My custom designed front gate has finally been installed. It’s been an extremely time consuming and difficult project that began in 2011 with the original sloppy installation. Because it is the front gate, a custom solution was necessary. Since chain-link fencing is no longer as popular as it once was, I could not find a fencing contractor who would give me the time of day on the phone, much less show up for a meeting. They didn’t care if I had created detailed drawings with specifications. The word “custom” caused them too much brain pain. Plus using the traditional galvanized pipes and fittings would make the panels too heavy, causing them sag in the middle. So my architect Charley McKenney took my drawings to the metal artist who had created my fire screen and worked out how to create the two gate panels. It was critical that each frame corner be a sharp 90 degrees and each lace fabric panel be completely inset to the inside of the frame—not merely attached to the frame itself. Eighteen months later, January 2015, the completed gate panels were finally delivered. I had aged considerably since this whole thing started. But wait! There’s more!
Meet the Twins
These two joined our family at the first of January. Since losing Bubba, I had tried twice to adopt a frenchie, but was turned down both times. Why? I don’t know. I was encouraged to keep trying, but Bertha and I weren’t getting any younger. Filling out reams of paperwork for each dog and waiting up to two months for the rejection is not a positive experience. Besides, I am no masochist. So I looked up Bertha’s breeder, and lo and behold she had two litters ready to find families. Bingo!
Bubba Bell (2003 – 2012)
Sweet dreams my little boy. Letting you go was the only way I could make you feel better. Bertha and I will miss you terribly.
Spending Time with My Buddy Bubba
I am losing my little Bubba. After many excruciating tests, it has been determined that Bubba has an extremely aggressive form of cancer. Tomorrow we will meet with an oncologist to determine how to make him more comfortable. These last three weeks have been hell, and that includes my ten day vacation taken at the first of this month.
Back in June, I had started to notice his eyes weren’t looking quite right, but after numerous visits to the vet, all his blood work and such were excellent. Then the Thursday before I was to leave for my vacation (my first one in five years which was already very much paid for), Bubba suddenly became listless and lethargic. After rushing him to the vet, it was determined that his eyes were not moving or dilating, but again his blood tests were excellent. They suggested I take him to an ophthalmologist which I did the next day, and this doctor said that the problem did not stem from the eye and that I should take him to see a neurologist. But the neurologist would not answer my calls. Nor did they return them before I left on Monday. Shit!
They eventually caught up with me while I was in Newport, and I booked an appointment for him first thing the first morning after my return — Thursday, October 11. The news wasn’t good. Something was pressing under his brain and causing nerve damage. They did an MRI and kept him overnight, and then did a tummy sonogram. The MRI showed some deterioration in the bone under his brain. All these tests have failed to determine exactly what kind of cancer he has. The doctors suggested a biopsy, but this is risky and there’s a strong chance that it too will not be able to determine what this cancer is. I don’t want Bubba to go through any more drastic medical procedures. Even if they were able to determine what he has, the location of the cancer will prevent medication from treating it effectively.
If you’re wondering about my time in Newport… It was ok. Castle Hill Inn where I stayed was wonderful, a piece of paradise. Unfortunately, I was desperately sick the entire time with a nasty head and chest cold. The weather sucked and the fog horn boomed every 10 seconds for most of the time I was there. But I did manage to see all of the old Newport’s “cottages” from the Gilded Age. At a later date I will tell you about my GPS fiasco—multiple voices and multiple directions.
So please bear with me and understand that as long as I’m in this damage control phase, blogging will be sparse. I’d rather not blog about sad stuff, but I thought an explanation was needed for my lengthy absence.
A Prickly Assortment
For the greenhouse. It’s a start, but hardly a full house. Not only are these cacti low maintenance, but it just occurred to me that rodents may not care to dine on a prickly diet. That’s been a real problem in the past. Why is it that when a plant such as kale is planted outside, it remains untouched, but when placed inside the greenhouse, all foliage will be consumed in less that 24 hours? Maybe it’s just that they prefer to dine in rather than dine out? Ha ha, I couldn’t resist making that funny. I know. It’s lame. But, hey! Why not?
The Big Reveal!
A longtime dream has finally come true. Thank you Michael Parkey and Hadden Landscaping for the best looking backyard ever! Today the copper path lights are being installed, so you will not see them in this post’s photos. Don’t worry, I will be doing a photoshoot of them sometime in the near future. Except for the front gates, everything has been completed and is now ready for drive by viewings, and don’t be surprised if you spy me on my back screen porch sipping a cocktail and enjoying the view.
Note: You can click on each photo for a much larger version.
Backyard Progress (days 19 thru 24)
The fancy stonework has now been completed. Two expanses of random rectangular Pennsylvania stone paving in mixed colors — one at the base of the back steps and another in the front of the house — were carefully laid on a one inch setting bed of decomposed granite and compact soil. No mortar was used. Instead decomposed granite was swept into all the joints and compact surface.
Backyard Progress (days 15 thru 18)
The handmade clay brick paver work is complete, and I would now like to bore you with the technical design details of brick laying. It all started with a series of books written and illustrated by Peter Joel Harrison, who was the first to research and illustrate the historic details of fences, gates, gazebos, trellises, brick pavement, and garden walls. I won’t tell you why and how he came to do this, because you can easily find this out by visiting his website.
Backyard Progress (day 7)
Bertha, the fraidy cat. She’s the smart one peeping out. Bubba is not bright enough to consider the spring board action of the temporary ramp as dangerous. It looks like I will have to bring Bertha around to the backyard the long way for one last visit tonight before we call it a night. I don’t want either of them to go out on that ramp at night, so I’ll be sliding down the temporary door to keep them in.
Please excuse the wonky-wall syndrome in this photo. I had better shots, but this is the only one showing Bertha’s cute mug looking out.
The framing is finished, and the concrete will be poured tomorrow morning. Even though it’s a small job, the complexity required four men to work ten hours with an additional three men for the last three hours.
Backyard Progress (day 6)
Bubba and Bertha miss their old smelly deck, which was ripped out this morning and carted off. After anticipating a nasty surprise, what had been hidden all these years turned out to be nothing. No rat skeletons, no nests, no toys, no holes in the foundation, nothing. My contractor came by and coated the newly exposed wood siding with some sticky blue gunk, let it dry, and then applied the water proofing material that you see in the above photo. Earlier the demo crew made a temporary ramp for my dogs. Of course Bertha knew instantly how to use it, but that wasn’t the case with Bubba who required coaxing — placing treats at the top near their door. Tomorrow the concrete crew will be building the forms for the new back steps and the entrance to the garage. At least that’s what we have been told to expect, but I’m not going to hold my breath.