This year we will finally redo our kitchen. It’s ugly, it’s half-finished, and most importantly it is inconvenient in all kinds of ways. Remodelling a kitchen costs a lot money and time, and I’ve been putting off the work of planning that project for a long time. No more! New year, new energy. The time has come.

The current kitchen has innumerable cosmetic problems that will be nice to fix (such as actually finishing the walls and such… and installing a countertop that isn’t cracking and peeling along the edges, and cabinet doors that hang straight) but most of the time I don’t even notice these things. I am so used to them that I filter them out.

I’m really looking forward to functional storage that actually fits our needs and, most of all, a larger working area. Currently I do all my chopping and stirring in that little corner space which is so narrow that I often use it diagonally, facing the corner. It’s hard to even imagine the luxury of having, maybe, like, twice that space!

The bird feeder makes for great mealtime entertainment. It’s kind of like an aquarium but natural and noisy.

This year, like last year, redpolls dominate. Goldfinches, great tits, blue tits, nuthatches, jays, and blackbirds are all regular visitors, but none in such numbers as the redpolls.

When the redpolls come en masse, there are tens and tens of them, such a swarm that they are hard to count. The “restaurant” feeder they like best has 12 “seats”, plus some room on the rim. Those spots are all completely full. More birds hang around nearby, waiting for their turn. And on the ground below, there’s at least as many as up on the feeder – and then yet more birds in the trees and bushes that we can hear but not see.

My aronias go ombre when they change colour: from light orange at the bottom, through dark orange, red, and finally near-black.

When it comes to indoor plants, I’m an indifferent and ignorant gardener. Out in the garden, I know all the species and varieties that I have, and that I don’t have but could have. Indoors, there’s various green things, and I only know the names of some of them. I re-pot them way less often than they deserve, and I’m only diligent about watering the most sensitive ones. The rest all get watered on the same schedule, when Eric thinks its time – no individual attention there.

Therefore it’s a pleasant surprise when some of the plants look like they really thrive.

The apple tree has been dropping apples. I thought that meant it was time to pick them all, but when we tried doing that, most of the fruit still on the tree turned out to be not at all ripe yet – all greenish and stuck hard to the branch.

We did pick the ripe ones on the ground though, and they were plenty. The pile in the photo is just a small part of today’s harvest. Some were a bit bruised, but since the ground is soft and padded with grass (what a great excuse to not mow the lawn there!) we also found many that were unblemished and in perfect shape.

Plenty of apples this year.

There’s no way we can eat them all. We can eat some as they are, and bake a cake or two,] or even three, but that’s it. We’ve made apple jam in the past, and apple wine, and apple chutney. They’ve all been delicious, but we don’t actually eat/drink much of any of those. One batch of apple wine lasts us years. But maybe we could juice them?

The Ribes (flowering currant) are among the (surprisingly few) failed parts of the new hedge. Two of the three bushes I planted look to be completely dead, with not a single green leaf on them. Some others that at first looked dead (such as a few of the Spireas) have sprouted at least a few puny green leaves after the drought ended, but not these two. I’m very pleased that it ended so well, given the circumstances.

Most of the hedge survived and is even thriving much better than I had expected. The Aronia bushes are full of berries. The Potentilla are blooming, even though they have been on the verge of dropping their leaves, repeatedly. The Mahonias also look to be doing well.

The kitchen faucet is leaking.

The oven door is falling apart and it takes a special two-hand “twist and lift and pull” to open it fully.

And the veneer on the kitchen table is worn through in places, and two of the chair backs have broken and been screwed together.

But it makes no sense to replace these things one by one when what we really need is a whole new kitchen, so we make do and keep patching things until I somehow find the time to go kitchen shopping. It’s kind of close to becoming urgent.

Finally, finally proper heavy rainfall during the night.