Sunday, March 16, 2014

Busy busy boring

Life has been hectic recently, but in a boring way.

I had a ton of grading due last week, exacerbated by my usual procrastination, so that wasn't fun.

In the middle of that, John and I had to travel to the other end of our administrative district to take care of some paperwork (the glamorous life of the immigrant). Anything to do with bureacracy around here can get very complicated very fast, but it could have been much worse. I'd like to spend more time there in Heppenheim if we get a chance. There was half-timbering out the whazoo, which I hadn't been expecting.

We had our 19th anniversary and finally found some decent Mexican food a thirty-minute drive away.

We have paying guests in our vacation apartment at the moment, so we had to clean in preparation for them coming, plus we had to replace a curtain rod and install some new lights we had bought. (One of the perqs of the vacation apartment is that now I have a place to put all the crafty stuff I like to come up with. I can thank John for that realization. On to the doily patterns!)

Our friends came over 2 Saturdays in a row, first to brew some beer and then to bottle it.

John and I also tackled the plants growing up our house. He trimmed and trained the roses and the grape vines, and I cut back this other mystery ivy on the north side. I also planted some carnations in a stone planter outside the vacation apartment--also on the north side, unfortunately, so there might not be enough sunshine there for them to be really happy. We'll see.

-Nee in Germany is actually getting shit done!

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Garden planning, back corner

When we bought the house, there were already several kinds of plants in the garden, mostly flowers. Most of them were kinds we weren't familiar with, like this:

While very pretty and colorful, they took up a lot of space.

And they harbored and sustained the mortal enemy of the vegetable garden, the gastropod.

Sure, they look all cute and interesting, but they can get almost anywhere. We once saw a tv program about an escargot farm, and the snail farmers demonstrated that the snails are able to crawl over barbed wire and knife blades without injuring themselves (thick layer of slime, ftw!). I found this one

on this thorned berry vine (in the middle of the picture) hanging 20 feet or more down a stone wall behind our house.

Moreover, they ate the hell out of the plants I actually wanted in the garden. I tried using this "slug-away" gel, but it is a pain to encircle every single plant, and then it washes away too fast to really protect the seedlings.

Luckily, pumpkin plants can mostly grow fast enough to replace what gets eaten, but not so much the pumpkins themselves.

So last fall I spent a backbreaking half a day digging up those flowers at the top of this entry to deny the sluggy assholes a shady bower to snack on while they wait to denude my garden during the night. I am planning to put tomatoes in there instead, because I have been assured that they (as members of the nightshade family) repel slugs.

-Nee in Germany is planning while the sun don't shine

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Happy Birthday to Me

I had a good 41st birthday. My family told me "Happy Birthday" first thing rather than "saving it up as a surprise" (John's excuse in the past). (News flash--not a surprise.) Hannah wasn't even all the way awake when she told me "Happy Birthday."

John and I went down the street and had steaks at the local German cuisine restaurant (Hannah was at a par-tay) on my actual birthday. The next day, we had a strawberry cheesecake.

My two punkin's were so sweet. Hannah bought me a card and put it in the actual mail to me.

John got me a sweater I had said I liked (I only had to tell him how to find the shop 3 times *g*).

And my seestor's gift came in the mail today. Behold!

She knows me so well.

-Nee in Germany likes the little things (especially socks)

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Nee deep in the compost

We had a couple of beautiful sunny days but woke up to frost on everything this morning. I wanted to put some vegetable scraps on my compost pile on my way out, but I couldn't feel my fingers by the time I climbed all the stairs up to the garden.

Picture this covered in carrot greens and peels.

We are still talking about relocating the compost, but that would probably mean even more stairs. No bueno. Ah, well, we are still young and spry...

Monday, February 24, 2014

A little at a time, sweet Jesus

A little blogging, that is.

Rather than overdo it today and then blow it off for 4 months *cough*, I'm going to try posting just one thing a day, but for the whole week.

We didn't have a proper winter, just a lot of cold rain. Now it has warmed up to spring-like temperatures, and we've even managed to get a couple of days of sunshine--aah! That isn't supposed to last, but we are trying to enjoy it while we can. I spent a little time outside yesterday, planning my garden, and John is out there pulling weeds now.

Tomorrow: garden planning ideas

Tuesday, October 08, 2013

Sleeping like a baby (-ish)

When we moved last year, I started pushing for new mattresses. We had been on our old ones for 9 years, and they were noticeably squashed.

We decided to put it off because we had a lot of expenses at the time (buying a house comes with expenses? you don't say!), but I still managed to come out worse in the deal because I ended up with John's old mattress on my side of the bed.(1) He's much larger than I am, so you can imagine whose mattress had more wear.

We replaced Hannah's mattress first when we found the cushy, snuggly kind she likes on sale. As far as I am concerned, though, cushy mattresses are a type of torture device. John and I wanted firm mattresses, and we knew we'd have to spend some real money on them, so we put off our shopping a little longer.

Then our city's twice annual large trash pickup rolled around, and we realized that this was our big chance to get rid of our old, saggy mattresses, but that we would also have to suck it up and buy some new ones. To the Internet! (2) We did a little research on (German) consumer reports and managed to find what we were looking for, with free delivery even.

Once again, I (and Hannah) got the short end of the stick when the large trash day came, because John was enjoying himself in Croatia at a conference while Hannah and I schlepped mattresses down this hill to the pickup point near that church tower.

Then I got to sleep on our couch for a week (joined by John at the end of that time) until the mattresses were delivered. That was actually not such a big deal, because it is quite firm, which I like.

Now when I get in bed at night, the mattress doesn't sink down, not even a centimeter. It is great!

(1) Here in Germany, double beds have two single mattresses side by side instead of one large, square mattress like in the US (and France, it turns out).

(2) We're so far out, there aren't any decent furniture stores in the area, and we were going to have to have the mattresses delivered anyway, so this seemed like as good a method of mattress shopping as any.

Saturday, October 05, 2013

All roses up in here

I waited a day too long to pillage more roses from the garden.

The purple one is another freebie out of our garden, but here it is already a bit faded and turning brown on the edges. It only lasted a day in the vase before it dropped all its petals. John and I can't quite put our finger on the scent: air freshener? Hospital hand soap?

This one is one of John's purchases for the slope: Friesinger Morgenröte, I think (=sunrise). It is a beautiful color, but John and I disagree as to which is the better rose, his or the pink one above. I can't tell that it has much smell to it (maybe it, too, was picked too late), but John reports that it is supposed to have a slightly peach-like scent to it.

The garden came with another type of rose, as well. In German they are called Beetrosen (=(flower) bed roses), but I guess in English they are referred to as being "bushy". They put out clusters of itty-bitty roses. I like them because they seem very old fashioned, but John is not impressed.

Last but not least, we have the climbing roses that actually grow up the street side of the house.

Unfortunately, they seem to have some rust or something growing on them. John was advised by a neighbor (who used to be a professional gardener, I believe) that they needed to be cut way back last fall, but John was loathe to at the time. Watching them over the last year, and having a little more experience in the garden, he's realized that even if cutting them back kills them, they can be replaced. And if it doesn't kill them, they'll grow back quickly. So we picked up some reading on how to trim the various kinds of rose bushes, and I guess we'll be whacking away at them in a few weeks.

--Nee in Germany loves her rose pruning gloves--look, Ma, no pokes!