Garden Notes

This is the maple tree in our front yard. I have a lovely view of it from my office window. The leaves on the ground have been mocking me since we moved in. They fell too late for the former owners to take care of, but until today, it’s either been wet or dark when I’ve had to time to take care of it.

This is what I got from there – eight or nine tarp loads. I intend to make a compost pile, but that’s too ambitious before it snows, so vague pile it is. And while that tree seems to be sitting in splendid isolation, it’s a maple, and there were oak leaves in there, so it’s getting an extra supply from somewhere.

I do still need to take care of the opposite side of the house (the other area where we have deciduous trees – the backyard is lined with pines), but I am really out of shape – that front tree was quite enough for one day. This work from home thing and therefore having to quit the gym has definitely taken a toll – it’s a good thing we bought a treadmill.

In other news – I have a shed! It’s a bit unorganized right now, but it’s mainly mine, and it’s awesome! I will definitely be spending more time with this stuff next Spring!


Death Wind – Tara Grayce

The cliffhanger for the last book was Farrendel’s kidnapping. Essie’s managed to escape, so knows that his sister Melantha betrayed him to the Trolls. Fortunately, due to Essie and Farrendel’s marriage, both of their brothers, the respective kings of the human and elf kingdoms, are now willing to work together to save Farrendel.

This book went a bit dark – Farrendel is not treated well by the troll king. Melantha’s role in this book (and what comes next) ends up being interesting – I’d not seen that coming.

I’m definitely still enjoying this series –it’s nice to follow along with the two families.

All Things New

So we bought a house. Offer was in in early October, and we closed on November 9th. We’d started packing as soon as our offer was accepted, and we started moving on Friday the 13th. The movers came that Monday. Junk guys came yesterday to get the rest of the stuff. So that’s why the blog’s been a little quiet.

We were at the apartment for seventeen years. It was good in a lot of ways – our rent never went up, so we had a really spacious two bedroom just outside of downtown Portland for an obscenely low monthly rent. I was able to do some gardening in the little side garden, and we had the garage to store stuff in. But, we also were in charge of the snow removal, with a long driveway that forces you to blow the snow to either end. And said driveway had devolved into Himalaya-sized ruts by the time we left. P’s car would scrape if he didn’t navigate the ruts exactly right. And it had the original 1910’s windows, and pretty much no insulation other than the horsehair in the plaster. So in the winter, it was cold.

We’d decided several years ago to start saving for a house downpayment. We knew if our landlord ever sold the place, if we weren’t immediately kicked out, our rent would go up quite a bit, and if we had to go elsewhere, we were looking at easily $500 more a month, and that would probably get us something smaller than what we had. So were already in a pretty good position going into this year. And then Covid happened, and we both started working from home in March. Which wasn’t terrible, but I’ll admit, the idea of spending the winter in that place was a little grim. When my father told me he’d like to give us a gift towards a downpayment, we took a serious look at what we had, and decided to jump into the market. We settled on a realtor the week we were supposed to be in London.

We saw this house three weeks in. Up until then, we’d seen either clunkers, or tiny house in town that we just wouldn’t have been able to make work for us. We’d actually contacted our broker to work out if we could up the price range we were looking at, because we were beginning to think it wasn’t going to happen at the price we wanted.

And then we saw this place. It’s in Westbrook, which borders Portland in the direction that’s best for our commutes. (Once we get back into the office again…) Being out of Portland got us three bedrooms instead of two, a garage, and a nearly quarter acre lot. The backyard is south facing, and includes a shed that is already filled with my gardening equipment. I’ll miss my community garden bed, but the possiblities here are endless.

We’re on the same street as an elementary school, so we’ll get priority street plowing, and our sidewalk gets plowed by the city. The driveway is also way shorter, so P is almost looking forward to snow removal this year. We’re within the outer limits of walking distance to the downtown, which will be awesome in the summer.

It’s a single level, on a slab, so we don’t have to worry about a wet basement. (Slabs aren’t as common around here, so we’re getting a kick out of the blank looks we get when we mention we have no basement.) It’s definitely warmer than the apartment, though we do have an energy audit scheduled, because we’re sure we can be better insulated than we are right now, and we might as well see what we’re in for there. (The company also does solar, which we’re interested in doing someday.)

Moving sucked – seventeen years of stuff is a lot to go through when it’s hard to get to Goodwill (so many people are stuck at home that they’ve been cleaning like crazy. You have to check the website before you go, and it still might be closed by the time you get there. And, there’s usually a line of cars waiting.) We’re really only now ramping up putting things away since we had to spend so much time cleaning up the old place. So it’s starting to look a little better, but there’s further to go.

We definitely need to paint. I’m working out of the guest bedroom, which has Pepto-Bismol pink walls. Timing wise, we couldn’t paint before we moved in, so at this point, it’ll probably have to wait until Spring. But that’s ok. We have a lovely back deck, which we’re a little bummed we’ll need to wait a few months to really use, but we also know that’s a really high class problem to have.

So that’ll be the big change for this blog – my gardening focus will definitely change, and I’m sure I’ll have little projects to report on. I can’t wait!

Mast Landing Sanctuary – Freeport, ME

We’re in the middle of a stretch of insanely nice weather – up close to 70 degrees for several days now. Which has been super weird considering it’s now pretty much dark by 5:00.

So we made a point (despite being in the middle of activities I will write more about on Tuesday when we’re out of jinx’ing range) of going out yesterday. We chose Mast Landing because we figured it’d have the least people. Which still meant there were six cars in there with us – an absolute record for any other time we’ve gone, but that shows you how nice it was out. There’s very little chance we’ll have weather this nice again before at least April.