Sunday, February 19, 2012

Gargoyle On Duty

   Two and a half years ago Ed built the stairs up to the apartment over the garage. We needed a place to live during the construction of the house, and we needed it right then. He knew that once the house was done, the stairs would come down and be rebuilt to integrate with the new porch. The first of the week the weather was good, and since it was part of the process for putting up rails for the house porch, the old stairs came down.
   Mittens, our six toed cat, likes to help. Her usual routine is to climb up the maple tree and onto the roof of the apartment. She then cries piteously until one of us gives in, goes out onto the apartment balcony and brings her down.  She could go back down the maple tree but she wants to reinforce who is in charge. This time she goofed. The stairs were gone and she was on her own. So after standing at the edge like a little gargoyle for a while, she d got bored and came down on her own.

On rainy days, Ed works in the basement, finishing the paint in the Man Cave. He wants it to look like an old mine shaft.  After some trial and error, he perfected his painting technique and put on the final coat. He literally wore out three paintbrushes on this project.
   After letting the paint dry, he went down yesterday and started hanging light fixtures.  Except for that little thing about not having enough light bulbs on hand, it all went smoothly. The lantern sconces are up in the theater room.
   This room still needs a ton of work. Ed still has to build beams for the walls and ceilings, install baseboards and trim out the doors. Since the weather report calls for rain all week, he'll have plenty of cave-time.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Porch Rails and Pruning

   Once the stainless steel counter tops were installed in the craft room, Ed put in the sink, faucet, and (my favorite) the vintage Boraxo dispenser. I took it all apart and cleaned out remnants of petrified Boraxo.  Ed mounted it on the wall and we filled it up. It's nice to know that some things don't change with time. Boraxo still has that wonderful grainy soapiness that I remember.

   One of the things we need to get done before the final inspection is porch rails. We ordered Clear View rails.  We have a similar product on the back balcony of the apartment. The front porch will have pickets and the back will have glass panels.
   Our neighbor Rick came over to give Ed a hand with the installation. Some things are just easier with two people working on them.

   As with everything else, each step makes a difference how it all looks. We still need the stair rail. The columns still need column caps and the upper portion wrapped.
   The two last big items will be a large cement pour for front, side and back walkways, and stairs off the back porch.
   The back porch rail and the upstairs balcony will have tempered glass panels instead of pickets. Ed is going to build very wide stairs in the center of the back porch. The stairs will require a hand rail only, which will leave a large portion of the back porch open to the view.
   In the last month, we've had rain, sleet, snow and yes, a week of glorious sunshine. The temperatures hit above 50* for several days in a row. Crabgrass knows what to do with sunshine, and so do I.  I dug out my gloves and clippers and went to work.
   The Wisteria-Vine-That-Ate-Chicago had to be hacked back to a manageable size. It had completely overgrown a huge rhododendron and half of a lilac bush. Blackberry vines were on a mission to outdo the wisteria.
   Himalayan blackberries are a non-native invasive species. For those that think that a wild blackberry pie is a good idea, well just walk over here so I can slap you. They take over and choke out everything they can. They have evil, vicious thorns. They are next to impossible to eradicate. That scene in Walt Disney's Sleeping Beauty where the thorns grow over the castle?  Blackberries...I'm almost positive. My arms got torn up something fierce...and this was a good year.
  The garden had no measurable attention last year. I raked leaves off the strawberry patch, pruned down the raspberries and pulled a pick-up truck full of grass.
   Then I did the unthinkable. I ordered seeds.