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This year, with the bees gone, I decided to go all out in my garden. When I had them it was hard to properly weed because it was never completely safe for me to weed certain areas. Now I only have a couple of problem areas that are easily manageable once I’ve got nothing else to do. So, with  that said, I’ve decided to make a list of all the projects I’m currently working on. And post pictures.

  • Weed and wood chip the garden
    • Weeding 90% finished. Wood chips should be delivered this weekend.
  • Finish garden path
    • Now that the grass beneath it has finally died, I can dig down easily enough and make it level/not wobbly.
  • Install raised beds. This is tied with two other projects, so it looks really chaotic at the moment.
    • I’ve been talking about doing this for a couple of years and now that I’m making a decent amount of money I’ve got my own funds and can actually do it! I’m installing 5 cedar beds, 12″ deep, with room to add another 6″ on later. I’ve got all the lumber cut and just need a dry day to screw everything together!
    • This project also involves killing off the lawn and hauling in wood chips. I’ve hauled in three car fulls of free burlap sacks to make a nice barrier , and wood chips are on the way!
  • Haul in compost
    • After the beds are built I need to haul in compost to fill them. This isn’t something I’m technically working on at the moment, but I’m working toward it, so it kind of counts? I also have to put compost on all of my existing raised beds, which is why this gets its own bullet.
    • After that I just have the task of filling the beds with plants!
  • Rainwater Irrigation system.
    • I bought six 55 gallon drums from a guy who lives up the road from me, and have attached all of them together with PVC pipe. I also dug up part of the old sprinkler system and cannibalized it. Pipes now run all over the garden, one for the end of each of the 5 beds.
    • Once the garden beds are full of compost I can properly finish the system and attach drip hoses to the ends of the pipes.
    • The only thing left to do to this project right now is attach a battery powered marine pump that will keep the line pressurized. Since the beds will be watered with drip irrigation, I don’t need a very strong pump.
  • Lay brick.
    • In order to install the rain barrels on my side yard, I had to rip up all of the brick I had put over there. I never bothered to make it level, cause I didn’t see the point at the time. Plus dirt moves on its own anyway, so having it level a couple of years ago wouldn’t have mattered much now. Anyway, I have about 40 sq feet worth of chimney bricks piled up in the lawn that now need to go back on the side of the house to keep the weeds down.
    • Thank fully this ground is already leveled, so the hard part is done!

And now for a photo album!


I may have mentioned on here a couple of times how much I hated my job, and specifically my manager. She’s literally the worst manager I’ve ever had. She was stealing from the company, never came to work, didn’t cover breaks, and flat out lied to all of the staff on numerous occasions. I was honestly days away from quitting. I was going to call the anonymous phone line companies have to alert them to serious issues on Tuesday. But on Monday I got a wonderful call from my new manager. She was my managers manager, but my manager was let go on Monday. Not only that, I was promoted to the Lead position for another store. AND I was given a raise. A 21% raise actually.

Today was my first day as a Lead. I almost made someone cry. It was our first day properly working together and I told her that this store is the “dirty store” of the company and we really need to work on cleaning it up, because that’s been the number one complaint from upper management. The store is honestly filthy. The floor is never swept, there’s dust on all of the shelves, and the back room has food crumbs all over the floor and desks. She said she didn’t think she needed to clean because she has to clean when she gets home and that’s not what she’s paid to do here. I was like???? cleaning the store on a day to day basis is literally in your job description??? I apologized for phrasing things so terribly and we agreed to work on things.

The store is honestly a train wreck though. Neither of the sales associates were trained properly, and both of them have been there longer than me. I was truly amazed at what all I had to train this girl on today. She has no initiative to learn things for herself and never bothered to ask for any kind of anything. I was in repair-mode from the second I walked in the door. Thankfully I’m meeting with my new manager tomorrow and I can address all of this with her.

Anyway, as negative as this post has been I’m actually really really excited to start work over in this store because I’m going to have so much free time to work on projects. And the pay is fantastic. $16 an hour! A whole dollar above living wage! I’ll actually be able to survive!


Catching Up

It’s been so long since I wrote anything! My laptop died on me so I’ve been waiting to get a new one. It just came in the mail today, and I’m very excited!

Since starting my retail job I’ve become even more removed from nature and gardening and all that. I’m not sure how, given its more in line with what I enjoy, but there you have it. I may even be up for a promotion soon. A new spot just opened up (there’s a ridiculous amount of drama around it), and my managers boss personally reached out to let me know it was available. When I find the time I’ll apply. I’m hoping I’ll get off early tomorrow and I’ll have time for it.

I’ve been working crazy hours lately. Last week was the longest yet, at 53. It’s almost ok because I get paid well, but it’s definitely starting to effect my dogs. I’m just never home, and between that and the constant rain, they aren’t getting much play time. Thankfully I’ve been given 4 days off in a row this week. I went for a hike with them today, and a walk when I got home from the hike.

I also met with two contractors for ductless heat pumps in the house today. We’ve been without a working furnace in this house since the year after we moved in. The ductless heat pumps are a much cheaper option and will also be cheaper to operate. The only draw back is that you have a decent sized piece of machinery mounted up on your wall. My mom is really opposed to the idea, but it’s 2/3 the cost of a furnace, provides AC, and will cut our energy bill by 3/4. Plus, I’m paying for all of it, so I’m not really sure she has a choice :p

In other news, I’ve found my soulmate! Her name is Sam, I’m sure I’ve mentioned her before. We have the exact same personality, except that she has no inhibitions. I’ve actually cried a couple of times because she’s said something that’s exactly what I would say. She just left for Arizona so I don’t get to see her much, but she’s amazing. Definitely a lifelong friend. It’s weird how we connected so quickly. And it was totally a mutual thing. No questions asked, no judgements, we’re just totally great friends.

Oh and my sister decided she should adopt a kitten. With leukemia. Cause 4 dogs weren’t enough. His name is Louie. He sleeps with me now. lol

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!

New Jobs And Garden Growth

I know its been a while so I’ll try to keep all my updates relatively short.

Firstly! I got a second job!. This one is at a recycling company, and its a retail position. The company has made three store fronts where you can buy products made with recycled materials, or products that are designed to have extended lives and which can be recycled. Customers can also bring in things like old computers, styrofoam, and batteries for recycling. It’s a very reduced pace from starbucks, and once I know what I’m doing (today will be my 6th day at work), I think I will be fine. They gave me keys to the place on my 1st day, and on my 4th day they had me open and close the store by myself. Stressful, to say the least. I love the woman that I work with (she’s actually the mom of a girl I was friends with in college), but she’s extremely scatter brained so my training has been greatly spread out and reduced. I honestly don’t know how to do anything; I can’t believe they left me completely alone in the store on Monday.

In other news my starbucks career is slowly coming to a close. I’ve decided to work there 2 days a week, just to get my work week up to 30 hours. My new job pays 13.25, essentially 30% more than the 10.04 I make at starbucks. As of right now I’m not quitting starbucks but that’s mostly because I’m not sure if my new job could give me more hours. The woman I work with closely at my new job says that there are definitely more hours available for me, but I haven’t heard anything from my manager yet. I would rather work a 9 hour day at my new job, than a 4 hour day at starbucks. I plan on essentially using my starbucks pay to survive on every month, and then everything else I make will go straight into savings.

I dog sat for a friend last weekend and she lives on a large piece of property only 11 minutes away. It would be absolutely perfect for building a tiny house on, so I asked her about it. Her husband is thinking about it, but so far it sounds like he’s leaning towards yes. Building could begin as soon as next year, so I need to come up with about $10,000 before next spring. He thinks I will be able to get it completely closed in and moveable by the end of the summer, at which point I would need to move it off their property. They’re going to be building a second house to rent out, so the coming and goings of materials and the loud noise of power tools will blend right in. I will have to call the city to ask if it’s really going to be ok, but I don’t think it should be a problem.

Also! This summer was the summer of projects. So far I have completely set up the sprinkler system for my garden, so everything has been getting watered this summer. I cut the pieces for 4 bat houses and am waiting for my mom to paint them. I want a fun design on all of them, but I should’ve known better than to ask her to do something like that. I haven’t seen her finish a project like that in 15 years. If she takes too much longer I think I will just paint them all black myself and put them up. I also have done a lot of hive part construction this year, making 4 hive bodies with windows and half frames for 4 warre boxes. Oh, and I made 3 internal hive feeders! I forgot about those. My last project (probably) of the summer is a pathway connecting the patio to the stairway into the garden. Essentially what I’m going to do is build a picture frame out of some pieces of 2x4s and then lay it on the ground and pour concrete in it. The stepping stones made will look like pictures in a frame, and the empty spaces left by the 2x4s will be filled with compost and planted with some sort of creeping ground cover. It should help reduce the amount of dirt the dogs bring into the house, and make using a wheel barrow easier.

Next year I plan on being the year of the tree. I want to bring in at least 4 fruit trees (apple and plum for sure, and I haven’t decided on anything else). I also want at least 3 native trees for wildlife. I haven’t quite decided on those, but I want at least one of them to be an Oak tree. I went to the pickering barn (the place I interned two years ago) on Monday on my lunch break (my second job is just minutes away) and I’d forgotten how much I really love having trees around me all the time. I never seem to truly remember until I’m somewhere where the sky is all but completely blocked out by trees. I’m also planning on ripping up about a third of my lawn and making it raised beds. I’ve spent a few hours researching all of the plants I want to grow next year and I won’t have room for all of them in my current garden. There’s no reason not to grow them when I have the space and infrastructure for it. That said, I won’t add any more raised beds if my friends do end up letting my build the tiny house. I won’t have any extra funding for projects other than the tiny house.

I’m sure I’m forgetting a few things here, but this post is already too long so its probably for the best. Until next time!

I’ve been meaning to post for over a week now but haven’t seem to have had the time to get around to it. So I’ll just do a little summary post instead.

The pond is doing well and the little floating trip-leaved things that came in with the cattails have reproduced prolifically. The cattails have increased in number from 3 to 7, and an 8th shoot is trying to grow down into the bottom of the pond. I haven’t decided if i want to move it to the other side of the pond or get rid of it entirely. The water is staying very clear, and there is almost no algae at all. I have a feeling that that would change if I put fish in the pond but I haven’t quite decided about those yet. A PNW tree frog showed up a few weeks ago and stuck around for a couple days, though I haven’t seen them since then. It got up into the 90s so I don’t know if they’ve been really good about staying tucked away and only come out at night, or if they’ve moved on to a better garden.

I built 5 bird houses using a new table saw I bought. I was tired of not owning any power tools beyond a drill, and it was the only saw my neighbor didn’t own, so I bought one. It’ll come in very handy when i build a tiny house I think. The bird houses are all very plain, but they have a floating floor that you just push up and twist to remove so you can clean the house out. They’re designed for chickadees and another bird of the same size i can’t remember the name of right now. The chickadees usually get to the houses first, but they tend not to raise young in the same house twice, so if you put several houses in your garden then you’re likely to get both species.

I went to a tiny house convention in Portland this weekend! It was extremely tedious and long, but I got to meet some other tiny house minded people, and that was really nice. I stayed in the hotel the convention was being hosted in because I didn’t want to deal with the drama of staying with family and because they lived 20 minutes away from the hotel. The convention didn’t teach me much of things I didn’t already know, it just gave a couple little hints that I hadn’t thought of before. Overall I don’t think I would go again, simply because it cost so much. $450 for the hotel and $280 for the tickets. Plus $30 in gas, and $50 for food. So… about $810 for the weekend? or basically a months wages for me. On the bright side I got to see a couple of tiny houses up close! They are definitely smaller than what I had originally thought, but if anything that makes me want them more. We saw a house that was 18ft long and it was super cute. The owner didn’t build out over the wheel wells so the house was narrower than most, but it fit 8 people in it at a time comfortably. it had 10 in it at one point, because a couple of people climbed up into the loft.

The woman sitting next to me at the convention just happened to be house sitting for the woman who built The Lucky Penny, which is a famous tiny house in Portland and one I really like. The house has an arched roof and a skylight that runs about a third of its length. It also has a fold down porch that covers the tongue of the trailer, which is really interesting to me. I think i’ll do something like it with my tiny house. The Lucky Penny is entirely copper themed, and doesn’t have a loft. The bed is on the back wall (the door is right over the tongue) so its the first thing you see when you walk in. Its normally folded in half, and then when you want to use the full thing you slide the slats underneath it out over the kitchen counter and a support beam on the opposite wall and fold the bed out into a queen sized bed. Despite this house being wider than the one we viewed as a class it was much more claustrophobic because the kitchen counter took up so much space. Across from that was a Japanese staircase dresser, which led up to a storage loft that the cat slept in. The entry way of the house had the shower in it (behind the door if the door was open) and a regular dresser for the owners clothes. The bottom of the dresser also hid the cat’s litter box, which you couldn’t smell at all.

The Lucky Penny is a part of a tiny house community, and one of the other owners was gracious enough to allow us to see inside her house. I’m not sure how long the house was but it was definitely my favorite house of the three. It had a spacious loft and a huge great room, and 7 of us fit in without any problem. The woman who built it was a quirky witch who had artwork everywhere. She wasn’t too happy showing us the house because she was kind of ambushed by it, so she didn’t give us the full tour, but I liked her instantly. She had a poster of Appa from Avatar the last Airbender hanging in the middle of the wall and that was the first thing I noticed, haha. Her doors were made out of the long windows you see on the either side of large doors, and she combined them to make very small french doors. Extremely cute. The house had fancy throw rugs and a full fridge, and a small shelving ladder to get into the loft. Three skylights and two windows, which she advised us to only place on the north side of the house. Super cute! If she had been in a better mood, and not busy making jelly from the plum tree that grew over her house, I would’ve loved to talk to her. I left her alone because she didn’t seem like she wanted to be bothered too much.

All in All it was a good weekend and I definitely made at least one new friend. Today is Monday and I’ve got a phone interview in nine minutes so I really should stop blogging. After that I have to run to Kent to pick up the bee boxes my aunt finally finished, and then I need to check on the hives there before rushing home to shower and head to work at 3:30. This week is going to be insanely busy for me. My boss scheduled me incorrectly so I only get one day off (this is the second time she’s done this to me) and I work close to 40 hours which I’m not happy about. I also have some guys coming to blow insulation into the house on Wednesday which makes it my longest day of the week. I work 3:30am to 8am (yes, 3:30 in the morning; we’ve decided to open an hour earlier) and then have to be home by 9 to spend 6+ hours supervising the insulation process.

Did I mention we caught a flemish giant rabbit that was on the loose on Friday? My sister has decided to adopt it. Its grey and as big as my smallest dog. Absolutely ridiculous.

Anyway, I have to run!