Saturday, July 31, 2010

Dogs vs Garbage

Ok, so I know this isn't about gardening, but I think it might be safe to say that most of us who garden also have pets. With that said I just have to tell you about this "scatmatt" thing I came across on the Internet. My 2 indoor dogs (aka "The Dufus Brothers" or days when they really piss me off.... like raiding the garbage & spreading all over the house: "The Damnit Brothers) have a real passion for raiding the garbage. They make it worse because knocking it over and doing some rummaging isn't enough. NOOOOOOO, these guys poke and prod it a bit, then they take the bag to the living room where they rip everything to shreds. On some really wild days they spread the garbage through the kitchen, living and computer room! They even do it when we are home watching TV or like yesterday when Manny thought he'd just give a quick peek.

But the worst part his when Duke (the german shorthair gets all guilty feeling, he then gets nervous about what's going to happen when I get home  which results in him losing control of all his bodily fluids, or that's what I try to think so that I don't wind up leaving my house in handcuffs while animal rights activists throw fake blood on me. Down to just an itty bitty piece of a single nerve and having tried everything under the sun, I desperately searched for a home for Duke and a solution to the garbage problem ( Manny, the puggle aka Boss, thinks he's just way to cute for anyone to be mad at so he completely ignores any ranting and raving).

That's when I came across this scatmat thing and it worked like a charm! NOT one single mishap since we  got it  last month. If I didn't know better, I would swear somehow it also infused us all with xanax or something cause everyone is calmer and happier!!! Yesterday I just happened to turn the corner when Mr Manny thought he'd sneak a peek in the garbage....he got a little zap and promptly backed up while giving the offending floor a very indignant (and unmanly) little bark. I hate to admit it, but I got a hell of a good laugh from it and the fact that: game over, I won!

"The Dufus Brothers"
Manny, the Puggle & Duke, The German Shorthair

If you got unceasing garbage raiders check this out:

Monday, July 26, 2010

What is a "Memorial Garden" to you?

Do you have a Memorial Garden? What do you have in it?

Years ago I started one without the formal intention of being a "memorial garden". I have been fortunate not to lose anyone in my family till I was in my mid thirties. At our old home I had made a spot in front of this tree that I could sit on the rock wall that separated the garden from the stone driveway. When my Grandfather passed I had taken a grapevine wreath filled with flowers from the cemetery and hung it on the tree. That was the beginning. Eventually I realized that for each person I had lost, I added something from their funeral or something that reminded me of them. It became my own little way of keeping a preserved space for them in my life.

When we moved to our new home 3 years ago, it was pretty much a blank slate. It was just 2+ acres of grass. We had moved during what I call the "Bad Years" and I was in bad shape. Even though I had dug up and potted every single plant, shrub and tree and took it with me, I  had no desire or will power to figure out where everything should go.

Two days after closing on the house we lost our 8 day old grandson, Dominic. Today, it's 3 years now since we had to say goodbye. Losing Dominic took something more than just a piece of my heart, he took a piece of my soul. I had planted a Japanese Lace Leaf Maple behind his head stone. I purposely bought one that had branches only on one side. A few months later I was told I had to remove it, so I brang it home and gave it a temporary spot in the garden till I could make the "Memorial Garden" that I wanted. I had an idea that I wanted my memorial garden to have all white flowers and white rocks and initially planned on it being on top of the septic mound with a stone bench. The stone bench will have a verse from "Fields of Athenry" engraved on it, something I hummed over and over to Dominic whenever I was with him. The white rocks would come from our property upstate, NY, my home away from home.

Well, I lost my job just a few months later which put a big screaming halt on a lot of plans around the house. I still haven't been able to get a job so I have tried to figure out what else to do till I can afford my dream plan. In late winter, Dominic's tree suffered a big break by accident and come spring nothing happened. My husband got me a new tree for mother's day knowing that was the only thing on my mind. Well now I really needed a plan so I could get this tree out of its pot.

Finally a plan formed and I decided to once again add on to the garden in the backyard. I wanted something different that would stand out from the rest, yet still belong. I decided to build a rock wall, only higher this time, and in a "U" in front of the septic so that it would go into the side of the hill. I would  plant Dominic's tree here and it would have its own space. Years ago I had found one of my grandmother's statues of "Mary" and brang it home from upstate. I had been meaning to make a grotto for it ever since. I decided now would be the time and I would put it in the front of the rock wall and garden. I used an old plastic sled for a mold to form the grotto which I made using hypertufa. I made a base in the rock wall using some pieces of slate and the hypertufa to make sure I had a nice flat surface for the statue.

Getting ready to add the grotto. Note the 2 rebars in back for support. They will be "hypertufa-ed" to the grotto.

The grotto, made of hypertufa. I wet down the grotto and base, then added hypertufa to the base before putting the grotto on top.

Smoothed out the hypertufa

I hammered in  a couple of rebars in the ground behind the grotto to help support it, then added hypertufa around them, while also blending it into the surrounding stones. The concrete over engineering... I had to keep wetting down the grotto and hypertufa so it would stick since it was like 200 degrees out when I did this.

Covering the hypertufa with plastic for a few days so it can cure. Started to fill in behind the wall.

Filling in with dirt and peat moss. I put Dominic's tree in so it could finally get out of it's pot, giving the roots a chance to move while I continue finishing the rest of the work. Still have at least a foot higher to go with the stone wall, and a lot more dirt and peat. I haven't made up my mind what to put behind it though. I would like a back wall of some kind, it just hasn't hit me yet, but it will.
Well, when I started this it was a lot nicer out! Since then it got unbearably hot, I kept getting sick till I finally winded up in the hospital with pneumonia. All this put a big screaming halt on my project. But this past week, July 18 to 26 are the 8 short days that we had Dominic and I really wanted to get it done by today. Unfortunately the rocks I am using on this wall are pretty big and I can only handle a few before my back turns to jello. But luckily, the garage plans took so long to finally happen, that I now have a piles of dirt which I need to fill in this project....cause it's taking a whole lot more than I expected! My teenage son Hunter (aka "Manboy") is back from the a week at the beach, so he can help with the loads of dirt and picking up the stones. And wouldn't you know it, the heatwave has broken to! You know what Mick always says " No, you can't always get what you want, and if you try sometime, you may find, you get what you need". I swear, at a time when I am usually sullen and sad, God has been doing everything the past couple of days to make sure I don't stay that way! Thank You God!!!XXXOOO
So when I am done with  this post, I will do some studying for school, then I will head out and get done what I can today before going to class tonight. When I get home I will pour myself a cocktail, sit in my swing and enjoy Dominic's garden in the moonlight. I will keep you posted with the final results, whenever that happens!
Till then, think about your own memorial garden. What makes you happy when you think of those who are gone? Growing vegetables like your grandmother did? Some seashells collected with a favorite friend? A special flower that your mother always adored as her favorite? A stepping stone with child's hand print? A favorite old chair your grandfather sat on outside?

The rules of a Memorial Garden:  Anything that makes your heart smile!

~In God's Hands~
 July 18- 26, 2007

Sunday, July 25, 2010

The Garage/Shop is FINALLY coming!

Plans have been in the making for months and now it is actaully happening!!! We are getting a big ass garage! could say: his & her shop....or I'm splitting my half with my son......
Oh who cares, we're FINALLY getting one!!!WOHOO!!!
I will, at last, have an actaul place to work on what ever project that flits through my mind at any giving moment. I am sooooooo excited. Also going to move Dad's 'ol woodshop equipment up (where sharing with my son comes in). Years ago my Dad carved duck decoys & I helped by "burning feathers in". Eventaully I started carving to. Now my son is a wood working fan since he took woodshop in school. I have lots of ideas and plans that he can help with....hmmmmmm....not sure where I saw these cute decorative boxes built specially for planters (you put the plastic planter inside), some were made of wood, some with copper & lattice added, going to have to find that now! I also want to make my own trellises and furniture, redo the kitchen cabinets.......
Pad is all ready for the building! Guys are coming tommmorow to drill the holes.

So naturally after praying for rain for so long, it's going to happen now! A storm just passed through here & snapped my umbrella in half before I could get to it, big brabches in the roads & a tornado warning by my daughter's....Yeah...let's get that garage up now!!!!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

RAIN! Lovely, Lovely Rain.

Those of you from the Northeast know that we have been in some serious need of rain. Well Thank You God for finally sending us some! The grass was brown and actually "crunchy", that is just so wrong.

 So now that I got started on making this blog & spend endless hours figuring out how to do what I want ( like adding more then one picture in a post!!!!GGGRRRRR) the rain has giving me a good excuse to stay inside and tend to this most important task. BUT, when I looked out the window and saw my garden: first I was giddy cause the black eyed susan its starting to bloom, second, the weeds came back with a vengeance. And yes, I do get all stupidly giddy when I see new things blooming in the garden. To me it's way more important then useless things like men walking on the moon. The giddiness turned to self loathing though when the weeds I thought I destroyed with my home made weed killer (I don't like nasty chemicals in or around the gardens since the Dufus Bros, introduce them another time, are always cutting through them or hunting for toads) all came back life. Seems the rain not only miraculously brang them back to life but also infused them with some miracle grow to. DAMN.
Oh well, gotta take the good with the bad I suppose. On the good side: the grass is almost all green again, I won't be making the electric company anymore money from watering, the bees will stop attacking anything and everything with a drop of moisture (that was just sooo insane!), the gardens are getting a hell of a nicely needed deep soaking and my favorite: I can chillax again at night with my cocktail, sitting in my swing in the garden, enjoying a fire and the sunsets and stars without worrying about setting the neighborhood on fire. *LOUD HAPPY EXHALE*

PS. He's a bit to small to really see, but there is a young Bluebird sitting on top of the umbrella. Our first year here I was so excited that we had Bluebirds in the yard. Well soon after the first brood was in the making, things changed. Can I tell you that Bluebirds crap more than any species of birds on the planet!! I have hundreds of birds that visit the feeders and the crap from all of them put together can't rival what the Bluebirds (ONE PAIR!) left on every chair in my garden!!!!!!

PPS. Just an FYI....Some of you might not be aware that some septic systems require "mounds" due to poor drainage. My yard is exceptionally drainage challenged and required a mountain instead of the average mound. My garden is actually on top of where the septic tank is. In it there are 5 pvc pipes sticking up, 2 manhole covers & an electric source for the alarm. There is also a drain from the left side of the garden that's runs underneath since a heavy rain pools between the house and the mountain. Camouflage CAN indeed hide hide ugly necessary things!

Cheers to the rain!!!!

Monday, July 12, 2010

Starting new things

I've been working on this blogsite most of the a new of course I have complete tunnel vision. That would be OK but as an unemployed displaced employee, I am going to college for the first time at 45. Been almost 3 years already since losing my job. It's been great having time off, but also very humbling (& down right humliating!) *SIGH*. My ship of self esteem has left the bay and is lost at sea somewhere. Well, except when I'm working in my gardens.

Tonight I start my second semester of school: Intro to Digital Photography & Intro to Anthropolgy. Photo class starts in a few hours and truth be told I can't wait. It was slim pickens for classes over the summer but this girl isn't complaining one bit! Someone is finally going to teach me what all those stupid dials, button, switches (and etc) are!!

Hopefully I will learn to take awesome pictures AND figure out how to display them on here the way I want them. Like I mentioned earlier: this is a learning work in progress, so hang in there with me! Over the next few days I plan to get some pictures up of the gardens around the house, as well as some "in development stage projects". OK, that really is everything around here, just some are more "in status quo" looking then others. I admit it, I get bored or impatient or ??? and just leave to work on something else for awhile. Guess it's the equivilent to mood swings? Anybody else do this?


Saturday, July 10, 2010

Here we go!

Hi! Welcome to my newest experience: blogging. I hope you will be patient as I figure this whole thing out as I go. Pretty much the same as what I did when I decided I wanted a garden!

I started my gardening quest over 15 years ago after having major back surgery. That was prior to 1 year 2 weeks and 3 days of 24/7 constant pain, but whose counting...My surgery was in the fall and after spending yet several more months of inactivity in my brace and "bone growth simulator" (I felt like robocop or something kinda similar)I often dreamed of what I was going to do when I was all better. When Spring graced us with her presence, I often sat on my porch looking across my tiny patch of grass to the woods. In truth, it seriously lacked anything worthy of my attention. Then one afternoon it hit me that I should try gardening just like my father did a few years earlier. Changing that boring space across the driveway into something beautiful sounded like a cool and easy idea.

It was very slow going since the doctors forbade me to do just about everything. But, like any other creative mind, I needed to do something productive. I could sit idle no longer. So I slowly and quite gingerly started clearing a little patch that I would turn into a marvel of wonders to behold.

Did I mention there was a big damn tree right in the middle of my little dream of awesomeness? Did I mention I had no experience in this field what-so-ever? Yup, not even vegetable gardening, those dreaded green things and stuff my parents made me eat. My first plants were some perennials from a catalog. Tigerlillies...HAH!!! Why do I laugh you ask? Because this bonehead lives in New Jersey where they grow all over the place like big weeds. So as I try to plant these "fans" one at a time, spaced just like the directions tell me, I realize I have a big problem. There is barely any soil around this tree, it is all dense with roots. Never mind that I really had no "plan" of what I was going to do, the wet clay soil, an exceptional lack of sunshine, and yes, the list goes on.

So, that's where it all began. I started paying more attention to what Dad was doing, borrowing his books and soaking up anything anyone could or would tell me. I had many trial and errors in which I tried to learn from my mistakes. Of course, sometimes I was just stubborn and would keep at something just because I liked it (I'll tell you about my butterfly bush another time!). We moved 3 years ago to a much larger property. The other major factor here: sunshine! Most of the property is in full sun ALL day. I started making gardens around the house, bordered with my absolute love: rock walls. I am such a stone addict!!!Have I actually completely finished any yet...nooooooo. Working with a big, new slate, there just isn't enough of me or time in a day to do everything I want to do. Guess it's a good thing I love my new home and plan on staying a very long time. Knowing me, my gardens will never be "done", they will always be a work in progress, just like my life.

I hope that you will join me, and share with your friends, my journeys in the garden and in the life of a 45 year old who is always learning new tricks!
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