Monday, July 6, 2015

Potato Queen and Mulch Boy: Boston Edition!

Does anyone even remember that there was a Potato Queen? It's been so long since I wrote, I forgot what the masthead looked like.

I don't feel guilty for the silence though. We entered 2014 hoping that it would demonstrate marked improvement over 2013, which was chock full of hospitalizations and family crises. Alas, 2014 decided to do its best to make 2013 look like a cakewalk. And so we find ourselves in July of 2015, wondering where the last year and a half went.

Actually, we know where it went: to the hospital, for four extended stays. To the ER, at least seven times times. Even once to a nursing home for rehab (an experience that can only be described with extremely graphic profanity).

All this to say that Mulch Boy was very sick and it wasn't pretty. There were three surgeries--one planned, one emergency, and one to put everything back together after a long and difficult recovery. There were infections and drains and IVs and open wounds and 911 calls and crying and swearing and pretty much everything short of pianos falling from the sky on our heads.

The good news is, Mulch is in one piece and well. It was a very long road to wellness, and I think we'll both carry the emotional scars for a while.

But 2015 has been about healing those scars and putting our lives back together. We've started that by moving up to Boston this past winter to be near family and have a fresh start. That's meant squatting in a one-bedroom apartment while we sold the Little Blue House in Virginia and look for a new house up here.

And now, finally, we are almost settled: The Little Blue House in Virginia is sold (long live the Little Blue House), and three weeks from now we'll be moved into...  ANOTHER Little Blue House, in Peabody (PEEbuddy unless you want to be corrected), Massachusetts.

Alas, that means no garden this year. But I am thinking of Moe and Forky, in storage in Maryland till moving day, and beginning to imagine us in our own home again, plotting where the vegetable garden will go, scouting the best location for blueberry bushes, and looking forward to that first cup of tea on the porch.


Thursday, March 19, 2015

Who wants to buy a little blue house?

PROBABLY anyone who ever read this blog thought the Potato Queen had dropped off the face of the earth. In fact, I'm still here! But last year was a terrifying and horrible year that sent this blog into hibernation. A long story for another day.

But I'm back now... in Boston! Yes, Mulch Boy and I have just relocated to the Boston area. And as a result, the little blue house in Falls Church is for sale. Know anybody looking?

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Things I Learned This Summer

Poison ivy is very bad.

It hurts quite a lot. There are blisters. Do everything you can to avoid getting it. Expect to look as though you've been in a knife fight for weeks.

There is a direct correlation between the number of times your various loved ones end up in the hospital and the number and height of weeds in your yard.

Can we all just think about the flowers and the vegetables, just this once?

If you don't plant cucumbers, you get no cucumbers.

This should be obvious, and yet somehow I was surprised.

One day at the beach is not enough.

Again, file under "Obvious."

If you completely neglect the garden all summer, you will still end up with potatoes.

(Assuming you planted them, which we did.)

The Sudafed they sell on the shelf is nothing compared to the old-school version you have to sign for at the pharmacy counter.

It's worth getting put on the meth-cookers' watch list if you have bad respiratory issues and are trying to avoid bronchitis like me.

There's always next summer.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Alas, my toof and my garden

Since the last time I wrote, it's been nothing but rain, rain, rain or unbearable heat here in the DC metropolitan area. Neither of these conditions inspires me to get outside and do something about the legions of weeds that have overrun my vegetable garden and flower beds. Thus, every day I pass them by, but not without painfully observing what a wreck they have become.

Still, I now have an even better excuse to continue my neglect: oral surgery. About a month ago, I found myself in the dental chair, bracing myself for another root canal. Only this time, the endodontist got halfway through the procedure and discovered that this particular molar (tooth #30 for anyone who actually finds that meaningful) was doomed: cracked at the root, its chances of survival were slim to none.

That's how I ended up at the surgeon last Friday, getting poor ol' #30 extracted (i.e., drilled out of my head) and some bone graft put in and then stitched up to heal 3-4 months before dental implant surgery. Meanwhile, for two weeks I have been instructed to eat only soft foods, not chew on the right side, and refrain from strenuous activity. OH WELL, WEEDING!

I should reassure anyone facing this kind of surgery that, really, it's not that bad, and I say that as someone who cannot tolerate narcotics and cannot be sedated and so must be conscious for the entire procedure. Just make sure they shoot you up with anesthetic and you'll have nothing to fear. Also, the endodontist taught me to wiggle my toes while she drilled; it gives you something to concentrate on other than the "SQUEEEEEEEEE" of the drill. Better yet, get to work on inventing a drill that doesn't make that noise: there's a fortune to made there, not to mention the benefit to humankind.

Anyway, I'm currently taking it easy, watching the yard go to pot, and entertaining myself with the thought that the gap in my teeth is bringing me one step closer to fulfilling my goal of becoming an Old Mountain Woman (first two steps were cornbread and canning). Now, where do I get myself a corn cob pipe?

I bet she makes a mean cobbler.
One step closer.


Monday, July 1, 2013

Lawn Ornaments

(or "One Gardener's Art is Another Gardener's Display of Unspeakably Bad or Misguided Taste")

As with all things in the garden, I firmly believe that beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and that whatever objects you choose to decorate your own little piece of land need please no one but yourself. So whether you have a concrete deer, a tiny Deere tractor replica, an entire extended family of gnomes, or a wooden cutout of a lady bending over, HUZZAH to you, I say! I'd be lying if I said I was a fan of any of those particular items, but I will defend to the death (figuratively, you understand; don't anybody come here ready to throw down the gauntlet) your right to decorate your yard as you choose.

After all, who am I to judge? While my preferred lawn ornament is almost always rocks, I do have a limited number of garden ornaments, and they probably won't pass The Good Taste Test. Still, we enjoy them, which means they're fulfilling their lawn ornament-y destiny.

My first ornament was Sneezy the pink flamingo, beloved house-warming gift from my honorary nephew when I bought my first home. Oh sure, the flamingos are hipster-cliche these days, you'll say. But Sneezy is different. Sneezy is special. Sneezy has propellers.

Yes he sure does! You can't see them in the picture below, alas, but that's Sneezy in the foreground, peeping around the boxwood. He's shy these days because the post he used to stand on rusted off. Thus Sneezy is forced to sit upon the ground, his propeller wings no longer free to spin in the breeze and spread his classy aura about the yard.

Behind Sneezy you'll notice two more flamingos of the more traditional variety: these are Sleezy and Carl, Sneezy's half brothers. Sleezy and Carl were orphans rescued from my neighborhood's curbside, where their heartless parents left them to fend for themselves. Thank goodness I was there to save them!

The flams tend to move around the front yard quite a bit, but they are always there, lurking.
Classy!
From front to back: Bunny Crossing sign I gave Mom years ago,
Sneezy, Sleezy, and Carl.

It's not all pink plastic at the Little Blue House, though. On our first wedding anniversary, Mulch Boy and I got each other rocks. More accurately, we got each other things fashioned out of rock, and the gift I received was this birdbath made of rough-carved stone. I love the rough, rustic look of it, and how it blends right into the landscape of the backyard. 
Stone bird bath, plus beagle.

For his gift, Mulch Boy picked this shiny blue-green turtle, made of carved and polished granite. In Mulch's family, it's tradition to have a turtle in your yard, and this is ours. His name is Oliver Grendel Holmes, and he tends to move around the backyard when he gets restless and bored.
So I says to Mabel, I says...
Oliver Grendel Jones, left, and Charlie.

Back in the front, our most recent addition guards The Big Bed and the stone circle. She is Margaret T. Rex, a copper sculpture of a tyrannosaurus that we fell in love with at an antique/garden shop out in the Virginia countryside. Margaret is that perfect combination of decorative and terrifying we're all looking for in our gardens.
Oh, Margaret!
Margaret T. Rex, left, guards The Stone Circle and terrorizes innocent sheep. Also,
flamingos can be seen in the background.

It occurs to that our tasteful lawn ornaments are all in our backyard, while our "questionable" ones live out front for the neighborhood to admire. I expect that says something about us; I'm just not entirely sure what.




Friday, June 28, 2013

Howdy, Ranters!

I didn't anticipate that my guest rant on Garden Rant would mean an exponential increase in visits to my blog--wow! I'm pretty excited to know there are so many new eyeballs checking the Potato Queen. I hope at least some of you will like what you see and decide to stick around. It's nice to know there are folks out there with like minds regarding the garden.

If you want to see just what kind of gardener I am, you can literally start at the beginning here, and follow our progress from lowly amateurs making it up as we go along to...  well, lowly amateurs with a little more experience still making it up as we go along.

But who are we? The Potato Queen was born in the DC area and has lived most of her life here in Northern Virginia, with some intervening years in West Virginia (where all her fambly is from) and Ohio (go Bucks!). Mulch Boy was a lifetime resident of Massachusetts who was tricked into flying to DC for a party where he was secretly set up to meet the Potato Queen (also secretly set up). The rest, as they say, is history: a year and a half later, Mulch was transplanted to Northern Virginia, the next year the Queen and Mulch got married up and moved into the Little Blue House, and thus began their joint adventures in gardening and life. And dogs.

As far as garden philosophy? I'm always trying to learn more, and I'm really proud of what I have learned and accomplished since I started gardening. I admire the friends and bloggers I know who can rattle off the Latin names of everything growing in their yard, whereas I'm not even sure of the common names of most of my plants. I'm constantly amazed by those who seem to know just how to combine their perennials and bulbs for beautiful four-season displays. I'm in awe of those whose yards boast different gardens for specific conditions--rain garden here, rock garden there. Shoot, I'm impressed with anyone who has the discipline to plant their flowers the recommended distance from each other (no matter how often I've been proved wrong, there's part of me that never is convinced those little seedlings will ever grow big enough to fill that space in between).

In a nutshell, our garden "design" is based on impulse rather than planning. This used to bother me in my earlier gardening days. I've since accepted and embraced the reality that my garden--like myself--is disorganized, a little chaotic, and a bit (ha!) weedy. Yet it has its own beauty, and it gives generously of its fruits (and vegetables) and scents and flowers. And as long as it pleases us, I deem it a success.

Again, welcome!