Friday, September 29, 2006

I can do the countdown on one hand

I could even do the countdown on one hand if I were a member of the Simpsons! That's a big moment.

That means 4 (unless we don't count today, which I'm not, then it's 3) days to go 'till Rome.

What this means in real life is that I'm taping a note to the back of my chair at work (see you in two weeks, suckas!) and heading straight to the garage to unearth my suitcase.

What lies beyond the suitcase will be nothing short of dramatic, I'm sure. The pile growing on my dresser of "Misc. Shit to Pack" is growing more unwieldy by the hour and I'm praying that my suitcase grows a mother-in-law unit out the back so that I can get everything in there. And, I *may* have organized my packing list on Google Spreadsheets so that I can anal-retentively check boxes off as I pack, unpack and repack my suitcase throughout my trip.

Oh yes, I take my crazy online.

And even though I said that I was done shopping (did I say that out loud?) I *may* do another little run this weekend in the event that my pre-vacation fashion show goes poorly.

What? I haven't told you about how, before every trip I set out each outfit that I'm packing and then try each one on? With jewelry, shoes and bag? In the order I plan to wear them? Oh yes. It is true. Awesome crazy, no? And then, after all that, sometimes it turns out that I can't put together enough good outfits, and I have to take stock and go shopping. I anticipate this will happen this weekend.

And then I'll get to Rome, wear the same jeans 4 times (they have a washer and dryer, don't you know) and half of my clothes will come home unworn and will only have served the purpose of Valuable Suitcase Real Estate Placeholders.

Good fun.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Vacation Brain

I'm sure I'm not the only one who gets a mad case of Vacation Brain in the days (weeks/months) before a long-awaited trip.

You know what I'm talking about: long bouts of staring out the window from your desk at work while you mentally pack your bag, long bouts of insomnia spent staring at the ceiling as the fan goes round and round while you mentally pack your bag, long bouts of staring at the WB on TV while you search wildly for the remote because you HATE THE WB and should really be watching SportsCenter while you mentally pack your bag, etc. Oh, and that doesn't even cover the other waking moments of the day that you spend either practicing the native language of the country you're about to visit or trying to conjugate it's many verbs.

It's virtually paralyzing. I don't think I've done any meaningful work all week. I doubt I've had a coherent conversation in at least three days. It's possible that most of my coworkers (and possibly hubby, too) think that I've taken a leave from my sanity since I've been spouting random bits of Italian whenever the mood strikes me and then quickly receding into my Vacation Brain haze.

And, we all know what's going to happen, I'm going to finally be in this place of my recent obsession and my mouth will slam shut. I won't be worried about conjugating any verbs - no - I'll be worried about spitting out, "Due cappucinno, per favore" at the bar in the morning. Even though this is a no-brainer right now, as I sit thousands of miles from Rome, safe from the expectant eyes of the Arrividerci/Buongiorno man at the bar by my friend's house.

I'll say it, native speakers scare me. They know I'm faking it. They know that my subject/verb agreement sucks wind. They know I can't remember how to say, "Maybe", most of the time. ("Forse"- see, right now, I can remember. One week from today, I will totally forget it at the most inopportune time and will instead say something dumb like, "Quizas" which is the wrong language altogether.) It's like I'm standing around naked a lot of the time, with only the most threadbare of rags to cover my bits.

Thankfully, visiting friends means I won't be nude. No, they provide the necessary shield from which I can emerge at random intervals to spout my "frase del giorno". Last time it was "Ale, sa dove andiamo?" (Ale, do you know where we're going?) Which I used often and unnecessarily since Ale is a native Roman and has never been witnessed getting lost. But there was verb conjugation in there and it was more than one word in a row, therefore, it became the cornerstone of my conversation abilities. Oh, and let's not forget my dedication to asking people at the New Year's dinner party whether they wanted "acqua frizzante or naturale" despite their clear gestures. I was obnoxious.

This time, I'm not sure what I'll be randomly banging on about, but I will have to do it after many glasses of wine and lots of native encouragement. I just hope I can avoid having the Tazza D' Oro lady paw through my wallet to get exact change. Perhaps I should be practicing saying, "Hey you crazy broad, get the hell out of my bag while I figure out which of these funny looking coins to give you."

Oh yes, my international savvy is really something.

Monday, September 25, 2006

I told you I was a nerd

Let me say, right up front, before you all get mad at me - I'm super extra happy and excited that people as lovely as yourselves (you know who you are) want to join in on the book clubbing! I knew people still read books. I just knew it.

And, before you get all uprise-y, I did warn you of my nerdiness with my previous post. You know, as it referred to my desire for a book club so that I could channel my nerdy need for book convo amongst peers...

And so, I will now profess to you my nerdy situation - I finished the book.

*pause for criticism and squawks of annoyance*

I know, I know. We have a month already still. Sometimes I annoy myself with these things that I do.

Let's blame it on the San Francisco 49ers, shall we? They suck and yet I still feel the loyal fan responsibility to watch every last agonizing down lest they somehow pull out a miracle play and actually *gasp* win a game. Or at least tag a fieldgoal and put some points on the board. It's a long shot, but I hold out hope.

And, while I hold out hope, I read my book from the couch so that I don't scream loud at the TV, frightening Hubby, neighbors, fat cat, etc. And to bring this rambling story home to you extra special (and forgiving*) book clubbers - the 49ers have sucked extra wind so far this season (yes, we're only on week 3 here) and so I've had plenty of time to soothe my frayed nerves with book reading and Bombay Sapphire while perched nervously on the westernmost corner of my couch cushion.

So, with nerdy confession out of the way, I say - peel back the cover and enjoy the crap out of this book so we can dish on 10/31. And, to make up for my premature enjoyment, I'm going to take a copy of this book (my personal one) overseas to the international branch of our book club so that we can have well-rounded chatter on the subject in one month's time. It's only fair, I say.

Speaking of which...9 days to go...

Friday, September 22, 2006

Book club

As it turns out, I'm the slightest bit nerdier than my book clubmates. Yes, I'm sure this comes as a shocker to one and all.

And since the recent decision was made to put our regular book club meetings on hiatus in lieu of Movie Night (a less intimidating occasion without the pesky homework), I've been finding it hard to release my white-knuckled grip on the concept of regularly reviewing books amongst my peers.

So, I'm bringing book club to the blog.

There will still be the same wine drinking and snack eating (even if only on my end, but come on and join me) as before, except that the comments will be posted on the blog instead of blurted out between gossipy recountings of office misbehavior while pouring second (third) glasses of wine.

So, fellow book worms, won't you join me in the dimantling of modern literature by picking up the book you see along the right chrome here and coming back with your comments on the noted date? It will be fun and enjoyable, with very little travel required, and will perhaps divert your eyes from the TV in time to save your cornias from certain damage. Plus, if you've never read any of Bill Bryson's stuff, I bet you'll be glad you stumbled across it. And, if by some miracle, you don't find yourself honking out loud with laughter, I'll apologize right here in front of everyone for misguiding you.

And, if no one wants to join me, I'll carry on by myself. Returning on Halloween to sum up and comment on what is already (just a few pages in) a terminal side-splitter.

Have good weekends, all.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

12 days and counting...

I am now officially in the throes of preparing for my trip.

I do this much like one might prepare for an international move to a third world country. This is when I act like Rome is not the largest city in Italy, with retailers and services far and away more comprehensive than those in my own hometown, and instead like an unknown civilization with limited means that can be entered only by the most self-sustaining and resourceful travelers.

Clearly, this is not the case.

I mean, for starters, there are more than three million people living there. Which means they must at least have one shoe store.


Italian shoes?

Who has heard of such things?

I say this because I just bought three pairs of shoes for my trip. Yes three. And I already have at least two at home earmarked for the suitcase. That brings us to five pairs for nine days. No, I'm not trying to wear a different pair everyday. But one must be prepared for all scenarios, and so I pack more shoes.

This might *might* be why I hate packing so much. Clearly I have a hard time being decisive when faced with a defined travel period, my closet and a "whimsical" method of getting dressed. (Whimsical=slow and mind-numbing) This might also explain why I race off to buy a bunch of new clothes (and shoes) and then debut them during my trip, without properly road-testing them on my home turf. I mean, being faced with having to make attractive outfits from a limited wardrobe for more than seven separate days is a challenge I'm simply not up to. So, I shop.

This is always a mistake. This is how one ends up in a foreign country unknowingly exposing the native countrymen to ones private bits thanks to a poorly installed zipper or peek-a-boo button. These things should be tried out close to home and within arm's reach of a handful of safety pins. (Note to self: pack safety pins)

Regardless of the woes that surely await me, I've shopped. And I fear, I have shopped beyond my means to carry. My suitcase may have the ability to unzip an extra three inches of storage space, but it isn't one of those cartoon suitcases in which you can house a full grown hippopotamus playing a cello. Sadly. Since that would mean I could bring at least two more pairs of shoes and maybe even my boots. *Drool*

So I'm at that scary point in my packing (fricken 'ew) when I have to reacquaint myself with the laws of physics and start nixing clothes for the sake of space and so that hubby will not roll his eyes when he sees me trying to oldschool close my suitcase by sitting on it. Again, this is not a cartoon.

15, 14, 13, 12...

Monday, September 18, 2006

Notes from the Grand Canyon State

As it often happens, I have returned home from another blissful trip to visit three of my five best friends, who have grouped themselves conveniently in one city, without a photo to show for it.

It has occurred to me that when surrounded by people who I love, and more importantly, who don't annoy me, I relax into heap of contented euphoria from which I am only capable of participating in a few limited activities-like balancing a cocktail on my lips and laughing hysterically. The notion of taking pictures, even of my perfect goddaughter, is the farthest thing from my mind. Especially when I can hold said goddaughter in my lap and stare into her pretty eyes instead (without a drink in my other hand, as I was instructed by her mommy).

So, here I am, back at the homestead, trying desperately to pull my plants back from a weekends devastation caused by a surprise heat, somewhat kicking myself for not having photographed the loveliness that is Arizona this time of year.

I mean, yes, it was hot, let's not lose all sense of reality, but when it cooled off and we were lounging on the patio staring at the desert sky and over the rough and tumble landscape, I had my I'm-visiting-Arizona-and-being-beguiled-by-its-sandy-charm moment that I always have while I'm there where I think, "Hey, I could get used to this!"

Then I remember my short period of Arizona residence with a shudder and choose instead to ogle the javalina making their stinky way up the driveway and peer through my cameras zoom lens at the tarantula picking it's way across the street below. I also ritualistically indulge in gaping at the desert night sky (decidedly different and more spectacular than skies viewed in other locales) while continuing to fill my glass and listen to my friend's kids talk tirelessly of their beanie baby's dating preferences. It may sound surprising, but this makes me very happy.

It also makes me happy to know that my best friend's kids are growing up with a keen acceptance for gay marriage and that they incorporate that into their stuffed animal dating scenarios. For those taking note, "Fuzz" (a brownish type Beanie bear) can only go to the ball with other boy bears. Such wisdom in such tiny people.

And so, here I am, back in the Golden State, happy to be home, but also a bit melancholy since I won't see these hilarious, non-annoying, perfectly-crafted-just-for-me friends all in one sitting for a while. Plus, sobriety has kicked in and I realize I have a lot of laundry and unpacking to do. Gah!

Good thing I'm off for Rome soon to see another one of my five perfect fit friends. Let us begin the countdown...16,

Friday, September 15, 2006

Hello, my name is Waterdew

I'm packing this morning (unless you and I work together, in which case I'm working from home), and aside from unpacking, there is little else I despise more than the act of packing a suitcase. Mostly because I don't like wrinkling my clothes and because I know I'm inevitably going to forget something important like underwear or a fifth pair of shoes.

But it does make me happy to know that in just a few hours I'll be sipping margaritas with one of my favorite people and likely sweating through my tank top since one of my favorite people happens to live on the surface of the sun where it is currently just shy of 100 degrees. Apparently Fall is only present there in the Pumpkin Spice Lattes at Starbucks.

Either way, and to explain the random photo at the beginning of this post, as I started packing and soon lost interest, I decided to pay a visit to the vegetable garden that I'll be abandoning for four days so I could fill up the feeders which the birds have so meticulously emptied in the last 24 hours. Is it possible for hummingbirds to be overweight? It appears that I'm conducting some sort of experiment on the theory since the feeder is sucked dry most every time I go out to the garden and the feeder also suspiciously lists to one side when the hummingbird arrives for one of it's 250 daily meals. Perhaps I'll be the first person to find a hummingbird that weighs more than a penny (I read it on the cap of my Snapple).

As I wandered the yard, post fill-up, I stopped to inspect/lust after/congratulate myself on the progress of my newest honeydudes and I ran across this strange specimen that looked like both honeydew and watermelon. I briefly entertained the idea that I had somehow inadvertantly created a honeydew/watermelon crossbreed and, of course, gave myself a little unearned pat on the back for my gardening ingenuity. Really though, I don't know what happened here and what will result from the unusual stripedness of the honeydew, so instead of trying to get all horticultural I decided to just give it a name and go back to sorting out my shoe collection for my trip.

I'll call him Waterdew.

Good weekends to all.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Tomato Tunnel [NOT PORN]

Let us bring the Tomato Tunnel into the light of day so that you can all stop thinking me batshit.

What you are looking at is a (one) tomato plant that has so excessively overgrown it's laughably underachieving tomato "cage" that is had to be staked up with 2x2s, reigned in with garden twine, wrapped with multiple levels of chicken wire in two of it's many growth stages and has finally had to have an extra wing put on to it's acreage in order to accommodate it's latest growth spurt. Basically, it's taken on the Bay Area motto of "If you can't grow out, grow up". I'm glad our plants have learned to manage urban sprawl.

You can probably see now why I'm looking so skeptically at my own wee tomato plants that, while reasonably productive, have way failed in the big 'n crazy department. Especially when compared to my neighbor's interpretation of tomato plants. I mean, can you even call this a tomato plant anymore? It's taking on the proportions of a one-car garage for godssake. A garage with a tunnel attached. Perhaps she is trying to annex my side of the fence by growing her plants, high and low, onto my property. Or, perhaps, she has just mastered the art of tomato growing and not-so-much the art of garden management. Who's to say?

Anyways, cool no?

Also cool:

Yes, these are sunflowers gifted to me by the aforementioned neighbors. Yes, the plants are some of the most successful in my garden. No, I am not jealous or bitter. But I am wildly proud of my super extra special resilient melon crop. You know, better to try to redirect the attention to *anything* in my yard that I can at least claim partial credit for.

Again, very, very self-involved.


For those of you who are hard-of-counting - that's three new fatty melons in there. Woo! I will eat them and think about what a genius I am.

And not about sabotaging my neighbors garden when they're out of town.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

In time for fall. Officially.

It is now Tuesday, two days post-landscapey project completion, and I am just able to once again move my arms and legs through their full range of motion and hobble to the computer to raise my (our - hubby was a godsend) hands in triumph.

Let me just say that I knew that shoveling nearly 5 cubic yards of dirt and bark wasn't going to be easy, and that I'd anticipated being somewhat worse for wear, but I was not prepared for my patience to be just as tired and sore as my, say, shoulders and hamstrings.

So, imagine for a moment that you, yourself, have ordered 5 cubic yards of dirt and bark (no matter how unlikely this scenario might be), and you have your shovel and wheelbarrow at the ready for the scooping and hauling of your future yard. You have meticulously planned the timing and execution of your landscaping project and even have the plants, other materials, sprinklers and hubby in their proper positions awaiting installation or call for immediate rescue. What could go wrong? Try to imagine.

Now guess.

Oh yes, having your 5 cubic yards of (surprisingly) heavy dirt and bark dumped a half block from your house instead of in the driveway as ordered/confirmed/reconfirmed because the driver of said dumping vehicle is an impressively unmotivated hammerhead who has never heard of customer service, damsels in distress, bitches on fire, women scorned and the like. He has obviously never run into any of the "service"people who have crossed me in the past. Otherwise, he'd have known the poor judgment he was displaying for all of my neighborhood to see. But, I have plans to deal with him on a separate occasion.

And thanks to my fabulously generous and helpful neighbors, who came wandering over to our piles with their own wheelbarrows and shovels, we managed to properly relocate the stuff to my yard and driveway where it could be properly molded into mini-hillsides suitable for hosting my leafy birthday presents from hubby. From the photo above, it is hard to really see the trees, since they are still a little on the wee side, but maybe this will help:

Japanese Maple (Bloodgood) and some frisky grasses

Japanese Maple(Winter Flame) and some other frisky grasses

And, before you say anything about the sparse nature of the layout here, it is all by design. Really. I'm planning something of a natural-ish hillside, so will be adding more grasses and native-type plants to the burms as we go. It's something of a work in progress that doesn't have to be mowed.

Perhaps I'll post photos when it starts to fill in a little. So you can stop making fun of me. Like some of the non-helpful neighbors who didn't come over to help scoop the dirt. (And I know they have shovels.)

I am proud to say, though, that of the neighbors who did help, they each came by to proclaim the fabulousness of the yard makeover, despite it's obvious lack of vegetation and supreme disregard for the value of sod. Self-congratulatory pride? Perhaps. Nonetheless, I limped my way to each of their doorsteps on Sunday morning with containers of Thank You chocolate chip cookies and the most heartfelt gratitude I could muster while in every variety of muscle distress. Which actually benefited them since each of them took turns mocking my festive 49ers t-shirt, and I was unable to take a swing at a single one. Luckies!

And now, with front yard landscaping accomplished, we will turn our attentions to the woefully rickety backyard fence that will (hopefully) house our future dog(s). As you can see here, the current fence can't even restrain a simple rose bush. Oh no, this will not do. Not for the kind of hell beasts we plan to bring home.

Friday, September 08, 2006

In time for fall [2], plus a recipe

To post on less salacious topics, I'll revert now to my obsession with the front yard landscaping project that I decided to thrust on myself and overworked husband when Fall started staring me down in the front yard.

This weekend the highly anticipated dirt and bark will arrive. It is a bizarre time in one's life when dirt and bark can be highly anticipated items. I've clearly crossed some invisible line without knowing it. I'm not sure when I traded sleeping until 10am for shoveling top soil, but I have.

This project also gives new definition to the ways in which I've fallen prey to the seasons. It used to be that my life only had two seasons; winter and summer. They were defined by two activities; school and swimming. Then, I graduated college, moved to a crappy duplex that had a tiny strip of dirt and, BAM, my life had three seasons. Winter, spring and summer. Granted, I still only had two activities; work and gardening (swimming is hard in a crappy duplex with no pool), but I had a new season to care for and also plenty of plants to "get in the ground as soon as frost passed." I thought my life was complete. I had a purpose. Things to plan for and execute. Living things to care for (note: cat is nearly self-sustaining). And right as I thought I had a good bead on things, I found a reason to care about Fall.

Clearly this Fall thing is an issue. I mean, it will detract precious time from caring for said Summer and Spring activities and from planning for time-intensive Winter activities (which now also includes a healthy dose of snowboarding thanks to enthusiastic snowbunny husband). Can this be good?

Well, for the garden, it is good. I found out the hard (easy?) way that getting plants in the ground in the fall, just before the first rain starts, is a really good thing. (Note: I'm in NorCal) Rocket science? No. Farmer's Almanac wisdom bestowed on only a chosen few? No. Something I wandered the earth blissfully unaware of until only a few years ago? Yes. Somehow this keen, perfect and otherwise common sense piece of horticultural information escaped me for a long time. And I had a lot of plants fall victim to my widespread ignorance of Fall as Planting Season Extraordinare. Ok, so not all things can go into the ground in fall (most vegetables and things that will die with frost, for instance), but as far as landscaping with hardy perennials goes, this is the time. And I've got trees to go in, NOW! And nothing's better than doing a fresh sea of landscaping right before the rainy season to really get the new plants set for Spring.

So, how did I run across this gem of gardening knowledge? Not by my own thorough research or cunning gardening know-how, I assure you. It was actually through pure impulsiveness crossed with my characteristic laziness that it came to my attention. I bought some plants on clearance (buddleia and lavender), even though I didn't know how to care for them, and promptly jammed them in the ground about three weeks before the winter rains started. And, blimey!, they grew. And grew and grew and grew. And attracted butterflies, hummingbirds and bees just as the plant stick said they would. Miracle! They did not die! They didn't wither in the oppressive summer hell sun like all the other plants I'd put in the ground before them. I had stumbled across a rare or unknown piece of gardening information. I was flush with my success. My thumbs were practically radiating green.

Until I shared the *secret* knowledge with my mom. And she gave me a look as it if to say, "Oh, I hadn't realized that you were retarded until just now." Then she graciously thanked me for the information and modestly gestured to her thriving flower beds, fruit trees, vegetable garden and sweeping landscape to illustrate to me that she had, in fact, been privy to this knowledge at one point and apparently put it to use.

It is only recently that I have come to be more fully acquainted with the wider scope of my ignorance.

Regardless, I learned an important, if not already widely understood fact that, prepare yourselves:

Plants grow well with regular watering.

Which is basically what planting in the fall provides.I know, it's amazing I'm allowed within ten feet of a trowel.

And now to divert your attention from my gardening idiocy with the recipe that I used to kick off this, The Fabulous Fall season:

Zucchini Lasagna

2 large zucchini (or four medium ones), sliced lengthwise into 1/4 inch thick strips (to resemble lasagna noodles)
1 jar of your favorite pasta sauce (or use your own homemade recipe)
1 lb ground beef, browned
1 cup lowfat ricotta (or full fat if you like it like that)
2 cups + 1 cup shredded mozzarella
1 + 1/2 cup shredded parmesan
1/2 cup of chopped fresh parsley
1/2 cup of chopped fresh basil
1 tsp dried ground oregano
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 egg

  • Preheat oven to 375
  • Brown the beef in a medium skillet with garlic, half of the parsley, half of the oregano, salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.
  • (If using your own tomato sauce recipe) Prepare tomato sauce. Set aside.
  • In a medium bowl, mix ricotta, 1 cup parmesan, 2 cups mozzarella, egg, other half of parsley, other half of the oregano, basil, a bit of salt and pepper. Set aside.
  • In a 9X9 oven-safe pan, layer ingredients in the following order TWICE after adding a thin layer of tomato sauce to the bottom of the pan:
    • Zucchini strips
    • Ricotta mixture
    • Ground Beef
    • Tomato sauce
      • Start again with zucchini here...
  • Finish with a thin layer of tomato sauce, thecup of mozzarella, 1/2 cup of parmesan and the rest of the basil
  • Bake in 375 degree oven for about 20 minutes, turn the oven up to 400 and bake until the sauce is bubbling in the pan and the cheese begins to brown around the edges.
  • Remove and let cool for about 10 minutes.

Eat it and think about planting some trees before it rains. Then consider yourself a genius and give yourself a healthy pat on the back. Repeat.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Finny's Melons

After the yard destruction (details to follow) I trotted out to the garden to do something I love very much - harvest. I donned my garden apron (thank you to my sister for crafting this perfectly wonderful and much used gardening accessory) and headed to the vegetable beds to take in whatever sized haul the yard would yield.

Fortunately for me, and my neighbors within screaming distance, there was plenty to gather, thus saving anyone from having to hear me throw a temper tantrum like a five year old. Although I did find my watermelon plant in the throes of Wilt (damn damn damn damn), I was able to pull off two fully developed Moon and Stars watermelons before they, too, were damaged by this, the Master of All Garden Cooties.

After handing one over the fence to my similarly dressed neighbor (she was out in the garden gathering tomatoes in her own yard apron), I proudly added this beast to my Melon Harvest:

Ain't he a beaut? I think he's purty with all his stars. Unfortunately, he is without moon, which was only slightly disappointing. It appears that the Moon'ed melon went over the fence to our very enthusiastic neighbor who asked what was wrong with the melon and inquired about his lack of stereotypical stripes. After a short explanation, complete with wild hand gestures and a modest hug shared with the melon, I handed him over the fence to his new excited parents. I'm thinking that the remaining watermelon will be known as a New Moon and Stars variety after taking into account his non-moonness. And if you think I've taken too many liberties with the English language during this post, just wait...

All in all, the harvesting was successful. Especially after my neighbor handed be a full sack of tomatoes from her Tomato Tunnel. Sound lewd and inappropriate? I understand. I will try to take a photo of this non-pornographic tomato attraction. For now, let me just say that their tomato plants are reaching otherwise unheard of heights and have had to be retrofitted with pieces of fencing and 2x4s to keep them from toppling over onto their garage. And, the way they've constructed it, it looks as though you can crawl into the womb of the plant and harvest tomatoes until you reach daylight on the other side. So, I'll take a picture and you can see for yourselves exactly what I mean. It's cool.

And to keep in line with the vegetable innuendo, here's a shot of my luscious melons:

And before I get too crazy with the inappropriate photos and end up getting flagged, I'll segue into an update on my new whorish obsession with trees and the front yard landscaping project.

I realize that comparing this photo to the last photo of the front yard doesn't really show a ton of progress, but I promise you, many hours of labor (how appropriate) went into this yard over the long weekend. I meant to take a photo of the steaming pile of sod after it was ripped clean of the front yard, but I forgot. Perhaps I will share a photo of the Sod Pile with a photo of the Tomato Tunnel and confuse you all.

Either way, we managed to properly install some benderboard (don't get me started on how many ways we've seen this product improperly installed) and successfully scooped two giant sections of lawn out of the front yard. Then, talented Hubby (pictured above menacingly wielding his trenching shovel) custom installed the Master Sprinkler System that will soon feed all my carefully chosen plants. All I have to do is figure out how to calculate the area so that the geniuses at the bulk soil delivery place will give me some dirt - then I'll be off and running.

I'm starting to see why I didn't become a landscape architect. Too much math.

I will be working out the calculations (which I will spare you) this week and emptying the wheelbarrow of it's wayward contents in anticipation of the arrival of the dirt and bark. Hubby gets the weekend off after his contribution to the Weekend of Finny where he didn't stop doing me favors for one minute. Who is this man and how did I convince him to tether himself to me for life? Que milagro.

Friday, September 01, 2006

In time for fall

This here is a photo of our house just before we moved in over a year ago. I would include a current photo as a comparison, except that the utter lack of contrast would make it pointless. I've done exactly nothing with the yard since we moved in and, lets say, the lack of eye candy has started to haunt me.

Granted, the Nothing has meant zero work for me out in the front yard, which is good for a lot of reasons (one being that I can avoid long drawn out conversations with our neighbors while their children run pantsless on our lawn), but it's gotten to the point where the Nothing-ness is more annoying than beneficial. Even if it means I do have to engage in the occasional neighborly conversation about tree-trimming, parking faux pas, the evil New Two Story House going up three doors down, etc.

So, with shovel in hand, Hubby and I will do battle with the front yard this long weekend and hopefully transform the All Lawn Yard into a mini hillside complete with trees (I have two Japanese maples waiting patiently in their pots) and space for drifts of future plants. Lambs ear? Hostas? Misc bulbs? Definitely NorCal native plants.

Whatever ends up out there, I imagine, will be better than the boring, water-sucking, mower loving, leaf collecting, weed encouraging grassiness that currently invites people (mailmen, Jehovah's Witnesses, scamming door-to-door salesmen, pantless children, dogs with ill-behaved owners) to trample across it at all angles while they make their uninvited ways to our porch.

Sorry, I'm derailing. The current influx of knockers on our door is getting to me.

All that aside, I'm looking forward to dressing up the pig that is our front yard with some seasonal color and dimension.

Oh yes, that's right - leaves are going to be changing to season-appropriate colors right in our yard! Hello Red, Orange, Yellow, Rust, Lime, Kelly, Coral and Sage - you will no longer be figments of my imagination!

The first of two such transcendent trees to grace our yard:

Leaves turn brilliant scarlet in fall. Otherwise dark burgandy foliage will be falling all over my yard and I just don't care. Hello rake!

Leaves turn golden in fall and coral bark color intensifies in winter.
Lime green leaves emerge in spring.

Now, let me set your expectations appropriately, the potted lovelies we'll be planting aren't as big as these, but they will be. Someday! And regardless of their size, their leaves change color just the same. And since I'm actually planting them when I'm supposed to (fall), I'm hoping they'll live to see a simliarly glorious full grown size.

If all goes well, there will be many more trees planted on our property. We already have two spots earmarked in back. There will be an orange tree, oh yes. And, dare I say it, a birch! And more maples.

Who knew I'd become some sort of tree whore? Amazing how these things happen in Suburbia.