In Xanadu did Kublah Khan a stately pleasure dome decree

Friday, April 1, 2016

Cherries and Chard

As I head into My third spring in the house, I remain very pleased with it, esp. the garden. (Gotta give a shout out also to the crawl space vapour barrier and IQAir air filter).

When I bought the house in fall, I couldn't be certain, but hoped I was right about the tree in front being a cherry of some sort. It has that reddish, horizontally striated, smoothish bark. And indeed, I am now watching for the third time as My fruiting, ornamental cherry blossoms, about a week behind peak Yoshino bloom at the Tidal Basin. Soon the sidewalk will be covered in tiny little cherries - edible, but it would take the whole tree to make a pie. They bring the birds, and it's lovely to watch.

At the outset, I thought it possible My interest in gardening might wane, so I resisted investing too much in doodads, and I've been using assorted metal wire containers lined with free burlap. After two years, I've learned that burlap is good for about 10 months, tops, even if you use multiple layers, and replanting the baskets that often isn't My favorite activity, even if it provides some excellent dynamic weight lifting. Also they don't hold water well at all, it's like watering dirt in a sieve. As the burlap fails, the plants begin to die of thirst, and when you can make a rosemary water stressed, you've accomplished something. I've got three nicely established rosemary now and they are getting too big to keep replanting. I was sad the lavender didn't winter over last year but lavender is finicky and this definitely isn't Tuscany.

I am flirting now with investing in permanent raised beds, something nice, designed for hoops that would extend My season with a bit of cold frame capacity, and the ability to easily cover the beds against winter's worst. This year, I just ran a cheap (free? dumpster-find? ) blue rope diagnonally across a corner of the yard, tossed a double layer of 6 mil clearish plastic over it, and pinned it down with 2x4s, rocks, and containers of dirt holding things I didn't mind sacrificing. Bless My neighbors for not protesting the sight of it. I make a point of putting some flowers close to the sidewalk for them to enjoy.

So here it is April, and I have three large containers of hard neck garlic, two chard that wintered over, three different rosemary, plus a highly improbable arugula. I'm very pleased to have the chard so early, at this rate I can be picking for dinner in 2 weeks. Where the tulips have gone is a sweet mystery, I can only conclude the squirrels retrieved them all before I put down hardware cloth. The only tulip to be seen is a volunteer along the fence line, where two years ago I dumped a pot of tulips from the grocery store after they expired, and the hardy little bugger took root. I'm gonna go cut him tomorrow before a squirrel lops off his head like last year. The indoor pot of crocus did fine until I started leaving them outside. The outside containers of crocus did well, but got cold snapped and I begin to suspect the damage is irreversible.

I'm keeping close eye on the galvanized tub of iris from the now-deceased venerable neighbor. I put holes in the bottom but I suspect it stays wetter than ideal. All the solid metal containers, really, stay too wet, even with holes and gravel in the bottom. I want those iris to live on, so it may be time to undertake a massive replanting effort.

As for the burlap, I've been experimenting and have settled on some brown grow bags. They are about the same color as the burlap, look nice in the baskets, and hold the water better while still being permeable enough. I've definitely noticed intense root circling in the metal containers and am curious to see if this "air pruning" actually happens in the grow bags. It remains to be seen how fast the UV will do them in, but I think by time they fail, permanent raised beds will be in place. It's a subtle change but does make the yard look a more finished and intentional.

Tomorrow the junk man should come to take away the piles of wood I've been keeping. It's wood from the renovation, either studs from walls I tore down, inducing 6 months of tendonitis, or scraps from the hardwood floor replacement with the salvaged boards. Good stuff I had hoped to keep for nice evening fires in a brazier. And I know just what kind of a pretty firewood holder I want. But there's too much of it, it's been in the weather a while now, no one on Craigslist has wanted it, and critically, the tax refund has come and it's in the way of doing the projects that need to happen before decorative firepitting makes sense.

I have a maxim for all things House:
Buy the house.
Fix the house.
Decorate the house.

I tend to want to jump ahead to the decorate phase. So when torn by choices, I consult the Holy Trinity of House, and if I've gotten a step ahead, I back up. Buh-bye premature firewood pile; hello gravel, sand, and bluestone. I've still got three grills (front yard, back yard, portable) and plenty of hardwood charcoal; I can still have fire any time I want it.

Naughty Outerwear

WinterFire has a charity bootblack station in the common area, where street legal dress is required. It is the site of many subtle scenes and a lot of loving hard work by folks who adore leathers. I've been going there with a pair of boots every year and this year decided that the long black leather coat I acquired second hand for a song really needed some bootblack TLC.

So after j's second tease and denial ordeal with Me on Sunday afternoon, I sent him off to his playdate and took the coat down to bootblacks. I had stopped by earlier to discuss donation amount and quantum of time, and learned that they needed Me to wear the coat while they worked on it. Looking around, I could see the need, as there was nowhere to effectively hang it and no flat surface where it could be worked.

It is a full length leather coat as well as insulated, and though I initially didn't consider it a winter coat, it has proven equal to the freakish Arctic blast that consistently accompanies WinterFire. GoreTex windbloc has nothing on cow hide. I knew I'd be uncomfortably warm wearing it indoors for half an hour. So after a few words with the bootblack, I popped into the uni bathroom (why all bathrooms cannot be uni is unclear) and popped back out wearing nothing but well chosen panties under the coat, which I did not care to button.

I stepped up onto the raised platform which allows the bootblacks to work comfortably below, and turned to face the milling mid-afternoon crowd of clothed kinky humanity... Most of whom walked past Me at the base of the stairs without realizing they were passing a naked Lady in Her panties. The nice bootblack boy I had not met before - 30s, kind, a bit serious, presumably service oriented but not screaming affiliation in any particular direction - asked if I preferred a workmanlike session on the coat or whether I would like more of a massage through the leather. Massage?  Yes, please.

And so we began, he rubbing the leather with saddle soap and a brush, asking Me to turn this way and that, as he worked the garment in sections. I took the opportunity to pose a little, intermittently flashing some boobie at the bypassers paying attention, and dropping My hand when hotel staff entered the area so the leather shrouded the view once more.

As the boy vigorously worked the coat, I lost balance a little bit, and reached to put a hand on his shoulder, which turned into a hand on his head, and some friendly petting as we chatted. When it was time to work the back, I turned around and stuck My booty out, slowly shifting My hips back and forth. I've never been much interested in exhibition, but this was fun, and I felt flirty and prankish being naked in the crowd. A few people did notice and stopped to watch the subtle show while it lasted, which I enjoyed.  And the rest of the time I was just smiling and waving and saying hi to people I recognized. It took a little bit of courage in the deciding, but once up there I felt completely comfortable - as I always do now - amongst My kinkster tribe.

The coat was well cared for, the boy very nice, and I was well served when it decided to snow heavily during move out. And whaddya know the nice bootblack from 400 miles away - boy t - and I struck up a correspondence in the weeks after the event. When I mentioned needing some help around the house, he said I had only to ask, and he would come toil for Me. I accepted and we had a lovely visit of toiling, which has led to a second visit being scheduled this month.  And perhaps most amusing of all, I had placed an ad for a subby boy locally, and it turns out he is just as advertised.