Friday, September 26, 2008

What's Blooming in My Garden-- September 26, 2008

The elusive Holy Grail of my garden, a blooming Corno di Toro pepper (Capsicum annuum). This picture was taken in late August, so we do actually have just a few peppers ripening in the garden now. It's a miracle!

A volunteer globe amaranth (Gomphrena globosa). I'm not at all fond of the fuschia color of the bracts, but my Scorpio Sun daughter loves it. It was she who picked out the amaranth at the nursery last year. I was lazy last year and did not collect seeds, but this year I will because Annie really loves this plant.

My unidentified wild aster, which I pretty much let have the run of the yard. The beneficials love this plant come September when most other blooms are spent. The bush, and this does get huge enough to call a bush, just thrums with the humming and activity of various insects. Wherever I've lived (excluding California), this plant has followed. I lean towards Heath aster (Symphyotricum ericoides) as the species, but I'm just not certain. Anyone wanna weigh in?

Night-blooming and very fragrant moonflower vine (Ipomoea alba). I have yet to build a trellis structure that can adequately maintain this vine's vigorous growth. Still, I love nothing more than sitting on my porch in the moonlight, surrounded by the luminescent glow and the intoxicating scent of these beauties.

'Dark Opal' basil's (Ociumum basilicum) delicate flowers.

The sky blue cousin of the moonflower vine, morning glories (Ipomoea spp.) are as cheerful as moonflowers are mysterious. In our garden, this is their first year, and I can already tell that I'm going to have to keep a close eye on these stranglers.

One of my equinox gifts, a delicately shaded purple aster which shall ever after be known as Equinox Aster at our homestead. It is possibly New England aster (Symphyotrichum novae-angliae), but that is as yet unconfirmed.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

When More Vinyl Windows Go Bad

After yesterday's post on my condensating windows, I sat back and thought long and hard about the issue. I was willing to start looking for salvaged wood windows to replace ours with, but pickings here are slim, and I have to face the reality that most of my energy is focused on pregnancy and the kids right now. I wasn't sure I'd have the push to actually get anything done. I'd take my time, I thought. Things didn't need to happen NOW.

Then today I was cleaning our bedroom (don't get me started), and I realized that the ginormous pile of papers sitting under one of our bedroom windows was water damaged. How did that happen? I looked around to see if there was something that could have spilled on them. Nothing. Then I inadvertently placed my hand on the window sill to pull my big, pregnant butt up and felt moisture. Oh no. I haven't found the actual leak yet, but I know it's there.

Thank you, Universe, for giving me the motivation to get off my ass and get these windows done. :)

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

When Vinyl Windows Go Bad

No, that condensation on our window is not on the outer pane of glass. It's between the two panes. This happens in vinyl windows when the moisture seal fails, and though it's touted as a repairable problem, I'm trying to use it as a way to convince my husband to start replacing our windows with *ahem* salvaged wood windows. I have no idea how old these vinyl windows are, and the one in the picture already had this problem when we moved in. Why am I harping about it now? Because it's officially autumn when the thought of heat bills to come give me goosebumps, I'm pregnant and nesting, and so the house must be completely redone from top to bottom! NOW.

I hated our windows when we bought this place. My husband loves them. Nearly every window in the house has frosted glass on the bottom pane. I'm assuming this is for privacy, since we can nearly touch our neighbors if we stick our hands out the window, but it blocks light in an already dark old house and, well, it just looks tacky to me.

Shall I go into the possible dangers to our health that are posed by vinyl windows? PVC contains pthalates, lead, cadmium, light stabilizers, heat stabilizers, anti-oxidants, barium, and other chemical compounds.

High levels of lead are also found in PVC. Studies have shown that vinyl windows can deteriorate from the effects of the heat and sun. This deterioration releases lead dust at dangerous levels. Vinyl window shades containing lead have been banned in the U.S.

But vinyl windows are sitting in nearly every wall of my house. And we were worried about lead paint when we moved in. Hmmm...

I tried for several years to put our windows out of my mind because there's nothing I hate more than sending something that is working to a landfill. I'm not sure what the "right" answer is. Do I get the window repaired, knowing that the rest are soon to come but avoiding the addition to the landfill, or do I hope that someone will be able to reuse these and start finding salvaged wooden windows, which may have lead paint covering them that I have to either have removed by a professional (pregnant women DO NOT do lead paint removal. Period.) or otherwise encapsulated.

If you're in the mood for a funny but informative video about the dangers of PVC, check out Sam Suds and the Case of PVC, the Poison Plastic.

Equinox Gifts

Yesterday was just a lovely, peaceful day with several unexpected gifts. Here at the homestead we consider the Autumnal Equinox to be our version of Thanksgiving, so it is important that I take the time to day to actually give gratitude to the wonderful things and people who made this year's equinox special.

Most important of all has been the deepening connection between me and The Bean. Though we both miss the twins everyday that they go to Head Start, I am so thankful for the opportunity to devote this block of time each day just to my littlest. Soon there will be another baby, one who needs near constant attention and affection, but I hope that I can continue to give this time to The Bean. We cuddle while reading And the Good Brown Earth, and I beam with pride as she hones her balancing skills on the bricks around the (seriously weedy) wildflower patch out front. I'm so thankful for this time and these memories.

The next bit of gratitude goes to my mother-in-law for sending along this set of gifts:

It's not actually an equinox gift but a belated birthday present. Unfortunately, with my in-laws living an hour away and gas prices being what they are, we rarely get out to see them. Regardless of our absence, I know they're always thinking of us, and we're certainly always thinking of them. Though I wouldn't buy Pampered Chef items myself, my kitchen is sorely understocked with tools, so I am very grateful for these gifts. The spoons are bamboo, and the whisks (can you believe I've gone this long without even owning a whisk??) are stainless steel. She also sent a digital kitchen timer, citrus peeler, and corn butterer. Thank you! And thank you for the wrapping paper too. It will be reused.

A gift from Nature herself:

Just like the burdock that took me by suprise last week, I was both startled and excited to see this new aster peeking up through my lawn near Sister Maple. I don't know if it comes through in the picture, but the new aster is purple. I really hope that this one comes back next year with a few buddies. Our other asters, though abundant, are white and as yet unidentified.

And lastly, a warm thank you to C, the Freecycler who passed on a bag and a half of her daughter's clothes to my daughters. It makes this pregnant, autumn-feelin' squirrel rest a little easier that Annie has clothes to grow into, regardless of how difficult the economy may get.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Merry Autumnal Equinox

A little equinox magic.

It may be just the slime trail of one of our resident spotted leopard slugs, but I was mesmerized by this bit of iridescent beauty on Mama Maple. It reminds me of something out the landscape of The Labyrinth. Even during these very rough times, there's magic all around us, things to enjoy, glimpses of bliss and beauty, moments without anxiety, fear, or depression.

The additional magic this year is that today is also the last day of my first trimester of pregnancy. Now I can take a deep breath, relax a little, and feel a little more energetic. I've already felt just a few little kicks, though they're still few and far between, and nothing is quite as blissful as that!

The equinox is a bittersweet time for me. In my faith, it is a day of celebration, a holiday, but it feels far too much like a farewell to me. Though I love the cooling days, the upcoming splendour of the maples' autumnal color, cuddling with all three of my babes under one huge blanket, the equinox is a reminder of the coming winter and much darker days ahead. There are many ways that I try to combat my winter blues, but those are best saved for posts to come. For now, I'll revel in the day of this annual event and be thankful for the familiar rhythm of the dance of our planet around the sun.

Time to bask in the waning sun...