Alice in Texas

Not writing here anymore- see top post for details of my new blogs.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

the garden

The garden (yard) of this house is enormous and very beautiful because it is full of trees, like an orchard. I assume it was planted like that for shade, when the little wooden house was built in the 30s. It is also full of animals and insects, which is very interesting for something to watch out there. They all fight over the fig tree and make a lot of noise. I am not a nature expert, I can tell the difference between a butterfly, a squirrel, a bird and a creepy-crawly that might bite me, and that's about it, so I may have to invest in a nature book sometime to find out what everything is. "Wild and dangerous creatures of Texas", something like that.

My plans for the garden are as follows:
1. keep the grass alive,
2. get round to doing something with the overgrown herb patch where one plant has grown into a huge bush and is smothering all the rest to death,
3. occupy the land.

This last part means using the outside space as if it was an indoor space, for recreational purposes. As I said before, there are two (more or less) insect-proof tents out there now, one near the house on the grass and one at the bottom of the garden on mud for using when the grass in the other tent needs a break. There is collapsible furniture for the first tent and the second tent has contents that don't need to move, consisting of an old two-person sofa, a small wicker coffee table, an ancient wicker chaise-longue which I found next to someone's dustbin (I found an identical less ruined version for sale nearby at the moment, for $150, which was cheering) and a tree-stump with side-roots acting as a table/plant-stand.

We decided to make a deck to go under all this, otherwise the rain gathers in puddles, which would destroy the sofa not to mention the big rug under it. So we spent quite a while in Home Depot arranging long pieces of wood on the floor and doing sums, before noticing a ready-made deck leaning up against the wall. It was a big pallette thing for transporting planks, and they said we could have it for free. Apparently people quite often take them and make things out of them. Unfortunately we did not have a truck, and it was ten feet long and weighed several tons. So we bought a saw, cut it in half plank by plank and managed to get it home on the roof of the car. This was fine, as its original shape was wrong anyway, and the two pieces went together sideways to make the right sized deck for the tent.

It is all brilliant, basically, and I love it. At the moment huge citronella candles are mostly taking care of any mosquito problems not covered by the tent, and at relatively mosquito-free times of day I plan to have other things to do in the garden that keep you moving around and therefore less of a target. These are:

1. A trampoline. I have always wanted a trampoline, although what the neighbours will think seeing grown adults bouncing up and down I do not know. (It will be collapsible, to save the grass)
2. I thought about a ping pong table, but a better idea is a net that can be used for either badminton or volleyball. I like this kind of game too. So that is two forms of official exercise, which is good as I don't do any except play the piano at the moment.
3. A hammock. There are two trees in just the right place and the right distance apart for a hammock, although it may need a mosquito net over it. I wanted a Mexican one, but when we went to the only Mexican import shop I could find it was empty.
"We haven't been to Mexico for a while," said the Mexican lady, now living entirely on her fortune-telling and psychic healing skills. "It's too dangerous, people are getting shot down there." Oh well. I used to have a great hammock, but it got left behind in England.
4. A picnic table, to go with the tiny little barbecue which sits in a hole in the ground at the bottom of the garden by tent #2. There is no grass round there, just old logs from a cut down tree and the ground is dry earth. I am calling it the encampment because it is like a clearing in a forest. You can sit on tree-stumps and cook burgers then dash in the tent to avoid any more mosquito bites.

There is also a three-line washing line which could be used as another instant tent for any random children who happened to turn up wanting to play, and a big patch of plants in the middle of the garden that will turn into flowers in the spring. And the last potential plan is to put another tent on the side of the house, and turn it into a washing room with a washing machine and a dryer, because we don't have any in the house as it's too small. Not urgent at the moment though, with just the two of us. Also, going to the laundrette is not unpleasant because it is next door to no less than four different cafes plus an independent supermarket. So that's a coffee for the wash cycle then an ice-cream for the drying cycle, or something similar. I have actually missed out on the pleasantness of this arrangement so far, from being either ill or in a bad mood almost every washing day so far, but hopefully that will not continue.

So, that's all about my garden. There are few things as beautiful as well-designed nature for restoring the soul, so we really lucked-out with this one.


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