Friday, January 30, 2009

A Lesson in Futility

This morning at 5:30am, it was 23 degrees. The high today should be around 50.

I know this because I was up at 5:30am. I arrived at the nursery at 7:15. There were at least 1000 people already in line and more coming in every minute. The foreman ordered everyone into two groups, Americans and non-Americans. There were probably 200 or so in my group. They took our name, our phone number, asked whether we had worked there before (no), who referred us (no one for me), and whether we could start immediately. That was it. No applications, no resumes, no cover letters accepted. I don't know what I expected, but that wasn't it.

I stopped by Lowes where I worked last summer. I'll go back this afternoon to speak to my old manager about another summer job. It won't pay the bills entirely, but I hope to supplement my income by selling plants, veggies, and doing some model making on the side when I have the opportunity.

I've got 4 cuttings that I plan to stick this morning. Two Elliot Blueberry, one Bluecrop blueberry, and a White Princess Peach.

I may go outside and collect some more brush for firestarting. The forecast calls for snow again next Tuesday.

12:48pm - sunny, breezy, and 45 degrees.

The flowering quince is coming on strong. It's the first thing to bloom each year. This one is way back in the woods beyond the edge of the yard. I took several cuttings from it a few days ago and stuck them in the hoophouse. I hope they take root. I love the graceful, weeping form of this shrub.


Thursday, January 29, 2009

Starting seeds and transplanting

It's 36 degrees and sunny. Yes, sunny. Finally. It was 28 overnight with a high in the mid 50s forecast.

I sowed some seeds on the bottom heat contraption this morning. Yvonne's salvia, double yellow datura, buddelia 'white profusion', and an impatien mix I got from a trade. I'm starting these early so that I can use the aerochamber to propagate more in the spring. Some may be sold in the plant sale this year. Others will be used to fill in the bare spots between perennials that won't bloom their first year.

I'm also transplanting some of the willow that's been sitting in a glass with water for the past few days. The roots are large enough to move to soil on 4 or 5 of the cuttings. I want to get them into soil sooner rather than later to avoid transplant shock.

The rest of the day is up for grabs. I need to work on a cover letter for a job I intend to apply for early in the morning. I need to feed the compost bin and might even turn it over. I also want to transplant some of the cool weather crops like cabbage that have germinated in the hoophouse.

Two cups of coffee down and I'm thinking I need another. Still waiting on answers from the new client regarding his project. He's waiting on the higher-ups. In any case, I intend to put my hands in some outdoor dirt today.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

January 28, 1986

It was a cool, crisp day and I was in the 8th grade. It was Earth Science class and all the students were watching as the first teacher headed into space. Obviously, there was a major malfunction as 7 NASA astronauts "slipped the surly bonds of Earth to touch the face of God."

That night, President Ronald Reagan addressed the nation during what would have been his State of the Union Address.

That was 23 years ago.

Today it's 52 and foggy. Rain likely. I'm working through drawings from a new client trying to put together pricing and a schedule for a new project.


12:20pm - Three days ago I started some Red Texas Star hibiscus seeds on my homemade bottom heat contraption. Today I found at least a dozen seeds that had germinated. I moved 10 of them to individual containers. I want to raise these from seed and clone as many as I can. The Cherry Brandy Rudbeckia I started last week has disappointed me. Only one of 6 seeds germinated.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009


45 degrees and cloudy.

I've been puttering today. I'm still waiting on a phone call or email. I've chopped a little wood, ran a few errands, cleaned the basement, and had lunch.

I wonder if it's too early to start some seeds indoors?

Monday, January 26, 2009

I've got wood

On Saturday, I went to my parents' in SC to get some more firewood. This should last me through the two final cold months this winter. I'll spend a bit of time this afternoon splitting enough to last the next few days. It doesn't burn as well as seasoned wood, but it does burn.


The unusually cold weather and last week's snow has caused some damage to a few plants in the yard. My gardenias I started from cuttings last summer were the worst hit.


The variegated gardenia is probably dead.


The loropetalum should be okay, but I won't know until spring if it comes back to full life or not. I did get some cuttings from it but no roots so far.


The azaleas that were chopped down in 2007 were looking great until the snow. I'm sure I won't see any flowers on these this spring.



None of it seemed to stop the daffodils.


The rest of my day will be spent tidying up a few things here at the house. I'm waiting to hear back from a client about a potential project. I contacted other clients for references this weekend. One, maybe two, will have something next month. In the meantime, I'll still be looking for full time work. This Friday, I plan to apply at a nursery for a summer position. It won't pay the bills, but it would be a job I will enjoy.

Sunday's picture taken on Monday.

Hardwood cuttings: quince, blackberry, lavender crape myrtle, holly, mock orange. These were stuck in potting mix and placed in the hoophouse.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Wintersowing, dividing, and packaging

It's 37 and cloudy, again. Sunday's picture will be taken Monday. I can't deal with any more cloudy pictures in the weekly lineup.

I spent the morning wintersowing some more seeds. I also divided a clump of echinacea that germinated last spring. It was one of three plants I got from nearly 1000 seeds. I direct sowed them and promptly covered them with mulch. I now realize that was a mistake. I also packaged up 4 sets of plants for trades I have been a part of. I received the willow cuttings yesterday. I'm testing a few of them in the aerochamber in the basement. I put their ends directly in the water. The others I placed in a glass on the kitchen windowsill. I want to see which ones root the quickest. I think I already know the answer to that.

This afternoon, I've got to work on my business website. I need to figure out what to do for dinner. And I need to bake the loaf of sourdough bread that's been in the oven rising since I finished my first cup of coffee this morning.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

The longest day

Saturday is nearly over. I went to my parents' this morning to cut down a few red oaks for firewood. We've only got a few more weeks of really cold weather, but I was out. It burns, but it's a slow fire. Hopefully, the dry air of the basement will help cure the wood before I use it. More chopping will need to be done tomorrow.

Tonight, I took some time to presprout some seeds. I put passionvine, hibiscus, and some unnamed salvia into coffee filters and ziplock baggies. Once they've germinated, I will move them to soil and place them on the rack downstairs. I also took a cutting from the orange brugmansia that will go out in a trade on Monday.

In the hoophouse, everything got watered well. The gardenias are looking a little ragged with all the cold weather lately. The cold season veggies are germinating nicely. I saw some really nice purple seedlings that can only be my red cabbages.

On Sunday, I plan to spend some time in the yard. I don't have any plans yet, but I need to be outside messing around. I might divide my echinacea plant. Or maybe the coreopsis 'Full Moon'.

The high today was 60 with a low expected around freezing.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Frigid Friday

Day 2 of working for a friend. I'm doing some painting for him. It's 21 degrees and sunny. There was another hard frost last night.

I had a phone interview this morning at 8:15am with the Scotts/Miracle Gro Company. It would be a seasonal position setting up displays and educating consumers in the Stanly County area. They'll let me know if I will move on to the next step in the process via email soon. Wouldn't you know, as soon as I get an interview, I get a request for a model from my own business. The same thing happened last year when I went to work for Lowes. If it all pans out, at least I will be busy.

I need more coffee as I wait for the temperature to rise above freezing.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Grinding to a halt

Because I'm tired.

The walls have been painted. All that's left is the trim. I'll get to it next week some time. I'm going to be painting the next two days outside. No reason to overdo it.





The color came out a little more gray and less green than I had hoped. I think i will be pleased once the trim and door is done. If not, it's only paint.

The temperature made it to 37 today. Should be in the 50s tomorrow and Friday. There's still snow on the ground, although most of it did melt today.

Slow but steady progress

It's sunny and 14 degrees. There's still a small amount of snow on the ground from yesterday. The forecast is calling for 40 degrees.

The dining room has progressed slower than I wanted it to. Waiting for plaster to dry so that it can be sanded is not how I intended to spend yesterday. But it is coming together. This morning, I will be sanding the rough edges. The walls in the dining room are in really bad shape. Normally, I would obsess about every little crack and bump in the plaster. I would need medication if I did that in this room. So instead, I'm going to sand the really rough parts, and hope I can live with it.

I'll post pictures when it's done. That should be this evening as I will be going to Winston-Salem to do some work for a friend on Thursday morning.

While I'm waiting for plaster to dry, again, here are some pictures of my wintersown sprouts that have endured nighttime temperatures in the single digits and about 4" of snow.

dianthus: maidens pink

cupid's dart

nicotiana sylvestres


covered with snow

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

The end of an error


We have a new President. While I did not vote for him or the other one, I would like to say I hope he does a great job. I also hope that Joe Biden can keep his mouth shut for a couple weeks at least.


The weatherman was right for a change. Two inches of snow and it's still coming down. Our first snow of the year and the only snow I've ever experienced in this house. It's 25 degrees.






From the map, it looks like it will all be over in a couple more hours.


As for the dining room. I got the arch roughed in and the baseboards replaced. I need a 1x6x12 to finish the trim caps. Even though I had promised myself I would not spend any money on this room, I have no choice if I want to get it finished. I'll be heading out to Lowe's in a couple hours.

I also finished the window trim and replaced the molding around the door to the attic.



Today, I want to continue working on the arch. I'll use drywall tape and a soupy plaster mix to smooth it out. I need to sand the corner of the dining room where water damage had ruined the plaster. Then I'll caulk everything and start painting. I was a little more ambitious in my plans yesterday than I could manage. I quit around 10pm. With the weather, there's not much else I can do today.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Manic Monday

I've decided it's time to work on the dining room. It's the first room that I started and it's been in disorder for far too long. When I moved in, I took down the wallpaper border, removed all the damaged trim and painted the walls white. I put up new trim around the windows and that's where I stopped.

This afternoon I will:

■ Finish the window trim and caulk
■ Remove and replace the baseboards
■ Paint the ceiling and replace the fan with a cheap light fixture
■ Replace all the outlets and switches
■ Begin the process of creating an arched doorway into the kitchen

I hope the be ready to paint the walls and trim by Tuesday afternoon. My goal here is to use leftovers from the living room and bathroom remodel. I've got several half gallons of paint that I plan to mix together to come up with something that will compliment the living room color.

Before pictures:

From the living room

What a pretty ugly green color it was

The antique ceiling fan

More of that godawful green

That door leads to the attic. The plan is to turn the attic into a master suite at some point.

Towards the tiny kitchen. This door way will become an arched entry.

Now, it's time to get busy.

2:08pm - Cloudy with a chance of snow tonight and Tuesday. 46 degrees.

Just finished picking up more firewood for the basement wood stove. Since my spare bedroom is being used as storage for a former roommate, I've been using the dining room as an office. I've moved all the furniture out and am ready to begin making a huge mess. Some of the work was completed several months ago including new window trim. It needs to be finished and caulked.

From the living room

From the kitchen

Northwest corner

The doorway that needs an arch

Ok, now I'm ready to get busy.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Another ugly Sunday

It's another cloudy, cold, and rainy Sunday. It's actually sleeting at 36 degrees.

Sunday's picture was taken Saturday.


The basement is finally clean. I worked on that all day Saturday. I've got a few things planned for today. I need to focus on the inside of the house and drink some coffee. I might take a nap.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Friday, January 16, 2009

Thank god it's Friday

Sunny and 14 degrees. I'll be collecting more firewood from the yard today. Tonight is going to be brutal.

8:07pm - Never did break 25 degrees. Spent the day disbursing seeds for the swap. Have 8 more left to do. So much time handling seeds, I decided to start some in the basement. Rudbeckia "Cherry Brandy", Zinnia Envy, "Red Spider" Zinnia, "Battle of Gettysburg" Geranium, and two flavors of Salvia coccinea, red and purple.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

A day to focus on the future

I'm hosting a seed swap over at GardenWeb. All the seeds have arrived and they've been sorted into a filing container. It's mind boggling to think of all the life contained in that little box. Those little bits of stuff in paper and plastic envelopes may some day become food for a family, flowers for the garden, or even a 50' tall tree. Hard to believe, isn't it? I need to spend some time today getting the envelopes stuffed and returned to the people who are waiting patiently.


It's 32 degrees and sunny. Tonight's forecast is now at 17 degrees. Friday's forecast is 11 degrees. How about a little global warming, eh?

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Ever have one of "those" days?

Dreaming of spring

It's 25 degrees and sunny. Tonight, the forecast is calling for 30 degrees. Thursday night should be in the upper teens and windy. I'm boycotting winter today.

Azaleas on Azalea Drive

Petunias and Marigolds

Black Eyed Susans

Coreopsis 'Full Moon'

Rudbeckia 'Autumn Colors'

Hardy Hibiscus 'Turn of the Century'

The front bed in summer. A jumbled mess. I've already reworked the shrub layout and will continue the process in spring.

Three applications to fill out today. Seeds to mail for the swap. Trying to stay warm with a second cup of coffee and a two fires going.

105 days til last frost. Crap.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Sourdough Bread

On January 6, I began my starter for a sourdough bread recipe that I had found online. Last night, I made a batch and let it rise overnight in the oven. This morning while making coffee, I punched it down and put it in to bake. Another 20 minutes and I should know if I did everything right. It's supposed to be simple, right?

It smells wonderful.


Cloudy and 32 degrees. What happened to the sunlight we were promised?

I've got a few errands to run today, three more jobs to apply for, and I really have to start sorting these seeds for the swap I'm hosting. I promised to start sending them out on Wednesday. I'd like to get 5 packages a day mailed. Everyone should have their seeds back in early February.

Now where's that coffee I made?

10:06am - The bread is done. Doesn't taste exactly as I had imagined, but it's decent. Hopefully it will get better as the starter gets some age to it.

2:29pm - 39 and cloudy still. I know what I should have done with the bread. I let it rise overnight in the oven with just the light on. I should have baked it without rekneading it. Instead of a light and fluffy bread, I got a solid chunk of cooked dough. The texture inside is close, but the outside is hard as a rock. I think I also baked it too long.

Monday, January 12, 2009