Sunday, October 25, 2009

An "Easy" Weekend Project...

...explodes in our faces.

Painting the master bathroom. A simple, bite-sized thing I could do on my own in a few weekends. And with my parents in town, I hoped they'd help give me a jump-start on the most unpleasant part - stripping the wallpaper. I've re-decorated plenty of rooms before, including bathrooms. And all of them had wallpaper to start out with. In the case of my first kitchen in England, there was more than one layer! Our bathroom here looked like it only had one layer of wallpaper, and for as big as it is, the actual wall-space that needed to be stripped was only about 60-70%.

So this past Saturday the folks came over. Dad and I bought some glue-eating spray and a scorer, since the paper has a plastic layer you have to cut so the glue-destroyer can get through. Between Dad, Mom, and I, we had the hardware off the walls and the paper scored pretty quickly.

But it wasn't too long after we started getting the paper off that the trouble appeared. Termites. Paper-and-wood-eating bugs living in our walls. Ugh. We peeled off some of the wallpaper and found the paper layer of the sheetrock eaten away, with little trails etched into the plaster and lots of powdery stuff. There are at least three basketball-sized areas of sheetrock with significant damage, and some other small areas, most of it confined to the walls around the toilet and shower area, which adjoins the older half of the house.

Part of our house was built in 1952. It used to be two bedrooms and one bath, with a living room, dining room, kitchen, and a small basement. In the early 70’s whoever owned it added on a large family room, master bedroom and bathroom. And (of all things) a wet bar, with wall-to-wall long shag carpet in burnt orange and black that goes all the way up one wall to the ceiling, with a double band of ‘antiqued’ glass tiles going across at about head height. Oooh baby. :\ They also remodeled the kitchen with dark wood, dark yellow formica counters, and blue indoor-outdoor carpet (yeah, I know). I can’t complain about the quality of the materials, but I could argue about their color choices.

Anyway, we’ve called an exterminator and they’ll come do an inspection tomorrow.

At least we were able to get the wallpaper off. My next job is to remove all the little bits of paper still stuck to the walls and scrub them down so they’re ready to paint. It might be a while til I actually get to paint, but I might as well do what I can. The counter and shower enclosure are covered in one-inch tile in various shades of terracotta orange, and the tub has a wide band of the one-inch tile above it. The floor is six-inch terracotta tiles. So I have those limitations to work with, color-wise.

I brought home some three-color paint chips and I’ve been looking at various combinations for a few weeks, at different times of day in different lights. There’s a chair-rail strip in the toilet area that I can paint in a highlight color. So I figured I’d paint that terracotta to tie in with the tiles. For the walls I’m thinking a light olive green. I want a touch of warmth to it. I think. Anyway, I have a little time to think yet.

Aside from the re-decorating project, Mom “helped” me clean the refrigerator. She did most of it while I worked on dinner. It looks wonderful now. Then she showed Ken how to process the grapes for grapejuice, and can the juice. It worked great and all five jars sealed. So he did it again last night on his own and got four more quart jars done. It tastes good too. It's nice to have helpful, active parents who know how to do these things.

Sunday I worked outside, getting things ready for winter. Cut down old dead stems on some of the perennials, and weeded one of the front beds. Transplanted an aster out of its pot and into that bed, then spread compost. It looks nice now, tidy and cared-for, ready for the bulbs to come up in Spring. I’ll have to do the other bed next weekend. These are the beds I can see out the kitchen window, so I like to have them looking good for the winter.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Weekend in the Sawtooths

We went up to Stanley, ID, last weekend. Originally we planned to camp somewhere off Fourth of July road or Fisher Creek, out in the White Clouds. But the Wednesday before we went a winter storm blew in. The forecast said the mountains would have snow by Sunday morning. So after dithering a bit about where else we could go, not wanting to give up on getting out into the mountains, we got a cabin at Redwood Cabins in Lower Stanley. I found a picture of the Sawtooths from Lower Stanley on Google maps/Panoramio. The weather didn't allow us to see this view.

We drove up Saturday morning, through Horseshoe Bend, east on the Crouch-Lowman Hwy, then north and west on Hwy 21 to Stanley. We got there around noon. It was cold and blustery, with patchy clouds. We got to where we’d turn off east for a hike into the White Clouds mountains, but we could see the snow was already falling out there. The sky around the Sawtooths was still clear. So we decided to hike out of Redfish Lake instead. Redfish is at about 6,400 ft. There was already fall color on the underbrush and very few people around. When we started hiking around midday, we thought sure we’d be walking back in falling snow.

The trail takes you up along a ridge on the west side of the lake. I was happy to find I could set a good pace. We’ve been working out more regularly and my stamina has improved. Just as well, since the first half mile or so is pretty boring. There’s no view, it’s dry, dusty sagebrush, and even when you reach the trees it’s still fairly dull – no water, no view, not much of interest. Like walking through a pine plantation. But eventually you reach the top of the ridge and you can see the lake on your left, with the White Clouds beyond. As we got higher we could see some of the Sawtooth peaks further west through the trees, with shifting veils of falling snow around them. Eventually we reached the turn-off that switchbacks up to a bench at around 8,000 ft. where there are four small lakes – the Bench Lakes. It’s a 3.5 mile walk one way. Not far, some altitude gain, but a relatively easy hike.

By the time we reached the Bench lakes it was mid afternoon. The lakes were surrounded by willow and some kind of rhododendron with red and yellow fall coloring. We took pictures and stopped for a drink and a snack. I’d brought some Larabars, not having tried them before. They were awful, especially the lemon one. Like eating a block of tar with lemon peel in it. But we choked them down for energy, laughing over what people would suffer through if they were hungry enough.

There were bands of clouds blowing over us all the way up, with scattered flakes of snow drifting down, but it wasn’t cold or cloudy enough to snow. We still had periods of sunshine. We headed back around 2:30. Although one inevitably walks faster going downhill, I’ve reached an age where going downhill hurts more than going up. My right knee started hurting. The new hiking boots keep my toes from hitting the front of the boot and they’re plenty sturdy enough for rocky trails. But I’m not sure I like the high-top style. I probably need to break them in more. The part around my ankles doesn’t flex well, so that area starts feeling sore and bruised by the end of a long hike. Ken’s boots were letting his feet slip forward, squeezing his toes. By that last half mile we were both getting to the point where aches and pains were stronger than the fun of being out. Still, the weather held and we didn’t have the added annoyance of walking in falling snow.

That evening we wanted to go to Prime Rib night at Sawtooth Inn, but it was full. So we went to the Bridge Street Grill, right next to our cabins. We were hungry enough to eat just about anything, but I don’t think we’ll go there again.

In the morning we woke up to a couple inches of snow on the ground, with more falling steadily. It was the new car’s first snow, and it did great, small as it is. Front-wheel drive makes a difference. We had some coffee, took pictures, and went to Stanley Bakery for breakfast. Back in September 2001 when my sister and I camped at Alturas Lake and got snowed out, we’d retreated to the Redwod Cabins and had breakfast at the Bakery. Those were the best sourdough pancakes I’d ever had. There’s always a line on Sunday mornings, but somehow it works out that after you stand in line to order your food and get your coffee, a table opens up. People who go there understand how the system works and don’t sit very long after they’ve finished. The waitresses are amazing and the food is always good.

After breakfast we headed home the long way on Hwy 75, through Sun Valley/Ketchum. We stopped in town to walk and do some window-shopping. I bought a book on hiking trails in the White Clouds. Now I’ll have a better idea of where I want to go next time. It was still snowing pretty steadily, so after a cup of coffee we headed for home. It was really nice to get out and away from everyday stuff for a few days.

Putting the Garden to Bed

It’s not even Halloween yet and we’re having a “hard freeze" tonight. I’ve been covering the tomatoes against frost for a week now. I’ll have to get out there again this evening w/ the sheets. There are a few more tomatoes I’d like to get a bit riper. We still get a handful of raspberries every few days, but that could end tonight. We’ll see.

So I’m still getting tomatoes from the Virginian Sweets, Paul Robeson, Legend, and C. Genovese. The Sprites are done. The peppers have taken ages to get close to being ripe. I finally pulled the long ones off tonight. The little ones are still green, and I’m hoping they’re sheltered enough they’ll make it through the cold. Guess we’ll see.

I have at least six pumpkins or more. If it’s really as cold as the forecast says, I’ll probably harvest those tomorrow too. The parsnips are still doing well. They can stay out there for the time being.

It was a good year for the garden. Everything except one pumpkin variety did really well. Strange to think the season is almost over. It seemed to go really fast. I guess we were pretty busy. Next summer I’ll have to do less. I expect to be away for two weeks in late July for the SCD exam.