Monday, January 8, 2018

Winter 2018 - Random This & That Update

Happy New Year!  2018 is just one week old and we are having record breaking cold following Blizzard Grayson.  Here's what we have been to since last I posted.

Lunch on the South Deck

In my last post, we had just finished the deck on the South side of the house and with our newly powder-coated patio furniture  in place, we were ready to host a luncheon with Dean's sister, husband and kids on a nice sunny summer day.

An Unwelcome Visitor

We had planted a few Black Locust trees a few years back, and they were growing well and getting nice.  One of the trees started losing limbs - three to five every night for a while.  We were puzzled about what the cause was.  

We finally figured out that it was being munched on by a porcupine!

We had seen them occasionally and thought they were cute.  Not so cute when they are destroying your trees!

What to do???  Before I consulted Dr Google, we tried this:

Did not work.  

The Porc was able to climb right over the plastic.

Google had lots of info as you might imagine!  I found an article suggesting a way to trap them.  So we got out our Have-A-Heart, and baited it with apple wedges that had been soaked in salt water as the article suggested.

And we got him!  Under cover of night, he was re-located to the state forest. (BTW - it is not legal to trap and transport wild animals in many states)

But then a few nights later, while Dean was doing his nightly patrol, we found we had another one.

Not a great photo because it was dark.  

Dean threw a stick of firewood at him, and he took off and we have not had any back since.

If we had known it would be that simple, we could have got rid of the first one sooner and saved a lot of tree damage!

Summer Gardens

My various gardens and plantings are coming along.

The Dutchman's Pipe growing at the front entrance really filled out this year.

I planted a Clematis Paniculata - AKA - Sweet Autumn Clematis on the opposite post.  I have wanted one of these since discovering it many years ago, and I finally got one.  It makes a bunch of small fragrant white flowers in the fall.

Hollyhock.  Most Hollyhocks are biennial, but this one is a perennial.  I am going to plant a couple more next spring.

Agastache Mango Tango for the Hummingbirds.

My Little Quickfire Hydrangea bloomed for the first time this year.

Crocosmia Lucifer.  Hummingbirds like this one too.

Here's a couple of views of my Friends Garden.  I call it the Friends Garden because most of the plantings have come to me from friend's and family's gardens.

View of the garden shed.  The little fence is made from a bed headboard that I picked up for free on the side of the road.

Sedum and Ivy growing on the rock wall.

Book Shelf

Dean built me a book shelf.  It's fabricated from steel square stock.

Detail of welded joint

These little magnetic welding clamp gizmos keep the corners true.

Almost wanted to leave it like this - unpainted.  A cool industrial look.  But it would have rusted over time, so we painted.

Here it is with the first paint color.  I did not like it - too bright, too shiny, too Virgin Mary. Yes, I bought the paint, but it is so hard to tell what the real color will be from the color of the top on spray paint can!  Time for a re-do!

And here is the finished shelf.  We went with a flat finish and the color is more of a Navy blue.  It fits the space perfectly.

More Pebble Mosaics

We added two more Pebble Mosaics.  The basement entries on the North and the South both got them.

Here's the North side.

Gather some tools.

Organize the pebbles.

Prep the site.

In the past, we would mix wheelbarrow loads of mortar mix, but Dean got this sweet mixer from our friend Dave Brown.  Some lubrication and a new more powerful motor, and she proved a very helpful work mate.

I get to do the artistic part of laying in the pebbles.  It is a very Zen activity for me and feeds my creative soul.  But back breaking and rough on the knees!

Tamping down to level the surface.

Here it is the next day.  

You have to keep it cool and water it down for a few days for the mortar to cure slowly.

Our mortar mix was a little too soupy and many of the pebbles sank deeper than intended, but it still looks nice, I think.

The finished step with the form removed.

The South side was a bigger step that spans the double doors.

The pebbles.

My assistant.

The get-up.  Rubber gloves, knees pads, work boots and cut-off scrubs.  It's a look, right?!

My other assistant.

The finished mosaic.  We did a better job with the mortar mix consistency on this side.  You can see that the pebbles sit higher in the mix.

And a couple of detail views below.

This project used up pretty much all of the remaining stones and pebbles that we had collected over the years.  Many from Maine beaches, many from the Cape, some from Scituate, lots from our property here in Ashby, some glass stones from the Dollar Store, and a few from Campobello, BC.

With the form removed.


Next project - gutters on the South side.

But first, Dean is stripping and re-nailing and repainting the fascia board.

Dry fitting the system.

Securing the downspout.

Brackets in place.

It must have stayed like this for a while because as you can see in this next set of photos, the weather has gotten much colder.

The other downspout.

Building a Ramp

With the backhoe freshly back from having the front axle re-sealed and  five cylinders rebuilt, we were happy to press her into service and got to work building a ramp for the utility shed.

We built a couple of low walls on either side.  We used the hoe to move the heavier rocks.

And a hand truck to move some of the less heavy rocks.

Then we filled in with dirt.

And added a layer of pebbles.

And there you have it.  A ramp to access the shed.

Finishing some Soffit Enclosures

A couple of sections of the soffit on the house have remained unfinished, but not forgotten.

So this area is now enclosed.  There is one more section to be completed and that will likely wait until Spring.


And we have come to the end of this post.  Phew!  I wonder if I should consider shorter, more frequent posts, over these behemoth long postings.   Hmmm...

For now I will leave you with a lovely winter sunrise as seen from the dining room windows.