We finally had the guys come out to grind up the four stumps. Here’s a last photo of one of them from our bedroom window.

Now we just have big piles of sawdust. πŸ™‚ The guys were great and also ground the tiny stump from the tree I cut down myself last fall.

We’re considering what to do with that side yard. It feels so much bigger without those trees, and it actually gets morning and afternoon sun now – probably the only place on our property where that’s the case. There’s no easy way to get water over there, but part of my brain has been chanting away about a real herb garden and a veggie garden…

New Pets?

There’s a DL at work for home owners – it’s high traffic but I enjoy reading it. A month or so ago, there was a thread about moles, with photos of the little molehills, and since then I’ve been noticing them everywhere at work and around our neighbourhood.

Yesterday morning I woke up and thought that certain parts of the landscape looked unusual…? I didn’t get out to photograph them until after the blower/pine needle roof fest, so these photos are a bit obfuscated by pineneedles, but they’re freshly-dug dirt, classic circles, flat-top volcanos, etc. I’m thinking moles?

I know that this is supposed to be one of the major stressors of lawn care, but so far (knock on wood) I think they’re kind of cute and unexpected. We shall see. Given that all of the “mole” googling that I’ve done quickly devolves into rants about lethal poison and major explosives, my live-and-let-live sense of things is growing. Our squirrel vs. birdfeeder fight was so chastising (they didn’t even NOTICE the horseradish!!) that I’m loath to tread where so many others have failed. I’m more just hoping they find greener pastures in our neighbours’ yards. πŸ™‚

Not exactly farmers

My tomato plants are starting to look rather autumnal.

The good news is that two more of the fruits are starting to turn orange (bringing our edible count up to 3!!). The bummer is that it’s rainy, cold, and we’re losing our light. Here are the dripping cherry tomatoes.

It sounds, from reading the gardening sites, like I’m not the only Pacific Northwest tomato grower who’s been thwarted this year. Plenty of people are recommending bringing green fruit indoors so that it can ripen on the counter. I’m trying to give it a few more days, but the nights are starting to get into the 40s, so we’ll see how long I can hold out.

We have ice, valves, and one orange tomato!

We had a plumber in two weeks ago to run a new line to our ice machine. The line that came with the house used a saddle valve (which is apparently tantamount to begging for a gushing leak in the crawl space AND they’re illegal in our town). The poor guy had to go down in the crawl space, dig through our new insulation and resolder our pipes in the cramped dark. Plumber rates are impressively expensive, but better him than me!

I’ve been delaying this post, for fear of sudden leaks. But, we have ice!!!

We’ve been making our own ice cubes since October. I’d sort of gotten used to the inconvenience of it, but I can’t tell you what a treat it is to have a full tray of ice. We had four ice cube trays before, and they’re all washed and away in the upper cabinet. (I’m keeping them in case I decide to make mini popsicles, or raspberry-mint ice cubes, or some other rare and unlikely delicacy. You never know.)

The other very exciting thing is that there’s now a shutoff valve for the ice maker water line under our sink!!

(It’s the bottom-right.) The plumber also told me what the three existing shutoff valves do, which is useful knowledge. I wrote it on an index card that’s now tied under the sink so I don’t even have to think if I need it. Having experienced an ice machine line failing, I am VERY happy to know how to kill the water if need be. πŸ™‚

Yay, modern conveniences!!

In other news, we’re a few days away from our first ripe tomato!

In addition, on the last day of August, there are about 5 other green tomatoes, and around a dozen green cherry tomatoes. Wow, the weather didn’t work for tomatoes this year. (Though you can tell it’s been raining here – the grass went from semi-scorched to fluorescent green). I suppose it makes sense, since I didn’t get them in until the last week of June (the temperature wasn’t consistently above 50 at night until then). The tomatoes are Early Girl, but you wouldn’t expect fruit in less than two months anyway, and we’ve had our fair share of cool and cloudy this summer. I’m excited about that one fruit though – we’ll savour it, regardless of what the rest of the green dudes end up being.

August flowers

Since we’re already in August (!), it seems time for a flower roundup. The hydrangea in the side yard has started flowering! The blue is gorgeous. Here’s my shot of the view from the house:

And Kevin’s shot with the macro lens and the tripod:

The roses keep blooming, and they’re really getting prettier and prettier. The biggest one is about 5″ in diameter.

Our sunflower is alive, but deeply unhappy. It’s very pale, stunted (only 16″ tall), and doesn’t follow the sun. Sorry, dude. If I could cook you up more light, I would.

I meant to take a photo of the daylilies of the front yard and then the rains came and I missed them. Also lovely while they lasted.

Lawn care update

I mentioned back in the winter that we’d decided to buy a reel mower (considerations: no gas, very little noise, cheap, and we found a pretty model on sale for $99!). It’s one of my favourite house purchases — up there with the washer & dryer and the new windows, but a small fraction of the price. Pretty, so effective, not intimidating – just useful and easy.

Sadly, in June, the back right wheel started falling off. It didn’t really affect the effectiveness of the mower, but we kept trying to screw it back in because the poor thing looked so lopsided. We both thought some ungracious things about sale prices and attendant bother, nothing being as easy as it seemed, etc, and then sort of just kept ignoring it. Kevin tried to find hardware to hold it in place, to no avail, and I finally dug up the warranty and managed to find time to call during the short window (midwest time) that the service dept was open. The lady was extremely helpful – apprently they’d been using the wrong drill bit for a while and so one of the holes was too big. Oops. She mailed out the replacement part right away (shown here with a night view of the kitchen herbs, happy in their window – look how big they’re getting!!):

So, knock on wood, we should soon be back to our balanced, efficient lawn-tending experience and I can go back to wholeheartedly recommending it to anyone in the market for a mower!!

P.S. Kevin just satisfied his urge for engine-powered lawncare by buying a weed-whacker (Sears was having a sale — $40!). It’s electric (a plus), corded instead of recharging (major plus, from a power perspective), noisy (a minus, but I think it makes him happy?), and all of our borders are now *perfect*. Beats hours of pulling up crabgrass. πŸ™‚

PPS. We’re considering replanting the top shelf of our yard with Woolly Thyme. (Currently, that part of our yard alternates between deep moss in winter and 2′ tall grass in summer — I’ve been weeding constantly with minimal effect. The Woolly Thyme is treadable, low-growing, fragrant, and in theory can help keep weeds at bay. Anyone have any cautions for the pacific northwest? I haven’t been able to find any online, but just checking. Also, any ideas how best to seed it? I’m thinking of growing trays of seedlings and then transplanting them since it’s such a large area, but I’m open to other suggestions.

A Friday post

First of all, happy 27th birthday to me! πŸ™‚

This is sort of an odd milestone, after two years of big ones. Turning twenty-five, getting engaged, getting married, buying a house…! Now it just feels like the goals are to build on and improve existing milestones (marriage, job, house). I can live with that happily, it’s just a very different tenor than past birthdays. (To borrow a page from my technical writer self: “For more information about adulthood, see this Water Heater Post.” πŸ˜› )

Lightening the mood a bit, we have our first tomato!! Green and tiny, but it’s there! (dead center of the photo!)

The cages are an awesome addition to the party. The plants look so much healthier than last year (when I tied them to our deck railing with varying lengths of unwanted yarn), and it’s easier to note their growth against the cages. It was cold into late June, so this just wasn’t the ideal year for tomatoes, but these plants are looking surprisingly healthy at this point. We’ll see?

Also, I have a few plants for the (literally) kitchen garden!!

Left to right, that’s thyme, oregano, chives and basil (I’ve found that basil won’t tolerate having its roots constricted, so it gets a big pot). I’m still on the lookout for cilantro (Kevin loves it) and dill (my favourite), but this is a good start in the right direction. They won’t survive the winter, but I’m hoping that we’ll get a few months of fresh herbs. They smell amazing.

A Successful Carful of Chores

I had a whole slew of chores to do, and managed to burn though all of them:
β€’ Buy additional wood for trim for the windows I forgot to include in the previous tally
β€’ Take said wood to the millwork place to get it stripped to width (they didn’t charge me! Yay!)
β€’ Buy herbs for a kitchen garden (actually indoors! Squirrel proof!)
β€’ Buy flowers for the rock wall in the backyard and for planters.
β€’ Buy a strawberry pot and pea gravel.

Here’s the evidence (and I still love that every seat in the Matrix folds flat – I can’t count the number of times that feature has been useful):

I was psyched to come across a fundraising carwash at the end of the errands! It was a high school aged cheer group and their dads, and they did an amazing job scrubbing off the last of the road trip bugs. πŸ™‚ (I would have done it myself, but our entire areas has edicts against soap in the storm drains because of the salmon. You can use plain water in your driveway, but can’t add anything to it. 2000 miles of bugs requires soap.)

Here are the plants on the patio, awaiting planting. Pretty.

I decided on three groupings on the rock wall. To the far left, I ripped out a ton of fennel and mint, and made a place for an English Lavender and two “Shock wave pink vein” petunias. They’re really more of a light purple, and I’m hoping they spread.

The photos from here on in are all dark, since I didn’t take them until 8:40 – sorry! But knowing me, this will be a photo topic in the weeks to come, and you’ll get to see the light and bright versions soon.

In the middle of the wall, to the left of the path, I cleared out a pretty large space. In back are the tall “Lady in Red” Salvia. We’ve already seen a hummingbird checking them out! In front of those, I planted three zinnias (two “Magellan Salmon” and one “Magellan Coral”) and then four marigolds (a mix of “Zenith Orange” and the dwarf “Durango Orange”). The brilliant red one in the foreground is a “Lanai Cherry Red” Verbena – it is sensationally bright and I love it.

On the far right of the rock wall, Kevin dug out two shrubby pine things, and I pulled plenty of mint and forget-me-nots to make space for more marigolds, zinnias, and verbena.

The plant you see in the foreground between the two rocks is a honey melon sage. This is the third one I’ve bought in Seattle, and the smell is truly splendid, plus it’s starting to bloom delicate trumpet flowers. I was happy to find one at the nursery – it’s a great plant.

This guy is the ultimate in wishful thinking on my part, but we’ll see:

A sunflower. It’s already tracking the sun, even though the flower is still a ways away. I’m completely enamoured with it.


The roses in the backyard are blooming!

Here’s a close-up of the yellow one:

And the red one:

We also have large cream ones and tiny pink ones.

I’m of two minds on the whole thing. The first is sort of a “yay, blooming!” happy response – they really are pretty, and since they’re in a corner of the yard that we can’t see at all from the house I have no compunction about clipping blooms to bring indoors.

The section reaction is mild irritation – I can tell that the bushes are crying out for care from the way they’re growing (very droopy, not like the proud straight bushes of the neighbour up the street), and I know that roses can be time intensive, and off all the things I’m willing to spend time tending roses don’t really make the list. But if they’re blooming this well without any prodding/help, maybe I should try to nurture them? If they weren’t blooming so well, I’d just tear them out and plant dahlias and call it a day, but now I’m feeling torn. Does anyone want to convince me that the work is minimal?

Finally, tomatoes

A cold, late spring plus my procrastination means that the tomatoes and basil are finally in 2/3 of the way through June. Crazy late.

That’s one early girl, one cherry tomato, and two basil starts. We’ll see?? I’m only vaguely optimistic for them. I’ll try to put in beans and summer squash once we’re back for our trip, and I want to try some kitchen herbs (thyme, basil, oregano, cilantro X2 for Kevin, maybe dill).