Friday, April 1, 2011

Marching on Through

Spring is always a busy time here in the Stringham household, and this year, spring seemed to start early before it went back into hiding. It's been a busy March, so I'll give the highlights to bring everyone up to speed before Planting Season begins tomorrow.

M's mom and step-dad visited us for most of two weeks. They acted as stand-in Santa Clauses for other members of the distant family, however, transporting goods illegal to send across state lines via any package carrier. Although they were here for 13 days, I somehow managed to snap not a SINGLE picture of them, but I got a picture of the wrapped presents.

I also managed to get a pic of our newest lawn ornament (a gift from the in-laws) next to our old buddy Gnorm.

While the in-laws were here, they wanted to help us with some home repair, so we decided to tackle repainting the 3/4 bath. We managed to get all the supplies purchased and prepare the room for painting before they left, but M and I are still working on finishing the painting, so no pics for now. It's not a very big room at all, but it takes a long time to paint because of all the painting AROUND and above things. It has a high ceiling, and the shower walls don't reach the ceiling; it also has two doors, the vanity, the medicine cabinet, the light fixtures, and the toilet, all in tight little blocks. (For those of you who haven't seen this bathroom, it looks something like one of the Tetris L's, only with one of the squares lopped off the long side of the L.)

Anyway, M and I have ordered all of our seeds and plants for the orchard and garden this year, and we got a buttload (pardon the expression, but what else would you call an Explorer-full?) of canning jars from the neighbor of a friend, so I'm now taking it as my personal challenge to fill those jars this year with pickles, tomato products, and whatever else I can. In those free canning jars were four wire-rim jars and a blue jar! (For those of you not familiar, that means they're really old, and very me. No one else seemed to be as excited by them as I was...)

So, on we move. As I said, spring hit, then decided to tuck its tail and run, so I got a few pictures of buds on the lilac, some brave snow crocuses, and some buds on the unidentified bush in the front yard. Nothing earth-shattering. Our line of arborvitae, now protected, however minimally, by the orange fencing, have taken off, though. They and the boxwoods seem to have grown during the winter. These beauties are in the front yard, but some of the arborvitae in the backyard are to M's waist.

Over in the orchard and berry patch, things were looking nice. Some overachieving strawberries had already begun clawing their way through the "natural mulch" of dead grass and fallen leaves. Seriously, I keep saying we need to weed the strawberries, but I mean for my benefit so I can see the darn things--they certainly know how to fend for themselves.

Here's a shot of the overachieving 5-on-1 dwarf pear tree that is the tallest non-mature tree we have. That's M, walking around the rest of the orchard. The second picture is of the rest of the orchard--that part you can't see so well through the green posts and fencing that surrounds the pear and apple trees.

A few days after this, we got hit with a thunderstorm that pelted us with some hail. I'd heard of golf-ball-sized hail before, but I'd never seen it before. Mostly, the stuff was soft enough that it hit the roof, siding, or windows and just splattered like a mostly melted snowball, but not without making some very loud dings and thuds. The few larger pieces that landed on the cusion of grass were harder to find, but here's a nice one. The pic's blurry because it's through a plastic-covered, rain-spattered window, and it's hard to get a feeling of scale, but I didn't feel like braving the hail on my delicate skin just to take a picture. See the bigger white blob? See those smaller pellets just below and to the right of it? Those are anywhere from the size of dimes to those little chocolate Easter eggs you can get this time of year in stores.

Finally, our epic journey through March comes to a close, first with a battle, then with a celebratory feast. One evening, as the chill descended outside, the cats apparently decided to duke it out to see who got the rights to the warmth and cushion of the big comfy chair. I called at them from another room to stop, and when I came in a few minutes later to have a seat, I saw that George was clearly the victor. (None of that fluff on the chair is George's...)

Two mornings later, M was snacking on bacon. As we all know, dead pig is George's favorite repast, the thing he most hunts, and he quickly showed his interest and was rewarded for his bravery in surviving a month full of house guests, house "construction," and cold weather.

* Stringham high: Spring is officially here.
* Stringham low: Spring hasn't quite gotten the memo to come back from vacation.
* Stringham super-high: Planting Season begins tomorrow. The orchard is going to nearly double in size!

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