Tag Archives: summer

Gliding into summer…

I love being outside. I am a summer girl. I like decorating the outside too making it a comfortable, beautiful place to be, on the cheap.

I recently posted about several lovely things that have come my way of late, including a free bench style glider. Now, I’m the sort who likes to rearrange items till they’re “right.” This season I started with a red bench in my seasonal screen tent. I had finally needed to knock apart and throw out my preferred bench because it passed the point repairs could keep it going. While the red bench looked cute it really isn’t too comfortable because of the shallowness of the seat. I don’t want to sit rigidly upright like I’m in a church; I want to shift positions and sprawl at whim.

I moved another bench in, a legless one that is intended to be a porch swing (which I sit atop cinder blocks instead) but out it came once the glider arrived. Space-wise it made the most sense to put the glider in the tent, space being not “spacious.” I wanted to share with you my inaugural glider ride and popcorn snack.

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With shredded cheese and Nutritional yeast, yum (seriously)

But of course I must show you the view from inside which is really what it’s all about.

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Panoramic view (sorry, it’s not the clearest)

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Calibrachoa

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Lydia, the One-armed Watering Girl

Let’s make a smallish outdoor dining table!

I was in the mood for a project this week. In the summer I put up a seasonal screen tent because the mosquitoes are god-awful and there’s no other way to be outside. I’ve used small tables in it which are fine but I was thinking it’d be nice to have something larger for a “dining” table, but not TOO large because there just isn’t space. Tables like I had in mind aren’t cheap and sticking to my usual policy of finding castoffs or making stuff, I thought maybe I could make something from the limited scrap wood I had on hand. The lumber I have is almost all wood that other people have tossed out; I very rarely have bought any from an actual store. So I usually try to work with what I have – I like stretching my mind that way and I do think it’s better than going out and buying stuff if I can avoid it.

I don’t trouble myself with looking up instructions or using intimidating “plans” – I wing my projects and learn from doing. As I said, I was going to use what what I had in my scrap wood, which wasn’t much, but I had an idea! I had made the little table but it was never quite as sturdy as I’d have liked and I was no longer using it anyway. Here’s the raw parts.

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First I made the outer frame. While I’ve never made a large table, I’ve looked at them and know that most have a square or rectangular frame on which the top of the table sits.

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Then I knocked apart my old little table to use the legs. Here they are attached. As you may see from the holes, they started life as some sort of IKEA furniture, which somebody later threw out. I just faced the sides with holes toward the inside.

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Since I only had little boards I came up with the idea of addng a middle support so I could use 6 small boards for the top. Here are the boards in place.

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Paint was going to be of the essence. I have a small collection of paints, most of which were free, either found by the road (this community tosses out A LOT of stuff) or given away by someone. This one color was so loud I wasn’t sure what I’d ever use it for but this seemed perfect. Here is one coat. I thought this color would look great contrasted with white on the legs.

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The next morning I applied another coat and clear spray gloss to the top only to help preserve the paint. Not that I think this table will last forever but just to help sustain it

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Here it is in its new home.

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I had used the legs “as is” because I was disinclined to have to handsaw those thick pieces but I could see the table was too tall. I’d left open the possibility of making it shorter (in terms of where I’d nailed on the low support pieces on either end) so I sawed off about 2.5″. Much better! (I decided to only take off a little at first lest I accidentally end up with a coffee table!)

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Oh, I should mention the bench in the photo is an old “reclaimed” bench I fixed up and the chairs were also – what else but – roadside freebies.  They aren’t exactly what I’d like (I had nicer chairs that wore out) but they are okay for now. Eventually I want something comfier again.

A day or so later I was having my “inaugural” snack at the table when it occurred to me you might like to see that. So here is a glass of homemade tomato juice and a bowl of salted peanuts in the shell. It happened to be a very hot day and it was delightful! I was so tickled with the table.

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I tend to accomplish things in spurts and when I get ideas they build on each other plus I have Serious Spring Fever. I had two little outdoor wood tables found by the road last year (I took the best two of several that were tossed). I had painted one this light green but decided to perk it up. Here is the change between the colors.

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The other little wood table is kinda shabbier and the wood is not as nice and I decided to just paint its top the same red/orange as my new “dining table”.

IMG_20170517_072458_kindlephoto-7948172I don’t know if it’s worth the trouble to paint the legs since as I say the wood is disintegrating. But what a difference even a little paint made!

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I also added fresh paint to the top of this little metal table because it was looking a bit down in the mouth. This “moss green” spray paint was another freebie someone tossed out. What a pretty shade.

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Mystery vine delighted me this summer

I’m an outdoors girl. I delight in being outside and hate being cooped up indoors for long periods. I love to have beautiful plants and flowers around me. I look at them the way I would a painting or a decoration. It’s satisfying in that same way. Maybe the more so because the objects of my gaze ate temporary, seasonal. The garden is a canvas, a piece of art. Pretty things, in this case living things, just make me happy.

A mystery vine turned up mid-summer and I’ve been thoroughly enjoying it. It just came up in the mediocre herb bed which happens to be located next to my seasonal screen tent this year so it had somewhere to climb. The leaves look like morning glory which I’ve seen with big purple flowers. These tiny white ones are not familiar but I looked into it and there’s many, many varieties of morning glory so maybe that’s it.

A vine like this could be a big nuisance and problem if there were LOTS of them – I’ve seen places overtaken by vines – but just this one showed so I let it be. It’s kinda funny because I wanted a flowering vine this year but I never bought one.

 

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Aug 31

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Bumblebees like it

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Sep 14 clearly a happy vine


 

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Not pictured but the little blooms close at night, so sweet

Short Thought 156 (air conditioning)

Did you know this? People who spend their time in air conditioning consume more calories than those who tough it out with the heat. I read this years ago and filed it away in my mind. It makes sense. There’s a natural inclination to eat less when it’s hot (and eat bigger, heavier meals when it’s cooler and you feel nice-and-comfortable).

I’m seeing red (in the garden that is)

From one year to the next you never know what will be the star of the garden. There are so many variables that affect plants. Just because a plant did great last year doesn’t mean it will be great this year. At any rate, in early summer I went to a local first-time event billed as a plant sale and swap, promising lots of annuals, herbs, and vegetable plants. Sadly, it didn’t live up to its billing but someone had dropped off several very nice annual flowers for the swap just before I arrived (I brought a few plants for the swap too). I took a couple, including one I’d never heard of, a Dipladenia.

The tag said it’s a sun lover, drought-tolerant, upright mounding, with nonstop blooms that’s attractive to butterflies and hummingbirds. I put it in a hanging pot with good soil and it has indeed bloomed nonstop. I added a purple petunia a little later – I thought the colors worked together. (And that’s the only petunia I planted that either lived or doesn’t look like hell now.) The butterflies do like it but the hummingbirds aren’t that interested and devote most of their time to fighting with each other over the hummingbird feeder anyway. It’s so gorgeous and exotic-looking, it constantly draws my attention.

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Another post about (summer) introspection

It is difficult to convey to you how thick my pleasure with this summer has been. I wrote about it in an earlier post. Nothing special is happening. It’s in me. I will not complain about anything crummy that summer brings. Well, except I DID get stung by a wasp in June. And I’ve fought slugs all summer long so that I could have pretty flowers and Basil. And I must wear slimy layers of sunscreen and mosquito repellant whenever I set foot outside. And the yellow jackets are getting into their “pissy” season when they’re more likely to sting you for no good damn reason. And some days it’s so hot & steamy I feel listless and like a big slug myself. But I jest. Sort of. I mean these are minor complaints.

I think what I am feeling is a tentative RELIEF. A relief that has allowed me to be more accessible to summer itself.

Somewhat rambling and possibly not as-relevant-as-it-could-be aside I’ve decided to leave in> It’s like when you are sick in bed (or I imagine laid up in the hospital although I’ve fortunately never been) and you tell yourself if only you were well, you’d never complain about anything ever again, and you’d do all these fun things, and read those great novels you’ve almost meant to get to, and tackle the projects you’ve postponed, and get a better job, and improve your social life, and start or finish that hobby you’ve always thought would enrich your life, and SO ON AND SO ON. Almost certainly, when you do recover, you do none of these things or just a few. Or one. Or you do one or two for a little while and stop.

It’s not, however, like I made myself a bunch of promises I didn’t follow through on. I made myself no promises. Still,  feeling relief is a big thing.

I maintain that when you feel bad – for whatever reason – it’s often not possible to see just how bad until you start to feel better. It’s in the better or improved stage where you see how far you sunk. I don’t know about you, but when I am low, it becomes my “normal.” It becomes who I am. Anything else is theory. Supposing you are drunk. That’s all you are. You can imagine being sober in only a theoretical way, but you can’t think sober and you can’t be sober. You could read about being sober but that wouldn’t make you sober. You are drunk and that is all you know. A sober person could describe to you how you might be or act if you too were sober – or your “normal” self – but it’s meaningless. That’s how I think being low is. Only when you emerge from it, is it possible to see where you were.

I’m not trying to say I’ve been in a horrible malaise or dark depression. No. But in the last year I’ve had a problem in my life that has cast a pall which has permeated far too much of my being. And the summer before I had a different problem on my plate. I need to feel safe and secure. And I didn’t. Recently though, it’s been a little better. I will take that. I will take that and I will run like a crazy woman with it.

People like to talk now about first-world problems. That our troubles are nothing and we’re just big babies who don’t know what real trouble is. I wish I could find the right words to say this is a false comparison. It doesn’t help to compare my life to that of people in Syria. Or the Ukraine. Or anywhere else. I’ve tried. I look at the horrible footage or photos of every bad thing that goes on in this world year in and year out, like I’m sure you do, and yes I feel real empathy and sorrow. And for a moment I can on that attitude that my troubles are nothing; how would I like to have to flee from the only home I’ve ever known with nothing but what I can carry and an uncertain future ahead as bombs dropped on my town? Or how would I feel if I had to scrounge for a little food and didn’t know how I’d feed my children? But I can’t stay in that state of mind. My life is the one I’m living in my own head. It’s where I am.

Let me try again. It’s USELESS to make these comparisons. It doesn’t solve their problems and it doesn’t make your own go away. Sure, if it can make you feel a little more gratitude or be a more giving person, that’s great. I’m all for that.

Look. If everything was so hunky-dory in a first-world country, people wouldn’t be drowning themselves in alcohol, and stuffing every kind of drug they could into their systems, and shooting each other, and robbing each other, and killing themselves, and eating enough for 3 people, and shopping obsessively, and gambling their last nickel, and spending 12 hours a day on the internet, and screwing up children emotionally and physically, and ON AND ON AND ON. Okay. There. I think I’ve found my point. It’s different. The problems are different. It can’t be compared.

No. I don’t have to worry about where my next meal is coming from. Nor do I have to worry (too much) about a bomb being dropped on my neighborhood. Or a vicious dictator taking over my country (too much). But that doesn’t mean I don’t have worries or things that impact my quality of life, its purpose, its meaning, its satisfaction. I can’t minimize them. Nor do I feel I should.

I’m going to go back again to the man I know who shot himself dead in March in the middle of my town in the middle of the night. I knew him. He was an extroverted whirlwind of a man. He was a pain in the ass. He was bigger than life. He had a nice first world life. He had enough – more than enough – to eat. He had friends. He had hobbies. He had a car. He had a house (although he was in danger of losing it). He had bicycles. And computers. He was dug in. He wasn’t just coasting along. He came and he lived. Maybe a little too much in some respects, granted, as he was given to excess and indulgence. He had all the riches a first world life can offer. Or so it seemed. It didn’t matter. The life he lived in his own head was not good enough. And he’s – sadly – not unusual.

These are the things I’ve thought about this summer. They are the background music to my sheer joy at meeting a rabbit, or trying to befriend skinks, or feeling the warm air on my bare skin, or staring at the richness of the colors in the flowers, or eating a salad of fresh tomato, basil, and mozzarella, or taking a long, leisurely walk gawking at everything along the way.

When I was younger, there was a beautiful TV commercial with a tag line “I am made of blue sky and golden light I will this way forever.” I loved that line and it resonated strongly with me. However, let me be the first to tell you it sounds overly simple and naïve to me now and I most certainly did NOT “feel that way forever.” But sometimes, sometimes, I very much do.

Befriending skinks

I am trying to make friends with skinks. I realized the other day that’s what I’m doing. Skinks, if you’re not familiar with them, are small (about 3″) lizards with shocking blue tails. They are summer lovers, who sunbathe on sidewalks and other hot spots but shy from people and animals, darting beneath rocks, shrubbery, or whatever is at hand if anything approaches. Skittish little guys.

I’m not going to tell you lots of scientific info on the Lifestyle of the Skink because I haven’t looked into it. I *think* they can lose a tail and grow one back. Two years ago one had the misfortune to become caught in a spider web inside my summer screen tent (I had let the spider keep his residence as he wasn’t bothering me and helped keep the flying insect population in check). When I found the poor skink hanging upside down trapped, I was appalled. Surely a little spider didn’t need a whole *skink* for dinner. Could it even take down a skink? I freed it but was surprised to see the skink lost a bit of tail in the bargain. It ran away in a dash.

When I was a child I tried to befriend ants. Yes, that’s the kind of kid I was. We didn’t have pets – not allowed – but as is true of lots of children, I was very interested in animals. Ants weren’t intimidating. However, they were poor candidates for friends.

I’ve tried to be friendly with frogs in the yard. If frogs were hopping all over, making a nuisance of themselves, or doing damage, I’m sure they’d lose their novelty appeal. But I see a frog rarely. Still, frogs don’t seem interested in me one way or the other. Earlier this summer, one sat in the screen tent with me (he was there first) and tongue-zapped passing ants. That was fascinating to watch – I’d probably only seen it on TV before. I encouraged his dining and tried to point out prey to him as my feelings about ants have changed dramatically since childhood. I now suspect there are millions and millions of them residing in the ground beneath my feet, far too many of which apparently would rather be inside with me and my food.

There’s a stretch of sidewalk where I occasionally see skinks. Now that I know they’re there, I pay attention in hopes of seeing one. When I do, I greet it with a hearty “Ooohhhh Lizard!” (Don’t’ ask me why it isn’t “Oooohhh Skink!” I fell into “lizard” and it’s stuck.) Then I might glance around to see if anyone heard me since I am not trying for a reputation as a crackpot. My thinking is that the skinks, or a skink, might become used to me and realize I mean no harm. All I want is to look at them. I don’t want to pet them, pick them up, or take them home. Ok, it could be fun to pet one.

If I stop still in my tracks on seeing one, it might not entirely run away. Recently one ran and tucked itself sideways on the edge of the sidewalk in a crack. I could plainly see it. It was as if it wasn’t too concerned but had to make an effort to appear to be hiding. Just this last week, I felt I made better inroads when a skink ran off the sidewalk but then left his front left paw? foot? appendage? propped up on the edge of the concrete and with his head up above the edge too, appeared to regard me with one eye. We stayed that way for awhile looking at each other till I moved along, saying “I’m leaving now.”