Monday, October 14, 2013

I Just Want to Cry

My garden is so depressing right now, and not just because it's fall, and the gardening season is pretty much over. Yes, everything looks tired and spent, but that's not what's making me sad. It's a number  of small, disheartening things.

I hurt my back a few weeks ago digging and transplanting some shrubs, and haven't been able to get down on my knees to weed or pull out old annuals or cut back finished perennials since then. It's painful just to be upright, sitting and walking. I've had a bad back for decades actually, ever since I ruptured two disks lifting something heavy. But this is the first time in quite a while that I've been in this much pain. Despite the pain I did manage to pull out my diseased and ugly tomato and squash plants. And I planted my garlic. But I haven't done much else. I had so much I wanted to get done this fall, lots of plants that need to get in the ground. Maybe they'll survive the winter in their pots, and I can plant them next spring. Now would have been ideal though, so they could get watered in by the fall and winter rain.

I also had a platoon of plumbers out in my front yard this past week, digging up and relaying our sewer pipe, which got plugged a week ago this past Saturday, and flooded our downstairs bathroom and hallway. When the plumber came out to snake it, he also discovered that not only was it plugged, but about 30 feet of it was "bellied," which means it wasn't draining correctly into the main in the street. A considerable chunk of change later, we now have a working poo pipe, but I also have a big expanse of bare soil in the middle of the front lawn (not that I care about that), as well as somewhat trampled and messed up front beds (which I do care about).

Three guys digging a big hole

Colorful hieroglyphics in the street

A bunch of guys standing around looking into a big hole while one guy on a backhoe digs up the street

All patched up


Everything eventually got put back, more or less, but not as neatly as I would have liked. It was a stressful week.

I now have some extra rocks that I didn't have before, as well as painted rocks with arrows pointing every which way

This corner of my dry creek that I worked so hard on last fall has been obliterated.

I should consider myself lucky they put the concrete pavers back

Painted arrow says "This way to the mess"


Dislodged and missing rocks -- I swear, workmen are worse than moles and deer (and maybe raccoons) for messing things up.



Poor trampled plants -- they'll probably survive, but right now they look pretty pitiful

I should show some mercy to this poor Baptisia and just cut it back all the way to the ground, it'll probably come back ok next season.

They're all small things, but still. At least we're doing the work on our front garden in the right order -- dig it up for plumbing, and then build new beds. I wouldn't want to have planted it all up, and then have to dig it all up again to solve plumbing problems.

29 comments:

  1. Oh dear Alison you do sound fed up. I am sure your plants will revive, they dont look that bad to be honest and the paint will fade if not wash away. I suffer with a bad back and see a chriopractor which has made a huge difference. Cheer up :)

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  2. Not being able to garden, where so much mental healing takes place, only makes things worse...I am so sorry. I see a neuromuscular massage therapist for my back issues, but, it still takes time and no gardening to get better. Hoping you can get out there soon. xogail

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  3. I'm so sorry you're hurting. I feel much like you about the fall uglies in the garden--it's depressing enough without adding in sloppy workers and a sore back. I hope you feel better quickly. Thinking of you.

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  4. I know how things can get to you after a while, especially when you're in so much pain. When you can't be in control of things, especially your own garden, that is definitely frustrating!! I see a pain management specialist every 2 weeks and it's really been helping a lot. It took a while to notice a difference but it's been worth it. Rest a bit and if that doesn't help, get thee to a doctor, my dear ;)

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  5. I feel for you, Alison, re the back and even more re the front yard destruction. I've been through both. I hope you can get some help with the back and with the planting, too.

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  6. Oh dear Alison, sorry to hear about your back pain and the pain you guys have to go through in sorting out the pipes. Hoping things will start to ease now and you'll be comfy and pain free soon.

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  7. Oh Alison, I am SO sorry to hear about all of this! To have your back hurting and then have your beautiful yard torn up is just far too much, especially in the fall of the year when things are rather depressing anyway.

    And they PAINTED on your rocks, oh, this is the last straw. Rocks are NOT to be painted, lol. I know it will wash off eventually, but we've had that happen with work crews too, and it makes me crazy. 'Please do not paint the rocks,' I say, and they still do it anyway.

    I think we are having almost the same experiences, my thyroid levels are still messed up so I feel awful. I don't have anything done in the garden since August, have oodles of bulbs to plant and haven't done a thing to clean up the beds yet. Weeds, I've never seen so many! And then on Friday my mother's driveway was suddenly flooded, the water line in the ground six feet down broke and she had a mess. We're still working on fixing up the damage.

    I'm sending hugs to you, Alison. I hope you feel better every day.

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  8. Oh dear Alison that is a mess. You and your garden need time. Take care of yourself. Sending very gentle hugs your way.

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  9. Yikes! When it rains it pours! Sorry about your back and the digging up of your front yard! Your trampled plants will recover with no problem, the stream bed can be redone, but you need to give yourself time to recover! I have this Friday off and could come over and plant some things for you if that would help. In the meantime, I'm sending calming Xanax thoughts your way! If you need a chiropractor recommendation, I love mine!

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  10. Alison, Your garden will survive being a little, um, disarranged. Actually, from here, it still looks pretty good. The most important casualty is you – take care of yourself, try to enjoy your enforced break (pain-free soon, I hope) and don't let stress add to your discomfort.

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  11. Your title certainly says it all. I know that feeling and once things start piling on its hard to shake it. I've experienced the painted rocks situation too, but "my" paint was bright yellow...I like your white version better (less like a punch in the face). As for your back there's no rushing that, take care of yourself! Hopefully this weeks forecast will act as a bit of a mood lifter?

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  12. Everything is worse when you're in pain. Your front yard doesn't look all that terrible to me but I totally understand your frustration. I'm so sorry about your back. I hope it heals quickly and maybe the chilly weather will hold off so you can get your babies planted. Take care.

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  13. Hopefully your back will get better soon. All that messy work can wait until spring anyway! Sorry to hear about your sewer mess - that's the worst and added unneeded stress I'm sure.

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  14. Oh, I feel for you! I hate workmen, I hate how little they care for the vision you've created, and I hate when your body can't do all the things your brain wants it to. Do you need a digging party? We could bring you treats and put plants in the ground while you direct from a lounger. It'll be like your own little fiefdom but with muscle relaxers!

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  15. I can identify with back issues. Do you have a 'grabber'? Use it to pick up those larger painted rocks and turn them over so the arrow isn't prominent.

    Leave the Baptisia alone; frost will take it out soon. It will come back. Half of my big plant was broken when He-Who-Mows and Cuts Limbs over a Flower Bed.... I know it will be back.

    Unbelievable after seeing the first photo how little damage they actually did. Grass will grow, paint will fade, someone can pour some stones in that corner and next spring will be better. What you are seeing is the senesence of Autumn heaped on top of having your garden violated.

    Walk, or lie down. Sitting is the worst for a bad back. Take advantage of Heather and Company, sounds wonderful to have such friends.

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  16. Ouch! It would hurt me too to see that mess in front of the house. Although, the final patch doesn't look so bad. Take care and, if you need help with the planting, I can come over. I planted almost all my potted plants. Several pots went to the raised bed - I covered the pots with soil and hope that the plants will survive.

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  17. I see a little looking on the bright side at the end of your post and that is perhaps the best medicine of all. I like Heather's suggestion...the Portland contingent is full of helping hands and willing hearts.

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  18. How frustrating. I remember a winter when my then-partner Robert and I had to dig a trench right through our garden (the previous garden in Ilwaco) 150 street to the street. It filled up with water as we dug it. The sewer pipe had backed up and it turned out it was going right under a huge spruce, which had been small when the sewer line was installed, and it had been crushed by roots. Fortunately, Robert had been a plumber so we were able to do the work ourselves and laid a new line right down a shrub border at the side of the garden (probably illegally without a permit, but we did not even think of that!) It was over ten years ago...maybe fifteen...The worst thing was when we were loading some pipes into our van and the hardware store guy helped shut the back door of the van, thus pushing the pipes right through our windshield! (We were really pretty poor then, too.) Tha saving grace of the whole thing was that I did not have a bad back so was ABLE to do the work; had my back go out once during potato digging time and I well remember the frustration.

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  19. Tears and frustration are understandable, Alison, but give your back the time and attention it needs to recover. Don't let the mess left by the plumbers be the only part of your garden you see - appreciate what's still good about it. (I expect there's plenty, like your wonderful stream!) Use your unscheduled down time to assess and dream next steps for your garden - messes, even the most awful, can hide new beginnings and there will be time to get things in order when your back is up to the task. In the interim, accept the help your local friends offer until you can get your hands back in the dirt!

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  20. UGH...I know your pain...both the back and the workmen! I waited and waited for the yellow paint they left behind years ago to fade...it never does. I finally just turned those rocks over and buried the irrigation tubing as deeply as possible! I wish I'd known you were laid-up...I had the last part of the week off last week...I would have gladly come up and planted and moved things for you!

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  21. Oh, you poor dear! I know, though luckily not from disc damage, about back pain and that impotent frustration of not being able to do anything you want. In looking on the bright side, at least the sewer didn't go right through a bed, at least it's not Spring, when you'd be even more frustrated, and at least your back WILL heal.

    Please laugh with me at that sign on your front lawn that said "SIDEWALK CLOSED": didn't they notice you don't have a sidewalk there?

    Sending healing thoughts your way. And I'm in with the other Portlanders on the gardening rescue party!

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  22. I'm sorry to hear about your back, Alison. I had to go to physical therapy this winter for lower back pain. I did my exercises faithfully until summer got here. I'm thinking I should get back to doing them. A number of years ago, our neighbors across the street had to have their water main replaced, and they had to dig about the same amount of space as yours in our yard. It was OK with me, though, because I got more space to garden out of it. Are you going to make your planting area larger? I supposed it's hard to make decisions like that when you are in pain, though. I hope you heal soon.

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  23. Well, shit. That's messed up. I hope that your back heals quickly.

    Heather's idea is spot on. Let's have a garden work party!

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  24. Both construction (destruction) and being laid up are so frustrating. However, looking at the pictures of your garden from this past summer, it looked great!!

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  25. so sorry about your back. I know how frustrating that can be to be laid up and not able to get out and do the things that need doing.

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  26. Oh how I can relate to the difficulties you are experiencing... especially when it comes to back issues. I have been there many times and may I say there is always another day to look forward to... you will get past this and so often when illness strikes, we gardeners tend to obsess over what, as you suggest, are fairly small issues... your garden may not be up to your expectations just now, but to the eye of those who aren't as familiar with it, it does indeed look very good! Larry

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  27. Mess? The worst part is the $$ on the piping. Now, it's a new planting opportunity, to expand on some things...and far from too cold to garden, I always say...

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  28. You have been through the wringer! I go insane when guys have dig up and stomp around my garden. And a bad back can be such misery. But I'm sure both you and your garden will recover. And for those painted stones, just turn them upside down whey you are able!

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  29. I imagined worse when I first read about the plumbing problem and garden disruption. The grass s easy to fix, and it's the right time of year to do it. As to the rest, only you know those rocks are out of place. The worst of it is your back won't let you fix it.

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