This weekend went well. Busy, but well.
Midway through last week I developed an obsession with raking. Thursday afternoon I came home, and decided that I absolutely had to rake out the little slot between my garage and the stairs because between the dead chrysanthemum and two inches of matted down oak leaves, it looked like crap. So I tossed the ex-plant into the woods and raked the leaves out into a two foot high pile. Then I thought "I’ll rake out a little of the front garden. Not much. If I do a little every day, it will all get done fairly quickly." It’s a valid concept. Of course if you get carried away and rake out the entire front of the house as well as ripping out a bunch of viney bush-things that you decide that you don’t like, it will get done even more quickly. Needless to say, Friday morning I could barely move. So what did I do when I got home Friday afternoon? Raked the leaves in the back yard, of course. I actually got a lot done back there. I now have large piles of leaves scattered here and there that I will need Bob to help me with. Unfortunately, I still have the two largest gardens in the back that need to be raked out. That should get done this afternoon – I need to clear them before it starts to rain again.
So here’s a question: how can an area that just washed away from the huge nor’easter, and that was getting flood warnings *yesterday* be deemed a high fire hazard this morning? These are things I don’t understand.
After I’d raked as much as I could stand to face, I pulled out the lopping shears and probably destroyed a bush against the back of the house by giving it an extreme pruning. I’m sure it’s a lovely bush, and I probably should have left it alone instead of giving it the haircut that it received. But it was also growing directly in front of the only basement window. It had to be smaller. When he got home, Bob and I took a walk around the yard and discussed changes. The pine tree that is growing right against the deck is going to get trimmed – I want air flow between the tree and the wood. The creeping hydrangea has gotten a stay of execution. I don’t like hydrangeas. But this one is growing all over a 5’ tall stump, and it’s pretty cool. But like the pine, I’m going to prune it away from the wood before it leafs out. I probably need to prune a lot of things that I don’t know how to take care of yet.
There are other things that need a good haircut, but I’m going to wait to see what they look like first. I’ll also need to move things around because I’m going to reduce the gardens to a much smaller footprint. There’s too much back there for me to care for right now. But that’s next year. I also detect the presence of a rental rototiller in my future, but again, that’s next year. I think that’s going to be the only solution for the "yard" part of the back yard. Between the patch that was the Crandall’s vegetable garden, the circular garden that I’ll be removing this year, the assorted years of lumps and bumps and the enormous chipmunk infestation, it’s all going to have to be plowed under (I am determined that there are chipmunks in those holes. Not mice and definitely not rats. Chipmunks.)
Our company arrived at about 10 p.m., which isn’t too bad. They parked in exactly the wrong place – right in front of the garage door with my car in it. Luckily I had anticipated that happening, and had Bob put his car in the garage while I took his spot for a quick getaway. Saturday morning also went exactly as I had expected, as people started talking about breakfast three minutes before I needed to leave to get to the site on time. That’s why I swapped the cars. I got to the site, but was still later than Sue. I’d originally hoped to beat her, just for the sake of the look of astonishment that would put on her face. After a few false starts we got the vigil we were helping with up and running, and in my opinion it all went very well. All the food was excellent, and the pelican cookies that Master McGuire makes are to *die* for. They’re pretty much what I had for lunch. Our guests had headed back home at about 3:00 or so, because the very small child was Done. Fair enough. But they parked in front of my (now) empty garage bay. So when we got home at about 7:00 all three cars spent the night outside. I’d pretty much expected that, so at least it wasn’t a surprise. We spent the rest of the evening eating pizza and watching "National Treasure," which is a fun, but very silly movie. Sunday morning was more of the visit, and they headed out at about 1:00.
After they left, we spent about 15 minutes on the couch listening to the quiet. It was the first time since we’ve moved that we’ve just sat and had all the windows open. There was nothing to hear. Just birds. Squirrels rustling. An occasional neighbor sound. I loved it, and I think Bob did too. This is what I’m used to from growing up, but I think that in some ways for Bob it’s the city-boy’s dream of living in the country. I just hope that he’s as happy with it as I am.
So before we could fall asleep where we sat, we got up and went forth to be productive. Last fall we ripped out the floor-to-ceiling wet bar that was occupying 25 or so square feet in our kitchen. Once we had gotten the framing detached from the floor and ceiling, we hauled the three big chunks of wall outside, leaned them against the east side of the house, and walked away. Bob decided that it was time to break them down. So while he was pulling out tools to work on that, I climbed a ladder to try to find out what was going on with the antenna on the garage door opener such that the remote only worked from ten feet away. What was happening was that the antenna was still coiled up inside – it had never been properly deployed. Now it works from the street. Then I swapped out the old 120v spot lights on the garage for equivalent Energy Star floods. I’m on a light bulb kick right now. I need to go get the Dark Sky shield for them, but at least the bulbs are swapped out.
We do all know that the compact fluorescent twisty bulb have mercury in them and need to be disposed of as a household hazmat, right?
Then we attacked the chunks of wall. Hammers, pry bars, and a husband to help – what more could a girl want? We got to meet two of the neighborhood dogs. One was the largest german shepherd that I’ve ever seen. He came strolling out of the woods towards us and looked like he was coming into the garage with us. Big. Really big. No human attached, no tags, and looked like he hadn’t been brushed in months. I remember thinking that since both of us were holding pry bars, we were likely to win. Bob yelled at him, and he wandered off. About 30 minutes later Bob was elsewhere, I was prying more nails out, and all of a sudden there was this huge black dog pretty much in my face, in the garage with me. I let out a yelp, told him (her?) to "GO HOME" and it slunk out. A few minutes later, Bob came in with "Sean sends his apologies." I guess that was Cleo who had escaped from its bath. Which explained the "I’ve escaped, hide me!" look. But honestly – does no one in my neighborhood own a leash? I like dogs, but I don’t like large, unknown, unattended dogs approaching me in my own garage. That’s unsettling.
When we got done tearing down the remnants of the bar, we pulled some more stuff out of the back of the garage for the last April bulk pick-up this coming Wednesday. I think that the stuff is really beginning to take up less space. Anyone coming over is still going to say "wow do you guys have a lot of crap," but *I* can see how much less there is. I’m finding that to be very, very exciting.
After the outside stuff, I took a shot at making a strawberry cream pie with berries left from Saturday’s vigil and managed to burn the back of my upper arm on the oven door. The pie had better be good. Especially since I still have half the strawberries left and will probably make a second pie tonight to use them up if the first one is palatable.
This week is a reprise of the kamikaze cleaning spree. Mom and Dad are coming on Saturday to see what we’ve done since New Year’s. I want them to see what we’ve *done*, not what we haven’t picked up.
Oh, and I’m going to rake some more. I hate my rake.