Thrilling and Not-So-Thrilling Developments

The most thrilling new development is that my contractor came with a couple of his workers yesterday and finished framing my sidewalk and stoop. He’d hoped to have the sidewalk poured today, but apparently, all the concrete guys are up in the northern part of the state installing or re-installing windmills. I’m not really sure what the story is. All I know is that no one could come do my job until Monday. Meantime, I can enjoy the esthetics of the framework, especially since, as you can see, it used up a bunch of scrap lumber leftover from other projects.

If all goes as planned, sometime next week, I will actually be able to go out the backdoor. Even better, I will be able to go directly to the garage. Yay!

Now I just have to figure out what I want to do with the island between the sidewalks. Plants of course, but do should I fill in the hilly area with dirt and then do some sort of ground cover? Do I do a container garden? (I will be doing a container garden between the house and the ramp at the bottom of the photo, so perhaps that will be too many containers.) Should I put in a bush or some sort of fancy boulder? Or do I leave as is, and just plant whatever and see what happens. So many choices!

On the middling thrilling front, I should be getting a few plants next week that I’d ordered from a desert nursery, in an effort to see what will grow in this alkaline, dried-out clay soil. I could put some of those plants in that island, but I think I’d like to something less haphazard since it will be the most visible and visited garden spot in my yard.

On the not so thrilling front, I’d ordered some protein bars to add to my scant emergency food supply. (As of now, that supply consists of a couple cans of beans, a couple cans of tuna, and three freeze-dried meals leftover from my camping days.) The bars were supposed to be low carbohydrate, but it turns out they were high carbohydrate. Apparently, they did some sort of shady math to subtract out the carbohydrates. They didn’t subtract out the carbohydrates themselves, you understand, just played around with the numbers to get a “net” figure. Luckily, I hadn’t paid a lot for these bars — they were a sample pack that I somehow got for half price. And anyway, they are just for emergencies. (You notice that I use the full word — carbohydrates? No “carbs” for me!)

But truly, those bars are a minor non-thrill. Greater by far is the thought of finally getting some of the necessary work done on my back yard!

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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

More Concrete

I recently got a bill for my car insurance along with a letter. The company was all puffed up with their magnanimity because — as they said in the letter — people were driving less, saving them billions of dollars, so were giving the money back to their customers via discounts. Sounds great, right? And sure enough, the bill did show a discount of $30. But a quick perusal of my previous bill showed that they had raised my rates by $40 for a net increase of $10. If rates are based on the company’s costs and payouts, and if people were in fact driving less and hence getting in fewer accidents and costing the company less, how could my base insurance have gone up? Sounds arbitrary to me, and just another of the many ways big companies look out for us and thank us for our patronage.

On a less cynical note, the workers finally were able to get the jackhammer to tear up my old sidewalk in preparation for building a new one without bumps and cracks for me to trip over. (Now these people really do look out for me, paying attention to things that might be hazardous around here for me as I get older, and they don’t brag about their magnanimity, either.)

They’re planning on coming back this afternoon to remove the concrete so that tomorrow they will be able to start building the framework for the new sidewalk and stoop, which brings me closer to being able to use the back door. I am so looking forward to not tracking mud into the house! I’d be tracking in some anyway, but I have an area set up in the enclosed porch by the back door for a mud “room” to help keep from tracking the dirt into the rest of the house. (I remove my shoes when I come inside no matter what door I use, but the bigger mats in the back collect more dirt than the smaller ones in front.)

The guys were worried about me inadvertently walking out the back door and damaging myself on the river of broken concrete, but I assured them I am long out of the habit of using that door. (The step is way too steep for my still-healing knee.) Too bad the broken concrete is so dangerous and impractical, because it has a rather appealing artistry to it.

Still, practicality is more important than artistry, and a new sidewalk will be wonderful. It will certainly be more of a boon than any fake discount, and more concrete.

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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