Sunday, August 26, 2012


Well, today went a little differently than I thought it would when I rolled out of bed this morning. I was up rather earlier than I am on a weekend, and raring to go. My goals were to:
- plant a peony that's been living in a bucket for far too long
- buy some fabric to modify my dress (I'm thinking of adding some coordinating side panels so that my belly-fat isn't so obvious... other options are buy a new dress, or buy spanx)
- buy some wood to make the raised garden beds I've been planning
- buy groceries

I was initially going to plant the peony first, but, since I know I can get a bit carried away while gardening, I thought perhaps I should shower & go to the fabric store first, since it doesn't stay open very late. After my shower, I watered my plants, trimmed the dead lobelia out of my hanging basket (it suffered from my inattention to watering, but the other two plants are still hanging in there), loaded dirty dishes into the dishwasher (I was a bit lazy the past few days), and flipped through this week's flyers so that I could get them into the recycling.

While I was doing this, Dad showed up. (He had arranged with the neighbour who owns a bobcat to get the lathe from the garage into the truck.) I sat with him while he ate lunch, and then decided to do gardening while he was here, since I figured I'd see more of him that way, and the store would still be open by the time he left.

Before I tackled the peony, I finally got around to putting those weeds from a few weeks back into a trash can. (Yeah, I've been lazy.)

Prior to dad showing up, the three trash cans contained only one bag of kitchen trash. (Okay, technically I didn't put it in there until after he arrived, even though I had put the bag by the back door last night or the night before... did I mention that I was lazy the past couple of days? I blame my lingering gastroenteritis.) Since that weekend I did all the weeding, I've only had one small bag per week. This week? Why does it all happen at once? But I'm getting ahead of myself...

First off, the weeds from the other week filled one trash can. Oh... there was also a few things from near the big pile of weeds. For some reason, I went over by the blackberries, and noticed that one (which turned out to be several) of the canes had decided to grow *into* the air conditioner, between the outer cover and the cooling fins:
Although I hadn't planned on extracting blackberries from the AC unit, I didn't think this was something I wanted to put off. There ended up being at least four canes growing into the unit, plus one virginia creeper vine. Argh. The canes themselves were easy to pull out, but then I had to get the rest of the leaves (as much as I could, at least) out with a pair of needle nosed pliers. (At some point I should probably go out with a wrench and a vacuum cleaner, take the cover off, and properly clean the fins... but not today.) The blackberries also had a cane growing up the downspout:
*Why*, with all the other places they could grow, are the canes *trying* to grow into dark crevices?!? *sigh*

Dad got me to help him take the extension ladder out of the garage (so that he could open the garage door where the lathe was), so, since the backyard was an obstacle course of dad's junk, I asked him to take the trash can from where I had put it while filling it with weeds (and blackberry canes) to the pick-up spot beside the garage in the back lane.

I guess because he then had to use that gate, he commented that the raspberries needed tying up. I knew that they did (they grew quite a bit since I last tied them up), and had been planning on getting to them after the peony, but decided to do them next. Didn't I do a lovely job of this spot?:
(I forgot to take a "before" photo... partially because this wasn't what I had intended on doing.) Not only did I tie up the canes, but I also got my broom out and swept up the pine needles, and pulled some of the weeds beside the sidewalk. Since I had the broom out, I also swept the other side of the gate, shovelled the avalanche of pine needles off of the pad, and scraped them back from the edge of the dirt area:
Since there are no "before" photos, you'll just have to take my word for it that this is an *amazing* improvement.

When I went to throw out the stuff accumulated from dealing with that section of raspberries, I noticed that there were now only two garbage cans beside the garage, despite dad having brought the one full of weeds. Hmmm... looks like dad will be throwing out some stuff from the garage (a good thing), but that means I only have the smallest one left for anything I produce from now until Wednesday, when the next pick-up is. Normally, that wouldn't be a problem, but I tend to fill trash cans while gardening. (All those weeds that have gone to seed, branches that would take too long to compost, etc.) Oh well... I can always use trash bags, or just leave weeds in a pile for the next pick-up, like I did that last time. :P

So, I spent the next while working on the raspberry canes between the parking pad and the back lane, which also needed tying up.

After the lathe was loaded in the truck (plus the "workbench" dad got on freecycle, yay!), I ended up talking with dad and the neighbour for a bit. Dad remembered that the neighbour had finished his own concrete for his garage, and so was thinking we could hire him to do that job when we concrete the back parking pad. The neighbour was a bit skeptical about concreting the pad. After dad left, I talked with the neighbour some more. Before I continue, here's a bit of background on the back parking area: once upon a time, the area was gravel. After my parents divorced (I'm pretty sure it was after), my dad got motivated to concrete the pad, probably because it tended to be quite weedy. He had someone dig down quite a ways and (he says, could be) had 6" of 3/4" gravel dumped in the hole. However, (a), he didn't put any membrane between the dirt and the gravel, and (b), he figured the cars parking on it would compact the gravel, and so he could skip that labour. Um, no: Dad always parked in exactly the same spot, and so ended up with deep ruts under his truck wheels, and the gravel and mud probably got rather churned together. Back to the present: when the neigbour was driving the bobcat on the gravel, it moved a *lot*, indicating it was *not* going to provide a proper support for a concrete pad, and the pad would just end up cracking in a few years. (Thus flushing the money for rebar and concrete down the drain, plus I'd have to pay for someone to break up and haul away the concrete, since concrete with rebar can't be taken to the dump for free.) Since the bobcat was there anyway, my neighbour scraped down a bit to see just how much gravel there was, and how it was holding up. Turns out there's pockets of mud (as expected) in the gravel:
Neighbour's suggestion: dig down 12", put down a membrane, start with broken concrete chunks (which are cheap, and will interlock), put limestone gravel down on top of that (we might be able to salvage some of what is there), pack it *properly*, then put pavers on top. Dad isn't a fan of pavers, saying they move. Neighbour says that they won't, if the foundation is done correctly. However, the base for both would be basically the same, so I'm getting him to write up a proposal (with options) that I can present to dad. (If *I* say it, he'll think he knows more than me. If I come with the contractor neighbour's proposal, and break in the idea over time, I think I have a shot.) At any rate, the neighbour has said he'd give me a good rate, I've seen that he's done good work at his place, and I can always just park on the base for a bit (with a bit of extra gravel at the back lane edge, of course, so that I can get in and out of course) until things are more decided. Also, the neighbour put the gravel back level enough that I'll be able to park there for the winter, which is what I want for the short term anyway. (Depending on the numbers the neighbour comes back with, I may start the work this fall, or I may wait until next summer, when I have more savings. I've let him know this.)
Upside of playing with the gravel: a bunch of the weeds got chewed up. ;)

After he left, I went back to tying up raspberries. (How did that get to be such a big job?!?) Here's the tied up raspberries by the trash cans:
(Dad left me a bit of space in the third trash can, and now all three are full to the top.) Here are the canes beside the parking pad:
I still have more to tie up... but I ran out of the scraps of kitchen cotton I had outside, and decided to leave the rest until another time, possibly tomorrow. (Depends... I still need groceries, and I really should do that tomorrow, given what I'm out of and low on.)

However, while I was trimming the broken canes (argh, who keeps breaking them!?!!?), I discovered:
Looks like I have raspberry cane borers. (And the broken canes were probably their fault.) That would also explain why so few canes survived last winter. Of course, I only discovered this near the end of my time outside, plus I didn't know the correct course of action until after I came inside to google, so dealing with them properly (cutting damaged canes and burning them) will have to wait. (I'm going to leave the ones in the trash cans there, but new cuttings will get burned in the fireplace in the back yard that dad hasn't removed yet, using firewood also left behind... and the ashes will be helpful in treating the highly acidic bed piled deep with pine needles. Win-win-win: borers burned, more ashes for the garden, and less firewood lying around.)

Also on my to-do list, but not on the high priority list for today: weeding my tiny patch that has garlic, onions, and a few other things planted.
Since I wasn't planning on doing this tonight (by the time I ran out of string, I was feeling dehydrated and hungry), also no "before" photo. But, while I went past it, I figured I'd pull a few weeds.. and ended up pulling this whole pile:
(Behind the post... in front of the post is more stuff that needs pulling.) Again, you'll just have to trust me that it looks better than before. And, since my trash cans are already full, I just left that pile where it was. :P

Also discovered and tackled:
When dad moved a piece of his crap from beside the garage (yay, another piece left! ...I think), the neighbour noticed that wasps had started building a nest behind it, in a crevice between the trim and siding on the garage. I used some of the expired wasp spray dad had bought. Dad (previously): "they were clearing it out cheap!" Me (today, in my head): "...uh yeah.... that's because it expired in 1998, and the aerosol has pretty much all escaped..." However, it had just enough oomph to escape the can, and that's all that was needed in this case. The way the wasps reacted, I think it was still poisonous to them. I'll check again later, when I think of it, just in case.

To finish off tonight's post, a very clean deck screw:
This deck screw is not remarkable because of it's cleanliness... that can be explained by the fact that it accidentally went through the wash. What *is* remarkable about it is that there should have been *two* deck screws. (There were two left over from what I had borrowed from my uncle's supply in the garage, and I was intending to return, but had apparently forgotten in a pocket of my grub shorts.) I cannot find the other deck screw in the washer or the dryer. How does a 2.5" deck screw disappear? (It's not in any of my pockets either.) So far I haven't discovered any new holes in my clothes as a result of this misadventure... but then, I still need to actually *fold* my clean laundry.

Okay... off to fold the laundry, make the bed, and go to sleep. (How did it get to be so late?!?)

PS: The peony is still waiting to be planted.

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