I’ve been gone quite a while… again. As usual, when I’ve been gone a while, it’s even harder to come back. I feel like I have to explain why I’ve been gone and what I’ve been done which is intimidating in itself, so I put off my return even further. Then, I find something I want to write about, but I can’t because I haven’t written my “I’m back” post yet. I’m tired of that cycle, so here goes. I’m back!

My English Garden

As you know, I bought a wonderful house a few years ago. The previous owner planted what she called an English Garden. If you’ve ever seen one, an English Garden is quite lovely. However, in America, the term English Garden has come to refer to an unkempt area where a person has thrown about seeds and bulbs completely at random and claims the result is exactly what they intended.

When they moved out, the flipper couldn’t be troubled to actually care for the area and instead simply mowed it all down and planted rolls of turf on top. The newly laid lawn looked wonderful… for a while. Then, one plant after another began showing its head through the grass. For a while I dealt with them as they appeared.

Digging it Up

When it occurred to me what was happening, I decided that it was time to take more direct action. This was the spring before last. I grabbed a shovel and dug up one half of the front yard. The turf was on a roll 2″ thick. I had to go another 2-3″ down to get to the bulbs. This was more work than my poor body was used to. But I finished, digging up many hundreds of bulbs in the process.

I hadn’t considered how I would dispose of the dirt. Without a truck, options were limited. Yard debris’ slogan is “if it doesn’t grow, it doesn’t go”. I did it anyway, but the volume and weight would have taken years. I finally rented a large dumpster. It was a pain, but a few weeks later, and over $500 in rental fees, the dirt was gone (from half the yard).

I promptly put down landscaping cloth, planted a tree and some rhodies, put up a fence and spread bark dust around the edges. I intended to build a path in the center, to and around the tree, so no bark dust there for now.

This spring, weeds had come up with a vengeance THROUGH the landscaping cloth. And I still had to deal with the other half of the yard. I wasn’t going to deal with more digging and disposal. I called a handyman I had used a few months earlier. He said he could dig up the second half of the yard and haul away all the dirt for $200. I could have hugged him. He showed up a couple of days later and did it all in one go.

Always Wear a Mask

The area he dug up now had short grass everywhere, while the other side was covered with tall weeds. Starting with the easier of the two, I grabbed a weed wacker and cut down the grass. Then I mixed up some crossbow and sprayed the hell out of the area. Guys don’t read directions or wear safety gear, so naturally I wasn’t wearing a mask or gloves. I bought 100 feet of 4-mil plastic and clips which I intended to use to cover the area the next day.

Sadly, that night I felt like hell and had trouble breathing. I spent the next morning in the ER, followed by a week in the ICU recovering from Pneumonia. I actually had something else as well. I was put into a negative pressure room to prevent transmission, which meant I had a private room. Yay! When I was discharged, my favorite nurse (a wonderful Russian woman whose name I don’t remember) told me that from the way I looked when I first showed up, she didn’t expect me to leave on my feet (if you know what I mean). That was a sobering moment. Doctors told me that the pneumonia was almost certainly related to using crossbow without a mask. To make matters worse, the pneumonia trashed my kidneys. I was already suffering from advanced kidney disease, but my creatinine went from 2.0 to around 4.5 (9% kidney function at its worst). I’m resisting starting dialysis, but it is almost certainly in my future.

I thought a couple of times that I was getting better, but it was wishful thinking. After six months in bed, I’m finally feeling somewhat functional. If it wasn’t for my cat Jasmin, I seriously doubt I would have made it this far. Her love and affection mean so much to me. I couldn’t go on without her.

More Yardwork

Very, very slowly, I worked on the yard. With my mom’s help, we took up the weeds, spread the 4-mil plastic, spiked in the brick holders and placed the bricks and sand that will surround the walkway. I have a form that we will pour concrete in next spring to create a pathway. I put in a fence on the second half of the yard to match the first half. Most painful of all, I moved a 5′ diameter Japanese maple. It took almost 3 weeks of digging and resting and cussing and worrying it out of its hole before I could move it safely. But it looks wonderful in its new home.

The Decline of the Blogging Community

I’ve never done much with Facebook. For me, it has been mainly a way to keep track of family. I did join G+ about a year ago. That’s where I get most of my d&d info, other than from blogs. At some point, there has been a shift. Everyone is relying on G+ and they have stopped using blogs, to the point that so many blogs have gone dark. It’s a sad time. I love the blogging community, and don’t want to see it replaced with the brief sound bites that make up most of what’s on G+.

Fortunately, it doesn’t look like that’s going to happen. For various reasons, G+ is a sinking ship that will be gone forever within a few months. I can’t say that I will particularly miss it, although I don’t hold the hate for it that many seem to. I’m hopeful that with its demise, blogs will recover and the entire community will be revitalized. Many people are searching for a replacement, but even the front-runners don’t really look appealing to me. After what G+ did to the blogging community, I really hope that none of the G+ alternatives catch on.

Reading

I have done a great deal of reading the past month or so. Mostly of it was books and modules from various editions. Naturally, this has had me thinking a lot about d&d. So much so that I have been working a lot on my own RPG. In fact, a great deal of the PHB is ready and the framework for the DMG and MM are laid out as well. Of course, when I say ready, I actually mean ready for a final rewrite prior to an alpha test. But it is moving along.

Blogging

So many ideas tickled my brain when I wasn’t ready to write anything. I hope those ideas will come back around now that I am ready for them.