Friday, May 27, 2016

Getting back in the swing of things, slowly

I've accomplished two mowings of each the front and the back yards. I think getting that push-button starting mower, and investing in the real, effective filter mask may have extended my yard work lifetime by about ten years. I hadn't realized how anxious I would be, having to work myself up into going out and yanking on that damned mower rope just to get it started, all these years. And it wasn't getting better, I'm getting older and every time I ended up more sore and worn-out. So, yay! for push-button starters! I would have loved to get an all-battery mower but those are like $1300 so that's out of the question. This one is "self-propelled" but the handle is only on the right side so my right hand gets a little tired (hmm...maybe that's why my right hand has been a bit swollen at the base of the thumb for a couple of days...?) but I just need to retrain myself to take advantage of the front-wheel drive better (don't bear down on the machine's handle, lift it up a tiny bit so the front wheels do more of the work!) and we'll be fine.

And it's SO nice not to be wheezing and hacking and coughing and sneezing for two hours after mowing! I LOVE my zombie apocalypse face mask/filter system!

It *is* hot to wear and my face is even redder than it gets usually once I'm done with the mowing, but man, is it nice not inhaling all that dust and pollen and Yark knows what else. Refreshing!

Today is indoor work, I don't have the stuffing to tackle yard work again. At least both the front and the back are mowed nice and neatly now. I wanted to get that done before the long weekend in case my neighbors have friends over, they don't have to be embarrassed by my messy overgrown yard. 

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Little to report

other than yard work, yard work, yard work. Last summer's forced hiatus (recuperating from successful cancer surgery) really set me back from the plans I'd made before the diagnosis. So, I'll feel happy if I can just catch up and stay caught up with the mowing - although I've invested some money in annual flowers and pots to hang, so I'm hoping I'll be able to do a *little* better than stay even.

Saturday, May 07, 2016


Yesterday I mowed my front yard for the first time this season. It's very late; the dandelions and patchy grass (it's a very shady yard from neighbors' trees and my own maple in the front; also maple trees exude substances that discourage other plants growing in their proximity) were halfway to my knees. But until I'd got rid of last year's leaves, I couldn't mow, and I didn't get around to that until Wednesday and Thursday. I'd planned to mow then Thursday but discovered that the battery for the pushbutton starter on the mower needed to be charged for a full ten hours before using it. So, yesterday I put in the oil and gas and it started right up on the first try. I was very relieved, it was a lot of money (for me) to spend on a machine that wouldn't work well. Anyway, it did, and the grass in the front is of uniform height now. The perennial bed still has leaves in it, but those are my free mulch and part of the nourishment I'm leaving there.

It is humiliating how little physical labor it takes to flatten me these days. Two hours of raking and bagging leaves sent me indoors completely knackered; I lay down for a 30 minute nap Wednesday and conked out for three hours! And was ready to go back to bed at 11 p.m. Same Thursday - a couple of hours of (slow-motion) raking & bagging and I was Done. However, I hope to keep pushing myself so that by the end of summer I can do both yards (mowing, weeding) in one day and still stay awake at least until nightfall.

Next (Monday) I start on the east side of the house (*drifts* of last year's leaves) and the back yard (many times bigger than the front). That will be slow-motion, too. First, patrol for sticks (courtesy of the ever-shedding 90-foot Chinese elm) then walk down the east edge of the lawn with the weed-whacker, so that I can use the mower with only half its width (or less) cutting the tall grass and Creeping Charlie. Most of the yard has Creeping Charlie now; I like it - because the bees love it. I can't bring myself to mow it all down, so I'm leaving a mower-width strip along the west fence-line, and I'm leaving the entire back 15 feet or so along the back fence to do anything it likes - though I'll keep after the weed trees. I've got the brush pile in the corner back there, and I know that snakes, birds and rabbits use it, so that makes me happy, if not my neighbors (the neighbor across the back fence can't see my yard, that fence is wooden and 6 feet high).

There are several problem spots I will need to work on - all of this work I had planned out step by step on paper last spring, but then the cancer diagnosis landed and nothing else got done until now. So I'm playing catch-up really, with a whole year's yard work delayed. I've decided my five day a week job now will be working on the yard this spring and summer.

Changing the subject now: I tried soft-boiled eggs for breakfast this morning, thinking of all those Golden Age mysteries where Lord and Lady What's-it sit down with their country home guests for a leisurely buffet breakfast, with eggs perched in charming little gold-rimmed Royal Doulton china egg cups. But ye gods, what is the point of soft-boiled eggs? Half the white stays with the egg shell and the rest is a mutilated mess. Also, what's with those toast racks? Is that specially designed to make sure every piece of toast is equally cold by the time you try to apply the butter to it? And KIDNEYS? for BREAKFAST? And the British wonder why people mock their "cuisine."

Sunday, May 01, 2016

Revisionary, by Jim. C. Hines

It has taken me SO long to work down through my towering To Be Read pile before I could get to this one, and it has acted as a spur to keeping me reading those ones before it. Finally, I got to read Revisionary, the fourth and last book in Jim C. Hines's Magic Ex Libris series.

Look at the gorgeousness of that cover! Just LOOK AT IT!!!! All four covers are just glorious and prove that it IS possible for a publisher to take enough care so that the cover artist knows what the book is about! 

All I can say is, after the first three books I had no idea how Jim could possibly do justice to them in the last of the series, and NO idea how he could wrap it up - but he hit home runs on both counts. This one is fast-paced and surprising and fun and harrowing, and the end is satisfying on several levels. And there's lots of Smudge in this one, too! Smudge! I adore Smudge. Wondering who Smudge is? Read the books! (Jim's original Goblin Jig series is Smudge's actual starting place and you won't be sorry for reading those, as well. I promise!)