The Rambler: Tree Chopping Edition

This past weekend I drove over the mountains and escaped into the Methow Valley, an unbelievably relaxing strip of land tucked within the north Cascades. I ate way too much food and saw a crazy amount of deer and looked up at crazy close stars and in general had a great time.

Meanwhile, back at the home front, this was happening:

Cutting down Doug fir tree.

SURPRISE!

No, I mean, not really. I knew it was happening, and it was fortuitous I was gone for the weekend, because chopping down 80 foot trees? Not my thing. But fortunately it is some people’s thing, and logger-man Sam came and chopped down this tree for us, while Byron served as ground crew.

Cutting_Tree_2

This ol’ Doug Fir HAD to go. It was planted about five feet away from our house, and about twenty feet away from the neighbor’s house. Its root system had already been compromised on both sides (most recently when we put in the French drain). Basically, it was a ticking time bomb, just waiting to crush one of our houses.

I call this one "Northwest palm tree."
I call this one “Northwest palm tree.”

So how do you take down an 80 foot tree that’s right next to two houses? Slowly. In sections. It took Sam and Byron twelve hours to get this bad boy down. Sam would climb up there, cut a section, then send it via rope down to the ground. We have an INSANE pile of tree debris in the backyard right now. (Crazy tree debris covers up the crazy weeds. Silver lining?). Byron gets to spend the next couple weekends chopping up chunks of tree for fire wood, and sending the rest through a wood chipper for mulch.

Cutting_Tree_6

Now that this sucker’s gone — OMG I can’t BELIEVE how much more sunlight we get back there. This tree was on the north side of the property, so we didn’t think it’d affect much, but now the backyard is just filled with soft pretty light.

Looking at the stump, half-heartedly attempting to count the rings, I can’t help but feel a little sad. I think about how long that tree’s been around, how much it’s “seen”. Like I said, we really had no other option but to take it down. But it really does stop and make you think how impressive something as simple as a tree can be.

Sections of Doug Fir tree.

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Rambler Update: OMG NEW COUCH

It’s been a while since we’ve had a Rambler update. Small little developments, all adding up… a bathroom fan finally installed, the beginning of the hammock colony, the slow and steady weed invasion taking over the backyard…

Oh who am I kidding. All I really want to talk about is NEW COUCH NEW COUCH NEW COUCH.

You see, friends, we’ve had this one couch for 4 years. This one couch? I hate this couch. It is green and it is leather and the stuffing keeps trying to come out and the cushions NEVER stay put (in fact, they actively slide out as you are sitting on the couch). Anyone who has ever come to our house and sat on this couch has also hated it. And sleeping on it? Remember those sliding-out cushions? HAHAHA YOUR CUSHIONS CAME OUT IN THE MIDDLE OF THE NIGHT. Joke’s on you. In fact, the only GOOD thing about this couch is our cat likes to sleep on the cushions. So, green-leather couch = cat-approved, NOT human-approved.

Two cats on couch.
Cats on the green leather couch. AKA, the only thing it has going for it.

But it was also a FREE couch. So for 4 years we made it work.

BUT NO LONGER.

Mid-century modern couchLOOK AT THAT! LOOK AT THAT BEAUTIFUL BEAST OF A COUCH! An amazing Craigslist find by my internet-scouring husband. It is so long that there is 25 feet* between man and cat (*may be a slight exaggeration). It has cushions that stay put and it is not GREEN LEATHER.

It probably seems silly and materialist, but getting a couch that we actually like — that was not a hand-me-down — seems like such a great step forward towards feeling like an actual functioning adult.

I also fear New Couch may be a huge step backwards on the sloth-like tendencies. But I don’t even care. I am gonna lounge so hard on this thing.

The Bone, and Other Discoveries

Sunday I found a bone in the backyard.

I mean, that’s the gist of this story. Your one-sentence summary.

If you live in Seattle, and if you’re me, when the sun comes out you cannot resist the urge to say, “OMG GO OUTSIDE NOW DO ALL THE THINGS!”

So, we did. We got a free lawn mower (thanks, Craigslist!) and mowed the front lawn. We fertilized the sad rhododendron (DO NOT DIE ON ME). And we continued to tame the wild forest that is our backyard.

Can I even tell you how much trash was hidden amongst all that ivy? I seriously think some neighbor saw it and thought, “Well, they’re never going to find ANYTHING in that,” and just started chucking things over the fence. Old peanut butter jars? License plates? Rags? Check, check and check.

Byron was being a total amazing trooper and pulling out the last dreadful patch of ivy, and I was kind of half-assedly moving some dirt around with a shovel. And then I saw what was very clearly a bone.

You know how I joked that we hadn’t found a body buried in the yard? First thought: “Holy shit there IS a body buried in the backyard.”

And then I sat back and studied the thing and… well, it didn’t really look human? I mean, I don’t study a lot of human bones, but I just can’t think what part of the body this would come from. It’s kind of shaped like a fat T, and about the size of my fist when I ball my hand up. I poked it with the shovel and saw the hole in the center where once, long ago, there must have been marrow.

Me to Byron: “I just found a bone.”

Byron to me: “Huh, ok.”

Alright, he was still cursing ivy, so I let his disinterest slide. But as soon as he finished wrestling the GIANT ball of ivy into the yard waste, I said, “So…did you want to see that bone?”

We tromped back to the spot and Byron looked down at it. “Yup, it does look like a bone.”

“But what is it from?”

“Probably a cow or a pig.”

“…THERE’S A COW OR A PIG BURIED IN MY BACKYARD?”

“No, like someone was eating a steak or pork chop and threw the bone back here.”

He seemed pretty confident. I remain unconvinced. But you know what? I really just don’t want to know. If there’s a bovine carcass in my backyard, it can stay there, buried, WHERE IT BELONGS. I don’t want to find a hoof poking up among the azaleas.

And then I thought, what if it is human? What if amongst all that plastic wrap there was a body? And I came to the same conclusion: nope. Don’t want to know.

I’m not totally sure what that says about me as a person — that I’m ok with a hypothetical body staying buried in my yard. I think I’ve just settled on the conclusion that I’m lazy and don’t want to deal with a homegrown murder mystery. But let’s be honest — that’s not too much of a discovery. We already knew that.

Welcome to the Jungle

We have a BIG backyard. Grande. We figured out this weekend it’s about 4,200 square feet. And let me tell you, I have grande plans to match it. It will be an amazing sanctuary and adult play area, complete with hammocks, a fire pit with dedicated s’mores area, and of course, places to rest your adult beverages.

The only problem — this is what the yard looked like when we moved in:

Welcome to the jungle.
Welcome to the jungle.

Oh HEY there, crazy six-foot weeds! HEY ivy that threatens to take over everything! And oh, majestic cedar (fir? pine?) trees, feel free to drop your needles everywhere. Please, feel free.

I’ve been eager to attack this project, because did I mention HAMMOCKS? I realized the other day that spring is rapidly approaching, which means summer is hard on its heels… and damn it, I WILL relax in this yard come summer.

THIS is what I will look up at from my hammock. A lovely...seriously, I need to figure out what these trees are.
THIS is what I will look up at from my hammock. A lovely…seriously, I need to figure out what these trees are.

So this weekend we tackled the ivy. I’ve had a long-standing hatred of ivy, inherited from my father. It’s invasive in the area and takes. over. everything. I want it dead dead dead. I enlisted the help of a bored friend (REALLY bored) and my poor husband, who really just wanted to relax inside instead.

Sorry, Byron!
Sorry, Byron!

But over the course of two days, we got SO MUCH IVY pulled. We’re not 100%, but probably about 70% of it is OUT OUT OUT.

This is just SOME of the buried treasure we found:

  • Half a racquetball
  • A broken flower-pot
  • A ridiculously huge amount of rotting plywood
  • Elmer’s glue
  • Blackberries! Surprise!
  • Sheets of black plastic (which didn’t contain a body! yay!)
  • Crushed soda cans
  • Candy wrappers
  • The limbs of a felled tree

I mean, SCORE, right?? Thanks, former owners!

By the end of the weekend, we had gone from jungle to this:

Panoramic view of the backyard, with 70% of the ivy out.
Panoramic view of the backyard, with 70% of the ivy out.

Progress. Next steps will involve all sorts of fun stuff, like leveling and rototilling (I’m trying to get myself psyched for it).

Dad was laughing because THIS was how I chose to spend my weekend, rather than, you know, going to a movie or something. But you know what? This all feels like a new adventure to me right now, and I’m gonna ride that wave until reality comes crashing down. And it’ll all be worth it when I’m drinking a mojito on my hammock this summer.

Spring is coming!
Spring is coming!

The Rambler: Cabinet Edition

The thing no one ever tells you about buying a house is that once you do, there’s a relentless pile of projects that must be done.

HAHAHA just kidding. EVERYONE tells you that. We decided not to listen and bought a house anyway. A 1950’s rambler, to be exact.

It’s weird, no matter how much homework you do, there are still surprises once the house is actually yours. We were walking around for weeks saying, “Huh. There’s a hole in that door.” Or, “Huh. There are staples around ALL the windows.” Or (my husband’s favorite), “Huh. There are sheets and sheets of moldy visqueen stuffed in this cupboard.” SURPRISE!

But two months in, we’re getting more settled as we continue to unpack, hang up artwork, and update. For the most part, we’re enjoying the projects — it feels good to invest time and energy into something that’s yours.

But this last week… it was kitchen painting time.

Do you SEE that horrendous-ness? FAUX BRICK TILES, people. Surrounded by dirty (LITERALLY dirty) black paint. Awful. AWFUL. I actually painted those bricks several weeks ago because I Could. Not. Deal. That still left us with the raw-wood kitchen cabinets to paint (advertised as “You get to pick your own finish!”). We knew that painting the cabinets would have to be one of our top priorities, as we didn’t want them to get all grimy and gunked up. So finally, finally, we got to it.

I won’t get into all the nitty gritty details, but needless to say, painting cabinets sucks. Lessons learned:

  • Ummm, WOW these cabinets are crappily made! We knew they weren’t the highest caliber before, but gettin’ all up in their grill really confirms it.
  • Oil primer takes FOREVER to dry. FOR-EV-ER. Since the cabinets were unfinished wood, the paint guy at the local hardware store recommended we use it. NEVER AGAIN.
  • Wet paint = magnet for cat tails.
  • No matter how much masking you do, there will always — always — be goof-ups.
The Disaster Zone
Primer done, waiting to dry. Welcome to the disaster zone!

After five days, all the cabinets are finally re-hung and…

Before
Before – blah.
After
After – woo hoo!

IT’S DONE. I’ve strategically hidden all the “this need a touch-up” spots. But you know, it works. For now, I’ll consider it one more project checked off the list. Completed ones so far:

  • Replace roof.
  • Replace the “will definitely kill you in your sleep” electrical panel.
  • Repair tub plumbing.
  • Paint kitchen cabinets.
  • Add weather stripping to the “can see sunlight through it” front door.
  • Add cat door to “The Once and Future Garage”.
  • Replace broken back door.
  • Insulate pipes in crawl space.
  • Add big-ass shed to the backyard.

Looks fairly impressive, until compared to our “to be done” list:

  • Install bathroom fan.
  • Repair drainage on the side of the house (will involve trench digging — fun!).
  • Paint ALL THE THINGS.
  • Replace the ghetto single-pane windows.
  • Convert “The Once and Future Garage” BACK into a garage.
  • Replace the “can no longer see sunlight but still ghetto” front door.
  • Repair sad and slanted front step.
  • Convert laundry room into a laundry room/2nd bathroom.
  • Tame and landscape the Jungle that is our backyard.

We’ll get it done, Rambler, one project at a time….