It's going to be very warm and humid here today. High in the mid to upper-80's and a big fat wet dew point that keeps you sweaty because the air is so saturated with moisture it doesn't evaporated!
I arrived home last night from work with the intention of cutting the grass in the backyard, knowing how awful it is to do sustained work outside when the dew point gets above 55 for me. I'm way too uncomfortable after that point. But after a stop at the Pick 'n Save after getting off the bus and hiking the 3/4th of a mile to the house with two full bags of groceries plus my tote, I was just a little spent. All of my good intentions went right out the window. I ran upstairs and changed, then took a look at the grass out back and decided it was just too dry (ahem) to cut last night. Instead, I set up the sprinkler and gave everything out back a good long drink while I sat with my feet up under the umbrella on the deck paging through a magazine and sipping a cold glass of cheap pink wine.
I called it a night at about 8:15 p.m. and came inside, but there was a lovely coolish breeze and the house felt great. I kept the patio door and front door open to get a nice cross-breeze as I worked at the desk in the front room while snatching glimpses of some true crime stories on NBC. I knew, though, that the heat/humidity was coming, because my knees have been aching for nearly 36 hours - that signals a significant weather change. Poor knees! Ouch!
I arose about quarter to six this morning, it was lovely cool in the house! I shut down the south window in my bedroom which was still shaded in the early morning light, opened up the patio door and front door downstairs. Set up the sprinkler in the front yard. Watched the sun in the east slowly rise up and fill the front room with the most incredible light. My poor lawn out front gets hammered MANY hours with full sun once it clears the trees and houses across the street and swings in a higher and higher arc to the southeast and then to the south. Unfortunately, about three years ago, my ignorant neighbors to the south cut down not one but two trees that offered shade both to their house and to mine when the sun swung around to the southeast and south. I hope they are now suffering from incredibly HIGH electric bills because they are constantly running their AC unit now. The fricking idiots! Just because they didn't want to rake up leaves in the fall. Well, you can imagine what happened to the lawns that were used to nice shade in the afternoon.
|My new street tree - not the best photo of|
it - sort of blends into the green of the trees
further down the road. See how teeny it is!
|Love my tree - but look at the small amount|
of shade it provides right now. Sigh. My
yard is to the right, tree-killer neighbors
are to the left. See all those trees in my back
yard! They really help keep me cool in summer.
|Area on north side of lawn next to driveway - you can see|
what sod web worm damage looks like here - this
is a text-book example. Although it looks like it,
this is not drought damage.
Enough of the rant on sod web worm. I've been engaged in an escalating unending war against them and probably will be until the day I move to Las Vegas or die, whichever comes first.
|Looking from inside the house, the right side of the deck.|
Fred added four boards to give extra width.
To say the deck was like a 100% improvement over what was there before would be a gross understatement. My sister Darlene (Fred's wife) complained to him, though, that she thought it was too small. Fred built it to the original length of the lumber he bought: a little over 10' wide, and he took it out from the house a little more than 12 feet (the width of 21 boards). ( Somewhere I have old photos of what it looked like "pre-Fred-deck". I will have to dig those out and scan a couple of them in! It was pretty awful!)
|Looking from inside the house, the left side of the deck.|
Fred only added three board to this side -- probably because
he had not purchased enough lumber to do the build-out evenly.
But hey, I wasn't complaining! I loved it! And still do. Whatever Fred did, it worked then and it's still working now. It's now been over 11 years since Fred built my deck. It is not "permanently" attached to the house with lug bolted-on faceboard and joist hangers running from it -- it's totally free floating, built on it's own wood frame with "anchor" corners pounded into the dirt, not anchored in concrete. Thus, the entire deck has been gradually drifing away from the house over the years, LOL! This gradual drift away from the base of the house has given numerous voles and mice homes along the foundation...
The deck Fred built was never meant to be "permanet." And here I am, still using it exactly as Fred built it all these years later. Good job, Fred! I haven't powered-washed it or cleaned it with deck stuff since it went in other than sweeping; haven't stained it or painted it. Fred installed some of the boards cup side up instead of cup side down, and now they're popping up and I've got nail and even screw pops here and there. But I still love it. I just tell my guests to watch where they're walking, and they do.
Because my back yard is a magical place. Sitting out here just totally transports you to another world. One of the original reasons I purchased this lot on land contract back in 1987 was because it had trees on it! When I first purchased the lot, many of the trees were just saplings, weed trees they are called (Chinese elms) and yeah, they're a pain in the neck because they toss off tons of twigs and branches and clog up my rain gutters. But they also provide graceful light shade and the way the branches move in a breeze, it's just awesome to sit out here and stare up at the sky filtered through those branches. Despite being able to see peeks of neighboring houses and hearing traffic noises from the nearby interstate and the even closer 84th Street which gets constant if not heavy traffic. because even though it really is just a "deck" -- no railings, no overhead trellis or pergola, no fancy trimwork, and most of the knot-holes in the pressure-treated wood have long since popped out and numerous critters and creatures have made their home in the gravel base underneath -- it's plopped down in a yard anchored with numerous trees and native shrubs, plus all the plantings I've added over the past 20 plus years.
Wildlife flock to my yard. I have wild berry trees, wild grapes, and provide two bird baths that I have to fill twice a day (like now) during season because it's like a factory assembly line, with birds lined up to take baths. I've put in transplanted perennials from homes and homes and homes that we used to live in over the years and always moved some of the plants with us when we left for new grounds -- old-fashioned German bearded Iris, run-of-the-mill Day Lilies, "Swedish" daisies, various colors of Hostas (which the bunnies have mostly eaten down to nubs this year, unfortuantely -- first year that's ever happened but we had a very mild winter and many survived that ordinarily would not otherwise have). Oh, and lots of other perennials I've added here and there that I can't even remember the names of -- and lots of volunteers that have moved in or have always been here, just moved around year to year as they saw fit and conditions in the back yard have changed over the years as the trees have gotten bigger and bigger. As long as they're pretty or the yellow and red finches love them (like the catnip and "stink weed"), I just let them be.
When I put photos of my backyard on line, I may "brag" that I'm such a great yard designer and gardener but the truth is, the backyard has, over the years, pretty much slapped my efforts aside and designed itself :)
Now - the deck! EEK! About once a month (less during summer and holiday season in winter) the ladies of the investment club to which I belong meet at my house once a month on morning after we breakfast at a local restaurant. Tomorrow is our June meeting (we did not meet in May). There are five of us, but tomorrow only four of us will can make it.
That gave me an idea -- knowing what the weather was going to be like, at least before noon, and knowing what my backyard is like during that part of the day, I suggested we meet out on my deck rather than around the round table in my dinette, and enjoy a little bit of nature's bounty on the deck in the shade and the breeze, under the umbrella. The only reason I suggested this at all is because I only have four chair that are deck worthy -- two green stacking chairs and two white semi-folding adjustable chairs. Well, I also have two other "deck" chairs but I won't write about them here. Suffice to say they are not chairs that one can pull up to my small round plastic deck table that fits comfortably underneath my 7' umbrella. And since only four of us will be present tomorrow...
Whatever. This is going on and on too long. The table, as you see, is not very large. I haven't yet pulled out the white lawn chairs from the garage, which need to be scrubbed and bleached down. But after scooting all around the internet the past few days I gathered lots of inspiration to what I can do with what I have at hand (which ain't much, let me tell you!) , and I put in place (not showing in this photo) some of my efforts at sprucing the space up a bit. I think the ladies of the investment club will enjoy their time out on my deck tomorrow morning, small and humble though it is.
Don't you just love that the deck boards are the same color as the bark on that big old Chinese elm tree you can see in the background near center of the photo?