Thursday, January 31, 2013

65 to 22 in Less Than 24

The deluge turned to snow. Warmth turned frigid. Things changed in the night with the thunderous winds that careened around the cozy cabin and screeched as they tried to come in my window that doesn't close tight.

There was only half an inch of snow on the ground. Much more must have fallen before it was cold enough to stick. It had rained all day at well over 60 degrees before the change.

I went to town to pick up my special order bifold closet doors and look for a bean bag chair. No luck finding a bean bag chair in the right color. I got home and opened my closet doors to find they were swinging louver kitchen doors not bifold closet doors and back to town I went to return the doors and try again. Aargh!

The full sun sections had melted by the time I got back, even with the meager 30's we achieved. More crocus encouraged by two days in the mid 60's have poked through the wood chip mulch.

The cold is back. The crocus will have to wait.

More snow is said to be on the way tonight. One to four inches perhaps. The snowdrops keep growing, but they too will have to wait for a proper sunny and warmish day to fully open.

This scene will be repeated through Sunday. I will have to review my list of winter projects and see what can be squeezed in between snow showers. I was looking forward to finishing my clothes closet. That will have to wait for a second more expensive special order to arrive.

These rapid changes in circumstance can really test one's adaptability.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

The Wire Railing

Dinah insists on helping more than I would like. But it rained all day. They weren't going outside, no way. I got busy on the wire railing for the mini-loft library.

The entry posts were stained and the wire hooks screwed in.

There you have it, the wire railing.

I like it except maybe the posts don't seem quite right. Too wimpy. Finding an untreated piece of wood to use for a post was a challenge. The right post is out of plumb by about half to 3/4 of an inch. It was screwed in un-plumb. I didn't put enough tension in the wire to pull it out of plumb. That may get fixed. But there is a time to stop and step away before you mess up.

If I should find something better for posts, they will be easy enough to change out. For now, the next step is a medium sized bean bag chair.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

At The Border

It was a freakish 68 degrees when I got home today, perfect weathers for a little planting. A box of leftover bulbs arrived in the mail from Elizabeth the other day along with a nice selection of seeds from Wildflower Farm. The ground certainly wasn't frozen anymore. The bulbs were planted. The wild flower seeds I want to do in pots.

This freakish warmth is coming ahead of a storm that is supposed to deliver snow tomorrow night. The new bulbs are ready. If there is a hole in the rain tomorrow I may even get my bed prepped for the poppy seeds. It would be good to get them sown and then covered in snow. The wind has already started.

I wandered down to the bottom of the garden where I have been planting a border to help mark the boundary. The miscanthus came from divisions of the grasses up by the scenic byway. The Dog Hobble, Leucothoe fontanesiana came from a significant thinning of shrubberies at a new clients this year. They weren't liking how everything was getting all jammed up as the shrubs in the garden matured.

I might have tripped and fallen today and a piece of the Saccharum ravennae fell out of the ground and followed me home. Two pieces were made from that. The other went in front of my red telephone pole.

Inside the border, this view from the bottom of the garden will remain pretty open. It will change of course between winter and the Lush of summer. I will be attempting to bring the height of the tall flower meadow down to the 4 to 6 foot range from its current 6 to 8 foot height by changing the species composition. That really means eliminating the two offenders.

The lower border undulates a bit too. You might say some of it is over the property line. You might say I am deliberately stealing more land for the garden. The chances of me getting a neighbor who might object are remote.  The property below me has been for sale or trade for over 25 years. Many people have looked at it. When they find out how steep most of the 25 acre parcel is, you never see them again.

Only a real gardener would have any inkling of what I have done. The chances of me getting a real gardener for a neighbor are close to non-existent.

I even spent a couple bucks for a shrubbery I planted over the line.

The growing tapestry of texture and color that is being selected from the wild and planted new in the treeless utility easement will one day be seen by invitation only. You will have to enter the garden to see it. Driving by and gawking from the scenic byway above will come to an end.

I should live long enough to see that happen.

Monday, January 28, 2013

The Bamboo Was Not Crushed

I was a little surprised when I got home today to see that all of the snow had melted. We are having some warm before winter returns.

I worry about the bamboo when it gets buried in snow. I am afraid the canes will get broken. It happened once. That was in a late spring snow. The heavy snow broke a bunch of the new shoots that had come up a tad early. The older canes seem to handle the snow fine. I should stop worrying.

The bamboo is a major element of the planned and mostly planted undulating evergreen screening that will protect me from the gawkers passing by on the scenic byway. I wait patiently for it to attain its ten foot suggested height. It will help hide that culvert too.

Much further into the garden and away from the road is the start of a small grove of evergreen trees. My evergreen screening undulates significantly. I most definitely did not want the solid wall of a hedge. This particular view looking in will disappear one day. The idea behind the undulation is that short glimpses in and out will still be possible.

The growing evergreens will also begin to separate the garden into sections. You will be forced to go for a walk to see the whole thing. Right now I can pretty much see it all from the front porch.

The daffodils weren't crushed. They are actually much further along than I would have expected in my snowy half of the wild cultivated gardens.

The bamboos at the other end of the garden on the slope below the scenic byway are only half the size of the others. This one was planted at the same time. The main difference is the amount of sun. The smaller bamboos are in a lot more shade.

Grow! Faster!

I'll just have to be patient. At least they are alive, healthy and growing and didn't get crushed by the snow.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

The Mini-Loft Library

Behold, the mini-loft library. It is exactly how I imagined it. Thank goodness the Minion was able to rotate my failing design by 90 degrees to bring my vision to life.

I have more books than shelves I built for them. I have even more books on other shelves in other rooms. This will do for now. I have other winter projects I need to tend to. A big one being adding another layer of screening over the the perfect bat house size indentations in the roof vents under the eaves before the bats return from their winter hibernation.

In case you wonder how I get up there, the loft ladder I bought unhooks and can be moved over to the mini-loft. I was planning ahead.

It was painting weather today and I finished off the blue lattice in the basement patio. I'll have time to decide what colors to paint the underside of the decks. The tops need to be stain painted first. No sense in dripping paint from above and having to go over the bottoms a second time.

Then I painted the main beam of the service entrance porch the Waterloo blue.

But the mini-loft library was still on my mind. I went to town today and bought what I needed for my horizontal wire railings. The posts were installed just so I could see how they look. They screw into a metal base fixed to the floor and can be unscrewed for staining and hole drilling.

It's nice to see an idea that has been in my head for over two years finally nearing completion.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Staining Weather

It started off really cold, but the sun was out. It slowly crept above freezing. I was ready. Four shelves were stained and are now drying in the mini-loft library. By the time I was done it had even reached a tolerable 45.

Despite cold fingers it was a relatively quick process. There was time left on a sunny winter's day for a stroll to the ridge top garden. Over there the snow is nearly gone.

Nearly. Bits of snow remain, while daffodils contemplate their surroundings

The kitties were coaxed to join me. It isn't hard. They enjoy our long excursions with the extra protection a loud human has to offer. My real goal is to wake them up and get them off the couch, lazy beasts.

Considering how many bulbs there are packed into the ground, there is still very little showing. Now that winter is here, there has not been much change. Bulbs are good about stopping the process when the world turns cold again.

Some times things have gone too far. The bloom can't be stopped. Iris reticulata are early, always one of the first bulbs to bloom, coming in with the crocus. This one has jumped the gun. Two others planted a foot away aren't even showing buds yet.

Button stops to lick the dripping icicles.

Tomorrow there should be a few hours of painting weather. Winter's return is scheduled for mid week.

Friday, January 25, 2013

A Most Dreary Day

It was cold and grey. Low dark clouds rolled over head. The threat of an ice storm permeated the chilled air as rain dropped at 26 degrees. But the ice never showed. By the time the rains did come it had warmed enough, a whopping 36, to remain rain. My big adventure for the day was walking to the top of the driveway to fetch the mail.

Half the day was spent fitfully napping next to two cats who refused to go outside. They slept all day and will be up all night, bouncing around the house.

I did nothing on a dreary day. Looked at the snow outside.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Cold Tolerance

The Hughes satellite internet had some kind of hairball stuck in its craw this morning. My usual wake up routine of coffee and computer was disrupted. That got me moving on shelf building much sooner than planned despite the 20 degree temps. At least it was sunny and the wind that had roared all night began to settle down.

There has been little snow melt in these frigid conditions.

Two more shelves were built. The boards get cut outside in the cold. The shelves get assembled inside in the warm. These two have an added shelf in the rectangular half.

I don't get far or stay out long in weathers like this, but I still manage a quick look in the garden. The kitties don't get out much in this cold. It is not to their liking. Even the neurotic Miss Collar has been spending more time inside. The grand high for today was 33 momentarily.

I checked on some of the baby shrubberies that are at the edge of their hardiness zones to see how they are fairing in this cold. The Soft Caress™ mahonias are looking fine. They are rated to zone 7. I am not supposed to qualify for that at all. This winter's lowest low of 10 is the dividing line between zones 7 and 8. They still have 10 degrees to go to really get tested in a zone below their rating.

The two camellias I planted are rated to zone 6. This will be their second winter. They survived the first and grew nicely. I didn't get any blooms from them this year. That isn't surprising considering their small size and the need to acclimate to being planted at the far edge of the world for a camellia.

Now there are four shelves, sanded and ready for staining. I sanded out there in the cold.

The wintry mix is scheduled to arrive in the morning so the staining may not happen until the weekend when sun and a dash of warmth, more in the operating temperature of stain are predicted.

Each shelf was individually hand made from cheap lumber by an unskilled artisan at the limits of his carpentry knowledge and with only rudimentary wood working tools in sub freezing temperatures. No two pieces will be exactly alike. Some variation and imperfections are to be expected.

The unskilled artisan was pleased enough with how sturdy they turned out to be.

Once these are in place and filled with books, a determination will be made if more should be crafted. I now have a template of parts. It was easy once my design dilemma was solved.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

All Ready

The next round of winter is headed this way. There is a strong lean in the diagnosis towards freezing rain. I haven't done any significant freezing rain yet. We'll see how it goes.

I may not see a temperature above 40 until Monday. With that kind of cold, a lean towards freezing rain and a wintry mix tossed in, I stocked up and plan to stay put. The best news in all this cold is that my pipes have not frozen. The additional heat tape I put in my insulated plumbing box seems to be working.

I'll be building more book shelves while winter passes through. I stocked up on more lumber. The question will become will I be able to get them stained. Stain has optimum operating temperatures like paint and I'd prefer not to stain them inside. I certainly can't sand them inside.

I wonder if this poor cordyline is going to survive. It has now been exposed to 10 and is only rated hardy to the upper teens. I don't care about it enough to bring it in. Sadly it still looks fine.

The world might look different coated in a thick layer of ice.

I just hope it doesn't make doing my winter project impossible.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Plan C From 10 to 28 Degrees

Unless it rains enough in the next wave, all this snow is not going to melt before the next snow arrives with it. The temperatures don't look promising. We are now having an extended period of winter, as we should in January. There was zero melting today. Everything has turned to ice.

With a suggested high of only 30 today accompanied by stiff winds I planned on staying put in the cozy cabin. I also planned ahead with plan C for the library shelving in the mini-loft. The minion called and suggested building shelves that faced out towards the living space instead of facing in to the center of the loft. Don't ask me why that thought didn't enter my own head.

A shelf shape was born.

I do believe this accomplishes my desire for a more open look. Seeing the books will even say "library".

I bought two boards so I built another. I can make one of these shelves with a ten foot board. Now I need to make two more. For two of them at least I will add another shelf in the rectangular part. I'll need an extra board for that.

There is enough depth that I could fit three shelves on each side if I want. That option becomes more doable if I can find some really low profile wheels that can be put on the bottom for locomotion. They need to be sanded and stained of course. That process can wait for another day.

The minion had a brilliant and attractive solution for my shelving dilemma.

If the snow's not going to melt, I won't be able to prep ground for my poppy seeds anytime soon. That means I can finish up my shelving project. My special order bifold doors for the hanging clothes closet should be here soon too.

It's a good thing I have a long list of winter projects. Multiple plans always get worked through and I am forever having to adjust processes around the weathers. I haven't gotten stuck with nothing to do very often

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Plan B At 50 Degrees

Maybe if I cleaned the mini-loft, organized the books and got rid of the excess paint supplies, a solution would arrive for my shelving dilemma. Not. What I have come up with is that the mini-loft is the shelf.

My original idea was to build two shelves in each corner with the front shelf on wheels so it could be rolled away to access the back shelf. My objection to that has centered around that what you will see are four solid side panels, two in each corner filling the space. Maybe that won't be as bad as I am thinking, but for now I wait for another idea to pop into my head. It feels better having it clean and less cluttered at least.

I looked at metal shelving and none of the pre-manufactured units that I saw would work in this odd space. This is a custom fit job.

It was sunny and got up to 50 briefly today. The snow is taking its sweet time to melt. That heavy wet snow must have compacted fairly well when it crashed to the ground. Maybe I got more than three inches. It might have said 50, but the cold emanating from all that snow said 35. I stayed inside cleaning and contemplating.

Forget the shelves for now. I am going ahead with my posts and railings. Two wood posts will create an opening door and something for me to latch onto when I climb up there. Then horizontal wire will go from the posts directly into the roof. This doesn't have to be to code. The inspector man isn't coming back. So I am thinking I will only go 20 inches high with four wires spaced 5 inches apart.

One medium sized blue bean bag chair will make it complete.

I built my clothes storage cabinets and hanging clothes closet, tidied, tossed and displayed and was still left with three and a half tubs of stuff and no place to put it. The cardboard box is full of framed art and there are no more walls for hanging. Those plastic tubs hold the hieroglyphics of my life. I'm vain enough to think there is an interesting story in there that may get told one day and can't seem to part with it. I'll need that stuff. My memory is optional.

I have no place for it. It will have to be returned to the luxury basement accommodations next door.

Kitties got even more running around outside in today. If only they could learn to wipe their feet when they come back inside. They sleep much more during the night when they are not snoozing all day long.

One winter project has been scratched off the list, at least temporarily until a better notion comes along.