Friday, October 10, 2008

Our New Garden and Other Fall Delights

First of all, I know I haven't written lately, and there's a good reason for it: work. Because I am a writing teacher, I spend a LOT of time responding to student writing. When school is in session, the notion of doing any other kind of writing seems both absurd and an incredible burden.

Of course, life has kept on happening, and I don't want the cobwebs of this blog to grow too thick. So I thought I'd post some pictures of progress at our new home in Holy Cross.
We hired some neighbors to plant us a garden. Lisa and Paul are "La La Landscaping," and they are as kooky as their company-name implies. Lisa is a ball of happy energy. She flits. She giggles. She has an idea to create "high heeled gardening shoes" that will make weeding a less-backbreaking chore. She says the queens in the Quarter would love her idea.

Her boyfriend and business-partner, Paul, is her exact opposite. He rarely speaks, and when he does it's a mumble. He weeds slowly and methodically, getting even the most hidden seeds, a cigarette drips smoke all the while. He tells Lisa she shouldn't tell everyone about her shoe idea or someone might steal it. He also doesn't drink a drop, but he makes persimmon wine and he's promised to show me how.

Here's the house when the first group of plants went in.

Paul and Lisa planted zinnias, cosmos, ornamental peppers, rudbeckia, Mexican sunflowers, artemesia, butterfly weed, and jungle red hibiscus in the bed along the south side of the house. Simon and I have gradually been adding a Mississippi driftwood border, and I've been reading a lot about Louisiana gardening and getting excited about plants. I read that red hibiscus (also known as "red shield" or "jungle red" hibiscus) is and endangered plant, but I'm not sure I believe it. Lisa says when the plants flower, the blooms are the same color as the maroon foliage, and you can take the blooms and boil them to make hibiscus tea. Cosmos (the white flower whose foliage looks like dill weed) are scrappy buggers with paper-thin blooms. I'm not sure they're my favorite. I like the zinnias most of all. I cut several and made a lovely centerpiece for our dining room table.

The overall design of our garden is a bit more chaotic than I think I would have chosen. I had in mind several "levels" of plantings. Maybe some gold lantana or artemesia at the front, then some purple Mexican petunias in the middle and the red hibiscus at the back--like that. But Lisa and Paul gave us a ridiculously good deal for all the work they did, and they didn't use any gross chemicals (they even used eucalyptus mulch instead of cypress mulch). And I like the way the garden doesn't look too landscaped or like it belongs in a cul-de-sac in some Driftwood Manor place in everytown USA.

Here's the red hibiscus and butterfly weed when it was first planted. I'll have to take some "after" pictures this weekend.
A cosmos flower:

This morning I saw that a Monarch butterfly had landed on our butterfly weed. I read that the monarchs stop through here in early fall on their migratory path to Brazil.

The cats love the garden. Well, they like to pee in it. And our cat-harem has grown. Not only do we now have Miss Stripeypants hiding out in the backyard, but we also have three feral kittens (not hers) who we're trying to socialize. It's not working. Next up is trapping and neutering...

Here's Miss Stripeypants (who is very possibly, in fact, Mister Stripeypants), looking worried. She won't let me anywhere near her, although she comes running whenever she hears me come out onto the back deck:
This is Big Man (also known to Simon as "White Stockings"), Carrot Soup (the orange and white one), and Peebo (the black scaredy-cat in the background). They're not all that healthy, but they're getting better with more food and water...

In other house-news: a group of volunteers came to help us remove our Katrina-graffiti. Now there's no "1 DOA" next to our door. I miss the big white "0"s, but our home looks more like our home now, and that is a good thing. We used a product called "Graffiti Off" (or something like that) to scrub the spray paint from the vinyl siding. Earlier, Simon had tried to buy spray paint to match the siding, and he wound up making the "D" in "DOA" very defined. The volunteers also painted our front doors "cranberry bog," which I like a lot (I'll have to remember to photograph that, too). The whole house looks very "fall like" in its color-scheme. One day we'll peel the vinyl siding off and paint the wood, but for now it's looking better every day.

Oh: the appraisal got done without any major problems (since the volunteers helped us). The appraiser had been a real jerk the first time he showed up. He didn't get our of his car and essentially turned his nose up at our exterior. This time, he came inside, where he applauded the many choices I'd agonized over. ("So many custom features!") I was such a proud homeowner!

Now we are waiting for the refinancing paperwork to go through so we can start paying a monthly note that's more comfortable for us. We're still paying the construction loan rate, which is high, and I had thought we'd get a really good rate--maybe even the 5.4% George Soros proposed to help with the bailout--but it looks like the rates for 30 year fixed rates haven't gone down. Oh, well. At least we should get it down to 6%.

There's so, so much more to write about, but I need to get back to work, and I wanted this to be a happy-post, and a lot of the other stuff isn't as happy, so...

Well, happy weekend, anyway!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I have been checking up on you since this summer when there was Hurricanes coming your way and you guys packed it all up and left. Thank you for you blog. It puts into real perspective. I really appreciate you continuing to blog even though you have a million and one things to get done. I love the garden and the update about the house. I am also touched and glad that you had volunteers come and help with the house. Have a very Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!