Jack’s Walk

©voyager, all rights reserved

©voyager, all rights reserved

My grandmother loved flowers and my grandfather adored my grandmother and so he kept a large mixed flower garden where something was blooming from earliest spring until latest fall. Every few days he would tour the garden and cut the finest blooms for my Oma who kept them in an  indigo blue vase beside her reading chair. First would come tulips and hyacinths, then branches of apple, cherry and plum blossoms. Soon lilac would follow in fragrant shades of deep purple and white and then finally, finally, the peonies would bloom. They were my Oma’s favourite flower and their yearly appearance was an anticipated event.

I’ve always wanted to grow peonies, but it’s one of those things I never quite got around to. We have a small yard and a large patio and we just didn’t have space. Then, one of our trees died. It was a white lilac tree (not a lilac bush) that had never done well and suddenly I had an open space big enough for peonies. A friend who helps me with my garden found 2 peony shrubs and last year we planted them in early June. They struggled and straggled along over the summer and fall and I wasn’t sure I’d get blooms this year, but about 2 weeks ago buds appeared, three on the pink bush and one on the purple bush. I’ve been filled with anticipation waiting for them to open and yesterday when the sun finally appeared all three pink flowers opened at once and they’re glorious.

©voyager, all rights reserved

©voyager, all rights reserved

©voyager, all rights reserved

©voyager, all rights reserved

The Art of Book Design: A Houseboat on the Styx

John Kendrick Bangs. A Houseboat on the Styx. U.S., Harper & Brothers, 1895.

Today’s book is extra-special because it belongs to our very own Anne, Cranky Cat Lady. It’s also my very first reader submission for this column and I thank Anne for that very much. She tells me this book belonged to her parents and I can see that it’s landed in a good next home with someone who recognizes that the value of a book is more than just as a repository for stories.

Often when I post a lovely, old book I wonder what it feels like in your hand. What are its textures, its weight and its point of balance? What of the thickness of its papers and the feel of its edging as you turn a page? I wonder how the binding sounds as you open the book and what is the faint fragrance of its paper and glue and incense of ink. Modern e-readers are fine, functional things and I use one myself sometimes, but a book, a real book, is a treat for the senses and not just the mind.

If you have a real book that you’d like to share, I’d like to see it. Just e-mail me at the link on the sidebar. Thanks again, Anne, for sharing your A Houseboat on the Styx.

At least I had a pretty break

Hello there. I know, I’ve been very absent recently. Work was pretty demanding, the Damokles’ Sword of not knowing whether my contract will be renewed hanging over my head* and life being busy as usual.

Last weekend we first had #1’s “culture workshop”, which is an evening when all the groups in her school can present their projects, including her class. It was an amazing evening and the kids are really damn talented, from the chubby boy with the glasses doing a kick ass rap presentation to the Syrian girls reciting poetry about their home town Aleppo.

The next day was the little one’s school festival, which usually means the very same people working a lot. It#s the same everywhere. My colleague was totally stressed out because she was organising things for her kid’s festival the same weekend. Or as Pratchett noted: if you want to get something done, give it to somebody who is already busy.

And the works in the garden have finally begun. There’s nothing like coming home with a migraine and having people use heavy machinery around the house.

As a result, we used this long weekend (holiday on Thursday, “bridge day” on Friday) to lick our wounds and recover and spend some very quiet time together, going for walks etc.

But I also got some resin art done over the weeks, especially after Marcus’ latest parcel.

Some of this will be up for sale/auction for the FtB legal defence fund, so if you set your eye on something, just let me know.

*I’m pretty positive that I won’t be unemployed come next term, but that’s not the same as knowing and I’ve noticed that it has been slowly wearing me down.

First of all, this is what the garden looks like now:

©Giliell, all rights reserved

In tearing down the old stuff they found tons of unreasonable concrete which they have to get our somehow.

First project: tealight holder:

©Giliell, all rights reserved

These look very complicated but are actually dead easy and I’d say the perfect project if you want to do something with resin but not invest a lot of money in moulds and stuff: Just pour your resin onto wax paper, let cure for about 12 hours, fold over a glass, fix with a rubber and cure completely.

©Giliell, all rights reserved

©Giliell, all rights reserved

The fish are printed again, though I bought the sheet this time.

Next projects are under the fold:

[Read more…]

Mah Pollard, Mah Coppice

I am sorry for not posting yesterday. I have plenty of various pictures, but I still have a huge backlog of work around the garden as well due to the six weeks that I have spent lounging in my bed drinking tea and whatnot. And I think it will take a few more weeks to get back on track.

These last few days I had to clean up some rubble from house renovations. I used it to repair the gravel-covered area behind my house, waste disposal trucks made some grooves there that needed filling. And as for yesterday, the weather was splendid and these are the fruits of my labor.

Firewood © Charly, all rights reserved. Click for full size.

Also, I am totally knackered today, but it is hard to take a picture of that.

I was shredding and cutting wood from coppiced and pollarded trees in my garden. I have planted these trees years ago specifically for this purpose. The pollarded trees are willows, some local variety of Salix fragilis that unfortunately does not grow as fast as I would wish to. But I also got a few willows of another species from lowlands in Pilsen, which looks a lot more promising.

Pollarded willow © Charly.

Pollarded willow © Charly, all rights reserved. Click for full size.

For the coppice, I bought poplar hybrid Populus nigra x Populus maximowiczii Max 4. It grows well, but it would be better if I had the resources to plow the area first. As it is, it takes for the trees two-three years to really take root and unfortunately, during that time a lot of them die to water voles. Water voles are a huge problem, despite the fact that I do not live anywhere near water. One year they got into my bonsai trees and totally massacred them, destroying even some very valuable ones. And they make setting up of the coppice a real pain in the nether regions.

Coppice © Charly, all rights reserved. Click for full size.

That is why as of now I only have only one row of really established trees and one row of two-year-old trees that should hopefully take off this year. The rest of the coppice was planted last year, but this spring we had to renew about 30% of it and unfortunately due to my illness it was not done on time and properly, so it is questionable whether it will work or not.

The wood of this particular poplar tree is not as good firewood as hardwood would be, it is very light, almost like balsa. But what it lacks in density, it really more than makes up in volume. Even so, I am also planting oaks, hazels, and maples in the coppice, they sprout all around the garden anyway and this way I get some use out of them in the future. And this year I bought 200 hornbeam seedlings and planted them around the area near the hedge. That is the south edge, thus the slower-growing hornbeam won’t be overshadowed by the super-fast-growing poplars and willows. Unfortunately, it too is a very tasty water vole snack – one of the bonsai trees that fell victim to their raid was hornbeam and nothing was left of the tree back then except a tiny pencil-like stub and a few splinters. But I already planted hornbeam for hedge a few years ago and it thrives well in this area so I hope the trees in the coppice will grow faster than the voles manage to eat them.

I have several hundred square meters of my garden for the coppice, which means that in a few years I could grow a significant portion of my firewood (I estimate it at about 30%, or 100% every 3 years) on my property. That is one little project that I could do on my own to go from burning fossil fuels to renewables.

The Art of Book Design: The Velveteen Rabbit

Bianco, Margery Williams; Illustrations by Nicholson, William, Sir. London, Heinemann, 1922.

This is the original cover from the first publication of the book in 1922. I’ve included a few interior plates to showcase the simple, tender artwork that brings the story to life.

Bianco, Margery Williams; Illustrations by Nicholson, William, Sir. London, Heinemann, 1922.

Bianco, Margery Williams; Illustrations by Nicholson, William, Sir. London, Heinemann, 1922.

Bianco, Margery Williams; Illustrations by Nicholson, William, Sir. London, Heinemann, 1922.



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