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Rainy day blues? It depends upon how you look at it

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POSTED October 15, 2009 1:46 a.m.
Listening to the rain dancing on the roof while you’re snuggled up in bed is one of life’s little pleasures.

It is even better if there is no attic between you and the serenade of rain drops to dampen nature’s wet concerto. The instrument Mother Nature played Tuesday was the modest pitch of the California flat-top roof on my house that’s complete with open beams beneath. It is enough to protect me from the elements but not enough to silence the outdoors.

Tuesday reminded me why I fell in love with the home 19 months ago when Carol Bragan – my real estate agent - first opened the door.

I’ve never been into the cookie cutter homes that started popping up in the 1960s.

 The 995 square feet I have is more than ample space thanks to the open floor plan of the living areas and the smaller bedrooms. I was told others had looked at the house before me but turned up their noses when they saw the size of the bedrooms and the fact there is only one bathroom and no dishwasher. One bathroom obviously works fine for one person although my sister still can’t understand how I get by with just one. I guess we just get used to what we have although I do recall we had one bathroom when we lived in Roseville and there were six of us in our family and everything worked out fine.

As for bedrooms, they should be cozy and not mini dance halls.

I spent some time Tuesday soaking in the place I call home.

I started by looking at my version of a big screen – the 6-foot high by 12-foot living room window that brings each new day inside filtered by a walnut tree that is actually older than I am.

Watching the wind whip branches back and forth while leaves flutter is a perfect backdrop to study rain drops pelting the leaves of everything from dogwoods to camellias.

The front yard with 105 trees and shrubs is a work in progress.  It is far from complete or tidy as it has been less than nine months since I dug up all the grass, tore up sidewalk, and ripped out the formal flower beds prompting the neighbors to think I must have gone off the deep end. Still, I can vision what my first venture in shade gardening will look like five years down the road.

That’s not glossing over the missteps. Failure to kick up the watering that I do by hand when it got hot in a hurry in late May took its toll especially since I had erroneously dismissed the usefulness of a grapefruit tree that I removed in terms of how it provided a large chunk of the shade. Still, I admit it was fun cutting down the tree, taking out the stump, and digging up the roots. Maybe the neighbors are right after all. One would have to be crazy to do that much work.

Gardens can be forgiving. Time is healing my mistakes as virtually all of the impacted shrubs have bounced back with healthy new green growth.

I was hesitant about looking out the kitchen window at the back yard. I know all too well how heavy rain and wind can severely damage young trees that aren’t well-established. Among them in my back yard are a sycamore, California pepper, four cyrpe myrtles, a western red bud, and a magnolia that is either a Charlie Brown version or a prime candidate for a ride in the green Toter.

Everything was still intact save the top of one of the crype myrtles.

Then there was the tree I love to hate – a massive crabapple tree.

I’d love to cut it down and start from scratch but I really can’t. When I had the new roof put on I opted to have the patio cover torn down and hauled away. The crabapple provides ample shade to cover much of the patio. And although the fruit it drops is messy, it is a virtual buffet for dozens upon dozens of birds each day who feast on the fruit and then drink and bathe from Cruella and DeVille’s water bowls. It has had a nice calming after on the brother-sister Dalmatian team that owns my backyard as well as my heart. The birds have become so numerous and common place that  the dogs no longer go nuts on walks wanting to turn their combined 120 pounds of nervous energy into a pair of four-legged homing devices to go after anything that flaps its wings.

There is a lot of work to do in the back yard including two tree stumps to take out, a pile of busted concrete, and a fairly good size hill of dirt from the front yard (where do you think the front lawn went), more concrete to take out, and the question of what to do with the grass that was mostly dead when I moved in.

There’s no rush, though. It’ll get done.
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