Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Ok, here's what we're tiling

So here is Steve, after building tub surround, as we tested to make sure the bathtub will fit. It will! And that's our tub! This was the first time we got a sense of what the bathroom is going to be like. It's going to be nice. There will be a glass wall on the curb, between Steve and the shower. The wall to the right will not be tiled, it is where the sink and vanity will be, and a big kind of cabinet right when you walk into the bathroom.

And here is a view from Steve's position, sitting on the toilet. The wood soffit will be painted, not tiled. The column in the corner will now be the pretty glass tile, which will also be a 6 inch band going around the near-top of the room. The walls and top of the tub will be white. The floor, and sides of the tub, will be brown. We were putting up durock from 6pm until 10 pm Friday, 7am to 9pm Saturday (well, also doing other things like prying up the durock that we'd put on the floor since the tilers are going to mud in the floor tile), and Steve was working Sunday and I finished things off for three focussed hours on Sunday evening.

Here's the tile itself, and a closeup of the shower. That shower pan took 6 months to build. Six. It would take a professional half a day probably.

We were going to have the glass tile on the shower floor, but Tiler Charlie says that's not going to work, so now we're doing brown on the shower floor. Brown will also be the floor tile in general, and go up the sides of the tub. The top of the tub and walls are the white long tile, and then the glass tile will be an accent -- as mentioned, a band around the room and then a column.

It is already so much better than last week: Remember? Toilet in center of room. Temporary bathtub on left. Nasty rug only slightly better than nasty plywood subfloor, no sink. We really lived like that for, three years?

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

toilet: the clock ticks for thee

This has nothing to do with a garden. Or Enzo. Or bicycles.

But this Saturday, we will be sealing up the walls and ceiling. And, presuming we get an early enough start, we're going to try to get the subfloor down. Which means, oh toilet in the middle of the room, you will have to come out.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Help! The lawn is balding

So the lawn is balding. It's coming out in clumps. All enzo has to do is roll around and it comes out. It must be sick. According to my research, it's probably because the roots didn't go deep enough, and that we've got nutrient poor soil. I'm not that surprised -- all I did was sprinkle a little grass seed over it, pull out the crabgrass, and hope for the best.

So I had this great plan. I'd till the ground, amending with nice rich compost from the nyc giveback. I'd smooth it out and reseed. And then sit back next spring as the lawn created itself lush, deeprooted, and carefree.

But alas, I've waited too long. Average first frost date in NYC is apparently October 27, and while global warming and this fall in particular has made things darn balmy, that's definitely less than the four to six week window recommended for little fresh grass seedlings to take root. So I guess I'm going to be watching the bald spots til spring. For the record, last frost date in NYC averages April 13.

Or maybe I'll find myself a tiller/cultivator (or convince a bunch of people that it won't be that much work if we all pitch in), and just do it anyway. Enzo and I did go out to Staten Island Saturday and got a big garbage can full of compost.... stay tuned for details.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

A Digression: NYC cycling love

Ahem. We pause from regularly scheduled garden-geeking for an important message about biking in New York City.

Let's just forget about the fact that when I returned from this particular bike jaunt I was covered in hives. And it's not to say that I don't recognize that what cycling in NYC is really about is traffic: to traffic, in traffic, of traffic. This is merely for those of you who only see potholes, taxis, and red light obstacles or endless laps of a park as what it must be like to be a cyclist in New York. There is something else. On Sunday mornings, for me and Speedy B, its like this:

Starting off from Sunset Park it's down to the promenade bike path, recently redone. On the vista and looming closer and closer is the Great Verrezano, starting point of the NYC marathon.

The path goes under the derriere of Brooklyn, a bit through Coney Island and Brighton Beach. I'll admit, it's a pretty ugly urban stretch (cutting through the Home Depot parking lot, for example). But being Coney Island, there are sometimes surprises. Or pirates. These guys look like they're in lockup after a rowdy Saturday night, eh Captain?

Then suddenly the Sheepshead Bay marina. Turkish restaurants, seaside dining, the creaking of boats in the water, and in the morning, it often has the bright smell of grilled fish. I don't even like fish. But it smells festive.
Then it's out of traffic and onto the bike path, and just as frustration heightens at being so close to the water without seeing it, a bridge. On the left, inches and a very frail guardrail separating the mangled sidewalk "bike trail" from the Belt Parkway. On the right: Behold.

Yes people. We are still in New York City. At this point, I think we've passed into Queens. But New York City.

The biketrail veers off to the Rockaways. And here I can make a gardening related comment: I would love to have these big tall fountain grasses in the backyard to obscure the ugly chain link fence, but fear that they're some kind of invasive species that will take over the neighborhood. You can see why I fear. I think they're 10 feet tall.

And this is a bit of the bike path itself.

Eventually you get to the "Gil Hodges Memorial Bridge". Gil Hodges was a Brooklyn Dodger, I recently learned. It is a main route to the Rockaways. Cue the Ramones. Here's the view from the bridge. All water and waterscape. On the left is the view back towards the city (you can see a bit of the bridge). On the right, the destination: Breezy Point at the western tip of the Rockaways -- you can just make out the sandy tip, my turnaround point.

Out in the Rockaways, its a long stretch of open quiet road, bordered by sandy dunes and ending up in the beach town of Breezy Point. And yes, we are still in New York City.

That's the turnaround point. My Sunday loop is out and back, so it's more glory on the way back, hopefully with a tailwind. But at the end, coming back up the waterfront towards Sunset Park, a great view of the harbor, the bright orange ferries headed past the Statue of Liberty, and of course, the great island of Manhattan. Thirty-five miles round trip.

The poet wrote:

Just as you feel when you look on the river and sky, so I felt;
Just as any of you is one of a living crowd, I was one of a crowd;
Just as you are refresh’d by the gladness of the river and the bright flow, I was refresh’d;
Just as you stand and lean on the rail, yet hurry with the swift current, I stood, yet was hurried;
Just as you look on the numberless masts of ships, and the thick-stem’d pipes of steamboats, I look’d.
I too many and many a time cross’d the river, the sun half an hour high;
I watched the Twelfth-month sea-gulls—I saw them high in the air, floating with motionless wings, oscillating their bodies,
I saw how the glistening yellow lit up parts of their bodies, and left the rest in strong shadow,
I saw the slow-wheeling circles, and the gradual edging toward the south.

(from Crossing Brooklyn Ferry, Leaves of Grass, 1900)

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Punk Rock Pansy

All I know is, if you're going to plant a pansy, it might as well be a punk rock "atlas black" pansy.

This is part of stoop sprucification, October 2007. Those pots were mighty scraggly. Looked for things that would flower for a little while longer. Granted right now that pansy looks like he'd rather escape to the nearest mosh pit, but he'll settle in. Didn't want to go the kale/sedum/chrysanthemum route everyone else on the block is doing, so did this: in addition to the punk rock pansy, got some pretty pink Coral Belle (diascia hybrid) to make friends with the ailing but still blooming osteospermum, and then a perennial anenome in a pretty new pot, which is about to bloom.

Saturday, October 6, 2007

Scarlet sunflower

Planted this guy late. Note to self. If planting seeds, read package. If it says it's going to be 2-3 feet tall, and it's a sunflower, don't plant it where there is nothing to lean against. These guys suffered in the peony bed, but I moved the survivors to the fence, and they're happier now. Well, at least as happy as a flower can be in what really is sunflower-hospice.

Monday, October 1, 2007

So what is this?

It made me feel a lot better about pulling weeds when I read somewhere that a weed is just the right plant in the wrong spot. Anyway. This guy has come up in a couple spots (here among what I assume is more coneflowers and the scarlet runner beans) and I wasn't sure if it might be one of those things I planted late fall last year. But looking through the old pics from the yard in 2005, I see those jagged edged leaves: hey, it was growing back then too. But now it's got those adorable white flowers. We like him. For now.

And then there are these guys. Morning glory, I'm assuming because they've got those flowers and heart shaped leaves. Suddenly appeared a week or so ago -- who knew they were even growing. A surprise. They're helping cover the ugly fence, so I don't mind at all.

Made for shade

New additions! Thanks again to Gowanus for great advice on filling up the shade garden.

New friends for the Guacamole Hosta are the shield fern (dryopteris ‘crispa cristata’), and some blue sedge (carex laxiculmis ‘hobb’).

And on the other side, we've got hardy begonia (begonia grandis ‘alba’); which reportedly will emerge late (note to self: don’t mistake it for weeds!). It has pretty white/orange flowers. And a late bloomer from august to october.

And there's a christmas rose (Helleborus niger “Josef lemper’) shade. Not sure why xmas, or rose. It will apparantly come forth with large white flowers in mar/apr. Light to moderate shade. Hope it does ok back there! And more blue sedge. The sorrel is still in there, although looking kind of sparse. Are the stray cats eating it? I moved the heuchera to the peony bed, but I think it might be too late.