Sunday, October 28, 2012

Retrograde and Frankenweather

It nearly hit 80F on Thursday and I spent almost 9 hours working on leaves and other outdoor chores, trying to get the basics done before Frankenweather set in.  

Friday morning got to 62F, but then the wind shifted and I worked the rest of the day in dropping temps (low 50s) and cold wind.   About the last thing I did before I gave up the ghost was to clear off the deck.  I didn't get anything put into the shed (just stacked pots, benches, etc. in front of the deck for later moving), nor did I get the geraniums into the basement (I just schlepped them into the sunroom while they were all still nice and dry). 

I DID get all the leaves from the front/side lawns onto back beds.  By 5:00 I was totally toasted and hit the showers.  I'm done. I'm done (well, for now - ready for weather), I chanted.  Alas, fresh from the shower my nabe Todd rang the doorbell.  "Hey, you said you needed more leaves.  I blew up a pile from my place for you."   And, dang! if he didn't.  I had to laugh.  No way was I going to be able to do ANYthing with leaves for nearly a week (according to the weather channel).   So we mounded them up (me in my PJs) and covered them with a tarp. 

Then Friday, midnight-ish the front came in from the west and dropped temps and 3/4" of rain by Saturday a.m.  Talk about timing.  I spent Saturday on the couch.  After 5 days of non-stop heavy lifting, I couldn't lift anything heavier than a mug all day.  *moan*

We were dry for about 8 hours last night, then FrankenSandy bumped into our front and pushed it from Pennsylvania BACK to OHIO.  Yikes.  I realized the gutters hadn't gotten cleaned, so early this morning I climbed up a long ladder and cleaned out my south side (2nd floor) gutters, then clambered out the upstairs windows out onto the sunroof and cleaned  both the upper and lower gutters.  I was pretty soaked when I was done.

WAS I done?  Heck no - I drove over to my mother's and cleaned out HER gutters because she never thinks about them.  Back home, I've changed clothes, contemplated a cup of hot tea, but have, instead, opted to break into my last bottle of cider.   Oh, if anyone ever deserved a good slug of alcohol this early in the day (just coming on noon), then it is most decidedly - ME! 

OK.  I think I'm ready for Frankenweather.  I just hope the forecasters have overstated the danger of this monster hybrid combination of full moon/high tides, cold front, Atlantic low and Hurricane Sandy.  But I think it's going to be a bad one.

Everyone - stay safe.  Fingers crossed....

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Weather? Achingly beautiful. Back? Just plain aching.

The day started with a sudden 15-minute downpour.  By 11:00, the sun was out.  Due to the 4 nights of 20s weather in the beginning of October, all of the trees are dropping their leaves as the same time.  No one is taking TURNS this year.  *whine*

Ironic that, after all that freezing, today thru Friday will enjoy temps well into the 70s!!  Then - the bottom falls out and I mean fall.  If only I can get at least the leaves done before the cold, wind and rains come.

So today I raked and raked and raked.  Then I wacked and wacked and wacked.  Then I dragged the shreds and started mulching the ring bed.

It took me until nearly 5:00 pm to make all the piles and then shred up just the 6 HUGE piles on the driveway.  (The pictures don't do justice to just how big and solid those piles were.)

 I'm getting too old for this.

Thankfully, the  Brits have a nice tonic for the end of a day like this - lovely lovely cider.

I 'discovered' cider this September and am a total convert.  So much so, you might want to check out what's going on in the basement this month! (Click each step.)

Step 1
Step 2
Step 3
Step 4
Step 5

Meanwhile, until that little experiment pans out, I'll just have to rely on the Brits.  *sip*  Ah! That's the stuff.

God save the Queen!  :-D

Saturday, October 20, 2012

October color

A front is moving through this afternoon (Thursday)  and the advance cloud cover gave us a nice rosy dawn this morning, bathing everything pink.

After 4 nights of 20F weather freezing out all the annuals and extremely tender perennials last week, the mums, sedum, montauk daisy and asters are going strong, giving me the best Fall color I've ever had.

As you might notice, the ash trees have dropped their leaves early this year and I'm already mulching beds.

Meanwhile, on the deck,  it's the frost-hardy geraniums that give the rosy glow, no matter the dawn.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Preying for more

I really like the look I get when I train my butterfly bushes into a tree form.  It's tidy and there's room for other plants around the base.

Anyway, while mowing today I cruised by the bush and something caught my eye.  Omigosh.

Here's something I've not seen since I was a kid growing up with lots of open field around.

Look.   A preying mantis egg case!  (Kinda like tan styrofoam.) There are probably a hundred individual egg chambers in this sack, and when they hatch, they will be 1/4" long, yellow and look exactly like their parents.

I'm a lot less surprised finding this than I could have been.  Earlier in the season I did spy a mantis, but only once and not again.

However, between the heat and drought this year we had yet ANOTHER obnoxious critter (beside the deer and squash bugs) - namely grasshoppers. I've been here 10 years and had not seen any hoppers before this year.

So could the mantises be far behind?  I remember as a kid we had lots of mantises in the fields - and they ate a lot of grasshoppers.  Can't say enough good things about them (the mantises - not the hoppers).

Okay, last post a hawk to go after the chipmunks and mice.  Now mantises to go after the hoppers.

Can there be a litter of wolf pups far behind to go after the #*#($&(#@ deer!!!   (Heck, I'd settle for a collie with a colt 45....!)

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Bird watching

I enjoy feeding the birds and watching their antics.

Some days, however, I'm not the only one watching them.

Yesterday the female marsh hawk was hunting sparrows in the zins and agastaches.  I was hoping to get a good picture and was thrilled to catch her right on the deck railing just outside the kitchen window.

Isn't she just gorgeous?

Monday, October 8, 2012

Shortest season ever!

Around the middle of August the fierce summer-long heat wave (90s and up) returned to normal 80s.  While we've had the occasional hot day since then, it's been MUCH nicer to play in the gardens for the past 7 weeks.

We've even gotten more rain which kept the barrel full and at-the-ready for watering.

There wasn't much to water - the veg bed bit the dust (literally) quite early with little harvest to show for all that effort.

But annuals recovered and with regular watering they really turned up the volume and have been giving the bees and pollinators lots of forage.  They were happy. I was happy.

But that was a short ride.  We usually don't have to worry about frost until 10/18.  Not this year.  Ma Nature played another wild card.

It's only 28F this morning -- everything is not just frosted, but frozen!!

I'm sure yesterday's glowing garden of salvia, zins, hyssop, phlox, etc will turn to dark goopy blooms and withered leaves.

And this isn't just a one-time thing.  We're forecasted for the same nighttime temps on and off all week.

Yep.  Shortest season ever for as far as I'm concerned it was only 7 good weeks (mid-August to this morning).

So much effort this year.  So little to show for it.  Now it's all about shutting down and cleaning up now that the elephants (heat, drought, deer, early freeze) have trampled through the gardens. *sigh*  Ah well, time to start the annual chant: "...NEXT year.... NEXT year... NEXT year." *heh*

Oh, and on another fun note - check out the long-range forecast for 2012-2013 winter.  Time to lay in more firewood, I'm thinking.

Got all YOUR harvest in?