Pandemic in Pictures: Still at Home

Working from Home
Working from home.

I don’t want to minimize the challenges of staying home — those remain. But, looking on the bright side, I’ve been able to take advantage of the occasional nice weather by working outside a bit. It lets me keep Benji company while getting a little bit of work done.

Laundry Line
Taking advantage of sunny weather.

I also took advantage of the sunny, breezy weather and being home all day to hang our sheets out to dry in the back yard. I love the sunshiny smell and feel of sheets hung to dry.

Bunny Graveyard

And I’m not talking metaphorically.

We see rabbits in our yard every day, almost every time we look or step outside. A couple months ago two babies appeared, as they do most years. Then we saw just one baby bunny, and then I didn’t see any for quite a while. One of our neighbors mentioned their dog caught one baby rabbit, but the other disappeared inexplicably.

Well, I can’t explain it, but yesterday while I was trimming the (incredibly tall overgrown) grass along the side of the yard, I found where that second baby rabbit went. Continue Reading >>

Sprucing Up the Home

Before:

House Paint - Before

After:

Repainted House
New gutters and new paint.

New paint and gutters weren’t originally part of our financial plan for the year, but we found the beginnings of rot on some gutter fascia, and then it turned out all the gaps between our siding needed re-sealing, and in the end it was one of those “welcome to homeownership” moments.

But, on the bright side, we got to pick the color of our house for the first time. So now we have no excuse if we don’t like it.

Now that’s done, I spent some time cleaning up the back yard the last few days. I’ve found quite a bit of this type of post-construction detritus: Continue Reading >>

Weekend Rain

There’s a ton of heavy stuff going down in our country right now. I don’t want to make light of any of it. But I’m writing my life, and in my life right now my house has no gutters on a weekend of continuous heavy rain.

No Gutters 1
Rain pours off the roof onto the front step. Better come through the back.
No Gutters 2
Rain pours off the roof and through the shade sail to splash on the table and the back deck. Better come in through the front porch.

Tuesday through Friday last week showcased the best of Washington weather: Temperatures in the 70s, light breezes, sunshine, glittering mountains. Then Saturday morning, BAM! Literally — we were out for our daily family walk when thunder and lightning started up, followed by rain that hasn’t let up yet. Continue Reading >>

Biomass

It’s Saturday. That has, for many years, meant that I go for a big bike ride. But with the return of my virus and taking Thursday and Friday off this week again, I decided to skip the big ride. I tried going out by myself, but after a couple hours just felt tired and gross and it was clearly time to go home to rest.

Which I did, for several hours.

After which, this happened.

Before:
Assault the Jungle: Start
Benji rightly dubbed it “The Jungle,” an area on the side of the house (the opposite side from the Meadow of Goodness, in case you’re wondering) harboring weeds taller than myself, plus a density of weed undergrowth that cannot be overstated. I shudder to think of all the creatures living in there, too.

Originally I cleared this area and planted it with some wildflower seeds, just to see what would come up. What I got was a 10:1 weed:wildflower ratio — no fault of the seed packet, I’m sure; I simply didn’t go out and combat the weeds at all.

Silly me.

Now, after a couple years, the Jungle harbors this pernicious vine that keeps trying to take over our yard; I don’t know what it is [EDIT TO ADD: It is birdsfoot trefoil, Lotus corniculatus, apparently a good and useful fodder for various animals in pastures, but NOT IN MY YARD], but it has these yellow flowers that grow in clumps, and clumps of five leaves and then a big gap. It alone comprises probably 50% of the biomass in The Jungle. I’ve been slowly trying to get rid of it every time I find it in my yard, but it’s everywhere and it grows through the ground and then pops up, making it incredibly difficult to remove. I can’t truly eliminate it, at least not at this time; there’s too much, and I can’t get down to pull every root when it’s literally filling the side yard to a height of 4 feet everywhere as it grows on top of all the other plants and itself.

No, this was a quick and dirty assault to yank out anything anywhere near or involved with the yellow vine, along with the vine itself. The yard waste bin started out empty, so I decided to just go until it was full.

Assault the Jungle: The End

This took about an hour and a half, during which time I probably inhaled a week’s worth of pollen (sorry, immune system!) and got covered with a full body velcroing of burrs.

I also discovered a day lily, which has these lovely deep red and orange flowers, and several very nice ferns of a couple different varieties. I’m guessing those will all be happier not to be covered in yellow flower vines.

Assault the Jungle: The Jungle Fights Back
Those are my gloves after I stopped, but I had been picking burrs off at regular intervals, so that’s not the total accumulated amount. Next time I’m going in with jeans, long sleeves tucked in, and a face mask. Seriously.

I don’t know when I’ll get back to finish the assault, but still more of that darn vine remains. I will not rest until it’s eradicated from my yard! …OK, I will rest, but I will also keep pulling vines now and again.

Looking Summery

We made a water slide in our back yard over the weekend.

Summer Fun 1

Summer Fun 2

Summer Fun 3

Summer Fun 4

Summer Fun 5

It’s been about 9 or 10 months since we were able to play in water without getting hypothermia.

And, our lupines are doing fabulously — including a couple of genetic oddities.
IMG_20170522_192854

IMG_20170522_192936
It feels so bizarre to have bare legs and arms out in the outside (or at all, for that matter) — and, naturally, I got my first sunburn on Saturday because I forgot about the existence of sunscreen. I remember now.

You Gotta Grow Up Some Time

And, in a way, this weekend I feel like I passed a milestone in adulthood: I mowed the grass.

Okay, don’t get me wrong. One of my chores as a high-schooler was mowing our yard, and I did it most weekends. But I used a mower where I was the engine, the kind of mower where it’s just wheels and a blade, and you know not to put anything in the blades because they will chop whatever it is to bits. The thing about this type of mower is that if you let the grass get really long, you end up doing a ton of work pushing it through that tall, thick growth. So you’re pretty motivated to keep it under control.

I understood that mower and felt comfortable (albeit exhausted and sweaty) with how it works.

When we bought this house, we had that same kind of mower. But Ian was the guy responsible for mowing, and he didn’t like this push mower. It’s too much work, we had too much grass, and too much time elapsed between mowings so every time was a nightmare.

Long story short, we purchased a mower with an engine. It’s electric, and plugs in, so we got around the whole gasoline engine issue. And it doesn’t drive itself; you still have to provide all the pushing. But the blades are powered, which makes a big difference for the amount of work. With this purchase, Ian took on the basic mowing responsibilities.

I was happy with this, because lawn mowers with engines always made me nervous. Not only are they loud and stinky (although with ours the only stink comes from the person doing the mowing–ha!), but something about the powered blades made me very uneasy. So I let Ian do it, and we were good.

But with my taking on this new job, our days–especially weekends–have filled up, leaving not much time for incidentals like the yard. With the 45″ of rain we’ve gotten so far, plus the occasional burst of sunshine, our grass has grown like gangbusters. It really needed mowing, but Ian’s schedule was full up.

So, today, I ventured into adult-land and used a lawn mower with a motor. Dum da dum!!

My First Lawn Mowing!

It was basically like vacuuming, only nicer weather and heavier machine. I guess this means I don’t have any excuse for not mowing again in the future, because I felt like it turned out decently well.