Garrett (garote) wrote,

Feeling Dude-ical

Sometimes when I’m going about my business in Oakland, I feel like The Dude. You know; the Big Lebowski Dude. Because I feel like I just sort of fit right in to my particular place and time. Case in point: I love riding my bicycle. I also like snacks.


For a few hundred bucks, I got hold of a snackmobile. Some people use these trailers for cross-country touring, but in my experience a trailer is not ideal for that purpose.


What it’s ideal for, is going shopping, for a ridiculous amount of groceries all at once. It even comes with its own bag.


I weighed the bag after my last trip. That’s about 55 pounds of groceries. Yes, I own a vehicle, but come on man, the store is less than two miles away and the whole bicycling scenario only adds about 15 minutes to my day. That’s less than half an episode of “The Daily Show”, and if I want, I can listen to a podcast as I ride.

Did I mention that the weather in Oakland is almost always perfect all the time? Day or night?? And that there’s farmer’s markets within riding distance, five days a week? And a thai restaurant open until 1:30am, and a falafel joint open until 2:00am? It’s like the city was custom-built for me. I really do feel like The Dude.

Another case in point: I love riding my bicycle, and I’m also new homeowner with some work to do. Well whaddaya know, there’s a large hardware store five blocks away.


Can’t install a cat door without a reciprocating saw.


Here’s the helpful cutout pattern, taped up and ready for abuse.


First I drilled some holes to give the sawblade a place to start ...


... which gave the outside of the door a poker face. CAN’T READ MY, CAN’T READ MY, NO YOU CAN’T R -- *AHEM* I apologize for that.

Incidentally, this is not the first time I’ve used a reciprocating saw... That was three years ago, as this Helpful Instruction Video About Engineering will reveal:

A fresh new cat door gave little Mira the independence that befits a cat of her stipe. Stripes.


Now she could go play in the garden any time. Aaah, the garden... That’s another reason I feel like The Dude.


A few months ago Kerry and I spent a few days pulling up an entire season’s worth of weeds, uncovering the back yard again.


Crabgrass is insidious stuff. It can weave sideways along the ground, with the end of the stalk looking like the long arm of a crab, planting roots every few inches and utterly dominating the soil. If you let it take over, it will lock itself in place with hundreds of criss-crossing lines. Great for preventing erosion. Terrible for growing veggies.

We pulled it all up, along with some larger plants that had grown amazingly fast.


It was fun! Maybe I wouldn’t feel that way if I pulled weeds for a living, but I don’t. I tend to sit at a keyboard. This got me outdoors, and got my mind working on ways to improve the aesthetics of my living space - and since I’m sharing the place with renters, more people get to enjoy it.


I planted a cute little dwarf lemon. This was a gift from my real estate agent. It still needs a name!


I also found this bizarre thing. Some kind of puffball fungus, growing so rapidly under the ground that it actually displaced the patio stones, shoving them up into the air like a flexing muscle. There’s fungus among us!


Does this look like someone’s been snacking on it? That’s because of the squirrels...


My gang of jade plants is doing very well. A few weeks ago I put little nametags on them.


The Dude has his rug and his whalesong cassette, I have my rug and my plants. This plant is named Bananas, and four years ago he was a tiny sproutling gifted from Kashy.


This one is Whitney, a plant I grew from a scrap that fell near the Whitney Street house that I lived in last year. Doing very well!


The roses are looking nice too, though I totally ignored them for the last nine months. I finally trimmed them back with a pair of hedge clippers a few days ago.


I like hanging out back here at night, so I got some solar-powered lights to augment the colorful lamps that Kerry gave me. LEDs really have changed the literal balance of power with home lighting. These things will glow until about 4:00am, and they charge up again the next day.


Pretty little things!


The garden has become a relaxing place. I like to put my feet up here and chat on the phone, or listen to a book, or just enjoy the fresh air.


Mira seems to enjoy it too. You can see the tendrils of that evil crabgrass near her feet, trying to sneak back in. Not for long!!

Yes, the finances are a difficult balancing act sometimes, and certainly more complicated than renting, and yes it consumes many hours of the week when I'm caught up in some new improvement... But I am really enjoying this whole home ownership thing. It helps that the home and the location fit perfectly into the rest of my life right now, including my job and my hobbies. There's always something to learn about, some new way to stretch - and also something that could turn into a real disaster if it's not noticed and addressed sensibly. Case in point: Squirrels. But that's a topic that deserves its own post.

I am also quite thankful that I seem to have located good renters. Good people, even people I admire, who keep me in the loop. I guess this is how I don't really match up with The Dude at all. The Dude is a perennial slacker, and I actually like having work put in front of me, as long as it's work that feels justified.

What work is more justified than work on a home?

But enough talk! Time for a picnic!

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