Thursday, June 30, 2011

I win.

We were driving to Home Depot to get a replacement blade for the lawnmower and I mentioned that I wanted to get one of those wine barrel planters. Greg was like, "Let's get it next time."

"We'll get it next time."
"I'm getting it."
"Just get it next time."
"Do you know me at all? Now I'm getting two."
"It's not going to fit in your Honda. Let's just come back with the truck."

Anything can be a competition if you try hard enough!

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

A hail mary from the mystery willow!

I decided the mystery willow is gone. The neighbors behind it moved down the street and rented out the house to their nephews who smoke constantly, play loud bad music, and generally make me feel 80 years old, and why can't they just keep it down so I can putter in my yard, for pete's sake?

So I want to chop it down and plant something fast growing, evergreen, and DENSE. I succumbed to the Backyard Habitat rep's suggestion of a California wax myrtle. It grows really fast, it's evergreen, and it forms a nice privacy hedge.

But the mystery willow said a hail mary! It produced fruit.

The mystery willow is a pear tree! Goddamn it.

I'm still going to chop it down. My inner 80 year old demands it.

Candy apple red, baby

The lawnmower I bought for $10 off of craigslist fell down and went boom. Or Greg ran over the sewer clean-out with it and bent the shaft. So we searched Consumer Reports and got this beauty. It's so red and shiny! I love.

It belched white smoke when we started it, so badly that we ran and got the fire extinguisher, just in case. It stopped after a couple of minutes, so I guess it was just being dramatic. For its next trick doves will fly out of the bag catch!

Monday, June 27, 2011

Let's move rock!

There's been no movement on the doug fir saga. My next door neighbor E asked (through another neighbor) if we could hold off on meeting. It's starting to sound like E is having signs of diminishing mental faculties. A landscaper was hired to clear the shared area under our roses and he told me she said I was "trying to take over her yard."

The neighbor who is trying to help us figure this out says that E is paranoid and convinced I reported her, and there's no reasoning with her. I'm still hoping we'll have a sit-down, but I'm not convinced it will change anything. I'm trying to just let it go, since I never did anything in the first place, and you can't rationalize with dementia.

The city forester called me back and said that she can't see anything on file and she doesn't know of any way that someone could force the removal of a healthy tree. The forester said the only thing she could speculate would be a letter from a neighbor, for insurance purposes. Apparently, if someone was concerned about the tree, they could send a certified letter to the owner and state that they are concerned about the tree. Then, if the tree fell down on their house, the neighbor who owned the tree would have to pay for repairs.

So maybe someone sent her a letter? Or maybe they didn't? I may never know because she won't talk to me directly. *Sigh*

Instead of thinking about this I've been working on the backyard. I decided I wanted to continue the retaining stones around the area where the cement slab had been.

The cedar bark wasn't staying where it should.

Et voila!

And now I would like to never haul cement or stone or rock ever again.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

A quick update on the tree situation

My neighbor from around the corner called me today and told me that my next door neighbor E (the 83 year old with the doug fir in her yard) received the letter and flowers I left her . . .

. . . but she doesn't believe that I was not the one who reported the douglas fir to the city.

Photo yanked from here.

We are going to have a sit-down, just the three of us, sometime this week to clear the air. I wish E would just sit down with me, since this third neighbor has absolutely nothing to do with anything, but I'll take what I can get. In the meantime I called the city forester to find out if they can really require someone to remove a healthy tree from their backyard. The woman I spoke with declared herself "a bleeding heart arborist" (Portland, I LOVE YOU) and said she'd look into the veracity of any complaints on the property.

Y'all keep your fingers crossed that I can convince E that I have logged no complaints to the city, nor do I have any complaints about her or her yard, forever and ever amen.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

I feel sick

Remember the other day when I said I loved the trees in my neighbor's yard? I came home two days later to find that she had paid someone to cut the trees branches along our property line. I thought that was strange and made a mental note to tell her that we love the way her douglas fir pokes into our yard and she doesn't need to worry about that kind of thing with us.

I came home from work yesterday and Greg had put down sod where the dog bone had been! I was so happy! Everything was good.

Then everything was bad.

Greg went out in the front yard, called for me, then introduced me to a neighbor from around the corner. She was helping my next-door neighbor, who didn't want to talk to me because we had served her with papers demanding she cut down her doug fir.

Wait, what?

I'm not clear on all the details but my neighbor, who is in her seventies, had been served with papers stating that the tree is a nuisance (I'm guessing here, I haven't seen the papers) and it needs to be removed. She assumed that it was us, I guess because I had asked a while back what kind of tree it was. I'm devastated that someone is coming after her like that and that she could possibly think it was us. She has been a warm, patient, and wonderful neighbor. She's been awesome about how generally shitty my front yard looks all the time, and how neglectful I've been of the roses. I adore her.

I also adore the tree. It is healthy and beautiful and it's all on her property (with the exception of a few branches that poke into our yard THAT WE LIKE). We have a number of much larger, older trees in the neighborhood, on our block even, so I'm not sure why hers is a problem. I left a letter for my neighbor last night, along with some flowers. I explained that we didn't report her, that we love the tree, and that we'll fight to keep the tree for her, should she lack the energy. I'm hoping she'll believe me and that she'll let me see the papers from the city (or county?) so we can see why this is happening.

Anybody have any ideas for plans of action? I contacted a friend who works for the city to see if they can dig into who reported her, or why. I'm going to contact the mayor's office and the city forester. I could nominate it as a Heritage Tree, but she may have it removed before August 31, when they process nominations.

I'm also concerned that someone will report our hemlock (or whatever that huge tree in my yard is) or any of the FOUR trees we are planning on adding to our backyard. I'll never understand why people don't just talk to each other, instead of calling in the city, or law enforcement, or lawyers. They're going to have to use a crane to remove the tree and I'd guess (based on people I know who have done this) that it will cost her $3000-5000 to have it removed. Did I mention she's in her eighties? I'm sure her social security check will cover that.

Did I also mention her deceased husband planted the tree? It was a gift from the forest service, for whom he worked as a writer. It was a six inch seedling when they planted it. There is so much suckage in this I can hardly comprehend it.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Any excuse to buy more plants

I had a job interview last week and I was really nervous about it. I made a promise that I would treat myself to a tomato shopping spree at Garden Fever after it was over.

I need to give myself presents for doing things that normal people do all the time, without a lollipop. Because I am a big baby.

I was on my way to Garden Fever when I remembered that I had scheduled a bang trim with my hairdresser; I had to haul ass to the other side of town to get there. Where I waited 45 minutes. I was so hungry and frustrated and traffic was so terrible I knew I'd never get over there before they closed. I consoled myself by taking a trip to the Isle of Misfit Plants at Fred Meyer. Seriously, the plants were SO picked over and sad looking.

I picked up some coleus to give this area under the hemlock (?) a punch of color.

I'm going to try and divide them so I can spread them out a little. I think I'm a little mortified that I spent $20 on annuals. Annuals don't come back! When I finally got over to Garden Fever to buy my tomato starts I picked up some meadow rue. I didn't put it in the ground right away and it promptly wilted. Damn.

At least I got the job!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

It's my house-iversary!

On June 6, 2009 I had my reveal and the house became mine. In honor of my second house-iversary let's take a walk down memory lane!

Filming My First Place

My bathroom used to look like this.

Now it looks like this.

My kitchen looked like this.

Now it looks like this.

The yard before:

The yard after:

The yard is still very much in process


The site of the old patio slab.
Part of this process was removing 10,000 lbs of concrete.

The basement looked like this.

Now it looks like this:

The living room looked like this:

And it looked like this after the reveal:

And now it looks like this:

We removed the old furnace . . .

. . . and replaced it with an energy efficient one.

My friend David and I (but mostly David) removed the ELEVEN arbor vitae in the front yard.

By hand.

And I planted two Japanese bloodgood maples.

The dining room looked like this:

Now it looks like this.

I put in a new back fence, and I'm planning to put in a new side fence this summer. I painted every room in the house and have two hallways to go before I can say that I painted every paintable surface in the house. I had a lot of plumbing adventures, including putting in a new garbage disposal, changing the wax ring on the toilet, and clogging and then unclogging my basement sink.

And I got a new roommate. He's nice. Did I mention he mows the lawn for me? It rocks.

Illustration by Nan Lawson

The classic second anniversary gift is cotton. Perhaps I'll finally buy my house some curtains for the living and dining rooms.