Monday, October 20, 2008

Trellis Half Done

You may recall (or possibly not) that our house had, inexplicably, two breaker boxes: the main one in the mudroom and an ancillary breaker box in the crawlspace that was only reachable by wriggling all the way under the house. Not only is that (a) stupid and annoying and (b) unsafe, but (c) the box didn't even work, which meant that the pond, greenhouses, and sundry indoor outlets also didn't work.

So, subsidized by the New Job, we hired an electrician to sort this out, install a ceiling fan on the porch, and add some exterior outlets. Oh, and put in a front doorbell. The fan turned out great, and the exterior outlets are both exterior, and outlets, which I think is all one can ask. The front doorbell... I bought it cheap(ish) from a Home Depot that's closing, and I didn't get to hear what it sounds like before buying. But the description was all Deluxe, so what could go wrong? I mean, the thing plays something like 65 different sounds. Yeah.

Only after the electrician installed the thing did we discover that it has this awful electronic sound--like a ringtone from 2001. On top of that, every one of its 65 sounds is utterly inappropriate, from "Feliz Navidad" to "Dixie." We've basically installed the doorbell version of the Walmart Singing Fish. And on top of that, no matter which sound we set it on, the ridiculous thing always defaults to "Take Me Out to the Ballgame." Two less sporty people than Matt & me you could never hope to find, so this is especially cringe-inducing.

Matt & I were out of town this weekend for his brother Pete's wedding. Pete & Christi were married in an old church in Chappell Hill, which had a lovely ambiance. Matt's posting his pictures from the wedding (url to be added later). I got to spend some time with Ladonna's sister, Denise, and her best friend, Lucy, both of whom were absolutely delightful people.

Then on Sunday we stopped at the Antique Rose Emporium on the way out of town (where Matt & I used to work and, in fact, first met). The gardens are more expansive and mature than ever, which is nice, though they've rearranged the roses in a way that is more user-friendly to the average buyer, but is a little less precise, from the perspective of the dedicated rose fancier. We picked up 4 roses ('Climbing Cecile Brunner', 'Climbing Old Blush,' and 'Mme Alfred Carriere' for the gazebo; 'Souvenir de la Malmaison' because it's a gorgeous old thing), a deep purply curcuma called 'Raspberry Ginger,' and the crinum 'Claude Davis.'

Souvenir de la Malmaison

Glad to be home, though. Weddings can be a bit exhausting for an introvert like me.

Now that, uh, the check's cleared on the electrical work, we can turn our attention back to the trellis.

We put the antique fence pieces the Ks gave us as a house-warming present on top and the hog/goat/whatever-wire that came with the house as the bottom panels.

The trellis, in all its (half-completed) glory

The hardest part so far has been sawing through the wire and doing the math to figure out how everything fits together. You can see that the wire fencing is quite thick. We used up three reciprocating saw blades on this project--wore them down to completely toothless smoothness.

Wire fencing--very, very hard to cut, even with a reciprocating saw

Defunct reciprocating saw blade--click image to see full size.

We had to use 2 x 6s because the antique panels are wider than the hog/goat/whatever-wire panels--the wider frame compensates for the difference.

And we're sticking the whole thing together with these metal flange/bracket thingies (sorry to be so vague--no idea what their proper name is). You can see Matt screwing one on below.

Matt screws on the brackety-flanges

We've got one side done, and will hopefully finish the rest soon. Compared to all the tiresome sawing and multiplying and adding we had to do on this project, screwing in metal flange-brackets is really pretty speedy.

Last item: 'Ducher,' the only white China rose, has started blooming. It's the nicest, softest sort of lemon-chiffon-white color (not, frankly, well-represented by the picture below, but I'm too tired to try to photoshop it into shape).

'Ducher' rose.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

$2.99/gallon ! Halleluja!!!

Exxon on 290, just east of Elgin

Yup. Today I paid less than 3 dollars for a gallon of gas. Takes just a little bit of the sting out of the whole Great Depression: The Sequel thing we've got going on.

Other updates: (1) We finally got some rain on Tuesday. It was only 4/10" but it was good to know that water still falls out of the sky sometimes. (2) We gave Izzy her first bath. She didn't much care for it. Poor little skinny kitty. (3) They finally moved Mt. Albert II last week, although the road that they presumably put it on looks about the same. Mt. A. II had been there since August--I think communities of woolly marmots and lichen had started to move in. (4) We finally tried the red taco stand on far east Main St (Dos Amigos)--they make a damn fine smoky chicken fajita taco. (5) After a year in the ground, 'Buff Beauty' finally put on its first--kinda funny-looking--bloom.

Buff Beauty's first bloom. When it gets its act together, it'll climb up the gazebo.

We're lovin the cooler temps. Aside from being hopelessly dry (that little rain doesn't seem to have accomplished much), the weather's been consistently beautiful. A little warm in the afternoons, but clear, cool mornings and evenings. It occurs to me that we haven't been grilling nearly enough, which seems ungrateful of us.

We finally took our inaugural bike ride in Elgin this morning. One of those things we've been meaning to do (for a year and a half) but hadn't quite gotten around to. It was very nice--we biked to HEB, which is pretty exciting for this suburbanite. I've never really lived in a place where the non-hard-core could bike to run errands. That was one of the original attractions of Elgin (well, that and really cheap real estate), and now that it's October and all mellow and gorgeous, there's no reason not to.

Biking in the towny part of Elgin (10th St to Ave C, Ave C to 11th) was just fine. The streets are wide enough and the traffic slow & infrequent enough that there were no problems at all. And we got to admire people's Oxblood lilies and yard bling.

But crossing Hwy 290, on the other hand, was a bit nerve-wracking. Lots of fast-moving traffic, lots of people impatient to turn left, and my hand-me-down bike is about 2 inches too tall for me, which makes stopping and starting an ungraceful and often painful process. Next time we may take the long way around via Central Ave., which goes under the highway.

Other possible bike destinations: the Seed & Feed General Store on Dildy St. (yes, "Dildy." It was named in a more innocent time), the dry cleaners at the intersection of Main & 290, the organic grocery downtown, the ice cream shop downtown (if it's still in business. sigh...), Bloomers nursery at Ave F & FM95, the park on 12th, the gas station at Taylor and Main, and possibly the hardware store, though biking on FM95 is probably not the safest thing a person could do.

Izzy, trying to recover her dignity after the trauma of a bath. She was not happy with us.

Saturday, October 4, 2008


We finally finished it! We've been working on it since February, and we finally got it done.

Completed porch glider in its new home by the patio

The rotten, rusty original came with the house, and we replaced the slats, the metal brackets, and all the hardware and painted everything. It's now go stainless steel bolts, red oak slats, and brackets made from hurricane fence pipes. It glides beautifully, it's wonderfully sturdy--it's altogether satisfactory.

And when we finished, we sat on our porch glider in the mellow, breezy, golden afternoon and just chilled. Exactly as I had planned.

View from our shade patio

Matt did most of the final work on the swing (I did help with the hacksaw, though. Sawing through fence pipe--not fun work). Meanwhile, with my trusty cultivator hoe--I love that thing--I slowly, carefully chipped the large mound of hard-backed earth from the buttress part of the cottonwood. Our tree guy was adamant that we needed to pull that soil back and let those buttress roots get air.

In the picture below, you can see the bit I had fully excavated on the right and the partially excavated side on the left. I think I gingerly dug off about 8 inches of soil.

And now I remember why I decided not to become an archeologist.

Partially excavated cottonwood

At the same time as all the swing/tree excitement was going on, one of our Oxblood lilies was blooming pink. I know that a pink subspecies or variety exists, but why didn't we see these last year? Do we have the true pink, or is it just some response to drought stress? Pretty, though, isn't it?

Pink Rhodophiala bifida (Oxblood lily)

And here are some picture of the cats. They are still pretty wary of each other (Po keeps getting in Izzy's personal bubble. Izzy doesn't like this. At all.) but no blood has been shed. And we only let them mingle under supervision. On the good news side of things, Izzy adapted to her litter box right away.

Po, whose gargantuan paws are twice the size of Izzy's.

Po's GlamourShot (TM)

Izzy, who sometimes looks shockingly sarcastic for such a young little kitty (1 to 1-1/2 yrs)

The Great Dictator

Matt and Izzy
Related Posts with Thumbnails