Bloom and grow

After almost a year of country living, Studley and i are kept rather busy with maintenance, updates, and various projects to make the new place our own. The current heatwave here in the midwestern U. S. of A. coupled with a home that does not have air conditioning, has us moving a bit more slowly at the moment. We can only work outdoors in the early morning before becoming completely soaked in our own sweat.

The work to be done isn’t just outside. The “bones” of the house are good, but the decor is in dire need of an update. There is a seemingly endless collection of wallpaper that must go. i got a start on it earlier this summer, taking down two walls of green floral Victorian-style print in the master bedroom. Got the walls cleaned, patched, and painted and then it got too hot to keep running the steaming machine.

The prior homeowner swore to us that the place stayed cool enough without air conditioning. Lack of ductwork (or an attic or crawlspace for ductwork) left few options for such a system – which i suspect is one of the reasons the prior homeowner was so stubborn about the issue. We decided last year to tough it out and see just how hot it would get. After the first heatwave in July we said “fuck. this. shit.” and found a contractor to install a mini-split system. We also bought a portable unit for the bedroom, as it didn’t get below 80 F some nights!

Electric work for the new system is done, and now we wait for the equipment to arrive via slooooow boat from Asia. Hopeful that we’ll be fixed up soon, i’m using the hot weather lockdown to clean up my office, organize photos, and excavate the electronic desktop… Which includes this here abandoned blogspace. Only neglected for 4 months this time, i am overdue for an update.

For most of May and June, we were working outside. Studley organizing the barn woodshop – also hauling, stacking, and cracking firewood for the winter. i pulled a lot of weeds and played an endless game of “what the hell is that plant?” using various apps. Learning to divide iris, and fighting a battle with unwanted thistle and garlic mustard.

We were lucky to have a chance to visit with Studley’s children in early June. The shared graduate school graduation for his son and daughter-in-law got us all together for a long weekend. His daughter flew in from Alaska. It had been quite awhile since we’d all been together.

In July we took advantage of a momentary break in travel restrictions, making a run to Turkey to visit The Girl and her family. It had been over 18 months since i’d seen them (over two years for Studley). With The Girl’s summer teaching break as a target, we started the gauntlet to get there while managing risk as much as possible. It was fairly challenging to make it happen, but we did it. One challenge – finding someone reliable to mow the lawn while we hit the road again – we’d trained up a new pet sitter earlier in the year. Time with The Girl, her husband, and this little nugget was worth it.

Along the same lines, i was tweaking to spend time with the two mini-sprogs out west, so a second trip was planned. We are just back from a short visit with The Boy and his clan. A bit less challenging logistically to get there and back, we enjoyed some low key time just being together. Much more relaxed than traditional holiday visits, we had time to just play.

i have struggled a bit with distance. Studley and i both raised children who are living lives of deliberate choices – which in all four cases have them living thousands of miles away from us. i have worried that the three grandnuggets won’t know us. Afraid that we will only be characters that exist in video chats on parental phones. These two trips have quenched those fears a bit. Much like the gardens at the homestead, the relationships with the littles are blooming.

Late in life, i’ve grown to appreciate the joys of gardening.

18 thoughts on “Bloom and grow

  1. I am glad that your relationships with the young uns is blooming. And thrilled that you got those trips in.
    Due warning. Gardening can become (has become for me) an obsession. Blood, sweat and tears fertilise my garden.

    • The trips were just in time. People here continue to be reckless, so we are back in self-imposed lockdown. And yes, for the first time in my life I understand the attraction to gardening – I got up early today to tackle dead heading a few beds that looked ratty. Very satisfying – and addictive!

  2. Yay! Two epic journeys in one summer. And house work.Way to go!
    The Man and I are also settling -in to a new(well, not a new build, but new to us) house. Yes, we sold Te Whare Tini and moved 50 metres down the road!
    Also finding things that need fixing.Most importantly, the gutters needed sorting before monsoon season.
    And now we tackling weeds…in 80F 26 C. I have a feeling we’ll spend a lot of time in the pool!

    • I really need to visit my friends in the ‘sphere! I think I had gleaned that you were preparing to move, but hadn’t gotten out to check! Will get there before the weather gets nice again here! Most brilliant? You have a pool! We stand in the sprinkler when watering the garden (using a pump in the creek). Not quite the same!

      • Last week, we ran the hose(town water) into the pool as the level had dropped too much and the pump lost prime. But it’s been raining ALL NIGHT so once it’s light I’ll go out and see. Must add rain guage to shopping list

        • We keep a running list of items we need from the local hardware store – trying not to use Amazon and fund another pointless rocket shot! On the list today is a lawn aerator, cinder blocks, and weed trimmer string. Some weeks it’s far more random.

  3. Well i’ll be damned it’s Gammie Fae!!! glad for the update and i have to say my favorite pic (because i’m a strange one) is that beauty of Studley and grommet on the swing, classic!! I’m one of those strange beings who thrive in heat, i usually mow the lawn during the hottest part of the day… of course that may just be cuz i’m stoopid… sounds like you’re having a helluva tiime!! keep up the good work!

    • It was a happy moment – and a miracle that I caught it. Max is a super sensitive boy – also big for his age. A tough combo. He loves his Opie Studley – all the little ones do. Today I got out early to do some garden maintenance and realized that I am going to have to get used to it! Nice thing about dead heading spent flowers – gives me lots of time to think. The time of year when these gardens need a lot of attention is also the hottest stretch of the year. It will be easier when I can take a break every hour in the ac. I need to catch up at The Lounge… Been too long. Xoxo

  4. Glad y’all got your trips in to see the grands and The Girl and The Boy before the last wave of crazy hit! We’re still nomading out here between Capt. Chaos and super nana, but we’re face to face with the grands, so not being in our own place right now is bearable. I can only handle houseplants, so gardening is something I watch on tv (I love you, Monty Don) or read about! xoxo

    • i needed to see them all. As claustrophobic as y’all must be, you are fortunate to have so many littles around. And i suspect your children are happy that you’re there where they can keep an eye on you! As i watch my grown kids tackle life with jobs, kids, school (and pandemic), i wish i were closer – i’d be able to feed them, shop for them, and hang with the littles so they could have the occasional breather.

      Gardening is satisfying, but i find myself freaked out on a fairly regular basis – today’s issue: Armyworms. A week ago i’d never heard of the damn things, and now the entire town is losing their gotdam minds over a plague of turf-eating caterpiller. Swear to god that if i didn’t have the internet to help understand what the hell to do, i’d burn the whole place down. Even though the worms are doing some damage, we shall let them live out their short lifespan and reseed the lawn after they have flown the coop. But yeah, every day it’s something new. i’m learning as we go! It’s not all moments being surrounded by idyllic splendor while sipping tea!

  5. Furthest I’ve travelled in the last 18 months is 250 miles down into Englandshire to see my father, shortly after our 2nd vaccines. Since then I haven’t gone further than about 25 miles from where I live in any single journey.
    It still feels like an uncertain world and our household is emerging back into it at a very slow and cautious rate

    • I’m very glad you were able to visit your father. That must have felt wonderful after such a long time. You are wise to be cautious! We were fortunate to get our jabs in March. Still mostly kept to outdoor meet ups with a small group of vaccinated friends through the spring and summer, and never stopped masking indoors in the grocery or hardware stores (the only shopping we do). At least on the international flights in theory all passengers had been tested within 72 hours. Not so much on US domestic flights. We got tested again after our return and were relieved to be in the clear. But we’re back to avoiding air travel for the months ahead.

  6. Gardening is such a happy place to be. It’s also back breaking work and provides (usually) a very good nights sleep. I love that you’ve been able to see the family. Thanks for the uplifting post in this world of shit.

    • I’m surprised at how much I’m enjoying it! It IS ENDLESS but satisfying to fix up this bit, or that bed. Yesterday? We spent 8 hours with a rented log splitter getting some big logs chopped down for winter. Today? unloaded a trailer of limbs at the yard waste recycling site, picked up 400 pounds of topsoil, and mowed/trimmed 2 acres of lawn. Assembled a lawn aerator while enjoying happy hour tonight. I am getting in my workouts! Like you, I’m pretty depressed by a ‘world of shit’ – that I can’t fix. But I can pull weeds, chop wood, and plant stuff… I am sleeping very well!

  7. Most all of our grand kids live within a hour or so. Of course crazy city traffic throw off any travel estimate. 3 of the grand kids live in the south which is a night on the road trip for me. I don’t do the long 8-9 hour drives anymore. Too dangerous for me. So we just got to see that group a few weeks ago. It was a good visit. But over the years the number hours spent with them compared to the nearby ones is a big difference.
    Wow no air conditioning and no basement. While our house is definitely showing it’s age with cracks and other problems, I do love and depend on our full basement. We need to run a dehumidifier for the summer plus season of humidity. The cool air down there is very refreshing after cutting the lawn.
    All the best to you and your family as we hopefully work our way out of this pandemic world.

    • It is much more challenging for us to get overseas to my daughter – so those trips are on the order of “weeks”. Maybe once a year. The domestic kids get “days/week”, but maybe a couple times a year. I understand the travel reluctance – and remember CA traffic from years of business travel!
      We got sort if used to not having AC – but on 90+ days had to work in the morning and basically give up the rest of the day. Errands = AC in the car! We are back to personal lockdown so no way to go sit at the mall for an hour! Just got word today that equipment arrived so we’re hopeful for installation next week! All good! An exercise in humility and appreciating privilege…

  8. Great that you managed to see your daughter. Zoom is not really enough in the long run and I’m pleased the little ‘uns have seen a bit of you. Maybe when things ease you can get out again and remind them of who you are! I managed two foreign holidays with my girls during The Time of Cholera. It can be done! I’m very disheartened to see that we might have to go back into a short lockdown in October because in day to day life — with the big exception of foreign travel — everything feels like normal again here.

    Someone who used to live in Hong Kong today told me that humidity when combined with high temperatures thins the blood and lessens the incidence of heart attacks. So get going on those weeds!

    • Here in the US, we are going full “Darwin” with about 25% of the population who refuse vaccination. As of today, 1 in 500 citizens of this country have DIED from Covid. That’s a lot. Unnecessarily so. Virtually everyone in hospital intensive care units are unvaccinated, and i am trying so hard to find molecules of sympathy. But it is wearing quite thin, and we will continue to face limitations in travel and life as a result. So it goes…

      Oh, i’m sure hot weather is good for me. As long as there is an opportunity to cool off occasionally (such as a nice air conditioned room with a sofa) i will keep working in the heat! We are at the end of garden season, so mostly now i’m chopping down brown things that are past prime. Satisfying in a different way…

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