Sunday, February 28, 2010

Mid-Atlantic Quilt Festival

Well that's a tiny picture!

I cropped it down, to eliminate some of the file size. I wonder how big it will be when you click on it? Hopefully a lot bigger!

My friend Lisa Ellis sent me some pictures from M-AQF, taken this weekend. I particularly like this one, although I don't know who made two of the quilts. I can't read the signs. The second one is mine, and the fourth is Lisa's. How thoughtful of the Mancusos to hang our quilts near each other!

That's all I've got for you today.

Entries for Best of the Valley have closed, and the show will be juried next week. That clock is ticking, and I'm going to have to really get ready. We're going to have a quilt show!

Saturday, February 27, 2010

It's Raining, It's Pouring

Here's a picture of the current state of things - or the state of things yesterday, when it was dry. Imagine adding an inch of rain and you've got some REAL mud. I'm just glad we're not on a hill!

Yesterday they installed the lighting and put up the fence. They also moved these rocks around the tree. We're making progress.

But we're not progressing quickly enough for this iris. Poor baby, WHY does it think now is the time to bloom? This bucket of iris is in the garage - no light, no water. But it wants to bloom anyway. I pulled it out of the bucket and put it in the ground last night.

If you think the last photo was flipped on end, you are correct. My son had just asked me, "How is Blogger treating you these days?" I told him things have been dandy, they hadn't flipped a picture in weeks. Then I hit upload, and presto! They flipped my pic. mutter, mutter, Blogger!

Friday, February 26, 2010

Making Progress in the Yard

Yesterday was a big day for the makeover. I am SO glad that it rained on Wednesday, when I wasn't here. I needed to be here when all of the work was done. I may not be actually doing it, but when decisions are made, I'm the director.

The first thing I directed was a re-direct of the curve to the driveway. We shifted it about 4' closer to the house. This reduces the planting area to the south (left side), but the lines are better.

When you look out the front door, this is the new view. The foreman straightened the path through the walls, then curved it around as it approaches the door. I like this a lot. I particularly like the new area to put pots. The drip line will be invisible, as it comes up from the planting area.

Just as they poured the fresh concrete, the rock man arrived. I told him I didn't want rocks yet, "Next week, please!" but he insisted. He needed to get my rocks off the truck, so he could load someone else's rocks for today. I told him to make a pile in the street. I guess that's not a viable option. Instead, he piled them in the corner. He'll be back on Monday for permanent placement.

Here is the new path to the front door. What do you think? Is it an improvement? Or is the mossy wall all that your eye sees? I think this weekend's goal will be to see if we can scrub off the green.

We also replaced some of the concrete to the side of the house. If you ever have concrete poured around your water main, THIS is the way it's supposed to be done. The original contractor simply poured the concrete right up to the house. Had this portion of the water main broken, it would have been a nightmare. Now that it's done right, I'm guessing we won't have any problems.

Finally, what better cat attractant is there than wet cement? Look at all of those kitty prints, back and forth, back and forth. Surprisingly enough, there are only 4 or 5 pawprints, scratch marks that penetrated the surface. The concrete guys called them "designer marks," and reminded us that some people pay extra for them.

Today there will be some fence building and dirt shifting and lighting placement and a revamp of the sprinkler system. I doubt it will look much different at the end of the day, but it will definitely BE different.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Zoom, Zoom!

Yesterday morning I hopped in my car and went to:

It's the town I grew up in. We moved there when I was 10 months old. My parents moved into the house my dad lives in, 6 weeks before I turned 5. The house has been "our house" for 45 years. That's a long time. While some things stay the same, other things change.

This is a picture of the driveway. We used to run up it, ahead of the car, playing "Beat the Bums"! It's not so easy these days to even WALK up the driveway, let alone sprint. We also used to ride our bikes to the top, once we graduated to a 3-speed.

I've never seen the hill so green. It blows my mind. My dad says there's been a LOT of rain this year. That's good. When I look closely, it looks like a wasteland that's been painted green. The tangelo trees that have ALWAYS been there are dead skeletons. It was a shock to see.

The house number that my mom erected is still there, flanked by stunted century plants. When we first moved in, there were two large century plants, standing like sentinels, at the base of the driveway. Then one bloomed. Then the other bloomed. The blooms were spectacular, but blooming killed the plants. I guess there are still seeds, since these are volunteers.

Another change is the wildlife. We had lots of cats when I was growing up. (Big surprise, right?) And there were coyotes. Now there are bunnies and, according to my dad, they are everywhere. He feuds with them, much like Yosemite Sam and Bugs.

At the top of the driveway is my mother's garden. She's been gone 10 years. I don't think it's been touched in all that time. The jacaranda tree is dead. An iris or two that I gave her are blooming, but that's it. The plants that were intentionally planted are for the most part dead. The weeds and volunteers are green. It's the rain.

My dad was President of the San Diego Rose Society in 1967. We always had roses. At one time he had 150 bushes, all groomed to perfection. He entered rose shows up and down the state. His interest in his roses comes and goes. They've been abandoned for a while, and many of the bushes are dead. This terraced garden used to EXPLODE with color. And fragrance.

Inside things are the same. He still has the same sign posted on his den door. I guess my mom, my three sisters and I were too much for him. I could probably count on one hand the number of times I've stepped foot in his den. I always wondered if he let my brother into the den, and if he did, did he let him talk?

Why did I take this trip to Memory Lane? I was on a rescue mission. We rescued my sister-in-law's piano from the garage. Whenever we can coordinate a trip, the piano will head to my daughter's house. In the meantime, it is resting in the van, waiting for some big strong guys to put it in the garage.

And that's all folks! Hope you enjoyed the show!

Monday, February 22, 2010

Call Us Crazy...

We love the backyard so much, we decided to go for the gusto and transform the front as well. Here is the crew, arriving at 8:30am, ready to begin "demolition."

For something like this, you just hold your breath and hope for the best. Every change is out there in the open, for all the world to see... Peel the lawn, roll it up, and take it away...

I am glad that I left this morning, when they chopped down my 10' Rose of Sharon. I had just noticed that it was beginning to push its leaves, and welcome Spring. It had no idea that today was its last. It was a good tree, a beautiful tree, and it gave me years of enjoyment. But it was too big, too messy, and my husband wasn't a fan. oh well. I do have 4 new Rose of Sharons planted in the back. I hope they do as well...

This job will take a lot longer than the back. We're tearing up concrete as well as vegetation. There is also more rain on the horizon. Stay tuned. I can guarantee there will be pictures!

Road Trip!!!

Tomorrow I'm supposed to pick up a piano, and I've spent the last couple of days contemplating my best option. On Saturday afternoon, I decided that I shall try to fit it into the van. However, the van was not in my driveway, the van was in my son's possession. ROADTRIP!!!

I started my engine at 6:10am and headed out. It was a dark and stormy morning. My early pictures are a bust. The stone fruit and nut trees are beginning their yearly blossom cycle, and I was bummed that you can't see how gorgeous the orchards are.

Fast forward an hour or so, and you reach this beautiful stretch north of Madera. Here, they've seeded wildflowers...and they're going wild.

Obviously I am not stopping for pictures. I tried to zoom without looking, and took multiple frames of asphalt.

The orange is spectacular, and it all seems to be a blur...

I am the only one on the road this Sunday morning. The views are lovely, and I have them all to myself. The wildflowers are growing on both sides of the freeway.

I made a pitstop at McDonalds in Ripon. As I pulled back towards the freeway, I got a nice, still shot of an orchard. Look at those trees. They're working to feed you and me. Yay, trees!!

My destination?

That doesn't help? How about this? (Notice the yellow bike sign?)

Or this?I arrived in Davis at 10:15am. After waking both of my boys, I took them out to breakfast. Then I swapped vehicles with the youngest, and was back on the road by 12:30pm.

Davis may be an Ag town, but it seems a bit unkempt, compared to the farming communities I've driven through on my way up here.

It's looking a bit gloomier than it was a few hours ago.

Have you ever seen a rice field? Rice is planted under the Causeway, between Sacramento and Davis.

Wow. The weather is really picking up. I'm still one of the few people driving in it.

I'm getting a bit restless. I look around. One scene hasn't changed much in the past 7 hours...

The sun began breaking through in the west. As I squinted from the glare, I glanced to the east. Grab the camera, point and shoot! I can't believe I caught it. The rainbow was picture perfect, and you could see both the beginning and end.

Finally, here is the last shot I was looking for.

I don't see sheep very often. They magically appear, and then they're gone. I don't know where they live, but I saw them yesterday. From a distance, they look like lumps of cotton on the green grass.

Once you get closer, you can see, "Aha! They are sheep!!"

And so they are.

That's the end of the picture show, folks. I always enjoy driving up and down our fertile San Joaquin Valley. Thanks for traveling with me!!

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Spring Seems to be Springing

Yesterday was a day most glorious. The early morning fog/mist burned off and left us with sunshiny gorgeousity. :) huh. Blogger doesn't think that's a word. But if you were here, and saw my backyard, you would know EXACTLY what I mean by that.

It was a day to pull out the camera and snap some pictures. Today I woke to the sound of pouring rain. woohoo! That means more flowers!!

Some of the new plants (a dozen or so) are azaleas. Three of them have popped a bloom. Look at all of those buds, just waiting to burst.

Mr. DeMille? I'm ready for my close-up.

One of the plants that survived the backyard upheaval was the camellia. It wasn't on the plan, but no one told the guys to take it out. I'm glad they left it. It is a faithful bush, always rewarding us with a yearly display of perfect blooms.

Another group that survived in the back is this orchid patch. The landscaper was here yesterday, and noticed them, all fenced off and protected. (I'm trying to tell the new gardener that this is a "Round-up free zone.") It won't be long before these beauties have stalks of beautiful miniature red-violet orchids, bringing a smile to my face.

I saved many of the geraniums as well, shoving them into pots. I hope to put them into the front yard, when we give it its MASSIVE makeover. More about that later.

Pat's orchid is still on the porch, blooming vigorously, rewarding me for faithfully ignoring it.

Look at those flowers! They're take-your-breath-away beautiful.

At the base of one of the sequoias, I planted crocus bulbs. Three of the yellow flowers have bloomed, now it's the white one's turn.

In preparation for the front work, I've been digging up plants that I want to save. Here we've got primroses, ranunculuses, and a couple of cyclamen, that all look like they survived their uprooting.

This patch used to hold that 2-headed sago palm, and was overrun with violets. Every day I've gone out there, uprooting violets. I enjoy violets, but when we get our makeover, I don't want to be infested with them.

That area has been bulldozed and raked and gone over again and again. Most of the plants were destroyed in the process. Or I thought they were. Some refuse to say "Uncle," like this pansy. Her leaves may be completely buried, but she found the strength to pop her bud up and bloom. I thought that effort to be worthy of a picture.

Finally, I guess the reason I am so focused on the yard is that I gave the Landscaper the okay to begin the front on Monday. Yikes. 8am. Demolition. We're talking the rip up sidewalks, pull down a couple of fences, pull out trees type of demolition. If I tell you my stomach is quivery about this one, I will not be exaggerating. It will likely take more than a week, what with the cement work and everything. Other than that? As long as I have the final say over what goes where (overruling the plans, if necessary), then I think I can handle it.

On your mark, get set, GO!!!