Garden: the edge is here

Most of the hedge is now no longer attached to the trunk. However, it’s still on our section, taking up more space than it did when it was a WALL OF DOOM. It is slowly collapsing, though, and we plan to get it Mulched By Professionals at some point in the near future.

Meanwhile, we bought a new pair of telescopic loppers today, and they’re a significant step up from the old pair – not just because they have 2 handles! They’re racheted, which really does make a difference when you’re trying to cut through the thicker bits of hedge, and the handles are a lot comfier. And the button to extend each arm is right by where you hold them, so you don’t have to let go to extend the arms. 😀

We also got a pruning saw: A++ would cut things again! and an outdoor rubbish bin.

Most importantly, we bought 40 paving stones and have edged almost all of the planted-by-us garden – it turns out we needed slightly more than 40 paving stones, but that’s about all that would comfortably fit in the car anyway. It’s made a big difference to the garden – it looks much nicer and more finished now. The next step is to dig them in – they’re just plopped in place at the moment.

I plan to get the un-weeded part of the garden weeded in the next couple of days, and we might attack the hedge some more. Also I rather want a hydrangea.

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Garden: less hedge, more herbs

This weekend my friends Orbfa, Husband of Orbfa, and Baby Orbflet came to stay, and brought with them a bunch of herbs they’d picked up for us on their way through the North Island. And so Field and I have extended the garden by about a metre, and there is chamomile, dragonhead, borage, feverfew, and a couple of other things planted. One of the other beds got weeded also, though I’m going to need to give the other bed a good going over at Easter.

Meanwhile, a bunch more hedge came down, and it’s now very clear that we’re going to have to hire someone to mulch all the dead bits because there’s far too much to do ourselves (and still a LOT of hedge to go).

Over Easter we’re going to take a trip to various gardening/hardware shops, and on our current list is:
– an outdoor rubbish bin, because we’re slack at remembering to take the bag down the driveway every week and this is just realism
– an outdoor broom with very stiff bristles
– a new pair of telescopic loppers, because ours broke during the hedge-cutting this afternoon
– some kind of garden-edging stuff; either some bricks, if they’re cheap and can be delivered, or a few bags of stones. IDK. It’s just become clear that our gardens SHOULD have edging.

This means that Easter is going to involve a bunch of gardening. For me, it’s also going to involve a bunch of studying, but that’s far less interesting.

House and garden: an update

It is about 11 degrees celcius here at the moment – about 52F, according to google – and very grey. I have been home sick with a bit of a cold and a lot of tiredness; one of those headaches which just sticks. Summer wasn’t very summer-like this year in Wellington, but I’ve enjoyed it as we’ve slipped into the colder nights and windier days of autumn. And today, being home and cold (and living in a house with dodgy enough wiring that I can’t plug in a heater in my room, because there’s only one plug and it’s running my computer, lamp, and clock already), I’ve dragged out a bunch of my winter accessories.

So currently I’m wearing:
– a purple woollen hat (cascade 220 yarn, bought at an indie yarn shop in Petone) which I made last winter
– my very favourite 10ply possum/merino/silk wristwarmers in gorgeous deep cobalt blue, also made by me last winter
– my grey cardigan, which I modified with green edging a couple of winters ago and have not yet lived to regret
– a brooch I bought at an indie craft fair early last summer, made from recycled crockery

And I’m drinking a mug of cranberry and apple tea, and I made scones a couple of weekends ago for guests, and I’ve been eating greens straight out of the garden on my lazy-dinner bagels; and Field and I are plotting spinach lasagne (possibly some in tonight’s lasagne, even, although I have got out mince bought from the local butcher); and I spent the weekend killing a hedge—

And I don’t know when or how I became such a damned hippie, but here I am, totally fascinated by the process of learning how to do things and enamoured of the idea of doing as much as I can for myself. I like having a local butcher and a local farmer’s market, so we’re making an effort to shop there (and, alright, the local butcher’s sausages are AMAZING); I like looking out my bedroom window and seeing our growing vege garden (and the compost bin, and the very straggly lawn, and the piles of Former Hedge, and the patio which really needs a good sweeping but we don’t have an outdoor broom yet).

For the record: the garden is growing really well at the moment. It’s helped by being so accessible from the house: I see it from my desk, and it’s about five steps from the back door to the herb garden. All the herbs – rosemary, sage, marjoram, thyme, mint, and tarragon – are big enough to be useable, although I’m still being cautious; I chucked a few leaves of marjoram onto my spaghetti-on-toast last night. The lobelia and the nasturtium are happily growing in their respective corners, and we’re going to have to expand sometime before next spring.

Next up is borrowing Field’s mum’s woodchipper so we can mulch a whole lot of former hedge, which will be spread beneath the pohutukawa to kill the grass and weeds currently growing there and get it nicely mulched before we plant a bunch of flowers there. We’re thinking daisies, and probably also a couple of lavender and maybe a hebe. We’ve still got to get the other three-quarters of Hedge down, but it’s already made a difference to how much light the back yard (particularly the washing line) gets.

Garden: death to hedges

I have started the Great Killing of the Wall of Hedge; it’s going pretty quickly at the moment, because the branches are pretty thin, but it’s going to get significantly trickier once I have to start getting at the top bits of it (this hedge/tree thing is about 2 meters tall) and the main trunk structures (currently hidden behind about a decade’s worth of overgrowth).

Also to come out this weekend, if I’m feeling energetic, is a fairly large shrub with leaves the lawnmower doesn’t like in the slightest.

Then Field and I get the fun job of a) hiring a skip, and b) filling it.

\o/ garden!

House: one awesome thing

A thing I keep remembering while wandering the house and smiling anew:

Ever since I left home and moved to Wellington, I’ve lived in houses broken up into two or more flats. Nish, Field, and I had a steady stream of Downstairs Neighbours in the 6 years we flatted together; all of them were alright, but for the first, but you always had to remember they were there and be vaguely neighbourly and considerate.

But this house! This house has no shared walls, floors, or ceilings with anybody, and the neighbours are reasonably distant; so if I should choose to start a load of laundry at 9.15 of an evening and then stick it in the dryer because I want clean towels in the morning, there is nobody to stop me. It is wonderful.

House: tiny improvements

Last night, the toilet seat – which was cracked when we moved in – gave up the ghost and split down the middle during a late night “I wish I hadn’t had all those cocktails and then that cheese” head-in-bowl session. Whoops.

And so today Field and I went to Mitre 10. We had gift cards – a christmas present from my Mum, mostly – and a plan: a new, unbroken, loo seat. Alas, the first Mitre 10 we went to only had a display model of the kind we wanted (sturdy plastic, a pleasing shape as these things go), and so we got sent off to Mitre 10 Paramata.

… and got lost on the way.

We ended up at the Palmers in Plimmerton, which is right next to a display of lovely solid wooden outdoor furniture. And we have vowed that should we find ourselves availed of a spare $2000 (not looking likely anytime soon) we will buy ourselves a very solid wooden table and 4 bench seats to go on the patio, and we will sit out there and eat dinner/drink many, many glasses of wine while wailing at the state of the garden. At the Palmers, we only bought a cyclamen (Field wanted one for the loo).

The people at Palmers very helpfully gave us directions to Mitre 10 Paramata, and so off there we went to pick up our loo seat and also inspect the garden sheds and choose a mat for the front door so we can scrape our shoes off once the weather turns to crap. And I came home and cleaned the loo and installed the new seat (with a little help from Nish, who is staying until she leaves the city) and lo! it is comfortable (as these things go).

The cyclamen will get installed on a saucer on the windowsill at some point in the next day or so, and the only thing that room now needs is a magazine rack. And maybe a spare loo roll holder.

Yay!

Garden: the very beginnings

Last weekend, Field’s little brother came round to dig us a couple of patches of garden before he moved to Auckland. We’d bought the plants the week before (protip: don’t do this) so they were all looking a little sad when we eventually got them into the ground, but a week of assiduous watering and a bit of rain has almost all of them perked up and growing.

We’ve started with herbs and leafy greens, because these are things that are easy to grow and good to have in a garden. The only flowers we’ve got are nasturtiums (also edible) and lobelia (just pretty). And it’s already proved worthwhile buying a decent-sized rosemary to start off with: we cut a stalk tonight and chucked it in with the roast veges. Hopefully in a few more weeks we’ll be able to eat some of the leafy greens.

Field also took the opportunity to prune the bottom couple of metres of pohutukawa, and I pulled some ivy, and together we removed almost all of a small tree which was a) ugly and b) in a ridiculous place. We’re really going to need to get a move on and decide what we’re doing to get rid of the large mound of garden waste cluttering up the backyard – and then actually do it.

*

What else? We had a terrible week of the world’s worst shower pressure; it got so bad that Field decided she’d take to having baths. Her doing this somehow magically fixed the shower pressure, and it’s back to being what anyone would call reasonable – a good thing, because we were having conversations about whether the wiring was, in fact, more important than sorting out the plumbing (yes, in terms of safety; no, in terms of quality of life).

We’ve also hung about half the art. We need to get a drill to do the rest (we borrowed one off friends for the first week or so but then gave it back; now we have one on order from FlyBuys), and we’re still in discussions about where stuff is going.

And there’s only a few empty boxes to get rid of – and some polystyrene.

And I rearranged the shed so stuff is easier to get to.

Musings: the r-word

Field and I are in a relationship.

We don’t fuck.

It’s a relationship where we split the bills and squabble over what kind of cheese to buy; where I get away with picking the bacon I want, and she has all the salt-and-vinegar chips her little heart desires; where we have long sprawling conversations at eleven o’clock at night about Books We’ve Read and Why Television Is Hard; where we email each other from our respective workplaces about what we want to eat for dinner, what we’ve read on the internet news that day, why four hours sleep is not enough, whether it’s a good idea to buy more wine (yes). But at the end of the day, we go to our separate beds in our separate rooms and close the doors.

And it’s invisible.

*

A few nights ago we had a conversation about how we want to refer to each other: we flatted with each other (and with Nish) for six years, but this is something new. We’re hiring plumbers now. In the end we decided that “co-owner” fit the best, but that’s not quite right either: too much business in the front, not enough party at the back. “Partners” has connotations that I in no way disapprove of, but which just aren’t accurate; it wouldn’t bother me in the slightest if people thought that Field and I were a couple, but we’re not. I toyed with “lady-wife”, mostly as a joke, but while that kind of shit is fun with friends it’s difficult to say with a straight face to your lawyer, your electrician, your bank-manager, your mum.

So co-owners it is for now, and we’ll change it if it stops being the closest match for what we are.

*

But we’re invisible, this thing. When I talk about buying a house with Field, I’m talking about my long-term life plan. I’m talking about planning a garden, about where we’re planting the fuschia (me) and the hebes (me) and the carpet roses (Field) and the agapanthus (over my dead body). I’m talking about the six-month conversation we’ll have about whether we’re going to wallpaper or paint the lounge, and what shade it should be, and what the curtains should be made of. I’m talking about how we run the kitchen, how we cook together, how we make plans to go to the supermarket and what our budget there will be. I’m in charge – always and forever – of making electronics Go; she’s in charge of the alphabet because my god how I hate reshelving books.

I’m talking about the two or three years of planning that went into this. I’m talking about how I researched suburbs and public transport routes; about how grateful I am that Field got her full licence and a car, and how much easier that made the house-hunting process. I’m talking about the gin-and-tonics she made us tonight for dinner, before she went to lie down on her bed in the summer evening sun and I came online to watch comedy routines on youtube and write this post. I’m talking about the expression of my hopes and dreams, my plans and schemes, how I’ve wanted to do up a house for forever (as long as Nish has known me, and that’s a bloody long time).

I’m talking about how we started having conversations about how we wanted this to work 18 months ago, how we set up a joint savings account over a year ago, how we now have 2 joint accounts plus the mortgage, insurance in both our names and shared household goods. I know where she was born, her date of birth, what her passport photograph looked like when she was thirteen. I chat to her mum sometimes on the phone a bit. She knows these things about me.

And so I have conversations with people about buying a house with Field, and what they hear is of two good friends buying a house together, and what they say is:

That’s sensible.

and

Have you thought about what would happen if you didn’t want to live together anymore?

*

And.

No. No, it isn’t sensible, you utter moron, do you know how much it would devastate me if it all turned to pot, how difficult it would be to disentangle our lives? Our finances are complicated and not wholly governed by standard law, but that’s the least of it when we have mostly shared friends and I can’t remember exactly how to cook dinner on my own anymore, when the kitchen seems strange when she’s not there to navigate around and pass me spoons and pepper.

and

Yes, what, you think we set up a joint savings account and talked to banks and lawyers and looked at houses and put in an offer and went unconditional and settled and moved without ever thinking about what we were doing? Without ever talking to each other about it?

*

This wasn’t an accident, this house in this street. It wasn’t the easy or the simple choice; it wasn’t obvious. It wasn’t a calculated financial decision. My life isn’t good financial planning – single girls without options, women on the shelf looking to get on the property ladder. I may be a spinster with a cat, but by god I have done it with intent.

Garden: on rage

I am a bit of a rage-gardener. By that I mean that I really enjoy the destructive parts of gardening: taking out that shrub! Cutting that tree-branch so it’s not interfering with the washing machine! Clipping back the wild fennel on the road-edge of our property (our property is up a council-owned bank from the road, and nobody has given it any love in a very long time – not the bank nor the house, in fact)! So far Field and I have clipped back maybe 1.5 cubic metres of random things from around the section, and there’s a lot more to go.

For one thing, we have a Hedge of Doom. The Hedge of Doom is in the back left corner of the property, and takes up about as much space as a single garage. I strongly suspect that when it’s gone the whole backyard will be much sunnier (which will be very good for the washing line). It’s a twiggy, brittle thing, really only green on one side (and presumably on top, but I can’t see that), and hollowed-out in the centre. If we had kids, it’d be a good play area, but as it is we want that spot for the eventual vegetable garden we’re planning, so the Hedge of Doom must go.

And it’s sunny in Tawa today, and I’ve got awesome hedgeclippers and long-handled, sharp, heavy secateurs, and if I had anywhere to put the giant pile of green waste that would result, I’d be out there right now, hacking away while listening to Elvis Costello or maybe Neko Case. Or Apocalyptica; a girl has to have options, after all.

But instead I am very determindly restraining myself until I’ve organised a trailer or a skip (probably a skip; trailers are way cheaper in terms of tip fees, but we’d need to hire a trailer and find someone to drive it, so) and therefore have dates upon which the pile of Doom Hedge can leave the place. I wonder how pohutukawa take to being pruned? Probably I should consult an arborist with that; the pohutukawa in the back yard is a good 2 stories high.

house: plumbing, part i

… I had not entirely realised just how much noise the constant running of the leaky toilet was making until it had been fixed. 15 minutes ago. My house is SILENT. This is AWESOME.

Also getting fixed today:
– the pipe that drains the wastewater from the shower, which was, like, not attached
– the thermostat on the hot water tank (WAY too hot)
– the leaky showerhead

And I’ve asked about:
– why the hot water pressure in the shower is SO SHIT (apparently because we’re on low pressure hot water, and changing it would mean re-plumbing everything? IDK.)
– how I find out whether we can have gas hot water (find out if there are connections on the street, get gas company to put a pipe and meter in, then get infinity hot water installed and everything re-plumbed. BIG JOB, apparently)

We can’t have the cold tap on the washing machine fixed today, because neither I nor the plumber can find the water mains (I would be entirely unsurprised if nobody has touched a single bit of plumbing in this house for 15 years. It’s probably under a bush somewhere, who the fuck knows). So the plumber will ring the council; the council will come out and find it and spray around it with spraypaint; and then the plumber will come back and fix our washing machine tap. This is frustrating (I’m back at work next week, so things’ll be that much harder to arrange; I’ve used up all of my Need Random Time Off To Deal With Things goodwill at work over this whole house-buying experience) but, y’know, not the fault of me or the plumber, so. Because the mains can’t be turned off, we also can’t get the leak on the roof fixed (it’s leaking on to the roof, not through it, thank fuck).

The plumber has gone off to get some gear – replacement showerhead, replacement trap for the shower – and then is coming back to sort out things.