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.