Friday, September 28, 2007

Floor Makeover

Here are the before and after shots of my floors--green living room, purple office, yellow dining room and rose toile parlor.  Yes, my rooms are a little like Easter, and yes, on purpose!

Longing for Spring

I've decided that spring, not fall, is now my favorite season because it's so exciting to see the flowers budding. I especially like bulbs, and planted 40 tulips, 15 hyacinths, 35 Dutch iris and 10 allium last fall. Unfortunately my brother-in-law and I stepped on some of them while putting together my wisteria arbor. The Dutch iris had popped up during our very warm January weather and then they disappeared. I finally located them in the back yard and across the street in the neighbor's front yard. I've replanted them and hopefully the critters will leave them alone now.

My first year I discovered various daffodils around the back and side yards and I've transplanted them to the front gardens. I also had a lone hyacinth show up in the front bed opposite from where I planted mine (all of them came up), so I don't think that was one I planted. Is it moles or squirrels who move them? I can't figure it out.

I couldn't resist some pink and white tulips at Home Depot, so I'll be planting them this year. Also, my friend Holly gave me some bulbs that she got free with a plant order, so those will go in, too. I hope my daffodils come back. I'm never quite sure I've transplanted things successfully, although I transplanted about ten hostas last year and they're all fine. The sad little peony I transplanted from the side yard didn't get any blossoms this year. I've only seen one blossom on it, anyway, unlike my white one which is beautifully full.

My wisteria this year was a big disappointment because I only had seven blossoms. I'd hacked the heck out of it last year, when it was leaning on an old ladder. Before that it was just flopped into one big unattractive mound. There are two wisteria, one on each corner of my L-shaped porch. This spring I spent a considerable amount of time untwisting it and laying it across the arbor, plus digging up the parts that had rooted itself from lying on the ground. What a chore that was, digging about eight feet across and two feet down. It's now way too full, but I won't cut it for fear of removing blossoms like last year.

So here are some shots of the wisteria, last year and this year, and some spring flowers. Also, this year I planted 95 gladiolus bulbs, but only about 35 came up. I get so disappointed when the package shows all kinds of beautiful colors but only a few come up. Most of my glads were salmon-colored but I've thrown in pictures of most of what came up.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007


I spotted a scrawny, scraggly wild animal last night about 7 P.M. in the neighbor's driveway. At first I thought it was a fox, but it's a coyote. I've also seen a fishercat there. Now I'm terrified to let my cats outside. They are not going to be happy, especially my adopted stray. I heard some weird sounds Sunday night but couldn't figure out what it was. I was too tired to look out at the backyard. I listened to some animal sounds online and think it might have been a raccoon, but I haven't seen any this year. Yikes, that makes me nervous. I had seen what I thought was a fox earlier this year on the next street over, and my neighbor said she saw a fox with babies at the top of the second hill on our street. Maybe they were coyotes instead?

Saturday, August 04, 2007

Everything's Coming up Roses (and Other Things)

Actually, these pictures are from about the third week in June when all my roses were in their first bloom. They're in their second bloom now. I'm just happy the two I planted last year (David Austin old English rose "Abraham Darby" and "Queen Mary 2" hybrid tea rose) survived our freaky warm-warmer-cold weather pattern last winter. I planted the red ("Crimson Bouquet" grandiflora) and yellow ("Sunny Delight" floribunda) rose this year. I'm really pleased with the red one's performance. I think they've taken a hit from two recent heat waves and my neglect. I was out of the house due to the floors being refinished and my sister broke her arm, so I've been helping her out.

My plan was to have this be the Year of the Garden. When I bought the house two years ago June 7th, my father died six days later, and I had scheduled a trip to Hawaii for late July. All I really wanted to do, anyway, that first year was clean, get rid of the junk left behind, and figure out what colors I wanted to paint the inside.

Last year I started painting in June and finally finished in March! That was fairly torturous, but probably not like my planned winter project of stripping, scraping, priming and painting all the woodwork and doors.

So for the Year of the Garden, I played around with re-using bricks and pavers left by the previous owner and working on the edging. I planted an Endless Summer hydrangea (which is pale lilac), two tomato plants, two cucumber plants and a packet of sunflowers and pumpkins. I've picked three cucumbers, the many tomatoes need to grow and turn green, the sunflowers never came up and the pumpkins are taking over the garden. I also planted a beautiful Aurora Blue delphinium, which has new growth, as does the hydrangea. My May Night meadow sage I planted last year didn't come back, nor did a chrysanthemum which I planted two years ago. I have three others that came back, although one has been eaten somewhat by a woodchuck.

Next year I want to buy a cedar trellis, like I did for the wisteria in the front yard, for the entrance to the garden and plant a climbing rose on the sides. I'm trying to figure out how to lay out everything, like stones for a path from the patio to the "entrance" to the garden. Right now I have two big pots with pink geraniums (cutting variety) and purple verbena in them. I don't have enough bricks for the paths in the garden so I might replace them with stones. There are so many huge rocks in this area.

You might not be able to tell from the last picture, but the verbena pots are sitting on two enormous flat, squarish rocks. Can you see my nemesis, the woodchuck, munching on my cucumber plant? Look to the right of the white pail. Also, ignore the blue tarpaulins. I'm trying to smother my other garden nemesis, the mighty Japanese Knotweed.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

What, me worry?

This is why I worry. I was scheduled yesterday to have flooring installed in a closet, then get everything but the kitchen and bathroom on the first floor sanded and a first coat of oil-based polyurethane. My three cats, who are my very precious babies, were in the basement, all snug with their beds, food and water.

I get home from work to take a look at the progress and check on the cats. The basement door is open, and I can't see any cats down there. The light near the electric panel is on. I start calling for them, but don't see or hear them. I go upstairs, which is extremely hot due to a heat wave we're having, and Carly, my big tortoise girl, comes out. I grab her, she's trying to escape by clawing at the quilts on the banister on the way down, but I win the battle and put her downstairs. I see Rudy, the huge stray tomcat I adopted, downstairs. I guess he'd been hiding. But where's Lucy, my orange tabby?

So I called my flooring lady who said there would be no reason for the guys to have gone downstairs. I called my mother and asked if she went over to my house. She said no. Could it have been a would-be burglar (I left the basement door unlocked)? The only other person who has a key is my sister, who was in Minnesota at the time. Should I call the police? My flooring lady called me back, at which time I discovered my wanderer, Lucy the orange tabby, hanging out on the wall near the wisteria, very nonchalantly. She really has the old wanderlust in her, plus is not inclined to interrupt a nap to respond to my frantic calls.

Meanwhile I've worked up a horrendous sweat and much anxiety. Didn't the workers notice cats dashing out the door? Why didn't they bother to mention it? This is why I wanted to be present when they arrived but didn't find out until the last minute what time they'd be there. Isn't coordination the job of the flooring lady? Why do I have to manage the world? Am I overreacting and being unreasonable?

This is why I worry. And I'd be really ticked if it weren't for the fact that my floors look absolutely FABULOUS!

Sunday, January 14, 2007

How Could One Closet Take So Much Time?

Here are before and after shots of my living room closet. It took me weeks to finish this. The first shot was taken shortly after I had moved in (note the lovely paper lantern, which has thankfully been replaced). The second shot shows the pre-spackling stage. Someone had painted over most of the wallpaper. The plaster was crumbly and separating, mostly in the corners, at the baseboard and the ceiling. I didn't remove the shelving and wood strips due to fear of creating a lot more damage. Someone had also used some type of plastic substance on the right side, which is the plaster covering the chimney. The walls on either side of the doorframe are a cheap wallboard-type material. Eventually I'll remove them and put longer shelves in place.

As you might be able to see, this closet is very shallow and narrow and was not pleasant to be working in on those hot summer days we had. Also, the closet reaches to the full height of the ceiling, and I could only fit that little stool in the space, with telephone books on it so I could reach. Had I fallen, I might have been as upset about damage to my plaster as to my body!


Here is a picture of the balsam fir that my brother cut down for me. That garland is toile, as is the wallpaper (this is my parlor), two lamps in the room, and my dining room curtains. I have a thing for toile.

Oops, I Accidentally Created An Ice Sculpture

Since we had about a month of above-average temperatures, I've continued with my yard work which I never finished this fall. Last Saturday was 72 degrees! I just love those El Nino weather patterns. Sunday I decided to utilize my fire permit and started a nice fire to burn up my huge piles of yard waste. I haven't been around fires since I was a child and had forgotten how hot they get, and how underneath the ashes, things are still burning. Anyway, the fire had been burning for a few hours when it was time to finish due to the time constraints of the permit. I was concerned that the fire wasn't completely out even after I had doused it with water, so I left the hose hanging on a forsythia bush (that's the curly blue thing in the picture) while I went to visit my mother. I thought it would be convenient if the fire needed some more water when I returned, or my neighbor saw the fire starting up again. When I returned a few hours later I checked the backyard and saw that the fire was still out. I guess I forgot to turn off the water.

Monday it rained a lot and was still fairly warm. Tuesday it got colder, enough to have to scrape my car windshield. Wednesday morning I happened to look out back and saw this lovely landscape.