07.01.2015: I guess it's been longer than I thought since the last time I posted. Thought I had published the entry below but I find that I haven't. Might as well update everyone (all 3 of you...hi mom!) on the garden and life.
The garden is hanging in there. It's not doing as well as I had hoped, but it's doing better than my gardens in the past have done AND most of it has survived the wet summer we've had thus far. The broccoli didn't really make it (save for a rogue broccoli plant that sprung up well away from the actual garden), nor did my peppers. But the lettuce is growing like mad, as are the sage, the cilantro, the basil, and the wildflowers. My beans started off well and even produced a few pods, but never really took to the teepee I built for them and then just kind of puttered out after that.
Aside from the seeds I planted the volunteer crops are doing well: strawberries for weeks, carrots, wild garlic, black walnuts...all are doing well! And the weeds are doing fantastically! It took us a while to track down a reasonably-priced riding mower that was in decent condition and I've spent the better part of 2 weeks using the little free time I have to try to get the 'tweeds' (tree/weeds) under control. I rarely have enough time to tackle the front yard, the backyard, and the side yard in total so I usually hit one. By the time I get all three mowed the first one is looking shaggy and in need of a trim again. Thankfully I really enjoy getting on the rider and just mowing.
Our menagerie has grown as well: in addition to the pups, we acquired two kittens that are going to help keep the rodent population under control as well as a hedgehog and a Beta fish. The hedgie was something The Girl has wanted for a while and a friend was moving and needed to rehome hers so we took her. It's taking her a while to get used to us but she's coming along well. The kittens are wonderful little hunters and spend their time hunting dragonflies, houseflies, grasshoppers, crickets, and cicadas. We'll be installing a pet door soon to allow them in/out access now that they are bigger and no longer likely 'owl bait'.
Work is keeping me busy - busier than I expected and I'm struggling to find a balance. This summer has been cooler than expected and I find that one of my favorite times of the day is in the evening when I head out to water the garden: the air is warm and still, the lightning bugs are firing, the cicadas are singing, and occasionally I catch a whiff of honeysuckle or some other flower blowing on the breeze. It is heavenly. I am still learning what trees we have on the property and just last month discovered that I have an apricot tree growing! When I was a kid, my dad hung my first swing (a plank of wood and 2 ropes) from the apricot tree that grew in the backyard. It came down in a windstorm (it was diseased) while I was still a kid and I missed that tree so finding one in my backyard now made my heart smile. We also have maple, oak, catalpa, sycamore, crab apple, box elder, redbud, elm, and probably more than I can't identify yet. It's wonderful and I fall more in love with the property each day.
I have managed to carve out a little time to do something soley for myself - I've gone back to jiu jitsu. While The Girl is at practice, I get to go roll. It feels SO good to be back on the mat. I am rusty and feel like I'm starting from scratch, but my instructor has the patience of Job and I'm slowly progressing. I'm within striking distance of my second white belt stripe so I set my goal of obtaining my blue belt by Christmas. It's more than doable but only because I've managed to carve out consistent time to roll. Once school starts and The Girl's swim practice schedule changes, that might be more challenging but I will find a way. After that, I can start working toward my purple belt. Right now, one step at a time: 2nd stripe, 3rd stripe, blue belt test.
That's all for now. There's more - there's LOTS more - but I don't want to overwhelm everyone.
Driving home from work today, you can almost feel spring ready to burst forth. Most of the trees are still bare but it looks like there is a mist of green floating among them. The trees in our backyard are so close to budding but they just aren't quite there yet. The potential energy in those buds could probably power a small city, or so it seems.
My seeds are planted - well, most of them. There are some that won't be started for another few weeks. I decided to buy some fluorescent lamps and start them indoors in the hopes that my garden sees greater success than it has in the past. Something about being in the Heartland that makes me want to grow stuff. Right now, I have seeds going for broccoli, lettuces, peppers, a bunch of herbs, peas, bush beans, and a bunch of different flowers designed to attract butterflies and hummingbirds. Later on, I will plant seeds for watermelon, sunflowers, more herbs, carrots, and tomatoes (though I suspect I will wind up buying starts because I rarely have luck growing tomatoes from seed). I also planted 2 raspberry plants and a blackberry plant and I'm currently rooting a pineapple top. All of this is to go with the blueberries, garlic, and black walnuts that I have found to grow on our property. We shall see what this harvest winds up looking like!
Work and school have kept us quite busy - to the point that we're not even fully settled into the house yet. I have no idea how families with two working parents (full time) manage to do it. I'm only working a little more than 1/2 time and I'm slammed. Granted, I'm also spending additional hours per week running kids to various activities, and overseeing homeschooling so that probably puts me beyond full-time but I still find myself very much behind the 8-ball in terms of settling in and getting projects done around the house. I am hoping to get back on the mat with Jiu-Jitsu soon and I'm still not quite sure where I am going to shoe-horn that in to my schedule. Nor do I know how I am going to help run a youth group either. But it will get done one way or another.
Being back here this time around is kind of weird. Because we're no longer military and don't plan on going anywhere any time soon (*knocking on wood*), I don't feel that push to 'do all the things' like I used to when we were fresh off of a PCS and the clock was ticking on our time in a particular location. That might explain why there are still plenty of pictures to be hung, furniture to be acquired (money also being a factor), and stuff to be put away.