Boxwood Blues

After bricking in more of the seating area, and plotting where I want my herbs to go, I noticed that the boxwood hedge around the holly needed pruning, and took out my trusty bypass clippers and started whacking at it.  Then I noticed that all the gunk that I'd just let drop down into the hedge through the years had settled into the nooks and crannies to rot.

Ooh, bonus compost! I grabbed a rake and began shaking the hedge to make it drop all the decomposed matter to the bottom, where I worked it into the surrounding soil around the pavers, which needs amending, so I can plant ground cover. With the detritus removed, all the dead limbs on the interior of the hedge stood out like sore thumbs.

Out came the hand pruners! And away went the dead limbs. A large pile of prunings began forming under the hedge.  I should have stopped there, but I noticed that a lot of branches were crossed and trying to grow around each-other and thought "well, that can't be good for them!"

So then I pruned off crossing branches, and grabbed the loppers for the larger limbs. The result up-close was a nice, airy space for new growth to come in. Except, of course, two problems:

1) I'd gotten the itch to prune in summer, rather than dormant season, so conditions aren't ideal for the hedge to recover from the shock. This summer has been relatively cool, so I'm hoping that won't be much of a problem.

2) When I took a step back to get the big picture, I realized I'd  pruned big, fat holes into the hedge. It's hideous! Where this last photo shows empty space, there used to be a carpet of leaves. Now it looks like the bad haircut mama gave you and sent you to school with, so the other kids could laugh mercilessly at you.

It took a few hours, plus 3 different types of cutting implements, a rake, and a shovel (to work the compost into the soil) to ruin a boxwood that my grandfather took years to shape and train. Defeated, I turned toward the house, looked up and noticed the cedar bonsai also had decomposing material stuck in its branches. I grabbed the rake and shook out as much as possible, and realized that it, too, was in dire need of pruning...


We Skipped Right Through Spring

Two weeks ago, at the end of May, the rain and cold made one last blast through the Bay Area. Usually by then, the fireplace has been long cleared of the winter's ashes, but at that point, I built one last fire. I definitely prefer being warm. I'm miserable in the cold.  I'm even wretchedly cold when I walk into an air conditioned room in the middle of summer! And speaking of that sunny season, last week, we went straight to it from winter.

My vegetable garden, slow to start due to the long cold snap (and I planted late because I hate grubbing in the garden when it's cold and wet, see previous paragraph), initially breathed a sigh of relief, then wilted a little with the sudden rush of heat! I planted beans on April Fool's day (photo above right), and am so glad I took photos, because the subsequent rains washed out all my handwritten tags (I thought Sharpies were waterproof!) that tell me which variety I planted where. Two months later, the poles are filled with vines (left).

I didn't plant as much as I have in the past, but I have been busy otherwise in the garden, hacking at weeds in the middle yard between the main house and the original house (which is now a giant storage shed), breaking up the hard clay, and laying bricks for a seating area and a little strip of soil (behind the grill) for plants next to the fence. I'm thinking herbs in front with Solanum Jasminoides climbing the fence behind. The seating area will be tested tomorrow (today? Sunday) afternoon, when I have my first guests since I returned home from France almost a year ago. It still needs a lot of work, but I'm making progress, little by little.


Where Life is Led

Another Jam at Eve's, May 2010
One of my online contacts recently wrote a blog entry about love letters. Every line written to her had been in electronic format, and she longed for the shared tactility of a written letter. We have moved from valuing the tangible to preferring the convience of some vague series of electronic signals that don't use perceptible physical space. Cash may be king, but electronic transfers negate the need for a receipt, or direct human interaction.
Accidental Exposure, May 2010
As I read about "sweet notes crammed with inside jokes, long letters filled with promises of things to come and messages short on punctuation but long on thought" written to her at different stages, I was struck by the fact that I have no such collection, virtual or solid. No one has ever composed promise-filled sweet nothings just for me. It made me a little sad.

Deep Thought, March 2010
Much of that reality is due to my own choices. I am a workaholic, and when not working, I am a recluse. I socialize, but rarely go beyond the superficial. I fall for men who are, ultimately, unavailable to me. All this largely because as much as I want to be able to trust in someone else, fundamentally I believe that the only person I can truly rely on is myself. I've created a world that is less secure, and more lonely, than the one I had planned. But since it's the only world I know, I would be hard pressed to create a new one.