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This is my sixth southern spring, and I still am shocked by how fast they happen. Last week we were bud and bare twigs, and now we're leafing out.

My yard:
ipheion, grape hyacinth passing
daffodils full, starting to pass
turkish tulips full
redbud full
azaleas coming out
dogwood tiny tiny blooms (looks like it will bloom this year! yay!)
iris not yet in bud
lilies showing shoots
peas 1: 5 inches
peas 2: 2 inches
peas 3: planted yesterday

Broader world:
daffodils passing
tulips full to blowsy
cherries in FULL bloom
bartlett pears losing bloom, starting to leaf out
wisteria early to mid bloom
azaleas early to mid bloom
pin oaks in danglers and starting to leaf out
freak early iris at my neighbors bloomed a full 3 weeks ago!


Mar. 15th, 2008 03:40 pm
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The peas planted March 1 are in sprout; planted more peas today and have rather a lot left. Maybe tomorrow.

Bought impulse kale (TM jonquil) at the Farmer's Market and planted it. Only a flat of 6, mixed red and green. Hope that it is early enough and large enough seedlings to beat the bunnies, who never seem to trouble us much before June.

Planted seed thyme, basil, and parsley, in pots for inside.

We have daffodils starting to bloom, as usual as they are ending for the rest of the block. Also grape hyacinth, iphion, blue squills. No redbud yet, but Bradford pears are out in force in the neighborhood.

Sunny and 80 degrees this AM; it rained briefly while we were napping and is now overcast, but I was hoping for more steady rain, as I stupidly forgot the shower bucket this AM.
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I spent most of Saturday outside. We attempted to tame the wild clover (i.e., we mowed the lawn) but I swear, it looked like it had already grown two hours after I did a patch and this morning seems as big as ever. We ran the reel mower into the shop to be sharpened to aid us in the quest.

I worked in the vegetable and flower beds, and at the shop we bought six alyssum (Casper's choice, pink, natch), six petunias (hot pink), six impatiens (mild pink), woolly thyme, a cucumber, a zucchini, and a Big and Beefy (or somesuch) tomato. The last were all 75 cents apiece, so if we get frost this weekend (which we may) there will be no big loss. I also planted another row of peas and still have so many peas I think I'll have to send them to my sister, and planted more lettuce and some marigolds.

Right now we stand at: pea planting 1 is 6 inches, pea planting 2 is 3 inches, sweet peas (both plantings) are about 3 inches, and kale and lettuce are tiny tiny still. My Turkish tulips have blazed out, and the daffodils are mostly gone, too, but we have violets in the lawn and lots of grape hyacinth. My dogwood is barely blooming for the second year in a row, but when I asked my colleague the former landscaper she said it was probably just too heavily shaded by the massive pin oaks, and there's nothing I can do about it. The climbing rose and clematis look good (especially the rose), and the iris are very leafy looking. Lilies just starting to sprout.

Supposed to be hot today, but as I mentioned, they're talking frost again this coming weekend.
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Dillo on his back, in onesie and pants, lying in the boillowy overgrown clover in the yard. Eating it, natch.

It was 85 today - too hot, ick - and redbud is in full bloom, some wisteria and azalea are out, tulips in full bloom to passing, cherries blooming like mad and it looked like it was snowing outside the Whole Foods as a front passed through, Bradford pears are leafing out already. And the green scrim of pin oak pollen has begun.


Mar. 20th, 2007 07:36 am
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I've been remiss in documenting the progress of spring this year. Where we stand now, after several 80 degree days last week followed by a freezing (literally) weekend:

Daffodils fading most places, in full bloom in my yard
Tulips in sheltered locations are out; I have a Turkish tulip in bloom
The unnaturally early iris at my neighbor's house bloomed this morning
Cherry trees seem slower than usual - not really out
Redbud just glimmering
No dogwood signs at all

I am at work briefly to open up and pick up paperwork to do at home, as the Dillo is running a little fever and seems sicker than usual - the excessive mucus has turned into a cough which is making him quite cranky, so I think he needs a little extra TLC. He also hasn't been willing to eat much, so I'll hope to keep him fed by me. Poor sickie. mr. flea and I were discussing this morning how we feel guilty for the fact that he's been sick to one degree or another (though never seriously) for literally two months now. If he weren't in daycare, he might have had one cold, tops.

What have I forgotten to say about him? We moved him to the bigger carseat a couple of weeks ago, but still facing backwards. Still not crawling, but very close indeed. They've been putting him into the other infant class sometimes in the afternoon (when they shuffle the babies so a caregiver can go home early sometimes) - partly because he's easy and flexible and they like him, and partly because he's big and active and likes to watch the bigger babies crawling about. He ate some grains of rice off the high chair tray last night, though, unsurprisingly, found them hard to grasp so there was rice everywhere. He likes to be naked. He *loves* to have his tummy nibbled. Laughs and laughs. Starting to show a decided preference for me - which is age-normal as I recall. Not that he dislikes other people, he just likes me best.
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It is the time of green pollen scrimming everything, and of the pin oaks dropping their dangly bits and making a big mess, and of being thankful for the lack of outdoor allergies in the family.

I have iris in full bud, and my lily of the valley, transported in 2002 from CT, bloomed for the first time! The climbing rose from last year is going gangbusters, and the clematis is finally showing some spunk too. New lilies about 4-6 inches tall.

For veggies, the earlier peas of both Peas I and II are blooming (although planted 2 weeks apart). I have baby mesclun lettuce and baby spinach almost ready to harvest. No signs of germination among the beets and carrots yet.

When we got home yesterday it was hot and icky, but then rained heavily and cooled off, where it should stay all week. Casper played in the rain for an hour, setting up buckets to catch the drops coming off the porch, and adding japanese bayberry berries to decorate. She was soaked despite a "raincoat" and her boots, but very happy. Then a complete wild thing at the Whole Foods (very unusual for her!) and to bed out like a light at 8:30 and a quiet night.

Born or impending:
Aleena (not sure of spelling), a girl, big sister named Fedora. The father is Colombian, as is the last name.

My coworker who is not due for another 5 weeks but has been immense forever and just needs to make it past the baby shower today has already named hers XXX Pippa, to be called Pippa. XXX is decided but not yet released (I think they were picking between family names and don't want to cause a fight). The last name is a hypenated, straightforward Anglo one (though they are not British).

As far as the armadillo's name, we've got nowhere. Although everyone asked over the weekend. I am currently favoring Casper's suggestion, which arose from this conversation:
Casper: There's a Tyrannosaurus Rex growing in your tummy.
me: Could we pick a less fierce dinosaur? Maybe a Diplodocus.
Casper: Okay.
conversation continues; a few minutes later:
me: What should we call the baby?
Casper: Diplo.
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It rained this morning, cancelling the Easter Egg Hunt in the park, but Casper was only briefly disappointed and then donned raincoat and boots to stomp in puddles, catch rain in a bucket, etc. while I drank coffee, dry on the pollen-dusty porch.

Now everyone is napping (though I did sleep for more than an hour I think, on the couch with Casper on my chest) and I ran out and dug over the rest of the garden bed and planted beets and carrots. This morning's rain was not very long or penetrating unfortunately, though we are still misty and damp. Peas 1 are doing well and climbing the supports; peas 2 are 4 inches tall, some mesclun lettuces are up, and so, remarkably, are some spinaches, though in danger of encroachment by wild violets. A few of last year's tulips have deigned to bloom, which is a bonus. Azalea is fully out and so is wisteria, and while my dogwood only has tiny petals yet, the rest of the street is looking dogwoody. Herb garden looking well, though the rosemary is attempting a takeover as usual.

Been an up and down day. mr. flea and I are both struggling with our work and where we are in our lives right now. Casper, on the other hand, seems more happy with where she is in her life. Tomorrow is a joint birthday party for two girls born the same day (turning 3) and rescheduled Easter eggs. (For Easter proper, we'll be in Ohio.)


Apr. 2nd, 2006 07:48 pm
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80 degrees, or nearly, both days this weekend. In honor of spring we purchased sunscreen, dug out our sunhats, rearranged the furniture a little bit, and bought more rubbermaid bins. Some day everything I own will be in rubbermaid bins.

After dinner (waffles and bananas and strawberries and bacon - Casper's suggestion!) she and I took a walk to the neighborhood flower house. This house was the first big big sale in the neighborhood, right when we moved in 2.5 years ago. It had just been renovated and sold for a price that astonished observers, and the purchaser then decided to renovate it again, with very expensive details according to RFDad, whose architecture firm did the work. Rumor has it that the owner inherited some large fund of money with the requirement that a certain amount be spent. He's an artist; I met him briefly at a neighborhood cookout and he seemed like a perfectly normal person, not extravagant. I guess he rose to the challenge. Last fall a local garden firm planted 7200 bulbs in the yard. http://www.flickr.com/photos/casperflea/122205973/

Our yard is doing fine. In progress of spring news, redbud is in full bloom, wisteria just came out this weekend, azaleas are starting, and the dogwoods are starting in sunny areas but not on my shady street. My Turkish tulips have disappointed, but my peas coming along nicely and I've only got about 18 square feet of garden bed to dig over. We mowed the lawn some today. Must plant beets and carrots, soon. http://www.flickr.com/photos/casperflea/122205978/
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It just occurred to me that the weekend trip out of town I have been planning for this weekend, and the birthday party I have been planning to attend this weekend in the neighborhood, are in fact on THE SAME WEEKEND. Damn. I guess I should un-RSVP for the party, and Casper can take Ellen her present when she sees her today.

So, yeah, I am possibly having some brain functioning issues, whether they be stress or homones or whatever. I mean, I am not the kind of person who is this distracted.

Just ran out and planted lettuces, in the mostly-dark with a half-moon. It's rained for 24 hours, steadily although lightly, and in general NC has decided to resemble England this week (I looked recently at pics of our England trip in the first half of May 2002, and remembered how I wore long johns and sweaters and raincoats constantly - in May! How used I have gotten to this unnatural climate down here!). Which I'm all in favor of, as tulips and peas love it, and what is better than tulips and peas?

Must go wrap kiddie present, and rack brain for other important data possibly misplaced.
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Oh, okay, 6:30 am doesn't count as night, even if all the other people in the house are sleeping. I managed to put my insomnia (up since 4:30 cries by the Fuss) to good use for once, and planted mesclun lettuces (no room for my buttercrunch until I dig over more of the bed, although I suppose I could put them where the spinach has obviously failed to germinate...). Also watered Peas 1 (standing proud with 2 sets of leaves) and Peas 2 (just about to sprout) and the pansies in pots in the front yard. And scattered the last of my acid-loving-shrub fertilizer.

I have a pink azalea in bud and the rest I fear won't flower because they haven't been pruned; I am worst at pruning these excessively bushy bushes. I did do some work on the backyard camellias this past weekend (as mr. flea with great satisfaction removed all the wild onions from the lawn - he takes as much joy in this as I do in digging up dandelions!), but I ned a ladder to do more. Neighbor surely has ladder; must borrow. Otherwise violets are blooming in the lawn, and the more domesticated ones are getting ready; ipheion is in bloom; daffodils are at their peak for me; tulips are well up and beginning to make buds (they are in full bloom elsewhere). I am eager to see what the Turkish tulips come out like; all the rest are in their second year now so if they bloom at all I count it lucky. Most of my iris looks strong, and the freak early iris at the neighbor's has bloomed (it is a regular bearded iris but is against a south-facing and sunny brick wall and generally blooms with the daffodils!). I have sprouts of the lilies I planted in the iris bed.

Casper conversation (in the car):
C: I'm poopy!
me: Well, we're on our way home; we'll change your diaper when we get there.
C: It's a pull-up! You was wrong!
me: Yeah, I meant pull-up. You're right.
C: Nah, nah, you was wrong! (Sung with such pure joy it didn't come across as malicious at all).

She continues to be The Bossiest Two Year Old Ever lately, and all the bad-dream control freak issues persist, and I'm starting to worry that maybe school (where she is an obedient, quiet angel) is too controlling for her and is heightening the normal two year old assertion of independence and worries about control over the universe, which play out in such detail at home. It's hard to tell what's a normal phase and what's unusual stress. It's likely that I am just projecting my bad feelings about the school, and blaming them for everything. But boy am I tired of "IT"S NOT YOUR BLANKET; IT"S MY BLANKET" (blanket in question is on my bed) and the complete freakouts over things as apparently minor as the placement of the fork next to the plate.

books read

Mar. 12th, 2006 03:20 pm
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Georgette Heyer, The Grand Sophy; Black Sheep.

Janet Evanovitch, Ten Big Ones (Stephanie Plum). These have gotten very formulaic and silly, but it was a pleasant enough couple of hours. I think my favorite moment was when Ranger told Stephanie he had a budget line for her. As entertainment.

It is a gorgeous gorgeous day here, warm and summery and no bugs. Too bad it's March 12, and by July 12 will be intolerable outside.
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I love yard work. Love. We just spent two hours doing varous things - prepping the pea bed, removing leaf debris from the iris, trimming the hell out the The Bush That Grows Like Crazy (basically you cut it off at the knees so it looks like stumps, and by midsummer you have a 15 foot bush again - hello, coppice-ing!), carefully trimming The Other Bush I Don't Know What It Is so as not to remove more than 1/3 of the plant, but to take off the ridiculous long spikes at the top and at least get started thinning it out on the inside. I did a good job I think as it looks trimmed but not hideous. It was really hard to do because it's so overgrown I couldn't get at the inside very easily to take out branches. Still need to cut down all the extraneous small trees along the driveway with the lovely pruning saw and prune the camellia before July 4, after which Camellias Must Not Be Pruned. But since we now have a brush pile the size of a small car, maybe wait a little.

Later I'll sneak out and plant peas and some elderly spinach seeds I found (spinach always does badly, wrong pH, but why not plant the seeds on the off chance). Casper would be waaay too helpful I fear.

After mr. flea pooped out (he did most of the brush hauling and of course lacks my LOVE complusion) Casper ran aroud the yard in circles singing LA LA LA in her too-short dress, pink tights, and pink polka-dot gumboots. I want to raise a good outdoorsy girl. She really likes to help us do the yard work, but since most of it involves sharp objects or tools too big for her to handle with ease, she gets a little frustrated.

I have one clump of blooming daffodils, but they are in wide release elsewhere now. Today grey and rain forecast but 60.

By the way, unless you like sobbing like a baby, do not read the Modern Love column in tomorrow's NYT style section. Esepcially if you are a parent.


Feb. 20th, 2006 03:25 pm
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As an exciting new pregnancy symptom, I has sciatica for 3 days a week ago, and then it gradually got better and was gone, until half an hour when I was coming down the stairs, and it's baaaaack. Again on the right side, basically feels like my hip joint is sore and radiates down my leg. And I was good this weekend and exercised - raked the front yard (some people have grass; right now I have moss) and dug over the pea bed in the back yard. Casper helped with the latter, by pushing the shovel in with her foot SO CUTE and helpful, but she really needs her own, smaller shovel. Need I say that doing the yard work made me so happy, even though it was quite cold. Must remember this. Will plant peas next weekend. My daffodils are still shoots, and I have tulip shoots too, although now many of my neighbors have blooming daffs. Iris look happy and strong. Everything else still pretty much dormant.

Placing that Amazon order for the yoga DVD tonight.

In other weekend news, mr. flea and Casper went on a date together to see Curious George and I watched biathlon (very tense! exciting!) and took a nap. Was so proud of mr. flea - they got to the Mother of All Malls and the theater was sold out, but he resourcefully went to the Apple store and looked up the other local theater's showtimes and locale on their internet, and then killed the ensuing time before the next showing playing educational video games with Casper. (She appears to be good at matching things - he said the only mistake she made was when shown a fish she matched it to the elephant instead of to the hook with a worm on and, and since she's never seen anyone fish, how would she figure that out? I mean, logically, it is sort of odd.)

In other Armadillo news, now that I get wiggles it feels real again (19 weeks tomorrow). We have our sex-determining ultrasound (yes, I know that's not why they do it, but assuming all is well that's the main result for the parents) a week from Wednesday. Early on I was terrified at the idea of having a boy (different! from what I know! has a penis!), but now I think it is a boy, and am happy with that. Amazing how one can work on one's own mind. Of course, I wanted Casper to be a boy and thought she was until the ultrasound, and what we got has certainly worked out fine.


Feb. 9th, 2006 07:34 am
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I saw my first daffodil in bloom on my way in this morning, amusingly enough in the front yard of the Frat Boys Next Door, who are not precisely gardeners. 3 years ago the house was girls, and maybe they planted daffs, or maybe they're relics from some previous incarnation of the house (it was originally a duplex, and a neighbor who is a profssor in the later 40s lived there as a graduate student.)

There have been crocuses in bloom all week on the corner, and in general the flowering tree sequence has begun (with cherries). So, spring! In February! This despite our week-long "cold snap" which is actually just normal winter weather, i.e. lows around freezing, daytime highs near 50.

So, must actually PLACE a garden seed order if I'm going to be planting peas in a couple of weeks.
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Book read: Collapse: How Societies Choose to Succeed or Fail, Jared Diamond.
I got bogged down among the Norse last year, but have made it through the second half of the book since Jan. 1 While I am, in principle, in favor of the kind of sweeping synthesis Diamond engages in (see also: Guns, Germs and Steel), in practice it tends to drive me a bit bonkers, especially when I have some professional knowledge of things under discussion, and can see where inconvenient details are being fudged or ignored in favor of the sweeping hypothesis. This was more of a problem with Guns, Germs, and Steel for me, maybe partly because of my subject specialty when I was an archaeologist, and also partly because that book was not as tightly edited as this one. Collapse had boggy parts and redundancies, but not nearly as many as Guns, Germs. Many of the case studies were tight and (as far as I knew about them already, and I had a passing familarity with Easter Island, the Maya, the Anasazi, and the Norse in particular) accurate. The Norse went on too long, IMO - the length was repetitive. The only section I thought was not successful was the 4th, the sort of summary and "what does all this mean" section, and in particular the last chapter. There Diamond refuted in a couple of paragraphs each a number of straw-man style objections to his thesis - never a particularly strong way to write, and especially not a strong way to finish an otherwise interesting book. The last chapter was general and more political than the rest, and one of the strongest parts of the book was the specificity of both the case studies and Diamond's own acedotal stories of change in areas he's visited.

In spring news, my neighbors have snowdrops in bloom this morning. I have shoots of daffodils, bluebells, and starflower, as well as what I think is one of my Turkish tulips. It's Jan. 26. It's been a unusually warm winter, even for here. I would say we've hit 60 degrees on at least half the days in January so far.


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