Technology is a time sink.

Hello, world. I hope you’re here to read about my mundane daily author adventures, because that’s what I’ve got for you.

Today was not a total bust. I accomplished things. Mainly I spent far too many hours troubleshooting connectivity and monitor issues. Still haven’t solved the wifi network problem–upgrading to Catalina has fucked up the IP address in some weird intermittent way–but resetting the NVRAM (PRAM? whatEVER) has solved the on-again off-again monitor problem.

I have possible fixes for the other issue, but they involved all kinds of “carefully follow these steps in order” instructions and I have no spoons for that, so…for now the mobile hotspot works fine, and it isn’t like I’m using the data for anything else these days.

In other news, Landscaping Firm 1 has been contacted for consultation & a quote on Full Yard Redesign, from drainage to new brick patio, walkways & driveway buffers, to reworking the front planting beds & installing plantings in back AND front. These people get high marks from native planting organizations, eco peeps & rain garden folk, so I’m hoping it works out. (technically it’s the 2nd firm but the first designer I consulted last September has ghosted us, so…I’m not waiting any longer.)

Why am I back to thinking about Big Outdoor Projects so soon? Wasn’t I going to put it off a year or two, what with Pandemic, and other big projects, and y’know, wanting to focus on WRITING?

Yeah, well. We were going to hold off. But now we aren’t. Therein lies a tale.

It starts with yesterday’s entry in “blessings in disguise” or “bad news/good news.”  In the AM Spouseman discovered that the drain valve for our not-new water heater has developed a slow leak. Only a cup or two a day, but enough to erode  little hole in the nice new concrete flooring under the valve. And enough to tell us we needed a consult on whether to repair or replace. So I added it to the “ask the FBC folks for recommendations” list I already had going, with questions about sump pump maintenance and other minor things, and bumped the priority to “call Monday.”

But that meant Spouseman & I were both on high water alert, which served us well later in the day, when the latest of this week’s soggy-day downpours turned to torrential deluge & the runoff couldn’t run away from the foundation fast enough. The photo for this post shows the guilty area. Just too much water being directed into one small space.

Water came seeping up through the floor of the basement entryway and poured inside onto the cheap area rugs we’d put in that part of the basement. BUT! Since we noticed it nigh-immediately, we sucked it back up with shop vacs before it had been standing long.

25-30ish gallons of water suckage later, the floor & area rugs were dry & damp, respectively, and fans+dehumidifiers were running.  Unfun way to spend a couple of evening hours, but far less than a total disaster.

But it’s certainly a harbinger of disaster, as storms are getting worse every year. So. “Better Drainage + Thirsty Native Plants Everywhere” Yard Redesign moves to the near-top of the to-do list. (Battery back up for the sump and new water heater are THE top.)

ANYway. This morning started out with leaving woeful “HALP PLS” messages with the basement people before I dug deep into research on green solutions/drainage specialist landscape contractors.

Which turned into a long, long detour through Technology Troubles…

But I did get all necessary communicating done, got answers to my questions, and somewhere in there I managed 200+ words of solid progress & some minor revisions on Sharp Edge.

And now I’ve written up the saga here. That’s a good place to wrap.

Until later!

Spring yard update!

I’m sitting on the couch with wine in hand & a pillow under my achy hip, thinking, “Someday I will remember to take proper ‘before’ pictures.”

But today will not be that day. See, there’s an unhealthy intersection between ADHD hyper-focus brain & a hyper-mobile body, and I live in that intersection when I have lots of outdoor projects & only so many good spring days in which to complete them.

I keep forgetting about documentation until I am too sore, shaky-handed, and covered in muck to snap pics. Ibuprofen & hot shower always win.

ANYWAY. I do have a few pics at the bottom, if that’s what you’ve come to see.

The new yard is coming along.  All the beds I’m going to dig are dug, except…okay, all the beds I’m going to dig for a while are dug…okay SOME BEDS ARE DUG AND I HAVE PLANS, ALL RIGHT? 

Ahem. This yard wasn’t exactly a blank slate. A blank of bare soil would’ve been easier. The drainage in the back is abysmal because the soil is…not alive. It’s dead substrate.  So. I can fix it, but it isn’t easy to work with dead clay that’s been overdosed with chemicals & compacted until it’s rock-hard. Complicating matters, that clay is beneath massively root-bound turf grass or scrappy invasive plants, depending on whether I’m working in the “lawn” or the “flowerbeds.” Turning this into proper prairie loam will be A Big Project.

Good thing I love big projects.

What’s been completed so far? LOTS. All the rusty, ugly steel edging that had stopped holding in bricks years ago but hung around as a horrible tripping hazard? ALL OUT.  Mulch is down on the beds that most need it, the summer bulbs I planted have all popped up, a few seedling veggies are in (more on that later) lettuces have sprouted, & hope seeds have been scattered.

What are hope seeds, you ask? Hope seeds are packets of assorted annual flowers I buy every year because I don’t have the patience to start seeds indoors but cannot resist a seed packet display.  Every year I buy a selection, throw them into mulched perennial beds & wait to see if any sprout & survive.

Something always does. I get little midsummer happy surprises when they make their appearances long after I’ve forgotten I planted them. (No, I never mistake them for weeds. I know my plantses.)

I have also established a great big mulching zone under the back bird feeder, where the dying spruce used to be. All the dug-up bits I remove from other beds get dumped on the stump shreds & surrounding sad lawn area. It’s a big ol’ mess of hard turf hunks, chunks of uprooted hosta, bits of leftover holiday greenery, twigs & leaves that blow in from other people’s yards, potting soil sweepings, weeds pulled from the lawn… pretty much everything plantish is getting tossed there. 

In due time bugs & bacteria & sun & rain will work their wonders on it and it will become topsoil. It isn’t…pretty…but it has a wholesome “nature at work” look. Plus the birbs & squirbs love it because there’s cover & nooks & crannies full of insects for them.

And! We had a hard freeze last night, but at least one of my l’il tomatoes, two of the basils and two of the chili pepper seedlings have survived. This pleases me to pieces. I’ll wait a few days & see if any new growth sprouts from the others before giving up on them. Roots are resilient.

If not, oh, well. I knew planting early was a gamble, and I also figured this was my easy chance to evaluate this yard’s microclimes. I tested several different types of coverage in different locations, and…now I know! So that was fun.

Here be the pics. They don’t show much…but each one represents a LOT of sweaty work. (They also get bigger if you click on them.)

There are many little green things in all those shots, but they aren’t showy yet. Not like the spring bulbs up front. Those are just lovely. Here they are again:IMG_7523

 

My right wrist, elbow, & foot, AND my left leg from the lower back down to the toes all hate me with a fulsome, fierce, and all-consuming hatred today, but that is a price I am willing to pay for feeling Very Much Accomplished. Fair value. A bargain, even.

Lots yet to do. The planter tubs will move into that bed by the driveway, (and I may need new annuals for them…) I want more mulch there, I need to reset all that flagstone so it’s about level with the concrete, I have a big list of perennials & veggies to buy — I have the right kind of sunny zones to plant cucumbers here! I could let pumpkin plants nest in the back mulch zone — and then I’ll have to dig holes for all of them… So. Many Ideas!

But there it is. For now, yard update complete.

Until later!

It was a day, and it wasn’t so bad.

Today in “Things that could have been a lot more stressful:” minimal-contact online order pickup from Menards.

This all started with it being laundry day, and also being the first day I had new cloth masks, and being the third day in a row that started with moping about all the things I need to do in the new yard but don’t have the supplies to start doing.

Over cup of tea number 2, I thought, “Time & past time to get it done. Bonus. If I go today, i can throw my clothes straight into the wash when I get back instead of them lying around. “

The first load of wash (with masks) went in, & I hopped online to check Menards website for options & a continuation of the list making Ive been doing for days now

Once upon a time I hated Menards’ website because it was useless for checking stock in stores. NO MORE. I heart it now. Right in the front page they had banner for a super clear shop-your-local-store-online process. So I shopped. And shopped. AND SHOPPED. All safe at home.

I’ve done this kind of pre-shopping through several retailers now, and I gotta say I never expected Menards’ to be the easiest of them…but it was. The site matched what I knew of the store, the pickup-at-store checkout was easy to navigate, and the confirmations came fast, with clear instructions on exactly where to go AT the store to retrieve things.

Very exciting. I swapped out laundry loads, grabbed my mask, & headed out.

Oh–another thing about today. It was also the first day of relaxed Safer-At-Home restrictions in IL. I remembered that as I was driving. Would it make that much of a difference?

YUP.

Menards parking lot was as full as a mall on the last Saturday before Christmas, with cars circling, searching in vain for open spaces. Made of Nope. I am so very, very glad I bypassed all that and went straight to the yard gate.

Everything there was wide open, plenty of room for everyone. Everyone there, staff & patrons alike, had on their masks & also kept physical distance, and that mindfulness…matters.

So, I got out and back with much LESS stress than I was braced to face, and I got all the laundry done too, and now I have hoses & planters & fertilizers & weed control stuff & So Much Mulch, plus sundry other home necessities that were low since I hadn’t done a Menards run since mid March.

Not bad. Which is really…good.

That’s all until later!