Spring Cleaning

This year we’re doing our spring cleaning with shovels.

Since we’re paying for the dumpster by the day now, we decided to take a hiatus from foundation work to fill it up and send it off! Judging by the current depth, I think it’s going pretty well! We also have three rooms stripped down to the lath. The room above is going to become my big old farmhouse kitchen.

Last weekend, we came across a funny bulge in the lath while stripping the old ceiling in what will be our dining room, here:

Yes, the rooms all look about the same right now, but I was explaining the bulge. After a closer look and a little poking, we discovered that the layer of plastic laid under the cellulose insulation was full of water. We had to drain the ceiling! It wasn’t terribly dramatic, since the cellulose soaked up a lot of the water, but re-roofing the flat roof that was somewhere on our “things to do this summer” list may have just been bumped up on the priority list. On the bright side though, the plastic seems to have kept the framing from rotting. Good deal!

We pulled out an old mantel this afternoon (to be stripped and refinished) and found another stash of buried treasures:

All the things that fell down behind the mantel for over 100 years were unearthed today. Although the city records say that the house was built in 1920, we found letters and bills from as early as 1907. We also found photos, an old check for $100 (that was a lot of money in 1922!), a pair of wire-rimmed spectacles, and an electric bill for a whopping $1.36 for August of 1920. But one thing we couldn’t figure out: does anyone know what the tiny slotted spoon is for?

With spring madly springing forth here in Virginia, I’m beginning to turn my thoughts toward landscaping. It’s another of those things I have to check myself on because if I put in gardens now, we will probably end up trampling them. I can still plan and enjoy the surprises popping up out of the existing garden! First we got daffodils:

Unfortunately they stayed green even fully opened! I really don’t understand the charm of green daffodils, but they still said spring. Maybe I’ll plant a few other types to mix things up a bit for next year.

Out front the garden keeps sending up a new surprise. In the last couple of weeks the tulips have burst into bloom:

And the blue scilla was not far behind:

Soon we’ll have iris and peonies too!

I just have to tidy up a bit and fill out with a few annuals and later-blooming flowers. But those might be under there too! It’s hard to tell what else might spring up. It will also help to do a little sidewalk and patio work and get this guy out of the back yard:

All the scrubby bushes and the big trees are on one large, scary root system! Chris has dubbed it the “Stinking Chun” because we think it is a Tree of Heaven which is also called Stinking Sumac and Chun Pi. Whatever it is it looks aggressively invasive and it’s heading for our house! It ate the old fishpond on its way, sending roots straight through the brick and concrete. There are a bunch of plantings under there somewhere that have gone charmingly wild though. I’m going to see if I can save them, or at least pull them out and replant them. Off to the left of the previous photo it looks something like this (minus the stair which I tore down last week, and plus a few more leaves).

I have big plans for this scrubby little corner. This is going to be the patio off my new farmhouse kitchen. Eventually it will look a bit like this. We’ll use wood columns instead of concrete, but that’s the general idea. The window that you can just see through the jungle of Stinking Chun will be replaced by either french doors or a slider (depending on what we scrounge up when the time comes) and open on our cool and comfortable summer dining room. From the point of view of the Feng Shui of the house this is very important since this particular corner pertains to the wealth and prosperity of our home and is currently a disaster! And we bought the home from Bank of America as a foreclosure. Yikes!

Somewhere off the patio we will also have to install one of the famous Eber-Rhees wood fired pizza ovens, but I’ll tell you about that another day.


7 thoughts on “Spring Cleaning

  1. The first thing I thought of was it’s Absinthe spoon. You pour a of glass absinthe, place a cube of sugar on the spoon across the glass, and slowly drip chilled water over the sugar dissolving it through the spoon and making pretty clouds. Only thing wrong with that theory is that it would usually have a flat handle making it a little easier to balance. On another note you might want to get the Stinking Chun out of your wealth and prosperity corner.

  2. Mom love all the picures hope you guys like spring cleaning it looks like many many springs wroth to go hope you find more history treasures

  3. Love your idea of the outside area off the kitchen! Front looks great without the fence – more flowering shrubs! Good thing you all love gardening! I know you’re having fun watching as things spring up! Love checking on you all! What a great idea!

    • Thanks Katie! We’re really looking forward to bringing things together around here! Slow but sure. And definitely more flowering shrubs! Chris is eying the azaleas next door, and I’ve always been fond of lilacs

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