Sow: huge harvest

It was a good day at the Mortroski Midcentury. George got braver. Bruce installed more trim. We all have a very packed fridge.

George is very afraid of sounds of the air compressor and the chop saw. That’s why we decided that I’d spend time outside with the Gs (Godiva and Guinness could care less about tool sounds) while Bruce installed trim.

Of course I spent the time on the urban farm. Here’s the harvest:

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1/2 lb snow peas

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English peas

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First carrots plus a second crop radish

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First real harvest of chioggia beets

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Spinach, I ended up harvesting another container the same size as these two

And here are some harvesting shots:

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Picking chard

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Lots of chard

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The urban farm today

The fridge is packed with gallon size bags of spinach, chard, mixed greens, beet greens. It looks like I barely made a dent!

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So: beast

I noticed that I had 666 comments as of today. And today was exactly the kind of day where all of the best laid plans get cast to the wind. All efforts are futile. Obstacles abound. The devil’s in the details.

Coincidence?

Doubtful.

(It’s just Monday.)

The weekend’s not to blame, although it was one of ups and downs. Ups since the bamboo floors have gone in and we can start installing trim and putting things back where they go. Weeds are gone. Lots of veggies need to be harvested. Magazines got read, though not enough to make a dent in the pile saved up. Downs because everyone was a bit crabby yesterday since trim work takes time and we really wanted to be done and move on to errands. George is very scared of the air compressor and other loud sounds so he needed lots of attention.

I had very strange dreams last night and woke up a lot. Sleeping was uncomfortable since my hands, wrists and back were sore. And I woke up very grouchy and still tired. But I chugged some caffeine, pushed through, and before work, I did a bunch of laundry, moved more stuff back to where it goes, took care of a bill, washed dishes, harvested some veggies for our lunches, folded the pile of laundry, emptied the dishwasher, tried to get back a feeling of normalcy.

our sweet Daisy looking like some kind of alien-beast (photo by James Scott)

Our bulldog Daisy playing ball, but looking like some kind of alien-beast in this action shot (photo by James Scott)

It didn’t work.

We’re moving at work too so everywhere things are not where they should be. I’ve been trying to make peace with the chaos—and the irritation of not being able to find something quickly in either place where I spend most of my time. That is, if even know where it is.

While many things went right at work today, one did not. I’m still sitting at my desk, waiting for something that was very simple and straightforward to be completed and shipped out. (just trying to be productive while I sit here an drive everyone crazy with my “are we done yet?” comments). So unfortunately, the DIY plans for tonight turned into Bruce taking care of it himself and hauling more heavy stuff by his lonesome. The Urban Farm will also have to wait until tomorrow morning unless I get the headlamp out, but I think I’ll have other inside stuff to do.

Tomorrow is also Guinness’ tooth extraction. Not sure how George is going to take Guinness’ absence, but we know from past experience that Godiva is a bit of a wreck when Guinness disappears for an extended period of time. Bruce has tried to help her by taking each dog somewhere by themselves quite frequently (they are all big fans of the dry cleaner, Home Depot, and Lowes). But she knows when something’s up. Even George has been wondering why the big boy gets special cheese treats twice a day.

I could use some quality dog snuggling time. Some ball throwing. Even if they end up eating half of my dinner.

So I’m ready for this day to be done. I’m ready to put my head on the pillow and wake up with a clean slate. I’ll go back to being sweet tomorrow, I promise.

Daisy (photo by Mike Nowland)

Sweet Daisy (photo by Mike Nowland)

So: down time

It’s been a tiring week. But tomorrow is the bamboo install and we’re ready.

We’ve still got a few bits of furniture to move in the am but for now, we’re calling it a night and relaxing. A little wine is in order. Then, in bed by 10 is the goal.

We’ve got to be up early because the bamboo dudes will be here by 9:30. Bruce and I are both looking forward to having the floors covered again. Going out to the garage for socks and underwear is getting old. Wearing shoes in the house even flip flops isn’t my preference. The Gs don’t seem to mind the bare cement and brick.

They’ll enjoy their day outside tomorrow. So will I.

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Sow: Welcome to Mayvember

I’m amazed that I can actually type after this evening’s smooth edge and trim removal. Bang bang bang with the hammer on the crowbar. For a couple of hours. My wrists are still vibrating. The good news is that there is officially no more trim or smooth edge to be removed. Tomorrow morning when it’s light, I’ll re-vacuum the floor with the shop vac and then the regular vacuum in that back bedroom to get up any remaining 47-year old dust and grime.

Tomorrow night will be about moving furniture out of the lounge and our mattress on the floor will relocate to the living room. We just need to make sure everything is ready for the bamboo dudes. Saturday everyone—Bruce, the Gs, me—will be outside. Except for the bamboo dudes.

I’ll be weeding the award-winning front yard because I’m a little embarrassed by the quantity and quality of extra plants in the beds. Maybe there will also be time to lie in the sun and take a nap or read a couple of magazines. It would be nice to relax a little bit and enjoy the patio.

That is, IF IT GETS WARM EVER AGAIN. Our crazy North Texas weather has sent the temperatures plummeting. Right now it’s 43°F (that’s 6°C), there’s a 40% chance of rain, big gusts of wind, and the temperature will drop to 40*F.

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Welcome to Mayvember                    (Image courtesy of WeatherBug)

The local news has dubbed this storm Mayvember (get it: May + November) because it is just like our late fall weather tonight. I’m a little worried about the Urban Farm, mostly because I saw three good sized baby tomatoes that weren’t there yesterday along with the bounty of blossoms. The plants are almost as tall as the tomatoes cages. They are beautiful and look like the harvest could be awesome.

We’ve also got snow peas now. It’s like everything is suddenly happening. And that’s why I’m stressed.

So Bruce and I covered everything with frost cloth. Those frost cloths are certainly getting a lot of use, unfortunately. We’ll just have to hope for the best (and no freeze) and for warmer days ahead.

PS: Guinness seems a lot better. The swelling on his mouth is down and he actually let me have a peek at the tooth. The antibiotics are working. I may need some of his giant anti-inflamatories tomorrow!

So: Guinness update + concrete pouring

First the important stuff: the Guinness update. The big boy/world’s most expensive free dog has an abscess and a fractured tooth. The tooth is apparently the most common lab tooth to mess up and the way it’s messed up is called a slab fracture. Google it if you want to see some pretty icky photos.

He’ll be on antibiotics until next Tuesday and then he’s getting the tooth extracted on Tuesday. And we’re not sure what happened. The tooth could have been fractured for years. Dr. Hudson will clean all of his teeth and make sure there’s nothing worse happening. She’s a great vet and has always been great with Guinness (she has an interest in dogs with neurological issues) so I know he’ll be in great hands.

After talking with a coworker who has two lab-ish dogs (one who has had this same issue), Guinness may perk up again. He’s been a little moody lately which we may have wrongly attributed to the aging process (we don’t know how old he is and he’s gotten grayer in the last few months). My coworker explained that when her black lab Precious had her tooth extracted, it was like her whole attitude changed. And she ate better too.

The antibiotics and pain meds (novox) have worked well for Guinness so far–it seems like they’re working for him since he’s perkier. Fingers crossed!

Tonight’s DIY fun was mixing and pouring concrete. Check out the photo of the demolished wet bar:

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There is a big gap between the brick floor and the wall. So we mixed two bags of Quikcrete and put the cement in place:

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Ta da!

We are taking out the sink (don’t use it) and replacing the old cabinet with a beverage fridge and a cabinet. This is a future plan (need the plumber and electrician to come back and help us make that happen) but we need to floor to be level. And this is important for the floor install on Saturday.

Bruce says we need to add concrete pouring to our LinkedIn profiles!

In urban farm notes, we’ve got snow peas forming! Tomatoes are outgrowing their cages. Everything is doing great.

The only challenge is going to be Thursday night’s super cold weather. It could be the lowest May temperature ever. No joke. Bring out the frost cloth!

Sow: nice surprise

Last night’s demo/floor prep was mostly as expected, dusty, dirty, noisy, and without event, except when all my clothes fell on the floor during the closet “organizer” demo that took place in my closet. Then it became filled with swearing and scrambling to put together a fix — yeah, Bruce! No big whoop, just have some dusty stuff to wear (I’m sure 47 years of dust and grime will brush off and not stick) and clothes lying on the lounge sectional, in a guest room closet and in piles throughout the house. That’s ok, Guinness likes soft things to sleep on, everyone is ok, everything’s fine. I’ll probably put it all back tonight or at least put the stuff that can hang high enough to stay out of the floor dudes’ way on Saturday.

While I was making dinner last night and Bruce was getting the tools and stuff ready for last night’s demo fun, the door bell rang twice. Since no one usually just drops by, even the neighbors text us first, we figured someone was selling something, which meant they were ignoring our No Soliciting sign. The Gs went insane and threw themselves against the front window when the person didn’t leave so Bruce had to investigate.

It turns out it was actually a woman from the neighborhood association (kind of like a homeowner’s association, but without the annoying rules and restrictions and set up mostly for social reasons to foster community in the neighborhood). She came by to tell us that….drum roll please….we won the Yard of the Month for May! What an amazingly nice surprise, especially since the inside of the house looks so terrible at the moment!

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The Mortroski Midcentury has the Yard of the Month for May and the sign to prove it — thank you NPNA and Calloway’s!

She’ll be back to take photos for our neighborhood e-newsletter today (light was not good for photos at 6:45 pm last night — too bright), but Bruce took a few this morning.

Here’s what it used to look like before we moved in (image is approximately 2.5 years ago, massively Photoshopped photo courtesy of the listing agent):

front of 10950 rosser road

Before (photo credit: seller’s real estate agent)

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After (photo credit: Bruce)

You can see we replaced the mailbox, front door (added side lights and windows, painted it red), added a new porch light, new windows, new water-restriction friendly landscaping, removed a bunch of grass, pulled out the crumbling brick “planters” and the hollies. A lot has happened since we moved in!

Unfortunately for our neighbors, all of the exterior changes were done over a period of about 6 months, maybe longer even longer (I’ll wait for Bruce to correct me and then update this post), so the front of the house really looked bad for a lot of that time. When it looked really bad, we joked that we would definitely win for the Worst Yard of the Month — I even thought about making a parody sign to acknowledge our eyesore sweet eyesore.

But now the house has become a landmark of sorts for the neighborhood. We’re “that house with the red pot in front” or “the house with the red door and the red chairs on the porch.” It’s great for delivery people and people visiting for the first time. Can’t miss us now!

In case you’re curious, here are a few photos of the plants:

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The landscaping is all native Texas perennials so stuff happens all year ’round. If you look carefully you’ll see a doggie in the window next to the flag (it’s George).

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Other side, more Texas perennials and that’s a striped agave in the red pot. A nod to the Great White North with the Muskoka chairs (aka Adirondack chairs) on the porch.

Bruce and I pulled down the crumbling brick “planters” (really not wide enough nor deep enough for mature holly bushes with trunks 10 inches in diameter so they were busting out through the sides) one hot spring day (my main job was hauling the brick to the backyard using my garden cart where eventually we loaded into a dumpster some months later—Guinness and Godiva liked the odds of furry creatures living in the brick ruins and were sad that the bricks went away). But first we had to cut down the hollies (not as easy or as fun as you might think) the summer before getting the windows installed. They grew back despite being cut to the ground. So we had to chop them up again before the planter demo. And heavy equipment eventually had to be used to pull them out (though not by us).

Once we realized that we were completely over our heads with figuring out the landscaping plan ourselves, we attended a session at North Haven Gardens on landscaping and meeting Berrit from Roundtree Landscaping last summer. We had planned to get a plan, then install everything by ourselves. Berrit listened to our desires to have a lower impact, native landscape while minimizing the amount of grass we had to water during the hot Texas summers and drew up a plan that’s a lot like what ended up being planted. She also gently suggested that we should leave the sprinkler moving and planting to the professionals (she was right). She was fantastic to work with and we’re so glad that we worked with her.

You can’t see it but in the enlarged planting beds, the Roundtree crew changed the sprinklers to drip irrigation and the sprinklers for the front grass to NP rotors, a type of sprinkler that gets more water into the ground verses spraying in the air. They planted small plants since they will just get bigger and spread as the years progress. Everything was planted in late August 2012, except for a bunch of daffodils which were planted in February 2013.

The trees are a lot happier too. They’re getting watered deeper and better so we hope they’ll stay out of our plumbing (a big problem down here) from now on.

It’s so nice to be recognized for the changes in the yard, but truthfully, we didn’t do it to get recognized, but to make our house look more inviting and more our style. Like everything we’ve done to the Mortroski Midcentury (with the exception of the big plumbing mess), we did it because we wanted to. We’re trying to bring back some style to the place. So far so good.

PS: Guinness and I are going to the vet at 4 pm as planned. He’s still not ok and I’ve been giving him rimadyl (anti-inflammatory that he has been prescribed for his back and neck issues caused by wrestling with George and chasing Godiva) for the pain. He’s eating and drinking, wagging his tail, etc., but tried to bite Bruce when Bruce was poking around in his mouth. There’s something that hurts and it needs to get looked at. Update tomorrow.

So: weeknight workout

No, silly, we’re not going back to the gym…yet. Tonight will be another exciting evening of brute strength and blunt force. And dual shop vac/Monster vacuuming action. Oh yes, more of the same fun we had yesterday pulling up smooth edge, tearing out trim, destroying ill-conceived “closet organizers” and “shoe holders” so that the flooring install can go swiftly and smoothly (and so the nice men are not installing the new floor on top of 47 years of dust and dirt).

Bruce and I went to Home Depot at lunch to get some supplies that we will probably need tomorrow night (I may put the bird net up over the tomatoes tonight, just as a fun break and chance to play in the garden for a few minutes). Or maybe if we’re ambitious we’ll get to the next step on our destruction tour de force tonight. Nothing like planning ahead and reducing the chance of excuses for why we can’t do something.

I also need to figure out where to put a bunch of my clothes since the dresser is in the garage at the moment. Nothing like piles of clean laundry on the sofa. Doesn’t it scream “adult homeowner”? Maybe I can scavenge some cinder block and a few boards and make a college style bookshelf. Or perhaps some nice trash bags could be pressed into action. Sigh. It will all be over on Sunday, May 5.

Surprisingly I am not all that sore from the weekend’s shenanigans. Bruce is but as he says, he’s been sore for weeks now. It may be a slight exaggeration but I doubt it. Last night while we were sitting on the patio enjoying a glass of wine after yesterday’s labor, Bruce said something that shocked me: “You know, I think after we get all of the projects that are currently underway done, we should probably take a break.” I almost fell over, but that might have been exhaustion or wine fumes getting the best of me. Maybe I can get back to sewing this summer!

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break from DIY talk: gratuitous George de-fluffing a toy photo since empty rooms are not that photogenic

Speaking of dogs, one of the Gs is visiting the vet tomorrow afternoon. Guinness seems to be having a mouth problem of some type. He’s eating and drinking pretty normally, but he is pawing at the right side of his mouth. His lower lip looks like he may have bit it (or perhaps someone else may have during a roughhousing session or fly catching expedition).

the patient

the patient prior to the mouth situation

Since we don’t know how old he is or his medical history before he moved in with us, we’re thinking that maybe he’s got a toothache. He’s not really letting us check it out much. Don’t worry, he’s always good at the vet and will be sweet to the vet and the vet tech(s) because he knows they’re going to help him. He’s no stranger to clinics after all. And since of course, I’ve done a bit of web research I’m going to take his temperature and see if he’s running a fever (could be an infection then). His vet is pretty awesome but she was only available tomorrow afternoon since Mondays are the busiest vet days (they close at noon on Saturday until Monday morning). Poor big boy. Maybe we’ll just give him wet food tonight and give his mouth a break. I’ll let you know what the vet says.

Must get to work. If you hear loud sounds in our neighborhood after 7 pm, just close your windows.

 

sow: obscene harvest

obscene! yes, that is our kitchen table groaning under the weight of the bounty

obscene! yes, that is our kitchen table groaning under the weight of the bounty

Don’t worry, friends. That craziness will feed 3 other families this week in addition to Bruce and me. It was a productive two weeks for spinach, chard, mixed salad greens, cilantro, mint, parsley, oregano, red velvet lettuce, candy cane beets (the very first ones!) and bok choi. And it felt awesome to pick everything, feel the sun on my back (hello, farmers’ tan!) and do a little weeding this morning. It’s an exciting time on the Urban Farm — English peas are podding, snow peas are flowering, okra plants are sprouting, salad greens are weed-like, tomato plants are getting huge, peppers are starting to flower, beets/carrots/radishes are all forming, herbs are going insane. So much is going on. The Urban Farm is looking very pretty and there’s lots of deliciousness about to happen. Ah, the relaxation.

As you surmised from yesterday, it’s not been a restful or relaxing weekend around here. Dumps, IKEA, moving furniture, getting rid of stuff, etc, etc, etc. And there will be no rest this week. Destroy! Rip out! Sort! Give away! Donate! Put away! Spring cleaning on steroids. Or as I like to think of it an extended Date Night. At least there’s wine every night as a reward for so much physical labor.

Officially, today we became carpet-free home. All of the beige big box store lowest possible grade carpet is gone. It was an excellent magnet for black lab and yellow lab/golden retriever hair and dander. My allergies (nose and eyes) are going insane with the amount of 47 years of dirt, dust, dog hair and dander that I sucked up with the shop vac and the Dyson Monster. But after a shower and a little down time, I’m feeling better. Still I’m having Zyrtec with a Benedryl chaser tonight before bed. That and all the carrying, hammering, prying, cursing, and working will ensure a sound night’s sleep.

The trim around doors and floors in some of the rooms and hall is also gone. It is a bit unattractive around here and most of our furniture is either in the garage, the living/dining room, or back in the office (office furniture only). We still have a lot of work to do on the office, but we need somewhere clean where we can sit and rest after all of our work. In our bedroom, we put down blankets before we dropped our mattress on the bare floor. And we put some blankets under the dog beds too. We are wearing flip flops inside the house at the moment, despite the double vacuuming efforts. The Gs don’t seem to mind the bare concrete.

However, the Gs are a little unsure of what’s going on. George is slowly but surely getting over his phobia of loud sounds, power tools, the shop vac, and swearing. Godiva and Guinness are happy that we’re leaving all of the back doors open and they can come and go out for a squirrel hunt/bark/pee as they please.  There was lots of snoozing in the sun by those lazy hounds punctuated by squirrel chasing and a little visiting with our friend Camille. Despite the inside the house chaos, the Gs had an awesome weekend outside. Good thing since they’ll have another next weekend.

No sense of getting ahead of ourselves: this week will be busy. We have several rooms and closets yet to prep (aka things to destroy and remove) for Saturday’s bamboo-ing. We need to pour a bit of concrete in the lounge to level the floors where the wet bar and the tv cabinet used to be. We need to assemble the new cabinets on the tv side and get them in place for the bamboo dudes. And there’s a trip to IKEA in order on Thursday night.

We’re going to need our pal Jim the Master Plumber to come and remove/cap the wet bar sink and our other pal David the Master Electrician to move the plug. We’re not keeping the bar wet since in the nearly two years we’ve lived here we’ve never used the sink. But we’ll be adding a beverage fridge eventually so we need to make sure the electrical is ok. David loves what we’re doing with the place—he enjoys being part of the process and likes seeing the progress. Maybe that’s because he’s our age and wishes he had the energy and stamina to make his wife happy with the kind of improvements we’re doing. Seventy-one year old Jim is amused by our renos—the Urban Farm allowed him to share his dating exploits with Bruce (never with me, he’s too Southern). Apparently in East Texas if you are a single man of a certain age, the garden clubs are the best places to meet oil money widows. Rush out there everyone!

Well, George is snoring (loudly) and it’s time for bed. Hope you all had as excellent of a weekend as we did. (Yes. I know we’re crazy.)

 

 

So: spring cleaning

Tonight I came home to the cabinets in the lounge partially ripped out, all of the stuff in the cabinets packed up, and lots of loud noises. Time to help demo and then clean up the mess!

George wasn’t very happy. He’s the only G still getting used to high pitched wail of power tools. He hid behind me and carried a toy around for a while. He’s ok now (passed out on the sofa next to Bruce).

The other two could care less. Godiva has heard power tools from pretty much day 1 as a 8 week old pup. Guinness doesn’t love the sounds but he realizes it will stop after about 6 hours. Besides, he’s trying to set a good example for George.

Thanks to two unexpected windfalls, a flooring sale, bulk trash pick up, and an excellent installer looking to build his new business, we have the perfect storm to complete our flooring plan much faster than originally planned. We were planning to do a few rooms at a time–not any more.

So between now and May 4 we must demo, pack, move furniture, purge and plan. And even previously made plans need to get changed. It certainly takes spring cleaning to a whole new level.

The before of the cabinet with the floor demo–notice the bricks (new cabinet and bamboo coming soon!):

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So: floored

making progress

making progress

After waking up this morning and actually being able to move fine, although a little stiffly, I knew today would mean more progress in our office reno. The carpet’s been gone about a month so today we installed the carbonized bamboo. Last weekend Bruce ripped down the paneling after we both realized that if we didn’t take it down, we’d want to later. Only going to do this room once!

Bruce the installer

Bruce the installer with Godiva photo bomb

Bruce used to install flooring with his cousin Joe when he was in high school and university so this is not a new DIY thing for us. For example, we installed bamboo in our master bedroom in our last house and I swear we’ve tiled at least 4 bathrooms together.

Bamboo just takes time, effort, knowledge, and a very colorful vocabulary of profanity available on demand (like when boards fall on your hand, you rub off one of the blisters gained during sodding, you get a big bamboo splinter wedged in your right middle finger, you make a whole pile of glue squirt up between the boards, etc.).

another view of progress

another view of progress: the lonely computer

All in it took us 6 hours to carry large boxes of boards (about 50 lbs. a pop), carry huge vats of glue, cut boards, apply glue, hook the boards together (they’re tongue and groove so they snap together), swear, wipe off glue, swear, bang boards together, find tools, cut more boards, cut trim so the boards fit under it, etc. I’m sure there’s more to talk about, but after waking up tired from sodding this morning, you’d better believe that I’m exhausted now.

And surprised once again, that I actually can type. No promises tomorrow though. After two days in a row of hard physical  labor, I’m a bit of a mess. My arms are scratched from carrying boards. My wrists are sore. Even my fingers are tired. But I did not break a single nail (shocker!). That is only important since I am traveling next week — to see clients, go to a conference, attend an awards dinner, and to see my pal/sorority sister Laura (she writes Ps, Qs, and Ws). I thought it would be nice to have pretty nails for a change especially since I’ll be dressing a bit up for the awards dinner.

the finished product

the finished product

But it was worth it today, wasn’t it? The floor looks beautiful, doesn’t it? But I know it’s hard to get past the walls and the unstained desk and cabinet, not to mention the lack of furniture.

So next up: sanding and staining the desk and cabinets, painting the walls, adding another shelf above the computer. We are hoping to do some of this tomorrow, but it will depend on Bruce’s knees, our overall soreness, and how late the Gs let us sleep in.