The day before I headed to The Boondocks For Christmas With The Family, the Landlord handed me the new Walter Mosley, which, for some baffling reason, I didn't know existed! The Landlord and I swap books all the time, one of the reasons he's a cool guy.
So I was all yay, a plane book probably better than the one I was planning to bring along! What I did not in any way expect was that I would read all but 40 pages on the direct flight out. THIS BOOK IS THAT GOOD, despite the eyebrow-raising hitch in his descriptions of Los Angeles, which slips into cliche vague at points, and the occasional inaccurate descriptions of bus routes. I could not put it down. It is possibly one of the best ones he's ever done, and yes I know that's a Big Statement, but as I've read all he's done except for the porn one, I feel confident saying so.
Finished it during a lull on Christmas night (while secretly pining for the French Quarter, so close yet so painfully far away because they'd notice if I'd grabbed the keys and made a break for it). The next day, upon delivering Me to the airport, Mom took it from me with a Ooo I Love Walter. Mom claimed the Landlord's book for herself, even though I was all umm this isn't my book, actually.* (Three days later, moments after finishing the book, Mom called to talk about it and we had the most amazing chat!)
Finishing Mosley in basically one sitting caused a problem, as I had packed lightly and only had the one book for the journey. As we three sat there in the holding area** watching it load up with what Dad called "more screaming children than I have ever seen on one plane," I realized my backup plan of sleeping on the flight back home was not going to work.*** I needed to find something - anything - to read.
So I took Dad beautiful holiday card**** filled with Merry Christmas Money to the airport bookstore down the hall. Hudson something? The official bookstore of airports that are usually filled with crap works not to my taste? That place.
And lo! Amidst all those crap not to my taste books there was a new Stephen King collection that I was also previously unaware of existing! There were two hardcovers left and I gleefully snagged one. Thank you, o Flying Spaghetti Monster, for the glory that is Stephen King (even if the cover of this one is stupid). I read half of the book on that flight and finished it the next day (bringing my 2010 book total up to 107 of fiction and fact, not that you care, but I track these things. Counting the book that will be finished by week's end, tally will be 108).
I love short stories, I really love extended short stories, and I particularly adore King's work in the spaces between short story and novel because he's supremely good at it.
Meanwhile, during this week of off-the-grid I "redecorated" part of the front yard by digging it up (again) and transplanting my aloe, deer grass and most of a pot of purple succulent thingies from their nursery to the strip where the fire sticks had run riot along with the crab grass. I hope that down the road this will look lovely and will allow me to easily keep on top of rooting out the crab grass in this section:
I'd like to transplant some of my silver falls or my low-growing succulents in pots on the porch to this space as ground cover down the road, but the crab grass in this strip is so stubborn I don't see any option outside of bare dirt so I can get at the crabbies when they poke up. I have been at War with the crab grass in this strip for five years now. I don't understand why I've been able to eradicate it everywhere but this strip. (Note to self: consult with Shane.)
Gotta say, the weeks of rain previous almost crushed my spirit, but all that water made the weeding and replanting much easier by breaking up the mostly-clay dirt we've got in the yard. Thank you, wettest December since 1889!
I did not take a Before comparison shot in any of the front yard because that would expose my Shame. The first photo here gives a hint of how bad it was. The firesticks in the third photo look innocent, but in the space of nine months those fucking things went Wilding! It seemed every week they were either a foot taller or wider. They turned from Tasteful to Tacky.
Due to the day job and other demands elsewhere this year, my ability to weed and do regular upkeep was severely compromised, and the structure of the firesticks made weeding difficult anyway. Members of the family of Gardener of Eden, whose property is on the right of the picture above, were not the only ones to express Relief once I started in this week. I (again) heard from many several neighbors daily who thought I had given up and were concerned the yard would return to what it looked like before I moved in. Hee!
Yard work also included weeding everywhere else; giggling every time I came across a worm as that meant the worm colonies I tried to establish five years ago have firmly taken root, unlike those hussy ladybugs who just flew away every single time; culling the Birds of Paradise; reducing and relocating some of the aloe; murdering the bougainvillea that keeps trying to return in one spot; pulling up the weed grasses I don't know the name of; and pruning the Fried Egg Poppies in prep for next year's bloom. I must say I'm concerned about next year because the pruning happened much later than it should have because I was waiting for the solid week of cold needed first, but the weather didn't cooperate. We'll see what happens in the spring.
Throughout all this, I got to thinking that while it is important to be water-wise with SoCal gardening, I very much miss my brown-eyed Susans. I gave them up for reasons of environment (they need tons of water, which is wasteful) and racoons/possums (they dig up the tasty root tubers, killing the plant and pissing me off). I'm going to research the possibility of bringing back a small clump of BES next year somehow. There's got to be a way that won't waste water or feed the ravenous racoons/possums.
Anywho, "redecorating" the yard left me with with a huge pile of firesticks. After neighbors and a few friends pounced on them I was still left with a huge amount to get rid of:
Because I didn't want to bin them (and, frankly, couldn't as both of the green waste bins were filled with detritus from Elsewhere in the yard) I turned to an open call to strangers via a Twit. Those people came by in the rain the next day and took about 2/3 of the above. Yay! To each visitor I responsibly provided warnings about the poisonous sap, the tendency of these things to turn into Yard Thugs and the center trunk - if allowed to get that big - becoming as thick & tough as an adolescent tree. (I didn't get rid of all my firesticks. I do like them a lot and there's still plenty in the ground. I've just got to figure out how to use them properly.)
The strangest thing uncovered during the marathon weeding was this:
That's a purple succulent in toddler phase, hidden under fans of weed grasses, firesticks and arenegade Bird of Paradise offshoot. It's light green because it has been mostly shaded, and I think its petals are thin for the same reason. Or maybe it's starving what with the weeds and so forth. I'll ask Shane. Since all of the purples are either on the other side of the yard or in pots, I have no idea how it got all the way over here alone. Mystery! For now I'm going to leave it, but eventually it will have to be relocated.
When I wasn't writing, gardening, sleeping attending local Kwanzaa***** events, hanging out with various combinations of friends for daily food/drink, sleeping, fiddling with this, greatly enjoying these righteous rants, hitting up movies with others or alone, and also sleeping, I was lounging on the couch with help from The Best Slightly Annoying Lap Desk Ever:
I have no idea why indoor photos from the replacement CrackBerry are tinged blue. I also have no idea why Cuddle Kitty does this every time I settle in for a round of reading.
Which I am off to do now, laughing at this video in the background.
* She was all I don't have anything to read and I am your Mother. I can go to EsoWon to get a replacement copy for the Landlord who, being a good guy, will understand.
** Their flight left just over an hour after mine. Gotta say, Dad did not do a good job of hiding his increasing amusement over the composition of my plane under a mask of sympathy.
*** Sure enough, once aloft when one of the kids set to screaming that triggered the rest of them all throughout the plane. It was hell. Because the flight back is always longer than the flight out due to battling the jet stream, it was a Long Hell. Even though a couple of the howling kids were cuties, I was torn between sympathy for some of them and wanting them all to be down in the cargo hold.
**** In the immediate family he's the one who gets the Celebratory Event cards for Moi & the Sibling, and he nails it every time. Dad puts a lot of effort into finding just the right card for each of us, and my understanding is Mom signs it but is not consulted - which means in my family it is The Man's Job to find the perfect heartfelt expression of sentiment and love for the daughters. I have cards going back years. Some of them I carry around in my DayRunner to provide a burst of pick-me-up when needed.
***** My holiday season doesn't end until Jan. 1 (though the Holiday Eating tends to continue into the following week).