May. 14th, 2003 05:49 am
zoethe: (leafy pent)
Growing a garden makes you look at rain a different way. Sure, you can water and water and keep your plants alive, but rainwater is what makes them flourish (there is a simple explanation for this - no chlorine in the rainwater). Last fall, while I was unemployed, was when I decided to take gardening seriously and started envisioning the plan that would eventually be our wonderful new back yard. (Everything has grown up considerably, but I don't have a recent photo.) My first nod to this newfound desire to grow things was the planting of some herbs and about 100 tulip, daffodil, and crocus bulbs.

It took several days, and ended with some large clumps where I gave up on the bulb planter and just pounding the hardpan doil with a shovel to get enough scraped off. I also planted two butterfly bushes, but could barely dig holes big enough to acommodate them. I'm kind of amazed that they survived.

Sunday before gaming [livejournal.com profile] neorxnawang and I went the garden shop, where I bought some herbs, a flat of ivy (48 plants), three bleeding hearts and two large wisteria (they were fresh out of partridge in a pear tree, sadly). We got home with an hour to spare and I decided to start planting. I remembered last year's experience and winced as I pulled on the gloves.

The trowel sunk into the earth like a welcome lover. Instead of scratching and scraping away at the soil by centimeters, two turns were enough to dig holes to accommodate the herbs. For the smaller ivy I didn't so much have to dig a hole as to press the soil to one side and set one in, firm the soil around its roots. I planted half of it within the hour, then finished the ivy and planted the bleeding hearts in the evening.

The wisteria waited for Monday because the next storm came through. The four foot-high plants were in 18" pots, meaning LARGE holes. (Actually, driving home from the greenhouse on Sunday with them standing in the trunk of my sedan, tied in, high above the roof, was a little like being a float in the Macy's parade.) Even at the bottom of the hole, the soil was saturated.

Today is supposed to be sunny and warmer, and the foliage on my lovelies will no doubt be appreciably larger by the time I get home. But I know that the rain we're supposed to get tomorrow keeps the soil soft and pliant for the roots I can't see, spreading and anchoring these perennials in the soil. And this first year, that's the most important part of all. I'm grateful for the rain. I'm grateful we didn't attempt this last summer during the drought. But I'm also grateful that I fought that drought-hardened soil and can appreciate what we have so much more.
zoethe: (Default)
At 2:30pm yesterday the porch swing was still not hung. So I called the landscaper and left a whimpering message: I know you're busy, but I really wanted it because it's my birthday and...

When I got home at 8:15 last night, the porch swing was up! I got to have a b-day swing by my little pond. Much happiness.

I shall swing before I leave for work this morning, as well. Yay!
zoethe: (Me)
I was all prepared to have a very bad day today. [livejournal.com profile] theferrett is going out of town and I have to work and study and go to school, and then I was just going to go home and sit alone for the evening.

Not a very pleasant way to turn 45.

Fortunately, the people who love me rescued me from a deep bout of sorry-for-myself-itis. [livejournal.com profile] neorxnawang and his daughter have baked me a birthday cake, which I will be able to enjoy this evening after class, Ferrett made my morning by getting me exactly what I asked for as a birthday prezzie, and there were lovely birthday bagels and a mocha waiting for me at the office. And the porch swing arrived, though it’s not hung up yet (we have the lure of the other half of the money to get the landscaper back out to finish, so I am not worried about no follow-through). My garden is in, but not so "finished" as to leave me with nothing to do.

As it turns out, a very pleasant way to turn 45.

I woke up this morning and found myself singing: "lalala, I’m 45!" I’m actually remarkably happy about this particular birthday, which surprises me because, while 30 didn’t bother me, 35 did. So when I welcomed 40 with open arms, I figured that 45 would be another difficult landmark. So I’ve been poking at it, like that place on your arm you smacked really hard into a filing cabinet and are sure must be getting swollen and bruised. Am I just numb? Am I really not feeling any pain there?

Apparently I am not.

I’ve been contemplating the source of this contentment. And real happiness. Because despite all the frustration and exhaustion and continual battle with health and injury and school, I am, at the base of it all, happy.

I think it has something to do with the fact that my life isn’t settled. I’m back in school, working toward a major career change, instead of looking back on 20-odd years of working and wondering where it’s gotten me. I’m looking forward and seeing challenges and adventures, rather than another 20 of the same thing and the terror of not being able to retire. I’m looking around me and liking what I see: I love my little house, particularly now that I have a garden that calls to me; I have good friends to buoy me up when I’m down, to encourage me when I’m discouraged, to need me back so that I feel useful; I have family with whom I am at peace, for despite a rocky childhood I have come to know them all as people and do not begrudge them their faults; I have children who, even when trying, are beautiful and intelligent and fun to be with; and I have love, the kind of great love that sustains and nurtures.

Is anyone really richer than I?

I have probably passed the halfway mark for my years in this incarnation—and certainly have lived the majority of my healthy, strong and vibrant years. It is not yet twilight, but the sun is past midsky. Yet I do not fear the years ahead, nor regret those left behind. I am who I am because of what I have known, who I’ve known, how I’ve lived. Not perfect, not even always strong in the right ways. But unique and powerful in my own right.

Happy birthday to me.
zoethe: (leafy pent)
Spent two hours in the backyard today, doing homework by the waterfall. We don't have a proper table-and-chair, but I pulled out the double-seat campchair we got at Sam's Club and it substituted nicely. It has wide armrests and cupholders and a semi-table between the seats. It's sturdy, comfortable, requires no more assembly than an umbrella - and only cost $19.99. Thank you, Skor, Goddess of the Great Deal [g].

Working outside was fabulous. The weather is perfect, low 70s with a slight breeze. Listening to the water trickling is the most amazing, relaxing experience. I caught up on 130 pages of Contracts without really trying that hard.

Only downside: I appear to have gotten a little sunburned in my enthusiasm. (Sunscreen? But it's only April! - d'oh!) I have retreated to the cover of the house for now, but there will probably be a foray to the gardening store and the herb store later this afternoon. I want to get English Ivys to plant along the cyclone fence by the driveway and to see what wonders the Herb lady has for sale. The mint is coming back strong, but the rest appear to have succumbed to late planting and a tough winter.

Oh, and our neighbors love the fountain, too. They can hear it at night when they go to bed. Pictures will be coming shortly, as soon as [livejournal.com profile] theferrett gets them updated [cough cough].
zoethe: (Default)
We remain pergo-less today. My fault -- I cursed it by being home sick, whereby I might acually have seen some of the work getting done. But no, the boss had some sort of family emergency and it being Easter weekend there won't be any weekend work. So my garage is filled with the trappings of the pergola for the weekend and I can't park in it.

Notwithstanding, we do have a lovely fountain and a lot of completed work done back there. It looks terrific. Now I just need to get well enough to enjoy it. I had enough energy this morning to clean most of the crap off my desk, though not all of it by any means. I wanted to go to the store. Didn't make it. Fell back into bed and slept more hours. Staggered up when the doorbell rang re: the pergola. Now trying to gather up the strength to go to the grocery store.

zoethe: (leafy pent)
The landscaping work began today. I am thrilled, but was not expecting it quite so soon. You see, one place to be dug up was a great clump of tulips I planted last fall, before we decided to do this. I asked Ferrett to ask them to please dig up the clump and transplant it to the side of the house. He called later and said they had dug it up and put it in the shade for me to replant. Cool.

I get home, and the backyard looks a bit like Beruit. First of all, I notice that they are not setting in the flagstones the way the BOSS had promised me they would be done - there is a call to the boss. Then I look for my flowers to replant.

Somewhere in the course of the day they broke up the tulip clump and lined the poor things up, firing squad style. Then, like a bad mass grave, they had carelessly chucked topsoil over the bodies. Broken stems and twisted leaves poke up out of the ground. An occasional unopened head tilts toward the sky. I couldn't even try to save them.

Absurd, amusing, and irritating, all rolled in one. Further garden reports as the work progresses.
zoethe: (Default)
First thought: I'm actually going to have one. That really hasn't happened since I got to Cleveland. Last year I was still working for the OPB, so by the time I got home in the evening I was fried from an 11-hour workday. Also, last summer was one of the most ungodly hot and miserable in the history of Cleveland, by all accounts. We had a "normal" winter this year; perhaps it isn't too much to hope for that it will be followed by a "normal" summer.

So, what are the plans? This summer our home improvement efforts are going to focus on landscaping, specifically on turning our small-but-featureless backyard into an oasis of peace and soul-restoring harmony. Next Saturday we will be getting the estimates on having a water garden installed and other landscaping done. The plan is to create the feeling of a cottage garden - many flowers, pathways to different areas, places to sit and relax and enjoy the scenery. It will eliminate the possibility of playing Frisbee out back, but the very size of the plot already eliminated that. This will be my substitute for the front porch I long for and don't have here.

Next plan: getting and raising a puppy. Ferrett's mom has offered to purchase a Golden Retreiver puppy for us as his Christmas present. I miss my dog, and Ferrett has always wanted to have one, so this is a good gift.

Those of you who have raised puppies may well be raising eyebrows at the juxtaposition of these two activities -- aren't puppies and landscaping incompatible? Why yes, yes they are. Ferrett and I have already had stern talks with each other. Me to he: you know you will have to walk it and clean up after it and not let it out to dig in the garden and train it. He to me: You know you will have to weed it and trim it and rake it and maintain it. Both of us to each other: Yes, yes, of course I know. I promise I'll do it, PLEASE can I have it?

I suspect neither of us will do quite as well as the other would like, but I think we'll do fine. And my perennials and his puppy will both grow and give us both much pleasure and some headaches.

I think it will be a good summer.
zoethe: (witch)
1. Had the first landscaping guy out on Saturday. Measurements and ideas, dreams leing laid out in a backyard that is nothing but dead grass and leftover leaves here at the awakening of spring. Another guy is coming out next weekend. I hope it's all done before too late in the summer so we can enjoy it this year.

2. Bought new couches yesterday - well, ordered them and coughed up the dough. The furniture in our livingroom came with the house for a low price and has gone from marginal to embarrassing - a closer observation to note that the cushions were dissolving would have been in order, but we couldn't afford furniture at that time and were grateful for places to park our butts. The new furniture will be a Lane double rocker/recliner and matching couch with massage units and both ends and a fold-down snack tray in the middle--couch potato heaven. I have always loved Lane furniture so am happy. We're also going from beige to burgundy, which will be a big change, and which will also not show off what total pigs we are quite so publicly. Just the ability to sit on the couch without the cushion sliding forward and inching your butt off the edge will be a welcome change.


zoethe: (Default)

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