Monday, May 27, 2013

Still a Rocky Business

... or: I've Never Felt This Much Pain Before. Ever.
You might remember, many moons ago, that I broke my (figurative) back trying to clean up our very rockful yard. That was 2010, my first year of living in Utah. I was trying, back then, to just have some grass grow. And three years later, I have not stopped trying. And cleaning out rocks.

Ever since, I have done nothing but dig up more and more rocks over all the yard work sessions I have embraced. Every single year, I try to make stuff grow – it’s dig up the rocks, make room for the plants. And some things make it (to encourage me to plant more!), and some die the next spring. *Sigh*. I have looked recently through some old pictures of my yard, here, at home, and it’s amazing how many bushes and plants just ended up in the trash after a winter. But, to my encouragement and complete amazement, some things have been as old as I have been in this house, too! So, life happens. Apparently. Occasionally.

The soil here sure is tough! As tough as these mountains, for sure, if not more.

With every spring, like with any rite of passage, my husband and I attempt to tame the surroundings of our house. Last fall, we “invested” into having our front yard rockscaped. Yes, you might be asking: “What?! More rocks?!”. Oh, yes, I say: if you can’t domesticate it, let it take over, at least! Yes, we had tons and tons of rocks and gravel and boulders delivered and now our front yard blends in beautifully with the desert mountains around. And this shrunk our planting playground, to something that we deemed “manageable” for us. 

Some of the "supplies" for this year's extravaganza ...
As much as I love our rocky front yard, though, the Southerner and Carpathian in me demanded some green. So, we decided to grow stuff in the back yard, instead. We left the back grassy (or … weedy) and we installed some landscape and our usual veggie garden, ourselves. 

Glimpses of our front yard rockscape

I thanked God for giving us a not so hot May this year, because I am no longer cut for digging up boulders in 100F weather! For the past three weeks or so, we have been seeding, watering, trimming, mowing, installing mulch and edging, planting trees, bushes, flowers, a veggie garden, and, of course, digging up more junk in the process.

It must be that I am getting old and I am sadly out of shape, because I don’t remember having hurt this much from physical labor ever in my whole life! It’s an overwhelming and all encompassing type of pain: all muscles hurt (and the ones I just discovered I had!), all joints, my palms and the soles of my feet, even my nails and my toe nails hurt! It takes my whole body to put up a fight against what I have to dig out in order to have room to put something else in its stead. And this body is not used to this kind of fightin’, let me tell you! I think I have one very short hair on my head, that's getting ready to fall out that might not be hurting. But that's it

Another downside of living where we are is that, unlike in a normal place in the world, here, contractors don’t call you back! For one reason or another, the only three people that did call us back were the guys who installed our fence, the ones with the rockscaping, and the little man who got rid of our gophers, God bless him and his whole family forever!

Other than that, we tried to call a grass company, and a tree company and a landscape maintenance company, and …nothing … No calls back, no shows. So, we’re on our own if we don’t want to live in a jungle and if we want to eat some tomatoes this summer or smell some roses.

Don’t get me wrong: I love doing this stuff, but a bit of help with at least cleaning up the soil and prepping it, aerating it, or something, would have been appreciated! Not to mention a little help in building a porch, as well. Well, that "help" is us. And I am pretty darn proud of what we accomplished on our own, especially since we’re mostly indoor, geeky people rather than outdoor, farming type of people! Our back yard is still noisy (can’t do anything about the road right behind it!), but it’s peaceful to look at. It’s (finally!) green and natural and “organized”.

And as much as both Aa. and I are saying that  we’re “really done” this year, I still see room for growth in it. We might have won the battle against desert and emptiness, but we are still to win the one against the blazing sun! We are still patiently waiting for the trees and bushes to grow so we can get some shade with our burgers.

As for filling in the room for growth, hopefully, another family will do that. Other than the maintenance that I am sure will follow, and replacing some of the things that will die, I really do want to be done, too. At least for a little while, till all the sores in my feet and hands are healed.

Here are some shots of what we have managed to accomplish, with very little help, in the past three years. To us, it seems like we just conquered The Everest!

Enjoy, and come visit, sometimes.


Blooms in the back yard

 Three years now: a lilac tree and a Japanese maple were some of the first things we planted in the back yard

The very first thing we ever planted around the house was this clematis plant, to the right of the front door - it's been the happiest thing yet! 

Various angles of the back yard, all done!

 Fresh roses in the front yard

 The veggie garden

Strawberries (2 years), raspberry (1 year) and grapes (3 years)

Visitors: first time I ever saw an oriole - so beautiful! 

Blast from the past: this is what we started with!

 Night - night! 

Tuesday, May 07, 2013

An (Undramatic) Dream Came True

“Hey man, I'm alive
I'm taking each day and night at a time
I'm feeling like a Monday but someday I'll be Saturday night... “

I’ll give you one guess at who said that! One guess, because I know that no matter your age, social class, country, or amount of rocks you’ve been living under, you know that those lyrics are belched out by Jon Bon Jovi!

I can’t even remember the very first time I knew about Bon Jovi. It could have been in my middle school years (that’s around 1985’ish), but because that was the tail end of Communism and the worst years ever under that regime, I doubt I would have heard of them underneath that iron curtain.

So, it must have been high school – most likely after 1989 … But that seems too late!

Needless to say, I feel like I was born and was raised on their music, much like I was on that of The Beatles’ and Elvis’s. I can recognize Jon’s voice on the radio any time, even if it’s a song that I have never heard before – if such a thing is still possible!

They’ve been such a mainstay in my life, that I never even thought about actually wanting so badly to see them live. I felt like, in a way, they’re everywhere. How much closer to them can a live performance get me?!  

I remember I listened to them on my 10th grade graduation retreat, on my summer breaks in the Romanian mountains, in my very hot flat, during college summer nights, at mom’s home. I remember reading about what a great big deal was when he chopped off his hair. I remember him on Ally McBeal! To me, they’re as American as Bruce Springsteen, and as lovable and popular as a white zin amongst the wines or a golden lab amongst the dogs – they just go with everything and lick everyone’s hand! There is something of the “boy next door” familiarity about these kids, I tell you this much. A timeless, ageless flair.

I finally got the chance to be under the same roof as them about 3 weeks ago, in Salt Lake City. And what do you know?! I was not truly, deeply moved! It was like seeing old friends. It was probably the only live show I have ever been to where I felt like I knew every song – there was an eerie intimacy to it. What I knew about them (except for Sambora who was missing that night, replaced by a new Canadian guitarist, apparently) was all there. Same voice, same crazy running up and down the stage, same solos, same focus on delivering plain, good, clean music. Same black leather vest.

There was nothing spectacular, out of the world shocking (like Aerosmith showing up an hour late to the show, with Steve and Joe Perry screaming at each other in a spat) or Gene Simmons stuffing his tongue down some chick’s throat at a KISS show; or Melissa Etheridge demanding a Persian rug be on stage before she could start playing, during a downpour in Deer Valley! It was just plain, good, synchronized, clean music. Same ol’ – same ol’. And flawless! There is lots to be said for exactness and non-drama in this crazy rock-n-roll business, for sure. Except, of course, for the fact, that their famous front guitarist didn’t show. I guess that’s the bit of the chance in this business.

I have many Bon Jovi favorite songs. When I plug them into my car cd player, I sing along with every tune, all the way to work. But I lived for hearing Bed of Roses live. It played at my wedding and it’s just the most peaceful rock ballad I know. And I would not be opposed to playing it at my funeral, too, if someone will remember this.

And that night , for this song alone, will stay in my memory as one where a dream came true – because he, the man from Jersey, the un-dramatic, “clean” rocker did that for me. With one song! So, I guess, I was moved, after all. Moved that not only did I hear my favorite song one more time, but that he played it live. For me. And I got a live recording of it. All mine.   

Enjoy – funny interlude and all: