Tuesday, July 30, 2013


I know, I know, I said we were almost done a week ago.  But really, we are now almost done.  I'd say at least 75% of the plants are in the ground.

This was just a sampling, waiting on our hill for planting day.  I love the combination of the silver heather and the golden heather.  You can also see some teucrium in the upper left, pulmonaria with the gray-green leaves, a few chamaecyparis "mops" (the ever"green" with the yellow foliage), bergenia, a flat of a couple of different saxifraga (Aureopunctata and Maroon Beauty), and a flat of Autumn Joy sedum.  Most of those are now planted in the rock garden.

The pond pump, which has been the holdup for this stage of the project, is hopefully arriving today, the sod will be laid Wednesday, the rest of the plants will get here Thursday, and the final dressing of mulch will happen on Friday.

The reunion starts Monday.  Nothing like cutting it close.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

It IS the 25th, but.......

.....no Christmas today.  

It's been moved to the 29th.  
I handled this news with total composure and an "It will happen when it happens" type of attitude. 

Weedy Hillside, on the other hand, was less mature and resorted to sulking and the eating of a double scoop mint chocolate chip ice cream cone.

At least that's how I'm reporting it.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

A Sneak Peak

So much is happening right now.  Everything is on the verge of being done and I'm tempted to just wait and post a final reveal.  
But that would require patience.

The veggie garden teenager crew did some pretty darn amazing work on the brick pathways.

Lucy now volunteers to get herbs for dinner.
Or breakfast.
Or lunch.
People fight to take out the compost.  This is unprecedented. 

The only things that still need to be completed in this garden are the gates, the installation of the sink, and a couple of little flower beds near the barn.  

Over in the front yard, the plants are getting delivered tomorrow!  It feels like Christmas Eve.  
It will be hard to get to sleep tonight.

I love the pathways and the new flagstone patio at the top of the hill.  Even without the plants and grass, everything is already so improved.  The next two days will be big.  Plants, sod, steel edging, waterfall pump, mulch.......

You may notice the lovely green abode in the background.  As we were walking around the yard, discussing all the changes, XiXi said, "And has anyone else tried the Port-a-Pottie?  It's AWESOME!" He totally thought it was staying and was bummed to hear it's going bye-bye with the workers.

There's a stone bridge at the top of the waterfall and then you curve down two steps, and you're back on the path.  I love the twists and turns.  I never, ever would have come up with that on my own.  I wouldn't have thought beyond a single straight path along the crest of the hill.   And even that thought overwhelmed me for 9 years.  
But eyesore no more!

Hang up your stocking, Weedy Hillside.  
Tomorrow's Christmas!

Sunday, July 21, 2013

A few bricks shy of a full load

Lyle informed me yesterday, when he was oh-so-close to finishing his veggie garden pathways that he was a few bricks shy.  I told him I've known that from day one.  But in light of his current dilemma, we brainstormed.  We considered pouring concrete and having our kids put in their handprints.  That would have worked and been quite sweet.  But then we looked at our large pile of brick scraps and Lyle had the brilliant idea of putting them to work in the form of a mosaic.

Our compost bins are lucky to be graced by such a masterpiece.

It makes me think that being a few bricks shy just makes life rather interesting.

P.S.  The pathways are amazing.  Photos coming soon.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Beep! Beep! Beep!

That would be the sound of big machines and delivery trucks backing up all over the property.  It's frequently joined by the Gggnnrrrr sound of bricks getting cut in the backyard--all sounds of activity and progress, so it's music to our ears.  The gravel pathways are beginning to take shape, giving us a taste of what the different areas will look like in the end. 

The lower pond is going in, with the large flat rock as the "fall rock" (I'm learning the lingo) for the waterfall.  What I find amazing is that all of this is just being dry fit and then once they have the placement right, they'll move the rocks again to install the liner and then put them back.  This crew has been so meticulous.

Next to the ponds and waterfall will be another path,

which curves around one side of the rock garden,

and then goes down the other side, enclosing that area.  
I love that so many of those rocks were already on our property.  It feels like I'm recycling......or as I overheard Cholita say to XiXi the other day when she saw him making something out of a discarded cardboard box, "XiXi, do you know what being green means?  It's not saying you're the color green, but you're reusing something, and that's a different type of green, and I'm proud of you."


And it doesn't get much greener than a vegetable garden, where Lyle and his crew of teenagers are rocking on the bricks.  

Truly, the little kids are loving all the activity.   I just caught XiXi in a rare serious moment.

That's more like it.

The little kids have been so helpful.  Lyle is hoping to finish with the bricks tomorrow and then needs to rent the compactor again and go over everything and then brush in the sand.  After that, he'll tackle the gates and then I think he can call it good in the veggie garden.

The pond liner is getting delivered later this afternoon and hopefully soon the Beep! Beep! Beep! Gggnnrrr chorus will be joined by the sound of trickling water!

Monday, July 15, 2013

Ya' Picked a Fine Time to Leave Me Lucille

Or in our current state, "Ya' picked a fine time to steal from me Lucille."  But I doubt our thief's named Lucille.

Three weeks from today is our family reunion.  And today we noticed that the weed whacker's been stolen, along with a couple of gas cans.   It looks like we'll add "install lock on barn door" to the long list of things to do.  Oh, and buy another weed whacker.

In other news, the veggie garden is thriving.  This has been Lyle's project and while other people work in the front yard, he's been tenaciously chipping away in the back.

The grapevine arbor is done, with the sunburst pattern on the front and back.  The grapevine was already there and I love how he was able to work around it with the raised beds and also with the arbor.

The big curved concrete step is done, with a little ramp for a wheelbarrow.   We had some issues with sloping ground and I think Lyle's solution will be lovely when it's all done.  Can't you just picture the brick butting up against that cool step? I also like that there'll be a difference in color and material so that people will be sure to notice that there is a step.  I tell you, that concrete mixer was the best gift Lyle's ever been gifted.  

 I'd love to put a little cafe table and chairs on that lower patio level, pasture smells be darned.  
I can eat almost anywhere.

The paths already look so much better than they do in these pictures as Lyle and 3 teenaged boys spread and compacted gravel today.  Tomorrow they'll put down sand and hopefully Wednesday they can start laying bricks.  Lyle planned months ago to have this week off, knowing he'd need it to finish projects.  Once this one's down, he only has about 30 to go.  But this is the biggie.

The veggies are growing like great gangbusters.  Lyle planned the arbors with the wire fencing so that he could easily climb things.  The peas seem quite happy here, and XiXi gives his endorsement of the carrots.

Both little kids have been quite helpful and when they haven't been helpful, they've at least been cute.  In the background, I see the kiwi trellis with the copper piping across the top, another finished project.   Haven't mentioned that one yet, but I'll get more photos after the brick laying.....assuming the bricks aren't stolen between now and Wednesday.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Just my luck

We've been in our home for over 9 years.  During those 9 years, probably not a month has gone by that there hasn't been discussion amongst the neighbors about paving our road.  It's long, it's dusty, it's frequently pot-holed, but getting numerous households to come to an agreement on a very costly project has been seemingly impossible.   Until now.

And of course, we found out Saturday that the road paving is happening this week--the very same week all of our deliveries were scheduled  for our yard.  Since delivery trucks can't traverse the road during or 3 days after paving, work has stalled and will resume next week.   Disappointing.

BUT, we do have another big pile of big rocks.

And we DO have a 4 zone sprinkler system.

And guess who helped with the installation? 

 That would be this guy, a newly minted 6 year-old,

who in addition to sprinkler work, specializes in tormenting his older sister when no one is looking, and turning on the brotherly charm when someone is.

Hopefully more photos next week!

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Required ESL Screening: Sometimes Mom Knows Best

My youngest just graduated from kindergarten. Come September, he’ll ride a bus, he’ll carry a lunchbox, he’ll have a pencil case. And so in preparation for all of that, we took him to the “big kid” school to register. I was given the usual forms–proof of immunization, emergency contact list, permission to access the internet, please oh please join the PTA….. Then a bright green paper asked if we spoke English in our home. Easy, yes. Was English your child’s first language? Well, No. What was their first language? Mandarin.
I turned in my forms and the nice woman at the desk glanced through them. At the green paper, she stopped. Oh, English isn’t his first language. “Hmm,” she said, “this will be flagged by the district and he’ll need ESL screening.” I told her it wasn’t necessary, that he no longer spoke Mandarin and that his English was fantastic. She said she understood, but that it wasn’t her call, district policy. I asked her if she wanted me to change the form to say Yes, English was his first language, just to save everyone the trouble.
“No,” she said, “Let’s be honest, and really, it’s no trouble. A woman named Mrs. Little will come to do his evaluation…..”
At this point, XiXi, who’d been listening quietly, piped up.
“Mrs. Little? Like Stuart Little? There’s this show, and it’s about a mouse and his name is Stuart and he gets adopted by a family, except they’re not mice, they’re people, and his mom, she’s named Mrs. Little, just like that lady that you said is coming to the school!”
The woman looked at XiXi. She looked at me.
“I think it will be a quick evaluation.”

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

This will be lovely

Really it will.

But somehow in the last week, our dirt has become dirtier, our dust has become dustier.  

Rocks that were unearthed long ago when big machines cleared our land, rocks that were plopped into unattractive piles on top of our hill, have been moved once again, hopefully to be put to better use.

Trenches are being dug hither and yon

and the big pile of dirt and weeds that was shaved off the top of our front yard

has become a veritable mountain.  My children are filthy.  The dogs are almost unrecognizable.  The chickens come up every evening for a dust bath.

And as if we weren't already swimming in dirt,  new dirt has started to arrive.

A few plants are in holding in the courtyard, next to, of course, another pile of dirt, which is, of course, next to another hole.

It's been an interesting process, watching someone else work in our yard.  I feel conflicting emotions of guilt that such nice people are toiling and sweating on my property,
 and happiness that in this heatwave, it's not me.  
Our children love the landscapers and the little ones fall all over each other to deliver them cold smoothies or glasses of raspberry lemonade.  Demolition has been so exciting, I can only imagine their joy when things actually start to look better.

In the meantime, since someone else is doing the yard work, I made a new throw pillow for the porch swing.  Nothing fancy, but it's not brown and it doesn't smell of dirt.