Thursday, October 27, 2011

Dog Obedience

I forgot to say that Keeper passed his adult obedience course top of the class with 100%. Not bad considering all the other dogs are fully adult and he is only five and a half months old.  

Well done, Keeper. I am so proud of you :-)

So much to do, so little time - and money

It's taken me ages to decide what to do with the garden. Yes, I have planted the odd thing here and there. Keeper has been the deciding factor whether they lived or died. But I now have some wooden planter boxes which I intend to trial square foot gardening in.

The massive trees outside the kitchen window - an ancient plum tree, an equally ancient jacaranda, a chinese bell tree, a huge and rather ugly palm tree, and a smaller and somewhat straggly palm have all gone. All were planted far too close to the house, considering how big they are when mature - and believe me, these had reached full maturity. This left me with blocked guttering and downspouts, and a huge amount of light blocked out.

I got three quotes for removal. They ranged from $250-$1,000. Quite the price range, considering all three were from reputable companies and all three companies have indemnity insurance, and all three quotes were for the same work. I had decided on the cheapest, not only because they were the cheapest but because the man also volunteered information which told me quite clearly he knew what he was talking about - things that the others didn't mention.

While the issue was relegated to the back burner due to my father being hospitalised, I arrived home from visiting him in intensive care one day to discover the work had been done. Fortunately by the company I had decided to go with. I acknowledge I had indicated that I would accept his quote - he took it as a done deal. So. The trees are gone. All I am left with at the front is a fully mature silky oak - the bane of my life since it sheds incessantly, and a fully mature Norfolk pine tree. However, they do not block my light and therefore I'm leaving those for the landlady to deal with, no doubt in the far distant future. It all looks rather bare, so I have been scouring my favourite gardening blogs, books and NZ Gardener magazine for inspiration. I have decided (since that front corner of the section is shaded by the house, though open shade now the trees have been removed) that there will be two clumping fairy bamboos, and several hostas. Possibly a Chatham Island Forget Me Not. In the house, still the sitting room to sort out.

I have a few problems with this set up.  For one thing, it all looks so bland. It needs a colour injection.

The big two seater and three seater couches looked great at our old house - the 100 year old villa with big dimensions. They sit a little like giants in this much smaller space. We haven't lit the logburner this winter because we can't push them far enough away to avoid probably singeing the fabric on the arms. I'm thinking of either selling the whole thing and going for a corner lounge suite, or possibly keeping the two seater only and getting a recliner to tone in. Since spring is in full throttle, this is not something to worry about immediately. Any time before now and when we would like to light the logburner next winter will do. 

Those salmon curtains are possibly the most hideous things I've ever seen in my life. And they match absolutely nothing I own. They will be going, and will be replaced with something with warmer tones. 

The 1 metre quare pine coffee table which has done me proud for years and years is now too big and cumbersome for this smaller place. It has been sold and replaced by a pine chest of much smaller proportions. 

I'd really like to get a rug to go under it in warm reds and oranges or similar. 

I also need to get some artwork on the walls. We have hung a few pieces since this photo was taken the first week we moved in. Essentially everything is in the same place though, as the room leaves little scope for re-arranging. 

So that's where the "So much to do" bit comes in.  

The "So little time" part is due to the fact that I work full time, that there is only me to do all this, and I actually have a life to fit in somewhere along the way as well. 

And the "So little money"...... well, that part probably doesn't need any enlarging. However, we have been promised that this is a long term rental, so the way I see it is that I have lots of time to accomplish everything I want to do.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

October Craziness

What a mad, mad month October has been!! 

The first two weeks were spent mainly at the hospital as my father fought for his life on a ventilator. It was stressful, waiting to see if being on full life support would allow his body to rest enough to continue to fight on its own again. My Dad is a fighter though. He has always been a fit and active man, and at 81 years old he wasn't going to let a little thing like Legionnaires Disease (which has a 33% mortality rate!!) and a severe pneumonia stop him for long. The intensivist told me that if he hadn't been so fit and active he would not be here today. He is back home again, but the illness has taken its toll. He has gone from looking much younger than his age, to now looking much older and is suddenly frail. It's hard to see him like this. Time will tell as to how much of his former vitality he is able to recover, but I am just thankful to still have him.

Our little Delphi got run over by a car (we think) in late September, and had to have her badly broken leg pinned and plated. Then came a month of house confinement. That may sound easy, but it becomes a shuffling game when you have three  cats and two dogs. Previously we kept the two ranch slider doors open all day and night with lengths of wood in the groove for security. This allowed the chihuahua and three cats free access in and out whenever they felt like it. The labrador is outside most of the day and is allowed inside in the evening when we are watching television or whatever, to lie on his bed. All that changed to accommodate Delphi. Suddenly we had to manage letting cats and dogs inside and outside again, but without letting a determined Delphi escape. She did, a couple of times, but she is such a sweet little thing that I only had to call to her and she came running straight back to me, thank goodness. And because the labrador and she are play buddies, suddenly they had to be kept apart. All this while shuttling back and forth between the hospital and home. I am now a certified juggling expert, I do believe :-)

We have had a very rainy month of October. The lawns are shaggy within a week of being mowed, and it's been hard to mow them when it kept raining. A horrible sticky weed has errupted throughout the back garden. It clings to my skin if I try to pull it out, or to my clothes, and brings me out in a rash. Today I went out and used weedkiller on it. It hasn't flowered yet, so I am hopeful that I can get on top of it with regular weedkill. The jasmine that is the bane of my life (but may be replaced as such by the sticky weed) has sprung forth again with the warm weather - that got blitzed today as well.

The ornamental cherry tree and the Fairy magnolia I planted to mark Old Sophie's grave are both flowering for the first time. I was convinced the cherry sapling had died, as I drove around town and saw all the trees with their spring leaves and blossoms - while mine sat still dormant !! It has double blossoms which open pink and fade to white, and it is blossoming at the same time that the leaves are forming, so the tree has a two-toned effect. Beautiful. I have tried to take photos, but I only have a point and click camera and it simply doesn't capture it well. I have resorted to a Google image, although the leaves in this picture are reddish and mine are a soft, spring green. And the mature blossoms are pure white. But this was the closest image I could find.

I have precious days off now, so some intensive housework is needed, as well as some intensive gardening. Keeper the labrador completes his obedience training tonight, I hope. He should fly through the assessment, however last week he was shocking and distracted  and not paying attention to what was being asked of him, so it has thrown an element of doubt into my mind. Since he is only 5 months old, the trainers have reassured us that all puppies have days like that and not to worry. 

Well, I will happily farewell October this year, and with no regrets. 

May November be wonderful !!