Crazy as Hamsters in Space

Day’s Verse:
God spoke: “Earth, green up! Grow all varieties of seed-bearing plants, every sort of fruit-bearing tree.”
And there it was.

Genesis 1:11

Exhibit A: My pants and jacket, both muddy. Not pictured: The splats of mud on glasses, in hair, etc. Yes, I am wearing Smartwool socks, since you ask. They are the best ever.
Exhibit A: Muddy Pants & Jacket

Exhibit B: My gloves and shovel handle. The entire handle looked like this from end to end.
Exhibit B: Muddy Shovel & Gloves

And the conclusion?
Exhibit C: Plants in Rain Garden!
Finally, a month after getting our rain garden plants, I started planting some of them. I got 8 out of 16 in the ground today.

I’m not very good with plants generally, but I was very careful to follow the planting directions: For each plant, I dug a nice big hole, built a mound, spread the root ball (as best I could; many of the pots were partially frozen) around the mound, filled in the hole with the remaining dirt, and then built a little berm around each one to help retain water. I did not water copiously as directed, because there was standing water where I was planting and the ground was saturated already. I also used the native soil from the pot first, and then filled in with our rain garden soil.

I hope it wasn’t too late in the year to plant. They should get plenty of water the rest of the winter, anyway. I hope the plants survive. I feel oddly attached to those scrawny, leafless little twigs.

Rain Garden Work Party 3: DONE

Day’s Verse:
Here is a simple, rule-of-thumb guide for behavior: Ask yourself what you want people to do for you, then grab the initiative and do it for them.
Matthew 7:12



May my back one day learn to forgive me. Yet another Saturday sacrificed to the yard, and it was sunny and 60°, too, perfect for riding — and for moving dirt. Ah well, what’s yet another Saturday off the bike? (Excuse my bitterness; any ride tomorrow looks rainy. I missed my chance.)

A million thanks to Jane, who came back again and who made finishing today possible. And kudos to Ian, who has worked like a slave on a project I dreamed up and he wasn’t so sure about.

Of course “done” and “finish” imply that we don’t have any more work to do on this. That, unfortunately, is fallacious. We still have to purchase and plant the plants, and our rain garden handbook, which has an example very like our situation, indicates we’re talking 200 – 250 plants. But I’m going to worry about that another day. Today, we’re going to savor the sweet taste of a mulch-less driveway and a gorgeously mulched pond area.

Rain Garden Work Party 2

Day’s Verse:
By the seventh day
God had finished his work.
On the seventh day
he rested from all his work.

Genesis 2:2-ish

Calling this a “work party” is too grand, really, as the group comprised entirely family and Karissa… and the excavator, of course. Most of the time it was just three or four of us working our tails off.

Here’s a summary picture.
Rain Garden Couple
(I know, I’m missing a rake, but we were tired enough that thinking to do this at all seemed pretty clever.)

For those with short attention spans, here’s where we started at the very beginning, last Saturday morning.
Early On 1

Early On 2

Here’s what we had achieved when we stopped this afternoon.
Late Sunday 1
Notice that some of the French drain is done, and we’ve got sod back on top. This is super exciting. I know your average macho guy would say, “Yeah, well, I could do the entire French drain in one day, what’s the big deal?” To that I would reply, “SHUT UP,” and leave it at that. Not eloquent, but there it is. We’re doing our best and we’re not exactly overwhelmed with offers of help.

Late Sunday 2
I’d like to point out that we have actually begun putting dirt back in the hole we dug. This is huge. Simply excavating the hole — using a mini-excavator! — took all day yesterday. Today involved a fair bit of cleaning up the rough hole so it had smooth, evenly angled sides. But now we’ve gotten almost 12″ of mulch + native soil mix into the pond area. Woo!

Check under the fold for more details. Continue reading “Rain Garden Work Party 2”

Calling 811

Day’s Verse:
“You’re blessed when you can show people how to cooperate instead of compete or fight. That’s when you discover who you really are, and your place in God’s family.”
Matthew 5:9

Since we’re going to be using an excavator next weekend, I decided it was probably a good idea to call 811 and have them mark the buried lines in our back yard. I’m fairly sure there’s nothing back there, but it’s better to be actually sure. This does seem to be a “shutting the barn door after the horse is gone” situation, since we already dug the French drain trench without checking; applying another idiom, though, “better late than never.”

So I called 811. First thing you hear is an automated message: “You have reached 811. If you meant to call 911, please hang up and try again.” How disappointing would it be to try to call for emergency services, and end up having somebody asking where you’re going to be digging?

Not long after, they had another recorded menu that started with, “If this is an emergency, press 9.” I struggled to imagine an emergency situation such that you’d call 811 and then press 9, but I mostly failed. The only thing I came up with was a gas leak scenario like the one in Seattle on Monday, but in that case it seems like you’d know to call — oh, say, actual 911 and/or your gas company.

Anyway, later in the call, I got yet another recorded message: “The center experiences extremely high call volumes on Mondays. If you are calling at the beginning of the week, you may experience longer-than-normal hold times.” It sounds like long wait times are normal if it’s so predictable they include a pre-recorded warning about it. Just a thought.

Eventually I did work my way through the abundance of automated menus to speak to a real person, and got everything set up. (The person was in Wisconsin — I know because I asked. She sounded so monotonal and bored when she first answered that I felt bad, as if the job was turning her into a robot. While her computer worked, I chatted with her about the weather in Wisconsin and asked if she dreamed about asking call center questions, all in an attempt to help her break from the tedium of asking the same thing over and over again, ad nauseum. When we finished, I told her she had done an excellent job and it had been a wonderful call, and she hung up with a smile in her voice.)

For a while, though, I was afraid that I’d entered a Prairie Home Companion On Hold experience. Tarantula!

Rain Garden Nerdiness and CX Races

Day’s Verse:
“You’re blessed when you’re content with just who you are—no more, no less. That’s the moment you find yourselves proud owners of everything that can’t be bought.”
Matthew 5:5

This morning, I could barely get out of bed, I was so sore from the digging yesterday. You name it, I swear it hurt. My back and legs felt like somebody had beaten them, hard. I wouldn’t’ve been surprised to see bruises — it feels like that, anyway. I think it’ll take my back a long time to return to the normal level of discomfort.

So, I think we’ve firmly established one thing we are not good at: manual labor.

But we ARE good at nerdiness. Thus, I offer you a chart of our ditch depth. The blue line shows what the ditch would look like from the side, if we could see it in cross-section. The red line indicates 22″, our goal depth.

Depth Chart

Ian calculated that we removed about 80% of the dirt that needs moving, or, put another way, we have 20% of the ditch digging left. That 80% works out to be about 62 cubic feet of dirt moved yesterday.

Doggone it. And I have to write off next Saturday for cycling, too (apparently I missed a really great ride to Leavenworth yesterday — argh!).

On the bright side, today I got to go watch the cyclocross (from here out abbreviated CX) races at Marymoor, with church squeezed in. Spectating at the races was a lot of fun, and I even got my own free cowbell to ring at future races. Cowbells are a feature of cheering at CX races, and I love it. Of course, I love anything that lets me make lots of noise… Anyway, I saw I think four or five racers that I knew on the field, and got to hang out with Dean and Team Pedal Dynamics under their tent during the windy/rainy part of the afternoon.

In general the atmosphere at CX races is really enjoyable — everybody seems pretty relaxed, out to race but more importantly have fun. The courses are very spectator-friendly and they’re closer in to where people live, so spouses and kids come to cheer, which adds a really fun dynamic. There are races for kids, too. Plus, you get to see racers exhibiting great (or terrible) bike handling skills. My favorite part is watching them dismount and remount at the barriers. Here’s how not to do it.

For the record, here’s how to do it.

Some people have encouraged me to try CX racing. Although I like watching it, my bike handling skills are so abysmal, I think it would not go at all well. Truth be told, off-road riding scares the crap out of me. SO, I’m keeping my two wheels firmly on asphalt for now, thanks very much.

Rain Garden Work Party 1

Day’s Verse:
God doesn’t come and go. God lasts.
He’s Creator of all you can see or imagine.
He doesn’t get tired out, doesn’t pause to catch his breath.

Isaiah 40:30-ish

I was absurdly overoptimistic in thinking we’d be able to get those piles off our driveway today. I have to laugh at myself, in retrospect, so naively expecting to have just a few people — almost all women, none extremely athletic — dig a 50-foot long, 22-inch deep trench, plus a 25-square-foot, 2.5-foot-deep pond; finish the French drain; and set up the dirt for the pond. HA!

Not that I’d rate today as a failure at all. No, I’d say it was a huge success. We all worked incredibly hard and did amazing work. Instead of using words, I resort once again to pictures. For those with short attention spans, I offer the before and after pictures. Beneath the fold are more pictures.

BEFORE (actually, people had already been at work for a good half hour already):
Early On 1

Early On 2

End of Day 1

End of Day 2

A huge thank-you to everybody who came and helped dig today. It was really, really hard work, and we couldn’t have done it without you.

More pictures of us working hard beneath the fold. Continue reading “Rain Garden Work Party 1”

Picture This

Day’s Verse:
There’s an opportune time to do things, a right time for everything on the earth: … A right time to destroy and another to construct…
Ecclesiastes 3:1,3b

$400 worth of dirt and rocks.
$400 of Dirt & Rocks
Boy do I hope that tomorrow we get enough digging done in the back yard to get our driveway back. For reference, that’s 4 yards of Pacific Garden Mulch and 3 yards of 1 1/4-inch drain rock from Pacific Topsoils. I’ll add that I had an excellent customer experience with the Pacific Topsoils people, and I’ll certainly go back to them for our future dirt/rock needs.

20 lbs of honeycrisp apples.
20 lbs of Honeycrisp Apples
We are going to use our dehydrator to convert this large box of apples into a very tiny volume of apple chips, which we’ll consume in a matter of days.

NaNoWriMo 2011 research.
NaNoWriMo 2011 Research
I have a decent idea that I’m excited to pursue as a legitimate, non-sarcastic, non-parody novel. Of course, I’m counting on having time to write this November. If I actually get some OSPI teaching work (har har), that might make NaNoWriMo difficult. But I can always do it in December, or any other arbitrary period of 30 days. This stack of books comes to me courtesy of research librarian Michael, at the Bellevue Regional Library, who put them all on hold for me after reading a description and question I emailed to KCLS. I love it when my tax dollars are at work for me.

The bike ride Dad and I did today.

We’ll be digging ditches and ponds in my back yard tomorrow, and Sunday is church, which equals a weekend with NO BIKE RIDING*. Happily, Dad has loads of vacation time and could take Friday off for bike riding. And the weather cooperated, giving us a very warm, sunny, windy day. And today is what I think of as Flipover Day, more officially known as autumnal equinox, so it’s amazing to be worrying about overheating.

*This is probably the first such weekend in 8 or 9 months. I’ll hardly know what to do.