Friday, October 31, 2014

More Pebble Mosaics

I got on a pebble mosaic roll this summer.

I still had a LOT of pebbles left after this mosaic we did at the top of the outdoor stairs.

So I decided to use some of them to make some stepping stones for the main entrance.

Each one is 15 x 15.

I decided to go with the idea of a compass - creating 5 stepping stones - one for each direction and a center stone.

We made up a form using scraps of 2x4 and plywood.

Dean and I are a good team.   He mixes the mortar for me, and I get to do the creative laying in of the pebbles.

I started with East because I had this broken edge of a clay pot that I thought would work for a sunrise...

East represents air - and the sun rises in the east

So here are the rest of them...

West represents water
South represents fire

North represents earth

This is the center piece

That round stone in the center was specially procured from Campobello Island, New Brunswick, Canada this summer when I visited with my BFFs!

And here they are all installed.

There are a few more of the plain ones to go in to complete the grid and this will look so much better when the ground cover between the stones fills in...  

I'll update you next summer!

That's it for now.  I'll be posting again soon to show you our deck project.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Solar in Da House!

We've got our Solar system up & running!

Many of you know that Solar power had been in our plans for the house since the beginning.  

When we constructed the garage, we situated it to have a south facing expanse of roof for the purpose of mounting solar photovoltaic panels.

  Well we finally got her done!

Last week our guys from Solarflair took 2 days to install the system.  

Here is day one.

At the end of the day, we went up on the roof for a closer look.

Here's a lovely rooftop view of our house and yard including my septic hump wildflower and wild grasses meadow, and our solar clothesline.

On day two, the PV panels were mounted.

The inspections took place on Tuesday of this week.  

And on Thursday, Unitil came out and replaced our meter with a new net metering one.  The new meter can send the electricity that we generate into our house as needed and any excess energy is directed into the grid.

We are now generating solar electricity!

Can I get back to my nap now?

Angie is not quite as excited as we are about all this...

Monday, July 21, 2014

Mr. Safety is Right

I had an accident involving a shovel and my head.

Here's how it went down.

I was working on installing some stepping stones using some large flat rocks harvested from our property.  This particular stone was about 4 inches thick and I would say weighed about 80 pounds.

I had dug out the area for the stone, and left my shovel as pictured below.


 I lifted the stone and dropped it into place, but missed my mark a bit and it landed on the edge of the shovel end of the shovel causing the handle end to fly up with incredible speed and force stopping only when it hit my head.  WONK!  The power of the lever - like in a Trebuchet without the sling.  

Someone who knows Math and Physics could probably calculate the force generated here.

This photo was taken 2 days later after the swelling went down.

I was stunned!  I ran into the house and looked in the mirror to see a 5 x 5 centimeter egg growing larger by the second.  I put on an ice pack immediately and ran for the Arnica, all the while crying so hard I could barely see.  I was crying mostly because I was SO MAD at myself for letting such a stupid accident happen.  

And also I was SCARED.  I wondered if I was going to bleed into my brain - then I remembered the reason you have a skull is to protect the brain from just such injuries and the reason why you get a big egg is because the blood has no other direction to go except out.  But before I figured that all out, I was in the mirror checking my cranial nerves by sticking out my tongue and showing my teeth, and looking at my pupils and reciting to myself "On Old Olympus Towering Top a Finn and German Viewed Some Hops" - the mnemonic I learned in nursing school to remember the 12 cranial nerves...

Angie tried to comfort me with kisses while a sat on the stoop holding the ice pack on my head, still crying and trying to think if I should go to the hospital.

I did not lose consciousness and I am 99% sure I did not have a concussion.

Dean - AKA Mr Safety - is always cautioning me to be careful when working on our various projects.  When we are using the backhoe, I will sometimes be darting around the shovel and he's always yelling "GET AWAY FROM THE SHOVEL", and be careful this and be careful that, and keep your work area clear.  And I admit that I just don't think that way, and have poo-poo'ed his concerns from time to time.

But now I have to admit it:  Mr. Safety is right!

So after the initial swelling went down, most of the blood from the hematoma sunk down the side of my head and into my eye socket, and it is in the process of going through all the colors of the rainbow.

So here's the project.  The stones are in.  I will be planting some creeping thyme and other ground cover to fill in the dirt around and between the stones.

Monday, June 9, 2014

Rocks in Our Heads

One of several piles of rocks on our property

We have a lot of rocks!  Anytime we dig a whole - like to plant something - we find rocks.  This is one of several piles of BIG rocks that were excavated when the land was cleared for building.

We are now moving some of these rocks to build a stone border wall around the island that is in the center of the driveway. 

It started with my wanting to clean up and landscape that area.  We cut down a bunch of scraggly and damaged trees.  After I raked out all of the old dead leaves that had collected there we had a nice surprise of a good size colony of lady slippers that popped up! 

Here is our process:  Once we find the rock we want, we use a chain and the backhoe to pick it up.  We move it to where we want and put it roughly in place, then push and nudge it with the backhoe shovel to refine the position.  

 Occasionally we use crowbars and muscle to finalize the stone's placement.

Speaking of muscle, ever since I learned how to do a few chin-ups, I am always looking for opportunities to try them out from various overhangs, so I could not resist hanging from the hoe!


But I digress...

So here is what we've got done so far.

We are pretty obsessed with rocks right now.  Anytime we have a couple of hours we look at each other and say "Wanna move some rocks?"  And when we are not moving them, we walk around the property and "visit" our rocks and imagine where and how we will use them.  

This is what happens when you don't have children - instead of planning child care, and soccer games, and college choices, we are imagining the futures of our ROCKS!

Here's a few other things we have been up to.

Tiling the Bathroom

We have finally started tiling the tub surround in the upstairs bathroom. 

I wanted to use glass tile, but it is expensive, so I came up with an idea to use glass mosaic tile for just a portion of the area, and use standard ceramic tile for the remainder.  

But as usual, I wanted to do something different, so I came up with a hair brained (Dean's words) idea to mount the mosaic tile vertically instead of horizontally which is how you most often see it used in back splashes.

Stay tuned to see how this experiment turns out!

While we had the wet saw rented, we cut the stone tile to finish the window seat in the dining room.   This is the same honed granite that we used for the wood stove hearth and the entry floor.

Once this is grouted, we can finish the trim around the window - yay!

Solar Update

The solar photovoltaic panels that we bought over a year ago are still sitting in the basement not generating electricity.  We had originally planned to do the installation ourselves, but for various reasons including feeling overwhelmed by the paperwork, we finally decided to hire a professional.  They do everything including dealing with our local utility to apply for the net metering program, getting the permits, and applying for all the rebates.  Installation is due to start in July.  I will post updates as it unfolds...

Until my next post, I will leave you with a couple of pics of the gardens.

The "Friends" garden is filling in nicely