Last night I thought about reading. I thought about cleaning and doing laundry. I thought about doing other things I should be doing.
And then I did this instead.
Because sometimes you just need to color.
We’ve been experiencing some very autumny weather the past couple days in mid-Michigan, which makes it the perfect time to start ripping out spent vegetable plants and replacing them with some perennial transplants. Since we plan to put the house on the market in the spring, there’s no reason to plant a labor-intensive vegetable garden next year, so I’m going to be filling those empty spaces with some perennials from the front yard that are crowding each other out and need some more breathing room.
The first immigrants to the back yard are four squat little hostas with chartreuse leaves that were in too sunny a spot in the front yard since the ice storm took the crabapple tree a couple years ago; a couple lady’s mantle that were crowding an evergreen shrub (and, as it turns out, hiding the cell phone my husband lost a month ago); and three lavender plants that had been subsumed by overzealous golden marguerites this summer. I also took two more lady’s mantle and put them in my front door urns to replace the annuals that burnt when we were away at camp. Once the tomato plants are done in a month or so I will fill up those spaces with other varieties of hosta and perhaps some cornflowers or black-eyed susans.
Strangely, I’m not that upset about not having a vegetable garden next year, despite the fun the boy and I have while planting it. This is largely because I must harvest my tomatoes before they are ripe in order to keep any of them from the ravenous red squirrels, who will take a few bites out of them once they start getting red and then leave them to rot on the ground or on fence posts. If I’m picking them before they are ripe, I may as well get them unripe at the store! So next year we will depend exclusively on the farmers market for our produce and make the backyard into an even more beautiful retreat to entice buyers.
I love looking at houses. I love going to open houses. I love to watch Rehab Addict and, to a lesser extent, shows like Love It or List It and Property Brothers. So to be back in the position of someone who is searching for our next house is really fun. Yes, I scour Zillow during lunch. Yes, Zach and I have made a pretty extensive list of must-haves, would-likes, do-not-likes, and don’t-forget-to-check-fors. Even the boy is in on the hunt. “Does it have hardwood floors?” he asks about every house we view online.
We recently identified a neighborhood and even stumbled upon a house we thought was perfect. We checked off almost everything on our wish list as we roamed the rooms. We sort of fell in love. Then we learned more about 100 year floodplains. Ummm…no. Michigan’s capital city is located at the convergence of two major rivers and a pretty dynamic creek. It’s had major flood events in 1904, 1947, and 1975. I’m not sure I want to press my luck with floodwaters. So, we crossed that neighborhood off our list.
Lansing, like many other larger and older cities, is a patchwork of neighborhoods, some nice and safe, some not so nice or safe, and in almost any given spot on the map, if you go four blocks one way or the other, you can find yourself in completely different neighborhoods. Plus, you never can tell when a neighborhood is on the way up or might take a sudden turn the other way. That makes staying within city limits a dicey proposition. Outside of Lansing, though, it’s harder to find the type of home we want at a price point that will work as we consider sending our son to a private school. Then there’s the matter of everywhere else we go on a regular basis: church, karate, work. You don’t want to be too far away from any of those places that you go several times a week.
While we puzzle out the perfect spot to transplant ourselves, we continue to do the work in our house to get it ready to list. We’ve moved bookshelves, cleaned out files, stowed away hobby items, and started the process of repainting most of the woodwork in the house. There’s a lot of cleaning out to do — the garage, the attics, the basement, the littlest pack rat’s bedroom — and a few bigger improvements to consider, like kitchen countertops and a new garage door opener.
Lucky for me, I finding purging, cleaning, and painting to be cathartic.
It’s been hot and humid in the Great Lakes State.
We’re canning peaches, plums, and apricots and seeing the first apples harvested.
Birds, bees, and butterflies are at their busiest, storing away food and fat reserves for the coming cold.
It’s the time of yellow flowers.
It’s the time of frogs.
And this year it also happens to be the time of floods.
The pond at Fenner Nature Center looks to be a foot higher than the last time I was there, and on our trip there Friday, the boy and I spied little schools of minnows swimming across the deck.
Frogs have taken to floating lazily at the surface rather than sitting on their customary rocks, which are now submerged.
In a few months the teasel will be brown and far less forgiving to the touch. Leaves that are currently melting will be crispy and skipping along the ground.
Already the international students are moving in at Michigan State University (and disregarding stop signs in the Meijer parking lot while I walk across with my seven-year-old). The rest of the college students will be back by next week. You know how people in the South blitz their grocery stores when the forecast is predicting an inch of snow? I kind of feel like I should be prepping before the U-Hauls start arriving in town.
As always, by this time I’m largely done with summer. But we have a couple very busy months coming up, so I’m trying to relish what’s left of it.
I can hardly believe my good fortune, but I am headed back Up North this weekend for a few more days at Lake Louise, this time with just the boy in tow. He’s old enough for Kinder Camp (K-2), which is just for a weekend with at least one parent or grandparent staying on. I’ve never been to this particular program before, but I hear there are nice afternoon nap times (this is for me — the boy hasn’t napped in four years) and earlier bedtimes than what has become standard at the junior high camp (I think I heard 8:30 rather than 11:00). I do believe I shall have time in the evenings to finish a book I’m reading and who knows what activities we’ll be doing during the day.
On a very happy note, I’ll be going up eight pounds lighter than I was last time and I’m hoping to continue losing while I’m there. For someone who was pleasantly surprised to have no to-do list just a month or so ago, I’ve suddenly turned into someone with many little goals — weight loss, house purging & sprucing, novel reading, writing, etc. — and a few new responsibilities at work that I’m still getting my mind around. It’s been a stressful week, so I’m happy to be leaving it all behind for one last little bit.
On the purging front, Zach and I went through a bookshelf last night and actually found things we could part with. I’m hoping for further sifting tonight with a couple other shelves, then possibly moving the emptied shelves up a narrow and twisting set of stairs to the upstairs landing. Our potential realtor advised us to open up a doorway to the bathroom we never use, which we had blocked with bookshelves in the office, in order to stage the house correctly when the time comes. And there’s no time like the present to get some stuff out of the office, which is wall-to-wall furniture right now. I’ve already cleaned out a cupboard for the boy’s overflow of art supplies and gotten rid of a small shelving unit. What I need now (desperately) are some big empty Rubbermaid bins for extra fabric and yarn of mine. And then I think, maybe I should just get rid of the lot of it! Or at least a lot more of it.
You ever watch shows like Love It or List It and think to yourself, yes, there have been many real improvements in this house, but the biggest one is that there’s not so much CRAP ALL OVER THE PLACE! It seems like it is rare that a house is truly too small — we all just have too much STUFF. Sometimes I just want someone to back a garbage truck up to the front door so I can commence tossing. But . . . it’s not all my stuff. And I live with two of the sweetest little pack rats there are. So, storage solutions is the name of the game.
Time to get on it!
Between last night and today, I’ve spent seven hours of intensive labor weeding, trimming, deadheading, and tidying up in the yard in the August heat. Good gracious. I had to take a nap this evening just to function enough to write this piddly little post. But when July is lost to swarms of mosquitoes and a week out of town, there sure is a lot to do when you finally get out there.