I have never been a gardener. In the past I've often killed innocent house plants. My maternal grandmother was a very good gardener -- her entire backyard was one giant garden, and I remember rose bushes and gravel paths around bushes that were big enough for me to hide behind.
Somehow I never absorbed this knowledge, but I have to play catch-up now because this house has come with various flower beds, bushes, hedges, and fruit bushes that need tending. And since we have a yard now, we decided we wanted to have a vegetable garden.
If I wanted to grow stuff this season, we had to start our garden yesterday. My friend Rick, a fairly experienced gardener, brought his rototiller down and we turned over a rectangle of grass that I could use as my new garden. I planted chocolate beauty bell peppers, squash, and watermelons. Rick also gave us a tomato plant (that also had spearmint and oregano growing in the pot), and we've already got a nearly ripe tomato on it.
We also discovered that we have two fruits growing in our yard: red currants and raspberries. The entire back row of the property is covered with raspberry bushes and when I went out to water the garden tonight I saw that they're already ripening. I picked a couple of the ripest off the vines and tasted them. Delicious!
The currant bush is growing by our back door and the berries are ripening very fast. We're lucky to have the bush because apparently it's now illegal to plant currants in Wisconsin since they have the chance of carrying some kind of disease that can affect other flora.
The only drawback to having all of this at our fingertips is that I have no freezer space to put it in in order to preserve it, and I've never done any canning before and have little space to actually do it (though plenty of space to store it in the basement). So I'm not sure how I'm going to handle preserving these yet. But I've already got recipes planned to use them.
After having moved in around the first of June, we're finally getting to the point where we're not seeing any more cardboard boxes around. I think I finally got the last of them, although they do seem to breed like rabbits.
In an effort to make the house appear more lived-in from the outside, I planted white and red petunias in the front window boxes. They look a little like they're slumming it next to the peeling cyan paint (we still don't know why anyone chose that for a trim color), but they do brighten up the front a little bit. I picked red and white for something bright and because Len said he thought something red would look good there, and I wanted variation. I hadn't stopped to think that I also probably earned us some brownie points with the town when I did this because Monticello (and its neighboring town up the highway, New Glarus) are primarily peopled by Swiss decendants. Many residents proudly fly the Swiss flag by their windows or hang handmade plaques that are produced by someone in town -- the plaques usually show the Swiss flag and then an icon denoting the county in Switzerland that they come from.
I'm really digging living among Swiss transplants, too. There's also a lot of Norwegian families around so I feel right at home. But a couple of weekends ago Len and I decided to go into New Glarus to eat at the Glarnerstrube with our friend Rick. The town was having a polkafest. I told Len I want to learn how to polka. Next weekend is the annual Heidi Festival and -- get this -- they're having a children's tractor pull. Yeah, I know. I too am anxious to watch someone leash several small children to large pieces of farm equipment and make them pull it like Egyptian slaves building the pyramids. It's going to be great.
Oh, here are a few fun facts about the town of Monticello:
- It has just over 1100 people in it.
- The town is just about a mile square.
- The mayor lives two doors down and across the street from us.
- The gentleman recently hired to be the Superintendent of Public Works for the town has been mowing our lawn. He only charges $15 a mow.
Also, everyone in this town waves to you. And I do mean everyone -- Len and I took a walk the other night (to the other side of town, which took about 10 minutes at a leisurely stroll) and passed by people outside doing yard work or walking somewhere themselves. They waved if they saw us from across the street even though no one in town really knows us yet. In fact, a boy about 10 years old was walking toward us playing a GBA SP (see, even in Monticello they're up enough on the times to have the SP version). He looked up as he crossed the street, waved to us, and then turned back to his game. By all rights, if the media reports about my profession are to be believed, this child should have taken out a baseball bat, beaten us until the dollar signs appeared over our heads, then stolen the SUV across the street to do a mission on the other side of Liberty City. At the very least he should have regarded us with youthful suspicion and shyness and stared at us for a moment before moving on. But no...he waved.
Today Len is putting up shelves in our pantry, and then we can finally put our kitchen in order enough to actually use it, something we really haven't done at all since we've been here. For one, we haven't had anywhere to put our pots and pans. And for another, that kitchen is scary, son. I'm slowly getting used to it, but it's so old and generally gross (the people who owned it used to put their flour directly into a metal-lined drawer, without a container for God's sake) that I've had to adjust a bit. The kitchen is the most in need of work here, but unfortunately it's also going to be the priciest, so we have to wait on that.
At any rate, the living room is clean and neat and just needs an area rug to really feel warm.
Yesterday was my birthday, and I was nicely surprised by a Master Birthday Plan put into place by Len and a bunch of friends from work. Even though some people knew it was my birthday, they went to great lengths to actually not wish me a happy birthday, and even had the office assistant hide it from her usual birthday and anniversary listings that morning in the company daily email. Although I'd mentioned it in asking for a restaurant recommendation the night before, no one was wishing me a happy birthday. No one. I was starting to feel a bit bummed when Len took me to the nice Italian restaurant we were going to, and as we walked in of course a slew of friends from work were there. It was a great surprise. And they were all wearing Batman party hats.
The reason for that is because we're now moved into our new old house as of last weekend. (That's why there's been a lack of updates -- I didn't get net access installed until yesterday morning.) Only a couple of days into our new digs and what do I find when I get home from work? A dead bat on my living room floor. The cats had clearly procured it from somewhere based on their gleeful gloating over it as I came in to greet them, but whether it was dead prior to or after their procurement remains a mystery. Regardless, it was the first time I and Len can ever recall me acting like a full-on girl. Yep. I ran around the living room with my hands curled up and my face scrunched. I finally managed to put it in the garbage. After that I beat the garbage with the broom for good measure. You never know, it could have been a zombie bat waiting to pounce back out at me. We haven't found any more bats yet. If they're still in the house, they're not making their presence known. They probably got the hint from the cats to stay off the West Side, eh, esse? Len scratched Pico and Sam extra long and told them to keep up the good work.
Cinda says, "welcome to the Jesus age!" Let's hope my 33rd year ends a little better than his did.
The house is great, although we're overwhelmed with the idea that we own this thing now, and all the problems and work associated with it. But we knew that going into it. Pictures will be coming as soon as I get around to taking some, maybe this weekend in between trying to finish unearthing the kitchen.