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Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Beantown and Pot(s)

Yesterday we made a trip to Beantown. Yes, Beantown. It's actually the name of a really nice Campground up in the Door County Peninsula of Wisconsin. You know that skinny finger that sticks way up into Lake Michigan?

We went up to help Pops, Steve's dad, to move his motorhome out of storage and get it settled in on to a seasonal site for the summer at Beantown.  http://www.beantowncampground.com/

Steve and Tom, the owner of Beantown,  had gone to high school together up in Door County. They were a year or two apart but still knew each other because it was such a small town.

It didn't take long to get Pop's big motorhome all settled into his great site, get it leveled off, and the slides opened up. We dewinterized the water system and helped him set up his sewer hose and got his electrical going. Now he's all set for a summer of camping. We are going to go back up in a few weeks and help him build a nice little deck area on his campsite. It will be easier for placing patio furniture and a round table compared to the picnic table that is already there. We will bring our motorhome up at the same time to park nearby and help build the deck. Then he can be settled in to entertain with the folks in the campground.

We took our dogs along with us because it was going to be a long day. About 2 hours up and 2 hours back.  So all three dogs, Finney, Binney and Pop's dog Millie commandeered the back seat of the truck, leaving look very little room for me! At one point I looked over and Millie was draped across both Shelties like they were her personal Doggie Mattress. "Might as well put these fluff balls to good use" she thought, "they make comfy padding".

So that was it for Beantown.

Now about the pot(s)

I have been searching lately for a couple of big cement type urn pots to put on our front porch. I had two smaller plaster ones the first summer we were here but one cracked and that those were not exactly what I wanted. I wanted more of the big cement pedestal type urns that would go with the style of our home.

We looked all around and checked quite a few stores and did not find any for sale. I did find a place online where I could order them for $200 and have them shipped but that's quite a bit out of my price range. Ouch!

I even posted a "wanted to buy" ad on all of the local buy sell trade Facebook pages and Craigslist. No bites, not even a nibble.

On Monday I had given up finding any of the pots I wanted.....  and I planted a bunch of geraniums into some cheap plastic pots that I had painted white. They were okay. But it's not what I wanted. Last year I used them and they blew over in some of the thunderstorms and just look cheap.

Well well well well ---- as we were driving up to Door County, I was sitting in the back seat of the truck, on my phone, perusing Craigslist. Guess what I found! Somebody in Oshkosh, the opposite direction from where we were going, posted a pair of cement urns exactly what I wanted --- and at a great price too.

I texted her and she said yes they were still available, but she would not be home until 4:30. That was just perfect for us to arrive after coming back from Door County. After we said goodbye to Pop's in Appleton we headed down to Oshkosh to check out the urns. They were exactly what I wanted and Steve hoisted them up into the trunk of our car to haul them home.

Even though it was late evening and darkness was coming on we decided to haul them up to the front of the house after I hosed them off.

Boy oh boy were these suckers heavy. Steve put them in our little red wagon both at the same time and I really could barely move them as you can tell.

Even he took a break after hauling them up to the front of the house. It was still hot humid and very sticky out. I think it hit 83 degrees here.

Then Steve hoisted them up into place. I carefully transplanted the new flowers from the plastic pots into the cement ones. We were losing daylight but I wanted to get these done before heading to bed.  Today I will touch up the exterior with some paint to make them look cleaner and more matching of the stoop and trim on the house.


Now this is what I had been hoping for: 

While shopping, Steve also picked up two other interesting shrubs this week and we need to get them planted as well.  They are not going IN the fenced in yard, but around it on the outside. One is called a Sem Ash Leaf False Spirea. It looks like little ferns or feathers and will bloom with white puffs of fluff. It will get about 5 feet tall and about 10 feet wide.  The other one is a tall skinny cedar to grow in a spot where we pulled out some arborvitae and want something to offset the horizontal lines of the other bushes next to it. We had two at our house in Oconto and I really liked them.

We did manage to get my white lilac planted and made a nice flower bed in the corner of the fenced-in yard. Steve helped me transplant some hostas that needed splitting up, and then we moved one of the cactus gardens on the birdbath stands that I wrote about in my last blog.

We surrounded it with some old bricks 
we found inside the garage and 
some other bricks that were leftover 
from removing the top of the chimney last year. 

Now I think our backyard is more balanced and even with the fence and two flower beds, one in each corner.  It is also easier with the riding lawnmower to arc along the beds to cut the lawn instead of going into the corner of the fence. 

The big job is going to be operating the weedeater along all 258 feet of fence to carefully cut back the grass and not whip the heck out of the wood (like Steve is prone to do) I think we will need to get another battery for the weedeater so I can do it in shifts and not have to wait for a recharge.

Up in the front yard, I did get a row of little red and white impatiens done in front of the house, and I still have some left to plant under the cherry tree.  I will mulch after the helicopter seeds are done falling from the soft maple trees around. Otherwise they are a big mess on top of the pretty black mulch that I like to use.  Steve put the birdbath up front for me on a cement pedestal base to keep it level.  Come on birdies!

One of the things in our backyard I do NOT like is the huge ugly telephone pole. I decided to plant some vines of clematis at the bottom and tie around the pole a couple times with string to get it started. I already have a few blooms on it so I think it's taking off.

I would rather look at a column of beautiful flowers than that ugly pole. Not only is it old and full of holes, it's crooked!  It's a shame it has to be in our yard because it's not really being used by us.  They came through 2 years ago and replaced all the poles up the center of the block, but skipped this one at the end of the line.  Our power to our house is buried underground, but the lines on this pole lead up overhead to the neighbor at the end of the line. The telephone and cable wires on there also are not used by us as the phone lines are buried underground and we do not have cable.

Grow, Clematis, Grow
and cover up that ugly pole!

Today is going to be hot and humid again like yesterday. We did not start the air-conditioning yet, but we do have all of the windows open to let fresh air into the house this morning.

Setting out on the front porch as I write this blog 
enjoying a cup of coffee

On edit... I set down the coffee, 
grabbed my paint and brush
and gave the urns a fresh coat of paint! 


Saturday, May 13, 2017

Saturday Projects around Our Old House and Big Boy Sandbox Toy

Yeah! It's a Saturday and we have nothing planned all day long ....  except of course, projects around Our Old House!

When working on our fence, we had a load dropped off of this fine gravel called screenings. The smallest amount they would deliver was 10 yards. By dump truck. We probably only used one or two yards of it while packing around all 38 of the fence posts.

No worry, because we had plans for the rest of it!

Yesterday, Steve's brother Pete came over with his handy garden tractor and lent us the use of it for the evening. In return we gave him a couple loads of the gravel for a project he is working on. (and some hostas I dug up that needed splitting)

Steve was able to use the tractor to level out the rest of the gravel, over our existing motorhome parking pad. He was able to fill in the low portions and make it more level than when we made it the first time four years ago.

He sure had fun... back and forth, over and over. He played with that thing for two hours, I kid you not! You could almost see his mouth going "VRRROOOOM  VRRROOOOMMMM"

We had to park the motorhome over on the side street so he could have room to maneuver in our yard. He did a wonderful job and here it is all complete, with the motorhome back in place. Good job, Steveio!

We also had a couple big mounds of leftover dirt from digging all of those fence post holes. So this was the perfect opportunity to scoop it all up and bring it up to the front yard. Sure beats using a wheelbarrow and shovel.  We had a low section on our front area that was not level and also needed some fresh dirt to grow some new grass. We sprinkled a bag of grass seed on it and we hope it takes off.

After powering washing off the tractor, Steve's brother Pete came to load it back up again... What a great barter / swap for the use of his tractor and we got rid of some of our excess gravel. Win Win!

We hit the ground running after coffee this morning and started in on painting of these ten solar lights that we took from bulky item trash pickup day. I mentioned them in yesterday's blog. There are ten complete lights that we got working and a few extra parts in case anything ever breaks from in 11th light.

I painted all of the caps by brush with two layers of Rust-Oleum gloss white paint, being careful not to get any paint on the solar lens or sensor eye that turns it on at dusk.

Steve spray painted the frame pieces after removing the glass lenses from each unit. We did not paint any of the stakes or long shafts that hold up the lights because we had something much more creative in mind

Steve drilled exact upright perpendicular holes in 10 different spots of our fence, carefully spacing out the lights around the entire back yard. The holes he drilled were matched perfectly to the diameter of the base right underneath the lamp frame. So omitting the shaft and spike, we only used the top lamp portion to mount on the fence.

Around the entire yard he drilled the holes for the ten solar lights. This was a fun project that only cost us a little bit of paint and some patience and creativity.

I can barely wait for this evening to see them all light up.

(on edit tonight... here are the lights and
the solar light on the flag pole too) 

The next project on our task list is one that I started writing about yesterday in my blog. On bulky trash pick up day, I had found these two bases for bird baths, minus the basins.  Steve laughed at me and said we already had a birdbath.  Yah... but he didn't have my next idea!

The other day, out came my paintbrush and two coats of thick glossy Rustoleum did the trick.

With me leading the way, Steve took them both out to the flowerbeds in the fenced in area.  He made sure they were level and set firmly flat on the ground.  He took a caulk tube of Loctite Power Grab adhesive and put a thick bead around the top of each of the stands.

Now for the magic!  I took out my two cactus gardens that I've had growing in the house all winter. The gray wash pan and was left here by the previous owners, and the white enamel wash pan with the red rim was being tossed out by our neighbor last year. I repurposed both of the pans into something useful, again,

In my last blog I showed a picture of this beautiful funky whimsical flower pot in the shape of a large coffee cup. I transplanted a big jade plant that I had into it with cactus dirt and gravel. I think it looks absolutely beautiful on our little red picnic table. We also have an umbrella that matches the same colors. I call it "Picnic Table Chic".

Once our projects were done, it was time to hop in the car and go hunting. What were we hunting for? My Mother's Day present! Steve asked what kind of a bush or tree or shrub would I like for Mother's Day this year. Past Mother's Days I got an adorable little blue spruce, and my elegant weeping cherry tree up in the front yard. This year I decided I would like a white lilac.

When I was a child growing up in Cedarburg, Wisconsin we had a large round white lilac and a row of common purple lilacs. You can see them in the background in this pic of myself and my big brother, Butch.

I have always loved white lilacs. I had planted one in our house at Oconto from a little slip that my neighbor gave me. It took probably five years before it took off and grew. It was such a tiny little thing. I never got to enjoy the blooms of that white lilac because we sold the house and moved away.

So it seems fitting that we should put a white lilac in the flower bed for Mother's Day. The trouble was, we couldn't find one!

We called every tree nursery in the area and nobody had them. We even called Lowe's and Menards and Home Depot to ask, but none of their clerks really knew it what lilacs they had and I think they were way too busy to check. We did manage to see one white lilac at Lowe's but it was a tall lilac tree that was some kind of hybrid grafted to a tall stalk, and it was priced at $80! It was supposed to get 25 feet high! Well, that's not what we had in our minds.

We were running around looking at other places we didn't see anything we really wanted.  Our last stop? It was good old Fleet Farm! I found a very nice white lilac bush with about 6 good stems in a nice cluster.  Sensibly priced at $15, but also the flats of white and red impatiens were on sale that I wanted for the front flower beds. There... my Mother's Day present was complete.

Steve spied a very interesting shrub called an Amber Jubilee Ninebark Bush. The leaves stay these beautiful golds and yellows all summer long, but looking like a plant in autumn. They bloom white clusters of blossoms in both the spring and again in the fall.

It looked very interesting and we decided we would take a chance and bring it home because it was so unusual. It was double the price of my little lilac, but I think it will grace the corner of our fence as you enter the gate.

After such a busy morning, and chasing around to five different stores in the afternoon, we came home and laid down for a late-afternoon nap. We slept till almost 5 o'clock!

I guess we needed it.

After a wonderful dinner of grilled salmon, crunchy steamed green beans and baked potatoes, it was time to sit out in the backyard for a while to watch the sunset.

But you should know by now, my antsy pants husband just had to dig the hole and plant his new bush!

Even the dogs decided it was time to relax and watch the sunset

and I got Steve to sit down in the lawn chair and relax too....