Light At The End Of The Tunnel

I’ve taken a couple of days off this week between projects to work on my “monkey on my back” list. And I’m actually making slow but steady progress.

The screen porch is well on its way. The Screen Tight porch screen system is really great and relatively easy to install. The wife has been helping me. Having two people makes the job a lot easier. For reference our porch is about 20′ x 14′ and has three sides. As you might recall we had the porch framed in, with 2×4’s, 4×4’s and columns, and painted white last year. So all we had to do was install the screening system. I went to Lowes and Home Depot to buy the components – the Depot for the Screen Tight track components and Phifer BetterVue 48″ wide black fiberglass screen material and Lowes for the 0.175″ diameter spline material in a bulk bucket of 300′. Cost was $400 for these materials, including a 36″ x 80″ premade screen door; which included door hardware. Though now I’m wondering if I got enough screen….we’ll see because we’re not done yet.

I figured we’d be done with the porch by now, especially with 80 degree weather planned for tomorrow but honestly, it’s been tough getting a second set of hand out there and the weather has been really cold lately. It was super easy to screw the track in place and that can be a one man job. But putting the screen up benefits from a helper, even if it is just for moral support and a voice of reason. We had to call off working on the screen yesterday because of the wind. The wind just blows the screen all over and make it difficult to get it tight. And the cold weather makes everything stiff so it’s tough to get the spline in the track. Warmer weather relaxes everything and makes it easier. That being said we’re averaging about 3 sections of screen a day which isn’t a lot. Actually the last section took just 10 minutes to do but it seemed like 30 mins. It’s kind of stressful because you don’t know how it will turn out until a section is done; if there are “waves” you have to pull the spline and re-tighten a portion of the section. We’re learning the techniques, tips and tricks as we go so we are getting better. It’s just that the novelty of stretching screen has worn off. There is some urgency because you’re not supposed to leave the track exposed to sunlight, but we’re doing the best we can. I don’t think it’s going to degrade much over a few days of Ohio on again, off again Spring sunshine.

In addition to the porch I have been moving nearly eight yards of top soil from the drive to the veggie garden. What a total pain in the butt but it is basically done. Tomorrow or later this week I’ll till the soil again – new soil and existing earth, along with bags of compost / manure. I use one 25 lb. bag of compost per 100 sq. ft. of veggie garden. Our garden is about 40′ x 20′. That’s eight bags if you’re following at home. I will probably toss in some plant food too before I till the soil.

I have finally finished all the garden gates too, for the most part at least. I have to mount the two double gates later this week but wanted to wait until all the soil was moved so the gates didn’t get in the way. I’ll keep posting photos. Basically I designed them myself and simply used 2×4’s and 2×3’s with corner lap joints and ran a 2×2 diagonally to stiffen them. I then stapled garden wire on the outside and mounted two Stanley hinges each. The key in my opinion is to keep their weight to a minimum. This should make them easier to operate and give them a longer service life. Weight is always a negative in moving parts; the lighter they are the less work they have to do over time. Keeping my gates light should serve them, and us, well in the long run.

One addition to our garden was a gift from my mother, a statue of St. Fiacre, the patron saint of gardens / gardening. He is also the patron saint of venereal diseases and his name is invoked when praying for someone to heal hemorrhoids so we’re covered pretty much across the board. It’s a really cool statue that looks like stone but is a plastic resin. St. Fiacre can be seen holding a shovel and has a bunny rabbit hanging out by his feet, so a little nod to the VW.  I  proudly placed the statue of our Irish friend in the corner of the garden, under my favorite crab apple tree. May he find our garden to be most agreeable and may he look over it, the crops we grow, us as we work in the yard, and finally all those who enjoy the fruits of our bounty.

I drove out to the Depot to look at a sink for my studio (that project has been going on for like eight months now…and no I didn’t find a solution yet) and couldn’t resist buying a 8′ tall Eastern Redbud tree. I’d been eyeing them from weeks now, standing on pallets in front of the store. They were reasonably price so I bought and stuffed one in the Rabbit. As you may recall the four redbud (twigs) we ordered online, and planted last fall, didn’t leaf this year and were dead as door nails. The plan calls for four of them to bookend the playground. I yanked one dead one out and replaced it with my new leafy friend.

Sure enough we went back to the Depot to get the compost I wanted for the garden, and I wanted to get the tall 9′ tree I’d been eyeing, but didn’t buy cause it wouldn’t fit in the Rabbit this morning. Wouldn’t you believe it, the really tall one (they’re all the same price) sold between my two trips today, morning to afternoon. Darn it, I should have stuffed the really tall one behind the oak trees. No one buys oak trees.

If that wasn’t bad enough I made the mistake of asking my two blonde boys which redbud tree they liked (Home Depot had a bunch to choose from…more than anyone else I know of, at that price). I hauled out the two finalists and of course you know what happened next. One boy picked one and the other boy picked the other. Well we only needed one because we’re trying to save a buck, and the space in reality is smaller than what the plan shows…I really think we can get by with just two guardian Redbuds in front of the playset.

Which son do you like more?” My wife asked me.

I thought about it briefly and, while a name popped in my head, I decided it inherently wrong to play favorites. Or at least let anyone know you play favorites.

So now we have a total of three Redbud trees. I picked out one. One of the Redbuds is James’ tree, and one is Jude’s tree. This is becoming a theme around here. Named trees. The wife has her birch tree. I have my five black gum trees. I named the two transplanted trees, standing watch over the garden, “John’s trees” after my nephew who transplanted them. Hmm…that’s three of the twelve apostles…maybe I need to name nine more trees.

Not to sound totally crazy but I am thinking of getting little species markers for the various trees and bushes we have…maybe after I mow the nature paths in. I’ve learned so much about them all, I think it’s be fun to take a stroll and look at all the plants and compare and contrast.

Well I have to get back to design work tomorrow, but I can see the light at the end of the tunnel. Once we finish the porch and garden we’re pretty much done outside. We have one round of planting next week, not counting the veggie garden. By then the porch should be done. Oh, I have to make a sandbox before Memorial Day weekend, but that should be a Saturday project that I can wrap up solo in a day. And I’ve got a couple of things to paint (my studio ’cause the paint is just sitting there in a can, and the cistern tops to protect them from UV light – shoulda done this last year, eeek!). And we want to get some decoration up on the walls, like in the Family Room, to make the house more “homey”. Ok I think that’s it….for now.

Seriously I may be close to getting back in the art studio, going fishing and / or golfing. Plus getting back to hammering the design front, getting projects and new clients hopefully. Really awesome time.  Lot of work but it’s all worth it. All part of a greater goal and going relatively according to plan. I just need to remember there is only one of me so I have to remain cool and take my time. And while I agree it doesn’t all have to be done right away I have my (good) reasons to try to get as much done as I can now.

2 thoughts on “Light At The End Of The Tunnel

  1. admire your productivity – if you run out of stuff to do, come see us! btw, was given a St. Fiacre garden statue as well so thanks for the additional info – too funny!


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