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Concerts and gardens

This hasn't been one of my finest weekends.  I'm stressed, crabby, and out of sorts (more so than usual.)  AND my daughter has been a pill.

Friday we went up to Northampton, MA to see Mary Chapin Carpenter perform, and Charlotte went to camp Grandma.  We go see Mary whenever she's performing in the area - it's something we've done for years.  Her politics make my eyes bleed, but the music is good enough for me to tune it out.  We had a good time, but it wasn't the best performance of hers that we've ever seen.  She's normally much chattier with the audience, and I realized how much I enjoyed that when it wasn't there.  It felt a little like she was phoning it in, to be honest, but she's been off the circuit for quite a while.  Three years ago she had a pulmonary embolism, and took the time necessary to deal with it.  So maybe she's just out of practice.  But the tickets were very inexpensive, and it was a nice time.  I enjoy seeing how the Calvin Theater is slowly being restored a little more every time we're there.

Saturday morning we picked Charlotte up.  As anticipated, she ran Grandma ragged, but everyone had a nice time.  I think we'll be able to do this again.  It's funny how my father dotes on her, and now that she has a kiss for Grandpa, he's doomed.  She went straight into her crib to continue the nap she started in the car, and we headed outside.  Bob hauled dirt from the pile to level out the yard, and I got to work cleaning out two more gardens.  The one with last week's mystery plants was easy.  I pulled out the asiatic day flowers, and as expected I'm pulling them out all over; I also pulled out the other mystery plant because I have those *everywhere*... whatever they are.  I cut  back some of the ivy that was expanding inappropriately, cut back and dug out one sucker plant off of the hydrangea, and just pulled out *everything* that was growing in that area.  It's now bare soil, waiting for... something.  Possibly a rose bush.  The hydrangea still needs to be taken back farther, but the bits I want to cut back are currently blooming - I'll  wait until the flowers are done, because I'm enjoying them.  On the opposite side of the deck was a tiny little garden where I stashed some plants a couple of years ago.  I pulled out the lilies that were there, and slapped them into the lily garden, then pulled out the cute little rock edging, and spaded the whole thing over.  The rocks went into my growing rock pile behind the garage.  Then Charlotte woke up.  Then it started to rain.  We were done.

This morning I just couldn't get moving.  Instead I sat on the couch and read the newest Guy Gavriel Kay book Under Heaven while Bob moved more dirt.  Eventually I worked up the ambition to head outside into the humidity.  I pulled a half a dozen slabs of slate off of the pile (it came with the house.  Along with the hundreds of bricks scattered all over the property.  I'd like more slate and fewer bricks.) and paved over that second garden.  The slate now covers right up to the edge of the deck, and looks much, much nicer.  Bob commented that if we ever have a bunch of people over he can move the grill to that spot to make room on the deck.  Cool!  While this was going on, he was out with the shorter ladder and the pole saw and was taking branches off the trees across the front of the house.  I think we've done as much as we can with the pole saw.  There's a branch on the oak tree that needs attention with the extension ladder and the bow saw, now that we know we can do it.  But that's a project for a day that we're doing nothing else.  I knew that I needed to start wading into the really, really overgrown garden, but couldn't face it.  Instead I took the flat edged shovel and cleared off the dirt and schmutz that have accumulated on the slate walkway over the last couple of years.  A surprisingly wide path emerged.  Then I couldn't delay looking at the garden itself any longer.  I started by assessing where exactly I wanted to lay the row of slate for ladder access, and started digging out hostas that were in that strip.  I figure I have to start somewhere, and I have a place for the hostas.  So I got the path into the garden laid, and set one or two stones in place.  About then, the third bug flew up my nose and I was DONE.  Right up my nose!

Oh, I also set out three of the big snap traps for the chipmunks.  They're staked down this time, and I've baited them with peanut butter.  I'm afraid to use seed, because I don't want to catch my birds.

Which reminds me - the bears were back.  I didn't see them, but I can't think of anything else that would take down my feeders and empty them - and break the branch off the tree in the process.  I may have to stop feeding the birds during bear season, which would be a damn shame.  I do so enjoy the birds.  I may have to write the manufacturer of my feeder though - that thing is STURDY.

Next weekend I'm going to move the campanula - I *think* I've figured out where I want it.  The white mystery flowers can stay in there - I like them, and they like it there.  The coneflowers and black eyed susans can probably stay too.  I might be able to make this look nice if I keep after it.



( 10 comments — Leave a comment )
Jun. 28th, 2010 10:54 am (UTC)
Busy, busy, busy. Still sounds like you have gotten a lot done. Good luck with keeping the bird feeders operational during the summer.
Jun. 28th, 2010 12:44 pm (UTC)
Yep - I just keep plowing forward. I'm really convinced that if we put the labor in this year to get things cleaned up and established that successive years will be less work for maintenance. In the back of my mind I'm also thinking that if things really go bad that it needs to have as much curb appeal as possible rather than looking like a corner of little Appalachia. Hopefully that won't happen.

Mostly, it's that we have a lovely piece of property and I want to be able to be outside to enjoy it. I'm cheap AND broke, so that means a lot of sweat equity. It's not so bad - we both need the exercise, and not only am I getting stronger, my back is hurting less. So it's good for me.

I'm thinking the feeders are probably a lost cause. If the bears were just passing through and hit them on the way by, that's one thing. If they're resident in the area and making the rounds, that's something else. I will not be the person contributing to the deliquency of a problem bear. If I get hit one more time I'll give them up until late fall, more's the pity.
Jun. 28th, 2010 05:08 pm (UTC)
Rob's Mom's got probable bear problems too.
We currently just *suspect* the chicken feed is being broken into by the bear....but we *know* it was a bear on Easter because Victoria's toys falling off that container woke people up, and they saw it at the hives.

Do bears bother chickens?
Jun. 28th, 2010 05:43 pm (UTC)
I would *think* that a chicken would be a tasty snack for a bear...
Jun. 28th, 2010 06:23 pm (UTC)
Bears are primarily vegetarian other than their taste for fish if they can get them, but I'm sure by the end of the season even chicken are a possible target. Still, there are a lot of other things they'd rather have, if they're available. (MOST of what a bear eats...about 90%...is berries and leaves and mushrooms and even insects and things.)
Jun. 28th, 2010 06:42 pm (UTC)
Interesting. Maybe my intermittant urge to keep chickens isn't doomed after all. Or if it is, it's doomed by more practical issues than bears.

They sure do like my feeders full of sunflower seeds...
Jun. 28th, 2010 06:52 pm (UTC)
See, if you had chickens, what bears would be most attracted to would be the chickens' FOOD, which I believe is usually a type of seed mix, which bears would totally think was yummy. THEN if they ate it all and were still hungry, they might go for the chickens. But in general, a bear will eat whatever is available with the least effort expended in getting it in the ol' yawm.
Jun. 28th, 2010 05:53 pm (UTC)
The parents' bird feeders thankfully don't have bears, just really athletic, acrobatic squirrels. I bapped one on the tail yesterday, and we had great fun watching him climb *into* the bird feeder (a wire mesh ball with an open top) and then, in a mad panic, try to scamble up and over the green standard feeder which it hangs from, fail, drop 20 plus feet, and then race over several trees and stair rails to leave. I'm not sure whether it was having his tail bapped, or listening to the lot of us howl with laughter at him mushed into the ball which freaked him out more. Hopefully that is one less squirrel to raid the feeders for a few days at least.

And no, I would definitely NOT recommend this method for the discouragement of bears. But it was fun for us evil bird-loving sorts. And that tail hanging down over the deck at eye level was just too inviting.
Jun. 28th, 2010 07:05 pm (UTC)
Speaking of squirrels...

This video went around my office a while ago but without the chipmunk double-feature. Enjoy!

Jun. 28th, 2010 09:34 pm (UTC)

Though I think the second critter is just a squirrel with the scrawniest tail I've ever seen. He does hold it up in an almost-chipmunk fashion while running across the car park.
( 10 comments — Leave a comment )