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a winding down

a winding down

holy cow, i have been a canning machine! and let me tell you – buying an electric food mill was THE BEST purchase of the last few years. i just canned 14 pints of apple butter yesterday, and if not for that sucker, i’d still be grinding the apples through my manual mill.

i’ve made four batches of pickles so far – maybe 30 pints or so. i may have one more batch out in the garden yet, but it’s been cold this week so i’m not sure if the growth is over or not.

i did a little bit of tomato sauce, but that is such a low result for a lot of work. i don’t necessarily like making sauce because of that.

and my apple tree is INSANE this year. i picked a bushel basket of apples the other day, and i’d bet there are at least 2-3 more. i made some apple crisp, ate some, and made the 14 pints of butter, and i only went through about 2/3 of the basket.

so, if you’ve got any ideas for how to use apples, let me know! i don’t know if i need to make any more apple butter. i don’t eat a ton to begin with, and canning lids are hard to come buy these days.

in somewhat related gardening news, i have 4 peony plants out in my garage, along with 30-ish tulip bulbs. i’m hoping this weekend to remove some of the landscaping rock around my front door and replace it with some spring flowers, maybe a couple other shrubby things, and mulch. the rocks have got to go. (i think i’m going to throw them in my pond.)

on an unrelated note, i’m annoyed that it’s dark by 8 p.m. what is this. seriously. stupid axial tilt.

tattoos in the time of covid

tattoos in the time of covid

in april i was browsing instagram because what else are you going to do all day while you’re sitting at home, and i stopped at a painting done by one of the tattoo artists i follow. i had started following her in january after the tattoo convention in minneapolis, where i saw some of her work at a booth. generally at the tattoo con, the tattoos are of the motorcycle or dark kind, but once in a while you stumble across an artist who specializes in rainbows and kittens.

love helen ink was one such artist! well, more like flowers and small animals. but, it was enough that i started following her, and her post in april was something that struck me as “wow i have to have that.” it was a painting for sale, but i asked her if she’d be up for tattooing it. so i had made an appointment in may, but she wasn’t open yet, and today – today, finally! – was my second appointment.

i drove to the cities this morning to be there at 9:30, and we promptly got started. after years of saying, “hmmmm, that’s too big” to my tattoo artists, i said YES GO BIG OR GO HOME and that’s what we did.

but first, let’s take a look at her space. she’s located in north(west?) minneapolis right next to young joni’s and dangerous man brewing. she has one room in an upstairs space of a building old enough to have woodwork that i’m jealous of. everything in her space made me happy. we both wore masks and washed our hands, etc.; she pasted the stencil on my arm; and then she got out her pots of ink and got started.

you know me – i have quite a few tattoos by this point. one on each foot, one on my thigh, one on my shoulder. this should not surprise me how painful it is, but it’s either a surprise every time that i forget, or my upper arm is very sensitive. (or i’m turning into a pansy in my old age.)

after she was done with the outline, we took a break and she sprayed lidocaine on my arm – a first for me! i have to say, while it worked, it was GREAT. the sad thing is that it only lasted about 30-45 minutes, and she could only spray it on twice (otherwise the ink does not like to lie nicely).

the outline took a little under two hours, and the color took a little more than two hours to finish up. so about half the color time, my arm was relatively numb with bursts of burny here and there, but overall pretty amazingly numb. i’d recommend lidocaine, even if it is pretty limited. it would work great for colorwork on small tattoos.

generally i can try to zen out and force my brain to tolerate the pain of a tattoo gun, but toward the end it just gets to be too much. i think because i know we’re so close to the end and it’s almost done that my body’s adrenaline has just checked out and wants to be done. which is unfortunate, because the end always seems to drag on f-o-r-e-v-e-rrrrr. but i survived ๐Ÿ™‚

she pasted the dermawrap on the tattoo and gave me instructions, but skimmed over them because, as helen said, “this isn’t your first rodeo.” (haha) i think it’s interesting how each artist has different recommendations for aftercare lube. when i first started, it was A&D ointment, then i was told aquaphor, and helen actually recommended coconut oil! i might try out the coconut oil, but i did just buy a giant tube of aquaphor just in case. she also had different instructions for the dermawrap than my previous artist. when i left, her next client was waiting (who was also getting mushrooms), and it looked like she was a newbie to tattooing. i wished her good luck and headed out.

the drive home was EXCRUCIATING. i can’t remember being in so much pain post-tatt before. i was almost back to st. cloud before the pain finally decided to subside a bit. when i got home, i took two tylenol (not a blood thinner!) and now i’m doing much better. i’ve got yoga tomorrow morning at a winery, so we’ll see how that goes ๐Ÿ™‚ planning on a long run on sunday, but it should be cloudy and cool so i’m not too worried about burning pain on that day.

the only color combo i’m not thrilled about is that gold on purple because i’m hardly a vikings fan! we’ll see how it fades out once the colors subdue a little bit.

**********

of course i promptly went outside to my garden in the beating-down sun when i got home because guess what? it’s PICKLE TIME! currently sanitizing jars for the first batch of 2020 pickles. they’d better be amazeballs.

thus wraps up july 2020, and at least i can say i got one awesome thing out of 2020!

enter august, the most melancholy month.

in a pickle

in a pickle

this year was not a great year for my garden. tomatoes were so so, the peppers never really did anything, my dill was non-existent, and my cucumbers, which i was relying on, didn’t put out as much as i’d hoped.

i assumed i’d have to buy dill to make my pickles, and i knew i’d be buying some farmers market garlic, but the cukes? the cukes? come on!

i got some cucumbers. it’s not like i wasn’t able to make no pickles this year, but compared to last year, it was not a good year. by this time last year, i’d had 4 batches of canned pickles (maybe 8-10 jars each) and 3 quarts of refrigerator pickles. this year, even though i planted more plants, i ended up buying cucumbers from the farmers market as well.

i don’t know if it was the weird late spring, the weirdish weather, or the fact that i quit weeding (well, the quitting weeding happens every year). they just don’t want to do anything. now, i did plant them 2 weeks later than normal, but by this time, i should be finished for a couple weeks.

so, i do have some pickles this year, but not as many as i’d hoped.

the good news is i’ll have at least two squashes (had NONE last year), and my pumpkins are going crazy. so far my potatoes have been pretty good as well.

and maybe my cucumbers are still trying to do something. we’ll see what happens as long as a frost holds off.

ugh, frost. barf.

bolt

bolt

whenever i come back from my derry side reunion, i feel like summer’s about over. i start to notice the sun a little more southerly in the sky and setting a bit sooner. the leaves on the trees are stiffer and make a little more noise when the wind blows through them. sad face.

but, my garden is exploding! after the slow start this spring, i was worried that nothing would happen (in some cases, yes, nothing is happening).

i tried to plant my cukes a week later than everything else in hopes that dill would be ready at the same time, but my dill is not doing anything. yesterday i stopped at the farmers’ market and got 25 heads of dill and 12 heads of garlic for my pickles (that garlic will be FANTASTIC in the pickles). so now i wait for the cukes since they’re a little behind.

the tomatoes are on and green, but they’ll get there. my pumpkins and squash are going crazy due to all the rain we had early on. and potatoes are just about ready. and the best part: i have green beans this year because i was crazy diligent with my critter spray. stupid bunnies always eat the green bean leaves down to the nubs.

my cilantro has bolted. i planted radishes twice, so that’s bolted. i had volunteer lettuce that bolted. i wish the bunnies would bolt.

so far, the best thing that’s come out of my garden has been the asparagus. i had never eaten asparagus directly from the garden to my mouth within 10 minutes. it’s amazing and i can hardly wait til next spring. i’m also impressed with my raspberries, which are coming in as i type. maybe in the next couple years i’ll have enough to make some jam for myself.

and this spring i almost cut down my one apple tree because it’s just having a tough time. last year it didn’t produce ANY apples. i pruned it and ended up cutting down one-third of the main trunks. and now there are some apples on it! we’ll see if they come to full fruition (ha!) or if they stop ripening or if the deer eat them (i also wish they would bolt).

and of course the weeds are doing great.

melancholy august

melancholy august

august was cool this year. and wet. 
tomatoes-879441_1920
my garden is 15 steps off my back patio, and i’ve been neglecting it this year. tomato plants sprawl across the dirt and weeds; green beans that are much to large to eat hang from the spindly plants still, rather than being picked weeks ago to go in the freezer. 
the four hills of gourds – two pie pumpkin and two squash – have taken over the space, their creeping vines crawling up the broccoli plants and hiding in the cucumbers. it’s been so wet that the vines are still producing blossoms and new gourds at the same time its leaves are dying, revealing the orange and yellow foodstuffs. 
at the beginning of august, a barely perceptible change in the light caused me to panic – summer was coming to a close. the leaves were still green, the grass still growing (and me still mowing), and the sun still shining, but we there was a change in the season. more canada geese started flying overhead, their calls heading southward. instead of lazily sifting through pliant, green leaves, the wind started rattling through stiffer, more brittle leaves. i have heard no loons lately. 
august moved much too quickly, and already we’re into early september. this morning i took my small cup of coffee in my favorite summertime mug out onto my patio with a book. the sun, which would have lit up my entire patio two months ago, was still working to light up a quarter of the patio.
when i opened my patio door, a small flock of birds flitted out of the tomatoes in my garden, rising to the sky. a monarch fluttered around the browning squash leaves. i took the few steps out to pick the ripe tomatoes, peppers, and some dill. i checked the cucumbers, which are still putting out blossoms while the leaves are browning, getting ready to be done for the season. i will have pickles for years.
and while the leaves are still green, the grass still green and growing, cucumbers still mass producing, the light doesn’t lie. the earth is slowly tilting its north end away from the sun, seasons changing, time progressing. autumn is coming: the colors, the leaves, the smells, the harvests. 
i love fall, but i don’t like the season that follows it, and i don’t like the change in daylight. winter seems twice as long as all other seasons, but springtime will come again; it always does. 

what's goin on!

what's goin on!

thunderstorms woke me up this morning, so i was awake about an hour earlier than i wanted to be. so now i’m sitting on my couch in my log cabin living room watching a weather front come in and listening to the wind in the trees.
have i mentioned how much i like my new house?
anyway, some life updates for everyone.
running
i’ve been getting really fatigued lately while i’m running, and i’ve gone from “this is tolerable” to “this is miserable.” i did some research online, and it seems like i might have low iron, which apparently is a common thing for women who run. so i have started taking some iron supplements, and i actually might go in to the doctor to get my iron levels tested. in the meantime, we’ll see if the three days of supplements i’ve been taking affect my run tonight.
oh, and i guess i’m running a ragnar race. :/
work
summertime is always a little less hectic at work, which is nice. it’s a time when i can focus on things that’ve been sitting on my desk for months and work on bigger projects. i’m also working 4 10-hour days, so i’ve got a 3-day weekend every weekend. unfortunately, i always feel rushed in the evenings – i get home at 6:30, try to eat supper right aways so i have some time to digest before i go on a 45-min run and get in before sunset (i run on a 55-mph highway, so that’s almost imperative). i don’t want to eat supper late in the day, so that’s what hanging me up there. not sure what the answer is. 
one thing that’s happening that’s kind of cool is i’m helping present on an eorientation project we did at a national conference in washington dc. so this wednesday, i’m flying out to DC for four days. we’ll go to some of the conference, but we’ll also make sure we see some of the big stuff – monuments, smithsonian stuff, museums, etc. i’ve never been out there, so this will be exciting!
(actually, i’ve never been east of indiana [thanks liz], so this will be a real departure from my regular vacay destinations [westward ho!])
garden!
garden is blowing up! i love that it’s RIGHT THERE and it’s LARGE and i have tons of stuff in it. probably too much. we’ll see how the squash does. i planted four potato plants just because i like the occasional potato from the garden, but i don’t really keep them over winter. 
let’s see, what else: broccoli, kohlrabi, spinach, lettuce, carrots, radishes, tomatoes, cukes, peppers, onions. butternut squash and pie pumpkins. that’s a lot. oh! and green beans. we’ll see how it all does. i’ve already got to get in there with my tiller to get rid of weeds.
i also got rid of my two “cemetery” trees that were next to the house. last fall, an ice storm pretty much ripped them in half and they were dead. i was like “ugh, where am i gonna find a chainsaw,” when i was out for a run and heard/saw (haha) my neighbors two doors down chainsawing in their backyard. i came back and they had moved to the front. i introduced myself and asked about some chainsaw services. they happily agreed! he even pulled out the stumps with his truck, which helped a TON. 
took them to the city compost and now i’ve planted two lilacs in their places. MUCH better.
(i also got two raspberry bushes while i was at the nursery and planted those on the end of the garden. excited for that!)
that’s all i’ve got. i might try to blog about DC, but we’ll see how tired i am at the end of the days. the weather front is closer, but it’s still rumbling thunder, so i’m not sure how long this will take. we need the rain, though! 

omgarden

omgarden

1. last weekend i found a tiller on craigslist, so i bought that baby. $100 for a $300 tiller. not too shabby.
2. we’re ready to get the garden bed torn up! (or “tore” up as the local yokels say). friday, a guy i work with is coming over with his tractor and getting a 36’x18′ piece of yard tilled up so the grass will die. then he’ll come back and roll it all out. 
2.5. speaking of tilling, i dug up a little piece of dirt to see what we’re working with, and omgarden, it’s beautiful. no clay, a little sandy, grass roots not too deep. throw some compost in that bad boy, and that’ll just be fantastic.
3. meanwhile, i’m going through some brush around the house, and there are these vines all over the place. it’s very weird. they crawl up the trees and i’m assuming try to choke out the trees. so i’m going to have to do some research on that and figure out how to get them to stop propagating. 
4. meanwhile, peppers, brussels sprouts, and tomatoes are starting to grow. i’ve got to get them out in the coldish garage to start hardening up. 
so, i guess i’ll leave you with an april haiku:
greenery almost
longer sun, warmer days, but
april has an R

it's starting…

it's starting…

i’ve got sweet peppers popping up, some brussels sprouts, and i just put tomato seeds in my dirt the other day! i’m hoping to get a guy in here to dig up a piece of ground for me, otherwise i’ll be renting a sodcutter and ruining my shoulders for a couple day this spring. 
march is such a blah month for me. not as blah as february, but it’s such a swing month. last week it was -10 overnight, and then 60 on saturday. come on! and usually it’s muddy and slushy and gross, but we didn’t have a ton of snow this winter, so i feel like that bullet was dodged (though it will probably have an effect on my gardening this summer unless april showers get all up in this business). 
i’m really looking forward to my garden this summer. it’s gonna be huge, in the sun, sans black walnut trees, and right out my back door. AND with my fancy pants new shed, i’ll have plenty of space to put my gardening junk. 
OH. and here’s the best thing i found out a couple weeks ago when i perused the property: i think have RASPBERRIES. ๐Ÿ˜ฎ 
it’s the little things.

like the deserts miss the rain*

like the deserts miss the rain*

File_002i have a deck. vegetables are in. sunflowers to come (charlie…). next weekend, i’m hoping to relax. 
tonight i came back up to central via mankato, which means i dipped into west central mn before getting into true central mn. i headed up the minnesota river valley for bit and then hit lake country. i visited two biomes on my way up here. and vastly different parts of mn. 
for the record, there is something weirdly different about west central mn versus southeastern mn. i’m not sure what it is – perhaps the farms are farther apart and seem a little more industrial; maybe it makes no assumptions about what it could be, what it really isn’t (southeastern mn does that a little bit): it knows it’s farmland and it will always be prairie. it’s a little more desolate. a little more hick. a little less “our poo don’t stink.”
i need some blogging ideas. what do you all want to read about?
MNbiomes*the title needs a little explanation. remember that 90s song – “and i miss you; like the deserts miss the rain…and i miss you…. like the deserts miss the rain.” etc etc. it’s a song called “missing” by the band  everything but the girl. i actually didn’t know the name of the song until i just now looked it up, because my HS friends and i called the “the biome song.” weird? yes. we had just learned about biomes when the song came out, and my friend chandra said that since it mentioned deserts, it would be the biome song. 
and minnesota has four biomes in it – tallgrass aspen parkland, prairie, deciduous forest, and coniferous forest. i drove through two, as i mentioned above. this explanation took up more space than the blog post itself did. wow. 

and we're off

and we're off

i’ve got four sweet pepper and two ancho (hottish) peppers up and peeking through. i was hoping for some of my green pepper seeds i saved from two years ago to do something, but so far nothing. oh well.  here’s hoping they’ll be getting bigger in the next week. i’ve got to get my tomatoes started! 
i’ve got a new plan this year for my seeds i’m starting. put them in the cold. apparently i’ve been coddling my veggies and they need some tough love, otherwise they die. so it might be a matter of putting them in the garage unless it’s 32ยบ out or less. right now they’re hanging out in the basement, so i’ve got to figure out a space for them in the garage.
ok, enough with a gardenblog update!
 

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