Sunday, January 30, 2022

Sticker shock

I received the estimates for the landscape installation. GULP! I knew it would be expensive, but not THAT expensive. After years of DIY landscaping, I'm used to the expense of plants, shrubs, and trees; it's the labor costs I'm choking on. But I know I am no longer interested in doing all that work myself. I expect to be in my house at least another ten years (or more!) and would like to enjoy a yard full of natives (and the wildlife that will bring) during my time here. And I'm too old to put all this off.

My dad set an example for me to follow. The first household chore he outsourced was snow removal (he lived in Massachusetts). I am fortunate to have a neighbor with a snow blower and a generous spirit, although I did shovel the recent four inches of fluff that fell. The second task he turned over to professionals was the yardwork. My brother helped for a while, my stepmother added a lot of plants, but eventually it was time for outside help because they wanted everything to look neat and tidy. Lastly, they hired someone to come in and clean every two weeks. (They obviously didn't have any pets by that point). The two of them were able to live in their home until my dad was in his 90's, an excellent example of how to age in place. It helps to be able to afford the help.

It's cold but sunny today, with little wind, so the dogs and the indoor/outdoor cat are enjoying the deck, something they haven't been able to do recently because of the sub-zero temperatures we've been having. Rumor has it a bit storm is heading this way midweek. We'll see.

Saturday, January 22, 2022

Big spender

I scrimped and saved and stuck with a job I didn't much care for, just so I could have a comfortable retirement. Now I am in spending mode and Wild Birds Unlimited is happy to help. At my last visit, after selecting millet (for the sparrows) and mealworms (for the bluebirds), I was offered a seed wreath at half price, by which time I qualified for some free Bark Butter Bits. The latter are very popular, even with the starlings, so maybe they will leave the mealworms alone. I hung the wreath in the Japanese maple out front, where I can watch its visitors from the comfort of my couch. Beau too.

The dogs didn't care for this visitor.

Yesterday would have been the perfect day for cross country skiing: cold but sunny and almost no wind. Today it is still cold, but gray and windy. I have to keep reminding myself it is still January.

Saturday, January 15, 2022

I'm sold

Sean from Santuary Native Landscapes came by yesterday to discuss the "final" design for my yard. I put *final* in quotes because there are still a few tweaks. After listening to his explanation about plant selection, I'm (almost) all in. One of the tweaks is setting aside a corner for wildflowers, ironically the area previously designated as a meadow. A hickory tree will be planted there; they are tiny to start with because they grow from a tap root. In the area south of that, there will be Canadian hemlock to provide a windbreak and background for the winterberry plants and to keep the white oak tree company. I'm extremely excited about this plan. I probably won't be as excited about the cost of installation, but I'm rather dedicated to spending my children's inheritance.

One sad aspect to all these changes is saying "thank you" and "good-bye" to many of the existing plants and shrubs. Some will be sorely missed (gold mop, cotoneaster, smokebushes), others not so much (boxwood, yucca, mugo). Almost everything has become problematic in one way or another, and ugly to boot. I feel like I have slaved away in the yard for thirty years and there is little to show for it. Part of me is reluctant to let someone else redo it all, but I'm on the cusp of old age and would like to do less yardwork but still have the kind of yard I want.

I was hoping to attend a cross country ski workshop today but we have no snow at all. The storms all seem to pass us by. Also, it is cold and breezy, okay if one is in the woods, not so much out in the open.

I purchased several self-warming pet beds from Chewy, in three sizes. Watson, the medium-sized dog, seems to prefer the smallest one even though he barely fits.

Stay warm!

Sunday, January 09, 2022

Gated community

I caught one of the dogs "snacking" from a litter box, plus one of the cats can no longer jump onto the cabinet where their food towers are. So I purchased and installed another gate to make the laundry room (a.k.a. kitty litter room) off limits to the dogs while providing a place where one of the catfood towers can be on the floor. My bedroom is also gated, after one too many incidents of puke on the bed, to keep the cats out. The gates are a necessary evil in this household.

The final version of the landscape design arrived. The layout of the beds in the backyard is better, but there seems to be an awful lot of big shrubs crammed into the area along the back fence. Also, no hickory tree. I haven't had a chance to look at it in detail yet, so have yet to form an opinion about the differences between the first draft and this one. That's on my to-do list.

I continue to chase the starlings away from the mealworm feeder; yesterday my granddaughter helped. Even blue jays help themselves to the mealworms, while the bluebirds occasionally snack on the bark butter.

The weather continues to confound. The ground is frozen, but then it rained, so there are puddles on top of the frozen turf. It's a mess.

Saturday, January 01, 2022

Happy New Year!

Not much has been happening around here other than the holidays. I'm still feeding birds (I spoke too soon about the starlings), the ground still hasn't frozen (I have high hopes for this week), what few decorations I put up are down. I have yet to receive the updated landscape design, the siding damage on the livingroom bump-out hasn't been fixed yet, and my city trash can needs to be replaced. Like I said, nothing much going on.

Do you make resolutions? Every year mine were to eat less, exercise more, keep a cleaner house, etc. The dogs need to be walked, and I keep doing physical therapy for my back, hip, and shoulder, plus some yoga, so I think I have exercise covered. The dogs also force me to clean more often, else visitors think I live in squalor. Being diagnosed with "borderline" diabetes has led me to improve my diet and lose some weight. Sometimes life provides the motivation to change.

I do have what I would call plans for the coming year, though: turn the fireplace into a greenhouse of sorts, install (or have someone install) the landscaping changes in the front yard, plant (or have someone plant) more trees and shrubs, include the backyard in the organic lawn treatment, eliminate the rest of the raised beds in the backyard, and become more proactive in eliminating invasives in my yard. Now that my shoulder is functional and painfree, I am eager to put it back to work.

What are your plans for 2022?