Friday, December 31, 2010

Thank you, Nana

Climbing on The Dad is good fun. He'll let me do this when I'm 6'4" and 210 lbs., right?

Anyway, one of my favorite presents [yesterday, during a diaper change, Iain said, "I need to open another present! Right! Now!"] was a little puzzle Nana sent. Dad helped me put it together.

It's Thomas the Tank Engine! I love Thomas. And Percy. And Bertie. And Emily. And trains in general. And cars. Trucks. Loaders. Diggers. Backhoes, Graders. Buses. Airplanes. Helicopters. Taxis. Really anything with wheels and an engine.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

A Little Something for Bart


Charles and I decided not to give each other gifts this year, but we still used our stockings. When you have awesome, sparkly, hand-embroidered stockings you need to use them.

In addition to my bottle of Scottish goodness (!!), I received these silicon pot holders. They fit over the metal handles of LeCreuset pots. Above, the ones for the rounded handles of my stock pot, and below the ones that fit onto the longer handles on skillets.

There's the enameled handle, and below, the same handle, wrapped in puffy silicon padding. Also, Iain decided to cook his new puzzle pieces. Like we always say: a dump truck tastes better after a quick fry in clarified butter. Everyone agrees.

And lastly, a little somefink for Bart. You know you love it when James T. Kirk gets naughty.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

It Won't Hurt a Bit, I Promise

Iain had his first visit to the dentist last week. Naturally, it snowed that morning. But whatever. Utahns know how to deal with snow.

The office was pretty great, as it turned out. They had a little room with risers for sitting and toys and a wall-mounted TV playing Despicable Me. When we retired to a private room (actually, semi-private. There was an adolescent getting his teeth cleaned next to us), they had flat screen TVs mounted on the ceiling, so you could lay back and watch the same movie while you submitted to a scrubbing.

Iain cried during the cleaning, but he permitted it. He opened his mouth, he didn't bite, and he calmed down as soon as it was done. He even allowed them to X-ray his teeth. It's weird to see his grown-up teeth in there. Weird.

Then we waited for the actual dentist, and Iain got a little fidgety. You just can't keep toddlers waiting. But eventually Dr. Someone arrived, and he proclaimed the need for braces (one day) and we got a goodie bag and left.

Iain loves that goodie bag. It had a toothbrush (with a character named Diego on it), a small tube of Crest Kids toothpaste (which he likes because it's sparkly), and a small soccer-ball colored SuperBall. We have not shown Iain what a SuperBall can do.

So that was that. Except that I guess he was inspired, because now he wants to brush his teeth all the time. This morning we sent him to wash his hands after brekkie and what did he do? Obsessively scrub his teeth (ok, he wets the brush, sucks off the water, then leans over and shouts "PIT!" and spits a little).

[A little context: as I write this, he's in his room, slamming blocks around, and singing, veryveryfast, "Muffin Man! Muffin Man! Muffin Man!" It's supposed to be Nap Time.]


Monday, December 27, 2010

Look UP!

Iain received a toy helipad with little cars on it. He was showing me the cars, and I tried to take his picture, but he kept staring at the floor. I said, "Look up!"

Uh, not exactly what I had in mind.

He really wants to show you those cars, but they're in his hands, see? So he'll hold them up, but you can't actually see them.

Anyway, more Christmas morning photos to come. We had a nice morning and are having a nice week in general. This afternoon we strolled down to the Post Office (temp: 39! Snow tonight and a high of 34 tomorrow!) and then back up the hill, enjoying a window of sunshine before more weather rolls in.

On Christmas Eve we headed down to IKEA to get lamps for my classroom, and this bedspread leapt into my bag:
Pretty cute, huh? Oh, and the sheets, too.

Saturday, December 25, 2010


Ooo! A box from Uncle Garner. Cars, cars, and more cars!

Yes, Dad, hand them all TO ME! P.S. They're modular. They break down and can be put back together and all interact. Whee!

Time to race. Dad, you go over there. Ok, Ready, Steady....Go!

It's a beautiful, sunny day here. We got up, went for a walk, then cleaned out the garage. Yes. Because that's what people do on Christmas, obvy. Then we changed Iain's sheets, dug out my skiing gloves, and zipped the liner into my trench coat.

We live an exciting life, here. Now Iain's refusing to nap (he just opened his bedroom door and let loose a very loud Bronx cheer), Charles is talking to his dad, and I'm trying to finish a PowerPoint for my lecture on The Plains Wars.


Friday, December 24, 2010

The Neighbors

Last night: knock knock. Our neighbor across the street. He bore a card and a little bag of home made caramels. Some are licorice caramels. That may sound gross, but I have to tell you that it's like a regular caramel, just barely kissed with a touch of Arak or Pastis. Delicious.

This afternoon: Ding Dong. Our neighbor next door. She gave us a small loaf of home made panetone.

This evening: knock knock. Our neighbor across the T-street - diagonal neighbor, I guess. Bearing? A bottle of Kentucky bourbon!!! So we invited him in for a drink, because...well, duh.

In other news, we've finally learned how to put Iain to sleep. You let him lay in the Big Bed, and you put on a Warren Miller movie about skiing and snowboarding. Ten minutes of "I want to do that!" and he's OUT.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Anxiety Dream

So I walk into a huge, ampitheatrical, arced classroom. As in, shaped like a boomerang, plus stadium seating. And there are maybe 200 students in there, all talking and stuff.

And I realize I'm supposed to give a pop quiz, but I made no copies.

So I grab a sheet and start picking questions from it. Someone else wrote the sheet. Some of the questions are ok, but I keep forgetting which ones I want to pick. And I write them on the board, so they can all take the quiz, but I realize that most of the board is already covered in notes. They're some other teacher's notes, and it says, "Do Not Erase!" No room for my questions.

Then about 50 more students walk in, all clumped in little groups. They're talking, so that's disruptive. And now I have to give them quizzes. But I'm not sure which questions I already used, and since I couldn't write them on the do I know what to give the new kids?

And they came in late. So should they get 10 minutes, or only 5? I dunno!

AND THEN, in walks my principal, with a set of parents and a member of the Board of Trustees. And they're all: "Teach!" and "Be brilliant and impressive!"

Remember that the room's a boomerang? So I can't see all the students, and they can't hear me. I keep walking back and forth, trying to bridge the middle hump, be seen, be heard...students start walking out.


You'd think I'd get a break from teaching anxiety dreams for the holidays. But you'd be wrong.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Good Work

But I don't want to go to bed!

It's been a good morning for customer service. I ordered Prozyme for the dogs at 10am. It just shipped (at 12:45). We went to Smith's for groceries, and helpful staff asked if we needed anything, then knew exactly where the toy cars were. And they had everything I wanted. And there was no line to check out.

Deseret Industries? Parking! Immaculately clean! Tons and tons of used blankets for sale for $1 each (Santa came early for Boris and Juno, who now have deliciously fluffy, warm beds)! The Post Office? Tidy and moving quickly, with a stamp machine that worked great.

Caputo's? We were greeted at the door by a student I know (best friend of Iain's babysitter). We found parking right behind the shop and they had freshfreshfresh local eggs, just like I like it. Iain was such a good boy I had to buy him a little Italian lemon cookie.

Whew! Lots of errands and absolutely no problems. Yay!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010


Observe. This is what happens when Charles, Devin, and Iain collide.

Charles and Devin went to the game store, see? And when they returned, they had two foam swords. Swords. Can you imagine anything dearer to the heart of a bloodthirsty toddler? No, I can't either.
Iain carried his sword around (as you can see above), not really observing the rules of pretend. I mean, if that were a real sword, and we're pretending it is, then he'd be holding the blade against his neck!

Also, notice what Devin's spelling?

Yeah. Iain spent that week running around yelling, "Chop!" and then whacking or being whacked with a sword. Good times.

Here, Devin is crouched and ready for an attack. Little does he know that the most dangerous of his enemies is...BEHIND HIM! Oh noes!

BTW, in case you worried that we were running low on sweets, we received more cookies today. Our friends Helga and Ed dropped by a beautiful box of biscotti, brownies, oatmeal cookies, Russian tea cookies, etc. And a good thing, too, because we were down to our last two boxes of cookies, one box of toffee, a bag of assorted truffles and a 2lb. box of dark chocolate ganache truffles. Oh, and one butterscotch candy cane. And some challah. And four huge pears.

But other than that, we were running out.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Those Cheeky Little Monkeys! Also: Yum.

One of my students made us a pie. Only when I unwrapped it did I find his message to me. So patriotic.

Another student descends from German immigrants. So every Christmastime, they bake braided egg bread:

It's truly, really, wonderful bread. Buttery, soft but with a great flaky crust, and utterly delicious toasted with butter.

The thank-you notes are in the mail tomorrow, but I had a hard time knowing what to say to some people. How many synonyms are there, for "Yum!"?

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Today, I Drop Things

Iain has learned to use the salad spinner. He asks to "make salad" frequently. Note that you simply must keep your phone at the ready when making salad. What if you need to call someone mid-spin?

1. My lunch. My entire lunch. Dropped on the floor.
2. Iain's dinner plate (post-semi-eating). I was supposed to put it on the counter in case he wants more later. Instead, I tipped it enough to drop the (ketchup-covered) fork onto my coat/scarf/counter top/floor. Joy.
3. The dishwasher detergent square, half-broken open. Onto the floor, a smear of blue-green goo.


Today was supposed to be about skiing. I was going up to Park City to stand at the bottom of a hill and ring a cowbell in support of several of my students. But Iain woke at 630, cranky and not-quite-right. Then Charles and I woke to yet another day of what Bart and Tony so cheerily call our lurgy. Half-nausea, half-just-not-rightness, no appetite, a sense of disconnection, that sort of thing.

So we stayed in the flats, despite a mid-day text from two of the girls, saying they'd "go faster" if I was there. Oh, the guilt.

He likes to make it spin really, really fast, then lock the top down.

Thursday, December 16, 2010


We learned via email that Iain's classroom will be getting 2 guinea pigs in January. So tonight as we walked toward Barnes and Noble, I asked Iain:

"Do you have any animals in your class?"
"Are you getting any?"
"What kind?"
"Uh...polar bears, I think."
"You're getting polar bears as pets for your class?"
"Yup." [very decisively said, too]

So there you have it. Stay tuned for photos.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Bodysnatchers Needed

We've just returned from a smashing little party, and are sprawled out in our jammies, watching Pingu.

Pingu's little sister, Pinga, just farted in the bathtub. These Swiss claymation artists are so, so trashy. That's why we love them.

Anyway, what a week this is. Monday, Iain puked. Tuesday, Charles and Devin went skiing. Today Devin departed, Courtney babysat, and we went to a grownup party. Tomorrow I have a holiday event for school, Friday we have dinner and a basketball game, then Saturday we're headed up to Park City to watch my ski racing students.

Yesterday a student asked me, "Is there a drink that can keep you awake for ten hours?" I told her no, but I understand why she wanted one...


Because...drum roll please...our girl Callie has a little sister!

We're a little late on this one, but the lovely Callie has been joined in her nest by a tiny sibling, Miss Reese. The new BabyBizzle looks a lot like Callie did, so we expect she may also grow up to be a gorgeous, small, version of her Auntie Suzie.

In any case, as much as we need an energy drink, I'm betting everyone at Chez Bizzle needs one even more. We wish we could be there to help with the early-baby-craziness.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Puking, Secession, Zombies. Not Necessarily in that Order

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
The South's Secession Commemoration
Daily Show Full EpisodesPolitical Humor & Satire Blog</a>The Daily Show on Facebook

Ah, Jon Stewart I do love you so.

In other news, today a student brought me an apple pie. And another one brought me cookies. And two more gave me a thank-you for chaperoning: a gift certificate for gelato. I think my students want to fatten me up.

Iain stayed home from school today because he threw up his breakfast. After a droopy morning, though, he took a good nap and had a nice evening. Our fingers are crossed for tomorrow to be healthier.

We're currently hosting Charles' high school roommate, Devin. The two of them have been skiing twice already at Alta and plan to spend tomorrow at Solitude. Devin's ski experience before Saturday? Zero. Devin's plan for tomorrow? Blue runs. In other words, as usual he's a natural. When they're not skiing, they're downstairs playing board games and watching sci-fi/zombie/girl hero butt-kicking movies.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells...

I can't attest to the quality of the product, but I am delighted by the approach. carries T-shirts with Ambrose Burnside's picture. And Thomas Nast cartoons of the mourning for Lincoln. And about a million other historical stuffs. On T-shirts. Because when you're a dork you want to fly that freak flag and fly it high, baby!

Psst! You can even get one with Charles Sumner's image on it. Not joking.

In other news, I chaperoned the Harry Potter-themed stomp (dance) last night. My job was to prevent shenanigans in the bathrooms. I proved wholly unnecessary, since everyone seemed to want to use the bathroom for its usual purpose.

Thursday, December 09, 2010


Look, Mom, it's Crazy Thursday!
Thursday. Who knew?

The day started at 2:38, when Iain got up and called for me. He wanted to "play quietly" with me in his room. No. Not at 2:41am, young man.

After two iterations of that, he wanted to come sleep with us. Fine. That meant one hour of him laying right up against me, poking my back with his elbow, then an hour or so of him sleeping like Pippi Longstocking (ie, head at the bottom of the bed, feet by our faces), followed by the last hour in which he cuddled right up against Charles' back and forced his father to the very edge of the bed. At 5:55 I just got up.

Iain to school, me to school, teaching, morning meeting, more teaching, then a lunch meeting with two unexpected revelations, more teaching, and more work. I had to explain to a student that while I am aware that 16-year-olds use the F-bomb, I don't think it's a great idea for him to do it loudly in the hall. He was all, "But it's you, not [the principal]" and I was all, "How do you know he's not in my room, meeting with me?" Doh!

Did I mention that today is the day the students decorate the school for the holidays? They spent 2 hours making an unholy ruckus while duct-taping (yes) strings of lights to the walls. And wreaths. And an entire tree in one hallway. It's festive, for sure.

Then to get Iain, then home. Mischief managed? Hardly!

First, Boris tracked in poo. So that meant a foot bath for him and a Total Immersion Scrub Down for the bathroom. Then it was laundry, kitchen, dinner, laundry, bath time, clean up the guest room for Devin, and bake a cake.

Yes, bake a cake. We have a social engagement tomorrow and I need something to bring. Apple cake, if you must know.

Now Iain's in his room (not sleeping) and I'm finally sitting down, apron still on, waiting for the cake to finish, to switch the laundry, to collapse into a torpor.

I don't know why people complain about Mondays. I'd take Monday back in an instant. It was easy.

Tuesday, December 07, 2010


"So, Iain, what will you dream about tonight?"
"What kind of hats" [Fool]
"Fireman's hats!!"
"Oh, of course."

Busy as usual around here. I finally got my hair cut - maybe 3 inches off, with nice deep layers to help it curl. And we have a dentist's appointment for Iain - it's his first so stay tuned for the report.

Tomorrow I will make an appointment with a new pediatrician, I hope. The plan was to accomplish this today, but after ten minutes on the phone giving demographic information

["Can you give me his social security number?" "No. He has one, but I don't have it on me and we're just making an appointment so you don't need that right now." "Can you spell that middle name?" "Xavier. X.A.V.I.E.R." "Ok, X.A.Z.I.E.R.??" "No." etc.]

the young lady revealed that - Oops! - she couldn't make an appointment because Dr. Awesome isn't taking new patients. Grr. We got a referral from another source and will try again tomorrow. After that, I have to beard the current doctor's office to ask for Iain's medical records to be sent. Given that we're moving pediatricians because we can't stand the staff at our current doctor's won't be pleasant, I think.

But my hair looks cute, so that's something.

Monday, December 06, 2010

Winter Garden

On Sunday we needed an outing. Needed it. So we headed up to Red Butte Gardens, where you can wander around smelling the pines and contemplating snow. Iain sat on the little wooden seats in the meditation pavilion:

It's child-sized, and in spring/summer the vines cover the walls and roof.

Iain was excited by it. He liked everything, though. The snow, the sunshine, the berries and foraging squirrels and dripping icicles all met with his approval.

Of course, he refused to nap that afternoon. But I'm not bitter. Not at all.

Saturday, December 04, 2010


Oreos are good because "Chocolate! They fell letters and had milk and cookies."

Also, Iain would like to help you clean the bathroom, but "I too busy brushing my hair!"

Friday, December 03, 2010

Educational Update

Iain's report card today said this:
Iain has finally come around to the idea of snow! He has not really played with it yet, but he was carrying an ice cube around with him today.
Learning, and growing, y'all. And ice cubes. Or something.

Soon, perhaps he'll be able to do this:

It's been a crazy week. We're out of food, I have three social engagements and at least five errands tomorrow, and Iain's laying in his bed (at 9:11pm), singing the alphabet song.

Wednesday, December 01, 2010


How about this cutey-patootie little video featuring a brief glimpse of our man in Milton Keynes?

LOVE HIM! And, hey - SmartCars are cute, too.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

My Fot!

Iain is learning to pronounce "sp." So far, it comes out as an "f" sound. As in:

"I wanna fell it!" he wants to spell something.
"This my fot!" That's his spot.
"I in you fot!" He's sitting in my spot in the bed, watching "ziggerzino" for the umpeenth time.

I remember, more than 25 years ago, sitting at the table with my elementary school principal. He had a toddler, and the little boy was at the head of that table, in his high chair. He babbled on endlessly, and honestly - we had no idea what he was saying. Yet his parents responded, answered questions, and generally seemed to comprehend his chatter.

Now we're the ones. He says, "I in you fot to watch episode! Actually." and we know just what that means: where he is, what he wants, that he's a bit conflicted about his selection.

Also: 9 degrees this morning. But I figure spring's just around the corner. Iain's snow boots arrived tonight, and using the Principle of Murphy's Law, we know that it will not snow again until he has outgrown them.

Bring on the bikinis!

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Snow Days

We finally got our "blizzard." It's not a blizzard, of course, but only 6 inches of snow, plus more snow tonight and a little more tomorrow.

If you're counting backward, yes. Yes. On the five days when I did not have to drive or go to work, it failed to snow. On the day before I return to work (and Iain to his school - perched atop a huge hill), it snowed. And snowed. And snowed.

Of course, Mr. Boy hardly cared. All the other kids on the street were sledding, snowboarding (on the neighbor's 4-foot yard), and generally making a ruckus. Our boy was all, "Oh. I have to put on my boots? Let's just stay inside and watch."

But it was a productive day anyway. I graded, I constructed some nifty new handouts for my students, I made chicken stock, and I even scooped off the driveway, sidewalks, and steps. Charles has a monstrous cold, so the idea of sending him out to shovel snow seemed mean.

And hey - burning calories means more dessert, right? Right.

Ultimately, everything's about dessert.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Black Saturday

Mommy, why don't I have any warm trousers?

Today we shamelessly used Thanksgiving and retailer desperation to our advantage.

We shopped. Both online and in an actual store (!). But here's the thing: it wasn't simply consumerism run amok. We shopped for things we need, that happen to be on sale because of the season.

For example: from The Children's Place (which is having a sale on fleece), we obtained for Iain 3 fleece sweaters, 2 pairs of fleece pants (on the weekend he likes to be totally cazh, y'all), and a pair of jeans with fleece lining.

Then we drove to Kid-to-Kid, where we got 3 fuzzy footie jammies and a fleece sweater with a bulldozer embroidered on it (!).

Next stop: Old Navy, where we got 2 pairs of trousers with fleece lining and one fleece hat (size XL, naturally).

Would pookie feel better with some fleece-lined jeans? Would he? How about a hat? It's black...your favorite...

Total, I don't think we spent $75. Whee! I love Christmas shoppers. They increase the sport while decreasing the price.

And next time Iain arrives at school just in time to build a snowman, he won't be the only kid out there freezing his hiney off.

P.S. I love the way that the 3 days after Thanksgiving include leftover apple pie. I think that's the best thing about the meal, for me.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Blizzard? Schmizzard!

Hey - is that sunshine on the kitchen counter? Sunshine? But I thought it was supposed to snow for 4 days! Or be a blizzard! Or something!!

Nope. Pathetic. No white-out conditions reached us. No particular snow accumulation, either. The 2-8 inches we hoped for turned into a scant 1 inch of dry, blowy snow. Meh.

On the plus side, Thanksgiving Day was gorgeously sunny. Blue skies, blazing light, and a sense of warmth. That is, so long as you stayed indoors. It was about 18 outside, but in our toasty cottage with its radiators and big windows, you could be forgiven for feeling like a bug in a rug.

Eventually, we gathered our things (one streusel-topped apple pie, one pan of roasted root veggies with sweet onions and thyme, two serving utensils, and one bag containing whipping cream, sugar, and cinnamon) and headed for V.'s house. There, it was Thanksgiving as conducted by people who LOVE vegetables. Not vegetarians, mind you. Vegetable lovers.

So there was a spinach gratin, a stuffing made with mushrooms, celery, wild rice and herbs, a bitter greens salad with sliced pears and candied pecans...oh and a big, bosomy turkey to help with all that vegetable goodness.

No sweet potatoes with marshmallows. No mashed white potatoes. No green beans in canned mushroom soup. Not that there's anything wrong with any of those dishes. But it was great to spend the meal with folk who never met a plant lifeform they didn't want to eat. Preferably with blue cheese and a nice Balsamic.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Blizzard Warning!

Weather update: We all came home early because of a Blizzard Warning! due to kick in at 5 or so and last until tomorrow.

In theory we should have had four days of steady snow. Instead, it snowed, then stopped. It's been 40 and calm. So I guess we're going to get all that snow tonight - maybe as much as 8 inches. And we've got 40mph winds with gusts of 60 to get us all warmed up.

Except...warmed up might not be the best description. Today? 40. Tomorrow? 18. With lows Wednesday of -4.


Chilly, Willy.

[EDIT: 5:27 pm I can see the storm coming. What do I mean? I am looking west from our dining room windows, and though I can see snow blowing in the street light, the air is relatively clear. BUT, if I look across to my neighbor's garage, I can see a wall of white moving toward us. You can't see anything past her garage. The lights of 13th are circles of light in a swirl of white. So. Snow!

Here's what the Weather Underground has to say (emphasis mine):
A blizzard continues to develop across northern Utah. At 4pm....the leading edge has moved east along Interstate 80 nearing the Tooele Valley...and south along Interstate 15 to North Ogden. Along and behind this line...heavy snow and continued gusty winds will create whiteout conditions...deteriorating roadways...with temperatures falling 15 to 20 degrees in the matter of minutes. These conditions are forecast to reach downtown Salt Lake City around 530 PM.]

Glumpy, Ploppy, Sloppy Snow

We awoke Sunday to this. 2-4 inches of wet, heavy, drippy snow on everything. It's the kind of snow that bends the trees until they break (indeed, we lost a big branch along the street and our neighbors lost a HUGE section of their Buckeye tree. Iain got to watch a city truck use chainsaws and a whisper chipper to break down the mess.).

But lo! What sky is that - down the valley to the southeast?

Blue sky. This place is so great. It snowed, then we saw blue sky, then it was grey again. Today: blue sky with big fluffy clouds. Wednesday they're calling for more snow. But in the meantime, we enjoyed the glimpse of sunshine.

In other news, today I got a little High School Flashback.

I sat down in the hall, beside a student to whom I had to break some bad news about an assignment. She took it well.

But when I rose, what did I feel on my hiney? A cool breeze. Too cool. Moist, even.

Turns out that what I took for a stain on the carpet was actually a big puddle. Of what? Who knows. I sat on my chair for an hour, waiting while my body heat dried my butt. Because that's all I need: to parade down the hall with a wet rear end.

Joy. I'd like it, someday, if I could hold a little dignity in my hands. Just for a while.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Suck It, Whigs

I just love LOLPresidents. Seriously - how much fun can one have with presidential history? A lot! Just don't ask about Taft and that bathtub.

Sunday, November 21, 2010


Yesterday afternoon, at the park. Toward the mountains, you could see a break in the clouds. But look the other way (west):

Ruh roh. That's not pretty. As it happened, we played for about 25 minutes, then just as we whisked Iain into the car the cold, soon freezing, rain started to come down.

By this morning, it was 4 inches of snow. This afternoon we're forecast to have 2-4 more, then 2 more tonight. Snow tomorrow. Snow Tuesday. Who knows where it will end?

Pics from this morning to come - stay tuned.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Fruit Tree Installation

Ok, so first I soaked my little saplings in a bucket of water. The advice booklet from Stark's says to soak for 4-6 hours and no more than 24. Mine soaked for 4 hours, barely.

I don't own a wheelbarrow (hint, hint), so I use a big tub. It's a tub I once used to ship my stuff from Massachusetts to Georgia - in 1993. Seriously. Anyway, I dug a nice hole using my spiffy new shovel (which made disturbing crackly noises on every third or fourth bite), and tossed the soil into the bucket.

Then I amended the soil a bit (peat moss, some leftover potting soil that had a little sand and a little vermiculite in it) and refilled the hole. As you can see, I put in a stake (leftover from when Charles executed the ugly shrub by the front porch) for support from the wind and I planted the sapling toward the back of the hole.

I tamped down the soil (gently) to stabilize the pole, and to eliminate big air pockets around the sapling.

Did I mention the worms? Yeah. Every scoop out of the holes wriggled. It was great. I'm excited about this garden now, because if it's chock full o'worms, then it's fertile and aerated. Whee!

Anyway, back to planting. Having filled the hole and (gently) tamped it down, I then put a 5-gallon bucket of half-decomposed leaves on as mulch. I made sure they didn't touch the trunks, and kept them from flying away by placing the chunks of sod on top (upside-down) as weights. Those are the dark brown bits you can see on the leaves, below.

The idea is that I'm going to espalier both trees, so I planted both right up against the fence. There's maybe 6 inches there, which allows for a good deal of trunk expansion. So I'm going to train the branches out across the fence as they grow, thus preserving the space of the garden but letting the tree grow in 2 dimensions.

The apple tree is a semi-dwarf. It will get 15 feet tall. The pear is a dwarf, so its eventual height is likely only 10 feet. I put the apple on the side of the garden where, once fully grown, it can give us a little extra privacy. The pear sits in an area where there's already a large tree for privacy.

I really wondered what the soil of the backyard would be like. It's a new yard, built with a retaining wall only 1 or 2 years ago. So I had no idea what to expect. But the shovel slid in easily, the soil was black and rich, the worms plentiful. I've got great expectations, now.