Friday, June 7, 2019

Memorial Day Weekend

Garden with red mulch.This year our Memorial Day weekend ended up being a kind of suburban super-event. We’ve spent three and a half days working on our yard, front and back and have started, moved along and completed a large number of projects.

So I just wanted to do a diary kind of post and list out a bunch of these things in sequence.

Front yard with freshly cut grass.I had a half day at work on Friday because of an incoming long weekend. We’ve started with mowing the lawn right after arrival of my dad and my sister for their long weekend stay.

My dad asked us not to do the whole lawn ahead of their arrival because he loves the smell of a fresh cut grass.

Hydrangea.Speaking of mowers — we have purchased an electric Ego mower powered by a massive battery that lasts for a good hour and a half on a self-propelled machine. No messing with gasoline, no oil changes, no hard starts. Press a button and it runs.

In fact we were so impressed with it that now we have a full set of Ego tools — a wire grass trimmer, a chain saw, a hedge trimmer and as of this weekend a leaf blower for small clean-up jobs that can be used in place of a usual sweeper.

Leveling the sand.Back to the diary — we installed three large stepping stones next to our trash bins for easier access. And we finished fully mulching our “mid-yard” — total 10 bags of red mulch used. Home Depot had them on sale for $2 per bag.

Towards the end of Friday we marked down the area for our shed walkway with stakes and orange string.

Marking off the new portion.And at the end of the day I drove down to a local train station to pick up my mom who was coming down directly from Manhattan after her work day.

This was the first time that my parents decided to arrive separately — the reason for that was a nightmarish traffic that can precede a long weekend. Dad and sister drove out in the morning and missed it all and trains are trains.

Digging.On Saturday morning Alёna took Arosha to taekwondo make up class and took my dad and Anna along with them for a walk in a park after the class.

Meanwhile my mom and Lina were busy making a massive lunch-dinner meal for the family — manti. Probably one of my favorite dishes, but it is very time and labor intensive to prepare.

Gravel.When Alёna arrived we started digging the foundation of our shed walk. It was going very slowly. The soil was filled with gravel and we had to work our way through it with picks — these were kindly gifted to us by one of our neighbors.

After eating our lunch we proceeded to dig further and made good progress for the day.

Almost done.Also I went through our lawn with a rake to collect all the excess grass that was left by a mower a day before. The grass grows really quickly this time of the year and we decided to leave the grass on the lawn instead of bagging it.

In retrospect this was not a right decision, but an easily correctable one.

Grilling.Also we spend a good amount of time on walking around our whole property and cutting down parasitic vines off our trees. Some were chocking trees, some were just starting, but we had a lot. We used a big wire-cutters and an axe when that wouldn’t work.

After running through bushes, grass and tick-untreated areas we all did a mandatory shower and tick check — one of the dark sides of life in Connecticut.

Salmon and steak.We finished the Saturday with putting kids to bed and had a nice conversation for several hours in our kitchen with parents and Lina.

Sunday was started with work on the dig. And we only finally completed that job on Monday. We took out a large number of huge boulders out of the earth during the process.

Lunch on the porch.Then I took a drive to a local supermarket to acquire provisions for grilling. I bought three 2-inch thick steaks, a medium-sized salmon filet, 8 burger patties, vegetables and grilling beans.

The steaks, fish and vegetables we grilled for lunch. Everyone seemed to enjoy it quite a bit.

Spruce and lilac.After lunch I used our manual aerator to lift up a bunch of soil in the areas of backyard where we are growing new grass — quite successfully so far.

We felt that we could’ve put down more seed during our initial sowing, so I repeated the process in the areas that seemed sparse with new grass.

Mulched bushes.When I was done with grass we got into our cars and went to a highly recommended nursery in Bethel — Hollandia Nursery.

My mom wanted to get us a new plan and she settled down on hydrangea. And Alёna and I got a pair of our long-standing wishes fulfilled. Alёna loves lilac and we bought a young plant for ourselves. And I wanted to get an evergreen tree for the longest time — so we got a young spruce.

Lilac.Then we rearranged out empty planting bed. We moved one of the bushes we planted last year closer to the center and planted our spruce close to the steps and our lilac to the opposite end of the bed.

For all these plants we started with peat moss “soup”, then backfilled it with earth and added fertilizer on top. The final touch should’ve been mulch which we didn’t have any left of.

Mulch.So Alёna, my mom and I got into the car and went to Home Depot. We ended up buying another 14 bags of red mulch. My mom got a couple of perennials and we also picked up Ego blower on Memorial Day sale.

Monday morning we started with more digging and an early burger lunch. After my parents left we finished the dig and filled our foundation with small sand-like gravel and leveled that out.

Fig tree.Alёna cleaned up our house beds from weeds, we trimmed some bushes and filled both of these beds with mulch along with our hosta plant by the door of the garage.

Then to finish our job with our walkway by the shed we needed some actual fine grain sand. So we went to Home Depot again and were surprised to discover that they had none. Went to nearby Lowe’s — same result.

Hosta at the start of driveway.But then we stumbled open a small fig tree which our kids really wanted to get. And it already had fruit developing on it. We bought that. Stopped by a nearby Raymore and Flanigan and cashed in our gift card for a guestroom bedside lamp.

Upon return home we planted our new fig tree, mulched it and that was pretty much the end of our weekend. Phew. So much stuff accomplished.

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Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Storage Shed

Our shed.Since we’ve moved in into our house more than 10 month ago we have done a lot of things. There is an endless stream of projects and purchases of various magnitude and we end up not writing anything about them.

As the time went we realized that we’d rather take care of our yard on our own instead of hiring somebody else to do it. Grass cutting, leaf clean up, snow plowing — all these things really add up cost-wise and you end up with subpar service.

Our shed.We weren’t really lucky in finding any good parties that would provide a quality service that we would be happy with. Initially we were paying $140 to get our grass cut twice each month.

At first that worked OK, but then the autumn started to get closer. Leaves started falling. Instead of mowing through the leaves and mulching them our hired help started avoiding those area altogether, which was ruining the grass.

Walkway. Work in progress.If it would rain and the soil would be soaked with water they would still come and ride their machinery through all that mud, ripping up the yard. Nobody really cared.

And then we were quoted $400 for leaf clean up that has to be done at least twice a year if not more. And on and on it goes.

Walkway.We did leaf clean up ourselves — mostly Alёna actually — with a small electric tube blower. Then one of the neighbors landed Alёna a walk behind gas blower. She said that she did the work in hours that would take her days with that tool. So we bought our own.

Then we bought a pressure washer. And then we bought a wheel barrow for yard work. And then we bought a grass mower. And a ton of other yard tools such as rakes and shovels of different kinds on top of that. And the snow blower will come closer to winter.

Unloading the shed.That’s when we realized that we really need a dedicated place to store all that gear since one of our cars has stopped fitting into the garage as we were taking up more and more space with our tools.

We decided to order a proper storage shed for our house. After some research we went into a place that was recommended by a lot of people in the next town over. We ended up ordering a 10 by 16 feet shed with windowed doors and windows, painted in the the same color as our house.

Pegboard. Garden tools.It is build from weather and pressure treated wood that is durable and should last for a long time. We also ordered a gravel foundation to be built for it. All in all it ended up costing us somewhere around $5,500.

We placed an order in the middle of March. The foundation was built in the first half of April and our custom built shed was delivered on May 1st. It was delivered and put in place by a single guy which was quite amazing to me.

Closet shelves repurposed.In the last couple of weeks we have installed a couple of pegboards inside and a bunch of shelves that I’ve removed and kept from when I rebuilt our master-closet. They really came in handy.

All-in-all we’re quite happy with our shed and the amount of additional space that it gave us. We’ve also gotten a number of compliments.

P.S. We’ve build a stone walk-way next to it to store our garbage bins at and we’re planning to extend this walkway to the entrance of the shed itself in the coming weeks. It came out OK for our first self-built walkway ever.

View from the back.

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Friday, May 6, 2011

Cherry Blossom at BBG

Us at Brooklyn Botanical Garden during Cherry Blossom Festival.This past Sunday we made plans to go to Brooklyn Botanical garden. I thought — Ok, the weather is nice, the cherries are blooming, and so are the lilacs (which are probably my favorite flowers by the way) — why don’t we go to the local garden? There will be people, but probably not that many, right? Right? WRONG! The size of the crowd was mesmerizing. I though that we’d never find parking and even fell into that is-it-worth-it-should-we-head-back-home mode which occasionally irks Danya.

Cherry blossom.Anyhow, after a few circles around the park in dense traffic, Danya made a strategic decision to try our luck on smaller streets. And what do you know? We got lucky — somebody left right from under our noses. One good thing that came out from all the “round and round the park we go” activity is that we spotted a service entrance which had a very short line (as opposed to huge lines to all the regular entrances). When we got there, there was no line at all. The only catch was that we had to pay cash, but luckily we had some on hands (it was $45 for 3 adults, and no charge for the baby). Daniеl’s mom went with us; his dad would have come too, but he went to Manhattan to attend a presentation by Garry Kasparov (he got his autograph at the end).

Arosha checking out a tulip.It so happened, that this exact weekend fell on the 30th Annual Sakura Matsuri Cherry Blossom Festival. I am not sure if there were supposed to be any performances, but we did not really see anything apart from some people in weird costumes here and there.

Arosha with mama and grandma.The cherries were beautiful, although I actually saw a lot of them in our neighborhood without realizing what those were. I am more used to white and smaller sour cherry flowers, which were blooming in abundance in my neighborhood back in Minsk when I was growing up. Danya took a few pictures of the blossoming beauties, but it was impossible to take any artistic shots due to the roaming crowds. To be honest, if we knew about the festival in advance, we would have re-scheduled our trip, but then again, we had fun, and that’s what counts!

Tulips.First, we saw a tulip garden. There were lots of tulips of different shapes and colors, and I can’t even say which ones I liked best. The ones that seemed the most unusual to me looked like a tulip-peony hybrid. Gorgeous!

We then proceeded to the cherry section of the park. Aroshka fell asleep (we switched him from the stroller to the ergo baby), so we walked around for some time while he was napping.

Sakura garden.When Aroshka woke up, we found a picnic spot and had a little picnic. We ate hummus with olives and some Uzbek bread — simple, but satisfying food.

Arosha's trying his first grass. o.OIt was probably Aroshka’s first contact with so much grass. He approached it with caution. He touched it lightly, withdrew his little hand fast, then probed it again as if unsure what to make of it. It seemed like he was very surprised that the grass was not firm and bounced back after he let it go. After some consideration, Aroshka decided that he prefers the safety and familiarity of the picnic blanket, although at some point he got brave enough and crawled a few steps in that sea of green towards his daddy. Ah, there are so many things for him to discover!

Alёna and her new skirt.I tried breastfeeding Aroshka, but it was not very comfortable. First, I think he is too used to the nursing pillow, so my bare knees were less satisfying. Second, he is NOT used to the nursing cover, so he tried to move it out of the way. To be honest, I don’t really care if somebody will see some of my naked breast while I am feeding my child, but there is that nagging though in my head that some people find breastfeeding in public inappropriate. Even though I disagree, I keep thinking that some prude is looking at me in disgust and sending bad energy my way. Ugh. I wish I could just relax and do what I think is so natural and normal. And don’t forget — it was crowded out there!

First shot of Arosha's first teeth.So that’s all I really wanted to say. The only thing I can add is that we should do things like this more often. Ah, I envy you, people leaving close to nature!!! One day we will too!

Lily of the Valley.
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