Thursday, October 31, 2013

a mushroom chronicle, part 3

All has been quiet on the local yarnbombing front since I posted a mushroom chronicle, part 2 in April. Oh, there was one small episode when Mr. B spotted a REAL mushroom in his front yard and, at first glance, attributed it to me. We had a good laugh over that one.

Earlier this week, I was walking up our street to make a trade at the Little Free Library that's sprung up in the block north of us (talk about mushrooming!). Perhaps half way between home and the corner, I was surprised to see one of my crocheted mushrooms lying on the sidewalk. I quickly picked it up and put it in my pocket.

This mushroom was VERY DIRTY. The three crocheted mushrooms in Mr. B's front yard are nice and clean, because he waters that part of his yard frequently. The three I've placed in our parking strip, however, are in a clump of dogbane which I never water. It will 'green up' with the rest of the succulents as soon as the fall rains start, but meanwhile the soft, spongy yarn I used to make these mushrooms has absorbed a great deal of the street dirt thrown up by passing cars. In fact, I had been thinking of washing these mushrooms and 'replanting' them if the rains don't come soon.

So the errant mushroom was soaked upside down for a day in a dilute solution of dishwashing liquid, kneaded repeatedly against its wire frame to loosen the dirt, and then thoroughly rinsed. It took another day to dry, stuck in a glass and placed on our bistro table to get some sun.

I'm thinking about washing the other two mushrooms and then placing all three in a more sheltered location among the bromeliads or kalanchoes.

Of course I'm curious about how my mushroom migrated up the street. Not prone to suspecting foul play, I have hypothesized that it was picked up by the wheel of a stroller, tricycle, or skateboard and then fell off after being transported about 50 yards. Steve is convinced that "a little girl" picked it and threw it away after getting tired of carrying it. More likely her mother noticed it and told her to drop it because it was so dirty.

This is one of the many things we'll never know. I'm just glad I was able to bring the mushroom back home. "All's well that ends well," they say.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013


With the demise of Google Reader, you may be shopping for a new way to keep track of the blogs you like to read. Like, this one!

If you go to and copy into the 'search blogs' box, you can ask to be notified whenever I churn out a new posting. This assumes that you open a free account (with no privacy risk that I can see),

I keep track of a whole raft of blogs through bloglovin' and, though I organize them into categories, I like to whip through the combined list each day and read the individual posts selectively or 'like' them for later reference.

My list includes most of my local newspapers -- exciting reading now that we're in the throes of a divisive school board election campaign -- as well as numerous sources of free needlework patterns and recipes.

Check it OUT!

Monday, October 28, 2013

rain readiness

Today we are supposed to have new rain gutters installed. They will be red aluminum to go with our new roof, and will drain into our four rain barrels. I am not totally convinced that the job will be done on schedule. Steve and I were out of town last week, thus missing the contractor's confirming phone call on Friday.

Another reason for my skepticism is that a 50% chance of rain is predicted for today. Of course this means there's an equal chance it won't rain, but yesterday it really felt like rain, and so I took time to plant the Idaho daffodil bulbs I had dug up during the summer and stored on the front porch in a small paper shopping bag.

There were nine bulbs -- eleven after I separated two doubles -- and I planted them in a circular space as planned. The soil there, at the foot of our largest lavender 'tree,' was not very good. We're talking about the part of our front garden that had originally been a driveway and later a thick bed of ivy. I scraped away three inches of what passes for topsoil plus mulch, and then used a bulb planter to make the eleven holes: eight around the edge and three in the center. About an inch of a bulb-friendly potting soil went in each hole, then the bulb, and then a generous trowel full of the potting soil, followed by an inch of topsoil, a generous sprinkling of blood meal, and finally the rest of the topsoil.

If it rains today, I'll wait until afterwards to apply more mulch. If it doesn't rain today, I'll water the new bulbs and then try to spread as much mulch as I can. In either case, I don't suppose I'll want to be gardening while the rain gutters are being installed -- if, indeed, that happens. I have until noon before the workers are supposed to show up anyway, and may be able to "make hay while the sun shines" and/or the clouds gather.

Two surprises graced my bulb-planting project. Both involved freesias, the principal inhabitants of our bulb bed. I was astounded not to find any freesia bulbs in the space I had chosen for the daffodils. Granted, I'd identified it as a bare spot last spring, but the freesias are prolific in casting off tiny bulbs at the end of each flowering season.

The other freesia surprise was my sighting of the first freesia sprout of 2014's blossoming. If it rains today or tomorrow, more grassy-looking freesia foliage will soon follow this harbinger. I'll happily declare the start of fring and start watching for the first paper-white narcissus to appear.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

you, alfred hitchcock!

Yesterday on Facebook, Dollar Store Crafts shared a link to a picture of an elegant Halloween wreath made of black birds (they called them ravens). There was a detailed tutorial explaining how to hot-glue ten (10) dollar-store birds to a styrofoam wreath form. I don't usually do much decorating for Halloween, but this piece caught my eye.

Steve hates the noisy black crows that fly through our neighborhood most late afternoons and early evenings, often terrorizing smaller birds. He will sit at the bistro table in our front garden and fantasize about ways to kill them. Like, a water cannon. And so I knew that hanging some black bird effigies on our front door would appeal to him.

A digression about wreaths. My mother grew up believing that wreaths should be hung only to signify that there has been a death in the family, and that the body is still laid out in the house. Presumably when the hearse comes to take the body away, the wreath will be taken to decorate the church and, finally, the grave. Thus for me, hanging a wreath has that added frisson of childish rebellion.

So I went to our local Dollar Tree store and looked at all the items of Halloween decor. The black birds were tossed together in a big box on a bottom shelf along with other black things: unreal fluffy black owls, black plastic rats, and spiders of all sizes. I sorted through everything in the box and placed all the realistic crow-like black birds in my shopping cart -- then sorted those by shape and condition. Some had outstretched wings, while some held their wings close to their bodies. I selected four of each.

Dollar Tree was not stocking any styrofoam wreath forms, but Steve was quick to adapt a wire coat hanger, and seemed to enjoy stabbing it through the birds. We alternated the two bird shapes and added large black beads in between. An orange velvet ribbon set the whole thing off nicely, but I decided to forgo the dusting of black glitter.

If this wreath lasts until Halloween I'll be surprised, but I think its therapeutic value has been fully realized already.

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POSToccupations by Frances Talbott-White is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License