December 3, 2020

Sometimes I bite off a bit more than I can chew!

Have you had a Covid-19 project? Like many others, my project has been my back yard.

Last year I had a unused corner of my yard that was in some significant shadow, so I planted some Hostas. Just two little beds, tucked away in the corner.

This year I looked at those beds and said I really should do a little more with them, so I created another larger bed in front, and a smaller one in behind.

But then I thought to myself, “I really have been running these in a line, I should maybe extend them out the other way as well.”
So created a fifth garden bed.

And I said to myself, “Wouldn’t it be nice if I could sit out here and enjoy these garden beds?” So I created a sixth and seventh garden bed with a little half circle seating area.

But looking at that seating area, I said to myself, “cute, but just a little bit too small”, and that back garden bed really needs some plants.

“But how am I going to get to my pretty little seating area?” I guess I need to create a path.

“But look, the area in front of my shed is overgrown with weeds!” Guess I need to create garden beds 8 and 9.

“Oh look someone is giving away free rocks, maybe I can build that retaining wall and stone steps that I wanted.” (As a side note: Almost all rocks and plants were acquired for free in this post.)

So this weekend I loaded 64 wheelbarrows of rocks into a rented truck, drove them home (8 trips) and unloaded 64 wheelbarrows of rocks into my back yard (I did have some help 🙂 ). This is going to be used for next years project.

“Oh look, it’s midnight, and I haven’t started my post for the Gospel of Mark yet!”

I guess the Gospel of Mark will have to wait until Friday.

Wow, sometimes I bite off a bit more than I can chew!

Have you had times when you bit of more than you can chew? It is a recurring theme in my life I know. There are always so many things that I want to do, but just don’t have time for. On the positive side, we now have an outdoors area where we can visit with a couple of friends at a time.

Have you had any fun or rewarding Covid-19 projects? Do you want to help me build a retaining wall and stone steps next spring? 😉

As always, your thoughts and comments are welcome.


  1. Adam Tauno Williams says

    Oh, yeah. I’ve got enough projects started to take me into 2050. 🙂

    I finished construction on a new garage + apartment last year, behind my house, so this year is landscaping – finally – after living here for more than 20 years. The lot is only ~5,800sq/ft and I’ve managed to turn it into a massive project with extra sidewalk, water garden, raised flower beds, concealed utility area, bike parking… On the other hand 2020 has been a great year to be exhausted at the end of the day — and it has been a great year for growing things here, everything planted has taken off.

    • Michael Bell says

      Sounds wonderful. I wanted to do a waterfall down the slope that I have, but that would require piping power back there, and the cost/reward seems to not make it worth it. Because it is so shady, solar won’t work for me either.

      • Adam Tauno Williams says

        The water feature is/was a big lift. To avoid running buried power – which would have required municipal permits, and please no more of those – I buried water lines below the frost line to/from under a stairwell where I can put a pump powered directly into the house. See, I have no ability to scope! 🙂

        But my wife – who spends most of her days on calls about cases concerning migrants, homeless, refugees, displaced, and the police – she wants to be able to go down the back stairway from her home office and sit among the plants listening to the sound of running water. So she gets what she wants; and I can’t complain about mechanics.

  2. I had big plans at the start of lockdown. Among other things, I was hoping to write a novel. Or create a computer game I could sell as a side hustle (I was unemployed from April to August). Back when we were wondering if the city’s food supply would be disrupted, I also made plans involving raised bed gardens, experimented with brewing white pine tea, and idly considered acquiring a hunting slingshot and eating squirrels. 🙂

    But instead, I ended up volunteering at a homeless shelter two days a week, which drained a lot of my energy. (I’m an introvert. Also, I was walking 5 miles to the shelter and 5 miles home to avoid the subway.)

  3. I have been going into the office every day like normal. Unlike normal, I am the only one there, but we are a small office even under normal circumstances. I am the one who volunteered to keep coming in, so as to preserve family harmony. This takes the pressure off me to have a Covid project. The kids, in the meantime, spent their time perfecting their video game skills. I did buy an exercise bike, but that isn’t really related to Covid. And yes, I have used it every day. There are no clothes hanging off it.

    • Michael Bell says

      I borrowed an elliptical machine from a friend. It dominates our TV room, and I have used it twice! We want to get rid of it so we can paint, but fall/winter is coming, and I might appreciate it more on snow days. Not going back to the gym.

      • The key is YouTube. I never could get into exercise equipment in gyms because reading, my usual first option, never really worked, and whatever blather was on the TV in the gym was usually just horrific. Doing this at home with my tablet, I can put on something that will actually command my attention. I have been working through a surprisingly good series on naval history. The time spent is actually interesting, while the exercise element is in the background of my consciousness.

        • Adam Tauno Williams says


          My trouble with exercising has always been that it is B-O-R-I-N-G and does not co-exist well with text. Technology has helped.

        • Headless Unicorn Guy says

          I have been working through a surprisingly good series on naval history.

          Drachnifel channel?

  4. thatotherjean says

    Like you, my husband and I are sprucing up our yard. Unlike you, ours is a tiny townhouse back yard. First thing, we wanted to get the hot tub out of it, since my arthritis means that I have a seriously painful time trying to get out, no matter how much I enjoy being in it. My daughter wants it, but she’s in another state, and COVID-19 has brought her driving up here to get it with a couple of friends to a screeching halt.

    So our outdoor table and chairs sit on the patio, along with the yard swing we bought earlier in the year, and a little mosaic–topped table for drinks and things. There’s a new birdbath in the corner under the tree by the fence between us and our neighbor, along with a couple of recently-polyurethaned chairs. There’s another mosaic-topped table in a different design sitting between them. And on the other side of the yard swing, just off the patio, there are a couple of planters full of caladiums. I’m definitely planting them again in the Spring, since they’re annuals in this climate.

    We still have to spread a bunch of mulch out beyond the patio, to keep down the mud and the weeds; and maybe find another place for more plants; but on the whole, we’re pretty pleased with how it looks, and how much more convenient it is. The big table and the chairs will, eventually, go out in the yard where the hot tub is now.

    I hope your hostas thrive as well as mine have. My neighbor had a couple of extras, and she planted them (with my gratitude) in our front garden. We’ve named them Audrey 1 and Audrey 2–they have grown exponentially since two years ago, and may be planning to take over the world.

  5. My retirement hobby fit in well with the covid lockdown: I finished and published a second novel. I’ve shared headspace with these imaginary people for so long, and, for now at least, they seem to be satisfied that I’ve told their tale. The voices in my head are mostly silent. I kind of miss them. But much of what I learned in the valley of the shadow of grief, and the tenuousness of recovery, is in that book.

    The book is called Ravynscroft, and it’s the tale of loss and recovering and coping and making rather unusual choices to repopulate one’s life

  6. I am a non-handyman procrastinator–a double-whammy in the world of DIY projects–which means…

    I can’t relate to this post AT ALL!!!! I mean, not even one iota!!! LOL!

    • Michael Bell says

      Hey, it took me 24 years to get this project. I can definitely relate to the procrastinator side of things.

      And as far as being a handyman? I can stack rocks.

      I’ll check back in 24 years to see what you have accomplished. 😀

      • My noted “accomplishment” within the last year:

        Around Thanksgiving last year, I thought I heard birds in the attic, so I went up to check. At one point, I lost my balance and stepped through the ceiling. Yes, so now I had birds in the attic to deal with AND repairs to my ceiling to be done!!!

        I hired both those out.

        • Adam Tauno Williams says

          Your skill is Delegation. 🙂

        • Michael Bell says

          Not that unlike me, who had hole in my downstairs ceiling from an upstairs bathroom renovation. I too hired out the repair job – 10 years after I did the bathroom renovation.

          “The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.”

  7. Michael Bell says

    Interestingly enough, when I started, I had no idea what the finished project was going to look like. I would do a section and look at it for a couple weeks, and would have just enough vision to imagine the next section. Maybe if I did this sort of thing full time I would be able to get an eye for how a landscape can be created.

    • Adam Tauno Williams says

      I started with a plan. It got redrawn with the completion of each part.

      I like to think of it as Aspirationally Visionary.

  8. I am envious when I hear of Lockdown projects. Because of the nature of what I do (software) I have been busier than ever although I am working from home. I frequently work six occasionally seven days a week. Of course they’re paying me very well and I don’t have time to spend the money so there is that.

  9. David Greene says

    During the shutdown my Covid projects have been digitizing old family slides and reading with a goal of 100 books this year, I am on book 89. Also, I have taken up cast iron cookery. Recently I did an adaptation of the Potjiekos recipe for lamb shared by Klasie last month.

  10. I too have planted hostas, and discovered that what I was really doing was feeding the local deer.

    My wife says that hosta are deer candy, and I think she’s right.

    • Michael Bell says

      They will snack on the front yard hostas, but they generally keep to the ravine side of the street.

  11. Over Extended says

    Other than short supplies, we haven’t done without much except serenity, security and stability. Hubby commutes 90 minutes each way to work in a hot zone at an electric power plant — keeping the lights on for the frontier workers and everyone else. I’m left with every other task, so no extra time for me.

    I talk on the phone at least 6 times daily with my last living relative 200 miles in a memory care unit and whom I can’t see. I’ve struggled to keep our oldest cat with kidney disease alive, rationing subQ fluids, which are periodically unavailable; likewise to access to vet care for a second elderly, special needs cat. Add to these “projects” hubby’s bipolar disorder that is ramped up, but his head dr is 3 hrs away in another state and likewise we can’t see.

    Yeah I have more than I can chew, but I wasn’t the one to bite it off. Wish I had covid time to read or garden.
    Count your blessings.
    Have gotten in a few extra hikes in the mountain forests. Don’t think I could’ve made it without those holy, spiritual miles…