8.10.2017

Kiss My Grass, Part 1: The Beginning


The Beginning

I've never been the type of person to put too much effort into a lawn. But then again, it wasn't until we bought our house in 2013 that I actually owned a yard. And to raise the stakes a little higher, we had sod laid in our backyard two months after we moved in. We essentially gutted the backyard because it was in a bad state of being. I still wish to this day that we had taken more pictures. So, after the time, money, and effort to get to that point, I didn't really want to see that investment go, um, bad.

Before we had laid the sod, the backyard was just dirt, literally. A lot of work went into getting it to the point of being just dirt. We had to disassemble and remove an old and rickety swingset. We removed random bushes that had no rhyme or reason to their placement. We dug out a cement footing that, because of Google Earth, we believe supported what looked like a light pole. The neighbor behind us had and has a mostly forested backyard, and it had been allowed to start taking over our backyard some years prior. So, that overgrowth went into our yard up to five feet at most from the property line, and it was very thick and root-y in spots. And then, there were the leaves.

The back right corner of the backyard had become a giant compost pile. We wondered, and still do to this day, if that was intentional or just laziness. It seemed like it had become the destination for many years worth of leaves. Although it wasn't a square pile, I would say it was about twenty feet by thirty feet and about three to four feet tall. It was disgusting and smelly and buggy. What did I do with the leaves? It took a while, but I spread them around the low spots in the backyard. I didn't really have anywhere else to put them, and I wasn't going to spend the money on having them removed nor was I going to spend money to haul them. I took a cue from the state they were sliding into—decomposition.

I had two dump truck loads of dirt delivered to the house. I used that to build up the ground around the house to ensure water would flow away when it rained. Also, it allowed me to bury the leaves I had spread around. It's amazing how quickly dirt disappears, or at least gives the impression of disappearing. I had rented a Bobcat to move large amounts of dirt and also smooth out the backyard. It would have been agony had I tried to accomplish all of that with a wheel barrow and other implements. Of course, it decided to rain the second day I had the Bobcat and using it only made things worse. It was a good thing I got most of the work done the prior day. I didn't want to rent it for longer than I had to, so back it went on that second, rainy day.

I had planned on planting seed, initially. It would have been much cheaper than sod. But, with time going faster than the work getting accomplished, I knew that seed would take longer to fill in the yard. And to be a much more effective route, I figured I would have to sow seed more than once that summer. Despite the cost of sod and paying for labor, hiring it out made the most sense and got the job done in two days. Also, the company that did the work finished up the job of smoothing and grading the backyard. That was a plus. The only initial hiccup was that they snagged our newly buried internet cable and cut into it. They did a quick repair and all was well (and still is well).

That first summer in the new house saw us on a daily schedule of keeping the sod watered. Even with water being relatively cheap, the price tag was hefty. Also, I had learned that summer that the soil in our area has a lot of sand in it, which is not so good for holding moisture near the surface where the roots are. We went out of town a few weeks after the sod was laid, and even though we thought the grass had done a decent job of establishing itself, it just so happened to be the beginning of a long and hot dry period of the summer. We had watered it enough up until the time we left, but after, we didn't have someone we could count on to consistently water it for us. Fortunately, we were gone for less than a week, but that was still enough to burn sections of the backyard.

Since my wife and I were getting married that September in our backyard, we wanted it to look nice. It was the whole point in why we were doing all of that work that summer in the first place. We figured we would put money into our yard and house and not a venue. So, we had a couple of months at best to patch up those burnt spots and hope we didn't run into any other problems. The grass was the absolute only thing we had to do and worry about, right? Yeah... Stupid grass.

Rather than replace the sod, which we weren't necessarily convinced was toast but probably was, I applied some Scott's PatchMaster (mulch, seed, fertilizer) that actually worked pretty well, especially in areas that had more shade. I used quite a bit that summer and have occasionally since then. Other than being a lighter shade of green than the sod, the newer grass filled in those dead spots, and we had a backyard full of grass for our wedding. The difference in color wasn't very noticeable from the ground. Looking out the window from the top floor of our house, yes.

Had we known just how destructive pine trees are to grass, we wouldn't have had sod laid in that area of our yard. Also, the guy putting in the sod said it shouldn't be a problem. Shouldn't doesn't mean won't. Our neighbor to our south has a row of pine trees along a portion of the property line next to our house. There's probably only fifteen feet or so from the line to our house, so there's also not a whole lot of sun reaching the ground.

However, we (my wife) wanted grass there for the wedding, and so I spread lime and grass seed throughout that area. It was a temporary fix. One that I told my wife I would not be repeating. After that first year, we gave up on growing grass there, will be landscaping it in the future, and then grow appropriate plants for the conditions. Ultimately, I think it will turn out better than just having grass there, anyway. Another experience to learn from.

A couple of other happenings from that summer that are interesting is the discovery of a hidden sidewalk and the tall yet thin tree that fell down in our backyard. That also reminds me of all of the chunks of asphalt and concrete I've dug up since we moved in. Considering our neighborhood was a part of a historically documented tornado, I can only assume that therein lies the answer.

The hidden sidewalk was discovered because my wife wanted to plant flowers. The area she wanted to plant is a dirt patch surrounded by our porch, garage, driveway, and walkway from the driveway to the porch. When she hit something hard with the shovel, she came and got me, and that's when we discovered the hidden sidewalk. It was probably the original from when the house was built in 1971. The current sidewalk does look new, and rather than take the old one out, they decided to cover it with dirt. They being the company that flipped the house before we bought it. A sledge hammer took care of the old sidewalk. Afterwards, we filled the area in with some of the purchased dirt I had mentioned earlier.

Lastly, for this post, and ironically, perhaps, the first yard improvement we did happened shortly after we bought the house. There were two tall, thin trees that were growing in the backyard. One of them fell down due to it dying, and fortunately, it fell in an open area of the backyard and caused no damage or injury. It happened before the sod was laid so the tree and stump didn't cause any issues with that. We had the stump professionally ground, and my father-in-law cut the tree up with a chainsaw for us as I worked on other yard projects that I've already mentioned. It was the first batch of firewood we harvested from our trees.

That summer was very busy. The busiest I had been since I graduated college. Between moving, doing home improvements, planning and executing a wedding, and working as much overtime as I could, I was pushing myself as far as I could go. It was only the beginning to a new chapter in my life. Little did I know what I had started. Or, did I?



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7.24.2017

THE NOT SO DAILY DUMP #4


Emily Prime

Over the last two years, I've watched a short film called World of Tomorrow a couple of times. It's a cool, animated film that is both weird and futuristic. I believe it's only about fifteen to twenty minutes. I'll probably end up watching it again. How many more times? I don't know. Maybe, my clone from the future will come visit and tell me. It's on Netflix, if you're interested.

When I found the following video on YouTube, I noticed that the creator of this short film had other videos. I shall have to view them sometime. Maybe, I'll share one of those on THE NOT SO DAILY DUMP in the future.

Here's a teaser trailer for World of Tomorrow. Yes, it came out in 2015. (And, here's the link for email subscribers.)




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New Posts To Consume

I have recently published a post about the fire pit and patio that was constructed in my backyard. I'm looking forward to the time that I and others will get to spend enjoying it. Check out the post, "Come On Baby, Light My Fire." It's not too long but long enough to warrant it being its own post. Oh, and pictures! Who doesn't like pictures?

Another post I've recently published, "Living Gratitude And Other Positive Habits," dives into where my mind has been and is as of late. Personal development is a lifelong process, so get started. Don't wait. You don't have time to lose.

My family and I watched a movie called Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children a couple of weeks ago. I wrote about the experience in a post called "The Peculiar Children." It's not a synopsis or a review as much as the result of our watching and more and so on.


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Clarification Alert (And Disclaimer)

I realized after posting "Living Gratitude And Other Positive Habits" that someone not already familiar with my work schedule would question why working "ten of the last fourteen days" would be a big deal. After all, anyone with a Monday through Friday, forty-hour-a-week job would be doing that regularly. Also, why wouldn't having a habit that's done five mornings a week be mostly sufficient?

First off, my normal work schedule is Friday through Sunday, and I work twelve hour days. Any hours I work beyond that is overtime. When you consider that I only have six days off this July, you may see that it's been and will continue to be a busy month and an excellent time to take advantage of habit building as outlined in the post. July is generally the heaviest overtime month of the year. August will make up for it, though. As of now, the only day I plan on working overtime is the thirty-first. That should give us more time to do some family activities we've been holding off on before school starts.

Lastly, you may wonder why I don't talk about my day job more, or if I will in the future. The answer is simply no. I say what I have to and I keep it at that. It's a good job, but I keep my work life and my home life as separate as possible. The company I work for is a well-known, global, science-driven business. It's not my dream job, but it's not one to nonchalantly walk away from, either. I've learned a lot over the almost nineteen years I've worked there, and have met many great people, including my wife.

That is all for now or maybe ever.


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Goony Golf

The local mini-golf establishment that's been around this area for almost four decades has closed. I don't think anyone in the immediate area is looking forward to the "senior housing" going in. The way the city and the development company have changed the parameters of what this new property will be over the last year just makes those involved look suspicious.

I don't have a problem with "senior housing" or seniors for that matter. The shadiness comes in when you look at what the rules for those who can live in this development are going to be, and in reality, the outcome of it. That's why I've used quotes on "senior housing."

I don't think I want to get into it too much now. Perhaps, if I get cranky enough about it, I'll write a full-length, angry post. (Also, I'd rather see what happens with the new housing first, to see if our suspicions come true.) However, I don't want my blog to become a place where I go to complain about the world. Not too much, at least. There's enough negativity everywhere.

One interesting tidbit, though, is this local travesty got my politically motivated juices flowing again after many years of dormancy. Then I realized, why the hell would I want to get involved with politics. Even the good guys seem to somehow be framed up as jerks. I can do that on my own without the headaches of getting into the political sphere.

Lucky for us, we were able to get in one more round of mini-golf the last week that Goony was open. My wife will be glad I didn't go on at length in this post about how she wouldn't let me buy the place and be the hero of our city, about the vision I had for how to make it better than it was, about how it would have been the perfect business in which to have launched my other business ideas, about how she is the killer of dreams. Yes, she will be grateful.


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Shine That Spotlight, You Crazy Diamond

In this issue of THE NOT SO DAILY DUMP, I've decided to recognize my cousin, Douglas Ferrie. He lives in the Twin Cities of MN as well. He's been a visual artist for many years, starting when he was a kid. He's went to college for it, and he's got a job with House of Kolor as a Marketing Coordinator that takes him all over the world.

Just recently on Farcebook, I saw that he has been invited to be a featured artist at a show called "Savor" presented by RAW Minneapolis.

Find out more about the event and see some of his work by going to his profile page at the RAW Artists' site.

http://www.rawartists.org/doodlemonster


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Meet Me At The Sandlot

About a month ago, the fam' and I watched the classic movie, The Sandlot. My wife and I had seen it before, many years ago, but the kids hadn't ever. I received this movie for Father's Day, because my wife and I like to buy things and then figure out an appropriate time to distribute the purchases. I had to act surprised when I opened the DVD. It was mostly a purchase for the kids.

My toddler son was indifferent, my older son wanted to watch it, and my daughter didn't want anything to do with it. My wife and I made the executive decision that we were going to watch the movie. It didn't take long before both of the older kids were happily watching. It had been quite a few years since I'd seen it, and only once at that, and I was enjoying reliving the story. I'm sure it will be playing every now and then going forward, which is good, because that's the point of buying a DVD.

A day after we watched the movie, I believe I heard my oldest son jokingly call my daughter donkey lips. I think they now have a whole new repertoire of verbal take downs since those are pretty prevalent in the movie. I was at work earlier that day, but my wife said that they had wanted to watch it again (but then actually didn't). I have a suspicion that they are going to have them all memorized before next school year.

Who hasn't seen The Sandlot? If you need a nudge to do so, or if you just want to be a bit nostalgic, you should give this clip a view. It was hard to pick just one. (Hey email subscribers, give this blue line of text a click for some view-age.)




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7.17.2017

The Peculiar Children


Last week, my family and I watched Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children, and we all loved it. We had time to watch a movie that night, maybe not a 2+ hour movie, but none of us were up too late. My wife didn't know anything about the movie, but I was at least somewhat familiar with the premise. My daughter had suggested that we watch it, and then insisted on it, as she has watched the trailer "thousands of times." This was news to my wife and me, but we believe it. We have Apple TV and one of the apps that comes standard is a Trailers app. It's quite nice to have, actually.

I think the movie is appropriate for children, dependent upon the children and their age. It's much darker and more scary than my wife and I had anticipated, and we kept asking them throughout the movie if it was going to be a problem, if they were going to have nightmares. We were continually reassured that everything was fine, that it was scary, and that they were really enjoying the movie. Okay, then, carry on, right? At a certain point, the damage is already done. Watching more of it doesn't really matter once they are thoroughly scarred from the experience. Game on.

Once the movie was over and it was time for everyone to go to bed, the older two kids began lamenting about how the movie scared them, and that they were going to have nightmares, and that they didn't know how they were going to sleep at all. I reassured them that it wasn't real and that it was just the result of someone's imagination. I said this and more, and I think it was comforting, but I know they were still spooked. Surely, Dad doesn't know everything. Surely, even Dad doesn't know what happens when he sleeps.

My daughter mentioned that she was going to wake me in the middle of the night if she was scared, you know, because it was all of my fault that I let her watch a movie she begged to watch. It was HER idea. I then told her, because I was working the next day that I would be sleeping in the basement. She does not like being in the basement alone when there is daylight. I don't think I'll have to worry about her waking me up down there. I DID tell her that if she wakes mom up in the middle of the night because she's scared that she might actually find a monster—Mom. With the toddler waking up at random times of the night on random days, my wife doesn't appreciate being woken up. I wouldn't either. She hasn't been able to sleep like a normal person since before she was pregnant with that villainous, sleep-thieving toddler.

The best part of the kids being scared, if there is a best part, is what my oldest son said to me while he was lamenting and getting ready for bed. I was going through the speech I give when the kids are spooked by something we have watched: It's not real. You could have stopped watching if you wanted to, and so on. I also try to relate with them and talk about my experience as a kid watching things that scared me. In the midst of my reassurances my oldest son said to me, "Come on Dad, I'm six!"

I had a brief chuckle at my son's comment. Soon after that moment, I started feeling a little guilty, like he knew better than me, an adult, that he shouldn't have watched the movie. I questioned whether or not letting them watch it was a good idea. I wondered what kind of hell they were going to live through that night. My son and daughter have separate bedrooms, and they both have nightlights. Still, there are always shadows. Underneath the bed is always a good place for monsters to hide. There they were laying in bed, alone, waiting for the carnage to come.

My daughter did wake up my wife at two a.m. that night. The most that usually comes of her waking us up at night is to tell us she's scared, then she goes back to bed. Because really, what are we ACTUALLY going to do about it? My daughter is a bit of a nighttime worrier. It's why we never tell her if there's a tornado warning or watch, or a pending thunderstorm, or rain, or wind, or the fact that weather even exists while we sleep. If she catches any word remotely related to weather that isn't sunshine, my wife and I are going to hear her talking non-stop about how the apocalypse has finally come, and we're all going to die.

I don't regret letting them watch the movie. I wouldn't be surprised if they watch it again. I think they are at a good age to start learning what they can and can't handle. Of course, my wife and I still play a big part as gatekeepers to what they're exposed to and will for quite a few years to come. Maybe next time they will think twice about a scary movie? Maybe, they will start to understand that it's just make-up and special effects, and there's no reason to be scared. Realistically, though, adults get spooked by movies and still watch them, anyway. It's what we humans do.

So far, no monsters have come.

Game on.



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