Tuesday, May 13, 2008

I Can See Clearly Now

We're getting new windows!

Pat knows windows. He worked close to 15 years in construction supply. His specialty was windows. So, when he told me he wanted to replace the windows in this house, I knew he would do it right.

Oh, yeah. He ordered double-paned, double-hung windows for the "regular" windows of the living room. I had mixed feelings about the new windows because Pat wanted good ones that are energy efficient (no complaints there) but he doesn't like the mullions that divide period windows. I wanted energy efficient windows that looked like period windows with mullions dividing the top into three sections above and having a solid window below. We compromised -- he got his way. He purchased Symington Prism double hung, insulated vinyl windows. Eventually we will have this style window all around the house.

The large window ("picture window") was the problem. I was quite willing to replace the window, but I wanted to keep the colored panel ("transom") across the top. It's original to the house and has a bungalow feel. But how could we keep it?

When Pat started looking at it, he realized the large pane and the colored pane were set up as double-hung windows. Hm... we did more looking. He could put a complete picture window into the space, then rehang the transom outside it. It would look very much like it did originally.

Of course the process was a little more involved than the plan. I presently have the transom out back where I'm stripping it for repainting. It's a slow process. (I may get it finished after I retire!) If you look closely at Picture One, you can see the transom standing under the air conditioner.

Picture One (at the beginning of this post) shows Pat removing the original window. I was impressed by the window sashes. They were still in the walls -- two long (2 foot at least) weights hanging from 1/2" rope kept the window open when it was raised. Unfortunately, one side broke some time in the 1960s so we quit opening this window. It was a lost cause, anyway. The rise was only about six inches when the window was open. Because it was so large and heavy, it was a pain to lift. Mom did it a few times when we first moved into the house. Then she declared this window would be kept closed. (Pat solved the problem. The new window doesn't open.)

Picture Two is looking outside after the old window was removed.
Can you see my peonies blooming on the left side of the porch? Mom always struggled to keep fresh peony blooms to take to the graves on Memorial Day. She would set them out in old fruit jars. Now the cemeteries don't want jars of flowers. They wilt too fast and the jars break. They want you to bring artificial flowers that last longer.

Notice too the shabby porch rails. Dad planned to replace them from the time we moved into the house in 1960. He never did. Pat plans to redo the porch when we redo the roof. Boy! I can't wait! Then on to new siding... Okay. One project at a time. Back to the windows...

Picture Three was exciting. Pat put the new window in place.

Picture Four is doing the final touches -- pushing insulation in the spaces between the new window and the opening in the wall. We have purchased red oak to make the woodwork around the windows and door. We won't do the baseboards until we have laid the new floor. That's a long way off. We still have horsehair plaster to remove from at least three more rooms.

Sunday, May 04, 2008

Square Foot Gardening

It's been colder and wetter this spring than usual. I guess it's global warming at work. Someone said the ice caps are melting, making the oceans colder which is affecting our weather. I believe it!

At least that's our story, and we're sticking to it! And, that's why we didn't get our garden started till May 1.

Pat had the money to buy a tiller this spring. I said I'd like to try square foot gardening before we spent the money on the tiller. If we like it, we won't ever need the tiller. I bought a copy of Mel Bartholomew's book, New Square Foot Gardening to use for a guide. As it turned out, building 4 4-ft beds. and buying all the soil was expensive, but not as much as a tiller. We invested about $300 in boards and soil and other supplies.

First Pat made our beds. The frames are four foot square.
We attached mulch cloth to the bottom to keep grass and weeds from growing into the bed.
Next we stirred five sorts of compost, plus vermiculite and moss together to make our soil. The soil was the most expensive part of this project, but the Bartholomew's book said this was the most critical factor. Pat was doubtful, but he let me talk him into it.

Third, we filled the beds with the soil mixture. Pat attached the lath that divided our four foot beds into sixteen sections. There was a small miscalculation here. All of the lath was 4 foot in length. Half of them should have been longer to reach the edge of the longer sides of the beds. Oh well... we will make different ones next year.

Time to plant! Since it was so late in the season, we bought many of our plants, particularly the tomatoes. I picked two different kinds of onion sets, two bundles each. We didn't need that many onions. Again... live and learn. Oh! Do I miss Mom and Dad! They were the seasoned gardeners.

This wasn't the year to start a strawberry bed. (Next year!), but I did want to have a couple of plants. They started in strawberry jars on the back porch. Now we have moved them to the railroad ties that make the border of the mint bed. They are lined across the ties with several flower pots of onions. Some how the one pot of catnip didn't survive our 5 cats. Gee. I wonder why?