At last, marmoleum!

Our laundry room in use. The marks in the vinyl won’t come out, and it looks dirty all the time.

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.

The baseboards aren’t back in yet, nor are the washer and dryer, but what an improvement.

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.

Our slope, as viewed from the deck above.

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.

A work in progress

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.

You can see how pretty and rural the driveway looks here at the top. On the two tracks running down the hill, though, the bricks are easy to slip off of or miss and they pop out of position.

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.

Here is the driveway with gravel on it. The arc of grass to the right is in front of our house. The area to the left is the bottom of our ridge.

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.

Nothing special

Our ridge a few weeks ago. The pieris is just starting to get red.

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.

The ridge this morning

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.

And that’s about all that’s going on this week.

The touch of mortality

Hans in happier times

We had a sad event at our house on Sunday, which also was my husband’s 71st birthday. His standard poodle, Hans, died. The poor dog had been suffering for some time, but my husband thinks that taking a pet to the vet to be put to sleep is cruel. This issue is a difficult one to resolve. I personally believe that if the pet can’t be saved, letting it suffer is cruel, but we all have to deal with this issue in our own ways. In any case, we were out working in the yard when he died, and we spent the afternoon burying him in the pasture under a hemlock tree. At least he has a nice place to be.

After several hours of fooling around with his new riding mower, my husband took off to cut the orchard. For practice, he did our small front lawn and cut down my lilac bush, planted only a few weeks before. I saw him out there, and I thought, he is going to cut down my lilac bush. I saw him pass it safely. I went back to doing the laundry. Less than a minute later, I heard a terrific crunch and looked out to see nothing, that is, no lilac bush. My niece’s husband has been suggesting I put in raised beds in front for flowers. I’m beginning to think that may be a good idea. In any case, I guess there will be no scent of lilac on our property this year.

My husband was only able to cut a sort of circular swath through the orchard. I think the slope of it worried him and he was a little scared of his mower. He also found he could not fit the mower into the wolf pen, so it’s going to have to come down. I have been wanting to take down the wolf pen since we got here, but he thought he might use it for Hans. Needless to say, Hans never set foot in the place. Our tenants, who lived here before we moved here, used it for their goats.

Azaleas next to the waterfall with the pieris above

Although it is supposed to start raining again for several days starting tomorrow, we have had several gorgeous days in a row. On one of those days, my niece’s husband kindly came over and cut the rest of the orchard. The grass is getting out of control here because we didn’t have a mower and it rained for so long this spring. I weed-whacked part of the side yard and part of the wolf pen, which has grass that is almost up to my waist. Also in the last few days, the azaleas (I think they’re azaleas) have bloomed on our ridge. The pieris plants, which were yellow during the winter, turned bright red in early spring, and are now pink. Here is a picture of the azaleas and one pieris next to the waterfall, which is not turned on yet because we need to clean it out.

On the flooring front, our contractor found a flooring installer, which I reported last week, and this week he finally returned from vacation and contacted the flooring company. We have already heard from the company representative, who is coming out on Friday to measure. Finally, some movement!

My flower drawing. Keep in mind this is the first thing I ever drew.

We also finally heard from Lowe’s. As you may (or may not) remember, we ordered carpet for the new stairs from them, the same kind as we installed during the winter in the basement. They came back to us in February saying that the carpet was out of production and wouldn’t be available until May. Last week, they called us to say that carpet would be shipped to them on May 15. I had been worrying that they would call back and say the carpet was no longer available, which, since we were trying to match the downstairs carpet, would have been bad.

And although I have moved on from my picture of a flower to another exercise and now to drawing a bird (a cedar waxwing), I have not forgotten my promise to Naomi to take a picture of my first drawing. Here is my flower, in all its glory, or not. I guess it does look like a flower.

Signs of spring, no signs of lino

At least we have one flowering tree.

I was regretting the other day that our property seemed to have no flowering trees, when I looked out the window and saw that yes, we had at least one. A cherry tree had come into bloom. So, I took my phone out, even though it was a gloomy day, and took a few photos of the signs of spring on our property. There was the cherry tree, the beginnings of lotus buds on the pond, the wildflowers near the path on the way to the pond. Other parts of our area are blooming much more showily, but we can do something about that next year.

Big yellow lotus buds are at the edge of the pond to the right.

Our lino story continues. The marmoleum never arrived, so last week I got on the Forbo website and ordered my own samples. I discovered on their page that there were a lot more colors than the design center showed me. They showed me just one family of colors when they have six or eight. So, I ended up requesting six samples. I got a message from FedEx saying it had shipped, so maybe this time I’ll get my samples.

Itsy bitsy pinky purple flowers in the greenery

My contractor has yet to find me an installer, but I found a list of distributors in our area, and presumably they would know of installers. My understanding is that linoleum has been reviving as a trendy floor product, so I’m not sure why everyone here is acting like I want something unheard of. My niece spoke to me about it when I first moved here, because she wants to install it in her laundry room. She has friends who installed it in Portland and love it. And my friend from Portland told me that even when she was back in Michigan 15 years ago it was becoming more popular. It is a green floor product because of what it is made of, linseed oil and limestone and recycled wood flour, whatever that is. Even a friend of mine, who laid carpet while working his way through graduate school, knows how to lay it. Unfortunately, he lives in Illinois.

I had to laugh at what my niece told me about marmoleum. She said that vinyl is too shiny and that one of the reasons she likes marmoleum is because of its matte surface. I told her that when I was a child, we had a typical 50’s kitchen: aqua double ovens and a small aqua refrigerator (I can’t remember if the sink was aqua—I think it was white), formica counter tops with that space age design of rounded corner triangles in aqua and I think tan on white, and linoleum floors. Only, I told her, in those days everyone waxed their linoleum. One time we went over to a friend’s house, and their linoleum was unwaxed. We had never seen that before, so we thought their floor was dirty.

The electrician finished up the connections to the generator and sauna last week just in time for our latest power failure. Unfortunately, since the inspector hadn’t been out to look at the propane tank installation, we didn’t have any propane, so we had to rough it. The propane company reports that they are still waiting for the inspector. The inspector for the electrical work came right out the day the electrician finished, so that is all good. Of course, we found out from the electrician that no one had permitted any of the electrical work done in the basement.

On Thursday we had some sunshine, and my niece brought her kids over to help me plant my plants, by which I mean to plant them herself. While we were planting the bird’s nest spruce next to the fountain, we found a little hemlock sprig, which we moved to a better place. We ended up planting all of the plants on the ridge.

These are the cherry trees soon to be gone. Yes, the pink stuff on the ground is blossoms.

This weekend I had another outing to Portland to meet my friend. I drove to the airport area, where I parked my car and took the train into the city. I met my friend at the convention center, and we attended a pottery show. I have to buy a backpack for these expeditions, because I always end up buying something and having to cart it around. Last time, it was a gigantic loaf of bread. This time, I bought a cup at the pottery show, and I would have bought more—not for myself as I’ve decided we have enough junk when I look around at all the stuff that is unpacked, but as gifts for my friends—except that I didn’t want to have to cart a bunch of pottery back on the train. Later, we took the trolley to a nice Mediterranean restaurant, then took it back to attend the Portland Friends of the Library book sale. One of the sights my friend showed me was a beautiful street full of cherry blossoms. Apparently, this street, which people come from all around to take pictures of in the spring, will not be there much longer. They’re tearing it and the nearby park down to put up an ugly apartment building. “Paved paradise to put up a parking lot.”

I attended art class by myself this week. I started shading the leaves of my flower and got about halfway done. I wasn’t sure how much it really looked like a flower, but my instructor made me stand back and look at it. I guess it looks like a flower. I am now remembering the woman in our first class who was drawing what looked like a bunch of blobs and wondering if I am doing much better. I am interested to see how my sister’s bird of paradise is coming along, though.