Monday, June 21, 2010

How to Leave Comments

Jim and I love getting comments on our blog, but it has come to our attention that some of the less computer savvy people are having difficulties.
Here is a step by step instruction, so now you don't have an excuse.  Hahaha!

The easiest way to leave a comment is:
1.  Click the comment link below the post.  Another page will then open up for you.
2. Write your comment in the comment box
3. Click the down arrow next to the words "Select profile"
4. Select the "Anonymous" option.  If you want us to know who you are, just make sure to include your name in your actual comment.  ^_^
5.  Click "Post Comment"

You will not see your comment right away after sending it since it will need to be approved by us first.


Maybe I should do this with my squirrels, especially the rocket-ship part.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Arborists & Septic Guys Ahoy!

Jim and I have started to look into hiring an arborist to figure out what if anything we need to do about the huge silver maple tree that is between our house and garage.  I had researched area arborists and tree service companies and narrowed our choice down to 3.  I decided to go with Ash Tree Service, Ohio, and Tree Masters for estimates.  The first two have already come out and given me estimates, but the third company hasn't bothered to reply yet.  I found it interesting that the 2 that did come out gave me totally opposite opinions about the tree.
Ash Tree Company was the first to come out.  He took a good look at the tree and told me that if it was him, he would take the tree down.  The tree has extensive rot near the base, and it is spreading.  He says there is no real cure for it and that it is inevitable that the tree will come down one way or another.  I had him examine the sickly looking red maple in the middle of the yard, and he told me that the tree is dieing most likely from a parasite.  I had him look at a few other trees on the property, but he said they all looked good.  The only other thing he would do would be to trim some of the branches hanging over the roof of the garage from another red maple.  To take down the silver maple (including grinding the stump), remove the dieing red maple, and to trim the other red maple branches above the garage; he gave me an estimate of $3,500.
Ohio came out the same day, but later in the evening.  He had told me over the phone that he would be here around 5:30 pm, but didn't actually show up until about 7:00.  I saw him pull into the drive and take a quick glance at the big tree while walking to the side door.  The first thing he said to me was, "Is that the culprit?  Eh, it's fine."  My first thought after hearing that was, "What!?  How the heck would you know?  You haven't even properly looked at it yet!"  I kept quiet though because I wanted to see what else he'd say.  We took a closer look at the tree, and he also pointed out the rot, but he told me not to let that scare me.  He said the tree is fine and that he would recommend using suspension to hold it.  He was really encouraging the suspension, but I honestly don't feel comfortable with that.  The tree has obvious signs of a past suspension that has since broken.  I asked him about removing the tree and he wasn't too keen on it, but said he would if that was what we wanted.  To get a comparable quote I asked him to include trimming the branches above the garage and removing the sickly tree.  All together he said he'd estimate $3,250.  He then went to his truck to write up 2 estimates.  One for removing the tree, and one for using suspension; however, he was out of estimate forms.  He then told me that he would email me the estimates the next day.  That was 2 days ago, and I still don't have the estimates.
Hmmm...I think I'm leaning towards the first guy here.  The Ash Tree Service guy was very professional and actually listened to what I wanted.  He was also the owner of the company and has been in the tree service business for 30+ yrs.  I think we'll give the 3rd company until the end of the weekend to chime in their opinion.
Jim and I in front of the Silver Maple
Doesn't it look like it has a face?

I really wish this tree was further back on the lot.  I hate to have to cut it down, but if it is rotten...I just don't want to take the chance of it falling on our house, the garage, or our neighbor's house.  I've done some research, and it seems the life expectancy of the silver maple is ~130 yrs.  One of the arborists estimated our silver maple's age at 150 yrs.  It will be interesting to count the rings.

In other news, we had our septic tank pumped this morning.  We went with the company that the previous owners had used.  We ended up liking this company better than the one that did our original septic inspection while in the buying process.  This new guy was very friendly and willing to answer all our questions.  We learned more from him than from the original septic guy.  It turns out that we don't have a septic tank with a leach field like we were originally told.  We have a 1,000 gal septic tank with a leach well.  He said that leach wells are better than a field because if something goes wrong with the well, you can just get it pumped out.  That is not the case with a leach field.  Our septic tank does not currently have a riser cover, so Jim had to dig up the spot where the tank was so that the septic guy could pump it.  He recommended having a riser installed and Jim and I agreed.  They are coming back out tomorrow to install it.  This way, if we need to get to the septic tank, we don't have to dig up the yard to get to it (that would suck in the winter).  He also told us that the system looks ok for one its age.  So, now that I don't have to worry about a leach field, I can plant my garden anywhere I want.  Yea!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Housewarming #1

Our first housewarming was a success!  We had invited people to come either Saturday (with bonfire) or Sunday.  Just about everybody came on Sunday.  lol.  I guess they weren't interested in burning stuff and eating smores.  Oh well, maybe another time.  We had adequate parking; only one person had to park behind the garage.  We also had plenty of food, and Jim did a good job grilling the hamburgers and hotdogs.
Here are pics of Jim playing croquet and grilling (not at the same time).
I like to call the first pic, "The Men of Croquet".  Do you like Jim's grilling uniform?

There was also a nice breeze blowing to cool our guests for most of the party.  We had a tent/gazebo set up for food, and we were able to use the picnic table I worked so hard on to fix up.  I was given a lot of compliments on the table.
Here are some views of the party scene

We also had a volleyball/ badminton net ( I always thought it was badmitten.  lol.) set up in the back, but I don't think anyone played.  I think I ran out of plates near the end, but people just used napkins.  We had plenty of fresh fruit left over (including an entire watermelon), so we've been eating a lot of fruit ever since.  Everyone seemed to enjoy the house tours.  I laughed when my cousin Missy informed her brother that she booked the next tour for them.

Our guests also enjoyed watching the squirrels and chipmunks.  I don't know if the black squirrels made any appearances on Sunday, but here are some pics of the grey squirrels.
The last pic is of one trying to chew through the metal of the squirrel-proof cage

I know a few of the chipmunks crashed the party as well.
It is sticking its tongue out at me in the first pic.  : P

Also, here are some pics of a moth, a new flower, and some birds.

I have been trying to get better pictures of my cardinals, but they are such divas and fly away as soon as I bring out the camera.  I'll get you my pretties!

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Almost Caught Up

Whew!  After this post, I will have totally caught you all up on what's been happening.  Sorry for the barrage of posts.  I will try to keep a more consistent post schedule.  

OK, first up is our picnic table.  Last month, Jim's grandmother gave us her picnic table.  It had a rough winter and wasn't in the best of shape.  I would rate it code red for splinters.  I decided to take the project on myself and borrowed my dad's electric sander.  I spent an afternoon sanding it smooth.  I then went out to Ace and bought some deck stain.  Unfortunately, I think they mixed the color up wrong because it turned out way more orange than I wanted.  I had picked out a medium brown shade, but I just rolled with it.  I wanted to get this project done.  I spent another afternoon staining it.  I was quite dirty by the time I was done.  I gave all surfaces one coat of stain, but I gave 2 coats to the seats and table top.

Here is a pic of the finshed picnic table.  I'm sorry, I forgot to take a before pic.
I'm quite proud of my accomplishment.  Thanks, Grandma for the picnic table!

I wanted to show you the cool rock that Jim's mom found while working on the hedges.

I think it looks like a slice of bacon.  Mmmm!  Bacon!  ^_^

I was a little worried 2 weeks ago when the city started repaving our road.  I didn't know how long it would take, and road construction always seems to take forever.  I was concerned that our guests would have a difficult time arriving to our housewarming if there was construction.  Well, it only took them a week to do it, so now we have a nice new road to show off to our guests.  Woot!

I love gazing up at the moon, and it was particularly lovely a few days ago.  I attempted to take pictures of it, but they of course don't do it justice.
However, I think these are the best ones I've ever taken.
I've also noticed that the fireflies are out and about already.  I was mesmerized the other night watching them in the fields across the street.  They literally made the fields sparkle.  I also made a wish that night on the first star I saw.  It was a lovely wish, but I can't tell you what it was.  I just hope that it comes true some day.  It is the same wish I always make.

Next up are some wildlife pictures I've taken.

I managed to get closer to a chipmunk while I had the camera on me.  I think I caught him off guard.  I especially like the middle picture, but you'll have to click on it to see it larger.

Just yesterday, I had remarked to Jim that I was surprised we hadn't seen any rabbits in our yard yet.  Well, low-and-behold, this one hopped out of a bush in the the backyard this afternoon.

And last but not least, a pic of one of our black squirrels.  I think this is the best one I've taken of them so far. They usually hang out near the very back of our yard and run up a tree before I can get close enough to take a decent pic.

The Last Straw

Hey, I hear there is a free all you can eat buffet out front.  Wanna go?

I have been battling a losing battle against the squirrels over my bird feeder.  Those chubby little piggies will eat an entire bird feeder full of seed in one day and not let the birds eat.  I've been frustrated with them for awhile now, and Jim just laughed.  Well, now it was time for Jim to take the squirrels seriously.  I had him fill the bird feeder last week, and he saw first hand just how fast the squirrels devour it.  He filled it in the morning and it was completely empty by late afternoon.  The next day, I looked out the window by our deck and saw a bird perched on the plastic garbage can where we keep the feed.  Something didn't seem quite right to me, so I went to investigate only to discover things were indeed amiss.  The lid of the can was on the ground with 3 small chew holes in it.  I looked in the can to find the feed bag chewed open as well.  I put the lid back on and told Jim about it when he returned home from work.  He patched up the holes in the lid, and thought sure he had resolved the issue.  He thought that perhaps a chipmunk had done the deed.  Well, I had to laugh the next day when we walked out on to the deck, and Jim saw a squirrel sticking its head out of the hole.  When he approached, the squirrel squirmed out and took off up a tree.  He looked at the can, and discovered that the squirrel not only chewed through the patch, but also made the hole bigger.

Jim decided he had had enough and we went out to buy a metal can.  Chew through that, darn squirrels!  He also finally agreed to let me buy a squirrel proof feeder.  Yea!

This is me filling and giving the victory sign as I hang the new feeder.

So far, the feeder is working.  I was laughing watching them from the kitchen window trying to get the seed.  The weight of their bodies closes the feed ports, so they go around and around the feeder, but can't get any food.  The birds finally have a chance to eat!

As it should be.

I've managed to take some pictures of the birds.  The cardinal was a tricky one, but I finally got him!

I also have a pic of a red wing black bird with some common brown scrubby birds.

I haven't seen the blue jay recently, but I will try to get him too.

More Flowers

Here are some more flower pics for everyone.

Not sure what flower this is, but that bug photobombed me on that first pic.  I didn't even realize it until I uploaded the pic onto my computer.  ^_^*

Purple flowers

Only blooms of these 2 flowers

Yellow flowers (lol, I am so descriptive)

That's all the new flowers for now.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Busy Jim

Since Jim isn't much of a blogger, I guess I'll have to tell you what he has been up to besides work. 
Jim has spent a lot of time on the craftroom shelves.  We decided to save money by buying the wood and cutting out the shelves ourselves.  We've borrowed our dads' miter saw and router, so Jim has had fun playing with those.  I think the shelves are coming out nicely.  Here is a profile pic of one of the shelves.  The other pic is Jim carrying it on his head.

These shelves seem to be taking forever, but they are finally going up on the walls.  Jim snuck a pic of me painting the shelf supports in the garage.
Yea for shelves on walls!

Besides the shelves, Jim has been hard at work on the firepit.  I think it came out nice.  There had already been an existing small firepit, so we just expanded it a little.  We didn't realize until after Jim was done, that some tree branches from my miko tree hang over the pit.  We'll try to trim them back before our first fire.
Along with the firepit, Jim has been practicing grilling on our new cheap charcoal grill.

After finishing the firepit, Jim was supposed to mow the lawn; however, he did something that he wasn't supposed to do which resulted in breaking my wheelbarrow.  We have a cement pad behind our garage that seems to be the remnants of an old shed with foundation.  Last month, my MIL and I had cleaned up all the glass that was in one corner of the pad.  I was under the impression that Jim and I had agreed that the only other thing we would do before our housewarming concerning the cement pad was to bend down the metal pipes sticking out of the ground at the corners.  Well, Jim got over-zealous and decided to start removing the cement blocks around the pad.  The blocks were heavy, so he just lobbed them into the wheelbarrow.  Unfortunately, the wheelbarrow didn't appreciate this method, and the tub cracked in several places.
Jim was mad at himself.
I could have gotten mad at him too for not listening to me, and then breaking the wheelbarrow, but instead I struck a deal with him...I wouldn't get mad at him for this if he doesn't get mad at me the next time I break something.   I told him that he just made more work for himself.
Here is a before and after pic of Jim's wayward efforts.
This pic was taken from the same corner.  : (
Unfortunately, he never did finish this job.  He also didn't get to mow the lawn that day because it rained.
  See, husbands should listen to their wives!

Jim has decided to take part in deforestation and has started to clean our gutters.  We've only managed to do the garage so far. We haven't gotten to our house gutters just yet.
  Jim must have found something smelly by the look on his face in the second pic.

Jim has also removed a dead limb which had a tree swing hanging on it.  We wanted to remove the swing and limb before the party so that no one was tempted to play on it.  We didn't want a big tree branch falling on any of our guests.  We will hopefully be able to put a new swing on a different tree in the future.
Is that a monkey in that tree?  Nope, just Jim.

So, that is what Jim has been up to in the past couple of weeks.  Maybe one of these days he'll write his own post.  ^_^*

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Wild Kingdom

The wildlife in our yard seems to be quite camera shy.  I've only managed to take a few pictures, but I'll keep trying to capture them on "film".

First up is my least favorite of creatures--the spider.  He is also paired with an apparent glow-worm.  The camera kept trying to focus on the leaves and not the dangling  green caterpillar.
The spider is just chill'n with its legs crossed.

Next is the chipmunk.  For awhile, I couldn't figure out if we had a whole colony of chipmunks or just one very active one.  I would never see 2 of them together, yet I would see a chipmunk just about everywhere I went in the yard.  I eventually solved the mystery when I saw 2 chipmunks at the same time.

The only creatures that seem to like the camera's attention are the squirrels and butterflies.  I've already posted plenty of squirrel pics, so here are some pics of butterflies for you...I guess the yellow one could be a moth...I'm not sure.

In either case, they both seemed to flutter in my face and practically begged me to take pictures of them. They even posed for the camera.
 Such attention seekers!

That is all the wildlife I have for now.  I'll try to get more pictures of them soon.  I haven't had the time or patience yet to sit still so I could take pics of all the different birds that come to my feeder.

Trees, Bushes, and Plants, Oh my!

Here is another picture post for you.  I hope people are actually enjoying all these pics.

First up is my wild strawberries.  They may be small, but their taste sure packs a punch.  I'm surprised my commune of chipmunks haven't eaten them all up yet.
Maybe there will still be some good ones for my party guests to enjoy.

Here are some grapes and possibly plum or some type of berry?
They are just babies though.

Here is a pic of my ash tree.  Also, I think my squirrel crop is coming in nicely, don't you agree?  Almost ready for picking.
This ash tree is one of my favorites on the lot.  It is a late bloomer though, so we first thought that it was dead.  I'm so happy that it wasn't.  I call it my miko tree.

After some consideration, we decided to get rid of the hedges on the side of the house entirely.  We have cut them down, and now only small stumps remain.  I'll eventually put some type of colorful flower in their place.
The pic on the right is my toadstool garden.  I hope no smurfs were living there because Jim mowed them down shortly after this pic was taken.

Maple trees are quite tenacious.  Entire forests want to grow in our gutters and lawn.

Here is a pic of Jim attempting to tame our wild forsythia bush.
He still has a long way to go, but we won't be able to get to it until sometime next week.

Here is a pic of Jim also trying to reign in the wild raspberry bushes that have taken over the grapevine.  How am I supposed to pick grapes later if they are guarded by raspberry thorns?
Believe it or not, there is a grapevine in that first pic.

That's all the plant gossip for now.

April Showers Brought May Flowers

Sorry I haven't updated in awhile.  I have been busy with my brother's wedding, and now the first of 3 housewarmings.  I wanted to post some pics of the flowers that had bloomed in May.  I'll post actual goings on in a later post.

First up is the poppy.
I liked the bud.  It was quite soft and fuzzy.

Next up is my patch of mini iris.
They were quite bright and beautiful.

Third is my lupin.
That bee just wouldn't stay still for me.

Next are some coral bells (with bleeding hearts in the background) and I think foxglove?
I could be mistaken about the foxglove.

Here are some more irises.  These were much prettier than the tired ones behind the garage.

These are a few of my white peonies.
Some of them had a pink tinge to them.

I don't know the names of either of these flowers.
The purple one is blooming all over the flowerbeds by the deck.

Next is another unknown flower and a pink peony.
I'm not sure if the first flower is missing a petal, or if it supposed to look like that.  It is the only one blooming, so I have nothing to compare it to.

My tiger lilies are looking very handsome.

Another orange flower in bloom are the orange hawkweeds.
I know they are a weed, but they look kind of cool to little suns or bursting fireworks.

This is yet another flower I'm not sure of.
It started out green, but has since turned white.

These flowers are blooming within my grapevine.  I know the one on the right is raspberry blossoms, but I don't know what the ones on the left are...they look strange, yet cool.

Well, that is all the flowers I have for now.  I've already taken more since last week, but they are still on my camera.