Hard(scape) Work

The weather finally got lovely, but it’s too early to start planting, and I can’t afford plants right now anyway. (Heavy sigh.) That’s okay, though, because it’s on days like these, this time of year, when I need and sometimes manage to get some less pleasant jobs done. This year, it’s resetting flagstones in the driveway – not high on my list of fun things to do.

The big problem is that when the edge stones begin to fail, everything behind them does the same. Mortar breaks, then weeds and grass find a purchase, and they break down the mortar even more, and then it’s dogs and cats living together.

So you gotta fix those edge stones.

Now, I love my flagstone driveway, and it’s a good thing I do, because resetting flagstones is a pain. For one thing, rocks are heavy. Also, so is concrete, especially when yo’re mixing it by hand. There is digging involved that does not end with lovely new plants being plugged in. Like so much maintenance, its’s one of those things that has to be done if you want to keep things as they should be. I’m far more fond of doing things that make things better.

I managed to get two stones set with the two bags of concrete I had on hand. I will be much more conservative in the future when it comes to deciding which stones need to be reset, and which can gather the proverbial moss for a few years more.

This will be an ongoing project. I’ll share some before and after photos and advice as the project mores forward. For now, ow.

Did I mention that rocks are heavy?

Cabin Fever

I was bored out of my mind today. We’re talking pacing the house, climbing the walls, ready to pull my hair out bored. BORED.

It was cold and a little rainy and I would have happily fired up the leaf blower just for something to do outside but alas, the weather had no intention of serving my whims.

I dabbled with a few unfinished projects, then decided to make a thank-you card. I get the same feeling when I try to start a card as I do when I have writer’s block – I have no idea where to start, I don’t know what I want to create, literally everyone who has ever done this is so much better than I am that I shouldn’t even bother.

As with writer’s block, sometimes to best way over it is through. So, I flipped through my favorite paper stack (I’m a long time paper junkie and hoarder) until something sparked a little inspiration. I ended up with this.

Cabin fever and creative block: Both (temporarily) banished!

It’s not perfect – the composition leaves something to be desired and the workmanship isn’t the best – but it looks like something I would make, and for an hour or so, I wasn’t bored.

The Quilling Experiment

My mom was a “hobby hopper.” One week she’d be diligently creating macrame plant hangers; the next, building a television from a mail-order kit. At one point she took up quilling – the centuries-old art of coiling paper into decorative forms. It was a craft that fascinated me, and I often tried to join in, twirling bits of paper around toothpicks then squishing them into various shapes.

A few weeks ago I bought a quilling kit from Amazon. It sat on the shelf for an unusually short time (less than three months!) before I decided to give it a go. My first coils were far from perfect, but I found it enjoyable and soothing, and the basic shapes came to me easily.

I made these. Go, me!

In no time, my ten year old joined me and promptly had it down to an art. Kids.

I love color, and with quilling I can play with any color I wish. The process of coiling is almost meditative, and pressing the bits into shape is just plain fun. It will be a while before I create anything beyond the basics, but I think the kit won’t just sit in its bin on the shelf.

If nothing else, the ten year old will use it.

Why am I Here?

It’s taken me decades to realize that gardening is my art. In pleasant weather I will happily spend every daylight hour working outside. I’m a collector of plants, and I move them around like furniture, looking for just the right arrangement. I love wildness, bound by structure.

Every fall, I imagine I will spend the winter planning and preparing. I will clean up all the brush piles, sort and organize the mounds of rocks and bricks, make the chicken coop into a little Taj Mahal.

Then I run smack into the reality of Oklahoma’s chilly, damp winters and the ever-shortening days. It’s difficult to be inspired when the sun dips down an hour after the temperature becomes bearable. And so, each winter I find myself desperately searching for some craft or hobby to pass the time until spring.

I tend to dive head-first into any new fascination. My craft room – something I never imagined I’d have – is a testament to hobbies briefly loved then quickly abandoned. My supplies are organized with Pinterest-worthy precision. I could make just about anything, if I could figure out what I want to do.

In the past few months I’ve taught myself sewing, card-making, and quilling. I’ve reupholstered a wing-back chair, and built a clock from the cover of our house’s old cistern. I’ve dabbled in homemade alcohol inks, and stamped tiles to create coasters for a gift exchange. I’ve been surprised by what brings me enjoyment, and what leaves me feeling unsatisfied.

So my goal these days is to figure out what does capture my imagination, and why. I’ve loved making things for the garden – wind chimes, suncatchers, little bits of whimsy in concrete and wood. Fixing things never seems to get old.

Why do I love to sew, but dislike cutting paper? And yet, I think quilling is something I’ll stay with. For a few days, at least.

I’m learning that I’m inspired by color and randomness – something gardening offers in no short supply.

I can grow stuff. That’s one thing I’ve never lost interest in. Here I’ll share what I know, and also what I learn about the various and sundry new things that I try. I hope you’ll come along for the ride.