229: Tulips in bloom

It’s great to be home, spend the night in my own bed, listening to the familiar sounds that surround us here at Breezy Acres, and walking on familiar paths looking to see what’s new.

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Project Patio: We Rock

Perhaps that should be “We Stone” but “We Rock” sounds better and a little less drug-connected.

(First thing this morning)

M and I spent a good portion of our day yesterday digging and shoveling.  We took turns digging out what I think of as The Pit, where the flagstone will eventually find a home.  One of us would dig, loosening the topsoil, and the other person would shovel the loosened dirt and fling it into the wheelbarrow.  As the morning wore on there was less flinging and more straining to lift the shovelful of dirt (on my part, at least).  Under the topsoil there was the usual clay, harder to dig into and heavier to lift.

Once The Pit was dug out and leveled, it was time to shovel in the gravel.  More flinging and lifting ensued.  My exercise schedule had me down for weight training yesterday.  This fit the bill nicely.  It was much more exhausting, something I didn’t think possible given the weight workouts I’ve been subjecting myself to lately.

Before I continue (because this deserves kudos as well as extra credit), I should note that M got up at 6:00am yesterday morning and cooked a gourmet breakfast for us before turning into the Project Patio Boss.  He made a scrumptious spinach and feta frittata, and mashed-potato pancakes using leftover mashed potatoes mixed with a variety of grated veggies that included yellow squash, zucchini, and onions.  There was a good selection of fresh fruit to go with it (raspberries, cantaloupe, and cherries).  Who wouldn’t want to work for a man who delivers that sort of breakfast before starting the job?

When all was said and done with the gravel, we once again had to make sure everything was level.  Then M went over it with the heavy roller (pictured in the bottom right of the photo above).  It took the two of us to get it out of the pit, and then back up the hill towards the barn where it normally resides.  (The roller was left behind in the barn when we bought the house and property.  Lucky us.)

After the tamping (rolling), the fun.  It was time to start putting together the jigsaw puzzle.

I learned that all the weight training of the past few months have paid off.  I can and did help with the lifting of the heavier flagstones.  Neither of us was sure I’d be able to do it.  Our back-up plan was to have our oldest son come up and help.  (Note to Oldest Son if you’re reading:  We still need your help as those stones will have to be moved again.  And again.  Plus there is still the floating dock project.  Don’t forget to get some water shoes!)

The heat began to creep up on us, as did the sun.  We still have a long way to go in figuring out where to lay each piece of this big puzzle.

To the right in the above picture, on top of the brick wall, you’ll see one of the capstones for the wall.  It’s Vermont slate and the color seemed to help tie in the grays and blues in the flagstones (and the flagstones have some of the reds and rust colors that go with the brick).  I think the capstones will be the last part of the project.  Don’t quote me on that as I’m not sure.  There may well be ten other things that have to be done after the capstones are laid on top of the bricks.  I had M set one there so I could look at it since this was my first opportunity to compare and contrast and make sure it fits.

(In the afternoon sun.)

We still haven’t gone through all of the pieces of stone yet.  The stones have a way of getting heavier as time goes on, even the smaller ones.  We finally called it quits around 1:00pm when our arms had had enough of lifting.  We’ll give it another go tomorrow morning, separating the rest of the stones out from the big pile and getting a better idea of shapes and sizes and fit.

It’s officially summer

After all our hard work yesterday, we decided we had earned a treat so we took a little drive to New Baltimore where you can find some of the best ice cream ever, anywhere.

A lot of folks are searching for New Baltimore ice cream (as evidenced by the search terms bringing people to Life in the Bogs).  If you are one of those looking, let me help you out.  The original New Baltimore ice cream stand is just across the road from where Ohio State Route 44 and Pontius meet in New Baltimore (the top left of the T).  It’s the main intersection in New Baltimore, a main intersection of some kind being typical of small Ohio villages.  No real “town” area to speak of, just an intersection where there’s a park or a firehouse, a business or two, and maybe a church.

Typically, M and I start and end the ice cream season with a sundae.  It depends on the flavors available during our first and last visits as sometimes there is a flavor that is just too good to pass up.  While there were some good flavors on the board yesterday (butter pecan, for instance), nothing stood out enough for me to go against the sundae tradition so I had a butterscotch sundae (with whipped cream and a cherry on top).  M had a Nuthouse sundae which comes with salted mixed nuts and caramel.

In case the diet police are paying attention, that was our dinner.  Not exactly the usual healthy fare, but everyone deserves a treat every now and then, especially people who spend warm summer days digging and shoveling.  We had a healthier snack of hummus and vegetables later in the evening to balance things out.

I think we’re going to stay in tonight and quietly celebrate the 35th anniversary of the day we met.  We disagree on the date so this will be a half-way point, so to speak.  We met on the 3rd of July in 1975 but I can understand M’s confusion on the issue as I didn’t speak to him that day and I’m sure I blended in with a big crowd of people.  It was on the 4th of July that I said hello.  And asked him out.

We might go for a row around the pond later.  In the meantime, I think I’ll join Izzy in a little catnap.

Or go out on the porch with Bella, and read for a little while.  It’s too hot right now to do much else.

Amazing skies

Doesn’t that scene make you want to lie down in the green, green grass and stare up at the sky?

We continue to have the most amazing skies as the summer progresses here in the Bogs of northeast Ohio.  Yesterday was a “Simpson’s cloud” kind of day where the clouds would roll in with lots of blue space in between.  Kind of reminds me of this song (even if I’m not in Arizona).

It was a gardening kind of day yesterday.  I’d show you a picture of my veggie garden but I’m afraid you wouldn’t be able to tell the veggies from the weeds.  It is that bad.  I’ll be out there again today, after I put in some time on Project Patio.  Today’s job is to shovel dirt.

(Afternoon reflections.)

The heat will be moving back in today.  The humidity will join the heat tomorrow.

(Evening reflections.)

To see beautiful skies from around the world, click on the badge below.  And enjoy.  🙂

Project Patio: Today’s Mission

(Morning reflections.)

I thought you might want to see something pretty before I start showing off the masonry tools and bricks.  We had a lovely sunrise this morning.  I didn’t get around to taking pictures until the sun was up in the sky a bit as I was enjoying the beauty and the quiet.  It didn’t seem right to spoil it by running around with the camera, looking for the best spot to take photos.

Early today the boss of Project Patio — that would be M — assigned me the task of digging up the bricks from the old patio, scraping them, hauling them over to the brick pile, and stacking them.

Look at the ground in the above photo and you will see the old bricks.  (Feel free to admire the brick wall M built while you’re looking.)  You might also notice that there is some plant growth in between the bricks.  I point this out because another part of my assignment was to get the plants, roots, and dirt out of the area.  This involved the occasional trip to the compost pile out by the garden which seems miles and miles away when I’m hauling a heavy bucket filled with dirt, grass, moss, and an assortment of other weeds/plants.  (Ignore the garden tractor and wagon over to the right.  M was using those.  Any hauling I did was by hand/body.)

When I started, I was in the shade.  I thought the job would be a piece of cake.  The first few bricks came out with no problem and without the use of tools other than my hands.  This turned out to be trickery.  As I moved along, the bricks were more firmly entrenched.  The last five bricks (of course!) were the worst of all as they were buried under mats of grass.

It took about four hours, but I did it.  Sort of.  It turns out there were some bricks hiding under the stack shown in the first photo of the old patio.  I will finish it up tomorrow.  I’m exhausted now and ready for a long nap.

However, I’ll have to leave the napping to Bella up there as I have a few more things to accomplish this afternoon, including doing something about dinner.

Before I head off to do the things I need to do, a few more pics.  Just because.

(View of the timothy grass meadow from northern side of the pond.)

I took a little walk around the pond during one of my breaks this afternoon, just to stretch my legs and back.  I was tempted to give up on the bricks, jump in the rowboat, and spend the rest of the day floating on the pond.  We are having such beautiful weather that it’s hard to resist the urge to play or rest (or do a little of both!).

The deer like to bed down in the grass meadow.  We don’t often see them but we do see where they flatten down the grass to get a good night’s sleep.

I found this dragonfly in the grasses on our sledding hill.  I’m having trouble identifying it.  It might be the common sanddragon.  It might not.  If you have a guess (or you know what it is), please leave a comment or email me.  I’m trying to do a better job of identifying and learning about the local flora, fauna, and insect life.

(Don’t forget you can click on the photos for a larger view.)

Strike a joint

Yesterday M started building the patio wall.  I went out to help for a little while.  M gave me the job of striking the joints.  No, not that kind of joint, you sillies.

From the Stone Glossary:

Strike:  Cut off with a trowel the excess mortar at the face of a joint.  Also known as ‘struck joint.’

The tool I used (pictured above) was not a trowel.  It is called a jointer.  The joint is the space between the bricks, and striking (or jointing) is done to finish or smooth the mortar before it hardens.  At least I think that’s what it is.  If there are any masons out there reading this, feel free to correct me if I’m wrong.

(It’s starting to look like a wall!)

A not-so-funny thing happened on my way out to help.  I was carrying Izzy (one of the cats) out for her roll around on the flagstone.  As I stepped out the back door I must have mis-stepped as I twisted my ankle and went falling to the ground.  Poor Izzy was so freaked out she didn’t think to run away.  Instead she ran towards the door, begging to be let back inside.  I’m fairly certain I didn’t break anything.  It’s probably a sprain.  I will try to rest it for a few days and see how it goes.  Ice and elevation have kept the swelling down and compression helps when I’m hobbling around.  I would like to avoid x-rays as I just had x-rays done on Tuesday of my left thumb (probably arthritis causing the swelling and pain) and my right knee (training for a 5k injury and the swelling keeps on keeping on).  I’ll be radioactive soon if this continues.

I have been very klutzy lately.  More so than usual.  I wonder if it’s because I spent the month of May looking up?  Perhaps I better spend the month of July looking down so I can see where I’m going.

(The floor of the kitchen at night.)

Look Up: Clouds Over Akron

M and I went to Akron yesterday evening to meet up with a friend.  On our walk from the car to the bar I spotted some rather cool looking clouds.  I would have expected the clouds to produce a storm but they didn’t.  Too bad.  We could use the rain.

Bonus photo:  The full moon.  I took this on our way home last night.  It’s not too bad when you consider I didn’t have a tripod with me and I was shooting through the car window.  I did not Photoshop this photo.  The moon really was that color.

In other news…

Project Patio continues.  M and I went shopping for stones on Thursday.  We found some beautiful Vermont slate that is cut in 12″x12″ squares.  He’ll be using that as wall caps on the brick wall he’s building around the patio.

M has just about finished digging the trench for the wall foundation and we’ll probably be mixing and pouring concrete tomorrow.

Bella (above) and Izzy (below) have already been enjoying the flagstone that will eventually be moved from a tall pile to become the patio.  It’s a nice perch for them as well as a good place to roll around and shed some fur.

(Izzy, looking up.)

I did some work in the garden this morning and found that I have a new resident:

Garden notes: Spent a few hours out in the garden today, weeding and shoveling mulch.  Put down an “anti-weed carpet” (basically sheets of black plastic) between the rows of asparagus in hopes that will keep down the weeds.  I don’t want to use herbacides (going organic out there) so I need another solution for the weed problem.

The asparagus is growing so fast now that we can almost harvest twice a day.  We’re not yet sick of eating it.  It’s yummy and much sweeter than the grocery store stuff.

The spinach is so overrun by weeds (mostly grass — it looks like I planted a lawn out there!) that I may let it go.  Other than the sweat-equity investment, all I’ll lose is a dollar and a few cents.  The lettuces are tall/big enough that I should be able to get in there and weed without harming them.

I planted Greek oregano (in a pot) and pineapple mint (near the barn where it can spread as much as it likes).  M bought a variety of tomato plants as well as some petunias.  We’ll get those planted tomorrow or Monday.

We need rain.  It might be time to start doing a rain dance.

Who wants to volunteer?

(Ye olde patio.)

The special (heh) delivery arrived yesterday afternoon and work on the new project will begin any minute now (or once the rain stops).  The old patio, pictured above, has to be taken apart first.  The patio isn’t old in terms of age.  M built that a summer or two after we moved into this house (which was in 2002).  The bricks were once part of the kitchen that we gutted and had remodeled.  Their sole purpose (besides taking up a good amount of space) was to house a “built-in” oven.  It probably looked pretty cool when it was new but it was outdated when we bought the house and that space is now occupied with cabinets and shelves, a much more efficient use if you ask me.  And we got a patio out of it.

(The Stuff.)

M took a masonry course last fall to get ready for this project.  Hopefully he now knows what he’s doing.  I should take that “hopefully” out.  I have great faith in him, especially when it comes to these marriage-testing projects.  From first glance, I’d say the thing we’ll need the most help with will be moving and placing the flagstones (you can see those sitting to the right of the cinder blocks).  All volunteers are welcome.  Feel free to sign up in the comments section of this post.  😉

What you don’t see in either picture are the rocks (mini-boulders) I bought for my garden.  There really aren’t that many of them but they will take a little work to haul up to the garden.  Once we realized how cheap they were, M and I both later thought that we should have bought more as I will likely need more for the garden and any leftovers can be used to line flowerbeds around the house or something.  We can always find a use for them.

The guy that delivered the goods was kind enough to bring his truck around to the back so we won’t have to spend the next week hauling bricks, mortar, etc.  Three cheers for the delivery dude!

I’ll leave you with a pretty picture.  Enjoy.

Garden notes:  We’re getting some much needed rain today.  Supposed to keep raining for the next few days.  Did some chipping and shredding this afternoon, adding to our large pile of mulch.  I was hoping to harvest some asparagus but it’s still not ready.  Might be able to get about 6-8 spears tomorrow.

The trees are finally bursting out with leaves.  The apple and crabapple trees are blooming.  The azaleas and lilac buds are about to pop.