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.

I'm not as strong as I think

The front yard has been looking particularly bad lately. The house needs to be painted and the landscaping is non-existent. If we neglect to mow the lawn our house goes from looking rundown to looking abandoned.

To wit:

The grass has spread under the rhododendrons and has sprawled well past its edges on the sidewalk and driveway. Greg was away on a crazy business trip all last week, jet-setting to amazingly humid locales like Atlanta. He came home and I was like, "I missed you so much! Let's spend some quality time weeding!"

I am the worst girlfriend.

We got the area under the rhodies cleared and discovered there are bricks outlining that area! I wanted to mulch the area under the rhodies but was worried about using a wood product and possibly encouraging termites. I asked the two instructors at my Naturescaping class and they assured me that mulching with bark or bark dust would not cause termites. Now I know where to send the Terminix bill if they are wrong.

While we were clearing out the area Greg started whacking a rhododendron stump. There were, at some point, FOUR rhodies and one azalea in this area. The stump popped right out with a few whacks.

Greg: "Well that was easy."
Heather: "Nice job! Now go remove that one."
Greg: "Where? I don't see another stump."
Heather: "Right there. And there."
Greg: "You mean the live rhododendrons?"
Heather: "Yes. Just go whack them until they fall down."
Greg: "That won't work."
Heather: "Yes it will. Just try."
Heather: "Please?"

I was convinced (convinced!) that it wouldn't be that hard to pull the live stumps out so the next day I cut down one of the rhodies and started working at the stump. Mothercusser wouldn't move. Greg came out and nicely didn't gloat. I was hoping to trick him into picking up the pickaxe but he wouldn't go for it.

Whatever, I don't care. I'm glad this thing is no longer blocking all the light into our dining room. LEAVING THE STUMP WAS PART OF MY PLAN.

Instead I weeded the parking strip, spread a nice layer of compost on it, then mulched it. Again. I have weeded and mulched that strip so many times. My coastal strawberries are finally taking off but my kinnikinnick is just sitting there, not forming a nice ground cover.

It doesn't help that I never amended the soil after I removed the arbor vitae. This fall I plan to have a couple of yards of compost delivered so I can spread it on all the beds. I always thought compost only helped if worked into the soil. It turns out that if you leave it on top, the worms will come up through the soil, grab it, and bring it lower. Working it in initially would be better, but laying it on top will eventually improve the soil structure. It will also work as a mulch during the cold winter months.

I plan to build compost bins this summer so I can start making my own soil amendments. And a new fence. And a deck. We're gonna be busy.

Monday, June 13, 2011

A borrowed view

The entrance into the side yard is so much prettier because of my neighbor's trees. I love borrowed landscaping.

Just ignore the trashcans.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Insert Rep. Weiner joke here.

My freakshow bulb is HUGONGOUS. Ginormous. Really really big.

I want to plant a thousand of these.


Just a quick note to say that I've changed over to a non-blogspot URL so you can point your browsers to

The more succinct "" was already taken. Boo!

I made some changes, including adding a blogroll with my favorite bloggers ---->

If anything doesn't work, or if you have any suggestions you can email me at Heather [at]

Looks who's all grown up.

For the thirty or so of you who regularly read my stories about my house: thank you. Your comments and encouragement mean so much to me.