Category: Yard Stuff


My new job is going really really well. I’ve been there for almost exactly a month. Maybe a month and two days if I remember correctly. I’m very overqualified so I have a lot of time on my hands. I’m treating this position like the character Andy Sachs in The Devil Wears Prada. My boss is slightly similar to Miranda Priestly, in that she gives you very little time to get a project done, and she has very high expectations but doesn’t give you much in the way of instructions. My shift supervisor struggles with that a lot and she and my manager often bump heads because of it. So far I’ve handled everything thats been thrown at me pretty much flawlessly, and I’ve also done a few smaller projects that my manager doesn’t know about. I just recently finished compiling all of the files for a store manual, since our store was the only one that had a copy of it and it was extremely outdated. It was handed off to my manager for review yesterday so we’ll see what she has to say!

in other news, we almost put Sam down last week. His health has seriously declined over the last two years and he’s had this awful tumor growing on the back of his neck. He regularly scratched at it to the point that it would start bleeding profusely. I came home at least 5 different times to a small pool of blood on the floor, with drips of it throughout the house. My mom has been refusing to take him into the vet on the grounds that she can’t afford to take care of him, which has infuriated me to no end. Finally I told her I was taking him in with or without her, with the intention of putting him down. She came with and the vet said he was actually just in a lot of pain from arthritis and his tumor was infected. They told us years ago that it was benign and we didn’t need to worry about it, so we never had it removed.

We took home a weeks worth of pain meds and antibiotics to try out, and if we didn’t see his health or mood improving we would put him down. He recovered very quickly and the vet advised I give him a bath. I did but it irritated his infection and he scratched it open more than he’s ever done before. So I decided enough was enough and I took him in to have it removed myself, since my mom refused to do anything about it. He had the operation done yesterday and has a very large cut on the back of his neck to show for it. Believe it or not it actually looks better than the tumor. He’s been very subdued because of the pain meds he’s on, but he’s definitely getting his personality back and I expect he’ll be much happier once he’s healed up. We have to keep a T shirt on him until the wound has healed so he doesn’t scratch it open, and so far he hasn’t touched it. He hasn’t eaten today but he did drink some water this morning.

All of our dogs were actually due for checkups, so I took all four in at once the day before Sam’s surgery. Everyone needed their shots updated and we also got flea meds and some chew sticks to help fight plaque. It’s been an unbelievably expensive couple of days, but everyone will be happier and healthier, so it was worth it.

And since I’ve been so responsible with all of the dogs I felt I deserved a treat, so I went out and bought 72 stepping stones to make a pathway from our patio to the staircase in the garden. I’m still about 15 bricks short, but I have to wait until I deposit my paycheck until I go buy those. Even though its not finished it has made a dramatic improvement to the yard. It cuts the lawn almost completely in half and covers the most damaged part of it, so it makes the lawn look healthier than it is. We’ve been talking about putting in a pathway for years but my mom has never “had the funding for it”. She regularly uses that as an excuse to not do things, since so far this project has only cost me $87.51, and we spend twice that on eating out every month. Once all the bricks are down I think the total cost will be right around $120.

My mom and I have continued to grow more and more distant over the last year. I have a really hard time talking with her because she says no to almost every idea I have. I think of her more as a roommate than as a mom at this point. I don’t trust her to make good decisions so I don’t go to her for advice on anything, and I haven’t talked to her about how I feel about anything since I was probably a child. I’m really mad at her for how she’s handled Sam’s health. Every time my sister and I brought it up my mom automatically made it about her and how she didn’t want us to deal with her in her old age the way we were trying to deal with Sam.

This whole Sam thing has been very stressful for me though, and she hasn’t really seemed to realize that. I would rather have put him down than have had him suffer through like he was doing before we took him to the vet. He will be on the equivalent of ibuprofen for the rest of his life to combat his arthritis, but I suppose that’s fine. He does seem happier, and I had forgotten what he was like when he was playful.

I’ve grown really close to two of my coworkers from Starbucks, but I still feel very isolated and alone. I’m at this really annoying stage where I make enough money that I don’t need anything from my mom, but I don’t make enough money to move out and be entirely independent. I’m hoping a newer, better position comes up in the company I’m working for and that I can hire into it quickly. I’m technically supposed to stay there for a year but if something better comes up then I’m not sticking around.

Anyway, I really have to get going. I start work in an hour and I have to run to the bank. Thanks for reading!

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

The summer has been going really well so far. I love interning at the garden. Sid and I have become good friends, and I love getting to talk to all sorts of new people on a daily basis. My social anxiety doesn’t seem to effect me very much when I’m working, which is a blessing. Saturdays I’m in the garden from 8-2, and I talk to well over a hundred people during that time. Falaah, the garden coordinator (and the only person paid to be there), lets me bring my beekeeping stuff on saturdays and have my own table to talk to people. I explain the inner workings of the hive to anyone who’s interested, and try to encourage people to plant more flowers for pollinators. I showed off for some kids once and pet a bumblebee, since their mom told me that their dad has been teaching the kids that all insects are bad, and sprays them with pesticide while they’re on his plants regularly. They liked the bumblebee demonstration a lot, and apparently have asked to come and see me specifically more than once.

Right now we’re doing a summer camp for kids ages 3-5 on Wednesday mornings. I’m in charge of the “Nature Play” area, and have the kids play in a teepee we made using bamboo sticks and tarp. They get to play with pine cones and dig in the dirt to find millepedes, ants and worms. Yesterday we also had a group of 25 kids ages 5-10 after the summer camp. It was fun but exhausting. Sid and I stayed for the normal 5-8 volunteer session as well, so he and I worked 11 hours yesterday. It was draining but fun. During the normal work party time he and I collected branches from the woods behind the barn and all but finished the hugelkultur we’re trying to make. Its basically wood that’s half buried under the ground, and then greens and compost are mounded on top of that to make a raised bed about 5 feet tall. See here for a full explanation of a hugelkultur: http://www.richsoil.com/hugelkultur/

I’m currently exhausted from yesterday’s long hours, so I’m spending today on my back patio enjoying the bees. We have a patch of succulents that has been covered in bumblebees for the last week. There’s more of them this year than there’s ever been I think, which I’m excited about. I’ve taken some borage from Pickering Barn, which is a big pollinator attractor. Hopefully next year we’ll have lots of it, because with this many bees around I feel responsible feeding them. My mom and I have already argued about the clover in the front lawn at least a dozen times this year, haha.

Apparently I have reached my teenager phase of consistently coming home after midnight.

My whole family decided to work at my aunts today because she needed help painting her house/ getting yard work done. We didn’t get home until 8:22 (I remember this specifically because my mom commented on the sun setting earlier [it used to set at 8:30, and yes, we do notice those 8 minutes of light at my house]), so I would say I worked for at least 6 hours today. Because it was a family day though I’m not charging my aunt at all. I also wasn’t working at top speed because of my hike yesterday, and took several long breaks. And now that I’ve told you all of this I’ve forgotten how it related to the premise of this post…

Anyway, J has been planning to come over and potentially spend the night at my house because my neighbor/her roommate has a guy over for the evening and J didn’t want to have to listen to THAT all night. It took a little bit of time to get us talking because of our different schedules, but we finally just agreed to go out to Shari’s, which is normally where M and I hang out. I ended up sitting on M’s side of the table even, and had to text her immediately because we’re such an old married couple that we each have our own side of the table. I texted her “I feel like I’m sleeping on the wrong side of the bed right now!”. J and I spent a good two hours talking I’d say, and then we came home and spent another 45 min talking in my car. We even fogged up the windows with how much we were talking and laughing, which my neighbor F would’ve loved to have seen.

It was just nice to go out and have fun and not care about anything and have lengthy discussions about our life dreams or even our ideal guy. It was all just random topics that really made for an excellent conversation on the whole. I think J has definitely become one of my favorite people/friends in the last few weeks. I hope she doesn’t move out too soon. She lost her nannying job which might keep her around for a bit longer, simply because she couldn’t afford to move anywhere else (and i know rent is CHEAP where she’s currently living. If that’s all rent cost elsewhere, I could easily move out. And I do really want to move out. I think M and J and I all living together in the city would be great fun. The trouble is we would all have such fun together that we wouldn’t hardly ever go out I don’t think. Except to say that we’re all at the point in our lives where we really want to be out doing exciting things and meeting new people. We should all just take a cooking class or something random but beneficial and interesting that would be lost of fun together. I’d love to take a cooking class, as i’m currently not the best chef.

Anyway, I need to be done now, because I’ve been typing the last two paragraphs while lying in bed with my head down and eyes shut. I’m really tired. M and J and I are all going hiking tomorrow. It’ll be a hot mess and a blast. I’m really looking forward to it. All this physical activity has been really beneficial.

After coming home and taking care of the bees (see my other blog for details on that), I got to sit and watch my yard for a bit. The air was full of bees over half of my yard. They were coming and going from all three colonies, and dozens of confused, lost girls floated around from tree to bin in search of the swarm I’d captured. This made lunch very easy for the 4 dragonflies my yard has acquired. We have 2 blue brown ones, the state-dragonfly which is a lovely iridescent green color, and a bright red one. I love the red one. I got to watch the red one pop up from its perch and snag a bee to eat every so often, but it was the state-dragonfly that was the most fascinating. It’s so big! I didn’t realize it was such a large dragonfly. It was probably only 4 inches long, but that’s still one big bug. It landed on one of our camellias and enjoyed a tasty honeybee. I really do not mind if they eat their fill. I have more bees than I know what to do with currently, and watching the dragonflies dash around the yard is great fun. Everyone has to eat something!

I really just wanted to post about that. Oh! And the thunder and lightning storm we had last night! I was lying in bed trying to fall asleep when a bright flash of light lit up my window. I didn’t think anything of it, but it happened repeatedly so I got up to look and saw a bright flash of lightning. I got dressed and went outside to watch for the next hour, despite it being 12:30 in the morning. I got a few pictures with my phone, but I’ll spare you the little blips of light and show you my best one.

This was the kind of storm that light up the entire sky with forked lightning and thunder that rolled on for minutes. It was great! I wish we had storms like this more often; they’re such a rarity in the northwest, despite the incessant rain. To quote Sleepless In Seattle, “it rains 9 months out of the year in Seattle!”.

Anyway, after watching the weather for a good portion of an hour it started raining and the majority of the lighting had moved down over puget sound. So I went back to bed. It was great fun though!