01. April 2015 · Comments Off on Spring Having Sprung · Categories: Domestic

My Tiny Patch of Suburban Paradise

My Tiny Patch of Suburban Paradise

Or, at least, it has sprung in this part of the world: the wisteria bloomed, the Spanish jasmine is blooming, everything but the gherkin cucumbers that I planted several weekends ago has put up little green blades, pairs of leaves, or as in the case of the potatoes – whole clusters of green and greenish-purple leaves. There are even embryonic apples on the two trees – clusters of three or four little green marble-sized things, which is gratifying. We were worried about the apple trees being suitably pollinated, but the one from Lowe’s three weeks ago and the lonely one planted last year both look to have been visited by bees, the breeze, or whatever. And the peach tree has several long green things that might eventually become peaches in the fullness of time. Over the last weekend, we took some time for retail therapy and purchased some more things for the garden; potting soil, a better grade of garden soil than the unimproved clay normally on order in this neighborhood, some bulbs and roots and corms to improve some of the unimproved corners. Hauling heavy bags and pots hither and yon, scooping up last years’ leaves … well, that proved pretty exhausting. But at least, I now have a back yard that I’m not embarrassed to invite neighbors into. And at the very least, we will have some produce and herbs out of it, although I am still in two minds about chickens.Embryo Apples - Tree 2

My daughter has spotted a chicken coop at Sam’s Club, you see; quite a lavish one, as these things go. The last excursion into Sam’s we went to look at it again, and struck up a conversation with a woman who was also looking speculatively at the display coop. She turned out to be an artist, a neighbor of Victoria’s Black Swan Inn on Holbrook Road, and a friend of Howard the glass artist … so anyway, she talked up the Starving Artists Show in La Villita this weekend. She and my daughter swapped pictures of their creations on their cellphones, and we talked shows and budget shopping and scrounging, the best thrift shops around. It turns out that we are both fans of Thrifttown, and the conversation reminded me that I really ought to stop by there and get some new jeans. The one comfortable pair was pretty close to disintegrating, and well … we were going to hit Rainbow Gardens again, so why not check for any bargains to be had as long as we were going that way?

Purple Iris - hopefully the first of many

Purple Iris – hopefully the first of many

My daughter is always on the look-out for quality crystal and vintage glass, which sometimes show up in venues like Thrifttown, so we did a spin through that section – but on the way from there to the other side of the store, I spotted something oddly familiar, on a shelf with the usual assortment of battered pots and pans; green and pristine, with the glass and metal lid taped securely together. Was it … could it be? Why, yes it was – a classic Chantal enamel small stock-pot with the full-depth metal insert for cooking pasta! You can’t even get that kind or color of The PrizeChantal any more, save on Ebay for prices very close to what they would have been when new. I know this, because about fifteen years ago, I upgraded from the budget set of Revere-ware pots and pans that I had bought when I moved out of the barracks. I picked Chantal because they were nonreactive enamel, nicely styled, had a narrow metal rim around the edges of the pots and pans where the enamel would be most prone to chip, came in a pleasing number of sizes and colors, had glass lids (also edged with metal), and were of high quality but not so expensive that they were out of sight. So I upgraded and was totally happy with cobalt-blue pots and pans, which have served admirably, with hardly a chip or crack among them, although the metal rims of the most heavily-used pots are rather dinged. Alas, like picking my everyday household china from Reading China and Glass at the outlet mall in San Marcos, and thinking that they would be in business forever endeavor and I would be able to replace broken pieces and perhaps enlarge on what I had … Chantal stopped manufacturing that style, and all colors except for bright red and steel-finish. Well …(insert colorful oath here) I suppose I can always trust to luck on Ebay when I want to add another small saucepan or two, but here was a lovely pot to cook pasta in (or even to use as a canning kettle) for the not unreasonable price of $15.

Yes, of course I grabbed it. Even being green instead of cobalt blue, I’d have been kicking myself from here to Waco and back again, if I hadn’t.

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