fruit obsession, are the gooseberry bushes. I love gooseberries so much, I doubt there will be any left to make jam.

There is some pretty to the plan, though. I did throw in a Ghost Weigela because I love the deep red trumpet shaped blooms, but also because the foliage would balance the Nanking. Three roses (red, yellow, and white), two hydrangea, two Tor spirea, and a potentilla got planted. The perennial portion includes daylily, daisy, geranium and coral bells (Latin later, I promise!) to cover the basics. (Almost predictable, but I do love the traditional pairings. I can’t help it.)

And that was as far as I got, really. The west side of the yard needed some inspiration. We wanted to keep a natural look, with some evergreens, but I was still a little lost. “Natural” for the prairies includes cedar, spruce, juniper, saskatoons, dogwood, grasses, wild roses, and willow.

Dogwood have bright red branches that look great against the snow in winter, so that was the start. It was planted in the far corner. A transition was needed in the area from the saskatoons, which ended up being a low growing juniper (Savin), followed by an upright juniper (Moonglow). I was trying to find a way to incorporate a cedar, but ultimately chose the upright juniper because of its blue-grey foliage. On the west fence, I chose a purple leaf rose and two Dwarf Garland spirea. (I love white blooming spirea, and the fact that they are spring bloomers just helps out the bees). There will be another low evergreen planted close to the spireas, but the main planting in that area will be a Ponderosa pine. Yes, it will be huge and yes, that is being taken into consideration…but I love the somewhat scraggly look with the beautiful flakey brown bark.

The rest of that area will be a butterfly garden, with grasses, milkweed and sage, cone flower, salvia and irises. Those will have to wait until spring, but I’m happy to have more planting to look forward to. And I haven’t even gotten into the details of the tulips in the raised bed! As I told my co-worker: I can’t wait for spring!

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translation, please

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A solution has presented itself, I hope.

It seems, for the present, that WordPress has decided not to be compatible with photos taken from my camera. The photos are in the .orf format, which we finally figured out to be Olympus raw file. As long as I can figure out how to convert a raw file into a .jpg, and work off of both Chadd’s old computer and the iPad, it should literally be a snap (ha!) to have photos on the blog once again.

(Photo taken at the butterfly garden at the Assiniboine Park Zoo. I have a whole whack of these that I can’t wait to share!)

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pretty please

I’ve been growling at the computer screen…I am not being allowed to upload photos…and after days and days of this, I will have to attempt a new tactic or two.

In the meantime, life has been good; interesting books read, beautiful landscaping finished (front and back yard!), happy dogs being walked at least twice per day, easy knitting, and even a quilt made. School started, and Chadd and I celebrated our 17th anniversary.

What I really want, though, is to be able to upload a photo or two. Pretty please?!?

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