I have a spreadsheet in which I keep a daily record of some basic diet and exercise stats. This allows me to report that I’ve put in 44 solid hours of yard work since April 11th–22 of them in the last seven days. I’m pooped.
I also have poison ivy. Poison ivy, which is a plague in Pepperell (maybe because of the river?) invaded my property about fifteen years ago, and according to experts, has become more virulent in general due to the increased levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. I tend to get poison ivy when I’m doing a lot of cutting and clearing on my property because I’m often doing that in the spring and fall when the plant isn’t visible, and/or I’m getting into spots where I didn’t know it had spread. Also, it’s especially obvious this time that I get a reaction mostly when my skin is scratched or irritated and then exposed to the poison ivy sap. I’ve been clearing lots of brush, and some of it has turned out to be blackberry brambles, and I’ve been hauling huge armfuls of it to the brush pile (a lazy man’s load, as they say!), and wherever the brambles “got” me when I was grabbing all that brush (inside arms, torso, sides of my neck), that’s where the poison ivy rash has broken out. Yes, I’m wearing long sleeves and a new pair of extra-heavy gloves, but what I actually need is a hazmat suit–or at least something impervious to thorns, but they go right through the leather gloves. It’s actually not that serious an outbreak–almost no oozing, which is the worst thing with poison ivy. It’s mostly just hives, and itchy. Fooey.
It’s my own darn fault, of course, because I’m continuing the gargantuan task I first started last spring, of clearing out places on my property that had been shamefully neglected for years and years and were in disgraceful shape. I’ve now completely cleared out a big space next to the west side of my house, and honestly, I’d be embarrassed to tell you some of what I found in there, and how much time and backbreaking hard work it took to clean it up! Now the whole space is absolutely smooth, and empty, right down to bare ground. But I know there was poison ivy growing in there, although I hadn’t seen any live plants for a couple of years. The dead leaves can be toxic for quite a while.
The black flies are out, too, but they’re only a serious nuisance if it’s humid and the air is very still. I have a beekeeper’s hat with netting that I can wear if the bugs really get to be problematical. I’m moving around enough to stay ahead of them, most of the time.
Yesterday (Monday, that is), I got up a bit early, did the laundry, hung it on the line, and did four and half hours of yard work. I came in, changed, and went to the grocery store for more trash bag stickers and an empty box. I came home, quickly had supper, and went to Pepperell’s Annual Town Meeting. We finished the entire agenda by 10:23 p.m., which must be some kind of record–I can’t remember when Annual Town Meeting failed to run for at least two nights! But that means I didn’t have to go back tonight, and I’m not complaining about that. I came home from Town Meeting, prepped for New Moon ritual, and did New Moon ritual at 2:00 a.m. Then I got everything ready for the biweekly trip to the transfer station with the trash and recyclables, and that always involves some cleaning, changing the bunny cage and litter boxes, and so on.
Today (Tuesday), I got up even earlier, made two trips to the transfer station with the usual stuff plus three very full, heavy bags and a large box full of trash and recyclables I cleaned out of the patch by the house (don’t ask. Just don’t. I’m so embarrassed at myself). Then I ran a couple of errands, including to the hardware store to buy a new bypass lopper (don’t ask. Seriously. *snarl* My tools fear me). The weather was much nicer than originally forecast, and I thought I’d get more done today…but I just couldn’t. I had no energy and no motivation. It might be partly ritual wine hangover, partly the histamine reaction to the poison ivy making my immune system all wanky, partly the fact that I’m sleeping like crap…but I was outside for an hour this afternoon and decided my body was telling me to take a break. I did complete a couple of small tasks so I didn’t just feel like a quitter.
One of my neighbors offered to cut up a fallen tree that was right on our property line. I came out on Sunday afternoon and there were the neatly sawn logs, all stacked by the brush pile. The chainsaw didn’t even disturb my sleep and my bedroom is about 30 feet from that corner! That was just incredibly nice of the neighbor (the same one who complimented me on how good my yard looked a couple of weeks ago) and I’ll have to take them some homemade cookies or something.
A few weeks back I dug all those fern roots out of a large space in front of the house and put down grass seed. The grass seed just sat there until it got warm and then it simply burst out into grass. It’s growing like mad now. The peas and spinach I planted in back are all up and growing, and I have more to plant. The seeds I planted indoors are all up and growing, including the peppers I replanted, although weirdly, only half of the second planting came up. Peppers don’t seem to like me. I’m going to have to mow what passes for my “lawn” within a few more days! The white and yellow daffodils are blooming (they’re always later than the yellow ones), the violets and dandelions are opening, the flowering crabs are getting ready to bloom. The wild strawberries are going crazy on the east side of the house. I’m going to trellis up the black raspberries and blackberries to make them easier to harvest–I’m trimming all the saplings I’m cutting to make poles and stakes for the garden plants, and I have a pile of them already. I just need to rototill and prep the vegetable garden, and till the compost pile into it. I believe our “last frost” date is May 15 and I’ll probably wait until Memorial Day to plant, since the cold weather has really been hanging on this spring.
And I swear to the gods, the first poison ivy leaf I see, I’m going out there and pouring battery acid on it. Arrrggh! Although, goats eat it. I want goats! And chickens! (This place in Winchendon I mentioned in a previous post has two full acres and a barn…) As far as I can tell, the Draconian outdoor watering ban is no longer in effect. I have no idea what the status is of the town well that was closed down because of contamination last year. But the town website only gives the even-odd numbered day rule that’s always in effect. I can still save gray water for the garden just to feel good about myself.
I just got three proofs for Applewood (the hardcover with dust jacket and paperback from Lightning Source–those are distributed by Ingram–and the paperback edition from CreateSpace for Amazon sales), and the ARCs for Marco. Now I need to order the short runs for Applewood and send the out review ARCs for Marco. I need to send my authors their quarterly reports. I’m finishing the layouts for Anne Fraser‘s two collections and then those ARCs will be sent out.
The Longer the Fall got a great review from Bitten By Books! That was so nice to see, because I’ve been sweating out the Massachusetts Center for the Book awards, which were just announced last Thursday, and The Longer the Fall did not make the cut. I didn’t really expect it to, but I’m still disappointed. *sigh* At least it will be included in the “book census,” which already has Mortal Touch with the 2007 titles. These are all books either by Massachusetts authors or dealing with Massachusetts as a setting or theme.
I’ll be observing true Beltane this Thursday, May 5 (8:41 p.m. UTC). It’s so funny, there’s some kind of “national Day of Prayer” that day…on the true Beltane cross-quarter! How…appropriate! It’s also the Eta Aquarids meteor showers…so of course, it’s forecast to be pouring rain.