Saturday, July 7, 2018

This place could kill one of us.......

We just lived through a 7 day heat streak!  When it's over 90F with a 100F heat index stick a fork in me!   It was sticky, sweaty, steamy, sultry and gross!  By the time I walked to the studio my granny panties had worked themselves into a geriatric thong thus strangling my lady garden!  I was all about indoor sports but alas the giant stone truck pulled in and dropped a couple pallets of 80 pounds stones in the driveway.  Then the dump truck showed up and dumped 2 tons of limestone screenings in front of the pallets of stones.  Pyramids? I did not order any of this but as I do not live alone I figured out who did and it wasn't the dog!  Friday night B. Miller rolled in the driveway as the temperature was a cool 93F.  He ran in the house, changed and started stacking 80 pound stones in drive.  I watched from the studio window waiting for him to pass out.  By 10 pm we had a lovely stone column in the middle of the driveway.  I walked in from the studio and mentioned his placement was a bit off.  "No worries I just wanted to see how they looked."  Here is that Men are from Mars and Women from Venus thing.  I looked at a stack of stones and pretty much knew exactly how they would look, he did not and thought it would be easier to toss 80 pound Legos into a column.  But then I would not be tossing anything around in 90 degree weather.  I figured once he saw it the thrill would wear off and we would postpone this project until next weekend when the temperatures would surely be dropping.

Saturday morning and he was on it!  Mars has hit my garage again!  Seriously?  He trenched, moved screenings into the trench and rebuilt the wall a couple times to get it level....... I brought the studio fan out on the patio and a gallon of ice water.  Heat Index 102F.  I got my state sales tax reports done and filed, desk cleaned, monthly reports and bills done and took Kirby to the river for a swim.  He stacked and re-stacked until after 10 pm.  I'm not sure how he was standing.

Sunday morning I looked out the back door and ordered a helmet for Kirby...... 
I also pointed out that Sunday was going to hotter than Saturday so maybe a break was in order.
And he suggested a hike....... but there is no air and I don't have a fan with an extension cord long enough.  After an hour of hiking, the dog and I went back to the river and refused to get out of the river; send me a postcard from the top of hill.  We returned home around 10 am and he jumped back on the wall.  I went to the studio and Kirby retreated to an upstairs bedroom with air conditioner.  By this time the dog was winning the IQ test and at the top of the gene pool.  

Sunday night around 8 pm the wall was done.  I seriously don't know how he survived.  
He has taken me lantern shopping and is all a twitter with the thought of Jack-o-Lanterns at Halloween and Christmas trees on the columns for Christmas..... EXCUSE ME the giant wreath alert! It's still hanging on the front of house.  The robins have hatched a lovely family out of that wreath but now they're gone, the babies are having babies in that wreath and maybe the wreath should go?  "But it looks great there!"  But it has a big red bow and twinkle lights..... and my Venus voice said; Pick your battles; just plant a tree to hide the wreath. Much easier! 

He rolled out the door Monday morning but stopped to put his coffee cup on the column and sit on the wall before he hopped in the car.  And Rufus approves and likes it better than the post with the electric fence stapled to it.  I haven't seen him in the back since blue sparks flew off the end of his nose but we're still besties.


On Wednesday and Thursday I weeded while spot watering with soaker hoses.  By 2 pm I was toast and ran in the house to shower and catch up on emails.  I jumped out of the shower and thought OH why won't this mulch wash off........ BECAUSE IT'S A TICK YOU IDIOT!  How a tick got inside my sports bra I will never know.  Mulch I totally get as most days you cannot distinguish me from a Chia Pet.  You're not really a gardener unless you jump in the shower and there is a brown trickle of water running down the drain.  But a tick, argh!!  I dropped it in a cap of 70% alcohol while I ran for my glasses to make sure I wasn't killing a piece of mulch with legs.  It was still living when I returned!  So I held it with tweezer and lit it on fire....... POOF!  crispy and flushed!  And I spent the next 3 days tick checking every 5 minutes.  Seriously what purpose do ticks serve?  I am ordering a truck load of chickens and couple opossums for tick control!

I spent two days dragging the hose around trying to save tender plants.  By Friday morning the heat wave broke, the wind shifted and cools breezes rolled across Lake Erie.  We're gonna live!

I was giddy on Friday morning with a morning temperature of 68F and in my euphoria I ran in and ordered 5 yards of compost as my compost pile was running low.  Then I realized there was 1 1/2 tons of leftover screenings in the driveway.  Thank you compost gods on high, the truck wasn't arriving until late in the day.  I got the wheel barrow out and started speed spreading screening on the way back garden paths.  Who runs with a wheel barrow of screenings?  In my rush, guess who accosted herself with the damn electric fence.  The electric fence is a bit stronger than I remember and I took a knee and let out an a sound something like a wounded wildebeest and then checked my heart.  I hit it with my shoulder while slinging screening.  I probably should have sat down but the compost was coming and this stuff needed to be gone.  My neck was sore and I had developed a stutter but I was panicked to get the pile gone.  B. Miller was working from home on Friday as those freak'n patio doors were going to be dropped off and they needed help getting it off the truck.  Then the "Dudes" were coming in the morning....... could this week get any better?   I use a metal shovel on an asphalt driveway and while sitting at his desk he noticed the frenzy of the scraping.  He left his paperwork to see if he could help.  As I was still a little dizzy from my fence run in, I said; Sure!  I cautioned him not to touch the fence.  He offered to wheel back the screening and I could spread them on the paths.  Cool.  First load went well!  The second load as I manically spread stone I heard the sound of the wildebeest only this time swearing.  I looked over my should and he was on the ground.  Sonofabitch.........  And then he said....... Ya know after the first fatal shock most people would have turned the fence off.  Whoa!  I pointed out the robins were sitting on the electric fence wire watching us and why weren't they fried.  He just looked at me ....... they're not grounded.  They are the most grounded bird I watch, they're very calm.  And he rolled his eyes and said; If you jump in the air and touch the fence you won't get nailed either.  Really?  Should we try this?  And thank GOD the compost truck pulled in the driveway!

I keep asking myself .......... does Penelope Hobhouse have weeks like this?  Would a tick end up in her sports bra?  Has she been shocked into a stupor?  Does she have "Dudes"?

and the Dudes only took 5 hours to get the door in and now we can really see that wall!  I think we are almost ready for a party...... if we live through all this summer.

Friday, June 29, 2018

Dudes, what the hell.........

Well the heat has hit Paine Falls and I'm sequestered to the bunker.  We don't have air conditioning.  The "real feel" temperature is 97F/36C.  Just moved my van and the thermometer said 122F/50C from sitting in the driveway. I jumped in the front seat and thought my pants were on fire.... it's hot!  Thankful for high ceilings, ceiling fans and one window unit air conditioner.  

As promised, my current rant on "DUDES".  
We hired a handy man, not off Craigslist, shocking!   Wow, he talked a great line, said the right words, had a fair price (not cheap).  Soooo I hired him to replace an indoor door jam, re-hang the existing door and replace the back patio doors. 
Which I had ordered, they came in wrong and were sent back..... I have grey hair and a twitchy eye over these patio doors.  Handy Dude said he could easily get'er done in one day.  There has to be a mark on the curb! 

 Finally the day arrived, Handy Dude's ETA(estimated time of arrival);  8:30 am.  I moved all the pottery, weaving table, a bazillion pairs of boots and shoes,  made coffee, ran the vacuum and I was ready!  9:30 am, 10:30 am, 11:00 am Ba-RING..... "My fiancé had a bunch of stuff for me to do before I was allowed to leave, but I am on my way (he is not 19, he is a man with bits and bobs of grey hair).  Thought I'd just do the interior door today".  Seriously DUDE?  RED FLAG!  I want a flag or stun gun or a paint ball gun and every time a DUDE says or does something so off the charts I get to tag, flag or shoot something that makes  pink welts as to the offending issue!  He finally showed up with a van full of tools, a big ego and not so many skills.  These are projects I am willing to pay a fair amount to have completed; as I really thought it was a wee bit above my skill level.  NOT! (and therein lays the difference between DUDES and woman) I needed an interior door jam replaced and the door hung straight.  My super fab Handy Dude was here 9 hours...... because he did not have a clear idea how to replace the jam as it was not in a prefab kit!  I was supposed to get an oak door jam and threshold...... I got poplar and I know what poplar is!  It is a soft wood.  OMG can I get your fiancé's number and get a few tips on making you jump though my hoops?   We paid him so he would go home and we could make dinner. 

The trim pack was a kit..... 

not a real threshold ..... I will be replacing this (as I have tools) and he thought this was 
magnificent and quite proud of himself.  These are the times I am out of words.

I will be puttying and painting for a month on this jam..... after I pick up 1,000 brad nails shot from his nailer gun and replacing the ceiling fan pulls he ripped out.  The ceiling fan is not that close to the jam and I found nails under the tv cabinet.   DUDE!

He would be back next week for this project with his DUDE buddy, who has a trailer and can pick up new doors at Home Depot.  I am not a fan of Home Depot and have written them numerous letters over the years; I am sure I have a secret file in their vault.  But then there goes that twitchy eye! 

Friday morning, BaRing!  Handy Dude calls and would like to drop the door off so they can get right on it Saturday morning.  When are you dropping the door?  Dunno maybe after work today.  Since there are storms in the forecast can we put it in your garage?  Holy Mother of all DUDES!  It's a STUDIO, NOT A GARAGE.  Yes, just get the door here!  My eye twitches madly.  I hung up and jumped into panic mania as the STUDIO had been turned into a garden shed the last few months.  I was throwing pots on the other side but the big door side looked like Penelope Hobbhouse was having a tool shed sale!  And as I am her illegitimate daughter it was so much worse.  All tools, big ass bicycle tire garden cart, bags, so many mismatched pairs of garden gloves and knee pads all had to be relocated to the shed.  NO NO NO NOT THE SHED!  The shed has all my glaze chemicals on one side, garden stuff on the other side and Butch gets the back third for Christmas decorations and his guy stuff.  I slowly opened the door and cried.  How does this happen?  Jumbled piles of garden stakes and soil amenders and raku barrels and giant yard tools!  Who the hell buys snow shovels and rakes for Paul Bunyan?  BUTCH!  I tried using that rake once and thought about lighting it on fire but it's neon green plastic and that snow shovel!  So I tossed those to the back third of the shed where they bounced off the GIANT snowblower he had to have.  I thought he would be hiring himself out last winter, nope just wanted the biggest snow blower he could find and why does it need to be in the shed?  And the lawn mower and the GIANT Stihl, gas guzzling weed whacker?  I have jerked my arm out of the socket yanking on that thing, I hate it!  I have a cute little Black and Decker, electric.  Works great, does the entire place, it has has never once attacked me and and and ....... I am supposed to be making pots and getting a kiln load ready to go up tonight.  This task is monumental and the mice had moved in over the winter too.  Just dive in, one thing first and keep going. 

Late Friday night while I lay unconscious on the floor of the shed; BaRing.... I'm not cool with ripping out your doors in storm how about we do it on Sunday, my fiancé is cool as she can have me all day Saturday.  I don't have eyeballs big enough or eyebrows high enough for that eye roll!  Great, see you and Dude 2 at 8:30 am with the doors, right?!  8:30 am, 9:30 am, 10:30 am ...... BaRing!  I got your door and you probably want hardware right?  Polished Brass or Satin Bronze ..... I DON'T CARE..... ok satin bronze.  11:10 am..... BaRing.  I need a $100 repair kit for the damaged door.  Which by the way we are paying full price for so a damaged door is not acceptable.  Well, let me see what I can do, maybe they have another one in storage.  11:45 am BaRing, nope nothing in storage.  Butch answered that call and clearly said:  We are not taking the door, not even if it's free.  Go Home Handy Dude..... just go home.  We will find a door and order it and when it gets in we will call you.  In the background I was jumping up and down and my hair, was on fire, my eye was twitching and I was mouth screaming NO NO NO!!  DONE! FINITO!  
Later that day; BaRing........ I feel real bad about this and and and ...... And I was in the studio and missed this call or I would have been reaching for the paint ball gun to stop the bromance! 

The door has been special ordered, there will be no packing in a small door!  I can hear my Dad in my ear; Do it right or don't do it at all.  Save up and get the best tools for the job.  Make sure your tools are in good working order; oiled and sharp.  And....... take your time and work it out, you'll get there.  Miss you Dad, it worked on me but not so much on the DUDES of the world.

And then today three DUDES showed up with a tow motor and yes, they were total DUDES, and dropped this new project off....... 

But get ready as we are doing this together........ this summer is gonna kill me! 

So DUDES of the world beware because the nuts don't fall from this lady tree!  Both daughters are knee deep in renovation work of their own and did not hire any DUDES! 

Daughter #2:  MOM, can I scrape latex paint with this?

Daughter #2 Mom check this out! 

Daughter #1:  I have to get the couch in my new house so I'm just gonna sawz-all the shelves and shove it through.

Daughter #1:  MOM, I haven't had a shower in 10 or maybe 12 days.

Daughter #1:  Floors are almost installed, my hands are killing me. 

MOM to Daughter #1....... you have a ways to go LOL!  

Adventures with the Miller chicks as we are not DUDES!  And yes you can! 

Friday, June 22, 2018

Balancing, kind of.......

I have not posted on gardening in quite a while although I have been posting garden images on facebook and instagram quite often but neglected the blog!  It's a time thing and there just isn't enough of it this time of the year!  I wish I had taken more before images but alas I just jumped in, head first.  I know shocking.........

When I walked into this little half acre sometime around early March I realized how focused on all things pottery I had been the last 3-4 years.  The way back veg garden had weeds 6-8 feet high, wall to wall.  We had an old locust tree taken down and I had spread the chips over the paths; thinking it would be so soft to kneel on, wood chips instead of hard ground.  If I had only decided to take a knee in the way back, just once after spreading acres of wood chips.  After 3 years they had dissolved to dirt and the invasive creeping charlie had created a lovely carpet and true to it's name, creeping into every single bed and choked out blueberries, raspberries, the blackberries had rust due to no circulation and anything else trying to do it's thing.  Cutting in the bed lines I started at one end and rolled it up like an old carpet.  The beautiful rotted wood chip soil underneath the green carpet was moved to the beds and the paths were reclaimed!  What a project but I could finally walk through the "garden".   I remember what this used to look like and I remembered the things I wanted to change about this garden.  It also gets loads of shade and competes with a couple maples.  Every evil weed was in this garden!  One weed in particular was stoloniferous..... roots that travel under  ground and spring up everywhere.  I had done battle with an elderberry I had transplanted and just keep springing back; a gardeners game of whack-a-mole!

I was in garden triage!  What to tackle first.  The outer beds had encroached to the point they were over hanging into the veg beds.  Get out those pruners and start whacking....... like an explorer headed down the Amazon.  Three years, just three years and all this place had exploded to little shop of horrors!  Gives me hope for planet Earth if humans die off.

May 21st I got a few seeds in the ground and a couple plants picked up at Madison Ave Greenhouse around the corner.

Then the heat hit hard and my triage brain went to to weed and mulch ASAP!  Abandon the veg garden and get busy.  I ordered 20 yards of mulch, put on my good knee pads, divided the yard into sections of need.  Front yard first! 

The front yard had a dying spruce, four nasty Norway Maples and another pine that beat the hell out of the house.  This time I actually hired a guy to grind down the stumps instead of digging them out.  Brilliant but holy wood chips and pine needles!  I shuttled wheel barrow after wheel barrow to mulch the blueberries, gooseberries and currents.  Eight hours later I was ready to start mulching!  

pretty ugly huh? 

May 22 the mountain arrives.  This is about the time I realized I wasn't getting any younger and I had a tiny little wheel barrow and had sat on my butt all winter!   Oh well at least it wasn't a lava flow chasing me down the driveway. 

Prune, Prune, Prune again, cut in bed lines and ....... May 23rd the front was done! 

Next the Southside garden, which takes a beating!  Rinse, repeat and rework the water feature! 

Onto the foundation plantings, patio garden and patio pond...... 

beans are up!

By May 29th the studio beds were mulched and this area was done.  
Sitting on the patio and listening to the pond was high garden satisfaction :) 

The end of May was just an explosion of color and I had a very hard time staying focused in the studio.  These pictures were taken on May 26.  I took Memorial Day off as it was 101F and my body just plain needed a break.  The strawberries were loaded with berries and I knew the first half June would be sprint.  I was pretty happy, my body was sore but a good sore and growing stronger by the day.  We had been eating lettuce from the garden topped with various herbs.  The studio called but I wasn't panicked to get there.  The biggest expense had been that pile of mulch but it was worth every single penny as the temperatures started to climb and the rain fell, hard.  The majority of the transformation was labor, cheap! 

On rainy days I'm back in the studio and the shelves are filling quickly.  I still have a kiln to re-wire and it will get done the next rainy day.  

After a very long winter it feels like a little bit of balance has finally entered this little half acre and I am reluctant to leave.  The wren is busy feeding her little ones, the robins are growing fat on service berries, the catbird is obnoxious as can be and the goldfinches are finally wearing their summer best attire.  Rufus visits often and at the moment, life is good......

Sunday, June 10, 2018

4006 miles Part 2.......

Long delay between part one and part two!  I thought I would be publishing part two the next day and then the mulch truck backed down the driveway and dumped 20 yards in front of the studio door!  As I am a one woman, one wheel barrow show it took me a while to move the mountain of mulch ........ which made the Rocky Mountains look like a couple mosquito bites on the western horizon. 

 Thankfully today is a rain day and pots finally got glazed and I have time to pay bills and catch up!  

I think I left off as we drove into Gunnison for graduation and a long stay at the Holiday Inn.  Saturday morning, the big event.  The event that made us load the car with camping equipment, a 91 pound dog, snacks and a road map.  This was IT!  The day we have anticipated for 10 years!  Daughter #2 took the round about way to graduation but she did it and we were here for all the festivities!  We were told to bring winter coats, rain gear, boots, ski hats, googles, mittens etc.  Outdoor graduation at Western State Colorado University.  We were told it rains and/or snows every year for every graduation since 1901.  Yup, we packed it all!  Even insulated bleacher pads for our frozen bums on frigid metal bleachers!  But alas Mother Nature had a hot flash and we couldn't have been happier!  Our coats peeled off and the sun was so bright our scalps were sunburned! 

The class of 2018 has arrived!  The bleachers were packed, standing room only.  We listened to the President of the college, who was actually pretty good.  And then the guest speaker who should have just sent a grizzly bear to speak, some people should know their limits and decline.  She went on and on and the rugby team started passing flasks up and down the row.  Then they started dashing off to port-a-potty in the end zone.  And then the ambulance showed up as a woman (someone's Mom) went down hard and was whisked away with the graduate.  If you're a speaker, this is your sign to STOP TALKING!  Phew and she did and the parade of graduates started to take over the stage.  

As the name of Daughter #2 drew near, the big guy sitting next to me started quietly vibrating and sputtering; I leaned over and offered him water and asked him if he was OK?  Allergies, he said.  This is the guy who wrote the checks and cheered with encouragement every time this graduate found herself a bit lost in the woods called life.  With his encouragement and guidance and checkbook he couldn't believe this day had arrived.  And then they called her name and he just sobbed, not quietly. The guy behind us, also a Dad, slapped him on the back and said:  Man we hear ya!  Us too and they were laughing so hard and crying ...... well it was a random graduation parent bleacher kind of moment!  I asked him if he was ok again and he said out loud.... these damn allergies!  And then everybody behind us just busted out laughing!   Allergies my ass!  Shear release from ten tense years! 
He had climbed more than one mountain to be here and so had D#2.  But this family had reached the summit and we were still intact and we were celebrating!  

he's still overwhelmed...... 

We managed to make our way to a restaurant and celebrate.  Go back to our rooms, go for a quick hike and then back to a real sit down dinner at the place D#2 had worked the last couple years.  Her fellow friends and employees seemed to know this was a big deal dinner and they so awesomely decorated the table! 

We had a great dinner, great celebration and great company. 

We departed Monday morning after one more family breakfast, hugs and all around sighs of relief and happiness.  

We decided to meander back to Ohio via ....... 
Taylor Park Reservoir and Crested Butte, frozen and snowy.

Staying for a day in Fort Collins and meeting old friends and new friends. 
Kirby made new friends with a bunch of chickens.

Hiking in Arapaho and Roosevelt National Park and seeing the skeletal remains of trees. 
The wildfire caused by lightening, burned over 87,000 acres in 2012; the scars, still so visible and devastating.  

We made our way to Rocky Mountain National Park for more hiking. 

and one of us found a new toy....... NO!  Get in the car! 

Made our way to Bear Lake, elevation 9,450 ft.
frozen and snowy.

Kirby refused to get out of the van....... 
At Bear Lake we ran into tourists and too many people and then I heard it!

An old geezer holding up his wife as she shuffled across ice and snow, both clearly terrified.  AND he says TO ME..... "you think they could clear this ice and snow!"  I said, nicely; Well the parks had all their money taken away so vote better next time and I walked away.  WE ARE IN THE MOUNTAINS and you sir are an entitled old man, YES! let me roust those minions, who work for below minimum wage to get their flame throwers and shovels out, to clear a path for you and your ambulatory wife.  And thankfully they turned around and got into their GIANT RV and chugged away.  As my head was exploding from that encounter I watched a young dude run out on the slushy, cracking ice.  Thousands of dollars of camera equipment strapped to his body, a lens I would have tripped over and started snapping pictures while the ice cracked beneath him.  Bear Lake is pretty deep, it's off season, not a ranger station open or park attendant around.  I call this culling the herd, had he fallen through I'm pretty sure I would have kept walking and slept fine that night. 

We got in our van and attempted to cross the Great Continental Divide but alas snowed in and impassable.

We saw elk, big horn sheep, a moose who so big he blocked the sun, a mother bear and her cubs emerging from hibernation and I chased a wild turkey up a hill until he posed for his glamor shot. 

And this guy, who two years ago came from the Cleveland APL and had been locked in a garage for the first 3 years of his life, paws that had never touched grass, who had never been swimming, who came with a broken jaw, a bunch of missing teeth, more scars than I could count and no eyesight.  This guy had climbed the Rocky Mountains and felt the wind in his face and loved it!  

As we left Colorado, I looked in the review mirror and my heart hurt for a little bit.  
It had been a good trip.  
We had not been on a vacation since 2009. 

We drove across Kansas with the temperatures reaching 93-95 degrees F.  We saw cattle standing in empty water holes looking for water and keenly aware it was May.  I was truly happy to be heading home to the Great Lakes and new Spring green and know gardening was only 24 hours away.