Hurricane Irene

Whenever ill weather strikes, New Englanders glue themselves to the tube 24/7. Then, we all delight in discussing how useless and pointless the coverage was after the fact. New Englanders also love to complain that a storm wasn't "bad," as if they truly wanted complete and total annihilation. "Now that's a storm," they say. Worthy enough for a t-shirt, like the "I Survived Hurricane Bob" craze. We start trying to one-up each other, "in the blizzard of '78 I went days with my food in the snow" or "a tree fell over the driveway and I was stuck for ages" or "we bailed out the basement with a coffee can..."


But I'm a New Englander and a born Cape Codder. As in, born at Cape Cod Hospital and lived in the area all my life Cape Codder. And we're the worst offenders. Sure enough, I had my eyes stuck to the weather channel morning, noon, and night - even before the storm.

Sure enough, we were well prepared. I went grocery shopping on Tuesday. Thursday, we stayed up late cleaning the yard. Yup, up until midnight putting lumber in the basement, securing the garages, taking down the swings, and trashing the trash. We gassed up the chainsaws and the trucks.

Sunday, the storm was upon us. First thing in the morning, we lost a huge maple in the backyard. Thank god the boat was safe at Mike's work... it fell right on its normal parking space - just barely missing the playground, a tractor, and the skid steere. Mike was able to cut up some of it right then. But he was nervous about another old tree, perched precariously atop the hill next to the garage. It was primed to take out the garage and really taking a beating from the winds. Some of its higher limbs cracked and hung by some miracle of something.

Meanwhile, out front, a huge limb came off the locust, taking out the power lines to the house and ripping the box right off the outside wall. (This is a tree that Nstar cut off half of a few years ago. Now it's all lopsided and it still took out the power lines. Thanks, Nstar.) Luckily, we still had power for quite some time after that. And then our luck ran out - off by 3pm.

And it's still off. Now I'm regretting that huge food shopping trip. According to the National Food Inspection folks, food in an unopened fridge with no power is good only for 4 hours. Here we are at over 24 with a possibly 8 day wait ahead of us. Thank god for phones, or I would have never been able to check the weather. 

Good News Bad News No News

Nothing of particular interest happened this weekend. I was exhausted and allergic on Saturday and spent my day cleaning in hopes of some relief. I didn't even have an extra half hour afterwards to paint another porch ceiling section... which I had been planning on.

Sunday, Mike cleaned out the garage and garage addition, installed the springs to the garage addition door, and drove in his car. And that's about it. I could barely function on Sunday, I was so pooped from a Saturday night out. (Good times, but rough day without coffee.)

Good news, our neighbor Richard dropped by on the way home from a drywall side job. He wants to wrap up our kitchen drywall this week. I'll be so happy to have that taken care of! Then we can finally trim out the once-new-now-kinda-old window.

It's tough times once again thanks to vehicle dysfunction. Yes that''s dysfunction and not malfunction. My motor bit the dust and I'm more then bummed about it. It's supposed to rain most of the week. We have zero dollars. I'm trying to stay somewhat optimistic because things could always be worse. I just hate standing stagnant in my home improvement puddle. Life's too short for projects to sit unfinished!

Taking Little Bites

Unexpected weekend! Going into it, I had no real plans, no real to-do lists, and no expectations. (Hard to believe, yes I know.) It started out small. Saturday I weeded, cleaned, vacuumed the basement, and re-set our backyard watering timer.

Then, I got the notion to try the old soapy water plus household vinegar (5%) plus as-hot-as-my-tap-will-make water poison ivy killer. I mixed the three in a bucket - very liberal on the vinegar and soap - no other measurements - and I threw the bucket contents over the rocks. After the first bucket I realized I was in a bit over my head. One bucket only covered the smallest of areas. But I had enough vinegar to do three buckets full, figuring that this would be a good test.

Side 1 Rocks: Before
Side 1 Rocks: After

Side 2 Rocks Before

Side 2 Rocks: After

As you can see from the results - it's obvious where I threw the mixture. The leaves turned black, then to white in those areas. Conclusion - I need more vinegar and a bigger bucket. Actually, I need a 50 gallon barrel with a pressure washer attached to it. I could market that.... Anyhoo, I'm going to keep watch to see if those areas and plants actually die. Then, I'll go to BJ's for another giant vinegar and make a little one-girl bucket brigade.

If that wasn't enough for one day, I randomly decided to paint that one fan-section of the farmer's porch ceiling. So randomly in fact, I only had a half hour window in which to prep, paint, and clean up. But I somehow made it happen. I started around 2:30 and was out of the shower by 3:45 and out the door to a house warming party.

Sunday morning, Mike installed the fan for me. And it looks beautiful! More importantly, the dang box is out of the living room!! Hooray! It's only been in there since my mom's bday. (May)

Then he took care of some other little things:
Installed the front door doorbell.
Replaced the one odd GFCI outlet on the porch with a normal one.
Cut two outlet covers in half to fit the porch outlets by the french doors.
Put up my Bermuda weather sign. (Gift from some friends of ours who went there... I was not so lucky to have gone.)
Removed the yucky Yukka plant from next to the lilac in the front yard. (Looks so much better without!)
Fertilized the back yard.

For the remainder of his rainy Sunday, Mike got to pick his own project. Installing the old garage door on the new garage addition! (Previously, we had a drop cloth keeping weather out of that area and didn't store anything steal-able in there.)

But as usual, it wasn't as easy a project as he had hoped. The door opening was 6" too big for the door. So, after using all the rest of our scrap wood, Mike had to hit the DeepHo for a few more pieces to build out one side. What a pain in the butt! After finally finishing the framing and installing the door tracks, it was close to 8:30pm. He called it a night and installed the door on Monday.

Looking at this door now, I can hardly believe it used to be on the front of our garage. It's super gross and ugly. I wish I could have bought Mike a new door for this space at the same time I bought the other door. But he really wanted the super huge door instead of two small ones for the front. And I can't blame him for that. We can live with this for a while.

Paint & Playground Paradise

The weekend turned out to be much hotter then expected. And I'm not one to complain about the heat - I love it! The trouble is, you can't always be sitting by a pool drinking cool refreshing beverages when it's hot out. Sometimes you have to do hard labor and sweat yourself to death.

It started for me on Saturday. Mike didn't bring home the fuzzy rollers Friday night, but I decided that it would be smart to start cutting in. I could cut in around the largest part of the porch, paint that one section on Sunday, and have the fan installed by Sunday night. That was my original thought. It turned into two hours of pure sweat. Because of course, the porch is covered with furniture and the floor has already been stained. So to do the first section, I had to move the furniture, put down the drop cloth, clean off the bugs with a broom (which is a whole other disgusting story), and drag out and put up the ladder.

Wow, when I type it out like that I really sound like I'm complaining about the most menial of tasks. (Reminds me of someone else I know.) I'm not complaining. I'm stating. There was a lot of prep involved.

I cut in the first section with a brush fairly quickly and decided to move on. I had to move the furniture back, move more furniture out of the way, move the drop cloth and the ladder, clean more bugs, and remove outlet covers. Then I could cut in the next section. And then I just kept going. Move, move, clean, remove, move, paint... again and again until the entire porch was cut. By the last section, I was so sweaty toast. I was forcing myself to keep going, to finish. (Nevermind that I had to clean up afterwards.)

Needless to say, I accomplished much more then I set out to do. But after that hot hot Saturday afternoon experience, I just couldn't bring myself to do it again on Sunday with the roller. Not even in that first area where the ceiling fan is going to go. The mere thought! (That and the fact we were at a house party until 3am Saturday night.)

But don't think that we ended up lazing about on Sunday. The day was as jam packed as it was sweltering. Mike loaded up the playground dude's tractor parts (yeah, it ended up being unworthy of fixing), tools, and a chainsaw. A  couple hours later he was back with the playground, drenched in sweat. He and his friend Marcus discovered that it was cemented into the ground... cemented as in 4' sonotubes into the ground kind-of cemented. And you thought it weird that he was bringing a chainsaw! They broke a truck jack trying to remove the thing and ended up having to cut it off its foundation.

While the boys were wrestling with the playground, Mikey and I were home with Timmy and Richard, who came over and wrapped the last side-stair post and installed the last railing on the side stair. After that, they were both wiped and called it a day. Timmy said he might have a stair-thingie at his shop that would fit for our front steps.... So he wanted to check that out before he started out front anyway.

It wasn't but a few minutes after they left that Mike and Marcus pulled in with the playground. We spent the remainder of the afternoon putting it together.

I had originally thought of facing the set towards the garage on the left side of the backyard. That plan had me worried because of all the poison ivy in that area, but with trees on the right hand side, I saw little other option. Mike suggested turning it the other way, facing the hillside, so it could go on the right hand side of the yard. I've got to hand it to him - it was the perfect spot.

But much like previous playground owners before us, we found it to be too unstable to just stand there in the yard. We'd have to cement it in. And luckily for us, we just happened to have four extra bags of concrete! The perfect amount for the four holes we dug around the tower portion.

After we poured the cement, we put on the slide and installed the two new swings we bought. (The third spot will be for an infant swing.) It looked good - really good. The slide is a little short... and weak from years of weather and use. We'll probably have to increase the angle and purchase a new slide. All in good time. I measured for the canopy and it looks like it will fit perfectly! Although we'll have to fashion a new ladder - the old one is not safe.

Now, in regards to the poison ivy on the other side of the lawn. Sunday night, Mike just mowed it all down. And the lawn looks AWESOME.

I know it's pretty hard to tell from this picture... but the area on the left by the septic vent? It looks awesome. Unfortunately, there's still poison ivy over there by that old Jeep thing. (The red thing by the tree in the picture.) And poison ivy is also climbing up the tree.

How do I know it's poison ivy? I looked it up on this website: http://www.poison-ivy.org/. The entire time, we just thought most of it was regular ivy, because it wasn't shiny and the leaves weren't reddish, as we had always been taught. Boy were we mistaken. The leaves don't have to be reddish or shiny. They can climb, creep, and even grow into a shrub! And the bad news is, there's no full proof way to get rid of it.

Mike is going to physically pull out the ivy by the Jeep. We have a whole bunch of it on our rock wall too, just to the right of this picture, out of frame. For areas where you don't want ANYTHING to grow, you can use a mixture of dish washing soap and vinegar. I'm going to try it on the rocks this weekend if time permits. I wouldn't mind that garbage of plants dying off. You can't even see the rocks!

And thus concludes our program. Thanks for reading.