Time to Recover and The Garden Goes Native

Felines post surgery

Clockwise: prepped for surgery, Lindy snoozing on my elevated pillows, Slinky snuggled in, my cast, Mouse in my arms

If you’re a regular here, you know I went in for surgery last week to repair a torn tendon in my left foot. I have a wonderful doctor who thought my case was “cool” and “different”. Dr. Sheth is the kind of doctor we should all have. She’s funny, smart, kind, thorough, patient and above all, a skilled surgeon.

It’s a mystery to everyone that I wasn’t in more pain and that I walked around for so long with a near-complete tendon tear and encapsulated cyst. Happily, the surgery went well and I’m on the road to recovery. I had a few rough days following the surgery, but I’m feeling much better….as long as I’m sitting down.

Our felines rallied immediately. Like children, I think they sense when things are amiss. They’ve been keeping a close eye on me since I came home.  In the “old days” I would have spent the night in a hospital. Instead, I had surgery at a surgical center and was home by noon the same day. Impressive, eh?

Today was my first post-operative appointment, and coincidentally our first thunder-storm of the season. Rain is a sparse commodity around here, and thunderstorms even rarer. It was wonderful to sit back and enjoy the show. It was short-lived, with the skies already clearing by noon, but it was a treat nonetheless.

I’ve been pampered beyond belief with cards in the mail, friends bringing prepared meals every other day, gifts, and a few brief social visits. Mike took the first few days off of work and is now working from home when he can. It will be several weeks before I can drive or put any weight on my foot, but I’m lucky to have a rented knee scooter to help me get from room to room.


In other news, the Garden Goes Native project is finally under way. R J Landscape started tearing out the lawn the day before my surgery and continued work through Friday of last week.

landscape revision tools and cleared area

Back Garden: Under Construction

landscape improvements back garden view of circle

Back Garden Under Construction: Alternate View

A crew of four removed what was left of the dead lawn and the existing sprinklers and will soon amend the soil. They prepared an area for gravel and a few paving stones for our garden swing and outlined a small walkway extension in the back garden.

front garden, lawn removed

Front Garden: No More Lawn!

landscape improvements removed lawn front garden

Front Garden: Another View

Mouse with eyes closed

Sleeping on the Job. Sheesh!

The front garden is pretty straight forward: California natives will replace the lawn front and back. I’m pretty excited.

I hope you’re off to a good week.

72 thoughts on “Time to Recover and The Garden Goes Native

  1. First off I have to say I am so glad you are feeling well enough to compile a post. And so lovely to see all the cats playing their parts. The photo of Mouse lying in your arms like a baby is delightful! I have no idea what a knee scooter is but I can imagine …….. and as long as you don’t ‘scoot’ too fast and bang that leg, all is well 🙂

    Now to the garden – isn’t it amazing what happens to a house when you take the lawn away and leave bare earth. It looks somehow unfinished – I never realised that my vision is so reliant on seeing lawns around houses! No wonder folks are reluctant to move into something other – it just cannot be imagined. This is indeed kudos to you for having the vision of a way forward and being able to bring the family along with you. I can’t wait to see the final result!!

    Rest up well Alys, I still haven’t put anything in the mail 😦 You will most likely be roller skating and dancing again before I get my act together ……. xoxo


    • Pauline, isn’t Mouse a character? He has us in stitches all the time. Those photos were taken on the couch the evening after the surgery. He likes to be close, but that night he insisted on being in my arms. Sweetie.


    • I’m replying from my tablet since the lap top is out of power, but it covers your comment so I’m answering in sections. I’ll post a photo of the knee scooter. Mike took one but I think it must be on his phone. It’s a two handled, four-wheeled rolling device with hand brakes. Instead of a place to sit, it has a narrow, long padded area for your folded leg. It has a small nylon bag on the front for my phone and a bottle of water. I use it to get to and from that bathroom and for small trips around the house, but it is tricky over mats and ridges, so I’m super careful.

      The company I rented it from is called A Leg Up. Isn’t that clever?

      Liked by 1 person

    • It is strange seeing that vast, brown earth. You’re right, too, that lawn offers a sort of finished look, especially when that is what we’re accustomed to seeing. Most of our neighbors still have lawn with only one or two exceptions. I think the challenge for many is that they don’t enjoy gardens or gardening the way we do. A maintenance company can mow the lawn once a week keeping it looking manicured with a few odd shrubs lining the house. I’ve always been the type that wants to tuck a plant into every available corner. I’ve done it over the years with houseplants and around the fringes, when permitted, while renting outside. It will be interesting to see what trends over the years. We are see some artificial turf and one neighbor has gorgeously converted her entire front garden into edible landscape. It’s beautiful, but still uses more water than natives. So many things to think about.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I wonder if the garden being edible offsets the water used to grow food – and the gas to truck it in from elsewhere. Yes, there are so many things to think about!

        I finally planted up some native shrubs, putting them in converted 80L plastic rubbish bins [being an affordable option for me, rather than the prettier clay pots of the same size]. It’s done to give me a sense of privacy and boundary and beauty too in an area that is otherwise grey concrete. If I ever leave I can take my shrubs with me 🙂 I think the challenges we are all facing, be it in renting, or climate changes, or cost are all solvable with a little thinking outside the square. I’m very excited to see your finished garden!

        Liked by 1 person

        • Personally, I think converting lawn to edible landscaping is brilliant. The challenge is when we’ve all been asked to reduce by 25%. There is surely some savings in fuel costs as you say, but it’s hard to quantify. And since a trip to the market is still required for other items, it would take a math whiz way above my grade to figure that out. I loved bringing in fresh tomatoes and basil from our own garden two summers ago and eating them with our meal. But we shopped for the mozzarella and lettuce to go with it. It’s an interesting set of issues, one that fascinates and intrigues me. I read but for some reason didn’t quite finish, Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver http://www.animalvegetablemiracle.com/
          She writes about a year of eating nothing but home grown or locally sourced food and her daughter co-wrote with her, writing all the recipes.

          My neighbor with the edible landscape is very much into sustainability. They have a gorgeous chicken coop, beautiful, healthy hens, and the garden. They take ‘military’ showers, flush even less than we do, and otherwise make a huge difference on their own footprint.

          Liked by 2 people

          • I guess for most of us the challenge to be 100% self sustaining is too great a challenge – I have heard of some who do it and am full of admiration for them – but way beyond my ability! I share your admiration for the edible garden – Robbie over at An Urban Potager manages one and is a remarkable soul! do you know her?

            I must read that Kingsolver book [I’ve said this very thing before!] She wrote one of my favourite books of all time so I don’t know why I haven’t read it….. I might not do it, but it is good to be inspired 🙂

            We have a very good local Farmers Market here where I can source all kinds of seasonal organic produce, breads, cheeses, even fish and meats and so forth. [Which was partly the reason for me deciding to give up growing my own veges this year and claiming back my outdoor space for sitting in]. Do you have that option Alys, or does the geography and water situation make it not viable?

            It’s raining here again today Alys – we seem to get a couple of fine days and then back to the grey and the wet. It seems so churlish to sigh and complain when I know you and half the rest of the globe would love what we have more than enough of – yet this is so often our best month – warm and dry and long sun filled days with light nights and early mornings – and it is literally a wash out!

            How are you doing today?


            • I’m like you: full of admiration, but not up to the challenge. BUT if we each do a little bit, that would make such a difference. I once read that the US consumes 80% of what’s produced. What a shameful statistic. I think more education and more awareness are key. Sometimes people just don’t know how their spending habits affect the environment. Or, some just don’t care. For instance 40% of SUV’s, the biggest fuel guzzlers out there, are driven be a single person. It’s hard to justify that but people do. I’m seeing efforts to reduce packaging, move to bio-degradable packaging or at the very least made from recycled material.

              My entire wardrobe takes up half a closet and three drawers, yet I know people with vast, walk-in closets that complain that they don’t have enough room for all their clothes. Only 5% of garments are now made in the US, with factory conditions around the world sketchy at best. There are so many things to think about when we spend our resources, whether it be dollars, or fuel, water or raw materials.

              I’ll have to pay Robbie a visit. Thanks for sharing her blog.

              We do have Farmer’s Markets and used to go more regularly. Like many things, we just dropped out of the habit, and you’ll appreciate part of this irony. It’s a 15 minute drive to get there, and once it grew in size, you couldn’t find a place to park. Now if we had more, and could walk there, great. But all of them require a drive.

              I’m delighted that you’ve reclaimed sitting space and love your idea of movable plants in large tubs. Clay pots have become quite expensive. I was stunned the last time I looked. I can’t wait to see your garden pics.

              I’m sorry about your unwelcome rain. The weather plays such a role in our moods. I fully understand how you must feel about wet, grey days robbing you of your sunshine. It’s how I felt last January when we had sun and mild days an no rain. I felt robbed!

              I’m doing ok today. Thanks for asking. I had a rough evening and night, so I’m guessing I cut back too far on my Motrin (I was trying to get by on half). That’s silly, I’ve realized, since it ruined my shot at a better night’s sleep.

              The young M is home today for a school holiday and the gentlemen are out back planting over 100 plants. The sun is shining but it’s much cooler with a shot at more rain on Sunday.

              Thanks for asking. One of the perks of being off my feet is this wonderful conversation with you.


              • You are so right re the motrin – a night’s sleep is good for healing [and sanity] so stick with the dosage that works for now. Try again when you feel a bit stronger.

                Siddy and I went out for a quick walk, I thought I saw a gap in the rain…….. but we got halfway to the park and it started up again. Feeling brave I continued on and as soon as we hit the halfway point of the big open field where all the running and jumping and happy times happen it bucketed down. We were both soaked to the bone within seconds. No point heading for home so we stayed out and played in the mud. My quick walk turned into a major fiasco with us both requiring showers and hair dryers and clean clothes – well that was just me – On the plus side the puppy is now asleep, the garden requires no watering and I can spend the day making Christmas gifts!!

                One hundred plants sounds a lot, but I’m guessing they will just disappear into the space. I planted those three shrubs in tubs outside my back door and thought that was a lot 😀

                Isn’t it nice just to shoot the breeze – perks of surgery and retirement!


                • Oh Pauline, what a story! I can just see you playing in the mud with Siddy. I’m glad you’re back home, warm and dry and as you say, a happy sleeping puppy and a water-free garden to boot. Not bad.

                  The year that Chris turned one was also a big rainfall year. We went to the park in the rain and he loved it. The place was deserted and he happily played for an hour till we were both soaked. I brought him home, hand him stand on the back porch while I supported him into a warm dishpan of water as we peeled off the muddy clothes. I’m sure deep naps followed on those days too, but that part is forgotten.

                  The amount of space to fill is vast: over 1,200 sq ft or 365 meters. It will look sparse for awhile till things fill in, but the plants will have a nice deep layer of mulch to keep the weeds down and the moisture in as they establish roots.

                  I envy you all your skills for making Christmas gifts. I can think of nothing original to do. Many,many years ago I would sew gifts: slippers for my family, a dress for Sharon, etc., but it has been a long time.


  2. Rest up and follow directions! So glad you have lots of help and pampering. I hope it heals soon and you can enjoy being home (supervising the garden), being cared for by cats, reading and writing.


  3. Get well soon Alys! I shall be thinking of you a lot over the next few weeks. Be patient and don’t be tempted to get up on your feet too soon. I’m so glad your garden project is finally underway! You have waited so long for it, and now you can sit back and watch it happen. I’m excited for you and look forward to an update soon!


    • Thank you, Cathy, for your well wishes and for your sage advice. It is nice to see the progress outside my window and even if I were well, I’m no longer up to this level of planting, soil prep, etc. It’s nice to pass on the work to someone else and then I’ll hopefully be well enough to prune and pick and admire as the roots take hold.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Kerry, it is indeed. For so long they couldn’t find out what was wrong. Then the time waiting for the surgery left me quite unsettled. I’m glad to be on the other side of this, healing and moving back to a healthier foot. The feline companionship is wonderful today and always, but especially comforting now.


  4. The next best thing to a visit it lots of pictures, so I’m happy as a birdie in a cozy nest this morning. All your kitty photo’s made me so happy. That’s a good one with Mouse sleeping sitting up, bahahaha. I actually do that quite often. I fall asleep trying to stay away and catch up on news on-line. I don’t want to miss anything.

    Glad to hear you’re feeling well enough to get around too, that knee scooter is a good idea. You must be glad your home is one level. It would be tricky here. Bedroom up, Laundry down.
    You mentioned how the kitties sense when somethings amiss. I totally think that’s true. Animals are very intuitive when it comes to this, aren’t they. I think we probably smell different when we’re ill or ailing. I’ve even heard of pets diagnosing cancer in their humans

    The garden looks well on it’s way. Really exciting I’m sure. That’s a long road to happiness and I’m overjoyed that it’s all coming together for you now too. You can watch the transformation while you recuperate and know that you’ll have a fresh, beautiful garden to relax in when they’re done. Off I go to finish a project b4 work. I miss your sweet face ❤ ❤ ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    • Isn’t Mouse the cutest? They’ve all been so affectionate this week, with Slinky continuing to be the biggest surprise. Yesterday Mouse settled himself on the arm of the couch next to my elbow but facing the window. Slinky was quite perturbed. She fussed about like a mother hen, expecting him to leave. Lots of free entertainment around here.

      I too fall asleep sitting up, but usually on the couch with Mike. It’s a wonder my neck is still attached.

      We are fortunate to have a one floor house. I remember, too, when Sharon was looking for her place, how difficult it was to find one floor condos. So many places are multi-level now to maximize property, but with an aging population, this will be tricky. In Iowa, Sharon had to invest in a lift to get from her house into the garage with her scooter, and also a chair lift to get her up and down to her basement level in case of a tornado warning, so much more common in places like Iowa. I’ve benefited this week from a one level house and our ramp when Mike wheeled me in and out of the house to go see my doctor. Even little things like our hallway toilet, two inches taller than standard, have helped with my independence.

      Animals are intuitive in many amazing ways. Our book club read a beautiful book called The Art of Racing in the Rain, told entirely from the dog’s perspective. The husband is a car racer, hence the title, and the mother is dying from cancer and the dog knows. I won’t recommend the book, though it was beautifully written, because it’s incredible sad throughout. Another book this is a delightful read is Making the Rounds with Oscar. It’s non-fiction, written by a geriatric doctor in a small hospital in the mid-west. An orange tabby named Oscar would make his way to the bedside of the next senior to die in the facility. Without fail, Oscar would insist on being with a certain patient in the last 24 hours of their life. He would hold a sort of vigil. Fascinating.

      And yes…exciting times in the garden. How I long to walk through the plants. All in due time.

      Yours, from the couch, xoxo

      Liked by 1 person

      • Dear Sofa Surfer, I’ve actually heard about this hospital cat I think. Or perhaps another kitty in another hospital. I’m so stoked that that hospital allows a pet to be in proximity. A great number of hospitals don’t and that’s crazy because it’s obviously an emotional lift to pet a kitty or dog visitor (unless it’s Oscar in the middle of the night I suppose…..yikes).
        Hey?! I thought your commode felt higher..haha!
        Hope all’s well in blanket land AKA kitty heaven. They’re probably having the best week ever 😀 We can draw great vibes from their happiness. A natural Rx, not found on drugstore shelves. xoxoxo K


        • Animals are such a gift. They make everything seem better when they’re around us. The local Humane Society, and probably many of them world wide, has a program with visiting kittens and puppies to senior homes. Sharon had a kitten visit her in the rehab center in Iowa when she was recovering from her broken hip. It was wonderful for her. A friend’s daughter has a service animal with her at college, trained to help with her anxiety (she has bipolar disorder and really struggles). The dog goes with her to classes and sits on her lap and lives in the dorm. How cool is that?!

          Oscar’s story was on 60 Minutes I believe and the subject of articles before he wrote his book. It’s actually a book on the process of aging and dying as well and despite the subject, is fairly uplifting.

          Liked by 1 person

          • Snicker, Oscar is pretty unique having written his own book……I’m sorry, I couldn’t help tease since that made me laugh. I can’t imagine life without pets. OMgosh, as I’m typing this, Petals and Blossum have begun slapping each other with their paws. They were sleeping angelically a minute ago. Sheesh, the time it took to type that and they’re back asleep, still spooning. All disagreements should be over that quickly, what a nice place our world would be. xox k


  5. I have a very strong feeling you are one who will try to rush to your feet as soon as possible maybe not taking quite enough time to heal. We always think that rest is a bad thing and very boring. I can see you won’t have the opportunity to be bored with all your furry family coming to make sure all is well. They know so much. Glad you are healing and all went really well. The yard will end up looking wonderfully refreshing. Anxious to see the end result. Sending hugs and healing thoughts.


    • Marlene, thanks for your hugs and healing thoughts, and darn if you don’t have me pegged. I worry that depression will set in if I sit idle for too long. But today I was on my own for the first time, did two small household chores, and had to sleep for two hours to recover. My body is saying “not yet” so I better listen up.

      Liked by 2 people

        • Marlene, do you think some of it has to do with being caretakers our whole lives? I’m so used to taking care of my boys, the cats, my clients, my sister and even my husband to a degree, though he’s a strong man that cooks and shops and enjoys taking care of me. And I was single till 35 so I always took care of myself, too. It’s hard to stop that train.

          But you are right: you pay. I was doing well most of the evening, then started having a repeat of some of the earlier pain. So I’m back to a full dose of Motrin, while continuing to hydrate, hydrate, hydrate.

          How’s your eye, my dear? Any improvement? Are you feeling better yourself and enjoying the cooler weather?

          Hugs back your way. We can do this all year.


      • Oh my goodness, are we getting lots of rain. Not unusual for us in the fall and winter months. I don’t think we had this much last year. Weekends for some reason have been drenching. But her it pours and stops so you can run an errand and get home before the next downpour. :)) Wish I had room for rain barrels. I was delighted to see you getting some rain and hope it continues. Huge hugs.


        • Oh yes! Drenching rains with a break for errands. Sounds perfect! My older son loves the rain like I do, so he sent me a photo of his rainy campus quad during the storm. He’s attending a nearby university but living on campus, his first time away from home. It was scary for us both at first, but he is doing so well. I couldn’t be prouder.

          How’s TS? Back with you for the winter or are things still in flux?

          Liked by 1 person

          • TS is back and busy trying to start a photography business. I heard him say on the phone to a workaholic friend in LA that he wants to do something creative with his life before he dies. Since his dad died at 42, he sees the clock ticking faster than most. I hope he pulls it off. I’m being as patient as possible.
            You should be proud of your son and as long as you expect the best, that’s what he will continue to deliver. He knows you believe in him and that gives him confidence no one can shake. He will do wonderfully. You and your husband have laid an excellent foundation. Huge hugs. :))


            • Thanks for those huge hugs, Marlene. Well received.

              Here we are: (((((Alys&Marlene))))

              I know all about those age milestones. My dad was 54 when he died, and it was surreal for me when I too reached that age. It becomes symbolic, even though my father’s death was from lung cancer after years of smoking hand-rolled, un-filtered cigarettes and a pipe, none of which I do.

              I hope he can make a go of his creative endeavor financially, and if not full time, then at least find a couple of things he enjoys that pay the bills.

              Thanks for your kind words about my son and our parenting. As you know, you go along hoping your doing your best, making mistakes along the way, but travel full steam ahead to what some of the experts call “good enough parenting.” It’s really all any of us can do.

              Are you missing your time alone, or is he busy enough that you can still carve out swaths of time for yourself?

              Liked by 1 person

              • Thanks,Alys. I am missing alone time but then think to myself this could be all the time we have together. Things can change in a heartbeat. He spends most of his time working on his computer in his room and affords me quiet time in the mornings and I give him his in the evening. I try to go out a couple of times a week with friends. I probably had less skill as a parent than you because I had no good role models. I just went by the seat of my britches and added lots of love tempered with non-physical discipline. It seems to have worked but my kids love and RESPECT me. That feels like success to me. They are kind and respectful to others. They speak the truth no matter the cost and are honorable in their word. I delight in them. You know the feeling or you will soon enough. We speak to each other kindly. To me, that was a big one. No words that sliced the soul. I will wait through the new year and start the clock ticking towards a forward movement. Sometimes you just have to give that bird a push. 🙂 Big hugs.


                • Love and discipline, which really means “to teach” are the backbone of good parenting. Non-physical discipline that offers guidance, consequences and appropriate modeling work well. Our boys, too, are respectful and kind, well-mannered and compassionate. I hope they both find there way in the world doing something they enjoy and are good at. I’ve reinvented myself several times, so I know that we learn as we go. They’re both bright and curious. The world awaits, but one so different from the one I grew up in.

                  You owe yourself a pat on the back for ditching the harsh parenting of your day and finding a compassionate way forward. xox

                  Liked by 1 person

  6. Alsy,
    Glad you are feeling better and that your kitties are keeping watch over you. The garden project looks very exciting! Can’t wait to see the finished product. I will check in on you later this week to see if I can do anything. Rest well.


    • Thank you, Charlie. It took a bit of convincing before all family members were on board, then the time to work with the city, but we are finally almost there. The lawn is out, the plants were delivered today, and the sun is shining so they can plant tomorrow. Over 100 natives!

      A good surgeon is definitely the way to go. It was a leap of faith to have this done. Onward, eh?


  7. So pleased for you that there has been a solution to your awful injury – I hope recovery isn’t too painful or arduous. I’m totally intrigued to see the “after” garden photos and your choice of native, drought-loving plants. We have so much rain that sometimes I think we should swap the hens for some ducks and the lawn for a lake:)


    • Thank you! It’s been a week today so I’m told the worst of the pain should begin to subside. I thought I would have more energy by now, so that is a bit of a surprise. Baby steps.

      I love your quote about swapping hens for ducks and the lawn for a lake. That is a lot of rain.

      Exciting times in the garden.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Sheryl!

      Your book arrived this week, the perfect pick me up! I’ll send a more appropriate thank you, but wanted you to know it arrived and how much I appreciate it. I’ve already thumbed through the pages, but can’t wait to give it full attention. xox


  8. Hope your well on your way to full health dear Alys. Gotta love ’em felines!!! Man, they know how to relax and heal don’t they? Them kitties know what you need and are helping you get it! Much love and hug to you. xx


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  10. I can’t believe I’m 11 days behind on your surgery, Alys 😦 I see I have a lot of catching up to do, but know that you’re in my thoughts as you convalesce 💕 I look forward to reading more about how you’re doing and seeing your front lawn take shape!


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