Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Well, crap.

The tomato plant that I thought was suffering from over-watering and poor drainage after all that stormy rain... actually has a fungus. I mean, it's been over-watered, too-- the fruit is starting to split along the top. But the real problem is the uninvited guest.

A few weeks ago I bought a mature tomato plant with existing green fruit so we could start getting a crop while our starters develop. I bought this plant at Wal-Mart. Apparently, this is yet another lesson to buy locally. I get it, Mother Nature, alright? I get it!

Anyway, it has septoria leaf spot. It's controllable with a fungicide, but our plant is too far gone. We can continue to treat the other plants in the container, and then it's probably a good idea to not plant tomatoes in that container for a year or so, I think. The half dozen tomatoes still on the vine are just turning yellow and orange, so in a day or so, I can put them in the window for final ripening and take that plant out altogether.

Supposedly copper can help control this? I'd like to avoid chemicals, but I'm not entirely opposed to using a fungicide. Thankfully, I used to work in the Agri College at the UofA, so I'm going to check in there with the tomato researchers and/or Extension Service people and see what they have to say; alternatively, I have friends at our farmer's Coop. Also, my grandmother's family were tomato farmers, so she may remember some things they used.

The white dots are telltale.


Stupid fungus.

Container Mania!

The weather wasn't perfect this weekend, by any stretch...but it wasn't stormy and the rain wasn't torrential. There were a few little downpours and a few sprinkly bouts. Otherwise, it was lovely.

After the Lowes debacle, in which they tried to charge us $16 and change for 2 little coleus and a caladium, we went to our local nursery, Neumeier's. They've been there for 40 years, and they do a lot of their things from seed. It's such a great place-- people are great, the plants are great, and they know anything you need to know. And I had a gift card.

We got hearty oregano and chives; a small patio tomato; 4 small jalapenos; 12 tall coleus; 2 small caladiums; and a persian shield all for the grand total of $18. I love them.

So we transplanted our currently suffering large patio tomato, the new small one, and a couple of peppers into a large container with a good helping of compost, and we potted the chives and oregano separately:

We also have some basil and a few strawberries; the basil has been pretty well stripped for pesto Thursday night...

I dug up a bunch of the cannas, so the containers get good sun, and saved them for Adam's grandmother who wants some red lilies to mix in with her yellow ones:

For the pretty stuff, we put together two planters of a mix of coleus and caladiums for the porch, as well as a solo planter of persian shield:

Our hostas continue to grow, and the one plant that I didn't split is blooming:

The four o'clock seeds I planted are coming up, as are the cuttings I stuck in the ground...

I'd say everything's coming up roses.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Is this crazy?

This houseblog is about to turn into a petblog if I don't get to work on the house soon...

Anyway, I need to keep our front yard cat out of the back yard. She's bullying Kiara, our 12 year old kitty who thinks she's a dog, and who never even leaves the back yard. She's a total softie and she's being completely bullied by Bella.

She enters the back via two routes (at this point). One is the screened porch, which isn't screened, and the other is our back fence next to the garage.

First things first, we need to screen the porch. Next, I'm thinking of two things. One is the super sticky furniture tape to keep cats from scratching. Maybe put this along the top of the fence...? I'd have to change it pretty frequently until she got the picture. Or aluminum foil along the top foot or so of the fence? I know cats hate aluminum and she'd have a hard time climbing it. It'd be ugly, but maybe I could get fancy with it and use copper flashing to sort of wrap the tops of the fence slats ;-)

My last solution is good old fashioned clothespins. Just run clothespins along the tops of the fence sticking straight up. Or a combination of all of the above? I'll probably put some sort of chickenwire Elizabethan collar around the adjacent tree to keep her off that, but...

I dunno. Something's got to be done. Inside is not an option, as we'd have the same problem (we have a total pushover in the house who already gets her fair share of being walked all over by the other two). Bella's no longer scared of the dog.

Any ideas? I've had a lot of cats over the years (I don't think I'm allowed to say; they'd call animal control on me), but I've never had any that didn't eventually work it out. This, however, only seems to be getting worse.

Seriously. I think I need to just suck it up and buy one of those motion activated water sprinklers. Stupid economy, ramping up my cheapskateness.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Bee You Tea Full

Seriously. Beautiful, gorgeous, sunny, pleasant... DRY...weather for most of the weekend. Love.

Friday night was a bit of a stormer. But I gave Simon his meds in time, wrapped him in his anxiety belt, put toddler boots on his feet, and went to bed. When I woke up in the morning, he was asleep on his bed next to ours. The vet and I talked about trying to not so much ignore him, as minimize incidents where I need to be on him all night, telling him no, or otherwise overloading him. Toddler socks it is.

Saturday was a little drizzly early on, but we got to clean house all day and then grill out. I've been trying to figure out the best thing to mop our floors with now that I've decided Wet Swiffers are a waste. Not only are they literally wasteful, but they seem to just push the dirt around into a fine haze over everything. And then I was going to use ammonia, which, while not exactly a friendly cleaner, at least leaves things streak free; however, that will strip shellac if there are any scratches that let it in. And then I thought I'd use vinegar, but that's not very pleasant to the nose.

So in the end, I bought a bottle of Method's Wood for Good and a 2-pack of microfiber kitchen towels. I put the kitchen towels on the Swiffer sweeper part, and went to town. Let me tell you, that Method almond scent is heavenly-- not too overpowering and as a bonus, smells edible-- like I'd just opened a box of marzipan. Yum. And there's no bucket necessary. It's no good for getting rid of anything caked on or tough, but it generally does the trick for everyday traffic.

Sunday was as a matter of true fact gorgeous. So we tried to get the last of our herbs and veggies, but Lowe's selection was a little bit meh. I then tried to buy some coleus and caladiums for a couple of planters; the coleus were in trays with a BIG sign that said "Assorted 1-Gallon Perennials, $2.50." Now, I do realize that coleus are annuals, but these were literally the only plant near the sign, and there were a lot, not just a few misplaced stragglers. Of course, however, they rang upa t the full $5. When I took the worker to see the sign, she just pointed at the word perennials, impatiently said "Those are annuals," and walked off. Screw that.

This is what I get for being too impatient to wait and go to the local nursery-- where they are NICE, have better plants, and where I have a gift certificate anyway. The price isn't that much different. I worked in retail, I know how thing get mislabeled-- I was a customer service rep for a big box retailer for years. I know how these things happen. But I always tried to make it right, and at the very least I was pleasant, even when a customer was unreasonable. My favorite was a woman who felt she deserved a refund, but she didn't and the company wouldn't give it to her. I called the manager over and he proceeded to ask me if I had a dollar in my pocket (this was the quantity in dispute, I kid you not). I did, and she took my dollar (again, I am not kidding) and walked off. The manager made it up to me, but things like that have given me ZERO patience with rude customer service people. I've been there. And I've sucked. It. Up.

At any rate, word on the street is nice weather for a few days. With my luck, it'll storm here just until I leave for Florida (during hurricane season, of course), where it will promptly storm on me every day.

At least I'll be at the beach. Reading AP exams, but definitely at the beach.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Sitting here waiting

Waiting for the storms to arrive. Three weeks-- four weeks?-- of this shit has completely sucked the life out of me.

Update?: They're here.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Get to work!

I need help, and you're not cutting it.

You're falling down on the job!

You're supposed to take care of things outside, but it's still raining. Rain, rain, rain, rain, rain. I know plants need water, but this is absurd.

I really can't take it much longer. I've taken off yesterday and today to work in the yard, but that has quickly turned into working on the house. It's spring cleaning time, so we've been getting everything spic and span.

However, all this moisture is causing a whole other problem. See, the dog likes his bed, but the fleecy lining gets hot in this weather, so I put a nice cool sheet over it. I went to change the sheet and noticed that there was a bunch of white stuff underneath it. At first I thought it was disintegrated litter (Simon thinks the litter box is a snack bar), but on closer inspection, it's another casualty of the weather:

All the tiny scratches from cat and dog nails created little doors to the shellac underneath; the moist air that gets trapped under the dog bed, plus any moisture that soaks through when he comes out of the rain has caused the shellac to discolor. And I can't just wipe it with alcohol. I tried that-- it's UNDER the poly. I scratched a little off, and luckily, I think it's the clear dewaxed layer that we applied to help the poly adhere that's hazed, so hopefully, I can work on these few boards individually. I plan on rubbing with sandpaper or steel wool to remove the poly and perhaps wipe with alcohol. Then put another layer of dewaxed clear shellac and re-poly.

Anyone have other suggestions? I'm going to try spot treating first and then re-polying the entire board, but I'll redo the whole thing if necessary. Thanks to the blog, we have a very detailed account of what we did with the finish.

I need to re-poly a few boards in the kitchen, as well. They were particularly dry and I think they soaked up a lot of the finish. At any rate, once these things are done, I think I may take up a suggestion left many moons ago to wax the floor. I should be able to just spot wax for a few years if I do that, right? I don't have to wax the entire house every year, I hope... And what do you clean waxed floors with? I don't know. It will make refinishing that much more difficult down the line since we'd have to remove all the wax before screening or sanding, but it might protect the floors underneath, meaning we won't have to refinish so soon...?

It's just such a bummer.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Summer Reading List

This weekend was the annual public library used book sale. The kiddo picked up another great round of Babysitter's Club Books, as well as a few classics, and Adam and I found these:

I am very optimistic that these will come in handy over the summer. First of all, we've got a lot of tuckpointing to do before we paint-- a lot of the mortar in the porch columns is disintegrating, and there's some spots in the foundation that could use a bit of building up, if for no other reason than to fortify it even further from the elements. And as you old home owners (not old homeowners, but owners of old homes!) know, these aged houses require some special attention regarding mortar type.

As for the built-ins, you can see it's a book from the 1950s, so the style of the built-ins isn't necessarily what we're looking for, but there's a lot of pictures and diagrams of how to put these things together-- types of joints, etc. We'd like to build in some basic craftsman style bookshelves with doors under the big window sill in the dining room, just deep enough for trade paperbacks, and we've considered putting some cabinets around the fireplace, as there very well may have been at one time.

I think we hit a DIY jackpot!

Monday, May 4, 2009

Rain, rain, go away

Maybe I'll change my mind in July when we'll have had 6 weeks without a drop, but I'm ready for drier weather. I can't stand this.

On the good side, I think the hostas that I planted last weekend have gotten bigger, and the one that I split is doing equally well as two new plants...I've never split them before, so I was prepared to be disappointed. But so far so good. the rain also meant I didn't have to deal with the basil and tomatoes that are already planted...

What it did mean, however, were tornadoes and mud holes and thinset. See, Cake played here Friday night. While killing time at the mall waiting for friends, I heard that the news was reporting a tornado headed straight for the mall. The amphitheater was evacuated and everyone wandered around a little dazed and scared, looking for the storm shelters in the building until the folks at JC Penney announced we were in the clear. Luckily, we had covered seats for the show; still, I realized I am too old for concerts. When everyone piled in to get out of the rain, I got increasingly frustrated with inconsiderate folks knocking my lovely and pregnant friend over. A couple of guys were just being assholes and I wanted to tell them they didn't PAY to stand there; I, on the other hand, PAID for my seats.

I really, really would have hated me when I was 19. Then again, I wouldn't have been knocking over the pregnant girls.

Then it stormed, off and on, all day Saturday. The valium seemed to take some of the edge off the dog's anxiety, but when we tried to run a few errands between storms, we were too late getting home and he had torn into a bag of mortar mix. So I am on poop watch yet again. So far so good, but the whole thing makes me nervous. Also, a couple of the holes he had dug the day before became horrible, muddy sinkholes.

The good news, though, is that we got to try the anxiety T Touch wrap. I put it on him late at night, took him into Adam's office and told Adam that he could take the wrap off in a few minutes, it might be too tight, and I was going back to bed. A couple of hours later, Adam told me the dog had been asleep. Well, then he got worked up, digging. We took a walk; we stayed on the leash in the house. Then I checked the wrap and saw it was loose. I redid it, and there was no change. Then I redid it TIGHTER. And he laid down. I woke up 10 minutes later with his leash in my hand and him asleep by the bed.


We'll see if this continues. Of course, there's more storms in the forecast for the next week. I'll have ample opportunity.

If only it would clear up, I could get the garden done. While the dog and I took a walk for Poop Watch 2 Electric Boogaloo (Poop Watch 1 was the ribs ingesting incident), we looked at other bungalow landscaping. I think we're just going to edge with monkey grass, and do big huge planters of coleus, caladiums and flowers. Or maybe just do small ones this year. Last week killed my shoulder, and we'd have to do it every year, anyway. So planters it is!