We Have A Backyard

[Sub-titled: The Big Dig Ends… And Not A Moment Too Soon]

Today as I reflect upon the inability of the 112th US Congress to do anything constructive about job creation, I am happy to report that our backyard project is complete.

As you may recall, in mid-August we began a very involved and expensive backyard landscaping project which happened in three parts.  To sum it up, in Phase One we had trees knocked down and dirt hauled in.  In Phase Two we had a concrete wall built to create two levels in our backyard.

And now, here is the rest of the story.  Welcome to Phase Three.

###

Below is a photo of the stone steps in process.  These large steps allow us to get down into our lower level.  Without them we’d be slip sliding away every time we went down there.

Here’s a photo of our deck and the newly formed backyard taken from the second story of our house.  This project was massive. 

And here is the finished product.  The oval that you’re seeing down there is about 12 feet x 9 feet.  It is large enough for a full size picnic table or a medium size fire pit with chairs around it.  We haven’t decided exactly what we’re going to do with this space yet.  

One last photo of the side of the house where many of the machines came around to the back of the property.  The replanting of Pachysandra looks good and will fill in the area quite nicely.

###

While the results of this project are wonderful, the process was stressful.  In total about 30 men worked on this backyard.  They showed up [usually without warning] when they felt like working on it, anywhere from 5:30 am to 7:00 pm on any day of the week.  Some weeks the weather made it impossible to work back there.  Other weeks the landscapers were too busy elsewhere to bother with us.  So we waited.

And with that, I’m signing off on talking about this project here in my blog.  It’s been something good to share with the world, but now it’s time for me to go down into The Spoon and enjoy communing with nature.

After all, that was the original reason we did this to begin with.

All The Weekend News That You Can Use

I would prefer to write something with depth, research & thought behind it here on my little bloggy today.  I haven’t done anything like that in quite a while– and I have all sorts of ideas bouncing around inside my brain.

However, I don’t have the time today [or this week] to put my thoughts to [virtual] paper, so this fast post is going to have to do.

###

###

Things you need to know now about life here at Chez Bean.

•  Zen-Den’s foot is healed.  He is walking without any trouble and has even mowed our lawn– which I’d say is proof that he is back among the mobile.

•  We had a beautiful weekend.  On Saturday night, for reasons that were never fully explained to me, Zen-Den suggested that we should sleep outside on the floor in our screened-in porch.  So we did.  Doing this reminded me of two things:  1) I am too old to enjoy sleeping outside– it’s noisy and weird out there in the dark;  & 2)  I think that whoever invented mattresses with box springs deserves sainthood.

•  We planted 58 daffodil bulbs & 10 muscari bulbs around our property.  Planting these bulbs was by far the most normal home-owning activity we have done in a couple of years.  It has been nothing but upheaval and expense and mess around here for so long that I’d forgotten about the simpler things involved in keeping house.  Like just planting something for the fun of it.

###

###

Well, look at that!  I’ve written a passable blog post complete with photos taken this morning and pithy insights gleaned from my weekend.  I think that this is good for now.  More later in the week.

Macaroni

Busy week.

  Now that the rain has stopped and the sun is out, the work on the backyard continues.  Noisy, messy work involving lots of rocks, stones, dirt– and mulch. Heaps and heaps of mulch.  This project has dragged on for too long.  “Just get it done,” she screams inside her head.

 I’m spending about 3 hours per day in the car driving Z-D to work and back.  It’s all interstate highway or downtown driving at rush hour.  I’m a suburban babe, so this sort of driving is a bit stressful for me.

 We’re social butterflies this week.

  • Drinks and dinner with friends from long ago who we bumped into while walking into Lowe’s.  Go figure.  Decided on the spot that we needed to get together for dinner to catch up, so on Sunday night we did.  It was great fun.
  • Dinner with one of Z-D’s former co-workers who is in town.  Always good to hear what this guy is doing.  He’s smart, interesting– definitely not one of the sheeple. Hallelujah!
  • Ballgame as business guests.  I like suites.  I like tasty food.  I like free beer.  This event aims to be the trifecta of good times for me.

 Got my curly hair cut shorter yesterday.  It’s more like the Keri Russell hairstyle that everyone hated years ago– which I always thought looked good on her.  I’ve got lots of layers with more curl and wave going on now.  Kind of kicky.  Less predictable… if that is even possible!

Later.

Regarding Personal Style

I met a friend for dinner.  She arrived rocking the 1970s style trend that’s so popular now.  She looked perfectly at ease in that era’s clothes;  but then I realized that she always looks perfectly at ease no matter what she’s wearing.  So I asked her: “how do you always know what to wear to look good all the time?”

I figured that her answer would be about fashion magazines, long shopping trips to the mall and personal shoppers.

But instead, she seemed dumbfounded by my question.  And her answer made me laugh.  As she looked down to see what she had on, she told me that she had no idea what she was wearing.  She said that she just bought whatever was in the stores when she walked in– or online when she got around to shopping for clothes and accessories.

No planning.  No stress.  No external manifestation of deeper inner meaning. Just whatever.  “I’m too busy to keep up with fashion,” she told me.  “Do I have a style?”

I assured her that she did, and explained it to her.  She thought about what I’d said, agreed with me, and then asked me: “How do you know about all this?  Where are you getting this from?”

My answer was easy: “I read blogs.”  Blogs written by women with professional backgrounds in fashion who work as stylists.  Woman who are active amateurs with a passion for fashion.  Woman who dress well and like to share what they’ve figured out along the way.  All sorts of women.  All ages of women.  All kinds of styles.

Naturally, she wanted to know specifically what I was reading, so I told her.

When I got home I realized that a list of personal style/fashion bloggers would make a good and useful addition to my “Wonderful Blogs To Read” tab.  [Look up– white letters in the black line– kind of middle to right-ish– the one at the end.  Yep, that’s it.]  So I added a section to my blog roll that lets you, my gentle readers, know my current fav blogs.

Check it out, why don’t you?  You know you want to look good.  🙂  [Please note: fashion blogs on my blogroll deleted 10.11.  No longer interested in them.  Learned enough, I guess.]

Visiting The Oldsters

Over Father’s Day weekend we went to visit my in-laws, aka the Oldsters.  They live a good four-hour drive from us and are 80 years old, more [FIL] or less [MIL].  This weekend reminded me of many things that I’d long forgotten about.

•  We drove in Z-D’s SUV which is eleven years old.  It has no place for an iPod, with a broken CD player, and a radio that works when we’re near signals, but not in the empty spaces we were driving through this weekend.  We turned off our cell phones and sat together in silence only broken by our conversation.  It was wonderful to be totally detached from noise.

  I didn’t feel like reading– roads too bumpy, sunshine too intermittent thanks to lots of trees blocking it.  So I looked out the window to see what I could see.  It’s been a very long time since I just watched the world go by– cows, barns, farms, and exits with fast food establishments and gas stations.  It was relaxing to be out of the city and just existing as we drove along. 

•  The Oldsters were happy to see us.  We had lunch at their house [chicken salad sammies, natch] then went shopping for a wedding present that we were buying together.  BB&B fascinated them with all its stuff– and the price tag of said stuff.  It was fun to watch them be amazed by the beautiful things that the world has to offer now.

•  We left the house at 3:30 pm so that we might get to dinner at 4:00 pm!  This was to ensure that we’d be back home and safely within the house before 6:00 pm when FIL’s fav tv shows are on.  The small restaurant we went to had delicious, old-fashioned style food– ham loaf, smothered chicken, basic cole slaw.  It also had the smallest wine & beer list I’ve seen in years, so Z-D and I had a glass of the only Cabernet Sauvignon on the menu– which was delicious.  It was fascinating to be somewhere with so few choices and such good quality.

•  We got back to the house in time to watch Sanford & Son and All In The Family.  I hadn’t seen either of those shows in– well, decades.  And while the former is very dated and tedious, most of the humor in the latter has held the test of time.  It was entertaining [and a bit sad] to see FIL laugh with Archie about the way things should be. 

•  We left mid-morning on Sunday.  The Oldsters had turned on the Weather Channel at 7:00 am to check what might be in store for us on the drive home.  Once they saw that there were thunderstorms on the way, they became agitated about us getting on the road ahead of the rain.  In their world, driving in the rain is very bad and risky.  Z-D pointed out that we have a SUV with 4 wheel drive, but they were having none of that nonsense!  So we packed up and hit the road.  It was interesting for us who live entirely apart from any family to experience a bit of “parenting.”

•  Driving home in silence, just watching the road go by, I saw a sign for a small town called “Belleville.”  I know nothing about this particular town, but in a snap my empty mind filled with the images of and the theme song from a delightful movie called: “The Triplets of Belleville.”  It was a pleasant, but unexpected, ending to a visit that went quite well– and brought back to me memories of times gone by.  

[for your entertainment…]

Hello Summer

::  We had a fun holiday weekend with three days of sunshine in a row.  This is something that hasn’t happened around here in six months.  ‘Twas wonderful.

::  We went to a high school graduation party that was held at a cabin on a family farm.  To get to the party we drove out-of-town into the countryside to a small road lined on both sides with cow pastures.  From there our directions told us to look for the balloons and turn right.  We did as instructed, driving on a rough path down the middle of a cow pasture, over a small hill, and arriving at a lovely party totally hidden from view when on the road.  It was nice to be outside in a relaxed atmosphere– watching kids play games, talking to other guests, drinking beer, having fun.

::  We decided to go to the cemetery to see the Vietnam Memorial Traveling Wall.  It was interesting and well-planned.  The scale of the wall is smaller than the original, but it still manages to re-create some of the original’s ambiance. If nothing else, this exhibit gives an inkling of how amazing the real wall is– and perhaps encourages those who have never visited Washington, D. C., to do so.

::  While at the cemetery we walked around for a while.  Wandering through the grassy areas we saw all sorts of unique tombstones and family markers.  One said, “integer vitae.”  Neither one of us knew what that meant so when we got home, I researched it.  This is a phrase from a stanza from an ode written by Horace.  “Integer vitae” is telling you to live a life of integrity so that you’ll be safe no matter where you go.  Good idea, huh?

::  To decorate for Memorial Day I put red-white-blue stars-&-stripey pinwheels in the flower pots by our front door.  And then I put two smallish flags in a flower-pot along the front walk.  EZPZ, but stylish and inviting.  However, except for one other family on our street who put out one big flag, no one else decorated for the holiday.  Don’t know what to make of that.  This neighborhood usually goes overboard for any and all holidays.

::  We finally had a cookout– our first of the season.  Burgers and veggies cooked on the grill.  Fresh berries on ice cream for dessert.  Served with delightfully cold white wine spritzers.  Simple and delicious.  Just the way summer is meant to be.

Dining With The Beans

I stopped at the grocery late yesterday afternoon to pick up a fast dinner for Zen-Den and me.  I knew that we had the makings for a tossed salad at home, as well as some fresh blackberries, so I only had four items in my basket.

  • a rotisserie chicken, bbq
  • a loaf of bread, California sourdough
  • a bottle of white wine, Argentinian Torrontes
  • a package of Klondike bars, original

It wasn’t busy in the store so I went through the regular checkout line.  The guy that was running the cash register was indifferent to what he was ringing up, but the girl who was bagging my groceries was paying close attention to what I was buying.  And even went so far as to offer her opinion:  “Wow!  This is– like– the best.  dinner.  ever.”

And you know what?  She was right.

Our dinner.  Ally selected.  Bagger approved.  😉