Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Anticipation and a little destruction

It's been interesting to see how much of my settling in to living in Oregon has had to do with anticipation.  After the first difficult winter I planned lots of traveling for the second winter so I was anticipating those trips for months.  The first fall in our home I planted lots of tulips.  One of my friends made a comment about not liking tulips because they don't last very long, but as I planted the bulbs I was so excited about what I was going to see in a few months that I decided it really didn't matter to me that much to me if the flowers didn't last very long.


The first spring in our house I was more than a little disconcerted to see what looked like ears of corn growing in the arborvitae next to the driveway.  When I realized it was bamboo invading from the neighbor's yard I was annoyed and had Josh and Tyler tear it out.

In between that spring and the next spring, though, my feelings about the bamboo changed.  Our backyard has been such a source of delight to me in this house.  We looked at many (MANY) homes where all you could see in the backyard was the house behind you.  Sometimes it felt like there was no privacy at all.  The lot behind 75% of our yard is an old lot of several acres, and just behind our yard there are mostly woods.

During the summer after Josh tore out the bamboo the neighbor behind the remaining 25% of our yard put an addition on his house.  He cut down several trees in his yard and then put on a huge (at least 20 foot) addition, pushing his house much closer to his back fence (and therefore our yard) than it had been before.  I HATE it.  HATE.  IT.

I started looking at the bamboo growing by our back fence in a different way.  Look how tall it was!  Look how thick it was!!  Look how evergreen it was!!!  I already knew from talking to my bamboo neighbor that a decent sized pot of bamboo was $50 at the local nursery, but then I had a thought.  I could wait until the next spring when the rouge bamboo came up by my driveway again, dig it up, and plant it in my backyard.  What a great idea!

Last spring 2 bamboo plants sprouted.  We watched them grow and grow--sometimes it seemed almost a foot in a day, and then dug them up as carefully as possible and transferred them to a pot. Despite our care we could only get a little bit of one of the rhizomes (the big root thing that the cane grows out of) and after a couple of months in the pot that bamboo cane died.  The other cane survived, though, and this year has put out a couple of small new shoots.  Last month we dug a big trench around the area where we want to plant the bamboo and put in a 30" barrier that should keep the bamboo we plant from escaping anywhere else. When this year's bamboo sprouts are all done growing & leafing out, we can transplant our bamboo into it's new home.

In the meantime, I was waiting and watching for new bamboo to come up by the driveway.  Waiting.  Watching.  Waiting.  Watching....

I just went back and reread the post about Josh and Tyler taking out the bamboo.  If I had know then what I know now I wouldn't have had them do such a thorough job of it.  This year we don't have any shoots, just some small grassy plants.  I am bummed about that.

In what was a very unexpected turn of events, though, one day I was sitting in the chair in my room and I happened to look just right out the french doors and saw this.

Just in case you need to see that up close, here you go.

I was so annoyed!  No bamboo in the driveway, and bamboo here getting ready to wreck my fence again!  I was going to break it off (which will stop it from growing) but just didn't get around to it by the time I looked again...

And yet I still didn't knock them down.  I was busy with things to do, you know.  Maybe in the back of my mind I had the idea that I would figure out a way to be able to take advantage of these bamboo canes.  So they grew and grew and grew.
One day I noticed something new--not only my 2 canes growing up between the deck and the fence, but the tip of a cane poking between the 1st and second deck board.

That's when I started thinking differently...I started thinking about deconstructing the deck.  I looked at it carefully, noticed that it was put together with screws, and rationalized that what is screwed together can also be un-screwed!

Friday evening when I was done using the drill in the attic (another story) I brought it outside along with several different drill bits.  I then proceeded to loosen as many of the screws in these two boards with a regular screwdriver, then take the screws out with the drill.  I ended up having to drill several screws out and that wasn't pretty, but being the end boards I figured they didn't have to be too pretty.  When Russ got home from work I was just starting to try to pry one of the boards up.

(Does he get home from work and think wow, she's at it again?!?)

He helped me get out the last stripped screws and provided the strength I needed to pry up the two boards.  Let's just say that being rained on and sunned on for the last 3+ years, they were on there tight!  When we finally pulled them up it was dusk and it took us a minute to figure out for sure what we were seeing.

This is a picture I took a few days later.  You can see that without the boards in it's way, the new bamboo to the left took off.  But can you also see what surprised us--on the right, two other little bamboos that were entirely under the deck boards that look like they've grown a few inches since we took them off!  On the far right are two others, but they look so stunted already that we're thinking they must have been from earlier this spring or even from last year.

The sad thing about the deck removal was that I hadn't counted on the deck frame (non-technical term) underneath.  So those two big canes are pinched between the frame and the fence.  I'm still hoping that when the time comes (we can't do anything until they have their full growth) we'll be able to get at the rhizomes via the space we've just opened up and then pull them out.  Crossing my fingers on that one.

So there you have it.  Our bamboo story as it unfolds.  A story of anticipation with just a little bit of destruction.  I can't wait to see how it ends!

Monday, June 22, 2015

What's up with my blog?

Every now and then when I look at something on my blog I look at the numbers of blog posts I've written.  And it's irrefutable--I am not blogging as much.  Last year I didn't blog as much as the year before, and this year it's really sad.

I'm not even sure what the deal is.  You'd think that with older kids who can take care of themselves more I'd have more time to blog, not less.  For years and years I've been waiting for the day when ________ would happen and I would have more time.  When I wasn't entertaining restless Rachel, when I wasn't wiping noses and bottoms and dressing little people and cooking all of the time and home schooling and all of the things that have consumed my time for so many years.  But here I am now, with relative freedom, and guess what--I still feel like I don't have much time.

I know that part of it is that as I get closer to 50 I have a little less energy than I used to.  And certainly I have much less (MUCH LESS) mental energy.  It used to be that while it was easier to blog when I could feel the words flowing freely, I could also snatch a free minute anytime to pull together pictures and write about them.  Not so much now--there are times when it feels like my brain is a barren wasteland and all I can do in that moment are tasks that require more body than brain.

Another unexpected part of the equation is Facebook.  For all of my initial certainty that Facebook was going to ruin the world, I find that I enjoy the ability to share a picture (usually via instagram), a frustration, an idea, and the format (i.e. short) is fast and easy.  Plus you get feedback on Facebook whereas that's rare for my blog now.  (Not complaining, just stating a fact.)  Recently I made a Facebook "book" which is like a blog book but oh so much easier.  It really turned out fun and I'm surprised at how much I've enjoyed looking through it.

After typing all of this out I think I can say that part of my frustration has to do with my "averse to change" personality.  I liked it when I kept track of my life & thoughts & pictures really well on my blog, and I want it to keep happening like that.  But it's obvious that I'm making different choices in my life right now, and I can't have it both ways.  It will be interesting to see what happens when the triplets are in school full time next year.  Will I devote more mental energy to my blog?  Or will I find other things to fill my time?  

Stay tuned...

PS--just realized one interesting factor.  For years I blogged using Windows Live Writer.  Then in January this year I got a new computer and it's a mac.  I went with the mac because I was excited to try their video program, but I'm questioning that decision now because I miss Live Writer like CRAZY.  I hate the way I have to do pictures now, and I know that also has some impact on my blogging...

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

The Long Drive

I've taken a lot of road trips, mostly without another adult driver.  Our first road trip to Utah was when the triplets were 5, and we did it a number of times in the next 7 years.  I've driven from coast to coast as well.  Most of the time I've been able to arrange our days that we had about 8 hours of driving time, which generally translated to 10 hours of travel time.  

The trip from Oregon to Utah is a little different.  It's 12-14 hours (depending on where my final destination is) and always presents a conundrum.  We are lucky enough to have a friend who lives near Boise who has graciously offered her home as a stopping place.  But life is busy enough that most of the time I don't want to take (or can't take) 2 days for the trip.  Which means it's going to be a LONG DRIVE.  I know there are people who can drive 15 or 16 hours and be just fine, but before I started driving to Utah my longest drive time was 6-7 hours to Atlanta and that was always exhausting. So driving the 12 hours to Utah is a big deal for me.

Every time I drive between Oregon and Utah at about 5 hours into the trip I panic. I think things like THIS TRIP WILL NEVER BE OVER!! And HOW ON EARTH AM I GOING TO DO THIS?!? And occasionally I WILL DIE!!! And then I take a deep breath and keep on driving.

Here are some of the things I did to entertain myself yesterday:
  • Listened to my book on cd for 30 minutes, then decided that Russ needed to listen too so stopped.
  • Talked to Marilyn for a long time which is always such fun.
  • Watched and occasionally tried to take a picture of the interesting things I saw.
  • Listened to 2 old Jeffrey Holland devotionals. Beautiful, but not good for tired driving.
  • Listened to approximately 4,000 podcasts, mainly Gretchen Rubin's "Happier" and "Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me."
  • Sang like a crazy person while beating on the steering wheel.
  • Talked to Jason for quite a while.
  • Panicked when I couldn't get the rental car to lock at Walmart.
  • Ate a whole quart of strawberries and way too many almonds.
  • Watched the sunset in my side mirrors for 20 minutes, finally stopped to take a picture because it was so beautiful.
  • Talked to Russ until I was hoarse from all of the talking. 
  • Sang some more.
  • Drank endless bottles of water laced with 5 hr energy.
  • Wished I could see the stars better.
  • Was so glad when I finally arrived!

Here are some pictures from my day yesterday.

I always have to drive through the Multnomah Falls parking lot so I can look and snap a picture.

Driving through the gorge is always gorgeous!

I had no idea that horses stick their heads out the windows like dogs do!

I wonder what that is?

Why of course!  It's a helicopter!!  (Don't you drive around with your helicopter in tow???)

 How do two trains pass each other on tracks that are literally only a few feet apart?  VERY slowly!

I appreciate strange cloud shapes.

I watched the sunset behind me in the side mirror for 20 minutes before I finally just had to pull over and take a picture.  It was stunning.

Thursday, June 4, 2015

It is Late

It is late, almost eleven, but from the room above I hear the gentle murmur and I know they are talking again.  It is late and I know they will be tired tomorrow and yet I often cannot bring myself to remind them that it is time for quiet and sleep.  Sometimes they hate each other and resent their shared lives.  But then there are these moments--when the irritations and annoyances are set aside and for a while they are friends.

My mother always said that the greatest gift she could give her children was each other.  I, in my lofty teenaged wisdom, surely thought that stupid, but how I understand that now.  With every passing year my love and appreciation for those brothers and sisters grows.  Time together is rare and precious, worth travel and inconvenience.

And so I think to my own children; my greatest gift to you is each other.  An even greater gift because of the difficulty of adding each child to our family and the fear that the family of our dreams would never materialize.

It is late, and as I listen again to my dream murmuring overhead, I smile.