May 18, 2009

The Whole Nine Yards

When we moved into our house two years ago, we inherited a beautifully landscaped yard and a lot of pressure. We bought the house from the original owners who'd hand-selected the best lot when the neighborhood was just being built. They also started the neighborhood garden club. Our track records - which included killing unkillable ivy and murdering our former postage stamp-sized yard - paled in comparison. But, while there are weeds, it still looks pretty damn good if I do say so myself. However it needed a little rehab. This was the weekend we performed it.

The first step? A trip to the nursery on Saturday morning. Mia helped me load up two ginormous carts while Owen was our trip's goodwill ambassador. He said hi to everyone. And everyone said hi right back. We left the nursery with, seemingly, half it's contents and a trail of Owen admirers. Perhaps we bought a little too much. I had to share the front seat with a big-ass azalea while Beth drove us home. Halfway through the ride, I got Beth's attention, looked down and said, wow, I really need to trim my bush. I am 12. And very mature.

We bought 7 azaleas, 2 cacti, 2 large gold Euonymus, one variegated dwarf boxleaf Euonymus, one Japanese variegated Euonymus, and various vegetable plants (squash, zucchini, regular tomato, heirloom tomato, jalapeno, cucumber).

On Saturday afternoon, I learned that it takes about three and a half hours to do our lawn properly. And by properly I mean without crapping out after hour two, throwing up my hands and saying fuck it loudly enough so the neighbors think I'm a raving lunatic while letting the grass continue to overrun the driveway, flowerbeds and sidewalks. I also learned that accidentally weed-whacking one's ankles hurts. A lot. Especially when you do it twice.

On Sunday morning, Monkey Boy, The Bean and I let Beth sleep. We went out for doughnuts. When I was unloading the car, Owen followed Mia into the kitchen, closed the door then locked it. Awesome. There's a skill I've been eager for him to learn. Mia was able to let me in. But then she punched me in the balls. So Sunday was a mixed bag.

How about you? What did you guys do? And how green are your thumbs?

Posted by Chris at May 18, 2009 6:40 AM

I have a vivid memory of standing outside my dad's Honda freaking out because my(one year old?) little brother had locked himself in the car. We kept trying to get him to reach over and pull up the lock but he would get scared and cry, so then I would get scared and cry and I'm pretty sure my dad was contemplating shooting himself in the head until my mom came home with the spare key.

You gotta work on Mia with that punching thing. Unless you're hoping it will keep up when she's a teenager and turn it on potential boyfriends.

Posted by: tutugirl1345 at May 18, 2009 7:10 AM

I went to the Millbrook (NY) Book Festival where I was on a panel with some really cool authors. I always dread going to these things, and then I have fun and think I should get out more.

Speaking of balls, I threw 500 tennis balls for my black Lab, Jett. I always thought she was a purebred, but she only brought back 250 of the balls, so I'm thinking maybe she's only half retriever. Guess who has to pick up the rest?

Let's see... I know there's one more thing. Oh yeah -- I finished the first draft of my fourth book and pdf'd it to my editor.

Posted by: Marshall Karp at May 18, 2009 7:17 AM

Now, see, if your country played *proper* football, you'd know all about shinpads. Ideal for strimming (that's the proper term for weed-whacking).

OK, before you decry my English-ness here's a ball story. And a reason never to cross my girlfriend. She's got a younger brother and sister - twins. One day, the brother annoyed two sisters as brothers are wont to do (apparently - I'm an only child).

The sisters' response was to hold him down and kick him in the cubes. Hard. So hard, in fact, that mother queried at bathtime where his pills had gone as she was sure they'd dropped.

Cue one doctor's visit and then an operation to have his testicles re-descended and stitched to his thighs.

I love my girlfriend. I daren't not.

Posted by: Mosh at May 18, 2009 7:22 AM

I have a black thumb - hence why we have no landscaping. We pay someone to mow the yard (and bushhog the pasture on occasion) and I always admire people who actually have yards and landscaping and flowers and plants etc. Everyone says it's easy but that's like me saying: well baking a souffle is easy. It's easy for me because I have done it 8000 times. It's not easy for everyone else. I really hate smug gardening types. My weekend? I wrote. A lot. (Apparently like father like daughter although I didn't finish a book or anything.) And totally vegged which I totally needed because I worked last weekend.

Posted by: Country Girl at May 18, 2009 7:31 AM

That's pretty rough about Mia and your balls :P
I'm glad you got some cacti because it'd be just wrong if you didn't ;)

Posted by: Heather at May 18, 2009 7:48 AM

So, Monkey Boy, is that catching on as his nickname?

Posted by: k8 at May 18, 2009 8:45 AM

While I don't qualify as one of 'those guys' who take their yards so seriously that they practically make love to it on the weekends, I do take it seriously enough to keep everything looking green and mowed and lovely; a nice lawn is a big deal to me. I'll be planting a bunch of blueberry bushes soon and some roses, but that's the extent of my thumb's green-itude.

Posted by: You can call me, 'Sir' at May 18, 2009 8:52 AM

We spent a wonderful weekend out at a lake house, complete with John Deere Gator to drive around, a paddleboat, and fishing. Very good times had by all. Exhausting, too.

Posted by: Brad at May 18, 2009 9:16 AM

"But then she punched me in the balls. So Sunday was a mixed bag."
I'm dying of laughter over here.
Happy Monday!

Posted by: Wack-a-do at May 18, 2009 9:18 AM

Although I live in a townhouse and we have an association that does our landscaping, I did pull out some shrubs (more like pricker bushes) with my car. They were some stubborn bushes that for sure, but I did prevail and now I have pretty yarrow plants which do not cut up my hands when I pull weeds :D

Posted by: Michelle aka Tortellina Temptress at May 18, 2009 9:20 AM

Our dept head locked himself out on his 2nd floor balcony one morning. He had to shimmy down to the 1st floor deck, then drop down from that to the ground and run around to the front of his building (he lives in a townhouse/condo) for his spare key. While wearing nothing but underwear.

This weekend we had a surprise out of town guest, so I spent the weekend keeping him entertained. We did Kundalini yoga, went to a Greek festival, nommed some good food, did some shopping, and just generally chilled.

Posted by: Sparkle Pants at May 18, 2009 9:52 AM

Have you tried growing vegetables? I look at plants and flowers and they wither and die. I'm doing okay (so far) with tomatoes, peppers, etc.

I did laundry and watered my vegetable garden. Exciting, no?

Posted by: MariaV at May 18, 2009 9:54 AM

I spent just about all day on Saturday working on our garden, and it isn't even that big. The weeds just went nuts this year, I guess because of all of the rain. I've also discovered a muscle in my back that I didn't even know existed.

My front garden usually turns out pretty well, mostly because it is shady and I just fill in annuals around the well planned perennial garden that was there when we bought the place. Unfortunately, I've killed an impressive number of plants over the last four summers in the back garden.

Posted by: bad penguin at May 18, 2009 10:10 AM

We had a productive yard weekend as well.. I think I can relate to your postage stamp sized yard you used to have.. only difference is that ours is on a hill. :)

But my thumb gets greener every year.
Saturday we dumped a yard of black soil into our new veggie garden that we built into the hill. Moved our 1/2 whiskey barrels that were on top of the hill to the bottom of the hill, planted an herb garden in one and cauliflower in the other, Moved the raspberries around on top of the hill to cover up the giant dirt spot that the barrels left.. :p.

We also reconstructed our gutter system in the front yard to run into our rain barrel we picked up LAST year and never did anything with. Now I'm just waiting for it to rain, so I can see how it works!!

I am bummed because I didn't get a chance to work in the flower garden.. Fortunately all of my perennials from last year popped up again, and some are even blooming! :) Maybe I'll get to that this week.

Chores that are leftover for tonight: Put up my green house, and actually get the veggie garden seeded!

Posted by: Molly at May 18, 2009 10:38 AM

hehe, you said mixed BAG hehe hehe hehe.

I have not successfully planted anything, ever!

Posted by: Jeff A at May 18, 2009 10:51 AM

I spent the weekend in Chicago - which was lovely and fabulous because I LOVE CHICAGO and I love big cities and it was nice to be somewhere different. I took a ton of photographs and a ton of video that I have INTENTIONS of editing into some cool like thing. Eventually.

Also: I kill plants. We have beautiful grass and one rhododendron bush. We have the least landscaping of our whole neighborhood. I just don't want to spend my time messing with it - it's not what I enjoy.

Posted by: Sarah at May 18, 2009 11:23 AM

We're pretty handy with gardening. Years of trial and error and routinely killing things tends to do that. We stick with what works well.

Happy Monday. We got locked out of our garage twice right after we moved in. We have a key code lock on the garage door now.

We can never just buy a few plants either. We buy enough to spend most of the weekend planting when we go to the nursery.

Major landscaping job should be done at our home by the end of the week. We hired a landscape designer to rip out everything in the back yard, but one tree at the new home. We have no privacy and a short 3-4 foot split rail fence. All we had to work with was a few bushes, some ugly plants and a badly designed sprinkler system.

Posted by: One Mom's Opinion at May 18, 2009 11:30 AM

I love the "get your fingernails dirty and get a hernia while you're at it" work in the yard. We don't mess around with no namby-pamby shrubs though, every year our project is digging a new 4x4x4' hole and planting a tree with a huge root-ball. One year we planted 2 Colorado Blue Spruce trees, and after muscling one of them into its hole we couldn't stand it up straight (since it weighed a million lbs), so we had to back the car onto the yard and tie 3 or 4 straps to the root ball and position it via prybar, 2x4, and gas engine.

You really appreciate the tree in years to come when you have a story to tell about its planting!

Posted by: Jennifer at May 18, 2009 12:28 PM

My weekend started Friday night, I babysat from 8:30 pm - 1:00 am. Darn those obligations.

On Saturday took the car in for an oil change, had to replace the cabin air filter, there was a dead mouse in there. Eeww. That means I have been wrongly accusing the brats of leaving food in the car for a few weeks. In there words, "oops. my bad."

Then we went an babysat for 2 hours, went to the sister-in-laws where the kids in the infinite wisdom locked the keys in the car. While waiting on Triple A, wrote my debut book review. Went to a friends. Got home late.

Sunday, was laundry and packing for the upcoming BIG TRIP.

As for the growng of life. Nope I've got the Black Thumb of Death. Somedays I wish it would work on people.

OMG.....way to go excited to hear about the PDF.

Posted by: debb at May 18, 2009 12:35 PM

You bought a cactus?

Pleae post a pic! And hey, that means I can say Happy Cactus Monday!!!

Posted by: jessica at May 18, 2009 1:51 PM

Three and a half hours of lawn care? Weed whacking ankles? Thanks for reminding me of the one thing I love about condo living, landscapers!

Posted by: Colleen B at May 18, 2009 2:40 PM

In addition to Beast, we also call our son Monkey Boy. Funny. This weekend my daughter had her ballet/tap recital so we spent most of Saturday doing that. Sunday was nice and relaxing. We dubbed it Margarita Madness, made virgin ones for the kids with lemonade, took naps, did some shopping, enjoyed a nice dinner, and just relaxed. Very peaceful.

Posted by: Sarah at May 18, 2009 4:57 PM

Whenever I bring any sort of plant home, my smart-ass husband immediately apologizes to it for the impending slow death sentence that it received upon said purchase by moi.
He's right of course, I do unintentionally kill them all, but I persevere and try with new ones. Hmm, now I'm thinking of that quote about the definition of stupidity is to do the same thing repeatedly, yet expect different results........

Posted by: LaineyDid at May 18, 2009 5:39 PM

I aged one more year

Posted by: Dee at May 18, 2009 6:53 PM

Well, The Man does the garden work. My thumb black.

Cactus? for outside? Cool.

Posted by: Nat at May 18, 2009 8:22 PM

My thumb is sooo NOT green! I've killed ivy twice. I give. I have someone do my lawn and I just pay him. I don't dare plant anything.

This weekend? I had 6th row center stage seats for The Color Purple in Durham, NC. Incredible show. If the national tour comes your way, see it! You'll be so happy you did.

Posted by: coolchick at May 18, 2009 8:35 PM

On Saturday I went to a very strange family party where many things got broken and one person puked. On Sunday I went to a parade where people wrote on my face unexpectedly. As for my thumbs, I wish they were green, but I can't even get simple planting projects with the little kids... like grass seed and junk... to grow!!!

Posted by: Nicki at May 18, 2009 11:39 PM

O man you just made me chuckle with the punching in the balls comment. My 4 year old is the master of the grazing hit that takes about 5 seconds to realize it's going to hurt.

Posted by: Rex at May 19, 2009 12:11 PM

We had a yard filled weekend as well. First mowing of the season front and back (this is South Dakota, we just got rid of snow!), weed whacking, and general neatening up. We moved the kid's swing set and playhouse to be more kid friendly, but less aesthetically appealing. Then we planted our garden- tomatoes, heirloom tomatoes, grape tomatoes, various peppers, zucchinis, cucumbers, okra, red onion.

Posted by: Lisa at May 19, 2009 3:04 PM

Man! This is how I know I am nowhere near ready for children, and also why I like to live vicariously through stories like yours. My wife and I have a condo with a 5 X 5 patio. We have three plants out there that we forget to water all the time...I can't even imagine having to take care of a whole garden. Major props to you, man.

Posted by: Chino at May 19, 2009 8:06 PM

Over the past year or so, I've learned that I have a fairly green thumb. At least as far as plants and flowers that are planted outside go. Inside plants? Not so much.

Anyway, this past weekend, I got my front flowerbeds planted with impatiens and geraniums amongst the already large hostas and day lilies. It was this past weekend or not at all -- as I had back surgery on Wednesday. The garden will be planted by my dad, brother, and husband... hopefully within the next week or so.

I keep things simple in the yard so it doesn't look like I have murdered anything if it doesn't go well. I think that's what it's all about -- simplicity.

Posted by: ironic1 at May 21, 2009 6:24 PM