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Weekend fun

June 9th, 2018 at 06:46 am

"Dido" is now winging her way to my place for a visit. She should be here just in time for lunch. Smile

It will be a short overnight visit so I haven't planned too much. What's nice is that the 1st 3 activities all take place in the same location.

1. A walk on our paved walking trails.
2. The butterfly party and pet adoption event.
3. Art exhibit
4. Drinks on my new patio.
5. Dinner out with dad.

Here's the new patio, after I "decorated."




What you see is the well cap, which I'm pretty much stuck with, so I decided to have them do a circular walkway around it that leads to an old set of stairs going to the driveway.

The pagoda on top of it is only missing its top; I found it at the landfill and brought it home. I stuck a flower pot in the top instead and will maybe put some vinca vines in there so the vines cascade down and soften the concrete look. Can't plant too many flowers because the woodchuck will eat them. If anyone has any other ideas for softening/beautifying the look of the ugly concrete, let me know!


I really like the 2 rattan-look planters. They are actually some kind of vinyl, so they'll stand up to the weather, and were just $20 each at Aldi's. The flowers were actually more expensive.


I just bought this fountain for the patio and I really like it. A pump sends the water bubbling up to the top, where it then overflows and cascades to the lower level "cups" you see. I threw some colorful marbles in there just for fun.

Since it's a plug-in, I have it near the one outdoor outlet I have, which conveniently is close to the kitchen window, so I can hear the sound of trickling water if I listen carefully at the sink. Smile


Here's a little garden inside the paver walkway, filled with ground phlox, mostly. After selling all my other perennials back here, I decided to keep the phlox. It's not looking so spiffy at the moment as they pulled out and killed a lot of it but should be fine next spring.

Work zone

June 1st, 2018 at 12:37 pm

The long-awaited patio rebuild is underway. What a mess!

They arrived just as I was getting ready to leave for my friend's house to continue helping him declutter his condo. Basically so his family doesn't have to worry about that. His PSA levels are sky-high (around 2200 when "normal" is 2 or 3). Things don't look good for him.

We cleaned out his small attic and I also went with him to WalMart where he wanted to buy a new mattress for a new twin frame he bought so he can sleep downstairs and not have to climb the stairs. I brought boxes of stuff to Good Will afterwards.

So it was just as well I had somewhere to go for a few hours at least because having major work done at my house kind of stresses me out.

They have made amazing progress in just 1 day. They are 4 or 5 over-50, topless Macedonian men with heavy accents working for the kid who now runs the show after having learned the masonry trade from his dad. They work like dogs; I hope they are paid well. If the price I'm paying is any indication, they are.

All the materials were delivered by heavy truck on my new driveway. Hope it stands up. There are pallets of pavers on my lawn. Sure hope it survives. And there's a large pile of old bricks also on the lawn which is making me cringe.

They have already excavated a neat, large rectangle about 6 inches down. They had to excavate becus the siding on the back of the house is only a few inches above ground, so if they didn't dig it out, the new pavers would be up against the siding, which I didn't think would be a good idea.

So they'll be dumping a large amount of dirt nearby on the north side of my house where I've been wanting to plant grass but which now has a lot of vinca and some poison ivy. I have a feeling both of those will easily survive several inches of soil being dumped on them so it may be pointless to sow grass seed when I know vinca will be popping up through it. I use a vinegar/salt/dish detergent spray to kill poison ivy (slowly) but vinca has a waxy coating that is impervious to sprays.

They unearthed a strange old pipe coming straight up out of the ground a good 10 feet from the house. No idea what it is; maybe part of the makeshift drainage system previous owners rigged up. I have come across an old house gutter they buried underground in an effort to divert water from the house.

So the finished patio will actually sit lower than the rest of the yard (kind of like an amphitheater?), and they'll use some Belgian blocks to edge it off. I hope it looks okay. A little hard to picture. They are also sloping the patio every so slightly so any rain runoff will flow away from the house.

I am hoping the whole thing will be finished in less than a week, in anticipation of Dido's visit next weekend. Right now it's quite the construction zone. Update: He said it will be done by Tuesday, or just 4 days!

Here's what it looked like "before."



This shows the overall size and dimensions of the patio. It's going to be huge!


One of 2 large piles of the old bricks on my lawn. He said they'll be gone tomorrow.


I told them they could dump the excavated soil here, where I don't have much grass growing and where there are a lot of potholes from various plants dug up


This shows how much they had to excavate. They will also be doing a little square walkway around the bird statue. I hadn't originally planned on making this part of the project, but I ran out of steam digging up all my plants back here and at the same time couldn't bear to see my phlox destroyed, so he agreed to do this part at cost...because I recommended him to at least 3 people who have ended up hiring him. Not to mention this is my 3rd big project with him (and not the last).

So anyway, the little square will be one step up from the main patio. I think it'll be fine.

My unfortunate lawn is suffering under the weight of several tons.



Staging area for I don't know what.


Spring has arrived on the heels of the storm

May 20th, 2018 at 04:53 pm

Some pix of the yard, now in bloom!


Allium


Azaela


View to the northeast...a forest in the making.


Hard to believe I planted this giant doublefile viburnum when it was just a wee stick seedling. Now I've planted some of its seedlings, too!


Closeup of the viburnum flowers.


North side


Ground phlox

And that's just the front yard!


Friday Doings

May 11th, 2018 at 05:44 pm

I'm posting more stuff for sale for my dad on Facebook Marketplace. I was over there today to take pix of a canoe, a kayak, a dozen old earthenware jugs, an old rocking chair, a steamer trunk and an old table.

He's gotten very strong interest in the kayak, some interest in the canoe and even some interest in the old jugs, which surprised me. (They're pretty beat up.) Evidently, Friday night is when everyone shops on Facebook Marketplace.

It's kind of a pain in the neck becus a lot of people ask if it's still available and when i say it is, would you like to see it, i never hear from them again. It's a lot of back and forth with people who may or may not be serious.

So far, I have two guys scheduled to come tomorrow afternoon, and one person coming for the smaller jugs. It's supposed to rain so I hope that doesn't cause some people to cancel out.

UPDATE: We sold the canoe, kayak and more than half the jugs.

Had a nice chat with my lawnmower guy, who surprised me by telling me this would probably be his last season mowing. He invented a deicer product so he wants to spend more time marketing it at trade shows. I have someone in mind to take his place next year, and I think this may be an opportunity for me to possibly reduce the cost from $45 per mowing to $40 per mowing. As it is, I only have it done every other week, to save money, and to give the many interesting wildflowers a chance to bloom.

My new 56 volt cordless battery blower was delivered today. I have a 20 volt blower now, but as much as I love using it to clear debris and leaves off my driveway, it lacks the power to use on grassy surfaces.

Hence the new 56 volt blower, which I plan to try out tomorrow. I was considering hiring the guy who cut up my fallen crabapple tree to do a spring cleanup, which is basically using blowers to blow leaves off the lawn and perennial beds. He never did tell me what he'd charge, but I'm pretty sure the blower I just bought will pay for itself in 1 or 2 seasons.

So I'm charging up the battery pack now. Compared to my 20 volt battery, this one is a monster! It looks capable of sending a small child into outer space.

I'm getting impatient waiting for a start date from my patio guy. He's running behind schedule. He promised a start day for me by tomorrow, and I'm hoping it will be sometime next week. I'm expecting an out-of-town visitor, hopefully this month, and I'd like the patio to be done before she gets here! And yes, she's an SA member. Smile

Here in Connecticut, plant sales abound this time of year. Usually, it's the local garden clubs that do this. There are 2 tomorrow I am thinking of checking out after my early morning yoga class. Then there is the Tractor Supply Market Day, where local craftspeople will be set up in the parking lot. Later that night, dinner with dad, and meeting a guy I sold a light stand to last year to give him a tiny lightbulb I found that I think goes with the light stand. It's an unusual bulb, and he said yes, he wanted it, so I'm meeting him in the parking lot of the restaurant I'll be going to with dad.

So..another busy day, for sure!!

Poison ivy AND hives

May 7th, 2018 at 06:20 am

I've been doing lots of yard work lately, and while the poison ivy wasn't even up, leaves-wise, even touching the roots will get you, and I think that's what happened.

So on Friday I found a big welt on my chinny-chin-chin, my finger, inside my wrist and my right side. I scrubbed everything well with Tec-Nu, and for the next few days, nothing spread from the 4 primary locations. It was mostly a pain in the butt as I tried not to rub it when sleeping.

UPDATE: Woke up last night around midnight to discover, to my horror, that I have red, itchy hives over most of my body. The only place I don't have welts is my lower legs and lower arms...my extremities, while my trunk, front and back, is most affected. It really seems systemic, not a spread of the rash.

I was up all night and couldn't sleep. Discovered I didn't have any aspirin or anti-inflammatories in the house, but I did make a paste of baking soda and water which helped quite a bit, but i couldn't apply that to my back, which was the worst of it.

So around 2 am I took a very, very hot shower (online research actually suggests this) and that also helped quite a bit, allowing me to at least lie in bed with much less itchiness. I popped some kind of pill that made me drowsy and probably got a few hours of sleep in.

I think the hives are hives, not worsening poison ivy as I first thought, and are an allergic reaction to 2 Chinese herbs I'm taking for the tick bite.

As you may remember, I'm taking antibiotics now but also decided to take 2 of the 3 herbs I've frequently taken in past years when I had a tick bite, because there were times the herbs seemed to alleviate my symptoms that were still ongoing when the antibiotics were done.

One of those 3 herbs, andrographis, caused me to get a much milder case of herbs once before, so I have not taken it since. Now, either the cats claw or astragalus is causing the hives, I'm pretty sure, even though I'm taking it at a much lower dose than I have before.

Even though my online research says both herbs are sometimes used to TREAT hives, it says hives could be an allergic reaction to anything.

My usual APRN isn't in today, but got an appointment with someone else, not til 10:30 am.

I emailed my boss telling him what the problem was and asking if I could come in late and work late. He wrote back expressing sympathy but saying it was going to be a slow day and I could take the day off. I wasn't planning on doing this as i work so few hours as it is, but I was also sort of relieved, wondering how bad the itchiness was going to be through the day.

So I'll see the doc today but otherwise stay home. It will also give me time to contact my plumber. I spoke with them briefly on Friday because my central air is not working. They had their answering machine on all day becus they were super busy and one gal in the front office had left the job, so they were shorthanded. I was supposed to get a callback to schedule an appointment.

I have since found out my heat is not working either, so whatever the problem is (I heard a loud noise when I turned the a/c on last week), it's likely something with the furnace, not the a/c specifically. I hope it's not a cracked heat exchanger.

I'm through with the plant sales but still have some plants I already dug up. So I joined 3 different local gardening swap and trade Facebook sites, but only one of them seems especially active, and I haven't really gotten any responses. I'd love to get a blue hosta with the jumbo sized leaves, for example.

Do you remember my friend with prostate cancer, who recently started chemo? He wound up on the hospital a few days ago because he got pneumonia, since the chemo knocks the heck out of your immune system. He'll likely be there a few more days as he is very weak.

He is totally distracted from his own problems, however, because he accidentally learned that his niece, the one who he's gifted so much $$ to over the past 5 years to in the form of a big house down payment and lots of home improvements, secretly took out a loan and refinanced her mortgage with an iffy mortgage outfit, adding $75K to her debt when she did so.

Dental visit and other things

May 4th, 2018 at 05:23 am

Visited the dentist yesterday. Paid $126 for a cleaning. The dentist's exam is, I think, an extra $90 or so, but he was busy with another patient and I didn't want to wait too long as I was expecting a callback from my neurologist sometime after 11 am.

So I decided to pay and leave, and the dentist then came over to tell me (again) that I really need to get on his dental plan ($264 a year, for those who don't have dental insurance). It's a good plan, covering 100% of 2 cleanings a year with his exam, plus x-rays (if you want them) and 25% off fillings and crowns.

He told me this last time I was there and I guess I didn't really focus in on it since it was 6 months ago. He can be a little pushy, just like the way he is with x-rays, which I resist getting annually.

I've made $318 in plant sales now (!!), and I think I'm just about done. I had one customer and a few no-shows yesterday. I have just a few remaining plants which I guess I'll hold for a few more days to see if anyone wants them, but otherwise, I plan to shut down the sales very soon.

The one customer I mentioned earlier is supposed to come today to dig up one rhodie and one mountain laurel (free for the digging). I decided to offer him 5 mature blueberry bushes for just $25, but he'll have to dig them out too. I hadn't considered selling them before because I didn't think anyone would want to dig them out, but he does.

They've been there about 20 years and some get lots of berries, but the picket fence that somewhat protected them is falling apart and i don't plan to replace it. So the deer browse the bushes mercilessly, and my lawnmower guy just sort of sideswipes that area due to the bushes being there, and bittersweet and poison ivy grow there too.

I feel bad losing the blueberry bushes but just want to tidy up yet another "maintenance issue" near the house, and knowing the bushes are being taken by a groundskeeper at an aroboretum makes me feel like they're going to a good home.

I'm really worried about my friend R. He called 911 2 nights ago and is still in the hospital,, with pneumonia, a side effect from taking chemo which lowers your immune system. He said it was really hard to call 911.

A nurse came in with breakfast so we didn't get to finish our phone conversation, but that will happen later today.

He told me the reaction he had from the chemo (shortness of breath) was so bad, he wanted his life to end right then. His doc had told him he could divide up the once-every-three-weeks chemo dose into 2 smaller doses, to hopefully lessen the reaction, but my friend R. says he reached a tipping point last night and just doesn't want to do it, says he needs to face the fact the cancer's terminal, help his niece with her credit card debt and make the best use of his remaining time.

Say what? Help his niece with her credit card debt?? He's already paid for hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of home improvements, not to mention the down payment on the house itself, which she could never have afforded on a school teacher's salary.

But he says being a single mother (recently divorced) she feels guilty for shortshrifting her 2 kids, so she's leasing an expensive SUV and is flying down to South Carolina again so the kids can visit their grandparents (her ex's parents).

It kills me that he is so obsessed with helping her out. She's nice, but her 2 young girls are really spoiled. I remember bring over Easter baskets when I had dinner with them last year, and they spent about 10 minutes on them before losing interest and moving on to something else. I guess that's what kids do, but her kids really seem like they need to have limits set. JMHO.

So my friend said he's ready to take me up on my offer to help him dispose of more of his personal stuff so his heirs don't have to deal with it. His condo is kind of a mess.

Garden stuff

May 1st, 2018 at 05:30 pm

Well, the plant sales from this weekend continued into the work week with people coming over Monday night after work right before dark and Tuesday morning before work. People are still asking for more plants. You'd think this was the only game in town.

To date, I've sold $280 worth to 15 people, plus a 48-star flag I was also selling. I expect to wrap it all up by Friday (surpassing $300) because scheduling visits and digging up plants is taking up all my free time; plus, I'm nearly out of inventory. Wow.

Overall, I'm very pleased and sales greatly exceeded expectations, especially since at first I wasn't even sure I was going to bother. It will all go toward defraying the cost of the patio.

But wait! It's not over. There's a guy coming tomorrow to dig out BY HAND 2 large-sized shrubs about 4 feet high and 3 feet wide: a mountain laurel and a rhododendron. It will be back-breaking work but he seemed up for it, since I offered them free. He works at an area arboretum and knows his plants. If he takes them, it's one less thing the mason's crew has to deal with to just clear the area before laying the pavers.

In addition, 2 more plant buyers are coming tomorrow afternoon and that night i have another free dinner at an Italian restaurant.

I loaded some bricks into my car tonight so I can drop them at the transfer station when I bring the trash tomorrow before work. The mason said his crew would do it, but it's such a mess back there and it's easy enough for me to do since I'm going there anyway. I've pulled a lot of bricks up as I dug out plants because many of them found a way to grow up between the bricks. I don't know what the carrying weight is of my car, though, and they are pretty heavy.

I can drop another load of bricks off Thursday morning since I'll be passing right by the dump again on the way to the dentist.

After using my new 3-month BJs membership pass just once, I've managed to lose it. I've looked everywhere. Can't figure out where it went and I was there just last week. I guess I can get another card at the courtesy desk.

The bank just sent me a new ATM/Visa card after I told them I lost that!