A Look Back at June 2017

I’ve been doing these monthly blog posts forever—or five years, whichever comes first—and I decided it was time to shake things up a little. Sometimes you gotta add a little spice to keep things new and fresh.

OK, so it’s just a collage and numbers, not that exciting, but it’s what we’ve got, so enjoy.

  1. It Doesn’t Look Like Much started the month off with a look at our new kiwi vines. Sadly one has died, but the other two are plugging along—make that one, the other is in dire straights. Remind me not to go out of town when it’s hot, and I’m babying plants. It’s going to be a while before we have vines covering the fence but we have time.
  2. This Old Dog is a sucker for an interesting book. So while I’ve been trying out some new techniques, Interweave had a sale, and I’ve stocked up on a few more. I even shortened the table runner just like the MR suggested.
  3. Clean Up the Mess is never a bad idea—even when it comes to the outdoors. While yes, we did have bits of construction debris, the now-spent lilies looked lovely after I cleaned away the daffodil leaves.
  4. This Old Dog Part II (because once is never enough) had me climbing through the treetops and blowing glass with the MR. Our ornaments turned out wonderfully well. We may have discovered a new pasttime.
  5. What’s That Smell? Why it’s your experiment with patchouli and string, you silly woman. While the delphinium still looks pathetic, our columbine looks much better. A couple flowers can make anything look better, right? And after a week or two outside, it still smells.
  6. That Trickle Down Effect talked about how once you’ve started making changes things just keep going. First I changed the coverlet, then I couldn’t ignore the fact that our sheets were tearing, and so it was new sheets, and then new shams. I’m still waiting for the shams…they’re in the mail. You’ve heard that line. And for inquiring minds, Papa Larry bought his sheets at Lake Havasu Linen Company which is now London Bridge Linen Company. They offer custom sheets. He says they’re pricey but worth it. So now we’ve all weighed in on the matter.
  7. Changing Perspective highlighted carrot leaf bouquets. Yes, you read that right. So much of life is about perspective. You can grumble about the overwintered carrots that are too tough to cut with a knife, or you can decorate your house with them. Your friends will never guess what they are.

And now for all the news that didn’t make it into the blog. We had everyone home along with the MR’s folks for a bit this month.  Baby Girl is off to Europe to study wonderful things till September. And Sweet MIss is starting a new job, moving to a new city, marrying a great guy, and searching for the perfect dress and ceremony site. Lucky us; we get to be part of it all.

MeeMee and Papa are visiting, so we’ve had lazy evenings on the deck playing cards and discussing the mysteries of life, relaxing sunset walks, quick trips across the state, and crazy owl fights. And yes, the deck guys are still working—don’t ask. It’s just another day in the life.

Hope June left you feeling happy and blessed just like us.

 

 

 

 

What’s That Smell

You’ve heard me complain about deer before. I can hear you saying, “Oh they’re so pretty. Look at that mother and baby. Wow.” You’re speaking in an awed, reverential tone, because nature is so cool.

And I can totally agree with you up to a certain point. Nature in the forest, in the parks, in the preserves is amazing. Beautiful deer walking in the meadow are fun to see. Deer in my garden, tearing down my fruit trees, eating my vegetables, and nibbling on my flowers evoke a different sentiment.

So when a friend of mine gave me a printout on controlling pests with essential oils, I was eager to give it a try. Now, my friend sells high quality oils for human use; I decided not to be so picky when it came to keeping away the deer, slugs, ants, mice, and bugs of all kinds. Of course, the essential oils I had in my craft supplies were more about smelling good, so the only oil from the list I had on hand was patchouli.

Last Saturday, before I headed off to a day at the knit shop, I mixed up a bowl of water and several drops of patchouli oil, I added a length of garden twine, and merrily went off to work. When I walked in the back door that evening, I was certain we had a problem. Did the trash need to be taken out? Had someone forgotten to run the disposal? Did something get spilled under the sink? What was that horrible smell? Turns out it was my bowl of string which promptly found a home out on the deck away from my nose.

Yesterday morning broke bright and fair, so I grabbed my scissors and stinky string and visited some of the straggly plants that need protection. We have a delphinium that’s stripped bare and a red-twig dogwood that will never catch up with the rest of the row if it keeps getting nibbled.

Maybe a length of string will protect the geraniums the MR planted and keep my columbine blooming.

To be fair, patchouli is supposed to protect against slugs, aphids, and fleas, so I really don’t know if deer will mind it, but hey it’s free, so why not? I certainly wasn’t enamored with the smell.

Meanwhile this week, everyone is in town. Baby Girl came home from school last week, the MR’s parents arrived on Sunday, and Sweet Miss came home after her new job training on Monday. Papa Willy has been out twice, and Our house is full of people, laughter, and excitement.

So while us girls went wedding dress shopping on Wednesday, the MR  planted a dozen lavendar Papa Larry picked up for us. Over the wet winter, we lost some of our larger plants, but at least the deer don’t eat them. They’re a welcome addition to the steep slope below the well room. We’re always in search of that swath of purple.

At our last two homes, we’ve had rose campion growing in the untended areas. It can take over, but maybe it’s just what we need for the meadow and some of the slopes. We were rather pleased to see a pocket of it near the Russian sage and the retaining wall.

This week we’re welcoming summer, high temps, and new adventures.


Hoping your summer is eventful, too.

 

 

 

Clean Up the Mess

I remember way back when, when the daffodils were in bloom. The profusion of yellow blossoms made me smile as I drove down the driveway. They were lovely…until they were not.

When I went to the garage to tie up the stems, I couldn’t find my garden twine. I did finally make it to the hardware store, but in the intervening weeks, they’ve turned brown, so all i had to do was cut them off.

Doesn’t this look much better?

 

I staked up on if the lilies that had been stepped on and took other broken flowering bits inside. I didn’t clean my up all the wood and debris; I figured I’d wait till the deck guys have finished up. 

Despite all, these are some beautiful flowers. 

And it took less than a half hour, three trips to the compost, and two dead slugs to get here. 

You can check out why I keep those silly daffodils here. 

https://bigwhitehouseonthehill.wordpress.com/2014/06/09/daffodil-detail/
 https://bigwhitehouseonthehill.wordpress.com/2014/03/13/spring-has-come/

Or maybe you’d like to remember with me how Sweet Cocoa helped me plant those lilies. 

https://bigwhitehouseonthehill.wordpress.com/2013/06/28/june-in-review/
What’s blooming in your garden? I’d love to see pictures. 

How Did May Fair 2017?

The other day, the MR says to me, we have workers here a lot at this place… Why yes, yes we do. This is the first day in weeks that I haven’t had my daily routine accompanied by pounding. I’m enjoying the peace and quiet albeit short lived.

We started off the month checking out that noise that Wasn’t Going Away. Turns out that hum from the mechanical room in the entry wasn’t a ball bearing going out; it was pumps seizing up from rust—uggh. It was another day and lots of dollars later that we got it all fixed up. I told the MR I was glad it didn’t happen in the middle of winter, but than he replied at least we’d have noticed if it was cold outside.

While I’m still looking for a shade-loving color bowl for the front steps, it’s amazing what a difference a simple Sweep & Scrub can make. Getting rid of the cobwebs certainly makes your front door more inviting.

On gray days, and yes it’s full on spring and we’ve still had quite a few rainy, overcast days, my Striping It Orange throw keeps me smiling—there is hope. When you can’t have sun outside, a little bit color inside just might do the trick.

While the heating guys were here for a few days, it’s the deck guys that have been a constant. You see we’ve had some Rotten Luck literally. While the upper deck is mostly done, they still have the stair landing and hot tub removal on the docket. Sadly for us, they found a lot more rot than expected extending the project by a few weeks and a few dollars, so they’re taking a break for another job and will be back in mid-June to finish up. Until then, at least it’s getting closer.

When I was talking about Embracing the Crazy, the MR’s experiment with pruning, I noticed one of the smoke trees wasn’t cooperating.

Turns out getting to the soffit on the steep slope hasn’t been beneficial for that middle tree. Several of its limbs are on the ground. I’m not complaining; this is not an easy house to work on and don’t even think about getting me up on a ladder. Next year, when it’s not in the middle of the action it’ll start shooting up.

The MR went around and pruned immediately after I’d taken photos. The evergreen near the deck is starting to take shape although it still looks a little crazy.

You may have noticed the bougainvillea inside has now become the bougainvillea outside. When it starts heating up, we like to move some of the larger plants out on the deck. Now when I’m sitting on the little couch, I smell the sweet scent of lemon. And the hummingbirds vist our bougainvillea.  I bet they’ll visit the plumeria too, if it ever decides to bloom.

As we were moving pots out, we moved pots in. Sweet Miss brought me sedums for Mother’s Day. Now I have Sweet Sedums & Violets on the dining room table. Her plan was to set the out on the steps, but I’m not ready to see them go just yet.

As for the Unexpected vs. Uninvited guests, the Mr has been working on that. We have a new post in place, and he has posts and straps, and netting, and big plans. I’ll keep you posted. (How many times can I use the same word in a paragraph?)

Unfortunately, something’s still getting in. I’m not sure if it’s slugs or bunnies eating the onions. Perhaps I need to throw a party for the slugs, or Cocoa needs to catch a few of the rabbits she loves to chase.

At least the weather has been nice, and we’ve been able to get outside a bit.

In other May news, Baby Girl mentioned how much she liked the flowers before noticing they were the ones we bought together; Mexico was lovely and relaxing; the MR’s new TV is incredibly thin and lightweight, so I didn’t worry about it crashing down on my head while I helped him hang it in place; the local LYS tour was great; hummingbirds are rather violent and territorial; and life is good.

Hoping May faired well for you.

 

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?

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?

A Look Back at March 2017

Waking to the sound of rain, sometimes I wonder if spring will ever come. With the weather we’ve been having lately, it seems to have abandoned us even though the calendar says otherwise.

Perhaps that’s why I was so surprised to see a hummingbird seated on this shepherd’s crook as I passed through our bedroom the other day. He seemed to be chiding me for not having the feeder out when he was here for a visit. Soon my friend, I will sit out in the mornings, drinking my coffee, and laughing at your antics, but I won’t do that in the pouring rain.

Me and the MR enjoyed a breath of Spring Inspiration at the Seattle Home and Garden Show. The air was heavily scented with flowers, and I can’t wait to put our outdoor seating to use.

Sadly, this is not our outdoor seating–just inspiration. But a girl can dream.

Daffodils greet us with their bright cheery heads, and hyacinths are just beginning to open. On the one sunny day last week, I spent a few hours working in the garden. All this rain can’t last forever.

Maybe it’s a good thing we’ve been stuck indoors. Otherwise, we might not have noticed that certain scent that proved Life is Messy. The sink is no longer in the entry, all the holes have been filled, textured, and painted, and the exterminator gave me hope when he told me it’s only mice—that’s still not my favorite thing.

I may not be Saving the Planet, but I’m trying to make little changes that decrease my footprint. Earth Day’s coming up; it’s time to step up my game. I don’t want to leave a mess for future generations.

 

I shared with you our banner Citrus Harvest—three whole lemons this year. That’s a 50 percent increase in yield. I was feeling pretty good till we visited the MR’s cousins down in the LA-area, and their friend had trees dripping with lemons, clementines, and grapefruit. I’m just going to be content with what I have. The whole family got to enjoy the fruits of our labors with a yummy lemon pie; it was even full-sized this year. We’re getting there.

And finally, the new carpet came. It’s beautiful, soft, squishy-between-my-toes, wonderful. If you haven’t noticed, I’m rather in love. Now I promised a photo of the guest room—the one with the biggest change going from dark emerald to a lovely morning mist. This will not disappoint.

OK, maybe you’re not oohing and aahing as much as I’d like, but let’s go back a ways. Remember when it was a catch-all sewing/storage/mess?

Like those old ads from the ’70s “You’ve come a long way, baby.”

And sometimes this monthly recap is all about the stuff that didn’t make it in the blog. Like having both girls home for a few days is awesome and exhausting. Baby Girl turned 20, and Sweet Miss is planning a big move and had an exciting job interview. Me and the MR chased the sunshine to California. While it was in the 90’s the week before we arrived, the 70’s felt warm to us. And we explored most of the beach at Santa Monica before it started raining.

All and all, life is good even with holes in the wall, rain, and mice.

How was your March?