Tuesday, July 31, 2018

A Day of Hard Work


Before the weekend, Jim conveyed a number of pieces of machinery to the new property.The John Deere tractor, the bush hog, and the back blade have been kept busy on initial mowing and. clean up.


I'm always relieved when everything is safely off-loaded.


Jim set up his laser transit, only to find that after taking one reading the battery failed.



This lovely vintage transit is a real treasure--no gimmicks, no batteries!


Jim reckons this transit was 'top of the line' when it was made. When not in use it resides in a tidy wooden case.
Jim is not ready to mark out the site with stakes and lines, but wanted to shoot some preliminary grades.  My job at such times is to march off carrying a measuring pole [whose markings make no sense to me] and then stand holding the pole while Jim makes calculations.  I feel like a flag bearer standing at attention.


Jim estimates that there is slightly more than a mile of fencing on the property, most of which needs to be taken down for proper access to the building site.
This is a tedious job--nails to be pulled, boards to be stacked. 
I stand by with an old plastic bucket at the ready so the extracted rusty nails can be tossed in.




Jim announced this morning that he was headed up the ridge to demolish more fencing.
My assistance wasn't required and the house was in need of attention.
I've never been known as a super housekeeper. 
There are things about which I am particular: beds must be made within moments of the occupant leaving them; I can't abide dirty laundry languishing in a welter of damp towels and grubby jeans;  dishes are washed immediately after a baking/cooking spree and after each meal.  Bathrooms must be given at least a cursory cleaning each day.  Cat hair is a renewable resource that must be dealt with.  At this time of year, garden produce sits here and there in the kitchen in baskets and boxes awaiting attention. 

My downfall is the ever present and accumulating welter of books, magazines, papers and sewing --at the end of the counter, on my desk, on the table in the alcove. 
We have been out of the house so much in the past few weeks that nothing beyond the necessary basics have been done.
Feeling that I at last had a 'free' morning, I started by tidying the living room.  I quite fail to understand why a man must leave cushions awry, throws dragging from the back of the sofa or easy chair, curtains twitched off center. 
I set these things in order, stacked music and hymnals that I was guilty of leaving strewn on top of the piano. 
I gathered documents pertaining to real estate transactions--the surveyor's report and maps, contracts, appraisals, piled them neatly on top of the printer.
In the alcove magazines were sorted, back issues put away in a living room cupboard.

I felt I was making good progress, but knew I needed to eat breakfast before continuing.
The chicken and pasta salad left from the weekend looked appetizing,  but I decided to do a quick overhaul of the refrigerator's contents before sitting down to eat.
I had taken only two bites when I heard the diesel truck roaring up the lane.
Jim entered with a flourish and I inquired suspiciously, 'What?  I thought you intended to work all morning on fence removal.'
'I've pulled the boards on another section and need you to come back with me to help pick them up.'
So much for house keeping!


As jobs go, it wasn't too  demanding.  My remit was to drive the truck with trailer slowly along the lane, stopping on command while Jim loaded boards onto the trailer.
The local country music station competed with the snarl of the truck engine; I twisted in the seat, watching for Jim's hand signals which I often don't interpret quickly enough. 
He poked his head in the cab window to admonish me.  'Keep watch in the rear view mirrors and don't crowd the fence on the other side of the lane.'
I realized, belatedly, that he was loading the boards cross-wise of the trailer instead of length-wise and meekly eased the truck and trailer to the right. 
With the boards neatly stacked and the trailer unhitched, Jim mopped his streaming face and took over the driver's seat.
'Now what?' I asked cautiously.
'Now we are taking a break, going to The Mustard Seed for ice cream!'

I was surprised when instead of returning to the ridge property [It is called Turkey Flatt] Jim headed to the house.
'I'm going to drive the Massey up--I need it to pull the fence posts.  Give me a few minutes, then drive up in the truck.'
The 'few minutes' were time enough to serve 'tea' to the cats and wash their dishes.

I approached the Dodge dually with a bit of trepidation.
For years we seldom owned a car--an assortment of 4 wheel drive trucks were part of the construction business and, with the exception of Snort'n Nort'n, I drove which ever one was left in the dooryard.

Kentucky roads are very different from the wide open roads of Wyoming. 
Here the narrow roads wind up, down and around; the roadway drops off at the edge, sometimes alarmingly so. Over-laden log trucks take their half of the road out of the middle;  meeting one, barreling at speed, along a crooked creek road is [to me] terrorizing. 
The red Dodge dually seems to me to be immense.
I was delighted to find that the seat adjustment works well!  The truck has an automatic transmission--other than its perceived width, nothing could be easier.

I drove cautiously over the 'blind' hump in the road, eased out to the ridge road, and lumbered up the hill.  When I pulled in, Jim was on the Massey, shoving at a massive fence post.  He dismounted and explained that my part of the job would be to loop the canvas strap around a fence post, attach the strap to the hook on the front-end bucket, get out of the way while he heaved the post out of the ground, then remove the strap and shove the post away from the bucket.

By the time we had removed three posts I had found the rhythm of the task.  
Loop the strap around the post. Tighten the strap. Slip the fold of the strap over the hook on the bucket.  Step back. Move forward to the now dangling post [mind the post hole!] Unhook the strap. Push the post toward the side of the bucket [if it doesn't fall to the ground, let Jim maneuver it with the bucket.]  Move to the next post, repeat process.


I am a rather clumsy person and advancing age hasn't improved that trait.  Jim moves gracefully at his work,  well balanced, coordinated.
I have to concentrate totally on the placement of my feet [don't trip]  be mindful where to place my hands so that they aren't unwittingly caught; notice when the tractor is moving, don't be in the way when the post falls to the ground; watch to see if it rolls.
There were over 40 posts. 
I've not done such physical work in awhile. Halfway down the line of the posts I could feel the strain my back and shoulders. 
'Don't try to lift the post off the bucket,' Jim shouted. 'Give it a push and let it roll easy.'
I glared at him and shouted back.
'You haven't been my height and weight since you were about 11 years old!  Nothing is easy!'

I was not allowed to help drag the posts into piles! 
I scuffed wearily up the slope to the truck, discovered that I had forgotten my insulated mug of cold tea.  Jim flung himself into the driver's seat, started the engine and turned the A/C on full blast. 
He offered me iced orange juice from his thermos. I declined.

'What next' I asked--hoping that 'next' would be time to go home.
'We need to fill in all the post holes so that a deer doesn't break a leg crossing the field or machinery get caught.  I've got dirt in the Massey bucket.  You drive the tractor and I'll shovel dirt and pack it into the holes.'
I had counted the post holes on my way back to the truck--was it 42 holes--or 45?
I didn't want to drive the tractor.  I didn't want Jim shoveling dirt in the heat of the waning afternoon.

'Use the John Deere with the backblade and drag dirt into the holes. There's a ridge left along the fence line and that will smooth it out.'

Jim doesn't like suggestions, but after a challenging moment, he took this one.
Back and forth along the fence line, clouds of dust rising behind the tractor, grass and weeds dragging behind the boxblade, but with each swipe the earth smoothed out, gradually filling in the deep holes.  I walked along with a shovel, prodding at the edges of the most stubborn holes.  The posts had been set about 18 inches deep, some of them stabilized with concrete. 

I leaned on the shovel, watching, so tired that it seemed I might sink to the ground without the support of the shovel.  My feet hurt. Weariness had settled into every fiber of my body.
Still Jim drove the tractor up and down, back and forth along the fence line.  I would have called it good long before he surveyed the ground and was satisfied.
Several holes on the upward side of the slope needed to be filled by hand so as not to tear up the sod. 

Jim handed me the shovel to carry up to the barn while he parked the tractors, stowed tools in the back of the truck.
'That would have taken twice as long if you hadn't helped.'
So, today I did rather more than the heavy looking on!

At home Jim headed directly for the upstairs shower.
I drank cold water, collected clean clothes, clambered into the downstairs shower.
The bliss of warm water rinsing away sweat and dirt. The scent of soap and shampoo, the caress of lotion on sun-browned skin.

Jim answered phone messages, confirmed arrangements to meet the electrician and a power company field rep at 8 in the morning, later to receive bids from two local concrete contractors.

I made a mug of tea, refilled a hummingbird feeder, settled into the porch rocking chair.
Hummingbirds darted in, tiny wings whirring.  In the pasture of the lower house  baby goats clambered over their climbing frame, small hooves clattering;  their bleating cries rang on the heavy air.  A Mourning Dove sang its ascending cadence from somewhere in the woods beyond the retaining wall; closer by another answered. 
I set down my empty mug, kept the chair gently rocking.

It was a long day--one in which I worked beyond the limits of my stamina.
A demanding day, but one in which visible progress has been made. 

Sunday, July 29, 2018

Land at the Top of the Ridge


On Wednesday, 25th July, we signed the papers which finalized our purchase of a 20 acre property less than five miles away from our current farm home. 
[These first several photos were taken on that date, although sometimes my camera doesn't change its date setting through several photos.]


The highway twists and climbs up the ridge for nearly two miles before starting to widen into cropland and small meadows. We looked at this property in early May when it came on the market, made an offer which, luckily as it turns out, was accepted but with terms that we felt were restrictive, so we continued to search.

We have been happy in our modernized Amish farmhouse.  We have enjoyed having friends as renters in the lower farm.  Retirement and a change of location looms for them within the year--and we have had serious misgivings regarding renting the house and its out-buildings to strangers.
There is also the consideration that we don't need a large house with five bedrooms!

Thus we decided to list our Amish farm with the local realtor whose integrity and professionalism has proven valuable in the past.
We told each other that a unique property such as ours [two large houses with pastures and outbuildings] would likely be slow to attract a buyer.
Before the property had been listed on the market for two weeks, arrangements were being made for a showing. We accepted an offer several weeks later, signed a contract--and I, at least, began to panic that if the sale went through we would be scrambling for a suitable new home for our cats, our belongings, Jim's tractor 'collection.' 

I spent late night hours trolling area offerings on line.  We made note of a few, drove out to have a preliminary look--nothing appealed.  Too far away from our pleasant neighborhood; houses perched too near the highway;  a house with possibilities for renovation, but for sale through bank foreclosure which presented a nightmare of red tape and dead lines.
The listing of the nearby acreage we had liked was updated with a price reduction.
We drove up the ridge to look it over again.

There had been a house on the property--destroyed about a year ago by fire. The house was built in an unlikely spot--at the end of the acreage, shaded on three sides by woods, and perched above a steep ravine.  The cracked foundation remains, filled with a sad clutter of fire-twisted metal roofing, charred beams, a rusted stove, all fit only to be bulldozed and buried.

We made a second  offer much lower than the new asking price--and considerably less than we offered two months earlier.  The owners countered, Jim told the realtor that we didn't intend to respond immediately. 
By the time we reached home that afternoon, our realtor had left a message that the owners had capitulated.


A dog house surrounded by weeds survived the fire which claimed the dwelling.


There is clean up under way.  Livestock fences are being taken down.


Jim has decided the big metal barn is more of an asset than he first thought.  It can be insulated, wired for electricity and repurposed as garage and workshop.


Our house will be sited on the gentle slope to the left [west] of the barn.


Jim's first effort was to haul machinery up the ridge, take down some of the fence and bushhog weeds and grass.


Today we removed the partitions and pens pictured here in the main part of the barn.


Box stalls and pens line up on either side of the center aisle.


This building is located midway between the barn and the former house site.
It is filled with the belongings of the former owners--hopefully they won't take forever to clear out their bits and pieces.



I'm needing identification for this small tree near the burned house site.
I'm tentatively thinking it may be a hybrid of the magnolia family.

I loaded these photos on Thursday, but have spent hours at the property with Jim, trying to be useful.
I think my role at this point may be what Grampa Mac would have termed 'the heavy looking on!'

Today I have coiled up yards of electric fencing wire as Jim tore up the stakes.  I have held a bucket ready to catch screws and nails removed from partitions in the barn.  I've trudged the length of the meadow and along the board fence several times, moved our folding chairs into the shade so that we can take a short break.

Coming home [finally] at 6:30, I cleaned up enough to do some baking--4 loaves of whole wheat bread and a batch of molasses spice cookies.
A load of grubby sweaty clothes and damp towels has been laundered and dried.
Jim showered while I tidied the kitchen [minimally] then came downstairs to tell me that I must view the red planet sharing the south-eastern sky with the rising moon.

Three loaves of fresh bread bagged and in the freezer, one loaf set aside for breakfast.
Molasses cookies sampled, some in the cookie jar, some tucked in the freezer.
 I've showered --again--taken an Advil for my aching bones.
Folding the laundry can wait til morning.
I'm taking another Advil--and heading for my bed!

Friday, July 20, 2018

"Gone Up The Flue"


Thursday was a day of intensely blue skies, frothy white clouds, heat that tipped into the edge of the 90's F.  I went out early to water plants on the porch and on the landing at the bottom of the steps, then scuttled back inside.
It seemed a day to tackle the mess of 'stuff' in the basement storage room, a task that I've picked at a few times and then abandoned.

Boxes holding a tumble of books that never made it into the upstairs book shelves;  oddments of crockery, a basket with a broken handle, bins of fabric remnants,  a jumble of bits that should likely have gone away long ago.
I tied on an old apron and began with the books.  I decided on several categories: 'keepers'--those that I would re-read;  books on gardening and home decorating suitable to donate to the local library;  paperbacks in good condition to drop off at the charity shop;  a few foxed and musty volumes destined for the burn pile.
I made the mistake of reading half a paperback, dustcloth trailing from my pocket, before deciding that it belonged in the charity shop pile, then gave myself a mental shake and the stern admonition to get on with the task.

 I carried an armload of items well past their prime out to the area we use as a burn pit and resolutely lit a fire.
By mid-afternoon I was grubby and tiredness was undermining my resolve. There is something sad about sifting through a stash of belongings--finding a box of photos that remind of other times, other places, friends and family no longer with us. 

I uncover a shattered bone china teacup, part of a set received long ago as a gift, but seldom used. Finding a clean bit of rag I carefully wipe the remaining cups and saucers, set them gently with the sugar bowl and creamer in a small box padded with newspaper.  Surely someone will find them pretty enough to carry home from the charity shop.

I have salvaged items which still have enough meaning to keep;  I have steeled myself to add to the smoldering burn pile things which have become clutter, not worthy to be offered to anyone.

I am burning memories, reminders of my own years and times, and notably, a few such that came into my keeping years ago--musty journals with yellowing pages, fading ink, records of  thoughts and happenings experienced well before my time.
Inevitably, I will at some point be gripped by a fleeting pang of yearning for something given away, some item consigned to my bonfire.


As I work I think of my Uncle Bill.  Bill became, by default, the custodian of the family home, taking on in mid-life the housekeeping duties for his widowed father.
Once a week he presided over the Maytag wringer washer, pegged out sheets of startling whiteness to snap on the backyard clothesline.  In springtime he bundled woolens into trunks reeking of mothballs; when the frosts of autumn arrived he took them out again to be aired on a fine day of sunshine and chilly wind. He wielded mops and brooms, sloshed about with buckets of suds. 

Periodically he burned things.

Small items, papers, scraps of this and that went into the kitchen woodstove.  Larger things--a broken chair, a rickety crate, a mouse-bespoiled box of old letters retrieved from the attic--such things were lugged to the edge of the pasture below the kitchen window and set alight.

Bill did have a sense of things that should be saved, hoarded, tucked away. 
He could be crafty about this, whisking treasures upstairs to his clean but increasingly cluttered north bedroom.  Occasionally my grandfather would inquire, testily, where something had gone; my mother might wistfully recall some item that had belonged to her mother or grandmother and would request to know its where-abouts.  Bill's standard response to these quite legitimate queries was a truculent announcement, "It's gone up the flue!"
Although my grandfather sputtered in exasperation and my mother fretted, neither of them seemed to doubt that the item in question had been reduced to ashes.

Uncle Bill survived my grandfather by six years, living alone in the old farmhouse, puttering amongst his belongings--which he referred to collectively as 'my inheritance.' 
In the weeks following his death my mother, my sisters and I tackled the sorting of a house that held the belongings of 4 generations. 
Opening the door to Bill's bedroom we found stacked trunks, piled boxes, small tables groaning under a weight of miscellany.  The trunks held hand-stitched quilts, neatly laundered years ago and folded away.  Tucked down the side of a trunk, in a bundle carefully tied with string, were the letters written home from 'somewhere in France' by the great uncle who had been a casualty of the Second Battle of the Marne.
My mother spread the letters in her lap, handled them in astonishment.
The letters had supposedly 'gone up the flue' in one of her brother's fits of frenetic house cleaning.

Sifting through boxes, sorting, keeping, discarding, I chide myself for having lugged with us to this house, things which I no longer need,  items which have lost their relevance.  Waves of nostalgia threaten and I set aside boxes of photos--keepers--knowing that I cannot take the time just now to handle them one by one, to flounder in memories. 
Trudging to the burn pile with a few stray items I remind myself that I am being sensible, creating some sort of order where clutter has lurked.
Those first forlorn boxes of tattered pages, the splintery wooden shelf, the bedraggled  ornaments, an ancient  and faded stuffed toy--have all settled into a glowing heap, shapes charred to soft ash, no longer recognizable.
I find a rake, spread the remaining coals to die on the cobbled ground.  
The job isn't  finished, but the harder decisions have been made, sensible, irrevocable.

 The storage room doesn't yet look better for my efforts; still, the sorting and categorizing has made a good start. Next week when I can deliver boxes to their planned destinations, I can do a thorough sweeping and dusting, line up the cartons of things I mean to keep.
I tell myself that what remains to be done will be easier. 

Thursday, July 12, 2018

Snort'n Nort'n Rides Into the Sunset


Yesterday the old Dodge truck, fondly known as 'Snort'n Nort'n' was driven down the lane by a new owner. Over the winter Jim managed to become the owner of three trucks.  [Four if you count the one bought as a 'parts truck.']  Three trucks and a car add up when it comes to registration, insurance and maintenance. 

The 1992 Dodge Cummins Diesel Ram is the 4th year in the series which came to be known as First Generation Dodge Cummins trucks.
The first ones rolled onto show room floors in 1989, and Jim looked them over with a certain longing, but decided, quite sensibly, that buying one was not within our budget.

 Over the years a succession of trucks were parked in our dooryard--first in Vermont and then in Wyoming, a state where pickup trucks are the usual mode of transportation.

We had been living in Wyoming a few years when our son, Howard, learned that a rancher near his workplace was planning to trade his 1992 Dodge for a newer model.
Based on Howard's description of the truck and its good condition, Jim tore over South Pass to the dealership in Big Piney and made arrangements to purchase the truck--before it even arrived on the lot.  A few days later, on a frigid winter morning we were in the familiar Chevy truck chugging over the mountain to collect the blue Dodge. 

Jim led the way back down the mountain and through Red Canyon driving his prize, while I trundled behind in the Chevy.
The truck proved to be the work horse that Jim needed for hauling construction machinery and building supplies.
The diesel engine had an impressive roar, one which Jim's Siamese cat, Raisin, uncannily learned to distinguish from the many other trucks which traversed the road above the house.  As the hour approached each evening for Jim's homecoming, Raisin took up a listening post at the bottom of the stairs. As Jim down-shifted on approach to our drive, Raisin moved to the glass-paneled front door ready to greet her lord and master. 

When our grandson came to Wyoming for a summer visit he fell in love with the blue Dodge and christened him 'Snort'n Nort'n.'
From that day on, the truck was referred to as 'he' or 'Nort'n.'

Nort'n was essentially a man's truck. The driver's seat had stuck far back, a position that was perfect for the long-legged, tall men of the family.  I didn't often have to drive Nort'n, but when I did, after futile wrestling with the seat adjustments, I resorted to hauling an assortment of work jackets from the back cab, rolling them up to stuff behind me and perched on the edge of the seat. 
Driving a 5 speed standard shift truck wasn't usually a challenge for me; driving Nort'n I often felt that I needed to wrap myself around the steering column and hover over the steering wheel!

That being said, if I had to drive the truck I made the most of the noise and smoke, double clutching and letting him roar!
We bought a second-hand clean slide-in camper and Nort'n took us for weekends in the mountains.


The box/bed on the truck became rather battered, so Jim replaced it with a flatbed with 5th wheel 
plate.
Here Nort'n is at one of our building sites.





About a year before we left Wyoming, Nort'n  was refurbished.  Note the sturdy front bumper--meant to save the truck if an unfortunate collision with moose, elk or mule deer should occur.

We drove Nort'n from Wyoming to Kentucky on our search for a retirement home in February, 2010. 
A few weeks later Nort'n was part of the convoy hauling our worldly goods across country in the last fierce blizzard of the season.




Jim's decision to put Nort'n up for sale last month was not lightly taken.  When a vehicle has been part of a family's work and recreation for more than a dozen years, it takes on a personality. 
A great many memories, thousands of miles, and an era has come to its end.

Jim feels that Nort'n  has gone to the best possible new owner.  This man has wanted a first generation Dodge Cummins for years and is enthusiastic about his plans for restoration. 
His parting words as he eased into the driver's seat and switched on the engine, "I'll be taking good care of this truck!"

Monday, July 2, 2018

July Heat





It is worth recording that today [Monday] is our 4th straight day without rain!  I must admit that now, at 6 P.M. the sky has darkened to the north-east and there is a clatter of distant thunder.
The thermometer outside the kitchen window stands at 81--a good drop from the 92 F that has been our lot since mid-morning.


 There was a massing of pewter-grey clouds this morning hovering above the blue.
By 8 A.M. with the housewifely chore of sweeping the porch accomplished and some rooted cuttings of begonia potted up, I was happy to come inside. My fresh cotton shirt had started to cling uncomfortably to my back.   The boy cats had been outside with me 'helping' to sweep down the concrete steps and carry off an armful of weeds and trimmings left from yesterday's labors.


The center of a coneflower, petals tattered by rain and heat.

Saturday evening at near dusk I began rather desultorily to root out sprigs of grass that had taken up residence in cracks along the front sidewalk. This brought me into close encounter with several lavenders near the porch steps; they have been looking bedraggled, stems and leaves going black with too much rain. 
I went out Sunday morning quite early armed with snipers and began a drastic pruning. One of the plants is likely beyond help; another that I pruned down to one or two stems may struggle along.  The third lavender in that area will do, I hope, unless we have another series of heavy deluges.


Coneflower nearly ready to bloom.


From the front steps I moved down to the gravelly herb bed and began trimming the lavender there. Most of these have fared better in the rain due to the gritty soil.  Jim sliced off a drooping branch of the rugosa which hangs over the steps [this done about 10 days ago] but I still managed to catch my fingers on thorns at the base of the bush.  I've not met anything with more bristly canes than a rugosa. 
Working around to the lawn edge of the herb plot [marked by another rugosa--neither of my planting!] I moved slowly up the slope, pulling grass from the tangle of sprawling thyme. Running my hand under the matted clumps, I hauled out old dead stems.  I have both lemon thyme and English thyme bordering the concrete walk; both have thrived there and I  think any gaps will quickly close with new growth.



Pulling away a clump of grass I discovered a toad sheltering in the relatively cool and moist space under one of the concrete slabs.  A few feet down the border I had nearly put my hand on a toad half buried in soil beneath the trailing stems of thyme. 
When I moved the blades of grass hoping for a clearer photo of the toad it objected to my encroachment on its space and shuffled farther into the darkness beneath the step.

I hoped to continue weeding all the way to the end of the concrete walk--several more plants of lavender and thyme to trim, more tuffets of grass beyond the steps.
I had been scrupulous about heaving myself up from my knees about every 20 minutes and going to the kitchen for water.  Reluctantly I had to admit that the rising heat was getting the better of me.  I was hot, sticky, tired. I reckoned I had been working outside for nearly 3 hours--enough in the punishing heat and humidity. 
Time for my second cool shower of the day--clean clothes [again!] from the skin out.
The boy cats had long since retreated to the cool of the house. 
They go outside early in the morning now and are anxious to come inside as the heat of the day increases--although, oddly, they are apt to sprawl in an upstairs bedroom where the A/C is not on except at night.


A few stems of platycodon [balloon flower] have persisted among the weeds near the retaining wall.


One of the two miniature roses which survived the early spring frosts. This one shares its container with a lavender which seeded itself last autumn from an over-reaching spray of  florets.


When I went out the basement door to empty the de-humidifier bucket, this Io moth was clinging to the door molding. I touched it very gently--it didn't move.


 I lifted one wing portion carefully, exposing the distinctive 'eye' marking. 
The moth fluttered to the floor.
The tattered edges on the wings suggest that it was nearing the end of its short life span. 


I lifted the moth carefully to a nearby begonia which summers on the shady porch. 
When I looked for it later, it had gone.

We again had business errands in town this morning--quickly sorted.
I had requested potting soil so Jim drove to the local Wal Mart [sigh] and parked the car near the pallets of gardening supplies at the far end of the lot.
I selected an 'organic garden soil' mixture which had been reduced to half price.
We walked to the garden center check out and I handed the thin sun-browned man minding the register the details that I had copied from the sacks of soil. He searched diligently through his binder of bar codes for soil, mulch and fertilizer, finally concluded that we must have chosen a 'hold-over' from last season.  We were dispatched with a cart to trundle a sack to the counter to be rung up--times 8 as I was pleased with the price. 
Having paid for the 8 bags I asked if we needed to present the register slip to someone over-seeing the lot of garden goods. 
The wiry gentleman smiled, "No, just load your 8 bags--most people don't steal dirt!"

Home again to scrub and boil new Yukon Gold potatoes. Jim decided to begin digging potatoes rather than have them remain in wet soil.  He has declared that he can happily eat potato salad for many hot weather meals.  Tomatoes are starting to ripen in spite of the wet; green peppers are outdoing themselves.  I miss the fresh green beans we usually harvest at this time.  I balked at the thought of picking bush beans this year--bought seed for the climbing variety--but 'someone' didn't construct 'climbers' for beans--so--we are without. 
Beets germinated erratically, Swiss chard not at all. 
Okra is coming on and Jim likes it breaded and added to a stir fry.
We work outside [or Jim in his shop] for awhile, come indoors to drink ice water, rummage out a fresh shirt.
July--not ever my favorite month--a time, where ever we have lived, of relentless heat.
 I am headed to the rocking chair on the porch to watch the green darkness move in--bowl of chocolate gelato in hand.