There's been a whole lot of not much going on around here. I've been spending time outside in the yard and I've finally started working on the dandelions that have grown to monstrous proportions. Seriously, some of those things, especially around our vegetable garden, are huge! Clearly whatever soil we're giving the vegetables is helping the dandelions.
The leaves are up to a foot long and the root is up to one inch in diameter; the leafmass is almost too big for me to hold when I try to rip them out. I'm not actually able to get the full length of some of the roots out and I know that I'll have to do some serious digging when the leaves grow back. I don't care about that right now; just getting the leaves and flowers out is enough for me right now.
One of the less pleasant parts about clearing out these giant dandelions is that we have an unusual variety of ants in the area. They're called citronella ants and they're named for the smell they give off when they're crushed - it's described as a pleasant lemon scent in places but we think it's more of a cloying, chemical, citronella scent. These ants apparently farm root aphids (aphids that eat roots like dandelions and potatoes but not carrots or radishes for some reason) and mealybugs and their territory extends from the vegetable garden to the fruit trees. Anyways, when I pull out the dandelions in that area I invariably crush some of those ants and the smell just reeks. Blech. I don't think it repels mosquitoes, either.
We'd seen these ants a while ago carrying white things around and we assumed that they were carrying eggs. A bit of research showed that no, those are aphids or mealybugs, and they're moving them so that the aphids eat more yummy roots (and mealybugs eat more yummy whatever) so that the ants can eat the yummy honeydew that the aphids and mealy bugs produce.
It is kind of neat that there are more than one species of ant that farms their food and that they do it in such different places.
I really have been meaning to take pictures of our yard but I've been waiting for good light. If the light isn't good soon I'm afraid that you'll get pictures of a bunch of dead flowers, which are pretty in their own way. Also, our contractor neighbour is mad at me for talking to his employee about the way he was encroaching on our property while parking the truck and then for talking to himself in front of that same employee about parking the truck and trailer in front of the fire hydrant. He also thought that I was stalking him or his employee because I spoke to his employee that one time.
All of that is sort of hilarious in the way that neighbourly disputes often are, but the thing that isn't funny is that the neighbour didn't approach me to talk to me about the problem. Instead, he talked to Ian because this neighbour "doesn't talk to women". He said all sorts of awful, misogynist things to Ian, including telling Ian to control his woman. As if that's even possible!
I did apologize via email for speaking to the neighbour's employee directly and for talking to him about an issue in front of the employee, because underneath all that bluster and completely offensive language I understand that it's important to him to appear to be in control and that my actions caused him to lose face in front of his employees. And it's really no big deal to talk to him directly and privately if I have a concern, although apparently it's much too much to ask that he afford me the same courtesy.
Anyways, the point of that diversion is that because this neighbour thought I was stalking him or his employee, I don't want him to think that I'm stalking him by taking photos of the property. Of course we're also getting quotes for work on our driveway and they're taking all sorts of photos, but that's a bit different. As I write this, it occurs to me that it would be a good idea to take photos so that we have some "before" pictures of the areas that will be changed.
Speaking of getting work done, this neighbour has repeatedly asked us to ask him for a quote before we hire anyone and has been mad when we haven't done that. However, after this whole kerfuffle there's no way I'll do business with him. I can't choose my neighbour but I can choose who I hire, and I choose not to hire people who express themselves in misogynist ways. Even if he was awesome at doing stuff (which he isn't; some of the work we need to have done is fixing work he did for us before), I wouldn't hire him just on principle. I know that this decision won't improve the relationship between the households much (and that he might end up doing petty things like encouraging his guests to flick cigarette butts into our yard as a result), but I'm willing to take that risk.
Hopefully I'll get to take some photos for you this week. We really do have a nice yard even if it is a little overgrown and unbalanced and full of weeds. I'd like to show it to you.
Huh. I sure wrote a lot for not much going on, didn't I? It just goes to show that I can talk a lot about anything :)