Well, Who’d Of Thought?

For a pleasantly scented work area do this:

  • Go for an early morning walk.
  • Upon returning home but before entering the house– pluck stray dried leaves out of the pot of rosemary that sits on the front stoop.
  • Enter home and immediately go to desktop computer to catch up on email.
  • When finished with email– shower and dress for the day.
  • Return to home office and sit down in front of computer to start day in earnest.

Result?  The most delightfully aromatic keyboard I ever did smell.  🙂

Autumn, Attitude Adjustment, And Ambush Journalism

Here’s what I’ve thought about this week.  Brought to you by the letter “A.”

•  Loving.  Now that it’s mid-autumn, the leaves on the trees behind our house are at their best.  In fact, this year, the wettest year ever on record, the trees look stunning.  There are more show-off colors among the leaves–shimmery gold, crimson red;  less dreary colors like rusty orange & dried-up grayish brown.  Amazing, really, how letting go is so pretty.  A lesson for all of us who hold grudges and keep objects long after their usefulness has passed.  Move on, people.  Let it go.

*Amen*

•  Laughing.  I’ve always been one to drink whatever alcoholic beverage is set in front of me [the exception being rum which I hate].  I loathe being perceived as fussy.  Yet, thinking back about our very social summer, I’ve realized that the parties/dinners/events where I had the most fun were the very ones where I did not drink any wine.  At all.

This got me wondering why I even drink the stuff to begin with.  I don’t like the taste of wine all that much and it often makes me itch.  What I decided is that I drink wine because I have this notion that it is good for me.  And I drink wine because I am polite.

My logic– such as it is— goes something like this: in the Bible, Jesus made wine and the party continued.  So, by drinking the stuff without complaint I don’t offend Jesus & I’m not a party pooper.  In theory, this seems like a win-win. But in practice it just sets me up to do something I don’t really want to do– which is drink wine.

Pity Jesus didn’t turn the water into a fifth of bourbon– or a few bottles of beer.  Then I’d have no problem at all.

*Capiche?*

•  Learning.  I was watching CNN the other morning.  The conversation was about “ambush journalism.”  I’d not heard of this term before.  It means that through deception and aggressive behavior a journalist inserts himself or herself into a situation hoping to provoke controversy by launching into a series of challenging questions. Apparently, some guy did this with VP Biden earlier this week, and Biden refused to take it.  Biden fired back with: “Don’t screw with me.  Let’s look at the facts.” 

Politics aside, I’m with the VP on this one.  Hassling people is not a substitute for journalistic inquiry;  it’s just stupid, attention seeking behavior.  In fact, it seems to me that if journalists want to continue to have access to our political leaders, then they need to grow up, use some common sense & not engage is such antics.  Bad dog, no biscuit.

*Meh*

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

And So It Goes

 Kind of a bittersweet week for me.  Endings: small, medium & large.

I.

Our tomato and pepper plants are at the end of their growth cycles.  I doubt that we’ll get more than a handful of tomatoes– or a couple of peppers– before the fall chill kills the plants.  It happens every year this way;  I’m always surprised.  This year the difference is that the other day I noticed two chickadees goofing around in the tomato plants.  At first I thought that they were after the tomatoes, but as I kept watching I realized that what the birds wanted is the cotton string that we use, with the wooden stakes, to hold up the plants.  They were pulling on the cotton string with their beaks, but unable to get it lose.  So I decided that  when I dismantle the tomato plants later this month I’ll cut the used cotton string into lengths and leave it out on the deck railing.  Maybe the chickadees will use the cotton string to make their nests.  We’ll see.

II.

Zen-Den and I have very few traditions.  We don’t do the same thing for any holiday.  There are no “but we always do this” restrictions on us.  It comes from being on our own for so long– and from not having kids, I suspect.  That being said, every September we look forward to our first drive into the countryside to go to a small, locally owned apple orchard that has the best apples ever.  So this last weekend we got into the car and went out there, all excited about our first apple foray of the year.  But when we got to the orchard, it was closed;  a sign out front said: “Semi-Retired.  Closed for Season.  Be back Summer of 2012.”  And with that, our one tradition went *poof* and we found ourselves apple-less in the countryside.  Humph.

III.

As you probably know, All My Children ends this week.  I still can’t quite wrap my head around this.  I grew up around AMC– first at a friend’s house, where her mother was addicted to it;  and then at my house, once my mother retired from teaching.  The fact that my Mom, the happy hermit, watched a soap opera never made much sense to me;  but she said that it gave her day structure and that Erica reminded her so much of her freshman year college roommate that she couldn’t not watch it.  In fact, she watched it every day until her death fifteen years ago.

So here’s the odd thing: even though I never became a fan of the show, I realize that I’m going to miss it.  Knowing that AMC was always on TV gave me a feeling of immediate connection with my mother.  Rational?  Not in the least.  But it’s what I’ve kept tucked away in the back of my mind all these years.  Of course, now with the end of All My Kids, that last connection will be gone.  Forever.

Life’s busy now. More chit-chat next week, gentle readers.  Talk at ‘ya then.

This & That

{august – monday – late afternoon}

√  No, I haven’t lost my mind.  Yet.

On Friday, after I wrote and published my earlier post, I did something really annoying; I accidentally deleted my blog template.  Not the blog contents, mind you– just the template.  So, I had to find myself a new template– right quick, as they say.  And this little banana number is the one that I picked.

It’s kind of cheerful, don’t you think?  And the price is right– as in FREE.

Someday I’ll work on putting together a more appropriate header, but until that magic day arrives I plan on sticking with this bunch of bananas.

√   The Big Dig continues.

The landscape crew is here today planting bushes & shrubs & perennials & who knows what else.  This project has dragged on for so long now, with so many revisions, that I no longer know [or care] what is being planted.  I’m beginning to think of Greg, the land planner guy in charge of this project, as my very own Eldon.

Did Eldon ever finish painting Murphy’s townhouse?  Will Greg ever finish creating a backyard for us?  Stay tuned to find out.

√  I want to paint the hutch that is in our dining room.

(Actually, to be entirely accurate and forthcoming, it isn’t a hutch– it’s a pie safe.  But no one knows what that is, so I’ve taken to calling it a hutch.)

The “hutch” has scratches, gouges and is a dreary dark brown color.  Not pretty at all. But what color should I paint it?  Therein lies the problem.

So I’ve spent much of this afternoon looking online at photos of hutches.  I now can say that my head is swimming with possibilities— none of which seem quite right to me, but all of which are quite lovely to look at in someone else’s home.

I was hoping that after an hour or two of online research, I’d  find the perfect hutch– painted the perfect color– and it’d become my inspiration.  Which would give me the confidence to go forward with this messy, labor-intensive project.

But no such luck.  Yet.

Talking Dirt

We live on a wooded ravine lot that slopes down to a creek.  And we have a swale on our property.

While sitting on our deck or in our screened-in porch we look directly into the woods behind us.  It is beautiful to see the trees year round.  It is less beautiful to look down into the ravine below and see the soil erosion that is causing our backyard to disappear.

So today I meet with a land planner to discuss his idea about what we’re going to do about our back yard… that is gradually slipping away into the creek… leaving the pillars that support our deck perilously close to the edge of the swale… that allows rainwater to naturally flow into the creek.

This is going to be an expensive mess to fix.  I just know it.