Sunday, May 6, 2012


I need to write a longer post soon, but in the meantime -- I was making scones this morning, and I liked the way the nuts looked on the cutting board.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

A beautiful day for yard work

Yesterday was a beautiful day, and I decided to do some work around the yard asphalt.  The gas meter garden needed attention.  Although I added compost to the soil last year, it's still sandy and not very fertile looking, and many cigarette butts had blown into the garden from the bar next door.

The flowers I planted last year are coming up, but the soil looks like it's from the Mojave Desert.

The crabapple tree's little square of earth was in much the same situation.

Dear crabapple tree, your perseverance is inspiring.

My first step was to turn the compost.  What I found was lots of uncomposted hay, and lots of semi-composted kitchen scraps.

Why oh why isn't the compost further along in its decomposition?

After clearing the cigarette butts and other detritus that had collected over the winter, I dug small holes throughout the garden, added the semi-composted kitchen scraps, and then covered them over with dirt.  They can finish their decomposition right in the soil.

In addition to the compost deposits, the crabapple tree got a layer of new dirt on top of its old dirt, because I had a half a bag of potting soil in the basement, and this soil can use all the help it can get.  Then I spread a layer of wood chips over the crabapple tree's square, plus the gas meter garden.  The wood chips make everything look nicely cared for, plus they hold in moisture and prevent dirt from blowing away.

You go, crabapple tree!

I'm excited to see how all of the plants do this summer!

The columbine is already blooming.

The one casualty I need to report is the grapevine.  I'm pretty sure it's dead.  The branches are brittle and they crack easily, down almost to the base of the grapevine, and there are no leaves or buds yet.  The grapevine planted over the entrance gate at Thomson's Garden Center is leafing out all over the place, and mine should be doing the same.  I'll give it a couple more weeks, but if it's truly dead, I'll consider this an opportunity to plant either a Concord grape (mine was a green Niagara grape), or maybe a flowering vine that will be more likely to thrive in this spot.

Thanks for reading!

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Pipe situation and how it was resolved

A few weeks ago, I noticed a leak in a pipe in the basement.  It was a very slow leak in the pipe that delivers hot water to the kitchen sink.  Wanting to be proactive (and knowing that the bathtub drain was also slow and needed to be snaked), I called Rob the plumber.  I figured the leak and the drain would be a quick fix for Rob.  Imagine my surprise when I got a call from Rob while he was at my house, explaining that the water pipes are corroding (and that, in fact, there was another leak that I hadn't noticed) and if he started working on the leaking pipes, the banging and rattling will cause other, connected pipes to spring new leaks.  He gave me the option of living with the corroding pipes for as long as the leaks didn't grow too large, or replacing all of the water pipes (actually just the pipes that deliver fresh water to the house -- Rob had replaced the waste pipes when I first moved into the house, because they were leaking and that is just gross, when you think about what goes through there).

I thought about it for a little while, but it wasn't a hard decision -- as I've mentioned before, my goal with the House is to bring it back to excellent condition.  It made sense that the pipes needed to be replaced, and a stitch in time saves nine, as they say.  I called Rob back and told him to go ahead with the job, and to replace the water heater while he was at it (when I moved into the House over two years ago, the water heater was already four years past its warranty).

I took some photos of the crazy pipe situation in the basement.  There was so much extra pipe that didn't seem to need to be there, and I asked Rob to take out any pipes that were leading to nowhere.

Old water heater

Crazy pipe situation over the furnace

Pipes that lead to nowhere

Here are the after shots.  The new pipes are PEX (polyethylene).  I did agonize over the choice between new copper pipes, and PEX pipes.  I looked up PEX online, and I wasn't able to find any talk of polyethylene leaching chemicals into drinking water.  Plastic never leaves our environment, but copper mining isn't exactly earth-friendly either, so I let my bank account do the talking.  It told me to save the over $1000 more the copper pipes would have cost, and go with the PEX.

New hot water heater!

Somewhat less crazy pipe situation over the furnace

Only working pipes left here!

The remaining copper pipes are those that feed the forced hot water heating system -- those weren't replaced this time around.

Rereading this post, I think it's very possible that only I will find it interesting.  If you have read to this point, I thank you for your patience, and I will try to make my next post more relevant to those who...aren't interested in pipes.

Thanks for stopping by, and happy Easter!

Sunday, April 1, 2012

The Tale of a Tire

Earlier today, on the Marblehead Bike Path, we spotted a sad sight in an otherwise pretty spot.

We remedied the situation with the help of a trusty bike trailer.

Cyclist T waited patiently for the retrieval to be over.

On the ride home, a latch on the trailer broke, necessitating that we keep weight in the front of the trailer.  J was a good sport to ride with the grimy tire practically in his lap.

The tire is on its way to the landfill -- a better resting place for it than the brook.

Thanks for visiting!

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Satisfying clean-up

There is a big tan two-family house around the corner from my house.  It has a small front yard/planting strip in front of it, and then the sidewalk, and the street.  I've only seen one person who lives there -- an older lady and her two dogs.  Trash has been accumulating in the planting strip all winter (in fact, there has never been a time when trash hasn't been accumulating there), and nobody has cleaned it up, despite the mild winter and recent summer-like weather we've had.

I walk by the house daily with Walter, and I got to the point where I just couldn't look at all of that trash any more.  I decided to just clean it up.  I pulled our trash can over to the beige house, and started picking up and raking up trash.  I was a little worried about someone coming out of the house, because I didn't want to step on anyone's toes.

Sure enough, the lady with the dogs opened up the door while I was working.  I tried to convey that I just had some free time and I figured I'd take a few minutes and pick up some trash.  She said she was planning on picking it up on Wednesday.  Now, I got the impression that this lady is a little slow and confused.  She's going to pick up the yard on Wednesday the way I'm planning to throw my hat into the ring of the Republican Presidential race.  But anyway, I just said I figured someone was going to, but I had time on my hands, etc.  She said thank you and I said no problem.

I wish I had told her that I don't have a yard so it's nice to do a little yard work, because that might have made her feel better about it, but I didn't think of it until too late.  Anyway, I think she felt fine about it, and so did I, so I think it was a good thing all around.  And look at the big difference it made!

Thanks for reading!