Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Southwest Corner Veranda Pillar Restored

My last exterior restoration project for this season was the pillar at the southwest corner of the veranda. When we first moved in to the DV, the eavestrough and downspouts were leaking and long overdue for replacement (see: New Eavestrough on the Old Lady). This corner of the veranda was receiving more than its fair share of water. Making matters worse, an overgrown cedar had extended its branches into the veranda, adding still more water to the area when it was raining or when snow was melting off the branches.

 Now that I had acquired proper precision power tools and the confidence to use them,
it was time to see how extensive the damage was.

The base moulding was bad, enough, but the exterior portion simply disintegrated. It was like prying off an old wet sponge.

 I expected the box surrounding the post to be rotten as well, but it wasn't bad at all. 
The water damage was in the flooring.

The south side edge was very brittle, understandably so...

but the west side was in good shape. That dark wood was just dirt.

The support beams under the floor's 45 degree cut, showed rot. It also showed previous 'doctoring', an indication that this was a recurring problem. 
Water seeping through that seam affected the support beam. 
I proceeded to repair it with 
wood harder and epoxy (forgot to take shots of that step).

 Removing the old floor boards, I was relieved to see that the exterior support beams were sound.

 I replaced the floor boards and salvaged a few of the older ones 
for shorter pieces needed near the pillar.

Before painting the floor, I sealed the 45 degree cut with some caulking.

 The crown moulding was also severely damaged by water 
so I proceeded to cut and install a new one. It's so hard to fit everything perfectly when nothing is quite square or level - custom work big time.
Good thing I'm detail oriented, but it was a difficult job.

 Coming along...

 and done.

Voila! It looks like it was done in no time at all, but that was real finicky work, done in stages throughout the summer.

The Dusty Victorian, September 2015
 I'm retiring my tools for the season and throwing away my work clothes.

I will be spending more time in my studio from now on.
Drop in and see what I'm up to during the autumn and winter months.
To keep the winter blues at bay, I've lined up a few projects such as Christmas decorations, Hypertufa containers and, of course, art projects.

Monday, August 31, 2015

My Organic Garden

The summer of 2015 in our area has been perfect for my garden's health and growth. Several days of beautiful sun followed by a day or two of heavy rain seems to have been what my garden needed to produce its bounty of fruits, vegetables and flowers. 

Every spring I add to the earth, the compost from my kitchen waste, but this spring, I sprinkled a
50-pound bag of compost from Cedar Row Farm over the yard.
It made a huge difference. 

Cedar Row Farm is a place of hope for animals that have been rescued from the abuse, neglect, and slaughter found on farms. Hundreds of farm animals, including pigs, cows, goats, sheep, donkeys, rabbits, turkeys, chickens, ducks and geese have been rescued since the sanctuary began in 1999. Located just ten minutes from my home, it's a little piece of heaven on earth.

My garden is entirely organic, which means it's full of insect activity.
 If you look carefully, you will find the good, the bad, the beautiful,
the scary and the slimy.

Not a huge mosquito, as I use to think. They are harmless, just clumsy flyers.

So delicate and pretty. A good one.

Gorgeous and a must in one's garden. Got to plant more milkweed and butterfly bushes.

These slow and slimy ones are voracious eaters; my poor hostas look like colanders. The slugs left their marks in almost everything. Sprinkling broken eggshells around the plant kills the mature slugs, but does nothing to the larvae that have hatched in the plant.

This fancy, goth-looking fly is an important pollinator and has a proboscis, just like a butterfly. It's the larvae of the tiger bee fly that feeds on carpenter bees. I'll let mother nature
decide if this one is good or bad.

Wasps look very elegant to me, but they also scare me a lot. I'm particularly allergic to their sting.

The annoying ones! But at least they don't damage the goods.

I love bumble bees, they are so cute and work so hard. I wasn't able to photograph a honey bee though - very worrying.

At this early stage of life, it has no wings, but boy can it jump. It's gone in a flash.

A cutie, if you ask me.

Millions! I see them hopping out of the way as I walk in my yard. 
They are the sound of summer in the country.

The giant ichneumon was not in my garden, but in my house. It measured approximately 8" from the tip of its antennas to the end of its ovipositor. I had never seen this insect up close except in a photo and was shocked by its size. I found out that it's a beneficial insect, so it was captured in a glass bowl and out it went.

Last, but not least, my favourite. I noticed it after it had just come out of its shell. Beautiful, but bittersweet as her song marks the beginning of the end for summer and 
for the cicada's short winged life. 

I'm always amazed that if you leave mother nature alone, things will balance out; it's called bio-control. But sometimes, a little help is needed with natural homemade products. Next season, I'm thinking of introducing some live praying mantises and attracting more birds.

A few seasons ago, we lost a tree to the emerald ash beetle.
In this cases, drastic measures are needed. I was so glad to read recently that scientists have high hopes in the introduction of predatory bark-foraging birds and predatory wasps to keep the noxious beetle in check. Woodpeckers, nuthatches and Chinese parasitic wasps
could be our new superheroes.

The Dusty Victorian has its own little superhero in our dog Chaz.
He patrols the yard like a little soldier making sure the wild rabbits, the squirrels and the skunks are kept at bay. Unfortunately, he won't tolerate birds either.

Must enjoy every moment, while the garden is lush and alive.