Saturday, September 6, 2014

Last picture until spring

OK, I’ve spent nearly all day working on, buying stuff for, and thinking about my landscaping project, so I want to hear the oohs and ahhs:

Just kidding. I won’t force you to be amazed at its beauty until about the summer of 2018, when everything is a reasonable size and there are blue, purple, and white flowers all over it. I did get a lot of compliments on it today, though, as people were walking by to check out our next-door neighbor’s garage sale, but mostly because that gnarly stump (which ironically is hiding two boring stumps) is so darn cool.

So in case you weren’t paying close attention, there’s a new mint plant, which I tore into three pieces and planted in three spots, and three new groundcovery things. I also ordered a bunch of bulbs online and dragged Mik out to help me get more rocks.

I’m getting a lot of pushback from the kids on my new obsession with making them haul heavy rocks around, but I don’t care because I’ve come to realize that what I’m actually making here is a rock garden, and the more rocks I put in it, the more I like it.

Which is good, because it’s now cost me $51, several afternoons, some skin off my hands, and just a touch of offspring goodwill.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Tiny trees and baby steps

I’ve made a bit of progress on my landscaping activity.

First I dragged Mik out to the river to collect a few canvas bags full of medium-sized rocks. I like them so much and had so much fun getting them that I think I’ll plan another medium-sized-rock quest this week. It’s a lot easier to do with a helper, and since hauling rocks FOR YOUR MOTHER IN THE FRESH AIR FAR FROM PC GAMING IN THE DARK BASEMENT is surely the epitome of a character-building activity, I’ll probably bring a kid with me again if I can.

Then I went to a home improvement store and picked out another medium-sized bush and a dwarf tree to add to the back side of my “feature.” They turned out to be on clearance (hope it’s not because they have zero chance of surviving the winter at this point), so I got them both for $4. Then I visited a nursery and saw a ton of plants I would like to have for like $17 a pot but held off for now to shop around.

Here’s where I am:

That is one TEENSY little Christmas tree back there, so it may be a few years before I achieve the desired effect. Oh, well. Total cost so far: $9.

Monday, September 1, 2014

My project

M.H. and the boys removed the dead and dying aspen trees in our front yard a few weeks ago, leaving us with a triangular patch of river rock. In 43 years of life I’ve never attempted anything close to landscaping, but something had to be done with that spot, and anyway it was screaming “blank canvas” to me, so I decided that fixing it up could be my little project.

My dad has done landscaping on a massive scale, so my first step was to ask him to take me rock shopping. (I dragged Dex along, too, for muscle. Smart move.) The goal was to get something large and tall to put plants around. Unfortunately, it turns out I don’t have the equipment or the budget to get a really large, cool boulder, but we did end up picking up a bunch of rocks that were about the limit of what we and the car could handle, weight-wise. The quarry didn’t think it was enough to bother charging us for, so total cost so far: free!

My next thought was that if I couldn’t get a big rock, maybe I could get a big log. My dad went with me again—this time to the Yellowstone River—and I described to him my ideal find: a huge, gnarly, driftwood stump with a ton of character.


I also picked up a cute little bush for $5 from the farmer’s market. It’s supposed to bloom into blue flowers and grow to about two to three feet high and two to three feet in diameter, so it should someday just fill that space between the log and the fence.

I obviously need a bunch more plants, and my dad tells me I need some medium-sized rocks, too, so a few more shopping and rock-hounding expeditions are needed between now and when the weather turns ugly, which could be in about 39 seconds. But this is fun! I can see myself actually walking outside in future summers with pruning shears and maintaining this thing.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Summer’s end

School starts tomorrow for Mik tomorrow and on Thursday for Dex, although—get ready to spit out your beverage—Dex has been attending class at the local college all week for his computer programming class. He gets credit and had to buy a $120 textbook and everything. When he headed out the door to Go To College on Monday, it felt so momentous that we all came out to see him off; Mik ran at him like he was thinking about giving him a hug or shaking his hand or something. I guess I’m not the only one acutely aware that we have only two more years before he goes away for real.

I can’t believe how little “summer fun” I managed this year. I’m going to be kicking myself when it’s 10 degrees and snowing, in about two weeks.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Itchy scissor fingers, the inevitable sequel

I had a feeling I wouldn’t be able to leave well enough alone where my hair was concerned, and sure enough, I cut it one more time last week. Everything is fine, but if you ever decide to try this, heed my cautionary tale…

So I was happy with the cut in general, but I wanted to take some of the overall length off. That’s a bit harder to do yourself than layers, so I studied up as much as I could (this was the most helpful tutorial) and decided I would start with a tiny bit and, if all went well, gradually cut it to chin length.

The scary part—the part to heed, so to speak—was that I ended up cutting it chin length on the first attempt without even remotely meaning to. Fortunately, everything looks even, so I didn’t have to take off more length to straighten it out. Thank goodness I was at least trying to start small.

I guess I’ve got to show you the evidence now, so here it is, with the disclaimer that it air-dried this way and I didn’t even get up from my chair to brush it first:

Lessons learned:
  1. If your hair is on the long side, and/or curly and therefore forgiving of imprecision, this is not that hard or that big of a deal at all.
  2. Cutting your own hair is way more fun than going to a hairdresser, even though I really like my (former) hairdresser.
  3. The Internet can teach you how to do pretty much anything. This is like the ninetieth amazing, life-improving thing it has taught me.
  4. JUST BE CAREFUL HOW MUCH YOU CUT. Even after hearing this advice repeatedly and trying to be super-careful, I still took off more length than I was intending to, twice.
The end.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

An update for the sake of an update

I think I’m seeing some work light at the end of the work tunnel, but even so it’s still been really challenging for me to blog lately because most of my waking thoughts are consumed with an experiment I’m not ready to tell you about. Sorry to be so mysterious, but it’s the truth.

(Now I’m wondering if my sleeping thoughts are consumed with The Mystery Topic as well, but actually the last dream I remember having was some sort of play that was being narrated by the robotic voice of the text-reading program that I’ve been using to help me copy edit for up to 14 hours a day. I don’t need that one analyzed; clearly I’ve been working too hard.)

Hmm, what else? I’ve been running pretty frequently, but only for very short distances and only (after warming up) very fast. In fact, I’ve been trying Tabata-style intervals of 20 seconds all out and 10 seconds rest, repeated eight times. That’s four minutes of hell, in case you’ve never tried it, and I’m still working up to eight whole intervals for 20 whole seconds with that little rest. But it’s a quick workout and supposed to be very effective, even if it does attract some strange looks and funny comments on the bike trail. (Yesterday, an elderly man said, “Well, look at you go!” as I pounded by.)

Friday, August 8, 2014

A most excellent break

This long blog silence has been brought to you by Dopey, Grumpy, Sneezy, and Bashful. I don’t know if I need to translate that sentence, but in case you didn’t know, it’s my special code for A WHOLE LOT OF WORK.

In the middle of all that work, though, my sister invited Mik and me (Dex had to work and M.H. doesn’t do boats) to go boating with with them at Yellowtail Reservoir. I should have said no and read 150 pages of Dopey’s new book, which I am desperately behind on, but instead I said yes and it was exactly what my life needed.

The best part was that while we were hanging out swimming in this little cove, a young bear wandered down the canyon. I slipped into the water to swim over for a closer look, and then the bear jumped into the water and started swimming, too! I stayed well away—although even with a semi-bum shoulder I think I could have outswum its little bear-paddling self pretty easily—but got to watch it swim and wander around for quite a while at fairly close range.

Speaking of swimming and bum shoulders, I had not been in the water for many weeks, but I found that I can now do freestyle and breaststroke without pain, which is a big improvement. (Backstroke still hurts a little, and butterfly hurts a lot.) But mostly it was just glorious to be swimming around in a lake for fun rather than being slowly poisoned by pool chemicals and the drudgery of “laps.”