Sunday, April 3, 2016

Landscaping: Drainage/Erosion Fix

Our house has many, many areas that need work. We knew this going in, but over the last few years we have come to find out that the longer it goes the more issues we find, and with that also comes increasing age of the house...and more issues to address. Such is one of the pains of home ownership.
This particular area has been an issue since we moved in, but I put it off because I wasn't sure exactly what direction I wanted to go. In putting it off it has also become more of a problem over time so I decided to let it side track me from other projects and begin to take care of it. More work still needs to be done, but its a start and already making a difference at least from an erosion standpoint.

Our house has a brick wall across the front with a small patch of ground that doesn't grow anything because of the deep shade. There is also has a drip-line area that is constantly washing away dirt from the front of the house and around the corner where it is eroading away and will eventually cause issues with the wall and the foundation. The kids also cause issues because it is a great place for digging and getting muddy, so I really need to remove that temptation also.
For a quick fix, we began piling stones, concrete, and bricks inorder to build up and reduce the washout and that has slowed things down, but it isn't very attractive. It is however on the side of the house and not very visible so for now is stays exactly where it is because it is useful and it is working until I can put something better in place.

In the area at the corner and across the front, I dug a slight trench and filled it with pea gravel. Then I placed some large stones on top starting with the area around the downspout and working my way out and around to give it a good base for the water to hit and run off. Then I filled in with medium pebbles and larger pebbles so that the spaces between the rocks were better filled in and the pea gravel was completely covered.
It is only got partially complete with the rocks and gravel that I had on hand, but it looks a whole lot better than the bare ground and mud. When the weather is dry it will look like a dry stream, when it is wet it will serve as a French drain and hopefully divert water without continuing to erode the dirt.

Soon I will begin filling in areas with native plants that are also perennials so that it is easy to keep up with. So far I have put in a couple of Rosemary and Lavender plants. Next week I will dig up a few ferns and probably some mosses from the front woods. Like so many other things here it is another work in progress.

Friday, February 12, 2016

New York Trip Part II


On The Friday Evening, we went to a show. It was and interesting theater that was most likely from the Vaudeville Era. The show was interesting and funny. It was an improv  show...as great as it was I'll spare the details and just say we really enjoyed it. After the show we walked around some more, went find dessert and called it a night.

Saturday morning Nathan and I scouted around for possible souvenirs for the family and kill some time until Matt was done in his meeting and we went to get lunch. We reloaded our metro card, found a map and headed out...Then things got really confusing. There were several lines that were shut down and rerouted for construction, so after the first train we had to get off and transfer lines, finding the right line took a while, and then we finally figured it out and headed toward the train, I got on, turned around as the doors were closing only to see Nathan...standing there on the landing...with his back turned...as the doors shut...As he's turning around just in time to put his hands up to the glass doors...and then off I go...without my child. I am living my nightmare that I had for three weeks before this trip...seriously. The girls standing next to him said that the train would go around and I could get him on the other side. Somehow when I reached the other side there was no Nathan...I see a couple that were taking wedding pictures in the same area and ask where they were five minutes before thinking that maybe Nathan would have just stayed there...No...no, Nathan. I have a moment of panic and freak-out(on the inside). I start walking in the direction that the train he would have gotten on was heading, I was starting to walk pretty fast, so someone asked if she could help me . I told her what was happening and she began to help me in the search, and taking me to one of the ticket booth areas that had subway workers...While heading in that direction Nathan came running down the steps from the top...Someone had decided to help him figure out how to get back too. I don't think that there has ever been a moment in our life where we were ever happier to see each other. So we hugged, got our bearings, and headed back toward the hotel to meet Matt for lunch. 
We had and official New York hot dog from a Hot Dog Cart. We also found the LOVE sculpture to take a picture in front of. Nathan wasn't very keen on taking a picture for me because I made him take one of Matt and I kissing...he was embarrassed. Matt went back to work and we were off on our own again...



Today we decided to brave the subway again and try to make it to Central Park and the Natural History Museum...Nathan had a Donut in the subway and we were on our way. We got back on the subway and after a lot of train confusion because of shut down and re-routed trains we finally got out at Greenwich Village, walked around a bit and found the Lincoln Center, and eventually Central Park. While trying to decide whether we should get back on the subway and continue uptown to the museum and a different part of the park, we spent some time walking around in the park, but after realizing how badly my knee was hurting, looking at the time and thinking maybe if it gets rest we will be able to do more later, we headed back toward the city to find the subway to make sure that we had time to get ready to go see a show that evening. As we were walking Nathan was looking at the street signs and realized we were only a few blocks from our hotel which was kind of ironic because we spent so much of our time trying to navigate the subways...so we walked back, we were a little traumatized by the subway at this point. On our walk back we passed Trump Tower, not that that is of much consequence, but it happened.


Saturday night we had a great time. Something Rotten was a wonderful show and I highly recommend it if you go to a show while in New York. It was a lighthearted and fun take on musicals set in a Shakespeare's time about two brothers trying to make a play that will become the next big hit.  If you are a lover of musicals, it was really fun to see how they used songs from other musicals and blended them into this musical. http://www.broadway.com/shows/something-rotten/             
                                                                                                                                                          
After the show we went back to the hotel, but not quite ready to call it a night and decided to go to the Empire State Building and take in the views of the night life. It was truly amazing.  We arrived at Midnight, there were no lines to have to deal with at that point. Even the workers said that it was probably the best time to view the city and enjoy the view...no crowds. I'm sure that viewing is great either day or night, just to have the opportunity to be up there and have that view is amazing. We were trying to decide the first couple of days which would be better a daytime view or a nighttime view. Hands down being up there at night was spectacular, and a wonderful way to end the night.



On Sunday, our last day, I refused to let my knee end our fun, we got me a brace and kept going…my knee could rest when we got home. Probably not the smartest thing I ever did, but really our last day! We started the morning off at Central Park with Matt, and walked around a bit. I have to say I do regret not going to the Merry-Go-Round in the park…It just looked a little far on a bum knee. We enjoyed some time in the park and then headed back for a quick breakfast and souvenir buying before Matt had to go for meetings.


Nathan and I went to the Museum of Modern Art and saw some great paintings from some of the greats; Monet, Picasso, Cezanne, van Gough, Pollock, Warhol, Seurat, Matisse.
It was amazing to see close up so many of the artists I spent years studying and learning about in college. Seeing these paintings was such a treat, especially van Gough, Picasso, and Seurat. J. Torres Sarcia was one of the artists that impressed me the most in the galleries. I don't remember ever studying his work in the art classes I took in college.  I loved the architectural structure, and geometric and linear forms in most of his work.



Walking out of the Museum it began to snow, so our last day in New York was spent walking around in a light snowfall. There was just enough snow for someone to make a tiny snowman enjoying the night life.



We went to dinner at a pizza place that was an old church retrofit for the restaurant. It had beautiful stain glass with a huge stained glass in the ceiling. I would bet that it is beautiful to see when the sun is shining in. The restaurant owner preserved the architectural elements of the church  so it still had an old church feel. The pizza was very good also. They had a huge brick oven working in the dining area that was visible to the guests. It was interesting to watch them manning the ovens and loading the pizzas in taking them out. It was probably one of the best pizzas I've had. The crust was thin and crispy almost cracker like with a bit of softness in the middle. It reminded me of one of my favorite pizza places in Louisiana.
On the way back to the hotel we found Junior's Restaurant and bought a Cheese Cake to take back to the hotel for the night before we turned in.


The next morning we headed out…It was wonderful and magical, and I hope to one day see it again.

On the plane on the way out We finally got to see the Statue of Liberty Standing tall and on guard at her post on the island. If you look closely it is the little island in the bay...she looked about three inches tall from where we sat...I guess there is always next time...





Friday, February 5, 2016

New York Trip Part I

Matt went to New York for work and gave me the opportunity to spend time there for a few days so we decided to take our oldest son with us because we don't often take trips like this.
Matt has done a fair amount of traveling over the years and has seen quite a few places  because of the Army and family travel as a child. This was the first time that Nathan and I have been on a commercial flight. I've been on a few small planes and a helicopter before, but never a bigger airplane...I have to say, it really isn't that much different except that the smaller planes and especially the helicopter are more exciting, but that's a story for another time.

We spent four wonderful days in New York. The cab ride from the airport to the hotel was the very first sign that we were stepping into another world. It was about eight miles of terror zooming in and out of cars on the freeway with so many near misses, literally inches from the cars to the left and the right of us. At one point I noticed the speed limit. Holy Cow…60 in a 40 with only inches between the cars in front and behind. I've never experienced a car ride with that much skill, and yet still be so terrified in my whole life…it was a journey all it's own.

The city truly never sleeps. Looking out of our hotel window(we were on the 35th floor) no matter what time of the day it was people were milling around. It was all very surreal.

 It has been a hope of mine since I was probably about eight years old. Old movies, historical documentaries, photos, trips by friends, but mostly some old pictures that I found in some of my mom's memories of New York in the 1960's and a picture of Niagara Falls when I was a young child all just made me really want to be able to go at least once in my life...I have to say, once is not nearly enough! There is so very much to see. I would never want to live there, but being there, walking down the streets, seeing things close up that I saw on television all my life and wanting so much to be there. It was so amazing.

Although, we didn't do everything that we had on our list of possibilities(not even close),  the things we did get to do will be some of the most amazing memories for the rest of my life...and I hope they are for Nathan too.

So what did we do...Well, mostly a whole lot of walking with a lot of stopping for me to take pictures. At some point Nathan made me stop stopping to take pictures...it was taking up too much time, and he thought we weren't getting anywhere fast enough.

On the Thursday we got there and got settled into the hotel and went eat supper, and found a great little bakery, Magnolia Bakery and ate dessert. Later we ventured out to just walk around. We went to Times Square. I have to say no matter how many times you see it on television, you really can not get a sense of it unless you are standing in the midst of it all. We went to the Hershey Chocolate Store, The Disney Store, and a few other stores on Times Square. We also walked near the Tonight Show Studio, Radio City Music Hall, The Rockefeller Center and the skating rink at Rockefeller Plaza, and The Lego Store.



On Friday, we got up super early and went out to the Today Show Set. It was very interesting to see how very small the filming area was. We didn't stay long because we figured that it would be better to use our time finding things we wanted to see...you know, some of the usual sites: the Rockefeller Center, Grand Central Station, the Empire State Building, some of the Museums, Central Park, just everything possible...We walked around until almost lunch time and Matt had to go to work, so after walking back to the Hotel, Nathan and I continued our explore.




We decided to brave the subway and try to go to The Brooklyn Bridge, The Memorial site for 9/11, the Statue of Liberty, Central Park, and The Natural History Museum. After standing in front of the ticket machines for the subway, one of the people working on the machines helped me buy my first metro card and gave me all the ends and outs of riding the subway...said we'd be fine and sent us on our way. We went down into the tunnels and found our first map, figured out where we wanted to head and started out on our way. We got on our first train and headed out, it was a little confusing figuring things out uptown/downtown, but it didn't seem too bad...but time was not our friend. We made it out to the Brooklyn bridge, but not exactly where I wanted to be. Nathan was a little uncomfortable with the area...It was definitely not Manhattan...We walked a while, found the financial district, but didn't find Wall Street; found the Court House and Government Buildings, walked around for a while trying to figure out which way to go to get to the Staten Island Ferry...We got lost instead and realized that we were short on time and had to go back so that we weren't late for the show that we were going to see that night. So after a bit of walking around in a circle we finally found our way down to the subway and headed back to the hotel...we made it back and felt pretty successful on our first trip out alone. Got back to the hotel got ready to leave and we were off again this time for dinner and a show.


New York Trip Part II