Dreaming the Garden

Dreaming the Garden

I’ve spent this week getting to know my new garden.
She is over planted in places.
And completely overgrown.
So much work to be done.
But my goodness, she’s beautiful.
Think I’m in love.
Top of the to-do list is to remove all this nasty pine needle mulch.
Way too much for me to handle.
Luckily, I’ve got “lawn guys” for this mammoth task.
I’m also trying to divide and transplant a long line of hostas.
Thought it would be quick and easy.
Boy, was I mistaken.
The roots are tangled with tree roots and irrigation lines.
I spent a long while at this last weekend.
Almost broke my new shovel.
And only managed to dig out two baby hostas.
I felt kind of silly.
But  no matter.
I’ll just chip away at it one hosta clump at a time.
 Countless trees and shrubs to be pruned.
I’d be perfectly happy to start trimming…
Except the neighbors told me to watch out for snakes.
Now I’m scared to go poking around under all those trees.
Once again,
Hurray for the lawn guys!
Are you getting a feel for how much garden there is here?
My name was on a waiting list for the last three years 
for a tiny bit of earth in a community garden in NYC.
And now I have this.
This much space feels delightfully decadent.
But daunting as well.
I have so much to learn.
How to work with a heavy clay soil?
What grows best where?
How do I repair the irrigation tubes next time lawn guys cut another one?
How do I run another irrigation line out to our future kitchen garden?
What edibles should I plant to blend with existing landscaping?
As I keep repeating:
There is an overwhelming amount of work to do.
But I just can’t stop dreaming my garden.

Just like that line of gnarly hostas,
I plan to tackle one task at a time.
One bit of earth at a time.
Maybe starting with this dry little dirt patch?
The Adventures of Tom Sawyer

The Adventures of Tom Sawyer

Now here’s a great read aloud!  We’ve thoroughly enjoyed “The Adventures of Tom Sawyer” by Mark Twain.

Initially, we struggled with the language.  My tongue tripped over early pages and I had a hard time finding the right cadence to read to.  On top of that, my boys had a tough time understanding both dialogue and author commentary.  I stopped frequently to translate.

Luckily,  after the first few chapters, we caught the rhythm of the book and really got into it.  So much so that my littler guy has started saying “you reckon…”

We think Tom is a good-natured, smooth talking rascal.  Lots of chuckling over his day dreams of glory and adventure.  Some eye-rolling about how he loves Becky (the boys think Becky is a total wimp).  Lots of disbelief over how much freedom that boy had.

We’re fond of Tom.  But we really love Huckleberry Finn.  Huckleberry might be ignorant about family life and facts, but he’s loyal to his friends and has integrity.  Huckleberry is noble.

The sun seems to shine brighter every day here in Charlotte.  My boys are counting down their last two weeks of school and then on to summer freedom.  Here we have space galore to explore – though truthfully, we’re quite squeamish over all the snake warnings we’ve been receiving.  Here and now seem the perfect place and time to read about Tom & Huck.  Onto “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” next.

In the Garden – First Foray

In the Garden – First Foray

My boy and I made our first foray into our garden this weekend.  Before I show you what we worked on, I have to share about that nasty poop situation (sorry, but I’m still so grossed out I can’t help myself).
We closed on our house earlier in the week.  At our final walk through, I was disgusted to see piles of dog poop littering the entire back yard.  Foul.  But not a big enough deal to halt the closing set just two hours after the walk through.  Since then, we’ve unfortunately discovered other types filth all around our home (dirt, hair, and other general funky stuff).  Our horrified realtors tell us that sellers usually thoroughly clean up after themselves after moving out…. hmmm… that would have been nice…

Anyway, about the poop-filled back yard.  Lucky for me, I was able to hire a service (hurray for Mark & his company, Poop-911) to pick up the crap (literally).  Mark spent 45 minutes canvassing every bit of the back yard.  He picked up everything he could find; though he did warn me it is likely more poop is buried under the mounds of dirty pine needle mulch (to be cleared out this upcoming week).  In the end, he filled over half of one of those tall white kitchen garbage bags.  And then he swung that heavy bag of shit over his shoulder and walked off in a way that made me think of Santa Claus with a load of “goodies.”  Yuck!

Now that our yard is poop free (enough), we’ve started exploring and gardening.

Like the rest of the house, the yard has great bones but has been neglected.  Lots of work ahead of us, but an amazing amount of space and potential.  My boy & I identified a well lit fallow portion in the yard that will make a great kitchen garden.  Decided we just had to plant something before tackling the rest of the long to-do list.

Since we don’t have the wood to build raised beds yet, we simply traced a circle in the dry earth, loosened the clay soil, dug a shallow hole and mixed in moist, black gardening soil to create a circular mound.  E was thrilled to have his own pair of garden gloves and a shovel just his size.

We chose to plant pumpkin seeds first.  I’ve read that pumpkin vines are super hardy and will grow like crazy.  Exactly what we need to get our garden started.  We’re hoping to have pumpkins in time for Halloween.

Directions say three seeds, one inch deep, per mound.  We pushed in five seeds just to be safe (we can always thin some out if all five seeds germinate).

To mark where we planted, we gathered stones from under mature plants in the yard and created a boundary for our pumpkin mound.
Since we don’t have a watering can yet, I jerry-rigged one by punching holes into the lid of a gallon milk jug.  Can’t say it’s aesthetically pleasing, but we were able to water our pumpkin seeds fine.

Our first step to claiming our new home.  It felt good to dig in the soil and to put those first seeds in the ground.  I’m really happy one of my boys loves growing things as much as I do.  ‘Cuz there’s a whole lot of planting, weeding and work to be done!

Big Scary House

Big Scary House

We closed on our house yesterday.
Our big scary house.
I feel like a clueless brand new parent in desperate need of an instruction manual.
 I’d last seen the house when it was on the market and all spiffed up for potential buyers to inspect.
But yesterday…
Oh yuck.
Grime in the empty drawers.
Dirt on the floors.
A funky musty smell.
Please tell me that will go away once we pull the carpets.
Garbage piled curbside.
Overgrown bushes.
And worst of all… 
Weeks worth of two big dogs’ poop littering the entire back yard.
What happened to sellers leaving their home “broom-swept clean?”
My guys have begged not to go back til I get things cleaned up.
It’s in an awesome neighborhood.
On an ideal lot.
With lots of space and gorgeous detailing.
But obviously very little care in recent days.
Like any new parent,
I’m running up this learning curve fast.
At least,
As fast as I can.
Called in Poop-911 today.
So grateful there is any such service.
Talked to lawn guys.
Pest control guys.
Floor guys.
Closet guys.
Audio guys
Why are there 26 speakers in the walls and where the heck do they connect?
Hey, who knew about fire ants?
And black snakes?
And copperheads?
Did you know that copperheads smell like cucumbers?
And black snakes coil in trees?
Do you see the trees in my back yard?
Gonna figure this all out.
It will be a gorgeous home.
My family is going to love it.
Hopefully soon.
But right now?
I have to admit,
Feeling a little overwhelmed.
Not to mention unclean.
Big scary house.

Strawberry Picking!

Strawberry Picking!

The excitement of our big move is wearing off.  We’re all a bit homesick for NYC and needed a little pick-me-up over the weekend.  The perfect activity presented itself just a half mile away from where we’re staying:  strawberry picking!

I’m sure we could’ve gone strawberry picking when living in NYC.  But that would have entailed renting a car, making our way out of the city and driving at least an hour to get to the nearest picking destination.  We’d also have to compete with all the other New Yorkers out on a mission for strawberries and then we’d have to fight our way through traffic to go home….

So much easier here.

We rolled out of bed, drove a half mile (a distance we’d surely have walked in NYC… but when in Rome…), popped out of our car and were hit with the warm sweet smell of ripe strawberries.  Yum!

The boys cheered up instantly.  Grabbed picking cartons.  Wandered out to the strawberry fields.  Marveled over the juicy red bounty waiting to be plucked.  Couldn’t get over the sheer space around us.
My littler guy especially loved the berry picking.  He made his way intently up one row of plants and down another.  Couldn’t stand to pass up a single red strawberry.  He quickly filled his carton and would probably still be out there picking if I hadn’t dragged him off the field.

So here we are.  Second week in Charlotte.  Most times we’re super excited to be here.  Sometimes we’re a little homesick.  But I figure, it’s just part of the process, right?  Luckily, there’s stuff like a trip to local farm and then fresh picked strawberries chopped up over a bowl of vanilla ice cream to help us through the inevitable sad moments.