Midsummer Break

June 23, 2016 § Leave a comment

Tomorrow Finland celebrates summer in general, and juhannus (midsummer) and yötön yö (nightless night) specifically. It’s a magical time in the north. Even though I’m now living in the south where we don’t have nightless night to speak of, I continue to celebrate summer around juhannus time.

June 2016 Strawberries Growing

Our own strawberries growing.

Our strawberries are ripening! We already enjoyed the first ones. So good.

June 2016 First Strawberries

Also the potatos are growing fast; they’re big enough to blossom.

June 2016 Potato Blossoms

Blogwise, I’m taking July off to enjoy summer. See you in August.

Hyvää juhannusta!

A Ground Woodpecker Sighted

June 13, 2016 § 1 Comment

The other day, we saw a medium-sized bird sitting on our lawn and industriously pecking away at something on the ground. The shape was very woodpecker-like, and the coloring was a little similar, too, but on the ground…? Out came the bird book.

Flickr Rodney Campbell Northern Flicker

Northern flicker by Rodney Campbell.

(The photo above by Rodney Campbell.)

Lo and behold. It is indeed a kind of woodpecker, a northern flicker to be exact (Colaptes auratus; Fin kultatikka). It’s unquestionably the bird we saw. The distinctive chest marking and the little red neck decoration plus the spots on the sides match.

Apparently they eat ants and other insects. We surely have more than enough ants to go round; feel free to stay, friend!

New Growth

June 2, 2016 § 1 Comment

Mr. E has planted a small garden again. This year we’re getting, among other things, potatos. And not just accidental potatos either; these guys are planned.

Early Potato Sprouts

The photo above was taken three weeks ago or so. Since, they’ve definitely spurted:

Potato Sprouts Growing

The last week of May turned out to be quite hot, but so far everything in the garden is doing fine.

Volunteer Strawberry

May 24, 2016 § Leave a comment

Last year, Mr. E planted strawberries. We didn’t get any – critters got to them before us – but the plants are blossoming again. There’s even one that’s somehow gotten outside the patch:

Volunteer Strawberry

This one was among the first to have flowers; the rest have caught up in the last day or two. Here’s hoping we’ll get to enjoy some this year!

An Adorable Arm Knitting Project

May 18, 2016 § Leave a comment

Aaaaaah!

Anne Flax Twine Arm Knit Bunnies

Anne at Flax & Twine.

Such a pair of cute (and huge!) arm knit bunnies. This fun project is by Anne at Flax & Twine; go visit her blog for more pictures!

Work on the House Returns

May 12, 2016 § Leave a comment

Last fall, we had drywall cracks in the bedroom and master bath fixed by a professional since our efforts didn’t take. Unfortunately, the cracks came back this past winter. Our repair guy said that if that happened, there might be a more serious problem and we should call him back. So, we did.

Turns out that there were structural issues. A vertical support beam that should’ve been solid was build hollow instead (apparently that kind of a beam construction is called a pocket), and couldn’t bear the load. That’s why our bedroom door corners cracked. No wonder we couldn’t get them to stay away!

Adding Support Beam 1st Fl w Mark

We got a beautiful hole in the stairway wall and an added 2-by-4 for support (which I lined with orange in the photo above to see it better). Seriously, I’m not kidding about the beautiful part. This crew is so neat and tidy!

There was also a second spot where the support was inadequate. A wall continuing up through the first floor to the second was essentially floating between two floor joists, and consequently the first floor flooring had started to sag. This photo is not at its worst, but it’s noticeable:

Green Room Floor Sag

We got a new lolly post in the basement underneath the wall / sag. It required a hole to be dug into the foundation, and a lot of work, but it’s soooooo worth it not to have the house slowly fall down under you.

Basement New Support Post

Neither of us is upset at having an additional post to deal with in the basement. Sure, it’s a little inconvenient, since we’ve been used to not having a post there. However, it’s actually in a place that we’ll be able to easily accommodate – essentially just push a shelf against it and forget it’s there. And it could’ve been so much worse. (Plus, the whole house-not-falling-down-under-us thing!)

In addition, the same issues caused the floor to sink in a few places all the way upstairs by as much as 0.25” / 6 mm or so. Aaaaah! That we hadn’t noticed at all. The guys added support under the basement stair landing to combat it.

Basement Stairs w Added Support

The orange line in the photo above shows you the new support; there’s another set at the other end of the landing.

It’s such a relief to have all of this stuff done. There’s still some patching and repainting to do, and a back door rot issue to check out (hey there, mushroom from last fall and persistent ant issue), but we’re close to being done – hopefully for a good long while.

Short April Recap

May 9, 2016 § Leave a comment

End of April was busy. We had a houseguest from home for three weeks…

Finn Visit

…and, correspondingly, a lot of laundry. One day I ran out of drying rack space. Since it was sunny, I hung the two pairs of still-damp wool socks on the curtain rail to finish drying:

Socks Drying Sunny Window

Well, why not!:)

Apart from visits to area attractions, there was also out-of-state training, movies and eating out. We also played board and card games. And Mr. E got fantastic non-job-related news, plus a promising job-related lead. Life is good in that sense.

The weather has been surprisingly uneven, though. We had cool, even cold days for April (see the wool socks above!). Then the temps swung in the other direction and it was marvelously warm and sunny. Flowers have been out for weeks already, but the grass took time coming. Here are a few clumps of dandelions on a dry patch of the lawn.

Dandelions Dry Patch Mashup

I’ve never been terribly fond of dandelions, but this spring they were very welcome – that dry patch has been looking so desolate. Plenty of rain showers at the end of April and early May did the trick, though; it’s much greener now. (But it’s colder again, brr. This past weekend we were 10 degrees F / about 6 degrees C below average for early May.)

How was your April?

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