Monday, September 14, 2009

The Wonders of Craig's List

I really am grateful that my front yard came pre-landscaped. It's clear to me that someone, some where along the way put forth a great deal of time and effort to plant shrubs and trees. I do think, however, that perhaps they mis-judged how large some of the shrubs would grow to be; that is easy to do and I have done it just with plants in my past herb gardens. But I really love the architecture of the front of my house, and felt that some of the shrubs were obscuring it. The landscape designer I hired first pointed that out to me, and I have to say I agreed with him.

We discussed re-locating shrubs; saving them by digging them up and re-planting them elsewhere. But that proved to be cost prohibitive, and at least a few of them I had decided were always going to be too large, regardless of where I put them.

I didn't want to just dig them up and kick them to the curb, so over Memorial Day weekend I put an ad up on Craig's List saying that I had free shrubs -- all you had to do was come and dig them up. I got three interested parties, and while I didn't actually meet the guy who ultimately come and dug them up, he must have had quite the technique.

I put ribbons on 10 shrubs, designating them as up for grabs. (The ribbon I grabbed out of my closet happened to be yellow -- my yard looked like I was waiting for family member to return from war...) On the Tuesday he was to arrive, I was at work, but I knew one of my neighbors was home, so I asked her to shoot me an email if she noticed a man with a shovel show up in my front yard, just so I knew what to expect.

About 1:15 she emailed: "Man in white SUV in your driveway, putting the seats down. It looks like he'll be there a while!" The poor guy -- it was a hot day, he was alone, facing the task of digging up a lot of well established shrubs. I hoped he had brought water.

I headed home from work about an hour after that. I fully expected to arrive at home to a man digging in my yard. But no! He, as well as all ten shrubs were gone! I was stunned. It really looked like the shrub version of The Body Snatchers had been there -- all that remained was slight indentations in the earth where each shrub was.

It was quite the front yard transformation! I haven't planted anything there yet, but I plan to put my butterfly garden there. I already have a lot of hummingbirds who regularly visit the blossoms on my Turk's Cap that blooms next to the Pecan Tree.

You can also see in the "before" and "after" photos that the straggly tree that was in front of the porch is gone; I cut that down a few weeks ago. Again, I looked into relocating it, but it was several thousands of dollars to do that. I apologized to the tree profusely as I sawed it down! I felt badly, but it really had to go.

A Bit of Adventure in the Rain

We've been having quite a lot of rain here in Dallas the last few days -- glorious! We really need it. Despite not having gutters on my house yet, I was able to strategically place my two rain barrels to catch rain run off from the roof. One on my front porch, and one along my driveway. I had low expections for water collection -- I thought I'd collect maybe 4-6 inches in each barrel. HA! Boy was I ever wrong! In just one day, both barrels were over flowing! I now have 100 GALLONS of rain water stored for watering my plants. I'm giddy. (My postman may not be quite as giddy... he has to do a bit of fancy footwork to navigate around the rain barrel to get to my mail box -- and thanks to I now know that 50 gallons of water weighs 417 pounds. No wonder I couldn't move the barrels when they filled up!)

What I am not so giddy about, however, is what happened to my 80+ year old pecan tree in my front yard. It's huge -- and laden with pecans (do you say "peh-CON" or "PEE can"? I often say "PEE can" just to make people twitch...) and apparently the combined weight of pecans and rain was too much for two particular branches. I don't know when exactly on Sunday that it came crashing down (or was it a slow arch and collapse?) but it was definitely a precarious situation in my front yard. The first branch came down when Tom gave it a good yank; the second one required a bit of manuevering.

Ladders, chain saws, ropes and friends ensued, and the end result is a heap of brush at my curb, and a half-full firewood rack. (I love my orange wheelbarrow!)When it cures by this time next year, I will have great firewood to use! I have lost a bit of shade, but I also now have gained a much larger sunny area in my yard for my upcoming butterfly garden -- but I have lost a really great branch that I had intended to hang Halloween decor from! Alas, I will need to develop a Plan B for that. And I probably need to call a professional tree trimmer to see if I need any further preventative maintenance... Hey! Another trade to call! (See previous post about trades that I haven't yet needed...)

Toxic Microwave - Be Gone!

Remember when microwaves first came out and how monstrously huge they were? I had one of the original, circa 70's dinosaurs in my kitchen... and someone along the way had helpfully DRILLED A HOLE IN THE DOOR and added a cabinet pull for easy opening. Um, yeah. Probably not such a good idea. I am pleased to have it removed now -- my kitchen looks and feels so much better! It took 3 of us to hoist it up and off of the wall brackets -- it was so heavy! And I won't even discuss the vent on the bottom of the microwave and what it catches in 30+ years... Ay yi yi.

Once the beast was out, Tom and I spiffed up the remaining empty space. I put up some faux tin squares to cover up the very old blue and used-to-be-white wallpaper. We cut, stained and poly'd some 1"x12"s... and let's just say the cabinets aren't exactly square... (we found that out the hard way! ) Then added some quarter round to cover the unavoidable gaps from the not square cabinets, and affixed a light.
I realized after the fact that I "lost" my clock and my cook top light in the process. I found a stainless steel light that I mounted up top that works fine. I do probably need a clock; right now I am using my kitchen timer clock which isn't super convenient but do you really need to know what time it is in the kitchen unless you are entertaining? I can tell you this: My dog knows when it is 7 a.m. and 6 p.m. -- her feeding times -- and she lets me know. According to her, none of those hours in between matter.
I don't think I will be replacing the microwave... we'll see if I really miss one or not. My beloved toaster oven has stepped up to the plate quite nicely so far -- oh! And this cute little tiny kettle I bought for melting REAL BUTTER on the stove for my air popped popcorn. (My friend Beth will remember a similar one we used to use at her mother's house... with the ceramic bowl large enough to bathe a baby in, and very late night TV.... Ahhh fun times.)