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Sunday, October 13, 2013


It's been so long since we've had a plot of dirt of our own to play in.  The first challenge is to identify what's there. . .I don't know the plants in this part of the world. Below is just a sample from the front.  We also have very little in the way of garden tools. But that didn't stop us from puttering in the sunshine today. Happily there seem to be a lot of plants that have purple flowers.

The front garden may have had the attentions of a professional landscaper at some point, but is now a little overgrown. The upkeep deteriorates as you move to the back. We had to tread carefully through the brambles and overgrown flowers encroaching on the path. The 'lawn' is about 50% weeds.  No matter, we plan to dig it up and put in a vegetable garden. But until then, we may have to borrow a lawn mower.

Back of the house with the odd staircase

Quince and Pear from the same tree
There's a butterfly bush on the left that's threatening to take over and a neglected fruit tree on the right - that grows both
pears and quinces. It might have been a pear grafted onto a quince root stock that was never pruned.  We'll have to get some advice on this one.  It should be pruned. . . but how much, where, and when?  The idea of a tree producing two kinds of fruit is great, even if that probably wasn't the original idea. I cooked these up with some other fruit into a tasty pear / quince / apple sauce.

There's lavender in there somewhere
Buried in a nest of weeds in the very back are two mature lavender plants.  While D. was bravely ripping up brambles and whacking back the overgrown flower beds, I was hauling on vines and pulling grass and other weeds out of the lavender plants.  Then I trimmed back all the flowers and left them to dry on the kitchen counter, perfuming the empty house.  I swear I heard the plants breathe a sigh of relief.

"Ahhhh, that feels better"
We won't be doing much more than trying to keep it under control until after the construction crews have been and gone.  I know what they're like with their big boots and bigger vehicles. . . . 
       We've met most of the neighbors and their dogs by now. They were all eager to know when we would be moving in.   Now they know it's going to be a building site , but I think they are glad the house won't be standing empty for much longer.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

The House of Ten Doors

One of the oddities of the house we just bought: it has ten doors to the outside.  Every room aside from the bathrooms has at least one outer door.  This doesn't count the two sets of French doors we found propped up against the inside wall of the garage. We'll probably fill in some of these as we re-skin the building So as a record, here they are:

Left to right, starting at top: upper south west, basement 1, ground floor north 1, basement 2, front door, ground floor west 1, basement sliding door, upper north west, upper west, ground floor west 2.

  Many of these doors don't shut well, with little gaps around the edges. The place must be pretty cold in the winter.  No wonder they felt the need to stick a gas fireplace into a very odd little bay window that doesn't look out onto the bay, but rather the house next door.  It's in an awkward space. If anyone were to pull up a chair in front of the fire to warm themselves, they'd effectively block all passage between one side of the house and the other, and the stairs, and all but one of the outer doors.

Continuing the theme of too many doors, there's also the toilet that doubles as a corridor. It is the only way to get between the two main sections of the basement without going out one door and in through another. As the real estate agent told us, they designed the previous renovation themselves. . . and it shows.

Monday, October 7, 2013

We're at it again!

Just when you thought it was safe to write our address in ink in your little black book. . .
We're going to relocate, again!
To those who know us, it shouldn't come as a huge surprise. We've always talked about building a house, but never felt settled enough to consider it. Well, after 20 years of marriage, maybe it's time to put down roots?

We've spent the past eight months or so looking for a place to build.  Empty lots within easy bicycle commute of D's office with a good view are non-existent . Plan B, find something that really needs to be knocked down or substantially rebuilt.  That wasn't easy either, they've all been done, sometimes very badly. Who wants to pay a fortune for a recently renovated house only to rip out half the work and start over again? Plan C, sigh.  Find one that has been redone, but not too recently, and is in bad enough shape that the asking price isn't quite so scary.  Our real estate agent got temporarily distracted by Plan D, find a place we actually liked (but the whole point is, we really want to build a place of our own, not squeeze into someone else's ideal home). . .  Plan C finally succeeded about two weeks ago.

It was a house we saw several months ago, but nixed because of some serious design flaws and the poor condition of the exterior.  Then we finally got our act together and engaged and architect, and the sellers got tired of the house not selling and reduced the price substantially and tada! We're picking up the keys today. Gulp.  

I'm approaching the first visit with some trepidation.  The last time we saw it, the place was full of junk - The garage and basement especially.  Our agent went by yesterday and said the U-haul was out front and they were emptying out the garage. . . so perhaps it won't look like an explosion in a charity shop. . . one can only hope.  
Pictures soon, I promise!