Saturday, May 31, 2008

Patio Progress

We got the paver base in and the sand in, and even some of the stones laid. And naturally, it rained.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Up North Photos

I had a blast with my camera this weekend. Here are some of my faves:

The pond in our back yard; how is it I never thought to take photos back here before?

The Old Indian Trail - a 1.1 mile hike to the Lake Michigan lookout. Hayes said it was like walking through a painting. The trailhead is across the street from our place.

Trillium - a protected flower that is native to the area.

Fiddle heads of the fern that carpet the forests Up North. I've never been up to see them like this. It's been a long winter everywhere.

A fabulous old birch tree on our neighbor's lot

One of my absolute favorite things about up north: the outdoor shower!

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Damn That Ice Cream

I don’t know what came over me today; I just wasn’t thinking. It had been such a good day for both of us. We went for a hike on the Old Indian Trail to the Lake Michigan lookout. It was about a mile each way, and on the way back it started to rain. The thing is, we both took it in stride. Anyone who has been to Disney with me knows that I am FOUL when I get rained on, but for whatever reason, this didn’t affect me the same way. I was actually civil when Richard (my knight in shining armor) met us at the trailhead and drove us back to the Lakehouse in a warm van. I didn’t even have to call him. He knew to come and find us. I just love that man.

Later in the day, Hayes and the neighbor kid had a blast swinging, playing in the sandbox, playing croquet. They were incredibly kind to each other and played like only little boys can. Every croquet mallet became a machine gun. And his fever seems to be on the outs. It’s very low grade if there at all.

Feeling invincible, I took Hayes to go play mini golf this evening and, as is our usual practice, to get ice cream after. The mini golf was a blast. He was so encouraging and sweet; he didn’t even want to keep score because it was our first time out. This is a golf rule we have. We didn’t stop at our usual ice cream place, but at a stand on our way home. And I realized tonight, at bedtime, that the strawberry ice cream he had, must have been full of red dye. (In my defense, it looked like vanilla ice cream with fresh strawberries in it – I do realize looks can be deceiving.)

He was a MESS. Of course he was. He couldn’t get himself together after his shower in order to get dressed. He kept getting out of bed, finding new reasons to cry after the first wave of tears was spent, complaining that he was so tired he couldn’t get to sleep, making unreasonable requests; typical dye reaction stuff. I don’t even think he brushed his teeth. It just wasn’t worth the fight. I am such a dork. How did I manage to do that?! And things had been going so well.

Oh well; as they say, tomorrow is another day.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Let Summer Begin

My friend Rob believes that summer truly begins the moment he hears “Centerfield” by John Fogarty on the car radio and he can roll down his windows and jam to it. For me, summer begins with the first stone of the season being plunked into the lake by my beautiful, beautiful boy. This weekend, summer arrived.

And so did the allergies. Hayes has really been struggling this weekend with all sorts of pollen flying, visibly and invisibly, through the air. The cottonwood seems to be the worst culprit, covering the hills at the golf course with seeds that look like snow. He is so congested it sounds like he’s got mucus all the way down to his toes. And his poor little eyes are completely bloodshot by the end of the day. And as if that’s not enough, he’s developed a fever too, which he wouldn’t allow to slow him down yesterday, but required a two-hour nap this morning to get rejuvenated. It seems to have worked.

Right now we are enjoying being out by the lake, he throwing rocks, and I reflecting on the beauty of the lake, the generations of Gilberts that have come and gone, the passing on of the traditions and great loves of this place. I can’t imagine not coming here. I can’t imagine watching summer arrive and not heading to this personal paradise. I am so glad to have it. I am so lucky to have been born into this tradition.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Living the Whippet Life

It's still too soggy to dig. Jez and I are going to lay around all day. Tomorrow we are off to the lake.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

The Rain Rain Rain Came Down Down Down...

Well, I suppose two work days are better than none. We got more rain yesterday and more is possibly forecast for today. We are back to looking at standing water. I am so impatient!

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Slow & Steady Wins The Race

So we finally got a respite from the rain. Enough to get going on the patio, anyway. And we had some time to figure out the retaining/terracing system we needed in place for the patio to be at the correct level with the height of the pergola and the slope of the land. I swear, I haven't done this much math since high school!

We were able to get three railroad ties in this weekend, as a retaining system. The slope off the back of the house is fairly significant and with the pergola already in place, we had to be careful not to raise the patio so high that my extremely tall husband would bang his head on it. You can see the two steps we already have in place. I am loving this stone! It's going to be so beautiful when we are finished.

We also borrowed a tiller from our friends so we could actually dig the soil out; this was a godsend!

You can see what sort of gravelly clay mess we are dealing with here. Surprisingly, we removed 6 wheelbarrows full of this stuff today. We have a lot more work ahead of us.

Friday, May 16, 2008

The Pond In Our Backyard

Just when you think things are on the upswing -- the rain comes. Literally. We have been trying to get this patio area dug out for the last week. But it takes 2 days for the clay to dry out, and then it is raining again. I am trying not to be frustrated, but the longer I have to look at it, the worse I feel. And the wetter the soil is, the heavier and harder it is to move. We have a plan, we have the building materials, we have the gumption -- we just need a small dry spell. I know, I know, be careful what you wish for.

At least the new garden is thriving. I haven't had to water it for two weeks!

Friday, May 09, 2008

The New Patio

For a very long time I have been hoping against hope that we could install a new patio under the pergola. I am pleased to say, that time is now. We asked our family expert, my father-in-law, to come out and help us install it. After all, we don't need to make all the same mistakes he did if we can help it!

Naturally, after asking my father-in-law to come out and help us, it rained. I don't mean it sprinkled, or showered. Nope. It rained. I know sheer determination to get the project going made them do it... this is what Ed and Richard spent the day doing yesterday:

The more they dug, the larger the pool of water became. They eventually tried to siphon off some of the water, but it was coming down so much that it was not very helpful. They called off at about 3:30 yesterday afternoon -- wringing wet! I love these guys. We're hoping for better weather today.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

The Harrison Irises

About three years ago, Richard brought home some iris bulbs that had originally been planted by his grandma Harrison. I love this sort of thing, planting at our house the same flowers that have been part of Richard's life for so long. They have never been big bloomers, always very green and healthy, but not many actual flowers; until this year. They are glorious this spring. I have never seen such a gorgeous stand of irises! Thought I'd share a glimpse or two with you.

Sunday, May 04, 2008

Playing with Bokeh

I have learned a new term in photography: bokeh. According to Wikipedia, Bokeh (from the Japanese boke ボケ, "blur") is a photographic term referring to the appearance of out-of-focus areas in an image produced by a camera lens. I am realizing that I am a HUGE fan of this effect. And I am not alone. There are several groups on flickr devoted solely to this effect. So it being a beautiful morning, I took the camera out and played with my Macro lens attachment and aperture. Not being a professional, I am happy with these results.

His, Hers, and His

It's not completely obvious what our family likes to do, is it?