Oh, hi, is this thing still on?
Although I wouldn't say the tour for The Tao of Martha killed me, I'm not entirely sure it made me stronger, as evidenced by last week's massive sinus and ear infection. (Still not entirely recovered from that, BTW.) (Also, apologies to everyone I insisted "feel my glands" at the City Winery event. In retrospect, perhaps I could have simply mentioned I was under the weather, instead of offering up physical evidence.)
Regardless, hello, and thank you for coming out while I was on the road! As always, I love meeting you, even though the nine million flights I had to take to get there left me with lymph nodes the size of golf balls. (Which so many of you gamely palpitated at my urging. Again, I'm sorry. Sometimes I need an internal editor to screen my words I say before I say them.)
Anyway, while I was on the road, many of you wanted to know if I was still living my life via Martha's dictates. I'm delighted to tell you that (much like a viral infection) I haven't entirely been able to shake her. Case in point, my Independence Day party was lovely, well-orchestrated, and almost 100% less white trash than last year.
Unfortunately, I was largely too busy enjoying the day to photograph it.
So, instead I'd like to offer the following before and after shots to demonstrate my devotion to said Tao.
Here is Swampsylvania, AKA the area just off the kitchen, back in April:
Yes, it gives me The Sads, too.
Fletch wanted to hack down all the trees, but I thought that was a mistake. When the area would fill in during the summer, it was dense and lush, affording a nice bit of privacy from the house next door. I didn't want to lose all the greenery.
Our goal here was twofold - one, to better manage drainage, and two, to make the area visually appealing... or at least not so depressing that we wanted to take a butter knife to a vein while eating breakfast.
While I was away, Fletch regraded the cover to the catch basin and chainsawed the bejesus out of most of the area. Then he covered it all with about ten cubic yards of mulch. However, at no point did the words "landscaping fabric" come into the equation, so now we're buying Roundup by the gallon.
As for my contribution, I picked out the furniture (which Fletch built), arranged the flowers, and negotiated for the preservation of at least a few of the trees.
What I'm going to show you next is Phase One. Phase Two includes putting down landscaping fabric, planting more trees, removing stumps, and a building gardening shed.
But in terms of making breakfast less depressing, I'd say we nailed it:
The area looks... intentional now, doesn't it? The entrance to the backyard is a bit to the left and now when outdoor party guests arrive, the whole area communicates "Welcome!" as opposed to the "Clearly we've given up" vibe from before.
The big tree in the middle is actually buckthorn and will have to go eventually, but for now, it stays. The shed will sit where the chairs on the right are and the willows will take the place of the buckthorn. We'll likely add a few evergreens to break up all the winter gray, too. We both thought a Skymall six foot tall Bigfoot statute would be hilarious but, A) they're $2500 and B) there is no B because they're $2500. Once the trees are in place, we'll plant Boston Ivy to climb the fence.
Please note my hopefully little bird feeder in the tree. I thought feeding the birds would enhance the whole outdoor experience, what with their songs and the flashes of their colorful plumage. I delighted at the thought of bird-watching while at the table and debated on whether or not to buy a book on field identification so I could impress guests with all my knowledge.
As it turns out, I've provided a sumptuous bird buffet... for all the hawks who've set up camp in the backyard.
Did not see that coming.
However, it wouldn't be The Tao of Jen without a few weeds and egregious avian assassination, so there you have it.