Sunday, December 6, 2009

Fall's Here! And Now It's Gone.

The residents of City Cabin have been a lot delinquent with regards to updates. In fact we missed a whole season. Fall was pretty nice, and a few weeks longer this year.

The oak was as brilliant as any time we've lived here.

Our neighborhood became notorious for having one of it's members quoted in the local paper complaining about the noise of the new football stadium. We checked out some of the opening night hoopla, not a bad perspective without a ticket.

And the fish were able to stay outside until the middle of October.

The pioneering four made it through another summer. Biggie is our favorite.

But a funny thing happened...

These guys showed up.

At the end of July we noticed that we had a lot of little dark quarter-inch fry swimming around in the pond. Goldfish eat their young but we held out hope that one or two of the most agile might survive. By September we regularly saw two of the young but no more. We were a little surprised to pull out six on October 18. We were happy to finally get number seven, a little fast fish a week later. And we were shocked on October 31 when we were draining the water from the pond in preparation for the upcoming deep freeze. A huge dark fish revealed itself. The shock was two-fold:
1. Of the eight young the average size is now about an inch long. This fish is at least three inches long, closer in size to the adults than the other young.

2. We keep the fish in the lower, larger pond. This fish appeared in the upper, smaller pond. To get there the little fish or egg would have had to have gone for a ride through the water pump in the few minutes a week that the filter is off being cleaned.

For now the family is spending its time reunited in their second home/plastic tub. Little do they know that their owners just completed a Craig's List transaction today and they'll soon be movin' on up in the world to 55 gallons enclosed in glass.

On the building front it's been pretty quiet. The warm fall allowed for some time spent in the garage trying out a few new/inherited tools. The drill press and bench grinder came from my grandfather via my great uncle. I don't know when either last operated but both worked great for making metal support braces for the work bench.

All that is left is to cap the ends and add a metal work surface with backsplash. That will have to be ordered as I don't have a torch or plasma cutter. Yet.

Friday, August 7, 2009

The Dog Days

It's been a busy summer travel season at Citycabin. That's the excuse we're offering for few home improvements and infrequent updates. During packing the most senior cat tried a classic suitcase trick but little did he know that Davey Crockett hats are not in style in Caliswedornia.

Despite a cool, dry spring the latest gardening projects were going according to plan.

Excellent pond plant choices this year have made for clear water and happy fish... happy that our 4 pioneering goldfish are now 4 goldfish and 3+ baby goldfish. If you're patient and the light is just right, you might catch a glimpse of one of the small, gray offspring. Adults eat their young so professionals separate the two groups after hatching. At citycabin it's all about natural selection and we're rooting for the young to be good at hiding until they're too big to be eaten. Half-Incher is a fine young man we have high hopes for him in the future.

This isn't him. He's too good to be caught in a photograph. This is his enemy. Or mom or dad.

And the inaugural vegetable gardens offered a nice crop of lettuce, a fair amount of green beans, pretty-but-stomach-burning inedible radishes, a few cucumbers, micro carrots, and zero-yielding broccoli and strawberries. Just wait until next year!

From heirloom to cherry we have 8 different varieties of tomato plants in various stages of development. They're a bit further along than this June photo

Actually more like this:

but an early frost or squirrel attack might prove catastrophic.

In summation the summer of 2009 will be remembered most for plants, ponds and critters not from Citycabin proper but other places.

Keep 'er between the lines

Look out for trees

A nice walk among 1000+ year-old trees

Senior picture

Note to self: remember to turn left ahead

and right, then left, then right, then left

And don't question who owns the beach

These three do

Some thousands of miles away...

are wild berries to be picked.

Getting around sans Mustang

Look out for the locals

They're crafty

Even the ants don't mess around.

Brackish Lake Superior



Best finished with sauna

Sunday, June 14, 2009

some pun using the classic film Willow should go here

we've played with sticks this week. or, to be more specific, with diamond willow, which is essentially a fungal infection gone right. in relation to this particular willow, here is one of the most poorly designed pages on the interwebs.

about two winters ago, it seemed like a good idea to trudge into a frozen swamp, clamber through some runty trees, pick out cool dead branches, drag them to a road, load them, use a sacrificed kitchen knife to scrape off all the bark, sand for hours, and then seal these branches (thanks for the help, dad! i love being an only child). the result is pure awesome:

so, these finished branches (each is about eight-ish feet long) sat in our garage for a long time. not because we didn't like the wood, but because we weren't quite sure how to best use it. there was thought of a Bird-Feeding Station (the idea grew to such epic proportions that we just gave up on it. tough to build disneyland in the back yard, you know?), something like a tripod, maybe railing, a border, who knows? and then, drunk on the feeling that the end of school will give a couple of teachers, we just went for it.

we made art:

and then we decided to shabby chic the railing on the front steps.

before (SO lovely):

last time you saw sparks, it was for stomp. now he's working to join savage aural hotbed:

a drill press older than the ages of all my pets plus me combined helped in process, along with the dremel, which seems to make an appearance in most home improvements:


and you might think snakes are awesome, but so are birds:

Friday, May 22, 2009

Shovel Fever

The blue tarp was supposed to suppress growth and set us up for a clean, blank slate for planting a new shade garden.

For future reference, multiple weeks under a blue tarp = the most lush grass in the yard with minimal dandelion growth. Don't be fooled, this patch under the oak is little but dirt and the most hearty crabgrass, creeping charlie and other miscellaneous weeds by mid June.

Time to alter the shade garden preparation plans. Deep tillage became sod relocation. We love you sparrows but we're not so down with moonscaping the yard. This spring there are a number of other fine places to get a dust bath.

Their fun was happening here:

Our fun was happening here:

A portion of the turf crumbled during transplantation but even 1% success beats the erosion that was occurring before.

Thanks to friends, family and the st. paul farmer's market, we had built up a nice stockpile of plants waiting to move in. Finishing the path and mulching the garden had to wait. There wasn't much motivation left in the evening after this citycabin project.

During the fun this guy showed up over our heads. This is the first sighting of a scarlet tanager around citycabin. They are apparently often overlooked given their propensity for remaining high in the tree canopy.

And the bubbling pond sounds have brought a few new friends this spring. I'm a dolt, so this intially looked like a gigantic strange-acting wren that really liked falling water. Instead, "books" and my resident bird expert tell me this is an American Redstart, it prefers to breed in moist mixed and deciduous woods with undergrowth and in swamp woods (we fooled you with our that-day purchased dwarf cattails, sucker!). It droops its wings and fans its tail with bright plumage to flush insect dinner.

Update from an earlier posting: Our mallard buds have dropped by every day or three since the initial visit. Before this cat was brought in from the mean streets of South Turtle Lake I once watched her stalk wild geese, outweighing her 5x at least. It's good to see that she hasn't lost her sense of adventure.