Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Day 11 of 16

I had such high hopes for today, Garden Blitz Day 11; it started overcast and cool with precipitation expected in the evening, just our kind of gardening day. I expected I could get the veg patch done and Ben could weed most of the next patch, then we could prune tomorrow, and that's the end of this section which is the easiest part.

Alas, it started raining before lunch. We kept going awhile but it got heavier so Ben went inside for a shower; we were going to the hardware store, again, and the much-needed grocery shopping. By the time Ben came out of the shower the rain stopped, and it was like that for the rest of the day. We ran errands, we had to because we were digging into the last of frozen veg with only onions and garlic left of the stuff. But we forgot milk.

Today I put in three hours before the errand, three on errands, then two more in the garden, but managed only a third of the veg patch; I'm putting the empty part of the veg patch soil through a sieve, (remember my clover problem?)  and that is taking a long time, not the sieving part, but picking out the tiny bulbs and returning the very fine bark pieces back into the soil part.


Ben's home for five more days. At this rate, we would be lucky if we can get these two top parts of the garden done. Forget getting rid of the massive amount of garden waste we can't compost, (weed bulbs, vines, we need a garden skip,) forget the garage, forget any inside job. Just those two little bits. It would have been nice to have one whole day off, perhaps a late lunch and then the cinema, but we had a leisurely first week and this week have been working leisurely, and now we have momentum so we hope to keep this up. 

Weather permitting.
Which is very strange because the view in front of our house and behind us looked like this, actually a little darker, but we didn't get rain while Ben was cooking dinner; steamed green-lipped mussels. It felt silly, but I watered the one tomato, three basil and three lemongrass seedlings before I came in.

We also ran into Ali and John in the garden section of the hardware store; they split their time between Nelson and Germany living perpetually in warm part weather; it dawned on me tonight we could swap places so I could chase the cold weather. If only I liked smaller looms! Ali said she cannot leave comment here, so at least it's not just me. Nor her. I can't figure this out. Can you?

Monday, November 24, 2014

Summer has Officially Arrived

Garden Blitz Day 9, yesterday, was the first "full" gardening day. Although I dithered in the morning and we didn't get out until 11.30, we put in nearly five hours in the sun and wind and finally began pruning taller trees and some of the ivy.

As I said, summer arrived Saturday afternoon. Though we have wind, it's not the horrible gusty blustery kind, but a nice sea breeze and it doesn't go on all day. Afternoons are headache-inducing bright, and when still the bugs come out; my allergy meds aren't coping, so we best to start early and come in for late lunch.

GBD10, today, I got up late and dithered so we didn't go out until 10.30 but we still put in three hours, and created some visual impact. We also had procedural disagreement so I sulked and weeded another part; Ben said he didn't hear me, and though I know he doesn't lie, I don't believe him.
This is the view from my kitchen sink. Ben thinned a tall camellia to the right by about one-third; you can see the top of it and the Dwayne's tree. The sorry-looking lemon was pruned several times over the last three years by me; this used to be roughly twice as tall and three times as wide and we could only collect the few lemons at the bottom and got no sun on the patio; this tree is expected to come back to life next autumn/winter, but if not we'll still keep it for the foliage but will keep it small. The grapefruit that is not grapefruit but great citrus for juicing and marmalade was pruned by Ben. The ivy is one meter deep in front of the retaining wall. You can see I love my purple hellebores where they are because I can look up into the flowers. I'm going to move the fragrant yellow shrubs, (relative of Erica? These grow up to be over a meter,) so I can see the hellebores better. The path between the yellow shrubs and the hellebores/heucheras is where we have some of the the worst weedy vine problems.
To the left you see, or don't see, Ben having successfully removed some of the ivy, plus the now-one-third-as-tall, pale "lemon" tree, (it's called that but not citrus-related,) closer to the corner of our property; it's the same kind as the one closer to us. We hadn't seen the sky from our kitchen in possibly half a dozen years and we were taken aback by how wonderful it is. We may take down the red akeake, (you see the trunk,) because it's a little top heavy and doesn't do much other than to drop leaves on to Neil's carport roof.

Everything we pruned were spread on the bare parts of the slope; it looks messy but by the end of the summer we can stomp, flatten, and leave to mulch. The not-as-thriving back half of the alstroemeria patch was decimated in the process, but I put in two sachets of seeds every autumn anyway, and with the increased sun, it should look alright next summer. I'm putting in sunflower seeds tomorrow. And the short camellia I pruned by about two-thirds.

This small area, about 1/5 of our property, is going to require another two days to clear; this may be the only area we'll get to blitz this holiday, and we haven't done anything inside the house. Still, this is where we can see from the house so it will have been worth it. 

I'm working on the veg patch tomorrow, while Ben continues with the ivy. though he just told me he might work somewhere else for a change. 

Saturday, November 22, 2014


Garden Blitz Day 7, yesterday, we managed to weed the only area of our garden readily visible from the house, for about three hours. It's a small area I work on most often but is in need of longer-term weed-and-Blackbird-and-gravity combating measures. The day started out overcast and cool so it was nice for us, but the soil was bone dry and most weeds broke off, but at least we got the vines growing around other plants off. This is where I've put a lot of purple hellebores and heucheras in the past couple of years; half a dozen heucheras were dug up by a family of blackbirds that nest in our tree, as well as a tiny mandarin tree, but I'm hoping I was able to save two heucheras; the good news is, there were quite a few hellebore babies that self-seeded, and I hope to spread them more evenly next autumn.

GBD8, today was going to be rain. We had some early on and I was looking forward to a gentle, quiet reading day, but from late morning it's been a full-blown Nelson summer day with brilliant sun. And wind.
I sampled the rethreaded brown warp, and am not crazy about it. For one thing, if I were rethreading the entire warp, (which I did,) I could have chosen any draft instead of fine-tuning the two-faced twill originally intended to pleat, but I thought too late. But I did think to sample another weft, so I tried a black 100% merino and a gray possum/merino/silk, and the merino part feels better. (The colors in the photo are totally off, because it's directly under a lamp.)

I don't know what's wrong with me but I can't seem to match the number of warp ends in this warp and on the draft; the first one, I had eight leftover; this one I was short five, and I'd like to modify the two sides once again before proceeding.

But heck, this is an itchy, sticky warp. I can't stop scratching my face while working. I remember suspecting this and didn't order a lot, just enough for projects to be used with yarns in my stash. I have another small lovely gray cone, and a bigger navy cone; these colors are wonderful. 

Thursday, November 20, 2014


Garden Blitz Day 5, yesterday: I was up at 5AM, listening to the dawn call of the birds. The sky started to lighten at around 5.20, and for half a minute I contemplated spraying the weeds, in the dark, before the wind picked up. Silly me, I went back to bed.

We had sun, we had clouds, we had gusts, and we had "oh, my, if it were warmer this would be a tropical storm," while Ben went into town to check the PO box. We also had tolerable wind so I changed my pants to go out and the rain returned. We spent 3/4 of the day looking towards the west and figuring out and revising what gardening/cleaning tasks we could do, while squeezing in small jobs like making yogurt, Kombucha, a no-bake choc slices that failed miserably, and revitalizing the sourdough. We were exhausted. At 3PM I stomped downstairs to rethread the brown warp but it was so cold I only lasted two hours and managed only half. What a day!

Garden Blitz Day 6, today. We were expecting the sparky who couldn't come on Tuesday because the fittings hadn't arrived. (They warned us well ahead of time.) Because the kitchen and the basement workshop concerns me and the garage Ben, we both hung about awkwardly being available to Isaac; I considered weeding in the gust but sometimes Ben is hesitant approach tradesmen, or I so feel, so I stuck around. Silly me. I never know what's the right thing to do at times like these, or to be quiet or chatty. 
But look! I have better-looking, fully-functioning, no-longer flickering, LED lights, which Ben has directed in the right direction and will allow me to work longer without causing headaches, and there are only tiny holes in the ceiling which can be filled and painted over easily. By a taller person than me. I may even reconsider a better smoke-detector solution; to the left of the picture is our downstairs shower and the detector goes off with the steam so Ben took out the battery some years ago.
And Ben's getting better lights in the garage which has been his workshop since I took over his space with the big loom. (Our garage is normal height; Isaac is exceptionally tall. And lovely.)

I hope we can work in the garden on Garden Blitz Day 7. But for now, I'm going downstairs to finish rethreading.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Well, Yes

Garden Blitz Day 4; we went out too late and the sun, heat and the gust was a bit much, but we did work for three hours, cleaning one area and stacking all the disparate firewood in one place, well out of the way of other blitzing. And I weeded the flower pots. For the Garden Blitz week, it's a non-event, and we spent much too long for the job, but I'm glad we did it, as it marks a start and makes some later jobs easier. Sorry, no dramatic before/after pictures.

We are trying to go outside earlier so we can work comfortably and perhaps more efficiently.

Small "yay"???

Monday, November 17, 2014

A Little Overwhelmed and Plenty Pleased

Garden Blitz Day 2 didn't work out; I took too long to fix the Japanese blog, so Ben started preparing stew for dinner;when I finished, he hadn't, so I ironed; when he finished, I hadn't, so he made lunch. By the time we finished a very late lunch, it was too late to start a big clean up. (Not a good place to leave a bunch of stuff out overnight.) And we really were exhausted from the gale. Then the hoarding telly started and I didn't even go downstairs to rethread the brown warp. Bad, bad Meg. 

GBD3 started dark and windy, then light and gusty, then dark and showery, then still and misty. Then heavy rain, then sunny and still, then dark. It's incredible how the rain knows when Ben is outside; even in the sixty seconds he took out food scraps to the compost bin, it poured, but not before, not after.

This morning while I was cleaning the coffee maker, I got a message from Peter of Page & Blackmore saying Liz brought in a bag of merino so come and get it. Huh?? The sentence made sense but did he intend to ring me? But they did have a big heavy bag in the back office for me! 
I know merinos are big but I'm not sure if all this came from just one animal. That's not poo but a bit of native tree bark. The white parts are snowy-greasy-lovely with cute crimps. Thank goodness I have Dot to guide me, (I hope she will guide me), so I can finally do something many of you have done and most Kiwi weavers do with their eyes closed; start from this stage and end up with a woven article. This is Liz. I've got to think of a special Thank You.

Tomorrow a sparky is coming to replace the florescent lights downstairs with a third set of for-halogen fittings and LED bulbs. My basement workshop is not that old; I can't remember when we had it finished but sometime this side of 2000, and it went though two sets of halogen fittings in quick successions because they overheated. But florescent lights and I never got along; I can see it flicker, so we're getting a third set. If the fittings are compatible with LED, (apparently for some fittings LED bulbs are too cool, which may be a problem for most of our fittings upstairs,) they should be the last set. We've belatedly started replacing our other lights with LED, for the time being only the most used ones. But I like the idea of cooler lights and less energy; I'm so fussy about the color and Ben needs to keep trying different kinds until I approve. Poor guy.

Sunday, November 16, 2014


Day 2 of Garden Blitz and we are inside; the wind feels worse today than yesterday so we're cleaning the storage under the stairs, the place we clean the least often but with great potential if we can manage getting rid of some stuff. Yet Nelson doesn't have the strong wind warning so I can't imagine what it's like elsewhere; suffice it to say, our chimney has been vibrating all morning.

I managed a few new posts on my Japanese blog about modifying 8-shaft drafts because Mom's two students started really reading, understanding, and modifying drafts. I also edited 3 of the 4 old posts I wrote in 2011 after hiding them a year and a half ago.

The more I learn about Japanese weaving and textiles, albeit terribly passively/reluctantly, I learn/confirm each word is loaded with information/specification/nuances. For example, the word for twill, 綾 (aya), in the first instance means a 1:2 twill. Or 2:1. Because I learned weaving in New Zealand, I don't know Japanese weaving jargon to start with, but I've been lazy about learning and have been writing cutsy posts, more or less mechanically "translating". Which doesn't work with Japanese, and truth be told, with most/all languages. 

Two of the most dire have been the words for warp and weft. (I know! Rolling eyes, yes?) Although they are homonyms, 縦糸 and 横糸 are wrong, they only mean vertical and horizontal threads; 経糸 and 緯糸 are correct, these are warp (ends) and wefts. I knew this, yet somehow some time in the past I decided to uniformly use the wrong pair! For many other words I just used the English words to avoid embarrassment. (And wait for it... Eyes rolled sufficiently they are back in their normal position.)

I only posted a little over 200 posts on my Japanese blog in the eight and a half years; 10% of Unravelling, but darn it, I tend to mention warps and wefts a lot, so I've been correcting those two this morning.

My Japanese blog has virtually no readership and I did it for Dad's benefit. Then when I learned Mom started teaching in 2010/11, I tried to come up with interesting/informative bit as best I could. In the last couple of years, however, I made friends with some professional textile folks in Western Japan, three of who are Facebook friends, and though I doubt they read my blog, both my blogs' updates feed into my Facebook profile, so I don't want to appear the sloppy idiot that I am. Until they meet me in person.

Right, back to it, then.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Postscript and Thank You

What did I tell you, it's Ben's first day off and supposed Day 1 of Garden Blitz, but it rained what felt like all night, and now it's so blustery to do much, though I might still weed a bit. However, he's had time to do a temporary fix on water-pipe-joint leaking above the ceiling that appeared suddenly yesterday afternoon. He's playing with his car in the garage now, and we have to go to the hardware store so I might get tomato, basil, and hot pepper seedlings.
Oh, the photo shoot. Truth to tell, when we we looking at couches two and a half years ago, "being able to act as an easy backdrop to textile closeup pics" was one of my criteria, and it doesn't disappoint, though our imprints are getting harder to hide. What you don't see here, to my right, is also the ironing board and three kinds of lint removers, none of which worked well enough for a photo shoot.

I found lighting extremely difficult, and kept closing and opening the curtains in the middle of the afternoon. In today's climate, I wouldn't blame my neighbors if they thought I was signaling a sinister co-conspirator the old fashioned way. I should have tried it earlier in the day by the front door; for years I attributed that good light to the specific time of day, but now I wonder if it's the ugly corrugated plastic roof on the patio diffusing the light. I must experiment in the afternoon to see if it still works well there.  

Once I am prepared, like many things I do enjoy a good photo shoot and get right into the tunnel-visioned mindset. With digital, it's so easy, cheap, and instant but the the downside is I take so many and it's hard to know which ones are good/bad.

My rant here and at Kaz's notwithstanding, we now have so many tools at our disposal we really we can make of "it" what we like, or "then" if we like, and instead of complaining, I should see and explore the possibilities with an open mind. (And take notes, because I know I won't remember.)

In terms of organizing, I wished I came up with the name earlier, (until the very last minute, it was going to be "The Photo Thing" or I was going to steal Laura's "Beauty Shot";) also the guidelines reads cumbersome and I apologize. The idea had been brewing for over a year and I thought I ironed out all niggles before I posted, but it was more my frustrations/dread with/of "new", "many" and "easy" coming to the fore. Just know that everything I cook up, the guidelines are guidelines and you are free to deviate in most respects.

Thank you very much, always, to all who participated and/or visited Picture-Perfect. And there is still plenty more time if you want to jump in.