August 31, 2012 - Granny's Day(s) Off

I'm leaving you tomorrow morning.  I'll be back in a couple of days, but I'm going to take some time celebrate!  You see, Mr. Granny and I will be celebrating our 50th wedding anniversary tomorrow, so we're going to run away for the weekend.  We're driving to Oregon and checking into a resort hotel, where I'll be letting someone else cook the meals, do the dishes and make the beds.  Two whole days of rest, relaxation and overeating.

The house painting has been on hold since day 5, as we were all worn out after completing the front, the garage, and the east side.  That's all that can be seen from the street, so we can take our time completing the rest of the house, just as long as we have it all done by the time the window/door installers come in late September.

I had garden work to catch up on yesterday.  I don't want to let the weeds start growing and find myself behind in keeping it neat and tidy.  I also shortened a lot of vines that had small melons that have no chance of maturing.  I can walk through the North garden again!

My front yard is a mess.  After the barberry bushes were all removed from next to the garage, the grass that had grown under them was visible and quite ugly.  I've been digging it out a little at a time, but the roots reach to China, I swear!  The vegetation in the entire east bed was cut down to make room for the siding installers, then the small amount that remained was trampled by us when we painted.  I don't expect it to look like much until next spring, when the roses and irises grow back.  I'm hoping to at least get the beds raked out and the mess cleaned up today.  I'm really considering hiring a local gardener to just take care of the front yard for me.  He'll mow, trim, weed the beds and keep the shrubs trimmed for $15 a week, which is a darned good price.  That would leave me with the back yard and garden to maintain, which is about all I can handle.

Sooooo.....I'm going to get my work done for the day, then pack up an overnight bag for the trip.  I'll see you for Monday Harvest!

August 30, 2012 - The Fall Garden

It's hard to believe I was digging the last of the potatoes from this area of the garden on July 23, leaving it looking bare and void of any vegetation except for the volunteer alyssum .  Cabbage seedlings, carrots and bush bean seeds were planted during that last week of July.  To say they all grew well would be an understatement.  Today I got my first harvest from the fall garden, and it's still summer!

Nearly two pounds of bush beans and a 1-1/2 pound mini Gonzalez cabbage were the first picked from the fall garden.

August 29, 2012 - A Glut of Melons

I suppose too many is better than not enough, but how many cantaloupes can two people eat?

Over 17 pounds of ripe melons.  I think I'll be visiting neighbors today.

August 28, 2012 - House Painting Day 5

Another side finished!  Mr. Granny and I both worked on it this morning, then son-in-law Bryan came over this afternoon and painted the peak.  I'm so thankful for Bry's help!  I thought my arms and shoulders would get sore, but it's my legs and feet that bother me.  My legs get so tired after about 3-4 hours of climbing up and down the ladder.  

I think we'll spend tomorrow doing our "quality control check".  The heavily textured siding always seems to have a few spots here and there that didn't get  fully covered with paint, so we try to check it over once everything is dry, and do the necessary touch ups.  Bryan left his long handled roller here for me to use.  I hate to tell you I have painted everything so far with a 3" paint brush!  

I can also trim the arborvitae (Mr. Granny painted the back of it!), get the sawhorses and boards and ladders all moved out to the back, then give the yard a bit of cleanup.  In other words, regroup a bit before we tackle the back of the house.  I still have to paint the facia on the front of the house, but some of that is going to take some heavy sanding and priming first.  That might be a job for next week.  

August 27, 2012 - House Painting Day 4

I'm feeling it.  The old body is getting stiff and sore.  I did get in about four hours today, Mr. Granny wasn't feeling well so he sat and annoyed me watched me paint.  Every now and then he'd go in the house to watch TV, and I'd accomplish much more listening to music on the iPod instead of trying to carry on a conversation.  After a steady four hours of painting, 8:30 to 12:30, I came in and ate a candy bar, laid down on the bed and slept for four hours!

Daughter Amy called and volunteered her husband to paint the high places for us.  I don't think she trusts us on a ladder, which is funny considering her husband fell off of one last week.  Anyway, Bryan came over and painted the peak on the garage while we were eating dinner, and said he'd come over and do all of the high areas for us.  That will make the job much easier.

Now the entire front and the end of the garage are finished, except for the dark trim on the eaves.

I got a good start on this 50 foot long section this morning, but those bottom three boards need a second coat.  They were the new (primed) boards, and the way the sun was hitting them, with the paint color being the same as the primer color, it was hard to see where I had or hadn't painted.  It's looking a bit spotty!

The window company called and set the dates for installation as September 24 and 25, so we have plenty of time to finish up the painting.

August 27, 2012 - Harvest Monday

These were the last three ears of corn.  I picked a few more, but they were completely spoiled from insect and worm damage.  Next year I'll know to only plant an early variety, as the worms and insects weren't a problem until mid-August.

The carrots are certainly prettier than the earlier harvested ones were.

 I'm still getting really nice side shoots from the broccoli.  This one is almost as large as the main heads were on last year's plants!

 I had all of my son's goodies packed up for him, and forgot to take photos of the melons and peppers I had just picked.  We cut two of the melons and tasted them.  They were a bit over ripe, but really sweet.  He took home the two we cut, and I kept the other two.

The larger butternut squash weighed just under five pounds.  I think that will make a meal or two for me and Mr. Granny!

Harvest for the Week of  8/20-8/26

Beans, pole - 24.1 ounces (1.51 pounds)
Broccoli - 14.3 ounces 
Carrots - 52.9ounces  (3.31 pounds)
Corn - 12.4 ounces
Cucumbers - 29 ounces  (1.81 pounds)
Melons - 180.2 ounces  (11.26 pounds)
Peppers, sweet - 56.9 ounces  (3.56 pounds)
Squash, summer - 52.4 ounces  (3.28 pounds)
Squash, winter - 197.2 ounces  (12.33 pounds)
Tomatoes - 371.5 ounces  (23.22 pounds)

Week's Total - 61.93 pounds
Year to Date - 612.21 pounds

Daphne's Dandelions is the host for Harvest Monday, where everyone can share links to their harvest for the week. Please visit her blog and leave a link, so we can enjoy your harvest photos!

August 26, 2012 - House Painting Day 3

The front is nearly finished.  We have to borrow the neighbor's tall ladder to reach the peak on the garage, and I still have to scrape and paint the facia boards.  That should all be finished tomorrow.  At least we got enough painted today to get our house numbers and outdoor lights back up.  I have some serious yard work to do once this painting job is done!  It looks awfully bare with all the barberry bushed pulled out next to the garage.

Daughter Amy tried to talk me out of using three colors on the house, but now that it's done she likes it.

When it got too hot to paint out front, Mr. Granny set up a fan, poured me a diet cola and watched me do a bit of painting on the patio.  I know I'm doing the painting backwards, that I should be painting from the top down, but I didn't want to drag the ladder back there so I only painted up as high as I could reach.  I promise not to drip paint down on the finished boards when I paint the higher ones!  I figure every board painted is one board closer to being done.  I think it's going quite well, don't you?

August 25, 2012 - Hell Froze Over Today

Yes, Hell froze over today, and I have the picture to prove it!

 Mr. Granny picked up a paint brush and helped!  You can see in the picture how much of a color change we're doing.  It doesn't show so well on the shadier areas of the house.

I didn't accomplish as much today, as it got too hot to paint by 11:00 AM.  I did get all of the garage door trim done, which took a long time.  I had to tape off the door edging and do some scraping, filling and priming on the lower boards between the doors.  Light fixtures had to be dropped down and painted behind.  There was just a lot more finicky work to do today.  I went back out around 3:00 PM, but by four o'clock my body just gave out.  I have much more energy in the mornings.  Tomorrow I can trim that shrub and finish this side, and we can both work on the south end that Mr. Granny started today.  

August 25, 2012 - A Little Bit of Garden

I've been neglecting the garden blogging lately.  After all, this is supposed to be a garden blog, not a house painting blog or a grumpy old Granny telling off the salesman blog.

I may have been neglecting the garden blog, but I haven't been neglecting the garden.  Well, except for my zinnias and marigolds that are in desperate need of deadheading.  Although you can't see them, there are paths throughout the entire garden.  Nice, weed free paths.  In a few spots, the vines have overrun the paths and have been ruthlessly stepped on, being the only way to reach some of the back garden beds.  All of the tomato plants are falling down from their weight, but so far I've only grabbed the shears and cut one of them back to better reach its neighbor, the one with the better tasting fruits.  I wonder how many are rotting on the vines though, as the foliage is too thick and heavy to see through.  I have to do some weird contortions when I go on my tomato hunt each day, most of which require me to view the plants from an upside down position.  The corn is done.  Many of the stalks have been cut down and removed, some have been cut back and will be removed once the squash vines are finished with them, and the final planting will be removed as soon as I get time to do it.  I picked the last half dozen ears last night, and had to toss them all away.  Worms and insects had fed too well on them, there wasn't enough left for us to eat.

It was actually cold enough in the garden this morning that I had to wear a heavy sweater.  Just for you, my dear readers, for the following photos I braved the cold, dewy morning in my pajamas and slippers.

The fall garden is growing great!  Carrots, two varieties of bush beans, cabbages.

The fall peas didn't germinate well.  I'm undecided whether to leave them like this or to get into my stash of "good" peas and fill in the gaps.

The kennel jungle garden.  It's a lovely, shady spot to sit on a hot day.  Just look at the size of those Brussels sprouts!  It's still iffy whether they will ever grow any sprouts, but that tallest one is nearly 4' high.  It was still too early in the morning when I took this photo, but Grandpa Ott morning glory, back behind the garden bench, bursts forth in glorious bloom as the sunshine makes an appearance.

I think I'm going to have a cabbage surplus this fall.  It's a good thing Mr. Granny and two of my kids like sauerkraut!  All of the cabbages are the miniature Gonzales variety, so the heads will be softball sized.  I need to get the beets out of the covered bed, and get my fall spinach planted there.

There are a lot of nice sized butternut squash left out there.  It will be a while before this one is ready to harvest, but I noticed quite a few that can be picked any time now.

Some of the cantaloupes are huge!  The three melons that are growing up the ladder support are all big and heavy, much more so than those growing on the ground.

Those on the ground may not be as large, but they are numerous.  What does one do with an over abundance of cantaloupe?  I guess I'll have to freeze them and learn to like melon smoothies.

Yes, I'm still getting lots of broccoli from the spring plants.  It looks like they'll bear right into winter for me.  This giant is 4' across.  It's also the plant that "died" last spring.  It was tiny and wilted, and looked as though the stem had rotted.  I buried the stem under the soil, and before long the plant survived and grew.  And grew, and grew.

The garden doesn't look much different than it did a month ago, except for the fallen down tomato plants that were once shed roof height.

One last photo, for 5olly.  Most of this Black Cherry tomato has fallen over the side of its cage, but some branches are reaching for the rooftop.  I'm not going to drag out the ladder to pick cherry tomatoes, so it's going to get lopped off to a reachable height.

Now I have tomatoes to can and a house to paint.

August 24, 2012 - House Painting Day One

I'll count today as being day one of house painting, even though I actually painted the garage entry door on Wednesday.

The day didn't start too well.  The window replacement guy came at 8:00 AM to double check measurements and pick up the first half of the money for the job.  They won't be able to install the new windows and sliding glass doors until around the third week in September.  As soon as he left, I headed for Lowe's to get the paint.  One gallon for the front doorway, and one gallon as a trial color for the siding.  I was the only person at the paint counter, and handed the guy my paint samples, both of which had to be custom mixed.  He said it would take about 30 minutes to mix it up.  I asked why so long, and he said "It's not easy mixing up these custom colors".  I informed him I wasn't born yesterday, and knew the computer would print out the formulas in a couple of minutes.  He informed me it takes much longer than that, and I informed him I'd bought many gallons of custom mixed paint in my lifetime, and knew exactly how long it took.  He informed me I wasn't the only customer he had to wait on, and I informed him he didn't have to worry, because I was not going to be his customer.  So much for Lowe's customer service.  I went across the street to Walmart, but of course there was nobody in their paint department, so I headed into town and went into Ace Hardware, where the very nice paint man was happy to mix up the custom colors, and had both gallons done and shaken in less than 10 minutes.

So I got a late start on painting the house.  Mr. Granny and the youngest son had been busy tearing off the old rain gutters, so the front of the house was ready for a good hosing down by the time I returned.  I began scraping old caulk from where the gutters had been removed, and found the facia boards had a lot of dry rot from the leaky gutters.  Those will have to be replaced.  I also found a bit of rot at the bottom of the front entry trim, so I gouged the soft wood out and will let it dry really well then fill it with wood filler and sand it down before painting that bottom six inches or so.  Ugh.  If it isn't one thing, it's another!

At least I got the entire front entry (sans the door itself) painted, except for the small area that is awaiting repairs.  It now matches the color of the storm door, where before it was a couple of shades darker.  It looks much, much better.  Then I tackled the siding above the brick, and managed to get two coats of paint on that before I pooped out.  I still have to dismantle and wash the porch lights, then Mr. Granny can put those back up in the morning.

 With the exception of tearing down these facia boards and replacing and painting them, and some repair to the trim on the bottom left side of the doorway, and screwing the porch lights back up, this part is finished.  You don't even want to know what those three large windows are costing.  Because they are so close to the floor, they have to be tempered glass, which is very $$$.

The new windows will be the same almond color as the doorway, and I'll probably paint the molding around them the same beige as the siding.  The porch overhang won't need to be painted, as it's never in the weather and hasn't faded.  Only the beam and facia boards and the black iron porch supports will need to be done.

Tomorrow I'll tackle the garage.  Not much painting needs to be done here, as the garage doors and entry door won't need it.  Just the siding, the dark trim around the garage doors, and the facia board (luckily this one wasn't rotted).  I should easily finish this in one day.

August 24, 2012 - Thursday's Kitchen Cupboard

I know it's not Thursday, it's Friday.  I'm running behind this week.  I have no photos of garden meals, and I only took one picture of foods preserved.  Mea culpa.

Mr. Granny did the taste test, and the sauerkraut was finally ready to can.  I'm happy to get it off of the counter!  I'm still canning small batches of tomato sauce, mostly with all of the cherry tomatoes.  Three pints were canned this week, and 1/2 pint put in the freezer to add to the next batch.  I also froze and bagged about a quart of diced sweet peppers, but my youngest son talked me out of the largest part of the pepper harvest.  He said one variety of green bell pepper started off tasting really sweet, then turned really hot as he ate it.  He said it was the most awesome pepper he ever ate, but we have no idea what plant it came from, as all of the bells I planted are supposed to be sweet.  He'll be here tomorrow, so maybe we can go out and do a taste test in the garden.

Be sure to check out The Gardener of Eden to see what other bloggers have put up or used from their gardens.  I promise you they all accomplished a lot more than I did this week!

August 23, 2012 - To Make a Short Story Long

This will likely take a while, so sit back and enjoy.  Or not.

To make a short story long, let me begin with how we decided this would be the year for exterior home improvement.  We had some siding that has begun rotting over the past few years, due to the lawn sprinklers, both ours and our neighbors, causing moisture problems. About 99% of the siding was in great condition, so it was just a matter of replacing a few boards here and there.  We found a licensed and bonded company to do the work, at about twice the cost we had expected to pay, and bit the bullet and hired them.  I might also add that I had agreed to have this same company paint the house, at about twice the cost we had expected to pay.  Not a firm commitment on the paint job, just a handshake.  Thus the fiasco began.

The men, a contractor and two workers, arrived on time with their materials.  The contractor gave the men their demolition instructions, then left them to work on their own.  Of course, they rushed the job, which resulted in unrepairable damage  to a few boards other than those they were replacing, as well as completely demolishing the dryer vent.  I pointed out these things to the contracter when he returned, and he did, on his own and without charging us extra, replace the boards his crew had damaged as well as purchase a new dryer vent.  All went well....for the next half hour.  Turns out quitting time was 3 PM.

The next morning, contractor  and one helper (the second failed to show up for work) showed up at 6:30 AM and plugged in their air compressor, which I'm sure made the neighbors real happy.  The two of them worked off and on all day.  More off than on, as the contractor kept leaving to check in at other jobs or to run after a tool he forgot to bring, or whatever.  About halfway through the day I went out to check the progress and wasn't exactly impressed with the job they were doing.  He had told me they don't do any top nailing on their siding, but there were places where the bottom of one board would protrude out a good quarter of an inch frome the adjoining board.  I told him that was unacceptible to me, and made him top nail those boards to keep them flush.  It's not like top nailing made any difference, as the entire house had been sided more than 30 years ago using top nailing of the boards, and unless one gets right up close and personal with the siding, it's not even noticeable.

The siding installed, the contractor proceeded to install the new dryer vent.  He worked on the outside, while the worker did the inside connection to the dryer.  Job finished, the contractor came in for his final payment (it had been half down, half on job completion), and I stupidly paid him without doing a final inspection of his work.

They had worked overtime, I had to get to the store for some groceries and get back to fix dinner, and it was getting late, and our air conditioner had suddenly stopped working.  A 4-year old heat pump and air handler, all completely dead!  It was the next morning before I called the heating company for repairs, then went out to see what had been done on the house.  I found this.....

 This board is protruding at least 1/2" out from the adjoining one, and the caulking has dried so it can't be pushed back and nailed.  There are chips along the edge of the next board.

 Another protruding board, as well as sloppy caulking which is evident at every joint.

TV cable was removed and left lying on the ground.  I draped it up over the fence to keep it from getting damaged, but I'm the one who will have to reattach it to the house.

Well, the repairman showed up to check out the heat pump, and found fuses blown inside the air handler.  He couldn't explain it, but suspects the siding guys had possibly hit a wire with a nail, shorting it out and causing the fuses to blow.  It was under warranty for parts, but of course we had to fork out the money for the service call.

That's just the beginning of the fiasco.  The short story get longer.

I tossed a load of clothes into the dryer.  When I went to remove them, they were still wet.  Thinking the siding guys may have kinked the dryer duct, I got out a flashlight and mirror, and checked behind the dryer.  Oh dear, what a mess it was!  

Bear with me here.  This takes a bit of explaining of circumstances.

 First of all, you can see how tightly the washer and dryer fit in the laundry room.  

There is also very little room to move the dryer out from the wall.  We could pull it forward just far enough for me to lean over the edge of the washer, and reach the clamp on the dryer duct with a very long screwdriver.

 This is what I removed.  Not only was it a crushed mess, it was a very dangerous situation and a fire hazard.

There was no way we wanted to have to pull out the washer and move it into the hallway to give us room to get behind the dryer.  The plan was to tilt the dryer forward until the front rested on the small stool.  Use your imagination to see how this made a V shaped area between the washer and dryer, and gave us maybe 14-16" between the dryer and the wall for working space.  Now, Mr. Granny is not a small man.  There was no way he could squeeze back there, so guess who had to sacrifice her body to make the duct connections.  Mr. Granny had to hold the front of the dryer up so I could use the stool to climb up onto the top of the washer.  I'm on my hands and knees on the washer, and have to twist around to a sitting position.  Then I have to work my left foot and leg over the back of the dryer while my right leg is still in a bent sitting position.  It takes a few minutes to get the kink worked out of my left hip, then Mr. Granny grabs my right foot and forces that leg up and over the back of the dryer.  The toes of my right foot suddenly cramped, and it was a couple more minutes before they quit pointing up to the ceiling and relaxed back into their normal position on my foot.  I'm now sitting on the washer, legs dangling in the narrow space behind the dryer, so I drop down to the floor.  I have to bend down and force the duct into place.  It's hot.  It's confining.  I'm claustrophobic.  There is barely room to move.  I'm really close to panicking, when the parts all finally come together and I can tighten up the clamps.

Unfortunately, what (or who) goes in, must also get out!  There is not enough room for the little stool to fit behind the dryer, and there is no way this old lady can hoist herself up onto that washer.  I finally discover the stool, placed on its side with bottom legs under the dryer, gives me a 3" ledge on which to stand.  Just enough height to get me back onto the washer and out of the h*ll hole.

We're back in business.

So there you have it.  Bad siding application, crappy caulking, messed up heat pump and destryed dryer vent and ducting.  I'm sorry, but handshake or not this contractor is NOT getting the job of painting my house.  I will do it myself.  I can't mess it up any worse than they can, and I'll save thousands of dollars.  I have already begun......

After I climbed out from behind the dryer, I grabbed a paintbrush and painted the garage entry door and trim.  It's a beginning!

I was exhausted from my full day of work.  Besides the dryer repair and the painting, I had mopped the floors, washed all the laundry and hung most of it on the line, weeded and raked the entire garden, and cut down all of the early corn stalks.  I decided to send Mr. Granny out to pick up something for his dinner, and I treated myself to an evening concert!  

I went to see Hinder.  Plug your ears, the sound from my camera was crappy, so I don't know why I even bothered uploading the video!  This YouTube video  of the original recording is much, much better.  Anyway, I got home and crashed just after 11 last night, and wished I could have slept all day today!

The glass company comes today to finalize the deal and schedule a complete replacement of all of our old aluminum framed windows and sliding glass doors with new vinyl ones.  It's costing about three times what we thought it would.  Let's hope this goes smoother than the siding job.

August 20, 2012 - Harvest Monday

Harvest for the Week of  8/13-8/19

Beans, pole - 57.81 ounces (3.61 pounds)
Broccoli -  16.8 ounces (1.05) pounds
Carrots - 36.4 ounces (2.28 pounds)
Corn - 49.2 ounces (3.08 pounds)
Cucumbers - 38.1 ounces (2.38 pounds)
Peppers, sweet - 95.7 ounces (5.98 pounds)
Peppers, hot - 4 ounces
Squash, summer - 177.8 ounces (11.11 pounds)
Squash, winter - 565.8 ounces (35.36 pounds)
Tomatoes - 359.6 ounces (22.48 pounds)

Week's Total - 87.58 pounds
Year to Date - 550.28 pounds

Last year's total, for the entire gardening season, was 543.31 pounds.  I have already exceeded that total, with about two months left in the 2012 growing season.

Daphne's Dandelions is the host for Harvest Monday, where everyone can share links to their harvest for the week. Please visit her blog and leave a link, so we can enjoy your harvest photos!