Weight – It’s a Heavy Topic

Before I get started, let me say up front – it’s all relative. I get that some of you are a lot smaller, bigger, younger, older, etc., etc., etc., than I. This post is about me and my experience – which is probably not that dissimilar from something you may have faced a time or two – only with different statistics. Regardless of those statistics, it’s the emotions, the frustration and that feeling that is nothing short of HORROR, that I believe we have in common.  Weight loss – it’s a heavy topic. And so, with that…

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Art is Everywhere in Paris

The city of Paris is serious about keeping their city clean. In an effort to reduce litter and plastic use, you can find numerous water dispensers throughout the city; even sparkling water dispensers. They’re extremely popular and used regularly by locals and tourists alike. But, public water fountains aren’t a new thing in Paris. 

The Secret to the Perfect Vacation

We all want the perfect vacation. Plan as we might, sometimes things don’t go the way we expect. Reservations are made, itineraries have been mapped out, time and dollars have been budgeted and paid… and then bam. I made the apartment reservation for our October Paris trip last NOVEMBER. Confirmed – paid – done. Or, so I thought. 

Timing… and Culture is Everything

I don’t really like the saying “timing is everything”. It’s a passive outlook, forgoing any accountability in a result. It’s not the timing of “the thing” that matters, but the recognition of “the thing”.  For example I’m in Dallas visiting friends. On the way to meet them I stop at a coffee shop and order a double shot latte at the counter. Behind me in line is Wolfgang Puck.

Gardeners Rock

I am humbled. To all the gardeners out there, you rock. I’m not talking about the casual, “plant a daisy or two weekend gardeners”, although I’m sure you rock in other ways. I’m talking about those of you who take on the fight of reclaiming land from the wild, the eternal battle of beating back the poisonous, the invasive, and the just plain ugly. Damn. It’s tough. Or, as Agent K would say (Tommy Lee Jones in Men in Black), It’s “double-tough”.

New House; New Yard

Before the house

After the house

I’ve been in my new house a year now. The house is a modest 2400 sf, give or take a foot. The lot, however, is ginormous by normal neighborhood standards. There’s about 2.5 acres. Clearly, I’m not trying to reclaim all 2.5 acres, at least not right away. I am, however, hell-bent on having a civilized looking yard around the house and at the street. That’s not much to tackle, is it?

Uhm. Yes. It IS a lot to tackle. Turning even a tiny patch of wild Texas land into something civilized is a lot of work. I learned my lesson; lessons to be exact.

Lessons Learned by Gardening, About Gardening

“What did you learn?” you ask. Well:

  1. Hiring someone to put in your lawn is worth it if you need more than 3 pallets of sod. We installed 1 pallet ourselves. Then we hired someone to put in the other 11.
  2. Yes, in central Texas any lawn will need to be watered. It doesn’t rain nearly enough to keep any lawn grass alive. No matter if they tell you it’s “miracle grass”.
  3. Putting in a sprinkler system is mandatory (see #1). Putting in a sprinkler system in BEFORE you lay the sod is preferable. Otherwise you end up with a Frankenyard.
  4. When you build a house, make sure you monitor how and where the builder disposes of excess materials, ie: rock/brick, framing lumber, concrete, stucco, etc.
    • Digging a hole and burying the lumber creates a sink hole a year later, after the lumber rots away. One can break one’s ankle if one isn’t careful. (fortunately, it was just a sprang).
    • Pouring it on the ground and putting soil over it makes gardening a pain in the ass – if not impossible. Hacking through 4 inches of concrete in order to plant a red yucca was a feat of herculean effort. (Who did that? This girl!)
    • Stones that don’t fit, aren’t the right color, or are otherwise unusable shouldn’t be thrown in the yard and covered with soil. I am FOREVER digging up stones (some the size of a meatloaf!). Trying to use a shovel can be harrowing.
  5. Starting with a completely untamed land, you will NEVER get rid of weeds completely unless you use total grass-killer, a la Roundup. I don’t want to use it widely. Therefore, I have to be ok with “OK”.
  6. Poison ivy and poison oak suck. I can recognize poison ivy, I think. I don’t think I can recognize poison oak, but I’m not sure. Both of these situations make for a dangerous gardening experience when you have a shit-ton of grapevines to get rid of – which, btw, look a little like poison ivy… or is that poison oak. Oh, and, you’ll never, EVER get rid of the grapevines.

    Cool SPF 50+ shirt

  7. Don’t buy more plants than you can get in the ground in one day. For me I’ve decided that number is 4. First, it takes longer than you think to get a plant in the ground properly. First, you might have to be hacking through cement (see 4.a. above) or digging up hunks of Paloma Chop sandstone. You WILL have native vegetation – poisonous and non – to clear out. You’ll also have to add some real soil to the sand they call soil here. All of this takes time. If you buy more than 4 plants, you’ll have to keep the rest of the plants alive (in 100+ degree weather).
  8. Weeding is therapeutic. I actually enjoy weeding, up until the point when my hands cramp and feel as if they’re going to fall off. I can even open jars and bottles by myself after a couple of hours and a couple of Advil.
  9. The miracle of the SPF 50+ cool shirt! Love, LOVE them!! Beats having to slather on the sunscreen only to be caked with all the dirt that it collects. Sunscreen on the face and neck is still mandatory but combined with a cute hat you’ll keep your “I can’t believe you’re over 60!” skin looking good a bit longer.

Bottom Line

I could go on, but I’ll save it for another post – and I’m sure you get the drift. I learn something every time I work in the yard. Please share your tips with me. I’d like to learn my lessons the smart way from now on – by listening to others who have gone before.

Bottom line; Gardening ain’t for no sissies.