Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Bragging Rights II

While I pay people to work in my yard I also spend time doing hard labor in others' yards.  Last week work was done on the Children's Garden.  Below you can see four raised beds for the vegetables that will get grown this summer and taken to the food pantry.  Hubby in his eagerness overplanted so...

We requested space to expand, double the space, to another four raised beds.

That area above that is mud and packed clay is just waiting for us to add the wood frames, the landscape cloth, the gravel and then fill the beds with soil.

This, of course, took more than one morning to accomplish.  Hubby had to dig drainage ditches below the beds and lay that black pipe in the background once the cloth was tacked down.

Meanwhile I and another much stronger dude shoveled gravel for the paths.

Then the other two worked this gravel over the drain pipes.

I was so exhausted at completion that I failed to get the photos of the final garden...but maybe in the coming weeks once the lettuce and peas are growing, I will share.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Not Really Alone

I wrote that I was alone on Easter, but that was not exactly true.  I had a yardman and his younger brother working on our vast front and back yard.  Here in the photos below, they were moving some very heavy logs.  This man, whom I will call Oscar, has two daughters that are teenagers. They live in Mexico along with the rest of his family and from March until the end of November he lives in our country and works as a supervisor for a landscape company and also brings along a few of his many brothers back with him on work permits.  He and my husband have become friends and so many Sundays he comes and helps us.  Think about living away from those you love for nine months each year so that they can have money to go to college and eat and maintain a nice home!

Below is his youngest brother...sweet and so totally bored with all through his life's view.  He see's this world through those young and complaisant eyes and his life may be somewhat different in this river of the ever-changing.

Oscar is a little stocky in the photo above but by the end of summer he will be lean and mean once again.  He reminds me a little of my dad who was often outside in dusty jeans.

Oscar is a multi-talented person.  He can do construction, is a skilled mason, and can fix almost any small and large engine.  He is honest and pleasant, and yes, we love him.  Totally he could be our son!  We pay him well, I feed him lunch and I tell him when I will be gone on the weekends if I need him, because I have no fear that he or his brothers would ever do anything nefarious to our house.

Only a few people can carry the title "salt of the earth."  It is a most prestigious title in my life book and Oscar definitely wins that award.  I feel lucky to know him.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

This Sunday

Home alone on this Easter morning while hubby is on travel for the week.  Daughter and family are celebrating in Florida and son and DIL perhaps in PA.?  Still I am wishing those of you who are rejoicing the resurrection a good and song filled holiday.

Wishing those of you looking for brightly colored orbs and chasing the Easter Bunny, a laugh filled morning and a chance for a nap when the little ones come down from the sugar high.

And for me I will wait for warming in the afternoon and do some more planting in my yard.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

New Silhouettes

When you move into a new house you find your budget is pretty much depleted.  So, sometimes you put off getting things like drapes or window coverings until you have the money.  My husband has been adamant about not having window coverings in our bedroom.  I have been pushing for them, as I like the coziness of closing off the night, the lack of my neighbors garage light shining in my face, the fact that I can dress and undress in the bedroom, and the way they can reduce heat/cold exchange.

We have lived in this house for six years now. (Oh my.)  AND I finally got my bedroom window coverings last week.  I am not a drape person and so I went with the clean lines of Roman shades. Below you can see why hubby hates to cut off the view of the river.

But there was an interesting aspect of these drapes I had not expected.  They even play nicely against the sunset.  On the window ledge are silhouettes of bottles that I collected off of a reef while living in the South Pacific decades ago.  They are probably hospital medicine bottles with one ink bottle (the largest) from a Japanese hospital that was there in the 1900s.

I am now a happy camper.

Monday, April 14, 2014


I went out today with a group of volunteer ladies that work regularly on the nearby museum grounds.  I had become in involved in this volunteer effort full force last year taking leadership responsibility for the bureaucratic problems in trying to buy plants, getting the mulch scheduled, sending out updates via email, maintaining email lists, coordinating suggestions and editing plant lists and keeping it all on an environmental track.  I discovered that it was a bit like herding cats.  Some of the women were at the museum several days weekly and took it upon themselves to make plant removal decisions or schedule other decisions without letting everyone know.  Their husbands volunteered in other departments at the museum and they were there more often than I.

The hired maintenance staff (two men) while praising us when they saw us, clearly saw their job as sitting on a mower once a week and maintaining stuff indoors.  When they wear white shirts to work, you know they do not see themselves as landscape staff!  They actually seemed to think that 60-year-old and older women could maintain the rather large grounds of the museum on our own.  They made little effort to assist with hose repairs, getting the water unlocked, and keeping wheelbarrows easily available from the storage shed although I must admit they are very, very polite.  Today we actually had to lift the wheelbarrows out and over some new-fangled BBQ machinery that had been slid in right at the door for pulling out.  I also had to help these gals lift 40 pound bags of soil this morning as I was afraid someone was going to injure their back.  I am thankful that I can still do stuff like that at my age, but I also am very careful each time I do lifting anyway. Keeping moving...keeping moving.

As you may remember, at the end of the last season I let the dear ladies know I was resigning as leader and would volunteer as I could, but my relationship to the museum was not as regular as theirs.  (There were also other politics going on that I was not sure of..."he said we should do it this way and she said to do it that way"... and that made me more than irritated some days.)

Well, now I show up when I can squeeze in a morning.  Nothing, of course, has changed.  No one seems to know what is going on.  We had to redo two beds by the front gate and the water had not been turned on, so the plants were transplanted in the hot afternoon waiting for tonight's' rain.  I had been willing to haul plastic buckets of water to the gate...but since no one could find the water key, even that effort was not useful!  One dear lab technician went to his tool kit behind one of the labs and tried a small wrench, but to no avail.  A huge aster that was supposed to be divided and replanted in the fall never got scheduled and so I was told to shovel and pull and dig and tear at this monster with its new spring growth already 4 inches high.

The museum director is a good guy, but he is in the middle of a huge remodel and a grand re-opening in just a few weeks, so I could not even begin to approach him on the issue and his assistant is gone somewhere---wise woman.  They will just have to throw money at brightly colored annual plants the week before and plant then everywhere that is needed.

This is a textbook case in how to NOT treat volunteers that save you thousands of dollars in your budget. 

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Bragging Rights

There is something in my family's genes about getting old that makes us determined to proved we are not.  I remember well the time my 80-something father was up on the roof helping my brother put down shingles on his newly built house.  This was made even more of a concern to us when we drove up and found brother had to run and get nails and dad remained up there waiting!

Well I got a little of that gene. Yesterday we helped son level his lawn to his newly purchased home.  The side lawn was full of dog holes and tree root veins that had collapsed.  It was a great place for spraining an ankle or twisting a back in a fall.  We had agreed to help him with this (which I failed to mention in the prior post) and thus stuck by our word.  We had just not been good about getting a time solidified and that was why it was a bit of a surprise.

In the photo below are 12 bags of top soil and compost...each weighing a ton.  He had to have them delivered this way because he does not have a driveway or garage and companies would only deliver like this.  The four of us moved all 12 tons, spread it on the lawn in two layers, pulled a 250 pound roller after each layer, then seeded with lawn seed, and raked it in.  Today, if son makes it out of bed, he is going to cover the area with peat moss (could not get straw/hay bales) and then spend the next two weeks watering it carefully twice a day.  My bragging rights are that I can now say I helped move 12 tons of soil in one day.

I do know about lawns, and reminded him that the real fun starts when the grass begins growing like weeds and involves LOTS of mowing! 

My joints ache just a little today, so I guess my body is admitting defeat in fighting me on this journey.  Today I work on my herb garden and planting those annuals that I have been trying to get into seedling pots.

Saturday, April 12, 2014


This time in the early spring morning the world is in a waking dream.  The birds sing gently.  The surface of the river is like a clear, perfect mirror.  In the tranquil air, the few dead leaves remaining on the trees hang placid as if forgetting they are hanging by a thread.  Everything lies still waiting for the surprising warmth that is sure to come.  But right now the temperature is perfect.  It is light sweater weather.  It is morning coffee weather.  I check the porch of the big bird house to see if the meal worms I left yesterday are still scattered there.  Blue birds have come and taken them all when I was busy cleaning house. I had company last night and all the dishes were washed in the dishwasher.  This should be my reward time.  A day to plant some annual seeds such as zinnias and sunflowers.  A day to watch birds build nests and dance with their mates.

But I have other obligations yet and again!  My son called last night to tell us he has ordered a truckload of soil and if we could bring up our shovels and the wheelbarrow he plans to level and reseed his back yard on this find Saturday spring day!

Somewhere in Isaiah is written "There is no rest for the wicked," although the word rest is replaced with peace.  My Lord I have plenty of peace in my heart...but I must be very very wicked, because I am still waiting for some rest.