Friday, August 20, 2010

Now we landscape

Now that the inside is finished (I know, I promised pictures), we can move to fixing up the outside. Our landscape "plan" was evolutionary over the 12 1/2 years we've lived in this house. Some things worked, some did not. Many of the things that worked became overgrown. I learned the hard way to NEVER use Roundup on the dandelions in your yard - it looked like a dog visited and peed in selective spots. Then during the bathroom renovations the tile guys set up shop on the front lawn and it just went downhill from there. Oh yeah, one last blow...Mr. Gopher came to visit. But thanks to a hardworking landscaping crew, our yard will be transformed and our neighbor two doors down will no longer feel compelled to share "helpful" gardening hints when he's out walking his dog (he paid big bucks to have his front lawn redone).

Anyway, here are some pictures of the work in progress:

Big yard waste pickup next week.

The landscapers were really good. They removed all the weeds but left the good plants that were buried beneath them. These are Gerbera daisies (my favorite flower).

More evidence of the thorough weeding. They left all the good plants, even reducing the overgrown Agapanthus to a more normal size.

Some transplanted Agapanthus in a new location. This is some of the new irrigation line. In the past we used the black drip line most DIYers use because that's what they sell in the big box DIY stores. But it didn't work all that well and we killed a lot of plants as a result. Plus every year we had to fix "geysers" when the pieces broke due to being trampled on or becoming brittle due to the exposure to the sun. Hopefully we'll be able to keep things alive with this system, which is a simple soaker line.

Here's how it will work around the trees. This section of the yard will be mulched.

The backyard is getting some improvement as well. We laid this brick patio years ago but the edge bricks were not secured in concrete and they soon began to tilt. I'm happy we're getting this fixed because I always felt like I was going to tumble into the pond.

Monday, August 09, 2010

Back from NZ

I went to New Zealand last month for about 10 days. It was a fun trip despite it being winter there right now, which meant cold, rain, wind, and a late sunrise and early sunset. It wasn't the first time I've visited there and hopefully it won't be the last. Fortunately the nasty weather let up and we had some beautiful days.

We started the trip in Wellington, where my husband had been working for a month. This was the view out the hotel room.

Wellington NZ

We rented a car in Wellington and drove north to Napier, on the eastern shore of the north island. Napier was demolished in a magnitude 7.8 earthquake in 1931 and the town was rebuilt in the art deco style.

Napier, NZ

Earthquakes and volcanoes tend to go together and New Zealand has both. From Napier we drove inland to the town of Taupo, which is on a huge lake created from one of the world's most violent volcanic eruptions. Fortunately for humans, it happened about 26,500 years ago. Just north of Taupo are some geothermal areas. Credit for this photo goes to my husband.

New Zealand

We ended our journey in Auckland. We took advantage of a beautiful, sunny day to take the ferry over to Devonport, which is where this photo of the Auckland skyline was captured.

New Zealand

New Zealand is of course known for sheep. According to this website there are 12 sheep for every person in New Zealand. So of course I shopped for yarn. I even prepared a list of all the stores to stop at along our route. But just because they have sheep doesn't mean it's a knitter's paradise. Wool production is big business so most of the wool is exported, but there are some NZ made yarns. The real attraction of these NZ yarns is that many are blended with possum. These possum are not the bald possums we have in the US. NZ possums have soft fur, which is used for clothing and accessories because they are non-natural pests that don't belong and kill native birds.

So I helped the New Zealand economy and helped alleviate them of some possum...although not directly off of a roadkill or trapped possum. The clerk in one knitting store described to us in detail how she baits and traps possum in her yard and often gets up in the middle of the night to get the fur once the animal is caught because she said you only have about 4 hours to do so. Nice. I would have loved to have acquired some possum fur for spinning (it must be mixed with other fiber though) but I never came across any for sale. I couldn't even find any wool roving except for a store display, which prompted a pet of course. I did find plenty of merino/possum blend yarn though, which was much easier to get through customs anyway.

New Zealand

I also did a bit of fabric shopping while I was there as well. Within a few hours of arriving, (and after a nice shower and change of clothes) I found myself in Arthur Toye Fabrics in downtown Wellington. I didn't even have this fabric store on my list and literally stumbled across it. Lucky me, they were having a 50% off sale in anticipation of a short move across town. I found two must-have additions to my stash: a beautifully textured cotton/wool plaid and a luscious high end polyester. I hugged my package of fabric tight as I struggled through the horizontal rain and gale-force winds. Welcome to Wellington in winter! Later I picked up a nice piece of cotton/nylon fabric at Fabryx in Taupo. Also in Taupo I bought a selection of fat quarters at Clever Hands, all with a New Zealand theme. Here's the entire haul:

New Zealand

Here I am in Devonport. Note what is behind my right shoulder and part of the reason I'm smiling. The other part is of course that I'm looking at my wonderful husband who was so patient and accommodating of my mission to seek out the yarn and fabric stores on our vacation...and buy more yarn and fabric for my stash.

New Zealand

There definitely are knitters in Devonport. We spied these two works of knitting graffiti:

New Zealand

New Zealand

I'll try to post more pictures and maybe a video or two, mostly of sheep out the window of the car as we drove.