Green things are appearing here and there about the estate.  Except for the crocuses–or is it croci, plural, you know–most of these items are a mystery to me.  No, I lied; I recognize the snowdrops too.  Pity they had to bring snow along as well.  This green outburst is certainly welcome, after I spent time last fall poking bulbs into the ground at various and sundry locations.  The next step will be to find the wrappers that the bulbs came in so that I have some inkling as to what these chartreuse cuties might be.    It is   a comfort to know that at least the squirrels and other hungry rodents did not get to serve them all up as appetizers at the big winter pig-out before hibernation.  There certainly were trilliums involved, red and white( the Ohio state wild flower, Trillium grandiflorum). Dutchman’s Britches are out there somewhere and so is something called Butterfly Weed.  Might even be some anemones.   I’ve been looking for the battered Jack-in-the-pulpit population…they got moved and mulched and generally subjected to stresses that shy little woodland types don’t do well at.  Hope that at least some will turn up in a few quiet spots.  The bloodroot and hepatica or liverwort (so named because the leaves are three-lobed, like your liver) have not yet shown their faces but the ferns are starting to stir themselves; the ones which hung tough all winter are looking even greener and the ones that went under cover are sending up knobby scouts to check out the status of temperature and daylight.  I’m hoping that the spring beauties return; they were plentiful in the front yard but the front yard underwent  a major transformation, with dirt being shoved hither and yon,  grass seed being introduced ( “How do you do. I’m here to beautify as much of this clay wasteland as possible”) and new shapes and shades appeared from one end to the other.  The weeping white spruce is starting to straighten up so that it doesn’t look so much like The Hunchback of Notre Dame and it has acquired a young cousin out in the back, replacing the blue spruce that was here just to give the place some class during the Christmas Walk.
The cherry laurel at the corner of the porch has gone to the Big Woodpile In The Sky, to be replaced by something else–birch? locust? dogwood?– that does not have little, black, juicy, POISIONOUS fruits that don’t match the colors of the carpet that they get tracked in on.  All of the horticultural descriptions mention that the tree is fast-growing, easy to grow, etc., etc.; nobody pays attention to carpet.  I have carpet.  The fruits did not appear until the tree was mature.  It looked good, shaded the corner of the porch, had nice fall color…all good…then, presto, there was fruit…messy!  Someone is going to have to make it clear to the next specimen to adorn that spot that mess from outside will not be tolerated; I have plenty of mess inside already.
And besides checking out the situation outside, I took a look–actually, it was more of a sniff–at the inside, the inside of the oven.  I was forced to do so when preheating the oven and opening the door to put proposed baked goods inside resulted in having the smoke alarm go off, startling me and the cats until the exhaust fan could “suck it up and blow it out”. The short-term solution is to fan the fumes away from the device but that’s not for the long haul. Blue clouds rolled out–could have been black raspberry cobbler or cherry pie juice, with cheese and / or pizza leaks a distinct possibility–and the whole house reeked of charred sugar for quite a while.  So…something had to be done before the GFNVFD showed up at my doorstep with hoses at the ready.
But that’s all in the past. We got “down and dirty” and cleaned the oven
The self-cleaning function is kind of a misnomer; the instruction booklet says to wipe up spills as they occur.  If I were going to clean the thing on a regular basis, why would I buy a appliance that purported to do the job itself?  So, anyway, I wiped out the crunchy stuff, vacuumed the crumbs, set the timer, locked the door…and away it went.  Smelled funny but not awful.  Took two hours to clean, one hour to cool down.  If I’d had the presence of mind to think ahead about the process, it would have been a fine opportunity to set some yeast rolls on top to rise; the top got pretty warm.  Maybe next time…assuming there IS a next time.  Cleaning is not something that I rush into, willy-nilly.  These things require thoughtful contemplation…planning…procrastination.  Either that or my mother plans a visit.