The Greater Good

In the summer, my day starts around 5 AM, when I open every window and door in the house.  We are the only house in our neighborhood without air conditioning, so my goal is to get the indoor temperature below 70°F.  And then we close everything around 9 AM, and hope that at the peak, the temperature inside doesn’t go above 82° (or so).  In our previous house, we would turn on the central air at 82°, mainly because the poor little guinea pigs looked pretty wilted at that point …

We made the decision not to have air conditioning when we built this house because we could not justify the environmental impact; call it our “greater good” conscience.  Along with early rising is also early gardening: as I yank weeds at 6:30 in the morning, I have been thinking about Karl Marx:  “From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs.”  My inner snarkiness has resulted in various areas of The Commons now having names:  Cindy’s Folly (a $2000 dream of abundant wildflowers in glorious display is actually 200 feet of exposed black weed barrier with holes for anemic annuals and weeds)  . . .  L&B’s Stupid Strip ((they wanted real grass in the verge next to their house, except the HOA owns only HALF of the strip, so there is now 3 feet of weedy grass — and they think “The HOA” should take care of the weeds because hey the verge isn’t actually their private property) . . .  Joe’s NIMBY (he wanted the frontage but dang it’s a really long frontage and he shouldn’t have to be responsible for shoveling the walkway in the winter let alone picking weeds in the summer) . . .  Adrienne’s Private Dog Park (I mean, where else do you expect Otto the dog to do his business and if no one really uses that walkway then what’s wrong with doing the cleanup just once a week?) . . .



The Greater Good.  From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs.  My little corner of the world really can do better, and I am doing a terrible job of containing my frustration and annoyance.  Worst of all, I have turned into a bigger whinger than I had thought possible.


On really bad days, I visit our local prairie dog colony, where I recently saw the “jump yip” for the first time.  I thought they were just happy to hurry me out of the neighborhood, but the scientists do not have a consensus on the meaning of the jump yip:  warning?  celebratory dance?  seeing if other prairie dogs are being vigilant?  just because?  What we do know is that prairie dogs live in a cooperative community …  And I do not.

So …  on really bad days, I whinge, and yank weeds, and then I remember to smile smile smile, because someone once said that if you smile enough, the smile may become real.  And perhaps I will believe again in the Greater Good.

Spring Sprang Sprung

The winter that was not, and the spring that is:

The ornamental crabapple tree, blooming a month early.

Johnny Pop-Up!

Grape Hyacinth

March was the driest month in 140 years of record keeping — as in, the first March ever with no measurable precipitation.  We try really, really hard not to use the air conditioning; the rule is, the guinea pig has to look hot (usually around 82°) before the AC goes on.  This year, I just know it is going to be a nasty summer: the air conditioning guys came last week and serviced our unit.  Sigh.

Spring Clean Up

Until three years ago, I did not pay much attention to our landscaping.  It was enough that when we bought the house, we hired Mother Earth LLC to install xeriscaping front and back.  Silly us, we thought that would be the end of it — perennials, drought-tolerant grass, native plants.  It was supposed to last forever . . . .  Who knew that the “dwarf” mugo pines would grow into 6-foot tall monsters, or that the sumac would creep under the rocks and reappear on our neighbors’ lawns, or the pinyon pine would attract wasps by the hundreds, or the red twig dogwoods and spireas would send out shoots and multiply on the other side of the fence?

Three years ago, we hired another landscaping firm to take out everything Mother Earth had planted.  We now have a front lawn with non-tufty non-fescue grass, the Teenager got a planting bed to grow vegetables for the guinea pig, and miracles of miracles, the wasps mostly disappeared.  Life was good.  But then, there was the backyard . . . .

We hired yet another landscaping firm, and got rid of more dogwoods and mugo pines, and this year, all the various shrubs got major haircuts.  Unfortunately, that still leaves the horrendously ugly tufty dwarf tall fescue/bluegrass/? lawn, bare patches, bunny holes, ant hills and all.  I keep trying, though, because three years ago I also discovered that yard clean up is a lot like cleaning the bathroom: it is one of the most therapeutic activities around.   For the last three springs, my pet project has been the restoration of the original delineation between lawn and rocks.  Today, after an hour of digging and pulling out grass, I found the rest of the original perimeter:

To fully appreciate this accomplishment, one must realize that this bit of edging (about 3 feet worth)  has not been seen in probably 15 years or so.  So yes, time for that glass of Jura single malt, and Happy Spring to me!