Flogging depression with gardening

Apparently, I’ve been depressed.

It sounds as though I make it out to be like it sneaked up on me, and caught me unawares. Well, that’s sometimes how it happens…at least for me. I realized recently, that I’d been falling into old patterns and having no feelings other than unhappy. Today I heard stories about two people I work with at The Big Box Store, who have decided to move away because they lost their homes, and most everything in the flood. There’s nothing holding them here, so they are moving to where they have family, and starting over. It really made me think about all the things that I have taken for granted, and how  fortunate I have been.

Do I have more bills than I can keep up with? Oh, yeah. Do I run like a chicken with my head cut off most days? Yep. Do I feel overwhelmed all the time? Most definitely. Has my ex-husband served me with a legal motion because he thinks he’s paying me too much, and wants a refund? Yes he did, that rotten so-and-so.  Has the heart of my city been destroyed, and so many people I know been displaced and won’t be able to get back into their homes before the snow flies? Yes, and it makes my heart ache.  Have I got more things around the house that need doing than I have time and energy for? Oh, man, do I. Did my engine light come on? Unfortunately, it did. Ugh.

I’ve been feeling really down because of all of this stuff on my plate, and didn’t realize how down I was until I realized I have been having a continual internal pity party for quite a while. Hearing about these two families who have had to make such a hard decision really jerked me out of my rut, and I was able to actually get up and do something. Feeling depressed is very much like wearing weights around your neck…it’s just so hard to get up and do anything. I wish I had realized I had sunk down so far before things got so out of whack.

The thing is, I have got so much to be grateful for, and that really should outweigh the bad stuff. Do I have a home to come home to at the end of a long day, that is dry and safe? Are my kids healthy? Am I gainfully employed? Do I have parents that have stuck by me and helped me every step of the way my whole life? Do I have good friends?  Did my garden produce food for me, even though I neglected it all summer? A resounding yes to all of these things and much more. I am so blessed, and it’s a huge bummer that I lost sight of that.

Before - ugh!

So, after I got home from working at The Big Box Store this morning, I took Older Son shopping. We came home, and then Younger Son and I spent three hours outside. He changed light bulbs over both doors and washed the van, and I spent my time cleaning up and organizing the rock beds that surround two sides of our house. The front one was especially bad, but it turns out that it didn’t take as long as I thought it would. Since I had extra time, and was on a roll, I weeded out my strawberry/herb garden and found some interesting things.

Rosemary on the right, Thyme on the left

I planted rosemary, thyme and oregano this spring, which grew fabulously. Now I have a nice bunch of fresh herbs to cook with. Actually, I like to just rub them in my hands and sniff them. There’s nothing that drops my blood pressure quick than smelling fresh thyme. Who needs drugs when you have a good kitchen herb garden!

After that was done, I took a look at my VERY over grown vegetable garden. We planted snow peas, corn, carrots and pumpkins. The only thing that did really well was the pumpkins. The vines and flowers are so pretty! Younger Son has been telling me for a couple of weeks about some really strange-looking pumpkins, and he thought the vines might be infected with something and the pumpkins were deformed. I finally made the effort to take a look tonight, and it turns out that not only do we have genuine baby pumpkins, but also spaghetti squash! I had a spaghetti squash that I ended up throwing in the compost heap this Spring, as it went bad before I could eat it. Apparently, they are very easy to grow!

We also have ground cherries and dill that re-seeded themselves from last year. The strawberries looked a little worse for the wear, but were holding their own and had sent out runners. We even had some carrots that survived all the rain we received. Even though Younger isn’t a veggie eater, I talked him into trying a carrot straight out of the garden, since he was the one that planted them. I was surprised that he actually ate it, but he did. I ate some too, and it was a little woody as it should have been picked earlier, but it was good anyway.

So, by 7:30 this evening, the rock beds had been cleared of all weeds, one garden had been weeded and watered, and the van had been scrubbed for the first time all summer (There wasn’t

Whoa! Now you can see the rocks in my rock bed!

much car washing going on with the city requesting water conservation during and after the flood, until just recently),  and I was able to sit down and eat supper with a genuine feeling of having accomplished something for the first time in a long, long time.

Tomorrow, I work on the inside of the house!





Emerald Ash Borer…a nasty little bug

I just got in from my morning walk, and I feel very lucky that I have a nice place to walk through. There’s a little dead-end street not far from my house called Arbor Ave, which is aptly named as the houses on that street are nestled into an almost woods like setting. You don’t see places like this in Western North Dakota very often, and it makes for a nice place to walk and relax. The nice thing about trees is that they provide shade and beauty. In many cases they provide food and a place to hang your hammock.

Sometimes they also provide danger.

The valley I live in is full of Siberian Elm, Ash and Cottonwoods. There are also Oak trees, but mostly only down by the river. We even have a very few American Elms that survived the Dutch Elm Disease that wiped them out in the 80’s across the country. The Siberian Elms (like the one I just chopped down) have a tendency to commit suicide and just die, but they are prolific in their reproduction.  The tree of primary concern these days is the Ash. The Emerald Ash Borer is on its way, and will devastate my little valley once it gets here. I’m lucky in that I got rid of the last of my trees. They were old and dying, so I don’t have anything to worry about, but the rest of my community will have an interesting fight on their hands. This parasite has been detected in Minnesota in 2009, so it’s only a matter of time before it spreads West.

In many cases, the houses here are packed in tight together, and there’s little room for cheap tree removal. In a lot of cases, these large old trees hang over power lines. It’s going to be a mess. It’s also going to be ugly and dangerous.  Now you can look down into the valley and see a nice lush blanket of green, and after the Emerald Ash Borer gets done with us, it will not be so pretty any more. I know that will change with time, as people replace these trees with something else, but it will be hard to watch them die. There will be a lot of people who won’t be able to pay to get these trees removed, and there will be a lot of dead trees standing around for a while, unless the City pitches in.  It’s my hope that these dying trees get replaced with hearty fruit and nut bearing trees, and then an element of permaculture can be implemented in our little valley.

So, why are these dead trees going to be dangerous? We have pretty high winds a lot of days here in North Dakota, and it’s not going to take much to blow down some of these very tall, very dead trees, and they will land on power lines and homes. Did I mention I was glad I don’t have to deal with that issue any more?! Down the street I see one of my neighbors has a very tall tree hanging over the power line that provides service to the whole side of our street. It would be just our luck that it fell down in the winter time, but that’s just the frightened little pessimist in me talking.

My to-do list is so daunting, I need a Vincent Price voice over

After getting home at 1am last night, and didn’t fall asleep until about 3:30, I was surprised that I was up and at ’em by 8am today.  It’s ok, though. It’s going to be a big day, and I needed to get up and cracking if I’m going to even get half of it accomplished. Today Older Son is going to Nana’s to help her finish taking stuff downstairs that’s left over from last night’s organization orgy, so it will just be me and Younger Son getting stuff done today at home.

As discussed in a previous post, the carpenter who is supposed to be doing the remodel on my bathroom delayed until tomorrow. I haven’t heard from him yet that he isn’t coming tomorrow, so I will assume that his sister’s surgery went well and that all is a go for Wednesday. Uh…hmm. Hope I didn’t just jinx it by saying that out loud.

Nobody does menacing like Vincent Price!

Anyway, as I am operating under the assumption that the bathroom project is getting under way tomorrow (please, oh please, oh please!), there are certain things that I need to get accomplished before that can happen. So, in the spirit of getting the ball rolling, here is today’s very special edition of (cue Vincent Price echo, crashing thunder and lightning)…  The To-Do List.

  • Scrub out fridge (there’s been a code-four pickle juice spill…Yummy)
  • Do final general pick up and cleaning of upstairs
  • Get Younger to mow and edge the lawn
  • Do more laundry until my washer and dryer beg for mercy
  • Shopping trip to Menards/Wally World to buy a new pedestal sink, bathroom fan, plastic big enough to cover the bedroom/living rooms doors and the kitchen (to keep demolition dust off), expanding spray foam for the crack in the basement wall, and new weed eater.
  • Call the plumber and make an appointment to get my external hose fixed.
  • Call sand and gravel company to put an order in for landscaping rock.
  • Bake Banana Bread…I’ve got some bananas that need to be used up.

If I get all of that done today, it will have been a hugely successful day. I can do it, but I guess I’m going to need to quit flappin’ my gums on the internet and get the show on the road!

All done but the cleanup

On Friday, my friends came over, chopped up the tree and hauled the pieces to their house to use in their wood stove. Today the last load of big branches went out to the curb for pickup. Now it’s just a matter of raking up all the twigs that are tangled up in the grass…but that can wait until later. I do have a couple more saplings that need to come down, but that won’t take long. Dad said he could come over later in the week to take care of that last bit. But the big tree? It’s gone. Interestingly enough, I counted the rings on that tree, an it is as the same as age me. I know it probably means nothing, but I found it a little strange.

So, here is a before and after:

Before the shed was moved and the tree was taken down
The yard look so much bigger!

My neighbor’s shed isn’t the most attractive thing to look at, but I’m going to plant some dwarf trees in front of it, so after a few years, you won’t be able to see it at all. I’ll also be cleaning out all that brush behind the shed and installing a six-foot fence around the back yard. On the fence I’ll be training vines and trees so you won’t be able to see it for the greenery after a while either. I can’t wait to see what it all looks like five years from now!

I’m also hoping to still get a garden in by next week. It’s late, but at least the plants will be cheaper by this time in the season.

More pictures to come as the summer progresses!

Tree is almost down…

Yesterday, my Dad called early and let me know he thought he and the boys could get the tree down…and they did, almost!

I knew there would be a lot of branches, but I didn’t realize just how much a tree can store vertically. They got all the branches off, except the very topmost, and the yard is so full, there was no more room left! What’s left of the tree is just the trunk and a puff-ball on top. It reminds me a little of a long haired cat who’s been given a “lion cut”: Naked with a puff-ball on the end:

I'd look pissed off too if I had a haircut like this one!
All that's left...

So now, all that’s left to do is cut down the branches and get rid of the main part of the tree. Easier said than done. The plan was to finish it off today, but it’s raining, so we’ve put it off until Monday afternoon.

So close…It sure will be nice to have it all done!

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