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January 22, 2007

Washing rocks (no, that's not a euphemism)

On Saturday I resolved to clean up the "plant bed"** at the front of the house where we removed the big ugly bushes (See entry: 12/15/2006 Clearing (yard) clutter).

Here's a cruddy before picture:
Note the dappled grey/green/white "plant bed".

When I was about half way into the project Marc came into the front yard from the back yard (he was working on his own project)

Marc: "Babe, what are you doing?"
Me (Chirping cheerfully): "Washing rocks!"
Marc: "Are you serious?"
Me: "Of course I'm serious! Come here and admire my ingenuity!"

Keep in mind I have no green thumb. In fact, I have no yard-related skills at all beyond the ability to mow in reasonably straight lines. My plant related activities with the house to this point have been:

  • Kill cactus in back yard (on purpose)
  • Kill cactus in front yard (on purpose)
  • Transplant ferns to back yard. Kill ferns (through a combination of zero human attention and too much canine attention) (accidental)
  • Cut down yucca in front and back yard (truthfully Gunther and Marc did this.. but I was an agent of the destruction.. I told them I wanted it done)(on purpose)
  • Cut down pine tree in front yard and make it into a Christmas tree (on purpose)

Before we bought the house I was an apartment dweller and then a house renter. The last house I rented... let's just say that I let the yard go to seed until it was utterly embarassing.. and then hired a gardner to clean it up just before I moved out (best $75 I'd spent that year).

So I've never been faced with this kind of problem before. That is.. landscaping rocks that are lost under all the schmutz and weeds.

The big ugly bushes had been there for years and years. When we removed them we found that they had dropped -tons- of dead dry needles. The "plant bed" is lined in sparkly white rock. Over the eons that the bushes had been there, time and the elements had managed to turn the dropped needles into dirt. Dirt that interleaved the sparkly white rock. Dirt that was sufficient to support weed growth. Weed growth that was UNACCEPTABLE! Weed growth that made our house look like an abandoned experiement in horticulture... or someones "really bad idea". So it had to be fixed.

So keeping our parameters in mind (Dirty rocks, weeds in rocks, no knowledge of landscaping) I'm thrilled to share my ingenious solution to clean the "plant beds".

Reasoning that plants float in water.. and dirt settles lower in water than rocks.. I set a washtub of water on the incline so one end was lower than the other.. then I ran the hose into the washtub. I would grab a large handful of rocks out of the "plant bed" and drop it in the washtub... then stir it around until all of the plant material floated off the low-end of the tub. Then grab the rocks out of the high end of the tub and put them back into the "plant bed".

I got about half way done with one side of the walkway (before my hands got too frozen to work). I figure I'll just keep plugging away at it on the weekends until I'm back to having shiny white "plant beds".

Then maybe I'll consider adding plants.

** I keep saying "plant bed" in quotes because I'm pretty sure that at this point there are -NO- actual plants in the "plant bed". But I can't think of a better name for it.

January 12, 2007

The Proposal

Not at all house related... but,

Last Saturday Marc proposed to me... and I said yes.

Marc's Proposal
Both Marc and I play in the SCA (Society for Creative Anachronism, a medieval recreation group). He proposed to me during the first court of 12th Night (our big holiday party) on stage, in front of probably 300 of our friends.

I was head of court for Rolf and Aurora (the King and Queen) and had attendants setup for first court. I was sitting in the audience following along as court progressed (close enough to help if needed but far enough away that the -actual- attendants didn't feel that I was hovering over them). I was feeling pretty good. Everything seemed to be going as planned, everything seemed to be setup for court. I couldn't think of anything that needed to be done.

Then the Herald called Marc up into court by his SCA name "Fearghus". I started to (mildly) panic. Why was Fearghus going into court.. and more importantly why didn't I know why he was going into court. I turned to Edith (a very good friend of mine) and asked her why he was going into court. Edith just smiled at me and took my notebook out of my hand. I'm pretty sure I gave her a blank look.. and then realized I'd just been called into court also.

As I walked up to court my head was spinning. What was going on.. Why was this happening? Then, almost up to the stage.. I -got- it. Oh my. I knew what was happening.

Fearghus asked their Majesties if he could use one of the pillows from in front of them. With tears in his eyes, he got down on one knee, grabbed my hands and said "You said you wanted a story."**

Then he said "Sylvie, will you marry me."***

The populace went wild. Cheering, clapping, hollering. It was quite hard to hear yourself think.

So I'm standing there. On stage, under a spotlight, holding the hands of the man I love. Thinking to myself "I want to answer.. but if I did no one would hear me. I'll just wait a minute for the populace to quiet down". Not even thinking that poor Fearghus is kneeling there thinking "Gosh, she's taking a long time to answer. Oh crap, what if she says no. GOD, she's going to say no. Oh shit".

So I waited.. and still the crowd didn't quiet down. So I let go of Fearghus' hands and turned and "shushed" the populace, with my finger over my mouth in the "be quiet" pose. Finally they quieted down enough.. and I leaned forward and said "Yes". Again the crowd went wild.. and this time it was ok.

**About a month after Marc and I got together he started hinting around about proposing. I told him it was too soon and he wasn't allowed to ask. Last October, our two year anniversary, I told him that it was no longer "too soon" and he was now again allowed to ask. One morning, not too long after that, we were lying naked in bed warm and comfortable in a nice afterglow he rolled over to me and said "so, it's no longer too soon?" I immediately said "Nah-huh! There are rules!". He had permission to propose.. but someday when I told my children about the proposal I didn't want the story to start with "One morning when your father and I were lying naked in bed...". So he was instructed that he had to come up with a good "Story". I think he did well.

*** I'm a little weirded out that he proposed to "Sylvie". SCA is my hobby. "Sylvie" is my alter ego. I accept that I am Sylvie.. but he's going to be spending the rest of his life with ME and Sylvie is only a part of me. In the end I'm ok with it.. but I'm still a bit weirded out by it.

The plan is for a long engagement. We'd like for Marc to graduate college before the wedding. Also gives a good long time to get the wedding plans all set.

There will -not- be an SCA wedding. SCA is a hobby. It's pretend. This is my life. There -will- be an SCA reception to celebrate our wedding. But it will occur after the happy affair.

January 4, 2007

Rejiggering of Bathroom Plan

So over the holiday I was sick. When I'm sick I can't sleep. When I can't sleep I make plans. Wild outrageous, if-we-had-tons-of-money plans. So over the holiday I struck on a plan that simplifies the plan for the bathroom.

To re-iterate for those just joining us.

Our bathroom floor plan currently looks like this:
Plan made with HGTV room planner http://www.hgtv.com/hgtv/pac_ctnt_wide/text/0,,HGTV_17897_23822,00.html.

Horrible, aweful, tiny. The backside of the bedroom closet intrudes into the bathroom space. As mentioned in the past Marc says he can't stand in front of the toilet when he pees because the sink is in the way.

In addition to being poorly laid out our bathroom also completely lacks storage space. Currently our towels, toilet paper, extra shampoo, etc is all stored in a box in the front coat closet (it's a little pathetic.. but we refer to the box as the "linen closet").

A remodel is definately in our future.

Here was the original plan:

Demolish backside of closet that intrudes into bathroom. Retain enough closet to make a linen closet inside the bathroom. Move sink to other side of room.

It's little bit complex. Putting the linen closet in the bathroom seems logical.. but it also steals space from an already cramped room.

Enter brilliant idea! I stumbled on a new idea... one I'd never thought before... why not add a closet in the hallway. I know it's a novel concept... but our hallway is tiny.. hardly big enough to call it a hallway. Up until this point it'd never occured to me that we might be able to actually use it for something beside an awkward, poorly laid out pause before you end up in the bedrooms.

House plan:


Originally I was thinking a nice basic armoire looking thing. Marc suggested a corner closet and I think that's the better idea. See new (not yet constructed) corner hutch in hallway.

EVEN better this gives back tons of space to the bathroom. Viola: new bathroom plan:

Suddenly we have a simplified workable bathroom with tons of space and character. I'm uber psyched to get started on this.

Ho Ho Ho Holidaze

Christmas came, Christmas went. It wasn't pretty. About two weeks before Christmas I got food poisoning.. and then my body decided that all food was bad. So I spent the entire holiday sick and not eating. It's a great way to lose weight... as long as you don't mind the not eating.

In better news.. Santa was good to us and brought us a tablesaw! Sweet! Count on the fat guy to generate lots of Christmas cheer. It's a Ridgid tablesaw that folds up on an integral dolly and stores really well. We plan to get -tons- of use out of it.

I don't have the pictures yet (my camera LCD cracked and I haven't figured out what I'm going to do about that) but in other good news a friend of ours, Gunther, helped us to clear out the nasty yucca around the house. It's all gone. I'm psyched. The house is really cleaning up nice. I wish I had pictures to show you :)