Sorry I haven't had a chance to post more often. I've been taking Fridays and Mondays off (love those 4 day weekends!) and our Internet connection at home isn't working, which is in some ways a good thing because I'd probably spend way too much time blogging and reading blogs instead of gardening, doing laundry, etc.
New house update: the two long first story walls are up! My husband's older kids, Ryan 26, Sarah 23, and Tom 21, and Tom's girlfriend Abby, came on Sunday to help out and we got the walls lifted in place despite the heat. Now I can visualize better what the house will look like. The front wall is oriented due south, with an opening for an 8 foot patio door with tall 2 foot windows on either side. This will take advantage of the low winter sun; the floor in front of the windows will be dark colored ceramic tile to hold heat from sunlight. The wood stove will be 8 feet from the windows, with a half wall behind it for additional thermal mass. It's hard to imagine the utility of these passive solar features on a 90 degree day, or the value of R40 insulation everywhere, but in the middle of winter it will make a difference!
Garden update: We've had several meals of fresh broccoli, which for some strange reason the kids love. Diva cucumbers, a great slicing variety, are starting to get to perfect size, and I'm getting a few pickling cucumbers. I wish the picklers would all get the same size at once. I dug some new potatoes yesterday, Red Gold and Viking Purple. I'm so hesitant to take too many new potatoes, though, even though I should have plenty of potatoes for storage. The pole beans are just beginning to flower, and I saw inch-long beans yesterday. The neighbors gave us some flat Italian-style green beans from their garden for dinner last night; I know I need to plant some of those next year! Tomatoes are growing like crazy, but even my extra early varieties (Stupice, Sub Arctic, Legend, and Siberia) have yet to ripen. Patience, patience. I am getting a few yellow cherry tomatoes from a container plant but all those tiny bites do is tease my appetite for more.
Nature update: It is August, and that means goldenrod and asters are blooming. Asters-the end-of-summer flower! We were over at the neighbors' house last night and there was literally a swarm of hummingbirds at their two feeders. I suppose it's getting towards migration time. Yesterday I got out my butterfly ID book and identified a couple of the most commonly seen butterflies here--Milbert's Tortoiseshell and White Admiral. Of course there are swallowtails and monarchs, and lots of little blues and whites that just won't hold still long enough for me to get a good look!
That's enough for now...gotta get some work done, if I have to, I guess...