17 July, 2014

out of the loop

the interwebs loop that is!  We have had all kinds of bother with internet connection up here in the wilds of VT.  I have finally relented and come begging for internet from my neighbours.

So, some catching up:
 Matt bought a turntable, a Vermont one, as he also bought a fancy one for Singapore.  We have had fun playing our old records which consist of things like ABBA, the Beach Boys, Wham, and 50 greatest disco hits.  Although I found a fantastic $3 (although it ended up being free) really good condition Blossom Dearie in a bric a brac store here.
 Before Matt came up there were some pretty slack dinners...guacomole for dinner for eg.

 And our new Favourite family game...skipbo.
 There's been swimming in the snow making pond...

 4th of July celebrations with friends where I got to wear boots (yay!) because it was a bit nippy.

 Ella set up a lemonade stand and was quite successful.
 And trips to Albany to both drop off and pick up Matt from Albany for the train to NYC.
 And some gorgeous sunsets on the road.
 I had to scrape back and repaint the front steps as the paint had blistered.  I used deck stain this time.  Such a pain though, because I only painted them last summer.
 I took the kids on a day trip to a marble quarry about 50 mins drive away.  They loved it.  Lots of jumping and loads of kids their ages.

And catfish in the Quarry.
 On the way home we stopped and did some bric a brac shopping...
 And had a coffee.  Ella loves her old polaroid she got for $8.
 I fell in love with this little scrimshaw walrus tusk seal in an exclusive little gallery of inuit art.  He lives in my home now.
 We have had many very thundery evenings.

 We did lots of land clearing and mad discoveries...

 All in preparation for our landscape people who are coming to tear things up next week!
 And a gorgeous full moon driving back from Albany last Friday.
 We stopped for a lobster dinner...
 We made lots of purchases at the Farmer's market last weekend....

 And got an invite to a real barn dance in a real barn which we went to with our neighbours, ate lots of food and tore up the dance floor.  SO MUCH FUN!!!  I want a barn now. (only an instagram repost from Matt as we were all having too much fun).

And a yurt...they also had a yurt....

Meanwhile:  I have also finished painting the back of the house...  and clearing around the shed.

 Kit chose to buy an air rifle with his money from working for our neighbours.
 And since Monday, when I got my new ladder, I've been working on these windows and the wood at the top.

I'm not loving the look of the windows painted with the blue, but we are biting the bullet and getting new windows put in that will be nice and white in the middle (which is why I didn't paint it)

 And I'm still working on my knitting....
 And tomorrow Remi leaves us and heads back down to CT tomorrow.  We will fly out with him in less than 2 weeks!!!!!

02 July, 2014

hitting the wall

Metaphorically speaking.  Yesterday my neighbour came over with his chainsaw to try and help us out with removing part of the tree trunk.  We got a couple of pieces off, but for the most part it is still a giant stump in the ground.  So I'm going to call someone in.  It feels a bit like defeat, but I now at least have a vision for what I'd like to happen back there which will help, I hope, in making it happen.

01 July, 2014

how it's going

SLOWLY and PAINFULLY!  This has become a bit of a bigger job than I had envisioned when we started.
 These photos are in order, and while none of them are from the same angle, you can kind of see the progress we are making...kind of.  The big rock sticking out at a strange angle just to the left of the tree stump just got bigger and bigger the more we tried to excavate around it.  You can see what we did with it in the picture at the bottom.
 We have moved bucket after bucket of soil out to this area of the yard which has a really funny double slope angle and could never be mowed because of it.  This photo was taken on Friday of last week and is a tiny amount compared with what we've since moved.  I've put wildflower seeds into part of it, but when we finish I want to put some more all over it.
 We've made a hell of a mess and moved many many stones.  My plan is to put most of these back into the wall and make it a stone wall.
 But this is what has been slowing us down.  This mass of tree roots. Tree roots with pebbles and rocks mixed in, the roots grown tight around them.  It's not like we can even bring in a chain saw as there's too many rocks and clay earth all around the roots.  That little trowel does most of the work, chipping and digging away to move as many rocks as possible, then Kit comes in with the axes, mattock and crowbar.
 We may have cheered when we got this piece out!
 And yesterday Remi joined our little chain gang (Ella helps to dig things out and carry buckets), and we managed to uncover that massive rock and tip it forward (and there it will have to stay as it's way too big to move anywhere else) which made the decision for me that I'm doing a stone wall not a purpose built retaining wall!
 Unfortunately Remi ripped his hands to shreds using the mattock (he has so many blisters it looks like he's put his hands on something hot) so it will be back to just Kit, Ella and I (and our aching shoulders, backs and hands) to keep going today!

26 June, 2014

out back

Sometimes I forget how much we've done to this house!  I was looking for old photos today of the area out the back of the kitchen to see how much we've done.  Ahem!  Oh my!

This area, just of the barn was more or less a hill of all manner of vegetation when we moved in.  Slowly we've reclaimed it.  We've dug so many massive rocks out of there...the whole of the front path is made with rocks we dug out.  We've uncovered the remnants of two stone walls which (I now know; see my previous post with the old photo I found of the house) held up two structures, and we've opened  it up at the back nicely...

Trying to put these photos in order is a little tricky, but I will try.  I think this is the first photo I have of the area taken in the autumn after we'd had the trees cut down, but before we began any work in that area.  The following spring this area was COVERED in vegetation.
This area traps a fair amount of snow in the winter....

The results of all the trees we'd had cut down!

This is when we first started digging rocks out....

Apparently we all helped (oh how I miss dear Lily)

And there were some BIG ones...
But eventually we got it to a decent state...although the greenery would always come back int he spring.
So at the end of last summer, Kit and I really started to work back into the area and try and level it off...

The two trees that we had cut down when we moved in (because they were threatening the house) have riddled this area with roots.  Fortunately, attacking those roots is one of Kit's favourite jobs to do...give the boy and axe!

After a lot of hard work we got it to this point....

( It looked great last summer, but as I knew it would, the weed cloth around the edges didn't hold back either the weeds, nor the rocks that get pushed down with the snow.  It looked a bit different a year later).

 And I have to remember that Matt had left the US last summer before Kit and I even started this work. He's not seen it looking like this.  We literally finished it just a day or so before we left.

Now it looks like this again (apologies for the blurry photo...it was raining) as we try and dig it out enough to put a nice straight(ish) retaining wall all the way around.  I'm not sure yet whether I'm going to try and use the flat stone wall rocks that I keep coming across (do I trust myself to build a stone wall?) or whether I will have to buy purpose made retaining wall blocks.  All along the left hand side of the photo there you can see all the roots that I had Kit working on cutting out.  That tree is still partly alive and some of the roots are green and really hard to cut through.  They grow around all the little rocks and it's tiring and tedious work to dig the roots out enough to be able to get at them.
 Either way, this was a full day's work and both of us are aching..  I still want to try and go across and get as much of that other stump out as I can... or Kit can.  Remi's up next week too.
And you can see the "gardening" I'm going to have to do here.  All the white flowers are a terribly noxious weed that has to be killed off every year.  And those "trees" blocking the view to the shed up the back are shoots from the trees we had cut down that I have to try to find a way to kill finally.

It feels good to have got started on something productive though.