Saturday, August 29, 2009

The Kitchen - At Last!

For about two years I have had an item that I just carry forward month to month on my To Do list: Call Scott. But never felt ready because of something else I needed to finish first. Scott is the contractor who did my exterior remodel and I did a web site for him. I have seen much of his work and it is wonderful quality, and his quotes are always competitive.

Finally, I called this month, and we met on Thursday and planned out the process of remodeling the kitchen. I'm gutting the entire thing. Friday after work I visited the first of several cabinet shops to get a design and a bid. That will take about a week. I'm not going to do too many of these, but will take advantage of the recent experience of a co-worker as well as Scott's expertise. This will be the first of many decisions.

The hard part for me will be colors. Matching the cabinets, countertops, floors, backsplash, paint, and then deciding if I change the living room colors at the same time since it all flows together. Part of my goal in this remodel is to get the house ready to sell in about four years when I retire. So nothing with strong personality but more general appeal. Still it has to be pretty.

Another big decision is whether to take up all the carpet in the living areas that are adjoined. It's a huge area. Wood floors will help sell the house, of course, but I like my carpet. However, the color is so out of date -- teal! And it's in excellent condition though it's been in --how long?-- maybe 15 years or so. But teal.

The kitchen is going to consume me for the next couple of months I know. The speed at which we get things underway is up to me. I have to do the legwork, the shopping, make the decisions. So I am not dragging my feet.

And still I'm working on the paper-sorting and CD cataloging from my husband's belongings. And there's the fall To Do list with lots of planting and clean up outside. As if I needed to give myself more things to do. But isn't it interesting how somewhere in the recesses of my mind, this project has been waiting for just the right time, and suddenly the time is now?

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

View with Fish

There are moments when watching a rain storm when blue sky appears, yet rain falls incessantly, and the Salt Lake appears as streaks of silver. You have to be quick to catch it. And what with fussing with settings on my camera, I missed the best of it. And of course, there's that lighting problem when shooting into the sun. Out of a couple dozen shots I snapped quickly this is the best I could do. This is looking west out of one of the tall narrow windows that are on either side of my fireplace on the west. I failed to capture the drama of Mother Nature's show, but I was pleased with the shot of the fish which ended up being the focus.

The fish was a gift from my best friend -- friends since the 3rd grade, over 50 years. We found these glass mobiles, made by a local artist, at an art fair at Red Butte Gardens last year, and my generous friend insisted that this would be my Christmas gift. This is one of those things you hang in your house not just as a lovely piece of art, but also as a reminder of a treasured friendship.

The place where I bought my camera offers free lessons on how to use your camera, and I think I'm finally ready to learn.

Monday, August 24, 2009

A little progress

It takes me awhile to take care of tough projects, and right now that is dealing with all these personal belonging of my husband's. Yesterday I finished up laundering all the clothing. There was something satisfying in doing that. Symbolically, I guess, doing one last thing for him. So I have these neatly folded stacks of things on my couch this morning, and today I'll give them away.

I brought the shredder upstairs to the TV room and brought the first box of papers inside. There are four boxes. Plus there are more papers that were left here when he moved out. This will take days to get through, but I will start.

I have to start work in an hour and my day will be filled with that until 4. I'm glad I don't have to drive today, just walk downstairs to my office. I have taken a challenge with internet friend Jacqui to excercise and meditate a few minutes every day. I'm planning to walk in the afternoon or evening, and meditate at bedtime.

Yes, there are still projects in the yard, too, mostly weeding now. I did two hours of that yesterday and it was hard on my body. This is a case of what doesn't kill us makes us stronger. I fell behind in my yard maintenance this summer and that's discouraging, but I think I may hire some help.

And my contractor is supposed to be back from vacation this week and should call me about starting on the kitchen. I'm more than ready to start that. I want it to be done before Thanksgiving.

Obviously, this morning my mind is on being productive and knocking things off the to do list. Just one week left in August.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Backyard Hummingbirds

This first is just using the default close-up settings. You can tell this is a little Ruby-Throated Hummingbird, but not much else is clear. I decide to experiment with settings. This second fellow is a larger bird, but the little fellow doesn't mind mixing things up with this one. They fight all day, though the feeder has four perches. Silly birds.

My best hummingbird picture so far. I am standing inches away. They don't seem to mind me.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Like a bad penny . . .

A whole bunch of stuff that left my house a few years ago has returned. We went over to my ex's house two nights ago and cleared out the remaining personal belongings, much of it is now mine. Lots of paper--tax records, legal documents, financial records, all kinds of stuff. It's the sort of thing you have to go through item by item and either shred or file. Not the sort of thing you can just toss in the trash -- too much of my own identity is in those documents and there is the danger of identity theft.

Then there are the clothes. All headed for The Road Home organiztion who will distribute to some who can really use them. I didn't expect to bring these home, but offered to take that responsibility from my daughter. They smell of cigarette smoke which I won't bring in the house. I'm thinking of washing everything before taking them to the drop-off place.

Lastly there is the CD and record collection. Things that he loved and I thought he had thrown out. It is a mammoth collection. Many things still in original wrappers unopened. I started sorting through them but it is an incredibly daunting task. They sit in boxes in my living room awaiting some sort of disposition. Some of them I do want to keep, and others we'll sell. My daughter suggested we catalog everything in a spreadsheet. That's probably a good place to start, it will take awhile.

So my To Do list got changed once again. These are things that must be dealt with soon. My own peace of mind is at stake. The clothing will be easy. Launder, fold, deliver. Then I'll tackle the documents. The music collection will take longer. My mind is thinking how to handle it. Maybe do a rough sort just to separate out the things I want to keep, and put the rest into general genres and then do the cataloging. i think my daughter and her boyfriend will sell them online. The old vinyl records I will save for now. I have shelf space for them in the basement so they can be safely stored. Someday I'll look through those too, but not now.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Poetry Wednesday - On Eastnor Knoll

Inspired by the Masefield poem Jacqui posted today, here is my selection for this week. I love the visuals painted by this poem. Visit Jacqui for her Poetric Journey for Wednesday here.

On Eastnor Knoll

Silent are the woods, and the dim green boughs are
Hushed in the twilight: yonder, in the path through
The apple orchard, is a tired plough-boy
Calling the cows home.

A bright white star blinks, the pale moon rounds, but
Still the red, lurid wreckage of the sunset
Smoulders in smoky fire, and burns on
The misty hill-tops.

Ghostly it grows, and darker, the burning
Fades into smoke, and now the gusty oaks are
A silent army of phantoms thronging
A land of shadows.

- John Masefield

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

A pause

I'm taking a break. Things have gotten rather overwhelming this week. A recess seems to be in order. Bye for now.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Spiders! Eek!

Actually, I'm not that afraid of spiders anymore. I've learned to deal with them. But they do suddenly seem abundant around the house and yard. Cleaning the outside windows last week, I also washed down the siding and numerous cobwebs and spider nests. I checked my sticky spider traps in the garage and basement and I've caught quite a few, so I replaced those with new and bought some spray. I have a rule: Any spider that enters my house must die. I'm sorry, I know it's not environmentally friendly, but it's my long-standing rule and I stick to it. I know I could hire one of those companies that will spray the entire yard, but I can't help wondering what chemically-killed spiders do to the birds that eat them. I will spray around the foundation of the house, all around the garage and basement floors, doors, windows, and even around all the baseboards upstairs, though I don't seem to get them as much upstairs.

We only have two poisonous spiders in Utah: the Black Widow and the Hobo spider. I won't post pictures here as they are too creepy. We do not have the Brown Recluse as many people mistakenly believe. However, the other two are bad enough and I have seen both in my yard, so I know they are here. Clearing out those huge pfitzer bushes has helped as I know that was a haven for the black widows.

There will be stories on the news in the coming weeks about how people think they are seeing more spiders than usual. They are such idiots on the news. It's the same every year. And this short cool spell will inspire the little devils (the spiders not the newscasters) to come indoors. But isn't that the way with the news--to be eternally surprised with the things that happen every single year?

Well, enough blogging for today. It's opera day with Brittany. The weather is rainy, so I have excused myself from any yardwork and no watering will be needed either. I've gotten much done this week in the way of weed removal and other various things around the yard. The cool days will re-invigorate the grass and perennials. This morning I'm just relaxing and enjoying the cool house, the rare humid air, and anticipating a day with my granddaughter.

There is one word for today. Contentment.

I'm not all that worried about the spiders, really.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

More lasagna gardening - an update

Back in May I decided to try the lasagna gardening described in an article a friend sent me. Today I evaluated the areas I had mulched and am happy to report at least partial success. My greatest success was in the experimental area that was flat and empty except for a Black-Eyed Susan and a pin cushion, making it easy to cover the ground well with all the layers. Throughout the summer I've found that area has seemed to hold in moisture better than plain dirt areas. And the flowers are growing beautifully.

That was just an experimental plot I tried prior to moving into the myrtle patch. My earliest attempts in the myrtle patch are best. The weeds are more well controlled. In later areas, I got lazy about the layers and just did the newspaper then grass, then peat moss, only three layers. And I wasn't as careful about overlapping the newspaper. The result in those areas is weeds came back. Although the myrtle has also grown and filled in nicely. I think a late autumn weeding will be needed there.

In my experimental area, I've had very few weeds, and those that did manage to grow, are pulled up easily out of the moist ground. In this picture you can see how the weeds have grown like crazy at the back border of the plot but stopped right there.

Since doing my project, I found the website for the woman who wrote the book on lasagna gardening, and I found I was being too conservative about my layers. For one thing, she says at least 5 sheets of newspaper. I was doing less than that. She was also layering very deep--as much as 8 inches deep. At most, mine was about three inches deep.

Today I prepared a little area about 5 ft x 10 ft adjacent to my experimental plot, and then did some lasagna being a lot more liberal with all layers. I still think I only ended up with maybe 4 or 5 inches at the most, but I was sure to have the newspapers well-overlapped. It looks good and I will plant in it in September transplanting more volunteers from around the yard.

By the way, I learned a couple of tips about weed removal this time of year. A USU extension service worker on television said that you should not use chemical weed killers this time of year because the heat can cause the chemical to (did he say oxidize?) and get into the air and land on the plants you don't want to kill. You should use chemicals in the fall for perennial-type weeds, and in the spring you should use pre-emergent for the annual weeds.

The area where I'm working has the most amazing wild grass. It has long runner roots, though not very deep. Every inch or so both above ground and below, it has a node that sends down new roots. Every year I dig it up, I poison it, I dig it up again, and yet it comes back. Even though the lasagna gardening author says not to bother weeding or removing grass before putting down your layers, I am removing this persistent grass. Something tells me it will come up where nothing else will.

One last note. I got my water bill this week and it was $49. This time last year it was $81. The year before that it was over $100. I have truly been successful at conserving water with my drought-tolerant landscaping and tweaking the sprinkling system. I've maybe gone too far and could stand to put down a little more water on the lawn. But I am very pleased with this direction.

And a delightful item, my tiny little Mexican Lime tree growing in a pot on my patio, was covered with blooms a few weeks ago and now dozens of limes. Click to enlarge.
And a visitor last night on my porch rail. Praying mantis.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Sunday Morning Reverie

You were expecting something thoughtful here with that title. But this morning's reverie will have the sound of an aging sputtering engine as I attempt to mow my lawn for only the second time in July. The dry hot weather has kept the grass from growing fast, so it's not out of control. But temps are dropping a bit and things are starting to grow again. This evening I'll actually give the lawn some Weed n Feed fertilizer to stimulate more growth and see if we can't green it up a bit. I'll have to water right after feeding as there will be no rain tonight or for the foreseeable future.

I'm thinking of washing the outside of the windows, though not making any promises. They so need it, but we'll see how my energy holds out.

So that's my reverie. Hopefully something more thoughtful will be coming the next time.

UPDATE: Did indeed get the lawn mowed. That poor old mower started on the first pull. Mother Nature cooperated with an overcast sky. Zipped through that job in nothing flat. Then got the outside windows done, and after a long rest, the inside windows too. Well just the front and side. The three rear windows are ground level and easy to reach, so I'll just do those on a lunch hour one day this week.