Monday, September 1, 2014

Screwing Around

We have 30' of deck to lay. 

For some reason I thought it would be easy to do and I guess it is in the repetitive nature of the process. 

Lay the board.
Mark the end
Cut the board.
Pick the board back up and lay it again.
Drill the pilot holes.
Screw it down.

There's a lot of screwing going on around here this weekend@;)





The thing that makes us both slightly crabby is that it took us about 4 hours to lay 10' of deck. 

Really?  That's all we got done?

When I mentioned this to SM he said "We're doing it the hard way.  If we'd hired this out they'd have nailed it down with a gun and chopped off the ends all at once with a circular saw.  Easier, but not as nice as what we're doing."

I guess the heat isn't doing us any favors either.  We worked from 9-2 but I figure we wasted an hour what with lunch and sweat breaks. 

SM (as usual) is doing the bulk of the work with the chop saw and hopping in and out between the joists as he muscles crooked boards straight while I screw them down to hold it. 

It's funny...We bought premium boards for this.  You'd think a few of them would actually be straight.  When we do get a board that's straight we feel like we've hit the lottery.

So back at it today. 
93 yesterday with 96 forecast for today.
With a little luck we'll get another 10 feet completed.

Pictures when we're done, I promise.

No fun looking at a construction site with two old farts red faced and sweaty.  

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Somethings Got To Give

In yesterday's post I noted that the garden needed weeding. 

Whose doesn't?

But mine is SO bad that I thought "Maybe I should just mow it." 

And so I did.




I was out mowing the backyard anyway and looked over at the mess my garden has become and decided to got for it.  I choked the mower out about 3 times but in the end, I prevailed.

This year (and last year too) have been a struggle in the garden.  All it took was one windy day two years ago when the Bermuda grass was seeding. 

I remember actually seeing the grass seed in the dirt as I planted my summer vegetables and just knew that I was in trouble.

As you know, nothing much happens in the garden around here in August.  In an attempt to gain control I've got part of the garden areas smothered with black plastic. 




But look what happens one month after I've uncovered it.





Geez!  It was nothing but dirt.  I'd pulled up all the weeds I could find and look at this tall weedy mess.  That's fast! 

Now it's true that I haven't been as attentive as I'd like to be this year.  I think building and working on finishing the deck took up what little of my spare time I had each weekend.




But as I look at the grassy pathway's in my garden....(Trust me, there is weedblock and mulch underneath all that grass)...mown nice and short, I reflect that maybe I've bitten off more than I can chew.

Can I seriously keep up this fight year after year?

The short answer for now is "No" I can't. 

Maybe after I retire when I can nibble away on it daily, but not now.  I have too many other things pulling on me and when I do manage to "gird my loins" and wade into the morass, I come out disappointed and discouraged.

I've been around the block enough to know what works and what doesn't in this climate.  And I also know that something's got to give.

So while I know I'm still going to garden, I also know that I'm going to rethink what I want out of the garden and how to get it.

I'm thinking of planting a dedicated blueberry patch, planting more fruit tree's and creating more space for flowering bushes like hydrangea and peony's in the actual garden block itself. 

Once planted, these areas will be weed blocked and mulched like other areas in my yard.  My hope is that an established area will be easier to maintain than one that is constantly being turned over. 

I also want to consider what to do about the walkways. 

I could try to block the weeds and grass using heavy tarp plastic instead of weed block and then place mulch on top of it. 

Or perhaps I should just allow the grass to grow in the walkways and create more raised beds with higher sides.  Then I could just mow as usual around them.

Lots of things to consider.
 
Lucky for me I've got till next April to work on it.


Nature knows no pause in progress and development, and attaches her curse on all inaction.  


-Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Almost There

For me August is kinda like February. 

Something to get through.

It has it's charms I'm sure, but I was built for the tweener seasons of Spring and Fall.  Lower humidity, reasonable temperatures.  Bliss!

I can get a lot accomplished in tweenerville @;)

So we've been humping along, doing what we can weather (and life) permitting.




This morning finds us fogged in which delays things a bit.



Can't paint or stain.




I could pull weeds.  Blech!  I'd be better off mowing the garden at this point!




The zinnias are (thankfully) still coming on.  I'm cutting several jars of bouquets each week.

We have several birdhouses around the yard and we counted three hatches this year which surprised us.  We usually only see two.

The sparrow fledglings have abandoned the nests in favor of the huge privet bushes in our yard.

They chatter and flit about in a teenage party that SM and I enjoy watching.




Casey likes to crash the party from time to time jumping up against the bush causing a flurry of flight while she races along the on the ground.




If only pigs (ie Casey-Pig) had wings.  I'm sure she'd be up there flying along with them.


Saturday, August 23, 2014

Scrub A Dub Dub

Boy, is it murky out there! 
Hot and humid. 

Yick!

I went out to walk my miles this morning and came back in looking like this.





Well...Maybe not THAT bad but I sure felt all slimed up from sweating.

So, what to do today? 

Why don't we give the house a bath!

Since we've been finishing the deck with fresh new paint and stain, we've noticed that the house siding is looking a bit faded and tired.

Kinda like me @;)

Since one thing leads to another around here...{can you sense the sarcasm?}...We've decided to paint the house this Fall. 

Oh Joy! 

We have fiberboard siding that needs to be painted every ten years or so.  Paint usually goes on sale Labor Day Weekend.  It just makes sense to take care of it now.

And since it's too humid to stain the deck this weekend, we might as well prep the siding on the house.  SM got all motivated yesterday and started scrubbing the siding on the front of our house with bleach water. 

Talk about "Swamp Thing."

Bleaching the house is something you have to do at least once a year around here.  If you let it get away from you, you'll have a house that's coated with green slimy mold.  

Trust me, I've seen it! 

So that's what we'll be up to today.  What battles are you fighting this weekend?

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Last Hurrah?

I went out and wandered the garden today.  I wasn't expecting much but was curious as to what was happening.

Besides weeds that is.





We've smothered a good bit of the front section.  The sweet potatoes that I planted back in June have spread out a bit more but seriously!!! 





Is this all the growing Ya'll are going to do?  Bummer.

A word of warning to anyone silly enough to buy Matt's Wild Cherry seeds more than once.  I planted them ONE TIME and this is about my fourth year of volunteers. 

They are everywhere which I suppose isn't a bad thing since they are the only tomatoes that we're getting right now.  I even saw some growing in my neighbors yard.  The birds must've helped "distribute" them @;)

I picked a few peppers and wandered over to the winter squash/pumpkin patch which is a complete fail this year.  September is right around the corner and still no female blooms.  Very weird.

Speaking of September...Does anyone else get the feeling that we're in for an early Fall? 




Usually August is a killer around these parts but it hasn't been too bad this month.  This week we're heading back into the 90's but just last week we had the windows open at night.  Very pleasant.




At least the zinnias are still producing.  I planted more of the jumbo size this year and I'm really happy with the bouquets I'm cutting.  I have 4 jars of flowers in my house alone. 

We have another nice day today so SM and I will be working on the deck again.  We painted and stained a bit yesterday.  We're matching the fascia with the trim paint on the house.



The privacy wall is stained in cedar.  I'm not sure I like it.  Too red for my taste but SM says to wait and see how it looks when everything is finished.  I can always paint it later I suppose.




Today we made 2 runs to get the deck boards you see above. 

Back and Forth, Back and Forth.

These are pressure treated and need to "cure" by drying a bit before I stain them.  We ripped up the old boards and tossed them back by the shed and then laid these out, cup side down to dry. 

It seems like this deck project is dragging out forever.  I'm hopeful that we can wrap things up in the next few weeks.

I'd really like to use it now that Fall is right around the corner.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Get A Life

Just wanted to let you all know that everything is fine here.  I haven't been posting because there really hasn't been that much to talk about.

We're just living life right now. 

We took some time earlier in the month to visit with family in Ohio.  The week away from home allowed me to step completely away from TV, computers and phone calls (Sorry Mom...).

Gosh, it was nice. 

SM's family lives in an area that actually doesn't get cell service unless you drive up to the top of a hill.  TV?  Meh.  Who cares?  And SM told me to bring my ipad but I intentionally left it home.  

I realized after getting back into the daily routine of work and household tasks how nice it was to just disconnect for awhile. 

Just one on one face time with the people in my life who make me laugh. 

Life.

How nice is that?

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Garden Selfie

It's another snoozefest weekend here. 
I mean really! 

I scrolled back through the blog and eyeballed all my recent posts. 

What a yawn!
Sorry it's SO boring.  I guess this is my life this Summer.

Pull weeds.
Plant seeds. 
Watch seeds sprout. 
Watch plants get eaten one by one by unknown critters. 
Crap!

Clean the house.
Do the laundry.
Cook the food.
Burn the food.
Crap!

Try and work on the deck. 
Try being the operative word.
Last weekend was high humidity and rain. 
This weekend, more of the same.
Crap!

I can't paint or stain in this weather although it is a nice to have a break in temperatures.

I actually have goosebumps right now it's so chilly if you can call 64 degrees chilly.

If you're as bored as I am, hop on over to Going Gently and submit a garden/flower entry.  Here's mine...




A self portrait perhaps?


 

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Fly By

After a busy work week, I woke up this morning and stood there bleary at the kitchen sink, filling up the coffee pot with water for SM's morning java when I noticed that I hadn't flipped the calendar that hangs on the side of our fridge.

It's August?  Already?

I mean, I know it's August.  I wrote 8-1-14 all day long at work yesterday.

But it's different when you stand there and actually flip a calendar and realize another month is gone.

Do any of you keep a calendar?

I suppose they're out dated and unnecessary for some folks.  All our electronic gear has the time and date plastered on it after all.

But I like having a calendar stuck to the fridge that I can write on.  I've used calendars for years to remind me of all our upcoming stuff. 

We get our calendar for free from our small family run pharmacy.  Every December they lay out a stack of free "Take One" calendars that have each month of the year on it with a Norman Rockwell painting and advice on how to live a healthier life. 





I write all our Dentist and Doctor and Vet appointments on it. 
Post-op Saturdays are noted 
Recycling trash can days get a big R written on them.
Migraine days get a big M
Odd notes like "heartworm pills" or "plant onions" go on it. 

I never really thought about it but I'd likely be a little lost without it.

It's also a tangible reminder of how fast time flies by.

It's August.

Already.

Holy Cow.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Lethal Weapon

Sunday morning and I'm out at my usual time of 5ish to give the pups their sniffy walk. 

My back is turned away from the street as the pups sniff over a particularly delectable "mailbox" of messages left by the other dogs in the hood.

It's very dark. 
Just me, the dogs and the crickets.

Or so I thought.

We turn back to the street and freeze.

I tighten the leashes as I make out the shape of a tall man across the street, walking slowly towards us about 30 feet away.

He's weaving slowly down the road.

My adrenaline picks up as I asses the situation. 

The dogs are on full alert but not growling. 

Waiting.

I always wear a halogen flashlight strapped to my forearm when I'm walking so tilted my arm up and gave the guy a face full of my high-beam.




Startled, the guy looks up and says "Morning" as he passes. 

I can see the soft glow of a cell phone in his hand. 

"Really?"  I think to myself. 

He must've been reading something while he walked, weaving around. 

Geez, Dude...Put it away and enjoy your morning walk like a normal person!

As the dogs and I turned and moved away to continue our walk, I reflect on how close this guy came to danger.

You see, my friends,  I am a lethal weapon.

I have a bag of freshly deposited poo in my hand.
You don't want to mess with me.
Face first, baby.

Trust me...That'll make the bad guys run @;)

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Quintessentially Summer

Quintessential: Pertaining to the most perfect embodiment of something.




It occurs to me that a Summer day at my house may be quite different than a Summer day where you are.  So I thought I'd take a moment to describe what a typical day here is like.

Most Summer mornings in the Piedmont of North Carolina start off with high humidity.  Fuzzy hair humidity!  Heavy, shoe soaking dews. 




Sometimes a heavy fog moves in like it did yesterday.




It might be clear overnight (and at sunrise) but usually the humidity creates a low overcast of clouds from 7am until around 10ish when the sun begins to break through.

Then things get intense.  Intense sun.  Intense blue sky.  Intense color.  Intense heat.


 

Some Summers are Cicada Summers.  This Summer is not, but you do hear the random few Cicadas, born out of sync, sing.  Softly at first.  Then they build up to their crescendo.  I always equate Summer with the sound of the Cicada. 

Often, towards evening, the clouds start to build and it's time for pop-up thunderstorms.  You hear the rumble first and the skies darken.




The garden is hopeful as the big "wilt" is on.  Everything is drooping from the heat.

A few sprinkles to tease us.  



Sometimes a deluge.  Frog-chokers SM calls them.

Nights are peaceful though as the skies clear and the fireflies and crickets take over. 

Peace.

Come to think of it, maybe our Summers are not all that different from yours after all.