Landscaping and Halloween Space
 

So a lot has been done with the house since my last update. Almost all the windows save for the attic window have been trimmed, and they are getting fancy copper accents on the top. Rain, rain and more rain kept delaying work and the finishing of the back porch/wall area. There is a photo of it below with some of the blue stone caps on top. These have to be finished, and will also be the same material for the patio area there. We are still waiting on our lights for the pillars, of course there was an issue with the ones we ordered. The company can’t find them in the warehouse and wants to sell us similar ones, for a lot more money. Um, I don’t think so!

Out front I got suckered into helping with landscaping the past few days. Today I finally said “Oh no, I’ve done enough shoveling, carrying large rocks and carting wheelbarrows of dirt!” It was a great workout, but I need a break. Fortunately they finished the last of it today . . . after all the heavy rock carrying had been done by yours truly. Most of the rocks you see in the photos below I carted from an old pile 100 feet or so away. Next to the side of the house, where the brick wall is now in the photos, was an old rock wall. They took it out, piled the rocks out back and the brick wall and a drain to keep water out of our basement. We reused those rocks out front. You can actually see the pile in the photo in the previous post I made.

There are still a few touch-ups to be done. The rock wall out front near the sidewalk and small shrubs isn’t yet finished, and the sidewalk area by the front steps is going to be expanded/widened out. Also a lot of grass or sod has to be put down in areas in the back, and some new grass out front as well.

While I’m thrilled that our house doesn’t look like white-trash anymore, I’ve lost so much prime real estate space for Halloween decorations, and the spooky atmosphere of the “woods” next to the house is totally gone! Where the two southern magnolia trees are now is where I used to have the cemetery gate and spooks hidden back among the trees. Two of the trees had to be taken down because they were rotting, one actually fell on it’s own in a big storm. We also had all the saplings that had been growing ripped out, and sums fugly bush thing. As you can see in one of the photos from the back, there is now a natural break between two mulched areas. There was always a path through there, it just got over grown, and another tree was in the way. I’m thinking the gate will go there, with some stuff placed behind it. I’m hoping it will, if lit right, cast some nice shadows on the side of the house. The front yard though . . . that’s gunna take spatial planning. At least I should have a usable porch again this year. John’s already ordered my birthday gift/s and said I’m going to be so shocked by them. Can’t wait! It’s months away though . . .

 

My Garden Is Growing!
 

So I finally got my garden in. I didn’t get it totally done until the end of May thanks to all the yard work going on, the cooler than normal temperatures and way too much rain. A photo of it is below, and yes it looks ghetto. It is even more ghetto than normal given all the work debris in the yard. Believe it or not, this was the nicest angle I could take it from. If you’ve been following me for awhile, you’ll notice the fence around the area is completely gone. It opens our backyard up so much. Now if the rain would end so the patio could get completed and some of the junk hauled off.

Thanks to critters, (chipmunks, rabbits and groundhogs), I have to put my plants up as high as I can to keep them out. The cinder blocks really add that white trash look we’re trying to get rid of, and I didn’t think until too late to use segments of an old tree we had removed. A few pots are on those, and they at least look nice. By time I was getting ready to place and space things out, most of the tree had been hauled off.

A lot of the places critters been living here are now gone, so I’m hopeful this year won’t be as bad. I do know Mr. Groundhog and Miss Rabbit are still around, I think they relocated to the neighbors barn. I have tried all kind of critter ridders and sound machines to keep them out, but eventually they end up getting me! However there isn’t much I can do right now as once the porch area is done, and the final window touches are put on the house, the contractor has to tackle repairing and fixing up our garage. This is next to my garden area, so I couldn’t put too much down that would get in his way. What I’m hoping to do next year is put in a raised bed system and a small fence around just the garden. We we see though. Every year when my garden finally gets attacked I swear I’ll never garden again.

This year I am growing some new things. The list of everything I’m attempting to grow is below. I believe I’ve grown all the tomatoes at one point or another. The second list is all new. While I’ve done green peppers and Japanese eggplant, I’ve ever done any of these varieties. It should be interesting to see how they work out.

  • Classic heirloom tomatoes
  • Beefsteak tomatoes
  • Rutgers tomatoes
  • Super roma tomatoes
  • Better boy tomatoes
  • Super fantastic tomatoes
  • Orange bell “sweet” peppers
  • Mini bell pepper mix.
  • Sweet banana peppers
  • Mini Gretel eggplants.

Lastly, I know some people have found my blog since I departed Facebook. If you wish to be notified when I update, you can fill this form out to subscribe to the blog. You can also do the same thing by checking the box below the comment form if you wish to leave a comment at some point. Finally you can also use the RSS Feeds link if you have a newsreader of some kind installed into your browser and simply add the blog in. I’m not sure how many people actually use newsfeed readers anymore in the age of twitter/facebook.

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Facebook Is No More
 

So after a year of my love-hate relationship with Facebook, I finally did it and just got rid of it all together. I had actually deleted all my status from past years, photos and videos awhile ago. Let me tell you that is not an easy thing to do going back to 2007. I would then periodically clean my wall of recent stuff. I don’t know why I started doing this honestly. I think it was my version of slowly trying to get myself off Facebook.

Lately though Facebook has been less fun for me and often would make me angry, upset and raise my blood pressure. I actually had deactivated the account last weekend and survived a week without it. My initial thoughts were to eventually go back and purge my friends list of all but close people that I knew and liked. However when I tried to do that, I found myself unable to. I felt bad about unfriending people, and the there was the issue “if I unfriend this one, but not that one, they are mutual friends and the first will know and wonder why I ditched them…” It just became too much, and I ended up deleting a whopping ten people and still had 305 friends, many I knew I should just get rid of but again couldn’t seem to be mean enough to do.

So I the end I decided the easiest thing was to get rid of it. Now Facebook does not make this easy at all. You have to google to find the real way to delete, not deactivate your Facebook. They also don’t immediately delete it, you have to not log in for 14 whole days and then they remove it. It unfortunately becomes really easy to end up changing your mind and saving it from permanent deletion. I know! There is also the “connected apps” that can accidentally revive your Facebook. So I resorted to drastic measures. I went and unfriended all 305 people. That way there wasn’t much to bring me back. Then I made a random email on my server I would never remember, made that my default Facebook email, set the account to permanently delete … then deleted the random email I made so I again couldn’t retrieve it! Yeah, that was way too much work to get rid of Facebook!

Now I actually have to let what I did sink in and get used to not being on it. I do wish I had saved a few contacts that I now realize I didn’t have in my phone. However if someone really wonders where I went to and really wants to find me, it’s not hard to do that for me with Google. I imagine this blog may be getting a few more hits over this week from people doing just that. Who knows, maybe now I’ll actually blog more, because what I would normally share on Facebook I can post here. I think I am gunna need a new blog category for “John’s Brother Stories.”

 

Flowers In The Attic
 

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The “Flowers in the Attic” books (also known as The Dollanganger Saga) by VC Andrews were the first real adult books I ever read. The only reason I even read them was because the mother of my best friend at the time owned them and had them locked in a glass bookcase for all to see, but not touch. My friend and her siblings would always say those were dirty books, which is why their mom locked them up. So of course me, being in the 7th grade, purchased them the next time I went with my mom to the grocery store. I actually bought it at the Crown Bookstore that was next-door to the local Giant.

I remember not being able to put “Flowers” down and reading it in the span of 24 hours. Then I of course had to buy the rest. I remember “Petals on the Wind,” which was the longest of the books if memory serves me, took me forever to get through. It wasn’t as gripping as the horror of the first. It basically was just about the abusive relationship they all ended up in. The third was down right twisted, and the forth was just a depressing ending to it all.

If you have been living under a rock, Lifetime TV has made movies of the first two books. “Flowers” aired in January and “Petals” just aired tonight. I will say that the “Flowers” movie disappointed me. The acting of the main kids was terrible, I didn’t feel the fear or terror in the book, and even the dirty scenes just weren’t shocking. I was actually rooting for them all to just die by the end. However Lifetime greenlit the sequel even before the original aired, and it’s a good thing they did, because it might not have come about it they waited for the reception “Flowers” got from many like myself. “Petals” was phenomenal! It was definitely better than the book. Whereas I hated that they cut so much out of “Flowers,” the cuts to “Petals” were welcomed. I haven’t read these since I was 12/13, but I plan to reread them over the summer and before “Thorns” and “Seeds” air.

Oh yes, Lifetime is making all four of the original books into movies. There is no word whether “Gardens,” which was a prequel about the Grandmother and Grandfather, will become a film.

 

Happy Birthday Ebbie!
 

So last week was Ebbie’s birthday. She was one years old on the 18th. I totally forgot as I had so many other things going on :( I’m a bad doggy daddy!

Ebbie turned out to be a tiny Westie. She’s smaller than Princess, who is considered ideal for a Westie. Most Westies I’ve met tend to be a little bigger than Princess. Nikko, the Cairn, is actually a bit bigger than an average Cairn should be. Most Cairns are smaller than Westies!

I’ve been forced to feed Ebbie kibble for now. I’m trying to get weight on her scrawny butt, and kibble has the carbs that do it. I don’t like feeding kibble as it usually is what Princess was allergic too. However she’s shown no signs of any itching or paw biting like Princess did as a puppy, and as you can tell from the photos she also isn’t getting the beard staining. Though I did just bathe her because she was a dirty puppy. She likes to roll in the dirt more than anything else.


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Princess, Ebbie and Nikko

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Princess and Ebbie.

 

We Really Need Another Brick In The Wall
 

So our big ole ditch out back finally has been filled in with all sorts of high-tech draining system stuff, and they are onto bricking over the ugly cinderblock wall. Unfortunately because it was so wet this whole week, they didn’t get far. Sadly the week coming up doesn’t look much better. Apparently it’s not good to do masonry work when it’s raining or to moist out, it is bad for the mortar.

In the photos below you can see the start of what is planned. Hopefully they will make a dent in this work tomorrow before all the severe storms move in. The pillars you see here will all have some kind of lights/lanterns on the top.

Were the wall bends in is where our new bluestone patio is going. This will also wrap around the backside of the house where our back door is. The indentation is going to be my grilling area, and eventually I hope to get some kind of table and chairs to put out there so we can enjoy the patio.

We are also working on getting some new bushes put in soon. So much of the brush and trees had to be removed, really exposing the back of our house to the street. We are hoping to put something back as a shield, not just for privacy but especially for the noise from the road.

One thing we really need back though is our A.C.. They took this out in order to grade the land for water and dig all the ditches. Unfortunately one of the reason we are getting storms this week is the heat is soaring into the mid-to-upper 80s. We have several windows open now to create a breeze, but it’s also bringing in the dreaded pollen. It seems like every year right when we need the A.C., we don’t have it for some reason or another!

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Spring Is Here! My Garden Is NOT!
 

So spring is finally here, and our house is actually coming along. The contractor is back to working on the outside, thank God! Come fall or winter of next year we are looking to redo our kitchen and bathroom. After last year, I am going to stress that this should happen AFTER the holidays. I want to be able to get decorations up in a timely fashion and without fear of breakage this year.

Right now they are working on our patio and side wall that will also include a French drain to carry water away from our house. The patio is going to be done in bluestone. It will also include short pillars with lights/lanterns on them. I don’t know what the whole thing will look like, the final design hasn’t been set in stone . . . except for the bluestone on the ground. There may be a pergola and backsplash put up for me to put my grill in front of to guard from the wind, which always comes from that direction.

I took the below photos this weekend when it was nice out. They actually did a lot more work since I took these, but the weather turned horrible these past few days and I haven’t had a chance to take new ones. I’ll try and do that this weekend or next week for an update.

Gum Wrapper Rings First up, the bushes in the front of our house got a massive trim, especially the one on the left. The purple walkway is being replaced. I put these old doormats down during halloween to cover all the cords for the lights so that nobody tripped on them and sued us. We are going to use the large stones from our old back porch to make a staggered sidewalk out front. I’ll just have to post photos to explain, but think of the chains made from stick gum wrappers . . . if you remember those things. Here I’ll just add a photo to the left!

The black goop on our house walls in the one photo is what has been applied all over to seal the foundation so that water will stop leaking into our basement. So far so good! Well except for yesterday when we got 5+ inches of rain in 24 hours. We had a very tiny bit of water in the basement, but nothing like the flood we would have had. We also had a nasty back-up with our septic system, but that has been cleaned up and we don’t need to talk about that crap :)

My garden area looks a little bit better than it does below. The giant pile of dirt is gone, but that’s about it. If you’ve followed me, you’ll also notice the entire fence around that area is gone too. I am hoping to do something with that area and have things planted by mid-May. I have told the contractor I must be able to garden, as it is comforting to me. Most of my friends, and even John, think it’s silly since I live on a farm and can just go pick whatever I want from the fields. I always say “That’s not the point! I want to grow it myself!” I like growing my own veggies, though I don’t like the yearly battles with the critters. This year though the groundhog holes got filled up completely and covered with rocks, a lot of rocks. I hope they don’t return!

The porch is almost entirely finished, aside from the one end shown in this photo. They haven’t fit the railing on there because of the giant vine growing. That’s John’s precious wisteria plant, which he has agreed to cut finally. It runs up to the very top of the tree to the right of our house, and the only wisteria that blossoms seems to be at the very top of it . . . which is so high you can’t even really appreciate it.

The other photos are mainly of the retaining wall they’ve been building to redirect rainwater and runoff away from the house. It looks ugly in these photos, but it will be covered with a nice brick facade eventually. This is partially where our new back/side porch will be as well. They’ve actually filled all the trenches in these photos in.

The house still needs a final coat of paint, the roof then needs to be tended to, and finally they have to finish with all the window trim.

While they take care of that this summer, I have to work on organizing the inside of the house a bit better. I finally bought some new dressers, I just have to clean out the old ones, chuck them, and move the new ones into the downstairs rooms. Next up at some point will be a new desk for the room that will be my office! This way I’m not sitting and working in the dining room area . . . where I’ve been for the past 12 years.

 

Re-Enacting Poltergeist
 

So the construction continues. Currently they are digging trenches around our house in order to seal our basement walls and foundations to keep water from leaking into the basement. They are also putting a drain in to help too. Unfortunately we ended up with torrential downpours this weekend, filling one of the trenches. They at least sealed this wall first!

I took the opportunity to re-enact some scenes from “Poltergeist.” I initially only did “You only moved the headstones!” until a friend requested I jump in there in a nightshirt and panties to re-enact the swimming pool scene. Hell no I wasn’t doing that! I did respond with a photo of “Oh my God Stephen, the swimming pool!”

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Spring . . . It
 

photo So we are experiencing lovely “Spring-Like” temps right now, but it won’t last. This coming Thursday . . . snow is possible. Then next Monday and Tuesday . . . more possible snow. I don’t think Spring is EVER coming! Now I love snow, but I’m at my limits. I want the yard done so I can start planting grass and working in my garden areas.

On an up note, the nice weather we have been having has allowed our contractor to get a lot of work done outside. The front porch is ALMOST done. We also have the final new window in the attic/crawl space, as well as the boards sanded down up there. It still needs some paint. Now all that will be left is final coats and of course all the window trims.

My old garden area by the garage is getting a facelift. They are tearing down the fence there, which really makes the yard look bigger. With a large tree gone out back, and more smaller ones to be taken down, we are now getting a lot more sun. I may be able to move my garden elsewhere this year. Oh and the best part yet, they filled in all the groundhog holes! I’m not sure that will last though.

Soon they will be working on a French drain on the side of the house to stop basement water issues. The back porch area is now being disputed. The built in grill is out, we couldn’t seem to agree on anything (we being John and myself, he was being ornery about what kind of grill . . . as if he would even use it), and I got fed up and just nixed it all. I have my small charcoal grill I like, and I may get a small gas grill I’ve had my eye on since last summer. I have now suggested a smaller porch area and a large fenced in area at the back door and side of the house for the dogs to be outside and safely unsupervised. Being able to let the dogs out and have them hang out outside as long as they want seems to be a better deal anyways.

 

Home Renovations Continue
 

So we are coping without Moo Kitty. I picked up his ashes this week, to be added to our collection. Our vet now makes a cute little plaster paw print like little kids do with their hands in pre-school. It’s so adorable! To be honest, none of the other animals miss him. He was a mean mofo and was a cat that really needed to be in a one pet home. He loved his humans, but he hated the other animals and was mean and bullied them. None of them seem to be morning him. That actually makes me sad to think about.

As I can’t dwell on Moo forever, I am typing this as I’m watching the Olympics and waiting for the latest Snowpocalypse to hit. Actually it’s moved in right now as I’m editing this post. So the point of this post was to finally share some photos of the work on our house. They’ve done as much on the inside as they can for now, and have moved back to working on the outside. Yeah, bad timing! They won’t be back till next week I’m sure.

Our new kitchen nook is “almost” done. We have walls, we have paint going down to the basement and we have lights. We are missing our new sky light, but that is pretty much because of weather at this point. We did get some much needed cabinets and more counter space . . . YES! That’s what I wanted more than anything. However these are all temporary. These cabinets, pictured below, will go into our brand newly refurbished and cleaned out basement area when we finally begin renovations on the rest of the kitchen. I’ll post some photos on the basement area soon enough, or you can visit my instagram link and see some early photos. The final cabinets that will go into the kitchen nook will match what we pick for the rest of the kitchen, when we redo it. We also only have a temporary floor in the nook, as we are waiting until the final renovations for it as well.

I will say that John picked the color. He was set on this lighter chartreuse color. Why I don’t know! I guess it will grow on me. I hope . . . Everyone on Facebook of course loves it.