May 2006 Archives

Pulling Ivy

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Disclaimer: none of the photographs below were taken by me. I might go outside with a camera this weekend and replace them with some of my own.

Well since Monday's a holiday, I'm going to take a four-day weekend starting tomorrow. Next week I'll be putting in plenty of hours, since I'll be flying out to California early enough on Wednesday to attend meetings in the afternoon, and flying back on Friday late enough to attend meetings in the morning--bleh.

Soooo, what will I do with my four days off? Pull ivy--oh joy. I can't actually pull ivy all four days, since the first day will wipe out my back for the following one or two days. I'll probably pull ivy on Friday and then, if I can move at all, paint on Saturday, then try for a repeat. Large sections of my front yard are covered with ivy, under the big oak trees and trailing down to the driveway. The ivy spreads and climbs like wildfire. I'd like to rip it all out, but the task is way beyond me. Pulling ivy hurts my back so much that I can only do it for an hour or so at a time.

There are multiple varieties of ivy and a plethora of vines growing here and there on my half-acre lot. The predominant form is English Ivy, which is the only one that was planted intentionally as far as I can tell, and is what I'll be pulling this weekend:

Some previous owner decided to plant this all over the front and around the perimeter of the lot: the cryptic cry for help of a confused mind? This isn't a picture of one of my own oak trees, but it could be:

The second most prevalent is Virginia Creeper, which grows all over this area:

This stuff can give some people contact dermatitis, but I don't get a reaction from it, fortunately. It grows like wildfire too; it all does in this climate.

I may also have a considerable amount of poison ivy. It looks just like this:

but it's hard to distinguish from a couple of other, harmless, vines. I've never gotten a reaction from it, but I always wear gardening gloves, jeans, and tennis shoes when I go out to pull ivy.

I have what look like wild grape vines growing alongside the house, creeping up the bay window. I've never seen any flowers or clusters on them, but they're almost certainly wild grapes:

When I googled them, the first picture that came up was on a website maintained by the elementary school my son attended. Apparently there are three varieties that grow in this area.

I have wild morning glory vines, the kind that are aka "wild potato vines":

These things are incredibly tough; mountain climbers could use these vines for rappelling. It's almost impossible for me to tear them out, so I cut them off, which just means they come back thicker every year.

In the front, I'm letting some stuff grow that I hope will turn out to be wisteria:

I haven't seen any flowers on it, but I kept it cut back to the ground until a couple of years ago.

My next door neighbor's honeysuckle is spilling over the fence and spreading rapidly, but since I love the way it smells I leave it alone:

In addition to all that I have at least three types of vines that I can't identify. My efforts at landscaping consist primarily of beating back the wildness that wants to take over my house and yard. Wish me luck.

Phone hell

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I spent hours on the phone this afternoon, changing the dates of an upcoming trip--a vacation this time--out to Jenner, CA. If you don't know where Jenner is I'm not gonna tell you--nyah nyah--I don't want it to become spoiled by massive numbers of tourists (heh, as if I had massive numbers of readers--oh well, I can dream). I can claim to be, technically, not a tourist there, since we own a piece of "unimproved" land a few miles north of there, a place where we used to go camping when we lived in northern Cal.

The proof of the lack of spoilage is in the fact that I was able to get the (100+ year old, supposedly haunted) cottage I wanted, at the Inn I wanted to stay in, booking only a month in advance. Alas I was only able to get that particular cottage for 6 nights; we'll have to move to another room for the last 4, but it will also be nice, with a sleeping loft for Mike.

Then I had to change the plane tickets--UGH. I always book tickets through Travelocity--they offer pretty low fares. But woe to the hapless traveler who wants to change a reservation made through Travelocity: any change requires a call to customer service (obviously outsourced to India), and two long, long waits on hold. That's not the worst of it: they charge a hefty fee to change tickets, and the new fares are invariably so much higher that it would be cheaper to tear up the original tickets and book a new trip from scratch.

After waiting on hold so long that I dug my cell phone charger out of my suitcase and plugged it in for fear the phone would die, I got the bad news that it would cost me $666 to change the tickets (*gasp* what evil is this!) I was so disgusted--the tickets had only cost $586 to begin with--that I told the guy I was going to try calling the airline directly and hung up in a snit. Hurray--I made the right call. I got the new tickets, almost all the flights I wanted, and ended up paying only $240 more. Sweet.

Last Night

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It's my last night in Arizona. Tomorrow I'll fly to Albuquerque, where I'll attend a meeting on Thursday before flying home on Friday. We, my mother, brother, and I, have been on an emotional roller-coaster for the past two weeks, but things have settled down now, and for the past few days we've gotten along well.

I should probably let some time pass before I try to write about all this. I'll leave tomorrow with a familiar feeling of regret that things I want to say have still gone unsaid and may always go unsaid. I had an unhappy childhood for which I myself am considered to have been responsible. When I was having recurring nightmares of abandonment at the age of twelve or thereabouts, it was considered to be my fault that my parents didn't like me.

Nobody wants to hear me bring any of this up. Explanation and/or reconciliation in adulthood is supposed to have made childhood misery moot. This week my mother chalked up my having been habitually left out of the fun to my having been a girl; nothing personal. I guess I was supposed to say, "Oh, well in that case I feel better about it all--here I always thought it was my fault." The fact that my grandfather and brother (who was 2 years older than I) were close was purely based on gender, according to my mother. My brother got to go places with my grandfather, while I stayed home with my grandmother. This was the gender fallout and supposedly balanced. While my brother spent time with grandpa--a good ol' boy who kept a bottle of whiskey in the garage, I spent time with grandma--an excessively righteous Dutch Reformed Church Lady whose expression of disapproval, a guttural "HAAH" pronounced with a short "a" like the "a" in "cat", is burned into our collective psyches.

Staying home with grandma meant helping her in the kitchen--shelling peas, snapping the ends off green beans, while my brother watched TV in the hardware store and ate lunch in the restaurant across the river.

Now it's May

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The calendar is blank for May. I've been posting over on livejournal instead of the blog. I've been in Arizona staying at my parents' house since April 26th. My father died last Monday, the first of May, the day on which my son turned 21.

On Friday, April 21st, my father was diagnosed with cancer, and it was all through him. From diagnosis to death was a mere ten days. It was a shock to us all, and hard to keep up with events as they unfolded.

Now most of the arrangements have been made and my brother, mother, and I are just waiting. The memorial service will be tomorrow morning. On Wednesday I'll fly to Albuquerque for a work-related meeting, then from there I'll go back home to Virginia.

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