7:37 p.m. — Monday, July 10, 2006
(Oops, what happened to June?)
Before I begin: Happy birthday, Mom and Uncle David!
OK, now that that's covered....
I've discovered a pattern with my behavior concerning gardening: either I'm really into it — pouring over perennial magazines and Web sites, planning out my beds, spending hours a day working in the garden — or I'm really not. There does not appear to be an in-between.
Right now...? I'm really not.
So since I have no desire to go outside and pull weeds or water my new additions, I figured I'd write about them instead.
Early in the season, Ryan and I made a trek to my friend Tamara's house (whose lovely perennial gardens I have mentioned — and gawked at — before) to help her "thin out" her overabundance of plantings.
Meaning...? Help add to my fledgling collection ;)
Ryan was the primary digger and waterer, while Tamara and I chit-chatted about plants and what needed dividing and what was going on where we work. Thank goodness he was there or nothing would have gotten done.
(Did I mention he is upstairs cleaning the toilet at the moment...?)
Tamara carefully labeled each pot and we eagerly loaded up the back of the truck. It's times like this we're especially grateful for the pick-up. Dirt spilling out all over? BIG DEAL.
I was exhausted from all the hard talking, er, digging by the time I got home, so I gave the plants a good drink and left them in the grass for the next day. That night, we got a downpour, and a lot of the labels were either unreadable or covered in splattered mud when it came time to plant them, which made planting a little more difficult. Since nothing was blooming yet, and Tamara was sure to label everything, I didn't pay quite as much attention to what was in each pot as I probably should have.
Who am I kidding. Knowing the names wouldn't have helped me know any better what they were going to look like or how big they were going to get.
So I began planting at random. "Hmm, I have a lot of this plant...I'll spread it out here and here and here." Or "This one looks kind of tall...I'll put it over here in the back." Well when things started to bloom later in the month, I realized the error of my ways. The beautiful, profuse yellow Sundrops were hidden way behind my ever-expanding mums, on their way back from last fall. The Rose Campion was way too tall for its shorter companions. The only thing I got right was the orange daylilies. I am certainly familiar with those.
I am hoping to move most plants again in the fall so come next spring and summer, my perennial beds will be fuller and more well thought-out.
Oma and Ryan's mom have also made further contributions to my gardening adventures. Oma dug up a whole bunch of Daffodils and Hyacinths for me this spring, and put me under strict orders to keep them out of the ground and in their pots until proper planting time in the fall. Ryan's mom dug up six or seven Stella d'Oro Lilies that were overcrowding their neighbors, and divided three variegated Liriope for me. These were all happy contributions to the yard.
As far as the grass goes (or grows), Ryan has been hard at work. Many neighbors have stopped by to say they've never seen the lawn look better, and we've certainly never seen it look better since WE'VE been tending to it. I am very proud of Ryan's efforts and finally feel free to walk in the grass barefoot.
It's funny how much the simple things can make you smile, like being able to run barefoot in your own yard.
Here are some more yard photos...
The Hosta I dug up from Emily's garden last fall (she was going to toss them!) have multiplied and are looking beautiful throughout the yard...
None of the Black-Eyed Susans I transplanted at the same time seem to have survived (they were planted behind this row of Hosta) but there are plenty of lilies coming through the fence on the other side, so that works for me!
The "patio" and rock wall we built last year have seen little progress. It was a most excellent weed pile until we finally decided that we could not decide what to do with this area and just pulled the weeds and mulched in the meantime. Voila — instant patio.
Here is the front left pine tree and my latest effort to plant beneath it. This time, I decided to skip the annuals that never got enough water/sun under the heavy pine branches (um, except the coleus — I couldn't help myself) and planted perennials...Hosta from my neighbor and two bareroot Bleeding Heart from Home Depot. Only one of the roots has shown any sign of life, as you can see in the foreground, and I am very much looking forward to seeing tiny pink hearts dangling from these healthy stems next year. The Hosta can't decide whether or not it wants to survive here.
And finally, here is a close-up of the lone rose bloom on the bush
I bought from Home Depot last year. It was blooming poorly in the super-shady
side yard, where I planted it last fall, so this spring, I moved it
to the corner of my front left bed. After a stagnant couple of weeks
and much tender loving care, I saw my first rose of the season. An effort
well worth it.
10:14 a.m. — Tuesday, July 11,
4:32 p.m. — Wednesday, July 12,
Here's a photo of our Luxaire condenser that was taken just after it was installed last April:
For the last two summers, we've had a problem with bees nesting underneath this hollow base (it has no bottom — just a top and sides). No amount of bee killer seems to deter their swarming and chasing. Ryan's had a lot of problems mowing around this area — there is grass now — and I've made sure to not include it in my planting or weeding plans.
So we've decided to use some of the huge cement pavers we have lying around the yard (doesn't everyone have a backyard full of these...?) to build a proper, bug-free base for the condenser. This is easier, cheaper, and less permanent than having a cement pad poured. Unfortunately, I am quite unable to help Ryan hoist this massive unit off the ground and I am definitely not going near it knowing what is waiting for us underneath.
This is when another family workday would REALLY come in handy...
9:12 p.m. — Tuesday, July 18, 2006
My favorite thing about my garden is my heirloom plants. I have flowers from my Oma, Ryan's mom, a few friends, and at least two neighbors.
And within the last two weeks, I've struck heirloom gold. My first cousin once removed (stay with me here) promised to give me some of her Russian Sage (which has been at the top of my "Must Have" list for a while), white Daisies, and Monkshood when September rolls around.
Then Sunday, at my best friend's bridal shower - thank you for FINALLY getting engaged because honestly a girl can only answer "Not yet; leave them alone" to the question "Are they married yet??" so many times before going CRAZY - Nancy's mom promised me some of her beautiful tall Cleome. The best part is that they originally came from the school where she works that I went to from K-12.
10:16 p.m. — Sunday, July 23, 2006
Figured it's been a while since I've posted some house photos. I'd especially like to show off Ryan's wonderful green grass.
And in case anyone wonders why the house photos are always taken from this angle, here's why:
Yeah, we have a lot of pine trees.
And one struggling, miserably hacked-at maple tree, which— from the end of the street — looks like it has bunny ears:
But one thing we never had was beautiful grass underneath all these trees:
Once we repave the driveway, this whole corner will be spruced up real nice. To the left to our house in the photo above, you can catch a glimpse of how our house used to look. Joe's house is an exact replica of our old house — except in beautiful, spotless, original condition. No termites, rot, asbestos, or cracks in the foundation.
Barbara's house on the right of ours (left in the photo below) is a mirror image of our old house, though her carport was an addition. The house to the right of hers was the fourth and final in our set of little identical 50s ranches. You can see their version of a 2nd story addition was a little different than ours.
I love driving by Barbara's house every day on the way to and from ours. Her perennial gardens are so beautiful. I especially love it when her Lilies, Black Eyed Susans, and other assorted beauties slip under the fence onto our side ;)
The end of the driveway leads to the side yard, where we also never had grass before. This area was full of assorted rocks, cement chunks, pieces of slate, and pavers of various sizes. Lest you think they are out of our hair for good...
...Ta-da! They have just been relocated to the back of the driveway. The pile is as high as the trailer.
I'm looking forward to edging some beds or creating a pathway with all the extra bricks, though they'll have to be turned on their sides so the holes don't show.
10:10 a.m. — Monday, July 24, 2006
One of the big projects holding us up was the master bath; specifically, choosing tile for the master bath shower. Many moons ago (I believe it was October — yikes!), we decided to tile the master bath floor a dark brownish-blackish tile with lots of movement to it. We liked it so much, we decided to use it on the walls outside the shower and on our kitchen floor, as well. About a month ago, we found a matching tile for the shower walls down south near Ry's folks.
This Saturday, my dad came up to help us begin tiling the walls. Our goal was to get the areas outside of the shower completed, and tackle inside the shower another day.
(Click on any photo below to enlarge...)
(The wall is really much greener than it looks in the photo above...reminds me of greenboard most of the time, actually...)
You can get a sneak peak inside the shower in the photo above. The shower is 3'x6' with a 1' seat at the back and a white 3'x5' American Standard shower pan on the floor. We are paranoid about leaks and felt a solid surface under foot was more trustworthy than tile. The tiles outside the shower are the same 12" tiles as on the floor, and 4.5" square tiles that match the 2" square tiles in the photo above will go on the shower walls. This 2" border will continue throughout the shower, as well, though we're not yet sure at which height.
8:10 a.m. — Tuesday, July 25, 2006
A while ago, Ryan's mom gave us a Home Depot tiling book. Does she know us or what? I was always intrigued by one of the photos in it of tile as trim around a window. Ryan and I decided the 1" tile border in our guest bath floor would look great around the window in there.
The problem was that this was more of a "fun" project — not so much a "functional" project. So while the rest of the bathroom has been completely finished for over a year, the poor window remained rough and untrimmed...
...Until this weekend.
I absolutely love how this turned out. We still have to grout the tile, add the sill, and find some real blinds (you know, the non-paper kind), but now every time I walk into the bathroom, this window makes me smile.
Here's how it all went down...
We cut strips of 1/4" plywood as a backing and framed the inside and outside edges with 1/2" square strips of pine. Then Ryan assembled and glued this all together so he could route the interior (edges that would be against the tile) with a nice cove edge. Once everything was glued, routed, and painted, he nailed the frame to the wall.
I was happy he nailed it on under where the tile would go, so no hole-filling was involved. I think I've filled enough holes for a lifetime.
And while Ryan and my Dad had the lovely pre-mixed wall cement out on Saturday, we took advantage of the already-dirty tools and tile saw and added the tile into the frame.
Here's how it looks all together:
10:47 a.m. — Wednesday, July 26, 2006
One fine evening, Ryan and I were just about to head out the back door for a nice evening stroll around the neighborhood, when lo and behold, what is that strange puffy white substance coming out the bottom of the dishwasher...?
Seems one of us who shall remain nameless thought it would be OK to run the dishwasher with regular dish soap instead of dishwasher soap. Looks the same, does the same thing, what could possibly happen?
So yeah. Lesson learned. The next time one of us decides to use the wrong soap, he or she will be certain to listen to the other one of us who says, "Um, I think that will cause a problem...maybe we should take it out and not just add dishwasher soap on top of it." Not that spending our evening rotating and emptying seed starter lids from under the dishwasher wasn't WAY more exciting than going for a stroll...
(Truth be told — don't tell anyone I said this — but it was actually pretty funny. Not saying we'd want to relive that experience on a regular basis, but we laughed a lot...one of those "d'oh" moments. "Yeah, we can wire our whole house, but cleaning the dishes? That's a different story.")
5:02 p.m. — Thursday, July 27, 2006
This is what we sometimes do for fun:
You should have seen the tractor-trailers he built. Without plans. Very impressive.
10:04 a.m. — Friday, July 28, 2006
Tiling the bathroom walls was our first time using pre-mixed wall cement. We felt that the regular bags of powder that you mix with water would not hold the tile in place on the wall as we worked, and my dad knew that this pre-mixed stuff was the way to go. That's why he's still the family tile expert.
So off to Home Depot we went. We bought the biggest, strongest pre-mixed stuff we could find. Our particular big bucket ($45! yikes) is rated to hold up to 16"x16" tiles, which would be more than adequate for our 12"x12", 6"x6", and 2"x2" tiles — better safe than sorry.
This thick white goop spreads on a little like cake-frosting and is much easier to use than regular drippy floor cement. Once you apply the cement and twist and squish the tile into place, this stuff sucks the tile to the wall like we never thought possible...absolutely no slippage.
The biggest bonus was that we weren't in a time crunch to get all the tiles on the wall before the cement dried out. When we felt like taking a break for lunch or pausing to reconsider that tricky corner, we simply closed the lid and walked away. And let me tell you, not being in a race against your tile cement is a beautiful thing.
12:01 p.m. — Monday, July 31, 2006
It's been well over a year since we've had inspectors visit Raise The Ranch, so we're a little antsy about the two coming tomorrow for our Final Fire and Final Electrical inspections. Yesterday, we even had trouble locating the original set of township-stamped blueprints — hidden so safely we couldn't find them!
So tonight is clean clean clean night. We're hoping all goes well, and that we will soon be ready for our Final Plumbing (once the master bathroom is done!) and Final Building (once the countertops are done!) inspections, because only after we pass all these will we at last receive that ever-elusive CERTIFICATE OF OCCUPANCY.
That will be a party-worthy day...