Sunday, October 26, 2008

Finished Coldframe

We finished the cold frame this weekend. My sweet pea seeds have arrived, so I'll be planting those in a week or so. I got three old fashioned types; Black Knight (maroon), King Edward VII (bright red), and Cupani's Original (purple & blue - a lot like Matucana). I'm still considering whether I want to put a layer of bubblewrap inside the coldframe or not. Just have to see how things go. The sweet peas are my test case for seedlings. If they don't survive the coldest part of the winter, I can always plant more in January. That should give them enough time to form a good root system before I plant them out in May.

Otherwise, I'll be putting my potted holly bush in there, and maybe a few other things - like the gladiolus bulbs I need to dig up soon :).

Friday, October 24, 2008

I Have Voted, Have You?

Well, hubby and I got our voting done yesterday at the County Elections office. Got the sticker and everything. Nice to have that done with. Now I can ignore more of the ads and media reports. I'll still read some of them - I've subscribed to email alerts from the Washington Post and Slate Magazine. And can be addictive, even though I know polls are not always a good predictor of the result.

But in all my internet crawling to read about the issues and politics, I did find an interesting web-site about the Single-Payer system of health care:
It does a pretty good job of explaining how it could work, including a fairly clear description of what socialized health care is, and isn't. Having lived in England for six years, I am somewhat familiar with the "socialized medicine" model - and the Single-Payer system proposed on this website is not that.

Anyway, I'm happy to have the voting thing over with. Now I can start counting the days until the political ads go away. As for how the voting goes on Nov 4th - well, it should be an interesting day.

Monday, October 20, 2008

A Cold Frame!

Ken and I built most of a cold frame yesterday. We figured the lumber wrong, so ran out before we could get the last door made. But that won't take long once we get another couple boards. The things that look like orange buttons are roofing nails. We had a bucket of them left from when the roof was done, and they seemed perfect for tacking down the plastic sheeting. I've never used a cold frame made with plastic before, so we'll have to see how it holds up, and I don't know how well it will keep out the cold. So this winter will be a test.

I've ordered some sweet pea seeds to grow through the winter. I've done that before and had good results, but that was in England. It gets hotter here in summer, so by the time Spring-planted sweet peas get to blooming, they don't like the weather. I hope by starting out with over-wintered plants I can get flowers during the cooler part of summer, late May or June. We'll see.
I'm also wondering how pots of bulbs will do in there. Last time I tried to plant a pot of tulips in fall, the pots got frozen and the bulbs were destroyed. I might need to get bubble wrap if I try that. One more layer of insulation to wrap around the pot so the bulbs don't get frozen.

We bought some wild bird seed this weekend, so I'm hoping we'll get some interesting avian visitors soon. It will take them a while to find the feeder, as we haven't had seed in it for a long time. Partly because the cat figured out how to hide out of view below it and leap up to get birds who land on the feeder. I've actually seen him do this successfully.

You can see the perennials in my front beds hanging on in the cold. It's been chilly lately, with only light frosts. I think some of the plants actually like this and use the time to build up again for the winter. It will be interesting to try the "Chelsea Chop" on some of them next Spring and see how that works.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Nyckel Harpe in My Living Room

What a whirlwind week it's been. Our friend (who is of Norwegian descent) managed to get the Norwegian folk group, Vestafor, to come to Boise. They were here for three days. And what a packed three days it was.

On Wednesday we had them at our house for a Norwegian music workshop. We learned about a few basics of Norwegian folk music, like cross tunings, rhythms, and regional variations. We also got to hear and see some of the instruments; nyckel harpe, button accordion and hardanger fiddle.

As a relatively geographically-isolated country, Norway has a long, uninterrupted history of folk music and dance. It feels and sounds very alien to the more central European styles we're used to. One difference Toby pointed out is that while in most traditions the dancers tailor the music to the dance, in Norwegian culture the fiddler is in control. Time signature, tunes and length are all a matter of the fiddler's taste. Many tunes are put together from two-bar building blocks and then variations are added. Many dances are done in couples. The dancers listen and vary their dance figures to fit what they hear. So it is rare to hear the tunes played exactly the same way from one time to the next, and the same for the dances.

The members of Vestafor, Toby, Ginny and Mikkel, not only play the music, they also know many of the folk dances that go with the music. On Thursday there was a dance workshop. We tried a bunch of different dances, some simple, and some so much more complicated we only could touch on the very basics. I managed to remember at least two of the easy mixers that I plan to teach my SCD class. I'd like to try more but one limitation is choosing the correct music - and I just don't know enough to do that.

Last night there was a concert and dance. Vestafor did a wide variety of different regional tunes and varied their instruments as needed, including willow flute and mouth harp. The second half was the dance. Most of the audience got up to try things. Those of us who'd gone to the workshop on Thursday got to review what we'd learned and more. It's energetic dancing, but lots of fun. We're all looking forward to having them back next year.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Winter Is Icumen In

Wow, what a difference in the weather since last weekend. It was rainy, but we hadn't had any frost yet. Over the last week we've had at least three nights below 32F. Evidently parts of Boise got snow during the week but we didn't. We're not at the edge of the Snake River ravine, but we're on the next "shelf" north of it. Sometimes that seems to make it cooler here, and sometimes I wonder if it's just my imagination :). The storms that blow in from the west and southwest either pass over us without doing anything, or they hit our part of the area harder than further east and north. My tomatoes are gone, as are the beans and (wah) the orange cosmos. I'm glad I cut a few more before they were blackened.

The peppers are struggling, but I've been covering them with a sheet every night, and so far they're making it. There are still at least six peppers that could get a bit riper. This afternoon I roasted a bunch, some red and some green. The greens were smaller ones that fruited late. So they were at the top of the plant and their stems were hit with the cold in spite of the sheet. I figured it was better to take them now, instead of letting them go bad. Most of them roasted up fine, so that was nice. I have five portions of roasted and peeled peppers in the freezer now.

The cool thing is that the lettuces and arugula are just fine. In fact, some of the fancy mustard and cabbage leaves are coming back. So we have plenty of greens. I still haven't pulled up the parsnips, but there's no rush. I think you can leave them in the ground until you need them.

The other funny thing was hubby heard egg-laying noises on Wednesday afternoon, so he went out to check on our hens. He had a look in the smaller coop, which they usually don't go into. Sure enough there was one hen sitting on a new egg. Then he found a dozen more, all green ones from the Arucana hens. Hard to say how long those had been there. We've been assuming for months that they were eating their eggs as soon as they laid them. Probably some of them still are, but evidently the two Arucanas aren't! So we have a dozen eggs. We've been cracking them one by one into a small bowl - just in case! So far, so good. Eggs last a surprisingly long time.

We're having a nice quiet weekend, but the week is going to be busy. On Wednesday a Norwegian fiddle group, Vestafor, are giving a hardanger fiddle workshop at our house. It will be fascinating, even if I am pretty much a lapsed fiddler. On Friday they're doing a concert in Nampa that we'll go to.

So lots of tidying and cleaning to do if strangers are coming here. Better get busy!

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Snow Already??!

This is Tachy on the day of See Spot Walk, wearing his Humane Society bandanna. We had a picture taken in the booth as well, by the Idaho Statesman photographer. He looked great, but I look about 70! Not a nice photo of me.

Tonight is a freeze watch, and we're advised to cover any vegetables we don't want ruined by frost. I'll pick what I can of the raspberries and cover the peppers. There's plenty of them half-ripe that would benefit from more time on the plants. The other stuff will just have to make it or not. I hope the orange cosmos is ok. I'm really enjoying them.

Frost is good news for the parsnips, as they're supposed to taste better after going through a freeze. I guess we'll see!

Although a freeze before the end of October is pretty typical here, the other weather warning is snow! By the weekend the snow level is supposed to drop to 3500 feet, with some rain and snow mix in the valleys. So it probably won't stick, but still! I think the earliest snow I've seen is a dusting on Halloween morning the first year I lived here.

So looks like I'll be out shopping for horticultural fleece this afternoon.