Sunday, October 31, 2010

All good things must come to an end

The usual freeze date in our neck of the woods is somewhere around October 8th, so I was feeling pretty lucky when we were still picking large bowls of tomatoes and peppers for almost 3 full weeks past then. We'd had a couple mild freezes before now, but gentle breezes and sheets managed to keep things alive.

This week, though, we had temperatures dip low several nights in a row, and even coverings couldn't save our plants. By Friday, everything was wilted and dying, and I bought a big pile of lawn bags to gather the carnage.

To give you an idea of what we plant, here's a picture of me standing in the middle (12 plants of different varieties) of one of our tomato beds in June.

Garden in June

Off to the left is another tomato and pepper bed, above and behind me are grapevines growing on our pergola (where our owls live).

For reference, I stand about 6'6", while our headless "scarecrow" clocks in at about 5"8" or so. If you've been reading my blog for any time at all, you know that we're kinda crazy about gardening and canning food, and the extended growing season gave us a couple more small harvests to work with.

Lonely scarecrow

The chives are still standing!

Here's the one big tomato bed (8x8 feet) after I pulled out all the dead plants this weekend. Standing solitary is our stylish scarecrow, which we affectionately call "Patrick" (after Patrick Batemen, of American Psycho), wearing his faded blue oxford (which was shredded and plundered in one place by a squirrel building a nest) and also-faded poly-blend pants.

The official end of summer has also brought me to my actual favorite season in terms of my wardrobe. I'll miss the fresh tomatoes and other produce that we've enjoyed for the past 5 months, but we have quite quite a few jars of sauce saved away in the basement and I'm excited to finally break out the tweeds and woolens.

I just hope this winter isn't as brutal as last.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Thread through the needle and the needle on the record

Over the course of the past two weeks, I've been easing myself back into doing some sewing. I took a class in high school ages ago, but other than repairing some buttons on a couple shirts, I hadn't picked up a needle and thread in earnest for quite some time.

My goal was to start out simple, and with that I decided that re-hemming pants would be the way to go. I have a stack that I've collected over the course of the past six months or so that needed work, and finally decided to wade in.

the sewing corner

Bonus points to the first person to recognize the record at the front of the stack :)

This is the area that I've set up in the corner of one of our bedrooms, and it works out pretty well. I have a portable Crosley record player off to the side of my desk and a stack of LPs leaning against a chair (where I sit a glass of wine and a glass of water). In starting back at it, albums have worked best for me simply because my hands aren't used to the acute motions of moving the needle and thread in such a focused way. It's good to have the small breaks of flipping the record over every 25 minutes or so to re-focus my eyes and wiggle my fingers a bit.

pile of pants

Vintage emerald green Izod Lacoste pants is just the start

The stack of pants on the table represent, from top to bottom, the level of difficulty at which I plan on progessing. On the top are 6 pairs of pants to re-hem, of which I've already finished 2.

Below that are 4 pairs of pants that fit my waist perfectly, but are far too short in the inseam. I plan on cutting them off and making them into nice pairs of shorts for next summer, if for no other reason than it will hopefully break me out of my self-conscious habit of never wearing shorts, no matter what the temperature.

At the very bottom of the pile is a great pair of pants that require what will be a fairly large alteration in that they need the waist taken in approximately 2-3 inches. They're absolutely beautiful pants that I got for a song ($1), so I figure I'm not out much if I screw them up, and I can always take them to a real tailor if I still want to try to wear them.

(I know I mentioned in my last post that I was going to launch a new feature this week, but it's going to have to wait one more week, as it requires me taking a few photos that I haven't gotten around to yet. It'll happen soon, I swear.)

Monday, October 25, 2010

Scavenging the scavenged

This past weekend, I saw that there was an estate sale going on at a house in a nice area of my city, but put off going as it was on the opposite side of town from me and none of the clothing sizes listed seemed like they would fit.

Through sheer luck, I happened to be in that same area on the second day of the sale (when everything was 50-75% off), and decided to swing in just for the heck of it. I was immediately bummed that I hadn't gone a day early.

First up, I found not only 6 great belts, but a nice little wooden and brass hanger to hold them (and others which have been hanging over doorknobs in my bedroom).


When I got home, I realized that the two on the right were too small for me, but I think they'll fit a friend of mine (holla skoolbus39!).

At any rate, I also found the eternal accessories, which fit regardless of clothing size; Yes, that's right, I bought more ties.

repp ties

First up is a couple nice repp ties. Both vintage and 100% silk.

repp tie close up

This one in particular caught my eye due to the bad-ass tag. Royal Irish 4th Dragoon Guards? Damn!

Obviously, they weren't out wearing silk neckties on the battlefield, but the color scheme is based on their uniforms. Like I said above, pretty cool.

4th Royal Irish Dragoon Guards uniforms

At any rate, I also found the two following knit ties. The burnt orange one is 100% wool and the chunky maroon knit is 55% mohair and 45% wool. I can always use more of these.

knit ties

Total spent at the sale was $6, with some pangs of sadness that I hadn't hit it a day earlier. If I had been a shorter fellow, I could have made out like even more of a bandit, as there were still loads of Sero oxfords, wool sweaters, and other interesting items for $1 - $2 each. Crazy times.

After hitting the sale, I came up with an idea for a feature that I'll plan on launching sometime later this week on this site. It's going to be a bit more community-based and I think it will be pretty fun. Stay tuned. You'll want to.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Feeling superstitious

I don't consider myself a person that believes much in luck, and I'm pretty much a non-superstitious person in general. The past two months, though, nature has caused a little skepticism to creep into my mind.

Roughly sixty days ago, we noticed that four owls had take up residence in the grape vines that grow up and through a pergola directly behind our house. The same day we noticed them, a rather exciting event took place in our household (which I will talk about in some other post in the future). Many days, we would go outside and say a few words to the winged creatures, and they would give us small head tilts in response.

For a few weeks, they disappeared.

Then, on the exact day that my wife had a job interview, two of them had returned.

Screech owls

We did a little research and discovered that they are Screech Owls, and have even heard them make their distinctive calls several nights when our windows have been open (before fall allergy season truly kicked in).

The two owls have stuck around, and we've gone back to walking out and saying a few words to them nearly every day while they sit and peer at us, seemingly gaining in lucidity as the days move towards dusk and they their feeding time.

Screech owl 1

Screech owl 2

At this point, we're trying to think of a good place to put an owl box, as we think it would be great to have them in the area for hunting pests and just hanging out.

Also, they may very well be good luck.