Tag Archives: composting

Surprise Blooms and an Unidentified Blockage

red flowers

About a month ago, I was either getting the mail or taking out the trash when I noticed something red on one of the bushes in front of my house. I rarely use the front door, except to water the jasmine that’s out there, so I never look at the bushes. I smiled as I approached the bush — it had a few of these cool red flowers that I’ve never seen on it. I have lived here for almost two years without this bush blooming to my knowledge.

red flowers
Standing in front of the surprise blossoms was like having a conversation with a friend who still continues to surprise. There are many more things to know about parts of our lives — inanimate or not — than we consider.


And then there are inanimate things that we — or I — could live a happy life without “consider”ing. Desert plant buffs, prepare to cringe. Before the holidays when my amazing neighbors came to help hack down all my bushes, they suggested trimming this plant by tying up part of it and just trimming whatever was underneath it. Part of this was to deter pack rats and spiders and promote the general health of the backyards that all four intersect in the corner where the plant resides. Come spring, I was throwing a going-away party for a co-worker and thought this to be a good time to approach this task. I whined and cried and pissed and moaned as I crawled around under that thing for maybe two hours with a pair of gloves and a small pair of handheld gardening clippers. The spiky fronds kept pulling at my hair and scratching and stabbing pretty much my entire body. Add to that the spider webs I found, the old dead rotten oranges fallen from the neighbor’s orange tree, and intermittent and sudden “scurrying” by lizards, and I was not a happy girl. I had a huge pile of spines and other plant parts by the time my wrist was ready to throw in the towel. I am still only half finished. If you see a tweet in the feed about me opening a beer at 7:30 in the morning, you’ll know I am tackling the rest of those damn dead fronds. As I was working I kept thinking that the previous owner should’ve trimmed them AT LEAST once (!!), but to be fair, I have lived here for a while now and could’ve done it much sooner too.


Just to add a little more fun to the subject of the almost-succulent from hell, a stalk has grown out of the top of it and is, of course, leaning toward my neighbor’s yard as it begins to flower. Really need to keep an eye on that sucker as the monsoon approaches. Ah, the perks of DIY landscape maintenance.

As a horrific note, my sons thought it would be a good idea to fill my compost can with water . . . and leave it sitting there . . . in the heat . . . without telling me about it . . . so that after a few days it was positively putrid and full of f_______ flies. I had to drain a bunch of the water; hated that. I put a bunch of dirt in the can to dry it up and the boys heard about it from me.

Moving indoors, I repaired a towel rack last week. My Monkey Children like to swing on the towel racks, naturally.

towel rack

I bought a Tiny Screwdriver set as suggested by Video Joe Knows. It came with a standard and a phillips head screwdriver, mini, as the name suggests. Turns out all you have to do is screw the part that holds the bar into the little flat piece mounted on the wall. That took about 1 minute to do as my son cleaned out their bathroom drain:


That’s the first time it’s ever stopped up that much. And the water is murky because they continued to use the sink to brush their teeth and rinse out their mouths in it. So that is my eldest son’s hand in the photo as I am instructing him to untwist and pull out the stopper of the drain. He asked why he had to and I explained that it’s their drain and he needs to learn to do it, that he’s a boy and boys like gross things, and lastly that I would vomit if I had to do it. After some complaining and wrestling with the stopper, he got it out and we were faced with this:


Bleh. He wore a glove because he wanted to and used about 187 toothpicks to pull all that crap out. He thought it was hilarious how unsettled I was by that gunk. He was proud to have gotten it all out though. Little punk. He even WAVED some of it at me. Gross.


I had him clean out the sink after that and put all of our tools away where they go. I don’t understand what that is in the drain and I don’t want to know. Perhaps some preventive maintenance is in order. It’s funny the things I am still learning about running a home. I don’t know if these things are basic or obvious but I suppose the important thing is that I am learning them.

My basil seeds sprouted on Wednesday.

Time to make a drink. Good night.


Miniscule Updates

Hello Dear Reader,
It seems as though underthisroof has fallen by the wayside as of late and for that I apologize. October is proving to be a very busy month for my friends and family, not to mention the upcoming birthday party of my son followed by Halloween. And I feel that it’s important to mention that the special cleaning and the diversion of my creative outlets is due to the first official party I’m throwing at my house: a Murder Mystery Halloween Party. I am thrilled and very excited to have people over and have a good time. I’ve got plans for decorations and everything and I’m relieved to finally have the space to host a party like this. In laying the foundation for the rest of the month, few noteworthy house projects have surfaced. I will, however, be happy to shed some light on the recent goings-on of my new little household.
To start, the shovel and I got to team up again in our quest to fill in the hole left by the “dwarf” lime tree (did you SEE that root ball??). Unfortunately, Max the Boxer from Down Below is continually and counterproductively digging at this same hole. I have a lot of dirt laying around in the backyard but somehow it’s still difficult to scrape enough of it together to fill in this hole without leaving patches of blue tarp showing up all over the place. Add to that that he’s a giant dog who can fling dirt into next week as he digs and you have one unhappy mom of the house. So for now the Tonka Truck is filling in as my babysitter — along with the large river stones that the previous owner had arranged in circles around each tree — until I devise a smarter way to get the damn dog to stop ruining all my hard work.
Now that that’s off my chest, the next order of business is that I finally bought a trashcan to keep in the backyard for composting purposes. I found a nice round black trashcan with a lid made by Rubbermaid at a fair price. Once I got it home and began to love it, I found it very difficult to justify the need to put holes in a perfectly good trashcan for compost. I knew I needed to just buckle down and do it and that I would be much happier when I did. So I did what I always do and that’s wait until I have a few moments that won’t nearly be enough time for the task that needs doing and begin a project that will push Important Stuff back. drilling I went to the garage and fitted the drill with a 3/4″ drill bit, turned the trashcan on its side and held it in place with my legs as I drilled holes into its side. And let me tell you it was way more gratifying than i thought it would be and it was quick work. I started with holes in the top two-thirds or so of the receptacle so that if I need more I can always add them. Now to collect some dry material as the basis of the compost . . .
The time for me to change my air filter again came and went. And I am a firm believer in the absolute fact that I will need to change that baby every single month. It gets completely loaded with fur and dirt. As does the vent that holds the filter in place. Who knew there was this much dust all over the place?? I would love to tell you that I straddled the banister of the stairs in an unladylike manner to change the filter more safely. The fact is that I again Daredevil Tippy-toed the steps, but it was much less terrifying than last time as I honestly believe that I did grow a little bit since the last post. The screws were easier to reach. I also then went around the house and dusted each airvent. Couldn’t hurt, right?
Perhaps the most interesting update is that I finally picked out some paint colors for the living space. While standing in the corner of the living room, the eye can behold the living room itself, the dining room, the kitchen, and the entryway in one sweep of the eyelashes. So naturally, to me, all the colors have to bounce and play off of eachother in order for me to focus on anything else in life. I picked up a deep red sample for the kitchen and I’m considering a brown-toned mini-tile backsplash. Or tiny silver metallic tiles. For the dining room, I chose a silver-gray and for the living room, and a nice buttery cream yellow sample. I love it. But the painting project isn’t slated until next year so I’ll just have to keep those colors in mind. Plus I want to put moulding up around said livingspace to contain the colors. There’s a pass-through above the wall that separates the dining room from thte kitchen and I don’t want the dining room color to hop over to the kitchen area.
I also awaoke to find unwelcome visitors this past Thursday morning while playing with my dog on the floor in the dining room. It appeared some ants were invited to a picnic on my floor and not by me. It took me a while to find where they were coming from. In trying to vacuum them up, it also came to my attention that my vacuum is on its way out. It won’t pick up too much even after I cleared the blockage caused by a small boys’ sock and the blockage caused by animal fur and a large disfigured staple. Go figure. When I was using the hose attachment of the vacuum to clean the track of the sliding glass door, I discovered that the ants were sneaking in through the dog door and creeping silently along the sliding glass door track, then infiltrating the carpeting under the family dining table. Clever little bastards. So I sucked them up with the vacuum and sprayed a choice bug killer outside the door to deter them. I don’t really have anything against ants, but these ones seemed to possess a vengeance. They were walking very fast and there were three different kinds. Sorry, I don’t need an Ant Superhighway through my living room.
I do, however, need rest. Good night.