Friday, May 1, 2009

In Norfolk we besport ourselves around the maypoll

Three gold stars for anyone who recognizes the obscure literary reference in the title. :)

Wow, I'm sorry it's been so long since I updated this blog. I wish I could say it's because we've been working so hard on the house, but for the most part, it isn't. I have made some progress on the attic drywalling project (still on the first coat, though...) and my various paint-stripping endeavors, but since it's gotten warmer, it's been hard to motivate myself to work on indoor projects. And in Adam's case, he has had the semester from hell teaching 19 credits at three different schools, so he has a built-in excuse for neither working on nor writing about the house.

We have redeemed ourselves somewhat in the realm of outdoor work, however. Our first spring in the Four Mile House revealed some nice surprises, including daffodils and tulips in the front flowerbed and a hillside covered with purple flowers in the back. And we actually managed to put together a decent garden this year; so far we've planted peas, spinach, spring greens, and some onions we found sprouted in the bag, as well as some cat grass as a treat for the kittens. The recent stretch of very hot followed by cool and rainy weather has been great for the garden. Our pot of cat grass has finally sprouted, and we have seedlings in all of our rows. Now that it's May and we're not likely to get another freeze at night, we're going to put in zucchini and pumpkins, and we went to Lowe's last night and bought four tomato plants. We did the trendy hippie thing and bought mostly heirloom varieties: Mr. Stripey (which just looks cool), Lemon Boy (I love yellow tomatoes and seldom get to have them), and German Queen (since we wanted at least one red variety). I can't remember what the last one was, but I think it was a hybrid; probably beefsteak. It occurred to me belatedly that we sort of defeated the purpose of buying heirlooms because we got all different varieties and they're probably going to cross-pollinate, and I do realize that buying "heirlooms" at Lowe's isn't the same as buying genuine local breeds from a nursery, but we're new at this. I'll be happy if we successfully get tomatoes of any sort this year, and we'll work on improving our green cred in future years if this works out.

We're trying to come up with a more ambitious plan for our general landscape, and we looked at some trees while we were at Lowe's as well, even though we didn't buy any. We definitely want a lilac, and I found a small gardenia tree that smelled wonderful. I would like to get two apple trees (I think you need two in order to encourage pollination), and we also fell in love with a contorted filbert, a kind of tree I've never seen before. It was very gnarled and twisty, and looked like a place faeries would want to hang out. Mostly Unseelie ones, granted, but they need somewhere to live for the dark of the year anyway. Might as well make them happy and give them some nice real estate ;-P

The problem is finding a place for all of this stuff, in addition to the shed we want to build (we found one for less than $300 last night!). We're not going to have much luck turning the annex into living space while we still have a lawnmower sitting in it. But about 1/3 of our yard is dominated by three increasingly gigantic blue spruces, which have actually engulfed and destroyed other features of the landscape. The other day, while walking the cats, I found the skeletal remains of a decent-sized juniper bush between two of the trees. With the way they're growing, I fear the power lines may be next. Part of me wants to cut one or two of them down, but they are very pretty and they make the breeze smell like a mountain forest when one is sitting on the front porch. Also, there is a thriving bird community in them. So part of me wants to leave them be (until the city makes us cut them down to save the power lines, I guess), but that strongly limits the space we have to plant the trees we really want. It's looking like more and more of a necessity to buy the vacant lot beside us; we just need the space for everything we want to plant.

This summer, we're going to try hard to finish the attic (Adam is going to help me finish taping and mudding the places in the stairwell I'm too short to reach, even with our awesome new multifunction ladder), and Adam is also going to mount an expedition into the secret room. We found, when we moved a big roll of insulation that the previous owners left behind, that there's actually a sealed doorway into the secret room. We've been accessing it through a hole halfway up the wall. I think we're going to open up that doorway and then cover it with a swinging shelf-door thing; Adam wants to keep the room a secret so our future offspring can discover it themselves.

We've been in the house for ten months now, and we still love it. I can't wait to explore more of our neighborhood while the weather is nice. I think it's going to be a great summer.

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