March 30, 2009 :: Ramona G. Quimby, age 8 months

I didn't intend to do this. Jane died. She deserves a full eulogy, but maybe we'll ring in the new first. This blue-eyed cutie is Miss Ramona. The next generation of puppy love in our house.

As I said, I didn't intend to do this. I wanted an Australian Shepherd. Knew I'd wanted one since I wasn't Mr. Arrow's owner anymore. Sweet, smart, velcro-y dogs they are. So, I filled out an application online to get on the rescue service's radar, imagining that there'd be a wait and then some matching, and sometime in the next few months, we'd find ourselves with a new pet.

It took all of 48 hours.

I met Ramona (former name "Kit".) on Friday. By Saturday, she and Ollie were roughhousing in our living room. By Sunday night, they were snuggling together on a dog bed. On Monday, she was fully ours. She's Ollie's best friend. My constant sidekick. She's sweet and bouncy and has this little nub of a tail swept with fluff that I can't get over when it wags 1000 miles an hour to greet me. She's perfect, and we're all totally in love.

Jane came to me randomly. Out of the blue one day. She stuck with me, moved three times with me. Welcomed Ollie with as much grace as she could. Taught her how to be a good dog. Now, I feel a bit like we've given Ollie and ourselves a little fluffy gift. And she showed up just as haphazardly. I love the way this stuff works out.



March 12, 2009 :: Less Taken

Amazing how a decent camera and a great (but stupid-cheap) plastic lens can make what is, in reality a festering cesspool of chickweed, thistle and some hellish variety of insidious, prickly bloodletting vine look like somewhat of a verdant wonderland. Regardless, I give you, the path through my front yard, as of March first, 2009.

It's not going to look like this long. I promise. But it's not going to be easy if history is any indication.

My yard has a checkered past. Check out the Fulton assessor's website (where the public record of ownership of property in my county is indexed), and you'll see a lovely picture of my little cabin at its most desperate. It's drab yellow (actually, still is), its trim is fading white and what looks like dusty lilac, but is likely just dusty. Its porch is covered in rotting screen, and what is visible of the yard is a tangle of weeds.

Fast-forward to 2007, when I bought the property, and you'd have borne witness to a perfectly manicured fake-out. The previous owner had someone dump a truckload of pine-bark briquettes into the yard overtop the weeds, plant ten or so sad hostas and liriope plants, and call it a day. It looked presentable enough that I hardly noticed. Until mid-fall, when weed seed sprouted everywhere, giving the whole landscape the appearance that it was growing wiry green hair. It just got worse. Morning glory vine trailed over the whole fence then up to obscure the Berean/Tennelle street sign, then got diseased, lacy, brown, crusty, and full of spiders.

By spring of 2008, I'd had it, and spent two weekends clearing 20+ yard waste bags of mulch bricks out of the hand. Just me and a shovel and a head full of four-letter words. My arms looked, by the end, like I'd been hitting the freeweights for months.

Unfortunately, with the exception of really good intentions and a few plantings that Ollie systematically dug up, ate, and then pooped back into the weeds (ah, the circle of life), we didn't do much else with the mess until last fall, when Blake and I undertook the great picket fence raising of 2008, sectioning off the yard so the dogs couldn't deface the better parts of it any longer.

Now, the path, un-dug and waiting, sits. Some of the bricks came from our neighbor's 120-year old chimney (toppled in the tornado last spring), the rest is cobbled out of the sad red pavers the previous left on the property, random bricks I've found laying around, and a couple hand-painted ones from someone's long-lost garden, including one that says "letuce". (I want to think that the previous owner did not create these charmingly mis-spelled markers. Because I saw her master's degree from UGA on the wall when I toured the house the first time. But, I have little hope, as her she and her new husband showed up to the closing in shorts and flip-flops and were about the most affected, trustafarian tools I've ever laid eyes on. Sorry. I'm also venting for all the other lazy, ass hatted things they did to the house during their tenure there. Another post, but think thermostats wired backwards, ill-fitting leaky plumbing and wallboard that isn't screwed to the studs. )

But I digress.

This weekend, I'll strip the yard bare for the third and final time, by weed-whacking down the taller detritus, then covering the entire 135 square foot triangle with newsprint, compost and mulch. Then, we'll wait for last frost for the mixture to marinate and one sunny day, plant a gorgeous edible landscape. I can't wait to get started.



March 11, 2009 :: Starting Over

Re: long, unintentional absence.

Dear interwebs,

Well, hello there! Good to see you. I'm glad to be here as well. A recap? Ok. Blake and I kind of became the X to the Nth power of Y victims of the sucky global economy in a number of ways recently, and as such, I've been busting my little writerly butt and not blogging or doing any discernible home improvements. But, hey. We're of hardy stock. And fortunately, though a layoff, an undervalued house, broken appliances (many, oh so many...why do my lovely mechanical friends always go south all at once? It was a coup, I suspect.), a fall that had the boy half of our dynamic duo in serious pain for weeks, dog sickness, and both $$$ and !!! level vehicle repairs, we are still afloat, with a roof over our heads, and now, doubly employed again. Whew.

February was a stressful, ridiculous wash. Dude, March is going to be so awesome by comparison.

And so far so good. I've gained a gardening partner (the amazing Lee), a new work schedule that gives me giant chunks of the weekend left to my own devices (I adore Mr. Rainey, but when he's around, I want to hang around him so much more than I want to paint trim, clean out closets, or dig up giant parts of the yard. I miss him while he's away working, but boy will this be productive I suspect.), and a renewed industrious streak. It's all go around here these days.

So, it really begins. The newly de-junked boxes up above are just about ready to take some of the seeds I bought last night, and my front yard will soon be freshly "lasagned" with a no-dig gardeny layer of newsprint, compost and mulch. There's raspberries to train along the fence, peas and tomatoes and other climbers to cover the chain link, pumpkins, okra, artichoke, onions, spinach, arugula, flowers and herbs and on and on.

Our own little Victory garden.

We so totally win.