Here’s what happened next….

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The lilacs grew! Slowly at first, and I was optimistic in thinking that I would smell my first luscious lilacs in 2013 — this spring (2015) is the first time they’ve bloomed. Totally worth the wait, especially knowing that they will hopefully bloom every year if I don’t screw up the pruning. I love that. I had two white lilacs about 2 seasons older, and they bloomed, but the blue variety did not. The bushes are all taller than me now (5’8″).

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Gorgeous,wonderful, relaxing day, yay!! To-do list progress!!

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To-do List: Not too shabby!.

Buy more mulch: Cocoa Bean Hulls for front walkway and beds; cedar mulch for backyard

Check. And found two opened/resealed bags at Lowes which are 25% off, yay! Finished mulching driveway strip:

Young lilacs along the fence..they will probably bloom next year. The stumps behind the second plant were an ancient lilac which my neighbor cut down to build his fence. They were his, anyway, but he bought me 3 young plants to make me feel better! Sweet.

 

Buy one more can of glossy Chinese red spray paint and finish painting the ugly white rusty metal 1950s freestanding cabinet from my basement

Sort of check. I did buy another can of spray paint, but as usual when I spray paint things, I found I still needed about 3 sprays when the can was empty. So Tuesday I will finish, but this is what I started with (I forgot to take a full “before” of the ugly cabinet, but here are the drawers; you’ll know exactly what it was like:And here’s after cleaning, scrubbing the rust, but not quite done. The top is the original white enamel, which I left alone, and I still have to replace the chrome handles and spray the black edges.

Buy compost and soil

 

Done. Love, love Lowes  brand of composted manure. I tend to go to Menards for amendments and soil. Menards composted manure blows — big time. I’m not a compost expert by any means, but the idea is that manure breaks down eventually into nice loose soil-y stuff that is golden for soil texture improvement, bringing nitrogen and [whatever else] along. Menards compost appears to me, and I’m not by any means a compost expert, to be like 3-day old steer manure.  It’s a big sticky conrete-y blob  that A. you can literally barely lift from your trunk B. you need an axe to break it apart, and even then, how a sticky hard blob of that could improve your soil is extremely hard to see; C. repeat A. and B. Lowes compost on the other hand? Loose and crumbly! Opening the bag was a highlight of my day. I’m excited to think I can improve my soil this summer. And it’s only $1.98 for a one CF bag!!! It’s called Lowes Own Composted Manure.

Choose paint color for exterior trim to match storm door color (Pella “Poplar White”)

Done. They had the color in their computer at Lowes! Bought a quart of self-priming Duramax to test.

 

 

 

Plant Clematis vine to cover ugly cyclone fence of neighbor
Yep! Yay. Grow fast, fence eater.

 

 

Mow Creeping Charlie lawn

I can’t even bear to discuss my “lawn.” But I did mow it.

 

 

De-thatch small side of front yard with rake; seed bare spots with Pennington sun or shade mix

I dethatched it, but don’t think it’s going to do much good. The grass in front competes with a huge Norway Maple, which even grizzled old professional gardeners admit is impossible. I will still overseed but didn’t get to it today.

Call around to find someone to de-thatch my back yard

Nope.

Get hair appointment!

Uh, nope. Plus I spent the hair money on garden supplies. Soon, though.

To Do List:

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It would probably be lots easier to write a “things I don’t need to” do list, but I may as well get this down on paper…

Tomorrow (my day off):

Buy more mulch: Cocoa Bean Hulls for front walkway and beds; cedar mulch for backyard

Buy one more can of glossy Chinese red spray paint and finish painting the ugly white rusty metal 1950s freestanding cabinet from my basement

Buy compost and soil

Choose paint color for exterior trim to match storm door color (Pella “Poplar White”)

Plant Clematis vine to cover ugly cyclone fence of neighbor

Mow Creeping Charlie lawn

De-thatch small side of front yard with rake; seed bare spots with Pennington sun or shade mix

Call around to find someone to de-thatch my back yard

Get hair appointment!

Order checks and new debit card!!!!!!!!!!

Clean house

 

The weird thing is he has been on a diet and yet…jeez.

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I think I now understand people who rock their entire yards or that thing where it’s green-painted concrete…

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Yesterday, I did basically nothing, except nap, read, watch Anne Lamott interviews online, and a little raking. Today, my last day off for 4 days, I had to make up for it. I sucked it up and decided to cut the awful-est part of the hedge down to about 3 feet. . I have to say that is a task I believe I would pay someone to do for me; that’s how just plain nasty it was — and I’m someone who is seriously considering re-roofing my own house.  It was awful. And I’m not even talking about how horrendous it now looks, as you can see here..Image

I left the new basal growths alone...

My arms are scratched to the shoulder and I have a glove tan. I filled up 17 waste bags and 3 recycling bins with the cuts!  The worst part is that It’s almost impossible to STOP CUTTING. You think, just that one dead-ish branch that makes it look shitty…then I’m done……..and before you know it you’ve got another huge pile of cuttings behind you because there’s no way that the whole thing doesn’t look shitty at this point, and finally you just have to stop cutting.    I then cleaned seemingly thousands more leaves from under the newly chopped section, spread some compost and about 13 buckets of a weak solution of Miracle Gro, and called it quits. On site for most of the afternoon was frickin’ Public Enemy #1:

Probably just trying to make sure I left enough for his meals for the next 120 years.

Along the way, I emptied some shredded cedar mulch on the bed paralell to my driveway…I always underestimate how much mulch I’ll need….and decided that I really love tulips…I’d forgotten how long they stay around, and it’s awesome to have them to brighten up the place when nothing much else is happening, like above, in front of the house, and here,  in a planting strip between my driveway and my neighbor’s nice new fence — you can see where I ran out of mulch…

Finally, I dug a big hole in the very rear of my yard for a Clematis vine which I bought at a rummage sale last summer, didn’t get around to planting, and which miraculously not only survived winter in Illinois in a plastic container on my deck, there are lots of new shoots! This is a key planting, due to the cyclone fence my neighbors behind me erected when they built an above ground pool which they never use. Remember on Scrubs when for years, characters would occasionally refer to something that happened at “Laverne’s above-ground pool party”? God that show was great!  So perhaps next Friday, my next day off, I will plant the Clematis. I have never had one before. All I know is that it is pink, because the lady whose cutting it was told me so when I bought it for $2.00. Hoping it will spread quickly and widely, because I seriously dislike cyclone fences.

Oh yeah, and I went over and sniffed the now-blooming “Bridal Promises” white lilac I planted last year about 100 times. It’s just a baby, but I love lilacs — no lilacs in California because it doesn’t get cold enough — can’t wait until it’s big. I also have three baby lilacs lining the driveway which my neighbors gave me, but they’re too young to bloom yet.

Lilac “Bridal Memories” — lovely chicken wire is because — you guessed it. Bastards!

Confessions

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So I have to be honest and admit that contrary to the common advice to “renovate one room at a time,” I’ve torn apart several rooms/areas in my house.Let’s just say I’ve been brushing my teeth in the kitchen sink for many weeks months,, because last fall summer in a spurt of demolition craziness, I tore my bathroom down to studs, ripped out the bathtub and vanity. While ripping away at the wallpaper hell that is the kitchen. While working on the yard every sunny day because nothing makes me happier than working in my yard on a sunny day.  Anyway,while I was focusing on the bathroom, I bought a lovely and beautifully solid Kohler Villager cast iron bathtub and had it installed by a guy I found on ServiceMagic (mistake! mistake!), and had some minor electrical work done…outlets moved, holes cut for recessed lights over the shower. Then I started thinking how I wanted to carve a cabinet into the bathroom wall where it abuts the hall linen cupboard but got stuck on that project b/c I have no clue how to do that, and then did a 180 and became obsessed with getting a new storm door for my front entry, which I did, and I must say it has made me very, very, very happy. The old storm door was really awful. [If anyone were ever insane enough to ask me for advice on where to spend money on renovation if you’re on a tight budget, I would definitely recommend a lovely new storm door, because it makes you happy every time you come home. And you can totally rationalize the expense as a curb appeal investment.] Anyway, I know that you are supposed to do one room at a time, but I just accept that I am not going to do that. My energies, interests, and cash flow fluctuate way too much for that. But I really have to finish my bathroom, people.

Here’s a pic of my entry “hall,” “tiny sun porch” I don’t know what you’d call it, which is my sort of work/staging area for indoor dirty/messy work, for the simple reason that when I ripped out the carpeting (which I seriously think may have been the site of a murder, because honestly, there were huuge stains on it that just really looked exactly like blood stains — really), the whole house had beautiful and mint hardwood floors except the entryway, which had plywood subflooring. So I don’t have to worry about ruining anything.It also has wonderful light, thanks to the big windows….which I love. So I’m not sure what I’ll take on tomorrow, because I tend to decide these things after I’ve had my coffee.Image

You know who I hate? Rabbits

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Considering that I lived in the SF Bay area for 26 years, and never once saw a rabbit  — one of the first things that struck me when I moved back to the midwest was… Jesus! the rabbit population is like, biblical. Have you ever seen the movie Night of the Hunter with Robert Mitchum? Yeah, it’s like that!  I mean seriously, people, why is that? Still, I only thought it was vaguely adorable….until I got a rude introduction to the damage rabbits can do to landscapes. It kills me how I manage to block out so much information because it isn’t germane to MY life…I’m sure 97 percent of people alreadly knew rabbits were pests, but yeah, not me. Deer are the rabbits of California, and I was lucky enough to have no deer problems, for the most part. Anyway. So a year ago, I was doing spring garden cleanup, and when I got around to raking underneath the mature, 7 foot tall Privet hedge, I noticed something odd –systematically stripped bark areas on the base of the shrubs.  Soon, I noticed an odd correlation of dead branches with stripped bark areas…. I still had no clue, despite the fact that, for months, I had noticed packs of bunnies rustling out of the hedge every time I drove up the driveway. My thoughts at the time were “aw, how cool that rabbits like my yard…” There may have been vague notions of naming befriending the yard bunnies. Around that same time, my neighbor mentioned that her pussy willow had been decimated by rabbits over the winter, and as she gestured to the bush, I glanced over….and saw that the entire circumference of the PW base was.. systematically stripped of bark….Goddamn RABBITS ruined my hedge!

So my best friend trimmed it severely last summer, but I couldn’t bear to cut it to the ground. I spread blood meal liberally around the base of the 17 foot hedge, and while there were still a few stripped areas when I checked it out last week, it wasn’t nearly as bad as last year. And from the serious trimming and dead branch removal last summer, there are scads of new basal branches, but there are sadly many bare crappy looking areas. So I am debating whether or not to just cut to the ground and start over….you can see part of the hedge below…it looks fine from a distance, but god, it’s ugly close up. Think I am going to compromise and just cut the really damaged end of the hedge down to the ground.

Furthermore, henceforth all rabbits in my yard will be known as  “Ann Coulter.”

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