Tag Archives: Gardening

Garden Gnome Update: Mushrooms

12 May

I have an update on the gnome situation: mushrooms! If there’s one thing I love more than garden gomes in the garden, it’s mushrooms. In fact, “mushroom” was one of Isobel’s first words. I have so many mushrooms decorating the house that it was frequently pointed out to her. I still need more gnomes to fulfill the item on my Life List, but I think ceramic mushrooms totally count.

Here’s her stripy legs, bogarting the mushroom photo op.

 

Kingston came over to play awhile ago and in true Danger Baby fashion he immediately picked one up and smashed it on the ground. He is a total hulk baby. I know his Mama felt bad, but no worries! This just meant I got to go back to the store for more mushrooms. Besides, the top was still perfect, so I stuck it in with my geranium.

When I went back to Raley’s for another mushroom, I noticed that they had more kinds than last time, so I added them to my collection as well.

 

Having to go back for more mushrooms is win-win, Angela.

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It’s a (Death) Trap!

7 Mar

This is what our pond looked like several years ago. Idyllic. Lush. Lovely.

Then the neighbor cut his nice shady tree back, bleaching the entire corner with sun. The pond filter system kept breaking down, despite the enormous piles of money we put into it (that now I wish would have gone towards my daughter’s education).  The fish endured disease and mass deaths (it was, as Isobel says, EW EW YUCKY). After the shade from the tree was gone, we couldn’t keep the plants happy, and they either scorched to death or threw themselves into our broke down filtration system. Over and over again, we tried to make it work, but it became very clear that Nature hated this pond.

 

Last year, when Isobel began to enjoy the backyard, we realized we should just get rid of it. Now, I am not the sort of parent that insists on hovering over their child’s every move when playing outside, but I think you’ll agree that when you have both an unsteady toddler and a potential drowning hazard, you’ll want to keep a close watch on them.

As much as I would miss the pond, I became excited for what we could plant back there. Fruit trees! A garden patch! A fort for Isobel! One year later, our dismantling project has come to a halt, and we now have a pit that’s every bit as dangerous (and way more ugly) than the pond ever was.

Behold! Lake Deathtrap!

For awhile we had a totally acceptable shallow pit of dirt and rocks. I mean, that’s not at all acceptable, but it was, I don’t know, justifiable? It was a work in progress. But this year’s rain has turned it into a nasty, stagnant, fetid marsh, and we are in the same goddamn situation as we were before, except now our deathtrap isn’t just filled with water, it’s studded with shrapnel and broken, pointy pieces of flagstone.

 

And, wait, a minute, are those POND PLANTS? Because we spent rather a lot of money keeping our pond stocked with fresh plants so our fish wouldn’t get baked by the sun after that tree was cut back. The fish kept eating them and getting otherwise destroyed, but we kept trying, god bless us, even though Nature clearly did not approve of this pond nor the life within it. I thought all the plants were done for, despite our constant effort in keeping them alive. And now here they are, growing as happy as can be, in our completely unintentional and unwanted pond.

Now that we have a pond that Nature actually does approve of, I am hard at work covering it with grass and leaves and clippings every couple of days so we don’t become the epicenter of the next outbreak of malaria. So, who wants to come over and wield a pickaxe and help me get rid of this thing?

Craft Idea: Soda Bottle Terrariums

14 Nov

I’m a withered old lady at heart and if me being a crazy cat lady librarian that watches PBS and listens to NPR didn’t convince you enough already, I actually enjoy the exhibits at the county fair.

Now, some of the exhibits I enjoy because the ridiculousness keeps me cackling well after I’ve left and eventually becomes the stuff of legends, but some of it I truly enjoy unironically. The orchid room for example. The toadstool seats. And now, the soda bottle terrariums.

This year there was a whole (small) section of kids who had entered soda bottle terrariums in the fair. I squealed when I saw them, disrupting several retired ladies looking at roses who scowled at me. Get off our lawn, I’m sure they were thinking. No way, ladies. This is my lawn too and you’ll have to fight me for it. Don’t make me get off my Rascal.


I wonder if some classroom did this as a project because I’ve never seen these at the fair before and it look like they all had the same instruction.

Aren’t these fabulous?

I found a tutorial on how to make these here and am definitely bookmarking it for future use with Isobel. I posted my own terrarium tutorial here.

This is what I would love to see more of at our local fairs. (But please don’t stop entering weird stuff for my entertainment.)

Terrarium Inspiration

4 Nov

Yesterday I posted a tutorial on how to create terrariums, but something weird happened and it posted in the past. By the time I noticed and fixed the back-dating issue it was nearly today. I know that sentence barely makes any sense, but that’s what I get for fucking with the space-time continuum. If you haven’t read the tutorial, it’s very very easy. If you have read it and can’t wait to get started, here’s some container, plant, and figurine inspiration. If you found my blog by searching for “how to build wet terrariums”, seek help immediately. Possibly in the form of a dictionary.

If you’re lucky enough to find a vintage terrarium container while thrifting, scoop it up and never look back. They aren’t that easy to find. I’ve been lucky enough to find three: an acrylic egg-shaped one, a glass mushroom, and a glass apple. I’m keeping my eye out for more and you can bet that if I find one it’s going up immediately in my store.

Before I ever found those, however, I made countless terrariums out of inexpensive thrifted glass containers. That’s the beauty of terrariums—they are adaptable and can be made from all sorts of things.

My first terrariums were created in thrifted fish bowls and storage jars from Ikea. The more I kept my eye out for interesting jars and things while thrifting the more I became inspired. I found all sorts of lovely glass bowls. I especially loved making them in tiny containers. Especially if they said something weird like, “Bishop’s Awards Dinner.”

I once bought a glass jar from either Crate and Barrel or CB2. I may have registered for it, actually. I don’t remember but I’ve had it for awhile. It was just sitting somewhere taking up space when I thought I know! I’ll make it into a terrarium! I get the most compliments from this terrarium.

One of my favorite terrarium bowls was a vintage thrifted find that was hand-blown with little bubbles embedded in the glass. Gorgeous.

I like to liven up the simpler terrariums by adding extras: toys. Historically some terrariums featured little figurines, especially mushrooms, as a decorative touch. The egg terrarium I bought came with a vintage mushroom and swan. I’ve seen some terrariums add dinosaurs for a whimsical prehistoric touch and it made me want to add more toys to mine.

Anthony and I collected the totally strange and inexplicably rave-themed Buddha Buddies from a vending machine in an old grocery store. Why they were ever created is a mystery but I love adding them to my terrariums. I purchased plastic sea creatures from the craft store and made one that resembled octopus in a bed of kelp. The terrarium I keep at work has a roaring hippo.

My sister bought me this good-luck cat and it was very happy in the terrarium I kept by the sink.

I used to keep all my terrariums on the counter near the fruits and vegetables. They looked really lovely and unfortunately I never took any pictures of them, so enjoy my cat amongst produce and a dismembered pomegranate along with your terrariums.

When I want to create a new terrarium I troll the Terrarium group that I moderate on Flickr for inspiration and it never lets me down. Really, any glass container has terrarium potential.

How to Create a Terrarium

3 Nov

Creating a terrarium is incredibly easy.  If you’ve wanted to make one but have been too nervous to get started, I hope that by the end of  this post you are going to wonder what all the fuss was about. Anyone can make one, and this is the perfect activity to do with school-aged children—it’d start some neat conversations about biospheres and the processes of life.

First thing to note is that I am calling all of these creations “terrariums” even though in the strict sense of the word they are not: most of mine are uncovered environments, meaning they don’t develop their own little enclosed ecosystem. I call them terrariums to convey the sense that they are contained within glass. Enclosed terrariums are a lot trickier to establish than open ones but are still simple to put together.

Along with terrariums you may have also heard of vivariums. They are terrariums that function as a living environment for captive insects, reptiles, or amphibians. You have the challenge of creating an ecosystem not just for the plants involved but also for other creatures. Those are much more complicated and time consuming. For now, let’s just stick with plants, shall we?

Choose Your Container

The kind of terrarium you create will depend on the type of container you have on hand and the type of plants you are going to use. You’re going to want to match the plant to the container, or vice versa.

STEP 1: Choose a glass or clear plastic container. Either wipe out the inside with a rag or swish some water around in it if it’s used.

Pick Your Plants

My favorite type of plant is the succulent, but you absolutely don’t want a humid, enclosed terrarium for them. They like dry conditions and well-drained soil or else they rot. If you have your heart set on an enclosed terrarium, use moss, ferns, or my favorite, spider plants. Spider plants are always having little spider plant babies and in my experience aren’t deterred by an enclosed terrarium. Moss and ferns love a humid environment. I’ve never grown moss (it’s not wet enough around here to occur naturally) but I’ve had no trouble establishing ferns in enclosed terrariums.

STEP 2: Have your plant ready. Choose one that’s on the small side.

Lay The Foundation

Terrariums need some sort of rocky base for the excess water to drain into. Horticultural charcoal is really nice if you have it. It helps absorb excess moisture that could lead to fungus growth and rot. I’ve used it with good results, but then I ran out and just proceeded on with rocks and soil and it turned out fine. I’ve used decorative gravel from a big box craft store, treated aquarium gravel from the pet store, and actual gravel we just happened to have in the backyard. At first I was a little worried that the treated gravel would have wacky, unintended results in my terrariums, but I haven’t noticed anything strange because of it. The gravel from my yard worked just as well as the gravel from the craft store, but it wasn’t as good-looking, to be honest.

STEP 3: Fill your empty container with about an inch or so of pebbles. This depends on the size of your container, but an inch or two should be fine. If you are using horticultural charcoal, add it in a thin layer on top of the pebbles.

Add Your Soil

I usually use a sterile potting mix. If you get peat or some perlite mixed in that can help with drainage. I’ve also added in soil from my backyard, too when I was running low on potting mix. One time I created an enclosed terrarium but did not use sterile potting mix. A gnat of some sort laid eggs in the soil and within two days my lovely enclosed terrarium was swarming with tiny flies. It was nauseating.

STEP 4: Add your soil. Make sure it is very moist. It shouldn’t be dripping, soggy-wet, but it should be moist. I like to add about two or three times as much soil as pebbles, but this depends on your container. How much soil you need depends on the plants you choose and how deep their root systems go. Three or four inches of soil, or even more, has worked for me.

Add Your Plants

Moisten the soil and add your plants. The trick is to add very small plants. You don’t want to add a plant that looks like it would fit—you want to go much smaller. If you add a plant that fills out the terrarium already you are going to have to repot the sucker immediately or it will outgrow your container. Start with miniature-sized versions and expect them to grow.

STEP 5: Transfer your plants like you normally would when repotting. Gently pull it out of the pot, loosen the root ball, and set it in a hole you dug inside the terrarium. Cover gently with soil.

Add Aesthetic Touches

It’s traditional to add a little figure or statue to your terrarium. It’s definitely not necessary and I don’t always add them, but small toys can be an extra fun step in creating terrariums. When I bought my egg-shaped terrarium it came with two vintage, hand-painted figures: one a tiny mushroom and the other a miniature swan. Personally I like to add toys to the mix: a dinosaur, or a gnome, or tiny plastic ninja. It’s fun and cute but certainly not necessary nor needed.

Some people get very creative with their terrariums and they landscape the soil as they put it down to give their terrariums hills and valleys. Or they sprinkle the surface of the soil with gravel or sphagnum moss. Terrariums look lovely on their own but think of it as gilding the lily.

STEP 6: Add gravel, rocks, figures, or other decorative touches. Completely optional.

Growing Tips

The frequency and amount of water will very per plant and container. If the terrarium is enclosed and the soil is moist enough, you won’t need to do more than an infrequent misting with a spray bottle. Sometimes a trickle of water from the watering can once a week is all that’s needed. Succulents like their roots to dry out in between watering but ferns like to stay moist. If you can get a good condensation going on the glass of your enclosed terrarium, then you needn’t interfere.

Terrariums do best in indirect sunlight. Never place them in direct sunlight because the temperature inside will rise and kill your plants. Too little water is better than too much water. Overwatering promotes the growth of bacteria and fungus.

Repotting

Reassure yourself with the knowledge that some terrariums are not going to last forever. Sure, there’s the trial and error of establishing a plant, but even when things go well your terrarium might only last a season. Some plants do so well in terrariums I’ve had to repot them after a few months because they’ve outgrown their container. Some plants I’ve been able to keep going for six months to a year before they ran out of space, but some plants more and some plants less. This isn’t a failure—it’s a success.

External Links

My awesome friend Kate (whose home is so gorgeous her kitchen was featured in Better Homes and Garden) started this terrarium group on flickr. It is by far the coolest group and has tons of amazing terrariums for inspiration. Kate made me a moderator of the group and I invite people to participate whenever I can. If you create a terrarium please add it to the group! We’d love to have you.

I am not an expert on terrariums. I’m just someone who loves them and who has made a few and wanted to share what works for me. You can find more information about terrariums here:

Here’s a teaching activity about creating an environment in a soda bottle.

This guy’s all about terrariums.

I really like this site.

If you use this tutorial to create a terrarium, please share it! If you post yours on flickr please add it to the terrarium group and add a link in the comments here so we can see your work. If you have any questions let me know and I’ll answer them as best I can.

Falling Waters: The Soothing Sounds of Nature

29 Sep

My daughter is attached to me at the hip. We sleep together, we eat together and you know what? We go to the bathroom together, too.

That’s right. I bring my daughter into the bathroom with me.

I see this as a matter of safety and not just a matter of convenience. When I am the only one at home with her, I’d rather lock her in the bathroom with me than leave her to her own cat-tail-pulling, electrical-socket-investigating, shoe-tasting devices. She knows exactly where to go when Mama says, “I have to go to the bathroom. Do you want to come with Mommy?”

“YEAH!” she exclaims excitedly, and she bolts down the hallway. (She never says “yes,” just “yeah!” I’m convinced it’s because she’s half Swedish. I’ve yet to catch her saying, “Bork! Bork! Bork!” though.)

Isobel is becoming more aware of her own bodily functions and she is probably not that far off from toilet training. We ask her frequently if her diaper is wet and if it’s time for a change. Sometimes she lets us know she has a poo poo. I’m always proud of her when she walks up to me and says, “Poo poo!” because she’s recognizing her body and its functions and holy hell! I just think that’s great. Clearly, she’s a genius.

Before we go any further I’d like to bring up the following facts:

  1. Everybody poops. I’m sorry if that offends your delicate sensibilities, but it’s a fact of life.
  2. When I was being toilet trained I always thought my turds were fishies and I’d happily wave “bye bye!” to them as I flushed the toilet. It’s #oversharewednesday so I just thought you should know.

There you have it. Everyone poops, and everyone has funny stories of toilet training.

But this story isn’t just about poo poo.

As I’ve mentioned probably dozens of times now, Isobel and I spend pleasant late afternoons and early evenings on the patio blowing bubbles, coloring with chalk, or digging around in birdseed. I bring a snack and we eat on the porch together followed by unwinding in the Indian summer sun. If she wants to stay outside for a couple hours, I open my laptop and work on some projects. After awhile she lets me know when she is ready to head inside and we make dinner while listening to the musical stylings of DJ Lance Rock.

One of the things she really likes to do is to help Mama water her plants. She calls all plants, “flower” and uses the Spanish term “agua” for “water.” Yesterday I set the hose on the edge of the chair and set my watering can beneath it. As water filled can it made that distinctive pouring noise that one usually hears while going to the bathroom.

“Mama!” she said, full of excitement, “Agua pee pee!”

“Yes, I guess it does sound like that when I go to the bathroom.”

“Agua! Pee pee!”

“Yup! You’re a smart girl.” I agreed with her. It totally sounded like pee pee now that I thought about it.

Then she ran her fingers through the stream of water as it left the hose and filled the can.

“Pee pee,” she said with wonder.

Pretty Pictures: Orchids

19 Sep

This orchid room was on display at this year’s county fair. Isn’t it just gorgeous? I’m kind of torn—I’m a reverent supporter of xeriscaping and hope to one day convert my front and back yard into a water-conserving paradise. Growing orchids in our climate is kind of the equivalent of buying oranges from Chile in the off-season. I love orchids but I just don’t think that they were meant to live everywhere and since it takes so much time and trouble to grow them here I have to wonder if it’s worth it. If you’re an orchid aficionado and that’s your passion, that’s one thing. But the casual gardener like myself can’t really justify the time, energy and money it takes to sustain plants that abhor my climate.

I mean, I tried. After I graduated high school I had enough disposable income to spend on exotic flowers yet not enough to move out and support myself so I filled my bathroom at my mom’s house with orchids. I learned a lot about orchids in that time, namely that you shouldn’t try to grow them if you live in a hot, dry, savannah-like climate. They did okay in the bathroom, which received lots of light and was constantly a bit humid from the showers my sister and I took, but removing them from that room was practically a death sentence. When I finally moved away from home I ended up returning the orchids to my parents’ bathroom. They were unhappy anywhere else.

I could never get them to bloom after their initial flowering, but I could get them to grow and look happy as long as they stayed in the bathroom. Whenever I see orchids in the store I’m tempted to try again but I can’t justify spending twenty bucks on a project I don’t have the time and energy for.

Aren’t they lovely though?

The Widow

18 Sep

They look like they are made of latex and poison.

I would not call myself particularly afraid of spiders. I don’t like them in my house, and I certainly don’t want them crawling on me, but if I see them I can generally leave them alone and not freak out about it. I give them their space.

I have been on a black widow murdering spree, but I’ve found many other spiders in my yard and I leave them be. They aren’t a danger to my family and they are a part of the ecosystem. But black widows are dangerous and they love the valley.

I have been happily cleaning up my patio while Isobel has been contentedly playing in the backyard each evening. After I get home from work she grabs her shoes asks to go “outside” and we spend about two hours playing on the patio. It’s been lovely.

Wednesday was like any other day. We were outside and Isobel was holding an imaginary conversation with her bunny. She wanted to lie on the picnic blanket which had been stored outside. I obliged.

When it was time to go inside and make dinner, Isobel was having so much fun on the blanket she didn’t want to go in. She was happy enough to go inside, though, if the blanket came with her. I gave it a good shake to loosen any collected debris and we went inside.

We had been playing inside for nearly an hour before it happened. The black widow was hiding in the blanket. And it was pissed.

I don’t know when or how it got in there since we use this blanket so often. I don’t know what made it decide to choose that exact moment to attack. I don’t know why it chose me and not my baby. But I am so, so grateful it did. I would gladly take a spider bite for her. Any spider bite.

Isobel and I were sitting on the blanket playing together in front of the TV. (Top Chef finale!) Zorro was with us. The blanket was in a pile as opposed to being all stretched out. Isobel prefers a pile because she likes to nest in it and cover her baby in its voluminous folds.

I was lying down on the blanket near her when suddenly, the widow charged out from the blanket and ran across it heading straight for me. It crawled right up my hand and onto my wrist. I didn’t scream. I didn’t flip out. My thought process became as fast as lighting.

Get it off.

Get the baby and the cat away.

Kill it. Kill it. Kill it.

In one movement I shoved Isobel and Zorro off the blanket as I flung it off my arm. I brought the folds of the blanket together on the spider as hard as I could. I crushed it and I rubbed it. Poor Isobel is not used to such rough treatment from me and started crying. I gathered up the blanket and threw it on the front porch, then searched Isobel’s body for the telltale target-shaped mark that would mean she had been bitten.

She had not.

And as far as I could tell, I had not, although I must have come very close.

Later in the evening, after Isobel was tucked safely in bed, I went to examine the blanket, the crushed spider, and take photos. To be fair, I was guessing that it was a black widow. I am very familiar with them but the whole incident happened very quickly and I didn’t slow down to confirm anything. I listened to my gut.

I carefully unfolded the blanket in the weak yellow porch light and there she was – shiny and black and full of poison. The dominatrix of spiders. The widow. I leaned in and snapped a few photos.

Slowly she started to writhe.

I crushed her without fear this time and when I was done, so was the spider.

There was not much left of her.

Before this incident I had done some reading up on black widows as they are one of the last natural predatory dangers to us in my area, aside from gangbangers with pit bulls and gigantic pickups with trucknuts. Here’s what I learned.

Look at it! They are the scariest-looking of all spiders, including wolf spiders and tarantulas!

You may remember from earlier complaints that we have somewhat of a black widow problem.

Black widows are common in the hot, dry areas of California, such as exactly where my home is located. And since our house was vacant for quite some time before we moved in, the property developed a nasty, unchecked widow problem. I found them everywhere, multiple times a day, and they were HUGE.  Clearly I need to find out more about them for Isobel’s sake.

I decided to read up a bit on black widows since they are so common and technically they are one of the only threats in our area. One should be familar with the threats in one’s area, yes? Other local threats include crooked politicians, mumbling tweakers, gang bangers and the Local Royalty.

I found out some interesting things about them, such as:

  • Females do not usually eat their unsuspecting mates. It’s the exception to the rule. Often times he ends up living off the food she traps in her web, the freeloader. (Murder one husband and you’re branded a ‘black window’ for life. Sheesh.)
  • Males are small and brownish with fangs too small to be a danger to humans.
  • They have the GALL to frequently attack and kill CATS. Those BASTARDS. (Although probably the cats started it. STILL.)
  • Although they may have an undue bad reputation regarding husband-murdering, they are still JERKS but for different reasons.
  • Black widows are more venomous than rattlesnakes, but significantly less dangerous: no one has died of a black widow bite in over ten years.
  • In looking for natural pest control I wanted to see if there were any creatures I could add to my habitat that would control the problem via The Circle of Life. But the natural enemy of the black widow is a mud dauber wasp. A MOTHERFUCKING WASP. THAT IS NOT COOL, NATURE. NOT COOL.
  • Chickens love to eat black widows, so look for a flock of chickens in my yard soon.  They will be rigtht next to my guard llamas.

Black widows are one of the main reasons I’m cleaning up my backyard. They love to hang out in secluded spaces. I’m going to sweep the hell out of my patio in the hopes that they will move somewhere else. I’m mostly worried for Isobel as black widow bites are especially dangerous to small young children.

Now, I’m off to see if chickens are also effective against crooked politicians.

Buddha Baby

14 Sep

I am incredibly proud to say that I’ve been working on my patio. I know! I didn’t think it would happen either! It came about accidentally, of course, because I’ve been “planning” to do stuff outside for years and it hasn’t happened. In fact, when Anthony read the post that said each year I had planned to work on the patio and he said, “Really? I never knew that.” What can I say? Clearly I have excellent planning and  follow through skills.

It started last week. Isobel wanted to go outside, and the weather had cooled to the point that I was glad to take her. I realized while we were out there that I had the capacity to make myself useful. I could sweep! And do plant-related chores! A revelation. Isobel’s favorite things to do outside include filling a bucket with water and then dumping it out, stomping ar0und in her pool, and playing with birdseed—all things she likes to do independently anyway.

Probably the most wonderful part about hanging out outside together is that she is so entertained she never asks to watch Yo Gabba Gabba. TV-free entertainment! There’s nothing more frustrating than traying to spend Quality Time with your daughter after a long work only to have her constantly request “Babba! Babba!” I’M TRYING TO ENRICH YOUR LIFE WITH QUALITY TIME, CHILD.

In between trying to resuscitate my herb garden and creating some new terrariums, I was also kept busy killing black widow spider eggs and teaching Isobel the basics of plant maintenance. I’m slowly working on trying to salvage some of my plants and get things in order.

Isobel especially loves to watch me water the plants. I need to somehow get a video of this but the other night while she was watering them she made kissing noises over them.

I. DIED.

Although what I really want is to fill my garden with gnomes someday, right now it’s full of Buddhas. I enjoy a garden Buddha or three. So does Isobel. When she saw them she referred to them as “baby” and wanted to play with and talk to all the “babies” I had in the garden. Please add this to your “too cute to be real” and “is she lying?”collection of stories.

I am not lying. I could never make anything this cute up.


Oh, and one more thing—remember our pond? Well, due to extenuating circumstances, we’re taking it out. Actually, our neighbor is taking it out. We’ve worked out a trade: in return for taking out our pond he’ll get to keep the equipment for building a pond in his own yard. Win-win. He’s actually talked about converting the giant pond into a small water-feature consisting of just the waterfall and the bubbler. I would love that because I love the sound of the water and a smaller feature would be safer for the baby and easier to block off.

The pond doesn’t look so good right now though. It looks like a biohazard.

The previous owners put it in and it’s illegally deep. Pond breadth and depth are regulated and this pond is too deep for its overall size (according to our neighbor). Basically it’s an accident waiting to happen. We loved having it and we loved having fish but it’s a bitch to maintain, very expensive, and because things are always going wrong we’re constantly having to refill it to keep the fish alive. Water is going to  be metered here soon and we just can’t afford it.

The bigger reason, of course, is Isobel. We’ve been talking about taking it out ever since the little stick I peed on revealed a plus sign. I would never just let her run around the yard without supervision, but since we have a pond I never even let her get a certain distance away from me. The pond is not exactly easy to fence off, either. I can’t wait till we have this land back.

Hopefully soon it will be scaled back to a modest water feature and I can fill this whole area with plants and a tiny orchard. And more Buddha Babies.

Patio: Before-er

21 Aug

Summer’s over. For me, anyway. The most significant aspect of summer, my summer, is over: I have returned to work. I think I confused a lot of people on twitter when I mentioned I was back at work because it seemed like I had a maternity leave of almost two years. And wasn’t I laid off? What is your deal, Liberrian? Or should we call you Lie-berrian?

The truth of the matter is I have the best of both worlds: a librarian’s job on a teacher’s schedule. As school librarian I get summers off so spring and fall are a mad flurry of activity for me, winter is more calm, and summer, when I’m at home, is downright placid. Or at least, I always assume it to be for some reason. Then summer actually comes around and I find myself busier than ever and suddenly it’s August and I’m back at work, shelving books, kicking ass, and taking names.

I start each summer with a to do list that’s accumulated throughout the working year and I count myself lucky if I get through half of it. An item that always makes the list is to redo the patio area. I mentioned this before, so it probably sounds familiar.

Garden Buddha: Still chilling on the useless electric grill

As I’m back at work I don’t have an awesome ‘after’ photo to show you of my recently redesigned patio. It’s pretty much the same, but we did manage to get a couple things done, such as:

1. My mom replanted one of my very root-bound ferns. That counts, even if I didn’t do it, right?

2. I have two new Monterrey-native succulents! While on vacation we walked by a planter filled with healthy jade-type succulents on the way to the Monterrey Bay Aquarium and I broke off two teeny-tiny pieces and planted them the moment we got home. Not exactly on the up-and-up, but I’m what you’d call a Rouge Gardner. Er, yeah.

3. I pruned the rosemary bush! (That sounds like a euphemism. I swear to you it is not, however further details of my “rosemary bush” will be saved for #oversharewednesday.) This is something I’m very proud of because it’s an actual yard work activity that I did. I normally can’t be bothered with anything besides watering and the occasional replanting, so I feel like this is a big deal. I have so much wonderful dried rosemary now my entire family’s getting some in their Christmas stocking. Take that, recession!

Our very nice neighbor across the street does the maintenance on our pond and he’s also been helping us do something about the sorry state of our back lawn. Our house was vacant for about a year before we moved in and around here if you don’t constantly water your lawn it will wither and die. Which ours did. But it still sort of looked like we have a lawn because we’d mow the weeds and Bermuda grass level and kind of fake it. It’s sharp and terrible though and you can feel it stabbing you in the rear when you sit on it, even if you lay a blanket down first. Isobel can only walk on it if she’s wearing shoes, it’s that bad.

A weird bush also started growing randomly right in the middle of our neglected lawn. I saved this photo from the real estate listing because it looked they they were featuring the weird bush as some sort of selling point:

I don't want no shrub

We never bothered about the lawn before because they are a waste of resources if you don’t use it. And we didn’t. Now that we have Isobel, we want to use it so Chris, the very nice neighbor, has been helping us salvage it.

We affectionately named this tree "the stick."

That tree, by the way? Dead before we even moved in. Like, dead-dead. It looks this way year round. Chris ended up just pulling it out of the ground. It took me three days to notice it was gone and even then I only noticed it because it was leaning against the fence by the pond. He pulled it out of the ground. Chris tilled the lawn as it was quite uneven and the next step is to re-seed. I’d love to have something sort of resembling a lawn for Isobel and Kingston to play on next summer.

Illegal Succulents

I still have some pumpkins! Remember the pumpkins? I lost my own bet as the first one to go was the one I thought would last the longest. In my defense the only reason it rotted was because Isobel loved that pumpkin and her favorite game to play with it was to pick it up and then throw it on the ground as hard as she could to see it bounce. It only bounced the first couple times, really. After that it turned into a pulpy mess.

Three is the loneliest number

I just realized I never answered my own question! I was laid off! But then I was un-laid off. It was sort of illegal for them to lay me off at that point so they un-laid me off then laid-off someone else but then they un-laid that person off at the last second.

After all is said and done I will most likely be laid off again at the end of this school year. Hey, more time to neglect my patio, right?

Still a D-bag