Convergent Series

learning, using & teaching metal clay, and other aspects of life

Posts Tagged ‘seasons’

December 27, and I was mowing my lawn?!!

Posted by C Scheftic on 2016/12/27

And now, a little diversion from art into practical issues of life.

Six weeks ago, I thought I’d put my lawn mower away for the winter. The last leaf pick-up the city offered was on November 10, which is later than it’s been in other recent years. By then, I’d gradually trimmed the grass down for its last mowing, cleaned up the mower for the winter, and tucked it away.

I knew, however, that I wasn’t done. My trees still had leaves! I’d cleaned up those that had fallen from the apple tree and other shrubs along the sides and in the back, and I was willing to let any remaining ones that fell just be for a while. I leave stray apples down in the back yard too: deer from the park can come and find them during the winter! Then I do the final clean-up there in the spring. But I try to keep the front tidier.

By Thanksgiving weekend, the sweetgum tree in front had dropped no more than 100 leaves: the many, many thousands it bears usually fall over the course of that whole month. At the end of November this year, I just shoveled up those first few and dumped them in the compost. And then the busy-season started: shows and events and last minute requests plus gatherings and baking and decorating and visitors and whatnot. The first week of December, only a few more leaves dropped. Then, suddenly, a week before Christmas (during my last Trunk Show of the season), there was the first real deep-freeze, followed by a quick warm-up with heavy rain, and they all dumped straight down in a day or two, piled up in a soggy mess. I guess that’s better than dry and blowing all over the neighborhood! But these were clumped together inches deep on the eastern-third of my front yard under the tree. Every now and then I’d find a few spare daylight hours when I’d think I could try to work on that, but those just never happened on dry-enough days.

Still, despite a lot of rain, it rarely went below freezing. The grass kept growing. And with short days, it seemed to do the thing plants do during their “growing season” when there’s not enough light: it shot up another six inches or more!

I thought maybe I’d try to deal with all this yesterday, with temperatures in the 60s (SW Pennsylvania the last week of December, and temps in the 60s?!!). But it rained all day. I did, at least, take down the “window boxes” full of flowers that I hang from the porch railings. I could, of course, do that from the shelter of the porch.

Today it only reached into the 40s, but it was clear. I didn’t have as much free time today, but I did manage almost four hours out there! I raked up about 80% of the leaves and sucked those through my mulching leaf vacuum. (I wouldn’t have had to rake if they’d been dry. But wet, they stick together and clog up the machine’s nozzle unless I “fluff” them up.) The rest just got mulched in with the grass when I mowed the lawn.

Since we’re just past the solstice, the days are short: so my last hour out there was after sunset! A few days shy of the new moon, there was no helpful light from that, but streetlights and holiday lights did offer some aid. By the time I’d finished collecting leaves and mowing, however, the mower, leaf vacuum, rake and shovel all went straight back into the garage. And the thing I’m debating tonight is whether to take time in the morning to clean them up again for winter storage, especially the mower, or just figure I may need it again in a few weeks.

I can’t believe I’m having that thought! I also can’t believe that it wasn’t until well after dark before I said to myself, “I really should have thought to take a photo while there was still some light!” Oh well. I hope you enjoy the story!

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Catching up, or at least trying to….

Posted by C Scheftic on 2012/11/19

I love autumn! Love, love, love it!

I love the “crispness” of the air, between the melting-heat of summer and the freezing-cold of winter. I am happy to get outside and do things, without feeling like I’m going to melt if I take another step (yes, I am very sensitive to the heat!), and without the encumbrances of frost-protective gear.

I love the colors of the sky in the fall, with the sun at that lovely mid-way angle. And I love the changing colors of so much of the vegetation, as the chlorophyl production stops pushing all the green colors and the other hues that have been hiding in the plants get a chance to shine on their own.

I come out of my shell then too, happy and eager to catch up on everything that needs to get done.

And then it hits me: there is no way to catch up. No way….

How can this be? It’s not even necessarily that I’ve let things slide, myself. A few things, sure, but much of the time, things just seem to pile up despite my best efforts. And, for once, I have a simple pictorial illustration of what I mean.

I opened this post with a photo (above, right) of a few leaves that were in my yard on the 9th of November this year. They fell from the sweetgum tree in my front yard. I am sure of the date because that Saturday, the 10th, was the day that my city had designated for its one and only pass through to collect household leaves for their composting program.

The second photo with this post (left) shows the sweetgum tree in the yard of my next-door neighbors on that very same day. With just a few leaves left on their tree at that point, I am sure that they were very happy to have this public service offer.

Now, if you’re not familiar with sweetgums, these leaves are big. The smallest ones are the size of my hand: palm, fingers, thumb, maybe a bit of wrist too … everything. And the largest ones can be much, much larger. And there are lots of them. During and after the falling of the sweetgum leaves themselves, there is another phase of clean-up to do too, involving raking and collecting all the sweetgum-balls that will eventually fall. (Kind of reminds me of the balls on the tree that Lois etched onto copper, which I showed a few posts back, except there are many orders of magnitude more balls all over the sweetgum trees. If you enlarge the photo of the nearly-bare tree next door, you may be able to get a glimpse of them. Everywhere.)

When I last lived in California, I had a pair of sycamore trees in my front yard. Those dropped balls too, pretty much all in one quick load in the fall. They did take a bit of work to clean up, but I could do most of it in one shot, and then just finish with a couple quick follow-ups involving a few stragglers. Moving to Pennsylvania, I had no clue how different these sweetgum balls would be! You get a few of them with the leaves in the fall. Then more come down with each snowstorm, so you’re shoveling those around as you try to clear walks and driveways of snow and ice. Once that melts, you can really clean those up; but now you’ve moved them twice! Then more come down as you’re trying to prepare beds in the spring. And a few will hold on just so they can fall and try to twist your ankle during summer lawn-mowings or as neighbors stroll the street. My sycamores in CA had other problems (as many gardeners there would say, “when you have a sycamore tree, you have a sick tree….”), but their balls were not an issue.

So, having said all that, let me show you what MY sweetgum tree looked like, a whole week AFTER the city’s one and only leaf collection day. Clearly, in addition to having to deal with all the balls that will drop all year long, I will have to deal with all those leaves on my own too.

Now, this is not a crisis. I get to look at the lovely colored leaves outside front windows for several weeks longer than anyone else on my street. And I have a tool that’s a reverse-leaf-blower: that is instead of just using energy and making lots of noise to push leaves around, this one actually sucks them up and shoots them through a chopper mechanism into a bag. One bag from that is the equivalent of 4 to 5 regular “leaf bags” full of leaves, and I can just dump it into a composter. All of that is very good! (If you know about composing: I’ll dump that into my “browns” bin and, all year long, as I add “greens” to my “active” bin, I’ll scoop “browns” out of that bin to mix with the “greens” to help keep the “balance” right. I only compost leaves that have fallen onto my yard: ones that go onto the street, with the extra pollutants that can collect there, will get raked into “leaf bags” and put out with my trash. Sigh.)

But, whether I vacuum up and compost my leaves, or rake them up to add to the trash, the point is that I am taking time to do all of it (and, um, yes, I admit it, then to blog about the episode too…). But I’m not doing what the majority of my neighbors are doing, and simply raking leaves out for the city to collect. No, the tree in my yard simply won’t let me just say, OK, this year I’m way too far behind on too many fronts, let the city compost them them.

I have no idea why. But it’s one example in a very loooooong list of things that I really am trying to catch up on. And I wrote this because I needed to take a few minutes’ break from metal-clay work in the final sprint of preparations for various holiday-sales events. I’ll be posting information about those next. As I make all these great new pieces, I am stacking up ideas in my head (and in draft-reminders online) for some posts about working with metal clay and other jewelry elements: those should be coming along again right after all that.

I don’t even need to get caught up completely, just caught up enough! Do you know what I mean by that? Whether you feel caught up or not, I do hope everyone reading this is having a great autumn season too.

Posted in House & Home, Misc. Musings | Tagged: , , , | 1 Comment »

Gosh, it’s hot.

Posted by C Scheftic on 2010/07/07

Several days of this already, and more predicted to come. Heat index in triple digits, actual daytime temperatures well into the 90s, and barely dropping into the 70s over night.

This heat and humidity remind me of South Florida, where I grew up. And from which I left, one August many years ago. And, though I went back regularly to visit while my folks were still there, I didn’t return during the summer.

Call me a wimp if you want, but I simply cannot comprehend the thought of working with metal clay until things cool off a bit. Even though I normally move a kiln outside to fire it, at the moment I just cannot form a thought that involves generating any more heat anywhere.

I’ve spent a bit of time cutting out little paper templates, trying to figure out the mechanics of a few new designs. That’s as close as I can get, however, until the temperature breaks. Which is predicted for a few days. Loooonnnggg days. More here then!

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