I’ll probably have more to write about our trip in the future, but at the moment it’s all so overwhelming. There’s so much to tell — where do I begin?
Kris caught a cold in New York, and so has spent the last several days under the weather. I, on the other hand, am full of energy and ideas. After visiting so many beautiful places on our trip, I decided it was a shame that we don’t make Rosings Park everthing it could be.
For example, we visited Jane Austen’s house at Chawton, just south of London. While the house itself was rather unremarkable, I loved the yard. (Or “garden”, as the British call it.) It reminded me that outside spaces can, with creativity, be turned into “rooms” of sorts.
“I want to do that with our yard,” I told Kris.
“Fine,” she said. “As long as the house is still screened from the road.”
I rose early on Saturday, and one of the first things I did was begin ripping out the undergrowth and dead wood from the shrubbery in front of the house. It had occurred to me that there was enough space in this spot to create a sort of quiet reading place. It’s near the road, true, but it’s shielded enough by holly and laurel to be relatively private. (And our road has light traffic, anyhow.)
At first I had planned to rip out the huge laurel near the house, but after spending an hour inside the grove (as I’ve come to call it), it was clear that the laurel was actually responsible for both screening the house from the road and providing a good deal of shade. Besides, after clearing away all the other crap inside the grove, there’s a large open space perfect for my intentions.
So now I’ve cleared an open area in the shrubbery in front of the house. The next step is to determine exactly what to do with it. Do I lay down some gravel? Some paving stones? Leave the hard ground as it is? Do I build a bench? Buy some outdoor furniture from Craigslist? Do I need to plant another bush or hedge to screen the grove from the road?
It also occurred to me that it’s ridiculous that I haven’t finished my horseshoe pits. I started that project nearly eighteen months ago, did about two-thirds of the work required, and then stopped. The area had become overgrown with blackberries, cherries, and locusts. So, I took the time on Saturday to pull these invasive plants up by the roots. There’s still a lot of work left to finish the job, but at least the area’s presentable now.
On top of these two projects, there are two similar jobs I want to do. Underneath our redwood tree is a perfect space for a bench to overlook the side yard. Right now, though, the space is filled with three years of branches from trees and shrubs. We need to rent a chipper and clear this space. Finally, behind the smoking porch is another section of overgrown shrubbery, beneath which could be another nice sitting area. The trick here is that the compost pile is just outside the space, and will have to be moved (where?) in order for it to be usable.
So, I’ve been busy working outside. The camellias need pruning, as do several other hedges. The lawn needs to be mowed. (In August? Unheard of!) Often I view this sort of work as a burden, but now, because I have a goal, it’s fun. This is what I want to be doing. I’m even working on these projects at the expense of my web sites.
Paul and Amy Jo have moved into the neighborhood. They’ve purchased a house about a mile down the road, and are in the process of gutting it. They dropped by our place last night to pick up some stuff (Rosings Park is acting as one staging ground for them), and we convinced them to help make pickles and then to go for dinner at Gino’s.
Gino’s is our current favorite restaurant. It’s not cheap, but it’s not expensive either. The food is excellent, and generally the service is as well. Last night, though, was a different story. For whatever reason, the place was slammed at 7:30, despite the fact it was a Monday night. The restaurant was understaffed (and some of the staff that was there was new). This made for a very frustrating dining experience.
We arrived at 7:30. We were seated at 7:54. It took forever for anyone to take our drink order, let alone the order for our meal. We received our appetizers at 8:32. We didn’t receive our meal until 9:09, more than ninety minutes after we had arrived. As I say: a very frustrating experience.
This has not, however, soured us on the place. The food was excellent, as usual, and there was no question that the restaurant was far, far busier than anyone had expected. If we hadn’t been so damn hungry, the wait might not have even been an issue.