Wednesday, July 19

Pride and Pests

I'm so proud of our garden.

The tomatillos are really tall, with puffy little balloons that are filling out. There are cute little tomatoes and even the melon plant is starting to branch out.

After all the garlic was pulled, I transplanted a zucchini plant (which I hope will survive the move) and planted a whole bunch of new seeds (fava beans, tomatoes, zucchini, fennel, cavolo nero).

The sunflower is incredible. See for yourself!

It's 10 feet tall!

All this garden happiness is, sadly, becoming clouded. By a HUGE swarm of thousands of japanese beetles.

Eating, fornicating, and defecating. It's seriously creepy.

Right now, they're devouring the bee ivy, but they've started moving on to the rose and grape. I really want to kill them, just to minimize the ooky factor. D. wants to kill them because he's sick of me saying "Why won't the birds eat the bugs?" But above all I want to protect my precious vegetables, herbs, and butterfly bush.

What can I do?

93 Heads


Let me ride on the wall of garlic one more time
Let me ride on the wall of garlic one more time
You can waste your time on the other rides
But this is the nearest to being alive
Let me take my chances on the wall of garlic

(with apologies to Richard Thompson -- and Nanci Griffith and REM, for that matter)


Tuesday, July 18

Two Car Garage

Tis the season for anniversaries of a variety of kinds, both personal and house related. And I didn't even have a chance to post about the first anniversary of us actually moving to Smallville, which coincidentally coincided with the [mumblemumble]th anniversary of K's birth last week.

But this past weekend also marked the one year anniversary of when we became car owners after three long years, as we bought our Toyota Sienna -- also known affectionately as "the Lexus of minivans" or simply "The Pod". And it has served us very well over the last year, but now that K. has to C-O-M-M-U-T-E to her J-O-B, we decided that we needed a second car, and so a year to the day from when we bought the minivan, we spent a long day car shopping before finally purchasing a 2000 Honda Civic EX Coupe:

It may not be a hybrid but it gets significantly better gas mileage than the pod -- or so all the reviews say -- and the price was definitely right for us. And now I can run errands or go to the doctor while K. is at work (or, in the case of this sweltering heat, wimp out and drive to my office, but don't tell Al Gore) and even though this is not something I do often, it will be very convenient. Now we just need to get her an MP3 player so she can listen to something on the part of her commute that is in an NPR Dead Zone and we'll be all set.

Yes, in just about a year we have gone from urban hipsters (or some very rough approximation thereof) who believed in public transportation above all else to small-towners who have two cars in their garage. Sigh.

Tuesday, July 11

Inch By Inch

There are some house projects that you do because you are excited about them and there are some you do because you know you will appreciate it later and then there are others you do because some aspect of your life is driving you bonkers and you need to figure out a way to deal with it. The organization of the kitchen falls into the latter category here at Casa De Revivalized, and while we have spent the last year looking off and on to no avail for the perfect cabinet or shelving unit to put in the kitchen to help us out. But out cabinets were overflowing and we needed some system, so we recently hit the Target and got a number of baskets and sliding drawers to install that will hopefully make things a lot nicer (and also gave K. an excuse to break out the label-maker, which is always a good day)



Another aspect of the house that we haven't been so good about has been curtains. We have bought a few sets for a couple rooms, but for the most part we have just been making do either with the ugly curtains that came with the house or with some of the many options that K. had in her many boxes of textiles (he says, grudgingly admitting that there is some upside to having a wife who collects and hordes textiles of any kind).

Last fall, when I was redoing my library/office I knew that we needed curtains for the bay windows. And while the white wispy curtains that had been in the room weren't ugly they weren't really what I was looking for in my office. We had seen some beige curtains that I liked over the winter at Bed Bath and BeaArthur, but had put off buying them for a variety of reasons (mostly financial).

So imagine my delight and surprise when K. bought them for me and installed them as a present to celebrate her first day of work!



I think they add a nice color, and the thickness will be much appreciated when it gets cooler come winter even if they feel pretty heavy for this time of year. Also, they are a wonderful microsuede that is so soft and fuzzy that I can't help but getting up from my desk every few minutes to go rub them.

Oh, and yes you did read that right. K. now has a real J-O-B. I'll leave it to her to tell y'all more of the details (or not), but the important detail is that she decided to buy me a present for her first day of work. I'm still not sure I understand that logic, but I'm not gonna complain.

Sunday, July 9

Of Grass and Gas

In my first year as a homeowner, I have discovered one of the ironies of academic life which I never noticed when I was an apartment-dweller. All through the academic year I thought to myself about how much more time I would have over the summer to do work on the house and spend time doing the projects that I was postponing. And then summer arrives, and first I am totally burned out and by the time that goes away I am so far behind on my to do list that I don't know where to start with research let alone house projects. But that's not the irony. The irony is that any extra time I do have to spend on the house is immediately sucked up by the extra work that taking care of a yard requires over the summer.

Now, we have a yard the size of a postage stamp. And a significant portion of that postage stamp is taken up by our various garden beds. But there is still lawn that needs to be mowed and weeds that grow all over the place.

When we moved here from Metropolis, we of course needed to buy a lawnmower. And despite the great sales pitch that one of our friends has given us to buy a robot lawnmower like the one that he has (which does everything except bring you drinks or let you check your email, and they are working on those features for the 2007 edition), we went to the opposite end of the technological spectrum and bought a push mower:

That's right: no electric power, no gas power, no riding seat. Just me and my own two legs (or K, but somehow the task of mowing the lawn almost always falls to me). We went this route not because it was cheaper (although it was) or because it was more environmental (we had yet to see an inconvenient truth at that point) but because last summer when we had borrowed a gas mower it was more work to get its bulk to and from the garage than it was to actually mow the lawn. And this mower is much lighter and easier to carry.

In addition to grass that grows really fast, we of course have a ridiculous number of weeds. And after the angry letter we got last summer from the borough we aren't taking any chances. Which means we let our weeds grow until they start to seem like we might get another angry letter (which coincidentally is also the same time when they start being hard to pull out and need to be trimmed or whacked with more serious machinery) and then we chop them down. And this is how I spent my morning today, which means that I am very sweaty and our compost pile now has an extra three foot pile of weeds on top of it.


Friday, July 7

Catch Up and Catsup

The astute Revivalized reader may have noticed something interesting about that last post that we hadn't had time to tell you about yet. In particular, you may notice from the background of the photos that the 'four seasons room' -- that behemoth of a vinyl sided addition that the previous owners built onto the house at some point that we want desperately to destroy -- is no longer filled with boxes. Yes, eleven months after moving into this house we finally finished unpacking everything. Where by "unpacking" I mean "either unpack or move to the basement or to the attic." And while the four-seasons room worked very well as a staging area for the unpacking, it is also nice to suddenly have yet another extra room that we don't know what to do with:



The motivation to clean this room out was the impending visit of K's sister and our nephews, and the need for a space that the five year old and ten year old could run around without crashing into anything important. And this space worked very well for this purpose, and has added another area for us to sit and read and the like. Oh, and for me to continue experimenting with homebrewing, which is going quite well thankyouverymuch.

Also for their visit we finished readying the arbor/shed area that we had been working on -- and then played a lot of "find the rusty nails on the ground" with the boys, a game that they enjoyed far more than our lawyers recommended -- and it is no longer just an area for trash and windchimes. We now have a grilling station all set up, and while we haven't used it as much as we had planned this summer, hopefully that will change as the more grillable vegetables (as opposed to Bok Choy and Swiss Chard) start coming in.


Tuesday, July 4

Vampire Avoidance Redux

Aside from that one so-sugary-it-gave-me-cavities-to-write-it post, we haven't been writing much here lately. But that's because we've been really busy. K's sister and our nephews were in town for a week, which involved spending several days getting the house in-law-ready and several more days of recovery after the five year old left the premises. And then there was college world series, which didn't end the way I wanted it to but had The Owls stick around long enough that I spent lots of time in front of the teevee. And then I went out west for a week to do some research with a collaborator. So it has been a busy few weeks without much time to keep up with the blogs I read, let alone post here.

However, I returned home a couple days back to find that the garden had gone crazy with all of the rain that the eastern half of the country got in my absence. The sunflower was taller than I was and the mint was threatening to take over all of Smallville:

garlic0005 garlic0006

But most importantly, the garlic was ready to harvest. Yes, the long wait since we first planted the garlic last November was drawin to a close, and many of the leaves had turned brown so it was time to start digging and see how the bulbs had done over the course of the year.


And the results: they seemed to turn out quite nicely. Some of them are smaller than we would have liked, but we aren't sure if that is because of something we did -- plant them too close together? not get them fancy enough soil? -- or if its just the varietals we chose. You may recall that we planted about a half dozen different kinds of garlic, and since several off these are kinds you can't find in many stores we don't really know what size they are supposed to be. But in any event we washed the dirt off and cleaned them up and now we have to wait a little bit longer for them to dry out and then it will be time for some good eatin'.


Now, if you are like most of our friends you are looking at that garlic and saying "my lord, how will you ever eat that much garlic before next year's harvest comes in?" But that's not what we say. We look at that pile and say "that should last us a month. maybe two. and then we'll have to break in to the other half that we haven't harvested yet":


Did I mention that we eat a lot of garlic?