three out of four

Three of four of my geriatric citrus survived the Deep Freeze. The pink grapefruit tree in front is quite dead. I’m sad about it, but like wooden buildings on a hurricane-prone sea-shore, its location was not sustainable and it should not be replaced. If Tucson ever was a place that didn’t deeply freeze, it isn’t anymore.

Happily it’s lovely warm this week (high of 81 projected for today, a 54 degree improvement from St. Louis.) Never have I managed such an effective weather bail-out as I did this week. I got the usual annual comment “please stop complaining about how cold it is” and I point out that a) this isn’t the Everything Is Awesome All Of The Time Blog and b) I am not just complaining, I am STRATEGIZING. I’m just now getting back my full range of motion after being stuck in bitter cold for two weeks. I’m not eager to give it up again.

I was impressed with the way the honeysuckle vines soldiered through the freeze. Only the Cape Honeysuckle froze; clearly an unfit contender. The other three longleaf varieties (whose tags naturally I cannot find now to tell you about) did incredibly well, losing very few leaves. Also unfazed was the star jasmine, a new addition to the yard this year. And the creeping fig, my hero, 100% green and not a single leaf lost.
vines growing

This morning, my lovely plumbers come back to hack into my walls and change out the elderplumbing in both showers. I’m having a lot of guests staying at the house this Gem Show and the shower that was rigged with a shutoff valve (a noble solution that served well for years to cope with an unfixable drip in the 1950s faucet hardware) developed yet more troubles and it took the addition of a wrench to turn it on. The other shower has to be shut on and off in the wall, also due to unfixable drip issues. So… not a cheap fix, replacing the ancient fixtures with well-made new ones (and have you tried to find well-made plumbing fixtures lately? What a world of crap it is out there.) But I did find them (Fergusons online, Kohler Triton) and there will be no more long explanations to guests about how to use the showers.

This was an expensive freeze in general- a tree to take out, a water line to fix, a hose bib to replace. But each time it happens, I learn a little more about how to be sustainable in the future.

I left the power cord to my MacBook in St. Louis, an odd thing for me to do, and it won’t arrive until later today. Once again I am reminded of how much I rely on it. I feel incomplete, and unable to communicate my heart. But I will say that I am surprised and discouraged to discover how unsettled I am, how much is swirling around below the surface of my mind. I have to admit, a lot happened in this past year, and not all of it was awesome. There was nothing to do about most of it but work, and work I did, like a goddamned trooper, but everything I pushed down for later is asking again, and in combination with the usual low of finishing a huge project, well… I find myself in some distress.

I am glad that letters have begun arriving from Bria, who is, as predicted, enjoying Navy Boot Camp. She was given command of her division, and her last letter was about learning to use the formal sword that she’ll wear with her whites. It’s a great image. I doubt she’ll see much sword action, going in as a geek, but hey. There is nothing wrong with sword training. The boys, while not remotely interested in military careers (thank God) are enchanted by the concept of the formal sword.

It’s funny, or sad, which things out of all things are causing me grief right now. Some of them, you’d think I’d be used to by now.

12 thoughts on “three out of four

  1. Kate, I’m thinking that your cape honeysuckle probably just froze back to the ground, and will re-grow from its crown. Its AZ native cousins the tecomas are visibly kilt in our yard, especially in the unfortunate deep-freeze zone between the pool and the fence, but we’re expecting them to spring forth as soon as the weather warms; the chuparosas, too. May I offer one more bit of unsolicited advice to someone who is expecting a houseful of guests soon and wants a beeyooteeous yard? There may be another cold spell on the way (the mid forecasts are muttering this, maybe check with Suzanne about accuracy?); it may be wise to not prune back just yet: your bougs etc might like a little deadwood insulation for two or three weeks, still. Sorry about your pipes, and your pink grapefruit. We’re not yet sure what our damage was, still waiting too see.

    • Ah, isn’t there always one more cold spell? Bah. I cut my bougainvillea to the ground when it freezes; the root mass is so ginormous that it shrugged off the 2011 nightmare.

      I agree with you on the Cape- it will likely come back. I had one it a pot, which was the one I meant when I spoke of replacement. My prickly pears have a lot of limbs down, but they look mostly healthy so I’ll just stick them in the ground. I’m up for some drastic changes, though- I shouldn’t have to give a shit when it gets down to zero. I should just be able to leave, and know all of my pipes are OK and my plants zone-appropriate. I have some more work to do, but… HEADWAY.

      the plumbers are here now, and naturally the wall is too thick, the pipes are too whatever. Modifications are being made. $.

  2. Honeysuckle can be quite valiant. I spent YEARS cutting away and uprooting a “weed” in my yard until one summer I was just too overwhelmed and left it alone. 10 years of abuse and the sucker rewarded me with a curtain of green leaves and delightful pale and aromatic blossoms….

  3. You are such a gracious and fun hostess! I am sorry you have had such large expenses. Inevitable with older houses. I understand totally! Hopefully we will have nice warm weather for the shows this year. Can’t wait to see you!

  4. Well, talking from my perch just a foot or so from my blazing fireplace, I can tell you that today in Canada, it is -15f. It’s supposed to stay this way for – ohhh – several more weeks. And the snow? Mounds and mounds – more than 6 feet on the ground, and the plows are making the roadways narrower and narrower. Enjoy Kate – this sucks!!

  5. ah, so Bri is only a couple of miles from us and 1 mile from my office! hope she is enjoying the subzero temperatures………. and that she’s now doing wool-lined bootcamp. Although she doesn’t seem to be the Goldie Hawn type as in Private Benjamin “do these come in other colors?”

    • Yes! She is just a few miles north of Evanston! She is very sensible and not the complaining type. We were sure she’d find a way to enjoy boot camp if it was humanly possible. She says that they aren’t going outside much at all- she figured they’d be running her 20 miles along the lake, and she trained for it, but so far no.

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