Bluebird Down

The pursuit of domestic bliss, one glorious debacle at a time.

Extreme Makeover: Backyard Edition August 1, 2011

Dank. Dark. Pretty freakin’ scary – even in the daylight. That was our garage. Then one lucky day in April a ginormous tree fell on our rat den. From the proverbial ashes, my vision of a Backyard BBQ Palace has risen.

 

We were so happy the day we closed on our first house that we didn't care that the previous owner left 40 years worth of junk in the detached garage.

 

 

Happiness turned to disbelief as it took us an entire weekend to rip out the makeshift work benches and haul the dilapidated wood out to the curb. The neighbors were thrilled it took the city three weeks to pick it up.

 

 

After the clean-up. We thought it would be a good idea to leave at least one work bench. Not that smart. It was so rotten and covered with decaying bug bodies that no one went near it.

 

 

A message left from a past resident. I suspect they mean "Daddy" rather than "Dade," but I could be wrong. Either way, the kid can't spell.

 

 

Told you a ginormous tree fell on our garage. This was before it really settled in.

 

 

It took 10 days of men working from early morning to late afternoon to replace the roof. It's probably the best roof ever built.

 

 

The swanky new roof covering a cavernous wasteland inside.

 

 

Let the painting commence! I probably don't deserve a husband that not only tolerates, but participates, in my harebrained schemes.

 

 

Three buckets of paint and four trips to Home Depot later, the walls are nice and white. Floor ready to be primed and painted.

 

 

Fully painted garage. Yes, that is a blue floor. Thanks for asking. I was trying to decide if the wall tapestry we brought back from St. Lucia would work with our new digs or if it just makes us look like a backyard militia. If it does, we'd be the only militia representing with hand painted linen.

 

 

Z put the flying pig welcome sign above the garage door. That's love.

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Ode to the Power Washer July 14, 2011

After several weeks of lackadaisical effort on the back yard renovation, we kicked it into high gear today by power washing the interior and exterior the garage. So what, you say. You don’t know awesome, I say. Power washing is fun! To make it more clear, power washers are the high-grade heroin of the OCD elite. I can now understand, without prejudice, why George the Handyman tripled my water bill a few summers ago after he bought his first power washer. I mean, those babies can move some dirt — like in an infomercial!

Announcer: Look at how disgusting and dirty this garage floor is!
Audience: Eww!!!
Announcer: But wait… apply water directly from the So Awesome It’s Better Than Heroin Power Washer 2500 and – viola! – sparkling clean and just like new!

Audience: *Squeal with delight!* Applause, applause! *Squeal with delight!*

It’s addicting. I watched Zef wash down one wall and desperately wanted to try it out. “Let me use it!,” I pleaded. “No, you manage the hose,” he said as he turned the corner. I’m pretty sure he felt a tantrum coming on, so he handed over the reigns. “I have to go pick up Pete! anyway.” Sure. Sucker.

 

Right before Z turned over the reigns.

 

My favorite part was hosing down the dilapidated metal door. It had at least 25 years of dirt crusted on it. I was very methodical — right to left, inch by inch. It was very cathartic! Of course, I was doused by water and mud and paint chips (most likely lead based). It was in my hair, all over my t-shirt, a couple chunks got in my eyes. But that’s the price you pay for good time. I made it halfway through the garage interior because Z came back with Pete! and took over.

Sunday is garage painting day. I most likely will not be participating in those festivities. Z is renting a power painter. The Home Depot guy advised against a power painter in an enclosed space, but then agreed when Z said the garage ceiling had exposed roofing nails. He walked Z over the biohazard suits complete with goggles and dust mask. I giggled while Zef looked defeated. I can’t wait. I’ll take lots of photos.

 

Sparkleeeeeey clean!

 

Finally Finished Reading: Bossypants by Tina Fey

Currently Reading: Stories I Only Tell My Friends by Rob Lowe {I bought it as a joke to read aloud to Zef during road trips, but now I feel really obligated to read it since it was $12.99… for an ebook. Highway robbery!}

Training Log: Oh, nothing.

 

The Good, The Bad & The Ugly June 21, 2011

Today was one of the really good days that gets mixed with a little bit of unpleasantness. Can you still call it a really good day if that’s the case? I guess it’s all about perspective. According to Buddha, “Our life is a creation of our mind.” So in the spirit of the moment, a list of the good and the not so good about my day:

GOOD: The restoration of our garage is finally underway. It took so long because Z and I kept forgetting to email the contractor

And the walls came tumbling down... and the walls came tumbling, tumbling... The roof, really, but there aren't any songs about roofs.

back.

BAD: Z and the contractor made me cry. OK, I was being a bit of a baby. At least I didn’t cry until I was alone. I was trying to explain my Vision (with a capital V, thankyouverymuch) for the garage, but they both cut me off with a snap. They shouldn’t have snapped at me, but I shouldn’t have cried either. And Z apologized. I can’t deny it, he’s a good guy.

GOOD: We dropped off a huge load of donations at Salvation Army. The donations were boxed up since our last move and a bit crusty. We dropped them at the back dock and made a run for it. Then we swung by Bell’s Seed for more ferns. Somehow I killed two shade plants by putting them in the shade. The lady at Bell’s was puzzled, but happy to sell me more.

GOOD: We started laying out new mulch in the front yard while the construction guys were demoing the garage. I know I sound like a dork, but I’m deliriously happy about the new mulch. I think the front yard greenery is too. Our plants actually look more green because of it.

GOOD: In honor of the First Day of Summer, I had a most excellent tomato sandwich for lunch.

BAD: The contractor is not digging my Vision for the garage. I want it to look like this. I will deal with him tomorrow.

End of Day 1. Hopefully Pete! won't chew the remaining sections of roof.

GOOD/BAD/UGLY: I had my annual skin cancer screening back in May. The doctor suggested removing several spots of sun damage and moles from my cheeks, forehead and neck — but mostly my cheeks. I had the procedure last week and had the stitches taken out by the nurse this afternoon. I was almost out of the office door when they called me back in to talk to the doctor. One of the spots has suspicious cells. I need another biopsy to determine if my cells were just having a bad day or if it’s something to deal with. I’m not going to lie, this makes me anxious on multiple levels. I already have four knicks in my face and my vanity is offended by having a bigger swatch cut from my cheek. When I made the comment about Frankenstein Face, it was supposed to be a joke, not a request. But as I heard someone say one time, “We don’t cross bridges until we come to them.” And that’s the way I’m going to handle it. [Moral of the Story: Get an annual skin cancer screening. Make an appointment today.]

GOOD: After the doctor’s appointment, I had an appointment for a pedicure. OPI Cha-ching Cherries, y’all.

GOOD: Sitting on the porch, waiting for it to rain, with Z sitting beside me. He’s waiting for the coals to be ready for our Happy-First-Day-of-Summer Hot Dog Dinner: Grilled hot dogs, BBQ potato chips, cold beer and chilled watermelon. Not healthy, but that’s what tomorrows are for.

Happy Summer Solstice!

 

I am the Rose Slayer! June 19, 2011

Filed under: Destruction of Property,Field Trips,Food,Yard Renovation — Teri @ 11:55 am

Cruising through the farmer's market in my new ride.

I got big, shiny gold stars from both Mother Nature and the Domestic Goddess yesterday. Z and I hopped up early to hit the Farmer’s Market. I wanted to take my new bike for a spin and was eager to go, but Z and Pete! the Wonder Pup were lagging behind. I chided them for dragging down our street, so they decided to show off by running the rest of the way. The race was on! And I only ran over their heels once or twice. Pete! thought about diving in the fountain on Hay Street, but then thought better of it once he saw the murky water. Who said that dog is dumb? In our eagerness, we arrived at the farmer’s market early and had to wait 10 minutes for the bell to ring. In the name of all that is holy and fair, the market doesn’t allow any of the farmers to sell goods before the bell rings at 9:00 am. It’s a nice concept and I’m in total agreement with it in October. Not so much in the blazing June sun. I already had our standard Carolina Grown order on it’s way, so I didn’t need much from the market. I picked up corn on the cob for Z, green peppers, kale, potatoes and a great bunch of cut flowers. The family that sells the cut flowers also sells homemade soap and baked goods, along with a few vegetables (probably from a back yard garden rather than a farm). Seriously, these are the most gorgeous flowers. She sells a large bunch for $5.00. All she asks is that you bring the vase back the following week so it can be used again. They are probably my favorite stand because they are such nice people (in a market full of nice people).

Sustainable Sandhills had an at-cost rain barrel and compost machine sale. I have named them Darth Vader and R2D2.

We trudged [OK, I trudged, Z and Pete! ran] back up the hill to the house, dropped of the bike, the dog and the veggies and took off for the rain barrel and compost machine sale. Hey, never let it be said that we don’t know how to have a good time. Z was pretty sure he was walking straight into a eco-terrorist plot but was willing to take the chance to buy a compost machine for kitchen scraps. So maybe I had a slight mishap with the garbage disposal the other day. And maybe I put a lemon down the disposal and jammed it. A whole lemon. Seemed mushy to me. In all fairness, all Z had to do to repair the disposal was fish the lemon out and push the reset button on the bottom of the unit, but from his reaction you would think I had shot his favorite dog. He spent hours muttering, “I can’t believe you did that — a whole lemon?!” Best not to tell him about how I got rid of a watermelon last summer.

While Z was hooking up the rain barrel in the back yard, I decided I had enough of our scary rose bush in the front yard. Many folks have advocated for the life of this rose bush and I had granted clemency against my better judgment. It was the last holdout from the overgrown, mangled mess that we inherited when we bought the house. Taking it down felt good. It was way easier than I thought it would be — couple sharp clips toward the base and a mighty jerk and the bush came tumbling down into the yard on top of me. The thorns took their best shot, but it was worth it. The bush did shade our dining room window against the evening sun — and that will be sorely missed — but I think the yard looks considerably better. Wish I had followed my instincts and took it down years ago.

 

 

 

Every superhero needs a weapon and this Rose Slayer carries the Fiskars Telescoping Lopper.

 

Our front yard on the day we bought the house in June 2009.

Our front yard now.

 

All I really want is a flying pig weathervane. June 18, 2011

Filed under: Field Trips,Yard Renovation — Teri @ 12:37 am

That's actually the middle of the tree - on the garage roof. The garage roof with an awesome new skylight!

Our back yard has looked pretty darn apocalyptic since the our neighbor’s 120+ year old tree decided to go to the Great Tree Farm in the Sky. Despite it’s obvious instability, it was a great shade tree because the limbs hung halfway across our yard. Our house was shaded from the morning sun and the back yard stayed cool even in the heat of the afternoon. Sure, we had splotchy grass, but there is a trade-off for shade when you live in a town that’s four degrees hotter than Hell. Now, with no tree, we have lots and lots of blazing hot sun and a big ol’ hole in our garage roof. We also have overgrown bush-things and a patchwork walkway that intermittently amuses and baffles every workman that enters the back yard. The revitalization plan is to create an outdoor living room with an outdoor kitchen. The detached garage would be converted into a cottage-like extension of the outdoor living area. Sound complicated? Of course it is! Since we plan to do the work ourselves (ha!), Z and I hit the local garden centers today. We didn’t make many decisions (only one, wait, two — ok, maybe three!), but we took lots of photos! A lovely photo essay for your enjoyment:

 

 

We are experts at procrastination. Z loading the bikes into the back of the truck instead of heading to the garden center.

My fabulous new beach cruiser. We stopped by the bike shop before heading to the garden center.

With a detachable basket!

After a trip to the grocery store, we actually conceded and went to the garden center. I like this plant, but I suspect I would kill it.

We even have an opinion about gravel. We like this type. Agreement #1!

Aw, a new St. Francis. I liked him, but he was a tad pricey. So much for the vow of poverty.

Rows and rows of plants to overwhelm and boggle the mind.

“]

Fun -- a peach tree! I wanted it, Z said no. He said no to the apple tree too. I stole an apple from the tree. It was tasty. No Eve references, please. I didn't share.

Blueberry bush, I think. The fruit wasn't ripe enough to sample.

A hammock is a MUST for our new back yard... but maybe not this particular one with it's sticker price of $500.

This is me looking at the one tree we both agreed on. Not a great photo of the tree - or my backside. Agreement #2!

Most comforable porch swing ever. I thought I wanted a wicker porch swing to match the porch furniture, but this swing changed my mind. We just have to figure out the mechanics of replacing the current (and insanely uncomfortable) porch swing with this one. Agreement #3!

Totally getting one. I don't care what Z says.

 

And… we’re back! June 14, 2011

Mysterious, yet stylish.

So it appears my blog is a lot like the summer TV shows — only new during the months from June to August. Consider this my season premiere!

I celebrated the beginning of my summer vacation by having five separate spots of sun damage removed from my forehead and cheeks. I was afraid of coming out of it looking like the Bride of Frankenstein, but thanks to the local anesthesia, I look more like Frankenstein’s basset hound. I’ll be rocking the Jackie O shades for the next week.

Summer vacation is a glorious [and agonizingly short] eight weeks. I have plans. Big plans. OK, not really big plans, but plans, regardless. And because I need to get back on track with my documentary field work and practice my writing, you’ll be privy to all the fun details.

 

Upcoming Episodes:
The Dreaded Fertility Doctor [or Why Can’t We Just Adopt?!]
Renovating the Backyard: Will Z and Teri avoid divorce… and felony charges?
Road Trips!
Training for My First 5K
Planning a Charity Golf Tournament [Who has Xanax?]
And the cliffhanger… Will Teri ever finish a book she starts?

It’s exciting stuff even if I do say so myself. Stay tuned.

 

I’m the scourge of the neighborhood. September 6, 2010

Filed under: Destruction of Property,House Oddities,Yard Renovation — Teri @ 8:11 pm

Partners in Crime: Evil Prickly Bush and the WTF Juniper Bonsai Thing (surrounded by various dead things)

My neighbors eye my yard wearily. My grass is too high. My rose bush is overgrown. There is dead rosemary in the corner. The Evil Prickly Bush leers at me. [I swear that thing drinks blood instead of water.] Simply put, my yard is rough. I’ve wanted to rip up the yard since we bought the house last summer. Zef rolled his eyes and other projects diverted my attention, so Evil Prickly Bush and the WTF Juniper Bonsai Thing have enjoyed a stay of execution.

But it is time, my friends. All mercy has been exhausted.

People on my street take their yards very seriously. As I type, at least three lawn mowers are running and I can see one neighbor digging in her flower beds. It’s clear that Zef and I need to pick up our game. Zef, by the way, declared himself in charge of the yard. This was, I like to remind him, when we lived in a condo. He’s been deployed for most of our time in the house; therefore, he, too, gets a stay of execution — for now.

My living room floor is covered with old copies of Southern Living. I rip out photos of yards I like. The “dang, that looks like a lot of work” photos end up in trash pile with the subscription cards. I’ve been flipping through a gardening book from the 70’s that my mom had sitting on her bookshelf for ages. They were really into scary chemicals back then. I compare the merits of fescue grass seed against Bermuda grass. I calculate the environmental impact of fertilizing. I wander around Bell’s Seed and Owen Garden until I get a headache. Leave it to me to over analyze a flower.

It’s time to start digging and stop pondering. Next weekend.