I’ve got big plans for the garden.

Vegetables: there’s enough space for a relatively huge vegetable garden on the south side. I hope to plant two kinds of tomatoes, peppers (sweet and hot), onions, garlic, chives, pumpkins, lettuce, and some herbs. Mostly it’ll save a little money at the grocery store, and hopefully allow us to make salsa whenever we feel like it. As long as the vegetables show up.

In another area, I want to plant asparagus. And in another, raspberries (they are pricey at the store, but the plants are cheap).

The front of the house has to be redone — there’s almost nothing growing in front of it. I was thinking azaleas or rhododendrons, and maybe a magnolia tree somewhere.

The big backyard is fairly empty, but planning is complicated by the presence of several very large trees that create quite a bit of shade. In one corner I thought about the raspberries, and in the other, a prairie-type planted area to attract butterflies and moths. We’ve always wanted to see a Luna Moth in person, so maybe our prairie area would attract some if they still exist in our area. We already have a persimmon tree nearby, so that’s a start.

I’ll be starting most of the plants from seed in order to save some money. Never had much luck with seedlings, but maybe this time will be different.

After a grueling weekend, more electrical rewiring work has been accomplished! The living room outlets are finished, and the ceiling lights are on their way. We won’t be seeing the electrician for 3 more weeks, so that gives me time track down cloth-covered lamp wire to rewire the two chandeliers before they go back up. We also have to find an outside porch light (leaning towards a hanging light, which seems a bit harder to find).

We also have to track down some brown modular cable/phone/ethernet jacks (going to put 4 jacks in each single-gang spot). I figure we may as well wire up the house since we’re already having so much fun.

We’d like to get another floorlamp to match the old one we already have, which also needs rewiring (go figure!).

It’s nice to see the progress; after the living room lights are done, there only remains the bedroom and bathroom!

I tried re-using the old cover plates, but the stuck out from the wall a bit, leaving a gap between the plate and the wall. So I got some antique bronze metal plates from the hardware store. Normally I wouldn’t spend money on such a thing, but they do really look nice compared to shiny platic plain brown (our old plates had a ridged pattern but we didn’t have enough since we installed so many new outlets).

Yesterday I went to Hancock Fabrics to get some fabric for a footstool (ratty secondhand store find that we’re going to make match the new huge Mama’s chair). I couldn’t help but get some fabric for curtains, and a new curtain rod, and clips. I didn’t think the wife would go for it, but she really loved it. The red wasn’t working in our space. I could even leave the wall color alone at this point, too. I also picked up a 24×48″ canvas using one of those Michael’s 50% off coupons, so it only cost $10. That’s going to go in the living room, in the huge expanse of blank over the TV. I also have to get cracking on starting what will end up being 4 18″-square paintings for the baby’s room.

Close-up of the pattern. Groovy art nouveau!

I suppose it’s time to start planning our first real garden. At least thinking about it helps ward off the winter blahs.

For the vegetable garden, we’re planning on: tomatoes, red/green peppers, hot peppers, onions, pumpkin, garlic, and maybe some herbs. Possibly some asparagus too. I think we’ll end up using a space of about 20 x 10 or 15 feet maximum. Searching on the internet has led me to some unusual vegetable varieties that I’ve never seen in stores, so maybe we’ll try a few of those for kicks.

At the edge of the back yard, I’d like to plant a few raspberry bushes.

As for the rest of the yard, we have to cut down a diseased pine before it infects another larger pine close by. There’s also a not-too-big persimmon tree threatening our incoming power line that we should probably take care of while we’re cutting. Deciding on trees to plant has been difficult. I do know we want an apple tree, but I keep reading that to get apples, two trees are required. I’d like a weeping willow, and a ginkgo, for some variety.

Last fall I hacked away some invasive mulberry bushes (growing inside other bushes). I’ve got a feeling they’ll be coming back from the stumps, so I suppose I should dig them out before they start growing again.

We haven’t thought about flowers at all since it’s not a priority right now. Although I’d like a lilac bush or two. One side of the house is lines with white hydrangeas, and my neighbor says they’ve been there for at least 40 years. Maybe white lilacs on the other side would be a nice complement to those. But they probably wouldn’t bloom at the same time of year.

Under the huge maple in the backyard, there isn’t much grass. OK, no grass. We were thinking about planting some ivy as ground cover for that bare patch.

That’s enough for my escape from winter. I have to drill some holes and do some more prep work for the electrician today. Hopefully by the end of the weekend, the living room and dining room will be rewired to completion! More than 2 outlets in the living room sure will be nice.

In the last week we’ve had a huge snowfall followed by a couple inches of rain. Some of the surrounding towns were flooded.
We didn’t get much water in the basement though; just the tiniest bit of seepage from a corner that already had some cracks. So, project one will be to seal the cracks, and apply some waterstop paint to the concrete walls in the basement to reduce the humidity down there.

Project two was a joy — cleaning out the gutters. I don’t know the last time they were cleaned. We meant to do this in the fall, but got carried away in other things instead. Anyway. A spaghetti spoon did the trick to scoop out the muck. And the “gutter slop” smelled exactly like the small from our basement floor drains when we didn’t have them covered up. So I’m assuming they’re all going to the same place, wherever that might be.

Project three is tuckpointing brick. While I was cleaning the gutters I noticed some of the brick foundation was missing mortar, almost completely in some spots. Sounds like more fun to me.

No exciting pictures to post.

Other than that, the rewiring is still in progress. We have a brighter floodlight at the back entrance now. We’re thinking about how the bathroom’s going to be redone sometime. At the moment we’re planning on a tin ceiling. The only issue will be whether it will be silver/chrome/nickel in color or white. I’d go for silver, but it seems new bathroom ventilation fans only come in white, and a white fan sticking out of a silver ceiling might look strange. We’re planning to keep the silver schoolhouse light fixture in the ceiling. We’ll see!

We’ve got a huge list of things we would like to get done during the next year. We’ll see what actually gets done!

1. Fence the back yard, so we don’t have to worry about the dogs escaping.
2. Have the plumbing checked out, and at least have the worst pipes replaced, if not all of them.
3. Finish the electric rewiring, including the garage and outdoors.
4. Replace broken garage siding and repaint all of it.
5. Put an entry door on the side of the garage.
6. Landscaping – cut down a dead tree, plant some new trees, put in some brick walkways.
7. Finish at least part of the basement – new bathroom and bedroom/office/playroom.
8. Work on the kitchen – this one probably won’t get started let alone finished next year.
9. Get some new furniture — things that match!
10. Install at least a plywood floor in the attic; check out venting the attic.
11. Restore the windows.
12. Scrape and repaint the roof overhangs.
13. New toilet, tile, and fan in the existing bathroom.
14. Crown, picture, and/or chair moulding in the rooms without it.

There. That comes out to a bit more than one project a month. I’m sure we’ll think of more to do — or we’ll have emergencies to deal with as they happen. I didn’t even bother writing down “check into installing central A/C” since I’m pretty sure that won’t fit into our budget at all next year.

Not much in the way of news. But I did find the perfect fabric for a curtain in the nook (aka the happy room). It was a remnant at the fabric store. Here I just draped it over the existing curtain rod, until time allows me to make it a “real” curtain.

I woke up this morning to find there was no water from any of the faucets. That means, no morning pot of coffee. Lucky for me, I had a gallon jug of water. I went to the basement to see if there was a frozen or burst water pipe. I didn’t see any damage or leaking but one of the basement windows had blown open (it refuses to latch closed). I did the best I could to keep it closed by basically piling junk wood in front of it, inside and outside. A while later, maybe 20 minutes, I tried the water again and both hot and cold were working. The mystery third faucet was not working still, coming out only at a trickle.
A bit later, I tried the mystery faucet again, and reddish-brown nasty water came out. It’s the first time I’d ever seen that here. It eventually turned clear.
From what I thought I could tell, the regular hot and cold faucets were originally from a well, went through a water softener, and then into the various parts of the house. The mystery faucet bypassed the water softener. I heard the owners a few years ago had trouble with the well, and switched the house to city water. The main water entry line now leads to pipes coming off the old water softener. I guess I thought that the mystery faucet was fed by the city water too, but maybe it is still coming from the well. I don’t know anything about wells but I’ll have to find out, I guess.