What is a true eclectic to do when her passions lead her in different directions?
This is a blog for the unfocused, the round pegs in the square holes, the short-attention span types, and all those who just can't bring themselves to join the ranks and adhere to a single category of activities or interests...whether sketches, drawings and comics, fixing an old farmhouse in Oregon, or whatever else strikes my fancy.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Tree Work: Part 3 (04-21-10)

Today, surveyors from the company that had been hired to work on the lot split from 1998 came to show me where the survey posts are on the property. Watching them walk around, I realized belatedly that we could have found some of the markers ourselves with a metal detector (cash register sounds; this service will cost us close to $400). Anyway, now we know who owns what. The East-West property line runs through the large circular flowerbed near the driveway to the nextdoor neighbor’s double-wide; two-third of it is theirs. On the other hand, we do own the Shade Garden area, which I think is rather pretty with my birdbath in its middle.

While the tree hackers were back to cut down a tree next door, I cleaned up the remnants of the wisteria. A close examination revealed a lot of decay; parts of the vines are so rotten, they fall apart when touched, the wood feels moist and runny and is full of fine compost.
I also weeded part of the Rose Garden and the bare dirt areas South of the wisteria today.
At some point during the day, a lady appeared in the driveway next door and demanded to talk to the arborist. I realized that this must be the lady, who has been described to me as “crazy” by two different people.

My suspicions about the front next door neighbor were correct: this a person to be careful with. She saw me weeding the yard, and asked me if things had turned out "bigger than expected." I was a bit put off by the way she'd asked the question, since it suggested that I may be overwhelmed by the amount of yard work. I said that it was just the way we expected, I was just weeding the yard, nothing more. I overheard her describe the neighbor across the street as “crazy” to the arborist.

Looks like we bought into a pretty weird neighborhood.

Of course, when it came time to put the cable in the oak tree as agreed the day before, it turns out that rather than use a Cobra cable as agreed upon, Mr. Tree Guy tied the tree with a red-colored heavy-duty rope. I can’t believe the aggravations I’ve had with these people. I pointed out to him that this is not what we had discussed previously. He offered to give me a guarantee in writing that would be good “for the lifetime of the rope” (whatever that meant). I almost wanted to laugh at him.
We didn’t get the pile of wood chips we were promised, another reason to feel irritated.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Tree Work: Part 2 (04-20-10)

I had misgivings about the tree people, so I called their boss in the morning and offered to pay them for yesterday's work and call it a day, but she assured me that everything was fine, she was going to be there all day to supervise the work, etc. So they proceeded with the work.

Hah! What a mistake: they cut my wisteria down! The %^&!! lumberjacks cut it down many reminders to preserve it. The base of the wisteria was enormous but very decayed. From there, it went way up the fir tree, with a huge section of tangled dead old vines hanging precariously on the left side, and a dense network of newer thin vines actively growing and climbing on the right side. So, as he was trimming the branches off the fir tree, the guy removed the dead wisteria branches on the left as he had been instructed. When they fell down, what was left looked GREAT. I was at that point really happy with the results.

Then, about ten minutes later, I saw the guy cut horizontally across the new vines, and, in disbelief, before I could yell at him to stop, the entire mass of new vines came tumbling down with a huge crashing sound. I just about died. I screamed and yelled, but it was too late. Idiot. I was EXTREMELY angry, yelling and cursing, and then the boss drove up the alley in her truck, like everything was fine.

As the wisteria lay in a heap on the ground, the neighbor across the street came running up the driveway, asking why I had the wisteria cut, “It was so lovely,” he said. I was livid, and yelling that I didn't have it cut: the Neanderthal idiot up there had done it!

Seeing that I was upset, the neighbor kindly took me to his house to show me the work that had been done to their dining and living rooms. He seems like a nice eccentric type who talks with a muffled English accent. A pole at the corner of their property display a US and a Norwegian flag which have been flown at half-mast  for the last few days (perhaps because of the passing of the Health Care bill a couple of weeks ago?)

As for my wisteria, the damage is irreversible. But after I got really upset and stormed inside the house slamming the door, they gathered the leftover of a clump that fell to the ground and tied it to the tree as high as they could, rather than leaving everything laying in a heap on the ground. I got $200 off the agreed price, big deal!, and little consolation, since a plant that old was truly invaluable, especially when part of a historic property.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Tree Work: Part 1 (04-19-10)

Lots of activity today. The tree service people showed up late and didn’t get started until 9:00 AM. I’ve tried to take it in stride, but couldn’t help feel irritated when I saw that some tree limbs had been dropped on my rhododendron bushes across from the carport. The same thing happened with the boxwood shrubs on the front left side of the house. Also, they were supposed to leave us some of the wood, but they let the logs right on top of the new sod the roofer placed over the spot where he damaged the front lawn.

Gary did it all today: he tore down more shelving out of the shed, swept the inside of the shed (you don't wanna know), sprayed carpenter ant poison, dug up the old carpets that were buried behind the shed (I guess, that's an innovative way to dispose of them...), carried boulders, organized the tool stuff under the carport, broke moving boxes down, swept the carport, killed Mondo Spiders...

Speaking of spiders, I got bit by something, probably when I was pulling ivy behind the shed. I’ve got fifteen red itchy welts on my lower legs. A hot shower gave only passing relief. I hope it doesn't get worse.

"Mondo" Spider Sightings (04-19-10)

Here is a photo of a "Mondo" spider that was hiding behind a dumpy cupboard under the carport.
Since we moved, this is the fifth time we've run into of this type of spider. We apparently are a central gathering place for these little critters...

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Garden Wonders (04-18-10)

I planted some heirloom tomatoes in the garden today:) It’s probably too early, but I don’t care: I wanted to dig in the dirt and plant something.

Large-scale tree work is to be done (by professionals) tomorrow; we hope to save parts of the ancient wisteria.

In the yard: wisteria, tulips, peony tree, lilacs, blueberries, raspberries, currants, spruce trees, camphor elm, white oaks, rose garden, vegetable garden, shade garden, hostas, calla lilies, lavender, gold dust, daphne, butterfly bush, magnolia tree, plum and cherry trees, lawns, azaleas, rhododendrons, peonies, hyacinths... Hydrangeas...Lilies of the valley...Bleeding Heart... It's truly lovely.

Gary and I went over to introduce ourselves to the people who share the flag lot next door (West side). It looks like there are some oddball characters in the neighborhood.

The front house is occupied by a family of four, but we only met the lady. She showed us her huge cat who, she said, can’t go outside because he eats squirrels. She seemed to not like some of the neighbors around and struck me as one of those people one does not want to tell too much to.

The back house is occupied by a couple, their grown daughters, and two grandchildren. Based on the assortment of non-working vehicles, miscellaneous broken toys and items thrown about (I am especially thinking about that large white cardboard box that has been discarded in the yard for who knows how long…), it doesn’t look like they have much time for house and yard maintenance . The back of their yard is covered with piles of wood (likely place for more carpenter ants...)

Friday, April 16, 2010

Paint Problems (04-16-10)

While (reluctantly) painting my closet, Christopher accidentally tipped over the paint tray filled with purple paint, and it fell against the mosaic glass window with a hand.
The window was saved by Monica’s quick reactions: she grabbed the window and ran downstairs to the kitchen (without dripping paint). She then helped me scrub the paint off the pieces of colored glass with a dish brush. As we were frantically scrubbing, we in turn sent purple sprinkles flying on the inside of the sink, on the wall, the floor... There was purple paint everywhere! The only way to get the paint off the window frame was to scrub it with baking soda.

Monday, April 12, 2010

The Paint for my Closet (04-12-10)

A few years ago, when I was thinking of painting my bedroom, I asked my daughter Valérie who worked at Division Hardware to get me some Aura paint the color of a bowl of raspberries." She came back with two gallons of the weirdest dark pink color, and I realized that there was no way I could ever get my bedroom walls painted that color.
Fast forward to the present. When I first saw this house, I was surprised by the strangely familiar color of the walls in one of the small room upstairs... So, when I decided to repaint the room before using it as a dressing room, the natural choice was the never used two gallons of dark pink paint.
In the photo, one can see how little difference there is between the wall paint and the paint I had bought and never years before... What are the odds for something like that to happen?!

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Mosaic Glass Windows (04-07-10)

I went all the way to Houlton Bakery in St Helens where some mosaic windows made by Jennifer Hanson, the same artist who did the three windows I bought at Portico were on display. I bought two of the windows on display, one of a cherry tree in bloom, and one of a sun. I think this type of windows is just what I was looking for to bring some color to the house.
I am pretty excited that the artist is coming by on Saturday, to look at the bedroom upstairs, to get an idea of the colors of the exiting stained glass casement windows, to match then, -if not in style-, at least, in colors.

Contractors (04-07-10)

I got a call from the weatherization contractor, who told me that when his assistant went under the house, he distinctively smelled an odor of gas. He said it would be a good idea for me to call the gas company. So I called them, and a truck was in a driveway within five minutes of my call. I swear, the guy had to be parked down the street waiting for the call!

The guy from the gas company was a tall old guy with a German accent. No matter how I mentioned growing up a mere 20 miles from the nearest German border, and how much I love German food, he just acted gruff and unfriendly.
When he entered the house, he gave me a weird look and said that he’d been here before. When I pressed him for details, he was vague, though…just like the guy who came to install the phone line who, once he volunteered that he had been here before, refused to say anything else… I am starting to feel that I bought the (cursed) house of a sorceress.

In any case, this big guy claimed there was a possible gas leak at the furnace to floor junction, but since he didn’t anymore than waive his wand over the furnace pipes, I don't know what to think. He didn't go under the house either. I knew he wouldn’t the minute I saw him: he was, ahem, lumbering and pot-bellied; I couldn’t imagine him fitting in the crawlspace without getting stuck. He just gave me a card with the gas company logo on which he had checked a box saying that “the problem needs to be addressed,” to call the number printed on the card to get a referral for a contractor who would fix the leak.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Doodle Study in Black and White (ca. 04-10)

I started with the drawing in the center, then built around it...

Weatherization underway (04-06-10)

The Energy Trust-approved contractor’s assistant came by today. He checked the insulation in the attic, and then he went under the house. I could picture it like a horror show down there, with bunches of spider nests loaded with eggs ready to hatch right over his head...

Sunday, April 4, 2010

"Mondo" Spider Sighting (04-04-10)

While I was explaining something to Valérie and her friend Meghan, Meghan started pointing at something behind me: there was a giant spider on the kitchen door frame. I ran out of the house screaming. Meghan apparently caught the spider because she walked out of the house carefully holding a paper towel. From my safe spot behind my car, I ordered her to KILL IT!, but she shook her head and walked to the edge of the property. She came back assuring me that she had made sure that the spider took off in the direction away from our house.

Gary and I went to Ikea to buy furniture for his office. I settled on a red bookcase with glass doors and a three-drawer dresser for my closet. I still wonder if that’s not a bit extreme, but I can still think it over until the boxes get opened.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Contractors (04-02-10)

Today, two guys came to look under the house. Needless to say, they gave wildly different reports.

The first guy works for an outfit that installs fancy steel jack “spikes” 30 ft. into the ground, like one would see used for new Happy Valley houses built on the side of cliffs, -whatever-, and he looked horrified that this house had such a small crawlspace, as opposed to a new suburban-style foundation.

The other guy was moderate in his comments; in fact, he didn’t see much to do to the crawlspace (despite it being accessible to rodents, a few posts needing extra support, etc.); he indicated that the patio area was the problem, since rainwater pools near the back wall of the house.