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I’ve almost finished my rain garden! Tuesday and Wednesday were days I had off, so I spent all of Tuesday hauling compost. I brought in 3 pickup trucks full that day (I borrowed my uncles truck), which means a total of 4 have been brought into my garden. Everyone assures me that there’s no way the pickup truck is a full yard, but I had the office woman at the compost facility come out and look at it and she assured me it was. Anyway! Here are some pictures of the rain garden so far!

I really really like it! And it’s actually been really cheap so far. Here’s a little list to give an idea of what this project involved.

Plants: $5. I only bought one plant for this garden specifically, almost everything else was relocated from around my garden. Some plants (a couple of red flowering currants, a sedge and a bunching grass, some sea holly, and a plant called serasiformis) were collected from/donated by the garden where I intern. 

Compost: 3 yards. Cost: $90.

Rocks: Large rocks were donated by my grandpa and transported by my cousins. All small rocks were collected from the excavation site.

Decorative branches: donated by my aunt

Use of uncles truck: $73 in gas (I didn’t use that much gas to haul compost, but that’s what it cost to fill his tank since it was almost empty when I got it). $5 carwash.

Time: honestly I haven’t been keeping track of the hours very much simply because I was working on this every spare minute that I had. I would guess that I spent probably 100 hours on this so far. Digging up the lawn took several days, and getting the dirt out took a couple of weeks. I spent all of tuesday working on it, and several hours on wednesday.

Total cost? $173. 100 hours of work.

All that I have left to do is cover the raised edges with wood chips and fill in the shallow area with the pebbles I collected from the excavation. I was reading through my rain garden book and it said that rain garden soil has sand in it, so I might mix in a little bit of the old dirt that I have still. It’ll help get rid of it and improve drainage. I think I missed that page on my first read through, haha.

Oh, and here’s a list of the plants I used, incase you’re interested.

Mock orange, lady fern, red osier dogwood, red flowering currant, several varieties of sedges, a bunching variety of grass I don’t know the name of, oregon iris, costal strawberries, common camas, salal, hardy fuscia, sea holly, and a small flowering bulb I believe is called morning star.

The majority of these plants are native and will provide food and shelter for dozens of species of birds and insects. I’m hoping the increased shady “wetland” will also encourage frogs. I don’t really expect to see those until I get a pond set up, but that’s a different project that might have to wait for a year or two. 

I’ll post more pictures once the project is completely finished!

Oh and here’s a picture of Buttercup impatiently waiting for me to finish my breakfast this morning.

That picture also shows our newly refurbished couch! The darker purple on the arm is the real color of the couch, with the lighter stuff just being some sheets we through on it to protect it while we get a real slip cover. My mom really likes the color purple. We currently have a purple house, a purple couch, purple drapes, and purple asparagus, purple brussels sprouts, and several variety of purple flowers growing in the garden. My mom also has purple nails at the moment, haha,

 

A Rain Garden!

After years of talking about it, I finally have started installing a rain garden! When it rains for any period of time at my house the water from the down spouts runs into my lawn and pools there for an hour or two. The dogs get muddy and the lawn erodes. Its gone down about an inch a year since we’ve moved in, and there’s almost no grass in certain spots because my dogs are constantly running on it. This rain garden is designed to help capture anywhere from 80-95% of the rain water coming off of my patio cover (1/3 of the rain water that’s been going into my lawn) and filter it/ slow it down so that it goes back into the earth instead of running out into the street. Rain gardens take native, water loving plants, and utilize their ability to grow in wet conditions to help reduce water run off and erosion. They tend to be around 100 sq feet, but can be larger or smaller depending on the area you’re working with. Generally the larger they are the better they’ll filter the water out.
Here are some pictures of what I did on the 4th of July yesterday!

I did most of the digging a week or two in advance, but the compost was hauled in yesterday because yesterday was the only day I had off/time to do it. I’ve only hauled in about 3/4 of a yard, but I’ll need another yard and a half before I’m finished. The trench that you see in the middle of the dirt is where water will pool/flow, and the raised edges allow the water level to raise up about 4 inches before it overflows into the lawn. There will be a larger ponding area in the wide side of the garden, and I’ll be hauling a 6 ft mock orange tree over from the other side of the yard. It will provide shade and its larger roots will help filter the water as it soaks deeper into the ground.
Other plants in the garden include several species of fern, iris, strawberries, sedges, bleeding hearts, common camas, lily of the valley, and either an oregon grape or a nine bark.
If you’re interested in learning more about rain gardens I highly advise you look into them! Here’s a link to a local project to increase the number of rain gardens in my watershed!

http://www.12000raingardens.org

Work has become the thing I live for recently. And I don’t mean that in a good way. Two weeks ago I worked a 50 hour week with no weekend, and I was close to a break down because I was so exhausted I couldn’t function. I work all week at starbucks and have to be on my feet and catering to crumby customers, and then on the weekends I get to waste my time at a booth and tell people which bin their ice cream cartons go in. I was so hopeful that my second job teaching people about composting and recycling was going to be fun, but its been a complete drag so far. Every event I’ve been to has been exceedingly slow and boring. I get paid a decent amount of money but sitting around doing nothing is definitely starting to drag on me. If I could at least bring a book it wouldn’t be so bad. And you know its bad if I’m saying I prefer working for less money at somewhere like starbucks than at a company I’ve been volunteering with for over a year and which pays half again as much as starbucks. Today was the first day I’ve had off in 2 weeks. Next week at Starbucks I get two day off, and I’m excited about that! My paycheck will be pathetic but I’m going to enjoy being able to sleep in so much I don’t think I’ll care. 

I’m going to school in the fall and its going to cost me (personally) $9,000 to do it. My mom and dad will be paying the rest of the $30,000 tuition. I also need another $9,000 for living expenses and car insurance for the next year. Where I’m going to come up with $18,000 I don’t know. The first $9,000 will be student loans I can pay back in 2016 once I’m done with school, so its not terrible but it does mean I’ll be in a bit of debt once I graduate. Let’s hope I find a high paying job quickly!

On top of finding money for school I also have yet to find housing. I don’t really want to live on campus because I want to bring one of my dogs with me. Housing is annoyingly expensive, and I don’t really have any idea where I’m going to live. The cheapest I’ve been able to find is $450 a month, which is cheaper than school but is still more than I’d like to pay. I don’t know what I’m going to do. And I only have 2 more months to figure it out. 

For whatever reason over the last few weeks my neighbors have become increasingly rude to me and my family. It started with issues surrounding the replacement of their lawn, and has gotten worse. A week or so ago they decided that having a few mushrooms and a bump or two in their lawn was too much, so they sprayed the entire thing with herbicide to kill it. Before they did this I asked them not to and explained that it was a terrible idea for many reasons. In the hopes that they would decide not to kill it I asked if I could have their lawn before it was sprayed. I hate lawns, but it was a perfectly healthy one and there was no reason to get rid of it. I was rudely told no and they sprayed their lawn anyway. They are going to rip it up and throw it out, and they will be bringing in lots of compost to level the ground and make it easier for grass to grow. I have no problem with the compost bit, I just don’t understand why it has to be ripped up. Anyway, that’s just where things start going south.

A few days ago I was out shoveling wood chips. I have gotten a lot of them moved in the last few weeks and have been working extremely hard to make this garden look great. Over the course of this year we had probably more than 12 yards of them delivered, and I’ve moved probably 10 of them out of the driveway. So, I was moving wood chips a few days ago, when my neighbors husband comes out and sees what I’m doing. He immediately asks if I have a special type of broom, which I don’t because I have no need for one. He then goes down to his garage and comes back to sweep my driveway, while I’m working. He doesn’t want any wood chips in his driveway and they all run down the street when it rains into his driveway and the driveway of the person who lives at the bottom of the hill. And by hill I mean maybe 50 feet of minimal incline. When all of these wood chips wash out they get in that persons driveway, and then they wash up into his garage, and he has to sweep his garage when that happens. First of all, I know that there are no wood chips that have gotten down that far because if you look down the street its completely clean. Second of all, this house at the bottom of the hill has problems every year because the water and leaves and everything run into his driveway. He came up to talk to me once to tell me that all of the water I was using to wash my car was getting in his driveway. And I wasn’t even washing my car, lol. It was the people two houses up. If your driveway floods that much, then you need to take it up with the city, not me. Anyway, because of this “major” issue my neighbor felt the need to clean up my driveway while I was making it messy.

And last but not least, the bumblebee issue. Several days ago my neighbors realized that bumblebees had moved into their birdhouse. They decided this was a very serious problem because the birdhouse is next to their clothing line, and they didn’t want the bed bothering them while they were hanging up the clothing. Even though they knew the bees wouldn’t sting them, and there had been no issue with the bees so far. They decided that killing them was the best option. They texted me first to ask if I wanted them, but said that if I couldn’t move them then they were going to spray them. I was beyond furious. Bumblebees are right at the brink of being on the endangered species list, and populations have been declining for years. These bees were by no means in the way, and they weren’t causing any harm. Be a decent human being and leave them alone. They won’t be there again come next year. As soon as I got home I quickly researched how to move a bumblebee nest. It seemed fairly simple, and come dusk I moved them into my garden while my neighbors were gone.

During this whole bumblebee thing my mom was becoming more and more agitated with me. She acted as though all of the problems with the neighbors were somehow my fault. As the evening progressed she became more agitated and decided that the only way to fix things was to get all of the wood chips out of the driveway. While I was moving the bumblebees she moved wood chips to the back yard and demanded that I help move them once I was done. This made me more annoyed because I worked a 7 hour day yesterday and I was sore and tired. I had no desire to do any kind of yard work, and was only doing the bumblebee thing because if I didn’t they would’ve been killed. My mom eventually asked me to haul wood chips up to the top of the stairs, and at that point I refused to do any more work. Hauling wood chips is really hard work, and hauling them up the equivalent of two flights of stairs is even harder. I told her that if she wanted the wood chips up there she was more than welcome to do it herself. This naturally meant that we were done hauling wood chips because I refused to do any heavy lifting. I think it was outrageous of my mom to ask me to do that after I had just worked the longest shift of my week. I appreciate that she works longer than I do, but she is sitting for 95% of that time, whereas I’m on my feet and mobile all day. I was sore and tired and my back hurt and I wanted to do nothing more than sit. Heavy lifting was the exact opposite of my plans for the evening.

In conclusion, my neighbors have decided to become excessively rude and per usual everything is my fault. It’s always so bizarre to me that this is the case, because I saved my mom literally more than $250 by getting these wood chips. Never mind the fact that the garden looks the best its ever looked. Never mind the fact that I have done 95% of the work to get it to look this way. Never mind the fact that I have come home from work and gone straight into the back yard to get it all done. I “could just be doing a little more”. Apparently having two jobs, an internship, and spending most of my free time gardening isn’t doing enough. She’s driving me crazy. I want to just build a big fence around my whole yard and put up a “do not disturb” sign on the gate. 

Outreach Training

Yesterday was my first day at my new job. I had training for 4 and a half hours, and was disappointed to find that I had nothing to learn. The instructor/my boss mentioned several times throughout the day that if anyone had any questions while they were out tabling they should ask me because I know a lot about it. It was nice to be recognized for my expertise in a setting like that.

We spent the day learning how to interact with the public and how to setup the table/booth. Because we’re representing King County we aren’t allowed to discuss politics or encourage people to vote for or against certain initiatives. I understand the reasoning behind that, but I still find it stupid. And I was also extremely irritated to find that all that I missed during the last training was recycling information. They didn’t talk about composting virtually at all. So even though everyone has been trained as “master composted-recyclers” no one actually knows anything about composting. Worm bins and hot compost bins were barely discussed. I actually handed out materials from the MRC east program that I had with me because all of the volunteers at the training were interested in composting, they just hadn’t been taught about it. Its absurd to me that you can call yourself the master of anything after only two days of training. I told everyone (as I was talking to them individually) that if they were really interested in composting and learning about how to do things on their own they should take the MRC east program because it’s an 8 week course and you actually learn things.

At the end of the day we had to go around the room and talk about something that we learned. I went first and I apologized because I genuinely hadn’t learned anything. I rambled for a second before I pretended like I remembered something I had actually learned that day. I guess its nice that I’m overqualified for this job, but its kind of a shame I won’t be learning much. At any rate I got paid to sit and do nothing for almost 5 hours on Saturday.

A Second Job

I got the job! I’m officially a Master Recycler Composter Outreach Educator. I called for the interview just after 11 today, but no one answered so I left a message. I got a call back within 10 minutes and we quickly began the interview process. She asked me three questions, I only remember two of them, and the entire conversation lasted literally 5 minutes. She wanted to know if I could work evenings and weekends, which I can, and she wanted to know if I had a car, which I do. I have to say, a five minute interview to be offered a job feels pretty good. The requirements for the position were well beyond the questions she asked of course, but those were the only two requirements that weren’t covered on my resume.

She let me know a few things at the end of the interview. The job would require me driving up to Bothell (its north of Seattle, and would require me to drive 30 minutes out of my way) whenever I had to go to an outreach event to pick up supplies. However, I would ‘clock in’ in Bothell, and they would cover my gas expenses starting from there. She also let me know that the training for this position has actually already started, and that I missed a training event last saturday. There are two more, one this coming saturday and one the saturday next week. I should be receiving an email from the coordinator explaining everything I need to do, and he’ll also let me know where I need to go for the training.

I’m really excited I get to be doing this! The position won’t start until June, but I’m perfectly alright with that. And it goes until the end of September, which is perfect since I’ll be leaving for school then!

 

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