Posts That Didn't Make It

I keep coming up with ideas for posts and then not having a whole lot to say (or, in a few cases, none of the photos to illustrate, on account of how it got all dark here all of a sudden). So today: a collection of posts too brief to make it out on their own.

Poppy-Planting Season

In Northern California, we are planting poppies right now (or we ought to be). I have been fairly lazy about starting them from seed, so I bought some nice ones from Annie's and put them in among the ornamental cabbages (which are going along nicely). This weekend I think I will change the anti-stomp fencing around, to block off the entire poppy bed and aid in their survival, but so far the dogs seem to be concentrating on destroying the poor daylilies before they get a chance to put out fall foliage.

That is a Whole LOT of Concrete

Last week I was doing some calculations for the number of sacks of concrete mix required for the shed slab. 102,000 cubic inches of concrete required, which is about 59 cubic feet, and each 80lb sack makes... 0.6 cubic feet of concrete. A hundred sacks.

It turns out that you can get it delivered by the pallet-load, with about 40 sacks per pallet. I did consider having a truck come, but that's just slightly over two yards, and either we kill ourselves and all the plantings wheelbarrowing it back, or we'd need to get it pumped, which would be $RIDICULOUS, so it's not going to happen.

The premixed stuff is $3 a bag, roughly, so I'd expect that with delivery it would come out to under $500, a number much closer to my budget for this shed (I wanted to stay under $1000 for the whole thing).

Making Mulch

I've been slacking on stealing leaves, because it's been either really hot or really cold, and I am not a temperature extremes kind of person. I should get back on that, except that tomorrow is, like, Halloween, and I might have more urgent matters to attend to than leaf hoarding.

Sunday I pruned the lavender hard. I ended up with the little red wagon stacked five feet high, and then Noel and I went to grind it all up in the chipper. Alas, the blades on the chipper appear to be completely dull -- indeed, they appear to have shipped that way, which would explain the troubles we had with the previous grinding session. My plan is to pull them out and sharpen them, and also the blades on my secateurs (much dulled from pruning the lavender). At the same time I may sharpen the shovels, which is always fun, even though it lasts for like five minutes. Once I get started on sharpening things, I have a hard time stopping.


It's really nice having all the heat hooked up again, now that the weather has gone from obscenely hot to AUTUMN overnight. We should go get a can of spray-insulation and seal up that gap around the edges of the parlours, though.

A Clarification on the Concept of the Ten Year Plan

For some reason, people who visit here seem to think we are only going to take ten years to finish this renovation. That is probably not correct. For one thing, we didn't even come up with the Ten Year Plan until we'd lived here for two years.

Basically, the idea of the Ten Year Plan is to try to do as much work as we could before we got to things that really had to be done as large projects (like dealing with our problematic floors) or that should all be done together (adding two bedrooms on upstairs). We made a big huge list of projects we wanted to do, then grouped them simply into one-offs like removing wood paneling and whole-house projects like the flooring. When we were done, we had about ten years of projects that were one-offs, and it seemed to make sense to think that by then I'd be out of school and we might have the income to hire people for some of the whole-house stuff.

But will we actually do it then? Depends on a lot of variables. Construction and renovation are like that: there's not much you can predict about where you will be in seven years.

What Next?

People keep asking us what we're going to do next, so here's a quick list of what we're planning on doing in roughly the right order:

  1. Shed: foundation and construction
  2. Parlours: repair/complete plastering, paint
  3. Kitchen: some pantry re-arrangement and building another counter
  4. Landscaping: install irrigation plumbing
  5. Dining Room: get rid of the wood paneling

We are obviously biting off more than we can chew, but that should keep us occupied through the winter.

Winter Earthworks

I've decided to postpone major winter earthworks projects for another year in order to have time and energy to work with what I have. I am not ordering any more trees this fall, nor any roses. When the roses already here go dormant, I will be loosening them up and making a double hedge (bushes 18 inches apart in two rows three feet apart), and then the Mme. Alfred rose will be moved to the back fence, then I will fuss with the hydrangeas some more until spring, when I think they will go in the ground. That should be plenty of back-breaking labour out in the freezing rain. Besides, we still can't figure out what to do with only two quinces, so let's be a little more mellow on the fruit tree front, eh?

I'm also going to be busy killing the Bermuda out front and working on the streetscape with our neighbor, who volunteered to help out with the heavy work. We have a great neighborhood.

posted by ayse on 10/30/06


What do you use for sharpening? Do you have a special tool or do you just use a whetstone?

For the blades I just use a whetstone. For the shovels and other dull tools I use a large metal file. I'd love a powered sharpening wheel but I really can't justify that sort of expense given how often I sharpen things (once a year or less often).

You're planning on hiring some help with that concrete, right? I'm sure the two of you are in better shape than I, but 100 bags is a lot. Seriously, 6 bags almost killed me a couple weeks ago.

By the way, how stupid do you think I'd be to try to grow ~200sqft of tall fescue from seed over what was once bermuda grass (excavated, roundup'd and re-graded)? I was going to sod it, but it's so small and I'm sick of paying to have things delivered.

Well, we WERE planning on doing it ourselves. But given the amount, I'm not so sure. On the other hand, we do have the mixer, and we're getting kind of used to spending an entire day wrecking our backs on some stupid project or other.

For the grass area, I'd put sod down, just to get that blocking adobe clay layer it's grown on. But I get the desire to do something without a delivery. If not sod, I'd recommend maybe letting it sit for a year (maybe mulch it) and nuking any Bermuda that comes up in the spot. After that you could seed. I wonder if there's a way to mash your Berkeley clay down into a hard pan and spread compost or topsoil on it for the grass seed?

Oh, I forgot you had the mixer. That would help. But the worst part for me was actually floating it (partially because I was unnecessarily obsessed with mixing it as stiff as possible). But I'd think that reasonable proportioning + mixer + two masochists ~= a 50 bag day. Maybe do the pour in 2 stages?

Now that it's raining, I have to deal with the bermuda soon: I already tracked mud everywhere this morning. I'll keep you posted.

And for the record, that's OAKLAND clay. Represent!

The mixer does help; it would really suck to have to hoe-mix that much concrete. Actually, that simply would not happen (hence the mixer purchase, in fact). I was thinking the other day of breaking it into two or possibly four stages, and allowing a cold joint between them. It's not a structural slab or anything: it just needs to hold the building down to the ground. We'll see how we're doing when we get that far. Right now it would be good to get the excavation portion of the job done.

Also: Berkeley, Oakland? You're all mainlanders.

Thanks for the information -- I'm really, really bad at getting around to sharpening tools, especially the push mower which is now in a very sorry, dull state. I thought you might have some magic fun method that would suddenly make me want to sharpen everything all at once!

Note: We're getting pummeled with spam comments, so I've turned off the ability to use any HTML or include any links for the time being. Email with any issues.

Leave a comment

« Previous
Next »