Professional Relaxer?

Years ago we bought a cozy little chair hammock for the garden.  It came with a decal that said “Professional Relaxer.”


I made sure the boys stuck the decal to my husband’s car because I’m incapable of ‘relaxing’ in my garden. My idea of gardening nirvana isn’t about relaxing, but about doing. So after pronouncing to a handful of friends that we had ‘nothing planned’ for most of the weekend, I proceeded to clean my side yard. I sorted, swept, washed, pruned, recycled, tossed and donated most of the afternoon.

We have two narrow side-yards, though only one has a gate.  We once used the closed side yard as a play area for the boys.

boys in sideyard

Once upon a time in the side yard with Fluffy, CC and the boys

In later years, we created a screened-in cat enclosure so our cats could have fresh air and exercise but remain safe. We have one unkind neighbor who set a trap for our cat, then took him to the animal impound.  Eventually we discovered the Cat Fence-in System and life in the feline world has been better ever since.

A few years ago we adopted Slinky, a semi-feral kitty who wanted no part of indoor living. I made a cozy enclosure for her, complete with a day-time lounging area, a climbing post and a sheltered bed. She lived out there for a year. After nabbing her for her annual trip to the vet, and keeping her briefly indoors, she had a complete change of heart and moved in!

slinky and mouse in the side yard

Slinky’s Private Quarters (Mouse liked to invite himself over)

Absent Slinky, the side-yard morphed again. This time it wasn’t pretty.  It became the home for wayward garden screening. Old cat litter boxes, past their prime but not recyclable joined the mix. Plastic pots saved from nursery bedding  plants multiplied like unmatched socks. The space no longer satisfied my tidy aesthetic.

side yard starting point

Side Yard Starting Point

cat enclosure

Far End of Cat Enclosure

We borrowed our neighbors small truck and combined his items with ours and made a trip to a local transfer station.  While a trip to the dump was a bit of an adventure, it also made me realize the back-end of human consumption.

Cat boxes without a recycle symbol eventually have to be tossed.  Cat furniture, made from particle board and carpet remnants, so too have nowhere to go.  Broken tool handles, fractured irrigation pipe, and other bits of detritus end up as landfill.  Our trip was an exercise in awareness as well.

Back  home, exhausted and sore from the day’s work, I eventually put my feet up.  That said, I’ll leave the serious relaxing to the professionals.  When you garden, there’s always work to do.



24 thoughts on “Professional Relaxer?

  1. A job well done Alys…. and I admire your resolve to throw it all out. It looks great now! Unfortunately we have a large cellar, and everything just piles up down there… out of sight, out of mind! LOL!


    • Thank you, Cathy!

      It’s easy to put things off when you have the space to let things gather. Often people are forced to deal with these things when they have a basement flood or a simple move. We accumulate gradually, then turn our backs and think ‘my oh my’. Thanks for commenting.


  2. Brilliant work, Alys! I love the pictures of the boys and the cats – and the one of Mouse and Slinky. It’s so fabulous that they get along so well being neighbour cats and all. What a transformation in your yard. That type of clean out is good for the soul but, yes, the waste we humans produce! Gads! (as gorgeous Boomdee would say!) I can also totally relate to the “not relaxing in the garden” bit! My muscles were aching the other day from strenuous work in The Oasis and I just had the energy to glance over my shoulder as I headed inside. For about 30 seconds I savoured my hard work – and then noted 50 other tasks that needed doing!! But the joy of gardening for me is in the “doing”. My mind is totally immersed in the tasks at hand when I’m out there, which is wonderful. One day I will make a little more time to relax out there, though. Great post, dear Alys. xoxoxoxoxoxox

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Dani! Thanks for stopping by.

      You’ve said it perfectly: a good clean out is good for the soul. I’ve been admiring the empty spaces and enjoying the lack of clutter. As you can imagine, my clutter threshold is fairly low.

      Gads! Isn’t that a great word?

      Yes, we are much alike in that regard, too. There’s always something that needs accomplishing. Hard, physical work is good for us, too, so all in all I think it works out.

      It is so nice to hear from you. xoxoxoxoxoox


  3. Ah! The end result feels so fresh and light, does it not? I love a job well done. Had to make a trip to hazardous waste myself yesterday. Each day has been like that. I haven’t even begun in the yard. The contractor keeps washing things out and getting the grass too wet to cut but I want him to finish so I say nothing. Soon I’ll have time to post and add photos. I want to feel like that side yard. I love the idea of cat enclosures outside. I wouldn’t want to be trapped inside my entire life either. I used to take my cat out on a leash until she learned just where her area was. She never left our yard or the landladies next door. She would go play with the landladies cat then come home for food and hugs to cuddle up with our dog. She was one confused cat. 🙂


    • Aren’t you sweet to stop by and comment during your uber-busy move and settling in. How is it all going? Are you fully out of your apartment now?

      I’ll try to be patient and wait for your next post so I can learn what the contractor is up to and hopefully see your new place. Exciting and I know exhausting, too, getting settled. I’m just tickled that you’ve settled in to a place to call your own.

      I hope you feel like my sideyard does soon. 😉

      And yes, I’m with you on the kitties. Some are really content indoors, but we’ve generally had cats that like to go out from time to time. Slinky is the first cat I’ve had in a long while who is perfectly content indoors 95% of the time.

      The beauty of that cat fencing is that they get the best of both worlds: outdoor exercise and fresh air, without the risk of cat fats, cars, and ill-mannered neighbors who hate cats.

      Your kitty was a gem. I love seeing cats and dogs snuggle together.

      Hugs, MH!


  4. You’ve certainly always made good use of the all your space rather than just having it as a path to ‘no-where’. Clever little play area for the boys and their kitties. Tehe, look at how blonde they were. Did you save any of those locks from haircuts?

    I’m sorry but I burst out laughing at ‘the feral cat’ part of your post because Slinky is sitting on a cozy blanket under the lovely shade of a pretty violet umbrella in the company of Mouse on a Deluxe climbing post. LOL, poshness all around. You are too cute and loveable. Lucky is the neglected kitty cat that finds it’s way to you. Making the world a nicer place one little furry soul at a time, mwwwwwwaaaa.

    You and I are so a like in the way we think sometimes. I’m not good at relaxing if I know there’s a project calling my name (full disclosure, I burned out yesterday and had a 1.5 hour nap mid-day). Hard to believe how much ‘stuff’ we acquire day to day. I do try and think about the recycle part when I’m doing everyday shopping. Like, I tie a knot in my produce bags instead of using a twist tie. I often don’t even take a bag for onions, potatoes, banana’s and other big things. Most people use their own shopping bags too. We are able to recycle used garden posts as long as they are clean.

    We actually had our old cat post recovered to avoid throwing in the trash. We were buying two more for the new house and he recovered the old one for just $10.

    It all looks great and refreshed! Good for another few years till the next transformation, what will it be next……..mmmmmmmm? xoxox


    • Cute little blonde boys…it seems like a lifetime ago! I did save a lock of hair, and I’m now so glad I did. They each have a baby book and a time capsule waiting for them when the time is right. Thanks for your sweet comments.

      You always make me feel like a million bucks! Thank you for that. Yes, Slinky’s quarters were pretty cozy. I so desperately wanted her to come in the house. Had I known the quick transportation on the second go around I would have done it sooner. Honestly, she’s like a different cat.

      I mentioned in an early comment that she was once passive and fearful of all the other cats. Now she puts Mouse in his place, at half his size and twice his age. Makes me giggle.

      We are alike and I love it! 🙂 I’m so glad you took a nap. I rarely nap, because I feels so groggy afterwords, but when I just can’t make it through the day, it feels wonderful to lay down for a sleep. I’m glad you got some rest. Moving is exhausting.

      Great idea covering the kitty condo. The tall one was outside for four years, so the bottom structure had started to collapse, but if I ever have an indoor one like that, I will definitely look into recovering it. What an excellent idea! Who did you take yours too? I’m intrigued.

      Mike replaces the jute on the scratching posts and they look like new when he’s done. Lindy, especially, seems to prefer the jute.

      I wish I could turn the side yard into a ‘secret’ garden, but I know it’s not responsible of me during a drought. I’ll put some thought into it, though.

      Thanks for all your good cheer, and also for taking the time out of your busy schedule to read and comment. You’re the Boomdee’s Knees!

      Liked by 1 person

      • ‘The Boomdee’s Knees’ teehee…..buzzzity, buzz-boom, LOL That’s funny.

        Funny you mentioned a drought. We’ve just had a couple of really nice days. Today was especially hot (plus I was running up and down the condo stairs), but tomorrow and the weekend, we’ll have more rain. I’m looking forward to it because our new house isn’t air-conditioned and I know you manage way warmer weather but we are melting tonight. You’re very mindful to think about the lack of water, given how much you love to garden. It must be hard to not be able to do what you’d like. A secret garden would be amazing. I was just watching our National Nightly News and they’re reporting that globally, it was the warmest May EVER. Since records have been kept. They did indicate that central Canada was close to normal but the rest of Canada saw warmer than normal May weather. It’s a tough sell after the misery that was winter all across the country this winter. I’m very fearful of the inevitable. There is zero, zilch initiative from our conservative government to address climate change in any way that negatively affects jobs. What I don’t get is what planet they think their grandchildren will live on because they’ve been so spineless.

        We got our scratch posts at our downtown Farmers Market (I actually posted when we got the cat tree). John makes them in any shape or size you want. We wanted ones with only carpet since our cats ignore the one with rope. So he made us two with light beige carpet and recovered our old one too. He even delivers them.

        I’m so happy for Slinky. I wonder where she was the rest of her life? No where’s near as great as your house, of this I’m certain 😀 xoxox


  5. I came by yesterday and left a long. detailed response to this lovely post. WordPress then decided I was not a proper person and declined to let me leave my message and gobbled it up entirely! I shall try to remember some of the thoughts I scattered about 🙂

    I have a friend who describes himself as ‘an active relaxer’ His idea of a quiet weekend is to build a stone retaining wall into a clay bank. 🙂 You would get along well 🙂

    Slinky’s outdoor haven was rather grand and it is good to see that Mouse considered it included places for him in it’s purpose-built comforts. We once had an old Persian who for reasons of his own, in his dotage, decided to take up residence outside the large picture window on the deck where the afternoon sun beat down relentlessly and where, if it rained, there was no protection. My daughter placed his basket there and tied an open umbrella to the railings and he sat there rain and shine, protected no matter the weather, staring happily at us through the window.

    Your side yard has been put to very good use over the years and now awaits it’s next incarnation – I wonder what it will be! Next time you are wondering to yourself ‘I wonder just how big Pauline’s pocket handkerchief garden really is’ just have a look at the back part of your side garden and there you will pretty much have it 🙂 I’m looking forward to the challenge of growing up this spring! I’m making lists of things that are needed already.


    • Isn’t that frustrating when it happens? It’s so hard to start over too in the moment, after pouring our your ideas and feelings, only to have them summarily deleted. You are a gem for coming back and trying again. Succeeding, actually. Thank you, Pauline.

      Yes, I totally get your friend! It’s good to know I’m not alone in this.

      I couldn’t believe it when I found Mouse in Slinky’s spot. I have another shot oh him *inside* her little house. The nerve! She used to be quite passive and afraid of all the other cats. Now that she’s moved in, the tables are turned. When Mouse jumps up on my desk, she immediately crosses the desk and either glares at him or takes a swing at him. Though he’s half her age, and twice her size, he gets moving. It’s pretty funny actually.

      I *love* the story of your old Persian, It says a lot about your daughter, too, that she would McGyver a lovely shelter. That makes me smile.

      I’m glad to know of the size of your pocket garden in relative terms. My Campbell apartment had a similar sized patio, though the narrowness and the two story structure meant very little suns. I was the queen of vertical space. Have you seen the blog from the UK called Vertical Veg? He’s amazing.

      It’s nice to hear you planning for spring. Less than 90 days away for you!


      • Yes, I follow Mr Vertical Veg – he is full of good ideas and info, which I just have to hope I remember six months out – which is the problem with different hemispheres!

        I am most pleased to hear that Slinky keeps Mouse in order – someone has to! 🙂

        I wasn’t counting the days – so it is a nice surprise to think spring is so close! I’m thinking in terms of September and making sure I have the dollars to go garden shopping 🙂 If you have been queen of vertical growing I hope you will be able to give me some good tips and feedback when I get going.


    • Thank you! It was hard work, but worth every minute of it. I would really like to pull up the artificial turf and plant, but we’re in the middle of a drought, so it will stay this way for now.

      What are you up to this week?


      • I just realized that I did not get a chance to do any blog posts last week at all, shame on me! Just been super busy with the garden, the weedin, and everything else. This week I am trying to play catch up on chores like laundry, ironing, filing. No drought here…we’ve been having some pretty vicious rain storms here the past few days. Rain barrels are full!


        • Oh, what we wouldn’t give for rain…or a full rain barrel. That said, I know many parts of the world are getting too much, causing flooding, mudslides, property damage and injury. Our beautiful planet is in turmoil.


          • I agree with you. We have noticed over the last few years, that the storms that we are getting are worse and more severe. If our little side street in the city can flood, what’s next? Two years ago around Halloween, we got the Hurricane Sandy winds and rain that was so severe that it snapped off three posts in our back fence! Now that was some high winds! I remember that I had to run outside to grab all of our Halloween decorations and throw them in the garage during this storm, or we would have lost all of them down the street!


          • Oh heck YES, I agree! Sometimes when you shrug them off, it only makes the matter worse. For now, I am all caught up. Summer is busy and things like ironing always fall by the wayside. Ug.


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