Sunday, July 27, 2008

Time Out

It's 27 July and I'm anxiously awaiting the end of the month. As previously noted (on a few occasions here), the summer doesn't hold any real special place in my heart. I don't do the beach thing. Nor do I hold the feeling that a hot summer day is not to be wasted indoors. Those aren't the reasons behind my wishing to see the July page of the calendar ripped away, though.

What's doing me in is the heavy schedule of events - both weekend and weeknight - and the toll it's taking on my wallet. I knew when I was planning to buy my house that my monthly expenses would go up. The problem is, I have yet to re-adjust my social calendar accordingly. I've basically continued to live, and therefore spend, as I had been before the substantial increase in my lodging expense.

I'm not lamenting the purchase; just the lack of adjustment in my lifestyle to properly accommodate such a drastic change. It's four days until payday (a monthly event) and I've got about 100 beans to get me there. It won't be a problem but I don't enjoy cutting it so close.

Admittedly, the high gas prices aren't helping but they're not high enough to be making a serious dent. I'm simply spending more than I should without much forethought. June and July were chock-full of events. Too many events. Some big, some small - just too many, overall. It's time I took a Time Out.

I've already got a couple of 'big' events on the calendar for August which I intend to keep on the schedule... but I'll be making a concerted effort to minimize the addition of anything new.

It's not only the financial aspect that has taken a hit, there's also the personal aspect. Since my Project Walkway posting two weeks ago, I haven't been back out there at all - aside from the two new, green weeds I plucked from the already-been-plucked section today. I think that was the physical manifestation of what I've been feeling the past two months. Things are catching up with me.

There are also books I'd like to read, movies I'd like to watch (Netflix must be loving me and my return frequency), entries I'd like to post here, boxes in my house that still need unpacking, and projects I'd like to get done - nay, need to get done - on the house. These are all things I'm looking forward to doing - and all of them are free or, in the case of house projects, necessary expenses. Yeah, I pay a monthly fee for Netflix but that's negligible. And I'm already paying it, so I may as well get the most out of it.

This isn't to say I'm planning to board up the windows and doors and disappear for good. It's just time to stop, take a deep breath, and re-adjust my priorities. To carefully analyze any potential events or invitations... and to politely decline if I don't feel I have the time or it doesn't fit into the budget.

It's in my best interest, both financially and mentally. And it all begins on 1 August. Bye-Bye July.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Project Walkway

What an absolutely perfect summer day. Temperatures hovering around a pleasing 80ºF. Mild breezes sporadically sweeping past. Blue sky peppered with the occasional cloud. A great day to be out of doors. Just superb.

I took advantage of the agreeable weather by beginning my reclamation bid of the front walkway to my house. It had been taken over by weed and grass as the summer's greenery flourished, uninhibited by man's intervention. In this case, that man would be me.

A busy June weekend schedule coupled with my own bouts of admitted procrastination had put the task off until now. Well, not entirely. A couple weeks ago I picked up two spray bottles of Round-Up® weed killer. After work one night, I emptied both onto the unwanted vegetation - as much as they could cover, anyway. The bottles ran dry before I was able to cover the entire walkway. The remaining green has gotten a temporary respite. Live it up, Weedies. Your time is short.

Here's a picture of the stuff I'm up against. This is the section of walkway next to the driveway and up to the front-side door, which I use every day. You can see how it's been a nagging reminder that there's some work ahead for me. I'll assign this a Level One area ::

Weeds: Level One
Walkway Weeds - Level One

Friggin' disaster, innit? Those blue-greyish looking bits are flagstones which are about a square foot, on average. Some bigger, some smaller but they're there.

This is what the entire walkway looked like prior to the original application of Round-Up® a couple weeks ago. Once the spray was applied, the weeds began to die and after a few days were completely dead.

There are a lot of products out there that make bold claims of what they can do for you. That they're the best at what they do. This is the first product I've used to kill unwanted weed and grass, so I don't have a vast database of which succeed and which fall short of its promise. I will say, however, this stuff works. And works well.

Here is proof of those results; the treated portion of the walkway. This section gets a Level Two rating ::

Weeds: Level Two
Walkway Weeds - Level Two

Outside of non-existent weeds, these are my next favourite kind - brown, dried, and dead.

Looking good but the job's not done, yet. Once the solvent does its work, it's pickin' time. This is the part of the project I began today. Down and dirty, on the ground, pulling every dead weed and tuft of grass out by the roots. Just like my dad taught me when I was a wee tyke, after which I was forced into child labor to keep the tomatoes, cucumbers, zucchinis, summer squashes, radishes, and bell peppers free to grow.

Today reminded me of those summers spent 'weeding the garden' as a kid. The work is a bit painstaking - but it also comes with a nice sense of satisfaction.

Here is the section I started on today. This photo represents just under three hours of work. After a short break to pick up my lawnmower from the shop, I continued for another hour and 45 minutes and did a bit more. This is the Level Three section of the walkway ::

Weeds: Level Three
Walkway Weeds - Level Three

This is pretty much the goal of the project; to rid the walkway of all weed and grass. Is it life-or-death? No. I could just as easily pull up all the flagstones and gravel, allow the grass to fill in, and be done with it.

That's not what I'm looking for, though. So, the project continues. Starting again tomorrow. I just hope Mother Nature doesn't catch up with me and I'm starting all over again right when I've reached the end.

There's a fair amount to tackle ahead and it won't be finished tomorrow, that I'm sure of. Just gotta keep on pluckin'. Once it's cleared, keeping up on it will be the task. Like Sisyphus and his rock...

Here's an overall view of the project area ::

Weeds: Composite
Walkway Weeds - Levels One, Two, & Three

The beds inside the walk and up against the house are another project - for another time. Tomorrow, however, is slated to be another perfect summer's day. My back is a bit sore and my forefingers and thumbs are feeling it... but it's Day Two of Project Walkway for me.