Monday, September 30, 2013

Mastering Adaptability

I've become slightly obsessed with our hummingbird feeder. Maybe it's because those little crack addicts come back to eat about every ten minutes throughout the day. Or maybe it's because they're such a contrast to my other daily companions—the two fur-covered giant slugs that pretend to be cats.

Having jumped into the pool of all that is woo woo in recent years, I couldn't help but swim over to the deep end and Google what hummingbird spirits represent from an energetic standpoint. I loved what I found.
  • Hummingbirds represent enjoyment of life and lightness of being.
  • They symbolize adaptability, swiftness, and ability to respond quickly. 
  • They advocate bringing playfulness and joy into your everyday life.
  • They're resilient and can tirelessly travel long distances.
  • They are present and enjoy the sweet things.
  • As a spirit guide animal, their purpose is to lift up negativity. 
You guys, I totally want to be a hummingbird.

I want to be more adaptable and lighter. I don't want to let a flea problem in my house put me into a tailspin. I want to enjoy the sweet things and keep finding playfulness. And maybe learn to fly backwards...

Last week I was scanning TV channels and I found a show about these birds on National Geographic. Fascinating. Their little hearts beat 1200 times a minute when they're flying. About 8000 plant species depend on hummingbirds for reproduction. They expend so much energy flying that they have to perch and rest 80% of the time. And they have to eat every 15 minutes. Thus, the addiction-like behavior at our feeder.

I think these little guys are something to aspire to be like. Fast and active and playful when in flight. Then relaxed the rest of the time. Seems like the perfect balance.

My new mantra during harried work days has become, "Be adaptable like the hummingbird." I'm hoping that focusing on that attitude will help me keep my wings flapping to the beat of greater joy.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Fruits and Labors

I think this may be the first time since, oh, 2010 that I've written blog posts two days in a row. I just felt compelled to share some of our early farmy gardeny progress—particularly after seeing the sweet Chipoltle video that  seemed to be all over Facebook today.

This past weekend, Mr. W and I hit up a sale at our favorite local nursery and were able to get two varieties of fig trees and an avocado tree all for 50% off. Yes, we were psyched.

We hope this avocado tree does better than the one we planted
in Hollywood. That sucker only gave us 4 avocados in 2 years.

I wasn't super psyched, however, when I went to water the new fig trees yesterday afternoon. Mr. W told me I could just unstake one of our sprinklers (we haven't put in a proper sprinkler system yet) and aim it down the hillside where the trees are planted.

I can't remember what kind of figs these are but they stay greenish yellow. Hopefully
that'll help keep them camouflaged so the birds don't eat all of them.

Now, these are pivoting rainbird-ish sprinklers, so I thought for sure I was going to get wet. I was so careful, directing the arc of water away from myself, even as the sprinklerhead ticked back and forth. Victory.

But then I went to put the sprinkler back in its hole in the grass. And I'm not sure what exactly happened or where the water even came from—the spigot was off—but a huge blob of water bubbled up from nowhere and shot me square in the forehead. Right in the bangs. One eye lost its mascara. Thankfully none of the neighbors were outside to see me in my inept farmgirl glory.

At the nursery sale, we also bought lavender, curly kale, and brussels sprouts. Mr. W planted the veggies near a bunch of seeds he put down the week before. Unfortunately, the writing has disappeared from his markers so I have no idea what's sprouting up over there. Could be kinda fun. Mystery farming.

Drip line sprinklers are much more bangs-friendly than the other sprinklers...

Planting these was so relaxing. They smelled delicious!

Another purchase from the nursery that has my whistle whetter than a mad hen...or something like a cute little hops plant. After reading a couple different articles about people growing hops, we thought it would be fun to give it a try. Perhaps we'll be making beer before we make wine!

We're so brewing garage Guinness.

We're lucky because although all of our new plants are just babies, we have a pretty cool selection of stuff already on the property. Our neighbor planted an extensive garden on some of the land we've agreed to share. Though the tomatoes, melons, and squash have been great, the trees are what I find most exciting for fall. Apple cobbler and persimmon bread, here we come.

These are just asking to be thrown into a dutch oven with a bunch of sugar and butter.

Last Christmas I used persimmons to make bread for a few of the neighbors. Maybe
this year I'll just start a side business.

This is one of my other favorite neighbors. She's all about the neigh.

Our Meyer lemon tree is starting to bloom again, too. I need to find some good recipes for these kinds of lemons. Mr. W made some lemon oil with them but the bottle of yellow liquid looked a little disconcerting, so I haven't tried it on anything yet...

Not quite sure what to do with the pink peppercorns that are everywhere, either. We ate some off the tree recently and they were surprisingly sweet. I'll have to do some online searching. Maybe I can find some sort of Meyer lemon pepper recipe that combines both of our bounties.

It's definitely exciting to be able to walk into the backyard and find ingredients for dinner. The dirt that seems to be under my fingernails more regularly now is a small price to pay for so much good stuff.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Fun with Future Fixes to the House

When Mr. W was working in Vancouver earlier this year, he became super skilled with a 3D design program called Sketchup. Given that he was stuck inside avoiding torrential downpours quite often, he had plenty of time to work on potential designs for the new house. He built an entire to-scale model of the house and even started playing with front and backyard plans.

It's been so much fun watching his designs evolve—I just had to share them here. The chicken peeking in the bathroom window above has to be one of the best details...

Although the overweight levitating cat on the couch is also a top contender.

Mr. W actually made the stock cat graphic fatter somehow to be more accurate to real life... If I ever walk into the living room and find Monty cat laying with his legs sticking straight out like that, I'm going to be one sad kitten.

Here's what the living room looks like in reality now:

We need to buy a new floorlamp. I hate the one next to the couch. And the TV is temporarily balancing on a $20 IKEA coffee table, but Mr. W is planning to build a proper corner shelf for it at some point. I'm sure he'll do a rendering in Sketchup for it...

The biggest renovation we're focused on figuring out right now is a remodel of the kitchen. Here's a pic of how it looked last fall for reference (I haven't taken any recent ones but it mainly looks the same with just way more stuff crammed into it):

We talked about trying to salvage the existing cabinets but we're reconfiguring the layout and we think it's just going to be way too much work. And they kind of smell like old people. I apologize if you come to visit and your water glass stinks of Efferdent and Aspercreme.

Here are a couple (out of about a dozen) renderings Mr. W has created for the future kitchen. This is an evolving process and probably won't get executed until sometime next summer. That should be just enough time for us to figure out the official cabinet layout we want...

The kitchen will be our first big reno, followed by the two bathrooms. If we can stay married through those endeavors, we'd like to eventually add on to the master and create an en-suite bathroom and walk-in closet. My fingers and toes are crossed that this is within our budget (and that our marriage survives) because Mr. W told me I could hang my disco ball in the closet. I'm going to rig the light so when I turn it on, it plays Stayin' Alive. And then I shall dance for hours in there.

So that's where our current house dreaming and scheming stands. In closing, here's another look at the potential bathroom with the peeping chicken I so adore.


Whatdya guys think?

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

This Place Is for the Birds

The lobby of my new vet's office

It's not a well known fact, and he might kill me for putting it on the Internet, but Mr. W is a closeted crazy bird man. It all started when he and his college sweetheart got a parrot. Whenever he tells stories about the parrot, he gets this nostalgic little love twinkle in his eye. And if we go somewhere where there are birds in cages, he gravitates toward them immediately. Like a cockatoo on sunflower seeds.

Although the birdiness of our new property didn't factor into the decision to buy it, it's kind of a fun perk—particularly given Mr. W's fancy for feathered friends.

I hung our hummingbird feeder last week and was disappointed when some of the birds came to check it out but seemed perplexed by what they were supposed to do with it. I realized the little tin flowers on it had faded, so I repainted them red and that seemed to do the trick.

I love hummingbirds. The helicopters of the avian world.

This morning, I looked outside and saw that some woodpeckers had discovered the newly exposed sections of our fence. We plan to build a walkway down to our lower yard at some point and Mr. W got so antsy the weekend we moved, he busted out the saw and cut the section where we intend to put the path.

I've never seen more than one woodpecker in the same place before. We used to get them in Hollywood occasionally, but only one at a time.

So I was really shocked when a third showed up. What would you call that? A gaggle of woodpeckers? A worple of woodpeckers? A ménage á pecker? It almost makes up for being one pecker short here during the week... Bah! Sorry couldn't resist.

I haven't snapped any pictures of them, but we also get lots of blue jays, crows, doves, and some other little grey and white birds that do a funny sort of dance when they walk on the grass.

When we first bought the house, my parents gave us a birdwatching book and a pair of binoculars as a gift. I guess it's time to break them out. It'll keep me busy in between pecker visits...

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Packing a Machete and Buckets Full of Naked Ladies

Even though Mr. W and I have owned our new house for a year, we're still getting a grip on all the "gear" we need to successfully live here. Back in Hollywood, city-living gear included things like fuel-efficient cars, deadbolts, and hiking shorts with enough pockets for your keys, phone, and sometimes sunscreen. The musts in our new parts are a tad different.

This weekend, we added a rototiller and machete to our arsenal of country-living equipment.

The women working at Home Depot didn't even know what Mr. W was talking about when he told them he wanted to buy the discounted rototiller in front of the store. And when the checkout guy at OSH scanned the machete, he laughed and said, "Who're you guys killing this weekend?" Apparently even though the new gear seems customary for these parts, it's not...

I look forward to seeing Mr. W in action with his Crocodile Dundee weapon. I think he'll need a special hat to complete the ensemble. Here he is rototilling the side yard where we plan to create a raised bed garden at some point in the near future.

Mr. W was covered in dust after this but I think he had fun playing with his new toy.

Last week, I received another crucial item for our new circumstances: Garden boots. Flip flops just leave your feet way too dirty and although sneakers work pretty well, I figured these would be handy in the winter when things get wet and muddy. They also offer greater protection against lizards or giant spiders that decide to run across my feet while I'm weeding.

Yes I got polka-dotted boots. Just because a girl is getting
dirty doesn't mean she can't look cute doing it.

Speaking of weeding, while I was sweating away in the front yard Monday, our neighbors drove up in their golf cart (bearing fresh melons from their garden—gotta love that) and taught me that the bulbs I keep finding all over the yard are called Naked Ladies.

The worst looking naked ladies I've ever seen...
Seriously, these bulbs are the bane of my existence. They multiply like ants on a candy bar and are such a pain in the ass to dig up. Why not leave them alone, you ask? Because the plants they produce die off when the weather is warm and leave mounds upon mounds of scraggly, dried up leaves everywhere. So I've been digging up hundreds of them since the spring.

Our green waste bin has been filled to the brim pretty much every weekend
since we bought the house. It was a delight to fill it with the lady bulbs.

Amidst the garden tools we brought up from Hollywood, I discovered a little handheld pickaxe and after using it to pluck a bunch of these babies from the dirt, I literally said aloud, "Pickaxe, where have you been all my life?!" Country gear. It's the best.

I think we'll probably be working on our property until the day we die. Or perhaps become bedridden from straining too much in the garden, but it's not a bad backdrop for such hard work.

Midcentury rambler, how I love you so. Maybe not your old driveway, but the rest
of you for sure.

Please disregard the dead grass in the corner. I'm still mastering the sprinkler situation.

Fuchsias were my favorite flowers when I was a little girl. I think I called them
"fairy flowers." They kind of look like little dancing fairies, don't they?

I'm sure I'll be posting a bajillion more pictures and stories about our transformations to the yards. We have many dirty days ahead of us. Hopefully no one loses any limbs under the swipe of the machete...

For another perspective on gardening, hop over to The Path to Wonderful and check out my latest post.