Backyard progress: the end of grading

When we finished the side yard, I had the happy thought that we wouldn’t have to do all the dreadful digging when we renovated the backyard. That wasn’t entirely true. The four inches of dirt we excavated from the side yard ended up in a pile in the backyard, and so we did dig for the back yard project. In this case, it was digging to move dirt around, which is slightly less taxing than excavating.

Here’s what things looked like early on. You can see the dirt mound at the apex of the yard. That had to be smoothed out. In grading the yard, we ended up adding dirt to the part of the yard nearest the house and taking it away from the part farthest from the house. The added dirt came from the mound. Plus, there was the excavating of asparagus roots. That was full-on hard digging.

But look!  We have finished. Matt stands where the mound used to be!

From the other end of the yard. You can see how we had to pile up the dirt near the point of our triangle in order to excavate it to the proper depth. You can also see the piece of plywood that served as our tamper. Plywood and body weight does the trick.

You can also see that the asparagus crowns have taken hold.

Here is our “mothership” stake. That was the stake most likely to not be disturbed, so we measured from it to find our proper grade.

I’m happy to have gotten through this phase of the project.

Postcards rotated

I think the last time I rotated the postcards was 2015. I remember doing it on the weekend before I started my job at Sabin, having just quit the Emerson School. Let’s look back at the blog and see if I’m right.  Indeed!  It has been more that 2.5 years!

So here is the new setup. Once I was done I realized I put them up in the wrong order, so the oldest are on the second row, right side, and then they work their way to the newest, which are the top row, left side.

Matt’s only question was “Where did the PCC come from?”  As chronicled here, they were from Sara, and they look great on the wall, just as she imagined.

New place for photos

It took a long time to figure out where these photos should go.  I didn’t want them above the TV anymore. We discussed having them on the wall under the heat pump, but I eventually discarded that idea because I thought it was too close to the kitchen and I would have to scrub grease off of them on a regular basis.

Instead, I put them above the bathroom door and above the picture that hides the fuse box.

Now they are still hanging around, but not quite so prominent.

It was good to get this project done.  I had to take a day off of work to do it, but it was worth it.

New display shelves for the living room

When we got the new TV in November it messed up the photo display by being too big. The lower photos in the display were blocked by its massive size.  I took everything down and the photos sat for a few months while I figured out what to do.

The other thing that happened is that we lost the display space on top of the television. (Flat screen drawback!) I had been displaying my postcards and a rotation of photos that had rotated out of the photo mobile.  Not to mention birthday cards. Where are we going to put those now?

The blank space above the TV is still there.  Nothing yet has moved me to fill it. But I did install two floating shelves, one each for postcards and photo, and reinstalled the fancy decorative shelf with photo frames we received as gifts at a wedding (that couple has long since divorced, but their wedding gifts live on). Here’s the long (blurry, sorry) shot:

And here’s the close-up view.

That stack of photos only looked like that for a few days.  I had the windows open, and kept hearing a strange noise at odd intervals.  Eventually I wandered over and discovered that the photos had been being blown off their perch one by one.  They are now sitting in the same folding holder they used to be in and that keeps them safe from the wind.

One week with the Roomba

It’s been a week of Rudy! Rudy! Rudy! taking care of the floors and I can say that it has never been so clean under my bed.  Under the couch is probably looking good too.

Rudy takes a long time to do his job. He’s supposed to run for an hour and then return home, but most days he runs for an hour, I get a notification he’s done and then he runs for another 45-60 minutes.  I don’t love this.

I have to do about 5-10 minutes of prep work for Rudy.  Here you see the most extreme version.  He tends to get caught on the Ikea chair, though–report from the future–in about another week I will realize I can prop the back legs of the chair up on 1-cup mason jars and he will be fine.

Reading all the reviews on Amazon, I was worried he wouldn’t clean this carpet.  The sensor that keeps him from falling down stairs might have interpreted this as a void, but he is not deterred.

Antares mostly still hides while Rudy is doing his cleaning, but Sentinel will sometimes keep an eye on the vacuuming process.

And Rudy! Rudy! Rudy! still spends a goodly amount of time trying to figure out how to get out from under chairs.

While I am not completely in love with the robot vacuum cleaner itself, I do like the clean floors.  Perhaps my affection will grow.

Progress on the backyard project

In two hours, we got some good work done on our backyard. Here you can see Matt smoothing out dirt we’ve moved to bring the grade up. We put strings on our stakes and made things level. Also, this is the widest part of the yard we have to grade, so that means that the work from here on out will go even more quickly.

I couldn’t bear to kill off the asparagus that has performed so well for me for so many years. So my job was digging up the old crowns and putting them in the trench I dug to plant the new crowns.

The old crowns are huge, especially in comparison to the spindly new crowns.
Here you can see one of the new stalks poking its head above the ground.

Once again the rain part of the day started after we finished our work. Good job, weather.

Backyard Rehab Report: 4/22/18

We started by weeding the side yard.  No weeds are happening in the path we put in last fall, but a lot of weeds were happening between the path and the house, where things need to be planted.

Next we put up our stakes.  We have stakes about four feet apart and then rows about five feet apart.  This way, as we level we can slope the dirt 1/2″ every row. We learned that the sledgehammer is the fastest at getting those stakes in the ground.

We even had time to move some dirt from the mound to a shallow depression in the yard.  This meant moving the chunks of concrete into a yellow recycling bin. We will need to discard the concrete chunks. Perhaps by slowly adding them to the garbage.

Excavating the dirt mound also involved digging up the asparagus crowns that have grown in the raised bed since 2009 or so.  They were originally planted in Leo’s yard in 2008. It physically hurt to dig up one of those crowns and discard it.

Still, it’s good to get started on the mound going away.  I’m looking forward to having a nice backyard to hang out in.

Also!  The rhubarb has returned! Both plants.  The one on the right side of the yard, closer to the shorter fence, emerged about three weeks after the one on the left next to the taller fence.  Guess which side gets the most sun.

We try Thai Rolled Ice Cream

My first encounter with Thai Rolled Ice Cream was at the Minnesota State Fair. I did not stand in line to have some–the line was long–but I did get a good overview of the situation because they were stationed right below an escalator so I got a birds-eye view as I was headed down.

There’s a shop now in Portland, so I was excited to try this and avoid the line.  We failed at avoiding the line–it was a very sunny and warm spring day and the shop was full.  But we did get ample opportunity to watch our treat being made.

Liquid is ladled onto a very cold disk and things are added in.  I got the Oreo one, so mine had a crushed up Oreo. Then the mixture is spread into a square and carefully rolled into five rolls, which are placed in the cup.

You can then add three toppings, a sauce, and some whipped cream.

Matt opted to skip the whipped cream, and so you can see his banana and Nutella ice cream rolls much better.

While it was fun to watch the creation of this dessert, I didn’t love the flavor of the lactose-free “ice cream.”

OHS Civil Rights Exhibit

Matt and I had a date at the Oregon Historical Society to see Racing to Change: Oregon’s Civil Rights Years.

It was a good exhibit.  Both of us were left with the depressing feeling that not much has changed since the 1960s and 1970s.

An example: This is from the October 1966 Black Panther Party Platform and Program.  The Black Panthers were talking about police brutality 52 years ago.  How much has changed on that front?

Here’s a picture of houses and businesses in the thriving Black community in the Vancouver/Williams area. The 188 shaded houses and several businesses were claimed through eminent domain and torn down for the expansion of Legacy Emmanuel Hospital, an expansion that never came.  The Oregonian featured one woman’s story on July 6, 2017.  “City policy cost 98-year-old black woman her home. Here’s why she won’t get it back.”

We learned about the tense relationship between police and the black community including police officers taking part in racist harassment, being fired and the police taking part in a “Cops Have Rights Too” rally. The officers were reinstated.
An observation by Avel Gordly

Instructions for what to do when stopped by the police which are still the same instructions given today. Point #12 was interesting advice about how to sit in the police car more comfortably.

Also this great letter from the chairperson of the Black Justice Committee, who opens with an apology and acknowledgment that putting together the monthly mailing is “a big drag.”  This made me laugh.

The exhibit ends with ways to work for change.

Lighting update: we now live in the future

The entire 10+ years we have lived in our house, our porch light has not functioned very well. When we flip the switch, the light comes on about 15% of the time. We eventually stopped flipping the switch. We live on a major street. It is not at all dark on our front steps. Calling an electrician to fix the problems was very far down on the list.

I contemplated installing a motion sensor light, but that was also quite far down on the list. Luckily, technology caught up with my needs.

The light that is coming from that porch light is an LED bulb that has a motion sensor built in! All I had to do was screw the bulb in, flip on the light and wait for it to get dark. It now turns on and off automatically. This was the best $12 I have ever spent.