Seeding Brings Sun

I predicted this. We had half the neighborhood over on Sunday with rakes and shovels to spread the loam, lime, and seed over the backyard... and now the forecast is nothing but sunsusnsunsunsunsunsunsun- possible 30% chance of rain- sunsunsunsunsun. (Previously, when the loam sat idle, we had nothing but rain-showers-morerain in the forecast.) This always happens and probably has contributed to our lawn issues over the past 4 or 5 years.

But, yet again, we've strategically placed our sprinklers across the back yard and started a strict twice a day, 20mins a whack watering regiment. And we're really hoping the good quality loam will give us a nice fluffy, fertile blanket of grass.

All the neighbors made quick work of the job too. Mike managed to squeeze some life out of our skid steere and placed mounds of loam here there and everywhere in the back yard. Then, the neighbors would shovel it out and rake it smooth. When the whole thing was shoveled and raked, (and by the by, the 18 yards of loam did in fact cover the entire back yard - for those who saw and disbelieved) the lime and seed was spread. We left the side driveway barren, to be covered soon by that asphalty stuff... which can be covered by gravel. (I say, "what'ev's" at this point.) Within just a couple hours it was done.

And that's it.

Mike spent the rest of the Mem Day weekend working on the boat. Draining the boat. Cleaning the boat. Fixing the boat. But not going out on the boat. No time. But I suppose it's good to have all that other malarkey out of the way.


The loam has arrived! Mike ordered it early thinking that there may be a run on loam deliveries for Memorial Day Weekend. Smart. Now stay tuned for some spreading....

Now I'm Luvin It

My painting from last weekend...

Mike sometimes just knows how to make it happen. And boy did great things happen between last Thursday and last Sunday.

Wednesday night, as you recall, Mike picked up all the lattice.
Thursday night, we had a small cocktail party for a friend's birthday - going out on a weeknight, I know! Livin on the edge over here.
Friday was our first big lattice day.

Mike first dug a trench in front of the porch, then stapled up the screening. The lattice came next. And so on and so forth for each section of lattice, each section of porch. He finished the entire front side that evening.

You may recall that I was going to purchase a tree on Friday. But I didn't. Turns out, Morrison's prices and selection were so good, I could afford a bigger and better tree then I ever imagined! (Plus I had my 25% off coupon.) Unfortunately, such a nice tree would not fit in my driver's seat. So I borrowed Mike's truck on Saturday to pick up the tree - a beautiful Japanese maple around 8' tall.

I must say I was also very satisfied with my tree-buying experience. A helpful dude got the tree for me, loaded it into the truck, suggested the type and amount of planting soil, rented me a free tarp to protect the tree from the perils of driving, gave me a How-To-Plant sheet, and he was kind and courteous about it. The tree was $189 - add in my coupon and a couple bags of soil - total of approx $169. I think that was a fabulous deal. I will shop there again, for sure!

Saturday night, Mike planted the tree for me - on the left side of the house (if looking from the street.) It's awesome! I can look at it from my chairs on the porch and I just love it. When it grows up a bit, the shade will really help the grass on that side. (It needs all the help it can get.)

Sunday Morning! It's the big day - the day of Mikey's 2nd Birthday Party, and boy do we have a lot to do. (I'll save you from all my food-prep and cleaning/decorating tasks and stick to the house blogg'dness of it all.) Mike begins the morning by latticing (is that a word?) Fail, try again. Mike begins the morning by applying the lattice to the right hand side of the porch - at least up to the soon-to-be-finished steps.

Then, off to the dump. He trashed all the old wood and gutters that we had previously been storing under the porch. (Yeah, they all got wrecked when we stained... should'a thought'a that.) He also trashed all our coon-munched trash and he even trashed our huge, impossible-to-dump-cause-it's-too-heavy-when-full trash can.

Upon the return home, Mike grabbed a chair from our mudroom to return to a friend of ours. (Yes, we had a chair on loan... best not to ask questions. Long story.) But we needed to return it ASAP to make room for the coming piano... I've been taking lessons. Another long story.

So he dropped the chair off, picked up all our party rentals, returned home just in time to get it all set up, and the party went off with very few hitches.

And now that the madness is over, we have a beautiful new tree... beautiful new lattice... no chair.... Things are good! This Sunday, weather permitting, we'll be picking up the piano. Oh, and I may have neglected to mention that our two porch railings that have been on back order? They were delivered on Wednesday.

Wouldn't it be great if Timmy could come by for a bit on Sunday to install?

Next on the List: (because Memorial Day Weekend is right around the corner)
Finish the railings and the steps.
Trim over the lattice.
Loam and seed the back yard.
Finish the kitchen drywall and paint.
Paint out all porch trim and the porch ceiling.
Purchase and install a porch ceiling fan.
Rip all the siding off the left hand side of the house.
Install the octagonal window.
Install new siding.

Not in that order. I'm not sure about Timmy's schedule, but we plan to at least do the loam over Mem Day Weekend. The small things like paint and fixtures, I will keep pushing for myself to take care of. Beyond that - I can't forecast.

But I think we've caught up with ourselves from being sick, at least.

Not Lovin My Lattice Yet

Hyannis HD just sux. I don't know why I even told Mike to go there to get the lattice. Of course they were out of stock! He returned home with only the screening... and a couple of circle dirt things that go at the base of the trees. (Freebies from work.)

Luckily, HD spring hours are long enough to accommodate toddler bedtimes. 10pm EST. After I returned home from piano at 8:30, Mike went to our local HD and picked up everything we needed. We'll be ready to rock and roll on Friday, as long as Mike can cut the stuff. (His saw and some other tools are at the present time, conveniently located at his sister's house.)

Also on Friday, I'm going to purchase a tree. (Good thing Mike got a random 3 of those circle dirt things.) We'll be installing that as well Friday evening.

As for this weekend - rain. Next week - rain. Would have been lovely to have that loam down with some grass seed... we'd have a full fledged lawn by June. You just watch. As soon as we get da stuff... heat wave. Drought. All summer long.

50 Ways to Love Your Lattice

No screen last night. Mike had to measure first - which he did last night. Good news, he's going to get the screen and the lattice and do it all at once, tonight. (Can you tell I'm being just a little pushy?)

Meanwhile, I gave a call to Morse Lumber yesterday, since those last two railings have been on back order for more then a month now. The answer? They'd be delivered on Thursday. Awesome. Will they be up in time for the weekend? No. But at least they'll be here. I asked too for a price on 6" solar lit post end caps and did not receive a callback. That makes me wonder if they just slapped them on the order without giving me the price first... Mmmm, nerve racking.

Also, I received in the mail a coupon for 25% off any tree or shrub at Morrison's Home and Garden. (As if I needed any excuse to purchase a tree or shrub, right?) So I'm thinkin Friday I'll purchase a tree. A tree for the side of the house, since the back isn't ready yet. Not sure what type of tree yet, but I'm flexible. I'll see what they have in stock. I'd really love to have one those purple-leaf'd trees...

*As I said to some co-workers, "I'm not very botanical!"

So if all that wasn't enough, I got myself a good scare last night while taking out the trash. And if you didn't know, we have a cruddy little trash hut made out of plywood out in back of the house. This past winter, with all the rough weather, the hinges on the door of the thing finally gave way. And with all the other goings on, fixing it hasn't been even ON the list.

So there I am, fist fulla boxes in the dark of night. I pull off the plywood door, which is just leaning against the hut, and I stare. "When did I throw away a sweatshirt," I'm asking myself. Suddenly, the sweatshirt looked up. And I'm staring into the fuzzy face of one of the biggest raccoons I've ever seen. He's just chillin in the trash can, chowin down.

I screamed and ran. He was not phased. Perhaps a little surprised that I so rudely interrupted his dinner, that's all. He was big - I mean come on, I thought he was a sweatshirt laying on top of the trash can. Fat as a coon who's been munching on our trash since the door broke over the winter, undoubtedly.

I went right inside. "Did you hear me scream?"
Well, that was comforting. Good to know I could have been mauled by a fat coon without anyone to hear me and come to my aid. I related the story to Mike, who immediately went out to the garage looking for his pellet gun.

But by then our furry new friend was no longer in the hut. But he hadn't gone far. He was brazen enough to stick around close, hanging out under an adjacent tree. Mike got one good shot off, hitting him in the face before he scurried into the darkness. By the time Mike got a proper flashlight, he'd gone. Or maybe found a better hiding place.

Another great reason to love your lattice.

And another great reason to get a new freakin trash hut. A real live small shed would be fabulous. Something not made out of scraps... I shouldn't complain. It's lasted thus far.

Rock'N Out

My back is kinda sore, but the rock wall is done! And we actually had a good time, Mike and I. Yes we did. We grabbed a couple beers, set up the work light, and chucked rocks at dirt for the better part of 2 hours. It was great. Just like old times.

And I must admit, I'm pretty happy with the results. We used up all the rocks we gathered on Sunday, plus some huge ones we managed to roll into place.

Can't Stop the Rock
So as you can see, the rock wall now turns neatly to the right.... or left, depending on where you're standing. We went as far as the amount of rocks could take us. What we're going to do with the hillside to the left of the rocks in this pic... unknown. Maybe that area will just be grass.

And speaking of which, Mike is going to attempt to just change the oil in his skid steere and make it go - at least enough to spread loam. Plus, while we were standing around admiring our work last night...he noticed a high area that he'd like to grade down. Urgh. In my opinion, that man could find fault in the yard for an eternity just so he could keep digging with the big machine.

Then, he also dropped the bomb that he doesn't want to re-gravel the side driveway. He wants to put down something... I forget the word. But it's the poop they scrape off highways when they repave. Old asphalt. I don't like that idea at all. He's slowly trying to pave the entire yard is what he's doing. I much prefer the natural gravel look - it goes with the rock wall, and it provides better drainage. HE wants to eventually put a car lift in the side driveway.

Nuh-uh. No ways.

We'll see who wins out on this one. We did not come to any kind of agreement at that time.

But seeing as how we made so much great progress last night - I want to keep the train going and have Mike bring home that meshy stuff that goes under the lattice for the bottom part of the porch. If we can maybe get that stuff on tonight and the lattice tomorrow or Thursday?! Keep up the pace! THIS is the spring I'm talkin about.

If At First You Don't Succeed.... Get a Bigger Machine

AKA The Big Machine Fiasco of 2011.

Mike brought home the big machine on Thursday - a Case skid steere on tires. As you recall from last post, he spent all of Thursday night cleaning the yard in preparation. Friday he planned to dig up the side gravel driveway so that we'd be able to have the loam delivered and dropped there on Saturday.

It was all so smooth and easy and going according to plan. So of course, something had to go terribly wrong.

Friday night's disaster started with the Case. It couldn't even dig itself out of its own way! Seriously - no power. Mike struggled for a couple hours and finally gave in when the stoopid thing couldn't even get over a small dirt hump. He switched to our own John Deere skid steere... which we hadn't planned to use because we always considered it an inferior machine. Turns out, it kicks the stuffing out of the Case. It was actually doing a credible job... that is, until the motor blew up.

Yes, that little machine kicked the bucket at the absolute wrong time. Mike spent the rest of the night trying in desperation to fix it - but gave in upon the realization that the motor should really be re-built.

Saturday. Obviously, we weren't going to order loam without the means to move it and without a place to put it. Sad days.

Then Mike called me on his way home from work Saturday night. He was on his way to a job site where he would pick up a bigger big machine from another friend of his. The same bigger big machine, it turns out, that dug our basement years prior. (Ah, memories.)

Saturday night we had three machines - three trailers - and one boat in the neighbor's yard. OMG just doesn't cover what the neighbors must have thought... although they've got to be used to it by now. (We are good friends with most of them, one family hates us, and we have one newbie on one side that I think likes us...)

Anyway, when Mike rolled off the trailer with that third machine - a big Cat on tracks - he drove right over to the gravel driveway, scooped a scoop, and dumped it over the hill. Power! At long last! Sunday was going to be good... except now we didn't have the loam. Only one day with the machine and no loam...

8am Mike started up the machine. And it went so fast, I was convinced he was going to be finished with the whole job at noon! Sure enough, the driveway was done before 10.

Before noon, Mike had brought down the grade of the entire back yard to the correct level. Before 1, he cut a bit out of the hill on the other side of the garage - where we hadn't even planned to cut! Before 2, the entire back yard was smoothed over. Mike took the machine down back into the hole, where we picked up rocks to create a rock wall where our current rock wall now makes a sharp right. Before three, Mike decided to dig a hole out in the way back and bury two huge stumps.

Before 4, the machine was washed and back on its trailer and on its way back to the job site where it came from. Before 5, the cruddy tire Case was back on its trailer and on its way back to where it came from.

And we were all home about 8, having stopped for dinner on the way home.

The Old Gravel Driveway, now Dirt

The Opposite Side of the Garage soon to be Tie Wall

The New, Flat Back Yard

Now the only problem is the loam. How are we going to spread it once it's delivered? We may not be able to get the machine again... and ours is kaputkz.

For now, those thoughts are going to have to wait. This week, I hope to complete the rock wall on the new right hand turn of the back yard. I also hope to get some PT ties for the side yard on the other side of the garage. We can't have either side washing out... but I have no clue what's involved for the ties. Rocks are easy. You just throw 'em on. Looks rustic. I might even do that tonight if I can muster my strength enough.

Stain, Dig, Repeat

Allergies. I have severe allergies. And boy did I suffer last weekend... right after I cursed myself by saying, "F this sickness, I'm going to keep on doing whatever I wanna do." Yup. Never ever say that. Because the sick came back with a vengeance and bit me in the butt so hard I could barely get off the couch to make myself some Sleepytime tea.

I was going through a box o tissues a day. But after going to the Dr's on Wednesday, I'm Clariten clear! Now I understand that ad campaign - because I was in a serious fog o allergies. And that Netipot that I swore I'd never do? I'm doing it daily. And I'm going to be seeing a specialist.... Loverly.

But despite the pain... progress cannot be stopped. (Just slowed a little bit, which is super frustrating when you're on a tight spring chore/project schedule!)

Mike did in fact get the porch stainer and stain last weekend. The stainer thing looks a bit like a Swiffer, except with a brush in the middle to get the insides of the boards. Unfortunately, due to sickness, the porch was not cleaned off or prepared before Sunday as was planned. Mike had to do it all... and the job took all day.

Additionally, we realized last Sunday, "Hey it's May 1st and it's the last day we can burn!" And boy did we have a pile from all that yard work and trimming of trees we did a few weeks-a month back. So Mike set up a burn while he worked out front. It was a little hectic for a while...

But the brush got burnt and the stuff got stained.

The porch looks AMAZING! Not only because of the beautiful dark cherry stain, but also because all the poop is gone. (And by poop, I mean siding, wood, tools, etc.) I put back our porch furniture just a few days ago, plus a couple potted plants from BJ's.... OMG it looks like a real live nice person's house. I'm in love all over again.

I Actually Had a Nice Cup of Coffee Out Here While Mikey Played on the Bus

The Plants Make a Difference - So Nice!

The only unfortunate news - it's going to need another coat. And, with this week just made for diggin', I just don't think we're going to get to it in time for Mikey's 2nd bday party on the 15th.

But speaking of diggin', Mike picked up the machine on Thursday and began the lovely process of cleaning up the yard. (Did I mention he took the camper back to our friends' house on Tuesday night?) So the camper was already gone. Next, Mike cleared around the garage (again) and put some scrap metal in his truck for the dump. The boat he moved to our vacant neighbor's house. Mikey's little bus - on the porch.

And that's about all we had time for on Thursday....