Monday, April 28, 2008

Gloomier, Leaky Monday

The rain continues to pour as though we’d suddenly been moved, house and all, to Oregon. Today is colder which pleases me…slows down the spring flowering process, making the dogwoods bloom last longer. The woods are filled with flecks of white.

And because the precipitation is soft and incessant this rain doesn’t run off; it moves through the clay all the way down to the ground water, --i.e., all the way down to the well. In all our years here, the well has never gone dry – except for the time I left it on the roots of some new trees while I went into the house for “a moment”, which turned into forgetting to go back to the hose until…. Voila, the kitchen faucet was dry the next morning. I was darn lucky I didn’t burn out the pump in the well house. And you don’t want to be on the receiving end of a lecture by the Baron. Guys worry about the infrastructure more than women do. We just want it to “look nice.”

The only problem with the rain is our new tin roof. There is a persistent leak now, which runs from the corner of the ceiling in the kitchen over my desk and fills the cabinet above it before thoroughly soaking anything lying on the desk. It is a recalcitrant hole that refuses to be fixed.

The roofer, who has been putting on metal roofs since the 1950’s, has come out twice. Last time, he was “positive” it was taken care of. Grrr…I am giving him the bill for the carpenter who will have to fix all the damage once the roof is really repaired. Meanwhile, pieces of the ceiling kerplunk into the bowl below; I can’t see the damage because a corner cabinet is installed on that wall…I try not to think about what it’s doing to the insulation in the crawl space.

I really like this man – can’t believe a guy in his 70’s can scoot up a ladder like he does and then move so nimbly on that steeply angled, smooth metal. Besides, I want to maintain cordial relations if we can. He takes great pride in his work and our cottage now represents one of his significant failures. I am determined that we not end up solving our problem the American way: in court.

Because of his age, Mr. W. has a genuine “Southside Virginia” accent. I enjoyed listening to it, and he sure does enjoy talking – he has the old Southern habit of settin' and talkin' for a spell. But I think that part is ending; he hates coming back, trying vainly to find the @#$%^&# darn hole. What a bummer…sure is a pretty roof.

I wish we had our old one back, though. It wasn’t “pretty” but it was solid and must have been at least fifty years old, with patches here and there. It may have even been older. What it did NOT do, which this one does in the least little old wind, is rattle. You’d swear there were trashcans rolling off the roof on the south side of the house (where the fig trees are). You know the way live theater makes those sound effects for thunder by rattling thin tin sheets? Well, that’s the noise we will have to live with when the wind gets up. I keep reminding myself that it could be worse. We could live in Corpus Christi and be forced to listen to the darn thing 24 hours a day…the wind in CC in unrelenting.

It’s most fortunate that I’m a procrastinator because I hadn’t gotten around to having the gutters installed. The first time I called Mr. W about this mess, he immediately did a gotcha: “I bet y’all had them gutters put on, didncha?” For once, my tendency to put things off worked in our favor. Besides this darn leak is nowhere near the edge of this noisemaking nuisance.

Time to go empty the plinkety-plink bowls…

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Rainy Sunday Ruminations

I came over here to clean out the cobwebs and set up shop for a while. Things at Gates are bizzy, bizzy. I like the quiet here. A few birds chirping, even in the rain – cardinals nesting in the forsythia, too. Forgot to clean the blue birdhouses. However, I'll bet the wrens are in the storage shed already, nesting on the garden tools so you have to move one ever so carefully. They used to like the eaves above the figs until the cat took to sitting in the window staring at them. That would make me nervous if *I* had feathers. Lulu has never left me anything feathered, though any number of moles and voles has met their end at her paws. I actually don't mind the moles so much: they tunnel through, eating their fill of Japanese beetle grubs. The darn voles, on the other hand, eat bulbs: lilies, liatris, poppies, tulips, etc. I've learned to soak them in hot pepper sauce for a day before planting. Lasts long enough for them to make it through the winter and then I have to get more assertive. For some reason, they don't like daylilies or daffodils or jonquils.

Since I haven’t been back “home” in months, I took a look around the Neighborhood. Peeked over God’s wall and noticed He’s let the grass get a little long. Everything is lush and green, though, just as He claims to have intended. Maybe I’ll go over later and "borrow" a cup of coffee. I’ll have to wear my wellies to get thru His grass, but it’s a good excuse to let Him know I’m baaack!

Usually these announcements make Him roll His eyes, but the coffee He serves is exquisite (Italian, maybe?), so it's worth a little rolling-your-eyes-toward-heaven patience. Come to think of it, Who could He be rolling His eyes to in the first place??

One of the fig trees in the late April rainThis season has been a bit strange. Cold nights froze most people’s tomato plants, but the darn figs are setting fruit earlier than I’ve ever seen them. This is a problem for a tardy pruner. You’re supposed to keep the “bushes” at about ten feet, but if I do that now, I’ll lose some fruit. Maybe I can work around it.

To give you an idea, I don’t usually see fruit until late June, usually when I’ve just decided that they will not be bear that year. The extension agent swears they only bear every four years or so, but these guys put out every single summer. When he told me that was impossible in our 7b climate zone, I just shrugged and agreed. Who am I to argue with the Authority on such matters? But come September I’ll be making preserves. And not falling off the ladder.

The dogwoods are blooming, but the Forest Pansy redbud wasn’t very flowerful. Perhaps it was due to the bad drought late last summer. I can see the buds on the mountain laurel all through the woods. What a wonderful plant. The lilacs are blooming away since we cut back some mimosas. Now they get more sun.

Darn deer have eaten everything in sight. Even the boxwood, for heaven’s sake. The azaleas under the pine are nubs. I kissed the parsley goodbye, too. I’m glad they leave the chives alone, and the daffodils and rosemary. Be grateful for small blessings, shall we? I will resolutely ignore the microscopic green leftovers where 25 Oxford yellow tulips should have bloomed. Should have…except for the raging appetites of those supposedly “cute” little deer, which grow bolder by the day. They multiply like Catholics…I mean Muslims. Mexicans?

Whatever. It’s obvious Catholics are no longer breeding according to plan…hmm. So much for sticking to the rhythm method.

Q: Do you know what they call people who use the rhythm method for birth control?
A: Parents.

And deer are not cute, except when they’re roasting on a spit. We need to put those critters on something besides the rhythm method. It isn’t working for them, either. There are now six deer for every person in our state...I mean dominion. Commonwealth. Or, as they say around here, "by the grace of God, Virginia."