Tuesday, May. 23, 2006
Dear Diary:

If I was to summarize the daughter and the spousal unit's attitude to Hostapalooza, I would do it in nine little words:

That which does not kill me makes me stronger.

For me, however, the only thing that can truly do justice to my feelings about Hostapalooza is music. Altogether now, to the tune of Havah Nagilah:

Why must it end?

Hostapalooza officially ended a few days when I dug up, divided and transplanted the very last hosta plant I could dig up, divide and transplant.

The original Hostapalooza project, which was meant only to be the planting of the new hill in front of the house, um, er, ah morphed into something a tad more ambitious. How much more ambitious? Well, that's something of a sore point.

See, every spring, as the snows start to wane and spring is in the air, the spousal unit sits me down and we have The Little Talk. The Little Talk involves the spousal unit gently pointing out that the landscaping around our house is approaching acreage, that neither of us is getting any younger, that we certainly won't be able to afford to pay someone to maintain it when we hit retirement age so maybe it would be a good idea to scale back a bit.

This year The Little Talk hit home particularly hard because pneumonia gave me a very serious beatdown. Plus I turned 55 yesterday. Those years that end in zeros and fives are years for taking stock. So at the end of The Little Talk I promised him that Hostapalooza would be all that I would attempt and that I would find ways to scale back some other stuff.

Looking back at this from the vantage of what has since happened, I want to stress that I wasn't lying. I really and truly believed and meant every word I said. How pitiful is it that at 55 I still don't understand myself well enough to make silly promises I can't possibly keep?

My daughter.Ah, but I digress. Back to Hostapalooza.

The window to move the species of hosta I wanted for the new, very steep, very high hill in front of my home was only about a week to ten days. I was pretty shaky from the pneumonia, so the daughter booked some time off work to make sure the project would be completed.

(The woman in this picture is my daughter. No, her arm is not broken, she is just extremely goofy. Sadly, some parts of your genetic heritage you simply cannot overcome.)

The enormous sheets of plastic we used to keep water from running down the new hill all last fall and winter so the ground would have a chance to stabilize were peeled off. The enormity of the project hit me when I saw that huge, endless swath of black earth.

The Rocky Horror Picture Show.The way we did it for the first two days was that the spousal unit went up on the ladder first and dug enough rock out of the new hill to construct a fort.

When he had the soil ready for planting, the daughter went out to the nursery beds I set up a few years ago and dug up the hostalettes. There were three colours, so she had a unique colour in each of three pails.

Then I went up the ladder with pails in tow and planted the hostas in a pattern. Doing it from the ladder meant that I could only plant narrow swaths, so I marked my pattern out with stakes as I was going. Because hostas transplant best when they are only nubs with no leaves visible, I had to imagine what my patterns would look like because I had no leaves to give me feedback.

For the first day it was all I could do to go up and down the ladder without fainting. I didn't tell either the daughter or spousal unit how dizzy I felt at times because I was fricking determined that I would realize this dream project, even if it killed me.

Yes, I consider hosta worth dying for. Shut up. I am not a freak.

With the spousal unit preparing the soil, the daughter keeping me constantly in hosta, we managed to get about half the hill done in just two days. I felt a lot better for day two. Then we got a weather forecast of rain for the next five days, a forecast which threw the spousal unit and me into the sort of tizzy better imagined than experienced.

Back in the winter when we were going over the possible problems with this project, the spousal unit and I both agreed that heavy rains were our biggest threat. Our steep bank of new earth is about 15 feet high and about 80 feet long�it would collapse into an enormous mud slide if it wasn't protected.

The simplest and cheapest way to protect it would be straw. I couldn't use hay because hay is a mix of grass and weeds, and said grass and weeds would sew themselves into my new bank, becoming perennial pests. Straw is the chaff from a crop that is an annual, something such as oats, wheat or barley. If it self-sows into my bed, it will be killed by the first frost we get. Straw is hard to find locally because the sorts of crops that produce straw aren't commonly grown around here.

What straw there is in this area is most common in the fall. By the time spring comes many farms have gone through their straw, used it up as bedding for animals or as protection for plants.

So ten minutes before the rain was due to come in, about six months after we should have begun project Obtain Straw, the spousal unit and I began to try to track down straw. Oh, we could have got some last fall so we could have been, you know, prepared for rain, but honestly, where is the fun in that?

I won't bore you (well, any more than I have bored you) with the details, but we managed to find straw. We got the straw fluffed out from its bales and we shook it over the baby hosta spikes about ten minutes before it started to rain. It rained. It rained more. It rained even more. The straw broke the force of the rain and the bank held. But while it was raining we couldn't plant. The daughter had to head back to work.

Hosta, oh but I got yer hosta.It took me seven days to plant the other half of the project, something that she and I had done together in just two days. Each day I got a little stronger. Being outside, going up and down the ladder endlessly, digging up pail after pail of baby hosta was the very best therapy possible.

By the end of it I was my old self and for the first time in over two months I felt positively healthy. As you can see in this picture, the hosta are slowly waking up and opening and could not look more boring. I will take another picture for you in about a month when they have opened completely, and their true colours and patterns have come out.

I know. I get all tingly too, just thinking about it.

What happened next I am totally blaming on the spousal unit.

After over 30 years of marriage he knows I should never, ever be left alone here in the spring for eight or ten hour stretches with access to a shovel and a wheelbarrow. Yep, each day when he headed off to work, he should have locked them up.

His fault.

It's totally, totally his fault.

The man is an enabler.


Mileage on the Marnometer: 357.97 miles. 10 per cent rubber duck10 per cent rubber duck
Oh, man, but I am having a hard time building back stamina. Ouch.

Goal for 2006: 1,250 miles - 2000 kilometers

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