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Archive for August, 2005

so. tired.

and achy, sore, bruised… meh. spent the afternoon tangling with the soon-to-be ex-shrub in the next garden patch to be tamed. kept chanting ‘Archimedes, Archimedes, Archimedes’ as i tried to lever it out, bit by bit. thankfully, the rocks were good for something, in providing leverage. hubby took a shot, as well – and broke the pitchfork.

in the end, the shrub won. i’ve left a small bit of it to regrow, and it should all be fine as long as i keep it pruned back, rather than letting it take over again.

much of the afternoon came down to this: the world was divided into Rocks We Like and Rocks We Don’t Like. nasty chunks of concrete, we don’t like. they’re all piled up on the side of the driveway, next to LM’s old bureau. lovely hunks of granite, we like. those i’ll keep for edging, or building a bed around the top of the bedrock.

and i kept hearing snatches of REM’s Gardening at Night running thru my head, because i went back out there after Little Man’s karate lesson. honestly, i didn’t want to lift another finger, or dig up another rock, or face the humongous pile of weeds/branches/old construction garbage that’s growing in the driveway, but the garden was sooooo close to done that i couldn’t leave it alone. 8:00 at night, out there in the dark, scrabbling around digging holes for plants, tossing mulch around…

and tomorrow will be like Christmas. i will come down to the kitchen, make a big mug of tea, wander over to the window and look out on my nice, new, nearly-all-mulched garden. and it will all be worth it.

i was so excited that i asked hubby to come outside with me – and a flashlight – to take a look. it’s gone from this:

to this:

i’m hoping that the hyssop in the pot will come back, and if it does, that goes in the garden, too.

oh, and? monkeys with fezes are funny.

(yes, that is a hand and an eyeball under the upper edge of the towel. have i mentioned that life with hubby is never boring?)

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this is not to say that i’m a good shopper, or one or the other of us has more patience/dedication/fortitude…

nah. it’s all about the goal, baby. 🙂 and with hubby being a vaudevillian style performer? the goal is… different.

so we’re in Targè today, ostensibly looking for new bras for me (as i’ve let them all go to the point where i fear being pierced by a random bit of metal, free of its bondage), a lamp and a bedspread for Little Man… oh, this calls for a small segue. 🙂

we bought a bedroom set for LM recently, because his bureau was falling apart, literally. i couldn’t stand looking at how falling apart things were, so hubby and i went out to get replacement furniture this past TaxFreeWeekend. they gave us some details on delivery, but i was hard pressed to hunt down the delivery ‘window’. maybe, possibly, between 9 am and noon today… or maybe not, if you trust the ‘delivery tracker’ on the website. i set the alarm for 7, both of us woke up tired, and i said to hubby, ‘whaddya think are the odds that they’ll be here on the dot of 9?’ no way. ‘fine. i’m going back to sleep until 9, then.’

8:34, i hear air brakes. and horns. and much squidgilling. ‘honey? do you hear a truck?’

i swear, that’s the fastest we’ve both moved since the night the fire alarms went off (failing batteries, no harm, but much noise.) also? much entertainment for the kids in the daycare across the street; they were glued to the window, watching all the proceedings.

anywhoo… so, furniture delivered, worth the delivery charge (an idea reinforced when i battered my knuckles taking out the old furniture, and forgetting where the concrete wall jutted out), and Life will be Better.

back to shopping… my hubby is infinitely patient with my shopping excursions when i drag him along. he was a perfect saint when we spent nearly 3 hours in the bird store last weekend, trying to determine the optimal setup for feeders. and i try to return the favor when we both end up in a magic/prop store.

and then there are places like Targè. we’re looking for different things (bras for me, wood glue and finish nails for him, never the twain shall meet), and then we meet up, because i want his opinion on a possible purchase for LM’s room.

as we’re walking down the aisle in the store, we both look, more or less simultaneously, to the left. ‘ooooooo! monkeys! with fezes! on towels!’ i’ve been around hubby enough to know that if you can find an item that has a monkey on it, he’ll find a use for it. and if the monkey is wearing a fez? all the better. the woman ringing us up said, ‘oh, gosh, these are cute!’ yup. because monkeys with fezes are entertaining.

so we leave the store with undergarments for me, and props for hubby. and i think… most of us have milk, eggs, bread, coffee and dinner on the shopping list. but in our home… it’s monkeys with fezes. and i wouldn’t have it any other way. 🙂

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i’ve been doing dream homework for an esoteric class i’m taking, and sometimes it’s no fun. i’ve been telling myself before i go to sleep to remember dreams, and it seems like, now that the switch is on, i remember more and more of them. all fine when it’s a fun one, or a spy novel sort of thing. but recently, i’ve had a spate of bad ones. (no psychic ability needed to figure that one out.) and a few of them have woken me up and left me shaking.

of course, in keeping with the rest of my life, the dreams often include random useful details. this morning, i dreamt a raging argument with my hubby (something that doesn’t ever happen in waking life) – and a solution to an HTML issue that’s been bugging me for the last day. yep, at the same time. go figure.

went out to peek at the front garden just now, because it makes me happyhappy, and thought i was going to have to go back for another eye exam… as the mulch appeared to be twitching. i called hubby out, just to make sure i wasn’t seeing things, and sure enough, there’s something burrowing around the base of the birdfeeder. it made a mildly erratic path around the area i remulched with a weed baffle (newspaper), made the circuit a few times, and then headed out. my theory is that the little critter showed up for the bird seed, came back and was mystified by the newspaper. never did see what it was – i was kinda hoping that it would poke its nose out. (note to self: don’t plant bulbs there.)

shnikey is also a pretty good non-curse word.

i got myself a scrumfy, squashy pillow for my reading corner the other day. it’s moss green, and fuzzy. it made me so happy, i wandered over to the register hugging the pillow, and then told hubby he had to feel how soft it was. fortunately, he humors me in many things. 🙂

something appears to have just come into bloom around here, and i’m having a major allergy attack. i hate having to fish for a tissue every few minutes.

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what i really wanted to say was – holy *crap*! we bought a house! yes, i said i didn’t want to swear as much, but – ohmigodwhatwerewethinking? we. bought. a. house.

so. i call my dad the other night, for a little bit of insight into, and compassion about, the whole home buying thing, because it’s freaking me out, realizing on increasing levels what we’ve committed to, hubby and me, and dad has been thru this, three times personally, and many more times as a major mover and shaker for the local chapter of Habitat for Humanity. i explain to him that the whole homeowner thing is crazy. and he says: ‘yup, said that a lot, especially with the first house.’ then i explain to him that i’ve been freaking out about how much property we own. i really didn’t know until i tried to get it under control, and is it always like this when you buy a place? so he says, ‘well, if you called for sympathy about the weeds, you called the wrong place.’ (shades of ‘i walked uphill, both ways, in the snow, to school!’) and, coup de grace, ‘well, you did walk the property line, didn’t you?’ gah!!

(don’t get me wrong – i love my dad to pieces. he and i fought a lot as i was growing up, but i realized a few things as i got older. i am my father’s daughter, in spades. i absorbed so many of his traits that i had to spend a lot of time looking at who i am, why i’m that way, and what i appreciate about that. so i’ve come to peace with why we fought, and, in many ways, who i am. i also realized that, regardless of our differences, my dad has always wanted the best for me. we may disagree about the path, but the intent, and the love, has always been there.)

back to the story. 😉 all i wanted to do at that moment was throttle my dad. could you not have one soft bone in your body, and say, ‘yeah, it sucks, but it gets better, and you’ll come to love the weeds’? (come to find out, i interrupted his viewing of the Red Sox game. so just say that up front, dad! nobody should ever get in the way of The Boys of Summer laying it out. 😉 )

no, dad, i didn’t walk the property line. because we’ve lived here for a year, and because the property line looks like this:

property line... all uphill

i didn’t especially feel like bushwhacking up five levels of terraced garden which are all overgrown. it does have a lot of potential, with many lovely rock walls, and a stand of money plants on the back left corner of the property, which is wonderful. since i planted a stand of Chinese lantern plants out front, i’ve wanted to add in some money plants, but talked myself out of buying any just now. so it was a big treat to find that there were already some here. and if it turns out that they’re just over the line in another yard? i don’t think anyone would mind if i nicked a few seeds.

granted, there is a lot of potential there. at some point, the owners cared about the place, and created some wonderful spaces. there are vestiges of wonderful gardens, and some lovely landscaping, in particular the stone walls.

anywhoo, since i started to wrap my mind around just how much *land* we own, in addition to a lot of freakin’ house, i’ve tried to tackle it one small patch at a time. for starters, i picked up some dwarf marigolds to fill in the space by the front walk. yes, they’re annuals, but for small change, it seems like an easy way to have a lot of color and be happy seeing color and plants there. also, they’re pretty sturdy plants, so if Little Man and his buds tramp over them, it’s not a big deal.

i’ve also spent a fair amount of time on the front garden. it’s pretty much been a wreck since we moved in, all overgrown, and a few weeds (def: plants existing where they are not wanted) taking over the whole space. so, since we signed papers, i’ve turned the front patch from a weed-infested space into this, after it looked much like the back patch/property line:

i’ve been especially happy with some of the plants, like the verbena that’s gone wild, filling in some big spaces and adding a lot of color and texture:

and rearranging plants in the past few days, i’ve come up with a corner that makes me very happy. yeah… not much *planning* went into the front patch. so, as bits and pieces of it come together, it’s a joy to see. i moved a crimson barberry to make room for another plant that would attract hummingbirds, and ended up with this:

crimson corner of the garden

crimson daylilies, crimson barberry, and crimson fountain grass, with a background of Chinese lanterns, stonecrop, and rocks.

mostly, it makes me happy that when i walk out on the deck and look down, i see this:

view from deck

yeah, there are a lot of lawn waste bags, but they’ll be picked up this week, and it’s only the tip of the iceberg, as it were, of detritus. right now, i love looking down on all the plants.

hummingbird feeder i’ve also spent a lot of time setting up bird feeders. why this is the thing that makes it feel like my land, my home, i do not know. my gramp always had gardens, and a bird feeder he could watch from his chair in the den, so maybe that’s it. but honestly, the love of birds seems like a new thing for me. i’ve set up, so far, a pole-mounted feeder in the front patch, a bird bath, a suet feeder hung off the porch, a thistle feeder, and a nut feeder for the squirrels so they’ll leave the birds alone.

i remulched the area under the pole feeder today, since there was too much seed falling into the garden. two things: fermenting bird seed smells like bread dough, and newspaper is a great weed deterrent when put down under mulch. i’ve also set up a hummingbird feeder, which started down front, and then moved up to the den window.

and for much of the birdfeeder happiness, i have Chef and Wild Birds Unlimited to thank. after marinating in the car the other day, in fruitless pursuit of another store, i looked up WBU on Chef’s suggestion. it was even harder to find than the other store, but the guy who runs it? was limitlessly helpful and patient, not only with directions, but also with all my questions. honestly, walking into that store was a deep draught of fresh air, and shopping there was one of the happiest experiences i’ve had in ages. i’ve got the setup i want for the moment, and loved talking to WBU Guy, and respect his knowledge and patience. the man should be a bird saint. 😉

side gardenthe next reclamation project was the side garden. it was just nas. tay. bleargh. after much weeding and replanting, it looks like this, which is a far sight better than what it was. hey, that edging wall in the front? i built it. go, me! i dug out a trench, set in the cobblestones, and made a nice little edge for that end of the garden. by the way, everything in this garden and the front garden are perennials, so i’m thinking it’s a good investment. the plants will come back, and a house always looks better with happy plants growing around it. now, if i can just tame the weeds… 😉

actually, even more than the weeds, i’d like to tame the freakin’ rocks. as i work thru the garden spaces, it becomes crystal clear to me why New England is full of rock walls. what the hell else would you do with all the damn rocks? yeah, yeah, less cursing… you dig out farkin’ stumps and rocks for hours on end, and try to restrain your tongue. herewith, the rocks dug out of the side garden:

this week, i’ve been working on the other side of the house, trying to reclaim (slowly) the mishegas on that side. i swear, the plants there have been growing up, thru, around, and beside a trash heap/rock pile for aeons. so far, i’ve decided to work on just the first part of the ‘not rock garden’, because tearing out stumps and excavating rock walls, i can only go so far. so, i’ve been clearing out the first half:

to make room for the plants waiting for a new home. when i finally get all the damn stumps out, or at least as much as i can (and make peace with the rest of the shrub coming back, because you can always work with ugly), and remulch the soil, and dig out the last freakin’ construction screw, and reset the middle stone wall (needs to have the foundation stone reseated, and part of the wall built back up), then the plants can go in, and should be fine.

the irony in all of this, as i pointed out to Little Man tonight, as he bashed rocks into small pieces, is that hubby is the one who wants the rock garden. 😉

i’ve spent a fair amount of time (altho not as much time as with the rocks) picking worms out of the soil, and moving them to where i’m not digging. seems only right.

it may take a while, tho, to de-stump and ‘destonify’ this particular garden. not even halfway done, and so far, the stones extracted (on the left, keepers, on the right, trash):

yewpha. and as if the outside projects aren’t enough, i’ve been chipping away at inside projects. tonight’s project was scrubbing the kitchen floor, in a big way. take every dang stick of everything out of the kitchen, get down with a scrub brush and bucket, and clean. thankfully, our former landlord picked very pretty tiles for the kitchen. otherwise, i may have given up on the nasty, slippery, sweaty, gross job of scrubbing down the kitchen. in the end, it was all worth it. and hubby, bless him, came in and said, ‘ooooh! ahhhh! pretty!’ 🙂

also, just because. he is the cutest cat on the face of the earth. love my kitty.

mmmphrgh. ‘nite, all. 🙂

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i was making my tea this morning, standing at the cart, stirring in the sugar and cream, and sort of spacing out, appreciating the sunlight splittering across the surface of the mug, and right then, in that moment, i was very happy.

there’s a reason that your parents wish for you to have kids just like yourself. i think this often, when trying to roust a grumpy, non-morning loving, sarcastic kid out of bed. i especially think this when i offer him French toast and he announces that he wants to go out to The Pink Place (our nickname for a local place with, yes, pink walls) because ‘they make it better’. right. brutal honesty won’t get you far in your diplomatic career, little man. after all, the embassy hasn’t called me lately. 😉

on the good mornings, i step back, and think yeah, i’ve had mornings like that, too. nothing else, just acknowledgement, and a growing appreciation for my parents. it makes the little moments, of seeing sunlight on my tea mug, all the sweeter. and moments like that help me to not take the rest of it so seriously or personally.

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because shelley asked, and we’re nothing if not helpful here at the danish outpost, here is a photo of the Best Purchase, Ever:

it’s from Crate and Barrel, and well worth the price, i think. i had gotten it for hubby, when he was still in his apartment, which had highly limited and not very accessible counter space. the counter was a long L, and there were really only two small spots on either side of the sink that were easily reachable for prep work, and one of those was taken up with a tea towel for drying hand wash dishes and knives.

the cart is on wheels, which we leave locked all the time. bins are accessible from both sides – handy when you need something and the chef is busy chopping. and the cutting surface has held up really well. generally, i do use cutting boards on it, largely because they’re easier to clean (they go to the sink, while the sink does not come to the cart). but i think with a little loving care and the occasional oiling, it would do just fine. the *only* quibble i have, and it’s really a user problem, is that the crumbs that get between the drop down leaves (leafs?) are a bit hard to clean out.

(and if any of you doubt my perfectionist streak, despite the recent wave of peace and compromise? i had to adjust the tea towel on the drawer handle *twice* before i was happy with the photo.)

also, because i had the camera out, which is as good a reason as any:

a new bromeliad i got to replace a very decrepit plant from the old office (the painting behind it is a zen kitty, courtesy of the ever lovely ruowyn, and i love that zen kitty is peeking thru the leaves):

and some new bamboo that i got for hubby the other night, because his altar/incense space was looking a bit sparse and neglected with an empty bamboo container (we somehow didn’t give the last batch enough water). let’s ignore the fact that 7 lucky stalks of bamboo cost me $13 and change (naaaaaah, i’m not superstitious):

coming soon, pix of the outdoor gardens.

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amazing to me, the difference between renting (even tho the landlord was a *peach* and would have been fine with any minor changes) and owning. there are all kinds of projects i want to do, some small (taking down some shelves), some midrange (redoing the landscaping) and some major (a few structural changes to the downstairs apartment, and redoing our kitchen counters). and it’s all about committment. we’re committed to staying in this place now, so it’s okay to sink blood, sweat and tears into projects, because we’ll be here to appreciate the results.

anyway, some of the really minor changes have been hanging up a few items, spackling up holes elsewhere, and buying a few rugs. nothing big (the living room rug comes later, when i figure out how to Scotchguard it against grapes and bananas), just a few little braided rugs. one went downstairs by the dryer, so i no longer feel badly about dropping the occasional sock on the cement floor. the first rug i got for that purpose, tho, ended up being repurposed. i had put it down in the kitchen, so i’d remember to bring it down cellar (go out the back of the kitchen, down the stairs). when i did that, i realized the colors worked really well in the kitchen, and wouldn’t it be nice to have some cushion to stand on while doing dishes? of course, the cat instantly claimed it as his. 😉

after a few days, i realized that i’d really rather have the rug in front of the cart. we’ve got a free standing cart in the kitchen, which i’ve probably raved about before as one of the Best Purchases, Ever – three bins of storage, a drawer, and drop leaves so that work space can be adjusted to the need. it’s where i do nearly all my cooking/baking prep. really, if i could find a way to wire it with an outlet, i’d do all the prep there. so i moved the rug over to my work space. and the cat followed.

he’s developed an interesting habit of sitting there to express his opinions, on how very, very little we feed him.

Complain-a-cat sits on the Complain-a-mat,
And decides that something is wrong.

Complain-a-cat sits on the Complain-a-mat,
And yowls the whole night long.

the only thing missing, and *believe me*, it was due solely to the timing of the shot, is having his mouth open. 😉

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