Sunday, June 25, 2023

summer home project

Every year it seems we take on some project around our home or yard. Last year, it was the grape trellis and garden fence.

This year, we replaced our deck. It's nineteen years old, as old as our house, which we've lived in since it was built. Our first house. We're still living in it, which is why we've taken to making upgrades in recent years.

Staining the deck is a constant hassle. We had talked over the years of wanting to replace it. This year, when my husband looked at the deck and said he should probably stain it again, I suggested that we look into replacing it with Trex. We figured out the materials we would need and priced it out on, the only store in our area that carries the brand. We've had to go back for some other additions, but drops in the bucket compared to the initial investment.

It wouldn't be cheap for our 10x10 ft. deck and stairs, but my husband was determined to do it himself and did the research. He took time off this past week to get it done. Aside from some rain delays, he finished most of it--the deck portion. He'll work on the stairs when he burns off more vacation time in a few weeks.

On the first day, he had help pulling up all the deck planks, balusters, and rails. The frame was still good after all this time, so we left that in place. It was all treated wood.


deer fence was the keep the cats on the deck


Hubby did all the plank work with grooved boards and brackets. After the prep work of applying a special tape to the tops of all the old joists (for water protection) and getting the 4x4 posts in place, he had a good day and installed the planks all in one day. We had record rainfall yesterday, but we had a family reunion anyway, so we had a day off the project. The weather today was good to finish this. I helped today, and we put up all the post sleeves and rails around the deck area. The stairs aren't ready yet, or there would be rails going down also.

The planks are the Trex toasted sand color, and we used white for fascia to match the trim of our house and the railing. It looks great! And it's always good to work on a project together. Hubby did most of the work, but there are some things where it's better to let him work alone. And then there are things that are too tricky to take on alone, so I try to step in and help when I can, like installing the rails.

The cats don't get to go out loose on this since we have no way of keeping them from getting out, but we're working on getting a catio for them.

I didn't get much writing done today, but it was a good day to finish this part of this project.

Tomorrow, back to writing! (Forgotten worlds Book 17 reached 23,000 words, so past the halfway point.)

Friday, June 16, 2023

2023 garden status

It's been a few weeks since we planted the garden and we had to reseed some of the corn, but everything is coming up beautifully. Of course, the rhubarb, dill, and strawberries are perennials and were already waking up by the end of April. I had a couple of strawberries disappear as soon as they started to ripen, so I put a cage around them last weekend to keep the birds away.


The biggest surprise is that we already have grapes! That big bush of a grape plant was just a tiny twig when we planted it last year with only a few leaves that were halved when one of our cats chewed them off while the plant was inside, but it sure took once planted in its permanent home. This spring it roared out of dormancy with a vengeance and more than doubled in size. Plus, you can see the cluster of grapes growing on it. They've doubled in size in the last week alone. I wasn't expecting grapes for another year or two.

The back grape plant in the pic was a new one this year, It was already bigger than the first one when we ordered it to replace one that had died.

The main garden

Cucumbers love to climb, so we always plant those near the corn. This year, we also put in some panels to encourage the two plants to climb something else instead of becoming a ground bush hiding all the fruit. It does that in the corn too, but more often than not, they will wrap upwards on the cornstalks naturally. It doesn't harm the corn. Those stalks are strong.

Last year, hubby and I built the trellis for the grapes together, then he spent much of the summer building the 2-ft garden fence. You may not see it in the pics, but there is chicken wire on the inside of the white lattice. The white lattice is for looks. The chicken wire is what we used all the years prior to keep the ground critters out.

The tall fence in the middle is a temporary fence that we always put up for the peas to climb. That does require some attention. I regularly help the peas by taking their vines that curl in seeking something to latch onto and gently wrapping them around the fence wire. I'll do that as they need it, and they will climb to the top of that four-foot fence.

This year, we cut back on the amount of corn, since no one is really eating it (and I can't anymore) but we still like having some to give away to family. We also needed the room since we have the perennials on one end and my husband has a LOT of peppers (three types of hot peppers and three different colors of bell peppers). I also have one tomato plant in this and the two rows of peas.

We also have our raspberry patch near the house, and if the birds don't get them, I'll be eating them by the handfuls soon! The branches are thick with raspberries almost ready to turn.

And we'll have our pumpkins again. Those are planted outside the garden about twenty feet away and getting bigger by the day. We learned early that if we planted pumpkins in the main garden, we only had a pumpkin patch, so we started planting those well away from the main garden. Pumpkin vines grow like weeds, once they really get going, sometimes a foot or more overnight! Cucumbers and squash can be the same way, but they are all in the same general family of fruits. Cukes are just a bit easier to control because they can climb without being too much of a burden when full of fruits. These pumpkins are HUGE and sweet, good for puree or jack-o-lanterns.

One other trick we learned is to keep the ground moist until things sprout a few inches, then cut back the frequency of watering to encourage roots to grow deeper.

Gardening is rewarding but a lot of work. We don't use pesticides on our garden, although we do use herbicide around the fence to control the weeds there. Rather, we do the work of weeding.

We'll see how it looks in another month.

Friday, June 2, 2023

runaway writing... I love it!

I can't believe how Book 17 is still going strong. I had started a chapter and had to rewrite it, but I'm still at 10,000 words that I plan to keep. I love it when the writing keeps going at a good pace, when the story is there ready to write itself.

And for those who have read the first Starfire Angels series, Dark Angel Chronicles, I have a special treat in this--a glimpse of Raea and Elis all these years later and where they are. It's a short cameo, but you'll have that treat in this book, HOME.

Whether you have or haven't read the first (young adult) part of the full series, it still has significance to what's happening with Nya. I was able to bring in past characters and keep it relevant to the story, not just a service to long-time fans.

Aside from that, this book overall will also help Nya with what happened in Book 6 when she was fighting to distinguish reality from dreams (nightmares) of her homeworld.

We'll see how writing the middle goes, but for now, the opening of this book in the Starfire Angels: Forgotten Worlds series has been pretty easy to write.

It's been two months since I released Book 14, UNBROKEN BONDS. If I can finish this in a reasonable time, I'll work on edits on Book 15 after the first draft of 17. We're already at the beginning of June. I'm hoping to finish by the end of July. Fingers crossed. It depends on how well the story continues to develop from my outline.

Thanks for reading.