Tuesday, September 13, 2016

I survived the summer

What a great summer it was.  I looked after my two grandsons who live nearby all summer long.  Each week we did both routine activities and special adventures, had lessons in cooking, art, and science, practiced math and did reading every single day, and ended up having just a memorable time.

Of course, I had good intentions for keeping up on housework and yardwork, but it was really all I could do to just maintain some semblance of order in the house.  At the same time I spent some evenings and weekends helping my daughter with her new yard and home, and lending support to my friend who downsized from her big home to a condo.  I was busy.  But happy.

In August, my high school graduating class had its 50th reunion.  I had not intended to go, but after much encouragement from my closest friend (friends since we were 8 years old), and many classmates, I did attend after all.  It was two events over two evenings and in the end I was glad to have had the chance to see so many people I hadn't seen in years -- most since graduation.  Here's a very poor picture.  I guess we should all be grateful you can't see us very well.  Haha! You might be able to find me with my three best old friends.  See the four guys standing in front to the right side as you look at the picture? Look behind the fourth guy in and you will see on either side behind him Celia (in white), Sally (in navy), continuing looking left it's me (in tan), and next to me, darling red-headed Sherry. 

Once the grandkids went back to school, I became committed to getting all caught up on yard, house, projects, and even fall cleanup.  Yes, I resorted to my lists, and I have been following them faithfully.  Until this week, that is.  I woke up Monday morning with such a feeling of ennui.  My house was super clean from my flurry of activity for the past two weeks.  My yard was decent, but needing some more weeding.  I had even completed a number of items from my one-day project list and was following my daily self-care list faithfully.  It's almost as if I became TOO productive for awhile.  I wasn't taking any time for fun except to watch Netflix.  And I was so devoted to the lists and knocking items off, I began to have a hard time sleeping due to thinking about plans for tomorrow.  So I have slacked off for two days now and just enjoyed the cooler weather and the peace and serenity of my home and surroundings with my sweet little dog.

Of all my lists this year, I have been most devoted to my "Kind Self Care".  I have managed to lose some weight and hope to continue. I've achieved 20 percent of that goal so it's coming off slowly but surely.  I've ticked off the items on the list each day, looking after not only my physical health, but my appearance and my attitude.  My emphasis has been on being kind to myself.  No more guilt and berating for not adhering strictly 100 percent of the time.  There are no failures. But there are sometimes pauses in my efforts. 

So this is just a little pause.  I'll take up my goals again tomorrow and focus on outside things.  My list told me to clean house yesterday and today, but I refuse to pretend to clean a house that's already clean!  Sometimes I follow the plan and sometimes I ignore the list.

But all is well.  I survived the summer.  Things are moving along.  I'm still uninterested in blogging much, but will continue to check in here once in while.

Saturday, June 11, 2016

2016 Spring -- What I've Been Up To

I've not posted in quite awhile, but I've been busy. Alberto's crew was just here for the spring cleanup,and they did a really fabulous job.  The yard isn't terribly colorful at this moment.  The earlier spring blooms have faded and are ready for dead-heading.  The mid-summer blooms are just barely starting to show.  But even so, the yard is pretty and lush.

I took a bunch of photos today despite it being cloudy (and has now started raining).  I want to use this post as a pictorial reminder of the things I want to tweak in the fall and spring.  The thing most needed is moving plants to a better location.  I am adding notes with each photo to help me later.

As for me, I've been seriously focusing on self-care, or "kind" self-care, as I like to call it.  I read some of Anne Lamott's ideas on radical self-care, and at first I was taking that approach as well. But for me, the word "radical" felt too militant and forceful.  What I thought I needed was self-care with a lot of TLC.  I am seeing real results in my efforts.  I feel better, I look better, I am happier, and I have more energy to do the things I need to do.  I realize more than ever before, that I need to take care of myself first.  It doesn't mean I don't do what's needed to help my family and friends.  It only means that if I neglect myself in the process, I not only harm my own health and well-being, I'm not really able to give the time and effort needed to help those who depend on me.

Changes eventually become new habits.  And you're never too old to change.  When I want to change something specific, I set some short-term goals to focus on just that one thing while not neglecting my other newly-formed habits.  So change is gradual.  But at some point you surprise yourself with where you are overall.  I'll say I'm happy to be where I am but I'm not finished yet.  This year will continue to be the year of Kind Self-Care.

And now for the photos of the yard.  The photos start at the back patio and make a circuit of the entire yard with some commentary.
Starting at the patio looking to the backyard, I like how they cut the vines back to the retaining block wall. I still have patio cleanup to do myself.
The shade garden has plenty of plants but is slow growing this year. It was a cool wet May, but the new warmer weather will get things moving.  Only thing to do in the fall is remove remaining iris plants.

This shade garden needs more. Right now I have some pots of volunteer plants ready to pot somewhere else.  I added petunias, but I don't think I get enough sun for them to thrive.  So more shade-friendly plants are needed. Favorite new plant here is a bellflower.

This middle upper level is fine. I won't plant anything here. I have a project for those bricks in the foreground.

Oriental poppies were glorious here for a couple of weeks, but gone now. That iris in the front needs moved to the back. I had started some Mexican sunflowers at the back from seed, but Alberto's guys tore them out thinking they were weeds. I'll try again and see what I can get this year.  There is a cone flower here that needs to be moved.

Still need to get rid of that old grill.  I tried taking it apart, but the bolts are rusted tight.  We have extra trash pickups throughout the summer and I'll try again to get rid of this.

I lost one of these small trees in the winter which opened up the upper backyard a bit and made it sunnier.  I have water coverage on some of this ground, so I want to add some of my perennials here and maybe some large grasses.

A gopher tried to kill the ornamental pear third in this line. I've braced it with a rock and am trying to save it.  I'm diligently watching for new gopher mounds and applying smoke bombs to the burrows, which seems to work well.

A view looking down the steps where a little Frankie looks for gophers in the vines.

The upper corner garden is about as nice as it's ever been. I will have color all summer long here.  The ajuga along the front are transplants from elsewhere.  They took well, and I'll add more all along that edge.  I need to move the white salvia that's hidden behind the large coreopsis.  I have added a dozen small zinnias for summer color.  I'd like to find a perennial to replace those.  For now, I handwater the zinnias because they need more water than the perennials.

Gopher mound, grrr!  Right in the middle of my beautiful corner garden.  I applied a smoke bomb today.  Hope it works.

Love this pink salvia.  I think I'll repeat this along the long east side of the yard.

I fogot to get the guys to remove this yucca.  It has become yucky and needs to go.

The big view along this side looks pretty and there will soon be more color.  But there are a couple of problem areas to address.

Here, the artemisia needs move nearer the sidewalk in line with the new blue fescue.  The coreopsis needs to trade places with the hyssop behind it.  The columbine needs move away from the catmint.  The whole area needs more water.  I want to add a salvia and a couple of the sedum that I have in the corner garden.

This area is just sad. Definitely not getting enough water.  The geum needs moved away from the lavender.  I want to add a pink salvia and some more of the same sedum here to repeat that look along the sidewalk.  Need to solve the water problem.

The purple catmint is waning and the color will be replace by the Russian Sage soon and the orange hummingbird plant will add a punch of color.

Ice plant is dying out everywhere.  Some of the pink chintz thyme died here too.  I might just dig up the old ice plant here.

A very shady interior spot. I have a few things planted in here, but I don't think I should pursue plantings here.  Maybe just a nice little park bench to dress up the space.

Lots of competing ground covers here.  I've severely cut back the hummingbird plant as it encroaches on everything.  Also here are ajuga and thyme.  I will be moving a lot of this ajuga to the along the east side of the yard.

The Mexican primrose came back this year.  It's much pinker than this picture shows. This side of the house is so shady now and I've lost a couple of fire bushes here.  I have to think about what to do with this space.

This area right by the driveway is a problem.  Too much hummingbird plant here.  I've lost a number of plants I've added here, so I'm not sure what to do.  Giving it some more thought.

This funny little triangle has both a lot of shade and a lot of hot sun.  Some bee balm in here is struggling.  I have yarrow and new salvia and gaura plants.  Need to move that artemisia to a sunnier spot. Too much coreopsis here.  I should replace a few coreopsis with blanket flower for some variety.  Also, maybe add a pink and/or white salvia.  Decide what to do about the bee balm.

I discovered a stonecrop plant that volunteered where i had dug up an old one to move to a better area.  I think I'll move this to the front corner garden.

The blanket of pink chintz thyme looks brown now that the pink flowers have faded.  Sometimes I actually trim the dead blooms off to let the lovely green of the thyme plant to show through.  It's labor-intensive but worth it.

The wisteria has sent up wonderful vines climbing all over the arbor I put up last year.  I had the guys trim it up.  Next year, I should start getting blooms again.

I removed all the old phlox in the front garden. It was hopelessly full of grass.  Now I have lavender, Jupiter's beard, and blanket flower here along with the mugho pine shrub.  I'll keep this just as is for now and decide next year whether to change anything here.

The next few pictures are the hidden west area of the house.  Basically, just a route between back and front yards.  Also, some views of the fence and property line.  The house next door is for sale.  I hope I get some good neighbors who take an interest in their yard.

Front corner garden.  I like how this is coming.  Need to be sure water is getting everything. Move the purple salvia away from the white salvia.  Add the rock crop here and maybe some of the sedums that I have in the upper corner garden.

The rock wall is fine but weed prone.  I will try some Preen in here to keep the weeds at bay.  I notice the guys left a lot of morning glory in here.

Lower corner from another angle.

Before the coreopsis bloomed, I had glorious yellow iris in bloom here. This garden doesn't need a lot of change,  But is a little bare on the east side.

This is a new garden spot near the back yard. It was all Jupiter's beard, but I added iris, asters and coreopsis last fell.  All took off great. I have to work to keep the Jupiter's Beard at bay.  I'm thinking I might move some of my hybrid day lilies here that are sitting now in shady spots and not doing so well.

Some of the backyard pots.  I have an unbelievable 30 pots large and small to hand water this year.  I won't do that again!

And back where we started at the shady patio.