Thursday, December 24, 2009

Merry Christmas 2009

Tis the season to clear the garden...fa-lala-lala-lalala

It is amazing what a friend with a chain saw can to do help out the cause. Two more Zapote trees are now fire wood stacked on the street for neighbors to take and a big pile of small branches for the new little chipper. Persimmon trees came down too, after about a month of picking the 15 or so trees we had and giving them away, we are trying to get the yard to a point that Mom has plenty to share with friends, neighbors and church members and not a full time job.

It is sad to see some of them go, as young plants they were my dads pride and joy, but a decade of neglect and no pruning had left the garden over grown by a few trees that turned out to be pests (zapotes) and permissions that were 30 feet in the air. We have to remind ourselves that even though he would hate the sound of the chain saw........he would have never meant the yard to get this out of control.

The neighbors across the street came home from their vacation and about had a heart attack when they saw the formerly 12 foot hedge down to about 5 feet. I had cut the strawberry quava hedge down to about 8 feet a couple of years ago rather than die like my dad figured it would do, it grew with a vengeance and put out more fruit than ever, unfortunately about 12 feet off the ground! We had just pulled out the saw when the Fed's pulled up with his fruit fly traps, a bit of promising that we were going to cut it right now, got him to put the traps in other trees and not have these off limits to touch for a few months. We are now busy cleaning up the garden (and the view for the neighbors) and getting ready for spring planting. Mom should have the vegetable garden that she always wanted and it will be safer than in the past. All the old wire is getting pulled up, all the old rusty fencing is being replaced, real gates, new terraces, easy access to the fruit trees and should she fall in the garden, she will be visible from the street. A real concern since she is 86 and does not see as well as she used too and still wants to climb ladders.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Ashes Ashes .........

Mom's sun porch is done (sort of), the curtains are up and furniture set up. We have a few details to finish and a ceiling fan to shop for, but for now she is enjoying her room.

I gave the deck a fresh coat of stain, but between the heat and then fog, and yet another wild fire........a fresh coat of paint on the railing and new gate will have to wait

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Painted Trim and the Day Bed Returns

July 15th, 2009

Today a coat of "Swiss Coffee" paint on went on the trim and the old day bed of mine went in the sun porch.

The old door got a fresh coat of white and the old paint scrapped off the door knob and plate.

And a couple of chairs for the drop leaf table that will be there shortly.

It is a small room, but Mom wants to be able to have company stay the night, or sit and have tea with a friend.

And once we find the right chair, be able to sit and read in the sun.

Laminate Flooring

July 2009

Some days things go smooth and just as planned, other days......not so much.

My mom was happy to see the floor going in, but had found out about a party at church and really wanted to go. I told her to just plan on going because this was not going to be something easy for her to help with.

She found out that the party....was the next Sunday.

She decided she should set the live trap because a giant raccoon was sitting on her front porch Friday night. Usually it take several tries for our old live trap to actually catch anything. But Saturday night was a "lucky" night. She caught....a baby skunk.

It was a good thing she did not have a party to go to, because she sure would have cleared out the room with the special perfume she had on.....

She covered the baby skunk with a sheet while trying to find some one to come and pick it up on a Sunday. Unfortunately the trap was right in front of the tool room door. With one very stinky skunk.

I thought I had seen a tool very similar to the pounding tool to pull the boards together in the shed...but I sure was not going to go look for it, besides the spec's posted on the Home Depot site for the underlayment were not I was heading to HD anyway.

The rest of the day went pretty good...well except that with no one to come to get the skunk, Mom opened the trap and the baby skunk ran for it.....right into the tool shed.

I finished the floor on Sunday and Monday did the baseboards and trimmed the windows and doors

One thing about an old house....Straight, Level and Plumb just are a concept. So is 16" on center and 2x4 with today's dimensions....(less than 2x4)

Norm would not be proud...but I think he would have started with a bulldozer to begin with.

Or spent all week trying to cut them to match the odd waves.

Me.....I am thankful for caulk. On three of the walls I think the finish nails are more for show and to hold it to the drywall while the caulk dries.

But, by the end of Tuesday it was looking pretty good.

Mom was not happy being in the photos in her work clothes, but she was pretty happy about the progress in the old room.

Just a few months ago, the room had a rat and a wall full of bees.....what a change!

Saturday, July 11, 2009

The Sun Room

July 2009
After decades of everyone else enjoying the old sun porch and not being the room she wanted, we are working on the sun porch.
We fixed up the walls....well sort of, the International Sisterhood of Drywall Mudders is NOT calling me. But it looks better and you can hardly tell my dad used fiber board drop ceiling panels.
Tomorrow I am doing the laminate floors....sure hope it goes as easy as it looks!

Exterior Painting Done

Summer 2009

Mom wanted dark red trim on the house so she would not have the forth house on the top of the street with green.

But with 2 coats on the kitchen window trim, she decided maybe not.

Since one house had sage greens, the other blue greens and the third forest greens, and her house was dominated by a big yellow brick fireplace, we had to find a green that was different and still worked with all the yellow

Officially the color is "Harmonic Tan" kind of a greenish tan. Or as my mom has called it: pea soup (she checked against a bowl), puke, baby poo..... I went with celery green and eggplant purple trim. The photos do not show the color true, but it looks really nice.
I also did new window screens, even getting windows that were painted shut in the 60's back to opening and new sheer curtains to fit the style of the house.
We have been planting new plants in purples and whites and finally doing some more of the fun part of fixing up the house.
I still have the garage to paint
The Deck needs a fresh coat of stain
Mom decided to clean off the paint brush on the old wood furniture, so that needs paint now too.
But, for those I am finally breaking down and buying a paint gun!
And of course then the picket fence will need a fresh coat.
Oh and the new side gate too!
We still have to figure out some kind of garage door too
And then there is the kitchen that needs a good scrubbing and a fresh coat of paint.
And of course all the rooms in the old part of the house need drywall...and the wood floors refinished and....
I did discover a new favorite thing along the way.
Ryobi! I think I need them, Home Depot and the Costco food court as sponsors.

Painting the House

2008 was not a big working on the outside of house year, between the GAP Fire, busy with work and cleaning out in the inside of the house, little was done on the outside.
So this spring my mom decided some long deferred maintenance was getting done.
Like painting.....She threatened to climb up on the contractors scaffolding and start priming. I decided maybe I had better start painting.

After all, how long could it take to paint one small old house......
About 300+ hours, 2 coats of primer, 2 coats of paint and 24 tubes of caulk takes a LONG time and is a ton of work.
And you can cancel your gym club membership.
Because the house had so many years of differed maintenance, I used a brush to make sure I got paint in all the cracks and to seal up the old paint.
We discovered that raccoons were using the old "green house" for roof access, so it had to come down two.

We still have a lot of clean up in the yard to do.

The New Veggie Garden

With the yard cleaned up, we took some time making a place by the house for my mom to grow veggies close by.

And a few flowers too

Ramp and a Deck

Spring 2007
It had become clear that not only were the old house steps rotting, they needed more than a simple fix.
At the age of 94, my dad was having a hard time getting in or out of the house. He looked forward to nice days in his garden, but is was just not safe for him to do anymore.
With some help from friends, we made a ramp with a very gentle drop to a small deck that he could sit on. We filled a wash tub with gold fish for him to feed and he enjoyed the next several months sitting outside.
He made it once to see the new vegetable garden space by the house for my mom and to see the cleaned up back yard.
It might not have been as big of a project as some, but it made a big difference for my dad in the few months he was able to enjoy it.

He passed away on November 16th, 2007

The Side Yard & Back Yard Clean up

Fall 2006

With the front of the house looking nice, it was time to do some serious cleaning up in the back and side yards.

It was kind of a jungle back there with piles of stuff to haul out. Even the old shed, went eventually.

I was cleaning the leaves off the top of the shed and came nose to nose with an opposum, I screamed louder and it found a new home.

It needed more work.....but there was another project far more important.

The Front of the House Looking Good

By the end of the summer 2006, the whole front of the house was looking good.
We had cleared up part of the garden and built an Epiphyllum area.
Redid the chicken house
And generally made the place look nice from the street.
But there was still both sides and the back yard....and what a mess they were!

Now Just Where Did the Driveway Go.....

June 2006

At one time, we could park two cars in the driveway

But that was a long time ago........

I had cleared out most of the stuff years before, but there were still bee boxes and plants...and more plants...

Decades before, the neighbors has put up a fence so their view was nicer, the fence had rotted so it had to go too.

We dug down to what was left of the paving, moving that dirt to the back yard too.

It was a lot of work, but for the first time in years, my parents truck was parked IN the driveway.

Building the Picket Fence

May 2006
We made the deadline.

And found a new agent and insurance company.

We also found a water line or tree root about every place we wanted a post for the lets just say Bob Villa would not be proud...Norm either.

We used the basic Home Depot pickets, but sturdier 2x4's and coated deck screws so our fence would not have the rust issues the neighbors all have with theirs.

The building of the fence and painting was a lot easier than the work trying to get to the point we could even measure for the fence.

I put the posts on the outside to reflect the roof like of the house with the posts that stand out too.

Once we got to the "drive way" we had to discover it too.

So after decades of not having a drive way to park in, we had to find it under the stuff & plants

The Picket Fence Project Begins

March 2006
It took a lot of work to clear out the front yard. We moved plants to the back yard, hauled load after load out to the green recycling, metals recycling and just plain trash. We found the kitchen sink, a bathroom sink AND a faucet.
My Mom helped out a lot and sifted the dirt so we could move the good top soil to the back, load after load after load. My dad was a long organic gardener and taught others as well. The land was always home to his projects. In this case, allowing the jacaranda tree leaves to rot in place added several inches of good top soil.

As a kid on family vacations, my dad would stop and grab any interesting rock he saw. We always had to watch how much we carried with us so we would have room for more rocks. He had hoped to make a fish pond with them, but they are currently making a border to the planters in the front yard.
It was a lot of work, we displaced a few critters, but finally we were ready to start working on the fence. We had a deadline....had to beat the cancellation of the insurance because of the old fence.

In the Beginning


A few years back my parents decided that they needed some help with the house and I was allowed to bring the loppers, leather gloves and a trash can. It had been about 40 years of bringing finds home, collecting useful items and growing interesting plants.

But the yard was now over grown, the plants and critters taking over and health issues forced them to allow me to help.
At first it was pulling the vines out of the trees and cleaning out one garage so some of the stuff in the house could get moved.
A couple of years later the insurance company said "fix the fence". My mom suggested a fresh rope might do the trick, but I thought it was time for something a little nicer.
She had wanted a white picket fence like the neighbors since she they bought the house in 1966...............