Wednesday, May 8, 2013

In which we consider ways in which we are willing to expend effort in yardwork, and ways in which we are not.

Happy Birthday to my wonderful mother-in-law, Elizabeth Claire!

Liam's Grandpa Jack is recovering very nicely from his heart surgery (a scheduled surgery, not an emergency procedure). He's up on his feet, and was cooking at the stove with no hesitation, shooing people away when they hovered and offered to help.

Yardwork is consuming all of our free time these days. We're anxious not to let our home become that house on the block where it looks like the owner has given up. You all know that house, the one where colored bottles and figurines and "collectibles" fill every window, where cheap statuary has filled the property, where dandelions compete with tall crab grass among the dust. The neighborhood children avoid it because of the neglected vibe it gives off, and the adults find their eyes sliding past it in embarrassment. We're not looking to be the best landscaped house on the street, but looking like we care, like we're trying even though we have no idea what we're doing, that would be nice. But we also have very little interest in maintaining a picture perfect grassy lawn, considering all of the effort that it requires compared to the reward. To that end, we're carefully considering every landscaping decision in order to achieve a property that pretty much takes care of itself.
The look that we're not going for.
Frustrated with our current lawn, which is patchy and scrubby with large areas of brown, we've decided to seed down microclover among the grass to fill in the gaps. Clover will provide lush green coverage (for appearances) and provides the environmental advantages of fixing the nitrogen levels in the soil, requiring less water, and shading the soil to keep nutrients and moisture from bleaching out in the sun. Perhaps best of all, it requires less mowing than grass.
I started raking up the dead grass and spring detritus in preparation of putting down lime and the clover seed. I've never done that before. I've always considered it a waste of effort. I'm shocked at how much nicer a lawn looks without all of the dead grass laying around! "Why," I said, "it looks so nice now! Now I see why people put in the effort of raking it up in the spring!" Pulling weeds up is easier too, now that I don't have to fight a mat of dead vegetation. Apparently it cuts down on ticks, too, which like to hide in leaf litter and dead grass.

(I got my first tick bite this weekend. I had just mentioned to Liam that morning how I had never had a tick on me before, and how bugs seem to leave me alone more than other people (which is fortunate as chemical insect repellents applied to my skin always leave me feeling ill). During our regular after-yardwork tick check I looked down to see one on my stomach. All logical reason left my brain and I started flailing at it and shrieking. Liam came to my rescue with rubbing alcohol to drown it and tweezers to carefully remove it, stopping me from ripping it out of my skin and possibly leaving part of its jaw on my body. Gross. New Hampshire has one of the highest rates of Lyme Disease in the country, which has me looking for natural tick repellents. I've started wearing geranium oil when I'm out in the yard, but I can't tell if it's working as I don't have a high rate of past tick passengers to compare it to.)

While I spent the weekend getting a sunburn out in the yard, Liam hiked Mt. Rattlesnake with Rob and the dog, pulled out all of our patio furniture from the shed and attic, and built a screen for our front storm-door. Why did I think that replacing screens was difficult, or something specialists did?! Two sets of hands make it easier, but actually inserting new screen into the screen frame took less than five minutes (building the frame to fit right into the door took much longer). It made us pause and look around at all of the small tears and gaps in our window screens, considering the possibilities.
Nashua is six months old, 48 pounds, and a terror embracing his rebellious "teenage" phase by gleefully disobeying all of the commands he followed two weeks ago. He likes to disobey until I've had enough and sentence him to a timeout in his kennel, whereupon he'll immediately lay down where he is and look innocent. "Me? Kennel? Oh, no, kennels are for sleeping and Bad Dogs. Look at what a Good Dog I am! I'm just laying here, chewing on a bone, not... doing... anything..." This is a blatant lie, and because I can't back down without becoming a doggie pushover (which leads to more disobedience once he's learned that he can get away with it), this usually turns into me picking him up under his armpits (legpits?) and hauling him into the crate as he resists and howls about how he CAN'T GO BACK TO JAIL! His new favorite outdoor toy is the garden hose, both because it dispenses the Magic Water of Fun, and because he enjoys watching us try to catch him before we think to stomp of the hose and restrict his movements. When we fill his kiddie pool with one inch of water he spends all of his time "digging" in it, splashing water everywhere. When we fill his kiddie pool with six inches of water he growls and bucks and stomps and plunges like a crazed dolphin, splashing water three feet high as he tries to bite it.

A running count of weeds pulled so far this spring: 6549

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