Working on My Yard

I had a lovely surprise today. It’s not just me who is working on my yard, but a couple of men were sent by my contractor to work on the paths in the back yard.

The metal strips in the photo define one edge of the path, and they surround the area I’ve been digging up for my mini wildflower meadow. As you can see, I still have a lot of digging to go, but with the area defined as it now is, it seems doable.

I’m always amazed by how even a little progress can be so attractive. Although the metal edging is about the pathways and the rock, the dirt area turns out to be special in its own right, with those lovely curving lines. I can imagine how beautiful it will be when the wildflowers bloom, though there is no guarantee that they will. I’m still such a neophyte, that many plants don’t make it. But I’ll keep working on it. If the seeds I plant this fall don’t sprout, I plant more in the spring.

From the photo, it seems to be a sun-dappled area, shaded by a neighbor’s tree, but in the summer, when the sun is high, it’s sunny enough for most flowers, with a bit of shade in the hottest part of the afternoon to keep the poor things from desiccating.

My gardens and the yard — my micro estate — are still mostly a fantasy created out of gardening dreams, but if I keep learning, keep trying, keep doing, eventually, I will end up with a beautiful place.

Oddly, I never intended any of this. I just wanted some sort of ground cover I could throw out there that would take care of itself and look pretty. It was the contractor who thought the paths would help make the place safe for me since he knew I wanted to elder-proof my yard, and I went along with it because it sounded like a good idea. It never occurred to me that the finished product (in the areas where there is a finished product) would be so charming.


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.

Pretty White Walls

The insulation and the walls of the garage are in, and now the painting begins! The walls are white (not blue as they appear in the photo), to make sure the garage is nice and bright.

I’m still a way from being able to use the garage. Once the walls and ceiling are painted, the opener will be installed, and then gravel will need to be brought in to fill in the space between the driveway and the alley. I think the contractor wants the ramp/sidewalk from the house to the garage done before some of the rest of the work to make sure I have a safe way to get from one building to the next, but I’m not sure if the sequence matters as long as the sidewalk is done.

From the beginning, the contractor has understood that I’m fixing the place up now to prepare for my old age so I can be self-sufficient as long as possible, and he’s been very good about pointing out things I should be done, even things I wouldn’t have thought about. But he’s used to elder-proofing houses and yards, and I’m not used to being an elder. Though I’m getting there. Things I didn’t think I’d have to worry about for a few more years, such as going down the steps to the basement, are definitely things I need to worry about now. My bum knee, though it is healing and isn’t preventing me from doing things I need to do, doesn’t like stairs. (It’s a good thing we decided to make the garage big enough for storage because my original idea of storing things in the basement has become defunct.)

It’s nice having someone look at the place from a different point of view than mine. From his standpoint, I’m sure I already seem old-lady-ish, so it’s not much of a stretch for him to consider my safety, especially when I stumble because of a depression in the yard. Such unevenness will be taken care of with loads of dirt — they have to bring in dirt anyway to fill in where the old garage used to be, and to fill in around the garage — so it will be easy enough to expand the fill site. Besides, he’s going to be putting in pathways for me. (Made from something called breeze?)

It will be fun to gradually fill in the corners of the yard and the various secret spaces created by the walkways with interesting plants and artifacts, so that if I can’t go far, I can still have a micro adventure in my micro park. Such an undertaking will take years, of course — not just because I can only do so much at a time but because things take a long time to grow.

The contractor also seems to understand that I like the work he does, but that I also like the companionship. Knowing that congenial people are here, working for my welfare adds an additional dimension to the experience of owning a house and adds to the richness of the experience. Their presence has certainly helped to keep me from feeling completely isolated during these Bob times.

And it gives me something to look forward to on the days I know someone will be here.

Luckily, from a companionship standpoint, things are far from finished. Even though the garage is nearing completion, there is a whole list of other things that need to be done, such as the water lines replaced, the foundation maintained, the gutters fixed. Etc. Etc. Etc.

But I’m getting ahead of myself. Today, I am focusing on the garage and the pretty white wall.


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