Monthly Archives: June 2009

Not in Kansas Anymore….

I just returned from spending 8 days in Peabody, KS, with my sister and her family. It was lovely. We chatted, we crafted, we shopped,* we snacked, we didn’t find time to play Scrabble, but that just means I didn’t lose.

I came home Wednesday to find my yard overgrown and maple seedlings colonizing my rock garden. Today, I get to clean out my gutters, which are also full of maple seedlings. Looks kinda pretty, though — like windowboxes for the roof line.

*nothing bonds two women more than buying bras and then eating Chinese food.

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Neighbor Girls

Growing up in Yerington, Nevada in the 1970s, I was a Neighbor Girl.

My next-oldest sibling is 5 years older and didn’t want to hang around with me, and there weren’t many children my age living nearby. My school friends lived out of town. So I was often on my own, walking or biking around the neighborhood. I knew all the dogs by name and often stopped for skritches and a chat — I particularly remember a golden-colored Great Dane named Johan, a total sweetheart that other kids were afraid of. I regularly visited my adult friends, too: the childless couple who lived next door, a pair of gentle alcoholics (although I did not realized that then); and my father’s boss’s wife, a wonderful, wacky school teacher.

Now I understand how utterly, utterly patient and kind these adults were. They put up with my endless chatter (my family nickname was Mighty Mouth), appeared interested in my ideas and problems, always seemed glad to see me, and very gently sent me on my way when a visit was inconvenient or I had simply been there long enough. I *belonged* in my neighborhood and, unlike my older siblings who had to move fairly often, I had a stable, safe, and reasonably idyllic childhood.*

Now I’m the friendly, slightly wacky Neighbor Lady and I’ve attracted my own pair of Neighbor Girls. Niomi is in 3rd grade and just moved into the house behind mine; I expect her family will be around for a while. Melody is in 1st grade and lives next door in a rental house, or possibly just visits — there seem to be multiple connected families living there or hanging out — and I can’t begin to predict how long she’ll be around.

Both Niomi and Melody offered to help me garden yesterday because when you’re a kid, work that is novel and not assigned to you by a parent is fun, right? Niomi came over first and planted sweetpea seeds around the 5-gallon tubs I was readying to hold tomatoes and peppers,** and helped me transplant two sweetpea vines a neighbor wanted to get rid of. Then she helped me move some large rocks in the front garden. During this, I learned a lot about her older brother and sister and about Hannah Montana and the Jonas Brothers. Melody came over when we were getting ready to move some small rocks from the back yard to make a path in the newest garden section in the front yard. Those girls worked hard putting rocks in the wheelbarrow and bringing it up front, while I planted shrubs. Niomi and Melody had never met before, and it was very sweet to see Niomi making sure that Melody felt included and was given tasks appropriate for her size.

And thus, the Neighbor Girl tradition lives on. And I’ve realized just how settled into this neighborhood I am, and how happy that makes me.

*it all went to hell in Junior High, of course, but I think it’s that way for pretty much everyone.

**I figured that keeping the plants above the ground would keep them safe from dogs and rabbits, especially considering that two years ago, I witnessed a rabbit eating the last little stump of my last tomato plant while, 6 feet away, Ricky was staring at a squirrel in the neighbor’s yard.

Drill Chuck-a-lucka-lucka

Some peole are born handy. Others get divorced, buy a house, and have handiness forced upon them. Guess which one I am? In fact, three or four years ago, you could have easily convinced me that “drill chuck” was a hockey team position or a cut of beef. Today, I walked into Ace Hardware and bought a new drill chuck, because I couldn’t find mine, and also a few other small items. Then I came home and

*repaired my back garden hose by chopping off the balky end and installing a new one (yay once again for internet tutorials).

*shoveled the potting soil out of a 1/2 whiskey barrel left here by the former home owners. Not only did I get some good soil for my rock garden,* but I found they’d half-filled it with some nifty rocks.

*Using a 3″ diameter hole saw (something I had no idea existed before last weekend — yay for the nice men at Bomgaars), I drilled a hole low in the side of the whiskey barrel. THAT was work, let me tell you; the barrel is hardwood and I had to brace the drill against my knee and follow the hole saw with a couple of runs with a 1/8″ bit before I could knock the hole out.

*Using my woefully inadequate muscles and grunt-chanting “lift with you knees,” I moved the barrel to the front of my house to serve as a hose pot for my front yard hose. Not as decorative as the lovely metal and pottery ones you see in catalogues, but $100+ cheaper and the hose doesn’t have to be coiled as neatly.

And now I’m going to take a handy little nap.

*which I weeded and hoed yesterday, preparing empty areas marked out last summer for plantings this weekend.

A nifty parrot factoid

I *just* learned, from an ornithologist, that parrots’ tongues have lateral preference — that is, they have “handedness.” Thus, as you can see in the pic at the bottom of the previous post, Zeke has a “right handed” tongue! Who knew?

He also seems to be right-handed in his foot preference for tricks, holding food, and stepping up to my finger.