Work out in the backyard has gone extremely well so far this season. Two of three big projects have been completed, plus one side project that really needed to be done, like, last year (fountain clean out and fountain pump filter material replaced). While I’m still in the “fill the yard debris bin with excess dirt in a single day like a madwoman on six Redbulls, then wait thirteen days before the bin is empty again” mode, during those thirteen days of waiting, I can actually sit and enjoy the fruits of my labor this year. Wasn’t the case last year when it was all about work, work, dig, dig, work, work.
Of course, it was about a billion degrees out there last year, too. This year…. ahhhh, mostly 70 and 80 degree temps. Now this is a summer I can handle!
West Side flowerbed, before digging began – 2016 © Colehaus.com
This year, I had three projects to complete. I thought the first one, the backyard west side flower bed, would be relatively easy to tackle, so that one was slated first. Tasks: Simply dig out all the excess dirt down to the same level as the next door neighbor. Throw down some bark mulch. Call it done.
Surprise! More tree stumps and roots – 2016 © Colehaus.com
Somehow, in all the excitement of planning this project, I completely forgot the bottom of the fence was rotted away, oh and there were tree stumps under all that excess dirt. Surprise! I decided to work around them and incorporate the stumps in with the eventual shrub and flower plantings (one of next year’s projects). “Not so fast,” the man here said, he, who though not able to do much because of his MS, seems to LOVE to dig out tree stumps like some dentists seem to love popping out half-rotted teeth (that’s another topic for a later post).
West side flowerbed done, for now – 2016 © Colehaus.com
The project, originally estimated to last a month and a half, dragged from the last of March until June, but we did get every stump and root out. And all disposed of, too. Well, I’m sure to find one or two roots next year but I’ll deal with that then. The cedar boards along the bottom will eventually age to the color of the rest of the fence… at which time, our neighbor will probably decide it’s time to replace the whole thing.
Onto project 2: On the other side of the yard and toward the back property line, the man had been complaining for years that he had a hard time putting bird food up in the tall, six-foot feeder because the ground was lumpy and uneven. I complained that I always had to find a stable spot of ground that my step ladder wouldn’t sink into when putting food in the feeder, thusly disrupting the massive colonies of black ants that lived there.
The answer, clearly, was to remove all that excess dirt too (and ant colonies) and finally use up all those cobblestone blocks that had been the Hot Patio before the Hot Patio cement was poured last October. I had about seventy-five blocks, most the same boring, square gray variety with a mish-mash of other sizes and colors. It seemed like the right number of block and the right place to put them in a permanent kind of way.
So I did. From this to this, the finished project. The man, who helped by bringing me home two buckets of polymeric sand, seems to like it.
Another bed full of more excess dirt – 2016 © Colehaus.com
Dirt removed, block laid – 2016 © Colehaus.com
Currently, I’m in the middle of the final project of the summer – digging out an enclosed flowerbed that contain, other than mounds of dirt much taller than the surrounding cement walkways, a large weeping blue atlas cedar, a big Exbury flame orange azalea, and a six-foot tall blueberry bush.
Removing more dirt – 2016 © Colehaus.com
The cedar and azalea are staying put. The blueberry I’ve cut down a bit and hope to transplant it down to the lower soil level sometime near the end of August. There’s also a striped clump grass and a daylily in there that are also staying, though I might dig those out just to divide them and plant them lower as well. If the blueberry doesn’t survive transplanting, next spring I’ll plant two dwarf evergreen blueberries in it’s place and call the bed done. I am not going to cram a ton of plants in there like I used to do with all the beds. I’ve become a fan of leaving some “white space” in the garden.
While I’m not digging out dirt and waiting for an empty yard debris bin to make an appearance, this year I’m reading. I’m tackling all those books I’d bought over the years and never read, most I never even opened the cover, and I’ve made good strides.
Books Read from December 2015 through July 2016:
The Martian – Andrew Weir (December 2015)
Wild – Cheryl Strayed (December 2015)
Gone Girl – Gillian Flynn (December 2015)
The Orchardist – Amanda Coplin (December 2015/January 2016)
The Sparrow – Mary Doria Russell (January 2016)
American Gods – Neil Gaiman (January/February 2016)
Martian Chronicles – Ray Bradbury (February 2016)
The Night Circus – Erin Morgenstern (February 2016)
The Devil in White City – Erik Larson (March 2016)
The Story of Edgar Sawtelle – David Wroblewski (March/April 2016)
Fuzzy Nation – John Scalzi (April 2016)
World War Z – Max Brooks (April 2016)
Your Hate Mail Will Be Graded – John Scalzi (May 2016)
11/22/63 – Stephen King (May 2016)
Everything She Ever Wanted – Ann Rule (May 2016)
Helen of Troy – Margaret George (June 2016)
The Help – Kathryn Stockett (June 2016)
Winter’s Bone – Daniel Woodrell (June 2016)
Empire Falls – Richard Russo (July 2016)
I’m a quarter the way through The Templar Legacy by Steve Berry, and though the Templars are interesting to me, I’m not having the best time reading this book. That said, my middle name is Fortitude and I will not put a book away before its been read. A good number of the books I’ve read so far this year have been horrible to get through; really, I don’t see how or why some people LOVE some of them, while others I’m already mentally filing under “To read again.”
I’ve got ten more on my 2016 list to go and yesterday, I started compiling my 2017 To Read list. Should have done all this years ago. Better late than never!
And finally, no, I’m not writing. Not fiction, anyway. Not this year, perhaps, though I do think of plots and plot changes of things I stopped working on, and sometimes, I even think about writing some of that down.
Still have not eaten out at a restaurant since December 22nd of last year and through what he has called my “draconian cruelty,” I’ve managed to peel a few thousand dollars off our credit card debt by meticulously budgeting every penny on a weekly basis. He might even thank me someday, but I’m not going to count on it.
Lastly, I turn 60 Friday. I feel mid-to-late 40s. Must be all that dirt digging keeping me feeling young. I sure don’t look it. Wondering: When next year’s three-year dirt digging project finally comes to a close, will I suddenly feel 61? Hmmm, surely there will be more dirt to dig somewhere…