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Gardens and Basements

I have two trips to NYC for three different museum exhibitions to go on and on about, but in the interest of not getting any further behind, I’m going to skip to this past weekend with a few unrelated highlights.
 

First off, Charlotte had her dentist appointment last Thursday.  The short version is that she did no lasting damage.  The enamel is chipped, but dentin is not exposed, so it won’t be more likely to decay.  The teeth don’t appear to be pushed up at all.  They may darken over the next few weeks if any of the internal capillaries broke – or they may not.  So I have written it off to another exciting moment in parenting.  But we really DO need to convince her that brushing them is just going to happen.  I need to get on board with that, because I haven’t been pushing it and I need to.
 

Because I didn’t know how long that appointment was going to take, I had been working through lunches and “stocking up” hours to cover it.  It turned out that I was out and back within an hour.  So when it was absolutely beautiful on Friday, I asked if I could leave early and was home before 4:30.  That was wonderful.  I grabbed the rake and did some more clean up from the places where the leaf piles had been, and generally just got the outside cleaned up.  I need to hit the sides of the driveway again, and I really need to take the flat shovel and find the edges of the asphalt – I think our driveway has gotten narrower the last couple of years.
 

By the way, does anyone have any suggestions for an attractive ground cover that will take full shade that I could plant on the driveway cut?  Right now it’s a lot of bare dirt with some moss, but I’d really like to plant it – just for stability, if nothing else.  I love things like creeping phlox and such, but this is *full* shade.  Pachysandra is not something I want any more of, by the way.
 

Saturday I was awakened by the Great Snoring Creature, also known as my husband.  So since I didn’t get to sleep in, I got the living room picked up and all the newspapers corralled for recycling.  When he got up he went out and hauled off the leaves that I had raked on Friday, and once he was done I went out to work on my side “garden.”  Bob had offered to do any heavy lifting for me, but I pointed out that it involved shoveling out the top two or three inches of soil and then dumping in two cubic feet of rocks – it’s ALL heavy lifting.  I did allow as to how I would appreciate it if he would dump the wheelbarrow for me once I’d shoveled the dirt out.  Of course, that was before I realized that it was going to be two and a half wheelbarrows full of dirt.  I felt bad about the idea of letting him get settled into a project and then pulling him away, so I just dumped the first two myself.  After that was done, I set the weed block fabric in place, set and leveled the pavers I wanted to use for edging, and then dumped in my stone.  I made two miscalculations.  The first one is that I got a little carried away with the shovel and dug it out deeper than I had originally intended.  The second was that I had figured on about two inches depth for the pond rocks.  What I didn’t take into account was the general diameter of that grade of rock, and the two inches I planned (and purchased for) looked pretty… scant.  So I hauled my sweaty self into the car and off to Home Depot for two more cubic feet of rock.  Homeward bound I went with my rocks, and dumped them in.  Muuuuch better.  On Friday I had grabbed a thick piece of slate off of the pile of spares out back, and I set that into the gravel and leveled it.  It made the perfect pad for the fake stone urn/planter that I had previously purchased, and I looked upon what I had wrought and declared it to be good.  Well, after I rinsed everything with the hose, that is.  Of course, once that corner had been cleaned up and brightened up I could clearly see how badly stained and mildewed the steps and concrete have become.  I’m hoping a dilute bleach solution in the garden sprayer will take care of that.  After all, there isn’t anything growing there that could be damaged by the bleach – that was sort of the point of the whole thing.

Here's my dank little corner before:

 

And here it is after all my hard work:



See what I mean about cleaning the steps?
 

After taking a few minutes to catch my breath, I grabbed the cultivator and headed around back to work on the brick garden pathway that I put together the other weekend.  I pulled up everything I had dry fit two weeks ago and loosened up the soil and got the bricks down in a more level fashion.  Note that I say “more” level.  They’re not actually level.  To do that, I’ll need a wheelbarrow full of soil, a tamper, and a level.  That will be the eventual goal, but it’s not going to happen right now.  This year is about getting the outside portions of the property under control and making plans.  Then hopefully I can implement those plans this fall and next spring.  I ended up with a mixture of wall brick and paver bricks to work with (with holes, and without holes).  Remember that I didn’t buy these, I just dug them up from underneath the lilies.  Being me, I had to make a pattern with them.  Yes, I am fully aware that the wall bricks really aren’t appropriate for a walk because they not strong in the correct way.  It’s just a place to put my feet while I weed.  If they break, it’s “rustic.”  That’s my story.

I think that this has the potential to look really nice eventually.  I'm thinking a birdbath in the middle.




 

Did I mention that I never usually use my hamstrings, and they’re really unhappy about the things I’ve been doing for the last month or so?  I really hadn’t realized how weak my leg muscles had gotten the last few years, but I’d like to hope that if I keep all of this up that it will get better.  But for right now… ow.
 

While all of this outdoor activity was occurring, Bob was down in the basement working on the Great Pegboard Installation Project.  It’s not easy to put up a 4’ x 8’ sheet of pegboard when 1) you can’t get to the wall you need to hang it on because of all the assorted detritus; 2) the wall in question is concrete and there’s nothing to attach to lower than the floor joists; and 3) both your wife and your father-in-law have very precise ideas of how things should be done but have left you with no direction.  Not to mention the issues of any one person wrangling *anything* that is four feet by eight feet.  He’s been building the framework – around the various plumbing – and on Saturday things got to the point of actual installation of the sheet goods while I was home to provide another set of hands.  While Charlotte was napping, we set the pegboard in place and Bob attached it.  During this progress, he also discovered a nice draft coming in over the sill from the garage, so after the pegboard went in place he foamed that to stop the airflow.  This is another reason I want the basement cleaned up.  I want to get all these infiltration spots located and closed.
 

I cannot tell you how excited I am about having this pegboard up.  This means that after almost four years I can finally start putting the tools away.  I’m going to establish a beach head in that corner of the basement and work my out, and hanging up the tools is the first step.  Hey – you’ve got to start somewhere, right?
 

Honestly, what I really need is a staging area - someplace to put the stuff that I’m making decisions about while that process is happening.  Because right now, I’ve got stuff everywhere and I’m having to touch things four and five times because they are in my way while I’m dealing with other stuff.  It’s just inefficient, and it drives me wild.  There used to be a show on cable called “Clean Sweep” where they would go into people’s homes and clean out two rooms.  There were some elements of the show that I found profoundly distasteful, but I liked to watch it for inspiration.  I have always maintained that I don’t need the organizer/shrink and the designer – what *I* need are the twelve burly guys who take everything out, spread it out on the lawn so that I can see it all at one time, keep it safe/dry overnight, and then carry back in whatever I’m keeping while putting it where I tell them.  I could conquer my basement in a weekend with that team of twelve burly guys and their tarps.  Regardless, I’m very, very excited about my pegboard.
 

Yesterday we went to my parents’ house for Easter, and had Thanksgiving.  If you recall, mom was in the hospital for Thanksgiving and she wanted that turkey out of her freezer.  It was a day with my family, which is its own brand of insanity.  Charlotte ate a big plate of a little bit of everything with very little fuss, and I finally got to see her walk a little.  She went back and forth from the coffee table to the couch a couple of times.  “Lurched” is probably a better verb, but the concept was there and she was very pleased with herself.  We got home late enough that I didn’t get anything else done, but that’s okay.

Now I just need to get the house cleaned up for company this weekend.

Comments

( 4 comments — Leave a comment )
hugh_mannity
Apr. 6th, 2010 02:59 am (UTC)
I could conquer my basement in a weekend with that team of twelve burly guys and their tarps.
When you're done with them, send them over here. I have a house, a basement and a garage they could assist me with. :D

I do hope to get some more of the crap out of the house this spring. Getting a new desk has helped my room a little.
kls_eloise
Apr. 6th, 2010 01:14 pm (UTC)
I'll even let them shower before I send them on. :-)

The worst part is that my mother is slowly emptying her attic into my basement. A lot of it really is stuff that I want - the braided wool rag rug that my great-grandmother made, for example. I just can't seem to get it through her head that *right now* is perhaps not the most convenient time to take possession.

Perhaps if the weather is good on Sunday we can hit it hard - move some stuff out the Bilco door to out back to make some room for my feet, and then put it all away. Maybe.

Hey, are you going to Coronation? If so, I have some things I would like to send up with you for the Cutest Baby Girl in the World.
hugh_mannity
Apr. 6th, 2010 01:38 pm (UTC)
Yes, I'm going to Coronation. For a number of reasons including getting to drive The Beast and avoiding the yard work :) So I can most certainly deliver a care package or two. The Beast is part elephant, part mountain goat, part pack-mule and part TARDIS.
kls_eloise
Apr. 6th, 2010 05:26 pm (UTC)
Excellent! I have some clothes that are just Too Cute (tm) to give to Good Will because it's much more fun to give them to someone. How large the window of use is going to be(given the five month difference in month of birth and the season/size offset) will depend on the growth rate of the CBGITW, and what the temperature does when. But it would please me to cross my fingers and send them on.
( 4 comments — Leave a comment )