Conquering Landscaper

We made great progress on the overgrown bushes and trees in the front yard on Sunday. But there’s always more work to do, and it’s amazing the life lessons you learn from gardening. Two things I’ve thought about recently:

- Weeds can be easily plucked out or deeply entrenched and require serious work to remove them [Like the sin, struggles, and temptations in my life)

- Some plants are pretty (like ivy) or produce delicious fruit (like blackberries), but they can grow with abandon and often destroy things in their path. [There are so many "good" things in life that can become idols if I place them ahead of the Lord and my role as a wife and mother.]

We’ve been clearing out some greenery from the side of our house. I don’t know why it’s taken me so long to feel any ownership of the landscaping in the yard. If you don’t know how to properly plant a tree ? then visit to kglandscape website.

Me: “It looks like we’re going to stay here a little while longer, I think we should plant some flowers we like.”
Tim: “After 10 years here, you’re just now feeling settled?”
Me: “Um.”
Tim: “Well, I guess you decluttered the garage and reorganized most of the house, it was time to move to the yard.”
Me: “Yes. That’s it. Or maybe I was just too busy trying to keep track of 5 rascals (homeschooling, housework, and life) and never got around to actually looking at the yard.”
Tim: “You’ll have 3 kids in college in the fall. Plenty of time to work on new things.”
Me: SOB!
Tim: “I’m going inside now.”

After cutting down two little trees that had grown up alongside our lovely Birch by the mailbox, I began to cast my eye around at what else we could get rid of. There was a tall shrub on the one side of the garage that came to my negative attention. Not particularly attractive, not helping with privacy, constantly needing pruning but dead inside, it needed to GO.

Of course, deciding a big tall (read thick roots and stump) bush needs to be removed and actually doing it are two different things. Another life lesson! Daniel and I did some sawing at the base of the bush before he reluctantly (or was that cheerfully) left me to go off to work. I started to work on the branches since I could tell there was no way I could saw through the thick base myself. Pretty much all I did was make a big mess on the driveway and destroy the bush.

The kids: “Mom, if you thought that bush looked bad before…”
Me: “Quiet and grab some hedge trimmers. We can do this!”
Kids: “Sure thing, we’re just gonna go call Dad first and see when he’s coming home.”
Me: “Traitors!”

I never think to take Before or even Middle pictures. It always looks so bad, I am embarrassed to document it on film. Later, I wish I had captured the “Oh Dear” of the befores.

When Tim got home, I begged him to help me cut down this stupid bush.

Tim: “Really, Kathy, you could easily do this yourself with the saw.”
Me: “Great, so you’ll help me?”
Tim: “If I do this, will you stop bugging me?”
Me: [crossing fingers behind back] “Of course, dear.”

15 minutes later.

Tim: “Man, this saw isn’t even touching the trunk of this bush. Bring me some rope.”
Me: “Thank you so much!”
Pause, pause.
Me: “So the, ‘Kathy you could have easily done this yourself’ was NOT totally true.”
Pause, pause.
Tim: “Harrumph.”

LOL! I had to go pick up the kids at their middle school lake day, so I slipped away while Tim was working. When I came back the bush was cut down, and Tim was victorious!

Got muscles, will prune.

Got muscles, will prune.

Very thankful to get that ugly shrub out of there. Still have some roots and stump to deal with, but that will wait until later.

"I will step on you, little bush."

“I will step on you, little bush.”

Project 365 – Day 217

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Brother’s Druthers

One of my favorite hobbies is to tease and exploit my brother. In the past, I’ve had to exercise a certain amount of restraint, but now that Mark is a civilian, all bets are off. Mark was originally an armored cavalry officer (before he got all tech-y, or possibly tetchy) and went into simulations. Whenever I was tempted to push the limits in harassing or taking advantage of him, I would remember that only his sense of restraint preserved my home (and my town of residence) from being turned into rubble by a squadron of M-1 Abrams tanks.

Not my brother's actual tank.

Not my brother’s actual tank.

You can imagine my relief, when he decided to retire as a full Colonel. Now, as a lowly civilian, I seriously doubt that he can whistle up a tank squadron, so I can tease him mercilessly, and fully exploit his gullibility and earnest, dutiful, hard-working temperament.

Some people really shouldn't be let out without a keeper.

Some people really shouldn’t be let out without a keeper.

On Sunday, Mark came out to Washington for a job interview, and he and Liz and Tim and Sunny and little John, all came for dinner Monday evening. It was lovely to spend some time with them all, and we persuaded Mark and Liz to linger when Tim and Sunny took baby John home to bed.

The whole MGE clan.

Challenge: See if you can pick out which one is my brother.

One of my other favorite hobbies is to get people to do repairs and maintenance on my home, or even (when I’m especially ‘in the zone’) to get them to make major renovations. When we lived in the Duckabush, I used my Tom Sawyer wiles on my brother and my Dad (and a few unwary neighbors), persuading them to build a significant portion of the deck that wraps around that house. The only reason we have a playground structure out at that house is because my brother couldn’t stand the way I dumped the playground pieces on my yard for several weeks (in the original Costco packaging).

"Yes, that is a board, Mark.  Very astute of you to recognize it -- well done!"

“Yes, that is a board, Mark. Very astute of you to recognize it — well done!”

So when Mark was here for dinner, I began to fantasize about what it would be like for him to live here. I’ve been thinking that this house needs his special touch, and that I might be willing (if he asked nicely) to let him build me a deck here, as well.

Now we wait to see if my brother gets a job offer, here in Washington. There is some talk of another interview elsewhere, but I am setting my face like tapioca against that idea. How would my brother build me a new deck, if he didn’t live here? The airfare would be prohibitively expensive, for one thing.

If I have my druthers, he will get the job here, and I can get him and my nephew over here to build me a deck and fix my back fence, while I play my game on the computer and shout helpful instructions.

Standing on the site of the future Mark G. Edgren commemorative deck.

Standing on the site of the future Mark G. Edgren commemorative deck.

Some might worry that by writing this, I’m tipping my hand a bit, but happily, my brother is not only dutiful and hard-working, but the transition to civilian life may have left him a few rounds short of a full magazine. (He probably can’t read, either). I’ll keep you apprised of my progress in this worthy endeavor.

Project 365, Day 215

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Tree Pruning Frenzy

One of the banes of my existence (a man of my talents and character has many banes, as it turns out) is the trash, recycling and yard waste removal company—Dump Daddy—that serves our neighborhood. Renting a dumpster on wheels is convenient for cleanup projects that are located in various areas of the yard or home. When there are wheels on a dumpster it can be rolled from one location in the yard to another. A small dumpster on wheels can also be positioned inside a home during a small or medium construction project such as remodeling a bathroom or kitchen. Simply call in an order your dumpster and have it delivered the next day. Positioning the dumpster for easy cleanup is so much easier when you pick a dumpster with wheels. However, sometimes the project is too big for a dumpster that can be rolled and moved and it requires a larger dumpster such as a 15 yd.² dumpster or a 20 yd.² dumpster. A dumpster is an American term meaning a garbage bin. This garbage bin is mobile and can therefore be moved around. The main function of a dumpster is storing trash for a short period of time before it is emptied into a garbage truck that comes around maybe two times a week depending on your agreement. These dumpsters are used for dumping many kinds of waste material and also recycling purposes. Apartments, schools, businesses, offices and industrial sites have dumpsters to store waste. Front loading-trucks, which have large prongs are used to empty these dumpsters. They have hydraulics used for lifting the dumpsters and then flip them to empty its contents in the truck’s hopper. Visit site to know more about Dumpster Rental Company in Austin TX.

I am distrustful of monopolies, and the multi-year, exclusive sweetheart contract that our city has made with the company seems to give all the benefit to the removal company, and little to the residents. They charge high rates and are very strict about any overages, once doubling my trash charge because the lid was not flush with the top of the container.

How will junk removal companies help you? Well, whether you are a commercial or residential property owner, hiring a contractor to clean your property can help you in more ways than one. Below are some of the following benefits when you hire a junk removal service to clear out the accumulated junk in your property.

Clearing up all the junk in a residential or commercial property would take a lot of time. Sometimes, it can reach several hours depending on the accumulated junk you have. It is also an exhausting thing to do because you would need to separate, haul and properly dispose of them. In other places, there’s a need to fulfill certain requirements in order to dump particular kinds of junk or trash. On the other hand, hiring a contractor to clear out all the junk will lead to avoiding all these hassles. You can leave everything to them. Here is the #1 Junk Removal in Denver | Demolitions – Rubbish Cleanouts, do visit

Hiring a junk removal service will help you save a lot of time and also effort. This is because the contractors will do all the hard work. Moreover, they can do it in an efficient and swift manner. This is due to the skills and experience they have in hauling junk. Aside from this, you can also save money. You can write this thing off on your tax report as an ongoing renovation. As a matter of fact, many businessmen do this thing in order to save money on their taxes.

There are wastes that can be dangerous to health, like old paint and thinner. If you inhale their fumes while clearing away junk you may end up having certain health complications. In addition to this, accidents may occur if you clear away junk on your own like cuts, burns or others. Hiring expert junk removers on the other hand will take away these risks.

As sometimes happens, Daniel was standing in the wrong place, at the wrong time.

As sometimes happens, Daniel was standing in the wrong place, at the wrong time.

They also have a diabolical tendency to send their trucks early on the days when I forget to put out the cans. There is nothing quite so chilling as the sound of the garbage truck accelerating gleefully past my house, when I know I have a full can, but forgot to put it out. Of course, on the days when I put the cans out on Sunday night, they resentfully send the truck to my neighborhood around noon.

A month or two ago, I decided to shell out for an extra blue yard waste bin, because we seemed to be generating an unusually-large amount of yard waste (clippings, prunings and untreated wood from all the Garden Paving we’ve done over the year). So it was with a sinking feeling this afternoon, that I realized both yard bins were at least half-empty.

Each blue bin costs about $7.50, every time they empty it.

Each blue bin costs about $7.50, every time they empty it.

I hate paying for recycling and yard waste (I believe they should pay me for my valuable recyclables and yard waste, or at least removal should be free) and it is especially infuriating to pay for bins that are left empty.

“Time to prune!” I shouted. Everyone turned out to help as I waved my reciprocating saw over my head with abandon, and tree limbs began to rain down on the driveway. Several unwitting members of the Pancho family (they thought they were coming to watch a movie, and maybe have some ice cream) were sucked into the fun.

I let David play with use my new reciprocating saw to chop up some of the larger branches.

I let David play with use my new reciprocating saw to chop up some of the larger branches.

We managed to fill both our bins, and even contributed to the blue bin of a generous neighbor who was attracted by the noise (or possibly he had dialed 911, and needed details for the dispatcher). Now the mailman can actually approach our mailbox, and Kathy can park in the driveway without being scratched by bushes.

Lawn work is not Sarah's favorite -- she is better at looking beautiful.

Lawn work is not Sarah’s favorite — she is better at looking beautiful.

The full bins are safely out at the curb, so we’re as ready for Monday as we’re likely to be.

Project 365, Day 214

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Sink or Swim

Poor Tim. The Declutter Madness is never ending. Saturday he was trapped. Daniel was working, Rachel was babysitting, Sarah and David were busy with projects. No where to hide (no children to hide behind).

“Hi sweetie. Whatcha doing?” (Has any wife ever asked that question without ulterior motives?)

“Um, working on my class.” (Politely doesn’t say – “Isn’t it obvious? I’m sitting at the computer writing?”)

“Heh heh.” Slightly wicked smile.

“Great, could you help me for a little bit?” (Cause obviously working at the computer = not doing anything and ready to help me with my random projects? Hmmm. Let’s not examine that line of thinking too closely.)

“Sure,” he says with a sweet sigh. (Tim is a great husband. He may or may not be looking into a Declutter Intervention program for me).

Knowing he could change his mind at any time, I hurried (okay, shoved) him into the garage.

“I need space on these shelves. Now, I don’t want to get rid of these Playmobil Bins (the future/eventual grandchildren will want to play with them). Or these six (cough, cough) bins of Christmas things. So what else can we work with? I need to find some place to put a bin of winter clothes and a box of Sarah’s stuffed animals.”

“Stuffed animals?”

“Well, yes. She’s cleared them out of her room, but she’s not ready to get rid of them completely yet.” (Decluttering is sometimes a two phase process. From the bedroom to the garage and eventually Good Will.)

“Okay. What about this bin of Water Things. What in the world is in there?”

Time for a swim?

Time for a swim?

“Perfect! There are only a few things in there and we can unload, I mean, share this cool boat with our good friend who lives on the lake.”

“Exactly,” Tim said. (It sounded sarcastic, but I can’t be certain.) “No doubt she’s been hoping you would give her a big raft. Maybe we can throw in an extra child as well.”

Paddle David, paddle!  You'll make it to shore.

Paddle David, paddle! You’ll make it to shore.

“No, I think we need to keep David.” (Silly guy, thinking I’d give away one of our kids. I do have limits to my decluttering.)

A couple of coolers to the shed. A bin emptied and stored away. Old table cloths added to the Good Will pile. And eventually there was room for Sarah’s stuffed animals on the shelves. All tidy and organized.

“Ah. Isn’t it beautiful?” I breathed as Tim slipped quietly out of the garage. I couldn’t tell, but there might have been some rolling of the eyes. Probably just dust from the shelves. Or, more likely, a tear of appreciation for the masterpiece of order and tidiness the garage is becoming.

Project 365 – Day 213

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