Thursday, May 26, 2011

Plant problems

My husband went out of town yesterday. I didn't go with him. It would have been nice, but I'm probably stuck here until further notice, because of the plants.

This week (and probably some of next week too) in particular I am stuck here because I'm waiting on another package of live plants. I worry even about going to the grocery store, that I'm going to be gone too long and I'll miss the package, and that extra time being in a box without enough water will damage or kill the plants. Being gone for two or three days is obviously out of the question.

And it's not like I really needed to go out of town, but originally it was just for the one day, and it would have been nice, just to get away for a bit.

And then some really annoying things happened.

He'd thought that he was going to a suburb of Oklahoma City. Suburbs of Oklahoma City were hit by tornadoes, so we wondered if the job would be cancelled. Turns out that the job wasn't where he thought it was, and he had to leave the day before. So we went to lunch, and he left right after that.

Turns out that we'd been to this place before, but I don't remember it. After a while, you forget a lot of places. But I guess when we were there before, we'd noticed a few things that we wanted to do if we were ever in the area again and had more time. Like, now would have been a good time, if I weren't stuck at home, mostly because of waiting on this package.

Well, he probably won't want to do any of that stuff without me, so he'll be coming home tomorrow.

And now about the battles with tree limbs.

Well, it would have been nice to finish up with the garden and such for the year. It just gets too hot, and I don't like to work on it much after April, and so I had planned to stop all of the major work the first week of May. And then the weather changed, so that it seemed very cool again, even though it wasn't raining as much as I had expected. So, I thought, as long as the weather permits, I should do more work.

After having tried a couple of times to cut down two trees growing too close to the back fence, the trees grew back at odd angles, and some branches grew through the fence and did some minor damage. That is one of the reasons I bought a reciprocating saw last year, so that I could cut the limbs that start growing too close to the fence. So I had some work to do just for that, and a few weeks ago I decided to get started on it.
I had tried the saw last year, but I didn't really use it much. It's not bad. I just have trouble with physical work in general, and after using tools I need a rest. My hands ache. I have to shake it off, literally. So after sawing off the small limbs that would have caused us trouble later, I gave the saw and myself a rest.

After going back into the house and putting the saw away, I noticed that my right hand was swelling up. I did not quite look like young Captain Kirk having an allergic reaction to a vaccination, but one hand was noticeably larger than the other for a bit. Odd. I don't remember having that reaction using the saw last year, but I didn't use it much last year.

Anyway, the problem went away, and I decided to try it again the next day. Again my hands and arms hurt, but more what I had expected, and I didn't notice that much swelling.

After getting done with what absolutely had to be done I cut down some dead branches. And after that went well, I decided to keep going and just cut down the whole tree. I was planning on doing that at some point anyway, so I might as well get started now. And then at a certain point, it does seem like a lot of work, but it's better to keep going that to stop and have half a tree.

So I've cut all the branches off of the first tree, leaving the main trunk, which is really going to be a lot of work with my little saw. But, it will have to be my little saw, or combination of the saw and a small axe, because I'm afraid of chain saws. Or else, I will just have to leave it the way it is, checking once in a while to remove new growth.

I tied up some of the smaller pieces for trash removal, and then I went on to cut down the second tree. This mostly went well, until the last of the main branches, which was too big to get in one cut, and also slightly leaning in the wrong direction, and would possibly get caught in power lines or phone lines or whatever they are.

It took a while, but I got a lot of the second tree cut down, until there was just the main branch left. And it was leaning slightly in the direction of a power line, or a phone line, or cable or something. Anyway, instead of making a straight cut, I made this sort of V cut pointing away from the direction I would rather the branch fell, thinking that if that works with trunks that are straight, maybe a really big V cut would still work on this branch that wasn't quite straight.
But after a lot of work making cuts on the branch, I figure out that my plan isn't going to work. So I'm thinking if I make an even bigger V and get some rope or something and pull in the direction I want the thing to fall, maybe that would work. I've cut almost halfway through, but it doesn't want to budge, so I go back in the house to look for the some rope and get my husband to help. He says he's about to take a shower and will help right after that.

I hear a noise.

I go back outside, and that branch that would budge earlier is now starting to lean over, and not in a good direction.

I yell for my husband to skip the shower.

My husband comes out and looks at the branch which is breaking and now leaning on the line of whatever it is. Other branches I cut did the same thing, but they were much smaller and came loose without too much trouble. This branch is heavy, even though I cut it far away from the rest of the tree, about level with my head. My husband climbs a bit of the tree to get a better look, and tells me to cut where the branch splits off into smaller branches.

Like, if I could have reached that high, I would have done that to start with.

So he's telling me to hand him the saw and he'll do it.

He's never used this saw at all, and just doesn't get how that's a bad idea. The thing shakes a lot, even with both your feet planted firmly on the ground. You can't use the thing at an odd angle while you're trying to balance on a tree.
If I had to do this over again, I would get the step ladder and stand on top of that while I had someone holding onto my legs and I would cut the smaller branches first. But at the time that looked like a silly thing to do and it would have taken a long time.

So I tell him to get off of the tree, and I'll just keep cutting the branch the way it is. Maybe he can stand under it and push it away as it falls?

So that's what we do, and it sort of works the way I pictured it in my head. Only when the branch comes loose it just seems to fall really fast, and I'm thinking, that was dumb, I just told my husband to stand under a falling tree. But he says he isn't hurt, and the branch is free and we get it off of the line pretty quick.

So I didn't quite get that last one right, and into the lines it went, but nothing broke, and I can't tell that anything is wrong because of it. I don't know what the line is for, but the power is still on, the phone still works, and the Internet still works. After getting the branches off of the lines, that one line hangs very low. It might cause me problems later.

Working on another outdoor project now. Since I don't have money for a storage shed, but I do have this cement slab where one used to be, I built this thing to hold up an 8x4 piece of plastic lattice. To one side of that is a fence that used to have plants that blocked view, behind it is the original wall of the house, and to the other side a bit farther away is a wall to the added on room of the house. So the junk on the slab used to mostly be blocked from view, because of the vines on the fence, which aren't thick enough now for that. So I'm building another thing to which I will add lattice next week when I get more money. So that's what I was building today. Forgot about the low line, didn't see it, and while hammering some boards together got caught on it. Again, didn't seem to do any damage to anything, and the power is still on, phone still works, etc....

Anyway, when I get that done, the junk will be mostly blocked from view except on one side, and you can only see that from a certain angle if you are in my yard or my next door neighbor's yard, or in the alley just behind them. In other words, after I put the lattice up and put all the junk back on the cement slab, most people won't see the majority of the junk unless they are out looking for it.

And I suppose that I could spend another thirty or forty dollars and build a third wall. But that is not planned for now.

Anyway, the backyard is full of branches, as I have now cut down most of two trees. My hands hurt from using the saw, so I am mostly resting now. But I will have to cut the branches into smaller pieces, and then I will put them out a little at a time for the trash collection. I would rather do something else, as it seems a waste, but I haven't had any better ideas. I would think that some people who do ren faires would maybe like walking sticks or wizard staffs, but I don't have any way of getting the branches to them, and I can't have an open invitation for them to come here either. So I think that it will be a month or so of slowly getting rid of these branches by putting a few at a time out for regular trash collection.

Glad most of the hard part is over.

Still can't do anything interesting. I'm still waiting on that package of live plants.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Where is the Tardis? Where are our Klingsons?

Okay, so I was answering someone's email, telling a long tale of battles with tree limbs and such, and I lost it. And it was several paragraphs long when I lost it, and I haven't the patience for typing it again just now, so it will probably be in a later blog post.

On another important matter, there is the Tardis.

Not my Tardis exactly, but one made by some friends of mine. There's a contest of making a Tardis and then taking interesting pictures of it. Here's the link to my friends entry www.wheresthetardis.com/entry/100407 and the rest of the contest is at www.wheresthetardis.com.

I'm a bit disappointed. My friends probably deserve to win, but probably there are not going to now. There are some really great pictures, but I don't think that people are going to see most of them. The team worked really hard on this. The entry was supposed to say something about the club, and they entered before the deadline and received confirmation, but a week later there were still no pictures on the site. So they tried again on another computer, and nothing. The deadline was extended a bit due to receiving many more entries than they had expected, so my friends went to another house and tried a third time on yet a different computer, this time not using the club's name in the title, so the entry is called All American Tardis. Boring name, and many other entries were also called American Tardis. So if you are looking for my friends pictures, they are a little hard to find.

Also, the first picture, the only one a lot of people will see, is rather dull. They are on page three. There's the Tardis. No big deal. They took a zillion pictures and this all most people will see, cause most people won't click to continue looking at the construction and so forth. And even that page doesn't have the more interesting pictures. For that you have to go here http://ussjoshua.org/2011_TARDIS_Project/All-American_TARDIS.pdf , but it doesn't show up as a link at the Where's the Tardis site, so you have to type all of that in. From there you have to click on other links, a few of which do not work advertising the places that allowed them to take pictures.

has pictures of The Doctor, a younger version of The Doctor, The Master, a guy from UNIT, a Federation captain, a Klingon, some actual space stuff, and the yellow brick road and a munchkin.
http://ussjoshua.org/2011_TARDIS_Project/TARDIS_Halloween/index.html has pictures from the Halloween party, including another Doctor, and a couple of girls in Dalek dresses.
http://www.ussjoshua.org/2011_TARDIS_Project/Construction_Photos/ has pictures of the team putting the thing together.

There are more links to even more pictures, but I've had trouble with copy and paste stuff on Blogger, and I'm tired of typing all this stuff in twice.
Anyway, it is all very cool stuff, but I don't think that many people are going to see it.
Part of the contest involves getting votes from the public. But in order to vote, you have to be on Facebook. I think that I've already had a rant about Facebook, so I won't repeat it now, but let's just say that the Facebook thing is also causing some problems.
Anyway, if you're on Facebook, please go to page three of the contest and vote for the All American Tardis and maybe look at some of the other entries. It is a bit fun.
Now I want a Tardis. In my backyard. Maybe I could put my lawnmower in it.

Monday, May 02, 2011

Hail

And hell, and all of that too.

It did finally start raining, instead of being just cloudy and dark. And we watched the weather reports a bit before watching other things and then going to sleep. I had to take few pills before nodding off, and then there was this noise. And I can't quite identify the noise, as it isn't something I'm used to hearing. It wasn't quite rain, though there was finally some of that, and most of it seemed to be coming from another room. It rather sounded like someone was tossing pebbles at an air-conditioner. And then it sounded like pebbles being tossed at the other air-conditioners as well. And then the roof, though that hasn't quite the same loud sound as something hitting the metal of the air-conditioners. And then as it slowly dawns on me what that noise is, it really started coming down and was loud. My husband woke up and turned on the television. Seems like that storm we watched on the news that was just going to miss us was the first of several, and we were in the middle of one of the others, in places having golf ball sized hail. I don't think that we got anything that big, but I could be wrong. I picked up two pieces that fell just by the front door. They were a bit more than pea sized, but not by much. There seemed to be a few slightly bigger pieces, but I didn't want to venture out to get them.

The noise died down and it went back to just raining, and we went back to sleep.

I haven't been out to inspect the garden damage, or to see if there's any real damage anywhere else, as it is still raining, and raining a lot at the moment. It's probably going to rain all day, so I might get a short look later, but probably won't get a good look at everything until tomorrow.

Sunday, May 01, 2011

Gardening and other stuff

Note to self, yesterday was annoying, in spite of finding plenty of on sale chocolate still at Target.

Well, a while back I had a cough and was a bit sick for a little while, but nothing major. Still, the cough has not quite gone away, and it is starting to cause me some problems. So yesterday I had planned to dig a big hole in the ground in the front yard, cause I'm thinking that anything major done in the front yard is best done on the weekends, and hopefully finished on the same weekend, as this would prevent any complaints to the office from being noticed until after the work was done. But I got up yesterday and realized that I just wasn't up to it. So I drove off to run a few errands instead.

I have just this week found my missing debit card. Or rather, my husband just found it and gave it to me. The way I remember it is this: I noticed that the envelope had come in the mail, and perhaps I had even seen the card itself when the envelope was opened, but I never actually had the card in my possession, and I certainly never had it in my wallet or went out and bought anything with it. My husband would then complain whenever I would ask him to get money out of the ATM for me, as I should be able to do it myself, as he had given me a card. And I'm sure that he meant to give me a card, and I think maybe he even said something like the card came in the mail and it's on the desk, but he did not ever actually put the card in my hands, and I didn't have the card. So after months of this, he goes to the bank and says something like please give my wife a new card, and they say something like we can't give you a card for your wife (even though it is the same joint account that he already has a card for) your wife will have to come in and get it herself. And somehow this doesn't get done right away, as I would think that we would both have to go to the bank at the same time to do this, as it would speed things along if one of us had a card so that they didn't spend a lot of time looking for the information and so forth. And then before we went to do that he found the card stuck some odd place in the desk where I would never have looked for it or anything else.

So now that I had my debit card, I went to get clearance Easter candy and some sand and other things that I needed for the garden, and as long as I was at the Home Depot and have money I might as well buy a few more stepping stones. And I think that I should just do that whenever I happen to be out and have money, buy a few more stepping stones or a few more cinder blocks or whatever I feel up to dealing with at the time.

It is annoying that in the garden a.) I seem to be running out of usable space while at the same time b.) there still seems to be way too much grass to deal with. The cheapest way to totally cover up the grass is cement, which is a hassle. Stone or blocks are easier and usually look better to begin with, but then later grass grows through and or they look uneven. To prevent grass growing through and to make the ground nice and level, you are supposed to spread sand under and then put more sand on top so that it settles into the gaps between. But that makes it more expensive, and more work, and if you really want it to look nice you buy this really super expensive special sand that blocks water, which wouldn't be a good thing at all in a garden and around trees and such. So once in a great while I'll deal with the cement (when it's not right under a tree or someplace that needs water), but most of the time I'll probably be using blocks, and the cheapest blocks are the ones that are 4 x 8 inches, and not very attractive.

Anyway, I'm running out of space, sort of. There are raised beds that are not permanent, and in fact some still have plastic under them, which will not do at all. Of the permanent beds I have dug, one is 3 x 12 feet and currently has tomatoes, peppers, and squash (not yet producing anything). And it will also have cucumbers, but right now I'm having a problem with the trellis failing over and I've removed it until I can figure out how to prevent that. On one side of that bed is the asparagus. I'm always kicking myself for putting the asparagus there, right in the middle of the yard, as the asparagus plants are not that attractive and tend to fall over a bit, and I think that I need a fence around it. This year I lengthened the bed, because I found purple asparagus at Walmart. On one half of the new asparagus area all eight plants have emerged, but on the other half I only see three, and those three are very small and struggling. I had even worried that the whole package was dead, but then seeing three emerge I hoped it would all be okay. I haven't given up yet, and I'm thinking that the other side just didn't get a long enough soak before I planted them, so maybe a lot of water would help. Anyway, I haven't yet given up on the purple asparagus, I'm just saying that half of the new area is disappointing and might have to be finished next year, and might even have to be finished with regular green asparagus.

Anyway, with the new asparagus, the asparagus bed is now four feet wide and twelve feet long. On the other side of the asparagus bed is an herb bed. Last year it had some herbs and a lot of cucumbers, but the trellis there was old and part of it rusted and fell apart. After having to remove the trellis, there didn't seem to be any reason for the cucumbers to be there, so I added more herbs and one of the artichokes. Oregano has taken over much of that bed, and I'm hoping that it and the thyme will cover all the spaces between the piquin peppers and the artichoke and the other herbs. And just past the herb I have dug a space for a Navaho thornless blackberry. I have to dig a bit more for it to make that area twelve feet long to match the asparagus and the bed on the other side of the asparagus, but I plan to do that soon enough.

On the other side of the herb bed is the most recent permanent bed, and I guess that I will call this the short bed, as it is only about four feet by nine or ten feet. And while I suppose I could dig more and make this one a bit longer to match the others, I'm not planning to, as I want a wider walking space on that side, so that one doesn't have to make turns and noticeably walk around things getting from the front gate to the back gate. And then there's going to be room for a bed between that walking space and the fence, which this year will probably be a temporary bed with pumpkins. The short bed has popcorn, soybeans, spaghetti squash, another artichoke, a few peppers, and a few herbs, so nothing producing yet.

And that's about it for the vegetables. You might have noticed all the vegetables that I didn't mention, like lettuce, spinach, and other salad greens, broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, radishes, beets, carrots, potatoes, regular corn, green beans, peas, melons, etc.... I don't seem to have room for those at the moment. I know that most people who garden have a little of all those things in half of the space I mentioned, but they probably don't have a quarter of that space taken up by asparagus, another quarter taken up by herbs, they tend to grow regular corn instead of popcorn, and they grow peas and some other kind of beans rather than soybeans, and they don't have near as many pepper plants as I do. So it isn't entirely a problem of space, just that I've done different things with it than most people.

I know I've made it sound like my backyard is about 15 or 20 x 12. It isn't, it's bigger than that, though off the top of my head I'm not sure how big it is. There are paths between the beds that are about two feet wide, and there's a bit of space closer to the house and there's space under trees and such. There are six more beds (four of them still need serious work), but these are smaller (three are 4 x4, two are about 3x5, and one is about 4x4) and mostly have flowers in them. There is room for one more 4x4, which will probably have herbs in it, and that's nearly all the room I have left that isn't either reserved for a fruit tree, or too close to the house or else in too much shade to be useful. And these areas either have grass growing in them now or else will have soon if I don't do something about it, and all the areas in between other areas also either have grass or need something to prevent grass. And in these areas I need to either a.) do a lot of work and/or b. ) spend money on cement or pebbles or blocks or sand or something.

So at the same time, my yard seems too big to deal with and too small to have the plants I want. When I am digging and weeding and buying blocks it seems too big, and when I'm planting and harvesting it seems too small.

It is cold today. Not really cold, but it feels cold, and it is cold for May (only a high of sixty something degrees) and it is cloudy and dark but not yet really raining, and it is windy. I turned on the heater in the car this morning, and I still feel cold most places other than the house because I'd put away most of my sweaters and can't easily get to the stuff I wish I had put on. Other than being cold it's been a pretty good day, as I found some pumpkin seeds I'd been looking for, had a nice lunch, and watched the Adjustment Bureau.