Dogs are our link to paradise…

Dogs are our link to paradise. They don’t know evil or jealousy or discontent. To sit with a dog on a hillside on a glorious afternoon is to be back in Eden, where doing nothing was not boring–it was peace.

Milan Kundera

My goal for today was to write an Earth themed post for the Weekly Photo Challenge but I’m still in the previously mentioned photographic dry spell and unless I wanted to recycle another forest related image my options were limited to new product shots for our Etsy store and Finn from last weekend.  Hmm…

My next thought was to look for quotes that contained both the words “earth” and “dogs” as a way to tie my one new shot to the challenge but all I found were hundreds of dog quotes.  Don’t get me wrong, I love a good dog quote but what I really wanted was one perfect quote that brought these two things together in a way that made it seem like this was my plan all along.   Like I set out to take a shot of Finn lounging on the grass (earth) to illustrate my carefully prepared essay.

Now it’s posting time and I still don’t have a beautiful mother earth essay but I do have a dog photo, a quote that speaks to me and a story about Saturday afternoon on our grassy hill.

Many of you know we adopted Finn as a rescue dog.  He’d been facing doggie death row, was afraid of everything, could barely tolerate people touching him and any sudden movement or new interaction set him off into fits of barking.  Anything to keep the fearful object/person/smell/animal/car far away but the one thing he relaxed for was looking at John, Ryan and I together.  It’s been a long road for Finn as we’ve slowly introduced him to new people, a few kind dogs, several trainers and his friend and walking buddy Colleen.  Basically anything we could think of to give him a chance at a normal life and the opportunity to just be a dog.  He’s slowly become comfortable in the backyard but last weekend was the first time he successfully relaxed in the front yard.  Yay Finn!  He was with us for hours as we tried to reclaim flower beds from weed-pocalypse 2017 and dutifully followed me around and around when it was time to clean up the buckets, clippers, yard waste bins and rakes.  We were both tired, the sun was out, the grass was dry and the little hill in our backyard looked like a nice quiet place to sit and catch our breath.  For a few special minutes we were not bored, we were at peace.

Posted as part of the Weekly Photo Challenge:  Earth.

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Travel Theme: Garden

Garden

This isn’t a traditional garden picture but March in the Pacific Northwest is a challenging time everyone who loves the outdoors. It’s cold and damp 90% of the time with a few brief stretches of sunny weather that give us all spring fever but send pollen counts into the double digits.  Instead of a photographing the wet and weedy mess of a garden we have today I thought I’d post one last shot from our front yard before the excavator got to work digging out stumps and moving rocks boulders.  This photo was taken about 10 months after the Public Utilities District cut down our large cedar trees and shows how aggressively the native ferns and salal expanded with additional light, water and space to grow.

Posted as part of Alisa’s weekly Travel Theme:  Garden.

A Word A Week: Violet

Violet

One of the things I love about Heather is its determined nature, blooming right on schedule no matter the conditions.  This little plant flowers in my front yard every winter providing bright spots of color in a season filled with green, brown and white.

Posted as part of Sue’s A Word A Week:  Violet.

Our Landscaping Project: Progress Update

Progress

Writing an updated post about our big landscaping project has been on my to-do list for several weeks (months) but hey, life is busy and I rarely make it to the bottom of a list.  I didn’t think I would be posting anything today but when I saw that the Daily Prompt was Progress I realized I was out of excuses.  Here is a look at what we’ve been working on this fall.

I know my last project post said we were postponing painting until the end of September due to weather but our surprise stretch of heavy rain was followed by weeks of unusually heavy fog and as a result we couldn’t finish painting until early December.  I couldn’t believe how much moss grew on our roof in just one week.  The short days and cold temperatures left a very small work window in each day but Hans kept going as long as he could and I’m happy to say most of the body of the house is a clean, fresh gray and our newly trimmed windows are sparkling white.  Our front and back door will soon be a beautiful navy blue and the porch is complete with a new set of stairs connecting to the driveway.

Our drafty old car port is now officially a garage with insulated walls, garage doors on the front and double sets of French doors on the back opening to a patio.  We still need to paint the interior walls, hang shelving and apply frosted panels to the glass for security but it feels great to have a covered place to park again and somewhere to securely store all of the outdoor tools.

Most of the landscaping is finished in the front and you can see John’s favorite little sub-alpine fir-tree at the top of the pictures above.  This tree was harvested by permit in the Cascade Mountains and will slowly grow to a relatively small 20 feet.  It’s planted off the front corner of our new porch to add a foundation point and a little screening from the street.  We spent another very wet Saturday driving from nursery to nursery picking out the last of our plants and one October weekend was the time to get the fir, 12 compact laurels for our new hedge and several flats of heather, bergenia, dwarf mugo pines and viburnum.  We selected winter, spring and summer blooming varieties in hopes of some year-round color and I can’t wait to see the full effect as everything settles in and starts to grow.

The side yard was an unplanned project but when our excavator said he could clear the brush and boulders so we could access the back yard without going through the garage we said “ok”.  We were able to reuse the huge granite boulders in the front yard as focal points but we didn’t have time to figure out a permanent landscaping solution for the newly cleared side of the house.  As a temporary fix I ordered a few yards of crushed rock to spread along the side of the house and under the front porch for the winter.  I though sod was heavy and now I know 8 yards of crushed rock is heavy too, especially after a rainstorm.  We have a little more to shovel but the mini-mountain is almost gone…

We have a good list of details to finish in the spring when the weather warms and a winter worksheet that includes more lighting and new door hardware but I am really happy with our progress so far!

If you are new to Northwest Frame of Mind and want to follow this project from the beginning please take a look at my earlier posts in the series:

Daily Prompt:  Weekend

The First Days Of Our Landscaping Project

Our Landscaping Project:  Week Two

Our Landscaping Project:  Week Three

Our Landscaping Project:  Week Four

Our Landscaping Project:  Weeks Five and Six

Weekly Photo Challenge: Layers

Layers. Layers can reveal, conceal, and make something more complex. They can vary in size, texture, color, or functionality. Each layer can have its own story, meaning, or purpose. They can overlap, blend, or be distinctly separate. A layer doesn’t have to be a part of a single object but can even be a slice of a multifaceted image or scene.

Sara Rosso – The Daily Post

Layers

It’s been awhile since I’ve posted an update about our front yard project but we are still working hard and I’m happy to say we have a good chance of finishing by the end of the year.

Happy was not one of my words though when this load of sod arrived by flat-bed truck in early September.  My worries increased after I asked the delivery driver how long he thought it would take us to lay the rolls.  He told me we should be able to get through the pallet in about four hours but we’d have to move fast.

We had one very long, dirty evening to lay all the sod in our newly terraced upper and lower front yard and I couldn’t believe how heavy  every single roll was.  The layers looked kind of pretty before we started, which is why I took this picture, but after the first few minutes all I wanted to do was turn my back and walk away.  Sadly that wasn’t an option.

Posted as part of the Weekly Photo Challenge:  Layers

A Word A Week: Silhouette

Silhouette

Sue’s latest word of the week over at A Word in Your Ear is Silhouette.   I’ve posted a smaller image of this tree before but thought the contrast of the dark leafless branches against the bright white sky was worth a second look today. Unfortunately the tree died last year and was removed to make way for our new driveway but we still have some good photos and several branches are getting a new chance to shine as part of our Halloween decorations.

Our Landscaping Project: Weeks Five and Six

Weeks 5 & 6

We have been so busy working I missed my update last week so this is a combo post showing our progress through weeks 5 and 6 of the big Landscaping Project 2013.  We have had some long days and a few scheduling setbacks but several big items on our renovation wish list are complete and we feel like some good work has been done.

The early part of last week was spent cleaning very dirty siding and prepping the house for new paint.  Ryan was a great help with the scrub brush and I developed a love-hate relationship with the power washer.  I’m in awe of how much dirt and grime can be hosed away by the washer but when it blows back on my face I am not a happy cleaner.

The new front porch is built, sided and primed and Heidi the Wonder Lab has claimed her lookout position right where the stairs will be.  Heidi is my brother’s dog and when he is here building, she is on the job as site supervisor. 🙂

With the local power company returning to take down one last Cedar Tree on our property line and a record-setting rain storm at the end of our driest summer in over 40 years we had to reschedule our plans to paint until the end of September.  My fingers are crossed for a late stretch of summer weather…

After a full Tuesday at our day jobs John and I had two hours to lay sod for the front lawn before it was too dark to see anything.  We were stiff and sore the next day but the new lawn looks so much better than the rough dirt that we agree, the extra effort was worth it.

This week we will fine tune the watering system, plant our remaining plants in the holding zone, make a shopping list for more plants and finalize the lighting plan.

If you are new to Northwest Frame of Mind and want to follow this project from the beginning please take a look at my earlier posts in the series:

Daily Prompt:  Weekend

The First Days Of Our Landscaping Project

Our Landscaping Project:  Week Two

Our Landscaping Project:  Week Three

Our Landscaping Project:  Week Four

Our Landscaping Project: Week Four

Week 4 Effort

We are wrapping up week four of our big project and have reached the inevitable plateau that comes after initial excitement of breaking ground meets the sweaty reality a lot of work still left to do.  The heavy equipment is gone and the days of huge changes are (hopefully) behind us leaving lots of hard work and effort in our future.

My brother Hans is staying here with us during the week building the front porch with a little help from Ryan in his last weeks of summer vacation.  We asked the excavating company to remove and haul away the old porch while they were here four weeks ago leaving a scary 10 foot drop for anyone brave enough to open our door and look down.  Inside the house we have furniture, blue tape and a skull and crossbones sign across the threshold to prevent our guests from taking their last step…

We’ve planted about half of the potted nursery stock waiting in the backyard and even though it is mid August only one looks like it isn’t going to live through the move from pot to ground.  This is a tricky time to plant here in the PNW but I thought with a lot of water and the promise of a few cooler days ahead we should be ok.  So far, so good.

Now comes the part of the job I have been dreading.  I really don’t like spiders and the ugly, dark brown exterior of our house is full of them… The past two days have found me outside clearing cobwebs and getting ready to pressure wash off the remaining dirt, needles and mildew before painting.  It is hot, dusty work and because I’ll do almost anything to avoid spiders jumping in my hair I’m covered head to toe in long sleeves, pants, gloves and big hat.

A new watering system is ready to install and If we keep on schedule the rest of the week should include priming the new porch walls, installing window trim and, cross your fingers, paint.

The best word to describe this past week is Effort and as luck would have it this is also the photography challenge for the latest Daily Prompt:  Secret of Success.  What I really want to be doing tonight is relaxing on the back porch with a cool beverage enjoying the end of summer but there are more spider webs to blow away and a lot of pine needles to brush before the day is done.

If you are new to Northwest Frame of Mind and want to follow this project from the beginning please take a look at my earlier posts in the series:

Daily Prompt:  Weekend

The First Days Of Our Landscaping Project

Our Landscaping Project:  Week Two

Our Landscaping Project:  Week Three

Our Landscaping Project: Week Three

Project Week 3

Week three was filled with more shopping trips for plants and materials, a lot of dirty/dusty work framing the new front porch, some time posing next to big equipment that doesn’t usually decorate our front yard, and a few new plants successfully placed in the side yard.

The caution tape is down signaling our new driveway is ready for cars and trucks and we can finally pull into the garage (no longer a car port) and close the garage doors.  Hooray!

Next week brings more planting, a finished front porch, selecting materials for the fence, a watering system and prepping the  house for new paint.  Wish us luck!

If you are new to Northwest Frame of Mind and want to follow this project from the beginning please take a look at my earlier posts in the series:

Daily Prompt:  Weekend

The First Days Of Our Landscaping Project

Our Landscaping Project:  Week Two

Our Landscaping Project: Week Two

Garden Week 2 Collage

Just in time to escape the dusty excavation mess John, Ryan and I spent a few days away from our project shopping for new plants and stone steps.  We found most of the large plants on our list at one local nursery and thankfully their delivery fee was reasonable because there was no way the trees were going to fit in our Subaru.

The next day found us an hour outside of the city looking through a stone yard packed full of an overwhelming assortment of colors, textures, sizes and shapes.  With a map in one hand and coffee in the other we walked across the property to the farthest corner of the lot looking through pallets and piles of stone for dry stack steps.  Cowboy Coffee  Quartzite was the perfect color and size for our project and as an added bonus I really like the name but wow, five of them together weighed over 3,600 pounds.

Our new steps and terraces were installed Monday and we hope to plant the largest Vine Maples along the side yard in a few days. As soon as a new watering system is ready to go the rest of the plants will leave their temporary location on the back patio and settle into our new front yard.  This summer brought the Seattle area a record-breaking stretch of dry weather but I’m afraid our luck won’t hold and I can’t help worrying one rainstorm will turn the newly spread topsoil into a river of mud if we don’t plant it soon.

The new driveway will be ready for cars by Monday so front porch construction should start next week and I plan to post pictures of the building process as well as a peek at the new driveway and garage doors for my week 3 update.

If you are new to Northwest Frame of Mind and want to follow this project from the beginning please take a look at my first two posts in the series:

Daily Prompt:  Weekend

The First Days Of Our Landscaping Project