One more project to start. And, worse, finish.

I hate our front yard. We tore up half of it in preparation for a veggie garden, but (as with most projects around the house) one thing or another got in the way of us actually finishing it. This weekend was a recital. That weekend was a swim meet. Next weekend family’s visiting, or we’re visiting them. Then there’s climbing/hiking/camping that has to be done, and a friend who needs help moving and shopping to take care of. You know how it goes. And eventually it’s 95 degrees at 7 am and there was no way I could work out there at all.

So our front yard, at present, looks like this: First, a warped picket fence which is shedding white paint all over the sidewalk. Beyond the fence, there is a sidewalk splitting the yard. On one side, a huge mulberry tree with grass underneath. That’s actually nice, except for the odd barren spot toward the back that needs reseeding. Then there’s the other side, which is all dirt and some rock-bordered planting areas with nothing in them. Well-- that’s not quite true. A couple have dead vegetables. And Dan planted some upright rocks in one of them, which I find charming on my up days and on my down days sums up everything that’s wrong with our entire life.

I don’t know if it’s the crazy unevenness of the yard-- lush on one side, dirt on the other-- or the unfinishedness of it, or what it is that makes me nuts. I knew it was bad, and I knew it needed to be taken care of at some point, but seeing it with fresh eyes after three weeks out of town shot it right to the top of the priority list. Pulling up to my house should give me warm fuzzies, not take me from zero to grouchy instantly.

The heat continued for another week after I got home, giving me time to formulate A New Plan. Replace the fence. Cover the neighbor’s ugly chain link fence with vines. No more veggie garden. Maybe someday, but not this year. No more little floating planters. Instead, one giant planter filled with desert-y things that won’t die when we go on vacation (I feel really bad about this year’s tomato plants). One of the desert-y things will be a desert willow, which is grey-green graceful and drips pale pink flowers. Another will be a mesquite tree-- a smaller version of the one we were married under.

The plan is not the problem, though. The problem is, how do I start a massive project and not get overwhelmed in the process? When we have a million unfinished house improvements started and every one of them is a priority, how do we focus on just one, unto completion?


Autumn's Brink

Okay, here’s what happened. My brother got married on July 31, which was a Saturday. That took up the first weekend I didn’t write. The following weekend was the Centennial Celebration of our family cabins. By then my computer had been off long enough that I was real grouchy at the idea of turning the thing back on; I didn’t write that weekend either. I then misplaced the laptop somewhere in between MN and NV the next week, neatly preventing yet another weekend’s writing. (It turned up at my sister’s house in CO.)

So here we are, in August. The computer and I-- and both dogs, both girls and Dan-- are all home safe and sound.

The last month has been perfect. It confirmed what I’ve suspected the last few years: that under other circumstances and significantly less stress, the four of us function pretty great as a family. It was good to be reminded of that... good to send Miss L off with cheerful memories; good for the rest of us to keep some here as well.

I taught the girls how to play poker this summer. And gin rummy. And hearts. They spent long lazy days never leaving the lake-- I’m sure they peed in it-- and late nights playing cards and watching movies. Many Eskimo pies were eaten. Much lemonade was slugged. Exactly how summers should be spent.

While in MN, I finally cleaned out my storage unit. I went through every single box and unloaded many pointless things from multiple lives, none of which I’m living anymore. I’ve never been scuba diving, but I now know exactly how it feels to drop weights while kicking for the surface.

In finding places in our house for the things I brought back with me, I find they’ve had a purgative effect instead of contributing to clutter. I’ve shoved buckets of the unwanted and unneeded right out the door into donation bags.

I’m sleeping better and breathing more deeply than I have in months.

I’m at Autumn’s threshold, the season weighted with the most potential. School supplies have been purchased. Immunizations are lined up for later this week. Dan says, “This is the year of Us, honey.” And I say, “No. We get the whole decade.”

I am so ready.