Monday, July 20, 2009

the single life

So I am a single mom this week. This morning the two wee ones went off to DVBS for the morning, and I came home and continued work on uber-deck. I have the box for phase 2 built and attached to the deck that was built on Saturday. All I have to do it cut and screw in the deck boards and phase 2 is done. I built it on the premise that if the deck ever falls down in a heap from poor craftsmanship, or the hurricane of the century, I don't want it to be my fault. The rest of the deck may blow away, but that little 6x7 rectangle will still be standing. Overkill on lagbolts would be an understatement. But I have discovered that it is much more fun to build a deck with friends than by yourself. Probably safer too. Wood is heavy. I escaped relatively unscathed, minus a couple of scrapes, and I only hammered my own finger once. No large pieces of wood fell on me (thanks to my guardian angels, I am sure), and I still have all my appendages even after using the big scary saw several times. Oh, and a note to rookie builders out there- safety glasses are your friend. I am sure they're the only reason I still have both my eyes. Wood pieces flying everywhere.

I have actually tired myself out enough that I am not going to finish the deck today even though there is lots of day left to finish it in. Tomorrow will be fine for that. Time to veg.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

The wheels of progress

What a day- it started with the sound of pouring rain and thunder at 6:30 and E and me wondering if we were going to have anyone come over to help us with uber-deck in this weather. The phone rang 3 times- every conversation was the same. "You guys still building in this rain? Yea? OK, I'm on my way!" What good friends we have. The rain actually let up for a while, and it only downpoured on us a couple of times. Just nice for a cool-off and a break, and then the sun would come out again. Had 4 friends here in the morning for all the hard work of frame-building and leveling, and just after they all had to go at lunch time, another friend showed up and stayed till 6:30 to help with the final securing, laying of the boards, and clean-up. I had not thought we'd get this much done today- I am VERY happy! Phase 1 is complete.

Next week I am on my own- E and W are off to hockey camp for the week, and J and K are in a DVBS every morning. Phase 2 is a very small little rectangle to finish out the lower deck, so I am thinking that I can complete that on my own this week and gear up for a huge-all-day work party for phase 3, the ominous upper deck. I'm a little scared of that one, but if it goes as smoothly as today did (and if we get the same guys back, it will- they were all awesome!) it will be fine. Then phase 4- stairs, railings, benches and flower boxes- I'm not going to think about phase 4 yet. It scares me.

Today made me realize a few things.

One- as I mentioned, we have great friends. I already knew that, but as I was thinking of all the other things they could have been doing with their morning, it made me appreciate them all the more.

Two- there is one thing I don't like about renos. The regular housework must continue. It's very crappy to have to leave deck-building to make lunch and make sure the children are fed and clothed. But alas, that's life.

Three- I like wearing tool belts. They make me feel very useful and handy and they have lots of cool pockets to hold everything you need. Can't believe I went this many years without one.

Four- I may have gone a tad overboard on the deck. We only have phase one done, and it is already bigger than any other deck we have ever had. It's about 200 square feet, and the final product will be about 580 square feet. It's more of a summer home than a deck. But it's too late to turn back now. And I know we will enjoy it immensely when it's done. We live out back in the summer. But for the next half-hour or so, I plan to live in my jacuzzi.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Growing a green thumb

I never used to be much good at gardening- I needed the kind of plants that you couldn't kill if you tried, and even if they did die, they'd be sure to come up the next year for another try. I seem to have conquered that. For this season anyway. I'm glad I finally decided to break out the container of Miracle Gro that I bought when we still lived in NS and never got around to using. I'm sure that must have something to do with things. Not just my veggie garden either. The fuschia I have in hanging baskets outside are simply covered in flowers. I didn't have high hopes for them as they hardly get any sun where they are, but they have thrived and lend a lovely splash of colour to my front steps.

I have spied many more veggies growing in my garden - got my first glimpse of some baby cucumbers today, and the pumpkins are sprouting flowers. All three kinds of tomatoes are growing, and it should only be a matter of days before we can have our first feast on green beans. It was so nice to weed and water the boxes today feeling the crunch of river rocks under my feet instead of stepping on mud and weeds. There is much sunshine to be had today, and the kids are partaking in the usual sunny day ritual that involves getting wet in the pool and drying off in the trampoline, repeat ad nauseum. I love summer. Espeically when it is accompanied by actual summer weather. Lovely.

The lumber for our deck arrived, now I just have to place an order for sunshine. Yesterday it looked promising, but today the weather network is promising no sun- 20mm of rain. I'm sure you can build a deck in the pouring rain, but I am sure it is much less fun. I set up my patio furniture yesterday, preparing for some instant gratification once the lower level is done- just move the table and chairs from the garage to the deck- only to find out that the table had all the wrong hardware in the box. The company has kindly agreed to send the correct hardware- in 5-10 business days. So much for instant gratification. I plan to put the chairs out anyway with our second hand smaller table instead. I'll take what I can get.

I have also had the foresight to take some "before" pictures of the deck area so we will remember how much better it looks when it's done- didn't think to do that with my weedy garden.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Impatience, thy name is Bee

OK, so everyone knows I'm not the most patient person in the world. It was only my last post where I said that I would wait until next season to get rocks in my garden paths. They have since been obtained and nicely placed just where I want them. Friday morning I borrowed B2's truck (thanks again B2) and proceeded to bring home two truckloads of river rock. They are heavier than they look. Thank goodness my boys are getting old enough to enlist for manual labour and semi-heavy lifting. They helped me shovel the rocks out of the truck onto a tarp, and then spread them, one wheelbarrowfull at a time where I wanted them. I had to evict several tomato plants growing in my pathways in the process, but I knew they wouldn't have time to grow big enough to bear fruit at this point in the season. There are still a couple in cages in my pathways that I just worked around. It looks fantastic. I am sore. Rocks are heavy. But it's great- all the paths, and between the garden and the house is covered in lovely pretty little river rocks, and I won't have to mow any of it again. There are still some rocks left, so I will just spread them out where they could stand to be a little deeper. I plan to find some very large pots and put them here and there on the large area between the house and the garden to make it look extra pretty. And if anyone has a garden bench they are looking to get rid of, I could also give it a good home there. I love spending time out there.

The deck is going to start taking shape this weekend- it's official. Got the word from town hall today that the permit is ready, and the burly guys who know how to use tools are lined up for this weekend (and a couple who don't know how but are willing to just do as they are told). We have already started placing the support stones, and I am getting very excited about it. The deck furniture in boxes in my garage has been yelling at me to free it and give it a home on our deck. I hope to be able to oblige by the end of next week.

Bought a deep freeze yesterday- I'm going to need space to keep all the wonderful beans that are growing... and pumpkins, and broccoli, etc etc. And applesauce in the fall...mmmmm... It will be delivered tomorrow- between 7 and 5. And so I will sit by the phone all day. Guess I'd better get my errands run today and stick home tomorrow, as I always seem to be the last on their delivery list- I need to be available between 7 and 5, but everyone knows they will show up at 4:55. Glad it's supposed to be nice out tomorrow. Wonder what happens when they call to announce their arrival and I'm outside and don't hear the phone...

Still nagging regarding K's citizenship- you know it's bad when they start ignoring your e-mails. I've gone over my gal's head who is supposed to be helping me with this, so hopefully something will happen soon. If we can't get down south for Christmas, I will be a very bitter woman. BITTER.

And my thoughts continue to be occupied with S&B who are still on their adoption roller coaster. Such exciting news regarding V who may yet become a part of our family, and things progressing along with T. A couple of years ago, I never expected our family to be extended at all this way, let alone by 2 or 3 more!. God is good.

Time to go get groceries. And the building permit. Woohoo.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

A prettyish sort of wilderness...

I haven't blogged in a week because there really hasn't been much to blog about. Compared to my big sister's trekking around the Ukraine adopting a daughter, life here seems fairly dull. Blissfully dull, but nothing to write home, or blog about.

But this morning I went out to pay a visit to my veggie garden and got inspired to write. A simple topic, but one I wanted to put down on "paper". I've decided that maybe there is something to this compost thing after all. Some fresh ground, an entire barrel of my compost, a load of horse manure and a load of chicken manure and my plants are out of control. I've never had a garden like this in my life. I'm starting to see signs of produce everywhere. The beans are covered in little flowers, as are the peppers. The pumpkins, peas and cucumbers are reaching out little tendrils to grasp onto my vertical supports placed there for them. The tomatoes are bursting out of their cages and I counted several small green tomatoes beginning to grow with countless little flowers on the plants promising even more yummy tomatoes. I see a bright canning future in front of me this season. The underground veggies also appear to be doing well from what I can see. Carrots, onions and potatoes (in their greenhousey tire stacks) all look great on the surface, but I will have to exercise patience to see what is going on out of sight. I've already enjoyed a few salads with my lettuce and radishes, and when I peeked into the huge broccoli plants, I could see the beginning of some lovely yummy broccoli starting to form. I can taste it already. And the corn- friggin huge. And typical of most things, the sign of results makes me even more eager to work out there and get the most that I can for my efforts.

I have also concluded that I must have put tomatoes in my compost at one point. In half a dozen spots along the garden path tomato plants have sprung up out of nowhere. The tomatoes that I planted were seedlings, so I know I didn't drop any seeds. I can only assume that they survived the year or so in the compost barrel and have now come to life. After a little debating over what to do with them, I have decided to just grab some extra tomato cages and stake them right in the paths where they are growing and walk around them. I hope they grow quickly enough to produce some tomatoes this fall. It's the ultimate in recycling.

I was going to put some river rocks in the paths this summer, but things have grown so quickly in the boxes and paths as well, that I don't think I'll be able to work around them. Guess it'll be a job for the fall or next spring and until then I'll weed the paths, being careful to avoid any new tomato plants.