The Lighted Pathway

Since the pandemic hit worldwide, my mind has not been in the right place to write my current novel. It shall pass. Instead, I have been helping my other half with projects around the home, much of them waiting for the right time. We have finished many projects, and more are due. I have been sharing some of these projects on the blog. We continue to fix this old farmhouse, trying to conjure the vision we had for it. Sometimes, it feels as if the old house is not agreeing with our plans, so we listen, and find common ground. This post will be about alternative ways for outdoor lighting and security light options, while keeping a budget in mind (as we always do).

When we moved here we discovered how dark it can be at night time. Our closest neighbors have security lights through the electric company but we did not want the extra expense on our electric bill. Electricity in this area is more expensive than in Jersey, where we came from, believe it or not. We decided to go with solar lighting, which was affordable, lasting, and came in a variety of designs and prices. We decided to use solar lights around the house, at particular spots, and also along perimeters and driveway. We were not sure how it was going to work, so we started slowly, testing areas, adding lighting, until we reached a point were we were almost satisfied. My husband and I love lights, we are crazy about them, and that is why I say almost satisfied, because I know it will evolve at some point. We have found that solar lighting is very reliable as well as cost efficient, and fits our budget perfectly. Not only does it serve the purpose of illuminating the necessary areas, it also looks beautiful and brings a cozy feeling to the surroundings. If you are not sure about solar lighting, start small, test a few ideas, and keep adding to different areas over time. For us, it works fine. Here are a few pictures of some areas to give you an idea. They range from less to more needed illumination. The pictures were taken at twilight to best tell the placement/area.

The side entrance is usually more dark than the front entrance, so we placed some small solar lights around, and a few spot lights nearby. We also added a solar light on the wall next to the entrance that illuminated the entire area (not shown on this picture).

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A before picture of the same area. Nightmarish and challenging. A total run down disaster waiting for us.

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A view of the front side solar lights.

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View of the same area before – spooky charm.

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We decided to place motion lights at the four corners of the veggie garden. Many times, I have seen deer late at night. One night, I saw two large figures near the garden – two bucks fighting, each standing on their back legs.

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We had placed motion lights on poles near the faerie garden and parking area, and these proved to work great, so we decided to listen to the house and carry the theme by the entrance and driveway. The poles were painted barn red. The 6×6 poles near the fairy garden are from recycled wood. These are cut at 4 feet each, and down into the ground 1 foot. They are treated wood. For the rest of the poles, we decided to go with 4×6 treated wood. Each 12 feet pole was cut to render 3 four feet poles. We only had to buy two. These were placed in the ground at the same depth. Each pole has a solar light attached. They are always lighted but increase intensity when motion is detected, so if we are walking down the driveway at night, there is plenty of light. In this case, the house spoke. Our original plan was to do old fashioned lantern poles down the driveway, but these fit the character of the house better, as well as our pockets.

Faerie garden poles (6×6)

For the driveway, we decided to go with 6×4 treated wood. The 6-inch side facing front.

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View at night with no motion.

 

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View with motion. My husband testing the sensors.

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My husband made this for me when we first bought the house. A lighted replica of our vision. Later we decided on blue instead of red for the porch. He has to make a blue star for the replica to match the one we placed on the house, and the real house still needs a new roof, which will be blue metal.

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I hope this post was inspirational, and gave you ideas for lighting options, or inspire you to create something for your place.

 

 

The Recycled Veggie Garden

As soon as I spotted this old farmhouse, I had a vision for it. It took my other half a bit more time to see it, but from the beginning he saw the potential it had. Immediately, (as it usually is for me) tons of future images began circling my head, and those would evolve into plans. One of those plans was to have a vegetable garden. For that to happen, we had to clear out a lot of years of grown vegetation, trees, bushes, and later on decide what type of garden we wanted. That took some time and a ton of hard work, but between my husband and I, we managed to get to a point were we could plant and grow something. This garden has not disappoint me. We decided not to plant on the ground because it was easier to control growing in raise beds, and I had an issue with the many (I mean many) critters that walk/crawl around. Also we have many deer coming through so we decided to create a fenced garden. The goal was to spend as little as we could, and most materials used (except for mulch, a few solar lights, soil, and paint), are recycled/repurposed/reused. That being pots, wood, garden accessories, and décor. As of this writing, I have already harvested lettuce twice, and a few peas, the rest is still growing, but soon it will produce. This year we planted two varieties of tomatoes, peppers, three varieties of lettuce, cucumbers, carrots, potatoes, and peas. This will provide plenty for us, and to give away as well. We set up a spot in the back of the house to plant squash and pumpkins, but I am not sure how that will grow. It is not fenced and deer prance around. Eventually we will add another raise bed to this garden, as there is enough space for another one and more pots, and I think for a small portable green house as well, one that could fit into a corner. We placed a recycled shelf to use as a potting station and storage underneath. It works fine. The construction was made using recycled wood and pallets. Here are a few before and after pictures.

This is the area as it was, abandoned for many years, overgrown with all kinds of trees and bushes intertwined.

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Photo by M.A.D.

This is during clean up. The larger trees and bushes remained at that point. Before removing a tree or bush, we thought hard about it. If it was salvageable we left it, but most of them were inside a morass of weeds and three or four varieties growing together at once. So it was difficult to separate them. We were able to save a few.

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This is today. View of the area where the vegetable garden is.

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Deer wishing for a veggie bite. She is next to a tree that we were able to save.

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At night, I enjoy seeing the garden come alive as well. I placed solar lights in a few areas.

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I painted this in 2012. It is the farmhouse as I saw it, abandoned, but I saw beauty in it.

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This garden will continue to evolve with us, according to what is needed. It is in the beginning stages, but it has room to place more containers where we will grow other varieties of vegetables. There is enough space to add to it if we need to. I hope I have inspired you to create a simple garden if you have been thinking of building one. It does take work, but not a lot of money if you recycle materials. You don’t need a lot of space, and if you live in an urban area, a small area in your porch/apartment can accommodate pots or hanging baskets. You can plant something anywhere. It has been a fun and interesting project so far. For me, it is a place to grow food but also a place where I can find relaxation, a peaceful retreat, hence all the bunnies … I hope you enjoyed this post.

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Sign of the Times

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As of today, it is mandatory (yes, mandatory/law under state executive order) in Virginia to wear a mask when you are out and about in public. For a while, Virginia has had a law that it is illegal to wear a mask or face covering in public (unless needed for job, health, costumes, etc.). I find it interesting. At least for a while, it has and will continue to be part of my outfit. I never thought that the day would come when it would be a common item found near the door.

The Beauty of Creation

I believe that God made everything. The beauty of nature has no limits. I have always enjoyed watching nature, even as a kid, I would spent hours observing it, whether it was ants, butterflies, birds, the ocean … Those are some of my favorite memories as a kid. These days, many years after, I still love to watch my surroundings. It recharges me, somehow. Sometimes, one can see the hand of God in the most unusual and tiny places.

One of my favorite wild flowers dressed in the perfect blue.

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Four leaf clovers – I have found three around here so far, but I am sure there are more.

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Mushrooms are beautiful. There are so many shapes and colors.

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Acorns abound in all sizes. A perfect pair.

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Even rainy days offer surprises – water  diamonds.

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Trees present their offerings. This year we will have tons of pinecones, more than in previous years.

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Critters that play around, always welcomed.

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Nature will always be a special treat for me, a sanctuary, the perfect gift from God.

A very young me, one of many hats I’ve worn over the years.

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M.A.D.

Hope you enjoyed this post.

What recharges your soul?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When Nature Sings

Over the past couple of weeks, I have been hearing a mysterious sound, and I thought it was farming machinery at a distance. It was a cross between light grinding and the engine of a plane flying very high, far. The sound seemed to be at a distance, and it stopped when we had continuous rain for almost a week. Today, the sound came back, louder and closer. It doesn’t stop. Finally, I realized that what was making this sound were tons of cicadas, which are due to come out this year in Virginia, West Virginia, and North Carolina. It is supposed to be Brood 9, which comes out every 17 years. I had seen a few funny looking creatures with black heads and big red eyes walking around, and shells of creepy crawlers over the past week or so, and while researching them, I found out what they were, but I never put the three together, mystery sound + creepy looking shell = cicada. They seem to be clumsy flyers, and today they are everywhere. I cannot use the side entrance because they have decided to park themselves near it, and even on the steps. I guess they are coming out of the ground or from a big old tree near that entrance. I have seen them fly down, and fall down from it. They walk and they just turn over, and take an eternity to flip back over again. I have seen them stretch out their wings and legs, as if coming out of a deep sleep, looking a bit messy, later to have stretched their wings. At first, I was disgusted by their appearance, by now, I am intrigued, and even caught myself talking to one that was near the side door, on top of the railing. Did I find it cute? I think I did. Today, there were more than 10 staring at me from the side steps, and it looked like an airport out there, when the sun was shining for the first time after a week of heavy rain. My husband tried to blow them away with a leaf blower, but they kept coming back. I think they like the blue color of the railing. Thank God they are staying on that side, and I can go out if needed via the front door. I am happy to have discovered what that mysterious sound was, but I cannot wait for these critters to come out and fly away, and disappear for another 17 years. I cannot decide if I like them or not, but I don’t want them near me. I was able to take a picture of one of them. Are you seeing these where you live?

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No More Skeletons in the Faerie Garden

Continuing with the old farmhouse posts, I will do another before and after of the garden area. It had been a lot of hard work to start getting this old place into shape, and this year, it is starting to look a bit better. It has been almost five years since we moved here. For those of you who are wondering what happened to the older posts, I had an out of body experience and one day woke up wanting to make this blog only about writing. Without a second thought, I deleted all those posts and the memories with them. Later, the alien inside my brain crawled out and I realized that this approach was not working for me, and I missed the old ways. I am more a glimpse on all sides person, so I decided to bring back those glimpses on this blog. I don’t think I can get back the deleted posts, so I am moving forward with some before and after posts. Hope you enjoy these.

The faerie garden was an area that was covered in bushes and weeds. It had a large carcass of a dog or coyote (I could not tell the difference) resting on a small piece of concrete. After clearing out the brush in the area, we discovered that the small concrete area was under grass that had taken over and continue to grow atop, alongside some moss. We scraped the area and uncovered a generous size concrete circle where we decided to place some patio furniture, a grill, and create a small faerie garden, which has always been a little dream of mine. The area has a large amount of kelly green moss growing and expanding, and I have always been a fan of moss, so it happily worked out. Every year, I add something to the area, whether plantings or any decorative feature. We tried to work with was already there, and it works for us. Here are some pictures of the faerie garden area before.

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This is the area as it looked before, although we had cleared out a bit at that point, the skeleton gone. There was an electricity pole that one day just disappeared. It was puzzling; how does a gigantic pole disappears? When we inquired, it happened that when the previous owner closed her account after selling the property, the electric company came and took the pole out of the ground. I found it hilarious. Here are two different views, one of them uncovering the concrete circle.

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Here are a few pictures of the area as it is today. I am sure that we will add to it over the years, more on the form of plantings, garden lights and stones. The flowers in that area will bloom around late spring/June. It is mostly a shaded area so I am happy that something blooms.

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A closer look of the critters and mossy area.

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Viewed from another angle. Al the stones, wood, and cinder blocks were found on the property, either around or in the woods behind. We dogged out many stones. The goal was to utilize what was already there, and find a way to create areas with purpose. When we start a project, we set a very low budget, and we consider existing/found/recycled/reused/restored/vintage first before spending on new. This approach has worked out for us.

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We added solar lighting to the area by  utilizing recycled wood, and painting it. All the outdoor lighting is solar. The area continues to emerge over the years.

I hope you enjoyed this post of the faerie garden. I will post more before and after pictures of other outdoor areas/projects in the future, as well of the farmhouse work.

 

 

 

 

 

Finding Perspective In These Difficult Times

I found this very interesting, and wish to share it as well. From one of my favorite blogs – My Good Time Stories.

My Good Time Stories

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The Corona Virus has brought the world to a virtual standstill. The things that people once enjoyed doing and the places they loved to travel has all come to an abrupt halt. The virus has affected the lifestyle of every individual and family. It’s a mess out there now. It can sometimes be hard to discern between what’s a real threat and what is just simple panic and hysteria.

Consider this; did any of us think, just a few short months ago, that we would all be required to wear masks, keep a six-foot distance between each other, be told not to touch, shake hands, or even hug each other for fear of spreading this dastardly virus? Did you ever fathom the thought that businesses, gyms, theaters, salons, eateries, and other establishments would be closed and millions upon millions would be out of work? And who ever heard of…

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Of Mind and Heart

During this time, like many of you, I’ve had the opportunity to reflect and do many other things at home, alongside my husband, who is at home as well. For some reason, my mind has been scattered a bit, and my attention far away, not conducive to writing my next novel. It is a mixture of being sad, foggy, and in a cloud, that is how I can describe it best. It is hard not to pay attention to the news, and what I hear does not help my mind and heart. I have read some posts, and many of you are dealing with similar feelings, and trying to cope with your situations.

Writing my novel has not been easy, and I have been writing sporadically, but mostly, have put it aside, only to visit it again when it crosses my mind, almost calling me. For now, I have joined my husband in many projects around the home, some of which have been put aside for lack of time before. We have been working on clearing out bushes, trees, chopping branches, burning brush, taking out stumps, making pathways, and tackling the hard chores around this place. We still have a lot of work to do outside, and this time has been good for that. It has help both of us, I think, to feel a bit more centered, and productive as well. We have painted, planted seeds, made new gardening beds, made new garden areas, and also enjoyed the good weather days. Outside chores have been therapeutic.

My husband is not used to being at home, so he has dived in a plethora of projects to keep himself busy. Although these are sad times, we are trying to make the best of it, in our own way, as many of you are doing as well. I took my camera and took pictures around, of some work done, of little discoveries, of trees and old bottles … . For those of you who miss the old farmhouse posts. Nancy, this one is for you.

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We started clearing out brush to make walking trails around. That is a big project in itself, but it got started. Eventually we will frame an entrance that will have this message – Keep on the path of the Lord.

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Started a circle garden and planted all kinds of colorful flowers seeds. Some of them are already showing up. We are going to have a couple of frost mornings so I will have to cover all seeds on Friday. Hope they make it. I have yet to make another circle garden next to this one, It will be planted with sunflowers.

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A fairy garden has been completed, although I am sure that I will add more faeries to it, and other critters. It is an area with moss and where all kinds of critters are welcomed. I placed water dishes for frogs, bunnies … When we bought the place, this part was covered in weeds and bushes, and there was a carcass of a dog or coyote in it. We uncovered a beautiful mossy area, and a circle of concrete that was probably the area where patio furniture was placed at some point. We made it into a grill/patio area, and the perfect spot for a fairy garden.

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The last box for the veggie garden was built and painted. All seeds have been planted for this year. This area was also covered in bushes and overgrown weeds/grass. Little by little we have been getting rid of the untangled mess, and clearing out the place. The large pine tree in the background was covered as well, and now it is free and happy. It is as old/older than this place, over 110 years.

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This used to be a tiny rose bush that was being choked to death by overgrown weeds. We uncovered it, and it has grown into a beautiful rosebush. We had to build a trellis for it.

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The old well got a coat of paint and top. It used to be covered by bushes and grass, you could not see it. The entire place was hiding under a morass of overgrown flora. We never got to paint it after fixing it. And so did the old shed door. It was rusty, with a door hanging to one side. Amazingly, the inside has been preserved; it is the old log and mortar construction that eventually was covered with aluminum siding. As old as the home is.

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We rescued this holly tree. We found it growing in the back, under a mess. We cleaned around it, and hopefully it will do a bit better now. We might have to cut those two trees next to it.

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Trees around here seem to grow in two’s and three’s.

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This area was the driveway, and it was also covered in bushes and weeds. The grass was so tall that it hit my knees. A couple of weeks ago, we managed to clear out the last two stumps. These were chopped and burned, along with many other branches.

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Slowly, many garden areas are emerging. I have found single plantings of what might have been a long lost garden, and I have replanted some of them. This hydrangea was the inspiration for the blue paint we used on the place. There was no garden. I have more plans for other areas, little by little. There is a perfect spot for a rain garden.

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I took this picture last year. The garden was starting to come alive. This year it has come back stronger. This area will have stone where the wood panel is for now.

Here are a few before pictures of the area. I had forgotten the nightmare. On another post, I will share some more. I don’t want this post to run too long.

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The old shed as it was before, at the point of being cleared of weeds. We had to make a pathway to get to it.

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Here is the driveway as it used to be. You could not even see the road.

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The old well in the process of being cleaned up. All around the place the grass was brown; now it is green and even feels like carpet under your feet.

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Little by little we uncovered the place, house and everything else. In this picture you can see a bit of white if you follow the path my husband carved to the right. That was the shed before it was cleaned up.

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The old farmhouse starts to emerge. There was even a concrete pathway. It has been tons of work but rewarding.

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This picture was taken two years ago around Christmas time.

I hope this hasn’t been too boring or too long. It has been quite a journey, a labor of love by two people. We still have tons more work to do. The old roof was coated and painted, but we need to install a new one. The interior was finished. I will continue with the before and after of the place on a couple more blog posts. In the meantime, I hope you enjoy these pictures of the progress so far.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Reflection

The stay at home order here in Virginia extends until June 10, so far. There is no doubt that this time has been sad and challenging for so many people in so many ways. I don’t think that there is anyone on this planet that has not been touched in one way or another, whether health, grief, loss, financial issues, isolation … so many ways. It has also been a time to pause and reflect on many things. Also, a time for enlightenment in so many levels. For me, I have seen so many blessings in my life, and also on the outside world. My eyes have been keened; it is the only way I can describe it.

I have always been grateful to God for so many things in my life; however, I have discovered many more during this time. I have also seen another side of humanity, a better side, one that I thought had been lost. My faith in it has been renewed. We have learned to appreciate everyday little details, things that we have been taking for granted – touch, company, face to face conversations, gatherings, health, outings, the free outdoors, the freedom to walk around without reserve, and normalcy, whatever that was for you. Just think of the “joy” and/or relief you feel when you see that roll of toilet paper at your grocery store. It may sound as a joke, but doesn’t that feel different now? Our routine, our life has been halted and flipped upside down. Thanks to that, most of us have been able to see better. We appreciate more the work and dedication of so many people, the ones that out of the sudden we call “essential workers.” If we ever looked down on many of those jobs, now we see how meaningful these occupations were. These people were always there, but now we see them better. Now, we call them heroes. Now, we can see better.

Yes, we also have the people who are still thinking about “me, myself, and I” – their modus operandi. The ones who protest about having to spend time at home for over a month. The ones who say, “I’d rather die from Covid-19 than live like this” (yes, someone actually said that when interviewed on the local news). The ones who say, “I already got it; I don’t have to worry.” The ones who cannot stay just a few more weeks home, social distancing, because they are not having “fun.” I think that most people are on the same page, but for those who are not, it has never been about you, or your life, or your body/health, or your fun. It is about the other, your parents, your siblings, your kids, your grandparents, your neighbors … even your pets. You are staying home for them, not for you.

Our first responders, doctor, nurses, aides, grocery store employees, gas attendants … are as human as we are. They get tired, they get hungry, they get sad, they cry, their bodies hurt from those long hours, their hearts feel; they too, have human limits. Don’t take them for granted. They have made their calling a priority at this time. They don’t have to be there for you or me, but they have chosen to do so.

It is easy to yell and protest about “my rights,” but not so easy to see the thin line that exists between our rights and those of our neighbor. It has never been about you, or me.