The Garden Office

There was a moment this morning when I considered writing all day. Then I got out of bed and saw how beautiful it was outside and how cool it was outside, and I thought, why try to make a deadline when you can mow the lawn.

Just guessing, I’d say I have three acres to mow, and because of the weather, this was the first weekend it needed mowing. That’s always a joy because it means charging the lawn mower battery, checking the oil, adding gas, putting air in the tires. Love me some mowing season.

So I do all of that, which has me climbing all over the mower, and then it takes me about five minutes to get the damn thing started because what gas was in it was months old and apparently gas has an expiration date. Whatever. Anyway, it took forever to get the thing going and then there was that moment when I couldn’t figure out why it wasn’t moving because, oh yeah, I put it in neutral when I started it. So would someone please explain to me why the mouse in the garage decided to hide under the tire while I did all of that?

Needless to say, I’m down one mouse. Alas, I only mowed for ten minutes before the belt that runs the 52-inch mowing deck shredded itself. Now the yard looks like I went to it for a while before deciding to take a beer break. For a day.

Some writers, dedicated writers, would have taken that as a sign that they were supposed to go back in the house and you know, write. I took it as a sign that I should split day lilies and iris, and plant some flowers in pots and make the freshly painted deck (my springtime office) look wonderful.

I have tons of empty pots kicking around in the garage, but didn’t have plants. So I talked Sarcastic Roommate in to going to Walmart with me so I could get some cheap annuals and have instant gratification. I also somehow talked her into helping me clear out some broken concrete left over from when the swing set came down a few weeks ago, and doing some weeding. I’m still not sure how that happened since she hates bugs, but she’s toying with the idea of putting in a small vegetable garden, so I was pointing to every spot with chickweed taking over, saying all that space is open. She said, “What’s chickweed?”

Chickweed is an invasive plant with shallow roots. Some people make tea with it. Those people should feel free to stop by and get some because there’s a bumper crop in my yard. Taking over the lawn and flower gardens. It’s even tried taking growing in corners of the deck. So, I grab some and rip it out of the ground and show her, and the next thing I know, it’s an hour later and we have a pile of weeds.

Nine hours after I wandered outside, I gave up the good fight and tossed a Mike Hard Lemonade into the freezer and headed for a shower. Do not mock the Mike’s. It’s the perfect yard work drink. Those who mock can be here at 10 tomorrow morning with shovels, rakes and hoes and we’ll do another ten hours of yard work, and then we’ll see how you feel about the Mike’s.

The before would have had the camo deck, no pots and no umbrella. In other news, the pollen is so bad, the black dog is turning yellow.
Here’s the after. The before would have had the camo deck, no pots and no umbrella. In other news, the pollen is so bad, the black dog is turning yellow.

The difference between this weekend and last weekend is huge around here. I should have taken a “before” picture, but I forgot until I was halfway done staining the deck and then it was too late. But imagine a camo-colored deck. Originally it had been a seafoam green, then it was an army green, and the dogs had worked very hard at removing layers of both and exposing the wood.

Maybe now that I have this nice office to work in, I can write.


Bulbs Don’t Listen

I warned them. When the daffodils started sprouting in November, I said, “Now, that’s a bad idea.”

When the irises popped up in December, I said, “Um, guys? It’s the beginning of winter. Turn around.”

And Thursday night, as I took this picture, I said, “In a couple of hours, I’ll be saying I told you so.” At least in this case, the victim is a snow crocus.

What? It's just a little rain.
What? It’s just a little rain.

So this was yesterday morning. Yes, I got out of bed at 7am, even though Scout Son didn’t have school at all, and Snarky Daughter was going on a two hour delay. Because Princess Cassie needed to go out.

And the lighting was great, so out I wandered in my robe (the benefits of living in the country) and a pair of crocs. Onto the ice.

It looked like snow. In fact, it fell AS snow. Big, beautiful, I want to have a snowball fight flakes. Unfortunately, they fell onto already wet, cold surfaces, where it turned into not nearly as much fun ice.

Undaunted, and ignoring the cold breeze blowing up my robe, I skated across the deck to take a photo for all of you of the snow crocus. Who did not listen to me, and spent the next 12 hours covered in ice.

WTH? What happened to 70 degree weather?
WTH? What happened to 70 degree weather?

There’s still some in the backyard, but most of the icky has melted. Unfortunately, now I actually want a decent snow so we can play. This won’t last long though, since I hate winter. Like my bulbs, I’m counting the minutes till spring. Hopefully the bulbs know something the calendar doesn’t!

Here's the backyard. With the woods, only about half of what we got actually hit the ground.
Here’s the backyard. With the woods, only about half of what we got actually hit the ground.

2 Billion Calories

Yesterday I burned roughly 2 billion calories. OK, according to mynetdiary, the app that tells me how many calories are in the evil chocolate chip cookies, I burned 978 calories yesterday doing yard work.

My body certainly agrees I worked hard yesterday. Five hours into the yard work, I called it quits, took a shower and a Tramadol and prayed that I could move today. And when Scout Son came downstairs for breakfast, I did get out of bed and stumble to the bike in the living room to read Getting Things Done while working out. Strength training is off the list for today. There’s no way. But the bike seemed reasonable. So did a couple of Advil and glucosamine.

Here’s the thing. I’ve worked out just about every day since I lost the day job. So can someone please explain to me why the scale is going in the wrong direction?

Yeah, I know. Water. Drink water. I am drinking water. I had 6 glasses yesterday, a cup of decaf, unsweetened hot tea and a V-8. I should be hydrated.

And I think I would be hydrated if I weren’t taking decongestants, pain killers and french fries. Do I see the problem? Of course I do. Dunkin Donuts is not conducive to losing weight, regardless of how many calories you’re burning. Neither is Wendy’s. It’s not like I planned those meals. OK, I totally planned the donuts. I was spending the morning with one of those happy government offices, I deserved a prize. After all, there was a fair chance it was going to be my last meal for about a week while I waited in line.

If it had been my last meal, I probably would have been OK. But several hours later, I stumbled out of their office, starving. What? Donuts have no nutrients? The latte had milk. So, of course I needed to get something to eat. Wendy’s has some nutritional value. There was protein. And fries. And salt.

Then there was St. Patrick’s Day. Yes, we have totally ruined it and the Irish are not happy with us. I don’t blame them. So yes, corned beef and cabbage and bangers and mash. And a couple of Guinness. But the mimosa was healthy.

Hmm, this was supposed to be a rant on power equipment and how poorly it’s designed. If the pressure washer had started I wouldn’t have spent five hours doing yard work. And burned a bazillion calories. Maybe if I drink a couple of gallons of water and flush out the salt and medications, I’ll see the benefits.

Tune in tomorrow and maybe I’ll write that rant about the inequity of right-handed power tools. After I have a donut.


Alpha-Hero Gardners Apply Here

Not surprisingly, I dream of my heroes. I mean who wouldn’t want a hot, understanding guy who instinctively knows when to stand back because you’re in control and when to step up and take control? They cook. They clean. They somehow remain hot, alpha males.

But today, all I really want is Matt Lawson, my garden designer hero from The Heiress and Her Fake Fiancé. I love gardening, so you’d think my yard would look awesome. Not so much. We spent 15 years working on the house. All the money went into the house. In the early days I tried to work on the yard too. But for several years I heralded in spring with crutches. By the time I could walk again, it was 100 degrees outside and the dirt was now clay brick. Somehow the chickweed continued to take over.

So this weekend I came out of a cleaning haze long enough to glance out a window and thought, What Would Matt Do? I’m pretty sure what he would do is come through with a flamethrower.

The big problem is that a garden that 15 years ago got mostly sun now gets mostly shade. So what plants remain are spindly and maybe get one bloom. Maybe. I can sort of see what I want to be there. A water garden in a raised bed full of anything and everything that blooms in the shade. Because at the end of the day, I still want an English cottage garden.

Foxglove. Phlox. A bunch of stuff with Latin names I can’t pronounce that bloom from March to November. Yeah, I see the issue. What I want is a full sun garden, what I have is a full shade space.

If Matt could just wander into the yard, or maybe I could run into that guy from HGTV who haunts home improvement garden centers and fixes your yard in a weekend…the things they could accomplish. After they stopped shaking their heads in disgust. And started the flamethrower.

No. No pictures. Mostly because it’s 8:30 at night and this is when it looks its best. But if any of you have seen my hero wandering around, send him to my yard. I have a little project for him.