Wednesday, April 19, 2017

"SQUIRREL!" or Just Try and Finish a Project Around Here!

"Up!" is a favorite animated feature film of ours. The movie makes us laugh, tugs at the heartstrings (yes I cry a tiny bit, Scott and Paula both make fun of me), and root for Carl and Russell and Dug the dog. In the movie Dug and the other dogs are quickly distracted by squirrels. The mere mention of squirrels completely derails the dogs from any task or thought. Sounds familiar.

Both Scott and I are victims of squirrel syndrome, especially when it comes to working around the house. There are so many tasks to complete, so many things where a little attention moves the needle forward, it's hard to stay focused on the task at hand. Soon we are working on something else leaving the previous project behind, hopefully to be revisited before days end, or not.

The perfect example of squirrel syndrome, this time Scott, happened this week. Scott had previously taken down some of the large bushes at the left of the driveway (see previous posts) and there was a large pile of smallish logs by the side of the house. I came home Monday evening and Scott was out front making the logs smaller to fit in the yard waste bin and bags. I went in the house to change and when I returned Scott was gone. Still lots of brush and logs, but no Scott.

I turned the corner around the house and spied Scott in the back removing lower branches from the very tall arborvitae hedge between our backyard and the neighboring yard. I understand how he got there. Every time you walk to the backyard you have to brush by the hedge. The trees are in poor shape, lots and lots of dead branches and our neighbor mentioned that she would like to trim her side up so the branches didn't interfere with her garden. And Scott had a saw in his hand, so here it was 6:00 pm in mid April (getting a bit cooler and darker) and Scott had started a new project.

After an hour or so, removing many branches both alive and dead, Scott made good progress trimming up the lower branches of three of the eight trees in the back hedge. He also managed to triple the size of the brush pile. I was trying to keep up, making large brush small enough to fit in the yard bin. We finished cleaning up the brush and much of the log pile Tuesday evening, when I decided that the large gangly bush at the back of the driveway needed a bit of a trim. See? It happens to both of us!

Also in the category "Made progress, but not complete", this week Scott put a third coat of paint on the furnace wall in the garage, leaving only two walls, cabinets, ceiling and trim to complete. The blinds arrived and were installed in the master bedroom and bath and the laundry room (really emphasizing the need for paint in the laundry - another project). We are awaiting additional hardware to hang the blinds in the office. And we pulled the trigger on the chimney tuck pointing, but are still awaiting the schedule.

Master bedroom with new roman shade!

Laundry with flat roman shade!

Sunday, April 9, 2017

The (Almost) Spring-like Weather Continues

I've been very busy at the gallery the last few weeks and weekends leaving Scott to his own devices on Saturdays. As discussed in previous entries, we were removing the shrubs around the large pine trees to open up the sight lines to the house. Scott had accomplished most of that work the previous two weekends totaling something like eight yard waste bags. The are still some roots and lots of stones to remove from the area, but the plan is coming into full focus now.

Shrubs removed from the front Drive

Scott mentioned recently that he would also like to cut back the very overgrown pine bushes (now at least eight feet high) from the left of the driveway as you look at the house. I agreed it would be nice and that was about the extent of the conversation. As we drove up to the house at 6:30 on Saturday evening from the gallery Scott slowed the car to show me his days handiwork.  He had cut back the bushes to about twenty feet from the street and it looks amazing. It really opened up the driveway and sight lines to the house from the west.

View from the west - before

View from the west - after

There be mail boxes in that there ivy! And there was a whole pile of branches to be cut down, which we accomplished today to the tune of six yard waste bags. And of course there is more to more large bush needs to come down and then there is landscape planning including lots and lots of mulch. Our neighbor to the west has a lovely, manicured yard and I'll be talking to her about how to coordinate planting in the shared area behind our mailboxes.

Front yard after shrubs and (most) driveway bushes removed

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Welcome George and How Many Projects Can We Handle At One Time?

I mentioned in my last post that Scott started working in the front yard, removing the shrubs around the three large trees.  He has since almost completed this task, fifteen yard waste bags later. There are still roots to be removed and then the real work begins...removing all the large pebbles and smooth stones that have been collected for many years and grace the area. The idea is to provide a more contemporary look and clear site lines to the house.

We already purchased a really nifty soil sifter to work the rocks and pine needles out of the soil, and talked about getting a wheelbarrow.  But, traditional wheelbarrows are difficult for me to maneuver and if I'm going to help with the yard work we need something I can easily move around.  Enter George, my sporty new Gorilla dump cart!

George, my new 1200 lb Gorilla Cart

Scott says I just wanted a new wagon...well, who wouldn't? And a recent trip to Astoria scored a new pair of Ugg "Wellies" that will be perfect for working in the yard. I'm ready! Son Scott has already been put on notice that he and his pickup will be on mulch duty. He has agreed, but let me know that there will be a full-size pirate flag at the top of the mulch pile in the driveway. 

I should mention that Scott has also trimmed back some of the large rhododendrons at the corners of the house to allow easy access to the areas on the side of the house in anticipation of the exterior painting project. Most of the shrubs around the foundation of the house are too large and overgrown. They will be pruned back hard after they bloom. We'll see if they decide to come back.

There are lot of projects in the works right now. Inside we have the trim around the kitchen range (with son Scott's assistance) and shelf paper in the kitchen and bathroom cabinets to install. We need to complete the ceiling patchwork in the dining room and the drywall work around the electrical box. Interior painting projects are on hold until fall as we relish in the periodic spring-like weather. Instead, we'll focus on the front yard, drainage issues, exterior painting and the garage door. Maximizing storage in the garage, after painting the garage walls, is a stretch goal of mine so that we can clear the garage floor and finally park the Mini inside.

Scott wants me to mention that the closet storage projects are finally finished! We had a couple hiccups with EasyClosets, we received some wrong and damaged pieces. But their customer service folks are very diligent and we have now received and installed all pieces and parts and couldn't be happier with the results. The systems are easy to install, sturdy and look great.

I expect that we will be quite busy this weekend in the front yard, it's nice being outside. We may even finish some of the inside projects!