Time Keeps on Slipping Into the Future

Another day off the grid. There seem to be a lot of those this time of year. I'm juggling a lot, and the cracks are starting to show. No writing is getting done, which hurts, but there's no help for it. Sometimes things take priority. Taking care of my children, being there for every sniffle, every school project, every tantrum and sleepless night, is a decision I made long ago. They'll be grown and gone one day and I'll sit here in the silence and wonder where the time went. While I have it, the words will have to wait.

In other news, rain has arrived in Louisiana. After a year of droughts and hot, dry weather, in October the skies opened up, and in the last month or so have made up some serious ground. As I write this various areas of the state have received anywhere between three and eight inches of rain, with more on the way. Flood watches and warnings have been posted just about everywhere. In my backyard, we are now the proud owners of a stream. Welcome, stream. Do not grow any larger, please.

All of this bad weather and holiday madness has also meant I haven't had much time to spend at the renovation project. It's killing me, as I've grown very attached to the place again after all these years, and I've very much enjoyed the process so far of renewing and remaking the place where I spent my childhood. It's also been an opportunity for my sister and I to reconnect, something that was long overdue.

One thing was accomplished, however - we've chosen a name. No longer the renovation project, now I give you: Arcadia Farm. A few days ago I registered us as a National Wildlife Foundation home habitat, and as part of the process you're required to give a name to the property. We had been playing around with Arcadia for a while, and after some more debate and suggestions we settled on adding Farm to it. No, it's not a farm now. But, it could be, one day. One day.

The LOML and I are taking the GRE on Saturday, in preparation for heading to grad school in the fall. My goal is a PhD in Creative Writing and Folklore. The plan is to take it slow, but every journey starts with a step, does it not? And so here is my step. Why am I doing it? Partly to become a better writer, to hone my craft and research topics that interest me. Partly because I just love to learn, and I miss academia. Partly because it would be nice to have a backup career. And partly because it's been a bucket list item of mine for a very long time, and, like it or not, we are all steadily marching towards that bucket.

So, it's off to study (wow, are my math skills outdated), and wrap presents, and wipe runny noses, and reminisce of antediluvian days.

Every year is getting shorter
Never seem to find the time
Plans that either come to nought
Or half a page of scribbled lines ...

11 December 2009

The Greenhouse Project

As promised, here are pictures from the greenhouse project I completed on Thursday. Ok, maybe 'greenhouse' is being a bit generous. It's probably closer to 'rigged up plastic lean-to', but hey, at only $25 for supplies, I'm not complaining.

The impetus for this whole thing comes from the fact that I have lots of container plants. Lots of them. Many are tropical or semi-tropical in terms of cold tolerance. Now, in the north, that would mean bringing everything into a sheltered location for the duration of the season, but in Louisiana, when it can literally be 20°F one day and 70°F the next, it generally means hauling the whole mess in and out of the garage any time freezing weather threatens. As you can imagine, this is a HUGE pain. Every year I say I'm going to do something about it, but I never get around to it. This year, however, I was determined.

I started with some supplies I got at the local home improvement behemoth. Three 4' lengths of rebar, six 5' sections of of pvc pipe, a bag of L connectors, and approximately 250' of 4mil plastic sheeting along with a few tools: hammer, scissors, staple gun, and that most basic of all redneck home project supplies, duct tape.

Next, I pounded the rebar into the ground at roughly even intervals across from a section of my backyard fence that is already in a nicely sheltered area on the south side of my house. Over this I put three of the pvc pipes, and attached the L brackets at the top.

After this I started attaching the plastic sheeting. I covered the fence, attached the other three lengths of pvc to rest on the fence supports and act as a roof, then covered the remaining two sides, securing it to the ground with heavy cement blocks so that I can lift the sides up on warm days to allow for air circulation.

Next I added some cheap plastic shelving and started filling it with plants. I believe on final count the thing ended up being roughly 8'X6'X6', enough to handle all my plants, but just barely. I think next year I may have to go a little bigger.

Finally, with lots of duct tape and some creative scissoring, I managed to scrape together enough of the plastic sheeting that was left to cobble together some doors. I secured them with clips so that they, too, can be opened up on warm days, and then I strung old leftover Christmas lights over the plants inside, to add just a little more warmth near the leaf surfaces.

So far, the thing has held up beautifully. We don't get ice and snow accumulations around here often, and though the LOML had to go outside Friday night a couple of times to sweep off the heavy ice that was building up on the roof, I think the thing will work beautifully for its intended purpose - a place my beautiful tropicals can overwinter without being such a pain. The location is perfect, close to a water spigot and a power source, so other than a little watering now and then we should be good to go. As I said, it wouldn't hold up to the punishing winters up north, but for my purposes, I'd definitely say it was a success.

06 December 2009

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