Wednesday, July 26, 2017
So, Richard and I both have some hobbies that require lots of stuff...mine is sewing/quilting and he is digitizing all of our slides, negatives, and photos of our years of travel with some specialized equipment. He's creating albums on the computer, on thumb drives, and in print. Our living room looks like a fabric and photo shop blew up.
So, we got this wild idea...why not enclose part of our barely used, roofed back deck and make a bonus room to do our hobbies in, and reclaim our living room as a pretty place that accommodates guests again?
And of course, in our infinite wisdom, we decided to do this just before the family arrived for our mini-reunion (which means only 16 people came this time). We finished it the DAY before everyone arrived - delayed by rain, and by Richard developing a neck spasm that took him out for a few days.
We brought the roof and the room all the way to the outside kitchen wall and decided NOT to remove the siding, but instead, paint it. We did a light green with a contrast trim of darker green.
The floor is OSB. Our contractor suggested using Bondo Glas in the cracks, so we caulked first and he put the Bondo in - it turned a dark, olive green. He sanded everything down and we polyurethaned it all. It looks pretty cool, although you really can't see it in the photos.
We moved our 12 foot sofa table out to the place under the kitchen windows. The windows act as a pass through and we keep them open so we can talk to anyone inside the house. I re-covered the seat of the chair with the serape on it, in a cotton serape fabric. My computer set-up is on the left. A coffee bar is on the right side. The oil lantern above the coffee bar is for power outages.
A closeup of the coffee bar. The stack of mugs is from World Market, I got them at a yard sale. The bigger mug rack also came from a yard sale. The oil lantern came from the Amish store, and the cast iron holder it is in came from a yard sale!
This is the view from the door. Richard chose the star rugs, so I followed a Western star theme in the whole room. The beam divides the room a little, and makes it feel more spacious. The windows on the right of the kitchen windows are made into a box, so there is room to put some potted herbs on the sill to catch the eastern sun. These windows have faux wood blinds, I've not decided what kind of valance I want to make.
There are two outer doors - one from the deck to the room, the other is pictured and goes out onto the landing of the stairs to the back yard. If we ever have to split the room up, each section will have it's own door. The horseshoes on the wall were found by my Dad when he hiked the area when he first got here. Some were dug up on his property. There's a mule shoe, a draft horse shoe, and 2 regular horse shoes. The valances and the pillowcover are made from the same serape fabric as the chair in the other photo. Faux wood blinds are hidden behind the valances, so we can close the windows in the evening.
This is the main room that is under the original covered deck. The walls and ceiling are clad in non-uniform cedar planks. Our contractor planed and cut each plank, leaving knotholes and flaws in some of the wood for a rustic feel. The wall hanging is a woven scene I bought at the San Antonio, Texas mercado several years ago. The pottery on the shelf above the couches is Native American - from Mexico, some Navajo, some Hopi, and I think, a Zuni piece. The lamp is a little Waterford crystal light I picked up in the Navy Exchange in the Philippines many years ago.
The picture frames a Bedouin bride necklace of lapis lazuli and silver, something Richard picked up in Saudi Arabia.
Later, when he has time, Richard plans to build a corner desk to go on the wall with the weaving scene. We'll move one of the couches to that wall. The couches unfold into twin-sized beds, a bonus when family was here. We also put 2 cots and a toddler bed in this room when the family was here. 5 girls loved having a private space of their own while visiting.
As a final touch, Dave Geisert, https://www.facebook.com/davegeisertconstrustionartistryinwood/
our contractor, also turns wood, blending two or more types of wood together and making one-of-a-kind urns, vases, and bowls. The pieces are gorgeous works of art, and we are privileged to have one of his vases on display in our little cabin room.
Tuesday, May 30, 2017
I'm testing a new camera today so the pictures aren't as clear as usual while I get used to using the zoom lens. Sammy and Buddy wouldn't hardly be still enough for me to get good shots! As we walked back from the bridge today, a herd of deer appeared in Sammy's yard. The does have been scarce lately, they've been having their babies and laying low. I got one good photo. I also got plenty of photos of the birds at the feeders at Mom's and Pa's back porch.
Sammy and Buddy share a moment at the bridge.
As we turned up the road to Sammy's house, the deer wandered across her yard.
The turkeys are back.
The cardinal took over the South Pole feeder while a turkey wandered across the meadow.
This little hummer fluttered so fast, the camera couldn't capture her wings!
This little guy is the male of the species - a ruby-throated hummingbird.
The red-wing blackbird was shaking his feathers, I had the camera propped on the rail.
This is a woodpecker...I think it's a hairy woodpecker? Or pileated. I get them confused.
The wild daisies growing by Mom's and Pa's driveway.
A couple deer wandered right across our front lawn and I was able to snap a couple quick pictures.
A closer photo of the second deer. Not sure if that's a shadow of the trees on her belly or if she's losing her winter coat.
Saturday, May 27, 2017
The early morning walks have been chilly the past few days. Yesterday was a little warmer and as we walked dew touched everything. Today we had a hail storm! Hail the size of a half dollar rained down for about five minutes. The vehicles got a good cleaning and the Honda has some dents in the roof and the hood.
A spiderweb draped in dew.
This armadillo made little huffing noises as the dogs tried to nose in and see what it was up to. Not sure if it was warning them off or was afraid. We keep them on the leash, so were able to amble on our way once we let them have a quick, curious sniff.
Two deer bounded out of the field on the right, and this deer stopped and danced a little in the road as she spotted us. Sammy alerted, but Buddy was too far behind. I cropped the photo to bring her in closer, we were actually a good football-field length away. Once her curiosity was satisfied, she bounded into the woods on the left and disappeared.
Every morning, after we drop Sammy off at her home, we meander down the road with Buddy to porch sit with Mom and Pa. Buddy gets a drink of water and a piece of cheese from Pa, and we watch the wildlife feed at the benches and the bird feeders that Mom and Pa have out. Today, these two turkey hens were in charge of the corn bench.
When we work outside, we generally let Buddy run around the yard for a bit. We have to keep an eye on him as he loves to run off to splash in the creek. Usually he finds a good spot in the yard and settles in. Occasionally, he likes a good roll in the grass. :)
The white bits on the ground are not rocks, they are hail. The translucent orbs are water droplets and the white orbs are hail coming down. It was hailing so hard the hail was bouncing six steps up on the covered porch. I was afraid the sun roof on the car would be broken, but it survived intact. The wind whipped leaves all over the yard, so we have a bit of a mess to clean up in the next few days.
Dinah the black cat was under the porch and got scared from the pounding hail, so she took off running to hide under the car...and when that got hammered, she took off for the back deck, trying to find a place to hide. I called to her, but she was so frightened she couldn't figure out what to do. When the hail stopped, she streaked inside and hid behind my pillow on our bed.
Wednesday, May 24, 2017
On May 20th, I took this picture of the phoebes in the rafters, and discovered not four, but five of the little birds! The next day, I went out to capture more photos, expecting them to be exploring a little and perhaps catching them in the act of learning to fly. They were gone. The nest was empty. This was the last shot, before they left the nest for good.
Five little phoebes.
The off and on again rain has made for some pretty cloud cover. Sometimes we only have a little, other times fluffy puffs float across the sky. Sunrise as we head to the bridge.
A puffy cloud is outlined by the sun.
A closer shot of the puffy cloud.
Buddy surveys the kingdom while Sammy gets a back scratch from Richard.
This little guy tucked in as soon as the dogs got curious!
Porch sitting at Mom's and Pa's. The little yellow finches are dominating the South Pole feeder.
Went to The Cook Shack (https://www.facebook.com/TheCookShack/) for dinner and a Luna moth had parked on the window screen all day. Thanks to proprietor, Pam, for taking the picture for me!
We had to run an errand in a nearby town and took the scenic route home. The cows in the pasture and the clouds in the sky made for a pastoral scene.
This old barn holds the timbers of its former glory, faded with time.
The peach tree is fruiting out and is growing tall, too.
The raised beds - left is the potatoes and right is the lettuce, radishes and green beans. We hope to enclose the entire garden area, including the fruit trees and bushes, in a covered cage to keep the wild critters from eating our food!
First harvest of the strawberries. There was only one, the others are still ripening.
Saturday, May 20, 2017
We had a few days of almost cloudless weather, and then the spring showers came along. It's been really good for the garden, not so good for the morning walks.
The weather is capricious, this clear sky is what we saw as we went around the bend.
The cool of the night causes a light fog, and the warm mornings burn it off. About ten minutes after I took this picture, the low-lying fog was gone.
On the way home, this rabbit stood and watched us for a few minutes. He was about ten feet away from us, and although both dogs were showing interest, the bunny didn't move for a bit, and then he casually hopped off, unafraid of the dogs.
Buddy sulks when it's cloudy and rainy, he doesn't get to go for a walk, and often, he doesn't want to go outside if it is thundering and/or if there's lightning.
Of course, Christian loves it when we stay inside because of the storms, he gets to lollygag all over my desk, occasionally stirring to climb in my lap for a cuddle.
The phoebe chicklets are growing fast, here's all four of them (one is only showing tail feathers).
Richard is still archiving old photos (both hard copy and on digital media). He came across this one. This was taken in 1989. I think it's our last Change Of Command ceremony while in Guam, Richard is wearing his sword because he was the Officer In Charge for the ceremony. The tradition dates back to the old days, when a party of officers was attacked at a gathering, and none had weapons. It was then decreed that the OIC would always have a weapon...hence, the sword.
Monday, May 15, 2017
Every year, a little bird called a phoebe makes a nest up in the eaves of the covered part of the deck. When she is there, we cannot use the deck for two reasons - she gets agitated if we appear in what she considers her space, and...she poops all over the deck as she goes back and forth feeding her babies! We only have to wait a few weeks after the chicks are born to get the use of our deck back for a time...and then she builds another nest later in the year, and starts over with more kids!
Looks as if there are 4 kids this year - I think the middle head is mama.
It's 83 degrees out there today, I suspect the little ones are getting overheated. For the past few years when it's been hot I go out there with the ladder and a spray bottle of water and soak the babies, the nest, and even the wood above them so they don't die of heat stroke. They look like fledglings, I expect they'll be flying off in the next week or so.
I'm trying to outsmart the deer and other wildlife this year. I did it once before with a few pots, but this time, I've expanded my deck garden. Orange tree, lemon tree, tomatilloes, 3 kinds of tomatoes, 2 kinds of squash, cucumbers, bell peppers, jalepeno peppers, poblano peppers, strawberries up on the top rail, and 2 watermelon plants. FYI - I grew the lemon tree from the seeds of a lemon I bought at the store two years ago. It's now about 10 inches high.
This is the herb garden. It grew like mad and I had to give all the herbs a haircut today. From left to right, cilantro, basil, parsley, and oregano.
I read online that one can preserve both the flavor and freshness of herbs by putting the leaves in olive oil, and then storing them in the fridge. I found some little jars and did just that. Excuse the hillbilly redneck duct tape label, I couldn't find my nice labels.
Saturday, May 13, 2017
Usually, when we leave the homestead, the sun isn't visible. It's sunrise, but we can't see it due to the high horizon and trees. But occasionally, we leave a little late, and then we can see it.
Sunrise over our trees and driveway.
Going around the bend and down the hill, the sun disappears again, but leaves a coral glow in the clouds.
Sammy is so joyful about being out, that she and I run ahead of Richard and Buddy. But every few feet, she stops suddenly, and makes sure that they are still behind us.
Every year the swallows nest in the crevices under the bridge. When we approach, they start flying about, trying to chase us away. It's hard to tell in the photo, but there's a cloud of black spots in the air in front of the trees, and one swallow to the left, between the rail and the cement barrier.
Pa has left a portion of his yard wild, a small patch we call the jungle. It is home to a host of birds, bunnies, and probably other wildlife. There were two bunnies, but one ran off. This one stood still as a statue for several long minutes. When my camera flashed, it took off.
Several turkeys nest just behind the parents' property. Pa puts out corn for them daily. This young hen came up by herself yesterday. They usually come in groups.
As we walk down my parents' private road, the scent of roses fills the air. These are wild multi-flora roses, they do not have the big, tight buds or numerous petals of modern roses. The scent is richer, with a slight cinnamon overtone, that accompanies us all the way home.
We know Spring is here when the robins arrive. Usually, they are fat from winter feeding. As they take to nesting, the birds tend to slim down a bit, from all the work of building a nest and raising their young. This robin was hopping about the yard yesterday.
We always have butterflies, and though I've seen quite a few, they've not been settling down so I can get pictures! However, this Red-Spotted Admiral finally allowed me to get a photo before it flew off.
A late-blooming iris. Just FYI - we planted only light lavender irises. I'm not sure what causes them to change color, but everyone up and down the road now has some white and deep purple irises, too.
A walk about the property revealed that the lilacs I planted to honor the memory of Richard's mother, Alma, are finally blooming. One of them struggled for a couple years, but both are now doing well.
The potato bed is thriving. Yes, we know the bricks need to be re-pointed...all in due time!
The peach tree is thriving, we were worried about the late frost killing the blooms, but we covered it with blankets (and damaged quite a few blooms), and somehow, most of them have turned into peaches! Still have to figure out how to keep the wildlife from eating them before we can harvest!