More Work Done!

A couple of workers showed up today to continue working on my yard, and they did enough that it actually looks like they are making progress.

This following picture is the side of the house where a long disused driveway used to be. The crib-like structure toward the end of the pathway is a gazebo being built over a concrete slab that was in front of the old garage. There were enough materials leftover from building the new garage — including shingles — that it’s mostly paid for. I’m not sure I will ever use the gazebo, but it’s something I’ve always wanted. Besides, a concrete slab is a terrible thing to waste.

This second photo is the rear of the yard where the old garage used to be. The squared off space in the center of the red pathway will eventually be a raised garden.

I do have another garden spot (the “island” between my back sidewalks) though who knows how much I will ever be able to do with it. Getting down on my knees, even with the help of a garden kneeler is, I am afraid, a thing of the past. This May, when the risk of frost is past, I’ll probably just toss out some seeds, water the area, and see what happens.

Meantime, I am enjoying watching my “estate” take shape.

***

Pat Bertram is the author of Grief: The Inside Story – A Guide to Surviving the Loss of a Loved One. “Grief: The Inside Story is perfect and that is not hyperbole! It is exactly what folk who are grieving need to read.” –Leesa Healy, RN, GDAS GDAT, Emotional/Mental Health Therapist & Educator

What the Wind Blew In

I had a lovely surprise today. I went outside as usual to check the weather, though I really didn’t have to — I could hear the strong winds and knew they would be pushing mountain air our way — but I wanted to see what if anything the wind blew into my yard. What I discovered was . . . workers!

I didn’t expect them today. The one worker who lives nearby comes on the weekend if he comes at all, and with the wind, I was sure they’d find a different job rather than battling with the weed blocker fabric that needs to go under the ornamental rock around the house and the breeze pathways.

And yet, here they are!

Apparently, it’s too windy to do any of their other work, especially putting on siding and trimming trees, so they came here to get caught up a bit. One is working outside and the other — lucky fellow! — is working in the basement out of the wind. I’m especially delighted with the work being done on the basement. It’s an old project that was never finished. The cement floor was put in, which I was most concerned about since the old crumbled concrete floor seemed so dangerous and gave the basement a dungeony feel. I haven’t really been concerned about the cracks in the walls being fixed since they are superficial, and more importantly from my standpoint, I won’t be using the basement for storage. If I do need it for storage, I have a much bigger problem than an unfinished project because I should be getting rid of things rather than accumulating more stuff.

I am concerned, though, about having the sump pump put in, which I reminded them about today. The water table here is high, and when there are copious rains, as there occasionally have been, basements get flooded. It’s sort of silly to be concerned about it during a time of great drought, but in my experience, droughts tend to end with huge rainfalls.

Still, whether necessary or not, it would be good to have one project completely finished.

We also talked about what to get to hang my tools, and once those racks are up, the inside of the garage should be completely finished. The gutters would then be the only extant garage project, but installing them is not a project for a windy day.

I am truly delighted with the paths that are going in. Not only will they add to my safety, they will define the yard as well as fill in a lot of the space I would otherwise have to care for. Right now, caring for the yard is not a problem. To be honest, it’s not a problem because I haven’t been doing anything to care for the lawn, but when I do need to start taking better care of my yard, a couple of patches of grass will be about all I can handle. And I do want some grass since it adds to the curb appeal. Besides, what’s the point of having a lawn mower if you never use it?

The paths aren’t far enough along to show in a photo — mostly all you’d see is the gray fabric, so here are photos of the hen and chicks I planted last year. They are doing surprisingly well considering the harsh winter we had.

As you can see, the dandelions are also doing well.

***

What if God decided S/He didn’t like how the world turned out, and turned it over to a development company from the planet Xerxes for re-creation? Would you survive? Could you survive?

A fun book for not-so-fun times.

Click here to buy Bob, The Right Hand of God.

Waiting

Today has been a day of waiting. My car was supposed to have finally been made road ready by this evening, but even after a day of waiting — another day of waiting — the car still isn’t finished. It started several weeks ago when I took the car in because it kept bucking and stalling. It turns out that the spark plugs had burned out way too fast because of a leaky carburetor. (Too much air in the gas makes the engine run hot.) He ordered a carburetor, which took a couple of weeks. When it came in, I made an appointment for my day off. He likes having the car all day, and he leaves in the evening before I get off work, which pretty much limits his ability to work on my car.

When I showed up for the appointment, he couldn’t work on it. He was backed up, and because of the heavy rain, I didn’t mind waiting another week.

So the next week when I took it in, he changed out the carburetor, but didn’t have time to adjust the valves, and without that adjustment, the car runs like an old rusted out truck that hadn’t been maintained for decades. So, another appointment for today.

And I’m still waiting.

Luckily, he was able to put the car in a bay for the night, which not only protects the car but makes sure it’s at the head of the line for tomorrow. Keeping my fingers crossed!

I don’t know why a day spent waiting feels any different from any other day. I mean, I did the same things — read, play a game on the computer, take a short walk, wander around my yard, talk to neighbors. Oh, and I took photos of my tulips!

I guess it’s more that I don’t have my normal sense of untimeliness when I’m waiting because waiting for something almost by definition indicates a timeline.

I should be used to waiting by now, considering how sporadically anyone comes to do work on the house. I’ve figured out the problem — the same problem a lot of people around here have. The jobs are too small for a contractor to use a full crew, and many workers can’t work without supervision, so it’s hard to split crews into smaller groups. Or something like that.

Not that it matters. If I weren’t waiting for any of these jobs to be done, I’d be waiting for others since there always seems to be something that needs to be fixed.

Meanwhile, there are tulips.

***

What if God decided S/He didn’t like how the world turned out, and turned it over to a development company from the planet Xerxes for re-creation? Would you survive? Could you survive?

A fun book for not-so-fun times.

Click here to buy Bob, The Right Hand of God.

Tulip!

It’s amazing how sore a person can get doing a bit of gardening if it’s at the beginning of the season and she is not yet used to digging holes.

This morning when I went outside to see what the day was like (still the most accurate way of checking the current weather), I noticed that a few of my tulips were budding, and one was in bloom!

I was so thrilled with the discovery that it gave me the energy and inspiration to transplant a couple of lilac bushes. The bushes I planted last year from the Arbor Day Foundation all just stared at me when I watered them, and though they greened up a bit, they never grew. And this winter killed them. I was able to get a couple of “volunteers” from a neighbor to replace the poor moribund twigs.

It didn’t take me that long, and I thought I was outside for a short while, but now? Oh, my. I am sore from head to foot.

So tomorrow, whatever happens inspiration-wise when I go out to check the weather, I will simply enjoy the tulips and resist the urge to do more.

The tulips that flowered are those I planted this past fall. Considering the massive failure of the previous fall’s plantings, I was very careful to prepare the soil and measure the proper depth and distance to plant each of the bulbs. And they did well.

Many of the original bulbs are growing leaves this year (to my surprise and delight), but very few are budding, which according to one gardening site, could mean they weren’t planted deep enough. So next fall, I will have a choice — pile more dirt where the bulbs are, or dig them up, spread them out, and make sure they are replanted at the proper depth.

Or, of course, I could do nothing and see what happens.

***

What if God decided S/He didn’t like how the world turned out, and turned it over to a development company from the planet Xerxes for re-creation? Would you survive? Could you survive?

A fun book for not-so-fun times.

Click here to buy Bob, The Right Hand of God.

Things Are Happening

I dragged out my hoses today and watered my plants. I don’t know if it was the right thing to do, since I don’t know if they need water, but I am erring on the side of wetness. We haven’t had any moisture for several days now, and the last time it rained for any length of time was more than a couple of weeks ago. Considering that today was the first of a series of 80 degree days, the water seemed called for, but I might be sorry when the temperatures drop again. And they will. The last frost around here is around the fifth of May, and that’s still a month away.

The problem with an area like this with early warm temperatures and late frosts is that so often plants grow expecting it to be spring and then go into shock when they realize they woke too early.

Eventually, I’m sure, I’ll be more confident when it comes to gardening, but for now I have to do what I think the plants will appreciate during these unseasonably warm days, and that is give them water and hope I’m not overwatering.

So far, it seems, most of my bushes came through the winter okay. The only ones that seem to have given up the ghost are those that struggled all last summer. Luckily, I am in this for the long haul, so the garden spots in my yard don’t have to be perfect. It’s more important for me to cultivate plants that will survive the wide swings of temperatures.

The most surprising thing so far this spring is that bulbs are springing up all over the place. The first fall I was here, I planted 300 bulbs all around the front lawn area, hoping to see flowers midst the green, but not only did a scant few of the bulbs peek out of the ground, the grass remained inert, too. I figured the bulbs were a lost cause, but apparently not.

It’s amazing what even a sort of wet winter will do! So far, though, only the greenery is visible. No buds. The crocuses bloomed, but they were short-lived. Now the glory of the snow is coming up, and they seem to be hanging around a bit longer than the crocuses did.

Someday, maybe, I will have a yard to be proud of, but for now, the bushes are still tiny, the greengage plums are trying to decide if they want to live here, and many of my fall plantings seem to be hibernating.

Tomorrow, perhaps, a couple of the workers will come to lay out more rock. (Another reason I watered today. I didn’t want to get in their way if they do show up.)

So little by little, things are happening.

***

What if God decided S/He didn’t like how the world turned out, and turned it over to a development company from the planet Xerxes for re-creation? Would you survive? Could you survive?

A fun book for not-so-fun times.

Click here to buy Bob, The Right Hand of God.

Uninspired

Without any great traumas, or even small ones, without any new flowers popping up or more work being done on the house or travels, there’s not much to write about. I hadn’t realized how many different things I used to do simply to have something to say, such as hikes or get togethers, and now that I have no place to hike and the impetus to get out among people has faded because of the social restrictions of the past year, the lack of stimulus is taking its toll. It’s not a problem for me, personally, you understand. I’m quite content on my own, but a quiet life without a lot of input for contemplation and deep thoughts isn’t very inspiring. In fact, the thoughts that do roam around my head are probably the opposite of inspiring, though the most recent spate of uninspiring thoughts might actually inspire me to do some work.

The workers who have been sporadically laying down rock around my garage and house have been keeping their wheelbarrow in my garage so it’s available when they need it. It wasn’t a problem in the winter because I was so seldom in the garage, but now that the weather is warming up, I might want to get to my tools and potting table and I can’t because that wheelbarrow is parked in the way.

I’d saved half the storage area in my garage for the workers to use, but that part of the garage has been filled up with various supplies and pieces of leftover wood. I really should go out there and try to rearrange the stuff to make a parking spot for the wheelbarrow because at the rate they work, this project could last for many more months, and I would like the wheelbarrow out of my way. Or maybe, the next time someone shows up, I should have them do the rearranging.

Eventually, perhaps, all the work will be done and I won’t have to worry about extraneous stuff in the garage. Well, actually, I don’t have to worry about it now. I don’t have to worry about anything. I just do. Besides, the wheelbarrow is really not a problem. It’s just that an empty mind often gets filled up with frustrations; at least mine does.

Luckily, there are plenty of bulbs coming up to give me something more energizing to think of, and it appears as if the lilacs are greening up. I even see a tinge of purple on some of the baby bushes, though I would have thought they were too small and too new to have blossoms. But who knows — most of what happens in my yard surprises me, whether it’s workers showing up or flowers blooming or weeds plotting to take over.

Luckily, there are always books to keep my mind occupied so I don’t fill my head with unproductive thoughts, but most books don’t provide fodder for blog posts.

Come to think of it, I should be glad I don’t have anything to write about it. It means there’s nothing I need to get off my chest or out of my head. It means my life going smoothly. And though a smooth life might not be inspiring, it’s a good thing.

***

What if God decided S/He didn’t like how the world turned out, and turned it over to a development company from the planet Xerxes for re-creation? Would you survive? Could you survive?

A fun book for not-so-fun times.

Click here to buy Bob, The Right Hand of God.

A Thrill of Rain

It rained last night and most of the day. The dreariness of the dark clouds and the windblown drops could have made this an unpleasant day, but instead, there seemed to be a feeling of excitement, as if the sodden ground was thrilled by the possibilities of spring.

Or maybe it’s just me feeling thrilled. After the dryness of the past years, seeing so much rain is a joy. Besides, the chance of seeing green shoots this year, perhaps some flowers, adds a bit of effervescence to the grayness, though I don’t want to get too excited. After all, there are still weeks of possible freezes coming up, and around here, any freeze after the start of spring can kill off incipient blossoms or keep them from budding in the first place.

Still, it’s fun dreaming of greener days.

During the fall, when the workers were here putting in the sidewalk, they used a skid steer, which pretty much tore up my lawn, though lawn is a misnomer. Since I wasn’t sure what I was going to do with the yard, last year I didn’t water what grass there was, so basically the workers just created more bare spots in the brown grass.

People tell me that Bermuda grass is hard to kill, so I’m hoping the rain will resurrect the grass in the dead zones. If not, I’ll think of something to plant once the pathways are in. That way, I’ll know where to plant things so I can take care of them. The scattershot approach to planting bulbs seemed like a good idea, but without knowing where I’d planted things, I didn’t know where to water when rain was scarce. This year, every time I see a bulb, I mark it with a stake, so I’ll know where to water. For now, the clouds are doing the watering for me, dumping plenty of moisture on the grateful ground. We won’t be warming up too much in the next few days, so perhaps the ground will remain wet for a while, giving any lazy bulbs time to wake up.

The gray day put the croci to sleep, but one more dwarf iris did find its way to the surface. A pleasant surprise in a surprisingly pleasant day.

***

What if God decided S/He didn’t like how the world turned out, and turned it over to a development company from the planet Xerxes for re-creation? Would you survive? Could you survive?

A fun book for not-so-fun times.

Click here to buy Bob, The Right Hand of God.

Croci

The plural of crocuses can be crocuses or croci, but either way, a plurality of crocuses is a beautiful sight.

I didn’t realize it, but crocuses are from the iris family. Even more interesting to me is that crocuses were originally grown as a spice — saffron — though not all crocuses yield saffron. Saffron only comes from the saffron crocus, a fall blooming crocus.

I don’t know why, but I never particularly liked crocuses. Maybe they weren’t showy enough for me or too low to the ground or some such, but now I am delighted with mine, especially since the blooms were a surprise. Only yesterday, the plants looked like tiny tufts of grass, and considering my non-green thumb, I wasn’t expecting anything from them, though did I hope they might bloom eventually.

When I stepped outside this morning to see if there were any new signs of life, the croci were in bloom, a welcome splash of color in my otherwise drab yard.

I made my rounds, checking the ground for other signs of life, and found another area where crocuses might be coming up. It’s like an Easter egg hunt, though I don’t collect the plants, I merely mark them so I don’t end up walking on them.

I planted the crocuses this past fall, and I spent a lot of time digging a flower bed, measuring the proper depth, and making sure they had enough water all through the winter. In the rest of the yard, the shoots digging their way up to the sun are a surprise since so few of them came up last year, and because of the drought, I figured they’d all died. Such a surprise to see so many potential flowers!

Once my paths are in place, I might even find the courage to plant more bulbs this fall. Or I might chance planting a few bulbs this spring in the hopes of summer blooms. The problem is that because of our winters, the spring-planted bulbs need to be dug up every fall and replanted in the spring, and I haven’t want to do that, but as time goes on, and I get more comfortable with gardening (and the plants stop taking one look at me and dying in despair), I might be more willing to do the work.

Meantime . . .

Croci!

***

What if God decided S/He didn’t like how the world turned out, and turned it over to a development company from the planet Xerxes for re-creation? Would you survive? Could you survive?

A fun book for not-so-fun times.

Click here to buy Bob, The Right Hand of God.

Spring!

Spring slipped in between a couple of storm systems today, fully equipped with sun, warm air, a few fluffy clouds in a bright blue sky, and even a flower! I was so shocked to see this bright purple bloom I couldn’t for a moment remember what it was or where it came from, then I realized it was a dwarf iris from a bulb that I’d planted a year and a half ago. (I don’t know why it appears blue here. Maybe it’s my computer.)

Although I was disappointed in the dismal appearance rate of the bulbs I planted that fall, many seem to be coming up this year, and in fact, seem to have propagated themselves. Now it remains to be seen if I will have any blooms beside this one cheerful iris, though with a new weather system moving in, it’s hard to figure out what will happen. If it remains above freezing and we just get rain, the bulbs will probably have a growth spurt, but if it snows, all bets are off.

I’m hoping the storm holds off an extra day because I have an appointment with my mechanic on Monday to have a new carburetor put in my bug, and that’s the very day the storm is expected. Luckily, I’d only have to drive a quarter of a mile, so it shouldn’t be a problem, but I am not used to driving in inclement weather. Given a choice, I prefer to drive on dry streets, but this is one time I will have to deal with whatever the weather decides to do. Because of my work schedule and the mechanic’s, Mondays are the only days for the work to get done, so unless the weather is truly appalling, I will have to keep the appointment. I suppose if bad weather hits, I could reschedule for the next Monday and hope this isn’t a repeating weather pattern, but I do need to get the car fixed. I don’t mind not being able to drive, but in case of an emergency, I’d have to beg someone for a ride, and though they may be willing, I’m sure it would be an imposition, and I don’t like imposing on people.

But all that’s a consideration for another day. Today the sun is shining, spring is here, and I have a flower in my yard.

Life is good.

***

What if God decided S/He didn’t like how the world turned out, and turned it over to a development company from the planet Xerxes for re-creation? Would you survive? Could you survive?

A fun book for not-so-fun times.

Click here to buy Bob, The Right Hand of God.

The Cycle of the Seasons

Despite all the snow that fell here this winter, we’re still in a drought situation. The snow was the light, airy kind that couldn’t hold together to make a snowball. Not that I wanted to make snowballs, but a couple of people in snowless country wanted me to make a snowman or snowwoman or some kind of snow creature. Apparently, the sort of snow we got didn’t hold much moisture, hence the lack of snowballs.

I don’t imagine the lack of winter moisture will make much difference to me and my garden. When the ground dried between storms, I made sure to water my greengage plums and a few other prized plants. I’m hoping that will be enough to give them a good start this spring.

Spring? Wow, that’s not so far away — only nineteen days! We generally have late snow storms and late frosts, so planting time isn’t until May, but maybe I should start thinking about what I want to plant when the weather becomes optimal. Or not. Since I don’t want to drive a long way, and don’t really have much luck with mail order plants, I’ll be at the mercy of the local hardware store. I suppose I could buy the plants early and keep them inside to give them a better start, but that decision is still many weeks away.

Meantime, I am enjoying the sun and the warmer weather. And I certainly will appreciate the lower heating bills!

One of the odd things about having lived so many years, is that time moves faster in relation to one’s time here on Earth, and so it’s easier to feel the seasons cycling from one to another. Which, of course, is a good reason to enjoy whatever the day brings because before you know it, arctic temperatures will return. But perhaps, with a bit of luck, not until next year.

***

What if God decided S/He didn’t like how the world turned out, and turned it over to a development company from the planet Xerxes for re-creation? Would you survive? Could you survive?

A fun book for not-so-fun times.

Click here to buy Bob, The Right Hand of God