Monday, April 11, 2011

The Landing and Other Stuff

Swiss chard. It seems like the pink stems should taste sweet, but they don't.

This weekend was crazy busy. Rob and I cleaned the house, did tons of laundry, prepared our taxes, weeded for hours, watered three acres of thirsty plants, swept our porches and garden paths, and cut down a bunch of invasive nandina. And that's not all:

On Saturday we finally got around to repainting our little antique cast-iron table and chair set on the landing in front of the laundry room. (We repainted the floor of the landing too.) The table and chairs were a rusty, dreary, dirty white, so we scraped the rust off and painted them a nice glossy black to contrast with the pale exterior walls of the house. While we were at it, we touched up the paint on our benches around the pond too.

It was a very messy job, spray painting. Rob was wearing his stupid sandals, and when he took them off he had these stupid black-striped feet. Rob’s feet were so dirty, I kept getting "mad" at him whenever I happened to see them. “Look at your feet,” I said, teasing. “They look like Hobbit feet. And yet you're so proud of them you keep showing them off.”

I didn’t look any better, of course, than Rob’s feet did. I had spray paint all over my legs—and I was wearing foggy safety goggles and a breathing mask and purple dishwashing gloves that were absolutely full of sweat.

Our spray painting work took up most of the afternoon, and then in the evening we worked in the yard, weeding and mulching the huge bed around the pond. We’ve been mulching that bed for months—because it’s so big. First we spread a layer of newspaper to kill the grass and weeds, and then we spread wood chip mulch over the newspaper to make it look pretty.

We took a little break on the screen porch to eat some awesome Italian ices we bought at Winn-Dixie. They were lemonade flavored and snowy white. As we ate, the ceiling fan turned around lazily and the cats entertained us with their antics. Carl was doing very serious work, digging in a potted plant, and Elroy was chasing a small beetle, which he ended up eating. June Baxter kept getting in trouble for climbing the screens. June is the busiest cat. I like to say she teaches shop at the local high school then works the night shift at the tomato processing plant.

I have to tell you about our cute cat Foxy. She's 11 years old, but she thinks she's the tiniest newborn baby. She has crossed eyes and a little stubby tail and she’s very fat; she looks like a giant hedgehog. I love her. Whenever I pick her up, she tucks up her feet and completely surrenders to being carried. She loves being carried and babied. She also likes lying in sunbeams. And when she runs to the food dish, she squeaks all the way.

Rob will say, “Foo Foo, you can run quietly, you know. You don’t need to be scared and make all those baby sounds.”

We call her Foo Foo and Fooey and Foois and Fooberry. On Saturday as we ate our Italian ices, she was rolling on her back on the warm porch floor, exposing her fat white tummy and squeaking.

On Sunday we harvested two and a half pounds of Swiss chard and 11 ounces of kale, and we pan-fried it for lunch. We had kale and chard, mashed potatoes, fake sausage, sliced mushrooms, smoothies, and iced tea out on the screen porch. (Carl sat at the table with us.)

Then we did some more gardening work. We planted two hills of zucchini and three clown peppers in the bed around the “barn” (our garage). And Rob trained all the blackberries up on homemade bamboo trellises. I planted some stevia in the barn garden, too, and Rob planted three Clemson Spineless okra around the edges of the main vegetable garden behind the house (along the little wire fence, all lacy and flowery now with spring peas).

In the evening we played ball with our cats, bouncing a high bouncer from one end of the huge, wide, airy hallway to the other. The cats were being so lazy, lying in the hall, watching the ball bounce by. “Hmm,” I said to them, “I suppose this is one of the reasons so many people are selling their cats and buying dogs.” But when Carl finally ran after the ball I was very encouraging: “All right, Carl!” I cried. “Way to hustle!”

His hustling lasted about two seconds.

Sunday's kale harvest

The newly repainted cast-iron furniture. That's Leroy napping on the windowsill.

Easter fun

Pretty, elegant Becky

Carl, such a marvelous beast

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