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May 04, 2002: Green acres

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"We don't have anything planned this weekend, right?" I asked Richard, earlier in the week. And upon receiving an affirmative in reply, I pondered what I could actually get accomplished. I even made a little list of Things to Do for the weekend - one of which was to bring the sewing machine in from the garage (where it has been sitting since it made the transition out of my car weeks ago during the great Garage Cleaning incident) upstairs to the guest room and actually trying not only to organize the sewing stuff, but actually maybe start on the curtains for the computer room. I think we all know which item didn't get crossed off on *that* list, don't we.

We started off with the usual ride to Starbucks, but then decided to take a longer way back, turning it into eight miles instead of the usual six. We took a short detour by the Perpetual Garage Sale, which is this fenced-in area where this guy buys up storage units when people don't pay their bills, and he unpacks it all in the yard and sells it. It's this incredible place where you never know what you will find from one weekend to the next. When we stopped by this morning, we found a lot of ugly furniture, and best of all, a computer so ancient that it had a built-in 5 inch disk drive. Short of turning it into a rather eclectic planter, I'm not sure what one could even *do* with a computer that old.

We didn't actually buy anything at the Perpetual Garage Sale (although I was tempted by some lovely polyester selections that were probably in style back in the 70's), and continued on home, where we huddled in front of Richard's computer and finally finished laying out the plans for our back yard. There is going to be a big flagstone courtyard, back behind the kitchen window where it's protected from the wind and where Richard can practice his grilling magic without fear of food flying off the grill into parts unknown. There will be trees - the type that create lovely shaded spaces for benches to be tucked in, perfect for reading. There will be a gazebo and a flagstone pathway or two, and more trees and bushes and some trellises with flowering vine things and a fountain, and somewhere off in the corner a garden plot or two.

In case it wasn't already obvious, neither of us has the first clue about landscaping, but at least now we have a rough outline of what we want and we can track down someone who actually knows what they are doing to draw us up some lovely blueprints that will take irrigation and soil acidity and tree placement into consideration. And maybe this summer we can actually start working on something.

And then because we were all hyped up with the yard thing and I was starting to babble about how maybe we could do this and maybe we could put that there, we zipped off to Home Depot and got ourselves a nice redwood planter for the front porch and a small star jasmine plant and a very large bag of potting soil. Now, call me crazy, but isn't potting soil supposed to smell...well...like soil? This is what I have noticed with every other bag of the stuff I have ever encountered, until today. This potting soil, as we discovered when we got it home and opened the bag, was apparently based on copious amounts of cow manure. I had visions of opening the windows and letting the breeze carry in the scent of the jasmine from the porch. Instead, the breeze carried with it an aroma that made the living room smell like the backside of a barn.

I can only hope that the cow smell eventually fades away. It's either that or we'll just start wearing plaid shirts, overalls, and straw hats, and talking with a country twang when people visit, just so they'll appreciate the atmosphere.

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