Tag Archives: remodeling

Asparagus shoots up, and I wait.

The rain continues, glory to God! But… it’s hard to get enough endorphins to keep in a good mood, when the rain keeps us indoors. A few times I’ve put on Celtic music and danced in order to get muscles exercised and my whole self warmed and enlivened. Yesterday I went for a walk that had to be shortened when the weather forecast proved wrong, and in spite of my longish raincoat I came home drenched.

But a few minutes previous, I had just got on to the creek path when I came upon a eucalyptus limb that had fallen the night before, when there had been no significant wind. Those of us who stopped to analyze the situation finally saw where the tree (on the left below) had broken, higher up than this picture shows. The log must have bumped lower limbs that forced it to flip over before it hit the ground.  We thought it likely it was so waterlogged that it snapped off from sheer weight.

One day neighbor Kim and I walked her dog between showers and I saw this friendly face on a cactus. My own garden is looking fresh and clean; asparagus are pushing up and the fava beans getting taller.

This morning a couple of ladies were coming for tea, and I found one calla lily with which to decorate the table. Last night when I thought to bake a cake for the occasion, I remembered these Brazilian Cheese Rolls that I love, and made them instead. I knew I had all the ingredients on hand, too, and since I’m still working on Using Up, they worked out perfectly.

 

The only starch in the recipe is tapioca flour, so they are grain-free. The first stage of dough containing hot milk, butter and tapioca is gluey. After it rests a few minutes and egg and cheese are added, lumps of the soft dough are pulled off and baked. This time my rolls were smoother on the outside than I remember. The inside is always moist and chewy with that dense mochi texture.

My remodeling project is not making much progress, because the architect seems to keep my small job at the bottom of his stack. I can’t apply for a permit until I have certain drawings, and who knows when they will ever be done. In the meantime I have plenty of work to do on my end, all falling into the broad category of Housework, but not so much that I can’t enjoy the rather restful pace I have fallen into, in my waiting. Lent begins on Monday, and especially in that first week I’ll be glad the house is not yet filled with sawing and hammering and men in boots tromping up and down the stairs. By the time construction starts the rain will likely have stopped, and in every way we will be feeling the lightening of springtime.

A rosemary comeback, and big plans.

The first sunny day we’ve had in a week, and my plan was to work on cleaning the garage; I do not say “to clean the garage” because that sounds like I could ever finish.

But first, a walk. The creek is so high, and now running smoothly so that the sky reflects off the water, distracting from the quantity of mud still flowing below.

After breakfast I opened the overhead door of the garage to get light on my subject, and remembered that I wanted to trim the abutilon. It never stops blooming, so I can’t wait for dormancy. One bloom shone brightly yellow and caught the sun penetrating its petals.

You know how it goes in the garden – One thing leads to another, and I did a bit of tidying up the next hour. The first asparagus has emerged, and lots of California poppy plants that you can see behind one of my new wallflower bushes.

But what is THIS? A ladybug, yes, I know, but the bug is sitting on a stem of rosemary! A stem of a bush that is taking over a pittosporum bush, and already blooming, and I never saw it until today. It’s from a root left over from the gnarly plant that was there until three years ago; what a surprise that it didn’t show itself all this time, until now.

I had to cut it off for the time being, because I didn’t want to take time to dig out the root, which is what is sadly necessary.

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Rosemary in the previous landscape.


Several of my yarrow clumps seem to have died out,
but a couple of plants are starting to bloom.

And the abuitlon – the star of the show.

I eventually did get a lot done in the garage. I’m making space there for stuff that’s been stored in the house, especially in the great room upstairs, because… Announcement!: I’m starting a remodel of this big room. For almost three decades it has been used for homeschooling, large families sleeping or even living in there, Mr. Glad practicing his drums, and always, the storage of many, many things, not in a very efficient manner. We avoided doing anything to it, while we fixed more urgent areas of the house and property.

My plan is to divide it into three rooms: a Guest Room, a Sewing Room, and a full bathroom. Plans now being drawn by an architect will soon be submitted to the city for a building permit, and the contractor is standing by….

There is nothing lovely or very interesting to tell about in the garage, or in the great room. Decorating, choosing furniture, colors and such matters do not inspire me. They challenge me and find me bored and impatient, and that makes me want to escape here and write about books or saints or the moon I saw through my window last night. So things might not change too much on the blog. I’ll be seeing you around!

Blogs and Babies

Before I was married I didn’t keep a journal, at least not after the 5-year diary attempt in adolescence. And newly married, before children, I limited my writing to letters and sermon notes. It was only after having a child or two that I wanted to write at all, and I don’t understand all the reasons for the delay, but I used to think it had something to do with types of mental or creative energy.

I noticed after two or three pregnancies that I had no urge to write while I was pregnant. There are five long blank periods in the recorded history of my thoughts, scrawled in a mishmash of notebooks and stored in a box on a shelf. Much of my journaling over the years was filled with angst over church tensions or worries about whether I was being lazy about finding a “ministry” other than my family. I wrote long lists of what I had accomplished in a typical day followed by the lament, “And it wasn’t enough!”

What was it about carrying a child in my womb that eliminated the need for hashing everything out with pen and ink? Perhaps it wasn’t anything to do with the creative aspect of my participation in a magnificent process of nurturing a new and unique person–though my writing had been potentially creative in helping me to make sense of my world.

I started to write this blog about the similarities with my current life, where I am participating in a months-long creative work–thank God it isn’t nine months–and don’t have the thinking power to devote to any questions other than towel racks and paint colors. It’s only with great faith that I can imagine having anything significant to say ever again.

The idea I started with when I sat down just now doesn’t stand up to more scrutiny. Maybe my intellectual life 30 years down the road is entirely different. In the former time it was in a somewhat dormant stage, really, as I reminded myself in a recent post. The simple reality is that being with child made me happy and content. Maybe it was hormones. In any case, I didn’t need to write.

Now it’s that I can’t think well, that prevents me writing as I’ve become accustomed to. I hope it’s just a matter of distraction and overload, and that I will return to a version of my old self within another month or two. Already I have started sleeping better; it happened when I got the appliances into the kitchen. Family get-togethers and summer vacations will delay putting everything else back in place, but when the day comes that I don’t have to be ready at 8:00 in the morning for invading construction workers, it will be the beginning of my full return.

No, no, I mean the beginning of the next phase of my life. I know I can’t even return to last week, much less last year, intellectually or creatively or any other way. There’s always something new replacing something old, some loss and some gain. Today we moved the old furniture on to the new wood floors, and it all looks pretty, but we have lost some quietness from having (dirty) carpeted stairs.

The disruption has forced me to thin out my belongings, and take stock of how I actually use my kitchen. Having canisters of flour and sugar on the counter doesn’t make sense for someone who rarely bakes anymore. Maybe stress and insomnia and change will blow some cobwebs out of my mind as well, to make room for fresher and clearer thoughts that I can type into blogs on my computer when it is re-installed in the room with the pretty new floor.

Wandering into Urban Homesteads

God willing, today was the last day I will have to live out of my car. The floors took two weeks instead of one. In the meantime I have forgotten how to keep house–having a thick layer of fine wood dust on everything each night has beaten me down–and haven’t learned how to be a gypsy. I’ve been leaving the house at 9:00 and wandering around the county doing little errands or some shopping. I can take all the time I want to try on clothes or look for that special title at the library’s used book store…

But today, Memorial Day, the library was closed, and there was no place to be. My bed, my computer, and some vegetables were what I longed for. I have lost all my sociability and courage and just want to be a housewife hermit for a few months.

But before today’s last straw, some outings I enjoyed were gardening at church, and having a long-overdue chat with my priest; sitting in Starbucks on a day of pouring rain and drinking the largest Café Mocha I’ve ever indulged in; and visits with crafty gardening friends.

K. and S. got more chickens, and a hive of bees! They are growing everything from parsley and onions to raspberries and blueberries. K. has been knitting sweaters and socks. It was lovely to catch up on their homesteading developments.

One night we visited with our longtime friends who I will call The Artist and The Hermit, Art and Herm for short. Herm is one my best-ever book friends; we never have enough time to sit by a fire in winter, or on the patio in summer, to talk about our reading and how it is all connected. She and my husband never tire of sharing music from their old and new favorite musicians.

Art creates beauty, whether it’s in his sketchbook or the garden. Among the santolina, lavender, germander and California poppies he had this yellow-flowered giant I wasn’t familiar with. He said it was sage, and wanting to know just what sort, I went home and researched it online.It didn’t seem to be in the salvia group, so I set several of my botanical sleuths on the chase and found out that it is Jerusalem Sage, not a salvia but Phlomis fruticosa. I also learned that Salvia and Phlomis are both members of the Lamiacea family, also known as the mint family.

 

 

 

In addition to propagating unthirsty plants such as the ones that populate the textured garden in their front yard, he has created a clever drip/wicking irrigation system that gets the needed amount of water right to the roots of his back yard vegetables. In the photos here, if you look closely you can see that the wick goes into a piece of hose carrying the moisture deep to the root zone. The paper bag that normally hides the water pot from the sun has been lifted briefly for me to see it.


Writing about these inspiring gardens and people I love is helping bring my most stressful day and fortnight to a better close than I thought possible when I sat down here an hour ago. Just remembering gardens and books and good friends is soothing and healing.