Still summer

At least, by the calendar.

August has always been the month that feels most transitional to me, the month in which I am aware of the planet turning, the stars shifting toward the winter layout of constellations, the trees displaying the deeper green that presages autumnal colors. Even when the weather is still hot and humid, I can feel the year sliding toward the equinox and shorter days. The light shifts; though the days are still long, dawn comes later, sunset earlier. I have one more quick trip to make before classes start. Then, in some sense, summer really will be over, although often weather in the first few weeks of school is so hot that it feels like summer is in extra innings.

I have not been so present on the blog, this summer, as I intended to be. I thought I’d do a lot more Six on Saturday posts, to mark the time I’ve spent on the garden, and more writing inspiration posts, to cheer myself on with various projects. The list of other things I’d hoped to do this summer likewise still has various items unchecked. The house has not sold; we will not be moving yet. A new course I will teach next spring remains only very sketchily planned, whereas I had hoped to get it more fully developed. A revise-and-resubmit continues to hang on my computer like an albatross.

On the other hand, I have finished final edits on the Huge Honking Translation, written a conference paper, planned fall classes fairly thoroughly, done a lot of gardening, watched the all of the Tour de France as well as the Tour of California, read all of a scholarly book I’ve wanted to read for a couple of years, read quite a lot of light fiction, and drunk a respectable amount of wine. I’ve visited family, traveled to a place new to me, and am about to spend a few nights in my native soil (like one of nicoleandmaggie’s partners, I need that every so often to keep from withering away). By objective standards, it’s been a good summer. I may manage to hack off that albatross soon, and I can keep chipping away at the new-course planning. The house, well, maybe it’s time to bury St Joseph in the front yard.

As for the year’s turning and growing darker, this is probably the moment to plan a trip next December or January, while I’m aware that I will need it, but before I start feeling that I just want to hibernate and it’s too much like work to organize travel.

Spam au chocolat

Ganching: I commented on Saturday the 13th, and it showed up right away, then disappeared.

However, all seems to be well (w/r/t commenting) chez Carolbaby—hope you’re feeling better by now!

Everybody else: sorry I haven’t been around these parts. I traveled to see family, came back shortly before the Tour de France started, and have been trying to do all the work I didn’t do in June while keeping up with cycling events. I keep missing Six on Saturday because I get confused about what day it is. I took pictures in my sister-in-law’s garden; now I’m back, I ought to take some of my own. The day lilies are doing well, and sweet peas are out. Two shrubs are dying off branch by branch, and I’m not sure what their problem is, but it worries me when I’m not totally preoccupied with the Huge Honking Translation or a conference paper possibly related to The Book.

That’s the summary version!

Six on Saturday: Newly Sprung in June

With that title, obviously I’m starting with a red, red rose (1):And I’m going to sneak the Sterling Silver rose in here, as well; the Lamb’s Ears that surround it are budding:2. The volunteer clematis seems to be blooming in two colors, unless there’s another volunteer that joined it this year:3. Close-up of the hydrangea that screens the garage:4. Spiderwort:5. Chamomile:6. Lavender:One thing I like about this garden is how many of its plants have pleasant scents. There are a lot of herbs in the front. Once there was creeping thyme, which got choked out by the oregano, but I have bought some regular thyme (haven’t found a creeper) to put in somewhere. I also have lemongrass, though I’m thinking I’ll keep it in a pot so I don’t mistake it for a weed and pull it back out. And that makes me think maybe I should just have a potted herb garden, with the thyme and maybe some cilantro, as well.

Six on Saturday is hosted by the Propagator! I look forward to getting over there and seeing what other gardeners are looking at today.

Six on Saturday: Reds

Last week, purples predominated. Now for red!

1. Barberry. We saw one of these last week. My garden has a total of four barberry bushes. Most of the largest one died last winter, so I have cut it back severely, and still have one large branch with a few red berries to cut up and put out with the yard waste pickup (for communal composting/mulching, as appropriate; I don’t have enough space for my own compost heap).

       

2. Pansies, overlapping with the barberry in one of the pictures above.

3. Unknown: miniature Japanese maple? Plus some snapdragons.

4. Roses, just coming into bud.

5. Clematis. More red-violet than red.

6. Coleus? From a pre-planted bowl I bought.

Six on Saturday is hosted here: https://thepropagatorblog.wordpress.com/

Six on Saturday

This is a meme some of the garden-bloggers do weekly. I’ve never got round to it before, but yesterday I took some pictures so that I could participate. I hope they’re not too blurry. “Six on Saturday” is hosted here: https://thepropagatorblog.wordpress.com/2019/06/01/six-on-saturday-01-06-2019/

First, the honeysuckle arch, as you come from the garage toward the house. Here we have a patch of iris, starting to fade a little, and three hostas (I don’t know the cultivars of anything; I inherited this garden from the former owners). I like the barberry next to the variegated green and white shrub, which was recommended by the garden designer I consulted at the beginning of the Battle of the Bellflower. She had no idea what we were up against. The clematis at the side of the house. A classic.  I was very pleased to discover this purple columbine under the pine tree out front. There are several pale pink columbines that have self-seeded, but I prefer darker colors, and these go very well with the other purples of this garden. Lamb’s ears and chives; there are also some pinks in the background. There’s a Sterling Silver rose in the middle of the lamb’s ears, but it’s still coming back from the winter and it will be awhile until it blooms. 

The new front

Garlic mustard.

I have mentioned before that I think the previous owners’ notion of gardening was to plant a batch of invasive or aggressive spreaders and let them battle it out. I’ve got the bellflower mostly licked, though eternal vigilance is the price of freedom and I have spotted a few patches where I need to dig or apply super-nasty weedkiller. The bishop’s weed, similarly, is beaten back, although, again, I have to be vigilant about keeping it contained. Last fall I ripped out as much as I could of the oregano that was taking over the front yard. Of course some of it is now coming back . . . and what are all these little heart-shaped leaves? OMG. Another invasive species! FML.

Sir John said, “You don’t seem to find gardening very satisfying.”

See, I have visions of just, you know, planting stuff, pruning bushes, doing some weeding, attracting pollinators and butterflies, and enjoying being outside admiring all the pretty things. Instead I have this non-native toxic dump of a garden in which I have to keep digging out stuff that doesn’t belong here, some of which will actively poison the native pollinators etc that I would like to attract. I really want to have a tantrum and wail that it’s not fair. The garden is another reason I wish we’d never seen this house.

(Do I? If I leave it better than I found it? If I hadn’t spent years digging out all this crap, it would be able to spread all over the neighborhood—even more than it does now, that is—so I suppose I’m doing all my neighbors a favor by busting my butt on this stuff. Attacking invasive species may be my version of someone is wrong on the internet.)

It feels a lot like the Harry Dresden books: take out one predator and you just get something else nasty moving into that spot. I also have ivy, lemon balm, Rose of Sharon, and creeping Charlie. I’m keeping an eye on the ivy, which is doing much better than when it was choked by the bishop’s weed and bellflower; the shoots of lemon balm are so far quite small (I know, I know) and at least it smells nice; and if creeping Charlie, with its pretty purple flowers, were my only problem I’d be thrilled to bits.

Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more, and fill up the garbage with our invasive dead.

Write the swyvere down (redux)

A movie. I ran across a reference to it recently (blog archives? a more current post? newspaper??): a couple are in, or go to, a big city (New York?) and solve an old, noir-ish mystery. My impression is that the outer story is a rom-com and the inner one is noir. I thought it might be good for one of our friend-group’s Noir Movie Nights.

Why didn’t I write it down? I was no doubt in the middle of something else, and thought I could find it again easily. Does this very vague plot summary sound familiar to anybody? A fun recommendation from NicoleandMaggie, or a comparison Undine made?

Updates on other topics:

Taxes: I sorted out all the tax stuff and delegated the delivery to Sir John, so I didn’t have to face the beleaguered accountants myself (Sir John is enough of a guy not to have guilt hardwired into his autonomic response system). And I wrote in my calendar for next November “pay retainer to accountant” so they’ll know to expect us. I love that this is possible; it’s just that when they send us the form to do it, I say “Oh, the tax checklist” and put it aside unopened, instead of opening it and taking action.

House/cats: We’ve shown the house again. Result: Reina spends all her time lurking on bookshelves, fearing that food is only being offered in order to lure her into humiliating and terrifying captivity, since we crate all the cats during showings. Maybe I should increase her Prozac dose.

Weather/garden: it’s probably warm enough that I could rake up all last year’s leaves/mulch, but now it’s rainy and windy so I still don’t want to go out.

Grading: I have six sets of papers due in April. WHAT WAS I THINKING? I’m halfway through the set that came in on Monday, however, since I have grasped that if I don’t keep up, I’ll go under, so maybe the trick to grading fast is in fact to overload myself. I don’t think I want to plan to test this idea next term.

The not-awesome class: I’ve been having conferences with this group about their next paper and despite their silence in class, everyone so far really likes the book we’ve been studying, and most of them had at least some notes or a vague idea about something they might like to write about, so this was encouraging.

Substantive posts about books and writing and interesting things: you weren’t seriously expecting that, were you? If you get one, it’ll be because I’m deep in procrastination mode, or else because it’s mid-May.

 

A week of spring

But how is it already a week since I posted?

Spring is moseying along thinking about whether it really wants to show up or would rather just turn back, go home, and put its fleecy pjs back on for a Netflix binge. There are more birds. They perch on the roof next door and taunt Reina, who chitters at them. There are snowdrops and crocuses in other people’s yards, not mine. Some other bulb flowers have stuck leaves above ground, in my yard, but that’s all. I considered raking up the leaves/mulch from last year, but we’re still supposed to have some below-freezing nights in the next week, so I think I will wait.

One of my classes is still awesome. The other, well. I had them sign up for conferences about their third paper, and lectured them a bit about making the most of the opportunity by doing a little work beforehand, like at least decide which option they want to write on. And check the instructions for the paper, because I am not giving them instructions just to make them jump through hoops, I am telling them how to do well on this paper and exactly what I am looking for if they will just read the instructions.

I mean, I can explain it to you again but I can’t understand it for you.

I once had a massage therapist who told me that in Chinese thinking, spring is the angry season. Works for me. Of course, then I need some excuse for my mood during the other seasons.

Sometimes I look at spring clothing online or in the catalogs that still show up in the mail, and consider this dress or that shirt, and then realize I don’t want to buy anything new, I want it to be warm enough to wear the spring clothing I have.

Lots of the bloggers I read post recipes they have tried or devised, or about meals they have enjoyed. Sometimes I enjoy these vicariously but more often lately I get cranky because I can’t eat that, can’t eat that, can’t eat the other thing either. It seems like some people travel to eat. I travel to look at things, because architecture, paintings, and scenery don’t make me sick.

I am making progress on some of the things I need to work on rather than having feeeelings about (mainly guilt) but now my feeeeeling is omg there is so much of this no wonder I didn’t want to do it because this is going to take so long. That is, I absolutely should have started sooner, but now the only thing to do is keep slogging along because It Is Not Going To Get Any Earlier, and the best I can do now is Don’t Make It Worse.

Usually this is the sort of thing I say to myself in February. Hey, April, are you going to be bringing warm days and a burst of energy? Come on, girl, we could use you over here. Take off the pjs and put on a flowered dress, you’ll have a good time once you get there.

In a Vase on Monday

Nature morte:

Barberry, bayberry, and dried oregano flowers. I don’t know the cultivars of any of these; the previous owners planted the garden here, and I just try to keep it up as best I can. The vase was a present from a Korean graduate student, some twenty years ago, and I’m pleased I was able to find it when so many of our things are packed up in hopes of selling the house and moving somewhere smaller, newer, and more manageable.

I just spent an hour and a half shoveling snow—we did get snow, after all, so I’m at home rather than on campus—and contemplating the winter remains of the garden as I worked. I had thought that this might be the only Vase post for weeks if not months, but I think I may be able to pull together one more winter vase.

This meme comes from here: https://ramblinginthegarden.wordpress.com/2019/01/28/in-a-vase-on-monday-it-makes-scents/#comments

Any readers who miss snow and four seasons, I will happily swap places with you.