Thursday, 25 November 2010

More snow

After a brief respite from precipitation, but not the cold, we woke on Thursday morning to the sound of neighbours shovelling sidewalks again. This time I joined in.

Tuesday's snow had not melted, and this new lot was adding an extra layer to areas that had not been cleared. At least the temperature was milder - almost balmy, in fact, at just below zero. The snow continued falling throughout the morning,

making our street prettier than usual at this time of year.

It was not a day to drive anywhere if you didn't have to, so the little car remained parked behind the house - under cover, so to speak.

Rain is predicted for tomorrow.

Monday, 22 November 2010

Early snow

We were warned that winter might come early this year with colder than usual temperatures. Sure enough the first snow of the season fell on the evening of November 18, and we woke to a light dusting of white on the morning of the 19th. This was the view from our upstairs bedroom window:

Morning traffic has more or less cleared the street already. In the bottom right our neighbour is shovelling the sidewalk. This generous soul has already shovelled her own sidewalk across the street and is now clearing ours as well. City by-laws require home-owners to have their strip of sidewalk cleared by 10:00 a.m.

I braved the great outdoors to photograph the house.

In the front yard, my little Enkianthus has turned overnight from the gold and russet of autumn to winter white.

It remained cold all weekend and is getting colder. The high today was -2ºC, although there has been no precipitation, just a bitter wind. Tomorrow is forecast to be sunny, with a high of -6ºC. By Wednesday rain will bring slightly milder weather with daytime highs back above zero, but still in the single digits.

Tuesday, 9 November 2010

October 31st - Halloween

Our former house on the farm in Langley was on a dead-end road far from our nearest neighbours. The long avenue lined by Lombardy poplars that led from the gate to the front door was unpaved and lit only by the moon. We were never visited by any children at Halloween.
When we left the farm, we lived for three years in Australia where they don't acknowledge Halloween.
This year, our first back in Canada, was going to be the first traditional Halloween we'd experienced in sixteen years.

Sarah Jane and Kaan came over and we all carved pumpkins for the front porch (photos, with 3 exceptions, courtesy of Sarah Jane):

This is Michael's shark pumpkin:

This is Sarah Jane's pumpkin:

This is Kaan's ninja pumpkin:

This is my pumpkin:

We thought we were doing well, until we saw the display that one of our neighbours put on:

Here's one elaborate design in close-up:

This was my favourite:

We refused to dress up, but  Sarah Jane arrived with devil's horns and insisted that we wear them:

Of course we had bought candy to hand out to the trick-or-treaters ...

... but not enough as it turned out.
At least we weren't the only ones who miscalculated.

Saturday, 30 October 2010

First plantings

A week of rain gave the new soil time to settle. Thursday was showery still in Vancouver, but clearing eastward so I headed that way to meet my friend Pat for lunch and afterwards we went to my favourite nursery, Free Spirit.
Naturally, I came home with a carload of plants. Some were babies of ones I had given to Lambert when we moved four years ago; some were his recommendations for specific locations I described to him; some were irresistible new-to-me pretty things; and one was a house-warming gift. Thank you, Lambert.
At the front of the house, in the angle between the porch and the steps, I need plants that can handle quite a bit of shade. Hostas will fill some of the space, and I had a Hosta sieboldiana already to start the collection. At this time of year its leaves have gone yellow, but next spring's foliage will be a dusty blue-grey. I've added a Beesia calthifolia with stunning leaves of shiny dark green suffused with mahogany,

and a Saruma henryi that has lime-green leaves. Modest little yellow flowers sit atop the leaves of this woodland plant, but flowers are not too important in this location; colourful foliage is more what I have in mind.

I'll admit they don't make much of a show yet. Still, it's a start, and in my imagination I can see them in a few years, filling out their allotted spaces.
Lambert's house-warming gift, Enkianthus perulatus,  should be able to tolerate this location, which gets only early morning sun. It will have white bell-shaped flowers in summer as well as this lovely fall colour. 

Along the east fence, I've planted a small rambler 'Ghislaine de Féligonde'.

This is one of the most disease-resistant roses I know. Again, it looks a bit miserable at present, but I will train it horizontally against the fence, and it will quickly spread to about 12 feet . Unlike most ramblers, it will flower from summer right through to the end of fall with clusters of cream flowers opening from apricot buds.  This is what it looked like in my former garden:

Its only drawback is a lack of scent, but I will find other plants to accompany it that will make up for that.

Wednesday, 20 October 2010

Grass going...gone

A weather forecast of no rain for several days spurred me on to order a load of topsoil for the front yard. I've been itching to get at this sad bit of grass, dandelions and buttercups since we bought the house, but a new roof and all the exterior fixing and painting had to happen first.
Finally, however, the big day has arrived when the basis for a garden can be installed. In preparation, we used concrete bricks to fill in some of the space under the front porch, and cordoned off the parking space on the road.

While we waited for the delivery,  I spread thick layers of newspaper to cover, and hopefully choke, the existing vegetation, and Michael finished filling the remaining spaces below the porch with concrete boards, which won't rot if earth gets pushed up against them.

"That's a lot of reading material," commented one passer-by.

When the truck arrived, I was a bit anxious that I'd ordered too much soil. Thankfully it wasn't a full load.

I expected the box of the truck to tip, but it had a miraculous moving floor, that shoveled the earth out the back, rather the way conveyor belts move your luggage along on airport carousels. The driver tidied up the last shreds of soil with a snow shovel in one hand and a broom in the other.

We spent the rest of the afternoon shoveling and raking.

Several hours and two stiff backs later, everything was looking pretty nice.

We've erected a temporary chicken-wire fence to keep animals and small children off the soil while it settles, although nothing deters the neighbourhood raccoons, whose footprints were visible the following morning.  Since they may have had plans to move in under the porch as the winter weather approached, it's given us another reason to be pleased with the day's work.

Thursday, 7 October 2010

The Doors

The last bit of exterior painting was to do the doors, front, back and basement. It's a great feeling to have so much of the outside of the house completed.

There's just the front and back steps and their railings to do now, but we'll probably leave them until next spring.

Saturday, 18 September 2010

Bathroom Blues

The main floor bathroom, which was the only bathroom until we converted an upstairs closet into an ensuite, has lo-o-o-vely grey plastic tiles - simulated marble actually - on the walls and around the bathtub.  When Michael ripped off those around the tub so that we could install a newly-purchased tubwall kit, he found that the plaster behind was mouldy and rotting. It wasn't a pretty sight and it didn't smell great either.

Fortunately, after 24 hours the area had dried out and the smell had faded. With the wall repaired, the first piece of the new kit went on easily.

Then, of course, we found the walls weren't true, so the rigid corners of the kit didn't fit quite as well as we would have liked. However, with the aid of silicone sealer, a renovator's best friend, it ended up looking pretty good.

Eventually we may upgrade to ceramic tiles in this area.

Then again, maybe not.

Finished front (almost)

Finally, I got around to finishing the trim on the front windows. Now there's just the door left to paint.

Friday, 10 September 2010

Our neigbourhood

My Australian brother-in-law has sent me an email complimenting us on the transformation of the house. He also says, " brave choice on the colour". Actually, in this neighbourhood we're just contributing to the colourful streetscape already in place. To illustrate this, I went out and took some photographs in the blocks around us. It was a cloudy day, so the colours are less vibrant than they normally appear, but the variations in both architecture and colours of the houses are evident nonetheless. It's all part of what drew us to this area in the first place.
This is the house we face across the street:

And here are some others nearby:

With some, the colour is accented by summer blooms.