Embracing the Crazy

Remember last year when I told you our bushes were looking obscene? They had random branches growing out in all directions making rude gestures. (If you want to wander down memory lane, check out Trees with Attitude.)

Now, scraggly bushes may be commonplace at your house, but not at mine. The MR goes into this zen mode when he gets home from work caring for his yard. So I knew something was up when the shrubs where looking a little off.

The MR was aiming for another tier of growth on our decorative plants, and he urged me to be patient.

Well a year has gone by, and I do believe his little experiment is working. All that new growth appears to be rounding things out. I’ll have to admit; that guy of mine knows a thing or two.


The smoke bushes are responding even better—at least two out of the three are. 


Here’s hoping the next step requires a little trim.

Has your yard responded to the advent of summer?

 

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Unexpected vs. Uninvited

Unexpected guests can be a delightful thing. You hear a random knock only to find old friends on the doorstep. Suddenly, a quiet evening has turned into a party. Or out of the blue you get a text and your headed out for an evening of dinner, and laughter, and catching up.

We’ve even invited friends for a weekend away and had them show up with some tagalongs. The more the merrier; people are always welcome.

It’s the uninvited that bring me down; the uninvited garden guests to be specific. The MR took Cocoa for her evening walk the other night and found giant slugs dessicating our newly-planted columbine. And when I went down to the check the state of our garden I found unequivocal evidence of invaders.

The first sign was random onions tossed about.

Moving along, I found carrots similarly thrown aside. Invaders, let it be known, if you’re going to tear up my vegetables, you can at least have the decency to eat them.

But I had the last laugh. Whatever has been messing with my garden appears to have had a bit of trouble exiting.

Now that the weather seems to have turned—we’ve had a run of dry, hot days—I’ll have to see if the garden has dried out enough for proper weeding. It’s just so much more fun to work outside when it’s quiet and peaceful, and I can listen to the birds. For the next few weeks, my efforts will be accompanied by the sound of hammers as work on the deck continues.

To be honest me and the MR have been playing hooky for the last few days down in Mexico. We spent a long weekend with my brother and his lovely wife at the Viceroy down in Zihuatenjo. Good food and good friends coupled with sunshine made for a lovely weekend.

But now it’s back deck repairs, garden mishaps, and real life.

How do you get rid of those uninvited guests?

Sweet Sedums & Violets

Most times, the girls are busy with midterms and projects and haven’t made it home for Mother’s Day. That’s OK; the MR fills in in a pinch, but this year we had them both home together.

We were looking at wedding venues on Saturday, but Sweet Miss gave me these sedums early before they overheated in her car.

She’d painted the jars at her preschool, and while her kids added footprints, mine were plain. Perhaps her feet were a bit too big for canning jars.

I think they’re delightful. Her plan was that they’d wind up on the front porch, but for now, I’m enjoying their colorful addition to the table.

 

 

Rotten Luck

Sometime when you look at something from afar, it all looks fine. I’m one to think all is well and good, but the MR has a more discerning eye.

I think the deck is great; he says it’s falling apart. Hmm…guess whose right? I’m pretty lucky to have him around. While I might consider new curtains, I’m not that concerned about soffits. We have synergy; we’re better togther.

So when he suggested we have someone come out and look at the deck, I was totally agreeable. It seemed OK to me, but what do I know? Apparently not a lot when it comes to deck care and maintenance.

We appear to have some trouble.

The plan was to replace the 2×12 board all around the deck and remove and replace any rotting boards. Our contractors bid came in at a fairly reasonable price, and then they got started. 

We had much of the lower deck and stair landing replaced our first summer here, and we had the upper deck recoated two years ago, and half of it re-recoated last summer. How bad can it be? In a word, bad. 

Washington is a full disclosure state. When buy a home, the previous owners are required by law to tell you all about their home repair woes. This was a short sale; somehow the bank was in the middle of the deal and all that transparency wound up pretty murky. 

I thought we had a pretty clear picture of what we were getting into with our 100-page inspection report. The world is full of surprises. Turns out we’re finding all sorts of things no one told us about. 

The deck is surrounded by 38 metal posts that have drainage holes a little too high. So water sits in the bottom of the posts till the wood around them rots. Apparently, in the past they’ve replaced the wood around the posts and left them bolted into a piece of rotted wood or in some cases nothing. 

Our contractor is cutting the bolts from the bottom removing/replacing all rot, and then when we have the deck recoated in a few years, they’ll remove the bolts from the top and refasten them to solid wood—at least that’s the plan. 

Now you may be wondering how that solves the problem of the leaky metal posts; it doesn’t. So the plan is to drill a hole in the bottom of each post, attach tubing flush, and then run it back into the crawl space where it’ll drain harmlessly into the dirt. 


Our two week project has now been extended to three accompanied by a commensurate jump in price. May is turning into a noisy month. But I will feel safer once it’s all done. 


Ever have one of those projects that just kept getting bigger?

Striping It Orange

Something about this blanket makes me insanely happy.

Those bright stripes remind me of beach towels and cabanas, of summer and sunshine, of carefree, easy days.

I know, I know, somewhere in the world the sun is shining and summer is just around the corner. Well, here I listened to the torrential downpour as I lay in bed at 5 am, and I was thankful when the temps rose above 50-degrees. Yes, this is mid-May not mid-November. We have snow in the passes this week and an insane amount of rain here in the lowlands.

While the rest of the country is enjoying spring, we’re trapped in winter, so I’m clinging to my orange blanket and just a little hope.

It was only last week that I decided to put away the winter decor with the gray wool blanket the MR brought back from Iceland and the silly bird with earmuffs that’s graced the mantel since Christmas. Maybe Mother Nature is subject to the power of suggestion. I’m telling you now; we’re ready for spring here.

How do you combat the winter blues in your neck of the woods?

By the by, this isn’t a new purchase. I’ve gotten into the habit of rotating items seasonally. This was a lovely blanket I picked up a few years ago on a shopping spree with Baby Girl.  We bought pillows and blankets and other accessories to set the mood. Once upon a time, it found its home on a little chair by the fireplace, but I really like it nestled amongst the indoor plants on my reading chair. Check it out here.

 

 

Sweep & Scrub

I’ve been looking at the front porch lately thinking it needs a little help. The daphne I bought a few years ago just isn’t thriving. I need to buy some flowers or some shade plants that would add just the right punch of color.

But did I get around to it? No. And then we were having friends over for dinner, and our front porch looked like this.

We had spider webs, and bugs, and all sorts of nasty. In an effort to keep the daphne alive, I’d does it with some worm tea that overflowed all over the porch and runner. This is not warm and welcoming.

With picking up around the house, and getting things together for company, I didn’t have time to wander around looking for a plant for the front porch, so instead I grabbed my broom and swept away the dirt and dust. One of those magic erase sponges worked wonders on the plant ring and the threshold stains. A good hosing of the outdoor runner helped get rid of the worm tea.

Is is perfect? No. Is it warm and welcoming? I think so.

That's Cocoa's thumbs up ear in the photo. She likes this place, too.

I still want to do a little shopping and find some flowers for the step, but this time I think I’ll go for annuals, so when they die I won’t feel like a failure. And maybe the pillow from the little bench remake would be a better size for the chair.

Baby Girl’s painting is getting a little worn, but I can always swap it out for another one she made. And the MR has been power washing the deck this week (think of all those white railings), so maybe I can ask him to power wash the runner, too.

So many things I could do, but for now I’m happy with my sweep and scrub.

When has a little elbow grease worked wonders for you?

You can check out other plants I’ve killed in the name of a pretty front porch here and https://bigwhitehouseonthehill.wordpress.com/2014/06/04/first-impressions/ and https://bigwhitehouseonthehill.wordpress.com/2015/03/09/not-any-other-way/

 

 

 

 

It’s Not Going Away

You know how sometimes you ignore those little nuisances hoping they’ll just disappear? We’ve been doing that lately. We have a rattle that’s been driving me crazy. Let’s say you take 10 noisy refrigerators, stick them in a tiny room in your entry, close the door and pretend you don’t hear them. That’s kind of our problem except instead of refrigerators it’s the heating system that’s making all the noise. 

It’s taken me awhile to call because it’s just a little rattle, right? Before you know it, summer will be here and we won’t even need the heating system. Besides, when I call, they ask all these hard questions like is it the boiler? Or the heat pump? It’s the closet doesn’t seem accurate enough…

So a few weeks ago, I bit the bullet and made the call. Between my dad and the MR, I had a few key phrases to throw out. It sounds like a bearing is wearing out in the heat converter system. I’m pretty sure the lady on the phone could see right through me, but she scheduled a service call.

Sometimes a rattle is way more than a rattle—ugh. We have a leak in the system, major corrosion, seized up parts, and no heat. Hmm, maybe I should have called sooner. 

Apparently the tubing that runs under our feet and heats our floors lets in air that creates rust in the system. They have a plan, and they’ll be back, and they replaced the bad pump, so we now have heat. But yes, we still have that rattle. 

At least spring truly seems to have arrived with a string of rainless days. 


Every just ignore a rattle?