It all starts with a shiny sink

Happy New Year!  And here’s to shiny new beginnings.  There are so many ways I’d like to make improvements and promises for the new year, but I want to make this year’s resolution one that is possibly attainable.

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dream, believe, achieve

In years past, I’ve mentioned the broad sweeping “get organized”, the hopeful “lose some weight”, and the ever popular “get in shape”.  But this year, I want to make just one promise to myself, and that is to go to bed each night with a shiny sink.  Well, not literally WITH my sink, but you know what I’m saying.

It’s not an original idea, mind you.  Followers of the FlyLady will understand where shining the sink can lead.  and it’s all good! 😉

Sounds pretty easy, right?

The days that I really get the dishes done and “redd up” the kitchen before turning in make the mornings really shine!

Let’s hope that this polish on the morning will start each day of 2017 with a smile and a positive note.

 

Stranglehold Decision

This post is in response to the Weekly Photo Challenge, Resilient.

Here she is, my wisteria vine.  She’s a bit naked at this moment, but the absence of her abundant (read overwhelming) foliage really lets me see just how persistent and actually strangling she has become.  I’m really trying to decide if I should keep her or if I really need to just throw in the towel.

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In my mind’s eye, she graces the stairway railing with flowing cascades of blossoms each spring.  Lovely lavender (I’m guessing) ponytails of fragrance dancing over the edge of the railing.

She has never, not even once, lived up to the floral expectations I so loftily placed on her.  I found her about 15 years ago, and knew it would take years before this young vine would be established enough to bloom.  After about 5 years of waiting, I decided to read up on the care of the wisteria vine.

The year after I realized that she needed to be pruned in order to bloom, she did produce what seemed to be the perfect amount of bloom buds.

I was so excited and could not wait for her to bloom that year.  It was pretty early in the season, and the baby buds perished when the weather turned frosty in April that year.  I was devastated for I simply forgot all about her as I scurried to save all the early bloomers with bedsheets that evening.  She really hasn’t produced any blooms since.

The vine is pretty overwhelming in the summer, and the vines are getting pretty hefty around the new posts of our two-year-old deck.  It’s true – I had to chop her completely to the ground the year we extended the deck.  But she came back, stronger than ever.

A truly resilient vine.

I do think she needs to go, though.  The shield of privacy she provides is simply not worth the apparent stress she is placing on the railing she is using for support.  Not only that, but she really leaves a mess along the stairwell.  And she’s minimizing the actual space we have to climb up and down the steps to the pool.

I’m thinking a lightweight clematis would most likely be a bit more fitting for this location.  I’m so sorry, Miss Wisteria, but I think this story is writing its final chapter.

Are New Year’s Holiday Cards a Thing?

Seems like no matter when I get started on the holiday prep, I’m never quite ready when they do roll around.  wp-1482939507460.jpgThe purchase of a new Christmas tree this year gave me a jump start.

My family was so impressed when the tree was up the day after Thanksgiving.  That truly NEVER happens in this house.  We are lucky to be decorating the tree sometime before Christmas Eve, and in fact, two years ago, the tree never did see an ornament.  Pretty sad tree that year.

procrastinators

This year, I tried to make an online joke of it.

But the fact of the matter is, I’m a procrastinator through and through.  Not sure how to correct this character flaw.  It has been part of my psyche for 50+ many years.  May take 50 many more to reverse!

That’s why I’m wondering if New Year’s greeting cards are an actual thing (and yes, of course they are!!)

The Christmas cards?  Never did make it out the door this year.  Truth be told, they never even made their way out of the box they came in.  Felt sort of Grinch-like, as each card arrived in the mail from all the usual suspects.  I didn’t stop Christmas cards from coming, they came all the same!

Decorating the house for the holidays?  Thank goodness for lazy lights!

Christmas cookies?  Let’s start a new tradition and make them during the week between Christmas and New Year. (Yea, how’s that new tradition going?)

We have the perfect surname (Auld) for the excuse that can be a New Year’s celebration.  So I’m gonna do it this year.  This will be the year of the New Year’s cards.

Should auld acquaintance be forgot, for auld lang syne.

 

 

Fuzzy Wuzzy

Out tidying up the gardens this past week.  Not sure when Mother Nature will pull the plug on this unseasonal warmth.  Even though I’m late, I’m getting the beds cleaned up.  I do try to keep up with the Fall list of garden things to do, and I have to give myself a pat on the back this year!

I overturned a random brick next to the fence, and woke these guys from a nap!

 

Haven’t seen one of these for so long.  Took me back to the days when a little girl used to follow me just about everywhere.  She loved to pick up worms (they soon became her friends) when I was out turning the soil over.  She was also fascinated with locust shells, collecting as many as she could find from the base of the crabapple tree.  Not sure why they are so drawn to that tree, but there are so many shells there, and she just loved collecting them.

She also loved finding fuzzy wuzzy caterpillars.  I’m not sure how true it is, but I’ve heard these guys can predict the weather.  Probably about as good as the local weather forecasters, but I won’t tell them that!

According to The Farmer’s Almanac this is the legend: The Woolly Bear caterpillar has 13 distinct segments of either rusty brown or black. The wider the rusty brown sections (or the more brown segments there are), the milder the coming winter will be. The more black there is, the more severe the winter.

They will freeze over the winter months, then in spring will evolve into the Isabella tiger moth, shown in the center photo above.

It looks like these guys have more brown than black, so I’m hopeful for a mild winter!

We’re Cool

We  don’t truly appreciate things in life until they’re gone.  How many times I’ve seen posts on Facebook, usually around Mother’s Day or Father’s Day, lamenting the times and people who are lost.

Certainly not on that level, but our air conditioning decided to take a break a few days ago.  How can you blame it, working basically non-stop through this searing heat of early summer.  My family has never known life with it.  I was not going to hear the end of the wailing until something was done to bring that A/C back to life.

The HVAC company I’ve always used (always being 20 years in this house now) told me it was time.  Time to put the A/C down, remove it from its years of service, replace it with a better unit.  Very well, I agreed.  It really wasn’t turning out the cool air like it used to.

Second opinions are always a good idea.  I know this is good advice.  Not that I always abide by it, but the cost of that new unit made me take note.  I’d be calling for quotes the next day.

We couldn’t bear to sweat through another dinner at home, so we went out to our favorite the local restaurant that night.  We ran into a friend, who we never see out.  She listened to my hot tale, and recommended a guy who had replaced their unit not long ago.  Get a quote.

I called her guy the next day.  Some service guys really mean service.  This one called me back after he had completed his service calls for the day.  It was already 6:30 in the evening.  He would grab a bite to eat and come take a look at the old unit.  He wasn’t going to replace anything he hadn’t tried to fix.

And fix it he did!  He was at the house for 3 hours that night, flashlights aglow, umbrellas overhead during the torrential downpour, he ignored the lightning in the distance.  He wasn’t going to let us go through another night in that heat.  Listen to the master – his quote, not mine!  And mark my word, when that A/C unit breaths its final breath, the master will get my business for the replacement.

The following morning, I went out to check the area he had been working in.  The outside unit sits right in the middle of one of my borders.  A neglected border.  (How do you control thistles?  I need to find out.)  But one of the plants he had trampled (not judging, as he did fix the unit) was blooming – a tall phlox I have not seen for a couple of years.

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I’ve missed this plant so.  It hadn’t bloomed in years, I thought it was gone.  These tall flowers are great for the rear of this border, as the bright pink flowers show up so nice next to the dark brown brick of the house.

However, it’s always a good idea to place plants in locations where they will thrive, for optimal growth.  A quick check in my trusted flower book tells me this tall phlox is not in its optimal location.  It’s not a shade loving variety.  Most likely the reason I hadn’t seen it bloom for so long.  It needs a sunny location, protected from the wind.

There’s a challenge for me.  Most of my sunny beds are smack dab in the middle of the yard – no protection from wind.  There’s a new bed along the fence, and yes, it gets sun, so I’ll most likely put it there.

Occasionally, we get a second chance.  A/C units can be fixed, plants can be relocated.  Not always with people, though, so make an effort today to appreciate those who you know you will miss.

Daylily Faves

June, aka Daylily Premier month, pretty much escaped me this year as I was so busy preparing for B’s graduation party.  I took a few pictures here and there as I noticed the blooms.  I usually take note of the order of blooms – yellows, then oranges, then reds.  They are all in bloom today!  But I’m sure they did it all in order.  Great thing about perennials – they grow without any help from me!

Every year, I seem to have a new favorite.  As they emerge, I try to remember which was the favorite last year.  I think it was this one.

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2015 Best of Show

 

But this year, I’m not sure which to choose.  These dark red ones are really captivating.

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2016 Fave Contender

 

I wish I could remember where I got each of them.  I do know that these lemon yellow ones came from Elaine, and of course, the original Stella D’oros came from Alice.

I bought a few from Shady Rest Gardens last year, and the blooms are truly spectacular.  I tried keeping the name tags close to the spots where they would be coming up this year, but the weather was not kind to said tags.  They were blank this spring!!  There were a number of new-to-me varieties like Coach’s Fast Break, Jewel in a Crown, Monkey Giggles.  I wish I knew which was which, but they are great additions to the Daylily Collection.

 

Move over Winter

It’s here!  The first day of Spring!  I’ve been waiting all winter for her!  (Spring IS a female, right?)

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Of course, I woke up this morning to a light covering of snow out on the deck, but it didn’t “stick to the grass”.  Ha – the ground is too warm!  My crocuses heralded Spring a little too early this year, thanks to the extremely warm temperatures we had in February.  I’m not complaining!  This photo was taken back on February 20.

And the Snowdrops bloomed for the first time this year, I was so excited!  While I was out filling the bird feeder, this little guy shyly said “Hello!”.

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I planted these bulbs 2 years ago, and have been waiting patiently for their arrival.  These guys showed up on March 8.  It’s so wonderful to have some color poking through.  This winter was one of the warmest on record here in the Pittsburgh suburbs, so it will be interesting to note the arrival of these early bloomers in the years to come.

So, this weekend is my annual seed starting weekend.  Along with the marigolds, I’m planning to start my Salsa Garden – Roma tomatoes, jalapeno peppers, garlic, and cilantro.

 

 

where patience prevails