Thursday, June 5, 2014

growing :: the front yard

First there were waist{or maybe shoulder} high weeds filling the front planter bed.  Wild radish and dandelion, both with slightly prickly stalks and tuberous roots.  And long, spindly grasses.  I pulled it all up, filling the green waste bin rather quickly.

And then there was bare dirt and a jade plant that needed a bit of relocation.  Into the ground I planted dahlia bulbs and poppies - all hidden beneath the dirt.  Still the ground looked bare.  In the front half of the bed I planted parsley and thyme and a flowering hydrangea.  Though the flowers soon withered and it wasn't looking all that healthy.

The parsley and thyme took off like gangbusters.  Raised beds got added to the backyard and the front yard herbs were moved.  Fingers are still crossed that the parsley comes back, though it does look to be making a solid effort.  I trimmed back the hydrangea and fresh leaves sprouted. And then...

The dahlias came up and poppies too.  And with them a volunteer sunflower!  A second, lagging behind sunflower didn't appreciate my relocation efforts and kicked the bucket.  But this first, big stalky fellow shot up quickly seemingly growing several inches each day.  I was eager to see it burst open and then it did.  With the dahlias following closely behind, like nature's fireworks.

Such anticipation, even though I did the planting and I did the watering, each time a new flower opens it feels like a wonderful surprise.  A cultivated sense of wonder.

Also growing in the front are a rosemary plant and two lavenders {that replaced the thyme and parsley}.  Even as such baby plants, the lavender are shooting up flowers and looking like miniature versions of their older counter parts I see in our neighbors' yards.  I can't wait for the day when they are also so lush.  And just like most everything else, that day will come and when it does it will feel like both all of a sudden and like an eternity.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

a little bit of :: these days

:: wine tasting to celebrate a great friend who is getting married this year

:: we can be dressed fancy but still appreciate some good {and messy} BBQ

:: one planter box turned into three & I ventured to Annie's Annuals {it's awesome!}

:: though my attempt to transplant the crazy parsley was most likely not a success

:: the long weekend was filled with working on the house/backyard, a cookout {with margaritas and ladder ball}, and a sail in the SF Bay.  It was good.

:: the dahlias in the front yard have burst open and the sunflower is starting to show too

:: we've planned the steps needed to start fixing our garage.  We're ready for that to just be done!

:: the days are full and speeding by so fast

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

growing :: the first planter box

Last Saturday I drove up to Napa to spend the day wine tasting with girl friends.  I had the car all day and Lukas told me explicitly that he would be spending the day watching TV and napping and doing fantasy baseball and not doing homework.  In other words, a day off for both of us.  My day in Napa was a blast and I didn't get home till after midnight.  A quick shower and then I crawled into bed.

The next morning after some tasty cornmeal, buttermilk pancakes Lukas said, "When you're done cleaning up there's something for you in the garage."  Ooooo, what could it be, I wondered.  And I didn't have a clue.  And there sitting in {the cleaned up} garage was this beautiful raised planter bed.  

How was it possible?  I had the car all day.  Did Lukas just see it on the side of the street when he walked to the market?  There wasn't any mess or sign of work... could he have made it?  I scurried back into the house.  "Where did it come from?" I squealed.  And when Lukas confirmed that he made it, I could only respond with... "But, how?  I had the car all day."  

Turns out, he borrowed a friend's car to pick up the lumber.  And he's very good at cleaning up.  My socks = completely knocked off.  Everything looked so perfect and professional to me.  Back out to the garage I went to look at my surprise a bit more.  

We spent the rest of the day spending a $20 gift card at REI {Sierra North: Backcountry Trips in California Sierra Nevada} and getting dirt and plants to fill the box.  I still can't get over how beautiful the planter is.  Now I've got the start of a backyard garden.  It was a perfect surprise.

:: planted ::
     {2} basil
     {6} strawberries

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

tree of mystery

Now that the bird shed, etc. is gone we're starting to make the backyard our own.  Except that it's a slow going process {like everything with this house} and requires battling some shoulder high weeds.  We'll need to grade the yard so that it stops sloping into the house and garage.  Build back the deck and put in some raise gardening beds too.  Oh... we've got plans!

While that's all {slowly} going on, I've got to put it out to the internet to see if anyone can help us identify the tree that's {growing?} in our yard.  I'm pretty certain that when we first saw the place back in October this small tree had leaves on it.  But by the time we moved in at the end of December it was looking much more like a bundle of sticks with some nasty thorns.  Then it rained {yay!} and leaves started popping out from most of the sticks.

We're not quite sure what to make of this little tree and aren't sure what kind it is.  So, how's your tree identifying skills?  Below are a few more pictures and I'd be happy to answer any questions - especially if they get us closer to understanding what we've got.  So, anybody??

Friday, May 2, 2014

and the walls came {tumbling} down

Once upon a time, I thought that buying our own house with our own backyard would mean CHICKENS.  Those fluffy birds, who would roam free and give us deeply orangey yolked eggs.  But PIGEONS.  Sure we could have converted the monstrosity of the bird house/shed/aviary into an approximation of a chicken coop.  But… BIRD POOP.  And the shed that was meant to house {how many??} racing pigeons took up much of our small backyard.

After scrubbing bird poop off the walls inside the house {yes, someone thought keeping the birds inside was a good idea} I was well over the thought of having our own birds.  Sure, the romantic notion of home grown, fresh eggs still makes me a little starry eyed but for now those eggs will have to come for someone else's birds.

Over a few days, with help from our buddy Jeff and his handy hand wench, we took down the shed piece by piece.  First the front tray, which was covered in pieces of shells and saturated in bird droppings, was removed.  We stripped the tar paper and removed the front walls.  We were worried about taking careful steps so the whole thing didn't come crashing down on our heads.  But, we needn't have worried - that THING was one sturdy building.

First, after cutting the front third off from the rest, we cut part way through the studs.  Then wrapped the cable of the wench around a couple studs and secured the wenching part to the cross beams of the partially removed deck.  {Yeah, the deck was rotted and had to go too!}  But a few clicks of the wench later, instead of the bird shed crumpling down the deck was several inches in the air and the shed hadn't budged.  So, we cut through all the studs all the way still expecting that it would come down easy.  Each retry, after more cutting and readjustment of the wench I pressed record on the camera to video tape the crash.  There were many clips of nothing, I have to say.

Eventually that first section came down and joined the pile of debris growing in the driveway.  The remaining sections were not as resilient and came down with a bit more ease.  Just a bit.  Maybe it had a little bit to do with the learning curve for Sawzall dismantling of bird sheds?

The next step was getting the accumulated debris out of the yard.  The woman at the sanitation department suggested at 20 cubic yard dumpster for household projects.  She said the 30 cubic yard box was for big construction jobs.  But we chose the bigger box and it was BIG.  They delivered it on a huge truck and I was quite impressed with how BIG it was.  And then, we proceeded to fill it all the way up.  Besides the bird shed pieces and the rotted deck, we had a house's worth of rat chewed/poop/pee covered duct work to add to the dumpster, glass shower doors that didn't do much to block the water from the shower, and various items of garbage left by the previous owners.  We moved just under 3 tons of stuff!  Good thing Lukas is an expert packer - we got it all to fit.

Next up?  More backyard cleanup, building a garden, and rehabbing the garage so that it can actually be used {for storage and a workshop}.  Really, the list is never ending and my goal this weekend and for the rest of my life… filling that green waste bin.