Friday, August 26, 2011

Summer to Autumn

Last post for today.  August 19, a week ago (!) was our 33rd Anniversary.  Tom called to ask if there was anything I needed him to pick up on his way home.  After discussing dinner, and knowing how he thinks, I assured him that I did not want that to include a bouquet of flowers.  You know, all romantic and such.

I said I'd prefer to have some nice live mums for autumn colors.  Did I mention I'm thrifty (or cheapskate, depending on your pov)?

This is what he picked out at Lowe's the next day, planters and all!

Those pretty yellow flowers are actually from a run away flowerbed next to the deck.  Somewhere in all those volunteers are two rose bushes and some flowering bushes.  Maybe in between helping with the fence tomorrow I'll get busy and weed out that bed and the strawberry bed!  Or not.  Depends on how I feel.

The lettuce, rosemary and peppers I planted are still growing, despite benign neglect.  The dahlias have slowed down with their blooms, the daisies are getting a second wind, and the other flowers died back, but have sent up more green (probably begging not to be dumped out to make room for the avocados.)  The peppers won't produce, but I really have a hard time dashing their hopes and dreams of producing fruit.  I'll probably let the first frost take care of that.

As you can see by these close-ups of our deck, that will probably be next year's project.  That and the driveway rebricking.  Sigh.  I'm tired just thinking about next summer.  So I won't.  Instead, enjoy your almost last August weekend!

Winter Wood

This is what our woodpile looked like last winter.  Well, I remember taking a picture, but can't find it.  I'll add it when I track that little bugger down.  Rest assured, it was a HUGE, HUGE pile.  Before the truck arrived we thought it would be a nice amount.  When the dump truck arrived, we were all astonished.  The neighbors were, too, and probably to their dismay.  "Who knows what those yanks will do next!" must have been running through their minds.

It practically covered our entire 3rd side of the driveway and took us a week to get moved and stacked in the backyard.  It has diminished down to this much.  I'd estimate we used about 70% of what was there.

Tom built a wood rack, and slowly (when the fence is done, and now that it has cooled off) Peter will continue splitting and stacking what is left here:

We are seriously considering having an wood burning insert installed.  The clay lining is original to the house, the fireplace smokes, and I'd like more of a reassurance that sparks will be contained than this screen can provide.  

Don't get me started on the fireplace.  We "thought" we wanted one.  And we still do.  We just disagree on what it should look like.  Tom likes the broken in, folksy look.  I, well, I'm not all that thrilled by this huge wall of brick.  But, life has far more important issues to contend with.  For now, I'll just be happy to have the mess made a bit more orderly.

Posting About Posts

It all started with a puppy.

Our neighbors decided to get a puppy.  Cute, adorable little rag mop.  As we all know (but tend to have amnesia about) puppies grow.  Puppies are curious.  And puppies don't always do what we want them to.  That includes staying in the back yard.

So Lori came over in desperation early in August and mentioned that they were going to have a gate installed, and wanted to make certain it was okay with us.  Long story short .. that weekend we saved them a bunch of money, and with their help installed this!  John, the spouse of Lori, learned that he was a lot handier than he thought he was.

There was this section of fence installed, as well, in place of the 4' tall chainlink that separated our yards.

Tom and mostly Peter dug all the post holes for this project by hand.  That and a sawZall for roots.  Last night they pickup up a powered posthole digger and got busy early this morning.

Now all the postholes are dug.  They still had to rely on some help from the sawZall for stubborn roots.  But, between 7:15 and 8:15 am, they dug 10 holes.

Tonight Tom will be picking up the new posts, and I suspect he, Peter and me will be cementing in those same posts.  By the end of the weekend, it should look vastly different.  I think it will improve neighborly relations, and enhance both our yards.

Tom also listed the chainlink and fence parts on Kijiji (for free) and received 5 responses in less than an hour. So, that means this won't be in our yard by tonight!

Furniture Project

The weekend after we were in Nevada for the 4th of July, and after Tom returned from a double red-eye trip to Yellowknife and the NICO project, he and Peter built a desk, bookcase headboard, and replaced the top of his dresser.

It was a very quick, not easy, but nice project for them to do together.  And it gave Peter some great pieces to enjoy alone time in his bedroom.

This was originally an armoire.  Tom built one for each of our children when we lived in Houston.  For Peter, and to accomodate his first room in this house the top part had to be removed.  His room was the spare room over the garage.  Being the attic space that means half height walls with slanting ceiling.  After enduring a frigid winter, and sweltering summer we convinced him to move into his present room.  Now his chest of drawers has a new, finished top and looks 100% better.

The simple desk and converted waiting room chair.  We bought 8 or 10 of these at a yard sale.  With the simple addition of castors they are are the right height for deskwork.  Tom uses the same chair with castors in his den.

The big project they tacked was the headboard.  Tom designed it to have side "tables" and a slanted back to the top.  That makes is easy for Peter to read in bed at night.  All of it was built with MDF.  It was a great father/son project.  Peter learned a bit about planning, layout, cutting, assembly and finally finishing.  He did all the sanding, and most of the priming and painting.  He even chose the color.  I think I'll start having him help me choose colors for the rest of our projects (that is until he leaves the nest.)  In the meantime, I have plenty of projects for him to do that I can't.  Having a tall strong son is so nice!  And I'm glad he now has "real" furniture for his private retreat.

New Walkway

Since moving here, in order to use our back yard gate we had to walk across grass, and mud.  To remedy that Tom and Peter put in a nice paved walkway while I was in Houston visiting with Meghan and Kate.

They have a bit more work to do, since the gate can only open about 6".  Oops!  Just need to lower the slabs.

Peter "earned" those nice 24" x 18" concrete pavers by doing some yardwork for a work acquintance of Tom's. He got paid, and in exchange for using our truck, tools and gasoline, the salvaged pavers were ours.  Peter hauled them into the truck, then out and into the backyard.  After sitting against the house for 2 months, Tom and Peter did this nice walkway for me.

A Lawn! A Lawn!

Last summer we had mostly dirt with a few weeds gracing our back yard.  Apparently the weed and feed we used wiped out the "grass" which must have not been all that much.  It was decimated, and a huge embarrassment for our Rinaldi family celebration a year ago August.

Well, here is evidence that we now have a lawn.  No sod, just me pulling out obnoxious weeds (they were not noxious, just not what I wanted to grow) last June.  Plenty of overseeding, after which we waited.  Tom insisted we'd have to rototill everything, and put in sod.  Me, being the cheapskate that I am, insisted that grass seed and time were a lot cheaper (and a whole lot less work.)  I won!  Well, not really.  We all won.  Instead of a back mud pit, we have grass.

It isn't perfect .. I do like to see more than just grass growing.  As long as Peter keeps it mowed and trimmed, it looks like a lush lawn.  Just don't get picky on me, or I might do to you what I did to those obnoxious plants last spring.  Not really, but just shush up if you are someone who believes that green lawns should all be one type of plant.

Our lawn, resurrected!

Our neighbor's lawn, which is always picture perfect.
As for those holes, my fence post will explain.  Pun thoroughly intended!

They Are Growing!

What started as left-overs from preparing guacamole in June are now... taa... daaa...

Once we get more potting soil, they will go into larger pots, and become our first "house plants."  We hope they get as large as Peter's back in Houston.  He started it as a homeschool science project about 9 years ago and it is quite large, and growing in the backyard.  It survived hurricanes, torrential rains and negligent renters. Now we can only hope it survives the current drought.

The little babies won't be planted outside, of course!  We know avocados can't stand getting frozen, even a little bit.  So our tropical newbies will stay nice and warm in front of our south facing windows this winter, snug by the fire, just like us!