Monday, September 29, 2014

Progress: Two Steps Forward, One Step Back

Yard update consists of two steps forward, one step back.  Here's the photos for this morning's update.
 Fences, plus gates, on both sides of our property are installed today.  I showed the beginnings of it all in the last post, but here are some photos showing the finished product:

 Dave and I call this the grandchildren's gate, as they like to hike up and around our property, and we needed a way for them to get through.  It's very cute.

Two pallets of flagstone were delivered and laid out.  Of course, being a quilter who works with spatial relationships ALL DAY LONG, many parts of this flagstone "puzzle" are driving me nuts.  I tried to "help" but was shooed away by the cranky foreman (see previous post).  I'll hopefully get the changes made this morning, with Dave's help (he agrees with me).

Look!  My U-shaped "grow boxes," or "raised garden beds."  It only took the owner's intervention to get them made to my specifications.
Some of the boards were cut the wrong size.  Hopefully they'll finish it up today, along with the laying of the flagstone in sand.  To qualify for the city's rebate, we have to have "water permeable hardscape" if we use any at all. So, no concrete in between the stones.

They brought out the larger basin for our water feature and set it in the ground and then worked the flagstone around it.  Then the owner found out which basin they had used, sighed exasperatedly (when I showed him--upon his request), and made them put the correct basin in.  Here's the problem with the flagstone: now it is too far away from the basin.  (see above). Luckily, I have complete faith in this company and have heard many times about how good they are, so I know it will work out.

I know the owner wants to bring in the plants either today or tomorrow, get the irrigation done and the mulch laid.  Then somewhere the sod in the backyard has to happen.  I try to stay in the house as much as possible, and out of the way.
We need green!  I have gotten used to how the dirt looks, but I do miss our greenery. Stay tuned.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Progress Report on the Landscaping Re-do

Goodbye, camellias.

After working steadily on the yard for one day, cutting and ripping out bushes and sod, the next day begins again with the tractor carrying debris to the waiting dumptrucks below.  They have to keep the types of refuse separate: clean green from the other stuff.

As they find the irrigation fixtures, the unscrew them and bring them to a neat pile on my front porch.  They also yanked the hose bib.  This company is first class and I hear them tut-tutting over the way things had been done before by previous installers.  For example, the hose bib should have been sunk in cement, rather than merely affixed to a piece of rebar.

We can now see dirt under all those junipers.  They began cutting at the driveway side, buzz-sawing off the bushes from their roots.  Jesse (the crew chief) told me that he could hear scurrying as the critters that lived in the bush -- I'm guessing mice --  ran for cover.  They saw them run into my neighbor's bushes.  I suppose they'll be back at some point, just hopefully not for a while.

Our across-the-street neighbors are known for their sports-events parties (Super Bowl, etc.).  Tally of the empties that we found in our bushes: 3 wine bottles, 1 water bottle, multiple beer cans, one slip-on tennis shoe, 2 tennis balls and one miniature volleyball.

 Juniper heartwood.

Because most of the sprinkling system is under construction, we have to set the hoses on the trees on a slow drip to water them, so I use Siri to set the timer for long hours.  I think her messages are funny.

The hill, denuded.  They affixed the scooper to the front of the tractor, wrapped a chain around the root and used the backhoe to rip the giant roots out of the hill.  We figure those junipers had been planted about thirty-five years ago.

Cleaned, cleared.  Then I had a few "discussions" with the guy who was our contracting chief about where things should go.  He wanted things here and there and over yonder and way over yonder, but Dave and I had worked on these plans and thought a lot about things and had already done all the "what if" talking.  Sample conversation:
Him: "You know I've won lots of awards, so I have a pretty good idea about how these things should look."
Me:  "No doubt, and we appreciate your expertise.  The sun actually shines brighter over here when you turn onto our street.  But the water feature is staying where it is."
So we walked our yard on Sunday with a tape measure, paper and afterwards, I went in and re-drew our plans, and emailed them to him.  He was not a happy camper.  I went into the nursery yesterday morning, working with another person on the plants for the hill, when this chief kept interrupting, being basically rude.  He's a rough-edged sort of guy, and I do like him (and admire his talents) and usually I can dish back what he dishes out, but yesterday?  Not a good day. The owner heard the ongoing interchange, stepped in and as he said "put a fire extinguisher on it."  And then the owner came out this morning and with a can of paint, "drew" on the yard where our raised garden boxes would go.

  Future location of the water feature. 

And just to keep things hopping, two guys are here installing a "fence return" which is a fence from the property line returning back to the house.  When we did the fences before, we did not put in a fence return on this side as we had massive juniper bushes.  So now it was time.  This side will have a four-foot gate, slightly off-center.

The opposite side of our yard, which is up on a six-foot retaining wall, is also getting a "return."  We originally thought we didn't need one but it has turned into the local access point for the neighborhood dogs, their own personal doggie freeway to do their business in our yard.  (We're tired of them.)  I am having the fence guys include a wee gate, as my grandchildren like to tramp around up here, and need a passageway.

 I leave you with a photo of three new sprinkler valves, a shut-off valve (under the green round cover) and our new hose bib.  We consider this (and the rest of the yard) our Happy 25th Anniversary present to each other.  Some women get jewelry. But I get water features, a raised vegetable garden and three new sprinkler valves. You can't have everything in this life, but I think I have a corner on the market.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

The Yard is Going. . . Going. . .

We got the call yesterday that the demolition would begin.  We woke up early and marked the trees that were to stay, using fabric strips: I wrote "Keep Me!" and "Do NOT Demolition!" on the strips.

By 9:00 a.m. this morning, we had four trucks, five workers and a nifty little red sod-cutting machine. 

 First they wet my crunchy grass (crunchy because of the awful heat and the two applications of chemical to kill the lawn), then in a careful path, went around it with their machine. A guy with a pitchfork loosened the sod behind the machine.  Then they packed up the machine and the guy with the hat (Bruno) and the guy with the sunglasses (Christian) took it off to the next job.

 Apparently mine is one of eleven jobs they are juggling.  The turf is cut and loosened.  Then I was gone for a few hours running errands, so now we fast forward.

 No more crunchy sod, and quite a few of the junipers on our hill have been hacked down to size.  As I drove up, the air smelled like pine.  Good-bye you nasty junipers!

 Good-bye cement patio!  In another life, I toted those slabs over from our neighbor who was redoing his driveway.  We set them in the dirt and drizzled sand mixed with cement in between.  They've done their duty for about twenty years.  I cautioned them that may find a shoebox with a small hamster buried in here.  Of course, it may have been somewhere else that we buried a small rodent.

  They are lifting the cement into the tractor, and he carries it down the hill to the dump truck.  In spite of marking the trees, two Heavenly Nandina on the side were yanked by accident.  (Sigh.)

View from the driveway.  Things are going. . . going. . . but not all the way gone.  It took 33 years to grow some of these things and they can be demolitioned in a day.  Or two. 

Sunday, September 14, 2014

The Wild Frontier of the Internet

We are now back in internet business with our Apple Airport Extreme Router.  For nearly three weeks most of our wireless internet was non-functional, read: no signal on iPads or laptops.  We'd had two visits from our cable company, multiple moderate-cursing sessions about the dropped off signal until finally, through an internet search on the desktop machine (which isn't wifi, but also wasn't functioning all that great), we diagnosed it as a router going bad. 

Kind of like these guys.

We picked up a new router at a local box store, and Dave spent Saturday afternoon installing it and getting us up and running.By last night things were much smoother, we could get signal on all our other screens, and we even now have a Guest Wifi (get ready to change your passwords, kids).  So we sat down to watch Transcendence, a movie starring Johnny Depp and an earnest gang of renegades fighting the takeover of a Depp-like machine throughout the known universe, aka, the internet/web/connected world.

Kind of like these guys.

This is the famous OPTE Map of the Internet, from 2005, showing only about 30% of the data they had available at the time.  I've used it before when I taught about the web in my English classes, and it was also used in the movie last night.

It was an interesting juxtaposition, considering what we'd just been through.  Yes, runaway machines can certainly be a concern, but at this stage of life, I missed sitting in bed, reading blogs on my laptop at night.  I missed being able to look at social media and read our scriptures together on my iPad after dinner.  And what this taught me was how seamlessly we'd blended our machines into our lives, making use of them in keeping us connected to the larger outside world.

I was happy to be back in the saddle again, riding my internet range.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Progress Photos -- September 10, 2014

Update on our Front/Side Yard Project:  We've killed the front lawn pretty dead.  Here's the before (not that the lawn was that great even then, but hey).

Here it is after one week.  And with no water, too.

One afternoon I came out and there were little flags and strips of paint denoting all the utilities.  I had been upstairs quilting, and thought how busy everyone in the world had been while I was enjoying myself even though I, too, was working hard.

Then yesterday, Bruno, the spray guy, came out and squirted more RoundUp to really kill the grass.  We'd had an amazing storm a couple of days before that and he said "Good.  Then the grass that shot up will get it again."  Greg, the guy I talk to at the landscape company said maybe next week they'd start tearing out the junipers in front.  Can't wait.  We also got two bids on the 27 feet of fence we need to enclose the side yards.  We put in new fences, sharing the costs with three different neighbors in March of 2010.  Today we felt like this small amount of fence cost as much as the whole yard four years ago.  We ARE getting older.

Okay, so about that storm.  It was the leading edge of the remnants of a hurricane from Baja California and above is a shot as it moved over our neighboring city to the north.  As you can see, some parts got soaked and other parts got nothing.

And here's a picture DURING the deluge, when we figured it dropped numerous inches in about an hour.  This is showing the water streaming off our neighbor's yard into our back yard, up onto the cement slab at our back garage door.  It went there, then through the garage.  What a mess.  (The hoses are coiled up there in the corner because we moved them from the front and side yards so they would not get Rounded Up.)

The following photos (and the above) are some of the damage we saw as we took our morning walk, just in our neighborhood.

The photos above and below are from the neighborhood park where we sometimes drive to walk. The deluge carved out the shoulder of the road (above) and broke up the concrete on the drainage basin (below).

The next morning, we saw more trees down that we hadn't seen the day before.  This one was broken off right at the surface of the grass.  As for our yard, just that flooding through the garage and one tiny branch off a tree at the back of the yard.  We feel pretty lucky.