Deck Days

Hello, it’s been awhile. Sadly when I disappear from the blog for weeks, it makes it that much harder to come back. You see, life keeps going and all sorts of things happen, so I’m no longer searching for something to say, I’m trying to narrow down the possibilities.

Do you want to see the garden or hummingbird fights? The orchard or views of snow-topped peaks? Weekend trips, faux-stucco repair, or the latest on the remodel? See what I mean?

Let’s forget all that for now and enjoy a little time on the deck. With beautiful views of the valley, it’s where you’ll find us afternoons most clear days. Even in the middle of winter with our heavy coats, hand-knit hats, and the help of the heater, you’ll find us outside.

A few years back, I bought a pair of rattan lounge chairs. We’ve replaced the seat cushions a few times, and they’ve been the perfect place to watch sunsets and enjoy a glass of wine just the two of us.

But what happens when Baby Girl or Sweet Miss are home? Or when friends or family are visiting? Suddenly we’re moving the heavy metal swivel chairs from the deck table that we keep meaning to replace from side to side trying to forge conversation areas in the shade when it’s extra hot moving to the western side as the day cools.

The deck wraps around the whole first floor from our room to the laundry room. So as you can guess, we’ve been looking for chairs, furniture, tables, something to help with the situation. The MR wanted comfort, and I wanted mobility. While the deck is ginormous, it’s only 88 inches deep in most places. Oversized comfy furniture is just too wide to easily navigate around.

The MR found a double set on Overstock a few weeks back, and this may be the answer.

First, as with everything, it came at a price. Two nice fellows came in a very big truck to deliver two pallets of parts.

The MR was out, but we had the perfect spot for them in the garage. It only took him three hours to unwrap all the pieces.

The next day, while I was teaching Sunday school, he put together the first chair.

From there, it just got easier and easier—sort of. It’s teak furniture that requires a sealer after a few days out in the elements. I left for a three-hour shift at the yarn shop, while he was brushing sealer on one chair. He’d just finished its twin and taken a shower when I arrived home nearly four hours later. Sometimes it’s nice to have a job.

So now we have a shady side seating set and a sunny side seating set plus a few rattan chairs to bring into the mix.

Adding a rug helps bring the set together. With brown-on-brown, I think a few accent pillows are necessary. I found some at Target for $15 and some at Molbak’s for $35, but I wasn’t that excited about any of them, so I’m still looking. A few accessories, and our new furniture will be wonderful.

We also need to trim back the Japanese variegated willow that’s encroaching on the deck and sweep up the cottonwood that’s everywhere. Add some live plants, candles, knickknacks, can’t you just imagine?

I’ll let you in on a secret, I filled the hummingbird feeder, and this is the perfect spot to watch hummingbird wars and commune with nature.

Come by some morning, and we can drink some coffee and marvel at the feisty little birds.

How are you preparing for sunny weather? Any great places for outdoor gewgaws, brick-a-brac, knickknacks, you know what I mean?

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It’s Not All Fun & Games

I know on Friday, I was all excited about seeing the kids and playing this past weekend.

Just in case you get the wrong idea, me and MR have had plenty to do around here.

You know how we had more rain in April than we did in January. We had more rain in April than we did in February and March combined. All that rain coupled with mild temperatures equals a whole lot of weeds.

The MR would make short work of it with a shovel, but I’m trying the no till method. Something about underground networks bringing minerals and nutrients to my plants but not if I rip them all out. It sounds a bit like hocus-pocus, but I’m giving it a go.

Slowly but surely it’s coming together.

You can see my tomato plant swathed in a wall of water. I’ve added broccoli and marigolds from the high school plant sale. When I pulled up those weeds, I discovered the asparagus had made it after all. It’s year two in this location, so I’m dressing it with worm castings and letting it grow. Next year, we’ll have a harvest.

Did you notice the vine on the tennis court? That’s last years manly kiwi. While it’s consorts died, the new replacements are budding out. The MR says the pears are setting fruit for the first time. This garden/orchard thing might actually work.

While I was at knit group chatting with the ladies, he painted the stairs to the deck and mowed the lawn.

I think I got the better deal. We have lots of gardening and maintenance stuff going on, but that’ll wait for another day.

How’s your garden coming along?

Wishing for Sun

With sun, rain, snow , and wind in the forecast for the last few days, we haven’t had much use for these beauties.

At least it was sunny on the day they arrived. Eventually, they’ll find their way down to the lower deck along with some comfy cushions.

After removing the hot tub last year, we’ve been planning to turn the lower portion into a sun deck. The outdoor shower will get a facelift and be a dog washing station for Cocoa. With lots of mud and meadows to explore, she definitely needs it.

We’ve been looking for new outdoor dining and seating options. For the upper deck, too.

Along with comfort and style, portability is an important feature. With a huge wraparound deck that soaks up the heat, we’ve found ourselves moving to shade quite often. Our current metal chairs that rock and swivel weigh a ton.

We purchased the lounges from Frontgate—on sale back in February. That’s one nice thing about buying outdoor furniture early in the season, you can usually find a sale, and you get to dream of sun, and barbecues, and playing cards, and good times.

Wishing for sunny skies for me and for you.

The Summer of the Deck

I’ve been MIA for a bit—you may have noticed. I’ve been pouting. Sometimes I wonder how I ever got so naive when it comes to construction projects.

Let’s call this the summer of the deck. Not the lovely summer where we host barbecues, enjoy new deck furniture, admire the view, and while away hours. This is the summer where month after month after month, we have guys working on the deck; doors and windows closed to keep out the dust, dirt, noise, and toxic fumes; plants and deck furniture littering the living room, so they can recoat.

Remember back in May when me and the MR went away with my brother and sister-in-law for a long weekend? I was hoping to myself that the deck guys would be done—nope. Then we visited Sweet Miss and moved Baby Girl home—still working. Next we went to eastern Washington to look at wedding venues—not done yet. After a few weeks in Europe they’d have to be finished—what were you thinking? Finally on our last trip to visit Sweet Miss and see the eclipse, the end was in sight.

What we thought was a fairly simple job of replacing the soffit exposed a lot of rot, poorly designed drainage for the railing posts, and extensive rot on the stairs. Sometimes one thing leads to another, and so on, and so on.

So here’s a few highlights from the summer of the deck. We removed the hot tub and now have a large space for plants, sunbathing, and a shower that we’d like to make into a dog washing station. (That’s for you Cocoa the mud hound.)

All the work on the lower deck revealed some major problems with the box supporting the landing between the two sets of stairs.

So that long run of stairs down to the meadow was held up with posts for a while. I don’t know about you, but I wasn’t feeling very safe.

Next they found problems with the stair risers, so we told Cocoa to stop using the stairs.

Cocoa, we said you can’t go down the stairs.

All of this in record-breaking temperatures with the heat radiating off the deck.

It looked like things were nearing completion.

And then they found more troubles with the lower stairs. When the stairs were reattached, the workers noticed that they were sagging and the railings where pulling away from the stairs. Guess what had to be replaced next?

All of that created a lot of dirt and disruption.

You may be asking yourself will this ever end. I’m right there with you. Currently, the box supporting the landing still needs to be textured to match the rest of the house, and there’s an issue with caulking on the soffit that started this whole mess.

The cost of the job more than doubled across the summer. Initially the work was to be completed in a few weeks, but with each new problem it was extended. Unfortunately, other jobs were also on the schedule, so the work was a bit hit-and-miss.

Is our deck safer? Yes. It’s a lot of time and money, but we’re hoping this will help keep it in good shape for many years to come. The MR laughed and joked that we paid a lot for our deck to look exactly the same minus the hot tub.

In all honesty, we did enjoy many afternoons and evenings on the deck when the workers weren’t around.

Me and Cocoa now feel safe walking down all those stairs.

Note: the skies are pink. It is not sunset; it is smoke from forest fires. We also have patches of red dotting the inside of the house from the sunlight. With forest fires and hurricane victims, our troubles are few.

Having a wrap-around deck in our climate comes at a price, but we do love it.

And just to prove it wasn’t all deck frustrations and duldrums this last month, we enjoyed dinners with friends, found Sweet Miss’ wedding dress, and had a great time in eclipse totality.

Best of all Baby Girl made it home safe and sound from her European adventure, and we’ll be all together next weekend. I do love my family.

Any construction horror stories you’d like to share?

 

 

 

 

 

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. 

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?

A Look Back at September & October 2016

Maybe it’s spending the first part of September in Italy, or moving Baby Girl back to Oregon, or the MR being home so much more, or turning 50, or teaching classes on skills I’m really still learning, or the record-breaking rains we’ve been getting, whatever it is, I’ve been falling short on the blog lately.

I had big plans to share the beauty of Florence and Rome, to deck out the house for fall, and tidy up all those cluttered spots. It hasn’t happened. I sent some photos to my aunt and dropped a bag of the girls clothes off at a collection box. We’re celebrating small victories here.

So here’s a recap of what I did manage to blog about for the last few months plus a little extra cause I’m just that kind of person.

I’m rather excited about our dining room table and chairs that I talked about in An Upgraded Dining Experience. Do they look great? Are they perfect for the space? I’ll let you know when they arrive. It’s so hard to be patient. We also bought a recliner for my dad’s birthday. He’s still waiting, too. That’s what you get when it’s not mass produced.

A lot of fall seems to center around food. Waste Not those crabapples from our friends’ weekend place at the lake. I’d love to tell you how amazing that applesauce is, but when I pulled it out of the freezer, it was really sweet potato butter, which I’ve been enjoying in my yogurt, but I didn’t want to pull out another poorly labeled container before I finished the sweet potatoes. I really can’t eat that much yogurt.

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You’d think I’d be able to recognize the bright pink color. We did try the broccoli I mentioned in Saving the Harvest with mixed reviews. It tastes quite pickled as pickled broccoli ought to do, and we don’t like pickles. What was I thinking? I guess I was just tired of broccoli salad two or three times a week.

Grandma MeeMee was asking about the sage I used in the Onion Jam. It was just regular culinary sage, an herb that deer don’t like to nibble. We’ve had great luck with it here.

common-sage

I’m waiting for Sweet Miss to come home to try the beet and carrot slaw; cross your fingers that we’ll enjoy that more than the broccoli. I’ve been happy with our Fall Harvest. We still have broccoli, carrots, and some scraggly lettuce. I’m waiting for a hard freeze and the vines to die back before bringing up one really big pumpkin that has yet to turn orange. Then I can sow a cover crop of old seeds leftover from past years and let the garden be until spring.canned-goods

Our Trees with Attitude will probably have to wait for spring’s new growth before being pruned into shape. I’m hoping the months of ugly will pay off.

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I also shared in Inspiration and Disappointment how we were excited about making more wine from our grapes after visiting a vineyard in Tuscany.

id-wine-barrels

Well, it was probably raccoons that had a party with our grapes and tore up the vines by the time we got back from our trip. Me and the MR opened our bottle of homemade wine last weekend. After a sip apiece, we decided it was no great loss that we couldn’t make more wine, and the MR poured it down the drain. We need to refine our skills as winemakers or make grape jelly instead.

We saw tons of white houses on the cliffs of Capri in A Dime a Dozen.

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And then I shared a bird’s-eye-view or our home in The Colors of Fall.

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The drive home really is beautiful this time of year. Of course, the MR spends hours trying to keep the driveway clear, but it does give him something to do.

 

I’m just teasing; the MR is always a busy guy. He has been out making sure the blackberries don’t come back after hiring a brushcutter to Clear Out all the brambles.

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One happy surprise has been the reappearance of foxgloves. Perhaps they were being choked out by all the blackberries. I hope they’ll be putting on a show next spring, and I have seeds to sow from MeeMee and Papa.

The MR also bought new garage doors. I’m a girl. I’m not into garages. I don’t spend a lot of time there. They’re not really my thing, but these Garage Doors Have Style.

gd-new

It’s so nice to go out to the garage and not have to turn on the horrible, buzzing, overhead light. The new doors look great and make the whole space look so much larger.

inside-garage

See, I pulled both cars out of the garage to take this picture just for your. The MR was suprised to come home and find cars everywhere. But that’s how much I care about you guys.

He also Finished Up the last of the guest bathroom remodel. Cocoa ran into a bit of problem in the woods yesterday, so I got to try out the shower, or she did, however you want to look at it. It really did turn out nice. The gray counters look much warmer in real life, and the whole feel of the room is much sleeker and more modern.

guest-bath-collage

Don’t look at the green carpet. It’s going away—I promise. Maybe I’ll make that a new year’s resolution. Baby Girl needs a chance to clean out her room, so we can replace all the bedroom carpets at the same time.

And last but not least that leaves us with the The Big, the Bad, the Broken where one broken window was replaced perfectly and the other was broken as it was being replaced. The new window has arrived, and the installers are on the calendar for next week. Then I’ll call the window film company; eventually it’ll all come together.

When I was crabby about the broken window, I did share some fancy socks I’d made for Sweet Miss. Since then I’ve been working on socks for Baby Girl. They’re in a bright green yarn with speckles of yellow for my favorite University of Oregon student. Maybe I should start calling her Duckling instead of BG?

Maybe the window, the window films, the new table, the new chairs, and my dad’s recliner will all magically arrive before Thanksgiving, but I’m not holding my breath. Perhaps it’s time to pull out the Thankfulness Tree. I think I need a little reminder these days.

How was your fall? Are you shocked that November is already upon us?