Thursday, May 31, 2007

Tiny Sprouts!

Here and there they are starting to appear. Now if only the robins don't eat them all...

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Lawn Seeded

Yesterday we seeded the lawn in the well-raked topsoil around the house. We rented a roller and rolled the seed in, which really helped smooth and compact the soil. Then we went to Big Lots and got several sprinklers and some soaker hoses and now we just have to water twice a day for at least the next two weeks. I can't wait for the grass to sprout!

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Stepping Stones

Natural rock is just the best, so we bit the bullet and went and got some from North Star Landscape Supplies. The large one next to the porch weighed 155 lbs! All together, this was 380 lbs of rock - and we could probably use a few more, we had to space them a little farther apart than I'd like. We hauled it all back to the house in Cary's 1984 VW Rabbit "Margarita". She's such a good, sturdy little car.

It'll REALLY look nice once the grass grows in around it. Which means I need to get back outside and do some more raking, so we can get that seed in the ground!

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Topsoil, Lovely Clay-free Topsoil

Yesterday we had dry weather, so Dad was able to get a LOT more work done on our lawn-creation project. He brought in 5 loads of topsoil to dress the ground right around the house. This brought the level of the soil up to just a few inches below the top of the porch slab, and then he smootly graded it into a gentle slope back away from the house. It looks amazing.
He also topped the driveway and parking area off with a load and a half of crushed gravel, which is just super. We need to do a fair bit of hand raking still but then we'll be ready to seed the grass, at least in the area right around the house. We also need to get some stepping stones or something to make a path from the driveway to the house.
I can't get over how much better it looks with the lower, rough part of the slab covered up by the soil! This is how it was intended to be, but I just kind of got used to seeing the rough edge, not to mention parts of the gutter drain system. Of course, we still need to clean up the porch to really see how nice the house can look, but we'll get to that... someday.
In the back of the house is where most of the hand raking needs to be done, as dad couldn't work too close to the septic, and the sun-eves made it tough to get too close to the foundation. I'm pretty motivated to get out there with the rake though and then to get the grass seed down asap!
Back away from the house, the larger part of the eventual lawn area still needs to be worked over, so we'll have another work weekend soon. All that area, although it is large, will be much easier to work with, because there's no house or other structure that has to be carefully worked around.

Thanks so much Dad, Dave, Jack & Cary... I'm really pleased with what we acomplished this weekend, despite the heaviest rain we've had in 4 weeks on Sunday. I'm just so ecxited - we're going to have a lawn! There's no burn pile! Yay!

Monday, May 21, 2007

Attack of the Monsoon Rains

Sunday morning we got started early with grading the area behind the house, under threatening skies. The idea is to gently slope the yard down from both sides and away from the house into a swale that will carry our winter rainfall off into the swamp. Things went well for a while, and I headed into town around noon to pick up some grass seed in case we got that far.
However, the weather had other ideas - by 2 PM (when I got back with the seed) it was pouring down rain. Dad valiantly continued to work until the entire swale was roughed in... and it quickly began to do its work, funneling the downpour off into the swamp. In the background, you can see the remains of the burn pile, still smoldering.
Eventually, things just got too wet and sloppy, so even Dad (who had a roof over his head on the excavator) had to give up and come inside for dinner and a hot shower. Standing, muddy water was everywhere, and the top couple inches of our clay had turned to slurry.
If nothing else, at least the rain showed us where the drainage needed to be! Our little system of swales looks like it will really do the trick. Once we get them smoothed out a bit more and grow some grass on them we should have a nice, relatively well drained lawn.

Tomorrow (or maybe later tonight if I get bored) I'll put up the pictures from today's work, in Part III: Topsoil.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Burning, Mowing & Grading

Yesterday my Dad came over with his tractor, numerous implements (mower, tiller, rake, harrow, roller) and of course, his dump truck. We also rented an excavator locally. Cary's Dad and his friend Jack also came out, and between the four of them they really did a lot of work! (I was away at my annual office retreat/meeting. Talk about good timing!)

Here's Dad hooking the mower up to the tractor. You can see several of the other implements in the background. It's so wonderful to have access to all these things, AND to someone who knows how to use them all. :)
Cary mowed while Dad worked the excavator. Notice how far reduced the burn pile is! That was a big priority for the day's efforts, and it is great to have finally gotten rid of that giant eyesore.
In preparation for building the wedding pergola, we cleared a few more trees at one edge of the yard. Jack got in on some tree-falling, and his 45 degree angle-cut technique proved to work quite well. After the trees had been cut, Dad got in with the excavator and pulled out their stumps, as well as this giant old stump from somebody else's past logging efforts. The trees and stumps went straight on the fire, of course. :)
All in all, it was a very sucessful day. With the fire stacked up again with all the new material, the guys all headed inside for beers and bbq salmon, richly deserved!
Tomorrow I'll get the pictures from today's further accomplishments (and freakish monsoon rains) up...

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

R.I.P. Pinchi

The best pet prawn a person could have has gone to the happy pond in the sky, where the minnows are fat, slow and abundant. He will be missed.

(No, I did not take that picture (I wish!). It's from the internets. But it looks exactly like him.)


A week or so ago, when the Ericsons were up visiting, we heard a loud "CRACK!" come from the kitchen. The source was not immediately apparent... no-one was in the kitchen at the time, no cats looked guilty, and the pasta was still simmering along merrily on the stove. The next morning when we were making breakfast we discovered that the glass cook-top of the kitchen stove had cracked. It ran all the way from the left front burner (which is where the pasta had been cooking) to the opening for the exhaust vent. Apparently, thermal shock occasionally proves to be too much for these cook tops, which surprised me. We called Mark & he called DeWaard & Bode (our local appliance dealer) and their guy came out right away, took a look, and ordered us a new stove top. It's so nice to still be under warranty.

Anyway, the new cook top is being installed today. The crack didn't really impede our cooking or use of the stove in any way, but it'll still be nice to have everything back in good condition.

I realize I've been slacking on the blogging lately, but I promise to do better! I guess there are just only so many blog entries a person can do about cutting grass & shovelling gravel. But... This weekend Dad is coming over and we'll be burning the big pile and starting on the grading of the lawn area, so look for some exciting (ok, maybe not that exciting...) pictures of that on sunday or monday.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Rope Swing

Sunday Cary, Bo & Nick (and Moira) put up our first rope swing, in a fine cascadian spring drizzle. They selected one of our larger aspen trees behind the shop for this honor. Cary harnessed up and climbed the tree like a monkey, pulling the rope up behind him.
Once he tied off the rope to a stout branch near the top, Cary climbed back down the rope limbing the aspen until he got back to the ground. Nick & Bo cleared some brush and cut away some smaller trees around the base.

Watch out below!
Unfortunatly, this is the best picture I got of the finished swing in action. Stupid rain drops on the lense! For the time being, since the ground is relatively flat around the swing tree, the best swing comes from jumping out of the crook in this smaller aspen. Eventually, a platform will probably be built for easier accessability.
While this isn't nearly as epic as the old Farm rope swing, or as crazy as Dan & Kriss', it's still exciting that we have a rope swing again. Its just one of those things that makes life better. :)