Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Just insane...

Well, hey there everybody...anybody who I've disappointed, no doubt, over the past two months with my lack of blogging. I'm a journalist for a living, so you'd think, you know, I'd have plenty to say and report on around here and all, but it's been just crazy.

An 18-month-old son will do that...along with a crappy economy that just affects everything you had planned to do. And then add in the need to still be social, do things and somehow keep up with the household chores and stuff, and well, you know how it goes.

So, in bullet form, here are some updates since last I spoke:

1. Garden
The vegetable garden in the back was pretty much a smashing success. But I learned a few things.
--(a) 9 cherry tomato plants and 9 Big Boy tomato plants is too many tomatoes. And don't tell me about making sauce and ketchup and all that. I tried making sauce one evening, and it took me all evening. I simply don't have the time to do that, sadly, nor the canning ability to can tomatoes either. Not at this stage. Fortunately, I made a lot of friends and family members happy with the "free" tomatoes. :) After really struggling to start the year, over the past two months, I've pulled probably 1-2 dozen cherry tomatoes off every 1-2 days. The Big Boys took forever to grow and ripen, but I'm getting maybe three per 1-2 days now. They bounced back. But, it's very much a jungle back there.
--(b) Broccoli does much better when given sunlight. In Bolingbrook, I grew it in dappled sunlight, and it did well, I thought. But now, much better. I've cut main heads that were larger than my fist a few times already. Only thing is, I planted too late, as what I'm cutting was supposed to be my spring crop. It just now is producing.
--(c) The soaker hose hooked up to the rain barrel has made a huge difference, but I'm tired of stepping over it. Next year, I'm going to look into a less "in-the-way" option...copper tubing, maybe. We'll see...
--(d) Knock on wood, for some reason, I had NO critter invasions. I hope that lasts. I know I'm lucky. :)
--(e) Grapes need a lot more room to spread out. Sometime in the last two months, a windstorm blew over my top-heavy arbor loaded with grapevines. The grapes were doing OK, but it wasn't going to work. I cut the vines down, removed the arbor, and planted some new perennials. You can go over to my Flickr account to see the result. I'm hoping next year they'll come back as strong as the others have.
--(f) Two years in a row proves you can control Butterfly Bush and get it to grow 7-8 feet tall in a narrow space, with the use of a tall tomato cage and pre-emptive "training" of branches to stay in the cage and grow upward rather than outward.
--(g) Garlic takes a long, long time to grow. Still waiting on my garlic.
--(h) NOTHING beats carrots right out of the garden. Nothing.

2. Family room
Well, this is the project that has suffered from the economic downturn. It's been pretty much static since early to mid summer. Until recently, when we bought a nice sectional from Ashley Furniture, finally paid off the floor (which has yet to be installed) and turned around and purchased the subfloor materials. We still need to do a decent amount of painting/priming, install the floor and the trim. But we do have cable down there now, and like I said, we'll be getting a comfy sectional, so there might just be motivation to get this thing done already. Stay tuned.

3. Other projects/happenings
Outside of those two things, really, there hasn't been any major goings-on at the house. My parents just had their house (a pre-bungalow bungalow, if that makes sense) exterior walls repointed, washed and the brick walls on the roof (they have a flat roof) completely rebuilt, and for cheap. So, if my dad gives me the contact info, I might give this company a call and get them out to repoint the facebrick on my bungalow. I was going to do it myself, but if these guys are as good as the work they did on my parents' house suggests, I'd be comfortable with it. But we'll see. The only other thing I'd like to do/have to do, is to weatherstrip/proof the windows and some of the doors. Gotta do that before it gets too cold...but time's ticking away.

Ah well...I hope I still have some readers left! Thanks for sticking around and checking back...I'll try to be better, I promise!