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Posts tagged ‘gardening’

A Cure for the Blahs

It’s almost the middle of February! Where the heck did the time go? And where has everyone been? Like myself, so many other bloggers that I follow have been curiously absent. After the holidays, and the push to get my place livable again, I found myself sitting in my chair in the den after waking up in the morning and staying there till it was time to feed the body. I read, watched some news, always in fast forward with the sound off until they came to something that didn’t make my blood pressure rise and then I was tired and took a nap. It was a bad routine of sitting and barely motivating myself to read much less write a post.

Maybe it was the full moon that caused the blahs?

Maybe it was the full moon that caused the blahs?

I was lucky to see it will all the cloud cover

I was lucky to see it will all the cloud cover

Research was necessary. I found my journals from previous years and discovered  there was a pattern. The after Christmas letdown. Some years it was like I had gone into hibernation. When you don’t have a job, it’s easier to do but I think the need was there even when I was working. Retirement age makes hibernation easy. It seems so many are struggling with a lethargy from the post-election time through the holiday until the first signs of spring peaks through.

A new book to cheer me on.

A new book to cheer me on.

I’ve been sending out e-mail and cards to blogging friends and other friends to check on them. I learned years ago that the quickest way to feel better was to reach out to others. Many of us get caught in a rut and don’t know which way to go next. We feel…blah.  My friend at Gardening Nirvana must have had the same idea.

Today started out slow again with good intentions. You know what they say about good intentions and the road to hell being paved with them. By mid-afternoon I forced myself out of my chair to the top of the terraces in order to bury more green waste. I had planned a walk that didn’t happen so instead I grabbed the rake and shovel. After digging two large holes and burying the green waste, I raked a great deal of the debris that had fallen from the trees in the last wind and rain and snow storms this winter. That’s pretty good exercise for me. Getting ready to invite spring. Then I noticed spring was popping up its little head. I’m thinking that spending more time out there will smack the blahs right in the tush and get me moving again.

The blueberry bush was a gift from my friend that also blogs at “incahootswithmuddyboots”

 

Are you coming out of the winter blahs or do you just power through without a problem?

From my heart to yours,

Marlene Herself

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Summer Vacation?

August is just beginning and I’ve let two months go by without a post. I wasn’t sure I had another one in me. I think it’s because I’ve had so much going on that I didn’t have the brain energy to do more than journal about it at night. If I didn’t, I couldn’t remember what all I had done that day. I’m supposed to be retired and I guess that’s true, I’m re-tired. Over and over again. Tired when I get up, and beat when I fall into bed. It’s summer vacation time, right? I think I’ll declare today a vacation day.

So far my son, with my second pair of hands holding and fetching, completed the replacing of the old deck adding a second set of stairs. Stairs are not easy.

I painted three sides of my house and all the trim. He did the really high spots. He built two gates, I painted or stained them.

He used up some of the old wood from the old deck to build planter boxes.

I painted, with several coats the driveway divider between my place and my neighbors. It makes the driveway area much lighter. I planted the boxes to try my hand at gardening. Then there was the cleanup work of stuffing leftover lumber under the deck out of sight and putting up the skirting I painted.

two coats of sealer and two of outdoor paint barely covered this awful wood. For neighbors privacy

two coats of sealer and two of outdoor paint barely covered this awful wood. For neighbors privacy

We were shooting for a June first completion date with the expectation of this year’s inspection on the property. As life or luck would have it, we now have new property managers and so far, there has been no word of inspections…yet. We were also hurrying to get everything done including inside projects as my son was leaving to go help someone else out-of-state. He put up new outside light fixtures and curtain rods so I could get the curtains made later ( you’ll see those next time), then cleaned out his room on the off-chance of guests.

A little more girly now.

A little more girly now.

We have been moving stuff all spring and summer. I’m ready for a day or two at the beach. Instead, I pressure washed the deck, patio, and driveway.

 

cleaned driveway, deck and back patio.

cleaned driveway, deck and back patio.

 

If they want to inspect, I’m ready. Maybe now I can think straight enough to get some pictures together to go with this rambling. This isn’t all I did this summer. The rest will come shortly, I promise. The brain is starting to work again.

Have you had anything that looks like a summer vacation? I can live vicariously. Please share.

 

From my heart to yours,

Marlene Herself

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Show no Mercy

Relentless is what I am when it comes to weeds. There are hundreds and thousands of them up on the hill and all through the terraced beds. The winter wind and rains whipped them down and planted them deep into the clay soil. Once it dries, it’s like digging in rock. There isn’t a weed that is safe around me. I show no mercy when I see one. So far I have filled the entire green waste can to the top three times and made a huge stack next to it. Once it’s emptied, I fill it back up again. My last husband thought I had a vendetta against weeds. The weeds were quiet.  I liked that about them.

Then comes the real trick. What to plant to crowd out the possible weeds that want to grow back in that empty space? You know the phrase, nature abhors a vacuum.

I am growing arm muscles now and stretching leg muscles as I attack those wily beasts.

During the last hard rain we had, I saw a neighbor out with her umbrella over her head, mud boots on her feet, looking down at her yard. Once I was back inside, I shot off a text asking what she was doing out there. Was she playing in the rain? No, came her reply. “I’m trying to intimidate my weeds.” I’m still laughing. She must be doing a good job of it because there are no weeds in her yard. At 76, with macular degeneration, profound hearing loss and her new cane for the blind, she is determined to keep up her yard. It’s beautiful, front and back. This lady lifts boulders to place around her plants. She shows no mercy to her weeds either.

For many of us, this kind of yard work is meditative. I can do it for hours unless the sun is being relentless as well. Covered from head to toe for protection from the sun, I can sit in the dirt and play quietly with deep contentment for hours. I need no music. Nature provides that. The birds supply my conversation and all my cares find themselves in that little red bucket with the weeds.

My 5 gallon red bucket gets stuffed then emptied

My 5 gallon red bucket gets stuffed then emptied

They have done their job for the winter months, holding the soil to keep it where it needs to be. Now I will do mine and mercifully plant something without stickers in their place.

Made from the wood of the old deck. Nothing going to waste. Shoveled 2 1/2 yards of good soil but didn't need it all.

Made from the wood of the old deck. Nothing going to waste. Old gate for the snap peas to grow on. Shoveled 2 1/2 yards of good soil but didn’t need it all.

There are many kinds of weeds in life. Relationships that no longer serve, old crafts that no longer call to you, even clutter is like a weed that needs to be culled to make room for something new and better. If you don’t replace it with something better, more clutter continues to grow.

Where in life are you relentless? What are the weeds in your life?

From my heart to yours,

Marlene Herself

 

 

Up to No Good

Up to no good. That’s the answer I usually give when someone asks me what I’m up to these days. Ask my daughter the same question and she will give the flip answer, “5’7”.  She’s kind of a smart a**. How do you answer a question like that quickly?  I can’t.

I’ve been almost busy and mostly lazy. Catching up on reading blogs, or more accurately, trying to, but they come in a lot faster than I can read and comment.

The work on the house had slowed for a while. In between rainstorms, my son built a side yard gate. I held pieces and parts while he put it together, then I stained it. Holding pieces and parts is important work.

I wanted it to look like it's always been there

I wanted it to look like it’s always been there

We started painting the house again. My son did the high stuff on the roof line. I took the rest. It’s slow work with a paintbrush. I finally got a small roller so I can move a bit faster on the rest but the cold rain slowed us down.

Everyone should have a kid on the roof. Take a look underneath.

Everyone should have a kid on the roof. Take a look underneath.

Not before we tried our hand at using the paint sprayer for the underside of the back porch roof. Talk about a messy job. We tented the whole area and he wore a respirator so as not to breathe in over-spray. Days later, he says he could still smell the paint. It’s the only way to paint large areas over your head. More progress soon.

I have pulled lots of weeds and will get to them again soon. The entire upper hill was covered in them but I managed to clear enough to plant 3 lilac bushes. Planted a few daisies and more ground cover including some a generous neighbor gave me. She was clearing something out of her perfect yard that is called Snow on the Mountain and it’s supposed to be a good ground cover as well. Some of my hyacinth bulbs are coming up in spite of the fact I may have planted them too late.

I’d be outside working or working on a sewing project but it all has to wait a bit longer. I had cataract surgery on Thursday in hopes of correcting the blurriness in the only eye that’s useful. So far so good. It will take a bit of time to heal but I should be able to resume my work in a couple of days so I’m watching the weather for the perfect temp to paint and weed. Meanwhile, quilting and writing are on the back burner, simmering, smoldering, ready to ignite. Since my glasses aren’t working now, a new pair will be ordered in about 6 weeks when the healing is complete Good thing I can make the print big so I can at least keep working here.

 

So what are you up too? I hope it’s something interesting and fun or at least tall.

From my heart to yours,

Marlene Herself

In Search of What’s up

Have you ever been so tired that even your fingernails hurt? That’s how I felt the last few nights after a long days of manual labor. Hard physical work is good for the body but my body keeps screaming, “You’re too old for this.”

For Alys. My fairy garden lives

For Alys. My fairy garden lives

 

Once cooler weather arrived, I was out the door trying to get the projects done that were on the list from the HOA. These are required to be done for this home that was not well cared for the past 10 years. I let a lot slip by when assessing this place for purchase. Now I really pay. In addition, I have a list of my own of things that I want done outside. My mind is totally occupied with these lists and the work being done.

Filling front porch with flowers out of the heat

Filling front porch with flowers out of the heat

 

Welcome to my home The porch needs to be resealed

Welcome to my home The porch needs to be resealed

I pressure washed the driveway side of the fence.  Tech Support did most of the rest of the fences. Now all four sides are done and ready to stain. I’m ready to do it too. I’m not sure if my body agrees. Hopefully the weather continues to cooperates and keeps the intense heat at bay.

 

Each morning I have been planting flowers and ground cover called stepables. You can walk on them just like grass and don’t have to mow. I am tired of mowing weeds so they had to go. Ground cover went down a little at a time. I used a lot of cardboard then weed block cloth. We aren’t allowed to have weeds here. I think you can be evicted for them. They give you a warning first.

 

I had 5 yards of bark dust delivered. I measured the yard and asked how much it would take to cover it. I really thought they were wrong and almost ordered 10 yards. Tech Support talked me out of it. Thank goodness!

The amount is hard to explain. It's a LOT!

The amount is hard to explain. It’s a LOT!

 

It took 3 hours of me working alone to shovel it out of the driveway into a 4 wheeled cart so it could go out back. Then Tech Support arrived home and worked with me another 2 and a half. As we were getting to the last of the pile, a neighbor boy showed up who had helped move my boulders when I moved in. He wanted to help. He was bored, like most teenagers when school is out. He has some developmental difficulties but is a good young man and a hard worker. I offered him $10 dollars and he had the rest shoveled and in the back yard in less than 30 minutes. Best $10 I ever spent.

From the driveway to the other side of the house

From the driveway to the other side of the house

What’s left is spreading the bark mulch, placing landscape logs between it and the river rock that I placed around the perimeter of the house to keep mud off, staining the fences, painting the house, and pressure washing the front porch so it can be resealed. All before autumn rains.

Going this way too

Going this way too

In addition to all the planting on the terraces, I found a need to spray paint my plastic chairs that I keep up there to rest a minute. My next door neighbor on the porch side kept asking if I would give them back to her as she needed them now. She started asking other neighbors if they would get her chairs for her. Each time she asks, I explain they are mine and I brought them with me. That satisfies her for a few moments but with Alzheimer’s, it’s an endless loop. I spoke to her son and he had locked her chairs up because she kept bringing them into the house. I finally convinced him to put one on her porch for her. Making mine a different color was the easiest solution. Alzheimer’s is something I would not wish on anyone.

My chair on the hill

My chair on the hill

My Chair on the hill after

My Chair on the hill after

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I love summer because we can be outside. I enjoy all the work and find much of it meditative. It just doesn’t leave much of me for anything else. I’ll pop back by when I can but you can bet I’m probably up to my elbows in stain, paint or dirt.  Maybe next summer will be a little less work and leave more time for the writing I haven’t been able to concentrate on.

I didn't paint it but it's too true.

I didn’t paint it but it’s too true.

 

That’s what’s up in my world, what’s up in yours?

From my heart to yours,

Marlene Herself

 

In Search of that Grinder

You have my apologies. “What for, you ask?” I can’t seem to find the grinder that has ground my work here to a halt. What does it look like and where is it hiding?

Is the grinder in this load of laundry waiting to be finished?

Is the grinder in this load of laundry waiting to be finished?

In trying to keep up with blogs I follow, I am sadly ground down as well. I’m outnumbered and you have so many wonderful posts I want to read. Nothing else is getting done. My energy has waned and the cogs in my brain are slipping.

Is it in the pile of laundry waiting?

Is it in the pile of laundry waiting?

You’ll usually find me spinning in circles trying to figure out what needs to be done next. There are four quilt tops on my machine in different states of readiness for me to sandwich and quilt. No small task in there. Yesterday, I tried to seal the wood on a plant pot holder I had out front last summer to gray the wood. I dumped an entire can of sealer on the porch when I lost my balance trying to move it. Fortunately, I managed to contain the spill enough to finish the job.

Room is smaller than the work to do in it. Could the grinder be in there?

Room is smaller than the work to do in it. Could the grinder be in there?

My daughter needed my help with her move and that has taken more chunks of time. Friendships need nurturing and groups for handwork and quilting are vital to my mental health. It all takes time and energy.

Helping my daughter with the move. Several days of packing here.

Helping my daughter with the move. Several days of packing here.

There are things I want to write about, but don’t, so I write nothing. There is a battle waging internally about what should be done about this.

Could the grinder be in this box of photos to be gone through?

Could the grinder be in this box of photos to be gone through?

Of the 250 people who follow my blog, the most that read it are less than 30. I follow less than 50 because I want to read the blogs I follow. They have become very dear to me and it would be like losing friends. I cannot bear to part with friends.

Could all these books waiting to be read be hiding the grinder?

Could all these books waiting to be read be hiding the grinder?

Maybe the grinder is hiding here in all the yard work waiting for me to do.

Maybe the grinder is hiding here in all the yard work waiting for me to do.

Where do I need to go to find that grinder? How do you manage not to come to a grinding halt?

From my heart to yours,
Marlene Herself

In Search of Time to Write

I’m a blabber mouth. Yes, it’s true. I’ll converse with you about anything, anytime. I had a teacher actually tape my mouth shut in grade school. I thought it was funny until I almost didn’t get the tape off before I got home. It would not have been pretty. We weren’t allowed to speak at home. I made up for it big time in school.

I love the conversations I’m having with my new neighbors. The blabber mouth part stops when the conversation is done. I don’t carry what I hear from one to the other. People fascinate me and to keep them talking, I spend more time listening and share only enough of my own story to let them know I understand who they are and accept them. I learn from each and everyone.

That roll of metal in the trailer becomes the white cutter coming out the back side. Oh, my. I had no idea how they were made.

That roll of metal in the trailer becomes the white cutter coming out the back side. Oh, my. I had no idea how they were made.

Almost 60 ft of gutter comes out the other end all in one piece. Amazing!

Almost 60 ft of gutter comes out the other end all in one piece. Amazing!

 

In the two months I’ve lived in my new home, I have meet almost all my neighbors. Some just briefly, others have chosen to spend a bit more time. One older gentleman passes by and checks on the progress of my front garden. He asked if I were growing rocks in it. That was mostly what remained from the previous owner. Of course I replied that I was and hadn’t they grown quite large in such a short time. They did look larger without all the cover.

 

Next spring when everything fills in the boulders won't look so big again.

Next spring when everything fills in the boulders won’t look so big again.

 

I have been so busy making my home my own, that I have had almost no time to write about it or anything else that has crept through my pea brain as I tilled the dirt endlessly. I get up early to write in my journal and have my coffee as it is part of my spiritual practice. There is always a portion of my journal dedicated to gratitude. Then the outdoors calls me to come play in the dirt. I am so lucky not to have to go to a job. I love my life right now. Old age has many benefits.

It still looks bare but by next spring maybe I can add some pizzaz and some much needed paint.

It still looks bare but by next spring maybe I can add some pizzaz and some much needed paint.

 

We are getting some much needed rain today so the outdoors will wait for a bit. I could be hanging more pictures and artwork or putting more sewing stuff in a proper home but it seemed to finally be the moment for which I have been waiting. To sit down to read and write.

I’ll have the next three days off with my daughter and while she rests I can read a bit and maybe get a more of that writing done that keeps my brain fidgeting at night.
We are going to the beach. Her birthday gift to me and she has to do the driving. She made reservations for Sunday through Tuesday coming home Tuesday evening. We will be going out as others are coming back from this Labor Day weekend. We will walk, talk, shop and REST.

My sister wanted to play too. Pressure washing the deck before re-staining it. The dark is slimy when wet.

My sister wanted to play too. Pressure washing the deck before re-staining it. The dark is slimy when wet.

This was a cakewalk compared to stump grinding. A lot more still to do.

This was a cakewalk compared to stump grinding. A lot more still to do.

 

I have been dropping into bed each night with every muscle in my body aching from use. What a wonderful feeling it is but looking forward to some down time and as the hint of autumn creeps into the late August air, I feel more coming. I was even persuaded to sign up for the writing class again just to be forced into sharpening my writing skills. I miss all the fellow students and it will be nice to see everyone.

Have a wonderful Labor Day everyone. How do you celebrate it?

He who works with his hands is a laborer. He who works with his hands and his head is a craftsman. He who works with his hands and his head and his heart is an artist. ~ St. Francis of Assisi

From my heart to yours,
Marlene Herself