mapsedge: Me at Stone Bridge Coffee House (Default)
I like working in the yard in cool weather because when it is cool and I am outside, I feel the need to light a fire. Saturday morning, under an occasional spitting mist, I pulled the firebox to the center of the yard, lit some kindling, broke the law by throwing on some leaves, and got to work cleaning up the back yard.

Katie came out eventually and kept me company, and kept the fire going by periodically adding wood bits and (more law breaking) handfuls of leaves.

After a couple of hours, Jami came out and broke the law some, himself.

Even though it's illegal to do so, the smell of burning leaves is one that I associate with the end of autumn, and I want my kids to experience that, too. Between playing with the kids, mowing twenty feet at a time before dumping the lawnmower catch-bag, raking, and just farting around, it took about four hours to clean the back yard. It was cool, a little misty, and fun.

I went inside to find that Michelle had made potato soup, a favorite from my childhood; it made me tear up, coming inside to that smell. Lunch was soup and homemade french bread. Trust me guys: marry a woman who can cook.

Then a shower to warm up and clean off; an incredible dinner and some social time with friends we don't see nearly often enough. Music, community cooking and drinking espresso, hanging wall art. My idea of heaven.

And the morning and the evening were the first day.

Sunday...wow, a mixed bag. Shaken and mixed. And stirred. I missed the beginning of the memorial service for Earline Campbell because of highway accidents and unfamiliarity with the incomplete signage on I-35, and thus missed my portion of it. (I still cringe to think of that; I hate missing gigs, no matter how small, and this, at least emotionally, wasn't small.) 151st St., is not marked on Southbound I-35 (KDOT: wake up, you bastards!), and there are no other exits until Gardner, another five or so miles down the road. An accident in a construction zone had us sitting in a three mile long backup for half an hour.

The portion of the service we were there for was very nice, many stories shared. I finally got to hear Tom speak, and his story was wonderful.

Afterward, dinner with friends, a much needed childless interlude that recharged my emotional batteries. If we take Sunday as the first day of the week, then let us call that a good start to my week.

And the morning and the evening were the second day.
mapsedge: Me at Stone Bridge Coffee House (Default)
I like working in the yard in cool weather because when it is cool and I am outside, I feel the need to light a fire. Saturday morning, under an occasional spitting mist, I pulled the firebox to the center of the yard, lit some kindling, broke the law by throwing on some leaves, and got to work cleaning up the back yard.

Katie came out eventually and kept me company, and kept the fire going by periodically adding wood bits and (more law breaking) handfuls of leaves.

After a couple of hours, Jami came out and broke the law some, himself.

Even though it's illegal to do so, the smell of burning leaves is one that I associate with the end of autumn, and I want my kids to experience that, too. Between playing with the kids, mowing twenty feet at a time before dumping the lawnmower catch-bag, raking, and just farting around, it took about four hours to clean the back yard. It was cool, a little misty, and fun.

I went inside to find that Michelle had made potato soup, a favorite from my childhood; it made me tear up, coming inside to that smell. Lunch was soup and homemade french bread. Trust me guys: marry a woman who can cook.

Then a shower to warm up and clean off; an incredible dinner and some social time with friends we don't see nearly often enough. Music, community cooking and drinking espresso, hanging wall art. My idea of heaven.

And the morning and the evening were the first day.

Sunday...wow, a mixed bag. Shaken and mixed. And stirred. I missed the beginning of the memorial service for Earline Campbell because of highway accidents and unfamiliarity with the incomplete signage on I-35, and thus missed my portion of it. (I still cringe to think of that; I hate missing gigs, no matter how small, and this, at least emotionally, wasn't small.) 151st St., is not marked on Southbound I-35 (KDOT: wake up, you bastards!), and there are no other exits until Gardner, another five or so miles down the road. An accident in a construction zone had us sitting in a three mile long backup for half an hour.

The portion of the service we were there for was very nice, many stories shared. I finally got to hear Tom speak, and his story was wonderful.

Afterward, dinner with friends, a much needed childless interlude that recharged my emotional batteries. If we take Sunday as the first day of the week, then let us call that a good start to my week.

And the morning and the evening were the second day.
mapsedge: Me at Stone Bridge Coffee House (Default)
4" x 10' black, corrugated pipeDear dad,

I found your pipe. No no, not the one in the picture of you smoking outside your barracks door at Fort Bragg before shipping out to Okinawa. I'm talking about the pipe you buried - that 4" x 10' long black corrugated pipe you put in the ground to drain water away from the foundation. That pipe.

When I was putting in the new patio by the deck, I had to dig away quite a lot of dirt to prepare the site and I found the pipe. Digging it out took a lot of effort since it had long ago filled with dirt through the drainage holes in the sides making, for all intents and purposes, a very long and very heavy dirt sausage.

I mused as to your mindset when you buried it, digging the long trench by hand with the old tile shovel. Filled with dirt, the pipe was no longer fit for drainage, though I know for a fact that drainage was your intent. The proper use of this stuff is to surround it with gravel to allow water (but not dirt) to pass into the pipe and thence downslope. There was no gravel, and thus the pipe filled with dirt. It was probably wasted effort within just a few years.

I love you dad, and miss you, but more than once I have paused to say, usually out loud, "Dad, what were you thinking?" The more I find, the clearer the picture gets.

As I was growing up, you were always rushing somewhere to do something. Many times you were running away from something else: running away from debtors to bring your family to Missouri; running from the Aviation World News and your partner Ron to try your hand at Amway and Nutrilite Vitamins: fleeing that to start Medical Information Services with Norm. Shortcuts were a habit. To stretch the analogy, you always wanted to build the building without bothering with the foundation or, for that matter, the roof.

You applied the same philosophy - or, non-philosophy - around the house, too. So, here's what I think.

The back of our house, as of May, 2009Your favorite home improvement book was a large paperback volume the size of a Chicago phone book, with a blue cover and black and white pictures, published in 1970 or so. I still have it, though it's in the pile to go to Goodwill. I'm willing to bet  you looked at the chapter on "Drainage" and saw a picture of a 4" black corrugated pipe sitting in the bottom of a shallow trench. The heading and picture were all you needed. You were off off to Sutherland Lumber Company to buy the pipe as fast as our Ford Pinto could carry you.

Had you read the chapter, you would have gotten the rest of the story. The gravel, and the dry well or bubble outlet at the far end. I think you did that on a number of projects.

Is there a point to all this? No, dad, not really; I just want you to know I'm doing my best with what you gave me, genetically and practically, and, sorry Pop, I hope I'm improving upon it.

Love,

 - Wm

mapsedge: Me at Stone Bridge Coffee House (Default)
4" x 10' black, corrugated pipeDear dad,

I found your pipe. No no, not the one in the picture of you smoking outside your barracks door at Fort Bragg before shipping out to Okinawa. I'm talking about the pipe you buried - that 4" x 10' long black corrugated pipe you put in the ground to drain water away from the foundation. That pipe.

When I was putting in the new patio by the deck, I had to dig away quite a lot of dirt to prepare the site and I found the pipe. Digging it out took a lot of effort since it had long ago filled with dirt through the drainage holes in the sides making, for all intents and purposes, a very long and very heavy dirt sausage.

I mused as to your mindset when you buried it, digging the long trench by hand with the old tile shovel. Filled with dirt, the pipe was no longer fit for drainage, though I know for a fact that drainage was your intent. The proper use of this stuff is to surround it with gravel to allow water (but not dirt) to pass into the pipe and thence downslope. There was no gravel, and thus the pipe filled with dirt. It was probably wasted effort within just a few years.

I love you dad, and miss you, but more than once I have paused to say, usually out loud, "Dad, what were you thinking?" The more I find, the clearer the picture gets.

As I was growing up, you were always rushing somewhere to do something. Many times you were running away from something else: running away from debtors to bring your family to Missouri; running from the Aviation World News and your partner Ron to try your hand at Amway and Nutrilite Vitamins: fleeing that to start Medical Information Services with Norm. Shortcuts were a habit. To stretch the analogy, you always wanted to build the building without bothering with the foundation or, for that matter, the roof.

You applied the same philosophy - or, non-philosophy - around the house, too. So, here's what I think.

The back of our house, as of May, 2009Your favorite home improvement book was a large paperback volume the size of a Chicago phone book, with a blue cover and black and white pictures, published in 1970 or so. I still have it, though it's in the pile to go to Goodwill. I'm willing to bet  you looked at the chapter on "Drainage" and saw a picture of a 4" black corrugated pipe sitting in the bottom of a shallow trench. The heading and picture were all you needed. You were off off to Sutherland Lumber Company to buy the pipe as fast as our Ford Pinto could carry you.

Had you read the chapter, you would have gotten the rest of the story. The gravel, and the dry well or bubble outlet at the far end. I think you did that on a number of projects.

Is there a point to all this? No, dad, not really; I just want you to know I'm doing my best with what you gave me, genetically and practically, and, sorry Pop, I hope I'm improving upon it.

Love,

 - Wm

mapsedge: Me at Stone Bridge Coffee House (Default)
It's been a running battle in my front yard, one that I've been fighting with varying degrees of success year to year, ever since high school. It is a battle that I am determined to win this year, even if I have to drown the battlefield in non-selective, broad spectrum herbicide and wade ankle deep through the tiny dessicated corpses of my enemy.

I'm speaking, of course, of clover, yard violet, chickweed, crabgrass, and dandelions.

As I was growing up, going out in the front yard - or worse, the back yard - without shoes was a gamble. Many was the time I hopped back to the front porch after stepping into a thistle plant. My father wasn't much of a gardener, even though he spent a good deal of his pre- and post-WWII life as a farmer, and even less of a landscape artist. If it was green, he welcomed it as "yard". He was not selective as to his "yard" plants, and I never saw him reseed a dead area or, God forbid, fertilize.

This gave my childhood a front yard to play in that looked like a missle testing site.

Now that I own the property, I have babied the yard as much as time and finances would allow and now I have a space where my children can run barefoot without worry (except in the back yard where the dogs - er, run, so to speak). They enjoy a lawn that is thick, mature, and mostly soft.

It's not without its problem areas. Scotts changed their formulation - or the dandelions have been stealing state secrets from the Russians - because I put down two applications this year and the weeds laughed it off and kept coming. Clover is advancing, yard violets are taking up reinforcing positions to my rear, and pockets of chickweed are slowly emerging in my center.

Time for the big guns. I pulled out The Ortho Broadleaf  Weed and Grass Killer. I loaded my weapon of choice, an adjustable siphon sprayer, and covered the front lawn.

An hour later, it rained. Doesn't it just figure.

The poison did have time to do some damage. The chickweek is almost all dead, there's not a dandelion to be found, and the yard violets are I hope gasping their last. The clover may have survived, beaten but not broken.

It's okay. I'm patient. I have more Ortho. And next time, I'll check the weather report.

The only plant I wish I could exterminate entirely are the yard violets, since I hate the way they smell, but this is not to say that I'm going to kill every weed within my grasp. Far from it. I have put no chemicals in the back yard, and do not plan to. There are, in fact, areas of the back yard that are thick with clover that I'm going to let grow without mowing for as long as I can stand it. 

The raised bed are in, and with them comes the promise of (eventually) vegetables. I want to attract bees to my yard, and if I remember my childhood story books correctly, bees love clover. As plants go it's a good plant to have if you want healthy soil, as it adds nitrogen back in. It's also soft on the toes. Bees and nitrogen rich soil. An all around beneficial plant to have.

I'm letting the area between the redbuds go to seed as well, a combination of clover and yard grasses - fescue I think. It'll be pretty I think.





mapsedge: Me at Stone Bridge Coffee House (Default)
It's been a running battle in my front yard, one that I've been fighting with varying degrees of success year to year, ever since high school. It is a battle that I am determined to win this year, even if I have to drown the battlefield in non-selective, broad spectrum herbicide and wade ankle deep through the tiny dessicated corpses of my enemy.

I'm speaking, of course, of clover, yard violet, chickweed, crabgrass, and dandelions.

As I was growing up, going out in the front yard - or worse, the back yard - without shoes was a gamble. Many was the time I hopped back to the front porch after stepping into a thistle plant. My father wasn't much of a gardener, even though he spent a good deal of his pre- and post-WWII life as a farmer, and even less of a landscape artist. If it was green, he welcomed it as "yard". He was not selective as to his "yard" plants, and I never saw him reseed a dead area or, God forbid, fertilize.

This gave my childhood a front yard to play in that looked like a missle testing site.

Now that I own the property, I have babied the yard as much as time and finances would allow and now I have a space where my children can run barefoot without worry (except in the back yard where the dogs - er, run, so to speak). They enjoy a lawn that is thick, mature, and mostly soft.

It's not without its problem areas. Scotts changed their formulation - or the dandelions have been stealing state secrets from the Russians - because I put down two applications this year and the weeds laughed it off and kept coming. Clover is advancing, yard violets are taking up reinforcing positions to my rear, and pockets of chickweed are slowly emerging in my center.

Time for the big guns. I pulled out The Ortho Broadleaf  Weed and Grass Killer. I loaded my weapon of choice, an adjustable siphon sprayer, and covered the front lawn.

An hour later, it rained. Doesn't it just figure.

The poison did have time to do some damage. The chickweek is almost all dead, there's not a dandelion to be found, and the yard violets are I hope gasping their last. The clover may have survived, beaten but not broken.

It's okay. I'm patient. I have more Ortho. And next time, I'll check the weather report.

The only plant I wish I could exterminate entirely are the yard violets, since I hate the way they smell, but this is not to say that I'm going to kill every weed within my grasp. Far from it. I have put no chemicals in the back yard, and do not plan to. There are, in fact, areas of the back yard that are thick with clover that I'm going to let grow without mowing for as long as I can stand it. 

The raised bed are in, and with them comes the promise of (eventually) vegetables. I want to attract bees to my yard, and if I remember my childhood story books correctly, bees love clover. As plants go it's a good plant to have if you want healthy soil, as it adds nitrogen back in. It's also soft on the toes. Bees and nitrogen rich soil. An all around beneficial plant to have.

I'm letting the area between the redbuds go to seed as well, a combination of clover and yard grasses - fescue I think. It'll be pretty I think.





mapsedge: Me at Stone Bridge Coffee House (Default)
My Workspace - on FlickrSome days, when I work from home, I can get more work done than I can at the office. Yesterday was not one of those days. The project I'm on now is reasonably complex but not well thought out - I'm making up solutions where the problems haven't been well defined so progress is, to say the least, slow. It's not unlike a puzzle where each solution provides clues looking forward, and helps to clarify the next problem.

And I hate puzzles.

In other news, though, I got the lawn mowed last night. I had planned to pull out the tiller and start on the garden beds, but the damn thing, full of stale fuel and apathy, wouldn't start. The areas to be tilled had finally dried enough to get into, and overnight and into this morning it rained. I think God or Nature or whoever doesn't want us to have a garden...or for me to reseed the area under the maple tree.

I did eventually get it started after draining the old gasoline, cleaning the spark plug and adding fresh fuel, but by that time it was nearly full dark.  I hope that once it stops raining later this morning, it stays not-raining the rest of the day into tomorrow. If that happens, I'll be able to till in the morning.

That's the idea anyway.

This morning, after only five minutes in the office, I got to be witness to a loud-ish, angry pissing match between CFO and DG. I'd stepped in to DG's office just to update the morning before starting work and CFO barged in and proceeded to have it out with DG over accounts receivable and customer handling. Nothing for me to do but move to the back of the bus and watch the carnage. Not a good way for a HSP to start the morning.

The day will get bettter, I'm hopeful. There are a few tasks I can do - unrelated to the current project but valuable nonetheless - that I can Get Done and scratch off the list so I have at least a few wins for the day.

mapsedge: Me at Stone Bridge Coffee House (Default)
My Workspace - on FlickrSome days, when I work from home, I can get more work done than I can at the office. Yesterday was not one of those days. The project I'm on now is reasonably complex but not well thought out - I'm making up solutions where the problems haven't been well defined so progress is, to say the least, slow. It's not unlike a puzzle where each solution provides clues looking forward, and helps to clarify the next problem.

And I hate puzzles.

In other news, though, I got the lawn mowed last night. I had planned to pull out the tiller and start on the garden beds, but the damn thing, full of stale fuel and apathy, wouldn't start. The areas to be tilled had finally dried enough to get into, and overnight and into this morning it rained. I think God or Nature or whoever doesn't want us to have a garden...or for me to reseed the area under the maple tree.

I did eventually get it started after draining the old gasoline, cleaning the spark plug and adding fresh fuel, but by that time it was nearly full dark.  I hope that once it stops raining later this morning, it stays not-raining the rest of the day into tomorrow. If that happens, I'll be able to till in the morning.

That's the idea anyway.

This morning, after only five minutes in the office, I got to be witness to a loud-ish, angry pissing match between CFO and DG. I'd stepped in to DG's office just to update the morning before starting work and CFO barged in and proceeded to have it out with DG over accounts receivable and customer handling. Nothing for me to do but move to the back of the bus and watch the carnage. Not a good way for a HSP to start the morning.

The day will get bettter, I'm hopeful. There are a few tasks I can do - unrelated to the current project but valuable nonetheless - that I can Get Done and scratch off the list so I have at least a few wins for the day.

mapsedge: Me at Stone Bridge Coffee House (Default)

Tired.  Very, very, very tired.  Fatigued, even.

But the fence is built.  Michelle and I got 7 peonies moved - actually five or so, but we split a couple of them.  That leaves...let's see...fifty-somethin' plants.  

I think what we'll do is move only one side - the side with all the erosion.  The other side is bounded by a set of tiered walls, and they can wait until autumn.  That means about a dozen plants to do today, which will probably split enough times to give several plants away.

mapsedge: Me at Stone Bridge Coffee House (Default)

Tired.  Very, very, very tired.  Fatigued, even.

But the fence is built.  Michelle and I got 7 peonies moved - actually five or so, but we split a couple of them.  That leaves...let's see...fifty-somethin' plants.  

I think what we'll do is move only one side - the side with all the erosion.  The other side is bounded by a set of tiered walls, and they can wait until autumn.  That means about a dozen plants to do today, which will probably split enough times to give several plants away.

mapsedge: Me at Stone Bridge Coffee House (Titanic)
For the second morning in a row, I've come awake with a headache bad enough to make me doubt the advisability of having a head.

The spring projects are starting to gel.  They include:

  • A decorative fence at the south-east corner of the property, along which will be arranged our many, many peonies.  This has to be done in the next few weeks.  Any later and we can't move the peonies.  Michelle called DigRite yesterday.  I want it about half the length that Michelle does.  We'll see how that goes.
     
  • A garden/tool shed in the back yard, which, I hope, will be built for us.  If not, I have a few ideas.  I've always thought a backyard shed that looked like a train depot would be fun.  Give it a nice 18-24" soffit with gingerbread at the corners and a schedule board on the wall.  A little sign on the end that says "OSAGE ACRES - ELEVATION 1033 FEET".  That'd be cute*.
     
  • A new front porch, ASAP.  Will we have to move the gas meter?  I don't know.  If we move the front door we will.
     
  • A new wall by the garage to stop the slow erosion of the southwest corner...although if it erodes enough maybe that corner of the garage will sink, level the floor, and the garage will stop flooding every goddamn time it rains.  Hmm...
     
  • An arch-y-thingy to replace the walk-in gate to the backyard.  What are those called...Oh!  Yeah, arbor.  That will hopefully tie in somehow to the new garage wall and not look weird.  As if.
     
  • A raised bed for the four-o'clocks.
     
  • A raised and fenced bed for a vegetable garden.  Not my idea, I like Del Monte.

Is that it?  I think so.  I hope so.  Anybody out there enjoy digging post holes?  We could use the help.

* Is that the real number?  According to city-data.com it is.
mapsedge: Me at Stone Bridge Coffee House (Titanic)
For the second morning in a row, I've come awake with a headache bad enough to make me doubt the advisability of having a head.

The spring projects are starting to gel.  They include:

  • A decorative fence at the south-east corner of the property, along which will be arranged our many, many peonies.  This has to be done in the next few weeks.  Any later and we can't move the peonies.  Michelle called DigRite yesterday.  I want it about half the length that Michelle does.  We'll see how that goes.
     
  • A garden/tool shed in the back yard, which, I hope, will be built for us.  If not, I have a few ideas.  I've always thought a backyard shed that looked like a train depot would be fun.  Give it a nice 18-24" soffit with gingerbread at the corners and a schedule board on the wall.  A little sign on the end that says "OSAGE ACRES - ELEVATION 1033 FEET".  That'd be cute*.
     
  • A new front porch, ASAP.  Will we have to move the gas meter?  I don't know.  If we move the front door we will.
     
  • A new wall by the garage to stop the slow erosion of the southwest corner...although if it erodes enough maybe that corner of the garage will sink, level the floor, and the garage will stop flooding every goddamn time it rains.  Hmm...
     
  • An arch-y-thingy to replace the walk-in gate to the backyard.  What are those called...Oh!  Yeah, arbor.  That will hopefully tie in somehow to the new garage wall and not look weird.  As if.
     
  • A raised bed for the four-o'clocks.
     
  • A raised and fenced bed for a vegetable garden.  Not my idea, I like Del Monte.

Is that it?  I think so.  I hope so.  Anybody out there enjoy digging post holes?  We could use the help.

* Is that the real number?  According to city-data.com it is.
mapsedge: Me at Stone Bridge Coffee House (Default)
Like many people, I don't want to become like my same gender parent, in this case: my father. (It usually isn't necessary to be so specific, but you just never know with some people.) I find that I look like him, especially around the mouth and jawline, and in the belly. But there is one area where I am so not like my father that he himself wouldn't recognize me if this was his only clue.

There are no dandelions in the yard.

I was playing in the backyard with my son and daughter the other, a tale in and of itself for the simple joy of hitting a plastic ball with a plastic bat. With K pitching, I hit a line drive straight into center field (the washtubs), and made to run the imaginary bases (the future home of our hopeful detached garage). When I got back to "home plate", K was there waiting with the ball and I dropped to my stomach to slide into home before she could tag me.

I laid in the grass at my daughter's feet and she pretended to be knocked down, and we laid there, in the grass, together, giggling, when it struck me:

When I was growing up, I would no more have laid down in my yard that I would have laid down in a field of thistle, nettles, dust, and dandelions, which is exactly what it would have been had I actually laid down. I wasn't even willing to go barefoot.

Now, I own the ol' homestead, and with a few years of effort and fertilizer, I have a yard that is soft on the feet, a deep carpet of green. There are a few bare spots that still trouble me, but by and large, we have a nice yard, a great place to play...

And a pretty nice place to lay down after playing hard.
mapsedge: Me at Stone Bridge Coffee House (Default)
Like many people, I don't want to become like my same gender parent, in this case: my father. (It usually isn't necessary to be so specific, but you just never know with some people.) I find that I look like him, especially around the mouth and jawline, and in the belly. But there is one area where I am so not like my father that he himself wouldn't recognize me if this was his only clue.

There are no dandelions in the yard.

I was playing in the backyard with my son and daughter the other, a tale in and of itself for the simple joy of hitting a plastic ball with a plastic bat. With K pitching, I hit a line drive straight into center field (the washtubs), and made to run the imaginary bases (the future home of our hopeful detached garage). When I got back to "home plate", K was there waiting with the ball and I dropped to my stomach to slide into home before she could tag me.

I laid in the grass at my daughter's feet and she pretended to be knocked down, and we laid there, in the grass, together, giggling, when it struck me:

When I was growing up, I would no more have laid down in my yard that I would have laid down in a field of thistle, nettles, dust, and dandelions, which is exactly what it would have been had I actually laid down. I wasn't even willing to go barefoot.

Now, I own the ol' homestead, and with a few years of effort and fertilizer, I have a yard that is soft on the feet, a deep carpet of green. There are a few bare spots that still trouble me, but by and large, we have a nice yard, a great place to play...

And a pretty nice place to lay down after playing hard.

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