Begone, Scary Monster Eyes and Six-Foot-Tall Spiders!

7 05 2011

Over the years, for a variety of reasons, our patio and back yard fell into disuse. We had too much stuff, I had to focus my energy on the part we had to live in rather than the outsides, the brown widows literally invaded the city in one summer and our back yard stupidly has no access out except through the house which makes removal of spidery yard waste difficult and anxiety-causing. Whatever reasons or excuses, it was unpleasant. And my goal this year has been to transform my home into a place that is pleasant, free of clutter and peaceful. About a month ago I cleaned up the back yard and today I did the patio. While I never took before pictures to spare myself the embarrassment, I did create some shockingly realistic reenactment photos for you. You’re welcome.

Patio – Before:

patio reenactment

At times in the past, the patio’s been so cluttered you could hardly walk in it, let alone enjoy it or want to glance in the direction of it. Much of the extra stuff left with the husband, I tossed some more things I felt we no longer needed, and I chopped down the jungle that had sprung up due to the unusual amount of rain we got this winter. I am pretty sure there were monsters hiding in it, as you can clearly see in the reenactment photograph.

Here’s what it looks like now (which I’m sure is a complete shock to you, what with all my mad photoshop skillz).

Happy Thing: No More Scary Monster Eyes

This is what the shelves look like now. They aren’t pretty (well, there’s a patch I rather fancy, circled for your convenience), but since I don’t have a garage, they are quite necessary. I’m open to ideas for making them less garagey while also not creating extra hiding spaces for those widow jerks (spiders. my neighborhood is not infested with actual widows acting like jerks). The car seat will be tossed as soon as I get my hands on a sledgehammer with which I can destroy it.

shelves

Into the back yard.

Before:

(And I don’t wanna hear from you about how the orange is hard to read. It was too late to change the color. For some reason that made sense at the time.) Three summers ago the brown widows came to my town. These spiders are not native to San Diego and were first sighted and recorded in 2004 and now their range covers nearly the entire county. Those bitches breed like mad. I’ve seen them with four or five egg sacs. And they don’t stay to remote corners the way the black widows do (perhaps because their sheer numbers cause them to run out of space?) so they’ll be in places you frequent far more often than the native black widows. The summer they arrived in my back yard, the population went off like a damn bomb. We pretty much stopped going in the back yard at all. We had some camping chairs out there that became a large metropolis for them. In addition to random trash like that, the Ex Husband also created a few “compost” heaps. He was fond of them and no amount of logic could sway him from piling more leaves and twigs onto them. While they did, indeed, create some new earth, most of it was just a pile of leaves and sticks, even years later.

This is what the back yard looks like now:

And the other side:

geranium & hose

those bitches grow fast

That pepper tree in the corner there? Was definitely NOT there the last time I looked (*cough*three years ago*cough*). Those bitches grow fast. (They are also non-native and invasive. I’m allowed to call ecosystem-imbalancing plants and wildlife bitches.) (I really, really love parenthesis.)

Technically, the Spider Metropolis (i.e. camping chairs) are still in the yard, so these photos were strategically taken. My landlord promises to move them for me by tossing them over a series of fences rather than bringing them through the house. I expect this to happen in 2016. And once they are gone, despite my inclination to put some sort of chair or table out there or on the patio, I have made a firm decision not to. The yards are lovely now and simple. Adding things back there will only create more places for the widows to live (this time I’m referring to actual widows) (haha, kidding!) and be more for me to maintain. Maybe someday, if I prove to be responsible with what I currently have, then I’ll allow myself a bistro set on the patio and maybe some flowers in the back yard. For now, I’ll enjoy my spaces without anything permanent in them.

And for the future? I’d like to get a shade built for the patio and, if possible, find a way to cover the items on the shelves (not to mention protect them from heat and sun – even shaded it will get warm out there), add more wind chimes (especially in the tree in the back yard) and possibly someday find a simple way to put fairy lights up around both living areas. For now, though, it just feels good to be neatened up.

As for the house, I still get a thrill of happiness when I walk in and see my lovely living room, neat and clutter-free. Every single day.

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9 responses

8 05 2011
Sarah

You’re clutter-free, scary monster-free and you have mad Photoshop skillz. More what could a girl want? Apart from maybe a pygmy goat, of course. That would be pretty cool.

8 05 2011
ZebraBelly

Wow. I totally read that as “polygamy goat”. I think I need a polygamy goat.

8 05 2011
Sara

I just got rid of our widow infested chairs. I left them out front for free and they were gone in an hour. They were green plastic. I have a white plastic table and they’ve never used it so someday I’m going to invest in white chairs. I’m with you for now though. I find their egg sacks everywhere and have battled with them so often. I hate all the outdoor toy bins my kids insist on keeping:( and my husband thinks they(widows) should be left alone so I’m on my own. Your yard looks good! What about getting some giant plastic bags to stick the chairs in and then run them through the house?

8 05 2011
ZebraBelly

Well you can tell him that even the Natural History museum now says the brown ones should be killed when you see them. I’d leave the native black widows alone, though.

And I’ve considered covering the chairs in bags but that would require me to a) be within five feet of the chairs and b) touch them. Eek!

8 05 2011
Corey

The first time I saw a pepper tree I thought it was the coolest thing EVER! Now you have made me see the error of my 9 year old ignorance.

p.s. That stuff was never compost. Good for you for getting rid of it.

p.p.s. Happy Mother’s Day. Enjoy your new clean space. ♥

8 05 2011
ZebraBelly

Pepper trees ARE pretty cool. I like the other ones we have here which are fairly weeping willowish. But both kinds are invasive. There’s an area in the new part of CV where they lined the road with pepper trees and I cannot figure out WHY they did that when they knew better by then (like 5-8 years ago). I understand why Balboa Park is full of eucalyptus (also invasive) because they didn’t fully understand the impact of things like that 100 years ago, but they should have made a better choice when they planned that brand new community.

8 05 2011
Amy

Great job cleaning/decluttering. I love your depiction of the black widow. What is a pepper tree? I am not sure we have them here. I will need to google this. I hate invasive species!

8 05 2011
ZebraBelly

These pepper trees, as far as I can gather from Googling, either produce the flavorless pink peppercorns you find in fancy pepper mixes or else they will poison you.

13 05 2011
this is why i am tired « Z E B R A B E L L Y . C O M

[…] Mother’s Day so I thought that might have something to do with it. Friday~ Recover. Saturday~ Clean off the entire patio. Sunday~ Be in pain from Saturday. Also celebrate Mother’s Day. Monday~ Attempt to get back […]

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