So he’s been in a funk most of February. The weather? Too cold to do anything outside, too cold for golf. His knee? Doesn’t work properly after the replacement replacement. Doc says there’s just a lot of scar tissue. Well, whose fault is that? Taxes? Yes. Larry’s really brilliant in a lot of ways, but bookkeeping isn’t one of them. His computer loses things, or whatever he needs is in Portland, or he never got it anyway.

Right. But now it’s March. It’s still cold, but the sun is shining. A guy can always bake bread!

It’s just as good as it looks. Side bar: Grammar note. I believe I’m supposed to say “it’s just so good as it looks.” But I’m a newly-arrived fan of John McWhorter, linguist at the NYT, and love the way he writes about language. (Well, about everything.) Remember when I was being proud of myself for using a semicolon? He quoted someone — I forget whom — saying people just use semicolons to demonstrate that they went to college. I suspect he might say the same thing about the usage above.

Okay, back to Larry. Don Quixote battling the voles, moles, deer, and, I have to admit, sometimes the chickens, threatening his serenity in our wild enclave. We have an orchard (he has an orchard?) as well as a vegetable garden. Both now fenced against the deer. No one can do anything about the voles and moles, but the chickens?

In the beginning, we both worked to surround the fruit trees with first, a newspaper mulch. Idea gleaned from the Huntington Garden in Pasadena, courtesy of Margie Lindbeck. This didn’t work here in rainy Corvallis, and we moved on to chicken wire under each tree. Lots of work! Staples, shears, sharp points? This because, by then, we had actual chickens, who love nothing more than to dig in the exposed dirt under each tree. Thereby exposing the tree’s roots.

Of course, weeds would grow through the wire, so we added a layer of chips (gleaned from the fallen oak trees on the property) atop the wire. Looked nice. For a year or two. But the chickens kicked the chips off the wire into the surrounding grass, making mowing difficult. The weeds grew through the wire and chips anyway.

Next, we had Mitch and Chance build a run along the orchard’s west border, covered with wire to keep the hawks out, and felt the the birds had adequate, safe, territory and didn’t need to be in the orchard at all. Then we had a fiery summer, and Rhody, Maddie, and Grace had no shade under which to shelter from the heat. In the main orchard we found them huddled behind two large planting boxes, the dirt and moisture from the watering system providing them shade and refrigeration. We tried putting the patio umbrella up in their run to shade them. Hahaha. No, they had to be allowed into the orchard. Where they resumed kicking and digging under the trees.

Now our story is up to today, and Larry’s search for a meaningful project. What if we dug up the wire and used landscape fabric, topped with landscape size rock as handsome, sturdy, chicken-proof mulch under the trees? Good idea! Here’s what that looks like:

And finally:

We haven’t yet turned the chickens loose to see what kind of damage they may be able to do. So what’s the point of all this work, anyway? You see the smile on Larry’s face? Sure, he could be lifting weights in a gym someplace but I think this has been more fun. You can ask him.

What have I been doing all this time? Besides cooking, laundry and so on you mean? Good question. With all that left-over yarn from Alli’s sweater, I thought I would just knit myself something. Didn’t have a pattern, but I could piggy-back on what I learned from Alli’s. Um. What I have, after many hours of work (okay, I listened to books from Libby and Audible) — what I have is a great overgrown, lumpish potato sack. Warm, yes. But the sleeves are too narrow and besides, it’s kind of all-over ugly. I canvassed my sisters, and they were thoughtful, supportive. If I love knitting, I should tear it up and make it right. I said I tell them what I decide next Sunday at our regularly scheduled phone visit.

Got the sweater out of the Good Will bag and thought about unpicking all those end pieces I’d sewn into the body with a darning needle. Nope. I just couldn’t. I’ve now put the thing back into the Good Will, and turned it in. It’s OVER.

Next? I hand-picked all the fallen blossoms from the camellia by the front door, and the daffodils are blooming. We both feel better!

The sky is beautiful right now, dinner is smelling pretty good, Larry is chilling with a beer, laughing at something on his email feed. I can’t discuss world affairs on this blog, but I will say I’m mindful of our good fortune. See you next time!