I was estimating it would take me through the weekend to put away my books, and we are running out of time to prepare for my brother’s visit. We are going to the beach on Saturday for my sister’s birthday celebration and won’t be back until Sunday. My brother is coming from the beach to our house on Monday, so we don’t have much time.
But I was wrong about the books. On Wednesday morning last week, I got through F, and then my sister volunteered to come help me with them after art class. Once she gets going on something, she really gets going, and she had a good idea about doing a double sort. Instead of putting all the books for one letter on the table and alphabetizing them, which could be very difficult with letters that had lots of stacks, she sorted out all the, say, GA’s first, then began making stacks of GE, GI, and so on while I sorted the GA’s by author and title. It made the work go so much faster that in a couple of hours, we were able to get through N. The next morning, using her new system, I got halfway through T (S and T were lots of stacks), and then she came over again. Within a half hour, we had finished the books. When I tell you that we had 11 stacks of just the letter M, you will know that we shelved a lot of books.
I took my sister out to dinner on Wednesday evening, and on the way to take her home, we saw our friends the doe and her two fawns, having a snack in our orchard.
My husband and I then set about clearing out the room. We finished doing that as good as it is going to be done by Sunday, and then I started cleaning it. Here are pictures of what the big room looks like now.
And we finally got our carpet in, after waiting for it since February. It is not a perfect match with the existing carpet. To me, it looks browner. I felt like the existing carpet had more light and blue colors in it. I chose a speckled color to hide dirt. But since the two carpets meet at the doorway, I don’t think anyone is going to notice.
I started cleaning the house on Monday. I had been neglecting the cleaning while I worked on books and helped my husband stack firewood. We did a little more of that today. Our last rack finally came in, and I just finished stacking three layers and came in to rest. My husband is still outside splitting the larger logs. The shade by the woodpile is almost gone, so I probably won’t go back out to work today. It’s only an hour before I have to leave for my class.
The contractors came back out on Friday to “button up” the rest of their work, that is, put the transitions in where the marmoleum and hardwood floors meet, adjust the pocket doors for the new floor height, do some dry walling in the electric room, rehang the closet door in the laundry room, and finish the sauna. Unfortunately, when we tested the sauna, the heater did not work. We had it on for more than an hour and no heat. So, the electrician has to come back out. We don’t think he saw the instructions for the sauna in the folder with the ones for the generator when he came the first time. He knew the generator, so he probably didn’t even look at the folder.
For those who are interested in my art class, here is my latest picture, of a clown fish among anemones. We are still not sure we are going to stick with our new teacher. The time slot is good for my sister and for my great niece, who is on the waiting list for our class. But we have noticed that the teacher spends lots of time with the kids in the class and not much time with the adults (the opposite of our former teacher, but then most of the kids in the class are not serious about the art). If we didn’t need help with our art, would we be in a class? My sister is going to talk to her today. She told me what she was going to say, and I said it was better for her to talk to her, because I wouldn’t be so tactful.
Yes, finally, I am advised by Lowe’s that the carpet got shipped. I called them this week to find out, because I wasn’t willing to wait any longer. If they hadn’t told me it had been shipped, I would have started talking to them about changing or cancelling our order. We have been waiting for the carpet since February. The Lowe’s associate told me that when it arrived at the installer’s, they would call me to schedule installation. I have to say that I haven’t been impressed by Lowe’s service this go-round. If I hadn’t called them about the carpet in June, they probably wouldn’t have called me to tell me the shipping had been delayed.
While I’m talking flooring, the guy came out on Monday to fix the bubble in our marmoleum. He said that since linoleum is a natural product, it expands and contracts with the weather. Apparently, it expanded and pushed up against the cabinet for the sink. All he had to do was trim it a bit and glue it back down. Problem solved. It looks great.
And speaking of contractors, yesterday the house painters returned to begin working on the outside of the house. They power-washed the house and are back this morning caulking. They said they would begin painting tomorrow. I went out this morning and took a “before” picture so that I would be able to show the difference when it is done. One of the painters is outside the front door right now singing really badly.
We also have had a visit by the deer family. The deer we saw in our yard this spring were two sets of twins from a doe we hadn’t seen yet. But the other evening, we were sitting in the living room when I looked up and saw two fawns and a doe outside our window. Unfortunately, my phone was across the room, and when I got up to get it, the fawns ran out of view. The doe stayed and munched for a while at our blueberry bushes. Then all of them leapt up the ridge in front of the house. I hope they’ll be returning often.
On the social event front, I have a friend I used to work with in Austin who moved to Portland years ago. We have been getting together about once a month, but we missed the last two months. I drove in to the train station in North Portland and picked her up on Saturday. She came to the house to see all our improvements, and then we went out to lunch at a place called the Rusty Grape Winery. After that, we took the North Clark County scenic drive. It was a beautiful day for it, and here is a picture of my friend, very tiny in the middle of the photo.
My sister and I are getting a little peeved with our new art teacher, because she skipped both of us twice last week when she was doing her rounds. If you are busy as she goes by, instead of checking in with us or giving suggestions like the old teacher did, she just goes on to the next person. As a result, she spent a lot of time helping one of the children in the class, much more time than she spent with the adults. Why does she think we are taking an art class if we don’t need any help? If it was up to me, I would switch to a Tuesday or Thursday night class with our old teacher, but I think that might pose a problem for my sister, and even if it doesn’t, we are planning to add her granddaughter to the class soon.
All week my husband and I worked on and off at stacking firewood, and we finally did all we can do. We have to order another rack! At last, I can tell by looking at the pile of firewood that is left that we have made progress.
And there has been one delay after another, but tomorrow I should be able to start putting away my books. Yesterday, I helped my husband move a buffet and another shelf out of the storage room, and I removed all the things that are currently on the shelves (with my husband around, no space stays bare for long) and dusted them. So, first thing on Thursday after I finished posting my book blog, I will start sorting books!
I probably mentioned that in the spring we saw some deer outside our living room window several times, but we haven’t seen them since. And the bunny that used to eat the grass in our driveway hasn’t been around since we asphalted the driveway, even though we have lots of nice grass around the driveway. So, we haven’t seen too much in the way of wildlife lately. But one morning I got up and my husband told me we had a window peeker. I was just getting alarmed when he explained that a deer had been standing at the window that morning looking in at him. We also have had curious hummingbirds hovering in front of the living room window as if they are looking in, not anywhere near the hummingbird feeders, but maybe they are seeing their reflections.
My husband and I didn’t expect to have plans for the fourth of July. I had asked my sister what her crew were doing, and she said they were thinking of going to the Fort Vancouver fireworks (which I have since learned are some of the biggest in the country). My husband doesn’t like fireworks, so absent an invitation, I figured we’d do what we usually do, stay home and do nothing. For years, I lived a 15-minute walk from where they shot off the fireworks in Austin. We could actually see the fireworks over the treetops from our living room (just barely, of course, and only the high ones). When I was single, I went down there and watched them, but since I’ve been married, not once.
However, my niece sent out a Facebook invitation. At the last minute, she decided she didn’t want to face the crowds, so they invited a bunch of friends for a potluck. I made beet and apple salad, to which I added some goat cheese. That turned out to be a delicious addition. And we brought a couple of watermelons.
We had a nice time, although it got fairly hot. When I first got there, my great-nephew, who is three, insisted I go watch him climb a tree. He was able to get up to the first branch. After I watched him once, we went to the garden and picked some strawberries. Then he told me I had to watch him climb it five times. Luckily, people began arriving at that point, which distracted him. A surprising number of people showed up, about six couples and their kids. I didn’t count the kids, but one family brought five of them, so there were a lot of them, ranging in age from about 16 to 3, racing all around the yard, going up into the tree house, walking the weasels, and having a great time.
We had a feast. There was a terrific amount of food for the number of people. Our watermelons didn’t even get opened up, so we brought one home and left the other for my sister and the kids.
And finally, my husband had to put up with fireworks, which are legal in Clark County. My niece doesn’t believe in disturbing the neighbors, even though they have been shooting off fireworks every evening since Friday, so ours were restrained. But they were pretty. Finally, though, her husband and my sister convinced her to let them shoot off a few of the big ones. My sister bought a package of them two years ago, and my niece has been too concerned about how loud they are to let them shoot them off. I think half the package is still there. They shot off four of them, the pretty kind that shoot way up into the air and then explode in colors.
So, we had a nice time.
On the house improvement side, no progress this week except that we got a bubble in our marmoleum. I am waiting for the flooring guy to call me back with a date for the guy to come back and fix it. And no word on the carpet. I will call them this week to see if it got shipped on time. That was supposed to happen on Friday.
We have stacked about twice as much firewood as I showed last time. Now we are waiting for the racks to arrive so that we can safely stack the rest. And, yay! my husband finished fastening the bookcases to the wall. I thought I was going to work on the books on Monday, but I feared I was coming down with something, so I spent most of the day in bed. I had a sore throat for four nights running, but now I believe it is some kind of allergy.
So, no pictures for you today, except this one of the fox I just finished drawing in art class. We have a new teacher, starting last week. We are still trying to decide if we like her or if we want to start looking for another class with our old teacher. We are complicated a little by the fact that we are planning to enroll my nine-year-old great niece in the class when school starts. She is partially home-schooled, and this will fulfill an art requirement, plus we thinks she will really like it. So, the Wednesday afternoon time slot is perfect for her and for my sister. I can go anytime.
I was a little perturbed by the new teacher in several ways. First, she had me change the approach my other teacher was having me take to indicate the lichen on the rocks. I was almost done with my picture at the beginning of class, and she made me rework quite a bit of it. This change in midstream made me feel as if the result was muddy. Then, she started talking to us about the way our original teacher had us prepare to do a picture, which she felt was unnecessary. I have to admit that when I first encountered it, I was surprised, but it results in a picture that is much neater. She has us drawn the major outlines of our picture onto tracing paper, where you can make as many mistakes as you want, and then lightly trace the outlines onto our paper. That way, your drawing is transferred without mistakes onto the paper, and you have guidelines to work with when you begin working in charcoal. Well, our new teacher doesn’t like this and is talking about “weaning us away from it.”
Finally, this is a small point, but I just realized that our old teacher always told us to sign our pictures before we spray them, and this one didn’t. My poor fox picture doesn’t have my signature, because I forgot. Ah well, maybe we’ll get used to her. She didn’t do what our old teacher did and ignore the new students until she got to them. On the other hand, she was more easily distracted, so that we didn’t get our turns for her attention strictly in order, like we are used to.
The biggest news for this week is the arrival of our Big Green Egg. This is a special type of charcoal grill, called a kamado grill, made of ceramic. We needed to buy a grill anyway. We had a gas grill in Austin, but I was accustomed to a charcoal grill and could never get comfortable with the gas, so I quit grilling. When I was talking grills with my niece’s husband, he got all excited about the Big Green Egg and kamado grills, something I had never heard of before. They are a cross between a regular charcoal grill and a traditional ceramic oven, and you can use them for grilling, smoking, and baking. The reason I bought one is, I can learn to make tandoori chicken and naan. Although kamado grills are expensive, tandoori ovens are much more so.
As I said, the egg was expensive, but we heard about demo eggs, which you could buy after they were used for one day at an EggFest. They were priced about 20% less. The egg isn’t any less, but they throw in a bunch of free accessories, ones that you definitely need, and some charcoal. We decided to buy one. Originally, we were supposed to pick it up after the EggFest on Saturday. We had planned to go early and watch people using the grill and eat some of the food, but as the day approached, the weather forecast dismayed us, as it was supposed to be very hot, near 100, and the EggFest was in Portland. Frankly, we weren’t looking forward to either the drive or the heat. Also, I was concerned because of reports that the egg doesn’t cool down very quickly. The EggFest was scheduled to end at 4 and we were directed to pick it up starting at 5. I was wondering how that would work out, with the grill just having been used.
I was talking to my husband about this on Saturday morning, and he remembered that the hardware store guy had called on Wednesday, when I was at art class, to tell me that we were supposed to pick the egg up at the store. No more details were forthcoming, because he had forgotten them. In fact, I’m lucky that he remembered at all and that we didn’t end up at the event to pick up an egg that wouldn’t be ready. When I called the store, they told me they had decided not to break down the event until Sunday. They said I should call the store Monday morning to make sure the grills were there before coming out to pick it up.
So, I did, and after some confusion about our last name, we went to get our grill. Now, if anyone else is interested in buying such a grill and wants the discount, I will caution you. Whether you think this is a good deal depends on how fastidious you are. We actually got a free Conveggtor (used for indirect cooking, for example for naan or pizza, and for many of the recipes in their cookbook) with our grill, which was not supposed to be included, because it was used with our egg at the event. So we actually got the whole package for about 30% off.
However, the grill was filthy. They didn’t clean it at all. In fact, the store people had to rake out the ashes onto the pavement in front of the store before putting the egg in our car. I spent several hours cleaning the grill once we got it home, and I didn’t get everything off it. If you can imagine, it was used all day and never cleaned in between cooking. I am supposed to be able to clean it thoroughly by lighting a fire in it. I haven’t done that yet, but I will have to in order to use the Conveggtor, because it is horrible. Trust me, the pictures of the nice clean egg from their cookbook is not what I’m looking at, even now.
I used it last night for the first time. I was a little worried about using it, because I hadn’t grilled for a long time, and when I did, everything was by guess. I had no notion of keeping the grill at a particular temperature, which is the whole deal with the kamado-type grill. However, with a little fiddling, I was able to figure out how to control the temperature fairly easily, although keeping it steady is another thing. When you open the grill to do anything, the temperature goes way down, and if you overcompensate, it goes way up. However reviews that said it took a long time to cool an egg if you overshoot your temperature proved to be incorrect. You can easily make the temperature go back down by adjusting the vents. And here it is: my first meal made with our Big Green Egg. Nothing fancy. I thought I’d start out with something easy.
For those who are still stuck back in the saga of the slope, our young lawn guy came back with his uncle’s brush cutter and cut it. It is not a beautiful job, but it is done for the time being. We will have to get someone out here again in about a month. I’m thinking lawn service, since this guy was moving out of state next month.
And what have we been doing this week besides catching up on the laundry? (A slight mishap there. Our contractor was in too big a hurry hooking up our washer, and when I went in the next day, we had a puddle on our laundry room floor. We had to move everything out ourselves, suck up the water with my steam mop, and move it back. But no big deal and the linoleum floor still looks great.) Firewood is the answer.
A young neighbor came over two weeks ago and asked if we needed to buy firewood. Up here everyone gets it early, to make sure that it is good and dry for the next winter. I don’t know if I said that we got ripped off this winter. Installing a wood-burning stove was one of the first things we did with the house, and we had to look around for firewood. It seemed to be all sold out right when we needed it. Despite a warning on Craig’s List about someone selling wet wood for dry and my efforts to avoid this by checking the phone number, we did indeed get ripped off. Our wood was supposed to be dry and it was wet and of very poor quality. We had to use supermarket wood all winter to get it started. The fire starters alone wouldn’t do it.
Anyway, we had been looking around for wood, but our contacts hadn’t come through. I think people were just forgetting we had asked them about it. So, when Scott came over and asked me, I told him, yes, we did need firewood. This kid looks about 14, but the Apostolic kids around here learn to work hard at a very young age. I intend to write a post about some of the more interesting characteristics of the area, and I’ll be writing about the Apostolics in that post. We made a deal, and that boy went out and cut all the wood himself and brought it here with his mom and his younger brother. He delivered it a week later than he said, but he kept us posted all the time. And it is clearly good wood, dry and nice looking.
So, we’ve been stacking firewood. A few months ago, we helped our niece and her husband do theirs, and with five of us in a line, we managed to stack a couple of cords in a couple of hours. But the two of us geezers are taking a lot longer about it, and we don’t have a good place to stack the wood. We have just been putting them in the side parking lot on two two-by-fours, but we’re missing the pieces to hold the wood at the ends. I just ordered two racks for us, although it would be cheaper if we just built something out of wood. But I’m not waiting for my husband on this one. We need to get the wood off the ground. Anyway, you can see by my two pictures we haven’t made a lot of progress. The picture of stacked wood is after about three hours of work. Oh, my back! (When I helped at my niece’s house, I strategically picked a position in the line where I didn’t have to bend over. But that option isn’t open to me now.)
Our marmoleum is finally all in. The flooring guy came back on Monday to replace the subflooring and finish laying the marmoleum in the laundry room and half bath. Today, our regular contractors will be here to replace the baseboards. On Thursday, I can wash the new marmoleum and we can finally put back the washer and dryer. I guess I’ll be doing laundry this weekend.
So, the pictures I have for this week are of the laundry room before and after. You can see how bad the vinyl looked before. It had black marks in it that wouldn’t come out, and it was worn and dirty looking.
Here you can see quite an improvement in the appearance of the room. And the flooring in the bathrooms looks even better because it goes so well with the light green-blue paint.
We’ve also had a slight movement forward on the problem of cutting our slope. We have a steepish slope in back of our house from the basement floor down to the pond, with the wolf pen in the middle. It is important to keep it from getting overgrown, as it includes our septic field.
I was trying to trim it with our weed whacker, working my way up from the bottom, but as soon as it got too steep, I had to stop. It can’t be cut with the mower until it is trimmed, and in any case, I have my doubts about getting a mower up that slope, although our tenant managed to keep it cut. In this picture, the foxgloves that you can see in the middle are actually almost five feet high, so that gives you an idea of how high the grass is.
We have been looking for someone to cut it for several weeks now. Finally, a young guy called last week and said he would be out yesterday. He came, but our contractor had not conveyed to him the information that he needed to bring a brush cutter. We put him to work with our weed whacker, but because it hadn’t been charged up, he soon ran both batteries out of juice. My husband ran up to the hardware store to buy one, but they were sold out. Our yard guy said he could borrow a brush cutter from his uncle, so we had him cut our orchard with the riding mower, and then he went home. I had been working on the orchard with the weed whacker, too, and my husband had taken another swipe at it with the riding mower, but he still feels unsafe on the mower with the slope in the orchard.
If you look very carefully at the edge of the wolf pen in the top part of the picture, you can see the small progress the lawn guy made with the weed whacker before the batteries ran out. He is coming today with his uncle’s brush cutter to finish the job. Unfortunately, he’s only a short-term solution, because he is moving away in a couple of weeks to go work in California.
And that’s about it. We’ve had lovely weather lately. It rained toward the end of last week and during the weekend, but we had a hot one on Monday, and then since then it’s been delightfully chilly at night and cool during the day while still nice and bright out. I would say, perfect weather.
With the marmoleum out of the basement, my husband and I should soon be able to get back to fastening the bookcases to the wall so that I can unpack our books.
The good news for this week is that our asphalt is finished, and it looks really nice! Everyone who has come up the driveway has commented about it. Our next door neighbors even asked the pavers to come over and give them an estimate while they were here. So, here is a picture of that. One more project finished!
Now on to other news. The flooring guys, as you may remember, wanted to install the marmoleum on the same day that the pavers were here, so we had to put them off. The guy arrived to do the flooring yesterday. The original plan was to lay the marmoleum on top of the existing vinyl, but when the flooring guy started working in the laundry room, he realized that the vinyl wasn’t securely fastened to the floor. You could just lift it up, basically. Even though it had been glued, it hadn’t been glued very well. He also said that he was not allowed to lay the marmoleum on top of the flooring that was underneath it. So, it turned out he was only able to do two of the four areas yesterday. Those were the small toilet area in the master bathroom and the closet. The laundry room and half bath are rescheduled for Monday, when he will come back out and lay a different floor.
I had hoped to be able to show before and after pictures, and I still can, but unfortunately the rooms I took pictures of are not the rooms that are “finished.” By “finished,” I mean that we are still waiting for the toilet to be reinstalled and the baseboards put back. As you can see from the picture above, the old vinyl looks all worn and dirty even after it has been washed. The after picture here is of a different room, and the marmoleum hasn’t even been washed yet (you can’t wash it for three days after it is laid), but you can see how much better it looks.
We will get one toilet back today (thank goodness—I am tired of going downstairs just to go to the bathroom), but the flooring isn’t going to be finished until Monday, and the marmoleum can’t have any heavy weights on it until after it is washed, so our washer and dryer will continue to sit in the guest room for about another week.
Now, the carpet. Just to recap, we laid carpet in our basement in December and then we replaced the scary spiral staircase with a regular one in February. We went back and ordered the same carpet for the stairs and the landing in late February or early March. We have been waiting for it since then.
Our ship date for the carpet was early May, and then it got changed to mid-May. In mid-May, I understood my husband to tell me that Lowe’s had called and told us the carpet was shipped. But by last week we still hadn’t heard back from them. I finally called them on Friday. Of course, they had no record of that last call, and my husband could have misunderstood what they said. Perhaps they called to report the new ship date not to report the carpet had been shipped. So, Lowe’s called the mill (Lowe’s had apparently completely forgotten about our order). They called back to say that the mill is having trouble producing the carpet and is going to discontinue it. They say they’ll honor the back orders, and we have a new ship date of June 30. But the flooring person from Lowe’s warned me that they had this happen once before, and the mill cancelled the order.
I have a friend telling me the carpet probably won’t match anyway, but there isn’t so much as a threshold separating the old carpet from where the new carpet will be, so installing the same stuff seemed like my best bet. I am not sure what I’ll do if they call back and say we can’t get the carpet at all. I could try for the same texture and pull out one of the colors in the carpet (which is a speckled mixture of beige and blue and some other colors), or I could install something completely different. Or I could put something else at the landing, maybe wood, and a different carpet coming down the stairs, so that the two carpets don’t meet. I hope they will at least give me a definite answer by the end of the month, either ship the carpet or cancel but don’t put me off again.
Here’s hoping that by next week I can report one more project finished.
The excitement around here this week is all centered around the driveway. Our pavers did show up on Monday. Up until Saturday, we just had a provisional start date from them. They had originally told us that they didn’t schedule very far out because of the weather. But they were here bright and early on Monday.
This was a project that I was against when we first moved here. Our driveway is made of diamond-shaped bricks in two tracks, one for each wheel. I loved the rural look of it with the grass growing through the diamonds. However, during the winter, with all the rain and the trucks coming up and missing the tracks, it turned into a mud pit, and it still has ruts in it and bricks that are out of place. I had to admit that paving the driveway seemed to be a very practical idea. I meant to take a picture of it before the guys started, but I forgot, so my first picture is of the top of the driveway, when they hadn’t yet dug out the bricks. It doesn’t show the mess that the driveway had become, just the nice part of it, because they had already dug up the bricks in the messy part.
It turns out the driveway bricks were held in position by rebar, sticking up straight out of the ground, which the pavers had to pull out of the driveway, piece by piece. They even put rebar in the side parking area (which was where we found it first), which didn’t have the bricks but instead large chunks of brown gravel. Because the people who put in the parking area had first covered the grass with plastic, the parking area didn’t drain properly and got all churned up over the winter. We are paving that, too, as well as the lower drive. When we moved here, the movers had mixed success with getting down that drive. Now there shouldn’t be a problem.
The guys are planning to finish today, but I took a picture of the driveway in mid-progress, with lovely gravel. I actually might have preferred a gravel driveway, but I know that my niece and her husband asphalted their driveway a year or so ago because every winter their gravel got washed down into the road. We probably would have had the same problem.
Of course, just as I feared, the flooring guy was planning to lay the marmoleum tomorrow. That would mean that our contractors would have to be able to get in today to yank the sinks and toilets in the bathrooms. But of course, they can’t, and the asphalt is not supposed to be driven on for a day, so we had to reschedule. So far, I don’t know when that will be. Nor have I heard at all from the carpeting people. Once these guys get out of here and we have a date for the marmoleum, I guess I need to call the carpet guys. We have been waiting for the carpet to come in since February, and it was supposed to have arrived at the end of May.
I am also still trying to find someone to whack down our back slope. Once we get it whacked down the first time, we should be able to maintain it with the push mower, or if we can find someone, we can just get them to whack it down several times over the summer. No luck so far, and pretty soon the grass is going to be over my head. I see some spears of foxglove growing in it, too. Very pretty.
Our contractor came out late last week and removed his junk from our basement and outside the house. I would be working at putting away my books if I wasn’t waiting for my husband to fasten the bookcases to the wall first. He has promised to do it this week. I feel like everything I could do is on hold. This one job would allow us to move forward in a big way, but as I’ve mentioned before, I have never figured out a way to motivate him to get something done. Right now, he has several projects in progress. The wolf pen is partway down. The parts for fastening the bookcases to the wall are there, but no work is done. The seat of our new outdoor dining chair that he broke by slamming his butt down into it is on the table with the glue sitting next to it. The table and the counter that he said he’d clear off are halfway empty but are starting to accumulate junk (all his) again. He bought a blind to cover our bedroom sliding glass door but never even started putting it up (good, because I don’t want it over the windows—it is too big). The shed thing that is in the space where my garden needs to go is still sitting there waiting to be taken down, and after that my above-ground garden boxes need to be made. (My niece’s husband said he would do that, though, so it will get done.) He cut the orchard grass once, and after the guys get their trucks out of the orchard, I suspect I’ll be the one cutting it from now on. That’s how life is around here.
I am missing my bird book, because the birds around here are different from the ones we saw in Texas. At first, our bird feeder seemed to be attracting only chickadees (and our hummingbird feeder hummingbirds, of course), but lately, I have managed to identify a couple of birds I’ve never seen before, using the app whatbird. One of them is the Smith’s longspur, which is quite a pretty bird and loves the suet feeder. The other one looks like a black-capped or California or black-tailed gnatcatcher, but the range for all three of these birds is the southwestern United States. I am only a novice bird identifier, but I couldn’t find another bird that looked like these, with a black head, a gray body and light gray tummy. They are small birds, slightly bigger than the chickadees.
My husband seems to like to spend all his time at the house. The exception is the errands into town. He loves to stack one errand on top of another, so that when I start to go into town to return my library books, say, and go to the grocery store, suddenly he has added on a trip to Walmart (I hate Walmart), a pickup of prescription drugs at Walgreens, and a trip to the hardware store. Every jaunt into town must include at least one trip to the hardware store. Luckily for me, there’s a Dutch Brothers coffee booth right next door and I love their Cocomos, a combination of coffee, coconut milk, and chocolate. There is always a big line at Dutch Brothers, but if it isn’t too bad, I get in the walk-up line while my husband is looking at nuts and bolts next door.
This is all a big lead-up to say that I finally got him to take a little drive with me on Sunday. It was a beautiful day. We had one really hot day this weekend during which we actually started up the air conditioning for a few hours and one really beautiful day, during which we had the windows open all day. And then there was yesterday, when it was cold and cloudy all day, never out of the 50’s. I loved all of them.
Anyway, we chose to drive to Sunset Falls, which we had not seen yet. The drive was a nice one, southeast farther into the foothills of the Cascades. The falls aren’t spectacular, but they are pretty. Kids were sitting on the rocks over the falls in the middle of the creek (it looks like a river, but I’m pretty sure it’s a creek), and some of them were jumping off the rocks into the river or going along the bank to a cliff and jumping off there. Twenty years ago I would have been up top sitting on the rocks or wading in the creek, but I don’t think I would have had the nerve to jump off even forty years ago! It’s not terribly high up, but you could easily hit rocks on the way down.
On the contractor front, our general contractor finally came over yesterday and cleared out our basement, so I foresee some busy days of returning to what we had been doing two months ago or so when they messed it all up. We have almost all the bookcases out of the dance room, only three to go. My husband is going to fasten them to the wall because of the kids, and then I can start putting away my books. Finally! That will free up a lot of room in the dance room so that we can find the rest of our possessions and start organizing the storage in the dance room and garage.
As far as our remaining projects go, it looks like what I feared might be coming to pass. We had been waiting to hear from the guys who are going to asphalt our driveway, the guys who are going to install our marmoleum, and the guys who are going to install the carpet on the stairs. Some of these projects have been in limbo for months. I feared that what would happen is they would all want to do their jobs around the same time. That could be a problem if the driveway was being asphalted. And sure enough, we have a provisional start date from the asphalt guys of June 5 and a provisional start date for the marmoleum of June 8. I’m not sure how many days the asphalt will take, but this seems too close together. On the other had, both dates are provisional, so I’m not going to start trying to reschedule anything until at least one date is set. Also, no word from Lowe’s about the carpet since mid-May, when they said it had been shipped. I don’t want to put any of these guys off. We’ve been waiting for the carpet since February and the marmoleum since April. And the asphalt guys have the toughest schedule.
We also have a provisional start date of mid-June for painting the outside of our house. That’s not such a problem as the other projects, except, of course, if they end up being the same time as the asphalt.
We recently made a possibly foolhardy purchase. Well, who knows. It’s an interesting one at least. I have been wanting to buy a grill. I used to do about half of my meals on the grill when I was single. That was a standard Weber charcoal grill, and I used it so much it had a hole in the grill top. But when I got married, we decided to try a gas grill. Frankly, I never felt comfortable with it. I never knew if it was heated enough or whether the grill was supposed to have some sort of medium in it, like rocks, or anything like that. Our family has always used charcoal. And my husband is one of the few guys I know that doesn’t grill. (This used to be one of my dad’s favorite weekend activities.)
Our gas grill ended up being hauled off from our Austin house, where it had been chained to the deck but unused for years and was in horrible condition. Now that we have a lovely deck and some nice deck furniture for dining, I wanted to buy another charcoal grill. I was discussing it with my niece’s husband when he told me about something that’s called a Big Green Egg. A Big Green Egg is a kamado-style grill. I had never heard of these grills before, but most of them are made out of enamel, and you can use them to grill, smoke, or bake. What sold me was the information that you can use them to make tandoori chicken and naan.
I was 2/3 of the way there after reading about them, although they are expensive for a charcoal grill, but I wanted to see one. That is the difficulty. Our local Ace was supposed to carry them, but apparently they decided they took up too much space in what is a fairly small store. They said they could order one for me, but I wanted to at least look at one first. Then we stopped by Home Despot, which does not carry Big Green Eggs but has several other styles of kamado grills, some of which are less expensive. But they didn’t have even one of them in stock, either. We talked to a helpful guy in the store, who told us where we could see a Big Green Egg just to get a look at a kamado grill. The plan was to look at the Egg and then return to the Home Despot, where he would show us his other kamado grills online and we could order one. It was this kind of informed and guided shopping that I wanted from the store, because I had already read some reviews and looked at all the various grills online. I just wanted to hear what he had to say about them.
Well, we went to look at the Big Green Egg, but when we returned to Home Despot, nobody knew who the heck we were talking about, even though we knew his name (he might have been a manager), and if he WAS the manager, he was in a meeting. We stood around and stood around waiting at the service desk, but when I heard they were getting someone from flooring to help us, that’s when I decided to leave. After all, someone from flooring wasn’t going to know any more about the grills than I did. This is a problem with the local Home Despot. In Austin, they had pretty good service, but here, you’re lucky if you can find anyone to talk to. We went right back to the store with the Big Green Eggs.
The Big Green Eggs are pricey, but while we were talking to the nice man in the other store, we found out about demo eggs. These eggs are used one time at a Big Green Egg demo in Portland, and then you get one for 25% off. So, we signed up for one of those. We get our grill, slightly used, on June 25.
I hate to subject you, completely changing the subject, to another picture of our ridge, but lately the rhododendron on the left side of the water feature has bloomed beautifully. I was complaining in early spring that our property didn’t have any color, but it just didn’t have any early color. Now wildflowers are popping up all over the place. First there were some small blue ones on the ridge, but lately there are lots of white ones and some yellow flowers all around the house, maybe buttercups. I need to learn something about wildflowers. Here is part of our ridge now, just a couple weeks after the last picture. You can see some of the white flowers at the base of the rhododendron.
We have had several returns of the bunny, one time with a smaller companion, to our drive, where he or she likes to eat the grass in between the bricks. Sadly, that grass is going to be going away soon. Maybe the bunny will stay to eat the grass on our lawn, though. The bunny comes almost every evening now just before dusk.
If anyone is still interested in my art class, I finally finished my picture of a cedar waxwing. My sister is still working on her hummingbird, since she missed a class. I guess that means I’ll be doing an exercise in class today. The exercises tend to be tedious, but they are wise to intermix them with the opportunity to draw a picture. I think my next picture is supposed to be of a furry animal.
Today it is cold, but on Monday it was almost 90 degrees. We had the air conditioning on for a few hours for the first time. We have really had some temperature variations lately, but by and large the weather is gorgeous!
We have been seeing lots of birds lately, but we haven’t seen any deer on our property since the first report. We saw one deer at my niece’s house the morning after our first road meeting when we drove all the way down the road to look it it. My niece has remarked that we saw a lot more of the deer before three of our neighbors decided to log their property. There is a lot less cover for them in the neighborhood now. However, a bunny decided to come visit us the other day.
The work with our contractors is virtually on hold. Our general contractor wants to finish up his work at the same time as he prepares the floors for the linoleum installation, but it looks like that’s not happening. Two weeks ago the linoleum guy told me a week-and-a-half to two weeks, but now we’re provisionally scheduled for June 8, so that’s another two weeks to wait. Our contractor says his guys will come out soon to finish the other things up. Our house painting isn’t scheduled before mid-June, and we have heard nothing from the asphalt people, despite leaving them a message asking them for a rough estimate.
The road work we’ve been discussing with our neighbors will involve tearing up more of our driveway than we anticipated for our asphalting project, as we originally planned to leave the concrete apron. But the idiots who built our house didn’t put a pipe under the apron for drainage, which has been causing a problem on the gravel road for years. So, the guy doing the road work is going to tear off the apron and lay down a pipe and big gravel that the asphalt people can lay asphalt on top of.
So, we have just been puttering around the house. I have been whacking away at the grass on the slope behind the house, but the slope is too steep for me to make it all the way up. I’m now looking for a spry youngster to do it for me.
The other project I took care of lately was to polish some old silver that I got from my mother. It was her mother’s. I have plates and bowls and servers and an entire tea service—I doubt if I will ever use it (well, I use one plain silver pitcher frequently for flowers), but I like having it as it is so pretty. I let it get in pretty horrible condition, though, and it probably wasn’t that great when I got it. Here are a before and after picture. The after picture isn’t perfect, but I like a little tarnish on silver. The secret is to not let it get into the condition that I let it get into.
I didn’t have a photo to show for this week, so I thought I’d go out and take another picture of the ridge, so you can see how it’s changed in the past month or so. This first photo is the ridge a few weeks ago, almost exactly a month ago, in fact. You can see that we are still coming out of winter in this picture. The pieris (the tall plant at top) has changed from red, which it was all winter, to yellow, and a lot of the bushes look dead.
In this second picture, taken today, you can see both the pierises, which I have trimmed, looking a little pinker, the azaleas next to the waterfall (which is still not falling), and the rhododendron beginning to come out on the right. Below the rhododendron is a heather bush, which has looked pretty much like that since we got here, and if you look carefully to the right of the heather, you can see a little silver pieris that I planted a few weeks ago. To the left of the heather and barely visible below the rhododendron is the bird’s nest spruce that we also planted. I think that I have two more rhododendrons that have not yet begun to bloom on the left of the azaleas. They have big buds on them that aren’t visible in this picture. You can see, though, that the foliage in the picture is much greener. Nothing looks dead.
However, it still is staying well below normal for this time of year. Highs have been in the 60’s all week and lows still in the 40’s. It’s supposed to get up into the 80’s within the week, though. My understanding is that normally it should be in the 70’s now. Yesterday we had intermittent rain and small hail.
We are getting lots of rain this week. I made it outside a couple of times in an attempt to weed-whack the wolf pen and work my way up into the septic field, where we dare not let the vegetation get too bad. But my attempts have been fairly paltry. What we really need is a strong young teenager with a brush cutter.
I also took a handful of seed bombs out into the orchard and threw them around. Seed bombs, if you don’t know, are lots of wildflower seeds packed into a ball of mud. You throw them where you want wildflowers to come up, and the rain breaks down the mud ball and spreads the seeds around. My great-niece told me that she and her mother came out last fall and threw some seed bombs around the orchard, too, so with any luck, we’ll have lots of wildflowers in the orchard this year.
Other than that, we’ve been just puttering around the house. My husband put together his push mower this week and re-mowed the front lawn, but he didn’t make it down to go over the wolf pen where I had weed-whacked. Next dry day, if he doesn’t do it, I will. He also fastened the bookcases that we have moved out into the basement to the wall. We still have three more bookcases to move out before I can start putting away my books, and we will need the contractors to move their stuff out of our basement so that I can have room for my stacks of books.
Our marmoleum has been ordered! I am not sure how long it will be before it is installed. The flooring rep said a week-and-a-half to two weeks, but that was before he’d checked stock, so it may be longer. This company is being so much more helpful than the last one!
Our carpet is supposed to come in around the same time, and the pavers were provisionally starting our driveway around that time. I hope they don’t all come at once, but I would guess that the pavers will be late because it has continued to be rainy for so long. They had work stacked up from last season that they had to do first, and they probably haven’t had very many days that they could work so far. They said they don’t schedule their work too far out because of the weather, so they will call us about 10 days before they want to start. For the same reason, probably, we haven’t heard a peep from our house painters.
Speaking of paving, we had our first neighborhood meeting to discuss the state of the road. It was nice to meet a few more neighbors (we had only met two up until then), but only about half showed up and we weren’t able to decide anything because of a few complications. Next meeting is this Saturday at my niece’s house.