Month: May 2020

Still more yard and house junk

I never learn. The torn rotator cuff screams, I give it some rest overnight, then go back out and make it scream again. I’m surprised they can’t hear it in Muleshoe, Texas. Heck, maybe they can. Haven’t seen their headlines lately.

This time, it’s unhappy because I used it more than the left arm to scrape the moss off the retaining wall, where it had grown thick and matty behind the wiegela bush I had to cut down for the plumbing issue last December. The white area on the wall is roughly the former size of the bush, which is growing back nicely. It’s got no hummers in it this year, but that’ll come.

Weirdly, of the five or so wiegela stakes I put in the raised bed in December, all but one of which started growing this spring, not one had actual roots when I dug them up to put them in the ground by the back wire fence. WTH? They’ll probably die, but if they do, I’ll take some woody growth from this year’s and stick those in the ground this December. This one hasn’t been watered for a couple of days and its leaves are still perky, so who knows?

A problem is three or maybe five big-leaf maples that I can see on the Cliff of Doom but can’t get to. Those puppies grow huge, and there’s not much that can support the weight of a 100′-plus tree once it’s grown. This one is too close to the deck, so I lopped off three parts of it… I may have leaned farther over the deck than I should have, but nobody saw me, so I’m denying it. I need loppers longer than three feet, but that’s all I’ve got. The white specks are the amputated bits. It’s a shame to have to do it, because it provides a fourth layer of canopy protection for the ground, which needs it rather badly.

Despite the shrieking rotator cuff, I lopped off the cedar branches I could reach that were brushing against the house and sounding as if ghosts were trying to get in. They’re roughly an inch in diameter; there were four or five of them, and it was Excitement to figure out how to get to them. Given my clumsiness, I ain’t takin’ no ladder out there to get the higher-up ones! (There are, however, at least two limbs about 2″ to 2.5″ in diameter that need to come off. Heck, I’d like to take the whole tree down because the bigger it gets the harder that will be, and it bending with the direction of the prevailing winds = someday falling on my house. Maybe I’ll be dead by then.

And here’ll be the really fun part. I have no idea how it happened or where it came from, because it showed up only last year, but it looks as if someone splatted a water balloon full of hot road tar against the bottom fascia board and the walk-thru door frame on my garage. I took a bucket full of solvents up this morning to see what might work. It came off with paint thinner so is some sort of petroleum. It’s also very difficult to get off and does not come off cleanly. It looks better, mostly, if you just leave it alone, so since I don’t have to touch up most of that part of the trim, I will.

However, the door frame and trim are not in good shape, no thanks to the contractor who used watered-down paint to finish painting it. (Imagine vicious swearing here.) It took a fair bit of effort to get the splattered gunk off, and I’m gonna hafta do some wood preservation stuff and put some caulk between the door frame and the trim before I put on the touch-up paint.

The good news is that only two places look really bad and will need some pre-painting prep. One of them is on the house proper; this is the other one. This one (below; the garage one) is going to be fairly nasty and will involve putting something called wood hardener at its disposal to try to preserve the frame as long as I can. ‘Til I can get to that, it looks pretty rough. I’m hoping I can get that done this week.

The spot on the house, I think I can get to good wood with just some sanding.

The weather is gonna be the big thing with the deck. I need a space of about 10 days, to let the deck dry out for about a week, put the stain on, and let it dry a couple days before it gets rained on. It doesn’t look as if that’s going to happen ’til mid-June (if it does), and frankly, I’d like to get the darn thing finished so I can sit out there and enjoy the birds and squirrels!

The rest of the day went to weeding, mixing up and throwing out all the veg seeds into the raised beds (they’ve been in the fridge for years, so if anything comes up it’s a freebie), mixing similarly aged flower seeds with sand and throwing that around areas that need ground cover, and hauling 50 pounds of rocks, a bucket at a time, to fill up an eroded spot.

The triclopyr-on-the-cut-end-of-the-stems method doesn’t seem to be doing much to the trailing blackberries. It seems to kill them about a foot back, but they keep sprouting behind that! No idea what I’m gonna do, but I am gonna win. So there.

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Strange dreams

It’s been a while since I had one of my usual narrative-style dreams, most of which involve a fairly (for dreams) reasonable story.

This one I don’t remember much of, except that someone had given me a box of long cigars with a graphite rod down the center of each. They were considered suitable for persons with logorrhea, who babble on and on and on. (That’s appropriate, at least, and I am not going into symbolism, thank you. And yes, the word “logorrhea” was actually in the dream!)

As you smoked them, the graphite rod emerged and you could write ’til you’d worn the graphite down to the tobacco. Repeat the process, and voila! You’d written… well, a lotta words, doubtlessly like the monkeys who didn’t write Shakespeare.

That segued into an old high school friend, Mary H., and I trying to find a good Mexican restaurant that served proper sopaipillas–not the fried flour tortillas or fried chunks of freezer bread so often passed off as sopaipillas, but the real deal, the ones we grew up eating, the ones that puff up into perfect containers for honey or a cinnamon-sugar mixture. (I can’t even find a decent picture on the Internet! Yeezles!)

Sadly, I woke up before we found one. I may have to dig out my old recipe, which came from Ramona Ortiz. Yes!

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Word collection

I love words. I’ve always loved words. I love their shapes, their sounds, the way they feel in my mouth when I say them; I love playing with their shapes and sounds; I love making them up and messing with them. I love verbifying nouns (yes, like that!) and making ridiculous portmanteaus. (I rarely allow other people this leeway.)

On many, many bits of paper and wildly unrelated computer files, I have collected a brillion (ridiculous portmanteau: “brilliant” and “million.” Yay, me!) words over my lifetime, most of which I never remember to use (and if I wanted to, I’d have to find the right piece of paper or computer file. Good luck with that).

Here’s one I couldn’t pass up: PARACOSM — a detailed fantasy world invented by a child, with its own geography, history and language.

Isn’t that delightful?!

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How things get complicated

In which she realizes it’s a wonder anyone can ever get anything done

So. My neighbor in #22, kind soul that she is, said she’d lend me her pressure washer to clean off my deck preparatory to touching up the finish (read: doing a lot more than I’d like, because I didn’t have spoons to do it last year and it must be done this year, spoons or no).

“I’ll leave it by the garage for you,” she said.

I heard, “I’ll leave it by my garage.”

This morning I drove down to pick it up. No washer by her garage. Rang the bell. She wasn’t home and there’s a package by her front door, so I texted her.

“Sorry I missed you; no pressure washer by the garage. I’ll check back later.”

Then I went for a drive, just to remind the car how internal combustion engines work, and came home half an hour later. Got the mail, came inside, realized I’d left the keys in the car, went back up to get them, came down, heard the tail end of a message from another neighbor.

Called the other neighbor. “New-person in #17 found a pressure washer in her driveway this morning,” she said. “Would that be the one #22 was going to lend you?”

“Probably,” I replied. “She might have meant she’d leave it by my garage, not hers. I just texted her, though, so now she’s going to freak thinking that somebody stole it from my driveway.”

#17 had called #10 to ask if she knew anything about it; #10 was present at the conversation about the lending; #10 concluded as I did, but neither of us knows, and she was a little surprised that if what we think transpired actually did, #22 doesn’t know for sure which house I live in. On the other hand, #22 may actually be #23; I can’t keep track of anybody’s house numbers. So there ya go. (ETA: Turns out, looking at the directory, that she’s in 21!)

So #10 calls #17 to tell her no, the washer wasn’t a gift from the Universe, despite #17 and her mother having discussed the day before where they might borrow or buy one. #10 leaves a message because #17 isn’t home.

Not long after, #17’s son is dispatched to bring the washer down to me. #10 calls a few minutes later to tell me he’s upstairs squeegeeing my driveway (which I haven’t gotten to yet today) and to holler up at him if I’d like him to bring it down the stairs.

So now it’s here, by the door.

Why is it that so often what should be a perfectly simple thing turns into the Circus Maximus?

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Mothers’ Day: Pandemic Mode

Obviously, with everyone sheltering in place and social distancing, we’re not all rushing off to Mom’s or Gran’s houses for the usual holiday activities. So Snaotheus called a local East Indian restaurant, Tandoori Bites, and had them deliver food for me.

Enough food to feed at least three people for a week.

Garlic naan, chili garlic naan, vegetable biryani (with more vegetables and spices in than I’m used to seeing–delicious), cardamom rice, raita with boondi (tiny chickpea-flour balls), and tamarind chutney
Lamb vindaloo (yuuummmmm) and chicken goa (yuuuuummmm)
And rose kulfi (ice cream)

I’m in a food coma. Seriously, I can put what’s left in the freezer and eat Indian (my absolute favorite food) twice a week for at least two or three weeks. Totally fantastic. Thank you again, Snaotheus!

And for those of you who are the mothers of my grandchildren (or just mothers, or incidental mothers, or mothers by love and incidental guidance), a jumbled and garish happy-day wish from me (and Mother Nature, who’s as garish as they come)!

Educational content: Clockwise from top left, lilacs, Dicentra (bleeding heart) (thank you, Mhaire!), strawberries, violets, blueberries, and more Dicentra. End educational content. Go enjoy the sunshine!

I was also treated via Chilkat to a video tour of the new playfort in the back yard, which is getting trim and some more paint today. The inside has several colors, each different between the studs, and looks like a fabulous place for littles to hang out. The weather is presently perfect for doing so, too–sunny, warm, just lovely. Snaotheus and KrisDi have done a splendid job on it!

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