Escaping

Well, I haven’t been listening to my own advice lately. “More fun, less work.” Right. I’ve been doing a lot more work than usual lately, so I’ve had much less time for hobbies, including blogging. Even my knitting became a “job” as I diligently worked on Eve’s shawl. But more about that later.

Anyway, the project I was “guest managing” at work (meaning, steering along while the main manager was out on vacation) is nearing its close, AND I’m readying my self and others at the office for my own vacation time coming up next week. Mark and I are not taking a long vacation to an exotic or remote location next week, though. We are staying home and just attending to ourselves, our girls (the dogs: Hannah and Sadie), and our house.

I get quite a bit of personal time off to use during the year (28 days in total), but we just don’t have the stamina or budget to go on out of town vacations all the time. We’re also a bit lazy about vacations. An out of town vacation not only requires a budget, it requires planning time and decision making, something neither Mark nor I are much inclined to do in our busy, busy lives. So, we’re staying home and if the weather allows (meaning, it’s not too damn hot) we’ll lay a short path of pavers near the back gate so we don’t have to keep shlepping across a stretch of dusty/muddy bare ground to exit the yard there.

If it’s too hot to work outside, I have plenty of other things to catch up on at home: cleaning up my office, filing, de-cluttering the basement, returning stuff at some shops, finishing/starting some new knitting projects, and going to the LYS to use the generous gift certificate my friend Adrienne gave me for my b-day.

My group was moved into our new offices a couple weeks ago, and it’s been an interesting experience getting used to the new facilities, location, and the impact on my commuting. We’re now on the west side of the Loop, and no longer near the lake and Millenium Park. We’ve not only lost the spectacular views, there’s a different vibe on this side of the Loop, and there seem to be many, many more office workers, all of whom are cramming into the same 5 places to pick up lunch every day. Seriously, I was shocked and tremendously annoyed the first day at the new office when I went out to pick up a sandwich and found that nearly every place I visited had a line of people out the door! I must get back into the habit of bringing lunch every day.

I also lost my office and my privacy with this move. As a humble manager, I no longer rate an office. So, I am relegated to a cubicle. A very nice cubicle — near the windows and with lots of space — but a cubicle nonetheless. Being near the windows is not necessarily a blessing, though. There are big air-conditioning vents along the windows and I spent the first week and a half FREEZING, while the senior managers and partners in their offices — all clustered in the central, core of the floor — slowly roasted in their offices. There was no way I’d win the tussle with the thermostat, so I finally brought in this shawl so I could wrap myself up to keep warm:

Heaven shawl

This is Lorna’s Laces Easy Pie Wedge Shawl made with Heaven, their lace-weight mohair blend. It was not something I knitted with the intention of wearing in the office. If I had, I would have chosen more subtle colors, and I would have completed the blocking process. However, it is working very well for my purposes because it is large and warm. I wrap myself completely in it, covering my hands, too, and hunch over my laptop keyboard catching the warmth generated by the machine. Eventually I will make some matched wrist warmers and a shawl to keep at the office. Maybe the Clapotis so many folks were raving about a few months ago…hmmm…

Instead of taking the el every day, I’m now taking the more suburban-oriented commuter rail line, Metra, to get to the office. There’s a Metra station only 1/2 mile from my house, so my walk every morning has been reduced. I do have to get used to a strict schedule, however. Metra trains aren’t like the el; if I miss it, I have to wait about 40 minutes for another. This is a much longer wait time than the 5-7 minutes between el trains. So, I’ve had to be more disciplined with myself in the AM, and in leaving the office at a set time. The office is only 2 blocks from the Metra station, however, so it can take me as little as 5 minutes to get from my desk to the train.

Yes, it can take me that little amount of time, but there are also the crowds to figure into the equation. Holy crow there are SO many people heading to Union Station between 5 and 5:30 PM to board their train out to suburbia! It’s like being stuck in the middle of a salmon run or something.

There is some enjoyment in this new way of commuting, however. The trains are a bit roomier than the el, and I can usually get some knitting done in the AM, and always get some done on the trip home. In the mornings, I’ve always found it a challenge to knit on the el because I usually have my commuter mug of tea and no place to put it down. The more cramped and crowded conditions on the el even made it a bit difficult to knit on the trip home, although I could often accomplish a small project like a sock. On the Metra, the roominess means I can lug an extra knitting bag in additon to my usual laptop bag, and can find a pretty stable location to set my tea mug. I was always able to knit a few rows on Eve’s shawl in the AM and PM on the Metra train. The el is still an option, but it’s a much farther walk from the office and from my home, and not as cushy as the commuter train.

…On the needles…

After what seemed like forever, I finally finished Eve’s shawl and sent it to her express mail a few days before she left for Greece. It was really an experience in Terminal Velocity, and I have to admit to reaching a point where I decided to just bind off and be done with it. The shawl was supposed to use 6 skeins of Microspun, but as I finished up the fifth skein, I draped it around myself and thought, “This is big enough.” And really, it was. It wasn’t the full 60 inches, but it fit me very comfortably and Eve’s about 6 inches shorter than I am. I just couldn’t see her draped in a shawl almost as long as she is tall.

Eve's shawl
Eve’s shawl: Easy Ripple Shawl pattern from Lion knit in Lion Brand Microspun

As my reward, I picked Soleil back up and got back to working on something for me. I had no problems with the lace rows, but did run into a snag on the first increase row after that. It wasn’t a problem with the pattern, it was a problem with me. After knitting and tinking that row twice, each time coming up short on the number of times the increase was to be worked, I finally just gave up and fudged it, finishing the final increases on the next row. It wasn’t until several days later as I again studied the pattern that I realized that I had highlighted the wrong number on the pattern, and was supposed to knit 8 sts not 9 between the increases. Honestly, I had really read the pattern very thoroughly a few times through before starting; I guess I just had a mental block or something.

I also found that my row gauge was off quite a bit and the length was consequently out of whack. Yes, I had swatched for the pattern but I don’t recall checking the row gauge. So, I ended up skipping some rows of straight knitting. I think it will be OK. My stitch gauge is also off, despite the fact that in my swatch it matched. I am crossing my fingers that the fit will still be nice, but if I have to I will frog the whole thing. It is a point of personal pride here that I will finally complete a fitted garment that really does fit me!

Over last weekend, I got to the place in the pattern where the neckline is divided. Like a timely intervention, I noticed a post on the Knitlist from someone expressing confusion over this part of the pattern. I thoughtfully ran a lifeline through my sts, then proceeded on with the pattern as I understood it. By Sunday night, I realized something was wrong with my stitch count. I emailed the designer, Alexandra Virgiel, and set it aside until I got a reply.

In the meantime, I worked a bit more on my swatch for Lily, and also Googled a bit on Soleil to see if I could find some other blog or message about the pattern. Jackpot! I found a Soleil knit-along blog that was chock full of tips, including a post by Alexandra pointing to some suggestions on how to make minor changes to the pattern.

I’ve never been tempted to join a knit-along before, and wasn’t sure of the point. My impression was that they were sort of clubby and I really don’t enjoy stuff like that. Now I think I understand the benefits and would be inclined to check for one as a resource when starting a new pattern.

Alexandra was prompt in emailing me back and pointing out quite kindly that I had interpreted the pattern instructions incorrectly, hence my incorrect stitch count. Thank goodness for that lifeline!

Soleil with Lifeline
Notice the lifeline (reddish line to the right) in Soleil that really saved my *ss!

I ripped back to the life line Monday night, then spent a good 30 minutes figuring out how to incorporate Alexandra’s instructions on raising the neckline with the original pattern instructions. I decided to raise the neckline based on the sheer number of posts to the knit-along about how the neckline in the original pattern was a bit too deep for some folk’s modesty. I want to be able to wear Soleil at work without raising eyebrows or flashing people! I’ve got it all figured out and set up for the deviation now, and am looking forward to working on it tonight.

Last night was a SnB night, but I ended up not going. I was at the office until nearly 7 PM, and had also gotten a message from Jan — a mentor to me who works out of our Hermitage, TN office but was in Chicago for the week — that she would welcome getting togther with me for a drink after work. I just couldn’t pass up the opportunity to get together with her and “talk shop” while getting and giving some good feedback and career advice. Oh, and we consumed quite a lot of Blue Moon beer during that time, too!

I sure hope Jan was feeling OK this morning when she had her 7 AM breakfast meeting with our lead partner…I know I was a tad under the weather this AM after last night’s indulgence!

…In the garden…

Again, it is really sweltering hot outside and I don’t want to spend much time doing anything. I have to water, though, as we are seriously rain deficient here. I’m regretting not putting a soaker hose in the veggie bed this year. I just never got around to it, so now I have to water overhand, standing in the blistering heat. I think I may pick up a small sprinkler head or maybe I will get around to laying the hose when the weather cools down a bit this weekend.

I have some small, green tomatoes out there, and the beets are coming along nicely. It also looks like the cucamelon is setting fruit. Not being familiar with this plant, I’m not sure, though. Lettuce is still looking great, and I have to get around to cutting some brocolli, too, before it all goes to flower. This weekend I am planning to dig up the garlic.

It’s definitely raspberry time! The black raspberries are really abundant this year, and I spent a good 40 minutes picking berries early Saturday morning, becoming sweat-drenched despite the early hour. With work being so busy, I just haven’t had time to pick every day, so I filled two containers: one of good berries and one of “reject” berries that I popped in the freezer for an experiment in making natural yarn dye.

I have a couple gardening challenges to figure out while I’m off work next week. I’ve noticed that I don’t have much color in my perennial beds right now, so I need to research and plan for adding perennials, or even annuals, that bloom at this time of year. I also want to research a bit more about a clover lawn, or a better alternative to a turf grass lawn. Turf just can’t handle the heat and even when it’s getting regularly watered (something I don’t do on principle) it is always is stressed at this time of year and looking not that great. I just don’t like the look of crispy lawn, nor do I want to join the legions of neighbors watering all the time to keep the lawn sort of green.

I’ll pose a few questions on the Organic Gardening message boards and see what sort of replies I get.

More fun, less work!

It’s been almost a week since my last blog entry and I have to be honest with myself about why I started a blog. I’m just going to do a bit of self-examination here, so if this is boring, hypothetical reader, scroll down.

1) I wanted to give this technology a whirl. I like to try new technologies. I am a big consumer of technology, although not a total freak about having the latest toy.

2) I like to read blogs, and thought it would be fun to emulate the ones I like.

3) I thought blogging would be a way to flex my writing muscle, so to speak. I used to do a lot of creative writing in grade school, and a bit in high school. I enjoy writing. But as I had to write more and more for school (starting in high school, and throughout college, both undergrad and graduate school), I sort of lost that creative writing edge. It became more of a chore, and I became more critical about my writing. I had to, it was being graded, right? So, then my writing became work, and work is…well, its work, not fun. Between undergrad and graduate school, most writing done for personal reasons was journal keeping, and that sort of became a chore, too. One can only hash through the same thought processes so long without them seeming like work, too.

OK, so I think #2 and #3 are part of the reason why I’m not blogging as much as I first thought I would. I have to relax and enjoy the process, and stop self-editing so much and setting a high standard for my blog. I have to realize that even the best blogs may have been only OK when they were started by their creators. And, I have to stop thinking that it is always necessary to post nice photos, too.

So…here’s a pure text entry…deal with it!

Last Thursday was my b-day, and while overall it was fabulous, it was also a day with a certain amount of pain. I mean real, physical pain and I’m still dealing with the consequences. So stupid of me to slip on a new pair of shoes and set off on my usual 1 mile walk to the el station. After only 1 1/2 blocks, it became obvious the shoes were not as walkable as I thought. These were Clarks, which are usually very comfy shoes. But the upper part was really rubbing my feet in certain tender spots just below my toes, and I wasn’t wearing socks. It was too hot for socks, these were cute slip-on flats meant to be worn without socks, and they were killing my feet.

Fortunately, I had some band-aids in my purse. Unfortunately, there was no place I could stop and sit down to put them on until I got to the el station. So, I sucked it up and kept walking…and walking…and walking. When I finally got to the el station and sat down to put on the band-aids, I already had whopper blisters that had burst. When I got to the office I realized the cheapo band-aids weren’t staying on very well, and I needed to replace them.

I’m lucky to work for a big company, and we get all sorts of perks, including fully stocked first aid boxes on each floor. Antacid, ibuprofen, sinus tablets, band-aids, etc. are all right there free for the taking. In fact, the cheapo band-aids in my purse were from the first aid box at work. Yes, the band-aids weren’t the greatest, but they were free and easy to get, so I thought I’d just keep slapping on these cheap band-aids during the day as they wore away. However, our office has been slowly moving across the Loop and us final stragglers were being moved over last weekend. I went to the first-aid box on my floor and found NO band-aids.

No need to panic, there was a BIG first-aid box on the lunch room floor. Only, after I got there I found…it was gone! Packed away and ready for the move!

Well, I finally did get some band-aids when a fabulous guy who I only vaguely recognized [a hazard of working for a big company] steered me towards a secret stash. But…I still had to get through the day with only a few band-aids, and I had a lot of extra walking to do that day due to an appointment outside the office.

I realized as I limped to my outside appointment that I was going to be about a block away from Nordstrom’s, though. Ha! The mothership for shoes! To make a long story just a tiny bit shorter, I went on a shoe binge at Nordstrom’s after the appointment was done. You know the story: big sale, crazy atmosphere, and I just sort of was carried away with the crowd’s shopping mania. I went in to buy a new pair of shoes to replace the new pair of shoes that were killing me, and ended up with THREE pairs of shoes, one of which I wore right out of the store. Another pair of Clarks slides, BTW, that were much more comfy, but still ended up rubbing one foot in a totally different place!

My feet are a mess. A complete and total mess. I stayed barefoot as much as possible this weekend and spent what seemed like oodles of money on several packages of fancy-schmancy band-aids at the grocery store this weekend. I had no idea how “high-tech” bandages have become. Obviously, I don’t buy bandages a lot.

I suppose shoe-binging may be counted as a fun b-day treat, but I was much more excited about the gift Mark got me: a yarn/ball winder! Not a big surprise since I had specifically asked for it, but I don’t expect big surprises. I was very happy that he listened to my request and carried through. Eight + years of marriage have taught me that its best to be pretty clear about your wants and needs, not to expect your spouse to be a mind-reader, and to be damn grateful when they listen to you. So, thanks again, Mark! *more kisses to Mark*

On Friday I finally got the swift I ordered for myself from JoAnne.com, too. JoAnne.com is not one of my favorite places to order from since they are really slow shippers, and I don’t find their yarn selections fabulous. But I had a 50% off coupon for one item and the total price of the swift, shipping, and tax came to less than $40. A total bargain! This is a very nice swift, too.

Now I’m ready to “conquer the world” as one of my fellow Stitch ‘n Bitch friends says!

Speaking of SnB friends, the girls really came through for me, too. To celebrate my b-day, several of them organized a get together on Saturday night and treated me to dinner and drinks. We went to the Chicago Brauhaus, stuffed ourselves with German food and decadent desserts, and drank lots of beer. And, there was fun, schmaltzy oompah band music to round it all off.

Jamie gave me a lovely pair of earrings she made herself [she’s a talented jewelry artist and a talented knitter, wow!]. It was great, great fun.

…On the needles…

That same damn shawl that I really HAVE to finish this week for Eve. It’s an easy pattern…maybe too easy and sort of boring for me. Plus, I have to be really firm with myself and not work on multiple projects since I need to get it done, so it’s becoming WORK and not fun. Hmmm…I sense a theme here today!

The GOOD thing is that in working on this shawl I have finally mastered the Continental purl!!!!! *major pats on the back for me here*

The Continental-style purl stitch that works for me is a variation I viewed in a this video from, I think, Finland! Yes, the Finnish purl. Or, I guess that’s what it’s called. I found it on KnittingHelp.com, a really marvelous site to learn new techniques from.

…In the garden…

Oh, boy is it hot out there! There’s some relief on the way, though, or so the weather guy says. I spent some time on Saturday mulching, weeding, and deadheading flowers and sweated buckets the whole time.

Ok, I’ve been writing for almost an hour now so I have to stop. I’m tired and am starting to descend into the “not fun/work” zone, so that’s my cue to close for the day.

Remember: more fun, less work!

Mid week already???

I’m still trying to get a handle on fitting time to blog into each day. I’m thinking I’ll probably only be able to do so two or three days week at this point, but we’ll see.

I had a really busy weekend. Went clothes shopping on Saturday, something I REALLY hate to do, but it is necessary every once in a while. Most of my chinos and “business casual” attire for work was looking pretty ragged, and with the weather warmed up now, I need stuff like. I have some very nice suits that I wear through the fall/winter/spring, but…hey, they call ’em 3 season suits for a reason. No one wants to wear wool in the summer, even if it is light weight.

I hate to shop for clothing/shoes/accessories because I know exactly what I want. Then, I get into the stores and I can’t find what I want or it doesn’t fit right and I get frustrated. For example, I like long, flowing skirts in the summer because they are cool, and the office dress code doesn’t require that I wear hose if the skirt is calf-length. At the shops this weekend, I discovered that long skirts apparently aren’t the style this year, so I couldn’t pick up one. *sigh* It feels like a big waste of time to me, and I really hate to waste time. I have lots of other things to do with my limited time, ya know.

I was able to get some new chinos that fit nicely, so Saturday’s shopping trip was counted as a success, though. Now I won’t have to go through this again for at least 6 months. *yay*

We had a bit of excitement Saturday afternoon when a really ugly storm whipped through the area. Mark [my DH] was out on one of his long bike rides when he got caught by it, and called me to ask me to pick him up. Such great timing he had, too. I was just settling down for a short nap, and had not been prepared for the storm to hit. He’s on the phone trying to explain to me where he is and what “supplies” he wants me to bring (towel, dry shirt, etc.) and I’m running around the second floor slamming windows closed at the same time!

By the time I picked him up, the storm had already passed on. The high winds did knock down several tree limbs in the area — some quite large, too — and tossed all the potted plants that had been neatly sitting on a plant stand on the upper porch all over the floorboards. What a mess!

I missed my chance for a nap, too, because we had to get ready to go out to dinner with friends by the time we got back to the house. We did have a lovely dinner with Eve and David out in St. Charles. It’s a pain driving out there [it takes just over an hour even if there’s no traffic], but I hadn’t seen her in a while. David had arranged the dinner as a birthday surprise for her, and Eve was speechless [now THAT’s pretty amazing] when she saw me at her house. We had a fun group of three couples and 3 singletons at the restaurant. David is a state trooper and 2 of his buddies were there, one of whom is now a police officer in Chicago and the other who is also a state trooper. Cops have some of the best stories, that’s for sure!

Sunday was devoted to helping Rachael, one of my friends from Stitch n Bitch, move to her new apartment. It was a sticky, hot day, and the move took pretty long. After about 8 hours, Mark and I had to bail out and leave the rest of the crew to finish up. We were exhausted and had to get home to feed the dogs. We ended up eating our dinner around 9:30 PM, and then it was off to bed.

I had to do my usual Sunday grocery run on Monday night after work, then last night was Stitch n Bitch, so it was a pretty late night. All of this is a looonnnggg way of saying, “I’ve been really busy and haven’t been able to blog!”

…On the needles…

The little shawl I had planned to just whip up for Eve’s b-day present is still in the works. I have to get this finished by next week so I can mail it to her in time for her trip to Greece. I guess family and friends of hand knitters must be used to getting gifts a bit late…or at least I hope so!

I’ve put aside my swatching for Lily and work on Soleil for now until I finish this shawl. It’s looking pretty good, right?

…In the garden…

Wow, has it been HOT the past few days. IMO, it’s too early in June for the temps to be in the upper 80’s and 90’s. Despite the big storm on Saturday, there was little rain. Yes, it did pour for about 15 minutes, but that didn’t amount to much. So, today I’ve been moving the hose around and hooking it up to the soaker hoses laid out in most of my beds to give the thirsty plants a long drink.

I really need to do some deadheading in the garden and some weeding. The peonies are looking really ragged and the old bloom stalks on the irises should be cut. I’m hoping to get out in the garden sometime today or early in the evening to trim things a bit, weed out the little maple seedlings that have sprung up from this year’s bounty of samaras, and generally tidy things up a bit. It’s just so damn hot, that I really don’t want to spend a lot of time in the sun.

The water lily has put out another bloom, and it is so beautiful. The ‘Texas Dawn’ water lily bloom is yellow, but it has a sort of pink blush to the lower petals, as well. I saw one daylily bloom today, and there are definitely more on the way. The climbing roses are still knocking my socks off, and the new Zepherine Drouhin has opened up single, fragrant, deep pink bloom. I think I’ll try a foliar spray with baking soda on the Zepherine Drouhin, as the foliage looks a bit spotty.

The veggies are really taking off in this heat, at least. I swear the tomato plants have grown a foot in the past 5 days, the pole beans are twining up around the fencing and trellising, as is the cucamelon – a new veggie for me to try this year. Something is making little holes in the leaves of my wax beans and eggplant; probably flea beetles, but I can’t see them, and the holes aren’t really bad right now, so I’ll just let nature take its course for a while.

My “now blooming” photo is actually of one of my houseplants, a Phalaenopsis orchid called ‘Summer Beach.’

Isn’t she pretty, especially with the morning sun touching her petals?

Inauguration day

So…my first blog entry!

It’s always a good idea to check out new technology, right? I mean, I have a dedicated DSL line, a digital camera, and an Internet phone. Blogging is the next frontier for me. Also, I really don’t feel like working today. *grin*

It’s a grey day and I’m still not recovered from the cold I got last week, so I’m not in the perkiest of moods. My full and aching sinuses make me feel sort of like I’m existing in a surreal world. When the sinuses are messed up, the equilibrium is messed up, too, so I have this sort of floaty, nebulous feeling where terra firma ain’t so firm and fixed.

Anyhoo, if I can work up the energy I need to do some potting today or tomorrow. According to the moon chart, today and tomorrow are semi-fruitful days and therefore good for potting and planting. I bought three lovely heliotropes last weekend just “because” and I think they will do nicely in a pot on the upper porch deck. I wish I could put them on the little side table next to the comfy chairs and loveseat on the first floor porch so I could enjoy their fragrance while relaxing, but heliotropes need full sun and they just won’t get it there. I also need to cut down the zonal geraniums I over-wintered and pot up the cuttings. They’re getting way too leggy and awkward looking.

…On the needles…

I started Soleil this week in a lovely lavender shade of Adrienne Vittadini Marissa (cotton/silk blend) that I picked up about 2 months ago from Arcadia’s bargain bin. They were clearancing all the Marissa yarn they had on hand as it was discontinued, and I snatched up all the lavender, pistachio, and most of the black they had on hand. I figured I could make a few nice tanks out of it, and was glad to see Soleil show up in Knitty shortly after I bought the yarn.

I’ve also been doing a gauge swatch for the Lily (Louet) camisole pattern in cream-colored Euroflax Linen. Doing this gauge swatch is a PITA. Lily is knit in the round on 2.0 and 2.5 mm [small, teeny!] needles. I tried swatching on a circular needle using Magic Loop, but that wasn’t working out for me. So, I’ve switched to swatching on DPNs. I could only get the shortie, 5-inch DPNs, and I’ve found that I really don’t like working on such short needles. I need more length on my needles to feel secure that my knitting won’t slip off.

Yesterday I got a call from my friend Eve’s husband, David, about a dinner outing this Saturday night to celebrate her b-day. Yeah, I knew it was her b-day yesterday, but I’m so terrible about remembering to buy and send cards or even pick up gifts. So, I had this hare-brained idea that I’d just whip her up a little hand-knit gift. And, since they’re off to Greece in a few weeks, I thought a nice little shawl she could wear with a sundress would be fitting.

I didn’t have time to run to the yarn shop, but I’ve got a pretty sizable stash here at home, so I zeroed in one some Lion Brand Microspun that I had picked up last month on a whim. It’s a nice blue color, soft and cozy feeling, and is machine-washable, which I know is important to Eve, a working mom with two kids. I pulled out Lion’s Easy Ripple Shawl pattern written with Microspun in mind, and got to work last night.

What the hell was I thinking??? Knit a shawl in 2 days, while still going to work and while suffering a sinus-related disconnection with the solid world? Of course I’m never going to finish this thing! After 16 rows, I switched from the size 6 needles recommended by the pattern to size 8 needles, hoping this make things go a little bit faster. I still have only about 4 inches done on a shawl that is supposed to be 60 inches long. If I pull this off, it’ll be a miracle.

I hate to sound like a yarn snob, but there is nothing like working with wool or a good wool blend. The Microspun may be soft, washable, and fairly low cost, but it takes a bit of concentration for me to work with it. Its not very tightly plyed and so I have to be careful not to split when I’m working. I like Lion’s Woolease, but so far anything else I’ve worked with from Lion has been pretty disappointing. I tried some Homespun a few weeks ago and that was just an…icky…experience.

…In the garden…

The irises are kaput now, but the columbine is still looking pretty fresh. Peonies are blooming like crazy, and the roses are looking fabulous. The climbing roses, and the shrub and mini roses are all blooming now, and most of them appear very healthy.

I sure hope that Zepherine Drouhin climbing rose I planted last week takes off. It was the last one at the Chicago Botanic Garden’s Bloomin’ Sale a couple weeks ago, and it looked like it was the last one, too, but I really, really wanted that variety. Although it pained me, I pulled out one of the two ‘Fourth of July’ climbing roses that has been doing so poorly and put the Zepherine Drouhin in its place. I think the ‘Fourth of July’ wasn’t doing so well in that spot because it didn’t get enough sun, and Zepherine Drouhin is supposed to do well in part-shade. I lavished the planting hole with bone meal, kelp meal, and dehydrated cow manure, so hopefully Miss Drouhin will take off.

The raspberries are looking incredibly lush. It’s like a thicket out there behind the garage! I’m keeping my eye on them to make sure they don’t burst out of the semi-confines of their new trellising. Although there are plenty of fruits set, I’m still several weeks away from harvesting oodles of tasty berries. *sigh*

Oh, and what a surprise, the water lily in my little tub water garden is blooming!
One of my mini roses.
Mini rose
‘Texas Dawn’ hardy water lily.
Texas Dawn water lily bloom
Peonies in full bloom.

Peonies in full bloom
My wall o’ roses: climbing roses ‘Ramblin Red’ and ‘Fourth of July.’

Climbing roses Ramblin Red and Fourth of July
Shrub roses at the corner of the parkway: ‘Nearly Wild’ (pink) and ‘Carefree Sunshine’ (yellow).
Shrub roses Nearly Wild (pink) and Carefree Sunshine (yellow)