It’s Just a Shed

We have a cute shed in our back yard. It was here when we bought the house. The husband built window boxes for it and in the summer they are full of ivy and geraniums although it’s a little forlorn in the fall and winter.

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Like most sheds, things get put in it and don’t come out. One of our goals this fall was to see what was in the corners, so we started taking things out some of which were donated to ReStore. We found three boxes of stuff that had been put in the shed when we moved here eleven years ago. I had wondered where those cast iron garden birds had gotten to.

With the shed almost emptied I saw an opportunity. This was the time to install drywall. It would protect the insulation that someone had installed. I didn’t plan to paint the drywall.

You have to understand that I have done a fair amount of drywall in my life. I helped install it in several rooms of our old house and I was the mudder. I still have the tools to prove it. But the last time I did drywall I told myself I was never doing drywall again. However, the passing of years meant I’d forgotten what a pain in the butt it can be. I’d also forgotten about digging drywall dust out of my nose.

My husband handed me the jigsaw you use the cut out the bits where the electric sockets are. I’m sure I would have gotten better with more practice, but after my first cut, I told myself – IT’S JUST A SHED and handed the jigsaw to him.

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And since it’s JUST A SHED I’m not going to spackle the seams and screw holes. I did begin to think about paint, however. Not to make it pretty, but to protect the drywall. We have two sheets of drywall to finish the job and they are standing in front of the space in the garage where I store paint. I’ll have to see if I have any partial cans that would do the job. Or I might go to Lowe’s and see what they have on the “oops – that’s not the right color” shelf. I am not paying $30 a gallon for paint for the inside of the shed where the drywall seams haven’t been taped or mudded.

Update: On the Saturday after Thanksgiving I went to Lowe’s but they didn’t have any “oops” paint. I went around the corner to ReStore and got a never-opened gallon of white paint for $7. Two days later all the dry wall is painted (two coats) and now we can install hangers for tools and sort what has to live in the shed. Those unmudded seams and screw holes are a little bothersome to my perfectionist self, but my mantra is…It’s Just a Shed!

 

 

Checked Off the List

One of the things on my “to do” list this summer was putting a coat of deck paint on the deck. When we had the deck installed, we opted for a Lowe’s brand of composite decking. It was cheaper than Trex. I chose a light gray and love the way it looked. It was fine for a year and a half. Then I began to see blackish speckles. I thought they were ash from the fireplace smoke but it got worse. I had to use deck cleaner every six weeks to keep the deck looking good. So much for maintenance free decking from Lowe’s, and when I went online I found lots of other people with the same complaint.

I was whining to a friend who told me they had had the same problem and painted their deck with a product from Home Depot. She said it had lasted six years.

deck-paint

There is a Home Depot in Salisbury, MD and one in Annapolis. Both are an hour away. I chose to go to Annapolis because I can also stop in at Trader Joe’s. That was five years ago.

This summer I noticed some staining that wouldn’t clean off and some chipping on the benches so it was time to paint again. Every five years I can live with. Cleaning the deck every six weeks. Nope!

I had to wait for a spell of dry weather and spent one morning washing the deck with deck cleaner. The next morning I made sure there weren’t any twigs or leaves stuck in between the planks. The following morning I put on my painting jeans and shirt and painting socks (because I didn’t want to risk getting any dirt on the deck from my shoes – this is not my first painting rodeo) and went to work. There was some cutting in and some bending to get under the benches, but the rest was done with a roller on a long handle. I was finished in two hours. One more thing ticked off the list that never quits.

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This picture was taken this morning so the sun isn’t on the deck yet. You can already see some leaves – a portent of what’s coming from all the wonderful old silver maples on our property. We put log carriers on the deck in the lower right hand corner of this photo and stack wood for our daily winter fires. Usually the first fire is in mid-October so we’ll start hauling wood soon.

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The hyacinth bean seeds given to me by my friend who died last spring have gone wild. This lush greenery is from two plants! I think about Marylou every time I walk through the arches.

I continue to harvest tomatoes but have been putting them in plastic bags in the freezer. When cooler fall weather arrives, I’ll make sauce and can them. Next year I will not plant so many. The garden beds will soon be cleaned out and winter kale planted. I might even put in some lettuce seeds and see if the season stretches enough to get some salads before hard frosts. I’m looking forward to fall.

 

 

What Happened before Wildlife in the Garage

Friday night I came home around ten from an Eastern Shore Writers Association meeting in Berlin, Maryland. I went with Laura Ambler, Betty Ann Sands and Jo Ebling. The drive is an hour and a half  from Easton (almost to Ocean City, MD) and on the way Laura was talking about the Healing Tree in Berlin that Mindie Burgoyne had told her about. Laura wanted to hug the tree. We were a little early so we parked and walked to the tree – a weirdly twisted sycamore.

healing tree and Laura

Supposedly you feel healing energy when you put your hands near the tree. Didn’t work for me or Betty Ann. Looks like it worked for Laura like a shot of vodka. Jo said she felt something.

The meeting was at The Globe in Berlin. This small town looks very interesting. Sort of like St. Michaels, MD. Lots of shops and places to eat and drink. Perhaps worth a trip back during the week. It’s probably crawling with tourists during the summer season because of its proximity to Ocean City, MD so maybe this fall.

Our speaker at the meeting was Denise Clemons who writes a food column for the Cape Gazette in the Lewes, DE area. Denise, who is a master gardener, went into the Gazette office ten years ago to pitch a garden column. She was told they had a garden columnist but their food column person was really ill and that’s what they needed. Any writer worth her salt would have said yes and that’s just what Denise did. So for ten years she’s been writing a food column which is not the same thing as a restaurant review column. She told us no one will invite her and her husband to dinner. Hey, Denise, come on over. I’m not afraid. I was taught to cook by my Iowa mother who was raised on a farm. My cooking is overlaid with a garnish of Food Network tips. My specialty is figuring out how to make something wonderful out of leftovers in the fridge. It’s kind of liked Chopped!

At this point my husband would be saying, “please come to the point. What does this have to do with wild life life in the garage?”

When I opened the garage door – not to pull in my car – the garage is full of gardening stuff, I noticed a small frog hop into the garage and go behind a bookshelf full of odds and ends. It was after ten o’clock, way past my bedtime. I wasn’t about to try and find that friggin’ frog.

That day I had finally planted by window boxes and they were under the tree waiting for Saturday’s predicted rain. I had planted most of the rest of my raised-from-seeds seedlings but there were still a few plants that I had to drag into the garage. Including that rosebush!

The next morning I noticed that one of the cells where I had planted hyacinth beans looked like it had a seed sprouting. A sprout with  two eyes? Something wasn’t right. Turns out the little frog had found a bed for the night but before I could put my palm over his temporary quarters, he jumped out and disappeared again. It was raining and the prediction was for it to continue all day. I’ll be prepared for him in the morning and try to return him (or her) to the native habitat.

In the meantime I was working on the draft of the third book in my Romantic Suspense series. Late in the afternoon when I had left the office I was sitting in the living room reading. My husband was watching the news (turned up because his hearing aids are about to quit). Suddenly I had an idea about the plot of the book I was writing. I have learned from bitter experience that I need to get up immediately and write it down because if I don’t it will probably NOT come back to me. How this new plot twist insinuated its way between a thriller novel and political talking heads astounds me, but it did. I’ll work on that, and the frog, tomorrow.

Sunday morning update: checked for frog but didn’t see any evidence it had checked into the frog motel overnight. If it’s not raining hard today I may leave the garage door open and perhaps he will leave. I don’t want to find him dried up behind the paint cans.

Monday morning update: still no frog and still raining. That rosebush may not get planted until July.

 

One Thing Leads to Another

You know how this goes. You want to get a project finished, but before you can really start there are other things that have to be done.

The project: fill the window boxes in the front of the house.

Last Thursday the Green Thumb Garden group of the St. Michaels Woman’s Club took a bus trip to London Town in Edgewater, MD. We had the first day with no rain in 20 days. After touring Londontown and its beautiful, soggy gardens we boarded the bus to Homestead Gardens in Davidsonville, MD. We were there to shop! The bus had loads of room underneath and Homestead Gardens has a fabulous selection of plants for my window boxes. Oh, and llamas and alpacas.

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I wanted to find a replacement Golden Showers rose. It’s a pillar rose and the one I have is ten years old and showing its age. Three years ago I ordered another one from Wayside Gardens to put in as a replacement. It has not done well. And the three Fairy roses I ordered from Wayside the same year have never bloomed! I am not ordering plants from Wayside again anytime soon.

Homestead was very low on climbing roses and did not stock Golden Showers. I bought a pink climber to try. I also was in the market for annuals to fill the window boxes on the front of the house. Homestead had Sunpatiens – a new cultivar of New Guinea impatiens that does well in the sun. So I bought 15 which is what I need for the five window boxes. I fill in with some other things – so I bought more plants.

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Before I began on the window boxes I needed to plant that rose. I started to dig a hole but the ground was so wet that I abandoned that and will try again when things have dried out. See all those maple tree helicopters. That’s another project with the blower, but requires the fliers to be dry.

Now I had the plants, but before I could plant the window boxes I had to make sure the drip irrigation system was working. That required a trip to the store for new 9V batteries. I have two drip irrigation systems. One for the window boxes and one for the raised veggie beds. The systems have timers which need to be set for day, time of irrigation and number of minutes. But before you can do that you have to set the time and day you are setting up the system. All this is done using five little buttons. Something has to be blinking before you can program it. Since I do this once a year I never can remember the sequence. Even with the instructions it’s daunting. However this year I resolved to program the darn things before I put them on the hose. Every year in the past I’ve installed them and then ended up lying on my back trying to figure it out. Result: lots of cursing and plants getting watered at strange times.

irrigation sideways tweaked

So now the gizmo is programed and ready to be attached to the hose. It’s really windy today, so I’ll wait until tomorrow. Then I need to turn it on and see if there are any leaks in the system. Then I can  plant my window boxes. The weather forecast is for cold night temps tonight. I don’t want to put the boxes out and have them blasted. Tomorrow might be a good day. Those window boxes will be in by the end of May.

I still have to program the system for the raised veggie beds and test it. I know there is a major leak in one of the big hoses. Damn squirrels chewed it last fall. But, of course, I didn’t put a piece of tape around it so have to turn on the system and be prepared to get wet while I hunt for the leak. Like I said, one thing leads to another. But I am going to get the system set up before I attach it to the hose outlet. I do occasionally learn to work smarter.

Note: The bunnies have found my raised veggie beds. The BB gun is coming out of the closet.

 

We Should Have Moved the Tree

I have a small weeping Japanese maple in my garden. I bought it as a rooted stick at the Philadelphia Flower Show twenty years ago. When we moved to St. Michaels ten years ago, the tree came with us. It liked the place I planted it and has thrived.

When I put in my raised vegetable beds there was plenty of room between the end of the bed and the small tree. Five years later the tree was encroaching on the bed and I was afraid I’d break something every time used that shortcut to get to other parts of the garden.

moving the raised bed

My husband and I looked at it and I decided we needed to move the garden bed. This required removing most of the dirt out of the bed. The drip irrigation system will have to be reworked as well. We started shoveling yesterday. It was warm and late afternoon and in the sun. We didn’t last very long.

This morning we worked again. Cooler, not in the sun, but we still had to sit down every once in a while. Sitting at the computer does not prepare you for this kind of work. I reminded myself it was that horrid cardio I’m supposed to get in every day. It had rained last night so the dirt stuck to the shovels like heavy, wet snow. We made a lot of progress and got the bed mostly emptied, levered up with bricks underneath.

Tomorrow we’ll see if we can move the wooden frame two feet away from the tree. At one point, on my knees in the mud, I said to my husband, “It would have been easier to move the tree.” He looked at me and said, “I didn’t know that was an option.”  I rocked back on my heels and wondered. Was moving the tree really an option? Probably not. But at that moment, I might have been persuaded.