Saturday, January 23, 2010

Things Are Moving

Things are, indeed, moving along in the lighting department. After spending many hours online looking at chandeliers. Too many, too much lighting, too many shades. Finally found a great little light. So it is on the way. Then today Missie mentioned that perhaps the downlight would be annoying to sit under. Have no fear, the lights appear to be up or down lights, adjustable. I'm praying that is the on that I ordered. I'll check again tonight.
Another challenge faced: Learning to prune roses. Santino never learned, he just followed his instincts and all turned out well. My instincts have never been strong in the pruning department. (Best example my last year's fruit tree pruning. No fruit or too much fruit.) So I went to the Master Gardeners' class today. So much to learn, but since they were working on real plants, I could see what they were talking about, such as, old wood, dead wood, smiles, eyes, bypass pruners, loppers.
So I went to Lowe's and now I own goat skin gloves and bypass pruners. My Penelope rose has been given a severe trimming. The St. Patrick and Honor roses are shadows of their previous selves. The miniatures have disappeared. And I discovered that my oldest rose, is no longer anything but rootstock. The union may have been eliminated in my last pass two years ago.
Found my latest challenge in the guest room yesterday, damp papers on the file cabinet. Seems water got into the air vents during the big wind/rain storm that passed our way. Drip, drip, drip! Ugh!!

Saturday, January 9, 2010

The Chandelier Challenge

I'm so excited! I have 3 followers. It's great to have family.

This is what I'm dealing with this weekend. 6 years ago, Santino tried to replace the central lightbulb. Of course, it broke off at the base. So he resorted to the old potato in the light base to unscrew the broken bulb screwy part. Result: broken potato. Next step, take the dang thing apart and approach it from a different angle.
No go.
I have been living with, but not looking at a cockeyed chandelier for 6 years. Today, I'm online and maybe onhighway--in search of a replacement. Hopefully I'll have a picture of the replacement before the weekend is over. Not so sure.

Weather up-date. Is it as bleak where you are as in Ione? We've been overcast all week. I need full spectrum lighting to keep me feeling cheery. Maybe they will have that as a bonus where I'm going to shop. Wish me luck. Penny

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Some Sunday's are Productive

Just as I thought I was getting somewhere with my challenges, I woke up tired. Not wanting to tackle any problems.

So I spent the day sewing shopping bags and making fleece scarves for my class. My shopping bag project is to give friends and family a shopping bag that is fancier than your standard supermarket reusable bag. Read about this project at I'm about half way through my list. They are really elegant.
The scarves are a semi-tradition of mine. Every year I have my class write at least 5 Thank You notes for their Christmas presents. On Friday we walk downtown to the Post Office and the kids buy stamps and mail their letters. Since it's usually cold, every few years I make scarves for the class. I'll post pictures after our Field Trip.

I thought last night that I need to make a list of small challenges (projects) for the house.
In no particular order:
1. Replace the grid on the glass door to my bedroom.
2. Buy and install a new light fixture for the dining room.
3. Finish setting up drip irrigation in front and back yards.
4. Finish pruning the peach and plum trees.
5. Make the guest room into a guest room, not a storage room.
6. Plan the garden for spring.
7. Finish all the sewing projects I have bought fabric for.
8. Plant something in the two other 1/2 wine barrels in the backyard.
9. Recaulk the bathtub.
10. Spray the fruit trees.
11. Buy and hang curtains for Kate's room.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Challenge #1 Backyard/deck

Challenge #1 The Deck and non-landscaped backyard
As I mentioned, my greatest challenge right now is deciding what to do with my backyard. I've called landscapers who do not call back. I've gotten a bid for over $10,000 to replace the deck, in its original configuration. I've waffled.

The green you see is not grass, but weeds and acorns. Both of which are a pain come Spring. Along the fence I have planted some roses, a lilac, two daphne. The large camellia has been there for 20+ years. It does OK under the oak tree. There are 3 12x3 raised beds that are also coming apart and need to be replaced.

Santino and I called the back deck the Bridge of Sighs. When we moved in, in 1989, there was plenty of room for the oak tree to grow inside the deck. As it grew more, we cut away the hole to give the tree room. Santino cut right up to the footers and then stopped. As time went on, the tree lifted the deck to the nice arch that you now see. There are also boards that have pulled away from the deck and rotted areas. The lattice is a mess. Time to make a decision. I don't want to girdle the tree. But I don't know if $10,000 is best spent replacing the deck as it is now. Maybe I should shrink the deck, only have deck and railing around the tree. I'm stuck. Any ideas?

Challenge #2--Johnson Giant Bartlett pear tree

Let me talk a little about the tree closer to the house. That is a "Johnson Giant" pear tree. Long before I knew much about ranches, pears, grafting, etc (not that I know anything now). my father found a sport branch on one of his pear trees in the orchard. He realized that this branch produced giant Bartlett pears. So he grafted it to root stock, took it to UC Davis, developed it and then patented this type of pear. He sold his patent to Stark Bros. Nursery, who sold it on dwarf and semi dwarf trees. I bought one for Santino for one of his birthdays. Evidently, I'm the only one in the family who has one of the trees. And I have not been too lucky with it. Santino harvested 25 giants one year weighing at least a pound a piece. I have been able to grow only "rat tails". My pear growing relatives find this hilarious.

The tree is infested with coddling moths. So I have learned to spray the tree. First I used copper sulfate and smothered the little eggs. Now I need to spray with dormant oil, twice before Valentines Day. Maybe tomorrow.

I did prune the tree early to get rid of as many moth eggs as possible. Any comments on my pruning job?

Enough challenges for today. More to come as they begin to bug me. Penny

Friday, January 1, 2010

Starting Somewhere

Everyone has to start somewhere. I'm tired of having all these questions and not having anyone to bounce them off of. So I woke up this morning, 1-1-10, and decided to create a blog. Not that my life is so interesting, but my challenges are not so unusual. Someone out there may have perspective on the challenges, especially in prioritizing them.

It has taken me a year to describe myself this way: Widow, homeowner, Baby Boomer, Italian teacher, inexperienced urban farmer.
Challenges: maintaining a house, replacing a deck, landscaping yard, pruning and spraying 7 fruit trees and 10+ grapevines, planting rose bands, planning my retirement (or not).

Here are some of the questions I've been wrangling with:
What should I do first? Landscape backyard, replace 1/2 or all of the deck, insulate the ceiling, paint the inside of house, more to come.
How do you get a landscaper to respond to your call?
How do you caulk a bathtub and not have the caulking pop off when you get in and take a bath?
How should I or do I rearrange the plants in the front yard?
Should I paint the interior? The exterior was painted 3 or 4 yrs. ago. Inside never in 22 years.
How do I organize my hobby room?
When do I prune and spray fruit trees? Some of this I know, the rest I'm unsure of.

This week I hope to work on prioritizing my questions and dividing the projects into seasons.
Let me hear from you.