One of the best features of our house is the back porch. Tig and I try to eat breakfast and dinner as much as we can outside. Today, I washed down our vinyl siding on the back porch with water - it was pretty grimy, with occasional little black dots of mildew that needed to be scrubbed out. The vinyl looks brand new now. Only on our back porch, though.
Tig strung up some globe lights that we had bought two years ago. I cooked up a meal of pasta and poured a glass of wine. Dining al fresco is the best treat between work sessions.

dining al fresco

Continue reading “Outdoor living” »

I find it a little scary when my dad’s right. But I do give him credit for some helpful home remodeling and landscaping information .

About a month ago, when he visited, we asked they whack some weeds, especially the ones growing by the back fence. They’re just a bunch of overgrown vegetation, or so we thought. But my dad said he did not want to, because he thought they were flowers.

Flowers, yeah right.

weeds by fence

Continue reading “Scary” »

It’s been slow going since most of the “heavy lifting” has been done.

One item we needed to accomplish was outdoor lighting. The easy fix…

Continue reading “We’re mostly done” »

OK, not really the driveway, but our 2 parking spaces. That’s my next big project.

We currently have a compacted mound of earth filled with gravel that we use. It’s supposed to be a gravel driveway. For maintenance, the previous owner just dumped pea gravel on the area when needed (or when they felt like it). This spring (and probably every spring), when the ground thawed, the soil “heaved”, and the stones sank into the wet soil. And the cars end up being stuck in a pit of mud.

You can see how far the car sank in the mud as evidenced by the line of mud on the tire.

stuck in the mud

Continue reading “The Driveway, Part 1 - The Problem” »

So the original plan for our 2 parking spots was to lay down concrete pavers. We got a couple of estimates for work to be done. Let’s just say, we did not want to spend what the contractors were telling us to spend. So we thought gravel would be just fine and plenty economical. And surely, I can spread the gravel out myself.

Continue reading “The Driveway, Part 2 - Digging” »

That’s right. If you did not flinch at the title, let me repeat it. 18 TONS of gravel. EIGHTEEN TONS.

It’s a good thing they delivered it, except that there’s always a hitch. The first delivery of 8 tons came when I was not present. It was scheduled for the afternoon, but they came in the morning instead. So the driver just dumped the stone on the shared driveway, next to the big pit that I had recently dug out. Even if I was around, the pit was not ready for the stone either. I of course had to prepare the foundation.

8 tons of gravel

Anyway, they came and dumped 8 tons of gravel into a mound that was a little less than 4 feet high. I know it does not look very big in the picture - more like a pile of sugar - but really, it’s a lot of gravel.

Continue reading “The Driveway, Part 3 - 18 Tons of Gravel” »

Before the pavers can be laid, a 2″ bed of sand is usually placed and screeded on top of the gravel. With normal pavers, I would have used sand, but we’re using permeable pavers which allow water to pass through the gaps. Course sand is usually recommended for these applications. Course sand is harder to find, so I opted for a mixture of 3/8″ stone and stone dust. I mixed these manually (2 parts of stone, 1 part stone dust). I only used the stone dust to create an easier bed to lay the pavers.

screeding & laying pavers

Continue reading “The Driveway, Part 4 - The Pavers” »

One of the last things to do on the driveway is to line the edges with large cobbles. These cobble stones are white granite stones cut to approximately 5″ x 5″x 9″. This size is called “regulation” sized cobbles.

cobbles at edge of parking spots

Continue reading “The Driveway, Part 5 - Finishing” »

Lead and other heavy metals are usually not wanted in your drinking water. I’ve had plenty of first hand experience with water quality issues, so I know this topic very well. I won’t go into detail. But it usually goes… “lead=bad”. That said, we bought our house knowing we had a lead service line supplying our domestic water. Granted, the previous owners lived and raised 4 children with that lead water service line, so it’s manageable. The water can be flushed a few minutes before you drink/use it (although this might get you worse results, but I won’t get into the details).

But we had an incentive. The Boston water utility actually gives owners a $1000 credit towards the replacement of the lead service line. So we signed up. A few weeks later, they were ready to go. Which is quite fast for a beaurocratic institution like BWSC. I was figuring a few months.

4 out of 5 of the crew

A team of 3 subcontractors, a BWSC inspector, and a police officer arrived that morning (now there’s an efficient team put together by a local government). The subcontractors brought an excavator, a dump truck, and a pickup/dump truck towing a large air compressor.

Continue reading “Getting the Lead Out” »

A while back I alluded to our compost bin. Tig built the bin out of some new strapping, chicken wire. He also used some plywood and old hinges that were in our basement. Here is the finished product.

compost bin

The top lifts to open, so we can turn the pile. There is also a hinge on the front, so we can harvest the finished compost when it is done. It will probably take a year before we see some good compost. The bags next to the bin are full of leaf and grass clippings that have been decomposing since the fall. One of the neighborhood houses left big piles of leaves and grass over the winter. In the spring, the owners finally go their act together and had the piles bagged. Tig swiped two bags before they disappeared. Earthworms have already made a home in the bags.

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