Thursday, March 29, 2012

Damn Pollen!

Oak Pollen
Oh... I have really done it now.... I spent the last few days outside working on my mulch problem, (more on that below) not noticing that the lovely warm breezes were forcing waves of pollen into my airways. On Tuesday I had a sinus headache so bad that no medication would touch it and I had to go to bed. Yesterday I wore a mask when I was outside (the one I use when sanding metals), but in the evening I noticed that my throat was a little sore and when I woke up this morning, my voice was completely gone. I'm drugged up as much as I can be today and I'm trying to stay indoors with the windows closed. It really puts a damper on these gorgeous Spring days and until we get some rain I can't even go for a walk. This is NOT what they mean when they talk about Spring Fever! I've heard that this allergy season is going to be worse than ever because everything is blooming at once. And, that it will be shorter because everything is blooming at once. This sucks. I never had problems with pollen allergies until I reached my 40s. I'm just hoping we get some rain to wash it away temporarily.

Burned up Columbine

Now for the mulch update: You may have seen that I asked my Facebook friends to tell me if they knew of any remedies to my too-fresh mulch problem. I was inundated with ideas, some of them conflicting, which confused me even more. Most agreed that I needed to push the mulch away from the base of the plants, so that's what I've been doing. Other people said I needed to put down a high nitrogen fertilizer to replace what the mulch was pulling out of the soil. I took pictures of the damaged plants and showed them to an agent at our local Agriculture Extension Service. She said it definitely looked like "burn" from new mulch and said NOT to put down fertilizer because that would stress the plants even more.

Here's where it gets really confusing. A few more days have gone by and my intention is to remove mulch around plants that I see coming up through it. I see that there are several plants that don't seem to be affected at all. They're not burned! The hostas and lilies and coneflowers are looking just fine. And, I called the guy who delivered the mulch and he contacted the place where he got it and everyone swears that this mulch is aged. So, now I don't know what the hell is going on. I'm uncovering things as I see them, but I'm not putting down any fertilizer. Luckily, I don't think this will be a permanent disaster. I may have some things that are weak this season, but they should come back fine next year.

So, thunderstorms are predicted for this afternoon (Yay!) and I have plenty to do indoors today. In the morning I'll start working on my vegetable bed. I have seeds that need to get in the ground!

Saturday, March 24, 2012


Sorry there was no Friday Foto yesterday. I've been trying to get to this post since yesterday morning.  My life has been two steps forward and one back since last Wednesday. This Mercury retrograde period is doing a number on me worse that usual this time. I'm working at the Blowing Rock gallery today for the first time since we opened for the season and arrived this morning to several little problems to be fixed, one of which I could not fix. I'm just frustrated and in a pissy mood.

This is one of the problems I had to fix. Really? Who leaves someone's work looking like it was thrown around? We have 15 members who work in the shop and, depending on who has worked the day before me, I find my display looking disheveled nearly every time I come in. I'm not saying everyone is a slob, but there are a few who I don't think ever look at anything in the gallery besides their own work. It makes me really mad. Usually the first thing I do when I arrive is walk around (while I'm turning on lights) and straighten things up. Fill in the holes on a shelf where pottery was sold, adjust the handwoven jackets on their hangers, make sure paintings and photography are hanging level, etc.

And, there's a light bulb out right over the desk and at the end of my jewelry case. I got the old bulb out of the socket, but can't get the new bulb in. It's one of those fluorescent bulbs that you have to fit the two tabs into a slot and then turn it. Impossible. And, I only found one spare bulb and it was not in the box they come in, so I don't even know if it will work or not.

You'd think I'd be thrilled that my mountain of mulch has been reduced and that my garden beds look so nice, right? Well, I was on Thursday when I got home from working at the other gallery to find it done. Then yesterday I noticed that every plant that touched that mulch was turning white. The only reason I can come up with for this is that the mulch is too fresh and it's burning everything it touches. Now I'm scared that I'll lose ten years of gardening in one fell swoop. I'm wondering if anyone out there knows of an antidote for this. Would sprinkling powdered lime on top help neutralize it? This could be a total disaster and I'm going to call our Agriculture Extension Agent on Monday to see if there's anything that can be done. 

So, aren't you glad you took the time to read this post? I'm sorry but I just needed to vent a little. I can't promise that the next post will be sunny and happy, but I'll try.

P.S. For those of you who were as concerned as I was about Jerry, here's an update: His phone was disconnected because he moved in with his girlfriend and he got a new job. He wasn't able to put the mulch out for me this time, but he got his cousin to do it. Whew. That's one thing that's gone right this week. I found Jerry!

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

And The Winner Is....

Happy Spring, everyone!

The winner of my Spring Bling contest is:

Nancy Thompson!

(And, my sympathies go out to Anne and Mitzi, who tried unsuccessfully to stuff the ballot box. The odds were definitely in their favor.)

Nancy: please email me your snail mail address and I'll send the earrings right out to you. There's a link in the sidebar to the right. Congratulations!

I'm sorry I'm posting this late in the morning, but all of my electronics are acting wonky today. I'll be so glad when Mercury goes direct. Two more weeks....

Friday, March 16, 2012

Friday Foto 3/16

Oh boy!... Oh no...
Freshly mulched garden beds always look so beautiful, don't they? It just gives them a professional, finished look. I asked a neighbor of mine who owns a dump truck to bring me a load of mulch. He's done this for me before, but this time I ended up with twice as much as I usually get. Turns out that the price has gone down, and now I know why. The wood obviously came from trees that had been at least partially burned because it gives off a very strong odor of wood smoke. The mulch is beautiful and will work just fine, but hopefully once it's spread out the smell will dissipate quickly.

Now, if I can only get in touch with the guy who usually does my yard work for me to get him to spread it out on the gardens before too much stuff pops out of the ground. I've been trying to reach him for about three days and I'm really afraid he may not me around any more. His phone is disconnected and he no longer works at the place where he had a winter job. The possibilities are endless where he might be. My guess is moved away, or in jail, and I really hope he's not dead. I've left word several places to have him call me.

Jerry is a good hearted, hard working country boy, but he has a drinking problem. He's been cutting my grass and doing all sorts of miscellaneous yard work for about 5 years and doing a very fine job at a very reasonable price and he comes to do the work within a couple of days of calling him. He never shows up here drunk, but word about town is that he likes his beer. A lot. And you can tell by his skin that this is true.

So I guess this weekend I'll be getting out my wheelbarrow and pitchfork getting a start on it. Jerry could get the whole yard mulched in a day. It may take me many, many weeks to get it done if I have to do it myself. And I really hate the idea of trying to find someone else to cut the grass when the time comes. Most everyone else will charge me twice what Jerry does. So, prayers please, that Jerry the Yard Man is alright. I hope he shows up soon. He's really a good guy.

Footnote: Remember that there are three more days to enter my contest to win the pair of earrings below. Just leave a comment on any of these blog posts and I'll put your name in the hat. And you get one entry for every comment you make on any post. The drawing for Spring Bling will be next Tuesday morning. Good luck!

Monday, March 12, 2012

Messy but Productive

If you remember, in a previous post, I said that I was going to stockpile pieces ready to be fired, so that I can include them each week when I fire student work and save wear an tear on my kiln. This is what I've done in the last couple of weeks. Our first two weeks of class we work with copper, so I guess I'd better put the silver away and make some more copper pieces. A new order of CopprClay arrived on Friday.

Mercury is retrograde, so of course I've been having problems with this 6-year-old laptop. *Knock wood!* It looks like I might be needing to replace it soon, which is a total bummer both financially and getting a new one set up the way I like it. Let's hope that it's only the planets affecting this poor thing, but lately my mantra is "BACK UP, BACK UP, BACK UP!"

It took me awhile, but I think I've got everything packed and ready to take to Main Street Gallery in Blowing Rock (our other co-op gallery) tomorrow. We're going to open for the season on Thursday and things need to be cleaned and arranged after being closed all winter. We have a member meeting that afternoon and a Hands Gallery member meeting that night so it will be a busy day. At least I'll only have to drive to town once.

Don't forget to make a comment on any blog post to win these earrings:

I've decided that the more you comment, the better your chances of winning. So, keep 'em coming! I love hearing from everyone, anyway.

Have a good week!

Saturday, March 10, 2012

A Small Detail About the Give Away

Thank you to those of you who have commented so far! Your name will be put in the hat for the drawing on March 20. Please remember to leave your full name when you comment so that if your name is drawn as the winner I can contact you.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Friday Foto 3/9 and GIVEAWAY!

I haven't done this in awhile and I'm feeling like spreading a little love. I'll be giving away the earrings pictured above in a contest I'm calling Spring Bling! They're made from fine silver (metal clay) and have sterling silver ear wires. Even though we haven't had a bad winter, I'm still ready for warm breezes through open windows, birds chirping, and flowers blooming. All you have to do to enter is leave a comment on any blog post between now and the day of the Vernal Equinox. Tell me what your favorite season of the year is and why. I'll draw a random name on the morning of March 20. Good luck!

Friday, March 2, 2012

Friday Foto 3/2

Has another week gone by already? Time flies when each day is the same as the one before.

I was working at Hands Gallery yesterday and could not stop looking at this beautiful mosaic made by Kirsten Tiedemann. Sorry for the reflections of the light cannisters, but regardless of that, I think you can see why I was mesmerized with it. So bold and colorful!

Have a great week everyone. Thanks for stopping by!