Summer Flowers

A few photos from a sunny summer day in the yard. Not as many cone flowers came up this year. I think they’re are being over grown by weeds. Daisies, sun flowers and black-eyed-susans are here and there.

Our day lilies finally started blooming after two years since planting them. Only three of them so far but they are beautiful.

 

 

 

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Transplanting the Window Tree

I’ve been watching a tree grow up in our from bed for a year or two now. It started as a wild seed and is now 12′ tall. I figured I’d better move it now since there is no sense in it growing up where it started growing.

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The “window tree” growing up in front of the foyer windows. We didn’t plant it, rather it just started growing there.

I didn’t want to just chop it down, so I tried transplanting it yesterday to a spot along the nature trail, near where another old tree had died. I dug around the base of the tree and tried to preserve as much of the roots as I could. That being said, I didn’t go overboard in my care either.

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The tree transplanted along the nature trail.

After planting it I checked on it later in the day and it was not doing well so I gave it some water. I’ll check on it this morning, give it more water. Hopefully it can figure out it has a happy new home and not die.

As best I can tell it is an ash tree, which means it’s probably doomed even if it survives since we have emerald ash borers, an invasive species of insect from overseas that destroys ash trees.

I’ve not had much much with transplanting trees this year. A nice little maple that was growing wild outside my studio got transplanted a couple weeks ago, but I forgot to water it. So it’s dead now.

 

Driveway Moss

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After six years the driveway has turned into virtual cement infused with living moss and grasses. I’ve been watching it grow all this time. I know the moss. I know the trees. I know their stories. I’ve been watching them grow. Seeing what we’ve become.

Amityville Horror (but with mice)

Caught what I believe is baby mouse thirteen and fourteen tonight. Once again within like twenty minutes of each other. Around nine o’clock, the mousing hour in our home, the wife said “Did you set the trap because the cat is playing with it”.

“No I didn’t set the trap. Let me check and see if there’s anything in it”

Well I picked it up and about jumped out of my skin, for a mouse was concealed under the trap. In fact the whole family jumped and screamed. It was quite a site. The mouse darted from the hall into the bathroom with cat in tow. I closed the door so we could get the mouse box, yes we have a paper box that is the official mouse box.

I opened the door and this one was a jumper. I cornered it behind the toilet, and it was trying to jump up the corner of the wall. Quickly I got it in the paper…er, mouse box. The kids and I took the mouse out. There was still some daylight so we were able to take the mouse far down the driveway. Along the way we saw the milk snake sitting silently in the middle of the driveway. I so badly wanted to drop the mouse right in front of the snake and watch the snake kill it, but the kids begged me not too.

Darn.

A half hour later, as we were relaxing in the family room, my kid says “Dad I think I hear squeaking!”.

“Turn the tv down” and I jumped up to go find the cat. Not on the main floor, in my bedroom or foyer. But I could kind of hear squeaking too. Damn it.

Then my cat comes prancing up the stairs from the basement with a mouse in his mouth. The bastard brought the damn thing upstairs like it was his little stuffed animal or fuzzy ball. The cat dropped the mouse of in the bedroom. I’m scrambling for the mouse box. The cat has the damn thing under his paw against the baseboard. I make him let it go and the freaking mouse goes under the dresser. We get a yard stick, shove it under the dresser. I move a little chest at the end of the dresser on the floor and the mouse pops out and jumps into the mouse box.

We took the stupid mouse outside and let it go in the driveway.

This is so annoying. All I can think of is we have to totally go through the bedroom and storage room to exercise any nests and plug any holes we can find. I don’t know if the damn things live in here or they are coming back repeatedly. We have two cats for the love of god. These stupid mice should not want to be in our house.

I need more snakes.

Milk Snake

The other day, after days of releasing baby mice outside of the house, I saw a big snake moving in from the front planting bed towards the front deck. I called for the boys to come take a look. We had no idea what kind of snake it was. So I googled it and found this keen article on Cleveland.com about the 25 types of snakes that live in Ohio. The wife and I narrowed it down to milk, rat and fox snakes. I sent a message off to the Cuyahoga Valley National Park asking them to help me identify it. Turns out it’s a milk snake. The milk snake is a constrictor, meaning it squeezes it’s prey and swallows it whole, and their primary food is mice. So it is a very friendly animal to have in our yard. I’m hoping this two foot long snake eats up all the mice it can find around the perimeter of my house.

One note on the mice: number 12 and 13 baby mouse were caught and released last night. Ugh.

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2′ long milk snake

 

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Milk Snake by front deck.

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Playground Stain

With Memorial Day weekend coming up, now was the time to finally clean up and stain the kids’ playground set. We’ve had the set for five years now and it was looking pretty sad.

Once again I found myself at Lowe’s, I picked up some Olypmic deck cleaner and two gallons of stain. I got Cabot semi-solid deck stain, in two colors. Mission Brown for the play set, and an Oak Brown for another project. It was buy one get one free (after rebate). About $46 per gallon. The cleaner was like $20. I picked up some brushes and mineral spirits too.

I had planned on pressure washing the set but the cleaner said that wasn’t necessary. I applied the cleaner section by section with a pump sprayer, let it sit for a few minutes and used a hand scrub brush to take the dirt, cleaner and old stain off.

Yes! The cleaner actually was taking the old stain off! Left behind was grey weathered wood in some places. In other places it looked like brand new wood. It worked awesome. I could have power washed the set at that point to remove remaining residue but honestly I was trying to do this efficiently and rinsing everything off with a hose worked well enough for me. Two notes: 1) the old stain clumps up and will create a mess and lots of residue so rinsing is critical, and 2) use the cleaner everywhere because it takes the stain off. If you leave the stain on and don’t use the cleaner certain areas, those areas won’t take the new stain as well.

The stain took to the set wonderfully. The Mission Brown was basically a match of the original color, a nice deep brown with reddish hue. One gallon was enough to almost do the entire set. I need about a quart more to finish some underside portions.

The project took about 2-3 days by myself, a few hours each of those days.

Garage Loft Support

Earlier this month I noticed the 4×4 post near the center of the loft was bowed in two directions. Could there really be that much weight up there? As you may remember, we built the loft back in October. So here we are in May, five months later and now the post is bowing.

I was worried the whole thing would come down, so I had a friend come over and help me unload some bins I had stored on the loft. We installed a temporary 4×4 to help support the bowed post.

This past weekend I was able to run up to Lowe’s and drop about $50-$75 on some lumber, brackets and construction adhesive. The plan I made was to install two wing walls at each end of the loft. Each would provide 24″ of support under the LVL header. These wing walls will basically disappear once I complete all of my wood shelves I want to build along the perimeter of the garage. The primary part of my plan though would be two 4×4 supports in the middle of the loft. These two posts would be 3′ apart, leaving 9′ of open span to each side to the next 4×4 post against each wall.

I built the 2×4 wing walls on my saw horses and installed them. Under the bottom plates I used construction adhesive, then secured the plates with concrete fastening screws. I screwed the wing walls to the existing 4×4 posts that support the loft where it meets the walls. And lastly I screwed the top plate to the underside of the LVL.

In the center of the loft area I placed a 3′ bottom plate on the cement and a top plate on the underside of the LVL. Between the plates I inserted two 4×4 posts. I secured everything to each other, using metal brackets to help reinforce the 4×4 to plate connection.

I don’t think these new supports will hinder access to a parked car. I can’t imagine the loft is going anywhere now.

What I really believe is the single 4×4 post just warped as it dried out. I don’t think there was any danger of the loft collapsing, but it was scary at first until I could really assess the situation and reinforce it.

Pictures below. Enjoy.