Hazel has been battling various side effects of the medication she’s been prescribed for side effects of medication she was prescribed since we’ve had her. To recap: she was given all manner of vaccinations as a puppy, some of which she developed allergies to, and they started breaking down the blood vessels in her ears. We were prescribed different medication to help with this condition only to find it lowered her immune system, causing her to break out with warts across her body. We got the ear thing under control, finally, and her dermatologist decided we were going to take her off that medication and switch to a different one. It’s been a month or so since the switch, and her ears are still clear and the warts are finally disappearing. Meanwhile, the Easy Lead we bought a couple of weeks ago, while not her favorite object in the world, makes walking her about a million times more enjoyable. We’re doing about three miles daily, a long walk in the morning and a family walk in the evening, and it seems to be great for everyone’s mental health.
After fucking around with multiple different approaches to installing OX El Capitan on my 14-year-old Mac Pro, I decided to give up on janky scripts and poorly written directions and just clone the copy of Leopard I had running on it before to test that the SSD was viable, which did work. Now I’m going to have to buy a copy of 10.7 Lion from Apple (it is not available as a download anymore for reasons I can’t fathom, and among the hundreds of archived backup and install discs I’ve got in my collection, I don’t have this installer) and put a clean copy of the last officially compatible OS on the drive.
There’s a wealth of information out there about Mac Pros out there, which is super handy for keeping the original 2006 version I own (and the 2010 version I use at work) running smoothly. It’s hard to believe my work tower is that old, but it still cranks along happily, earning its keep. I see people complaining about the high cost of pro Apple gear, but if I amortize the purchase price over the time I’ve used it, it’s an incredible bargain.
Tomatoes are officially in season here in the greenhouse and the girls haven’t been able to keep up with the harvest. We have a bunch of Cherokee Purples ripening on several different plants, and they’re all about due to be picked. I pulled several beautiful Chef’s Choice on Saturday with a bowl full of cherries. At the same time there are several basil plants getting fuller with the heat.
Everything in the greenhouse has gone nuts in the last week. Where there were only a few tentative blooms on a few plants, now every plant has three or four branches filled with yellow flowers, and half of those already have fruit beginning. Even the difficult varieties are producing: the Cherokee Purples have five or six fruit apiece. They’ve suddenly gotten taller as well, and I’ve been pretty ruthless in cutting back the secondary growth unless it’s already got something growing. As a result the plants look thin and spindly compared to giant leafy bushes, which I’ve been accustomed to growing in years past. This time I’m pruning everything back except that which will produce, hoping they’ll mature and ripen faster.
I think the only stuff that hasn’t bloomed yet is the strange tub in the back, with seedlings that always seemed slower than the rest. Those plants have shot up in the last week but they’re 1/4 the size of the others. I think they’ll wind up being producers late in the season.
There are flower buds on several of the plants; everything looks pretty healthy except for one tub in the very back, which has three very lazy plants that are only several inches tall.
The tomatoes in the greenhouse have skyrocketed in the last couple of days; with the sun and the heat they’re much happier and reaching their stride. I’m testing the use of some tomato fertilizer in two tubs and straight urea in one to see what results I get; nothing is dead yet (I put it in on Sunday) so I’m going to set up a rolling schedule to amend the soil. I put some basil seed in six of the tubs to see if it would grow, and there are seedlings starting in five of them. And strangely, one of the gladiolus bulbs overwintered in the greenhouse and is now sending a new shoot skyward.
It’s officially air conditioner season. Yesterday I hauled all of the individual window units out to a table on the driveway and pulled the covers off so that the girls could shoot some Clorox inside and scrub out the dirt and mold. They dried in the sunshine and after dinner Finley helped me put them back together so I could haul them upstairs and put them in place. I’m getting tired of humping them up and down the stairs in my late 40’s, and now that the front porch has been reclaimed and looks so good I’m going to feel shitty about storing them out there in the winter. My overall goal is to have ductless AC units put in sometime in the next couple of years. I’m thinking ductless—the kind where each room has a wall-mounted unit connected to a large outdoor condenser—vs. ducted—where there’s a big air handler in the attic running hoses to a ceiling-mounted duct in each room, because I’d like to keep the attic open and I figure it might be cheaper. But that may be flawed logic; one handler in the attic, which will never be finished in our ownership of this house, and is mostly inaccessible now that the stairs have been chopped down, may be cheaper than four individual units in each bedroom. More research is required.
The frequency of my posts here have dropped off in recent weeks. For some reason I’m in a fallow period for the blog, and I’m spending too much free time just aimlessly looking at the internet for tiny dopamine hits. Weekends are different because I can get out from behind the desk and accomplish large visible things that have a tangible result, which I’m leaning on heavily for motivation. As my job-related output gets increasingly intangible it’s hard to feel a sense of accomplishment when my output for the day is a list of items crossed off on a list in a notebook.
This is not a complaint. I’m happy—and lucky—to have a job in the current climate. Some weeks it’s just more difficult to shift my mindset to the new normal.
The tomatoes in the greenhouse are beginning to perk up. After several weeks of apathy, they’ve noticed the change in temperature and are beginning to pick up their growth. When I look at my Flickr feed from last year the store-bought plants are a full month ahead of where I am this year, but I’m taking a much more careful approach to how I’m letting these grow. Being home every day means I can keep a closer eye on them—pruning back the suckers and extra branches to keep the main stem strong and healthy every day. From what I’m seeing online I need to be much more ruthless about pruning back extra branches that have set flowers, as they take the energy and growth away from fruit on the main section of the plant. But with the additional plants I’m growing, we’ll hopefully have a lot more production overall.
So there it is. I started spraying at 10AM and finished up the last section at 4, and it took about an hour to clean everything up. I went with the big guns and wheeled my new upright compressor to the front door for the sprayer. It worked like a dream. I worked the stencil down the middle of the room and then shot each side; the only issue I ran into was some misregistration on the house side requiring a do-over of one square. Overall, it sprayed super easy and when I had a rhythm worked out with the gun, my baffle, a lint cloth, and some tape, each side went pretty quickly. We had to paper off the walls to make sure there wasn’t any overspray, but Jen stayed ahead of me the whole time and I didn’t have to wait for anything.
After I’d moved the compressor back to the garage, scrubbed a fist’s worth of paint off the stencil, and cleaned out the gun, I went back in with a beer and a watercolor brush and cleaned up some edges and some overspray here and there. Overall there’s not a lot that needs to be touched up; the stencil was that good. So we’re going to let it sit and cure for a week, do some wall touch-ups, and then we move on to furnishings and furniture.
I’m extremely pleased with the $60 sprayer I bought—it knocked this job out of the park, and I’m already looking ahead to shooting paint on the four Adirondack chairs in the backyard when it’s warmer and dryer…and then maybe the house…
On Sunday I got out in the greenhouse and addressed the issue of the back wall once and for all. It was originally one sheet of polycarbonate panel cut to fit the peak of the roof, so I had to disassemble half of the back wall to take it out for airflow. This year, I had some time to think about it and come up with a better plan. The polycarbonate panels are held in place by an inside and outside sandwich rail that bolt to the frame of the greenhouse.I took the back panel out and then cut the two outside rails 6′ off the ground, and then cut the polycarbonate 6′ from the bottom. Then I put the top section back in permanently and left the bottom rectangle off. I’d built a chicken-wire frame for the back wall two seasons ago for the back wall but that was now too tall, so I reframed it to fit the new opening.
With that done and in place, I pumped water from the low rain barrel to a holding tank—it’s going to rain for the next five days—and watered all the tomatoes. They’re all progressing well and look pretty happy. Looking back on last season, the plants were about four times the size at this point, but the weather has been so shitty in 2020, I can’t let it get me discouraged.
Here’s the porch with three coats of new deck paint down; this goes on light but dries thick and doesn’t come off my skin as easily as standard latex paint. It turned out the “floor paint” we were given was just regular paint, so we thought it best to use actual deck paint for the high-traffic, high-visibility area. It’s a bit darker and more neutral than the original paint we selected but a bit shinier and more reflective. Jen is beginning the job of taping off a border and preparing for the stencil work today.
And here’s the greenhouse with one additional container; I saved the last three seedlings from various places and planted them in a bin in back. All told there’s about 25 plants out there; I’ve got some research to do about pinching them off and making sure the plants grow healthy and strong. I think we’re at the point when I can pull the rear panel off the back wall and replace it with chicken wire—overnight temps got down to the high 30’s last week but I’m hoping that’s over with now.