Saturday, May 31, 2008

The Blue and White Garden

I'm pleased with this white Primula seiboldii in my "Blue and White" garden. Bill and I moved them from his woodland garden last year.

Behind it is a royal blue Centaurea, not quite in bloom. I hope the Primulas last 'til the Centaurea comes out.

In other news from the Blue and White Garden... This Brunnera - also from Bill's woodland.

And Phlox divaricata. Bill gave me this years ago. I don't think it's from his garden. It's a native plant but I think he grew it especially for this spot.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Chicken Door?

Sadly, the new Kitty Door works equally well for chickens. I glanced up from dinner to find Henrietta making her way into the kitchen. Notice Murphy relaxing on the deck just outside the door and you can just make out Jake asleep in the chair. Apparently they don't mind that Henrietta's in the kitchen eating cat food.

But I'm not too happy about it. I'll have to remember to keep the screen door closed.

Monday, May 26, 2008

New View

Now that we have the wonderful new "kitty door" in the kitchen, we reinstalled the old one on the east end of the new room between the garage and the house (where it works perfectly for the first time in twenty-five years.)

The view to the east includes this small garden. (Top, before weeding; bottom, after.) I started this garden years ago primarily to eliminate the need to mow among the trees. I put in a few hostas for structure and transplanted some native ferns. Most of the rest of the plants are native. So the maintenance is mostly deciding which weeds to favor over others.

I always eliminate dandelions. I like them and I have plenty in the lawns. But they're too aggressive in the gardens.

And I always preserve B's favorite, wild geraniums. They're beautiful and a bit too delicate to make a statement without encouragement.

I was reflecting on my choices as I weeded. Take out Creeping Charlie (too aggressive - and face it, no matter how much I pull out, it will always be there); keep most of the Lysimachia (attractive ground covering foliage with great yellow flowers in season.) Keep some of the Celandine and a few patches of violets. It turns out that most of my efforts are to steer the plants I like to places where they look good.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Building Progress

I took this picture of the upstairs kitchen plumbing in case the building inspector didn't show up before the builders started to insulate and sheetrock in preparation for installing a temporary sink. He did come in time to see it, of course. He's been great about helping me with many stages of the project.

Anyway, here's the picture later in the day with the temporary sink in place.

And the view of the creek and the bridge from the kitchen window.

This is the living room last week before windows.

And now, though the window is partly hidden by the sheet rock leaning against it. There's a great view north to the garden (and primary deer grazing area.)

Picture the woodstove on the left and the computer desk on the right. On the very edge to the right is the door to the bedroom.

New Kitty Door

Okay. It's more expensive than the average kitty door - by a factor of 100. And it requires human assistance. But the cats love this door. They can see me in the kitchen and they can assess which other cats are about to ambush them on the way in or out.

In all honesty, they liked the old sliding door just as much. But I love this one. I can open it with one hand and without throwing my entire weight behind it. You know the routine: let the cats out, let the cats in etc all day long. Three cats out, one in, two out, one in and so forth.

Not to mention how much easier it's going to be to go out to the deck with a drink and a snack in my hands.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

And So it Grows...

We're making great progress.

This inside second floor view shows the connection to the log house. On the right, where you see the ladder, is actually where the stairs come up and the apartment door will be there soon. The bathroom will be on the left. In the middle will be a closet and, eventually, a door to the second floor of the log house.

More pictures later. There's an army of workers out there now and I'm going to work for some relative peace and quiet.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Let There Be Light

It's a little hard to appreciate my new favorite device from these pictures. But this "before" picture was taken with room light and flash. See the plywood circle on the ceiling?

It was replaced with this "Sun Tunnel" somewhat like the ones we have at my office. There's a lens on the roof and a highly reflective tube through the ceiling to this diffuser.

This "after picture was taken with no electric light and no flash. I should measure the light. But it's as bright as a florescent and I can easily work at my desk with no electric light. This room has no windows. So the Sun Tube also means I don't have to turn on the light just to walk through to my bedroom. I can't wait to get more of them! Let's see, one for the top of the stairs, one for the bedroom hallway, another near my favorite reading chair...

The building guys had never seen one of these. So, I I was happy to catch this highly unusual event on film: men reading instructions.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Errant Hen

This hen has been hanging around the construction site since we began. All our efforts to catch her and keep her with the other chickens have been thwarted. I admit my efforts were somewhat halfhearted because I thought she might be nesting. And I love to watch hens raise their own chicks.

Sure enough. As we started to clean up the pile of scrap lumber, we found this nest with fifteen(!) eggs. You have to admire the craftsmanship. Carefully arranged walnut leaf stems.

What to do? I want to move the lumber. And I want to save my new garden where she's been dustbathing.

Greg stepped in. Last week I gave him some eggs to incubate with his grandchildren. He offered to add these to the eggs in his incubator.

Last night the hen was roosting forlornly halfway up the new back stairs. I had no trouble picking her up and returning to the chicken coop. I feel a little bad about that. But it will be nice not to see new damage to the garden every day.

There's one hen still at large somewhere in the yard. I haven't seen her yet this morning, which leads me to believe that she's nesting somewhere, too.

New Best Friends

There's Brud.

And Greg and Gary.

And all the helpers whose names I get mixed up.

They show up like clockwork with incredibly noisy tools, creating unbelievable temporary chaos.

But with all due respect for the builders, this is my new best friend.

It opens.

And closes.

Incidentally, it locks, it's energy efficient and beautiful.

But the big deal is that it opens. And closes.

Those of you who've visited here know that I've almost never had a door that open without hauling on it or closes without kicking it and leaning on it. You know I have a simple life here. And I tend to make do with daily inconveniences rather than spend any money. And I especially resist replacing things if the old, barely functional thing, however inadequate, will have to be discarded. In this case, the old door can be reused in the new space between the back door and the new garage. It will help me remember never to take for granted the ease with which my new door opens and closes. And locks.

Watch this space for the new patio door leading from the kitchen to the deck.

Sunday, May 04, 2008

New Garage, part 2

By the middle of week two it looked like this:

Yikes. I'm getting the full impact of the fact that this is really an entirely new house attached to the existing one.

In addition to the garage, I get this lovely new entry way. You're looking through the wall that separates the garage from the entry. Unlike the old woodshed, this area will have sheetrock walls and a real floor - and windows! Remind me that I'm going to need doorbells. I really can't tell the difference between woodpeckers and people knocking.

You have to appreciate these stairs. I worked really hard to make this design work. I love Brud Nash and his crew. They never tell me something can't be done. Brud says, "Nothing's impossible. It just takes a little longer." Just wait 'til I show them how I want to connect the new second floor to the existing one.

Murphy thinks the stairs are okay.

Meantime, we finished repairing the pasture fence and brought Charlie home. Not as easy as it sounds. Apparently he's fallen in love with one of the neighbor's horses. He whinnied and looked back while I walked him the entire half-mile home. Back in his own pasture, he took the full 150 yard length of it at a full gallop several times, jumping the four foot wide drainage ditch as if he were half his age. I wish I had pictures of that.

While we waited for Charlie to settle down, we proceeded with one of the other ongoing projects: the garden fence. For some reason we've decided to get serious about keeping deer out of the garden. I've always compromised by resisting the temptation to grow lilies and rhododendrons and resigned myself to a certain amount of damage to the blueberries and fruit trees. Come to think of it, that's no compromise. It's a total victory for the deer. So, we're putting up this six-foot fence.

We removed quite a lot of sod. And moved it to the chicken yard. They're really appreciating the grubs and slugs that came with it. I'll keep you posted on how long it takes them to completely scratch it up and return it to it's original condition as a dustbath.

Saturday, May 03, 2008

This month has been better for doing "things worth the writing." No time for writing "things worth reading."
Skip over things I'm doing that keep me late at the office. I'll write about that eventually at Dryden Democrats.

At home, we've skipped spring cleanup and plunged directly into building an addition. I had to reroof this side of the house this year anyway so I seized the opportunity to add a garage and living space above it.

Here's how the old woodshed looked when we started.

Here's how it looked by the end of the week.

Right now I'm off to finish repairing the pasture fence so I can bring Charlie home. He's at summer camp with the neighbors.