Friday, July 4, 2008

Happy 4th!

Hey! We had some nice weather today! And in July, no less. We got a bare smidgen of rain the evening of the 3rd--enough to moisten the grass a little on the west side, but not enough to penetrate the cottonwood's canopy on the east--but it seems to have brought cooler temperatures and pleasant breezes with it. Because we had a really, really nice day today. We had breakfast outside, which I always like, then dozed a bit and read in the hammock, then worked on the shade patio till 4ish. Then I hit the hammock again, and eventually we had a picnic dinner in Taylor (about 20 min. north of Elgin on FM 95) to watch the fireworks. Which were substantial, varied, and protracted enough to justify the drive.

And even in the middle of the day, the heat was bearable and there were cooling breezes. In the morning and evening, it was downright cool.

And just now Matt brought me a peach margarita while I blog in bed.

So, really, an awfully nice day.

The Shade Patio

Much progress was made on the patio, albeit of a two-steps-forward-one-step-back variety. We pulled up all the pavers and put down sand in order to level the patio out. (We used the sand that had been in the sandbox that was on the cement pad that now houses the orangery. There's plenty left over, so we'll be able to do the stone walkway from the study door as well.)

Leveling the sand was a bit of a bother. We didn't research it--just kinda winged it with a long 2×4 and a level. We hoed it an approximation of flatness, then used bits of board to level it further. And we used the 2×4/level combo to test it vertically and horizontally. While it's nothing like Kansas, it is more or less flattish.

Then we reinstalled all the pavers. But the problem is this: our collection of pavers is really miscellaneous--it's not like we have a set of matched pieces that all fit together in a particular way to make a shape--we just have a bunch of odds and ends. And while we got them to fit together fairly well for the beta version of the patio, this time it didn't work out so well. We were focusing on randomization instead of on seamlessness. Turns out, seamlessness is more important--randomization will take care of itself. So while the big central medallion and 4 corner medallions are fine, the filler will need to be pulled up (again) and re-laid. My back spasms in horror at the thought.

Brief Porch Glider Update
We also spray painted the three metal supports for the porch glider, so we're a wee bit closer to completion on that project, as well. If today's effort didn't sap us of all will, we may drill the supports and screw on the wooden slats this weekend.

Freshly painted swing supports

Plant Update
Also, while the 2nd baldcypress and one of the red cabbagey rose cuttings have remained stubbornly dead, the better cypress (on the west side) is putting out lots of little leaf buds all over.

Among the roses, the best so far have been the redoubtable 'Fairy,' 'Green Ice,' and, surprisingly, 'Autumn Damask,' which has completely recovered from its spring leaf fungus (after 2 apps of fungicide) and even had a blossom on it last week. What's so surprising is what an attractive, compact shrub 'Autumn Damask' has become. In a pot, it was constantly flinging out these ridiculously long, gangly arms. Now that it's in the ground, it's suddenly tidy and contained. 'The Fairy' and 'Green Ice' have both been obligingly blooming away, though their blossoms are small and sad and bleached looking.

'Wild Blue Yonder,' with its perpetual canker issues, and 'Lichterloh,' which just sits there, never growing, never blooming, looking small and scraggy and miserable, are the two worst. In their defense, even 'Knockout' is looking a bit chastened--only a few sort of washed-out blooms on it at the moment.

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