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Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Everything Is Coming Up

I started thinking about my blog post today, while sitting in this spot this morning. I was out on the front porch in the sunshine, sipping my coffee. Steve had just left to go drive the Old Fart Party Bus for a while, and the dogs were keeping me company. I looked around the front porch and decided to take a few pictures.  Thing are GROWING!

Here it is from the other end, 
and you can see my pretty flowers from Steve
 last week are still going strong.

I received a little pot of ivy a couple years ago, and kept transferring it into bigger and bigger pots. I started winding it around and around circular fashion on a trellis. I think it's going on it's third year. During the winter I keep it up in a bathroom window facing south. In the summer I bring it down to the front porch. This little white table is for the grandkids to sit and eat at, and the ivy kind of gets in the way of their plates. I really don't have any other place to put it where I can get such beautiful sunshine.

This interesting little planter is full of something you wouldn't expect here in Wisconsin. These are orange trees! Yes real orange trees!!!  My mom's new husband grows oranges in their yard in Florida. He sent us a box full of them at Christmas. Amazingly sweet and wonderful, better than anything you could ever find in the store. Lyle said if you save the seeds, and stick them in dirt, they will sprout because they are not some crazy hybrid like store bought oranges. These are the real thing.

I have no idea what I'm going to do with them as they get larger. Maybe I can donate them to the school or something for a Horticulture class? It would be interesting to see them raised into full grown trees and bear fruit. I don't know anything about raising oranges, but I bet the students would like to learn?

After my coffee, I wandered out the back door and down the steps. My goofy little teacup planter is doing well with my jade plant in it. It really sets off the bright red patio table, and I think it's kind of funky. The overhang of the upstairs porch protects it from heavy rain, but I do have to remember to water it.

Speaking of watering, I like to water all of my plants with rainwater, rather than the city water full of chemicals. I have two rain barrels, one by the back door and one off the back of the garage.

This year I am trying something new with the rain barrel by the garage. I added a long length of foam soaker hose to the barrel spigot. I ran the soaker hose down the length of my tomato cages, looped around three of Steve's raspberry plants, and back up the backside of the tomato cages. By opening the spigot just a tiny bit, the water slowly drains out through the hose and soaks into the ground, underneath the grass clipping mulch. We will see if it helps keep the plants moist or if I do need to continue caring for them with a watering can every other day.

Here's my pretty row of 13 tomato plants, I have 4 Early Girl, 4 Champion, and 4 Better Boy. The last one is a grape tomato bush. I keep the cages firmly attached to the side of the garage so the weight of the tomatoes does not tip the cages over later on in the season.

I learned from my good friend Juanita, who has a amazing Green Thumb, to use grass clippings from the lawnmower as mulch around my tomato plants. The grass clippings are full of nitrogen, and as long as there are no chemicals on the grass, it makes a very good mulch to help hold in the moisture, and control weed growth.

Here are Steve's three new raspberry bushes. I don't know if the mulch works for them the same way it works for tomatoes, but we will see. We are protecting them with tomato cages for now, to keep errant balls being chased by doggies from snapping them off at the stems. In a few years I am sure they will be rigid wood stalks and we won't need to baby them so much.

This next thing drives me 

The big tree in our backyard (as well as all of the neighbors trees around us) are Soft Maples. All in all, they are beautiful trees that give us plenty of shade and we like that.....    What we don't like are these crazy helicopter seed pods that come twirling down every Spring, and last about two weeks. When the breeze blows it's like a rainstorm of little helicopters!!!!  

And did I say, they make a MESS???

They stick up all over the lawn like little dead butterflies with their wings in the air. The green seed pods turn brown and then they look very messy and dirty. Some do manage to sprout and we spend time going around plucking little maple trees out of the middle of our lawn and our flower beds.

That doesn't seem so bad, does it? Well it really irritates me in the flower beds because I like setting off my rich deep burgundy, fuchsia, green coleus plants by spreading black mulch around them. All these crazy helicopter pods look like dirty brown crunched up leaves that never got cleaned up from the year before. See what I mean?

PS, note that I added a green soaker hose along the inside edge of the cement scalloped edging. I'm going to try using a timer on the hose to water these plants when we are gone for more than a few days at a time. It seems like a good solution to keep the plants watered alongside the house. This side faces South and the good dirt dries out really fast and is not very deep before there is solid clay. So the good soil needs to be watered sometimes every day during hot weather. I think I will set the little timer to water early in the morning and later in the evening to keep them alive. Otherwise when we are home, I water them with a watering can with the rain water from the barrel.

This lovely old gnarly lilac is at the end of its blossoming season. I don't know how old it is, but boy oh boy it sure is a lovely bush planted by someone long ago. There are some new sprouts growing up around the bottom, so I think if the top keeps dying off, I will let the young sprouts grow up and try to replace it in the coming years. We did that with the lilac on the other side of the house and it sure shaped up nicely now.

Let's walk up around the front of the house. I took a picture this morning of the front but it was blurry so I came back around this evening and took one as the sun was setting. I love the angle of the golden sun in the springtime as it sets. Everything is so fresh and green, and not faded out after a long hot summer.

The birdbath is up in the front flower bed this year, and I have hostas growing in a row behind it. The center one was also a gift from my green thumb friend Juanita. I call it the Hofstrom Hosta. Soon the little rows of white and red impatiens will grow up into a lovely border along the scalloped edging. We have already seen birds using the bird bath and I've scooped feathers out a few times so I know it's being used. Again, I try to only fill this with water from the rain barrel and not the city water faucet. I want to spread some black mulch here too, but not until the helicopters are done. I have ten big bags waiting on a trailer in the garage.

Last year I strung some white cotton rug warp string in a zigzag fashion on little tiny white nails, I put all along the edges of this window on the south side of the front porch. My beautiful clematis blooms adorn this whole side of the porch. It makes a wonderful backdrop seen from the inside and screens off some of the bright bold sunshine coming in from the south. This year the clematis is growing like crazy and has already gone higher than last year. Soon it will fill in with full thick leaves and big purple velvety blossoms.

Underneath the clematis, all around its base, are delicate little Lily of the Valleys. I think of my Grandma Kafehl's house whenever I see them. She had two full beds of them along with her daylilies in the front of her home around the big trees. They grow so well in the shade. I wish they would last all summer, but they seem to die off and just leave the green foliage behind.

When I was a child, growing up in Cedarburg, we had a whole row of these bushes along the side of our backyard facing Country Aire Drive. They were called Bridals Wreath. I remember grabbing the ends of the branches and shaking vigorously, making a rainfall of little tiny white blossoms all over the place. How frustrating that must have been for my mother to look out and see all of her blossoms gone from her bushes!

She also told me a story of where I came into the house one day with my little sand pail, full of little green marbles. Here they were all the round heads off all of her peonies bushes! I had plucked them all off and brought them into the house!!  I'm sure she was so dismayed to not have blossoms that year, after waiting all winter for the peonies plants to grow tall and begin to sprout the round marbles.  I sure must have been a little stinker??  Sorry, Mom!

Round the corner of the front porch I have my littlest flower bed patch that faces the north side. I started some little ferns here two years ago. They struggled last year and really didn't do too well. This year they are just amazingly full and lush!

I think I have a winner with the location that I put them in now. Also on this side of the house I have some extra hosta plants that like the shade.

On this side I also put a very delicate clematis, that has white blooms with thin strands of burgundy. It is also growing up quite well this year and I had zigzagged some string on this window frame too. Hopefully we will have blooming clematis on both sides of the front porch creating lovely screens of green and blooms to look at when we sit inside. I can't wait to see the first blooms opening up on the delicate vines.

The two cement planters I bought a couple weeks ago are doing quite well with some geraniums, spikes, and vinca vines. I love the red, white and blue theme in the front with all of the flowers and the flag overhead.

In one of my other blogs I talked about the ugly telephone pole in the backyard. The clematis I added here is with white blossoms and is starting to take off and creep up the pole. It's a couple feet tall now and I hope it just keeps on going and soon covers the complete wooden texture of the pole. I have a few strings tied around to help but the little twisty grabbers on the clematis are starting to attach themselves into the wood. Grow little flowers, grow and cover up that ugly pole.

The flower bed in the back corner has taken off. All of the transplanted hostas are doing well and growing along the edge. The Korean lilac is in full bloom and the little cactus garden in the corner is doing well in the bright sunshine.  I want to spread some black mulch back here too, but not until the helicopters are done falling. 

My tiny new white lilac bush that I got for Mother's Day is actually blooming! Can you imagine that? It has two blooms on it even though the stalks are only about 1 foot high. I hope that shows that it's a good fighter and will grow and prosper and become a good bush in that corner.

All along the back fence, the flower garden is filling up with perennials that I have planted over the last four years. We always thought the full flower garden was within our property line, but after we had the survey done we realize the property line now goes right through the middle of that flower bed. With the gate that we put in on the back corner, we can easily get around to this side of the fence and pull weeds and trim back and enjoy the flowers too. We have wonderful neighbors and it's not an issue to actually have the entire length of half of our flower bed into their yard. Lol!

I have a great big bush of bleeding heart blossoming. I wish these lasted all summer long. I love their delicate rows of little hearts. I remember my mom having a beautiful bleeding heart bush by our house in Cedarburg near the back door. Every year it would grow larger and larger with lots of rows of these beautiful little pink hearts.

I stopped at a rummage sale last year and bought a couple bunches of these bearded iris plants. I planted them last year and they took off quite well. This year they're even more prolific and this is the first bloom of the season. How beautiful in the evening sunlight.

This goofy plant was in with the irises when I bought them. I don't know what it's called but the leaves are totally different and it is growing up some kind of spikey blossom. Does anyone know what it is called?

This is where we put the last bush that we bought on the back side of the fence so it will grow up 5ft tall and be a backdrop on the corner by the flag. It looks like it is growing well with new growth and all of the rain we've been having lately it's gotten plenty of water. It is called a Sem Ash Leaf False Spirea. It looks like little ferns or feathers and will bloom with white puffs of fluff.

I planted some more of my coleus this morning into some pots to put around in various places in the yard. I carefully nurse these coleus plants over the winter have kept the same strain going since the late 1980s. They were given to me by my friend Connie, and I keep breaking them off and rooting new plants and starting over with as many pots as I can manage to coax through the dreary winter.

And in the last little corner of our yard, we added one tall skinny Cedar arborvitae. I have always liked these trees and they attract a lot of bugs, which in turn attract a lot of birds. I had a whole row of cedars in my backyard of my house on Maple Street in Green Bay. I would get beautiful little yellow finches flitting in and out of the dark green branches. I hang thistle seed feeders out and that helps attract them to the cedar trees. We have a lot of nesting birds in the other arborvitae hedges around the dining room bay window. It adds a lot of visual interest when we sit at the table to eat in the evening. I hope the new bush will attract them as well. 

So that was a little walk around my yard today, to see what's growing, see what we planted, and see how it's all coming together. Although it was fun to go away camping for 5 days, I am really glad that we are back home. I wanted to see how things were taking off in my yard and it looks like Everything Is Coming Up!!!

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

RV Park Deck in a Day- Almost

All of our kids were camping over the weekend, all in different places! Dan and Heather were at Breezy Acres down near Fond du Lac in their camping trailer with their kids. Erin and Waylen were up at their camping trailer near Wausaukee with their kids. Heather and Jesse were tenting it with Jameson and friends up near Dave's 12 Foot Falls by Amberg.  Little Whitney was with her other Grandma so she was the only one NOT camping.

Since they were all gone doing their own things, Steve had the opportunity to take a few days off work. We managed to get 5 days in a row to get away.

We loaded up the motorhome the night before, and took off on Thursday morning. We headed up to the Door County Peninsula--- you know,  the tall skinny finger on the east side of Wisconsin?

Beantown Campground was our destination! link: http://www.beantowncampground.com/  It is run by John Anderson, an old school chum of Steve's when he used to go to high school in Door County.

Our own Pops Pfundtner had secured a seasonal campsite there for his motor home. Two weeks ago we got him all set up on his site and that's what put his plan in motion for this weekend.  We rented a campsite right across from him on the right.

He had contacted Home Depot and had a shipment delivered right to his campsite. Look at this! Enough wood to build a deck and a box with 4 chairs and a patio table and umbrella.


Hahaha - that's where Steve comes in.

Pops has a very nice campsite that faces out over a meadow of wildflowers, with some peaceful dairy cows that stroll along on the horizon in the next field over. Right next to his camper pad was a perfect level spot, but it would be all muddy if it rained. So that's why he thought it would be perfect idea to build a nice little deck entertainment area, complete with a patio table and chairs.

We had got up there about noon, and had a little lunch with Pops. As soon as I was putting away the lunch stuff, you know Steve.. onto the task at hand  He was leveling up and squaring the first few boards for the frameworks. We had cement paving blocks to help hold the frameworks in place. I helped, but Steve did most of the work.  The finished deck would be 10 feet wide by 16 feet long.


As soon as the framing was done with the floor joists, 
now it was time to add the flat deck boards. 

This was now about mid afternoon, and he was zooming right along.  The sun was shining, it wasn't too hot out, and the breeze was blowing in nicely across the meadow from the west.

This is the Project Supervisor, and the ever-faithful Job Boss at his side, making sure everything stayed on task and went smoothly.

By 4pm, Steve was reaching the halfway point of the deck boards.
 He better hurry up if we expected to have supper on the deck!

Ahhh here he is, placing the last deck board, while Dad P was getting everything ready to go on the grill for supper. He had brought up some wonderful fillet steaks and made grilled vegetables along with a special poppy seed cake roll for dessert.

The Project Supervisor did the final inspection and declared the deck done and fit for dinner. Time to toss the steaks on the grill!

While the food was cooking, the next project was to quickly assemble the patio table. It was so cute watching these two work together. What a wonderful memory to have both of them assembling this table and figuring it all out like two typical men. Of course, they did not read the directions, but the table managed to get put together anyhow.

There were a few leftover parts, I still haven't figured out what they were for --- because I think somebody threw away the directions???

The wind was blowing in and it was getting so cold, we decided to eat inside of Pop's motorhome.  They got in few games of cribbage while I watched some HGtv on Pop's King Dome Satellite.

We slept good that night, especially after a long day of project making by Steve. First thing Friday morning, you know Steve. He was chomping at the bit to get going.  But ... I reined him in. He decided to cook us a wonderful breakfast in the camper and had his dad come over to eat with us. The sun was peeking out and it was going to be another good day. 

Don't you know it, Steve decided now it was time to do Phase 2 of the deck. Right after breakfast he was back to work. He added on a 8x5 section in front of the doorway, that was just perfectly level with the deck and the motor home.

We took a little break for some lunch and Dad took us and the neighboring camper, Kathy, out to lunch in Baileys Harbor. We went to a cute place called DC Deli. Baileys Harbor has plenty of little places to eat, so this should keep Dad P busy for a while visiting each one. It seems everywhere he goes, he knows somebody. They lived up here in Door County for 20+ years. Heck, even going to the post office takes him an hour because he runs into so many people to talk to. LOL

Back at the campsite it was it was Mr. Zoom Zoom Zoom again for the afternoon.

Phase 3 was another section of a nice wide deep large step level with the bottom edge of the motorhome door.

He retracted the automatic metal step and locked it into place. Now his dad can step directly from the deck into the motorhome without any difficulty. His arms can be full of bags and he can set them down on the wide step as he negotiates the door. I think it was a pretty nifty design that they figured out.

Silly little Millie was the Job Boss
and she definitely stayed out of the way
 to not hamper any of the construction process

Yep, the final product met the approval of the Patriarch of the Pfundtner Clan

As for Beantown Campground, they have sites where people can leave their RVs year-round, there are some sites that have Park Model units, and even a few cabins that can be rented. It's not a very large park--- I think with about 90 sites total. It's close to many of the tourist attractions and restaurants and unique shopping places available in Door County. It's located a mile or so out of Bailey's Harbor in a country rural setting.

The owner, John, seems to be a big kid himself. In his family friendly campground, he has a swimming pool, gameroom, playground, and best of all ... this train! He runs around the park every couple hours taking kids for rides. What fun. No cost of course, just pure fun and family camping at its finest.

Here is a little video as they zoomed past.... 

What a fun thing to do.... 
I got out and snapped this pic as it went past our rig. 
Note our flags out on the front spare tire.

Now that the work on the deck was done, we had a couple little projects to take care of on Pop's motorhome. A little of this, a little of that, and soon he had it in spiffy shape. They did a run to the hardware store for supplies, and of course he found more people he knew there too. Pops did some carpet cleaning and window washing while Steve took care of a couple little repairs.

Of course they also got in some cribbage card playing 
and cocktails on the new deck!

We will help stain it next time we go up to visit. 
Firewood is stacked up within reach nearby 
and Steve made a little fire pit with stones.

We attended Sunday service at Steve's parents old church, the Sister Bay Moravian Church. Afterwards Pop's brought us to a wonderful restaurant way up in Gill's Rock, at the very tip of the peninsula. It is called The Shoreline Restaurant and we had a great meal courtesy of Steve's Dad. Thank you for the wonderful brunch, Pops!

Sunday afternoon, Steve's youngest sister Lynn, and her friend Mike came to visit. It was so nice to see how happy Pops was to entertain them and visit on his new deck. He was pretty pleased to have enough chairs for everyone and room for a nice visit in his extended entertainment area. I have a feeling it will be a little social hub of the campground during his visits up there. 

Sunday evening a storm started rolling in. We had originally thought about eating out on the deck again, but the wind blew in cold and temps dropped fast. Look at this amazing cloud formation that rolled in across the horizon. I have never seen a roll like this against the dark sky looking so threatening.

Here is a video clip of it 
that I took from the safety of our motorhome:

We were prepared to bugger out and get over to the large brick shower building and we had the local news and weather radio on to check the storm's progress.

Amazingly, it blew right through and we just got a little bit of rain and barely any wind at all.

Soon the sun was shining through the clouds that were breaking up. Blue sky could be seen on the horizon to the West and the sun was setting in a blaze of glory.

What a fine ending to a wonderful day

Monday morning, we awoke to sunshine and blue skies. In remembrance of Memorial Day, I would like to mention thanks to all of the men and women who gave their lives for our freedom.

Dad P had us over in the morning for breakfast at his rig. He and Millie sure make a pair. She is happiest when she is right next to him with her affectionate gaze watching what he is up to next. She is a registered therapy dog and they do nursing home visits so she can spread her gentle love to others who do not have a pet anymore . She is such a good dog.

Pops cooked us up some swedish pancakes and bacon and pure Wisconsin maple syrup. What a nice way to start out the day.  He does so well with cooking and keeping up with everything, you would never know he was over 80. Adapting after you lose your spouse is hard, but over the four years since Steve's mom passed away from cancer, he has done well.

I wanted to mention our campsite....  at Beantown they have full hookups of water, sewer, and 50 amp service. They also have Wi-Fi in the park that works pretty good, but you can tell in the evenings when all the kids get on it it becomes more sporadic and cuts down in speed. The sites all have nice grass, a fire ring, and a picnic table.

The park is also dog friendly and just about every campsite had a dog or two. Our two dogs, along with Millie, really enjoyed going for walks around the park.

They found lots of places to sniff and explore,
and a few other doggy butts to check out
and visit in a canine fashion

I could walk all three dogs by myself, Finney and Binney stayed on the left and Millie stayed on the right and away we would go.

It was time to pack up on Monday and head on back to home. The weather was pretty nice, and we took a different road home that avoided busy traffic around Green Bay and DePere (which was in the middle of their celebration parade). We stopped at a little parking lot at a fire station in a tiny town and made sandwiches. It was a nice little break on our way home. Although Beantown is only about a hundred miles away, the traffic for the holiday weekend is what we wanted to avoid by leaving earlier in the day.

We got home after a little incident with the Pac brake hanging up. Steve stopped the rig and added the special lube oil and it functioned fine again. Soon we were home, backed in the yard, on our parking pad. Time to unload and bring things in the house, while Steve started working on cutting the lawn.

Home again home again jiggity jig