Sunday, February 28, 2010

We Need A Little Sunshine

Surely, it's time for roses again..... Posted by Picasa

“In the midst of winter, I finally learned that there was in me an invincible summer.” ~ Albert Camus (French Novelist, Essayist and Playwright, 1957 Nobel Prize for Literature, 1913-1960)

It has been a long and everywhere it seems. One ten inch snow storm that was amazing for this area, quickly followed by three more... each just an inch; but with cold temperatures continuing and north winds... very, very cold indeed. I tried to plant some bulbs, but the ground was frozen and forget about getting any shrubs in. Even the winter pansies seemed put out by all the extreme weather and looked quite puny. These roses are dormant now, just about ready to be pruned for the new growing season. I miss the yellow blooms and the little green spider that often made his home in the soft petals.

I thought this would be a touch of sunshine to lift my spirits... just in time for Mellow Yellow Monday.

In other news, Nyssa will be defending her master's dissertation soon and graduation is to be May 1st. It looks like she will be off on the doctorate hunt even further away from home.... say, Nevada. They made her an offer of a scholarship and teaching assistantship that she probably can't refuse. The little bird has definitely left the nest... completely and totally.

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Saturday, February 13, 2010

In A Winter Wonderland With A Depressed Dog

Daisy does NOT like snow. (Click picture to enlarge) Posted by Picasa

“It's snowing still," said Eeyore gloomily. "So it is." "And freezing." "Is it?" "Yes," said Eeyore. "However," he said, brightening up a little, "we haven't had an earthquake lately.” ~ A. A. Milne (English Humorist, creator of Winnie-the-Pooh, 1882-1956)

Last night and this morning we have had the fourth snow event in the past two and a half weeks. Three have been minimal, including today.... with less than two inches of snow. The first, however, was deep and long lasting... ten inches in our area. Daisy doesn't mind the dustings and smaller depths, but she absolutely hates the deep stuff. The snow came up to her chest and she always stayed in the foot steps already made in the snow while we were out. It stuck to her fur and between her toes.... no, Daisy is not fond of the white stuff. She prefers to sit in the sunroom and look out at the birds and the kids playing in the street.

I was about to say that the snow had stopped and the sun was trying to come out, but as I look out the window, the clouds returned and still the tiny white fluff flies... just flurries. Still, I see we might be in for a little more on Monday or Tuesday!

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Monday, February 08, 2010

Twenty Year Storm

January 30 - 31st, 2010. Chesapeake, Virginia
(Click picture to enlarge)
Posted by Picasa

"Out of the bosom of the Air,
Out of the cloud-folds of her garments shaken,
Over the woodlands brown and bare,
Over the harvest-fields forsaken,
Silent, and soft, and slow
Descends the snow."
~ Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Snow-Flakes

We actually had a large snow storm... not this last weekend with all its hype but the week before. The first large snow storm across the mid-Atlantic that stretched across Arkansas, Tennessee and Virginia. The news said this was a 20 year storm. Here so near the ocean we have the Gulf Stream that keeps most of these storms at bay... it is just a bit too warm for snow and even when cold, the clouds seem to trap the heat and things just heat up. Take this past weekend... DC and Philly were getting 2 feet and some places 3 feet. Yet here, just a five hour drive away we got an inch... yes, an inch.

But, the last weekend in January... well. It started snowing and snowing and then sleeting and snowing again and when it finally ended up overnight on Saturday, we had 10 inches. It was not a very good snowman snow but it did pack down and slush a bit and then when the temps took a nosedive it made horrible ice on the streets and walkways. This part of Virginia is not ready for this kind of snow. We never did see any salt or plows in the side streets and it remained cold most of the week. In fact, the last of the snow on our roof (in the shaded areas) didn't slide off until the rain of this past weekend started.

Daisy made it very clear... she doesn't like snow at all.. especially snow that comes up past her chest. Very unhappy cocker spaniel. She didn't mind the inch but that thick stuff... no way!

So this was our snow storm for the next 20 years... it looks like the ice and snow will miss us again tomorrow... just rain. Oh well!

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Sunday, February 07, 2010

Special Touches In The Home Stretch

September 17th to September 25th, 2009

"People are like stained-glass windows. They sparkle and shine when the sun is out, but when the darkness sets in, their true beauty is revealed only if there is a light from within." ~ Elizabeth Kubler Ross

Almost done now... or at least it is almost time for my part of the production. There is still the problem of the swamp garden plot... er... the rose garden. It will not drain. Of course, it didn't help that the guy who graded the yard and took up all the old grass put the sod in the bottom of the rose bed... I dug out three wheelbarrows full of the muck and dumped it out in the preserve. Then I called the patio people as they do drainage, but they never answered any of my calls or the contractor calls either. They just didn't want to fool with it and instead of saying so, they ignored me. So I wouldn't really give them a five star recommendation after all. Had I known that the sprinkler system people did this job as well, I would have gotten them to do it in the first place. They knew what they were doing and drilled a large dry well all the way through the clay layer into the underlying sand. They put down drainage pipes and now... after a big rain... it drains completely within a day. I have put in over 35 bags of top soil, 35 bags of mixed top soil and compost and a bit of sand to make it ready for the roses.... so far, I have eight planted... a mixture of hybrid teas and floribunda... white, yellow, chocolate, red, gold.... the warm shades... no pink though. Anyway... the sprinkler people are magnificent.... they get 10 stars!

The room is beautiful... inside and out. The hot tub is delectable, especially in the cold temps of fall and winter. But there was still a special touch that needed to be added. We designed a pattern to be made by a local artist in stained glass... a simple geometric in brilliant color. The royal purple was surrounded by ruby red, golden yellow, kelly green and a sky blue. Finally, the glass was ready. These artisans measure the transoms and windows themselves and then install as well. I wish that our cousin David could have met this artist... they are so much alike... very laid back and calm... they even have a slight physical resemblance. The job went beautifully, no broken panes and a perfect fit for everyone. Now, when the sun shines, colored light reflects off the walls and ceiling; and while you really cannot see the stained glass from outside during the day... the night is a different story. The uplight in the fan brings out that soft glow of color... amazing!

We've added the furniture that our cousins made... all walnut from a farm in Illinois. A few rugs and a few plants along with Mom's new orchids and the space is finished. It is an amazingly relaxing spot to read and watch the birds. So all is finished.... well, except for my part.... the flowerbeds.

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Wednesday, February 03, 2010

The Devil's In The Details

August 16th to September 16th, 2009

Fit the parts together, one into the other, and build your figure like a carpenter builds a house. Everything must be constructed, composed of parts that make a whole. ~ Henri Matisse

The tile guy was very talented, but he took off a whole day for his birthday and put the already behind schedule even more so. We had to have the tile to do the quarter round and put in the sink and get the rest of the air conditioning/heater in. Stephen left the day that a lot of that happened.... the sink, electric for the hot tub... etc. Just before he left, he had a bit of a melt down. The electricians came while he was running a last minute errand and they attached a very large breaker box right in the middle of one of the decorative brick inserts.... "it was code".... "there is no other way to do it". Of course this really means.... "We don't have time or energy to think about another way to proceed." After Stephen threw a fit... (I was so glad he was here to do that), they changed it and came up with a more complex but discrete two box system for the air conditioning and the hot tub that was pleasing to see and still came up to code. See... I knew you could if you put your minds to it.

I was sad that the delay resulted in Stephen not getting his hot tub experience in. Don't feel too bad though... he did get some great hot tub time in over Christmas. Anyway, my little sink was in and the electric was ready on the hot tub and they were trying to put in the air conditioning. But, at testing, the copper tubing inside the wall wouldn't hold the coolant charge. OH! NO! My heart sank as they took down the beadboard and some of the trim and opened up the wall. Come to find out it was a problem when they put up the outside trim. The tubing was in a very small confined space up the wall and the nail guns managed to puncture the tubing in four places... now who could have done that... even on purpose. Anyway, a few extra days and extra time and more work and the air conditioner unit finally worked. So far, it works well.

Now we are in the home stretch.... small things. So the lights are finally all in the patio and bench and on a wonderful timer... on at 5pm and off at 11pm. The new railings are in for the steps at the side door and the back door from the house. Then we had to wait a little for the railing for the deck. We had thought that David and Rick would actually build this with composite, but they ran out of time and the material was not available in the right sizes and thickness. The PVC version of the chippendale pattern wasn't what Stephen wanted so we went on a major internet search and found a company in Richmond that made it exactly as he liked, in powdered aluminum. The men came and took specific measurements and marked the posts for the post lights as well as where to cut the wood posts off. It took three weeks but the first week in September they arrived and had them installed in forty-five minutes. It was truly amazing... each piece came in a segment with the fencing and the post coverings in one. It is sturdy and beautiful and you don't have to paint it!

The light wiring was perfect and our little post lights were attached. Now it was time to get the hot tub going and sit for a rest with mood lighting on the deck and around the tub and with our resident horned owl screaming in the forest beyond. Mid-September brought the sod.... and now we are almost done..... almost!

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