Thursday, June 25, 2015

Spiders, Ducks And Me

Dang…..where have I been?!  Here!  I’ve been here!  And there are so many things I’ve been wanting to tell you about.  Like the sod that was finally laid and the seeds that were planted to reclaim the pipeline that was replaced in the right-of-way two years ago. 

Of course I baked for them!

We’d had some hot, dry weather before the grass worker bees came out in mid-May but just as they laid the last bit of sod, it started raining.  How perfect is that? we thought.  This whole sod thing couldn’t have happened at a better time.  Now we don’t have to water. 

It rained that day.  And the next.  And the next.  It never stopped raining.  For weeks.  I thought about writing a blog post but it was so cloudy and cold and wet it was just too depressing.  And then one day it actually stopped raining and I sat down at the computer to type, but with with all the wet weather my fingers had grown webs.  I tried, but it was just too hard and took too long to peck out each word with hands that looked like duck feet.  And on top of that, the bottoms of my feet had developed a layer of slimy mold so when I sat at the computer, valiantly attempting to type, my feet kept sliding away from my chair.  I finally just had to give up.  But today I realized my fingers didn’t belong on a duck anymore and I could walk barefoot without sliding across the floor so here I am!

I should tell you about my two week adventure painting the house – all by myself.  (Okay, in complete honesty I painted it all except for the high peaks on the front and back which is Dean's bailywick.  I can't go higher than a step ladder or I'd shake so much I'd spill even more paint than I normally do.)  The first day I'd only been painting 45 minutes when a thunderstorm blew through and I had to frantically grab my paint tray and get off the ladder before I became a lightening rod.  After that I started monitoring the prediction for rain (which changed hourly) so most of the time I knew when to pack it in and get off the ladder before I was either drenched or toasted.  After a few days it finally quit raining but the mosquitoes were so bad instead of becoming soaked with rain I had to soak myself in bug spray.  And THEN, mistakenly thinking I'd overcome the weather and the mosquitoes, the cottonwood trees let loose into a blizzard of white and cotton would drift down and plop into my paint and stick to all the wipes and smears and globs of paint on me.  And the weather prediction doesn't tell you when a breeze is going to come up and blow white fluff into your paint. I'm sure Dean was overcome with guilt and oh so sad that he didn't get to experience that adventure but while I was painting he was sick with a cold and spent his time coughing, blowing, sleeping and/or sitting with his head in his hands and a cold towel on his head……until he finally recovered on the day I finished painting.  Hmmmmm…….  

Maybe I should tell you how I spent two days this week getting the deck ready to stain by scrubbing it on my hands and knees with a stiff bristle brush and my pot scraper ... sweating ... even though I was drenched in soapy water. But instead, I’m going to tell you how, way back before the sky opened up and I mutated into part duck, we turned our water feature into a garden.

Everybody thinks water features are so awesome.  Goldfish swimming in a small pond of water ruffled by the calming sounds of water rippling down a small waterfall, up into the re-circulation pipe, then down the waterfall again – a contemplative sanctuary.  When we first looked at this house we thought our water feature was beautiful and sounded soothing too.  But then we discovered the putrid stink of decayed and rotting leaves and stagnant water we had to clean out every spring.  And we decided to make it a into a garden.

Those leaves are just waiting for snow melt so they can rot and stink and turn to slime.
I thought it would be a simple project.  We could just remove the rocks, move the dirt so we could poke holes in the plastic liner, stick a planter or something in the open space in the cement wall and then add more dirt and plant a garden.  Go ahead.  Don’t hold back.  Laugh til you snort.  I just never learn.  Of course we couldn’t just stick a planter or something in the opening.  We had to break out the cement wall because otherwise it wouldn’t look nice

So I suggested … come on ... you're laughing already?  seriously? … I suggested we fill in the hole with cement blocks or those stones you use to build a wall.  It was going to be mostly covered by dirt anyway.  Right?  Or if he felt he had to, Dean could paint it.  Paint a mural on it.  I suggested he put his artistic talent to use.  But no.  Whatever we would use to fill the the opening in the middle of the cement wall to keep the dirt in wouldn’t match the cement wall so it still wouldn’t look nice. So ........ Dean got the sledge hammer and broke it out.  

But guess when he did it?  Come on.  Just guess.  He broke it out AFTER he had sent me squeezing through that bitty opening to pry the staples and nails out of the wood that was holding the piping that went into the pump to recirculate the water for the water feature.  AFTER I crawled through a tiny crevice into a dank, dirty, claustrophobic, spider haven.

I should have eaten more cookies during the basement construction.

Of course, once the wall was out and he laid the stones for the new back wall I made the mistake of telling him it slanted.  To the left.  See it?   What's wrong with me?  Don't I ever learn anything?

I thought .............. really .... try and hold it down ...... I thought he could just build up the bottom of the slanted side with some dirt or some kind of flat rock or something and then lay the wall stones on to make it level but of course not.  Duh.  What was I thinking?  He built a small form, mixed up a batch of cement, got out his level and did it the “right way.”  

Then, of course there was a debate about the space between the top of his new wall and the bottom of the deck.  I thought the space looked tacky.  Dean thought the plants he was planning to grow would cover it.  I wanted to build the wall all the way above the bottom of the deck.  Dean did not.  We compromised.  Dean said he will add more rocks to fill in the gaping holes between the top of the wall and the bottom of the deck.  But it can’t be just any rock or it won’t look nice.  He will add rocks that speak to him and are special and will be accepted by all the other rocks or ..........whatever.  I don't even try to understand the rock part of his brain anymore.  

Once the wall was finished I was ready to spread out the dirt, add a boatload of the compost we’d gotten from the dump, and get planting.  But oh, no.  We had bags and bags of wood chips I’d dug out from under our swing and our neighbor said he would take them.

Yep.  Dean laid the stones and I figure in about five years the baby woolly thyme plants will have filled in the sides.

But they were mixed with dirt and we couldn’t give him messy, dirty wood chips.  Oh no, no, no.  We had to sift them so the dirt went into the new garden and our neighbor got nice clean wood chips.  

Finally we spread the dirt, mixed in the compost and waited for it to warm up enough to plant.  And then it started raining and we got busy building the arc and then once it quit raining it stayed cold and cloudy so it isn’t exactly the Garden of Eden out there yet but at least next spring we won’t have to muck out putrid, slimy leaves.  But back when we had to ... gosh those finger webs I grew this year would have really come in handy.