Saturday, October 09, 2010

Productive Saturday

I had hopes of finishing the front porch today, but our step ladder doesn't reach the cross beam. Rats!

Instead, I put Lala and the neighbor, Carl, to gathering the walnuts that have been falling from the black walnut tree. They filled two plastic trash cans, but there are still more walnuts.

They were still eager to help, so they painted the trellis for me. It will be cut to fill the space under the porch next time Joe or Skip comes by.

While they were painting, Jen scraped part of the deck and painted it white. She decided to remove one of the support boards that had held the railing in place. Those nails were tighter than she expected. Carl put some muscle into it and got the board off. I couldn't help thinking that last year, Reyes would have been helping do these jobs.

In the mean time, I painted the inside of the cross beams white and added the accent colors to the columns.

The molding around the bottom of the column has become a challenge for me. It's been 40 years since I last cut angles with a miter box. I used most of my stick of trim learning how to get the cuts. I'll have to get more to finish the rest of the project. The first column is looking good, though. It will really stand out when the crossbeam is the same tan as the front door.

There is something about paint that attracts kids. Lala and Carl have two more friends helping them paint now. Jen had to find a job for one of them. The condition for painting is "go home and put on clothes Mom doesn't mind getting painted."

Friday, October 08, 2010

Flagstone Walk - FINISHED

The flagstone walk is done! I rearranged the rocks I had. After my brother, Skip, installed the new screen door Monday, he and I took two loads of brush to the burn pile outside of town. Guess what I found all over the place? Rocks! Lovely rocks! We brought home enough to finish my project.

Putting the existing rocks together with the ones Skip and I retrieved let me make a path from the sidewalk to the back porch. There were even a few extra to make a side path to the front of the garage.

I know the proper way to lay a flagstone path is to dig the path completely, then fill it with sand and seat the rocks in sand. Since my path grew over time, I didn't have the luxury of using that method. I laid the rocks I had when I found them. I knew I would end up rearranging everything at the end to make it all come out the way I wanted. It would have been a waste of time and energy (MINE!) digging the original 4 ft. wide path when I ended up with one two feet wide.

My compromise was to walk the path once it was complete, identify the wobbly rocks, then dig out under them and seat them individually. I promise you, that was all the digging this granny wanted to do today. :) Okay, I know next year I'll pick up all of these rocks and seat them properly, but I'm enjoying what I have so far...

Thursday, October 07, 2010

Front porch makeover

You see here the before and after of my front porch. I removed the half-walls earlier this week. They were flimsy and many of the boards were worse for wear, showing all of their 107 years. Taking the walls down was fun. I just leaned on them a bit and wiggled them and they came loose -- pretty much intact. I only had to take a sledge hammer to one section to break it loose. Hee hee. How's that for one mean Granny? Slinging a sledge hammer. (Okay, I was no John Henry rearing back and hammering it down. I used my best croquet techniques, but it worked!)

The new front door went up last year. This spring I was visiting a friend in Topeka who took me across the street to meet his neighbor. I love her house! It is a Victorian house with an oak screen door. That door fit the flavor of the house so much better than any modern storm door could do. Hm... it worked for her. Why not me?

I measured and ordered my door. Unfortunately, I measured the existing door, not the opening. The screen was an inch too wide. My brother to the rescue! He took the screen home and reworked it in his spare time this summer. He brought it back and mounted it this Monday.

The dogs aren't sure they like this idea. Charming, the brown dog, can't pop out the door and run off anymore. Mouse and his brother, Won Ton, were always game to chase after Charming. The screen door is spoiling all their fun.

Next I will finish painting the porch. I want to liven the place up with more color than it has had in the past. A white house with green trim is rather blah. Instead, I'm taking a page from the Victorian Painted Ladies' book and using three colors to accent the house.

Ah! But which three colors? If you look closely at the Before picture, you will see a colored glass accent window over the big picture window. I kept that window when the new picture window was installed. It has a new coat of paint and will be going back in place later this week. It has green, yellow and blue glass in it. Inspiration! There are my colors!

The elephant leg columns will be white. The pedestal at the top will be the same forest green that is around the windows. The house numbers and the crown molding at the base of the columns will be the deep blue-green of the front door, and the support beam under the roof will be the tan of the screen door. I will finish with new forest green lattice work around the foundation of the porch.

The front door will bring all my colors together. The door is blue-green with green, yellow and blue in the stained glass of the window. The decorative bar, called a dental molding, and the screen door have been painted tan. The porch deck will be forest green.

I have painted the back door to match the front door. Now I have to study that porch to see where I can incorporate my three color scheme. It is amazing how a little paint can freshen a place. When both porches have more color on them, this place should take on a whole new character.

Speaking of characters, these paint freckles are giving me a whole new look.

Sunday, October 03, 2010

New Flower Bed

Mom made a perennial bed around the front of the house. In the ten years since she passed, the bed had been neglected and gotten root bound. I decided it would be easier to move the entire bed than to try to thin out the existing one.

The old vegetable garden is a rectangle 30'x90'. I put it back to grass this year, but it is a real pain to mow. It is the biggest unbroken section of grass in the entire 1/2 acre yard. Hm... Why not? I could put the perennials there. They would have lots of room to expand, and they would fill a goodly part of that disgustingly large mowing area. So... how should I do this?

I have always loved fish ponds. Perhaps I could make the flowerbed large enough to contain a koi pond. I also love weeping willows. I know their roots seek water, so maybe I could put a willow in the low spot, near the ditch that always floods. Unfortunately, that's awfully near the water main, so I'll need to check with someone before I buy the tree. I don't need willow roots breaking through the PVC pipe.

Oh, I could put lilac and mock orange bushes out there! In the spring, when the bedroom windows are open, we would be greeted in the morning with the fragrance of lilacs and oranges. There would be room for some tall Pampas grass, too. I'm really starting to like this plan! I can see myself pouring over the Gurney Seed Catalog all winter dreaming about things to put in this flower bed. The "legs" of the keyhole can be used for herbs and annuals. Now which herbs?...

A friend told me that you can mark the layout for a fishpond by sprinkling flour on the ground. It works as your "chalk." Okay. I took a five pound bag of flour and roughed in the shape of my keyhole flower bed. To fine tune the layout, I pulled the garden hose to my flour lines and smoothed out the circle. Once the shape pleased me, I started digging the first arc of the circle. This would be the peony bed. About three feet in from the first circle, I dug a second arc for the irises. For an automatic watering system, I pulled the drain hose from the basement sump pump to the top of the circle.

The first arc is roughly 25' in diameter. It is about 30' from Fisher Street. Whether I plant a willow tree or something else, there will be room for a tree to spread and not shade the flowers. There are other trees in the property line on the north. The black walnut will shade my flowers during some of the afternoon, but I don't think it will be a problem.

Next spring I will see about putting the koi pond inside the circle of irises. It will be a little off center so there will be room for a bench beside it. I can see it now, sitting on the bench, a big glass of iced tea nearby and a book in my lap, listening to the breeze in the trees and watching the fish in the pond. Doesn't that sound like a great way to spend a morning?

But I still have to get there. I dug up all but one row of peonies from the front of the house. (I do want some peonies blooming next spring!) After planting 2 dozen bushes in the new spot, I still gave a wheelbarrow load of peonies to the neighbors. Next came the irises, and it was a similar story.

The day lilies that are left will be moved to line the new flagstone walk. Next spring, I will put in some yew or other foundation plantings. I wonder if holly grows in Kansas?