Month: April 2015

dandy lion

Dandelions have been a scourge to the individual homeowner since the advent of the individual homeowner’s lawn. I can remember growing up on Connecticut and learning that you have to push the dandelion tool very deep in the ground to get the whole root, otherwise it would grow back. Mom abhorred dandelions, but I think even she knew it was a losing battle. Of course as a kid I loved them, how you could flick them with your thumb at your best friend when he wasn’t looking, or blow the seeds and watch them float across the yard. Imagine my surprise when I learned, years later, that they were good to eat. If you’ve ever taken the time to watch a dandelion, you will know that it is one of the first sources in the spring for nectar for the winged creatures in our world. And more research shows that dandelions have long since been an important medicinal plant in many countries…except here in America where they continue to be a scourge to the pristine lawn that everyone expects.

It amazes me how much energy and thought is put into eradication something that has been labeled a “pest”. Millions of dollars are spent each year developing and purchasing pesticides to try to make these little guys die. It is mind boggling.

So today’s post is about the dandelion, that wonderful yellow-flowered, deep-rooted wondrously healthy plant that everyone hates. Isn’t it beautiful? I think I will probably stop worrying so much about them in the lawn…the garden? well that may be a different matter. The jury is still out on that one.

dandelion close up with a bee with another beeIf you want to know more here are a couple of links:

For information on what the dandelion is good for:

http://www.mofga.org/Publications/MaineOrganicFarmerGardener/Summer2007/Dandelions/tabid/756/Default.aspx

For a history of lawns:

http://www.planetnatural.com/organic-lawn-care-101/history/

paper

see the beauty?
see the beauty?

Let’s face it. It’s a wasp. And as such, it has a difficult road to hoe. I don’t mean the problem of finding food or of surviving from season to season (only the queen does this). I mean the fact that, because of its ability to hurt humans, wasps are hunted down and exterminated. Never mind that they are actually beneficial to humans because they eat a lot of bugs which are harmful to the garden. As long as it has its weapon, it is a threat to society.

I definitely don’t want to get on a soapbox about a wasp, I really just want to be an observer this year. I want to take the time to actually see what creatures live with me on my property, without judgement and without trying to eradicate or change them in any way. Just observe and take pictures. And ponder how each being that I come across has already been sentenced by the human race depending on whether the being is harmful or beneficial. It’s amazing how much I find just in my backyard that has been deemed “bad” by our society. Sometimes for no other reason than it is ugly.

But humans are fickle and in another 50 years, these things may be termed beautiful, you never know. Personally, I am seeing beauty (art) in everything I take photos of, even if it’s something I would rather not have in my yard.

dream world

On a night that brings back

a tinge of winter,

where the windows are closed

and the heat is turned on,

I dream of the days

when the sun

warms the earth

and I complain

that it is too hot

and wish for

a breath of cool air.

dream world
dream world

sunset

A photo taken at sunset

(a portrait really)

of a redbud

showing its

true colors

which are

not

really

red.

Where do they

come up with

these names?

redbud

roos and such

So this has been a jam-packed week full of good stuff and chaos. Geothermal system is in and operational (although our yard is looking like an enormous rodent has burrowed several trails into it). Of course we just turned off the heat as it’s been quite balmy but we will get to try the air-conditioning soon enough.

The beginning of the week found me and my friend in Virginia at the Safari Park looking at kangaroos. They have a mob of about 20 or so hanging out there. You can walk into their enclosure and get pretty close to them. Of course I started chatting up one of the employees and wrangled an invitation into the center of the enclosure to pet one of them. Some times it is beneficial to be an out-going person and willing to talk to total strangers. I was able to get some really useful pictures to help me when I am finishing my sculpture.

kanga1 kanga2 kanga3 kanga5 kanga6 kanga7 knaga8

This one is my all time favorite. I promise you it isn’t dead, just sleeping.

kanga4

Needless to say I have lots of work ahead of me in the studio. While these guys were considerably smaller than mine (Fozziemum tells me that is common for captive roos) not to mention the fact that they are red kangas and not grey, I have realized that there are some things that must be changed on my sculpture.

The thing of it is…the kangaroo sculpture time is going to be seriously compromised next month…I have been accepted into a summer residency program for sculpture at the School for Visual Arts in New York City. It is a month-long residency and I will be mentored and guided by teachers, gallery owners etc as I continue to explore some of my other sculptures. I am specifically interested in working on my basket weavings and taking them into a whole new, and possibly public, direction. I am so excited about this opportunity, I love the city and can’t wait to explore all the arts that happen there.

So all in all it’s been an awesome week, one to be remembered for quite some time…

a bit of whine

Today’s post is brought to you by the color yellow.

explosion
explosion

Ever have those moments in life where everything gets torn apart all at once and your job is to put it back together as best you can? I would imagine that my friends in Christchurch still feel that way years after the earthquake. Fortunately, my experience isn’t quite as life consuming as that was. But I still am feeling a bit overwhelmed.

The geo-thermal system is installed but the remains of the destruction to our lawn is still evident. The timing was such that I was able to get the landscape company in to fix the walkway that was dug up but the lawn is still a mess. It may take a while to find someone to fix it. Unfortunately, it means the dogs are tracking in a bit more mud and dirt than usual.

still dug up
Fixed walkway and crazy lawn

Speaking of which, at the same time as the geo thermal and the hardscaping was going on, I had a couple of young dudes spread mulch in the gardens. I realize I may be a bit early on this but, again, the timing worked out this way. Of course yesterday, our dog Ginger had found something nasty to roll in. She was given a bath and sent back outside (not by me) and the next time we saw here, she looked like this.

can I come in?
can I come in?
aren't I pretty?
aren’t I pretty?

Yup, she had a good rinse, outside this time, and then was relegated to the indoors until she dried a little bit more.

Ginger was already in the doghouse even before this adventure. The hardscape dudes were fixing our front walkway as well, taking out old concrete, putting in new and adding a step (I told you it’s been chaotic around here). Ginger decided that when no one was looking she would check out the new concrete…before it had fully set. I was not here but I heard that Ginger was canine non grata for several hours.

paw prints
yup, Ginger paw prints

So, as if that weren’t enough, the giraffe got its new base of stones to stand on. I think he looks really good now and Mr. R is thrilled not to have to mow under him this summer. Now I just have to finish fixing him. (the giraffe, not my husband.)

P1070338
on the rocks

So that’s what is going on around our house. Changes in heating, changes in landscape and stupid dogs. Along with all of this, I got my third invisalign plates, attachments AND rubber bands (ugh). I feel like a grumpy nine year old. My teeth are lumpy and they hurt.

The good news is that I got to spend time with kangaroos (yes, real ones) this week. I promise the next post will be much less whining and full of fun pix of kangaroos and other cool animals.

mouth…meet the money.

Yes, we are putting money where our mouth is. We are biting the bullet and installing geothermal. When we moved into our house, it was heated by an outdoor wood stove which sounds like an amazing idea. All you have to do is put wood in the box which heats water pipes that circulate into the house. Then air-handlers blow across the pipes, effectively heating the rooms to a nice toasty temperature.

Well, the romance of finding wood, stacking it and feeding the box has worn off after eight years. Nine cords of wood for an old house was a year round job. The logistics of heating a two zone house that was built in the 1880’s has led us to the idea of geothermal. And this week, the installation began.

Yesterday the backhoe arrived and started literally ripping up our yard. I watched with some trepidation as the backhoe reached it’s long neck towards the house. The operator, however, was an artist, deftly scooping and placing dirt with the finesse of a ballerina.

geothermal

A trench then had to be dug from the house to the top of the hill…through a pretty major stone ledge (this is Carroll County after all).

geothermal

Shooting off of this original trench are six-six foot deep trenches about 10 feet apart running down the hill.

geothermal

Our sledding hill was turned into one large dirt field.

geothermalgeothermal

During this digging, the dead peach tree disappeared (with my blessing) and some interesting things were dug out of the soil, including what looked like part of a cab of a truck. We looked at it, took pictures then buried it again. Here’s the tire and large piece of concrete we found.

geothermal

Coils were laid in the bottom of the trenches that would hold the circulating water system.

geothermal geothermal

By 6:00 p.m. the coils for the system were laid, and the trenches filled back in. Mowing is not an option for several weeks which has caused Mr. R a little anxiety. Today all the old machinery for the wood system was dismantled and taken out. It’s a good thing that we are having unseasonably warm temperatures because we will be without heat for several days.

Here’s the good news with this system…the air-conditioning units go away. Geothermal is both the heat and the air-conditioning system for the house. I no longer have to listen to outside units turn on and off during the summer and I can plant some bushes next to the house.

Here’s the other good news. The state, the federal government and the local electric company are so excited we are doing this they are actually going to give us money! So some of the cost is being paid for by the taxpayer…I’m okay with that.

And the really good news is that we no longer have to have wood delivered, stack it and then feed the beast from October to April. We can just turn on the thermostat and there will be hot or cool air whenever we want it. Mr. R is really excited about that.

The best news of all? No trees or fossils were killed for us to have this luxury. Sweet.