And the road goes on forever...

Monday, June 12, 2017

One Thing Leads to Another

Essentially, I have turned into a gardening, landscaping fool. Yeah, that’s it. It’s a joy, a challenge, and totally eats up my days but things are looking so much better around here, I don’t even care. What else would I be doing?
Wisconsin can grow weeds like no other so between watering and the weed pulling I spend at least two hours a day on that. Throw in the weekly mowing, another two hours, and my having dug more holes for planting this season than I care to count, and it is mounting up. Then there have been the nursery trips for plants, or looking at plants or other landscaping supplies, and my pocketbook is screaming for mercy. That doesn’t even count the trips to the antique malls as I zero in on every little rustic item that could possibly be used in the garden. 

I left you at the rusty gate last time and with the help of my neighbor and her son we got it installed along the side of the house. My hope is to eventually block the awful looking unfinished window well for the basement with a Virginia Creeper, which although tiny, has already started its trajectory along the gate, curling its little leaf arms in myriad hugs around anything it clasps. It’s hard to believe this little plant is going to turn aggressive and start to devour everything in its path so it will need eventual taming. Neighbor’s son Bryce had originally come with his tractor at my behest to straighten out our three gravel piles which had been sitting for the past three years just growing weeds. I’m sure the neighborhood agrees it looks much better now.
While we’re on the subject about antique yard art, I have long wanted an arbor with climbing rose bushes gushing up and over, looking gorgeous and smelling even sweeter. Providence struck when I found two old porch posts of the same height (not the same design) and the most artful, handmade filigree wood decoration (all from different stores) and I had a light bulb moment that I could draw them together into an arbor. Well, not me per se, but Marc! That is awaiting his next trip back. I spent two days trying to remove the multiple layers of 100-year-old (no doubt) lead, oil based enamel and gave up. We’ll do our best to sand it and repaint and not fret that it isn’t perfect. I am still deciding upon a spot.
More along the planting lines, I bought and got two small spruce planted and painted a yard bench lime green and planted two climbing clematis. Eventually both should take off and spread along the split rail fencing.
On May 31st as I was working in my garden with Munchkin by my side I heard a distressed kitty call from the lilac bushes which are right along the road. I figured I’d better check it out fearing a feral cat had been hit by a car but instead a little pint-sized kitten emerged so ready to be scooped up into my arms. She was around 6-7 weeks old and the best I can figure is that someone wanted her gone and threw her out their car seeing me there with my other cat. She appeared to be slightly hurt around the mouth but I wouldn’t see how badly until later. Knowing we can’t possibly adopt any other cats, I set my brain to trying to figure out what to do with her.
Thank God for good neighbors—mine came to the rescue. They have an older terrier dog so weren’t sure how she would do with a cat but agreed to take the little kitten in for a few days. The kitten is strikingly beautiful, playful, smart and adorable, so of course within three days they said there would be no way they could give her up! We both took her into my vet where she received an antibiotic for her mouth wound which looked like a bad case of road rash. It tore loose her lower lip which will always now hang slightly open but that only makes her more adorable in our eyes. Bindi is home to stay and being spoiled rotten. So, thank you, heartless bastard who dumped her right at the highway to get run over, she has a far better home!
I’m getting into gear this week with some preliminary details involved in my job of coordinating the big rummage sale for the shelter. Advertising, arranging for all the volunteer help and scheduling, accepting the donations for three days, unpacking and placing everything in the warehouse and then finally, the three-day sale (when we’ll have upwards of 60+ customers at any given time); another day of disposing of leftover items and a final morning to clean and pack away the tables translates into right around a full and busy ten days for me. This doesn’t start until the 6th of July however and meanwhile I may make it up camping with some friends to Lake Superior’s shore next week and will welcome Marc back for a visit starting the 30th. It’s great to be home!

Friday, May 26, 2017

I'm Cooking!

It’s been particularly cool and rainy lately in Wisconsin but despite that I have gotten some major accomplishments either done or started! And actually, with how bad my circulation has become in older age where I overheat so easily, having the cool temps has been a Godsend for working in the outdoors.

The stepping stone pathway is completed! Thank God for that; it was a lot of digging and then hauling the dirt to the back lot and I must have moved each of those 32 pound blocks at least four times each over the course of building. I have noticed my arm muscles have sure improved though, ha.  
In looking at the pictures of the walkway you no doubt noticed a new wood structure near to the house. That is one of my research projects where I determined our home needed more curb appeal to help out the fact it is not finished in front so I decided to build a split rail accent fence by myself. Viola and holy cow—wow do I love the results!!!! For one thing, it perfectly accentuates the flower bed and was just what that needed.
Obviously, I still need to complete the opposite side in the same fashion, which I hope to get done this weekend if weather allows. My hands are so full of arthritic pain at this point that it has become hard for me to hold onto anything but I will try my best. 

I’ve been harvesting our wild asparagus and I’ve had several pickings. Now I am letting them grow to seed to make some for next year. Something new to us is letting a part of our mowing go. Our neighbor started a “meadow” a couple of years ago, and I really liked the looks of it so we decided to forego mowing on about half our other lot and I’m loving the effect. I think it adds interest and is probably better for the grass as well. Now if I could only annihilate all those dandelions.
I picked up this old rusty gate recently. Hum, wonder what I am going to do with that?

Sunday, May 21, 2017

This is My Life These Days

Immediately upon my return I of course unpacked the rig, and then got busy with six months of neglected housecleaning. It was time to clean the open shelving; a task I always dread since it involves not only the step stool but sometimes precariously balancing on the countertop and reaching far overhead. Despite it all I wouldn’t change a thing—the open kitchen shelving is one of my favorite things about my house! 

Since rain is now keeping me indoors I have moved on to caulking the melamine edging in preparation for priming and painting. These shelves were always meant as a first temporary step—something cheap and fast to get up for storage, but now with Marc gone for who knows how many years, it has become apparent they will have to be stared at for years. I figure I at least need to make them look more finished. Eventually the hope is for some thick, solid planks. 

My yard of course, was overgrown; the grass was pushing 5-6 inches and the weeds even taller. It took a good week to clear out and plant my flower beds in front. In addition, I got things set up for all the bird life I found and they have really moved in since then. We have more birds than ever before and I am seeing species never here before either so it’s been like an aviary. Hearing their cheery song fill the days is so pleasant.
Something we’ve battled since living here is the distance from the house to the shop and driveway and walking through wet grass or mud. I determined that this would be the summer when I did something to help the situation so now having the advantage of the truck, I took it to Mennard’s and loaded up on pavers that match others we have as landings. I then got a walkway measured out and designed and lugged the heavy things into placement. Since the pavers weigh 32 pounds each and I had like 35 or so, this was no easy task. The pavers have sat there, helping to kill the grass underneath and I’ve slowly been cutting and digging out the holes to sink them ground level. This too, is a lot of hard work, since it’s done bent-over with a pick axe and isn’t easy on my bad back, so I’m lucky if I get three a day done.
In amongst all this work, Marc managed to fly home for a four day visit and we enjoyed a fish fry Friday at our favorite bar and grill, Rustic Woods Campground. They have the most marvelous live edge bar which I always drool over (even without a beer in my hand), hoping maybe someday we can design an island for our kitchen which can incorporate something similar. You may recall right now I am using a $100 Sam’s Club stainless work table! Live edge has become particularly popular as a focal point for making unique furniture and bars and I am finding lots of local Wisconsin sources for the slabs, using everything from pine, maple, ash, hickory and walnut.
While Marc was here he got the garden rototilled and ready for planting, which I hurriedly did that Saturday. Since he won’t be around I have no need for as large a garden as I had last year so it is relatively simple this year, mainly with greens and just three tomato plants. He did hit it right on time to see spring unfolding and awakening here on our property—just gorgeous!

His visit was too short and I’ve settled into my summer routine: mowing, yard work, gardening, and volunteering for the shelter. I peruse Pinterest constantly for ideas I can incorporate into the yard so I’m working on some potentials I can manage to do myself. I try and add a few more perennials each year and I’d love to plant more trees if I can figure out how to lift them by myself. Old age is not kind to muscle power.

Saturday, May 6, 2017

I'm Back!

Upon stepping back into the great room of our house two things hit me in the face: how massive it felt after trailer-living for so long; and that I missed it so badly that I immediately got tears in my eyes. In six days, I had gone from the Yuppies and mountains of Bend, OR, traveling 2188 miles back to the rednecks and deer stands of home. 

The trip was long and a little arduous with weather but overall things went well with no close calls and courteous drivers for the most part. Several sections in Montana brought on some anxiety—a pass between Idaho and Dillon which required 4-wheel drive and the six-mile-long 6% grade coming out of Butte which is so steep and curvy that even the semi-trucks have a 25-mph speed limit. With the features the Chevy provides on the ability to both downshift and use the built-in tow haul and grade braking, all went well with not having to use much braking to remain in complete control.
A couple of foible’s: my backing skills are non-existent at this point and the first campground I had in mind in Parma, Idaho had just one spot available and I could not for the life of me get the trailer backed into it. In frustration, I pulled up all other area campgrounds and happened upon a fishing access free camp near the Snake River which thankfully had several pull-thru spots. As it turned out, by nightfall all the fisherman left and I had the place to myself. It was a bird haven and I heard their calls and the frogs croaking long into the night and very early the next morning.
The second night was equally frustrating as I got led on the grand tour of downtown Idaho Falls with the GPS thinking I had wanted N Yellowstone Ave instead of South. I finally arrived at South Tourist Park, a very well kept city park right on the river, offering water, dump, garbage and a free one night stay. Everything went well until late in the afternoon when I was bothered by cars which kept circling the parking lot. They would park for awhile then take off circling again. There was one other motorhome there and a few tents (in pouring rain??) but I was beginning to wonder if I had stepped into a gang or drug exchange area. Finally, I had it, and called the non-emergency police number and shortly an officer arrived. He stopped one of the cars, the other fled and then came over to have a conversation with me. It seems during the off season this park becomes a haven for gay pickups and collusions and it only got worse after the officer left. There were some highly suspect people who would drive in and park for several hours and although I was never directly bothered or approached, I would not feel comfortable ever staying here again. All the reviews I had read of this spot did not mention this aspect either: a lesson in not fully trusting online reviews!
Save for one stay in the Billings, Yellowstone RV Park at an outrageous $50/night, the rest of my camps were at WalMart, always a trusted source. The bad weather forced me to abandon my first routing from Billings of going through Wyoming due to its snow and then high winds for several predicted days, so I opted for the northern route through the oilfields of North Dakota then across Minnesota. I managed to hit the travel through Minneapolis-St Paul very early on a Sunday morning so it was a relative easy two-hour drive through. Then back into blessedly, rolling green, beautiful Wisconsin.