So Saturday Debbi and I went over to Becky's to play Bridge. Or, rather, I played Bridge with Becky, Rollie and Grant, while Debbi read, and Becky's husband Chris picked up dinner from Frankie, Johnnie & Luigi's.
I somehow was in rare form that night. No, not my Bridge game, which was as erratic as always. My verbal agility was turned way up, possibly from too much sugar. My best moment came when I was partnered with Grant, and we were getting most of the points in our hand. Becky brought up the old saw that the partnership who gets the points are aligned with the bathtub. Someone asked which way the bathtub was aligned, and Becky said sort of to the north.
Me: "The bathtub is actually north-by-northwest. That's what allows us to carry Grant."
Things sort of went downhill, pun-wise, from there. But even though Rollie had to leave early, ending Bridge for the evening, we had a lot of fun afterwards. We hung out eating pie and ice cream for over an hour afterwards. It seems like there hasn't been a lot of sitting around in a group and shooting the breeze in my life lately - at least, not outside of lunchtime at work. This was nice.
It was a very productive weekend all around. After having breakfast at Tom's Depot in Los Altos (a fine breakfast establishment which we discovered a few weeks ago; I bike past it on my way to work, in fact) with Lisa and Michel, Debbi and I spent much of the weekend shopping. It took us a chunk of two days, but we both found everything we were looking for: I bought a paperback book holder (since I have this sad propensity to beat up paperbacks I read), a pair of jeans (which were on sale, which is rare for Levis), and a new electric shaver. Debbi bought some shoes for her niece, and a laundry hamper she'd been looking for. Yes, an odd collection of stuff, but it made us happy.
On top of that, Debbi arrived Friday night bearing a gift: Flannel sheets! They sure were comfy, too, now that it's getting a bit colder. I'm not sure why I've never bought some before - maybe because my current home is the least-well-insulated place I've lived since grad school. But I sure appreciate them now. Thanks, Debbi!
Sunday, you might recall (okay, probably you don't; why should you?) was my one-year anniversary of moving into my house. We didn't really celebrate or anything, but it was a fun occasion to have in mind. A year!
I now remember that when I moved in the leaves were starting to fall in earnest. This is an issue because my patio and garden sits under several deciduous trees. When I moved in, I wasn't too focused on picking up leaves, so I still have a bunch of partly-decomposed leaves back there from last year. Blecch. And now of course we're getting more leaves, and the next two weeks will probably be the time that the rest of them will fall. So I wanted to do better than last year.
I have some light netting which I inherited from the seller which I spread over the pond, but after gathering a certain number of leaves it sinks into the pond, which is not great for the surface plants. So my theory is that if I bought some rods to lay across the pond I could reinforce the netting without blocking sunlight (such as it is, this time of year) from the pond. So off we went to Home Despot Saturday and I bought some wooden rods and laid them across the pond. Two days later, so far so good. (Why wooden rods? I figured metal ones would rust, and I didn't know if I could find sturdy plastic ones in the desired lengths.)
We also looked at leaf blowers. Turns out a combination leaf blower/vacuum costs about $65. Which seems entirely reasonable - or did until I realized that decent electric shavers cost about the same. Sheesh! One of these industries has lost its sense of proportion. Anyway, I might buy one soon, but decided to pass for the moment.
We did put in some time in the garden gathering leaves, though, and it looks much better now.
I've been thinking about what to do with the garden next year (keeping in mind that "garden" mostly means "sort-of landscaped portion of the yard" as distinct from the "tiled patio portion of the yard"). My philosophy this year has largely been, "Let's let it grow and see what comes up." So that was pretty fun. But I think I need to take it more seriously now. In particular, I have the following projects I'd like to attempt:
So, those are my thoughts. And they don't even include my notion of starting to build a selection of container plants on my porch, which I think would be nice.
- Pull up most - if not all - of the plants in the planter behind my bench, put down a new layer of topsoil, and plant new stuff that I like better. My thought is to put flowers at one end, and veggies - maybe tomatoes, which Debbi loves - at the other. Right now it's a combination of pansies, wildflowers, and a few left over plants like mint and garlic.
- Install some sprinklers in the larger part of the garden (right now I only have drip hoses and only in my planter). I've been really bad about watering most of the garden, but pretty good about watering the planter. I don't really want to run a hose across the patio to a single sprinkler in the middle of the garden, and I've enjoyed playing with the hoses in the planter. So I think this would be a good project.
- I have a poor little rose bush which for some reason is planted in the same area as some grape vines. It's still alive and kicking, but not getting a whole bunch of sun. I'd like to move it, but have no idea how easy it would be to transplant - or even where to transplant it. Ideally, it would be nice to put it in a container and move it to my porch upstairs (which gets lots of sun - just ask my dwarf orange tree), but I don't know if it would like that. So I'm not sure what to do. Any suggestions?
- Plant some more interesting flowers in the garden. One section is partly-to-mostly shade, and I have some ideas as to what to plant there. The rest of it is mostly covered with various green groundcover, and I'd like to vary it with some flowers. And now the ubiquitous wildflowers, either. The previous owner apparently really liked purple, and while I like purple too, I'd like to vary the color a bit.
- Mostly drain the pond and scoop out the muck from the bottom. Apparently the previous owner never bothered scooping leaves out of the pond, so ghod knows how much sediment is down there. Or whether there are any dead plants or anything. I think it needs a dose of major maintenance.
- Buy some new goldfish for the pond. I think there were three when I moved in; one died in the pond, and I think the other two were captured by raccoons (and no ransom note, either!). I also would like to figure a way to keep raccoons from getting into my yard, but I'm kind of doubtful I can accomplish that. I have scared them off a couple of times, though.
- Put up a hummingbird feeder. I do occasionally get hummingbirds, and wouldn't mind attracting a few more.
Lastly, my friend John is moving, and is divesting himself of some of his stuff in the process. After many months, I finally went up to look at his old dining table, and decided to take it. It's not in great shape, but it's in good shape, and is a big step up from the "urban curb-style" dining table and chairs I have now - which I inherited from my ex-girlfriend Colleen eight years ago. (Debbi says she's amazed it's never collapsed.)
The table itself is in good shape. The six chairs are in varying condition. Actually, I think the wood is fine (John says they're pine), but the finish ranges from acceptable to close-to-stripped. So at some point I'd definitely like to get the chairs re-finished, and maybe the table too.
Not that I have the faintest idea how much that would cost. Hundreds? If it's a thousand bucks, I'm not sure I'd bother; I could buy a brand new table and chairs for not a lot more than that.
Anyway, it's a nice step up, and I thank John for the gift, and Michel and Lisa for the use of Michel's truck to pick it up. Of course, all the pieces are currently sitting in a closet because I haven't put it together yet...