Wednesday, February 10, 2016

For Love of Roses

I ordered two new roses yesterday from For Love of Roses, a nursery in Tennessee.

One is 'Candy Cane', a rare climbing miniature rose that I used to have.  It died, because I didn't make a spot for it in the garden and I left it in its too-small pot too long.  My fault, and I've been disappointed in myself for being so neglectful.

The other one is 'Dorothy Rose' ... which happens to be our Dorothy's full name, though there is no connection between our cat and this rose.

I have lusted after 'Dorothy Rose' for a while, but it has not been in commerce until now.  A rose friend in California sent cuttings to me once, but none of them rooted for me.  

For Love of Roses is a nursery that fills a desperate need in the rose world, specializing in Miniature, Miniflora, and Single-flowered roses.  Many of these roses are not available anywhere else.  They truly do this for the LOVE of roses.  I am happy do what I can to send to attention their way, and to order their roses for my garden.  (My new roses will ship on April 20.  I will be holding my breath till then.  I'm SO excited!!)

Monday, February 8, 2016

All I Wanted to Do Was Put Up Some Shelves ...

Old house people will be familiar with the theme of this story ... it's rare for a project in an old house to progress on schedule or as planned.  

Around here, dealing with stashes of materials for various projects is a real problem.  For example, I have siding from the Shack stacked on the floor of my workshop, parts of the trim for our stairs piled in a corner, and baseboard and casing molding from our living room leaned into a corner in the garage.

A few weeks ago, I saw THIS post over at Follow Your Heart Woodworking.  Julie built a genius lumber rack for her workshop.  I planned to use this idea to get my own materials off the floor and organized on narrow shelves on the wall of our basement hallway.  All I had to do was locate the wall's framing, screw a piece of slat-board to the wall (like I did in the garage in THIS post from 2009), slip in a few shelf brackets (which I have on hand), sort my materials onto the new shelves, then stand back and admire the results.  You have probably already guessed that this is NOT what happened.

The basement wall in question has two layers of drywall on it, which are attached to furring strips applied over a coating of gypsum plaster, which was applied over the original lime-washed brick ... I know this because of other basement walls that we have worked on.  Drywall Layer #2, the outer-most layer, was only secured with glue and a few screws.  I figured that I should remove it to have better access and a more secure attachment to the furring strips that were behind Drywall Layer #1.  As I was pulling off chunks of Layer #2, I realized that Layer #1 was poorly secured, too.  Dang it!!

This is as close as I can get to a Before photo.  The green that you see is the lower-most layer of drywall.  The upper-most layer is somewhere under that pile of stuff on the floor.

Turns out that there was very little left of the furring strips that were intended to secure Layer #1 to the wall, and the gypsum plaster at the bottom of the wall behind all of this had completely separated from the underlying brick.

Bottom portion of one of the furring strips.

Two more furring strips, totally decayed.  The black that you see is creosote, which was supposed to help the wood resist moisture.

Gypsum plaster is good for a lot of things, but applying it in damp environments is a total no-no.  Lime plaster would have been a better choice.  (This old house of ours is made entirely of soft brick, which is known to soak up water like a sponge.  This causes a condition called "rising damp".  Any water around or underneath the house is absorbed, transferred up the walls by capillary action, then dissipates as vapor.)  The former owners of our house who finished the basement early in the 20th century and used the gypsum plaster on the walls were probably not aware that they should be concerned with this.  (For the record, we have never had any standing water in this basement, neither did the family that owned the place before us.  I don't know about the experience of any other owners.)

See how the gypsum plaster has totally separated from the brick.

The gypsum plaster slumped and cracked, and fell away.

As the water vapor exits the bricks, it carries minerals from the plaster and mortar with it, leaving behind crystals called efflorescence.

How about some really scary electrical stuff?  (Not to worry, we recognized this a long time ago and disconnected it.)

Look at the rust on that electrical box!

The next photo shows drywall layers and furring strips are down ... next step was removing the loose gypsum plaster, with a hammer and 5-in-1 tool ... then the big job of cleaning up my mess (which I did not photograph).

About three hours after the project started, I was left with this ... a mostly-bare brick wall, and no shelves.

We like the look of the original brick, and leaving it exposed to allow for unrestricted flow of vapor is healthier for the house.  The other side of the basement hallway and most of our game room is already like this.  Eventually, we plan to remove the rest of the drywall and plaster, to expose the brick throughout the entire basement and return it to more of its original appearance.

Game room wall.

Game room wall.

Basement stairs.

After all of this effort, I scrapped the idea of making this into a materials storage wall.  The plan was going to be a temporary solution anyway, so now I will brainstorm and come up with another idea to organize my materials and supplies.  

What's the Take Away lesson in this story?  Covering up a problem (with multiple cover-ups, in this case) won't make it go away.

Postscript ... When I went upstairs after I finished all the banging and hammering, this was the scene in the family room.

It's good to know that Ruby and Winnie weren't bothered by all the noise.

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Be the Change

This meme floated across my Facebook feed the other day, and I saved it to share it here because I identify with it so completely.

It sounds so simple, and it is.  All it takes is a minor adjustment in attitude to bring so much reward ... smile, look on the bright side, be thankful, greet strangers, let a car or two ahead of you in traffic.  There may be days when positive things are harder to find, but it's worth your effort to look for whatever slight glimmer of something in the chaos to be thankful for.

"We can complain because rose bushes have thorns, or rejoice because thorn bushes have roses."
-Abraham Lincoln

I choose to rejoice.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Planting Roses in the Cleared Section of the Rose Field

When you last saw the Rose Field, I had cleared the weeds from one of the reworked planting areas.  (To see the post where I showed you this part of the story, click HERE)  A week and a half ago, a few days before our recent blizzard, I had a day of favorable weather and time in my schedule.  I used that day to finish the cleared area and to get some roses planted in there.

The roses in question are all once-bloomers, all of which have been kept in small pots for WAY too long.  I only have positive IDs on three of them, having bought them from nurseries as named varieties ... they are:  'Malton', 'Capitaine Basroger', and 'Crimson Globe'.  (Highlighted rose names in this post are links to more information about that rose on its Help Me Find page.)

'Malton', as photographed in Hollywood Cemetery.

Seven of the roses are Found Roses, unknown varieties that I either bought or raised from cuttings.  

"Warrenton Shailer's Provence" (from cuttings taken in a cemetery in Warrenton, Virginia)
"Maureen's Rose" (from cuttings given to me by a nursery customer.  It's probably a form of 'Banshee')
"Teresa's Rose" (another rose grown from cuttings given to me by a former nursery customer)
"Nathalie's High Hills" (Hybrid China)
"Dr. Peck's 12th Avenue Smoothie" (Hybrid China, from the historic Sacramento City Cemetery)
"Millbrook Gallica" (discovered at a historic estate in Virginia)
"Jeanette's Striped Rose" (grown from cuttings given to me by a friend)

That bud is so typical of 'Banshee'

The remaining three roses are ones that had identities at one time, but each of them now has a faded tag or no tag at all.  I have kept them separate from the rest of my potted roses, so I can watch them and try to do what I can to figure out what they are.  (I have photos of two of the three.)

The prep and planting process was very straight forward.  It didn't take long to lay landscape fabric on the cleared 11-foot by 28-foot area and secure it with ground staples. 

Next, I laid out the roses ... hoping like crazy that six-foot centers is enough space for each of them. I'm a bit nervous about what the unknown ones are going to do as they grow.  

I used the rim of a large pot as a template for the holes in the landscape fabric ...

... dug holes, then planted the roses.  Right now, it looks like a weird garden of sticks spaced WAY too far apart.  

These roses are very cold-hardy, and they should be perfectly fine being planted in January.  They're better in the ground like this than if they were still living in their pots.  For now, they will continue to sleep for the rest of the winter ... and I look forward watching them, now that they can finally spread their roots and grow into mature plants.

(This is the first of a series of posts to tie up some loose ends, finish a story or two, and catch everyone up on the stuff that's been going on this winter.)

Monday, January 25, 2016

Greetings From Blizzard Central

The Mid-Atlantic Blizzard of 2016.  It's been all over the national news for a week or more ... before, during, and (now) after the event.  We get measurable snow here regularly during an average winter, but this much snow, and a storm of this magnitude, is extremely rare for us.

Settle in and let me tell you all about it.

Friday ... We had a beautiful sunrise on Friday morning.  Made me think of the old rhyme:  "Red sky in the morning, sailors take warning."

In preparation, we stocked up on anything that we needed in case we were snowed in for a few days.  I made a quick stop at the grocery store on Friday morning, to grab the last couple of things that I had forgotten to buy earlier in the week.  The weather soothsayers were warning that we should EXPECT to lose power, so we were prepared for that, too.

The snow was predicted to begin at noontime, and it did ... gently, at first.  The first of my snow progress photos from the front porch was taken at 12:30 pm.  I took another photo every hour as long as we had daylight.  I also planted a yardstick in the front yard, to keep track of how much snow accumulated.

12:30 pm

1:30 pm

2:30 pm

3:30 pm

4:30 pm

5:15 pm

Friday evening and all through the night, the wind blew, the snow fell, and our power stayed ON.

Saturday morning.  The wind was howling and the snow was blowing ... total on the Snow Stick at 7:30 am was fourteen inches.  At 8:00 it was thirteen inches.  All the blowing and drifting meant that it was going to be impossible to get an accurate reading of total snowfall, no matter where I measured,  Oh, well.

7:30 am

11:30 am

3:30 pm ... blowing like crazy!

From time to time, on both Friday and Saturday, my husband or I would go out and shovel our porch and the front steps.

First, shovel ...

... then, sweep.

And the snow continued to fall.

Thank goodness for a very timely post that a friend shared last week on Facebook, with a genius idea to help with providing a place for Winnie to do her 'business' during the storm.  We secured a small tarp to the ground before it started snowing, in a spot convenient to the back door.  Whenever Winnie needed to go out, we shoveled and/or swept the snow off the tarp and peeled it back, exposing bare ground.

This tarp idea was a lifesaver!!

Sweep off any accumulated snow between turn outs,

fold back the tarp, and Winnie had bare ground so she could do her 'business'.

Ruby has never minded or had a problem with snow.  She found that the snow in the area near the fence is shallower, and she runs out, does her thing, and comes right back.  She's such a good girl.

At least twice during the day on Saturday, I saw our farmer neighbor from up the road ... out with his big John Deere, doing what he could to help keep our road passable.

Saturday afternoon, into Saturday evening, it kept snowing ... sometimes to the point where it was difficult to see to the road.

Despite the fury of the wind and snow outside, the humans and critters inside were warm and safe.  Late Saturday night, the snow and wind finally stopped.  It had snowed heavily and continuously for 35 hours (from 12:30 pm on Friday to 11:30 pm on Saturday.)  No power outage ... for that, I am thankful.

Sunday, we woke to bright blue sky and the promise of a beautiful Dig-Out Day.  The Snow Stick showed seventeen inches of snow, with drifts in places that looked to be twice that high.

View through the dining room window, with a sunbeam illuminating our barn.

The ridges and rolls in our flat front yard show just how much the snow blew and drifted during the storm.

We were a little bit ahead of the digging out, having kept our porch and steps shoveled and swept like we did during the storm itself.  My husband headed to the garage to get the snow-blower, and our daughter and I started with the front walk and our cars.

The dry, powdery snow sent up quite a plume with the snow blower!

Front walk and steps, all cleared!

Next, we shoveled a path to clear the cars.

The bright sunshine soon melted any remaining snow on surfaces that we cleared.

He's still blowing snow from the driveway.

All of this activity kept Dorothy and Alice quite entertained.

With the steps, front walk, and cars cleared, I turned my attention to freeing the dryer vent ... which was somewhere down a half-flight of steps to the moat in front of our house, and underneath a five-foot snow drift.  There's nothing like knowing that I can't do something (in this case, laundry) to make me obsess about wanting to do it.

The vent is down there somewhere, but the snow is so big and so deep and so tall!

Success!  (green arrow indicates the vent).

After a lot of blowing and shoveling, which took us until mid-afternoon, we were completely dug out ... just in time to spend the rest of the day watching football.

Look carefully and you'll see our daughter in the distance, touching up the last of the snow on that end of our circular driveway.

This morning (Monday) dawned much like it had on Friday ... with a beautiful, but more gentle, sunrise.  I put on my coat and walked to the street, taking in the unique atmosphere that comes with a clear morning and a thick coating of fresh snow.

Sunrise was mostly pink and purple this morning ...

... casting a rosy glow onto our house ...

... with beautiful, diffused light reflected by the fresh snow.

Hello, Moon.

We were very lucky during this storm, to have everything prepared ahead of time and no responsibilities outside besides the potty needs of our dogs.  Our neighbors with horses and other livestock have some hairy stories to tell about keeping their critters safe ... there were even a couple of horse rescues.  In the end, we all helped each other as best we could, and everyone (and every critter) were safe.

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