Monday, February 25, 2019

In like a lion

It is a bit early for that March aphorism, but Mother Nature knows no calendar, especially these days. I took advantage of the calm before the storm to cut back the sedum. Already a few plants are showing green at the base.

Yesterday's winds blew over the bird feeders, much to the squirrels' delight and the dogs' consternation. Clio and Watson turn into sleeping lugs when the skies are gray, but a little sunshine (like we have today) perks them up to the nth degree. I'm their disappointment this winter when it comes to walking - it's too cold/windy/icy/wet or all of the above.

On one of our rare winter walks, I noticed the next door neighbor had created a little sitting area next to her front porch (not that I have ever noticed her sitting there). I used to have a couple of Adirondack chairs set under the shade of the Crimson King maple tree, but they had to be moved each time I mowed. Maybe I'll create a dedicated sitting area beside my front porch, as the back deck is rather intolerable in the afternoon.

Do you have sitting areas in your yard?

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Crazy weather

We had a belated "January thaw" this winter. Temps went from polar vortex negatives to over 50 degrees. So the previous snow is gone, only to be replaced with some soon-to-be-gone ice.

In between, I managed to get a little more of the garden cleaned up. I like having something to do outside (besides walking the dogs) during the winter. And I get to engage in one of my favorite pastimes: mentally making plans for spring.

Today, though, I will hunker down inside. I'm still wrapping up the paper stage of KonMarie, but it's almost done, just in time to do taxes. Ugh.

Sunday, January 27, 2019


This weather is playing havoc with my dog walking habit. My addition does not have sidewalks, so we walk in the street, which is slick in spots whether it looks icy or not. The dogs get their exercise by repeatedly exploring the backyard - every day is a new olfactory experience - while I have to resort to the mall. Boo.

So let's see what is happening indoors.

I have Marie Kondo's two books, and recently binged on her reality show, so now I am "konmarie"-ing my belongings. Even though I periodically purge some stuff, there is more, always more that can be done. My previous attempts to follow her program were half-a$$ed, but this time I am making a better effort.

First stop: clothes. After I retired, I got rid of all my work clothes. Since then, I find I spend most of my days in yoga pants or jeans in the winter, shorts in the summer, long sleeved tees in winter, short sleeved tees in summer, etc. For a while, I hung onto one dress, just in case we were invited to a wedding, but we haven't been invited to a wedding for years - until this year, where I wore a denim skirt with leggings and was the dressiest person there besides the bride and groom.

I'm not a shoe fanatic but I did have a ridiculous number (for me) of purses. Because of their bulk, the discarded shoes and purses filled a whole garbage bag. The clothes took up another bag and a half, all of which are now at the local Goodwill. They didn't want the freed up hangars.

I still have too many coats, but I was reluctant to send them to Goodwill at a time they are purging their winter stuff. I will revisit this closet next fall. Notice the empty shelf? Various and sundry hats are now gone. The golf shoes on the floor are in limbo.

My bedroom closet still holds a few "sentimental" items in the back, plus a bunch of handknits I am not ready to part with. But all in all, I am happy with the results. Pay no attention to the shelf - extra sets of sheets that will be culled in the future, as they are getting worn out. I want to find new joy-sparking replacements first.

Even though I did not get rid of that many clothes, with Marie Kondo's folding methods, I was able to clear out several drawers in my dresser. For example, the long and short sleeved tees used to take up two drawers, reduced now to one, with room to spare.

My handknit socks were a bit of a challenge to fold due to their bulk, so I folded each one separately. Half of this drawer is socks, the other half bowls of jewelry that were on top of the dresser. I often worried about Beau the Feline Destroyer of All Things Nice wreaking havoc up there, but now the earrings are safely tucked away - and the top of my dresser is (mostly) clear.

After clothes come books. Again, I have culled them periodically in the past - last fall I "gifted" a lot of them to my son - but there are still more that are ready to belong to someone else. Unlike the clothes, the books have not yet left the premises. Some I am saving to take to my fiber arts guild meetings. Others will go to Goodwill. Some actually ended up in the recycle bin - they were old and yellow and musty and falling apart and in Danish, a language I don't know.

Right now i am bogged down in paper, the third phase of KonMarie. In the past, I managed to reduce saved paper to one file drawer. I think I can cut that in half, excluding tax files. Regarding the latter, I have 25 years worth, a full file box. Is there a statute of limitations regarding tax errors? I would never deliberately defraud the government, but mistakes do happen. One occurred a few years ago. I actually had to call the IRS to figure out what the problem was. Let the record state that the person I spoke to was very polite and helpful and patient and friendly. But I still owed more money.

I am anxious to move on to "komodo" - everything else, like the kitchen, bathrooms, GARAGE (where once upon a time I could park two cars, now barely room for one).

Why all the decluttering? Firstly, I am one of those people who feels weighed down by belongings, especially unused belongings and anything requiring maintenance. Secondly, I am contemplating downsizing, from my house to an apartment or at least a smaller house, in about ten years (too many pets right now). Thirdly, if I don't do this myself, the task may fall on my kids someday. I don't believe in leaving them a big inheritance - my goal is to run out of money the day before I die - but I don't want to leave them with a big mess, either.

Friday, January 18, 2019

Berries for the birds

Sorry for the quality of this photo but I had to take it through the living room picture window. What you are seeing is a flock of robins feasting on the orange berries of my 'Winterking' hawthorn tree. Huzzah!

As you may know, not all robins migrate south for the winter. If there is food and shelter, some hang around in wooded areas. Check out this explanation at All about Birds.

The winter has been mild so far, but bitter temps are on their way. We have some snow cover; more is coming. My neighbor across the street (his house in in the pic above) has a snow blower and keeps my driveway clear, for which I am eternally grateful.

Monday, December 31, 2018

George Washington and me

I cannot tell a lie: I cut down a cherry tree. Or three, to be exact (one died on it's own). And four apple trees. I contemplated keeping one of the sweet cherries for the birds, but its location - too close to the back fence - would have meant continual upkeep in the form of pruning.

As part of my garden downsizing, I decided to stop growing food. Once upon a time, in order to eat organically grown produce, one had to grow one's own. No more, as it is available at most major grocery stores. Fort Wayne also has a year-round farmers market, and during the summer there is one almost every day of the week somewhere. Also, growing one's own food means preserving it in some shape or form. I am the only one here, so all that effort seems unnecessary.

While the trees are gone (except for the main trunks - I will ask my chainsaw-owning neighbor to help with those), the raised beds with their cement blocks are still there. That corner also hosts a raised bed for the madder plant, which I will probably dig up at the end of next year, and a large bed that has been taken over by common milkweed. The eventual goal is to turn it all back to lawn. I know - SAD! But I will add a shade tree of some sort.

BTW, I saved the fruit trees in lawn bags, as the bark can be used to dye fiber.

Wednesday, December 26, 2018

Da burds

The birds finally discovered the feeders in the front yard. Besides the usual sparrows and finches, there are jays and a red-breasted woodpecker and black-capped chickadees. There is also a squirrel. It tried repeatedly to find its way past the baffle, which was comical to watch until it finally made it to the big platform-style feeder. It hasn't cleaned the feeder out nor has it invited its friends (yet), but I will have to do something to discourage it. Shortening the hanger so that the feeder is a bit higher should do the trick.

I set up the heated bird bath in front of the picture window. About the time I gave up hope that the birds would decide it was okay, the sparrows and then some blue birds found it. I would not be surprised to see the squirrel there too someday.

The weather has been unbearably (to me) temperate. The ground just won't freeze and stay frozen, which causes one major problem with muddy dog paws. I spread straw over the worst places in the yard and invested in a Paw Plunger and limit the number of times the dogs can go out during the day, but the routine of cleaning them up whenever they want back in is getting OLD.

On the other hand, on nice enough days, I am out in the yard, piddling around. In today's rare sunshine, I cut back the catmint and blue false indigo. Earlier I cleaned out the garden shed. Bit by bit.

Tuesday, December 04, 2018

The lazy blogger

I can't believe it has been more than a month since I last posted. Part of the reason is the season - not much is happening in the yard and garden these days besides a little fall clean up. I don't make the beds all neat and tidy, but any time it is reasonably nice out, I putter a bit.

The barberry shrubs are getting hacked up quite a bit. They are supposedly invasive, but my primary concern is they crowd the big Gold Mop. Ditto for the burning bush, but it keeps trying to keep on. Some plants just don't want to say die even when the gardener wishes they would, like the yucca.

I stopped feeding the birds for a while, as the sparrows had driven everyone else away plus they were ruining the lower branches of the thin skinned tulip tree by stripping off bark for their nests. The dogs have the run of the backyard - and they like to chase away the sparrows (good dogs!) - so this fall I set up the bird feeders in the front yard, away from the tulip tree, where the old fashioned lilac once stood. The stump of that shrub refuses to decompose, so now it is surrounded with mulch and topped with the feeders. It is not a very popular spot yet, although the blue jays have been helping themselves to the unshelled peanuts. I'm still contemplating a spot for the bird bath.

Seed catalogs started arriving just before Thanksgiving, but they go right in the recycle bin. I am reducing my gardening footprint because it is becoming just too much for me to keep up. Instead of new plants, I plan to rearrange the ones I have. If there are holes to fill, I may use annuals for the time being.

In case it is another month before I post again, happy holidays!