Busted, or Front Yard, Part 2

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I received this e-mail from my Home Owner’s Association:

Good morning Laura,

We have been notified that you have new landscaping around a tree in your front yard. While the board does allow this, they still require an architectural request form be submitted for approval prior to any exterior changes. I’ve attached one for you to fill in and return at your convenience.

Thank you,

Your HOA

This bothers me on several levels.

First, I’ve lived here for 12 years, which means they’ve cashed approximately 144 of my checks. Checks signed “Laurel”, not “Laura”.

Second, when I was weeding the garden around Rocky 2 (the tree in the front yard) a week ago, and the little old lady from across the street came over and complimented me on how my flowers looked, I assumed she was being neighborly. I didn’t realize she going to run to the HOA to have me busted for beautifying my yard.

Third, and most importantly, the landscaping around Rocky 2 has been there for 6 years! I put the tree, the flowers and the edging in at great expense to myself. AND I got prior written approval from the HOA to do so.

So there.

I took this picture a week or so ago. The day lilies started blooming a few days later.

Maple tree, day lilies

I also planted a window box, for which I didn’t need my HOA’s permission. There are celosia and sweet potato vines in the box, and a cat in the window.

celosia, sweet potato

Stay tuned…

p.s. I shared this at Chic On A Shoestring.


The Front Yard

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Hmmm, my cottage seems to be falling down around my ears. My clothes dryer is screeching, the dishwasher door won’t latch (wash dishes by hand? Oh the humanity!), the Amazon Fire TV doesn’t work, and the gas fireplace has been on the fritz for months.

And besides that, all my light bulbs seem to be burning out. My BFF “G” always replaces my burned-out bulbs when she visits. I call her (cue dramatic music) “The Bringer of Light”.

See, I have a little bit of a fear of heights. Well, actually, it’s a fear of depths. It’s not the fall, it’s the landing on the hard surface below that scares me.

So what did I do last weekend? I worked in the front garden. I weeded around Rocky 2, my maple tree. Then I put mulch in the bare spots. I looked at Rocky’s leaves and found them full of little red blisters. Uh oh, that can’t be good.

The Google says they’re the tree’s natural defense against mites. There’s no spray or anything to kill the mites, and they don’t do permanent damage. You just have to keep the tree healthy and well-hydrated so it can fight them off by itself.

Oh, hydrating the tree is kind of a problem. I’m really bad at hydrating.

I have a water spigot on the front of the house and one on the back. The valves that control the water flow have to be shut off every winter, to keep the pipes from freezing. Then the valves have to be turned on in the spring.

The problem is that the valves are in the very crowded utility closet. They’re near the floor, between the water heater and the furnace, and behind the water softener. I use a long pipe to reach in and turn on the valve for the back spigot. But for the last few years, I haven’t been able to find the valve for the front spigot.

Utility closet

It seems to have totally disappeared. I just don’t understand how that happens. After turning both valves on and off every year for ten years, how does one just disappear?

So I linked three heavy, dirty hoses together and ran them from the back yard to the front yard. I soaked the ground around Rocky’s feet for a good hour. Then I coiled all three hoses back up and put them away.

And then… it rained.

Stay tuned…

p.s. OH MY GODDESS! The second valve is behind the big copper pipe, by the yellow tag, isn’t it? I’ll have water at the front now!

Damn, it’s nasty in there.

Utility Closet Close-up







How To Assemble End Tables

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I bought two end tables and a coffee table from Craig’s List. The coffee table fit in the back seat of the car, but I had to disassemble the end tables to fit them into my trunk.

I painted the coffee table and have been using it in my living room. I tossed the pieces of the end tables into a corner of the garage, where they sat gathering dust for years.

With No.2 Sis trying to furnish a new house, I thought I’d put the end tables back together and see if she could use them.


1. Sort through “wood pile” to find all end table pieces.

wood pile

2. Spread pieces out on garage floor.

3. Look for hardware. Unsuccessfully.

4. Park Gypsy Blue (car) on driveway for the next couple of months while you procrastinate going to the hardware store.

5. Put top of end table and one leg in car.

6. Go to hardware store. Carry in table top and leg and announce loudly, “I need a screw.”

7. Have nice employee figure out size of screws required. Buy screws.

8. Go home and start assembling legs to table top, while holding 4 cross bars in place. Put on helmet to protect you from spinning, falling cross bars (optional).

9. Use crescent wrench to tighten hex head screws. When the hex head screws are too deep in their recessed holes, switch to box wrench.

10. When box wrench will no longer work, look for the socket wrench set you bought when you were ovulating. You always think you’re Superwoman when you’re ovulating.

11. Make sure socket wrench set is right-side up before opening. Oops.

end table, in progress

12. Finish tightening the screws.

13. Note that the cross bars are still spinning. They will require another type of screw.

14. You don’t want to return to the hardware store after the “I need a screw” episode. Search your large bin of assorted hardware (also bought while ovulating) to see if there’s anything that will work.

15. Yay! You have screws that will work. Screw down the cross bars.

16. Set table upright and add glass insert.

17. Ta-dah! You did it!


Assembled end table, and coffee table in use.

Assembled end table, and coffee table in use.

Stay tuned…

p.s. I shared this at Chic on a Shoestring.