Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Chores Galore

For those of you that might of noticed my absence last Tuesday, I assure you that I am in the pink of health and all is well.  OK...maybe my time management skills are running amuck and my tendency to behave compulsively in my effort to get everything that didn't get accomplished over the winter done in a matter of a week ...perhaps those things could stand a bit of improvement.  Other than that and the fact that last Tuesday my attention was refocused thanks to  my new iPhone 5S dying a tragic death, all is well in my world.

As for the subject today,  my preoccupation with getting my gardens in.

One of the things about living in the middle of the country is that our weather tends to be "hit or miss" as to the number of days between November and May that are conducive to being outdoors.  Oh sure there are the occasional sunny warm day that begs you to step out your front door.  These are usually followed up with a blast of wind, a drenching rain, or a freezing  snow storm to remind you that you are  in the Midwest. So it isn't really all that surprising that sometime around the middle of May, a lot of Midwesterners collectively lose their minds when the sun makes an appearance.  It's very much like bugs being lured into a bug zapper.  The light beckons us.

We step out into the world and are amazed that the sun is still in the heavens and want to participate in all that is Spring.  (FYI..This need to spend copious amounts of time basking in the sun, is going to play havoc with my blogging schedule.) 

Thought Number One:  Gardening is not a hobby as much as it is an addiction.

While our hardiness zone for planting here in Kansas says that our  "suggested" last day for frost is May 15th, most hardy and hail (glutton for failure types) start heading for the local nurseries around April 1st.  We tell ourselves that we are just going for inspiration and/or  for starter seedlings that we won't plant  into the earth for weeks yet.  Of course, all the truly avid gardeners, are lying when they say this and invariably end up buying shopping carts full of plants.  One would think that the common occurrence of snow in April here would act as a deterrent but no...the delusional thinking of a Midwestern gardener knows no bounds.  The signal to get started is the convergence of the sun actually shining AND the thermometer registering 65 degrees or above.  It doesn't really matter if those two events only last a few minutes, the starting gun has sounded.

That, too,  is my cue to spend hours and hours AND hours in my yard.  This act of coming out of hibernation does not go unnoticed by my neighbors.  Those of you that have followed my blog for awhile might remember the comment from the neighbor that suggested that people that "waste" all their time gardening are crazy.  The fact she said this to me as I was planting a new flower bed pretty much negated any chance of her being my favorite neighbor. She certainly doesn't gain points if it turns out that there is a measure of truth in her statement.

Thought Number Two:  Beauty is In the Eye of the Beholder

Just as people have diverse tastes in food, clothing, home styles...and everything else, what people consider a pretty yard is equally varied.  This time of year there are garden tours just about every weekend.  There is something so interesting about getting to peek into the backyards of  people that have fashioned some version of a personal sanctuary.

One of the backlashes of garden tours is that the more "ideas" you see the more compelled you are to try new things in your own garden.  Last weekend I had the pleasure of visiting 6 gardens on the Johnson County Master Gardeners tour and came home with renewed energy to rework my planting beds.  A garden is always making subtle changes without any help at all.  Nature has a way of  creating and destroying a landscape without help from humans but drastic changes are immediate when a human gets involved.

BUT..as with many things, I am aware that planting gardens have become passe.  As a Realtor I hear many people say they wouldn't want the extra work required by anything  other than the most basic landscaping.  I recognize I am an anomaly in my neighborhood.   Most people want 100 percent turf. They prefer no obstacle to mow around.  The thought of deadheading flowers or watering planters is unnerving.   I laughed when one neighbor told me that she was striving for a low maintenance lawn that consists of clover, crabgrass and dandelions.  In my heart of hearts though, I can't think of many things that are as pretty as a beautiful garden. I guess this is just one of those things that I choose to follow my own path.  If you need me, I am out in my yard.

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Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Two Thoughts over Three Problems

 Thought Number One:  You know what they say about "Good Intentions".

 Last Tuesday morning, I had every intention of posting my "Two Thoughts For Tuesday" and those good intentions hit a  brick wall.  I am sure you have heard the quote "the road to hell is paved with good intentions."  Well..last week I traveled that road and it was not a pleasant journey.

So.... do you mind if I complain a bit?  I know you get tired of listening to the never ending lineup of complainers  that surround you but, I think you will agree with me on a couple of points why my complaints are warranted. 

You might remember that just 10 days ago or so, it was freezing here in the middle of the country only to be followed up with 80 degree weather within a matter of days.  While not wanting to look a gift horse in the
Not convinced this is a gift horse.
mouth, the extreme weather change brings on a bit of urgency for the Midwest gardener.  Well...I shouldn't even say "Midwest"  I should say Johnson County, Kansas gardeners because this is "extreme" gardening here.  We not only fight the weather but we fight each other for product and services.  While there are thousands of landscapers and various lawn and garden related service providers, there seems to be an extreme shortage of  any that actually know anything about yards or gardens.

I had hired a landscaping company to put in a number of plants and trees in a back portion of my yard.  The bid consisted of planting  a large tree, 2 six foot shrubs and a lot of smaller plants, plus they were to enlarge the planting bed and sod the area in front of it.  A week or so ago, I realized that the large tree they planted  isn't deciduous...it's dead.  Also, the 2 shrubs that were supposed to be Rose of Sharons...aren't. That is just a couple of things that made an appearance on the bid, that didn't actually show up at the final party.  Sooo...I made a several calls and sent several emails to ask for a meeting to go over the "situation". 

I wish I could of recorded last Tuesday's morning meeting but I doubt that "landscaper man" would of been too happy to be videotaped. Still, that would of equaled things out a bit as I am not particularly happy, having to deal with a half-assed job.   At one point he tried to convince me that the tree was alive and just needed time to green up but when he shook the tree to reinforce his position...it fell over.  Seriously...the tree fell...prone onto the ground.  As the poor slob stood there over the prostrated tree,  he said something about " it needed staked."   He seemed oblivious to the fact the tree was a variety of EVERGREEN that was currently the color of tanned leather....and laying on the ground.  It was all I could do, not to yell "timber" and pronounce it dead on the spot.  

I know that you don't know me all that well, but you might of figured out over the last few years of reading my posts, that I am a proficient complainer.  Yes, I am gifted.   At one point in the conversation, I asked him if he was proud of the work he had done and would he mind if  I took pictures to show all  the ladies at all the various clubs I belong to.  Before waiting for his response,  I started snapping a number of shots with my Iphone.

The conversation quickly made a U-turn with promises of  a "live" tree being swapped for the pathetic plant laying on the ground.  Although, it must be said, I haven't seen evidence of the swap actually happening yet.

Onward to my next gripe.   I switched cable companies.  Against all logic I decided to switch from a totally workable system into the abyss of the unknown because of "price."  I knew this was an endeavor that would drive me to the brink insanity, yet, I kept telling myself for $165 dollar DIFFERENCE per month, I should try to go the distance and go with a new company.

To be honest, I did the research.  I talked to people using the service. I talked to the local representative and asked all the possible questions and pointed out the myriad of reasons my house would be the worst "install" that their company would ever be unfortunate enough to have to deal with.  The local rep for his part, rolled his eyes, assured me that their installers weren't of the mediocre quality of my last cable, phone, Internet  provider and they could install this baby in two hours.

 Needless to say, one lonely little installer came at 8:00 AM on Wednesday.  At 8:00 PM he called for a second installer to join him.  After the two commiserated over the difficulty of the job, they ran "temporary wires" until they can send in someone else to run new cables. 

None of that came as anything close to unexpected.  I have moved 21 times in my adult life and when it comes to cable companies, it's not that my attitude is "the glass is half empty".  My attitude is that the glass is bone dry and has remnants of lime deposits clinging to the bottom.  I expect problems.  I count on the fact there are going to be problems in all arenas:  installation, technical and billing.    Yes, I know this trifecta of aggravation is an absolute when switching cable providers.

I wasn't exactly shocked the following morning when I turned on my TV to watch the news and it didn't work.  Here is a portion of my "chat" on the customer service chat line:

I am not entirely sure the phrase "as good as resolved" is easing my mind.

AND last but not least...the third reason, I never got around to posting last Tuesday. 

You might remember my concerns over being called for jury duty last year in my posts Looking from Both Sides Now and  Who Is the Liar?

Last Tuesday, I was notified that I AGAIN was called for jury duty.  Now don't go jumpin' to the conclusion I don't live to serve BUT the problem with this summons is that it was to serve in Denton County, TEXAS.
I live in Johnson County, Kansas and have for nearly 10 years now.

The basic problem with jury duty notifications besides that pesky question "Do you deem yourself mentally competent to serve?" which at best is a trick question...is that they have that threat in there about " if you fail to respond there will be a bench warrant  issued on your behalf."  I don't really know why a bench warrant is called a bench warrant as opposed to using the word "arrest" but I don't think it has to do with a cozy little area to rest and relax.

If I won lotteries like I "win" jury duty, I would be rich and I wouldn't be worried about my impending arrest on an outstanding warrant.  Needless to say, on Tuesday between bargaining for a living tree, Wednesday watching the installer(s) commiserate over my house being the worst install EVAH....to which I kept nodding and saying "told-ja-so"...I now was dealing with  the powers that be in Texas to recognize I moved out of their lovely state in 2005 and serving on jury duty just wasn't going to be convenient for me.

Thought Number Two:  Providing I am not in jail...I am confident that this is going to be a good week...right???

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