Friday, February 22, 2008

Bloom Day update, redux

Day 7: We have (artfully blurry) blooms! There was no discernible difference between the stems I smashed with the hammer and the ones I just cut on a hard diagonal. On the one hand, the hammer was a fun way of working out a little frustration, but on the other, those stems seemed to get punky and make the water brackish quicker.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Bloom Day update

Day 6 of the great forsythia experiment.

Latest Trick

The Munchkin has a new skill as of about a week ago: he can now push from lying down to sitting up. (He's been able to stay sitting if placed that way for four months now, but hadn't been able to work out getting his legs out of the way to push himself to a seated position). Since he has figured out how to do this, he seems to love nothing better than flinging himself forward and face-planting on our bed, so that he can push himself up again. This has had occasionally hilarious results, as when he decided he wanted to push himself up while nursing, and ended up on his hands and knees like a dog drinking from a hydrant. He has gone through this process with each new trick he learns. While I was teaching him to sit up, pulling him up by his hands, at one point he stiffened himself and found himself standing. Once that happened, he showed no interest whatsoever in sitting for a few weeks, and simply would not bend in the middle. Then once he figured out how to sit on his own, supporting himself, standing with help from me became less appealing, until (of course) he pulled himself up. It has made me wonder - what was the last new thing I learned that excited me that much? The closest thing I could think of was learning about how mirrors are used in film-making. They are frequently used to signify a divided self or conflicting desires. After I learned that bit of information, I started noticing the mirrors in every television show and movie I saw. Not quite as cool as pushing up, but maybe it's a similar process? So, now the question goes to you (all three of you): what was the last new thing you learned that really excited you?

Friday, February 15, 2008

Garden Blogger's Bloom Day, February 2008

Today is the first anniversary of Garden Blogger's Bloom Day, and while there aren't any blooms yet in this Ohio garden (right on the edge between zones 5 and 6), there's a lot of potential. Even the snowdrops haven't dared to show themselves yet, and how could they, through several inches of snow and ice? What we do have, though, are buds. Lots and lots of buds.

In a few months, the forsythia will look more like this picture (taken in April):but, frankly, I'm feeling a bit impatient this year. So, I'm trying my hand at forcing forsythia branches indoors. And, being a geek, I've turned it into an experiment. I cut several branches to force, but with some of them I am using the "cut the stem underwater" method, and with others I am using the "whack the stem with a hammer to smoosh it" method. I'll let y'all know if one way works better than the other. Oh, and profuse apologies for the photo quality. The flash gave it a bit of a bare-light-bulb-interrogation-room quality that leaves a lot to be desired.
Our two deciduous magnolias have actually had buds for some time now. They always gets buds on their branches early enough that I am convinced the winter freezes will kill them off. Every year, of course, I am wrong. It's only a stab in the dark, but maybe those buds need the cold to harden off so they flower properly? Perhaps some real gardener will read this and let me know. Oh, and as long as I am posing questions to the world, can magnolia branches be forced? If I can come up with ways of bringing a little spring indoors during the February doldrums, I could get hooked...

Monday, February 04, 2008

How we measure time

In the German film class I am taking this quarter, we have spent a little bit of time talking about how the passage of time is depicted in early film. This, of course, was one of those things that was suddenly possible in film, where it had not been in stage plays. Sure, drama could indicate that time had passed, once playwrights threw out that whole Aristotelian unity notion, but what film could do, and what drama had not been able to, was show the viewer that time was passing at something other than a natural pace. Our real-life perception of time is fairly malleable. It all depends how we look at it. Groundhog Day is just past, and although Punxatawney Phil predicted six more weeks of winter, Buckeye Chuck anticipates an early spring. Of course, as Carol at May Dreams Gardens points out, an early spring for us in Zone 5 would come in March, or around 6 weeks from now. Still, one of those predictions makes the process feel shorter somehow. Today is Mardi Gras, the end of epiphany, meaning tomorrow is the start of the spring season of Lent. I'm not Catholic, but Easter is one of the more pagan Catholic holidays, and it's nice to be able to start the countdown so early this year. Of course, the end of football season is a landmark too - one that places us in the gray nether-time before spring training begins. (Don't talk to me about the NBA. Bunch of thyroid cases being refereed by guys who wouldn't know traveling if it was announced on the JumboTron.) My mother called over the weekend to ask about coming to visit for the Munchkin's first birthday. It completely caught me off-guard. On the one hand, it only seems like a few days since he was a teeny little guy looking up at me from his sling - the fact that he's almost mobile is astonishing. On the other hand, the idea that, only a year ago, we had not met him yet, is equally unbelievable to me. OBs and people who have been pregnant measure a pregnancy in weeks. Just about everyone else measures in months. Pregnant women themselves measure by milestones - finding out, hearing the heartbeat, feeling the first kick, seeing their belly-buttons vanish, feeling the baby drop down. Given how much a crap-shoot it is to even determine a due date, it seems to me that these sorts of milestones make a lot more sense in measuring that time. When you're gardening, a lot of the instructions on seed packets tell you to "plant after last danger of frost," or "start indoors n days before last frost, then transplant outdoors after danger of frost has passed." Being a geek, I tend to have to hunt around online to find out when that tends to be in Ohio, and then count backward. Best I can tell, the best gardeners don't do this. Like expectant mothers, they look at the other milestones in the garden and use them to gauge how warm the ground is, how ready the weather. Watching for these natural signals (today's word of the day: "phenology") can tell you that the best time to attack the crab grass in your lawn is just as the forsythia are starting to flower, or that peas are best planted when the daffodils bloom. As I start preparing for the baseball draft, perusing seed catalogs, and watching my son struggle to crawl, I shall try to keep in mind that, regardless of any structure we try to impose on time, it has its own ideas. Maybe it's best to just roll with it, and let those without clocks and calendars tell us how to proceed.